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

I can only play the level of micro needed in MP games. During which, we get several days to make our decisions.

January 17th is the day! This time I will finally get into the series.

For me, the secret is laid back MP games and Dominions Inspector Webpage.

The slow MP game makes burnout less of a problem, since you can’t just burn through turn after turn.

I’m very happy with how the Dom 5 “stat & res” bless meta is going to die in Dominions 6.

In Dominions 5, one of the important changes was how from blesses went from fixed and just a few ones (there was 1 minor bless and 1 major bless per path, that’s it), to have 70 or so different blesses, with the player being able to mix and match for thousands of combinations.

However Illwinter made a balance mistake, being that the first iteration of the new system, it seems they thought people were going to buy the expensive blesses like before and only use the remaining points in the minor effects, like +1 def and +5 fire resistance. But no, those minor effects, all combined, are of great effect in the game and are cheap.
The reality of the math is that +2 attack and +3 defense, dark vision and +10 fire, shock, cold and poison resistance is better than some fancy Death Weapons + Luck. The difference is big because how each magical path point cost more than the previous one, from going from X2 to X3 is cheap in comparison with going X7 to X8.

So in Dom 6 they made both stats and elemental resistance blesses more expensive. 2 points for a +1 stat (before it was 3 points for a +2) or +5 resistance (before it was 1 for +5, or 3 for +10).

For example, in Dominions 5 you could get all this
image
for just Water 4, Earth 5, Nature 4.

In Dominions 6, if my math isn’t wrong, you would need:

6 points S&F res
4 points 10 cold
4 points 10 poison
1 point swamp
1 point low light vision

16 bless points total cost. so you need:

N4 3 bless points
W4 3 bless points
E6 5 bless points
F4 3 bless points
A3 2 bless points
16 total

N4W4E6F4A3 is much more expensive!

First videos

THE NOOB GUIDE/NEW PLAYER PRIMER
In only 125 short bullet points

(disclaimer: I’m not an expert, but I should know enough to guide new players. Also, some sections may have to be reworked because Dominions 6 new changes)

Essential learning tools

  1. https://larzm42.github.io/dom5inspector/ For a complete list of units, spells, items, etc, with advanced filters and more. Obligatory to have if you are a Dominions players, as the game don’t have a ‘Dominionspedia’ or equivalent.

  2. https://illwiki.com/dom5/ for the Wiki for the game.

  3. https://www.illwinter.com/dom5/docs.html for the official manuals. Yes, the game don’t have an ingame tutorial, but an old school hundred pages manual.

  4. Press ? key in every in-game screen. Seriously, do it. It will show the shortcut keys for the screen you are in that moment. Each one (battle formation, army setup, normal map view, battle view, item view, spell list, etc) has a series of very useful keys to learn. On the long term, learning them is good because it means less micro for the game, less wasted time. Example of a few basic keys:
    r to recruit
    t to setup army
    c to see a battle report in the selected province
    v to view the battle in the selected province
    n is next commander, f is previous commander
    m is the message (events) list

    General

  5. What is Dominions? Dominions is 4X/wargame game. You focus on expanding on the map, and beat the crap out of other players with your armies. You don’t get culture points or build aqueducts or Wonders, you fight, which is why it can be seen more as a fantasy wargame.

  6. The goal of the game is to capture the Thrones of Ascensions, as they give you victory points, they reside in specific provinces. This is really implemented so you don’t have to conquer all the map to win, making games too long.

  7. Players start surrounded by neutral (grey flag) provinces with relatively weak native independent armies. As any similar strategy game, expanding fast and getting as big as possible before the real wars against other nations start is key to victory.

  8. A turn is a month in the game, so saying ‘in two years’ in game, means in 24 turns.

  9. Before starting the real game, you have first the Pretender Design phase, where you choose who is your avatar in the game, who (or which) is trying to ascend godhood. It can be an archmage, or a mythical giant monster, or a giant of divine heritage, or a sacred monument that after eons of prayer, it gained a will.

  10. In this phase, apart from your “chassis” (what unit you are), you choose other attributes and traits like your Dominion score, your bless, your magical paths and your Dominion scales, this will be explained later.

  11. Like in Heroes of Might & Magic, and unlike Master of Magic, normal troops can’t move on their own but need a commander, and will retreat in battle if all commanders are killed. Although it’s trivial to recruit them, so the comparison with Heroes of HoMM isn’t the best.

  12. There are three mundane resources or currencies: gold, ‘resources’, and recruitment points. Gold is universal, empire-wide, and the most important one. Resources (representing supplies, metal for swords and armor, arrows, etc) and Recruitment points (representing manpower) are individual to each province, so you cannot recruit an infinite number of troops in a single turn from single province as long as you have gold.

  13. There are very few “buildings” to do in a province you own: Forts, Temples and Magical Laboratories. Although Forts also can have upgrades that improve the fort to the next “tier”.

  14. Priests can build temples in other provinces they move to, and preach in the province they are.
    a) Both temples and the preaching action will expand your dominion in the area, which is your magical/religious area of influence.
    b) Priests also can bless your sacred troops in battle, who usually are your most elite unit, gaining some kind of magical buff effect, some commanders can be sacred too.
    c) Sacred units need a temple in the province to be recruited. This include some sacred mages.

  15. Mages usually need a magical lab to be recruited. They can do a lot of things, as Dominions is a magic-focused game. Like:
    a) Build other labs elsewhere.
    b) Research on schools of magic to unlock new spells.
    c) Forge Magical items.
    d) Cast Ritual Magic (spells in the strategic map), like magical summoning. These last three actions I mentioned have to be done in a province with a lab.
    e) Search for magical sites in your provinces. Once discovered, the site will provide you with magical gems (x per turn), used for powerful magic, forging magical items, etc. Equivalent to mana or crystals in other games, although here they come in flavors (fire gems, water gems, etc). Mages can discover sites associated with the magic they know, ie. A Water 2 mage can discover Water 1 & 2 sites (which usually will give water gems). This action can be done without a lab in the province.
    f) Search for blood slaves, they are the equivalent to magical gems for the Blood magic school. Technically any commander can try this, but only mages with blood magic will have success at a decent rate.
    g) And even more, some mages have special abilities that they can do in the strategic map, like raise undead, or transform into an animal.

  16. You need a fort in a province to unlock the ability to recruit most of your national troops in it, in addition, a fort will greatly increase the gold, res. and rec points obtained. A forted province even “siphon” part of the potential gold and resources from nearby provinces that you own, representing your people in the fort taxing and exploiting the lands surrounding it.
    Recruitment

  17. In the recruitment panel, units are usually ordered from left (cheaper) to right (more elite, expensive). For units (on the bottom row), this means militia troops are on the left, and on the right are the sacred units. For commanders (on the top), scouts are on the left, then mundane commanders, then normal mages, then the more expensive mages on the right.

  18. Provinces with a Fort can recruit mundane, normal troops and commanders.

  19. Provinces with both a fort and a magical laboratory (usually abbreviated to ‘lab’) can recruit mages commanders. There are no mages ‘units’ in the game, they are all commanders.

  20. Provinces with both a fort and a temple can recruit priests commanders and sacred units. There are lots of exceptions to these last three points, but it serves as a general rule.

  21. While you recruit units individually (say, you can recruit 1, 4, or 86 soldiers) they have to be assigned under a commander in squads to be able to move, and orders apply to said squad. Commanders have a limited number of squad slots, up to 4-5.

  22. The assignment to commander squads is manual, don’t believe with hiring them is enough, next turn after doing the recruit order you need to enter in the army setup screen and move them from the general fort/unassigned ‘slot’ (the one at the top) to whatever commander you like. In a similar way you can transfer units between commanders of the same province.

  23. There are some basic rules for the squad assignment: magical beings need a commander with magical leadership (usually a mage), undead beings need someone with undead leadership (usually a mage with Death magic)

  24. Mixing demons or undead units with the normal type in the same squad can lower their morale by 1. Squads with any number of Undisciplined units makes the whole squad undisciplined and therefore cannot be given orders so don’t mix them, either.

  25. Different commanders have different leadership values. The higher the value, the more troops can lead in battle (the number indicates the max number of troops), and the higher the morale bonus they gain. Also, having 80 or above means you can specify formations to the squads under the commander.

  26. You can surpass the maximum amount of squads that a commander can have, but all squads will have a morale penalty, then.

  27. In the Army setup screen and Battle Orders screen you select the position of the squads and commanders in the battlefield, and their general orders. Units can only have a single general order, commanders (that includes mages, remember) can have up to 5 initial orders apart of a general stance or order. For example, for a mages it means you can select what the first five spells you cast, and after that, the AI will select spells on its own.

  28. Recruitment can be limited in other ways. Some special units have a limit of “1 per month” for example. The already mentioned sacred units are also of limited recruitment, in their case depending on your holy points. The most elite mages can usually only be recruited in your capital, too.

  29. Commanders additionally from normal gold and resources cost ‘commander points’, and the bigger the fort, the more commander points you will have in that province. They determine how many commanders you can recruit in a turn, or how many turns you need to recruit a commander: if a fort has a value of 2 commander points, you may recruit two scouts per turn (1 cmd point each), or a single general (2 cmd points) or you may need two turns to recruit an elite mage (who needs 3 cmd points).

  30. Mercenaries: Each turn, you may recruit mercenaries from a general pool of options. You only need gold to recruit them, but they will only serve for a few turns, and every player can do an offer to them, they will go to the highest bidder.

  31. Look what ‘native’ generic troops can be recruited after conquering a new province, sometimes you get barbarians, or lizards, or shamans, or crossbowmen, or any other troops. They are usually not very good in comparison with your ‘national’ troops, but they may offer some ability you wish, like being amphibian in the case of lizards, or casting Astral magic in the case of some shamans, etc.

Dominion, Temples, Priests & Blesses

  1. Now coming back to priests, dominion and temples. You have a base dominion score, chosen in the Pretender design at the start of the game, from 1 to 10. The stronger the dominion score, the better, when two opposing Dominions collide in the map, there is a tug of war between them that the stronger Dominion will have better chances to win.
  2. A province can only have one present Dominion at a time. If it’s yours it will be indicated by a series of white candles, if it’s an enemy one, it will show black candles (activate the relevant map filter in the game if you don’t see any candles).
  3. When your dominion spreads to a new province, it lets you see that province name and income, even if you still don’t own it.
  4. Making enough temples make your Dominion score to increase, around 1 for every five temples. So you can start with a Dominion score of 5, and if you build 11 temples, you will have a net Dominion score of 7.
  5. Temples produce a ‘temple check’ every turn, where they try to increase your Dominion in the province (the higher your Dominion score, the higher chance the check will succeed), and if the province is a max dominion capacity (which is your Dominion score too!), the dominion is attempted to be pushed outside the province. In practical terms, if the inner provinces of your Empire are all at the max dominion possible, the temple check is done in the border of your dominion area where it is fighting the enemy’s Dominion.
  6. A prophet makes also 1 ‘temple check’ by merely existing, and a Pretender does 3 ‘temple checks’.
  7. Your Dominion have some properties, that represent aspects of your Pretender God. If you are a god of chaos and misfortune, the lands you conquer will be invaded by chaos, unrest and bad luck, etc. If you are a god of order and justice, your lands will be more productive and less unrest will appear. These are your Dominion scales or just ‘scales’.
  8. These traits can be both positive and negative, they are chosen at the start, in the Pretender design phase. Negative traits give you extra ‘Pretender design points’ that you can spend in other positive traits or in a higher magical path or dominion score or a better Pretender chassis, etc.
  9. These traits may lag a bit, don’t believe with conquering a province it will turn automatically. You could conquer a new province that was out of your Dominion, and a few turns later your dominion arrive to the province. Once that happens, it may need even more turns for the traits to fully develop, the more extreme the changes, the more time it will need, although the stronger the Dominion, the faster the conversion will be.
  10. It’s harder for the Dominion spread to jump from land to sea provinces, and viceversa.
  11. In combat, there are some slight advantages in fighting in your own Dominion, instead of your opponents. Your troops will have better morale, and your Pretender God will have more max hit points (but also have a HP penalty in enemy dominion!), if it is participating in the fight.
  12. The dominion of some nations can have special properties, like spreading Death, or Cold, or generating units for the owner if there is Turmoil, or obtaining extra information from the provinces it touches.
  13. Your Dominion score also is the number of holy points you have in each of your provinces, from the point of view of recruitment. Each sacred unit cost one holy point (except some giants who consume 2 holy points!), in other words, this just means that with a Dominion of 6 you will be able to recruit 6 sacred units per turn in a given province. Because for several nations you only can recruit sacred units in your capital, this imposes an important limit on them.
  14. Blesses: You design what is your Pretender god’s bless in the Pretender design phase. They depend on the magic paths of your Pretender, ie. If your god knows fire and water magic, the blesses will be surely fire/water based. If you want a Regeneration bless, you will need to buy high Nature magic for your Pretender as the start of the game. The more magic paths you have, the more bless points you have to choose your final bless, exactly you get 1 bless point for magical path point beyond the first one. Fire 3 / Water 4 gives you 5 points.
  15. This bless will apply ONLY to your sacred troops (both commanders and units), once blessed the candle icon in the unit details that indicates a unit is sacred will change to a lit candle; but you need a bit of preparation to do it, there are three options to apply it:
    a. Your God participates in the battle, in this case the bless apply automatically to everyone (everyone that is sacred, I mean).
    b. Your Prophet (you can turn any commander into your Prophet, but there can be only a single Prophet alive at any time) or any other Holy 3 priest cast a spell called ‘Divine blessing’, that blesses everyone too.
    c. Your normal Priests cast a Holy 1 spell called ‘Blessing’, but this only applies to a few units, you will need several priests if you have several squads to bless.
  16. Pretenders are automatically blessed in Friendly Dominion, but can’t be blessed in Enemy dominion. Your prophet is always considered blessed.
  17. Blesses can be very important to nations, more than new players may think, even if they only apply to relatively few units, as the appropriate bless can be a force multiplier.
  18. Some of the possible blesses effects (called Incarnate) require your god to be alive and present in the game. In the Pretender design phase there is an option for your Pretender to be dormant and appear later in the game, this gives you extra Pretender design points, so in that case, the bless will only activate when the Pretender ‘wakes up’.
  19. Your god can resurrect if it was killed, you need your priests to execute the action ‘Call God’ but it will need lots of priests doing it during lots of turns, and he may return with some penalty, like having less magical paths.

Magic

  1. Mages have ‘magical paths’, with a skill level associated, like Water 2, Earth 3, Blood 1. Usually 1 to 3, up to 4 in rare cases, 5 or more is usually the domain of Pretender Gods and very rare creatures.
  2. There is Water, Earth, Air, Fire, Death, Astral, Blood, Nature and Glamour spells.
  3. Spells have both a magical path (ie, Water 2, or dual like Water2/Earth1), a school of Magic (Conjuration, Alteration, Thaumaturgy, Evocation, Construction, Blood Magic) and an overall type: Ritual magic (casted on the strategic map) or Battle magic (to be casted on the battles).
  4. The magical path means you need a mage with that path(s) to cast it (although there is an exception with this, see section ‘63.e’), the school just exists as a way for the spell to be unlocked by researching that particular school.
  5. Magic is the big force multiplier in battles. A mage corps that buff your troops, debuff your enemies and sling fireballs and lightning from behind can defeat armies several times bigger their size (if the enemy doesn’t count with mages). In the late game, if an army has substantially more mages than the enemy, that will be the factor which decides who wins.
  6. That said, magic is kinda weak in the first turns, you need to recruit lots of mages over many turns which will be ‘lab rats’, always researching at home, to unlock the more powerful spells.
  7. This is why the rp/gold metric is referred by many players, it’s about how many research points (rp) you can get for some amount of gold (in the recruiting of a mage). Some mages can have low combat capability but be very efficient in the rp/gold metric.
  8. In addition of research, searching magical sites is one of the most important actions you have to make during the early game, as the earlier you start accruing magical gems, the better. In the province panel you have an indicator of what magic paths you have searched already in that province. There are two ways to search for magical sites:
  9. the normal way (where a mage does the appropriate action in a province)
  10. using a magical spell that will be more expensive but it can be used remotely wasting less time moving mages around and will discover any possible sites (for that magic path).
  11. From forging magical items, there are two types of items that will serve to mages well:
    a. Research boosters (+x to research for that mage), usually cheap.
    b. Magical boosters, that upgrades a mage magic path (from water 2 to water 3, for example). They are usually expensive.
    c. Of course, there are many other items, from combat focused items like a magical sword to items that help supplying your army, to items that help you move (like going underwater or flying).
  12. Mage paths are often described with a syntax like ‘A4F1D1+100%AFE+10%AF’. This means the mage has Air 4, Fire 1, Death 1, and a 100% chance of having a random path, which can be Air, Fire, or Earth. So the mage could be A5F1D1 ,or A4F2D1, or A4F1D1E1 (for extra Air, Fire and Earth, in that order). Even more, 10% of the mages you recruit will have a second extra path, Air or Fire. That means eventually you will have one or two Air 6 mages (on average, one every 20 mages).
  13. Boosting, or Path or Item boosting, means to wisely use the magical booster items to reach otherwise impossible magical paths. A water 2 mage can turn into a water 3 mage with a magical bracelet (which needed water 2 to be forged), once worn, he can use the new Water 3 level to forge a second Water booster that needed W3 to be now Water 4. Now he can also summon a magical creature that has base Water 3 as magic, transfer the two boosters to it, and now you have a Water 5 mage.
  14. You can also empower mages using magical gems, to upgrade or give new magical paths. This is used is few occasions because it is usually very expensive.
  15. So, there are several ways to spend magical gems, let’s summarize them:
    a. Doing ritual magic. They use a month (turn) of a mage time. They are magic summons (they are permanent summons, once summoned there is no maintenance), remote magic attacks like sending plagues, magical scrying to scout the enemy, spells that allow you to ride the winds and go to another province, and much more. The most powerful magic that affect the entire world (Global enchantments) are ritual magic too and cost several dozens of gems.
    b. Forging magical items, as explained. Usually they cost 5, 10, 15, 20 gems, depending on the level of the item.
    c. Empowering mages, to get new or improved magical paths. Usually from 30 to 90 gems or more per level, with 50 gems needed for a new path.
    d. Doing battle magic. While most battle spells don’t require gems, some powerful spells may need 1-3 magical gems. An example is summoning elementals, or doing battlefield wide magic.
    e. Increasing a mage’s magical paths in battle temporally, by 1 point (spending 1 gem too in the process).
    f. In battle, mages can also consume magical gems to cast spells in a more efficient manner, that way they will be less fatigued by the spell. They can consume up to X magical gems this way, where X is their magical path.
  16. Speaking of gems, your mages can do the ‘Alchemize’ order to transform a type of gem into another, at a cost (the conversion won’t be 1:1).
  17. In battle mages can’t cast spells nilly willy, each casting has associated a fatigue cost, and units in general stop acting when reaching 100 fatigue, which means your mages will cast 3-5 successive spells, rest for some seconds doing nothing and being very vulnerable to attacks, then continue casting.
  18. Most mages also can’t cast spells if they are engaged in melee, so remember to put a some infantry as blockers for them, or at least some bodyguards.

Magic Communions

  1. There are a pair of special battle spells you will eventually want to know. Both Astral and Blood magic have spells to do communions. Two of them, Communion Master and Communion Slave (or Sabbath Master and Slave, for blood magic). Casting them will make your mages enter in a communion, as master or slave, depending of the chosen spell.
  2. Communions increase the magical path of your masters as long as the communion hold, the more slaves (as in, mages who use Communion Slave spell or equivalent) the bigger the bonus (2 slaves = +1, 4 slaves=+2, 8 slaves=+3, 16 slaves=+4…), allowing you to cast magic that otherwise is too powerful for you. Even more, the fatigue associated with the spell will be distributed along the slaves, instead of being received by the Master(s).
  3. However, they can backfire: accumulate enough Fatigue and slaves will start paying the spell with their hit points. Once some slaves die this way (or any normal way, like getting an arrow to the face), the rest will have to receive a proportionally bigger share of the fatigue produced by the Master’s spells, potentially killing everyone in the process after a few more turns, as Masters usually continue casting spells as if there is no problem. There are more rules that decide how much fatigue is generated and shared, the short version is: the better the magical paths of the slaves the better.
  4. Communions are a usual way super high level spells are casted, although remember this can only apply to battle spells, there are no Communions for ritual spells.
  5. As a bonus, slaves receive any magical buff that the master receives. So if the Master cast Air Shield, all slaves will get it too.
  6. Communions can’t be stopped once started (beyond finishing the battle…)

Blood Magic

  1. Blood Magic is different to other schools of Magic in that you need more preparation before using it, almost all blood spells, including normal battle spells, require blood slaves (the equivalent to gems).
  2. In battle, said blood slaves appear as normal human units near the mages, so they could be killed by the enemy.
  3. To get blood slaves, you usually have to use mages with some blood magic to use the action ‘Blood Hunt’. The higher the blood magic path, the higher the chance the action is successful, also some abilities may improve it. However, blood hunting on a province decrease the population a bit and cause general unrest, high unrest will also decrease the chance of blood hunt finding blood slaves.
  4. To effectively blood hunt on a province, you need an accompanying army that patrol in the province to reduce the unrest. Also, if in the province there is no lab, you need to manually transfer the slaves from the gem inventory of the blood hunter to some other commander (like a scout) that should ferry them over to the nearest magical lab.
  5. All this effort has a good side: blood magic is usually powerful, blood summons are very good, etc. A nation specialized in Blood in the late game is to be feared, because they can blood hunt in 20+ provinces producing hundreds of blood slaves per turn. Unlike normal gems, you can scale up your hunting operations.
  6. Some nations with blood mages also may have the possibility of perform blood sacrifice (with said mages), this will kill blood slaves in exchange of pushing your dominion, like with a temple, at a rate equal to the Holy level of the mage.

Stealth and scouting

  1. You only have limited visibility around your provinces, you need scouts to see beyond that. In Early Age you only see at one province of distance away, two in the Middle Age, and three in the Late Age.
  2. Even in the provinces within that limited visibility, you don’t see 100% of what’s really inside that province, you only have a ‘province report’ that is an estimation of the enemy forces in the area. It can vary up to ±30% size of the real army, from my experience, and the report won’t take in account enemy stealth units.
  3. Some units have the stealth trait. If they are a commander and move alone, or if their entire army have stealth (although the bigger the army, the less ‘stealthy’ will be), they can move to a hostile province stealthy, and later attack by surprise. If you want to directly move attack normally with a commander with the ability to stealth, try control+left click, instead of left click, when clicking on the target province.
  4. Most nations have at least one stealth commander, a scout (or an assassin) that can serve to explore surrounding provinces, or further provinces deep in the enemy territory. They serve to improve the province report you have of any nearby province, and also give you a detailed view (like if you were a spectator) of any battle that occurs in that province, even if it’s between two other players. That way you can learn of their tactics.
  5. If you really need to know about an army in a province, you can ‘ping’ it, attack it with a scout with a retreat order in the first turn, that way you will see the entire army in the battle screen.
  6. If you don’t have any national scout, look for a province with a generic scout commander, they aren’t that rare.
  7. You can avoid being spied this way by patrolling. Patrolling is an action done by a commander, the bigger his army, and the more troops with appropriate skills (good map move, good precision and some traits like ‘flying’ or ‘patrol’ will help), the better the job they will do in discovering stealthy enemies.

Provinces

  1. Each province has a type (swamp, forest, plains, mountains, wastelands, etc). This type affects several areas, like their resources/stats, the movement cost of moving through them, even the type of troops you can recruit (for a few nations) and the chance of magical sites appearing on them.
  2. Population determines income, and therefore is the most important resource of a province. They also have a resource value (raw materials, needed for troops, in special armored troops). Usually plains provinces have more population, and mountain provinces have more resources. Some of the province types with lower population have at least a slightly higher chance to have a magical site.
  3. Provinces also have scales scores (Order/Turmoil, Productivity/Sloth, Heat/Cold, Growth/Death, Luck/Misfortune, Magic/Drain), affected usually by the dominion they are inside, but also by random events or hidden magical sites. Said scales also affect the population growth, income, magical research, etc.
  4. Provinces have an unrest value, usually 0, but it can increase up to 100 and more. Random events or enemy spells (or your own actions, like blood hunting in the province) cause unrest to increase. The higher the unrest, the less income and resources it will generate. Reaching 100, recruitment in that province is disabled.
  5. Unrest will lower naturally, if very slowly. Patrolling with armies will speed up this process, but kill a small number of people, decreasing the population.
  6. You can (and should) spend money in the Province Defense (PD) of a province, they are a militia recruited in situ as first defense of the province. They will participate in any battle that occur in the province, together your normal troops (or alone if there is no army). They only cost gold and are recruited instantly and are unlimited in number. They are replenished automatically after every turn, as long you don’t lose the province. However, they cost an ever-increasing amount of money by each point, so going from 20 to 30 points of PD is much more expensive than buying the first 10 points of PD, and if the province is conquered they disappear (having to pay again for them even after recapturing the province).
  7. Provinces also can have additional special sites (apart from magical sites that are discovered and give gems). From an iron mine that give extra resources to a gold mine that gives gold, to a brigand lair that produces unrest, to a farm that produces extra supply, to ancient ruins where you can find giant spiders.
  8. Finally, provinces have a supply score, which represents how big of an army can maintain the province with the food it has. If units don’t eat or two turns in a row, they get a morale penalty (starved status), and units can get diseased. Diseased units gain afflictions over time.
  9. Because the way the game calculates supply needed vs supplies in province is… quirky, having some supply items in your army to cover 95% of the amount needed isn’t enough, up to 50% of the army still could get starving and diseased. You need enough supply items to cover everyone needs.
  10. The game simulates seasons, and the temperature of the provinces will change in Summer and Winter. With enough cold the province will have snow (slower strategic movement) and rivers will freeze (otherwise they can’t be crossed, unless all your units know to swim, or are amphibious). Similarly, there are mountain passes that only open in Summer. Both rivers and mountain passes feature in the game as special borders between provinces.
  11. To obtain gold and other resources from a province, it has to be connected to another province with a Fort, so beware of part of your territory being cut off in a war and suffer economic damage beyond your calculations.
  12. In cave provinces, people without Darkvision ability have -3 to atk, def and precision. In sea provinces, people without amphibious or aquatic have penalties to atk and def; in swamps, people without swamp survival have -1 to atk, def and higher encumbrance in swamps.

Sieges

  1. There is no siege machinery in this game, don’t search for it.
  2. When an army enters into an enemy province with a fort, if it has defeated any standing enemy army or PD in there, it automatically starts sieging the fort, you don’t need to explicitly order it. But you have to give the order to storm the castle once the sieging phase is finished.
  3. During the siege, the defender cannot recruit anything, and the income of the province is split between the two players. Supplies slowly decrease for the defender.
  4. The forts have a ‘wall integrity score’, when it reaches zero, the attackers can storm the castle. This score will decrease only if the siege score of the attacker is bigger than the defender (otherwise, it can increase up to the normal max amount, to represent the defender repairing the Fort). The bigger the army, and the stronger their units (and if have some special straits, like Flying or Siege bonus) the better siege score. Other traits like being undisciplined lowers the siege score contributed by that unit.

Other stuff

  1. From time to time players are given the option to send a champion to a special Arena, the winner gets xp and a special magical item, the losers die…
  2. Thrones of Ascension are well defended by independent armies. The better the throne (they give 1-3 “throne victory points”, so better means ‘gives more victory points’) the stronger the army.
  3. You need someone with Holy 3 path (usually your Prophet) or your God to claim a Throne of Ascension, the action will need a turn. This action, beside giving you the victory points, will activate the effect of the Throne, because each usually have an effect, like giving your sacred troops extra attack score, or raising the temperature in your Dominion area.
    Province Movement
  4. Movement in the strategic map is simultaneous, with movement in friendly provinces taking always priority. So, if you move troops to a province that is going to be attacked, the reinforcements always will arrive in time before the enemy does. Or if you attack an enemy province and they move back to your province on the next turn, they will always retreat in time.
  5. In rare cases where both you and the enemy move to the opposite province (A goes to B, and B goes to A), it will be randomly chosen where the fight takes place, if in A province or in B province.
  6. Different troops have different map move values, so it’s possible that with fast armies you can move two or even three provinces in a turn, depending on the province type, if the provinces are yours or not (moving through enemy province has a big penalty), etc. However, as a minimum all troops can move 1 province per turn.
  7. Armies move at the speed of the slowest unit.
  8. The default move order will give armies the ‘defend’ behavior/order once they reach the new province for the rest of the turn. This ‘defend’ order, if chosen manually or if you use the move order, means the army will defend from possible enemy encounters by going inside the Fort if there is a Fort in the province, and a siege will be initiated by the enemies. With the Patrol or Move and Patrol order, armies will instead fight ‘outside the fort’ to defend the province from incoming attacks.
  9. Magic movement, and any effect from magical rituals (like magic battles, damage applied to an army, etc) occurs before normal movement and normal battles.

Combat

  1. Combat is fought until one side is 100% killed, or (more usually) until the morale of one side breaks and the army retreats. Before, that, individual units and squads also can rout, as they accumulate casualties. Some magical effects can also cause ‘morale checks’, which is a roll against the morale stat to see if a unit routs.
  2. Combat is always between two sides, if three nations send armies to the same province, there will be two battles with two sides each, one after another, the winner of the first battle will fight the third nation on the second battle.
  3. The command rule: Units need to have at least one commander on the battle, if all the commanders retreat or are dead, then it is an automatic retreat for the normal units. Some special units may also suffer if a magical commander dies, like undead dissolving if the only Death mage is killed.
  4. The HP route rule: when a side loses ~75% of the original army size (using hp as counting system, so a giant counts more than a goblin), the entire army will retreat, even if the remaining 25% could possibly win the battle.
  5. The turn limit rule: To avoid stalemates, battles have a turn limit. In turn 90 (battles are in real time, but internally they still have a turn #), attackers rout, in turn 110, defenders rout. By turn 150, if someone is still in the battlefield, they die automatically.
  6. When units retreat, they have a chance to appear on friendly neighboring provinces (commanders have a much higher chance than units in this regard), if no adjacent friendly province exists, the entire retreating army is killed.
  7. Melee combat works this way: Units roll attacker’s attack stat vs defender’s defense stat to know if they hit it. Then attacker’s damage (weapon damage + strength, usually) vs defender’s protection stat to know if the hit is strong enough to go through the armor, and the difference is the damage done.
  8. Sometimes a huge damage roll is not enough to kill your opponent in one hit, because hits go to a location (legs, arms, torso, head), so the extra damage doesn’t do anything beyond chopping a leg or an arm. But losing your head kills you instantly even if you still had more remaining hit points.
  9. Shields give you a parry rating that helps your defense stat. If an attack fails precisely because that extra defense score that the shield gave you, the attack is ‘parried’, which means the attacker still rolls for damage, but the defender adds the protection of the shield to the total protection. Against ranged attacks, the parry stat is doubled. Superb strong attacks can damage or even break shields.
  10. As they battle, units gain fatigue, the encumbrance stat says how many fatigue points per round of combat or casting. Units with high fatigue attack and defend worse, and they are easier to get a critical hit on them.
  11. The harassment rule: Every time a unit defends herself from an attack successfully, she gets a defense penalty of -1, so if 5 units fights against her, they will progressively have an easier time hitting her, especially the last unit that attacks her.
  12. The repel rule: Units defending with long weapons may have the chance to interrupt attacks and repel them as they come, sometimes even doing 1 point of damage to the opponent as ‘counter’, but usually only works if the if the repeller has a good attack score and the initial attacker has a bad morale score.
  13. Flying info: flying units will need one round of combat to soar to the skies, and fall down on the enemies for the next round (anywhere on the battlefield). You can avoid this and make them use their feet by using the Line or Double Line formation. An extra tip: Flying units are immune to 1st strike of lance charges (which usually have a bonus).
  14. Damage types and damage resistances: mundane attacks can be blunt damage, slashing damage, and piercing damage, they all have their own subtle ways to interact the defender’s protection or have special rules (they have easier time breaking shields, or extra damage against head hits, or bypass some % of protection…). There are equivalent resistances (slashing resistance, etc) that halves the damage received from that damage type.
  15. Similarly, spells, magical items and special attacks can have elemental damage types (fire, shock, cold, poison, acid) that will have some special rule (fire is armor piercing/units can catch fire, shock can stun, cold freezes, poison deals dmg over time and reduce stats, acid can rust armor) and the first four can be resisted by the equivalent resistance (fire resistance, shock resistance…), by the number indicated in the resistance ability.

Thanks for the detailed summary! The gem search is my least favorite part of the game. I gather that 6 introduces a way to automate this. Even though it’s less efficient I will use it, but I wish they would imnovate more and come up with a new mechanic.

Thanks for this. I’m excited to add Dominions 6 to the library, and this time I swear I plan to play. I’ve been watching some DasTactic and Battlemode videos to prepare.

I played a bit of Dominions 4 and I still can’t figure out tell the games apart visually. I’m sorta tempted but considering I’ve never actually finished a game of Dominions not sure if I’ll be just throwing money away or not…

The game is at least easier to get into now, than it was before back in the times when I did it, when Dominions 4 released. At that time I had to read the manual and put a lot of patience from my part.
Now there is the super useful Dominions inspector, now there is a fairly complete wiki that before it didn’t exist (it was always strange how a game like this didn’t have a community-made wiki) where to read about mechanical details, nation summaries, etc and now there is a small youtube community around it, with people that does guides, let’s play, etc. Even other online resources like the Pretender calculator
http://pretenders5.testingmagic.ovh/

I’m late to the party, but I couldn’t resist mentioning some strategic wargames that use WEGO. Gary Grigsby’s War in the Pacific, and especially its sequel WITP-Admiral’s Edition, is the king of strategic/operational wargames that use WEGO. It can take 15-30 minutes to run a turn as you watch air strikes, surface engagements, carrier battles, ground combat, submarine attacks, air recon missions, etc. I love it! Matrix also publishes a WEGO WW2 series that’s a more operational/tactical scale, covering North Africa and Stalingrad. AGEOD games are another example; those are often purely strategic in scale. Anyway, WEGO certainly has its place in gaming.

Back on topic: I’ve bought and played several of the Dominions games, and I got hooked on Dominions 4 for a while, as I recall. The supposedly weaker AI doesn’t bother me because I stink at the game, heh. The UI/UX didn’t thrill me, and the graphics sometimes made it harder for me to play the game – sometimes I’d have to squint to figure out what kind of unit I was looking at. It looks like Dominions 6 has updated the graphics, which is a big plus for me. I’m sure I’ll buy it once it goes on sale.

Incidentally, they might consider hiring a better voice actor for their trailer. :)

Actually Battlemode from Explorminate is saying the AI in 6 appears to be much improved, which might mean a tougher go of it for you and myself, but probably good for the series overall. :)

The Grigsby games are a magnificent achievement, especially given that it is basically Gary doing the programming, but they are like rivet counting of some flight simmers taken to 11. Did the original WITP have managing the training of individual pilots or was that something the Admiral’s Edition folks came up with. I have all the games, and have even played some :), but it seems to me he could have achieved much more with some less crazy detail, and probably got more titles out. I know there is a die-hard market for that level of detail though.

Oh, that’s good news about the AI! That will make me feel like less of a rube for insisting on playing single-player. I have nothing against multi-player, but I like the freedom to ragequit a game the instant I’ve tired of it. :)

I don’t remember whether the original WITP had individual pilot training; my dim recollection is that it did. (I don’t think its predecessor, Uncommon Valor, had pilot training, though.) Admirals Edition made things 100x crazier by halving the size of hexes, and especially by modeling every ship and boat in the theater, not just PT boats but even harbor boats and small tenders. Even with all that, I managed to get an AE game into mid-1942 once. But it would take me longer to finish a game than it took the combatants to fight the actual war.

I believe there was a person on the somethingawful forums that did it playing a turn a day, with the daily turns in Admiral’s edition. That was some dedication.

I played the heck out of MP Dominions - starting with 2 and all the way through 3. I think I played a couple of MP games of 4. When I quit, I told myself it would make an awesome retirement hobby, if the franchise was still going. And here I sit maybe 1-3 years from retirement and the franchise is still going - and, I don’t think I could muster the same level of immersion I had back then, and I’m not sure I would be satisfied with a lesser level of immersion.

Lost a lot of sleep to dominions (usually in the form of checking the newly processed turn at 2am). I only played SP as a way to test out early expansion strategies with a build. In MP, I scouted like there was no tomorrow. There was a simulator someone wrote that let me set up basically any battle and run variations on it. I’d take what I’d learned about an army’s composition and deployment and try various counters. It was pretty impressive how seemingly innocuous tweaks to my own troops and mages could make or break the outcome of a battle. I’m pretty sure Dom4 broke the simulator, sadly.

Some of my basic strategies probably are still useful. For example, in early and mid-game wars I tried to initiate the attacks and be the aggressor. Once it was a full-scale war, I would put up just token resistance while retreating back to my own territory. Bit of a psychological advantage, in that the opponent might think I had decided my aggression was a mistake, but the real advantages were from fighting in my own dominion and, particularly, from ensuring that the enemy had difficulty bringing reinforcements while it was much easier for me to bring unexpected troops to a battle.

Wow, how about that! I read the first week’s account, and the last couple weeks too. What an amazing feat. Interesting that by war’s end, the two sides had sunk an almost identical number of ships. I’m surprised the Japanese AI did that well. Anyway, thanks for the link. Lots of other interesting Lets Plays in there, too.

Edit: Back on topic, are you all buying Dominions 6, then?

The mad thing about Grey Hunter is he did it once as the Allies, once as the Japanese and then did it again as the Allies! He’s been playing the game for years longer than the actual war. He’s also done War in the East week by week as both sides. The guy is crazy.

I hope you plan to put that in a Steam guide or some other discoverable resource.

I second that. The more introductory literature there is on the Dominions series, the better.

Yeah, it’s the plan.