Author Topic: Dominions 5 thoughts  (Read 1045 times)

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Offline Unorthodox

Dominions 5 thoughts
« on: January 02, 2018, 03:18:27 PM »
You can see some of my thoughts on Dominions 4 here:

And at least on Dominions 4 AAR here:

Simply put, Dominions is my favorite game series.  On the surface, they are a simple 4X game with a lot of table top gaming feel.  They play much like a 'spreadsheet game'.  As such, there's TONS of info to be assimilated, and new players can have a hell of a learning curve. 

I'm mostly going to focus on the changes to Dominions 5 now.  I have ~2 hours in is all. 

5 come out of the blue for me, I hadn't followed developement, and frankly didn't expect it for another year or 2, assuming it would follow a similar developement cycle as 3 and 4.  But up it popped in my STEAM folder just before Halloween.  If you know me, I have a solid no-buy policy from September through to after Christmas, and I followed that here, only picking this up on New Years eve after doing my budgets for the year. 

The first thing that struck me was the graphical improvement.  No, it's not something amazing, but it's noticeable, like going from a PS1 game to a PS2.  The font is just so much CLEARER to me.  I don't know how well it will show on the screenshots. 

So, side by side, first Dominions 4

Now, Dominions 5. 

Now, take a second look at that dominions 5 screenshot.  There's a couple other big changes here that bear attention. 

God creation in Dominions is one of the most important things when setting up a game.  You might not guarantee a WIN with a good god creation, but you can sure LOSE with a bad one. 

New to Dominions 5 are the custom priest spells.  Here you see my god is getting ashes to ashes and heavenly fire in place of the normal banishment spell thanks to his fire paths.  I don't know what other options might pop up there, I have no control. 

However, look at the bless effects.  IF you go over 4 points in any magic path, you can now customize your blessing effects.  Essentially you get 1 bless point for each point in a magic path, and you can select from a dropdown menu how to spend those points.  You can also stack weaker blessings.  So, you can see I spent all 4 fire points on a big fire blessing, but doubled up 2 earth blessings, and 4x on the death blessing. 

There were even now mixed blessing that cost, say, 2 air and 1 nature, or something.  Another change is that the really powerful 5+ point blessings now require the god to be manifested.  So, the old strategy of picking an imprisoned god for more points for a major bless to give your sacred units a huge edge is out the window.  (I'm looking at you, Mictlan) You now would have to wait till your god broke free to get the benefits.  But some of them just may be worth that wait, should you survive that long. 

I've also noticed a bunch of new bless effects, which will need a lot more looking into at some point.  This is incredibly fascinating and the first thing that adds REAL change to the series in 5. 

The next change come at unit recruitment. 

Below you'll notice a couple things that I'm not sure are completely balanced yet, but offer a significant change.  Recruitment points and commander points. 

I'm not sure exactly how they are factored at the moment.  But it's a new resource that is partially from province (maybe population) and modified based on your fort/castle stats.  Previously, in Dominions 4, it was just strictly resources and gold, and you could buy as many troops as you wanted anywhere as long as you had those. 

Factoring in the recruitment points, there's going to be a lot more building a bunch of low resource units over there, and the high resource ones yonder, and marching them around to combine over there. 

Commander points are also interesting as I had some commanders that would take 4 turns due to my commander points, and some I could build 2 of this turn.  I'll need a lot more time with it to say whether this is a good or bad move.

I had a tendency to play nations with rather crappy forts in the past.  (Early Age Machaka here is new, but still a good example.  They were in Middle ages before, and one of my go-to's in that age, where they were considered weak with tribal systems and crappy forts)  That might be an even bigger handicap than before. 

The next big change comes to the battles. 

Battles ARE NOW SIMULTANEOUS TURNS.  No, not you.  You still have no control in battle, you set orders prior to battle and can watch the battle if you want. 

However, Dominions 4 battle order:

Defender move
Attacker move

Within that, the units moved:


And within those trees there was a turn order as well.  And you could spend hours setting up intricate spell lists to get things out in the right order and pretty much wipe enemies out with mages and archers, just keeping enough melee to keep your mages clean. 

This is gone.  Bye bye.  No more.  Everything now moves at the same time (presumably on initiative). 

Cavalry set to attack archers, therefore, can really decimate a back line as a result, not having to suffer a round of spells and arrows first. 

For now, my old strategies of archers, mages and fodder WORK, but I'm seeing significantly more casualties.  It's going to take me a lot more time to figure out how the new battle system works. 

One final big change is in the map. 

Previous entries 'shipped' with a lot of carefully premade maps.  Dominions 5, instead come with a much more customizable random map generator that seems to put out much more friendly maps than the previous generators.   

Offline Spacy

Re: Dominions 5 thoughts
« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2018, 06:16:29 PM »
Only played 2 quick games.  The text is a big difference.  Recruitment feels about the same, even with different currency's to do so.  The map generator is the thing that got me at first, as the 2 I played were much lest friendly than the random generator in the past, and the lack of a lot of pre-made maps & scenarios wasn't a pleasant surprise. 
Known as Godking on mosts Civ forums (such as )

Offline Unorthodox

Re: Dominions 5 thoughts
« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2018, 02:37:11 PM »
Only played 2 quick games.  The text is a big difference.  Recruitment feels about the same, even with different currency's to do so.  The map generator is the thing that got me at first, as the 2 I played were much lest friendly than the random generator in the past, and the lack of a lot of pre-made maps & scenarios wasn't a pleasant surprise. 

I still haven't had a ton of time to play, still working on that ~7 player game above. 

I'd love to hear more about your map experience.  What made your maps bad, and what settings did you use?

You must have recruited differently in 4 than I did if it feels the same.  Or just played with more resource heavy nations so it was more a limiter for you. 

I've found the recruiting one of the biggest hurdles to my game above.  Part of that is me learning the nation (which bears little resemblance to Dominions 4 middle age Machaka) but I'm constantly being restricted in my recruiting by the recruitment points rather than gold or resources.  This has caused me to fill in my melee fodder with magical summons I typically don't use, and turned it into an undisciplined hoard of random animals backed by archers and mages. 

I have confirmed that recruitment points are derived from a province's population, though.  So, some of that could be map related, and some of it nation.  I imagine underwater nations, and a lot of the more 'primitive' ones will be hindered by the recruitment points the worst, as they had a lot of low resource units you could recruit in hordes, but I haven't seen anything with really 'low' recruitment points, yet. 

Another couple cool little nuances:

I have story events turned on, so not sure if this is one of those, but the first throne I claimed was the Throne of Blood.  Absolutely useless to my nation that don't have blood mages.  Very next turn, a blood mage arrived "To serve whom sits on the throne".  Just like that, I'm able to bootstrap myself into blood if I want to.  A couple turns of research later, he's monthly spending the free slaves from the throne making undead demons for the rest of my commanders to use. 

The other neat little nuance is the persistence of afflictions.  Your units always gained them, but they now matter more.  That guy that had a limp now becomes fully crippled on the long march to the next province on the map.  Disease is much more insidious than it used to be as well, spreading and multiplying afflictions through the army, each with chances to get worse on marching. 

While a pain in the ass, it makes using disease as an offensive tool much more appealing. 

I now have a battery of dedicated healers with the army as a result. (there's a throne somewhere making global plagues, which makes it more a problem in this game) Unless there's been some balancing, that won't be an option for everyone.   

My closest neighbor was...I forget the name, but based on jewish mythology.  They were always a smaller number of recruits (but giants) nation, so I can't really gauge how well it's handling the change to recruiting.  Hinnom is up next with much more 'normal' recruiting, and looks like they've picked up the killer AI dice roll I always build into my games (always try to make at least 2 killer AIs.)

Offline Unorthodox

Re: Dominions 5 thoughts
« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2018, 02:29:29 PM »
Well, my first game there eventually devolved into my making free fodder in the form of loads of mound fiends summoning undead, utilizing that undead command bless on my commanders and simply shambling over everything. 

There was a strange case of Tien Chi simply disappearing, being dominion killed when it owned a good 20 territories.  I'd never seen an AI that large allow that in 4.  They'd have hordes of priests preaching to prevent such a thing. 

My second game was short.  I noticed a new ocean bound nation.  I forget the name, but they were a curious beast.  I rolled a really BAD god for them, apparently, but got lucky on an event to cover my weakness.  Nation starts underwater, but they hardly have any underwater troops.  You have to summon the troops by a priest that can only be summoned by a level 0 conjuration spell needing a death 1 mage.  The only mage you have that could do that only has 10% chance of getting death 1.  You REALLY need to start with a death magic god just to get going. 

The units summoned are undead, but also subject to normal morale fleeing because they don't KNOW they are undead.  You don't control whether you're summoning archers, spears, or light infantry either. 

This all works once you GET going, as ranged units underwater are extremely rare, and you have an easy time conquering the underwater provinces as a result.  And, once you break onto land, you can recruit living versions of all your troops (and some new ones and commanders) as if you were a full fledged land nation. 

It was really weird and kinda fun, but easy as hell/overpowered. 

My third game, I've rolled up with EA Sauromatia. 

This nation is one of the ones with the biggest changes hitting it from dominions 4, as the battle changes and new mechanics really hit them in the face.  I'll probably write up a bit more on that later. 

Offline Unorthodox

Re: Dominions 5 thoughts
« Reply #4 on: January 25, 2018, 01:40:45 PM »
My third game, I've rolled up with EA Sauromatia. 

This nation is one of the ones with the biggest changes hitting it from dominions 4, as the battle changes and new mechanics really hit them in the face.  I'll probably write up a bit more on that later. 

Well that swiftly kicked my ass... 

Rerolling based on what I learned. 

Offline Unorthodox

Re: Dominions 5 thoughts
« Reply #5 on: January 26, 2018, 02:05:41 PM »
Alright let's talk Sauromatia: 

In Dominions 4, they were considered mediocre to poor.  But, they get most of the changes right to the face.  I just haven't worked out if that makes them a powerhouse or a one trick pony. 

It all comes down to the recruitables: 

One glance tells you this isn't your normal nation, there's few infantry.  Lots of cavalry. 

The strength of Sauromatia has always been in their basic archer, and that hasn't really changed: 

The stats are still the same.  The 11 precision and the compound bow make this the best archer in the early age.  And, new to dominions 5 is the tattoo.  These tattoos "Can be activated by magic", and offer the units various boosts depending on design.  This archer would get 10 invulnerability, essentially 10 armor, allowing them to not fall over when someone sneezes their direction.  But, the recruitment point cost means you can't just mass them on the frontier anymore quite the same, but it's reasonably cheap to still make them your backbone. 

One should not get trapped into the androphag archer:

Cap only 'elite' archer, has a magic bow, sure, but at twice the recruitment cost and having the most resistable magic damage in the game makes it a worse choice than the basic archer. 

The trick with Sauromatia has always been how do you protect them? 

The sole infantry:

These guys are a poor choice, it's like any random independent infantry, but now with a tattoo.  You're better off grabbing independents as you go, your forts can do better in choosing one of the cavalry...but THAT becomes less effective with the new battle mechanics, since your archers really need someone to hold the enemy units in place so the arrows hit.  And big tall cavalry just might get hit from behind by the arrows. 

So, you come to the sacred cavalries.

This one actually has 2 snake tattoos, so 20 invulnerability, making it quite hardy, and able to be blessed on top of that. 

And the runners: 

Horse/snake combo tattoo adds speed and invulnerability.  The speed makes the charge more deadly. 

At roughly the same recruitment cost, it's a bit of a tossup which is better.  The androphags have better offense once engaged, the oiorpata have a better charge and defense. 

Not to be forgotten is the hydra. 

In dominions 4, it was a trap best reserved for your eventual undead army (since undead are immune to poison).  Used with your regular troops, it would usually kill more of your own than the enemy due to the poison cloud around it.  And, once engaged it was easy to take out with numbers for the enemy. 

Dominions 5 has changed that as you can now choose a poison resistance bless for nature 2 that would allow your sacred units to resist the poison.  And, most large monsters, hydra included, have gained the unsurroundable stat that allows them to fight hordes better (part of the rebalancing in the RTS battles)  Hydras + sacred cavalry support suddenly becomes a viable strategy for Sauromatia mid-late game. 

Offline Unorthodox

Re: Dominions 5 thoughts
« Reply #6 on: January 26, 2018, 02:24:57 PM »
Commanders really boil down to a couple you want to focus on: 

The cheap researcher (otherwise fairly worthless)

What will be your endgame massed mage:

(Note the fortune telling, which might let an impertinent leader risk misfortune scales)

And finally the combat priestess 

Yes, there are also witch kings, but they are so expensive and cap only you will only have a couple for very specific rituals back home. 

So, where did I go wrong? 

First was a misunderstanding of tattoos.  They have to be activated by a SPECIFIC spell  And it's down the enchantment line, which is not normally one I prioritize early.  So my first early game, thinking my priests bless might activate them, went horribly wrong. 

On finding the spell and researching it, I didn't realize what it would do to the AI, and thus didn't script my units properly. 

So, tattoos 101: 

You need to research enchanting 3 and have a Nature 1 Holy 1 priest to activate the tattoos.

Caveat:  That spell is fairly small range and area of effect, and instantly becomes priority to the AI until your whole army has awoken tattoos.  The priest will kill itself with exhaustion trying to activate every tattoo in sight if you don't specifically order it to stop. 

For sauromatia, that available priest is awful expensive to have going around killing itself. 

I've found 5 such priests a good number to bring so they can hit everyone.  Or just have one cast for a few rounds and give them a bow with the fire command after that.  Reinvigoration items, of course. 

N2 seems to reduce the fatigue if you get a few N2H1s. 


Overall comments on the Dominions 5 combat changes. 

Archers have taken a significant beating with the nerf bat.  Since they were previously one of the main end all be all strats, that's not a bad thing.  You now need to protect them a lot earlier in combat, and need to hold enemy formations in place for them to be able to hit something reliably. 

Cavalry have seen a porportional buff.  And TRAMPLING cavalry set to attack archers/attack rear is REALLY GOOD. 

Big monsters can now be VERY deadly instead of mildly annoying. 

Mage scripting and placement has to adjust to the above realities. 

Offline vonbach

Re: Dominions 5 thoughts
« Reply #7 on: April 02, 2018, 04:27:50 PM »
Once you learn to gank the commander the game becomes super easy.


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