Dominions 5: Warriors of the Faith


In the last Dom4 MP game here at Qt3, I had those Morgen Princesses thugged out. A good bless, access to some useful buffs, they don’t need much else. Include a bodyguard of Morvarch knights and they’ll roll through a lot of troops.

I don’t know what has changed with Ys in Dom5, but I can only assume they are still hamstrung by their dependence on coastal or underwater provinces for recruitment. Pushing into land means supplementing armies with indy troops to replace losses.


Yes, I think Ys is basically the same in Dom5, their biggest change is how they are affected by the new bless system, as they are very bless-based.

I found them a bit gimmicky, to be honest. They do one thing well (super expensive but super powerful sacred units/thugs) and that’s it. I miss in them a bit more of unit variety.


Oh, they must have been introduced to Dom 4 after the point i had stopped playing it. Sure enough i booted up 4 and they were there. They were just new to me in 5!

I miss the music from 4, now that i heard it again. The music in 5 i end up turning off. About half of it is good, about half of it is annoying enough it ruins the rest.


Ys was the last nation introduced in Dom4.

And btw, yesterday there was an update for the game, I didn’t post it because it was mostly bugfixing, but it also included some new heroes for LA Ulm.


Dominions 5.14

The new mystic is for LA Arco. They have Reincarnation, SpellSinger, D1N1 + 50%? +50%?, for 95g he seems pretty good, 25% of them will have four magic paths.

Two of the three new spells are remote curse spells, to curse enemy commanders. They have the curious effect of also cursing a random unit in your province, so it’s a double edged sword. One spell is D1 for greek nations, and the other is S1D1 for Jotun nations.

The third spell is a summon spell, Bind Keres, Conj6, D2, needs 9 death gems. It summons 3 of these:

Which is pretty damn good. In fact I would say it’s slightly too cheap right now. It has
-Good stats (17 hp, 14at, 14def, 16mr)
-2 magical attacks with additional AN paralyze effect against undeads.
-Flying / Storm flying
-Fear aura
-Unrest generator


I just completed an 11-person game that ran for a few months. I kept good notes and will post an update, year by year, over the next few days. I didn’t want to post while the game was running because my enemies are constantly watching me! ;-)

The set-up was 11 nations, randomly drawn from nations that we did not often play. Middle Ages, average map settings, cataclysm on turn 75. 11 L1 thrones + 11 L2 thrones = 33 throne points on the map. Ascension was set to 33% so 11 throne points would win the game. We kept to in-game diplomacy only, so messages to other nations could only be sent via the game itself.

The nations we selected were:

The Good Nations, Modern and Just:

Caelum: “A Mageocracy of Winged Humanoids who Inhabit the Highest Mountain Peaks” with a love of Air.
Eriu: “A Nation of Humans and Fir Bolg Lead by the Awakened Sidhe” with a love of Air.
Man: “A Feudal Kingdom of Knightly Humans, Cousins to Eriu” with a love of Nature.

The Neutral Nations, Ancient and Wise:

Bandar Log: “Apes of Uncanny Brightness from the Forests” with a love of Astral
Uruk: “A Warm plain inhabited by large hairy wild men with horns and unkempt hair” with a love of Astral

The Dusk Nations, Deep and Grey:

Agartha: “Strange One-Eyed Humanoids from Dark Caverns” with a love of Earth.
Machaka: “Priests Rule a Jungle Kingdom with Spiders and Witch Doctors” with a love of Earth and Nature
Xibalba: “A vast realm of Dark, Watered-Filled Caverns Under a Jungle” with a love of Water.

The Evil Nations, Black and Twisted:

Nazca: “A Mountain Necrocracy of Winged Mummified Humanoids” with a love of all paths
Sceleria: “A Splinter Nation of the Undead Empire, where the Dead serve the Living” with a love of Death
Shinuyama: “Strange Dark Beasts and Armored Swordsmen who form a Tribal Society in Caves” with a love of Death

I received Sceleria randomly. Its a pretty good nation, and it would be my first time playing as undead. No matter what nation I received, I wanted to try a super-combatant (SC) pretender because I had never tried one and because one was used so effectively in the last big game I played (I still have nightmares about “Two Shieldz” the Ettin). Sceleria gets reduced cost on Prince of Death, which is a reasonable SC chassis with flying, fear, undead package and leadership.

I discovered the Scalerian Vestals were awesome, with ethereal and good base speed. I increased Death slightly to get the Invulnerability bless (damage reduction of 10 versus normal weapons) which helped both the pretender’s durability and also the Vestals. I debated the second path quite a bit and decided on Earth for the decreased afflictions blessing. In practice sessions the more Vestals I kept from fight to fight the more powerful the nation became, and afflictions are an issue with undead leaders because of no healing.

I added some negative scales like cold and sloth because gold and production are needed less by undead. I increased Dominion to 8 (from 3) to increase the number of capital-only Vestals I could recruit per turn. 8 dominion * 24 months = 192 Vestals vs 6 dominion * 24 month = 144 vestals, a difference of almost 50 after two years. 50 Vestals hit very hard!

The pre-game strategy was to keep the SC Prince of Death and the initial Vestals together to take provinces one by one, and add a powerful Prophet with H4 for the super undead blessing and the remaining Vestals after a few rounds. This would mean low research, no site searching and little other recruitment in the beginning. Mid-game strategy was to kit the SC Prince with defensive and combat items, and to maybe head to Conjuring 6 for Bane Lords. Overall, keeping with strong SC and Thug commanders leading blessed, ethereal, resistant troops.

Here is what my pretender looked like.

Next post … the first year.


Looking forward to it!


Year Zero:

Expansion went as planned. I wanted to avoid barbarians whenever possible, since in testing the barbarians hit the Protection 9 SC too hard. I had a strong barbarian indie as one of my core provinces so I had to divert around them. This meant lower gold than ideal for a few turns, which delayed my recruitment of research mages a little. Other than that, expansion went fine with one province taken per month for the first full year.

Tactics were the Pretender in the middle, casting buffs on himself, and unleashing his paralyzing specters (which the Prince of Death gets for free). In the middle were the decreasing number of human troops from the starting army. On the top and bottom both set to “attack rear” were the ethereal Vestals, with the +attack +speed +magic resistance +morale battlefield buffs from the prophet.

The provinces I took were pretty good, a mix of fields, forests and mountains. I did not wait and site search so gem production was low. I had 2-3 special production or gold sites that did not need discovering out of the 12 or so provinces, which seemed lucky. I was quickly #2 in provinces, gold and dominion.

My initial location was advantageous. I was on the far western coast, with a large forested mountain range between my capital provinces and my nearest neighbor to the east (Man). My norther neighbor Eriu was focusing on research and not expanding much. I almost accidentally attacked by southern neighbor, Machaka, whose golem pretender was similar in composition to my pretender. I was offensive, he was defensive - it would not have been a fun fight.

I decided to eventually focus on Eriu, since their early game research would put them at a disadvantage in the field, and made peace with Machaka. Man had some player issues and had to drop to AI. I took a single province from Caelum who appeared to have over-extended. All in all this meant I had room to expand.

I traded Death gems, which I had tons of, for Earth gems, which I needed for the SC’s kit, from 2 different nations. I traded some intel with someone on the other side of the continent and was able to put together a map of where everyone’s capital was:

Eriu 125 … Xibalba ?? … Bandar Log ??
Sceleria 78 … Man 64 … Caelum ?? … Shin 69
Machaka 17 … Agartha 23 … Uruk 43 … Nazca 34

My research was Alt 2 for Skeletal Body and Stoneskin, and Thau 1 for Frighten - all for my pretender. Then Construction 2 to prep for the gear for the next phase. That’s not a lot of research for the first year, I was at the bottom of the score graphs. I had to dedicate my few mages to it, and had to forgo site searching as mentioned, but also had to delay raising undead for free from each province.

At the end of the year I had completed my initial expansion without much fuss, losing only a vestal or two, and with no afflictions on my Pretender and only a lost arm on my prophet (which doesn’t impact a caster much). Out of 40 or so Vestals in the field only 1 had an affliction - the earth bless was working well.

I split my force, sent my pretender back to my capital to start forging his first set of equipment, reinforced my prophet’s army with additional Vestals and an undead melee commander, and sent the large army around again to clean up the border and maybe then swing north to attack Eriu.

I was in no rush to take thrones. I would rather have good defenses, a good economy and the bulk of my initial force with 2-3 stars of experience ready to turn into something nasty in a few years. The best nation had 3 throne points needed out of 11 by the end of year zero, and a few others had 1 or 2. I didn’t see how anyone could win in the next year.

Here is my position at the end of the first year.

Next post … the second year.



Good job so far. Keep it up.


MA Sceleria, Year One:

My prophet’s forces stabilized my border and then split up to site search and patrol. Other commanders also starting searching and I found a few new sites, which doubled my gem income. I began to reanimate undead in multiple locations. My income and dominion continued to be strong. I built two (working on three) forts along my northern and southern border and used them to house temples and labs, and also to recruit priests to reanimate more undead. This freed my capital up to recruit researchers and the all-important ethereal sacred Vestals. Here is a link to a Shadow Vestal:

Guxx crafted his equipment: Helm of Horrors (base 15 + 5 fear = 20), Stinger (magic spear with long reach good for repelling), Magic Shield, Blacksteel Armor (not full plate, I wanted to keep some mobility), Amulet of Luck (avoid a killing blow), Amulet of Twist Fate (negates first hit) and the ultimate final piece: Boots of Trampling. Putting those on a size 5 flying pretender with fear and decent defenses was a nasty combo, no one likes when their rear line of commanders all get trampled to death.

Here is a pic of Guxx in his equipment.

I watched as Man slowly built up a force to my east, but there was still a lot of unclaimed land along that border. I decided to go for players who might be dangerous later and ignored the empty land for now. I potentially could have created a third province-capturing force, but first I wanted to see how my two main armies did against a player.

The thrones near me stayed unclaimed. The throne leader, Bandar Log far on the other side of the continent, took 5 of the 11 ascension points he needed.

My northern neighbor Eriu was research leader. I agreed a truce along my southern border with Machaka and coordinated with Xibalba beyond my northern neighbor so we would both invade around the same time. Agartha also invaded that region from the water around the same time. We must have all smelled blood. All in all it seemed like Eriu was in trouble.

My only strategic decision was to send my pretender in early. He was fully kitted up and brought 60 vestals, which is a nasty force. I sent him one round early versus a border province in order to scare Eriu a bit, especially since he would see that attack at the same time as my large secondary force appeared on his border. It also gave me the option of a pincer attack as follow-up.

Invading with my pretender meant domain was a concern so I spent 400 gold on an undefended temple on the border hoping it would help spread my white candles.

Eriu had just taken the throne directly south of his capital, and was building a fort on the province, a few turns before I invaded.

In Late Fall Guxx entered Eriu’s coastal farm province with 55 vestals. It was taken easily. But then an aquatic force from Agartha attacked the same province with 25 of their capital-only sacred Shard Guards with a full water defensive bless. Agartha killed 40 vestals (which is 6 months of production) and routed the others but Guxx stormed their back-lines from the sky and trampled all of their commanders to death. I won the fight, but it hurt.

I knew Agartha would not stay around for long, so I continued to focus on Eriu.

The next month in Early Winter, Guxx, his prophet, 40 experienced vestals, and backup commanders stormed the province where Eriu had taken a throne and was finishing building a fort.

The invasion went perfectly. I captured the province before he completed the fort, which means he lost the gold spent on the building. He moved his pretender out to re-capture the coastal farm, but left the bulk of his force in his capital. I killed 140 troops and only lost 4. Guxx performed excellently, flying into his back lines and killing 20 troops and commanders while scattering and fearing dozens. That province had a throne, a lab and many many magic sites, all of which I took. I built a temple on it ASAP to help my dominion since my pretender’s hit points were based on the number of white candles in the province.

The next month in Mid-Winter Eriu re-invaded his throne province and his pretender killed Guxx. He had the advantage of positive dominion, and my pretender was still set to trample which is good for normal units but less so for other SCs. His pretender,a Duiu of Farming, had three offensive items, dodged a few tramples (which are less effective when there is no size difference) and killed Guxx with a headbutt from his horned helmet. I won the fight - killed 50 units and he only killed 20 and routed - but it would now take months of all of my priests praying to return Guxx to this land.

This is Eriu’s pretender during the fight, with +30 HP and +3 Strength from his white candles:

By late Winter Machaka had claimed a throne along my southern border. The domain pressure from that, in addition to the lack of domain from Guxx’s absence, meant the borders of my domain were starting to shrink.

Here is the map. Note I have spread north to take a throne, next to Eriu’s capital. Machaka’s orange-flagged army is near some thrones to the south. Overall my white border positive dominion is smaller:

Next post … the third year.


You can’t trample at all when not a greater size, can you?

Great write-up! Always enjoy reading how other players think.

Your pretender also having zero encumbrance is downright mean! He can trample all day and not get tired! It is so much fun having a 0 encumbrance chassis as you can add all the heavy armor and it still doesn’t add to encumbrance.


@milspec thanks for doing the AAR. I’m still a newb after several years, so this is very helpful.


Agreed, thanks for sharing! I’m really enjoying reading along.


I’m also really enjoying this AAR. A question about diplomacy: how binding are your nonaggression packs? Does the game enforce them in any way, or is it solely a player-to-player agreement based on honor? If the latter, I imagine there’s backstabbing, a la the Diplomacy boardgame. (A game I stopped playing because it wasn’t healthy for friendships!)


I am not sure of the game @milspec is in, but we used to have a set of rules/guidelines for games that covered this.

The game itself doesn’t enforce them. Normally it said that agreed upon trades should be binding, but breaking nonaggression pacts are not. However, be aware that you will develop a reputation of being a NAP breaker if you do that, so most people seem to honor them.

EDIT: Latest list used at this site, and hits the main ones I remember:


Diplomacy rules are one of the most important things to get right when setting up a Dominions game.

The group I play with is a core of friends I have gamed with for 30 years, so we are pretty tolerant. It has expanded to friend-of-friends over the years. We make sure everyone is clear on the diplomacy before we start.

We have tried all diplomacy options: public, closed, structured (you can only pick from a short list like 10 turn NAP, etc) unstructured, binding, non-binding, etc. In the end, we prefer non-binding private diplomacy. That means you can agree anything you want with another nation, or a group of nations, but there is nothing stopping you from breaking it early.

Everything else led to more drama. Its much harder to agree to binding diplomacy and then have to be suspicious of someone out of game when you get a malicious unknown ritual cast on your province. Its easier to accept up from that all you have is your honor, and you need to slowly re-build trust each game.

In the Sceleria game we also agreed to only use the in-game messaging client. This worked to limit “diplomacy spam”, but it also cut down on overall interaction and has some annoying technical limits like no way to search past messages.

We are returning to email-based, private non-binding diplomacy next game.


Thanks for the explanation on diplomacy. Interesting!


MA Sceleria, Year Two:

In early Spring my pretender Guxx returned from the dead! It took two months of every priest chanting to bring him back. His Death magic reduced by one, and it said his domain also reduced but I didn’t see any effect on domain. For example I could still recruit the same amount of holy units per turn.

I hired a band of mercenaries and they took back the coastal plains province from Eriu. I continued to hold that throne, which also happened to have many many magic sites on it, and it made me the leader in gems per turn. I started to build a fort on the throne province.

I moved a lot of the animated undead north to the front versus Eriu. I re-equipped Guxx, gave him a fresh squad of vestals from my capital, and he also made his way north. I continued to research at a fairly slow pace. I adjusted my research priorities slightly and headed to conjuration sooner than expected, hoping to get a few Bane Lord thugs into the field to expand my fighting force.

Bandar Log was still the Throne Leader at 7 points. I suspected everyone would gang up on him before he could get 11. My goals for this year were to finish off Eriu and then decide if I was going to head east versus Man or south versus Machaka. I had no intention of trying to head west across the water to fight Bandar Log, Water magic is not a strong path for Sceleria.

I consolidated my forces in the north, upgraded a few forts (I was the fort leader and second in gold income) and made a hard decision. I almost decided not to invade Eriu since I gained little from finishing him off. I even sent him a note that I was withdrawing, and I meant it at the time. Negotiations with my northern neighbors were holding steady, none of us were attacking each other. (I hoped some were attacking Bandar Log.)

However, in the mid-Summer I invaded Eriu’s capital. I wanted to see if I could finish off a human player, and I didn’t want to leave a wounded and angry neighbor on my flank. In the end I decided he needed to go. He appeared to have 200-250 troops, of mixed types, but I didn’t trust the report. I threw everything I had in the north: all my undead, my H4 D3 S2 prophet, and my re-equipped Super-Combatant Pretender.

Here is my prophet, who was the second most valuable asset in my army:

It took three months to breech Eriu’s walls. During that time I summoned about 150 more undead, animated from corpses that were in his capital province. Had there been a large battle there previously? I also built temples in all neighboring provinces and switched my animating priests in those provinces to praying. I managed to shrink his domain advantage in his capital down to almost nothing.

He tried to re-take one of the coastal provinces with summoned eagles. They were beaten by my province defenders.

We stormed the castle in late Fall, won the fight and eliminated Eriu. I killed about 300 units and lost about 75. The biggest losses were my vestals, as always, with 50 dead. However, they killed 150 so they did their job. :-)

My Vestals were always on attack rear. One of the two groups managed to kill the wall defenders then jumped over the wall - maybe because they are ethereal? They ended up inside of the castle in Eriu’s back ranks at the same time that Guxx flew in. Guxx still had on his trample boots, since I figured it was better to sow chaos than to try and kill Eriu’s pretender. I got lucky because his pretender moved forward and was surrounded by my units, who were steadily chewing through his troops, while Guxx trampled his casters in the courtyard.In the final moments the Duiu of Farming was horror marked, suffered two permanent wounds, and was paralyzed by the Shadows, then Guxx came in and did 50% of the damage in a few swings and got credit for the killing blow. Guxx finished the fight with 250 XP total with 70 kills to his name (from all fights), which would put him at #2 in the Hall of Fame (if Pretenders were able to be listed in the Hall of Fame).

However, Guxx did not escape unscathed. Eriu managed to land a SHRINK on him! Not a massive deal because he was still size 4, but that meant trample was now less effective and his icon was a bit smaller. It was an embarrassing reminder of the fight. :-)

I consolidated my forces and planned to send Guxx off across the ocean to fight Bandar Log, with the Prophet leading the main force down south to fight Machaka. Bandar Log had 8 throne points and was close to the win. Machaka had 6 thrones.

I hated splitting my force but I had to keep Bandar Log away from the win while I took the other thrones from Machaka. No one else in the world was effective against Bandar Log - were they even trying??

By Winter I had re-geared Guxx, summoned Wights, and sent him and 2 water ring-wearing casters to capture the throne in the ocean next to my capital. It was a practice round before I sent that whole team across the ocean to attack Bandar Log. I was still moving all of the rest of my forces south, although I wasn’t yet sure how and when to attack Machaka.

In Late Winter Guxx, the Wights and two of my biggest mages with a random water path all invaded the aquatic throne province. We defeated the defenders easily… but maybe we should have been suspicious there were so few.

Bandar Log’s Pretender (a giant earth snake) and a moderate sized army attacked the same water province that same month. 200 of his troops defeated 20 of mine. Guxx fought bravely, killing 15 enemies himself before he died to a Soul Slay (ouch!). The Wights did OK, killing twice their number. Bandar Log’s forces were only moderately tough but most were native to the water - mine were poor in the water. The loss of my pretender just as he started that mission really hurt.

Here is Bandar Log’s pretender, and the aquatic force I stumbled into by accident…

I pulled myself together, set all my priests to recalling their god (again!), and set my mind to invading Machaka. There was nothing I could do against Bandar Log. I sent 500 more gold to his enemies, bringing the total donated that year to 2,000.

The map at the end of Year Two:

Next post … the fourth year.


“Paddy O’Furniture”?!


MA Sceleria, Year Three:

In mid-Spring Guxx had returned and my troops were ordered to march south into Machaka. Guxx was only moderately equipped, I had foolishly not remembered he would return without his gear. He did not have a weapon, nor a second misc slot. I had two approximately equal invasion forces, one which Guxx would join and the other which the prophet would lead.

The coastal invasion force numbered 150 undead plus 50 vestals. The inland force numbered 320 undead plus 50 vestals. I guess the inland force was a bit bigger, but the coastal force was led by my pretender. I continued to recruit mages in all forts (I was still in the fort lead), started for the first time to recruit defensive living shield-men in the border provinces, continued to animate undead in all provinces, and restarted my research machine.

My war goals were to inflict pain on Machaka and see if I could grab some thrones. I was not trying to win, but I was testing to see what would happen. I still saw no way to attack Bandar Log, unless I threw all of my undead into the sea with water mages at the front. But Sceleria only get 1W 10% of the time on their 2-turn recruit capital-only big mages. I held a number of shoreline provinces but not one of them allowed me to recruit aquatic units. None of my other neighbors interested me in the slightest. I continued to send hundreds of gold per month to Nazca, who had proven they were fighting the monkeys.

I won my first two battles versus Machaka, but they were against province defense and not any real army. We had been in a peace truce for the previous 2 years, and it was due to last another 6 months, so I think I caught him by surprise. I decided to hunker down for a month, reanimate the corpses that were created in the battle, search for sites, and pray. I planned to leapfrog and move every other month. I was able to send another 25 vestals to reinforce my pretender’s (slightly smaller) army. I was claimed two more thrones that month.

It felt like Bandar Log was pulling back from the water, I hoped the gold I was sending Nazca was helping. I think I had sent 3,000 gold total to fight the monkeys.

Machaka moved their pretender into their large force and took back their northern throne. The army they beat was my largest amount of undead, lead by my prophet, but the combo of Machaka’s spider’s webbing the undead and then his priests mass-destroying them killed hundreds of undead. My other army split and was able to take two more provinces, razed more of his temples, and took another throne.

Here is Machaka’s pretender (in +10 positive dominion), should have called him Mr Protection.

In the water my very small force was doing well against soft targets. Maybe I should have sent all of my undead into the ocean to fight Bandar Log?

I continued to move back away from Machaka’s single main force, and I had a slight advantage of multiple armies taking multiple provinces. I decided to double-down and sent in two more armies composed of death priests who would summon death creatures on the battlefield. Arming them all with death gems wiped out my reserves, but I thought it was a good test.

In late summer my pretender was re-equipped (in the field) and headed back to friendly dominion - he was way too weak next to their capital with 7 black candles. My single large force was slowly pulling back, hoping to force the fight in my dominion. I had two more priest / summoning armies moving into his terrain, and I was consolidating into the single water throne province. I was also pulling reserve undead down from Eriu’s capital.

I still saw no way to actually win, but I planned to make the fight versus Machaka interesting and hopefully difficult for him. Bandar Log was headed across the water with his earth snake pretender, which I had no counter for, and I assumed he was close to the win.

By early fall my plans had collapsed. My units were unable to pull back and form up. My pretender’s army was picked off while he was in a province with 7 black candles. He went into the fight with 6 (!!!) HP, and didn’t last long. The spiders were an impressive enemy, it was hard to fight their webs and massed priests. Sure, I moved in and re-took a throne, but it was a short term victory. I felt as if Machaka could turn the tables, form up and invade me - and there was little I could do about it.

Time was the final enemy. I had just gotten to my mid-game strategy of continuously summoning Bane Lords, but they were six months too late. Even six months sooner I am not sure I could beat that many priests with a mostly undead army.

Bandar Log pressed into his final thrones and looked poised for the win. One of the last thrones was in the water off my coast…

The game finished on turn 42, fall in year three. Bandar Log had 12 of the 11 throne points needed for the win. Machaka would be second, with over a dozen ascension points. I believe I finished third, strong in many categories but very short on thrones. In the final tally Sceleria was:

Most forts
Most gold income
Largest army size
Second most provinces
Third highest gem income
Fourth highest dominion
Fifth in Ascension points
Seventh in research

Here is the final map:

Bandar Log is the large yellow mass in the northeast corner. In later analysis it turns out both of his neighbors, Xibalba in blue/black to the north and Shinuyama in the grey/red to the east, had allied with him. Guess what - if the throne leader’s neighbors don’t attack then they are guaranteed the win.

The final message I received from Machaka summed it up well:

Yes, in the end the undead nation embraced death. Surprise surprise …

Next post … some analysis.