Part 1: Turn 1: Who Wants To Rule Forever
Here's the main interface for the game. There are many fascinating buttons, and you can see a few important stats on the top. Topright is our civilization's global stats, topleft is the stats for a selected province (this will usually be blank because I'll usually be selecting the middle of nowhere for screenshots.)
Our first major goal is to conquer everything we possibly can. Unfortunately, on the first turn you can't actually see units near you - each of those provinces is owned by a small independent army as evidenced by the white flags, but we won't get intelligence reports until next turn. Some people design incredibly powerful Pretender Gods that can wade in blindly on the first turn and almost certainly win, but it's always a little risky and I haven't done that anyway, so the first turn is going to mostly be spent hunkering down and waiting for information.
(People familiar with the game may notice that I don't actually have a Pretender God right now. She'll be showing up in about a year. I'll talk about this later.)
You can see nearly every decision of my first turn, along with a more panoramic view of the world, right here:
If you look closely, you can see my starting position in the southwest area of the map, nestled between those two lakes. In terms of geography, chances are good I'll have one wall to huddle against, two if I can flatten whoever is probably to my west. Not bad.
I'm following standard practices and using my starting army to Patrol my home province while jacking the tax rate way up. High taxes raise Unrest, which has a variety of bad effects involving your population hating you, and patrolling reduces Unrest. The end result is that I'll have a small bonanza of cash next turn, which is always, always appreciated.
I'm also prophetizing my scout. This is a common decision, but I've got really good reasons for it.
Let's Learn About The Game: Dominion and Prophets
An unsurprisingly important mechanic in Dominions is the titular "dominion". Your god's Dominion is a measure of its influence and your citizens' belief in your god. You can see it on the map above: one lone little candle sitting in my capital. More candles means a stronger dominion, and it will rapidly spread out from my capital to provinces nearby. Most nations don't have any special effects within their dominion besides a few morale bonuses. There's exceptions: Late Age R'lyeh tends to drive its citizens insane, C'tis turns its dominion into a disease-ridden festering swamp, and Arcoscephale automatically scrys inside its dominion, gaining (relatively) detailed information on enemy troops and magical sites.
I'm playing Arcoscephale, and I'm a complete data whore. I want as much information as possible, which means I want as much dominion as possible.
There's a few ways to spread Dominion. Temples will do it. Priests will help out a lot, if they pray at Temples. Your Pretender God is pretty much a walking Dominion fount - and so are Prophets.
So basically, I'm designing a scout that will be a moving zone of information for me. Awesome.
Keep in mind that there are two "loss conditions" in the game. The first is to lose all your provinces. The second is to lose all your dominion. No dominion, nobody believes in your God, you die instantly. This is another good argument for spreading a lot of dominion around, although I'm not expecting that to be an issue in this game, for me at least.
I'm also recruiting some troops. We'll talk more about troops and recruiting in future posts. Yes, that's an elephant. Arco gets elephants available by default. You'll see a lot of them. With my remaining money I'm also tossing a bid on a mercenary magician who's available - I don't expect to get him for such a small sum (the minimum bid is 40), but it'd be a steal for a little research edge early on, and there's literally no risk. Either I get him, or I get my money back. Everyone wins!
Next: A future post, in which we talk more about troops and recruiting.