Ongtupqa is a nation added in Dominions Enhanced based on Native American lore. It is part of a lineage - EA Chaco, MA Ongtupqa, and LA Ongtupqa. This guide will focus on MA Ongtupqa. You're gonna have a good time playing this nation.
Here's a general flow; as always, no two games of Dominions are the same and you're gonna vary this according to your situation.
The game plan is gonna be to expand (duh) and build forts rapidly. Not only because forts are good for anyone, but also because they scale your sacred production. The goal is around 25 provinces and 3+ forts @ Turn 12, subject to game settings and neighbor coalition habits.
I've found a script that works well for me, but YMMV depending on your bless:
Prophetize your commander, recruit a Sun Priest, max your sacreds, and spend all your remaining resources on archers / Spear warriors. These are pretty much the only mundane infantry you'll recruit all game, but the goal is to maximize your chance of expanding turn 2. Research Enchantment if you follow my Pretender recommendation - you want Personal Regen @ Enchantment 2.
Attack the best combination of vulnerability and resources in a neighboring province. The goal is to max your capital's sacred recruitment starting next turn.
The turn you're about to get Enchantment 2, also forge a repel stick for your Pretender (if you follow my Pretender advice). That way it can expand as soon as possible. Experiment with your Pretender in SP to see what it can/can't take on solo. Some of the chasses can solo barbarians and heavy cavalry; some cannot.
Max sacred recruitment and fill in the remainder with Snake Warriors. If you don't have a Snake Priest in your capital, make one, otherwise make a Sun Priest or Yaya. A Snake Priest + 6-10 sacreds and a couple of Snake Warriors set to Guard Commander can expand pretty well vs. anything but the typical spooks (Barbarians, Heavy Cav, Bone Tribe), for which you'll bring a bigger crew. Script the Snake Priest to Bless, Bless, Spells (so he doesn't run up and get himself killed), and put the sacreds on top of him with Hold & Attack so that he blesses both himself and them.
Start your second fort. You don't care too much about spacing the forts out for resources, because they typically have enough for you to build most of your sacred allotment, and none of the other troops matter. If you don't have an Indie commander recruitable where you want to build it, consider starting it with your scout and finishing with an indie commander recruited elsewhere. The sooner you start, the quicker you snowball. Priorities for fort spots are unique recruits (e.g. Amazons), followed by gold income, followed by choke points.
Fill up a site-searching party (typically a Yaya, Sun Priest, Katsina Priest, and any hero you got) and start searching. This crew can search FWENS at a minimum, and sometimes Air. I tend to treat site-searching similar to expansion where I send out "parties" of site-searchers, but do whatever works for you. Make sure to set your site-searchers to "retreat" and put them at the back of the battlefield, so an unlucky Barbarian attack doesn't wreck you. You want to site-search early and often, because you'll be especially hungry for gems later. Many of your heroes have Death: if you don't have Death in your site-search party, when you finally do get it, consider just summoning Revenants and casting Dark Knowledge.
The turn you finish a fort, build a temple (so they finish at the same time). That way you can start recruiting sacreds right away. All your mages are sacred, so the only reason you might skip a temple is if there's a nice indie mage like Amazons or something and you don't need the troops.
The nice thing about the incredible magic diversity is that you can "choose your own adventure" depending on who you're facing. A big target is Mother Oak, since many of your best sacred summons want Nature gems, in addition to all the equipment.
In general, I would probably order my research something like this (in a vacuum):
Here are some other spells worth calling out:
5 gets you elementals, unique summons, and Katsina Dance (a powerful thug). It also gets you goodies like Awaken Sleeper (great troop commander) and Animal Horde (tons of chaff).
6 gets you Yaayapontsa Dance (thug/SC chassis) and Summon Achiyalatopa (Air communion master bird)
4 gets you Swarm, Body Ethereal, Quickness
5 gets you Mother Oak, Solar Eclipse (all your guys have Spirit Sight!), Bone Melter, Iron Warriors, and Maws of the Earth, as well as various situational spells. This is a great level for you!
6 gets you Vision Trance (final Povosqa upgrade spell), Become Giant, Transformation, and Battle Fortune.
Not as much here, but …
3 gets you Sleep Cloud
4 gets you Flaming Meteor (poor man's Gifts from Heaven that's surprisingly effective)
5 gets you the real Gifts from Heaven, and Falling Fires. You also get Earthquake, though you have to be careful not to destroy your communion. Side note: don't lose your communion to someone else's Earthquake.
6 gets you Astral Fires and Mind Hunt. Stream of Life is a neat idea but I haven't bothered with it.
Besides the obvious (and with your cross-paths you can forge a lot of stuff!) …
Erect Graven Idol (Con 5) summons an immobile with solid paths
If you took Blood on your Pretender (or lucked into enough blood slaves for an empower), Erect Altar of Sacrifice (Con 7) is a solid way to break into Blood without needing more blood slaves.
Earth random Yayas can cast Golem Construction (Con 7)
4 gets you Flaming Arrows, Skill of Heroes, and Antimagic
5 gets you Manna from the Heavens, which is a great global for you, as you will likely have Death scales and you have cheap priests. It also gives you several situational spells including Healing Rain.
6 gets you Foul Vapors, Relief, and some strong globals / rituals.
4 gets you Paralyze, Cure Disease, and Heal Mind
5 gets you many goodies, including Gift of Reason, Growing Fury, Soul Slay, Gateway, and Dimensional Instability. If you can find the time to invest in Dimensional Instabilities, they pay off after 13 turns as well as boosting Magic scales. Gateway is a fantastic way to bring a surprise army to a fight.
6 gets you Enslave Mind and Syllable of Sleep. Release Throne Power is conditional depending on the throne(s) you've grabbed, but it's worth casting if you have thrones to cast it at. There are plenty of other goodies at this level, but I haven't experimented as much with them.
Crush your enemies with summons buffed to the gills. Don't accidentally lose your communions. Alt 7 has the usual goodies. Every level of Conjuration has plenty of value. The usual game-breaking spells work for you too.
You've got the paths to forge plenty of boosters, so you should be able to cast the big spells you need with minimal empowering. See the section later on boosting.
You get access to some nation-specific Titan chasses: the Wuyas and the Katsin-manas. They all have Invulnerability, three paths (one of which being Nature), full slots, and a built-in Vine Shield. I like them as pretenders because the Vine Shield effect means they need minimal equipment to expand awake, and the three paths means you can get a strong bless pretty cheaply in terms of design points. Play around with them and see what you like. As I'll get to later, being able to forge a Fire booster is a considerable bonus.
You do have +1 Nature bless point and +1 Water bless point, so consider that when making your selection.
As far as scales go:
Blesses - you've got a ton of options within any path - choose what feels right!
An example Pretender might be:
Wuya of the Sun
Morale, Attack +2, MR +1, Far Caster, PR +5, Poison Weapons, Blood Surge
Early game - the vine shield plus the Awe on this chassis makes expanding a piece of cake.
Mid game - this pretender gets all your summons with no empowering, and has useful cross-paths for forging. He can also easily cast globals.
Late game - you can break into Blood, you only need to empower S once to cast Wish (if that's your thing), other globals are on the table too.
My personal favorite chassis is the Katsin-Mana of Spring, which has lower stats but can fly! Regardless, you can take your bless in a lot of ways; have fun with it!
Basic scout / troop leaders / Mesa Priest - nothing remarkable about these guys. Your priests are cheap.
Great patroller / unrest reducer; start to sprinkle them throughout your empire in the midgame to catch nosy scouts. If you break into blood for any reason, these guys are great ways to manage the unrest from blood hunting. Also a good choice if there are false prophets or cults or whatever in your lands.
Your bread & butter recruit. You'll be recruiting a lot of these guys since they are efficient researchers who can either lead or follow communions. Don't forget that holy is boosted by communions too!
They cost more than Sun Priests, and have old age, so you won't recruit as many, but they let you have communion masters in more diverse paths, and forge cross-path items. You should have a few of these around to diversify the magic you can bring to battles, but don't make too many.
These guys are deceptively useful. You'll need some for the 2N or 2E forging potential, and since you can make Crystal Matrices / Berries of Gaia, they can join the communions too. This is important for casting powerful E spells in particular. ¼ of them have Air; these guys and the Povosqas (next) are your Air access until summons are online. At Alt 6, you can turn the 2N ones into Giants.
They're less efficient researchers, but the main thing about them is their upgrade path. For 8 gems (Vision Quest, Alt 3) and then 12 gems (Vision Trance, Alt 6), you can upgrade them into a F1A1E2N1 Master Ritualist, who can then cast most of your national summons as well as forge a variety of useful stuff. The upgrade process is expensive, but it's useful to have 1-3 fully-upgraded Povosqas sprinkled around your empire so you can deploy your summons where you need them. The upgraded versions also have a perk of avoiding bad events.
Cap-only slow-to-recruit powerful communion master. All four of the randoms are good in their own ways, and your capital will likely be recruiting these as fast as possible. Guaranteed W/N cross paths mean that these guys can cast Foul Vapors without gear. Native Holy 2 means that it only takes 8 communion slaves (or 4 and Power of the Spheres) to cast Holy 5 Divine Wrath, which is a powerful way to combat enemy sacreds. Make sure to spread out the ones not in combat, to make better use of the Fortune Teller ability.
Cap-only troop leader with magic paths. The ability to freespawn sacred snakes isn't noteworthy, since you only get 1/turn and the snakes aren't very good, though you can bless them. I make a few of these guys to lead expansion parties, but after that I'd stick to Yayas.
These guys are all cheap but terrible. Do not recommend.
Cheap composite bow, pairs nicely with Flaming Arrows which you can easily communion/Phoenix Pyre into.
Cap-only troop with decent stats. The poison spear is a cool trick. Early-game, your cap can recruit some of these guys (only bother if you've hit your holy point limit!), to supplement expansion parties. Later on, it's better to spend the money on mages, sacreds, or infrastructure.
You've got two - the only difference is whether the second hand is holding a shield or a second weapon. Choose the second weapon! The result is pretty amazing - for 28 gold, you get: 2 attacks that hit decently hard, even before blessing
Gives a great thug chassis having N2E1H1 and a built-in vine shield. Can be lightly kitted (just armor + a brand) for simple tasks, or given a whole suit as an early SC. You'll spend quite a few Nature gems on these guys.
Cast with an N random Katsina Priest, or a N random Povosqa. Just needs a thistle mace (and a Vision Quest in the case of the Povosqa).
Another great thug/SC chassis, having F3A2 plus a random. Does not have the built-in Vine Shield, instead having Fear, and a Fire Shield. Can Cloud Trapeze, Mistform, Body of Flames, and Phoenix Pyre, amongst other things. Can also cast Desert Winds to supplement archers.
Casting requires a fully-upgraded Povosqa with an F booster.
Summons a bird with A2S2. These are your primary way to get the AS cross-path, which adds options to your communions (Fog Warriors, anyone?). As birds, they also have high mobility and siege strength.
Yayas can easily cast this.
Summons a caster with N2 plus a random, that increases Growth. If you take Death scales, you can park one of these in high-income provinces like capitals to mitigate the effects.
Generally to be avoided - use the N gems on Katsinas - but a few could be useful.
Summons a big trampler that can lead armies and has 100 supply bonus. Generally not a great use of the gems in my opinion, but you can summon a bunch of creatures and do a druid impersonation if that strikes your fancy.
Summons a unique guy with F3A3N3, stealth, and glamour. Nihualla also has this spell, so if they are in the game, then you have a mini race for this guy, though he's not critical by any means. The paths are nice, particularly since he can summon Yaayapontas without any boosters.
Summons a bird with no magical paths that auto-casts Storm in battle. You'll know if that's something you need.
Hard-to-cast: your options are an upgraded Povosqa with two boosters (which require at least A4 to make anyways), Coyote with a booster, or your Pretender.
Summons an SC chassis with N3E2H2 plus a random, and a built-in Vine Shield. Like Katsina Dance but bigger, with more than 2x the HP and more magic. Take note of Death Power -1.
N random Katsina Priests or Povosqas are the best ways to cast this.
Summons a big sacred leader that auto-casts Howl in battle. He's a great leader, though take care to give him MR gear or a bunch of decoy animals, so someone doesn't just Charm Animal and steal him.
Easiest way to cast this is to summon a Naiad and give her +2N worth of boosters.
Summons an awesome unique SC with F3E2D4. Can use him to climb Death too, though that's likely a waste of his talents. Only you have access to this guy.
None of your recruits have Death magic, so your options for casting this are your Pretender, or one of your heroes (Nequatewa). That hero's flavor text mentions this guy quite a bit, so consider Masauwu a bonus reward for getting that hero.
Another unique shared between you and Nihualla. She's a N4H3, which means she can claim thrones should you be unlucky enough to not have water for Bishop Fish.
Summons a blessable bird. The rate of summoning is slow enough that I wouldn't recommend casting this spell.
Only castable by A random Katsina Priests
Now we're talking - this gets you 5+ blessable birds. The birds aren't very tough, but they're good for sieges and can mess with enemy formations.
Requires an A random Katsina Priest with a booster to cast, or one of your national heroes
Summons a decent berserking troop; the problem is that you only get one. I wouldn't spend your earth gems / mage turns on these.
Summons a sacred dude with good HP and a built-in Vine Shield. The only armor is 10 Invulnerability, so these guys are fairly easy to kill until you can give them Iron Warriors buffs, and only getting one per mage turn means that they are hard to mass. Solid Gift of Reason target, though you could just cast Katsina Dance and save a step for a comparable result.
Summons 5+ sacred troops who, while only having half the HP of the Ogre, still have the Vine Shield. More efficient in terms of mage turns, though the low prot is still a concern.
Upgrades your Povosqas. As mentioned above, upgraded Povosqas make a lot of the summons easier to cast.
Gives +2 growth in the province for the rest of the year. This equals +2% income during that timeframe, plus +1.2% income over the whole game from pop growth. Debatable on whether it's worth the gems; I would only bother on provinces with 200+ gold income, and if I missed it I won't be losing any sleep.
Thanks to your magic diversity, you can climb most of the paths pretty effectively. Here are some of your options in each.
Fire - if you have a way to get one booster (usually from your Pretender), then an upgraded Povosqa (Alt 3) can summon an F3 Flame Spirit (Conj 6) or Yaayapontsa (also Conj 6). Don't bother with the Flame Spirit cause the Yaayapontsa is better and the cost is the same. Since this is your gateway to powerful summons and spells, I recommend choosing a Pretender that has one of the following to start this process:
Air - you can get A2 from Contact Faery (Conj 6) or Summon Achiyalatopa (also Conj 6). You can get A3 from summoning Coyote (Conj 7) provided you got to Fire 4. However, boosting past there requires either an A4 pretender, a Staff of Elemental Mastery, or a universal booster.
Water - you'll often have W3 Yayas, which can forge Robes / Bracelets to get to 5. You can also summon Naiads. From there, an Elemental Queen takes you the rest of the way.
Earth - E2 Katsina Priests can forge Earth Boots. Give them to an upgraded Povosqa (Alt 6) and he can cast Chthonic Awakening (Ench 7) to get an E4 caster, who can wear the boots to get to 5 and let a King go the rest of the way.
Astral - Earth random Yayas can wear the boots to make Crystal Coins. Any Yaya can make Starshine Skullcaps. Put both on a S3 Yaya and that takes you to 5. Going higher requires lucking into an S4 Yaya (1/40 chance), empowerment, an artifact, or a universal booster. However, if you empower once you can make the Ring of Sorcery and then a Ring of Wizardry.
Death - several of your heroes give you Death 2, which means you can make a Staff and summon Mound Kings (Conj 7) to get to Death 4. To get past Death 4 requires empowerment or a universal booster. At Death 5, you can forge a Skullface to get to death 6, as well as summon Liches (Ench 8)
Nature - you can easily forge Thistle Maces, which you can give to N2 Yayas to forge Moonvine Bracelets. Put both on a summoned Naiad and you can forge a Treelord Staff, getting you to at least Nature 6. Make a copper arm if that's not enough.
Blood - nope (unless you take it on your pretender, which isn't a bad idea)
As mentioned above, you can boost pretty effectively in most paths. I recommend having a way for your pretender to forge a universal booster or a fire booster, as that unlocks some of the Conj 6/7 stuff.
For combat, don't forget that you can forge Crystal Matrices and Berries of Gaia to bring non-Astral mages into communion!
This is a cool nation that can really make use of all the magic Dominions has to offer. You've got a lot of ways to play and clever synergies to exploit. Have fun with it!
If you have any feedback or questions, send them to me (@bcnoexceptions on Discord).