An Animists' Guild is a type of Town Building. It can only be constructed by the High Elves, High Men, Nomads, Orcs, Beastmen, Dark Elves, Draconians and Trolls. A town must contain both the Stables and Temple before it can construct an Animists' Guild. The Animists' Guild's base construction cost is 300.
The Animists' Guild provides three different continuous effects that are extremely potent in any town. As a religious building, the Animists' Guild reduces Unrest in the town by 1. It also produces an amount of Food equal to the number of citizens in this town that are currently assigned to Farmer duty. Finally, whenever a damaged unit is stationed in the town, it will heal at a very high rate of about 20-30% of its total Hit Points each turn!
This makes the Animists' Guild a useful structure to have in any town, but for some races it has further importance. Nomads and Beastmen both get access to some useful units from this structure (but only when the Barracks is present as well). The High Elves, Nomads, Orcs and Dark Elves require the Animists' Guild as one of the components for the Fantastic Stable - which produces even more powerful units.
The Animists' Guild requires an Upkeep Cost of 5 per turn for its maintenance - making it one of the most expensive buildings. However, this cost is usually justified as payment for the awesome bonuses the structure provides. If you're pressed for Gold, an Animists' Guild can be sold back for 100.
With the development of religion in a town, some spiritual citizens may prefer to worship nature itself - or at least the forces deemed to be responsible for affecting its behavior. These are the animists - worshipers of nature. The Animists' Guild is a sort of shrine where the sages of this religion gather to learn about nature and to attempt to find ways to influence or even control it.
The Animists' Guild is essentially a massive tree - grown presumably with magical assistance to serve as a focal point for natural deities. The guild hall is actually inside the tree, though it is unknown whether the animist priests hollow it out or actually force the tree to grow in this way.
Races and Construction Edit
Only 8 out of the 14 Races have access to the Animists' Guild. They are the High Elves, High Men, Nomads, Orcs, Beastmen, Dark Elves, Draconians and Trolls. Other races either lack the desire to unlock the mysteries of nature, or lack the methodical skills to study them.
A town requires both the Stables and the Temple in order to construct an Animists' Guild. Stables form the initial connection between man and the creatures of the natural world, whereas the Temple provides the religious background that will develop into nature-worship. If either of these buildings is missing in a town, the Animists' Guild cannot be built. In fact, if either building is lost or sold off while the Animists' Guild is still in construction, the project will be canceled prematurely and cannot be restarted until these required buildings are rebuilt.
Continuous Effects Edit
The Animists' Guild provides an entire set of continuous effects that improve the town in several different ways. It combines bonuses normally attributed to other types of structures: the religious buildings' Unrest reduction, the farming industry buildings' Food bonus, and a unique bonus that improves healing rates for units stationed in this town.
These effects are so useful that any town which can build an Animists' Guild should strive to do so at some point. Sooner is almost always better.
Unrest Reduction Edit
First and foremost, the Animists' Guild will lower the town's Unrest by exactly 1 point. In other words, if the town has any Rebels (due to high Taxation, subservience to another race, or other reasons) the Animists' Guild will turn 1 Rebel back into a normal, productive citizen. Since almost any town will eventually get its share of Rebels as it grows, a Animists' Guild is almost indispensable.
This bonus is cumulative with the Unrest reduction given by the Shrine and Temple, and any structures that may follow them. Therefore, a town containing an Animists' Guild (with its prerequisite Shrine and Temple) will have 3 fewer Rebels than it would without these three structures.
Food Output Bonus Edit
This amount will automatically adjust itself whenever citizens are reassigned to other duties (or become Rebels). Note however that it completely disregards the amount of Food these citizens generate. It only takes into account the number of Farmers in the town. This can amount to a spectacular bonus in Food output, especially in towns dedicated to Food production.
The extra food can be used for one of two different purposes: to increase the size of your army, or to feed other towns that cannot feed themselves.
Healing Rate Bonus Edit
Normally, when a damaged unit starts its turn in the same tile as a Town, it will regain about 10% of its total Hit Points each turn, so long as it stays in the town. If the town has an Animists' Guild however, this healing rate it boosted to about 16.667%, about twice faster than normal. As a result, units will heal considerably faster, wasting less time on recuperation between battles. This can assist units guarding the town, but you can also move nearby damaged armies (or even individual units) into a town to speed up their healing process. Again, this will save a lot of time waiting for units to heal on their own.
Note: If 16.667% of the total Hit Points is not an integer number, then the game will sometimes round up and sometimes round down the number of healed hit points. The chances for rounding up respectively rounding down depend of the decimal place of said number.
Note that this bonus stacks with that of the Healer ability possessed by some units (i.e. Shamans and Priests, among others). A damaged unit in a town that contains both an Animists' Guild and a Healer unit will regain about 36.667% (!) of its Hit Points each turn - thus usually taking no more than 3 turns to return to full health.
Note: Health restored by Healers is done in a separate calculation. If 20% of the total Hit Points is not an integer number, then the game will always round down this number of healed hit points (e.g. Sprites are not healed at all). Also by a bug, if the healed unit was produced later than the first Healer, then instead of the expected 16.667%, only 1.515% of the total Hit Points will be healed in the other calculation.
Also remember that most Death Realm units and the Undead do not regain health naturally under any circumstances. For these units, no healing occurs regardless of the presence of an Animists' Guild or any other similar effect.
Unlocked Town Buildings Edit
For the High Elves, Nomads, Orcs and Dark Elves, the Animists' Guild is one of two required components for unlocking construction of the Fantastic Stable. The Animists' Guild provides understanding of strange and magical creatures, whereas the other component - the Armorers' Guild - provides high-quality weapons and armor for the riders of these great beasts.
Unlocked Normal Units Edit
Only two of the races - the Nomads and Beastmen - receive new units as a result of constructing the Animists' Guild. However, both races require the existence of a Barracks in the same town in order to produce their new units.
With the Barracks Edit
With these two structures present in a Nomad town, this town can produce Rangers. These units possess a respectable Melee Attack and Ranged Attack which they use in tandem. Despite being foot-mobile, they are as fast as horses, and thus can strike rapidly and at close range.
The same two structures in a Beastmen town will unlock the Manticores. These are Flying creatures whose mediocre Melee Attack is accompanied by a powerful Poison Touch attack. They can swoop down on a target with a low Resistance score in an attempt to cause massive damage to it.
Due to the multitude of continuous effects described in the article above, the addition of an Animists' Guild to a town is a massive boon that simply cannot be ignored - regardless of the dedicated purpose of the town.
Of course, the high Upkeep Cost of the Animists' Guild means that for efficiency's sake, it is considerably better to build this structure in a town that is already well-developed. The more Farmers are assigned, the more is produced by the guild; a town with few Farmers may not enjoy this benefit too greatly. Building an Animists' Guild in a large town is a sure-fire way to boost the size of your armies by a significant amount without having to give up any Food surplus.
Since the Animists' Guild also combats Unrest, towns may want to construct it either before or in addition to the high-tier religious buildings, if they are available at all (i.e. the Parthenon and Cathedral) as Unrest increases.
Unit-production centers have an increased incentive to create an Animists' Guild, either on its own or as a prelude to the construction of the Fantastic Stable. This will unlock some very powerful units.
All in all, try to put one of these buildings in each and every town you own. The more Animists' Guilds you have, the more surplus Food is produced - and that in turn increases the efficiency of your entire empire.
Finally, note that if an army is severely damaged close to a town containing an Animists' Guild, it may be very desirable to move that army into the town in order to enjoy the healing-rate benefits of that army - shortening the time it would take to restore this army to full health. This can shave off several turns off an army's recuperation time, and gives yet another reason to erect Animists' Guilds everywhere - especially close to the borders of your empire.