Ripped from http://www.desura.com/games/dominions-4-thrones-of-ascensions/forum/thread/la-atlantis-guide-water-and-ice-versatility-and-strength in event of desura death
Earlier eras of Atlantis focused on elite royalty, kings and queens of terrible size and power (and cost) who used poorly equipped commoners to do the dying while they did the killing. That sort of thing might work under the water, where your turf is neither valuable nor easy to invade, but now Atlantis is on land and they can't afford to leave the real work to those size-4 and above. The little guys have been given real weapons and real armor and they've become terrors in melee... just, ya know, don't ask them to handle a bow or anything.
Strengths and Weaknesses
The main strength of LA Atlantis is its inexpensive-yet-elite infantry. Simply put, Atlantians are better than humans yet cost the same. Being an Atlantian gets you +2hp, +2 protection, +1 strength, 50% dark vision, 5+ cold resistance, x10 longer the normal lifespan, and full amphibiousness. In exchange you lose 1 defense, 2 action points, and 2 precision and, of those, you only care about the defense malus once melee is joined. With slight exception, everything you can recruit has superior equipment: ice weapons are magical and offer +1 attack compared to mundane weapons (except the glaive which, strangely, has a lower defense than a normal glaives), ice armor has lower encumbrance and/or higher protection than their normal counterparts, plus the ice aegis is arguably the best shield in the game. Your troops can move freely in and out of the water, have ubiquitous map move-2, are largely immune to darkness (be it magical, from fighting in caves, or fighting underwater), largely immune to cold spells and cold weather, largely immune to decay and Burden of Time (they can withstand about 95 rounds of decay), and completely immune to ethereal and mistform opponents. If they can catch it, the Atlantians of the late age can kill it, and do so for relatively little gold.
Another major strength of LA Atlantis is its versatility. Its troops have Map Move-2 and are amphibious. Its lab rat, the Tungalik, is an able commander, serviceable battle mage, and discount thug, all for a low price tag and lower upkeep. Its capstone mage, the Angakok, is a gifted leader of all three types (normal, magical, and undead/demonic), powerful battlemage, good forger, physically (very) powerful, and capable of taking troops both over the ocean with sailing and under the ocean with Gift of Water Breathing. Forgiving Fathers are tough, communion-capable evocation-spammers, who really flesh out your magical diversity. Furthermore, sailing got a substantial boost in range in Dom4 and while LA Atlantis is not a sailing power the likes of Marignon or Midgard, the fact that LA Atlantis can sail at all opens up a lot of avenues for invasion and surprise. And don't forget that a single Angakok can go island hopping with 160 troops (80 normal, 60 undead, 20 magical) of any size (Angakoks are one of the few commanders capable of taking Size-6 troops sailing), so you can make landfall with a very large, and very diverse force.
Finally, an often overlooked but very powerful advantage to LA Atlantis is just how cheaply they can operate. Tungaliks cost less than 4gp/turn in upkeep. Arssartuts, your cap-only sacreds, are solid combatants who cost less than 10gp/YEAR to maintain. As mentioned before, your infantry is very good for their cost and, given how tough and heavily armored they are, you'll suffer few losses during expansion (ice armor plus ice aegis plus 12+ hp troops can reliably shrug crossbows, but you should bring seal hunters or indie fodder to eat lance strikes). As such, you'll find yourself expanding quickly, maintaining a competitive gross income with other nations all the while you'll have an upkeep that's half or a third as low as that of other nations. This surplus gold means Atlantis can start building forts early and often, making them an undesirable early-game target and setting them up for a research boom in year 2. The fact that you can effortlessly move into the water once you've run out of land indies to expand into just furthers your income lead. While the Angakok has gotten noticeably more expensive from Dom3 to Dom4 (350g -> 430g), the mages you'll be recruiting in droves have gotten cheaper (Tungalik: 130g -> 110g, Forgiving Father: 250g -> 190g), meaning that Dom4 Atlantis' upkeep will be even lower than it was in Dom3. Nice.
Those are the strengths, but let's talk about some of the more conspicuous weaknesses of Atlantis. The two major ones are a complete absence of meaningful ranged weaponry and poor protection in a heat domain. Seal Hunters each have a single harpoon they can lob at the enemy, and while those are kinda nifty, they're a far cry from the daunting crossbow- and longbow-heavy armies of the late era. If you do find yourself fighting against a ranged powerhouse, like LA Man, you're going to have to want to avoid major confrontations and/or fight defensively in your Cold-3 domain (which improves your medium infantry to heavy infantry-levels of protection and your heavy infantry to nigh-invulnerability) until you can research some of the necessary counters. If you find massable crossbow or longbow indies, you can plop a fort down there and churn plenty out, should that help level the playing field, or at least confuse enemy scripting. Furthermore, while the cold helps bolster your troops, the heat weakens their armor. There are work-arounds that I'll go into below, it can be tricky taking the fight to the likes of Mictlan or Abysia early on. It pays to pick your enemies carefully for your early wars as Atlantis. Troops and Commanders
Atlantis has land-fort recruitables and water-fort recruitables. As a general rule, the land units are the backbone of the nation and you will want them all the time for everything, while the the water units can mostly be ignored, with the big exception of the Forgiving Father. Let's go through them, starting with the land units.
Seal Hunters (10g, 6r): Chaff with a harpoon and a non-magical spear. They're good for eating lance strikes and those harpoons can be helpful in breaking up blobs of shieldless infantry formations (such as the units of Jomon and Marignon). Mostly you'll pass on these.
Snow Warrior (10g, 22r/26r): Your light infantry. Ice spears have better stats (+1 atk and def) and cost fewer resources than glaives, so go spears unless you know you'll need that +5 damage fighting against giants or heavy armor. These guys are your best source for getting lots of magical weapons on the field quickly and are good if you expect to suffer lots of losses where better armor/stats isn't going to help (lightning spam, giants, gifts from heaven spam). Good as shieldless light infantry go, but you should usually hold out for the better infantry.
Ice Warrior (13g, 37r): Your medium infantry, they possess the excellent ice aegis, making them truly tanky. These make a good default recruit if you don't need to specifically recruit counters for something. They also fight the best of all your units underwater because the don't suffer the underwater penalty for having a slashing or bludgeoning weapon, unlike your Ice Guards.
Ice Guards (16g, 39r/32r): Your heavy infantry. The guys with the swords are the best there is. The 3gp extra gets you much better stats, not to mention 15hp! The glaive guys lack that all important shield, and I find your sacred glaive unit, the arssartut, does the glaive thing better, so I rarely recruit them. This and the slightly cheaper Ice Warrior should be the mainstay of your army.
Mournful (30g, 14r): I just can't find the intended use for these guys. They have crap morale (9!), they aren't likely to hit much with those halberds (9 atk), and being size-3 means you only get two attacks/square instead of the three you get from your other units. Their resource cost is comparatively low, and they don't melt in the heat, but their gold cost is so high that I'd rather use underwater recruitables than these guys when fighting in hot dominion. They don't even have cold resistance! Skip these guys.
Arssartut (23g, 10r, cap-only, sacred): These guys are basically light infantry that don't melt, but with the elite stats typical of a nation's cap-only sacreds. Their glaives have a unique schtick where they permanently reduce enemy strength by 2 per hit, but 1) most things aren't going to survive more than two whacks with a glaive anyway and 2) the effect is MR-resist so it's not likely to scare the stuff that would live long enough to care (immortals, pretenders, big summons). However, they ARE sacred and LA Atlantis wanted a decent bless for its sacred commanders anyway, so you will recruit as many of them as you can each and every turn. While the Arssartut may lack the flair of some other sacreds (e.g. Pangaea's awe, Caelum's ranged attack, Midgard's glamour), it has solid stats on an excellent chassis for a low gold and resource cost, with a laughably tiny upkeep.
While I'll talk about good blesses for these guys in the upcoming Bless section, I want to stress here that well-blessed arssartuts can really speed up Atlantis' early expansion while staying relevant throughout the game. With their low (for Atlantis) resource cost, they are the only elite unit you can mass at the start of the game. With a solid bless to bolster them, they will cut indies to ribbons while suffering few, if any losses, all while costing very little to recruit and maintain. This double income boost (rapid expansion and cheap expansion parties) will let Atlantis get those additional forts up all the sooner, which in turn allows you to recruit more mages AND more non-sacred elite infantry. In this way a good bless can translate into a big income boost (possibly bigger than if you'd spent those points on good scales). And unlike the scales, you also have superior sacreds and a high-magic pretender to benefit from. These guys may not look like anything special, but they're just the right sacred for LA Atlantis; use them well and your Atlantis will be leaner, meaner, bigger, and richer as a result.
Tent Owner (25g): Your scout, noteworthy because it can actually lead 10 units around. They won't do this often (you don't have any stealthy troops for them to lead, after all), but they can be helpful picking up routed stragglers or raiding low-PD provinces. Also noteworthy because they possess amphibian and lack the forest and mountain survival traits common to most scouts. If you ever lack the funds or ability to recruit more important commanders from your forts (or are trying to save money for something big by not recruiting expensive commanders), churning out tent owners is a good idea. You can always use more scouts, and these scouts are Atlantians so they're helpful if you want to hand a magic bow to someone while also casting Darkness.
Snow Captain, Ice Captain (70g/110g): 80 and 120 leadership commanders. It's likely you won't recruit many, or any, of these but they're there to recruit the turn after the lab burns down if you really want to. Their solid leadership is nice to have but still not enough to make me want them. If only they could sail...
Tungalik (110g, W1D1H1): Your lab rats. These guys do everything and do it well, given their price. They research cheaply, lead troops well enough, bless themselves and a small group of sacreds, spam early spells like slime, frighten and dust-to-dust, spam late spells like frozen heart and ghost grip. Hand them a water bracelet and they can spam numbness, quickness, cleansing water, and ice strike. And they can thug surprisingly well given their cost, but I'll cover that more in the Thug section.
Angakok (430g, W3D2H2 + 1.1xWEDA, Sailing, cap-only, StR): "430 gold?! That's more than a temple!", I hear you say. It's true, these guys ain't cheap, but when a unit can do everything, you pay for that versatility. After you get a little ways into year-1 you should have enough money to afford these big guys and you will never stop recruiting them, and yet you'll never have enough of 'em. D3s cast Darkness (with a skull staff or a crystal matrix) and the various death-based evocations. W4s cast the big water evocations and fun things like Grip of Winter. A1s can, with a crystal matrix, cast Wind Guide, Mass Flight, or even Fog Warriors, but they'll mainly bring you Wailing Winds and Wind of Death. E1s can thug with less equipment and forge some useful Earth-Death items. Though they can cast big earth buffs with a crystal matrix, you'll usually want to leave that to the earth-random Forgiving Fathers instead.
The water troops carry coral weapons and wear coral armor. They don't have cold resistance and most aren't Map Move-2, but they're otherwise the same as their land-based counterparts, stat-wise.
Three Flavors of Atlantian Infantry (10g, 3r/9r/12r): Light infantry with a coral spear and either a shield, poison-barbed armor, or both. The 3 resource guys are very massable, in case you needed another 50 warm bodies RIGHT NOW. The 12 resource guys do make reasonable filler troops for fighting in hot dominion and their poison barbs and poison spears can cause problems for certain opponents. You might not use these guys much, but they're nice to have on the roster just in case.
Unsleeping (40g, 26r): size-3 heavy infantry with superior stats, most notably morale and magic resistance. Also noteworthy because they have void sanity. Unlike the Mournful, these guys don't fail at life, but I do find them hard to get excited about given their extreme gold cost. If you are fighting LA R'lyeh then their niche is clear. If not, I'd only bring them out if I really needed some heavy hitters who don't mind heat scales or needed someone to block size-3 tramplers (because again, forget Mournful).
Shambler Chief (55g): You'll recruit this guy if you really need someone to round up strays or need someone unimportant to hold a spellcasting item underwater (e.g. skull talisman). And you'll resent it because they cost 55gp when you'd rather pay 40g for an Ichtyid Lord or Merman commander.
Unsleeping Consort (120g, H1): A sacred commander with good MR and void sanity. In theory, this guy could be thugged out, but I find it hard to recruit them for that purpose because the Tungaliks do that well enough, and you're recruiting them as lab rats anyway. Unsleeping Consorts might be useful leading units against LA R'lyeh, and you can hand one an Amulet of Giants to confuse enemies scripted to attack monsters that are meant to kill off your size-4 Angakoks. Rarely used, but they have their niches.
Merciful Mother (100g, H2): Useful if you are needing to step up your banishment spam, or really need someone unimportant to pray up some candles in some remote temples. They do have nice MR and void sanity, but they're not really an important unit.
Forgiving Father (190g, W2S1 + 1xFWES): This guy is the reason you build forts underwater. He is crucial to Atlantis for opening up a huge swath of forging and combat magic options. They make excellent communion slaves and masters (slaves because of their robustness, masters because of their paths). E1s forge crystal items (once you procure a pair of earth boots somehow) and can drop earth buffs with some communion support. W3s drop the endless water evocations your Angakoks are too busy to cast and forge the water items your Angakoks are too busy to forge. S2s forge some nice astral items (starshine skullcap, herald lance, crown of command) and can be equipped for teleporting and/or gateway casting (more on that in the tips and tricks section). The F1s are a real treat. They forge all the sundry F1 items (dragon helms, lightless lanterns, scepters of authority), summon all the grean lions with Manifest Vitriol, and cast all those delightful acid spells. With a little communion backup and a water booster, these guys can drop Acid Rain to seriously ruin someone's day (or even Acid Storm if you're doing a scorched earth battle). With some boosting, they can also spam Astral Fire. On top of everything else, all Forgiving Fathers have unusually high MR and void sanity and (since they're water mages) enough cold resistance to be comfortable in your Cold dominion. Magic and Research Goals
Atlantis' total magic diversity is W4D3S2F1E1A1. This includes the important cross-paths of Earth-Astral, Water-Death and Water-Fire. Water-Air and Astral-Fire are less important, but they have their uses too. The one path that's conspicuously missing, Nature, is the easiest to break in to with indie mages, should you find yourself needing messenger boots or whips of command. The lack of an E2 means you'll want to be aggressive trading for a pair of earth boots, or include earth on a non-imprisoned pretender.
Your research goal is Alteration 6, with a stop over to Construction 4 for, among other things, skull staffs and frost brands. There's lots of other goodies in other branches that you'll want, but Alteration 6 is the biggest prize. Alteration gets you: Stygian Skin, Body Ethereal, Liquid Body, Quickness and Quicken Self, Wolven Winter, Invulnerability, Drain Life, Fire Resistance, Soul Vortex, Darkness, Frozen Heart, Manifest Vitriol, Wave Warriors. This gives you thuggable Tungaliks, frozen-heart spam (making each Tungalik a dangerous elite-sniper), the ability to force cold weather on your enemies with Wolven Winter, three great troop buffs (quickness, wave warriors, and body ethereal), a very solid and economic summon (green lions), and Darkness. Darkness is excellent for Atlantis. As mentioned before, Atlantis wins melee fights but is lacking in ranged weaponry. Darkness tanks precision, making those flaming arrow volleys much less dangerous, and making that lightning or fireball spam much less effective. Furthermore, since all Atlantians have partial darkvision, your troops receive a smaller attack and defense penalty than almost everything else in the game. And in the math of Dominions melee, a -X penalty to attack and defense for the defender and a -X/2 penalty to attack and defense for the attacker is equal to a +X/2 bonus to the attacker's stats. Yes, darkness acts as a global buff to your already very dangerous melee combatants while neutering the enemy's ranged capabilities. Atlantis with Darkness wins, and wins hard, so you want to get access to Darkness as soon as is reasonably possible.
Other targets to reach when you can: Evocation 3 for Freezing Mist. Your troops ignore it and your enemies hate it. Castable by your A1 Angakoks. Evocation 4 for Acid Rain. Ruins enemy armor and is magical armor-piercing damage that is impossible to be resistant to. Your F1 Forgiving Fathers can cast this and it is seriously bad news. Just be sure to avoid friendly fire. Evocation 5 for Falling Frost. The gold standard of water-based bombardment. Your troops pretty much ignore it so friendly fire isn't an issue, and even a two-slave communion can spam falling frost ad nauseum. Evocation 5 for Shadow Blast. You've got powerful death mages, and this spell both scales nicely and hurts a ton. If your enemies show up expecting Darkness, you can switch your D3 Angakoks to casting this instead. Evocation 6 for Wailing Winds. Combos nicely with more fear spam. Your elite army has nice leadership and nice morale to begin with, but hand your main commander some combination of a horn of valor, crown of command, and a herald lance to boost this even further. Castable by your A1 Angakoks. Evocation 6 for Astral Fire. F1 Forgiving Fathers can cast this. 100 precision means it never misses, even in Darkness. Evocation 6 for Cleansing Water. Oh, you thought you'd negate my Darkness-spam by showing up with an army of demons and the undead? Drink this! Scales nicely and low fatigue means your mages can hose down swaths of the battlefield pretty much indefinitely.
Evocation 7 for Stygian Rain.
Check out this equation: (Giving all living units Invulnerability 15) + (Invulnerability is negated by magic weapons) + (All of your troops carry magic weapons) = only your troops gain Invulnerability = Atlantis really likes this spell. Evocation 7 for Wind of Death. Remember when I mentioned how Atlantians are basically immune to decay? Remind your enemy of that as everything makes repeated MR checks to get a condition that is only terminal to the enemy. Evocation 7 for Ice Strike. More AoE water spells with nice scaling and low fatigue. This one is nice if you're fighting an enemy that is also cold resistant because that doesn't protect against this spell. Evocation 7 for Acid Storm. Suddenly those resource 3 poison spear guys have a use. This spell destroys all armor on the battlefield and each turn baths swaths of it in acid. Friend and foe alike will suffer, but if you meet their expensive army with your army of poisonous chaff then it's a win for you.
Conjuration 3 for Power of the Spheres. Nice buff for both the longevity of your communion slaves and for the potency of your scaling water evocations. Conjuration 3 for Summon Yetis. Your A1 Angakoks, especially with some water boosters, can summon these very effectively. Yetis are beefy ranged attackers (yes, those sticks and stones hit for 19 damage each) who aren't afraid of melee. Your troops don't mind their cold aura and they don't mind your water evocations. Conjuration 4 for Summon Lammashtas. Very potent battle-summons who will, sooner or later, turn on you. They survive because they have high invulnerability. Your troops have magic weapons, which makes their betrayal a short one. Conjuration 5 for Spirit Mastery. Gives you a ton of ethereal, cold-immune chaff that paralyzes enemies. Conjuration 5 for Ghost Grip. Your Tungaliks can now spam a nasty fatigue spell all battle long. Conjuration 5 for Voice of Tiamat. An efficient site searching spell. It's a good source of fire, air, and earth gems that are otherwise tricky to hunt for. Conjuration 5 for Contact Sea Trolls. If these guys weren't size-4, I wouldn't bother with 'em. However, they can act as efficient lightning rods for enemy evocations (mages like to target them but you can only fit one per square and they regenerate, so you don't particularly care) as well as confuse scripting meant to take out your Angakoks. Conjuration 5 for Summon Water Elemental. Water Elementals are nice. Ice elementals are nicer, and you get those in cold provinces. Add some trampling fodder to the battlefield. There are worse uses for the gem you get from a water lens. Conjuration 6 for Summon Ghosts. Stacking fear auras is very powerful. Combos nicely with Wailing Winds and the cold aura is a nice perk that your army is immune to. Conjuration 6 for Shark Attack. Wins underwater combats. If you don't already control the seas, this'll help. Conjuration 6 for Summon Monster Fish. An Atlantis-only spell. This REALLY wins underwater combat. Seriously, hit one of these with an MR boost (iron will, antimagic), body ethereal, and quickness and R'Lyeh will trouble you no more. Omnomnomnomnom Conjuration 7 for Summon Catoblepas. What's better than a giant, trampling, terrifying bull surrounded by a miasmic cloud? How about one that also shoots AoE-5 death beams from its eyes! Each and every one of your Angakoks can summon one of these and they make a mean ranged attacker that becomes a mean trampler once they run out of ammo. Toss on Quickness to double the ranged death and subsequent trampling efficiency. Best paired with undead and/or regenerating sacreds because of the poison cloud. Conjuration 7 for Living Water. Have your big water mages spam as needed. Effective on land and underwater, in heat and cold domain.
Enchantment 3 for Strength of Giants. You need a communion or some boosters to reach this but it makes your infantry finish battles that much faster. Acts as a double boost for Yetis as it increases both their sticks and stone range and damage. Enchantment 4 for Behemoth. A fine trampler, a fine evocation distraction, and a fine large monster to confuse Angakok-targeting scripts. Add body ethereal and quickness for enhanced performance. Enchantment 4 for Antimagic. Makes the Atlantian infantry march that much more unstoppable. You should try and cast this at almost every battle against mage-supported armies. Enchantment 5 for Pale Riders. No one expects Atlantians with cavalry. Bring them to a battle with Darkness and Antimagic and they'll be a real asset. Enchantment 5 for Send Tupilak. A remote assassination spell that is unique to LA Atlantis. It throws a flying, undead bear monster at the enemy. Not a staple, but it can make for a nice surprise against an enemy not expecting it. Enchantment 5 for Friendly Currents. Helps you win underwater battles. Enchantment 6 for Arrow Fend. Put a Crystal Matrix on an A1 Angakok to cast. Really ends the problem of crossbow and/or flaming arrow armies. Enchantment 6 for Ziz. Should you somehow get an air booster, you can cast this. These guys are great! Big, beefy, terrifying, with a very powerful cold aura, and a nice suite of resistances. Hard to cast but cheap for what you get. Enchantment 6 for Grip of Winter. The enemy freezes and passes out. You don't. You like this spell. Enchantment 6 for Rigor Mortis. Combine with Grip of Winter to make the enemy pass out faster. Also good if you have a large number of undead troops, or are going skele-spam. Enchantment 6 for Water Ward. A very nice and very easily-cast buff. Helps you win underwater battles... assuming you haven't already scared everything out of the water. Enchantment 6 for Hidden in Snow. Very expensive, but it gets you a bunch of very solid undead who like, wait for it, Darkness, Grip of Winter, Rigor Mortis and all those other spells you like to layer on the battlefield. Can get you some potentially powerful mages (each mage has a 50% chance of coming with E2, and a 12.5% chance of E3, along with varying amounts of water and death magic you're less excited about). Enchantment 7 for Mass Flight. If you can boost one of your A1s up to an A3 (with boosters an/or communion support), they can cast this spell and win you ALL THE BATTLES. This plus Darkness on turn-1 of combat has ruined many an enemy who was convinved they'd have 4+ rounds of my Atlantians plodding across open terrain, suffering flaming crossbows and intense evocation spam. Enchantment 7 for Carrion Reanimation. This solves Atlantis' problem with enemies hiding behind walls. Cast it on a province after a major battle or pop-killing calamity and you'll get a soulless commander leading 100 soulless of a random type (human, atlantian, or shambler, in normal or warrior forms). Collectively they provide 144 siege strength, almost the same as three gate cleavers, but at a cost of 10 death gems instead of 45 earth gems. The atlantian soulless, being stronger than human soulless, provide 169 siege strength, while the shamblers provide 225! They also make useful chaff that actually becomes dangerous once you cast Darkness and Antimagic, like you were going to anyway. Enchantment 7 for Gift of Health. Castable if you took an N9 pretender. This makes everything of yours much better at not dying, and it was already pretty good at it the start with.
Thaumaturgy 1 for Frighten, Dust to Dust, Desiccation, and Communion Master/Slave. Gives your big and little mages something to spam in early combats as well as unlocking those communions Atlantis benefits so much from. Thaumaturgy 2 for Scrying Pool. A cheap and useful scrying spell. Knowledge is power. Thaumaturgy 3 for Teleport. More on this in the tips and tricks section. Thaumaturgy 3 for Sailors Death. A very deadly spell that can't cause you friendly fire. Good Angakok and W3 Forgiving Father spam in the early-to-mid game. Thaumaturgy 4 for Terror. More fear effects to layer on to all your other fear effects. Thaumaturgy 4 for Curse of the Desert. Will fatigue out a large swath of the enemy. Scales nicely. Thaumaturgy 4 for Paralyze. A useful, infinite range, no-miss-chance attack for your Forgiving Fathers to spam from the back of the battlefield under Darkness. Thaumaturgy 5 for Gateway. More on this in the tips and tricks section. Thaumaturgy 5 for Soul Slay. Like paralyze but deadlier. Thaumaturgy 5 for Burden of Time. I mention this not because you should cast this, or that you can easily cast this (it's castable by 1-in-160 Angakoks, or if you somehow acquire a skullface), but if it is cast... you don't care. Nothing of yours is going to be reach old age until everything else living has turned to dust. Thaumaturgy 6 for Wither Bones. A major anti-undead spell. Thaumaturgy 7 Vengeful Water. A very powerful defensive spell that causes water elementals to randomly attempt assassinations against each enemy commander in your dominion. This will steadily empty your home turf of scouts/spies/assassins and give major headaches to enemies invading you. One of your W4s can cast this with an elemental staff, ring, and robe.
Pretenders, Scales, and Blesses When it comes to scales, Atlantis has a bit more wiggle room than most. Your forces are robust and cheap, so you don't need high income nor high production (resource costs mean you can't produce lots, but the steady trickle you CAN create is enough to exceed your losses, given how resilient your guys are). Sloth is a bad idea, but Production-0 or Production-1 is plenty. Nothing you can recruit is within two centuries of old age and you don't blood hunt, so death scales are an option. Drain is a bad idea given that Atlantis' research engine is driven by having lots and lots of 9 research lab rats, but if you have enough gold coming in from other scales, you don't necessarily need magic either (you'll just throw up more castles and churn out more Tungaliks). Your heroes are nothing game changing (a mounted W1D2H1 and an enormous H4) so you have no more incentive to take Turmoil-Luck or Order-Misfortune than any other nation. The only no-brainer is Cold-3: you want it as cold as possible as much as possible, and the extra 40 points are nice too. Of course, you want money and luck and magic, you just have the luxury of not needing them as much as most nations... which is handy if you have a more point-intensive pretender build in mind.
The safe bet for scales is Order-3, Misfortune-2, Production-1, Magic-1, Cold-3 (+2 scales) because you can't always count on luck but you can always count on Order. Season with extra Growth or Magic if you have additional positive scales to spend, or buy off that misfortune if you don't like having your capital pillaged by barbarians every so often and can't tolerate provinces occasionally declaring their independence.
Turmoil-3, Luck-3, Production-2, Death-2, Magic-1, Cold-3 (+0 scales) embraces crappy income and plays at the Luck roulette wheel each turn. The plus side is all that Cold and Death will mean anyone invading you will likely be starving (you have smallish armies and castles to supply you on the defensive). Production helps you churn out troops a bit faster so you can expand a bit faster to make up for lost income. This should get you a good smattering of gems from events, which is handy because Atlantis really likes earth, air, and fire gems, but isn't that great at searching for them.
Before we talk pretenders, let's talk blesses. Your cap-only sacreds are tough and cheap, so you will have a lot of them as the game progresses. While they probably aren't really worth a major bless all to themselves, any bless that improves your sacred mages as well, or is something you pick up as part of a magic diversity build, would be put to good use by these guys. Your main mages are sacred, which screams an Earth bless of some size. All of your mages can be passable thugs (and you can forge shrouds), which screams Nature bless. If you happen to pick up an N9 pretender, that has the nice side-effect of making your arssartuts VERY hard to kill (24hp + regen + armored size-2 sacreds FTW). Also, they'll be fighting underwater and that means coral weapons and that means poison, poison which you can out-regenerate with the right bless.
The bad news is that while Atlantis may have graduated to being a land nation, its pretender selection has not. Like all underwater nations, Atlantis has a really crappy selection of pretenders to choose from. Hopefully that'll change in the planned-but-distant UW Patches, but for now it's a collection of "meh" choices. The good news is that you don't need an awake, combat pretender for expansion, and the aforementioned flexibility concerning scales gives you lots of points to invest in what is available. The major three archetypes to look at are: awake or dormant research god, imprisoned major-bless-with-nice-scales god, or a dormant modest-bless-and-scales titan.
Here are some choice examples:
Awake Oracle (S9, Dom 6) with a net +4 scales. Early research boost. Can teleport to help in battles or claim thrones. Very nice scales.
Dormant Titan of the Sea (W9F1, Dom 7) with a net +4 scales. Has full slots. Can cast HUUUUGE frost, water, and acid spells. Very nice scales. The water bless makes your sacreds extra dangerous in melee, but it's not the earth or nature bless you'd really like.
Dormant Father of Winter (W5A4E4, Dom 7) with a net +4 scales. This guy also has full slots and offers some nice blesses and diversity. Earth gets you those earth boots you wanted. Air gets you the staff of storms to shut down ranged attackers and fliers (Atlantians can't fly or shoot stuff so neither can you!), plus air boosters so other mages can forge your winged boots. Earth and Air together get you fun stuff like the elemental staff and rain of stones. This makes for a very solid, middle-of-the-road build with solid scales to back you up economically.
Dormant Green Dragon (N9, Dom 7) with net +3 scales. Here's that nature bless you wanted. Makes your Arssartuts nigh-unkillable in melee, makes your Tungaliks more thuggable, and it makes Forgiving Fathers with shrouds VERY robust communion slaves. Plus, ya know, dragon.
Dormant Old Man of the Sea (F4W4A4E4S4, Dom 7) with a net +0 scales. The Old Man of the Sea is an easily overlooked rainbow titan. He's got sub-par slots but a cheaper-than-average price for new paths. This gives you an excellent suite of bonuses for your sacreds; both mages and infantry. Plus, this guy can cast and forge just about everything while being able to teleport and cloud trapeze wherever he's needed.
Imprisoned Monolith (N9S6E4, Dom 6) with a net +2 scales. The much sought after N9Ex bless while being capable of teleporting around. If you care about Rings of Sorcery and Wizardry, this'll get you those too.
Imprisoned Idol of Beasts (N9E4A4, Dom 8 ) with a net +3 scales. My personal favorite from a "enables thuggability" perspective (great bless + high dominion + good scales really lets you lean on those sacreds), which I'll talk more about that in the thug section. Has that nice earth-air combo I mentioned earlier, but since this guy is immoble he can't cast cloud trapeze so he's truly stationary. Sits at the optimal point for an N9Ex bless with good scales. If you pick this guy, plan to kill off your initial prophet and prophetize something that can cast Teleport or Cloud Trapeze to make throne claiming not completely suck. Thugs in LA Atlantis That W1D1H1 combo your Tungaliks have opens up something surprising. Namely Bless, Quicken Self, Liquid Form, and Stygian Skin. Collectively that gets you solid protection (vs non-magical weapons), half damage from all weapons (as well as a variety of spells), good attack and defense stats, resistance to afflictions, two attacks per round, and whatever your bless gives you. All you're really missing is regeneration, maybe some more survivability, and some reinvigoration... i.e. what you get from an N9Ex bless. Hand this Tungalik a frost brand and you have yourself a discount thug for 110 gold and 5 water gems; you just need to reach Alteration-4 and Construction-4. These guys are not tough and brave enough to stand alone in a square and suffer abuse, but if you put two or three in a square together they'll work very effectively. Two or three of them can clear PD and take down various raiding threats. I think they shine brightest mixed in with your melee troops; unlike other "lab rats with a frostbrand" they're tough enough to survive on the front line and when quickened they can really improve your line's damage output. Provided their gear isn't lost, you won't really care if they get afflicted or killed because you have literally dozens of identical replacements being recruited from every corner of your empire.
A gem-free way to improve your Tungalik thugs is to have a Forgiving Father follow them into battle. He's scripted to cast Body Ethereal, Quickness, Cheat Fate, and Luck. Now your Tungaliks are ethereal, lucky, ignore their first hit, and have 25 fewer points of fatigue from not having to each cast Quicken Self. If you just have a single Tungalik, he can stand in the same square as the Forgiving Father and they'll both receive the full suite of buffs.
Now, these guys are discount thugs, and it does show. That buff cycle puts them at uncomfortably high fatigue and their morale is only 11 (10 + bless). But they represent a powerful additional tool for Atlantis, and I honestly can't think of a better, cheaper chassis for a discount thug. By having a small stockpile of thug equipment sitting in your lab (three or so frost brands, optionally with matching dragon helmets, girdles, or messenger boots) you can open up an unexpected invasion route along an enemy's unprotected flank, dispatch event-spawned invaders (either from bad luck or from remote attack spells), toughen up the strength of your defenses by an order of magnitude, or make your invading front line much, much deadlier. And other than a small gem investment, none of this requires deviating from what you were doing already: you were still researching Alteration to reach Darkness and you were going to be recruiting gobs of Tungaliks regardless.
Unsleeping Consorts are actually a very solid chassis for thugging; that same N9Ex bless fits well on them. They have superior stats to a Tungalik (especially in terms of HP and Morale), and their worse encumbrance is mitigated by not needing to cast a trio of buff spells in advance. Two of them in the same square backed by that same buffing Forgiving Father will make for a scary square indeed. My chief complaint is that I rarely ever want to recruit these guys and they have no real purpose during peace. Still, they are skilled generals and can do a decent job leading from the front of a contingent of UW recruits and arssartuts who are invading provinces too hot for your ice-wearing soldiers to attack.
A Forgiving Father with a shroud of the battle saint is no slouch. They have lots of hp, high strength, naturally decent protection, and excellent magic resistance. The E1s can cast Stone or Iron Skin in place of Stygian Skin, and with an earth gem, they can also cast Earth Power to further improve their reinvigoration. The S2s can also make useful counter-thugs, but I'll get in to that more in the Tips and Tricks section.
Angakoks can be seriously scary. People tend to forget this, but Atlantis can recruit magically powerful giants, with all the stats and options that fact entails. It's just that they're so good at leading armies and laying down battlefield-wide spells that you rarely want to risk them alone. With D3 or a gem they can cast Invulnerability or Soul Vortex, the A1s can cast Mistform with a gem, and the E1s can cast Iron/Stone Skin and (with a gem) Earth Power. They are mighty and they can cast a wide range of buffs, enhancing their already amazing chassis. I like to give 1 or 2 of the E1s winged boots and assorted 5-gem items (2xfrostbrands, dragon helmet, girdle, etc.) then use them for cutting off enemy escape routes or disrupting enemy income/recruitment by attacking enemy forts.
Finally, remember that your E1 Angakoks can forge Shademail Haubergeon, so you can have stealthy thugs out there, waiting to surprise the hell out of an enemy (it's also nice, 0-encumbrance armor). I mean honestly, who expects a campaign of stealth attacks from Atlantis?! Make that first turn after the NAP ends memorable by having three or four big, scary goons de-cloak unexpectedly in the backfield while an armada of super-soldier frog people appear from over the horizon and invade the enemy's coastline. Again and again I want to call your attention to the large number of options Atlantis has available to it. It's unexpected tactics like these that make this more than just a nation of heavy infantry and water mages. Small Communions for Fun and Profit Atlantis has access to S1s, but they are both expensive (as communion slaves go), and a hassle to recruit early on: since they are recruited from a 6-turns-to-build underwater fort, your first Forgiving Fathers won't usually show up until Fall of Year 1. However, Atlantis has a very strong incentive to give a number of their mages that little boost you get from a two-or-four-slave communion. Namely, holy boosts (Angakoks casting Divine Blessing and Fanaticism), hard to reach battlefield-wide air spells (mist, wind guide, arrow fend, storm, mass flight, fog warriors), and allowing your nicely scaling water spells to be cast more times at even higher levels of nastiness.
With a Crystal Matrix handed to an Angakok that's late in your list of commanders, you can do a lot of fun turn-1 castings. For example, Forgiving Fathers one through four all cast Communion Slave, A1 Angakok w/crystal matrix casts Mass Flight, D3 Angakok casts Darkness, and your entire army of super-soldiers is set to Attack Archers or Attack Rear. They instantly jump the enemy, under darkness, and commence the beat downs before the enemy buff cycle has finished or the enemy communion has really gotten formed. At lower levels of research, just having two slaves and three or four high-Water masters spamming Falling Frost or Acid Rain will drop a ton of pain on your enemies despite being a six-mage communion. Unlike Arco or Ulm or other Late Age communion-heavy nations, Atlantis doesn't need 8 communion slaves and 8-12 communion masters to blanket a battlefield in pain.
But how to you keep your communion slaves alive? Well, you've got some options. First and foremost is that Forgiving Fathers have 20hp and at least W2. That means that they take surprisingly little fatigue from water spell spam AND when they do reach 200 fatigue, it takes a long time for them to actually die. Having a base 20hp means they are already less likely than human mages to get afflicted from the death-of-1000-cuts that is fatigue damage, but if you have a master cast Liquid Body then you'll rarely see afflictions at all. But for the full pain battery experience, hand those slaves shrouds of the battle saint when you have an N9 bless. 28hp, regenerating 3hp/turn, with both liquid body and regeneration reducing the chance of afflictions means they can suffer a LOT of fatigue damage. Finally, include a master casting of Power of the Spheres and you have a very stable, two- or four-slave communion. Tips and Tricks 1) Everyone hates Lemuria. Invading them is a pain in the ass: everything is ethereal so it takes forever to hit their ghostly legionaries while your troops are freezing to death in that cold dominion. And those ghosts can go underwater, allowing them to infest the seas too. If only there were a nation that didn't care about amphibious, ethereal enemies in a cold dominion... Atlantis kills Lemuria. Atlantians are the premier ghostbusters of the late age and you will carve your way easily through all that ectoplasm, all the way to that capital and its sweet, sweet 15 death gem income. And since everyone hates Lemuria and no one else wants to be the one to bite the bullet take 'em out, the rest of the world will cheer you on. Also, forget Banishment! Who wants to allow their enemy an MR-resist? With just Thaumaturgy-1, each and every Tungalik can spam Dust to Dust, doing no-save AoE-1, friendly-fire-free damage. Who ya gonna call? ATLANTIS!
2) Atlantis loves bows, they just hide it until they reach Construction 6. Hand out Bows of War and Banefire Crossbows (remember, Atlantians are highly resistant to Decay) to your non-mages, then have a W2 hit them with Quickness. Instant ranged presence. For added fun, give an Atlantian commander (such as those Tent Owner scouts you've got wandering around) a Dragon Helm and they'll have 100% darkvision. Toss in a communion-enabled Wind Guide and you're firing precision, ranged death under Darkness while your enemy's shots scatter harmlessly. Though expensive, the Ivory Bow (D3A1) can really confuse the enemy because units killed by those arrows rise up as soulless under your command. Vision's Foe does more than just cause eye loss because it's armor negating: no shield parry or protection score for you! Fun Fact: the Ethereal Crossbow can be fired underwater and will insta-kill anything that fails the MR-check. Roll up to a battle with a half-dozen quickened super archers and your enemy will see just how Atlantis does ranged superiority.
3) Starting on the coast and being at home in and out of the water, Atlantis tends to control a lot of coastal territory. As such, sailing is a real advantage to the nation's mobility. Heck, sometimes sailing enables you to travel faster than flight would, AND you can take any ol' recruit or summon along with you. But Atlantis is stuck with only the one sailing commander, their capstone mage, who's time is much too valuable to be used casually. Fortunately, if you have a pretender with at least N3A2 then you can forge Pocket Ships. I'm a big, big fan of mobility items, both for usage in war and during peace, and the Pocket Ship is an especially good one for Atlantis. Do you absolutely need those two support mages/communion slaves to tag along for the sea voyage? Hand 'em each a Pocket Ship and then have a scout that was hiding in the destination sail both of the ships back to your lab. Even just using them to more efficiently move troops recruited from remote land and UW forts over to your capital can be a big assist. Just note that the Pocket Ship can only carry size-4 units and only a total of 200 size points worth, in contrast to the "everything fits on my boat" skills of your Angakoks.
4) As mentioned before, Atlantis doesn't have nature access, but that shouldn't stop you from breaking into it. Bite the bullet and recruit a couple of dinky N1 indies and set them to site searching. Even if you never get access to N2 or above, those little indies will be able to forge some really helpful, 5-gem nature items that you'll absolutely want, such as: Messenger Boots: Makes moving your commanders around much faster and is beloved by mages and thugs alike for the reinvigoration-3. Boots of Longstriding: Sometimes you just need more movement speed to get commander A to destination B in time. I like to have one pair of these in my lab for when such occasions arise. Whip of Command: +100 Leadership is HUUUGE when you have a form of transport that can't easily be broken up across multiple commanders, such as Sailing or casting Gateway. Because of the morale penalty, you don't want to be holding the item when your troops enter a fight, but it's a great item for GETTING them adjacent to that fight. Toss on a Crown of Command and/or a Scepter of Authority for added troop-ferrying capacity. Also, it's the cheapest way to give a commander Awe, should that be of use. Snake Bladder Stick: If you're going heavy with a fear strategy then AoE poison is actually pretty nice. Why? Because poison dings the afflicted enemies every round, forcing them to morale checks each turn even if they weren't otherwise hurt. This plus Wailing Winds plus Ghosts or Terror or Cold/Death-induced starvation can get those brave invaders to really rethink some life choices. Quicken the wielder for double the fun. Works well with all those poison-immune undead you can summon and your N9-blessed sacreds can out-heal the weak poison. Horn of Valor: You've already got one big, bad Angakok leading your soldiers, laying down battlewide buffs, and sailing them across the seas. Give him one of these and those troops will fight all the braver. Especially useful for your ice sword-wielding Ice Guards because they'll be facing a lot of repel checks during their life, seeing as they have a length-2 weapon. As such, if you've got a lot of those (and you should) this'll actually improve your troops damage output a bit. Amulet of Giants: Got a regenerating thug? Increase its base hp by 50% and watch it regenerate harder. Need something that's size-3 stand as tall as your size-4 Angakoks so they aren't targeted by "Attack Large Enemy Monsters"? This'll do the trick. It also makes your pain batteries... ahem, I mean communion slaves, that much more resilient. Endless Bag of Wine: Assuming someone foolishly played Lemuria with Atlantis in the game, you will be invading them sooner or later (ideally sooner). And once you get away from your forts, your troops will quickly find they can't eat ectoplasm. These keep your ghostbusters fed on a never ending diet of liquid courage.
5) As mentioned previously, with a little gear, Forgiving Fathers can make respectable thugs. Keep a couple of sets of such gear handy along with some starshine skullcaps and suddenly all those S2 Forgiving Fathers become counter-thugs. Teleport-dropping a couple of geared-up FFs can prevent hit-and-run raiders from accomplishing the "run" part of their mission. Also, if you're encountering real thugs (giants, golems, A2 glamour dudes, etc.), keep a small assortment of counter-equipment ready in the lab and then tele-drop the perfect countermeasure on to your enemy. You can also forge the gear needed to make fully effective mind hunters (astral boosters, eye of the void, runesmasher) which people fully expect from Arco, but sometimes forget is a thing Atlantis can do. Nothing reminds a person faster than an expensively-kitted commander's head spontaneously exploding.
6) Despite how mobile and versatile Atlantis is, you don't fly, you don't have ubiquitous sailing commanders, and moving through water provinces is slow going, so you will sometimes find a corner of your empire under attack without an immediate way to respond to the threat. And since your troops, formidable though they are, take so many turns to mass, it can be hard to muster a response force from just a single, local fort. Don't worry though. Assuming you've been building forts throughout your lands like a good Atlantian then you can just Gateway an enormous force of butt-kickers from your capital to the nearest lab, and show everyone why they don't mess with Big Blue.
Since the beginning of the game you've been recruiting a full compliment of arssartuts in your capital, along with a steady trickle of ice warriors and ice guards. Any nearby forts have been making more of your elite-but-slow-to-mass infantry and you've had minor commanders moving too and fro, consolidating these forces into your capital all along. And you've had an S2 Forgiving Father stationed in your capital, as well as a starshine skullcap, a crystal coin, a whip of command and maybe a scepter of authority hanging out in your lab. So, like a coiled spring being released, you load your S2 up and have him Gateway the 135 mundane troops (plus up to 40 magical ones too) to your lab. You also have one other Forgiving Father teleport to the fort in question; the two of them will become your new communion slaves.
But who will lead these troops into battle? Well, if you have an air booster, you can have an A1 Angakok cloud trapeze into the fort, ready to pick up a skull staff and a crystal matrix and drop Divine Bless + Darkness on the battlefield and end this invasion quick. Alternatively, you can have any old Angakok use some Boots of Quickness or some Winged Boots to rush over to the fort. And if the fort is besieged? Well, those Gateway'd troops will slow that siege right down. Then you can hand that flying Angakok the Shademail Haubergeon you forged and have him sneak into the castle and lead his troops to victory. Contingency Plans: Because the Look on Your Enemies Face is Worth It.