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Maerlande's Monkey Madness

This guide was first featured on Maerlande's website. As such any updates to the guide will happen there first and hopefully make it here.

I originally wrote this guide for Dominions 3 in roughly 2010 after a series of successful games playing these two nations with a focus on going into blood magic to prop up some of the weaknesses of the two nations. You can view the original on the wayback machine here: Monkey Madness Dominions 3

I've had one successful game in Dominions 5 with Patala where we formed a coalition to defeat an extremely dangerous Lemuria and we agreed to give the win to the strongest member of the coalition. I have not played any games with Bandar Log since Dominions 5 was released but much of the ideas here still apply.

The major changes to the game particularly with the new way resistances work and the simultaneous battles have major effect on strategy and tactics. I am going to adjust my recommendations to suit.

General Guidelines

Both Bandar Log and Patala have superb astral power and amazing national summons to leverage that power. However, these cost tremendous numbers of astral pearls and there are never enough for everything you want to do. You must adapt and you must conserve pearls.

In Dominions 3, the item Clam of Pearls provided one permanent astral pearl per turn each and you could forge as many as you could find water and nature gems. It's my opinion that the high prices for astral summons were based upon this concept and they have not changed significantly since although the clam now only provides a temporary gem in battle. My personal experience is you can get enough pearls for mage summons, forging, battle magic and some global spells. But you can't afford troops from astral spells which is somewhat of a disappointed as the gandharvas are a very nice unit.

One of my motivations for going for serious blood hunting is to improve this situation by providing diversity magi, thugs, troops and forging using blood slaves. It's not my intent to compete as a major blood nation since you have to start small and build slowly.

Both nations have access to all the national summons of Lanka and this combined with astral power makes for a terrific late game: massed combination communion/sabbaths with every path in the game. To use this amazing power you have to plan. There are a few ways to get a blood economy going with monkeys.

  1. The first is a pretender designed to start hunting quickly.
  2. The second is scout and commander blood hunting.
  3. The third is buy slaves from an ally.

My preference is the pretender and trade. It takes a very long time to hunt with scouts and cheap commanders.

Both Bandar Log and Patala have excellent capability to enter the water and fight hard. This is due to the poor amphibian nature of nagas and it's important to realize that Bandar Log gets cost effective access to the nagas of Patala via conjuration magic and water gems. I will go over nagas in more detail later as they have significant power but are a challenge from some weaknesses.

In terms of gems, the key gems for both of these nations are water, astral and nature. Of course, you can make good use of the other gems but these are your go to resources. And that quickly leads to the desire to get Maelstrom up as a global. One of the fun things is that both nations can do awesome things with water gems and you can usually trade for water gems in multiplayer.

Design Goals

When building a nation and pretender I use a method based on strengths and weaknesses. In general you can either fix your weaknesses or boost your strengths. Both are valid but trying to do a mix of each is generally a fail.

General Review

  • Weaknesses
  • Strengths
  • Leveraging Strengths
  • Overcoming Weaknesses
  • Elephants


  • Monkey troops are mostly poor. They are expensive for the value and don't have solid general use. There are a few exceptions.
  • All your recruitable troops except sacreds have poor magic resistance. You must either avoid situations with magic resistance negate spells or use antimagic liberally.
  • Your big bandars are expensive and take resources which you normally won't have.
  • Your shields are all bucklers which are minimal.
  • You have no native fire magic until conjuration 9 which for a massed archer nation is painful.
  • You have no native death magic until conjuration 9 (or national blood summons!).
  • Bandars are size 3 and therefore vulnerable to swarm tactics.
  • You have weak priests (or expensive magi with holy 1) so bless strats can be a challenge.
  • You will always be short on pearls.
  • Bandar Log has mediocre sacred troops that are cheap and available in any fort with temple. The Tiger riders from the capital are effective while not stellar compared to other sacred cavalry.
  • Patala's sacreds have limited utility due to high resource cost or lack of armour as well as cold blooded and encumbrance problems.
  • Most of your troops have the "animal" tag. This has some odd game effects. I say odd as it's not very intuitive how it hinders or helps.
  • You have elephants.


  • Bandar troops have high hitpoints and excellent strength. Add this to heavy weapons and they can crack amour, hold up walls, and crack walls very well.
  • Markata can be brilliant in certain situations. For example, markata swarms can expand against heavy cavalry due to extremely high defence and size 1 swarm tactics. They are undisciplined so your options for scripting are limited.
  • You have superb sacred magi. Research is excellent. Diversity is particularly good if you use your summons. High level access is easily available for earth, water, astral and nature magic.
  • You have wonderful astral summons which diversify you into fire, air and death magic although the cost in research and pearls is high.
  • You have summonable H3 priests to fix the blessing issue.
  • You have access to all the a national summons of Lanka which opens up strong air, death and blood magic. These summons are also excellent thugs and SC's and are not unique so you can summon as many as you can afford.
  • You have elephants. (I know I know. I put this as both a strength and a weakness.)

Light Bandar Warriors are surprisingly good. Their sticks and stones have good range with 15 strength and hit hard as well. They shoot twice a round in combat. Use strength of giants or rush of strength to give Light Bandars the range of short bows. They also make excellent wall defenders or crushers.

Leveraging Strengths

  • Go for blood massively. Of course, if you've read this far you know it's the point of this entire guide.
  • Use point buffing and later larger scale buff spells in battle from your broad choice of magic paths. Here are some quick suggestions: body ethereal, luck, mossbody, iron warriors, strength of giants, protection and others.
  • Choose a bless that leverages your amazing blood summons and your recruitable and summoned thugs.
  • Use communions to enable casting high level spells or cast more spells in battle.

Overcoming Weaknesses

Some of these ideas are mutually exclusive. I am listing them so you can see there are options when designing a pretender.

  • Support your monkey troops with the spell antimagic when meeting things like other astral nations or mind blasting troops in battle.
  • Take some death on your pretender to get death magic going early. Revenants are a cheap solution to searching for death gems.
  • Use the luck scale. There are excellent heroes for both nations that can help a great deal and it's even better if using the very popular mod: Worthy Heroes
  • Multiple minor blesses can shore up a number of weaknesses and boost thugging with less need for forged equipment.
  • Use an awake monster pretender to improve early expansion.


Be careful with elephants. There are many good discussions of these weird units but my general belief is that they are severely overpriced given how easy they are to counter. I like to use them in year 1 for expansion but beyond that I generally suicide them since the upkeep is horrific. If you want tramplers later, earth and ice elementals are much more cost effective. One excellent trick is to send five elephants out with a Yogi and cast Body Ethereal on them. Later on if you still have some around or really enjoy them you can also get them to fly with your astral or blood air magi.



Heat scalesHeat vs Cold scalesCold

They prefer heat 2 which gives I consider has two options. The first is go with heat 3 for 40 design points. This will have a light effect on income since temperature scales moves around a bit from summer to winter. Alternately you can go for neutral temperature for 80 design points. I don't recommend cold 1 especially with Patala since your important naga magi are cold blooded. There is also a strategic choice here. If you are expected cold preference nations it is a major disadvantage to allow their cold to seep into your lands. I usually go with heat 3.

Productivity scales Productivity vs Sloth scales Sloth

This is a difficult choice. Production gives good gold income and the ability to make high resource units quickly on demand is helpful. Historically people recommend full sloth scale for monkey nations but in Dominions 5 I think it's a more granular situation. As you work on your pretender idea this is a scale worth moving up or down to find points. One solution to sloth is to use gold to build more forts to compensate.

Order scales Order vs Turmoil scales Turmoil and Luck scales Luck vs Misfortune scales Misfortune

Here things get interesting. I personally enjoy playing under luck scale. This analysis by Taorec gives a lot of detail: Scales Analysis I quite like using luck 3 for both of these nations particularly for the increase gem income. Depending on your pretender design and need for points, I prefer going getting points by reducing order even as far as turmoil 3 to pay for other important things. The loss of gold and recruitment points is significant but like all choices in pretender design there are costs and benefits.

Growth scalesGrowth vs Death scalesDeath

This is a blood design. Growth 3 is wanted for avoiding population loss from hunting and patrolling and for the gold. You could go with Growth 1 but I don't recommend it. You are going to want to patrol like mad and you don't want excessive loss of gold.

Magic scalesMagic vs Drain scalesDrain

I am very fond of as much magic scale as you can afford since you have very cheap researchers in yogis so this leverages well.

Favourite Chassis

As described above, I recommend having blood magic on your pretender to get the blood economy going as fast as possible. With some luck (and luck scale) you may get the blood 3 hero for either nation but that is not guaranteed and may come late. So here are a few pretender chassis I like for this build.

To make your blood economy the core unit is the national spell Summon Dakini which requires research to blood magic 6, magic of air 1 and blood 4 and 81 slaves. This need for air magic is quite critical and there are two solutions. You can take air and blood on the pretender or plan to empower a Kinnara from the conjuration spell using pearls to summon. The first is more reliable.

A second option to start a decent blood economy requires using a hidden mechanic. Summon Asrapa at research of blood 3 provides 11 Asrapa. In the Mod inspector you can view that they have hidden blood 1 and holy 1 magic if made into commanders using Gift of Reason or Divine Name. So if you have more nature gems than slaves this is an interesting option.


Fountain of Blood comes with blood 3 and dominion 4 as an immobile. I like to give it astral 3 or more to teleport and you want to give it a bit of air magic to Summon Dakini. If you don't add astral you will only be able to use it in your capital for blood hunting and that has significant gold cost. The air spell cloud trapeze does not work on immobiles. It will gather slaves very quickly.


Devi of Darkness comes with earth 1 and blood 2 and can be a reasonable expander with two built-in weapons, four arms, some armour, fear, and the ability to use early earth buffs. Each additional point of earth magic increases protection and allows some good blesses. Again you will want to add air magic for Dakini.


Man-Eater is also earth and blood but like all monsters the new path cost is very high. Like the Devi it's a viable expander and gives you that initial hunting ability. The population killer is a bit of a nuisance but with at least some growth scale can be managed.


Ghost King With new path cost of 20 the Ghost King is an interesting near rainbow. I have successfully used Ghost Kings to expand from about turn 4 and up by forging a trinket shield and weapon with whatever gems you happen to have around. Later you can add an armour. I don't recommend trying to expand without any gear since its natural weapon is very weak. A quick research rush in alteration solves the protection issue. Watch out for magic weapons that negate it's ethereal.

Great Enchantress is my favourite true rainbow for any astral nation due to the free astral pearl each turn. Many people prefer the Great Sage for the research boost and that is a viable alternative but with these nations pearls are very valuable.


In order to get a blood economy going in enough time to be relevant to the game, I choose either awake or dormant. For the Devi, Man-Eater and Ghost King I go awake so that they can help expand. The other choices are good dormant. You are probably too busy expanding for the first 12 turns to have time to blood hunt with the pretender.


With the expanders you can choose any handy incarnate bless. I am very fond of the fire and shock resistance from earth magic 5 which continues to remain viable throughout the game. Blood surge also works well since to get any blood bless you need a minimum of 4 points. I prefer blood surge to blood bond but you can make your own choice. You will be hard pressed to afford any air bless but that is an option. Basically you'll have Air, Earth and Blood on any of those.

With the Fountain of Blood, it's viable to go with Air 4, Astral 4 and Blood 6 dormant while keeping good scales. Shock resist and precision are solid for your magi. With astral, Patala gains some good advantage with Arcane Command if planning to use nagas. Bandar has little need for it. As an astral nation, Arcane Finesse is a wise bless to improve penetration. Blood surge is still about the best for the blood magic and top up with Strong Vitae if you have leftover points.

For the Great Enchantress, I go dormant and 3 in every path with 5 in astral. That way you can have all the little blesses cheaply. That 5 in astral is to easily allow forging Ring of Sorcery and Ring of Wizardry which are very useful to have one around for key boosting.


A incredibly popular topic back in Dominion 3 was how can you win with those crappy Markata. Before they were made undisciplined there were some tricks. Overall though, I now only buy markata during expansion in small numbers. A few can soak those lance hits from heavy cavalry and save you losing valuable troops. You also get stuck with one of the crappiest starting armies in the game. Flinging monkey poo is just not enough.

You are monkeys. It's time to apply some intelligence to expansion. You don't need resources early so don't worry about getting all the provinces around the capital. Rush for choke points. Mark off a piece of territory and negotiate. Leave provinces near home for later. Swap provinces with a neighbour if required. Don't worry about the province graph if you have moved outwards and looped back. You can catch up. Besides, you will never be the biggest with this strategy. Accept a moderate 12-15 provinces year one.

A note on Markata: I have successfully taken a heavy cavalry province with markata. I usually buy very few and wait to take out heavy cavalry later, but if you have to it works. Use at least 5:1 ratios and you need proper archer decoying. But each markata absorbs a lance hit (pretty funny to see each lance only do 5 hps). After that, the cavalry miss a lot at defence 14 and you get swarming going from size 1. It works. Tested and tried.

Bandar Log Expansion

In the case of Bandar Log, you have viable sacreds. If you took one of the light bless ideas, both Tiger Riders and White Ones work. Tigers are cost effective and with 3 attacks and 2 forms they expand quite well with minimal help. Of course, you need a priest. The prophet works fine for the first expansion army. For that reason, I prophetize the Bandar Commander and not the scout. A 5 hp prophet is a bit too fragile for my taste. But that only gets you one army. Damn. You could burn one capital only commander recruitment on a priest. Or you can hold back and buy some elephants as money arrives. A cheap priest and Vanara Captain can be recruited together for one turn of commander points and is an effective option for your second army. The bandar commanders are nice but a lot more expensive and the army won't be very big.

So now what do you have? You probably can't move out till turn 3. But don't feel bad. Generally, I take my 5-6 tigers and half the start army. Prophet sits sort of middle and scripts Divine Bless and SMITE SMITE SMITE. The Atavi infantry sits just ahead of him on fire closest. Split your Markata archers in half. Put one squad up top right (or left) on fire. Keep the other squad behind your Atavi. Set your tigers slightly behind your prophet and below on the opposite side to the markata on attack rear.

In the interim you will need gold for fort 2 and temple 2 and lab 2. I recommend sticking with Yogis as your go to mage in year 1. They are enough for solid research and then you get to phase 2 of expansion.

Yogis can open up the use of point buffing for expansion if you rush alteration research. I am not an expert at this technique and welcome comments from anyone who has tried it with Bandar Log or Patala.

Patala Expansion

Your sacreds are terrible. Ignore them. Buy elephants. Simple enough. Some Bandar Warriors for morale boost helps. And some Markata screens. Get your research running solid and you have the identical Body Ethereal trick to use.

Well okay. The sacreds are not that terrible in Dominions 5 due to a couple very useful features for taking water provinces. They have great poison resistance and there is a lot of poison damage on the independent tribes in the water. They also have the hynotize ranged attack that helps to break up formations. Depending on the map, I buy a few and lead them with a Nagaraja or Nagarishi to take nearby water provinces. But they are damn poor on land.

Building a Blood Economy

The core for your blood economy, and the reason to bother, is the national summons you inherit from Lanka. There are no unique summons in this group which means you have unlimited blood hunting potential. The only other blood makes blood route in the game for any nations without unique summon limits is vampire lords. They require fairly high death and blood paths are are not an easy route.

The Lanka summons go beyond this guide and are best reviewed in a Lanka guide. But let's go over the key ones for a blood economy. Whether you use your pretender or scout and commander hunting to get your first slaves these are the key hunters in your magic.

The Asrapas: Summon Asrapas, Blood 3 research, Blood 2 to cast and 11 slaves cost. This gets you 5 pretty useless troops but that's not the wonder. Asrapas have a hidden B1 magic when made commanders by Gift of Reason. This means that you can get your first set with 91 blood slaves (empower 1 = 50, empower 2 = 30 plus 11 to cast). This will take a while but is by no means hard. Now you have real hunters. It will burn some nature gems but there is no downside. You have nature in hordes. And it's very low on the research tree.

The Dakini: Summon Dakini, Blood 6 research, Air 1 Blood 4 to cast, 81 slaves. With monster paths and super thugging ability, the Dakini is the core of your economy. Once you have begun to summon Dakini you can roll out in power and style. In order to make life easy if not using a pretender with blood magic, I tend to empower a Kinnara from Conjuration 6 for summoning Dakini. Given that both Bandar and Patala have excellent research you should be able to get to Conj 6 while scout hunting, get a Kinnara, and make that your first blood mage while you then prep Blood 3 research and get some Thistle maces made.

The Danava: Summon Danavas, Blood 8 research, Blood 5 to cast, 75 slaves. You get 3 troop giants with sacred and horrific base equipment. Davana are the heavy lifting beasts of the Lanka summons. But the important part for this discussion is they have secret paths with Gift of Reason. Check out them on the mod inspector or wiki. You will get various versions with air and blood magic. A2 are your cloud trapezing brutes. A1 can become commanders of other Danava. The blood versions can hunt while defending border provinces or go off fighting with blood vengeance buff. And if you get some crappy randoms, they actually make pretty good reanimators in border provinces. I happen to really like the monkey ghouls (pisacha). They are not mindless, have high str, and give you some solid fort crackers for dirt cheap.

And that is that for now! Feel free to discuss this in the comments here or on the Discord server. Enjoy and fling poo with enthusiam.

maerlande-monkey-madness.txt · Last modified: 2021/11/20 06:45 by wigglefig