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stacks-on-stacks-a-guide-to-ind-by-baalz

Ind - Stacks on Stacks

Ind is a nation with a really confusing amount going on. The sheer number of things you could be doing is overwhelming - but the um…”good” news is that most of the time, most of the stuff Ind can do is a bad idea. The actual good news is that the legitimately good stuff is a bit all over the place, but can be stacked on each other higher and higher into a Tower of Power that’ll show your opponents why Ind is the fabled kingdom.

In culling out the chaff I find the really useful thing is to remember the real cost of things can’t be evaluated in a vacuum, it has to be evaluated as the opportunity cost. If I get A, then I don’t get B or C. Evaluated through this lense, what are some specific things that I really wouldn’t do with Ind?

Units

Ind, what not to do

Your priests can freespawn troops. They’re free in that you didn’t pay for them up front, but they cause unrest and have an upkeep cost that will quickly swamp you in exchange for very uninspiring troops. Don’t sink your gold into garbage troops - they’re not free if they have upkeep!

You can recruit Great Huntress that freespawn lions! They don’t cause unrest or have upkeep! That’s true, they just take so long to mass up that by the time you get a horde of them going they’re pretty easy to deal with. Opportunity cost very roughly is 1 Huntress = 1 Abbot Sage you could have recruited. Look at it this way, each lion you get could have been about 9 research points, so think about that when you chuck 100 lions (900 research points) into a woodchucker because they’re “free”. Remember - opportunity cost.

Ind’s forts produce different recruits from each terrain type - tailor your strategy to whatever you’re facing! Well…I guess kinda? The truth is that most of the stuff in all the different castles ends up in the really big bucket of Dominions units that are not competitive. In this bucket, I’d put everything in the Piconye (mountain) castle, the lady (plains) castle, as well as the giant (wasteland) troops. It’s not that these forts are worthless, and if you conquer or otherwise find yourself in possession of a fort with them while hard-pressed then by all means go ahead and use them - it’s just that in most cases you’ll do better to put your resources in a different bucket.

Thankfully, after cutting away a bunch of fat there’s still some really nice meat to sink our teeth into, so let’s stop talking about what not to do and get to the exciting stuff and start kicking some ass.

Magus ‘crootin

Ind is unique in that everything in its cap is cap only. This means you’ve really got to make the most out of your very nice cap stuff - there’s no expanding into extra forts to get more of it. One of the big implications of this is you really can’t just recruit your “best” cap only mage and do the secondary stuff elsewhere, you’ve only ever got one cap and you’ve got to use your cap turns cleverly to get everything you need. You definitely want as many of your top-shelf Abbot Magus Supremes as you can get, but you can recruit Abbot Maguses twice as fast - and they can do many of the same things.

As a general rule of thumb, any time you are using a Supreme to do something that a smaller Magus could do (forging, casting, research, etc.) you’re playing suboptimally. The Supremes can do some lab work out of reach of the smaller guys, but really the reason you want them is because they can all teleport and layeth the smackdown on the battlefield in support of your armies. They are, ahem, supremely good on the battlefield, and we’ll get more into that below but definitely don’t neglect to get a healthy mix of the smaller Maguses as they’re way more efficient. Plopping out a 16 research Magus each turn along with an awake pretender who starts our researching gives you a pretty brisk initial research, then start easing into your top shelf guys.

Priest ‘crootin

Note, Ind can only prophetize holy 33 (or above) priests. Your first inclination is probably going to be to spend your first 2 turns recruiting a Primate king so you can prophetize him. Don’t do that. The primary reason that you want a prophet early is usually to drop divine blessing on your expansion parties - but one pretty big national advantage Ind has is that all their sacred troops autobless themselves. That’s right, you don’t even need a priest present to lead your sacreds! Use your starting Bishop General to lead your first expansion party out, then send indie commanders back to lead the rest of them - no need to spend your capital’s turns recruiting anything but mages.

Next thing to notice is that there are holy 33 Viceroy Primates recruitable outside of forts with just a temple. Get up a second temple up fairly fast and pop out a holy 33 from outside your cap to prophetize to holy 44. He’ll take 4 turns to recruit and most of the first game year will be over before you get your first prophet, but there’s really no rush since all your blessing is covered. At that point slowly (every 4 turns) crank out holy 33 priests wherever you’ve got a temple up outside a fort. holy 33 priests are one of those things that amplify in power the more you have, so stack 'em up. On top of the usual ways to use holy 33, Ind’s guys also reduce unrest. Ending up with a stack of several of them in a province will counteract the unrest caused by bloodhunting, can call back your pretender instantly if that becomes necessary, and slapping void eyes on them will give you a really brutal battery of both wide-area banishments and smites. It’s pretty amusing watching several penetration-boosted guys spamming smite at medium MR guys that thought they were tough elites or an overly aggressive enemy pretender. Squish!

Pretender/sacreds

In a strong bless strategy pretender design is tightly coupled to the sacreds. At first glance, Ind’s sacreds may not seem obviously impressive - but there are a couple of noteworthy things to notice. First and foremost, another national strength Ind has is that their holy recruitment points go up one for every temple you have up. Most nations need to get 5 temples up to bump their dominion, and thus holy points up one. That same effort bumps Ind up 5. Very few sacred troops of any nation are recruitable outside of caps, with their very reasonable cost Ind should be cranking out 2-3 times (or more) sacred units than most nations. This synergizes well with the fact that you want several places slowly cranking out holy 33 priests, so you usually want to put up a few temples before you even start your second fort - when you’re swarming out 20+ sacreds every other turn it starts feeling like something pretty special.

The next thing to notice is that Soldier Priests and Mirror Guards are actually relatively tough for human infantry, with a defense + protection that takes a bit of effort to get through. Their damage outlay also, not top shelf for an elite but not too bad for a unit cranked out in fair numbers. Shields and helmets - really just an all around solid troop with no real gaps (other than an uninspiring heavy infantry map move).

There’s a lot of different reasonable ways to go with a bless on these guys, but I find they do very well with a “wide” bless. Note that if you get 3 in all elemental (FWAE) or all sorcery (SDNB) paths you can pick up minor blessings rather than the usual requirement of getting to 4 - so fire 33water 33air 33earth 33 will let you get +2 strength, +2defense, +2 attack, and another +1 defense plus a first strike. Also, note Ind gets a bonus to astral blessings, but I really like Magic Weapons + MR over the more expensive astral blessings for this build, it really pays off as the game progresses and people start trying to spam elementals against some of the stuff you’re gonna be doing, and fielding SC/thugs.

This blessing may seem all over the place, but you have to think about how this all stacks up, particularly as you start adding buffs from your mage support and rack up a couple of experience stars. Stacks on stacks. On the flip side, these guys will have a defense just short of 20 and enough protection that it generally takes a few hits to bring them down. Any of these individual numbers may not sound dominating compared to the best units in the game at any of that, but not only is this all stacked on top of each other you have to remember you’ll be cranking out maybe 3 times as many sacreds as the other nations which makes a huge difference. Theorycrafting aside, just try it out if you’re skeptical. Don’t let their stature fool you, these guys will tear down giants and elves alike in the numbers you’re fielding them.

Of course, they will struggle with the real toughest things in the game, but that’s when you want to roll out magic support to stack things up. We’ll talk more about heavy buffing down below in Advanced Weapons and Tactics, but in the early game, those H3s you’re recruiting out of all your temples will pose a pretty good smite problem for small numbers of enemy elites or aggressive pretenders that might be too tough for your infantry to dent. They also absolutely molest anybody banishable.

Note: Everything that’s great about these guys keeps getting better as they gain experience stars. Of course, that naturally happens as you win fights, but don’t overlook the site in your capital that you can use for combat training. Always keep a good leadership guy hanging around your capital going into the site and have any troops not marching out training. Stacking 2 experience stars up is almost like doubling your blessing, and as you’re generally either fighting or training mostly you’ve got 2+ star troops pretty quick. This is not trivial as once the game gets going you’ll often be gatewaying troops from your capital right onto the front line and it's pretty nice for them to already be veterans. You can start seeing that Tower of Power now!

As far as scales, there are two particular considerations. First, one of your cap sites gives that province +3 order regardless of your scales, making turmoil enormously cheaper for the early game as your cap is most of your income. The other thing is ultimately your resources are going to be what limit your sacred recruitment as your temples keep going up - so I generally recommend Turmoil scales turmoil-3/Productivity scalesproduciton-3 and you can fiddle with the others depending on how much of a blessing you want to squeeze in. This gives you Order scales Order-3/Productivity scales Production-3 in your cap, and with solid sacreds, you should have no problem with initial expansion and getting those first couple temples up.

Secondary Forts

It's critical that you get at least one Magog castle up. I recommend on turn one, when you’re assessing your initial position you make note of the closest highland and cave provinces and do your best to leverage your sweet sacreds to punch towards them aggressively. If you get unlucky and there really aren’t any highlands within reach you can try to put up forts in mountains - but you won’t know until after the fort goes up if you got Gogs or the fairly worthless Piconye, so by a long stretch plan A is trying to land a highland/cave fort. So much so that I would put this on the list of considerations of where to have your first war.

The Gog infantry is no joke, but far more importantly the Magog Bitch-Mothers branch you out into 3 new magic paths. Get a Gog fort up and upgraded as fast as possible and send your first several Bitch Mothers out site searching and getting your blood economy going. As your nation starts stabilizing you’ll want to shift to the more cost-efficient recruit everywhere Cannibal Shaman Chiefs for blood hunting, but Bitch Mothers are gonna get you going a lot faster initially. You should be able to get a modest income in N and D, and a very solid blood economy (which we’ll be talking about later). With the paths, your Magus Supremes already have been searching this gives you access to every path but A - with a pretender that can cover that in a pinch. Bitch Mothers only take 2 command points so even with just one upgraded fort you’ll have a fair number - consider spending some of those deathgem gems on Skull Staffs and you’ll have a good number of stealthy skellispammers with fairly good mobility. Once you get all your site searching done and transition your blood hunting over to Cannibals you’ll find yourself with a bunch of Bitch Mothers who are inefficient researchers but a lot of fun on the battlefield. (they do berserk so consider sticking cheap shields on them to catch random arrows). Protip: Hoard of Skeletons x4, Reinvigoration, cast spells makes some high leverage chaff real fast.

Gog Reavers are a reasonable backup to your already excellent heavy infantry game, but they are undisciplined and cause unrest so they're not the sort of “always recruit” that your sacreds are. Don’t hesitate to let the dogs out against tough enemies when the situation merits though - they pack quite a punch and you’re always limited on how many sacreds you can recruit.

You’ll usually want to have more forts up than you have highlands, so your “bread and butter” forts are going to be forests which are generally more common. These secondary forest forts are not going to recruit Great Huntresses, for reasons I lay out above, they’re gonna generally pump out Abbot Sages because of research > lions. The reason we’re focussing on forests for this is that the forest troops fill an important niche for you. The Orionde Knights are not super exciting, but solid enough to recruit sometimes when you need some more mass in your army. The real gem though is the Orionde Crossbowman. Those forts you upgraded primarily to crank out sages can also very capably mass a good amount of crossbows fairly fast under production, which hit pretty hard against some kinds of troops. Wind Guide is one of those spells it can make sense to roll your pretender out for when appropriate. A large mass of high-precision armor-piercing xbows will give even SCs problems - and should be where your head goes against hard-hitting shieldless guys that might give your sacreds problems. Pile Flaming Arrows on top too because why not - and mow down those Dai Bakemono or Einhere.

The Forces of Heaven

Ind’s infantry hits quite hard, but as I noted above their one glaring weak spot is a pretty embarrassing map movement. One obvious goto you should keep in mind is Gateway - slap a Crystal Coin and a couple of leadership items on any Abbot Magus Supreme and you can shuffle a hundred hard-hitting sacreds straight from your cap to any staging area you set up. Abbot Magus Supremes are kind of squishy by default, but they’ve got the right paths to make reasonably good light thugs teleport wherever you ant and clear the PD out, then plopping up a lab for the troops to come in on their heels.

For high maneuverability engagements though it's time to break out those holy horns and call down the wrath of heaven. One nice thing about having such versatile and powerful sacreds is you usually don’t have much need for magic support in the early part of the game - they just roll over most stuff with blunt force. This often leaves you free to B-line straight-up Conjuration with your fairly strong initial research. Send out your pretender with conveniently broad magic paths out site searching along with one or two Abbot Magus Supremes and you’ll usually find that by the time you need them you’ve got access to some fast-moving air support

Hashmal

Hashmal, Despite these not being the earliest angels you have access to, they’re often going to be the first ones your fielding because they have the distinction of needing barely anything to be highly effective raiders. Slap a Blacksteel Tower Shield on these guys and these flying, map move 34 guys will crush almost any PD/indies that don’t have magic support before zipping halfway across the map to their next engagement. Don’t be shy about alchemizing whatever lucky finds your pretender has landed and you’ll often have 4 or 5 (or more) of these guys ready to go in time for your first opponent to say WTF?!? Slap a Ring of Water Breathing and poison resistance on them and they’ll take out any of those water indies still hanging around too. Side note - your sacred infantry does a surprisingly good job at carving up stuff underwater if you send them there, even with the underwater penalty. Ind can easily be a pretty solid amphibious power if you’ve landed a couple of the right magic sites. Protip: map move 34 flying Hashmel can jump WAY deep into the water, hamstringing notoriously slow underwater troops with no prayer of keeping up. Combine this with some judicious Teleport/Gateway ambushes and you can have quite a mobility advantage even playing on UW nation’s home court. Your mage support tends to be buffs rather than evocations so all around surprisingly good underwater.

Malakah

Despite me having skipped over them chronologically relative to when they’re researched, Malakh have a very important role in your air force - and it's probably not the one you thought when you first looked at them. While you can squeeze out a weak thug from a Malakh by stacking a ton of equipment on them - Hashmal are usually just way better and more cost-effective in that role. So what do Malakh have going for them then? Well first, they’re really cheap at 9astralpearl pearls. They’re also reasonably tough if you’re not judging them on the thug/SC scale - they’re not likely to die from a random arrow and their awe gives them a decent chance of pushing off a handful of flankers that make it around your troops. Finally, they have that fantastic map move of 34 (43 with Boots of the Messenger) and are stealthy so they can be all over the place sneaky like.

At 9astralpearl pearls apiece it’s quite reasonable to field some just as scouts early on. While obviously, this is quite pricey compared to 20 gold Gold indie scouts, sometimes you just can’t find those indies to recruit in the numbers you need - and there’s a world of difference between seeing wherever your scouts happen to be vs sending half a dozen eyes halfway across the map anytime you want to look someplace new. Their mobility gives you dramatically better visibility than “just a few more scouts”, and gives you the intel you need to send your Hashmel raiders out effectively.

Another advantage of fielding Malakh scouts is that you can rotate them into combat duty as your research and economy scales up and you can kit them. There are a few effective things you can do with them, but the go-to as your blood economy starts to get going is to start shoving Lifelong Protections on them. Once you get a few Malakh sneaking around with 2 Lifelong Protections each it really transforms how your military functions. You’ll probably want to invest in a shield too if you’re paying for those lifelong protections - and now those Malakah can comfortably conquer most PD while they’re scouting around, as well as easily converge from all over to support your armies for the bigger fights. 6 lifelong protections showing up unexpectedly along with some stealthy Bitch Mother skellispammers is a substantial battle shifter, and stacks beautifully with those xbows I suggested recruiting from forest forts. Magog Flesh-Hunters are another fun option - they don’t do nearly as much ranged damage as the armor-piercing xbows, but they are stealthy to move around with your Bitch Mothers and do make people who manage to climb through waves of spam to make it to the “archers” immediately regret their life choices. Putting a few Flesh Hunters in just in front of your xbows is a good deployment as your enemy tries to claw their way through your creature chaff.

There’s some other fun stuff you can stick on your Malikah to stack stuff up - who have a pretty good chance of just flying away any time the fighting goes bad. Skull Standards are great go-tos - working great all the time while also folding right into fear stacks as the game progresses (see below). (You do want to be careful about raiding PD without a shield as concentrated arrow fire tends to be a problem with just one target). There’s also all kinds of niche stuff you might consider for specific situations, from Black Bows (great for SCs that are tied up in imps) to Phoenix Rods/Standard of the Damned (brutal for elites trying to fight through chaff)…really just consider any items that let you cast spells and you’ve got the gems for. I don’t recommend using bows as a general goto as you’re really gonna regret it when the Malikah runs out of ammo and runs into melee holding those expensive contracts.

The really excellent thing about stacking mixed-use tactics like this is that what your opponent wants to use against imp spam backed by xbows - close quickly, preferably flying, and try to melee them…is exactly what your sacred infantry is excellent at. Now that Tower of Power is getting an impressive amount of stacking! It sets up a bit of a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t for your opponent, which I find delectable. If they try to out skelli/imp spam it's an excellent time to remind them that you have yet another layer on your stack with recruit-everywhere holy 33 priests. Stacks on stacks!

Arel

Arel are pretty competent SC chassis to load up with heavy equipment and go to town, but I’d also encourage you not to overlook some pretty dramatic support capabilities to stack on rather than going straight for the boilerplate Frost Brand-Vine Shield #1 special. You’ve got easy access to Thistle Maces, Armor of Twisting Thorn, and Moonvine Bracelets - which gives you a nature 66 high leadership commander to add Fairy Trod to your bag of tricks - which obviously you can’t count on but can be a war winner if you keep your eyes out for the right opportunity. It also lets you stack Howl onto your Imp spam backed up by high area Poison Clouds. I don’t want to just gloss past that - Howl on a hard to kill chassis supported by multiple imps vomiting Malakh spamming drain life/incinerate/whatever with stacks of AOE 7 poison clouds piled around backed by well blessed sacred heavy infantry is a properly impressive Tower of Power, and delivered with a flying map move of 43 (with cheap boots). Then of course there’s also a host of buff options Arel brings to stack even higher on your infantry to flesh out what your Magus Supremes were already dropping. Serpent's Blessing or Relief may be just what the doctor ordered depending on what you’re facing, and of course Mass Protection/Regeneration are always classics. That fantastic strategic mobility will really let you make the most of the flexible switch-hitting possibilities.

Dominion Pushing

Ind has a dominion conflict penalty of 2, which means that your dominion score is effectively 2 lower when it comes to rolls against hostile dominions. This makes it a little counterintuitive, but Ind can have a scary strong dominion push. First, if you’re sprouting an above-average number of temples there’s a fair chance that your dominion score has grown by a point or two. Next, there are two important dominion spread mechanics which don’t check your dominion score and thus ignore your conflict penalty. The mechanics of preaching make it generally pretty ineffective for holy 11 and holy 22 priests…but you can probably see where this is going. Having a supply of recruits everywhere holy 33s makes it possible to really drop a dominion hammer down. Having half a dozen powerful priests along with your big armies means you’ll never need to storm an enemy castle under hostile dominion. This really pulls the teeth out of enemy pretenders. Note, preaching is even more effective where you’ve got temples - so play appropriately.

Let’s stack it up though. The other big dominion mechanic that doesn’t care about your dominion level is Heretic. You will note that your bloodhunters (Magog Bitch-Mothers and Canibal Shaman Chiefs) are both Heretics, and Heretic reduces whatever dominion is in their province. Often this is a mildly negative thing as your friendlies are often in your own dominion working against it, but if you’re aware and clever this gives you a pretty solid push and pull by doing your bloodhunting anywhere enemy dominion is creeping in and preaching to where you want to bolster your own. This will make it impossible for enemy dominion to creep into your territory - but let's keep stacking.

The next thing you’ll notice is that those lovely Bitch Mothers are not only Heretics, but they’re also stealthy - and have good mobility. Bitch Mothers are pretty pricey to just send out as scouts, but since you want to have a bunch already anyway they give you a great pivot ability once you get things set up and are ready to fling your weight into a dominion push. Judo style.

Let's paint a picture of how this looks when you stack up all the pieces. You sprout up some temples to get your sacreds swarming and priests building up, and when you’re between fights all those holy 33s preaching gives you a fairly quick ramp-up towards max dominion in your territory. As you start getting your blood economy going, your priests pull double duty by both reducing the bloodhunting unrest and preaching. This both keeps your Heretics from damaging your own dominion much, and is a powerful one-two punch on any hostile dominion in your territory. This should give you a very solid foundation of high-level dominion in all your territory. Now when you see an enemy with a weak dominion (pay attention to anywhere where your dominion is naturally creeping in) switch all those Bitch Mothers into a forward scouting role to further soften up the enemy dominion while your priests meet up with your armies for combat duty. All those flying, raiding angels can plop up more temples if that’s appropriate and any castle you siege very quickly have their dominion switched.

Going for a straight dominion kill is seldom going to be a way to win a fight, so why all the effort? Well, beyond the big basket of incidental things like morale shifts, scale modification (push that Heat scales heat-3 into Neifel or Caelum!), and the aforementioned pretender neutering, it's also a good time to pay particular attention to globals that benefit from a solid dominion push. Your pretender can likely put up Wrath of God as an excellent option. Depending on what specific build you went with, and what indies/gems you’ve found some other particularly good ones to see if you can swing are Dark Skies, Vengeful Water, or Looming Hell. Any of these globals make it extremely hard for most nations to effectively fight you in your dominion, which is now all up in their grill. There are also some second-tier globals that are worth considering if they’re opportunistic like Gift of Health or Purgatory. Dominion pushes are one of those situation things which you have the tools to take advantage of hardcore if the opportunity comes up, not a primary strategy - so just basically remember that when you have a reason to you can put your dominion up wherever you want it pretty quick.

Magic

Magus Advanced Weapons and sTactics

I don’t think it's immediately obvious how outstandingly fantastic the Abbot Magus Supremes are at supporting your sacred heavy infantry as your research progresses. First, keep in mind that every one of them can Teleport, so it’s easy to drop all kinds of fun stacks at the speed of magic. Next, remember that they can all cast Power of the Spheres (or grab a Crystal Shield), cast Phoenix Power/Summon Earthpower, and forge cheap N/E/W boosters, which puts tons of options on the table with a little work - without trying to futz around with communions. A lot of nastiness really just requires one thoughtfully prepared Abbot Magus Supreme, which is good since they’re always gonna be in short supply. Don’t neglect to take advantage of your Bitch-Mothers being stealthy as well - between teleportation and stealth you have lots of options to stack surprising things and keep your opponent guessing, without using a ton of mages. Here’s a bag of nasty tricks to pick from:

Strength of Giants/Legions of Steel early obvious stacks with what you’re doing which make a fairly substantial difference when dealing with hostile heavy infantry.

Flame Ward/Winter Ward/Antimagic - it's good to remember you have access to these at magic speed. If you can anticipate what your opponent is going to field you can make it pretty hard to swat all your swarms.

Heat from Hell/Grip of Winter - this is a fantastic combo with the above line item, and a single Magus Supreme can teleport in and cast both the resistance buff and the battlefield enchantment. Hit your opponent whichever angle makes sense while your guys ignore it. Stellar Cascades is worth considering to stack on top in some circumstances, though you’re often gonna be light on mages and this is a spell that usually wants spamming.

Mist. This is an important enough spell to strongly consider fielding your pretender for. It’s a low lift at Evo-3, and halves the precision of everyone. This makes a very substantial difference if you’re faced off against somebody who is trying to blast your infantry with evocations, while you’re not casting any. For later game, it's worthwhile to use your pretender to summon a mage or two capable of casting this.

Solar Eclipse. Your sacreds (probably) don’t have darkvision, but your imps and skeletons do. This also stacks nicely with Mist to make it damn hard to land enough evocations to phase your sacreds.

Weapons of Sharpness. This is the perfect spell for your infantry and really puts a crown on that Tower of Power. With Magic Weapons, high attack, and armor-piercing your infantry will kill the fuck out of anything in the game that closes to melee. Prioritize getting this spell.

Battle Fortune/Will of the Fates. Alt-8 is pretty high, but giving luck to swarms of human-sized guys makes it terribly difficult to smash them with things like Thunder Strike before they walk over and tear your face off.

Quickening. You were already clawing up to Alt-8 for Will of the Fates, now your armor-piercing magic weapon lucky infantry is attacking twice as fast and closing to melee very quick. Stacks on stacks!

Constructing Artillery Stacks

Some particularly fun stacks of stuff open up as your research progresses. Use your pretender to forge a Fire booster - a Flame Helmet, Staff of Elemental Mastery or Skull of Fire should be possible depending on the paths you picked, or worst case save up 50deathgem and empower a Magus Supreme to get a Skull of Fire. Forge a Water Bracelet, and now a water random Supreme can crank out as many Rune Smashers as you have gems for without bothering your pretender anymore. Probably not too much of a surprise, but while we have great use for penetration boosters throughout the game at this point we’re going to set up a mind hunt battery. Stacking an astral cap, rune smasher, Eye of the Void, and a Spell Focus is a Tower of Power that’s a staple for a reason, but Ind can stack higher. The risk of course with Mind Hunting is that if you do it aggressively your enemies are gonna start sprinkling astral mages around with bait, and then you’ve got a feebleminded expensive, slow to recruit cap-only mage with a permanent void eye. One powerful combo if you can swing it is adding the The Chalice artifact to that tower of power, but that requires researching all the way up to construction-8, you then have to hope nobody else has already grabbed it. Luckily there’s no need for that!

Arel is powerful healers, and you’ve got reliable access to them way easier than trying for the Chalice. Several +5 penetration mind hunters that can operate aggressively without much fear of sneaky astral mages are really brutal against any nation that is not fielding tons of astral mages. Certainly, you can snipe thugs, but don’t overlook opportunities to fire several mind hunts at enemy armies as they’re moving to important engagements - if you’re lucky only half the army will move as an important low MR commander’s mind melts.

Let's keep stacking though. Armor of Twisting Thorns are great and fairly cheap for what they get you - they boost two paths on your Bitch Mothers. Stick them on B and N random Mothers for different reasons. The reason you want them on the B random ones is that B4 opens up Hoard from Hell, which is very nice to be able to spam out with several casters. Imps can clear the light PD that people generally keep all around, and if they’re not in a position to respond quickly and effectively this will stack up very fast because the imp squads hang around after the fight. If you save up your blood economy for a few turns before an offensive and can do something like spam 3 Horde from Hells a turn for a few turns what happens is. 3 provinces fall the first turn. Turn 2 it 6 because you have 3 flying imp squads plus 3 more you summon. Turn 3 it's 9. This is contingent on your imps winning with few losses, but that’s pretty viable if you’re hitting the 1-6 PD that tends to be the default most people put up in random provinces.

That's a pretty brutal artillery Tower of Power, but let’s keep stacking. You’ve got some great raid game here, but sometimes you really just need to shut down that enemy cap or important fort. If you’ve not power-spammed Rain of Toads you’re in for a treat. You should be able to hit an enemy cap with 6 castings all at once, spike the unrest to 200, and disease some premium mages before he can get a dome up. Let's stack it even higher. Those N random Bitch Mothers with thorn armor can cast Locust Swarms - which is not the sort of thing you want to dump naturegem gems in indiscriminately, but it does apply an additional -50% income to the province targeted as well as some additional unrest so it can be a worthwhile consideration for the first couple turns as you’re spiking up all your imps. Aggressive raiding while axing your opponent’s cap income by 80% can realistically leave them with 0 gold to respond with - which is why you can find yourself with 9 flocks of imps flying around conquering province after province.

Fear Stacks

Fear effects are another layered thing made excellent by stacking, but probably not how you immediately think. Just trying to spam a bunch of Panic on top of each other and you’re likely to be disappointed. There are a few things you really keep in mind to stack up in trying to cause routing as a strategy. First - pretty obvious units taking enough damage route. The purpose of fear tactics is to make the route with a lot less damage, but it’s difficult (though not impossible) to do it with no damage. Next, also obviously enemy morale matters quite a bit and there are lots of enemies that are pointless to try and route - from undead to Berserkers. A fear strategy is not always a go-to, it's a tool in your bag to pull out when it's appropriate. Counterintuitively sometimes fear immunity can actually work quite well to your advantage in some situations - routing half of the enemy army maybe even better than routing the whole thing. Basically, your prongs of attack here are 1 - lowering enemy morale 2- causing damage 3- causing morale checks.

A thing that's important to remember is that morale is checked at a squad level, and each squad will make a maximum of one morale check per turn. Doesn’t matter how many fear things you stack, it all comes down to one roll per turn. This is why specifically Panic spam is less effective than it seems like it might be. It’s a wide area and causes a morale check but it doesn’t lower morale very much so even if you spam it a dozen times this just comes down to an entirely healthy squad making one easily passed morale check. So, how do we make this more effective?

What Panic is effective at is making sure those morale checks happen, so if we make them easier to fail while consistently forcing them, then they will fail eventually. We can do that by lowering the enemy morale, and by doing damage to them. Obviously, if we can do enough damage to them then we’ll just win outright, but in closer fights, the important bit is that there’s roughly a -1 to each morale check for each 20-ish percent they’re down in their hitpoints. Remember that we’re talking about squad-level here, not individual, which is why wide-area low-ish damage (like poison or Fire Clouds) are disproportionately effective to stack with fear compared to their outright killing power. Generally speaking a guy at half his hitpoints (afflictions aside) is 100% effective on the battlefield - but a squad at half its hit points that would otherwise be totally effective at tearing through your backline is gonna have a lot more trouble with that Panic tagging them every turn. When you’re inevitably facing stuff that’s poison resistance you can rotate in some other spells to get those damage ticks - from Astral Fires to Magma Eruption, and even Acid Rain which is AP with no possible resistance. Remember, you don’t need to have the raw damage effectiveness of some of the more usual goto spells - wounding enemies is the bar here.

Laying out a ton of damage isn’t really a fear strategy though, and Ind generally isn’t going to be dropping a bunch of evocations so how can we lower morale when we can’t deal out tons of damage? Well, you certainly want to keep an eye out for targets of opportunity - pay attention when your opponent is fielding guys with average morale, or marching a hungry army through low population areas (starving) - invading armies often don’t know they’re about to chase you into a low population province until they’re there. There are also some premium things that work really well but are hard to research/cast like Blood Rain & Dark Skies, but there are some tools more reliably available early. Contrasting to Panic spells that cause “greater fear” do a much better job of lowering morale - though you do need to be careful about friendly fire. Conveniently Bitch Mothers have two great options - and stacking on top of that they can also self-buff Eagle Eyes. Agony and Terror are your meat and potatoes way to lower enemy morale.

Agony is a great spell that hits morale as well as causes damage, and can be cast by all your stealthy Bitch Mothers so….Surprise! Since it burns blood slaves and thus can’t really be spammed across a bunch of turns, a good trick is to hold it for the 5 script slot as a closer. This gives you the best chance to stack Agony on top of poison ticks on top of already lowered morale. What to do on the earlier script slots? Give them a few naturegem gems and help spam the Poison Clouds - or even better give them a skull staff and pound out a few Terrors. Terror and Agony both cause greater fear, so after buffing Eagle Eyes, 3 turns of Terror will land finished off by an Agony. This will substantially lower enemy morale while hopefully landing some more damage around the time they’re racking up some wide-area poison damage. Morale takes a bit to recover so further Panic spam will give them further handicapped morale rolls to fail. That’s a proper fear stack, and you’re gonna find that way more effective than just spamming Panic. If you want to pile on one more stack, fear and awe work very well together so sticking a fear helm on a Malikah can be a reasonably cheap way to further lower morale while having pretty good survivability depending on what you’re facing. Hasmel are only 9 pearls - don’t send the ones with your expensive Lifelong Protections into melee silly, get some more!

Also consider some extra stacks on the tying things upfront. Howl, Imps and skellispam are already pretty good at this, but if you need to buy some extra time against a big enemy army Dispossessed Spirits and Creeping Doom are good options. Swarms of insects stack pretty nifty with luck - and it's the same research tree! Cross Breeding is another good way to get cheap bodies to make lucky and throw in front of rapidly wilting enemy elites. Note - if you’re doing things that create a lot of corpses Raise Dead is a more efficient way to restock your chaff than Horde of Skeletons.

Tower of Power

We’ve laid out many layers to this Tower of Power, but lets stack them all up at once and see how high we get. Starting out with good sacreds and a solid bless your initial expansion is quick and easy. Your initial strength is bolstered by ubiquitous, reasonably cheap holy 33 priests which dominate any undead and chain smite any early thugs or aggressive pretenders. Your sacreds make easy work of line troops and are outnumbering enemy elites by 3:1. Now your angels hit the field, bringing unparalleled mobility and aggressive early raiding before most nations have any answers. The effectiveness of your sacreds just keeps scaling up as early magic support has them tearing through even enemy heavy units, with Mist and Solar Eclipses effectively hampering enemy mages from bringing them down. Now your Bitch Mothers join the fray and your quick ramp-up blood economy has heavy imp spam showing up out of nowhere in unpredictable places. Enemies are trying to climb through poison clouds while fighting imps and skeletons as armor-piercing xbow bolts rain down indiscriminately. Then the Terror, Panic, and Agony starts making few enemy types able to even try the gauntlet before hearing their mom calling them. Any opponent trying the obvious tactic of fielding undead immune to poison and fear is quickly reminded that you’ve got batteries of holy 33 priests now. Anyone trying the other obvious thing of flying over all that straight to the back is faced with the foundation this Tower of Power was built on - sacred heavy infantry that would be the elite front line for many nations but is just loitering in the back here. Then the strategic artillery barrage starts. Any commander not covered by an astral mage or expensive MR boosters quickly melts, and that deadly rain of hostile minds you can just expect to happen every turn until the game ends. Gold income evaporates as toads and locusts clog all the wells, and Hell joins the assault as a kind of absurd amount of demon lead imps appear out of nowhere supplementing the heavier hitting angels zooming all over the place. Heavy support mages are teleporting around dropping an ever-shifting array of buffs - somehow alternating between Heat from Hell and Grip of Winter whenever it seemed possible to make it through all the chaff and poison clouds. Every couple turns into another fully formed army with scores of heavy sacreds Gateways out, and now holy shit they’re all high attack armor piercing magic weapons with luck.

That, my friend, is a Tower of Power that reaches up to heaven. Surely the Pantokrator would smash it down if he were still around. Since he’s not, we’ll just have to see about filling that throne.

stacks-on-stacks-a-guide-to-ind-by-baalz.txt · Last modified: 2021/04/21 15:57 by joste