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Old June 29th, 2007, 05:43 PM

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Default Guide for MA Ulm

Guide to MA Ulm

MA Ulm is a nation with large advantages and large disadvantages. It’s possible that their disadvantages outweigh their advantages, making them one of the weaker nations in most people’s opinion. Regardless, in a situation like this, it’s even more important than usual to make the most of the advantages you do have.

Major Strengths: Item Forging. Cheap, heavy-duty national troops.
Major Weaknesses: Slow, resource-expensive troops. Poor magic diversity. No sacreds. Poor magic resistance.


My thoughts on Pretender design:

Given the overall concept of maximizing your strengths and minimizing your weaknesses, it makes sense that your pretender for MA Ulm should be able to expand your magic diversity while having a dominion that provides enough resources to crank out your resource-expensive units. Some things that are important to other nations are not important to Ulm, namely Dominion strength and Blesses (Ulm has no sacreds).
Additionally, Ulm generally has an easy time dispatching average-strength independents due to its powerful infantry, so an awake SC pretender isn’t a must. This combination of factors seems to lead to the selection of a Rainbow Pretender, although an SC god could be equipped with items from the very beginning of the game and be quite potent, if you choose to go that route. Ulm gets a special Rainbow Pretender called the Alchemist, and I imagine he is very good for certain Ulm strategies. However, his major advantage is the conversion of earth or fire gems to gold, and Ulm typically does not need a lot of money to operate, but they do need a lot of earth and fire gems, so this Pretender is not my first choice. I typically select the Great Enchantress.
The Great Enchantress is an ideal choice in my opinion for one reason: her focus on astral magic. Not only does she get 1S to start (making it not too expensive to bump her up to 4 or 5S), she also gets 1 astral pearl per turn. These can be saved for a Ring of Wizardry to boost Ulm’s magic diversity, an absolutely key item. I typically take at least 2 of every path, except for Blood and Astral. Blood I generally take just 1, and Astral I take 4-5. I favor an awake pretender to immediately begin site searching, but a dormant one would work fine as well.

I generally take the following Dominion:

Order 1, 2, or 3
Production 3 (for Ulm’s resource-intensive troops)
Misfortune 1, 2, or 3 (to pay for the Order)
Drain 3 (Ulm’s smiths are immune to Drain)
Dominion strength 3-5 (enough to avoid getting dominion killed and spread your scales)


National Troops:

Arbelest
A top-notch missile unit nearly on par with the longbowman. Arbelests are cheaper than longbowmen and have a good protection. They have a long range and do absolutely devastating amounts of damage, especially to heavily-armored units. However, they have poor map move, magic resistance, and are resource-intensive like most of Ulm’s units.

Infantry of Ulm
Available with a variety of armaments specialized for different foes, the Infantries of Ulm are in the top tier of non-sacred heavy infantry units in the game, considering their cost.

Black Plates
Also available with a variety of armaments, Black Plate Infantry are without a doubt the best 10 gold unit available in the game if you ignore their resource cost (which is huge). Their protection is high enough so that they even take very little damage from crossbow bolts – the only missile weapon that can do significant damage to them is Ulm’s own Arbelest (typically make sure your arbelests are doing something besides “firing closest”). However, their defense is low and their encumbrance high, so they are not invulnerable in melee, just very tough.

Black Knights
One of the best non-sacred calvary in the game. They can crush enemy infantry and take very little damage in the process due to their high protection.

Sappers
An expensive crossbowman. Sappers are nitch units – their main use is to break down stubborn enemy castle gates, not so much to actually fight. However, they do have a map move of 2, something rare for Ulm, so they can also be used as missile support for Black Knights.

Guardians
A strong heavy infantry unit. They have much better morale than the standard Infantry of Ulm, but they are twice as expensive. They gain a bonus when defending castles, so they are useful in that respect. If you have money to burn, these might be a good option as meatshields in the mid-late game.


Commanders:

Spies
Very effective at..um.. spying.. and also causing unrest in enemy provinces. A great unit!

Commander of Ulm
Available with different weapon choices and protection values just like the other Ulm infantry. These Commanders are superior to the standard indy commander for the same price.

Lord Guardian
A Guardian unit turned into a commander. They seem to offer very little for the increased price tag over the standard Commander of Ulm.

Black Lord
Just slightly more expensive than the Lord Guardian, these commanders are mobile, well protected, and pack a nice punch. When equipped with magic weapons, they are often used in the early-mid game as thugs.

Siege Engineer
These commanders have low protection and leadership ability, so they are rarely used for anything other than their prime function: breaking down enemy castle gates. In this limited function they are quite good for the price.

Master Smith
The only Ulm mage, the Master Smith is researcher, item-forger, and battlemage of Ulm. They are focused on earth and fire, without much diversity (although they do have a 10% random chance in A, E, F, or S). They are pretty cheap to purchase, and they are effective at all three of their functions.

Battlemagic:
Master Smiths are quite effective mages on the battlefield. Their paths allow for army buffing spells like Legions of Steel, Strength of Giants, Iron Warriors, Marble Warriors, and Weapons of Sharpness. They can also cast evocation spells such as Blade Wind, Magma Bolts, and Magma Eruption.

Summoning Spells:
Summons like the Cave Drake and the Crusher can be effective enough meatshields, but I typically save my gems for Mechanical Men. Smiths who gain an Astral random can summon Golems (with adders).

Ritual Spells:
Master Smiths can’t cast many ritual spells, but one worth mentioning is Earth Attack, a potent assassination spell (although they will need earth adders to do so).


Research Goals:

Ulm’s research goals should maximize their benefits as a nation, therefore I find it difficult to bring myself to research anything other than Construction, at least until Construction-6. Often, I will continue on to artifacts before researching anything in any other sphere. This requires that you are not under heavy attack, although not necessarily not at war.
If you are under heavy attack from a powerful foe, research priorities change. Construction-4 is still the number one priority, however, because along the way you will gain a battle spell (legions of steel), and the items you can forge will also be useful. After this, switch to Conjuration-3 for Summon Earthpower (so you can cast Legions of Steel) or Evocation to cast Magma Bolts. You can continue with Evocation for Blade Wind, or switch to Enchantment for Strength of Giants. After the war, switch back to Construction as soon as possible.


General Strategy:

As mentioned before, Ulm typically has an excess of money because of its gold-cheap, resource-expensive troops, and cheap mages. With this money, you can build castles early, buy all the mercenaries available, and buy hoards of independent troops. These last two can help very much in fighting early wars, especially if you are keeping all your mages to research towards Construction-6 (something I recommend).
Once you get Construction-4, build a set of Earth Boots. With these boots, you can start item forging in earnest – begin by mass producing Dwarven Hammers (you can do this earlier if you get an Earth random on your smiths). Build maybe 5 of them. Then let the fun begin! You can make Owl Quills if you get an Air random, Swords of Sharpness, Fire Brands, Charcoal Shields, and Burning Pearls for your Black Lord thugs, and most importantly, Sceptres of Authority for your indy commanders, priests, and commanders of Ulm. You will need the extra leadership to ferry around your hoards of troops, and they turn an otherwise useless commander into long-range artillery on the battlefield. Plus, at a mere 2 fire gems a pop, you can easily afford to give them to every single one of your commanders. In fact, build as many commanders as you can and give one of these Sceptres to them, if you have a significant fire gem income.
When you reach Construction-6, you have many more options available. However, the first order of business is to mass produce Lightless Lanterns to get a huge increase in your research. Give one to each of your researchers as soon as possible. Then use your Pretender to make as many magic adders as you can (the first goal is a Ring of Wizardry) and give them to your smiths to increase the variety of items they can forge. With these adders, you should be able to cheaply forge many interesting and powerful items, such as: Robes of Invulnerability, a large variety of combat items for your Thugs and SCs, Stone Idols to give to spies, Stone Spheres for scrying, etc.
You may wish at this point to empower your smiths in certain paths for which they do not normally gain randoms. I highly recommend doing this for blood for the sole reason of producing Blood Stones. Additionally, Black Hearts are useful on spies or black servants. Nature is another good choice, for producing Fever Fetishes.
At this point, you should decide whether you want to continue on to artifacts for the Hammer of the Forge Lord (for a 75% total reduction in item cost..!) or whether you want to start getting more powerful thugs and SCs. This will determine if your next research goal is Construction-8 or Conjuration. However, with the added research of your Lightless Lanterns, getting both is not unreasonable. If you are able to acquire both your choice of artifacts and some of the unique summons (Earth and Fire Kings, for example), victory should be nearly within your grasp.
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