My First Round
Welcome to OpenDominion!
OpenDominion is a re-incarnation and in many ways an improved version of the original Dominion (2000—2012).
This is a guide meant to help you get started on your first round, and maybe be a good reference for future rounds. To get the most out of OpenDominion, check your Realm’s council, and come chat with us on Discord. We’re happy to answer questions!
OpenDominion is a work in progress. Compared to Dominion, there are certain gameplay mechanics missing. To give context as to why some things are the way they are, this guide will at times reference features which are not yet implemented.
OpenDominion is a tick-based browser game. Each hour is a tick. With each tick, you gain new resources.
The game is divided into rounds. Each round lasts 50 days. There is usually a period of 2-4 days between rounds when players can sign up for the next round.
Dominions are placed in Realms, which are groups of up to 10 Dominions. Your Realm is your team.
The goal is to become the largest Dominion in the game.
If you want to play with friends, you can create a pack for 2 or 4 players (including you). Each player in the pack must pick a different race. If you choose a two-player pack, you may join with another group of four players (four a total of six players joining a realm as a pack). If you want to play as a group of three, simply join as a four-player pack and do not fill the fourth slot. If you join as a single ("Random") player, you will likely join a group of experienced players to guide in your realm!
When you create your Dominion, you will be asked which race to play. If you are a beginner, we highly recommend Human and Nomad. We will explain why later. For now, all you need to know is that Human and Nomad are practically identical.
Joining late is perfectly fine - it's a great way to learn the game! You will receive bonus resources and units to compensate for being behind in production. This bonus will ease your transition into the game, but you are always better off starting earlier in the round! The bonus is calculated as follows:
- Extra resources per day late signing up
- Peasants: 100
- Platinum: 5000
- Food: 1500
- Lumber: 2500
- Ore: 2500
- Mana: 1000
- Defensive Specialists: 30
- Draftees: 30
Once a round has started, every Dominion is under Protection for 72 "ticks" which lasts for 72 hours. During this time you cannot invade, be invaded, or take any kind of action against other Dominions. Each "tick" represents the production that would normally happen during an hour change. To move forward through production, simply click "Proceed to next hour" in the top of your page. For new players, it is highly advised to select a "quickstart" strategy by clicking the "Skip Protection" button and selecting a strategy.
For hints, tips, and tricks, reach out to more experienced players in the #excel-sim channel on discord.
There are three main playstyles, with variations within each. These are:
As an Attacker, you grow by invading other Dominions and conquering their land.
You need to train offensive and defensive units in order to have enough offensive power (OP) and defensive power (DP) to attack others while also keeping your own lands safe.
As an Explorer, you gain land purely by exploring.
You only need to train defensive units and ensure your DP is strong enough that you won’t get invaded. Explorers have superior economies and incomes to Attackers, because they do not need to train offensive units.
Your Realm will appreciate if you leverage your extra income to train spies and wizards to help the Attackers in your realm scout for threats and targets. Knowledge is power and even as an Explorer it will be advantageous to scout the stronger Dominions in your range to assess their OP so that you aren’t invaded. The side effect is that your ops become useful for your realm-mates as well.
A Converter is someone who starts the round as an Explorer. Upon reaching a target (land size or specific day), they convert into an Attacker.
To convert into Attacker, the Explorer prepares by building Smithies to max bonus and then uses the superior economy as an Explorer to quickly train offensive units.
Remember to build some Docks so you have boats!
While there are other ways to play, they are not suitable for this type of guide and rarely successful.
Do not combine Attacking and Exploring. Do one or other other. Or, if you convert, do one and then the other. An Attacker does not have the economy necessary to be successful as an Explorer.
Your Dominion’s economy determines how many military units you can afford and how much land you can explore.
Before we get into the different resources, we need to take a quick look at population and employment. These dictate Platinum production, which is the most important resource in the game.
Your Population is the sum of your peasants, draftees, and military units.
Except for Homes and Barracks, all buildings provide housing for 15 people and provide 20 jobs. Depending on your race, barren land house 5 or 10 people and provide no jobs.
Barracks house 36 military units (everyone except peasants and draftees) and Homes house 30 people.
You can increase the number of people housed in all buildings except for Barracks by increasing your Population Bonus, which is a common term in the game but a slight misnomer and should perhaps instead be called Housing Bonus.
The following ways can be used to increase your Population Bonus:
- Investing in Keep.
- Prestige, which is gained and lost through attacking or being invaded.
- Technological Advancements
Many races have a Population Bonus. Gnome, Wood Elf, and Troll have a negative population bonus (-5%).
Every employed Peasant produces 2.7 Platinum per hour. This is your most important source of income.
If you have more peasants than jobs, the unemployed peasants do not produce platinum. This is called Underrun.
Similarly, if you have more jobs than peasants, the unfilled jobs do not yield any Platinum for you. This is called Overrun.
Attackers are rarely able to avoid having a significant Overrun. This happens because Attackers need to maintain a larger military than Explorers, which means more peasants are drafted into draftees and then trained into military units. This is normal for attackers.
Having efficient units, meaning units with high offensive and defensive power, helps you retain as many peasants as possible while still having a strong army.
The most important resource is Platinum. Everything costs Platinum: exploring, training units, and rezoning lands.
Platinum is produced by Alchemies and peasants.
In nearly all cases (with Firewalker being the notable exception), you only benefit from building Alchemies during protection. After protection, you will normally benefit more from other buildings.
You can increase your Platinum Bonus in the following ways:
- Cast the spell Midas Touch (should ideally be cast twice a day for 24-hour coverage).
- Invest in Science.
- Technological Advancements
Lumber is produced by Lumberyards and is primarily used when constructing buildings. Constructing buildings costs both Platinum and Lumber.
Lumber rots if left unused. It’s good to have some buffer so you can afford to build on new land you gain, but avoid having a big surplus.
Depending on whether you explore or attack and depending on how quickly you grow, between 3—5% Lumberyards is ideal.
Two races (Wood Elf and Sylvan) have military units whose strength depend how much of your land is made up of Forest. Wood Elf and Sylvan Dominions therefore often build far more Lumberyards than other races and use the extra Lumber to invest in Castle, whereas most other races use Gems produced by Diamond Mines.
Ore is required to train certain military units. Not all units and races require Ore. For example, no Lizardfolk and Firewalker military unit costs Ore. In these cases, Ore Mines are entirely unnecessary.
Races that do require Ore, usually need between 2—5% Ore Mines. Note that Gnomes have significantly high Ore costs and need far more Ore Mines.
Two races (Gnome and Icekin) have military units whose strength depends on how much of your land is made up of Mountains. Icekin and Gnome Dominions therefore often build excess Ore Mines and use the extra Ore to invest in Castle, sometimes in combination with the more common Gems produced by Diamond Mines.
Every Person in your Dominion eats 1/4 (0.25) bushels of food per hour. If you run out of food, your people will starve. This causes massive damage to your Dominion, through loss of military units (which can leave you weak and open to invasions) and loss of peasants (which leads to loss of Platinum production).
Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to have enough Food. Maintain at least 6% of your land as Farms. Some Races naturally produce more or consume less food than others due to racial bonuses, so you can afford to maintain a lower number of farms. Docks also produce Food, to a far lesser degree. Keep an eye on your production, consumption and supply.
Food rots at a rate of 1% per hour. It’s not usually beneficial to have a big stockpile.
Gems are not used for any type of construction of training. They are used for Castle Improvements.
- Science: increases your platinum production.
- Keep: increase your Population Bonus.
- Towers: increases your wizard power, spell damage resistance and mana production.
- Forges: increases your offensive power.
- Walls: increases your defensive power.
- Harbor: increases food production, increases boat production, and protects boats from sinking.
Mana is used to cast spells. It is produced by Towers.
As an Explorer, you can get by with 1-2% Towers unless you wish to have a Mana surplus to cast spells on other Dominions in which case 2-4% (or more) will be needed.
As an Attacker, you benefit greatly from using spells
(See below for more information about Spells.)
Research Points (RP's) are produced by Schools, generated by taking daily platinum bonuses, and by invading other dominions. They are used to unlock permanent bonuses to your Dominion called Technological Advances or simply ‘techs’.
- An attack on a target 60%-75% of your size generates 500 RP's, and targets 75%+ generates 1000 RP's.
- Every 1% of your land that you build as schools generates 26 RP's.
- Each platinum bonus taken yields 750 RP's.
Each tech costs 10,000 RP's and there are 66 available techs. It is not advised to attempt to get all techs - some strategies ignore techs completely, and others target getting up to 20 or 30 techs, depending on your playstyle. In general, a strategy that focuses on techs is slow but comes on strong by the end of the round.
Offensive military units need boats in order to be sent on invasion, unless they are specifically noted as not needing boats (such as Dark Elf spirit warriors or Lizardfolk units. Each boat can carry 20 units and each dock produces one boat every 20 hours.
During Protection, it’s wise to build between 10 and 20 Docks early if you plan to attack. After Protection, it is wise to add a few Docks every once in a while.
Boats are a common target for black ops - they can be sunk, leaving an attacker unable to use their full invasion force! Docks protect boats from being sunk - each dock protects 2.5 boats from being sunk, and this increases by 0.05 each day after Day 25. Normally, only the strongest attackers are targeted by this operation but they can be forced to carry up to 5% docks to protect themselves!
Spies and Wizards
Spies and wizards are used to perform espionage operations and cast spells on other Dominions to gather information or to do damage. Arch Mages count as two wizards and are immortal. They are expensive, so only train them when you are sure you can afford them.
Information-gathering operations are often called info-ops, and refer to:
- Clear Sight: reveals an accurate view of the target’s current resources and trained military.
- Revelation: shows what spells are currently active. Useful to see if your potential invasion target has a defensive spell running!
- Barracks Spy: gives you an accurate view of the target’s units in training. It also gives an estimate with 85% accuracy of how many units are at home or returning from combat.
- Castle Spy: reveals the target’s Castle and improvements.
- Survey Dominion: shows the target’s buildings (current and in progress).
- Land Spy: returns a breakdown of the target’s land types and incoming land. Rarely used.
Spies can also be used for, and to defend against, theft.
In addition, there are also Self Spells. These are spells you cast on yourself, and they do not require any wizards. Self Spells last 12 hours. Many players log in at least twice a day to ensure their Self Spells are active 24 hours a day.
- Gaia’s Watch: +10% Food Production. Can be useful if you have a lot of spare mana or urgently need to raise your food production. Often not worth running all the time; just build more Farms instead.
- Ares’ Call: +10% Defensive Power. Almost always worth keeping on, unless you are an attacker whose elite offensive unit provides enough defensive power at home to keep you safe.
- Midas Touch: +10% Platinum Production. Keep this one on 24/7.
- Mining Strength: +10% Ore Production. Similar to Gaia’s Watch. Only cast when necessary. Otherwise, build more Ore Mines.
- Harmony: +50% Population Growth. This spell is only useful in Protection. After that, it’s virtually never worth the mana cost.
- Racial spell: each race has a racial spell which provides a special bonus. See the Races further down.
- Fools Gold: prevents platinum theft.
- Surreal Perception: reveals the name of dominions stealing from you or performing any kind of spy or wizard operation on you.
Your Dominion needs a military to fend off Attackers and, if you are an Attacker, invade other Dominions to conquer their land.
Military units are trained from draftees. So long as your draft rate is not reached, you will draft 1% of your peasants into draftees every hour. You can set your draft rate on the Military page. A normal tactic is to set your draft rate to 90% (the maximum) and release extra draftees when you carry a surplus.
All races have four units, which are divided into two categories: specialists (“specs”) and elite units.
Specialists are the two cheaper unit types. For Humans, it’s Spearmen and Archer. For Nomad, it’s Fighter and Crossbowman.
Elite units are better in that they give you more military power for each peasant you lose. For a Human or Nomad, you get the same power from one elite unit as you would from two of the corresponding specialist unit.
However, elite units can be quite a bit more expensive! Some specialists are usually trained at the start of the round and may be necessary in an emergency/quick-fix situation as they are cheaper and therefore can be trained faster. Some strategies rely on specialists as a primary unit as well - for example goblin does not have a more efficient defender than the shaman.
Defense and Invasions
Defense is necessary to prevent attackers from invading you and conquering your acres. This can be devastating for your economy and encourage more attackers to target you afterwards. The only guaranteed way to protect your acres is by having more defense than your potential invaders can send for offense.
Military power is calculated by summing your raw military (offense or defense) and multiplying that by the sum of the bonuses. For example:
Defensive Power = (Raw Defense) * (1 + Total Defensive Bonus)
The best way to ensure you have enough defense, but not too much, is to frequently perform info-ops on the strongest Dominions around you and adjust accordingly. Training too much defense can stunt your growth (but not as much as getting invaded!). To find the strongest Dominions that might attack you, go to the Search page, filter by dominions in your 75% range (these are the dominions that would gain prestige by successfully invading you), and sort by highest Networth. You can calculate their offense manually, or by using the Offense Calculator. You can find this calculator by navigating to the Ops Center, selecting the dominion you want to calculate, clicking the "Calculate" button, and finding the Offense Calculator. Most realms will have an experienced player that can guide you through the intricacies of calculating offense. Another, simpler, way of calculating your needed defense is looking at similar dominions around your size and calculating their defense.
It is highly recommended to ask for assistance with keeping track of your needed defense. Remember that you should help others too by gathering information ops and learning reliable ways to calculate. You can view tools that players have built in the #calculators channel on the Open Dominion Discord server. Strong realms will cooperate closely to do this and will post DP and DPA recommendations in the council or their private discord channels.
DPA stands for “Defense Per Acre”. It is simply your defensive power divided by your land size. If your defensive power is 30,000 and you are 1,200 acres, your DPA is 30000/1200=25. For Attackers, remember to only count the defensive power you leave at home if you attack.
A complication to defense calculations is that an attackers temples will reduce the defenders defensive bonus - so not all calculated offenses are created equal! Normally this is a small variation as building temples is not normally a good strategy even for attackers.
Remember you only need to defend against dominions in your range! A dominion twice your size will need more defense than you - normally not quite twice your defense, but that is a good place to start (constant DPA).
To successfully invade another Dominion, your invading army must have at least 1 more power than they have defense.
It is recommended to obtain at least Clear Sight, Castle Spy, and Survey on targets to calculate their defensive power. If the target has units out on an invasion of their own, you should also obtain a Barracks Spy (BS) on the target. The BS will also show you the target's incoming troops that were trained. Remember they could also be drafting 1% of their peasants per hour!
Casting Revelation can help determine if your target has a defensive spell active. This spell is particularly valuable if your target is Icekin (Racial spell is Blizzard - 15% defense) or Halfling (Defensive Frenzy - 20% defense). If you do not have a recent Revelation on your target you should assume they have their defensive spell on or you risk failing your invasion.
Once you have the info ops done, you can use the in-game calculator to determine their defense (Ops Center -> select dominion -> calculate -> Defense calculator and load temples -> calculate) and use the "invade" screen to calculate your offense. Be careful not to click "Invade" on that screen while you are calculating your offense!
Calculating an Attack
To calculate a target's defense manually you must remember that BS's are only 85% accurate. Unless your target sent out all of their elite attackers, you need to perform two calculations:
Divide the number of units at home by 85%. For example, if the Barracks Spy reveals 300 elite offensive units at home, you need to assume the worst case scenario of this being 15% too low. 300/0.85~=353 (round up to be safe).
If you have a Clear Sight, also take the number of units returning from battle and multiply by 85%. If the Barracks Spy shows 750 units returning, we can infer that at least 750*0.85=637 (round down in this case) are in fact returning.
Out of the 1,000 elite offensive units, we now know that at most 353 are at home and at least 637 are returning from battle. 1000-637=343, which is less than 353, so calculate based on 343.
If your target has also sent out its elite defensive unit, simply repeat the process for that unit as well.
If you don’t have a Clear Sight, you can use just Barracks Spy but you cannot rely on deducting returning units from the for-sure number of trained units. Just look at the units at home and make sure to divide the number by 0.85. For greater accuracy you can perform multiple Barracks Spy operations on your target, check the Archives section of the Op Center and find the lowest number of units home to do your calculations.
Use Castle Spy and Survey to determine your target’s:
- Walls: add to the target’s defensive bonus.
- Guard Towers: multiply the percentage of Guard Towers by 1.75, up to a maximum of 35% bonus.
Note that some races also gain bonuses from certain buildings such as Dark Elf Adepts who gain increased raw defense from Wizard Guilds. Lycanthrope are the only race with a racial defensive bonus of 5%. Make sure to factor this into your calculations:
Modified Defensive Power = (Raw Defense) * (1 + Total Defensive Bonus - Temple Reduction)
How to balance one’s buildings is one of the things that set each Dominion apart. There are common guidelines which are good to follow. But it’s also good to question the status quo.
|Home||Houses people. Always build these if you are an Explorer. If you are an Attacker, you may want to combine them with Barracks unless your race has a high population bonus (close to or over 20%).|
|Farm||Produces Food. Build enough.|
|Factory||Reduced construction costs. Useful in protection. Should be avoided afterwards.|
|Smithy||Reduces military costs. A must-have for Attackers. Explorers often only need them for an initial boost in the first few days.|
|Ore Mine||Produces Ore. Build enough.|
|Diamond Mine||Produces Gems. Good in almost every circumstance. Try to build them early so you can benefit from the Gem production longer. Don’t build after day 30 if you start early in the round.|
|Alchemy||Produces platinum. Only build during protection, unless you are very sure about what you’re doing.|
|Tower||Produces Mana. Build enough.|
|Dock||Produced Boats and some Food. If you need Boats, make sure you build Docks in advance.|
|Guard Tower||Increases your Defensive Bonus. Use cautiously. Being too reliant on them can hurt you later. Especially useful for races with weaker elite defenders.|
|Gryphon Nest||Increases your Offensive Bonus. Same as Guard Towers but for offensive units.|
|Forest Havens||Don’t build these. They are never worthwhile.|
|Wizard Guild||Rarely seen other than by Dark Elf or Dominions focused on offensive spells.|
|Masonry||Increases Castle bonus and reduces damage received from Lightning Bolt. Can be useful if you managed to build a lot of Diamond Mines early in the round and want to protect your investment from Black Ops.|
|Shrine||Reduces offensive casualties (units lost when you invade someone). The bonus is so low that the building is rarely useful. Also gives bonuses to Heroes, which are not yet implemented.|
|Barracks||Houses 36 military units. Useful for Attackers playing races with no population bonus or Troll, which has a negative Population Bonus. Sometimes seen in use by Attackers playing races with population bonuses of +5% to +10%.|
|School||Produces Research Points at a very slow rate.|
|Temple||Increase Population growth rate, which is crucial during protection but quickly loses importance. Also decreases the defensive bonus of Dominions you invade. 6.7% temples will negate an opposing Dominion’s Ares Call bonus.|
Races belong to one of two alignments: Good or Evil. Realms are currently mixed alignment, which means that good races and evil races can be in the same Realm. Good vs Evil rounds may appear in future.
Human / Nomad
Highly recommended for beginners, as well as experienced players.
Human belong to the Good alignment, whereas Nomad belong to the Evil alignment. Other than an insignificant racial bonus (+5% food production for Humans against +10% mana production for Nomads), the races are identical.
The elite units are efficient at 6 points each in their primary function. The elite attacker has 3 defensive points, which gives it ample turtle defense.
The Racial spell gives a modest but useful +5% Offensive Power.
Lizardfolk require no Ore Mines and no Boats. Their elite defensive unit (Chameleon) has equally high defensive power as offensive power, which can make them useful for surprise attacks.
Chameleons also count as 1/5 of a Spy. Lizardfolk rarely need to train more than a handful of Spies early in the game and can later rely purely on Chameleons.
However, Lizardfolk’s drawback is its expensive and inefficient elite defender. As a new player, it can be difficult to strike the right balance.
The racial spell helps convert some land to water, where Lizardfolks build their homes and which otherwise are rarely conquered.
Goblin is unique in that it does not have an elite defensive unit. Instead, it relies on its specialist defender for defense and has two elite offensive units.
Because it needs so many units, Goblin have a large Population Bonus of 20%.
Hobgoblin (5 offensive points and 3 defensive points) has the unique ability to plunder resources. If you send Hobgoblins on a successful invasion, they will steal some resources from your targets. It can be a significant reward if you are lucky and find a target with big stockpiles.
Many players will argue that the Wolf Rider is better, not only because it’s a stronger unit (6 offensive points, but only 2 defensive points) but because it returns from invasions in 9 hours instead of the normal 12 hours. This has two benefits: it can allow you to attack twice from the same land size (hit once and hit again before 12 hours) and it can allow you to defend your land quicker.
The racial spell gives +10% Offensive Power.
The Dwarven specialist defender produces 0.50 Ore per hour each. While this is little compared to 60 Ore per hour per Ore Mine, it can act as a nice supplemental income.
Much like Lizardfolk, the elite defender (Cleric) has equival offensive and defensive strength. They also have a special ability which makes them reduce losses in battle. However, this is a very small bonus and doesn’t have a significant impact overall. They also have the ability to kill Undead and Spirit units on both offense and defense.
Dwarves can be difficult to play. The elite offensive unit, Warrior, has 7 offensive points and only 2 defensive points. The big gap makes Dwarves vulnerable to growing quickly and being invaded even with Warriors at home. Experienced players will balance this by also using Clerics.
While a powerful race, they can be daunting for new players.
The racial spell gives +20% Ore Production, which is double the standard spell Mining Strength and their investment of Ore in castle improvements is increased by 5%.
Firewalkers have phenomenal platinum production because of their unique racial spell, which increases the Platinum production of Alchemies from 45 Platinum per hour to 60 Platinum per hour.
As an Explorer, this can make Firewalkers very attractive. It doesn’t benefit Attackers as much, since even they typically benefit more from other buildings such as Homes to increase population.
Firewalker’s elite defender does not have any offensive power, but it can only be killed by Icekin. However, they are quite expensive and with only 4.5 defensive power, they are also not very efficient.
The elite attacker has a 50% reduction in casualties. If you would normally have lost 1,000 units during an attack, only 500 of this unit will die. They also have a small gap between offensive and defensive power, which means high defense when they are at home. But just like the elite defender, they are expensive and inefficient.
There are several more races available.