Part 8: Turn 8: Things Start To Get Crowded
The fun thing about messaging in Dom3 is that, since it's turn-based, your first-contact messages tend to cross each other. Midgard, at this moment, is reading my message. I don't bother replying to this one - it seems like we're on the same page.
Imagine this five times in a row. Sometimes there just aren't any magic sites around. That's kind of a problem - we just burned a pile of gems on this and I was really hoping for some tasty magic sites. Still, we're not done looking over the nation, so maybe we'll get luckier soon.
Battles: You know how things go by now.
Now that? That's C'tis. And that is worrying.
We've been over the score graphs last turn. C'tis has been leading for the entire game. He's a bit dangerous. I check again.
And now there's a three-way tie, including me, C'tis, and Abysia.
I really want my planned Fort Site Beta. The fort site isn't entirely the point - I also want farmland. But I really, really want that farmland, or I'm going to be in trouble economically.
On top of that, see off west of Fort Site Beta? More enemy dominion, from a fourth nation I haven't yet met. Luckily, it's Cold, which means it's not Abysia. (New terms! We'll go over these soon.)
I mentioned that C'tis's dominion spreads disease. It turns out I was wrong - only Middle Age C'tis does that, and we're in Late Age. Hooray! I redirect my prophet-scout into their territory. I want to keep a close eye on them.
I send a carefully-worded message off to C'tis. I then forget to take a screenshot of it. Awesome. Dominions 3's messaging system could charitably be described as "awful", as there's no way to see what you've sent, cancel "sent" messages, or check your message history. Luckily, I'm a geek, and pull the message out of my computer's RAM.
Greetings from Mrs. Butterworth, commander of the forces of Arcoscephale! We bring tidings of joy and delicious, delicious brownies!
We've just sighted you off to the northwest of our position and we feel it is worth warning you that we intend to capture Jome, Province 60, as well as all adjacent provinces. It is an important defensive position for our territory. The other side of the lake is empty, however - perhaps you could concentrate your forces there instead?
We look forward to a long, friendly relationship.
It's a bit intentionally misleading. Yes, the exact other side of the lake is empty, but if he keeps going that way he'll run straight into Midgard. I don't exactly object to this - I'd love for them to get into a war with each other. It's not entirely misleading, though, since there's still a lot of space past Midgard. Ah, politics.
Let's Learn About The Game: Pretender Gods and Scales
Remember way back in Turn 1 when I talked about how everyone started with a long description of setup? Let's go over that now! It might be important.
Every civilization has a Pretender God attached to it. Pretender Gods can manifest in many ways, and the first decision is the manifestation you want. You'll notice a lot of variety - on the top-left are a few immobile statues, on the bottom are a bunch of human magicians. Most of the Titans in the middle have powerful focused magic and special bonus powers, while some Pretender Gods - the Wyrm at the top-middle, for example - don't have any magic at all.
There are several major strategies for picking a Pretender God. So-called Supercombatants are gods that can realistically take on an entire army at once. C'tis almost certainly has one of these. I've mentioned the Bless strategy before - Bless gods are those with powerful focused magic, translating into major troop bonuses. And then there's the path I've taken, the Rainbow Mage.
Here's Mrs. Butterworth, or rather, the template Mrs. Butterworth is based on. It's an extremely cheap pretender chassis that is ridiculously frail in combat - a single badly-aimed arrow could, and probably would, instantly slay her. The important part is the New Magic Paths Cost listed at the bottom. This ranges from 10 to 50, and maybe higher.
(Future Me: It's been pointed out that, as a Pretender God named Mrs. Butterworth, I absolutely should have taken the Statue form. Damn! A perfect opportunity lost.)
Cheap magic paths means a lot of magic paths.
Mrs. Butterworth is diversified into several paths that I think I'll need. Most of these I might get from my actual mages, but this way I have a guarantee of them, as well as a single character with all of them put together. Mrs. Butterworth's main job, for quite some time, is going to be forging magical boosters to make my mages stronger. With a little gear, she can forge essentially anything I may want, and she can forge that "little gear" as well.
And here's my Dominion.
I've mentioned how some races have bonuses within Dominion, but aside from that, all races have general, similar Dominion bonuses and penalties. Every scale except Heat/Cold has a "good" side and a "bad" side, and you get points for taking penalties while spending them on taking bonuses.
Dominion Strength is a simple metric of how fast your dominion expands and how strong it can get. 7 isn't high, but it isn't too low either - anything below 6 is considered a bad idea in Multiplayer. I would have loved to pick up more, but it gets expensive at high levels, especially with a Pretender chassis that doesn't have a Dominion bonus.
Order/Turmoil governs your income and your chance of random events. I've got it maxed out because I obviously need lots of money for my elephant hordes.
Productivity/Sloth governs your resources, and to a much lesser extent, your income. I took a point in Productivity to get more forces, but more points in it would probably be wasted as I would simply not have the money to purchase them.
Heat/Cold is the only purely negative scale. Each race has a preferred heat amount, generally 0. Each step away from that preferred heat value is a 5% income penalty and a 10% supply penalty. Conveniently for some races, each step away from the midpoint gives bonus points. Abysia, who prefers Heat 3, just gets an automatic 120 build points out of this - there's no reason they would ever take anything besides Heat 3, so they just get free points.
I value my income, so I didn't take any penalties in this.
Midgard prefers Cold 1, and C'tis prefers Heat 2. That's why I know the person off to the west is a fourth party - if it were a C'tis candle, it wouldn't be Cold in that province.
Growth/Death gives a huge supply bonus, a small income bonus, and lets your population slowly replenish. I don't expect to have large armies full of weak units, all of my units are pretty pricey, and therefore I don't need the supply bonus. The income penalty hurts a bit, and the population will hurt long-term, but long-term I'm hoping to be relying more on gems and less on gold.
Luck/Misfortune changes the frequency of good and bad events. Both directions increase the frequency of events, but change the likely value of that event. Turmoil 3/Luck 3 is a hilarious combination - your units will literally trip over free magic weapons and gems at every step.
With Order 3 it's somewhat traditional to pick up Misfortune 1, since the vastly reduced chance of random events makes Misfortune a bit less painful. I actually had trouble finding a place to spend those 40 points so I just kept it level. Misfortune 3 is widely considered a very bad idea, as it's almost guaranteeing that you'll need to keep a small standing army in your nation to deal with the constant bandit and barbarian attacks you'll be weathering.
(Future Me: To say nothing of the awful, awful random events that get unlocked with Misfortune 3. There's a few spots in Dominions where an option is flat-out never a good strategy, and from what I know, Misfortune 3 is one of those.)
Magic/Drain controls how magical your country is. Spells are more powerful in a realm of Magic, mages find things easier to do, and research is easier. Conversely, Drain makes Research harder and spells more difficult and less effective.
Magic 1 is a common pick, as it gives you an extra RP for each researcher you have. In order to get two RP you need Magic 3, which you don't see very often.
Finally, you've noticed by now that Mrs. Butterworth is not with us. Not all gods start Awake. I didn't have a lot of use for Mrs. Butterworth this early in the game, so I set her Dormant, getting 150 points for other uses. She'll wake up around turn 12 or so. Imprisoned, she'd wake up near turn 36.
(Future Me: I've learned since that Dormant is a very rare choice. Most of the time people pick Awake pretenders to help with research or Imprisoned pretenders when they need the points for a Bless. I'll defend my choice here, though: Arco's elephants give them a reasonable amount of early-game strength which doesn't need to be supplemented by low-level spellcasting. Imprisoned gives you a mere 60% more points, at the penalty of a Pretender god that takes three times as long, and if you want to lean on your god's abilities at all during the game Imprisoned is just bad mojo.)
Back to the game.
My research has been absolutely destroyed by the arcane probing I'm doing. It'll catch back up (with luck, along with a pile of gems), but for now it's crawling.
I spend some time considering LA C'tis. Eventually I conclude that C'tis should probably be more afraid of me than I am of it. I'm used to seeing MA C'tis, and LA C'tis seems to work very differently.
LA C'tis is based around moderately cheap infantry, poison, and undead. My elephants will pretty much flatten the cheap infantry at an amazing rate. Poison will be a problem, for a while, but if I can get to Enchantment 4 my nature mages can cast good anti-poison spells. And Undead generally take the form of a lot of cheap small units. First, elephants. Second, the common counter to Undead are lots of Priests, and guess what? Every single mage I've recruited so far is a Priest!
MA C'tis is based around very cheap infantry, as well as the previously-mentioned Disease. Elephants actually don't work well against enormous swarms - each of their Trample attacks ends up not covering as much value. But they're nearly ideal against the mid-level units LA C'tis can field.
The only other problem is Fluffy Bunnies.
Dominions is serious business, and, obviously, everyone has named their pretender in a manner designed to strike fear into the hearts of their competitors. C'tis's war pretender is named Fluffy Bunnies. I'm scared. Are you scared?
Fluffy Bunnies is most likely a powerful combat pretender, possibly with Flying, and almost certainly with a hefty Fear or Awe aura. That is kind of a problem. However, there are counters to this. The main counter I plan to use are Fatigue and Paralyze spells. Once Fluffy Bunnies is paralyzed and asleep, my units can beat on it quite effectively. Conveniently, these are Nature and Astral, and they're both down Thaumaturgy, which was my chosen direction already. Fluffy Bunnies is going to pretty much obliterate me if it attacks right now, but given some research time, I can make things go very badly for him later on.
So I'm not actually all that worried about C'tis at this point. He's doing well, but then again I'm doing well also, and similar with Midgard, I don't think he'll want to jump me.
My original expansion party, down in the southeast, is almost out of Peltasts. He's also going to take a turn or two to escape from that little cul-de-sac so I start moving him out.
I'll have two commanders bumming around in my capital soon. I'm okay with this number, so I don't build more. It wouldn't be a lot of upkeep, but it's some, and no use in wasting money.
My new attack squad heads out to pick up the last adjacent province to my capital, and my main attack squad heads for Fort Site Beta. There's a little miscalculation here - it appears that my Sibyl can't join for the battle. I was hoping to show off some combat spells. No worries, I'll just start the fort with the elephant commander and finish it off once the other units show up.
(Future Me: After dealing with movement orders more, I've realized that if you want to move into an enemy territory, you must move from an adjacent province. No exceptions. The problem with this is that if you have a rampaging army, and you want to reinforce it, you have to stop it for a turn so it can let stuff catch up.
With that in mind, I just realized I made a minor mistake with the Sibyl's orders this turn. Besides the fact that she should have left Arco one turn later, giving me one extra Arcane Probing, can you see what it is?)
My scout heads deep into C'tis territory. My next scout will be the one going West. I also buy another scout. You can just assume I'll be buying perpetual scouts from now on.
Production is another bunch of Hoplites. I need the gold - we're about to spend a thousand of it on a fort.
We leave four Sibyls with Arcane Probing and two Researching. We'll bring that up to five Researching next turn as we run out of provinces to probe. Cross your fingers for me.
Next: We run out of things to learn about.