An Upkeep Cost is a set amount of Mana, Gold and/or Food which must be paid at the start of each turn in order to maintain the existence of a permanent spell or unit. Virtually all units in the game incur some kind of Upkeep Cost, and all permanent spells (e.g. Enchantments and Fantastic Units) must be maintained with at least 1 per turn. Town Buildings also require maintenance. Failure to pay the Upkeep Cost of any asset will cause that asset to be "destroyed": units are disbanded, while spells dissipate. In either case, you have lost the asset.
In Master of Magic, the vast majority of permanent assets require some kind of payment to be made at the start of each turn in order to keep them in play. This is referred to as the asset's "Upkeep Cost".
The Upkeep Cost of an asset depends entirely on its nature. Most Normal Units, recruited in Towns, require one or more Food pieces to maintain, as well as a modest (or sometimes, less modest) payment in Gold. Heroes often require a large sum of to be paid every turn for their services, on top of whatever cost it took to recruit them. The same applies for Town Buildings, which require Gold to maintain. Permanent magic spells, referred to as Enchantments, require a pricey Mana Upkeep Cost to maintain, and so do summoned Fantastic Units.
The Upkeep Costs of all assets that require one are taken out of your resources automatically, at the start of each turn. You do not get a choice whether to pay each individual Upkeep Cost. If the Wizard lacks the resources to pay the Upkeep Cost of any of her assets, she will lose those assets immediately before her turn begins. The most recently-created Upkeep-requiring units or spells are often destroyed first when this occurs.
There are several factors which may increase or reduce the Upkeep Cost of any asset (or many different assets all at once). Most common are the effects of beneficial Retorts, which may reduce the Upkeep Costs of units or spells. Enemy Curses cast on the overland map may increase the Upkeep Cost of units or spells from one or more Realms, and so forth.
Upkeep Costs by Asset Type Edit
The following section explains in some detail the various types of Upkeep Costs in the game, respective to the type of assets that require them.
Normal Units Edit
All Normal Units in the game require an Upkeep Cost of 1 Food. Additionally, the decisive majority of Normal Units require some amount of Gold to be paid each turn as well - an amount corresponding to the unit's overall value.
A Normal Unit will automatically be disbanded if its either its Food or Gold costs cannot be paid at the start of its owner's turn.
Although the Upkeep Costs in Gold are often much higher, numerically, than the upkeep costs in Food, it is often harder to produce enough Food to support one's army. This is due to the limited amount of Food one's cities can produce, compared to the relative ease with which a Wizard can get more Gold, such as Transmuting Mana to Gold, etc.
Normal Unit Food Upkeep Edit
- Each and every Normal Unit requires exactly 1 Food per turn for its maintenance.
- The Food upkeep is automatically factored into the global Food consumption. If the Wizard's Towns produce enough excess Food per turn (beyond what's needed to feed all citizens across the empire) to feed all Normal Units currently under the Wizard's employ, then everything is fine.
- However, if at the start of a Wizard's turn the balance is negative, I.E. producing less Food per turn than the combined requirements of the entire empire, the most recently-created Normal Units which cannot be fed on the current total food production are immediately disbanded - lost for good.
- Therefore, Food acts as a limiting factor of the army size to any empire that relies on Normal Units, and forces such empires to pay a greater attention to Town-related aspects of the game, since, unlike Gold or Mana, Food cannot be acquired from Encounter Zones or stockpiled.
Normal Unit Gold Upkeep Edit
- The decisive majority of Normal Units cost a certain amount of Gold each turn. The required amount is equal to the unit's base Production cost divided by 50, rounded up. Thus, more powerful units, generally costing more to produce, will have higher Gold upkeep costs.
- The Gold component of an Upkeep Cost is paid out of the Wizard's Gold pool. Mana is not automatically Transmuted into Gold to pay these costs (if Gold is lacking) - the Gold must be readily available at the start of the turn in order to pay properly. If a unit's Gold costs are not paid, it is immediately disbanded.
- Note however that each race's most basic infantry unit-type (Swordsmen for Dwarves, Spearmen for everyone else) has no Gold upkeep costs whatsoever. This allows such units to be used as garrison troops across the empire, particularly in safe areas where strong enemies are highly unlikely to appear (Spearmen are generally rather weak, after all).
The Upkeep Cost of Heroes is set in stone - it will not rise as the Hero gains Experience Levels. Most starting-level Heroes cost 2 per turn, while some Champions cost 10! The Hero's Upkeep Cost is their Normal Hiring Cost divided by 50 (Wizards may receive reduced hiring costs from retorts, but this does not affect the Upkeep Cost). Heroes are usually worth the cost.
A few Heroes possess a unique Hero Ability called "Noble". The presence of this ability changes the Hero's Upkeep Cost radically: instead of the Hero consuming Gold every turn, he actually gives his controlling wizard 10 per turn! Think of this as a "negative" Upkeep Cost. Unfortunately, the bestowed amount of Gold does not increase as the Hero gains experience.
As with Normal Units, a Hero's Upkeep Cost does not change throughout the game. Turning the Hero into an Undead has the same effect as it does on Normal Units - eliminating the affected Hero's Upkeep Costs. Undead status however does not remove the effect of the Noble ability.
Town Buildings Edit
Each Town Building requires a set Upkeep Cost of 1 or more Gold Pieces. The Upkeep Cost for a building is static (never changing during the game), and is the same regardless of which Race owns the Town in which it was constructed.
The Upkeep Costs for a building only apply once that building's construction has been finished. From that point on, the appropriate amount of Gold is withdrawn automatically from the Wizard's treasury at the start of each turn.
The Upkeep Cost of Town Buildings is purely an economic difficulty - there is no danger of losing Town Buildings due to lack of Gold. However the draining of Gold from the treasury can make it impossible to purchase more assets, to Transmute Gold into Mana, or to pay the Upkeep Costs of other assets that do disappear when unpaid for (such as Heroes).
Though some spells are "cast and forgotten", delivering a one-time effect and thus having only a one-time Mana cost, there are several spells that will stick around longer than that, applying some continuous effect.
These spells are referred to as Enchantments, and are further divided into sub-categories depending on what effect they have. However they all share something in common: as long as you want the effect to remain in play, you must continue paying its Upkeep Cost each turn.
The Upkeep Cost of Enchantments is always paid entirely in Mana. Basic enchantments, such as Common Unit Enchantments may cost as little as 1 Mana to maintain every turn. Advanced Global Enchantments can easily cost many times more than this - and the most expensive ones cost a whopping 200 Mana per turn to maintain!
The Mana is drawn automatically from the wizard's Mana pool at the start of the turn. Spells take their Mana in the order in which they were cast - so "older" spells that were cast some time ago get their Upkeep "payment" first. If Mana runs out, any spell that cannot be paid for will dissipate immediately.
You do not get to draw Mana from alternative sources, such as Transmutation, while the upkeep of all spells is being spent. Neither can you decide which spells will dissipate if you do indeed run out of Mana to pay for them.
Note: The Upkeep Cost of a Unit Enchantment is displayed alongside the unit's own Upkeep Costs, in the unit's details panel. For Fantastic Units, the total Mana cost for both the unit and its current Enchantments is displayed as a single value, instead of two separate values. However for all practical purposes, the unit's upkeep and the spell's upkeep are treated separately: failing to pay the Mana costs for an enchantment will cause only the enchantment itself to dissipate. The unit is not disbanded if the Mana costs for its Enchantments are not paid. Of course, if you fail to pay the unit's own Upkeep Costs, it will be disbanded along with all Unit Enchantments currently affecting it.
- Some Enchantments may be cast during battle, having the same effect as they do when cast on the overland map, but lasting only until the battle ends. Since the Enchantment dissipates as soon as you return to the map, it has no lasting effect and so has no Upkeep Cost.
- The same principle also applies to a number of special spells that permanently change an asset without leaving behind any magical presence which would need maintenance:
- The best example is the Chaos Channels spell, which mutates a unit permanently and then dissipates - demanding no further Mana Upkeep Costs.
- The Black Channels spell acts similarly, turning a unit into an Undead. The unit will remain Undead without any further need for Mana-based maintenance. However the Black Channels spell does have a Mana Upkeep Cost required to maintain several extra bonuses it bestows, and these will dissipate if the upkeep is not paid properly.
- Finally, the Wall of Stone spell will permanently add City Walls to a friendly Town, and then dissipate - requiring no further Mana to maintain those walls. However, City Walls do have an Upkeep Cost which must be paid in Gold, regardless of whether they were created by normal production or by this spell.
Fantastic Creatures Edit
As with Enchantments (see above), Overland Summoning Spells also linger after being cast - in the form of the summoned Fantastic Unit the spell created. This unit requires a steady Upkeep Cost as well.
Fantastic Units draw their payment one by one, from the oldest creatures (i.e. the ones that were summoned first) to the newest ones on the board. If the Wizard runs out of Mana while paying these Upkeep Costs, one or more Fantastic Creature will be disbanded automatically.
Undead Upkeep Costs Edit
The only thing that can alter a unit's Upkeep Cost after the unit enters play is the unit becoming Undead. A Normal Unit, Fantastic Unit or Hero turned into an Undead unit may have radically different costs than it originally had.
Both Normal Units and Heroes completely lose their Upkeep Cost when turned into Undead creatures. This includes both the Gold component and (for Normal Units) the Food component. The affected unit no longer requires any sort of payment to remain in your service.
For Undead Fantastic Units the opposite occurs: their Upkeep Costs are raised by 50% of the unit's base costs. For example, a unit of War Bears normally costs 2 per turn, while an Undead War Bears unit costs 2 + 50% = 3 per turn.
Note that for Heroes possessing the Noble ability, turning into Undead does not alter the Upkeep Cost at all, since the Hero already has no costs. The Undead condition does not cancel the bonus of the Noble either, so the Hero still contributes +10 per turn to your treasury as normal.
Fame and Upkeep Costs Edit
Among other things, a wizard's Fame score has an important effect on the Upkeep Costs he/she pays for maintaining Heroes and Normal Units. The total amount of Gold spent on maintaining these units is reduced by 1 for each 1 the wizard obtains.
For example, if the combined total Upkeep Cost of all the wizard's Normal Units and Heroes is 55, and the wizard's Fame score is 30, then he/she only needs to pay 25 to maintain all of these units ( 55 - 30 = 25).
It is quite possible in this way to reduce the upkeep costs of one's troops to 0 - at which point all of these units are essentially free of charge, and can be maintained indefinitely, even if the wizard is completely bankrupt. Of course, any Food requirements are completely unaffected by Fame, so the empire must still produce enough Food to maintain all those units.
Note that this applies only to the Upkeep Costs of Normal Units and Heroes, which is paid in Gold. Other assets requiring maintenance, including Town Buildings, permanent Spells, or even Fantastic Units are not affected, and will keep draining the appropriate resources as normal.
This mechanism is one of the reasons why Fame is so important - it allows a wizard to expand his/her army, or gather larger amounts of Gold in the treasury, without expanding the economy. The more Fame a wizard has, the greater the empire's potential for growth.
Retorts and Upkeep Costs Edit
- Channeler reduces the Mana upkeep of all Enchantments and Fantastic Units by 50%. This adjustment is applied after summing total costs, so if you have two units with Upkeep Cost of 1, you will pay 1 total, rather than the 2 you would normally pay. Note that this effect is invisible -- spells will look like they have their normal Upkeep Costs, but you will actually only pay half.
- Conjurer reduces the Mana upkeep of Fantastic Units by 25%, rounded down (thus, it has absolutely no effect on units with an Upkeep Cost of 3 or lower).
These two effects are cumulative, but because they are applied in different ways, they are multiplicative rather than additive; having both will not reduce Fantastic Unit upkeep by 75%.