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sceleria-ma

MA Sceleria, The Reformed Empire

Lore

"In the first Dominions, the Ermorian backstory influenced many of the other nations. When the eras were introduced in Dominions 3, the undead empire ended up in the late age and the Dominions history lost some of its coherency. With Dominions 4, I tried to straighten things up and once more placed the Ashen Empire of Ermor in the middle age where its antagonists and splinter empires can be found.

The backstories of Sceleria, Pythium, Marignon and Ulm are all influenced by Ermor. Several other nations have interacted with the nation or its shadow. It would be difficult to imagine the Dominions setting without Ermor."
-Illwinter

By the end of the Early Age, a new order of Thaumaturgs emerged within the Empire of Ermor. They foresaw the Cataclysm that would come from the dark arts practiced in Ermor, and urged the last Emperor’s twin brother to declare a civil war to end such practices. Sadly, it was a self-fulfilling prophecy: as Eldregate was held under siege, the Elder Augurs and the Bishops of the Sacred Shroud both turned to Death itself to solve their problems, letting it loose and reducing the capital province to ash. The old empire’s provinces that weren’t reduced to deadlands became kingdoms and rump states, while the twin brother and the Thaumaturgs “reformed” the Empire, naming their new capital "Sceleria” to stand as a reminder of the wickedness that brought Ermor down. At the true start of the Middle Age, the Thaumaturgs had organized into a Death Cult that held absolute reverence for the Dead and the Laws of Death, hoping to hold back the Reawakening Emorian spectre with strict control over their own corpses. They honestly believe that Ermor is their cross to bear, and that no one else would be able to handle it.

General Overview

Originally MA Ermor when the Ashen Empire was LA Ermor (in Dominions 3), Sceleria has a small-but-effective toolkit. Death & Astral go together rather nicely, Divine Magic & Unholy Rites are both nice to have, and your Cavalry-less Middle Ages Legion can be reasonably effective when the nation's main selling point isn't ready or suitable. The main selling point of Sceleria is its horde of Reanimator Priests, along with the uncanny skill of its Longdead Legions. Sceleria also has the earliest access to Charming in the game through Apostasy, which will piss off most people when it works. If you know what you're doing, you can be a real pain in the butt as Sceleria, bogging down most opponents with sheer numbers. If you can't handle your infrastructure or balance your fort turns well enough to have enough Reanimators, however, you'll be in for it. The AI doesn't know how to use its reanimators, and playing against Sceleria in a single-player game is an oddly underwhelming experience.

National Features

Race Military Magic Access Priests Buildings
Humans
Some Undead
Mid-Roman Legions
Assassins
Gladiator Levies
Undead Legions
Sacred Ghostly Vestals
Sacred Undead-busters
astral 33 (rare 4)
death 33 (rare 4)
air 11 (uncommon, rare 2)
water 11 (uncommon, rare 2)
Powerful (holy 33)
Reanimators
Standard Forts

Capital Special Sites

Temple of the Dead Temple of the Spheres Campus Sceleris
* Enables recruitment of Lictors
* Enables recruitment of Censors
* Produces 3 per month
* Enables recruitment of Grand Thaumaturgs
* Produces 1 per month
* Enables recruitment of Shadow Vestals
* Produces 1 per month

Notable Units

FIXME General description of the units in the nations rooster, any standouts, shared qualities aka temperature, any foreign rec, what makes a good basis for planning around

Commanders

FIXME description of the workhorse options, for the sake of sanity better skip the clearly subpar and generic stuff (no h1 unless special qualities, no 40, 60 leadership dudes that are average, no scouts

Sprite Unit Name Special Attributes Comments
Scout
25
4
1
Stealthy (50)
Mountain Survival
Forest Survival
Scouty McScouts.
Assassins are for when you're in no rush but you still want to expand, or for when you're sick and tired of the AI always catching your Scouts in singleplayer games.
Assassin
60
4
1
Stealthy (65)
Assassin (1)
Ambidextrous (2)
Centurion
70
21
1
Unremarkable hacks with 80L.
Legatus Legionis
110
21
2
Unremarkable hacks with 120L.
Unchanged from the Early Ages (like the Centurions), they're screwed by their lack of shields in the face of crossbow fire.
Scelerian Cultist
45
1
1
holy 11
Sacred
Reanimator Priest
The unsung hero of Sceleria.
If you're not recruiting these guys, then you're probably not Reanimating enough.
The Mages can Reanimate too, sure, but they're nowhere near as cheap or as plentiful as these guys.
Thaumaturg
110
1
2
astral 11death 11holy 22
9
Sacred
Reanimator Priest
It's a bit unfortunate that this is your only off-capital Mage, but he can do most of what you'll need him to do. Consider getting to Evocation 4 so you can have these guys spam Nether Bolt, and later Evocation 7 so they can spam Nether Darts.
Censor
90
29
1
Capital Only
Sacred Patrol Bonus (10) Pretty-much exists solely to lead your Shadow Vestals and other undead guys, or perhaps to do some very light "thugging".
Your Grand Thaumaturgs are typically a lot better at the job, however, especially those Air randoms with Air Shield.
Grand Thaumaturg
300
1
4
Capital Only
astral 22death 22holy 33random1100%
10%

15
Old Age (55/50)
Sacred
Reanimator Priest
While not very turn-efficient, these jaded old coots can do theoretically anything.
holy 33 gives them/you full access to Sceleria's repertoire of Holy and Unholy trolling (including Apostasy), Astral gives them Communions & out-of-the-box damage with Mind Burn, Death gives them some of the best off-script utility with Skeleton-spamming, and being a Level 3 Reanimator Priest gives them higher-quality Reanimations.
Every random path available to the Grand Thaumaturg brings something neat to the table, especially with Communions, though the neat things tend to be far apart in the Research lists.

Troops

At some point during each Sceleria game, the Sceleria player (if they haven't been annihilated yet) will transcend the need for purchasing troops due to how many skeletons they have at their disposal. Until then, there are these guys.

Sprite Unit Name Special Attributes Comments
Slinger
7
2
3
Why is this game so harsh towards slings? The sling was a quite-respected weapon before Rome fell.
Retiarius
10
1
9
Levy One has a net, while the other has two attacks. Both are money sinkholes that shouldn't be relied on too much, primarily because they leave after seeing blood. They are decently strong in the early game if you need to boost your armies for expansion or need to spam them to defend in a very early war. For early expansion, you can have a separate squad of gladiators in the same army as Velites. Have the Velites further up with fire closest orders, and have the gladiator squad in a flanking position with hold and attack rear orders. This means they'll only really see blood if they're needed and will conserve their numbers as you expand.
Gladiator
10
1
9
Levy
Velite
10
10
9
Skirmisher They didn't teach Ermor's skirmishers how to skirmish until after it fell. How does that make you feel?
Alae Legionnaire
10
20
9
The Ala were soldiers drummed up from Roman "allies", so even now you're not playing with Imperial Legions. These guys are essentially Velites that won't die as fast.
Hastatus
11
21
12
Alae Legionnaires with Swords instead of Spears.
Principe
14
21
20
You can really feel the extra point of HP, Attack, Defense, & Precision that these elite troops have over the Hastati. That might just be Sunk Costs Fallacy, however.
Triarius
15
29
25
Old Age (55/50)
Formation Fighter (2)
Formation Fighter means that these guys can fight four to a square, which actually ameliorates some of their Old-Age-based stat problems due to increased attack density. Unfortunately, it does not fix the problem of them costing a lot and possibly gaining serious afflictions every winter.
Praetorian Guard
20
30
35
Old Age (55/50)
Bodyguard (3)
Joins Injured (50%)
Though most of your high-priority targets can be protected from assassination by Researching Horde of Skeletons and other skeleton-spamming fare, having a Bodyguard or two won't hurt, and these guys are actually the hardest-hitting troops in your off-capital lineup… provided that they don't join with a missing limb or barely-functioning muscles.
Standard
20
21
21
Standard (1) A Hastatus with a strangely-uplifting banner.
It doesn't hurt to have a bit of extra morale, especially when you might accidentally spook your own forces with Terror and other Fear spells.
Lictor
26
29
31
Capital Only
Sacred
Patrol Bonus (2)
Special guys with Magic Battleaxes that Paralyze Undead foes.
They pack a punch against everyone, not just zombies and spooks.
Shadow Vestal
45
6
31
Capital Only
Sacred
Undead
Need not Eat
Ethereal
Stealthy (40)
Spirit Sight
As cool as these ghostly zombie-girls with Magic Spears are, they are pretty-much useless for Sceleria. The Reformed Empire doesn't have any Stealthy Commanders. Its Censors can organize Vestals in formations, but the Vestals won't get a Morale boost due to the Censors' mediocre Leadership. Shadow Vestals also compete with Lictors (who are better damage-dealers) and Undead-horde-printers for attention in your capital, in addition to costing a fortune.
You could design a Pretender God that can use them to their fullest potential, but that's a meme in the same vein as Pythium's Battle Vestals.

Heroes

Sprite Unit Name Special Attributes Comments
Mortius - Scythe Wielder astral 22death 33holy 22 15
Sacred
Reanimator Priest
Gem Generator
Essentially a free Grand Thaumaturg that is holy 22 rather than holy 33, but generates 1deathgem per month and has greater HP, strength, attack skill, and defense skill.
Wields an Infernal Scythe
Zirru - Grand Thaumaturg astral 22death 44nature 22holy 22 21
Sacred
Poison Resistance(5)
Supply Bonus(20)
Cold Blooded
Swamp Survival
Swimming
Reanimator Priest
Very good mage with high death magic access and one of Sceleria's only native access to nature magic. As a result, very strong Communion Master
Scassius - Great Consul air 11 7
Sacred
Tax Collector
Large army leader that has modest magic access and summons a squad of troops at the beginning of each battle.
Summons 1d6 Pikeneers, 2d6 Maceman, 3d6 Spearman
Pompey - Thrice Triumphant water 11death 11nature 11 11
Sacred
Swamp Survival
Supply Bonus(10)
Inspirational(1)
sailing(999)

Magic

National Spells

FIXMEnational spell or summon cost and usecase, judgment if it's good.

Magic Access

FIXME What magic path/mages define your nation, what can you level, e.g., thunderstriking, astral, elementals, earth buffs, blood, what is recruitable anywhere and good, what are some summons you are likely able to get and are useable

Combat Magic

FIXME What is the best spell you can use in combat. What spells the best support your national lineup, Is there weakness that you need to fix? Any tricks you should be aware you have?

Ritual Magic

FIXME What is the best ritual you could cast. Are there any globals you want up, any units you should be summoning? Are there any Generic rituals few nations can cast?

Magic Items

FIXME Do you have any National items(Construction Level, Price, and required Paths). Any unique generic items few other nations can forge? What item would be useful on your unit lineup (non-standard recommend thug gear)?

National Items

FIXME nation exclusive items

National Dicount Items

FIXME items you get national Discounted on (Reduced Price and required Paths). Any Reasons your nation may want to forge it?

Strategy

Power Curve

Sceleria has a very modest start pretty much regardless of the opening build. You have access to armored legionnaire troops as well as sacred Lictor and Shadow Vestal troops. Legionnaire troops are above average, relatively inexpensive human troops that are solid throughout the game as the living backbone of your army. Early on, Velite and Gladiators will make up the bulk of your expansion parties, aided by the good leadership levels of your starting Centurion commanders, which give a morale boost to up to 3 squads. Unless you have a nation build that has a very strong bless specifically geared towards Sceleria's sacred troops, Lictors and Shadow Vestals are seldom used for expansion.

In the Early Game, Thaumaturg and Grand Thaumaturg are very strong mage-priests despite only having guaranteed Death/Astral paths. An early Grand Thaumaturg is an excellent site searcher as it will have guaranteed 2A/2D with a chance for a third path. Thaumaturgs serve as your main researchers and can cast Reanimation to bolster your early expansion parties with Longdead.

Scelaria’s first power spike comes after it can field enough mages to form communions to support its armies. This allows groups of mages to cast higher level spells or spam low and mid-level spells. One common mid-game tactic is to use communions to continually cast the spell Horde of Skeletons to continually reinforce an army through big fights at thrones or with other players. (see Communions)

Sceleria begins to get exponentially more powerful once it has access to communions and is able to utilize groups of Scelarian Cultists and Thaumaturgs to freespawn Longdead armies. Backed by large communions with Grand Thaumaturgs as Communion Masters, these armies become very powerful. Other powerful spells that communioned Grand Thaumaturgs can cast include Soul Slay, Enslave Mind, Wailing Winds, Fog Warriors, and Mass Flight. They can even cast Undead Mastery and Master Enslave if they research all the way to Thaumaturgy 9. In the extreme late game, Sceleria has the potential to cast virtually any combat spell in the game as they can add indie mages and summons with diverse magic paths into their communions.

Expansion Strategies

Thanks to Roman Legion style troops that are relatively inexpensive and have good protection, Sceleria typically doesn't have trouble with expansion. Expand with Velite and Gladiators to start, then mix in undead once you have Enchantment 1 and can cast Reanimation and Revive King. Don't forget to use your Longdead and Mound Kings early to take any available water provinces! Send out a mage to site search as soon as possible. Death gem income is essential to early ramp-up as you need them to cast Reanimation (using your priests' reanimate ability is too slow for early game and is only good once you've been able to mass Thaumaturgs and Cultists). A mobile, awake pretender will definitely help with both expansion and early survival but it's not an absolute necessity. A Dormant pretender with better Order/Prod/Growth will scale well into late game if you believe you can expand well and survive early without it.

Keep an eye out for provinces that allow you to recruit Lizard Shaman. They have Astral/Nature cross paths, so you can use them to incorporate Nature magic into your communions. This combo is very, very strong for Sceleria, so if you see such a province, put a fort/temple/lab on it immediately. Other indie mages are usually not particularly worth it unless they have 2 or more paths or have lvl 2 or higher in a path that Sceleria can't natively access.

Example Pretender Builds

Let's play

sceleria-ma.txt · Last modified: 2022/05/12 14:49 by astigiano