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Old January 14th, 2009, 02:30 PM
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cleveland cleveland is offline
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Default Driver's Ed: A Vanilla Quickstart Companion to Baalz's Helheim Guide

If you haven't read Baalz's excellent guide to Helheim, do it. It's really fantastic.

But along with a few other folks, I had trouble making the expansion portion of this awesome strat work. Even with careful target selection, scripting, and placement, I was losing expansion parties at least 1/2 the time. Not to suggest that Baalz's expansion parties are bad, just that a mere mortal like myself couldn't get them to work with any consistency.

Anywho, after some experimenting, I found a way to more reliably expand that's actually cheaper then what's recommended(!) Further, it works equally well for the Vanilla version of the game as it does for CBM, hence the "Vanilla Quickstart Companion." So first, a few words on the Vanilla pretender selection, then a discussion of expansion parties, then onto the Quickstart.

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If CBM Helheim is a '69 Pontiac GTO, then Vanilla Helheim is a Mack Truck pulling a trailer full of iron ore. Your strength isn't necessarily your power, it's your inertia. You're gonna struggle to get up to speed, belching thick black smoke while your engine strains and the residents of Helheim revolt. But once you hit 5th gear...let's just say, I certainly wouldn't want to be standing in the road with you barreling toward me.

Vanilla requires a completely different pretender, as you won't be able to scratch Baalz's (rimshot!) suggestion. An awake Great Sage with E9N4S2, Dom3, Order3, Sloth3, Cold2, Death3, Luck3, Drain2 gets you that critical major Earth/minor Nature bless while still putting up a respectable 24 research/turn, just keep him away from Magic Duelers. At 24 research/turn, you're exactly 15 turns from the 360 research points needed to open the critical Construction-4.

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Your expansion party is also going to look different (but again, this works equally well with CBM). Instead of 1 Helkarl + 1 Helhirding + some Huskarls, as Baalz suggests, use 1 Dis + 1 Valkyrie (and maybe 1 Serf Warrior when possible).

Since Dis and Valkyries are both fliers, it's MUCH easier to pick your targets, and to survive when the battle starts going south.

Dis also have 2 higher defense than Helkarls, which isn't insignificant when you're relying on defense to keep you alive, rather then protection.

Most importantly, Dis have A1, and can therefore cast Air Shield, neutering the #1 cause of Helkarl loss.

As an added bonus, since the Valkyrie bodyguard (who will stay glued to the Dis's square, just like the Helhirding would with a Helkarl) is only size 2, any arrows/javelins that land in the square will be more likely to target the size 3 Air Shielded Dis.

Placement & Scripting: Plant the Dis and the Valkyrie in the back corner. Set the Valkyrie to Guard Commander, script the Dis with (Blessing)(Air Shield)(hold)(hold)(hold)Attack Rear. If you're bringing a Serf Warrior, put him slightly forward on the other flank on Hold and Attack. He'll draw the enemy out of the way, increasing the chance that the Dis will make it to the leaders.

If the Valkyrie bodyguard dies, which isn't uncommon, resist the urge to send your Dis solo. It's only a 1-turn delay to fly back home for a new bodyguard, then fly back on the offensive.

A note on Dis & encumbrance: Since you'll be flying and casting more spells then before, fatigue will be an issue if you're not careful. Do not attack swamps, which add +2 encumbrance. Do not attack provinces effected by extreme heat/cold dominion (like if you boarder Caelum). A Chest Wound affliction means instant retirement, as does the dreaded Unequaled Obesity heroic trait.

As with most small expansion parties, bypass Barbarians and Heavy Cav. Also avoid Wolf Tribes, as they wield dual daggers, negating your defense advantage. If you can help it, don't attack anything defended by more than 40 troops, as you want to minimize the number of defense DRNs your Dis need to pass. You'll still lose probably 1/3 of the time, but your Dis will usually (50%?) survive to fight another day.

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OK, without further ado, the Quickstart Guide.

Turn 1, recruit 1 Dis, 1 Valkyrie, and queue up a bunch of Serf Warriors. Scout --> Prophet. Helkarl --> Patrol. Ram the taxes up as high as you're comfortable. I'm comfortable at 200%

Turn 2, recruit a Svartalf & a mass of Serf Warriors. Script your Dis/Valkyrie team supported by a Serf Warrior decoy as suggested, and your prophet to (Sermon of Courage)(cast)(cast)(cast)(cast)Cast Spells [this is critical, otherwise he'll rush forward]. Make sure your prophet is far enough from the Dis to avoid any stray arrows. Send this group at the weakest looking indy that'll allow you to immediately recruit a commander.

Turn 3: Same capital recruitment as Turn 1. Same attack strategy as Turn 2, but target a land where you want a fortress. Send your Svartalf to your newly conquered province, where you recruit a commander (and militia, if possible). Give the new Serf Warriors to your Helkarl, who's probably having trouble keeping the rowdy citizens of Helheim under control.

Turn 4: Same capital recruitment as Turn 1. Prophet builds a fortress (or a temple if cash is tight), both Dis parties expand as recommended. New commander goes to capital to take over patrolling duties. Svartalf searches for magic sites.

Turns 5-10: Get that fortress/temple/lab up and running as soon as possible...your newly idle Helkarl will come in handy here. Keep churning our Dis/Valkyrie teams until it's up, then ease back on the capital taxes such that you're clearing 550g per turn; this will go to 1 Svartalf (180g), 1 Helhirding (90g) and 1 Vanjarl (280g). Each Vanjarl is paired with the Helhirding (and a Serf Warrior! I love those guys), who can then operate identically to the Dis/Valkrie team (with decreased mobility). All Svartalfs are dedicated to site searching, though after you amass 15E gems your first E3 makes a Dwarven Hammer.

Turns 10-15: When choice indies are gone, redirect your Vanjarls to blood hunting, as Baalz instructs. Cash flow should be sufficient that you can cut your capital taxes to a reasonable 120% or lower, with any surplus going toward amassing an archer army (i.e. an anti-barbarian army) and scouts. If any elephants start marching your way, make a quick diversion to Alteration-1 for False Fetters and deploy those Vanjarls en mass. If Hinnom starts eating you, head over to Evo-2 for lighting bolt. Palankashas got you down? Blood-2 for Reinvigorated-Sabbath-backed Banish Demon (or Your Favorite Exploit, if you're so inclined).

Turns 15-25: Const-4 is now open...commence Operation Skull Mentor. Alt-3 for Mistform is still your next target, but without CBM, the Shield of Gleaming Gold isn't an option, and your E gems are too valuable to use on Charcoal Shields. But a regenerating Vanjarl with a Flesh Eater scripted for (Blessing)(Air Shield)(Mistform)(hold)(hold)Attack Rear makes a fine thug by himself. If you're really aching for a pseudo-SC, add a Chain Mail of Displacement and Pendant of Luck. When blessed, those Vanjarls are now 25 defense & 21 protection, dealing 27 points of Chest-Wound-Inflicting damage at 17 attack. At zero encumbrance. While mistformed. And regenerating. And lucky.

Turn 25 and beyond: Baalz's guide takes over. Get Cloud Trapeze, land on your most unsuspecting neighbor like a ton of bricks. But stay away from extreme temperatures! Eriu's downfall in Kingmaker is that he didn't account for the fact that both Utgard & Jotunheim are Cold-3 nations. Keep cranking out archers, as they'll be your wall-breaker-downers. NAPs are your worst enemy, avoid them like the plague. Keep your eye on your dominion, and don't hesitate to blood-sacrifice. Write humorous AARs in the game thread.

------------

A final note on Air Svartalfs: In addition to being your Rain-of-Stoners, these guys are going to open up Water and high-level Fire for you, believe it or not.

Consider this: At some point, you're going to empower a Hangdrott to open up those Air boosters. But why stop there? For a scant 30 more Air gems, empower an Air Svartalf, give him a Bag of Winds, Winged Helmet, Earth Boots, and a Blood Stone, for the all-important A4E4...let the Staffs of Elemental Mastery flow.

A SoEM & a Water Bracelet on a Jade Sorceress gives you Robes of the Sea and Naiads. Naiads then give you Water Queens.

A SoEM, a Flaming Skull, and 30F gems gets you a F4 Svartalf, which gets you an Flame Helmets. Flame Helmets then get you Fire Kings and the King of Banefires. Volcanic Eruption spam!

And don't forget: The Air/Earth SoEM comes with an automatic Stoneskin...quite convenient for a Cloud Trapeezing Rain-of-Stoner. Tack on Earth Boots and a Blood Stone, and you've got a teleporting, first-round-petrify-spamming SC killer.

Last edited by cleveland; January 17th, 2009 at 01:23 PM..
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  #2  
Old January 17th, 2009, 09:19 AM
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Default Re: Driver's Ed: A Vanilla Quickstart Companion to Baalz's Helheim Guide

What do you mean by "astral Svartalfs"?? I'd like to have such, but they don't have this path. Or do you mean that you have to empower several of them?
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Old January 17th, 2009, 01:25 PM
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Default Re: Driver's Ed: A Vanilla Quickstart Companion to Baalz's Helheim Guide

Ha! It means that my overly caffeinated brain misinterpreted the "A Svartalfs" note I'd scribbled, thinking "Astral Svartalfs? What the hell did I want to say about those? Sprinkle them around, I guess." Of course, I'd wanted to talk of Air Svartalfs.

I've updated above, sorry for the confusion. Let this be a lesson: reality-check your work!
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Old January 17th, 2009, 04:37 PM
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Default Re: Driver's Ed: A Vanilla Quickstart Companion to Baalz's Helheim Guide

Hmmmm, I wonder if some sort of mutant beast with gasoline for blood could be created by merging the two versions of the strategy. O.O
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Old January 17th, 2009, 05:59 PM
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Default Re: Driver's Ed: A Vanilla Quickstart Companion to Baalz's Helheim Guide

Thanks. This is neat idea. I empowered fire one to get to F4 (with Skull). Water I had on my Pretender, then on some independents (enchantress?).
Another question: why not use Great Enchantress as Pretender? She would be cheaper to get E9 and generates free gems... Lower research, but not by much (right now I made her at same scales, with 1s in each path, N3 S2 E9).
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Old January 17th, 2009, 06:23 PM
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Default Re: Driver's Ed: A Vanilla Quickstart Companion to Baalz's Helheim Guide

I think it's pretty important for the reliable functioning of the strat, if that's at N4 for the bless. Other than that? < shrug >
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Old January 17th, 2009, 07:17 PM

thejeff thejeff is offline
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Default Re: Driver's Ed: A Vanilla Quickstart Companion to Baalz's Helheim Guide

I haven't actually tried this version, and only the first few turns of Baalz's, but I'm looking forward to it.

Mostly because I've always really liked the Disir and the Valkyries and wanted to play the nation based more around them, but the Helhirdings were always more effective.
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Old January 20th, 2009, 04:20 PM

TheDemon TheDemon is offline
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Default Re: Driver's Ed: A Vanilla Quickstart Companion to Baalz's Helheim Guide

I just want to say that I find this variation (Dis and Valks) to be twice as effective in both CBM and vanilla than the Helkarl + Helhirdling strat and a lot more versatile with the flying. One problem I still have is building enough death gem income as death sites really aren't that common and I tend to play more crowded games, but only a minor complaint.
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Old April 25th, 2009, 12:58 PM

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Default Re: Driver's Ed: A Vanilla Quickstart Companion to Baalz's Helheim Guide

This is a fine supplement to Baalz post. I tried the variation with a Great Enchantress. I don't think it works as well as the Great Sage. You definitely need 4 nature to get the regeneration bless. Then you wind up with 9E 1S and 4N. You are then constrained for design points.

In both strategies I don't like the heavy death scales. I used a order1, sloth2, cold 1, growth 1, luck 1, drain 2. With this, the income constraints are less, and once you start meeting real armies, you need more than a Vanjarl and a Hlekarl.
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