So here's the story - they've got great cap only sacreds, freespawn that are effective early, and some midgame swarm and skelly spam stuff to make anything that has issues dealing with chaff have even bigger issues fighting you. They also have what are effectively freespawn behemoths from time to time, which opponents will need conj 5 elementals or similar levels of magic invested to counter.
Between their forest rec stuff and freespawn, they can amass a number of raiding parties on the cheap and use their units to fight effectively across a wide front, and between their centaurs and manikins they can make a versatile blob of units that requires multiple answers to counter.
The sleep vines on their manikin makes it hard to deploy thugs against them, since even a reinvigorating build will be quickly put to sleep, at which point anything can kill them.
Their end game is also fairly well built in, since they're a big D and N nation, which means Tartarians. Unlike other Tart oriented nations, they're more N focused which is nice since the ancillary costs to tarts (GoH and GoR) are typically actually a bigger expense than the D costs. A successful Aspho end-game involves Mother Oak up early, then GoH when you're nearing your tart production, WoM if you can manage to swing it, and lots and lots of crazy dead titans
Unfortunately, Aspho has a transparently weak midgame, as they lack the defensive edge of Pan's seducers as well as its buff paths. This means that Aspho needs to continue relying on its early game tools for much longer, which will steadily depreciate in value while its neighbors tech up, and the midgame magic that they do have is often countered by the same stuff that kills manikins. This means that you need to rely on snowballing hard within the first two years, overexpanding, invading someone early, and putting up an early Mother Oak, in order to have the resource edge necessary to take on other nations as they get their magic online
Asphodel also has a particular terrible weakness to Fire Elementals. The flame shield applies to sleep vines, meaning that your manikins will wail uselessly on the multi-form elementals and kill themselves even more quickly than regular skeletons do. The only efficient answer lies in making water elementals of your own, which requires a rare double W random or access to bracelets at Cons 6. Naturally that's a big investment in research, especially considering that many F nations will beeline for Conj 5 to field fire elementals against even less particularly vulnerable enemies. Your best bet against fire nations is just going to be to out-raid them and dodge fights whenever possible. If they try to use solo mages with a handful of bodyguards, you can also deplete their gems with sacrificial squads (though its worth noting that you get far fewer dudes than Ermor or the like).
As far as pretender design goes, because you're a popkill nation your first dumps are going to be Turmoil 3, Sloth 3, and [Temp] 3. There's arguments for either temp scale, though I prefer cold in most cases. Asphodel's freespawn actually scales based on growth, so G3 will both let you keep some semblance of income in your dom longer (as your popkill is a fair bit less than Ermor or Lemuria's) and give you more manikins throughout the game. However, since Luck and Magic are your sources of events and vital RP for summoned and recruitable mages alike, Growth would be the fourth scale to drop if you needed the points for a more Ermor-like build.
As far as your pretender goes, there's a bit of a variety available. W9 makes your centaur both significantly killier and harder to kill, which helps in using them to grow huge and kill someone quickly. N9 helps making them tankier, so they can live to use their berserk and more importantly makes N globals easier for you to keep up (and Mother Oak is mandatory). You can also opt for a rainbow-ish build if you know what paths you want, but rainbows suck.
As far as research goals go, you want Alt, Ench, Conj, and Evo. Ench gives your core battle magic, whereas Alt gives you Mother Oak and some useful utility spells. Conj and Evo are somewhat niche, and used to answer particular enemy tactics.
Conj 3 gives Wild Tangle, a scaling ensnare effect which is nice for your big N mages similar to how E nations love Earth Meld. Evo brings sleep cloud. Both of these are basically used to answer stuff that kills you too fast.
Alt 4 gives swarm and Alt 5 gives Mother Oak and Wooden Warriors. You want this if it's safe to take early, basically. If you need your battle magic online sooner, you go ench.
And yeah, ench is where it's at. Ench 5 gives foul vapors and horde of skeletons and ench 6 gives rigor mortis and grip of winter. Once you hit this point, many of your opponents' early game armies will stop working entirely.
Carrion Lord Thugs are solid raiders with their stealth, high HP pool, and built in resistances and recuperation, but they have poor combat stats (8 base att/def) so they don't fight enemy thugs well unless the enemy in question is vulnerable to sleep vines. In general, though, Aspho just doesn't need thugs. They raid/counterraid with squads of units (potentially stealthed). I'd only really bother with a Carrion Lord thug if you were fighting someone that went AI or a player that similarly used huge blobs of chaff with minimal and poorly scripted mage support.
Oh, and I forgot to mention Shadowblast under Evo. That's your only really good direct damage spell. If you're not winning a battle by running them over with centaur, odds are you're going to be fatiguing them out instead.
This was posted on /domg/ therefore the author is literally Anonymous. I do not claim to have written it.
This is a copypasta but may help people who wants to test the nation but knows nowhere to start.