Dominions 5 – MA Xibalba – An Uphill Battle

A basic guide to MA Xibalba and how to think of its troops.

Preface and Lore

I’m should start this off by saying that I’m not the most experienced player. This guide is just my attempt at helping those who aren’t entirely familiar with the game.

Nation Lore

MA Xibalba is a very weird nation. The theme is that toad-men have taken over the caverns and that the Zotz have been forced to the surface. The toad men comprise most units which can be recruited. Those familiar with EA Xibalba will find a general lack of Zotz mages and their corresponding magic paths, namely blood. It should be mentioned that all Muuch units have swamp survival, Darkvision 50, and Amphibious and all Zotz have forest survival, flying, stealthy, and cold blooded. Rather than go down to brass tacks I’ll just talk about how units are useful. 

National Weaknesses and Strengths

Weaknesses

  • Your mages are quite expensive
  • The paths your mages get aren’t as useful as they appear
  • Your troops are very weak.
  • A minor problem with MA Xibalba is that the nation wants to take heat scales but has such a heavy focus on Water magic. This means that any spell which relies on the cold will be less effective in your dominion. Compounding this is the lack of high impact early game water spells.

Strengths

  • The Zot line up of mages gives premiere access to blood hunting, vampires, and the nature-blood cross path
  • While expensive, some of your mages have decent thug potential.
  • Your Muuch troops fair better underwater since there’re usually isn’t as much competition and your good water access means you have a decent chance of contesting other water nations. You also have native access to gift of water breathing for bringing in Zot mages.
  • Lots of stealthy units and commanders for raiding and scouting
  • Sacred Assassins (on a nation with both death and water access).
  • Good research monkeys

Commanders

  • Muuch Ajaw – 80 leadership, sacred, priest commander and useful for ferrying around troops. Not good for much else but they really don’t need to be. They are however expensive at 115 gold. You could use them as very light thugs due to their above average stats and sacred status if you take a powerful bless but I wouldn’t recommend it in most cases.
  • Ah Itz –W 1 D 1 mage. They are on the cheaper side at 65 gold for a 9-research mage. They are best used for site searching, frozen heart spam, and especially research. They aren’t strong combatants without decent research and a large quantity of them.
  • Ah Ha- W 1 E 1 mage who is also a priest level 1. They cost 100 gold and are good for building infrastructure and little else. They are ok for research since they’re sacred status reduces their upkeep to 40 compared to the Ah Itz’s 52, but I’d would not use them over the Ah Itz. 
  • Muuch K’uhul – a W2 E1 D1 mage with a WDEN random. This guy is unfortunately the most effective general battle mage that MA Xibalba has. For this guy’s price of 290 gold he isn’t as good as he could be. W2 with the chance of W3 means that outside of underwater provinces they don’t have much fire power, especially with Xibalba’s preference for heat scales. D2 and E2 variants are better for fighting with spells like horde of skeletons and summon earth power in combination with spells like iron warriors, marble warriors and curse of stones. N variants are ok at forging. A Few W variants should be used in combat for spells like quagmire and scale better as research gets better.
  • Other useful spells include: falling frost, ice strike, wave warriors, prison of sedna, quickness, curse of the desert, desiccation, niefel flames, and Sailor’s death.
  • Chaac Muuch Assassins – A sacred assassin. Due to access to water (bottle of living water), death (skull tailsman), and nature magic items (poison in general), these can be quite effective at killing commanders. They probably won’t be able to kill strong commanders at base unless they have magic items. They can be helpful during early expansion to expand, however, they aren’t 100 consistent at killing commanders so you will likely lose a few. Watch out for mages.
  • Camazotz – D2B1 with an AEB random. These are interesting mages which are very useful. On the surface D2B1 is decent by itself despite Camazotz being old. However, D2B1 is even more powerful as it could potentially break you into vampire lords with items and and/or few empowers. A variants are interesting because it is the only source of A for that nation and can eventually help summon Chaacs. E1 aren’t that great. B2 are good since they are better at summoning and finding blood slaves.
  • Bacab – A W3E2D1 WEDN random Priest 2 slow-to-recruit capital only mage. This is MA Xibalba’s most powerful mage and is quite good but very expensive at 455 gold. All variants are useful in some way with W randoms being able to cast high level water spells and rituals. E randoms are good for fighting (battlefield wide spells). D randoms are good for summoning. N randoms have more limited uses but are best used for forging due to their wide path spread. If you empower blood onto the Bacabs you can also easily summon Ice Devils/Frost Fiends (though they will be considerably weaker as their ice protection will work against you), Demon Knights, Vampires, and Father Illearth.
  • Muuch Scout – A basic scout. Can be recruited in all forests so no excuse to not have a decent scouting network.
  • Zotz Batab – Good for patrolling and ferrying around troops. Also good for raiding parties since they are stealthy and flying. Can be recruited in all forests or caves.
  • Muuch Batab – Identical in function to the Zotz Batab only slightly tougher, can’t fly and thus much slower. Can be recruited in all forests.
  • Way/Wayob – A N2B1 with a tiny random only notable because it breaks you into fire. Excellent blood searchers since they can be recruited at any forest with a lab. Blood Nature is a good cross path for boosting a blood economy. The issue is that the spells the Way has access to with Blood Nature are quite meh with only basic blood summons, purify blood, and rain of toads, and Dark Vines being around once boosters are accounted for. Due to the nation lacking a blood 3 mage I would recommend forging a blood booster or two for one of these guys with your pretender or empowering them in blood so that they can begin production on the armor of twisting thorns for other mages once you hit construction 4 (or 6 if you want to go the late but cheaper route).

Troops

  • Muuch infantry in general – They have decent atk power with above average strength but terrible survivability. Use them as chaff. Don’t make the ones with armor, their survival rate is very similar to the unarmored ones (excluding sacreds, we’ll talk about them separately). Never use militia or the regular dart thrower. Ok raiders.
  • Zot Infantry – Terrible survivability with flying and lance charges. Use them to swing to the back of the enemy and to mess with formations, unless your opponent has planned for that or have strong enough troops not to care. Excellent raiders.
  • Sacreds – These are interesting in that the build you have should answer whether you use the armored guys. If no, you take sloth 1-3 and you can still use the sacred dart thrower as utility troops. If you’re going for just the Obsidian warriors I would suggest prod 1 or neutral. If you’re using just the Wo Muuch you need productivity to make up for their disproportionally high resource cost (38 yet they don’t wear helmets?). MA Xibalba’s sacreds are in a weird spot since while they are undoubtedly the nation’s strongest troops (and worth getting for that reason alone) they aren’t strong enough to justify a strong bless by themselves. If you’re going to use these guys early game, I would suggest building them for a counter bless so you don’t get rushed by other sacreds.
  • Unique Summons – Jade Serpent and the Monster toad being ok. The Jaguar toad is usually terrible. The Balams and Chaacs are endgame summons which are very powerful and give good magic diversity and thug potential. Since there are 4 of each of them, you could technically summon all of them but they are very expensive.

Pretender Design

Scales

General Scales to consider are Heat3, Growth3 and Sloth 1-3 or Productivity 1-2. Magic is also good to take due to your efficient researchers. Xibalba has two heroes if you’re considering luck. The first is a level 4 priest with inspiring researcher but is also turn locked until turn 20. The second is a sacred assassin with magic paths. If you plan to involve sacreds troops in your strategy keep in mind that many of your mages are sacred. Overall these heroes are good but unnecessary.
There are various pretenders you could take depending on your objective. 

Immobiles – If you want to take an immobile you probably are thinking about taking an awake one for a counter bless or a smaller bless with scales. Due to how the nation function taking an awake incarnate bless for your sacreds for the purpose of expansion just isn’t feasible since your sacreds aren’t good enough to justify that cost. If you think you’re going to be rushed, consider unholy weapons as a bless. Normally this is a bad bless but since your troops lack the ability to kill something like Anakites, adding an extra 10 AP dmg to your already decently strong attacks is worth considering. For the purpose of a counter bless I would suggest taking the Statue of the Bloody Mother or the Colossal head. The Fountain of Blood isn’t as efficient as those two for the purposes of getting secondary blesses. Remember numbers, not individual strength will carry you. If you’re feeling memey try luck and see how far the poison weapons can carry you.

Titans – Titans are generally not the most favorable choice since they tend to rely being super combatants at the expense of scales or blessings. Be that as it may, most of the titans available to MA Xibalba are on the arguably on the better end of the spectrum in my opinion. The Great Mother can be ok in expansion if you stack a defensive bless. The Teteo Inan is a very good expander if you give her blood surge and regen. The Teotl of Rain can be an ok SC but the Teotl of War is usually better. It should be mentioned that all these lack armor so be prepared to spend a turn forging some and researching self-buff spells from the Alteration or Enchantment tree. The Demilich is ok if you just want scales and minor blesses. Hun Came and the Teotl of the Underworld aren’t good in this nation since their unique effects like reanimator and fortune teller do very little. The Bolon-ti-ku is just bad in general as its overpriced. Overall the Teteo Inan is likely the best expander available to MA Xibalba due to her multiple attacks and path distribution.

Beasts – This nation has poor expansion and thus one way to remedy this is to take an awake expander. For this purpose, the Wyrm, Dagon, Red Dragon, Green Dragon, Earth Serpent, and arguably Hun Balam are good choices. These pretenders need defensive buffs in order to expand more efficiently like hard skin, awe, and regeneration. The Demon Macaw seems good on paper but is far less effective than advertised. This is because even with 3 stacks of awe and two attacks it has low HP and Protection. This means that the Demon Macaw dies easily and has a very hard time mitigating damage. I would recommend the Wyrm as the most effective one though the others have their own benefits.

Mages – Using these guys is limited to specific purposes, from forging to site searching to a cheap body for a lot of minor blesses. The lich, Great Camazotz, Serpent King, Great Enchantress, and Great Sage are all decent choices depending on which you want. (Also you can technically expand with the ghost king due to his ethereal and rod of death).

Research Objectives

I would argue that Enchantment 5 is the best school to go down early game most of the time. Horde of Skeletons and Quagmire are spells which increase survivability since they allow MA Xibalba’s troops to fight on a more even playing field. 

Following this you could go down Thamaturgy or Alteration depending on who you’re fighting. Alteration makes your troops suffer less attrition with spells like wave warriors or iron warriors and eventually nets your Frozen Heart and Darkness. Thamaturgy allows your mages to have a more direct impact in battles since most good water Evocation spells are locked to higher research levels. This means that while Evocation will be better late game it will be less useful before that point. Thamaturgy is good for spells like your national spells and curse of the desert.

Conjuration and Blood magic are the magic paths to focus on if you manage to survive the early game. Conjuration would primarily be used for elementals and/or wraithlords from your Bacabs. Blood can be used for Vampire lords, Dark Vines, and most of the generic blood summons.
Construction is important to get before you commit to summoning since boosters both enable and make summoning more efficient.

Important Items

In general, items which are considered high priority make operations more efficient, allow you to do new things, or allow you to get to your endgame spells faster for MA Xibalba.

High Priority – Dwarven hammers, Boosters in general but especially blood and water ones, Research boosters, Ring of Regen.

Normal Priority – Kithaironic Lion Pelt (if thugging cheaply), Supply increase items, Gate Cleaver, AP weapons, Better armor, Morale boosting items (namely the helmet of heroes), element resist items, reinvigoration items, horror helmets.

General Strategy

The first goal is to survive the early game. In multiplayer, everyone knows MA Xibalba is easy to rush so they’ll beeline straight for you once they see you. The key idea is to adjust your research to who you’re fighting (hopefully not more than one person at a time). Get tramplers and evocation magic against Vanheim, get lots of troops against Ashdod with armor negating spells to cripple them etc. An awake expander greatly helps with this goal but isn’t always necessary if you know the match up ahead of time.

The power of raiding isn’t to be understated when playing MA Xibalba. You need to buy time and the best way to do it is to make yourself a massive pain in the ♥ to fight. Raiding forces your opponent to reconquer old provinces and gives you additional income. If your opponent sees you as more trouble than your worth that is a net win for you since they’re more likely to call an early peace and leave you alone. To raid effectively you’ll need forest provinces to recruit Zotzs or Muuch so make those a priority target in expansion. Once you get a decent level of Construction you’ll also be able to leverage your sacred assassins with bottles of living water and other assassin oriented items. Assassinating important commanders can easily help you win decisive battles and tip the scales in your favor.

In terms of recruitment you’ll want a lot of Camazotz and Muuch K’uhul since they are the most effective mages the nation has. Bacabs should be reserved for specific purposes like rituals and high-level summons. Ways will be your primarily blood hunters and should be recruited when possible outside of forts. Ah Itz’s will be research monkeys if you don’t have enough money for K’uhuls or if you’re fighting an undead nation for Dust to dust spam.

You’ll want to eventually phase out your regular troops and replace them with summons. Whether these new troops are demons, efficient conjuration summons, or both doesn’t matter so long you are committed and know what counters your opponent will throw at you. For this strategy you’ll need a lot of money and territory to recruit mages and find magic resources. For this I would suggest taking an awake expander to get that territory faster and more easily defend it. Sacred troops will play a small role in this strategy if they are used at all. Once you start getting forts the shift will begin to occur as you start mass recruiting mages. As this occurs, you’ll need to find more money either by invading others or by helping others invade. Invading water provinces is another good way of securing resources since water provinces are usually less contested (and good to use for ferrying raiding parties). Endgame for this strategy would be having hordes of demons/vampire lords backed up by elementals and other conjuration summons while your mages do the heavy lifting in the back. Also, don’t put Chaacs and Zotzs in the same army, Chaacs auto cast storm at the start of the battle which prevents Zotz from flying.

Example Builds and Conclusion

If you want to counter Anakites I have found some success with this build. Using the Sacred dart throwers and their poison weapons, you can pose a decent threat to blood bond, regen anakites provided you outnumber them by a decent amount. Make sure the Teteo Inan takes part in the battle too.

A cheaper alternative would be.

Which makes room for additional scales and accelerated research. You will however need to research personal regeneration before you get into any fights. I personally prefer this build since recuperation is a lot more useful than regen on this nation. Regen is wasted on most of your infantry and your mages can’t use it effectively unless they are given equipment (which is expensive in gold and in gems). Your sacred summons arrive too late to be worth being concerned about since this build is primarily focused on surviving the early game.

Another build with the Wyrm is .

This build has better has a more reliable early expansion at the cost of killing power.

Closing Thoughts

MA Xibalba is a nation where you’re constantly fighting an uphill battle. While you can get out of control like any blood nation in the game, you’ll have a particularly hard time getting there. All criticism is appreciated.

The Dark Crab