A unit is a soldier, monster, mage, or commander of some sort. Any being that persists on the battlefield is a unit. Every unit has Attributes or stats, and almost every one has Special Abilities to make them unique.
Not all units can lead a combat or move about the world map on their own initiative. The ones who can are called commanders. Only commanders can have magic or equipment, and only commanders can be directed to take specific action on your turn.
Perhaps the most important and varied commanders, a mage is any commander with ranks in one or more paths of magic. Mages are the only units who can research, and the utility of a mage is determined by the amount of research you've completed as well as their inherent properties. Some mages are also priests.
Magic is often the most important factors in the battles of the mid and late game, and an army with limited mage support will almost never defeat one with extensive mage support. Effective battle magic often includes several mages with a few low paths for spells which need many castings to be effective and a few (due to cost and availability) with high paths for spells which effect all units that meet certain criteria. The specifics, however, always depend on what you have available and what your opponents are likely to throw at you.
Forging and RitualsEdit
Mages are the only units to create magical artifacts and to cast ritual spells. You generally want moderately high paths on these mages, and often particular crosspaths, because you want the greatest availability of these options possible. It is not rare for pretenders to be designed with the primary intent of casting specific Global enchantments, as these are often difficult to acquire the paths for otherwise.
All research in Dominions is done by mages. The amount of points of research a mage generates depend on the paths of magic that the mage has access to, granting three points per level plus a base number of seven. Priest levels add to this, but priests cannot research unless they are also mages.
The ideal researcher, generally, is the one which is most gold-efficient. This means the one which gives the highest number of research points per point of gold in the cost. Note that as sacred units have a quarter of the upkeep (relative to recruitment cost) of non-sacred units, a sacred mage may be preferable to an otherwise less efficient mage in the long run, especially in longer games.
One may sometimes choose less efficient researchers, usually for one of the following reasons:
- A small decrease in gold efficiency allows substantially better researchers to be built, increasing the rate at which research rate increases without needing an additional fort
- The most efficient mage is not very useful for other purposes, and a slightly less efficient mage may be drawn upon as a last resort in war.
- The most efficient mage is cap-only, slow to recruit, or otherwise limited.
A priest is a unit with holy magic. All priests are able to bless your sacred units and to banish undead and demons, with higher level priests having access to other spells as well. Holy magic is far less diverse than other paths, but its spells require no research and usually have no fatigue cost. Living priests can preach to provide a chance of spreading your dominion. Undead and demon priests can reanimate the dead. Priests of certain nations – generally major blood powers, but also Marverni — can perform a blood sacrifice to spread dominion.
Troops are units who fight and lend their strength to a commander, but can do nothing on their own. The most fundamental role of troops is to be on the battlefield, and go attack the enemy.
The most basic type of troops, they move up the middle of the field and are expected to give as good as they get in combat with the enemy's front line.
Some troops have no real purpose on the battlefield other than to stand between your back line and the enemy, and die as slowly as possible. If they do some killing, that's a positive but it's not expected of them. You use chaff when you don't have very good front line troops or to tie up cavalry, fliers, and enemy evocation. To properly fill its role, chaff must be cheap above all else.
Cavalry is anything fast and hard-hitting. The classic use of cavalry is to go around the sides of your enemy's chaff to attack their archers and mages.
Some units can fly, which fundamentally changes their tactics. High-morale flying units generally function similarly to cavalry, but rather than going around the enemy, they go over. Flying units with lower morale lack the discipline to do this, and will instead attack units more or less at random as they head towards the enemy's back line. This lets them combine the roles of cavalry and chaff to create an impenetrable quagmire on your enemy's side of the field. They also have their own special formula for charge damage, meaning that the quagmire they create will favor them.
They stand in the back and shoot at your enemy. If they have shitty Precision then they may hurt your front line as much as they hurt the enemy.
Units are necessary to fight and win battles, and can be obtained in several ways.
The most common way to get units for almost all nations is to recruit them in provinces. Mages require a lab to be built in the province, sacred units require a temple, and high-quality military units require a fortress.
Particular rituals can grant units, and this is generally the best way to get the most powerful units. Some summoning spells are available to every nation, but the most powerful and economical are usually nation specific, with the exception of Summon Bane Lord.
Units may simply appear in provinces where a certain condition is met. Most nations do not have access to freespawn but for some it is critical. MA Ermor and LA Lemuria receive freespawn anywhere that they have dominion, and have no other way to mass troops. Pangaea and EA Xibalba have powerful recruitable mages who cause units to freespawn in their presence.
Some groups of units can be temporarily hired using the Mercenary system.
Some nations have priests who may reanimate, bringing the dead to life. Some units, such as werewolves, can Summon Allies, causing other units to gather alongside them each month. This requires commanders to expend their turns to generate more units, but can be quite useful, especially for MA Ermor and Nazca, who can acquire sacred units this way.
Occasionally, a random event will cause a unit to appear. Generally, these events are rare and the units are inconsequential, but this is the only way to get heroes.
Attributes are the stats that make up a unit - its hitpoints, its morale, it's defense, all the numbers on the top half of a unit screen.
- Hit Points: The amount of damage your character can take before dying. This is replenished at the end of each battle. The usual minimum of 0 can be lowered by a major death bless.
- Size: This attribute is displayed when you click on Hit Points. Size determines how many units can be in a single square on the battlefield (a maximum sum of 6 points). It also determines how many supplies a unit needs each turn (Size minus 1).
- Strength: This determines how much damage a unit does when it successfully strikes a target. This number is added to weapon damage and a DRN, and then enemy protection is subtracted from it.
- Attack: This determines the unit’s chances of successfully striking a target with melee weapons. It is added to a DRN and compared to the enemy's defense roll.
- Defense: This determines the unit’s chances of avoiding a strike by melee weapons. It is added to a DRN and compared to the enemy's attack roll.
- Protection: This is the unit’s armor rating. It can be different on different parts of the body, depending on equipment worn or simply the nature of the creature’s hide. These separate values will be shown when you click on Protection.
- Morale: This measures a unit’s likelihood of running from battle.
- Magic Resistance: Think of this as Protection, only against magic. Not all spells have to penetrate Magic Resistance, though.
- Precision: This is how accurate a unit is at range, either with missiles or with magic.
- Encumbrance: A unit will incur Fatigue equal to its Encumbrance on each turn it attacks. Moving — by itself — does not incur this.
- Move: This is two numbers. The first is the number of provinces a unit can move on the world map per turn, assuming no terrain features hinder it. The second is the number of action points a unit has on the tactical map. Action points are used to move and attack. The larger this number, the further a unit can move on the battlefield.
- Fatigue: A unit’s Fatigue causes it to be more susceptible to critical strikes. Once a unit reaches 100 fatigue, it becomes unconscious and is unable to attack or defend. A unit at 200 fatigue starts taking regular hit point damage instead of fatigue damage from additional fatigue.
- Age: The first number is the unit’s age in years. The number in parentheses is the age at which the unit will start suffering penalties and become susceptible to afflictions due to old age. This attribute is displayed when you click on Fatigue.
- Leadership: Commanders only. This is the number of units a commander can lead. Clicking on this attribute shows additional leadership abilities or restrictions, such as the ability to lead undead and/or magic beings. A commander can lead 30 undead beings per level of Death magic skill and 5 per level of Blood magic skill he or she has. Magical leadership is determined by indirect magic bonuses (see Indirect Magic chart – not all paths confer the same benefits).