The game has now started. So, the first thing to do is to take a look at what all is going on. First of all, the map:
This is Dawn of Dominions, a scenario map, but with the scenario stripped out for multiplayer purposes. The first thing I notice is that I have four cave provinces, which should be mine uncontested. The second thing I notice is that there’s an okay amount of water which I have direct access to – as Agarthans are amphibious, I can leverage this way better than most nations. Speaking of which, let’s just check who we’re up against…
If you don’t recognize all the nation flags, I’m up against Machaka (big black men in animal tribes) Abysia (burny fire dudes) Caelum (wings and air magic) Nieflheim (coldness) Lanka (blood demons) Yomi (Turmoil demons) and Berytos (sailors). None of these are any good at getting to the bottom of the sea (Berytos can cross the top but that doesn’t bother me) so sea provinces are very likely to become mine too. There’s 17 provinces that, out of the gate, are pointed towards me, and the sides of the mountains I’m under are pretty likely to be mine too. In fact, I’m so well situated that someone might decide to use magic or independent troops to get underwater even though it’s tough for them, in the turns before I officially take all this. That would be bad because then they’re likely to figure they’re the ones who should stop Agartha from becoming huge, and I don’t want anyone to do that.
First things first, I’m gonna want to expand. To do that, I need olms – their mind blast is essential to support my weak troops. And I recruit some more troops while I’m at it. The commander I recruit this turn is an Engraver, a good research1 mage but not good for much else.
Because I don’t have a lot of income yet, I can’t afford many troops on top of the olms I hire, but I do have a lot of resources available for armor, so those three pale ones get to be incredibly well armored. I have a lot of resources available here, actually, so despite building my pretender without emphasizing these things, I might wind up with some decently armored troops even when I get enough gold that the armor needs to be stretched a lot further.
Since I’m not waiting for anything special, I tell my starting commander to become my prophet, and send my scout off to do some scouting.
Now that the game has started a bit more, I can get an idea of what troops are around me.
The above-ground troops are weak, I can take them out easily. That throne2, though, is a problem. Those are some powerful units and they prevent me from claiming my rightful heritage. The worst part is, I really can’t do anything about it until I get more spells researched. I’m thinking that the best way might be to use earth elementals to tarpit enemy fire snakes while olms and spellcasters do what harm I can to them. If I found this when I had good magic set up, I can think of lots of ways to take it out – an Earthquake3 spell would go a long way, for example, but it’s Evocation 5, so it’s going to be a long while before that’s an option. Painfully long, for a site that’s adjacent to my capital and which blocks me off from all those westward and cave provinces.
Well, for now I’ll focus on what I can do and send my boys east, to claim that route to the water. Pale ones can’t fight that well, so we’re setting the olms (in a skirmish formation, due to enemy archers) to fire at the closest and then the pale ones to rush in and do what they can. This is a bit of a brute force tactic, but these guys aren’t worth the time or opportunity cost of sending a scout to see what the enemy tactics are like, so I’m chancing it even though I know it would be possible to win with less casualties.
First things first, that battle.
My lazy tactics didn’t really matter, because independent militia units are incredibly weak. I’ll send my army further on up the coast to take more land before diving into the sea. The province they took contains a White Man Hill, a site4 that generates a nature gem5 each turn, which will be nice in the future, as well as increasing the supply limit and local growth, neither of which I really care about.
Agartha is the king of Earth magic, and as a result I’ve already been offered a trade. Caelum wants a dwarven hammer – an item which helps with forging other items – and I’m entirely amenable to selling him one in the nearish future.
The battle on the coast went well, only one casualty. That war party is going to hop into the sea. Depending on what they see from there, they might hop back out to seize control of the isthmus, which would allow me control of the entire peninsula. But I think that black candle probably means there’s an enemy nearby. I don’t know who, but they have sloth, heat, and misfortune scales.
My second expansion party is ready now, so they’re leaving the caves in the other direction. My scout has provided some good news, the throne up there is poorly defended. Of course, that also means the reward is probably low. I’d rather the low risk low reward throne was the one blocking my way, not the one up where I’m liable to wind up with people wanting to claim it when/if I do take it. But that’s the hand I was dealt.
For recruitment, I’m starting in on a third expansion party.
First of all, my expansion battles are successful. I made the wrong choice in terms of expansion, rather than going into the water for greater vision, I should have gone north to the forest to snap it up before anyone else did. Oh well, I can’t be perfect all the time. I now share a border with Berytos, and have had a discussion with him about future plans:
He seems cutely naïve and incompetent, which makes me want to bully6 him. He has an incompetent anime character as his steam avatar, which could mean that this is a mien he has assumed with intent to deceive, but it could also mean that he considers himself incompetent and thus will be easily flustered. His rate of expansion seems to lean towards actual incompetence but he could have some other shenanigans up his sleeves. I don’t think so though, his nation seems less like an early power and more like one that wants time to build up its respectable research and gold-base, especially since this is an age with a lot of giants.
The only other interesting thing that happened this turn is that I found a province where I can recruit human scouts. So I’m doing that. It’s good to learn the lay of the land, after all.
Several interesting things happened this turn. First of all, I’ve hit the level of income that I can generate an expansion party (now with mage support!) in a single turn. That’s good, but it’s potentially the least interesting since I knew it was coming. I also found a place to hire witch doctors, who have a single level of nature magic. That’s not actually good for much yet but they can search for nature sites, which will give me a lot of gem income over the coming years. Speaking of gem income, I also got something very unexpected:
This is Lapis, a hero unit.7 Since heroes appear according to your luck, and I have Misfortune 2, I really wasn’t expecting this. Getting this amount of paths for site-searching would otherwise take me about five turns of capital recruitment, and so I was putting it off. But now it’s time to start racking up the gems.
The other big thing to happen this turn is a new neighbor, who might challenge me for that throne and will definitely keep some more fertile farmland8 from me:
He’s a more experienced player than I am though, and he’s playing a nation he uses a lot, so I suspect it would be a good idea to avoid offending him. It’s a bit of a problem since his lands prevent me from connecting through the pass there, even if I take out Berytos, but I’ll deal with it.
It is now early fall of the first year of the ascension wars.9 This is a game with score graphs on, so I’m going to post them at the end of each of these updates.
I’m the dark grey line, and as you can see I’m doing pretty well in general. I have the biggest army by a substantial margin, but this is to be expected as I also have the worst troops by a substantial margin. Machaka is dominating in research to a degree that probably means he’s got his pretender awake and researching. I don’t know why. My dominion spread is at the bottom of the pack but it’s still good enough, there’s no need to worry. My gem income is one of the higher ones and will soon be rising now that I have a site searcher, so that’s fine too even though there’s a sudden jump from Yomi. He has that because he got the Lower Throne, which gives five blood slaves per turn. I’ll pass it before too long, probably.
- Research in Dominions is all magical. Your mages research new levels of spells across different tracks (such as thaumaturgy, conjuration, or evocation), which are independent of the individual paths or elements that individual mages have access to. However, those paths do determine the base level for research points a mage generates each turn. What makes Engravers such good researchers is that as a special ability, they get a bonus on top of that. ↩
- A throne is a special kind of magical site4 which is visible on the map, which is substantially more powerful than normal, and which, unfortunately for me, is better defended. They have very powerful effects, sometimes things that could only otherwise be obtained when designing your god, but they’re really game-winning in a different way – literally. Capturing a throne gives you throne points, which are the tally that is used to determine when the game has been won. ↩
- A spell that damages everyone on the battlefield. Normally it wouldn’t do much to troops of this caliber, but it’s extra effective in caves. ↩
- Each province in the game has one or more magical sites. These are special locations or attributes of the province, which are magical or otherwise remarkable in nature. Most of them grant you gems, but there are also sites that grant you gold or resources, as well as sites that let you recruit a new type of unit, or do more arcane things. ↩ ↩
- Gems are crystalized magical power. They’re the game’s strategic-level mana equivalent, used for ritual spells and unusually powerful battlefield spells. ↩
- In Dominions, bullying can mean hassling someone for not taking their turn fast enough, but in this case I mean that I want to beat him up and take his stuff. ↩
- Heroes are unique commanders who are (usually) better than what you can get normally. They just sort of turn up whenever they feel like it though, so you can’t count on them. ↩
- Each province has a terrain type. This is used to determine a lot of things about the province, but the most straightforward is the amount of resources and gold it produces. Farmland produces a lot of gold. ↩
- Each turn in Dominions is a month. Three turns to a season, twelve turns to a year. There are a few abilities that relate to this, and of course it’s colder in winter than summer. ↩