This is our sixth and final faction guide for Age of Wonders: Planetfall. This time around, we’ll be focusing on the Syndicate. The Syndicate faction predominantly uses its Indentured units (or slaves) as the backbone of their armies, emphasizing stealth, espionage, and diplomacy in their playstyle. This faction guide takes a look at the best tactics and strategies to maximize your Dvar playthrough.
Note: You can also take a look at our Age of Wonders: Planetfall features and guides hub to learn more about the basics, research trees, secret techs, and character customization.
Age of Wonders: Planetfall – The Syndicate faction
One of the reasons why I saved the Syndicate last for this series of Age of Wonders: Planetfall guides was that I honestly considered them the most complicated faction to pick. Unlike the other races in the game, their strengths were not too overt nor straightforward, and they don’t have any racial traits that nudge them towards a particular terrain or biome type.
Sadly, the Syndicate early-game experience in Age of Wonders: Planetfall leaves a lot to be desired. Many of their early-game units use Arc damage while support units use Psionic damage. Oddly enough, they play vastly different compared to the Assembly or Kir’ko which use those damage channels. Their offensive options are fairly weak from the get-go, requiring a bit of time and patience in order to see them to their full potential. The faction does, admittedly, have a lot of ranged combat options.
Once you do get the ball rolling, you’ll find out that the Syndicate is one of the most versatile Age of Wonders: Planetfall factions, with numerous viable secret techs, and an “Indentured-centric” playstyle that changes how you approach the game completely.
Creating your Syndicate commander
I chose one of the cookie-cutter builds for my Syndicate commander prior to playing some Age of Wonders: Planetfall scenarios. My secret tech of choice was Psynumbra. My commander creation perks were Veteran, Data Repository, Psynumbra Assault Equipment, and No Vice.
Some early to mid-game commander skill picks included Keen Sight, Shield Battery, Strategic Operations Support, Subterfuge, Devour Hope, and Infantry Commander. The last one is a must since most of my armies will have infantry or light units anyway. Given that my commander’s primarily a ranged fighter, I didn’t pick Escape Module and Sinister Chorus which were more ideal for melee battlers.
Note: As for the Psynumbra pick, it’s because of our focus on mods that can buff units accordingly, or break opponent morale (Broken Mind) and other debuffs. Other awesome secret tech choices for the Syndicate include Promethean, Voidtech, and Celestian.
The Syndicate faction – Early techs and mod choices
Remember that part about requiring a bit more time and patience for the Syndicate? This is especially true once you take a look at their Military techs. Some would require a bit of extra work just to see a boost in your flanking capabilities, or stealthily roaming around the map. Others such as the Cerebral Control Collars mod would tag units as “indentured,” but, this will only be possible for non-Syndicate units (ie. ones rewarded by AI faction quests).
A good pick to have early on would be Mantra of Clarity. The mod makes enemies easier to hit when you’ve damaged them with a Psionic attack, while Psionic buffs on your units make them harder to hit instead. If you went with the Promethean secret tech, then the Focus: Flames mod will synergize well with the Thermal Targeting Relay mod.
As for your Society techs, the Noble Diplomats doctrine operation should be activated as soon as possible. This doctrine provides +1 influence and +15 energy per turn for every faction you’re at peace with. You’re likely to focus on a diplo-oriented playthrough as well so grab the Dawn of the Union tech and Planetary Unification doctrine later. The other early-game Syndicate-specific doctrine is Indentured Contracts which halves the upkeep of all Indentured units, including those that are wearing Cerebral Control Collars.
For the most part, though, you’d want to start teching-up for improvements to your espionage and operations capabilities (the bottom part of the Society tech tree). There are a number of Syndicate military techs and even commander skills that help improve your operations across the board.
For the Psynumbra secret tech branch, Mark of the Dark Sun and Consuming Gaze are extremely important to have. The former is a mod that increases your unit’s damage by 20% for each killing blow, stacking up to three times, while also adding resistance bonuses. The latter provides your units with a damaging Psionic attack that applies Broken Mind (reduces morale and Psionic resistance) while healing your unit for 20 HP!
The Psynumbra Initiate unit (and the Malictor unit later on) are amazing if you’re using Indentured units as the backbone of your armies. Both have the “Fueled by Servitude” trait, increasing their Psionic damage by +1 (up to a maximum of +5) for each Indentured unit in a battle!
Age of Wonders: Planetfall – The Age of the Syndicate
With dozens of Indentured units (by default or modded) comprising the core of your armies, you can boost the capabilities of your Initiates and Malictors. Throw in an Overseer specialist unit and you’ll have someone who can heal and reset the turn of an Indentured unit during a tactical round (at the cost of a little Psionic damage, of course).
Ideally, you’ll want to focus on units obtained from your secret techs. But, there’s also a nifty trick discovered by Reddit user AnemoneMeer. It involves getting the Subjugator unit. The Subjugator can revive Indentured units to full health, but it has another cool trick up its sleeve — it can mind control units and turn them into Indentured at the end of combat. On the off chance that a certain unit has a mod, gaining control of them will also allow you to obtain that mod for use later on. If the AI commander is using the mod from a different secret tech, then it’ll allow your Syndicate units to have access to that mod!
With your doctrine that adds influence and energy for every faction you’re at peace with, you’re looking at a Unification Victory towards the end. Naturally, you can look to AI minors to become your friends with benefits. The Psi-Fish are the optimal choice due to their Mantra of Illusion and Focus: Chimera mods for your Psionic attacks. The Paragon faction is a distant second with their Mantra of the Branded mod.
The Syndicate is a ruthless faction of mind-controlling and slave-driving merchants, stealthily worming their way around the battlefield. If you work at it and you find some complementary synergies for your core units, then the Syndicate faction might provide you with some tricks and treats in your Age of Wonders: Planetfall playthrough.
For more Age of Wonders: Planetfall guides and features, be sure to check out our hub right over here. If you’ve yet to check out Age of Wonders: Planetfall, then you can find the game via its Steam store page.