Tips for Death Magic
Some early choices when picking Death Magic:
For grabbing early neutral settlements, Weakness is perfect. Spearmen and Swordsmen of almost all races are sitting ducks, once Weakness sticks on them, and you can even capture most settlements with a single Magic Spirit.
Weakness is incredibly cheap to cast, and thus can be cast repeatedly even in very early turns.
Talking about a single Magic Spirit, you probably want more than one, if you got no Green books with Sprite. Exploring the area and discovering the easy pickings quickly will speed up your development a lot.
A few turns in, summon a Ghoul, chose lairs with single common fantastic creatures (Hellhound, Bear, Naga, Sprite). Cast Black Sleep on the critter, then your Ghoul can “recruit” it, without even getting hurt.
Once you recruiteded a bunch of them, the upkeep cost will probably become quite high for such an early economy. Make sure you got enough mana in the bank to cast Darkness, to buff them all, then find a large lair or dungeon, that you can barely beat with them.
If you fought well, and still only one of your creatures barely survived, then you picked the right fight. Enjoy the loot and the early fame.
Mana Leak is usually more important in the later game, when you fight Shadow Demons, Giants or stuff like Efreets, Demon Kings, Jinny, etcetera, but early game it can reduce Sprites from 4 shots to 2 shots, which can make all the difference.
Dark Ritual is THE economy spell for Death Magic. Every settlement with even a Parthenon, let alone a Cathedral or an Alchemy Guild will produce more Mana than most Nodes on Arcanus. (OK, how much a node produces also depends on mana setting, ofc.)
If your starting race doesn’t have the tech, one of your conquered settlements WILL have it.
From the uncommon selection, especially if you start on Arcanus, Shadow Demons are first choice, once you get them offered. They can shadow shift to Mirra and conquer a neutral settlement there, long before you are powerful enough to bust down a wizard’s tower.
Werewolves are also very good. They can’t attack flyers, but if you got 4 of them, they can block flyers from reaching your squishies, and they are really good at dealing damage to anything on foot, or anything, that attacks them to get past them.
Like Shadow Demons, they regenerate, and even come back after battle, when they died.
Perfect creatures to stack enchantments on, as they will last you a long time and never need to slow down to heal.
Dark Prayer is the most important uncommon combat spell, as it debuffs resistance.
Talking about resistance, don’t accept heroes, who can’t cast spells. Look for trinkets, wands and staves, which give minus on spell resistance to equip them with, plus protective stuff.
Late game, don’t shy away from cursing your opposition. They don’t know where it comes from, so they won’t even get angry.