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Hints, Tips, Strategy and FAQs for playing Populous III online


Strategy - Spells

(Cost: 100, Range:6)

Blast is the Lee Enfield .303 of the Populous world - standard personal armament for the shaman. It seems to be more effective against followers in the online game than offline, so it is worth mastering. Other advantages are that you have 4 shots before you run out of ammunition and, because it is very cheap, the chances are that you will get a couple of fresh shots from recharging before you've used them all There are several ways to improve its effectiveness. The best is when the target is near water. Aim the spell slightly to the landward side of the target and the blast will send them towards the water, hopefully drowning them. This can be very effective when dealing with a rush coming at you across a land bridge. It is also a good way to kill an enemy shaman if you can't use lightening (or your opponent is too smart), and can get close enough. Think in terms of snooker or pool when judging your angles.

Note that, if you hit an enemy full-on with blast, they are thrown up into the air in an arc in the direction in which they are walking, which may be directly towards your shaman. This is tremendously important if you are trying to stop a shaman attack on your village as it will have exactly the opposite effect from what you want - you won't kill the shaman and you will catapult her right into the middle of your village which is where she was trying to get. All you did was to save her some walking! You can use this to your advantage however if you stand your shaman with her back to some water, because then you can shoot her out to sea and a watery grave as she comes to get you.

The other useful/interesting characteristic with blast is that it will 'lock on' to a moving target. So, if you aim directly at the enemy and fire, the spell will hit her even if she has moved some way beyond the aiming point by the time it arrives. Contrast that with lightning, which hits at the aiming point and therefore has to be aimed some way in front of a moving target, giving time for dodging. It can be almost impossible to kill the shaman of an experienced player using lightning, so you can switch to blast in that situation, and try to pitch her into the sea.

You can also use blast to destroy trees. If you've just devastated an opponents village and have used up all your major spells, just going round and frying all his timber will considerably inhibit his attempts at regeneration.

(Cost: 100, Range:16)

Not much to be said about this one. Make sure that you convert as many wildmen as possible as soon as possible. It may be worth moving your shaman towards the enemy camp and converting there first, coming back to 'your' wildmen later. Even if you don't get your converts out alive, you will have denied them to your opponent and she will have had to spend time and mana killing them. Don't deprive your own village of builders, or neglect to lay down huts, in order to do this however, or you'll pay for it later. Converting wildmen is *much* easier and quicker than waiting for braves to grow in the huts.

Ghost army
(Cost: 180, Range:8)

This is a very under-rated spell in my view. If you cast it on a piece of empty land, you get 6 pale braves which appear identical to ordinary braves to your enemy, and will carry out all the actions of braves, except that they never actually achieve anything. If you cast the spell on a particular follower, you get some ghost versions of that follower, instead of braves (4 firewarriors, 3 warriors, etc). You can even get (just one) ghost shaman. So what can you do with those wimpy braves that get killed by one hit? Here are some ideas:

Not a bad tally for such a cheap spell!

(Cost: 400, Range:12)

I should probably use this spell much more than I do, because it is so cheap and has such a good range. It can be used to soften up an approaching rush before they get close enough to hit your shaman, but it does mean that the troops are scattered; I prefer them concentrated so that I can kill them with a few blasts or lightening bolts (or whatever). It is perhaps most useful when you are attacking an enemy village with your shaman, to keep the locals away while you position her to use that volcano to most pleasing effect. Swarm doesn't work on followers in guard towers though, so you need something else for them, such as lightning. (Danzence has pointed out that you *can* use swarm on guard towers, but you have to cast it just outside. The bees then fly in and chase the occupant out. That even works for the shaman! And on huts!)

(Cost: 500, Range:8)

Use this spell to sneak some followers into the enemy village undetected. A mixture of warriors and preachers works well. They will be invisible to the opposing followers, and will appear as wraiths to the opposing player (like ghosts) but will become visible once they start fighting/preaching. Break them up into several small groups rather than one easily destroyed crowd, and use the 'force command' (ie. hold the shift key down when you click the destination) to make sure that they really go to their destinations, instead of attacking the first enemy they see. Take your shaman along as well so that you can keep the enemy shaman occupied, while they do their stuff. If you put magic shield on them as well, there is very little that the enemy can do unless he has a good supply of preachers or firewarriors to hand. Moral of the story - defence is more than just a few guard towers.

Magical Shield
(Cost: 600, Range:8)

Use it with invisibility on warriors and preachers (see above), but even on its own it greatly enhances the disruptive effect of your attack army. It will give protection against blast, lightning, firestorm and firewarriors, but not hypnotism, swamp or earthquake. Some area spells, such as swarm, will not work if cast directly on the shielded followers, but will if cast *next* to them.

Land Bridge
(Cost: 700, Range:10)

Use it to create more land for building by standing on the edge of the water and casting it on the shore as far away as possible; move to the edge of the water again and repeat as necessary. (It's cheaper to do it this way than by using flatten, and you get three shots from a full charge rather than two.) This spell's best use though is in creeping up on the enemy from behind (back- or side-dooring). In those worlds where there are a series of linked 'homelands' such as Skirmish or Face Off, players tend to concentrate their defence on the land bridges, especially if boats and balloons have been switched off. The world is spherical, however, so you can build your own bridge from the back of your island to the back of an enemy island. Use the land creation technique (above) to get your shaman closer if it's out of range. Beware of casting too many landbridge spells at once though, as that is a dead giveaway, and you'll lose the element of surprise. Remember also that the bridge is a two-way causeway, so put in a few guard towers (and man them!) before you launch your devastating attack from the rear. When you're building out from the shore to get to your opponent, note that it doesn't build to the same amount in all directions - you advance further if you build from the 'corners'.

(Cost: 800, Range: 12)

If Blast is the .303 of the Populous world, Lightening is the sniper's rifle. With it's long range and power, it is the ideal anti-shaman weapon and will kill her with one hit if you get it right. Lightening duels, shaman à shaman, are common. It is therefore important to master this spell, both in terms of using it and avoiding it.

Using it for attack - It is much harder to hit a moving target, so if you are attacking a stationary shaman, you have the advantage. Success favours the bold, so march right up and fire your bolt. You can either watch the circle of smoke, and fire as soon as you come into range, or select the spell and click on the enemy shaman while you're still out of range. That way, the computer will advance your shaman and fire automatically, and the computer's reflexes may well be quicker than yours, especially if the game is laggy. (This is one situation where lag is your friend.) Some people stand their shaman on a hill, or in a Guard Tower on a hill, because this increases the range of the spell for their shaman. Thus they can zap your shaman before she ever gets into range, so you've got no chance, right? Wrong! That only works if your opponent is watching your every move. If he's off building huts, or making a coffee, his shaman is a sitting target. Go for it!

The classic time when the enemy shaman is stationary is just after she reincarnates. If you can keep your shaman within range of the enemy CoR waiting for her to reappear, you'll get a clean shot because she can't move until she is fully reincarnated, but she can be killed. This is sometimes known as 'Spawnkill'. Beware though. She may not be able to move, but she can cast spells, so if your shaman is standing waiting, your enemy will get a clean shot too, and you'll both be killed, losing you your advantage. Therefore make sure that you either keep her moving, or you position her on some higher ground, so that your enemy is in range, but you are not.

Apart from when reincarnating, if your opponent is experienced, his shaman won't be stationary, or even moving in a straight line, so your job will be much harder. He may even tempt you into using up all your lightnings on his dancing shaman and then come in for the kill on yours. In that case, save your lightnings and go for her with blast (see above) or whirlwind or swamp.

Using Lightning for defence - From what I've written above, you can guess that I'm not going to recommend putting your shaman in a guard tower, unless you've really got your defences sewn up, she's guarding the only way in, and you're going to watch over her like a mother hen. If you want your shaman on guard duty, by all means put her on a hill, for the range benefit, but keep her moving. Select your shaman and then pick out a patrol route by holding down Ctrl and Alt, and then left-clicking on the way-points. (This works the same way as building campfires, but without showing the fires.) Your shaman will then keep moving and be much harder to hit, whilst still allowing you to fire bolts at the enemy.

Would you like me to tell you a *really* sneaky defence trick? You would? Ok - make your shaman invisible! Not literally, because the invisibility spell doesn't work on the shaman. But if you put a hut just behind the guard tower (not in front - too obvious), you can put your shaman inside where your opponent can't see her. Put in some fire warriors as well, just to make life more difficult for him. His shaman will come bouncing up, probably take out the guard tower and then, as soon as she's in range, electrocute her. Unless your opponent is right on the ball, or knows the trick, he won't know where the spell came from so, if you missed, you'll probably get a second chance. You can make this even more sneaky if you make a ghost shamen and stand her behind the hut. Then, when you take out the enemy shamen, it will appear to have come from the ghost - an 'extended range' shot! I told you it was sneaky! It works best where there is a narrow approach to the point you are guarding, no other ways in, and you don't have anything better to do with your shaman.

(Cost: 850, Range:8)

Hypnotise is a very effective defensive spell - it can disrupt even a large-scale attack enough for you to get yourself organised, and if you use all the shots, you can turn most attacks back on themselves. Similarly, it can be very effective during a shaman attack by taking over the enemies' followers and so take the heat off your shaman. The only real defence is to 1) kill the enemy shaman to stop her casting it, 2) hypnotise your followers back. It is such a disruptive a spell, most people turn it off when hosting, as it can make it impossible for anyone to win.

(Cost: 900, Range:8)

This is another under-rated spell, in my books. Most people seem to prefer earthquake as their main attack spell, early in the game. Certainly EQ does a lot of damage, and over a wider area than tornado. But it is over twice the mana cost of Tornado, and therefore takes twice as long to charge. Tornado really comes into its own on maps where land is limited (such as Face Off) because, if you cast it on an enemy building, it will usually destroy it completely, thus making the land underneath unusable. EQ does damage more buildings, but doesn't usually destroy them, especially larger ones such as training huts. That means that they can be quickly repaired. Tornado doesn't cut the land up either, which may be a good or bad point, depending on your perspective. Tornado + ghosts is a good attack combination, using the ghosts to shield your shaman so you can get close enough to cast on the enemy buildings.

Tornado is also effective against a massed horde of attacking followers, especially on a narrow bridge of land, where they will likely get dropped out to sea.

(Cost: 1,000, Range:8)

I really don't like this spell. Not because it isn't effective, but because it's too effective! It's a cheap spell, yet you have to sacrifice 10 followers before it vanishes. That's about the same toll as an angel of death which requires 5 times as much mana. And you can counter an AOD, with ghosts, or another AOD. Put a swamp on a damaged building in your enemies village, or around a tree, and his followers will just keep on sacrificing themselves on autopilot. You can kill an enemy shaman with it whichever way she dodges. It's just too easy. For that reason, I try to persuade hosts to disable it. If they won't, it's open season.

You can remove swamps which you have cast yourself, of course. Just shift-right-click on them.

(Cost: 1250, Range:8)

Flatten is a useful spell in several situations. You can use it to make more land from the sea, although it is probably cheaper to use landbridge for this, especially if there is some land which you can bridge to. A better use is to flatten out your base for building when your enemy has just hit you with an earthquake, or erode. You can also use it to erect a wall across the entrance to your base to make life a little harder for any attacking shaman.

There are two ways in which you can use it for attack purposes. The first is to cast it on the water right next to your enemies defences, which will take a bite out of his land and tumble any buildings and followers into the water. The second, much favoured by some shamen, works well on levels where there is some convenient high ground near the enemy base (such as in Pressure Point, Face Off or Skirmish) and where the enemy has built up a formidable defence. Starting from the high ground, use Flatten to build towards the enemy base. This gives you the advantage of height (which extends the range of your spells) and will therefore put you in a much stronger position for destroying his defence. Make sure that you leave a gentle slope (using landbridge if necessary) back to your own base, so that you can get reinforcements (and your shaman, should you lose her) onto the high ground quickly.

(Cost: 1,750, Range:8)

If blast and lightning are rifles, then earthquake must be the artillery. Most people's favourite spell for demolishing enemy buildings, it makes a very satisfying display, and kills any followers who get caught in the lava flow. When used on high ground, it carves up the land badly, making rebuilding difficult. The downside is that it is inaccurate, with no reliable way of controlling the direction in which it runs, and it tends to damage buildings rather than destroying them.

One side effect of the way it carves up the land is that it can make the entrances to some huts inaccessible (because they're on the edge of a cliff). If the hut is damaged, this can result in the 'hands-in-air' phenomenon when your braves decide to start repairing it but can't reach it, which can lead to serious loss of life. (See under Strategy - Followers for more details). The answer is to raise the land by the hut so that your followers can get to it, or destroy the hut altogether using spells.

(Cost: 2100, Range:8)

Erode is not a widely used spell, mainly because it is so expensive, but it does have its uses. It works best if your enemy has built on high ground (such as on Pressure Point) and if you can cast it either in the middle of their village, or the middle of their defence. The spell lowers the level of the ground and leaves it too uneven for rebuilding, destroying any huts in the process. Towers have a much smaller footprint than huts, so may survive the lowering process. If you can lower all of the high ground (as, for instance on the hills in Craters or Face Off, then you will deny your enemy the advantage of height as there is no way for him to build back up. In general though, most people would say that Erode should be left until most of your other spells have been charged, when the mana would otherwise go to waste. You will then have something extra to throw around when you break in to the enemy base and are enjoying some wanton destruction :-)

(Cost: 4,000, Range:8)

I think this is my favourite spell in Populous. It may not have the visual impact of Volcano, and it may not strike fear into the heart of your opponent like AoD, but it has its advantages over both. Its main feature is that it kills all the enemy followers within quite a large area, whilst leaving your shaman unharmed - and I just love the way all those enemy followers run around with their tails on fire! It is best used therefore where there is a large concentration of enemies, such as when your opponent is trying to build up his fighting strength and has braves queued up all round his training huts, or when you are attacking the enemy village and he turns out all his followers to get you. The most satisfying use though is when you are in danger of losing the game and your opponent has decided to rush you with a substantial proportion of his force. If the approach to your village is across a causeway, and the enemy is not quick enough, you can wipe out the front half of the attack, and the back half just carry on running to their deaths - lovely!

Angel of Death
(Cost: 5,100, Range:6)

People get very upset about Angel of Death (AOD) as there is no apparent defence, no barriers you can build against it, and it eats away at all your carefully constructed defences. It's not that tough though, and if you have good defences, and are up against an opponent who uses it exclusively, it can work in your favour, as you can use your mana on something more effective. So how can you defend against AOD?

  1. Give it something to eat. Cast ghosts all around your village, and set them patrolling outside the boundaries. Just like your opponent, the AOD can't tell them from real followers, and will waste time on devouring them. It's important that you set them patrolling (by selecting them and Ctrl-Alt left clicking on the patrol points) so that they will return to their positions after being scattered.

  2. Put *lots* of fire warriors in towers. Fire warriors will attack the AOD, and each attack makes it pause, as well as shortening its life. The AOD pause is shorter than the fire warrior reload time, and the AOD preferentially selects any follower (or shaman) which attacks it, so one fire warrior will soon be killed. If you have more fire warriors all shooting at it, they can hold it off indefinitely, but the effect depends on how the firewarriors are arranged on the map, and how their reload times match. For example, I once saw two fire warriors hold off an AOD for so long that it didn't make a single kill. This was because they were standing close together and their reload times were exactly out of phase (ie. each fired halfway through the other's reload). On the other hand, if you've got a strung-out line of defensive towers and the AOD approaches from one end, she'll just chomp her way along the line, being drawn on by the attacks of the next in line. This is particularly severe on islands, where you tend to build towers all around the edge. The best advise is to put your towers in clumps of 2 or 3.

  3. Put fire warriors on patrol. The advantage of guard towers is that your fire warriors will stay put until the bitter end rather than running away when one of their number is attacked. However they are expensive to build, and have to be rebuilt after an attack, which uses up resources which might be better used elsewhere. A good alternative is to set up fire warriors on patrol around your village. They will be scattered when attacked, but will go back their original positions as soon as the panic subsides. Note that firewarriors don't actually do any significant damage to an AOD. A FW inflicts 1 hit point of damage per blast on an AOD, and an AOD has 1,000 points of strength so it would take 1,000 firewarrior blasts to kill one. Now you know why they never seem to get shot down!

  4. Use your own AOD. If you cast AOD yourself, your AOD will attack and kill the enemy AOD, and then go on to attack the enemies followers. This is guaranteed, because the AOD's strength declines with age, so your (newly cast) AOD will be the stronger. AOD's are tough though, so the lifetime of your AOD will be reduced according to the remaining strength of the enemy AOD, so you may not get much additional benefit from it. It may be better (especially if you have taken precautions as above) to wait until the enemy AOD pops its clogs and then cast yours on the undefended enemy village.

When casting AOD therefore, you get best effect if you cast it at one end of a line of guard towers, or if you cast it near a group of enemy followers (rather than make the poor beast waste its life wandering around the globe like a lost albatross).

(Cost: 8,000, Range:6)

What can I say? If you get this mother cast in your base, you have a serious problem. It will destroy the huts, kill your followers, leave large areas of land burnt and hence not fit for building and, as a coup de grace, leave you with a great big molehill in your otherwise nice'n flat base. A disaster! But even if this happens, don't give up! Kill that shaman (if she's still around), get your braves to rebuild the damaged buildings (much cheaper than building from scratch), starting with the guard towers, and get firewarriors back into defence. Concentrate your braves so that you have as many full 5-man huts as possible. That will let them breed much faster than if they are spread in ones and twos through all your huts. Get your shaman to climb your new hill, then use flatten and landbridge to build a plateau across to the entrance to your base and block it. When the burn fades, and you can start building again, you will be at a high level, which will give you the advantage of height and make it harder for him to attack you again. It often happens (in a 3 or 4 way game) that after volcing your base, your enemy leaves you for dead and concentrates on the other player/your partner. Use that time wisely!

I haven't mentioned attacking with volcano yet, because it really isn't too complicated - just hit the button! You can increase the damaged are by casting it on the side of a hill, in which case the lava will flow downhill, and further. But be careful not to cast it to your enemies advantage. If you put it at the entrance to his base, the chances are that it won't do too much damage, will give him a nice lot of new flat land to build on (when it cools) and he'll be able to use the cone as a base from which to build out a massive unassailable plateau. This is not what you want!

A final thought: If you are playing a level where you need access across water and you either don't have enough landbridge or flatten spells, or they have been disabled, you can use volcano as a bridge. Expensive in mana, certainly not recommended, but if that's the only way in...

(Cost: 10,000, Range:N/A) - Guest spell

This is a great spell if you've got a village full of braves all busily producing mana. The shock effect of your shaman suddenly materialising in the middle of the enemy village is a wonder to behold. With a full set of fully charged spells it's surprising just how much fun you can have in a short space of time. In order to be able to get the best effect, you need to dispose of the enemy shaman as soon as possible. The obvious method is to cast teleport and then zap her with lightning. That's fine if she's standing still, but if she's walking or patrolling (as she should be) you might miss, in which case the enemy, if she's good, will nail your (stationary) shaman, and that's the end of that expedition. Better to use an area spell then, such as firestorm or (sigh) swamp. It would be fun to materialise right next to the enemy shaman and cast volcano, but the delay before it erupts may be enough for you to get fried.

(Cost: 10,000, Range:4) - Guest spell

Bloodlust is normally disabled, because it is so powerful, especially in conjunction with Magical Shield. However, if you can use it, here's what to do. To get the best effect, first target your followers on their tasks using Ctrl-Alt and 'N' (see the Interface page). A combination of a couple of firewarriors targeted on the enemy shaman, a preacher or two to walk up and down, and some warriors to take out the training huts should do the trick nicely. If you can arrange for your shaman to go into the attack at the same time, so much the better. Make sure that they are as close as reasonably possible to their targets, cast the spell and let rip!

Defending against these supercharged little devils is much harder. If they are coming towards you in a tight little bunch along a causeway, knocking them into the water with an offset blast shot can give great satisfaction. Failing that, try to get your forces to gang up on the attackers one by one. That way, your forces will be landing many (weak) blows for each of the attackers (mighty) blows, which evens things up a bit. The other thing is not to get so distracted that you forget about the enemy shaman who may, at that moment, be approaching your base with a full pocket of spells. Better to take her out with lightning before your base suffers even further indignities.

(Cost: 10,000, Range:4) - Guest spell

If your host has enabled armageddon, especially without asking, it is highly likely that his strategy will be focussed entirely on using it to win. This is an example of a 'stacked' game - you've got little chance unless you have a strategy already in mind. The way to win a game with Armageddon enabled is to build your population as fast as you can, and build multiple (say three) warrior training huts then, when you're close to getting the spell (or you think your enemy may have it), turn your entire population into warriors and hit the big red button (metaphorically speaking) as soon as they're all trained.

Armageddon doesn't make for a very good game in my opinion - just a race to see who builds fastest, but some people seem to like it.

Here's an interesting quirk pointed out to me by Shakey Jake: If you wait until you have the maximum number of followers (199) and train them all as warriors before you cast armageddon (in order to get maximum strength) you still get some braves when they line up in the arena. It seems that you get one brave for each hut which you have. If you demolish all your huts, then you just get all warriors. What we don't know is whether the braves appear in addition to the warriors, or as replacements. My guess is that they are additional because, in an armageddon between two exactly evenly matched sides, the player with more huts ought, by rights, to win. It's not easy counting the followers in armageddon though, so we may never know for sure.

Another quirk, this time from Cashflow: If you change to worldview *immediately* after a player casts armageddon, then you get to watch the whole sequence in worldview. If you are already in worldview when the spell is cast though, it just reverts to the normal view.

And another... (from Khickman):

In an armageddon match you can kill off an enemy tribe before the armageddon spell is cast without completely wiping out their tribe. To do it simply go into the enemies base and erode their reincarnation site into the water - the whole reincarnation site must be in the water. Then before the enemy shaman reincarnates, cast armageddon and they will die before the armageddon match starts!

Here is why it works: during an armageddon match, I somehow managed to pause the game, so I took a look around the world and I noticed that while the arena is being formed, all of the followers that will appear in the armageddon match, are placed in the reincarnation site until the arena is formed, so if thre is no land at the reincarnation site all of the followers wiill fall into the water and drown, this even includes the shaman too. I know first hand that this trick works, you just gotta erode the whole reincarnations site to the water and make sure the enemy shaman doesn't come back before you cast armageddon. I have tested this in both multiplayer and single player and I know for a fact that it works.

Just remember that sometimes the game may act up if this trick is performed. It did for me in single player a little, but I was still able to finish the level. Ironically i didnt happen in multiplayer, where most of the problems occur for practically everything else.

And finally.... if you cast some fiery spells (a volc and two earthquakes for instance) immediately before you cast Armageddon, the effects are combined and the final battle takes place in a boiling vat of molten lava. N-i-i-i-i-i-ce!

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