Terrain Arcanus DesertTerrain Myrror Desert
Maximum Population No change
Town Bonuses Icon Production.png +3% Production
Movement Point Cost Move Boot 1
Move Flying 1
Move Sailing N/A
Possible Minerals (Arcanus)
TerrainSpecial Gems Gems (common)
TerrainSpecial Quork Quork Crystals (rare)
Possible Minerals (Myrror)
TerrainSpecial Quork Quork Crystals (common)
TerrainSpecial Gems Gems (uncommon)
TerrainSpecial Crysx Crysx Crystals (uncommon)
Change Terrain
Terrain Arcanus Desert Icon Arrow Right Mid Terrain Arcanus Grassland
Gaia's Blessing
Terrain Arcanus Desert Icon Arrow Right Mid Terrain Arcanus Grassland

Desert is a type of Terrain in the world of Master of Magic. Deserts usually appear in large concentrations, mostly near the equator of both Planes, though isolated Desert tiles are not uncommon across all regions.

Desert tiles provide no benefits to Population Growth or Icon Food.pngFood production, making Desert areas hard to colonize properly. However, Deserts do provide a small bonus to Icon Production.png Production.

Although most Desert tiles are not too beneficial, a large proportion of them will contain some type of Mineral - and usually very useful ones. Deserts are the only place to find Gems and Quork Crystals, both are fairly common. On Myrror, it is also possible to find the highly-valuable Crysx Crystals here.

For almost all units, movement through Desert tiles costs only 1 Movement Point. Construction of Roads in Desert tiles is almost as fast as on Grassland.

The Icon Nature.pngChange Terrain spell will turn a Desert into a Grassland tile, losing its Icon Production.png Production bonus but gaining a significant bonus to the Maximum Population of nearby towns. This spell cannot turn any tile into a Desert, but there is no real reason to do so anyway. The Icon Nature.pngGaia's Blessing spell will provide the same transformation, but does so over time, with a 10% chance per tile at the start of each turn - slowly turning all Deserts near the affected town into fertile Grassland.

Description Edit

Geographical phenomenon, particularly related to weather, end up leaving some areas of the world parched. Insufficient rainfall, and the inability of sandy terrain to absorb and accumulate water, result in entire swaths of land becoming completely arid - incapable of sustaining more than the most basic types of plant and animal life. These deserts are open plains where life itself is difficult to say the least.

As a result, the Desert presents a problem for settlement. Without rainfall or fertile ground it cannot be worked for food. There are no sufficiently-large animals to sustain any sort of hunting industry either. With no plants to eat, herds of animals cannot graze here.

On the other hand, the same conditions that prevent life from taking hold in the Desert appear to condone the creation of non-biological resources. Deserts in the worlds of Arcanus and Myrror are perfect for the formation of Gems and crystals, both of which are extremely valuable. As a result, towns may emerge on the edge of such regions in the hope of harvesting these rare resources.

Geography Edit

As in our own world, Deserts on Arcanus and Myrror tend to appear near the equatorial regions. They are rarely if ever found near the poles (where Tundra, another kind of arid terrain, is much more common).

Deserts often appear as entire areas covered in sand, rather than in isolated patches. A Desert region can be many tiles wide and, as explained below, largely uninhabitable. Towns will likely survive only on the edges of such a region, rarely right in its midst.

Town Development Edit

Desert tiles pose a problem for settlement. On the one hand, they do not provide a food source for a city to grow and develop, and only a very mild bonus to production. On the other hand, they often contain rare and extremely valuable Minerals which must be exploited.

Therefore, new Settlements are often constructed on the edge of a Desert, within reach of these Minerals, but also within reach of highly-fertile tiles like Rivers or Grassland which will provide sustenance. If a Settlement is placed near to too many Desert tiles, it may have significant trouble growing. Placing a town near Deserts that do not contain valuable Minerals is wasteful, and will often lead to a stagnant town that provides little benefit.

Maximum Population Edit

Main article: Maximum Population

Desert tiles are among the few Terrain types that provide absolutely no bonus to a nearby town's Maximum Population.

In other words, if a town were to be surrounded entirely by Desert tiles, its Maximum Population would be exactly 0. This means that not only will the town not grow at all, but will actually lose a few citizens each turn. Fortunately, negative Population Growth cannot destroy a town (it will never drop below 1,000 population due to negative growth), but will likely never grow above 1,000 either. This makes Desert areas extremely unfavourable for settlement.

Furthermore, Maximum Population also determines how much Icon Food.pngFood can be produced in a town before inefficiency sets in. Once this limit of Food production is reached, additional citizens assigned to Farmer duty will produce much less Icon Food.pngFood - thus being inefficient. Higher Maximum Population means a higher Icon Food.pngFood production efficiency threshold, thus allowing more Farmers to be assigned and still have full efficiency.

As a result, in a town surrounded by Deserts, only a very small amount of Icon Food.pngFood can be produced even if all citizens are set to Farmer duty. It may struggle to produce enough food to feed itself - again resulting in negative Population Growth, and struggling to gain more than a few citizens.

To counter this effect, if a town is set up near a Desert area, it is wise to make sure that it also has access to high-yield terrain such as Grassland, River, River Mouth, or Forests with the Wild Game special. This will offset the poor fertility of the Deserts, allowing the town to grow at least a little. This will help the town make good use of the Minerals found in the nearby Desert. If no Minerals are present though, it may be worth reconsidering building a town next to the Desert at all!

Production Bonus Edit

Each Desert tile within a town's vicinity provides that town with a Production bonus of Icon Production.png +3%.

This 3% is calculated based on the total amount of Icon Production.png Production yielded by the town's Farmers and Workers. For example, if the town's population gives a total of Icon Production.png 100 Production, each Desert tile in its vicinity adds Icon Production.png +3. Note that total production is rounded down to a whole number, but only after all bonuses have been added together. For reference, point the survey tool at a town or proposed site for settlement to see the total Icon Production.png Production bonus given by all tiles within its catchment area.

Increased Icon Production.png Production is very useful, as it speeds up construction times of both Town Buildings and Units. With the Trade Goods project it is also possible to turn this extra Icon Production.png Production into Icon Gold.png Gold.

Though Deserts don't give a very large Icon Production.png Production bonus compared to Mountains, it is nonetheless a respectable bonus. Of course, since they don't aid in Population Growth, Deserts are overall inferior to Forests or Hills. This all changes of course if the Desert contains a high-yield Mineral, as explained below.

Common Minerals Edit

Though a Desert is rarely beneficial on its own, this type of Terrain will often contain very valuable Minerals of one of three different types. The presence of such a Mineral turns a Desert tile into a highly desirable location for settlement.

On Arcanus, the most common Minerals found in Desert tiles are Gems. This is the most valuable Icon Gold.png Gold-producing Mineral, giving a nearby town an automatic bonus of Icon Gold.png +5. Gems also exist on Myrror Desert tiles, but are less common due to the prevalence of crystals.

Quork Crystals appear quite frequently in Deserts on both Planes. These provide a Icon Power.png +3 bonus to any town in their vicinity.

Crysx Crystals are often considered the most valuable Minerals. They provide a Icon Power.png +5 bonus to nearby towns - a fairly large bonus, giving about half as much Icon Power.png Power as an Arcanus Node. Crysx Crystals appear only on the plane of Myrror, and are rarer than Quork Crystals but still not too rare. A new Settlement controlling two or more deposits of Crysx Crystals is an extremely important strategic asset, which must be guarded as zealously as a Node.

All three of the above Minerals are exclusive to Desert tiles - they are not found anywhere else. As a result, players will sometimes build a town near such minerals simply for the opportunity they present - even if the town has no real chance of developing properly (due to the infertility of Desert tiles). Nonetheless, it is often recommended to place such a town in a way that it controls the Mineral(s) but also has access to growth-providing tiles like Rivers or Grassland. Even if these are not available, it may still be a good idea to build the town simply to capitalize on the high value of these minerals.

Movement Edit

Desert tiles are flat and open terrain, and so are easy to cross. Both Icon Movement GroundWalking units and Icon Movement AirFlying units pay only 1 Movement Point to enter a Desert tile. Similarly, Move Pathfinding Pathfinding stacks (e.g. Ability NonCorporeal Non-Corporeal units) can enter this tile for their usual cost of 0.5 Movement Points.

Icon Movement SailingSailing units that do not have an alternative Icon Movement GroundMovement ability cannot enter Desert tiles at all.

Roads and Road Construction Edit

As with any land tile, Desert tiles can be upgraded with a Road. This is done using Engineers, who are only available to certain Races.

A single unit of Engineers will take 4 turns to construct a Road on a Desert tile - only slightly slower than on Grassland. Each additional unit of Engineers reduces this by 50% (rounded up). Therefore, 2 units will take 2 turns, and 3 or more units will take only 1 turn to build this road. Additional Engineers (beyond 3) do not speed this up any further.

Dwarf Engineers work twice as fast as other Engineers. This means that a single Dwarf Engineers unit can complete a Road in a Desert tile in only 1 turn.

Once a road has been constructed, the cost to enter this Desert tile changes to 0.5 for all units, regardless of their movement type. Note however that Icon Movement SailingSailing units still cannot enter this tile, since they cannot move on land.

If the road was constructed on Myrror, or affected by the Icon Sorcery.pngEnchant Road spell, movement costs to enter this tile are completely removed for most units. In other words, Icon Movement GroundWalking and Icon Movement AirFlying units can enter this tile without spending any movement points. Ability NonCorporeal Non-Corporeal units cannot use this special road, and will still require 0.5 Movement Points to enter the tile.

Change Terrain Edit

The Icon Nature.pngNature spell Icon Nature.pngChange Terrain can be cast on any Desert tile, and will turn that tile into Grassland. This increases the tile's Maximum Population bonus to any nearby town to +1.5. However, the tile will no longer give any Icon Production.png Production bonus.

Most towns will benefit greatly from this change, as increased population size often outweighs the loss of the Icon Production.png Production bonus. Towns near Deserts are quite limited in Maximum Population to begin with, so converting at least a few of the nearby Deserts into Grassland is generally a good idea. This is particularly true when building a town in a Desert region simply for access to one of the high-value Minerals. Note that the Mineral tile itself can be targeted with Icon Nature.pngChange Terrain too, without damaging the Mineral!

To preserve the Icon Production.png Production bonus, it is possible to cast Icon Nature.pngChange Terrain twice on the same Desert tile. It will first turn into a Grassland tile, and then into a Forest. The Forest gives the same Icon Production.png Production bonus as a Desert, but at the same time also provides a small increase to Maximum Population.

Change Tiles into Deserts Edit

There is no known way of turning other Terrain into Desert tiles. There should be no reason to do so either, as Deserts are inferior to most other Terrain types - and new Desert minerals can not be added to the tile anyway.

Gaia's Blessing Edit

While the Icon Nature.pngNature spell Icon Nature.pngGaia's Blessing is affecting a town, each Desert tile within the town's catchment area has a 10% chance each turn to transform into a Grassland tile automatically. This is the same effect as that performed by the Icon Nature.pngChange Terrain spell, except it happens automatically each turn while Icon Nature.pngGaia's Blessing is in effect, for no additional cost.

At the start of each turn, the game goes through each Desert tile in the town's vicinity, and rolls a random number between 1 and 10. If the number comes up "10", that tile is altered into a Grassland tile, and the game moves on to the next Desert tile (if any) and rolls again.

Note that if this spell is cast on a town that is benefiting from the Icon Production.png Production bonuses from many nearby Desert tiles, prolonged use of the Icon Nature.pngGaia's Blessing spell will lead to that town losing much of this bonus - but instead gaining a large Maximum Population bonus. This can be beneficial or detrimental, depending on strategy.

This makes the Icon Nature.pngGaia's Blessing spell exceptionally useful when cast on a town in the middle of a Desert region. This can be exploited by founding a Settlement right in the middle of a large Desert, and casting the spell on it - within a few turns, that town will begin growing very rapidly as the Desert begins to disappear. This also means that Desert regions, largely uninhabitable to other wizards, can be easily claimed by a powerful Icon Nature.pngNature mage! Again, note that this causes no damage to any nearby Minerals, making it possible for Icon Nature.pngNature wizards to easily capitalize on all high-value minerals within their empire's reach.