Part 20: Arco - Turn 2 and Oreiads
Right away, we see luck in action - a get a heap of free gold that's worth about 150% of my natural income! Unfortunately, what I want to spend it on won't work - I'd like to be hiring mercenaries right about now, but sadly none are available!
Thus, instead I set my army to move out north. It's full of Wolf Tribe barbarians - basically guys who like to pretend they're Robin Hood, but without the actually being particularly deadly. They should die in droves with minimal casualties, and thanks to my priestesses, I know the province has a decent income - making it a good first target.
Unfortunately, other areas aren't quite so lucky! The southeast is stuffed with cavalry - I won't be attacking that for a while. East is full of barbarians, who will be fine if I can fill them with arrows in time.
Also of good note, no enemy dominion candles yet! A very good sign.
The important part here is pointing out the exact scouting reports - my scout is confabulating it some, but typically I would see 'The Priestesses have scryed upon our enemies. This province contains X, Y, and Z'; additionally, friendly Dominion gives you access to the population & income counts. That is one of the great things about a high starting Dominion early on - it lets you know what the most important targets are.
For recruitment, I grab a heap of Peltasts - right now I'm somewhat limited in recruitment by my resource total, but that's fine; I'm not ready for a second expansion army yet. When I am, it will be made of Peltasts & Slingers.
Now, right here a common mistake is avoided - since I know that I won't be using the units for a while, and my chief concern is to use all my resources, I recruit Peltasts instead of Slingers. I could get way more Slingers, but because units in Dom3 have upkeep, the net result would be paying extra cash for them to sit at home and do nothing. Now, it isn't as if I save a lot of money, but early on even 10-15 extra gold can be the difference between recruiting a weak mage or a strong mage.
The unit on the left? That is an Oreiad.
Oreiades are Arco's primary capital only mage. In total, Arco has 5 capital-only commanders; in order, starting with the guy in the white robes, they are Philosophers, Engineers, Mage-Engineers, Oreiades, and Wind Lords.
Philosophers are great for a cheap early game researcher.
Engineers and Mage Engineers come with a very, very big bonus towards sieging of defending fortifications. This would actually be desirable if they weren't also capital only. Because they are, you almost never recruit them. They are old, they move slowly, and Oreiades are way better.
The Wind Lord is what Phaistos was. Sacred, low encumbrance, and with 17 defense and protection, these guys are really really tanky for the early age.
They also cost an arm and a leg, have no magic, and I'm not doing a bless strategy; thus, I don't see myself ever recruiting one.
Thus, onto the Oreiades proper! First off, they cost lots and lots of gold - 400. Usually that's reserved for giant units or something similar; the one downside to Oreiades is their piss-poor hitpoint totals, which make them quite vulnerable to exploding to a single hit for such an expensive unit.
In exchange, though? They are sacred - that makes their upkeep costs far far easier to bear. They have built in awe, meaning enemies have to pass a morale check to hit. They're stealthy, so nobody knows where they are or how many I have. The goat is mountain survival, which lets them move across mountainous terrain with no movement penalty. Can be quite useful, but more niche.
The caduceus means they have recuperation. When a unit takes damage in Dom3, it has a chance to gain a permanent affliction - some sort of penalty like losing an eye, an arm, or being rendered mute. There's plenty more, but the nasty thing is that usually, you aren't getting rid of them. Recuperation is one of the few ways you can - units with this ability automatically heal over time. Thus, anything that doesn't kill the Oreiad but merely maims her won't last.
The meat indicates she generates supplies - this is a passive ability all nature mages possess. Units need supplies to eat; lack adequate amounts, they start to starve, causing them to become diseased.
And finally, the nude woman?
Seduction is an absolutely delightful skill. It's a check against an enemy commander's magic resist, and then his morale. If it succeeds, the Oreiad takes him to a neighboring province and he becomes mine forever. If it fails, she attempts to assassinate him.
There are a few caveats - it will only work if there's a friendly province to flee to, and out the gate Oreiads don't make particularly good assassins.
With a bit of research and a magic item or two, though, they can be an extremely potent surprise. Few things hurt as much as planning to invade a province, only to find the commander of half your army just got murdered and thus your front line infantry are gone, leaving your archers to be massacred.
Lastly, their magic : They are good air mages out the gate, have some earth, and really high nature, with a 100% chance of AWEN, and an additional 10% chance of the same 4. The water one isn't so desirable, but the others all have good uses. Air Oreiads become that much stronger as battlemages; I would go so far as to call air magic unequivocally the best path for battlemagic, because it is stuffed to the gills with really, really potent spells.
E2 Oreiads are able to access most of the best Earth spells, which complement some of the holes Air doesn't fill as well.
Nature has some decent buffs in it, but there aren't any spectacularly flashy spells that can kill and maim hordes of enemies at once. The real benefit to having 4 nature is out of combat uses - forging, casting giant spells, and so forth.
So, to sum that wall of text up : Oreiads cost a lot, but they are really, really good, because they are very versatile.