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Domination Victory is achieved by conquering the original capitals of all other Civilizations. It is the most direct, no-nonsense pursuit to victory, and can be achieved far sooner than other paths. Despite the appealing simplicity however, it has a number of disadvantages. In many ways, a Domination Victory is the opposite of a Diplomatic Victory; expect few allies, if any, and many enemies. Other Civilizations will likely object to the conquest of their neighbors and catch on to your longterm aims. Consequently, they will often bind together against you. Almost all of your gold will have to be allocated to the army, and extra funds will usually be hard to come by. Additionally, your cities will often be underdeveloped, with their production being focused on soldiers rather than buildings.
But as you gradually accumulate a huge landmass and the accompanying resources, your empire will surpass all others in sheer potential. With pervasive development plans aimed at Science and Production, your Civilization will effortlessly become a frontrunner in both pursuits. Your capital, insulated by miles and miles of your own territory, will be difficult for invaders to reach. Fringe cities on the other hand, are likely to be perpetually beleaguered, until they too can be insulated by your foreign conquests and cease to be border towns.
An important factor in this victory path is developing your siege units faster than your enemies develope their cities’ defenses. Upgrading your catapults to trebuchets, your trebuchets to cannon, and your cannon to artillery should be a major priority. These units, perhaps more than any, are pivotal to your success in conquering enemy cities.
If possible, a large and powerful fleet of ships should also be built as it can be tremendously helpful. Forcing your enemies to defend on water as well as land takes some pressure off of the army and opens up new tactical possibilities. Ships also move faster than troops, and can begin hammering a city’s defenses long before the army arrives, making the final push far easier.
Conquest of City States is not necessary for a Domination Victory, and aggression against them should usually be avoided. These tiny territories are highly secure and the cost of besieging them often proves expensive in gold, production, and soldiers. Such high cost is often met with meager reward; City States seldom have access to resources that a large, militant empire does not already have or could not take from a less defensible neighboring Civilization. Only in the early game, and only when playing Civilizations that are supremely powerful for that period like the Huns or Mongolians, is attacking City States advisable. And even then aggression against them should only be attempted after careful consideration.
When waging war against other Civilizations, it is preferable to conquer those territories that will be easy to hold. This means placing priority on neighboring territories rather than far-flung corners of globe. There are certainly exceptions; with a sizable navy, long distances become more practical, islands are sometimes a good option if they can be developed uncontested. But as a general rule, you should postpone conquests of any territory that could prove a logistical problem when defending.
It should be noted, that Domination Victory depends on conquering all capitals, not all cities. Pouring time and energy into wars for insignificant cities against Civilizations that no longer pose a threat to you is a colossal waste of resources. It also gives stronger enemies time to raise armies and form coalitions against you.
Any player pursuing a Domination Victory should be wary of the Warmonger Penalties that accompany conquests and negatively effect other Civilizations’ perception of you. These penalties can be countered by liberating foreign cities conquered by other Civilizations. It is often easy to find poorly defended cities that are controlled by Civilizations other than their founders. By besieging these cities and returning them to their original owners, you improve your image. Furthermore, these altruistic conquests can also be used to justify going to war with Civilizations whose capitals still need to be added to your collection.
Building the appropriate wonders can help cement your authority on the battlefield; paving the way for future conquests abroad and solidifying your defenses at home. With the effects of multiple wonders layered atop one another, your armies will be nearly unstoppable and your cities nearly impenetrable. This passive boost to your efforts will be invaluable as your enemies become stronger in the late game.
Pursuing a Domination Victory is the surest and fastest way to rise to power. Unreliable allies, tedious delegate gathering, culture boosting, and lengthy research can all be cast away. With a strong military force at your back, victory is within reach.
-Mathematics: allows you to build the catapult, the first siege unit of the game.
-Physics: Enables the upgrade of catapults to more powerful trebuchets.
-Astronomy: Though this technology is not accompanied with a particularly powerful military unit (the caravel is mostly for exploration, not combat), the ability to embark units across ocean tiles will open up new possibilities for moving troops as fast as possible.
-Navigation: This is a prerequisite for building a fleet of true naval conquest potential.
-Chemistry: upgrades your trebuchets into cannon while boosting production of your mines, quarries, and manufactories
-Dynamite: Allows you to upgrade cannon to artillery, which can fire from 3 tiles away. This often means that they can besiege cities with impunity.
-Radar: After researching this technology and building airports throughout your empire, the mobilization of your troops will be easier than ever.
-Rocketry: This technology allows the final upgrade for your standard siege unit: rocket artillery.
-Nuclear Fission: Though atomic bombs are not necessary to achieve a Domination Victory, they can be useful against particularly strong enemies. Furthermore, simply having a few bombs at your disposal can ease pressure you may be receiving on the diplomatic front; Civilizations that are afraid of you are unlikely to openly oppose you.
-Nuclear Fusion: Unlocks the strongest land unit in the game: the aptly named Giant Death Robot.
-Statue of Zeus: This wonder grants a bonus of +15% combat strength when attacking cities, making sieges far more practical and conquest less painful.
-Great Wall: Forcing enemy troops to expend an extra movement point when inside your territory deters potential invaders.
-Terracotta Army: This wonder effectively doubles your army by creating a copy of each existing unit. A hugely useful early game boost that can give you a head start in conquering weak neighbors.
-Alhambra: A free castle, a 20% culture boost for the city, and an automatic Drill I promotion for all units built in the city make having Alhambra a multifaceted advantage.
-Notre Dame: Though it does nothing to strengthen your army, Notre Dame’s massive contribution of +10 happiness can be decisive in countering any unhappiness accumulated through conquests.
-Himeji Castle: a boost of +15% combat strength inside friendly territory makes your lands highly defensible and tips the scales in your favor when fighting within your own borders.
-Red Fort: the Red Fort raises the effectiveness of defensive buildings by 25% in all cities. This newfound and pervasive security enables you to deploy troops without doubting the safety of your people.
-Brandenburg Gate: a free Great General and +15 XP head-start for all troops raised in this city can be used to build an additional army or add to an existing one.
-Kremlin: Like the Red Fort, the Kremlin raises the effectiveness of defensive buildings by 25% in all cities. Pairing these wonders is enormously helpful and creates a passive defense that is nearly insurmountable. The Kremlin also grants a free social policy and boosts the production of armor units by 50%.
-Pentagon: Slashes the cost of upgrading military units by 33% and eases financial pressure.
Beneficial Religious Tenets
-Defender of the Faith: Raising combat strength by +20% near friendly cities that follow your religion makes defending allies and City States far easier. Consequently, spreading your religion drops a protective curtain over the lands you convert.
-Just War: This tenet also adds a +20% combat strength, but near enemy cities rather than friendly cities. To fully take advantage of this benefit, send your missionaries to convert before you send your soldiers to conquer.
-Holy Warriors: The ability to use faith to purchase pre-industrial land units allows you to quickly raise an army even if your coffers are depleted.
-Religious Fervor: Like the Holy Warriors tenet, Religious Fervor allows the purchase of land units with faith. But only through the latter can units from the industrial era (and later eras) be acquired.
-To the Glory of God: With this tenet, faith can be used to purchase any type of great person. Generals for your wars, Engineers for your wonders, Scientists for your research, and Prophets for your missions can all contribute to your pursuit of victory at the precise moment when you need them most.
Beneficial Social Policies
-Honor: This social policy tree serves to amplify the strengths of pursuing a domination victory while diluting the weaknesses. An absolute must-have for a Domination Victory.
-Piety: Though not absolutely necessary, pairing the faith of the devout with the swords of the enlisted can create an incredible advantage for your Civilization. By spreading your religion, you can make prospective conquests easier and your own lands more defensible. While pursuing these goals, you can also use faith to purchase units when gold is short and production is busy.
Beneficial Ideological Tenets
-Volunteer Army: with 6 units being made maintenance free, and the additional provision of 6 foreign legion units, this tenet instantly provides you with a sizable force..
-Their Finest Hour: raising city ranged combat strength by 33% makes national defense a far simpler task.
-Arsenal of Democracy: +15% efficiency when producing military units eases the burden of replacing troops. The tenet also allows you to gain 15 influence from each military unit gifted to City States, which is attractive in theory but not terribly sensible in practice.
-Elite Forces: Wounded units deal out 25% more damage. Consequently, your army will become more deadly as it meets resistance rather than less so.
-Mobilization: Cuts the cost of purchasing units by a massive 33%
-United Front: When at war with a common enemy, militaristic City States gift you with units twice as often. If you have any friends or allies amongst the militaristic City States, this can be quite useful.
-Lightning Warfare: Grants Great Generals +3 movement. Additionally, Armored Units are granted +1 movement, +15% attack bonus, and are no longer hindered by your enemy’s zone of control.
-Nationalism: By slashing unit maintenance down 33%, this tenet allows you to deploy a larger army than otherwise possible.
-Total War: Simultaneously adding +25% efficiency when producing military units and granting all new units with +15 XP makes this tenet a great benefit for raising a large and elite army.
-Clausewitz’s Legacy: A 50 turn +25% attack bonus for all troops can be the final push you need to achieve your Domination Victory.
-Patriotic War: a +15% bonus to attack while within friendly borders can be decisive in fending off invaders.
-Iron Curtain: provides you with a free courthouse upon conquering a city, which reduces unhappiness and allows you to claim a vast area in a very short time. This tenet also raises the amount of food and production from internal trade routes by 50%.
Civilizations Suiting to this Path
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