|Publisher: Shrapnel Games Genre: Strategy & War|
|Min OS X: 10.1 RAM: 256 MB Hard Disk: 500 MB|
Dominions is back in this third installment. Published by Shrapnel Games and developed by Illwinter Games it is a game of world conquest unrivaled in its use of strategy. Featuring around 50 different nations to choose from, each with its own distinct feel and tactics. Playing a ďpretenderĒ God you must fight and conquer all other pretenders and be the last one standing. There are no alliances to be made with these pretenders; you are the rightful heir and will show your might to these wannabes.
GameplayNow this is where the meat of this game resides, the gameplay. The nations are divided into three eras. The early era focuses more on magic, the late era is more into conventional warfare while the middle era is a mix of both. Each nation has many unique units at their disposal that can perform a variety of roles such as spying, healing, casting spells, forging items, researching etc. Many nations are inspired by a historical nation such as the Roman Empire, the Celts, the Japanese and so on. You start off the game by creating a pretender god, choosing from the form of the god to his magic power and how his land is set up. When you create you get a certain amount of points to spend on these different aspects of your god. The form basically governs his stats and his starting magic power, as well as any special abilities he might possess. Each form costs a certain amount of points, with the more powerful or useful forms costing more. The magic is divided into 8 schools, fire, air, water, earth, astral, death, nature and blood. Each school has 10 levels of power and when a path reaches level 9, a special blessing affects troops that are sacred to your nation. There is also holy magic, but your god canít use any, since to use it you must believe in a god, and well, your god canít worship himself and he doesnít believe in another god. Only priests and your prophet can use holy magic. Each mage in your nation is proficient in 1 or more paths, you can take these paths to augment your nation's natural powers, or take different paths to add variety to your god. After that you must choose what your land is like. Is it magically powerful or is magic just too hard for your citizens to master? Is your nation lucky or do they get stopped by bandits everywhere they go? These are some of the decisions you must take, taking bad events will give you more points to work with. Lastly, there is your god's awakening. If you choose to have your god sleep or be imprisoned at the beginning you will get more points to use in your other choices.
Once all that is over you get to start your conquest! One thing to note is that you do not control your units directly in combat, instead you give them orders beforehand and they will do their best to comply. This gives a more strategic feel to combat as in real life; you canít give orders to every soldier while in battle. The turns themselves are pretty straightforward, you give all your orders and see the results during the next turn; if you recruited troops or forged items, they will appear next turn also. Spells require research, mages that you assign to research duty will contribute points to any of the 7 fields of study. These are conjuration, alteration, evocation, construction, enchantment, thaumaturgy and blood. Spells also require magic gems that you get from magic sites. These sites are found by searching for them using your mages, only mages proficient in fire can find fire sites and so on. The sites can also give bonus to your spellcasting ability or even let you recruit new types of units as well as give you gems. The only magic path that is different is blood magic, you must search for blood slaves in your provinces, but this causes unrest, as people donít like that you steal their daughters for your rituals. Spells may seem complicated to get and use, but they are invaluable in your road to conquest as you can do many things with them such as incinerate your foes, summon allies and even send assassins to kill the enemy. Also, nations usually have national spells that fit the theme of the nation and are not available to any other nation. With over 600 spells to cast, 1500 units to command and over 300 magical items to use as you see fit, you will never play the same game twice. I keep saying Iíll stop, but hours later Iím still trying to squeeze another turn in.