Playing as The Ancients
The Ancients represent the decadent humans who dwell underground in the cavern of K’n-yan. Sensing the doom of the surface world, they have emerged to seize their opportunity for power. Uniquely, they are not led by a Great Old One.
Obviously you must focus on constructing Cathedrals, but you must balance Cathedral creation with Gate construction and building your army. You need sufficient combat effectiveness to place Cathedrals without much interference. You’ll need a Monster to protect your Gate, so Mindless or Festival are good first Spellbooks, but Extinction is terrifying. Unholy Ground can protect you if your foes go for early Great Old One strategies.
Don’t pay full price for creatures–always get their Spellbooks first, despite any perceived disadvantage. You’re far better off in the long run.
Because you don’t have any Great Old Ones, you enjoy major Power savings in the early game, this is ultimately negated by your need to spend 4-10 Power on Cathedrals, but as this is spread out over time you (unlike other Factions) never lose a whole Action Phase to an Awakening. And of course, your indestructible Cathedrals earn extra Power, eventually paying for themselves.
Your great weaknesses are that you have no Great Old Ones, and that you must travel around the Map. Your strategies must be based around this. Please notice that with Yothans, you have more Combat dice than any Great Old One. You have opportunities for diplomacy with other players, as they will typically want you to place your Cathedrals in Areas with their Controlled Gates. You also have the Un-Man Power that you can use to your advantage.
This not only gives you a useful Monster, but lets you engage in social engineering. Abuse this authority, but remember that your Un-Men are not actually free.
Reanimated need to be placed properly, and they are inflexible. Because they’re so cheap, it’s often worth Killing them in place of your Cultists–a Reanimated Pained off by itself is nigh-worthless.
Your other Units are cheap, so look ahead to keep your Yothans protected.
As with Festival, use and abuse this to your advantage by offering to build Cathedrals in Areas where other players will return the favor.
Not necessary until you are ready for Rituals of Annihilation.
An excellent defensive Spellbook in the mid-to-late game, it is often better used as a threat than as a weapon.
Thwarting the Ancients
You can’t get rid of Cathedrals, but you need not make it easy to build them. Fortunately, the Ancients player usually telegraphs his intentions with a Cathedral construction team. When the Ancients start giving you extra Power via Un-Men or Cathedrals, use some of that Power to prepare your countermeasures. When he marches into a new Area it is easy to drive him out, or at least to force him to spend Power on an attack to drive you out. By hitting his Gates, you will deny him the Doom he needs in the late game. He doesn’t have any reliable, good means of earning extra Elder Signs until late in the game, so if you keep pace with Gates, you should be able to keep ahead in Doom.