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I am many things. I have been many things.

Can you not see it? The end is near. Auriga is infested with foolish creatures who look at tomorrow as if they will live forever. They do not understand that none will survive... unless, from ignorance, springs curiosity. From wilderness, surges civilization. From barrenness, grows exchange. From savagery, arises bravery. As of today, I see none who might lead this planet to its salvation. Unless...
—The launch trailer
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Auriga is dying; every winter is worse than the last according to every generation in living memory. Natural disasters and internal strife force nations to take drastic survival measures, bringing them into contact and competition. Shattered as they are the once-great nations are not powerless: They are the successors of the Endless, who left their mark on Auriga before destroying themselves. With knowledge from Endless ruins and sufficient mastery of Dust (the magical substance that permeates everything on Auriga) the great nations can survive, and thrive. How they do is up to you. Will you expand to cover the planet? Exterminate all who stand in your way? Rely on science or commerce? Or will you rediscover the secret legacy in your legends?

Endless Legend is a 2014 Science Fantasy 4X game developed by Amplitude Studios and published by Iceberg Interactive as the second game in the Endless setting, following Endless Space and followed by Dungeon of the Endless. An Even Better Sequel to its predecessor, it uses the FIDSI (Food-Industry-Dust-Science-Influence) system from Endless Space on a hex map, with each hex producing one or more of them. Unusually for a 4X the factions are distinct beyond bonus or penalized stats (though those are there as well), and unit designs can be altered/improved to make them mechanically—if not visibly—distinct. EL twists the formula further with RPG-style heroes and a story quest for each faction that unlocks unique techs and structures for each faction.

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Tropes:

  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: The Sewer System city improvement. In its icon, it's shown to be a large tunnel that a human could comfortably stand within.
  • Abusive Precursors:
    • The Endless. Sure, the Concrete Endless uplifted the Drakken and seeded Auriga with Dust, but they did so after "pacifying" the native Guardians and Allayi, reshaping the planet, and creating the Necrophages as a living weapon against the Virtual's Cravers.
    • Not satisfied with this, a Concrete Endless called Elohys transported the Kapaku from a volcanic planet to Auriga (which is only barely livable for their kind), intending to use them to volcanoform key areas of the planet to cover up their previous mistakes by drowning the surface in a sea of lava.
    • The Virtual Endless bombed Auriga so hard that the planet is doomed, probably caused the Morgawr, and indirectly created the Cultists. Of course, they were at war with the Concrete Endless, who were using Auriga as a weapons creation facility at the time.
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    • It's most fair to say that the Endless ranged from Benevolent Precursors to Neglectful Precursors, since their abuses were the result of the Dust Wars.
    • The Endless also killed the Lost (a race of space-faring sentients from which Dust originated) and claim to have created it themselves. Auriga is currently one of the few survivors, but her days are numbered.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: The Cultists of the Eternal End are led by malfunctioning Endless robots who have dedicated themselves to wiping out the legacy of the Endless.
  • Aliens Never Invented the Wheel: The Vaulters, who remember their origins in space, develop manned space travel before they develop firearms; they make do with Automatic Crossbows, salvaged Powered Armor, and Dust-powered Humongous Mecha.
  • Ambadassador: Drakken heroes aren't too shabby in combat, learn tricks that keep Minor Faction armies from attacking them, and the faction as a whole can burn influence to force peace treaties or alliances.
  • Ambiguous Robots: Cultists of the Eternal End are lead by Endless robots and use robots (or cyborgs) in their military. There are "normal" people in their ranks, but they wear masks that make them look just like the robots.
  • And I Must Scream:
    • The fate of the Queen of The Cultists of the Eternal End; still alive, still thinking, but unable to do anything but issue orders from the prison of her own body. This is also one of the reasons why she wants to destroy what's left of the Endless and anything associated with them. The exact nature of the Queen is deliberately ambiguous, but since her Cult is made up of fanatic broken robots, it's likely she's some kind of AI that cannot self-terminate.
    • The Morgawr remember being imprisoned for centuries. Their entire quest line revolves around becoming strong enough that they can never be imprisoned again.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: Purchasing the deluxe version of Dungeon of the Endless gives you the Mezari, who are re-skinned Vaulters with a different leader screen and unit appearances. The blurb on the faction description makes it clear that the Mezari are supposed to be who the Vaulters were before they crash-landed on Auriga.
  • Animated Armor: The Lords of the Amber Plains bound their souls into suits of armor to survive Auriga's collapsing climate, turning themselves into the Broken Lords. They no longer need to eat since they subsist on Dust harvested from the environment... or sentient beings.
  • Annoying Arrows: Averted in several ways.
    • One reason why factions like the Vaulters and Wild Walkers are strong in the early game is that their heroes and base infantry use bows or crossbows which give them a huge range advantage over most enemies who use melee. Line them up along the far edge of the battle map and they'll get 1-2 turns where they can dish out damage without fear of melee counterattack. Depending on tech level and terrain, they can often hit hard enough to outright kill all but the toughest units.
    • Full bows also confer the Flying Killer series of perks/traits, meaning these units also do bonus damage to flying units.
  • Anti-Cavalry: Units with Cavalry Slayer ability deal extra damage to cavalry units. Militia units of all faction have this trait, as they are all equipped with spears.
  • Apocalypse How: Auriga is dying. For reasons unknown, each winter lasts longer, comes quicker, and is more intense than the previous. By the time of Endless Space, Auriga is a lifeless, Dust-filled husk.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: The Broken Lords storyline has Marquis Suluzzo who encourages his people to continue on draining Dust from other living beings, and part of the storyline quest involves taking him out.
  • Artificial Stupidity:
    • The AI simply isn't programed to handle some of the more "gimmick" based factions, which require more careful planning and use of combos to unlock their full power. Examples include the Cultists, which require the prioritization of conversions, and then the active use of all of the free converted units. This is lacking; the AI (even on Endless) plays as if it does not even realize it has mercs stockpiled in its minor villages, and will happily die to a weenie rush with a dozen mercs sitting idle in their huts. Similarly, the Forgotten cannot research, which confounds the AI's "weights" to tech. While not as severe, it also struggles with the Ardent Mages and Broken Lords. When playing against any of these factions controlled by the AI, expect its stupidity to handicap them.
    • The AI is horrible at dealing with invading human players and especially bad at dealing with Roving Clan-directed False Flag Attacks, as the AI cannot draw conclusions as to who is controlling the mercenaries.
    • You have the option to "automate" cities and set armies to "auto-explore". Expect sub-par results if you use these options.
  • Armour-Piercing Question: Ka-Rhiss, to the narrator, He-Who-Meddles, of the Necrophage quest line. "What can we learn from a dead enemy?" inspires He-Who-Meddles to start learning from the Necrophage's enemies in order to beat them.
  • Automatic Crossbows: The default weapon of the Vaulter Marines. These can also be equipped to other ranged units, like the Wild Walker Rangers.
  • Badass Baritone: The leader of the Broken Lords speaks with a deep, slightly echoing voice; the former is from being a knight, the latter is from being a suit of Animated Armor.
  • Base on Wheels: Roving Clans can make their cities mobile by packing everything onto the back of a giant insect, which is good if they need to relocate to a better area with more anomalies. Symbiosis also introduced the Urkans, gargantuan monsters that, once tamed, can act like a city when dug into a region, sucking up resources for you (and generating their own armies of giant lice).
  • Big Guy: Some of the minor factions are races of these (like the Erycis and their hydras, or Silics with their Harmonites). Some of the main factions have them to support their infantry, like the Vaulters with their Titans or Wild Walkers and their ent-like Tenei Walkers. While they may have differing special abilities (if any), typically they are slow, soak damage well, and can hit hard. With the addition of the Guardian super units and the Urkans, this is taken to its ultimate conclusion.
  • BFS: Anyone with a two-handed sword, but a special shout-out to the Haunts' Ended, who use enormous claymores longer than most infantry units are tall and whose strikes create Chain Lightning.
  • Bling of War: Broken Lords infantry are decked out in golden armor with faction-colored capes.
  • Blood Magic: Or rather, pain Magic — the Ardent Mages discovered intense suffering allows one to directly manipulate Dust on incredibly large scales. In battle, this makes them magical Combat SadoMasochists.
  • Bows Versus Crossbows: These are options for most ranged units and heroes, and are rather well balanced. Bows deal slightly more damage than their same-material crossbow counterparts, while also gaining Flying Slayer which provides bonus damage against flying enemies. However, crossbows can be used with a shield, improving the unit's defense, and gain Point-Blank Power, dealing more damage to foes on adjacent tiles. Further, there are three legendary Bows and two legendary Crossbows.
  • Brain Uploading: Broken Lords are a fantastic version of this, being souls in armor powered by Dust.
  • A Commander Is You: Most of the sides have distinct styles (though the 4X nature of the game lets you tweak a lot of these to your taste)
    • The Wild Walkers: Ranger-style units (lots of ranged attacks) and Industrial command style (they get huge industry bonuses for forests).
    • The Ardent Mages: Offensive Research faction with a lot of triggerable field abilities to increase FIDS yields or improve troop abilities. Highly offensive-focused units that do more damage the more wounded they are.
    • The Vaulters: A defensive Research-focused faction that can learn how to shield itself from the deadly winters and has multiple ways to boost strategic resource income. They can use a bunch of a single type of strategic resource as a "booster", much like luxury resources. Their units gain double the effect of their weapons and armor items if they are made from the currently-selected "holy resource" booster, and they can teleport units between cities quickly in case one gets attacked.
    • The Broken Lords: Economist faction with elite but expensive units; they make much more Dust in general from the terrain around their cities and do not require food. Only problem is, they eat money to increase population and heal units, so they need all the Dust they can get.
    • The Roving Clans: Technical Pacifist Economist faction that can't declare war but make a lot of money through peaceful trade with their neighbors; their cities are mobile, and they start with all marketplace options open. Mercenary units they hire are tougher and faster than regular units, making them ideal for bolstering their military or engaging in False Flag Operations. All told, Roving Clans players have more ways to spend money than normal.
    • The Drakken: A generalist-style faction with loads of benefits to diplomacy, influence for social policies, and the ability to outright force people to get along with them. Their Empire Plan opens up faster than everyone else, and they unlock techs which grant slots for assimilating minor factions one Era earlier, making them politically more flexible than other factions. Their units all gain XP faster than other factions and have a high health pool.
    • The Necrophages: Spammer/Population Growth; stuck in constant war, but can turn their enemies into food or sacrifice excess population for a morale boost. (They get less food from the terrain than other factions, so they need to eat their enemies). Their cities can also expand physically more quickly than other races, resulting in sprawling hives covering their lands. Their units tend to spread plague to their enemies.
    • The Cultists of the Eternal End: Spammer/Espionage stuck in a one-city challenge; they get free soldiers from brainwashed villages but are bad at expansion, so they work best at quick military victories using hordes of disposable conscript soldiers. Their city's districts can level up twice from adjacency, eventually granting them massive happiness bonuses.
    • The Forgotten: Espionage/Political faction added in Shadows. They are unable to perform research the normal way and either buy technology with Dust or steal it from other cites. Most of their units can be cloaked in some way for sneak attacks and they are able to spy better than other factions (and are the only faction that can steal technology through spying).
    • The Allayi: Ranger/Economist/Gimmick faction added in Shifters that prefers city quality to city quantity. While they get more than double expansion disapproval, their unique city districts give out massive FIDSI boosts. Allayi units travel far, their heroes let armies ignore terrain movement penalties, their flying unit harvests resources from other territories, and they are vastly superior at scavenging Pearls, the new resource added in the Shifters expansion. Winter only pisses them off, transforming their units from durable defensive units into powerful offensive units.
    • The Morgawr: A Naval/Subversive faction added in Tempest. Strong on water tiles but weak on land, they get extra resources from river and ocean tiles and can build unique ships. They can curse enemy empires with the Black Spot; killing a cursed empire's units generates Dust, incentivizing other empires to target the Morgawr's rival. They can also de-pacify villages and take control of roving Minor Faction units to create havoc among enemy empires.
    • The Kapaku: A Gimmick faction added in Inferno. Their units and cities all do very well on the volcanic terrain introduced in the expansion (they ignore penalties from volcanic terrain and can safely walk through lava rivers), but as they are native to a volcanic world, they cannot produce Food in normal terrain. If they want to colonize a non-volcanic region, they will have to convert the region to volcanic terrain by use of volcanoformers that they can build with strategic resources. Additionally, they can accurately predict and benefit more from the Dust Eclipses that periodically sweep Auriga (also introduced in Inferno).
    • The Mykara: A strange Technical faction added in Symbiosis. They can only found one city, but unlike the Cult, they can take over enemy cities and cover them in fungus, gaining a unique factional bonus once it's fully overgrown. Their resource intake is halved, but they can grow "fungal blooms" over resource deposits anywhere, and turn abandoned Endless Ruins into teleporters, letting them move their forces around the map.
  • Crutch Character:
    • The base units of the Vaulters (Marines) and Wild Walkers (Rangers) are ranged units, as are their starting heroes. This gives them a tremendous early game advantage over the other factions, as well as most minor factions, whose base units are melee. They can dish out serious damage, and even outright kill depending on their tech level and terrain, to enemy armies before they can get into melee attack range. However, once those other factions climb higher in the tech tree, getting access to beefier infantry, cavalry, and ranged units of their own, this advantage goes away. A Vaulter/Wild Walker player who has become too reliant on their ranged units will be in for a big surprise in later battles if they haven't upgraded their own rosters.
    • With a few quick conversions, the Cultists can quickly build a large army of troops conscripted from the minor factions. They make a formidable Zerg Rush force...but these armies typically lack synergy. Once the other factions have climbed in their tech trees and can pump out their stronger units, these Cultist armies will be left in the dust.
  • Damage Over Time: Necrophage units don't have much in the way of raw damage, but they all carry disease that poisons enemies over time. This makes them challenging to invade, as your armies will weaken with each battle even if the Necrophages only directly inflict Scratch Damage. On the flip side, they generally have a hard time fighting minor faction units that are immune to disease.
  • Dash Attack: Most cavalry units possess the "Charge" capacity, which increases their attack power based on how far they moved before attacking. Of particular note are the Dorgeshi, whose charges have a chance of stunning their foes, and Neros the Water Guardian, who can create a damaging wave that hits everything in a cone behind its target.
  • Defeat Equals Friendship: Minor factions don't hold it against you when you take them over by force.
  • Desperation Attack: Ardent Mage units hit harder the more damage they take. The longer a fight goes on, the more likely it is to swing in their favor.
  • Developers' Foresight: Most factions will take offense at you volcanoforming their territory... except the Broken Lords, who don't eat food anyway and therefore enjoy the extra mineral output. The AI will even thank you for it!
  • Disc-One Nuke: Getting loot from Ruins is a combination of Luck-Based Mission and Randomly Drops. With a bit of luck, it is possible to get a legendary item very early in the game which can turn your hero into a One-Man Army dealing massive damage and/or gaining other tremendous stat boosts.
  • Doomed Hometown: Auriga is progressively becoming uninhabitable. The worsening winters and the final eternal winter season only preface Auriga becoming Endless Space's Husk of Knowledge.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    • Despite being a Bug War faction, the Necrophages look a lot like the undead. They eat corpses to make more of themselves, they've got the word "Necro" in their name, their leader wears a sinister cloak and has a wavy dagger, they can perform a blood sacrifice for a temporary boost, their units all carry disease and one of their support units turns dead enemies directly into fresh new units for you.
    • On a darker note, since Auriga is alive, what the Endless did to her in the name of science is all but explicitly compared to rape. The native Allayi even refer to them as the "the ones who defiled her".
  • Double Unlock: Many research options, such as buildings, require you to not only research the upgrade in question, but then construct it in a city in order to actually use it.
  • Drop the Hammer: The favored weapon of the Delvers are massive warhammers, which they can swing in a Spin Attack, damaging everything around them and possibly stunning their target to boot. Various other factions' units, like the Urces or Silics, can also make use of them.
  • Expansion Pack: Six. Guardians adds unique, extremely powerful Hero Units, global events and quests, and national facilities. Shadows introduces an espionage system as well as The Forgotten, a major faction who excel at espionage. Shifters adds the Allayi playable faction, whose capabilities shift in summer and winter, along with a revamped season system and a new type of resource. Tempest adds yet another faction, the Morgawr, who are designed to take advantage of the new content and mechanics in the oceans. Inferno adds a fourth faction, the Kapaku, who can turn the terrain around them into a volcanic wasteland much like their original home. Finally, Symbiosis adds a fifth playable faction, the Mykara, who rely on subverting other factions to dominate, and also introduces the Urkans, another type of Hero Unit which players can gain control of either through feeding them certain resources or besting them in battle.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: The Broken Lords' leader speaks with a deep Badass Baritone, and they are widely considered to be soulless monsters because they must drain Dust from other creatures to survive. On the other hand, many of their leaders are working to cure them of this affliction.
  • Eyeless Face:
    • Cultists do not have eyes, only recessions where their eyes would be. They also tend to have multiple eyeless faces.
    • The Eyeless Ones minor faction look like hideous Xenomorphs, but apparently they're really nice despite their appearance. Their main unit is a healer and their assimilation bonus is empire-wide happiness boosts. "Don't judge a book by its cover" is apparently their motto.
  • False Flag Operation: If you have an army composed entirely of units purchased from the mercenary guild, you can set them to look like neutral Minor Faction monsters and attack enemies without them getting pissed at you. The downside is they can't capture cities, only raze them. This is also the only way the Roving Clans can go on the offensive. (Fortunately, Roving Clans mercenaries are vastly more powerful than their own units.)
  • Fantasy Gun Control: Despite all the Endless relics and technological devices being thrown around, there's no sign of gunpowder or other advanced ranged weapons. Even the Vaulters/Mezari — who can field Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane Mini-Mecha units as melee combatants — are forever limited to longbows and crossbows. Somewhat Downplayed in Tempest — while your troops cannot be outfitted with guns, artillery ships can equip broadsides, which are clearly meant to be cannons.
  • Fantasy Metals: The one mundane metal in Endless Legend is Iron. After that new technology can make use of Auriga's more fantastic metallurgy. There's Titanium (yeah, this metal is found on Earth, but not like the geometrical deposits found on Auriga), Glassteel, Dust (automatically becomes a basic material if your technology levels are high enough), Adamantian, Palladian, Mithrite, and Hyperium. With Shifters enabled, you can also learn how to build equipment out of the Pearls introduced in the expansion.
  • Fetch Quest:
    • Quite a number of the faction quests involve gathering a certain number of resources or gaining a minor faction as ally.
    • Several side quests are similar, with "Lust for Loot" being especially notable. It requires you to send a hero-led army to four ruins in succession within a turn limit.
  • Foregone Conclusion: No matter the accomplishments of the player, Auriga will inevitably die, to be rediscovered later, barren and lifeless, by some spacefaring civilization. Furthermore, give or take a few mercenary Broken Lords, the Vaulters and Sisters of Mercy will be the only true survivors of the calamity, fleeing the dying world aboard the Argosy.
  • Gaia's Lament: The narrator is Auriga, mourning her dying state and the strife of the races that live on her.
  • Geo Effects: Different tiles on the strategic map provide different resources to cities and can have certain effects on visiting armies (such as volcanic ashlands preventing regeneration between turns, or fog banks allowing fleets to hide unseen). In combat, certain tiles and positions affect the performance of units; taking cover in forests reduces incoming damage, for instance, while standing at a higher elevation provides a damage bonus for that unit's attacks against anyone below them.
  • Glacial Apocalypse: Auriga is a dying world doomed by a growing ice age. Every few months, it's plunged into abrupt winters that kill crops and production. As the game goes on, the winters become longer and longer until the world is plunged in an eternal ice age past turn 300. The major factions of Auriga are trying to get the hell off their world before that happens. In Endless Space, a few centuries after the ending, Auriga is a lifeless ball of ice and rock; only two of the factions are confirmed to have survived, one of them only partially.
  • Glowing Mechanical Eyes: The Broken Lords glow with an inner light from Dust, which leaks through their eye holes.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: In Endless Legend: Inferno, the Sowers serve as this to the Kapaku, who are only attempting to terraform Auriga into a volcanic hellscape because their native volcano world was itself transformed by the Sowers into a lush green "paradise" that the Kapaku could not survive on.
  • Horde of Alien Locusts: Subverted by the Necrophage. The swarm of necromantic insects are engineered killing and eating machines, are incapable of forming treaties with major factions, and treat conquered and assimilated minor factions as cattle, but they aren't mindless and are entirely capable of communicating with humans and other species. Their faction questline even includes hiring "hind-leg" mercenaries to lead their troops so that they can learn from them.
  • Humans Are Divided: Five of the factions fighting for control of Auriga are human/formerly human.
  • Horror Hunger: The Broken Lords. They must consume Dust (including Dust from living creatures) in order to sustain themselves.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Necrophages don't like to eat plants. They like to eat people. As a result, they get less food from the ground around their cities but more food from farmers for every pacified village in the area (they're taking "volunteers"), and they can turn corpses of their enemies into food boosters they can expend to make their cities grow. This means that early-game their cities are starving, but late-game they get the ability to create super-farmers when they can just pay to rebuild destroyed villages or pump a bunch of food boosters into a weak, new city.
  • Imported Alien Phlebotinum: Dust is a creation of the Precursor Endless. It is both valuable, used as currency on Auriga in fact, and versatile, with uses ranging from computing to linking structures to granting sentience to races like the Silics to outright keeping races like the Broken Lords alive.
  • Informed Equipment: Armor and accessories are not visible on units, only weapons (and shields, if the unit's wearing one).
  • Just Before the End: Auriga is dying, and all the factions are trying to find ways to survive - with varying degrees of success.
  • Leitmotif: Each faction has a theme with two variations: one that plays during their introductory cutscene and as a Theme Music Power-Up, and one that may play at random while in-game.
  • Life Drain: The Broken Lords' Stalwarts can heal themselves if their target dies the same turn it's attacked, the Ryders drain small amounts of life each time they attack, and the Dust Bishops can drain life out of an enemy and restore it to all nearby allies. Other factions may equip a late-game accessory to drain life on attacking much like the Ryders.
  • Life Drinker: The Broken Lords discovered that it's possible to drain Dust from living beings, and it's significantly easier than getting Dust from the environment. It also feels better, too.
  • Lizard Folk: Drakken, except they defy fantasy stereotypes by being the diplomats of the game.
  • Loads and Loads of Races: Not even counting the 13 playable races (with all expansions), there are 18 races making up the "Minor Factions", as well several others present in the backstory. The backstory reveals that Auriga was a giant Endless biology laboratory full of samples from around the galaxy, explaining the number of sapient beings with wildly divergent biologies.
  • Luck-Based Mission: Finding loot and getting side quests from ruins. What you get is entirely dependent on luck. Further, some of the quests given require you to have certain resources or units available, which is heavily dependent on luck on a separate level. A prime example is "Within a Rock and a Hard Place", which requires you to search a specific ruin with a Delvers unit in your army, which requires either assimilate the Delvers (which requires you having them spawn in a region you can take control of) or get one from the mercenary market (which changes every turn depending on luck).
  • Magic from Technology: Dust is so advanced it may as well be magic, and there's a bit of Dust in everything on Auriga.
  • Magikarp Power:
    • The Broken Lords have a very poor early game due to their dependence on Dust for population gain and for healing their soldiers, but as the game goes on and Dust production skyrockets, an aggressive Lords player can crush entire armies faster than any other player, as they can instantly heal their armies after every battle with Dust while other empires must wait for them to regenerate. Their ability to instantly buy more population allows them to build extremely high population cities in the late game, when they can buy multiple citizens in a city per turn.
    • Necrophages are also kind of weak early-game, since they get less food from the environment. They get extra food per turn per citizen per conquered village, though, so once you go out swinging and start devouring minor factions, it becomes easier and easier for them to spread and grow.
    • The Forgotten have a weak start until they can start preying on other factions. They most likely have to purchase technology with Dust that they cannot steal (and if they're at technological parity with other nations, stealing's no good for them), plus it may take them a while to actually find other nations they can spy upon. It takes a while for them to get good at what they do, but eventually, if your heroes are properly trained-up to have extra spying proficiency or have been sitting in enemy cities long enough to have high-level Espionage actions unlocked, you can devastate enemy cities. A high-ranking espionage action can reduce an enemy city's fortification bonus to nothing, letting you blast your way through the defending soldiers, or make all enemy soldiers of that faction weaker by default.
  • Massive Race Selection: With all expansions purchased, there are 13 playable factions. You can then assimilate any of the 18 Minor Faction races into your empire.
  • Mechanically Unusual Class: Each faction has a unique Affinity that grants them some special ability; Vaulters can teleport between cities, Drakken can force treaties, etc. However, the seven "advanced" factions have radically different gameplay from the norm.
    • The Roving Clans cannot declare war. Instead, they have to rely on False Flag Operations with mercenaries to engage targets who haven't declared war against the Clans. They can ban other players from the marketplace and receive an 8% cut of all transactions. Their cities can be mobilized to flee from enemies.
    • The Broken Lords do not utilize food, do not have population growth, and do not have Regenerating Health. Instead, they must utilize Dust to mend their bodies and literally build new citizens. As a result, they have an extremely weak early game, but once they build up their economy they turn into a nigh-unstoppable juggernaut as they can instantly heal their units outside of battle, and within battles all their units have some form of Life Drain attack.
    • The Necrophages cannot be at peace. All diplomacy technologies are locked out of their reach, forcing them into a state of Forever War. They can sacrifice citizens to appease their gods and raise approval, and cannibalize the dead to make up for their terrible farming techniques.
    • The Cultists of the Eternal End can only found one city in an entire game, which can be built up significantly larger than any other faction's cities. They extend their hegemony through religious conversion of minor factions, who will have to do most of the dirty work - combat, mining goods, and scouting. They periodically receive free, un-upgraded units from minor faction towns that they have converted, giving them a steady supply of fresh meat or units to pawn off to the market.
    • The Forgotten introduced in Shadows are unable to perform research the normal way. They need to purchase new techs with Dust or else use spies to copy techs from other major factions. They get many innate bonuses to pillaging, spying, and generally sneaking around anywhere they go and all of their units are permanently cloaked. While other factions conquer, the Forgotten need to plunder.
    • The Kapaku cannot gather food from any non-volcanic tile, requiring them to volcanoform a region if they want to get food. Inversely, volcanic tiles cannot provide food to any other faction, encouraging other playes to actively limit how far the Kapaku spread. (Except Broken Lords, who do not need food at all and enjoy the extra mineral output of volcanic tiles).
    • Like the Cult, the Mykara are restricted to exactly one city, but can subvert others, allowing them to gain buffs depending on who they conquer. They're also heavily tied to the Urkans and have several unique mechanics related to them.
  • Mercenary Units: The Mercenary Market technology allows you to hire units from minor factions, including from those that you haven't assimilated into your empire. Mercenaries hired by the Roving Clans are stronger than average, which is good for them since their regular military units are a little on the weak side. A later technology lets you use bands of mercenaries to pull off False Flag Operations. You can also hire mercenary heroes as well.
  • Mooks: The Minor Factions. Their villages and roaming armies make good early game fodder for leveling up your heroes and armies. They only have one basic unit available to them, making them quite predictable. When their villages are taken over/rebuilt, they'll add to your city population, and when assimilated, you'll be able to create their unique units to supplement your main forces.
  • Motion Capture Mecha: The Cultists cavalry unit, the Fanatic, is a three-headed horse-like robot with a huge piston for power and a standard Cultist riding on top, guiding the motion of the Fanatic's legs and piston with its hands.
  • Multiple Endings: A variety of victory conditions are available to you:
    • Wonder Victory: Pursue your faction's story questline to its conclusion and you unlock a very expensive, time-consuming building that will take many production points to build, something specific to how your faction intends to rule Auriga or survive the coming eternal winter. Finishing it wins the game.
    • Quest Victory: Similar to the Wonder Victory, this requires that you go through your faction questline, only instead of completing a wonder, you can complete a second, shorter questline to repair a crashed starship and leave Auriga for good. For some factions, like the Mezari and Vaulters, this renders the Wonder victory somewhat superfluous, since you will achieve your Quest victory by the same steps as the Wonder and do it quicker. The primary difference is that it requires running around to various sites and gathering rare resources rather than spending time building a wonder.
    • Science Victory: Research five of the six top-tier techs and you know more about the Endless than anyone else. Researching just ONE will take a long time, however.
    • Diplomacy Victory: Acquire diplomacy points by making deals and being at peace with everyone every turn (alliances are even better) and eventually you'll be so well-liked that you'll be automatically declared world leader.
    • Supremacy Victory / Elimination Victory: Capture everyone's capital city, or just wipe them all out completely.
    • Economic Victory: Make a gross total of a very large amount of Dust and you win. Expenditures don't count against you, either, so make use of the money once you get it!
    • Expansion Victory: Cover about 80% of the world in your cities and you win.
    • Score Victory: Have the highest score at the end of the game, which varies on the game speed setting. (Turn 150 for Fast, 300 for Normal, 450 for slow and 600 for Endless)
  • Nanomachines: Dust. Primarily, it is able to release energy and thus acts as a power source or a way to blow stuff up with "magic." It can also be used to repair or craft items, hence why it acts as a "buyout" option. In lore it also can be used for bioengineering, sometimes inducing sapience in pre-sapient species.
  • Necessary Drawback: You'll want more than one city, because every city gives you more FIDS, but it becomes more and more expensive resource-wise to use luxury boosters or implement plans on the Empire Plan for every city you've got. You also cannot realistically research every tech in the game, so you need to get picky (particularly in multiplayer).
  • Nobody Poops: Averted with the Sewer System improvement available to cities. Building it adds to happiness thanks to a reduction in squalor.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: The Cultists of The Eternal End is an entire civilization of them. They're not responsible for what is happening in Auriga (at least not directly), but their primary goal is to extinguish the legacy of the Endless across the universe and kill everyone along the way, starting with the other factions of Auriga.
  • One-Man Army:
    • Certain units, including Guardians and the Allayi Skyfin, have the "Solitary" capacity, making them unable to join an army formation or even garrison within a city. Fortunately the game has a "reinforcements" system, letting nearby units engage in battle too, so a Guardian can help out in a battle started by a normal army. And most Guardians (except the Support-class Dust Guardian) are indeed capable of laying waste to many enemies.
    • With the appropriate equipment upgrades and skill tree perks, certain heroes can lay waste to enemy armies on their own. Dealing massive damage with legendary weapons, absorbing blows with high-level armor, and then regenerating damage done between turns thanks to certain accessories is all within the realm of possibility.
  • One-Woman Wail: Both themes of the Drakken (An Ancient Wail and Wisdom of Dark Ages) feature this.
  • Ontological Mystery: Several of the faction quests have shades of this, particularly that of the Vaulters. Completing a faction's quest usually represents that faction getting answers about the nature of Auriga, Dust, or the Endless.
  • Our Giants Are Bigger: There are already many larger than human-sized units in the game, such as the hydras and Tenei Walkers. But the addition of the Guardians add-on gives you unique super-units that tower over everything else in the game. Symbiosis also adds the Urkans, which are around the same size.
  • Our Monsters Are Different: Combined with Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp" - Many of the minor factions resemble usual fantasy races (centaurs, orcs, demons), but aren't called that - instead, the common fantasy name is used for that faction's units - centaurs are Bos scouts and skirmishers, orcs are Hurnas hunters, daemons are Kazanji priests, and so on.
  • Prequel:
    • To Endless Space. Auriga can be rediscovered in a barren, lifeless state, and certain characters reference back to Endless Legend (such as Opbot and a Broken Lords hero). For the Vaulters, the whole stint on Auriga is more of a case of Lost Colony, as they were a high-tech race once and aim to reclaim that status.
    • Even moreso to Endless Space 2, with the Vaulters' Quest leading directly into their state in that game.
  • Proud Merchant Race: The Roving Clans, to the point where they cannot even declare war directly as it would negatively impact trade. Instead, they fight with mercenaries using False Flag Operations.
  • Randomly Drops: Rewards for searching ruins are pulled from random lists. You can potentially find Dust, a resource, a side quest, a powerful weapon (even very early in the game), or nothing at all.
  • Rogue Drone: Several Necrophage heroes are stated to be these, according to their bios. This is generally the result of the heroes having come into contact with Dust and thereby achieving full sentience.
  • Schizo Tech: The Vaulters. Despite starting the game with medieval-era technology, they have giant robots and their weapon and armor designs incorporate several futuristic elements. It's not a surprise since they are the only ones who remember that their ancestors came from the stars.
  • Science Fantasy: The game is set in the same universe as Endless Space, only instead of spacefaring empires, the focus is on primitive, medieval cultures developing on a world that once belonged to the Precursors.
  • Shockwave Stomp: Urces, Silics, and the quest-exclusive Scyther units all have the "Beam" capacity, which allows their attacks to hit three spaces in front of them.
  • Shoulders of Doom: The Sisters of Mercy have massive shoulder guards with no cuirass.
  • Shout-Out: To several other works like A Song of Ice and Fire.
    • One of the houses mentioned in the Broken Lords is called House Umber. Another possible shout out is that the eternal winter begins on turn 300. In A Song of Ice and Fire the winter everyone has spent the entire series dreading begins in the year 300 AC
    • The Wild Walkers Sharing is quite similar to Skinchangers ability to Warg into other animals with the danger of losing in to the beast's mind.
    • To Warhammer 40,000: the Queen of the Cultists is entombed in an indestructible throne much like the Emperor of Man. Plus its followers are fanatic/enslaved beings who forcefully conquer or convert everyone into their cause, which is the Imperium of Man's standard policy.
    • Another nod to Warhammer 40,000 would be the design of the Sisters of Mercy, who look like the Adepta Sororitas down to their dyed silver hair, page-boy haircuts, and huge shoulder pads.
    • The final line in the launch trailer is "unless".
    • An ability in the tree shared among all heroes is called Indiana Bones; it increases the chance for the hero to find loot while searching ruins.
    • One of the naval quests talks about a pirate called White Walter, who has been polluting the markets with some strange blue crystal, and whose victims are Burning Gus, the Pink Man, and Sol the Solicitor.
    • Another naval quest has you fix a bathysphere, which was used to fight against blue enemies. The name of the quest is "Yellow bathysphere, yellow bathysphere".
  • Silicon-Based Life: The aptly named Silics are walking crystals. They're a subspecies of the Dust-abhoring Harmony aliens present in the larger Endless universe.
  • SkeleBot 9000: The Ended have what appear to be holographic torsos, capped by a skull-like mask. They're "undead" created by mad science of the Endless, after all.
  • A Storm Is Coming: Auriga switches between Summer and Winter seasons. Winter applies a range of penalties to all units and cities, AND each winter comes quicker, lasts longer, and carries more penalties than the previous one. Some technologies help mitigate the effects, as do high level heroes. Further, you can also build the Altar of Auriga using Pearls that appear during Winter. By spending more Pearls, you can unlock improvements and equipment that help mitigate the effects of Winter, or even grant bonuses.
  • Sufficiently Analyzed Magic: Most things taken as supernatural in the game are actually the result of Dust acting upon them.
  • Theme Music Power-Up: Whenever you research enough technologies to reach a new era, a fanfare plays followed by your faction's Leitmotif. Subverted when you reach Era VI, the final technology era, where the somber Last Era plays instead, driving home how Auriga's climate is nearing total collapse.
  • Tragic Villain: The Broken Lords. Forced to bind their souls to Animated Armor to survive, these Knights In Shining Armor suffer significant angst over the fact that they must drain Dust from living creatures to sustain themselves.
    Broken Lord leader: Where is our honor now, Lords of the Amber Plains?
  • Vertical Mecha Fins: Most Broken Lords heroes have ornate golden "wings" on their backs reminiscent of Polish winged hussars.
  • Video Game Delegation Penalty:
    • The "auto explore" feature for armies. The AI is extremely inefficient with their pathing at best and, at worst, will "explore" areas such as moving back and forth along the same section of coastline or directly around your home base. Since it only takes a split second to set a new path for an exploring army, you'll get much more desirable results moving them yourself.
    • Automating a city has similar issues, with the AI being rather poor about choosing what to build.
  • War for Fun and Profit: Inverted with the Proud Merchant Race Roving Clans, who are incapable of declaring war because it's bad for business; can't have armies roving around plundering trading routes and scaring away the customers! It's probably a good thing too, because they're bad at combat. Luckily, they can hire mercenaries who can engage in False Flag Operations - and bribe them with mouth-watering delicacies and extra gold to make them more motivated in combat.
  • We Buy Anything: With the right technologies you can buy or sell anything on the marketplace: strategic resources, luxury resources, units from other factions, heroes, even stockpiled crates of food, production and science boosters. The Roving Clans start off with all of this unlocked, and even better, get the ability to see who's buying what and get a cut of the money traded. They can also ban other factions from the marketplace. (For example, if you're Clans and see your neighbor is buying a lot of mercenaries to bolster their forces, you can cut them out of the market to put an end to it).
  • Zerg Rush: A viable strategy for the Cultists. They're limited to only a single city, but they can convert minor faction villages to their side who will produce one unit every so many turns. After a few conversions, they can easily put together the largest army in the game's early stages, albeit one utterly lacking in synergy. Since these units are produced automatically and have upkeep costs, one solution is to gather up the ones you don't care about and send them off against your rival empires. Even if they're defeated, you will have, at minimum, delayed your opponent from exploring and potentially producing with a costly siege.

So the void became the shape...
...and the shape became the land...
...and the land became rich...
...and all of that is me...
Auriga.
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