Dominions 5 : A Strategy Game for Mac That You Haven't Heard Of
What is Dominions 5?
The Dominions video game series by Illwinter Game Design has been around since the early 2000s. Here in 2017 starts the 5th edition to the series with Dominions 5. Dominions 5 is an extremely deep tactical strategy game that, quite honestly, may be one of the deepest video games in existence. The reason why this game gets passed over by some experienced gamers is because of its outdated graphics and UI. Even with the butter face the game holds one of the most loyal communities around that are willing to help new players. And help you will need because of the enormous amount of information to process when joining the Dominions world. All of Illwinter's products work for Windows, Mac, and Linux.
One of the coolest aspects of Dominions is the vast amount of mythology in the game. The game can be played in 3 different "ages" which can change how a nation is played. Every nation has elements of mythology from real to fictional. For example if you are a fan of Lovecraft and the Cthulhu mythos then you will find a nation to feel right at home with, that is if you're one of the big weirdos that feels at home thinking about dream sucking squid. You'll also find references to national mythology from the Aztecs to ancient Japanese stories. In the end, across 3 ages, you will find over 80 nations to choose from. Each have their own units, magic, and style of play and differ vastly from each other.
The mechanics for magic are complex. The first obstacle is researching the school of magic which is divided up into 8 schools of magic. Each school allows access to spells but players can only use spells that their mages have access to. For example a fire mage would only have access to fire spells within its school of research. Within the 8 schools of magic you will find 9 types of magic paths. The usual 4 elements appear with 5 other types of magic as well. Magic can further be divided up into combat spells and "global" spells, summoning, and more, which can affect everyone in game. Some of these spells can be devastating destroying entire populations. Others can blot out the sun or create a second sun. The scope of what one can do with magic feels almost unlimited.
Every nation selects a god or "pretender". All different types can be selected for your nation and some gods can even be used for several different nations. The gods can vary from titans, dragons, giants snakes, or plain old regular humans. Each has their own cost with several advantages and disadvantages. Some have access to several paths of magic. Others will give you better "scales" which can lead to good income and growth. Selecting your pretender can completely change your play style. One pretender may be more aggressive by needing to expand and attack quickly while another one may help your nation have greater profits allowing you to slowly build up in research and resources. Some pretenders may provide a "bless" status for certain soldiers within their army. This effect can greatly improve an army's combat potential.
The reason why Dominions 5 and the entire series has such deep gameplay is because there are so many possibilities in how you want to play. With a choice of over 80 nations, dozens of pretenders, and different options to research magic, it guarantees no game is played the same. Games progress in a turn based manner but combat is in real time where the units act off your pre made instructions. Little scripts help guide your army to be more specific, however, your units will react even without any detailed command.
The tactics involved range from standard military formations and concepts to flying suicidal exploding winged bats. Powerful mages can blanket a battlefield with seemingly natural disasters. Various pieces of equipment on your leaders can offer status effects from engulfing the enemy with fear or something as simple as extra food for your hungry armies.
Games end when the opposing nations are killed or a certain amount of thrones have been captured by one nation. There are many customizable options to how a game can be played.
Single Player play offers a fun experience, but Multi Player is where the game really shines. Several community groups can be found online playing slower style games of a turn or 2 a day and "blitzes" where the entire game can be played within a few hours.
Pros and Cons
Deep tactical play and strategy
Large amounts of options to customize the game
Many choices for nations and variations of unit types
Smooth running gameplay
A large amount of content, with over 80 nations you could try every nation once and end up with several hundred hours of gameplay
Arguably one of the best strategy games in the history of PC gaming
A subpar UI
Graphics that are outdated but still hold charm and are perhaps needed with the scope of battles and calculations
It can be overwhelming learning all the concepts of the game
Single Player A.I. can make some strange choices