Guide for MA Man- Chivalry is Dead I’ve played Man with several different strategies, but this guide is focusing on the style which I found to be most satisfying. Man is considered one of the weaker nations in MA, and I’m not necessarily trying to refute this. On the other hand, I don’t believe “weak” translates to “entirely incapable of winning,” so this guide is mainly a way of how Man actually has several advantages that can be put to great use.
I will first go over units and commanders, mainly in relation to the favored strategy, but with minor nods to other things I have tried. After this I will describe some early game research goals and expansion tips, along with some advice for defending against rushes or starting one yourself. After that, I will outline some goals and tactics for the midgame. Finally, I will describe some pretender designs, and some possibilities for making Man’s weak lategame slightly more viable.
Commanders Royal Forester- a scout/commander with 10 leadership, stealth, and dual axes. Not really worth spending a fort recruit turn on, and I’m sure you knew that, but I can’t very well ignore the obligatory pointless review of the scout unit!
Castellan- Very durable, excellent commanders. Their lack of stealth makes them less relevant for my strategy, but they provide a not-insignificant +1 Morale. Morale is quite important for my strategy, which focuses more on the lightly armored, shieldless foresters who will take a lot of casualties and as such, need a lot of morale to avoid fleeing in terror. For your big, unstealthy, fort-cracking army, Castellans can be great to command the majority of your frontline troops, giving +4 morale between their leadership, a Horn of Valor, and a Helmet of Heroes. Throw in a song of Bravery courtesy of a N1 mage and you have +5 morale on a large portion of your troops.
Monk- a stealthy, 25 gold H1 that can research for 3 unaffected by magic scales, and only requires a temple. These are very versatile and supremely cheap, and having a temple churning one out a turn is a good goal after year 1. They can lead stealthy raiding parties of blessed Wardens if you insist on taking a bless, or even simple groups of Foresters if your enemy is relying on very low PD. They can push dominion safely and cheaply if you plan on airdropping your pretender or prophet to a vital position, and of course can provide cheap banish spam in case of skeletons. With a good stock of Owl Quills, they also allow you to deploy your real mages for battle without suffering an absolute research crash. They also serve as wonderfully cheap scouts.
Bard- A stealthy, nonsacred N1 Spy for 75 gold isn’t terrible, but Daughters are sacred and have an extra magic path for only 10 more gold. On the other hand, Bards don’t need the magical infrastructure that your other mages do, so they can be recruited from forts without needing to pause and construct a temple. After conquering enemy forts, it can be worthwhile to simply recruit Bards if you don’t have time to put up a temple.
Daughters of Avalon- 85 gold for a sacred N1A1 or N2 mage with 9 research is fairly cost-efficient for the early game, and these will form your early research corps. As traditional battlemages they are somewhat lackluster, but are capable of creating Swarm chaff and the N2 ones are capable of slinging out important earlygame buffs like Enlarge and the various barkskin-buffs, and even the N1 ones can use Tangle Vines.
Mother of Avalon- the enhanced price tag of 195 gold for an N3, N2A1, or N1A2 (with 20% E or W) may seem excessive compared to a Daughter, but the 40 leadership and stealth Mothers have makes them excellent leaders of Forester raiding parties. Wind Guide and various Nature buffs make these raiding parties dangerous even to elevated levels of PD. A2N1 Mothers are my favorite due to the Air Shield keeping them safe from projectiles and the Wind Guide capacity, but the other Mothers are also excellent for buffing with Wooden Warriors and tying up enemies with Tangle Vines. The W and E random mothers are good sitesearching candidates and are valuable forgers and even ritual casters later on, so try to keep them safe. When leading forester armies, it’s best if you can set them out of range of enemy archers, since one stray arrow can route all the commanded foresters. These are your major army mages, and you’ll soon want to recruit them in favor of daughters in preparation for war.
Lord Warden- One of the mightiest human units available, these 120 gold sacred brutes are almost comparable to Sleepers, but ultimately are just a little too low on HP to make reliable thugs while remaining gem-efficient. With some Luck, Ambidexterity, and the right weapons they might be able to make a surprise stealth attack against an enemy thug, but for a capital only unit, a mage recruitment is probably a better deal. A Prophetized Lord Warden has more favorable prospects for being thuggable in heavy dominion, and recruiting one early with this in mind can be an alright(albeit unnecessary) use of your Prophet slot.
Knight Commander of Avalon- Map Move 3 is hardly worth the cost of 125 gold, and a capital recruitment slot compared with the equally capable Castellan.
Crone of Avalon- 335 gold, cap only, StR, MM1, and old age, for A2N3 with a AEWN random? While a N4 one is good for casting Mother Oak, these units simply don’t bring much to the battlefield that your N3 and A2N1 Mothers can’t already cover. The A3 ones can be useful if you need to call a Storm, but lightning evocation isn’t something Man excels at and Man is usually the one bringing a lot of archers. Crones can be useful for forging and a few rituals though, so collecting an A3 and N4 one is worthwhile. If you end up with unnecessary Crones, Transforming them can be a way to dodge their upkeep, restore their youth, and maybe even get a worthwhile thug.
Logrian Wise Man- These grumpy hedge-wizards are absolutely necessary to keep your battlemagic relevant. Foreign recruitable is less impressive given their inept researcher 4 and nonsacred status, and E1?FAEN1 are hardly jawdropping paths. However, they bring versatility that Man can’t do without, and having a full complement of them is necessary when wringing everything you can out of Man’s lackluster magic paths. In my strategy, I recommend getting a lab by turn 3 or 4 to begin cranking these out to sitesearch your whole nation and serve as forgers. An unnamed tactical genius has helpfully compiled some of the many uses for these units, which I will post later in the battlemagic section. Along with Mothers and N2 Daughters, E2 mages will be great workhorses of your armies, and having 5+ labs churning out Logrian Wisemen is much more attainable than 5 fully fledged fortresses.
UNITS-Or, why Chivalry is Dead Let’s start off with the fanciest unit Man has, and why I think it’s not worth it. The Knights of Avalon! These guys have incredible stats, are able to recuperate, and dish out 3 attacks a round, one of which is magical. They also have an absurd 30 Move, so if they are set to flank and pass their morale checks, the enemy will have very little time to react before the knights impact their rear line. On the other hand, they cost a whopping 65 gold and 56 resources, and don’t even have the decency to be sacred. They can be threatening to thugs and sacreds, especially ones that rely on etherealness or stat superiority, but their prohibitive price means that they’re facing many enemies at a 6-1 numerical disadvantage, and I don’t think they can handle those odds. They’re impressive in their own way, but 56 resources and cap only means you will never be able be able to get many of them, especially not in the early stage of the game where troops are most important. The real dealbreaker for me is the opportunity cost of taking Production scales instead of something else- I believe Man is very playable with heavy Sloth scales, and that Production for knights is an expensive decision to make.
Knight of Man Like Knights of Avalon, these elite heavy infantry are simply too gold and resource intensive to rely on. If you do go for Production, these are recruit anywhere, which can help circumvent the resource bottleneck with enough forts.
Spearman/Longspear- shield and spear, standard lineholder troops, right? Well, sorta. The weak protection of Man’s spearmen means that they aren’t particularly durable, and given that Man isn’t really a “spam evocations from behind troops” nation anyway, I would not recommend buying these troops in most cases. Worse yet, the Longspears are Map Move 1, which I find intolerable given the availability of stealthy, MM2 forest survival leaders.
Tower Guard- Don’t be fooled by the metal armor and MM1- these units are no true heavy infantry. Their protection of 13 means unless they get their shield up, they will suffer noticeable damage from spears, daggers, and everything else, and while they might be bit tougher than spearmen, at the end of the day they’re slow, mediocre units.
Longbowmen- At last, a unit I won’t dismiss and jeer at! For 12 gold and 7 resources, Longbows are excellent, able to rain death down on enemy archers with near impunity, and inflict casualties on units that would sneer at shortbows. Better yet, the 11 strength and Shortsword mean they are hardly pushovers in melee, though attrition will of course be atrocious. However, these still aren’t the unit I would recommend as your go-to troop.
Forester- Here we have it folks, my favorite troop in all of Dominions, so forgive me if I seem to wax hyperbolic. These nasty little guys stealth into enemy territory, fill your enemies with precision 12 shortbow arrows, and then, when the enemy closes to melee with these “archers,” they’re in for a very nasty encounter with dual-wielded axes and daggers. They have 6 attacks per square, 3 of which deal high damage, and soften up targets as they come near. They aren’t perfect against everything, but with very simple buffs they can be made into soft counters against all sorts of troops. They have more precision than typical archers, so even unbuffed their shortbows are more effective than one might expect. Against high HP or high Protection troops, Strength of Giants/Earthmight give their axes enough power to cut down the enemy, or the armor can be destroyed directly with Destruction and later Ironbane. High defense troops will be murdered in one round if held down by False Fetters, Tangle Vines, or Earthmeld, so W9 sacreds and cavalry are something you needn’t live in fear of. All in all, Foresters also cost very little compared to what they are capable of killing. And the thing foresters really excel at killing is your enemies income- stealthy raiding parties can absolutely ruin someone early on, with no need to confront their main army or siege their capital- crippling the enemy’s expansion and bringing early economic ruin can bring down the slow death as they are left behind economically. The downside is, of course, that with low defense and protection, Foresters tend to die quickly to anything that can resist their fearsome offensive capabilities. In the battlemagic section, I have some suggestions to prevent having your forester legions whittled down, and boosting their morale with Song of Bravery is never a waste of a mage turn.
Logrians Foreign recruitable units, Logrians are a bit weird, but can be situationally useful. The Warriors have shields and Axes and above average stats, and protection on par with the bogus castle guard and spearmen without the pain of weak weaponry and/or mapmove 1. I occasionally use them in small, disposable numbers as somewhat sturdy arrowcatchers and decoys, with foresters on the flanks.
The Logrian Cavalry is overpriced goldwise, but quite reasonable on the resources, and can function as a nasty surprise flanking against enemies that have a lone commander hiding far from their men.
Finally, the foreign recruitable Slingers are, as expected, a cowardly and superstitious lot, with low stats and laughable morale. On the other hand, they are comparable to Markata in terms of disposable chaff- even in sloth 3, it’s very easy to rustle up some slingers to distract enemy troops from the real threat of the Foresters. Furthermore, the slingers can be excellent in the expansion phase- if an expansion party takes attrition, it can refuel with slingers and move against lightly armored tribal indies and barbarians without having to wait for reinforcements. With 7 morale they’ll probably run away as soon as they take a hit, so go ahead and put them up front to get thoroughly slaughtered- their slings need to be closer than bows anyway. If you find a high resource province, it’s quite viable to produce an army of 1 commander and 40 slingers in short periods of time, and these 320 gold armies are quite capable against expanding against barbarians and tribal indies, and can easily be suicided to remove upkeep once they outlive their usefulness.
Oh wait, Man has sacreds. Right.
Wardens of Avalon Elite, stealthy sacreds with heavy armor, greatswords that hit like Barbarians+, and mapmove 1. If you’re still reading after Mapmove 1, these guys are basically the Knight problem all over again, but now even slower. Yes, they’re resilient, they hit hard, you can expand with small groups of them, but they’re expensive and come with a huge opportunity cost for your pretender. Once you have other castles producing armies, wardens can be recruited as tough, high-morale units to serve as resilient bodyguards and blockers, but MM1 means you’ll have trouble having them be where you need them, so I recommend leaving the blocking to Vinemen.
Man also has 3 sacred summons, but 2 of them need death magic and c’mon, they’re glorified dogs. Please don’t ruin your scales trying to make dogs viable. There’s plenty of other cool things to ruin your scales for, and I’ll share them with you soon enough.
THE EARLY GAME You want to recruit either Longbowmen or Foresters and then cherrypick the lightest armored provinces you can find to make your army last as long as possible. If you have Production Scales, you can consider using Knights of Avalon to bulldoze some stubborn indies near the end of year 1- 10 or so knights will ruin the day of most indies, but if you make them your go-to expansion it will be alarmingly slow, even with Production 3. If you have an awake pretender, use it to take the provinces that resist the expansion strategy of arrows. Remember what I said about slingers to help extend the lifespan of expansion parties- sacrificing 70 gold of slingers to get even a 25 gold province a few turns early is a worthwhile trade.
For the first 6-12 turns or even more, recruit Daughters of Avalon. They research almost as well as mothers, but are 100 gold cheaper, and you’ll want that gold to expand and build a lab in the first province you conquer so you can get some Logrian Wise Men.I would prioritize getting more provinces and strategic chokepoints over another fort, because you shouldn’t be resource limited or even mage limited for quite some time with your foreign recruit logrian mages and troops. Once you can run your resources down to 0 and still have gold, it’s time to begin recruiting Mothers of Avalon, who you can also use to lead the foresters who may or may not be piling up in your capital. As for research, I would reach for Construction 2, then Conjuration 1, then put everything into alteration. Construction 2 allows you to turn all your air gems into Owl Quills, which helps you reach your research goals before the enemy, and conjuration 1 gives Tangle Vines, which is your easiest access spell that works well with the focus on foresters and this humble spell can be the difference between life and death in an early rush.
THE MIDGAME I would recommend Conjuration 5 for Tangle vines, Summon Earthpower, Vine Ogres, Sleepers, Manticores, and Howl and Alteration 5+ for mother oak, Swarm, Enlarge, Protection/Wooden Warriors, and various other useful N and A battlemagics. Evocation also opens up some direct damage and the possibility of springing earthquakes on the enemy, and Construction 4 allows for boosters and useful equipment.- Horns of Valor and perhaps even Helmets of Champions can be of great use for making sure your foresters stick around longer than the enemy does. Enchantment is less vital, but if you need even more of a damage boost than Enlarge can provide, Strength of Giants synergizes excellently with everything else.
Getting Mother Oak is very useful for Man, and with Magic 3 and multiple recruitment centers for Logrians, it’s entirely possible to get in Year 2, provided you set up plenty of Laboratories to churn out Logrian Wisemen from- you want to sitesearch every province you have with Wisemen because it's cheap and you want as many Earth Gems as you can possible get. Alteration has very useful battlemagics, so I would prioritize Alteration 5 and Construction 4 first before going for Conjuration(with maybe Conjuration1 for Tangle Vines) and certainly before even considering Evocation, though if you are facing ungodly amounts of chaff Earthquake becomes more appealing.
In any case, even without Mother Oak you should have a very good Nature income by now. Getting some Ivy Crowns and beginning to churn out Vine Ogres is very handy, as Man benefits greatly from having tough blockers to allow their archers punish the enemy and allow foresters to come around the sides and chop up enemies while the enemy hacks at the blockers. Setting Vine Ogres in a line up front, with foresters set back to either side is a formation that has worked well for me. For these armies, Wind Guide is useful and you should use the time bought by the Vine Ogres to buff the foresters with the Mothers of Avalon leading these armies. Logrian Wisemen can also accompany these armies as buffers, and armor-disablers- Iron Bane is an excellent spell that punishes enemy armies more than your own, and the more units you can entangle, fetter, or earthmeld, the better. Don’t feel bad about bringing seemingly large amounts of mages with these armies- remember that Logrians are foreign recruit and highly disposable. This army is your fort-cracker, so stopping occasionally to bloat its ranks with slingers can be a decent idea, especially if you want to keep a cushion in front of your foresters so they have time to be fully buffed before engaging in melee.
The second style of army will be raiders- packs of Foresters led by Mothers of Avalon. Constant, unrelenting stealthy raids are difficult to counter until the enemy can get commander killing rituals or mobile thugs online. These raiding parties will also serve as reinforcements for your main fortcracking army- if the big army begins to suffer from attrition or your raids begin to falter, recall one or all of these raiding parties to bolster your ranks. As reinforcements from your forts arrive, you can decide whether to add them to the fortcracking army or send them out to do more raiding.
Man is not a evocation-blaster nation that obliterates everything within range. So if the enemy rolls out something that you have trouble dealing with, I have several recommendations The easiest one is to simply avoid their doomstack of mages/sacreds/hoburgs and raid them into economic ruin and lagging research. Alternately, there are possibilities for Alteration, Evocation, and Conjuration that I think are all promising. Alteration is the sort of “Pillowfort Defense”- hang in the back and call forth a horde of insects and Phantasmal Warriors to suck up the spells, and have your troops sneak in after the mages have been reduced to casting anemic spells every other turn and the troops are tired and sweaty from swinging at bugs and illusions while Curse of Stones weighs them down. Conjuration gives you Howl, which screws up enemy scripting and will devour unprotected mages, and also Summon Lesser Air Elemental, which I think works best if cast as the last action, after enemies have been tied up by other things.
These fights can be gem intensive- Howl, Iron Bane, Curse of Stones, Wind guide, and/or several Swarms. You have plenty of stealthy troops to resupply gems , so load up some Monks with gems and set them to sneak along your big army. It’s better to be extravagant with gems and mages and win than be stingy and lose- deploying your mages and spending gems on battles is how Man must win midgame fights, and if you’re willing to take the initiative in using mages well, you can hopefully destroy the unprepared enemy army which hasn’t had good mage support set up yet, and then prevent reinforcements and recovery via raiding.
As for Conjuration 5, Sleepers and Manticores are the things to consider summoning. Sleeper Thugs are entirely possible, but I think a buff-casting Mother of Avalon with Winged Boots leading Manticores is more reliable and gem efficient for raiding than a kitted Sleeper thug, though as always, it depends. These strategies tend to be very Nature-gem hungry, which is why I so strongly recommend getting Mother Oak early- if you cannot get mother oak, I would recommend ignoring the flying commander+manticore raiding squads and focus on using gems in combat and for Vine Ogres.
The following overview of the battlemagic and general uses for Logrian Wisemen was inspired and co-written by another player who is for now anonymous, though I have altered the formatting slightly and added some of my own commentary and ideas. Logrian Wisemen E1 + 1(F/A/E/N)
E2 - Summon earthpower to E3. Slap on some earth boots to E4, if you want. These are the most useful Logrians and the more of these you have, the better. If you have the E income, getting a Dwarvern Hammer is an excellent idea to churn out cheap gear like Boots of the Messenger, Ivy Crowns, and even thug equipment. It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to forge many hammers, so try to squeeze everything you can out of that first hammer, because it could be your last.
Alteration spells– Earth Meld, Destruction, Curse of Stones, Maws of the Earth, Iron Bane, Iron/Marble Warriors. These spells do well to shut down heavily armored or high defense troops so your Foresters can murder them. Iron/Marble Warriors compensates for the low protection of Foresters, making them more resilient in combat.
Handy Non-Alteration spells for E2 Logrians include various Earth Elemental summons, Legions of Steel, Strength of Giants, Bladewind, and Earthquake. E4 is of questionable use, since it only brings a few more spells to the table. Potentially you could do, suicidal earthquake spam, (though your earth income will likely mean this is a one-time deal, so you absolutely must make it count.) ground army (vs lightning spam, though I'd recommend not fighting evocation-heavy armies directly if you can help it), and living earth.
E1F1 - Mildly useful evo blasters, very useful crosspath forgers. Access to magma eruption.
Without boosting paths, these can spam magma bolts, combustion, bonds of fire, and earth grip. Earth boots bring him up to E2, then summon earthpower to E3F1. Can then cast magma eruption and simple E2 spells. While their battlemagic is lackluster, these are excellent forgers, bringing Fire Brands, Charcoal Shields, Elemental Armors, and Helmets of Champions into play with your F and E gems.
E1A1 - Potentially lightning evos. Owlquill Forgers. Not too useful without some boosters. Aim, steal breath, phantasmal warrior, earth grip. They have some interesting crosspath forgings, but generally F/E items are superior choices. These and N1 mages can be snipers when equipped with Black Bows or whatever other ranged weapon you require to Target Rear or Large enemies.
Later in the game, boosting one of these mages to E3 with various combinations of extra gems, earth boots, and summon earthpower allows you to cast Rain of Stones. This can be a very effective way to trade some gems and a cheap, bad mage for many squishy mages in the enemy army. It works best when the enemy isn’t expecting it, so preferably use it when you KNOW the enemy army + mages are going to move onto a province next turn, so that your wisemen get to cast ASAP. (Defending armies get to move/cast/attack first.) Armoring up the caster and telling him to retreat after casting ideally will allow you to keep the earth boots, which can be handy if you're trying to Turn 1 Rain of Stones multiple times.
E1N1 These guys really aren't too useful for battlemagic. Soothing song in the middle of all your other mages can be useful, as can Song of Bravery in your Forester. These guys can be good choices as Swarm casters, as being KO’d and even killed afterwards is no great loss. One use for them is being your designated Manticore summoners, which they can do with Earth Boots and a Thistle Mace. They can also be acceptable choices for Transformation fodder if you feel like taking a gamble with this weird spell- the loss of these Logrians is no big deal, and even E1 is good for making either light thugs or resilient spell bait.
LATEGAME Man is not a Lategame powerhouse, but they’re not completely helpless. I think Alteration 8 is a good goal, as Curse of the Frog Prince will ruin thugs and even SC’s when spammed, Creeping Doom is Swarm writ large, Mass Protection is useful against nations with no fire evos, Transformation is a gamble which provides you with intriguing mage-thugs, and Polymorph is a devastating spell that is a gem intensive but absurdly effective spell against non-chaff armies.
Though less impressive early in the game, Thaumaturgy opens up Charm, one of the more terrifying SC counter, and the Worm That Walks, a strange unit that can harass enemy armies with Charm, Creeping Doom, Howl, Polymorph, and similar forever so long as it stays in friendly dominion. At this point in the game, your armies are probably simply not going to be able to handle the deadly evocations they are pitted against, so a thing to remember is that PD does not scale in the lategame, so you may be able to still raid opponents very effectively if they lack easy methods to catch the stealthy foresters or remotely slay the Mother/Sleeper commanders - and with your brand new Charm spell, thugs intervening against your Mother raiders has a moderate chance of backfiring hilariously. There’s no sense in suiciding your main army against Thunderstrike communions- try to annihilate magestacks with Earthquakes, Rains of Stones, even Foul Vapors rather than standard large army clashes.
However, nature magic alone will not win you the day, and Forest Troll Tribe isn’t going to provide timely or gem efficient diversity on its own. To have any hope of competing in the lategame magic scene, it falls to Man’s Pretender to open up magical diversity.
PRETENDER DESIGN AND APPLICATIONS Initially, I thought Man was best served by a simple Dormant Tiwaz of War with F4A4E4. Good Order, Production, and Growth scales for massive armies of Knights and Archers, a mighty God combatant, and enhanced depth in all the paths Man has shallow access to, allowing booster forging and powerful rituals and battlemagic. With as little gear some air armor, reinvig boots, and an Eye shield, coupled with Alteration3 for selfbuffs, he can easily destroy most early game armies, and saved me from an early rush from Ulm one game. And I still think this is a decent build, but as I played it a few times, I revised my opinion of it.
As a large target, relying on the Tiwaz for battlemagic made it an absolute magnet for Black Bows and other SC counters. Furthermore, there is no guarantee of finding significant Fire and Earth income as Man, and the higher Air Magic seemed like overkill, especially when Crones or even Mothers were capable of casting many of the most important spells with an extra gem. Also, deeper access in elemental paths did very little to enhance my versatility. I experimented with adding Death to the Tiwaz, allowing for Spectre summoning and so access to Death and Astral magic. However, 4 paths on a single unit led to the problem of both having all my eggs in one basket- taking out this Tiwaz hurt my nation significantly, and the need to search for death sites and do death things in addition to high elemental things was simply too much- the Tiwaz was a monstrous point investment that could only do one thing a turn, and despite his enormous battle capacity, was still far from invulnerable to Feebleminds and Disease. Though the Tiwaz gives great elemental depth, he is only one unit and has no guarantee of finding the gems he needs to justify these paths.
And so, I arrived at the following pretender design. An awake Air 2 Death 5 Master Lich with Dom 9, Turmoil 3, Sloth 3, Cold 3, Luck 3, Magic 2
I know, I know, a far cry from the stability of a dormant 3 path titan with order scales! However, a Dom9 Lich with 5+ death has the enviable combination of good protection, Awe, Fear, and immortality. As his dominion spreads, he can simply march into indies and scare them off unless they overcome their terror and slay him before their morale breaks. Immortality ensures death and afflictions are minor setbacks rather than game-changing misfortunes, and the increased expansion rate from an awake pretender brings gold in quickly despite the low-gold scales. The immortality of the lich also lets you use it as a defensive thug or spellcaster to wear down enemies and discourage people from attacking- liches are quite tough so long as they don’t get lit on fire. Use him to search promising provinces for a death site, but don’t go crazy- one site is plenty and prioritizing expansion is more important early on. If you get Enchantment 3 for Strength of Giants, you can summon a Revenant or two with your modest Death income and have them take over sitesearching.
As Alteration increases, you gain access to Invulnerability and Soul Vortex for more impressive thugging, and at level 7 you can boost up to cast Bone Grinding to cripple whole armies. Spreading dominion via use of Monks can allow for more offensive use of the Lich as well, which goes well with the A2 for Cloud Trapeze and, with Evocations, add Wind of Death to the list of things your enemy should fear. The easiest method of using the Lich to harm enemy armies is to summon 6 or so Lammashtas, though this is inappropriate against more magical army compositions. Invulnerability+Soul Vortex can also be an effective “lichbomb” to bring grief to unprepared armies.
The other great use of the Lich is to break into Astral Magic with Spectres if no Astral indies can be found. And though I think level 9 research is too far down to ever rely on reaching, both liches are capable of bringing Tartarian Gate as a very, very lategame way to branch out even further pathwise without needing an excessive amount of death income, and Tartarian Gate synergizes well with Gift of Health, which can be a desirable global to pickup if your Mother Oak is uncontested.
As for those rather atypical scale choices, consider the following. Logrian mages can be recruited from any lab, and Turmoil/Luck/Magic tends to create at least one or two labs. Magic 2 makes Logrian Wisemen have acceptable gold to research costs, and since I recommend having plenty of them, it’s nice if they can pull their weight in the lab. The gems acquired from Luck and Magic also help fuel the battle strategy of using gems early and often. The Cold 3 is also helpful for ensuring Barkskin isn’t entirely suicidal against firespells(though it’s still far from ideal) and Growth 3 helps Tangle Vines and similar viney spells hold higher strength units.
ALTERNATE PRETENDER IDEAS: BEWARE, FOR HERE BE UNMARKED THEORYCRAFTING AND BACKPEDALING D6 Lich(otherwise as A2D5 lich above)- Forgoing the mobility of Cloud Trapeze, D6 has an easier time with Bone Grinding and is slightly cheaper, allowing for more scales and easier access to Tartarian Gate as a very, very lategame goal. So lategame that you really shouldn't be considering it, in fact. This build is slightly cheaper and as such may be a better choice if you want to look at more standard Order scales, since while T3L3 is acceptable, O3Mf3 is not.
F2D5 (Likewise as above) Lich- Instead of mobility, this lich exists to enable Flaming Arrows for your Forester armies, both by himself and by forging Skulls of Fire for your F1E1 Logrian Wisemen. As a side benefit, high Alteration will enable the delicious combination of Soul Vortex+Phoenix Pyre, which, when coupled with Immortal, make for constant, gruesome, and low-cost harassment.
A2F2D6 Lich- and if you just can’t choose between the last three lich variants, you can combine them all for the not-so-low cost of 2 scales! (please don’t)
Lich-type with Order 3 Sloth 3 Misfortune 1 Magic 2 and two more negative slots(one with D6 lich)- If you like the Lich but are dubious of the reasoning behind Turmoil+Luck+Growth and extreme temperatures advocated above, you can try for getting more reliable earlygame results with this. This can help you get more labs, Logrians, and forts, but remember how gem-intensive I recommend you make your battles- luck is excellent for providing gems when sitesearching doesn’t bear fruit.
Awake N4 Dom 9 Dragon- Excellent(compared to the Lich) scales, expansion with Flight, and immediate access to Mother Oak without the need to play Crone-Roulette make this a solid(if boring) choice. This is definitely inspired by Zinegata’s “Case for Awake Combat Pretenders,” though I think in this case a F4 Dragon would also be desirable for Flaming Arrows. Why, you could even get both and go F3N4 with the riskier Dom6 Dragon… but in any case, dragons exist if you don’t care about Death magic and aren’t scared of some lousy militia getting lucky and diseasing your god turn 2.
Imprisoned S9 Fountain Dom 8 O3S3G3L3M3 If the pricy awake expander is leaving you cold, Good scales has a lot of potential for Man- Gold AND Magic means you could potentially spew out massive amounts of labs, all producing research-boosted Logrian Wisemen. I think this approach has potential to let Man reach their Midgame before almost anyone else. If you aren’t convinced by Order+Luck, you can remove both Sloth and Luck for a more reliable troops and gold based approach. A S9 Fountain could potentially head for Wishes as a lategame plan in the already attractive Alteration School and there are certainly less research intensive combat uses for S9 pretenders. Minor alterations to the paths of the fountain could potentially give some useful booster and crosspath spell access, but the main idea behind this build is to use great scales to rocket into the midgame with stupendous hordes of Logrians supercharging your research and outnumbering enemy mages 5 to 1.
Dormant Tiwaz of War- F4A4E4, Dom 8, S3G3M2 and your choice of Order or Luck 3. I spent some time complaining about faults with this build earlier, but it’s really quite functional. This Pretender is the classic 3-path dormant titan that shows up to help win your first war, then recedes into casting rituals and forging. It increases your depth in the otherwise weak paths you have on Logrians, and serves as a brute-force battlemage and SC. This pretender works best if you can win your first war against a nation that has good F, A, or E income. You can turn whatever elemental income you get into boosters(this build enjoys reaching Construction 6), big elemental ritual spells, and even Elemental Royalty or Artifacts. There is also plenty of room to exchange scales for magic or vice versa in this build- dropping to F2 and sneaking in D2 is especially handy without being too costly.
EARLY WARS, AND CLOSING WORDS Stealth, treachery, and battle tactics that involve tying the enemy to the ground so Foresters can execute them is, in my mind, the best way to play Man. Chivalry is dead both on the battlefield and in strategic negotiations. However, I don’t think gank squads are the way to go unless an enemy is genuinely threatening enough to need multiple opponents to take them down. My recommended battle strategies of raiding and making sure that the only safe enemy provinces are ones with full armies in them isn’t great when all you’re trying to do is snag provinces from a ganked player and hope you aren’t next.
Instead, what I recommend is to try to be on good terms with all your neighbors to avoid being ganked yourself(easier said than done, I know), but always be maneuvering stealthy troops to be in position for your next 1v1 war. Some turtling is fine, but Man does not shine in the lategame- you need to use everything you have, WHEN YOU HAVE IT- Don’t get to alteration 3 and think “no I won’t go to war now, I want alt 4 for swarm. And then alt 5 for Maws of the Earth. And then Alt 6 for Iron Bane.” If you see an obvious fort being built by a neighbor and all you have is Tangle Vines and Alteration 3, by all means go smash that fort and raid circles around the enemy until you do get enough research to destroy their real army and take their capital. Your research will be kept in line with Logrians clutching Owl Quills in Magic Scales, so don’t be afraid to roll out your N2 Daughters and E2 Logrians immediately. Earth Meld and Tangle Vines is going to be laughable in year 4, but its no joke in early year 2, where 2 casts of AoE 5 Earth Meld could be shutting down 25% of the enemies troops.
But what if the enemy’s army is too strong and ignores my raiding and just marches to my capital and I only have 1 other fort because I spent all my money on stupid Laboratories for stupid Logrian Wisemen? I recommend building your labs near your capital, so you can withdraw those wisemen behind fort walls when enemies come near. Logrians may be lackluster, but if you have 4 labs you could have 40 logrians midway through year 2. If you can rustle up 1 earth gem per janky Logrian, they could all become E2 for one battle. 1 Nature gem per N1 mage turns into truly obnoxious hordes of bugs. Sure, it’s not viable long-term to do this, but if they’re trying to take your capital they’re going to be in for a real bad time if they lose... because a Mother can sneak out of the capital with some foresters, cut off the enemies retreat, and then sneak back in for the battle that will result in 100% losses for your enemy if they lose. And this is likely to be their only army in the early game- the horror of seeing their retreat being cutoff for a capital battle may well be enough to break the player’s morale and cause them to backoff until they can get stronger, which, given that you’re raiding them to economic ruin, is also a risky choice.
I hope this gives you an idea of how Man can be surprisingly nasty. I’d be happy to give more in-depth input on things that weren’t covered here, as I’ve experienced lots of different situations with Man.