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Shock and Awe - Caelum in the Early Age

Author: disnegativ
Version: 1.1

All Caelians are blessed with wings and with beauty. Many even with various resistances and magic weapons. This is so common among them that Caelians barely notice and they aren't considered sacred despite these blessings bestowed upon them. But there can be no doubt that Caelians are meant to rule the world - why else should they be so blessed?

As a nation of largely non-sacred mages and troops Caelum isn't suited to contemplative and passive play. Long before other nations Caelum runs up upkeep and its disposable income shrinks away. Caelum can not fulfil its fate like that. Caelum is the storm, not the turtle hiding in fear.

What tools does Caelum bring to the ascension wars?

Earlier guides from Dominions 4, both still worth reading

The light lancers

Spire Horn Warriors are cheap, storm-flying, size 3, light infantry lancers with minor cold and shock resist. Their weapon is magical. They are the core of your military. Their first strike hits for an impressive 18 pierce damage, but they don't do well in prolonged melee. Leather armour and absence of helmets gives them very little capacity to absorb damage whether in melee or from ranged fire.

Spire Horn Militia / Raptorian Militia are even cheaper troops, but in turn are lacking stats and lance, and for the raptorians also resists and magic weapons, i.e. everything that makes spire horn warriors viable troops. Don't recruit them unless to hold up fort walls in an emergency.

Airya Light Infantry are very comparable to spire horn warriors exchanging a bit of strength, shock resist and storm-flying for better though temperature dependent armour and 15 cold resist. Main utility is to field them in freezing mists or amongst falling frost which they shrug off much better than their brethren of the spire horn, though both spells are much more common in the Middle Age.

The medium swords

Raptorian Warriors are a medium sword infantry, trading storm-flying, resists, magical lance (and thus the charge) for stats, a cap, better armour and a sword. This exchange leaves them much more survivable and their swords (15 slash/pierce) should outdamage the ice lances (13 pierce outside the charge) of spire horn warriors in prolonged melee - yet it will require several rounds of combat to reach this point and they are still only medium infantry by themselves, so it is far from certain they will last long enough.

Airya Infantry are to the raptorian warriors what airya light are to spire horn warriors. They trade stats (attack, defence, strength) for cold resist, a temperature dependent armor and a magic weapon. In cold scales (on the defensive) they can reach respectable armour of 18 head, 13 body.

The sad elites

Tempest Warriors pay for the privilege of armour similar to raptorian warriors, ice lance and slightly improved stats (attack, base defence, hitpoints, morale all +1) compared to spire horn warriors with a steep 50% increase in gold cost. Unlike their storm guard successors in middle age, they are not worth the cost. They used to be bugged and even worse, but so rarely are they used, that people barely noticed.

Iceclads are again the Airya variation of the theme and a rather dubious investment that compares badly to their middle age successors bearing the same name. In cold scales, however, their armour reaches genuine heavy infantry levels (head 25, body 18 in cold 3) so you may find a use for them.

The unknown sacreds

Mairya Warriors are stealthy and sacred medium lancers with good stats. Compared to the spire horn warrior they gain strength+2, attack+2, base defence+2, hitpoints+3, morale+3, a solid hat and body armour+2 before the blessing. They give up resists and magical lance. They are cap-only. At a price of only 20 gold they are among the cheapest sacreds in their age. They benefit enough from even a small bless (e.g. attack, strength) to be considered a worthwhile addition to your lineup. A mere strength+4 bless gives them a 25 pierce damage charge that may well be an unpleasant surprise for opponents counting on Caelian troops being unable to damage armoured troops or pretenders.

Airya Temple Guards are the odd ones. They cut off their wings so as not to be tempted to retreat. They feature the same armour as iceclads while being competent fighters. If you took a small bless to benefit your Mairya Warriors, they can well form a sturdy core to a home defence army, but in general this remains a niche unit.

The archers

Spire Horn Archers are precise, very mobile shortbow archers. They - and all your other archers - suffer from the antisynergy of shooting arrows while you have light infantry both able to fly much more damaging lances right into the enemy and said lancers being very susceptible to friendly fire. They still are eminently useful. A good way to take on heavy barbarian or lizard indies early in the game and an option throughout the game. They can be combined with a flaming arrows cast to add a significant and unexpected fire damage output to your armies.

Blizzard Warriors are precise, very mobile shortbow archers as well, the only stormimmune Airyas and only available in your capital. They are famed for their frostbows. Magic bows - that ignore fire blesses and flaming arrows - and do significant cold fatigue damage. This is an important tool against any elite force, pretender or thug marching into Caelum under the assumption that shock resistance is enough. Many a sacred - that people tell you to cower from - can be cut to size once it feels the need to sit down and sleep.

Kavi Archers are very precise, very mobile, sacred shortbow archers. They are rather cheap at 16 gold. They come with stormpower 2 that is sadly wasted for their lack of a better sidearm. They still are sacred archers, however. And if you are feeling fancy it is entirely possible to give them a weapon bless that allows you to rain down arrows featuring yet another damage type, in addition to the pierce, fire, cold damage your other archers can already inflict on the enemy.

The Mammoth

Finally, as the last and most expensive recruitable unit, you have the Mammoth. A veritable air elemental on legs it is always a force to be reckoned with. They are probably the best of the elephant type units in the game sporting a significant protection of 13, 72 hitpoints and an above average (for elephants) morale of 10. Most importantly they are cheap in resources (120 gold / 20 resources), cheaper than your light lances (10 gold / 7 resources), making them a viable option even during expansion phase. Even though they move by foot, they have decent map move thanks to their snow-move ability.

The Caelian Scout - Information warfare

The Caelian Scout is your most important unit. Use fort turns to recruit them. They are cheap, have improved stealth and fly so they spread out faster across the map. They give you a decisive lead in information - and unlike other nations you have the mobility to exploit that. Do it.

Once you have the advantage, maintain it. Do you have some crippled / battle frightened veterans that you don't want to bring to battles? Some fresh recruits that aren't yet needed? Let them patrol, they are good at it. A river crossing or mountain pass scouts on foot have to pass by? Do it there and your enemies will keep flying blind.

The first war

Wait! War already, but what about our mages? Why do you talk only about troops? This happens for a reason. You can't wait. You don't have time. Win your first war on the back of your troops - use your magic as a welcome help when it comes online. You should know what your neighbours are fielding by now and you should be able to counter that. You can start a war before you are ready and fly on sight. It is enough to be ready once you have taken all their lands.

Mages and magic

Eagle Kings are shock and awe incarnated. One of the strongest air mages in the game, and so adorable that most people are stunned by awe. Their paths are air 44water 11earth 11random010% with rare randoms, innate resistances and storm-immunity. Expensive, cap-only and slow to recruit, they are nonetheless the centerpiece of your mage corps. You won't get many of them, so use them well.

Airya Seraphs are air 22water 11 mages known to Caelum in all ages. They are not sacred and cost 125 gold. They form the bulk of your corps of battle mages early on, but you will need less of them later on.

Harab Seraphs are air 11death 11random1100% mages with a AED random, non-sacred, 115 gold. They come in three variants. The air 22death 11 fill a similar role as Airya Seraphs. The air 11earth 11death 11 do duty as your earth mages, forgers and summoners. The air 11death 22 is a decent death mage and transforms Caelum into a death power bigger than the modest path suggests. They will become more prominent the longer the game lasts.

Airya Seraphines are fire 11holy 22 priest mages at 110 gold. As stealthy holy 22 priests with 40 leadership, they can both lead (when stealth is required) and bless your sacreds. Sermon of courage is another useful spell they can cast. They are also fire 11 mages and will within time break you into fire magic.

Spire Horn Seraphs at air 11, they are ridiculed and maligned and often not recruited at all. This is a mistake. They are - for the bargain cost of 45 gold - a very capable mage. They are storm-immune. This has several results - they don't suffer from reduced precision in storm and the lightning bolts cast by them (guided by the wind or after buffing themselves with Aim) are the precise scalpel that removes units that your magically more powerful air 22 mages miss with their thunderstrikes. They can also fly to retreat in storm if a battle goes awry - which shouldn't happen, but inevitably will from time to time. Researchers, mages for lean times and battle mages in their own right they round out your mage lineup.

Really, just think about how little it takes to make a Spire Horn Seraph a viable investment. Most nations field more expensive units.

Shock alone - sad trombone

Shock is powerful. Shock damage will win you battles and wars. Your air magic can produce shock damage with half a dozen spells: The humble Lightning Bolt, the mighty Thunder Strike, fancy Orb Lightning, dramatic Shimmering Fields and the battlefield wiping Wrathful Skies. Bring Storm, Summon Storm Power, protect your mages and cast away. Yet, shock damage alone will never be enough. This is the result of an important change in Dominions 5 - custom blesses. You will face opposition that resists shock damage, not only the occasional counterbuilt heavy thug, but numerous sacreds that resist shock damage. Your mages might outright revolt and stop trying to use the power of lightning against them.

To make things worse other nations can do shock damage on a similar or even larger scale than Caelum these days, Fomorian brutes and spell singers, the vanjarls of Helheim and Vanheim, swarms of shedim and storm demons to name just a few can serve a single-minded god of lightning just as well as your Caelians. While this does not need to intimidate you, it leads to shock resistance being increasingly common among your competitors.

So how do we even fight as Caelum? Plenty of scouts and not relying on shock damage can't be a serious proposal. We will come to that, but first let us finish our tour of recruitable Caelians with the commanders.


Mairya Ahu are cap-only, stealthy, sacred leaders for 65 gold, a commander version of Mairya warriors, decent stats, mediocre armor and whatever bless you have. As leader for Mairya warriors they are overshadowed by Seraphines that can both lead them stealthily and bless them. There is, however, a rare role for them as national counterthugs. Whenever you need someone to wield a holy scourge, moon blade or greatsword of sharpness - they are likely the best candidates to do it. They can stay hidden only to be revealed when their moment of glory has come.

Sastar are good leaders for 75 gold. They will lead your troops and raid squads. Nothing special.

Expansion phase

This guide argues that Caelum needs early aggression. It is required by the mere fact that the bulk of troops and mages are not sacred. It does have varied and interesting summons, but they are not of the nature that allows e.g. blood nations to sit back for a while even when upkeep eats up most of the gold income. Caelum can not afford that.

With that in mind, what kind of expansion do we need? We need a decent expansion that allows you to put up a number of forts and leaves you with troops that are useful in your first war. You can build expansion parties around different units. Spire Horn Warriors in one or two groups on hold + attack rear are the easiest setup, it works particularly well against isolated commanders staying almost alone in the back. Two groups reduce the likelyhood of your lancers missing the enemy commander. Such a party can be expanded with a few archers helping out with a bit of archery and drawing attention away from your commander. Priority in turn 2 and 3 should be resources in your cap circle. Even with high production you will be limited by resource points initially when recruiting your lancers that require 0.7 resources per gold spent. Here mammoth expansion can help out, that requires much less (0.17) resources per gold invested. There are plenty of ways to set up elephants / mammoths, a simple line of archers close to the enemy on hold+fire with the mammoths in them usually do well enough. The archers catch a few lances when your up against limited amounts of heavy cavalry. This is the type of opponent such a cheap mammoth party excels against, but they can take a lot of different provinces and are only really weak against independents with high attack/damage density such as lizards and barbarians. Against those you best combine a normal party with a much larger contingent of archers.

You can achieve a decent expansion even with less than optimal scales like that. If not, you need to train more, a tiny Caelum is too weak to survive. Don't expand mindlessly, repeatedly flying the same exact expansion squads against everything. Don't throw away squads that likely won't manage, these troops will do more reinforcing another squad. Don't throw away three games to get one game with a lucky perfect expansion, a reliable decent expansion is all that is required. What we miss in the first year, we will take in the second and it may even be site searched and with a nice fort built on top.

Mairya warriors are cheap and brittle sacreds. They will considerably outperform other lancers in a mixed squad, but they die almost as fast as your cheaper troops. If you use them with a minor bless (such as morale+2, attack+2, strength+4) in low numbers, mixed in other squads, and when you have your prophet or a seraphine to bless, all will be fine. But please avoid the trap of using mairya only expansion parties. This is not cost efficient.

Fighting war - I. raiding

Raiding is the core of Caelian warfare. Nothing much has changed in this respect since earlier guides on Caelum (links at top of page). What served you well as an expansion party, a sastar with a few dozen lancers, forms a capable raiding party as well. The second option is any air 22 mage with 2airgem (or more) air summoning one (or two) full size air elemental(s). Your death 22 mages can raid as well, but it almost seems wasteful to use multiple coveted 1/3 randoms for raiding duty. Finally, Eagle Kings can raid in whatever way you want. They can thug with as little as Alteration 3 and Construction 2, casting Ironskin, Mistform, bless and using only a Dragon Helm and a Thunder Whip. They can summon armies of phantasmal warriors - something they can do even underwater if they happen to get there. They can buff up and cast wrathful skies - and kill much more than simply PD.

All this raiding is done by flying troops and mages. So you can raid with map move 2 even in enemy territory. This isn't the flying mobility you had in older versions of Dominions, but it still is a significant advantage. And all raiding done by air 22+ mages can even reach further with Cloud Trapeze. This reach allows you to cloak your war preparations as well. You don't need obvious troop build ups to take half the enemy's territory next turn. You are very good at raiding. In fact, you are so good at it, that you don't want a tiny pitiful nation as your first target. There are just not enough provinces you can raid and all goes to a decisive battle on the capital much quicker than anticipated.

Often enough players fold just to a good amount of raiding pressure. If you meet an opponent that counters you, things get interesting. Simple raiding does not require you to do it in half a dozen different ways, but if you raid with a single type of raiding party countering is quite easy. You don't want to make it easy to your opponent, so you should vary your raiding squads. This is the context where an odd Eagle King thug has its place - not as a strategic choice to waste away your essential cap-only mages, but an additional tactical option. With flying mobility it will always be difficult to tell where your various raiding parties go next.

You are already scouting heavily. Raiding gives you further information and players trying to counter you have to split forces to some extent. This creates opportunities: troops manoeuvred out of position to reinforce crucial events elsewhere, battles in your favour leveraging your information and mobility advantage to overwhelm your opponent in detail. You will find, that as Caelum you will take forts unopposed. They might even be on the other side of your opponents realm and out of range for reinforcements. Conduct your war as nimble as you can.

But inevitably, there will be battles that you are going to fight.

Fighting war - II. battles

You can concentrate forces better, you can outmanoeuvre almost all your opponents, you should know what you are facing. Even under siege, you can often just put up enough siege defence, that you are not forced to take battle on the opponent's terms. You should only fight battles you are confident of winning. You come with overwhelming force and target the weakest point.

"Hold + attack rear" - You still have it scripted on your raiding parties and it is definitely a good way to deploy flyers. It should not be the only one. Any competent opposition will have troops guarding the rear. Did you scout properly? Then you should know the script before battle. Rare are the players that rescript an army for every battle, especially if it is already on a generic anti-flyer script. Is the defence relying on the two turn preparation time granted by your hold command? You can attack rear at once. Is the front open and only filled turn 2 and later with battle summons? Maybe you want to attack closest? Is there a vulnerable contingent of archers? Maybe you want to attack them? You really don't want to fly in this time? You can walk into the battle for a change. (Put your troops in line formation, tell them to "attack" and they will slowly walk forward instead of flying.) The flexibility that you enjoy on the strategic map continues on the battlefield. If you want success with your army of light and medium infantry, you have to use it.

A common strategy to counter the threat of flyers is the blob. Mages huddled together in a blob of troops. Or various forms of advanced blobs with doubles lines, that are still ultimately a high density formation. This sets up another tactic you can employ early, thunderstrike. A blob reduces both your risk of missing and the chance of friendly fire. Thunder Strike is a strong, albeit expensive spell and will do a lot of damage when you catch unresisting enemies in a suitable position. But as described earlier, you will face shock-resisting troops as well.

Your third main damage output after lances and shock damage is trample (by air elemental or mammoth). It probably is your strongest and most reliable tool in an early war.

Summon Air Elemental, available at Conjuration 5, should be your first major research target. Air elementals turn your air 22 mages into a force to be reckoned with. Air elementals take out most normal province defences on their own. Air elementals will provide most of the killing power in many a major battle. At full strength (size 6) they do 17 ap trample damage so even highly protected, shock-resisting troops, you may have trouble to damage otherwise, will be crushed. Ethereality and good stats (20/20 in storm) give them a certain resilience. Their performance can be further improved if you manage to land protection buffs on them.

We already talked about mammoths, they can expand and they can help out in a battle against players as well, but they are expensive and very counterable, so don't overinvest in them. They tend to draw the attention of opposing mages, which can be good when they cast evocations slowly whittling away at them or bad when five mammoths worth 600 gold lay dead after five casts of Soul Slay. Nonetheless they can do tremendous amounts of damage (just like air elementals) when they are not countered and even more when buffed. One thing to keep in mind though: Always keep a retreat path along the middle line when you deploy mammoths (that don't fly). They won't make a difference between friend and foe when they flee the battle field. Put mages and leaders along the sides of your battle order.

Another word about Mairya Warriors: I quite like a modest bless on them (morale+2, attack+2, strength+4). The problem of them being almost as brittle as your other lancers remains, but having a few units reliably hitting for 19 pierce / 25 pierce on charge just with a bless and more once you get strength of giants is a huge help for a Caelian army that might otherwise struggle to do damage at all against protected enemies that can't be trampled or damaged by lightning. It is a good tool to have, especially when you don't want to rely on a pretender to do the heavy lifting.

Hopefully, you manage to win your first war with the tools given so far, because you won't have many more, at least initially. Most other nations will also still be busy building infrastructure and doing some research or fighting an early war against an easy target. So convince them that you aren't an easy target and choose your own target wisely.

Magic and research - I. basics

As already mentioned Conjuration 5 should be your first priority. Air elementals constitute a major part of your offensive power throughout the game. They are a more reliable source of damage than shock damage evocations due to the ease with which shock resistance is available in Dominions 5. Along the way you gain Summon Storm Power at Conjuration 2.

The second most important field of research is Evocation. Storm at Evocation 5 helps with all your air magic when combined with stormpower. Lightning Bolt comes online at Evocation 2, the mighty Thunder Strike at Evocation 4. At Evocation 5 you get Orb Lightning that requires some finesse in scripting due to the low range and probably works better when you don't field mainly lancers.

Alteration is another magic school with some major benefits for air magic. Wind Guide at Alteration 4 is an unassuming spell, that does a lot to improve your Evocation damage output. A missing Thunder Strike does no damage at full fatigue cost after all. Unless you face an absolute blob where even the misses land in the middle of opposing forces, Wind Guide will be useful. Mistform (and Ironskin) at Alteration 3 allow you to thug air / earth mages, that is Eagle Kings, with minimal additional equipment, e.g. Dragon Helm and Thunder Whip at Construction 2, or later Dragon Helm and Implementor Axe.

Phantasmal Warrior at Alteration 2, Ghost Wolves at Alteration 3 and the mass summon of Phantasmal Army at Alteration 5 are less often talked about. Piles of phantasms blocking the way of better troops, a crucial counterthug or an advance + cast mage is something you too will suffer while playing Caelum. They do have a role to play, however, in the kind of versatile play with minimal tools that is advised here. Phantasmal Army is one of the cheapest and quickest way to fill a battle field and it works underwater. Phantasmal Warriors cast by Spire Horn Seraphs are available very early (often a mere 1 turn detour on your way to Conjuration 5) and put more bodies on the field per gold during a battle than your D2A1 harab seraphs can with horde of skeletons, you should be able to find a use for that.

Construction unlocks Corpse Constructs, that start to be a worthwhile summon once you equip a Lightning Rod (and later a Storm Spool as well) on the casters. They are a kind of national Caelian infantry. At Construction 4 you gain several useful boosters most importantly Skull Staff and Earth Boots.

At some point, but not quite that early, you will want Enchantment as well. Revive King at Enchantment 2 gives you decent undead leaders to lead your Corpse Constructs. At Enchantment 4 you gain Cloud Trapeze and Flaming Arrows, though that will require some extra tool to cast. At Enchantment 5 you unlock Horde of Skeletons for your death 22air 11 Harab Seraphs.

Choice of pretender

There are many things you may want of a pretender. In my experience Caelum does not need an awake pretender and really likes scales. However, there is some construction and spellcasting you want to have done before turn 36 so you may end with a dormant compromise. Overall, pretender choice depends highly on the size of the map, number of players, and opposing nations.

You want access to your national summons, they come in two varieties the Death / Fire crosspath and the astral ones. A single fire empower of a death 22air 11 Harab Seraph unlocks the Death / Fire summons, so I tend to ignore pretenders designed to break me into them. There is no good way to break into Astral, even a lucky independent pop type like Crystal Amazons or Lizards will leave you with a lot of work until you get access to them. Astral access is important not only for Antimagic, but also Ancestral Fravashi that are a necessary tool for a Caelian throne rush.

The next consideration is earth magic. There is earth magic in your earth random Harab Seraphs, but to fully unlock it you want earth boots really badly and you don't want to wait three years to get them. In a pinch, you can use earth 11 mages and a lot of gems to cast spells like Strength of Giants or Iron Warriors, but usually turning your earth randoms into proper mages should be worth eight gems. Dwarven Hammers will also be of much help to pay for the boosters and items you need. Later on Earthquake would be a great tool for an otherwise flying and thus unaffected army.

I played and won a game with a dormant, but totally immobile fire 44earth 66astral 44 Betyl of the Sun. You still can afford decent scales (Order1Productivity2Cold3Growth3Misfortune2Magic1) and receive a minor bless of Morale+2, Attack+2, Strength+4 and MR+3.

A Nataraja could be a good choice to get the same paths on a strong mobile pretender with slightly worse scales or lower paths. This leaves Fire / Death uncovered and you plan to deal with it by empowering a death 22air 11 Harab Seraph, this is affordable since your summons will require deathgem gems instead of firegem gems . You are also missing out on nature magic and figuring out access to a suitable nature mage should be one of your considerations in expansion and fort construction.

Plenty of other pretenders should be viable though, awake expanders such as Azi (fire 11+death 11+), Shedu (earth 11+astral 11+), Kamadhenu (astral 11+nature 11+) can help expand and cover at least some of your path requirements. Since we are advocating early war, their more explosive expansion can help you. Imprisoned Betyl of the Sun (fire 11+earth 22+), Betyl of the Stars (earth 22+astral 11+), Betyl of the Sun (air 11+earth 22+), Golden Idols (earth 22+blood 11+) or Oracles (water 11+astral 22+) can afford even better scales.

Magic and research - II. beyond death

Battles, wars… lead to death. Many a brave soldier lies dead on the fields of battle. Uncared for, unburied, unsung. Caelians have a peculiar funerary custom. They bury their dead in the air by the way of birds - but after big battles the number of birds is hardly sufficient to properly bury all the fallen. Raven Feast (air 44, 3airgem, Conjuration 5) offers a way to dispose of the corpses according to national custom and also extract corpse essence (death gems) from the flock of ravens summoned to do the task. Secretly this is a national Caelum spell, that was shared with the wider world at one point. Though less important than for MA Caelum it gives a significant benefit when cast on battlefields after battles fought with limited amounts of death mages, heavy blood hunting provinces, conquered capitals suffering Therodos' dominion or sites of natural or magical disasters. And since you are recruiting plenty of scouts you won't miss when and where this happens. It takes a turn of an Eagle King to transform 3airgem and a number of corpses into realistically 4-10deathgem (sqrt(corpses)/2). This corpse alchemy on top of your easy site searching with death 22air 11 Harab Seraphs should give Caelum a very decent income in death gems.

There exists a direct way to control the undead by the power of lightning, Corpse Constructs. They should be a part of your plans right from start. They are not worth it for one air gem a piece, but are efficient to summon once you equip Lightning Rod (Construction 2) and Storm Spool (Construction 4). The equipment (both items giving SR+15) can be repurposed for increased shock resistance among your casters when you want to put up Wrathful Skies. The corpse constructs itself are not very spectacular, they kill very little and mainly through their charged bodies. However, the additional hitpoints on the field prevent routs from hp loss that are quite common for pure lancer armies. They also provide a welcome protection for your mages from opposing troops. Another benefit is their strong shock, cold and poison resistance. They combine well with battlefield enchantments (not only your own) putting out one of these damage types.

So what do you do with your deathgem gems?

  • First, you can cast Revive King (3deathgem, Enchantment 2) for Mound Kings to lead your corpse constructs.
  • Second, you can forge Skull Staffs (10deathgem, Construction 4).
  • Third, a death 22air 11 Harab Seraph with a Skull Staff can cast Wailing Winds (2deathgem, Evocation 6). This is a spell that boosts your midgame armies a lot. Enemies really want to run away already and your magic and troops just need to push them over the edge.
  • Fourth, you can Summon Spectres (22deathgem a very useful undead and stealthy death 11random2100%
    mage. They provide many tools you might still be missing. It can break you into Astral or at least add additional Astral mages. Stealthy Astral mages can neutralise the threat of Mind Hunt. It can give you the useful Water Death crosspath, where Stygian Rains, a powerful battlefield enchant, and Kokythiads, a powerful water 33death 33 mage summon, can open new options to you in the long run. It can even give you the Earth Astral crosspath, which you might still be lacking.
  • Fifth, you can summon a Jahi (15deathgem, Conjuration 5). This requires Fire Death crosspath and is quite expensive. They are not competitive as a quasi-assassin (though have a shot at winning assassinations with Amulet of the Dead), but can pull their weight carefully deployed to increase magical diversity by seducing low morale independent or player mages and leaders.
  • Sixth, your national Daeva summons (15deathgem for 6 units, Conjuration 5) are too expensive to summon very many of them, but even in low numbers the fear synergises nicely with Wailing Winds. In turmoil or unrest they are good troops that benefit from whatever bless you have.
  • Seventh, your higher national death summons are all expensive and very random, but can provide new or deepened paths. The Yatas (40deathgem, Conjuration 6) are all worthwhile, powerful mages. The unique Greater Daevas (60deathgem, Conjuration 8) are even more powerful, but since you are unlikely to miss any paths at that point, you might wonder whether that 60deathgem may not have been better spent on two Liches (30deathgem for a death 44 mage, Enchantment 8) or similar summons.
  • Eighth, you have access to all the generic death summons. You are now later in the game than you intended and death magic gives you a chance to compete even now, but what is correct now is entirely up to circumstances and not national strategy.
  • Finally, Twiceborn (5deathgem x Size, Enchantment 4) is certainly a spell you can cast. air 11earth 11death 11 random Harab Seraphs are quite capable at thugging at least after rebirth as a wight mage, yet … you do have a better way to spend your gems, don't you?

Advanced research and winning the game

The first major addition to your battlefield magic beyond level 5 research is Wailing Winds at Evocation 6. This spell has a huge impact and transforms your battles from hard first strike so you can hopefully finish off / rout opponents to an almost assured rout that all your other assets merely have to trigger.

At Alteration 7 Fog Warriors is another crucial spell making your troops much more resilient. By that time you should have enough magic diversity that protection buffs available here for earth and nature should be within your reach as well. If you managed to break into astral will of fates is another big spell close by. If you have trouble with earth or nature magic stygian rains by way of spectre, kokythiad or yata summon can be a good protection substitute that your ice lances will ignore on the other side while you benefit. Offensively the biggest boost to your troops will be weapons of sharpness. And with buffs becoming more prevalent among your enemies, such a boost will be much desired. This is, however, true for most nations. The advice grows ever more generic at this point.

Are there some unique Caelum angles worth exploring?

You are still a flying nation, on the battlefield Mass Flight threatens to neutralise your advantage outright. Your numerous mages are now liable to all kinds of pain. There is a solution to this problem at least for the biggest and crucial fights: the Storm Staff. Your storm fliers are as unimpeded as they were by your own casts of storm, but all normal flyers - and thus the majority of all flyers you will be facing - stay grounded.

Flying has a surprising synergy with earth magic due to Earthquake. Even with Earth Boots and Summon Earthpower your Harab Seraphs will only be earth 33 mages and Earthquake is not available to them. You should work on your earth access anyway (via mobile earth pretender, troll kings or some earth random summon). Once you have it, earthquake is one of the best battlefield spells available to you as your flying troops and mages are immune to it as is. You can cast Wrathful Skies and Rain of Stones as well, but they lack the strong synergy of Earthquake, because the shock resistance on your troops isn't enough vs. Wrathful Skies (you should use it when fielding Corpse Constructs mainly) and hatless troops with light armor are roughly the worst combination with stones raining from above.

You shouldn't look much further. There are always late game options if you did not skip on diversifying your mage corps, but you shouldn't worry about late game strategy. Win your first war just when your first magic comes online, win your second war at the peak strength of your battle magic - if you did you should be in a position to win outright.

A key ingredient to winning the game is the Ancestral Fravashi, an air 33astral 22holy 33 priestmage (30astralpearl, Conjuration 7). The astral magic is useful, the air magic isn't much of an addition, but the holy 33 on a highly mobile flying, teleporting, cloud trapezing mage wins games. With good intelligence you should have all the knowledge required to time a throne rush / final war to win the game just right and you will claim multiple thrones at once for a clean win. You will be surprised at how often the false pretenders will be surprised by that. Congratulations.

A word on airgem gems

Air gems are the fuel of your war machine. If you search your lands as soon as suitable, you will have a healthy income of them. Early in the game it may feel like you have a surplus of them, but make no mistake: Caelum can burn through piles of airgem very quickly. Make sure you keep sufficient stocks to fight wars.

There is a number of items you may want to forge with airgem:

  • Storm Spool (5airgem, Construction 4): Very worthwhile for additional corpse constructs and as shock resistance gear for your mages (in wrathful skies).
  • Various weapons: Situational, Thunder Whip (5airgem, Construction 2) stands out as very early gear that allows for light thugging.
  • Winged Shoes (10airgem, Construction 4): Useful item to add non-flying mages to your armies (and Earthquake-proof them)
  • Owl Quills (5airgem, Construction 2): are a waste of air gems for Caelum. If you conquer early, you will have abundant forts to recruit Spire Horn Seraphs from.
  • Air boosters (and with mod: temp gem gens): are nice but something of a luxury. You have sufficient amounts of air 44 mages to cast your important spells without them.
  • Staff of Storms (40airgem, Construction 6): ultimately a luxury item, but a very useful one. It neutralises most flying threats you might face. It also eases scripting of your second turn. Casting storm manually on turn 1 will be too late for many of your mages to benefit from storm power in their second turn cast, messing up or at least slowing scripts considerably.

Your battlemagic runs off air gems. First and foremost, any summon of Air Elementals. You also pay gems for Storm (1airgem), Wind Guide (1airgem), Fog Warriors (3airgem), Phantasmal Army (1airgem) and, if you run with it, Wrathful Skies (2airgem) to just name your more common battle magic.

And you want to spend air gems elsewhere, too. Corpse Constructs (1airgem, Conjuration 1) are an important part of national strategy, but no need to overdo it. 5airgem a turn is already a big investment, though. Raven Feast on good opportunities cost 3airgem each, but are a welcome boost to your death income. Occasionally a Cloud Trapeze cast is called for, but keep in mind the cost is significant at 3airgem. Finally, a medium to long term cast of Trade Winds (30airgem-40airgem) is by a margin the best spell to turn gems into gold if you have a coastal cap or cap-like province.

Word of caution

You built your armies, fought your battles and now proudly siege down the cap of your first opponent after you took all his lands in previous turns. You are doing well, you think. Yet, this is your weakest moment. Your forces are more concentrated than they will be at any later point in the game, you want to make sure you win after all, and pitched battle is inevitable. This makes you vulnerable. Did you bring a one-dimensional force to this battle relying exclusively on thunderstrike or air elementals? You might be in for a surprise, did you really not plan for the giant hero resisting both shock damage and trample? This is the moment a prideful Caelum stumbles. Don't be that Caelum: scout and diversify.

shock-and-awe-caelum-in-the-early-age.txt · Last modified: 2021/09/05 09:17 by naaira