|This is a /v/ related article, which we tolerate because it's relevant and/or popular on /tg/... or we just can't be bothered to delete it.|
Dominions, 1 through 5, is a fantasy game about gods wanting to become the supreme lord of creation. And not the lazy, stay-at-home gods that get fat off prayer and nota blambrosia. No, it's about angry gods who are willing to take a shit on the entire world to become head honcho. Much like the Soviet Union, the various nations despised each other but were held together by a powerful leader known as the Pantokrator until he disappeared. By killing everyone else or claiming the Thrones of Ascension, they can become the true god. Your life is measured by your belief dominion (represented by white candles)and the number of provinces you control. Once you hit zero in either, it's game over. You may also lose if any enemy captures enough thrones of ascension, or win if you capture said thrones of ascension.
Anyways, what's unique about these gods and the factions they lead is that they tend to be more based upon world mythology and culture than your Tolkien-esque elves and dorfs (though it could be argued he stole it from Norse myth anyways). So there's your Irish Fae, Greek Hoplites, Roman Legionaries, German barbarians, tribes of Gaul(Ancient France), Phoenician demon-worshippers, Egyptian Lizardmen and their mummies, Irish giants, Norse giants, Biblical giants, Sumerian giants, Japanese oni, Russians, and more! The exception being most noticeably R'lyeh and their Aboleths and Illithids.
Add the fact that every, EVERY unit has its own stats, afflictions, sickness and status(simply like having thorns or being hungry or diseased, or regenerating, hundreds of unique statuses), the game rivals Toady One in terms of coding detail.
And yes, you can have totally ridiculous battles like Cthulhu vs Spanish Inquisition vs Monkeys vs Zombie Jesus vs Jewish Cannibal Giants of Apocrypha vs Tibetan Legendary Shadow Umbrals. And yes, you can cast totally ridiculous spells like making a second sun (or turning it off), freezing the oceans, accelerating time so everyone ages to death, poisoning all the magic in the world so horrible horrors eat all mages (except the bloody ones), etc. Battles in the game tend to start off pretty tame with small armies hitting each other using puny mortal sticks, then big armies throwing magic artillery at each other, and then huge armies led by insane ancient undead gods while the sun goes off or goes up twice, and entire cities are nuked off the map via horrors inspired by Earthdawn (Shadowrun's ancestor).
It's primarily a multiplayer game, since the AI was a moron to comprehend what to do and just throws shitty units at you...Until Dominions 5. Now it's competent for a knife fight in a phone booth ever since Dominions 5 came out but can't make thugs (Above-average leader units kitted with efficient magic items to be on par with a giant or a dragon, mass producable) or supercombatants (Insanely invested single commander units kitted with extremely powerful items, LITERAL one man armies. Cast Claws of Kokytos on one for extra trolling) It also has a small but dedicated modding community, with mods existing that nearly double the game's total content, and even some that port over factions from Warhammer Fantasy into the game.
- 1 Game Mechanics, a.k.a Why is /tg/ creaming its pants over this vidya?
- 2 The Magic
- 3 Factions
- 3.1 Ermor
- 3.2 Mictlan
- 3.3 C'tis
- 3.4 Arcoscephale
- 3.5 Pangaea, Asphodel
- 3.6 Mekone, Phlegra
- 3.7 Ulm
- 3.8 T'ien Ch'i
- 3.9 Niefelheim, Jotunheim, Utgard
- 3.10 Hinnom, Ashdod, Gath
- 3.11 Tir na Nog, Eriu, Ys
- 3.12 Ur
- 3.13 Caelum, Nazca, Ragha
- 3.14 Abysia
- 3.15 Kailasa
- 3.16 Machaka
- 3.17 Fomoria
- 3.18 R'lyeh
- 3.19 Lanka
- 3.20 Atlantis
- 3.21 Marverni, Marignon
- 3.22 Therodos
- 3.23 Berytos, Phaeacia
- 3.24 Sauromatia
- 3.25 Helheim and Vanheim
- 3.26 Rus, Vanarus, Bogarus
- 3.27 Man
- 3.28 Pelagia, Erytheia
Game Mechanics, a.k.a Why is /tg/ creaming its pants over this vidya?
Everything is turn based, and battles are concluded rapidly with a very complicated calculator which takes every bit of detail in every unit, formation and spell-to-cast.(which is like Dwarf Fortress on crack level detailed, but you need to pre-program a combat routine that can't be changed after end of turn). And we mean every unit with its uniqueness: yes, it is possible the 102nd nondescript human archer in your army might have his arm amputated due to a infectous wound from an incoming arrow or spell, and you might see him in a siege stabbing people with one arm if you actually care to read the details. Oh, every unit out of millions in the game has its own character sheet and experience.
Armies move like Heroes of Might and Magic series, heroes followed by armies that can be led with the leadership limit. The "heroes" themselves aren't necessarily badass, sometimes a dude with some leadership and maybe magical skills, but can be outfitted in every part of his body.
This is where the game goes crazy. Magic items are equippable items that can be produced single or multiple...that can be made of any stripe and stuck on the hero for crazy results: Like Chi boots and a shield on each arm can simply make your hero kick while blocking like a Muay Thai instructor.You can stick a third arm on his chest for another sword holder, or even replace his heart with a magical one. Maybe a crystal battery for magic, or a heart made from sacrificing several virgins, pumping with extra life, wither way giving him a chest scar for surgery like a magitek Frankenstein. If you have an Ettin, you can use two helmets on him, if you have a hero that lost an arm, better make a small dagger for the fella or make a replacement if he is valuable. Oh, you have a Hindu avatar with six arms? Put stamina boots on legs, speed amulets on neck and give him SIX SWORDS OF SWIFTNESS to make a threshing machine that eats curry and shits gamer tears. Every blow and corresponding protection is calculated for every unit in combat, like Dwarf Fortress. The amount of magic items, spells, abilities and status effects are in the thousands, impossible to count here.
You don't do much in terms of empire building. Basically it's the strategic map of Total War series where you buy units in each territory and attach them to heroes or leave them to defend. Your national units can only be raised in fortified territories, and you can recruit unique quirky units in territories you inhabit and if you like, add them to your national ones, for example Niefelheim giants joined with the local human territory's cavalry since giants dont come with fast horses but could use a few supporting swords. You can fortify a territory to boost production and buy national units, buy a temple for spreading your power(which is your primary goal), or laboratory for using magic and recruiting mage commanders at the said territory.
That's it, destroy neutral unit filled territories and spread out. The rest is up to you to be the One God.
There are 8 (technically 9, if you count Holy) paths of magic and 9 schools of magic. Magic rituals are fueled by magic gems (or virgins) and take a monthly action to perform. You get these magic gems mostly by searching the land with your mages for magic sites. Once found, they automatically generate these gems once a month. Most spells use mage's fatigue, and the most powerful ones use gems.
Summoning magical monsters, mainly. They vary from fire drakes to bane lords to otherworldly abominations. Most notably, the spell Tartarian Gate is in this school, allowing you to summon insane ancient undead gods to fight for you.
Changing yourself, do alchemy, warp the battlefield, or reality itself to fit your needs. Many buffs and debuffs are located in this school, like Ironskin and Petrify. The absolute gamebreaker spell is Wish, which has a rather wide utility. No, you can't wish to win. But you can wish for girls! On the safe side, you can turn fire and earth gems (magic fuel) into cash.
One of the schools that is pretty much mandatory, though getting it up to level 8 is sort of a give or take. It primarily deals in the forging of magical tools, weapons, and armor. There's also your giant golems and mecha dragons, which make pretty decent combatants.
Sorta a brother to Conjuration and Alteration, this school is notable for letting you flip the bird to all the other player through the use of global spells like flooding all the coastal provinces or drilling a hole to the earth's core to harvest its riches. Many mass defensive spells are also included from keeping your guys safe from fire, or shielding an entire province from enemy spells. Also, enchanting corpses to give them false life(as opposed to Conjuration which brings pre-existing undead from their native realm IE ghosts).
Good old pew pew. The school of zapping, burning, and icing motherfuckas. Start out shooting sparks and end with lighting the entire battlefield on fire. Out of combat spells include making a volcanic eruption, hurricanes, and tidal waves that all wipe out population.
The "gimmick" school. A lot of it is based upon fucking over or seizing another faction's magical or undead creatures and fucking units with low magic resistance. Most famous for the Communion spells, that allow your mages to combine their powers to become one mega mage.
Both a school and a path, it deals with mainly the summoning of demons. Demons are nothing to sneeze at and are a LOT harder to banish than undead due to having generally higher health and magic resistance. There are also spells that can completely fuck a nation's production through Rain of Toads or Send Horror. In the fluff this is considered heretical by the most nations and is the only magic you could call objectively evil since it requires human sacrifice - it uses virgins instead of magic gems to fuel its spells. You get virgins by forcibly kidnapping girls, and yes, the province will get unrest, you'll disrupt life and ruin people. Its spells however, are incredibly powerful, up to the point of poisoning ALL magic in the world or summoning greater daemons that run over entire armies.
The only school you can't research, as all the spells are researched already. While some nations have their own unique Divine spells, divine spells are generally casting blessings, banishments, and smites. Blessings are the real thing here, as depending on what your Pretender has for magic, it can either be a minor aid or the focus of your nation. Used only by priests, though some priests can be mages too, and now can cast elemental-hybrid prayers and blast their way to victory. Blessings only affect sacred units, however, the variety and availability of which varies nation to nation.
In the latest game, Dominions 5, divine spells get even more attention in form of hybrid schools, like water-proficient gods giving their priests power to drown land-based units, stellar-able gods' priests invoking starlight to burn undead and so on.
What does it sound like? Mainly oriented around flinging hot stuff at enemies, it's one of the premier paths for battlemages. Heat nations like Abyssia benefit from the battlefield wide spells like Heat from Hell and Fire Storm which fucks everyone without fire resistance. It is usually considered the
worst path, since it isn't very flexible unless mixed with other paths go-to path for facerolling non fire-resistant enemies. If your enemy is Abysia though, well...fuck it.
Every level makes the wielder more powerful in leadership and fire resistance but also reduces the wielder's lifespan before he starts getting old by a few years.
Water is flexibility oriented rather than being straight up magic Dakka. Often called the weakest path due to the fact that many of it's spells are only effective underwater or are completely uncastable unless beneath the waves. It does offer some pretty good ice based battle spells. When taken on your pretender god it provides great buffs for sacreds, and make its wielder more able to block melee attacks. If you're playing a cold nation, then spells like Murdering Winter, Niefel Flames, and Living Water (water elementals become ice elementals in colder environments) can trash unprepared armies pretty well. You can also UNLEASH THE KRAKEN, or summon a Troll King and his bodyguards who can swim in oceans, which in turn can summon more Troll Kings, resulting in a swarm of amphibian coral spear wielding, regenerating trolls that can take every oceanic territory and can pop up out of nowhere, so good luck landfags.
Air focuses on zapping fools with lightning and breaking minds with illusions, resisting lightning and flying around like a jet. Air battle magic is extremely powerful largely do to 3 spells, storm, storm power, and thunder strike. Storm completely ruins projectile accuracy and allows the casting of storm power, a self-buff that boosts air magic by 1, allowing air 2 mages to spam the otherwise hard to cast air 3 thunder strike. Call of the Winds is an incredibly annoying spell that sends a flock of giant birds to harass provinces. Spamming it in an enemy empire's tender, undefended provinces can snag his entire lands in a single turn.
Flying boulders and sharp blades when it comes to battle. Most notably known for having the best when it comes to forging and construction. You can also summon tons of trolls, just like the Troll King of Water Path. It is a premier battle magic path with amazing buffs and is powerful when mixed with fire since they have devastating magma spells. Each level makes the wielder's skin tougher by one damage resistance.
Revolves mainly around summoning big dudes (or many little dudes) that can take tons of damage, and then berserking and buffing the mofos. You can also summon tarrasques, and if you really want, you can make them tarrasque wizards with magic items on their bodies. Best part is every level of nature magic makes your caster feed 10 human sized units by sheer existence. Moreover, forging magical limitless wineskins and soup cauldrons make you support entire armies without draining territory supplies, fuck logistics and march through lifeless deserts to fuck your enemy's territories who thought they were safe. A crowning achievment of trolling is The Kindly Ones, who are three supercombatant women from Greek Mythology. Anyone who sacrificed a girl or is a blood mage will have to roll for Anal Circumference per month until someone kills them in nightly duels or dispels the spell. For even more trolling, cast Wild Hunt, a spell that causes the master of the fucking Wild Hunt (ie. the Horned God) and his minions to appear out of thin air and start assasinating enemy priests world wide!
Zombies, skeletons, disease, rot, spooky scary faggotry. Pretty much what you think necromancers are, sans the obligatory evil flavor. Some of the wielders are actually "good" like C'tis necromancers or enchantments that drain all the pain in the world, make everyone happy and give you free death gems, or practical like Late Age Agartha's necromancers which use them for domestic labor. It sees most use in hands of middle age Ermor and late age Lemuria, who use it omnicidally against the living. Spells mainly revolve around summoning undead creatures, manipulating the "corpse" resources in a territory, and if you feel evil, making the living die in mass numbers or draining life out of enemies... Is probably the second most powerful path after blood, especially in the late game, due to its ability to summon immortal Not!Ringwraiths and liches.
For every level in Death Magic for a commander, chances to get sickness and afflictions in old age is reduced, making the character a wizened old man who still looks spry and maliciously strong. Pass level 5 and the wielder scares approaching enemies into running away.
Speaking of neutral morality regarding death magic, it has a mundane spell to handle the dead like sending crows to eat dead bodies, turning the crows into death gems when fattened and keeping the territory plague free. Nifty, huh?
The "first" magic, and where you get all the smart technical spells like communions and luck, and artifacts that simply make specific actions more efficient. Mainly based around mind control and debuffs/buffs. Astral magic most often directly attacks the enemies magic resistance, ignoring armor entirely. Spells like Soul Slay and Magic Duel can be instant death to a single target. The true power comes from the super strong rituals like Wish, Acashic Knowledge (reveals all magic sites in a province), Gateway (mass teleport) Arcane Nexus (you get a fraction of all gems used to cast all spells), and Mind Hunt (assassination spell) are the big game changers. Best part is, however that Astral masters can easily forge magic crowns and sticks to supplement leadership and inspiration value of commanders, turning your shy, asocial platoon leader into a reincarnation of Creed that can lead magical beings by sheer force of will. Or forge a sacred linen that grants the wearer blessings of your god's powers even if he wasn't sacred to begin with. Yes, it works on giants, have fun speeding up ettins. While astral is reasonably powerful on its own, where it really shines is when combined with another path, since even one level of astral enables the mage to use the Communion spell to combine their power. Even a weak earth/astral mage, for example, when backed up by a large enough communion, can start dropping comets from the sky on enemy armies mid-battle.
Unusual as you don't require gems, but rather female virgins. Virgins can be found anywhere (more above 3000 population territories) as long as you got guys hunting for them. Since your people don't really see eye to eye with their daughters getting rounded up and sacrificed to infernal forces, you have to know how to juggle unrest and hunting so your income doesn't go down the drain. Blood spells are all in the Blood school, so you don't have to split up your research for it, which is useful considering it's a massive investment. Blood can do a little bit of everything. It can heal and it can hurt. But it's speciality is summoning demons, which are pretty beefy and cheap. Rain of Toads is also a good spell to completely fuck someone's income and recruitment in their most productive provinces. Claws of Kokytos/Infernal Prison will send someone straight to hell where they have a 99% chance of not surviving. And that's without mentioning you can poison the arcana with horrors from Earthdawn setting, or summon gigantic demon lords that can steamroll entire armies, seduce people to give their virgin daughters for free, cast unspeakable spells from a flail or kill thousands per night with diseases. Widely agreed to be the most powerful path in the game, especially in the late game, thanks to the fact that you can gather blood slaves much faster than anyone else can gather regular gems. When combined with death, it gets especially powerful, thanks to the ability to summon endlessly respawning vampire lords.
There are three ages in the game: Early, Middle, and Late. They progressively get more grimdark and less magical as time goes on. Mythical races get replaced by humans, the number of factions dwindles and steel becomes more common, along with death and blood magic. We'll put small summaries for Factions so you get the picture of what you'll be using.
They're essentially Rome right after they adopted Christianity as a state religion, complete with Jesus expy. The fire worshipers from before got kicked out and were replaced by the church of Eldregate. They tend to have better infantry than average, so they can mow through the early game pretty well. Their priests are pretty strong, and their mages have access to mainly fire and astral magic. They also enslaved lizardmen and learned a lot of death magic from them, leading to their state in the Middle age. Apparently resurrecting their Jesus expy leads to Death itself appearing. Oops.
In the Middle Age, they split into three factions. Sceleria, Pythium and Ermor. Middle Age Ermor is basically Rome, but with a zombie apocalypse. It is one of the most powerful nations in the game, and in multiplayer is generally dogpiled by everyone due to how dangerous they are in the late game. Also incredly frustating to play against unless you have nature magic, since the land in their dominions withers and dies, leaving behind a worthless hellscape with no value and with no supplies. Basically, if you are attacking Ermor in the late game on their own turf, prepare for a large portion of your army to starve to death unless you have nature magic. Regions held by it (and has the God's dominion over it) die off slowly, and the dead population is raised as zombies or ghouls with a side of replacable skeletons, and SKELETON LEGIONARIES OF ROME if a fortification is present. Sceleria is Rome but with undead kept under control through priests and put to work and fight back Ermor's own undead. Somehow manages to be even more powerful than Ermor. Pythium is Byzantine Empire, complete with magic Gregorian chorus and Eastern Roman unit designs. Late age Pythium is for some reason based on pre-christian rome, and has a bunch of heretical mystery cults that and snake/hydra worshipers.
In the Late Age, Ermor is finally destroyed by Marignon, Sceleria becomes Lemuria, a ghost apocalypse faction when its citizens wanted more free skeleton workers. Again, population dies, Spectral Roman Legions spawn. Because Rome is retarded like that.
Fantasy Aztecs, with all the religion and blood it carries. Rank-and-file are typical Aztec-expies with atl-atl javelins, maces, obsidian blades and spears. Important feature is their insane need for blood: every temple needs a virgin a month to function: which makes a nightmarish management problem compared to ALL other nations. They have a lot of sacred units though, fitting their religious theme which brings a lot of possibilities in blessing them with crazy powers. Nature, Blood, Fire, Water and Astral magic are available and every priest is a capable battle mage as well.
Middle Age turns them good...ish as blood magic is banned, and a new ruler named Lawgiver (who is a kind-hearted Couatl in disguise) turns the kingdom to a better place...not for long. Standard light-to-medium Aztec soldiers, again. Most notably the powerful blood magic from EA is exchanged for temples that function without sacrifice.
Late Age has refugees from Atlantis taking over, seen as Rain gods they use their power re-enact the blood cult. The lawgiver is defeated and exiled, and virgins are being butchered again. Sacred units are now includ Atlantean Rain Warriors, showing that being a woobie is no excuse for being an asshole.
A race of Egyptian lizardmen that perform necromancy. Unlike most races though, they tend to perform it responsibly and know when to show limits. Doesn't mean you can't cause accelerate aging in the entire's world populace and have them die off in a few years, but all fair's in love and war amirite? They're lead by powerful priest-kings and Sauromancer mages. For troops, they have your skink-like lizardmen soldiers and the more dinosaur-like slaves troops. Got pwned by Ermor earlier and was forced to teach them said necromancy. In Middle Age they have a swamp theme, with poison guilds and fucking strong crocodile anthro warriors named Sobek. In Late Age, they go back to old Egyptian theme with mummies.
Ancient Athens side of Greece. No hoplites yet, but heavy myrmidon infantry, chariots, and pegasus riders. Their mages are very powerful, and are great and sieging and defense. One of the more unusual commanders is the sceptic, essentially a stealthy atheist that reduces dominion. Compared to other nations, not much changes in Middle or Late age, though they are kinda based on Alexander's Macedonia in Late Age. Oh, also elite sacred units after the early age are Theban Lovers' Brigade: literally gay men buttfucking each other(and can't be seduced by succubi).
Furry, horny, drunk side of Greece. Satyrs, Fauns, Pans, Dryads. A literal faction of Greek Monstergirls (their menfolk are also monsterboys), with Satyr rank-and-file, Harpy scouts, Minotaur heavy hitters and Dryad and Pan priests. Pans are ram-headed Otherkin who attract naked women who go nuts and charge at the enemy.
Asphodel in Middle Era is like Ashen Ermor mixed with misanthrope hippies, forests slowly killing all civilized people and bringing them back as plant based zombies, with Death Magic being on the menu. Pangaea itself is always present and separate, however, getting more civilized throughout the ages but remaining primitive compared to humanity.
Sparta 300-Cyclopean side of Greece, with a good backstory and decent unit build. All Spartans are Giants bigger than Jotnar, and have a heavy backstory of hating all Gods. They have a hilariously funny missile unit who is basically a nude olympist who throws bronze discs without breaking aesthetics. The rank-and-file (chaff units) are Helotes, state owned human slaves, and Krypteia, slave murder season is a game mechanic. Still, the giants allow their humans to be freed with enough combat service and give them good living standards(another game mechanic, Helotes leveling up get more upkeep and remove slave status), so it's hard to find a decent pragmatic villain faction like this. Their national spell is Gigantomachia, which starts to scare all enemy Gods' believers, increase giant training rate and make all weapons capable of harming enemy divine creatures easier. Their capital province has the Cyclopes who increase metal production and help you steamroll the enemy with giant hoplites.
They are hit with the ugly-retard stick in Middle Era and become Phlegra. Utterly fucking deformed and mentally unstable, all Gigantes are now disheveled, potbellied retards who hit hard but are armed with sharp sticks. Humans are treated like shit, no hope of freedom and no decent living standards, and horrible equipment. On the other hand, human opressors, descendants of rogue Theurgs of Pythium are true rulers of the Phlegra. They mastered the art of enslaving mages using slave collars that turn unfortunate slaves into perfect communion batteries. Powerful (but potentialy suicidal) communions, good crafting, cheap numerous and solid line troops and one of the best supercombatant chassis in the game are all strong points of MA Phlegra.
Everything's even more fun in late ages. The oppressive Tyrants just disappeared, well deformed spartan giant ones anyway. Cyclopes, far less skilled and civilized than their ancestors, became new head honchos of Phlegra after the human rulers needed their help with a rebellion. Oppressors still rule from the back seat, though a bigger back seat now, whispering "advices" to the cyclops rulers who run the military and the smithing business. After years and years of experimenting, the human rulers mastered the art of crafting magic slave collars, exceptionally strong and brave slaves are now "promoted" to unbreakable cannon fodder controlled through magic, and magical neck laden explosives. But that is not all...fun begins after ~2 years in game, when the volcano in your capital explodes, killing thousands, and then THEY return... You thought hobo Gigantes were bad? I present you Laestrygonians, titanic monstrosities of scales and hatred. Basically they are the -again- losing Gigantes with *extra* mutations, locked up under the mountain until it breaks apart so that they can blow off some tardrage steam. Off the scales stats, combat caster traits, abnormally powerful fear aura, access to the best magic paths for supercombatants usually makes them most powerful unit on the battlefield, as well as being water-breathing, boulder tossing, hair and -twice- legstriking giant with "berserker" trait, a sack of boulders and a giant log, easily steamrolling every neutral in the vicinity.
Mechanically, LA Phlegra has the same strong points as MA counterpart, with even more focus on powerful supercombatants, and more manageable middle-grade giants that don't murder population randomly. And even their weedy human slaves are decently outfitted, there's crossbows for heavy duty armor breaking, supported with unbreakable magic controlled soldiers and Mouflon cavalry, basically giant sheep cavalry that provide milk on the go, so Phlegra is a serious powerhouse. Of course, you can always turn it up to eleven by casting Gigantomachia and recruiting the Laestrygonians as foot soldiers, 3 giant per turn to make the rank-and-file even more Cheese.
Oh, the Laestrygonians are led by their first Lae- fuck it, Legsnake dude (Maybe Laestriwhatever's legsnake for Greek, sounds similar) Enceladus, who is himself an even beefier, crazier, faster Legsnake.
Germanic barbarians in Early Age. They field all kinds of leather-to-scale armored units dual wielding axes and swords. They can also recruit Steel Warriors, which are very Conan(The movie version though). One of their 3 mages specializes in construction magic, but their commander units aren't that great at fighting anyways so pimping them out is a limited option. Unless you summon a powerful creature and give it equipment to make a duel wielding, regenerating, never tiring, 2 extra mechanical arms with shields having, magic self buffing, flying, iron skinned, awe inspiring, terrifying, bat-shit insane, way to many resources leeching, undead god. Well, maybe not all of that stuff but at least like, 5 of those things. The real strength in ulmish forging isn't for it's warriors. Magic belts can reinvigorate mages so they can cast more, bottles of fire will summon fire elementals to every battle, magic owl quills help with research, and all of them cheaper for Ulm than anyone else.
In Middle Age, they are boring as fuck, now Medieval Germany without technology, but simply crossbowmen, cavalry and usual heavy armored dudes, their spellcasters either magical warsmiths, or dark, glum Catholic-expy priests that use Earth and Fire magic. No sacred units, people don't give a shit about God and just get on smithing.
But if you're not a faggot and can appreciate the simple things in life, having the best army in the game with full plate for everyone and amazing battle mages with forging even cheaper than EA ulm is pretty fun. Watch and laugh as your enemies mighty spells bounce off of your earth buffed heavy infantry. You might get totally blown out by most other nations in the late game though.
In Late Age, shit hits the fan. Some dickhead cast a curse on Ulm, making full of Vampires, ghouls, and wolfs. Now the heavy cavalry are religious sacred units, there are ghoul halberdier guards that cut through enemy sacreds better than just about anything, there is a vampire hero as a Dracula-Expy and gypsies can be recruited in the capital. So, there is a kind of Romanian-German mix going on there, complete with dark forests, bandits and grim rangers marching alongside evil Templars from Darklands, German cannibal ghoul guards, supported by Illuminati wizards, grimdark Catholic expy priests, werewolves and legendary vampire counts, making Ulm not boring and FUCKING AWESOME GRIMDARK GOTHIC HOLY ROMAN EMPIRE.
Warring states era China in Early Age. Units are boring but practical; Pikemen and spearmen with shields to hold the line, archers for dakka, glaives to deal with giants and other high-HP creatures, horse archers to harass the enemy, and noble charioteers to break the enemy line. Armored from leather, to light scale, to heavy scale. The big selling point is that their mages have magic from every single path besides blood. Easily one of the most versatile nations, throughout all ages. They also have a powerful sacred warriors of the five elements, notably of only one variety, all the elements.
In Middle Age, it's the fucking Imperial China, with perfectly ordered and regular units, as well as sacred cavalry who are one of the thousands of bastards of the Emperor, and incredibly diverse spell users who got every last technical gimmick available from alchemy to affliction healing.
In Late Age, it's Kublai Khan's China. Elite sacred cavalry that launch screaming arrows loaded with negative energies, slightly less orderly Imperial Army and 3 kinds elderly preist mages resurrecting ancestral worship. Now recruit able anywhere, that means even without forts, are incredibly good Mongolian cavalry and their high leadership khan leaders.
Niefelheim, Jotunheim, Utgard
Norse ice giants. One of the most powerful nations in the Early age, specifically because of the dreaded Niefel frost giant, which come in commander and basic unit varieties. The Niefel giant and his commander counterpart, the Niefel jarl, is the size of an elephant and can take on entire provinces by themselves due to their cold aura which simply freezes incoming soft units to pieces. This allows them to expand at unbelievable speeds, also known as a "Niefel rush". Besides the Niefel giants, they also have their smaller (but no less huge) Jotnar cousins. Since they live in extreme cold lands, spread your power and cool the world for trolling Abysia; they will do the same to you. Get ready to find nature magic casters for producing food generating items: Jotnar eat a LOT.
In Middle Age, it becomes Jotunheim, with small Vaetti goblins as small unit screening for the huge giants: about fucking time they got screeners for their walking tanks. Not many other changes. The tiny goblins are recruitable in forests outside of forts and up to 2 can get in melee alongside a giant in each sqaure. Don't forgetti your vaetti!
In Late Age, it's Utgard, Vaetti replaced by humans, and giants are less common. Human witches, Seithkona replace most casters, vikings et cetera.
Hinnom, Ashdod, Gath
Biblical giants OP as fuck, or easily swamped depending on the situation. From the smaller Horite cave dwellers and civilized Avvim, to the larger Rephaim, to the humongous Nephilim, the theme of Hinnom is cannibalism and blood magic. The Avvim giants are eaten by their larger children, the Rephaite giants, who are in turn devoured by their larger fathers, the Nephilim. Their units are well armed and armored with the addition of spammable Enkidu and Horite meatshields, tempered with blood magic, their downside is that their elite units and commanders eat people, gobble up supplies, and cause unrest. Fortunately (or not) said elites are the most badass in the game, but even the cheapest rank and file is a superhuman giant that comes with supplementary javelins to skewer incoming enemies. Since javelins are stronger the thrower is... They can also summon the badass fallen angel lords of civilization such as Azazel in the late game. It costs 177 innocent female virgins to summon one, and it's worth it.
Middle Age Ashdod has the Nephilim and their daddies, the Grigori permanently sealed in Sheol. Anakim, their descendants become less Edgy, don't eat anyone, and basically giants degenerate a little. Humans are now migrating, and enslaved and put to work. Necromancy is now common, and not only Ditannu, undead Anakim can be summoned, but also kind, righteous beings that heal everyone and spread peace and justice, Old Testament angels with four faces, or flaming wheels with eyes. Bashanite Rephaim can go berserk, and you do NOT want to face a berserking giant with horns and a big fucking sword. Their sacreds are the best early game sacreds in the game to the point people will often dump every other ability on their pretender just to go for a memebless strat were they rush the nearest player and snowball from there.
Late Age Gath is back on the blood magic evil bandwagon. Humans are now twelve Jewish tribes (down to Benjaminite tribe which is spared genocide), free and working alongside their former enslavers, the morons. All the twelve tribes and giants practice human sacrifices to the same God that brings merciful angels and heals people, even though the said God struck down the Nephilim for their evil and turned Hinnom to Ashdod. You can even be the last Nephilim who summons angels but rapes and eats them.
Multiplayer doesn't see Hinnom as much since its admittedly brutal units tend to get swarmed by smaller units due to size and resource inefficiency, but Gath has holy human sized warriors to screen said giants, so it's more liked. Hinnom's lore is basically taken directly from the Book of Enoch and the Book of Giants without much modification.
Tir na Nog, Eriu, Ys
Irish elves. All of them are invisible on the strategic map, and have a glamour that makes them incredibly hard to hit in melee. Their magic is relatively simple, mainly focusing on nature and air magic, but is still incredibly strong as they can blast you with mass lightning, or buff themselves so that a well equipped elf commander can take a province single handedly. Are considered to be dicks generally.
In Middle Age, they are Eriu, and Kher-Ys(which is spoken like Caerys, yes, the Eldar Farseer). Eriu is basically same Tuatha nation now less powerful, by Kher-Ys is a real powerhouse and interesting nation. Home region is underwater but EVERY unit is amphibian, have amphibian Abe Sapien expies as underlings, and themselves became Merrow, water fairies, whose Princesses ride flame-breathing amphibian fae horses that hit like a truck, have an inbuilt, infinite ammo flamethrower and a GOLDEN lance. Holy shit.
Good old Sumer (Babylonian in later ages). Take Enkidu from Gilgamesh, and make it not one man but a race of them. Then put the Epic of Gilgamesh, make every character "an" Enkidu, and you get the picture.Their King and Queen commander units need to fuck in spring once a year, so if you don't keep at least one King and Queen commander in the capital, people will be sad. Yes, their royals must bone in public for happiness which is a historically accurate custom (And they say Middle East doesn't have good culture). The rank-and-file waves Bronze axes and spears, with supporting swamp tribal archers and shamans for enormous food and nature magic bonuses. Not too shabby, not too great either, their strength comes from the fact that Ur can support enormous supplies with Enkidu shamans and their people are 20% stronger than a baseline human. If you need more info, look at Ancient Sumer. They got Sirrush, wingless swamp dragons as sacred elite units. One good part is their clerics can mourn HARD if your God dies in combat, bringing back your dead god avatar earlier.
In Middle Age, the cities unite, and the iron age comes in full force a la Hittites, with similar chariots and shortswords, and astral magic added to the arsenal. Good thing is now they got a fuckhuge chariot drawn by a Sirrush-dragon and spear wielding sacred girls. Bad thing is, Enkidu shamans aren't as powerful anymore, so you need more micro to spam nature.
Caelum, Nazca, Ragha
Caelum is a nation of weak troops and strong mages, all with high mobility (since nearly everything flies). They have excellent access to Air magic, lesser access to Death, and minor access to Fire, Earth, and Water. Many of their troops resist cold and have extra Protection in cold.
They have two lines of national summons based on the good and evil spirits in Zoroastrian mythology. The good line requires Astral, which the evil line requires Death with a Fire crosspath; neither is accessible to any recruitable Caelum mage, so if you want access to these, you will need to create a pretender with S, D/F, or both. The commander summons in both lines are mages who provide an excellent and useful selection of paths. In Middle Age, death wielding crow-winged Harab Caelians are exiled and Seraphs take charge. In Late Age, Harabs return violently and kill the Seraph leaders, taking over the helm.
Notorious for an entire nation of winged people, they shatter as soon as you breathe on them but can move fast as the winds. Sub-nations are:
Nazca, basically Inca people who receive the exiled Harab Seraphs and assimilate them to their necrocracy. Sentient mummies who love money lead the nation, human Inca soldiers and flying Caelian refugees fight side by size. Generally regarded as OP as fuck, due to being able to spam tons of sacred condors and ghosts. They also have one of the most powerful (and also one of the most expensive) mages in the game.
Ragha, fantasy Seljuk Turks-Iran combined: Caelian refugees from wars between Caelum and Abysia settle down with refugees from Abysia and establish a dual kingdom. Turan, the Abysian descendants are a plenty when the air is hot, and when it's cold, Seraphs are prolific meaning you get to recruit Turan elites in summer, and Caelian elites in winter (assuming you keep your dominion weather in the middle). Turan are half-Abysians that chop you up and hit like a truck but are cheap and fast, Caelians are described above. Have one of the most powerful sacred units in the game.
Elemental King Rhuax's children, literally beings made from lava. So they can't use cheap weapons, but have to use steel heavy plates and giant fucking axes. It's as amazing as it sounds, so you can say the faction is "lit as fuck" or "their mixtape is fire" as your religious influence itself turns the world so hot that snow will be nonexistant. Huge fucking lava men and women are Mage-Priest multiclassed leaders, but there are also warlocks who promise more power by using... blood. So you can field cheap sword fodder servants made from breeding women and demons with Abysian blood by the ton as well...But you will realize that mixing demon blood with purifying flame isn't a good idea. Summon sun-and-fire hating Heliophagii and check out their description. (Spoiler: They have sent one of theirs to Abysia to extinguish Rhuax' presence by corrupting the kingdom from within)
Fight Niefelheim and start heating the world for extra hilariousness.
Kailasa is a realm of intelligent apes ruled by Yakshas and Yavanas, divine beings living on the Sacred Mountain of Kailasa. On the sacred Mount Kailasa, beings from an earlier era still linger. They are blessed with mystical powers but are few in number. With the emergence of the New God they have mustered aid from a most unsuspected source. Deep in the forests below the Sacred Mountain, apes of uncanny brightness have evolved. The apes are uncivilized and have only recently mastered the mysteries of metalworking. Basically Planet of Apes led by buff, shiny Hindu homosexual spirits.
In Middle Age, the shiny faggots are gone, so white apes are hermit kings leading the nation. In Late Age, they have Naga Princes and Princesses leading them. Not much changes otherwise throughout ages.
Machaka is an old sacral kingdom divided into totemic clans. The clans follow their totemic spirits and worship them as bringers of civilization and tell myths about their interactions with men. For centuries the Lion Clan has dominated the others and formed a unified kingdom under their wise rule. The Lion Clan is blessed by Lion and are superior to other men. The Great Men of Mababwe(definitely not Zimbabwe), called 'Colossi' by Arcoscephalian historians, have ruled the plains since Hyena was coerced to teach metalworking to men and Rhino was defeated by spears longer than his. From Great Mababwe, the semi-divine Colossi of the Lion Clan rule their lesser kin as sacred Kings and Queens. There are many totemic clans, but some have been more influential. Hyena, Rhino, and Spider all serve Lion with their totemic masters' skills and guidance. Fantasy Zulu with animal tribes banded together. The Spider Clan takes over in Middle Age, Compe Anansi literally doing a coup. The Lion Tribe is now homeless and destroyed, and spider cavalry is the dominant force.
The bountiful land of Fomoria was claimed by giants who once guarded the dark and stormy ocean realm of the drowned dead. With death ever near, their loyalties had changed and their malice grown. With the ascendancy of a previous Pantokrator, they were punished for their sins and banished from their dark home. The full effects of the Curse became evident when the Fomorians settled in a fertile land. Their offspring were short and cursed with monstrous appearance. The few surviving Fomorian giants saw their once proud race degenerate and die. Then came the Invasions. Partholonians, Nemedians, Fir Bolg and Tuatha all claimed the land of Fomoria. Twice the Fomorians were all but defeated by foreign magic, but twice they conjured a plague that slew the invaders. The third wave of invaders, the Fir Bolg, accepted Fomorian rule and aided the giants in defeating the Tuatha. Now Fir Bolg compose much of the Fomorian population. Fomorians are skilled shipwrights, powerful storm crafters and have a legacy of mastery over the dead.
Basically quasi-viking'ish, Irish ugly giants and Fir Bolg, bearded forest folk. Since they are bearded, they are not gay, and therefore, not Elves. Once again, taken directly from Celtic mythology.
In the deepest of oceans lives the strange fishlike race called the Aboleths. These beings are highly intelligent and the older Aboleths called Mind Lords can enslave lesser beings with the force of will alone. Having this power means they have enslaved Mermen and Deep Ones to do the daily work and to fill up the ranks of their armies. In a deep gorge the enslaved workers have built a score of small but magnificent cities for their rulers. In this gorge live the greatest of the Aboleths. Shore regions, if fortified, can train Androleths, Aboleth spawn inserted in human bodies for a painful puppeteer warrior.
In Middle Age, a star smashes into R'lyeh, bringing...You guessed it, Illithids! They replace Aboleths, but one or two linger alive, and don't mind rolling along with similarly brain raping amoral assholes from beyond. Not much changes, but the new bosses are amphibian and can blast your brain either way. Shore territories, when fortified, spawn free half-spawn, Deep Ones from Innsmouth, and can pay to train stronger half-spawns with armor.
In Late Age, it's Middle Age with an extra twist: population dies in your Dominion, and is "raised", brought to your army as crazed Cultist swarms. Have fun juggling 100 territories in multiplayer and get starvation reports when no one tends the fields and busy drooling and chanting and shitting themselves, including your leaders, and eventually even your own God! Yes, madness is a mechanic in game, every turn your insanity rating may cause your leaders to freeze in their province and shit themselves, babble, or jack off, and no, it's not R'lyeh specific. Your commanders who eat mercury as a Chinese cure may grow younger...or go nuts. We told you the game has every cultural aspect in history!
On the dark and densely forested island of Lanka, Rakshasas, demon ogres from an earlier era, still linger. Gifted with tremendous strength, they once fought the Devatas of Kailasa, but since then the most powerful of the Rakshasas have left this world for the Nether Realms. The remaining Rakshasas have captured and enslaved the monkey people of Kailasa and made them serve as warriors, hunters or food. The Rakshasas had no use for the peaceful White Ones and Kala-Mukhas, Rakshasa halfbreeds, lead the monkey people of Lanka. Since the enslavement of the apes, the ancient conflict between the Devatas of Kailasa and the Rakshasas of Lanka has been renewed.
Basically not-gay Kailasa remake, with badass demon monkeys. Sacred units in every territory, and priests can raise random dead as a pastime. Free undead spam screening ass wrecking demon monkeys led by demons that don't need food. What fucking else do you want?
For centuries the seas have been the domain of the Tritons, but recently a nation of beings resembling a cross between fish, frog and human has emerged in the deepest gorges of the oceans. The race is not entirely unknown, for there are a few of them who have made shallow coastal reefs their home, but the Triton Kings never imagined that they were numerous or powerful enough to form a nation. These Atlantians of the deeps never stop growing and will live for several hundred years unless killed. The Atlantian society is organized in a strict hierarchy of size and age. The oldest and most cunning Atlantians have made themselves kings and queens of The Basalt City in the deepest reaches of the ocean. The Atlantians of the deeps use weapons of enchanted basalt made by the Basalt Kings.
In Middle Age, R'lyeh destroyed the Basalt City so they relocated. Refugees also settled in Mictlan(Aztecs) and Xibalba caves(Mayans), the latter turned real frog-like, named Muuch people by locals.
In Late Age, R'lyeh destroyed their new city, AGAIN. Now they are seriously barking mad, turn into Inuit-themed death cultists who stole ice technology from Caelians and settle on a frozen shore, intending to destroy R'lyeh while riding undead polar bear cavalry. If you return to the seas, you get madness-resistant priests and mages who were hiding and training against R'lyeh's void power.
Marverni is a nation of tribal 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 tribes use it. Lowborn 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. Basically Asterix' Gauls. Now with Sauromatian Magic Tattoos!
In Middle Age, Roman...err Ermor conquest makes them into Feudal France with Inquisition and gilded knights and oppressed peasants. But now that Ermor is a zombie apocalypse, it's up to them to fight who civilized them earlier. Like Ulm, with higher morale and standard Medieval Catholic attire.
In Late Age, they go full Grimdark(As do most of the Late Age nations to be honest). Using Ars Goetia, they make pacts with demons to destroy undead Ermor. OK, Ermor is gone, now what?
It's Satanic Catholic Hypocrisy time! Religion is the same, but on Sunday, churches sacrifice virgin girls in public to scare the populace and instill order. Demons are regulated, the same Inquisitor who would burn you for witchcraft would let a Demonologist snatch your daughter and kill you for interfering. Ships are sent to the west to convert heathens, and snatch a virgin or two to feed to the demons.
Cretan Empire post Theran eruption. Illwinter sure does his homework.
The Telkhine empire of Therodos was vast and powerful, the Telkhines themselves were almost god-like beings which had the appearance of giants with dog heads and seal flippers for arms whom had the less powerful but still significant Daktyloi as servants, whom in turn were served by the humans of the region.
To give the brief of it, the previous Pantokrator thought the Telkhines were getting too big for their boots with their investigation into death magic, specifically a concoction using sulfur and water from the river Styx that killed vast swathes of animal and plant life. So he first cursed all those Telkhines involved with an aura mimicking their concotion(The Telkhine Malediction), then decided it was not enough and banished all but the non-involved Telkhines(three), plus sunk the islands of the empire.
Fortunately the Daktyloi were amphibious, and the ghostly human dead refused to be dead due to ignorance, so they set about rebuilding the empire from one tiny little sunken island. Crunch wise, it's a nightmare to play as you use living economy and units but your realm kills population, and every national unit you recruit is sacred. Interesting design but fuck-all viability in big maps.
Disregard that I suck cocks. After the update they have become downright powerful, now they can build forts to spare most of the population, their specials don't need as much money, and even their wizards are quite capable of surviving themselves. Plus they have magical fumes in the battlefield all the time to poison the enemy with freespawn ghost warriors, so they have become a considerable force.
The people of Berytos are the descendants of a civilization created by the Telchines, titanic storm demons defeated by a previous Pantokrator. The Telchines taught shipbuilding, sailing and metalcrafting to the human ancestors of Berytos. When the Telchines were defeated, the humans fled to the sea, led by the Storm Callers, disciples of the Telchines. With the knowledge of ironcrafting and the magical might of the Storm Callers, new colonies were founded on distant shores. Like a phoenix, the dying empire was reborn. But the Telchine gods were dead and the humans sought divine leadership. They found the Melqarts of Hinnom. One of the colonies was situated near Ashdod and the bloody cult of the Melqarts soon spread through the Phoenix Empire. In the capital colony of Berytos, a great temple to the Melqarts was built. But soon another power found its way into the cult. Refugee Colossi, great men of the Machakan royal family, arrived in Berytos and established themselves as rulers of the bloody cult. Their sorceresses claimed divinity and called themselves Brides-in-Waiting. Now Berytos is a seafaring people led by sorcerer queens from the great temple in Berytos, and ruled by King Ba'al Hammon of the Melqarts and Queen Makelo, one of the three remaining Telchines.
In Middle Age, Berytos is pawned by Arcoscephale and Phaeacia is founded by surviving Machakan Lion Men and refugees from both Berytos and Mekone. An Island kingdom, it's a crazy gameplay with Phaeacia as your God's dominion freespawns magical black ships that transport all units across seas as long as the majority of a region believes in you, letting you conquer EVERY shore in a year if you build underwater temples at shores as well. Pirate Carthaginians married to giant Africans who eat immortality apples and use magical linen armor strong as chainmail. Illwinter, you rock.
Sauromatia is a nation of nomadic warrior tribes ruled by women. Men and women fight side by side and all prominent tribes are ruled by warrior queens. This is a legacy of the Sauromatians merging with the Amazon tribes in times past. The Amazons leaders were not accepted, because they were not warriors, but they influenced the Sauromatians and women warriors gained power and prestige. Only the tribe of the Androphags has totally rejected the notion of female leadership. The Androphags are ruled by ancient Witch Kings who introduced cannibalism and man-flaying to the Sauromatians. The Androphags also use hydras from the Marshes of Pythia in warfare. Conquered by Ermor in Early Age, apparently and made into Pythium. Army is fairly simple and deceptively strong, horse archers, horse lancers and cataphracts, as well as lizard riders and raptor riding women supported by male archers, some of them (Androphag tribe) using poison bows. They look weak except a little feature called...
...Magic Tattoos. Every, EVERY Sauromatian unit is tattooed across his/her body, and a level 3 faction spell can awaken the tattoos on the battlefield, granting them extra stats, and ten percent or similar chance to SHRUG OFF ALL DAMAGE OF A BLOW. Needless to say, your average human Strength grade men and women who are mostly a tick above the neutral region units can steamroll entire armies, considering Sauromatian leaders have immense nature magic to feed soldiers for free.
Loosely based off of the ancient Scythians, who supposedly practiced ritual cannibalism and flayed defeated foes alive. On top of that, it has been suggested that the ancient Scythians were the basis for the Greek stories of Amazons, since their shamans wore women's clothing during their ceremonies.
Helheim and Vanheim
Basically, Scandinavian magic elves (if you can call Vanir elves), one dark and one -relatively- light. Of course they are Vikings, so both sides practice plenty of blood magic. Helheim has Valkyrie who fly, but then, since everyone here knows The Poetic Edda, there isn't much to write here.
Rus, Vanarus, Bogarus
Early, Middle, and Late Age respectively, Russia-expy faction is the middle ground faction. Early age has them Chude and Humans (there is no damn reason to hire humans when Chude soldiers are far better and almost the same price.) living side by side. Some strong human and chude priest-mage magic units are existent. Soldiers have bows, spears, javelins, and some berserker units, units have roughly the same setup as Ulm, except they have fucking sacred skinchangers who can turn into werebears!
In Middle Era, Vanir conquered Rus (In a similar fashion to the formation of the historical Kievan Rus') and now there are three roughly same races living together. Unit variety is more or less same with Vanheim, but with more death, and with non-sacred werebear skinchangers
In Late Era, Bogarus becomes a truly unique faction at last. Now the Russia under the Knyaz princes united in Muscowy, it has a wild variation of human wizards, steppe horses and infantry similar to Kislev in Warhammer Fantasy. A fucked up magic user commanders is Fivefold Angels who are pacifistic and protected by their God from harm. Basically a priest (or priestess) is so high on piety she removes her breasts (or he removes his balls) and takes skin off their backs and hang it like angel wings, before removing their own hands... The skin and flesh strips off their backs are hung with scaffolds and are often get infected. This is based on a sect in Russia that was stamped out by the Czars.
Just stick to Starets elders, Alchemists and Astrologues to sparm storm, alright? Them angels are sick fuckery.
The England expy, Man is a feudal kingdom founded by a human tribe called the Logrians who invaded the lands of the Tuatha and discovered the Forest of Avalon. In the Middle Age, they have a heavy Arthurian theme, with knights, longbowmen, and witches who specialize mainly in Nature and Air magic. MA Man is unique in that it has access to Choir Master and Choir Slave, N1 Thaumaturgy spells that allow you to duplicate the effects of a communion using Nature instead of Astral. They can also do some fancy espionage tricks with their Monks and Bards. Unfortunately, they don’t have a lot of magic diversity and their only Sacred unit is pretty useless.
In the Late Age, the Witches step on a twig or something and Man gets placed under a curse that banishes magic from the realm. As far as “curses” go, though, it’s pretty much all upside - the Witches get replaced with Magisters, who can research under Drain dominion and have much better path selections. LA Man’s heavy infantry are armed with crossbows, and Magisters Arcane are one of the very few Main Battle Wizards who can be recruited from any fort in a single turn, so they can force the enemy to walk into a meat grinder early on, and then switch to communion battle magic in the late game.
The most strictly underwater underwater nation, Pelagia is ruled by Tritons (think Merfolk, but with two tails instead of one), who rule over actual, shapeshifting merfolk. The Tritons themselves are stuck in the water, but the merfolk can go on land. In the Middle Age, not much changes, since they were the only underwater nation to not get completely fucked by the Fallen Star.
In the Late Age, however, the Tritons start dying out and the merfolk seize power in a civil war, allying with humans from Arcosephale and creating Erytheia, an amphibious kingdom that fields human, merfolk, and Triton hoplites, and is ruled by an enormous incestuous, perpetually backstabbing royal family, who you have to rely on for your best mages. This means all sorts of events where the princes and princesses try to kill each other off, and it also means that you can field twelve-year-old magical mermaid princesses. Erytheia is loosely based of Egypt under the rule of the Greek Ptolomys, who where known for being inbred, incestous backstabbers even by the standards of most ancient monarchs.