I’m surprised at the lack of Dominions 3 threads here, my searches found almost none, looks like everyone who was interested discussed Dominion 2 to death and so when Dominions 3 (2.5 I hear it spoken of as) arrived looks like all those players just picked up a copy and got on with playing.
I wanted to take a moment though to sing its praises away from my initial questions thread. Having purchased it a year or two ago following my enjoyment of the demo the weighty manual scared me away (apart from the awesome history bits) until recently when I finally got stuck into reading it thanks to a brief discussion of the game on Three Moves Ahead, I then proceeded to replay the tutorial (for like the fourth time). This time I actually continued beyond the walk through and stomped to my first victory. My only victory, actually.
I am very much in agreement with Tom’s breakdown of game pleasure into the mastery of the system and the playing of the game. Too many games breakdown in the second half where you know the rules and now want a mind to pit them against. Being a single-player at heart I look to the AI, but so many promising games go back onto the shelf because while the mechanics are great the opponent is not. I wonder if this is why campaigns are so popular, well balanced challenges which continue to mix up the mechanics with little scripted moments.
I’ve only won my tutorial game having played several games over the Easter weekend (bloody addictive game) trying different setups like victory points and dominion victory only to lose just as I felt I was getting a handle on my empire. Because you’re going to have so many players in any game even if the AI is lacking I haven’t noticed because if one front is giving too easily you’re in danger on a different one. I’m still playing at Normal difficulty and thus far this is about right.
For me though the element which best sells the quality of this game is that I haven’t used the same setup twice. A game like Galactic Civilisations 2 I’d look over the list of items, decide which fit my style and then proceed through my order of play, adapting to the latest map. I wouldn’t vary because I always felt like I’d found my best setup and others might be powerful but wouldn’t suit me. Here I find reasons to do something new each time, I had my super combatant in the demo, a ghost king summoning armies of skeletal horsemen to a fountain which sits in my citadel affecting the map through magic. I’d have a new race too, from large numbers of spearmen to small numbers of incredibly strong giants. One of my favourites was finding a territory with decent resources allowing me to recruit elephants. A unit of ten of them has proceeded to decimate entire armies while my base troops perform clean-up duties and ensure the elephants don’t get swarmed, but each loss is dearly felt.
The sheer breadth of the game means that for someone like me the system is so vast that the danger of mastering it is slim. I love that because everything feels valid. It’s like a new player approaching Total Annihilation not realising all but a few units are useless, it so much more fun. I’m staying miles clear of tactic threads, nothing destroys SP faster.
In my latest game I decided to try a non-moving pretender so I went with a fountain with a nine in astral magic giving me Twist Fate for blessed troops, something I thought would be handy. In addition I cranked up order and production to ensure great income, while turning growth all the way down to maximum death. In previous games I run into huge, terrifying armies, and I was damned if they were coming to do this to me again so by choosing death and then upping my dominion to 10 I hoped to ensure that I could employ a small number of crack units using my massive resources while large armies starved on approach. Oh, and maximum misfortune because I needed the points. Still, with my dominion spread as it is misfortune is likely to harm others too.
I am letting the game give me a random race to mix things up as I love summoning skeletons too much and ended up with the woodland race which has Satyrs and Centaurs along with nature magic. This has worked out really well, my mages have cast a spell which increases my units hit points in friendly dominion (which my dominion of 10 ensures is almost always the case) while my army consists of sacred white centaurs who through a combination of increased HP and twist fate owing to my astral 9, are ripping through enemy armies. And I can afford to keep them coming due to order and resources.
Anyway, I just wanted to gush while I’m in the throes of addiction. Great game!