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Old February 7th, 2010, 05:09 PM
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Preface

Okey dokey artichokie, here’s the Grand Strategic Overview:

Tophats is an 11 person MA CBM game on an unusual map. The map is a planetary wrap-around with a bunch of islands connected by underground (cave province) tunnels. All 3 underwater nations are here. It’s a game for Gentlemen, so no lying, cheating, backstabbing, or other such fun is allowed.

The map, with start locations in red:
Click image for larger version

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I have, in my infinite wisdom, volunteered to play MA Oceania in this game. If you’re unfamiliar with the big O, it’s almost universally agreed upon to be the weakest nation in the game. Viable strategies have been developed, strongly recommend check out Baalz guide, but I’m not holding out much hope for victory in this one. Which is totally fine by me, as I hate late game micromanagement hell, and I want to be eliminated by Spring anyways Live fast, die young, that’s going to be Oceania’s mantra in Tophats.

But victory is surely possible. By the game’s rules, I only need 4 capitals to win, which is a relatively low number, and certainly achievable for me since all 3 underwater nations are participating. If it’s going to happen, it’ll be by the following gameplan:

1)
Take over the entire ocean as soon as possible.
2) Keep those landlubbers in perpetual war, so they don’t get too powerful.
3) Execute a swift and overwhelming attack on the weakest land nation.
4) Be extremely lucky.

All this before the mindhunt factories come online, and I get microwaved off the map. What could be easier?

Fortunately, as Baalz points out, Oceania has all the right tools for a strong opening, and is pretty tough throughout the Early Game. I’ll be following his advice here: ichtycentaur expansion parties followed by Kelp Fortress hunting mermages (which apparently are still common in CBM, despite advertisements to the contrary - thanks Frozen Lama).

But apart from that I’ll be taking an unorthodox strategy for this game. By unorthodox, I mean I won’t explicitly be following the rest of Baalz guide. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great strategy, but there have been 2 big changes to CBM since it was written:

1)
Capricorns no longer lose -1 from all paths out of the water. They now only lose -1 from their Water skill only. This is a HUGE boon to the overall capability of the nation, no longer completely neutered of the water without X-formation.
2) Blood stones are now unique. This is a HUGE loss for Oceania, whose paltry earth magic was already hampered by a lack of feet in the water. This change really takes earth out of Oceania’s playbook.

So without Earth magic and with the addition of capable terrestrial artillery, we can break the Alteration mold for some other, less predictable approach. Aha! But of course! The saving spell for Oceania, the one that’s going to put a big +1 in the Hall of Fame is none other than Foul Vapors! (crickets)

OK, FV sure doesn’t seem to offer much for Oceania at first glance, but consider the following:

1)
It’s castable underwater (surprise!), just like its little brother Poison Cloud.
2) It’s a pretty devastating spell – a battlefield enchantment that poisons a good deal of the battlefield each round – without any Def or MR checks to save.
3) It’s only level 5, which is very low for such a potent spell, meaning it can be brought to bear relatively early in the game. Certainly long before widespread poison counters can be developed by Oceania’s aquatic rivals.
4) It’s in the same research tree as Regeneration & Poison Ward, which can be used to effectively negate the poison damage on small groups of elite troops (i.e. ichtycentaurs). Regen will also cut the number of poison-related boo-boos, and my troops can recuperate any that still happen.
5) It’s also in the same tree as Claymen, which have 100% poison immunity. With Regen and Mindlessness (take that R’lyeh!) they’re an absolute steal at 6 for 3W (using my mermages). Speaking of poison resistance, this tree also has Skellispam…
6) Most importantly, with the new CBM change, every Capricorn can cast it, on land or in the sea.

So I’ll be shooting hard and fast for Enchantment. Since I’m going to ignore Earth magic, there’s no real need to break into the Blood game, so I can safely ignore Lamia Queens. Further, no Alteration means no Mother Oak. Taken together, there’s really no need to take Baalz advice for excessive Nature on my pretender anymore. I like the Death LQs would have brought to the party, so I’ll be sure to have D + W on my pretender to work the Streams from Hades angle, though. A strong Death pretender like a Lich would be a good choice for late-game, but again, I don’t intend to be around that long
Plus, it’s not very thematic, a bunch of fishmen worshiping some undead corpse…not even sure how that’d work with the whole burial at sea thing. But the Old Man of the Sea I like: a gigantic, half-man, half-sea-serpent rising from the depths to claim godhood. Yup, I’d buy that.

Last edited by cleveland; February 7th, 2010 at 05:34 PM..
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