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Old December 28th, 2008, 08:58 PM

MaxWilson MaxWilson is offline
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Default A Few (Really) Good Men: Guide to Ashdod

Unit breakdown (troops):

Human slinger: 7 gold, 2 res. Pretty much what you'd expect a slinger to be. Easily killed, not very accurate, low stats. Still, it's nice that this particular giant nation actually has the option to field human troops if it wants to, and slingers have their uses.

Human slave: 7 gold, 3 res. As above. You may consider mixing these in with Bashanites to improve troop density and help overwhelm defenses, especially if there's some Strength of Giants going on to make the human slaves do some damage. You might ask yourself why you'd ever want to use the human slaves, since the slingers cost less resources and have a higher effective attack (9 vs. 8). The answer is that dagger troops are almost always subject to repel and spear troops usually are not, and of course the spear troops do marginally more damage. The best thing about these troops is that they're cheap and low-encumbrance with mapmove 2. The worst thing about them is that they're cheap.

Edomite: 25 gold, 17 res. Light infantry with javelins and spears. It's hard for me to imagine actually buying any of these, but they do get better troop density than Rephaites do (because they are size 3) and after getting a couple of stars I imagine that they might actually start to hit things. Still, if you're going for quantity over quality you'll probably pick the humans. Wasteland survival.

Amorite: 45 gold, 27 res. Of the recruitable-anywhere troops, Amorites tie with Bashanites for the best defense (14) although their Prot is lower, and their spears repel more weapons than broadswords do. The "strong poison" on the spear tips does 10 points of damage, I think. Amorites seem to be better than Bashanites at killing SCs, and they're pretty much equivalently good as blockers while being somewhat less expensive and having lower encumbrance. Fire resistant, wasteland survival, gluttony.

Gileadite: 45 gold, 29 res. The opposite of Amorites. Slightly heavier armor (13 on the body vs. 11) and more encumbrance, with only 13 defense. You get these guys in PD. They have no poison on their spears, but have better Morale than Amorites (13 vs. 11), which is useful in PD. Still, if I were buying offensive troops and couldn't have Bashanites, I would buy Amorites and not Gileadites. Fire resistant, wasteland survival, gluttony.

Gileadite Archer: 45 gold, 49 res. Heavily-armored archer that can do melee in a pinch. I have been generally under-impressed with the Gileadite Bow. 17 damage sounds nice, but in practice they're hard to mass and don't seem to do much damage at range. When I need ranged support I either reach for the human slingers or (more usually) mages. The fact that Gileadite Archers have mapmove 1 means that even if I do mass them I usually regret it; they just can't keep up with the rest of the army. On the plus side, their bows really do have incredible range (50), and they really can stand up in melee under the right circumstances: frequently with PD 30 (15 Gileadites, 15 Edomites, and 5 Gileadite Archers) or more I find that it is the archers who engage and finish off the exhausted, high-fatigue enemy after the Gileadites finally die or run away. (Remember that every 10 fatigue is effectively -1 to defense, so the rather sad attack skill of the Gileadite Archers doesn't matter much in this case.) Again, fire resistant, wasteland survival, gluttony. In fact that applies to all the Rephaite troops and commanders and I won't mention it again.

Bashanite: 55 gold, 33 res. More HP than Gileadites or Amorites and a significantly higher base damage (26 vs. 21) which can often mean a one-shot kill on a human. Ashdod's troops are inferior to other giant nations on a cost basis (compare Bashanites to Jotun Hirdmen), but the Bashanite is pretty much the best of the lot, especially after he's been buffed by the mages. You still shouldn't expect to win an infantry war on a cost basis, but that's not how Ashdod should be played anyway, and the Bashanite does his job well enough: surviving area-effect spells, and killing off "leakers" that somehow make it through the hail of magma, flame, and death magic that Ashdod's mages rain down on their enemies. Bashanites (and other Ashdod troops) do have unusually good Morale and MR, and the across-the-board fire resistance is tactically useful as well at times.

Sheshai Anakite (cap-only): 125 gold, 48 res, sacred, 50 HP, berserker +2, 75% fire resistant (not the normal 50%), extra gluttony, magic sword + gore attack. Pretty good Prot, especially after berserking. The best thing about Sheshai Anakites is that they're only 48 resources.

Ahiman Anakite (cap-only): 150 gold, 88 res (!), sacred, 53 HP, extra gluttony, magic sword + gore attack, unusually large shield, better armor. Sheshai Anakites have slightly worse attack/damage values than Ahimans before berserking and slightly better values after. Ahimans, however, have more staying power.

Unit breakdown (commanders):

Edomite Scout: 35 gold, 19 res. Not as expensive or as tough as a full-sized giant scout, not as cheap as an indy scout. Nothing to see here, move along. In practice you will almost always recruit indy scouts.

Rephaite Commander: 75 gold, 35 res. Unless you are playing with the BI mod, you will usually recruit indy commanders instead, unless for some reason you need your commander to be fire resistant. Nevertheless, he is slightly tougher than a Bashanite, and the 1 Rephaite Commander you get with 1 PD will sometimes kill an enemy or three before finally going down. Also, he is more thematic than an indy commander.

Kohen: 70 gold, 3 res. H1, 10% D1. Comes with a quarterstaff and is surprisingly capable in melee, which means sometimes he can handle one or even two enemies sneaking up to melee range without falling over dead. Note that the Robes he's wearing benefit from an Earth blessing by going up to Prot 6 instead of Prot 2. Still, mostly you'll recruit indy priests, because they don't tie up a fort.

Rephaite Sage: 175 gold, 3 res. 100% F2/E2/S2 random. 6 RP, which is 29 gold per RP initially and 1.94 gold per RP ongoing. Can be recruited without a lab. Not quite as good as Zamzummite mages for researching, but the lower initial cost makes Rephaite Sages a good solid research choice when gold is tight, such as when you're saving up for a new fort. They also make solid battlemages.

Emite: 140 gold, 3 res. D1 + 100% (EFSD), fortune-teller 5. 4 RP, which is 35 gold per RP initially and 2.33 gold per RP ongoing. Cheaper than Zamzummites for casting Dark Knowledge or Arcane Probing, and the fortune-telling may be good insurance in your capital, but inferior as a researcher or a battlemage, although if you just need someone to lead longdead or Mazzikim an Emite might do the job.

Zamzummite: 310 gold, 3 res, sacred. E1D2H1 +100% (ED) + 100% (EFSD). 7 RP, which is 44 gold per RP initially, 1.47 gold per RP ongoing. Your main research mage, not particularly cost-effective as a researcher but not horrible--you may want to take Magic-1. Excellent battlemages, and thuggable too with minimal equipment.

Adon (cap-only): 400 gold, 84 res, sacred. H2 +100% F2/E2/S2. 2 RP. Terrible researcher (200 gold and 6.7 ongoing per RP), but the only recruitable H2 priest you have, and eminently thuggable. Extra gluttony, 120 leadership, mapmove 3, 1 extra misc slot.

Talmai Elder (cap-only): 400 gold, 3 res, sacred. 100% F3/E3/S3 +10% (FESD). 9 RP, which is 44 gold initially and 1.48 ongoing per RP. Forge bonus (15), which doesn't matter at all on 5-gem items (unless you don't have a hammer) but saves 1 gem on 10-gem items and goes up from there. Not noticeably better than Zamzummites at research, but if you can afford to you may want to recruit these in your capital instead of Zamzummites because the cross-path 10% randoms can be useful. Also excellent battlemages. Unlike Adonim, Talmai Elders can't self-bless and have only mapmove 2. Like Adonim, they are accustomed to jewelry and have 3 misc slots. Leadership 80.

National summons:

Se'ir: Not worth it. More a Hinnom thing than Ashdod. They are sacred, but inferior to your recruitable troops in terms of cost-effectiveness (since blood slaves are so hard to get).

Shed: Ditto, plus the paths are almost impossible to get (B3A1).

Mazzik: Easily-summoned if you've got nature income (use indy shamans). Like imps, they are flying and hard to kill. Unlike imps, they are neither fire-immune nor vulnerable to cold. They're also stealthy +0. I haven't ever really used them but I could imagine tossing them on a Black Servant (w/ a Rod of the Leper King to give leadership) if you wanted a stealthy raiding force. I could also imagine using a few dozen of them set to Guard Commander as a cheap castle sieging force (they are Strength 9 and flying so each is almost as good as two men, and they are Need Not Eat) while Ahimans or SCs do the actual fighting. You get 8 Mazzikim for 3 gems.

Malakh: Stealthy +0 and Flying, H1, full slots but low (13) HP for Ashdod. On the plus side, it has fire and shock resistance, built-in Awe+3, natural Prot 5, and can self-bless. It is also summonable at Conj-4 with S2 mages, for only 9 pearls. This is another unit I haven't used much yet, but I could imagine it as a minor thug, perhaps with a fire brand, luck shield, robe of shadows, and bracers of defense. I have used it some as a flying scout (it's sometimes nice to figure out which nations are lurking where on the map) but Astral Window cast from a Stone Sphere is superior in most respects.

Lilot: I have not used this unit at all. You need a 4N caster and 25 nature gems to summon it. It's a flying seducer with Stealth +15. Demonic, reasonable stats and 22 HP, Morale 30. I don't know how strong its seduction ability is, but since the rest of its stats are somewhat inferior to a succubus maybe its seduction ability is too. Available at Conj-5.

Hashmal: Ethereal and Awe +4, hand and misc slots. Flying, H2, Inquisitor. Requires S3F1, 21 pearls, Conj-6. Quite a good thug if you can manage to summon them (see below).

Ditanu: Ethereal undead giants with D1B1H1 and 100% (Earth/Fire/Astral), Fear +1, Morale 30, fire resist, cold/poison immunity. Requires D3H1 and 25 death gems, Conj-6. Could be a decent thug if you haven't got Conj-8 yet. Has Shattered Soul (5).

Arel: Flying, N3H3, Awe +5, fire/shock res, poison immune. 33 HP, natural Prot 7, Morale 9, poor attack skill. Healer (50). Conceivably you could use an Arel as a thug--she has more slots than a Hashmal--but you're probably interested in her mainly for access to Nature and healing ability. Requires S4N1 and 39 pearls, Conj-7.

Ophan: Flying, H3, Awe +5, fire/shock/poison immune, 55 HP, Morale 30, natural Prot 21, ethereal, fire shield (9 AP), lifeless, trample (Size 5), patrol bonus +50, mapmove 50. Only has misc slots, however. Requires S5F2 and 49 pearls, Conj-8.

Malik: Ethereal undead giants with D2B2 and 100% (E2/F2/S2), Fear +7, Morale 30, fire resist, cold/poison immunity. Requires D4H1 and 55 death gems, and kills the caster. (Prophetized demiliches make amusing casters for Banquet For the Dead--just imagine the Malik devouring a dusty old reconstituted corpse.) Has Shattered Soul (15), which normally only is associated with Tartarians, meaning 15% of the time he will be insane and refuse to take orders on that turn. Insane Malkim will pillage or preach or site-search or research or tear down temples, etc., but will not tear down forts or labs.

Chayot: Flying, H4 plus F4/A4/E4/S4 (depending on form), Awe +6, fire/shock/poison immune, 55 to 88 HP (depending on form), natural Prot 9 to 15 (depending on form), good stats, Morale 30, fire shield (10 AP), full slots, mapmove 6. Inferior to the Seraph in that they don't cause blindness to attackers and that (without boosters) they can only cast from one path at a time. Superior to the seraph in that they can survive a Soul Slay! An opponent may have to kill them up to four times in the same combat to get them to stay dead (depending on which form it started out in). Requires S7F3 and 222 pearls, plus Conj-9. But for that price you get 1 unit of Chayot and 4 non-commander Ophanim.

Note: "Chayot" is plural, since there are four creatures actually involved, even if they're acting as one. E.g. "These Chayot are wearing the Boots of Calius the Druid," not "This Chayot is wearing..." We never speak of the individual, singular Chaya, only of the Chayot. There is probably a theological significance to that--ask your Pretender.

Pretender design:

I will assume that you took an E10N6 bless. There are many ways to get there, although a Cyclops is the cheapest, and of course you could spend some extra points on getting to N8, but E10N6 is useful on so many levels for this nation that IMHO it should be considered mandatory. The reinvig for zero-enc, up-armoring options on thugs, enhanced missile protection for battlemages, regeneration for staying power on line troops and communion slaves and to reduce the importance of disease from starvation (gluttony), and reduced affliction chances all synergize terribly well, and in fact there isn't really any other bless that Ashdod really feels the need of.

More attack and defense is always nice of course, but Ahiman Anakites already have attack/defense stats in the range you would take a bless to get up to, and they do gain stars quickly.

You could try a lighter E10N4 if you were tight on points, or even E9N4.

Set heat scales to Heat-3 (anyone fighting in your dominion will suffer extra encumbrance, but you won't because you're fire-resistant). Other scales and dominion are up to you. I suggest imprisoning your pretender because he's not a rainbow and you have plenty of SC material lying around. A imprisoned E10N6 Cyclops with Heat-3 will have 161 points left to spend. I happen to like Growth and Magic. Don't go too heavy on Sloth, but remember that you're not equipped to win an infantry war, so I would stay away from Production too. Sloth-1 is fine in my experience, and even Sloth-2 is workable if you need it to get Magic-1. Ashdod has pretty good PD so don't be afraid of Misfortune if you want to go the Order/Misfortune route.

Initial expansion:

Ahimans are great for expansion.

Sheshai Anakites work for expansion too if you're squeezed for resources. The tradeoff is twice as many Sheshaites for the same resources, but worse protection, worse defense (-4? after berserk), slightly better attack (+1 after berserk), and more encumbrance. Blessed Ahimans have zero encumbrance except in cold-3 or swamps, so they can kill basically unlimited amounts of indies. Blessed Sheshaites pick up 2 fatigue per turn (it's not exactly Enc because it happens regardless of whether they go into melee or not, and it doesn't double with Quickness) after they go berserk and shouldn't fight longer than 20 turns or so if you want them to stay alive (40 fatigue is getting up into the danger zone for critical hits). In most cases you'll want to stick with Ahimans, but you may mix in a Sheshaite occasionally to use up extra resources. Sheshaites also have more heat resistance, so you may want to use them if you get in an early war with someone with a heat aura (EA Abysia, if you're playing mixed-age).

Until you research some buffs, Adonim are actually not any better than Ahimans for expansion (in fact, they have weaker head armor). Adonim are nice for leading expansion parties because they're H2 (i.e. seldom miss blessing an Ahiman as long as you have the Ahimans on Hold and Attack) and tougher than indy priests or your national priests (Kohenim), particularly when since those priests have a tendency to get done blessing and revert to "Stay Behind Troops," which often brings them into melee and gets them killed. Here's a trick, though: buy a human slinger. One priest, one slinger, and three or four Ahimans (cost: 657 gold, about 360 resources) makes a great expansion party. The priest will get done blessing and will then run back to hide behind the slinger (who was naturally set towards the very back of the field on Fire Closest). As long as the province defenders are not so tough that they take more than 15 turns to defeat (thus using up the slinger's ammo), this party of six can take almost any indy province (including knights, especially if the Ahimans have one or two stars, but excluding elephants). Really big or tough provinces might call for an Adon instead or your Prophet--as noted above, E10N6 Ahimans can fight forever as long as their leader doesn't get himself killed running into melee (stupid priests). Do keep an eye out for druid provinces and other specials who can cast Sleep Cloud, though.

A fringe benefit of using priests instead of Adonim to lead expansion parties is of course that you can recruit buy mages instead at your capital and recruit the priests at a temple built by your prophet.

Try to get a second fort up relatively quickly. Build in mountains or forests so it only costs 800 gold and 3 months. If the second fort is close enough to your capital, you may not even choose to build a lab there, instead building Rephaite Sages and sending them straight to your capital to do their research there, thus saving 500 gold.

Initial magic goals:

Alteration-3 should be your first target, because ethereal Ahimans are terrific. Ironskinned Adonim aren't too shabby either, although you'll want to Hold for a couple of turns after that to get back fatigue back down. Other than that, your research goals are pretty much up to you, depending upon your situation and likely opponents.

Conjuration-3 yields Dark Knowledge (useful for making Shadow Brands) and Summon Earthpower/Phoenix Power. (Of course Summon Earthpower is particularly good for an E2 Adon planning to Ironskin and then mix it up in melee.) Don't plan on getting your national summons, though, until you scrape up 50 fire gems to empower an Astral Talmai Elder to S3F1. That means Conj-6 is not an early research target.

Construction-4 is also high priority for dwarven hammers and thugging out your Adonim and/or Zamzummites a bit. Also yields Legions of steel.

Thaumaturgy-3 yields site-searching spells and Teleport, which lets thugged-out Adonim respond quickly to knights attacks or enemy invasions.

Enchantment-3 gives skelly spam, and Enchantment-4 brings Flaming Arrows if you're into that kind of thing. (Use human slingers, not Gileadites.) Bear in mind that Ashdod's troops are almost all fire-resistant.

Evocation-2 gives Arcane Probing, but Evocation is mostly unnecessary early on. Close to your capital you should have plenty of cap-only sacreds to do your fighting, and you can't spare mages from research duty anyway. Later on, Ashdod's durable PD synergizes well with the potent battlemagic Zamzummites and Rephaite Sages/Talmai Elders can throw around, and Ahimans excel as meat shields.

Arty spells:

Banefire.
Gifts from Heaven.
Nether Darts.
Cloud of Death.
Blade Wind.
Magma Eruption.
Falling Fires.
Flame Eruption.
Drain Life.
Paralyze/Mind Burn/Soul Slay.

I don't think I really need to explain how to use all these, but it's worth pointing out that every single Zamzummite and Rephaite Sage you recruit can do at least one of these. It's also worth pointing out that friendly fire casualties will be minimal for many of these spells (e.g. Banefire's decay effect doesn't hurt Ashdod troops much because of their high MR and long lifespans), although Gifts From Heaven is obviously an exception.

Misc spells:

Summon Earthpower: always useful for sustained skelly spamming, magma eruptions, etc.

Communion Slave: You can forge Crystal Matrixes easily. Either set up a linebacker communion with a whole bunch of slaves all buffed with Summon Earthpower/Invulnerability/Phoenix Pyre/Fire Shield/Soul Vortex/Personal Luck/Astral Shield/Resist Magic/etc.--the slaves can also self-bless and cast Body Ethereal if desired--or else use them to cast higher-level spells like Master Enslave, or to rain down destruction with never-ending Magma Eruptions/Gifts From Heaven/etc. Unlike most communion slaves, blessed Zamzummites have lots of hit points, reinvig 5, and regenerate, so you're in very little danger of accidentally killing off your slaves with too much spell-casting. Unless you're using Rephaite Sages as slaves too, which you probably shouldn't be because they will take much more fatigue unless you're casting pure Astral spells.

Body Ethereal: For tough fights, consider taking along a Rephaite Sage to cast Body Ethereal on several of the Ahimans or Adonim involved. High-defense units benefit from Etherealness because the 75% of attacks which "just miss" don't count for purposes of the -2 per attack penalty to defense.

Army buffs:

Flaming Arrows (Enchantment-4): remember that you can recruit human slingers for 2 resources out of any fort. Note that Flaming Arrows does not benefit Gileadite Archers (there's no Fire variant of the Gileadite Bow).

Strength of Giants: You may think this is unnecessary for Ahimans, but an extra four points of damage is an extra four points of damage. May be the difference between a gore attack killing a human in one shot vs. leaving him alive for a sword blow to finish off next turn, i.e. can double your kill rate. Can also power Bashanites up enough to smash through shields, and likewise increases the chances of a one-shot kill. Can also be quite nice for turning chaffy human slaves and slingers into something more deadly.

Legions of Steel: Likewise can't hurt, reduces lucky hits and thus the chances of Ahimans getting afflicted, significantly improves survivability of Bashanites or Amorites, and makes chaff slightly less chaffy.

Army of Gold/Lead: Ditto but moreso.

Weapons of Sharpness: see Strength of giants. When the two are combined, even chaffy humans can sometimes cut through shields, although really you still shouldn't expect them to do too much damage until the opponent starts building up fatigue.

Army-killers:

Fire Storm (Evoc-7): Your troops are all pretty much immune to this spell, even including the PD. Unfortunately it's not that great at killing even puny man-sized troops, but it's decent at killing mages and archers.

Astral Tempest (Evoc-8): Great spell for Ashdod. Cheap, reasonably low path cost, and good at killing armies which are too large to practically kill with troops or direct arty spells (like when you're invading R'lyeh and trying to kill thousands of troops with three commanders and a handful of Ditanu). Your troops are all high-HP, and your sacreds all regenerate. A Talmai Elder can cast this spell with no fear of killing himself. See also Rigor Mortis.

Rigor Mortis (Ench-6): Another great spell for wiping out armies. I'm not sure, but I think the fatigue damage inflicted scales with your Death paths. In any case, it's not at all unusual to see units with between 100 and 200 fatigue, and if the fatigue doesn't kill them Astral Tempest should. It's cheap, too, at 1 death gem.

Plague (Thau-6?): Tricky to bring off, but much like Fire Storm or Astral Tempest the risk to your regenerating troops is pretty minimal, and it's great for finishing off huge armies because once one target is infected it spreads like wildfire. (Sadly, Woundflame is tough to use as Ashdod because if you give it to a Malik, anyone he infects is already dead from the damage.) Obviously you don't want to use Rephaite sages in the same army as this spell, though, unless you give them a Shroud of the Battle Saint.

(Continued in next post...)
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Last edited by MaxWilson; December 29th, 2008 at 12:56 AM..
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  #2  
Old December 28th, 2008, 08:58 PM

MaxWilson MaxWilson is offline
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Default Re: A Few (Really) Good Men: Guide to Ashdod

(Continued from previous post...)

Thug options:

Flying thugs: If you don't have Winged Boots, or maybe even if you do, you could go with Hashmalim as thugs. A brand sword (Shadow or Fire), a Vine Shield, a Pendant of Luck, and Bracers of Defense make a pretty resilient thug protected by layers of defenses: ethereality, luck, Awe +4, Vines, high defense (22 before experience), and reasonable protection (12). Note that the vine shield grapples even opponents who are deterred by Awe. Thus, most opponents will be entangled most of the time, making the Hashmalim hard to swarm, so the high defense really will stop most attacks. Note that he's also got a built-in fire shield (8 AP) to punish successful attackers and a regeneration rate of 3 HP/round to recover. (He can also cast Holy Avenger, for whatever that's worth.) Net encumbrance is -4. Total cost w/ hammers: 24 pearls, 6 earth gems, 7 nature gems, and either 3 fire gems or 7 death gems depending upon which brand sword you picked. The downside? Hashmalim are hard to summon without empowering an Astral Talmai Elder in Fire (you can get lucky on the randoms but don't count on it). On the plus side, they are pretty tough. One of these guys with a couple of stars can consistently take down 80 knights, 80 mounted hirdmen, 80 steel maidens--pretty much any non-sacred national troops except guardians. (Sacreds may give more trouble, especially Niefel Giants. But you already knew that.) Did I mention that Hashmalim are fire-immune and shock-resistant?

Poison Golem: SotD, Pendant of Luck, a Shroud and Bracers of Defense. Season to taste, depending upon your indy mage finds (Rainbow Armor is good if you find Enchantresses, a Wraith Crown is also good if you have Forge of the Ancients up and/or have nothing better to do with your death gems).

Wraith Lord: Standard thug option, not much to say here. Soul Vortex, recuperation (from immortality), good stats and built-in ethereal.

Zamzummite: Surprisingly good thug for a mage, especially when blessed. Can self-bless. Negative encumbrance, regenerates, can cast Ironskin/Invulnerability/Body Ethereal/Personal Luck/Fire Shield/Soul Vortex. Try a brand sword, Shield of Gleaming Gold, and Bracers of Defense. If he picks up an affliction just pass the equipment to someone new. Cheap enough that you can use them in pairs.

Adon: He's pretty tough even naked, but try to get at least Bracers of Defense and Boots of the Messenger on him so he can self-buff without fatigue problems and also cover the weak head armor. (If you can't find any N1 indy mages and/or have no nature income you can also use Girdle of Strength.) E2 Adonim don't necessarily need either of those items if you have Summon Earthpower and Ironskin researched. Once you've got some gem income and some research, consider a Fire Brand and a Shield of Gleaming Gold. There's really not much else to say. The Astral ones are particularly nice because they can go ethereal and lucky, and with a starshine skullcap they can teleport to hotspots. The Fire Adonim are good in melee (higher attack rating), but not quite as good as either the Earth or Astral Adonim partly because there's no Fire buff that helps magic resistance. Therefore you may opt to use them as arty mages instead, with a screen of Ahimans: bless, bless, Phoenix Power, Flame Eruption, Flame Eruption, cast spells for example. Adonim are more durable than most mages so can be set close to the front lines where Flame Eruption is likely to do a lot of damage.

Ophan: Ridiculously good for the price. Give him a Pendant of Luck and let him go. His one weakness is his lack of slots, which means his MR won't go above 22 (w/ Amulet of Antimagic) when soloing provinces. Well, his other weakness is that he's Lifeless and thus doesn't regenerate, but honestly that's rarely a problem because he rarely takes damage from normal troops. He's not immune to cold, though, so watch out for Frozen Heart. And also watch out for swamp ground or extremely cold dominion, because that pushes his encumbrance up to 3 per trample, which is more than reinvig 5 from the E10 bless can handle (he tramples 3 or 4 squares per turn). Other than that, he's an extremely nice and effective thug for 39 pearls and change, and he also makes a nice addition to any army of Ahimans (since the Ophan is going to Divine Bless himself anyway, you don't have to spend time blessing your troops and/or mages). Note: if you're not worried about MR you can give him a little bit of extra Prot from Bracers of Defense (which will raise his Prot from 21 to 24 after the blessing).

Ditanu: Skip Dirge For the Dead and go straight to Banquet For the Dead. See "Malik."

Malik: Excellent SC. Just like an Adon, except with better MR, built-in Ethereal and better resistances,Morale 30 and Fear +7, zero encumbrance (works great with Stymphalian Wings or Boots of Quickness), the ability to cast Soul Vortex (and/or Blood Vengeance if you're into that sort of thing) if you use a booster or a death gem, and an escort of Ditanu, who are like undead Ahiman Anakites with Fear +0, better stats and MR and built-in ethereal. (Slightly worse Protection though.) For 50 death gems and a dead Zamzummite, this is a treat. On the other hand, I have to admit that there's not an extremely compelling case for using Malkim over Adonim, since most things that will take out an Adon will also take out a Malik (lightning, Petrify, Disintegrate, etc.). Malkim are, however, undead and thus immune to Frozen Heart and poison, friendly fire from Shadow Brands/Sunslayer, and they and their Ditanu are also less vulnerable to fatigue damage (from lightning, Sleep Cloud, etc.) because of their negative encumbrance. (Nor do you have to worry about Chest Wounds, which are the bane of Adon and Ahiman alike, or about fighting in swamps or extreme cold.) Morale 30 is nice, though (e.g. it gives immunity to Fear), and the cumulative Fear of the Malik and his Ditanu can sometimes be useful. (It synergizes well with Awe, and it can end some battles early.) Moreover, there are sometimes logistical benefits to summons over cap-only national troops/commanders. The upshot: in most respects, consider the Malik a significant quantitative but not a qualitative improvement over the Adon.

Chayot: Insanely good either as a thug or as a mage. Master Enslave? Astral Tempest? Flame Storm? Will of the Fates? Antimagic? Army of Lead? Fog Warriors? Petrify? They can do all of this and more. (For Master Enslave you'll want a Crystal Shield, a Starshine Skullcap, and a RoW + RoS, bringing them up to S8. That leaves one hand conveniently free for a Rune Smasher.) One caution: don't cast Phoenix Pyre unless you're planning to spend time in Earth form. Chayot already have a #secondshape on death, and Phoenix Pyre overrides it--if you die with more than 100 fatigue you don't go to your next form, you just die. Of course if you're planning to be in the E4 form then you might as well Phoenix Pyre to your heart's content. You can cast cross-path spells if you use a booster (RoW works fine) to boost your levels back up from zero, since Chayot's "natural" levels are at 4 in all paths with a negative #magicboost for all paths but one. E.g. the E4 form becomes E4F1 if you give it a skull of fire, thus conveniently allowing it to cast Magma Eruption. Honestly, though, Chayot are so awesome that using them as an arty mage is a waste. It's your call whether you want to use the Ophanim that come with them as their bodyguards or split some or all off into another army. Even with no slots and thus no luck or antimagic pendant, Ophanim are still ridiculously good, and you get FOUR of them along with your Chayot when you cast Call Merkavah. (Of course, it also costs a ridiculous amount of gems.)

Other tips and strats:

Bloodstones: If you can bootstrap into a blood economy (usually takes 2-3 provinces full of indy scouts blood hunting), you can empower an Earth Talmai Elder to Blood-2. Using a ring of sorcery and a ring of wizardry, he can then forge himself a Blood Thorn and a Brazen Vessel (15 slaves each w/ hammer because of the 15% Talmai Elder forge bonus). He can start forging Bloodstones for 6 earth gems and 9 slaves apiece. 80 blood slaves brings another forger online (50 to empower to Blood-1, then 30 to forge the Brazen Vessel and Blood Thorn). It's up to you whether it's more useful to hoard the bloodstones in the lab or use them on battlemages (or scouts on gem-carrying duty). Note also that you can also get to Bloodstones via Malkim, although you will probably have better things to do with Malkim than having them hunt for slaves or forge Bloodstones in the lab.

Fever Fetishing: Ashdod has no particular advantages in fever fetishing. Indy scouts are more cost-efficient receptacles for fetishes than any of your national troops (although Kohanim or Edomite Scouts come within 20% or so and take less micromanagement), and you are reliant on luck to find forgers. If, however, you are lucky enough to find one of the sites that allows Enchantress recruitment (some of them are N1 sites), consider putting Fever Fetishes on your blood hunting indy scouts. Ashdod can always use more Fire gem income to empower Astral Talmai Elders for summoning national summons, for Fire Arrows or Fire Storm in combat, for forging brands and shields, and for Flames From the Sky.

Magic Diversification:

Your pretender can summon a Fairy Queen via Fairy Court to get you into Air and Nature, if you still haven't gotten any through site searching w/ N1 mages and/or sites captured from other nations. Arelot (plural of Arel) would also be useful for bootstrapping into Nature, if you were able to find a lizard shaman to summon one for you (w/ Crystal Coin + Starshine Skullcap + Ring of Sorcery).

You can bootstrap into low Water by summoning a spectral mage (Summon Spectre) and leveraging the easy water boosters + Ring of Wizardry from your national mages.

You can bootstrap into Blood via indy scouts + empowerment as mentioned above, via Malkim, or by summoning Tartarians (Tartarian Monstras have the best chance of Blood randoms), and from there to vampires. I don't have much experience with Blood, though, so there might be a better way, and anyway I'm not sure it's worth doing without recruitable B1 blood hunters.

Conclusion:

Ashdod early game is gold-hungry and resource-hungry, but your strong sacreds help you to expand ferociously and put you in a good position in mid-game to begin utilizing your excellent battlemages and thugs. Ashdod's strong death and astral magic remain useful into the endgame. This nation has everything it needs to compete with any other nation in any era. Good luck!

-Max
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Last edited by MaxWilson; December 28th, 2008 at 09:04 PM..
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  #3  
Old December 28th, 2008, 09:55 PM
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Default Re: A Few (Really) Good Men: Guide to Ashdod

great stuff... the thing is, Ashdod is in no way in need of a guide, as a lobotomized chimp could win with them ;p

also, the shed are great bodyguards against horrors, although, as you say, not really a normal ashdod option.
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Old December 28th, 2008, 10:18 PM

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Default Re: A Few (Really) Good Men: Guide to Ashdod

Well, if Hinnom gets a guide ("HINNOM EATS EVERYTHING"), Ashdod deserves one too. Although IMHO Ashdod is actually stronger than Hinnom.

-Max
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Old December 28th, 2008, 11:07 PM
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Default Re: A Few (Really) Good Men: Guide to Ashdod

yeah, i was being facetious - it's a nicely comprehensive introduction to the myriad units and possible strats.

Hinnom, at least, isn't so crazy now though, since the nerf. Except late game... it needs a little bit more of the fabled KO +5 bat of nerf on the recruitable SCs... which, coincidently, is Ashdod's major problem as well.
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Old December 29th, 2008, 12:05 AM

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Default Re: A Few (Really) Good Men: Guide to Ashdod

Didn't see it mentioned, but IIRC Maliks have shattered soul (I think 15). Small thing, but it's still a mark against them.

But very good guide, and just because the nation is strong doesn't mean they can be misplayed. And having information about the summons is always nice.
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Old December 29th, 2008, 12:21 AM

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Default Re: A Few (Really) Good Men: Guide to Ashdod

In what way should they be nerfed? Dropping the magic to F1/E1/S1? Raising the gcost?

-Max
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Old December 29th, 2008, 12:22 AM

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Default Re: A Few (Really) Good Men: Guide to Ashdod

Quote:
Originally Posted by alansmithee View Post
Didn't see it mentioned, but IIRC Maliks have shattered soul (I think 15). Small thing, but it's still a mark against them.
Arg, yes they do, I forgot to mention it. I would edit that into the post but the time has expired. Thanks for pointing it out.

-Max

Edit: no wait, it looks like the first post is still editable even though the second one isn't. Weird. I have edited the post accordingly.
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Last edited by MaxWilson; December 29th, 2008 at 12:27 AM..
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Old December 29th, 2008, 04:50 AM
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Default Re: A Few (Really) Good Men: Guide to Ashdod

Quote:
Originally Posted by MaxWilson View Post
Edit: no wait, it looks like the first post is still editable even though the second one isn't. Weird. I have edited the post accordingly.
First posts are an exception to the normal editing limits. It's pretty much required for modding and MP subforums to work as they used to.


Nice guide.
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Old December 29th, 2008, 10:34 AM

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Default Re: A Few (Really) Good Men: Guide to Ashdod

I think you need to put the chayot bug in.

Giving a chayot a ring of wizardry makes all paths from all the forms available.
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