Dominions 6, the history/mythology/pulp fiction/dark fantasy Turn based Strategy game

Dominions 6 is the newest entry to this indie fantasy turn based strategy series, where you are a Pretender God fighting for ascension to Godhood, done by Illwinter. You can be a Dragon, a mythical Titan, an Archmage, a Chuthulu-like entity under the Oceans who turns everyone crazy, a creepy Fountain of Blood that people reveres or a Sphinx monster.
Who is Illwinter? The devs, basically two dudes in Sweden, working on games on their free time as a hobby.

It is known by its crazy complexity, although I’d say it’s more ‘complicated’ than ‘complex’. One of the main features is the sheer tons of content: 100 different nations, 3700 units, 1000 spells, 450 magical items, 300 Pretenders, etc. You can peruse the unofficial Dominions 5 Inspector to have an idea of what the game has , and the wiki too

Although don’t be scared, you always can have fun smashing your fantasy Greek pixelmans against the opponent fantasy Incan pixelmans, and enjoy the spectacle of fireballs in the sky, while doing ritual sacrifices to summon the help of demons, even if you aren’t playing “efficiently” or following the “meta” (oh nooees!).
Perhaps one of the most interesting points is that all this content has a very cool flavor, one of the devs is a professor with ancient history and religion studies, and instead of being a boring, stale fantasy with orcs, dwarves, elves and haflings, the game is a vibrant mix of ancient history and mythology (think Roman empire, greek city states, ancient Egypt, Jewish myths, Norse sagas, Oriental myths, etc), and some extra fantasy touches from tabletop RPG games like Ars Magica, Bushido or Earthdawn, or just straight sword & sorcery pulp influences.
The lore of the game is super cool, despite not having a ‘story campaign’ or anything like that, it is something more integrated into the game itself, with ages advancing and some nations falling or splintering and others appearing, cultures intermingling and forming new nations, and all influencing each other.

However, we have to also say that this part I mentioned before (“…working on games on their free time as a hobby”) means that you shouldn’t expect fancy things like great UI, nice production values or superb AI; although it also have to be clarified that it is literally impossible to make a human-level AI in this game, it’s ‘player decision’ space is just too huge.

The game itself is closer to a wargame than to a fully featured 4x game: you don’t build wonders and aqueducts and control corruption in your cities, nor manage workers doing roads or irrigation works, the game is focused on conquering the map with armies. It uses a simultaneous turn system (orders are planned on the map, and executed on end turn), and battles use a novel system: you can prepare your army formations and their general orders, and the starting spells of your mages, but otherwise are totally automated, you only watch how they battle on their own. This solves lots of tedium that other 4x games suffer with tactical battles.

Buy Dominions 6 - Rise of the Pantokrator on Steam


Dominions 6 new features

-Six new nations

-New magical path, ‘Glamour’, the magic of illusions, dreams and forgotten legends, with all related stuff (new spells, new summons, new items, new blesses).

-Reworked cavalry system, now riders and mounts are simulated as individual entities, mounts can have their own magical items, armor, and there are new related abilities…

-Reworked scales, economy and magic vs mundane armies balance, trying to give more time where mundane armies matter, and increasing armies’ size.

-Provinces are a bit more mutable, their scales and even their type can change in more interesting ways.

-New blesses, and a more flexible bless point system.

-New multiplayer ingame lobby system, although old methods still work.

-New cave layer system, that is in a separate map, Age of Wonders style.

-New map system that can use templates to build random maps.

-New modding options: blesses are now moddable, map layer system also can be used to create custom maps with custom layers, and mods are Steamworkshop-enabled now.

-Improved UI, and a pair of QoL features that should reduce the micro a bit.

-Possibility to do non aggression pacts with AI, and see diplomatic status.

-Many more changes, from a bit more of spread out on what each magical path is about thanks to new spells and spell path changes, rebalance of important spells, summons made more efficient, changes on how long battles end, how some unit abilities and spells interact with each other, how some damage types and some spells interact with protection, unit size has changed too, etc etc

Previous thread

Guide for new players

Well, we’ll probably start some community games, although the Discord Bot is so much better then email (I hope Illwinter gives us some better ways to manage online games)

Dominions is one of my favorite games. Played MP in 1, 2, and 3. But I stopped playing becuase of UI/QoL issues. The mid to late game micro was too much for me. Here’s hoping they get this right.

I have my own wishlist for Dom6.

-Better AI. I know, the game is too hard to have an AI as good as humans, I’m just asking an incremental update.
-A proper, interactive tutorial. This isn’t for me at this point, but it would be good to keep new blood coming to the series. There are higher standards of user onboarding now.
-Just make official the Dominions inspector. Put a button in the UI that opens it, and talk with the creator to give him direct access to the data. Otherwise, I would have to ask lots of UI improvements to how units, spells, items are currently visualized…
-Better UI that helps in reducing the micromanagement needed once you reach the midgame. I want to to have something to automate things like what battle position, magical items and battle orders to give to newly recruited mages, instead of having to do it several dozens (or hundreds!) of times over a long game.
-Less micro for blood hunting (although still keeping the strategic depth).
-Hell just more UI improvements to have less micro overall… the fact I’m putting it three times should give an idea of how important would be for me. It’s the reason I didn’t play Dominions 5 that much. Ask yourself, is your UI good enough to play LA R’yleh??
-Continuing with the UI, ‘surface’ all those keyboard shortcuts to the GUI. Again, this is thinking more of the new players and their experience. Not every player is a Linux user.
-Some changes to battle system in regards to how morale / retreat / SC / tun limit work, the current system has been ‘gamefied’ with a meta at this point.
-Steam workshop for mods.
-Adjustments to research costs. Levels 8 and 9 may well not exist currently (and half of the spells at this level aren’t that good!).
-More orders types for battles. Ability to give ‘black lists’ of spells to mages.

I am not sure about the workshop mod.

One of the nice things about Dominions is how it’s not linked to Steam, which means I have no problem running on a separate computer, which my kids play Lego games.

Also, it really limits the game to only the Steam Store. I would like to see Dominions 6 on GoG, Epic, or Indiegogo.

Anyway, I just hope whatever we get doesn’t end up with Pretender Mages being the most efficient way to win the game.

I’ll add gems management.

Yeah. I see we are on the same wavelength.

Well, the current version already uses steam workshop for the maps, and as you say, you can run a copy on a separate computer It shouldn’t affect that.

Honestly, workshop ruins the gaming experience for non steam users.

Spellforce 3 and Total War: Warhammer both have active workshop integration, but is completely walled off for people that own the game on Epic.

I prefer how Pathfinder and Age of Empires handles if, since it’s open to a larger player base.

Besides, Mods are incredible easy to install into Dominions. It’s just saving to the correct location and checking a box ingame.

Illwinter will always get my money. Hats off to Kristoffer and Johan!

I believe the solution to this is tied to automation if they don’t change the interlocking systems too much. There has to be an upper bound of micromanagement you will allow in the game and give the tools to mitigate the number of clicks to finish a turn which can then be utilized by the AI logic to behave more intelligently.

Also, victory conditions that provide an exit ramp before the game is a test of endurance, not strategy or tactics. I have an unreleased mod project that I tinker with these priorities but it would be a lot easier if there were ways to inject that kind of logic into the AI. The sheer size and breadth of options will always limit that, but it can be expanded on. To IW credit it’s a tough job on just one guy coding it, that’s for sure.

Yeah, my dream is for them to maintain the current depth and complexity, and put on top of it an advanced order system. Some kind of panel where I can select armies/mages/provinces with filters (“all mages with fire 2 or higher”, “all provinces with a fort”, “all commanders with dexterity 20 or more, or with x magic item” , “all mages with a ‘hunt blood slaves’ order” and then give them order in bulk (move to x province, establish new battle position, change your set of battle orders to this new one, do magical research, forget this item, recruit 10 new soldiers, etc).

I think walled off is putting it too strongly. The mods can be uploaded to Workshop as well as other services like Epic, Nexus, etc. The obstacle with Epic is that is likely requires the mod author own the game there, but in my experience they often have an arrangement with someone else to do the uploads when there’s an update.

Granted, if a mod author owns the game on Steam they may not want to bother with those extra steps but someone likely will.

Well, neither the popular Steam Mods for Warhammer and Spellforce 3 aren’t available to play on the Epic side of things. My understanding is some of the Warhammer Mods bring a lot of QoL to the game.

In either case, someone of Steam Forum made a point that steam mods could break MP games if they are updated at the wrong time.

That would be an issue with the game updating as well wouldn’t it? Is mod auto-updating tied to the setting auto updating the game, or is there a separate setting that can be set?

I have seen updates break MP games, so maybe it is.

We can’t expect too much of mod authors - they are doing this for free in 99.9% of cases. Keeping up with bleeding edge base game updates, multiple clients, etc is a job, not a hobby. Mods break as base games up, saved games break as base game updates, etc etc. If you want to ensure your current save is functional for in perpetuity, freeze further updates to the base game and the mod (which Steam allows!).

Criticism of base game developers favoring Steam Workshop - well, I’d say that’s more a result of a mature, mostly very functional mod distribution list that many users like to use. To characterize it a walled garden is an exaggeration, at least for the games I’m familiar with. In the games I use Workshop for, mods often include an external GitHub or other link for non-Steam users - so neither Steam nor the developer is deliberately “walling a garden”.

I was with you until that last statement.

Of course this is deliberate on the part of Steam. Make a feature that is convenient for users to use, does not require any external applications, and can be done right in the Steam Application? Plus it updates?

It’s deliberate on the part of the Steam to take advantage of human nature. I want to say Dark Patterns, but that might be a exaggeration. It’s more akin to putting a food court in a mall, or an ATM machine in a Gas Station.

In any case, the effect is a walled garden, although the walls are paper thin, taking only effort to leave. But why would you leave, when Steam Workshop works great?

In any case, I’ve already mentioned that it’s hard to find many of the Warhammer Mods for Epic. And honestly, one of the major moders for Spell Force 3 actually went out of their way to make sure it was not compatible with Epic (they did make the mod available for XBox, Steam, and GoG).

In any case, I understand the lure of Steam Workshop. I’ve just always heard that for Dominions, there was a decent chance that updates to MP could break games.

Steam has no exclusivity expectations nor requirements for modders that upload to the Workshop - they even permit links to third party downloads. If modders want to also use a third party, or only a third party, they are welcome to do so!

I don’t want to get into the reasoning of Steam Workshop here except to say I’m all for it and don’t believe it is a walled garden unless you intentionally make it that way.

The issue with breaking of MP with Dominions specifically is that the mod will update automatically when you load into steam or have it running unless you specifically set it up to wait for your approval. With Dominions you have to have the host update the game before anyone else otherwise it causes problems as well as the Steam Workshop and whatever other avenue of distributing your mod have to be kept in parity to the point where you’d want to release your mod on Steam last because of the auto-updating. It also doesn’t work well for modders who don’t have discipline in their release or do constant changes that commit to a new build (I’m guilty of this, so no finger pointing from me).

Lastly you have to build your mod around how the multiple mods are applied. Since it’s a simplistic overwrite of files if you have multiple mods that affect the same files it doesn’t know the priority unless you use an outside mod manager that takes this into account for updates.

I think being aware, educating your modders, adjusting the game itself to provide the priority for you or making sure that updates require you to reenable them or having a unified 3rd party mod manager do the work for you are all good practices for ease of use and visibility of steam workshop mods.

The caevat here is that I don’t think Dominions modding has enough mods for this to matter to the general player as it’s a niche game and for most it’s only those hardcore few MPers who this would affect.

But why would they?

I feel like we might be talking past each other though. You are talking about what is possible, while I am talking about the results that are occuring.