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Welcome to the Best Guide in the Universe

What we will cover here are some very fundamental concepts to begin with, while moving into more detailed concepts with various different sort of explanations for each concept. I will create some videos showing off several of the concepts, which I will link here. Pictures will have to do for some concepts.

We will cover the topics listed below and if you are interested in a specific topic then there are links in the table of contents to the side.

Last but not least, sit back and enjoy the ride. Never, ever forget to THINK, question every concept, make them yours and don't take someone else's "This is OP" as the god-given truth.

Topics to be covered

Kingdom Management : This is where I will talk about a way of thinking that hopefully helps with controlling your nation and making the correct decisions in order to win the game. It can be applied in general to any nation but throughout the guide I will refer to the concepts defined in this section and how you can apply them for a more successful game. Knowing how to manage your kingdom is the most important thing in this game, because it is the way you win.

Pretender Design : I will review what I consider some of the best pretender designs. Explain in detail why, and when, I choose those pretenders and hopefully convince you that they can be worthwhile choices. This will not include too much detail when it comes to the execution of strategy but I will try to cover it to a certain degree.

Early Expansion : In this section I will cover what expansions I find to be the best. I will not go into every single kind of expansion but will instead talk exclusively about non-awake expansions. Awake expanders simply make expanding trivial and should therefore not be included in a detailed overview of various expansion options(in my opinion).

Research Goals : Here I will talk about what you want to research early, and why. This will be pretty in depth so if you are not a fan of theory and execution I would recommend skipping this part till a later date. I will also cover some situations and matchups where your starting research changes, explain why it changes and some situations where your pretender design also changes heavily due to matchups.

Point Buffing : Here I will teach you how to think about optimizing your own point buffing with Pythium, thinking about what it is good against, when to use it, and when not to use it.

Magic : In this section I will talk in detail about the combat magic you have access to, talking a bit about what your communions give you access to. This section will go into more detail than the research goal part about the spells you will be casting in the mid game.
It will be split into rituals and combat spells talking in detail about the spells I think are worth casting, why they are worth casting and then talking in less detail about spells I do not believe are worth casting and why they are not worth casting…

These are very important aspects when it comes to exploring Pythium as a nation and deserve to be looked at in detail.

TODO: Add to macro - Item creation, communions, thugging, expanding. TODO: Add to micro - Army movements, raiding, unit commands.

NOTE: If you disagree with any of these, then feel free to message me on discord. It should be easy to find me and I am always willing to adapt my views if the reasoning is good enough.

Kingdom management

What makes your nation strong? What makes your nation weak?

I want you to take a moment and think about these two questions in depth…

You could say it is the mages that your nation gets. It could be the sacreds that you have access to and the bless that you take to enable those sacreds. It could be the strong units that you get or the scales and magic paths you choose.

I would like to argue that most of all it is the player that influences his nation. It is his skill in using the tools that are available to the nation. In order to achieve that, the player needs to understand the tools, understand the strengths of the nation and its weaknesses, and how to use that knowledge to claw his way to victory.

I find that for kingdom management, it helps to think of things in term of macro and micro. I have not seen these terms defined for Dominions before so I will do my best to make a coherent and detailed definition for these two concepts, while aiming to keep it clear and understandable.


The decisions you make on how to shape your empire(Note that this applies only to the decision that the player makes, but not he executes those decisions. Macro could be seen as the decision you make on the world map.

How you manage the recruitment and movements of your expansion parties in the early game. 
How you form borders and do diplomacy with your neighbors. 
How you build your forts, the amount of forts you build, and their placement.
How you manage income, expenditure, and upkeep. 
How you balance mage and army recruitment vs more infrastructure.
How you plan for wars and how you manage your research with said wars in mind. 
When to wage war and when not to wage war.
How you balance mages for research vs for war. 
How you scout in order to be able to make informed decisions about your neighbors.
How you site search and why.
How you gear your thugs/SCs and why.
And many other things.

It is how you plan the buildup of your empire and why you plan it like you do. Macro is about understanding of the game flow, and understanding of matchups. When to cut down on unit production in order to afford an extra fort or continued mage recruitment. When you need to build up an army to prepare for the next war. These are decisions you make which define the options available to you during war.


How you execute your macro decisions, it is how you turn a losing fight into a winning fight. How you use magic to win a battle, how you position your units for buffs, and the how you execute your planned counters.

I believe this might be a bit vague, which is understandable given the complexity of defining these terms for a game such as Dominions 5. However it could help to look at the list above and compare the macro and micro elements.

How you use your recruited armies to expand, how you set them up to deal with various different scenarios they might face. The battle scripts you give to your units.
How you move your armies during war, how you set up traps for your opponent and how you outmanouver traps you believe your opponent has set for you.
How you apply the armies you have created and the magic you have researched to fight your opponent.
Positioning your troops and mages to counter the army composition your enemy brings.
How you execute raiding, predicting what your opponent is most likely to do.
How you move your scouts to achieve the information you want.
How you apply your thugs and SCs to achieve the goal they were made for.
How you attempt to optimize army movement, mage movement, site searching, and every aspect of execution. 

Macro is how you set yourself up for wars… Micro is how you win wars.

Pretender Design

Pythium is a very powerful nation in the midgame. They have very good researchers and early game troops, allowing them to handily fend off rushes by several nations. However they do have their weaknesses so ultimate pretender design is of course up to personal preference.

Here are some of the designs I like using and others that I consider viable given certain situations.

Note: The following segment needs work since I am doing this without access to the game or pretender design it is based mostly around memory… I will not go into too much detail yet.

Awake Pretenders

  • Drakon

Magic paths: earth 66nature 77
Scales: Dominion strength3Turmoil1Productivity1Heat3Growth1Misfortune3Magic2
An option mostly for blitzes, this will prevent several early game rush nations(mostly elf nations) from being very annoying in the early game, as well as give you really good earth and nature site searching. The big flaws for this design is that you will probably have to empower in earth to get matrixes or empower lars in astral for the access. Since I do believe crystal matrix access is very important for MA Pythium. Use this if you are in a match with few players and you don't feel confident about your understanding of the nation.

Dormant Pretenders

  • Frost Father

Magic Paths: fire 33air 33water 33earth 33astral 44death 11nature 44blood 11
Scales: Dominion strength3Order1Productivity3Heat3Growth2Misfortune3Magic3
My preferred pretender is dormant relative rainbow. I will post gyazo links to the design and then explain the resoning behind said design.

The reasoning behind the bless is mostly mage related. It prevents mass aoe spells from killing your mages and communion slaves to a large degree. Will make you immune to several spells such as fire storm, fv(assuming you either go 10-15 pr or cast resist poison with N1 mages), most of the cloud spells, and reducing the effectiveness of air elementals vs your mages. The penetration can be replaced with far caster depending on preference. Unaging can also be removed for higher poison resist and some hp to regen 2 hp on communion slaves instead of 1.

I will talk about base expanding strategies with this pretender and these scales in mind.

  • Freak Lord

Very interesting approach in that you can get into relatively good blood. It does sacrifice some aspects but does open up high blood by itself. If you are fine with slowly gathering blood slaves over the course of the game this pretender can break you into heliophagi, vampires, arch devils, and demon lords.

  • Divine Emperor

Lack of hand slot makes this pretender relatively bad at getting to air boosters. However the 4 misc slots make him the best design for casting arcane nexus from a low level of astral. A very solid approach but not quite a frost father in regards to pure design bless on an elemental rainbow.

Imprisoned Pretenders

  • Frost Father
  • Divine Emperor
  • Oracle

Starting Expansion

TODO : Add a video showing off expansion.

Turn 1-2

  • Turn 1:
    • Here we start off with a normal Centurion or an Emerald Lord, and queue up a Theurg Acolyte. Our unit recruitment will be one standard, 20 or so retiarius, and then the rest of your resources into preferential picks. Remember to prophet your starting commander for a better expansion and spreading your scales early on.
  • Turn 2:
    • Here we finish our recruitment by completing the Theurg Acolyte and another Centurion/Emerald Lord. We will do the same recruitment of units to get 3 expanding parties out. For the actual expansion, aim to expand with your prophet and his starting army, while grouping the standard with the retiri on the commander you recruited turn one for +2 morale which will definitely help a lot vs the early indies. This should get you new provinces during turn 2 for a total of 3 provinces at the start of turn 3 allowing you to start up some solid unit production very early on.

Turn 3-4

  • Turn 3: Bring your first expansion party back and change recruitment to one mage per turn. Here there are many different things you could recruit. Some of my favorite recruitments for this part include:
    • A few emerald guards to get a very simple expansion party out that can take out some of the weaker provinces.
    • Hastatus. This expansion variant is very good if you can start a palisade with either the turn 2 or turn 3 expansion force. This is not quite as good as emerald guards since you will probably need 2 turns of recruitment unless you add retiarius.
    • More retarius in case you have high cav or high barb provinces in your cap circle.

At this point you want to aim at starting your first palisade as soon as possible.

  • Turn 4: This is when your second created expansion party should be about to come back to your capital for reinforcements. Pretty much a repeat of turn 4. You should have completed most of your cap circle setting you up for the switch at the start of turn 5.

Turn 5-6

  • Turn 5: Here you want to start recruiting serpent cataphracts alongside 1 standard. A group of 8-12 serpent cataphracts can take almost any indie province as well beat bumps with other players due to their immense strength in the early game. Every other turn you should be making an expansion party and sending that party out to clear the more difficult indies that you have spotted.
  • Turn 6: Finish up recruiting a commander for your cataphract expansion, keep an eye out on your gold and attempt to get up as many forts as you can to prepare for mid game research boost as well as setting up raiding.

NOTE: Keep an eye out for fort completion, you want to have 1 Theurg acolyte move to the fort when there is 1 turn until it is completed in order to make a temple and then a lab to start pumping out more mages.

Turn 7-12

These turns are your buildup as you prepare for the mid game, you want to aim for at least 5 forts which will give you a very solid point to grow from, if you successfully got 20 provinces then you can easily afford to go 6-7 forts. Get up scouts from indie provinces to get a grasp of your surroundings and find a target that you can take on in the early-mid game. Opening up for your pretender popping out at 12 to site search mountains, forests, wastes, and swamps.

Research Goals

This might be the most important section to understanding why we do what we do and how to discover your powerspikes in relation to your neighbors. Nothing here is set in stone, but these are your early research goals with situations when you want to go for them.

The most important research goals

  • Alteration 3: For luck.
  • Thaumaturgy 2: For communion master and mind burn.
  • Conj 6: For Lars, Harbingers, and Great Eagles.
  • Const 4: For Matrixes and several other items.(Get this after Lars unless you are going const 6 rush).
  • Const 6: For Banner of the Northern Star and several other items.

Research for early raiding

  • Alteration 3: Sets you up for luck, allowing you to make very effective raiding forces and have a solid frontline in early fights. Stop here if you know your first target has a magic weapon bless.
  • Alteration 4: Unlocks body etherial, allowing your raiding forces to clear insane amounts of pd without any losses. Raiding groups with luck and body etherial are a huge menace for many nations and can be very hard to counter if the enemy is not prepared to deal with it.
  • Evocation 1: Allows your theurg acolytes to cast a combat spell that can be used while outside of a communion, meaning they do not start blinking…

When fighting low mr nations with troops with less than 12 hp

Here you have two main approaches which are both very strong, depending on whether they have cold resist or not.

  • Approach 1: Bring along a solid army of javelin throwers while casting freezing mists to shred their army to pieces, or bring along a communion mage wall to buff, holding the enemy in place while your magic destroys them.
    • The communion wall approach can be very hard to execute and might need you to commit your god if you have not gotten lars or an e1/s1 indie.
    • Troop approach requires evo 3 and thaum 1 only, alt 3 can help if you want to buff your units with luck.
    • The communion slave approach requires alt 4, evo 3, ench 3, thauma 1 and an earth caster inside a communion.
  • Approach 2: Aim for luck fluffed frontline with mind burn communion/LotNS.
    • Easier to accomplish and can have devastating effects early on when the enemy is not prepared.
    • Alt 3 for luck fluffing your frontline.
    • Thaumaturgy 2 for mind burn.
    • Construction 6 for banner of the northern star. (Can be skipped if needed but it makes your mages able to cast mind burn outside of communions, which in turn makes your mind burn casting very effective and prevents you from needing to bring along slaves that might die too early).

When fighting giant nations

A list of giant nations in the Middle Ages

This is usually a very swingy type of matchup. Pythium usually struggles vs giant nations in the early game while that turns around very quickly in the mid game. As such diplomacy and raiding can be very good ways of delaying a giant nation until you have your core research up. Depending on the which nation you are facing it drastically changes your starting research though soul slay is always a very important early research rush.

  • Approach 1: This is where you will do early raiding, knowing that if you attack him before he attacks you it will get you several extra turns of research most of the time.
    • Get early alteration 3, then start rushing up thaumaturgy 5.
    • Once you get thaumaturgy 5, group up your s1 mages with 8-10 communion slaves, luck buff your frontline and spam soul slay. Protect your backline from attack rear commands and you should be very good.
    • Evocation 3 for magic duel if the giant nation has astral magic and might be going up to antimagic.
  • Approach 2: Awake researcher, rush thaumaturgy 5… You just need to be able to kill the hellbless units coming around turn 10.. Mostly applicable if you know your closest nation is Ashdod and that you are the weakest nation to a rush out of all his neighbors.

Point Buffing with Pythium

First and foremost we must realize what point buffs we have available to us and the difficulty of casting said point buffs.

The easiest:

  • Cheat Fate
  • Luck
  • Body Etherial


  • Quikness
  • Gift of Flight
  • Protection


  • Earth Might
  • Enlarge
  • Mossbody
  • Iron Will

These are pretty much the only point buffs Pythium has access to. Now you might think to yourself "Wow… that's a lot" however these are split very annoyingly between your units, several of thse can only be cast by lars and arch theurgs and can be said to be pretty much useless outside of very niche situations. Perhaps showing which mage can cast which buffs will put this into better perspective.

Theurg Acolyte:

  • Cheat Fate
  • Luck
  • Body Etherial

Random N indie:

  • Protection

Arch Theurg:

  • Quickness
  • Gift of Flight


  • Enlarge
  • Mossbody
  • Iron Will

Only 3 of the point buffs listed can be cast with low commitment and outside of communion. Therefor these 3 will be the main focus of our point buffing strategies. That is not to say the other point buffs have no place in our overall strategy, but those places are few and far between. A few of these such as Iron Will and Protection are hardly worth spending Lar turns on and I would not recommend casting those, your mage simply has better things to do…

Let us look at point buffing from the perspective of small raiding. I will split this overview into a few different scenarios, to give a better understanding of how it works.

1 theurg acolyte decides to go out and raid. He is size 2 and he can buff 2 squares while hold and attack is in effect. First of all he needs to decide what spell he should buff with:

  • Cheat Fate
  • Luck
  • Body Etherial

Here we will talk about what spells are the best in this context.

If we look at Cheat Fate then we can see that it negates the first hit done to our unit. This can be relatively strong versus cavalry with lances that break after the first hit. Aside from that use, it mostly has synergy with mirror image and spells that can break upon getting hit, increasing their effective duration. However, since we are dealing with neither of those scenarios here, this spell is very lackluster for us.

Now let's look at Luck. Luck has uses for human troops, giving them a 75% chance to negate a killing blow, this is very strong and definitely something we should aim for since we want to keep our troops alive. However, unless we are dealing with an enemy that has magic weapons, this is not the optimal point buffing spell since it only kicks in if the blow would have otherwise killed our units.

If we look at Body Etherial, we can see that it has an effect that is very similar to luck. It negates 75% of ALL non magical blows, meaning that against non magical weapons it is strictly the better option. Luck and body etherial stack very well together but in order to put up an effective raiding force and keeping your mage lineup small, body etherial is our best option.

So… after looking at his options, the Theurg Acolyte decides to point buff with body etherial. Now he has to make another choice… Will he buff himself, or should he buff an extra unit that goes on the front line. In most cases buffing himself in the first turn will drastically increase his survivability due to the chance of now avoiding stray arrows that might hit him. Since he want's to stay alive he can at most lead 5 units that he "reliably" buffs into combat. (Perhaps he can get 3 buffs off on emerald guards due to their low combat speed, but even then Body Etherial is a 0 precision spell).

So, we have 1 Theurg Acolyte and x5 human troops that want to head out and capture a province. We could increase this amount to 2 Acolytes and x10 human troops. Now the only remaining thing to think about is… how much do we need for various different pd strengths.


Here we will look at magic from two different perspectives, ritual spells and combat spells. Ritual spells are more macro focused while deciding upon combat spells is more micro focused.

Ritual Magic

Combat Magic/Communions

guide/chirno-s-pyth-guide.txt · Last modified: 2020/02/18 18:50 by chirno