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Author Topic: Xvareon plays: Master of Magic (1994)  (Read 6503 times)

Xvareon

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Xvareon plays: Master of Magic (1994)
« on: September 05, 2018, 03:00:29 pm »

It's truly amazing that a game like this can remain relevant even in this modern day and age. It's even more astounding that I can't find anyone who's posted that much about it here on Bay 12. So, I've taken it upon myself to show you guys what MoM is, and what it's all about. I will be playing a full Death wizard for this run, so I hope you like seeing necromancer shenanigans.  8)

I will be using a lot of pictures & illustrations in this, but I'll be putting most of them under spoiler tags that you can open with a left-click.




Master of Magic is a vintage high fantasy-themed strategy game, in the same swords-and-sorcery vein that launched other successful titles like the Age of Wonders series. In many ways, MoM can be considered one of the OG fathers of them all. You play as a Wizard, a rare breed of spellcaster with the kind of power and level of ambition that lends itself to world-conquering and empire-building. You begin with just a single small town in a randomly generated map, a shelf full of spellbooks to research, and a burning desire to rule over everything you see. You are not alone in this world, either; the game supports up to 5 players, although unfortunately, multiplayer was never an official function -- you have to get a hotseat-enabling mod to go that far. Your goal is simple:  Conquer the world. Eliminate all opposing wizards. And establish yourself as the one, the true, Master of Magic.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
Let's start a new game. Here, you can see the startup screen. You've just gotta love the original textures and those cute little gargoyles! Anyway, here is where we set the parameters for generating a new world from scratch. Difficulty (Which I set to Hard), Opponents (Four, the max), Land Size (Large; more land to conquer), and Magic. The last of these is very important, because it allows you to set how valuable magical Nodes are ingame; Nodes are fonts of pure mana you can draw power from in order to cast spells. Each Node has its own area of influence around itself, which benefits units that are of a similar elemental alignment to the Node. Every tile covered by a Node represents mana it can generate; by default, this is 1, but I'm setting it to Powerful, which puts that at 1.5.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
Next, we select our Wizard. There are 14 pre-generated Wizards to choose from, or you can create your own Wizard from scratch, using one of their portraits as your face. This is significant because using a portrait belonging to a Wizard essentially removes them from the pool of randomly selected opponents you will face. Here, we see Rjak, a purely Death-aligned character with the Infernal Power retort. I will get to Retorts in a second, but first we have to select our Wizard. I am going to make one from the ground-up, just to give you guys a look into the creation process.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
Here, we can choose exactly how to make our Wizard. These choices will stick throughout the entire game, and there is no way to change them; you can't 'lose' books, or Retorts, etc.  However, you can find more spell books, and even more retorts, but only if you are very lucky in finding treasure in lairs and dungeon raids. Each Wizard is given a pool of 11 "picks" they can use to customize themselves.

Every spell book costs 1 pick. Spell books are vital because they give you access to magic belonging to any of the relevant five "Realms" of magic; Life, Death, Chaos, Nature, and Sorcery. Without any spell books, you can only cast Arcane spells, which are almost completely utility-oriented and very limited; i.e., dispels, and summoning Magic Spirits, which every Wizard can do from the start.

Retorts, the words in either beige or grayed-out text, are more dynamic. Retorts are the game's word for "Perks". They give your Wizard certain special abilities, talents, and tricks that are always passively active. A few of these can be accessed immediately, but the grayed-out ones require certain spell book picks be taken first, like Node Mastery, which needs you to have at least 1 spell book from the Chaos, Nature, and Sorcery realms. Since I am running a purely Death-aligned wizard, though, I am limited to whatever Retorts I can pick with a single-suited hand. Remember that Infernal Power retort from before, that the pregenerated Wizard Rjak had? Exclusive to Death wizards, that gives its holder double the mana and double the unrest-pacifying effects of religious structures & institutions built in cities. I don't take this perk because it costs 2 picks, and it takes far too much time to build up to really be useful. Instead, I take the Conjurer perk, plus Archmage, and a set of 9 Death spell books. Here is what I just bought.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
9 Death books. Every Realm has 40 spells, divided by 10 into different tiers; Common, Uncommon, Rare, and Very Rare. 9 books in any Realm gives access to all 10 commons and 10 uncommons, plus 9 of the rares, and 7 of the very rares. In addition, just having at least 8 books indicates a higher degree of understanding than most, and reduces the casting and research cost of all spells in that realm by 10% plus another ten for every book after; thus, 9 books is a nice 20% reduction. If I had taken the maximum, 11 books, not only would I have every single spell in that realm available for research, but I'd gain a whopping 40% discount on casting and research. But there is a very good reason why I'm only taking 9, and it has to do with the Retorts system.

Conjurer is the really fun one, the kind of thing necromancers salivate at. It gives me a -25% discount on casting and research costs of summoning-related spells; and since the Death realm has a LOT of summons at its fingertips -- gotta keep that skeleton army going, after all! -- this thing's gonna pay for itself in the long run. Even moreso because it does something that just having the books does not -- it shaves a quarter off the upkeep cost for all of my summons! The casting and research discount stacks with my Death books' discount for a -45% reduction, too, but only when I'm using summoning spells from the Death realm.

Archmage is what will make me more than just a bone-rattler, though. Let me explain what "skill" is, in gameplay terms. That means "casting skill". In this game, when you cast a spell, your casting skill is the maximum amount of mana you can pump into that spell every turn. Thus, if you're casting something that takes 50 mana, and your casting skill is 25, you'll take 2 turns to cast it. If you have significantly more skill than the spell takes, you can cast it immediately, in the same turn, without having to wait at all; although casting spells instantly does take away from how much else you can channel into other spells that turn. So, the Archmage perk does two things to help me there. First, it gives me a fat +10 to my base skill, which starts at 18, so now it's 28. That means I can pump 28 mana into spells per turn, as long as I have that much to spend. Second, it gives me a 1.5x bonus to increasing my casting skill. The last is much more complicated; in short terms, it's something that, when you allocate mana to it instead of to your mana reserves or to spell research, permanently increases your base casting skill so you can cast spells faster. So with that bonus in play, I'll be able to build up my spellcasting ability at a much, much more rapid rate, and that'll let me get my armies and enchantments out commensurately faster.

It also helps me by making my spells stronger and more resistant to dispels. In this game, with how dispels work, a spellcaster has to cast Dispel Magic on a unit with a spell on it, and if the mana they spent on that dispel is higher than the cost of the spell, it is removed. With Archmage, though, they have to spend TWICE as much as my spells cost in order to affect them at all! That means I get to throw curses around mid-battle and on the overland map with near-impunity from petty meddling Wizards! It is this combination of books and perks that will make me a superior necromancer.

With my Wizard finished, I now move on to picking my starting Race. This will affect the makeup of my starting city, and thus what kind of units and structures I'll be able to access.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
As you can see above, there's quite a few different races to choose from. I could go with the bloodthirsty barbarian tribes, the peaceful (yet scary with a sling) halflings, or the cultural trader mastermind nomads. Five of the races, the Myrran Races, are grayed out because I didn't take the Myrran perk during character creation. Ah, I should probably explain... Master of Magic is a game where you don't have just one World Map. You have two. There are two interconnected worlds, which can be accessed for travel in-between via special means. Arcanus, the primary plane, is an Earth-like world with a good, balanced ecosystem and fairly powerful magical nodes. Myrror, however... Myrror is a land of eternal dusk and night, with black seas and sweeping gray deserts, absolutely TEEMING with magic. Many of the races there can literally produce mana on their own just by living, and pass this energy on to the Wizard who controls their cities. The Nodes on Myrror are twice as powerful as those on Arcanus, and there are a number of special resources there that are completely unavailable to the first world. Thus, you can think of Myrror as the place to go if you need to absorb a powerful client race to build up your forces, or if you are just out adventuring and looking for powerful monsters to kill and treasure to loot. We will get to that place in due time, though. For now, we need to work through Arcanus. And I know just the race to help me do it.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
High Elves. Yes, I can hear you guys groaning through your screens. But bear with me, here. These aren't the pithy, tree-hugging yayhoos we're used to. Among their many racial bonuses -- including moving fast through forests, a +1 to-hit in combat, and very strong archers -- is the ability to create their own mana, to the tune of 1/2 per population. This is going to start stacking up FAST once I get expanding. And I need all the mana I can get to build my undead army.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
With that, we get to the final step in character creation:  Picking our banner. I decide to go with a nice, deep purple, to match my all-Death realm of play.

And... we are done! Join me next time for Turn 1 of this game! I look forward to showing you guys the gameplay!

Akura

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Re: Xvareon plays: Master of Magic (1994)
« Reply #1 on: September 05, 2018, 06:12:56 pm »

This is going to be... interesting. I haven't had as much success running Death as I do with my normal Life/Chaos combo. One thing to note is that Death users have a diplomatic penalty based on how many Death books they have - this amplified if the other person is a Life user(who normally get diplomacy bonuses). Conjurer/Archmage looks like a great combo for hordes of undead.

The Elves are an interesting pick. Do note that they have only have three other races besides themselves they have neutral unrest with - High Men, Nomads, and Haflings. Still, their army will wreck stuff - a base +1 to-hit bonus is pretty good, as there is a huge difference between 30% and 40%, plus you can probably bump that up with a ton of other effects. Also, every High Elf unit has Forester, and I think many have a higher-than-average Resistance. I tend to go High Men, and try to pick up Dark Elves once I get to Myrror - DE Warlocks get a free Doom Bolt per battle.

One thing you forgot to mention about casting skill is that it determines how many spells you can cast in battle as well: you can cast up to your skill level in spells' base costs(NOT mana spent on the spell, which is dependent on distance from your tower) every battle encounter - unlike Age of Wonders, casting in battle does not effect your casting spells in the overworld or other battles(other than having mana crystals to do so).
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Xvareon

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Re: Xvareon plays: Master of Magic (1994)
« Reply #2 on: September 05, 2018, 07:01:46 pm »

This is going to be... interesting. I haven't had as much success running Death as I do with my normal Life/Chaos combo. One thing to note is that Death users have a diplomatic penalty based on how many Death books they have - this amplified if the other person is a Life user(who normally get diplomacy bonuses). Conjurer/Archmage looks like a great combo for hordes of undead.

The Elves are an interesting pick. Do note that they have only have three other races besides themselves they have neutral unrest with - High Men, Nomads, and Haflings. Still, their army will wreck stuff - a base +1 to-hit bonus is pretty good, as there is a huge difference between 30% and 40%, plus you can probably bump that up with a ton of other effects. Also, every High Elf unit has Forester, and I think many have a higher-than-average Resistance. I tend to go High Men, and try to pick up Dark Elves once I get to Myrror - DE Warlocks get a free Doom Bolt per battle.

One thing you forgot to mention about casting skill is that it determines how many spells you can cast in battle as well: you can cast up to your skill level in spells' base costs(NOT mana spent on the spell, which is dependent on distance from your tower) every battle encounter - unlike Age of Wonders, casting in battle does not effect your casting spells in the overworld or other battles(other than having mana crystals to do so).
I've always had a lot of success running Death, because they have a pretty decent game as far as early expansion goes, especially if you have a mana-producing race like High Elves to counteract the upkeep costs of an undead army. My biggest success so far was actually quite recent, cracking open a Chaos Node and killing an Efreet with Life Drain. I then had an undead, firebolt-slinging, spellcasting genie on my side to wreck people with. Death is also one of the scariest realms in the late game if you can get enough power, because some of their summons are stupidly powerful, and their enchantments and global spells even moreso. One thing they don't tell you from the start is that Death magic has spells that specialize in manipulating mana and casting skill; specifically, they even have one that can completely nullify the magic power generated by a Node.

Ah, yes. Most spells in combat cost a lot less mana than those you cast overland, but you're a lot more limited by your spellcasting skill. This is why having other spellcasters under your control, like Heroes (another fun part of this game I hope to get to soon ^_^) with the appropriate ability can be very helpful, because they can do the same things you can -- they just can't cast spells overland. For those who are curious how increasing casting skill works, here is the actual math behind it. "Power" represents a Wizard's power base, which affects the amount of mana he can funnel into his mana reserve to cast spells, into spell research, or into increasing his spellcasting skill. For the latter purpose, all mana spent on increasing skill is referred to as power.

EDIT: Also, it's great to meet a fellow MoM player! Welcome, Akura!
EDIT: Another major reason Archmage is a good perk to take is because that extra +10 spell skill does not factor into the above calculations. This means that if you have 28 spell skill due to having Archmage, the game still only counts you as having 18 for the purposes of figuring out how much power investment is needed to gain another point of spell skill.
« Last Edit: September 05, 2018, 07:11:44 pm by Xvareon »
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NickAragua

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Re: Xvareon plays: Master of Magic (1994)
« Reply #3 on: September 05, 2018, 08:16:36 pm »

Are you using any of the fan-made patches (1.40, 1.50)? Or sticking to vanilla?
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Xvareon

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Re: Xvareon plays: Master of Magic (1994)
« Reply #4 on: September 05, 2018, 09:22:46 pm »

Are you using any of the fan-made patches (1.40, 1.50)? Or sticking to vanilla?
I'm using 1.40n.

Hanzoku

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Re: Xvareon plays: Master of Magic (1994)
« Reply #5 on: September 06, 2018, 02:49:19 am »

Ah yes, this will be fun to watch. I tend to play Dark Elves with at least a few life books, because Heroism is silly. Slap that on a starting unit or two, fire off the innate magic bolts at anything coming close and watch your Elite (or Ultra-Elite if you have Warlord) unit wipe them off the map and secure a quick expansion. Generally by the time any of the other Wizards even manage to break into Myrror, they run into an expansive Dark Elf Empire waiting for them.

One other thing about Myrror is because the magic is everywhere and in everything, any roads you build gain the fast movement enchantment that you have to research and cast up in Arcanus. It allows you to move for free along roads (and through cities), which leads to being able to shuttle a defense stack from one end of the empire to the other, freeing up a lot of units for offensive operations instead.
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Akura

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Re: Xvareon plays: Master of Magic (1994)
« Reply #6 on: September 06, 2018, 06:02:48 am »

I once lost a game starting on Myrror because raiders zoomed along pre-existing roads from outside my explored area right into my (shamefully undefended) fortress. I think the game had literally just started too.
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Khan Boyzitbig

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Re: Xvareon plays: Master of Magic (1994)
« Reply #7 on: September 06, 2018, 07:47:31 am »

Sounds like this will be interesting to keep an eye on. I do love a good bit of necromancy in games, you can never have enough skeletons and other undead things.
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Rockeater

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Re: Xvareon plays: Master of Magic (1994)
« Reply #8 on: September 06, 2018, 07:52:50 am »

I'll give it a read
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Xvareon

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Re: Xvareon plays: Master of Magic (1994)
« Reply #9 on: September 06, 2018, 04:31:57 pm »

The worlds have been generated, and the game has begun!

Every Wizard starts with one city. The very first thing to do is give it a name. As far as I know, the name will stick forever; I haven't found a way to edit it yet. Thus, it's a good idea to get it right the first time.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
Now, let's take a look at the city screen. I admit that I made a bit of a gaffe here and didn't screenshot it before I moved to turn 2, but I'll include the full-view picture at the end of this post. The first thing I'm going to do is order this city to build a Granary, which, since High Elf population growth is so very slow, will help out a lot with getting my power base growing.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
Notice the "Cost" value at the top of the building description. This is similar to the Civilization and Alpha Centauri games in that buildings cost "production points" to make, rather than money; unless you choose to "buy" the remaining production points needed to finish the building, which can be very expensive in terms of gold. Production is made by a city's populace. Currently, my city has 4 townsfolk, divided into 3 "Farmers" and 1 "Worker". Each Farmer makes 1/2 production, and each Worker makes 2. But Farmers are also needed to make Food, which supports a city's townsfolk (1 food per figure), and also supports combat units; this is why, even though I make 6 food with 3 farmers and could theoretically change one of them to a worker, I still need to keep one extra farming to support my 2 initial units. This is another reason why a Granary is a good starting build, because it produces 2 extra food on its own, equal to a farmer, which will let me reassign one to a worker to increase production rates.

On the subject of units, we have 1 unit of Spearmen, and 1 unit of Swordsmen from the start. Spearmen are a weaker kind, yet only cost food, while Swordsmen are stronger, but also cost 1 gold in upkeep per turn. There isn't much I can hope to do with these guys yet, because no way are they going to win any battles on their own. However, I can at least use them for scouting. Two good spots just so happen to be right next to my starting city:  A Sorcery Node; and an Ancient Ruin. The Node is interesting for two reasons. One, both Sorcery and Nature nodes can give a big boost to any city's population growth rate and maximum townsfolk, because they are supposed to be filled with either life-giving waters or a paradise of fruit-bearing trees and wild animals, respectively. Curiously, they can give these benefits even if there are still guardians present at the node. The Ancient Ruin is a different story. This is an Encounter Zone; a point on the map that contains hostile monsters to fight, and likely also treasure to find. Sometimes, these are even unguarded, letting me swoop right in and take the goodies. So, I send my Spearmen out to go investigate.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
Too bad. This one's guarded. The way the game figures out what monsters are present is that it always tells you what the strongest monster in the encounter zone is. But there will typically be more than one of them. Here we have Guardian Spirits, which are a Life realm-aligned creature that can "meld" with nodes just like a Magic Spirit, but they are MUCH stronger in combat. I should be able to win a battle against them eventually, but I really want to build up my strength first. One thing I don't have to worry about is this Encounter Zone ever spawning any "rampaging monsters" -- bands of enemies hostile to everyone that raid towns for loot -- because zones that have Life-aligned creatures in them will never produce any. Only those with monsters from the other four realms. And even then, monsters only start showing up around turn 50, which gives me plenty of time to build up and get ready. Because it's that Sorcery node right next door that I have to worry about. I do NOT want to tangle with Phantom Beasts. You'll see what I mean later. But hopefully not.

Now, let's take a look at our spellbook. We don't have access to many things we can cast overland yet; many of my good spells are combat-only. Still, I have the ability to summon some simple undead creatures. But I'm not going to do that just yet. Instead, let's take a look at the other spell in this list.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
Magic Spirit. It's not a Death realm spell, which means I don't get any discount from my Death books to cast it, but I do get a discount from having the Conjurer perk. This spell is one that all Wizards have access to; I believe I mentioned it in my original post, telling about how important these things were, how they were the key to harnessing the power of a magical Node.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
The sad thing is, even though we do have a Node literally right next door (that pool of water one tile southwest of the city is a Sorcery Node), all Nodes have powerful guardians that must be defeated before they can be used. At my current power level, I can't hope to crack one open just yet. Still, a Magic Spirit is very useful as a scout! They may only have 1 movement point, but overland, they can 'fly' two tiles, which means they can go over water just as well as land, and no terrain types impede them at all (they're basically ghosts, they just phase through solid matter). So a good first move is always to summon a Magic Spirit, and let it explore the surrounding area, in particular checking out nearby ruins and monster lairs to see if any of them are undefended (which always have treasure for the taking).

But we've run into a problem. My current power base -- the pool I can draw from to produce mana to cast spells -- is only 11 at the start of the game; 9 from my Wizard's Fortress, and 2 from the 4 High Elf population in my starting city. Magic Spirit costs 23 with the discount from Conjurer. I'd rather not wait 3 turns to cast it.1 But there's a little trick I can use to fix this problem.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
This is the Magic Screen. Here, a lot of important data can be seen:  diplomatic contacts with other wizards (the gray gems on the top); a list of all enchantments that apply worldwide; and a complete breakdown of my magical power base, and how it is divided between mana produced, power invested in spell research, and power that goes to increasing my spell skill. Here, you can see the rightmost 'staff', labeled Skill, glowing at the tip. I've set the bar to 0 and locked it in place, so it won't move while I fiddle with the other bars. I set the Research bar to the same number, so I can put all 11 of my power base into mana production. This leaves me with no spell research, but that's okay, since I don't need to research anything quite yet anyway.

The real trick here, though, is the button labeled 'Alchemy' at the bottom-right. This is a function that allows me to directly convert my Gold reserves into Mana, and vice versa, at a 2:1 ratio. It's costly, but in a pinch, it can really grease the wheels and give you an edge in the turn-by-turn economy. Here, I will convert 6 gold into 3 mana, so that next turn I will have 14 total, and the turn after that I will have 25, 23 of which will immediately get pumped into Magic Spirit. This shaves off a turn I would otherwise spend waiting for my mana to accumulate naturally. Now, if I had picked the Alchemy perk at the start of the game, this ratio would become 1:1, which basically makes my Gold and Mana values the same thing, since I could switch them anytime (except during battle). But the regular ratio is good enough for my purposes.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
Now, since I am a micromanager by habit, I'm also going to use another trick to squeeze a little bit more resources out of this turn. Time to bring up the Tax Collector interface!
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
Here, I can set the amount of gold that is produced by tax from every townsfolk member in every city, empire-wide. I can't adjust this differently for individual cities, so I have to be careful and make sure my people are ready to handle the shock. By default, the tax level is set to 1, or 1 gold per townsfolk, so I'm pulling in 4 income from my first city (2 of which is being spent in maintenance on certain intermediate buildings already present). By setting this to 2, fully double the current tax, I can now pull in a total of 5 revenue instead of 2 per turn! Of course, there is a catch; raising the tax rate also raises the Unrest rate. High taxes cause some of your townsfolk to turn into Rebels, who produce no food, no production, and cannot be taxed (but you still have to feed the darn freeloaders!). I can mitigate this early game by simply keeping my two starting units, my Swordsmen and Spearmen, at home in the city, to essentially serve as enforcers; every 2 normal units (they can't be monsters or summoned units) in a city will neutralize 1 rebel townsfolk. So, even though a tax rate of 2 would give me 1 rebel right now, I have none because my troops are on police duty.

With nothing else to do this turn, I pass. It is now Turn 2, or, in gameplay terms, February of the year 1400. 1400 A.D. or what, though, they don't say. Some obscure bit of lore, I guess? Anyway, now I can show you guys the full city screen!
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
Above is the full breakdown, from the town's race, number of townsfolk, growth per turn, name, the tiles in its roughly 5x5 catchment area (with the corners rounded off) that it can draw terrain bonuses from, its food, production, gold, and mana production, any enchantments on the town, units garrisoned, and anything in production. The town picture also shows everything that's been built in a rather neat little illustration, with full animations for whipping flags and sparks flying from the smithy and all. Too bad I can't show that in a simple picture, but oh, well.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
I noticed that my Production is currently sitting at 5. Right-clicking the row of "hammers" under the Resources table, I see why; the amount of production from the farmers is rounded up from 1.5 to 2, and it's also drawing 1 production point from terrain bonuses nearby. Forest and Hill2 tiles, of which I have four each, tend to give good percentage bonuses to production, which scale very well once I start building my base production level up. Building a "Sawmill" in this town will increase the benefit I gain from forest tiles even more.

Now, time to leave the town screen for a second. Right after Turn 2 rolled around, I got the option to research a new spell.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
The game picks 8 spells randomly for you to research, split among any available from your chosen realm(s) of magic, plus Arcane (untyped) spells. Each of these has a research time that seems to stretch to infinity, but that's because I set my mana going into research to 0 so I could get my Magic Spirit out faster. That's just fine. But I still need to select a spell to start researching once I put points back into it. So, let's take a look.
Of all of these, there are only a few spells I will really use. Black Prayer, Wall of Darkness, and Black Channels. Wall of Darkness is a defense spell for if you get attacked, which stops any unit from engaging your guys at range unless they can see through illusions. Black Channels is a very nasty enchantment that either turns a living unit into an undead unit and gives them a sizable power boost, or it simply powers up any existing undead unit. Black Prayer is the one I'm aiming for now, though, because it is an absolute battle-winner.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
The rather steep casting cost of 35 mana, thus requiring 35 spell skill, isn't that high a bar to reach since I started with 28 (and the game counts me as only having 18 with Archmage). I'll be able to throw this spell around very early. Slashing the attack and defense of ALL enemy units in battle like that is horrifyingly powerful. What's even better is the -2 to Resistance. Can you guess why that is? It's because the Death realm has a LOT of curses it loves to use on units that have poor resistance to magic. And some of their units also possess abilities that make them murder machines if they get to engage with weaklings. And if I play it right, I get to turn the units I kill into more undead to fight for me. So yeah, Black Prayer is a very solid spell for pretty much any circumstance, even moreso because with Archmage, trying to dispel it mid-battle will be twice as difficult!

1 - Whenever you are in the spellbook, the number of symbols you see below the spell name (color-coded and textured by realm) is the number of turns it will take to cast it.
2 - Speaking of hills, you may have noticed the streaks of dull red below and to the right of my city. That's an Iron Ore deposit. Having rich iron lodes nearby shaves 5% off the production points needed to produce units. But only units; it doesn't affect buildings.

Xvareon

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Re: Xvareon plays: Master of Magic (1994)
« Reply #10 on: September 07, 2018, 09:02:01 pm »

Nothing much happens on Turn 2. Since I'm leaving my troops at home as police to keep everyone paying high taxes, and waiting for Magic Spirit to come up, I simply pass on to Turn 3.

Sure enough, my calculations were right; I was able to summon it in 2 turns instead of 3!
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
Yep, every summoned unit in the game has their own neat little animation for when they come up. It's pretty cool how much effort they put into the art of this game.

Also, this is a good time to tell you guys a little about how summoning things works. When I summon a unit, I can't directly pick where it shows up; I mean, I can't just click a point on the map and plop a unit down there. Summoning anything instead puts it at my "Summoning Circle", which you might have noticed in my town view before (that glowing blue pentagram). With a spell I can research from the Arcane realm (available to everyone), I can move the location of the circle to another city, which lets me call up summons closer to the frontlines if I so desire. I can summon some units during a battle, too, but they'll only last until battle's end. The only way to circumvent that rule is if I were playing a Sorcery-using wizard, and I used the spell "Word of Recall" on a unit summoned mid-battle; this would place it at my Summoning Circle, and let me bind it permanently to my control. In this way, I could get some units I could otherwise only have during battles, like Phantom Warriors. But then, I still have to pay mana upkeep for them. And I don't have any Sorcery books as I am a Death wizard, so we just have to stick to the good old-fashioned way.

Now that I have my scout, let's take a moment to look over his stats before sending him out.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
Here's the unit description screen. All units have common statistics:  Movement; To-hit bonuses (if any, represented by the blue crosshairs); Attack value(s); Armor; Resistance; and Hit Points. Combat is a little bit different in this game than you might expect, in that whenever you see values for attack & defense, those don't represent a flat value that's the max damage they can deal, or what-have-you. Instead, every point of attack, and each point of armor, is calculated separately and given its own roll for damage calculation. So, whenever a unit attacks, or counter-attacks (if in melee), it rolls its attack a number of times equal to its Melee (or Ranged) value. So with the Magic Spirit as an example, since it has an attack of 5, it would roll 5 separate 30% chances to hit a target, and each of those rolls, if successful, can deal 1 hit point of damage. The "Armor" value represents a number of 30% chances to block a point of damage, so my Spirit here would get to roll four times to try and stop successful damage rolls. For multi-figure units (like Swordsmen and Spearmen), these rolls are made on a per-figure basis, so every man in a unit gets to roll its own separate attack; this essentially means that a +1 to damage for a 6-figure unit actually translates to a +6, as long as it still has all its figures remaining. This is another reason why some Death spells like Black Black Prayer and Darkness can be very scary, since they effectively reduce (or increase) the attack of units by a value equal to their size.

On that note, it's time to start my favorite part of any Death wizard game. Summoning some multi-figure units of my own:  Skeletons.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
These are your standard troopers. Not really strong on their own, but great for massing up and using to whittle down enemy forces. They also have Missile Immunity, which makes them almost completely untouchable by any ranged unit that doesn't have a magical attack, so I have nothing to fear from enemy bowmen. Being pulled from dirt, they are also dirt-cheap, especially with the combo of my 20% 9-book discount and 25% Conjurer discount. I still can't handle the initial summoning cost with just my power base alone, though, so what am I to do? Alchemy, of course! I convert another 6 gold into 3 mana, to give me more than enough to pop these guys out in the very next turn. See? I'm already building my army and I'm barely 3 turns into the game. It would have taken me 2 turns just to wait for my base city to make a single weak unit of Spearmen, and twice that for Swordsmen. Death magic is scary good at rushing up armies. And it's even better at putting them to practical use in battle, once I start throwing the Darkness enchantment around to give all my undead a combat boost.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Time to get exploring! I send my Magic Spirit out west, along the coastline, to investigate my surroundings. Right away, I spy some interesting things! One is that I seem to have a 2-tile wide land bridge connecting me to another spit of land off to the left. Another is this very nice natural resource:  Game Meat. That's +2 to food for any city that has it, which would be a huge early-game boost. A great spot to build a new city near, that's for sure. There's just one problem...
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
...there seems to already be a city nearby. I checked my Surveyor tool, and sure enough, there is something within 3 tiles of that juicy Game Meat. No city can be built within 3 tiles of another city. This is kind of a cheap and exploit-y way to see what is out there in the fog of war. Here, it could be an opposing Wizard's city, or more likely it's a neutral settlement. Either way, it's something I want. Taking another city this early in the game would be an enormous boon to my economy, as it means more sacrifices tax-paying citizens and a possibly doubled production base.

I pass another turn.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
Skeletons up! RIIISE, MY MINIONS! RIIIIIIISE!
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
These guys are quite a bit stronger than I remember. I never noticed them having +1 to-hit. That combined with a pretty good attack (that's 3 swords for every skeleton, meaning it's throwing 18 rolls at 40% chance to land a hit), and very impressive armor as well. Notice the full array of nice immunities, too. All Death creatures can't be touched by poison, they see right through invisibility & illusions of any kind, cold doesn't even faze them, and neither do Death realm-related curses or life draining effects. Unless it's coming from them, that is.  8)

Now I send my Magic Spirit a little further west. And lookee here...
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
Seems my guess was right. I've got a neutral town 5 turns away from my main base.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
And it's High Men, too... and a very well-developed town, at that. A Barracks, Smithy, Builder's Hall... this is everything needed to build Swordsmen, plus a lot of intermediate town buildings. 4 population, too. Dang. I'm impressed. And only two Swordsmen guarding it? Jeez, I'm gonna walk right over this place. I'll need to be fast, though; neutral towns do tend to build up their forces, and they like to raid you if you let them get strong enough. I'll spend some turns generating more Skeletons for a while, then get them marching over to invade this town. Shouldn't be too much longer until we have our first battle!
« Last Edit: September 07, 2018, 11:38:42 pm by Xvareon »
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Akura

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Re: Xvareon plays: Master of Magic (1994)
« Reply #11 on: September 08, 2018, 05:39:32 am »

Wow, those skellies do look stronger than I remember. I could have sworn they were on par with spearmen; those things are better than swordsmen sans Large Shield nevermind, they're immune to missiles anyway.
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Xvareon

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Re: Xvareon plays: Master of Magic (1994)
« Reply #12 on: September 08, 2018, 02:58:50 pm »

I skip on to Turn 5, after a little more use of Alchemy to get the mana needed for another one-turn crankout of Skeletons. Things are looking good! Unfortunately, the neutral town to my west seems to know what's going on; they just made another unit of Swordsmen, bringing their total to 3. I should still be able to outpace their production with mine, though. I just need to be fast. It's still a 5-turn march to get everyone over there. That being said, I decided to take a risk, and went ahead and bought the remaining production to get my Granary up ASAP back in turn 4. By turn 5 I already have my Granary up!
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
Now, though, I have all but bankrupted myself. So, rather than build any other structures for now, I instead set my city to produce Trade Goods for profit. At 7 production (I was able to get a second worker thanks to the Granary), that's just 3 extra gold a turn, but I need every bit I can get right now.

Since my army is marching westward, I decide to move my little spiritual scout that found our first target to the northeast instead. and wouldn't you know, it seems I've found a promising place to found a new city! Well, just at first glance, anyway; anywhere that has rivers and lakes will give enormous population growth and gold bonuses, and being near shores helps a lot, as well. But there is also some Ruins nearby blocking one of the accessways. Time to do a little exploring.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
Hmm. This ruin has Ghouls in it, making it a Death-aligned encounter zone. One that will produce rampaging monsters, if I don't take it out eventually. None of my combat spells will work against them, and if I cast Darkness, it'll just help them as well as it'll help my undead. So I'm going to hold off on dealing with this one just yet. There doesn't seem to be any more towns around it for me to deal with, in any case.

Turn 7. July 1400. Not much else happened, so I just skipped ahead. I'm up to 4 skeletons now, and that little High Men town is still at 3 swordsmen. I set my Tax Collector back to 1, because I'm sending my starting High Elf infantry along with my undead as support. I'll also throw in my Magic Spirit, so I can have 7 units (out of a max of 9) to commit to the assault. I want to make sure I have enough mana to at least throw Darkness, and hopefully also Weakness, so I won't be summoning any more skellies for now. With everyone out of the gate, it's now 4 turns until the raid. I hope they don't build up too much until then.

Turn 11. November 1400. All my guys are gathered on the outskirts of town. They got another unit of swordsmen, so they're at a respectable 4 units, but that's against my 7. I use Alchemy again, this time to bring my mana up to 28, exactly in line with my Spell Skill. Everything's ready. Time to fight!
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
In any battle, the defending side always gets to act first. This can be a battle-winner for defenders who get an opening ranged salvo, or a wizard who pops a really strong field spell right from the get-go. Here, since we're just fighting a bunch of Swordsmen, they simply close the distance and move up a square; every side starts about 5 squares apart from each other, and anyone wanting to engage in melee has to cross that ground. Fine by me. But I'm going to take the time to cast a few things to give me a huge edge.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
Remember how I kept going on and on about this spell? Darkness. It wins battles. Period. Only works when you have a lot of undead who can benefit from it, but MAN does it work. A +1 to attack and defense will put my Skeletons at 4/5 EACH, compared to the Swordsmen's 3/2. Combined with their innate +1 to-hit, and my undead are already turned into steamrollers. This deal gets even sweeter when you factor in the 20% discount I get from Death spells! That means that Darkness' 25 mana cost gets shaved down to 20. So I'm left with 8 spell skill remaining for this fight. What to spend it on? Why, this, of course.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
Being a 5 mana spell, I get to cast Weakness for 4, so I can use it twice this battle. My first casting works like a charm, lowering one of the swordsmen unit's attack down to a pathetic 1. Weakness forces enemies to make their saving roll at -2, as well! Ah, I should probably explain this; a unit's Resistance score (marked with the golden ankh/cross symbols) is their % chance to negate any hostile spell cast on them. The chance is 10 x the number of symbols, so a unit with 5 resistance would have a 50% chance to resist magic. This doesn't apply for most damaging spells like Fireball, which are instead treated as an attack against the target's armor value, with strength (attack value) proportional to the amount of mana you put into the spell. But for most purposes, resistance is a flat % chance to resist, and having 10 resistance is the same as having 100% immunity to most targeted spells and effects. Most decent curses like Weakness force their target to make this roll at a disadvantage, though, like the -2 shown here. Resistance is an important stat because it affects so much, even the chance for poison attacks to work on enemies (though for poison, they have to roll for each level of the poison or take 1 damage for each failure).

But now I'm getting ahead of myself. I must apologize for not taking too many more pictures of the units actually attacking each other; I got a little excited and forgot. But anyway, one of my Skeletons was able to completely one-shot the Weakened swordsmen without taking a single hit on the counterattack, while my others did most of the cleanup everywhere else. My High Elf Swordsmen got in some good hits, and even my Magic Spirit, essentially being upfront and tanking for everyone. The rest of them dropped like flies against my Skeletons, unable to do much vs. their 5 armor, while the skellies' 4 attack and to-hit bonuses made quick work of their piddling little shields. In very little time, I completely wiped out all the enemy units without losing even one of mine. This is the power of Death units when properly supported. Later, perhaps I'll be able to afford throwing Black Channels on these guys, to give them +2 attack, another +1 to armor and even more HP. How would you like to fight 6/7 skeletons with double the health? xD
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
After wiping out the defenders and overthrowing the local government, the hamlet of Nottingham is mine to claim! And it has that Game Meat resource I noticed before, which gives +2 food surplus right off the bat. This means I can bump the town to 3 workers immediately, which will help a lot because I need to build a Granary here; the population growth of this place is awful. High Men populace don't produce any mana like High Elves do, but they make up for it by being able to construct all tiers of religious institutions, like Shrines and Temples, all of which produce mana. High Men cities that get powerful enough can also produce Paladins once they get a Cathedral, which are some of the most absolutely broken units in the game. While it does sound strange that a Death user could even have such holy warriors at his side, I'm willing to use my imagination and just say they can be evil paladins for me. Hehehe.

Now, we have another thing to discuss. After we won that battle, because there were 4 units on each side, it counted as a "Major Battle". That means it's a noteworthy fight, and that as such, I'm entitled to receive a Fame point as a reward. Fame is a sort of statistic for your Wizard, which they can increase by winning large battles or conquering cities or defeating strong monsters, and lose by... well, losing those fights. It can also be gained by simply having certain famous or legendary heroes on your side, by casting the Life realm spell Just Cause, or starting with the Famous perk. Fame does a number of very useful things, which I will bullet-point for you below:
  • For every point of Fame, the total troop upkeep of all your forces is reduced by 1 gold. Thus, since I have only one unit of Swordsmen (who cost 1 gold), my troop upkeep is now 0 gold!
  • For every 10 points of Fame, the Unrest level (number of rebels) in ALL of your cities is reduced by 1.
  • Having a high fame rating makes it more likely you'll be approached by Heroes looking for work, Mercenary units you can buy on the spot, Merchants who may have valuable magic items for sale, and so on. It takes a certain threshold of Fame points before "Champion"-tier Heroes, the ones with really powerful special abilities start to show up at your door, unless you have the spell Summon Champion and wish to cast it.

EDIT: I forgot to mention, I won't have any additional problems with Unrest with the new city I just conquered, because High Men don't have any racial unrest penalties with High Elves. What this means is that since my Wizard's Fortress is in a High Elf city, my "Capital" race is High Elf, and therefore any racial unrest percentages are calculated based on that. If I had just conquered a Dark Elf city, who are the High Elves' mortal enemies, 40% of this town's inhabitants would be rebels on top of the penalty I already get from taxation. But High Men don't mind being ruled by elves, unlike some other races. I was very fortunate.
« Last Edit: September 08, 2018, 07:28:20 pm by Xvareon »
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Xvareon

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Re: Xvareon plays: Master of Magic (1994)
« Reply #13 on: September 10, 2018, 04:06:58 pm »

The next several turns are going to be a little sleepy. After finding that town and scoring an early expansion, I was left with two wounded units, one of them being Skeletons, and still a huge swathe of unexplored land in three general directions (northwest, north, east). Having my back up against the ocean helps, but in order to secure my starting zone, there's no way I can rely on just my one Magic Spirit. I need to summon another. But to do that comfortably, I'll want to eliminate a little dead weight, first.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
One of the five units of Skeletons in my assault force suffered some serious damage, bringing them from 6 figures to 2. That amounts to their combat effectiveness getting slashed to 4/6ths of normal, making them little more than cannon fodder now. Undead all share one critical weakness:  They cannot be healed, except through very special means, such as Life Drain (which is a common sight throughout the Death realm). My Skeletons can't use Life Drain, though, so these will never be returned to full strength. They've served their purpose, so I will Dismiss them to free up the 1 mana worth of upkeep per turn they are still charging me even when at such a weak state.

Using the free mana point, I start work on summoning a second Magic Spirit, and finish it in a couple turns thanks to a little Alchemy with the gold I pillaged from Nottingham (that sounds so thematically appropriate, doesn't it? xD). As for the town I just conquered, well, there's little for them to do but keep on building that Granary. For my capital city, I start work on a Sawmill. This is a critical production structure that increases the total production points of a city by 25%. The tooltip lies and says it only boosts what you get from forest tiles; the only thing a Sawmill has to do with forests is that you need at least one of them in a town's catchment area to build a Sawmill. Sawmills also turn wood into bows, which, for High Elves, means I get to produce Longbowmen. These are a racial special unit available only to High Elves, with a staggeringly powerful ranged attack of 3 base x 6 figures, or 18 total, at +1 to-hit as is common to the race. Just to put that in perspective, at only Recruit level, they deal an average of 1.2 damage per figure. If they actually hit for 6 or more, the only thing that's stopping them from completely wiping out most normal units in one shot is their Armor value. Their average damage jumps to 1.6 per figure per attack after they gain just one experience level.

Speaking of armor, Swordsmen, in particular, all enjoy a certain innate ability called Large Shields, which gives +2 to their armor value when defending vs. a number of attacks like arrows, throwing axes (from Barbarian units), breath attacks (which apply before melee combat is calculated), and even ranged magical attacks and the fiery wrath of the Immolation spell from the Chaos realm (which burns enemies that engage the target unit in melee). Shields are what stop these troops from dying so easily to an early bowmen rush, and help mitigate the power of Barbarians' racial specials.

Anyway, Magic Spirit up, Skeletons out, and I've sent my Swordsmen and Spearmen back to my capital city. The reason for the latter is this.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
It just grew to a size 5. Which means that without police forces there, a Rebel townsfolk member just sprouted up that is refusing to work or pay taxes. I move my Skeletons towards a midway point between my two cities, so that in the event that hostile units show up within the 2-tile detection range of a city (without a City Wall's towers to make it 3), I can make it to that city and defend it. Meanwhile, both my Spirits get about exploring. My newly-summoned one discovers that I'm up against ocean on my east, too; there's just a little spit of land there, just far enough away I could stick a city if I wanted to, but then its catchment area would overlap with that of my capital (decreasing all resources derived from those contested tiles by 1/2). Besides, there are far juicier lands up north. Unfortunately, there's even more challenges.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
Sprites in the monster lair. They won't be too hard of a fight, but they generally don't come alone. Usually there are either 3-4 units of Sprites, and a couple War Bears, as well. These are all Nature-aligned units. Very expensive ones, for such low-tier things, but there's a reason for that. War Bears are just tough-hitting tanks, but Sprites are flying units that can't be hit in melee, and they have a 3 strength magic ranged attack with 4 figures per unit. They can be extremely annoying to deal with in groups. But you often only ever see them that way, especially when guarding Nature Nodes. I doubt there'll be much resistance from this Lair, though. It's still another potential monster party waiting to happen, so I'm keeping my eye on it.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
Some VERY juicy news from up north! My original Spirit has discovered a size 6 High Men town, complete with an Armory, Smithy, Granary and Builder's Hall. It's got double the enemies from last time, and since it's been a number of turns since the start of the game, a few of them have likely already leveled up (all normal units gain 1 experience point per turn/in-game "month"). Level 2, or Regular-class swordsmen are a decent step up, being 4/2 instead of 3/2 for attack and defense, plus they'll have 5 resistance. Still, that isn't going to save them vs. my Skeletons with Darkness active. I WANT this city. It means even more taxpayers and food production from that Granary, and they'll be able to make Swordsmen right off the bat. Time to get back to bone-rattlin'!
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
In other news, my spirits also found a second Sorcery Node a little further up north. Oh, I forgot to mention, the first one near my city had a Storm Giant guarding it. Storm Giants are top-tier, anti-everything trawlers. There's no way I can take them with the forces I have now. They'd cut through me like an axe through an egg, if they didn't blast me with their lightning bolt magic attacks first. But Phantom Warriors... that's a much, much easier fight. Phantom Warriors are a Common-tier Sorcery-realm unit that can only be summoned in combat (unless you exploit the Word of Recall spell to pull them into the overland). Their main strength is their Illusion Attack ability, which causes all of their attacks to completely ignore their target's Armor value. This means they don't get any chance to block damage; any hits they score apply automatically. The Phantom Warriors themselves have next to no armor, though, making them absolute glass cannons. They are effective against heavily armored units, but completely worthless if your enemy can field any ranged units.

Or, if the enemy has units with Illusions Immunity. Which undead have. Like my Skeletons.  8)  Illusions Immunity completely negates Illusion Attack.

Of course, since these are Phantom Warriors inside a Sorcery Node, I still have to be careful, because being under the influence of a Node that corresponds to their magical Realm gives these creatures +2 to attack, defense, and resistance. On top of this, any non-Sorcery spell has a very high chance to simply fizzle out and not work at all, meaning I might not be able to throw Darkness inside that encounter zone. My answer to this is Longbowmen. If I bring even one of these guys with me when I attack that thing, I'll have this in the bag.

But before I do any of that, I want to roll over this High Men town first. With my necromancy, I raised up 2 new Skeleton units, bringing me up to 5, and then I sent them all north to invade it while my normal troops stayed behind to hold the fort. While they march, I'm gonna save up mana so I have enough to cast Darkness for this battle. This is important because of Spellcasting Range, a game feature which dictates that the mana cost of spells cast in combat increases with distance from the casting wizard's fortress. Because that first town was just 5 tiles away, my Spellcasting Range modifier was 1x -- base cost, no change. If I were casting these spells AT my Fortress, i.e. in a battle defending my capital, it'd be 0.5x, meaning all combat spells cost half! But because Haven's so far away, I'll likely have to pay at least 1.5x extra to cast spells in battle, making Darkness' 20 mana into 30 mana.  :(  Thankfully, I have enough turns to wait while my Skeletons march upriver. I'll do some more scouting until then and finish up my Sawmill, then likely build one for Nottingham, too. Join me next time for the assault on Haven!

Xvareon

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Re: Xvareon plays: Master of Magic (1994)
« Reply #14 on: September 11, 2018, 04:14:41 pm »

Spoiler (click to show/hide)
As I suspected, I'm under a 1.5x extra cost penalty for spells cast all the way from my Fortress. It's a good thing I saved up a little mana to throw Darkness!
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
I also had 7 left over, just enough to throw Weakness once. I targeted one of the Rank 2 Swordsmen that the enemy had on their front line, reducing them from 4 attack to a petty 2. Those were quickly destroyed in one shot by my Skeletons. I should note here that because Swordsmen are a 6-figure unit, Weakness effectively reduces their attack by 6 x 2 = 12 damage, because it affects every figure which would otherwise make their own separate attacks at 4 "swords" each. Full-health, "Regular"-level Swordsmen, thus, throw 24 rolls at 30% chance each to hit, or 1.6 average damage per attack per figure. That's pretty dangerous, unless you have high-armor units like Skeletons to absorb that damage. I should also mention how defense works; when damage is being calculated, the "lead" figure in a multi-figure unit rolls for defense equal to the amount of "shields" it has. Damage is then reduced from the attack accordingly. If damage was still enough to get through and kill the figure, the next figure steps up and gets to make a whole new array of defense rolls to prevent further damage. The damage that was first rolled stays the same; attacks are not re-rolled, only defense. If the remaining damage is 5, and the next figure manages to succeed all 5 defense rolls, they will prevent all further damage.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
In a battle between 8 swordsmen and 5 skeletons, my undead (backed up by the Darkness enchantment) win quite handily. All of them took quite a few knocks, though. I'm likely going to dismiss the skeletons that were reduced to 2 figures, just like the ones I did before, because it's simply not worth paying the upkeep for them. If you guys are starting to think undead might be a little overpowered, well, it's this way for any realm of magic that's used to its fullest effect. I'm not up against any Wizard, which means I have nothing to fear from enemy spells. This battle could go either way if I was fighting Hell Hounds from the Chaos realm, or a Life wizard who throws True Light (the exact opposite of Darkness, penalizing all undead on the field  :().
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
We have been very fortunate! In addition to that battle being large enough to grant a Fame point, I didn't inadvertently destroy any town buildings as a result of that battle. The longer a battle drags on, the more chances there are for valuable structures to be destroyed in the crossfire, and for bystanders to get killed. This is virtually guaranteed to happen if the invading force actually enters the 4x4 area representing the town itself. And heaven help anyone in that town if the tornado created by the Chaos realm's Magic Vortex spell passes through it. But here, we only killed one town member of the 6 that were there, and left all the structures intact, including the Granary.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
This town has everything needed to produce Swordsmen. It's also halfway up to the next population growth stage, so losing those townsfolk won't hurt too much. I think the first thing I'm gonna do here is train some Swordsmen or Spearmen to guard the place, and also act as police to deter rebels. That extra Fame point I just earned will slice the total troop upkeep I have empire-wide by another 1, so I can have at least one Swordsmen unit upkeep-free. I would prefer them to be High Elves due to the +1 to-hit bonus and higher Resistance, but I don't think I can wait long enough for them to travel all the way overland, especially not when I want my capital city making Longbowmen ASAP.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
Thankfully, not long after I conquered Haven, the Sawmill finished! And thanks to the Iron Ore deposit that's nearby, the production cost of Longbowmen is cut by 5%, so from 80 down to 76. Not much of a discount, but I'll take every bit I can get. The Sawmill will also boost total production of the city to help get new units trained and equipped faster. I want this city making nothing but Longbowmen for a while, so I can start cracking Nodes and harvesting magic power ASAP. There are only about 30 nodes across Arcanus and Myrror throughout the game, and I've got 3 within easy reach, which amounts to almost half of the average Sorcery Nodes that would appear on Arcanus as well. So any Sorcery wizards I meet are going to be very, very jealous of me!
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
Ah, getting ahead of myself. Here is the scouting report that showcases the 3rd node, as well as the rest of the landmass I find myself on. It appears that I'm on a peninsula. There's more land out west in the fog of war, but the only way to get there overland is across a 4-tile wide landbridge. I could cover that whole thing with a single city. To my surprise, I also see some very useful special resources nearby. Those black streaks are Coal deposits; they are like Iron Ore, but they reduce the production cost of units by 10% instead of 5%. The white streaks are Mithril. Mithril is a potentially game-changing resource that can be harnessed with a city that has an Alchemist's Guild, in order to equip all troops produced there with Mithril weapons, which can effectively hit units that are immune to normal weapons, and have +1 to attack and defense. In exchange, it's very useful in magical and alchemical processes as a reagent, and so it produces +1 power for the city that has it. So it should go without saying that I want that resource. Mithril-equipped Longbowmen can utterly trash a lot of units, even ones they couldn't before.

The other two things worthy of note include Nightshade (that creepy tree-looking thing in the swamp by the rightmost monster lair), and the Sorcery Node itself. Nightshade is a plant found growing only in swamp tiles. A city that has it, plus at least a Shrine or greater religious institution can make use of it. Nightshade bestows protection from magic over the city, causing any spell cast on that city to face resistance as if Dispel Magic was just cast on it. This isn't really that useful because by the time you even get to spells that can affect entire cities, the strength of Nightshade's protection is really weak by comparison. Still, if you have it, it just might stop an enemy from throwing Fire Storm at your defenders, Corruption on your town's tile itself, or even Chaos Rift. These are all Very Bad things to have hit you. Also, if you have more than one Nightshade plant nearby, they will stack to increase the strength of the automatic dispel that targets whatever's targeting the city.

Also, if a town is near a Sorcery Node, two things happen. One is that it supports 2 extra max population, same as a River and more than a Grasslands. Two is that the town just might fall under the Node's influence, which means magic that isn't sorcery magic cast in its influence has a very high chance to fail. I don't really want that, since I'm all Death, so I'll try to avoid building right next to that Node if I can. My capital city is right next to a Node, though, so it might just be under its effect, and I would have no way of knowing until I either crack it open and have a magic spirit Meld with it, or a battle is fought on that tile and I could then see the battlefield effects from the "Info" tab.
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