Oh ya, I know a thing or two about Shinuyama.
Fuck most of your summons. You will be too busy dumping your gems into the greatest thug in the game: the Bakemono Wight Sorcerer. Those guys are disgustingly good! Let me start at the top though.
You start the game with a BANG! by recruiting ultra cheap Bakemono of one variety or another to expand with while simultaneously using Noppera-bo to assassin expand. Even with kinda bad scales you can get some pretty great expansion and with good scales you will do great in expansion. Seriously, those snot goblins barely cost as much as they should outside of mountains and when you get the big discounts they are frankly OP. Just drowning people in your favorite flavor of them works wonderfully.
Whats more you can crank out scouts from all highlands and mountains on the cheap too. Crank them out as fast as you can and enjoy ghetto Eyes of God as a national perk.
Bandits are cheap and effective human troops who you should use if you need disciplined stealthy troops. Take note of the fact that the archers have pretty solid melee abilities too. They are like budget tower guard! Just make a big blob of them and set them to fire and they will guard your mages way better than real bodyguards could.
Then their big brothers the Dai Bakemonos! Absolute melee supremacists with outrageous stats and equipment, and you can spend a few extra resources to give them a bow and all they lose if a point of def skill! A big blob of those around your mage line will absolutely shit on anything that flies back to stomp your mages, zotz, birds, even manticores, And holy shit do they take buffs well, but I'll get to that later.
Further in the glorious troop department you have Kappas for taking lakes and cracking UW forts (1.7 siege strength/20g isn't bad). Warning: Kappas don't take buffs super well so they don't hold up as well later on. Still fine troops, just not as glorious as the rest of your nation
Your last troop is the O-Bakemono. They kinda suck. Shitty armor means they need buffs to not die, and undisciplined means they don't sit still long enough to get buffs. But low resource and recpoint cost mean that you can crank them out in an emergency if you need power fast. Most of the time just get Dais instead
So great, you have a roster of cost efficient troops who fill a broad variety of roles with options for chaff, elites, attack density, attack quality, stealthy, UW, mage line defenders, spam archers for flaming arrows, and knock off gladiators making shinuyama a Strong nation even without looking at the mages But we haven't even gotten rolling yet.
You can buff them
You can buff them really well
You can buff them even while stealthy raiding.
Every Uba can castto point buff, the N randoms can cast , and the W randoms can cast for free. Burn some gems and you can cast , , , and with a Thistle mace even !
Slap some Earth Boots on an E1 shaman and you canup and cast and for free and if you spend gems
All of a sudden a basic Bakemono-Sho who only cost you 5g has 18 body prot (10 head), swings for 20 damage with attack skill 13 and has def skill 11, gets off 12 attacks/square each turn, takes half damage after taking protection into account, and then 75% of the time 15 points of that damage get shaved off thanks to mossbody! Oh, and he regenerates too.
Your Bakemono-Sho can now fight god, all in a stealthy army, and that is without Marble Warriors. Now slap those buffs on a Dai Bakemono archer withand you have a solid wall of fuck you.
And if you don't care about being stealthy you can even wheel out awith some to drop . Weapons of sharpness + Quickening will let you kill super combatants. Papa Illearth can't withstand that. Most nation can't kill Papa Illearth with thugs and magic, let alone with troops.
Every one of your armies is now pretty much super combatant proof in the late game.
And flier proof
And troop proof
And probably sacred proof.
Either they blow you up with magic or they go home in a body bag AND WE ARE STILL ONLY HALF WAY THROUGH THIS CRAZY TRAIN!
Lets talk about your commanders a bit
Noppera-Bo are assassins with nice att and def so they do well in melee but where they really shine is when you give them a 3 gem (thank yous) and/or a if you really want to splurge and suddenly she isn't just one skilled assassin but in fact actually an infinite stream of skeletons, who keep coming faster than they can be killed eventually dog piling even hardened generals.
Bakemono chiefs absolutely style on indy commanders by being the same price but better statted and stealthy.
are very interesting. They are excellent generals with 80 leadership and give formations. They are light thugs with great stats, an innate life drain attack (they keep it even when given a new weapon), 15 invulnerability, and a sleep aura! Slap some light armor like a on them and they are decent light thugs you can embed in your army for extremely strong sleep auras on the front line. You can even splurge on them with a and/or a and either have them as hard points in your battle line or just have them solo PD
s are shitty little mages you use to forge or provide fire/earth magic for stealthy armies. They are upkeep efficient researchers too but your still probably want to do your research with Ubas because Ubas have more utility. You can slap 3 fire gems on a bakemono shaman and tell him to Phoenix power and summon a full sized fire elemental for a stealthy way to pump out fire elementals either for raiding or for supporting an army. With a jar of fire they can Phoenix Power and spam Fireballs too.
1111100% they are formidable mages for only 135g. By shifting into ghost cat form and then shifting back in battle they can follow stealthy armies around and support them with full paths. W randoms can cast water elementals to raid or mossbody, quickness, wave warriors, etc. to support armies. N randoms can cast swarm or creeping doom to raid or drop wooden warriors/mass protection, foul vapors, poison ward, and sleep cloud in support of armies. If you are willing to spend a turn unstealthed you can have them hold a thistle mace for relief, howl, and mass regeneration too (you can use a scout who never unstealths following them around to carry the thistle mace). D randoms can spam horde of skeleton to raid or shadowblast to support armies. E randoms mostly just research thoughs are incredible mages and on any other (lesser) nation they would be a nation defining strength like the Boudas of Machaka. With
Now we get to the second half of the nation: the.The Bakemono Sorcerer is an 8 path mage! Let me say that again for the people in the back:
8 fucking paths!
In any fort!
And holy to boot!
These bad boys are amazing! They drop all sorts of big spells fromto to to . You name it, they cast it! They do forging and rituals too. They can make all sorts of nice boosters, even is not out of the question.
At 390g they are a bargain. But being expensive, slow to recruit, often in dangerous big battles, and clinically old as balls you will never have enough of them even though they are any fort. But that is ok, because for the low low price of 15d gems you canthem!
Now when they die they come back as a stronger, tougher, more durable wight. Not only do you get to keep using them as a mage but they stop being old, they get extra HP, they get poison and cold resistance, they get 0 fatigue, they get more map move, they get a chill aura, and they get more strength.
Fun fact: When they stop being old their shitty att and def skills go way, way up and you can thug them out they are almost the pantokrator's perfect thugs. You can slap them up with all sorts of buffs.This is a long list. You will be more constrained by casting time, scripting slots, and how many fluffers you can send along with them without risking an HP rout. That was a really long list so lets take a second to discuss the implications of all of these spells, because all of them are important.
Buff 'n' Fluff
A note on HP routing: keep your fluffers' HP total below that of the guy you are fluffing.
A note on fluffing: Do it! Fluffing makes a world of difference. Send an Uba or two and a bakemono shaman to cast Mossbody/Enlarge/Regeneration/Quickness/Iron Will/Iron Warriors/Blessing for every fight that might be even remotely dangerous. It will make your thugs so much better.
Now lets talk about gearing these big boys.
Gearing thugs gets talked about a lot and there is no shortage of contention about how to do it best. Imho people over think it; just give some decent armor and whatever resistances you need and go to town.
Slap aon there if you can to prevent unlucky morale rolls from routing you and maybe an AP weapon to counter-counter thugs if you really want to. But you don't need to worry too much about all this because in spite of their outstanding power and not insignificant cost, these Wight thugs are replaceable and will pay for themselves after only taking a few provinces. Gear them as much as you can but don't worry if you can't gear them perfectly, that takes a lot of gems and they are only ~400g units after all, and you did already invest 15d gems into twiceborning them.
Some notes on best practices…