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Old April 28th, 2009, 02:26 AM
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Default LA Pangea - a rotten way to go green

[This is a CBM guide, CBM has a significant impact on LA Pangea by dropping Carrion Woods to be a 0 research spell and buffing it somewhat to give a gem income]

LA Pangea is an interesting nation in that it has a defining global spell which can be used or ignored and it drastically alters the way the nation plays. In maximizing your potential for Carrion Woods you’re working at cross purpose to maximizing your other national strengths so classically you’d want to go one way or the other. CBM drops Carrion Woods down to be a 0 research spell, which means you can put it up as soon as you get the gems - assuming your pretender has the paths. However, LA Pagnea has several nice units and could certainly be played as more of a standard nation by ignoring Carrion Woods. I don’t like to put all my eggs in one basket by being totally reliant on keeping a global up, but I also don’t like ignoring a large national advantage, so this is a hybrid strategy attempting to take the best of both worlds.

First, putting the spell up. The most obvious thing is have your pretender built to put it up as soon as you have the gems. This is the only reasonable choice if you want to put Carrion Woods up as soon as possible, but keep in mind this does come with a cost. One thing Pagnea really struggles with is magic diversity, and taking a pretender strong in paths you’ve already got, while also needing growth-3, a strong dominion, and not being imprisoned will give you not many points to spread around. Another way that you can go, if you’re a bit more of a gambling man is to take astral on your pretender and try to scrape up some pearls on your way to const-6. A Pandemic with a ring of sorcery, ring of wizardry, thistle mace & skull helm can put up Carrion Woods, and without needing to do any research for it other than const-6 this is still doable on the early side.

I’m kind of on the fence as to which way to go, there are big advantages either way. If you do go the astral route, you’re in a much better position…*if* you can get to constr-6 in good shape with the pearls you need after alchemization and trading. Those boosters will be passed out and put to good use after the spell goes up and an astral pretender opens all kinds of doors to Pangea. On the other hand though, putting Carrion Woods up earlier and not having to hope you can scrape up a decent amount of pearls will get you much better initial momentum while also leaving no need to research to constr-6 early. For the astral route, with needing that forging on modest pearls a forge lord leaps right out begging to be picked, though he’s darn expensive and you can also get a lot of mileage out of an oracle or a great enchantress. For the non-astral route you’ve got several reasonable choices, try to squeeze a tiny bit of magic diversity in if you can.

Regardless of how you build your pretender, a couple things are going to be constant. One, you need a growth-3 scale, your growth scale strongly influences the rate vine critters are generated and the extra income over time helps a lot since your dominion will slowly kill your population. Two, you want a strong dominion score, your dominion strength also impacts your critter creation as well as spreading to it to more provinces. Finally, contrary to your first inclination *don’t* take mostly crappy scales – sloth in particular! Despite focusing this build on Carrion Woods we’re not going to be putting all our eggs in that basket. Pangea has solid national troops and you’re leaving money on the table if you ignore them. There are lots of counters to masses of low protection undead hoards – and mostly those are all completely ignored by a large amount of well buffed heavy cavalry (centaur cataphracts). Hasted minotaurs will handily trample straight through those castle gates your opponent was hoping to bottleneck you at for banish spam while stealthy raiding squads hamstring and keep the enemy reinforcements disorganized. LA Pangea is not LA Ermor, you can’t (successfully) play them as just a neverending wave of bodies, you’ve got to use all the tools in your arsenal. So, take growth-3 but maybe a 7 dominion instead of 10, and a sleeping pretender rather than an awake one - remember you’re trying for a balancing act. You’ll get less vine critters than if you massively optimized for critter creation, but you’ll maintain much more strategic flexibility. With your freespawn troops, summoned mages, and eventual mass tranformations I’m inclined to go turmoil/luck here, particularly if you need to scrape up pearls for an astral pretender.

With decent production scales your initial expansion is going to be fairly easy. For your initial expansion forces think of an axe and a shield. Your shield is dryad hoplites – just a handful in the front row will soak up everything from cavalry charges to crossbows. Their spears, however, generally won’t do much in the heavily armored LA, so the axe is a squad of minotaurs set slightly back and to the side. You’ll catch the attacks on your shield, then the axe swings in and clobbers. Very roughly, aim to have an expansion party going out every other turn with around 6 hoplites and 10 minotaurs, you’ll cut through most indies pretty easily giving you a fairly fast opening. Despite the fact those hoplites are holy don’t send dryad mages to lead them, bring in indie commanders. You need those ladies at home researching, something which you’re going to struggle with quite a bit. Your hoplites will do more than fine without a blessing.

As you’re expanding send out a couple pans of both varieties to site search. You need nature gems, earth gems and death gems…and low and behold that’s what they net you. These guys are extremely expensive - don’t sacrifice your expansion recruiting to get them. Fortunately your dryads are extremely cheap and your units not ruinously expensive, so you can generally save up and get one every few turns from quite early. The down side is that your already weak research is going to suck even more air initially as potential research mages hit the pavement looking for gems. That’s ok, your shield and axe technique will expand to include a lance (centaurs cataphracts) and can generally carry you through early fighting with no magic support even if you start sparring early with another player. Aren’t you glad I convinced you to take decent production scales? Centaur cataphracts are actually a staple troop through the whole game, they take over the “shield” role for your army, working as very effective archer screens for your 0 protection vine critters with the bonus that they pack a significant punch themselves. Properly deployed they’ll get targeted by ‘fire cavalry’ ‘fire closest’ and ‘fire large enemy monsters’ (pull out all the vine critters with more than 20 hitpoints when expecting significant archer fire), while being plenty tough enough to stand toe to toe with most of the stuff they’ll find on the front line until the vine critters come in for the kill.

After you’ve got a few Pans out site searching stop recruiting those money sinks and focus on just cheap dryads and getting another castle or two up. Those dryads plugging away (in magic-1 scales) will eventually make it to constr-4 about the time your sleeping pretender awakes, or perhaps a tad after. If your pretender is set up to cast CW he should be able to do it as soon as he wakes up because of all those N3 site searchers you’ve had going around, which gives you in addition to vine critters extra D income. That D income, along with whatever your pandemics have scraped up along with E for hammers means skull mentors. If you went the astral pretender route you’re going to want to keep plugging away at construction research to 6. While you’re getting there leverage the construction you’ve got researched to start lining up the pearls you need. Plenty of people will be very happy to trade you straight pearls for dwarven hammers, thistle maces, earth boots, & skull staffs.

Before CW even goes up you’re going to want to start preparing for it by putting up temples. Besides the obvious thing that you want to push your strong dominion everywhere you also want to pay special attention to putting temples in forest provinces as they unlock the more powerful vine critters. One of Pangea’s national strengths is 200 gold temples, so you should really aim to have a temple in every province if you’re not fearing imminent raiding - start with the forests though. Once you get established with good critter generation all over you’re not really going to need to worry too much about raiders popping your temples, mostly only real armies or specially kitted SCs can threaten a big group of vine critters with a few arrow screens (PD).

When you’re done with construction research (at 4 or 6 depending on which pretender you went with) and have CW up, after a brief pit stop to pick up enchantment-1 you’re going to be hitting alteration research hard. The enchantment pit stop was so you can start cranking out vine centaurs who pull double duty in reanimating free units and herding all your undead swarms. As your nation matures you’ll probably start relying on mound kings to be your run-of-the-mill troop herders leaving your centaurs free to just reanimate, but at this point you’ll want to dump every D gem possible into skull mentors to make up a bit of lost ground. Having a corps of vine centaurs allows you to start putting all those vine critters to immediate use while planning on rotating them back to reanimation duty later. This reanimation should not be ignored even though your dominion is doing a similar duty, with your strong nature income you can quite easily build up scores of reanimators – which makes a significant contribution even in the face of Carrion Woods.

Also, another important thing to consider is that all those vine critters dissolve with no undead leadership – and your PD doesn’t provide any. A clever enemy can cause a lot of damage raiding and killing all your leaderless undead (though harpies help, make sure you have 5+ PD all over so that mere scouts can’t pop hundreds of your critters). For this reason it’s a worthwhile investment to stick undead leaders all over at least your border, preferably every province. This isn’t as expensive as it sounds, your carrion centaurs can reanimate anywhere and mound kings are only 3D. Even better, the alteration spell Arouse Hunger gives you a cheap (2 D) way to remotely insert an undead leader anywhere you expect to be attacked. Keep a couple skull staffs handy around the lab for emergencies, but the best investment is to just steadily plop carrion centaurs in every province. Bonus – you can rapidly assemble huge groups wherever you want with no previous notice. You can pull a *lot* of vine critters in with a map move 3 to the staging area where you just summoned several mound kings, then send your centaurs back for reanimation/guard duty. Double bonus, you can on a whim decide to attack every province you border with a largish force with no previous preparation.

Now, for the main attraction - alteration research holds many wondrous things for CW Pangea. All your first string spells are in alteration, and I’d love to be able to focus on nothing else, but your second string spells are too juicy to ignore. I can’t think of any other case in Dominions where there are so many game changing spells all lined up conveniently in one path. Army of lead, obviously, is our end goal and once you get it, it is the closest thing to a silver bullet in this game. Not one, not two, but dozens (plural dozens!) of several hundred strong vine critter armies all buffed by army of lead spreading in every direction. Pan casters are recruited out of every castle – you’re pretty much only limited by gems literally used in the casting each turn (we’ll get to that in a minute, but you should have blood stones for everyone who wants one). Before we get ahead of ourselves though, let’s examine the delectable appetizers on the way up the alterations buffet.

The first critical target is Mother Oak. Controlling the Mother Oak is of immense strategic importance for CW for a bit of a convoluted reason: it will keep your Carrion Woods from being dispelled. Look at it this way, you’re putting CW up very early, early enough that it’s unlikely that anyone has the research, pearls, mage, and inclination to dispel it even if you’re in a war. That is not going to be true of the next war you’re in (or the one after that perhaps). Relatively shortly after having put up CW you want to follow it with the Mother Oak, leveraging your CW-boosted solid nature income to overcast it if necessary (if somebody beat you to it they didn’t put too many gems into it). Even if you’re not overcastting the Mother Oak it’s a good idea to dump extra gems into it because it’s your first line of defense – it’s unlikely anyone will try to dispel CW without first trying to take down the Mother Oak. With those two globals up (and having site searched everything with N3 mages) you will have a ridiculously large nature income. You want to pick a large number which you plan to spend re-casting either of those globals if they go down and stockpile that many gems. Always keep them on hand – you need to be always ready to recast them in a powerful way the turn they go down. This is for psychological reasons as much as any other, if you take many turns to put it back up it’ll encourage another dispel attempt as your enemy knows you were scraping the bottom of the barrel to cast it. Spend half a year or a year or whatever you pick (I’m, of course, not going to state a specific number for this guide) just stockpiling your 30+ N gem income while you ignore it and shuffle vine critters around, your position is immensely stronger with all those unspent gems. There’s not many better uses you can put them to than a giant insurance policy on your most important assets.

If you’re in a big, high powered game and you’re big enough that you expect other players to pool gems for a dispel you may want to consider saving up all the way for a 999 gem casting – it isn’t as daunting as it sounds *while* you have those two gem generating globals up (and a presumably large nation, well site searched). It will be virtually impossible to do if they get dispelled though, so keep that in mind. One handy tip, you can overcast your own spell without anybody knowing it, which can be a fun thing for those pesky dispellers to figure out – “well, he put the spell up in early year two, how many gems could he possibly have put in?!?” They can waste a lot of gems casting a 50 gem dispel, then another 100 gem one after you quietly pumped your “year two” global with 200 gems. There are lots of tempting things to spend that N income on, but never forget that your top focus should always be on playing the global game with this nation. The nice thing is you’ve got plenty of teeth without spending a single N gem tactically, so you should only spend “extra” gems not needed for your global game. Don’t think of those gems as wasted, think of them as paying for the vine critters you’re putting to deadly use. If you can successfully keep both those globals up for most of the game you’ll have plenty of N to spend despite your big spending in this area.

Once you’ve got the mother oak up you’ve got a couple good options on where to bend your research depending on how quickly you expect to be in earnest combat. If you push through a couple more levels in alteration you will be a beast in combat – adding mass protection, darkness, and destruction/iron bane to your swarms of undead. Iron bane deserves special consideration because it turns an almost worthless member of your roster – harpies, into a force which your enemies will dread. After you drop a strength of giants on them each of those ladies is hitting twice for 12 damage, meaning on average they’ll fly in, hit a human once to destroy his armor (including his shield!) then a second time to kill him. Against any real force they’re only going to get one round of attacking in before taking drastic casualties and fleeing, but my what at round it is! Consider them kamikaze troops which are free with your PD, or only 7 gold apiece to bring around with you (they’re stealthy, so you can easily save them until you want to use them). Once you start dropping those other battlefield enchantments (mass protection, etc) add a sermon of courage, and group them with some high morale troops (minotaurs are great for this, you were sending them in to attack anyway, right?) they might even give you a couple rounds of fighting. Who wants to run forward to fight centaur cataphracts through blade wind spam while naked? Now here’s the bonus part – after being pummeled by this repeatedly many opponents will start bringing storms to the big fights. That’s perfect! Between storms (from them) and darkness (from you) there’s precious few spells they can drop effectively on your vine critters and you can forget about taking any damage from archers.

If you’re not itching for a fight, switching to conjuration will nab you llamia queens, which give you a massive boost. Blood (blood stones are important, but you’ve several other good uses as well), water (mmmmmm, foul vapors), more powerful D mages (able to drop darkness with just a skull staff), and a variety of cross path uses such as vampires (did you get a sense of how strong your dominion is?). Vampires & summon imps work fabulously with those iron bane/harpy kamikazes, giving your opponent a bit of damned if they do/damned if they don’t with regard to storms. This rises to a whole new level once you start summoning fairy queens….mmmmm, flying swarms of vine critters (with fog warriors to complement their army of lead, of course). Llamia queens are wonderfully cheap, by the time you’ve researched them you can spit out a couple a turn easily, building up a blood economy surprisingly fast, and fairy queens dramatically increase your threat vector. These two are your goto spells in conjuration. Earth elementals also give you some nice variety when your opponent was all set to deal with vine critters. Don’t forget the haste! Earth elementals and minotaurs (along with vine elephants you’ve been stockpiling from your woodland temples) plus haste is where you want to be thinking for big masses of enemy undead. I’d love to point to some death summons as you’re pulling into conjuration, but there’s not a whole lot of synergy here with your freespawn and national summons, so you’ll probably funnel D gems into boosters, darkness, etc.

I briefly mentioned transformation before, you’re going to want to cast this with most of your pans. This greatly reduces their combat value, but it completely removes their upkeep. Let your summoned mages do most of the lifting in combat and go green with upkeep free pans, your gold flow will thank you. At this point in the game you’ll likely also want to rotate all those research dryads into combat duty. Properly deployed they’ll add a fair bit to your arsenal with their awe and combat songs, but mostly they’re just your biggest source of upkeep at this point and you’re better off replacing them with transformed pans for lab work. With very low upkeep you have the luxury of stockpiling gold so you can crap out a pan from every castle if you need them for combat, but don’t leave them idling with that huge upkeep. Likewise, with that reasonable production you can ramp up your army of non-vine critters relatively quickly so don’t leave them sitting around if you expect peace time to last long at all. Either drown them or negotiate with a neighbor to help suicide them. This might feel a bit nervous at first, but you’ve got a huge amount of vine critters to carry you through a couple turns of unexpected hostilities and the difference this can make to your modest income over time is immense. A very modest 1200 gold income goes a very long way if you’ve got almost no upkeep….

Rounding out your secondary spells is enchantment, yielding not only the rest of your national summons, but your national holy spells. I’ve seen others suggest using Carrion Lords as thugs, but to be honest I think you’re better off using them as force multipliers for all the troops you’ve got. You’re going to want a carrion lord to cast puppet mastery and carrion growth for any big fights, and to do that (at least the carrion growth) you’re going to need a crystal shield. If your pretender can forge it great, if not and no better option presents itself you’ll want to suck it up and empower a pan in astral. Expensive as hell, particularly with a light astral income, but having reliable access to this spell all over the place is well worth it. Don’t forget, those spells are MR resists, so slap void eyes and spell foci on the caster as well, and rune smashers if you can manage to line them up. Haste stacks very nicely with puppet mastery to, those shuffling dudes will close quite quickly minimizing chances for them to be blasted and wrapping most satisfyingly all the way around your poor prey.

So, your end game you’re looking at quickened, regenerating, 20 protection, MR buffed vine critters fighting under darkness as your default squads all over the place, with iron bane/weapons of sharpness kamikaze flying support where it matters, fog warriors/mass flight for the real important fights, and charm/petrify/leech for anybody who thinks they’re cute.

The big, obvious Achilles Heel is undead mastery, and this is a spell your indubitably going to have to deal with if you’re having much success with LA Pangea. The obvious thing is to try to have army of lead up first, equally obvious is for your opponent to try and drop undead mastery first, so there ya go. There’s not any silver bullet counter to this spell, what you do is going to vary a whole lot depending on exactly how your opponent is deploying it. The best I can do is give you some tricks which you can try to pull out as appropriate.

Your national holy spells should give your guys the edge in an even fight – your guys are quickened and regenerating, and army of lead is far from useless even if it doesn’t go off first. Throw in relief – it’s like having regen fighting against your own vine critters. You’ve also got access to another nice spell that not many nations can lay down – gaia’s blessing. Throw it down on top of your army of lead and your troops will be essentially immune to falling fires/frost if you’ve picked up some mages who can drop them so blast the crap out of everything and your troops should be the ones left standing. Mix clockwork horrors in among your vine critters, they make really effective bush trimmers against vine critters turned on the first round (heck, that’s what they were designed for!). If your opponent is adding his own army of lead (or whatever) drop in weapons of sharpness & strength of giants/rush of strength and those little guys will more than give you an edge before they poop out while being moderately resistant to the vine creatures because of their size. You’ve also got your own D mages so you’ll want to do the tug of war thing with your own undead mastery. Also, remember that you’ve got a lot of non-undead options – we deliberately set ourselves up to be able to field a corps of minotaurs – which buffed by haste will clear a hell of a lot of traitorous vine creatures when charging from point blank range. Finally, remember at the end of the day that you’ve got more vine critters than you know what to do with, so drop a bunch of earthquakes and count on the fact you can field vine critters faster than your opponent can scrape up D5 mages - who you’re heavily targeting with earth attacks, manifestations & seeking arrows, as well as black heart equipped dryads (mmmm…maggots) or full pan assassins (swarm + earth elemental + petrify..etc.).
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Old April 28th, 2009, 04:33 AM
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Lingchih Lingchih is offline
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Default Re: LA Pangea - a rotten way to go green

I just did a quick read, and maybe I missed it, but I don't think you put enough emphasis on the greater reanimation faculties of the Carrion Ladies and Carrion Lords. Each of them can reanimate better vine creatures, with the Carrion Lords routinely reanimating the best vine critters, the elephants.
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Old April 28th, 2009, 05:31 AM
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Default Re: LA Pangea - a rotten way to go green

Don`t forget about Haunted Forest, especially with strong dominion
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Old April 28th, 2009, 06:54 AM
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Default Re: LA Pangea - a rotten way to go green

Good guide

some points:
- At the endgame astral income is dirt cheap. It may prove difficult to maintain your globals then.
Also with this tactic you'd have to protect your pretender extremely well. If he dies in battle or get assassinated the globals are down.
This global route makes me nervous. I'd personally stick with playing this nation treating CW as a nice to have bonus.
- Army of lead can not be used all the time with impunity. Go that way and you'll soon lose your armies to teleporting wrathers.
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Old April 28th, 2009, 09:51 AM
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Default Re: LA Pangea - a rotten way to go green

Good point Lingchih, and I should have mentioned it, though if you follow my suggested research priorities I'll generally have a hard time justifying 25N for a reanimator rather than almost 2 more llamia queens or more than half another fairy queen. Still, if you summon them for combat support you'll certainly want to stick them to reanimating when they're not fighting.

@Wraithlord - yes, this is a thought that I kept in mind designing this strategy, that despite your best efforts at any time you may have to make a go at it without CW being up. This is why I think it's important to have production scales so that like a hybrid car engine you can switch over into your other mode if necessary. If you're into the late game though and carrion woods has been up for some time you've already got hoards of vine critters with loads of reanimators to keep a (significantly diminished) fresh supply coming, all the summons those extra N & D gems have given you, have established a blood economy and a blood stone farm, and should hopefully be able to continue to be very competitive at that point. And yes, I don't see you using your pretender in any combat if he's the one who puts the globals up - unless you go with a lich/master lich. Then again, there's not much reason to if he's bringing mostly N/D to the party...
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Old April 28th, 2009, 11:24 AM
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Default Re: LA Pangea - a rotten way to go green

One note worth knowing if you are playing any era of Pan: your national divine spells like Regrowth (Ench 4)not only affect manikins, but other undead as well, in particular Tarts. In an endgame slugathon, having a dryad is a cheap and effective way of giving your Tarts another edge in battle with extra regeneration.

I like the balanced approach in this guide, given most MP games are an exercise in chaos and being aligned to an extreme approach can result in a quick exit. But saving 999 gems (or any extreme amount)? I'd argue that accumulating all those gems is like having money tucked under your mattress instead of invested in items, summons, spells earning interest...
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Old April 28th, 2009, 01:06 PM
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Default Re: LA Pangea - a rotten way to go green

Yeah DC, I think this is thinking that will trip up a lot of people trying to do this with CW. In the vast majority of Dominions play this is exactly right, gems collecting dust are essentially wasted. In this context though those gems are being used just sitting there - or being dumped into your globals. Look at it this way, if you are in a situation where you're contemplating putting 999 gems into the spell (or any large number), you're going to be ruling a large nation with by that time a very well established dominion. Think of those large amount of gems as buying tens of thousands of vine critters over the course of many turns and it starts looking less like a waste- particularly when you factor in the gem income and account for mother oak's income in the same accounting bucket.

The way I see it, if you don't use those gems as an insurance policy then CW being dispelled goes from "maybe eventually" to "almost certainly, soon". As soon as you're a credible threat to anybody from mid game on dispel is going to be at the top of their minds, and it's much more difficult to get back on top of that fight after you've lost the gem income from the globals. In this case, I think it's prudent to win the fight before it happens. The other way to look at it is 'am I better off with CW up or with some extra N gems?' If you answer that question differently than I did, you might want to skip CW altogether.
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Old April 28th, 2009, 01:44 PM
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Default Re: LA Pangea - a rotten way to go green

Great guide! As always.

Two things though. I usually start off buying 40 harpys to patrol my capitol at 200% until I get a second castle up, to me it seems to make a significant difference early on. Also your starting army can usually take the weakest indy next to your capital.

Also you don´t mention the black dryads at all, I find them useful combined with manikin bodyguards casting spellsongs. Same with dryads and dryad hoplites. I guess you consider it insignificant, but since you´re talking about getting rid of dryad researchers you might as well discuss their possibilities in combat a bit more.
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Old April 29th, 2009, 05:35 AM

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Default Re: LA Pangea - a rotten way to go green

Could someone who is using this guide/race atm which critters (unitnumbers maybe) exactly the carrion woods spell generates? I have great plans for this spell.
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Old April 29th, 2009, 09:56 AM
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Default Re: LA Pangea - a rotten way to go green

@Aezeal: I don't have exact numbers, but I play in a CBM EA MP game (Magellan) as Pan, and I have had CW up for a few turns. I hold only three forest provinces (all with temple), one of them has a very low dominion (due to being next to another players capital, even tough it is next to my capital too). Seems the ratio for "good" manikin is one in ten ("good" in my book being the cavalry types, centaurs, elephants; the centaurs and elephants are super-rare, I've had in ten turns two elephants and three centaurs in total), and I seem to generate on average one manikin per candle (plus/minus a few).

It is not a way to instant victory, but they are free, and even the chaff manikin are dangerous to SC's. My manikin (together with centaurs) did kill a gorgon, so they are a nice way to stop SC pretenders in early game (first turn the harpies kamikaze, then the centaurs crash in, and finally the manikin slowly close in for the kill). Manikin are also very nice vs cavalry. However, vs normal troops they are not that wonderful (but then again Pan has minotaurs to stampede through normal size troops; it is just to have the correct troops present at correct battles :P).

In all, I feel CW is more important early in a game (manikin are great vs the usual rushers, and the extra gem-income is invaluable early on but later it is peanuts). In my opinion later on CW lose much of its relative power, and is most useful for Pan to take down some evil hostile global (well, it is random if you get down which you want, but when there are just good globals up, you will always hit something ). Then again, if you can have it up for 50 turns, you are bound to have a nice force of centaur manikin and the elephant manikin, and they would be great even during the later phases of the game.
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