Age of Wonders Planetfall is a hybrid between Civilization 6 and XCOM. It has the base building, expansion, and economy that XCOM lacks but still has the intense turn based tactical battles that are very similar to XCOM. But don’t expect long, drawn out battles like XCOM has. Most battles are over in 5 to 6 turns.
In this game combat is unavoidable so knowing the best way to handle it is essential. True to most of the games along this style of play target elimination is usually the best option when fighting. Target elimination means eliminating as many enemies as you can as quickly as you can, which usually starts with the weakest enemy units.
It is better to position yourself to have multiple shots on one weaker target versus good shots on many targets. This gives you a numerical advantage more quickly. A weakened enemy still does the same amount of damage as a healthy unit, so taking them out first will mean less firepower directed at your troops.
Of course you need a strong economy to support the military forces you need for combat. Take a look at my Age of Wonders: Planetfall Economy page to learn how to grow your economy.
Always take the time to position melee units properly and don’t attack unless you have a clear military advantage. If using melee units against enemy ranged units encourage your enemy to move and attack first. This reduces the amount of action points he has to attack you with, meaning you’ll take less damage and will have more action points available for a counterattack. Make the enemy waste action points moving into position for an attack.
Stunning a unit is another good option too. When a unit is stunned it cannot move or use any actions for that round of combat.
Retreat is a useful option as well, don’t forget to use it if in a losing situation. It’s also good to use if you’re winning but have one weak unit and you want to save it by sending it to safety so it can live to fight another day. To retreat a unit move it to the backward pointing arrows behind your forces. A good reason to protect weakened units from extinction is the experience gain they receive from surviving combat. With enough experience they can gain added bonuses.
Try to make good use of cover while positioning your units. If you’ve played XCOM cover will be very familiar to you in this game. The higher the percentage of cover the more your units are protected. Cover is your friend. Use full cover to protect your units as much as possible and use it as much as possible when closing in on the enemy. Remember that melee units have good stagger resistance. Moving next to an enemy unit and then going into defense mode can be a good option in case of a counter strike.
Charge from cover with melee units from two or three sides to get flanking bonuses. Increase the mobility of melee units so they can get to the target faster, resulting in less damage taken. Always coordinate your melee attacks with ranged units whenever possible. You can support your melee units with your own ranged units. Snipers are always a very good option for this.
Other “Expresso Shots” you might like:
Tactical combat in this game is turn based and the defending units get the first move. Combat progresses in rounds, with each side taking its turn (defender first) until a victor emerges.
One great strategy is to let the AI teach you how to fight. Try auto combat at first and if you win (or even if you lose) watch the replay. You’ll see a full-blown, step-by-step, replay of the action. It even shows you what ops were used and what your supporting units did, like healing units or obscuring a unit. If you want to try and do better than the AI you can replay the battle to see how it comes out.
When combat is initiated a combat preview is shown. All your units and opposing units are shown in the preview and you can see how strong your forces are and compare them to the enemy’s strength. When combat is initiated the “Adjacent Hex Rule” will be used, meaning any forces in nearby hexes will also join the combat. The preview will also give you the choice to either fight the battle manually, use auto combat, possibly negotiate your way out of combat, or retreat. There will also be an estimation about your chances to win the battle, such as “Low Risk Battle.”
If you select the Auto Combat option you’ll receive as very unsatisfying message the combat was either won or lost but selecting the “Watch Replay” option will give you a view of the entire combat sequence. Auto combat is a good way to speed up battles you know you’re going to win. And if you lose, you can retry the combat yourself to see if you can do better, so this is a low risk option.
If you choose “Manual Combat” you’ll have the chance to start the combat tutorial if you’re new to the game. During combat you’ll have 3 action points per turn for ability use. The range of movement for the selected unit is displayed on the ground in different colors, representing how many action points will be used. A set of hexes in red means all your units action points will be used if you move into those hexes.
Combat User Interface
The Combat User Interface has a character details pane in the bottom left corner thar shows how much armor a unit has, morale status, how many hit points a unit has left (health), how many move points are left, shield status (if the unit has shields), the mods the unit has available and how many action points are left.
In the center bottom part of the screen the actions the unit can take are displayed. While some of these actions are universal, like movement, other options change based on the unit selected. For instance, if the hero Adam McKinley is selected Void Blades will be available.
In the bottom right corner are the operational details. If they’re available click the “Launch A Special Operation” icon and a list of available special operations will be displayed. Click on the operation you want to use and then click on “Select” and if necessary, select the area where you want to deploy the Special Operation. Combat continues in rounds with the defender always going first until one side is either destroyed or retreats.
During Manual Combat you still have the option of toggling auto combat on and off, which is part of the operational details screen. If you’re unsure what your next move should be toggle the auto combat button to “On” and let the AI move for you, it does a pretty good job. You can leave it on for as long as you think is necessary before turning it off again.
Shot accuracy is very important. Highlight your target to see your percentage of scoring a hit. Pressing the control key brings up details so you know why the percentage is what it is. With a low percentage shot there is the possibility of hitting your units with “friendly fire” as well if they are close to the line of fire. Instead of a total miss you also have the chance to graze an enemy, which does 50% of the damage a direct hit would do. Judicious use of firepower is advised when taking a low percentage shot!
Research is another factor. One of the best options at the start of the game is in the military tree, which is Subjugation Ordnance. This gives you the Shredder bomb which is pretty effective against multiple targets at once. In the Society research tree try to get Operational Effectiveness. This gives you a lot more tactical op points.
Going after the Technologist doctrine is a priority as well. This adds two more tactical op points and makes the ops 25% cheaper, great if you engage in a lot of combat. Doctrines are used to make units more powerful and effective.
Hero units give big boosts to an army. Your heroes should be designed to support your army. For example, if you have an infantry with a hero then buff up his infantry commander abilities.
If you have a hero unit with good evasion you can send him in to absorb fire, more shots will miss him than would normally miss your melee units, thus allowing them to take less damage as they advance. Use a hero with good healing as well to heal up your armies.