Thursday, 25 January 2018

Dom 5. Mekone campaign, turns 1-10.

I generate a 4 player map, me vs 3 difficult AIs. It spawns me in an odd place, disconcertingly central. I've discovered the hard way that being in the middle is a way to get invaded from multiple directions. It's tough to be Poland.

This shapes my early game strategy - I need to head south and secure the peninsula behind me quickly before other civs expand to my northern border. If I find a civ on that peninsula I'll have to kill it, their only content would be me.

I send my scout south and turn my free commander into my prophet. I think these commanders make fine prophets rather than queuing a more powerful type then waiting for it.

I recruit a Geronte as my commander, 4 discobolus and then mull over choosing 13 Helote Ekdromos or 4 Gigante Ekdromos. I'm capped by resources, the gigante use up all my gold, the Helotes leave me 56 gold. I decide on the Gigante, I'm hoping they will survive early battles where I'd lose a couple of Helote.

Now for research planning. Here are the givens:

- I'm going for Thaumaturgy 8 to cast our unique spell.

- My mid-game will rely on powerful commander units with magic items so I will need Construction.

- Almost everyone is Fire/Death.

- My Pretender is mostly irrelevant.

Let's see what Thaumaturgy gives:

Thaum 2: Bonds of Fire. Decent single target spell.

Thaum 3: Rage. Single target, berserk enemy may attack friends.

               Augury: Site search ritual.

               Iron will: Aoe magic resistance buff.

Thaum 4: Prison of fire. Multi target spell

               Gnome lore: Site search ritual.

Thaum 5: Pyre of Catharsis. Disease cure ritual. This could be useful with my elderly magi.

                Raging Hearts. Province attack ritual.

Thaum 6: Melancholia. Province attack ritual.

Thaum 7: Purgatory. Anti-undead global enchantment.

Thaum 8: Hydrophobia. Combat aoe, effects multiple units with rabies.

                Gigantomachia. Dominion conflict bonus world enchantment.

OK, looks like quite a nice set of spells, it needs the spell that gives +1 fire skill for my Fire 2 guys like Polemarchs to cast Prison of Fire. That's at Conjuration 3. I like that we've got both our site search spells in this tree as I'll need lots of gems. No gems are needed for combat magic until Hydrophobia at level 8.

Now let's check Construction. I'll ignore the summon creature spells, we need all our gems for ritual magic and item creation:

Cons 2: Lesser magic items.

Cons 3: Legions of Steel. Buffs armour on a squad of soldiers.

Cons 4: Greater magic items.

Cons 6: Very powerful magic items.

Cons 7: Weapons of Sharpness. Combat mass buff.

            Forge of the Ancients. Ritual, improves item creation.

Cons 8: Unique magic artifacts.

It's easy to forget that there's a couple of combat spells in this tree. We will need to make Earth Boots for most of our casters to cast Legions of Steel.

Thoughts: it's weird to play Fire and not immediately rush for Fireball but I think that's how I'll play this. It may not be optimal.

So we'll rush Thaum 4 to enable our site searching, then Conj 3 for the path buffing spells, then Construction 6 for items and Legions of Steel then Thaum 8. I miss out on some useful Alteration buffs like Stoneskin, powerful Fire evocation spells, a few useful Enchantment spells and rituals including Flaming Arrows and the gem fountains. I'm ok with missing out on that stuff, we pick up attack spells and buffs on the way to the high-level stuff we really want.

Our end game is contesting Dominion. Between our high starting Dominion, civ Dominion conflict bonus, global enchantment Dominion conflict bonus, temple spam and stealthed inquisitors hiding and preaching we can wipe out belief in our enemies, the False Gods of humankind.

The game starts in Spring, the best time of year to recruit old commanders. So we'll focus our precious early game commander points on Gerontes unless something goes wrong with the army of expansion.

Let's now review our enemies. We have Niefelheim (frost giants), Yomi (demons) and Pelagia (tritons, heavily aquatic). The tritons must be with me in the south somewhere with the two others probably up north. If that is correct and the giants and the demons find each other before they attack me  then the position isn't quite the trainwreck it first looked. Pelagia shouldn't be very effective at fighting me on land.

OK. We're set.

Turn 3.

I set up my army under the command of my Lochos Prophet. My valuable Gigantes infantry are on the left flank, my expendable Helotes are centre-left, then there's a large gap then my lunatic frisbeers are on the far right flank. 4 Gigante Ekdromos, 25 Helotes, 4 Discobolus. I attack a province with 30 Light infantry.

Troop setup

First battle, initial positions for my army.

My Gigantes make great progress down the left flank, reinforced by the helotes which quickly routs one of the enemy's infantry squads. Those units then march forward to the enemy rear. Meanwhile the other enemy squad reaches my discobolus who despite not wearing much are actually reasonable in melee. We lose one but then the enemy routs. That was our only loss for 29 killed and we capture our first province.

Same battle, halfway through

The next decision is whether to push on with this stack or return to the capital and reinforce. I decide to reinforce as it means two turns' worth of units.

Our scout has checked the peninsula to our south - it's all independents. Phew!

As we've captured a forest I decide to switch over from building Gigante Ekdromos to the better Gigante Hoplites. We only get 3 instead of 4 which saves 40 gold, money we will need soon for castles.

Turn 3

My Prophet becomes famous and gets heroic quickness which allows him to move and attack faster in combat. A little wasted on a general/caster,

He picks up fresh troops and heads for a new conquest. I plan to have him conquer my cap circle, the provinces around my capital in a ring without needing to come home for troops. After that he'll come back to collect several turns worth of recruits then head south to conquer the peninsula.

Turn 4

We win a fight against a group of Barbarians with considerable ease. Barbarians are a hard-hitting independent unit armed with 24 damage great swords. We killed 26 Barbarians and 2 Barbarian chiefs for the loss of 1 Helot Ekdromos. The Discobolus managed to kill 5 of the enemy without killing any of our own guys.

A death match is being held but I'm not ready yet. I probably should get ready to compete in these as Polemarchs are really good against sacreds and many of the powerful commanders people send are sacred. I decide to switch research to Con 2 so I can equip a basic gladiator.

In the capital I am now gold-limited. I have run out of gold before running out of resources. I queue a Geronte and 3 Gigante Hoplites which is all I can afford. I doubt I'll make another Discobolus this game.

Turn 5

An Oni Shugo won the Death Match. A nasty opponent.

My main army fights a bunch of light infantry. Light v heavy infantry in a slugging match. We lose a gigante ekdromos and a helote ekdromos while killing 45 of them. Very light losses, our expansion is going well.

In an event in Mekone my people weren't happy that we had no Ephor to start the krypteion, our national special event that gives us a free assassin. Definitely an oversight, I swap out Geronte for an Ephor in the recruitment queue. That leaves me very short on gold, I can only afford two gigante hoplites this turn. All this unrest is doing my war machine no favours.

We find Pelagia, they're in the sea to our south west. This is good as it's possible they won't be competing with us when we conquer the peninsula to our south east.

Turn 6

We finish Construction 1. Nothing interesting.

Our main army attacks a farm province. On the left our gigantes hoplites and ekdromos progress unopposed, in the centre a squad of light infantry engages our helotes with half its number while the other half moves on our Discobolus. The Discos kicked their arses and routed them, we lost 3 helotes in the centre before the gigantes infantry sealed the deal in the enemy's rear. Another solid win.

In the sea to my south west Pelagia has cleared a throne.

Money's looking better, between the conquest of a 100g/month province and a little less unrest in my capital. I set my recruitment to one Geronte and 4 Gigante Hoplites per turn. I want to get a Polemarch but I'll wait until I can do it without reducing Hoplite production. The Gigante Hoplite is an extremely powerful unit for 40 gold (I haven't lost one yet on campaign) but they are cap only and further limited to 4/turn. I'd like to be recruiting those 4 every turn for the entire game to maximise the numbers of one of my civ's genuine advantages.

Turn 7

We fight a bunch of infantry. Their heavies engage our line while their light storms our Discobolus. We pay a high price for leaving them exposed on our right flank, 3 Discos spin their last. It may not be correct to position them that way but when I had them in a more orthodox position in other games they caused terrible friendly fire. Possibly the correct answer is just not to recruit them.

It was still a sound win, 48 killed for 3 losses.

I have enough gold to recruit a polemarch, looks like we will have a Champion for the next Death Match. I'm also able to recruit 4 Gigante Hoplites, with my excellent Scales and the two forests in my cap circle I have more resources than I know what to do with. Helote Hoplites or Gigante Ekdromos could be an option but I'll need castles soon so I decide to save my money.

My cap circle is complete, my army returns to the capital.

Turn 8

I finish Construction 2 and Thaumaturgy 1. Time to make my Polemarch some items. I look up Oni Shugo in the Mod Inspector. They're sacred and they summon wolves in battle. They use a No Dachi greatsword, throw flames or javelins and get Death 2 plus a random path.. I decide I'll need trampling boots for the wolves. I'm limited to Fire 2 Earth 2 by my cheapo magic team. What I'd really like is morale in case it casts Frighten spells. There's nothing suitable so I make Lodestone Amulet and a Burning Pearl for some magic resist, fire resist and attack.

My Prophet reinforces. He now has 17 Gigante Hoplites, 5 Gigante Ekdromos, 11 Discobolus, and 19 Helotes. That's a very strong army to take the southeast peninsula. I consider splitting it and sending the Polemarch to take provinces in a different direction but decide not to for now.

Turn 9

I accidentally make another Polemarch as I had it on repeat and forgot to change it. It's fine, I'm more than happy to have another. I make the same item set for him.

My scout finds Yomi on the west edge of the map. They don't seem to have expanded much. Unfortunately their natural expansion direction is either south into Pelagia's attempts to take some shore or east into us. That probably means Niefelheim is in the far north east and is very likely to come for me. I decide I need to expand east and simply kill Niefelheim when I meet him. I'll still proceed with the plan to conquer the peninsula.

Turn 10.

My main army finds a bunch of dress-wearers with blowpipes and it goes about how you'd expect.

I finish Thaumaturgy 2 for a nice single target Fire spell.

My scout spots Yomi easily taking an independent province to his south. It does seem he will be on a collision course with Pelagia.

I discover a problem with the peninsula plan. The far two provinces are across rivers. These are currently frozen. But if I invade and the river thaws I could be trapped the far side. I can't take that risk in late winter with my main army. I'll have to come back later, probably with thugs who have rings of water breathing. I turn my main army around and aim for the north east, towards Niefelheim and the fearsome Frost Giants.

My new province might be a good place for a city as it would control the peninsula and it has the potential for the recruitment of Woodhenge Druids which would give me another magic path.

Turn 10 map

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