Epic HotSeat Game 3P build Critique

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Home Forums Age of Wonders 3 Discussions Epic HotSeat Game 3P build Critique

This topic contains 13 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  marcuspers1 11 months, 2 weeks ago.

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    First time posting here, but have played AoW since the beginning and and have K’s and K’s of hours personally. As my boys’ aged, they also acquired insane hours, so let’s just assume everyone is well versed in game mechanics. My youngest (14), is NOT a number cruncher, so at a decided disadvantage against me and the 17 year old. Me and “D” (17) have our favorite builds, but Z (14) needs one. The goal here is NOT to necessarily make his build a hard counter to us, as I want him to play it elsewhere and SP too… so has to stand up as well to other general builds (everything has a counter, but you catch my meaning I hope).

    The game is XL Map, most things on “many”, distance “far”, defenders “maxed”, etc…. pretty much setup for uber unit showdowns and large empires, where tactics become more important than straight up rushes. We’re playing this one with these mods..
    Racial Heritage
    Extra Support Units
    Old Man & the Sea
    Beastman Dwelling
    Hero Development
    Hero Proffesions
    Triumphant Heroes

    Player Builds

    P1 “Z” (14, needs to be uber-ish… my build for him)
    Grey Guard Adept
    Wild Magic Adept
    Air Adept

    P2 “D” (17, VERY well played, but curious on better 3rd sphere)
    Keeper of the Peace Master
    Water Adept

    P3 “Dad” aka-me (pretty set on this)
    ShadowBorn Master

    We got the whole 3x alignment thing going which is thematically fun, but as we hope this particular game goes past 100 turns, we kinda want to make sure we can all hold our own. P1 is the “new” build for him, and the one that needs to stand up the most.

    Any opinions on this match-up? Again, First time posting, but both me and P2 are number crunchers and very well experienced 😉

    Critiques and Predictions Wanted! 😀



    Grey Guard is kinda number cruncy by nature. It requires full attention to keep your alignment without bounds. But it’s not impossible.

    I would say for the casual large empire appraoch, Warlord or Dreadnought might be the better classes than sorc. They have lots of economy boosts in comparison to sorc, which has only the reasearch one. They also make it a lot easier to just field a big army. Specs of course kind of depend on your class choice, but if treasure sites is on high, I’d pick Wild Magic Master for the CP from Hearts. Probably drop Air Adept there.

    for P2, you can try switching water adept for fire. Fire Adept is an amazing single pick spec, and gives you another damage spell (like Rain of Poisoned Blades, but fire instead of blight which makes it useful against a lot of other units, and you can even use it to help bring down a wall), and a summon (hell hounds are pretty strong, especially early on. ) Skin of Oil gives you a nice stat debuff, which rogue otherwise doesn’t have.

    Your only real loss is Freeze Water.

    Since it’s long game, the Dwarf Warlord is probably going to come out victorious. Rogue’s still have a good chance in the late game, but Sorc’s tend to be outgrown. You only have one Leader to summon units, but as a Warlord every city can build warbreeds or manticores. So that’s my prediction. Being dwarf reinforces that.(and is pretty much the build I’d have reccomended for someone like P1, since it kind of builds itself)


    Jolly Joker

    I think that the “3 alignment” idea isn’t working with these map settings. One of the main advantages of those specs is the ability tu summon a very powerful T4. This is fine for the producing classes Warlord and Rogue, but isn’t for Sorcerer, because a Sorc will always have enough to summon.
    The consequence of giving them 3 Adept specs is a disadvantage, because with this scope you need the powerful Master skills.

    Picking Dread instead of Sorc won’t work either; you’ll counter the Blight angle of the Rogue, but not the Fire angles of Drac and Dwarf.


    Jolly Joker

    Building on this, I would suggest as P1 an Elven or Tigran Necromancer with Destruction Master. Grey Guard Adept would be fine, but you might also take something else.

    Keep in mind that Grey Guard will squander the possibility to make good use of an Archon dwelling (due to them dedicated to Evil), though.



    P1 and P3 just finished a 2v2 large with P1 running a Dread against my Warlord build. It wasn’t even fun. No way a Dreadnought could succeed against both P2 and P3 builds.

    Necro is interesting but he really doesn’t know how to play that one and this kinda match is not where to learn lol.

    Interesting comment on not choosing a Master for the Sorcerer. I really don’t see what any master would bring to the table with this matchup. Both grey guard and Wild Magic adepts are just too good. Every single spell is very useful, whereas the master levels just don’t seem to bring enough.

    Water vs Fire for P2. We play Continents. Freeze water is huge for him and early scouting and clearing doesn’t really need the hound. Skin of oil is obviously great. That is his second pick for the little sphere and has played with it before.

    I’ll be honest, both me and P2 are scared of the Sorcerer build. We don’t have much to counter support stun spam (including the tier 3 support cavalry) and nodes with eldritch.



    I’ll be honest, both me and P2 are scared of the Sorcerer build. We don’t have much to counter support stun spam (including the tier 3 support cavalry) and nodes with eldritch.

    P2 got assassins which can one hit the support, and you can outswarm him. And late game, both can outmaneuver him on the strategic map, one through invisibility with Age of Deception and the other just by sheer number of armies. T2 support stun spam needs melee frontline to really work, so he can’t be everywhere – but with warlord discount and production, you CAN be everywhere at once (or at least, on a lot more places.)

    Also, he has to get lucky to get Ice Queens. Also, Elditch Horrors are quite expensive – 160 CP even with Age of Magic. Both of you can outproduce him. If you’re at like 8 cities, and it sounds like you’re gonna be on a few more, you can produce like 3 manticores for every horror.



    I was actually referring to the tier 3 support from the “extra support units” mod we use. It’s unique for each race but special ability, mounted with charge, and labeled support so in the sorcerers case, phase and whatnot applies. Greatly simplifies and accelerates production building for all support “built unit” armies.

    Age of deception is scary as for the morale war implications he likes to run but invisibility is a complete non factor. I usually spam the forge priest / first born combo and Sorcerer supports galore so true sight is pretty much everywhere anyhow. We fought him many times and know his shenanigans 😉

    Manticore spam is always a problem for everyone of course, but I’ve lost to P2 before when he successfully shadowstalker spams (and he runs his economy very well to do it). By the time I’m spammable, so are his stalkers at near enough the same rate. Not quite sure how he keeps up, but he does.

    Strategic map mobility there is always return army and moving your throne around options. Sorcerers can be extremely mobile on XL maps due to this. Turns are turns, and although perhaps not a fast response capable force, certainly tactically superior imho.

    All fair and good critiques, and maybe I’ll offer to switch with P1 so he’ll have it easier. A lot does depend on what RMG cities get offered up due to the lack of meat, but really against a dwarf warlord no one has enough meat.



    Age of deception is scary as for the morale war implications he likes to run but invisibility is a complete non factor. I usually spam the forge priest / first born combo and Sorcerer supports galore so true sight is pretty much everywhere anyhow. We fought him many times and know his shenanigans

    Those will see him, but cities still won’t. Unless you keep a parimeter around your land, it won’t suffice, probably.

    Stalkers cost half of what manticore does, so getting them in equal rates sounds about right. However, you shouldn’t -just- build manticores. Another advantage for P1’s grey guard with Cardinal Culling, in that case.

    And yes, sorc can be very mobile – but so are manticores, stalkers, and succubi. However, both of you will have more army than he will. Speed doesnt matter if you threathen 4 cities and he only got army to defend three – you’ll take one, and don’t even have to engage at the other opportunities.

    I do think that if P1 doesn’t like to complicated stuff, dwarf warlord is just about made for him. Warlord is all “just throw troops at it” (or at least, it’s the class that suffers least from it), and dwarf makes them that much more durable, at a small price premium. Manticores with Defensive Strike are awesome, and Warbreeds are always strong.

    Sorc, on the other hand, especially at the start, requires close attention to mana and CP, while elves kind of need attention in tactical combat. (due to lack of healing). So if it’s about just the builds, I’d say make the switch.



    After some group discussion here, we’re down to this choice…
    Air Adept vs Grey Guard Master…. I’ll get back to this 😉

    We’ve thought about the production handicap of the sorcerer a lot. Let’s assume once everyone’s economy is up and fully running (usually by turn 40 before spam can start reliably), and getting into the Dark Pact (he hits us with this before ours…always), Global Assault, and Age of Magic territory where we traditionally really “start” playing against each other. Note, this is unlike most games where any one of these means end-game…but we all reach them early enough that we ALL have to contend with each others’ ultimate stuff.

    Honest Warlord: 2x Manticores per turn.
    I could do more, but other units, garrisoning, monster hunters (navy!), firstborn, phalanx, etc. still need to be produced and even though sometimes it may seem like it, gold ain’t inexhaustible.

    Honest Rouge: 2-3x Shadow Stalkers per turn.
    Although this looks like he outproduces me, I run mixed armies that are more cost/production effective than pure manny spam, so the Warlord still comes out ahead in practice.

    So, now we’re “Honest Sorcerer”, which right now we don’t have one to be honest about.
    If we say strictly 1 Eldritch Horror per turn (with age of magic running), this leaves a crap ton of CP still on the table each turn. Math says it can come close to 2x per turn, but that’s not realistic due to being relentlessly out-produced. All that extra CP should make combat magic spam a legit factor at a 1x summon rate. This can get scary with “Leader not in battle” spells cast as base rate instead of doubled, coupled with the “free” CP to do it… every battle without making the hard choice on putting off whatever other spell is being cast another turn. Seriously, this is a big advantage.

    Sorcerer Build Combat Spells:
    Degenerate… simply the best single target de-buff
    Warp Equipment… Against a Dwarf Warlord, a huge cheap equalizer.
    Mass Stasis… Again, a Manticore PITA
    Chain Lightning… Shadow Stalkers Bane
    Static Electricity… Expensive, even with AoM running, but could decide battles.

    My point is, not like both the Warlord and Rogue don’t have very good combat spells each, the sorcerer can reliably cast the “big spells” while still maintaining at least one Eldritch per turn. The rogue is usually strapped enough for CP (focusing on the moral war), even Battlefield Panic gets reserved for Oh !@#$ battles, and the Warlord has upkeep, city spells, and angels he really wants to get one per stack, the sorcerer has that surplus to “win” against odds… or at minimum has that choice where others simply run out of CP.

    So back to the choice…. Air adept gives Seeker, which I personally think warrants attention, and Arctic Domain, which going nuetral and counting on mixed race cities can be a big deal, vs Essentially adding “Cardinal Culling” to the combat repertoire. Uber Spell, yes…but there’s a few master tier spells completely useless for the Sorc. The Chthonic Guardian is awesome, but inferior straight up to Eldritch. But of course, the grey angel’s use is in party and I’d probably choose 5+1 Eldritch to simply 6-up Eldritch.. so it may be worth the option.

    So dump Air for Grey Master? I hate to loose seeker, but given the need to guarantee the inevitable lopsided production war… I think maybe.

    btw, Warbreeds for P3 are kinda crap in this match-up… situationaly of course with death march and withstanding Glyphs of Warding, but otherwise stun locked, or frost aura’d into irrelevance.

    Ugh, thanks for the ear lol…essay over 😀

    Edit: forgot to mention 3x Adept Elf virtually guarantees “All Knowing”, whereas going Master Grey means it’s a fight again… although the Sorc should still get it in theory.

    • This reply was modified 11 months, 4 weeks ago by  Mr144.

    Jolly Joker

    Allow me to disagree with your arithmetics here.

    In reality the situation will be that each of you will control a large empire with many towns, whether you play with settlers or many cities. The minimum is probably two dozen per player.
    What happens in the game is that the Warlord has better class units than everyone else has regular racial units of the same category with the exception of Support. That means, that you can produce mixed armies, with all units profiting from MCUs and Global War. A Berserker produced in a town with a dungeon will be a Tireless immune to mind control charging, first strike beast with 77 HP and 19 melee damage plus killing momentum, and it will be dirt cheap. A Phalanx produced in an ancient ruis town will have 20+2 damage and have 95 HPs. A Manticore Rider will leave production with 140 HPs. Also, with Dwarves, many units will have Enchanted armor.
    So that means, your towns can spit out a host of superior units. You don’t need the CPs to summon additional units (although you’ll be able to as long as you are not engaged with your opponents). That means you CAN always leave your CPs for battles, and Bloodbath is a pretty massive spell to cast, but disjuncting Static Electricity may be a good thing as well.
    The Rogue is on comparable level. He can produce Drac Fliers (in Dungeon Towns), Stalkers, and Succubi (who can profit from support MCUs) and have very mobile strike armies which will be difficult to defend against. Also, Sadism is a killer spell, especially in big battles!
    The Sorc, however, can produce only racial units – and the apprentice isn’t much of a unit either with the extra support unit mod (which is detrimental to Sorcerer and most useful for Warlord who gets on equal footing with the rest in his only weak spot). That is, the Sorc has standard Elven units – mainly Longbowmen (with Focus Chamber, Unicorn Riders and Gryphon Riders), but the problem is, that the last two are Cavalries that neither profit much from MCUs nor from Race Governance. The Summons will be Node Serpent and Horror – they will be good, but he will have to have them on the map: once the war starts, he can either summon more stuff or have enough CPs to cast extended battle magic, but not both, Age of Magic or not – he’ll be able to support his racial armies with the odd additional Node Serpent plus BF magic OR summon Eldritch Horrors (and for those summons there aren’t many MCUs either to improve them).

    So – additional T3 support mod is something I wouldn’t play with against a Warlord on an XL map, that’s number one.
    Number 2 is that I wouldn’t play Elves as a Sorcerer against Dwarven WL and Drac Rogue. You get good supports as SORC, so actually the racial support is rather unimportant or should bring something additional. What you desperately need is a good racial PIKEMAN unit, plus, you need to counter the Rogue’s Stalkers’ immunities.
    Tigrans are an option – Sun Guards are pretty good T1 Pikes and readily available, which means, by the time you are at war you may have a lot of Champion X of them. Butchers are excellent. Goblins would need really expert play, though, in that combination (and Destructive Master would be mandatory: Blight Empire is a good thing against Dwarves and Dracs – also Goblins are at home in the UG, which seems important, considering the necessity to beat Dwarves in the UG if Sorc wants to win). Frostling’s Pike is massive – but Frostlings would be a real bloodbath against the Rogue plus, there isn’t much to hurt Stalkers.
    Lastly, Draconian Sorc would be good as well. Chargers get Regrowth (and have Charge), but I suppose, doubling is out (and boring), which would leave Tigrans as good choice.

    Necromancer had a couple of advantages – you can play Destructive Master with each race for Blight Empire, and that includes Elves, the ghouls of which will have an 80% blight protection.

    • This reply was modified 11 months, 4 weeks ago by  Jolly Joker.

    Jolly Joker

    On third thought – I’d also rather try Theocrat instead of Sorc. Not easy to handle, but worth a try. Elven Theo would be quite cool with Spirit and Shock channels.



    On third thought – I’d also rather try Theocrat instead of Sorc. Not easy to handle, but worth a try. Elven Theo would be quite cool with Spirit and Shock channels.

    Yeah Theo would have been the easier choice in the 3-way, but he plays it so much he said “no”

    Curious on your critique of the extra support mod vs warlord however. Have you run this mod? Forge Lords are great on elite (Global Assault) with Hammerfall, but even then meh and just a supplement to forge priests. A dwarven warlord has zero disadvantages in the support category even at base game.

    Between :Extra Support Units”…aka the “Chamber of Mysteries”, and the big “racial Unit Mod”… the Elf with Grey Guard comes outa that trade in spades.
    T3 Storm Maiden with double phase
    T3 Spider Queen with Greater Webbing Toch
    T2 Glade Maiden
    Race Storm Sisters
    ^^^ there’s mix and match with city upgrade bonuses that adds “tweaking” to each… and Shield of dissipation also applies to all. and those are all “supports”

    Then the others…
    Warden of Nature is a meat beast… rivaling shocktroopers… but those small weaknesses need to be addressed by a hero led party.
    BladeDancer… Ouch… Elvin answer to the Butcher easily.

    The point is is, not that these units can go 1v1, but economy. Following this build progression is natural for a Sorcerer. Normal Racial Units can be completely ignored, much less the usual class buildkng researh and build spreadsheet. I’m poor at explaining the math, but I really don’t think economy is an issue, and I almost think economy for the Sorcerer has an advantage due to lower tiers that are hard counters to higher tiers, with superior summons, and mana economy superiority as well.

    I offered the trade to P1, as I agree he’s better of with my Warlord build… but man…I think Y’all are wrong on this match-up

    • This reply was modified 11 months, 3 weeks ago by  Mr144.

    Jolly Joker

    I’m not sure abut all these mods and what they do with the game. I AM pretty sure, though, that additional and especially faster support troops are an inherent imbalance to the classes:

    Warlords have ONE racial unit they MUST build, no matter what (they may acquire more on big maps), and that’s the support unit. It’s an absolutely CRUCIAL unit, especially against a Rogue (but not exclusively so); you need True Sight and Dispel and you need the magic damage. You also need the support abilities, in this case the Flame stuff, giving +10 Healing.
    Racial supports have a disadvantage – they are slow, which is kind of annoying, since all your class units have at least speed 32 (and are generally preferable to their racial counterpart). Getting a racial support with better speed is invaluable and speed things up. That is the advantage the Warlord has.

    For Classes that come with a Class support (and both Sorc and Rogue do) that is different. I mean, look at the Arch Druid. The class units are Hunter and Shaman, and with the Long Strider Tech, your Archers and Supports become EXTREMELY mobile including the racial one; the mod gives the mounted supports only +4 movement, but that is beside the actual point. The point here is that the tech is devaluated, since everyone else can have extremely fast supports as well.
    Which means, if the Class support comes with additional speed – like the Succubus – this is meant to be an additional plus (for the unit and the class). Rogue is a lot about stealthily outpacing opponents – but if everyone can field mounted supports, you cannot stealthily outpace anyone anymore.
    In case of the Sorcerer – while Necro has a tech that gives ALL supports Heal Undead eventually, the Sorcerer doesn’t have a tech that would give Mend Magical Being to all supports (I don’t know whether the mod comes with such a tech, though; the correct thing would be to mod THE APPRENTICES to 32 speed at least, imo, but that in turn would make Sorc very fast). So the Sorc must build apprentices in order to heal their Serpents and Horrors (plus, they have a lot of firepower and get Phase eventually).

    (I don’t play the “racial heritage” mod. In my opinion the game doesn’t like additional racial units; the more important and varied the racial units become, the less defining the class units become.)

    About the economy. Economic advantage doesn’t matter much in late game, because you can build only so much at any given time anyway, and in the end, what matters is troop quality. Producing everything at gold medal is one massive advantage. As I said, those Dwarven Berserkers are pretty nice “mid-level” units – great fillers, immune to Charm and Seduce and quite cheap. 4 Berserkers and 2 Supports, all of them at gold medal are a pretty good “supporting” stack for 6 T2 units, and you must find a stack that can beat those. If you do, compare the costs. I mean, even a Dwarven AXEMAN will at that stage come with a 20 damage Defensive Strike – add Bloodbath, and, well.

    I mean, Warlord is the DEFAULT winner of your setup. ALL asymmetrically balanced games are balanced only within certain bounds, which should usually be the average setting. Imo, with 3 players (without AI players) with UG, MEDIUM map would be pretty big already. XL with UG is monstrously big for 3 and pretty much cancels out the advantage of potential “rushers”. Without any hero-XP-restraining mods you should all have level 30 heroes with 100% preotections basically everywhere at the time of war – plus, you have Resurrect Hero spell as well.. It’s a lot of build-up, and you’ll long have researched everything, and it’s basically about destroying everything with XP on Champion level, because only those can withstand the Warlord’s war production machine.

    I’ll give you an example. I’ve made a couple of mods myself and I play with them as well. One of those mods is an Arch Druid overhaul which includes evolves for all the Wild Animals they can summon. Dread Monkey, sillily enough, evolves to a Cockatrice, and since the mod also involves a Tech that lets animals and monsters learn XP +35% (and since I also modded the game in a way that it can work with those fracture XPs) I now (turn 70) have a Champion 9 Cockatrice with 192 HPs. This is an absolutely AWESOME unit … however, I also made a mod that increases the XP gain of AI opponents, and in this game I happened to defeat the Goblin Warlord a couple of turns ago (L map with UG, 7 AI Emperor opponents), and I can tell you I needed these types of units against Champion 2 and 3 Manticore Riders. Now, a HUMAN would concentrate on killing those, and to hell with the rest. If the handful of Champion X monsters vanishes, it’s curtains, because my economy isn’t worth much without the collected power of XP gain.
    Same is true for Sorc. How many Champion X Serpents and Horrors will he have until clash, and what will it take to bring them down? Because everything newly produced will be worth so much more for the Warlord than for everyone else.

    But don’t let that stop you. Imo, you can play with all settings and all combos – but you might play series of 6 games: play the 3 setups you want, then play them in all 6 possible combinations, and then see what has happened. You may get a conclusive result.



    Very interesting topic with a lot of useful input.
    One thing that have been forgotten is: 3 players of equal strength is a horrible setup, 2 stronger and one little weaker on the other hand could be a great setup. The point is that the 2 stronger will focus a little bit more on each other, while the weaker player gets a little bit of a smoother journey.

    XL map is not to be recommended though, large with UG is more than enough for the game to last 100+ turns, if that is the wish.

    I’m a bit late to the party, but instead of Sorc I would go for Tigran Druid. With a large map, and many treasure sites, the spell “Animalistic Knowledge” will give you well over 300, and most likely 400rp per turn, meaning you can out-research the Sorcerer with better end summons (Horned Gods).

    I would stick with Grey Guard adept, and maybe go for adept of fire (for skin of oil on SS/Manticore) combined with fire and spirit damage from Mystics. Tigran Shamans also have were bear, which will be useful in melee vs a Rogue and WL.

    Lastly, go for Destruction Adept and get Hasty Plunder for offensive sneaking attacks with a band of Hunters which have forrest concealment.

    Additional, Tigran Sphinxes works well with a fire adept spell, and will do nice damage on SS, while the Horned Gods and T4 animals will need to deal with the Warlord! Queen Spiders are also quite good, as they have 100% blight protection and can drain MP from the tougher WL units.

    To have a fighting chance vs Rogue and WL on a big map, you need to be offensive as you have access to befriend animal before you opponent have Charm or can create too good units.

    Good luck!

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