Shadows of Forbidden Gods – How to Orc

This guide will show you how to win by using mostly only orcs to cause destruction and mayhem.

Orcs Guide


The purpose of this guide is to give tips and strategies that will aid a player in utilizing orcs to their fullest extent, possibly winning while minimizing the use of any other means to achieve victory. Orcs are not quite as obvious as other strategies, and there’s a few pitfalls to avoid, but they can be fun. There may be situations in which orcs are simply not in a good position to lead to victory, although elves may change that equation.

Examples of strategies that can otherwise win by themselves include large dark empires (especially with Vinerva), well-groomed plagues, blotting out the sun, undead hordes, holy orders spreading shadow, a focus on deep ones (with or without holy orders). The goal of this guide is to minimize the use of other methods to achieve victory.

Orcs primarily contribute victory points by two means: Destruction of the world population, and through that destruction increasing the victory points from deep ones and shadow. Orcs must rely on some natural spread of shadow or some deep ones, but can potentially destroy enough humans to win. I should know – I’ve done so with every core deity, including the cordyceps.


In order for orcs to be strong and powerful, they must have many orc fortresses or other locations generating orc armies. There may be maps in which this is simply not viable, especially if all the areas with 10%+ habitability are already taken by humans. Note that elven cities are currently easy to raze as of March 2023, and may provide opportunities for orc spread.

If orcs are adjacent to cordycep hives, they will raze the hive. Don’t place hives adjacent to where orcs will be.

You will lose agents due to infamy. While you should learn about profile and infamy management (from other guides), you should also accept this and make sure agents that are to be killed are infamous.

Orc societies can gain menace, and that menace is adopted by uniting hordes. An orc horde with too much menace (e.g. from razing 9 elven cities in a row) should be allowed to be completely destroyed and replaced with a zero menace orc society.

The alliance has very strong armies. Even 20-30 orc fortresses can have a hard time building up a force to counter the alliance. Generally don’t allow a large alliance nation to form if you want the orcs to be successful.

Wars have time limits. You want your orc horde to be as centrally located as possible, so that your orc hordes have enough time to actually cause damage to humanity. Conversely, a distant horde is also more protected from human intervention – generally I’d prefer a more central orc horde.

The First Daughter is a powerful ally and a terrible foe. The First Daughter reduces habitability such that orc camps and fortresses will be destroyed. Keep that in mind and keep the First Daughter away from orcs that you care about.

Things That Are Good to Know

Orc Army Combat


If your geomancers are supporting combat, they will also support any orc armies. As your geomancers are not part of the orc hordes, they will be left alone by heroes, allowing for an easy way to support orc armies, particularly with the survivor. Just go from locus to locus to keep casting support combat and nothing else.


If your orc armies are generally successful in battle, they will still suffer attrition. You can reduce your own attrition and increase opponent attrition by having your agents command the orc armies in battle. High command can make an enormous difference in the amount of damage dealt by the orc armies, which in turn reduces the damage taken by orc armies. Orc raiding parties add both army strength and also the command of the orc warlord to the battle.

Orc Spelltwisters

Agents with lvl 2 in geomancy, death or blood magic can build orc spelltwister camps. They create armies of about equal strength to orc fortresses, which also buff the orc armies that fight with them. The difficulty is that most wizards have poor command.

Witch Ravens

If you infiltrate a coven, you can recruit a raven minion. If an agent with raven minions commands an army, they debuff enemy armies.

Orc Horde Management

Uniting the Hordes & Orc Annihilation

Whenever there is only one orc horde on the map, regardless of if the cause is orc hordes uniting or an orc horde being annihilated, a new orc horde (with orc fortress) will appear in a location with 10%+ habitability (if such a location is available).

It is generally not worth it for the free orc fortress, but it means there’s little penalty in having a non-developed orc horde get razed to the ground – you can always spread them quickly and easily in the same region and build up orc fortresses. Hence the note in pitfall that high menace orc societies without strong armies should be left to burn.

It also means that if there is suitable wilderness on a different continent, you don’t need orc shipyards to spread orcs across continents. Instead unite the hordes and have them spread until you get them to where you want them to be. Maximize those odds by spreading them everywhere you don’t want new orc hordes popping up.

Paint The Continents Red

Really spread that orc love. Welcome to the meat of the guide, now that we’ve gone over the pitfalls and some crucial information about how orcs and combat works.

Here is your goal: You need to spread orcs and build as many orc fortresses as possible.

First of all, you have to kill an orc upstart to get a flag to either claim the camps or to unite hordes (in which case the orcs must be at peace and you must have flags from each horde). You can generate orc upstarts with an agent that has zero minions. You can have an agent with minions on the same location, so that when your agent (or the upstart) flees, you can follow up and kill the upstart quickly. Don’t worry about suppression to start with, because you don’t want the orcs to be declaring anyway.

You also need gold to build the fortresses or spelltwister camps. Your sources for gold include:

  • Infiltrate a capitol city with capital. Infiltrating a large nation is better.
  • Generate agents in cities, and enshadow the ruler, so the ruler gifts gold to the agent. Make sure the agent is always poor.
  • Send out orc raiding parties (the ones where you control an army, not the one where your agent does a challenge) and hit cities with high prosperity and no army present to defend it
  • Mammon, but you’ll win long before orcs destroy the world.
  • Spelltwister camps require a lvl 2 wizard. Ophanim is great at building them due to his powers.

You want to infiltrate a capitol city for two reasons: Firstly, kings and queens can tax nobles, and will do so quite readily if they’re poor regardless of their other motivations. Thus, they generate a lot more gold, a lot faster, than most other places. Secondly, it allows you to enshadow that particular ruler and keep them from joining the alliance, as well as use political gridlock, or inflame tensions, and all the other fun stuff that having a fully infiltrated capitol allows you to do. Try to time the robbery to coincide with the collection of tax. An added benefit is that they won’t be improving relations or annoying things like that.

Note that fully enshadowed rulers may gift gold to agents who have their home in the same city as the ruler. They will generally only do so if they don’t dislike the agent and if the agent has no money, and world panic must be high enough. In this case, you don’t need to rob the treasury, but your agent can’t have need of gold (for example to build orc fortresses).

Sometimes, orc raiding parties can also generate large amounts of gold, but this is a lot riskier. If it works, great, but I don’t recommend planning around it. If you do raid, aim for cities with high prosperity, try not to burn them all the way to the ground (you don’t gain menace if the city isn’t razed), and try to avoid human armies. The gold will appear in the orc capitol plunder.

You need the gold in order to build orc fortresses or spelltwister camps everywhere. To start with, you just want to spread orc horde camps to everywhere you can, then follow up with orc fortresses. Keep an eye on neighboring kingdoms to make sure a low menace orc society doesn’t get stomped before they have a nice number of fortresses. Once you start to reach the 15-20 number, there will be so many orc armies that humans will have a hard time both defeating the armies and razing anything to the ground, allowing the orcs to be a self-sustaining green plague upon the land. If you steal from a large kingdom, you will almost certainly have enough gold, as you’ll need thousands. If you don’t have enough gold, steal more.

You can, if you want to, declare war on human nations deliberately, but either the orcs or human nations will usually do it for you. If you do decide to declare war, make sure to check international relations first – make sure the opponent is not in a defensive alliance with anyone else. Alternatively, encourage civil wars in large human nations, encourage wars between elves and humans, or encourage wars between human nations, so your orcs can pick up the pieces and smash them to bits.

Now, let’s assume that you managed to spread orcs as much as you could, you’ve built all the orc fortresses you could, but you’re still blocked by either humans or elves in expanding your horde further, and it’s just a smidge too weak to actually beat their enemies. This is where orc raiding parties come in. Orc raiding parties, unlike orc armies, can be controlled. So that village that your orc armies are ignoring because they’re too busy fighting the human armies can be razed very expeditiously by a orc raiding party. This will generate menace and there is a risk that your raiding party will eventually be chased to death, but I find that this generally doesn’t happen. Another factor to remember is that your raiding party can move away from battle, and this will cause the army that attacked them to go home.

Note that some cities, fortresses and citadels tend to have very high defences. Try not to waste time destroying them and instead let civil wars do the heavy lifting there (or your regular orc armies). Elven cities are extremely vulnerable, but their armies are powerful. Only raze them if the elven armies are busy elsewhere. Elven nations are also easy to make xenophobic against humanity, and you may be better off using the elves as cannon fodder against humanity early on, and only destroying their cities later.

Once you’ve built as many orc fortresses as you can, it’s also a good time to organize your orc hordes. Your aim with that is to organize as many as possible. The core region gets +50% orc industry and all adjacent regions get +25%. Thus, a region with six connections generates +200% orc industry, a region with one connection generates only +75%. Each fortress looks to all adjacent regions to see what size army they can muster, so a fortress connected by 6 regions can potentially have a 200+ strength orc army. Caveat here is that orcs at war tend to recruit until they’re about strength 40-60 and then go to war, so the main benefit of the above efficiency is minimizing how many organize actions you need to take (they do cost profile and menace).

Keep an eye out for cities with deep ones that are about to pop. You don’t want those cities razed. You also want to try to encourage destruction away from enshadowed cities, as you do still need victory points beyond destroyed population in order to win.

Forbidden Gods Considerations

She Who Will Feast

Infiltration power makes it easy to drive xenophobia.

Split shadow tends not to work in orc regions, and is risky in the capitol city, as the Chosen One tends to redeem the sovereign. Act accordingly.

The awakened power synergizes very well with orcs. By the time you awaken, most of the world should be in a weak enough state that you can destroy what little needs to be destroyed.


Infiltration power makes it easy to drive xenophobia.

Madness is victory and will cause the collapse of the alliance from time to time. Let madness do its thing.


Somewhat challenging, but you can easily enshadow rulers and others in order to rely on gifts of gold rather than robbing treasuries. You can then gift them gold in order to give them more gold, quickly, for them to give your agents more gold. Rinse and repeat.


Despite that Ophanim doesn’t like such imperfect beings as orcs, Orcphanim has no such compulsions.

Small theocracies will function well with orcs, allowing you to start an early theocracy and have human nations be far more concerned about the orc hordes. Doubt management is consequently easier. I don’t recall if it’s a concern, but do make sure your orc hordes and theocracies don’t end up at each other’s throats.

Ophanim is also uniquely suited to building Spelltwisters, as low command wizards can get +40 progress at the cost of 4 hp and 2 power.


Generally great synergy, just make sure that orc hordes aren’t adjacent to hives. A well-built horde will consider a hive to be weak and will consequently declare war upon it and raze it to the ground. The solution is simply as stated: No hives next to orc hordes.

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