AoW4 does a great job at including their casual audience.

Age of Wonders 4 (Reviewed)
Developer: TriumphStudios
Publisher: PdxInteractive
Released: May 2th, 2023
Price: $50 USD
Age of Wondoers 4 when it comes to the tactical-RPG 4k strategy genre, is a colorful breath of fresh air. If you liked games like WarHammer or Civ V but couldn't get into the visual component of them for whatever reason, this game may be great for you! It's essentially the finest of both worlds combined into one.
If you're unfamiliar with the genre, it's a 4k strategy game. I'll try to make it as simple as possible for you. Explore, Expand, Exploit, and Exterminate.
Explore by sending scouts over a map to reveal nearby regions and players to potentially barter and form relationships with other players or AI.
Expand new territory by establishing new colonies or, in some cases, increasing the influence of existing settlements.
Exploit acquired resources in regions you control more efficiently to build your economy up to overwhelm your foes.
Exterminate competitors. Every territory is eventually seized, eradicating the presence of a rival may be the only option to achieve further expansion.
4k games often have numerous alternatives to consider and decisions to make. They frequently include elements of economy, exploration, territory control, and combat. In the end it's up to you to make these decisions while keeping tabs on others and what they seem to be aiming to do, this includes surprise sieges.
Story & Lore
The AoW franchise is no stranger to story and lore. While some may consider it a waste of time, others, such as myself, find it quite soothing instead of exhausting with the constant competitive gaming against players who are vastly superior.
While the game is more of a strategy game than a story game, there is a story mode for those who wish to have a more novel approach to the game and the opportunity to read substantial dialogue between yourself and the random encounters that occur frequently across the globe as you advance forward.
Overall, the voice acting and story about Godir and how heroes you complete campaigns with ascend to Magehaven, increasing its overall pantheon and power, is a really nice touch for those who want to have story, rather than playing against other players who will undoubtedly curb stomp you into the ground.
Combat (automatic and manual) and Expansion
If you're like me and despise micromanaging your games, you can use the game's AI to automate almost everything except army construction.
This allows you to concentrate on what you want to do with your troops rather than the micromanaging aspect of expanding your territory in order to acquire the resources required to maintain armies and summoned creatures / spells.
However, it also allows you to take full control of expansion when you find your in need of a specific resource that needs to be expanded to with your heroes. So do utilize this feature to the fullest potential that you can so you don't run out.
You can control the units in your armies directly into turn-based combat, which can be difficult if you don't know what you're doing, so it's often easier to overwhelm your targets with (3) sets of (6) units, preferably all tier II or higher with the automate feature, this as we are about to discuss is also something you should normally always be doing in multiplayer rather than manual combat.
The outcome of the battle is determined by your size and the enemies size. So this is why overwhelming numbers is oftentimes better if you can manage to.
If you lose an automated battle, you can redo it, but you will have complete control over the battle because it was all AI simulated if you weren't satisfied with the results and believe you can do a better job of controlling the outcome.
Hero Deaths
If your hero is killed in battle, you will lose the power to perform spells for up to four turns until they return to the main city they govern. If the city is destroyed or seized before that time, the hero will be lost to the void forever.
That is, if you die, the game is over for you so long as the city they govern is lost. This is appealing since it allows you to take calculated risks in extending far beyond your borders while keeping your main city out of harm's way.
Multiplayer is kind of unplayable
Age of Wonders hasn't done much to fix the multiplayer and manual combat concerns. If one person manually engages in battle with another, everyone else is stuck twiddling their thumbs until the combat is resolved, which can take anywhere from 5-10-25 minutes depending on the magnitude and skill level of each player. When other games, such as Warhammer, have workarounds for this, it's fairly bad when you consider how boring it is for those who are waiting. 
1 Hour Gameplay
The AI in this game may be quite ruthless. This was one of my first runs through the game on a higher difficulty than I'm used too. Overall, I had a lot of fun learning about spell tombs, magic, upkeep, and expansion in my 10 hours.
Later on, the story modes performed an excellent job of teaching me how to appropriately grow and respond to specific occurrences while being very insightful about how this world came to be and what is going on lore wise.
Growth Mechanics
Before starting a game, based on your automated or personalized choices. You will receive points for your chosen affinities. Nature, Order, Chaos, General, Astral, Shadow, and Materium are all of the available concepts.
Each branch has a unique effect; some are quite powerful, while others are more balanced and focused on increasing the size of your army or cities. 
Affinity & Spells
Your research selections will eventually influence how you create your society. If you want to concentrate on a single affinity, you'll have to sift through the list of books to locate what you're looking for and work towards that as a whole.
I enjoy nature and the beast summoning spells. Both do an excellent job of allowing you to summon a large number of creatures after accomplishing certain objectives. So, if I were to go all in on this. More mana building would be required from a Tome of Evocation, Tome of Summoning, and Tome of Beasts.
Not only would this boost my power to summon creatures, but it would also strengthen my affinity, enabling me more empire development towards better imperium effects such as "Summon a Wolf Spirit to your town" or "Summon a tier II creature after annexation of a province" while giving me to affinity for Astral to progressively reach the imperium effect of "Gain 1000 mana."
A great game that offers plenty
With all of the special events and methods to win through mechanics other than killing, it's a pretty complex and in-depth game to completely master. While the manual combat that has plagued the game since AoW3 is a bit distressing for the multiplayer part, it's a really nicely made game that fits my style of 4k.
I can see myself returning to this game for the story and simpler gameplay rather than the difficult portions, but that's just me. Others I know will appreciate the challenge, but I thoroughly appreciated the story and slower paced gameplay.
If you're looking for some decent gameplay, I wholeheartedly recommend it, but if you're looking for something more focused on multiplayer, look elsewhere, unless you're playing with friends who all agree not to use manual combat.
I could go on about more aspects of this game, but these are best left for you to discover and enjoy at your own speed. At the end of the day, the game is about expansion and conquering and that's really all there is to it gameplay wise.
This concludes my views of this game; while my opinions may be met with criticism, that is what distinguishes gamers; you don't have to like the same things as others, nor do you have to agree with them.
If you want to catch me on one of my streams or locate me on social media, you may do so at the following locations, I'm always playing something new.
- Pawkt
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