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Old September 17th, 2010, 04:00 PM
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Default Better Know a Pretender.. Type: Rainbows

The true harvest of my life is intangible - a little star dust caught, a portion of the rainbow I have clutched” - Henry David Thoreau

OK, this is not going to be an in depth guide. Rather, it is a broad, albeit long overview of the Pretenders commonly called Rainbows. A Rainbow Pretender typically has somewhere from 3 to 8 magic paths, but only 1-4 levels in each path, rarely 6. This means Rainbows have a tremendous amount of variety. However, the physical forms for which such a diversity focused build is most affordable are typically ill suited for combat and can die easily.

That being stated, a Rainbow is typically a veteran's pretender choice. The major advantages he or she or it provide a nation need experience to harness, and the weaknesses such a choice brings require careful planning to avoid dangerous pitfalls.

Site searching:

Have you ever thought that your position in the game would be a heck of a lot stronger if you were getting another 20 or so gems per turn? Now, you can start getting those right off the bat! Send a pretender out to manually site search, especially if the pretender has 4 or more paths, and your odds of finding sites from the git-go goes way up! OK, 20 gems per turn in the first year is a bit on the optimistic side, but the point remains: Rainbow Pretenders give the player more gems and pearls!

Hence, games with increased site frequency make a Rainbow Pretender much more desirable. The difference of 10% in site frequency translates roughly into an extra site every two provinces. Now, if you are playing a game with really high site frequency, like say 60%, that means roughly 2 and a half sites per province. Your Rainbow will have your nation rolling in gems.

There are other points to consider when site searching. For starters, terrain type modifies site frequency. Swamps and wastelands have a 20% chance for extra sites, mountains (including border mountains) have an extra 10%, while farmlands actually reduce site frequency by 20%. Thus, plan your site searching optimally. This includes realizing there is a maximum of 4 sites per province, and in provinces where a site or two is already found the odds for any more being found are small. Next, note that Blood sites are very rare with the exception of the Arena which requires to site searching to be revealed. Hence, adding blood magic to the pretender for the purpose of site searching is not efficient. Finally, the vast majority of sites, probably over 90%, only require 2 levels in a path to be found. Level 4 sites are very, very rare, probably less than 1%. Hence, to site search most efficiently, a Rainbow pretender just needs 2 or 3 level

Battlefield Power:

I am putting this section second to emphasize how often it is overlooked. How can one little, bitty mage make a huge difference on the battlefield? It is all about spell selection. Now, trying to cast evocations probably is not worthwhile. By midgame enemies will be fielding armies backed by a lot of evocation mages. Even if the Pretender can cast more powerful spells at a higher level, it is hard to pull ahead when the opponent just needs to recruit another mage to come out ahead.

However, there are a handful of spells that can change the battlefield that require 6 levels of research or less. For example, Wind Guide and Flaming Arrows require Alteration-4 and Enchantment-4 respectively. These spells combine to make archers a lot more deadly. However, some nations with good archer unit types cannot cast both these spells, but a Pretender might be able to. Conversely, Storm, found at Evocation-5, weakens archers considerably. If a non-Air nation has a

Also consider the spells Anti-Magic and Relief. This list is not comprehensive.

Assisting National Mages:

Late Age Man has an occasional Death-1 mage, the Judge. There is not a lot Man, or any nation, can do with just Death-1 mages. Ah, but if the Pretender comes with Death-2 or Death-3, new doors open. When the Pretender site searches, it will hopefully discover some sites that generate death gems. Enough death income, and those Judges with Death magic can remotely site search with Dark Knowledge (which only requires Death-1). After researching some Construction, the Pretender can forge a Skull Staff and give it to the Judge to bring him to Death-2 where a lot more Rituals and spells come available, including forging Horror Helms and more Skull Staffs.

Now, a Rainbow Pretender can be this kind of enabler not just for Death magic, but any other magic paths your national mages need a little help with. Have Fire mages but no Death magic? Put both on your Rainbow and forge Skulls of Fire. They are a heck of a lot cheaper than Flame Helmets and do not cause fatigue damage every round of combat. My personal favorite is putting Astral and Earth on a Pretender. This gives a nation potential access to ton of great gear including Crystal Coins (+1 Astral), Crystal Shields (Auto casts Power of the Spheres in battle for +1 to every path, great for Rainbows), Crystal Matrices to let non-Astral and non-Blood mages participate in communions, and a smörgåsbord of other possible forges including some artifacts. If nothing else, having Earth 2 or 3 means forging Dwarven Hammers which can save a ton of gems in the long run.

Warning, a Pretender's time is very valuable. The player should plan out what he or she will be doing several turns in advance, and rarely should he do something a national mage could do. Look for ways to give your troops, your mages, and your nation an advantage.

Minor or Spectrum Blesses:

Most Rainbow Pretenders will want at least two in a path they are buying for maximum site searching efficiency. This costs 26 points on the most common Rainbow chassises. To go from there to four costs an additional 54 points. To do that twice, 108 points; thrice, 162. This will be less overall if one of the paths is a default on the Pretender. In contrast, it costs 224 points to buy 7 paths to presumably bring a different chassis up to 9 for the high bless bonus. Hence, for nations with good sacred units that the player none the less does not want to invest heavily in for a powerful bless, can do very well picking up some minor blesses on top of a Rainbow.

For an example, let us look a Knight of the Chalice, a powerful heavy cavalry unit available to Middle Age Marignon. Marignon has a great Pretender Chassis, the Baphomat, to buy a Fire-9 and Astral-9 bless. However, neither path does much to help Marignon in the long term, as the Knights require a lot of resources to produce, are capital only, and Fire and Astral are two paths that Marignon already has well covered. However, instead of giving up on the Knights all together, a few small blesses can make them more effective. Try Water-4, which gives them +2 defense. All mounted units get a free +3 defense, so this stacks to make the unit even harder to hit and kill. Since the Knights also get two attacks per round, adding a small Fire-4 bless makes sure those hits connect more often increasing their offense.

Yet, some of the biggest beneficiaries of a minor bless are sacred commanders. For example, Earth-4 and Nature-4 give +2 reinvigoration and 10% regeneration, respectively. This can be a great combination for thugs like the Sidhe Lord of Tir na n'Og. That Regeneration Nature-X provides is also very useful for nations with old mages. Adding a Shroud of the Saint gives any unit regeneration, which stops the unit from loosing any more HP due to disease. It also lets the unit restore his HP every time he enters battle. For back field mages, Death-4 makes a naiton's sacred mages' evocations even deadlier with a 100% chance of afflictions.

Even Blood-4, for all the grief Blood gets as a bless option, increases strength by +2. In the hands of a Flagellant who gets two attacks per round, this translates into even more extra damage.

In contrast, watch out for Astral and Air. These bless paths are generally weak and hard to find a use for on the lowest levels. Also, keep in mind the best minor blesses synergize with the other uses of a Rainbow Pretender. In this way, even Air-4 has its uses as the only Air boosters require Air-4 to forge.

Rituals, Globals, and more Diversity:

To go back to Late Age Man, this nation has to peculiar trait of having half of its capital gem income be Nature gems. That would not be peculiar except Man has no Nature mages! So, those gems accumulate, waiting for a purpose. A player could recruit an independent Nature-1 mage, trade for a Thistle Mace, and use him to forge and site search. This is a fine way to spend those gems. However, a Nature-4 or higher Pretender can do better. Doing its own site searching he or she can increase the Nature gem income. Then come midgame he or she can cast Mother Oak, possibly requiring a Thistle Mace to do so, for even more Nature gems. Letting independent mages in on the fun is a good idea at this point, if not sooner. Ah, but there is more. Man, without any Nature mages, is now in a great position to cast Gift of Health. Gift of Health keeps its old age mages alive, so say nothing of high HP units overall.

So, long story short some nations have the gems to cast great rituals or globals, but do not easily do so with their own national mages. The game for the most part only gives each magic path 2 boosters, and most nations have only mages as high as path-3 with access to build to one of the boosters. A Rainbow Pretender can help a nation fill those gaps. Spells to consider are most of the gen generators such as Mother Oak, and the Elemental Royalty summons. These spells largely require 5 levels in a magic path which can put them out of reach of most nations, even nations that otherwise have a strong base in that magic path. Also consider Perpetual Storm, Contact Naiad, Murdering Winter, Maelstorm, Troll King's Court, Forge of the Ancients, Wrath of God, Golem Construction, Eyes of God, Burden of Time (the world will hate you for it), Contact Lamia Queen, Faerie Court, Gift of Reason, Curse of Blood, Tartarian Gate, and the various “dome” spells to keep hostile magic at bay.

Now, Dominions is a pretty randomized game. The player can never be sure what sort of gem income he will have. I can recall games where I wanted was a few Air or Nature sites, only to keep finding more Death or Astral sites. A well rounded Rainbow Pretender will always have a way to use excess gems. Or, it can make sure your national mages do by forging difficult cross-path boosters. Furthermore, several of those spells I listed above are great for increasing diversity. For example, building Clams of Pearls can be a great way to ensure a powerful endgame by giving a player a larger Astral Pearl income. However, if only the pretender can forge the clams, this is not a good use of his or her or its time. Casting Contact Naid gives the nation a Water-3, Nature-3 mage who can not only forge Clams, but comes with Nature-3 while only requiring Nature-1 (and Water-3) to cast.

None of these strategies are specific to Rainbow type Pretenders. However, a well planned Rainbow will be able to do multiple of these things. Going back to the previous paragraph, the random nature of Dominions means a player cannot be sure which strategy would be most viable, or where in the game he will need help. Thus, the Rainbow more than any other pretender type is about managing risk and creating opportunity.

Early Researcher:

Most Rainbows will end up with about 20 points of research per turn, with the Sage coming in with about 30. If the Rainbow does nothing else, it can accumulate 100 points in 5 turns, enough to reach level-2 in any research path. For example, Alteration-2 lets a nation cast Mirror Image, Barkskin, Personal Luck, Stoneskin, and Personal Quickness. A nation with recruitable thug quality mages can start expanding with them, especially if given the right minor bless. Construction-2 is another obvious goal. Thau-2 also unlocks a lot of the remote site searching spells.

Longterm, just a handful of high level mages will equal a Rainbow's research ability. So, do not expect to be able to out research an opponent on the basis of having a Rainbow alone. Those fast expansion players may have more gold than you and thus, ultimately, more mages and research. Short term, nothing out researchers a Rainbow.

Awake or Asleep:

An imprisoned Rainbow is almost worthless. By the time he is freed most of the advantages he brings would have already been needed. An exception to this might be a player who wants to focus on a spectrum bless, such as Niefel Giants who can do very well with Nature-4/6, Earth-4/6, and a little extra such as Water-4 and Fire-4 to help also give Niefel Jarls some extra killing power. Yet, for most nations the choice is really between an awake or asleep rainbow.

Unlike a Super Combatant, a Rainbow does not really gain much by being awake. Whether he is available on Turn-12 or Turn-1, he does pretty much the same thing: site search until retiring to ritual and forging duties unless needed to buff an army.

That being stated, the nation does lose much by putting a Rainbow asleep. By the time the sleeping Pretender awakens, the awake one will have searched up to 6 or more provinces. This can be important if the player's national strategy demands a certain gem type not given by capital sites. Remember, while the Rainbow will find magic sites, there is no guarantee that it will find the type the player wants in good time. This comes back to risk management. By starting earlier, the player positions himself to get what he needs before he needs it, not after. If a Rainbow awakens on Turn-12, it might take a year of site searching before finding the right site types. The game can be unforgiving that way.

Thus, it all comes down to opportunity costs. An awake Rainbow is worth two asleep. Or rather it is worth 150 design points. The player must decide what he is getting with these points are worth it. Adding more paths that a nation does not have? Probably worth it. Going from Misfortune-2 to Luck-2? Probably not worth it.

Some Specific Rainbow Options:

Crone (0 points): A great starting point for any Pretender design that wants Death and Nature magic. The Crone lacks a chest slot, so no Robe of the Sea water booster. However, her four Miscellaneous slots more than make up the difference. See my Better Know Pretender write up for more.

Arch Mage (30 points): A mounted Rainbow with starting Fire Magic. Sacrifices a Feet item slot in exchange for great mobility (Strategic Movement of 3). The lack of feet means no Earth Boots.

Freak Lord (40 points): A mounted Rainbow who like the Arch Mage lacks feet, but also has an extra Miscellaneous Slot. This chassis is not recommended, see my Better Know a (Bad) Pretender thread for more.

Great Sage (35 points): Gets an Research bonus of 8, making him the go to chassis for Pretender Designs that want an early research bump. He comes with Astral Magic.

Great Enchantress (55 points): Another popular choice due to her base paths of Astral and Earth and the fact she generates an Astral Pearl every turn.

Frost Father (55 points): Comes with cold immunity and base paths in Water and Air. A solid choice for those paths.

Master Lich (100 points): A non-traditional, undead Rainbow Chassis. Comes with immortality, Death‑3, and a 3rd Miscellaneous item slot. Adding paths cost 20 points instead of 10. Combat stats very inferior to even human Rainbows. Despite high costs, the Master Lich remains very popular due to the advantages immortality and a 3rd slot bring.

Ghost King (120 points): An expense semi-Rainbow chassis. Undead like the Master Lich minus the immortaliy, but high defense, Etherealness, and Fear make the Ghost King a viable Super Combatant. Comes with Death-3 and new paths cost 20 points. He spawns Ghosts based on strength of Dominion.

Rainbow Design in Action:

This section is going to discuss a case study for designing a Rainbow Pretender. I have chosen Early Age Niefelheim for this section. While a Rainbow build is not as obvious a strategy as a high level bless, Niefelheim benefits tremendously from the diversity, early research start, and gem income.

For starters, this is an Early Age nation, and the higher site frequency alone makes a Rainbow more worthwhile. Then, Niefelheim, has a recruitable unit, the Niefel Jarl, that is easily converted to a thug or SC. However, that transformation does require a few spells, gems for equipment, and a bless.

Now, the first thing to consider with Rainbow design is avoiding national redundancy. Below is a ranking of magic available to Niefelheim. Any ranking that depends on a 10% path chance is ignored, so those are to unlikely to be counted on.

Gem Income: Water-4, Death-2
Astral-1, easy, Astral-2, uncommon
Air-1, common, but capital only
Blood-3, easy, Blood-4, uncommon
Death-3, easy
Earth-0, entirely unavailable
Fire-0, entirely unavailable
Nature-2, easy, Nature-3, uncommon.
Water-3, easy, Water-4, uncommon.

Clearly, Water, Nature, Death, and Blood are well covered by national mages. However, Astral and Air magic are barely present. Fire and Earth are not present at all. These last paths are important. Niefel Jarls are weak to Fire magic and only a Pretender can forge immunity equipment. Earth is useful for forging Dwarven Hammers to save gems on equipping those Niefel Jarls. Air is needed to forge and lightning immunity equipment for Jarls.

Thus, looking at paths alone, I recommend the following,

A Great Enchantress (55 points) with...

Astral-4 (48 points)
Air-2 (26 points)
Earth-4 (48 points)
Fire-2 (26 points)
Nature-4 (82 points)

Wait, what? Nature-4? Did I not say Nature was already covered and thus not needed on a Niefel Rainbow? Ah, but I did earlier say that Niefel Jarls could use a bless to better help them serve as Super Combatants. That Nature-4 bless gives sacred units 10% regeneration. On a Neifel Jarl, that comes to 8 Hit Points a round. Not bad. This is also why I recommend Earth-4, it provides 2 Reinvigoration points a round. That is not a lot, especially with Personal Quickness doubling fatigue. However, with either an Amulet of Resilience (+5 Reinvigoraiton) or Boots of the Messenger (+4 Reinvigoration), fatigue becomes a lot more manageable allowing the Jarl to keep dishing out death indefinitely. However, that equipment costs gems, and unless Niefel finds Nature gems early, he cannot forge this equipment. Putting Nature on the Rainbow assists this

The decision to put Astral on the Rainbow is easy. Astral magic provides Luck and Anti-Magic equipment, but Niefel does not have a native Astral gem income and may need to recruit many Gygja before lucking into one with Astral-2. Thus, a Rainbow searching for Astral sites primes the national pump along side the Great Enchantress's native Pearl income. Now, Astral-2 or Astral-3 is all that is really required for site searching. However, Astral-4 leaves the door open for Wings of Wizardry and Sorcery. Plus, with some empowerment, Wish. This gives Niefelheim an easier endgame.

Air and Fire have just enough to find roughly 90% of all sites of those paths. Air can later be used to forge flying shoes. Alternatively, Air-4 could be purchased instead of 2. This would let Air boosters be forged. However, with Astral-4, the universal Ring boosters can serve a similar function.

Now, an final important consideration is how to expand. Remember, few Rainbow chassis have any skill in combat, especially before Research is conducted. This is where the remaining skill points comes into play.

Awake (0 points)
Dominion: 6 (105)
Order: 3 (120)
Sloth: 3 (+120)
Growth: 3 (120)
Cold: 3 (+120)
Misfortune: 2 (+80)
Magic: 1 (40)
Points Left Over: 0

Order and Growth combine to give Niefel a lot of gold short term and long term. Considering the high cost of Niefelheim's mages, this is important. Growth also keep Gygja alive and keep population levels high for blood hunting. The expansion strategy will rely on Skinshifters, which cost 80 gold and 5 resources. With that ratio of gold to resources, gold will almost certain be the limiting factor in recruiting them. Hence, Sloth-3. Due to Niefelheim's scale preference, Cold-3 is obvious. Misfortune and Magic are the trade offs. Niefelheim's mages are very expensive due to their high HP, which to be fair is a great thing to have. Unfortunately, that means Niefelheim has trouble competing in research with other nations. Magic-1 helps them do this, but it may be a lost cause anyways, and it only improves the average researcher by 12%. Misfortune is about grabbing points to place elsewhere, pure and simple. However, Niefelheim does have terrible PD, which means random barbarian attacks will usually take unfortified provinces. Also, this means fewer gold and gem events. Remember, the player can adjust to taste.


I am at this point out of things to say. So, I merely hope this has been informative. Enjoy!

Other tips:

-Twice Born (requires Death-2) is a great spell for Rainbows to cast. It lets them come back to “life” as a wight with more HP should they die within friendly Dominion.

-Ritual of Returning can serve a similar function

-Try different physical forms to figure out which one is the cheapest. Typically, buying four in any path is the most expensive part of a Rainbow's costs, and thus matching paths is the way to save points.

-Dominion represents a risk for any build. Buy too little, and the player may just risk Dominion death. A higher base Dominion score makes it easier to push Dominion, which brings a host of miscellaneous benefits. However, most Rainbows only start with Dominion-1, and buying to much Dominion means less points. A rule of thumb is Dominion-5 is the minimum any player wants.

-When site searching, position the Rainbow on the back of the field scripted to retreat is a strong safe guard against unlucky barbarian attacks or opportunistic enemy raiders.

-Putting a shield and a Lucky Pendant on a Pretender is a cheap way to boost his survivability in battle. Some low encumbrance armor helps as well. Loosing a Rainbow to a stray arrow is very painful.
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Old September 17th, 2010, 04:56 PM
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Default Re: Better Know a Pretender.. Type: Rainbows

Master Lich has base dom value 3. This make him not so expensive
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Old September 17th, 2010, 04:57 PM
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Default Re: Better Know a Pretender.. Type: Rainbows

You talk about forging a good bit, but it doesn't get its own section. I'm not sure if it deserves one or not, but I'd in my mind part of choosing a rainbow is getting access to items that you cannot otherwise obtain. The minimum paths you need to forge everything in the game are:

Air 3
Astral 3
Blood 2
Death 1
Earth 2
Fire 2
Nature 2
Water 1

Forge Earth Boots (+1 Earth)
Forge Dwarven Hammer (no path increase but significant reduction in item costs)
Forge Starshine Skullcap (+1 Astral)
Forge Crystal Coin (+1 Astral)
Forge Ring of Sorcery (+1 Astral, Blood, Death, Nature)
Forge Ring of Wizardry (+1 to all paths)

The Ring of Wizardry gives you Air 4 to make Air boosters. The Ring of Sorcery and Ring of Wizardry give you Blood 4 to make Blood boosters. DO NOT equip the Armor of Twisting Thorns on your pretender because you cannot take it off. The Ring of Sorcery and Ring of Wizardry allow you to forge Death boosters with a Dwarven Hammer. Without them you have to forge the Skull Staff and Skullface without a hammer because the Skull Staff requires both hands. The combination of Fire and Death allow you to forge a Skull of Fire, and the Ring of Wizardry gets you to Fire 4 to make the Flame Helmet. After the Thistle Mace, you can make the Moonvine Bracelet and/or the Armor of Twisting Thorns, plus the Ring of Sorcery which gets you to Nature 5. The Water Bracelet and Ring of Wizardry allow you to forge the Robe of the Sea.

From here you can forge the Robe of the Magi by wearing the Winged Helmet, both rings, and a Blood Thorn. That gives you access to a huge list of spells and the ability to forge every artifact in the game as far as I know, since no artifacts have a path requirement higher than 6.
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Old September 17th, 2010, 04:57 PM
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Default Re: Better Know a Pretender.. Type: Rainbows

A very informative guide.

I'm curious, what is your opinion of the other semi-rainbows and/or 3 path variety pretenders like the Lord of Rebirth, Jade Emperor, Lawgiver, Smoking Mirror, etc, where available. Or is that in another guide, planned for future discussion.

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-Emperor Septimius Severus, to his sons shortly before his death, quoted in Dio Cassius (77.15.2).
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Old September 17th, 2010, 05:42 PM
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Default Re: Better Know a Pretender.. Type: Rainbows


I didn't talk about forging boosters since there is another guide somewhere that does the same thing. Probably should have included a link, that is good info to have when designing a rainbow. More importantly, I do NOT want novices thinking about Rainbows in terms of "minimum" paths for forging boosters. I want them to think about a Rainbow in relation to everything it can do for a nation. For example, Water-1 means missing over 50% of Water sites, and cannot be boosted until Construction-6. In contrast, Clams can be forged much earlier, if the proper research is done and the right paths are set up. Or, what is the value of +2 defense for sacred units? Or, if the nation is a blood nation, its probably cheaper to empower to Blood-2 than spend pretender points in it.

@Septimius Severus: Honestly, I am not sure I ever used any of those Pretenders you listed. Regardless, I only wanted to list the most widely available and commonly used Rainbow chassises. So, no ***** Queen or Divine Emperor, either. However, much of the advice remains the same. First, make sure there is a way to expand. Then, pick up paths that accomplish what National mages cannot. Keep the Rainbow Awake if possible, but if there is a clear benefit to be had, Asleep is acceptable. Finally, find the cheapest way to accomplish this. Anything else is up to the initiative of the player.
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Old September 17th, 2010, 10:04 PM
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Default Re: Better Know a Pretender.. Type: Rainbows

just a quick correction. N4 gives 5% regen. Nature 6 is required for a 10% bless.
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Old September 25th, 2010, 04:20 AM

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Default Re: Better Know a Pretender.. Type: Rainbows

In CBM, master druid has stealth which can be very handy to keep your enemy from ambushing your pretender while he searches. In addition, he starts with N and E which are usually very nice minor blesses (i.e. set N and E to 4, other rainbow paths to 2 or 3).
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