AOE4 Concept: Religion

AOE2 has long been my favourite game of all time. Over the years I’ve come up with various concepts of what I would like to see in the ultimate RTS. A lot of these concepts involve a considerable amount of complexity and micromanagement. I know this is not for everyone. I propose a game type dedicated to those who enjoy greater complexity, micromanagement, and city building. These will invariably be longer games. This is my concept on religion. I hope AOE4 includes some of these.

Religion was of no real signifiance in AOE2. You built a monastery and had a monk who could heal, convert, and move around relics. During the Middle Ages in Europe, religion was of huge signifiance. Countless wars were thought in the name of religion and it effected everyones lives; from peasants, to soldiers, to royalty. How can this be portrayed in a game?

I propose demilitarized zones for religion. Imagine something like the Vatican. At a random locations around the map there could be a demilitarized area for each religion. Each demilitarized zone would act as the religious centre for all civilizations adhering to that religion. It would act as a living town, making the world more alive, and be a place of peace for all players of that religion. The city and its surrounded would be demilitarized, so no units would be able to attack while in the vicinity of the zone. The city would only be accessible only to civilizations adhering to the specific religion.

I’ll use Christanity as an example for how this would work:

Demilitarized Zone: Papal State
Religion: Christanity
Leader: Pope
Holy War Type: Crusade

  • The Papal state is a demilitarized zone accessible to only Christian civilizations. The state conists of a fortified town surrounded by idyllic farmland.

  • You can sent villagers and military units on a pilgrimage to the Papal state. Units who complete the pilgrimage and pray for a day/night cycle, will be blessed and receive a bonus (able to hold more resources, more hit points, move faster, etc). You don’t get these bonuses for nothing. 1 in 25 pilgrims will be taken as tribute. This unit is no longer under your control and becomes a citizen of the Papal state. If the unit was a peasant, they will work on the Papal fields. If the unit was a military unit, they will join the Papal army. Units who make the pilgrimage to the Papal state will gain permanent bonuses.

  • Once you build your first church, you can then train a priest. Each church can sustain one priest. Priests gives minor temporary bonuses to units close to the church. Each church can train and sustain one missionary. The missionary can give gives minor temporary bonuses to units anywhere on the map. The missionary can also convert units, which the priest cannot. For every church you build, the Papal state will request ongoing tribute from you. It is not mandatory to pay this tribute. Once you’re priest has served for 7 day/night cycles in your church, you can sent him to the Papal state. If he prays there for 7 day/night cycles, you can upgrade him to a bishop. Once you have unlocked your first bishop, this also unlocks cathedrals (if you are advanced enough).

  • Cathedrals sustain one bishop. The bishop gives moderate temporary bonuses to units close to the cathedral. These bonuses do not stack with the bonuses from priests. Each cathedral can train and sustain one warrior bishop. A warrior bishop gives gives moderate temporary bonuses to units anywhere on the map. Warrior bishops can also convert units, which bishops cannot. For every cathedral you build, the Papal state will request ongoing tribute from you. If you have two or more cathedrals, and one of your bishops has served for a period of 7 day/night cycles in your cathedral, you can send him back to the Papal state. If he prays there for 7 day/night cycles, you can upgrade him to archbishop. Civilisations can only have one archbishop.

  • Your archbishop rotates between your cathedrals. He gives temporary considerable bonuses to units close to your cathedrals. The Pope may call your archbishop to the Papal state at anytime for mass. While your archbishop is visiting the Papal state, the Pope may promote him to cardinal. Civilisations can only have one cardinal. The cardinal remains your unit but now remains permanently at the Papal state. Now that you have a cardinal, you may vote along side other cardinals in matters of the Papal state. Cardinals vote whether to release grants, sent miliary assistance, and whether to enact holy wars. The Papal state may reward busy churches and cathedrals to help make structural advancements.

  • If you’re town is under attack, you can request assistance from the Pope. If you’re being attacked by a fellow Christian civilization, the Pope may ask that civilization to halt the attacks or put restrictions on that civilization. If the attack is from a non-Christian civilization, he may send the Papal army to assist you. All requests are decided upon by the Pope and his cardinals. If Christian civilzations are being assulted by non-Christian civilzations, the Pope may call a crusade. Players who participate in cruisades will be rewarded with bonues, incentives, and spoils of war. Alongside Christian civilzations, the Papal army will also take part in the crusade.


  • Preist: Max one per church. Base unit. Gives minor temporary bonuses to units near the church.
  • Missionary: Max one per church. Base unit. Gives minor temporary bonuses to units anywhere on the map, can convert enemy units.


  • Bishop: Max one per cathedral. Upgraded from priest. Gives temporary moderate bonuses to units close to the cathedral.
  • Warrior Bishop: Max one per cathedral. Upgraded from missionary. Gives temporary moderate bonuses to units anywhere on the map, can convert enemy units.
  • Archbishop: Max one per civilization. Upgraded from bishop. Gives temporary considerable bonuses to units close to any cathedral, can convert enemy units.
  • Cardinal: Max one per civilization. Upgraded from archbishop. Permanently resides in the Papal state and votes on Papal affairs.

Other Religons:

  • Buddhism
  • Confucianism/Taoism
  • Hinduism
  • Islam
  • Norse
  • Shamanism
  • Zoroastrianism

Any comments or thoughts appreciated.


In Age of Mythology, faith is a resource which can be used to train certain units. Each civ has a different way of harvesting faith: dedicate villagers to temples, fight, build structures, etc.
In Starcraft 2 co-op campaigns, there are certain commanders with abilities to harvest resources other than mineral and gas. Abathur/Dehaka can harvest bio mass/essence by killing enemy units, Karax can harvest solar energy using a special building, Mengsk can harvest support by setting up a special unit.

To do something similar, give the monks an ability to be “set up”. It becomes fixed in its current location, and starts to gather faith where the gathering rate depends on the number of your own units within a certain radius of the monk. Each unit will be counted once even if you set up multiple monks.

This way you have a rare resource that is faith, and you can spend it on some special units or upgrades. Maybe some highly situational support/defense unit to avoid it being abused.

Or, religions could be depicted like “cards” which give advantages and disadvantages, with faith as a “resource”. Like this:

  • When player wants to advance to the second age, a “religious leader” is chosen: for example, a Buddhist Lama, a Christian Pope, a Islamic Imam, and so on. Each leader represents a religion player chooses. Like in AOEIII in age advances.
  • Each religious leader gives advantages and disadvantages. For example, the Pope gives “Ora et labora”, which represents monk life: it gives an advantage by making workers faster (“labora” = work, monks working hard in monasteries) but also a disadvantage by setting a maximum cap to military (“ora” = pray, people becoming monks instead of soldiers).
  • Advantage can be slightly increased by building a “religious structure” (church for Christians, mosque for Islam, and so on): the more you build, the more “faith” increases. As faith increases, the religion advantage increases proportionally (for example, Christian workers are 10% faster by default, each church adds a further 1%). You can build only a given maximum of these structures, which must not be cheap.
  • Every player can choose any religion, and more players can choose the same. Choosing no religion is allowed.

The Christanity was Weak… But the European capitalism defeated all other religions…
See here-

I am not myself very knowledge-able within the field of Religion, however, I do like how the hierarchy and documented influence is supporting these units on a historical level.

For AoE IV input,
Assuming a 15-40 min game, having such -many- hierarchies until armies can be shipped is both mind-draining, multi-task draining and a delay to any civs direct influence.

I like your ‘Cathedral’ theme, as a means beyond church to use improved Religious units/tech/boosts.

If ‘Religious Seats’ could exist on maps, wherein the field; a civ can build a local Post; grants/further adds that religions units as extra Pop max. (Similar to how Native Posts works in AoE3).

And again a highly interestingt idea by you. I dont’t want AoE4 to go as far as AoM but I think more religion is very good and giving another important dimension to the game.

I got a strong feeling that you like diplomacy games. By the way, they could use some more depth themselves. As you already said in your introduction I think your concept is to complex for the normal AoE Game but would be an interestingt addon/mod for long diplomacy games. The problem is that your mental ressources as player are limited and working on this concept of religion woud require nearly an equal amount of attention as managing your economy which is to much from my point of view.

I love the idea of not being tied to the historically correct religion. It lets you adapt to the civ of your opponent to get rid of structural civ disadvantages which could occur in certain matchups.

What about reliques? They could increase the bonus as well. Or (like @AuroraStardaze said) conquering certain “spiritual points” on the map or placing your religious building there (like the tradeposts in AoE3).

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Depends on how long a game you want. If you only want 15-40 minute games I don’t think the concept would really work. I was more thinking multi-hour games. I think it would add something fresh over a longer game. Something you can put focus on for a little between working on your town and battling it out etc.

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You got me. :smile: I think there is a huge scope for advanced diplomacy in AOE4. Think along the lines of vassal states, baronages, principalities, and multi-tiered empires. I wont get into that here.

I know where you’re coming from and agree that in a short game that may be the case. It could be rectified with an automated or otherwise simplified process.

I don’t think it would ever amount to needing an equal amount of attention as your economy. With my concept, once priests and bishops are assigned to a building, they are essentially automated in doing their rounds. Its would only be missionaries and warrior bishops you would move around manually.

One way to make the process simplified would be on screen reminders. Say your bishop has upgraded to archbishop. You get an on screen notification. You can click on the notification and with one click return him home. That or he automatically returns home after the upgrade. There would be ways to streamline the concept.

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Nice post…these types of post should be up. Lot more ideas, less complaining, and fighting!