To play DOW you must create an account and select a server to play on. User accounts are linked to servers. When you create an account on one server, your Account Name and Password are valid only on that server so be sure to make a note of which server you create your account on. To create an account click on the Create Account link on the main game page and fill out the information requested. A unique, valid email address is required for each account.
Once you have completed the sign-up process, an account activation email will be sent to the address you provided. Please follow the instructions on that email and your account will be activated.
When you have activated your account, return to the main game page, enter your username and password, and select the server you want to user. Remember that user accounts are tied to specific servers, so you will need to ensure that the serer you select is matches your account credentials.
Upon successfully connecting you will be taken to the main game screen and an overlay of help commands and window explanations will be displayed. Please take a moment to familiarize yourself with the commands and the interface. You can re-enable the help overlay anytime by clicking on the Help link in the top menu bar and selecting "Show Overlay Help."
New players begin with a single unit, the Avatar, which is represented by a crown icon, and placed at a random location in the world when play begins.
On more popular servers it is possible that you will appear in a dangerous or heavily populated area. If so, you should probably try to move away quickly or establish alliances with the dominant players in that region to ensure your safety! Avatars can move in any direction, and even swim through shallow and deep water, so venturing out to find a suitable place to build is not too difficult.
Your First Turn
DOW is a turn based game. Turns are generally between 5 and 15 minutes depending on the server you select. Servers with lower turn times (5 mins) have game play that moves more quickly, while those with longer turn times are better suited to casual gamers.
You have until the end of each turn cycle to explore the map and enter commands for your units. When the turn timer ends, the server will prioritize and process all of the players actions, report on the results, and begin the next turn cycle. Units with lower initiative perform their actions first, while units with higher initiative have their orders resolved later.
All players on the same server share the same turn cycles. This means that all players have to submit their orders before the turn ends, and that all players receive turn results at the same time.
You can tell approximately when the turn will end by watching the turn timer bar at the top of your screen. The timer bar helps you manage your time each turn to ensure all of your orders are entered before the turn time is over.
As a new player, you will only have one unit to command, your Avatar. You will notice that your King or Queen can only see a certain distance around them, 25 spaces. This range is called the "sight distance." To command a unit, it must be a sighted unit, or it must be within sight distance of a sighted unit.
Not all units have sight distance, so be careful when moving non-sighted units out of the range of sighted ones. If you cannot see a unit, you cannot control it!
You can tell what units are sighted by checking the "eye" icon in the Player window, located in the lower right hand side of the game screen.
Each unit has attributes that represent their basic capabilities, such as their health, attack strength, defense and base damage. Each of these attributes tell you, and your opponents, some basic information about the unit:
"Health" tells how much damage the unit can take. Units with a high amount of health can take a lot more damage before they become incapacitated. They also take longer to decay.
"Attack" represents how effective a unit is at hitting an opponent. Units with a high attack will hit more often, and in cases where their attack is very high, they will do enhanced damage.
"Defense" symbolizes how hard it is for a unit to be hit. Units with a high defense are difficult, but not impossible, to be damaged by low Attack rated opponents.
"Damage" shows how much health an enemy unit will lose if it is hit in combat. This value can be affected by extremely high Attack or Defense values.
A Unit Card also shows other, non-combat related information about units.
"Build Time" indicates how many rounds it will take for a unit to be constructed or summoned.
"Upkeep" lists the resource costs that must be paid each round for the unit to remain in service. Some powerful units consume resources every turn!
"Loyalty" tracks how long a unit has been in service. Units with high loyalty will remain by your side even if your Avatar is incapacitated.
Together, the attributes of a unit give players a general feel for how powerful a unit is. Attributes alone, however, do not reveal everything a unit can do. Units are can be named, enhanced, gain rank, or even acquire items that provide them with special actions or attribute boosts. Actions vary greatly from unit to unit, and server to server. This is done to ensure the game play remains challenging and full of discovery.
Most units also have actions they can perform, such as moving, attacking, harvesting, or even powerful magic and secret skills. You can inspect a unit and view its action list and attributes by either clicking on the unit in the game map screen, or by clicking on the unit's name in the Player window. This brings up the "unit card" which shows the selected unit's name, statistics, notes, and a list of available actions.
You can inspect units that you control, or other player's units in this manner.
Not all actions are visible on other player's unit cards. Some enemy units may have secret abilities that you cannot determine by inspecting their unit card, so be wary whenever encountering a new unit.
If you look at the action list, you will see that you King can perform a few basic actions: Wait, Walk, Harvest, Attack and Summon. Some actions are simple, such as Wait, and can be activated by clicking a single button. Other actions, such as Walk, may require you to select a direction, a distance.
Action names generally tell you something about the action. Actions with the same name, but different numbers, such as Walk 1 and Walk 3, refer to how many spaces the action allows a unit to move. Similarly, Fireball 4 would be considerably more powerful than a Fireball 2 spell.
When an action is given to a unit, it will wait until the turn ends, then it will perform the action, and wait for another command in the next turn. If you want a unit to continue performing a certain action, such as walking, you can use the default orders button on the right side of most actions. Default orders are actions that a unit will continue to perform as long as it can. If a unit runs into an obstacle that prevents it from performing the action, or you runs out of upkeep resources, it will stop. You can also cancel a default command by issuing the Halt order.
When a unit has received orders for an action, the action details will appear underneath the unit's name in its pop-up info window.
In addition to upkeep, many actions also require resources to perform. For example, building a new structure may require wood and vines, whereas powering a ship may require coal. Not all actions require resources. Many basic actions, like movement or attack do not use resources, but enhanced versions of movement or special attacks generally do.
Actions that summon or build new units will almost always consume resources.
To see what resources an action requires, and to read about the actions effects, click the "?" in the upper right of an action tile. You should familiarize yourself with any actions your units have. Also, make sure to check units for new actions that may become available as a result of being near other units.
The stack of gold coins that appear on game tiles tell you where resources are available in the world. Certain areas, when healthy, will produce resources based on the time of year, fertility of the land, and a few other factors. Resources may be common or rare, naturally recurring or depletable Very rare resources may be used to create extremely powerful artifacts, devastating attacks, or world changing magic when matched with the right units. Be careful not to sell or trade valuable resources unless you know what they are worth- you may have the only one in the game!
Resources are harvested by units, both by mobile units or by stationary ones. Some resources may require special units to harvest them, such as buried ore or hazardous substances. Learning what units you must use to harvest strange resources is part of the game. Not all regions will be able to take advantage of all their resources immediately, so players may need to establish alliances or trade agreements to acquire the materials they need.
Note that resources cannot be bought or traded until you discover them! Resource discovery occurs when one of your units harvests a resource, or you research it using aa special unit ability.
You can also sell and buy resources from other players.
Building Your Kingdom
DOW lets you design and build villages, cities, outposts, and much more. In DOW, you are given the building blocks of cities: walls, homes, factory's, shops, gates, defenses, people, etc. You must then create your kingdom one tile at a time. Buildings are difficult to create, but are equally difficult to destroy. If you invest time in building a wooden wall around your village, rest assured it will repel most invaders with ease, so long as you remember to shut the gate.
Your buildings serve many purposes, and function just like mobile units: they have attributes, actions, and descriptions. Buildings can also be upgraded and customized.
To create a building you will need a unit that has the proper action, and the required resources. Simple buildings can be built quickly, which more advanced structures may require lots of resources to begin, and take additional resources each round that building takes place.
For example, a laborer may have an action called "Build Hovel." To use this action requires 10 wood resources. You move the laborer next to the tile where you wish to build the hovel. You then select the Build Hovel action, choose the tile you want to build on and click it. A construction site will appear on the next turn, and the resources (10 wood) to build the hovel will be consumed. Once construction begins, the laborer is free to move away and perform other actions. The hovel will appear after a certain number of turns and you may then interact with it as you would with any other unit.
Building uses many types of actions. Like the example above, units can sometimes build other units on adjacent tiles. Other times, a unit may change itself into something new. For example, a "Mining Camp" unit. This unit is built like the hovel, and then becomes a unit you can click on, with actions. Mining camps can harvest ore resources continually on a specific tile (using a default harvest action), but they also have the ability to upgrade themselves into "Mine" units, which are more efficient and durable than mining camps. Doing this also requires certain resources, but instead of building a new unit in a nearby tile, the Mine unit itself will change into another unit after a certain number of turns.
Some upgrades may require additional resources, certain land types, other units in your command, or even multiple units to be next to each other before than can be built. For example, a "Dark Tower" unit requires four watchtowers on all sides of a Fortress unit. Another example would be a "Harbor" unit which can only be built on the water when multiple "Dock" units are adjacent. Legends tell of powerful, ancient units that cover multiple tiles and wield tremendous power.
You are free to build anywhere in the world you wish, but not all land types offer good foundations, nor do all areas provide a large number of resources or strategic advantage. Make sure you build wisely.
Units that you build, both mobile and stationary, can also be upgraded by actions from other units. For example, a "Trainer" unit may be able to teach one of your units a new skill, adding another action to their list. Alternatively, a Cleric may be able to apply a blessing to a unit bestowing them with enhanced abilities, or an engineer may be able to add defensive attributes to a wall.
Building in DOW is very complex by design. We wanted the game world would be full of diversity and depth. Many units will be regional at first due to player reliance on local resources, but as players gain access to more resources, new units will unlock and the world technology will advance. While you explore, expect to see cities and units not available in your home regions. Even if you have mastered an enemy's desert forces, there is no telling what you may face in the frozen wastes or steamy jungles!
The DOW Economy
In DOW, the economy is driven by the players. Players are free to trade resources with each other directly, or they can exchange resources for the official game currency, "Warbux." Warbux, or "WB, are the fiat currency in DOW. Like any other currency, it is provided as a convenience for players to exchange their resources or services without the need to barter goods. You are free to use, or not use, WB if you like. There are, however, certain things in the game that may require WB to purchase. Players may charge tolls, taxes, or require tribute for living in their city. It is always a good idea to have some WB on hand.
Certain goods can be exchanged for Warbux, WB can be found, and WB can also be purchased at the DOW store. The DOW store allows players to support DOW by purchasing in game currency, unique items and game wide enhancements. Resources can also be bought, but only if they are being harvested and sold by other players. In other words, resources enter the game world at a set rate regardless of how much currency is available. Warbux are also required to reduce some of the penalties that occur if your King dies. While resources can be looted from your Kingdom in certain situations, WB cannot be taken from you by other players in game, unless you authorize a payment for goods, services, taxes, etc.
Just like commodities in the real world, the value of resources in DOW can vary, and currency values can fluctuate. When resources become scarce or plentiful, their values change accordingly on the open market. Prices are set by supply, demand, and currency in the market and as such, are subject to speculation, trading and and hoarding. World wide disasters, war in a region that supplies a resource, and other factors can also affect resource availability!
Combat in DOW is done via actions and prioritized by the speed and responsiveness of units, represented by their "initiative." Units with a lower initiative perform their actions first. In the event that units initiative is tied, orders are processed based on who submitted their orders first.
Many units, but not all, have the ability to attack other units, including buildings, and in some cases, terrain. Attacks may be free, or they may require resources to perform.
When an attack is made, the attackers Attack rating is compared to the defenders Defense rating, and if the attack value is higher or equal to the Defense, then the attacking unit deals its damage to the opponent.
If an attacker's Attack rating is double the defender's Defense, then the attacker receives an "Overwhelm" bonus, causing double damage to the defender. Overwhelm bonuses can scale 3x, 4x, and higher, depending on how powerful the attacker is!
After a unit attacks, the defending unit will automatically counterattack and deal damage to the attacker using the same logic as the attack. Defending units always get to counter attack, even if the initial attack would have destroyed them, since basic combat damage is considered to occur at the same time.
Note that special attacks may allow units to deal damage differently than described above.
Everything in DOW, from units to buildings to the land itself, has health and can be destroyed. Unit health is displayed on the unit information pop-up and in the Player window, represented by a number / another number. This fraction shows the units current and maximum health respectively. When a unit's health reaches 0, it is dead and begins to decay (and is marked with a tombstone). While a unit is decaying its health will continue to decrease at a certain rate. Units can still be attacked while they are decaying, which will inflict added damage on them. When a unit's health reaches the negative of its maximum health, the unit is destroyed and removed from the game.
Units that are destroyed and removed from the game may drop salvage resources that can be used for other things, so make sure you always examine tiles after you defeat an enemy.
While a unit is dead and decaying, you cannot control the unit, however you may heal or stabilize the unit to try and prevent decay, or delay decay until other units arrive to help. Decay affects mobile units and buildings. Although a wall may continue to block while it is decaying, a "Gate" unit would not be able to open or close. Once a unit's health is brought back to a positive value, the decay effect is removed and you may again control the unit.
In addition to Decay, other "effects" can be placed on units or terrain tiles. Effects may be beneficial, such as healing over time, or they may detrimental, like bleeding. Some units may be able to remove undesired effects as one of their actions, so be sure to familiarize yourself with what your units can do. You can identify units with visible effects on them by icons on the bottom left of a unit. Units can also have invisible effects that only the unit owner can view.
The only unit can that recover from being destroyed is an Avatar. More about this later.
To help better survive the DOW world, players are encouraged to form alliances. Alliances come in several forms: none, implied, truce, and strategic alliances. Let's briefly discuss each one.
No alliance is what you have with every other player by default. Other player units in defensive modes will attack if you get to close.
An "implied" alliance is what you have with a player when you simply agree not to attack each other. Units that are set in defensive modes will still attack if you get too close, but you and this player essentially agree to "live and let live." Implied alliances have no direct impact on game play mechanics, and are simply an agreement between players.
A "truce" alliance occurs when you issue the /truce PLAYERNAME command on the world chat interface. This establishes a truce with this player, however it does not automatically mean they establish a truce with you. When you create a truce with another player units that are set in defensive modes will NOT attack any of that player's units. This is often given to citizens sharing a large city so that city defenses do not harm them as they move about.
A "strategic" alliance is a special relationship reserved for your closest allies. This is created by typing /ally PLAYERNAME, and in addition to enacting a truce with the player you specify, a Strategic Alliance grants this player the ability to control all of your units, except your Avatar. You can always override commands on your units, since any orders you issue will have higher precedence then allies.
Strategic alliances allow players to pool their forces and coordinate complex attacks or massive building projects, or let other players manage your units while you are offline.
Any alliance can be removed by using the world chat interface and typing /noally PLAYERNAME.
Death, Penalties And Winning
When a unit's heal reaches the negative value of their maximum health, they are removed from the game permanently. Health in DOW is a wide ranging value that represents the vast differences in health between real objects. For example, a simple human unit may have 5 or 10 health points, while a sturdy wall may have 100 or more; buildings and fortifications can have thousands.
When a unit is destroyed, it will sometimes drop salvage resources which can be collected and used to rebuild, or make new units.
When your King dies, he begins to decay like any other unit. During this you can still command other units, such as healers, in an attempt to save your Avatar.
If your Avatar reaches negative max health and is destroyed, several things happen.
First, you the ability to control all units owned by that Avatar.
Next, the loyalty for your units begins to decrease. Depending on how long you have had a unit, the unit will remain "loyal" to your Avatar for a number of rounds determined by the unit's loyalty attribute. Loyalty increases on units when your Avatar is alive at a slow rate, and decreases rapidly when your Avatar is destroyed.
If your King is resurrected while units are still loyal, you will regain control of them. If a unit's loyalty reaches 0, it will become un-owned and cannot be controlled by any player. This is called becoming "impressionable." Impressionable units can be "impressed" by certain units, such as Inquisitors, which allows a player to take control of them. You can also impress units that you lost, and reclaim them before another player does.
As explained earlier, Avatars cannot be completely destroyed. After a certain number of turns, an Avatar will automatically resurrect. You can also use potions or unit abilities to bring your Avatar back sooner, if you wish.
Auto resurrecting your King also costs you 10% of your Warbux and 30% of your resources. Losing an Avatar is a severe penalty that should be avoided at all costs, and as such, encourages players to not jump carelessly into conflicts. An Avatar's death also effects the regional or server-wide economy. Resources and Warbux lost due to King death are "pillaged, looted, or ruined," and are removed from the game. As you might imagine, losing a large pool of resources on a server can impact economies and resource markets quickly, and can shift the balance of power suddenly between regions and other players. Server-wide wars can trigger recessions and resource scarcity, cooling conflicts while the land slowly rebuilds.
Hardcore servers have stiffer penalties for Avatar death.
While an Avatar is destroyed, you may not receive Warbux from other players, but you CAN buy them in the DOW store.
The DOW Store and Subscriptions
Although DOW is free to play, players can enhance their game using the DOW Store.
The store allows users to purchase Warbux, and to spend their Warbux on potions, items, new abilities, and to buy resources that other players are selling.
Some items are in limited quantities, or even unique, and once they are purchased, they are gone! Be sure to keep an eye out for seasonal items and the occasional artifact or ultra rare find. Players can also buy world changing events, new units for the server, or design new units by contributing Warbux to a "Server Fund."
Server Funds are special things that effect all players. Players contribute Warbux to funds, and when the goal for a fund is reached, something wonderful will usually happen- or something terrifying!
Any purchases made in the store apply only to the server and the account on which they were purchased, are non-refundable, and generally non-transferable.
With the increase in popularity of casual games, we wanted DOW to be "a serious game that could be played casually." This underlying philosophy became the vision of the development team.
To keep DOW casual, turns were used to let players plan their movements and review the map, much like you might survey a chessboard while contemplating the next move. Players had to be able to step away from the game for a few days without suffering horrible losses, but still be able to play actively if they wanted. We envisioned a game where everyone could keep it open in their browser, and play throughout the day without requiring the focus or attention of a traditional MMO. We also wanted players to have options, so we enabled servers with different turn lengths, map styles, and rule sets.
To make DOW serious was another focus, and the first challenge was complexity. We wanted DOW to be complex so that players would have a reason to keep exploring, keep experimenting, and remain engaged. We also wanted combat to be more strategic, replying less on luck and more on careful planning and an understanding of units strengths and weaknesses.
Making a game serious also meant giving players freedom to customize and build with minimal restrictions. Players need the ability to interact with any object and with the land, and effect the world around them. Players should have to risk something to earn a great reward, and have the power to deal with other players however they wish. Tyrants can rise to control great power, but there is always much greater strength in numbers.
A Final Word About Balance and Fairness
Balancing multi-player games, especially those in which player start dates can vary, is difficult. It also introduces, in our opinion, a negative aspect to multiplayer simulation games. To maintain equality, one must unfairly adjust new players or dilute the efforts of veterans. Neither of these is fair, so a design decision was made: Life is not fair, and neither is DOW, but that doesn't mean that you cannot rise above the hand you are dealt and become great! Some players will begin in lush regions, others will start in more remote areas. Early players will have a distinct advantage in land acquisition, and those who establish alliances and treaties will definitely fare better than those who do not. Just as in real life, however, motivated and crafty players-- or passionate and oppressed mobs, can overcome obstacles to take what they need from the mighty. This natural drama, which plays out due to increasing population and limited resources, is the driver for conflict and interaction, and in our opinion, a key facet of DOW game play.
Stories are made overcoming obstacles. Whether you are a leader, an architect, a tactician, a diplomat, a farmer or a friend, you can be part of something in DOW and make a difference, not just follow another scripted "quest."
Be bold and build your empire!
Cheating And Hacking
People will always try to cheat. While we can't promise that DOW is immune to cheating, we can promise that cheaters and exploiters will be actively identified and banned.