Have you ever tried board games such as Warhammer or Confrontation ?
Now forget everything and take characters inspired of mythology/legends and stories from the whole world, a huge variety of units (with 3 new factions, the game has more than 1000 different units!!!!) and a deep turn based strategy... and you have Dominions 4: Thrones of Ascension.
Behind its aspect rought around the edges, Dominion is an extraordinary game capable to be a true competitor against table games such as Warhammer and others.
You start by choosing a culture and a pretender god. This character will lead your faction through the game and keeping him alive is extremely important even if you can bring him back after a while. You can customize his appearance (around 20 skins per faction) and his skills to suit your gameplay: Will you be a terrible fighter relying on massiv armies, a talented spell caster focused on searching and summoning powerfull spells or maybe the both and wait few turns until he awakes from his dormant state ?
Dominion is a turn based strategy game where you, the pretender god, have to exterminate every other factions or sit on one of the Thrones of Ascension to reach a new plane of existence and became the god above all other pretender gods.
You start with a main fortress with different bonus and buildings depending on what kind of faction you have choosen.
As an example my favourite faction is R'yleh: Fallen star, inspired of Lovecraft's Cthulhu, this faction has a portal named the "Void gate" where you can try to summon new creatures by using a competent summoner.
Even if you can get some of the most dangerous units of the game, the void gate can bring hostile monsters capable to kill your wizards.
Like for every factions, everything has its price, thinking and planning carefully are keys for victory.
All factions are different and quite a lot of them forces you to learn an other way to play the game.
As an example R'yleh is mainly based on brainwashed magical units and when you need to use humans or humanoid troops, you will be forced to get new commanders and divide your army because magic beeings can only be lead by a magical commander.
Add to that the moral and the supplies your army needs wich can affect their health or worst, to be more encline to fail against the enemy dominion and run away.
Dominion is an other great aspect of the game. It represents the spread of the culture and the religion of your faction.
Each pretender god can boost its dominion to give malus to the enemy or bonus to his land.
And it's where the game is clever because quite early you will have to choose if you rush into the battle with spells or try to stay back and research in new magical disciplines to summon many things or affect enemy dominion, ect....
The game is quite open and give you the ability to enjoy quite a lot of strategies. The A.I is really powerfull and has always, ALWAYS, a way to get the upper hand.
The screenshots you see on the store page are the recordings of some battles.
As a turn-based strategy game, you have to plan everything, from the spell your wizards will cast in the battle, to the actions/ movements your squads will do.
You can even choose a formation with bonus and malus. Will you trample the infantry and rush to these coward archers ? Or let you wizards/ range units rain hell upon enemy heroes ?
There are plenty ways to manage fights even if you can't act during them.
But be ware ! You can enable events wich can affect you on every tiles of the map or everybody and sometimes things turns really bad...
The most important aspect in Dominion is magic wich is related to an enormous tree of research.
You can summon creatures, structures, cast world wide spells, teleport your units, bless and give tons of abilities to your troops such as invisibility, the gift of underwater breathing or flying, ect...
You can even forge magical items to give to your commanders !
Every spells must but prepared and choosed before each fights or you can let your commander decide but you won't get all the subtleties of magic.
Each school of magic is related to a mana gem that you can gather on the map or with special events. Some kind of currency between your units, you have to manage and give them to you commanders before they go to war. The more you have the better, some schools of magic need slaves for sacrifices and of course give powerfull spells but reduces the stability and the population of your regions. Some factions are even unable to recruit units with gold, so you will have to spare mana gems for the invocation of new troops or commanders !
But i will stop here for the gameplay because nobody can deal about every aspects in a review.
This game is unforgivable and has a slow paced learning curve as many said the game manual has 400 pages...
400 PAGES ! (Thanks to Niky 45 because I was wrong about the number of pages)
So you understand why it can be so hard to talk about everything this game has to offer ^^
As an example my last game session: after few hours (22 hours !!) of fail attempts to master Ry'leth and the map i've choosed (the game has quite a ot of maps with different strategies, to master one is allready a prowess...), I was beaten by and army from a corner of the map (hate thoses war elephants !!!) capable to trample my best commanders and units and with spells I've never seen before !
I had an army of arround 2000 or 3000 units and Ry'leth has covered about 2 tiers of the world after having slain 6 pretender gods.
My pretender god, Kraahaul the Void Lord, died in a miserable fight against this suddent powerfull new enemy...
And you know what ? I want more !
Even if you can't build much structures ( only labs, temples and 3 types of castles with their upgrades) and affect your population ( a research tree about the dominion itselft would have been great), or use diplomatic skills between factions (you are at war with everybody) this game is really good.
In fact the perfect strategy game would be a mixt of Dominion, Total War and Warhammer.
I hope to see the day when this kind of game will come !
If you are not scared about a very hard/deep strategy game and simple graphics try Dominion 4: Throne of Ascension.
You won't be disapointed...
And i put you to the test to master R'yleh: Fallen star and spread the void and the tentacles of the Starspawns on all over the world !
This is why i love this game ^^
N.B: i've forgot, this game has a multiplayer. Yeah i know i'm a coward... because i haven't tried it !
Dominions 4: Thrones of Ascension is a game for men, be ware !