The "new order" has proven to be substantially more dangerous than believed, and not just for the enemies of the Empire. The dead walk the earth, while the living struggle to avoid joining them. The Thaumaturgs and priests of the empire have some ability to control the dead, but the situation has become even more unstable with the rebellion of peripheral elements of the empire, such as the new nation of Pythium.
The nation still has legions, but now they are composed of an unholy mix of the living and the dead, and the chaos is not helpful.
The following pretender god chassis are available for Broken Empire:
All Ermorian priests have the ability to reanimate dead as per the spell, but with no cost in death gems. This means that given enough time, a group of Ermorian commanders can raise an army with no cost in gold, resources or gems. The type of undead that can be raised depends on the priest level of the commander:
- Level 1 -- Ghouls & Soulless
- Level 2 -- Longdeads
- Level 3 -- Longdead Horsemen
Creating ghouls damages your population, while soulless require fresh bodies to reanimate. Longdeads will be reanimated at a constant rate regardless of available corpses.
The Ermorian Scout and Assassin are the same as their generic counterparts.
The Centurion and the Legatus Legionis are fairly typical Middle Era non-magic leaders, though the Legatus does come with the "standard" ability with an excellent radius.
The Ermorian Cultist is equivalent to the standard 50-gold independent priest, but they are cheaper and a better undead leadership. As an Ermorian priest, they can reanimate soulless or ghouls, making them a decent buy, but their only real purpose is to move about constructing temples. Otherwise, go with...
The Thaumaturg, at 1S1D2H for 130 gold is an exceptional buy. They are capable of reanimating soulless, ghouls, and longdead - if you're stopping in the wake of battle for some other reason, or are defending a fortress and have many corpses at the ready, Soulless come in much greater bulk (15 vs. 5). They can also cast the Communion spells - four Thaumaturg slaves and lets any number of Thaumaturg masters cast S3D3H4 spells, which is vital for such undead boosting spells as Power of the Sepulcher, Protection of the Sepulcher, and Unholy Bless. It's also worth noting that holy attack spells such as Apostacy, Smite, and Word of Power have 0 fatigue cost, so if you're worried about overtaxing your communion you always have these free options. Since your Grand Thaumaturgs are capital only and often best off staying still and reanimating longdead horse, the Thaumaturgs become your main field commanders for your undead legions. Unless you need an assassin or a Legatus for commanding human troops, buy one of these each and every round at each and every fort you have. If you do nothing else with them but leave them reanimating longdead, they will have paid for themselves many times over by year's end.
The Censor is an Ermorian commander that has the ability to command fairly large amounts of both living and undead troops (40/80/0). They are not undead themselves however. They come with a patrol bonus and are capital-only.
The Grand Thaumaturg is an excellent buy at 340 gold. They are 2S3D3H1? (100 AWSD 10 AWAD), which gives you some wonderful magic options and eventual access to the ocean. These will be your major gold expenditures round in round out, as you assemble an army of Grand Thaumaturgs each cranking out 5 longdead horse/round.
A priest level of three makes a group of Grand Thaumaturgs very flexible: they can stay at home and summon up replaceable armies of longdead horse, or lead your undead legions (casting Divine Blessing or Protection of the Sepulchre). Grand Thaumaturgs start in old age, but because of their levels in Death they are less likely to accumulate afflictions.
Broken Empire Ermor comes with a large number of troop choices, but most are characterized by three things:
- No missile weapons to speak of
- Excellent defense
- High resource cost
The only ranged choice (other than javelins) available to Broken Empire is a standard Slinger. Dirt cheap (7/2), bad stats, bad gear, unremarkable precision (10).
The rank-and-file Ermor troops cost a great deal in terms of resource. Even the lowly Velite costs 10 resources, while most hover around 20 and the elite are 29 or 31. These resource costs pay for some decent gear, including a tower shield for everyone and some very nice defense skills. All this makes the living component of the Broken Empire armies tough to take down. They largely ignore missile fire, and even heavy cavalry charges take a while to chew through a shield wall of Principes. Their attack skills are nothing special however, and this means that the enemy troops tend to run up against an Ermor line... and sit there. Ideally, the undead then lap around the sides and start to chew through the enemy's flanks.
Amusingly, the elite Broken Empire troops (the Tritarius and the Praetorian Guard) start out at 55 year of age, which puts them in their dotage. The Tritarius may be worth buying if you need to take out some independent provinces with knights, because they are effectively armed with pikes.
Ermor has access to the Retarius and the Gladiator units, which are low-resource troop choices, but which only fight for a single battle before disbanding. This appears at first to be a poor use of your gold, but given the high resource costs of other Ermorian units they are a viable choice for rounding out your armies in a hurry if another player is attacking. Their stats are decent and their morale is excellent.
Broken Empire has two sacred troop types, the Shadow Vestal and the Lictor. Both are capital-only.
Shadow Vestals are undead, ethereal and stealthy in addition to being sacred. They have low protection but excellent defense in addition to being ethereal. Their cheap resource cost (20/3) makes them attractive, especially with a bless strategy.
Lictors are not undead and can thus be commanded by someone who is not a priest or mage. They are heavily armored and have the high gold and resource cost you would expect from such gear (80/24). Their defense skill is terrible compared to other Ermorian (living) units, but their attack skill is comparatively high. They have a patrol bonus.
Note that since the Shadow Vestals are undead, while the Lictors are living, they must be blessed with two different spells -- the Unholy Blessing will not work on the Lictors, and Holy (normal) Blessing will not affect the Shadow Vestals.
All in all, you can easily play Ermor with few or even no rank and file troops, relying instead on endless hordes of Longdead Horse to see you through, using blessed Shadow Vestals for easy expansion and durability. Only once you face determined anti-undead resistance is it necessary to enlist the aid of living troops, with their inconvenient upkeep costs and need to eat.
- Temple of the Dead -- Capital-only recruitment and 4 Death gems per turn
- Temple of the Spheres -- Capital-only recruitment and 1 Astral gem per turn
Middle Era Ermor gets no unique spells, though they are presented with a number of unique Holy spells that are automatically available without research. Among these are specialized versions of Charm, Haste, Resist Magic, and Curse... all available in some form to Ermor without allocating a single mage to research.
- Unholy Command
- Unholy Protection
- Unholy Blessing
- Unholy Power
- Protection of the Sepulcher
- Power of the Sepulcher
Mortius the Scythe Wielder
Mortius appears to be an odd duck of a hero. He is almost identical to any other Grand Thaumaturg, except that his defense and morale are slightly worse and better, respectively. A slightly better leadership (25/120/20) does not seem to make him anything special.
However, he does carry the Infernal Scythe, a magical weapon that will banish anyone wounded with it to the "Inferno". This could make him an interesting super-combatant killer... if he had a decent attack skill, which he does not.
Zirru the Grand Thaumaturg
Although Zirru starts off at a very ripe old age (160+), this is not particularly ancient for a Sauromancer when old age starts at 150. That and his high level in death magic make it unlikely that he will accumulate afflictions due to old age.
Zirru comes with 2S4D, which makes him an excellent candidate for upping your death magic in the unlikely event that your pretender does not comes with a high level in death.
Some selected snippets from a thread on the Shrapnel Boards:
- Any commander, even independent ones, with at least one level of Holy can reanimate undeads. So take advtantage of this and recruit lots of priests outside your capitol to make expendable chaff troops.
- Your best low level thugs would be Banes, Conjuration lvl 3. A good chasis with enough MR to resist banish from low level priests. A lucky pendant (5 astral gems) and whatever 10+ damage weapon you can afford will make a good thug against anything that doesn't have trample. Doom Glaive being a favourite of mine. This works until lvl 7+ summons shows up on the scene anyway.
- Conjuration lvl 2 also gives you Dark knowledge which should help in improving your death gem income.
- Enchantment lvl 1 will give your mages the ability to spam undead on the battlefield. lvl 4 gives you Behemoths.
- A well known battlefield tactic for Ermor and Pythium is to make a large block of Principes and place an astral mage or two in the middle. Then cast the Alteration 3 spell Body Etheral. This gives you etheral troops with armor and good stats! Give the principes the order to Fire closest, they will throw their javelins at their closest target and then engage.
- You need to make a deciscion what your Middle/Late game is going to be though. Either you invest in astral magic with Thaumaturgy at lvl 5+ for Soulslay and Enslave mind spells. Or you try to get Conjuration lvl 9 and bring out some Tartarians. There are some nice Death evocation spells, but I have yet to train evocation beyond lvl 3 with ermor until turn 60+, thinking that Conjuration or Enchantment is more important for them.
- Death and Astral spells are your strengths. Etheral principes with some decked out banes as a vanguard, a horde of low undead chaff to wear the enemy down and all of them backed up by 3-4 unholy priests is a pretty standard Ermor tactic.
- Your "artillery" will be lacking until quite well into the game. But cheap commanders with decent preciscion score can be decked with scepters of command (F2, construction lvl 4) for some decent long range firepower. You will need either your pretender of an indy mage to make these though. Until then, consider making use of Communion to give your Thaumaturgs access to offensive holy spells.
- You can use the Black Servants from Conjuration 1 for some early game action if you can get them some armor
- They are ethereal, and that helps a lot. You'll probably won't have enough gems or mages to make armor, but e.g. Earth would be wonderful. As with most undead, they have Encumberance 0, and thus won't suffer from heavy armors' fatique.
- You really need to put an anti magic amulet on them; otherwise even independents will banish them pretty darn quick
- A Black servant with a Doom glaive, Fire plate, anti magic amulet makes a good thug; thats quite a bit of gem investment in one lvl 1 summon though
- Death Magic has a good number of spells for stealth raiding squads. I use them mainly to pick on provinces with temples in them where you only have to deal with PD. A Spectre commander with Shades, Shade Beasts, Dispossed Spirits, and Ghosts are all available at D3 and Conj 6. They're all stealthy and ethereal and Chill 3 I believe, and Spectre's are pretty good mages.
- Astral magic can be used to increase the holy power of high priests during combat, giving them access to higher undead-enhancing priest spells.
- Develop combined arms tactics with a mix of different types of undead and living troops.
- You can also use Antimagic, the Astral 3 spell to further protect your undead units
- Nether Darts, Nether Darts, Nether Darts. Evocation 7 makes those Thaumaturges a main ingredient of your army. Protect them at all costs - meat/undead shield, troops on guard-order. Add a Spell Focus and an Eye of Aiming (if enough Air gems) and watch them roll. Oh, and those Darts are armor negating and cause feeblemindness so even SCs need to think twice before taking on your armies. Victims get a resistance roll, but high precision causes more darts to land so..
- An E4 bless can be helpful for getting the most mileage out of your communions at fairly minimal cost.