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June 11th, 2013, 12:10
Thanks for the answers, I found Conquest of Elysium 3 so fun that I had to try Dominion 3. Yes two very different games but I don't regret.

Efter to have finished a first win with Conquest of Elysium I started a game of Dominion 3. I haven't seen any difficulty level but there's pre made maps with various possible dominions and there's the list of those more easy to play, those less easy and those more difficult. For my first game I picked the only map with a yellow asterisk, and a dominion among those more easy.

After 2/3 turns I wondered some details as why my research was at zero so I pickup the manual and gone through its tutorial. It's difficult to follow because you have to read the tutorial in the manual and play the game tutorial in parallel. But it's well done and provide many key elements from interface to gameplay.

I have played for now about 12/15 turns, control 9 area/towns, and I'm still in a sort of first phase of first exploration and first expansion. Perhaps the map choose and the dominion choose change this phase but I don't think so, it's the phase where you still haven't met another dominion, still scout further places, still setup a solid foundation to your kingdom.

As first feeling (first version had many details but for a first feeling I'll try simplify:
- The micro management isn't that awful that some review could let think, for armies it's clear that it's mainly per groups like you mentioned and it should be fun through micro decisions to prepare battles, if not you better give up the game.
- The (F1) kingdom overview save a lot of micromanagement issues making them more easy and light. But it's far to be as complete and useful than for example the empire view in Endless Space.

All in all, the micromanagement is at a good level with actions mostly only related to micro decisions/macro decisions so fun, instead of repetitive tedious micromanagement. But there's few big holes that are probably the reason why that point is exaggerated in reviews/comments:
- There's multiple holes and weak points in the interface design that doesn't help manage a global kingdom. I'd say there's missing in their team a king of interface design as there's obviously one in Endless Space.
- The scouting needs a big rethinking, for example it's much better done and much more fun in CoE3.
- The armies movement are missing an ability of one order for multiple turns.
- Apart some interface design weakness the army management is fun but burdened a lot by too many units that look a lot too much the same (in both tutorial and my game). It's a real trouble and increase the lack of fluidity in recruiting, organizing and setup armies. When units are almost identical it's not really important (but also those very minor differences are really fake and look a lot like fillers so they can argue so many number of different units!) but even for rather different units their look is distinct but it's too difficult to notice, at least when discovering those units (but for now it's still a burden).
- The kingdom overview is a good help but needs be improved.

That was only about the micromanagement but for 4X games it's a key element. For other points:
- As many of the deepest 4X I tried they failed work as well on the depth than on the mood and charm. It's very very far to have the adventure and Fantasy mood of Conquest of Elysium 3. I won't enter in details despite there's a lot to say, but I really hope a day they'll make their grand oeuvre by a design merging the best of the two series. One example, the first phase more exploration is a bit repetitive and lack of charm, but it helps me discover the game. And for replay I suppose you can play it faster than I do.
- It is missing a bit more comprehensive feedback or perhaps key hints. For example I still wonder why I work that high on faith level. I do it because it's a point focused in tutorial but I still wonder what it brings. Or I dream of complex tactics when setting up armies and when I check battles movies and results to get a fair feedback. But I still wonder if really this or that involves that much on battle results. I mean some points obviously does help, but fine tactics I'm less sure.
- The inability to save and reload (unlike in CoE3) is really pointless in the single player point of view, a burden coming from multiplayer.

Overall point of view, I still need discover more Dominion 3 and play more both Conquest of Elysium 3 and Dominion 3. But I'm very happy to have discover those games.

I agree they are totally different games, in fact the most original and unique is the more casual one ie Conquest of Elysium 3, but clearly Dominion 3 is at another level, overall the 4X sub genre of heroes of might & magic series, but they succeed find a different approach not related to the most know, king bounties, hom&m, king bounties the legend, civilization.

For now Endless Space (you should try it if you hadn't) did impress me more but it's more through important but also secondary elements, mood and lore, and interface design. Two elements where Dominion 3 is flawed. But Endless Space is clearly on the path of civilization and just succeed totally change it but still the same road. When Dominion 3 is building another road, I could not have played enough kings bounty original but remove it its big tactical fights and gives it automatic fights and it's a crap unlike Dominion 3 and Conquest of Elysium 3.

For Conquest of Elysium 3 it's just something in another area than all those 4X games. It's casual 4X with a relative depth and an excellent achievement (for casual) of giving a strong adventure mood to 4X. Something attempted and failed last editions of hom&m series, somethings very far to have reach as well the king's bounty original and the legend series. The only one I know that succeed partially well too is Endless Space thanks to the lore and events. But ES doesn't reach the same level of exploration fun than in CoE3.

Edit:
About the army positions setup I wrote there was missing an option to see in position map only armies groups attacking a town. But it's here, you select the town attacked and type y and you get the army setup panel with only those attacking town and those already inside the town (sneakers). Good point but there's no interface element to suggest it and few other major points are like that.

That team still has a lot to learn about interface design. It's not a detail, interface is a major point in game. A bad interface can make pointlessly more difficult the discovering of a game, or even a replay after a long time. Even more important is that a bad interface can burden a lot the gameplay by involving frequent tedious manipulations. And for complex game it's highly important for both points. And no, nobody read the manual, at best some players will check the options to change the controls to get a list of possible commands, but that's a poor game design solution.
Last edited by Ihaterpg; June 11th, 2013 at 14:35.
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