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Units[edit | edit source]

Units are the heart of Dominions 3: The Awakening. With units you wage ware, conquer provinces, fight battles, forge items, cast spells and win the game. Units can be classified:

  • Units can be either Commanders or Troops
  • Units can be either recruited or summoned
  • Units can be either stealth or non-stealth
  • Units can be either national or independent

Commanders[edit | edit source]

Commanders are different in some ways from other units:

  • Only commanders can wear Magic Items.
  • Only commanders can lead other troops (if the commander has the right leadership skill).
  • Only commanders can cast spells, build buildings or search for/ enter into Magic Sites.
  • Only commanders can increase unrest or perform Assassinations.
  • Only one recruitable commander can be recruited per province per turn.

Armies can only move when they are led by a commander. Commanders have different leadership ratings, which determine how many units they can control. Commanders can be classified into priests, mages, or generals. Right-click on them to get all their vital details.

Some commanders have the Stealth skill and serve in different roles such as scouts, spies, or assassins. A high value at the stealth skill means a better chance of infiltrating enemy provinces without becoming detected. Scouts provide basic information on enemy assets, while spies provide more detailed information and can raise unrest. Assassins provide the option of attacking one random commander per turn -- and his bodyguards. Scouts, spies, and assassins rarely have the skills necessary to lead other troops. All face the risk of detection and attack by enemy patrols.

Commanders are often referred to by their main role, like Mage, Priest, Scout, Spy, Assassin, Prophet and Pretender. Common roles for Commanders are also Thug and Super Combatant (SC).

Troops[edit | edit source]

There are a vast amount of different kinds of troops, units and creatures in Dominions 3 but they all have something in common. Troops require a commander with appropriate type of Leadership to lead them -- standard, magical, or undead/demon. Troops cannot move around on their own. Recruitable troops can be recruited in great amounts per turn unlike commanders who can only be recruited at pace of one commander per province per turn. Troops also cannot wield magic weapons forged by mages.

Troops have a money and resource cost. Money is permanently reduced from your treasure but resource act more as a limit to how many troops you can build in a province. Every province has it's own resource value. Resource value can change over time but it does not accumulate over turn. So a province with 22 resources in turn 1 won't have 44 resource in turn 2. Resources are replenished at the start of every turn. Troops also cost maintenance for as long as they live.

Sacred units also use the "Holy" that is shown in the recruitment screen. "Holy" equals the level of your Dominion in the province and you can only recruit a number of sacred units equal to the level of "Holy" in the province. "Holy" acts like resources.

Land nations cannot expect to be able to recruit their national units underwater; they will not even be able to construct castles there without the aid of magic. On land, underwater nations may build castles, but will have very limited national troop recruitment regardless.

Unit types[edit | edit source]

Most units can be categorized into different roles that those units play on the battlefield:

Fodder[edit | edit source]

Also called Damage Soaker, Meat shield, Arrow Catcher or Lance Fodder. Those units have often no armor, ridiculous arms and generally very low combat value. That does not mean that those units have no value at all for the wise general: Their purpose is to take damage while letting your more valuable units remain unharmed. "Fodder" units are usually not hard to replace and a high mortality rate for these units is nothing to worry about. Also keep in mind that some of the typical "fodder" units like militiamen that you get from random events will cost you upkeep (gold) per turn, and most "fodder" units want to eat (supply).


A squad of Militiamen, placed near the frontline and with orders to attack cavalry will soak up the first-strike damage of enemy lancers. A squad of crippled or diseased units placed near the frontline with orders to "hold and attack" will hopefully catch many enemy arrows.

Arrow catcher[edit | edit source]

While letting your worthless "fodder" units catch enemy arrows with their body is favorable over exposing your valuable elite units to enemy archers, the best way to catch enemy arrows is by units with a big shield. Thick armor is also a good idea on such a unit, but the shield (the bigger, the better) is most important. Depending on your tactical setup you will give your "Arrow Catchers" orders to "hold and attack closest", or simply "attack closest" or even "guard commander". In every case you will position your "Arrow Catchers" as close to the frontline as possible. Even the biggest shield will not completely protect from enemy arrows and being positioned at the frontline make contact with enemy melee fighters very probably. So recruit replacements every turn and refresh your army in time. Note that units like the jaguar tribe infantry combine shield with ranged weapons (sling), giving you two units for the price of just one.


A squad of indy heavy infantry (shield & broadsword) placed near the frontline with orders to "guard commander". The (armored) commander is placed in the middle of the battlefield, but before the archers. This squad will retreat toward the commander and hopefully attract the most part of the enemy arrows while other units (like your own archers and cavalry) will do the fighting.

Damage Dealer[edit | edit source]

This unit has a good weapon with high damage. Having two weapons or weapons with multiple attacks is even better. The main problem with "Damage Dealers" is to get them to the enemy unharmed. As "Damage Dealers" seldom have shields it is a good idea to position them behind the frontline troops. After the first melee contact is made, the damage dealers join in.


A squad of barbarians with broadswords, placed away from the frontline with orders of "attack closest".

Defenders[edit | edit source]

This unit stand in the frontline in dense formations. It has ideally a combination of tolerable cost (you want lots of those units), medium/high defense and good armor. Having a shield increase the defense value and gives protection against arrows - Defenders have to deal with a lot of arrows, from friends and enemy alike. High hit-points, high morale, small size and special abilities like awe or regeneration are ideal for "Defenders". Having a weapon with a long weapon length like a spear give the unit a chance to repel enemy troops. The main purpose of this unit is to halt an enemy advance. It has not necessarily to deal a lot of damage; it has to keep the enemy hordes stopped long enough to let your own "Damage Dealers", archers and mages destroy them.

Example: Human heavy infantry with spear and shield.

Repellers[edit | edit source]

The role of the repeller is very close to the role of the Defender. Repelling is defined by checking which units weapon length is longer. The bearer of the shorter weapon must make an morale check before attacking and risk getting wounded (losing exactly one hit-point). The exact mechanics of repelling can be read in the manual; the practical wisdom is that repelling works best against low-morale units with short weapons (teeth, claws, dagger). Repelling is useless against undead units (morale 50). The main advantage of repelling is not the damage dealt by repelling, but the forced morale check: each time, the attacker got repelled and wounded, his squad must make an morale check or rout.


Longspear inf.

Swarmer[edit | edit source]

The swarm or horde type of troop does not win by quality, but by quantity. Main qualification is a low resource and gold cost (or cheap gem cost for summons) because you want huge numbers. Swarmer's use the fact that each attack to an enemy unit decrease his defense for that turn; This works very good against huge units. A combat square can hold just one size-6 unit but 6 size-1 units. That makes the Clockwork Horrors really fearsome !


A horde of flagellants with Fire-9 blessing.

Archer[edit | edit source]

Archers, Slingers or crossbowmen shoot arrows into enemy ranks. Use your crossbowmen to fire at enemy cavalry or huge monsters while letting your shortbowmen fire at closest enemy and your longbowmen fire at enemy archers. If your frontline troops suffer from friendly fire, let all your archers shoot at at enemy archers instead. To do so, position them in the middle of your battlefield or even closer to the frontline. Make sure to have arrow catchers or defenders in front of them. Some archers wear armor (and usually a better melee weapon like a sword too), so that you can position them closer to the frontline than others. Note that the spell "Flaming arrows" make every flying object (rocks, sticks, arrows) magical and armor-piercing.


A group of slingers in the rear with commands set to fire at closest enemies.

Skirmisher[edit | edit source]

Difficult to use in Dominions 3, those units wear typically mid-ranged weapons like javelins with limited ammo. Give them the fire & flee command if you are willing to pick them up in neighboring provinces after the battle. Else, give them fire at closest orders.

Example: A squad of medium human infantry with javelins.

Trampler[edit | edit source]

This huge units can simply trample over smaller beings. If tramplers carry weapons those weapons are only used against equal or bigger sized foes. Tramplers like elephants are often very vulnerable to enemy arrows and spells. To avoid friendly troops trampled by your own tramplers, position your other troops at the flanks, leaving your tramplers a way to retreat. Also carefully placing your trampler near mages and scripting them to "hold and attack" gives your mage the chance to cast buffs on your tramplers. Most buff spells have a range of 1 and are really worth it, like Moss Body, Berserkers, Body Ethereal.

Example: A group of Elephants.

Flankers[edit | edit source]

Flankers are defined by a lot of Action points, enabling them to run toward the rear of the enemy troops and wreck havoc. Example: Jade Amazons (mounted, light lance)

Recruited units[edit | edit source]

Regular troops refer to the national and independent troops that can be recruited from the provinces. Regular troops have a purchase cost of resources and money and an upkeep cost.

Pros of regular troops

  • Do not require magic at all
  • Essential for the early portion of the game
  • Sometimes provide weapons that summons don't have

Cons of regular troops

  • Lack many of the special abilities of summoned units
  • Significantly weaker than summons in later portion of the game
  • Regular troops eat supplies and require upkeep money

Mercenaries[edit | edit source]

Mercenaries are a special case of recruited troops. You have to bid for them in an auction. You choose a province (ideally near the frontlines) and click on the Mercenary Button. All current mercenaries are listed in box together with minimum price and term of contract. Each contract automatically ends after three months. If you win the bidding, the mercenary will appear in the province where you started the bidding next turn. Mercenaries consist are always out of one commander and sometimes a squad of troops. Note that you can give Magic Gems as well as Magic Items to an mercenary commander under your command. But he will never give anything back !

Province defense[edit | edit source]

See page 45 in the manual

Stealth units[edit | edit source]

Stealth units have a brown robe icon on their statistic screen. Right-click on this icon to see how stealthy the unit is. Stealth troops need a stealth commander to sneak into enemy provinces. If you want to rather move than sneak, you have to hold the Ctrl key pressed while giving the move command. Stealth armies can join attacks initiated by "paratroop" rituals like Call of the Wild, Call of the Wind or Imprint Souls. To make this coordination work, the stealth army must already be inside the attacked province and given an "Attack" Order (with no move order).

Summoned units[edit | edit source]

Summoned units play an important part in the wars of the pretender gods. Available to mages with enough skill and research behind them, the summons provide everything from expendable "chaff" to creatures of amazing power. A great number of summonable units are in the Conjuration, Blood and Construction research trees but Enchantment tree also has some summons. Most of summons are cast as rituals which require 1 month perform. However, some summoning spells, such as Elemental summoning, Call Horror, Swarm and Summon Lammashta, are cast in battle. These summons only last until the end of the fight. Broadly speaking the game tends to become more summon based as time passes on because at certain point the power of the summonable creatures exceeds the efficiency of recruitable troops.

Pros of summons

  • Do not require supplies or money.
  • Provide a wide amount of abilities.
  • Often have skills normal troops don't have.

Summons can fill some roles your troops can. Death and Nature magic have easy access to expendable "meat wall" summons such as Vinemen and Soulless, Elemental magics offer access to the unique Elemental Kings and Elemental Queens while Blood magic has strong and affordable summons. Often the summons have useful abilities and resistances.

One caveat is that not all summons are friendly. Pay attention to the spell descriptions if you wish to know which ones might have their own agenda.

National summons[edit | edit source]

Just as there are national troops there are summons which can only be researched by certain nations. These summons show up with blue text in the research tree.

National units[edit | edit source]

National troops are units that are nation-specific and can only be recruited by that nation in their fortresses. If an enemy nation captures the fortress the enemy nation's build roster replaces the build roster of the nation that had the fort. National units given by starting magic sites cannot be recruited by nation that conquered the other nation.

Independent units[edit | edit source]

Independent, or indie, troops are troops that are recruited from independent provinces. The type of troops you can recruit is determined by the poptype of the province.

Unit attributes[edit | edit source]

Every individual unit has a set of attributes. The attributes are used in battle to decide if an enemy is hit, damaged, dead or routing.

Hit points[edit | edit source]

The amount of damage that a unit can withstand. If the number reaches zero in a battle, the unit will die. A 'standard' human soldier has 10 hit points.

As each turn is a month, most units will fully recover at the end of every turn. Notable exceptions include unit types which never heal, such as certain brittle units; and diseased units, which instead lose hit points every month and in addition have a chance of gaining afflictions. Most units will not heal during battle, however; regenerating units will, as well as units healed by magic, or units healing themselves by draining life from others.

Prophets and pretenders should beware enemy dominions, as this reduces their hit points as well as other statistics depending on the dominion strength. Conversely, they receive advantages within their own dominion.

Protection[edit | edit source]

The thickness of any armor worn by the unit. Natural armor such as scaly skin is also accounted for. The protection subtracts from the strength and weapon damage when calculating effective damage on a target.

High levels of natural armor do not stack completely with additional armor; the resulting protection can be less than the sum.

Protection is halved against armor-piercing damage, such as the flames of flaming weapons; protection is ignored by armor-negating damage. Lightning damage is perhaps the most common example of the latter.

Morale[edit | edit source]

The courage and valor of soldiers. Every time something demoralizing happens morale is checked. Every time a member of a squad dies all other members of the squad check morale and every time an individual is damaged he checks his morale. Failed morale checks result in squad morale reductions. The squad morale reduction relative the size of the squad generates a rout chance. In the beginning of a battle turn all squads with a squad morale reduction makes a rout check based on the average morale of the squad. Failure means the squad routs from the battle field.

Some units are unbreakable -- in particular, units which have gone berserk, and units which are mindless. These correspond to morale values of 99 and 50, respectively.

Magic resistance[edit | edit source]

Some spells can be resisted and avoided by targets with an iron will. Powerful mages reduces the chances of resisting the spell they cast.

A standard human soldier has a magic resistance of 10; few units will have magic resistances of 15 or greater.

Encumbrance[edit | edit source]

Fatigue increases with the encumbrance value by each attack in melee. Casting spells has its own, usual higher encumbrance value. Units get defense penalties with increasing Fatigue. At a Fatigue value above 100 the unit becomes unconscious and cannot do any action until Fatigue value is under 100 again. While unconscious the unit looses some Fatigue each combat round. Fatigue values over 200 result in lost hit-points. This is especially important for Dominion slaves.

Items with high Reinvigoration values or certain spells like Relief help to counter Fatigue effects.

Low Encumbrance is extreme important for spellcasters and Super-Combatants (SC).

Strength[edit | edit source]

The physical might of a unit. A high value indicates that the unit can damage even heavily protected troops. The strength is added to the weapon damage when calculating damage.

Attack skill[edit | edit source]

The combat skill of a unit. The weapon attack bonus is added to this value when attacking. If the value is above the defending units defense the strike is a hit.

Defense skill[edit | edit source]

The defensive combat skill of a unit. This value must be exceeded by the attack value of incoming attacks for the attack to take effect. Defense doesn’t protect you from missile weapons or spells.

Precision[edit | edit source]

The targeting skill of the unit. Precision is only used when firing missile weapons or casting battle spells. With a higher value your arrows tend to hit near their intended target.

Movement[edit | edit source]

The movement limit each turn of a unit. It is separated into strategic map movement and into an tactical battlefield movement value. A value of 0/10 means that the unit is unable to leave her home province. However she can move 10 Fields each combat turn on the battlefield.

Fatigue[edit | edit source]

A unit normally starts battle ready to go with zero fatigue -- but this seldom lasts. Most living units fatigue when making melee attacks -- the more attacks, the more fatigue. Heat or cold beyond what the unit is used to increases this. Casting spells can also be extremely tiring.

There are other causes of fatigue as well; for instance, there are units which are surrounded by such a chilling wind that they drain the energy of most non-cold-immune units around them.

A tired unit is easier to hit; in addition, it is also easier to take advantages of any weaknesses in the unit's armor, reducing their effective protection for such a lucky strike. At 100 fatigue, a unit falls unconscious; at 200 fatigue, additional fatigue causes hit point damage.

Fatigue is normally only removed at the end of the battle.

There are two main classes of methods that remove fatigue. One, reinvigoration, provides a small but ongoing reduction in fatigue of the affected units. Reinvigoration can come from magical items; it can also be bestowed to sacred units as a particular blessing, if the pretender has certain powers. And some legendary heroes have seemingly profound reserves of energy... Reinvigoration helps even the unconscious.

The other class is the one-time removal of fatigue through some event. Typically, this event is either the use of a restorative spell (there exists a battlefield spell which reduces the fatigue of -all- friendly units in the battle, for instance), or through the draining life and energy from an enemy through certain dark magic spells or items. There are even units which have the innate ability to drain the vitality of the living.

Leadership[edit | edit source]

The number of troops a commander may lead. This value is separated into normal, magic and undead leadership. Most "normal" commanders can only lead normal troops, while mages for example can lead magical beings. Undead Commanders and Mages with Death or Blood Skills have undead Leadership.

Age[edit | edit source]

The age of a unit is tracked in Dominions 3, viewable by right-clicking Fatigue in the unit info screen. The number in parentheses is the age that the unit acquires "old age". Once that happens, an icon appears on the unit screen and provides several pieces of information: the age at which the unit became old, the unit's current age, and the penalties they are currently suffering in their dotage..

Units of old age accumulate afflictions. Eventually one of those afflictions will be "diseased", which means they will gain more afflictions and lose one hit point per turn until they push up daisies. Even undead may become old, but they are not affected by disease.

How age works[edit | edit source]

A nice discussion of old age can be found in this thread on the Dom3 discussion forum. From that thread, here are some interesting factoids:

  • Units "roll" on afflictions once a year, in late winter. It's a cruel season.
  • Different races turn "old" at different ages; thus tulatha get old much later than, say, mermen.
  • Fire mages turn "old" at a younger age.
  • Nature mages turn "old" at a later age.
  • Death mages have a lesser chance of gaining afflictions due to old age.
  • Even undead can get old; however since disease does not affect them they will not die due to old age, they will simply gain more and more afflictions.
  • The chance of gaining an affliction is relative to the age difference between the "old" age and the current age; so if a unit turns "old" at 40, they are unlikely to gain an affliction at 41, but very likely at 61.

Combating Old Age[edit | edit source]

There are a number of ways to fight the inevitable hand of old age and death in Dominions 3.

  • There are certain magic items that stop or hinder the aging process
  • There are spells that will make a unit younger.
  • Every level in Nature magic will raise the original age at which the unit gets "old" by 50%.
  • There are spells and items that will heal afflictions.
  • There are items that will transform the wearer into another typ of unit, usually with younger age.
  • There are items that will eliminate the hit point drain from disease.