So I am now in my second game of CME and playing the DS. This is from experience in game 859, which is still ongoing, but in turn 16 or so at the moment. It’s going at breakneck speeds with 1 or 2 turns run each day sometimes.
Like I said in my other article, It is wise to plan out your first 5+ champions before you run turn 0. Think about what type of nation you want to run, in CME you have flexibility to run different strategies, such as a military blitz with armies, economy building, agent building, mage building, along with a mix of all. In this game I planned out my first 8 champions. After that I will react to the board.
For this game I am choosing to build an agent and mage focus nation and forgo building armies for quite some time. My goal is to find tons of artifacts and build super agents and learn the spirit mastery spells. Partly because, I think the spirit mastery artifacts in this scenario are completely broken and exploitable. With so few characters, a smaller map, less armies, and tons of artifacts, a curse squad or two can completely dominate the game by killing all the other sides champions and armies at the key strategic points on the map. I think this strategy works really well for the DS as you can recruit 3 70 mages in Sauron, Murazor, and Saruman very quickly. I also will make sure I get a couple of powerful emissaries to upgrade my pop centers to add to their defensive value and help my overall economy.
While I am playing strong agents, I will not recruit Ji. I dont think naming 40 agents is not that useful in the first 15 turns.
Guiding principles - Most if not all should have mage skill so I can maximize the number of Research Artifact spells per turn. I want to be casting 10-15 412’s each turn, as my plan revolves around good agents and finding the spirit mastery artifacts. I also want champions that are multiple purpose, have good artifacts for my goals (mages, agents, emissaries, pop centers).
In order of recruitment
Great mage, comes with a key strategic pop center at 3124, and great starting artifacts (+20E, +10A, +30M). He hits all my key priories listed above. He’s a homerun.
Lhachglin and minion Slyardarch
He is not the strongest character, but he meets my mage requirement and comes with a minion that can be used to recruit other NPCs and pickup artifacts. A good mage that comes with a very strong agent 40a/20s. With the starting agent arty from Lhachglin, I add 10s right away. Recruiting him takes a little extra effort as 2809 is more than 12 hexes away, so I learn Long Stride with Sauron on turn 1 and move to 2809. Between Murazor and Lhachglin I can now cast 11 412’s a turn starting on turn 3. You also get a nice hidden pop center to upgrade later.
Ren the Unclean
Mage and good emissary with two great SNA, teleport and scout at 50. Perfect for my running mages and the scout at 50 is a great bonus for champions who have an extra order to spare, which is frequently. Up to 16 412’s per turn if needed. I will give him Murazors emissary artifact to make him a 60 emissary with a plan to upgrade Minas Morgul to a city. He also comes with a Town/Fort.
Mage and good emissary and comes with +20 emissary artifact. Adds 5 more 412’s to get to 21 per turn if I need them. Usually I’m casting 10-15 as Sauron and Murazor are on LAT duty. Also comes with 10,00 gold and buy/sell SNA, but I actually dont think it’s that improtant. Gold has never been an issue in my two CME games and I had over 200k reserve very early in the game. I have natselled 50-k60k+ in product in single turns routinely. I also think this should be looked at, the market limit is too high.
Shelob and minions Lob, Cob, and Attercrop
First non mage character, so breaks my first rule, but is a good agent. More importantly are the minions, while they are pretty garbage characters to start, overtime and with the abundance of agent and stealth artifacts, some are bound to be decent. More importantly, recruiting Shelob last, nets me two characters above the limit for a couple turns. At end of turn 4 I have 12 characters. The baby spiders are great for running around and picking up the artifacts that I LAT with Murazor and Sauron. Generally I don’t need to cast more than 2 LAT a turn as you get a lot of crap and already assigned artifacts when you research.
I also named an agent on turn 1 to handle natsells each turn as this is critical to building your economy.
I decided to start at artifact number 20 this game, thinking maybe my opponent would start at 1 and not wanting to run into conflicts. But it’s just a guess at this point. I end up hitting Tinculin as number 32, so I identified it pretty quickly. I rush to the location along with my agents and was able to pick it up 1 turn before Elrond and Arwen show up, I saw them there as I placed a camp.
Mage, commander, pop center, and army. This is my first recruited army of the game. The turn before I hired one at my city/castle Minas Morgul. He can happily recruit and cast 5 412’s per turn. I have no immediate military objectives with him, besides to hold Moria while I upgrade it to a city.
Mage and 100 commander. See a pattern yet…Goal is to send him to Moria to help with the defense.
Plenty of combat artifacts to go around for everyone. I found Helkauine by then and with that he can pump out 3000 points of combat damage. Also comes with a +20 mage artifact and scout a 2X which is very helpful for my strategy.
Saruman and minion Grima
70 mage and comes with Isengard and a minion. I recruit him last to again go over the character limit by 1. Plan is to disband the army and start him on spirit mastery spells. This strategy is light on commanders, thus I had to disband the army. Would be very helpful if Grima has 10c…
This will get me to turn 15 and 8 champions and 16 characters on turn 10. This is what I planned before starting turn 1.
So in summary I will have
3 70+ mages for my first curse squad
5 50 mages for researching and fetching artifacts and second sickness quad.
2 60+ emissaries for upgrading pop centers and making camps.
3 decent agents in Gollum, Slyardach, and Shelob
lots of minions to help with finding artifacts, nat sells, etc.
So how is it going?
Pretty much to plan, I found Thôlogaer Ciryatano a few turns after Tinculin, so this accelerated my curse squad. I also focused picking up misc mage artifacts to boost my casting chances.
As i thought, the Spirit Mastery artifacts are way too unbalanced for this small scenario. With champions it is far to easy learn the spells and what would typically take 9 turns of research for 3 curse mages, can be done in 6 with one artifact, even faster if you have 2. All you do is issue two 705 orders for weakness, and one 705 order for sickness with your three champion orders. It is more likely than not that you will learn both spells. Then you can decide if you want to lean curses or pass the artifact to another mage. Since I had two artifacts, I chose curses. All my mages have teleport and I can bop around the board cursing at will. In one turn, I teleported to 2209 and recruited the Great Goblin with another character, then cursed and revealed the lone army commander and took Imladris with the Great goblin. Next turn I teleport to Minas Morgul to curse off Legolas, and then to Osgiliath to curse 2924 and 3024 for army commanders.
It was a very close game before my curses game on line with my opponent going military and developing a couple good agents of his own. He killed Gollum with Frodo and Ren with Legolas, but my curses just solved that issue and I don’t think it can be countered as I get my additional sickness squad online. I really think the spirit mastery artifacts should not be in the module or for my next game will ask for an opponent who voluntarily opts not to use them. Game is still ongoing, but I have a nice lock down and don’t think it is winnable for him.
That’s it for now, be happy to answer any questions.