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The Sleeper Helheim Build

* this is a work in progress. also i am no vet. i want your feedback. 7thPath on Discord *

Helheim is almost always played with a full imprisoned rainbow pretender and is expected to win the game or die trying without any expectation of ever doing research. However, you have fantastic mages and access to some of the strongest late game paths. On that note, here's something different.

The Sleeper Helheim Build

Think of it – everyone knows only the classic Helheim, the one with the stupid good elf cavalry that's going to stomp whatever you throw at it take all your stuff in one turn. You can capitalize on this. As long as your expansion is strong – but not so strong as to motivate a coalition against you – you can rely on the fact that everyone thinks fighting you is more trouble than it's worth and get busy gearing up your stupendously wicked magic machine.

This will go much better if you're the game's research leader and as long as your luck isn't terrible with gem income, you can be. With this build, you won't be rushing the world with turbo elves only to become so large that every one teams up against you. You're above that and your opponents will never suspect what you're really up to.

The Sleeper Helheim Build

Going lean:

Helhirdings are so good that you may be surprised on considering just how light you can go on your build and still be strong enough to keep would-be attackers second-guessing.

Now, I am not suggesting you turtle. Do your Diplo. Know what's going on. Compromise your integrity and vulture a good bit. Even join in a 2 v. 1. Just know what you're getting into and avoid full-on conflicts. You're lean but strong and your awake rainbow ensures you meet all but the earliest threats with superior research and magic economy.

Dom 4. Yes. One Vanherse and 3 Helhirdings are all you need out of your cap in one turn. In fact, it's enough to expand into "coalitionable" tier which you do not want – at first. So plan accordingly and make up your mind about how big you want to be. Do not be concerned about being domkilled. You can blood sacrifice.

"What does Helheim want from their design?"

"Research – badly."

To be honest, bless aren't super important. But you're going to need a rainbow for forging, and you're going to need it awake if you want to get going fast enough to ensure the research lead this build likes so much. An awake rainbow can if necessary get a bit of early research to help defend yourself from an early attack such as evo2/4 for Lightning Bolts and Thunder Strike, ench3 for Strength of Giants, const3 for Legions of Steel, alt2/3 for Earth Meld and Mistform, and blood 1 for reinvig and Summon Imps. Vanjarl with gems can Thunder Strike x2, reinvig, tstrike x2. They're also very nice on advance and cast as they'll often shockwave a good bit.

My build is fire 33air 33water 44earth 33nature 66 for major fire res, shockres+15 or shockres+5 & prec+2, defskill+2 & cold res 5, reinvig & mountain survival, and Barkskin. Barkskin is value on Helhirdings as it pushes their prot just around 20 and Mirror Image only pops if you do take over prot. So even if an opponent manages to hit the correct image and pass the elf's defense check, they still have ~20 prot to overcome if mirror image is to pop.

While exact bless is not super important, you'll have a hard time against certain opponents if you skip any resists. Just stay away from Foul Vapors if you are taking barkskin instead of poison res.


Recruit your Vanherse and 3 Helhirding for the first few turns. Put the Helhirding on guard commander and script the Vanherse for Air Shield, Blessing x2, and attack closest or attack rear. Attack rear is riskier as it tends to split up your squad. If you're having trouble, a little practice is all it takes for ample expansion.

After a few turns get out Svartalf in between Vanherse and send them site searching. Research const2 straight away and as soon as you have E gems make a hammer. Don't be afraid to alchemize a bit to get your first hammers out early because you're going to be keeping those hammers busy making research and magic path boosters as well as gear for Vanjarl, Svartalf, and Hangadrott. After your god makes a hammer, send him or her out to search 3-4 provinces prioritizing province types with high gem frequencies for that much-needed fire, water, and nature income. You may want to prioritize taking provinces with higher gem frequency over provinces with higher gold income!

Key early research targets for battle:

evo2/4 for lightning bolt for Vanjarl and Vanherse with gems and thunderstrike on Vanjarl with gems alt2/3 earth meld, mistform for thugging const3 legions of steel ench3 strength of giants conj3/ench3/5 Summon Earthpower/raise/Horde of Skeletons blood1 reinvig/summon imps

Research boosters:

Your E random dwarves can make hammers at const2 and any dwarf can make Earth Boots at const4 for hammers. Put hammers on Vanherse and start cranking out those Owl Quills. With your awake rainbow, you'll hit const4 pretty fast; use the death sites you've found so far to start making skull mentors.

If you're skeptical at this point, try to keep in mind that we're trying to be sly here. We had surgical precision in our province count to ensure viability while preventing fear-mongering. Although we may not have as many Helhirdings as the classic build and the bless may not be as strong, we still have Helhirdings and they're still stupid good. So while investment in skull mentors is generally considered a fantastic waste of death gems, most players don't have all the things going for them that we do for us.

On recruiting Vanherse:

A great many Hel experts insist on recruiting Vanherse and indeed there are many good reasons to do so.

  • Often raiding tasks can be accomplished with Vanherse than the gold-intensive Vanjarl.
  • They are far more efficient researchers than Vanjarl especially since you'll have so many research boosters.
  • In Storm, they can be effective combat mages with Shockwave, lightning bolt, Summon Air Elemental for 2 gems, and thunder strikes for 1 gem.

However, to those who suggest recruiting Vanherse for this build, perhaps I have not emphasized how lean we are. Three Helhirding per turn is extremely limiting and you will have to deploy mages en masse regularly to deal with threats. You will be thankful when the six mages you have available to meet a threat are Vanjarl not Vanherse. Notably, Vanherse are valuable as combat mages primarily in storm and it can be quite a bother for you to put up a storm as it requires either a lucky random on a Hangadrott or a sabbath. In addition, sometimes you do need Vanjarl for raiders with their abilities to mistform without gems and move in magic phase. Finally, the amount of gold you are going to save per turn by recruiting only 3-4 Helhirding per turn instead of the traditional 5-6 is I suggest ample enough to offset the increased cost of Vanjarl over Vanherse.


Sometime before you get alt6/7/9, ench6/8, and evo5/7, have target nations chosen who may be particularly susceptible to your nasty magic. You can conquer nations quickly with this stuff if you are significantly ahead of them on research and preparation. Know your opponents. With a bit of luck, they still won't understand your build and what it can do. This is your time to shine. As you massacre your enemies, prepare for Well of Misery (conj8), Wraith Lords (conj7), Liches (ench8), and tarts (conj9). You have nature on your god so hopefully, you have a shot at controlling Gift of Health for tarts if the game goes late.

Your mages (are freakin' awesome):

Vanjarl A2B1: there is so much out there about thugging with Vanjarl that you should just look elsewhere for that.

Air and blood in combat: [4/6/8 Vanjarl in sabbath… no storm needed/prec+4… reinvig… drain vs magic scales and B1 masters… blah blah blah…]

Svartalf E2D2 + 100%(FAED): These guys are integral for you in forging, site searching, and casting rituals. They are also excellent in battle but they are also slow to recruit, cap only, and are in competition with Hangadrotts for recruitment (see below). Get as many of these as you can including a fire random for site searching. Put Boots of the Messenger on them and they can almost sort of keep up with your army for Strength of Giants, legions of steel, shadow blast, summon earthpower/skelespam, and disintegrate. Empower one in blood for Blood Stones for basically all the earth battle magic you could want.

Hangadrott A2D3+110%(AEDB): These guys are your only shot at D4 outside of putting it on your god. And you don't want to do that. Undying is significant in battle but any time it's used it's RIP 1 Helhirding. Undead command is better accomplished with national commanders or mound kings than with design points. You could take invuln 10 but magic weapons are a popular bless for a reason. Higher-level death blesses will either cut our already lean scales into the red or break our budget 3/4/3/3 elemental bless. In conclusion, Hangadrott is your only way of climbing to D5. Sometime before your research can utilize D5, start twiceborn'ing them, and cloud trapezing them into the water for a chance at a death path.

But besides that, they're excellent mages. They can Twiceborn, Cloud Trapeze and cast Winds of Death. And reinvig and cast winds of death some more. The blood ones can lead small sabbaths and the others can wear boosters to cast all the big death stuff like darkness, rigor mortis, life after death, drain life, wither bones, and terror, and all the big air stuff like Storm, Fog Warriors, Wrathful Skies, Shimmering Fields, Mists of Deception, and Phantasmal Army.

Since they're such excellent mages, considering casting twiceborn on many of them. Their wight mage forms obviously fare better under rigor mortis. They're also excellently-costed mages and eliminating their upkeep is significant.

On thugging with Hangadrotts: You can obviously make stupid good thugs with these guys and 40 def doesn't take much gear but there are always better things you can be doing with them. They're too valuable to risk losing to raid provinces and you already have Vanjarl so come on what are you doing? kappa. Still, the E randoms are somewhat underwhelming and severely over-costed as mages so you might occasionally use one for thugging duty. Moreover, you will likely be fishing twiceborn for D4 anyway so perhaps it is sometimes worth the afflictions accrued in thugging duties as opposed to cloud trapezing them into the water.

Finalizing the build:

Scales: Dom4 Order0 Sloth3 Cold3 Growth3 Misfortune2 Magic3. Baalz argued in favor of Luck and Drain for gems from events and for the fact that boosters are doing the research, not the mages. Gems from events in luck3 typically have a significant impact for this build as you stretch your forging and rituals to your limits. Examples include getting more research boosters, more gear for Vanjarl, and more Calls of the Winds for patrollers. However, you're still going to have a good number of researchers and magic3 vs drain is significant for a research-oriented build. Finally, it is rather difficult to do sabbaths in drain with B1 masters.

Here's some stuff you can (and should) do:

  • Corpse Constructs: with a Lightning Rod and Storm Spool, your dis can crank out 6 per turn for one air gem
  • Put Shademail on Svartalf so they can safely join your armies for legions of steel, strength of giants, and other stuff.

Thanks to:

  • Baalz! Much of this content is adapted from Baalz's Dominions 3 Helheim guide:

Special thanks to:

  • Fengvr for his expert advice, his input on Vanherse vs. Vanjarl, and a handful of other useful suggestions
sleeper-helheim-build.txt · Last modified: 2020/12/14 15:00 by joste