hello, Long time lurker first time poster.
As many people have commented already this last post made a surprising revelation. Apparently it's nearly impossible to conqure Erfworld due to the mechanics of the game. If the more territory you own the harder to have the schmuckers to maintain your side, while at the same time the larger you are the more you draw the attention of other sides, it's going to be nearly impossible to conquer the world. There really should be a forum post on just the repercussions of that revelation. But just talking about it is boring, so I'm going another route. How would one suggest taking over the world and 'winning' erfworld with this new limitation? To make things harder lets assume that your side does not have an arkentool or 'the perfect warlord' on your side. What methods are available without 'cheating' the system with outliers like arkentools to win under such conditions? I suppose it's safe to assume you are a royal side, to give you some added advantage in battle. Also feel free to assume that you have any 2-3 casters (seemingly the normal number for a decent sized city) that are required for whatever strategy your considering.
The first obvious solution is razing cities. We already saw that razing a city will remove it's upkeep AND provide the side with extra smuckers. So the obvious solution will likely involve razing half or more of the cities you conquer to maintain enough smuckers to pay upkeep. This has a down side though. Since as far as we can tell your ability to produce units is mostly limited to the number of cities you have. If you keep your total number of cities too small your going to have a nearly impossible time producing enough unites to keep up with the fighting demand. This is assuming there is no way to 'rush' production of a unity by spending smuckers (like the Civilization games). However, even if you can rush a units production via spending shmuckers this is going to drain your treasury as much, if not more, then just maintaining a number of unprofitable cities to produce units faster.
The other problem is that sides don't survive for long. If you develop a long term solution your face other issues. If you try a solution of slowly building strength prior to an expansionism phase then you run the risk of other sides noticing your strength and teaming up against you before you implemented your plan. Even if you are subtle in your methods there is still the problem that you may be targeted by local cities just because your an enemy side and they are looking to expand. So any long term strategy needs to include a "how will we survive long enough to implement this" contingent. This means surviving the regular battles every side is expecting to encounter AND either avoiding drawing the attention of powerful sides that would start a coalition against you (as happened with Stanley) or always being capable of fending against such a theoretical coalition.
My interest is in 'winning' by taking over the world, assuming erfworld was a game. Therefore i'm less interested inn how to survive after you take over, only that you managed to take over. I don't need to see any self sustainability hacks for this to work, I'm perfectly fine if the turn after you conquer the world you run out of smuckers and have to disband ever unit and raze every city except your capital, after all your capital can be self sustaining and there are no longer any threats to it. More to the point if this was a game once you meet the victory conditions it doesn't matter what happens afterwards.
So there is your challenge. Who can think of viable strategies for conquering the whole world? I'll mention my two Pet Strategies.
Split up into smaller sides. The last update also implied that sides can split if they get too large. Thus having multiple sides instead of one may be the obvious solution. For example if you have 20 sides, all of 3 cities, that happen to be allied together you would be getting full smucker production for all of your cities, while still having the combined might of 60 cities to produces units for a fight. Incidentally this *finally* explains to me why Don King would support jillian in her creating a new city instead of just spending all the smuckers to build the units himself. If Jillian could grow and expand her kingdom while getting allot of smuckers from her own city while Don King would end up with a city that was producing almost no smuckers and cost too much to maintain there is a good incentive to help produce a new side rather then taking FAQ himself.
The obvious limitation to this is that with that many sides there are that many individuals that can turn on you. Just look at how Jillian 'defended' jetstone when asked to by Don King. It's going to be nearly impossible to keep 20 rulers all focused on working with you. It helps if you choose who will be the ruler every time you choose to fracture into two smaller sides (maybe you always use your 'children/heirs' for loyalty sake?). Still this seems dangerous. However, what if you had a thinkamancer? Perhaps before splintering into smaller sides you can get the person designated to be the ruler of the new side to voluntarily agree to have a thinkamancer cast a spell on them to help maintain their loyalty to the original parent faction? This depends on just how much you can do with thinamancy, and if agreeing to accept a spell helps boost the effectiveness of the spell.
This only gets around the issue of maintaining upkeep. You would still need enough fighting power to survive the inevitable coalition that would attack you once you grew too strong. The idea here is that with enough cities, all producing units and more then enough smuckkers for upkeep, you can afford to fight the coalition on even footing. However, there is another option. If your already choosing to split into multiple factions why tell everyone the factions are all related? You could always pull a tarqin: http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0758.html
As I said I think a long term strategy is the best one. Since you can't maintain a large side for long your only option is to build up strength and attack in a blitzkrieg manner. Take over the entire world in as few turns as possible to avoid paying huge upkeep on a large empire. You would also probably make liberal use of the razing ability to keep your empire from growing too big. Essentially your be relaying on a large built up forces for fighting and a large treasure, you won't need to hold many cities because ideally by the time you launch the attack you already have almost enough force to take over the world in a quick, sudden, action, so holding cities which will complete building a unit in 10 turns is pointless if your have won in 9 turns.
The challenge with building strength slowly is two fold. First, how do you build up that much strength, and second how do you hide your strength from your enemies until your ready to attack. For the second question I'm going to look to Jillian again. Use the same strategy that FAQ used of masking your cities with foolomancy. Only I would go even further and have only one capital city (at most two) to make it easier to hide them (with my strategy the extra production capability of the 2-3 city is almost pointless, so why have the risk of more cities that could be discovered?).
This still leads to the problem of how you build up enough strength. With only one capital city presumable your be making enough smukers (between the city and occasional mercenary work) to pay for the city and at least a little upkeep while still building your treasury. However, if you have any standing army more then a few dozen units your upkeep is going to grow too large to support them. This means you cant just sit around for a few thousand turns building units, or the upkeep will be crippling. You could sit around building a larger and larger treasury, but I'm not sure how useful this would be. Even with an amazingly huge treasury you can only spend your money so fast. You could purchase mercenaries at first, but once you become a threat to the world no mercenaries are going to support you. Even if we assume there is a method to 'rush' unit building by paying smuckers you can only build so many units as towns you own per turn. It seems like you would end up with a huge treasure that you couldn't spend fast enough to put up a credible fighting force. And of course the small number of smuckers you can create with only a capital city would require your building up the treasure for may many thousands of turns before you had enough to last you for even a short blitzkrieg; there is always the chance that something will happen and your side will get destroyed if you have to wait that long.
However, there is a way to build military might that not only won't cost you upkeep, it will actually help produce more smuckers. I'm talking about Casters. Casters can spend their juice producing scrolls, these scrolls can be sold in the magic kingdom for profit. Judging from how much just one dirtamancy scroll cost Wanda I would say that the selling price of scrolls alone will more then cover even a high level casters upkeep. Thus casters can actually build up the treasury, while also serving as a credible force to help defend your town if ever called upon. The problem is how do you get casters? It's rare for casters to pop, and I believe that somewhere it was stated that the more casters that pop the rarer it is for a side to get another one. So you can't sit around waiting to get new casters. You need to actively pursue them.
The easiest way to get casters would be to buy them at the magic kingdom. There are plenty of unaligned casters, at least some of them may be interested in having a side again. If you assume a large enough treasury you may be able to pay a caster one huge lump sum to join your side permanently. The second option is capture. There are two ways to capture casters. First, have your predictmacer spend juice to try to predict any time a caster (or a side with casters) is particularly vulnerable (assuming predictmancers can spend juice to 'look' for specific situations, but I think that they could). When you find a vulnerable caster attack him and capture him with your regular troops (supported by some of your own caster or scrolls made by them to boost the strength of what is probably only a small-to-moderate standing army, due to upkeep restrictions). The second is to be generous mercenaries. Keep an eye out for any time there are two tiny sides fighting each other (sides small enough that your small airforce and casters are easily enough to turn the sides of the battle). Offer the losing side your mercenary services at an absurdly cheap, or free, rate. But tell them your only work with them if you can capture any casters when you finally defeat the enemy side. Your lose units and smuckers helping the losing side win, but in exchange your get 1-2 casters. Over a few dozen turns those casters should produce enough to pay for the expense of capturing them.
With this strategy your need at least a predictmancer and foolermancer, and possible a moneymancer since so much of what I suggest requires a large treasury and playing with smuckekrs. Originally your be so weak that it will be hard to find new casters, since your standing army will be too small to do much to turn the sides of battle or capture a caster, and you won't have the income to pay for casters. However, if you wait long enough you should have a large enough treasury that you can afford some expensive method of capturing your first few casters. Once you have 4-5 casters this starts to get pretty easy. All the scrolls your casters can make will give you so many smukers that you can start to offer to purchase casters (or purchase the right to capture a caster from a side that is about to capture one). In addition even if someone does stumble upon your home city despite the foolomancy hiding it they will run into a max level city protected by half a dozen (or more) high level casters AND with a reserve of powerful scrolls (you don't have to sell all your scrolls!) which allow you to blast the enemy forces to pieces before they have time to wonder who you are.
Your also want to invest in some other force multipliers that don't cost upkeep. For example we've seen dollmancers and hatmancers can produce special equipment that boosts your units strength at no cost of upkeep. Ideally your have your own dollmancer eventually who can spend quite a few turns equipping all your high level units with powerful gear that has no upkeep but doubles your units power, if not you can purchase this stuff from the magic kingdom at a markup. It's worth it, your goal is to have as powerful a force as you can manage without a large upkeep, this means small number of very powerful units with strong force multipliers.
Another strategy you can use is start to sell your casters out as mercenaries. Casters can travel through the magic kingdom so they can support any kingdom in the world on short notice. Your casters are too important to waste in dangerous combat, but there are plenty of utility services they can safely provide for a side at a premium. Of course you want your casters to level as fast as possible (both because a higher level caster means more smuckers he can make, and because your city defense is heavily dependent on casters protecting it, so having your casters high enough level to destroy any units that may see through your foolmancy and attack you is a good idea). Once your casters are high enough level they will be powerful enough to turn the tide of battles themselves, and therefor can use them as mercenaries at little risk. Imagine the situation Wanda and Goodminton were in when attacked by two sides. They were able to use a dirtmancy scroll to give them the advantage they needed. But imagine if instead they contracted with a side providing magical mercenaries. they end up with a middle strength shockomancer and dittomancer (maybe with a healomancer in tow to protect the casters from harm). The shockkomancer would have himself boosted by your predictomancer, his spells dittoed by the dittomancer, and he could blast enemy sides to pieces. Your units would be in little risk because they were so powerful they could turn the tide of that battle single handedly, you could get plenty of money from the mercenary work (more then what they would have gotten building scrolls) and as a very nice bonus they would all gain XP and possible level to even stronger casters.
The obvious danger here is with you playing mercenary and selling scrolls is that people are going to wonder about your side. Even if they don't know where your home city is, your going to start to draw some attention as that mercenary force with all the powerful casters. There are many tricks you can do here to try to avoid drawing that unwanted attention, but I won't go into all of them. I will mention one interesting one though, split into two sides (or three) and have each side be responsible for one task. So one side does mundane mercenary work, one side does casters, etc. No one knows your related and so no one realizes your power (plus the advantages of getting more smuckers out of your cities). Multiple sides also give you a contingency plan if someone does discover your home city. If one city is attacked you can send all your money and casters to the other side and allow your town to be razzed. As long as the other side stays hidden your plan is still safe, and you can found a new city in a few turns and restart the hole process.
Obviously the ultimate goal is to build up enough strength to attack and take over the world at once. Thousands of turns after you start your have a dozen high level casters to your name. A huge treasury, lots of powerful equipment to act as force multipliers, and a butt-load of scrolls for casting. You could spend a few turns growing slowly, while hiding your true strength, to give you a chance to capture a few more towns and build a stronger standing army (at this point your mundane forces would still be high level but small in number to avoid killer upkeep, your first goal will be to grow your mundane forces so they can reap the full advantage of your force multiplier). Eventually Your have to reveal your true strength and attack with all your casters, scrolls etc. Your be doing plenty of razing to help feed your quickly fading treasury, and trying to expand as fast as possible. You need to win in as few turns as possible, the longer you wait the more the rest of the world collaborates against you, the more you risk losing your casters (your real power) to unlucky encounters, and the more your treasury and reserve of powerful scrolls fade.