You’ve hired and trained your Scout and have sent them out to examine the world. Your city is starting to grow as you build farms to support your population and barracks to maintain your growing army. Now that you’ve explored the vast resources, encounters, and potential settlements that your map has to offer, you’re left with the second “X” in “4X”, which is:
It’s time to start training a Pioneer. Pioneers are units that can move with reasonable speed across the map and build settlements on fertile tiles. You’ll want to settle on tiles that are by shards and other important resources (such as metal, clay, and crystal). It is important to expand so that you are able to amass more magic, resources, and units to aid in your impending fight against the Sorcerer King. Pioneers can also build outposts, which are helpful when you find a wayward shard that needs extra defense (and you could certainly use the extra mana it provides!).
There are a few things you will want to keep in mind as you begin to expand your influence:
Expanding will start to draw attention from the Sorcerer King
You can only build a city on a fertile tile
Outposts consume logistics
Outposts and cities will spawn roads
Expanding and building will level your cities
The Sorcerer King has tolerated your existence for awhile now, but he won’t put up with any pesky insurrections. They’re annoying and they interfere with his plans to become a God. While your goal is to be enough of an annoyance to thwart his plans, angering him and drawing his wrath too early in the game can spell some major disaster for you (and for the rest of the world for that matter!). It’s important to know that the bigger your kingdom grows, the more likely the Sorcerer King is to start doing something about it.
New cities can only be built on tiles that can grow food (which is indicated by a small grain icon on the tile). Tip: Did you know that cities can be enchanted? Your Sovereign will be able to learn spells that can enhance your city’s resource growth, the strength of the units it produces, and more! Do not overlook the importance of city enchantments. They consume mana, but they can be a game changer later on.
As you expand your influence and build cities in new areas, you may find that it’s outside of your Zone of Control (ZOC). This means you may have to stop and clean out the local bandits and lurking monsters so that you can take control of the space in order to build. It’s a messy job, but that’s what you have a Champion for, right? Tip: Your champions are powerful, but are definitely still mortal. Make sure to check the combat rating of any mobs you choose to encounter as you expand. You don’t want to get too far in over your head too early and have to suffer the +25 Doomsday penalty it will cost you to resurrect your Champion.
Pioneers are also able to expand and increase your ZOC by building outposts. Because outposts consume logistics, you don’t want to build too many of them. Tip:You can actually upgrade your Outposts by sending more Pioneers to them. When I spoke with Adam, one of the game’s developers, he suggested that I stick to building outposts near shards since building on the shard will benefit me more than just having a wayward outpost somewhere. Amassing more shards is always a good thing because it bothers the Sorcerer King, and we really like being a bother to him.
One of the biggest benefits to building more cities and outposts is that they spawn roads! ...yeah, it certainly doesn’t sound like an exciting or an impressive thing, but roads can be extremely helpful. Really! Roads allow your units to move much faster than they would be able to otherwise, which is great when you need to get someone from point A to point B quickly (there is also the Cloud Walk spell for that, which consumes mana but is awesome).
The final thing to remember as you expand your kingdom is that cities can gain levels. Whenever a city gains a level, it allows you to choose one of the surrounding tiles to add to your ZOC. Many of the tiles have additional food, production, or essence that is extremely important for maintaining your city as it continues to grow. Gaining city levels will also open up more build options, which is only ever a good thing.
As your kingdom begins to grow, you will start to open up more options and encounters, not to mention further interactions with the Sorcerer King. Keeping an eye on your cities and all they have to offer will help prepare you to face all of the trials ahead.