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-   -   MA Ulm using Blood Magic (http://forum.shrapnelgames.com/showthread.php?t=38166)

AreaOfEffect March 26th, 2008 12:02 AM

MA Ulm using Blood Magic
The next time you go to play a MA game, please consider Ulm. Don't consider it for any of the changes made to it recently. Honestly, I'm not big on the new stuff. Nothing I'm about to say includes the use of anything new to Ulm. In my opinion, mages with earth 2 and a forge bonus, 5 earth gems a turn from your capital, and an awakened blood god is everything you need to make a powerful late game MA Ulm.

Before We Begin
I'm not about to advocate using blood spells without national blood mages. That is not what the blood god is for. Don't try to make devil commanders, or spawn swarms of vile creatures. MA Ulm doesn't have it's own blood economy outside of a pretender. Personally, I advise you to not research blood magic with MA Ulm... ever. Instead I advise you to research Construction.

The Gist of Things
Specifically, I advise you to research construction 4. The center-piece of Ulm with blood magic is the production of blood stones. Blood stones do two things for Ulm, the first is that it increases the effectiveness of their mages by granting a bonus to earth magic. The second thing it does is it grants an earth gem a turn. Surprisingly this amounts to a huge advantage for Ulm by widening it's selection of battle spells and in allowing them to amass a huge army of constructs. Construction 4 is also enough to get you earth boots and dwarven hammers, both are essential to boosting your magic levels and earth gem supply.

The Plan
The plan is to create a blood stone factory as soon as possible. The steps are listed below:
Step 1) Start with an awakened blood god. Ulm has the advantage of being able to choose the blood fountain, the most economical pretender aside from the oracle. The blood fountain can be substituted for another god with decent blood, but it will start to get expensive. I say blood 4 is a minimum.
Step 2) Begin your research. Even without the aid of your god and full drain you can reach construction 4 by the early part of the first year. If you feel another path is needed to be researched so that you can survive then by all means do so, but construction 4 should be a priority.
Step 3) Construct a couple of dwarven hammers. You can do this when you reach construction 2 if you have an earth 3 pretender or if you get a random earth 3 master smith. Otherwise you'll need to forge a set of earth boots after you reach construction 4.
Step 4) Begin to collect slaves so that when you get to construction 4 you have collected 112 slaves. Use the slaves to empower a young master smith to blood 2. Use the remaining 25 blood slaves to forge a brazen vessel. The remaining 7 is to forge your first blood stone. From now on your god should collect slaves as needed.
Step 5) Give the empowered Master Smith the brazen vessel and a dwarven hammer. What you created is a blood stone factory that uses only 5 earth gems a turn. With a decent blood god, you will never run out of blood slaves to feed the machine and still have turns to use your god for other tasks.

The problem of this strategy is that it requires a huge starting investment of blood slaves. I've tried the variant of the strategy that uses the pretender god to make the stones. The problem is that you constantly have to stop making blood stones in order to scrounge up slaves. Your god ends up being so busy that it can't do anything else. Also, if you choose to save on points and go with a blood fountain you can't even equip a dwarven hammer, which means you use more gems and you get less out of the strategy. However, by only needing 7 slaves a turn via an empowered master smith, your god can go on to do other things and only needs to collect slaves once in a while. You could also go all out and work on a second blood stone factory or a companion slave hunter.

The Conclusion
The inclusion of blood into Ulm isn't to diversify the Ulm strategy, but rather to intensify it. The blood slaves are magically transformed into earth gems. The earth gems allows Ulm to recreate their army. With 10 gems and 140 gold, you can produce a fire 1 earth 4 mage who can use Earth Power in order to reach earth 5 in battle. The gem output of the blood stones allows your battle mages to never run out of gems to power the best earth spells in the game. The randoms the master smiths get can grant you a mage capable of casting Rain of Stones. Every battle mage can fall back on Petrify when the gems are gone, a spell that immobilizes super-combatants even when they make the save versus death. Take earth magic to the max and run with it I say. You could of course ignore my plan and do whatever you like. Either way, good luck.

Micah March 26th, 2008 12:25 AM

Re: MA Ulm using Blood Magic
just blood hunt with indy scouts (or commanders), no need to base an entire pretender for a side-strategy.

AreaOfEffect March 26th, 2008 07:14 AM

Re: MA Ulm using Blood Magic
First, I don't really consider it a side strategy. Second, I find blood searching with non-blood mages to be highly unreliable. I've had dozens upon dozens of commanders searching before and turned up nothing. In my experience, using non-blood mages as a source of reliable blood slaves is like using luck 2 as a reliable source of water gems.

With a blood god you can reliably shell out a magic site a turn around turn 16. That means that by the fifth year you are outputting 50 gems a year from your capital and blood stones alone. That's 1525 Earth gems generated by turn 60 minus the cost of construction, which is only about 261 gems (including the cost of one pair of earth boots and 2 dwarven hammers). 1200+ gems is not a side strategy, it's a winning one, particularly with dozens of earth 4 mages running around and increased gem income from site searching .

CUnknown March 26th, 2008 12:26 PM

Re: MA Ulm using Blood Magic
I agree with you both. Totally, AoE, bloodstones rock! It's not a bad call to make your pretender based on that, it could pay off as you say.

But, at the same time, I would probably just use scouts as Micah suggests. If you have enough scouts (~20), it is actually a reliable source of blood slaves. then you use your first 50 to empower a smith, then he can make a divining rod and search for his own.

Of course this method gets the bloodstones going a lot later than your method does. For Micah and I, it is only a side-strategy.

thejeff March 26th, 2008 12:43 PM

Re: MA Ulm using Blood Magic
Finding scouts, at least in numbers enough to have 20 to spare from actually scouting, can be a gamble too. In the MA game I'm in, I've only got 1 scout province at turn 40.

A non blood fountain with just a couple points in blood may be able to blood hunt a few turns to get the 50 slaves to empower a smith. Slightly longer startup time than a dedicated pretender, but you can have a more effective pretender. Either a Rainbow type which would fit the blood well and which Ulm really needs, or an SC, which doesn't fit the blood so well, but which Ulm really needs.

Baalz March 26th, 2008 01:20 PM

Re: MA Ulm using Blood Magic
Yes, I did exactly this strategy to good effect using, as suggested, indie scouts. This is almost as effective as a side strategy and then you can use your pretender for whatever else you want (best if you've got a little blood magic on your pretender, but for boosters, not blood hunting).

1) Start very early and aim for 2-3 provinces with 8-10 scouts/commanders blood hunting.
2) Won't take too long to get 50 slaves, empower smith #1.
3) Smith #1 forges a sanguine rod and starts blood hunting
4) You pretty quickly are able to empower smith #2 who blood hunts (with a sanguine rod) until he can empower 3 more times (1-2 times if your pretender can forge a blood booster for him)
5) smith #2 cranks out blood stones
6) As your nation expands, set up another province or two for scout blood hunting
7) New blood stone forgers are now cheaper because you only need to empower them once, smith #2 can forge cheap boosters for the rest of the way
8)Site search everything for earth using gnome lore.
9) By year three you've had 2-3 guys churning out blood stones every turn for awhile and an absurd earth income
9) Stop forging blood stones for a few turns, stockpile all your earth and blood income - have your forgers bloodhunt
10) Use your big pile of earth gems to put up the forge of the ancients while the same turn you empower as many smiths to level one blood as you can
11) Distribute the blood boosters that your original blood stone forgers were using to your new blood guys, you only need B2 to forge blood stones and now you've got 5-6 guys cranking out blood stones.

Now, if you planned ahead and have the right path boosters ready, and one of the smiths you empowered in blood had an air random, turn one of having the forge up you can forge:
a robe of the magi
rings of sorcery (several, depending on how many boosters/astral random smiths you've got)
5-6 blood stones
one lightless lantern for each fire gem you have (each smith can forge them for 1 gem without a dwarven hammer)
All the other junk you want to forge that requires level 2 in paths smiths get randoms in - starshine caps, chainmail of displacement, crystal coin, etc.

The beauty of this is that your forge has paid for itself even if it's dispelled after one turn...and you can easily put it back up in 5 or 6 turns after you've saved up enough gems/slaves for another mass forging.

Sombre March 26th, 2008 03:52 PM

Re: MA Ulm using Blood Magic
Nice idea if you could actually make it out of the early game when you're devoting income, mages and a pretender to a strategy that doesn't pay off until quite a bit later. I know I'd rush an Ulmish build like that.

thejeff March 26th, 2008 03:54 PM

Re: MA Ulm using Blood Magic
And when would you know you were facing an Ulmish build like that?

Especially if it wasn't the Blood Fountain version?

Sombre March 26th, 2008 03:57 PM

Re: MA Ulm using Blood Magic
The fact that they're blood hunting is something you might not pick up on I guess, though the scouts hanging around in the open in their provinces would be a give away. That said it's sort of irrelevant because I'd rush almost any MA Ulmish build. That one would just be easier.

This doesn't denote that I think MA Ulm is weak (though I do), just that I think rushing it is generally a sensible strategy.

Baalz March 26th, 2008 04:05 PM

Re: MA Ulm using Blood Magic
Well, without getting into a tangential argument about Ulm surviving an initial rush, as I pointed out this is a total side strategy with a cost of a couple mages, a couple low income provinces, and the upkeep on 20 scouts. Ulm is seldom pinched for gold and also generally has an abundance of the cheap smiths. This is totally something you can do in addition to whatever your main strategy is and doesn't make you noticeably more vulnerable to a rush.

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