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Let's Read Giant Wusses: A Dominions 5 tourney LP

Discussion in 'Codex Playground' started by sqeecoo, Jan 14, 2020.

  1. sqeecoo Arcane

    sqeecoo
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    [​IMG]

    Introduction

    Hello there Codex bros. I’ve joined a Dominions 5 mini-tournament hosted by our friend Lucid, the first Dominions 5 tourney I’ve heard of. Since I’m the only Codex representative in the tourney as far as I’m aware, I feel it is my duty to bring the game to my bros in the form of a LP. I don’t guarantee regularity of updates or quality, but I’ll do my best as laziness allows.

    Table of contents:
    Introduction
    Pretender design
    Turn 1: A Cold Welcome
    Turn 2: A Small Step for a Giant
    Turn 3: Using Lances as Toothpicks
    Turn 4: Konnichiwa

    The tourney is nothing huge, there’s basically six 8-player games played in parallel with the winners of those and the “second place” players (those with the most thrones after the winner) advancing to a 12-player game final. Here’s Lucid’s tournament announcement video if you want to listen to this explained in excruciating detail:



    I’m kinda assuming that people reading this know at least a bit about the game, and trying to explain it from scratch would be a herculean task I’m definitely too lazy for. If you want a LP that explains more of the basics you need go no further than this amazing LP that got me into Dominions in the first place, by our own grumpy Grimwulf:

    https://rpgcodex.net/forums/index.php?threads/lets-see-the-world-die-dominions-4.95509/

    But I will answer any questions you may have though and try to adjust the level of info based on any questions I get.

    The game has already started and is on about turn 30, so I can freely share details from my early turns even in a widely read prestigious gaming magazine like the Codex. However, that unfortunately also means that I won’t really be able to have you guys vote on our decisions since they’ve already been made.
    But we have some Dominions veterans here who are way better than me so hopefully they will offer insightful criticism (“everything you are doing is wrong”) of my decision-making. As to why the game is titled Giant Wusses, well, you’ll just have to wait and see

    Our game will be taking place on this map:

    [​IMG]

    The starting locations will remain fixed but where nations start will be randomized. There is about 15 provinces per player which is not that little, but the capitols are pretty close together, i.e. always 3 provinces apart – you can easily bump into someone’s expansion party on turn 3. Rushes are therefore a definite possibility, although the game doesn’t necessarily have to end super quickly overall.

    There are eight thrones on the map and conquering 5 wins you the game, so holding two thrones guarantees you will advance to the finals. I don’t love this two-players-advance system as it encourages passivity and not ganging up on someone with an early lead but rather fighting over second place instead, as well as worst of all encouraging pre-game alliances. We won’t be doing those! I don’t mind doing pre-game diplomacy, but here you can basically pair up with someone without any need to ever betray each other, which I don’t think is in the spirit of a FFA game.
    But Dominions is a game of rolling with the punches and adapting, so that’s what we’ll do.

    The nations playing are Tir na nOg (sneaky Irish elves), Fomoria (cursed Irish sea giants), Yomi (Japanese demons), Hinnom (Jewish cannibal giants), Abysia (lava persons from a volcano), Atlantis (aquatic Lovecraftian fishmen), Tien Chi (early Chinese empire), and our own Nifelheim (Nordic frost giants).

    I’ll spend the rest of this update talking a bit about the nation of Nifelheim that we will be playing.


    Nifelheim is a nation of frost giants who want to plunge the world into eternal winter.
    They can actually do it with the help of their unique national spell, Illwinter (also the name of the company that developed Dominions):

    Show Spoiler
    [​IMG]


    Casting this will severely piss off any other nation that doesn’t like their lands to be maximally cold, so casting it is a pretty big fuck you to the world – but not as big as some of the other horrible global enchantments that can be cast.

    Troopwise, Nifelheim has a wide variety of giant troops and no human troops. The giant troops are good at first glance, with good armor, decent stats, and more than three times the HP of human troops. There are a few varieties with fairly minor differences, but here’s an example of one of the better ones:

    Show Spoiler
    [​IMG]


    As giants they come one per square due to being size 4 and thus face off against three normal size 2 humans in an opposing square in battle. This results in them taking defense penalties from getting multiple attacks, which results in them taking hits. However, they have enough HP to take hits from normal humans whereas their powerful swings will kill humans outright. So the giant troops are excellent against normal human infantry, and initial expansion against independents will see them perform very impressively. However, once you try fighting human players the regular giants will perform horribly, as a human player will use troops with either enough strength to punch through the armor of the giants and kill them in enough hits, or high defense units that the giants will be unable to hit effectively (or some other type of counter). Basically, while seeming pretty great initially, all of these giants fare pretty terribly against even mildly incompetent players and play the role of expensive meat shields at best. We will only recruit these guys in total desperation.

    Next we have the sacred, capitol-only unit (i.e. recruitable only in the capitol).

    Show Spoiler
    [​IMG]


    This is the signature unit for Nifelheim and the reason for many major bless strategies over the course of the existence of the game, as well as (I think) the single most expensive unit in the whole game. These giants have good armor, massive HP and damage, and are constantly surrounded by icy winds that freeze other troops to death. Add in a simple regeneration bless and they are simply unkillable to normal troops. However they are still vulnerable to specialist giant killers – hordes of cheap dudes with big mauls or such; they have vulnerability to fire with is a big problem if you face the fairly common fire maigc; and if the enemy is cold resistant their singular attack simply doesn’t kill things very fast, even if it does one-shot humans.
    They also have Ice power and cold protection which means that they gain stats and protection in cold, but they lose them by the same amount in heat, so they become much weaker if you go into warmer (enemy) lands. Combine this with their prohibitive price and they are, in my opinion, somewhat of a trap.
    They are good in defensive battles and can definitely help you fend off an early rush if you're fighting in your own cold lands, and adding in a few to your armies to provide cold aura is great if you’re not fighting in heat (which reduces the effectiveness of the cold aura), but otherwise they won’t see all that much use. They are also famous enough in the minds of players that they will always consider them a threat even if we don’t actually build them, and since their resource cost is pretty low we can happily pump out a few quite quickly if we want to actually use them to counter something we notice is vulnerable. But overall, we mostly won’t be using these guys.

    That brings us to the other capitol-only unit, the Skinshifter.

    Show Spoiler
    [​IMG]


    (I'm using a different unit database for this screenshot since the game won't readily show you the second form ingame, where the previous screenshots were taken).

    Now these guys are great! They are not scared, but they are much cheaper than the Nifel giants, have good stats, and most importantly have a powerful second form. Not only is the second form a cool and strong werewolf with two attacks, having a second form means that they have over 80 HP total (more than a Nifel giant!) and that their interaction with many spells is improved – for instance, luck (75% chance to resist killing blow) will work on them twice, once for each form. They also have natural regeneration in both forms, which makes them extremely durable and (to a point) eliminates the issues with giant troops described above. They can’t really kill their gold value in human infantry; 6-7 of these guys will kill likely kill a single one of them:

    Show Spoiler
    [​IMG]


    (this is extremely basic human infantry)

    But in a battle line when they face only about 3 humans at a time they can hold up just fine against a square of troops that are normally a problem to giants, i.e. the guys with big mauls or high defense, just by way of the Skinshifter's natural regeneration and massive HP from the two forms, that allows them to outlast the human fighters.
    Skinshifters are resource cheap and will be our mainstay during the early game, i.e. what we’ll use to expand and to fight early offensive wars. If we are forced on the defensive and fighting in our cold dominion we’ll certainly make a few Nifel Giants, but these guys will be our main troops up to the midgame. In the midgame they will still participate in providing a battle line in our armies, but we will be primarily relying on mages by that point.

    So let’s look at the mages!
    Well, first the boring commander dudes:

    [​IMG]

    From left to right: a mediocre leader and fighter that’s holy.

    A good leader and decent fighter with H1 (holy 1) magic that can bless others and himself.

    And a mediocre leader and fighter with H2 who can cast sermon of courage on others in addition to blessing.

    They have stats similar to the Jotun Huskarl troop above (a bit better), and we'll need a few to lead troops and cast Blessing.
    All of these can be used as thugs in a pinch, but we have better choices. Still, slap some gear you have laying around on them and they can easily retake a province from raiders, say, as long as there’s not too much PD.

    To quickly clarify for people unfamiliar with the game: a "thug" in Dominions is a commander with additional forged gear and/or spells buffs that is made extra strong in this way to fulfill a specific role, usually raiding enemy provinces (i.e. cost-efficiently fighting against province defense), countering enemy thugs, or simply doing damage as part of a bigger army.
    A "Super Combatant" or SC on the other hand is a massively strong single commander with a bunch of extra gear and spells who can kill whole (unprepared) armies on their own.

    Moving on, we have the scouts of Nifel who deserve mention:

    Show Spoiler
    [​IMG]


    Unlike most scouts who are horribly weak and simply stealthy, well, scouts, these dudes are giants with decent stats and stealth, and holy to boot. Give them a Black Heart blood item and they can be pretty good assassins, especially now that you can bless them with the flask of holy water as well (instead of only with a shroud, using precious astral gems).

    Then we have the Gyga.

    Show Spoiler
    [​IMG]


    This is an amazing mage, adept at all sorcery paths. These gals let you cast all kinds of horrible spells in combat, are excellent in communion, and are pretty strong themselves and won’t die to stray arrows like human mages. They are kinda on the expensive side, but totally worth the price. This will be our main caster mage, and in addition to forging and sitesearching duties they will generally go into communion and spam skeletons and the various strong battlefield stuff from the sorcery paths.

    Then there’s the other signature Nifelheim unit, the Nifel Jarl.

    Show Spoiler
    [​IMG]


    Now this guy is brutal, and quite possible the best recruitable SC in the game (maybe not any more now that LA Phlegra has been introduced). He has everything a SC needs and excellent paths for the job, including enough death to cast Soul Vortex, a spell that drains life from everything around him. He’s also our only potential source of air magic.

    Unfortunately, he shares all the weaknesses of the Nifel Giants: weakness to fire and low killing power (only one attack) if his cold aura is neutered by cold resist or heat scale. He can of course offset that with items with FR (fire resist) and AoE damage. However, he’s still massively expensive and notably weaker in heat scales due to ice power reducing his stats based on the heat level of the province.
    While he has a role to play, I’ll mostly be using the final mage available to Nifelheim for thugging, the wonderful Skratti:

    Show Spoiler
    [​IMG]


    Now these guys are amazing. Decent water/blood mages in normal form, their strongest feature is that they can transform to giant werewolves that lose one in all magic paths but still retain at least Water 1 and Blood 1 (second image). The werewolves have great stats, an additional bite attack, and natural regeneration.

    As thugs they need way way less gear to be effective than the Nifel Jarl above while being much cheaper. If you give them a bunch of good gear they can still beat unprepared armies, and even with extremely basic gear they can still do massive damage due to their extra attack and the ability to cast quickness on themselves, doubling the number of attacks they make in a round (Jarls can do this as well, of course, but they cost more than double as much and need more gear). These werewolf dudes will be my main army component in this game, and the lynchpin of my strategy.

    Instead of doing damage by casting spells, our mages will transform into giant quickened regenerating werewolves and bite and slash the enemy directly. One of these dudes is definitely comparable in damage output to the same cost in most other mages, and he also has a massive hp pool and regeneration. Instead of bringing 10 mages to cast spells from the backline, we’ll bring 10 werewolves to bite the enemy’s heads off.

    The abovementioned Gygas will do the various buffs and enchantments in big battles as well as supporting our front line by spamming skeletons, but the Skratti have a role here as well. Since Skratti have blood magic, they can become communion slaves with the Gygas being communion masters. A communion transfers spell fatigue from masters to slaves and gives the master a magic path boost depending on the number of communion slaves. Normally, this transfer of fatigue can kill slaves very easily (and pretty much assuredly in long battles), but the Skratti with their regeneration can sustain a crazy number of communion masters without dying. With human mages you probably want about equal numbers of masters and slaves in a communion to prevent your slaves from rapidly dying, whereas two regenerating Skratti slaves can sustain 10-12 Gygas indefinitely.

    Man, I love Skratti.

    Anyway, we’ll get into more detail for all of these strategies as the LP advances and we actually start using them. But if you want more explanation now, either of the basics if you are unfamiliar with the game or the details of my strategy so you can tell me how stupid it is if you are a veteran, don’t hesitate to ask.

    Next time, we’ll discuss our pretender design. See ya then!

    EDTI: Sorry the images are so huge, I'm new to this LP shit. I'll try and see if I can do it a bit better for the next update :)
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2020 at 7:55 PM
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  2. Grimwulf Arcane Patron Vatnik

    Grimwulf
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    Niefelheim. One of my favorite nations. :salute:

    You defeated my Niefelheim playing as Agartha back in the old days. I can still feel the pain.

    Illwinter makes every province Cold 3 year-round, so the heat level is only an issue for so long. Still the best tool for defending your turf early on, as well as going offensive carefully. Surprisingly effective in UW warfare too.

    Low killing power isn't a weakness either. Jarls are SC that don't need to kill - they just STAND FIRMLY in one place, while their attackers can't do shit. Cold aura drains stamina, fear aura (from Horror Helmets) causes morale failures. The key is to WITHSTAND.

    While fire resistance and temperature dependence is obvious and easily fixable, Niefel Jarls suffer from less obvious weak points:
    - Low morale for a SC, often causing random retreats during winnable battles;
    - The NEED of reinvigoration items - you HAVE to keep their stamina at 0 at all times;
    - Inobedience. Which means they will often ignore your script, especially casting spells like Resist Fire, Cold Aura, Soul Vortex. Might be misspelling some spell names, it's been some time. But you got the idea.

    Thugging? What a goddamn waste. They are SC. Stealthy SC, mind you.
    1) Transform a Skratti into wolf form (stealthy)
    2) Send Skratti along with scout (or any other stealthy troop) carrying Skratti's equipment to your enemy in sneak mode
    3) Once they arrive at target destination, transform the Skratti into werewolf form and equip him
    4) Order to attack current province
    5) ...
    6) PROFIT

    Important: NEVER move the Skratti to another province after attacking, sneaking or not. He WILL be intercepted by rituals. Make him "hide" (NOT hide-and-move aka sneak) and skip a turn. This way he won't be Cloud-Trapeze'd or Teleport'd by SC-killers.
     
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  3. sqeecoo Arcane

    sqeecoo
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    I only beat your Nifelheim cause you sold me all your water gems and I made a billion Living Mercuries! Those guys can kill anything. They've nerfed them hard tho, in recent patches. Used to be 3 gems per Living Mercury, now it's 7 (!).

    As for the Nifel Jarls, I understand your point, they are endurance SCs. I'm just not a big fan of pricey SCs in general, I guess. Lots of investment and risk for something that can often be countered easily or just by you having bad luck. And the price on those Jarls... man. Before Illwinter if I'm attacking someone with heat scales I kinda prefer just having Skratti.

    God dammit! I could have made use of this trick :D They've made shrouds cursed though, so you can't carry those on scouts. But a Skratti with some other armor is still formidable.
     
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  4. sqeecoo Arcane

    sqeecoo
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    Pretender Design

    So let's talk about the pretender we'll be using in this one. The pretender is both the physical manifestation of the player, i.e. our pretender god trying to ascend to the Pantokrator's throne and an ingame unit, but also our strategic build for the game that determines our scales (the economy and climate of our nation) and our bless (special bonuses that sacred units receive).

    This is the first time I'm playing any of the frost giant nations (Nifelheim, Jotunheim, Utgard) so I definitely can't say I'm experienced with them. I guess trying out a nation for the first time is not the best choice for a tournament, but I've wanted to try the frost giants for ages now so I went for the fun option over the safer options. The frost giants are just so cool! (unavoidable pun) But they take a lot of finesse and play quite differently from other nations.

    Well, every nation plays differently in Dominions and that's part of its charm, but most nations have a cheap research mage and at least decently cheap line troops. With Nifelheim, everything is expensive. Troops are expensive, mages (and thus research) are expensive, and forts cost extra too.
    So while with most other nations you can generally make troops, mages, and infrastructure every turn and just have to tweak the balance between the three, with Nifelhiem you basically have to completely cut one or two of the three and focus all of your income one one of these each turn, since everything is individually so expensive. If you recruit the 250 gold mages, you won't have money to start a new fort. If you recruit as many Skinshifters or Nifel Giants as you can from your capitol, you won't have money for anything else. Especially in the early game you have to make tough decisions every turn, as we shall see.

    This basically means we want as much economy (i.e. scales) on our pretender as possible. What about the bless? Well, my choices here are based on a discussion I had with Grimwulf on Nifelheim pretender design a while ago - as I said, I've been thinking about playing the frost giants for a long time, but never had the balls to try them. At the time I threw some of my ideas at Grim and he politely shared his opinion of my suggestions ("Fateweaving? What is wrong with you?").

    Based on what I remembered of that discussion - I can't seem to find it now - I designed the following pretender:

    Show Spoiler
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]


    The first image shows the Monolith, the pretender chassis we're using (we could also be a monster, a titan, a human mage, a lich, and all kinds of other stuff), and the second image is our build.

    The monolith is immobile and will be kinda useless overall - we'll use him to cast big nature spells if needed and to forge Dwarven Hammers (valuable earth magic items that let us get a discount on magic gems when forging other stuff) since we have no native earth magic access. He will have 4 in earth magic (E), 4 in astral magic (S), and 7 in nature magic (N), i.e. E4S4N7, giving us a bless with reinvigoration, magic resistance (MR), and regeneration.

    Regeneration is great for giants due to their massive HP and is pretty much a no-brainer. It's also great on the Skratti if you equip them with Shrouds (special shitty armor that makes a unit sacred, which the Skratti are not by default) since it stacks with their natural regen and makes them that much tougher to kill. The additional regeneration also helps them in their role as communion batteries. Regen is especially good if you want to use Nifel Jarls, cause otherwise you'd practically be required to make them an amulet of regeneration instead which costs 10 precious nature gems and an equally precious miscellaneous item slot on the Jarl.

    Reinvigoration helps your giants not get tired in combat; both the Jarls and the sacreds are slow killers so keeping their fatigue low is very important; whereas every little bit helps on your quickened Skratti. With our +2 reinvigoration Jarls only need a 5-gem Boots of the Messenger to be fatigue-neutral (never tire out from fighting in battle) instead of the pricier amulet of reinvigoration; Skratti are fatigue neutral while quickened (double attacks, double fatigue) with the boots and have a small 1 fatigue per turn even without the boots, which is fine if you are just raiding PD (province defense) or participating in a battle as part of an army.

    The MR component is also great for thugs and helps them survive as the game advances and more and more MR-check killing spells become available. It's especially good for the Skratti and their natively mediocre MR in werewolf form.

    So we've basically taken a strong thug bless that's also great for our sacred giants. Simple, but efficiently boosting us in the areas where it's most needed.

    There's various other stuff we'd love to have on the bless, of course. In particular, a bit of shock resistance and air magic capability would be very nice, as the armor negating and stunning shock damage is a big problem if you end up facing it. It'd also be great to get the monolith to S5 magic since then it could forge the very useful Ring of Sorcery (boosts all sorcery magic paths) which we can now get only through expensive empowerment. This is something I'd consider for a really large game, but this smaller 8-player game may well finish before a Ring of Sorcery becomes really impactful.
    Overall though, everything is extremely expensive for Nifelheim and we want money above all, so I tried to get the scales as good as possible while helping out our thugs as much as possible. The monolith with it's native E/S/N magic is very good for this.

    As for the scales, I'll discuss them in the order of the little red numerals added to the picture above. This is for people not familiar with the game; I'm aiming for a level of explanation where someone unfamiliar with Dom5 but familiar with strategy games in general can sorta follow along enough to be intrigued, but without overexplaining everything and making it tedious for people who know the game.

    Anyway, scales:

    1) We take Dominion 7 (how fast our religion and thus our scales spread). We could take dominion 5 and get an extra scale point, which would be fine since we are never gonna recruit more than 5 sacred giants in a turn. But Nifelheim's dominion spreads cold to neighboring provinces that don't have our dominion. The effect is actually pretty strong, so I felt that a higher dominion score for better dominion spread was worth a point in some other scale.

    2) We take Order 3 (income, number of random events, unrest reduction) cause we want the money, we're taking misfortune so we want to reduce the number of events overall, and we'll be bloodhunting so we want unrest reduction. Pretty much a no-brainer really.

    3) I took Sloth 2 (income, resources for building armored troops) since Nifelheim doesn't really need resources - we'll rarely if ever be recruiting the normal giants, and the sacreds and Skinshifters are extremely resource cheap. I could have easily gone Sloth 3, but my thinking was that a bit of resources might be useful in a pinch if I needed to recruit some normal giants at any point, and since I want money and production is now a great money scale I'd rather take sloth 2 over, say, magic 1. I'd probably change this and go sloth 3 and magic 1 if I remade the pretender, since we never used the normal giants and I was always desperate for more research.

    4) Cold 3. A no brainer. We're Nifelheim, we like it cold.

    5) Growth 3 (income, population growth). Also a no brainer and still probably the best economic scale despite the recent nerf to the income bonus. Also, we'll be bloodhunting which reduces population, so Growth is great for us.

    6) Misfortune 2 (good/bad random events). I don't like going down to Misfortune 3 since that unlocks (I think) some really bad events, but if you're taking Order taking Misfortune is also kinda an easy choice.

    7) Magic 0 (bonus points per researcher). Gygas are our main researcher and have a very high research score (15), so it'd actually be fine to take a few points in drain. However there wasn't any need for that as we maxed out our main scales already, and adding to the bless would have required dropping some of the other scales in addition to taking drain. Not worth it in my opinion, especially since we do want to get as much research out as quickly as possible in the earlygame, to get our thugs online. As I said, I'd even probably go Magic 1 and sloth 3 just for that.

    As for Awake/Dormant/Imprisoned (how soon your god appears and the incarnate portion of your bless activates) I chose dormant.

    Awake is just too expensive, and we're not gonna be expanding with Nifel Giants anyway. They are great at expansion if you take a regen bless awake, but they are so expensive that it's not any better overall than just expanding with skinshifters, at least based on my tests. Skinshifters are fine for expansion, so we don't need the god awake.
    I struggled a lot between dormant and imprisoned; imprisoned would give us a LOT more scales or an extra component on the bless, which would be very neat. We would still have regenerating skinshifters, and the Skratti thugs would have their native regeneration. We just wouldn't use the Jarls too much, which we didn't end up doing anyway.

    I think this could work, and imprisoned may be better overall. In the end though I chose dormant cause of the closeness of our neighbors on this map. A very early war is definitely possible, and we'll be very happy for our bless to be online early if we get attacked, cause then we can throw out regenerating Nifel Giants to fight in our cold dominion and make an easy early Jarl SC to take on pretty much anything. So taking dormant was a decision made mostly with safety in mind. One other consideration is that in the first year we won't be able to recruit one of our expensive mages every turn if we're recruiting our expensive giants for expansion - it's mostly one or the other - so our research will suffer. Our pretender being dormant helps a bit in improving our early research as well.

    That was my thinking, and I'm not sure there is much I could have done better or even differently. Going any harder on the bless (maybe by taking Fortitude - half damage from all weapons) hits your scales pretty hard and pigeonholes you into using your sacred giants, which may be a suboptimal choice depending on the situation. If you want more scales, taking this guy imprisoned (and maybe adding air magic for shock res) is reasonable. And I feel having regen is just too useful to pass up by taking some sort of rainbow or something - your magic diversity is already good, too. All in all, I am quite happy with this pretender and not sure there really is a better one for Nifelheim.

    So that concludes our section on pretender design. As a final note I'd like to give special thanks to Baalz and his Nifelheim guide for the old Dominions 3. While somewhat outdated, it definitely inspired my choices in this game, especially the focus on the Skratti. Here it is: http://forum.shrapnelgames.com/showthread.php?t=41832

    If you've read this far, you've realized my style is boring wordy descriptions of my strategic choices that may or may not be stupid, without any attempts at humor or RP. I'm afraid that if you haven't lost interest completely, you are demonstrably a huge nerd. If so, I'll see you in the next episode when we'll actually start the game and do the first turn!
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2020
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  5. Inspectah Learned

    Inspectah
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    The warchant:salute:
     
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  6. sqeecoo Arcane

    sqeecoo
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    Nice one! I see that they have Vanaheim and Midgard songs as well, which are also Dominions 5 nations you can play :) Nordic elves, basically.
    That's the cool thing about Dominions, every nation and their stuff is inspired by a real-life mythology, some of which is very obscure. I still remember scouting a Mictlan (Aztec-based) army controlled by our friend KoolNoodles and my scout saying "several turkeys have been seen flying over the enemy camp". I was totally dumbfounded, I literally thought it was some kind of bug at first. Then I saw that one of the main Mictlan mages can shapeshift into a turkey so it was legit, but why a turkey of all things? I had to dig pretty deep into Aztec history to find out that they did indeed consider turkeys to be a symbol of bravery and ferocity (cause they fight to near-death over girls) and that the shapeshifting into turkeys totally makes sense, lore and history wise.

    I also have no idea why the screenies are so ginormous, I'm sorry. They are normal Steam screenshots I edit in Paint, and it doesn't help if I make them smaller. At least putting them in spoilers makes them a bit smaller I guess.
     
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  7. Kalin Arcane Zionist Agent

    Kalin
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    :avatard:

    Keep 'em coming!
     
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  8. Andnjord Arcane

    Andnjord
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    Yup, keep it coming and make the Codex proud Komrade Squeeco!:outrage::outrage:

    Oh and the screen-shots look fine on my screen.
     
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  9. Matalarata Arcane Patron

    Matalarata
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    Oh boy...

    :shredder:

    I've had some serious Dominions hitch lately. The only thing that keeps me from joining a game is the fact I don't have a life nor free time. This should help scratching it a bit...

    Keep it coming bro!
     
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  10. Storyfag Arcane Patron

    Storyfag
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    I shall lurk. I shall also try out the SP, finally. You have inspired me to take this step, for which you have my thanks sqeecoo :salute:
     
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  11. Grimwulf Arcane Patron Vatnik

    Grimwulf
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    The easy solution here is to refrain from using any troops at all after the expansion is done. More forts, more Skrattis, more thug/SC-based warfare. Replace recruitables with summons and you're golden.

    Show Spoiler
    [​IMG]


    :prosper:

    What sort of DISCUSSION did we have that could possibly result in THIS?? I don't remember. I could not have suggested anything REMOTELY resembling THIS!

    Okay, so it might look like my Pretender in Decline 14.

    Show Spoiler
    [​IMG]


    But it was Dominions 4, and I played MA Jotunheim. What are you doing? And why?

    Why Magic 0? I took Magic 3 as Jotunheim, because goblins - why did you take Magic scale as Niefels? You need Drain 3 for dat much needed MR. Cold 3 is also overkill. You will rush that Illwinter anyway.

    And also--

    You know what, I'm done. I'm long done with Dominions, so no more old man's grunting. Promise.

    It's a gud read. Gonna sit back and enjoy the show.

    :avatard:

    Edit: I take it all back. Found our discussion. And found my last Niefelheim Pretender I used in a random llama match that I actually won for a change. Not so different from yours:

    Show Spoiler
    [​IMG]


    See, I took Drain 3. +M
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2020
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  12. Matalarata Arcane Patron

    Matalarata
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    You wut wat now? You understand you have it in your blood, right? That you cannot look at those numbers and inspector tabs and miriad of choices without your brain firing up with the familiar tune, the risks, the rewards, the memes...


    Maybe you're done with Dominions 5. Maybe you'll be strong enough to avoid Dominions 6 like the plague but one day the 7 th installment will be released. And even if you manage to avoid that, I will one day reach retirement age (and with that the promise of endless free time) and spend a good portion of my waking hours buggering you to play Dominions.
     
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  13. Galdred Studio Draconis Patron Developer

    Galdred
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    It is funny you mention it. I remember playing Conquest of Elysium on Atari (probably not on mine, though), then I played Dominions 2 years later, then I am back in Dominions 5 because I had to do some R&D on Capricorns for my game, and my daughter forced me to also play a dragon (and now, we will play a disciple game together vs AI).
    So yeah, there are some chance you'll still be playing it in 20 years. I hope the developers have managed to peform their own ritual of lichcraft. This series is like the only one where I don't fear being betrayed by new installments.
     
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  14. Matalarata Arcane Patron

    Matalarata
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    You mean there's a slim chance I'll be alive in 20 years. If I'm still kicking and finally retired you bet I'll be playing Dominions still! Alas, I'm old already...



    In any case, hearing about the newer generation being introduced to the wonders of Dominions is great. Remember, you have a duty, teach your daughter about the wonders of this kind of gaming. Nowadays young people hardly get any pleasure from mental stimuli, instead being fed an endless sensory overload under the guise of "entertainment".


    Show Spoiler
    You could use her to playtest Phase Missiles in Eclipse and answer the age old question 'R dei OP??? Control group and experimental group under the same roof, glorious!
     
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  15. sqeecoo Arcane

    sqeecoo
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    Turn 1: A Cold Welcome

    Well friends, let's start the game! Or wait, let me apologize a bit first. This game is being played on ClockWork Bot, a newfangled monstrosity of a Dominions platform where you don't even use emails to send the turns. Truly an abomination of modern times. You can set it up to archive your turns but I only figured that out around turn 30, so most of my previous turnfiles are lost to history. I did diligently take a lot of screenies in advance so I do have most of the turns up to 30 covered, but I'd be able to give a better turn overview if I could actually open the turn ingame from the email in my inbox where they are usually saved. So I apologize in advance if some of the earlygame coverage is spotty. But we should be ok, I think.

    Anyway, turn 1! Here we go!

    [​IMG]

    This is our starting position. Our Nifelheim starts in a mountain province which doesn't hinder movement in Dominions 5 (a mountain province is supposed to be plains with a mountain, whereas a highlands province does hinder movement since it represents hilly terrain), so that's a good thing right there. The two red circles east and west mark the provinces of our closest neighbors. Pretty close, eh! Black circles are our other closest neighbors. The one directly north is certainly Atlantis as it's the only water nation and the only one that can spawn in the sea, and the eastern black circle is almost certainly Abysia or Hinnom as they have a preference for starting in a wasteland.
    The four green circles are the throne provinces; we need to hold and claim 5 of those to win. There's more land to our east and west that we don't see here, too.

    We're surrounded by Atlantis on two sides (the map wraps around north-south and east-west) so good relations with Atlantis are paramount. I reach out to him immediately and try to establish a good relationship. Overall I won't be going too deep into diplomacy cause I don't really enjoy it too much as it always creates butthurt in the end, but I'll be telling you the basic deals we make, just not the intricacies of diplomacy turn-by-turn.

    We are sending our starting scout sneaking east to monitor our eastern neighbor, as you can see from the grey arrow heading east. I just picked east mostly at random, I guess partly cause there's more open land that way.

    It's often customary to make your scout the prophet - the prophet spreads your dominion (i.e. scales), has more HP in your dominion and less in enemy dominion, and has an extra smite spell that's reasonably powerful early - as that lets your prophet be mobile and stealthy. But with known locations for our opponents and them being this close, I think actually scouting with the scout gives better value. We also have to recruit at least one giant commander to lead out our second expansion party because it'll be ready before we can get a commander in from a newly-conquered province, so I'll make that giant commander that we recruit be the prophet and thus have a decently strong dude with lots of HP in our dominion and regeneration as well once our pretender wakes up on about turn 12. Might come in handy if we get rushed.

    As for our recruitment in the capitol, here it is:

    Show Spoiler
    [​IMG]


    We're building three Skinshifters, which I've found are a solid and sufficient boost to our starting army of 10 standard giants; the commander dude we're recruiting will be the prophet.

    That wraps up the first turn, not much more to say. Short and sweet, eh?



    Well, to add a bit more content here's a Dominions story. I was playing a game as Agartha (subterranean one-eyed aquatic blobmen that are kinda sad in combat, but great at earth magic) and had this dude as my pretender god:

    Show Spoiler
    [​IMG]


    Pretty strong dude and immortal to boot, which means he reforms in your capitol if killed. It was nearing the lategame and I was in a strong position, but then someone cast this horrifying spell:

    Show Spoiler
    [​IMG]


    The spell is literally horrifying, as it causes Lovecraftian astral horrors to have a significant chance of appearing and attacking any mage doing any non-blood magic spell rituals or forging. Truly the bane of all non-blood nations.
    Despite Astral Corruption being up, I foolishly decided to cast the Cloud Trapeze spell with my pretender god. Cloud trapeze costs only two gems and teleports the caster to a distant province. My pretender was massively decked out in great gear and with his strong hp, stats, and magic was a proper Super Combatant. I wanted to teleport him on an enemy army in a surprise attack. My reasoning was that since the chance of getting a horror attack under Astral Corruption goes down with the price of the spell (high cost practically guarantees it, while it's fairly low for cheap spells) and since my pretender was a beast in combat and could kill even these pesky horrors if they do appear, casting this tiny spell was no serious risk when weighed against the benefit of crushing an unprepared army.

    Boy was I wrong.

    A horror did appear as my pretender cast the spell, but not just any basic horror. Instead, it was this... thing:

    Show Spoiler
    [​IMG]


    Wow. Now my pretender was a beast in combat and this guy is not totally unkillable, but despite that my pretender was no match for this mind-blasting abomination from the Void. You can't see it here, but his four Astral Claw attacks are armor negating and went right through my pretender's massive protection that he was relying on in combat. My pretender could still take plenty of hits with his huge HP and buffs, but nowhere near enough to win.

    And that was the problem. You see, the Astral Claw attacks also massively horror-mark on damage. Horror mark is an unremovable effect that draws horrors to attack the marked one, doubly so under Astral Corruption (basically the "marked by Astral magic" bit from the description of the Eater of Gods). Now if my pretender had simply been one-shotted by this horror like almost any other entity in the material world would have been he'd just have gotten somewhat horrormarked and would perhaps be attacked by horrors every dozen turns or so after he reformed in the capitol. But no, my pretender really put up a heroic fight and took probably dozens of astral claw hits, which horror marked him more than anything has every been horrormarked before.

    My pretender reformed in my capitol next turn due to being immortal, but was feebleminded and crippled from his horrible battle. Now immortal beings will slowly heal and recover from their afflictions, but my poor guy was immediately attacked by more horrors on the turn after he reformed. Lesser horrors this time, and he might have beat them and slowly healed if he hadn't been feebleminded, which basically means that he's a blathering idiot and incapable of using any magic what so ever, without which we was no match for even the weaker horrors.
    Next turn he reformed in the capitol again and was immediately attacked by horrors again; now even lesser horrors sometimes have the astral claw attack (albeit much weaker than the Eater of Gods) and they kept stacking more and more horror marks on my guy as he drooled helplessly all over himself and reformed in my capitol only to die again the next turn. He became completely stuck in that loop and I was unable to use my pretender at all.

    The funny thing is... I won that game. It was actually the one Grimwulf mentioned where I beat his Nifelheim and went on to win the game, which reminded me of the story. That means that my slobbering idiot of a pretender that was constantly dying to horrors only to be reborn and die again in an endless cycle became the Pantokrator, the supreme ruler of the universe. With such a ruler that universe either came to a miserable and horrifying end or prospered like no other, it's hard to say. But this is a story straight out of Planescape: Torment and one of my favorite moments in Dominions.

    That concludes this update, hope the story was enough to spice it up a bit. Next time on turn 2 we will actually plan some attacks!
     
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  16. Grimwulf Arcane Patron Vatnik

    Grimwulf
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    Wait, what? What's wrong with llamaserver?

    I would throw a bit more cheap units in the mix, you could use numbers. Besides, your Prophet will be able to form lines. IIRC, it's the only Niefelheim commander able to do that, apart from Niefel Jarls.

    Someone? I wonder who could have done that. :lol:

    The thread is still here in the Playground, you know. Most of the images are long gone, though.

    I'll copy-paste my own butthurt-filled recap from the old thread for people who love teh drama:

    And then I cast Astral Corruption. +M
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2020 at 7:03 PM
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  17. sqeecoo Arcane

    sqeecoo
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    Dude, please! I love your gentle criticism (seriously) and it's sorely needed in the LP as the poor new people might get the impression that I know what I'm doing. And I really do want to know what I could do better as well. Please keep pointing out my screwups, my play will only get worse as we go on :D

    As for Magic 0, I did consider drain and I understand the advantage of having it with your researchers having 15 research points.
    (If your main cheap research dude has the standard 7 research points - RP - taking drain 3 which is -3 RP puts him at a horrible 4 RP, almost a 50% reduction. If you have NO cheap research dude and are researching with 15 research mages anyway, drain 3 is not a big hit and provides extra MR in combat for battles in your dominion as well.)

    I just felt that Nifelheim really really wants construction 4 research for items, alteration 4 for thug buffs, and enchantment 5 for spamming skeletons in battle ASAP and that taking drain 3 makes those research goals that much harder to achieve. And maybe more importantly, I didn't really know what to get with the extra points from taking drain; luck 3 is ok but unimpressive especially if you take order 3 (which you definitely want) as order scales reduce the frequency of your lucky events. I considered taking air 4 magic and shock resistance on the pretender, but it seemed like a situational bonus whereas the faster early research is always something you really want.
     
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  18. Grimwulf Arcane Patron Vatnik

    Grimwulf
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    Not taking Drain 3 was plain stupid.

    Right. Basic stuff.

    Wrong.

    WRONG!

    What is wrong with you? Niefelheim researches through Skull Mentors - it is completely irrelevant who wields them. By the time your opponents have 100 researchers, you'll have 20. Of those 20:
    - 5 will forge items
    - 5 will cast rituals
    - 5 will participate in battles
    - 5 will do actual research

    Don't compare our Pretenders - I was playing no-wrap map, and was preparing myself for a long game. Luck 3 brings major bonuses in the long run, regardless of Order scale. Niefelheim needs both the national heroes for magic diversity and extra gems, because it's constantly gem-starved.

    If I was playing your map, I would go with Drain 3, Misfortune 1-3, and AWAKEN PRETENDER. THAT would be the research boost you're talking about here:

    Not goddamn MAGIC scale. Not to mention the domspread you could have had with awaken Pretender, easing up early wars.

    Drain 3 does not only provide MR boost, it also makes hostile forces powerless against your SC's. Because only enemy mages have any chance of taking down Niefelhein SC's. If they pass out in Drain 3, you're golden.

    The only no-brainer for Niefelheim is Drain 3. Everything else is subject for discussion.
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2020 at 9:26 PM
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  19. sqeecoo Arcane

    sqeecoo
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    Hmm, you make a good argument for taking Drain. We will of course make use of skull mentors, but you gotta get to construction 4 first! Drain slows that down quite a bit, and I don't really like relying on our giant troops in the meantime. Still, taking Drain opens up a lot of options, that much is true.
    I'm not a big fan of awake here other than for the research since I from my (admittedly brief) testing I couldn't expand better with the pricey Nifel Giants than with Skinshifters, but something like a dormant rainbow with fire and shock resistance added to this build and sitesearching from year two might be interesting. I'll definitely consider Drain 3 next time!

    As for the extra troops recruitment on turn 1, we have 60 gold left over, yeah, which could have been two decent normal giants extra. I'm not 100% on what the rationale here was but I think that only adding three skinshifters gives me enough money to get a better or faster second expansion party, and the two potential dudes are not strictly necessary for the initial expansion group.

    Llamaserver is fine, I dunno why people like the new Clockwork bot thing.

    And yeah, don't stop trashing my play! I love your grumpy feedback and I think the back-and-forth is more entertaining than the LP itself :D
     
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  20. Matalarata Arcane Patron

    Matalarata
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    Bro. Where's my update?
     
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  21. sqeecoo Arcane

    sqeecoo
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    Turn 2: A Small Step for a Giant

    Sorry sorry, had a busy weekend, and a busy day today. Let's see if I can manage a small update!

    [​IMG]

    So we're finally moving out an expansion group consisting of our starting army + the 3 Skinshifters we recruited and led by our starting giant commander, as indicated by the red arrow. We're moving east for a couple of reasons.

    First, we've made a deal with Atlantis where they've promised not to grab the coastal lands in our immediate are (i.e. directly north and south of us) in exchange for later cooperation as well as us allowing them to grab to the smaller lake to our west and the throne north of it. So our coasts should be fairly safe and therefore going north and south is not a priority. This is a good deal for us - I don't really care THAT much about grabbing thrones early - they make people anxious if you grab too many and they are usually heavily guarded. Although they typically provide a pretty good bonus of some sort I find offering them in exchange for normal land a good deal this early, when the priority is to secure as much territory as possible as fast as possible (and we probably can't take the throne until later anyway). Being friendly with water nations is great in general, too. While land nations are mostly capable of kicking them out from any coastal land that they grab, getting a water nation pissed at you means that they will raid you from the safety of their underwater holdings with impunity for a long time. Nifelheim can contest the water better than most, but it'd still be a huge pain to get into an early scuffle with Atlantis here. Hopefully we've avoided that.

    The second reason for expanding east is that this is where our scout is going. We'll have enough vision to see how far we can go without bumping into expansion parties of the nation to our east, which makes it much safer. The third reason is that it's a fairly easy province (though not necessarily the easiest). From what we can see it's militia and light cavalry, neither of which poses a serious threat to our giants, even the standard ones.
    The fourth reason is that capturing that province will allow us to recruit a commander there to lead our subsequent expansion parties and transport troops. Before you build a fort you can recruit independent-type units from the province based on the type of units that defended the province originally. The two population types to our north (two types of tribals) don't allow you to recruit a commander from the province without a fort, while provinces with the infantry type defenders do. So that's another good reason for grabbing one of those early so you don't have to spend a fort turn in your capitol to recruit commanders for your subsequent expansion parties.

    The second guy in the commander list for our capitol province is the commander giant we recruited last turn and we are making him a prophet as planned.

    As for our army, it looks like this:

    [​IMG]

    We got 5 spear giants and 5 javelin giants (lower row) as well as the three Skinshifters we made. The spearmen and Skinshifters are set to hold and attack whereas the javelineers are set to hold and fire. This means that they will stand still for two turns and then attack/fire; the other scripting option is to have them attack immediately. We're opting to hold first since this will string out the enemies who are likely to move towards us at different speeds.
    Our commander is set in the back and told to cast spells, which he can't actually do, but this will make him stand still for the whole battle. Although he's not a bad fighter if you lose all your commanders all your troops rout, so we don't want to put the dude in any danger.
    While scripting options for troops are very limited, scripting your troops actually takes a surprising amount of finesse in Dominions, as we shall see as the game advances. Especially when combined with positioning:

    Show Spoiler
    [​IMG]


    (ignore the scout in the lower left) As you can see, we've positioned the spear group behind the javelin group although we actually want the spearmen to take the brunt of the attack - the javelin dudes are somewhat flimsier. This is because the idea is for the javelin dudes to throw their two javelins and then engage at roughly the same time as the spear guys instead of throwing the javelins after the melee has started and potentially hit our own troops.
    Here we are trying to guess the relative speeds of the enemy advancing and how fast the lines will clash, which is actually pretty hard to do. Although your options are simple, actually getting your dudes to engage exactly how your want is hard but also makes a big difference if done right. We'll do much better if the javelins are thrown before the lines meet so there is not friendly fire and if the javelineers join the fray after (cause they are weaker) but almost at the same time as the spear guys (so they add their damage and stop the spearmen from being surrounded) but also without being blocked by the spearmen (this is why they are placed a bit down).

    And here's our recruitment for the turn:

    Show Spoiler
    [​IMG]


    We're not making any mages, which will probably make Grimwulf shout at me. We're making a bunch of dudes instead to head out next turn in a fully-fledged expansion party led by our prophet. This is why we didn't recruit two extra normal giants last turn - if we had we could only recruit 4 skinshifters this turn, which is not enough for a proper expansion party. Now we can recruit 5 skinshifter and one of the top-level normal giants, making up a decent expansion party.

    While we do want mages and research ASAP, with these cramped maps I feel that getting extra expansion parties out as soon as possible to grab as much territory in all directions is more important. Sure we can conquer stuff later, but we will fight a war with the nation to our east or to our west but not both, so the land we grab right now in the direction we don't fight our first war will be the extent of our holdings in that direction for a while. Therefore it's best to grab as much as possible.

    That's it for this turn then. No storytime in this one since I gotta run, but next time we'll have our first giant (hah) battle! Exciting!

    EDIT: A bit of extra explanation on the Atlantis territory deal:

    Show Spoiler
    [​IMG]

    This is the land division as far as I remember, with me getting stuff behind the red line and Atlantis getting the blue. It's not just about who is stronger, it's about having peaceful relations with our main neighbor and not having to worry about getting the coasts in time. The land I agreed was Atlantis' also conveniently blocks us from our northwestern neighbor (green arrow), encouraging the two of them to go to war and taking pressure off us.
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2020 at 2:07 PM
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  22. Inspectah Learned

    Inspectah
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    Excited to see the wars, even if I have a feeling everyone was targeting second place because of the stupid two advance format
    Here's hoping peeps weren't a bunch of *looks at the title* fags
     
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  23. Dayyālu Arcane

    Dayyālu
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    I am no2 very happy to have taken Niel in the 2vs2 disciple game. This thread is gold for planning.

    Also, Grimwulf , people really like Discord for some inane reason and they need to have everything there, so they can lose important information more easily and have less safety compared to Llamaserver.

    It's what all Kool Kids do.

    Also I have taken Ashdod+Niel combo, come here and scream at me, I need it
     
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  24. Grimwulf Arcane Patron Vatnik

    Grimwulf
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    All it takes is a couple of barely equipped Niefel Jarls. UW nations can't do shit against them, the only problem here is breaking the damn walls of UW forts. And yet you could milk those non-fortified UW provices and maybe even ended the war with a tribute.

    So you made a "deal" with fucking ATLANTIS playing as NIEFELHEIM just to make sure they don't grab provinces in your CAPCIRCLE? CAPCIRCLE, SQEECOO! What is WRONG with you??

    :prosper:

    I'll pretend you're just roleplaying your prophet.

    [​IMG]

    Then it's okay.

    NOT NIEFELHEIM! :x Atlantis has to be fucked up in the head if he tries to RAID ffffucking NIEFELHEIM!

    Using second leadership slot for groupping javeliners together? Wasteful. They WILL throw javelins anyway, even if placed together with pure melee unit. Seems like you're attacking some indies that might have ranged units, right? Then you should've placed a single decoy unit in the second leadership slot.

    But EVEN if those indies don't have ranged units, your script is already fucked up. Javeliners should be set to "fire AND KEEP DISTANCE", sorta "luring" the enemy towards your melee, backing up, forming a single group, damaging enemy's morale and numbers with those javelins.

    Not recruiting mages is not the reason I'll shout at you. I already mentioned that your godfarted Magic 0 scale is a waste, and now you're simply proving my point. Awaken Pretender would be doing research as we speak, and there would be no need for Magic scale - the boost from Pretender is more than enough.

    The REAL reason I'm gonna shout is your COMPLETE INABILITY TO FORM EFFECTIVE EXPANSION PARTY! Good fucking GODS - why the hell did you bother making Jotun Jarl a prophet if you didn't plan on utilizing his leadership, ability to form lines, ability to command large squads of giants? Why the FUCK do you rely on Skinshifters ONLY? Don't you realize that giant units are easily surrounded when massively outnumbered? FUCK'S SAKE!

    It should be ILLEGAL to allow kids to play Dominions.
     
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  25. Kalin Arcane Zionist Agent

    Kalin
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    Relax Grim I have a gud feeling about this!

    :kingcomrade:
     
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