The Marverni are a tribal nation of chiefdoms guided by Druids and religious magistrates. The tribes have a long history of war and infighting, but recent developments have joined the tribes in pursuit of a single goal. The most prominent tribes are the Marverni, the Ambibates, the Eponi and the Carnutes. The Sequani, though a small tribe, are influential due to the large number of Druids among them. The smiths of the Marverni tribe are reputedly the inventors of chainmail and most nobles of the tribe use it. Low born warriors fight bare-chested. The Ambibates are known for their martial skills. The Eponi nobles fight on horseback and are the only cavalry available to the nation. The Carnute tribe guards the sacred Forest of Carnutes where the Druids gather every year. The Carnute warriors are able to go berserk when wounded. Boars are a sacred symbol to the Marverni nation.
The Marverni have skilled bare-chested fighters led by druids and nobles. Only the nobles can afford chain mail or horses. Its people have a powerful connection to the Earth, Nature and Astral magic and weak access to Water magic. They exist only in the Early Age.
See the manual on page 121: Marnervi is inspired by the celtic gauls as described by Julius Caesar in his report The gallic war and by other Roman historians. See also the comic Asterix for visual inspiration.
The historic Arverni (Marverni), Ambiliates (Ambibates), Carnutes and Sequani were tribes of Gallic Celts. Epona is the Gallo-Roman goddess of horses. The elongated bronze trumpets of the Celts are called Carnyx, often formed to resemble animals.
Your national troops are composed of several light and heavy infantry types, supported by javelin throwers and slingers. Most infantry types exist as a low-resource variant without armor (bare-chested warriors) and a better resource-demanding armored variant (noble warriors). Your cavalry is expensive but decent for Early Era, even without a charge bonus.
EA-Marverni's most powerful magi, the Druids, are recruitable anywhere! Druids have powerful Earth & Astral magic plus some skill in Nature & Water, and can enhance their battlefield magic with powerful Communion combinations. She also has recruit-anywhere S1 mage chaff, the Stargazers. Marverni has no national access to Blood, Death, Fire or Air magic, but can sacrifice Blood Slaves at temples to push Dominion.
EA-Marverni's recruitable sacred-troops can go berserk and are capital-only. But you also gain access to free sacred auto-spawn (minorsummon) tramplers through the Conjuration school. Marverni's sacred summons also possess the fortune teller trait, allowing them to suppress bad events from happening in their province.
Your province defense consists of 1 Slinger and 2 bare-chest Javelin Throwers per point of PD; at Province Defense 20 you gain an additional Marverni Noble Warrior per point. This PD mix gives you a lot of ranged attacks for your gold and can be effective against raiders.
Carnutes Gives 3 Astral, 2 Earth and 1 Nature Gem each turn and allows recruitment of sacred Boar Warriors and Boar Lords.
- Sounder of Boars
- Conj-3 N2 Summons 20 sacred Great Boars (sacred, animal, size-3 trampler, 22 hp, map-move 3/16, forest survival, prot-6). Great boars have no upkeep cost, and are also auto-summoned for free by Great Boars of Carnutes (see next entry). They benefit well from a W/E/N bless after being turned ethereal by your Sequani magi.
- Contact Boar of Carnutes
- Conj-5 N1E1 Summons a sacred Great Boar of Carnutes commander (command 40, sacred, animal, size-5 trampler, 81 hp, map-move 3/20, forest survival, prot-10) that in turn occasionally auto-summons sacred Great Boars (~ 1/20 chance per candle per turn; thus 10 candles bestows a 10/20 = 50% chance per turn) and can prevent bad random events from happening in the province in which it is currently located. Great boars of Carnutes have no upkeep cost, and with the right W/E/N bless can make effective thugs.
- It would seem each additional Boar of Carnutes in a province decreases the local chance of a bad event happening by 15% (ie. other provinces remain unaffected). It is unknown whether enough boars can actually negate bad events in a province altogether.
- Monster Boar
- Conj-5 N3 The caster summons a non-sacred AI-controlled Monster Boar (stealth 20, animal, size-5 trampler, 51 hp, map-move 3/20, forest survival, prot-9, Str 20, Att 12, Def 9, MR 5) and sends it to a distant province to ravage the land. This is effectively a remote attack that increases unrest in the target province, but if you spam it on rich enemy castles, it can stunt or even shut down enemy taxes/production.
Marverni's infantry all have Mapmove 2, even the armored ones. This further translates to a +1 bonus movement rate in battle. Some types also have forest survival, allowing your nation a mobile posture in most terrain.
- Marverni Horn Blower
- Gold 20, Resources 1, Dagger
- The horn blower increases the morale of nearby troops (Standard 12) and is a bit slower than all other infantry types (Battlefield movement: 9). When deployed correctly, he substantially decreases the chances your troops will turn and flee. This counts for your weak-morale PD as well. He is only armed with a dagger and does not wear armor though, meaning certain death if he ever comes face-to-face with an enemy. He often outruns javelin throwing comrades, so it is best to deploy him with warrior infantry types where he tends to fall to the rear and perform his role safely protected by blockers. Alternatively you can set hit to 'guard commander' on a leader who in turn is set to 'stay behind troops'.
- Marverni Slinger
- Gold 9, Resources 3, Dagger, Sling, Shield
- Your default missile troops, the Marverni Slinger is mass-recruitable in times of need and wields a dagger and shield (but no armor). Unlike slower indy slingers and archers, these can keep up with your MM-2 armies. In practice, the shield does little to increase their survivability and their morale is low (Morale: 8) without a Hornblower nearby. They work well when deployed behind armored melee blockers (bare chested troops remain vulnerable to friendly fire). While they certainly meet expectations, you will probably find Jaguar Tribe slingers or Wolf/Deer Tribe archers offer superior value for the money.
- Marverni Javelineer
- Gold 9, Resources 5, Spear, Javelin, Shield
- This unarmored mass-recruitable javelin-thrower has shaky morale (Morale 9) and fights with spear and shield. While providing better stats than most miltia units, his lack of armor provides scant survivability in combat. In large numbers though, mass javelin volleys can still prove effective vs non-shielded troops and to pop glamours. They are somewhat overshadowed by the Marverni Bare Chested Warrior, who fulfills a similar role but comes armed with a superior melee weapon. Even if you don't actively recruit these, you will still see them often because they make up a main component of your PD. As such, you probably want to figure a way to boost their morale using hornblowers or priests. To maintain a cohesive active component in your army, the fire and flee command might be better suited than fire closest.
Bare Chested Troops
None of your bare chested troops wear armor, although they all have decent weapons and wield shields: offense vs defense. In general, even with decent defense skills, their lack of armor protection proves costly: many are often killed after only one hit. Bare chests should never be deployed against enemy archers/slingers without other troops to serve as missile magnets to draw enemy fire: veteran archers will decimate your ranks. Protective magic and clever tactics increases your potential dramatically, however. Also, in the mid/late game where lots of AN magic and weapons come into use, lack of armor becomes less of an issue anyways.
- Note that the Const-3 spell Legions of Steel does NOT affect bare chest warriors, as it only improves EXISTING armors. Other spells such as Protection, Wooden Warriors, Mossbody, Body Ethereal and the like do work. Protection/Wooden Warriors increases their armor to 12.
- Spells that incapacitate the enemy such as Sleep, Tangle Vines, Stellar Cascades, etc. are great ways to press home the advantages of your bare chested troops.
- Marverni Bare Chested Warrior
- Gold 9, Resources 9, Broadsword, Javelin, Shield, Iron Cap
- A crossover between the javelineer and your hard-fighting bare-chested melee troops, they are able to serve both roles. Low gold cost and upkeep, although they demand a surprising amount of resources for an unarmored trooper. Still, they remain better armed (Broad Sword, Shield, Javelin) than most comparable Indy light troops, and when used in large numbers the javelins can be a devastating opening volley vs non-shielded enemies. A decent fighter, however their sub-par morale (9) and only minimal protection (3) proves vulnerable in prolonged fights without magical support. Summon Marverni in large numbers when trying to keep your gold/upkeep costs down.
- Ambibate Bare Chested Warrior
- Gold 11, Resources 8, Broadsword, Shield, Iron Cap
- Slightly better stats and more gold cost than the Marverni tribe, they compose your most skilled fighters. Good on attack, but lack of armor means they are just as squishy as the other bare chests in tough brawls. With some magical protection, they can prove to be quite capable fighters. While it can often be a toss-up between choosing which tribal warriors to muster, the Ambibates are the wiser option if you know javelins will not work well against their likely enemy.
- Carnute Bare Chested Warrior
- Gold 13, Resources 6, Axe, Shield, Iron Cap
- This unit fights with axe and shield, can go berserk and can freely move through forests. Costing the most gold but least resources of your naked melee-ers, they are quite spammable and have the highest morale of all bare-chested warriors. When wounded their morale, attack, protection and strength all increase while their defense (12) decreases. However the tendency to succumb to one-shot-kills means not many survive to berserk, in spite of having 12 hp. They can be deployed in independent formations or mixed in with your other bare-chested troop-types to improve overall morale. With magical support from Gutuaters, these are the goto troops for fighting in and around forested lands.
Marverni HI comes in 4 flavors, although one type can only be recruited at your capital. The backbone of your threat-projection, each has it's niche role to play:
- Marverni Noble Warrior
- Gold 11, Resources 17, Broadsword, Chain Mail Cuirass, Iron Cap, Shield
- A solid EA heavy infantry unit, superior to indy HI, especially due to Mapmove-2. At 80% and 67% the cost of their Ambibate and Carnute Noble counterparts respectively, sometimes you are simply tight for gold (or saving to built forts/labs) but still want to maximize use of available castle resources. If that is the case, buy these.
- Ambibate Noble Warrior
- Gold 14, Resources 17, Broadsword, Chain Mail Cuirass, Iron Cap, Shield
- Better attack, defense and morale than the Marverni Noble Warrior for 3 more gold. Those extra stats really seem to make a difference, too. THE mainstay EA heavy infantry unit of your nation. Mass armies of these from your many forts.
- Carnute Noble Warrior
- Gold 17, Resources 15, Axe, Chain Mail Cuirass, Iron Cap, Shield
- Initially less proficient at fighting than the other two Noble Warrior types, this unit has high morale, can go berserk and has the forest survival ability. The berserker-effect has much better chances of coming into play if they are fighting under a Protection spell, or pitted against missile troops. But where the Carnutes really shine over the other two types is their strategic mobility on forested maps.
A possible side-use to make use of the high morale and the berserk effect is to mix Carnute Noble Warriors in with independent Elephants (or any other unit that tends to flee, at least 5 Carnute Nobles for each Elephant). Carnute nobles are much less likely to break and flee, but are slower than the Elephants. The Elephants will run forward trampling over the enemies while the Carnute Nobles catch up. Morale is always checked for the entire squad, and as long as you have enough Carnutes alive, the Elephant will fight to the death before considering fleeing.
- Boar Warrior
- Gold 35, Resources 15, Sacred, Axe, Chain Mail Cuirass, Iron Cap, Shield
- The sacred Boar Warriors are only recruit-able in your capitol. Fighting with axe and shield, this unit is capable of going berserk (3) and can be blessed to higher stats. Without a bless, the Carnutes offer the same stats for half as much gold. With a modest N-bless alone, a group of Boar Warriors can offer a viable expansion-army strategy, although tbh your Ambibates also serve well for this. Once you have researched Body Ethereal (Alt-3), the possibilities for using ethereal blessed warriors starts making the Boar Warriors interesting in spite of the high cost.
- Eponi Knight
- Gold 30, Resources 18
- Maybe the best unit in your arsenal. Not very expensive for a mounted unit, and having the unique combination of good armor, shields and javelins. Like most mounted missile troops, the precision is low (precision 8) but the Eponi Knights are excellent melee fighters with shield and broadsword. Unfortunately, the horses are not trained to use their hoof in battle like other heavy cavalry.
- Remember that in one combat square can fight 3 infantry units (size 2) but only 2 mounted units (size 3). Depending on the foe you are facing, it can be better to use the Eponi Knights as flankers or second line troops behind your Ambibate Noble warriors instead as shock troops in the first line.
|Marverni Horn Blower||20||5||10||0||9||10||3||10||10||10||10||2/9|
|Marverni Bare Chested Warrior||9||9||10||3||9||10||4||10||10||14||10||2/11|
|Marverni Noble Warrior||11||17||12||12||10||10||5||11||11||14||10||2/10|
|Ambibate Bare Chested Warrior||11||8||10||3||10||10||4||10||11||15||10||2/11|
|Ambibate Noble Warrior||14||17||12||12||11||10||5||11||12||15||10||2/10|
|Carnute Bare Chested Warrior||13||6||12||3||11||10||4||11||10||12||10||2/11|
|Carnute Noble Warrior||17||15||13||12||12||10||5||11||11||11||10||2/10|
- Marverni Scout
- Gold 20, Resources 2
- A simple Scout with bad morale (9), no armor, no shield and a spear. Use independent scouts instead if available. A niche role is tagging alongside your main armies while hidden to act as a gem-carrier.
- Marverni Chieftain, Ambibate Chieftain
- Gold 40/50, Resources 17
- Both are Leadership 40 commanders armed with broadsword, chain mail, shield and increase the morale of nearby troops (Standard 3). The only difference between them is the Ambibate Chieftain has attack value 13 instead of 12, of questionable value for 10 more gold. With defense skill 15 for 40 gold, the Marverni Chieftain looks like a potential candidate for a cheap thug.
- Carnute Chieftain
- Gold 60, Resources 15
- Similar to the other two foot commanders, but capable of going berserk and having the forest survival ability. He is your go-to leader-type on heavily forested maps. His low defense for a commander (11) makes him unlikely to survive very long if forced to trade blows in battle.
- Eponi Chieftain
- Gold 60, Resources 18
- Your best commander to ferry huge armies, with excellent leadership (80) and good strategic movement (3). Having the highest defense skill (18) of any of your commanders, makes him your primary thug candidate. As a thug, give him a frost brand and stack him with a astral mage who can cast Body Ethereal along with a bodyguard of Eponi Knights set to Guard Commander so he doesn't get mobbed.
- Gold 50, Resources 1, Magic: 1H, sacred
- Your standard priest suffers from low precision (9) as well as from old age (that will in turn lower his precision even more). For the same amount of gold you can recruit a younger independent priest.
- Sequani Stargazer
- Gold 80, Resources 1, Magic: 1S
- With high Magic scales, this mage is a dirt-cheap researcher and a useful communion slave for battlefield magic. Recruit lots of these, as Astral magic offers a good way to make early-game thugs out of virtually any available unit (Alt-3 Body Ethereal). Their major downside is Map-Move 1, which completely gimps your otherwise mobile MM-2 armies. But for defending/expanding home turf close to their labs, they excel. In an emergency, research to (Thaum-2) for Communions so the masters can cast Mindburn. To get the most out of your Stargazers' communion potential, research Power of the Spheres (Conj-4) and Light of the Norther Star (Conj-5), and use reversed-communions, then spells like Paralyze (Thaum-4), Enslave Mind (Thaum-6), Solar Rays (Evoc-2) and Stellar Cascades (Evoc-5). Even better is when you can forge Eyes of the Void and Spell Focus (Const-4) to leverage the effectiveness of your mind attacks, and Banner of the Northern Star (Const-6 S4) to further boost all your astral magi in battle.
- When spammed by many Stargazers backed up by a mass of naked troops, Stellar Cascade is a battle-winner, as each 100-precision cast debuffs 25 unresistable fatigue onto 5 squares of enemies. Also works vs SCs.
- Gold 120, Resources 1, Magic: 1H1N 100%(WESN), sacred
- A versatile Mage-Priest and also a very cost-effective researcher. Once you feel safe enough with sufficient Stargazers to fend off an early rush, start buying Gutuaters to diversify your magic. This will open up many useful combat spells and magic items for thuggery (Frost Brand, Eye Shield, Vine Shield, Horned Helmet, Hydra-Skin Armor, Ring of Regeneration, Amulet of Resilience, etc.). Their precision is good (11) and can be further improved by self-buffing Eagle Eyes (Alt-1 N1). With forest survival ability as well as good strategic movement (2), the Gutuater has the mobility to keep pace with your main troops. He can perform any role calling for an H1 priest, as well as blood sacrifice to expand your dominion if you find some blood slaves. Being sacred benefits nicely from any minor bless your pretender happens to take, an N/E/D bless being notable. Furthermore, in battle using communions and booster magic (crystal/slave matrix, crystal shield, Power of the Sphere), his H1 can be boosted higher to use those elusive H4 spells!
- Interesting spells for the 4 Gutuater types:
- (1S1N1H) - by joining in communions these can fulfill the same role on offense that the Stargazers do on defense, with Nature buffs mixed in to boot. In addition, they can Curse (Thaum-1 N1S1) any SC that is too tough to kill outright.
- (2N1H) - Early on, both Sleep Cloud (Evoc-3) and Haste (Ench-4, use an extra N-gem to cast) are very realistic goals. A single casting of Sleep Cloud doesn't do much, but a half dozen casts at the same location give your broadsword-wielding warriors a field day. Haste of course allows 2 attacks per round, which buffs Ambibates to chop through hordes of enemies. Breath of the Dragon (Evoc-4) is a lackluster spell, but if you are fighting against glamoured troops, the poison damage can pop the glamour to even the odds. After some deeper research we can cast Wooden Warriors (Alt-5) and Storm of Thorns (Evoc-7, also pops glamours). With a Thistle Mace (Const-4) or an extra N-gem we can script Mass Protection (Alt-7) , boosting your entire army's armor, then Charm (Thaum-7) or Polymorph (Alt-8).
- (1W1N1H) - More anti-glamour tactics using the poison clouds from Moss Body (Alteration 3) plus Cold Resistance for fighting in Cold scales. The unscripted AI loves to spam Frozen Heart (Alt-6) in battle. Summon Bog Beast (Conjuration 4, summons 3 poison-spitting beasts) offers more poison-cloud magic, but by the time you can cast it (you'll need to boost to W2) you probably will have better uses for your gems.
- (1E1N1H) - early on, these guys can self-buff Eagle Eyes then spam Earth Grip, but unfortunately the unscripted AI likes to cast Flying Shards as well. But booster magic items/communions (Const-2 & 4) and Summon Earthpower (Conj-3) puts E3 battlemagic easily within reach: Legions of Steel, Strength of Giants, Destruction, Blade Wind, etc. all synergize nicely with your noble troopers.
- Considering that you have easy access to Dwarven Hammers (Const-2), loads of E+S gems, and all of your Druids can forge Crystal/Slave Matrices (Const-4), it is very realistic to mass produce those items and have all of your Gutuaters join a communion in combat to boost their paths for even more powerful magic!
- Gold 380, Resources 3, Magic: 2E2S2H 100%(WESN) 100%(WESN), 10%(WESN), sacred
- The Druid is a powerful sacred priest mage. The druid suffer from old age but has excellent precision (12). If he is lucky to have a nature pick old age is less of a problem and he can also cast the spell eagle Eyes on his self to further increase his precision. If your Druid has no nature pick you should take care of his old age problems if you want to use him as a battlefield mage. He can also perform blood sacrifices. Druids can cast Communion Master and use the cheap Stargazers as Communion Slaves (though they lack the paths, so tend to pass out).
- Interesting Spells for your Druids:
- Summon Earthpower (Conjuration 3) E2, Fatigue 20, Earth Magic +1, Reinvigoration 4 (also to Communion Slaves).
- Troll King Court (Conjuration 6), E3, 55 Earth Gems, Gives you an E3 Troll King and a army of Trolls
- Legion of Steel (Construction 5), E3, Fatigue 40, AoE 25 x 5, Precision 0: Raise Protection +4
- Weapons of Sharpness (Construction 7), E5, Fatigue 20, Aoe 25, Rrecision 0, Range 10: Gives Armor Piercing !
- Solar Rays (Evocation 2), S2, Fatigue 20, AoE 1, Precision 100, Range 35+, Damage 12+ AP
- Blade Wind (Evocation 4), E3, Fatigue 80, AoE 1 Person x 52+, Precision 0, Range 30+, Damage 14
- Gift from Heaven (Evocation 5), E3S1, Fatigue 50, AoE 1 x 3, Precision -3, Range 100, Damage 150 !
- Strength of Giants (Enchantment 3), E3, Fatigue 40, AoE 25, Precision 0, Range 10: Gives +4 Strength
- Interesting Items for your Druids:
- Crystal Shield (+1 to all magic paths in Battle, including Holy)
- Crystal Matrix (autocast Communion Master at the start of combat)
- Slave Matrix (autocast Communion Slave at the start of combat)
- Boar Lord
- Gold 100, Resources 15, sacred
- The Boar Lord bears no standard and is recruitable only in your capitol. He is sacred an can be blessed to higher stats. He is also capable of going berserk.
- Great Boar of Carnutes
- 7 N-gems, sacred
- See National Summons. Though a summoned commander, the sacred Great Boar of Carnutes are an important part of EA-Marverni's threat projection. They can lead lead armies, reduce the chance of bad events, and auto-summon free sacred animal troops when in strong dominion.
Marverni's national heroes ensure EA-Marverni gets high S/N magic, though eventually her druids can also attain those paths through random picks/forging. The Wanderer is fairly likely to show up at your gate under Order and Luck scales. Carnon and Coriax OTOH only appear quite rarely if at all.
- The Wanderer
- In the depths of Carnutes lives an ancient man of unknown origin. He is simply known as the 'One in the Woods' or the 'Wanderer'. No Druid has trained him, but he appears to be a master of the Druidic Arts. He is often accompanied by wild beasts and seems to prefer their company to that of men. Animals in turn avoid attacking him unless severely stressed. With the awakening of the God, he has reluctantly left his forest to aid the Druids of Canutes.
- A sacred druid E2S3N4H2 armed with a magical poisonous Thistle Mace and the Animal Awe (+3), Forest Survival, Supply Bonus (40) skills. If you haven't taken N5 on your pretender, this guy is probably your best candidate for casting the Mother Oak and Gift of Health globals.
- Antlered One (Carnon)
- Carnon, the Antlered One, is afflicted by an ancient curse. Instead of a human head, he has the head of a stag. Carnon grew up far from the sacred Forest of Carnutes, but wanted to become a Boar Warrior. Unfortunately, he was Marverni by birth and was not allowed to enter the sacred forest. He defied the Druids and entered the Forest full of rage. Deep inside Carnutes he found an ancient hill with a westward opening. Outside the opening stood a huge boar with sentient eyes. Carnon promptly slew the boar and entered the tomb. Inside lay the remains of an ancient warrior clad in gold. While a thunderhead was building up outside, he donned the armor of the entombed warrior. Armed like a warrior from the past, he emerged from the tomb, raised his hands and was struck by lightning. When he came to, he was changed, possessed and cursed with the head of a stag. Carnon returned to the Druids and was given soldiers to lead. Now he serves the Druids with unfailing loyalty.
- A stealthy berserking warrior-commander armed with a golden sword & shield and forest-survival & animal awe. He has 120 command rating and boosts nearby troop morale (standard 15).
- Blinded (Coriax)
- Coriax is one of the oldest and most respected members of the Gathering. His position made him chief negotiator when the Ermorian legions arrived. Under white flag he approached an Ermorian Centurion who, upon hearing that Corix was a Druid, demanded to know what the future held for him. Corix regarded the Centurion and with sad voice prophesied his untimely death. In furious anger the Centurion incarcerated the Druid and blinded him. When his Legatus Legionis found out, he was promptly executed and Corix was released and returned home with a treaty of peace. Despite his lack of eyesight, Corix travels far and wide to give his advice to Vergobrets and Chieftains alike. Corix covers his eyes with a red cloth to spare onlookers his grisly appearance.
- A sacred E2S4N2H2 mapmove 1 druid with a blind affliction. Being blind doesn't hamper his ability to cast globals, forge boosters, remote mind-hunt or search for magic sites, though battlefield casting usefulness is more limited. Coriax suffers from old-age, so his blindness can only be cured by The Chalice artifact or Gift of Health global.
If you have an awake pretender, you generally won't need him to help expanding (don't send him out alone), rather use him for site searching. Later, let him forge equipment or cast rituals.
Using javelineers and bare-chests, capture the hills/forests around your capital to raise production, then build expansion armies formed around your 3 noble warrior types. Bare-chests vs enemy archers = heavy casualties, so avoid those battles if you can till you have a proper cadre of armored warriors. Small groups of indy light-infantry mooks can also help draw enemy fire. Against lightly armored enemies such as barbs or lizardmen, your slingers/javelineers work well.
Once you research Alteration-3, your Stargazers can start accompanying your armies to cast Body Ethereal on bare-chests and noble warriors to leverage their survivability in more dangerous battles.
Build large armies, you have the commanders to lead them. Build Enough Stargazers and use the Druids with Nature Skill (no old Age problems), as deadly accurate Combat Mages (cast Communion Master, Eagle Eye, Combat Spells). Try to field at least 4 Stargazers for each Druid. Forge useful items for your Eponi Knights. Build lots of castles, your castles are cheaper than the castles of other nations and your troops are recruitable everywhere.
- Bless. Race toward Construction 2 to forge Dwarven Hammers (gives 25% forging bonus) and Crystal Shields for your prophet and druids (+1 to all magic levels in combat, including holy). With an crystal shield, every Druid can cast Divine Bless (blessing for all sacred units). Next, researh to Conjugation 5 to spam Sacred Boar of Carnutes summons. Each giant sacred boar commander also auto-summons lesser sacred boars each turn in high dominion.
- Golems. Research deep into the construction school for Golems/Weapons of Sharpness (Const-7). Only stop researching Construction to pick up site-searching spells. Use your druids to forge Dwarven Hammers to forge the pricier magic items for your druids, gutuaters and golems. At Construction 2, 4 and 6 you gain access to research boosters, so forge yourself Owl Quills (A1) Skull Mentors (D2) and Lightless Lanterns (F1) if you have the gems to do so.
- Thugs. You have easy access to dwarven hammers, so thugs with decent armor and weapons is definitely on the table.
- Death. Later in the game we can summon Spectres and to get mages with random magic skills.
- Enslave Mind. Take magic scale +3 (bestows +2 Research points & harder to resist your spells). Your druids have great astral magic skill. Sit at home, research or cast "Akashic Record" to find every gem site. Concentrate on researching Astral spells in the Thaumaturgy school. Your Magic+3 dominion make it harder to resist such spells. Research the "Enslave Mind" spells and let your army grow as it moves!
If you take magic scales and/or an awake pretender, it is possible using Druids to get to level 3 within a single school within 7 months on 'normal research' setting.
- Conj-1 Tanglevines and Alt-1 Eagle Eyes, Earthgrip. Those are quite useful to give your bare chested warriors the upper hand in battle when spammed, also against tough Indies. As a bonus, if you are rushed by Neifelheim or Abyssia your W randoms can buff Cold Resistance/Resist Fire on units that are set to 'Hold and Attack'.
- Thaum-1 Farstrike (combos well with Alt-1 Earth Might) plus this school sets you up for boosting your S-magi using Communions.
- Evoc-1 Starfires admittedly is a weak spell, but it gives your Stargazers something to cast. Later on Arcane Bolt works well vs magical seasonal spirits.
Those spell paths can work for an emergency if you get rushed early, and all of them can help assist your expansion. Otherwise once you feel confident you can research deeper into your chosen magic path:
- Alt-2 gives your expensive druids AoE Earthmeld then Alt-3 allows the defensive buffs Body Ethereal, Protection and Mossbody. This is the first step towards turning your low-resource bare-chested warriors and inexpensive Stargazers and Gutuaters with random N and W picks into an asset. Set up your warriors to 'hold and attack' in groups of 8 led by a mage who in turn is set to cast their buff spell three times. Ethereal warriors are much tougher to hit by normal enemy infantry, and ethereal Eponi Chieftains outfitted with some basic magic items can serve as (squishy) mini-thugs. Protection bumps your bare-chests' armor up to 12 and your noble warriors to 19. Mossbody likewise increases armor, which should be enough to prevent your bare-chests from succumbing to one-shot kills.
- Const-2 to forge Dwarven Hammers and Boots of Giant Strength (for boosting Farstrike even more). Other useful thuggery magic items gained at this level are Eye Shield (N2) and Crystal Shield (S3 E2), along with clams, fetishes and soul contracts if your Pretender has the right paths. Then on to Const-3 so your E-random druids can cast Legions of Steel, a good AoE buff for your noble warriors or indy troops, but it doesn't work on bare-chests.
- Conj-3 allows Summon Earthpower and Power of the Spheres. Both boost your E/S spell-casting power and lessens fatigue for Druids and Stargazers in battle. If Stargazers join in a communion first, a Communion Master casting PotS will boost all Communion Slaves to S2. Most early summons are pretty weak, but Sounder of Boars might be useful to help defend a besieged castle or when combined with Alt-3 buffs.
- Thaum-2 for Mindburn (S2, combos well with Conj-3 LotNS) and Sleep (N2). The AI also likes to cast Berserkers, which can backfire if it randomly targets one of your own magi. Then on to Thaum-3 for Teleport (strategic mobility for Druids) and Panic (another favorite of the AI).
Conjuration and Enchantment gives you good undead Mages / Thugs, while Evocation and Thaumarturgy gives you good battlefield spells.
Construction 4 is a must (Wine Bags) to avoid supply problems and form simple items like Vine Bows and Ethereal Crossbows for your Eponi Chieftains.
Thaumaturgy 2 is important for site searching and Communion Master/Slave. Higher Thaumaturgy gives you Soul Slay , Enslave Mind and Charm.
Evocation 2 is necessary for Arcane Site searching and Combat spells, Evocation 4 gives you the deadly Blad Wind spell.
Construction 6 let you forge all path boosters (Ring of wizardry) and useful items for your commanders (Heraldic Lance).
Construction 7 allow Golems (great Raiders) Weapons of Sharpness (great Mass Buff) and Forge of the Ancients which let each of your mages forge as if he had +1 of every magic skill (so even your stargazer (S1) can an forge an Fever Fetish (F1N1, gibes 1 fire gem each turn).
Later on, research either Evocation/Thaumaturgy spells for more battlefield magic or concentrate on summons (conjuration)
If you have Golems:
Alteration 3 (Personal Luck, Body Ethereal) and
Enchantments 3 (Astral Shield) are important.
Golems have two Levels of Astral Magic, and which just a skull cap (Construction 6) can Teleport (Thaumaturgy 3) themselves on top of enemy armies (magic movement phase comes before normal movement phase).
Conjuration 6 allows you to cast Troll King Court and Sea King Court. Troll Kings make excellent battlefield buffers with spells like Legions of Steel, Strength of Giants and Weapons of Sharpness. Sea Trolls allow you to go underwater.
You have Astral/Nature mages. Equip them with path boosters and make good use of the Spell Winged Monkeys. Very funny in combination with charm.
Gift from Heavens is a vital part of your arsenal for demolishing thugs and other heavy units. Use with Eagle Eyes and/or Eye of Aiming or other precision booster abilities to make this spell actually connect with it's targets.
Marverni's power rests on large armies backed by magic, so we need good scales for both money and research. Take Order and use Sloth to pay for it: spread recruitment of noble warriors between your many cheap forts always built in mountains/forests, so can can get away with some Sloth. Magic should always be set at 3; this is not debatable, since Marverni needs as much research ASAP to be able to bring out the heavy combat magic, and your high magic scales also reduces enemy MR when fighting in friendly Dom. Growth is also important, so that our economy grows into the mid-game, and some of our old-age Druids won't catch afflictions in winter as easily. Misfortune 2 to pay for Growth is quite tolerable; you still can get gems and occasional boons, generally the worst events involve losing some gold or barbarian invasions, which our PD set to 20 in key provinces can easily handle. Order tones down the frequency of random events, plus later on, our Great Boars of Carnutes national summons can help prevent unlucky events by spreading them around your kingdom to blood hunt. Misfortune 3 by comparison can be brutal and is not recommended.
So that gives us suggested scales of Order 2, Sloth 3, Growth 2, Misfortune 2, Magic 3; to furnish good money and growth plus max-out our research, for an overall cost of 80 design points, which still leaves us plenty for a decent Pretender. The downside is you will likely not see any of your national heroes. Or you can gamble and take Turmoil 3 as well as Luck 3 instead to have less fixed income, but more positive random events (some of them will give you gold) and better chances for heroes. Either choice costs a net 80 points.
Marverni has a huge selection of pretenders and thus pretender strategies to choose from. All the standard generic mainstay pretenders can certainly work; such as pathless Wyrm, E9 Cyclops, Forge Lord, Ghost King, etc. But let's have a look at more thematic builds.
- Marverni can certainly benefit from an awake early SC expander, but designing such a build that doesn't stunt late-game magical development is tricky.
- Marverni CAN become a blood nation (sorta) and expand dominion by sacrificing slaves, but you will have to make a concerted effort to break into it, likely earliest by the mid-game. Blood on your pretender really helps speed this up.
- Marverni's Ambibates can become fearsome warriors once they hit veteran status. So curing afflictions on wounded warriors is a good long-term strategy (Mother of Serpents, Gift of Health, Faerie Court, The Chalice).
- Marverni is naturally strong in Astral, Earth and (sometimes) Nature (The Wanderer national hero), and at Const-6 can boost itself into strong Water. So try to look for synergies on your pretender that your Druids cannot reach, using Blood, Death, Fire and Air. A rainbow pretender could potentially cover all bases.
- For end-game Astral, A4 random Druids are possible (6.3% chance to gain Sx2 random picks, or 0.63% chance to gain Sx3). Such a druid can self-forge boosters to get to S7 (Crystal Coin, Starshine skullcap, Ring of Sorcery). To empower 2 further steps in Astral for casting Wish would require 165 astral pearls! Alternatively, you could forge a Robe of the Magi (A5B5) and either the Dimensional Rod (S3, Artifact) or The Forbidden Light (F4S4, Artifact). It might just be easier to make a dedicated pretender. Food for thought.
Make the most use of your good national troops and allow a little blood / devil factory for raiding. Late-game Blood summons for magic diversity and nasty globals.
Take an awake Fountain of Blood F2 S2 B6; Order 1 Sloth 3 Growth 3 Misfortune 2 Magic 3 Dom-9. This gives you a minor bless effect (+3 Strength, useful for your Boar Warriors and any sacred indys). Start hunting blood slaves as soon as possible. As soon as Construction 2 is researched, forge a Soul Contract (auto-recruits 1 devil each turn) every time you have enough slaves to do so. It is important to make these ASAP because each soul contract pays off more the longer it remains in the game.
Now split your research as needed between the various schools. Later on, with a Crystal Coin you can Teleport (Thaum-3) your fountain to new locations for fresh blood hunting. But your ultimate research goal is Blood 7 (Arch Devil to diversify into F magic) and even better, Blood 8 (Bind Heliophagus, for flying SCs and one of them also has D magic).
Marverni's Druids and Gutuaters are sacred... your best and most expensive magi... so give them a bless to empower them even further! But you want to buy good scales too, so you will need to take a dormant (or imprisoned) pretender to achieve both. You can use blood sacrifice to help spread your dominion, so you can get away with a somewhat weaker dominion.
Take a dormant Arch Druid F2 A2 W2 E4 D4 N4 B2; Sloth 3 Growth 3 Misfortune 2 Magic 3 Dom-6. You get a very mobile stealthy rainbow pretender with recuperation - he should prove to be very tough for your enemies to locate and kill, and recuperation eliminates early-game risk from random afflictions. This bestows a nice multi-bless for your sacred spell-casters and troops that will remain useful throughout the game, and he auto-generates N-gems every turn! Your pretender is extremely useful for site-searching, casting summons & globals and can be boosted to summon Lamia Queens or Specters for D/B magic diversity and endgame Tarts.
- dormant Crone F2 A3 W2 E4 S2 D4 N4 B1; same scales. What the Crone lacks in stealth, she makes up for in having 4 misc slots for booster items: with clever forging, she can boost any path to cast any spell in the game.
Turn your Boar Warriors, Sacred Boar of Carnutes and Sacred Boars into deadly battlefield thugs.
Take an imprisoned Lady of Springs W9 E4 N4; Sloth 3 Growth 2 Misfortune 2 Magic 1 Dom-9. Regenerating reinvigorated Boar Warrior berserkers with boosted multi-attack melee skills backed up by giant auto-spawning regenerating trampler boars! Don't forget you can still turn them ethereal too in an emergency using Stargazers! A group of 20 can take out pretty much anything the indies can throw at you, and larger groups make a fearsome army. Collect them into operational groups of 40 lead by Carnute Chieftains backed up by Gutuater magic. This bless also is quite useful for your many sacred magi as well.
This strategy is best for quick games on small maps, as many useful magic paths will be difficult to expand into. Your best-bet late-game strategy is probably going for high-level Astral battle-magic and rituals using empowered/boosted druids.
- imprisoned Mother of Serpents E4 D9 N4; same scales. While your blessed Boar Warriors lose their multi-attack with this bless, they gain magic AP death weapons instead (good vs glamored/ethereal troops)! Also, any damage inflicted by blessed casters will have 350% chance of causing afflictions (makes poison and other weak AoE spells much more debilitating). Adds easy access to magic diversity through Lamia Queens (Conj-6) and end-game Tartarians (Conj-9). Your pretender can heal afflictions, useful till you manage to cast Gift of Health (Alt-5), forge The Chalice (Const-8) or summon Faery Queens (Conj-8).