September 21, 2011
So comments in the previous thread got me curious, and I tried a low-book game: 2 red, 2 green, 2 blue, Warlord, Alchemist, Conjurer, Node Mastery. And just to be safe I played High Men.
First observation: your initial mana income is one per book, so mine was just 6 a turn. That hurt a lot. Only having one node on my starting island hurt even more.
But I had some luck. I had a tower, and it connected to a moderate sized island on the other side which had two nodes. Once I got to the point where I could make paladins, it didn't take long to conquer them both. And since Node Mastery doubles your mana income from nodes, just those three plus my four developing towns ended up being a comfortable power base.
Second observation: Conjurer was a waste of time. Given what I had for magic, it turned out I had to do my fighting with the aforesaid paladins. The few summons I did were temporary, except for a couple of sprites I used for scouting. I'd have been much better served by an additional spell book.
I also had some luck in the spells I got. In particular I got Flight.
Folks, Ultra-elite flying Paladins with mithril weapons are overwhelming. Eight of those allowed me to conquer and take out both of the wizards I was up against, with little difficulty.
They started Elite because the town that had the mithril deposit also had a War College. So they were instantly formidable.
I also had some luck in spell trading. Kali gave me Spell Lock. Lo Pan gave me Flame Strike, which I used to good effect against him while wiping out all his towns except one. And taking all his nodes. And wiping out all his mobile forces.
Beetles are good units, but they are not able to handle flying ultra-elite paladins with mithril weapons.
Between Alchemy and Warlord, every unit I built was much better than average coming off the line. Alchemy also helped my mana-flow a lot. By the time I was involved in major wars and doing a lot of 3x flame strikes, my empire was producing about 200 gold a turn, and the 1:1 alchemical conversion to mana is really, really nice.
When I first started playing the game, my reaction was, "What in hell am I supposed to do?" Because I was used to playing a mana-rich, summon-rich game, and that wasn't in the cards. But once I got into the swing of this alternate way of doing things, it didn't end up being too bad.
I might try it again, except trading Conjurer for a white book.
UPDATE: I tried again. Alchemy, Warlord, Node mastery, 2 green, 2 red, 3 blue, 2 opponents.
It wasn't a high scoring game, but it was fun. It included a hunt for new spell books, something I'd largely stopped doing when playing all black. Before it was all over I had ended up with something like 7 blue books, and had a stack of 8 flying, invisible ultra-elite paladins zooming around on Myrror crushing everything in sight.
Between finding a retort of Charisma, and having an Aura of Majesty spell running for most of the game, I ended up with Shari and Tauron both well up the "like" scale, and had alliances with both of them.
So much so, that even casting the Spell of Mastery didn't make them hate me or declare war. That was surprising. The alliances were still on right to the end.
The toughest single fight was five Great Drakes in a Myrran node. At which point I learned that Mindstorm is a really handy spell against high level critters. I was able to cast it three times, and made short work of the first three Great Drakes. The last two I had to slug it out, but I made it through that battle without losing any of the paladins.
There's something to be said for Divine/Infernal mastery, too, especially on Hard/Impossible. I never really fiddle with the elemental specializations--just not worth it, that I can see--and most of the others are kinda meh (except for Myrran, of course).
On my old, un-patched 3.5" copy of the game, I used to enjoy the item creation spells, and would sometimes run with that retort as well. On my current copy, item creation feels like it's been nerfed (for starters, you can no longer apply the Flaming quality to weapons), and the considerable expense pushes effective item creation too far into the late game, even with Alchemy.
I'm trying my first All-Black game now. I've never really played book-heavy builds, and it's a very different game--but, you're right about wraiths. On Hard, they can't seem to solo most nodes (which sport Basilisks, Great Wyrms, etc.), but they still clobber towns in the early game, yielding free zero-upkeep units (and you don't even need Pliers).
Posted by: BigD at September 22, 2011 09:02 AM (u0/7E)
Enclose all spoilers in spoiler tags:
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Also, I hate unsolicited suggestions and advice. (Even when you think you're being funny.)
At Chizumatic, we take pride in being incomplete, incorrect, inconsistent, and unfair. We do all of them deliberately.
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