In the Middle Age, the Warlocks have bred a new caste of half-human Abysians known as Humanbreds.
Abysia is a nation of lava people, demons, and half-breeds that love heat. They only have heavy infantry and heavier infantry for their national troops, but no archers or cavalry. All of them are completely immune to fire damage and have wasteland survival keeping them well fed where most other nations would starve and get diseased. They radiate heat which can start enemies on fire, which greatly helps against effects that disappear when the unit is damaged, like glamour. They have strong priests, fire, astral, and blood mages and can perform blood sacrifices to help spread their hot dominion. On the negative side, they're all also very young and age young, so old age is a problem for them, and most of them are very slow on both the map and battlefield. At first they seem very bland and straightforward, but once you start to play around with the blood magic and other spells they have more depth than you imagined at first.
- Humanbred (spear)
- Gold 15, Resources 10
- The Humanbred is comparable to other light infantry of other nations, with the exception that it's fire immune and a little bit tougher. They have a pretty good defense skill and a spear for repelling. The spear isn't as strong as the axe, but I prefer this one because it's a little more survivable. The main advantage these guys have over other Abysian units is it's move is 2, so they make good bodyguards to mages and don't slow them down.
- Humanbred (axe)
- Gold 15, Resources 10
- Nearly identical to the Humanbred with the spear, except it has a lower defense skill and carries an axe that does more damage than a spear. Not a bad unit at all. Also has a movement of 2, and may make a better bodyguard than the one with the spear.
- Abysian Infantry (battleaxe)
- Gold 20, Resources 26
- This Abysian Infantry is a powerful force. They don't carry a shield, but instead carry a heavy battleaxe. They're very similar to the Abysian Infantry with the flail, but have a higher defense skill and the weapon does more damage, and as such it's superior for the same price. I like to keep these guys out of arrow fire and put them on attack rear to flank the enemies front lines.
- Abysian Infantry (flail)
- Gold 20, Resources 26
- These guys are nearly identical to the battle axe infantry, but are armed with a flail which gets two attacks at a reduced damage and a lower defense skill. I don't think they're worth it when you could recruit the battle axe users, but I have a feeling that there's a certain defense/protection point where one will do better than the other. Not worth splitting hairs over though, you could go either way and probably won't notice much of a difference.
- Abysian Infantry (shield and axe)
- Gold 20, Resources 27
- This one carries a shield, which automatically earns it a place at the front of the army. They're high protection and hit points and moderate defense skill makes it an all around good heavy infantry. Additionally, it has a higher defense skill than it's counterpart with the morningstar and the axe is more powerful. It's a slightly better unit.
- Abysian Infantry (shield and morningstar
- Gold 20, Resources 28
- This unit is about the same as the one with the axe, except it has a higher attack skill. Generally, though, I don't choose this infantry to kill, but rather to hold the enemy in place and let units better at killing to handle that, so I almost always choose the one with the axe. But, again, we're splitting hairs as they're really similar and the difference is negligible.
- Gold 60, Resources 1
- The Salamander is a magic creature, so ordinary commanders can't lead them, which is a negative. Their stats are also pretty bad overall, and they die easily to normal troops if you don't shield them with your heavy infantry. But, their attack effects a whole square and does 20 armor piercing damage, so they do take down tough enemies quickly. Also, with Abysia, you're bound to run into times when you have an odd number of resources left, and filling the rest out with these guys isn't a bad idea if you can afford it as their cost adds up quickly.
- Lava Warrior
- Gold 55, Resources 41
- These are the best unit Abysia has. Their defense skill is abysmally low and their encumbrance is ridiculously high, but they're still worth it. First, they're sacred and they get two attacks with morningstars so any boosts to their attack, strength, or weapon damage counts twice. Their hit points are high and their protection is high so they can take a hit or two, or more, from most units. On top of that, they're berserkers. What happens in battle is they're sure to get hit by most attacks for little damage, and when they do they go berserk boosting their strength and attack to the point where they rarely miss and do high damage against even high protection units. There are very few units that can stand toe-to-toe with these guys and come out on top. One thing, though, if you plan on using them at all, make sure your pretender has at least Earth 4 and make sure they're blessed or they'll get fatigued really quickly.
- Gold 80, Resources 10
- The slayer is a pretty good assassin, not the best by any means though. They have poison daggers, so if they hit the target just once the target is done for even if he kills the Slayer. Later, I like to give them a Heart Finder Sword to make sure the job gets done right. They're not invincible and tend to be spotty. I've seen them take out a Trog Chieftain one turn and lose to an indy commander the next, but they're effective enough for the price where you don't want to ignore them as useless.
- Gold 60, Resources 38
- The Warlord is a standard commander. It has 2 map movement and a leadership of 80. They're tough enough to wade into battle on the front lines, and with a few minor magic items they fare well.
- Beast Trainer
- Gold 75, Resources 41
- The Beast Trainer can lead up to 10 magical troops and 10 regular troops, meaning it can lead Salamanders or summons, but other than that there's no reason to recruit them. Avoid them if you can get afford a mage instead.
- Anathement Salamander
- Gold 160, Resources 1
- 2F 2H:
- I generally don't use these guys much except to lead Salamander groups, casting Augury, and to do blood sacrifices. They can cast a few useful combat spells, like Fireball, Rage, and Bonds of Fire. They're inferior in every way to the Anathement Dragon, but substantially cheaper. They start out with old age, though.
- Anathement Dragon
- Gold 320, Resources 1
- 1R 3F 3H:
- This is a great unit, and makes a good prophet. They can cast Divine Blessing, which will bless everyone on the battlefield. They can also cast Flare, Falling Fires, Smite, Fire Cloud, and later Pillar of Fire which are excellent spells. If you make it a point to recruit a lot of cheap indy archers, you can cast Flame Arrows easily and the Abysian only spell Inner Furnace which increases the range of the radiant heat of all Abysians, and coming up with the fire gems to do that should be easy. They can also do blood sacrifices and preach to high levels of dominion. They also have a high leadership so they make good army commanders if you give them a few bodyguards. It's a good unit that you can recruit from any castle you own. Again, it's old age here.
- Warlock Apprentice
- Gold 130, Resources 1
- 1S 2B:
- I don't really find much use for these guys on the battlefield besides spamming Body Ethereal. They're capital only, so it's difficult to get them to where you need them quickly, so they don't find much use in my armies. However, they have a lot of uses on the map screen. They make good blood hunters and can forge a few useful items, like the Boots of Youth and Sanguine Dowsing Rod and a handful of astral items. You can even use them to set up Communions or Sabbaths which is beneficial as the more effective blood spells cost a lot of fatigue. It's also another old age mage.
- Gold 270, Resources 1
- 2S 3B 1? (FESB 10%, FESB 100%, FESB 10%):
- This capital only mage is quite a bit more useful than the Apprentice, depending on the picks. A fire pick is probably the worst option as it doesn't add much. An astral pick is great as it allows you to cast Soul Slay and Teleport, both of which are great spells for these guys. An Earth pick is good as well as it lets you find some earth sites and eventually empower him at 30 gems to summon Demon Knights. A blood pick lets you use some good battlefield blood spells and a few summons. Other spells to note, no matter what the picks, are Mind Burn, Paralyze, and Agony. Following the pattern, this unit is also old age.
- Gold 260, Resources 1
- 2F 2B 2H:
- This is probably the best pure battle mage Abysia has. They don't have old age and live for hundreds of years so you'll probably see them until they die in battle. They have the unholy ability to reanimate the dead, so they're not a bad choice for prophet. They're sacred, so they benefit from whatever bless you've chosen. They fly as well, so they have fast movement on the map, which helps as they're capital only, and in the battlefield. Demonbreds can also lead magic beings and demons and have a high leadership overall. They can also summon Devils with no empowerment or items. If you gear them up fully they can make out as a makeshift thug that you probably shouldn't need, but works if you've got nothing else. However, they're a bit fragile. If you want to use them as a thug, script them to cast powerful spells and buffs, cast Reinvigorate or Leech last which will set their fatigue to zero, and attack rear and, as long as they don't get swarmed and you've geared them up properly, they should be OK.
- Abysia gets an Assassin hero and a Warlord hero.
- The Smouldercone
- 4 Fire Gems/month, enables recruitment of Warlock Apprentice, Warlock, Demonbred
- Temple of Consuming Flame
- 1 Fire Gem/month, enables recruitment of Lava Warrior
- Inner Furnace
- Battle spell that increases the radiant heat of all Abysians.
- Summon Spectral Infantry
- Gems 5 Death Gems
- Summons 5 ethereal Smoulderghosts.
- Summon Scorpion Man
- Gems 12 Earth Gems
- Summons a Sacred Scorpion Man.
- With Abysia, unless you're working on some kind of special tactic, I find that they're most effective placed as close to the enemy army as possible and not using hold and attack. Since you don't have any national archers there's no reason to try and avoid friendly fire and closing ground and getting your enemies infantry mixed in with yours exposes them to friendly fire and your radiant heat aura, so it only hurts them. I put my Humanbreds and Abysian Infantry with shields in the front to deal with arrow fire, and on the flanks the Lava Warriors and Abysian Infantry with no shields, putting some on attack rear to either flank the enemy and skip them outright and go for the archers in the back. After I start getting summons out there, or depending on who I'm fighting, I might change it up a little bit, but in general this seems to work really well. Just remember that if you're using indy troops to keep them away from your Abysians as they'll burn from the radiant heat like anyone else. This is especially why I don't use much blood magic in battles, and when I do I don't bring more slaves than what I need and blood hunt for more
- In general, good scales are a benefit to Abysia. Their units are expensive in both resources and gold so Order and Productivity are a must. Growth is good to keep your old mages healthy and your blood hunters from killing off the population. Misfortune is OK generally as the wide variety of gems from luck aren't really needed and the PD is enough to hold off random attacks. Obviously Heat 3 is optimal as it gives you more points and it's the best climate to fight in for your units. Magic is good because your mages are busy as is, but Drain can be helpful because it makes your units harder to banish.
- Blood Fountain, Imprisoned
- E6 D9 B5
- Dominion Strength- 6 Order- 2 Productivity- 2 Heat- 3 Misfortune- 2
- This pretender is probably best for small or medium maps, as it's designed specifically for the bless. It might work well on larger maps as you have access to Vampires Lords through it, but you'd probably run into problems with the Misfortune scale and no Growth scale. It's a good bless for Abysia over others because anything you meet that's resistant to fire is going to give you problems, and they probably got that resistance through equipment so the D9 bless will tear them apart and leave them with afflictions if they live. Alternately, you could go with a W9 bless which also works well as it gives your sacreds 4 attacks and an improved defense skill (which will still be abysmal), or a F9 bless if fire immunity isn't an issue to you. I think this is a happy medium, though.
- Scorpion King, Dormant
- F4 E4 B4
- Dominion Strength- 7 Order- 3 Productivity- 3 Heat- 3 Growth- 1 Misfortune- 1
- The Scorpion King makes a good SC with a few pieces of gear, but is missing a couple of equipment slots. Depending on your research choices, you might need one and with this pretender you'll get a decent one early enough, although against most armies Abysia has little problems defeating them with just national troops. The bless here is decent, and he can cast most of the better blood rituals, like Father Illearth and Summon Arch Devil, and forge some choice equipment, like the Hell Sword.
- Divine Glyph, Imprisoned
- F4 E4 S4 B4
- Dominion Strength- 8 Order- 3 Productivity- 3 Heat- 3 Growth- 2 Misfortune- 1 Magic- 1
- The Divine Glyph, though immobile, is a good pretender for Abysia. Like I said, they really don't need any early game help, but they do need a research boost so the magic scale is good for that. With Forging/Empowering the Divine Glyph can cast most of the important blood spells, and forge a lot of good equipment. In addition, he can teleport to the front lines if needed to summon troops where you need them or hang back and cast some of the better ritual spells blood and astral has to offer. It's a decent choice and cheap enough to free up points for scales, high dominion, and a good bless at the same time.
- No matter what pretender I'm using, my beginning game starts the same because, I feel, Abysia needs the scales badly and will probably have to at least have a dormant pretender to be effective. Anyway, your starting army is very strong and capable of taking out the provinces surrounding your capital alone 9 times out of 10. So do that, and just beware of Knights or Elephants as you'll probably take heavy losses from them. In the meantime, I usually recruit Warlocks (hoping for an earth pick) and an Anathement Dragon whom I make a prophet. In the meantime, set them to research and exclusively Lava Warriors and fill the rest of my resources out with Humanbreds and Salamanders, and maybe building temples and once the Lava Warriors are sufficient in number I use my prophet Anathement Dragon to lead them and join my starting army. Don't be afraid to use alchemy to turn your fire gems into gold if you need it to pay for your expensive mages or to set up a PD (21 is sufficient to take most random barbarian hordes and small armies), you get plenty of fire gems, probably more than you'll use in the early game. You should be expanding very quickly and when you have all of the surrounding area, take a moment to survey the land and look for farmlands, which makes both a good place to get gold and a good province to set up blood hunting, and a place to build a second fortress, preferably on a province that can get a lot of resources and you can recruit cheap indy archers from, even the more expensive ones like Longbowmen are OK because of your scales.
- General Order
- My usual research order is Evocation to 2 for Flare and Arcane Probing, and a handful of other fire spells to use. Then I move on to Thaumaturgy 2 for other site searching spells which are useful later, and Mind Burn and Bonds of Fire which are both decent spells for taking out indy provinces. Finally, I move on to Blood 4 to summon Devils and Demon Knights. The Devils are good fliers and can be ferried quickly by a Demonbred, as can the Demon Knights if the terrain type agrees with them. Demon Knights are too good to pass up though, and can be boosted in power by casting Blood Lust which also comes at 4, so I make massing them a high priority.
- After that, it depends on what pretender I'm using. If it's the Scorpion King, I'd pick Alteration to 3 to give him some self-buffs and get Body Ethereal. If not, I usually take a pit stop at Evocation to 4 for Fireball, Fire Cloud, and Fires from Afar or Thaumaturgy to 4 for Rage, Soul Slay, Teleport, and Paralyze, and for a few other spells and concentrate on Construction to 6 to forge Boots of Youth as I'm sick of seeing my mages get diseased, and other good items along the way. Focusing on Enchantment wouldn't be a bad idea either, as you can cast Flame Arrows and Inner Furnace which helps you destroy enemy armies with ease, and Fire Shield is nice if you're using the Scorpion King or Demonbred thugs.
- Suggest Schools
- Conjuration: Normally this is a great school to at least put a few levels in, but in the case of Abysia who has easy access to blood magic summons I don't find it necessary unless you want to use your pretender to summon. The Summon X Power spells are good as always, so you might want to make a stop there to level 2 later in the game. At level 5 you can cast Acashic Record which is a great site search spell if not costly that some of your Warlocks will be able to cast. At level 8 there's the Summon Scorpion Man spell which is a national spell, but that means dredging through 6 levels and hundreds of research points for little gain. I don't recommend this school at all unless you have all of your major research goals covered.
- Alteration: You probably won't find much use for this school either, until you have some high level blood summons out. Body Ethereal at 3 and Luck at 4 are good for spamming on your Lava Warriors, and Combustion at 2 and later Incinerate at 5 and Conflagration at 8 are good single target damage spells for your Anathements, but probably outclassed by Mind Burn and Soul Slay from your Warlocks. Will of the Fates, at 8, is costly but interesting. I don't find much use for this school in general past a few levels for this nation, though.
- Evocation: Evocation is a great school for Abysia because of their fire immunity and the plentiful fire damage spells. Additionally, there are a few spells for dealing with magical and undead creatures here for your Astral Mages. I've mentioned a few already, but I want to call special attention to Fire Cloud. It casts a decent sized cloud of fire on the battlefield that your troops can pass through harmlessly but is deadly to your enemies, this spell is great to spam all over the battlefield. Beyond that, there's Falling Fires and Astral Geyser at 5, both of which are interesting and effective. At 6 you get Flame Eruption which is cool and may be able to cast Astral Fires, which is an improved version of Fire Cloud. At level 7 you can cast Flame Storm if you empower/equip yourself, and it works well with Flame Immunity. At 8 you get Pillar of Fire which is also a great spell, and at 9 you get Flames from the Sky which is like Fires from Afar but better, and you get Flame Storm which, again, is very useful to your fire immune troops. You really can't go wrong with Evocation at any stage of the game.
- Construction: There are a lot of useful items in here for you as blood magic has some of the best weapons in the game, and other items are particularly interesting. The spellcasting value, however, is low. It's worth taking to 6 early though just for the Boots of Youth as those will save you a lot of time and hassle dealing with old age.
- Enchantment: There are a few spells of particular use in this school, nothing too essential, so it's a medium priority school. Resist Magic, at 2, can help your demon units from being banished. Flame Arrows and Inner Furnace have already been mentioned and they are very useful and easy for your mages to cast. Dispel which comes at 5 with Inner Furnace has it's uses sometimes. Dome of Flaming Death, at 7, is a great spell if you're under attack from rituals. That's about it from here, though.
- Thaumaturgy: There's not much here that hasn't already been mentioned. Prison of Fire, at 4, is a decent spell, especially against Barbarians who can tear through your units. Gateway at 5, which is currently bugged, will work well for getting your Lava Warriors to the front lines in large maps. Enslave Mind, at 6, can be a cool spell when it works. Hydrophobia, at level 8, is a good spell to open a battle with. Past Soul Slay at 5 there's little reason to put much into this school until your other goals are met in my opinion.
- Blood Magic: This is a great school for Abysia simply for the summons, who are often fire immune too. Unlike other schools you can mass blood slaves quickly, so it may seem like the spells cost a lot of "gems" but it's not uncommon to get dozens of them per turn depending on how many hunters you have. Additionally, instead of ferrying gems to far away commanders, they can use the blood hunt command to get their own slaves from whatever province they're in. I recommend this school highly if not to play around with it, because with most of the other nations it's difficult or impossible to use effectively. Anyway, the battle magic is usually powerful, but has drawbacks like needing a blood slave, high fatigue or effecting your own units as well, so it's not as easy to use as other schools. Additionally, the heat aura kills your slaves so it's a bit more difficult to use with Abysia, but in spite of all that often worth it. As mentioned, Devils and Demon Knights are both superb units, and Agony is a great battle spell and Reinvigoration helps your mages to keep casting. Sabbath Slave and Sabbath Master will help you later in the game when you want to cast high fatigue, high path battlefield spells. At level 6 Harm seems to work pretty well, Rejuvenate is a good spell if you haven't forged any Boots of Youth yet, and Infernal Disease is a great assassination spell that, if the Disease Demon doesn't kill the commander outright, time will. Level 7 is where the real fun comes in when you can summon Father Illearth who makes an excellent SC with some gear and Arch Devils which also make good SCs. Rush of Strength, at 8, is a good spell for battle. Summon Heliophagus brings a powerful bloodmage to your side, and The Looming Hell can be a lot of fun to play with and Life for a Life is a guaranteed kill for everything but the largest units. At level 9 you get Blood Vengeance which you really can't go wrong with casting and it makes your Demonbred thugs potent weapons. Infernal Prison is a cool spell that's also a guaranteed kill in most cases. All of the Infernal X spells summon large amounts of good units.
- Useful Magic Items
- Abysia is going to have problems forging a wide variety of items with it's limited but powerful paths, and the pretenders I've recommended really don't help with this, but I think the blood magic items make up for it and as the game progresses you may find some access to other paths through recruitment of indies.
- Lesser: The Scepter of Authority is a good item for commanders, as is the Just Man's Cross if you're fighting undead. You may be able to forge the Armor of Souls which gives Blood +1 and MR. The Dragon Helmet isn't bad for a Morale boost, and the Burning Pearl and Ring of the Warrior aren't bad for an attack skill boost, and the Pendant of Luck will be used throughout the game, and if you can forge it and find it useful, the Soul Contract is OK if you don't mind a horror mark.
- Greater: The Fire Bola and Wand of Wild Fire are upgrades for your commanders. The Heart Finder Sword is great for a lot of units, especially assassins. The Flambeau is a good weapon. The Charcoal Shield and Lucky Coin are both good for almost any unit. The Robe of Shadows is a good item for any unit as well. The Amulet of Antimagic and Spell Focus are both good for a lot of units. The Sanguine Dowsing Rod will assist your blood hunters, but gather more slaves increases unrest faster so I don't find it absolutely necessary. The Heart of Life gives huge reinvigoration too, and the Brazen Vessel and Blood Stone are good for Blood +1 with the latter producing an Earth gem every month.
- Very Powerful: The best item on this list is the Boots of Youth, which stop aging and stop you from getting afflictions. I recommend these to all of your important mages that get picks you want, and eventually everyone. I'd start with the ones summoning the Demon Knights and go from there. Other items include the Blood Thorn, valuable for SCs as it gives lifedrain and the use of a shield and blood mages alike. The Hellsword also gives lifedrain at the expense of a shield. The Moon Blade is good against magic beings. The Shield of Gleaming gold gives awe and a big bonus to defense. Red Dragon Mail is decent armor for lack of anything better. The Starshine Skullcap is very important as it'll give any Warlock the ability to cast Teleport which will help get them out there on a big map, among other spells, and if you want you could teleport to a lab and take it off ready to give it to the next Warlock that needs it.