Populous II: Trials of the Olympian Gods

Populous II: Trials of the Olympian Gods

             C h r i s    L e e ' s

    P o p u l o u s    I I     G u i d e                                 v 0.91

The officially latest (as well as latest, official) version of this FAQ/Guide
can be found at www.gamefaqs.com.

Table of Contents                                                          *---
A word on navigation: to jump to a specific section, simply use the 'FIND'
command (CTRL-F or Apple-F) and type in the four letter key next to the section
(doing only the three numbers after the asterisk will probably send you to a
random section of the guide).

Note that if you ever want to navigate back to the Table of Contents, search
for (with an asterisk in front) '---'.

Periodically, you'll find mentions of "find shortcuts" - the asterisk followed
by the three digit number is exactly what they reference, only without the
Introduction   *INT::
How To Play   *HOW::

Basics & Bugs  *BAS::
    1.  Computer Assistant   *BAS:COM
    2.  Pathfinding Issues   *BAS:PAT
    3.  Max Population   *BAS:MAX
    4.  Population Control   *BAS:POP
    5.  Unit Strength   *BAS:UNI
    6.  Enemy AI   *BAS:ENE
    7.  Scoring/Experience Bolts   *BAS:SCO
    8.  Minor Gods   *BAS:MIN

Other Bugs   *OTH::
    1.  Edge Issues   *OTH:EDG
    2.  Intervention Limits   *OTH:INT
    3.  Map Limits   *OTH:MAP
    4.  Platform Issues   *OTH:PLA

People Effects   *PEO::
    1.  Raise/Lower Land   *PEO:RAI
    2.  Place Papal Magnet   *PEO:PLA
    3.  Perseus   *PEO:PER
    4.  Plague   *PEO:PLA
    5.  Armageddon   *PEO:ARM

Vegetation Effects   *VEG::
    1.  Plant Trees   *VEG:PLANTT
    2.  Plant Flowers   *VEG:PLANTF
    3.  Swamps   *VEG:SWA
    4.  Fungus   *VEG:FUN
        a.  Special Notes/Patterns   *VEG:FUN:SPE
        b.  Normal Notes   *VEG:FUN:NOR
    5.  Adonis   *VEG:ADO

Earth Effects   *EAR::
    1.  Build Roads   *EAR:BUILDR
    2.  Build City Walls   *EAR:BUILDC
    3.  Earthquake   *EAR:EAR
    4.  Batholith   *EAR:BAT
    5.  Hercules   *EAR:HER

Fire Effects   *FIR::
    1.  Fire Column   *FIR:FIR
    2.  Rain of Fire   *FIR:RAI
    3.  Achilles   *FIR:ACH
    4.  Volcano   *FIR:VOL
    5.  Divine Fire   *FIR:DIV

Air Effects   *AIR::
    1.  Lightning Bolt   *AIR:LIG
    2.  Whirlwind   *AIR:WHI
    3.  Storm   *AIR:STO
    4.  Odysseus   *AIR:ODY
    5.  Hurricane  *AIR:HUR

Water Effects   *WAT::
    1.  Basalt   *WAT:BAS
    2.  Whirlpool   *WAT:WHI
    3.  Baptismal Fonts   *WAT:BAP
    4.  Helen of Troy   *WAT:HEL
    5.  Tidal Wave   *WAT:TID

Appendix   *APP
    History   *APP:HIS
    All Works      *APP:ALL

Introduction                                                             *INT::
Populous II is a really old game.  In fact, outside of some hardcore gaming
circles, it's a pretty obscure game.  That being said, its gameplay is unique
and unmatched even by its sequel (Populous III reverted from being a God game
to being a standard fare strategy game).  So if you like/can tolerate retro
gaming, it's worth the effort to pick this up again.

That being said, there's almost nothing written about this game, save for a
hard-to-find strategy guide and limited documentaiton online.  So I aim to
fill that gap.

If you have any comments, questions, or just want to say hey, just send me
an email to:
WITHOUT the underscores.  I just put those in there from crawlers nabbing my
email for spam purposes.

This guide is a work in progress, so please feel free to give me your feedback.
I try to respond to all emails, but please don't be offended if I don't, as I
tend to have a pretty busy schedule these days.  Cheers!

How to Play                                                              *HOW::
In this day and age, if you want to play Populous II, you either need to resort
to super nintendo emulation (for Populous II the console game) or DOS emulation
(for Populous II the computer game).  I definitely recommend the latter, as
the super nintendo version is gimped in many ways:  less levels, a missing
intervention, and definitely a much worse control scheme.

If you're feeling incredibly legit, you can try and eBay an old floppy or CD
of this game, but I think that's really pushing it as this game is essentially
abandoned.  Go to one of the many abandonware sites out there and find it.
Install DOSBox, follow the instructions, and then type "go" to start.

Reader Jamie also mentioned that a fully legit way to go about getting this
game is to take advantage of Good Old Games (www.gog.com).  It's the DOS
version (which this guide recommends), comes with the manual, and is only 6
bucks.  Support retro gaming!

If you need more help then that, feel free to get in touch with me.  I'll try
to expand this section as necessary.  Though honestly, if you're already
looking to play a retro game like Populous II, you're probably going to be
fine on your own.

Basics                                                                   *BAS::
An unsorted hodgepodge of basic things you need to know.
1.  Computer Assistant                                                 *BAS:COM

Inside the game options is an option to turn on a "Computer Assistant."  This
computer assistant will take care of flattening land for you (though in a
specific manner, see below) as well as regularly sprogging settlements, whether
you need it to or not.  This may sound like a handicap for newbie players, but
in reality, learning to master the computer assistant is an essential skill for
prospering in this game.
    That being said, I highly recommend playing at least the first ten conquest
maps without an assistant, just so you can find a rhythm of sprogging, land
management, and intervention use.  After that, flip it on and see how much more
you can accomplish.
    It has been brought to my attention, however, that if you're not using the
DOS version, the computer assistant may be very hard to deal with, since only
the DOS version has really good support for a mouse interface.  Using a SNES
controller, for example, to complement/fight the computer assistant can get
old very quickly.  In such a case, you'll have to exercise your own discretion,
but I highly recommend getting the DOS version of Populous II.  The SNES was
sufficiently nerfed in difficulty so that you don't need a computer assistant
(but there are only 25 levels), but from what I've heard the Amiga version just
puts you at a disadvantage compared to the DOS version.

Anyway, when it comes to leveling land, the computer assistant always strives
to make enough flat land around a settlement so that it can expand into a
castle.  The only problem is that it _only_ does that.  In fact, if you don't
pay attention, the assistant will level enough land to make castles and will
stop trying to actively help you expand, which requires you to remain vigilant
about keeping your territory growing.
    The assistant is also _very_ finicky when it comes to chunks of land it
can't affect to help make castle property.  If you're on a map that has "can't
raise land" enabled and the assistant runs into a single tile that needs to be
raised, it'll completely stop and give up, even if every other tile nearby
can be lowered just fine.
    If you have two settlements on different elevations, the assistant will
arbitrarily choose one to help out at the expense of the other.  Frequently
this means that the assistant will start raising land to help out a settlement
that spawned stupidly on a hill, uprooting many castles in the process.  In
the worst case, the assistant starts fighting with itself, constantly raising
and lowering the same chunk of land.
    The assistant will also help clear up damaged land on occasion, but not
very often.  Moreover, on occasion your assistant will help recover from
Earthquake and some other interventions, but this is _very_ rare, so you
shouldn't rely on it.

When it comes to sprogging, the assistant follows the Chicago rules of voting:
early and often.  In practice, this means on later maps (where mana production
is less fertile), your assistant will gleefully sprog settlements, creating
fragile walkers (since it's so early) which will have no place to settle (since
mana is so tight that you can't raise or lower land).  They end up dying and
you end up stunting your own growth.
    Even with this shortcoming, later on this aggressive sprogging works out
quite well when you have Go To Papal Magnet enabled, as your assistant will
ensure a steady stream of walkers to strengthen your leader.
    However, be warned that on maps with "no sprog" enabled, your assistant
will still "try."  In effect, this means your assistant is right-clicking on
all settlements which, without sprogging enabled, lowers land.  This means that
in these situations, your "assistant" will "helpfully" destroy all your
settlements for you.  Needless to say, on these conquest maps you should never
turn your assistant on.  As far as I can tell, the designers anticipated this
as all conquest maps I've played where sprogging is disabled have enemy deities
that are some form of slow ("very slow", "sleepy", "labored").

Keeping all this in mind, you have to know _when_ to use the assistant and
_how_ to use it.  For example, the last thing you want when the first hint of
Plague hits you is a sprog-happy assistant spreading it to the rest of your
population.  Also, you don't really want it to prevent your efforts to drown
any infected walkers.  You also, for example, don't want to have the assistant
on in sparse conditions, where all it will do is waste your mana by sprogging
walkers to their death.
    You also have to make sure to raise/lower extra land outside of any "castle
land" the assistant is setting up.  This way sprogged walkers have a place to
go settle, and this helps create a virtuous cycle where the assistant then
tries to expand that chunk of land into castle property -> you create a bit of
extra land on top of that -> walker settles there -> assistant expands that
into castle land -> etc.
    You also have to remain very diligent of what elevation all your
settlements are at and what the map rules are.  An assistant is more than happy
to blow all your mana trying to raise all your territory to elevation 8 after
a stray walker settles on top of a mountain.  Similarly, you have to make sure
to not "foil" an assistant on maps where either raise or lower are not enabled,
as simply raising land that an assistant was already raising (and thus
creating a hill) on a map that doesn't allow for "lower land" will cripple the

An assistant is more than just something you can "set and forget."  You have to
be active and diligent about it, switching it off when necessary.  In the ideal
case, the assistant works out the tedious details for you while you still
actively oversee expansion, all the while having more time spared to repair
damaged land and let loose with interventions.  In the worst case, with
improper use, you are constantly fighting the assistant's intentions, all the
while it drains all your mana for fighting.  The computer assistant is there
for a reason--almost necessary for any conquest map past #100 or so.  But, the
assistant is also a skill to develop over the course of the game.  Learn it.
2.   Pathfinding Issues                                                *BAS:PAT

Whenever you have Go To Papal Magnet influence enabled or have a few heroes
running about, it's a good idea to periodically check in on your wandering
units.  The reason is because the path finding engine in Populous II is a bit
dumb (what do you expect from something that was made before Windows?).  So
on occasion you'll have walkers or heroes that _really_ want to get to a
location but are stopped at a shoreline.  For some reason, they don't have the
good sense to navigate around that shoreline, which means it's up to you, the
almighty deity of these people, to raise some land to give them an alternate
route to their destination.

Another common pathfinding issue tends to occur when you have the Fight Enemy
influence enabled or have lots of Rocks around.  In such a case you'll see
walkers, leaders, and heros (frequently the latter two) moving back and forth
on one tile, or two walkers trying to engage each other but constantly just
moving past each other and never actually meeting.  I suspect this is an
artifact of the primitiveness of the pathfinding engine.  In most cases you
can fix this by switching to Settle influence, altering the land a bit (either
to sink a rock or level out a hill), or switching to Go To Papal Magnet
influence and then switching back after the walkers/leaders have moved away
from their current location.
3.  Max Population                                                     *BAS:MAX

Note that there is actually a sort of "maximum" to your population.  You won't
hit it often, but there are some long-running conquest maps (namely ones
where you don't have Armageddon or some hard-hitting offensive intervention)
where this will become an issue.  Namely, once you approach and hit 50% of the
the stadium in the top right, the game will severely curtail your ability to
generate new units.  This has two effects:
    You cannot sprog!  You can right click all you want, but no unit will pop
out.  This is most problematic if you experience the issue in BAS:UNI where
your leader is so high strength as to not pop out of a settlement, as you'll
effectively keep your leader trapped in a settlement.  In this situation, you
have to either raise or lower land to destroy the settlement so that your
leader is freed.
    Adonis will no longer split after a victory!  This turns Adonis from being
one of the best interventions in the game into being an expensive, dumb
Perseus (though he still has immunity to Swamps and Fungus).

It's important to remain aware of your population.  The inability to sprog
means Go To Papal Magnet gets a lot weaker with the computer assistant, for
example.  Plus it means you have to be more diligent when responding to
displacing events.
4.  Population Control                                                 *BAS:POP

One of the most important strategies to succeed in Populous II is population
control.  The way to defeat the enemy is to contain their ability to expand
their population and consequently their mana base.  You may start off horribly
outmanned in many of the later conquest maps, but the key to victory is to
use everything you can to disrupt their population control to eventually
outgrow them, all while recovering from the effects of their intervention.  As
such, whenever relevant, I signify when certain interventions make for excellent
early game population control.

Remember:  even if it looks like the enemy has a lot of dots on their map, if
all those dots are tiny houses and huts instead of castles, you're doing ok.
5.  Unit Strength                                                      *BAS:UNI

The manual briefly touches on this, but I think it needs more clarification.
If at any point you have a unit or settlement in focus (they appear in the
stadium), there are two important indicators of a unit/settlement
effectiveness.  The first is their "technology" level, which is indicated by
a weapon icon in the lower-left of the stadium.  As far as I can tell, it
ranges from:
        Fist (worst)
        Fist with Rock
        Bow and Arrow
        Sword (best)
All this means is how much damage they do per 'cycle' of fighting when they
run into an enemy unit.
    The second is the different flag poles around the stadium.  They represent
the actual strength or health of the unit.  Think of them like digits of a
number; the furthest right is the "ones" digit, then the one to the left is the
"tens" digit, etc.  As long as a walker is in a settlement, this will steadily
climb (indicated by rising flags).  When sprogged or the settlement reaches
maximum capacity, a walker will take some of the strength of the settlement
with them. As long as any unit is not inside a settlement, they will slowly
lose strength due to exposure; on some map types this exposure damage is very
severe (swamp is the worst I believe).  When any walker, hero, or settlement
(from Lightning Bolt) hits 0 strength, they die/are destroyed.  While there are
eight total flag poles, in practice you will almost never get past the fifth
flag pole from the right (the 10,000s digit). In a few rare cases you may get
to the sixth flag pole from the right, just barely (the 100,000s digit), most
likely from creating a Hercules hero. But you will most likely hit other issues
before you get much higher (especially the max population issue in BAS:MAX).
All of this is, of course, most likely only possible on your leader and after
you've had Go To Papal Magnet on for a while to let walkers collide.

Every time two friendly walkers collide, they merge into one unit with the
total strength of the two combined and the highest technology level of the two.
 So merging a Sword guy and a Fist guy will still result in a guy with Sword
technology.  So even if you don't have a lot of Castles (which produce Sword
technology unites), even just having a few is good enough if you can get your
walkers to merge a lot.

In practice though, I rarely find it important enough to pay much attention to
technology.  Brute unit strength seems to matter a lot, especially since it
seems like Sword or no, units take the same amount of exposure damage.

There is a particular issue with units with high strength however, only really
noticable with a leader that you've been building up.  If a unit with a really
high strength enters a settlement that has a much lower maximum-possible
strength, instead of immediately popping back out, the leader will get _stuck_.
I suspect internally, having such a large number causes a "rollover" effect,
where it goes from being a massive large number to being a really small number
(programmers familiar with how negative numbers are represented internally
will understand).  Point is, once this happens, you have to manually sprog the
leader out, or else he won't do anything.  More problematically, this issue
tends to start cropping up around the same time as the issue in BAS:MAX, which
means soon you won't even be able to sprog.
6.  Enemy AI                                                           *BAS:ENE

Every time you're about to do a conquest game, be sure to click on the button
next to your opponent's name.  Even if it's the same deity, the AI most likely
will have changed.

AI is described by two measures: how fast it is, and how aggressive it is.
Speed is gauged by words like Very Slow, Sleepy, Labored, Medium, Very
Fast, etc.  Aggressiveness is gauged by words like Pacifist, Killer, etc.
Once you have an idea of the enemy, you should adapt your strategy to them.
For very aggressive AIs, you should probably toss your Go To Papal Magnet into
their territory early on, steal the offensive from them.  For Very Fast, you
should probably refrain from time-consuming interventions, like Build Roads or
7.  Scoring/Experience Bolts                                           *BAS:SCO

A major focus of this guide is basically arguing the best way to spend your
hard-earned experience bolts on various intervention effects.  What are they?

Experience Bolts are rewarded at the end of a map based exclusively on score.
You start off with five to distribute, but after that, you can get anywhere
from one to five, whether you win or lose.  (Note that if you lose a conquest
map, even though you don't get the final battle-review scene, you still gain
an experience bolt to distribute in the 'Create Your Diety' section.)

Scoring is based on a bunch of voodoo that took place during the match.  It
shows you how much mana you accumulated, how many leaders you've killed, etc
but the single most important determinant on your score is how many
interventions you do.  It might be apparent at the low end (if you do less than
50, for example), but becomes much more apparent at the high end (greater than

As such, some interventions become very good for ensuring you have a decent
rate of experience bolt gain at the end of the match:
    Place Papal Magnet
    Plant Flowers
    Fungus (each time a new one is created, I believe this counts as an
    Build Road
If you use these aggressively (which you should be doing anyway, save for
Build Road), you'll find yourself regularly getting at least three bolts at
the end of match.

Note that thoeretically you can degeneratively sit there spamming Place Papal
Magnet back and forth by one tile, but that would honestly get very boring
very quickly for just getting one or two extra experience bolts per match.

For reference sake, about 13-15k points per score equals an experience bolt.
8.  Minor Gods                                                         *BAS:MIN

Once the map is mostly settled, the game starts introducing disruptive "Minor
Gods" as basically a "HURRY UP!" reminder.  These tend to be equalizers; they
are map-wide effects (in that they go from one end of the map to the other),
so the person with the most territory will most likely be the most affected.

Fire God
    Creates lots of Fire Columns as it walks across the map.  The second-worst
    one to get, and can easily destory a lot of valuable territory when it

Earth God (Earth Elemental in the manual)
    Easily the worst.  Creates a special kind of Earthquake (one that doesn't
    open up), so you always know if an Earth God has been by.  Unlike an
    actual Earthquake, you can immediately raise/lower land as he's walking
    around to repair the damage, and in fact if you can raise/lower the land
    so that the Earth God is walking on an incline or on water, no damage
    will occur!

Plant God
    Just grows a lot of trees.  Actually does nothing if the tree-limit for
    the map has been reached.  Fun trick: if it goes through the enemy land,
    lighting one tree on fire will create a long fire effect as each tree
    burns down.

Wind God
    Drops lots of Whirlwinds as it wanders from one end of the map to the
    other.  Mostly harmless, unless those Whirlwinds toss your walkers into
    other interventions or start wandering into the water, spawning lots of

Water God (Poseidon?)
    Just lowers the land to create a 2x2 water square as it wanders. Like a
    Tidal Wave, except much, much, much weaker.  Considering that this
    generally just means a free sprogging and doesn't potentially set you up
    for disaster, this is probably the most harmless minor god out there.

Other Bugs                                                               *OTH::
1.  Edge Issues                                                        *OTH:EDG

Due to what appears to be a programming error regarding the dimensions of the
map, the absolute edge of the map is mostly ignored by both the AI and your
computer assistant.

This also means that there are certain interaction issues:  The very top cell
is problematic for walkers, and the very edges of the maps will cause Tidal
Waves to die out before being able to do anything (and will just eat your
2.  Intervention Limits                                                *OTH:INT

While you won't run into this issue for a while, there is a cap on the number
of simultaneous interventions that can occur at the same time.  This is a
_shared_ limitation between you and the enemy, and unfortunately AI will have
the ability to lay out so many interventions as to reach this cap.

This becomes apparent in a late conquest map where you're up against a diety
that can only do Storm.  Once they achieve enough mana, they will constantly
sweep your land and lay out Storms and basically block you from ever doing
another intervention for the rest of the map.  There's nothing you can do about
this, though you can still Place Papal Magnet.  Just do that and try to make
an early push.
3.  Map Limits                                                         *OTH:MAP

Trees, Rocks, and City Walls have a finite cap that they are allowed on the
map.  This means that once you hit the cap, the Plant Trees, Batholith, and
Build City Walls interventions will cease to have an effect, until you destroy
4.  Platform Issues                                                    *OTH:PLA

There appear to be some differences between DOS and other platforms.  To

    DOS version may have the weakest pathfinding (it may have been improved
        when ported to other systems).
    DOS version has maximum allowable number of simultaneous sounds.  This has
        the effect that if you have something Plagued in your view, the "caw
        caw" noise will almost certainly prevent anything else from playing.
    Other versions may have noticably worse performance, due to a lack of

People Effects                                                           *PEO::
Some basic stuff here. Spending experience bolts here is debatable, as I can
only really tell that two abilities benefit (which is the least out of any
effect).  But one of them is so good it might be worth it, based on your
1.  Raise/Lower Land                                                   *PEO:RAI

Does:  Exactly what it says.  Note that even if you don't have this displayed
on the conquest map menu, you may still be able to raise/lower land - your
ability to do so is not based on having to activate this effect, but rather the
conquest map rules themselves.

Experience Bolts:  May make each use cheaper, but if it does, the effect is so
subtle it might as well not do anything at all.
2.  Place Papal Magnet                                                 *PEO:PLA

Does:  If you have a leader, this will let you mark a new location for your
papal magnet. In some maps (notably ones without Armageddon available), this
plus the Go To Papal Magnet influence will be the main path you have to

Experience bolts:  Doesn't do anything as far as I can tell.
3.  Perseus                                                            *PEO:PER

Does:  Turns your leader into Perseus.  Perseus has the same strength as the
leader used to create him.  He will also avoid obstacles.

Experience bolts:  Makes him move faster.

Notes:  Perseus and Achilles are the two Tier 3 heroes, and I'd argue that
Perseus is the better of the two in general situations. Tier 3 heroes are cheap
and easy to get up and running, though of course by the time you create one he
won't be that strong.
    Unlike other heroes, Perseus isn't immune to anything--heroes are immune to
the divine interventions from the same effect, but there's nothing in the
People Effects that can affect Perseus. However, Perseus makes up for this by
being _virtually_ immune to many effects--he'll walk around traps and
obstacles. Essentially, this means he's immune to Swamps, Fungus (unless they
bloom on top of him), Earthquake, Lava (provided it's stopped by a hill so he
has an alternate route), and Baptismal Fonts.
    Of these, Lava is the most likely to kill him, as it comes out so fast he
probably won't be able to get out the way.  Which makes Fire Perseus's
weakness. A fine coincidence, since the other Tier 3 hero is Achilles, who is
immune to Fire effects.

Putting points here is not worth it on its own; while getting Perseus to move
faster is certainly nice, but isn't that different from the other heroes, so
this shouldn't be the only reason you have to invest here.
    However, because Perseus is able to maneuver around things that would kill
many other heroes, you'll still find plenty of use for him.  Only have
Hercules and Perseus available, but there are Swamps galore?  No problem!
Just send lots of Perseus instead!  Even if you have "better" heroes,
available, if there's a wide diversity of hazards (Swamps and Baptismal Fonts
for example), Perseus may be your best option.
4.  Plague                                                             *PEO:PLA

Does:  Lets you infect a settlement or walker with a contagious plague.  While
plagued, the settlement makes minimal contribution to mana.  When Armageddon is
called, all plagued settlements and walkers instantly disintegrate.

Experience bolts:  Makes it cheaper.

Notes:  Really powerful.  You'll probably be on the receiving end before you
get a chance to use it, and you'll know just how devastating it is to have your
mana base eroded out from under you (not to mention how annoying that Caw-Caw
sound is).  When using it, try to target either an enemy leader (if he's in
a settlement or holy fired on a Papal Magnet), or on a Castle near the fringes
(so that a walker from here will infect many other settlements along the way).
If you also have a chance to disrupt the land, do it--plaguing a castle and
then using a Batholith to instantly make the settlement into a walker is really
devastating, for example.
    I can't emphasize how powerful it is.  Once you got it starting to spread
(and you shouldn't need more than a couple of uses to do so), you'll notice
that the AI is barely using any of their effects, if at all.  Just whatever you
do, don't use Baptismal Fonts when Plague is around or vice versa!  The last
thing you want is to get your own walkers infected.

If you are ever on the receiving end of this, you need to act fast.  On any map
where you suspect Plague, keep an eye on the minimap.  The moment one of your
blue dots stops flashing white and starts flashing a green-gray, immediately
center your view on it and right-click like mad around the settlement and then
on the settlement to drown the walker.  Even if you have multiple infected
settlements, as long as you can contain them and kill them, you must!  Losing
a few castles and walkers is a small cost compared to having your entire mana
base eroded.  It's worth disabling your computer assistant and turning off any
Go To Papal Magnet or Group Up influences just to make sure you can wipe out
your plagued walkers without any interference or further risk of spread.

Experience bolts slowly reduce the cost of using Plague.  This ability is so
strong is makes it worth it to invest in People Effects alone.  The earlier
you can drop a Plague, the better.
5.  Armageddon                                                         *PEO:ARM

Does:  Turns all settlements and walkers into non-Helen of Troy heroes (without
any of their special abilities) and forces them to charge into each other until
only one side remains.  Plagued walkers and settlements disintegrate instead.

Experience bolts:  No effect that I can tell.  If it makes it cheaper, it's
either so subtle or this ability so expensive it's not noticeable.

Notes:  Ends the game, pretty much.  In rare cases the enemy will use it, but
they aren't always smart about it (sometimes they'll just do it and end up
losing).  Heroes can still be affected by effects, which can work to your
advantage in the rare situation an enemy calls Armageddon and you are on the
losing end. I've eked out a win before with a few Baptismal Fonts (when I was
behind significantly before the call to judgment).  This also means that you
should pay attention when you use Armageddon yourself.  While the game will
automatically raise land under the heroes so they can cross water and over some
obstacles, it's not perfect, so you can still lose people to Earthquake,
Swamps, and Fungus.  And, as hinted at before, this ability completely ignores
Baptismal Fonts, so the moment you hear a splash, you should find where it's
coming from to make sure it's not screwing you over.

Vegetation Effects                                                       *VEG::
Personally, my favorite category of interventions.  A lot of useful stuff, and
well worth investing in with Experience Bolts.
1.  Plant Trees                                                     *VEG:PLANTT

Does:  After clicking, trees slowly rise from the ground.

Experience bolts:  No idea.  May make it cheaper, may raise a few more trees,
but in all likelihood they do nothing.

Notes:  I can't actually tell if there are any direct effects from using this.
The manual mentions 'popularity points', so my best guess is it may slightly
increase how quickly your settlers reproduce.  Otherwise, the only direct
effect is that you get a few more points at the end of the map.

There is one very notable indirect tactic with this.  Find an area within the
enemy territory, and keep planting trees until you have a _very_ dense
coverage, basically almost 1 tree per tile.  Then do any fire effect.  Each
tree will catch on fire and then catch the neighboring trees on fire, burning
anything else on that tile (walkers or settlements).  You can wipe out the
entire enemy with one fire effect!
    There is one very notable caveat, and this is why I suspect having trees
around increases reproduction rate or at least mana production rate.  On a
more advanced map I tried planting trees everywhere, and I got a very early
Volcano smack in my face.  I restarted the map and tried the Trees on myself,
and not only did I not get an early Volcano in the face, but it also made it
feel like I had more to do, earlier on.  Take with a grain of salt, but ever
since then I always plant a few trees early on when I can.
2.  Plant Flowers                                                   *VEG:PLANTF

Does:  After clicking, a random smattering of tiles around your click point
sprout flowers.  Flowers are like normal land, except they overwrite any other
tile effect (damaged land, Swamp, Fungus, Earthquake, Volcano-damaged land,
and Basalt).

Experience bolts:  Either makes it slightly cheaper to use or increases the
maximum possible number of flowers that bloom.

Notes:  This alone makes Vegetation effects worth investing in.  Early on you
might not give it much thought, but after the first Volcano hits you, you'll
wish you had this.  As conquest maps progress, enemies also start getting
quicker about using their interventions on you, and even with computer
assistant on, it can be very overwhelming to constantly try and repair affected
land by raising it and lowering it one tile.  Plus, there are many maps where
you can't raise or lower a tile, effectively making that way to recover land
    Enter this ability!  It may take a few clicks to get a decent smattering of
usable tiles, but spamming this three or so times (for speed, tap 2 on the
keyboard once you have Vegetation Effects selected and then click, rinse and
repeat) will largely cure what ails you.  You don't have to get every tile,
just enough for your walkers to resettle; your computer assistant can take over
later.  As a plus, on any map where you are using this a lot, you'll end up
with a high score at the end of the match, which means more experience.
    You can also use this offensively.  Heroes, lightning, and fire are great,
but when they destroy a settlement, they torch the entire land the settlement
had.  Great to prevent the enemy from resettling instantly, but bad for you to
take over.  Simply have Go To Papal Magnet influence on and use your Papal
Magnet to have walkers follow the path of destruction a hero takes.  Once you
march into some damaged land, switch to Settle influence and spam this a few
times.  Your walkers will instantly find some homes, your computer assistant
will probably take over and heal out the rest, and you've denied your enemy a
chance to rebuild.
    Basically - once you start getting used to having this ability around,
maps where you don't have access to it will seem incredibly annoying and
difficult.  Having Plant Flowers turns enemy Volcanos from a certain-to-lose
situation to a minor annoyance.

The manual also mentions 'popularity points'.  Aside from affecting your score,
I take it to mean that by getting rid of damaged land you can produce more
walkers and more mana.  This is the only reason why I suspect Plant Trees
does one or the other.
    Ignore everything else the manual says.  How flowers cluster, etc has no
bearing on how flowers work.  Maybe at one point it used to function like
Fungus, but now it's more like Swamps or Baptismal Fonts.
3.  Swamps                                                             *VEG:SWA

Does:  Similar to Plant Flowers, once you click, a random smattering of Swamps
appear.  A walker who walks into a Swamp instantly drowns.  On some maps,
"Swamps are shallow" may be enabled, which means once a Swamp consumes a walker
it disappears.

Experience Bolts:  Makes it cheaper and increases the likelihood that you get
more swamps on a use.

Notes:  It's an early staple so it might seem pretty vanilla, but this is
actually quite a good ability.  It's a *population control* ability: using it
will disrupt any castles the enemy had and, provided that swamps aren't
shallow, will continue to hinder population growth because most AI aren't smart
enough to instantly clear out the Swamps by using Plant Flowers or raising and
lowering land.  Use it early, use it often.  Swamps will never win a game for
you, but they will help make the road to victory go a little bit smoother.
    If swamps are shallow, then Swamps become a bit worse than using Rain of
Fire.  Unlike that intervention, a Swamp will never appear right underneath a
Settlement (causing the walker inside to instantly die).  Moreover, since it
can't do that, it doesn't have the beneficial effect of burning up all the
settlement land.  It's still worth using if you can, though, because breaking
up enemy Castles is still an important thing to do.
4.  Fungus                                                             *VEG:FUN

Does:  Creates a Fungus on the tile.  If there already isn't an active "Game
of Life" simululation going on within a given range (approximately 2 screens),
the Fungus remains as a 'spore' on the ground to give you time to plant a
few more Fungus.  After some seconds, any spores will explode and the "Game of
Life" simulation will begin for this area.  However, If a simulation was
already in progress, the spore will explode immediately, in rhythm with the
current simulation.
    Fungus appear and disappear on tiles according to the rules of "Conway's
Game of Life" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conway's_Game_of_Life).  Summarized
here, every time the spores explode, the following is checked:
        1.  If an exploding spore has neither two nor three exploding spores
        neighboring it, it merely explodes and dies, leaving an empty tile
        (a result of either under or over-population).
        2.  If an exploding spore has exactly two or three exploding spores
        neighboring it, a new spore emerges on the same tile, ready for the
	next cycle.
        3.  If any tile has exactly three exploding spores next to it, a new
        spore emerges on the tile (successful reproduction).
The use of "exploding spore" here is pretty important.  The game does this
check every time and only every time a Fungus spore is exploding.  If you have
a simulation underway, it's possible to add a Fungus while everything else is
in the middle of exploding; if you do, it'll wait until the next cycle before
checking what it does, so you may end up placing a Fungus that's just doomed
to die.
    The longer any given simulation goes on, the cycle is checked at greater
frequency, until it's basically a Fungus pandemonium.  How quickly it speeds up
seems to be based on how many Fungus spores are created.

Experience Bolts:  Makes it cheaper to place Fungus.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
4a.  Special Notes/Patterns                                        *VEG:FUN:SPE

Wow!  What a long description.  It's important to describe Fungus in all it's
detail here, because it's definitely the most user- skill-intensive
intervention you can use.  It has the potential to be a significant waste of
mana, or it can be one of the most powerful effects in the game.  It all relies
on whether or not you can place the initial Fungus properly.  A few examples
will help demonstrate.  The manual recommends placing it in rows of three or
five, let's use those as a starting point.
    If you do a row of three (where F is fungus and . an empty tile):
once the spores erupt, it'll cycle between these two states:
        ...     .F.
        FFF     .F.
        ...     .F.
Go back and read the rules to the Game of Life if you don't quite understand
why it cycles betweens those two states.  If you still need help, in the
first cycle, the left and right spores each have only one neighbor a piece,
so they're going to die.  The center spore has exactly two neighbors, so it'll
survive to the next cycle.  The top and bottom tiles, while empty, both have
exactly three spore neighbors that are erupting at the same time, so in the
next cycle a new spore will appear on them.
    Then, in the next cycle, this is just rotation of the first cycle, so the
same thing happens and the spores return to the position at the very beginning.
Of course, just cycling between those two states isn't terribly useful.  It
basically is a weak swamp in a very small area that just cost you a lot of
mana.  So let's try looking at a row of five...
    It starts like this:
and then, life happens:
        .........   .........   .........   .........   .........
        .........   .........   .........   .........   ....F....
        .........   ....F....   ....F....   ...FFF...   ...FFF...
        ...FFF...   ...F.F...   ...FFF...   ..F...F..   ..F.F.F..
        ...FFF...-> ..F...F..-> ..FF.FF..-> ..F...F..-> .FFF.FFF.
        ...FFF...   ...F.F...   ...FFF...   ..F...F..   ..F.F.F..
        .........   ....F....   ....F....   ...FFF...   ...FFF...
        .........   .........   .........   .........   ....F....
        .........   .........   .........   .........   .........
what? it's still going?
        .........   .........
        ....F....   ...FFF...
        ...FFF...   .........
        ..F.F.F..   .F.....F.
        .FFF.FFF.-> .F.....F.
        ..F.F.F..   .F.....F.
        ...FFF...   .........
        ....F....   ...FFF...
        .........   .........
And that last cycle, if you've been keeping up, is just four repetitions of the
three in a row cycle above, so those will keep alternating between their two
states.  So this is much better than the three-in-a-row, because you had Fungus
exploding, killing any walker and destroying settlements all along the way.
You end up with the three-in-a-row anyway (four of them!).  And, except for
the last phase (which just cycles between the three-in-a-row), each cycle of
the simulation contributes to the simulation running a bit faster.  You'll
probably notice that the three-in-a-rows are cycling between their phases
a bit faster than the simulation started.  Which means, if you add some Fungus
to the running simulation that causes it to grow more, it'll keep getting
faster and faster, eventually reaching a point where the cycles move so
quickly even a Very Fast AI will have difficulty keeping up with it.
    There are a lot of good patterns to use, some from a strategy guide that I
used to have and need to find again, some you can look up on Game of Life
situations, and others still you'll get just by experimenting.  But to save you
some time, here are a few situations that come up occasionally.
    When you have (treat the x's and y's as empty tiles, they're there to note
Do _not_ add a Fungus at either of y's, as this will result in the simulation
dying out (you can calculate it to see why).  Do add a Fungus at one of the x's
as this will cause the simulation to advance to a state where you can add
another Fungus and cause some explosive growth.
    When you have:
Do _not_ add a Fungus at any of the y's.  The simulation will die out rapidly.
Instead, start a new Fungus swarm elsewhere and try to connect the two, for
hilarious results.  Or, add a Fungus at one of the corners (the .'s).  This
will advance to another stable form; you can add another spore here and cause
some fast growth.
    When you have:
_Do_ add a Fungus to one of the x's.  You will get _rampant_ growth, though
eventually it will die out.
    Moreover, look at the icon for Fungus.  That itself is a special pattern
known from the Game of Life situation, it basically creates a slowly moving
"jet" that crawls in the direction the "arrow" is pointing.  Unfortunately, you
need a _lot_ of room for this one to get ramped up, and it might not contribute
to the simulation speeding up.
    Lastly, this is probably the best overall starting pattern, which even has a
name by Game of Life fans, the "F-pentomino" (also R-pentomino):
        .....       .....
        ...F.       .F...
        .FFF.   or  .FFF.
        ..F..       ..F..
        .....       .....
Notice how it creates a little arrow pointing down.  It'll start off doing some
dramatic growth in that direction, but will turn back around and do dramatic,
rampant growth in all directions.  It takes a bit of wind-up time before it
gets huge, but is virtually immortal and will only die out if it runs into
a lot of obstacles or the enemy judiciously raise/lowers land.  Note that you
don't _have_ to have it pointing downwards, you can point it in whatever
direction you want to get hit first.
    Note that there's a basic conjecture that most starting positions for the
Game of Life will eventually die out.  In fact, there are a few starting
positions that result in infinite growth, but the smallest known pattern (known
as "wedge grow") requires 26 Fungi spread out over 16,193 x 15,089 squares,
which definitely exceeds the size of a Populous II map (and reasonable amounts
of mana).  However, there are plenty of starting positions that are
_effectively_ infinite.  The F-pentomino, for example, will die out into a few
stable, non-cycling positions, but it takes around 1,100 cycles to reach that!
If you actually manage to keep it around that long, you've probably wiped out
every living thing on the map.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
4b.  Normal Notes                                                  *VEG:FUN:NOR

OK, with all that out of the way, suffice it to say that properly used, Fungus
is immensely powerful.  On their own, the exploded spores are like Swamps,
killing anyone who walks over them.  In special gatherings, the Fungus has
rampant growth, eating away enemy land, settlements, and walkers in an
increasingly frantic manner.
    Unfortunately, there are a few caveats.  First, the AI can foil your Fungus
very easily early on (before the spores explode or before it's picked up
speed).  This is particularly true for Very Fast AI.  Second, you have to gauge
your mana carefully, as the last thing you want is to run out of mana for a
row of five so you're left with a row of four (which will die out very
quickly).  Third, if your simulation dies out after taking out settlements,
it doesn't have the benefit of destroying the land, so it's still easy for the
enemy AI to repopulate it (again, true for Very Fast and Killer AI).
Fourth, anything that's not another empty land (except damaged or with Flowers)
acts as an obstacle for the simulation, which makes hilly or otherwise
affected land hard (or impossible) to infect.
    To deal with the first, you have to start Fungus later on in the match
(which helps with the second issue).  You should also place Fungus in areas
where the AI is not actively expanding, and if you are dealing with a very
defensive AI, you should either place Fungus at the edges of his land to try to
grow inward, or you should just use Swamps instead.  You could even just use
Swamps to break up the enemy territory, to create a few "gaps" where you can
place Fungus in a way that the enemy won't feel the need to clear it by
raising/lowering land.  For the third issue, this can be helped by being ready
to move in with heroes and walkers or by following through with more Fungus at
the edges of the newly depopulated land.  Also try to use Fungus patterns that
result in stable endings (ones that don't die out).  The benefit of the latter
is that so long as the simulation hasn't completely died out, it remembers how
fast it was going, so you can start a new, really fast spawning Fungus again
when you need.
    Even in situations where you can't really use Fungus (super hilly, or lots
of islands), the one advantage that Fungus has over most interventions is that
IT APPEARS AT THE SPOT YOU CLICKED.  Might not sound like much, but when you
need to get rid of the last few settlements and don't have Armageddon, placing
a Fungus is one way to do it.
    There is also the danger that you might be tempted to just watch what
happens to your Fungus, when you should be paying attention elsewhere.  Figure
out what works reasonably well on the easier maps, then on later maps set it
and forget it.  Check back up on it in a while, to see if it's still around
and can be jump started with a few more.

So, to summarize a really long section:  once you get the hang of using
Fungus, you'll find that it's a potentially really powerful intervention.
It also justifies investing in Vegetation Effects, since initially it's so
expensive that it's hard to lay more than three down.  Bringing the cost
down dramatically increases its effectiveness.
5. Adonis

Does:  Turns your leader into Adonis.  Adonis has the same strength as the
leader used to create him.  Every time Adonis is victorious in battle, he
divides into two Adonis's, each with half the strength that the original had.
Adonis is completely immune to Fungi and Swamps.

Experience Bolts:  Makes him move faster.  Also may make this intervention
cheaper (that's what it feels like anyway).

Notes:  Adonis and Hercules are the two Tier 5 heroes, and Adonis is arguably
the better general-purpose one.  You'll need to charge up your leader with
Go To Papal Magnet influence; because he divides every time, you don't want to
have a hero strong enough to take on one fight and then divide into two heroes
two weak to win a single battle on their own.  Because of this, while you could
get away with doing less than a 4th flag in terms of strength for other heroes
(maybe), I recommend one full notch on the 4th flag with more than a few on the
3rd flag, and if possible two full notches.
    With good starting strength, Adonis will swarm the enemy land.  Dividing in
two means he can be in exponentially more battles over time, and while
eventually there'll be like 32 Adonises with piddling health running around,
in the process he'll have wrecked so much.  Be prepared to sweep in with your
own walkers to claim enemy land.
    Being immune to Swamps and Fungi is great, as those are two abilities you
might love to spam to soften the enemy, and Adonis will gleefully run over them
without any concern.
    Not that I've ever seen the AI use City Walls, but it's important to note
that walls provide an excellent defense against Adonis.  After a few fights,
all the Adonises might be too weak to bypass a city wall, even though if they
had stayed as one hero they would've been able to waltz straight through.
    WARNING - due to the *population limit* in Populous II, when you have a
large population (approaching 50% of the stadium), Adonis will stop splitting
after every battle.  At this point, Adonis is just much worse than most other

Earth Effects                                                            *EAR::
Some highly specialized interventions, but two really standout ones, one that
needs to be used aggressively when you can.
1.  Build Road                                                      *EAR:BUILDR

Does:  Turns the target tile into a road.  Walkers prefer to walk on roads, and
when they do so they move faster (but not while under Go To Papal Magnet
influence).  Road can be overwritten by any other intervention except for

Experience Bolts:  Walkers move faster on roads.

Notes:  Rarely worth the effort to extensively build a road network, though
building a few long straight ones from the back of your territory to the front
lines can be very helpful.  Be careful, though, intersections and turns are
treated as "endings" in the road, the walker may just walk off the road at a
turn and wander around instead of continuing on.
    Also unfortunately, building a road does not increase Walker speeds for
when they are on Go To Papal Magnet influence.  Possibly for game balance
reasons, since I can imagine supercharging a leader very quickly might be
unreasonably powerful.
2.  Build City Wall                                                 *EAR:BUILDC

Does:  Builds a section of wall on the tile, which must be an empty, flat land
tile either uncontrolled or controlled by you.  The tile can no longer be
raised or lowered or affected by any effect except Earthquake.  Future
sections of city wall must be built adjacent to a pre-existing one.  There is
also a limited number of city walls you can build.  Walls prevent enemies from
passing through _except_ under exceptional strength.

Experience bolts:  May make it cheaper or require a stronger walker to pass,
but I can't tell.

Notes:  Very, very specialized use.  The problem is that, like other map
objects (trees, rocks), there are a limited number of city walls you can use,
so you can't really go off building a defensive grid of walls crisscrossing
your territory (which would be awesome if you could).
    What it's really great for is walling in the enemy Papal Magnet if the
enemy has gone leaderless for some reason (or started off leaderless).  The AI
will try desperately to influence Go To Papal Magnet, and so long as you keep
them from gathering too much around the wall (via interventions or whatnot),
they'll never breach.  All the while you can gleefully steal settlement land,
as the enemy's walkers are too busy trying to get to the Papal Magnet to
resettle.  In fact, in maps where sprogging is disabled for you (but not for
the AI), victory hinges critically on your ability to send out a walker to
the Papal Magnets in the center of the map, settle a 3x3 land immediately under
them, and then filling that 3x3 land in with walls.
    There are also a few specific conquests maps where you're incredibly
outnumbered.  Defensively walling in a good section of your territory will make
sure you won't get overwhelmed by an enemy leader marching to a Papal Magnet
placed throughout your land.  Even if you are limited in how many walls you can
lay down, the limit is high enough that you can crisscross the map once and
have some change left over for a few extra sections.  Plus, all the while
you've protected yourself from maurauding leaders, your walls also make sure
you don't get hit by too many heroes.  All the while you can slowly whittle
away their land.

There is one, really huge, terrible caveat though.  An earthquake will destroy
a section of city wall.  If your Leader walks through this one section, they
will die and leave the Papal Magnet over a tile that cannot be raised or
lowered. If you don't have Plant Flowers or Earthquake (to destroy another
section of wall) you have permanently lost the ability to have a Leader for the
rest of the match.  This is generally a game over in later maps.  Of course,
the converse is true, so if you can somehow get the enemy Leader to die on an
earthquake tile between walls, pray and hope that the AI just leaves Go To
Papal Magnet influence on, and watch as hordes of walkers march to their doom.
3.  Earthquake                                                         *EAR:EAR

Does:  Upon selection, a rotating cursor appears.  When used, it will start an
earthquake in that direction, which moves across all land in random directions
(it will stop when it hits water).  After the earthquake is done, the affected
tiles will open up revealing the magma of the earth underneath; this is mainly
a cosmetic difference as whether or not the earthquake has finished, the tiles
will still kill anyone who walks on top of them.

Experience bolts:  Makes the earthquake last longer (thus travel further).

Notes:  Really great *population control*.  It's way less precise than
Swamps--and that's saying something--since the "aiming" is more of a polite
suggestion.  In fact, I've had it move only one tile in my chosen direction
before completely turning around.  But, unlike Swamps, the tile you click on is
always affected, which means at least one automatic death for you.  Plus,
unlike Swamps, even against a Very Fast and Killer AI, there's nothing they
can do at first; if they try to raise or lower land (or Plant Flowers) during
the actual earthquake, the effect is lost and the earthquake persists.  In
addition, there's no rule that says "shallow Earthquake tiles" for example, so
Earthquake is always good for keeping walkers going to their demise.
    Investing in Earth Effects yields great benefits here.  With a lot of
bolts, the Earthquake can easily crisscross the entire map several times.
4.  Batholith                                                          *EAR:BAT

Does:  (You have to click and hold for anything to happen.)  As long as you
hold down the mouse button, land keeps rising and rocks keep emerging (as long
as you haven't hit the map limit).

Experience bolts:  Makes it a bit cheaper to use.

Notes:  Good for disrupting enemy Castles, both in the short term (the rising
land ignores any rules against raising enemy land) and in the long term, with
all the rocks permanently disrupting the land.  This is especially since the AI
never seems to bother with sinking rocks.
    It doesn't do much else.  If you have a lot of experience bolts invested
here, it might be worth using on maps where you can't raise land, just to
create more settle-able territory.
    Also note that there's a finite number of rocks allowed on a map.  After
that, Batholith just raises the land.  Still disrupts enemy settlements, but
not as permanently.
    In general, it's very cost efficient to use this, though on later maps
you might want to use an ability that packs more punch (like Earthquake).
5.  Hercules (aka Heracles)                                            *EAR:HER

Does:  Turns your leader into Hercules.  Hercules has twice the same strength
as the leader used to create him.  Hercules is completely immune to Earthquake.

Experience bolts:  Increases movement speed.  Probably makes him cheaper, too.

Notes:  The other Tier 5 hero, in addition to Adonis.  Getting twice the
strength is pretty amazing.  This means even a fast 3rd-flag hero will be
formidable.  And a hero with at least 4 flags will be virtually untouchable.
Unfortunately, when you have the choice between Adonis and Hercules, unless
you've been investing a lot in Earth Effects, Hercules is good only if you
can't spare the time to build up a powerful Leader or there are lots of
Earthquake around.

5.  Fire Effects                                                         *FIR::
Really powerful stuff here.  When in doubt, you can't go wrong putting
experience bolts here.
5a. Fire Column                                                        *FIR:FIR

Does:  At some random point near or on the tile you clicked, a column of fire
erupts.  It wanders randomly, destroying land, though it tends to go uphill.

Experience bolts:  Increases duration.

Notes:  Meh.  Only remotely useful when you've got nothing else, otherwise it's
a waste of mana.  Fortunately, the other interventions make up for this.
5b. Rain of Fire                                                       *FIR:RAI

Does:  Random drops of fire fall from the sky, landing on random tiles near the
click point.

Experience bolts:  Increases the potential for more drops of fire.

Notes:  Really good disruption.  While the effects don't stick around like
Swamps or Earthquake, any buildings that get hit burn up their land, making
them unsuitable for settling unless a very proactive Very Fast and Killer
AI cleans them up.  Also, unlike Swamps, Rain of Fire can actually destroy
existing settlements completely.  I vaguely suspect that Rain of Fire is
weighted to hit a few settlements directly, as the number of settlements I've
directly hit seem to be disproportionate compared to what random chance would
    If you have the mana, I highly recommend spamming this (press 2 and then
click) throughout your opponent's territory.  It'll seriously put him back in
terms of mana development.
3.  Achilles                                                           *FIR:ACH

Does:  Turns your leader into Achilles.  Achilles has the same strength
as the leader used to create him.  Achilles is immune to all Fire Effects.

Experience Bolts:  Increases movement speed.  Also may make him cheaper to

Notes:  The other Tier 3 hero other than Perseus.  Most of the time, Achilles
isn't worth the mana--Perseus is overall a better choice since the ever-common
Swamps and Earthquake won't knock him down.  However, the one time where you
should definitely use Achilles is when either you or the enemy is busy spamming
all sorts of Fire Effects, especially Volcano.  No other hero can survive such
an onslaught, and Perseus can't navigate around these effects because for the
most part they come out of nowhere and aren't static.
4.  Volcano                                                            *FIR:VOL

Does:  Causes a massive upwelling of damaged land, whose top then turns into
an open pit of magma.  As long this magma is open, the Volcano will spout
Rain of Fire, Fire Column, and in 1-4 random directions, a fast stream of
Lava will occur.  The Lava will burn everything in its path, and if it hits
water, it will keep going as Basalt.

Experience Bolts:  No idea.  May make the individual fire effects more

Notes:  Amazing.  The first time this happens to you, it'll probably be a
deeply traumatic experience.  The moment you can start laying down Volcanos,
though, can help turn the tide of battle rapidly.
    I can't understate how powerful this is.  The massive upwelling of
damaged land alone can be used to destroy all sorts of Castles and, since the
enemy never seems to use Plant Flowers, permanently bar them from settling
that area again.  The Rain of Fire and Fire Column pretty much guarantees
that most of the walkers you've displaced are going to die, and ensure that
as long as the enemy doesn't cap the magma at the top (or effectively cap
it by lowering the land at the base of the Volcano) anyone near the Volcano
is going to keep dying.  The Lava flow is bit hit and miss, but if you're
lucky, can wreck up more of the enemy land in a manner of an unstoppable
Earthquake.  As long as you hit the right spot, placing a Volcano begins the
beginning of the end for your opponent--even if you're quite behind.
    On the other hand, you have to learn quickly how to deal with getting
hit by a Volcano.  Some conquest maps are incredibly frantic with the
enemy spamming Volcano left and right.  As soon as you hear the telltale
sound (and see gigantic block of gray appear on your map), center the view
on it and immediately start lowering land around the base.  This is because
in most conquest maps, you can't raise or lower land unless one of your
settlements is in view, so you shouldn't rely on being able to directly
cap the magma at the top.  Instead, lowering the land at the base will
disrupt the magma and effectively close it.  Don't immediately lower
everything; keep a small hill up so that all those Fire Columns have a place
to go.  Once the worst is over, lower as much land as you can and then spam
Plant Flowers if you've got it.  Otherwise, start expanding aggressively
elsewhere to make up for the land you just lost.  With enough practice,
enemy Volcanos will become more of a nuisance than a game-breaking threat.
    Now, while Volcano is super powerful, it's so powerful you might not
actually need to spend that many experience bolts in Fire Effects.  The normal
effect is already intense, and the most you get out of it comes in the first
few seconds, when all the Rain of Fire and Fire Columns wipe out whatever
what was already there.
5.  Divine Fire                                                        *FIR:DIV

Does:  Starting at your Leader, eight giant pillars of fire appear on the tiles
surrounding him or her.  Then they move in each of the eight until they hit
the end of the map, burning everything along the way

Experience Bolts:  May make it cheaper, probably does nothing.

Notes:  A very rare ability to use, especially since the super nintendo version
of this game didn't have it, so obviously the designers didn't think much of
it.  The gouts of fire are most effective to everything within one screen of
the Leader; otherwise they get so far apart that they don't collectively do
much, and the fact that nothing stops them (even water) is more of a mixed
blessing.  Plus, if you want your Leader to be at any reasonable location,
you've got Go To Papal Magnet influence enabled, which means you're also going
to kill a lot of your own walkers in the process, making this ability
potentially _really_ expensive to use.
    That being said, this intervention does fulfill one very good niche.  It's
the only intervention that benefits from a heavily aggressive strategy of
using Go To Papal Magnet.  Since your Leader remains untouched by this,
activating this to clear out a bunch of land and then immediately switching
to Settle will enable you to quickly grab a a massive foothold on your
enemy land.

Air Effects                                                              *AIR::
Mixed-quality, but diverse set of interventions, though one of them is probably
the most important intervention in the game.  Decent secondary choice for
spending experience bolts.
1.  Lightning Bolt                                                     *AIR:LIG

Does:  On or near two random tiles you select (they may be the same tile),
a bolt of lightning strikes, damaging the land and harming walkers,
settlements, or heroes.  You can hold down the mouse button to continuously
strike, though eventually it'll stop on its own.  Settlements will eventually
disappear when they've been reduced to a significant negative population,
though walkers will remain zapped and won't die until you stop Lightning Bolt.

Experience Bolts:  Unclear; may make it more likely to strike the tile you
click on.

Notes:  Probably one of the most important interventions in the game.  They're
the main way to deal with enemy heroes (who otherwise can wreck your land) and
constant harassment of the enemy Leader is a good source of *population
control*.  This is because whenever the Leader dies, the AI always enables
Go To Papal Magnet influence to crown a new Leader.  Despite what the game
manual says, Leaders are _not_ immune while touching a magnet, so you can
significantly hinder enemy population growth by zapping the Papal Magnet with
Lightning Bolt and killing every walker that tries to become a leader.  While
having your computer assistant on, you'll be able to keep expanding while
the AI is busy just trying to crown a new Leader, sending any excess
population to their doom.
    I can't emphasize how great this is for knocking out enemy heroes.  The
moment you hear the telltale fanfare, you should immediately scan the map
for the hero that just got created.  You'll be able to sort of tell where
the hero was spawned, since a lot of enemy walkers will be walking in the
direction of the magnet to crown a new Leader.  As soon as you find him
(or her), hopefully it's not Adonis or Odysseus, start spamming Lightning
Bolt until you get a pair of bolts that hit the hero.  As soon as they
connect, hold down your mouse button and keep holding down until Lightning
Bolt ends on its own.  This will most likely kill the hero, leaving your
land relatively unscarred and wasting a lot of the opponent's mana.
2.  Whirlwind                                                          *AIR:WHI

Does:  Creates a whirlwind, which moves in random directions and picks up any
walkers or heroes it comes across, reducing their technology level to Fist.  If
a whirlwind is on a water tile, and there is a 2x2 open grid of water that the
whirlwind is touching, a Whirlpool is created.

Experience Bolts:  Lasts longer.

Notes:  Most of the time not really worth the effort.  It is good to toss on
enemy heroes when Lightning Bolt isn't around, because at least it'll make them
easier to fight.  This does have a nice niche effect in that you can use it
as a slightly more expensive and unpredictable Whirlpool generator, but that's
already a pretty niche effect.  Otherwise, it's too unpredictable to be really
good disruption; plus, unlike Fire Column (which itself isn't that great), it
doesn't damage the land it travels on.
3.  Storm                                                              *AIR:STO

Does:  Creates a bunch of storm clouds centered around an area slightly below
where you clicked.  Over time, these storm clouds zap random spots with
lightning, damaging the land and destroying walkers and settlements.

Experience Bolts:  Lasts longer, denser/larger clouds.

Notes:  A bit expensive, but a really good destruction effect.  I wouldn't
really call it population control since it generally destroys whatever is under
it instead of containing a wide area, but it can take care of walkers who keep
haplessly trying to cross the area.  Blanketing the enemy lands with this,
however, is really effective, probably more effective than anything Swamp,
Earthquake, or Rain of Fire can do, though the mana price is pretty steep.
4.  Odysseus (aka Ulysses)                                             *AIR:ODY

Does:  Turns your leader into Odysseus.  Odysseus has the same strength
as the leader used to create him.  He also moves twice as fast as a normal
hero.  Odysseus is immune to Lightning of all kinds and Whirlwind.

Experience Bolts:  Increases movement speed (insane!!), may make him cheaper.

Notes:  Not quite as good as the other Tier 4 hero Helen of Troy, but
definitely worlds ahead anything that Tier 3 heroes can achieve.  Moving that
quickly will allow Odysseus to quickly ravage the enemy land and, as a plus,
he'll take less damage due to exposure.  So he's kind of a weaker version of
Adonis in his ability to sweep across the land.
    The flip side is that when the enemy uses Odysseus, there's very little
recourse you have to try and stop him, since he's immune to any attempt at
zapping via Lightning Bolt.  You can try and spam Swamp or Baptismal Fonts, but
in all likelihood you have to grit your teeth and hope you can expand your
territory to make up for the devastation.
5.  Hurricane                                                          *AIR:HUR

Does:  Creates an icon with a rotating arrow.  When you click, imagine a line
going from one end of the map to the other, going through where you clicked
and perpendicular to the direction you chose.  Everything past that line in the
direction you chose will be hit by a strong gale, which constantly blows
walkers, settlements, and heroes in that direction.

Experience Bolts:  Unclear, may make it cheaper or last longer.

Notes:  Very, very specialized use.  You also probably have to do a lot of prep
work in advance.  Works really well if the land you're about to blow everyone
on is damaged or has other negative effects (so that settlements are disrupted
and can't be resettled, and so that walkers and heroes die).  If you do it
right, you seriously affect your enemy's mana (since many of his settlements go
away) and you hopefully take out some walkers as well.  If you do it wrong,
you effectively sprog his entire walker population and free up a lot of his
land for more settling.  Eek.  In fact, since the AI isn't smart enough to do
much prep work (generally) when they use Hurricane on you, so long as you make
sure your walkers don't all fall into the water, you basically get a free shot
at expansion.

Water Effects                                                              *WAT
More specialized and situational effects here.  Can be potentially very good
source of investment for experience bolts, but relies heavily on knowing how
to use the interventions and having the right interventions available in one
1.  Basalt                                                             *WAT:BAS

Does:  Creates an icon with a rotating arrow.  When you click on open water,
it will slowly create Basalt, which is like Volcano-damaged land, except
with a width of 1.  Basalt (and Volcano-damaged land) acts as an
impenetrable shoreline for Tidal Waves.  Basalt stops when it hits land.

Experience Bolts:  Lasts longer (creating more Basalt).  May make it cheaper,

Notes:  Probably the most specialized intervention in the game.  There are
exactly two uses: on certain maps where you can't raise/lower ground but
you can't access a certain island or chunk of land because of the game's iffy
pathfinding or because it's a full open tile of water away.  The other use is
to prepare for a Tidal Wave much later in the map.
2.  Whirlpool                                                          *WAT:WHI

Does:  If you click on a tile that is the top point of a 2x2 grid of open
water, a Whirlpool appears.  A Whirlpool travels randomly and turns any tiles
it touches into water, except for Basalt or Volcano-damaged Land, which stops
the Whirlpool.  A walker that falls into a whirlpool is generally a goner.

Experience Bolts:  Lasts longer and is cheaper to use.

Notes:  On its own it's a weak form of *population control*.  Against slower
AI (medium, docile, sleepy, etc) a few of these can disrupt Castles and stall
development.  Against faster AI, you need to invest experience bolts into this
a lot, so that it becomes cheaper to use and more effective so that you can
keep up with the AI's ability to recover.  Aggressive spamming can eat
into land and drown walkers (especially leaders).  The manual has a good
suggestion - if you can find a 2x2 open grid of water somewhere in the middle
of the enemy land (whether or not you create it manually), putting a Whirlpool
here (and then creating a few more as more 2x2 open grids pop up) can
really wreck havoc.
    If you're using this as population control, be sure to use the Whirlpools
so that you're forcing the AI to move towards your guys, or at least doing a
pincer attack.  Otherwise, you're just freely sprogging your opponent's
settlements.  This way, you're either forcing him onto less land (potential
for more drownings or death by exposure) or forcing him onto land that you
own (potential for conflict).
    A more useful application of Whirlpool is as disruptive support for
several other abilities.  A Whirlwind on a Leader may bring him out somewhere
in the middle of the ocean.  A Hurricane may be blowing walkers to a shore,
but nothing else much.  A Tidal Wave may be unleashed against a Very Fast AI
where the water isn't fatal.  In all these cases, chasing them with a few
Whirlpools dramatically increase the effectiveness of those interventions.
    Despite (or because of) all this, Whirlpools are pretty underpowered.
It's not necessarily worth going out of your way to use your mana on them, but
it might be worth spending experience bolts here just because the maps where
you have to rely on them will be less painful.
3.  Baptismal Fonts                                                    *WAT:BAS

Does:  Similar to Swamps, creates a random smattering of Baptismal Fonts around
where you clicked.  If a walker or hero falls into one of these, they change
into the opposing side.

Experience Bolts:  Doesn't look like they do anything.  May have a higher
potential for more Baptismal Fonts, but if so it's really subtle.

Notes:  Either really stupid or handy; generally pretty stupid.  The biggest
problem is that the AI for walkers around these is inane.  Frequently one
walker will be walking in one direction, fall into the Font, pop out on
the other side as the opposing side, but then want to go in the other
direction, which means they fall back in, etc.  Pretty much the only way to
really get any use is to put these at the edges of the enemy lands and have
Settle or Battle influence enabled OR to put it somewhere in the midst of the
enemy lands and have Go To Papal Magnet enabled.  Those are the only ways
most likely to compensate for how inane the AI can be.  Other than that,
Baptismal Fonts are pretty weak disruptions.
    There is one particularly devastating case to make for these.  If you can
Wall off an enemy Papal Magnet and put some Baptismal Fonts around it,
you can basically fuel an unlimited army for yourself, as the AI will keep
sending more walkers via Go To Papal Magnet all the while you steal them
and use them to kill or settle.
4.  Helen of Troy                                                      *WAT:HEL

Does:  Turns your leader into Helen of Troy.  Helen of Troy has the same
strength as the leader used to create her.  Instead of fighting, she'll wander
around and 'charm' walkers and settlements into following her.  She'll keep
wandering around, slowly killing those following her due to exposure, though
every once and a while she'll stand still and fight them all at once (you'll
know this happens when you keep hearing the harp sound over and over).
    Note that unlike many other heroes, Helen of Troy is _not_ immune to any
intervention, nor does she try to avoid them like Perseus.  The manual says
that she attempts to dodge your efforts to Lightning Bolt her and the like,
though in truth she doesn't seem that much harder to kill than most other

Experience Bolts:  Makes her move faster.  Also probably makes her cheaper.

Notes:  Easily the best Tier 4 Hero and quite possibly the best hero in the
game.  Because she doesn't actually do any fighting at first, you can easily
create a weak-ass Hero and send her off on her way.  She'll still take out
Castles left and right.  It takes her a long time to actually kill anyone
though, since they'll just die off by exposure.  As I mentioned, though,
after a while of wandering, she'll stand around and then take them all on
one at a time.
    If at any point Helen of Troy dies prematurely, whether by exposure,
an intervention, or during one of those sequences where she fights everyone,
all the walkers following her are "freed."  In truth, they may still be dazed
so they might just wander back and forth without doing anything.  Also, if
she dies from falling into something (like a Swamp or Earthquake), all of
the walkers following her will gleefully follow her in, which is important
to know if you're trying to kill an enemy Helen of Troy.
    So what, might you ask, is so great about Helen of Troy if she doesn't
actually kill any of her targets?  Well, simply put, she is the most
effective disruptive force you can unleash.  Because she delays fighting the
walkers for a while, you can send her off really early on without worrying
about her dying after one or two battles.  Many walkers will die off anyway
due to exposure, and while she's busily gleefully charming away settlements,
you can bring your own walkers in to take over the land.  If she ends up
expiring without killing all the walkers following her, by then it's too late
for the AI to really respond--suddenly he has a bunch of walkers that have no
place to go home.  They'll still probably die of exposure or might end up
having to fight your walkers in an extremely weakened state.  Plus, I'm fairly
certain that so long as the walkers are following Helen of Troy, they don't
contribute to mana (though they still contribute to population).
    However, these same factors mean that if the enemy creates a Helen of Troy,
you must seek her out with extreme prejudice.  Do everything you can to stop
her, even if it means killing some of your own walkers in the process.
A battle in which Helen of Troy has free reign to run around your land is a
battle that's not going to go well for you.

It's important to note that Helen of Troy is effectively the most efficient
hero in the game.  Even if you somehow create a Fist-technology Helen, she'll
still go toe-to-toe with Sword-technology walkers, since exposure hits everyone
to the same degree.  Also, while Hercules gets twice the strength of the leader
used to create him, if Helen constantly has at least three walkers following
her, she effectively has three times the strength (since every loss of strength
for her translates into the loss of strength of three walkers).  Which means
that if you have more than ten (which is fairly easy), Helen has effectively
ten times her stated strength.  Though this is hurt by the fact that when Helen
fights everyone at once, she goes through them one at a time, which puts her
back to a 1:1 ratio with her strength and effective strength.

Do note that Helen of Troy has no special protections, even from Water Effects.
She'll still drown from Whirlpools and, more dangerously, she'll happily wander
in and be converted by Baptismal Fonts (along with any walkers following her).
You can try and exploit this by converting your own Helen of Troy and all enemy
walkers following her and then killing Helen, but that seems like an awful
lot of finesse to do something that would've better if you had just left her
    NOTE: A reader has let me know that if you toss a Lightning Bolt straight
in her path (but miss), she'll walk around it instead of into it.
5.  Tidal Wave                                                         *WAT:TID

Does:  If you click on a spot of open water, a gigantic Tidal Wave begins.  A
Tidal Wave consists of four waves, one in each main direction:  top-left, top-
right, bottom-right, and bottom-left.  They start small but then as they move
outwards, they keep expanding in opposing directions (so the wave heading top
left will expand to the top-right and bottom-left), at a speed of about half
a screen-size per tile of movement (so very quickly), stopping expansion only
when it hits a Basalt, any land tile, or another wave.  Even if expansion is
stopped, if the wave gets to a point where it can expand further, it will.
    In the direction that the wave is traveling, the wave will destroy all land
it touches.  A very high chunk of land (I estimate at least four levels high)
may be able able to prevent a chunk of the wave from passing.  The longer a
wave has had time to travel, the less likely that a wave can be stopped by a
high hill. However, if such a hill would be surrounded on two directions by the
same wave, it'll still be destroyed.  Thus, giving a wave more time to travel
(and thus expand) effectively makes it much harder to stop.  Basalt or
Volcano-damaged land acts as a high hill, but similarly, if surrounded on both
directions by a wave, won't actually stop the wave, but the Basalt or the layer
of Volcano-damage will still be on top of the water as the wave passes.  Again,
if a wave is partially stopped but at a later point on its journey can expand
again, it will.
    Finally, of the four waves, the ones heading to the top-right and bottom-
left go "first," which means they expand quickly to the entire length of the
map.  The ones heading to the top-left and bottom-right go "second," which
means that they expand only to the extent that the "first" waves have
travelled so far.  In practice, this means that the waves heading to the
top-right and bottom-left are "weaker" since their expansion is much slower.
However, if the either the top-right and bottom-left waves are completely
stopped, then the "second" waves will resume normal expansion speed.

Experience Bolts:  Makes it cheaper to use.

Notes:  Most of the time, it's a terrible intervention to use.  In fact,
it only seems to exist just to give an aggressive AI something to mess up your
day.  The reason why it's so terrible is because even a Sleepy AI will be
able to quickly give all his settlers a single chunk of land once the wave
sweeps past.  While you, even with a computer assist, will be scrambling
to try and save all your settlers.  Plus, while there will be common maps
that indicate "Water is fatal," keep in mind that the same set of rules
do _not_ necessarily apply to the AI.  It's a good idea to open game
options, then toggle "For good/bad" to see if water is fatal to the AI.  If
the water isn't fatal, you can still try to follow up with Whirlpools,
but even then the combination of the two interventions is not terribly
common.  Plus, even when all the stars line up, you need to do a _lot_
of advance preparation so you aren't wiping our your own settlements.  If
you can't build on high land easily (and it's so mana intensive to keep
raising land up three or four levels that it's hardly worth it), then use
Basalt.  In fact, Basalt seems to be made for this ability.  It's cheap, with
a lot of experience bolts invested it can make a lot of tiles with one use,
but you need to do it very early on before land has expanded too much and
taken up open water.
    You need to learn very quickly how exactly Tidal Wave works.  I've tried
to describe it in detail, but even then you'll probably need to experiment a
bit.  That's the only way you'll be able to get a hand on just how you can use
Basalt, high hills, and, yes, Volcanos to try and control where the Tidal Wave
goes.  Once you've figured out how to place it, though, on non-fatal water
maps, with a decent population size, some experience bolts and many either
Whirlwinds or Whirlpools, you can make sure that your opponent can never have
a settlement ever again.  On fatal water maps, however, you could wipe out
a huge chunk of your enemy population with one well-aimed attack.
Unfortunately, mess up ever so slightly (such as having a single tile open in
a Basalt wall) and you can wipe out everything you've built up.  Expanding
waves are a relentless force, and once they slip past your defenses, there's
nothing much more you can do to stop them.

Appendix                                                                 *APP::
History                                                                *APP:HIS

2013y.08m.08d - Version .91 completed (minor)
    Changing Other Guides to All Works and updating.

2011y.12m.02d - Version .9 completed
    Added note about getting Populous II legitimately from Good Old Games.
    Added missing note about high-strength bug.
    Added note about computer assistant not being great for non-DOS platforms.
    Added BAS:SCO about scoring.
    Removed "Rating" from PEO::, since those were from an early (pre-release)
        version of this guide.
    "Basics" has become "Basics & Bugs".
    Added extra note about pathfinding issues in BAS:PAT.
    Added section BAS:MIN on minor gods.
    Updating APP:OTH section with BG guide.
    Adding note that Helen of Troy avoids Lightning.

2011y.11m.09d - Version .7 completed
    Still not done, but decided to get this out the door so that it feels like
        I accomplished something.

All Works                                                              *APP:ALL

1999 Mode Guide (Bioshock Infinite)
Clash in the Clouds Guide (Bioshock Infinite:  Clash in the Clouds DLC)
Heart of Fury Guide (Icewind Dale 2)
Party Creation Guide (Baldur's Gate)
Party Creation Guide (Baldur's Gate:  Enhanced Edition)
Populous II Guide (Populous II)
Thief Guide (Baldur's Gate 2)
Ultimate Analysis (System Shock 2)
Ultimate Oblivion FAQ (The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion)

The Stinger
"I knew I was an _unusual child...
    that _divine_ blood coursed through my veins!

But I also knew that Zeus would never recognise me - never let me into the
    ...unless I survived the trials of the OLYMPIAN GODS!"

            - Opening Comic

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