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Dominions 3 plays out on a randomly generated map (although campaign maps are included) which resemble the basic risk formula. You can see the countries, unit and city information, the borders and so forth. From this map you can deploy your troops, recruit troops, look for treasure, upgrade the cities, in short - build up your empire in a turn-based manner. The game's core is similar to other empire building games such as Master of Magic. Yet, the strategic depth does not lie in micromanagement of towns, with only half a dozen buildings available, but in the units. With hundreds of different units at your disposal, you will spend some time in building and configuring your armies, which include heroes, who themselves can level up and find artifacts etc. The game also features a deep magic system with various magic schools.
Your avatar (the in-game representation of your divinity) and your race are highly customizable. The game changes drastically depending on which avatar, school of magic and race you choose. There are many races in the game which are based on various inspirations, including mythology (Greek mythology etc.), Literature ( Lovecraftian nations) or history (Roman Empire). The game comes with an extensive and elaborate Manual.
The graphics of the game are not the focal point of the game, the battles can be reviewed in retrospective to analyze the outcome in more detail.