Part 3: Turn 3: Everything Went Better Than Expected
Two of the remaining five players chose their prophets. T'ien Ch'i took a Spirit Leader, a rather nice combat mage of theirs. Gath took an Abba, a stealthy healer mage with the Heretic ability. Heretic passively reduces all dominion towards zero, so Gath now has what is essentially a hidden dominion killer.
Note to self: Patrol the fuck out of my provinces if I go up against Gath.
There's also an unexpected event. Events can be a major part of Dominions 3. Most of them are small temporary effects or wealth bonuses - increased unrest, a cache of magic gems, that sort of thing. Some, like this one, have long-term effects. My capital province is now up to a surprisingly high 45 defense. I actually have no idea if Arco's province defense is any good - I'll have to check into that later - but more is always better.
Conversely, though, if anyone's sieging my capital it's a sign I've done something wrong. With luck, this event will never matter.
We also had a battle.
Let's Learn About The Game: Slaughter And Bloodshed
(Future Me: Just in case this is unclear, this screenshot is actually from last turn.)
As Dominions 3 is a turn-based game, there's no way for players to directly influence battle events. Instead, you choose orders for your units, then pray that the orders work out. One of the major sources of chaos in this game is units going "off-script" and ignoring your orders - usually this happens when they decide your orders are terrible, such as casting Undead-slaying spells when there aren't any undead around, or spamming a huge number of expensive spells when you're just being attacked by a scout - but sometimes your units just go kind of nuts and decide to do something wacky, which can sometimes have horrible cascading problems through your entire battle strategy.
This early in the game, however, my orders are pretty damn simple. Basically I want my guys to kill things ASAP. The green boxes allow me to lay out my army in advance. Any units on the right side will be close to the enemies, any units on the left side will stay far back.
I haven't talked about my units much, but I'll go over the forces you see here without looking at their stats in detail. The guys with javelins are Peltasts, absolutely terrible "ranged" units (I have ranged in quotes because they are really just that bad). I will probably never buy more of them. The guys with iron shields and spears are Phalangites. They're lightly armored and reasonably armed, but nothing really exciting. The similar unit with a golden shield is my lone Hypaspist, a unit which is a little stronger than a Phalangite. And the elephant is an elephant. We'll get to him.
I already botched the orders slightly (GOOD SIGN, ZORBA, GOOD SIGN) as I meant to have my Peltasts out in front. Why would you put ranged guys out in front? Basically it's because they suck and I kind of want them to die. Their javelins are painfully short range - by the time they're able to throw javelins, they're just as likely to hit my own units as the enemy units. This is a problem all ranged units in Dominions have, but good ranged units are able to get in a volley or two before friendly fire becomes an issue. Peltasts don't do that.
Here's what we end up with in battle. My commander is actually off the left side of the screen here. He won't provide anything useful in combat and it will be a catastrophe if he dies, so I'm just keeping him safe. Other than that, things are laid out about how I'd expect.
And here's the opposing forces.
It's nearly impossible to pause the game before anything happens, so I've caught the enemy forces mid-Bless here. Wait, Bless? Where did that come from? This shows the problem with limited intelligence. I was told Archers, Heavy Infantry, and Militia. In reality their army includes a Priest and a surprising number of Commanders. I'm not too worried, though - the best thing a priest can do is bless sacred units, and besides the Priest itself, they don't actually have any sacred units. Or a Bless worthy of note. The Commanders, meanwhile, are barely stronger than the Heavy Infantry.
Note that even Scry doesn't provide perfect intelligence - if I'd waited for dominion in this province, it might have gotten the unit count closer (it's more like 30, while my report originally said 20) but it probably wouldn't have mentioned the Priest. Maybe the Commanders, maybe not. Who knows. Limited intelligence: also a big part of this game.
I'm going to give a turn-by-turn detailed writeup on this battle. In the future you'll probably see battle writeups more along the lines of "my elephants stomp everything". (Future Me: holy shit I'd forgotten I'd ever written that. I CAN SEE THE FUTURE)
Their archers arch at me.
As mentioned, ranged attacks in Dominions can be pretty horribly inaccurate. Many of those arrows probably won't even hit anything. Those that do will have to exceed the Protection of the attacked unit to do any damage. Those that hit my shielded units - and keep in mind, that's every unit of mine besides the elephant, the Peltasts actually use the same shield all the rest of the units do - will have to make another check to avoid hitting the shield, and if they hit the shield, the damage will be reduced even further. I can actually weather arrow storms rather nicely, if it's not coming in too much of a volume.
A single arrow instantly kills a Peltast. That's the 12 in the image, and the small hole in my lines. The rest either miss or fail to do damage.
This will be the only casualty I take during the entire battle.
I eat another volley of arrows, with no damage whatsoever, as my units move forward. Here's a shot of my elephant charging through their units.
Most units must get adjacent in order to attack. They do an attack, the targeted enemy defends, back and forth in a line of weaponry until units start dying. Small units (most things besides big magic summons and Elephants) generally stack several units up in one square to concentrate fire as much as possible.
Elephants have an ability called Trample. They move into a square and hit everything in that square. Anything that isn't killed instantly is bumped out of the square.
This is amazing versus swarms of weak units, and guess what independent provinces are? That's right. Swarms of weak units. The above is a picture of an elephant stepping on three militia. Two of them survive, but are wounded.
The elephant kills the dude in front of him, then arcs around to finish off the two survivors. Keep in mind that the militia still haven't gotten a chance to attack the elephant.
Once you've done enough damage to a squad, it has a chance of fleeing. The lower the morale, the more likely it'll flee. Militia have crummy morale. Unsurprisingly, having an elephant rampaging around in their ranks does not make them happy, and they turn tail.
Also in this shot: heavy infantry trying to poke my elephant in the ass with spears. I am not including the picture of the elephant flattening them as well.
Pretty much game over. The elephant has reached the defensive body and is about to rampage through the archers. He's actually being hit by a spear here, for 2 damage. He started with 64 hit points, so there's a lot of fat left to cut through, and units are fully healed at the end of the battle. He will be fine.
After one turn of stomping archers, they're all basically dead. The elephant is down to 53 hit points now, but it's not really going to be an issue.
The independent armies turn and flee (except for one poor group of archers with an elephant in the way.) That's how virtually all battles end - it's extremely rare to actually kill all of an enemy's forces, usually about half of them escape. In the case of player armies, they end up scattered around any provinces available, and collecting them can be a serious pain. In the case of independent armies, they just die.
Future battles will be summarized in far fewer screenshots.
Sadly, there aren't any immediately findable fire sites. In order to do a more thorough search I'll need a fire mage. I can actually recruit Mystics with a good chance of fire magic, but right now my mage production is being spent on Sibyls, so it'll just have to wait.
My capital is up to 106 resources. Progress.
It turns out that this region is actually pretty crummy for resources. One big advantage to Scry is that it shows population, income, and resource numbers from a distance. That would have let me know that I should have hit up the northeast Forest province instead. Oh well. I aim for that one next - it's Scryed now, and it's listed as heavy and light infantry, still no ranged. Shouldn't be a problem.
I do, however, tweak my battle orders a little.
There's a new interesting mercenary unit available. I don't really need him, but he would be convenient, so I toss a bid on him. I modify recruiting a bit and move on. I also recruit a Commander from my new province, which, luckily, has exactly enough resources for it. I don't want to use my valuable capital production time for him, and I'll have a new army put together soon.
Next: Arco's units, in detail.