posted 4/27/2005 by Charles Husemann
other articles by Charles Husemann
One Page Platforms: PC
Turn based strategy games are rare and good ones are even rarer so I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed Domination. As the follow-up to Massive Assault, it will provide gamers with rock solid game play and an incredibly large amount of single and multiplayer content.

The back drop of the game has you playing one of two sides in an intergalactic battle between the Free Nations Union and the upstart Phantom League. The Phantom League was defeated at the end of Massive Assault but is back with new weapons and the element of surprise. The plot has serious Russian history overtones as the Phantom League spouts a lot of Leninist type propaganda but understanding the plot of the game isn’t overly important as it is filler to setup the various missions.

At its core, the game is a standard hex-based turn based strategy game. Units can move X hexes each and have a weapons range of X. What Wargaming.Net has done though is to wrap those hexes in a beautiful 3D landscape. Terrain and elevation also play roles in the game as land units have extended range on paved roads and can’t move over mountains without the help of aerial transport units. It’s nothing new or groundbreaking but it’s something that did a great job of implementing.

The game does take a little bit of getting used to though, as each turn is broken into several phases. The first is your standard movement and firing phase, the second phase is the recruitment phase (where you purchase and place units), and the final phase is the disclose phase. Disclose phase you ask? The disclose phase is part of the Secret Allies feature of the game. In order to best explain this, I need to back up a bit. When you start the game, the map is broken out into countries and each player is given a certain amount of those countries. The rest of the countries are neutral and when invaded will provide units for the other team. The trick is that you won’t know if a country is truly neutral or not until the country is disclosed. This means that until all of the “secret allies” are disclosed you’re not sure if the country you’ve invaded is truly neutral. This doesn’t seem like much until you’ve already moved past a country and all of a sudden an army shows up well behind your front line and starts reclaiming territories. It’s a nice concept since you have to weigh the lost opportunity to generate units versus the chance to provide a nice surprise for your opponent.

The game provides a nice tutorial that will run you through the basics and familiarize you with the phases that constitute each turn. Each turn is broken into three and sometimes four stages. If your opponent invades a neutral country, the first stage is the guerilla phase where you place the units to help the invaded country defend itself. I’ve nicked named this the bastard phase because this is where you have to prevent the enemy from taking the country over. This entails being as much of a bastard as possible, doing things like putting long range units at the back of the country or placing a few high hit point units in the country. The next phase is your typical move and shoot phase, followed by the recruitment phase (purchase units but only in countries where you have complete control), and finally the disclose phase (if you have any secret allies that you haven’t disclosed yet). The tutorial does a good job of walking you through each of the phases and getting you into the game.
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