Populous 1 & 2
The problem with writing about strategy is, as also stated with other maps, that there is no perfect single strategy. It's the story about the scissors, paper and stone once again. Because it is impossible to write out all the different strategies I will here write down certain elements that one will most likely find. Skirmish is one of my favorite maps. Not knowing exactly why, I think it is because small things can shift the balance. One misstep and you lose. Here is how it goes. There are two larger plots of land with Reincarnation Site, connected by a small path. In the middle of the path there is a large hill, around which the game usually concentrates. On the hill is a head which gives three EQ's, pretty welcome, especially in situations where large spells are switched off.
As in every map, the wildies you are able to convert in the beginning increase your chances of survival against your opponent. It is rather important that you immediately start walking your shaman to the head and start converting as many wildies as you can lay your hands on. Make sure to convert most of the wildies on the path before your opponent does so. (Indication: the closer to the Head the other shaman is advanced when you meet her, the more likely it is that you find an experienced opponent here. The further she has passed the Head on the way to your base, she is either reckless or very confident that she can rush your most likely unprotected village.) Danger here: don't lose a Shaman battle because she blasts you off the hill or path into the water!
Building the village:
One thing that strikes the eye immediately is the limited space you have to build. Plan this carefully. Start building a FW hut immediately for defense. Also make sure you build some towers on the higher hills around the entrance. Two or three will do to start with as you don't want to spend all your precious wood on shiny empty towers, do you? Then it is matter to build as many huts as you can fit into your small piece of the globe. And remember not to build on trees! You will find out soon enough that there isn't enough wood. Tip: you can also build on the path to the hill.
Usually one of the players occupies the hill. This is relatively easily done by having firewarriors's patrol on it and by building towers on top. Really hard to take over. If both players are set to take the hill, prepare for a long and exhausting battle. My tip: give up the hill then, if necessary. Give the initiative to the other.
Now the most important part of this strategy, how to win? Provided that you have your village up and running, brand new huts filled with fire warriors, warriors and priests, towers on the hills for extra safety (of course they are not empty!), then there are two starting points for winning. Either you have the Hill (initiative) or not (non-initiative). Both can still win.
The party with Initiative will most likely concentrate on getting the earthquakes and try to walk in via the front door and cast them. Non-initiative party has to prevent this. To learn how, read pieces of text about shaman-battle and defense in general. With initiative, make sure you walk in the front door using plenty of ghosts and troops and lower spells to confuse the opponent. Then try to cast on vital huts, such as training huts. Also casting on the hills give great effect as it can severely weaken the defense. Once the defense is breached and especially when the other shaman is dead, send in as much troops as possible, without having to weaken your village defense or the hill defense. Make sure you spread out your troops over the opposing village and clean it out thoroughly.
Winning from a Non-initiative perspective. One thing you can say about non-initiative is that your shaman is not likely to be on the Hill. Most likely she is in the village, defending. The init-shaman is on the other hand most likely to be on the Hill, either defending that or preparing that devastating, final attack. Need I say more? Well..ok..here comes a hint: If she is on the hill, she is not in her village, defending! This could be the right moment to finish that landbridge and walk in via her backdoor. Because it is most likely that your front door defence is stronger than her backdoor defence, this could be a decisive moment in the game. After the core of the village defence is terminated, send in your troops (and spread them out) to clean the village thoroughly, or make it a Matrix-like Mana harvesting field (with priests). The choice is yours.
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