Magic is a key component of Dominions. It is one of the main articles of differentiation between nations, and is crucial to success beyond the early game. It is powerful, varied, and pervasive.
Classifications / OverviewEdit
Dominions 4 has eight paths of magic:
Mages will have certain levels of skill in one or more paths; for instance, a Marignon Witch Hunter has Fire 2 Astral 1, while a lich has Death 4. To cast a spell, a mage must have sufficient skill in all of its required paths to cast it. Thus the Marignon Witch Hunter could cast Fireball (requiring Fire 2), but not Astral Fires (requiring Fire 1 Astral 3).
Each path contains many spells, divided into seven schools of magic:
Each school has nine levels; mages set to research will allocate their research points to the schools you choose, and eventually unlock higher levels of magic.
For instance, the spell Blade Wind is an Evocation 4 spell that requires Earth 3 to cast. Once your nation has reached Evocation 4 research, any mage with at least 3 levels in the Earth path can cast Blade Wind.
There are also Holy spells, which are their own path and school, and are exceptions to most general rules.
Each path (other than Blood, which uses Blood Slaves) is associated with a type of magical gem, representing distilled power in that path. These are generated by sites and often from events; during the lategame, they are a more precious resource than gold. Gems have two uses: they can be used during combat by mages to augment their spellcasting (and are a requirement for certain powerful spells), and can be used out of combat by mages to cast rituals.
In combat, gems may do one of three things:
- A mage may use a single gem per turn to increase his level in that path by one. For instance, an Earth 2 mage normally can't cast Blade Wind, but he can if he consumes a single Earth gem.
- A mage may use additional gems to increase his level in that path further, but only for the purposes of reducing the fatigue incurred by spellcasting. For instance, an Earth 3 mage who consumes three earth gems counts as an Earth 6 mage for the purposes of calculating fatigue, but only an Earth 4 mage for determining what spells he can cast.
- Some very powerful spells require gems to cast at all.
A mage may not spend more gems in one turn than his level in the relevant path.
For instance, consider the Alteration 5 spell Maws of the Earth, which requires an Earth 3 caster and 1 earth gem. An Earth 1 mage can't cast this spell at all. An Earth 2 mage can cast it by spending two gems; one to boost to Earth 3, and another for the spell's requirement.
Rituals are out-of-combat spells that consume a mage's turn for the month and some number of gems, and have some significant effect. They may summon creatures, create assassination attempts against enemy commanders, blast armies, or do other things. A subset of rituals are globals, rituals that stay in effect until dispelled and have a game-altering effect.
Magic is the heart of Dominions 4, and the player who uses their nation's mages most effectively has a large advantage. Mages are required to research higher-level spells and to cast spells in combat, so mage count determines both a nation's current and future power. Typically in any successful Dominions game a player will:
- Recruit a great many mages, typically one per fort per turn if gold allows
- Identify key schools to research that contain strong spells of your nation's paths (Fire nations like Evocation, for instance)
- Use these recruitable mages in combat to win battles; an army without magical support will generally be crushed by one with it
- Search for sites to increase gem income
- Forge booster items which increase mages' levels in their paths, unlocking access to more powerful items and spells
- Use these boosted mages to cast the most powerful rituals and battlefield spells
Since a nation's pretender will likely be a very powerful mage in its own right, a high-path pretender can often cast spells unavailable to a nation's mages. (Consider that the strongest spells require 6 to 9 levels in a path, but no nation can reasonably recruit mages with more than 4 in a path, and most nations don't even have these). Typically the most powerful spells and the most versatile booster items are cast and forged by pretenders, with a few exceptions.
When designing a pretender, it is often useful to ask yourself "What rituals would I really like to cast, but I can't with my national mages alone?" For instance, MA Agartha would really like to cast Earth Blood Deep Well, requiring E6, but its national mages only have E4 access. There are three reasonably accessible booster items that boost Earth: Earth Boots (requires Earth 2), Blood Stone (requires Earth 2 Blood 3), and Staff of the Elements (requires Earth 4 Air 4, or Water 4 Fire 4). Agartha can forge Earth Boots, but has no Blood or Air, and no way to get to Water 4 Fire 4.
In order to cast Earth Blood Deep Well, an Agartha player can either take a pretender with Earth 5 or better (who will wear Earth Boots to get to E6), or one capable of forging a Blood Stone or a Staff of the Elements (which can take one of its E4 national mages up to E6 along with Earth Boots).
An individual mage's access to magic depends on his paths. He will have one or more paths each at a given level, and all spells require a certain level in at least one path.
Having a path which exceeds the one required by the spell will decrease the fatigue necessary to cast a spell in combat, and may cause other aspects of the spell to increase, depending on the spell in question.
Indirect Magic represents the arcane knowledge a mage possesses about any magic path in which he has skill, which lets him gain side effects just from being knowledgable in that type of magic. Each path has a small effect on the stats of the unit in addition to access to magic.
- Air: Shock Resistance +2, Magic Leadership +5
- Astral: Magic Leadership +10
- Death: Undead Leadership +30, +1 to existing Fear else Fear +5 at Death 5.
- Earth: Protection +1, Magic Leadership +5
- Fire: Fire Resistance + 2, Leadership +5, Magic Leadership +5, Reduces Max Age
- Nature: Supply Bonus +10, Magic Leadership +5, Poison Resistance +2, Increases Max Age
- Water: Cold Resistance +2, Magic Leadership +5
- Blood: Undead Leadership +5, Magic Leadership +5
Some of these matter more than others. Of particular note, the undead provided by death magic is a key component of undead armies, and the protection provided by earth magic can be used to create an awake expander.
Max age changes are done in 50% increments of the default max age, and depend on the type of creature: undead are affected by Death magic, inanimate creatures by Earth magic, demons by Blood magic and all others by Nature magic, in that order of priority. If your age is affected by Nature magic, every point in fire magic reduces your max age by 5%.
A breakdown of the magical paths available to each nation, and the number of nations with access in a magical path (in parenthesis a number of nations with a maximum access of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5).
These lists do not fully account for summonable units or include random paths with a 10% chance of occurring.
Early Ages Edit
- Fire access: 17 (4, 6, 6, 1)
- Air access: 19 (5, 7, 5, 3)
- Water access: 22 (5, 7, 5, 4, 1)
- Earth access: 25 (7, 6, 8, 4)
- Astral access: 15 (5, 6, 2, 1, 1)
- Death access: 20 (6, 4, 6, 4)
- Nature access: 23 (4, 9, 5, 5)
- Blood access: 11 (1, 4, 5, 1)
Middle Ages Edit
- Fire access: 19 (6, 8, 4, 1)
- Air access: 16 (6, 4, 3, 3)
- Water access: 22 (7, 8, 4, 2, 1)
- Earth access: 23 (7, 7, 8, 1)
- Astral access: 17 (4, 4, 5, 4)
- Death access: 15 (2, 5, 7, 1)
- Nature access: 18 (3, 5, 6, 4)
- Blood access: 6 (0, 4, 1, 1)
Late Ages Edit
- Fire access: 15 (4, 8, 3)
- Air access: 13 (5, 4, 4)
- Water access: 17 (3, 8, 1, 4)
- Earth access: 19 (7, 8, 3, 1)
- Astral access: 21 (3, 13, 4, 1)
- Death access: 18 (3, 8, 5, 2)
- Nature access: 14 (4, 7, 3)
- Blood access: 11 (2, 6, 2, 1)