A bunch of notes that i think are helpful for a player trying to learn the game with an emphasis on the first 12-16 turns.
Do not attack a province the first turn you will almost always lose your starting army. At the start of the game your capital is surrounded by enemy provinces filled with troops but you cannot see them because your scout reports have not come in. Use your first turn to recruit some new troops.
Understand what sacred troops are. Most nations have a Sacred troop. These troops have a little icon on their trait bar that looks like unlit candles. These troops can be buffed with the bless spell which can be cast my any priest or Divine blessing cast by a level 3 priest (which hits all your sacred troops in the battle). These troops tend to be your best troops but in addition to that the bless which you create in your pretender design screen can make them even stronger. Think of them as elite special forces that supplement your army. Most of the time you cannot make an entire army of sacred troops but they can be very powerful especially as a supplement to your expansion armies.
When you make someone a prophet they automatically become a level 3 priest.
Forts draw resources from adjacent provinces. So the first turn most nations that rely on heavy armor will be harshly restricted on how many troops they can recruit. For this reason its often useful to prioritize taking provinces with high resources first. Generally speaking this means try to take forests or highlands that are bordering your capital first. However the primary factor deciding which province you attack first is which one has an army you can beat.
The local forces in a province (Indies) remain unchanged from turn to turn. Your scouting reports will give you different numbers every turn but that is because scouting reports give up to + or – 30% of defending forces. Your scout being in a province will give you better information and some nations get automatic scrying inside their dominion which makes their scouting information much more accurate.
Indies are much stronger in the Late age than in the Early age. You will find random pockets of like 15 elephant riders in the early age but in general the forces are much easier to fight. If your having a hard time in the late age it might be worth trying out Early or Middle Age.
Don’t use an Awake Pretender to expand until your familiar with the game or you are following a tutorial. If you don’t know their matchups or what spells they need then they will almost always die. (Dragons seem to do pretty good if you just tell them to fire though so you can try that)
Different Indies have different strengths and weaknesses. Your armies will be good against some and bad against others, some are just stronger. Pay close attention to when you fight them. Watch what happens. See why things played out the way they did and how you could have done the fight better. This is sort of like a training wheel for fighting other factions and other players if your doing multiplayer.
Heavy Lances, Lances, and Light Lances, have a first hit bonus to attack and damage. For Lances and Heavy lances the weapon is lost after this first hit. This “Charge” bonus applies even if the unit is not moving. In many cases, especially when fighting heavy armored cavalry with heavy lances you should consider using sacrificial cheap troops to take the lance hit. Alternatively, very high defense troops or glamored troops with mirror image can be a good way to waste a lance. It depends on your faction and your playstyle.
Send out mages to site search. Magic gems are the real core of your economy. You must send out mages and search your provinces. Sites have a minimum level required to be found. The highest level is 4. However something like over 70% of sites will be found with a level 2 mage.
Don’t build your most expensive mages in the first few turns. They wont have any spells to cast. Build the cheaper ones and have them research or site search. Wait until you have a good deal more gold/your expansion wont be slowed down before you start recruiting the big mages.
Formation matters. Watch your fights. Look how your troops move. Are some guys getting out ahead? Are your elephants running way ahead of your army? Is your line breaking up into a big blobby mass before troops have contact? Think about using the hold and attack command, look at how fast your different troops move and try spacing them out so they hit at the same time.
Build forts on provinces with high population. This will allow them to have the recruitment points needed to recruit more troops. However keep in mind if your troops have high resource costs then you might consider making sure there are provinces you control with resources nearby so it can draw in resources.
If your capital has unique high resource cost units building forts adjacent to your capital can strangle it because it will no longer draw in resources from those provinces.
Heavy Cavalry are very good at expanding. (basically anything where the mount has full armor body and head. Though calvary where only the mount’s body has armor are also pretty good in my experience so far)
Many but not all Sacred troops with the right build can be extremely efficient at expansion but may struggle to expand without some support from scales troops (non sacred, non summoned troops). Blesses that are really good at expansion tend to be things that boost defense, strength, and blood surge. If you want to go hardcore you can take an awake god (that does not expand) and give them incarnate blesses (blesses that only function while your god is awake and alive) like Blood Bond Barkskin/Stygian skin or Regeneration. These can be especially powerful on giant sacreds or units with Berserk (see EA Vanheim’s berserker sacred or EA Abysia Burning ones). Heroism seems to be stupidly good for things like sacred calvary by boosting their stats super high with XP.
The troops on the far left of your recruitment roster tend to be totally useless for expansion or fighting in general (their uses are elsewhere). This is not always true but it sorta is almost always true.
If your nation has troops they can recruit outside of forts (not the native local troops any nation can get. An example is Early Age Sauromantia Lancers) then those also tend to be very good at helping you expand as long as you take economic boosting scales such as order and productivity. (this is more true in dom6 than dom5).
Some nations get a ton of value from specific types of provinces. Like Pan and Rus/Vanrus wanting forests. Watch out for your troop descriptions for something that says only recruited in Forests or stuff like that. This can help your expansion or be an early target to make sure you secure so someone else does not get it.
Expansion into caves if you don’t have darkvision is a good way to kill your own armies until you have more serious numbers and magical support built up
Special units like Elephants or flying units have their only special strategies for expanding. If you choose to use these it can helpful to ask for advice rather than puzzling it out.
Dominions 6 has a lack of friendly clickable buttons to do things so i think you really need to learn the game’s hotkeys. Here are the ones that i think are most important to know and use at all times to make your experience as a new player smoother.
At all times
- ?: For starters you can bring up all hotkeys relevant to any given screen with this. There are a lot of them and they will be attached to features you did not know the game even had.
When starting a game
- Ctrl+l: When you choose a pretender for a nation when starting a game, you can load one of your pre-saved pretenders with this hotkey.
On the strategic map
- C: View the report for a battle on a province.
- T: On the strategic map use this to organize your army before telling them where to go.
- Y: On the strategic map selecting a province your attacking use this to organize the script.
- R: Recruit
- E: End turn. (Not E is right next to R. Be careful)
In army set up
- Ctrl 1,2,3,4 ect: Copy a script on a unit or commander including scripted spells
- 1,2,3,4 ect: Past a copied script saved to the same number.
In individual orders for a single mage
- X: Repeat last command (so if you told them to cast lighting strike once, then just hit x several times to tell them to keep casting it).
In any of the spell screens that show all your spells
- Filter by magic path with the first letter of the magic. F for Fire and so on.
- Except for stellar Astral magic which uses S.