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asphodel-ma

MA Asphodel, Carrion Wood

Lore

From the Dominions 5 Manual:
"If you have walked in a forest with trees covered in ivy and stumbled across the carcass of a dead animal, partly covered by leaves and vines, your imagination might give life to the vines and the roots of the nearby plants. The carrion jerks and twitches as the roots gives life to the dead animal. It opens its jaws and lets out a silent hiss.

Asphodel is a nation of the vengeful wild. Panii and halfmen of Pangaea have revolted against their brethren and unleashed the powers of a dark and hungry god upon the living world. Vines and roots turn into slithering and growing entities strangling the living in their sleep and reanimating their corpses as marionettes of vines and bones. These marionettes are known as manikin.

The first carrion beasts appeared in one of my Ars Magica campaigns. There was a manikin in the bestiary that sparked my imagination and resulted in animal carcasses reanimated by vines. The concept has always been something I liked, and I suspect is has sneaked into other RPG campaigns of mine from time to time.

Asphodel as a Dominions nation has a history similar to Lemuria. The nation was once a theme in Dominions 2 that was removed and made into a global spell available to primarily late age Pangaea. Unfortunately, this made the whole setting of the Carrion Woods rare, and that was a pity. We decided to remake the old theme into a new Pangaean splinter nation."

Nation Description In-Game:

Asphodel was once part of Pangaea, a woodland nation inhabited by wild beings connected with nature. Halfmen such as satyrs, centaurs and minotaurs serve the lords of the Sacred Groves deep in the forests. In ancient times, the woods covered much of the world, but that has changed. Man is no longer beast and animals are no longer wild. The world of the wild is disappearing. In response to the destruction of the wild forests a dark and hungry God has arisen. The Panii of the sacred groves could not prevent the destruction of the wilderness and a few of them have revolted and struck back with dark fury upon the civilized world. The Panic Apostates and their followers have been touched by the Dark God and their hides are colored as black as the mood of the vengeful forest. But victory comes at a price. Halfmen as well as civilized men succumb to the Curse of the Carrion Woods. Asphodel is slowly turning into a cursed forest realm haunted by living carrion.
Race: Forest beings and reanimated carrion beings, stealthy troops, troops will heal battle afflictions, undead carrion beasts.
Military: Satyr and minotaur infantry, centaur warriors and archers, harpies, hordes of manikins and carrion beasts.
Magic: Nature, Death, some Earth and Water.
Priests: Average. Undead priests can reanimate carrions.
Dominion: Reanimates the unburied dead as manikins. Carrion beasts everywhere but more in forests. Temples and growth scale increase reanimation rates. Magic scale increases the chance of better reanimations. Dominion kills population.
Buildings: Very Primitive Forts, forts are 50% more expensive, temples cost 200 in forests, labs cost 250 in forests

General Overview

Asphodel is a nation of halfmen, such as centaurs, satyrs and minotaurs. As the game progresses provinces within the dominion of Asphodel will see their populations decrease. If the provinces are owned by Asphodel they receive undead manikins as the population is killed. In the early game Asphodel can make good use of strong halfmen troops (especially the sacred black centaurs), but as their population diminishes they will lack the gold and recruitment points for these units and will be forced to rely more on the freespawn undead manikins. It is best to think of Asphodel as a pop kill undead nation with recruitable mages and play accordingly.

Because Asphodel's economy never fully transitions away from gold, and because of the need for more forest provinces, they will be forced to expand continuously. Having recruitable mages is both a blessing and a curse in this respect. On the other hand, their ability to build forts in one turn and focus their money on mages will lead to a surge in research and gem income by the mid game. This will be the time to push their advantage, with manikin armies getting strong spell support and powerful Carrion Lord thugs filling in the gaps.

Asphodel is widely regarded as one of the worst nations in Dominions, and likely THE worst nation in the Middle Age. They also have some of the lowest resolution pixel art you can find, a good indication that the nation hasn't gotten love in quite some time. Winning with them will take quite a bit of luck, and at best you'll be playing with a handicap vs other players. Still, they are a very cool concept and a lot of fun to play.

National Features

Race Military Magic Access
Halfmen
Superior magic resistance
Forest Survival
Recuperation
Undead Manikins
Primitive equipment
Stealthy Units
High map move
Mercenaries +25% cost
nature 44 (rare 5)
death 33 (rare 4)
water 11 (rare 2)
earth 11 (rare 2)
Priests Dominion Buildings
Average Priests (lvl2)
Summon Strong Priests (lvl3)
Stealthy Priests
Undead priests have manikin reanimation
Pop death at 1% per candle per turn

Spawns manikins from corpses
Spawns additional manikins in forests
Forts +50% cost
Palisade is max upgrade
Summon Bramble Forts in forests
Temples -50% cost in forests
Labs -50% cost in forests

Dominion Freespawn Mechanics

Asphodel's dominion spawns up to four human manikins per turn from corpses, and up to four additional halfman and animal manikins per turn in forests. Forests with a temple spawn a sacred manikin on top of these other limits. Dominion strength, growth scales, and the presence of a temple all increase the likelihood of more spawn in a province, and magic scales increase the likelihood that stronger manikin types will spawn. For more information on these mechanics, see the Spawned/Reanimated Troops section.

Capital Special Sites

Carrion Grove
Enables recruitment of:
* Black Centaurs
Produce 6 per turn
Produce 1 per turn

Units

Commanders

Sprite Unit Name Magic Special Attributes Comments
Black Harpy
25
1
1
Stealthy (60)
Flying
Forest Survival
Recuperation
Can recruit in all forests
Has the Female tag
Minotaur Lord
70
10
1
Berserker (+5)
Trample
Forest Survival
Recuperation
Can recruit in all forests
Centaur Hierophant
120
4
2
holy 11random1100%+10% 7 Sacred
Stealthy (40)
Inspirational (+1)
Forest Survival
Recuperation
Can recruit in all forests

Twiceborn shape:
Carrion Lady
Centauride Hierophantide
120
3
2
holy 11random1100%+10% 7 Sacred
Stealthy (40)
Inspirational (+1)
Forest Survival
Recuperation
Can recruit in all forests
Has the Female tag

Twiceborn shape:
Carrion Lady
Black Dryad
140
1
2
holy 22death 11nature 11 9 Sacred
Stealthy (60)
Supply bonus (10)
Forest Survival
Recuperation
Has the Female tag

Twiceborn shape:
Carrion Lady
Dryad Hag
255
1
2
holy 22death 11nature 22random1100%+10% 13 Sacred
Stealthy (60)
Supply bonus (20)
Forest Survival
Recuperation
Has the Female tag

Twiceborn shape:
Carrion Lady
Panic Apostate
300
1
4
death 22nature 33random1100%+10% 17 Resist Poison (5)
Animal Awe (1)
Beastmaster (+1)
Stealthy (40)
Supply bonus (30)
Forest Survival
Recuperation
Twiceborn shape:
Carrion Lord

Black Harpies are probably the best recruitable scout in the game. They have a high stealth value, and flying combined with a high map move makes it very likely they will reach their intended destination in one turn, whether to scout or to transport gems. In most games you don't even need to rely on forts to recruit them, since they are available in every forest.

Minotaur Lords are only good for commanding armies in the expansion phase, later on you can rely on Panic Apostates to command manikin and non-manikin troops alike. Be sure to set them to "Stay Behind Troops" or they will likely get themselves killed.

Centaur(ide) Hierophant(ide)s are not bad commanders for their cost, but I struggle to find a place for them. If you've built a temple and lab in a forest but don't yet have a fort, it can be worth it to recruit them as researchers. They have high precision and are good with ranged magic items.

Black Dryads are your primary researchers. They are also good for collecting and transporting manikins, hiding and preaching, spamming swarm in large battles, and for buffing thugs with Blessing and Regrowth. They are good targets for Twiceborn, which causes them to come back as reanimators, in addition to everything else.

Dryad Hags are, unfortunately, worse than Black Dryads at research, and worse than Panic Apostates at everything else. While not terribly inefficient researchers, they are a pricey alternative in a pop kill nation that doesn't need the extra research per turn that badly. The real advantages they have over Apostates are being sacred and not slow to recruit. They would be excellent skeleton spammers if they had guaranteed 2 Death instead of 2 Nature, but alas. It's not a bad idea to keep a few around your forts so you can construct items at a moment's notice, though.

The Panic Apostate is Asphodel's workhorse. They have the best magic paths and are given a slight chance to double their random, which can boost the nation into even higher levels of Water, Earth, and Death through items and summons. You'll want them to do everything but research - site searching, combat magic, rituals, leading troops, raiding, and later assassinations. Twiceborn will transform them into a superior thug chassis.

Recruited Troops

Sprite Unit Name Special Attributes Comments
Harpy
7
1
3
Stealthy (40)
Flying
Forest Survival
Recuperation
Can recruit in all forests
Has the Female tag
Satyr Sneak
9
3
6
Undisciplined
Increase Unrest (+0.5)
Stealthy (60)
Forest Survival
Recuperation
Can recruit in all forests
Satyr
9
4
6
Undisciplined
Stealthy (40)
Forest Survival
Recuperation
Can recruit in all forests
Satyr Warrior
13
5
21
Stealthy (40)
Forest Survival
Recuperation
Minotaur
40
8
6
Undisciplined
Berserker (+4)
Trample
Forest Survival
Recuperation
Can recruit in all forests
Minotaur Warrior
50
10
18
Berserker (+5)
Trample
Forest Survival
Recuperation
Centauride
25
3
12
Stealthy (40)
Forest Survival
Recuperation
Can recruit in all forests
Has the Female tag
Centaur
25
4
12
Stealthy (40)
Forest Survival
Recuperation
Can recruit in all forests
Centauride Warrior
30
11
17
Stealthy (40)
Forest Survival
Recuperation
Has the Female tag
Centaur Warrior
35
11
21
Berserker (+2)
Stealthy (40)
Forest Survival
Recuperation
Black Centaur
55
12
21
Sacred
Berserker (+3)
Stealthy (40)
Forest Survival
Recuperation

Outside of the expansion phase, you don't want to recruit troops as Asphodel. There are two reasons; gold is limited and better spent on mages, and some of the more powerful spells at your disposal will also hurt your non-undead troops. These include Foul Vapors, Rigor Mortis, Darkness, and Syllable of Sleep. While I can't say there is never a good reason to recruit troops, you can expect them to be relegated to specialized tasks and supplemental roles.


Harpies are your only flying troop; they are cheap and easy to mass. Thus, these are your best units for siege defense, which manikins don't do effectively, or for additional patrolling and sieging. In battle they can be used to harass the back line.


Satyrs are mainly front line troops, which is not what Asphodel needs. Sneaks can be used to increase unrest in enemy territory, which might help complement a sabotage strategy.


Minotaurs have a high damage attack that can punch through tougher opponents. However, these are the same sort of opponents that manikins tend to do well against on their own, with their propensity to fatigue them out. Minotaurs also tend to get themselves killed by trampling too far afield. Undisciplined troops are better placed behind a line of disciplined ones, getting stuck there so that they can still receive buffs and not get too far ahead of the army.


Naked Centaurs and Centaurides are the only archer units that Asphodel can mass, which may be useful in certain circumstances. These are probably the most useful troops that can be recruited from forests without forts.


Armored Centaurs and Centaurides are the best troops for expansion. Centaurides use javelins and are better against lightly armored troops; Centaurs berserk and are better at direct assaults. Black Centaurs are just as good as Pangaea's White Centaurs, but it's a mistake to build a bless around them, because population death on your capital means you'll be recruiting fewer and fewer of them over the course of the game. In practice, I find it's better to use the cheaper, non-sacred variants most of the time. After expansion, Centaur Warriors are still useful in manikin armies for attacking the rear, something manikins aren't particularly good at due to their fragility.

Spawned/Reanimated Troops

All manikins have the following abilities, added here to make the table more readable:
Pierce-resistant
Undead
Magic-being
Inanimate
Need-not-eat
Forest survival
Resist poison (25)

Generally, manikins are skeletons with some special features. They have low protection, low attack and defense, and no cold resistance, but make up for it with high hitpoints, the loss of the Never Heals trait, and high magic resistance (apart from Carrion Beasts). Being both undead and magic-beings makes them vulnerable to spells and effects that target either. They use undead command slots on a commander.

More importantly, all manikins have at least one "Sleep Vines" attack which deals 33 fatigue damage per hit, provided the target fails a magic resistance check, and attempts to hit three times per attack. This is enough to wear down even high protection targets rather quickly, and manikins tend to do better against high protection targets with low defense than the opposite. Sleep Vines are also a length 3 weapon, and have a better chance of repelling attacks when the attacker's defense is low. For this reason, manikins are particularly good when they fight in large numbers, surrounding enemy troops, and when combined with other fatigue inducing spells like Rigor Mortis and Syllable of Sleep.

Though they apply to all undead, Asphodel's unique priest spells give benefits to manikin armies that you don't see anywhere else, such as mass regeneration through Carrion Growth and spot healing through Mend the Dead.

Sprite Unit Name Special_Attributes Comments
Manikin Poor amphibian
Mindless
Spirit sight
Standard corpse spawn.
Mandragora Poor amphibian
Mindless
Spirit sight
Advanced corpse spawn.
Harpy Manikin Poor amphibian
Mindless
Spirit sight
Standard forest spawn.
Satyr Manikin Poor amphibian
Mindless
Spirit sight
Standard forest spawn.
Minotaur Manikin Poor amphibian
Mindless
Advanced forest spawn.
Sagittarian Carcass Sacred
Recuperation
Spirit sight
Extra spawn on forest with temple.
Carrion Beast (wolf) Poor amphibian
Mindless
Spirit sight
Standard forest spawn.
Carrion Beast (boar) Poor amphibian
Mindless
Spirit sight
Standard forest spawn.
Carrion Beast (horse) Poor amphibian
Mindless
Spirit sight
Standard forest spawn.
Carrion Beast (bear) Poor amphibian
Mindless
Spirit sight
Advanced forest spawn.
Carrion Beast (elephant) Trample
Fear (5)
Poor amphibian
Mindless
Advanced forest spawn.

Most manikins largely function the same, the thing you want to pay attention to most in a tactical setup is their combat speed. Put slower manikins on the front line, and faster ones futher back on the flanks, so that they both reach the opposing army at about the same time.

All carrion beast types have relatively low magic resistance. While this is a disadvantage overall, it does mean they are more likely to benefit from Asphodel's unique mass buff spells, Puppet Mastery and Carrion Growth.

For some reason, probably an oversight, minotaur manikins and elephant carrion beasts do not have spirit sight, and despite what the mod inspector says they don't have darkvision either. Testing shows they take full penalties from Darkness. Darkness and similar spells are still recommended though, as these units will always comprise a small portion of your army.


Harpies have especially low combat speed, making them hard to use with other units. Moreover, they are the only manikin type that has 14 map move instead of 20, so including them in your army can limit your strategic mobility. They are size 1 with 2 Sleep Vines per troop, which adds up to 12 fatigue attacks per square, though admittedly at a very low attack value.


Human, satyr, minotaur, and bear manikins are all fairly slow frontliners. It may help to put the faster forest manikins in a line behind the human ones, to keep them all together.


Wolf, boar, and horse carrion beasts are fast flankers.


Elephants are some of your more valuable manikins. They also work well as flankers, though they are a bit slower than the other types. Elephants work well in their own squad, which helps to keep them together and concentrate their fear effect.


Sagittarian Carcasses are your most unique manikins. They are non-mindless sacred archer manikins who shoot entangling arrows. Because of the way troops spawn, they will never be a large part of your army, but they still help win battles. As archers, it will be easier to keep them alive, and once they run out of arrows they make an easy transition to melee, running down routing foes with a high combat speed. It is useful to have some non-mindless troops on the field to make sure spells like Mind Burn don't just target commanders. Their only downside is that they can't be taken across rivers or underwater.

Dominion Spawn Mechanics

To reiterate, this is what the game says about the dominion spawn mechanics:

Dominion: Reanimates the unburied dead as manikins. Carrion beasts everywhere but more in forests. Temples and growth scale increase reanimation rates. Magic scale increases the chance of better reanimations. Dominion kills population.

I ran a number of tests to try and see if data from in game backs up this description. You can look at the findings here. From what I can tell, the only part that is inaccurate is "Carrion beasts everywhere" as they only spawn in forests along with halfmen manikins. From this and a few other observations, we can summarize the dominion spawn mechanics with a few points:

  1. Manikins and Mandragoras spawn in every province with a sufficient amount of corpses, to a maximum of 4 total per turn. This is why they are labeled "corpse spawn" in the table above.
  2. All other manikins spawn in forest provinces, to a maximum of 4 per turn. This is in addition to the corpse spawn.
  3. Sagittarian Carcasses spawn in forest provinces with a temple, independent of other spawn limits. Further testing shows they do occasionally spawn in forests without a temple, but it's exceedingly rare. On average, you get about one every three turns, and neither Growth, Magic, nor Dominion appear to have any effect on this rate.
  4. The "better" reanimations appear to include Mandragoras, Minotaur manikins, Bears and Elephants, as these spawn rates precipitously drop off in Magic 0 vs Magic 3. These are labeled as "advanced" spawn in the table.
  5. Growth scales are a significant factor in reanimation rates. Temples and Dominion help too, though a high dominion (>5) will kill off your population very quickly with little gains to show for it.

Forests not only spawn troops at twice the rate of other provinces, but also spawn the most useful manikins, and continue to spawn manikins once the province runs out of corpses. Typically, you want to keep dominion at a mid level in forests for more troops, and as low as possible everywhere else for the income. This can be accomplished by taking a low dominion pretender, and only preaching in forests until you get to 4 or 5 candles.

It is worth it to build temples in forests ahead of forts for the extra spawn, assuming they are relatively safe from conquest. Keep in mind they only cost 200 gold in forests.

If you have to choose between Growth and Magic scales, I would always choose Growth. Numbers are what make a manikin army effective, and you will still be able to accumulate advanced manikin through reanimation. Growth also helps to counter pop kill, especially in low dominion provinces.

Reanimation Mechanics

For Asphodel, all reanimation is replaced by the "Awaken Manikins" action, which can be used by any undead commander with a priest level. This means that Asphodel cannot reanimate typical undead, as even generic reanimators like Mound Fiends raise manikins instead. Awaken Manikins requires corpses to be present in the province to function, similar to reanimating soulless.

The number of manikins reanimated is the priest level + 1, and the type of manikins you get is randomly determined. The distribution of results is similar to dominion spawn, but doesn't seem to be determined by Magic scales or anything else linked to the province. To maximize reanimation capacity, you want to use Nature gems to summon Carrion Centaurs and Death gems to twiceborn Black Dryads or Dryad Hags. Gems are your most significant bottleneck in this regard.

Items like Amulet of the Dead do not boost manikin reanimation rates. Manikins are like Tomb Wyrms and Lictors in this way, if you could select them from a list to reanimate they would probably not have a "+" next to their number.

National Summons

Asphodel's national summons are manikin reanimator priests. They can either be summoned directly via national spells, or transformed from one of Asphodel's recruitable mages by the spell Twiceborn. The latter is indicated by the alternative cost in Death gems, though it should be noted that this method additionally costs a recruited mage, whereas the other does not. All Centaur and Dryad mages become Carrion Ladies, and Panic Apostates become Carrion Lords. Centaur mages only cost 10 Death gems to cast twiceborn despite being size 3, probably because the game treats them as mounted units.

There is a chance that a twiceborn transformed unit will recieve an additional death path upon assuming its carrion form. Apparently, this bonus is connected to Twiceborn's events and is independent of the wight chassis that spawns. Panic Apostates who become Carrion Lords do not gain priest levels, though they do become Sacred.

For efficiency in reanimation, it is best to use nature gems to summon Carrion Centaurs, and death gems to twiceborn Black Dryads holding a Skull Staff. Gem expenditure is generally your most significant bottleneck to reanimation capacity, and these get you the most bang for your buck, respectively.

Carrion Lords are the only one of the three that I would utilize outside of reanimation. They are worth summoning in order to prophetize, to get a level 4 priest who can cast Carrion Growth. They also make excellent thugs, and for this I would recommend twiceborn Panic Apostates for their extra magic paths, especially the Earth and Death variants which both unlock crucial protection spells. Death variants also have a chance to become Death 4 mages this way, which is an important prerequisite for higher level Death spells and magic boosters.

Despite being priests, Asphodel's summons are unable to Preach, though there is little reason to use them in this manner.

Heroes

Sprite Unit Name Magic Special_Attributes Comments
Panicratos - Apostatic Warrior holy 11death 11nature 22 11 Stealthy (65)
Ambidextrous (4)
Berserker (+5)
Supply Bonus (20)
Sacred
Assassin
Forest Survival
Recuperation
Ambicephalos - Ettin Mandragora holy 11 Fear (5)
Ambidextrous (3)
Unsurroundable (1)
Sacred
Spirit Sight
Pierce-resistant
Undead
Inanimate
Need-not-eat
Forest survival
Recuperation
Resist poison (25)
Reanimator Priest

Asphodel's heroes are both useful, particularly in the early stages of the game. This is just another way that the nation benefits from high luck scales.

Panicratos is the only assassin you will have for a while, and can help deter early invasions by other players. Once you've researched Swarm he'll be able to use it to kill most commanders without worry. It's not a bad idea to give him a Kithaironic Lion Pelt for extra protection. Later he can counter thugs and SCs by dual wielding the Axe of Hate.

Ambicephalos is the sort of hero most nations dream of having. Though he underperforms as an SC in the late game, in the mid game he absolutely dominates. I like to boost his attack, defense, and protection as much as possible while giving him 4-5 attacks via Horned Helmets and other equipment. While he can self bless, it's also good for him to have a level 2 priest nearby who can cast Regrowth and give him regeneration on top of everything else. Ambicephalos works well both by himself or at the head of an army. He is the only manikin that lacks the Magic-being attribute, which is probably an oversight.

Magic Access

Asphodel is an undead nation that utilizes Nature and Death magic. It does three things particularly well: battlefield globals, chaff summoning, and thug self buffs. In practice, they function like MA Ctis - spam skeletons, wolves, and bugs while ratcheting up fatigue and poison damage on the enemy. As an undead nation they can freely make use of Darkness and Rigor Mortis, which only make this strategy more effective.

The Panic Apostate effectively sums up Asphodel's native magic access - 4 paths in Nature, 3 in Death, 1 in Water, and 1 in Earth. Furthermore, you can reasonably expect to reach 4 paths in Death over the course of a game through Twiceborn by selectively casting it on Death random Apostates - something you will want to do anyways. This means that, while native magic access is somewhat limited, you can expect to get high levels of Nature and Death on a number of mages without much effort, casting spells like Darkness and Syllable of Sleep without the need of a communion. Panic Apostates are slow to recruit, but can be recruited at any fort, and so are widely available.

Lamia Queens can be summoned by a Nature random Apostate equipped with a Thistle Mace. These allow Asphodel to break into Blood magic. Similarly, Spectral Mages can be summoned by a Death random Apostate and can break Asphodel into Astral magic if there aren't other options to get it.

Air is a useful path for Asphodel because of the Fog Warriors spell, which is a huge boon for manikin armies. You should try to secure Crystal Sorceresses early on if you can, otherwise Faerie Court can get you an air mage somewhat late in the game. Air is also useful as a Death cross path, giving you Wailing Winds, Wind of Death, and Foul Air, so consider putting it on a pretender.

National Spells

Carrion Centaur | nature 11death 11 | 8naturegem
Carrion Lady | nature 11death 11 | 16naturegem
Carrion Lord | nature 33death 22 | 35naturegem
The national summons, detailed in the previous section.

Grow Fortress | nature 44 | 35naturegem
Creates a Bramble fort on the province in which it is cast, replacing whatever fortification exists there already. Aside from more advanced spells, this is the only way Asphodel can build forts superior to palisades. Can only be cast in forests or shallow seas.

Quick Roots | holy 11
Puppet Mastery | holy 33
AoE and global haste for manikin and other undead. The global spell requires targets to fail a magic resistance check in order to get the benefit.

Mend the Dead | holy 33
Single target heal for manikins and other undead.

Regrowth | holy 22
Carrion Growth | holy 44
AoE and global regeneration for manikin and other undead. The global spell requires targets to fail an easy magic resistance check in order to get the benefit. It is usually worth it to script multiple castings.

Dark Slumber | nature 44death 22 | 15naturegem
One of the better remote attack spells, but not nation defining. Creates a minotaur manikin commander and a number of manikins (15-30?) and mandragoras (5-15?) which attack the province and remain afterwards to reinforce an army. It is superior to the manikin and mandragora construction spells merely by numbers created, not counting its other benefits. Like other remote attack spells, two or more castings on the same province in the same turn will combine the forces into a single attack. Can be used to attack thugs and raiders in the magic phase, or to support an invasion.

Combat Magic

Generally the goal of your magic in combat should be to minimize manikin attrition while ratcheting up fatigue on your opponent.

All of the Panic Apostate magic randoms are useful.
Nature randoms: Use for high level or gem intensive nature spells.
Earth randoms: Can be used to thug, or nature boost via Strength of Gaia and used like the nature randoms.
Water randoms: Can be used to thug, and needed to cast Foul Vapors.
Death randoms: Can be used to thug and is probably the best Carrion Lord SC candidate, can cast Rigor Mortis and Darkness with a Skull Staff and extra gems.

Troop Buffs: Carrion Growth, Wooden Warriors, Army of Giants, Mass Protection, Fog Warriors, Gaia's Blessing

Chaff Summoning: Horde of Skeletons, Swarm, Creeping Doom

Battlefield Globals: Foul Vapors, Howl, Darkness, Rigor Mortis, Relief

Area Fatigue or Immobilization: Shadow Blast, Syllable of Sleep, Storm of Thorns, Wild Growth

Area Morale Reduction: Panic, Terror

Single Target Elimination: Curse of the Frog Prince, Charm, Disintegrate

Thug/SC Self Buffs: Earth random: Ironskin, Temper Flesh, Strength of Gaia. Water random: Stygian Skin, Liquid Body, Quicken Self. Death random: Invulnerability and Soul Vortex.

Ritual Magic

Mother Oak

Twiceborn

Transformation

Well of Misery

Faery Trod

Dark Slumber

Beckoning

Wild Hunt

Haunted Forest

Enchanted Forests

Immortal Summons - Call the Worm That Walks, Call Wraith Lord, Lichcraft, Curse of Blood

Magic Items

Do NOT use the Amulet of the Dead, as this item does not boost your reanimation rates. Manikins are similar to reanimating Lictors or Tomb Wyrms in this way.

The Effigy of War is easy for you to make, and can be used by groups of Apostates and Black Harpy scouts to feint army assaults. You may want to give them a few manikin bodyguards though, or it will look like the whole army is made up of Apostates. You don't get any additional bonus for putting a second Effigy on a commander, but an Effigy will still work if a commander is set to Hide.

For thug gear, a Frost Brand and Kithaironic Lion Pelt is generally all you need to kit a Carrion Lord. Alternatively, an Implementor Axe is useful if you want Fear instead of AoE damage, and a Shadow Brand, Vine Shield, and Boots of Quickness are all good options if you want to invest more gems.

Ambicephalos - Ettin Mandragora is best used fully geared in my opinion, and good options for him specifically aside from what has already been mentioned are the Flesh Eater (for berserk), Main Gauche of Parrying/Sword of Swiftness (for defense), Ring of the Warrior, two Horned Helmets or Horror Helmets, and any high protection armor.

To counter thugs and SCs, you have the Axe of Hate and Black Bow of Botulf.

Though expensive, Cornucopias can be a good investment for Mid game armies that constantly rely on nature gems.

Panic Apostates equipped with The Black Heart make excellent assassins, and can be a good investment in the mid to late game. Unfortunately, the Chest Wound affliction is tied to the item, and is not healed through Recuperation.

If you're pursuing a sabotage strategy, scouts equipped with a Bane Venom Charm jumping from province to province can do a lot of damage.

Shademail Haubergeons allow you to make commanders stealthy if they are not already.

Strategy

(This is all still a bit speculative on my part - I think I've figured out a good way to play Asphodel but haven't yet tested it in a multiplayer setting. I'll probably be amending this quite a bit in the future. -Sopbucket)

Early Game

(How to expand, potential pitfalls and how to get around them, obvious weakness strength, how much do you have to focus on war/infrastructure)

Ideally you'll take an awake pretender to help with expansion - good choices are the Carrion Dragon (with Reforming Flesh and an Earth path) or the Drakon. Because you're a pop kill nation, you'll want to tank order, production, and heat scales since these don't matter as much over the course of the game. You should max out Growth and Magic for better freespawn, and put as much as you can into Luck for extra gold and gems.

An awake expander helps you secure forests in the expansion phase, protects you against early assaults, and gives you the ability to grow fortresses and cast Mother Oak without having to rely on Panic Apostates and boosters, jumpstarting your economy early on.

On turn 1, recruit a Panic Apostate and three Centauride Warriors. Set your Carrion Centaur to reanimate and move the Satyrs to your Minotaur Lord. Make Alteration 5 your research target and research with your pretender, or expand blindly if you dare.

In the next few turns, use your Panic Apostate to site search and focus on recruiting Black Dryads for research. You can recruit Black Harpy scouts and Minotaur Lord commanders in the forest provinces you take. Continue recruiting Centaur/Centauride Warriors and expand in parties of 9 to 11; be sure Minotaur Lords are set to Stay Behind Troops or they will be killed. Try to move your expansion toward forest clusters if you can.

Don't spend your nature gems, and prepare to cast Grow Fortress on turn 6 with your pretender. This requires you to first build a lab in a forest province, which you will want to follow up with a temple. Continue recruiting Black Dryads at your new fort as well, until you get close to Alteration 5. By turn 17, you should be able to cast Mother Oak using your pretender - this is a good reason to take Nature 5 at your pretender creation. Alternatively, you can research Construction 4 and make a thistle mace to put on a Nature random Panic Apostate; this should allow you to cast Mother Oak around turn 21 which is still quite early. This way, you should be able to claim the global before anyone else does, and the extra nature gems will be crucial for building forts and reanimators more quickly, helping you snowball in strength.

Once you have Alteration 5, a good new target is Enchantment 5, as this gives you Twiceborn, Foul Vapors, Horde of Skeletons, Dark Slumber, and Faery Trod. Grab Construction 4 for thug gear if you don't have it, then continue on to Alteration 6.

Do NOT use your freespawn to expand - without large numbers and spell support they will just die in droves. After casting Mother Oak, summon a Carrion Lord and prophetize it, then gather all your freespawn into one army under this commander and a few supporting Panic Apostates. Carrion Growth combined with Wooden Warriors will make this force quite effective and cut down on attrition a lot.

With the rest of your nature gems, focus on summoning Bramble Forts and Carrion Centaurs, which are your most efficient reanimators per gem use. Bramble Forts do not increase your freespawn, but you'll need them to recruit more Dryads and Apostates, and to protect your temples.

Mid Game

(what is the first big research rush, what is the first big powerspike, where do you shift recruitment to? what are the big magic diversity issues, are there particular globals you should gun for)

After the expansion phase, you'll want to focus on recruiting mages over troops for as long as you can get away with it. This focus allows a well functioning Asphodel (with four or five forts) to surge in research in the mid game, making them quite formidable at this stage. It may be a good idea at this point to go after lands that you plan to keep out of your domininion, as you will need a tax base to support your growing mage army. At some point increasing upkeep combined with falling income will force you to stop recruiting researchers in all of your forts, every turn.

Good research targets at this point are Conjuration 6 for Lamia Queens, Howl, and Strength of Gaia, Enchantment 6 for Rigor Mortis, Alteration 7 for Mass Protection, Creeping Doom, Army of Giants, Darkness, and Soul Vortex, and Thaumaturgy 6 for Syllable of Sleep.

You'll want to make use of twiceborn transformed Dryads and Apostates - the former give you additional reanimators, created with Death gems instead of Nature, and the latter give you tough thugs/SCs. Battles at this stage will consist of either concentrated freespawn armies, or kitted thugs. Groups of Apostates can raid effectively using Horde of Skeletons, and so twiceborn enchanted Apostates don't need to be killed off immediately. You can have Black Dryads cast Twiceborn on themselves by giving them a Skull Staff.

The best Apostate thugs are the Death and Earth randoms. These can both raise their base protection through spells, and Death randoms can additionally use Soul Vortex, absorbing health and fatigue from those around them. You can equip these thugs with a Frost Brand, Vine Shield, and Kithaironic Lion Pelt, and they will perform just fine against most groups of enemies, just 20 gems or 14 with Dwarven Hammers. Keep in mind the twiceborn Carrion Lord form is also a manikin and sacred, so a dryad accompanying a thug can be scripted to cast Regrowth, Bless, and then retreat, giving it a blessing and regeneration. A Reforming Flesh bless stacks with this regeneration, totaling 20% regen per round.

Water random Apostates are still valuable for being able to cast Foul Vapors, a great way to kill enemy mages. Nature randoms are probably best tasked with casting supporting nature spells in large armies, Earth randoms are similarly good at this role because they can cast Strength of Gaia to boost Nature in combat.

You can use dryads to preach in enemy lands, spreading your awful scales and pop killing dominion there. This could be a way to fight back against a superior foe that you can't face directly.

Late Game

(How do you close out the game if you are in it, is the high level research stuff you can do uniquely well, does your nation fall off, aka do you have to force things to conclude swiftly)

I doubt Aspodel has a particularly strong late game, other nations will start to catch up and then surpass them in research, hard counters against undead start to show up, troops will be less effective overall and the corpses needed to generate manikins will start to go away. That said their magic should still be fairly useful.

After Alteration 7, it might be best to continue down Conjuration. Well of Misery, Wild Growth, Faery Court, and eventually Tartarians, assuming you have high death paths on your pretender. This could open you up to more magic diversity. A number of immortal summons are open to you; worm mages, liches, wraith lords. All of your thugs can cast Charm. Storm of Thorns and Disintegrate.

asphodel-ma.txt · Last modified: 2021/10/24 04:35 by wigglefig