It was the damndest thing. Me and TURN DOWN FOR BALZAC had been together since the beginning. Both firstborn B.C. we were barely kneehighs when contact was first made, and our Lords awoken in all their Glory. Inspired, we both joined the command. Guess some of Pa rubbed off on me, because they chose me to be a Cave Captain. TURN DOWN FOR BALZAC though… first they enlisted him in the scouts. Then all this business started about the stones whispering and statues moving. I consider myself a man of the faith, but I don’t know what to make about this alleged Divine Boon the Ancients have been bestowed with. And then they took TURN DOWN FOR BALZAC into the Temple. Now they’re saying he’s the destined prophet? These are strange times indeed.
My starting position isn’t terrible, but it doesn’t qualify as great either. I am connected to 4 provinces, but one of them is underwater so won’t benefit from fort connection. I am surrounded by lands rich in resource, but without good income. A “good” starting position is connected to 4 land provinces, one of which has 70+ income and the rest which have ~40 average income and resources. If I had known I would be so resource rich I might’ve chosen another point of Sloth, but in my tests on this map it just wasn’t worth the risk of a poor starting position. However, it is possible to have only 2 land connections (and one of those could be blocked by a throne!) so don’t think I’m complaining as it could be much worse. Note my starting gem income: + 3E,1D,1F.
I want to expand to the surface as quickly as possible, otherwise I might get holed into my cave and forced to invade to break sunlight. If either of my cave provinces had high income I might detour to them first, but no luck so instead I move my starting commander, Albert, to where the sun actually does shine. I garrison my starting force and instruct Albert to poke his head out quickly and tell me what he sees (i.e. retreat immediately). I don’t want to blindly attack anywhere with my relatively weak starting army, I’ll save those gambits for when my giants get mustered. Otherwise I send my scout, TURN DOWN FOR BALZAC, to the holy temple to study the good word of Pocahantas’s Phylactery. Traditionally you would Prophetize your starting commander, but I can recruit H3 commanders from my cap for large blessings and early Smites. Instead I want to send my Scout to preach the good word to my neighbors. This will ensure that any nasty cold won’t get too far, and when my golems are mobilized I will have the HP bonus on hand.
Once I establish a land presence, I will make sure to reinforce my caves and then move into the water. I am privileged to be the only nation with readily amphibious units, effectively guaranteeing me water supremacy. The map is small enough for 11 players that I assume land wars will begin almost instantly. While everyone else is at war I can expand into the unclaimed water provinces and grow my nation without risk or war and defeat.
The Ship Wreckers! I cannot afford to let anyone else get them. For one the leader is a sacred Priest with decent stats. She can be a powerful mini-thug for me this early on with my double major bless. Additionally the whole company is amphibious. If anyone recruits her they might get an early foothold in the water before me and ruin my whole plan! I recruit my cheapest researcher, an Earth Reader, an Ancient One and 2 Stone Hurlers. You will never see me recruit Stone Hurlers except for turns 1-2 when I am desperate for gold. They are Ancient Ones without a helmet, shield or spear. However they come equipped with 5 specially balanced throwing boulders (superior to the 2 normal boulders Ancient Ones typically equip). Once out of ammo they wade in with both fists. They count for almost double the siege value of Ancient Ones, albeit they’re still pretty terrible given what my bless is geared for (melee combat on units that have shields, helmets, and a half decent chance of landing a blow). The remainder of my funds go to tempt Y’gologna.
Success! Y’gologna joins my forces and immediately heads East. Allegedly a weak tribe of bat people reside there, waiting to be converted to the song that won’t leave your head that is Pocahontas’s Phylactery’s Preaching Paeans. Albert and his bud TURN DOWN FOR BALZAC head North with 1 Ancient One and 2 Stone Hurtlers taking point in attack formation.
I have seen the fissure in my faith and it has been corrected. With mine own body and mine own blade I have not only fought besides the Divine Ancients Ones, I have seen this Divine Boon first hand. A warrior of the Ursaux Tribe cleaved one of the Ancient One’s ankles clean off! With a shrug the Blessed One leaned over and pushed it right back on! The flesh mended before thine’s very own eyes. Weapons turn away from their skin and they are tireless in their eradication of the heathens. Indeed, I was blessed that day with a boon of mine own!
We have seen the surface light once more! The prophecies were right! TURN DOWN FOR BALZAC is of the most elevated of positions now! And I am his right-hand man, sworn to bring our justice to this world in the name of Pocahontas’s Phylactery.
-Albert, First Captain of the Caves, The Brand of Light, Early Summer of 20 A.C.
My expanding forces are doing excellently. Arnold and Y’gologna both converge on Cloaco Maxima and a strong party of large cavemen who reside there. These subjects will conclude my forced conversion of the cave people. From here I will expand to where the sun falls. This makes Cloaco Maxima especially important because it has a hole to the surface. The area above my capital is mostly mountainous and rugged terrain. I have all the resources a sleeping Disney character’s phylactery could want, but I am hurting for dat gold. Not to sound ungrateful, I am aware my expansion has been going very well. Having a lot of low income terrain is certainly better then only having a couple low income provinces.
Something to note in my battle tactics is how I positioned Y’gologna, surrounded by her units. Both the province last turn and this had the Zotz, flying bat people who dabble in blood and death magics. By keeping them grouped around her I ensure the annoying fliers don’t surround and kill her (which would admittedly be unlikely vs weak bats). I am keeping them clumped for the next battle against the cavemen too. My Ancient Ones are joining the battle, I intend to make the Cave people close the gap between us and pepper them with boulders all the while.
If you remember we average 9 land provinces a player until Thrones or the water provinces have to start being taken (less world war occurs). Right now I have 7 provinces on turn 4. Granted they aren’t very good ones, but hopefully that means they contain lots of magic sites. This also means next turn I will likely be hitting, or even exceeding, that threshold of 9. Yet I still haven’t seen my neighbors. Either they are expanding slow, or there is a chance we both might dive for the same province this turn and strike first blood. Here goes nothing!
Agartha gains a bonus in resources and income to all cave forts. Usually caves have lackluster population, so aren’t great sources of either, but every bit counts. They also have a special national advantage with their Golem Cult buff. My initial army will be almost entirely composed of their sacred Ancient Ones. These units are elderly giants adorned with iron weaponry, large throwing boulders, scale mail, and some thick HP values. These giants have their own unique abilities tied to their nationality. They are cold-blooded, having grown accustomed to the warmth of the underground they will not do well in cold temperatures. They have perfect darkvision, allowing them to see both underground and in the dim of magical darkness. Additionally they do not consume traditional supplies, instead needing only rocks and dirt to sustain themselves. This allows them to venture into normally inhospitable areas with no repercussions like starvation. These are their mages; from left-to-right (ranked in order of both expense and power) we have the Oracle of the Ancients, the Golem Crafter, Earth Readers and Attendants. As religion is integral for Agartha all our sacred priests trained in the ways of Pocahontas’s Phylactery. This means they benefit from any blesses I take, but also require holy temples in fortified cities before I can begin recruiting them. For the most part Attendants will be delegated exclusively to Priest duties and leading small packs of reinforcements. I do not intend to recruit very many. The Earth Readers are minor Earth mages with fortune telling abilities. They also have decent leadership skills and, most importantly, are very cheap. They will form the bulk of my research force and will be used to reinforce existing companies. If I’m low on cash I will usually start mass producing these.
The majority of my produced mages will be the battle-ready Golem Crafters and Oracle of the Ancients. Oracles can only be produced in my capital city, and are slow-to-recruit, so Golem Crafters are the dominant battle mage. Both are very expensive. Golem Crafters will be used for battle ready squads of non-sacred Golems (as they can lead 5 more magical units then most Oracles). Units like Claymen, Elementals, and Magma Children will be their command. In battle they will self-bless (if necessary), cast Earth Power to improve their magical prowess, and then barrage the enemy with torrents of magma or boiling vapor. Occasionally they might be given powerful gems to summon elementals or shape the battlefield to be more accommodating for my troops.
My Oracles will be used as troop leaders, powerful Earth battlemages, and necromancers of some power. They will most often be used to buff and lead my powerful sacred troops, but alternatives for them include summoning golems from the Earth itself, launching masses of whirling clay discs to traumatize unarmored foes, and triggering Earthquakes to wipe out massive hordes of weak units. They are given random paths from each of the cavern elements (fire, water and earth) and can potentially access greater Death magics as well. D2 oracles can be used to raise Revenants, which will relieve my Oracles from casting and forging minor Death components. Eventually D2 randoms can forge a Skull Staff, summon a D3 Mound Fiend, and break into late game death magic. If I get a F1D1 random I can forge a Fire booster to access F2 options. If I’m really lucky and get both a 1F1D and a F2 random I can break into F3 Flame Spirits which will allow me access to late game fire magic.
My scales look to eek as much of an advantage out of my N9E9 bless as I can, while maximizing my mage’s potential. On my tests with this map going any lower then Sloth 1 could mean my starting cap has inadequate resources to maximize Ancient One production. While I’d like to dip as low as Sloth 2, I just can’t afford to take the chance of a bad starting position. As mentioned, I don’t need to worry about supplies and Heat 3 and 0 Growth have the bonus of reducing supplies any invading armies might try to scavenge in my lands. I experimented a little with Death 1 in my test games, but found it was too harsh on the elderly Golem Crafters.
Heat 3, Order 3 and Misfortune all go together. Heat 3 ensures it will be difficult for my opponents to take advantage of my Cold Blooded weakness. Misfortune 1 is largely cancelled by my fortune telling units combo’d with Order 3. I could safely drop to Misfortune 2, but I don’t want to risk it with 0 Growth and Sloth scales (I prefer to have the option of temple spamming, which can’t be safely done in Misfortune 2 without lots of PD). On the surface Heat 3 and Order 3 seem like they cancel each other’s income adjustments out. However during Winter my temperature scales will only be at Heat 1, while my Order scales will stay at 3. This means my income bonus will fluctuate from -2% to the summer to 8% during the Winter, averaging an annual 3% bonus. A starting Dominion of 7 allows me access to plenty of sacreds and ensures my Golem bonus will put in work. Remaining points let me drop 1 into Magic for some better random events and research bonus.
My chassis is the Monolith. She can eventually forge a Crystal Coin to Teleport into other provinces, but in the interim will be unkillable in my Dominion as she benefits from the Golem Cult bless. She is the best candidate for N9E9 with decent scales on MA Agartha, and she gives them an eventual outlet for Astral gem income and receives all the sweet cross-path items for Earth/Astral.
As noted I have an N9E9 bless. This offers significant benefits to all my mages and sacred troops. My human mages are rather frail, so the bonus HP and regen helps bolster them. Additionally the +5 base protection and 4 bonus reinvig. is big too. Since my 2 main mages each have E2+, Earth Power combo’d with this bless gives them 8 reinvigoration. This is especially important as I have a 3 net Heat domain which gives 2 additional encumbrance. My bless is really for my late game summons, but until we get there these will be my main combat troops:
These guys are mammoths. They have thick armor, are huge, tanky, and can hit hard (granted the whole 1-eye thing means they might have some trouble landing those hits). Some of their less obvious advantages are their high age cap (resistance to anyone looking to cast Burden of Time), complete dark-vision, big siege bonus (worth 8.24 total siege points), need-not-eat, and being fully amphibious. Quite flexible units, with or without a bless. As I have a double bless they are quite durable and make me fear nothing early game save for Gods, massed crossbows and slippery high defense units. Unfortunately they can only be recruited in Agartha and, as they are sacred, I have limited recruitment based on overall belief in Pocahontas’s Phylactery as well.
Here are my rivals in the race to claim the Pantokrator’s Throne:
I know 2 of the 10 other players. AstarWulf is the game host and was also in my first ever Dominions multiplayer game. I was very intimidated at the time (I’m still a little intimidated) as I had (and still do) use his channel to guide my initial experience with several nations. He is a solid player who gravitates towards atypical strategies and has a pleasant voice with a heavy accent. Escapement is a vet who hangs out on Reddit and answers people’s questions in scary deep detail- if AstarWulf is intimidating, Escapement is pants-wetting. Even worse remember the Fallen Sons of Nephilim, the cannibal giants? He’s playing them; nothing hurts your chances for victory worse then a strong player on a strong nation.
Beyond Ashdod, both Ulm and Marignon are notable for the ability to recruit crossbows in their forts, a unit I do not want to engage when massed. Crossbows are armor-piercing (1/2 protection values for dmg calc), meaning my tanky sacreds aren’t quite as invulnerable against piercing bolts as they are other conventional weapons. I can weather a few crossbows, but crossbowmen can be recruited in bulk from any of their forts, while I can only recruit my main unit from the starting cap. It would be easy to get outnumbered by them in a war without a quick attack. Even more spooky crossbows combo well with one the of the strongest early-midgame spells in the game: Flaming Arrows. Flaming Arrows is available for only fire mages with 2 paths (1 fire gem lets you lead with Phoenix Fire at Conjuration 3, the other lets you cast the spell) at easy-to-access Enchantment 4. Flaming Arrows makes every ranged spell on your side do magic damage (which pierces certain abilities), and deals an extra armor-piercing Damage 8 roll. Multiple hits can set a unit on fire, which would deal burning damage every turn.
Marignon has easy access to Flaming Arrows and crossbowmen, but there are some issues with their nation too. Their combat paths are almost exclusively Astral and Fire and all their units are feeble humans. I can easily recruit units high in fire resistance to counter most of their combat magics. They can choose to go Astral, which is decent against me, but that likely means forgoing advantageous magic most of the other nations in this game (exceptions Abysia and Ashdod). For this reason they would be a potent mid-game foe, but will be nothing scary late or early game (exception: if they go N9 bless I will have a really rough time killing their knights, but they’d have a similarly difficult time with mine).
Ulm on the other hand… while they lack synergistic magic with their crossbows, they have something worse: Guardians. Guardians are an anathema to sacred-based strategies like mine. They are the worst kind of heretics, powerful ones. Up front they might not seem like anything special, especially for a unit limited to their capital. Well there’s one big thing they have going for them “Bane of Heresy”. On top of their Halberds being magic weapons that deal 11 damage, they also have a secondary effect exclusive to Sacred targets: 15 extra fatigue damage. Ouch. Complete with their relatively cheap cost, decent all-around stats (exception low defense, extremely high protection) and size of 2 they are some of the best giant slayers in the game and can be recruited en mass with no Holy point limitations.
Caelum has a cold dominion and flying units, both of which my cold blooded, slow moving giants hate fighting. C’tis’s dominion reduces opponent’s income and diseases their non-sacred, non-swamp survival units, a national trait similar my Golem Cult. Luckily I don’t need to worry about the disease as much, since I almost exclusively use sacred units. Sucks for the other people in this game though. If I start by him and desire his land it would be easy to cajole our mutual neighbors into joining the fray.
Pangaea and Vanheim are both notable for having sneaky units, plus Vanheim has a cold dominion and the ability to sail. I want to dominate the water provinces in this game which means sailing will be rough to deal with (another way to out-maneuver the clumsy giants). Most significantly Vanheim typically goes for a water/nature bless on their sacreds. Already possessing innate illusion trickery and sky-high defense, any blessed Vanheim sacred will be almost impossible for my giants to touch with their meager attack scores. Vanheim, Ashdod, Caelum and Ulm are likely my worst match-ups here, while I feel neutral about Pangaea and Marignon. The remaining 4 nations (Arcosephale, Mictlan, Abysia, C’tis) I feel I have the edge on.
Lastly here are the new items introduced into the game by the Thematic GemGen mod.This mod seeks to create a couple temp. gem generating items for every path. I’ve brought up detail on all the items I might consider forging above, and will provide detail on any others I witness throughout the game.
My name is PerseusStoned and this is my DAR (“during action report”) for “ThroneMadness” a Middle Age game put together on Reddit by Astarwulf, a Dominions 4 personality with a great youtube channel. To get my qualifications out of the way I have none; there will be mistakes. While I am often engaged in “weekly submission” games with a group of RL friends, this will only be my 4th legit multiplayer game. I once enjoyed writing a bit and hope this exercise will serve to clear webs in my creative muscles as well as document a fun game with new friends. All images are modified in Paint. I have a bad habit of excessive verbosity, so be warned.
In this game I am cultivating the mythology of one of the giant nations.
When Dominion players think giants they might think of the Niefels, powerful giants who sprang from a glacier and armored their bodies with its icy bounty. But I am not them. Instead they may think of the Sons of Nephilim, powerful demi-Gods who are the progeny of Fallen Angels. These cannibalistic giants lust for the flesh of man, and their hunger is terrific in its insatiability. But I am not them. Perhaps then the player might think of the Fomorians, guardians of the watery realm of death. With powerful necromantic and storm magic at their fingertips, the giant barges of the endangered Fomorians would make for a terrifying waterborn opponent. But I am not them.
I am Agartha. A proud nation of giant, hairless, one-eyed mole rats, the sun hurts their eyes and reddens their pale skin most severely. In ancient times my people lived in giant Kingdoms amongst the intricate cave networks of this world. A nation of potent seers and powerful artifacts, the Agarthan’s most powerful Kingdom held a secret: a chamber sealed with the lifeforce of thousands containing a terrible force. A great war came upon the Agarthans and, desperate for a weapon, this seal was broken and the Imprisoned Ones were unleashed. Many thousands upon thousands of Agarthans and suface dwellers died as a result and the next several eras were dark indeed. Necromancy permeated the world, its taint coming from the caverns of the deep and a deadly force above in the land of the moon.
Now the Agarthans adapt. Put into a deep slumber the last pure blooded Pale Ones were awakened by the remnants of once mighty human empires. These humans were forced underground by terrible undead hordes. Slowly adapting to their new environment, the humans eventually developed cave vision and learned how to cultivate the underground flora and fauna. Mingling with their old foes, the Agarthans found a shared purpose: survival. Forming new alliances the humans and Pale Ones have become the face of new Agartha. Many humans have taken to the giants with the fervor of the devout and see them as Divine. Finding hope, at long last ancient memories are awakening. Whispers of a great power sweep the nation, a hope to Make Agartha Great Again. Two words are heard, repeated again and again, whispered zealously in these deep tunnels: “Pocahontas’s. Phylactery.”
This game is hosted on Leaking Lands v3.1 and is using the Worthy Heroes 5.5 and Lucids Thematic GemGen v1.1 mods. Default settings except 15 Hall of Fame commanders, Score Graphs are not revealed by default. 11 players total; 135 provinces total, 11 underwater, 11 taken by a lv2 Throne, 11 taken by a lv1 Throne. That means a starting ratio of roughly 9 land, non-throne provinces per player. Things will start out without much elbow room and get tighter from there. Ermor was banned.