Part 252: Mechanics - Hinnom's Pretender Design
There are two big choices you make right out of the gates. First, which nation you want to play, and second, what kind of pretender (God) you want your nation to worship. In my first post I explained that I was playing giant manchildren who try to eat away the shame they feel knowing they drove their fathers away. I think that choice is pretty obvious. In this post, I'll talk about the God I chose for them to worship and about general considerations when choosing a pretender.
This is a game and games are about winning. So I'm going to choose the winningest pretender available. The pretender I chose has tremendous punching strength, is virtually invulnerable because of his tremendous size and has NO KNOWN WEAKNESSES. He's also royalty, so he's naturally better than you are.
Look at that badass! Hell yes, this is going to be awesome!
Back to the drawing board.
Everyone starts out with 350 points. From that you have to buy a pretender, give that pretender magic and influence (dominion which is, more or less, how serious your followers are about worshiping you) and either buy good "scales" or receive points for bad scales. Because your pretender is a god, belief in them influences the land. Scales reflect that influence, determining whether your land is bountiful and rich or poor and prone to sucking. Buying high levels of magic and dominion are expensive as each level costs an additional seven or eight points respectively (7/8 for the first, 14/16 for the second, 21/24 for the third, etc).
The default decision is "awake" meaning that you start with our pretender on turn one. You can get 150 extra points by taking your pretender asleep. Sleeping pretenders wake up and come into play right around turn 12 (+/- 2 or 3). If you need more points, you can imprison your pretender for 250 points. Imprisoned pretenders wake up around the end of the third year.
There are four main roles a pretender can play. Some pretenders can play more than one role, but because of point cost you're always going to be forced to make difficult choices.
Awake Supercombatant - this is a strong pretender that can aid early expansion and provide a significant deterrent to being rushed by another player. Rainbow Dash is a mediocre example of an awake SC. She's not quite strong enough without gear to really fit the bill, but she should really come into her own when she can gear up and buff herself using magic later on.
Rainbow - generally taken awake or asleep for an early research boost, the rainbow is a pretender that focuses on magical diversity, providing access to paths the nation lacks. Playing with Awesome Endgame makes this less necessary because you can get access to basically any path from summons in three different schools: death (wraith lords), nature (tarrasque) and water (kraken). A rainbow also provides a nice research boost early on for strategies that rely on getting key research early.
Bless - faith in a pretender is a powerful thing. Not only does it influence the land itself, but pretenders with powerful magic can provide blessings to their holy warriors. Each type of magic provides a different benefit. Blessings provide one type of benefit at level four (minor bless) which increases up to level ten and another type of benefit at level nine (major bless). Some nations have amazing sacred warriors who are worth spending lots of points to get a bless. Mictlan is a good example with their jaguar warriors and Lilli has discussed her major fire bless already. Generally, bless pretenders are taken asleep or imprisoned to maximize points available for the bless. Usually, bless nations don't need their pretenders awake because their sacreds are good enough to expand and defend against aggressive nations.
Scales - this pretender is all about getting the best income to build more forts, mages and troops. Generally, a scales pretender is taken asleep or imprisoned and is limited to a nation that an expand with unblessed troops and whose mages provide good diversity.
What does Hinnom need?
Hinnom has two options in my mind. They don't need an awake SC because they can recruit giants who are just as good or better than other nation's pretenders and can expand just fine with dawn guard, fat shetland ponies, avvite warriors, cavemans, rephaite warriors or Melqarts. They don't need a rainbow because they have level three access in fire, earth, astral and blood, level two access to air and nature and level one access to death. The only magic they're missing is water.
That leaves scales or a bless. Melqarts, Ba'als and Rephaite warriors are all sacred and a big bless on any of them will allow them to expand with little difficulty. A big bless will also help a lot later on because it will eliminate the need for some expensive kit. The standard bless for giant nations is earth 9, nature 4. That provides 5% regeneration, 4 reinvigoration a turn (which helps immensely with being fat and sweaty and tired when fighting) and additional protection (less of an isssue later on but quite helpful when expanding).
Scales will force me to expand with fat shetland pony chariots and that's the decision right there. Scales will also allow me to buy my very expensive forts and mages. Remember, a giant with four research points starts out at 125 gold for me. Compare that to Lilli's Mictlan whose four research points cost 60 gold (and are sacred so have significantly reduced upkeep).
I want a dominion of ten because I want the option of killing folks via blood sacrifice and because I want to be able to resist other folks doing the same to me. After that, I want the very best scales I can get. So, what do I choose?
For 25 points, I buy a Sphinx. In AwesomeGods this bad boy comes with one point of earth magic, three points of astral magic and four points of dominion. I bump dominion up to ten and earth magic up to four. Four in earth nets me a minor bless which provides two reinvigoration and helps my big giants stop being such sweaty messes. That's just a nice side benefit to my main goal here which is scales.
Plus, look how beefy he is! With a base of 500 hit points, when he's sitting in ten dominion you'd need a tactical nuke to even scratch him.
Then, as an added bonus (and a possible expansion strategy if you take him awake), he spawns around five dust warriors a turn and a mummy every other turn. Dust warriors are neat because they are immune to fire. That's the sort of thing that ends up being quite helpful later on when all the other undead are cold immune, plus, free pixel mans!
Imprisoning the Sphinx gives me an extra 250 points to spend on scales. Each level in a scale costs 40 points, so that's an extra eight levels. Each scale can be improved or worsened by up to three levels.
Here are the scales:
I take the following scales.
Order 3 - this is the income scale. Order 3 gives me a huge income bump to buy more giant mages and fat shetland ponis.
Productivity 1 - this is the armor scale. If you have guys with armor you can't really get sloth. If you don't, then sloth 3 is a no-brainer. This changes a bit in the CBM mod, but that was a silly decision so let's not talk about it. I take productivity 1 to help a bit buying fat pony chariots.
Heat 3 - my giants prefer heat 2 so bumping it up to three is a very minor hit to income.
Growth 3 - Melqarts and Ba'als eat people so I'm going to need my people to get busy all the time making new giant-snacks.
Luck 3 - this scale will provide me with lots of gems through positive random events. It can also provide big one time bumps to income. If I were going bless I would take misfortune 2 because Hinnom's province defense is great and can easily handle the barbarian attacks that misfortune 2 unlocks.
Magic 3 - this gives each of my mages +2 research and as such is absolutely huge for me. It changes my research from 31.25 gold/research point to 20.83 gold/research point. As a giant nation I think magic 1 (+1 research) is pretty important. You'll always be lagging in research with such expensive mages, but at least the one extra point of research will help a little.
Let's take a quick look at some of the pretenders who didn't make it and why.
The Shedu is pretty neat. It has a special ability that grants luck (a flat 50% chance to avoid any damage of any kind) to everyone it fights with. However, it has two things that make me avoid it. First, it has one point of astral. Because I'm going for a scales build, I don't want to spend the number of points it would cost to bump this up to something respectable. You should never take a low level of astral on a pretender you expect to be out fighting because there is a spell called magic duel that compares the astral level of the casting mage +d6 with the astral level of a mage on the other side of the battle +d6 and the lower number dies. If they're even they both die. Using a bunch of expendable low level astral mages to cast this spell is an extremely cheap () way to kill a pretender with levels of astral below six. The second issue with the Shedu is that it only comes with a base dominion score of three. Going from three dominion to ten dominion costs 196 points. Going from four to ten costs only 147. So I'd be paying an extra scale for a pretender that can fly around and grant luck to my armies but would be quite easy for anyone with astral access to kill.
The Monolith is a pretty popular pretender. It starts with dominion four but I would have had to go with a minor nature bless instead of a minor earth bless, and I personally dislike only a nature four bless (5% regeneration) because I find it's insufficient later on. You still have to give your supercombatants regeneration gear if you want them to live, so I'd be springing for at least nature six. The Sphinx also has the advantage of starting with three points of astral and the combination of astral and earth allows me to forge a crystal coin. Crystal coins provide +1 to the astral level of the wearer and I want them because with a crystal coin and a starshine skullcap (another +1 to the astral level of the wearer), a Ba'al with three points of astral can forge a ring of sorcery (+1 to blood, astral, death and nature levels of the wearer). Adding that ring of sorcery to the starshine skullcap allows the Ba'al to forge a ring of wizardry (+1 to all magic levels) and rings of wizardry are very good.
The last option is the Son of the Fallen. This guy is available only to Hinnom and he has the same disadvantages as the Shedu. He is also quite well endowed. I leave it to you to decide for yourself whether that is good or bad.