This one never really gained popularity, and is both highly situational and extremely high risk. That said, it's a fun strategy and a decent choice in free for all games, or games with high amounts of roamers. Generally, the best way to apply it is to build enough Bards to go around recruiting T3 monsters while you dedicate all your gold producing cities and forts. I don't recommend doing this unless you know the game is going to be fairly low pressure, and you'll likely still want to mix in some combat units with your bards just in case they fail all their charms. That being said, the strategy did get a decent boost with the release of Wild Magic, as wild adept gives Summon Lesser Elemental to compensate for how weak bards are on their own. Generally once the bards are out in sufficient numbers, gold is spent erecting forts and cities while mana is spent summoning.
Advantages: Can allow you to focus on city and fort spamming. Is also an extremely low-tech strategy, as you don't need much besides the bard tech. It transitions well to Succubus spam later on, and allows you to focus on pumping casting points and combat spells. Also, it's really fun if you combine it with Wild Mastery. Spontaneous Mutation in conjunction with an army of random animals, Spiders, Ogres, and Trolls makes for a very chaotic force. What it lacks in specialization, it makes up for in unpredictability. Also, in the rare event that you start with a giant dwelling nearby, rushing it with bards can give you multiple Tier 4 giants right off the bat. It's a scary sight to behold.
Overall combat ability is extremely lackluster until a decent number of T3 units are charmed. It's also extremely luck-depedendent. One game can give you many stacks, while another game can see 2 Phantasm Warriors resist every Charm and wipe your force before you know what's happened. Overall, it's not really a viable strategy most of the time. It also is extremely slow unless you have some form of racial healing. Pretty vulnerable to an early rush.
- Wild Mastery: Both of the mutations are powerful with bards. Spontaneous Mutation allows all your animals and monsters to get even more ridiculous, while Unstable Transformation is great because it allows you to Charm an enemy unit, and then reset it using Unstable Transformation. Doing this removes all buffs and debuffs, and turn it into another random unit under your control at max HP. Because of this, once you mutate a charmed or converted enemy, it cannot be dispelled. This is a fantastic way to remove high value targets from the battlefield. Summoned elementals also do well for bards, as once they get going you won't be spending any mana.
- Expander: Due to it's dependency on clearing and recruiting, bardspam benefits from lots and cities and roads, while at the same time *not* destroying monster spawners. Without roads, defending and responding to new spawns becomes more difficult.
- Death Adept: Killer Instinct with bards can be potent if used on the right unit.
- Earth Adept: Many of the units you'll charm will be tanky as is. When Stone Skin is cast on them they become even more powerful.
- Difficulty: 5
- Reliability: 2
- Effectiveness: 3