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Old April 21st, 2009, 09:08 PM

Dragar Dragar is offline
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Post MA Abysia - Devilicious

Overview
I’ve played Abysia quite a lot in my Dominions career to date, and have used a range of strats ranging from imprisoned pretenders for strong blesses to awake rainbows to provide early research (charge to constr 6 for lanterns) and magical diversity.

Those strategies can be pretty good for EA and LA Abysia, but don’t really do it for MA. MA is worse in a lot of ways; the sacred troops are awful, no funky assassins, missing the awesome Anointed from EA and the death magic from LA

What they do have are flying holy 2 B2F2 demon commanders with 90 leadership. Decent research, evocs potential, blood hunting, mobility. Sabbath potential for fire/banish/smite. They aren’t great combatants due to poor precision and not being very durable, so how to use them effectively and cover Abysia’s major flaw, which is a chronic lack of mobility on the strategic map and battlefield?

My solution, in short, is devils. Devils generated from soul contracts - free recruit, no upkeep, flying, fire resistant, high MR, high morale, poison and trident attacking with good hit points. Devils which can be carried by your lovely demonbreds. An awesome raiding force, from the least mobile nation.

Cast Blood Lust and Blood Rain (only req Blood 4 in CBM) and you now have 18 strength devils on very high morale fighting some very scared opponents. With a trident that is 25 damage, there aren’t a lot of thugs that won’t be worried by a swarm of those coming at them with two attacks each (tail), and a 14 base attack score. The heat aura from demonbreds will kill blood slaves, so no point carrying too many, but its easy enough to replenish with a turn’s blood hunting in a lot of provs, so it’s not too big a problem.

In pitched battles devils combine beautifully with fire evocs in a way no other blood nation can hope to duplicate, and are perfect for hitting the rear forces of mages and archers which take your infantry so long to reach. You can also use them to guard any flying thugs you use. Be careful with blood rain in a battle with your infantry, you don’t want to send them packing.

The key is to get soul contracts going as quickly as possible, while still maintaining reasonable expansion. This is the best I could come up with to date. It can be done a little faster with an awake pretender, but I recommend dormant.

Note: all tests done on CBM, using standard settings. Research setting in particular would change the strat (see below)

Pretender
Asleep Fountain of Blood – high dominion, best blood producer, cheap, thematic.

E4S4B6 - Empower to Fire 1 first turn awake, worth the 50 fire to save 40 design points IMO. B6F1 lets you forge soul contracts off the cuff. Earth adds bloodstone capacity, increased to 4 for the reinvig buff, hammers, later summons/items/enchantments. S3 is required for teleport, it’s a small step to S4 for the bless and capacity to forge rings later. Combines well with blood at the higher levels also.

Scales – O3H3G3T1M1. Don’t need a heap of cash, but it never hurts, especially to get your research and fire power up. Your PD is always worth investing in. You have next to no use for most gem types, so luck isn’t highly beneficial, and your PD can handle barbs. Growth to keep your mages healthy and cover blood hunting, M1 as par. No production because you are not relying on your heavy infantry, but prefer no sloth either. In the early game you can build enough humanbreds for expansion anyway, and their mobility (move 2) makes them superior as reinforcements. They have tower shields and are fire resistant, which are the main requirements for abysian infantry once you have some decent fire magic to throw around. Feel free to mix in the heavier infantry as required, of course, particularly against higher protection opponents, or when you can produce them close to your battle front. It doesn’t hurt to build the sacred lava warriors, they aren’t particularly good and your bless isn’t great for them, but they are still pretty tough and their upkeep ends up being the same as abysian infantry, which they are much better than, especially with the minor earth bless.

Dominion – 9. Don’t really need it so high, but with a base 4 it’s cheap, and you really want heat spreading - it makes a massive difference, even in indy expansion. Dom kill is possible given you have recruitable H3s and can blood sacrifice. Global warming is in this year 

Sample beginning:
Turn 1
• Starting assassin becomes prophet
• Build warlock and as many humanbreds/lava warriors as you can
• If you’re feeling lucky send your starting army out with your commander, he’ll normally win. Sucks to be you if he doesn’t though!

Turn 2-7 (approx)
• Recruit demonbreds each turn, have them research except for ferrying troops or further expansion parties, will depend on attrition. Possibly get some warlocks until you get one with earth, who then goes site searching.
• Assassin assassinates indy commanders using smite, allowing any army to just walk in, or just takes a turn to attack the province himself. I love this against elephant provinces that I don’t want to attack with a normal army.
• Warlock searches for astral sites. As soon as you have 2 income send him home to research, you just want to support arcane probing.
• Cast augury monthly once you hit thaum 2

Turn 8 - 10
• Thaum 3 should be researched, switch to construction, which should complete to lvl 2 by turn 10
• Everything else as before. Around this time you should be getting a second fort set up, to be used for more infantry and anathemant salamanders/dragons

Turn 11-13
• When FoB appears, empower to F1, then teleport to a suitable blood hunting site, manual site search 1 turn (optional), and then get him blood hunting
• Constr 2 completes, switch to evoc
• Once you have evoc 2 start arcane probing
• Set a bunch of demonbreds, probably 4, to blood hunting where suitable. Research will slow for a bit, but you should have a second fort giving you mages, with more on the way
• Whenever you exceed 65 blood slaves forge a soul contract with your FoB, place it on a demonbred. Otherwise he is hunting, unless you fluke/trade some earth gems, in which case bloodstones are go. You should be forging one contract every 2 turns or so
• Don’t use the devils at this stage except in emergency, let them accumulate. I start using them in lots of about 20.

At this stage you are starting to motor along, accumulating devils, putting up forts and therefore grabbing lots of juicy Fire 3 Holy 3 spellcasters and replenishing humanbreds, whose attrition rate will be high. Use indy commanders for transport. You can start using mages for combat if need be, but research is a priority if your troops can manage without you. Expansion will have been moderate, but you are an unlikely target for attack due to your reputation as being strong early, your heat domain and the fact that you should be middling for size, income and research. No-one likes fighting abysia at home until they can protect from fire, which typically means thug stage. Your upkeep is very low, so your spending power is greater than the charts show. The question is what to do now, there are I think 4 main options.

Fire Away
Research some more evocation, at least to 5 for falling fires. Send your humanbreds out with a swag of mages to burn your way through. Send in demonbreds with devils as raiders and as support in battles against mages/archers (or even just to take out enemy commanders). Try and burn through an opponent or two, though probably just one before others can react and find a way to deal with your fire. You have the option of going for alteration for a few levels and using warlocks/apprentices for luck & body ethereal. Very handy on your troops, depends if you are relying on them or your fire mages for damage. If you run into fire resistance it hurts, but you have options through your devils, smite and blood magic.

Construct
Make peace with your neighbours and plough through to construction 6 to get lightless lanterns and expand your research. Boots of youth keep key warlocks safe. Along the way train some warlocks and try and get into earth in a substantial way. All you really need is to be able to cast gnome lore, and to get a bloodstone economy going. You can use your pretender to help out. You can also likely get a warlock with a fire pick to forge your soul contracts with a few boosters, freeing up your FoB for hunting and other rituals. A few assassins with Rods of the Phoenix will keep some troublemakers at bay if you have fire gems to spare. Construction sets you up for golems too (and hopefully weapons of sharpness), an excellent thug for you, being mobile and fire resistant.

Blood
Who needs money when you are producing swarms of free troops? What point pouring all your gems into lanterns when you can only use astral, fire and blood anyway? Once you have your basic evoc put it on hold to crank up the blood path, and set lots of demonbreds to blood hunting. Your FoB can cast a lot of the uniques. Add +4 strength to your devils. Add a booster and those demonbreds can Life for a Life, or Leech with no help at all. Horrors are your toys. Demonbred sabbaths can lay down huge damage. Astral Corruption? Yes please! You REALLY want Father Illearth.

How far and how early you go with Blood depends to some extent on who else is in the game. If there is no major opposition for the unique blood summons rushing that way could really open up the game for you, if up against mictlan perhaps keep it to Blood 4 or 5 until later and focus on evocation.

Mixed
Avoid going too deep down one path, pick the sweet bits, getting utility faster than by specialising, and take out an opponent early. Evoc to 3 for fireball, conj 3 for phoenix power, alt 3 for body ethereal (salamanders become viable). Use your fire gems for items for indy commanders, greatly adding to your firepower. You have particular capacity to gear up your assassins.

My recommendations:
• If you can keep the peace and no-one is running away with it, go with construct to 6, then start levelling blood/evoc in parallel. Evocs will be your workhorse early, but diversification and thuggification will come through blood. Play this by ear as to what you need
• If war is imminent, Fire Away, then head to construct.
• Use high level demons and/or golems as thugs as early as possible

Risks
Naturally, there are some major risks to this strat.

Slow start. You don’t really begin seeing the benefits of your devil accumulation until year 3, which is kinda late. You should have enough deterrent however to survive until then, especially if you leverage abysia’s reputation as a strong starter to sign some treaties. I haven’t found a way to get very good expansion early however. There is the CBM Call Horror capacity that has been documented in another MA Abysia guide. I’ve found it a little unreliable and risky, but it will do the job if you pick your targets wisely.

You are extremely undiversified. Three magic types. You can go to conj 5 for acashic, but it’s cumbersome and expensive. Blood/astral give you a fair bit of flexibility anyway, and this strategy will probably work best by getting blood-buffed hordes of devils on the rampage as quickly as possible – don’t waste resources side-tracking early. You will get other gem income through conquest. The only real effort needs to be towards earth, which you need. Get an earth warlock or two as quickly as possible, manual search and once you have the gems forge a bloodstone with your pretender and get gnome loring. Your biggest chance for late game diversification will be through the unique blood summons, so size up early on whether you are likely to have much competition for them, so you know if you have to race there, can take your time, or had better not bother.

Fire resistance takes away a lot of your power. If troops have it you’re in for a world of hurt. If it’s on thugs, work quickly to stop them – astral/blood spells give you a lot of options.

Apart from banish, which isn’t too much of a worry as your devils have high MR, there are a heap of cheap anti-demon items thugs can use against you. Be wary, and make sure you have some non-demon options to handle it.

Destruction/rust – yeah that sucks on your recruitable troops. Your devils are ok though, so use them to fight off that tactic, either as complete armies or by taking out enemy mages early in combat.

Air magic – this is always painful for abysia. Thunderstrikes don’t care about armour. Your troops are slow. Devils can’t fly in a storm. At least you can raid using them, they are great against air mages if storm isn’t up. You can’t effectively protect your troops except with chaff, use humanbreds if anything. Your mages you can protect with either air or earth items, then use whichever spells you can. Wide area and battlefield enchantments are best. I forget the name but there is a blood spell that lets you charm commanders – if you can land a good air mage make a run for shock protection spells! Your best bet though is either to make peace with air nations or form alliances to take them out as soon as possible – you have a decent chance early on before thunderstrike spam is viable.

Options/Bonuses
• Through indies or trading, get some air capacity. Adding eyes of aiming to your anathemants is huge, and flight to your warlocks (and assassins) is almost as good. Nature is worthwhile too, rings regen to keep diseased mages alive and reinvig items to keep your best mages firing

• Push dominion through temples, preaching and/or sacrifice. If you can get heat into enemy lands you will make your battles much easier while screwing their economy

• If you can somehow get into death, the benefits of casting Darkness are pretty obvious. It would take a fair bit of luck or trading for death gems to accomplish this, certainly a lot of time, but if the opportunity arises it could be the game winner. Once you have your first vampire count it becomes a lot easier, you just have to get there. Apart from darkness he is a great blood hunter – no risk of losing him to raiders, whereas loss of a warlock or demonbred is severe. Not that a vampire lord with blood slaves scripted with life for a life is an easy target! Trading for skull staff and skullface and getting 80 death gems for empowerment are your mission! Alternately wait for Heliophagi or Demon Lords, some of them have death.

FoB as a combatant
Although you are choosing him for price, cheap dominion, blood hunting and specific forgings, with the ability to teleport the FoB isn’t a bad surprise combatant once you reach the point where he is a bit more dispensible. In particular due to his earth magic, for weapons of sharpness, iron bane (with devil armies) and other fun spells.

Difficult Research
Many games recently have the research setting at difficult, and I would approach this strategy slightly differently

Option 1
Same pretender build, ignore thaumaturgy first up and go straight to constr 2. As soon as you have constr 2 get demonbreds out blood hunting in numbers. When he awakens your FoB sits at home either forging soul contracts or researching – you can’t afford 3 research levels for the luxury of his blood hunting every second turn, and while augury is great to have early it isn’t essential.

With any mages you have not blood hunting start researching blood straight away. You want to have demonbreds leading raiding parties of 20 or so devils and casting blood lust and blood rain, which requires Blood 4 (CBM). They pack a huge punch at 18 strength, will probably resist the morale drop and still be at 25 if they fail! That is a very effective and mobile army, especially considering you are producing the troops automatically.

Blood rain has a blood 3 caster requirement, so to make it easier move to constr 4 straight afterwards for blood boosters, and also to give you SDRs. If you are able to go for the throat of an opponent, move to evoc now. Otherwise consider going to constr 6 to get your research jumping. Get thaum to 3 when you are able to better utilise your FoB.

Option 2
As per 1, however given that you won’t be utilising your astral in the early stages, forget about taking S4, and condemn your pretender to stay put all game.

This lets you improve your scales, or take a different magic path to lvl 4… seeing as the only sacreds you are using are fire mages, death is probably optimal, and this also gives you vampire counts. To be fair this is a valid strategy under normal research, I might try it next! The loss of mobility is offset by the ease of getting into death, and a D4 bless is superior to S4 for abysia. I’d make blood an even greater priority with this setup to get your first vampire count going.

Last edited by Dragar; April 25th, 2009 at 12:42 PM.. Reason: Adjusted starting scales
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  #2  
Old April 22nd, 2009, 01:31 AM
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AdmiralZhao AdmiralZhao is offline
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Default Re: MA Abysia - Devilicious

Nice!
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Old April 22nd, 2009, 01:55 AM
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Default Re: MA Abysia - Devilicious

Very detailed guide, and nice reading.
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Old April 22nd, 2009, 03:22 AM
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JimMorrison JimMorrison is offline
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Default Re: MA Abysia - Devilicious

The E4/S4/B6 FoB is a very potent pretender chassis for Blood nations, I've found - but for some reason hadn't tried it with Abysia yet. This looks fun, I like the way you think.

Personally I would make the first few Bloodstones (until Illearth can take over making them) more of a priority before starting the contracts. It will only mean a few Devils either way, but if you can get the E gems to start, that is a payoff that will ramp up more quickly. Abysia has a really fun toy to spend extra E gems on.
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Old April 22nd, 2009, 04:42 AM

Dragar Dragar is offline
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Default Re: MA Abysia - Devilicious

You can use warlocks for forging bloodstones very easily, I only use the FoB for the first. An E random with one bloodstone has the paths. Agreed, as soon as you have the earth you forge a bloodstone, the blood isn't really an issue in that context, the earth gems are.
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Old April 22nd, 2009, 02:09 PM
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Default Re: MA Abysia - Devilicious

AH right right. I suppose all I was really saying was that right at first, on any given turn that you have enough to forge a Contract, but not both a Contract and a Blood Stone, I'd do the Stone.
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Old April 25th, 2009, 11:38 AM
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DonCorazon DonCorazon is offline
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Default Re: MA Abysia - Devilicious

Dragar, cool guide. You kind of allude to it but just curious after having fought a bitter war against MA Abyssia in an MP game, wondering how effective is a blood sacrificing dom push, vamp raider strategy? Luckily I had some assets that helped me pull off a victory before it got to that point, but it felt like it could have gone the other way if the MA Abysia player had a few more turns to get the vamps rolling out.
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Old April 25th, 2009, 11:56 AM

Dragar Dragar is offline
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Default Re: MA Abysia - Devilicious

I've never had the opportunity to try it yet, only just reaching vampire count point in my first MP game using this strat.

In the late game you'd need a lot of effort to push dominion out quickly, and blood always seems in short supply - to be honest I see the vamps there primarily as an adjunct to your armies for casting Darkness, and secondly as defenders and blood hunters. You have ample flying demobreds and unique demon summons to go on the offensive, and vamps aren't the best with the heavy fire evocs you want to be laying down.

As it is your first couple will probably be remote searching death, and it's worth empowering one with fire to start churning out skulls of fire. At their high cost the only way i see getting heaps of them as possible is if somoene beats you to all of the unique blood summons and vamps and soul contracts are where you pour most of your blood into - I must say a good fall back option.
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Old April 25th, 2009, 12:35 PM
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Default Re: MA Abysia - Devilicious

Hmmm...I'd be curious to hear Valerius's opinion on this (if he's reading ) since he was the player I alluded to playing MA Abysia. I was quickly finding my border provinces going up to 7-9 black candles and a few raider vamp lords skelly spamming made short work of my interior defenses in the raids that occurred along with Black hearted-vamp assassins. Like anything, there are counters and in this game as I mentioned I had some lucky sites and advantages, but it seemed like an interesting way to play Aby that might have overwhelmed me had it gone on longer or perhaps been the focal point of the strategy at the inception of the game (my sense was it was more of a strategy shift mid-game).
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Old April 25th, 2009, 02:00 PM

Valerius Valerius is offline
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Default Re: MA Abysia - Devilicious

I really like taking a strong dominion with MA Abysia - combined with recruitable H3s for blood sacrificing it lets you control dominion better than anyone except Mictlan once they get into blood. I was hoping to use a dominion push as an offensive weapon for vampires but it's also nice to be able to reduce the effects of an opponent's GoH or hostile dominion like C'tis' miasma.

But I agree with Dragar that blood does seem to be in short supply - and I chose a scales strategy so I was able to devote a lot of provinces to blood hunting. I didn't find the blood sacrificing to be too much of a burden but the vampires themselves are expensive. Most of my vampire lords were summoned before I started summoning heliophagi and demon lords. I think the return on investment would be a lot better in CBM. Base game I think I would have been better off forging soul contracts.

DC is right that I never reached the number of vampire lords (or vampires as reusable troops) I was looking for in order to implement the strategy but they're so expensive...
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