When people think of turn based strategy games, they think of titles like Jagged Alliance or, if they are older, Risk. Those who really play this game genre might think of the Civilization or Total War games. Then there are the hardcore who laugh at these games and consider them to be games to play when taking a break from their usual strategy games. These folks are often Dominions players and they have every right to be foaming at the mouths at the thought of Dominions 4 being on its way. Last week, we got the chance to preview it!
You are a God! You are master and ruler of a loyal nation. You have unimaginable powers at your disposal. You have claimed this world as yours. But there are others who stand in your way. You must defeat and destroy these pretenders. Only then can you ascend to godhood and become the new Pantokrator. In Dominions you take control of a powerful being that rules a nation and aspires to godhood. The type of Pretender Gods can vary from magically powerful archmages to huge titans or large monuments. The pretender gods have different strengths dependent on what kind of god you choose and what nation you play.
When you start the game you decide what kind of god you are and how your Dominion affects your lands and followers. It is an expression of your divine might and the faith of your followers. If your dominion dies, so do you. Your dominion also inspires your sacred warriors and gives them powers derived from your dominion. In order to win and become the one true god you have to defeat your enemies one of three different ways: conquer their lands, extinguish their dominion or claim the Thrones of Ascension.
Dominions is set in a fantasy world that draws inspiration from historical nations, cultures and myths. You will not encounter the elves of conventional fantasy in this game. Instead you might lead a nation of Vanir from old Norse myth. Aztecs, Romans, Israelites, Greeks, Shona and Kievian Rus are just a few of the inspirational sources of the game.
- Many monsters (2000+) and many many special abilities.
- About 75 different nations to choose from, varying from Marignon with paladins, witch hunters and inquisitors to under water nations like the Lovecraft inspired R’lyeh.
- Three Eras to play in, Early era is most magic and the late era is more technologically advanced with good steel weapons and armors.
- Design your pretender god and how his dominion influences provinces and his sacred units.
- Multiplayer with simultaneous turns (up to 28 players).
- Teamplay with one Pretender player and a bunch of Disciple players per team.
- Network or Play by E-Mail for multiplayer.
- AI opponents for single- or multiplayer game.
- Random maps with cave, mountain passes and rivers (rivers can only be passed when frozen).
- An extensive magic system with over 800 spells.
- Blood magic, power your rituals with human sacrifices.
- Global ritual that affect the entire world.
- More than 300 magic items.
- Unique magic artifacts that all players compete for, once forged no one else can make it.
- Mercenaries are bought on a global market.
- Scouts, Assassins, Spies, Seducers, Corruptors, Werewolves, Illusionists and more can be sneaking in your provinces.
- Claim the thrones of Ascension to gain special powers and eventually win the game.
- Permanent battle afflictions.
- Easy to Mod (2d graphics)
This game is deep – so deep and in-depth it makes any other strategy game I have played feel like Checkers. The first Dominions came out in 2002 and, my guess as to the reason they are only up to part 4 is because it takes a couple years to really get a good play and feel from them. The possibilities and choices are already staggering and this is without the massive community additions that can be expected after release. If you are a regular player of Dominions, there are some nice changes and additions made to the game since Dominions 3 with developers taking community requests to heart. Those who have never played a Dominions game or have not played one in years, may I suggest you play the tutorial? Maybe a few times?
The key is really to just go in trying to have fun as it will take a while to really learn and understand all the depth and nuances of the game. You will no doubt lose plenty when you are first figuring things out. If you stick with it, you will find the game very rewarding and winning feel like a true accomplishment. It also helps exercise your brain which, let’s face it, we can all do with more of. This is not the game to play if you have had a mind frazzling day at work – if so, you are better off sticking to a nice shooter or casual game. However, if you have had a mind-numbing, dull day at work, this might just be the game for you as you delve into just about every aspect of civilization – including faith development and mythos! Then, once you get all that down, you can build your own mods for the game to challenge other players with! With such an open modding system combined with an already deep gameplay, this could literally be an endless game, never finished or truly mastered, always a challenge. Wow.
It was sheer luck that I have had some experience with previous Dominions games because, otherwise, it would have taken a lot longer to tell readers about this game. In fact, it probably it would have gone from a preview to a review in the time it would take for me to get a foothold in this massive undertaking. Dominions 4 will not be for all players, it won’t be for a lot of players actually. Those who like the Dominions games with love it, those who are willing to give it a try and stick with it will find it satisfying and, just as importantly, mentally stimulating – not something that common in games these days.