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Old May 16th, 2008, 01:47 PM

Ironhawk Ironhawk is offline
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Default A Poisoner\'s Guide to LA Pythium

The Serpent Cult - a bizarre mish mash of mages, snakes, heretics, and all manner of magic paths. Who would think that a nation this scattered and with such internal oppositions could be a powerhouse? But yet it is!! Throw off your preconceptions and jump in like a Reveler as I detail how to turn LA Pythium into a monster as tough as the Hydras that symbolize it...

[img]/threads/images/Graemlins/Dagger.gif[/img] UNITS:
First, a couple of notes about the units I passed over: It bears saying that all the "elite" versions of each of the Pythium troops are overpriced for the improvements they supposedly give. Dont bother producing them. The Limitane is an ok troop to produce when you are at peace and have resources to spare. Otherwise the Militie masses faster and fights about as well. The Limitane Solaris is useful if you are fighting a fire nation but too expensive for general use. Gladiators are a trick unit - dont try and use them vs any experienced player. They can occassionally be handy against indys and for repairing walls during a defensive seige. The Serpent Cataphract is an ok cav unit but performs poorly for its cost compared to other sacreds and especially poorly when compared to the Hydra (the other way to spend your holy points). Lastly the Hydra Hatchling unit is quite cute, but basically worthless on the battlefield. You might use some as bodyguards for key Serpent Priests, but thats it. Now, onto the core units of LA Pythium...

Milite: Believe it or not, these little guys are the workhorse of your army! At first glance you might balk at thier low morale, but thier cheap gold and resource costs allows you to produce them en masse right where you need them - which you should do extensively. The trusty pyhtium Tower Shields and Javelins are really what make this unit great. Thier prot is low but thier defense and resistance to missle attacks is quite high due to the shield. In addition, they fire off one or two Javelin attacks before closing with the enemy allowing them to inflict damage without having to worry about thier morale in close combat. In order to counter thier low morale, just mix in a couple of Standards (say 2-3) into each block of Milite. The slower speed of the Standards even ensures that they will always end up protected at the rear of the squad.

Comitatense: Here we have the backbone of the LA Pythium army, the Comitatense - the Principe of this Pythium era. While somewhat expensive at 15gp, the Comitatense makes up for it with good stats, good survivability, and perhaps most importantly: map move 2! With all other Pythium troops of this era being hobbled with map move 1, you will find that the Comitatense are the only troops you are able to move at will from one crisis to another. As they are cap-only, you must build these troops religiously at your capital every turn. The only reason to not produce them is to make your other cap-only unit, Hydras.

Hydra: The signature unit of La Pythium - and what a unit it is, I mean... look at all those heads!! Weighing in with a grand total of 64 hit points (40 base + 6 per head) and great regeneration the Hydra is truly a force to be reckoned with. On top of its good stats, the strong attacks from its 5 heads will tear enemy troops to pieces. And if that wasnt enough, the damage from thier poison clouds compounds the ability of thier Fear aura to make any troops numerous or tough enough to survive initial contact with them to turn and run in short order. When given a good bless, the Hydra becomes a dominating force on the battlefield, well worth its very steep price tag. The only weakness of the Hydra is thier low protection and large size which makes them vulnerable to missle fire.
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Old May 16th, 2008, 01:48 PM

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Default Re: A Poisoner\'s Guide to LA Pythium

[img]/threads/images/Graemlins/icon40.gif[/img] MAGES:
Moving on to the mages, you will note the impressive diversity of magic paths that is availabe to LA Pythium. In point of fact, this nation has access to every single magic path in the game! Not only that but it can get at least 2+ picks in all but three (Air, Earth, Blood). Its truly an impressive display of magical versatility, which can be leveraged both on the battlefield and via it's unparalleled site search coverage.

Again some notes about the less valuable Serpent Cult mages: The Serpent Acolyte is not a bad researcher in its own right but it pales in comparison to the Renatus. Plus he looks like a dork and you definitely dont want that! Another LA Pythium flavor unit, the Leo is not worth its high price tag. The Mystes is a good research mage which doesnt require a temple, but again it has to take a back seat to the Renatus. The Renata is a decent water mage but you can get access to Water magic much more reliably via your Serpent Priests so there is no reason to produce them.

Heliodromus: While slightly expensive for its power, this mage can fairly reliably get you 2F. You don't want to deploy them everywhere, because thier Heretic abilities will destroy your dominion. But you should keep a stable of the stronger ones with your main armies so that they can deploy some fire evocation spells (Fireball, Falling Fires, Incinerate) through the mid and late game.

Epotes: Your only reliable access to an Earth magic pick. Build only enough to get the Earth magic and then move on to other mages. Once your earth site searching is complete you can have your Epotes form up with your armies in order to heal your Comitantense or Hydras between wars. Sadly the heal ability of the Epotes does not effect Tartarians.

Renatus: Ah, the Renatus, workhorse of the LA Pyth mage force! Unlike the Heliodromus, the Renatus is not a Heretic and you are free to produce it anywhere in your empire without fear of ruining your dominion. It's a very good researcher and you should mass produce these mages as much as you can for that purpose. On top of that, it has a pair of path combinations (DD and DS) which will make 50% of them quite valuable on the battlefield. In particular 2D gives you quick access to Raise Dead which is a key point in LA Pythium's early strategy. Later, 2D can be leveraged into a variety of vicious spells (Disintegrate, for one!) while DS can give you Nether Darts and, when boosted, Vengeance of the Dead. Also not to be overlooked is thier impressive and stylish jackal masks - fancy!

Reveler: These guys like to get it on! Hehehe - seriously tho, this mage is your only access to Blood magic. They dont get blood reliably enough to build up a real blood economy, so thier only real use is to cast Orgy, LA Pyth's national spell to summon satyr assassins. Only build as many of these as you need to get a single Reveler with 1B. Hunt for a turn, cast Orgy until you are out of slaves, and repeat for an endless supply of assassins you dont need a fort to produce!

Theurg: The Theurg is your only access to 2S and 1A. Unfortunately, it is a cap-only unit and you must trade off thier production against your highest level mage, the Serpent Priest. Unless you are facing off against a nation which is weak against Astral magic (Paralyze and whatnot) only produce a couple of these mages for site searching early on. Later in the game when you have a large population of Serpent Priests you can devote more capital time to making some Theurgs.

Serpent Priest: Finally we come to the best mage the Serpent Cult has to offer, the aptly named Serpent Priest. These well priced mages will give your nation very strong access to Nature magic and occassionally produce a good Water mage. One of thier most important features is thier 100% poison resistance. This ability makes them the only unit LA Pyth can recruit which can safely fight alongside Hydras. Use them to command, bless, and support your Hydra forces. Beyond that, thier Nature magic makes them very useful for ritual spells in the early game and powerful battlefield enchantments as the game goes on.
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Old May 16th, 2008, 01:48 PM

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Default Re: A Poisoner\'s Guide to LA Pythium

[img]/threads/images/Graemlins/icon12.gif[/img] NATION DESIGN
On the subject of blessings, you might think that the Hydra needs a strong bless, right? Surprisingly not! The power of the Hydra does not come from its ability to inflict damage (tho it certainly can), but rather its ability to absorb it and project fear in an extended battle. As a result, its far more efficient to employ a cheaper light bless than to go for the level nines. An Earth blessing of some level is a no-brainer since LA Pyth is rife with sacred mages and you also dont want your Hydras to fatigue out. I'd also recommend a light W4 blessing for the slight defense boost - even at size 6 it improves thier survivability significantly. Beyond that its up to you: a light air bless can be helpful early on for the air shield and later to summon AQs.

Since LA Pythium has such a strong early-game unit, the Hydra, it is not really needed to have a strong awake pretender to help them defend. Instead they need something that will carry them through thier spot of weakness in the mid-game and allow them to access greater depths in the elemental paths where they will have trouble boosting. To this end I'd recommend a Sleeping Titan of some variety, the Titan, Cyclops, Mother of Rivers, and the Forge Lord are all possible choices. They all have good slots, are competent on the battlefield, and have paths which are conducive to the above blesses.

For scales you will absolutely want Order 3. The Serpent Cult, especially early in the game when you are funding the Hydra expansion machine, is a gold hog! You'll need as much of it as you can get. Balance the order by taking Misfortune 3 - there is a nominal chance it will cripple you in the early game but after that its free points. Worth the risk because it allows you to invest in Production, say 1 or 2 points. Normally I wouldnt suggest using the Prod scale but you need big money and the extra resources will come in very handy producing all your heavy inf. Lastly, spend whatever remaining points your have on Magic. The more the better, although if you are strapped for points you can settle for Magic 1 since you have such fine researchers.

As for dominion - you wont need more than 4 points specifically for Hydra production (thats 1000gp a round max!). You can take another point if you are worried about having neighbors with strong dom. But overall you will be building many temples to produce your Renatus so its not that big of a deal.
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Old May 16th, 2008, 01:48 PM

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Default Re: A Poisoner\'s Guide to LA Pythium

[img]/threads/images/Graemlins/icon07.gif[/img] STRATEGY:
LA Pythium has been claimed as a weak nation by many players and there is some justificiation for this. However, if you accept the inconsistencies of the nation and focus on its strengths a solid strategy can be devised. First and foremost is the extensive magical research and site searching ability of this nation. Its a top contender in research surely, and probably the #1 race in the game for site searching. Consistent application of these two things will net the Serpent Cult a strong research lead and access to more gems and site-based mages than any other nation throughout the entire game. Secondly, there is the Hydra. Don't turn your back on this unit, just because it has no synergy with the regular troops. Instead, make it the centerpiece of your forces by investing your resources in a deadly poison-immune army.

Early-Game:
In the early part of the game there is only one strategy: Hydras! So many heads, so many indys to eat!! Used correctly, Hydras are devastatingly powerful expanders. Set your starting army to patrol and set your taxes to maximum - you're going to need that money to buy Hydras. Initial expansion is done by teams of a single Serpent Priest leading 4 Hydras. Set the Hydras towards the back of the battlefield and the priest a little further so he doesnt get shot by stray arrows. Script him to cast Bless and the Hydras to Hold and Attack (to string out the indy formations). Once they go into the attack you will see that Hydras totally slaughter almost any indy type. Make high-income provinces a priority so that you can build more Hydra teams.

Don't be afraid of the traditional "tough" indys like Heavy Cav: the Hydra's heads will absorb one lance attack each and their counterattack will eat the horses for breakfast - literally! What you do need to watch out for are particularly large masses of non-xbow missle units. Hydras will be ok vs. a moderate amount of fire but not against large volumes (slingers are particularly dangerous due to thier numbers). Once you have enough gold, immediately build your second team to leverage another advantage of the Hydras - they have no resource requirement. You can literally scale up your expansion rate as fast as you get gold income!

On the magic side of things, your early game goals should be to immediatley build your second fort and begin producing more mages. LA Pytiums forts are expensive on every terrain type except swamp so if you have one available you should build there, as crappy as they are. You wont be able to produce troops but Pyth's strength lies in its excellent research and site searching so the more mages you can build a turn the better.

The first research target is Conj 3 (Summon Vine Ogre) and Const 2 (Ivy Crown). The goal being rapid production of poison-immune troops to accompany your Hydras as soon as possible. Since you will be recruiting Serpent Priests in your capital every turn and they often get 3N, we can leverage that by turning them into an early VO factory since they wont need the traditional Thistle Mace. Once you complete this research goal, the next target is Ench 3 (Raise Dead). Once you have this spell, you can give poison rings to your 2D Renatus and send them into battle with the poison immune army to produce undead chaff to fill out your ranks.


Mid-Game:
Your research priority now is leveraging the power of the poison-immune army that you have been building up. The first and foremost spell to research is Foul Vapors. While not the most powerful battlefield damage spell it is available at a comparatively low level (Ench 5) and synergizes perfectly with your Hydra force. Next you should research Arrow Fend and find a mage who can cast it in order to protect said Hydras. If you havent found one from a site, research Const 4 and build a booster for one of your air Theurgs. Const 4 doesnt hurt anyway since it gives you access to the Thistle Mace for more VO summoning.

Beyond that, you have some freedom in what to research next. If war is imminent, its a simple matter of researching up to Evoc 5 to get spells for your regular battle mages. Fireball and Falling Fires for the Heliodromus, Nether Bolt and Shadow Blast for your Renatus. These will give your regular armies the extra punch they need to compete. If war is less pressing then you might consider boosting your Conj and Construction up in order to begin thug production.

As you build more forts to expand your mage production, it is useful to set one fort up exclusively for the production of Heretics. Even tho they have a tendency to rant and blaspheme, they do have thier uses! You dont want to produce them across your empire because it will wreck havoc with your dominion. Concentrating them at one point that you choose sacrifices the dominion there to save it everywhere else. At this fort, you should build Revelers (if you want an assassin factory) or Heliodromus (for battlefield artillery). Dont forget to continue site-searching! Excellent path coverage is a key strength of LA Pyth and you must get as much gems and sites as you can out of it.

At this point you should have the foundation of your poison-immune army assembled: Hydras, VOs, and skelly spamming Renatus. Command the army with a Serpent Priest scripted to cast Foul Vapors and you are ready to go! Put your troops way in the back, set them to Hold and Attack, cast entanglement spells, etc. Anything you can do to drag the battle out as long as possible. Eventually your enemies men and mages will succumb to the poison and fear. Additionally, once you get Arrow Fend you no longer need to be wary of masses of archers and can attack any enemy army at will.

When you go to war, make sure to bring both poison armies and non-poison armies. While the two cannot work together on the same battlefield, they will cause your opponent no end of trouble trying to defend. If they try to deploy thier key mages to defeat your normal forces, withdraw them and move in the poison army to wipe them out. If they develop a poison-resistant strategy, switch your poison forces to raiding and attack with your normal men when they least expect it.


Late-game:
As a strong Nature / Death nation, it is unsurprising that the primary late game goal of LA Pyth should be Tartarians. The tradition path to mass producing Tarts is via Demi-Liches, which synergizes with the work already done in Enchantment (you should be at 5-6 already) so continue on to Ench 8 for Lichcraft. Along the way you will acquire some very handy spells: Rigor Mortis, Relief, Life after Death, Carrion Reanimation, Mass Regeneration, but more on those later. The next step on the path to Tarts is to secure either the Gift of Health or the Chalice. As a strong nature nation, Gift of Health should be doable, however a Serpent Priest with an astral pick can be boosted up to forge the Chalice if needed. After that, it is the long march up to Conj 9 to open the Tartarian Gate.

In the meantime, all this Enchantment work will also be going to the advantage of your regular armies. First off, you get Relief: a very powerful spell in its own right, not only for your troops but also your mages. They can really rain down the hurt with the reinvig it grants them on top of any from your bless. Another trick that becomes available earlier on is Relief + Rigor Mortis. The spells wont cancel each other out evenly, but they will hurt your enemy more than you in the end. Mass Regeneration is also quite handy, tho somewhat harder to cast, and will be particuarly effective if you have the Gift of Health. When you finally have time to research Alteration, you will also gain access to Will of the Fates via boosted 2S Theurgs - always a plus!

For your poison forces, Ench will give you access to undead chaff which you can use to fill out your ranks and drag out those battles to maximize your poison damage. A lowly Renatus with a Skull Staff can cast Carrion Reanimation to generate 100 soulless in the field - expensive at 10D but if used well very much worth the cost. For a more long term solution, it is useful to employ the Life after Death trick to mass-produce undead priests. To do this, recruit a bunch of indy priests, then give them a Hydra bodyguard, bring them to battle and cast Life after Death. The hydra will poison and then kill all the priests who will return as undead priests. Following this they will gain access to the Reanimate command which you can use to produce unlimited longdead chaff.

At this point in the game, no doubt the superior site-searching of the Serpent Cult has revealed sites which can produce some powerful indy mages. Since there is no way to know what you will get I cant give any specific advice othter than to say: always be open to the possibilities that these new mages represent. Dont be afraid to change the course of your research if you discover a powerful mage and see a way to employ them against your enemey.



So, there you have it. A guide from start to finish on our old, quirky friend, the Serpent Cult. And last but not least, don't forget... Adopt a Hydra Hatchling: They need love too.
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Old May 16th, 2008, 02:11 PM

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Default Re: A Poisoner\'s Guide to LA Pythium

esta es muy bueno. pythium es pais muy dificil, pero muy poderoso.
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Old May 16th, 2008, 02:22 PM
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Default Re: A Poisoner\'s Guide to LA Pythium

Great guide IH.

Another tactic that works well with foul vapors and I inadvertently fell victim to is cursing your enemies. My pretender in Epotara was cursed when she teleported and inadvertently landed in front of a Pythium army. Foul vapors caused damage each round and the curse on my pretender resulted in her racking up a boatload of afflictions.
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Old May 16th, 2008, 02:47 PM

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Default Re: A Poisoner\'s Guide to LA Pythium

Ah, yeah thats a good one! Particularly good against SCs. Tough to implement on a larger scale but its something to think about earlier on when your Serpent Priest commander of that army doesnt have a lot of spells to pick from.
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Old May 16th, 2008, 02:53 PM
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Default Re: A Poisoner\'s Guide to LA Pythium

IH,
Very nicely done.
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Old May 16th, 2008, 03:00 PM

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Default Re: A Poisoner\'s Guide to LA Pythium

great guide, anybody planing to make a guide for Bogarus
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Old May 16th, 2008, 03:03 PM
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Default Re: A Poisoner\'s Guide to LA Pythium

Unfortunately many SC's have immunity to poison by default such as most undead (WraithLords, Tartarians, etc.,) and most constructs (Golems, Statues, etc.,). Out of all the resistances it's one of the most common to see. Several items also provide ways of getting poison immunity.
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