Combat is what happens when two discovered enemy forces occupy the same location on the map. If one force or both forces are undiscovered, no combat will occur. Thus, a stealthy force may move right through an enemy and not trigger combat. Thus, both forces are not discovered. Two forces which are both discovered may occupy the same province, but one might be in a fortress which has not yet been breached. In this case, the forces are in different locations (one in the fort, the other besieging in the province). When one army is in a fort and one army besieging, the province is owned by the besieging player and the fort is owned by the besieged. This situation is known as partial ownership of the province. When the same player owns both fort and province, the situation is known as full ownership. Full and partial ownership of a province have certain effects in-game (e.g. some events cannot happen in a partially owned province because they require full ownership as a precondition to happening).
Once combat occurs, units move according to their tactical movement allowance on a grid placed over the map. You can toggle this grid by hitting the [g] key or the [w] key.
Players can find battles overwhelming. This is easy to do if you try to follow every swing of every weapon. It's not necessary.
It is important to understand that battles in Dominions are not fought to the death. They are fought until one side loses its nerve and routs. As will be explained in the section to follow, routing is based on losses and morale. This allows small units of elite troops to hold off masses of undisciplined barbarians.
Here are some basic points to understand about combat. Details will be discussed later on in this section.
- Units are deployed on the battlefield corresponding to the Army Setup screen under Position squads.
- The attacker is on the left, the defender on the right.
- Units move across the battlefield in accordance with the instructions in <set battle orders>
- When units move adjacent to an enemy, they halt due to a "zone of control"
- Once units are adjacent, they attack each other every turn.
- The chance of scoring a hit in melee depends on the difference between attack and defense values
- The chance of scoring a hit with missile weapons depends on the number of units in square the missile hits, and how good the target's shield is (if it has one).
- The chance of doing damage after scoring a hit depends on the attacker's strength and weapon damage versus the defender's protection.
- Magic in combat works a lot like missile weapons
- Morale is calculated for each squad. A squad takes a morale check when it suffers enough casualties.
- A squad routs when it fails a morale check.
- Battles are fought until one side routs off the map: the other side is said to have won the battle
- Troops will rout when all of their commanders have been killed or routed.
The entire army will rout when their side loses 75% of its total hit points
So if you kill or rout all of an army's commanders, the whole army will rout. It does not matter how big it is. The biggest army in the universe (of Dominions) will rout if it is led by a single commander, and he is killed or routed.
(For this reason, there is no "attack commanders" order. You will have to figure out how best to do this yourself!)
Battles View Edit
When you get a report on a battle, you can click on the message “There was a battle in <province name>”. This gives you the battle summary with the casualty lists. Clicking the “View battle” text will take you into the battle replay.
The battles in Dominions are actually very detailed tactical resolutions fought at the level of the individual fighters, mages, and priests. Each unit has its own equipment and abilities. They move and fight according to these parameters, according to the battle sequence, first one side and then the other, over a series of turns. When you watch the battle replay, you can see what happened with various degrees of detail. There is a box in the upper left which describes the action. You can change the level of detail in this box by hitting the number keys:  for least detail,  for more detail, and  for most detail.
Battle Sequence Edit
When combat is started, the attacker is placed on the left side of the screen and the defender on the right. All units are placed on the battlefield according to their setup. They will then proceed to follow whatever orders they have been given (attack, cast spells) until they rout or the battle ends.
Battles are conducted in turns, during which a single side performs the following actions in order.
- Mages cast spells.
- Missile units fire missiles.
- Units move.
- Melee combat occurs.
Melee combat is the act of one combatant (soldier, priest, monster, or divine being) physically striking another combatant in some way. At its heart, it is very simple.
The attacker makes an attack roll. The defender makes a defense roll. These are compared. If the attack roll (with modifiers) is greater than the defense roll, it hits. If not, it misses. The attack and defense rolls are modified by a random number (which is added) and a fatigue penalty (which is subtracted). The defense roll can also be modified by a multiple attack penalty, which is what happens when a single unit is attacked by more than one enemy in the course of a single combat round. This is 2 per attack after the first one, so if a unit is attacked by a second unit during a combat round, it suffers a -2 penalty to its roll. If it is attacked by a third unit, it suffers a -4 penalty, and so on.
- Attack roll: attacker's Attack attribute + DRN - Fatigue penalty
- Defense roll: defender's Defense value + DRN - Fatigue penalty - multiple attack penalty
Once a hit is scored, a similar calculation is done to determine how much damage is done. This involves the attacker's damage roll minus the defender's protection roll.
- Damage roll: attacker's Strength attribute + weapon Damage attribute + DRN
- Protection roll: defender's Protection attribute + DRN (+ shield Protection if it is a "shield hit")
If the defender has a shield, the hit is a shield hit unless the attack beats the combined value of the target's defense and the shield's Parry value plus the random roll. If a hit is scored as a shield hit, the shield's Protection is added to the defender's protection roll.
Example: A Heavy Infantry unit has a broad sword, chain mail hauberk, half helmet and shield. It has a base defense of 10, gets a defense bonus of +1 from the sword, a defense penalty of -2 from the armor, and a defense penalty from the shield of -1. The shield's Parry value is 4. The actual defense is 10 +1 -2 -1 = 8. With the shield's Parry value, the unit's total defense is 12.
The Heavy Infantry is attacked by a Vanjarl of Vanheim, which has attack 14. Neither unit has any fatigue yet. The Vanjarl rolls a 6, for a total attack value of 20. If the Heavy Infantry rolls a 7 or less, it is a clean hit and the shield offers no protection. If the Heavy Infantry rolls an 8 through 11, the Vanjarl scores a shield hit and the Heavy Infantry can use its shield's protection value in the damage calculation. If the Heavy Infantry rolls a 12 or higher, the Vanjarl misses entirely.
The Protection value used is the target's listed Protection value, unless it is a head hit. In case of a headshot, the target's helmet Protection value is used instead of the main Protection value. However, if it is a shield hit, the shield Protection is still added. The blow is assumed to have glanced off the shield and hit the target in the head.
If the damage roll is greater than the protection roll, the difference is subtracted from the target's hit points. If the protection roll is equal to or greater than the damage roll, there is no effect.
==== Hit Locations ==== Dominions 4 uses anatomical locations to determine where an adversary was struck. An attack has a 50% chance of striking the adversary in the torso, 20% chance to strike the arms, 20% chance to strike the legs, and 10% chance to strike the head. Certain hits can cause afflictions, such as losing a limb. If someone loses a limb, it will be the one which was hit. This can be an arm, leg, or head. Losing your head is usually instant death, but this is not always true, for example in the case of undead and certain kinds of regenerating monsters, or those with multiple heads. Other types of afflictions include losing an eye, which can only happen on a head hit.
In order to score a hit on a certain part of the body, however, the attacker must be able to reach it. To score a head hit, attacker size + weapon length must be equal to target size. This requirement is one less to hit the torso and two less to hit the arms. Thus a human (size 2) wielding a mace (length 1) could hit a size-6 creature only in the legs!
Weapon types Edit
Melee weapons in Dominions 4 come in three different types: slashing, piercing, and blunt. Each type has different effects when calculating damage. These are all calculated after the Damage vs. Protection calculation above, except for Piercing weapons which reduce Protection prior to the calculation.
Blunt weapons do double damage when scoring head hits after the Protection value is deducted. They score normal damage against other parts of the body.
Slashing weapons do 25% more damage after Protection is deducted.
Piercing weapons reduce Protection by 20% prior to any calculation. This is the same mechanic as the Armor-Piercing ability, except that Armor-Piercing reduces Protection by 50%.
Underwater effects: slashing and blunt weapons have an attack penalty equal to weapon length underwater, while piercing weapons do not. If a weapon does both piercing damage as well as another type, the underwater penalty is halved.
A weapon may be able to inflict more than one type of damage. If so, it has an equal chance of doing each type of damage, but will only do one of them during that attack. For example, the short sword does both slashing and piercing damage. It has a 50% chance of doing one of these. If it does not do piercing, it will do slashing, but never both.
Note that these weapon types apply to all sorts of weapons, not just maces, swords, and spears. A spider's venomous fangs can do piercing damage, for example.
In addition, weapons may have additional special effects, such as fire, cold, or magic.
Damage is displayed in red numbers above the unit that suffered the damage. This can be very helpful in determining the effectiveness of your units and tactics.
Multiple Attack Penalty Edit
Multiple attack penalty A unit will have its defense reduced by two for every time it is attacked in a turn. Thus, swarming high-defense units with multiple attacks is an effective way of overcoming their advantage.
Fatigue is affected by a unit’s encumbrance value. The more encumbered it is, the more fatigued it will become during combat. For every round in which the unit attacks, it gains Fatigue equal to its current Encumbrance value. Units with quickness effectively get two rounds worth of actions and will generate fatigue twice as quickly if they use both rounds to attack. Fatigue affects units as follows.
Defense penalty for fatigue For each 10 points of fatigue (rounded down) a unit has its defense reduced by 1.
Attack penalty for fatigue For each 20 points of fatigue (rounded down) a unit has its attack reduced by 1.
Critical hit due to fatigue Each time a hit is scored, a DRN is made to check for a critical hit and the unit’s Fatigue / 15 is subtracted. If the DRN is less than 3, a critical hit is scored and the defender’s protection values are all reduced by half.
Unconsciousness A unit falls unconscious when it reaches 100 fatigue. Each turn it is unconscious it regains 5 fatigue until it become conscious again (i.e. fatigue drops below 100). A unit with 200 fatigue starts to take hit point damage from exhaustion instead of fatigue when additional fatigue damage is taken.
Note that it is very hard to score a critical hit on an unfatigued unit while a unit that has a fatigue of 60 will suffer a critical hit about one of every four times it takes a hit.
Repel is how Dominions represents the effectiveness of long weapons, such as halberds, pikes, and the like. If a unit attacks an enemy who has a longer weapon than the attacker, the defender may actually repel the attack and prevent it from happening. This occurs as follows:
Any defender that has a longer weapon than the one used by its attacker makes a repel attack automatically upon being attacked. The attacker makes a defense roll. Every defender in the attacked square gets to make a Repel attempt against this defense roll (using their Attack) if their weapon length is greater than the attacker's weapon length. Every repel attempt adds one to the required weapon length for repelling.
If the result is a hit, the attacker must make a morale check against 10, with modifiers as below:
- Attacker: morale + DRN + (attacker size - repeller size)
- Defender: 10 + DRN + (the number by which the defender won the Repel attack) / 2
If the attacker fails this roll, he must immediately abort his attack. If the attacker passes the morale check, he may make his attack, but the defender’s attack then generates damage and protection rolls. If damage is inflicted, the attacker takes one point of damage and finishes his attack. In the rare case of a defender with multiple long weapons there are separate rolls for each weapon.
This simulates the defender successfully placing his longer weapon between himself and the attacker. All of this occurs before the attacker’s strike is resolved. Note that units with low morale are more likely to be repelled, and thus using long weapons against low-morale troops is very effective. It also means that elite units, the undead, or units that go berserk are a very effective counter to units that repel. Also, units with claws and bites (weapon length zero) are marginally easier to repel.
A unit gets -2 to its Repel roll for each time it has been attacked that turn. So it’s easier to repel the first attack than the second, and so on.
- Strategy using repel Your offensive skill is effectively your repel skill, meaning your offense can be your defense. Repellers make great defenders, so it's not a bad idea to invest in a bit of armor for them. Fear reduces enemy morale, so it's a good buff to have for repelling to be more effective. Repellers are better the more of them you can fit in a square, so smaller units are ideal. Larger units usually aren't the best for repelling, as they're often outnumbered, as well as for a slew of other reasons. There's not much value in having a huge difference in the length of the weapon, so you usually only need to be 1 or 2 above.
- Strategy vs repel Your defensive skill is your anti-repel skill, so if you want to counter repel, use high defense skill elite units. Having little armor might also be effective, as it is better for defensive skill and long weapons are usually piercing, which isn't as valuable vs low armor units. Just make sure it doesn't have super low morale. Maxing your morale and size can often be the best way to win against repel, that means using morale buffs, berserk units, elites, undead, or giants. Units that use weapons that have multiple attacks, or that can use multiple weapons are good counters too, as it's harder to repel multiple times. If none of these are an option, just match the length of their weapons with long weapons of your own.
Multiple Attacks Edit
Some units have multiple attacks. This may be due to multiple weapons, or just multiple methods of attack like biting, clawing, or many tentacles.
Multiple Weapons Edit
Attackers with multiple weapons have their attack skill reduced by the sum of their weapon lengths. Thus, it is much easier to fight with two daggers than with two swords. The Ambidextrous ability reduces this penalty by the amount of the Ambidextrous skill. Some weapons are considered intrinsic to a unit and do not cause multiple weapon penalties for the attacker. These are called bonus weapons. For example, the charioteers of Arcoscephale have both a spear and a shortsword, but because the spear is a bonus weapon (different from a normal spear) because it is wielded by the second man on the chariot while the driver fights with a short sword.
Missile Combat Edit
Missile combat is different from melee combat in that it doesn’t use defense values. Instead, the game determines which square a missile hits, depending on a unit’s Precision, and the range of the attack. If there are units in the square, they may be hit, whether they are friendly or enemy. Missiles can’t distinguish friend from foe.
If the range from attacker to target is greater than Precision/2 – 2 (half the Precision, minus 2) then the missile will deviate from the target. The amount of deviation is equal to the range x 1.25 / Precision.
The game will randomly determine whether the missiles deviate long or short, left or right, or some combination. The actual distribution is a bell curve – most projectiles will fall within the middle of the deviation range, but some will land at the extremes.
Once the game decides where a missile lands (even if it is far away, that square is affected), there is a hit calculation that uses the following values:
- Attacker: DRN + (Size points in the square) +2 if magic weapon
- Defender: 2 + DRN + (shield parry value x2) – (Fatigue / 20)
If the attacker’s roll is greater than the defender’s then a hit is achieved. Damage is calculated identically to melee combat (see above). However, note that most missile weapons are listed as “strength not added,” meaning that only the weapon damage value (plus a random number) are considered. Crossbows and some other weapons are armor-piercing, meaning that only half of the defender’s Protection value is used. Some spells can even be “armor-negating,” which means that armor affords no protection. Lightning spells are armor-negating. Fire spells are armor-piercing.
Precision values greater than 10 count double for the amount above 10. Thus, a Precision value of 12 is actually calculated as Precision 14.
Thus, the more units in a square, or the bigger the units in a square, and the more tired they are, the more likely someone is going to be hit by a missile weapon landing in that square.
While it may seem that missile units can’t shoot very far without having their shots deviate hopelessly, in practice massed units can deal severe damage to an enemy simply due to the number of projectiles in the air. Everything that goes up has to come down somewhere!
Note: Unlike in Dominions 3, missiles can now cause shield hits. Previously all missiles were deflected if they hit the shield, but now the shield is simply treated as Protection, just like in melee combat.