All minor faction villages on the map begin hostile to the major factions around them. These villages will slowly produce small roving armies that will menace great powers by attacking their units and cities. These villages, however, can be pacified and later assimilated. A pacified village ceases to produce hostile units and gives a bonus worker to be used in the city (this does not, however, increase the city's population). Pacification can be achieved in four different ways:
If attacked, the village will defend itself with a few (usually two or three) of its unique units. If defeated, the village is destroyed, but its ruins remain on the map and can never be removed. After a village has been razed, the owner of the region (if there is one) may rebuild the village by selecting it as a construction option in the city menu. When the village has been rebuilt, it is automatically pacified.
Edit: It is somewhat misleading to list attacking as a method of pacification. Attacking never pacifies a village. It is the rebuilding of a conquered village that pacifies it. This requires having a city in the same territory as the village and some number of production turns.
By paying a certain amount of Dust, the village will become pacified. This only affects the village offered the bribe; bribing one village does not pacify other villages in the same region. This option requires knowledge of the Language Square (Tier I) technology.
Choosing to parley with the minor faction triggers the beginning of a unique quest. If this quest is completed, all of the villages in the region will be pacified. Quest objectives typically involve destroying a minor faction's village in a nearby region, building certain buildings or units, or paying the faction a certain amount of resources. In addition to pacification, many of the minor faction quests provide a bonus of Dust or resources, and some even provide unique items or technologies otherwise impossible to research. Like bribery, parleying requires the knowledge of Language Square.
This option is only available to the Cultists and custom factions based on their affinity. By spending influence points, the Cultists may convert a minor village to their cause. The village must be pacified before the conversion takes place; villages pacified by any means can be converted to the Cultists' faith. A converted village sends a portion of the FIDS yields in surrounding squares back to the capital city, boosting the main city's FIDSI output in turn. Periodically, the villages produce one of their racial units for free. Though these troops cannot be retrofitted, they can be sold for valuable Dust. If a converted village previously belonged to another major faction, that faction loses all of the benefits gained from the village upon conversion, including assimilation bonuses and extra population. Unlike pillage, conversion can be used on the villages belonging to the Empires you're currently in peace with (provided one can get an army inside their territory). This, as one may expect, has a negative infulence on the relationships. Mercenary units, including those generated by the villages already assimilated, can't convert villages.
The only way to reclaim a village converted by Cultists is to raze it and rebuild it.
Although the in-game tooltip claims a converted village exploits 6 hexes around it, actually the hexes from the same region only can be exploited. Converting razed villages costs more influence than converting those pacified peacefully.
Note: The Necrophages and all custom factions with the Pitiless trait cannot research Language Square, and consequently may not bribe or parley with minor villages; they can only assimilate minor races by destroying and rebuilding their villages.
When one of the villages in a region are pacified and the player owns a city in the region, the minor faction that the village belongs to can be assimilated via the empire screen. In the bottom left, there is a section for assimilated minor factions. Initially, only one race can be assimilated, but two more slots can be opened by researching the Native District (Tier II) and Cultural Indoctrination (Tier IV) technologies. If desired, an assimilated race can be switched out for another race if there are no open slots remaining. Assimilating and switching races requires the expenditure of influence. The cost is based on the number of minor factions you have already assimilated. Your first minor faction costs 30 Influence Points, the second 100 Influence, and the third 290. Switching costs are the same 30, 100, or 290 depending on how many factions are assimilated.
Many early quests in the faction questlines require the assimilation of a minor faction. In addition to this, assimilation also provides two important benefits to the major faction: a racial unit and an assimilation bonus.
The racial unit of the assimilated faction is added to the roster of troops available for recruitment and can be upgraded and retrofitted just like the major faction's own units. The production cost of the racial unit decreases as more of its race's villages are pacified and brought under control. This unique unit type is available so long as there is at least one of that faction's villages remaining in the empire.
Assimilation bonuses improve the empire's FIDSI output or attributes of all military units owned by the patron major faction. These bonuses always increase with each additional pacified village.
- There is a cap of 6 Assimilated villages per race. Additional villages for that minor race do not give bonuses.
- Regions with multiple minor villages are prime targets for colonization, as every village provides a free worker to be used in the regional capital.
- Every major race has gaps in its military, and some roles will always be left unfilled by its native troop types. Assimilated minor faction troops can round out the empire's army.
- Assimilation bonuses scale up with the number of that race's pacified villages inside the empire. In general, focus on assimilating races with multiple pacified villages; this is less likely to matter in the early game.
- Parleying is preferable to attacking and bribing, especially in regions with multiple villages. The cost in Dust to a village is significant early on, when Dust should be better saved for heroes and other uses. Attacking is also difficult in the early game, as every village is defended by multiple units and some of the base minor units are more powerful than any of the early-game troops the major factions can build. Parleying also leads to quests which can yield unique technologies, resources, and Dust. And, should a quest prove too daunting, the other options remain open.
- Try to pacify and assimilate hostile villages quickly and early on if possible, certainly soon after colonizing a region. Hostile villages will produce soldiers that will rove across your empire looking for weak targets to kill.