The Let's Play Archive

Dominions 3

by ZorbaTHut

Part 88: Unit Retrospective

Unit Retrospective

Seventy turns later I have different opinions on a lot of my units. Let's go down the list. I'll include my old opinions in quotes for comparison purposes so you can laugh at my stupidity bask in the glow of my renewed brilliance.


Here's your basic Slinger unit. These guys? Crap. I will not build any ever. They actually have significantly longer range than my Peltasts, but they have worse everything else. For comparison's sake, 10 is considered "average" in most stats. Slingers are strongly below average in everything. They have less morale than my goddamn elephant does, and elephants are known for routing at unfortunate moments.

Admittedly, Slingers won't trample my army in the process either, but I rarely buy units based on their inability to do damage.

"will not build any ever"

What I wasn't realizing is that the Slingers have two great properties. First, they're units. Second, they're cheap. If you need a shitload of cheap units - like, say, for castle sieging - they're actually pretty damn handy!

My combat analysis was, I feel, quite correct. They just shouldn't be going into combat, and if they are, you shouldn't expect them to do anything useful. But if you really need a bunch of wimpy dudes to help you tear down walls? Slingers are awesome.


Here's my faithful Peltast. Now these guys are a bit better, and if it wasn't for their abysmal range, I'd quite like them. In order to see "range", you have to look at their weapon stats:

and for comparison, my Slingers have range 20 and the Crossbowmen/Archers are range 30. There's little else notable for Peltasts, aside from being a somewhat durable technically-ranged unit that can slog it out in hand-to-hand if absolutely necessary.

Peltasts have one quality that makes them even better than Slingers: they've got Move 2. At the end of the game my army was all Hoplites, so that wasn't terribly useful, but if I'd gone with a slightly different strategy - and I'll talk about that later - this may have been greatly useful.

Even if my army's moving around slowly, a squad of Move 2 Peltasts has other advantages. I was having mobility issues getting my Slingers out of the way safely, but Peltasts would have no such problems. Peltasts also aren't that much more expensive. The real downside to Peltasts is the resource cost - I can pretty much spend an entire turn's worth of money in one fort with Slingers, but Peltasts require that I break up my production among multiple forts.

In this game, I almost always bought slingers as a "holy shit I needed these two turns ago" panic move. If I'd thought ahead a little better, Peltasts might have been a better choice.


Moving up the ranks, we've got the relatively sturdy Phalangite. Notice the huge increase in Protection. Protection is a strict subtraction from all incoming damage, and these guys are armored enough that many attacks will simply fail to hurt them. Couple that with a reasonable Defence and they end up rather sturdy. But I'm not going to be using them either. You'll see why in a minute.

Long after finishing the game, I realized I was missing a golden opportunity with these guys.

Literally! Ho ho ho.

Remember the spell "Army of Gold"? It's a huge Protection bonus. Protection in this game doesn't really stack as you might expect, it's got diminishing returns from multiple sources. A Phalangite with Army of Gold would end up with nearly the same Protection that the Hoplite would.

And compare their other stats: the Phalangite costs fewer resources, has lower encumberance, has higher defence skill, and has higher map move. With an army made out of these guys, Mystics, Priestesses, and Peltasts, I could have had mapmove-2 war communions stomping around. And they probably would have been stronger!

If I could go back and replay the last twenty turns or so, I would have dumped Hoplite production entirely and gone with Phalangites. Completely missed opportunity.


Arco's Hoplites are nearly walking tanks. They just don't take damage. Later on in the game we'll be dealing with forces that can easily paste these guys, but this early in the game, Hoplites are extremely heavy infantry. Coupled with this is a painful resource cost - 30 resources each, and at this point in the game I'm up to 148. But I'm going to be making limited use of them, at least early on, thanks to that extreme resource cost, relatively low damage output, and unfortunately slow speed. See that "Move 1 / 6"? That's Map Move/Battle Move. These guys only move one map square per turn, and when the majority of my other units are 2 map squares or better, keeping Hoplites around will slow my army down a lot. Right now, when I don't know where my enemies are, I need to stay mobile.

I have no argument with this summary at all.


Now these are interesting units, and these guys you will see. Still reasonably heavy, and a much better (though not particularly notable) Defence skill. The real strength of these guys is their high Morale. 14 is fantastic for cheap recruitable units. Morale is what keeps forces from routing in battle, and it's squad-wide - mix a few of these units in with a lower-morale unit, and they'll effectively bolster the entire squad's spirits.

What low-morale unit might I have around?

Nor with this one. If anything, I think I didn't have enough of these guys hanging around early on.

Note that even after a Hoplite->Phalangite transition, tossing a pile of Hypaspists in could have been extremely useful for morale purposes. They're a little more expensive than Phalangites but not all that much, and their stats otherwise match up well - the only reason not to use these guys exclusively instead of Phalangites is the higher gold and resource cost.


Hey, yeah! Elephants! One big weakness of elephants is their low morale, but with Hypaspists backing them up, the elephants will stay in the fight far longer. You already know about the Elephant trample attack - with a few elephants and hypaspists hanging around, I'll be able to take on most independent provinces without any issue.

The key here: "independent provinces". They're just not all that good against players, or at least, not how I was using them. Additionally, I was underestimating them early on. Two elephants and a dozen Hypaspists will take down almost any independent province with almost no casualties.

Recruit elephants, expand fast, ignore elephants. That's what I'd do today.


Backing up a notch, the Agema Companion is a unit that I'm not quite sure I know how to use properly. It's an expensive unit with a huge, huge movement and a lance. Lances are a bit special - you get a large damage bonus on the first attack, but not after that. If I have a situation where I need to soften up a front line I might get these guys, but they'll probably die shortly after and I'm just not excited by that. I'm probably underestimating them, however.

I still have no idea how to use these guys.


And then there's these guys, the giant apes of Bandar who are helping me out. Moderately heavy units who hit really fucking hard - their base damage is 19, which will punch through even a Hoplite's armor. They're not as durable as Hoplites or even Hypaspists, but they make for reasonable damage-dealing troops, and they're one of the few troops I have that takes more gold than resources. I've been recruiting these guys as I can fit them into my elephant/hypaspist queue, and you'll see them in action soon.

(Future Me: One downside to the Cerulean Warriors that I hadn't noticed is that they're Size 3, which means only 2 of them can fit into a square. (Maximum of six "size" in a square at a time.) This is a downside for melee units, since you want as many attacks as you can get. On the other hand: 19 base damage. It's a reasonable tradeoff.)

I was never sure if these guys were good or not. Punching through heavy armor, like Ulm heavy troops: great. Anything else: maybe not so great. Once I'm leaning on communions they're kind of crummy because they're too expensive for the amount of mage shielding they provide, and before I'm leaning on communions they're kind of crummy because they are neither hypaspists nor elephants. They're not bad units, they just seem like they're not good units either, and I'm having a hell of a hard time imagining their niche.


And finally, there's Heart.

If you look at their stats, they're nigh-identical to Hoplites. Slightly better defence, a little faster, and a whole hell of a lot more expensive. Their sole saving grace is that they're Sacred units, which means they can be Blessed to gain a bunch of large bonuses. This is fantastic if you've picked a pretender with ultra-high magic paths to gain huge Bless bonuses. However, Arco doesn't really have the sacred unit diversity to pull this off - I'd be stuck with a single kind of unit, those high magic paths are expensive, and it's just not worth spending the points on it. I will never recruit these units.

I still don't know what the point of these guys is. Is there some wacky Arco Bless strategy?

If you dig into the datafiles, it turns out these guys are marked as Seduction Immune. That is because they are literally gay. It's details like this that somewhat redeem Dom3 from the horrible hell that all the other details consign it to.


The Scout is a commander that every nation has in one form or another. Some nations have upgraded versions, like the Forester that got prophetized much earlier. Arco has the basic version. Scouts have the "Stealthy" attribute, which lets them move through enemy territory mostly undetected. They're also worthless in a fight - they will die to almost anything. While they're cheap, they're also valuable, and I'm really hurting from my low scoutage.

Haha, we sure fixed that didn't we!

Scouts are really really really really damn important. You should be recruiting a lot of them. That's all I have to say about that.


These guys may look familiar. They're commanderized versions of my basic troops, with slightly improved stats and the ability to lead units. I'm not quite sure why they exist, and I'm not going to be using any of them. They don't excel in anything, they're not particularly sturdy, and the Agema Commander is way too fast - any commander that fast is almost invariably going to rush up to the front lines and get himself killed. Not ideal.

I think I recruit a few of these guys when I can't recruit a mage or afford a Strategos. In the late game you can afford Strategoses, and in the truly early game your fort time is entirely taken up with mages.

This is a real problem with Dom3. Mages are ultra-powerful, and you basically want to recruit a mage whenever you can. Recruiting something that's not a mage, in a place where you could be recruiting a mage? That is probably a mistake! Don't do that.

So units like this, which are competent but not particularly noteworthy, end up ignored because they're not mages.

The Agema Commander is the exception - people have pointed out that he might make for a nice light early thug. I haven't tried that, but I'd like to see someone do so. It might be quite effective.


This, however, is more like it. The sturdiness of a Hoplite, a truly ridiculous amount of leadership, and a Standard. The Standard increases morale in a range nearby, making your units less likely to flee or rout. That's something I can get behind. I'd love to recruit these guys. I honestly would.

A similar problem, except Strategoses are actually good. You don't need many of them (which means they're not eating up your valuable mage recruit time as badly) and that battle standard is nice to avoid routing. You still feel bad for not recruiting a mage, but you get over it.


But we've got mages to worry about.

Mages get an extra little line of attributes showing their magic paths. This Priestess has 1 nature magic and 2 holy magic. The book indicates their research potential - 3 is pretty crummy. These mages are almost strictly inferior to my Sibyls, with one crucial difference: these units have the Healer 100 attribute. (That's the third icon on the second row, right after the chicken leg.)

This is actually one of Arco's big strengths. The Healer attribute is ridiculously rare in the game, and Healer 100 is even rarer. Looking through the DB tells me that there are 19 units, out of over 2000, with any sort of Healer ability. Only five of those have Healer 100. Those five include three high-level summons, a Pretender chassis, and my Priestesses.

So, what's the point? Well, Healer lets you heal afflictions, at a chance based on their Healer skill. Units can pick up afflictions in a variety of ways, with combat being the most common and, for me, the least interesting. If I should happen to do something to cause, say, lots of my mages to be afflicted, Priestesses will save me rapidly. We'll come back to this . . . much later.

Holy shit did I screw up with Priestesses early on.

I'm just going to say this here: if you are Arco, your combat groups must have a Priestess. If you are sieging a castle, you must have a Priestess there healing. Just do it. Trust me. A single priestess may have fixed that first near-catastrophic loss against Agartha. Priestesses are one of your major strengths, don't neglect them!


Mystics are my second mage type, and these guys are a bit of a wildcard.

No, strike that, they're a lot of a wildcard.

Mystics are my first key to magic diversification. I've got a 1/8th chance each of getting a mystic with Fire 2, Water 2, or Earth 2. I'm going to be recruiting slews of these guys in Fort Site Beta and picking out the important ones. They're not bad researchers, but they're also not Sacred. Sacred, in this case, is wholly an economic problem. All units charge upkeep every month. Usually that's 1/15th of the unit cost, but Sacred units only cost half that.

Obviously, these guys are pretty sweet for communions. Everything I said about diversification is true, and I'm arguing none of that, buuuut . . .


Sibyls are not only better researchers, they're also sacred.

Overall, I've got a 1/4 chance of Nature 2 with these units, a 1/4 chance of Astral 3, and a rather painful 1/160 chance each of Astral 4, Nature 3, Death 2, or Water 2. At this point I've gotten two Astral 3 sibyls, two Nature 2 sibyls, and a single Water 1 sibyl.

They've also got the Fortune Teller 15 ability, which reduces the chance of bad events in whatever province they're stationed in. A nice bonus.

Note that none of my casters have a large Leadership. That's why I need other commanders - my casters just can't carry significant armies around. Also note that both my Mystics and Sibyls are guaranteed Astral. This, as well, will be important later.

. . . I'm looking at Sibyls and thinking "aha, cheap research!"

No! Bad Zorba! Sibyls are actually pretty damn nice as combat mages. The Astral/Death combo is quite strong, and a little Nature sprinkled around the army is strong as well. I should have had a lot more of these dropped throughout my armies and made up the research with Mystics. The money is worth it - your capital-only mages are probably strong enough to be used, not hoarded for research.