Army of Darkness (Guide)
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A guide to using Erebus' minions to their full potential.
Lord Erebus is a General type Demigod. He is a vampire, and his power reflects that in some of the most iconic vampiric supernatural powers: the ability to suck the blood out of another being for sustenance, turn into mist, polymorph into bats and seduce with the gaze.
But the ability that most overlook is the cast of minions Erebus has at his disposal. Namely, the Night Walkers.
This guide teaches how to make a support role Erebus who's good at XP and Gold farming and at head-on combat, but bad against certain kinds of Demigods with AoE and AoE towers, most effective at protecting flags and staying in the reinforcement lanes and least effective when chasing down retreating enemy Demigods. Most ignore that Lord Erebus is the most minion-heavy of the Generals, and that he's the one to gain the most from General-type items. Well, we can't have that now, can we?
Groundworks (Level 1-10)Edit
The most important thing to have in mind when pursuing this build is that you'll have to decide your priorities depending on the enemies you face. After all the points spent into empowering your minions, you have precious few to use at any other skill, so the skill or skills you do choose will reflect what you're trying to do best with this guide.
The first power you have to take is, regardless of how you decide to specialize later, Mist. It will basically be your tool to enforce that most needed skill any decent general will always have in mind: retreat. But in this case, "retreat" means "staying put immortal while supporting my troops and allies". Pretty cool, huh? Also, it bears to mind that it is the perfect counter to witty Demigods who happened to acquaint themselves with a Parasite Egg. Basically, if your minions are still alive, there's no reason to give tail yet. It is not like you actually work to get them... and it is not like the mist will not make more of them if you happen to be in the lane.
Also, whenever you actually have to retreat, due to your mana being too low to sustain the Mist or some other reason, it is good exercise to leave your minions attacking any Demigod chasing you while you're only focused on reaching your towers. If you're doing this build right by not using anything to increase your speed the enemy Demigod will be forced to follow you at your base speed, which is enough for your minions to catch up with him, and their damage is probably greater than his auto-attack damage (unless he has some nasty artifacts, but at that point you should be able to sustain the Mist for decent amounts of time after each cooldown). It is good tactical advice for any General Demigod. If you're still unsure, keep a Wand of Speed for yet another extra failsafe.
The rest basically writes itself:
This is the bread and butter of this build. Coven has priority over the Conversion Aura, so take it at as soon as level 2 and leave conversion aura for level 3, and keep raising as soon as possible. At the early parts of the game your minions will be pretty strong against non-artifact wielding Demigods and you pretty much can gank other players by yourself. Still, you can be over your head if you try to take on more than 1 Demigod at the same time, as always, except when defending, as I'll elaborate later.
In order for your minions to keep up with other Demigods as they climb up in power with equipment, you need (excuse me: you NEED) Morale. The bonuses may seem pathetic, but remember that each 4 points of bonus added is actually more like 40 damage by your minions auto-attack, and the attack speed adds up pretty well. Non-armored Demigods will find themselves killed in no time against your powered up minions. So, for that reason, increase morale whenever you can't think of anything better to do. Maxing out isn't necessary, but it certainly is encouraged. At least 4 points is the minimum if you really want your little walkers to shine, less than that only if you're really desperate and really need to try to counter two distinct types of Demigods by yourself... which isn't advisable.
Your "Get out of Jail Free" card. If things are not looking up where you are, the swarm is never a bad quick way-out. Don't use it for chases however, as you'll leave your minions behind, and you certainly don't want that. 1 point is plenty as well, as you don't want it costing any more mana than it already does. However, some Demigods can do nasty tricks to an entrenched Lord Erebus in Mist form. The Torchbearer can leave a Circle of Fire centered on your mist, another Erebus or the Oak can leave their minions lurking close and do something else, Regulus can place Mines under you, the Rook may surround you with Towers of Light and others may do some minor tricks. Most of the cases, you can escape most of the damage of the trap via Bat Swarm, if you remember to leave Mist before your mana is too low, but in the case of Mines you can only wait put until something else triggers the mine, which won't happen unless you're in a reinforcement lane or, less often, right on a flag. Unless, of course, you have some live minions still lurking about.
Mid- to Endgame (Level 11-20)Edit
Now that you know what your oponents are up to, you must make a choice of how to deal with them. That decision is hard to make, but it mainly depends of the other Demigods you're working with and how the enemies decided to deal with you. Alternatively, you can abstain from taking Coven to keep your opponents off-guard, and increasing one other skill in the mean-time. This has the advantage of making it harder for you enemies to counter you, because they'll be further along the run with their builds already in place, and only the Conversion Aura and Morale isn't enough to tip the enemies off that you're going full general on the game. The bad news is that YOU won't have the flexibility of deciding what you're going for. It's up to you.
Sure, you have to keep an eye for Army of the Night. The life-drain is hardly essential, but the increased attack speed for minions is always good, and you'll have to get these whenever you can. Also, it is a good way to keep tabs at approximately how much damage your minions are doing (about 10 times the number you see, 5 times if you go for Vampiric Aura in Mist of Doom). You may need to sacrifice a skill for it, however.
Variant 1: Blood ChaseEdit
You want to chase down these pesky enemy Demigods and be a force to be reckoned with, while still having all these neat minions to do your biding and make your personal ganking group. Or maybe the enemy Demigods just decided to counter your Army of Doom by increasing their armor to ridiculous amounts. Well, look no further than the Blood Chase. Here you have great staying power against other Demigods, slow them down so you minions can keep up, stun when needed, and debuff their armor to directly buff your minions' damage. And you get most of this "all-in-one" just with one ability:
If no enemy Demigod has been particularly difficult to you, you can start taking Bite and laugh maniacally. Also, if you're trying to "feign" not being in full-general-mode, as pointed above, this is a good bet to take early. No-one will rise an eyebrow at a Lord Erebus with Bite, and it will help you tank in the earlier gimped levels of the feint. Also, it will help the chase, what with the -30% speed debuff it carries. If the enemy Demigod isn't geared towards speed your minions will even catch-up with him. Finally the -700 armor is a great help. Against most unarmored Demigods this will kick them at a stage of protection worse than they were at level 1. And against armored ones this will ensure your minions are still useful.
Interrupts enemy skills and stuns him for enough time so your minions can land one more blow. Always useful, and for a front-line general like the Blood Chase Erebus it's always good to have a way to foil a potion or teleport scroll.
Variant 2: Mist of DoomEdit
At least one of the enemy Demigods made an overpowered build where you simply has absolutely NO staying power against him. Well... too bad he can't hit you.
If you go all the way to Bloody Haze, you're radically increasing your minions' staying power while giving a nice boom to allies. Basically, you're firming your role in the support, and make it a hell for enemies to advance where you're sitting. They're trying to take a flag? Too bad a death mist is sitting in the flag with 16 beefed up thugs waiting for someone to come close by to get a nice mauling. The enemy reinforcements are making a spearhead through your base? Not past the Mist of Doom. In this variant you're unlikely to kill any enemy demigod, but you sure as hell can make him pay for fooling himself into believing he could off you. Making him retreat is already a victory in the context of a team game, and you're getting tons of gold and XP from the reinforcements anyway, so why bother killing an enemy Demigod? You're being almost as good at helping your allies as Sedna or the Queen of Thorns, except that you're not making yourself a target in the process.
Another option in the Mist of Doom is to delve even deeper into support role by reaching for the Vampiric Aura, at the price of a sub-par level of Morale. As said, maxing Morale isn't enforced, but if you're really going to sacrifice it, you could do worse than a Vampiric Aura to help out your minions and your allies even more.
Variant 3: Crowd PleaserEdit
Well, you're facing at least two mass-murderers. Be it an AoE Torch Bearer, a Thorny Queen of Thorns, an Avenging Regulus, whatever... they made a build designed to kill reinforcements... and your minions. Seems you're screwed... that is, if they could actually manage to attack.
This power seem to have been made as being a way to shield your minions against AoE barrage. 3 seconds is a whole lot of time: Namely, just about enough time for your minions to take an enemy Demigod from "Fine" to "Fu...Not-at-All-Fine". With the cool-down debuff from Muddle and they surely won't recover from it, and squishies will go squish.
Here you can use Bat Swarm to chase and damage. But mainly to quickly close the gap to the enemy and stun them at once. What more there is to say?
Whatever you do, if you're against AoE powerhouses you're better-off fighting in reinforcement lanes. There you can whittle down their mana on several waves of Nightwalkers that you keep making from his reinforcements (and yours). Even if his mana regeneration is enough to suffer this, you'll keep getting fresh minions to attack him if you play smart and make good use of the Bat Swarm and Mist. Just remember the golden rule: Stay in the opposite direction of your minions are against these kinds of Demigods. If he is damaging your minions, he mustn't be damaging you as well, and if he's damaging you, he better not be damaging your minions. This takes a bit of micromanaging. You'll probably fare better not attacking him in direct melee, and, save Regulus, AoE attacks are usually relatively lower damage than direct ones. All this is null once the Charm cooldown is up. You throw everything at your enemies at those intervals.
It mainly depends on the Variation you're choosing afterwards. As a good rule of thumb, keep 3 equipment slots for Minion Improving equipment and 1 consumable slot for Minion Support consumables.
One decent strategy to make gold is leaving your minions as "enforcers" on a reinforcement lane while you go capture flags, effectively doubling your income, as long as you babysit your minions a bit. Remember to buy Currency upgrade as soon as possible and keep an eye for the flags that control Gold Mines. And retreat at the sight of any enemy Demigod when you're separated from your personal army.
In the start it is good to take the Gladiator Gloves and a Siege Archer Idol. Afterward either go for armor and health if you're planning on fighting and misting only in f-ups or mana regeneration if you're going for the most staying power in mist form. If your mana pool and regeneration get to a certain point where you stay in mist form for a lengthy time, you can start protecting lanes and flags easier. Even against more than one enemy Demigod you should be able to keep them busy at a flag for long enough that an ally come to support you. You just need to know when to enter mist form to annoy the enemy, if they stay they'll be damaged heavily by your minions, and if they leave you bought some time.
In Blood Chase it is better to get items to improve your minions damage, since the dps will most likely be focused on you. In Mist of Doom it is better to increase your mana regeneration to levels close Erebus's Never-Ending Mist. In Crowd Pleaser it is better to give your minions health from all possible sources so they survive enough time for you to stun the enemies.
As for Favor Items you have to either try to predict which variant you'll have to use or either just wait till you decide to take one. In this case Ring of Divine Might for Blood Chase, Pendant of Prescience for Mist of Doom and Horn of Battle for Crowd Pleaser. If in doubt, Horn of Battle really makes a difference for their staying power against anything.
As for Artifacts, all artifacts are good, but some really make a difference for a first pick. Mage Slayer is good for Blood Chase, but the Unmaker is better, Cloak of Flames increase quite a bit the dangerous factor of the area and the staying power of your mist in Mist of Doom and Bracelet of Rage lets you take the most use of your stun in Crowd Pleaser.