Dominions 3: The Awakening/First Turns
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 The first turn
The first turns are nearly equal for each player:
- Scouting: Move your scout or spy into enemy territory. You want to find the heartland of your enemies fast, so don't attack independent provinces with your scout if it is not necessary. On the way, you may discover useful indie provinces that are home to amazons or druids.
- Probing: Most players will quickly expand into the independent provinces around their capitol. If you have no scouts in a province, however, you may not have good information about what you may face. A probe attack can give you a good preview of an upcoming battle. To execute a simple probe attack, place a cheap commander in the rear of the battlefield and script him to retreat.
- Prophet: Any commander can become a prophet. A Scout prophet has the advantage of stealth, which means you can increase your dominion in enemy-held territory. A priest becomes one level more powerful when made a prophet. Be careful with your prophet early in the game; if you are particularly unlucky and your first temple burns down in a random event, your prophet is the only unit that can build a new temple. It takes six turns after a prophet's death before you can name another.
- Mercenaries: Is an auction going on? Mercenaries can act as quick throw-away troops, and sometimes you can hire a force much more powerful than you can otherwise have early in the game. Only bid if you want attack in the next few turns.
- Recruiting: You usually can recruit your best commanders (like mages) only in your capital while you can get a generic troop leader in every indie province. Some elite troops are also capital-only. Don't spend turns recruiting cheap troops in your capital if not necessary.
- "Blind" attack: It is risky to attack indies without knowing what you will face, but if you trust your combat pretender (preferable an immortal one) enough you can try to win a province while the other players are busy researching.
- Research: If one of your starting commanders or your (awake) pretender has magic skills, you can start researching now.
- Forging: If one of your starting commanders or your (awake) pretender has magic skills and you have enough gems, you can start forging a magic item. Even a cheap armor can make the difference between life and death of a valuable commander.
- Diplomacy: write every human player a message. Keep in mind that every human player is your foe and *will* backstab you (eventually). You are playing to win, after all.
 The second turn
- Intelligence: Make sure to read every combat report and watch the battles. The first border reports from neighboring provinces should come in now. Move your scouts!
- Research Race: You need gold to raise your first army, but don't forget that being out-researched can be a sure way to lose a game. Save money for hiring mages. Examine your available mages, and recruit ones that give you the most research points for their recruit cost. Later in the game, you may find indie sages and loremasters that excel at research.
- Site-searching: Soon you will have your first provinces conquered. All of them are close to your capital, so move some mages or your pretender into this new land and search for magic sites. Assign some mages (ideally with different magic skills) to your main force. While the army waits for fresh troops, let the mages search for magic sites. Later on, you will have researched site-searching spells so that your mages can avoid traveling.
- Supply: Care for your logistic needs now, it may soon be to late. You need nature mages or food-generating magic items to maintain a large army in supply-poor provinces or sieges. Nature mages are very valuable for this reason. Research Construction or find a trade partner.
 The third turn
- Attack: Nobody sits idle in his fortress for more than three turns. If you have not conquered any indie provinces yet, hurry! Your enemies do not sleep.
- Reinforcements: In your new conquered land, recruit simple troops like archers or cheap commanders. Free up your captiol to produce elite troops and mages. Have the cheap commanders lead the reinforcements or pick up stragglers and routed troops.
- Scouts: Most indie provinces have scouts available for recruitment. Pick at least one and make it a rule to produce a scout per turn. You will need lots of scouts; in addition to intelligence gathering, scouts are useful for blood hunting, item/gem transporting, and patrolling. Send them in all directions over the map to locate your enemies, and station one in every indie province around your empire and adjacent to your bordering provinces. Some scouts in enemy provinces will be discovered (and dealt with appropriately), so be sure to have reinforcements available.
- Second castle: Check the map for an ideal place for a second castle. Save money and build your second castle soon.
- Militia: Raise the province defense of conquered provinces at least to one point in order to get automatic combat reports.