Elemental for dummies

Compilation of some info about Elemental

By on January 27, 2010 8:26:11 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums


Join Date 07/2006
Elemental for dummies
This is a “small” compilation of information about Elemental: War of Magic. It's purpose is to have some basic and core information about the game. It's not supposed to be the definitive guide to the game but help to know about the different elements of the game: from what is Elemental to how do the cities work (in general terms with some examples).

Tech references are based on Kingdoms, which is what I have played most. Will update properly as I get to play with the Empire as well as trying to add descriptive pictures to illustrate some points.
Welcome to Elemental

You are the sovereign.

Your people need you. So-called “adventurers” have entered the forbidden dungeon of Ithyrl and unleashed the long banished demon Kroxir, killing them in the process. Lord Ventir menaces your southern border with his army of death knights. The Sorceress Procipinee has claimed your northern cities as being part of her domain and the ancient dragon Smarag has agreed to aid you if you recover her eggs that were stolen by a different party of adventurers.
It's all in a day's work in Stardock's new epic strategy game, Elemental: War of Magic.

Customization, Magic, Warfare, Empire Building and more

Design your sovereign in terms of talents, class, even what he (or she) looks like. Learn spells of increasing power to unleash on those who oppose you. Found new cities and build them up by researching new technologies, recruiting specialists or trading knowledge with other Kingdoms. Send your champions on holy quests to recover ancient artifacts, gain allies, or recover the great wealth lost during the Cataclysm.

A strategy game in an RPG world

In Elemental, you design and train your soldiers, archers, knights, magicians and more. With a vast storage of lore developed in collaboration with publishing giant Random House, Elemental ensures that every game is a completely new experience.

Overview and key features

Elemental: War of Magic is a turn-based strategy game set in a world of magic, warfare and intrigue. In it, players take on the role of a powerful sorcerer known as a “Channeler”.

Players found new cities, research new technologies, study spells, build a family dynasty, engage in diplomacy, fight wars, go on quests and much more as they strive to overcome all enemies and dominate the world.

  • A strategy game in an RPG world.
  • Randomly Generated Maps.
  • 10 Unique Factions (or create your own).
  • In-Depth unit and character design.
  • Tactical Battles.
  • Rich, story-driven campaign developed by Random House’s Del Rey.
  • Incredible replayability.
  • Single player or Multiplayer against up to 16 players.
  • Plays on very low end hardware.
  • Takes advantage of the latest hardware.
  • Massive modding support.
  • From the people who brought you Galactic Civilizations and Sins of a Solar Empire.
Editions, 64-bit version
and retail availability

There is the standard edition to the game that can be bought here (about 30€/$39.95). And for those who want some extras, there is also a Limited Edition of the game here (about same price as standard).

Limited Edition Extras:

  • 18"x26" Elemental poster
  • Hiergamenon (World Guide)
  • Elemental music CD
  • 18"x26" Canvas map of the Elemental campaign world
  • Pewter Elemental dragon

About a 64 bit version of the game, the big advantage for 64-bit for Stardock is that they can address more than 2 gigabytes of memory which allows them to stuff a lot more visual effects, textures, and elements into the game as well as support much larger maps, more units displayed at once, etc. Currently there is no 64 bit version but it was planned to make one some time after release. If it's finally done, there wouldn't be a need to buy an extra version of the game. If you were to install the game through Impulse, it would install the proper version for your system automatically (installing the 64 bit one, once it's out, if you system could handle it).

The game is not available in Europe's retail stores, needing to buy it through Impulse.

Artwork Style

(1) Stardock looked for a style that wasn't done before. They took inspiration from the realistic shapes, soft washes and graphical penwork of Alphonse Mucha. (2) Part of the reason they picked the style they did was the contrast between the wide swatches of color with spots of detail where necessary. Which is perfect for a game where you want to immediatly know where the important parts of the map are. You see a huge, spwawlying town and it feels important, opposed to it just being another busy spot on an already busy composition.


(1) Once, legend says, the world of Elemental was filled with magic. All peoples made use of this sorcery; with it, they built great kingdoms – Malaya in the south, Hallas in the west, fabled Al-Ashteroth in the East – raised splendid palaces, magnificent civilizations.

Then came the Titans, immortal beings who sought control of Elemental, and the magic contained within it. They waged war amongst themselves, and in the process turned men into their vassals - and worse. Seeking control of the world’s enchantment, in the end, they all but destroyed it. At the last of the great battles they waged, the land itself was broken. Civilization perished, and the Titans vanished from the world entirely. There were survivors. This is their story.

Elemental was once a world full of magic until the Titans arrived and trapped all the magic into crystal shards. Now, after a war that defeated the Titans and ravaged the world to near extinction, the only beings able to use magic are a few people who can channel the crystals' magic through them.

These Channelers are gathering people to create their own Kingdoms or Empires, becoming Sovereigns. The Sovereigns of the Kingdoms channel magic through the power of Life while Sovereigns of the Empires do it through the power of death. In both cases, their magical influence restores the land in their territories and shape the enviroment to that channeled magic.

The different factions, lead by their Sovereign, can build cities to attrack survivors from “The Cataclysm”, rediscover lost technologies, research spells, stablish diplomatic relations with other factions, recruit Champions to their cause, take quests for the fame and glory (and the loot!), suffer the consequences of careless adventurers... In the lands lay the different crystal shards that once controlled allow the Sovereign to increase the power of his spells. The Sovereigns can marry and have heirs that can be married with the offspring of other Sovereigns to create ties. Champions can be imbued by their Sovereign with the ability of becoming channelers too at the expense of their Sovereign sacrifying some of his own Essence. All your units are as you design them, wearing the equipment that you assigned to them. The world is filled with wandering Champions, monsters, resources and old ruins. Etc.

You can win by destroying all your opponents but that's not the only way. You can make your way to victory through diplomacy, researching the Spell of Making or completing the Master Quest.

Sovereign customization

Although you can choose a Sovereign between one of the ten default Sovereigns, you can also create your own Sovereign. For the creation of your custom Sovereign you have many available options, some of which are purely cosmetic.

You can start by generating a random name for your Sovereign or giving him one of your choice. From there you can continue by selecting which of the Elemental's races your Sovereign belongs to and the sex of the Sovereign. The race is almost a cosmetic choice (affects clothing options, not that you are going to be dressed with just clothing for too long) as some equipment items won't actually appear based on a combo of race and sex (bug and/or minor feature). Sex is also almost a cosmetic choice as the only difference in gameplay terms is that you can only marry with Champions of the opposite sex (women starting with Janusk have an edge).

For game affecting stuff you get some tabs in the Sovereign creation screen that are much like an RPG. You get a pool with some character points and those character points can be spent purchasing ranks into the different stats (Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence and Charisma) or any of the exclusive spellbooks available, getting some talents that provide bonuses for different areas (like producing extra food or research), choosing a background for the Sovereign (his past, like if he was a Bard, a member of the Royalty or maybe an adventurer) and selecting weakenesses to get extra characters points in exchange of adding some kind of penalty for your Sovereign (like not being able to have as many children as others or getting penalties on diplomacy). If you have some spare points, you could even buy some basic pieces of gear (some leather armour or maybe a club).

There is also more to that, being able to select things like the face of the Sovereign, his hair, the shape of the eyes, the colour of the skin and hair, different types of clothes and their colours (main and secondary ones, some pieces don't use them).

Factions and Allegiances

The game comes with ten default factions. These are the "civilizations" or "nations" you can play with. You can even create your own in the Workshop using the Faction Creator tool.

All these nations belong to one of the alliegances of the game: Kingdom or Empire. These alliegances are like a way of life, a way to see the world and intereact with it. Kingdoms and Empires have different points of view about how to organize their nations, deal with the neighbours,... and when talking about magic, Kingdoms follow life magic while Empires follow death magic.

In Elemental, each faction is lead by a Sovereign, has an allegiance (Kingdom or Empire) and a race (Men or Fallen). For example, Pariden is a faction that has Procipinee as their Sovereign, has a Kingdom allegiance and men as a race.

Elemental's canon factions are:

(3) The Kingdoms
  • The Kingdom of “New” Pariden
  • The Kingdom of Altar
    (Usurper Amarians)
  • The Kingdom of Capitar
    (“Capitarans”/“The Diplomats”)
  • The Kingdom of Gilden
    (“Ironeers”/“Merchants of Iron and blood”)
  • The Kingdom of Tarth
(4) The Empires
  • The Empire of Umber
  • The Empire of Resoln
  • The Empire of Yithril
  • The Empire of Magnar
    (“Magnars”/“Demon Elves”)
  • The Empire of Kraxis
    (“Krax”/“Blood Traitors”)
(5) The Kingdoms play much like a traditional 4X game.  You build city improvements to get benefits to your city. You train up soldiers hoping they’ll get better and better. It is a civilization based on laws and rules.

The Empire has taken a different path. Their soldiers don’t gain experience. However, they can train up special, powerful units (Guardians, Enforcers, and Sions). There is no tradition of civics in the Empire. The Empires can harvest fewer special resources in the world. To make up for this, the Empire can build hog farms adjacent to their farms. The Empire also scoffs at the Civics concepts of markets. Deals are made on the basis of leverage alone. Prestige is generated by showing respect to those who have seized power such as statues to great figures such as Lord Kir-Tion and Curgen the Dred’nir. The Empires focus on Domination. Finding and re-learning knowledge scattered throughout the world. The Empire, dominated by the races of the Fallen and the lone race of men with the strength to embrace the philosophy of the Empires (Kraxis) gain knowledge and strength from going out into the world and seizing it from others. Dangerous places have great knowledge and the Empire is particularly skilled in finding that knowledge.

Custom factions get a tool in the Workshop of the game. In it we can give name to our faction, a crest, an alliegance, the race it will use, advantages and disadvantages for them and even the colours that the faction will use.

Races: Men and fallen
(1)We have the races and the classifications. About classifications, there are Men and there are Fallen. Men are sentient humanoid beings that are “natural”. Fallen are beings that were created by the Titans. The Sentient Fallen were created using Dragons and Men in parts – sometimes mixed in with other stuff. When Master of Magic was developed, such talk of “Fallen” would probably have seemed totally the realm of “magic”. Today, however, we can imagine a day where scientists begin using DNA from various animals to make “better” humans. That’s basically what the Fallen are as a classification.

In Elemental, the world of “Men” is a broad classification. The Ironeers are men but in another universe they might be called dwarves. But Ironeers in Elemental are men. There are 5 races of “Men” and 5 races of “Fallen”. Each is quite different from one another. In Tolkien terms. The Kingdoms would include Men, Elves, Dwarves. The Empires would include Orcs, Saruman version Orcs, and the Easterlings.

(2) The race of men long ago were split into two parts – west and east. The west fought the Titans and lived on the fringes of civilization due constant wars with the much more powerful Titans and their allies. The east served the Titans until Amarian (the Emperor) rose up with the might of his empire in the east and allied himself with the Elas’nir in the final battle. After the cataclysm, the remnants of his empire fled to the west to escape from the wrath of the Fallen and the Krax (men who remained loyal to the Titans). Amarian’s people aren’t a race per se, they’re really just a collection of people from the east and hence aren’t particularly distinct. On the east, there are two distinct races. The Mancers and the Ironeers. The Mancers are by far the most common with Altar, Capitar and Tarth (once part of Capitar) of that race. In later days, Altar becomes a predominantly Amarian but that story is for a different day.

Selectable races are:

Men Amarian
Ironeer Tarthan
Mancer Krax
Wraith Trog
Urxen Quendar
Cities of Elemental
Sovereigns and Pioneers can create cities, thus creating a town hub.  There are five levels a hub can go through - they start as outposts, then upgrade to hamlets, villages, towns, and cities.  At each upgrade point you'll get eight new tiles to build improvements on - and your city will be able to support more efficient improvements that it couldn't before.

Another feature of cities is that they are (mostly) auto-upgrading.  If you expand your city to a village and you have the Housing technology researched, then all your huts will upgrade to houses - instantly, and for free.  Your city needs to be at the proper level and you must have the technology researched in order for this to happen. Because of the hard forty-tile limit you can't just throw more out there - non-optimal improvements will literally be a detriment to your city.

Crafting a good city is going to be a continual series of trade-offs rather than a forever-growing list of improvements. And as the city grows and the game progresses, you will find yourself continually repurposing your cities rather than building new ones.

(1) Some general design philosophies:
  1. Food is global because it's consistent (i.e. other games have "global money") and because it provides greater strategic options to players. The reason every TBS game seems to end in a grind is because each city is a civilization unto itself. There is no real thought in what city you should take first.  In Elemental, there is a reason to go after a particular town because resources are global.
  2. Housing exists to enable control of where population goes.
  3. Prestige exists to control how fast population grows and to control influence and to affect neighboring enemy cities in a way that is simple and intuitive (why are my people visually leaving Arnete for Vilos? Because Vilos has a prestige of 8 and Arnete a prestige of 2).
  4. In the case of a food shortage, the cities that grow the most food locally are going to be fine compared to their urban neighbors that have to import it. If it worked otherwise you suffer an uncanny valley situation.
  5. Sieges should mean something significant. It's not about forcing players to "control the countryside" via game rules but rather provide a simple and intuitive reason to control the countryside - if you don't control the countryside, your opponents can deprive your kingdom of vital resources.
  6. Paying for "stuff" up front allows the game to have a broader set of features (i.e. the user doesn't feel like they're running a spread sheet). Thus, having houses consume food or units consume resources to be built allows us to have quests, NPCs, sophisticated city building without the game becoming ungainly.

(2) Food isn't stockpiled presently. It's based on your production because it's perishable. (3) They very much want to stay away from the micro management of food. It isn't fun. The reason other resources can be stockpiled is because you use them when you build something. People, by contrast, continue to consume food.

Global resources are based on non localized resources. You can produce 30 units of food in one city but that food goes to a global pool from which any of your cities can use to construct more houses. Wood (actualling falling in the Materials pool), iron (it has its own pool), crystals (own pool too)... can be gathered from any point of the map (with cities or Pioneers) and used anywhere else without transportations or any other type of limit beyond the cuantity available. i.e. If you build a mine in one place, you'll get 1 iron ore each turn and since the very first turn you will be able to use that iron even if the city that pretends to use it is in ther other side of a huge map.

You can build on resources tiles that are inside of the area of influence of any of your cities. Whenever one of those resource tiles can be built by you, it will get a big red exclamation mark to let you know of such event. If the resource tile is close to the city, it will be sorrounded by the city walls and get it's protection. If it's not, you will control it but it won't be protected by the city walls and could be destroyed by monster or enemy armies. You could prevent that by leaving some troops protecting the tile.

We can connect cities using Caravans. Once we research them in the Civics research tree, we can build one for city. Once built, we can select them and the city to which they should go and create a trade route. If they reach their destiny successfully, a road will be created. Merchants will travel between the two cities and can be attacked by enemies that cross them.

Once you have at least a city and while you are in the area of influence of your Kingdom/Empire, you can buy items from The Shop. This shop will offer many different items based on your research done. It may start selling only some pork, a log and a shirt, but with enough research, your Sovereign and his Champions will be able to buy any weapon, armour or magic item you have researched: Claymores, Heavy Plate, Magic Rings... And you can always sell the old stuff your characters are carrying for some extra Gildar.

This is a list of resources that can be found or used in the game:

  • Specialists (Population): You can only build the buildings for which you have enough population to work in them. Also when you recruit units in a city, they are substracted from the current population of that city. No people = not possible to recruit there.
  • Gildars: the gold coins of Elemental. You can get Gildars from quests, from loot found in the wastelands or by tax buildings in your cities. Used to pay for some buildings, recruit troops and pay their wages, recruit Champions, buy equipment for your Sovereign and Champions in the Equipment Shops or to buy whatever you need form your neighbours in the Diplomacy screen.
  • Food: be it wheat, honey or an apple, it's what you need in order to be able to get cities to grow in population. Used to pay for some buildings like Housing. One of the most important resources as without it, you cannot build homes for the new population..
  • Materials: basically wood but can include clay and stone if you get the proper resource tiles for them. Used for some buildings, weapons and armours. The easiest resource as by default you start with the possibility of building a Workshop that produces Materials each turn.
  • Metal: used to create iron weapons and armours.
  • Horses/Wargs: used as mounts for your units, champions and Sovereign. Currently no differences between them, they both add combat speed and movement, except that horses are used by the Kingdoms and Wargs by the Empires.
  • Crystals: used in the creation of magical objects like Rings.
  • Diplomatic Capital: produced by Embassies, it's used for trading for other resources in the Diplomacy screen and to determine the Diplomacy strenght of your faction.
  • Mana: It's used to cast spells and pay the upkeep of enchanments and summons that you channelers may have cast. Each Sovereign produces 2 points each turn and more can be gained by constructing temples on Shards and other means.
  • Shards: the Elemental Shards produce extra Mana for their owner and they may be uased as requirement for some spells.
  • Elementium: rare magical metal ore discovered through Adventuring. Used for the most powerful items. Very rare so don't hold your breath waiting for it to appear.
Researching technologies

After the Cataclysm, much of the old knowledge was lost. One of your priorities is to rediscover that knowledge using scholars that can recover it. In Elemental there is a technology tree with five categories and altough you can select in which category do your research, you cannot select what will be researched.

When you select one of the categories, you can see a list of possible techs that could be the result of your research. That list of possible techs is colour coded by their rarity (gree = common, yellow = uncommon, red = rare). When the research is finished, some techs of that list will be offered to you so you can select one as the researched tech. The techs offered will be randomly selected and influenced by their rarity.

Each new level of each category requires more time than the previous to be researched. This can be quite important when deciding if to pursuit the research of some rare tech. To increase your research capacity you need to build infraestructure that allows the reseach, like Studies or Schools. You can also hire scholar champions that will give bonuses to your research.

Kingdoms and Empires have the same number of categories. Those categories have different names though and offer different technologies to research.

  • Civilization/Imperium: allows to research elements related to city development and resource exploitation.
  • Warfare/Conquest: allows to reseach elements related to army development like new weapons, armours, barracks, bigger armies...
  • Magic/Sorcery: allows to research elements related to magic like new research buildings, new spellbooks or magic items.
  • Adventure/Domination: allows to research elements related to exploration of the map, new resources, quests or recruiting Champions.
  • Diplomacy/Cooperation: allows to research elements related to treaties, recruitable creatures on the map or Diplomatic Capital.
The magic system

Magic in Elemental can only be used by those able to channel it from the Shards scattered over the world. It doesn't require to control any Shard, just that ability to channel it. That ability is known as Essence. All the Sovereigns are Channelers because they have Essence. Champions can be imbued with Essence by a Sovereign and become Channelers themselves.

There are many different spellbooks in the game. Sovereigns get by default one spellbook based on their alliegance (Kingodms get Life Spellbook and Empires get Death Spellbook). In the Sovereign creation screen, you are offered four spellbooks that cannot be obtained later but that the player can buy for some points in this phase. The rest of spellbooks are unlocked through research in the Magic/Sorcery categories and there is one unlocked through quests.

Spells are divided in two groups: Strategic and Tactical. Strategic spells are the ones used in the main map of the game. From a glyph that gives extra life to the enchanted character to teleporting anywhere in your realm. Tactical spells are those used in Tactical Battles and include not just damage spells but also spells that allow healing, lower defenses or avoid counterattacks.

Spells can have requirements to be able to be cast by your Channelers. One possible requirement is to control one or more Shards of a type, like a Fireball requiring you to control 1 Fire Shard to be able to cast it (you can research it any case). The other requirement, and that Sovereigns ignore, is Intelligence score. If the Channeler doesn't meet the intelligence requirement of the spell, he won't be able to cast it.

To cast spells you need Mana. Your Sovereign generates a small amount of mana each turn. You can get more by getting a special talent during Sovereign creation if you use a custom Sovereign. Shards you control and in which you have built a temple will provide you with more Mana too. With some research, it's possible to unlock more buildings that provide Mana in cities that control a Shard.

Altough the Sovereign starts with a few spells, to get more spells it's needed to research them. For this reseach, you can build laboratories and other types of buildings that give spell research points. In your general spellbook you select the spells you want to research (queing them in the order you want them to be researched). There are five spell levels and you start at the first one, so if you want to research spells of higher level, you must research first those new spell levels selecting them like if it was one spell. One a new spell level is researched, all the new available spells will be added to your general spellbook for you to research.


Champions are characters that you can recruit to serve you. They roam the world, have different skills and attributes, and can be hired by different amounts of money depending on their power.

All the Champions start with some equipment, which ranges from very basic to medium (if they are powerful). Some have combat skills (ignoring defense for example) that can be used during combat with a cooldown period that determines how often it can be used. Others have skills that provide Prestige to your cities, gold each turn or a bonus to food in the city he stays.

Champions can gain experience in battle and level up the same as Sovereigns. Then you get 3 points to increase ny of their stats as you wish.

Champions of the opposite sex to the Sovereign can be proposed for marriage by the player. Depeding on the reputation score of your realm, the Champion may accept or not. The Sovereign can marry only once and once married, and while both are alive, will eventually start founding the new dynasty with some babies. The number of babies is four (less if you picked Ugly for the Sovereign).


As the Sovereign of your realm you will have the opportunity to get married with one Champion of the opposite sex and have some children. Once married, and randomly, each turn you may get a newborn child as part of your bloodline. The new babies won't be on the map but you can check them out in the Dynasty screen. After some dozens of turns, the babies will reach maturity and be available as Champions in your Capital. They will have some random stats and talents based on their parents (boys from their father and girls from their mother).

The children of a Sovereign can be used as regular Champions: leveling up as they gain experience, buying equipment for them in shops or casting spells if they are Channelers. But you can also marry them to other Sovereigns' children, girls being sent with their new families upon marriage. Sharing these kind of bonds with other factions means some bonuses to the relationships with them. The children of the Sovereign can have children of their own, following the same game mechanics than themselves, including giving some extra bonuses to the relationship with the the factions of origin. There is a chance that the newborns will defect to the mother's family once they grow old enough to become Champions.

The Sovereign can only marry once so it's very important to make sure that the spouse survives long enough to have as much off-spring as possible, as once dead the Sovereign won't be able to marry again and continue to grow his family.

If the Sovereign dies, it's game over for his faction as there is no succession system in place.


Quests are adventures that your Sovereign and Champions can take. They are found on the map, maybe in some Inns or other special places, and to trigger them you must send your Sovereign or one or your Champions to that place. Although the initial (low level) quests appears on map as the game starts, more advanced quests require to unlock them through research in the Adventure/Domination category.

There a few types of quests. All the basic quests involve doing some kind of task in exchange of some money and/or experience. You may also get a special item depending of the quest, like some book for scorting a young nobleman to his home. More complex quests may involve visting different places and defeating some enemies.

One of the victory conditions is completing the Master Quest, that involves visiting different places and deafeating increasingly difficult enemies that may require your Sovereign to use a powerful army to complete.

Unit design

Peasant unit aside, there are no predefined unit classes in Elemental. There are no swordmen, bowmen, Knights or any other unit class like that. It's the player who picks an individual and gives him the equipment he wants, creating in this way the unit class that he wants. If a player wants to create a Knight, he can pick one man in the Unit Design screen, give him a sword, a shield, heavy armour and a horse and then call it Knight. If the player then wants a Rogue, he can take a new man and give him a dagger and some leather armour and then call it Rogue.

The equipment you can give your people depends on what you have researched and sometimes on resources. Once you research a new type of weapon or armour, it'll be available in the Unit Design screen but you won't be able to recruit units of that type unless you can pay the recruitment cost, which may include resources in the cost in addition to Gildars.

You cannot give your troops heavy metal armour unless you have researched that kind of armour first. And once you can design units with that armour, you won't be able to recruit units using them unless you have also metal to create the armours they wear.

Units can be equipped with only one weapon (and a shield if not a two handed weapon), different pieces of armour, special equipments like boots that give more movement, magic items like rings (one of each type though) and a mount (horse for Kindgoms and wargs for Empires). They can also wear cosmtic elements like clothes or hair. But martial equipment in the same body areas will override them.

Designs (blueprints) can be upgraded in the Unit Design screen but units that have been already recruited cannot be upgraded and will keep their original equipment. That means that your peasant with a club won't upgrade to heavy armour and a claymore when you upgrade the Peasant blueprint to use those items. Designs can also be retired if they are obsolete. The game can create new designs for you automatically each time you research a new type of equipment for your troops. This option can be disabled in the Options menu.


For those who believe that the feather is stronger than the sword or that simply want more options to deal with the opposition, Diplomacy offers the chance of trading, creating treaties or even marry the Sovereign's offspring.

The Diplomacy/Cooperation category of the research tree allows you to unlock technologies to improve their diplomatic skills and to get new diplomatic options with the AI. You may unlock new types of treaties that allow you to trade resources, to create alliances or to unlock Embassies that once built in a city will allow you to accumulate Diplomatic Capital. This Diplomatic Capital will make the enemy factions to like you more (or hate you less!) and can also be used in trading.

In the Diplomacy screen you can see the different encountered factions and the relations with them. Selecting one of the factions will also give a more detailed inform of that faction (earnings, relations with others and what does that faction like and dislike from yours). You can select which opponent to talk to and then you can select a topic to talk with the other Soveriegn. Depending on the situation, some topics may be disabled like declaring war to the opponent if you have a peacy treaty with him.

In the trade screen, you can try to trade gildars/resources from the other Sovereign by making an offer. That can be a good way to get access to horses or any other uncommon(rare) resource if you werenn't lucky enough to find some and you don't want to declare war on the other faction (maybe because you are too weak and/or too busy with other factions).

In the treaties screen the player can try to get some treaties with the AI if the player (or the AI, or both depending of the type of treaty) have researched the proper treaty. The player may try to get some open borders to be able to explore lands controlled by the enemy, propose research treaties or to ask the other Sovereign to declare war on someone.

The Diplomacy/Cooperation category also allows to research how to get special allies in the form of special creatures. Once the player researchs their proper tech, a resource point for that kind of creature will be spawned and once he builds on it, he will be able to recruit units of that type in the city that controls the resource. The basic special creature that Kingdoms can unlock are spiders while the more rare and powerful one are dragons.

When two forces meet, players can choose to have those battles instantly resolve or go into a tactical battle mode to control the action turn by turn. In battle, players can cast devastating spells, flank enemy positions, go for the high ground and much more.

At the start of the game, we could imagine the sovereign walking around alone or maybe with 10 foot soldiers armed with pikes. Those early battles will be pretty straight forward. Later on, however, you could have battles with hundreds of soldiers with a few recruited magical creatures involved along with your hero.

(1) Stardock wants to make sure that the AI handling is about as good as a human player at the auto-resolve stuff. With the details dialog, we can see what actually happened after the battle.

(2) Originally, Elemental was going to have continuous turn combat. That effectively meant real-time. Ultimately, after playing around with it, Stardock decided to implement turn based (simultaneous turns based on combat speed) with tiles.

Elements of Tactical Combat

In no particular order these are the things that matter:

  • Combat Speed. Your combat speed determines how many “moves” / attacks you get during a particular turn.
  • Morale. Units have High Morale (25% combat bonus), Normal Morale (no bonus), Low Morale (25% combat penalty), and Panic (you don’t control them).
  • Terrain. Some terrain, obstacles, and tiles simply provide better offensive and defensive bonuses, Controlling them matters.
  • WINNER. TAKE. ALL. The attacking player has the onus to finish the battle in N turns. After N turns, the attacker morale starts to go lower and lower at which point the defender can come out and make mince meat out of them.
  • Combined Arms. Archers have range. Mounted Warriors have great combat speed. Foot soldiers tend to have better weapons and defenses.  It means putting together your army matters a lot. It also is important that players understand precisely why they won or lost a battle.
  • Thresholds. Players can set the tactical battle threshold in the menu. That is, they can say it requires 10 units on each side before it’ll actually go into tactical battle.  At any point, players can have a tactical battle auto-resolve.

*crickets chirping*

Beyond Elemental: Modding

(1) There are built in modding tools for assest, item or resource creation. Also scripting for gameplay and AI. The plan is that players will be able to save these creations and post them to share with other players. When these creations are saved, they can choose what “mod” they go with. Players would continue to use the bestiary to choose which mods they want to make available for themselves.

(2) The mod tools in Elemental are designed to let players design their own worlds in great detail.

The mod tool implemented can be found in the Workshop option of the main menu. The tools currently implemented are:

  1. Builder's Forge
    With this tool we can create new tiles that can be later used as resource tiles or maybe as quest tiles, using XML.
  2. Cartographer's Table
    With this tool we can create new maps to use in the game. From geography to resources, players can create any kind of map with this tool.
  3. Particle Cauldron
    With this tool we can create new types of visual effects for spells or other game elements.
  4. Faction Creator
    With this tool we can create additional factions to use in the game beyond the ones provided by Stardock as the canon Lore ones.
  5. Mod Library
    In this screen we can check the available mods, which mods we have currently installed and upload any mod we want to share.

(3)Excerpt from a F.A.Q. about modding (see link for some more details):

What kinds of mods would you expect modders to be able to make with Elemental (Kumquat)?
I would expect someone to be able to create pretty much any type of game with it. More specifically (more realistically) I would imagine there being mods that let people make total conversions to games of the same genre (i.e. A space strategy game, a Civilization type game, a Master of Orion type game).

Obviously, how much is done here depends on how successful Elemental is commercially so these aren’t promises as much as what they are planning to do.

(4) Modding isn’t something that they plan to work X weeks on and then finish. Rather, the modding budget involves full time Stardock developers assigned to it for the next 18 months. Their current strategy for modding will be to work with active modders to see what sorts of things they need Stardock to expose to modding that they haven’t thought of.

(5) A modding guide for Beta 4 with some of the things that users can do

The formats used are:

  • XML. This can be read in with a plain text editor. Nearly everything in the game is XML. Their editors output to XML.
  • PNG. This is a popular graphics format used on most web pages. They use it everywhere for static images.
  • MP3. For songs in the game, they use MP3, a popular audio format.
  • WAV. They also use WAV files, a popular sound format for sound effects.
  • DXPACK. This is the format that DesktopX uses (www.desktopx.net). They use it for all of their user interface related elements.
  • HKB. This is the Havok format. The Havok site has a free exporter for it to use in 3D Studio or Maya or what have you. However, you will need Stardock's converter to use it with Elemental which they’ll be releasing shortly.

Ways to distribute your custom content are:

  • Way #1: Impulse::Reactor. If you hit Shift-Tab you get the Impulse:Reactor overlay. One of the options is mods. The mods available in game will eventually be heavily moderated.
  • Way #2: For users who want to avoid Stardock's deliciously evil moderating ways, you can simply share mods with others the old fashioned way. Just drop them into your my games\elemental\mods folder in the proper place and they’ll just show up.
  • Undead: they do not exist in the Elemental universe. Try the mods section for "undead fix".
  • Elves: they do not exist in the Elemental universe (Quendar have pointy ears though). Try the mods section for "elven fix".
  • *insert favourite fantasy race*: they do not exist in the Elemental universe. Try the mods section for "*insert favourite fantasy race* fix".
  • Map generation: There are no random maps in Elemental. Each map size has some pregenerated maps that are used each time that a game of the propers size is started. The initial positions on those maps are fixed too but the players are distributed randomly between them. Initial resources are randomized each game.
  • Minor Factions: There used to be some minor factions. Nowadays the number seems reduced. The role of the minor factions is that of sitting ducks. You can buy some advanced equipment early if you are near their city and can access their city's shop. You can also trade with them and stablish treaties. They cannot expand or have their city grow beyond level 1.
  • 2x2 subtiles: (1) Stardock had enough trouble trying to overlay a 2x2 subtile system over an engine ment for single tiles. 3x3 would be HELLISH to implement. Perhaps for Elemental 2 Stardock ditches the traditional large tile system in favor of a higher resolution in tiles, but for it's first outting, 1x1 and 2x2 are as varied as Elemental's gonna get.
  • Custom faction crests: Although you can create your own faction in the Workshop otion of the game, extra faction crests that you have added through modding won't be selectable in the faction creator. You will need to edit the faction's XML file in order to use a custom crest.
How do you take a screenshot?
Print Screen key will save a picture of your screen in the Elemental folder in MyDocuments. You can set the format of it in the Options menu.
How do I get new equipment for my Champions and Sovereign?
You can hope to find some in a hut in the map. Or you could select one of your characters and in the options bar you should see an icon with gold coins and a flask in it. That's the Shop button. If you are inside your influence area, click it and bring some Gildar with you. Remember that the goods selection in the shop depends on your researched equipment: if you want a Legendary Breastplate for your Sovereign, you must first research it!
How do I get married?
Your Sovereign can get married by recruting a Champion of the opposite sex, selecting him/her and click on the button with a Ring in the options bar. You may need to kill some monsters and/or do some quests first though as the future spouse will only accept if your Reputation is high enough for her. The Reputation of your Kingdom/Empire can be checked in the Kingdom Report window.
How do I get divorced?
Your Sovereign can get “divorced” by sending the spouse, without any equipment or bodyguards, to the nearest and strongest monster or enemy army available. Seriously.
How do I get rid of my dead spouse in the dynasty screen?
You cannot. It stays there as a reminder of your failure as spouse. Or so your Sovereign can go to the tomb to tell the dead spouse how much he misses her.
How do I get married a second/third/fourth... time or stablish my own harem?
In a mod, if anyone makes one about it. (Elemental: War of Bedrooms?)
How do I disable the 3D map?
In the Options menu, in the graphics section there should be a check that says "Only Clothmap". Check it.
How do I disable the cloth map?
You cannot. You can alter at which distance you switch from 3D to clothmap in the Options menu though.
How do I rotate buildings before I place them?
Shift + mouse wheel should do the trick.
How do I transfer items from one character to another?
To transfer items, the two characters involved must be in the same tile. Then you can click the trade button to get a window from which trade items between the different units in the tile.
How do you get magic items in the game?
Magic items are unlocked through Magic research tree and use Crystals as resource. Once you have those, you will be able to buy magic items in the shop and equip units with them.
How do you create new magic items in game?
You cannot in game. Outside the game you can use the Item editor tool (once released).
How do I create roads?
You create roads using Caravans. To create caravans you need to research them in the Civics research tree and once done, you can build them in any city. Once you have a caravans, you select and send it to the target city you want to stablish a trade route with. Caravans can be attacked so be careful! Also, each city can only have one caravan under their control (created there).
Pinned, Locked Post 112 Replies +42 Karma
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and 32 more...
January 27, 2010 9:35:14 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

This should be sticked!


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January 27, 2010 10:28:11 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting MatBerryman2,
This should be sticked!

Yup. Nice job, Wintersong. (Maybe add some links to the source posts so folks can see you didn't make it up & look into the chatter in those threads?)

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January 27, 2010 10:48:17 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting GW Swicord,

<snip>Maybe add some links to the source posts so folks can see you didn't make it up<snip>

I didn't make it up? Whoops.

Haha. You are right, although some parts are from various sources. I'll work about that and other updates to improve the format/content/usability, adding the update date to the title each time I edit the initial post meaningfully (except when editing for adding epic banners). It also needs an index. I tried to give it a good reading format but an index would help (do anchors work here?).

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January 27, 2010 10:51:17 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quality post - karma dispatched

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January 27, 2010 11:15:54 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Very good post.

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January 27, 2010 11:51:08 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Way impressive.



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January 27, 2010 1:02:11 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Epic Wall of TEXT = KARMA!


... Ya bastard... Jk

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January 27, 2010 3:47:00 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Brilliant stuff..... might wanna add something in the GFX section about it being based off of stained-glass designes, as opposed to actual watercolor.

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January 27, 2010 4:22:53 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I plan to update it during the weekend with an index and links. The length of the post worries me (database column length wise) but we will survive to have in the OP the most important bits of info (with the most interesting ones if space allows it).

In any case, if you know about something not in the OP that you consider that should be there, it might be due to: Me not noticing it or me not agreeing with your opinion or not having enough space (or still working on it). Let me know in any case.

If someone wants to write something about one of the topics (I had to write about Unit creation and Research), give it a try. Surely someone wants to have a part for economy, maybe someone needs one for animations ( )or can simply improve the OP to make it more useable, informative and/or friendly.

Also need to decide how to mark in the OP which things has been updated. Red text is a no. Green even less!!!

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January 27, 2010 5:22:27 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

its nice to have a summary 

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January 28, 2010 6:00:25 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Seem that weekend already started? Tried to use anchors (for index and the different headers) but, at least in the preview, it seemed to do weird things. Maybe it's the way I wrote the HTML. In any case, consider the OP a "work in progress". And yes, I know that in the Index it says "Size of Maps" but later it says "Maps". I won't bother to edit such minor thing. I'll correct that once I have something meaningfull to add/correct (trying to avoid edits for minor details like that).

I have lost some of the links and still searching for them. Also, I'd like to remind people that some of that info could be outdated because I failed to find a post informing about that (there is like a bazillion of threads) or internally Stardock has decided to scrap the idea and hasn't informed us about it (not that they have the obligation to). So take some sacks of salt with you when reading, just in case, especially for really old threads. I'll try to trim the thread of any outdated info (that I'm conscious of).

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January 28, 2010 10:16:41 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

In the art style section you failed to mention Alphonse Mucha.  The idea that they were going for an art style inspired by his work is a big part of what drew me in.

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January 28, 2010 10:33:07 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting KellenDunk,
In the art style section you failed to mention Alphonse Mucha.  The idea that they were going for an art style inspired by his work is a big part of what drew me in.

Actually, I didn't know where to find the link for that part. But your mention of Alphonse Mucha did the trick:


I'll update it later (as in tomorrow probably) once I find other links I'm missing but that I know about.

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January 28, 2010 2:13:38 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

Stickied.  Keep up the good work!

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January 28, 2010 4:13:22 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

woot!   that got stickied quickly.  and well deserved too

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January 29, 2010 9:16:28 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Awesome, awesome info.

Good job, Winter.

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February 2, 2010 12:18:59 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Wow, awesome post!

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February 2, 2010 1:26:38 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Thank you for the the summary--it revealed some things I missed by just reading all the posts.  The research variations and quest variations plus so many battle options are very very cool.

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February 4, 2010 2:25:57 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

(3) The target market for Elemental isn't the casual gamer. Instead, Stardock is targeting people who would like Galactic Civilizations or Sins of a Solar Empire. On the other hand, people who loved Disciples or Space Empires IV might find Elemental too simple.

Is this accurate? disciples wasn't that complicated unless I'll getting confused with another game. Dominions, however...

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February 7, 2010 7:54:52 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting leeboy26,
(3) The target market for Elemental isn't the casual gamer. Instead, Stardock is targeting people who would like Galactic Civilizations or Sins of a Solar Empire. On the other hand, people who loved Disciples or Space Empires IV might find Elemental too simple.

Is this accurate? disciples wasn't that complicated unless I'll getting confused with another game. Dominions, however...

I personally cannot say to which degree that is accurate. Not sure if the games given as example by Frogboy are truly examples of complexity  but I think that the bottomline is that for those who have played Gal Civ II and/or Sins of a Solar Empire, Elemental will be some kind of improved version. Just my opinion so don't use it as ammunition against Stardock.

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February 11, 2010 7:56:43 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Well done Winter, you make me proud brother

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February 18, 2010 9:22:21 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

What is the difference between

Battle Options:

1. Instant Resolve (army 1 and army 2 meet, one is destroyed instantly).
2. Auto-resolve. (army 1 and army 2 meet, it zooms in and plays out automatically).

The result should be the same, so this is only a visual difference or can you actually interfere in battle mode 2?

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February 18, 2010 9:49:45 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Point 1. should mean a popup telling you about the battle and its result ("Army A met Army B. Army A won." style).

For Point 2. it's like Galactic Civilizations II. If you haven't played it, in its battles you can se the units battling but you cannot actually give orders to them. So it's like point 1. but being able to see the actual battle, nothing else.

Not sure if it will be possible to start in Auto-Resolve and take control (a la Player Resolve) if you don't like how things go. That's up to Stardock and right now not much is known about Tactical Combat.

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February 24, 2010 9:38:21 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Thank you for the summary Wintersong.  And your karma is impressive! more if I could !

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February 26, 2010 8:14:11 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Time to update it seems!

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