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Dominions 4 Path Boosting Guide – by Telos Edit

Guide copied over

When I started making this guide, I drew heavily on a great Dominions 3 guide posted online by Sector24.  I have included a large number of new things and the changes in Dominions 4.  Many of Sector24’s old tips are no longer applicable in Dominions 4, so I instead wrote up some new tips of my own.

In general, path-boosting involves ratcheting back and forth between forging better path-boosting items and summoning new mages with better paths than you had before.  The new mages can often wear some of the old items and then forge even better items and/or summon even better mages.  For example, a common progression is to start with a W2 mage (i.e., a mage with 2 levels of water magic).  This mage can forge a water bracelet whose +1W bonus boosts your W2 mage into a W3 mage.  That’s enough to summon Sea King’s Court which includes a sea king troll, who is innately a W3 mage and boosts up to W4 when you transfer the water bracelet to him.   The sea king can forge a Robe of the Sea (another +1W booster), which brings him to W5, which allows him then to summon the even stronger Queen of Elemental Water.

Not all paths are quite as easy to boost as water is, and often you’ll find yourself thinking carefully about what path combinations you have available, and/or seeking out magic sites, indy populations or nation-specific summons (not listed here), that might allow you to recruit mages with new path combinations.  In a pinch, you can always spend a ton of gems to empower a mage up a level, though this is expensive and best avoided if possible. (Empowering to level 1 costs 50 gems. Level 2 is the cheapest at 30 gems. Level 3 is 45 and costs continue increasing by 15 each level.) The lists below can help a lot as you’re trying to figure out how to ratchet up to new levels of power.

In all these lists, the parentheses indicate the research level needed to do something.  Forging items requires research in Construction, so that is abbreviated just as “Lev” (or “Unique” for the level-8 unique artifacts that only one player can have at a time).  The italicized names are level 8 or 9, and hence will typically be out of reach until quite late in the game.  Each item lists the path requirements then an arrow ‘-->’ and then the resulting boost to a mage that wears that item.  Each summon spell lists the path requirements to cast it, then an arrow pointing to the innate paths the summoned mage will have.

Universal Boosters (I won’t bother repeatedly listing these in all the specific paths.) Edit

Hand: Crystal Shield(Lev6) S3E2 --> +1 all paths in combat only (doesn’t help forge items or summon new mages) Misc:  Ring of Wizardry(Lev6) S8 and 70 pearls --> +1 all paths Armor:  Robe of the Magi(Lev6) A6B6 --> +1 all paths (The Ring of Wizardry and Robe of the Magi make path-boosting tremendously easier if you can get them.  Many players take this to be a strong reason to choose a pretender who is already at least S5 – that plus a starshine skullcap, crystal coin, and ring of sorcery will get you to the crucial S8 and then everything else is much easier.  Without this, getting to S8 is often a long hard slog.  Robe of the Magi is great if you can get it, but most nations just can’t, and it would be odd to choose a pretender for this.)

Tartarian Gate(Conj9) D7 --> ?7 on great chassis, but with afflictions, insanity, and only 20% are commanders. (The global enchantment Gift of Health(Ench 5) (N5 and 50 gems) is currently the only way to cure their afflictions. Gift of Reason(Thaum 4) (N4 and 20 gems) can upgrade the non-commanders to commanders.  If you have the death and nature magic to do all that, their insanity is a small price to pay for their power.)

The First Anvil(Unique) E6 and 40 gems  --> +1 to all paths when forging items Forge of the Ancients(Lev 7) E5 and 80 gems  --> a global enchantment that makes all your items cheaper to forge, and more importantly effectively gives all your mages +1 to all paths when forging items.  (This opens the door to lots of new possibilities, but also makes human competitors jealous, scared, and likely to kill you.)

Note that, as with all boosters, these universal boosters apply only to those paths the mage innately has – there is generally no good way (besides expensive empowerment) to boost a mage from 0 to 1 in any path.  Instead you’ll usually seek to recruit or summon another mage who innately has levels in that path.

Air Edit

Head: Winged Helmet(Lev4) A4  --> +1A Misc:  Bag of Winds(Lev4) A5 --> +1A 2hand:  Staff of Elemental Mastery(Lev6) F4W4 --> +1 A+F+W+E 2hand:  Staff of Elemental Mastery(Lev6) A4E4 --> +1 A+F+W+E 2hand:  Sword of Many Colors(Unique) E4S3 --> +1 A+F+W+E
Misc:  Tome of High Power(Unique) A2S2 --> +1A+1S *Slight chance of Horror mark

Indy Deer Tribe Shaman --> N1?0 (10% chance of A1) Indy Crystal Sorceress --> S1A1?0 (10% chances of +1S) Ether Gate(Conj. 6) S4D1 and 90 pearls --> S3D2?1 (100% chance of BDAS) with ethereal army Faerie Court (Conj. 8 ) N5 and 40 gems --> A3N3 15 HP flyer, comes with and can summon sprites Bind Demon Lord(Blood9) B8 and 155 slaves --> 1 of the 6 has A5D3B4 but spreads disease Djinn(via unique Magic Lamp) F4A4 --> F5A5E3S3 that is unsummoned whenever anyone rebuilds lamp

Air is one of the hardest paths to boost.  The easiest way for a non-air nation to get early site-searching going is often with indy crystal sorceresses (or deer tribe shamans in a pinch) though these only get you A1.  The cheapest and most consistent way into higher levels is Faerie Court which requires only Conj-8 and N5.  That gets you one level away from the crucial A4.  You can see that there are a variety of ways of getting that last +1A, none of which is especially easy.  In a pinch, you can just empower a Fairie Queen. 

Astral Edit

Misc: Crystal Coin(Lev4) S2E2 --> +1S Head: Starshine Skullcap(Lev6) S2 --> +1S Misc:  Ring of Sorcery(Lev6) S7 --> +1 S+B+N+D Misc:  Tome of High Power(Unique) A2S2 --> +1A+1S *Slight chance of Horror mark Hand:  Dimensional Rod(Unique) S3 --> +1S, *cursed *slight chance of horror mark and/or insanity Misc: The Forbidden Light(Unique) F5S5 --> +2F+2S [confirm?] Misc: Atlas of Creation(Unique) E5S5 --> +1E +1N+1S

Indy Lizard Tribe Shaman --> N1S1 Indy Crystal Sorceress --> S1A1?0 (10% chances of +1S) Bind Ice Devil(Blood 6) B3W3 and 88 slaves --> 1 in 6 chance of W3S2; all are solid combatants Bind Arch Devil(Blood 7) B4F2 and 99 slaves --> 1 in 5 chance of F3S3; all are solid combatants Bind Demon Lord(Blood 9) B8 and 155 slaves --> 1 in 6 chance of F4S3B5 Ether Gate(Conj. 6) S4D1 and 90 pearls --> S3D2?1 (100% chance of BDAS) with ethereal army Summon Spectre(Conj 6) D3 and 22 gems --> D1?2 (100% chances of SDEW) Hidden in Sand(Ench. 6) E3D1 and 75 gems --> E1D2H2 (100% +2F/E/S, 50% +1D, 50% +1F) with army Hidden Underneath(Ench. 6) E3D1 and 75 gems --> E1D2 (separate 50% chances at each of +1E/+1E/+1S/+1S/+1D) with army Djinn(via unique Magic Lamp) F4A4 --> F5A5E3S3 that is unsummoned whenever anyone rebuilds lamp

You can break into astral via indy crystal sorceresses or lizard tribe shamans, each of which can cast the astral site search spell.  Summoning enough crystal sorceresses will eventually give you S2, which gets you the first booster Starshine Skullcap.  Another crucial step is somehow to find ES mages to forge crystal coins – fortunately 1/8th of spectres are ES, and the other 7/8ths tend to be useful too; hidden in sand is an expensive gamble but might work too.  Astral eventually gives access to the most powerful boosters, including the rings of sorcery and wizardry (see universal boosters above).  However these are very hard to ratchet up to, and often require empowerment or winning the race to unique artifacts. The most consistent ways to get to really high levels are with empowerment or with an S5 pretender (may differ if it has unusual slots).  If you can win the race to dimensional rod, you can do it with a “mere” S4 mage, though the rod is cursed and will eventually kill that mage.  Since Astral opens the door to boosting so many other paths, it is often easier to justify empowering an astral mage, rather than needing to empower multiple mages in other paths.

Blood Edit

Armor: Armor of Twisting Thorns(Lev4) B3N2 --> +1B, *cannot be removed Hand: Blood Thorn(Lev6) B4 --> +1B Misc: Brazen Vessel(Lev4) B5 --> +1B Armor: Armor of Souls(Lev2) B6 --> +1B Misc:  Ring of Sorcery(Lev6) S7 --> +1 S+B+N+D Armor: Flesh Ward B5 --> +1B Misc: The Black Book of Secrets B2D2 --> +1B +1D Misc: Tome of the Lower Planes B2S3 --> +1B

Indy Jaguar Tribe Priest --> H1N1?0 (10% chance of FWSB) Indy Garnet Sorceress (rare) --> F1B1(10% chance of +1B) Awaken Treelord (Ench. 7) N5 and 35 gems --> N4?1 (N/B/E) big but immobile Contact Lamia Queen(Conj. 6) N5D2 and 25 gems --> D2N1?2 (100% chances of BDNW) on sizable regenerator Ether Gate(Conj. 6) S4D1 and 90 pearls --> S3D2?1 (100% chance of BDAS) with ethereal army Bind Ice Devil(Blood 6) B3W3 and 88 slaves --> { W3S2/W3H3/W3/W2/W3/W3 } all solid combatants Bind Arch Devil(Blood 7) B4F2 and 99 slaves --> most have F4; one of the five has F3S3; all solid combatants Curse of Blood(Blood 7) B3D4 and 77 slaves --> D3B3 immortal vampire lord Bind Heliophagus(Blood 8 ) B5 and 111 slaves --> Chance of B4F4B3D4B3, or D3B3 Bind Demon Lord(Blood 9) B8 and 155 slaves --> {  F4E4B4 (*Heretic 5, Attracts blood slaves and milita)                                                                                        F4N4B4 (*Causes unrest)                                                                                        F5D3B4                                                                                        A5D3B4 (*Spreads disease)                                                                                        D3N4B5                                                                                        F4S3B5

Blood is often the hardest path to break into, and blood-slave sources are so rare that it’s often hard even to empower your first blood mage.  A commander without blood magic has a slight chance of succeeding at a blood hunt, so if you’re persistent you can amass enough slaves for your first empowerment.  Indy Jaguar Priests, Awaken Treelord, Lamia Queen and Ether Gate all provide other possible ways in.  Once you get your first blood mage, set it to blood-hunting in a province with around 7000 population with patrollers to keep unrest in check, using a sanguine dousing rod as soon as you can afford it.  The slaves will come in surprisingly quickly, allowing for empowerment and eventually summoning additional mages.  Since an established blood economy often accumulates blood slaves much faster than other gems, empowerment in blood is easier to justify than most paths.  The only mass-summonable blood mage available to most nations is the vampire lord (req. B3D4 and 77 slaves), so if you’re looking to exponentially grow a blood economy, you’ll probably eventually want to empower a fairly strong death mage in blood (if you don’t already have one, e.g., a blood lamia).  If you’re a non-blood nation competing with a real blood nation, you’ll likely lose the race to the powerful unique blood summons, so it often makes sense not even to bother with blood magic, and save yourself all the unrest, population-loss, wasted research points, and tedious micromanagement.  The game is designed so that there’s virtually no need for most nations to go into blood magic, unlike all the other paths and schools which everyone practically does need to use.

Death Edit

2Hand: Skull Staff(Lev4) D2 --> +1D Head: Skullface(Lev6) D5  --> +1D   Head: The Jade Mask(Lev6) D6N3 --> +2D  *wearer must be cold-blooded (e.g. Lamia queen) Misc:  Ring of Sorcery(Lev6) S7 --> +1 S+B+N+D Hand: Scepter of Dark Regency(Unique) D6 --> +2D 2Hand: The Flailing Hands(Unique) D2 --> +1D (no better than Skull Staff as booster, but decent weapon) Misc:  The Black Book of Secrets(Unique) B2D2 --> +1B +1D

Indy Wolf Tribe Shaman --> N1?0 (10% chance of D1) Indy Jade Sorceress --> N1W1?0 (25% chance of WEDN) Contact Lamia Queen(Conj. 6) N5D2 and 25 gems --> D2N1?2 (100% chances of BDNW) on sizable regenerator Forest Troll Tribe(Conj. 6) N3 and 40 gems --> N2D1 troll with army of trolls Ether Gate(Conj. 6) S4D1 and 90 pearls --> S3D2?1 (100% chance of BDAS) with ethereal army Hidden in Snow(Ench. 6) W3D1 and 75 gems --> about one D1?4 (2 x 50% D, 3 x 50% of E, 3 x 50% of W) with army Hidden in Sand(Ench. 6) E3D1 and 75 gems --> E1D2H2 (100% +2F/E/S, 50% +1D, 50% +1F) with army Hidden Underneath(Ench. 6) E3D1 and 75 gems --> E1D2 (separate 50% chances at each of +1E/+1E/+1S/+1S/+1D) with army Streams from Hades(Conj. 6) W4D1 and 40 gems --> W3D3 on a wussy human body Forest Troll Tribe(Conj. 6) N3 and 40 gems --> N2D1 troll with army of trolls [D1 according to manual. confirm?] Summon Spectre(Conj 6) D3 and 22 gems --> D1?2 (from S/D/E/W) on a 27HP ethereal chilly life-drainer Summon Mound Fiend(Conj. 7) D3 and 28 gems --> D3H2 body very similar to spectre Lichcraft(Ench. 8 ) D5 and 30 gems --> D4 15HP immortal body Tartarian Gate(Conj9) D7 --> ?7 on great chassis, but only 20% are commanders, have afflictions and insanity Curse of Blood(Blood 7) B3D4 and 77 slaves --> D3B3 immortal vampire lord Bind Heliophagus(Blood 8 ) B5 --> chance of B4F4B3D4B3, or D3B3 Bind Demon Lord(Blood 9) B8 and 155 slaves -->F4E4B4 / F4N4B4 / F5D3B4 / A5D3B4 / D3N4B5 / F4S3B5

Indy wolf-tribe shamans and jade sorceresses offer a chance at D1, so they’re often the easiest route into death for a non-death nation, and they have the power to cast Dark Knowledge for site-searching.  Getting up to D2 can be a challenge, but once you do, you can easily ratchet up via skull staff to get stuck again at a D3 mound fiend that your staff boosts to D4.  The most common ways past this are probably death pretenders, using a ring of sorcery (and/or its big brother, the ring of wizardry), high-level blood summons, or, worst-case, empowerment.  If you use a ring to get to D5, Skullface and Lichcraft then each ratchet up yet another level, getting you to the much-coveted D7, required for summoning Tartarians.

Earth Edit

Feet: Earth Boots(Lev4) E2 --> +1E Misc: Blood Stone(Lev4) E2B3 --> +1E 2hand:  Staff of Elemental Mastery(Lev6) F4W4 --> +1 A+F+W+E 2hand:  Staff of Elemental Mastery(Lev6) A4E4 --> +1 A+F+W+E 2hand:  Sword of Many Colors(Unique) E4S3 --> +1 A+F+W+E
Armor: Pebble Skin Suit(Unique) E1B4 --> +1E Misc: Tome of Gaia(Unique) E2N2 --> +1E +1N Misc: Atlas of Creation(Unique) E5S5 --> +1E +1N+1S

Indy Bear Tribe Shaman --> N1?0 (10% chance of E1) Awaken Treelord (Ench. 7 or is it Conj 8?) N5 and 35 gems --> N4?1 (N/B/E) big but immobile, misc slots only Summon Spectre(Conj 6) D3 and 22 gems --> D1?2 (from S/D/E/W) on a 27HP ethereal chilly life-drainer Troll King's Court E3 and 55 gems --> E3 solid troll plus army Hidden in Snow(Ench. 6) W3D1 and 75 gems --> D1?4 (2 x 50% D, 3 x 50% of E, 3 x 50% of W) with army Hidden Underneath(Ench. 6) E3D1 and 75 gems --> E1D2 (separate 50% chances at each of +1E/+1E/+1S/+1S/+1D) with army Bind Demon Lord(Blood 9) B8 and 155 slaves --> 1 of the 6 is F4E4B4 (*Heretic 5) Djinn(via unique Magic Lamp) F4A4 --> F5A5E3S3 that is unsummoned whenever anyone rebuilds lamp

Indy bear-tribe shamans offer a chance at E1 and often are the easiest route into earth. Other plausible routes include various sites that aren’t too rare or gambling with hidden in snow (req W3D1) and/or summoned spectres (req D3) which have a 7/16 chance of being at least E1, including the 1/16th that have E2.  Once you get E2, you can ratchet through earth boots to get stuck at an E3 Troll King boosted to E4.  (Earth boots on an E2 also allow the extremely useful dwarven hammer.)  To get above E4, you can resort to empowerment or find a hybrid mage who can produce one of the other boosters. That puts you in position to summon kings of elemental earth, but since they can’t wear boots they don’t help you ratchet further.  Fortunately E5 is enough for most things you really want to do.  Since earth magic provides a very useful blessing, and since being unable to make dwarven hammers often leaves you at great disadvantage, pretenders are often built with enough earth magic that boosting won’t be an issue.

Fire Edit

Misc: Skull of Fire(Lev6) F1D1 --> +1F Head: Flame Helmet(Lev4) F4 --> +1F 2hand:  Staff of Elemental Mastery(Lev6) F4W4 --> +1 A+F+W+E 2hand:  Staff of Elemental Mastery(Lev6) A4E4 --> +1 A+F+W+E 2hand:  Sword of Many Colors(Unique) E4S3 --> +1 A+F+W+E
Misc: The Forbidden Light(Unique) F4S4 --> +2F+2S Misc: The Staff from the Sun(Unique) F5S1 --> +1F Misc: The Ruby Eye(Unique) F3  --> +1F *cannot be removed

Indy Garnet Sorceress (rare) --> F1B1(10% chance of +1B) Hidden in Sand(Ench. 6) E3D1 and 75 gems --> E1D2H2 (100% +2F/E/S, 50% +1D, 50% +1F) with army Bind Arch Devil(Blood 7) B4F2 and 99 slaves --> most have F4; one of the five has F3S3; all solid combatants Bind Heliophagus(Blood 8 ) B5 and 111 slaves --> 1 of the 4 has F4B3 Bind Demon Lord(Blood 9) B8 and 155 slaves --> 5 of the 6 have at least F4 Djinn(via unique Magic Lamp) F4A4 --> F5A5E3S3 that is unsummoned whenever anyone rebuilds lamp

Fire is one of the hardest paths to break into, and one of the hardest paths to boost once you do break in.  If you’re lucky, you’ll have some multi-color mages with high enough paths to forge one of the weird boosters, or you’ll win the race to high-level blood summons that get you into fire in a big way.  Without those, you’ll likely struggle.  Fortunately high-level fire usually isn’t all that essential. 

Holy Edit

Naming someone as prophet --> +1H if already at 3H or higher, otherwise --> exactly 3H
   
(goofy trick: once you can name a new prophet, you can Ritual of Rebirth your dead prophet if she’s still in the hall of fame, and then name her reborn mummy as your new prophet to get her up to 4H)

2Hand: Sword of Justice(Unique) F3S3 --> +1H 2Hand: Sword of Injustice(Unique) D4 --> +1H 1Hand: Immaculate Shield(Unique) F3S2 --> +1H

Telestic Animation(Thaum. 5) S3 and 5 pearls --> H2 immobile Summon Mound Fiend(Conj. 7) D3 and 28 gems --> D3H2 body very similar to spectre Hidden in Sand(Ench. 6) E3D1 and 75 gems --> E1D2H2 (100% +2F/E/S, 50% +1D, 50% +1F) with army Bind Ice Devil B3W3 and 88 slaves --> 1 of the 6 is W3H3

Holy isn’t really a full-fledged magic path, and its boosters are mere unique curiosities. 

Nature Edit

Hand: Thistle Mace(Lev4) N2 --> +1N Armor: Armor of Twisting Thorns(Lev4) B3N2 --> +1N *cannot be removed Misc: Moonvine Bracelet(Lev6) N3S1 --> +1N 2Hand: Treelord's Staff(Lev6) N6 --> +2N Misc:  Ring of Sorcery(Lev6) S7 --> +1 S+B+N+D Misc: Tome of Gaia(Unique) E2N2 --> +1E +1N Misc: Atlas of Creation(Unique) E5S5 --> +1E +1N+1S

Awaken Ivy King(Conj. 7) N4 and 30 gems -->N3 with 63HP and regeneration, otherwise unimpressive Awaken Treelord (Ench. 7) N5 and 35 gems --> N4?1 (N/B/E) big but immobile Contact Lamia Queen(Conj. 6) N5D2 and 25 gems --> D2N1?2 (100% chances of BDNW) on sizable regenerator Contact Naiad(Conj. 5) W3N1 and 35 gems --> W3N3 homesick human with awe, can lead troops underwater Forest Troll Tribe(Conj. 6) N3 and 40 gems --> N2D1 troll with army of trolls [D1 according to manual. confirm?] Faerie Court (Conj. 8 ) N5 and 40 gems --> A3N3 15 HP flyer, comes with and can summon sprites Call the Worm that Walks (Thaum. 8 ) N5 and 30 gems --> N4 Bind Demon Lord(Blood 9) B8 and 155 slaves --> 2 of the 6 have N4

Indy N1 mages are ubiquitous for early searching, and even N2 boosts only to N3.  One typical route to higher levels is through water, using an indy jade sorceress to summon a W3N3 naiad, who boosts to N4 and can summon Ivy Kings who also boost to N4.  Items provide other potential routes up if you’re lucky enough to have a mage with the right path combinations. N9 is often a strong bless for sacred units, mages and/or thugs wearing a shroud, so your pretender may well solve nature boosting for you.

Water Edit

Armor: Robe of the Sea(Lev4) W3 --> +1W Misc: Water Bracelet(Lev6) W1 --> +1W 2hand:  Staff of Elemental Mastery(Lev6) F4W4 --> +1 A+F+W+E 2hand:  Staff of Elemental Mastery(Lev6) A4E4 --> +1 A+F+W+E 2hand:  Sword of Many Colors(Unique) E4S3 --> +1 A+F+W+E
Misc: Orb of Atlantis(Unique) W4E1 --> +1W 2Hand: Trident from Beyond(Unique) W3S2 --> +1W

Indy Jade Sorceress --> N1W1?0 (25% chances of WEDN) Summon Spectre(Conj 6) D3 and 22 gems --> D1?2 (from S/D/E/W) on a 27HP ethereal chilly life-drainer Contact Lamia Queen(Conj. 6) N5D2 and 25 gems --> D2N1?2 (100% chances of BDNW) on sizable regenerator Contact Naiad(Conj. 5) W3N1 and 35 gems --> W3N3 homesick human with awe, can lead troops underwater Hidden in Snow(Ench. 6) W3D1 and 75 gems --> about one D1?4 (2 x 50% D, 3 x 50% of E, 3 x 50% of W) with army Bind Ice Devil(Blood 6) B3W3 and 88 slaves --> { W3S2/W3H3/W3/W2/W3/W3 } all solid combatants Sea King's Court W3 and 55 gems --> W3 solid regenerating troll mage, plus army (with high upkeep) Streams from Hades(Conj. 6) W4D1 and 40 gems --> W3D3
Queen of Elemental Water W5 and 50 gems --> W4 *must be cast underwater

Water is one of the easiest paths to boost, thanks largely to the wonderfully cheap water bracelet.  To get the next booster, you need a mage that is innately W2.  You sometimes find sites that let you recruit these, or with patience, you can wait for 1 in 16 indy jade sorceresses, spectres or lamia queens.  These all are quite useful in their own right, so it’s usually not too painful waiting for W2 to pop up.  If you’re in a hurry, there’s always empowerment, which might well cost fewer gems in the end, but wouldn’t give you any extra mages or thugs along the way.  Once someone is born with W2, you can easily ratchet up via water bracelet, robe of the sea and sea kings to get to elemental queens. 

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