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Mage Strategy: Generalise vs Specialise

Discussion in 'Fall from Heaven Strategy & Tips' started by Sarkyn, Jun 15, 2007.

  1. Sarkyn

    Sarkyn Warlord

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    Mage Heavy: Specialise or Generalise

    I had discovered in my first two games that mages required a lot of micro-management, and you often forget what you're doing with them. So I used the rename feature to ensure that my arcane spell users fell into distinct categories. I gave these categories distinct names and thus was able to progress quickly through the game, selecting the strategically correct upgrade for them.

    They were:

    1. Dabbler (Starting Generalist)
    "Oh! I can do that… Here, let me..."

    Snapshot: By their nature, take anything with a Dabbler.

    These were the adepts created first - for utilising the mana nodes primarily, but also as an early source of buffs. With a Dabbler you buy whatever you need, including spells that have limited use in the game, or are cast rarely.

    Things like Water I (Spring), Enchantment I-II (+attack), Body I (Haste), Law I-II (xp and Loyalty), Spirit I-II (Fear and City buffs), Chaos I (First Strikes), Earth I (Walls). They never bother to take Combat I-V, or range increases. They become Mages and fullfil the role of enchanter in endgame, but they are never as good as enchanters built LATER in the game as they lack the free promotions, which eventually outweight the earlier start.

    In endgame, they either sit in cities in order to help them progress, or they sit with stacks keeping up the renewable buffs (+xp and +first strikes mostly), or they wander your empire putting out fires and re-improving pillaged mana nodes.

    They also get killed first by Assassins, but you don't mind losing one much as they are a supplement to your mundane combat forces, not part of your arsenal.

    2. Battlemage (Offence Specialist)
    "Do not deviate from the path to victory."

    Snapshot: Battlemages take a single element and the promotions that buff it

    These take Combat I-V, Range I-II and then take a single path of destruction all the way to level III. Fire I-III, Air I-III, Earth III, Death I-III, and then anything else after that is just a bonus. These are designed to quickly gravitate towards +100% damaging long range magic attacks (such as Fire III meteor swarms, or Earth III crush, or Air III maelstroms or Water III Tsunami). They specialise, don't waste a single promotion on anything "useful" - that's what you have your dabblers and enchanters for.

    Once they have the core attack promotions (Fire/E/A/W/D III, Combat V, Spell Range II), you can spend the promotions on Death I-III that move them towards becoming a Lich, freeing up their chair on the panel of Archmages. Don't try to fit more than ONE attack type each, you'll just run out!

    Obviously the "core promotions" is a lot before you even start on Death. 10 promotions! That's why where at all possible you take the buildings, wonders and nodes that support these types. In this game, I was able to get 3 Death Nodes and 3 Fire Nodes, meaning that as the mage becomes a Lich, he has spent 9 promotions in total. Anything after that is a bonus.

    Depending on race, you might prefer something other than Fire. Something that's easy for your civ to get to 3 nodes of reasonably quickly. Because you want to start to churn out….

    3. Enchanter (Combat Buff Specialist)
    "Who's Buffin'? I'm Buffin!"

    Snapshot: Enchanters complement forces by taking buff spells that don't require Combat I-V

    These mages, created later in the game to benefit from the free promotions of multiple mana nodes, take all the combat stack buffing spells that require re-casting first. Chaos I, Law I-II, Spirit I (and II later). They (hopefully) get Death I for free, so that while they do not cast it, the presence of them in your Empire and the spell means that the specialised Summoners can have another Skeleton in their flock.

    Then they choose the longer term unit buffs that hang around until dispelled.

    They do not take combat strength upgrades or range upgrades. They die a lot to assassins as the weakest unit in a stack, but you just replace them.

    If your attack node is upgraded to III when you create them, you probably get a level II spell for free on the newer ones anyway, which (although not upgraded with Combat I-V or Range) is still nice to have in a stack when there are no buffs that need renewing.

    The enchanters that survive long enough to promote, become….

    4. Magister (City Buff Specialist)
    "I haven't left my tower in 100 years."

    Snapshot: City-located defenders for major cities, they take city improvement spells.

    These mages (and possibly archmage, lich or flesh golem later in the game) are generally grown up Enchanters and have one main purpose and that's buffing cities and the units defending cities.

    Law I-III, Mind II, Earth I, Spirit II (great for cultural borders!). No combat or range buffs.

    Their main goal is to get to Law III for Unyielding Law so that they can keep any city happy. Along the way they can take the other buff spells for cities that are useful. Once they have them, they can buy the normal enchanter buffs for combat to assist in defence.

    If your space at the Tier III ranks is getting tight, consider using them only when absolutely necessary, or finding a way around the limitation. Effectively it's very valuable to have a massive city with no unhappiness. Worth spending a Tier III mage? Yes/no - depends on the size of the city and the stage of the game. If you can find a way around it (Lich, Graft Flesh, etc), then it's an easy "yes!".

    5. Summoner (Conjurations Specialist)
    "Meet my friends."

    Snapshot: Single-path specialist conjurors. With one summon/turn, it better be a good one.

    A lot like the Battlemage above, these units should be designed from the outset to do one thing well.

    They need the Range booster for further walking Summons immediately. They need the Combat I-V promotions to buff their particular summons. Then they need to specialise in ONE type of magic and get to level III with it before they take a second.

    Recommended Summon types are Law/Chaos - these introduce the "Stays until it stops fighting" summons, which are invaluable in ongoing struggles in endgame. Particularly when coupled with an enchanter (above) to provide the +1xp Valor buff. These summons can survive long enough to get promotion after promotion, automatically increasing their effectiveness and also healing them.

    The important thing is not to waste a single upgrade. Get your tier 3 summon first! Then Death I (if you're not getting it for free by now for having Tower of Necromancy), so that you can add another Skeleton to the stack that moves with your army.

    Skeletons? These Skeletons will be ONLY summoned by whichever Summoner has the most buffs. Combat V, and Range II ideally. If anyone else summoned one, just disband it when it's done whatever job it was neede for. They provide a nice buffer for your attacking stack, and they can also sit in a newly captured city as a token defence while you wait to Gate/Walk in a real defender, or guard a worker who would otherwise become the victim of chariots.


    General Mage-Tactics

    1. They never walk alone

    An archmage either teleports (gate technology) or walks hasted with an entourage. They do not walk alone in war time, or near borders. They are too valuable and annoying to replace if you lose one through carelessness.

    2. They never rest

    It's rarely a good idea to fortify or sentry a useful Enchanter. Even if all they do is cast "Haste" on the units in their tile, that's time and efficiency saved. Don't fortify them unless you're sure you'll remember to come back to them.

    3. They keep odd company

    Having a Raven or Hawk in your tiles will allow you to see stealthed, and also better target your longer range spells with your Battlemages. They can't stop the Shadows from attacking, but they can show you where they are so you can target your meteor.

    4. They keep secrets

    Build them with hidden nationality where possible, as the amount of warfare that a summoner or battlemage can do seems to far outweigh most other units, especially if you take into account the small risk they place themselves at. But remember to never leave them alone ESPECIALLY if they are hidden nationality.

    5. They move on

    Before your Archmages ranks are "clogged" with 3, start thinking about how you're going to free up that chair. Move towards Death magic to get 3 Lichs, or explore other options like Graft Flesh. Or heck, if you really get an excess, give them to an ally. The top tier mages should be evolving, so that each rank is actually slightly better than the last (due to being built later in the game, with more free promotions).

    Don't stagnate at Tier III, move on!




    That's it for me. Based on 3 games playing mage-heavy tactics, slowing increasing the difficulty. It seems to favour playing as a builder/culture in the early to mid-game so as to have time to Nurture these game winning mages.

    But there is a real joy in selecting your "attacking stack" and hitting Meteor Swarm and watching 18 meteor swarms appear! And there's very little that can stand in your way as you move a heavily guarded stack into enemy territory, firing meteors or death magic 4-5 squares in every direction...

    :)

    (Feel free to flame, feel free to make suggestions on how to streamline or improve! Thanks!)
     
  2. slowcar

    slowcar King

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    the most important thing about mages for me is: fight with them.
    even as a magic leader it takes a lot of time for them to level, especially in the beginning.
    give your adepts combat1-5 promotions and go on barbarian killing spree. just watch out for the new (0.22) animals.

    also important: disable altar and cultural victory...
    if you play emperor+ (i moved up to immortal with my favorite leaders but thats not mage-heavy but rush) the AI tends to win faster then you can get archmages. unless you destroy them, but then you win before you get archmages :D
     
  3. katika

    katika Warlord

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    I could be wrong, but I think that only fireballs, meteors, skeletons, and summons benefit from combat promotions. Also, it might be worth mentioning the awesomeness of the Amurites' Cave of Ancestors. +1 XP per mana is amazing for creating mage armies.
     
  4. Hoerks

    Hoerks Chieftain

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    Yes i wonder if Combat promotions affect spells like contagion at all.
     
  5. xanaqui42

    xanaqui42 King

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    Combat I-V presently affect all damage-dealing spells. See here for detail. The summary is that each is +5 to the base damage. So with no Combat promotions (nor Channeling III), the base damage is 20-39 Death (limit 40); with Combat V (but not Channeling III, the base damage for Contagion is 45-64 death (limit 40). Obviously, any damage over the limit is only useful for countering resistance (both explicit, and that derived from defensive strength and level).
     
  6. xanaqui42

    xanaqui42 King

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    Mind if I place some of this into the wiki?
     
  7. Sarkyn

    Sarkyn Warlord

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    Feel free to steel it in it's entirity :)

    (pop my name somewhere, and I'll come back and update and expand on it at some stage. I'm currently playing a "no mages Prince level game to try to explore other aspects of the game and learn about them as thoroughly. I might be tempted to write a simple guide on that when I'm done :).
     
  8. Bastian-Bux

    Bastian-Bux King

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    The best choice for a mage heavy approach is: Cabalim with Overlords.

    Create an adept (usually with at least 2 exp)
    Gift him Vampirism for free
    Gulp up a city from 25 to 20 -> 100 exp (more if needed and given enough pop)
    Graft flesh your new archmage (10+ promotions) with a high strength unit

    In the matter of 1 turn you got a specialist unit that won't be the first target of the assassins. If you used the right high strength unit (preferably with Mobility or such) then synergies will kick in. All it did cost you was producing an adept, a high strength unit, and 5 pop (which will be back in 5 turns if you play it right). Who else can mass produce specialist mages?
     
  9. Bastian-Bux

    Bastian-Bux King

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    Oh, and don't forget: you've got 5 slots for mages able to level up (which flesah golems can't). Why 5? 3 liches, plus 2 archmages. The 3rd archmage slot is keeped free for mass production. Thus you can even have non-specialists with several hundred of exp.
     
  10. sidamos

    sidamos Chieftain

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    unit needs to be level 6 to be vampirized... (Moroi level 4)
     
  11. Bastian-Bux

    Bastian-Bux King

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    You are right ^^. So you need to get that adept to lvl 6 (37 exp) first. Which slows it down, but not that much.
     
  12. katika

    katika Warlord

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    Wow, either I haven't been paying attention or the magic system has been seriously changed without recording the changes. That's very good to know and will definitely change my strategies. Combat promotions are that much better for arcane units, which helps out the Amurites who get additional free promotions.
     
  13. xanaqui42

    xanaqui42 King

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    See what you think.
     
  14. xanaqui42

    xanaqui42 King

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    If you're having this problem, I'd suggest you try a great person strategy focusing on Great Sages. This will speed up the technology, at least.
     
  15. xanaqui42

    xanaqui42 King

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    Enchanter: "take all the combat stack buffing spells that require re-casting first" - I'd think that each Enchanter would want 1 such spell - or at least a small number of such spells (so they can continually re-cast it).

    I might focus more on how to get the needed technology in a reasonable period of time. I find that a Great Sage strategy can help a lot.

    There are a number of details that aren't described:
    The Effect of Arcane, Magic Resistant, and Summoner.

    Any hero arcane spellcasters: Corlindale, Govannon, Hemah, Kael Coalbane .

    Unusual arcane spellcasters:
    Eater of Dreams (can cast Consume Soul)
    Summoner (Hippus) - gets Air III for free.
    Can cast spells in flames without additional promotions (this can be great for defending your arcane units):
    Imp
    Orc Witch Doctor
    Shaman (Clan of Embers)
    I'd probably ignore the Wizard (or make a minor note of it). The ability to cast 2 spells once isn't that big of a deal.
     
  16. Grey Fox

    Grey Fox Master of Points

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    Wizards are more than just that. They are Amurites, and Amurites got the Cave of Ancestors, which mean that you can make wizards in 2 turns.
     
  17. katika

    katika Warlord

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    Also, some summons (sand lions for sure) gain the Stigmata promotion if summoned on Hell terrain. If you're playing Sheaim (or fighting them), that can be a nice bonus.
     
  18. xanaqui42

    xanaqui42 King

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    Specifically, Sand Lions need to be summoned on Burning Sands for the bonus. Fire Elementals gain strength from being summoned in Flames.
     
  19. xanaqui42

    xanaqui42 King

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    Heh- that points out a few multi-player exploits. Player 1 is Amurites; Player 2 is Calabim. The Amurites player creates the Adepts, then hands them over to the Calabim once they are LV 6. The Calabim grants them Vampirism, then levels them through the moon, and grants them to whatever player can use them the best.

    Alternatively, instead of the Calabim, use any Leader with Summoning, and make it a 1-way proposition. Roughly trippling the power of each unit is pretty nice.

    And, of course, lending Adept-class units to an Arcane leader can be rather useful while they're leveling up.
     
  20. kenken244

    kenken244 Grammar Nazi

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    or like grigori calabim and sheiam gets you level 65474564 twincasting eaters of dreams
     

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