How many times have we seen games promising to revolutionize strategy only to fall flat on their faces? Are you getting bored with ‘strategy” games that really don’t require much thinking? Do you want to try a deeply engaging strategy game, one so complex that you have never seen the likes before? How would you like to have fun playing a game that actually requires some real planning?

‘Nah, too much work,” many of us would say. However, for the small, growing fraction of gamers who are interested, please read on.

Developed by a small indie company, ‘Dominions III: the Awakening” may be the one game you’re looking for. Leading one of over 50 unique nations inspired by just about every mythology currently in existence, you play the role of a pretender God, striving to ascend to Godhood with all your resourcefulness.

The game itself notes that there is something like 1,500 unique units, 600-plus spells and 300-plus magical items that you can use to your heart’s content. (Yes, unique as in totally different, not merely a palette swap or slight variation).

The game is brutal, with a level of artificial intelligence never seen before in any other turn-based game. The manual alone is 300 pages, and I believe that currently holds the world’s record for thickest instruction manual. Rest assured, there is no way to play the game (or at least, very difficult to do so) without understanding what’s going on. There’s a fair bit of math, a lot of planning ahead and so much thinking that it makes ‘Medieval II: Total War” seem like Super Mario World by comparison.

If I haven’t scared you off at this point, please pat yourself on the back and continue on, because you may find the one strategy game that you’ve been looking for all this time. ‘Dominions III” is about world dominion, just like all the other games.

Here, whether that’s achieved through might, magic or deceit is up to you, though quickly you’ll find all three to be useful in your quest. Then, after running through a series of customization options, ranging from picking your avatar’s preferences for an orderly realm or a chaotic nation to the spells and physical forms of your god, which can be anything from a stereotypical dragon to some truly unique options, such as the Mother of Tuatha, or Feathered Serpent for unique nations, such as Tir ra nog and Mictan.

A typical turn will have you scurrying around, trying to figure out what to do. You need to scout out your opponents, raise an army, find advantageous magical sites, research additional spells, spread your dominion through preaching, build mighty fortress the list goes on. To continue, you must coordinate your generals and attack strategic provinces in the hopes of ultimately besieging your opponent’s castles. Troops need to be quickly supplied to the front ranks so they can join battle; borders need to be maintained, tax collected and rebellious troublemakers eliminated. Logistics are vital in this game, as is morale. The turns are resolved immediately, so there’s very little room for error. The battles, surprisingly, are not in your control; thus, pre-battle preparations become vital as you try to figure out optimal ways to set up your troops and give them instructions. Managing an internal economy, along with keeping supply routes open and keeping up your opponents, is paramount.

Despite the old school-looking graphics, the game itself is dizzyingly fun. What I’ve said here only begins to cover the game and all the things you can do with it. The game itself is highly moddable, and just about any image can be turned into a map to be played on. With multiplayer options up to 21 players at the same time, the experience is simply epic a feel not offered byany other game on the market. The sheer amount of replayability makes this game a worthy investment, as each nation is unique and there is no real ‘strategy” to memorize or build orders like other games. Each game brings something new, and there’s something attractive about seeing hundreds and hundreds of your troops executing a perfect pincer maneuver while some rousing battle music is playing in the background.

Still, such a complicated game is not for everyone. If you’re thinking about it, the demo of this game is freely available. Trying it out would be recommended before you decide to stick with it, as the price tag of $50 isn’t cheap.

Just be forewarned though, as ‘Dominions III” is probably not suitable for students, interns or anyone else who is expected to pass exams on a regular basis. It is that addictive.

If you obtained a copy of the game, please make sure to arrange for someone to check on you once every six hours or so to make sure you get adequate amounts of food and water. This reviewer would feel terrible for introducing you to ‘Dominions III” otherwise.

Han is a member of the class of 2011.

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