Each of a Continent’s Territories has a Biome. The Biome of a Territory will define the type and number of Tiles that will be generated inside it. The nature of a Biome is defined by two criteria:
Humid Biomes will have more trees and grass, while dry Biomes will have more stones and deserts. If a Biome is too hot or too cold, it will be covered primarily by deserts of sand or ice.
Territories are chopped up into hexagonal Tiles: a Tile is the smallest unit to measure space in the game, able to contain a single District and be occupied by a single Army, where a City can spread across one or more Territories and an Empire can come to span multiple Continents.
Each Tile has a Terrain Type (Forest, Prairie, Rocky Fields, …), defined based on its Territory’s Biome. Depending on its Terrain Type, a Tile provides a base amount Food, Industry, Money and Science to the City or Outpost that exploits it. In addition the Terrain Type defines how difficult it is for Armies and Units to traverse the Tile, and also whether it blocks their Line of Sight.
Tiles also have an Elevation value: when the difference in Elevation between two adjacent tiles is 2 or higher a Cliff is created to separate them. Differences in Elevation, much like Terrain Types, can block the Line of Sight of Armies and Units.
Tiles may also contain one or more Points of Interest including:
Once the necessary Technology has been researched, Resource Deposits can be exploited using a special District to provide your Empire with access to the corresponding Resource. Both Resource Deposits and Natural Modifiers increase the yield, in terms of Food, Industry, Money and Science, of their Tile.
Each Strategic Resource has an associated Technology that must be researched before it can be exploited. Indeed, Strategic Resources are impossible to identify until you’ve reached at least the Era before the one that this Technology is tied to. Once this Technology has been researched you can gain access to a Strategic Resource by building the corresponding extraction District on top of it. Alternatively you can buy access from another Empire via the Trade system.
Why go to the trouble? Well, Strategic Resources are required to create, repair and upgrade most military Units. They are also necessary to build many City Infrastructures, some of which provide additional economic bonuses per Strategic Resource you have access to.
Luxury Resources provide passive economic bonuses as soon as you gain access to them: they are particularly important for maintaining Stability in your growing Cities. Unlike Strategic Resources, all Luxuries can be exploited once the Calendar Technology has been unlocked.
To gain access to a Luxury Resource you can either buy in from another Empire via the Trade system, or exploit it yourself by building the corresponding extraction District on top of it.
Rivers consume all of a Unit’s remaining Movement Points to enter, and Units in Battle are sitting ducks while attempting to cross a River. Rivers can be useful too however, as moving up or down the same River only ever costs 1 Movement Point, regardless of the Terrain Type of the Tiles that are crossed: Rivers have always been the highways of humankind. In addition, if an actual Road or District is built on top of a River Tile then you no longer need to spend your remaining Movement Points to enter it.
You may notice that certain groups of contiguous Tiles are visually contoured and named on the map when you zoom out. These are Landmarks. Tiles that are part of a Landmark always have the same Terrain Type, and the Landmark is named accordingly using lists of famous real-world landmarks:
Entirely mapping out the largest Landmark of each type counts as a World Deed, so provides you with Fame if you’re the first to do so.
Natural Wonders (Great Blue Hole, Mount Mulu, …), awesome natural structures of staggering beauty, are generated at random across the map. Finding a Natural Wonder is a World Deed, so provides you with Fame if you’re the first to do so.
If an Empire claims the Territory the Natural Wonder is on, then the Outpost or City controlling it will receive a boost to its Stability, and will produce more Influence and Money.
At the beginning of the game most Tiles will be entirely shrouded from view by a grey mask. We say that these tiles are part of the Terra Incognita, meaning “unknown lands”. You’ll need to move an Army to scout out these areas if you want to know, for instance, what the Terrain Type and Elevation of these Tiles is and which of them contain Points of Interest.
Once you’ve seen a Tile for the first time it ceases to be part of the Terra Incognita, but Tiles that you have previously discovered are covered in a thick fog when not within the Line of Sight of any of your Units or Districts. We say that these tiles are part of the Fog of War : you still know their Terrain Type and Elevation, and whether they contain a River or Point of Interest, but perhaps an enemy Army or District has appeared there since the Tile was last in view? Better send a scout to make sure!
Curiositiesare small rewards which randomly spawn on Tiles and can be picked up by Armies when they move over them. They grant various rewards depending on the Curiosity type and the current Era. They disappear after few turns if not collected.