Early Age Arcoscephale - The Golden Era is an interesting nation with a lot of different options, and thankfully it's easier to play than to spell. It has access to high levels in most magic paths except death and blood through its national mages and forging items, multiple stealthy commanders, inexpensive researchers, powerful flying sacred troops, healing afflictions, scrying (which gives you scout reports in friendly dominion), and the tools necessary to go for a dominion kill. But, with so many options, it can be difficult to decide which is important and end up failing at them all.
On the downside Arco's best mages and combat units are quite expensive and/or resource intensive and capital-only, the cheap researchers have old age (they die off quite soon in the wrong dominion) and require sloth scales (which will slow down troop production even more), the heavy grounds troops are slow, and the Provincial Defense weak.
Playing Arco requires you to make painful contradictory choices right from the start in scales and recruitment. A minor bless strategy is viable, allowing you to take a few bad scales or even a dormant/imprisoned pretender.
Suggested Pretender Design
- F4 E5
- Dominion Strength: 7 Order:2 Productivity:1 Growth:2 Drain:2
This makes a decent pretender SC with high stats and all slots available. With Earth 5 his protection starts at 25 which is nothing to sneeze at, and gets an improved attack skill. The blessing on the sacred troops isn't too bad for a few reasons I'll get into when I mention them. All considered, it's a decent pretender. Research will be slow at the start.
Ghost King, Awake
- Dominion Strength: 8 Order:3 Sloth:3 Growth:2 Misfortune:1 Drain:2
I use this pretender for a specialized purpose: the Dominion Kill. In high dominion, the Ghost King generates ghosts, both of which are stealthy and amphibious and being awake helps generate more ghosts earlier. Death magic also has a lot of stealthy and amphibious summons and having an abundance of magic gems to alchemize will help you search for death sites remotely. Alternatively you could lower order or your dominion strength or magic paths to raise growth. It's a specialized and difficult strategy though, but worth mentioning for diversities sake.
Oracle or Forge Lord, Imprisoned
- F9 W4 E4 N4 S4 B4 (Oracle)
- F9 W9 E4 (Forge Lord)
- Dominion Strength: 6 Chaos:3 Sloth:3 Cold:3 Growth:3 Luck:1 Drain:2
This is a bless-strategy. The Oracle is a strong Rainbow pretender, while the Forge Lord's picks will give your sacreds double the attacks per round! The Sphinx with its 500 health is a strong alternative to the Oracle, but I prefer the 4 misc slots for magic items. The bad scales are admittedly pretty severe, but Arco has the means to compensate for this. What we are really looking at are super-buffed sacred units: flaming armor-piercing weapons, higher attack and defense skill, regeneration, reinvigoration, magic resistance, more health. In effect, every one of your Wind Riders becomes a flying thug once it is blessed, not to mention all priests, shamans and indy-sacreds. You also have a national sacred SC summons at Conj 5, the Sirrush dragons! It time, high Growth will grow your economy to offset the Chaos/Sloth, plus it keeps your many old-aged units alive longer. You are going to be seeing a higher rate of random events, so better that the tendency is lucky. Drain wont affect your research much, since your Philosophers get a bonus from Sloth, plus it gives your buffed sacreds even more magic resistance. You could go with Cold or Heat depending on who you think your opponents will be: your sacred units have re-invigoration so the temperature scale may affect your enemies worse than you.
The slinger is not a very good unit. They're the only real ranged unit available to Arco and are marginally effective against unarmored/light armor troops, however they are outclassed by most indy archers and thus should be completely replaced early in the game.
I like the Peltast. It doesn't have much armor to speak of which is pretty standard for light infantry, but can throw javelins before engaging in melee. They're cheap and pretty effective against light infantry.
Cardaces aren't bad either. They are slightly more armored than the Peltast at the expense of being able to use ranged attacks. They last a little longer but get chewed up quickly by heavier armies.
The Myrmidon is probably the best infantry available to Arco. They're heavily armored at 17 protection and can hold off all but the most powerful troops, like giants, and can absorb arrow fire well. On the downside they are painfully slow in battle and costly at 28 resources. So if you're going with the suggested Ghost King or Oracle don't plan on making too many of these. In the end Myrmidons work best as defensive blockers in tandem with the Wind Riders who form the offensive wing of your army.
I haven't found much, if any, use for Chariot Archers. They're very expensive in both gold and resources when compared to most other archers. You could maybe use them fire and flee and have a large chance of getting your army away intact, but at the cost of making an army to do that with these guys that's going to put a real hurt on an enemy, you could have raised an actual army that has a chance at conquering the province.
These are pretty good cavalry, another staple of my armies using Arco. They have good stats and trample, so they make short work of human sized and smaller enemies, especially when the army has routed and is fleeing. Just make sure to use hold and attack and put them a distance away or they're likely to charge the front lines and take heavy losses before they break and flee.
I don't like Icarids at all. They can fly, which is nice, but their stats are bad and frequently, even on hold and attack rear, they fly in and get slaughtered, even by archers, and rout and retreat. Plus their map movement is only 2 so that's even limiting their raiding ability. They're not worth the even moderate cost.
Icarids are automatically included in PD > 20.
Wind Riders are excellent. For starters they fly and have a map movement of 3 so they're not hard to get to where you need them without using gems. They have great stats, including both 17 in protection and defense skill, so they're survivors. Plus, they're sacred so they can be blessed to even higher stats and effects. They're an excellent addition to the army, but very expensive and cost a point of holy each so hard to mass in high numbers early in the game.
Scouts are a total waste of money. You get a superior effect with slightly more expensive Skeptics and the unique Scry property makes any effect from scouts irrelevant.
The Myrmidon Champion is a good commander. They're pretty tough and have a leadership value of 80 which lets them field large numbers of troops, and they have all the slots available for magic items if you choose to give them any. However they have map movement of 1.
This unit isn't so good. It's more expensive than the Myrmidon Champion and has a lower leadership rating and fewer slots. However, their map movement is 3, so if you plan on fielding a more mobile army made up of quicker troops, this is an alternative, however you'll probably find a better, cheaper indy commander that can produce a similar effect.
Capital only, this is a great unit and a good candidate for a prophet to increase it's hit points and give it a permanent bless, especially Earth to give it re-invigoration to keep it from getting fatigued too quickly. It has great starting protection and defense, and with a few magic items, like a kite shield and magic sword and pendant of luck, can be made into a great thug that can fly to the rear and take out the soft troops and commanders.
Biggest problem with WL is the capital only limitation, meaning you won't be able to summon an Orliad that turn. So alternatively give a Priestess a pair of Winged Boots as a commander, allowing her to both lead and bless your flying sacreds.
The Skeptic is the bread and butter of the dominion kill. They're stealthy and lower enemy dominion in the province they're in, and it appears that multiple skeptics lower dominion more quickly. You can even make them a prophet to both raise your dominion and lower enemy dominion even more quickly. I find it useful that when not in a hurry to attack, get as many of these in enemy territory as possible. Watch for old age though.
Philosophers are basically cheap, capital only researchers, making a tough choice between them and your cap-only Oreliads. They have a base research of 5 and get a +1 bonus for each level of Sloth scale in addition to the Magic scale bonus. So at Sloth 3 Magic 1 he would effectively be a lvl 9 researcher, which is quite a deal for only 60 gold! This comes at a cost however: the old age status on them can kill them quickly, so use with care and monitor them make sure that any research boosting items you have on them aren't lost if disease catches up with them. By mid-game you should phase these guys out and be making Oreliads instead.
There are ways around old age. Using a high Growth scale will extend their life a few extra years. Any item that bestows regeneration will slow down the effect of disease considerably. The only way to cure afflicted old-age units is the Chalice artifact or the global Gift of Health.
They assist you in castle sieges, however there's a superior mage version of them that can give spell support on the battlefield as well as sieges. So use mostly if you are strapped for cash. They also have old age.
If you do use them make sure to outfit them with a bow or wand.
First, this is the only unit with holy magic available as a national to Arco, so they're good for building temples at least. They have the ability to Heal on the strategic map, which is valuable for removing afflictions, and cast Sermon of Courage. I keep one of these with large armies at all times, they're valuable on the map and can cast a few useful spells, such as Tangle Vines, Protection, Elemental Fortitude, Swarm, and Heal.
If you are using a bless-strategy pretender, keeping a Priestess (as prophet or equipped with a Crystal Shield) stacked with your sacred units is a must, for the Divine Bless spell.
S1 ?2(FWES 100%, F 50%, W 50%, E 50%)
The mystic is a decent mage. They have a moderate chance at getting up to 4 different paths, but as low as 1, making them able site searchers, and the only unit available to Arco that guarantees a pick in Astral magic. They're not bad in battle and not bad for forging. They're good at spamming Body Ethereal for one, and have a few other useful combat spells depending on their picks.
Mystics give you the option to cast spell communions for some of the more fatiguing spells, if you have a lot of them. The ones with both Earth+Astral picks can summon a Sirrush dragon, your national summons spell (Conjuration 5). They also present the most likely candidates to forge Crystal Shields that will enable your Priestesses to cast Divine Bless in battle.
A1 E1 ?1(FAWES 100%)
These are good units, but capital only. First, they help with sieges considerably, so you can keep them around for just that. They also have quite a few useful combat spells depending on their picks, so they aren't too bad on the battlefield if not just to launch low level evocation spells.
Unfortunately, since they are likely going to be operating mostly in enemy dominion, old age will probably catch up with them soon. Keeping them stacked in a Growth scale might help, and regeneration also supposedly reduces the chance of getting battle afflictions. Your healers aren't going to be able to heal their old age.
A2 E1 N3 ?1(AWEN 100%, AWEN 10%)
This is a great unit, probably one of the best Arco has to offer. Being capital only can be a problem, but there are ways around that, such as Mountain Survival for increasing their map movement and the ability for every one recruited to cast Cloud Trapeze. It does, however mean making some painful choices between other useful capital-only units. They're also stealthy and have the Seduce command, which only rarely yields a seduction, and usually results in an assassination attempt. They can forge powerful items, cast powerful rituals and summons, and make good battle mages with access to spells like Lightning Bolt and Orb Lighting. They're costly at 400G, but worth it; they're great units all around.
Oreliads have both Recuperation and Awe ability which makes them very thuggable, even just using their spells. Standard scripting in combat can be Mistform/Mirror Image/Air Shield/Stoneskin/Resist Lightning/cast spells. The spell-casting AI will then have her cast Shockwave when enemies get too close. Quite effective for clearing chaff.
Arcosephale has some very good heroes that should prove quite useful.
Asterios, Monster in the Maze
Asterios is a monstrous halfman born from the meeting of a sacred bull and a priestess cursed by a vengeful pan. Asterios was hidden in the maze of Daidalos to hide his mother's shame. Asterios grew up to become a monster with enormous strength and resilience. He is almost invulnerable, and it is said that only his own horns can wound him. With the coming of the new God he has dared to leave his home and answer the call.
HP:40 Prot:20 Morale:14 MR:10 Enc:4 Str:27 Attk:10 Def:20 Prec:10 Move:2/15 Ldr:0, Trample, Berserker
Asterios makes a nice addition to your army if you are lucky enough to get him early. Outfitted with the right magic items he makes a fairly decent thug. If you are using a bless-strategy, give him a Shroud of the Battle Saint. Try and improve his attack rating or use AoE weapons, since he is likely to die while getting swarmed by smaller enemies. If you make him your prophet and he fights in friendly dominion with regeneration and ethereality, he can prove extremely tough to kill.
Daidalos, Maker of the Maze
Daidalos is a genius who crafts automatons and strange devices. His engineering skills earned him his place as head of the Lykeion. He perfected the winged harness, which he named after his unfortunate son, that the soldiers use in battle. He built the great Maze that protected Asterios during his early years. Daidalos is very good at crafting Mechanical Men and Clockwork Horrors.
F:1 A:1 W:1 E:3, Siege Engineer, Castle Defense Engineer, Forge Bonus (25), Old Age
Best used asap for his forge bonus together with a Dwarven Hammer, he should be kept in a high Growth scale territory outfitted with a Ring of Regeneration (or Shroud of the Battle Saint if you took a Nature bless) to extend the time he has before dying of old age afflictions. Better yet, use the global Gift of Health or forge the Chalice to keep him and all your other philosophers alive.
Pathos, Son of Titans
Pathos was born a long time ago. His mother was a human priestess, seduced by the God she served. The boy was hidden away in the temple to protect him from jealous Titans. When he reached maturity, he left the temple and has since traveled to distant lands. Now he has returned to his land of birth. Pathos' legacy makes him very strong and almost invulnerable.
HP:16 Prot:26 Morale:19 MR:15 Enc:7 Str:14 Attk:15 Def:8 Prec:10 Move:2/8 Ldr:120, Awe
Essentially an improved version of the Myrmidon Champion. He makes a great army leader. Have him lead your army of sacreds, and give him a Shroud of the Battle Saint so he gets the bless buff. You'll want to give him some items to improve his defense skill.
Orokestes, the Hierophant
Orokestes became a temple servant at the age of 5 and was castrated like all male servants of the temples. At the age of 15, he tried to perform the secret rights of Healing to restore his lost manhood. Orokestes was discovered and banished from the temple. He found his way to a cave of Mystics where he was initiated, but he soon grew tired of their cave and strange rituals. He left the Mystics to find other wise men. On this long search for knowledge, he learned much of magic, but he never found the means to heal himself. Finally he found his faith and became the Heirophant, or priestly leader, of a group of Mystics in the service of the Great Lord of Arcosephale.
F1 A1 W1 E1 S2 H2 Res:6 Sacred
Nice paths, he makes a great addition to battle magic as a Communion Master.
In first few turns I like to split Cardaces into two groups, and have a group of Peltasts and Slingers. I put the Cardaces and Peltasts into a line on the far right of the screen, to account for my short range, with the Peltasts in the middle and slightly farther back, and the Slingers behind them. It works well for taking out weaker indy provinces.
After I have a decent supply of Myrmidons, Chariots, and indy archers I change it a little bit. I put the Myrmidons in front, and groups of combined Peltasts and Cardaces on the flanks of the Myrmidons, slightly behind them to form what looks like an arrow so as to draw arrow fire on the Myrmidons. I put the archers behind them a ways. The chariots are scripted to hold and attack and are put behind everyone and off to a flank. The effect is good.
Ultimately bless or magic buffed Wind Riders should be used as the core of your attack squad. Depending on the effect you wish to create, either set them to hold and attack rear, so as to draw the enemy melee units forward before striking at their archers and commanders, or set them to immediately attack closest so as to create a diversion as your ground forces advance. Often the battle will be over by the time your ground units catch up.
Your PD is weak, but there is safety in numbers. So in key provinces, I like to garrison them with 30-50 PD and 1-2 mages as combat support. At 50 PD, you'll have about 150 assorted light units, including Icarids. To get the most out of them, it is imperative that your mages cast some magic buffs on them early on: Legions of Steel, Strength of Giants, Weapons of Sharpness, Quickness, Berserkers, Touch of Madness are all good spells. Mist (Evocation) or Arrow Fend (Enchantment) are good battlefield mass-effect spells.
Using the Cyclops SC pretender, the first order of business is to research to Construction 2. The reason is simple: To overcome the Drain scale, forge owl quills, and lots of them. Oreliads can do this regardless of their picks. Arco naturally gains Air gems, so by the time you're ready you should have more than enough to forge a few. Use mystics for research until you reach Construction 2 and make sure you recruit at least one Oreliad when your coffers are big enough, with Order: 2 gold shouldn't be much of an issue.
So, the first two turns are spent recruiting an army of slingers, cardaces, and peltasts. I like to wait two turns so any losses I take in the first battle won't require me to return to the starting province and restock my army, slowing you down more than waiting an extra turn, and to give me a chance to scry and plan my initial conquests. The first one I aim for is a province I think contains indy archers to replace the slingers or a high resource province, preferably one with both.
When you've conquered a mountain or forest province nearby, you probably have enough resources to start recruiting Myrmidons and Chariots en masse.
When you're at Construction 2, it's time to switch to Evocation and research that to 2 to get access to Lighting Bolt, a great spell for your Oreliads. Begin to recruit Philosophers and giving them an Owl quill so your mages can move onto more useful prospects. If you get a chance you could recruit a Wing Lord and make him a prophet and gear him up a bit. Also begin branching out to site search manually with a Mystic and an Oreliad; between them you should have nearly all of the paths covered so you only have to search once.
Your pretender should be awakening soon, so be prepared to give him a few magical items as well. Also, if you get a spare moment, forge bows for your army commanders. Recruit a Priestess or use your prophet to build temples. When you hit Evocation 2, it's time to switch to Construction to 4 to gear up your prophet thug and SC pretender with some respectable items and give him and others with lucky picks and a pair of Earth Boots access to Legions of Steel, a helpful spell in all respects.
By now you should have a very good idea of where the enemies are if you haven't already begun to fight them. I suggest finding a place near one of them to build a castle. From this castle you can increase your army size and send out Skeptics to slow them down and keep the dominion friendly, maybe even score a dominion kill eventually.
From here, it really depends on needs, playstyle, and the type of enemy you face. Below I'll outline which schools of magic have useful spells and useful items to help you to decide where to go from Construction 4.
The more difficult strategy, using the Ghost King pretender is very similar up to the Owl Quills, however it's slightly different after that. For one, you should be turtling up instead of expanding quickly. Your resources are low so you're army is weaker and you don't want to face the enemy toe to toe, however getting a dominion kill doesn't even require you to fight a single battle. Using all that extra money to stock up on PD isn't a bad idea to discourage the enemy from attacking you directly.
Next, Evocation 2 isn't as important as Conjuration 2. Dark Knowledge is important for finding death sites quickly, and you want a lot of death gems for summoning raiding parties to destroy enemy temples. Also moving onto Enchantment 3 instead of Construction 4 may be a good idea, as Seeking Arrow can destroy a preaching priest if you're having trouble pushing down enemy dominion.
The next thing that's different is setting up the second castle is imperative. The more skeptics you have out there, the better off you are, especially a skeptic prophet.
You should also make building temples a priority to help move your dominion outward. Use the preach command to build your dominion quickly whenever possible. It can be even more difficult to use this on a large map where your later enemies will be both powerful and their dominions well established.
This strategy centers on building armies with as many sacred units as you can muster, who are in turn blessed by a Priestess capable of casting Divine Bless. To this effect, recruit a Priestess on turn 1, and then make her into your prophet. On subsequent turns, recruit Philosophers. For troops, each turn make as many Wind Riders as your gold can afford, adding Myrmidons to soak up up the remaining resources. Don't worry about Oreliads till your Philosophers start showing afflictions (should happen after about 1 year). And you won't need Mystics till you are at Construction 4.
So basically by turn 3 you should already have your prophet scripted to cast Divine Bless and some Wind Riders ready to join up with your expansion army, with an indy commander to ferry in more Wind Riders as they become available. At this point your ground troops have done their job, now useful primarily to distract enemy arrow fire away from your Wind Riders, who will be doing the heavy killing. This is a job they do very well. Indy provinces fall easily, but you still probably will want to wait till you have 10-12 WR before attacking the really strong ones. Once you've consolidated the area directly adjacent to your starting city, try to get 1 or 2 expansion cities built before the serious fighting starts. Look for sites that allow you to create swarms of indy archers, both to enhance the attack power of your armies, but also to create siege armies large enough to break down enemy walls.
Magic paths are pretty straightforward: Evocation 2-3 for various useful Lightning-based spells just in case you get attacked early, Alteration 2-3 for some basic self buffs for the Oreliads, then Construction all the way to 4. This will allow you to manufacture the most necessary magic items plus gives you Legions of Steel to buff your weak PD, which your Oreliads can now be scripted to cast using Summon Earthpower and a pair of Earth Boots.
As far as magic items goes, you'll want a few Dwarven Hammers to begin (the hero Daidalos is quite useful for this since he has E3). Empower a Mystic having E+S picks to S2 and then forge a Crystal Coin. This will boost his Astral further to S3 so he can forge Crystal Shields. Equipping a non-prophet Priestess with a Crystal Shield allows her to cast Divine Bless in battle, so now you can use sacreds in more than 1 army. Other items of interest are Owl Quills, Earth Boots and Thistle Maces, Girdles of Strength, Shrouds of the Battle Saint, Robes of Missile Protection. Once your pretender is freed, you will have access to a lot more choices as well. Note that SotBS gives the wearer the bless buff even without a bless spell active. So for example, using the Forge Lord pretender magic picks, a normal Myrmidon commander wearing SotBS goes from Enc:10 Att:12 Def:13 to Enc:5 Att:16 Def:19! Quite a boost! With this simple trick, every Commander on the battlefield becomes a thug with an armor-piercing weapon!
Once you start fighting other nations, modify your magic research to address the situation. One should mention Conjuration 5, which will allow your Mystics to cast Summon Sirrush, a sacred Dragon with SC-like stats not to mention the buff it will get from the bless. I also like Flaming Arrows (Ench 4) and Wind Guide at (Alt 4) if I'm using archers or Mist (Evoc 3) and Storm (Evoc 5) if I'm not.
Suggested Magic Schools
As mentioned, taking Construction to 2 is a must. Evocation to 2, Enchantment to 3, Construction to 4, and Conjuration to 2 have also been mentioned. But what to decide next depends on what you're trying to accomplish and if your original strategy is a possibility, so here are some other useful spells:
The Summon X Power spells are pretty nice for bigger battle spell effects and available early. Summon Amphiptere isn't a bad spell available at 3, and at 5 there's Draconians and the Sirrush. The Firbolg from Awaken Sleeper, available at level 5 is worth mentioning. I also highly suggest taking it to 6 for all the useful death summons if you took the Ghost King. Your Oreliads can also easily cast Summon Tarrasque and Wild Hunt later in the game with a little help from some items or empowerment, and Wild Hunt may be worth taking it all the way to 9 if you're going for a dominion kill strategy, and level 9 will also give you access to the Ghost Riders spell, which is excellent for raiding especially if you can coordinate it with a stealth army attacking at the same time. I don't suggest this school over others unless it's a dominion kill you're after.
There are some good spells here for your national mages and a couple for the Cyclops pretender, and one useful spell for your Ghost King pretender if you're using it directly for raiding. Aim, at 1, is a great spell for all of your units because it increases their accuracy. Mirror Image at 2 is OK, but is outclassed by Mist Form at 3 for your Orelaids. Ironskin, also at 3, is good for most of your mages as they get Earth picks and temporarily for your Cyclops until Invunerability at 5. Body Ethereal at 3 can be spammed by every Mystic on your army. Swarm, at 4, is good for your Priestesses as it gives them something to do besides weak army buff spells and Sermon of Courage. Good higher level spells include False Horror at 6, and Mass Protection and Creeping Doom both available at 7 for your Orelaids, and Phoenix Pyre at 7 is great for any SC, including your Cyclops. Darkness at 6 is good if you're using the suggested undead army for raiding and the Ghost King can cast it making most PD nothing more than a nuisance. It's a good school to take to at least 3 or 4 quickly to eliminate the possibility of a lucky arrow killing an expensive mage.
This is actually a great school for Arco as there are many useful spells in it for your mages. There are many spells that directly damage the enemy in this school, too many to list because of all the random picks, but I can outline some of the more important and easily used ones. To start, Sleep Cloud at 3 is a cool spell to use against large armies. Blade Wind, at 4, is huge for your Cyclops pretender as he'll launch more blades than you can count, and some other mages can use it as lucky picks. Thunder Strike, also available at 4, is good for Oreliads even though it's really fatiguing. Orb Lightning, level 5, is a great spell that nearly all of your mages will be able to cast, and your Oreliads to great effect. Also available at 5 is Healing Mists which isn't too bad and can be helpful in big battles, and Falling Fires which your Cyclops can cast, but I wouldn't do it outside of using it against enemies weak to fire. The Ghost King doesn't gain much from this spell other than Shadow Blast at 5 and Cloud of Death at 6, both of which are good spells against PD, but I don't think it's worth the investment for that strategy.
This is a good school for the Cyclops pretender. There's a lot of earth spells/summons available to it, plus very powerful and unique items past level 4. It's worth taking a look at after getting some of the more essential spells from other schools.
This school is a bit of a low priority in the beginning, depending on map size. At level 3 Seeking Arrow is a great spell whether going for the dominion kill or not. At 4, Haste is a good spell, and Cloud Trapeze can help get your Oreliads to where you need them quickly. Gift of Health at 5 is good for Arco because of the old age that effects many of your commanders, but with a good growth scale I don't find it necessary. At 5 you could summon a Watcher, and Faery Trod can help move your armies around the map. At 6 Rigor Mortis can help your undead raiders if you choose. Overall though, it's not too impressive for either strategy.
This is a great school for the dominion kill strategy as it has many spells that slow down your enemy from afar. There are some good spells available to both strategies though, such as Horror Mark at 1, Panic at 3, Confusion at 5, and Beckoning at 6, all of which are castable by your national mages. My favorite, however, is Melancholia at level 6. It requires E5 to cast, however even for the Ghost King pretender it's worth doing your best to get someone able to cast it, because it cripples the resources of your enemy and lowers dominion. Although I wouldn't rate this school as a huge priority, if you're having trouble with a high dominion enemy Melancholia is where to turn.
Useful Magic Items
Obviously Owl Quills are very important. Pendant of Luck is always a good item for any commander. A Longbow of Accuracy or Piercer is good for a regular commander who would otherwise be standing around. The Ice Sword is a good choice to give to a Wing Lord as it raises his defense skill, and a regular Black Steel Kite Shield will bump his protection up to amazing levels. The Ring of Water Breathing is great to give to a skeptic to get at those hard to reach water provinces and lower any extra dominion you can. Birch boots are good for reinvigoration.
The Amulet of Antimagic is a cheap and effective way of extending the life of most commanders. The Spell Focus is great for just about anyone with any magic. The Vine Bow and Bow of Storms are great upgrades for your regular commanders, especially the Bow of Storms. The Sword of Quickness is also a good upgrade for your Wing Lord as it is more powerful and increases defense even more. A Shield of Valor is a good upgrade as well, but you're sacrificing protection for near missile immunity which can be good or bad. Chainmail of Displacement is good for your Wing Lord as well, and Rainbow Armor is a possible choice for the reinvigoration, but I don't really recommend it because you can give him an Amulet of Resilience instead. I also like to give my Cyclops two Lighting Spears as that's some pretty high damage to anyone who isn't immune to electricity and maybe a Horned Helmet for the extra attack with Boots of the Messenger for reinvigoration and a Ring of Regeneration in addition to other possibilities. The Robe of Missile Protection and Ethereal Robe are good choices for casters if you can spare the gems. Winged Shoes are good for turning mages into raiders, and a Flying Carpet is better if you want bodyguards to come along, and again Boots of the Messenger to help overcome the Drain scale. There are also Thistle Maces, Earth Boots, and Bags of Wind for boosting paths.
- General strategy for mages
- Priestess - Crystal Shield, Robe of Missile Protection, Boots of the Messenger, Girdle of Might, Thistlemace (optional)
- Oreliad - Robe of Missile Protection, Earthboots, Girdle of Might, Thistlemace
- Mystic - Robe of Missile Protection, Skullcap, Girdle of Might, Earthboots/Flaming Skull/Water Bracelet/Crystal Coin
Add Amulet of Resilience to all those once I get the nature gems
The only ones to note here are the Water Bracelet for increasing paths, the Bottle of Living Water for popping in a spare Misc slot, the Barrel of Air and Sea King's Goblet if you can get them to enter underwater provinces, and if you're going for a dominion kill the Stone Idol is excellent to give to a skeptic, but you may have to empower a mage to get access to it.
speak for themselves as most of them are very powerful.
With the versatility of Arcoscephale comes a lot of decisions that need to be made. Outlined above are three viable strategies out of many as well as some general tips for the new players choosing this nation. With time you can develop your own strategies as this is only meant to give you a kick start and begin to experiment and understand the strengths and weakness of Arco.