So I've been playing some crazy games on Deity (19 Players so all civs; Advanced Start; No Settlers; Complete Kills; No Vassals; Large Map; Marathon) and after a few wins (or 1200 turns getting bored) and a few humiliating losses I've reached the conclusion that only a few Civs / Religions have got what it takes to counter the ridiculous stacks the AI ends up throwing at you. My last game as Kuriotates I was going Order (had founded) and had just teched to Priesthood, so I had Valin, 2 Priests, about a dozen Centaurs and 2 dozen Warriors (some of which were very experience on the Raging Barbs), when Keelyn decided to invade with a stack of 80-odd Iron Swordsmen, all of them at least Combat 4. I gave up then and there, had no chance at all. So, am attempting to compile a list of strategies that are viable to counter / neutralize the massive SoD's one has to deal with (such as the Lanun invading the Svarts with over 300 Boarding Parties supported by 100-odd Catapults and Stygians with some Horsemen. My machine took a good 15mins to resolve their combat with Faeryls 200-odd Archers). I did actually end up defeating that SoD and liberating Svart cities with my Golem army led by Gibbon. Religions Empyrean: Probably the most effective strategy. Rathas and Radiant Guards use Blinding Light to freeze the stacks in place, while Chalid roasts them to a crisp with Pillar of Fire, making them vulnerable to a counterattack. Chalid can also pull this off himself without anyone using Blinding Light, as the AI tends to fortify their damaged stacks to heal so constantly burning them means they will pretty much stay put whilst being whittled down. Council of Esus: Gibbon Goetia starts with the Illusionist promotion, which has a brilliant (possibly unintended) side effect. Summons with Illusion heal completely after winning a combat, but can only do a maximum of 80% (iirc) damage on attack so they are always injured after attacking. However, if they are attacked and they win, then they are suddenly back to full health. Level 3 summons can be very hard to kill (especially when Gibbon has Combat V, Summoner and Twincast, along with some stacked Mana), but the AI doesn't realize it can't wear down these illusions so it throws away all its troops in one massive battle. The only way of beating the illusions is by having a strong enough unit to take out the illusions one on one, or with a lot of catapults or withdrawing cavalry (but as soon as a catapult or cavalry fails to withdraw then all progress is lost as the illusion gets to full health again). Runes of Kilmorph: Arthendain used to be the worst Tier 2 Religious Hero, but even since the Defensive Strikes update he's become one of the best. Arthy with Drill 4, and the 2 heroic Defensive Strikes promotions has a 100% chance to cause 50% damage to an attacking unit. Promote him with Blitz as well and he'll do damage to every single unit attacking your stack. Back him up with some solid infantry (Bambur or Paramanders or whatever else you have) and your stack / cities will be pretty much unassailable. Considering he also has Heal 3 and Divine (so he can cast Heal), your troops will be fresh enough to handle the next assault as well. A similar tactic is also viable with other Archery heroes (Teutorix and Gilden) but none can match the 100%-50% that Arthy can. Octopus Overlords or Ashen Veil: Both these religions have Priests with a powerful spell that can damage many units in the enemy stacks. Effective enough if you have enough of them, but considering you can build them directly without waiting for them to mature (a-la mages) they become very effective. OO's Tsunami is stronger than AV's Ring of Fire, but it is only effective if your enemy is on a coastline. OO works wonders on a coastal map, with its water-walking Priests and assault units (Drowns and Stygian Guards) as well as Hemah throwing out some twincast water elementals. AV also gets the Meshabber of Dis, which while extremely powerful is rather hard to get a hold of. General Tactics Mages + Mana Stacking: Promoting your Adepts up the Combat line with them earning free promotions from a stacked Mana source is incredibly effective. Stacking Mana also allows elemental summons to take advantage of their Affinity for extra power. The best Mana types to stack for summons are Fire, Law, Entropy or Death (also Ice if you're playing the Illians). Enough units throwing around magic that's able to kill opposing troops rather than just injure them is the key here. Unless you're really good (or lucky) you'll usually need another strategy (usually civ-specific) to combine with this one, as its usually enough not to win on its own. Letum Frigis: If you start near Letum Frigis securing the Ice Mana will allow your adepts to cast Slow, which can freeze (pun intentional) most enemy stacks. Just be aware of enemies with more than 1 movement that will still be able to attack, but the AI likes to keep its stacks together so the faster units will usually wait for the slower ones. Civ Specific Strategies Malakim: Malakim Mages are able to cast Summon Sand Lion as long as they are standing on Desert, so they are effective summoners as soon as they are promoted. Unsure if Sand Lions have mana affinity in the base game as they do in my modded XML. Illians: With access to one of the only 2 sources of Ice Mana in the game, with a massive advantage waiting as soon as you secure the Second, pushing a summoning strategy with Ice mana is a no brainer. With the Priests of Winter allowing Ice Elemental summoning at Philosophy, and the added benefit of Slow being able to stop most enemy stacks, as well as some amazing late-game units means if the Illians can last then they can easily win. Just be aware that casting The Draw can cause multiple AI SoDs at once, so be prepared. I usually save my Stasis for then, allowing a decent window to put the AI on the back foot. Luchiurp: Once you get Barnaxus to Combat V and hide him somewhere (usually Ithralia) your Golems are strong enough to handle Deity promoted troops one on one, but that's not enough. You need Blasting Workshops. Fireball spewing Golems plus one of the above Religious strategies is plenty for the midgame, and once you get to Dwarven Druids with Crush you should be able to take out any stack. Amurites: Firebows + Wizards + Govannon means you can throw out a crazy amount of magic when needed. Secure as many sources of Mana as possible and stack a preferred one and build up. Adopt a Religious Strategy to keep you alive before you're ready. Pretty much any Civ or other Strategy that relies on building up troops will fail on Deity as you just can't match the AI's bonus to production along with the crazy amount of XP their troops get from the start. Also starting next to Richard Charadon or Tasunke Khan is pretty much grounds for restart, as within 50 turns they'll rush you with twice as many troops as its possible for you to build, each of whom could take on 2 of your units. But I'd like to hear anybody elses ideas or experiences in dealing with the AI. Might give Tholols AI mod another shot to see if I like it yet (playing a personalized version of FlavourMod at the moment).