In ancient times, Auriga suffered from a series of dreadful cataclysms which almost destroyed it. The world recovered but is now showing signs of aftershocks, hinting at another oncoming cataclysm. These aftershocks are manifested in the form of radical seasonal changes, the entire planet shifting suddenly from Summer to Winter, with the Winters - also referred to as the Dark Season - becoming progressively longer, harsher, and more frequent as the years go by. It is this change and impending doom that drives the main questlines for most of the Major Factions, with the goal being to find a way to survive inevitable unending winter, one way or another.
Summer can be thought as the 'default' state of Auriga, with every game starting in summer. During summer, things function as they normally would, with many city improvements - especially early ones focusing on the production of Food and Dust - only functioning during summer. Summers will always be functionally the same no matter how long the game goes on, but they do tend to become shorter as the game progresses.
Introduced in the Inferno DLC, Dust Eclipses are an event that happens only during summer and occur somewhat randomly, with only the Kapaku knowing when the next eclipse is due or when the current one ends, thanks to their "Stargazers" trait. The length and frequency of Dust Eclipses can be somewhat adjusted during the game's setup, but are always semi-random in both these traits. After a Dust Eclipse ends, there will always be at least one turn of summer before Winter begins.
The turn before a Dust Eclipse starts, the lighting will change to give the world a dusk-like appearance, and when the Dust Eclipse fully begins the world will appear as though it is night, with a phenomenon resembling the aurora borealis appearing above the world. However, aside from the visual changes, a number of beneficial effects will come into effect for the duration of the eclipse that are meant to promote exploration and active plays rather than the more defensive strategy Winter tends to promote.
Faction Dust Eclipse Effects
During a Dust Eclipse, every major faction gains a unique benefit that plays to their strengths. This effect is tied to the faction's affinity, so a custom faction built off of the Wild Walkers will always share the same Dust Eclipse effect as the Wild Walkers. The benefits each faction gains are as follows:
- Wild Walkers: The Sharing ability is active on all regions of the map instead of only regions adjacent to those the Wild Walkers control, and movement through forest tiles only costs 0.5 instead of 2 .
- Broken Lords: Broken Lords units and heroes gain the ability "Soul Burn". This ability is activated at no cost and lasts for one turn, but cannot be deactivated if selected. When Soul Burn is active, the affected unit will receive a 30% boost to Attack , but lose 10% of their max Life at the end of each turn in combat. this ability can only be activated by Broken Lords units and heroes controlled by a Broken Lords empire.
- Vaulters: As long as a Holy Resource has been chose, units can teleport from city tiles to heroes controlled by the Vaulters anywhere in the world. Note, however, that any teleported units effectively merge into the hero's army, meaning that other heroes cannot teleport this way, and the targeted hero must have enough room in it's army to accept the units that wish to teleport.
- Necrophages: Whenever a Recycled Stockpile is used, it will also create a Battle Born unit in the city it was used on.
- Ardent Mages: Units with the Ardent Fire capacity will receive a bonus to Damage based on missing Life as well as the normal bonus to Attack during a Dust Eclipse. This applies to all units or heroes with the Ardent Fire capacity, regardless of which empire controls them.
- Roving Clans: Roving Clans cities provide a +20% Health Regen bonus to friendly units adjacent to them, and the Setseke unit becomes much more powerful.
- Drakken: -50% Influence cost of diplomatic declarations and treaties during a Dust Eclipse.
- Cultists: Minor Faction units receive +10% per City Center's level to Attack , Damage , Defense , and Life .
- Forgotten: Infiltrated Forgotten spies gain the "Dust Opportunists" infiltration action, which allows the spies to steal Dust directly from the targeted empire's treasury.
- Allayi: Units gain +2 and an additional Action Point.
- Morgawr: Naval units gain +4 .
- Kapaku: Confluxes are visible in regions controlled by the Kapaku and the explored areas of adjacent regions, and confluxes provide greater benefits to units that collect them.
During a Dust Eclipse, all Temple and Sunken Ruins on the map all become 'refreshed', allowing you to search them again for another reward. The reward you receive for searching these ruins in this way is slightly different from what they would typically provide; for example, you may receive Strategic Resources from searching a Temple ruin where normally you could only get Luxury Resources, and searching ruins in this way typically doesn't result in getting a quest. However, it should be noted that, unlike how ruins normally operate, where multiple empires can each search the same ruin once, the extra search that the Dust Eclipse provides can only be utilized by one empire, and once a ruin is searched in this way, no other empire will be able to search it. It should also be noted that this effect does not apply solely to ruins that have already been searched before; if you have not yet searched a temple ruin and a Dust Eclipse starts, you will be able to search the ruin twice in the same turn - first through the special search that the eclipse provides, and second from the ruin's default search.
Ruins can only be searched this way for the duration of the Dust Eclipse, and once it ends, any ruins that were not searched will revert back to their normal state.
Confluxes are objects that appear at random points on the map - similar to Pearls - that armies are able to pick up for bonuses that last the duration of the Dust Eclipse and a small experience boost. There are three types of confluxes, each of which provide a different boost, and all three types can be active on an army at the same type, but collecting multiple confluxes of the same type will not make their effects stack, though the experience reward is still received. Kapaku units receive a greater benefit from the confluxes due to the faction's "Shaman's Knowledge" trait.
Dust Blizzards are a Weather phenomenon that occurs during a Dust Eclipse that appear as golden clouds on the map. Unlike most other weather phenomena - which only occur on sea or ocean tiles - Dust Blizzards can occur on any tile except for ridges. Dust Blizzards, like the other types of weather, affect armies on the world map and units in Battle differently. An army in a Dust Blizzard gains stealth for as long as they remain in it, an can only be seen by adjacent units or units with the True Sight capacity. In Battle, a unit that starts the round in a Dust Blizzard will receive +50% Defense against ranged attacks, but also -30% Attack
When winter arrives, life becomes more difficult, and becomes more difficult for each successive winter after. The first winter of every game will always have the same effects (with slight variations depending on Winter Difficulty), but each winter after that will randomly add another effect, so if the first winter has 3 effects, the second will have 4, the third will have 5, and so on. These effects are almost always negative, though some are neutral, or can even be advantageous in the right situation. It is also possible to avoid the negative effects of winter through a few City Improvements, or to negate all negative effects from winter on a given army or city by putting a hero with the "Cold Operator" skill (tier 5 on the Common Skill Tree) in command of the army or city.
Penalties for winters are listed below. These penalties are cumulative.