My First Protection Guide
Congratulations, you’ve created your Dominion! Now what the hell do you do? Dominion is an intricate game that throws you into a complicated world with very little understanding of where to start and what to do. There have been guides designed to show new players the ins and outs of the game before but in practice they throw a lot of information gleaned over 70+ rounds of playing to achieve the best results while ignoring the fundamental question of just what is going on.
This guide will frame things for a basic human attacker but the principles can be applied to ANY race and playstyle.
What To Do First
Protection is a magical state that covers the first 72 hours of the game. During this time you cannot invade or be invaded and no magic or spy operations can be performed on other dominions. While only covering the first three days of the round, a good start can be a springboard to a successful round.
The first hour is one of the most important ones that you’ll encounter while in protection. The good news is that you can set it up in advance so you don’t even have to be online when the round starts.
To begin, your military draft rate needs to be changed; anything above 50% will do. Draftees are required for every acre you explore and each unit you train and the default 10% just won’t be enough.
The second page you need to visit is the National Bank. Gems are great for investing but what you need most in protection is platinum and gems trade 2 for 1! Converting your 10,000 gems into platinum increases your starting platinum by 20%, an incredibly helpful early boost.
Once those details are out of the way it’s time to get into some of the core mechanics of the game. There are 3 buildings that must begin construction right away because they provide bonuses that are especially valuable in the first days of the game.
- Factories - These reduce the cost of future construction and are incredibly useful when first getting your production up and running. For the first two and a half days construction is going to account for half of our platinum cost. Without factories we’ll never be able to afford it.
- Temples - When the round begins you start with 1300 peasants, just over half of what your dominion can actually support. While you’ll gain some peasants every hour, temples increase the rate at which your population grows and more peasants means more platinum production and, more importantly, more draftees every hour
- Towers - While towers don’t provide a direct bonus like the other 2 buildings, the mana they produce can be used to cast the spells Harmony and Midas Touch, increasing population growth rate and platinum production respectively.
Over the rounds people have derived a variety of optimal strategies but a good place to start is 55 factories, 30 temples and 15 towers. This will ensure enough mana to cast your spells as well as a good foundation of bonuses.
Notice how you don’t quite have the correct land types? No problem! We’ll just re-zone some of our less valuable land to make the room we need. Feel free to re-zone 10 Plains, 20 Forest, 20 Caverns and 10 Water into 35 Hills and 25 Swamps. Now you can begin construction.
You might notice that you still have barren land available; it’s best to resist the temptation to build anymore. 12 hours after the round starts we’ll begin construction again with our newly built factories making everything more affordable.
We’re almost finished with the first hour now! If you’ve followed the recommendations in this guide exactly then you’ll notice you still have 20,000 platinum just sitting around. Whatever you happen to have left, it’s time to start growing your dominion and that means exploring. Head on over to the explore tab and explore as many Plains as you can but never more than 29 (We’ll discuss why in just a moment. For this guide, it will be 21).
Congratulations! Your first hour is complete and you’re well on your way to glory.
The Importance of 299
There are few thresholds in the game as important and impactful as 299 acres. At 299 and below it takes 4 draftees to explore each additional acre of land. Once you hit 300 that cost jumps to 5 draftees per acre. When your exploration is most often limited by how many draftees you have it becomes vital to be as efficient as possible.
With that in mind, after exploring your initial acres it is important to continue exploring in the following hours up to a total of 29. Since we initially explored 21 acres, this would mean exploring an additional 8 acres of Plains. While this does need to be done early, it is not necessary to do so in hour 2 or 3. If the round starts in the middle of the night, explore the additional acres when you wake up in the morning. Adapt the game to your schedule!
Why 29 acres? Your initial 250 + 29 + Daily Land Bonus (20) puts you at exactly 299.
Building Toward The Future
12 hours into the round is when things start to really take shape and you’ll see our early building choices pay off. With our new factories dropping construction cost by nearly 75% it’s time to continue building on the rest of our barren land. We’ll construct 20 Ore Mines, 10 Docks, and 51 Alchemies.
Why are we building Alchemies? Aren’t peasants the main source of platinum?
Great question! For the majority of the round peasants will indeed be your main and best source of platinum but this early the Alchemy simply outpaces peasant platinum production and we have acres to explore, buildings to construct, and a military to train all in just the next 60 hours.
Everything gets more streamlined from here. With your dominion now producing mana, go cast Harmony as soon as you can and Midas Touch after that. It will be important to keep these spells going so find a schedule that works for you to recast them every 12 hours.
Continue building Alchemies and begin planning for your biggest wave of exploration yet. Somewhere near the end of day 1, at 279 acres (we’re going to wait to take our daily land bonus), will be that time to start exploring again. When that happens is entirely your choice but you’ll need to explore again 11 hours later so find a time that works.
For our purposes we’ve chosen to wait until the final hour of day 1, at which point we have the platinum and draftees to explore for 99 acres (broken up into 84 Plains and 15 Mountains). Don’t forget to take your daily platinum and land bonuses! Our dominion needs all the help it can get and free resources are too important to forget. Unsure of what to do with those barren 20 acres? You guessed it, build another 20 alchemies.
Bursting the Protection Bubble
Wait why are we talking about leaving protection already? It’s not even been 36 hours yet!
It’s important to plan ahead but we’re actually already in the home stretch. If you’ve followed this guide then you’re still sitting in our Goldilocks Zone of 299 acres with 99 incoming and that means we’ll be on 398 acres shortly. You’ll see some people racing up the rankings, exploring hundreds more acres, but we’re not worried about them.
The ultimate goal of OpenDominion may be to become the largest in the land but before we can compete for that title we need to understand what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. We won’t worry about hitting 700+ acres and straining our abilities (and sleep schedule) to the limit.
For this build we’re going to aim for a nice, cozy 520 acres with enough defense to fend off other attackers and offense to do a bit of damage ourselves. The best part is that with two more daily land bonuses we only need to explore to 480 and that’s only 82 away! So go ahead and explore those last 82 acres of Plains sometime before you leave 299. And that’s all for our exploring; time to turn our attention to planning to come out of protection.
First we’ll build those incoming Plains and Mountains. That’s right, you knew what you were building this time. Alchemies and Ore Mines for everyone! In a perfect world we wouldn’t have need of Ore Mines but our units are expensive and require a lot of ore. Thankfully we planned for that and built these extras now.
When our final batch of land comes in is when our strategy starts to change as we gear up for our military training. Like we discussed earlier, units are expensive and we need to plan for the high cost of training. While alchemies are still good enough to build they’ll slowly start to become a drain on the other buildings we’ll need to have a successful round.
To help with training we’re going to look toward a new building: the Smithy. Smithies reduce the cost of training by 2% for every 1% of land they occupy up to a maximum bonus of 36%. That means by committing just 18% of your land to them you can cut your training costs by over a third! Since we’ll finish protection on 520 acres, that means we’ll need 94 smithies to be built. Thankfully we have 82 acres currently being explored and an additional 40 from two daily land bonuses left to take.
For this guide we’re going to be as efficient as we can with this by building 28 Alchemies and 54 Smithies when our final acres come in followed by an additional 20 Smithies with our land bonus from day 2 and another 20 by taking our land bonus and building immediately on day 3. If you can’t be online for this or the day changes while you’re asleep that’s perfectly fine! Just make sure to adjust and construct 94 smithies no later than hour 49.
Is it really that bad if I build them an hour or two later? I thought you told me to adjust to my schedule.
Yes, it really is that bad. You’ll be out of protection on hour 73 and since construction takes 12 hours to complete and elite units 12 hours to train that makes hour 49 the last possible hour to build smithies. You can always build them earlier but later than that and they become useless to you.
Okay I guess that makes sense. But what about that 18%? I’ll still get the bonus at 15% or even 10%, right?
While you will get the cost reduction for every fraction of a percentage point of smithies you have the goal still stands at getting to 18%. Even at that maximum 36% bonus we’re about to spend more platinum on unit training than we have on everything else combined. For every percent below the maximum that we’re aiming for you’re going to be spending that much more and we can scarcely afford it.
The Home Stretch
We’re almost there but we still have just a bit more to go before the game can really begin! Our dominion has been stockpiling platinum and ore for just this moment as your 18% smithies roll in. It is now hour 61, just 12 hours until we’re out of protection. That means it’s time to train our elite units and have them ready for battle when that magical protection wears off.
Since we’ve chosen to be an attacker this round, it means we’ll need a healthy mix of offense and defense. As a human we’re going to try and make the most out of our Cavalry, our elite offensive unit which returns faster than normal and will allow us to attack again more quickly. In this guide we’ll train 525 Cavalry, good enough for over 3000 offense and hopefully multiple attacks. We’ll also train 470 Knights, our elite defensive unit.
I thought we were attacking! Why not skip the Knights and train more Cavalry?
Ideally we’d be maximizing our offensive power while training just enough defense to scrape by but we’re still learning the game. The mantra we’ll go with is “the best offense is a good defense.” Our goal is to gain land by attacking while making sure we’re adequately defended at home while we do so.
After training our elite units we have 3 hours to train additional specialist units that only require 9 hours to train. By hour 64 we’ll train another 500 archers for defense.
A Brave New World
And that’s it! You’re all set to take that next step into the round. But just because we’re ready to come out of protection doesn’t mean we’re finished. The defense necessary to protect your lands will only rise from here and you’ll need more offensive units to keep finding targets and replace casualties.
At this point you don’t need to worry about casting Harmony anymore, your population is at or near its maximum and will stay there for most of the round. Instead cast Ares’ Call on a regular schedule for a valuable 10% bonus to your defense. This and Midas Touch will be your primary spells for the remainder of the game.
Late to the round? No problem! You may need more defense than recommended in this guide but you now have all the tools necessary to make those changes.
Wait! What do I do if I’m converting or just exploring this round?
Exploring, or converting, are perfectly viable playstyles and are likely easier for newcomers and inexperienced players. If that’s the path you choose to take there are simple changes that can be made to the guidelines we’ve discussed. Add in another batch of exploration in the middle of day 2 before those 82 acres come in. The extra land will mean you need more than 94 smithies but it’s perfectly fine to cut down on your final batch of Alchemies to make it work.