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thugs-and-supercombatants

Thugs and Supercombatants

FIXME: add examples of supercombatants, general guide to kitting out thugs and SCs, just generally expanding on everything below

Thugs

The definition of a thug can be somewhat nebulous, changing depending on the situation and context of what you're discussing. In the broadest sense, a thug is:

  • A commander, recruited or summoned…
  • …that can take on province defence, small armies, or other thugs, either alone or in small groups…
  • …in a way that's relatively resource efficient.

As you can probably tell this covers a very wide range of possibilities. In many ways, a thug is a "you'll know it when you see it" sort of concept. Some nations have thugs which can be recruited from their capital; others rely on national or generic summons they can access with their mages.

Thugs can range in "weight class" from the ultra light who can handle most provinces on their own but not PD dumps to the very heavy who can handle 100 PD and mage supported armies which were not expecting them. A light thug might be a Vanjarl or Phaeacian Storm Captain with a Vine Shield. A heavy thug would be a Jotun Skratti or Wight Bakemono Sorcerer with most of their slots filled with magic equipment and a pair of mages to fluff them with magic buffs before combat.

Supercombatants

A supercombatant (SC) is, in some ways, a "super thug":

  • A commander, almost always summoned, or possibly a Pretender God…
  • …that can wipe out entire armies with minimal support…
  • …by investing significant resources.

Supercombatants are usually something that will come about in the late game, once the most powerful summons, buffs, and constructions have been researched. Usually only a few specific creatures have the stats and abilities needed to properly fill this role, such as the arch angels, Laestrygonian Tyrants, or some pretender gods.

SCs are difficult to make work in Dominions 5 - in the prior games they were easier to make and harder to kill. Due to a variety of reasons this is no longer the case. Nowadays an SC needs to be tailored to the threat they are facing - making sure to have high fire resistance versus Abysia or high magic resistance versus Bandar Log for example.

Designing Thugs and SC's

A thug or SC needs to do three things: kill whatever it needs to kill (or scare it off), not die in the process, and move around the map. One of the major advantages of thugs is the ability to mix and match equipment to achieve various goals, in combination with the innate abilities of the chassis.

What you use will depend on what you need to do, how much you want to spend, and what gems and paths you have. Vaettiheim will equip most of its thugs with Frost Brands, not Fire Brands – simply because you don't have the gems or the mages to make Fire Brands.

Here are some of the more commonly-seen items:

Fighting PD

Thugs, particularly light ones, spend most of their time whacking province defense and chaffy infantry. This is best done with AoE weapons.

You need a way to kill them, and you need a way to not die in the process.

  • Frost Brand (5watergem is the most basic, clearing PD with a minimum of fuss.

* Fire Brand (5firegem5earthgem) is an upgrade. Fire damage is better than cold damage on an AoE weapon since it works on summoned skeletons; the weapon itself is armor piercing so it can work against other thugs with high protection.

* Snake Bladder Stick (5naturegem) can be used on things that resist poison, and is good at killing large volumes of things that don't resist poison.

* Mace of Eruption (10firegem) comes at Construction 2 and can be used to clear weak chaff.

* Horror Helm (10deathgem) provides fear, which can eventually rout enemy PD if you can endure their attacks for a while.

* Magic: Summoned elementals or Soul Vortex can wipe out PD reliably.

You also need to not die to PD or light enemy squads in the area. The best way for any thug or SC to survive is to layer defenses, so that anything that gets past one must deal with another. This also makes you more robust to certain counters: if you rely solely on a high Protection statistic to not die, then some mage will wander by with Lightning Bolt and you'll be sad.

If your base chassis doesn't have good protection or the ability to cast Ironskin or similar, you will likely need some armor. Many armor types will provide protection plus other goodies.

* Armor of Knights (5earthgem): lots of Protection for a cheap price and low encumbrance, but no other goodies.

* Copper Plate (5airgem): Don't want to die to mages with Lightning Bolt ? Try this.

* Chain Mail of Displacement (10airgem): Already hard to hit? Get protection and make yourself even harder. Good if you're worried about elite troops or anti-thugs.

* Dragon scale mail: High resistance value, low encumbrance, good prot

* Rainbow Armor (5airgem5naturegem): magic resistance, reinvigoration, not too much encumbrance, but low protection. Useful for thugs or for combat mages.

Killing Enemy Thugs/SC's/Elites

If you need to chop up enemy big stuff, you're looking for accurate high-damage attacks. Some items that do that well are Greatsword of Sharpness, Moon Blade, Axe of Hate, or Flesh Eater.

Important Spells

Thugging and Super Combating is not as much about killing the enemy as it is about keeping yourself alive. To this end there are many spells which can be used to make thugs and SCs multiplicatively more durable. This is an incomplete list and you can help by expanding it.

Self Buffs

Liquid body and Temper flesh: Both provide all physical resistances, halving physical damage rounding down after protection goes a long way towards keeping someone alive. Temper flesh comes with some fire resistance and liquid body comes with affliction resistance and some other effects but for the most use cases these spells are equivalent.

Hell Power: Hellpower provides a host of stat boosts to a caster, +att, def, mr, etc. which are all extremely valuable to a thug or SC but comes at a steep cost in fatigue and risk of being attacked by a horror. It is recommended that it not be cased by any single mage under B5 because of the long time they will spend asleep following the casting. The number of horrors which will be attracted by this spell make it only survivable by already powerful units such as Melqarts, Skratti, and Pretenders.

Flying Shield: Grants protective force, giving a 50% chance to add 20 protection on any attack. This stacks plainly with regular prot making it able to almost completely negate a lot of attacks on already high prot thugs.

Fluffer Spells

A "fluffer" is a weaker mage who joins battle along with a stronger unit (such as a thug or SC) with the sole job of casting buffs on the stronger unit. The fluffer can either retreat after casting its buffs or stay around and hope to survive while the strong unit fights the enemy army.

Body Ethereal: makes the subject ethereal, which provides a 75% chance for non-magical attacks to whiff. This is a good spell to fluff because it only requires astral 11 but a bad spell to have an SC cast because they can be cost effectively countered by Magic Duel.

Mossbody: Has a 75% chance to negate up to 15 points of damage, applied after protection, physical and elemental resistances. It has a funny effect where if an attack makes it through the extra 15 prot and does damage the mossbody disappears in a puff of poison but this is mostly an academic point when used on already high prot thugs.

Legions of Steel: +3 prot to all armor is good for anyone wearing armor and invaluable for prot stacking tactics.

Fluffer or Self cast spells

(Personal) Regeneration: early in the research tree come the absolutely vital regeneration buffs. Regeneration is great for thugs and SCs early, mid, and late game. Regeneration gives 10% health back every turn, rounding up! This stacks with natural regen (like on trolls) and regeneration from gear (like hydra skin armor). An Awake titan with a bit of armor and personal regen can expand. Later in the game regeneration is used to stop chip damage in long battles from killing thugs and SCs. Regeneration also reduces the odds of getting afflictions by 90%.

Various Prot buffs: Everything from Iron Warriors to Barkskin can be a valuable asset to a thug. Boosting natural prot partially stacks with armor but because it is a flat reduction to damage taken, a linear increase in prot results in an exponential decrease in the likely hood of a DRN rolling high enough to deal damage against very high prot. Protection stacking is a bread and butter method of increasing the durability of a thug or SC.

Quickness: +2 att and def, doubled movement speed, and doubled attack rate are wonderful for any SC but it comes at the cost of doubled fatigue. This spell can be amazing to have on fatigue negative undead thugs or ruinous on one with more serious fatigue concerns such as heavily armored skratti.

Countering Thugs and SC

Most thugs are designed to kill PD or unsupported armies. They thus focus their defenses on surviving being outnumbered by weak mundane units and their offense on killing or scaring away these quickly. The usual loadout of a Vine Shield and a Frost Brand is iconic for this.

Thugs also derive a lot of their utility from mobility: they often have a combination of magic phase movement (from Cloud Trapeze), flying or fast movement, and stealth to strike unexpectedly and get away safely.

So, to counter thugs, you will want to use something that can catch them and something that can kill them efficiently without dying first (either by their own defenses or with superior numbers).

Anti-Thugs

In contrast to the 'vine shield and brand' loadout that excels at killing mundane troops, other items are superior at rapidly killing single strong targets. For instance, a Sword of Quickness or a Holy Scourge is inferior to a Frost Brand at killing mundane troops, but will often kill a single beefy target more quickly.

Thus, if you know the characteristics of enemy thugs, it is often possible to design and script your own thugs to kill them more efficiently.

Especially since you can recover their gear (with scouts if necessary), this can be an efficient way of killing thugs and SC's; it can be worth a significant investment to jump on a SC with 50 gems worth of gear, kill it, and take its stuff.

The more expensive the SC, the more you can invest in killing it while recovering your investment.

Anti-Thug Mages

Especially if you are behind PD that can absorb attacks, mages (often in groups) can do a good job of killing thugs if their spells can target a weakness in their defenses. Cold resistance, for instance, may not seem vital on a thug or light SC designed to kill troops. But even a humble W1 mage behind friendly PD will make quick work of such a thug with Frozen Heart.

In general, good anti-thug spells are those that target gaps in the thug's defenses and are effective against strong single targets (i.e. that have high precision or that summon allies).

Some good anti-thug spells are Incinerate, Lightning Bolt, Frozen Heart, Soul Slay, Leech, and sometimes summoned elementals.

Anti-Thug Elites

Some thug defenses are readily bypassed by elite non-commander units with high MR, magic weapons, and good stats. For instance, a few Living Mercury will splatter most thugs. Wights and some blessed sacreds can do this as well. Leading small groups of these around, possibly with a mage to buff them, can do a good job of repelling raiding thugs.

Catching Thugs

There are two ways to catch thugs. One is to use magic phase movement to jump on them after they reveal themselves. This can often be done using A2 mages; many good anti-thug chassis have A2 (such as Vanjarls), but it is often efficient to use even plain human mages. For instance, it may often be worth it to Cloud Trapeze five of those mages (costing 15 gems) onto an enemy SC and Lightning Bolt it into oblivion – especially since you will get its stuff.

This doesn't work with thugs that will stealth and move away after attacking.

Another way to catch thugs is to simply anticipate their movement with very cheap antithugs or counter-thug elite squads who can disperse and meet them in the provinces they are trying to raid. For instance, many fairly weak commanders with a Holy Scourge can make quick work of a Dai Oni thug. Since they are so cheap, you can disperse these in provinces at risk of being raided and have a good chance of catching your target.

If you are anticipating thugs that may use magic phase movement to jump on you, one anti-thug squad can cover two provinces, since you'll fight them whether they jump in the province you are starting in or the one you are moving to.

thugs-and-supercombatants.txt · Last modified: 2021/04/19 03:16 by cactusowl