Dominions 4

Discussion in 'Other Games' started by Dr. Quackzalver, Apr 11, 2015.

  1. I figure we could do some discussion about this wonderful game, now that Horrible Wizard League Fall 2014 is finsihed. (my team won!)


    First, some technomantic rituals no self-respecting Pretender God should be without:

    • Dominion4 Inspector - this one is really big. Much eaiser to look things up here than in the manual even though it doesn't quite have every single bit of info the manual has.

    • The official forums has a lot of stuff: guides, maps, mods, after action reports, discussions and so forth. However, most of the really juicy tidbits are buried deep in 100 page threads, so you might have to ask there or at...

    • The IRC channel #dominions at is really helpful, I picked up several useful ideas there.

    Note: the picture is from a different game of Dominions 4. (but it's funny :p)
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2015
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  2. Our pregame discussion about nations/pretenders/disciples settles on Ulm as pretender, and Sauromatia, Pangea and R'lyeh as disciples. We have an Irminsul Pretender:


    Well, almost. Ours had 7 candles (dominion strength) instead of 6, but since then the game has had a balance patch, so our exact setup isn't available any longer. Note: magic scales also reduce magic resist by .5 per point and makes spells cost less fatigue. Nature 9 magic paths gives us an all-round useful bless on our disciples and all sacred units/commanders under our command, as well as a powerful nature mage. It is, however, a big tree, so can't move around.

    To complement the bless I pick a Gorgon disciple:

    Which will quickly spread terror and suffering among the unbelievers! Pangea had a Master Lich with Astral/Death, and R'lyeh a Sea Dragon with, I believe, Air/Water/Earth.

    Having a major bless makes my sacred troops a very tempting option, so I primarily recruit this unit for the early game:


    In groups of about 7, lead by a commander with priestly authority to bless them, they are easily able to defeat most independent armies and bring more provinces under my control.

    The first thing I noticed once the game starts was lizard shamans on a throne province! I rushed over and established a border with Caelum. Lizard shamans are very good, in particular when paired with our specific bless and my reliance of commuions, as you'll soon see. Then to the east, Marverni lurked, so I found myself stymied.

    Elsewhere, however, the expansion was curiously sluggish. Especially between C'tis, Pangea and Tien Chi there was a lot of unclaimed land - early wars with Niefelheim, perhaps? In Dominions, I find that land is the source of nearly all power. Thus, like any self-respecting feudal lord, you want as much of it as you can, as fast as you can. So naturally, I went down and grabbed it, giving me an early edge.

    In essence - knowing how to build a small army that can take independent provinces without too much attrition is vital to getting a good starting position, which lets you do much more with your nation as the game progresses. Having one big army taking one province per turn is not effective.

    Of course, land needs to be developed to really be of any use. Thus, I started sending mages out to search for magic sites (this is very important to do quite early!) and commanders to build palisades, to take advantage of this guy:


    Note that he has less than 100% chance of having magic paths, and thus can be recruited from any fortification, even ones without laboratories (or temples). That, and the low price of 35 gold means I can get a lot of them with our dominion giving me extra gold, and they are more cost-effective researchers due to Magic scales.

    Armed with land, sacred dinosaur cavalry, a Gorgon and cheap researchers, I quickly grab some useful magic to support my Gorgon and then I go straight to Enchantment 5 for the cornerstone of Sauromatian power:


    When supported by these spells from Thaumaturgy 1:


    I can use my Soothsayers as Communion Slaves and the Enarie:
    as Commmunion Masters. However, this is dangerous - they will quickly tire the Soothsayers out, and when the Soothsayers fatigue reaches 200, they will start taking damage at a rate of 1 per spell cast by a Communion Master. That's where
    comes in handy - enabling up to two Communion Masters (if you use the spell Enlarge on your Soothsayer Communion Slaves!) in each battle to have almost infinite fatigue to keep raising skeletons and other unholy magical feats.

    Against something like a magical, one-eyed giant armed to the teeth with magical items and wielding the powers of storm and plague, you could follow this recipe to have a good chance of victory:

    You need
    • 1 Enarie
    • 3 Soothsayers
    • 6-7 horse archers or other units to serve as meat shields
    • 1 astral gem
    • Thaumaturgy 5
    • Enchantment 5
    • Conjuration 3
    • Alteration 2
    Set 2 Soothsayers as Communion Slaves. Use the Enarie and the last Soothsayer as Communion Masters. Position the Enarie on top of the Slaves, and the Soothsayer Master at least 6 tiles distant. Order the soothsayer to cast Power of the Spheres and then Soul Slay*3. Order the Enarie to cast Enlarge, Personal Regeneration, and Horde of Skeletons*2. Your skeletal hordes will rise faster than they can be killed and eventually even the most magical of beings will fail to resist the mental onslaught of an Astral Mage. Even if you should somehow fail to kill your foe, he will eventually be dispirited and retreat to find easier prey.

    For larger battles, I use lizard shamans
    as Communion Slaves instead. I can bless them with our handy hit-points-increase-and-regeneration bless, which of course stacks with Personal Regeneration, and now I can support FIVE masters, leading to much greater undead hordes.

    At this point, I mostly phase out the usage of Oiorpata in favor of simply having large armies of archers and horse archers (plain archers are better for massing arrow fire, but the horse archers can also serve as line troops (to a limited extent))
    to bombard the enemies while my mages summon an infinite stream of skeletons to fight and re-die against whatever the enemy is bringing to bear. Claiming the Throne of Summer enables me to recruit Mages of Summer, who can enchant arrows with fire magic, further increasing their potency. There's several other spells and mages I use, but special mention should be made of the combination of casting
    with a Enarie Commnion Master and then telling all the Soothsayers (and I had a LOT of them) to cast
    Stellar Cascades requires Astral 2 magic, and a Soothsayer only has Astral 1 magic thus the need for Light of the Northern Star. This combo can quickly render even large armies unconscious, and easy prey for my skeletal hordes and withering arrow fire.

    And there you have it! Special mention to dBaumgart for his complete disregard of troops, Nicholas for braving the waters of Communions with me and Agartha for showing how even hordes of really scary troops like Magma Children and Olms must eventually fall to mage superiority.
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2015
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  3. Nikolai

    Nikolai Member

    I don't have much to contribute to an AAR. My loss can largely be attributed to just plain being new, especially with multiplayer games.

    While I grasp the concepts of things like scripting, thugs, SCs, and so on, I don't have the experience necessary to keep up with veteran players to a sufficient degree. I sat on a huge pile of gems the whole game with no idea how to spend them.

    My early aggression was due to only ever having played with bots; amusingly, it was the correct choice of action. After my initial defeat, I figured spamming druids casting mind burn and horror mark would do something about the Gorgon and any other SCs encountered, but I didn't ever find out until the skelespam came in.

    Much as Marverni is my favorite nation, it is also my least played (due to enjoying playing everything) so I wasn't too sure just how to research. And while I've read about a teleport+gifts from heaven combo I've never tried actually replicating it in game until now, so it never got off the ground.

    I likely would've done a lot better with, say, Tir na n'Og because I have experience using their thugs as stealthy raiders.

    But even still, I'm not sure how to tell who to target and when. Choosing to be the Pretender was likely a poor choice as well, since I was far less skilled than I had liked to think I was.

    All in all, the game got stressful and I was tempted to go AI after losses came rolling in. Still, I'm glad I had the experience of playing Dominions 4 in multiplayer, and especially with (if you'll excuse some fanboyism) such an awesome, starried group of people. At least I think so, 'cause you made some of my favorite games! And if it weren't for the tweets of Baumgart and Mosolov about Dominions I never would've gotten into it in the first place.

    The "Kickstart Fomoria" thing was definitely my favorite part of the game and basically made it totally worth playing. So hats off to David for making it fun even in defeat, and congratulations to Sauromatia et. al for their brutally effective, terribly unethical necromantic strategy.
  4. I did get a kick out "Kickstart Fomoria", when it was revealed after the game :)

    Strategic decisions are always very difficult to be certain of - in this game I didn't have to really make them. Once Fomoria started attacking Ulm we mostly fought their team until we won and then the rest decided to gang up on us.

    Tactical mastery is easier to acquire - reading guides and checking the inspector will get you a long way, especially if you use the debug mod and a suitably small map to play with yourself and see how and why things work. Of course, you also learn by playing and seeing what others do. I doubt I've played more than 10 multiplayer games, but since you have a lot of time between turns you can pretty quickly find out what doesn't work, change it, and try again.

    Tir Na n'Og on the same team as Vanheim/Niefelheim would have been terrifying... especially with something like a N9E9 bless. Niefel Jarls, Skrattir, Vanjarls, Sidhe Lords everywhere with frost/firebrands and vineshields. :eek:

    I think there's several Marverni guides on the Desura forums - off the top of my head I'd say you can use earth/astral gems for boosters for your mages as well as Clockwork Horrors and Golems.
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  5. dbaumgart

    dbaumgart Art Director Staff Member

    Alright, I'll try to keep this quick. (Which means it'll be long.)

    I got really lucky this game, but that was partly intentional. I also made some really dumb mistakes which knocked me out of the running.

    My team was myself as Fomoria (aquatic one-eyed magic giants + giant goatpeople + Irish ubermensch), Nicholas as Tien Chi (Ancient China with magic warriors & elemental mages), and Zander as Mictlan (Aztecs with magic werejaguar warriors & plenty of blood sacrifice).

    I was pretender and this was my build (and completely missed the opportunity to name myself David Lo Pan):


    This is a rather standard E4 N9 bless to generically benefit everyone from sacred giants to mages to sacred frontline fighters.

    (It may not have given quite enough punch to Mictlan's Jaguar Warriors however, because although they had good survivability for general use, they didn't have the offensive ability to take down Ulm's heavily armed and decently armoured Conan-like barbarian warriors. Then again, EA Ulm sucks to start next to. Then again, EA Mictlan also sucks to start next to - provided they have a strong enough bless to power their sacreds. This wasn't enough.)

    The scales are a bit cheeky. I went for Turmoil rather than the standard Order, plus Luck with lots of other good stuff, though the Sloth is a weakness. I figured we could make up for the Sloth with good events, heroes, and magic.

    The turmoil/sloth wasn't fun. I was always broke and had trouble recruiting basic troops. Once I hit my research goals in Alteration/Evocation to power my Druid air mages with False Fetters for lockdown + Lightning Bolt / Shockwave for damage, I did okay (with a fatal omission, which I'll get to), and from there went for Construction to equip Fomorian Giant SCs - the magic scales and luck events powered the midgame strategy decently, but early was rough, and once I burned through the trickle of basic troops I could recruit I could never build up a good mass again.
    So I'm not too enthusiastic about turmoil/sloth anymore.

    As for luck: I got some amazing heroes, like this guy on turn 2 (which is insanely lucky and patently unfair!):


    A3D3H3? Fear aura? Sailing, amphibious, gifts water-breathing, lightning and cold resist? Range 20 magic AoE 5 death gaze? Holy crap.

    Balor is a monster. I cleaned out like 4 provinces using him plus a few guards then ran into a random indie province with exceptional defenders that perfectly countered his abilities - a bunch of Lamias + Lamia mages. They cast Howl (which auto-summons wolves from the edges of the map). The wolves attacked from the rear, locked down Balor by having him first waste his Gaze of Death on them then by getting bogged down in melee while the Lamias with life-stealing attacks killed the guards, then Balor.

    It was horrible. And that alone probably killed my momentum in the early game - and mid-game. My long-term strategy actually counted on Balor to be my throne-capper due to having an imprisoned pretender, and I *thought* he was nearly immortal so long as I avoided throne defenders. But ... wow. I got too aggressive, risked him, and lost him.

    (Just give me a moment here.)

    As for politics, I ran into Caelum first and we had a tense standoff that would have broken into war had I not subsequently been attacked by Ulm (note here that he, of course, was the aggressor, not me!). By the way, Ulm was played by my brother who inevitably backstabs me in every game. But I know he's going to do it, so I always prepare. In Starcraft, he marched dragoons toward my base but I had laid a spider-minefield in their path! In Alpha Centauri he attacked me with rovers decked out with top armour and weapons, but I had mindworms hiding in the fungus. (Yes, I only remember the times I won.)

    He always attacks me, no matter what, so once I knew Ulm was a mere 4 provinces from my capital, I knew war was inevitable so I had to put myself into as strong a position as possible against Ulm's strong early game. Ulm also ran into my ally Mictlan and seeing as how we were fighting already, Mictlan attacked ... and lost.

    See, my brother does this trick in Dominions 4, every time. When your first big expansion army meets his, he gets you to attack a chokepoint, but he's dumped an entire turn's worth of gold into the province defense, so you lose your army and he still has a strongpoint to attack you from. You lose.

    This is what happened to Mictlan. Our bless and Mictlan's numbers weren't enough to defeat Ulm's mega-PD and Steel Warriors. Mictlan lost his army, Ulm kept his, and that was the nail in Mictlan's coffin.

    I'm going to cut off the narrative here and continue in another post with how I tried to relieve Mictlan by attacking Ulm and failed, how scary Fomorian Giants are with magic items, then how I was crushed by Ulm & Sauromatia, and THEN how I ran a Dominions 4 Kickstarter.
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2015
  6. Oh wow. A moment of silence for Balor.

    I agree with you on the blessing and scales - you might have fared better if either one (or both) was changed to give your team a better early game. Having the scales to buy Unmarked/Nemedians would help, and so would having deadly Jaguar Warriors.

    Aggressor, schmaggressor, in the quest for Ultimate Power, there can be only One True God! Everyone is an enemy, if not today then tomorrow ;)

    Hm, if you can find a decent chokepoint, the PD trap is quite deadly. It does carry the risk of getting bypassed and then you have 1000 gold sunk into troops you can't use, and who can get cleaned out rather easily once thugs or mages take the field. I've done it a couple of times, and simply had the enemy not attack.
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  7. dbaumgart

    dbaumgart Art Director Staff Member

    Picking the story back up! But let's do some geography first.

    We played on Realm of the Roaring Rhinos (if I got that name right), and a Fomoria-centric map looks a bit like this:


    Do note that the map wraps around in each direction, so Sauromatia/Doc Q being on two sides makes sense (also he had a ton of territory). Also I forgot Ryleh in the water somewhere, but by the end of it he controlled almost ALL the ocean provinces so it's a bit immaterial.

    A note on that: In the late early game (turn 17ish) I got an event that gave me a ton of gold. Rather than saving it and treating it as something to make up for my lack of base income due to turmoil/sloth, I blew all that gold on underwater-capable mercenaries and invaded the seas to try to counter Ryleh's underwater domination. It ended pretty quickly because Ryleh had a very solid Disciple in the form of a very strong trampling sea-dragon that summarily squished all of my ambitions and all of my spent gold. Oops.

    Back to the story: Ulm has defeated Mictlan's main army, and while I've been scuffling on the border with Ulm, it's time to get serious about my midgame strategy.

    Here's another amazing hero I got in the first few turns:


    That's Tuan aka the research boost I needed. I basically stuck this guy in a lab and he got me the spells I needed to make my Fomorian Druids do useful work. Let's take a side-trip into the future and see what happens when Tuan loses a few fights:


    Apparently immortal heroes can lose pretty everything and still be alive. That's a pretty dark interpretation of immortality, but hey, he was able to grow his head back and become useful again in a few turns.

    As for the Druids, here's what they look like (from the mod inspector site):


    2A is perfect for evocations, 1H to self-bless, and a random Death/Nature/Water for whatever. Not super combat-tough, but enough hitpoints to take a bless and stand in close combat blasting evocs. Lightning resist of 4 doesn't hurt either - though this is where I totally screwed up.

    My first push against Ulm relied on cheesing some skeleton summing spam (though nothing near what Dr. Q was able to pull off later), just basic crafted amulets and D1 mages sitting at the back of the battlefield cranking out a handful of skeletons each turns. This can handle low levels of PD and small forces pretty well, but it certainly didn't keep Ulm bottled up.

    So then my research got to where I wanted where I could cast False Fetters (medium range spell that locks units down with magical bonds) and Shockwave (a short-range Area Attack lightning evocation). The plan? Put the few troops I had on "guard commander", set my druids to False Fetters than use Lightning at long range and Shockwave if Ulm's barbarians managed to close.

    How'd that work? Not great. The Druids dished damage out, but they couldn't hold the line; once a shockwave or two was cast, they'd break morale and retreat. Why!

    It turns out I failed to recall that in Dominions 4 the Shockwave spell was changed so that it hits the caster as well as the AoE! These Druids were hitting themselves and thus causing themselves to rout; the only reason they didn't do it instantly was due to their intrinsic low lightning resist and their high health from my bless. I'm such an idiot; I should have had them cast Protection from Lightning THEN do anything else.

    So instead of crushing Ulm's armies and relieving Mictlan as planned in this map I sent to my allies:


    ... I just wore down my few troops and my research Druids in a horrible meatgrinder.

    But there was a way out! Tuan did not rest, he researched up the Construction tree so I could construct magic items for these guys, Balor Juniors:


    Give 'em a Vine Shield for crowd control, a Horror Helm for more crowd control, a Frost Brand to kill crowds of enemies, some Mail of Gleaming Silver or whatever for more protection and defense, and a few more bonus trinkets, and then a single Fomorian King could destroy an entire army single-handed. And this worked quite a few times, as evidenced by some impressive entries in the Hall of Fame:


    (A note on my SC build: I invested more gems into magic items than, strictly speaking, I had to. But it was reasonable in the situation because I 1. had a ton of gems to burn through, 2. could only recruit a Fomorian King every other turn, and 3. I was desperate for some way to turn the tide of this war.)

    Around this time is when Sauromatia (and Pangaea, actually) started intervening in my war with Ulm - Mictlan had been crushed by Ulm a while back. His damned Gorgon appeared and absolutely murdered everything. Eventually I landed a curse on her and had a few random N mages equipped with Bow of Beotulf (which causes insanity) with orders to cast "Eagle Eyes" then "Fire Enemy Monsters", but they never caught her.

    That bloody Gorgon. See, when anything attacks her they have to make a magic resist check /or die/. And of course Dr. Q gave her a lightning resist ring so I couldn't just zap her. How do you fight that? I mean, there are options, but I was against the wall and not quite able to do something like rush Frozen Heart or get any fire mages at all. I just barely got a couple of the Shamans previous mentioned with N1S1 who perhaps could have tried paralyze or mind burn, but that'd be dicey.

    Anyway, once the Gorgon was cursed, Dr. Q seemed less excited about putting her on the front lines but followed up with his awesome skelespam squads backed with anti-SC Soothsayer communions set to communion then paralyze. The one thing I didn't build my Fomorian Kings for was resisting magic -- I built them to fight the powerful but mundane hordes of Ulmish barbarians. So one successful paralyze hit was all it took and down went several Kings.

    From there I became a lot more cautious about using the Kings. And, inevitably, I lost more and more territory. After a few more desperate battles, all I had left was Fomoria and an underwater holdout. I was prepared to send all my goodies to Agartha (now an ally in the fight against Team Ulm) and set myself to AI, but I had an idea ...

    (next post, the Fomorian Kickstarter Campaign)
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2015
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  8. Oh, Curse is annoying and sometimes costly, but the Gorgon has recuperation so it's not a huge deal... what is a huge deal is her low-ish HP, so I didn't send her into battle due to all possible fights being in hostile dominion...

    ... and she died to Seeking Arrow. I then spent 10 turns recruiting H1 indie Priests to Call God :(
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  9. dbaumgart

    dbaumgart Art Director Staff Member

    Holy crap, that worked? THAT'S why your Gorgon disappeared? No way!

    I shot two Seeking Arrows at that province as a last ditch effort to do /something/ and one of them killed my stupid scout that was keeping tabs on your Gorgon so I didn't really have much hope for anything useful to come of it.

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  10. I was surprised as well, you clearly had the favor of RNGeesus that day :)

    I did some tests, and I'm pretty sure you could have killed the Gorgon with the right kit on a Fomorian King - especially if I went into hostile dominion. Might have had to trade for some items, but there's some really nasty items you can get - winged boots, duskdagger and some magic resistance boost is pretty hard to deal with.
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  11. Here's a somewhat lopsided battle. Rain of Stones is one hell of a drug:

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  12. dbaumgart

    dbaumgart Art Director Staff Member

  13. Samut

    Samut Member


    My Pretender only had two weeks until retirement! He was going to sail around the world on his boat, the Live Forever!
  14. Samut

    Samut Member

    Congratulations to David on his victory. I welcome our Earth Serpent overlords.

    Thanks to Gaslamp for organizing this and to Stian for hosting (IIRC). I had a lot of fun and managed to come in second.

  15. Alephred

    Alephred Royal Archivist for Queen And Empire

    Dominions 4 is currently 60% off on steam ($15.47 CDN) until Sept. 5. At that price, I may take the plunge myself.

    *edit* Well, I bought it. Now to read through this 454-page .pdf manual.
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2016
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  16. Unforked

    Unforked Member

    I also have it and am completely clueless. My strategy is to watch some youtube tutorials and hope for the best. Worked for Crusader Kings 2.