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Old February 19th, 2009, 02:08 PM
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Default MA Oceania - OMG, I think I've done it

[This is a CBM guide]

MA Oceana has a lot of stuff working against it. By any measure it is one of the weakest nations in the game, but for those wanting a challenge (or perhaps playing against opponents significantly less experienced) this does provide an opportunity to play a handicap match. Let’s see what kind of clever nastiness we can pull with both hands tied behind our back. And no, I’m not forging a single clam.

On first glance the Trident Knight looks like a halfway decent sacred unit. He’s not, he’s bait and a big money sink. He’s got two big problems, his encumbrance and his cost. He’s got a whopping 8 encumbrance which means even with a strong earth bless this is not a long haul fighter. He’s got a single moderately good trident attack (with no first strike bonus), so he is not a big damage output. Though he’s tough enough you can’t kill stuff fast enough to stay ahead of encumbrance unless you field him in numbers which aren’t feasible at 100 gold a pop. Totally not worth investing in a blessing.

Fortunately, his cheaper cousin the ichtycentaur is actually pretty darn good, arguably the best thing about MA Oceana. Good defense, hitpoints, speed, a shield and first strike lance, this guy gives you the first part of your ability for a blistering initial expansion. He’s got a low resource cost and can be pumped out basically limited only by gold as long as you don’t go crazy with the sloth scales. Now, his one weakness is that light lance doesn’t deal very high damage after the first strike which is compounded by his size so you’re gonna struggle against very tough opponents or when heavily outnumbered. This is actually MA Oceana’s Achilles heel, the lack of serious damage output is something you’re going to struggle with all game (not to worry, I’m an evil bastard and have you covered). Against indies though you can almost universally run them over by just sending in enough ichtycentaurs – they do hit hard on their first strike and have enough defense to outlast mediocre opposition. Using a pair of sirens works well for large, juicy farmlands with hoards of heavy cavalry along the coast as well. The siren song is actually a pretty descent deterrent you’ll want to sprinkle in the path of anybody fighting on your coast, it’s basically like casing mind hunt which can be extremely effective in the beginning of the game when MR isn’t buffed much. Astral mages don’t provide cover and unlike most assassins bodyguards don’t help so there’s not much that can be done to counter during the early parts of the game other than staying away from the coast. Domes also don’t help, you can pretty effectively harass capitals or research centers along the coast. If there’s friendly water adjacent just set the sirens to retreat and there’s really no risk even if they’re patrolling for you.

Two other units bear mentioning though they’re not going to play central roles in your indy expansion. You’ve got several flavors of heavy infantry, but I look at it this way – the thing you’re struggling with is damage output. This means you really only want to recruit the trident infantry which come in two flavors. You pay a steep premium for the mermidon over the wave warrior, but I think he’s well worth it with 40% more hitpoints, 18 vs 14 protection, a shield, and 2 more strength (this is a big deal for damage output). Basically, whenever you don’t have enough money to spit out ichtycentaurs or are in peacetime and not clearing indies, recruit as many mermidons as resources allow. They do decent damage and will carry you through most things not requiring a serous punch, and with the high resource cost you’ll want to slowly build them up. Once you start slapping wooden warriors on them they get up into the “requiring a serous punch” range themselves. One thing to keep in mind if you do find yourself in an early war with some heavy guys (Abysia, Ulm, etc) with an earth gem one of the earth random mermages can drop rust mist which can be the best gem you ever spent in some circumstances and is an easy research detour if you need it. You can also, in a pinch, use a gem to summon earthpower, and another gem to lay down giant strength. Expensive and annoying micro, but it can sometimes be the extra punch you need to put you over the top.

Finally rounding out your starting lineup is a unit that will probably slip under your radar on first glance, and probably your second glance as well. It’s the cheapest chaff on your roster, the Oceanian Triton. Before your eyes glass over realize this is not the same unit as the indy tritons you can recruit. This guy has 50% more hitpoints, 20% more strength and 1 more MR plus higher attack and morale. That’s a pretty steep increase for a chaff unit at the same price. Now one of our first goto spells with MA Oceana is barkskin/wooden warriors/mass protection, and with that buff these guys start looking like real good chaff. This is the unit which is going to be your goto for fighting R’yleh – with your buffs your chaff is much stronger than theirs and fielded in large numbers with a 12 MR.

Now, the second prong of your initial expansion is probably the second best thing about MA Oceana – underwater nature mages. The reason is because the N1 magic site “Kelp Fortress” is very common. How this should play out is Ichtycentaurs are expanding in every direction while your first several mermages follow behind site searching. Unless you’re unlucky you’ll never have to build a castle, just plop a lab in the kelp fortresses you get, which should be a few in the first year. This gives you a circular feedback, money savings from not building forts get pumped into the low resource ichtycentaurs you’re now pumping out of your free fort giving you an even faster expansion. Even better, you’re fully amphibious so you really can expand in every direction land or sea. Played right this can easily be one of the best openings in the game.

Now, at this point you might be wondering why in the world I led by claiming this is a very weak nation then proceed to lay out a first class opening. Here’s the problem – there’s no obvious place to go from here. Those ictycentaurs which performed so well against indies are going to be absolutely dominated by the elite units from most nations. Sure, you can outchaff people so long as you stay wet, but you just don’t have the damage outlay to punch through even serious heavy infantry much less dual blessed sacreds or mid level summons. Your mermidons have ok damage output, but the real kicker is that you’ve got no effective combat mages to start with, and this is compounded by the absolutely drastic neutering your mages are hit with if they leave the water.

Your capricorns lose one from every path when they leave the water (mermages lose just a level of water magic). This means even the handful of semi useful things you come up with to use your mages for can’t really be done out of the water. You can’t even self-buff magic paths with the exception of the almost completely useless summon water power, meaning all that very nice amphibious initial expansion you just did is pretty much dependent on none of your land neighbors deciding they can easily kick you back into the waves. Adding insult to injury several of the most obvious things you want to cast (falling frost, mother oak, etc) can’t be cast underwater and your mages aren’t strong enough to cast them out of the water! You’ve got a good gold income (from a good expansion), and good nature and water income from aggressively site searching for those kelp fortresses, but nothing obviously useful to spend it on.

Now is time to consider your pretender. My initial thought was to kit out a badass combat pretender to lend some muscle to the fights that you need it. Problem is, I really think this is a bad long term strategy as you’re always just one bad fight from being neutered. A SC pretender can be an important stopgap if you just need a little time to get something else, but you can’t really keep leaning on them once good research is coming online. So, let’s go forward with the assumption that your pretender will help out in a few critical battles, but isn’t going to be central to our battle plans.

This is very good because as much as MA Oceana wants a good SC, what it really needs is a good lab mage. Not a rainbow mind you, a mage to summon and forge specifically what’s needed to plug the holes in your lineup. Now one of the more frustrating things is that you’re really going to need to take N5 on your pretender. This is a painful expense on a nation with such powerful national nature mages, but the reason you need it is to project your nature power onto land (which your national mages suck at). Just bear with me on it, and I’ll show you why it’s justified.

Now, speaking of projecting your power onto land, what do we do since all our national mages are crippled on land? Well, yes we hope for good indie mages, but we're not going to hang our whole strategy on getting lucky. This leaves summoning mages to do the lifting. You’ve got a good water and nature income, so let’s look at what your options are using those gems. Lets look at what something like an awake ghost king with 5A 3S 3D 5N buys us. He’s awake with the intention of doing some initial site searching, so I’m assuming you’ve got at least a small income in all these paths later on.

Llamia queens – Excellent value, for only 15 gems you get into death and blood using nature gems. This is the first thing that justifies you taking N5 on your pretender, there’s no way you’ll be summoning these ladies without it. Once you luck into a double N random one slap a moonvine bracelet and thistle mace on her and she’ll relieve your pretender from summoning more llamia queens, until then this will probably be his default action every turn. There’s several interesting things you can do with the Llamia queens, - mandragoras for instance make a great partner to ictycentaurs, bringing the offense compliment to their defense, dark vines make excellent decoys (more on that in a moment), and there are several demonic options to give you a good damage output but the really important thing they do (aside from eventually getting you bloodstones) is opening up death to you in a big way. As you start building up a good amount of llamia queens hit that death site searching aggressively. Alteration is your first research goal, so these ladies will add some nice sniping potential with drain life, while also bringing darkness to the party for your blossoming undead component. You should eventually land a 2W Llamia queen (or if not, suck it up and empower a 1W one for 30 gems), and with 2 boosters this gets you into…

Streams from Hades – Gives you a W3 D3 mage for 30 gems. This is a decent choice to get a good death caster using your strong water income. With a staff he can lay down drain life and darkness, and with another booster can start summoning lots of fun stuff. A couple particularly nice options are leviathans (great complement for your amphibious troops who struggle outputting damage) and catoblepas (now we’re getting some more good damage outlay!) as well as the more standard undead. You should at this point be a pretty respectable death power.

Hidden in the snow - You really should end up with quite a strong water income, and in CBM this spell is only 50 gems. This will hopefully get your toe into earth and astral as well as giving you good combat casters to heard the undead and demons you’re summoning. This is an expensive spell, but it does give you 1-2 desperately needed land mages and some pretty decent meatshields in the bargain, there’s worse things to spend your water gems on midgame.

Summon Specter – This is probably where a lot of your initial D gems will end up. They’re not the cheapest things in the world, but like the Unfrozen they will get you dabbling into astral and earth, and build up some more land mages for you.

Faerie Court – The fairy queen often sits around in labs by the time she’s summoned, but she’s going to prove an immensely valuable combat mage for MA Oceana. Slapping an air booster on her and….did I mention Alteration was your primary research goal? Granted, you’ve got to get to conj-8 before you get fairy queens but from the moment you get alt-7 your pretender can drop fog warriors (complemented by mass protection). Down the road you’ll be stacking mass flight on which does absolute wonders for things like dark vines and mandragoras (quickened, of course). You’ll also eventually be looking at nice combos with your other mages like gaia’s blessing + wrathful skies + foul vapors + mass regeneration. Ignore their nature paths, these are your air mages and they are immense force multipliers.

Wind ride – Another spell in the conjuration tree to get you more land mages. Once you’ve researched charm and hellbind heart that is. Now your pretender has a different default action every month.

Transformation – Yes, despite the indubitable double take I do classify this as a mage summon. Why? Because with a thistle mace each of your Capricorns can cast it (25% can without a thistle mace) out of the water and…it removes the magic path penalty from leaving the water. Perhaps this is an exploit, but it’d be a cold dude to complain about it given the handicaps Ocean struggles with. Now, this gives you several important things, but it also has some drawbacks. You’ll probably transform into an animal of some kind which has an abysmal MR and very few slots for path boosters. Still, it gives another much needed option for getting viable mages onto land. And here’s the best part – it removes the upkeep cost! This is a *huge* boon on the very expensive 350 gold, non-holy mage for the rock bottom price of 3N gems. This is the holy grail, you’ll want to transform every single one of your mages (pass around thistle maces and moonvine bracelets and even your mermages can cast it), letting you build up pretty sick amounts of mages over time. Note: the thing you transform into is based on the province you’re in, so underwater you’re likely to turn into an aquatic animal like a shark. You’ll want to have some of your mages cast it in the water as well as the land, it’s very likely they won’t be amphibious anymore after you cast it and you’ll want some mages down there to.

Now, I mentioned previously that dark vines make good decoys. Decoys are going to be critical to you for much of the game as you’ve just simultaneously raised your mages hitpoints and decimated their MR for the purpose of fielding them in combat on land. They are going to be prime pickings for astral sniping, so what you’re going to need is to always have plenty of even higher hitpoint low MR decoys around. Dark vines are great for this. Another great option is ice drakes, who you get 3 per pop once your capricorns have access to dragon master. Both these options are cheap enough that you don’t mind several getting popped each fight while still bringing some useful combat skills to the mix. You'll also want to regularly cast howl and/or summon sharks to give those rear astral mages something else to think about.

Also, mind hunt is going to be a particularly viscous landmine if you don’t prepare for it. Fortunately, it takes relatively few stealthy astral specters lurking around to convince most opponents that they're never sure where you’re covered, particularly if you’re clever in baiting some traps to introduce him to the fact you have them. Make sure you invest in some before it becomes a problem, and remember your pretender is a stealthy astral 3 mage out of the box as well.

Alright, now here’s the second reason you got N5 on your pretender – Mother Oak. As you’ve no doubt picked up on by now, alteration is your initial research goal and you’re also going to need a lot of N gems. You’ll very likely be in a position to put up Mother Oak around the beginning of year 2 and it’d be criminal not to do so. You get it up that early along with your aggressive site searching and you should have a couple hundred N gems by the time you want to start mass transforming everybody and then start dropping llamia and fairy queens. Obviously you can’t count on getting and keeping a global and you’re not totally screwed if you don’t get it, but its low hanging fruit in the direction you’re already researching so you’d be a fool not to try.

A couple more things to consider. Your early fighting is going to be helped quite a bit by a quick detour to constr-2 so you can forge ice pebble staffs. Your ichtycentaur have a good defense but fade on the offence after the first strike. Numbness is the perfect complement to this allowing them to wear down the tougher foes as fatigue lets them land numerous critical hits while their ailing adversaries quickly have no chance of overcoming their nice defense score. Just one ice pebble staff is enough to make a significant difference in indie-clearing size squads, while 4-5 can make a drastic difference in early big fights. Make sure to bring along some mermages to cast numbness as well for the really important fights – having 10 guys spamming numbness will cover an amazing number of enemies in the first few rounds of fighting and unless they’re cold immune they better hope they can kill you quite quickly.

Speaking of which, not much *can* kill you terribly quickly. Those ictycentaurs have a defense of 17 (unless you hit them with quickness…which does wonders for their first strike) and once you start dropping wooden warriors (pretty early) they’ve got 15 protection covering their 20 hitpoints….staying power isn’t really an issue for Oceana. When fighting on land stack curse of the desert on as well to make the most of your staying power.

Your pretender brings the following to the table – nature magic gives you mother oak, fairy and lamia queens and by extension Kokythiads and Unfrozen. All of a sudden you’ve got some strength on land! His air magic gives you early access to fog warriors, then air boosters for your fairy queens. His death magic gives you some initial death income to prime the pump for aggressive site searching when the llamias hit the table, leading into being a solid death power. His astral magic gives you moonvine bracelets (so everyone can transform!) and eyes of the void. The void eyes are quite useful because your capricorns will be casting: bone melter, curse of the desert, charm, polymoph (make sure to cast eagle eyes first) while your llamias, kokythiads, and unfrozen and hit the disintegration. Ah god I love the synergy of most of your best stuff snuggling neatly into alteration, you’ll be dropping this stuff pretty early.

Now, rounding the corner into late game you’re going to start feeling that pinch from lacking much astral, but the good news is you should have a pretty decent blood economy and be a very respectable death power, while having enough astral to forge those nice trinkets. Much of the advantage of late game astral lies in its mobility, don’t neglect the tools you have in your arsenal. Faery trod is not always the answer to your dreams, but it is in play a heck of a lot sooner than astral travel and you’re swimming in nature gems. Make the most out of those cloud trapezing fairy queens, and many of your transformed capricorns will be flying and/or stealthy.

It’s hard to overemphasize how important alteration is to Oceana. Every single one of these spells is immensely useful : eagle eyes, numbness, quickness, encase in ice, swarm, bone melter, drain life, wooden warriors, mother oak, frozen heart, darkness, fog warriors, prison of sedna, transformation, mass protection, polymorph, disintegration, quickening. Once you've used your llamia queens to leverage into blood stones, those earth random mermages are now summoning earthpower up to E4 which add lots more nice things under alt, but more importantly the second holy grail for MA Oceana - weapons of sharpness. Once you've got a few guys who can cast that spell (along with strength of giants, and of course all your other buffs) you're now permanently out of the struggling to output damage stage. You can also, of course, add destruction/iron bane in as appropriate.

So let’s recap. Fast initial expansion with ichtycentaur. Fast castling up with free kelp fortresses. Fast research from fast castles. Good water & gem income leveraged into good death and blood income. Solid buffs on solid units supplemented by summons with teeth. Lots of upkeep free mages!

Not a path for the faint of heart, but with a bit of balls this nation’s got some teeth.

Last edited by Baalz; February 23rd, 2009 at 09:11 AM..
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  #2  
Old February 19th, 2009, 02:43 PM
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Default Re: MA Oceana - OMG, I think I've done it

Baalz found a workable MP strategy for MA Oceania?

You deserve a Klondike bar for that.
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Old February 19th, 2009, 03:00 PM

chrispedersen chrispedersen is offline
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Default Re: MA Oceana - OMG, I think I've done it

Baalz,

I generally think you do a good job with guides - but I think you've missed the heart of Oceania. I haven't put all the attention to detail into this that you do - but let me give you my thoughts on Oceania - and perhaps you can develop them.

Death. Death, Death, Death, Death, Death. Can I say Death some more?

Being under water means that you are sheltered from many of the options that people use to remove a global: killing the caster. Many of the spells wont work under water, and most nations will have difficulty entering into water.

So, while I agree that entry to land is difficult for you - make maximum advantage of that by planning to cast spells to take advantage of the corellary - that it is equally difficult for opponents to hit *you*.

Many of your units recuperate. Can you say Burden of Time?
In the same breath, you should be thinking "Death Scales".

In general I completely agree that you need to site search quickly in order to get castles - huge advantage for Oceania.
Plus you need to accomplish the site searching prior to building castles - nothing worse than finding a castle on a square where you've already put one.

You are correct about the lack of damage output. However, nets are an incredibly potent and underappreciated. When you recruit units, alternate nets and non net units - so that when grouped you get even dispersal of both kinds of units.

Nets set defense to zero - allowing that humonguous first strike to hit.

Also as an aside - you have overlooked the benefits of quickness, haste, and friendly currents - which increase the AP of the units and *hence the damage* of lance equipped units.
(I may be wrong on the haste, its not in front of me), yet even so haste at the least give your units better range - and so is still very valuable).

Also consider that you *will* find shamblers - shamblers innately have two attacks so things that increase their strength and or rate of attack scale better for them.

So, where do you go after your initial expansion? Think fortress oceania. Mass undead or mannikens - or X - mass low or no upkeep troops as filler to leverage your troops that *don't* have underwater penalties.

Breakout when you can - and head towards a tartar sauce factory. Which of course dovetails with the nature portion of your plan - Goh! Personally I think you should consider a DxSx pretender (S depending if R. is in the game).

Again its a question of leverage. Your ability to mind hunt underwater makes it more difficult for your opponents to screen with astral mages - and more expensive as they now need underwater equipment.

Plus if you do mindhunt - and they don't have a screening mage - the troops that were reliant on that commander to breath.. die.

So give those ideas a whirl.... and see if you can give them the normal Baalz magic...
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Old February 19th, 2009, 03:28 PM
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Default Re: MA Oceana - OMG, I think I've done it

.....? I thought what I just did was a very decided death slant on Oceana. You've a hard sell to convince me I missed the death angle on them. Your point is I didn't mention burden of time? It's incredibly situational depending on who your adversaries are and who you can afford to piss off, if it's likely to be dispelled, and if you've got pressing needs for your death gems. I try to keep my guides under a certain length so that people will actually read the whole thing, which means I don't go into detail of everything you can do. Yes, I agree that death scales make a whole lot of sense for Oceana, but I didn't really talk about scales at all. Cold-3 also makes a lot of sense for all underwater nations. I think a lot of what you mention is very situational.

I also did, in fact, mention that laying quickness on the centaurs complements their lance nicely. Haste does not affect first strike (it makes you use less AP to move, doesn't give you AP) and friendly currents doesn't make a significant difference.
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Old February 19th, 2009, 03:59 PM

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Default Re: MA Oceana - OMG, I think I've done it



Way to persist! I might actually try them now!
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Old February 19th, 2009, 03:59 PM
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Default Re: MA Oceana - OMG, I think I've done it

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tolkien View Post
Baalz found a workable MP strategy for MA Oceania?

You deserve a Klondike bar for that.
What on earth is a Klondike bar? Gold?
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Old February 19th, 2009, 04:04 PM
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Default Re: MA Oceana - OMG, I think I've done it

I´m dissapointed you leave out bog beasts of your strategy.
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Old February 19th, 2009, 04:06 PM
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Default Re: MA Oceana - OMG, I think I've done it

Fantomen nailed it... no bog beast equals fail.


Just kidding!

Excellent guide as usual.
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Old February 19th, 2009, 04:11 PM
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Default Re: MA Oceana - OMG, I think I've done it

Heh, yeah I actually did cut out an angle which has some good synergy. With this setup you're nicely poised for a couple different undead + poison deployments. Bog beasts mixed in with bone fiends with an optional dash of foul vapors is one of the things I had in mind when I mentioned throwing darkness down on your blossoming undead. Course, poison cloud, dragons breath, etc. works out good to.
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Old February 19th, 2009, 04:22 PM

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Default Re: MA Oceana - OMG, I think I've done it

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.....? I thought what I just did was a very decided death slant on Oceana. You've a hard sell to convince me I missed the death angle on them. Your point is I didn't mention burden of time? It's incredibly situational depending on who your adversaries are and who you can afford to piss off, if it's likely to be dispelled, and if you've got pressing needs for your death gems. I try to keep my guides under a certain length so that people will actually read the whole thing, which means I don't go into detail of everything you can do. Yes, I agree that death scales make a whole lot of sense for Oceana, but I didn't really talk about scales at all. Cold-3 also makes a lot of sense for all underwater nations. I think a lot of what you mention is very situational.

I also did, in fact, mention that laying quickness on the centaurs complements their lance nicely. Haste does not affect first strike (it makes you use less AP to move, doesn't give you AP) and friendly currents doesn't make a significant difference.

First, about the haste, I mentioned adding range *is* still useful. And friendly currents in my opinion is significant.

But, let me flesh out my points a little more. When I said Death, Death, Death, Death Death - I wasn't talking about only burden of time - but what I think a main focus should be.

So here we go with a little expansion.

First, I think you absolutely *should* be clamming. And you will be saving up these pearls for..... Armageddon. Not once, but time after time after time.

Essentially for this strategy you are going to need water, death, astral, and nature. Maelstrom is useful: Opponents don't generally wish to dispel it; it has a rapid return in water gems; and it is useful as a global dispeller (if full) or to occupy a slot.

So if you are going to armageddon........ what do you need to survive such a thing. Well first of all who cares about your population. They're already dead! And you got design points for it.

So what else do you need to do: Well, set up soup kitchens. Ie., cauldrons and wineskins. Which you are well positioned to do with your nature mages and nature income.

Thirdly, you may wish to give your research mages water items to help them survive armageddon - or maybe not. Twiceborn takes care of the problem nicely - as does summoning death mages to start with.

You may wish to consider foul air (iirc) - where each unit that gets wounded gets diseased. It dovetails into the next option to consider:

Sirens. Pretty sucky unit - but they have two very nice features.

If you are going to employ the fortress oceania approach, in the midgame, station sirens. Due to the idiosyncracy of the game engine, opponents *have* to pause next to the shore, before they can invade you. Seduce them If your sirens seduce (whatever) your opponent will never know what troops will be stuck on the shore, as their commander drowned. Adds to the cost of invasion.

Another thing to consider - if you take high death, and add battleshrouds to 4-5 mages - and then used seeking arrows (again either alone or in combination with foul air) you vastly increase the efficacy of seeking arrow.

I think the whole faeirie queen route is sub optimal as it is distracting you from what your real focus: Death. Death by undead. Death by dominion projection. Death by global, death by death summon. Death by Armageddon.

Last edited by chrispedersen; February 19th, 2009 at 04:30 PM..
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