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Old May 13th, 2009, 09:13 AM

Agema Agema is offline
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Default MA Man - Making the best of a bad deal

MA Man is generally believed to be a weak nation, and... it is. Unlike Baalz's guides, this guide is not going to be about great synergies and exciting tricks, because by and large they don't exist. This guide will intend to be about maximising what Man is good at (= not much) and covering the holes in the nation.

* * *

Man benefits a lot from expansion. Grabbing territory quickly is good, as you'll need a lot of money to power your early game and a lot of gems to power your middle and late game. However, for various reasons (see far below) I don't recommend an SC pretender. Luckily, Man's army is mostly up to the task of good expansion against indies and many nations.

Basic battle tactics for Man for the early to midgame should be simple: longbowmen with a melee screen. Longbowmen have good precision (12), good range (35) and good missile damage (13), a decent bunch are quite capable of whittling down the enemy, if not routing them outright then leaving them in poor state for the melee screen to finish. Bear in mind both any shield larger than a buckler and heavy armour will severely dent the impact of your longbowmen. Your melee screen should preferentially be Tower Guard, which are good quality infantry. Axemen are pointless, there's nothing they do that Tower Guard don't do better. Longspears and Spearmen are okay if unexceptional: however, the same high protec troops that make your longbows less effective will also make these guys struggle. If your melee screen fails, Longbowmen themselves have reasonable Att/Def and a shortsword so they stand up better than many missile troops in melee, but with low protec (6) and no shield, they'll do a lot of dying. You should be able to outshoot virtually any other archers, except rare varieties with shields. It's also worth bearing in mind Man's armies are SLOW. Only longbowmen and Spearmen have mapmove 2.

You are not a good target for someone else's rush. Longbowmen can be amassed quickly in huge numbers: their missile fire poses a decent threat to many typical rush troops like elephants/mammoths, hydras and many blessed units. Even if a rusher thinks he can beat you, the risk of heavy casualties may persuade him to find an easier opponent. Cap-only Knights of Avalon and Wardens of Avalon have high damage, good morale and MR, and may pose a reasonable threat to some SC Pretenders early on, and if not spells like Sleep (110 fatigue, MR) and lightning bolt are easily researched and give you some traction against many. Also bear in mind a niche use for Knights of Avalon: they have a magical alicorn attack, which can ruin the day for ethereal and mistform troops and thugs.

There may be some traction in building knights. Ultimately, these guys are extremely hard to kill with missile fire or in melee by average troops, and pack out lots of damage. However, the cost (50 gold & 50 res) makes them a drag to recruit, and you can guarantee when the midgame comes around and Evo starts flying, they'll die just as fast as something far cheaper.

Wind Guide is an obvious spell to cast, and flaming arrows if you have an adequate fire mage handy. Other synergistic tactics are slowing your opponent down to increase exposure to your archers: swarm; tangle vines; even phantasmal warriors. Eventually, your opponents will get spells that make your longbows increasingly ineffective. Arrow Fend and Storm are the obvious ones, but the likes of mist and darkness will decrease accuracy, and protection buffs from E & N will also make longbows struggle as they do not do AP damage (unless you can cast flaming arrows). However, by this time you should be looking at casting Storm yourself anyway, to leverage your Air magic for Thunderstrikes and eventually Fog Warriors, with your longbowmen looking at being at least partially retired. Together with Nature's protective spells against elemental damage, mass protection, mass regeneration and so on you can potentially have a very tough army.

Man struggles for Evo damage. Nature is not good at it. Poison and sleep are short range and your troops are vulnerable as well. Most of your mages will be short of A3 for thunderstrikes, requiring boosters to lay down the smack, so you'll be looking mostly at unit buffs to get the best out of your army.

* * *

Magic

Your basic go-to mage is the mother of Avalon, who comes in three variants: N3 (25%), N2A1 (50%), N1A2 (25%). Although a bit expensive for a researcher at nearly 30gp recruit per res, she has several advantages. Firstly, she's sacred so at least the upkeep is low. Secondly, every one is a decent mage in a fight via N or A (with a thistle mace from Construction 4, you won't ever need a crone to cast the big Nature battlefield spells like mass regeneration, just a N3 mother). Finally, she's stealthy (+0), so she can move around unseen. Once you can cast Storm, the N1A2s can power up with Summon Storm Power and start flinging thunderstrikes. Arguably there's no real point taking Crones into battle until you get larger BF spells and item boosters to make best use of earth, water and air. In fact, you don't need to recruit many crones at all - mothers are perfectly adequate until some more heavy duty air magic is needed later on.

Crones. These are your high-power mages: Good N, moderate A, weak E/W possible, and arguably the worst highest-tier mages in the game. They are physically feeble. Ruinously, they have old age. Also ruinously, they have a mere 0.6% chance to luck onto A4, W2 or E2, which means essentially none will be happening. That means no A boosters (thus you missing on high level Air); no E boosters, and no W boosters until Construction 6 which is getting a bit too late. Never fear, if no useful indies or your pretender can rectify this, use empowerment, it's only 30 gems from 1-2. You might want to consider boosting a W/E indy without old age if you have one, and they'll do the site searching and forging. Boosting A3-4 is horribly expensive in gems, there are less wasteful ways to do it (see below). However, with the A boosters you're now in line for the elemental royalty, big Air rituals, and you can slap down Fog Warriors on the first turn without needing Storm/Summon Storm Power, which is one fewer turns for your entire force of low HP mages to be annihilated by rain of stones/earthquake/etc. A crone with E boosted to 2 by whatever means can summon earthpower and cast Rain of Stones and decent E units buffs herself. Man would benefit massively from the global Gift of Health, which can be easily cast, and preferably with a lot gems to keep it up. It'll both assist your frail mages and deal with some afflictions, and be a big bonus to your hard working troops, as your army will probably be doing a lot of hard work. Another note for ANW crones is that eventually W+N = clams for astral pearls.

The other big problem apart from their crappy ever-dying crones and lack of magical versatility in magic is absolutely no national Astral, Blood or Death. This can cripple you in the late game, to avoid it you'd need to chance upon some useful indies, and I recommend no-one leaves that sort of thing to chance, particularly because if it happens late, even by the time you get started you'll be far behind the curve. Your Pretender really should be making up for this deficit.

You get to recruit Daughters of Avalon at the capital. I don't see much point in their existence. I guess if you don't have the gold for a crone or it's late in the year and the thought of buying a crone who may get a nasty affliction a turn or two later is too depressing to contemplate, you don't want a Lord Warden, and for whatever reason don't want a mother (despite her being far superior except research cost effectiveness), knock yourself out. You certainly deserve to be knocked out.

Man has some really useful few "Song of..." national spells hiding away, three small radius AoEs accessible through N1: a healing spell, a morale-boosting spell and a fatigue reduction spell. All nice and good, but that fatigue reducer is great. Lay down the spell spam, and Oh look! Any old nature mage(s) can be sitting right behind them casting their fatigue away. Lovely.

With healthy N income and good research, Man should look at Mother Oak and Gift of Health as priorities. Mother Oak may be more important, as if you take Gift of Health and someone else takes Mother Oak, they'll get a N gem income sufficient to overpower your GoH pretty easily. Here, getting there first with fast research is again crucial.

* * *

Bless?

Man is not a good nation for blessed troops, it's simply not worth damaging scales and magical diversity to make a good combat bless. Wardens of Avalon are cap-only, unexceptional for the expense, and can be easily messed up by mid-level Evo. Lord Wardens cannot self-bless, do not have amazing stats, and have no other abilities but the bless you give them, so they're just not good thug quality. They are good ambidextrous, at best consider giving them a couple of cheap magic weapons and mix them in with other melee troops, they'll add a lot more oomph to the unit they're mixed with and the surrounding troops will offer some protection. They're also competing with your big mage, the Crone of Avalon, for recruitment at the capital. Your mages, however, are sacred. The only bless that looks particularly attractive for them is Earth, for reinvigoration. That said, you'll still need to cart round monks or your prophet to get your mages blessed.

* * *

Thugs/SCs

You don't have any. Okay, that's a bit harsh. With some boosters to Air, you can get the elemental royalty eventually. Nature will get you Sleepers, although they aren't that big an improvement on your Lord Wardens. Ivy Kings may suffice later on, but beware them having no Helm slot. You do have lots of N3 mages, so you have got the opportunity to Charm enemy thugs and SCs, particularly useful if your opponent has skimped on MR boosters. Not only that, but you've got N3A2, which means potential cloud trapezing charmers, so you could catch some thugs/SCs, although any opponent worth his salt will probably hammer that square with simple assassination spells and you would be saying goodbye to plenty of your charm brigade. Man has a number of national heroes which may turn up at your capital's gates, all of which from my experience have been extremely forgettable.

* * *

Infrastructure.

Man can do a lot with money, so your scales should be geared towards it. Except for on Farmland provinces (Fortified Cities), all Man's castles are 800gp and quick to build, so you have few problems rapidly hammering them out. Fortified Cities might need a high initial cost, but on a high income province you'll earn your money back very quickly, so don't discount them entirely. Also, Man's temples cost only 200gp, so it's very quick and easy to make plenty, you should think about doing this soon. You can use cheap temples two ways: firstly with high Dom to push your Dom rapidly, if at war maybe also making use of your stealthy H1 monks to undermine your enemy's Dom. Alternatively, take a low Dom to save design points and rely on extra temples to keep you competitive. Tower Guard get +1 defending in a siege, and Nature mages give supply. You can therefore potentially hold an army up for a long time besieging you without starving. If you can't save the castle, as your mothers are stealthy, they can hide, sneak off and fight another day when the end finally arrives.

Man's PD is... not good. They are least plentiful: you get 1 militia, spearmen and slinger per point. Not until 20+ do you get tower guard and longbowmen, but once you've got 20PD you're basically throwing good money away for little purpose on PD.

* * *

Stealth

MA Man is also sneaky. But unlike their quasi-forebears Tir na Nog and cousins Eriu, they're not very good at it - building a strategy around it is unlikely to work. Your only stealthy troops are Wardens, they are tough and destructive enough that small groups should defeat low to middling PD - crossbows are your biggest worry. Remember you can send stealthy H1 priests to bless them and add add magic support from your stealthy Mothers. You can often find other indy stealthy units, of course. Monks could potentially strip Dom from provinces to give you an advantage there, but I don't forsee that being a huge use.

The most potent weapon in your stealth arsenal are Bards. Massively stealthy (+30), they can cause unrest. Before starting a war with an opponent, you could send several of these over to their capital and raise unrest, ideally to 100+. Your opponent will not only have no income from their most valuable province but can't raise any units, especially his cap-only. Painful. Maybe kickstart the unrest with locust swarms as well, and if you've got enough bards, try shutting down some other key provinces too. It detracts from mage recruitment to make these guys, but hopefully you should have more castles and can dedicate one to pumping out stealthy units. Particularly early on you will really cripple your opponent early on if you shut down their capital. When not causing unrest, they can either scout or preferentially research. In battle, they'll be great for removing fatigue from your real mages with song spells.

Your national scouts, foresters, also have a patrol bonus: only 7, however. If you can't afford anything better in a fort think about it, but I don't think it's sufficiently advantageous to detract from building something more useful like Mothers otherwise.

* * *

Pretender design. Pretender design is particularly critical to MA Man. Unlike many nations, I don't think you don't have a lot of options available to you as you're so busy compensating for weaknesses.

Okay, we need money and we need to minimise crone loss, so Order-3 Growth-3 is a good start. We need to get some end-game magic available, so take D2 minimum. With various summons and boosters, that'll get you to D7 and tartarians eventually. Death can also get you thugs in the form of banelords and wraithlords readily. The other general advance would be getting astral going. A simple S4 will do this: Starshine Skullcap - Ring of Sorcery - Ring of Wizardry. RoW, incidentally, can be passed to an A3 crone so she can produce A4 Air boosters, and you shouldn't have many problems doing whatever you like with Air from then on. You don't need an SC pretender, because as previously discussed Man is not an easy rush target. After that, your pretender should expand your magical versaility as much as possible, that means a rainbow, and that means a human-sized one. Similarly, more magic paths means more chances of useful indy mage sites, further expanding versatility. I'd take the Great Enchantress: she's got your astral, the Earth is good to get your E going and access to crystal stuff, buying new paths is cheap and she gives you freebie astral pearls (and what's not to like about that?). Man's pretender is important for our development, and ideally should be awake.

You can make up points as follows. Drain scales actually wouldn't be too painful up to -2. Your basic mages, Mothers, get 5 research so it's only a 20% efficiency loss, better than many. You should have lots of gold and are planning to build castles and hence mages like crazy, so should have more than your opponents to balance the drain. You can forge some owl quills if you're really worried. Misfortune up to -2 might be also be a good idea: your order scales should cover some of the punishment. Cold/heat to -1 is viable, but no more as it's hurting your income (supplies are not a problem with nature mages). Sloth is also viable, but tower guard need 18 resources each, Wardens 28, and it's detracting from money again, so more than -1 might not be a good idea.

Using this basic template, we could have a minimal build awake Great Enchantress, F1W1D2E2S4, Dom-5, Order-3, Growth-3, and your choice of three scale point negatives into Sloth, Drain, Heat/Cold and Misfortune. Use heavy temple building to make up for lowish Dom, her job is to search sites (manually at first to get income going, spells later?) and then switch to construction, meanwhile she'll have a little pot of S pearls building away. The F/W magic can be exchanged for anything (E3, or 2 single paths in ABFNW), I just think FW gives more utility for forging, searching and summoning. With E2 she can create Earth Boots and Dwarven Hammers quickly, and crystal gear if you want it. Earth boots can be offloaded to E1 crones so they can site search earth. In the case of someone rushing you, the extra research may be a godsend for some extra spellpower. Your pretender may also provide a vital ace up your sleeve for crunch battles by supplying spell path alternatives your opponent may not be prepared for (eg. Flaming arrows). Boots of Flight and teleport give her plenty of manoueverability.

At your discretion you could have up to six negatives (Sloth 1, Cold 1, Misfortune 2, Drain 2). This gives you up to 120 points which can be used to boost magic versatility, maybe to acquire a light bless for your mages, or a stronger Dom. Getting your death and astral income going is particularly important, you'll be needing plenty of it ready for the mid and endgame, particularly considering development costs with forging and summoning your way to greater capability in both along the way. Consequently, increasing both paths may be a good idea to reduce such costs.

NB// Chrispedersen thinks it's better to improve scales by taking the extra points from a dormant pretender, read his comment below.

Last edited by Agema; June 18th, 2009 at 08:18 AM.. Reason: Minor upgrades and corrections
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  #2  
Old May 13th, 2009, 11:54 AM

chrispedersen chrispedersen is offline
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Default Re: MA Man - Making the best of a bad deal

Agree with most of what you said.

But I disagree with taking a drain scale. If you take a moderately positive magic scale, and build castles like crazy, you can dispense with building crones until after you have researched construction for boots of youth. Rather build your cost efficient researchers:

Daughters are 80 for 6rp, mothers are around a sacred 130 for 8?.

So on a rp/gp ratio for upkeep you are talking around 1.1 and 1.6.

Spearmen *are* mapmove 2, along with your longbowman - so have slight utility in those cases you need to reinforce something quickly. Generally, the plan however is build a castle rather than move troops.

I do not believe that gems in the first year are a sufficient reason to keep your pretender awake. I would suggest better scales for more castle production.

Mother of Tuathas is an interesting choice as she significantly boosts your raiding potential. So is the arch druid a man specific choice.

But I think I would probably stick with a
E4D3S4N1B4 Dom3 crone.

D3 cuts the time/gems to get death in play, as no mound fiend is necessary. e4 for dwarven hammers and reinvig on your sacred casters. S4 for eventual entry to Astral. Blood 4 for booths of youth and entry into the blood school.

With ridiculously cheap monks, and cheap temples, man starting with a low dominion is in a better position than anyone but mictlan to control his dominion spread.

As written elsewhere growth + high taxes are your friend.

Finally: Alteration is your first research goal, for wind guide.
After consider alteration again for Oak, especially absent a pangaia player. Otherwise enchantment for flaming arrows, or construction
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Old May 13th, 2009, 02:25 PM

chrispedersen chrispedersen is offline
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Default Re: MA Man - Making the best of a bad deal

Without a Pangaeia Change that to:

+3+2+3-1+3-2+1
F4E2D3S4N5

Cold rather than heat as with your priest spam and archers, abysia's armored troops are a bigger threat than ermor.

Go strait Alt 5. Cast wooden oak.
Next target: Enchant 5 for Gift of Health and flaming arrows.

MP prophetize the forrester, and turn 2 do not accompany the army rather preach to avoid the embarrassing "merchants prosper" loss of game. Dom 1 will be difficult But with man you have so many ways to lose. Beware an early Blood Sacrifice nation.

Your first turn production long bowmen with a screen.. Consider the bard / mother for first production. bard for the standard bonus. Consider having them accompany the army. In an archery duel your archers are doing 13 +d6 vs 4-6 prot short bow archers.
they will be doing 10+d6 vs 6 prot.

2xHealing songs will on average heal your archer to full.

F4 on your pretender isn't so much to cast flame arrows yourself: but you really need to find a fire indy site. F4 for flame boosters, and f/d flame skulls will let the average flame indy cast flame arrows.
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Old May 13th, 2009, 03:02 PM

thejeff thejeff is offline
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Default Re: MA Man - Making the best of a bad deal

I've never had luck with Healing Song. Sure, it can heal your archers if they get hit, but for it to work you've got to have your (unarmored low hp) mage up among the people getting hit. The number of archers you save isn't worth the mages you lose. And that doesn't count the archers that just die from one hit (or lose an arm)

Soothing song is brilliant for big battles, though. It needs critical mass, but 4-5 bards casting it can keep a lot of mages going indefinitely. They'll default to it often enough even after the scripts run out.
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Old May 13th, 2009, 04:09 PM
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Tolkien Tolkien is offline
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Default Re: MA Man - Making the best of a bad deal

I do believe level 1 empowerment to 2 is 30 gems, not 20.
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Old May 13th, 2009, 07:13 PM

chrispedersen chrispedersen is offline
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Default Re: MA Man - Making the best of a bad deal

Quote:
Originally Posted by thejeff View Post
I've never had luck with Healing Song. Sure, it can heal your archers if they get hit, but for it to work you've got to have your (unarmored low hp) mage up among the people getting hit. The number of archers you save isn't worth the mages you lose. And that doesn't count the archers that just die from one hit (or lose an arm)

Soothing song is brilliant for big battles, though. It needs critical mass, but 4-5 bards casting it can keep a lot of mages going indefinitely. They'll default to it often enough even after the scripts run out.

Soothing song *is* brilliant. Even 1 caster casting (as its aoe) makes a huge difference. Its like Reinvig on steroids.

On healing song.... Almost all of mans mothers have 1+ air. Simply script air shield.

Plus, the AoE is 10+ .. which is something like 14. Which is sufficiently larget that you can bracket your rear longbowmen with negligible chances of getting hit. In 20 battles I lost 1 mage - in a time the ai, for whatever reason neglected to cast air shield.


Against tough nuts, use swarm additionally.....although the computer will not cast it against pushovers.
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Old May 13th, 2009, 08:41 PM

Agema Agema is offline
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Default Re: MA Man - Making the best of a bad deal

With neutral magic, Daughters are 80GP for 4 research, Mothers are 130GP for 5 research, so daughters are more cost efficient. This advantage would be enhanced with positive magic scales; however, it would be less advantageous with drain. If you took positive magic scales, I'd agree daughters would be a more attractive proposition.

On the other hand, a mother gets you a mage worth a damn in a fight. I agree there's no point buying crones early on, whole first year maybe (you could send out some E/W ones site searching). There's nothing they can cast early on that mothers can't, and you've better things to spend money on than crones. However, if an emergency arises early on and you need to pack the mages out, you do NOT want to be stuck with the limited capabilities of daughters, especially if your god hasn't woken up yet.

Funnily enough, I did initially include some pretender options similar to those you suggest (dormant with better scales, etc.) but removed them from the final version. I think the god will be very busy when it arrives forging and summoning, and there's a much greater risk that by the time it wakes up it has few or no gems of the right types (particularly Astral, Death) to do anything with, which will slow down development a lot. But I'd consider your suggestion very viable.

Tolkien - you're quite right, empowerment is 30 gems 1-2.
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Old May 13th, 2009, 09:37 PM

chrispedersen chrispedersen is offline
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Default Re: MA Man - Making the best of a bad deal

Don't get me wrong, I build only mothers. But I think daughters are viable.

As for forging: you're not going to forge the entire first year, if you head to Alt4 as we both think is correct. After that to make a case for an awake pretender you have to say ok: what am I going to forge in the first year thats makes con-4 better than Alt5, or Ench 4/5?

I don't see it, but I'm open to hear what you suggest. The best thing I can figure is Air boosters so you can morph into Caelum/formoria lite aka: storm, summon storm power, lightning spam... But you don't have a4 on your pretender anyway =)
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Old May 14th, 2009, 05:09 AM

Amorphous Amorphous is offline
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Default Re: MA Man - Making the best of a bad deal

I have a lot of comments, but I will try to limit myself a bit at least.


Man can do quite a lot with battle magic and a lot of is of the kind that interacts and combines well with national troops.

Lightning and poison are the obvious choices for damage spam, but in most cases your troops - with the help of a buff or 10 - can do just fine in the damage department. Do not forget such things as sleep and spamming panic and false horrors. Charm has been mentioned as have buffs, but the last part is very - not to say extremely - important to man.

All your mages can cast protection, use it. Get access to earth so that you can use stone- or ironskin when an opponent brings too much fire damage to the table. As the game goes on, start piling buffs on your troops. Knights are great in the beginning game and with buffs they keep on being absolutely fantastic - quickened, foggy, protected, giant-strength knights with weapons of sharpness never go out of style. Knights do die almost as easily to damage spells as any other troops, but that does not mean that you should stop producing them. Buff them with gift of flight or, in a pinch, haste. Knights are offensive units and should be used as such. Once they are mixed in with enemy they are harder to take out and - most important of all - they get to smack them around. They are expensive, but you have a very solid income and cheap and sacred mages - troops and castles are for what it is used.

Not using knights cripples Man.


It is important to realise that one of Man's strength is that it can field a lot of armies that need an effort to get rid of. Of course, a reasonably large and dedicated opposing army will squash it, but that demands resources. A nation with plenty of decent air mages will not have as much trouble, but one relying on its pretender or expensive summons to cast storm or arrow fend to lessen the impact of your longbowmen will have problems.

The other obvious answer to longbowmen are heavy infantry with shields, but that has drawbacks that Man can exploit as well. Obviously, lightning spam can be used to great effect here (orb lightning works particularly well against human sized troops), but knights and some magic for slightly larger battles works very well, too. Knights are just as protected as other heavy infantry, but with relatively low encumbrance. Work the difference by casting curse of stones on your enemies and relief on your own troops. Add in regeneration to add to your staying power and weapons of sharpness to detract from that of your opponent. In practice you have to limit yourself to what you have actually researched, of course, but at least curse of stones is a guarantee.



I also want to add something about bards. They are not only massively stealthy (+30 , not +25 to be precise), they also have leadership 10. This makes bards the preferred ferrier of wardens as they are much harder to detect than your other stealthy commanders. This makes them almost perfect body guards for a cloud trapezing crone. The bard can throw a quick protection or two on the wardens and then concentrate on keeping everyone's hp high and fatigue low. The wardens kill anything getting close to the crone and the crone does the rest.


Finally, about the pretender I strongly recommend taking A4 and at least E2 - preferably E3. Waiting until construction 6 for the ability to craft air boosters can hurt quite a bit. Without at least E2 you will in all probability have to empower a E1 crone or independent mage and that is 30 gems that you need - earth is vital for man. Eventually you will want a couple of troll kings to cover earth casting. With E3 you can craft a hammer as soon as you get the gems and as a bonus you then have easy access to elemental staffs. This in turn facilitates serious water access through naiads - and opens up for clams.
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Old May 14th, 2009, 04:36 PM

Maraxus Maraxus is offline
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Default Re: MA Man - Making the best of a bad deal

Quote:
Not using knights cripples Man.
I second that. I'd take Productivity 3 (actually I do in a little game at the moment) and recruit following "as many knights as possible, then fill up with longbowman".

That means the god has to start sleeping but you can live with that.

For magic, swarm is a great spell. And don't let anyone tell you, your thunder strikes are not good, because you spend air gems to cast them.

Overall, Man is a fun nation to play, allthough not among the top nations (or near the top nations. Still better then MA Agartha, though. )
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