Part 93: Ermor - Turns 1-3So, we had a Dominions 3 game that ended not terribly long ago that I got to take part in. The name of the game was Rock and a Hard Place, it was a scenario that was set up by Schneeble (now playing in this game). It was a Late Age game that was designed to pit a group of hero nations against the two thematic big bads of the late era, Ermor and Rlyeh. The map, as usual, was made by the wonderful Wolfsbane (thank you!).
The idea was fairly simple. Six to eight hero nations would be on a ring island stuck between a rock and a hard place (Rlyeh in the outer ring of ocean and Ermor in the central island). Schneeble recruited two players to control Ermor and Rlyeh, in this case Flavahbeast played Rlyeh, and I played Ermor. The player list went as follows:
Lilli as Ermor
Flavahbeast as R'lyeh
Feinne as C'tis
Slaan as Patala
Speleothing as Midgard
Korwin as Atlantis
legoman727 as Arcoscephale
Griffen as Bogarus
FragZzZ as Man
Crimsonwolf as Mictlan
The rules of the game were slightly more complex than just 2 v 8. A specific hero nation won when they had control of the largest number of capitals whenever Rlyeh and Ermor die (this includes other heros capitals). Evil nations won by controlling at least 4 of the heros capitals. At the time I was under the impression that evil nations achieved a joint victory when they controlled 4 of the heros capitals, but after a certain way into the game I was corrected and only one evil nation could win. At the time though Flavah and I were both working under the impression that evil win conditions were joint victory, so keep that in mind as the game progresses. The rules were to create a little bit of a prisoners dilemma incentive, so that if heroes started winning they had a reason to betray each other to try and grab as many caps as possible, and if evil started winning they had a reason to betray each other to grab capitals.
Since Im playing Ermor I start on the middle island. Ermor has the dominion effect of killing population incredibly quickly, as such I overtax at 200% on the first turn. My plan is realistically to overtax to 200% every province I take. This both nets me more gold in the short term, and will probably net me more gold in the long term due to the quick demise of the population. I will basically ignore unrest entirely because I wont have the commanders necessary to patrol away unrest, and Id rather use my troops to expand. Also the death by overtaxing at 200% nets me one extra benefit. As population dies the supplies in a province decrease, this means that fewer troops can be support. However, all of my guys are undead and therefore dont use supplies. This means other people have trouble invading lands with no population due to starving units, so I want as much population dead as soon as possible.
My starting commanders are a generic undead leader, an H1 priest, and my pretender god. One of the primary ways Ermor gets troop is to reanimate them with priests, so I actually prophetize my starting commander rather than my starting priest who already has holy levels. I tell A Closet of Skeletons to research, he is an immortal SC, and truthfully he could probably take a province blind this turn. However, Id prefer to be safe and with one less province than have a dead god and be out of the game entirely on turn 2. Additionally, I will need my god to do something in my capital next turn, so I have even more incentive to leave him here.
Here are his statistics though. I went with a Lich pretender. Ermor has a fairly limited selection of pretenders, most of them are undead, but of the choices available to me I would have selected only one of three, a lich queen, a lich, or a prince of death. The first two are immortal, which is a huge benefit, and the last one is not but is a higher quality SC than the other two, especially for how I plan on playing this game.
The lich queen is a unique pretender for LA Ermor, it is a mix of the master lich and lich with a few extras thrown on top. It has the highest starting dominion of all three (4), it starts with 4 in death magic rather than 3, it has the path cost equivalent to the master lich and much better combat stats (the weakness of the master lich), but it has worse stats than the lich and prince. Ultimately, I value the combat stats too highly, especially considering I have a lot of extra points to put into magic paths and dominion thanks to my scales. Therefore, I dont take a lich queen.
The prince of death has better combat statistics than the lich, slightly higher base dominion, and slightly higher path cost. The biggest assets relative to the lich are flying, +10 base fear, and no vulnerability to fire. However, it lacks one huge thing, and a few other small things when compared to the lich. The biggest thing is its not immortal. Ermor has the potential to create an incredibly top quality SC because of how many points they can invest in their god, and if I die I lose my most important tool. It means I have to be much more cautious with my pretender than I would prefer to be. It also isnt amphibious, which will be a nice tool for crossing through the lake surrounding my island, and the lich is lifeless making it immune to a few spells. These arent a big deal considering the prince has flying, but theyre nice bonuses. So I settle for the Lich for the safety of immortality.
In terms of paths, I went with stuff that could help me in early game and mid game. D5 is immediately useful (and necessary) for giving my lich fear+0, which will help with expansion immensely. Additionally it gives me the ability to summon any death summon in the game. The earth gives me access to hammers and cyclops summons, fire lets me summon zmey, and astral gives me rings. Additionally, earth 4 and fire 4 both boost my stats slightly, earth gives me an extra 4 protection and the fire gives me an extra 4 attack, so that will make surviving and hitting things slightly easier. Additionally, astral gives me nice access to self buffs for combat, if I ever get the research for them.
These are the god names of all the other players. You can see the return of Secular Humanism down in the bottom from Flavahbeast, and everyone else is utterly uninteresting!
One of the things I mentioned about Ermor is that they have no national recruits. They dont recruit men, mages, or priests, they are all summoned or spawn. Luckily this means they need less gold, because it is dreadfully hard for Ermor to accumulate gold.
To make up for being unable to recruit commanders, they gain a large number of national spells that let them summon a variety of mages, commanders, and priests, along with some nice troop summons.
And in placement of gold, Ermor gets death gems as its currency. Their capital has a whopping 15 death gems a month, and theyll need every bit of it to summon those commanders.
As I said, I absolutely tanked my scales. The only two scales that Ermor really benefits from are luck and magic. Magic helps their limited quantity mages research faster, while luck gives them extra gems and periodic gold events. A positive scales build just isnt worth it for Ermor at all, they kill population far too quickly for it to be worth it for them.
From a strategic perspective, I plan on playing this game in a somewhat losing fashion. My hypothesis is that the hero nations will work together to try and kill Rlyeh and I. However, most of them dont have good underwater access, and therefore they will have trouble attacking Rlyeh in the early game. This means that I am expecting all of them to beeline for my middle island. To account for this, Schneeble made sure hero capital placement was at least two provinces from a port to my island. Therefore, I have a few turns of breathing room before people start swarming into my island.
My plan to deal with this is to rush for the connecting ports on my island. I plan to take the province and then build forts on each of the provinces. Forts do absolutely nothing to slow people down, and will be completely worthless to take once people invade because my dominion will kill all the people. However, people see a fort and they have to siege it. Therefore each of these forts is being used to buy me time. As heroes start swarming into the island to kill me, they will be hypnotized by my port forts and sit on them to siege them down. This has a twofold benefit for me. The first is I make them waste turns storming forts that dont do anything for them. The second is that each of those ports connect to two ports on the outer ring. If a heros army is sitting on that port connecting the outer ring to the inner ring, it means theyre blocking another player from moving in to help kill me, at least while the heros army is there. So not only does it buy me a few turns from the imminent invader, it buys me a few more turns from anyone else wanting to come in from behind them at the other port.
If players dont invade me quickly, I have the opportunity to backfill my provinces and send out raiding parties to ruin territory on the outer ring. My dominion will have a hard time spreading too far outside my island, so I cant kill lots of population on short notice outside, but I can overtax everything at 200% killing a handful of people and creating a lot of unrest for whoever takes it back.
In terms of Rlyeh, they have a fairly rough early game, and water expansion is incredibly slow due to its linear nature (no branching paths, all a linear route in how you can expand). To compensate for this Schneeble gave Rlyeh a second starting fort on the opposite edge of the map as their capital, with an intact temple, lab, and starting army.
Additionally, because Ermor doesnt have many things to spend gold on (forts and temples pretty much), I make a bid for one of the mercenary companies. I could make a bid that wont be beat just because I can contribute all of my 400 starting gold, but I dont really value the mercenaries that highly. I will be spending plenty of my money getting those early forts and temples set up.
I set my newly made prophet to reanimate. Ermor gets a lot of freespawn, but a good bit of it is kind of trash. Having priest to reanimate lets me create the higher value longdead horsemen or lictors. Lictors are much more survivable than the average undead, and have above average stats. They also have high strength and an awesome weapon so they hit like trucks. However, you dont get many of them, maybe 1 or 2 per turn reanimating with an H3. I personally value horsemen more because they have better mobility in battle and lances, but they are pretty much glass cannons with their 5 hp.
Here is what I needed A Closet of Skeletons to cast (and he is doing this turn). Dusk elders are the standard mage for LA ermor, they have D3 + 1(AEFWSD). Overall theyre decent mages, but its incredibly hard to mass them due to their large gem requirement. More importantly though, they have D3, which is enough to cast almost all of my base summons, which is what I really need them for because I dont want to keep A Closet of Skeletons here casting spells.
All the new men sitting in my garrison are the freespawn that people talk about with Ermor. The first four ghouls are units revived by my priest, the rest are all things that spawned from my dominion. As you can see I spawned 14 (its easier to get more than that) in a single turn at a single province. You can see how this would get unwieldly quickly if Ermor gains a decent amount of ground.
I send my H1 priest with my units off to conquer the nearest port. I want to start grabbing territory as fast as possible, and the H1 priest had less opportunity cost to using as a leader than my H3 prophet. Unfortunately, one of the things about my island is that almost all of it lacks a terrain type. This means that, since it is late age, the majority of it will be heavy cavalry, heavy infantry, and crossbows. None of which are particularly nice units. However I suck it up and deal because I dont mind attrition.
Additionally, one of the things very few people bother doing when playing LA Ermor is to position troops. Troop position increasing effectiveness dramatically, so if you want to do well in army battles is basically necessary. Its super tempting for players to just lump all their troops into a big group and throw them at enemies though because the micro is driving them insane, but I will be avoiding that.
I end up putting my expendable men up front to absorb the cavalry charge, my legionnaires with javelins are a bit further back so they have the opportunity to throw a javelin before entering melee, and I place my horse off to the side with attack rear orders to try and snipe their commanders. This is a fairly standard formation that I use for LA Ermor that Ill be using a lot this game. Ill also add a few other things into the mix as players start spamming banish at me with priests. Speaking of which, another thing this island is likely to have a ton of is priests because of the troop mix, so that will be another annoying thing to contend with during expansion.
I just wanted to point this out; I lost nearly 20% of my population on the first turn. About 4-5% of that could be explained by the overtaxing, death 3 scales, and reanimating ghouls. Ermors dominion kills population very, very rapidly.
I go ahead and take a look at the graphs to see who has an awake pretender. Both Patala and Ctis had turn 1 research, which means they have something awake. However, its less research than my pretender, so theyre probably awake SCs with minor magic paths.
In terms of provinces, Flavahbeast is the only one who expanded on turn 1, and I can assume he has an awake kraken. Ignoring the name of his god for a second, Flavahbeast is a huge proponent of committing all of his early game tools to expanding. Realistically, the only reliable turn 1 blind expander Rlyeh has access to is the kraken, so I would bet heavily on that being Flavahs pretender.
I end up taking the province with (heavy) casualties, but I took it! I then send the rest of the squad out to attack a province with a scouting report of 10 troops. The remainders likely cant take anything else (and they might actually just die to this too), but its all I can really use them for at this point. Either way Ill bring my priest back to my capital the following turn to ferry more troops. Also I got an event that added 10 pd to my capital, yay 35 pd!
This is the dusk elder I revived. Theyre actually amazing in terms of base stats, and they get decent paths. If Ermor actually had the paths or gems to forge some quick thug gear at con 0 I would try expanding with them, but as it stands I have neither the gems nor the time to forge stuff.
This is going to be a fairly common set up for the kind of battles I will have to fight on this island. Some heavy cavalry, a priest, and some dudes. Not very exciting, but also pretty deadly to my troops. I ended up losing 32 of my 48 units in this battle.
And this is the formation I was talking about. Expect to see a lot of this when I post a battle report.
Okay, thats enough for the intro turns. In future turns I will try to minimize the number of screen shots I take. This is supposed to be a bit of a side show, and I dont really want to post a huge clutter of screen shots in quick succession since Im completing this mini LP before posting it. After this Ill probably just post the strategic map and talk about things, and take an extra screen shot of either important battles or things I want to note.