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Now, if you are playing CASTER of Magic, you have a slightly different situation. War/Life/Sling can be effective, but the enemy AI will aggressively counter you with spells like Guardian Wind (friendly unit is immune to missiles) and Warp Wood (enemy unit can’t use ranged weapon… because slings are made of wood…).
Difficulty in CoM basically effects the enemy wizards. Wandering monsters and denizens of lairs are mostly unchanged, and a Great Wyrm will wreck you on Easy or Insane. I would advise starting players to save scum dungeons because you don’t know the relative strengths of the monsters inside.
Genies, Efreet, Demon Lords, and Archangels are remarkably powerful, flying enemy spellcasters. Don’t expect to bring them down with normal units shy of elite, heavily buffed Magicians. You will likely have trouble with them until you have your own powerful summons on the field.
Great Drakes, Sky Drakes, and Great Wyrms are melee brutes that can easily dispatch legendary heroes in one or two shots.
Dungeons containing Phantom Warriors and Phantom Beasts are easy pickings for a group of archer-types… unless your scout failed to notice the invisible Air Elemental waiting to wreck your day.
The easiest start in Caster of Magic is 10 books Death (black), Conjurer, and Specialist. You will want to quickly summon armies of Ghouls. Ghouls fire life draining bolts that will annihilate most early game units (and late game Barbarians, which are terrible). Enemies slain by the Ghouls will rise as undead who will happily guard your cities without pay and without eating up all the tasty, tasty food.
While your undead empire grows, make sure to research increasingly powerful summons. By the end of the game, you want Death Knights and Demon Lords darkening the skies of Arcanus and Myrror.
So, if you are playing basic Master of Magic, the best starter strategy is to play Life magic (white) with the Warlord trait. Take Halflings as your starting race, tech up to Slingers, and use your magical buffs on the Slingers. When possible, attach a hero with Leadership to your Slinger armies, and you will eventually want the spell Incarnation to summon Torin the Chosen.
A stack of 8 fully buffed Slingers accompanied by Torin will basically annihilate any unit that isn’t immune to ranged attacks. However, they are so tough and lucky that they can march up to most of those threats and end them with their tiny hobbit fists.
Ah yes, Sid Meier’s Pirates! I played this game on the Amiga so often that I purchased nautical themed decorations to put around my computer desk for ambiance.
It is a game of sailing West to grand adventures, and then sailing East very, very, miserably slowly. Every expedition essentially has a time limit determined by the mood of your crew. If you are both successful, and have a small crew, your pirates are happy because they expect a large share of the booty. If you build a world-conquering fleet, everyone gets really unhappy very quickly as they realize that their share is tiny.
There is no “campaign,” as such. Each character you start has kidnapped family members to rescue, but it is not necessary to do so. The default mode of play is to be an English privateer who goes out and beats on the Spanish more than is strictly necessary. Alternatively, you can stay politically neutral and hunt pirates by listening to tavern gossip regarding the current locations of the 10(?) most famous pirates. Catching these scallywags gets you treasure maps to their buried hoards of plunder.
You can theoretically also play a peaceful merchant, but no sane person actually does this and I don’t know if the in-game economy is actually robust enough to support it. It doesn’t even really make sense, since all these colonies were founded to produce the same commodities by their European parent nations, and the game has no way to export goods back across the Atlantic. Random in game events affect prices (ST KITTS IS OUT OF RUM, WTF, HAX!- Signed, the Governor of St. Kitts).
For anyone looking to try it for the first time, here’s a few tips:
Land battles are usually a bad idea.
If you beat a town senseless, you can take it over and get big brownie points from the faction you give it to. To increase the chances of a takeover, pummel the garrison with your ship, then enter a duel with the fort’s commander. When your troop morale is highest, sit back and block attacks while the garrison’s troops are massacred. Get them down to one, then stab the commander.
You only need one combat ship. The rest can be merchant ships for carrying loot. The “Ship-of-the-Line” is the best combat ship.
Blowing up enemy ships with your cannons is amusing, but you don’t get any loot.
If you capture a nobleman, go to a friendly governor to collect a ransom. If you wait too long, the nobleman finds a way to escape.
When in doubt, choose the longsword and spam high attacks.