Part 7: Turn 7: We Have Met The Enemy, And They Are Wolves
Research complete. Excellent. We'll deal with that shortly.
Pythium has prophetized a Serpent Assassin. That's a bit worrying. Hopefully I'm not near Pythium. On the other hand, if anyone can deal with it easily, it's probably me - my dominion scrying ability gives a much improved chance of detecting stealthy units.
Here's another event: free earth gems. The actual number per event varies widely, but we got 11 gems out of this, which is certainly nothing to complain about.
Pania: You know the drill here.
Obalshin is a little trickier. It's a province full of cavalry, including the somewhat dangerous Heavy Cavalry. I mentioned the Lance weapon back with my cavalry, and these guys have the same ability. I'm a little fearful for my elephants.
Despite them all focusing on a single elephant, they only take it down to 2/3 health. Alright then. I claim the province with no losses.
We continue our expansion, and, whoa whoa whoa, what's that? Northeast of the capital. Enemy units spotted!
Let's Learn About The Game: Midgard
LA Midgard is a nation of humans. By "humans", I mean "werewolves". Their signature unit is the Skinshifter, a somewhat weak human unit that, on death, transforms into a far more powerful wolf unit. These guys: Actually somewhat worrying. They'll have enough sheer damage output to make me worry for my elephants. More problematical, these Skinshifters take almost no resources to make - given enough gold, Midgard can churn them out in nearly limitless numbers. That could be a problem.
There are defensive spells in Alteration that would help immensely, namely Body Ethereal, Protection, and Luck. The former two are at Alteration 3, and the last is at Alteration 4. I'm going to hope that Midgard isn't spoiling for a fight and keep building my economy.
A further worry is that Midgard is a blood nation. Blood nations can sacrifice blood saves to increase their dominion substantially. If he decides he doesn't want my dominion around, he might be able to start pushing it back. I'm not terribly worried about this, though, as all of my mages so far are priests and can push it right back, albeit at some cost to my research.
Let's Learn More About The Game: Charts and Figures
The game provides a bunch of information about the game and every race's relative places. I've been keeping a close eye on it, but it's time to let you guys see it as well. I'm the light cyan line.
First, we can see who's been conquering, and how quickly. C'tis, you may notice, picked up a province on the first turn. This implies he has a powerful combat pretender and felt confident about grabbing his first province blind. At our present day, C'tis has just been tied by Abysia, followed closely by me, then Atlantis and Midgard. Everyone else is behind, including poor Jomon and T'ien Ch'i who each have a mere 3 provinces.
It's generally accepted that one province per turn is the minimum you should be aiming for. By that metric, everyone below Ulm - the dark blue line - is falling behind. I suppose it's a newbie game and to be expected, though.
Nobody has yet built a second fort. This isn't surprising - forts take several turns to build and are expensive.
(Future Me: Holy shit that image is boring.)
Abysia's track there is a bit worrying, I must say.
I'm in 4th place in income, with Midgard hanging around right below me. Somehow I was first place on the first turn. I can't explain this.
Take a look at Pythium, the dark green line that's at bottom place at the current day. I'm going to guess they forgot to turn taxes back down at their capital after patrolling the first day, and taxed their capital straight into revolt. That'll hurt them for a bit.
Mictlan, the brighter green line that's occupying most of the "bottom" area, is another Blood nation. I'm going to guess they dropped taxes so they could blood hunt in their capital and start getting slaves. Mictlan is tricky because their dominion doesn't expand on its own, they have to blood sacrifice, which means they can be an easy mark for an early dominion kill unless they pick up blood slaves ASAP.
Gem income isn't terribly exciting yet either - a few nations have picked up sites, either through searching or through the luck of finding a non-search site. Agartha, the black line at the top, either got lucky or already started site searching. My line is completely flat because I haven't found any magic sites. Wait no it's not. I got a magic site this turn?
Hey, sweet, I got a magic site this turn!
This is a pretty conventional magic site. It gives a small number of gems each turn - nature gems, in this case. That's a nice little convenient perk for me, especially since nature magic is one of my main schools. Most nations get four gems per turn to start with, and Arco divides that into 3 Astral and 1 Nature.
Most sites require you to explicitly search for them. Once in a while, you get lucky. I got lucky.
(Future Me: The downside of getting one of my main schools of gem is that it doesn't make it any easier to diversify. All the main magic-site-finding spells require gems of the kind that you intend to look for. So now I can look for nature sites better, but I still don't have any efficient way of hunting down . . . well, anything except Astral or Nature.)
Holy shit, Bogarus! What are you doing?
One nice bit of info you can glean from this graph is who started with awake Pretenders. You can't research on your first turn unless you have a Pretender, so this tells me that Bogarus, Midgard, T'ien Ch'i, and Abysia all have awake Pretenders. (And C'tis, from his first-turn expansion.)
Pythium has literally no research, and Man is falling behind rapidly as well.
Midgard, meanwhile, got a nice head start and then immediately fell behind. As of this turn, they're actually behind me, as I continue a conventional polynomial growth.
There's poor Mictlan. Apparently they've decided not to waste the time boosting their dominion much further. That can't be more than two candles they have, it seems risky to me.
Thanks to its rampaging Pretender God, C'tis is leading comfortably in dominion. Pretender Gods, like Prophets, spam Dominion wherever they travel. My Prophet Scout is leaving me in second place on Dominion, just barely ahead of Midgard and T'ien Ch'i.
Army size compared across nations is pretty much useless - it's literal size, so if Man there has just recruited a huge pile of Militia, each one of those Militia will count the same as one of my elephants. Army size within the same nation, however, is quite useful to show battles. Abysia has suffered a rather painful loss last turn, and even the C'tis juggernaut seems to have run into a bit of pain this turn. Midgard just lost some forces as well.
(Future Me: I only just noticed this, but see that Jomon - dark grey line - lost a bunch of units on turn 3. That was presumably their expansion army's first attack and explains why they're doing so painfully badly on provinces right now.)
The purpose of all of this is to figure out what tone I should take with Midgard. Diplomacy is a critical part of Dominions - as I'm writing this, several nations in the Pantokrator LP thread are dooming themselves by poor political decisions. Midgard seems to be about my equal, and rather high up. I don't think either of us really wants to get into a fight, especially this early when there's lots of tasty independent provinces left to gather up, and especially when there's lots of tasty wimpy nations to beat on. Let's be friends!
We send a carefully-crafted message. Politics: Serious Business.
(Future Me: Turns out Dom3 interpreted my Fraps screenshot button as "add a # to the end of the message". Deal with it.)
That's a lot more arrows than usual.
Our scout is moving west, as intended. The elephants are tromping towards Fort Site Beta. Once we're at Fort Site Beta, we're going to need to build . . . well, a fort . . . and for that, we'll need a spare commander so the elephants aren't stuck there for three turns. If my commander leaves now, he'll join the elephants for their cataclysmic battle against the militia defending Fort Site Beta, and then be ready to start building immediately.
We'll also need a laboratory there to build mages, and we may as well build a temple to boost our Dominion. I'll need a mage and a priest for that, and luckily my Sibyls are both mages and priests, so I dispatch one of them at the same time. (I pick one of my Water 1 Sibyls. I'm intending for my heavy Astral Sibyls to remain part of my garrison, and the Nature 2 Sibyls will be useful for hunting Nature sites once I have that researched. Plus, the Water 1 Sibyl will likely be a bit more useful in a fight.)
My southern expanders continue into a little tongue of land to the southeast, and my remaining new commander heads for the capital to pick up a new expansion party. I purchase another pair of commanders as well. Really should have done this earlier.
Then I set my Sibyls to carpetbomb my nation with Arcane Probing. I'm going to get literally zero research this turn, but that's OK - I'll hopefully increase my gem production.
(Future Me: So yeah, it's been pointed out that I never really talk about what Arcane Probing does. I should probably do that!
The critical resource in late-game Dominions, and an important one in mid-game Dominions, is magic gems. Magic gems can be used for a whole pile of powerful stuff that I'm going to talk about in the future, I'm just gonna skip over it now. Suffice to say that magic gems make explosions and explosions make us win.
The most common way you get magic gems is through magic sites. Depending on the site, you might get anywhere from one to four gems per turn. Magic sites have a "magic type" and a "level", between one and four. You can send a magician out to search for sites manually, and he'll find all the sites with a level equal to or less than his magic levels. That means you're burning two mage turns per province - one to move there, one to search. Alternatively, you can use one of the various remote site-searching spells, which will find all the magic sites of that type in a province - technically it's a level 9 search. One mage turn and two spells.
Arcane Probing is the Astral sitesearch spell, which costs 2 gems and will guaranteeably find all Astral sites in a province.)
My Castle is going to cost me 1000 gold to build, and my lab/temple are going to cost more. Ugh. I build a pile of Hoplites to save on cash. If Midgard does decide to attack, the Hoplites should be able to tear him to pieces.
On my final pass to make sure I've done everything, I check my new provinces for recruitables and oh fuck yes
A scout! I can build new scouts!
I do so immediately. I'm going to be buying so many scouts for a while.
Next: The Power of the Gods.