Meet new gods and kill them in Dominions 5

dominions5

Dominions 5: Warriors of the Faith launched last week and somehow it passed us by entirely. The last thing we want to do is upset the complicated 4X’s roster of angry, marauding deities, so I guess I’d better fill you in. Dominions pits players (and AI) against each other in a divine battle for the world. Each player is a pretender god with a nation and a race of ardent followers, all fighting over the position of top god.

Playing and understanding Dominions can feel a little like finally graduating from 4X college. You might have conquered Earth in Civilization and space in Stellaris, but ruling over the fantasy worlds of the Dominions series is just a little bit trickier. You can muddle your way through your first playthrough of other 4X games and still claim victory, but like its predecessors, Warriors of the Faith requires a few false starts before you really click with it.

Adam took the last game for a spin, and once he overcame the UI and the not-so-great AI, he got sucked in. Here’s his Dominions 4 review.

Despite the cumbersome interface and lacking AI, Dominions 4 is a remarkable toybox and even though I expect multiplayer to be the glue that makes everything hang together, I’m thoroughly engaged by the level of experimentation and exploration that the game systems allow. It’s almost like a more complex Cosmic Encounter, with a great deal of the excitement stemming from unusual and unexpected situations that place two bizarre rules in opposition to one another. It is an enormous game supported by intelligent systems, allowing for all manner of situations to emerge and to be handled as appropriate and possible.

Warriors of the Faith seems to be more reiteration with some tweaks than reinvention. The goals and moment-to-moment action are largely the same, but battles now include simultaneous movement for all units, and there are more ways to leave your mark on your chosen god by customising their bless effects — the magical bonuses that can be summoned through holy spells.

Since launching on Steam last Monday, Warriors of the Faith has received a few patches — one for each of its first four days — fixing crashes, bugs, tweaking stats and making the battlefields bigger for large armies. There haven’t been any since then, which is hopefully good news.

Dominions 5: Warriors of the Faith is out now on Steam for £27.89/$35.99/€33.29, until it reverts back to full price at the end of the day.

24 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    SavannaJeff says:

    I had to ask for a refund on this. Not enough of an upgrade on D4.

    • Evan_ says:

      I always felt the guys just slap a new number on the same game every so often, and they release it again.

      Couldn’t blame them and their game is awesome and unique, so I bought it all after trying D4. I’m gladly buying D5 too, and I hope they’ll keep working on it, and that they’ll never start a new project instead.

  2. Hanban says:

    If anyone’s looking to start playing but is scared of the complexity of the game, hop onto the RPS discord! We have a bunch of people on the server who will gladly help newcomers into the game!

    • Dominicus says:

      On discord just use the @dominions ping and you will find the regular players. We help everyone and organise multiplayer games, both pbem and direct connect blitz.

      Good luck :D

  3. Syt says:

    I bought D3 and D4, but completely bounced off them. I played D5 most of yesterday, and have been having a good time of it so far. Watching DasTactic’s Beginner’s Guide helped getting over the initial hump: link to youtube.com

    • Baines says:

      DasTactic also has a 3-part video covering the differences between Dominions 4 and Dominions 5, which could be useful for owners of Dominions 4 to decide if it is worth the upgrade.

  4. btonasse says:

    Best strategy game ever got even better. But to really unearth all its potential, you have to try multiplayer.

  5. Turin Turambar says:

    A summary of the new features:

    -Real time combat
    -Custom blesses (77 individual effects)
    -New and unique banishment and smite spells for every magic path.
    -History playback after game over.
    -Better random maps.
    -New recruitment system for commanders and normal units.
    -New build/upgrade forts system.
    -New, more granular movement system in strategic map.
    -Winter shown on map and affects movement
    -Dominion overlay.
    -New retreat rules (units can disperse after battle, good leaders prevent this).
    -Improvements in AI.
    -Better 3d performance, better looking terrain.
    -Three new nations (Uruk, Rus, Erythea).
    -Some old nations have been reworked and updated (Marverni, Sauromatia, Yomi, Abysia, Lemuria, Ur and others).
    -More spells, magic items, special abilities, events, monsters, titles, thrones, …

    -Improvements in UI.
    *Conservative casting is now saved with script and is shown in UI.
    *More info related to province defese, supplies, attack and defense siege scores, commander max squads and type shown.
    *Monthly casting and monthly forging are now options in the UI.
    *Nation description show more info like unit roster.
    *More info for items.
    *More info in Battle summary log.
    *More info conveyed in province connections.
    *Spell lists show gem cost and type (ritual or not).
    *Magic sites show up as icons in the map.
    *Events show thumbnail image of the location.
    *Much better army setup, with less micro.
    *New UI screen: Battle Overview.
    *Holding TAB in army setup will show hearts for afflicted units.
    *Multi turn order movement for armies (saved for the next turn)
    *Provinces flags are highlighted indicating where you can move to.

    -Updated battle system:
    *Repel weapon changed
    *Critical hits bypass less protection
    *Shields can be damaged
    *Units recover 1 fatigue/turn
    *2-hand weapons do more damage
    *Str contributes to bow damage
    *New orders: hold & fire and advance & cast.
    *Harassment penalty halved
    *Better cavalry
    *Flying needs one turn to move from one point to another
    *Formation fighter increase unit density
    *Pierce damage affects shields
    *New stun and new sleep effects

    -Changed mechanics:
    *Sieges are faster now, and need time to repair damage
    *Limp or cripple affects strategic movement
    *Fear effect is capped, so overlapping fear auras aren’t as strong
    *Stronger gem income on every age
    *Pillaging made more effective
    *Pretender gods get their own bless
    *New UW province types.

    -New setup game options:
    *Max turn limit/game mode on games (Cataclysm: Horrors attack!)
    *Selectable AI level for mp games.
    *Customizable global spell slots.
    *Customizable story event settings.
    *More customizable site frequency.
    *Random starting research option.

    While it can be called ‘more of the same’, as all Dominions are iterative sequels over the same core game, I think it’s enough new stuff to pay the price. Hell, if you are a veteran, just the UI improvements are good enough :P.

  6. Imperialist says:

    This might be me being a bit shallow, and i know looks arent everything…and ive played many Paradox games, which are basically thinly veiled spreadsheets…but this series looks cool, except the battle map visuals look so utterly wretched i cant really entertain the idea of spending $35 on it. I dont need anything grandiose…but it just looks…bleh.

  7. zulnam says:

    I want to pick this up, but the price is too much for someone who is not a fan of the series.

    The mechanics might be advanced but the presentation looks straight out of 2001.

    Problem is i don’t see this ever going on a poper sale. Don’t think i ever saw D4 go on more than 50% off and in today’s oversaturated market… meh.

    • Baines says:

      Dominions 4 has been on sale for more than 50% off multiple times through the years.

      A quick price history check shows it going to 66% off in during the previous two big Steam sales, and I want to think it went to 75% off once or twice. (It went to 80% off right before the release of Dominions 5.)

      It looks like Gamersgate also routinely put the title on sale, for slightly steeper discounts than Steam. That is probably why I remember it having such sales, as I’d wishlisted it there years ago before forgetting Gamersgate existed. So every now and then I’d get an email saying D4 had some really high discount, then I’d go back to forgetting Gamersgate existed.

      • Malkara says:

        It’s really interesting to see people complaining about the price- it’s a pretty niche game in a pretty niche market.

        For the longest time you literally could only buy Dominions 3 on disk, at the full price of ~$60. Was shocking when they finally added it to Steam!

        • TheOx129 says:

          If I remember correctly, they hopped on Steam and discounted their games to more reasonable prices shortly after their publishing agreement with Shrapnel ended, which happened sometime during the development of Dominions 4. Unlike a good number of niche developers, Illwinter seem to have embraced the sales tactics necessary in a post-Steam world. Then again, I imagine after being stuck with as abysmal a publisher as Shrapnel for so long, it probably felt downright liberating to actually have reasonable discounts and such.

  8. Dogshevik says:

    Two things are relevant to me.

    – Does multiplayer still require sending each other a bazillion of emails?
    – The neccessity to have a leader ferry units on the strat map and the huge lists of dozens of leaders made logistics quite tedious and difficult to keep track of. Any improvements here? (Like stellaris rally points, easier to read leader lists/ledgers etc)

    • Malkara says:

      Not sure what you mean by a bazillion emails. Server hosted games have been available since at least Dominions 3, and are fairly trivial to host.

      • codegourmet says:

        And since D2 when I programmed my own PBEM server for playing it with a buddy. Glad to hear they’ve fixed this issue!

        • Chromatism says:

          There’s a dedicated PBEM server called Llamaserver.net hosted (I believe) by the fellows on the Clockwork Hounds discord channel (Please correct me if I’m wrong about that!). Definitely worth hopping onto the discord to check it out too if you haven’t.

    • Darloth says:

      Slight improvements – there’s now multiple turn move.

      There’s no guarantee it’ll work since the movement cost of a province can change turn to turn based on snow and enemy action, but you can at least set up ferry routes with LESS turn on turn clicking. You still need some, though.

  9. RedViv says:

    [appreciative and loud CAW]

  10. Vacuity729 says:

    One of my regrets in games is that I’ve only played Dom4 for about 50-60 hours.
    And now the next one’s come out.
    Do I continue playing the old one at some unknown future date or just buy the new one and play that?
    Regarding some of the criticism people have for it:
    At release, Dom4 wasn’t much of an upgrade over Dom3, but Illwinter kept adding content, material, fixes and so on over the lifespan of the game (they put out three patches this year for a game released over four years ago), and the game is unquestionably a massive improvement over the previous iteration. Dom5 might not look like much of an upgrade over Dom4 at this moment, but it will be added to, and I trust that because Illwinter have a good track history of doing so.
    As to the looks, well, I can’t deny it’s a pretty ugly beast, but the complexity and depth is utterly unmatched. I really don’t know of any other game like it. Would it be nice if it looked better? Absolutely! But there is no better-looking game currently in existence doing anything like this.

    Anyway, looking at the prices other people are quoting, it seems the pricing in my region of the world is very reasonable indeed. I guess that seals the deal for me. Excuse me while I throw my credit card at my screen?

    *clunk*

    • gi_ty says:

      I’m glad you decided to take the plunge. I really liked 4, I played a campaign and was thoroughly impressed with the depth. I didn’t have much difficulty in getting the upper hand in the end though in single player. However the iteration that has been done on this game is great, so I try to buy every one that comes out in hopes that it will get better every time, and thus far it has. Basically if your a fan and can afford to get them do it! I hope to see a dominions 10 someday.

  11. Glentoran says:

    I love Dominions 4, but i won’t pay £30 for an updated copy. Too much i’m afraid. I’ve got no problems with mechanics over graphics (actually, i’m all for it as it goes), but Dominions’ use of sprites and the same 90s midi sound effects as always preclude it from being so highly priced.

    • TheOx129 says:

      The quality of life improvements and rather substantial mechanical changes (real-time battles, custom blesses, etc.), along with a desire to support Illwinter, made it a day one purchase for me. Everyone’s price point is going to be different, but I think Illwinter’s pricing is just right given the niche they’re working in. Then again, I still remember hemming and hawing and eventually biting the bullet and buying Dominions 3 for the $60 or whatever it was years ago (I might’ve used a 5% off coupon that Shrapnel honestly treated like some once-in-a-lifetime deal), so this seems downright cheap in comparison.

  12. cpl_kindel says:

    Hello Everyone:

    I love the dominions game series. I saw plenty of new content in Dom 5; the greatest addition being the addition of the huge bless effects options (before there were only 2 per scale, now there about a dozen ish per scale). I’ve been playing this game series since Dom 3 came out around 2007ish. I just created a gameplay playlist (actually only the first episode at this point) as Niefelheim on impossible vs 15 ai. The first episode is pretender creation & map generation (vs 15 ais set to impossible). I added a bunch of commentary & tips geared toward beginners; I hope you all will like it & take it easy!

    link to youtube.com

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