Sep 12, 2013This 0/10 is for putting this game up for sale on stem for 19 euro 8 years after its original release.
Price aside this game deserves to be a 4/10 in 2013. Graphics and sound would have been good 20 years ago. Strategic gameplay is maybe the deepest of any computer game ever made, but/and also entirely unbalanced, unforgiving and uncompromisingly hard. This is to say, you need to know exactly what you're doing at every point in the game or you'll just suddenly die (no matter how well you seem to be doing) and have to start over (or find another game if doing multiplayer). There is no save. While this caters to the target audience perfectly (this game is 10/10 if spending about a year full-time, studying its every little nuance, appeals to you), but makes it a less than good game objectively.
The fantasy themes are very well presented, and the best part of the game is how it lets to create The Lion or The Witch of Narnia, or Gandalf or Sauron, or a DnD Lich-King, or a Titan of the Greek Mythologies or just about any classic powerful being as a pretender to godhood. No other game on any media have been able to mix a fraction of the themes or come as close to portraying them as well as Illwinter. They also deserve kudos for being Indie before the concept was concieved. I wish Illwinter good luck with the upcoming Dominions 4, but if you're curios about this game you should find another way of procuring it other than buying it. Illwinter does not deserve your money, demanding what is full-price for a brand new top-notch indie game for an 8-year old indie w 20y-old graphics w an extremely narrow target audience.… Expand
Nov 18, 2012Let me start by saying that I love strategy games. Civ Series, MOO, MoM, GalCiv, Distant Worlds... the list goes on. However, I hate this game. That's right, I hate it. I will focus on what I dislike about it so that other players can get an idea before buying this game. If you want to get a better summary of the good aspects, read one of the other positive reviews :)
First off, if you are good at single player strategy games, the single player will be of little challenge to you here. You'll have to play play-by-email multiplayer games (or find skirmish games online). Play-by-email games will last quite some time (months) so be prepared for such things. I'm not a huge fan of this but I got used to it. However, if you don't have the patient for such things, it would be in your best interest to stay away.
Now, on to what I really dislike.
This game has so much depth to it that, as others have put, the strategies are endless. However, the mechanics of this game are nowhere near the level they need to be. To put it simply, you lack sufficient control over your units and will find a good part of the game will be to just get your units (especially mages) to simply do what you want them to do... and then get frustrated when they do something stupid.
You see, the battles are totally out of your control. You give your units orders and then watch the battles unfold in the next turn. You can give your mages, and units, commands but they are very limited. In the early game, this isn't a major issue. But, in the mid to late game, where mages become very important, the fact that you lack good control over mages becomes a huge issue.
You can only give commanders 5 orders total. After that, the unit is totally under AI control. Not only that but, if the unit can't perform what you want it to, they may do something reckless or otherwise stupid - sometimes even costing you the unit or gems (which you use to cast spells, more or less). When multiple units do such things, they can even cost you the battle. So, a huge part of the game becomes simply getting your units to do what you want them to. Does this sound interesting to you? It definitely was not fun for me - especially when you invest a good amount of time (late game, when your armies become gigantic - even an hour or more) programming your units to only find them not do what you want. There's not even a simple command for a mage to cast one spell and do it continuously. Or to not cast certain spells.
I could go on about other AI issues that annoy me to know end but I'll end it there.
My next major gripe is the way that Super Combatants, so called SCs, work in this game. Once you get into the later part of the game, you can start creating powerful items for these large, powerful units. The problem is, they become so powerful that they can take on entire armies! Even an army composed of high level summonable units which, from my point of view, should be able to stand up to them! Swarming will not work even in the least bit! So, you must rely on mages. However, these SCs will have items that are resistant to certain magic types. So, only certain magic spells will really work on them.
But, wait, didn't I just say that you have little control over your mages and that they are very difficult to program to get to do what you want? Now you see where further frustration comes in.
Also, in regards to strategies with these SCs, they will absolutely destroy entire armies but, get the right spells in, and you may take them out before they can do anything. One good spell, with some luck, can take out an SC with one hit or even charm it to your side.
To sum it up, you may get strategies that work like this:
Strategy A >>>>> Strategy B
Strategy C >>>>> Strategy A
This can be to the point that, if you aren't adequately prepared to counter something, you may have little or, even, no way of countering it. It also means that these SCs are very important to get and all players aim to get them later in the game. Without them, you are at a major disadvantage.
So, to sum this part up, balance is not in this games best interest.
Finally, I hate the ability that units, and armies, can effortless warp around the map. It destroys the whole idea of fronts, which all strategy games have. What fun is it when a unit, or army, can appear anywhere on the map at any time? There's no way of countering this as you can't predict where they will appear; you can only guess.
If the above things do not bother you and you do not mind lacking control over your units, you will most likely find this game to be a great one. However, if you are like me, you will find this game to be an incredibly frustrating experience. I played a good five or six multiplayer games (remember they take months to complete) and I will say that my most recent one will definitely be my last.… Expand
Mar 25, 2013Excellent TBS. Many Options and endless ways to win or lose. Ai is very good but the game is made for Multiplayer. But be warned, if you don't like micromanagement do not try this game If you like to manage every turn every province and you are a fan of old school TBS Dominions 3 is a must have.
Nov 4, 2012This Indie game maybe wasn't quite what I expected, but it was still nonetheless a real treat! It is definitely one of the best fantasy/Tolkien-esque 4X strategy games on the market; up there with Age of Wonders 2. Like most games it's not without its weaknesses though. For one thing the sprite graphics are definitely dated. For another, I was expecting intricate city building, civil and military research on par with the Civilization series, and strong single player diplomacy options. Alas, city building is very lite, diplomacy is basically multiplayer play-by-mail only, and there is no research other than magic. Having said that, the game has the most detailed and well-fleshed out magic research I've ever seen in a game. Further, despite the dated graphics, the 'autopilot' tactical battles (where your armies fight it out according to orders you've given them before the battle) are great fun to watch. I would also add that you have a wide range of choices when it comes to your faction and leader. Be warned though, the 'sandbox' campaigns can be rather long and involved, even on small maps and at easy AI difficulty and aggression settings. In fact my last game was on a small map with five total 'pretenders' and it was a good ten hour game. On the aesthetic side, the Celtic soundtrack with female vocalist is very strong; some of the best game music I've heard in a while. Anyway, I had really wanted to give this game a 9, but I docked it half a point for the dated graphics, lack of single-player diplomatic options, the lite city building, and the lack of non-magic research. Still in all this Indie game is a lot better than more than a few strategy games put out by the big gaming studios with their much greater development resources. If you like fantasy/Tolkien-esque turn-based strategy 'explore, expand, exploit, and exterminate' games, this one is not to be missed.… Expand
Mar 26, 2013I just discovered this gem of a game, and I have to say it's one of the best turn based strategy games I've ever played. The amount of depth in this game is staggering. There are a huge number of nations, units, spells, items, and tactics at a player's disposal. I actually found the UI to be pretty good once you learn the basics, and I didn't find the basics as hard to learn as some folks have suggested. It will take you a very long time to learn to be competitive in multiplayer though. The only negatives about this game that I have found are the dated graphics, and that the AI quite dumb.… Expand
Feb 21, 2013This is a serious game. Probably for TBS, the best out there. It is deeply engrossing. Options endless, strategies endless, highly moddable, dedicated community. The game is richly complex and winnable with literally 100's of strategies. A virtual gold mine of a game from a strategy point of view. A caution, the learning curve is steep. It's not angry birds. Some posters have said that the AI is weak. It can be adjusted, but simply it has too many options which are adaptable and good. I suspect that because there is no "right" choice, the AI can't handle it all. Made even more amusing and complicated is the fact that when you give orders, they may not be obeyed or not play out the way you'd like just like real life. The replay value is not exceeded by any game on the market. Now for the bad. The graphics could use a little work, both in appearance and in a manner that enables one to follow the action a bit better. But graphics are not the main selling point. The point is game play and options, endless options. Also, near the end game, micromanagement becomes a serious issue. It is possible to lose track of where units are going and what they are doing. Perhaps there should be a final destination marker and a way to track what the units are doing in a more trackable way. The organization and tracking need a bit of work and some of the interface rough spots need to be cleaned up. Having said that, it is probably the finest game out there if strategy is what you seek.… Expand
Sep 27, 2013If you are looking for fancy graphics, a gentle learning curve, or a casual strategy gaming experience look elsewhere. If however you want a challenging game with a tremendous amount of depth, content, and attention to detail you have found a real gem. The gameplay experience could be described as unforgiving but success in this game is very rewarding because it requires careful planning and execution. Also, the departure from the "High Fantasy" mythos is refreshing. From Norse and Hindu mythology to Lovecraft's underwater horrors there is so much inspired content it is almost mind-boggling. This is an excellent game!… Expand
But if you're willing to look, there are very few games that show you as much as you'll see here--a nearly infinite variety of rising gods and dying empires and a fat man with a magic belt--and no games that do it with focus, depth, and extraordinary economy of Dominions 3. [Jan. 2007, p.60]