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Old July 6th, 2009, 06:23 PM
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Default OW's Guide to MA Pythium: Marx and Angels' Communion Manifesto

This is the guide I've probably been "working on" for what has to be close to 9 months now. It's not finished, but I figure there is enough good stuff in it to post what's there and worry about finishing it later. Enjoy!

Omikron Warrior's Guide to Pythium in the Middle Age: Marx and Angels Communion Manifesto

Pythium is simply put one of the power houses of the Middle Age. It has great troops, great mages, great priests, and great national summons. It is not overpowering in a way R'lyeh and Ermor are in the Late Age, but given the right resources and played well it should beat opponents in straight fights. Of course, the player needs to know what their doing, and thats the purpose of this guide, to tell the player how to play Pythium in the Middle Age.

Broad Outline:

This guide interprets Pythium as a “boom” nation, or one that does best by investing its early game resources into its economy in order to arrive at a more powerful midgame quicker. This means picking an immobile or rainbow pretender and grabbing some degree of positive scales. Fortunately, Pythium has the recruitable troops to expand early, if not at an excessive rate. The goal is to get several fortresses with temples and labs to build Theurgs, research several important milestones (especially in Alteration, Conjuration, Construction, and Evocation), and get a steady gem income with Astral Pearl being particularly important. Hopefully, the prospect of fighting Hydras will keep most opponents from attacking during this “build” phase. Once Pythium has its ducks all lined up, it attacks using Harbringers as behind the line raiders and principe dominated armies backed by Light of the Northern star enhance Theurgs. Spells like Fog Warriors and Will of Fates are added as researched.

The most important thing to know about Pythium is its dependence upon communions. The player is highly recommended to read Baalz's guide to communions before attempting this nation. The guide will include the basics, but not all the errata. With out communions, Pythium magery is left spamming single target spells with an MR check while their opponents rain down fire and lightning on vulnerable heavy infantry. With communions, Pythium spams the mass destruction and easily casts battlefield wide boosters turning good soldiers into great ones able to take the magic onslaughts and carve their way through the battlefield. Of course, communions are expensive. They typically require 2 mages to serve as communion slaves per master casting spells. Hence, Pythium will need forts to recruit the mages and money to buy them and build the forts in the first place. As a side, Pythium requires high production to kick start its expansion, as going with an awake SC means passing up some important long term advantages for Pythium. Hence, my guiding philosophy behind Pythium will be “commune”-ism and production, thus the pun in my title.

Finally, Pythium is one of the most Astral pearl hungry nations in the game. This means the player should invest in a water/nature mage (probably using empowerment) early and mass producing Clams to have a solid endgame.

The Commanders:

Commanders for Pythium can be divided into three categories: Theurg Mages, Soldiers, and Angelic Summons.

Soldiers:

Centurion: Your basic stock commander with 40 leadership and no shield.

Legatus: A true leader among men, with 120 leadership and the Standard morale boosting effect. Yet, he has no sheild.

Emerald Lord: Though a step down with only 80 leadership, he costs less than a legatus and more importantly comes with a shield. This means errant arrows are less likely to cause a retreat. He's an ideal “go to” commander for leading around the troops, though recruiting independent commanders is a way to avoid bottle necking the player's fortresses which should be producing Thuergs.

Battle Deacon: This guy really is odd man out, he's basically a typical commander unit, only he is also a level 1 priest, but has no other magic. When the player will undoubtedly have several Level-2 priests on the field in the form of Theurgs, and probably a handful of Level-3 with Arch-Theurgs, there really isn't much of a niche for this guy to fill.

Theurgs:

Arch Theurg (380g, 1r): 3-Astral, 2-Air, 1-Water, 3-Holy, and a 100% random of Fire, Astral, Air, or Water. Thats one heck of a mage. With a one-in-four shot at Astral-4, throw on a Starshine cap to get Astral-5 and a communion of eight slaves gives him the paths to cast Master Enslave, or spam Soul Slay and Enslave Mind indefinitely with a big boost. Of course the Water and Air paths are there for the more typical evocations of Thunderstrike and Falling Frosts, to say nothing of the battlefield wide boost of Wind Guide, Storm, and Fog Warriors. Then, those Arch Theurgs with a Fire path can cast fire evocations, including Astral Fires which works underwater, and battlefield wide buffs such as the famous Flaming Arrows, though Pythium is not an archer nation and this spell can typically be ignored. Finally, every single Arch Theurg is capable of casting both Teleport and Cloud Trapeze, somewhat nullifying their slow map movement and capital only status. Really, the list of spells these guys can cast is to long to list anywhere outside the manual.
Yet, this power comes with a cost. They can only be recruited at the capital, for the very hefty price tag of 380 gold. They are very killable with only 7 hp after old age reductions and no protection. Stray arrows will easily kill if they hit, to say nothing of battlefield wide spells like Earthquake and Rain of Stones or remote kill spells like Murdering Winter and Seeking Arrow. Then, come winter the player can expect a good chunk of these guys to wind up feeble minded, muted, or outright diseased due to old age. The player should not think for a moment they are not worth it, but he should be prepared to protect his investment (domes, armor, Growth). As a final point, note the base RP is 9, a high number. Buying these early help players quickly get a jump on research in the absence of an awake pretender.

Theurg (150g, 2r): Much of what was said about the Arch Theurg can be said about the vanilla Theurg. He has similar paths: Astral-2, Air-1, Water-1, and Holy-2. Obviously, not nearly as powerful, but appropriately cost less. They still have old age, but not as severe, and they have a map movement of 2 letting them keep up with principe armies. Unfortunately, this unit is unable to Cloud Trapeze or Teleport with out a booster. That being stated, he is recruitable anywhere with a fort and a lab and a temple, so the player should plan ahead to have plenty on hand at the latest front. Outside of a communion, they can cast Paralyze and Frozen Heart. Use Light of the North Star (or the appropriate banner) to cast Soul Slay. With communions, they can cast Falling Frosts and Thunderstrike and other high level astral. Or, cast the low level spells mentioned earlier at a higher level, thus doing more damage (due to scaling) while incurring less fatigue. Essentially, you can use these guys in lieu of Arch Theurgs on the battlefield, except for highly specialized casting.

Theurg Alcolyte (90g, 1r): It is little units like this that can really make a nation into a powerhouse with its efficiency. Its cheap, and therefore valuable for improving efficiency, despite its minor paths of Astral-1 and Holy-1. If the player takes Magic scales, these guys become the most cost effective researchers available to Pythium. Then, they can be quickly converted into communion slaves or boosted with Light of the Northern Star to cast Mind Burn or Paralyze. Or use a reverse communion (basically take the advantage of the fact a buff for the master buffs the slaves) and cast Power of Spheres to create a host of cheap Astral-3 mages on the battlefield. Still the best use is researcher when money is tight and slaves on the battlefield.

Theurg Communicant (50g, 1r): Not a mage, but sacred none-the-less. This unit has one purpose, he autocasts Communion Slave. This could work to the player's advantage if he can forge Communion Matrices. Then, the Master is able to cast his spells on the first round as oppose to the second. If the spell is something powerful like Master Enslave and the player is trying to beat a casting of Earthquake, this is very much worthwhile to pursue. Other than that, the player is probably better off recruiting Acolytes, as they can research and forge trinkets when not on the battlefield. Of course, if you really want to manage gold and know you're recruiting a unit to serve as a Communion Slave and nothing else, why not grab these guys?

Angelic Summons:

Harbringer (Conjuration-6, 25 Pearls): This is the most recommended summon available to Pythium. The other summons may have better stats on paper, but at 25 pearls its the cheapest and has stuff you like to see on a raider: Awe, Air Magic, 1 base encumbrance, some initial elemental resistances, and Flying. Equip with some low encumbrance armor (the zero stuff is best), a shield (hopefully with zero encumbrance), and a brand weapon (probably frost brand, as Pythium can forge them naturally). Script bless (hopefully getting some revigoration), Mistform, Mirror Image, and Air Shield (if the player expects archers). Next, equip the Harbringer with appropriate items to add bonuses like Luck (maybe through the Lucky Coin Shield), anti-magic, or elemental immunities as necessary. Now Cloud trapeze in and raid away. Or, combine with armies for a thug presence. Or, redo the equipment for anti-SC duty: such as dual equiped brands, or even better a gate cleaver, and boots of quickness. Use the magic movement phase and Cloud Trapeze to land on the SC's location and skip buffs to attack while it tries to buff.

Angel of Fury (Conjuration-7): What? No Air Magic? Fail! Alright, I am being a little harsh on the personification of divine vengeance, but he is more expensive then the Harbringer and the trade offs are typically not worth it. Instead of Awe and any magic or preist levels, he has Blood Vengeance and basic Fear. Blood Vengeance is a great defensive attribute and very difficult to get otherwise, but it is not as good as Mistform and Mirror Image and Awe and the ability to self bless. Plus, he has much more limited mobility due to his inability to cast Cloud Trapeze. Yet, there are niche uses for this guy, such as against the undead who would ignore awe anyways and his default weapon does extra damage to. Be prepared to invest more in equipment to keep him alive, though. On a similar note, he's probably better to add to armies then the Harbringer where a priest will probably be casting Divine Blessing and maybe even Fog Warriors and other army wide boosts. His Blood Vengeance will also help protect against elemental evocation spamming.

Arch-Angel: A Fire-4 mage summoned with only Astral magic? This guys great for magical diversity as he can forge the fire booster helmet out of the bag, and fly around and site search, picking up Holy-3 sites as well in the process. Put him on the battlefield to cast the powerful fire evocations or Warriors of Melphasm. Yet, once again this summon lacks the overall utility of the Harbringer for anti-SC or PD raiding duty. The only real defensive spell available for Fire is Flame Shield, which is OK, but not a replacement for Mirror Image and Mistform. Plus, he is twice as expensive to summon.

Seraph (Conjuration-9, 144 pearls): What kind of summon do you get for the cost of almost six Harbringers? A true Super Combatant, ready to take on mage supported armies almost with out equipment. You certainly do not want to waste him with simple raids. Let us look at this bruiser's stats. He comes with Fire-4, Air-4, Astral-4, and Holy-4, so right off the bat he can forge the difficult fire and air boosters. For protection, he comes immune to fire, shock, and poison, leaving cold as his only elemental weakness (and Pythium can easily forge something to close that Achilles heal). He starts with Fire Shield autocast, a very high level of Awe, and will blind attackers, though the exact mechanic for this is not understood. Thats all before any spells or equipment. His HP is not as high as Tartarians or some other end game or pretender juggernauts, but decent at 70 with natural protection of 20. The greatest surprise is the Seraph's map movement, clocking in at a whopping 7. Unfortunately, he has one Achilles heel, Astral Magic. More specifically, they can be killed with the spell Mind Duel. Any Astral Mage can cast this spell and “duel” another astral mage on the opposing force. Both mages role a d6 once, add it to their Astral magic level, and the loser dies. In case of a tie, both die. Remember, this unit is a whopping 144 pearl investment before the outfitting with gear. The player cannot afford to lose a Seraph without taking out a lot of your opponents resources in the process.
So, how does one find a use for one of the most powerful (and expensive) summons in the game? Like I said, do not waste him on simple raiding, Harbringers can handle that duty just fine and should be disposable by end game when Seraphs can be summoned. That leaves three other uses: supporting armies, destroying armies, or destroying other SC's. Armies can be dangerous to go after as they are often protected by mages ready to cast SC counter spells, and when you're done your Seraph is a sitting duck for other mages to teleport in and mind duel... if your opponent has Astral available to him. I am not saying do not go after armies, just make certain you have the element of surprise (I.e. your opponent has not seen your Seraph before and you suspect opposing mages are not scripted for it). That leaves adding the Seraph to a conventional army. Indeed, combining him with armies has the advantage of putting him with other Astral mages and thus reduces the likelihood of being the target of a mind duel.

Troops:

Line Infanty: Long story short, the player wants to mass produce heavy infantry and little else. Principe is the best heavy infantry unit available and should be produced preferentially. However, almost any of the heavy infantry with a tower shield is acceptable. Emerald Guards do have the better stats, but their strategic movement of 1 limits their utility far to much.

Hydras (250g, 1r): These guys are big, scary and eat independent forces for lunch. OK, breakfast, most independents will not last until lunch. Fielding them in numbers against your opponent is often like using a wrecking ball at a trailer park. Yet, there is a real danger in using them, and should probably be abandoned after initial expansion, if used for even that task. Namely, hydras come with a poison cloud that will poison and kill any that gets near it that is not poison immune (such as undead), including friendly troops. Trying to keep your normal troops separate from your hydras on the battle field is like trying to keeps chocolate from melting in an oven. So, they need to attack alone, as Pythium has no other poison immune forces. Heck, even keeping their commander alive will be a challenge. In theory, having him stand behind some archers could work, but the only recruitable “archers” Pythium has are Slingers. For the most part this will work, but Slingers do not quite have the range and will occasionally wade into the poison cloud. Worst case scenario the hydras route and thanks to their poison clouds take out the rest of the army.
There is another, more subtle danger associated with the use of hydras, they are insanely expensive and only have a map movement of one. While building a fearsome force of 20 or so of these may seem like a good idea for an army, a player runs the danger of investing to much into a single army with limited strategic mobility. With sufficient planning, it can work. Equipping some mages with snake rings (though Pythium lacks native nature mages) and having them cast buffs such as body ethereal and flight can turn a powerful unit into a much harder to kill unit. Yet, each hydra will cost more in upkeep than an Arch Theurg. Thats money that could be spend on forts and mages delaying the “mid-game.” Worst case scenario, you spend several turns building up a hydra army, take more turns moving it to a front against another player, only to suddenly have that player become your ally as you are invaded on another front. So, you spend twice as many turns again moving the hydra army to the new front. Since they only cost 1 resource, hydras can pretty much be produced on demand to avoid paying upkeep. The player is advised to build them if they have a clear need and immediate use for them, but otherwise rely on production and principes to build armies wherever and whenever they are needed (such as initial expansion).

Battle Vestals: The noble female warriors who would do battle for the Emerald Empire. Unfortunately, they are inferior to the player's and his opponents regular infantry in so many ways they are not worth recruiting or building a bless around. The lack of any protection except for their shields (which are weaker normal shields, not the tower shields carried by most of the nation's infantry) is the biggest hurdle for them to overcome. The 15 protection provided by the shield is certainly not enough to reliably negate damage from any reasonable attacker. They do have better than average defense, but that does not make up for their many deficiencies in protection, HP, and damage. Build rarely or not at all.
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Old July 6th, 2009, 06:24 PM
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Default Re: OW's Guide to MA Pythium: Marx and Angels' Communion Manifesto

Pretender Design:

The goals with most pretender designs is to simultaneously enhance national strengths while shoring up weaknesses. With good mages and troops, but expensive castles and the need to build labs and temples, Pythium plays to strengths with positive scales, especially income and magic. Immobile pretenders are the most efficient ways to get good scales. On the flip side, Pythium really only has three magic paths covered well (Air, Astral, and Water), and only dips occasionally into fire. The solution to cover this weakness is a rainbow pretender, but this will leave a player with a weaker dominion score fewer positive scales. Getting a SC pretender is another option, but this is not recommended as it fails to address either the strengths or weaknesses of Pythium. Regardless of which route the player takes, Earth of at least level 4 is recommended. This reinvigoration bless benefits both Pythium's communions and their angelic summons.

Immobiles:

For maximum efficiency, there are two immobile chasises worth considering, the Oracle and the Blood Fountain. Since the central purpose in either is to give Pythium the best possible scales, setting the immobile to sleep or imprisoned is a worthwhile way to more get points. For reference sake, know that adding a new path on a mobile costs 40 points, and to raise it to level 4, 112 points total, nearly three scale clicks.

The Oracle: With a base cost of zero and a base dominion of 4, this is a great way for the player to achieve the best scales in his MP game. However, its base magic is Astral-3, and Pythium already has Astral magic in excess. However, if the player puts Earth magic on their Pretender as recommended, the combination is actually great for Pythium. Earth and Astral combine to allow the Oracle to forge Crystal Coints (+1 Astral magic), Crystal Matrices and Collars (auto-cast Communion Master and Communion Slave, either allowing non-Astral mages to join communions or allowing communion masters to get their spell off a turn earlier), and a large variety of useful equipment. Of course, a high level Astral mage is always useful. If the player increases the Oracle's Astral to level 6, then he only requires the three miscellaneous Astral boosters to be able to cast Wish. The oracle can also be teleported onto armies to cast Master Enslave. Unfortunately, the Magic Resistance bonus provided by an Astral Bless cannot raise it past 18, the default for Angels, so the bless utility of Astral is almost non-existent. Also, the player should keep in mind that the oracle cannot equip Dwarven hammers, so the expensive Astral forging should in general be done by Arch-Theurgs.

The Blood Fountain: Similar to the Oracle in most ways, except the Blood fountain has a base Blood magic of 3 instead of the Oracle's Astral. The Fountain also has a fear aura, but its unlikely that this aura will ever be used. The real advantage for the Fountain is a bonus to blood hunting. Even with Blood at the base 3, the Fountain will typically capture over 10 slaves a turn, presuming patrollers keep unrest at 0. This is the easiest and quickest way for a nation like Pythium to break into blood magic. The combination of Blood and Earth lets the Fountain forge Blood stones, which provides a double whammy in helping Pythium break into Earth magic, better than an Oracle could. Another obvious use for blood slaves is to forge boots of youth, which stop the aging process and prevents afflictions due to old age (provided the mage wears the boots before the regularly scheduled check in the winter). For these reasons, the Blood Fountain is recommended before the Oracle, though both are primarily a vehicle for positive scales.

The Sphinx and the Statue: These are also very similar to the Oracle, with the basic trade off being a slightly higher initial cost in exchange for more HP. Indeed, the Sphinx has a base of 500 HP, the highest in the game. Neither, however, is recommended. Not for the slight additional cost, but because they have a mere 1 or 2 miscellaneous item slots versus the Oracle and the Fountain's 4. Also, the Sphinx is completely immobile and cannot change locations even with Teleport, which the Oracle can, and thus will never be used in battle except when the empire is already lost making the excess HP meaingless.

Rainbows:

For this section, I am only going to discuss the different chaises briefly. The real decision in creating a rainbow is what paths the player choses for him or her and to what level he or she raise them. Hence, individual paths will be discussed under their own section. The player should feel free to apply what is written to about these paths to any other Pretender build, even Super Combatants which are not recommended by this guide.

Air: Arch Theurgs grant the player Air-3, with only a 2.5% chance of Air-4. Putting Air-4 on the Pretender allows both Air bosters to be forged. Still, Air is not recommended as its to much a redundancy. When it comes to casting higher level Air magic, Pythium has other options, namely Power of the Spheres or Communions. Upon reaching Construction-6, a properly boosted Arch Theurg can forge a Ring of Wizardry, which boosts Air as well as all other magic paths, allowing for the first Air Booster to be forged, which itself allows further Air boosters to be made.

Astral: Like Air, this path is usually redundant on a Pretender. The Oracle allows higher levels of Astral making endgame casting easier, but for the most part Arch Theurgs will handle all Astral magic needs. The one exception to this is a pretender that already has Earth Magic, Astral and Earth magic make a potent combination.

Blood: Pythium is not a blood nation, and should not be thought of as a blood nation even if the player does choose the Blood Fountain. Some guides suggests becoming a blood nation is as easy as getting the first 50 slaves. Certainly this allows a unit to be empowered so he or she can blood hunt efficiently. However, real blood nations do not need to pay 50 blood slaves every time they want a hunter. Furthermore, the very act of blood hunting comes at a cost, it takes a mage away from research and usually the province that is being hunted looses income. Both are stinkers for Pythium. Still, a little bit of blood magic can go a long way. Boots of Youth look great on the ever aging Theurgs and Arch-Theurgs. Blood magic also yields a variety of summons to diversify Pythium's angelic lineup and save on pearls. There is also one incredible spell for communions: Reinvigoration. It sets the casters fatigue to zero, but when cast by a Master in a Communion, reduces all slaves fatigue to zero as well. Sabbath Master and Slave are blood spell equivalents letting blood mages join communions. Just remember Blood Magic can never be anything more than a side show for Pythium.

Death: This branch of magic has the distinction of offering numerous death mages for summoning. Once you get your first death mage and a slight supply of death gems, he can cast Dark Knowledge and start site searching. Putting Death magic on your Pretender (no more than 3 levels) is a good way to break into Death magic, but is not as important as Earth. On a side note, empowering a Fire-1 Arch Theurg lets him build Flaming Skulls, a fire boosters then allows the player to remotely search for fire sites.

Earth: I consider this the one indispensable path for Pythium. Pythium has no native Earth mages, and Dwarven Hammers (Earth-3) are very useful for a nation planning on forging expensive items (such as Rings of Sorcery and Wizardry). Furthermore, Earth-4 gives the 2 reinvigoration bless. Thats really handy to have for communions, and with the right gear your angelic summons will not need separate reinvigoration items to be effective as thugs or SC's. Anything above 4 is gravy for the bless and possibly endgame globals like Forge of the Ancients.

Fire: Fire-1 on a quarter of Arch Theurgs is not that great. However, the need for fire is not that great either. I recommend skipping this path in favor of summoning an Arch Angel down the road (which comes with Fire-4). Only Astral-5 and 50 pearls required to cast it, which is a lot cheaper for Pythium than the design points.

Nature: Pythium has no native Nature mages, but Nature is the only magic path that can be reliably found on independent mages, though only at the N-1 level. That being said, using a Ring of Sorcery gets the indy mage to Nature-2, where he can forge the Thistle Mace booster allowing him to remotely site search, forge more Maces, or forge a number of useful nature items. A small Nature bless for the regeneration is handy on Angelic thugs, but should be a low priority.

Water: Theurgs and Arch-Theurgs have this path covered well enough for Pythium's basic needs. At Water-4, Angels get a small defensive bonus, but Angels rely on other defensive mechanism and are helped marginally by this bonus. The only important water synergy is with nature for the construction of Clams, but this can be achieved by empowering an independent Nature mage and summoning Naiads for additional clamming duties. Still, might be worthwhile on a Rainbow pretender to have 2 or 3 to jump start having a water income.
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Old July 6th, 2009, 06:24 PM
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Default Re: OW's Guide to MA Pythium: Marx and Angels' Communion Manifesto

*reserved for later additions*
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Old July 7th, 2009, 06:18 AM

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Default Re: OW's Guide to MA Pythium: Marx and Angels' Communion Manifesto

Quote:
A small Nature bless for the regeneration is handy on Angelic thugs, but should be a low priority.
Don't you think a regen bless helps diseased arch theurgs survive a long time? Bringing in a diseased arch theurg to battle where his regen will give him all his hp back can make them much more durable.
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Old July 7th, 2009, 07:17 AM

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Default Re: OW's Guide to MA Pythium: Marx and Angels' Communion Manifesto

And, possibly more importantly, you can prevent them from dying by giving them just a shroud for 3 gems.
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Old July 7th, 2009, 08:58 AM
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Default Re: OW's Guide to MA Pythium: Marx and Angels' Communion Manifesto

Might also be worth pointing out that once you've got a wish capable caster, wish + GoR (if you've got a decent N income) is cheaper than the base 144 pearls for a Seraph.
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Old July 7th, 2009, 02:17 PM

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Default Re: OW's Guide to MA Pythium: Marx and Angels' Communion Manifesto

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Originally Posted by Stavis_L View Post
Might also be worth pointing out that once you've got a wish capable caster, wish + GoR (if you've got a decent N income) is cheaper than the base 144 pearls for a Seraph.
True, but it should also be pointed out that the Seraph summon comes with 3 Harbringers, who can all be GoR-ed, hence saving on the 75 Astral gems it would take to summon three of them individually. Good if you have a whack of nature gems going spare.
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Old July 8th, 2009, 11:15 PM

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Default Re: OW's Guide to MA Pythium: Marx and Angels' Communion Manifesto

Quote:
Originally Posted by LDiCesare View Post
Quote:
A small Nature bless for the regeneration is handy on Angelic thugs, but should be a low priority.
Don't you think a regen bless helps diseased arch theurgs survive a long time? Bringing in a diseased arch theurg to battle where his regen will give him all his hp back can make them much more durable.
Actually this trick hasn't been working for me recently. did for awhile. Can you confirm it still does?
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Old July 8th, 2009, 11:45 PM

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Default Re: OW's Guide to MA Pythium: Marx and Angels' Communion Manifesto

i regularly use shrouds to keep diseased mages alive. Out of combat their hit points will stay constant, pretty sure they heal up fully during combat but would need to check to be 100% sure
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Old July 8th, 2009, 11:53 PM

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Default Re: OW's Guide to MA Pythium: Marx and Angels' Communion Manifesto

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i regularly use shrouds to keep diseased mages alive. Out of combat their hit points will stay constant, pretty sure they heal up fully during combat but would need to check to be 100% sure
Its only the in combat question I wonder about.
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