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Old April 13th, 2008, 01:09 PM
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Baalz Baalz is offline
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Default Guide to Marverni

I've heard several people describe Marverni as the weakest EA nation of all. As with many of the perceived weak races though, they've got some serious strengths which, with proper cleverness, can transform this unsupposing nation into a juggernaut which will leave your confused opponents sorry they underestimated you.

Marverni's got a broad variety of decent troops to pick from, but nothing first class. This is a bit worrisome in the dual-bless heavy EA, and is compounded by the general impression that Marverni is easy pickings. Going with an awake combat pretender is the classical move in this situation, and indeed this will work as well for Marverni as anyone else, but I feel that this overlooks the strengths of Marverni and merely sets you up to lose more slowly as your opponent will likely have an awake pretender *AND* superior troops. If you're willing to use a bit of finesse though Marverni's got the tools to fight back most rushes without a pretender, and this frees you up to design Marverni to be a truly dominating mid-game player with an easy transition to a late game beast. Marverni really needs good scales to shine: needs production to crank out swarms of cheap troops, solid research is its lifeblood, and they need every piece of gold they can beg, borrow, or steal for it's awesome but ruinously expensive druids…who incidentally are often old so don’t overlook growth. My preference is to lean towards excellent scales over a tough pretender.

So, lets take a look at the tools in your arsenal and what you're gonna do when the wolves gather at your gate.

Barechests – several flavors, all of them cheap, and all of them fairly good for the price…except the lack of armor. This lack of armor coupled with the cheap price tag means these guys fit nicely into the disposable troops bucket and work very well against some kinds of enemies because of the numbers you'll be able to field them in. Against anybody who hits hard – dual blessed Lanka, Mictlan, Niefel – it doesn't really matter what your protection is so a press of cheap flesh is best, and the barechests have a pretty decent offense. Against high defense/glamoured troops or jaguar warriors javelins are quite effective in large numbers and even slings can do impressively en masse in the lower protection EA. Remember, the name of the game is critical mass. 20 barechests = why bother. 200 javelins & sling bolts focused on 15 glamoured raiders = why did they tell me Marverni was a pushover? Make sure you leverage your PD to get a lot of bodies on the ground when fighting defensively, a PD of 20 will get you 60 bodies so a supplemental army of merely 40 will get you the previously mentioned 200 shots over two rounds. More is better!

But what about the tougher sacreds and SC pretenders? They're gonna stomp right through mere spear chuckers! Enter the Carnute axe wielder. These guys are pretty much made for chopping up big trees. Decent strength? Check. High damage axe? Check. These guys would be decent at this job if it stopped there, but they've got a very respectable berserk bonus stacked on top of that. This means that when berserk they ignore awe & fear auras (important against any SC pretenders), have a pretty good attack and deal enough damage to punch through any armor you'll see in the early part of the game. And remember the Marverni mantra –strength in numbers. You should outnumber any super-elites drastically and can afford to take losses bringing them down while still winning on a gold for gold basis. If you're fighting the type of enemies that your berserk bonus makes a big difference, research up to berserkers and leverage those cheap nature mages to make sure you take advantage of it without needing to be hit first. Also, don’t overlook tangling vines, you’ll have lots of N1 mages in the beginning, your axe wielders should make short work of most anything that holds still for a second and from elephants to dual blessed guys you’re not going to see huge numbers of them in an early rush so 3 tangle vine spammers can make quite a difference (bonus: you’ll likely have a growth scale so it’s more effective).

Against archers and more conventional armies Marverni's got some pretty respectable medium infantry in various flavors. Slingers are often overlooked, but Marverni slingers have shields which make them ideal counters to other archers given their price and the fact that the enemy archers will not have shields or heavy armor. Given the number of lightly armored guys you’ll likely have running around, having a cheap and easy archer counter is a very nice thing indeed. For important fights use clumps of slingers in the front row set to fire (at enemy archers) and flee to really break up enemy formations. The Carnute noble is a very respectable all around guy, and what you'll probably want to use for the bulk of general purpose indy expansion. Note: Carnute nobles are tougher, but they're also more expensive gold wise as well as resource wise than the Carnute bare chests. Be aware that against super-elites it's often better to have extra bodies on the ground than extra protection and make your choice appropriately. If you’re going into a fight expecting to take some losses, consider mixing a few horn blowers into your troops. They’re relatively expensive and die pretty quick, but their standard will significantly improve your troop’s staying power for important fights.

The cavalry I find a bit lackluster without a lance, but they’re not that expensive as cavalry goes and can be useful as flanking archer killers. Boar warriors are pretty decent, and might even be worth designing a bless strategy around if they weren't capital only. As it is, consider taking advantage of them if you end up with an incidental decent bless, just mix them in with your Carnute nobles. Even without a bless they might be worthwhile to use if you think those extra couple points of berserk will make a difference for whatever you’re fighting. Some people like the Boar Warriors, and you can make a pretty impressive initial expansion if you take a dual bless, but I dislike pursuing a strategy that other nations pull off better, and lets face it in the sacred units category EA is brutally competitive. Plus, the blessings which most help the Boar Warrior do absolutely noting for your magic diversity. Besides, even without Boar Warriors your initial expansion should be relatively quick as your Carnute nobles fare pretty well against most indies, and slingers fare surprisingly well against the almost non-existent protection of many indies in EA (while your nobles ignore the friendly fire).

Aim to get a second (and third) castle up fairly fast, Marverni has a whole lot of options for 800 gold forts – this is a national advantage you should be mindful of as this can be translated into a leading position in research. Forego druids at first as 2 druids = a fort costwise! With a positive magic scales though, your cheaper mages are decent researchers so use your good scales and quick expansion to set up a couple recruitment centers ASAP, with the added benefit that this will put you in a much stronger position if a rush does materialize. I’d recommend starting with the Gutuaters as they’ll give you several good low research things to throw at a rush: tangling vines (vs high defense guys like Vans), berserkers (vs awe, fear, high protection), curse (vs SC enemy pretenders, giants), sleep (vs elephants). Remember, if you’re being pressed by an aggressive rush don’t hesitate for a second to pass out gems to, for instance, cast sleep if you don’t happen to have the guy with the right randoms available (or enough of them). As you start building up in research though it’s good to switch to Stargazers and begin building up a base of communion slaves while stockpiling gold for more fortresses and eventually druids.

Now I want to digress for a second here to mention one aspect of pretender choice. You've got a couple reasonable choices, but I really feel adding air to this nation greatly enhances their effectiveness for a couple reasons. I'll discuss more in the following sections, but I wanted to point out how having a reasonably strong (level 4+) air mage could be immensely useful for the tactics outlined above. Wind guide – multiplies the effectiveness of all those javelins/slings by a considerable amount. If you throw in fire to round out your magic diversity adding flaming arrows to the mix will turn your PD into a very formidable force which your air/fire pretender can cloud trapeze in to buff in the path of any invader. Arrow Fend & Storm – neuters the obvious counter to swarms of lightly armored guys. Fog Warriors & Mass Flight are just made for swarms of cheap dudes with good weapons – oh lets go ahead and toss in strength of giants and weapons of sharpness for a force that'll kill almost anything while costing pennies. I like a Phoenix because of the ability to leverage your immortality with a scary dominion push (discussed below), but obviously there are a couple reasonable choices.

Ok, so you've employed the above tactics to fend off the hungry dual blessed wolves, but this doesn't sound like the type of strategy that leads to world domination. I promised a juggernaut! Enter the druid. This guy seems good at first, but it's not obvious *how* good until you really think about it. One of your early research targets should be ench-3 for Strength of Giants, this greatly enhances the damage output of not only your swords & axes, but also your javelins. With Strength of Giants those hundreds of javelins are dealing 17 damage apiece and start hitting the range of dealing enough damage to punch through shield blocks. As your guys generally have axes or broad swords and above average strength, stacking strength of giants puts them up into the fairly heavy damage dealer territory for melee if the javelins alone weren’t enough – berserk Carnute nobles are hitting for 25 damage which will fell some might big Niefel trees.

Your next research target is going to depend on what you think you'll be facing, and how urgently you think you'll need it. If you're not sorely pressed it's a good idea to pick up conj-3 for summon earth power, but if you are in a pinch you can skip it and make up the difference by passing out earth gems. It's also always nice to pick up the schools for site searching spells, but the next real crown jewels are in the evocation tree. Blade wind is hideously effective in the lightly armored EA, and just one step above that you gain access to Gifts from Heaven and with Earthpower (or gems) every one of your recruit everywhere druids can cast both. Ah, Gifts from Heaven, that spell that seems kind cool, but also seems kinda a crap shoot because of its precision coupled with long range. Ah, but what's this? Druids have a fairly decent chance of getting a nature random and can thus self buff eagle eyes. What's this again? You've got access to air magic through your pretender (and hopefully some indie mages he's been able to site search) and start cranking out eyes of aiming as fast as you can. With the consequent 22+ precession those cute flaming balls of unresistable death will be falling with deadly regularity just where you want them to and those clouds of blades will fall in devastatingly tight groupings from across the field. A single druid can lay down enough hurt to rout a medium sized army, and most PD…oh, and did I mention they all (some with the help of a booster) can teleport?

Try something like this: druid + black steel tower shield + robe of missile protection + boots of the messenger + eye of aiming (+ starshine skull cap if necessary for teleporting). Set in the back row and script summon earth power ( + eagle eyes if he has a nature pick), gifts from heaven/blade wind X4. Singlehandedly this guy can take out everything from some types of PD to tartarian raiders so long as he steers clear of flyers or cavalry (which he can mostly handle if he's defending supported by light PD). He's essentially immune to arrow fire, has the paths, strength, and reinvigoration to cast for many rounds (if you're raiding PD) or to take 3 shots and then cast returning if you're dropping in to ruin a SC or elite army's day. Use them in pairs (or more) for heavier opposition and there's not much immune to their raiding.

Once your enemy starts deploying flyers or other counters to the nightmare of druids dropping out of the sky all over the place its time to leverage a heavier tank. From most flyers to most spells a properly outfitted golem will be immune to the things your opponent will be bringing to counter the druid terror. Golems have their own counters, to be sure, but in general these are diametrically different than the counters for Gift of Heaven spamming druids and with the luxury of your teleporting you get to pick who fights in each fight. For example, a fire and lightning immune, mindless, lifeless golem can drop in and happily stomp over the flyers and mages set to counter your druids. The next turn your opponent teleports/moves a response to the golem in only to find your golem casts returning and the three gift of heaven spamming druids who teleported in get to act first as defenders from behind the swarm of PD you've purchased, skipping the summon earth power (using earth boots/gems) to drop precision boosted meteors/blade wind on them first turn (blade wind is important to consider as a standard counter to golems is to teleport in some guys to cast magic duel – this will really ruin their day). Ah, but the fun's not over yet, after squishing his response you now gateway in a whole slew of troops to the lab that the golem built and buffed with strength of giants and weapons of sharpness (conveniently unlocked when you researched golems) they make a very discouraging wall of linebackers who chop up whatever cleverness your opponent thought was going to counter both druids and golems (that 25 Carnute damage is now AP...youch!).

But wait, there's more! Each of those teleporting druids is also a level 2 priest…and can blood sacrifice….and Marverni's temples are only 200 gold. Just think about that for a second and you should see the awesome potential for dominion killing an opponent with a weak dominion if you can scrape together a tiny blood economy to fuel your blood sacrificing. Teleport in a half dozen druids to take out PD in the territories surrounding your opponent's capital, each one plops down a temple and recruits their own PD blockers, then proceeds to blood sacrifice. Equipped with a jade dagger each temple + druid sacrificing will function as 5 temples and each druid himself will provide a very capable deterrent to your opponent counter-raiding your temples, stuck behind some PD blockers as he is. So, for 1200 gold worth of temples plus whatever you spend on the PD you get the effect of 30 temples concentrated in a small area, each of them defended by a formidable force (who conveniently won't use your blood slaves fighting off attackers). Throw this out of the clear blue sky at somebody with a weak dominion and there will be no way that he'll be able to recover in time. Oh, did I mention this is a completely feasible to do to somebody clear across the map since you're teleporting everything in? Scan that score graph for the guy who thought design points in dominion were a waste.

Ok, ok, I know what you're thinking – enough about the druids. But…but...but wait, there's more! These guys may just be my all time favorite mage. You'll get plenty of S3 and S4 druids, as they're recruitable everywhere you've got the potential to mind hunt or enslave mind as readily as R'yleh as you can easily forge crystal coins as well as starshine caps. All those great earth and astral alterations, from Army of Lead to Will of the Fates are at your fingertips easier than perhaps any other nation because of the ease of forging boosters and the slew of S1 communion slave fodder available. As you'll be cranking out druids from several castles you won't have much trouble netting a N2 and W2 one, with easy to forge boosters these guys will be level 4, and with power of the spheres/crystal shield (easily forgable) that bumps them to level 5 – before you even consider a communion there aren't many spells that one of your druids can't cast from the paths of Earth, Astral, Water, and Nature. Assuming you've picked a pretender as I suggested with good Fire and Air paths this leaves just Death and Blood as the only thing you don't have *strong* (level 5+ in combat) access to without tapping your communions – all of it teleport/cloud trapeze capable. Death is perhaps the easiest path to bootstrap into, and blood should probably be ignored (aside from blood sacrificing).

On to late game.

Much of the mid game strategies above will work verbatim into late game as well. Precision boosted Gifts from Heaven are one of the best SC killers, and you'll upgrade from wooden warriors and strength of giants to army of lead and mass regeneration but you'll maintain those keys to late game success – mobility and flexibility. Use that air pretender to forge a couple staffs of storms and drop in groups of druids for hit and run fun against large enemy armies. Use cheap battlefield summons like swarm to tie up cavalry for the couple rounds you need, then either go with the good old gifts from heaven or: summon earth power, invulnerability, earthquake, earthquake, vortex of returning (imagine that with 3+ mages). Mix in Doom if you feel like being particularly mean. If you can manage to get the Forge of the Ancients up (easily castable by a national mages), I'm sure you can think of some nasty, nasty implications combined with the recruit anywhere nature of druids and each one's effectiveness when kitted. Those S4 druids are S6 with cap and coin, S7 with light of the northern star, S8 with a crystal shield. Hmmm, to me that sounds like a first round Master Enslave pulled off with a non-empowered national mage and fairly cheap items, with slots for a rune smasher and eye of the void (have a supporting mage holding a banner of the northern star cast vortex of returning for an army snatch that your opponent gets no chance at all to respond to if you're defending). Think having 4 or 5 of these pairs teleporting around might pose a problem for your opponents? There are almost no army effecting buffs you can't easily cast, and you've got ideal units to cast them on (cheap, good offense).

Is that juggernaut enough for you?
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  #2  
Old April 13th, 2008, 03:06 PM
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Default Re: Guide to Marverni

Gulp...
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Old April 13th, 2008, 03:07 PM
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Default Re: Guide to Marverni

Great guide by the way!
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Old April 13th, 2008, 03:17 PM

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Default Re: Guide to Marverni

Yes! Again another great guide from Baalz! Makes me want to try it! Marverni is one of those factions which I have only barely played too.
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Old April 13th, 2008, 04:05 PM

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Default Re: Guide to Marverni

Yep, teleporting in golems, returning them back, teleporiting in meteor-launching druids, just to bring a whole army of mass buffed carnutes was what i was thinking when i saw marverni first time. Ok, i did not.
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Old April 13th, 2008, 04:46 PM
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Default Re: Guide to Marverni

Bravo! I just love good scales strategies!
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Old April 13th, 2008, 06:10 PM
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Default Re: Guide to Marverni

Great guide Baalz.

One small comment, early game, Tahum 1, farstrike. I've played a certain MP game with CBM (in which its set to prec. 100) and this was a major killer early game. In vanilla game, it may still be worthwhile esp. on N1 druids (buffed with eagle eyes). Also, its on the way for communion master/slave, mind burn, soul slay so its practically free.
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Old April 13th, 2008, 06:14 PM

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Default Re: Guide to Marverni

Excellent guide as usual.
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Old April 13th, 2008, 10:37 PM

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Default Re: Guide to Marverni

Quote:
Baalz said:
javelins are dealing 17 damage apiece and start hitting the range of dealing enough damage to punch through shield blocks.
IIRC, missiles never punch through shields.
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Old April 14th, 2008, 12:31 AM

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Default Re: Guide to Marverni

Quote:
Wick said:
Quote:
Baalz said:
javelins are dealing 17 damage apiece and start hitting the range of dealing enough damage to punch through shield blocks.
IIRC, missiles never punch through shields.
yrw. They can, given sufficient damage. The higher the "protection" value of a shield, the harder it is to punch through,
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