- This article is about the process of converting Mana into Gold and vice-versa. For a Retort of the same name, see Alchemy (Retort).
This process is available through the Magic menu, and may be performed at any time while on the overland map. It may not be performed during combat. The conversion is instantaneous. There is no limit on the amount of Mana or Gold that can be transmuted in any single game turn - the only limit is the amount of resources available for conversion.
A ratio of 2:1 means that for every 2 units of Mana/ Gold invested, you get 1 unit of Mana or Gold in return. For example, 100 can be converted into exactly 50. Thus, the conversion is quite costly, and is usually done either in emergencies or when one resource is abundant while the other is not. Alchemy thus allows maintaining a good supply of both of these incredibly-important resources, even when direct sources for one of these resources are lacking or not available.
With the Alchemy Retort, however, the conversion ratio is 1:1 - meaning that Mana and Gold can be converted with no loss. A wizard possessing this Retort can thus treat these resources as interchangeable, and should have no problem maintaining a reasonable cache of either of them at any given time.
Performing Alchemy Edit
In order to perform any alchemical conversion, the game must be in overland map mode (i.e. not in combat). Click the "Magic" menu button at the top of the screen, and then click the "Alchemy" button at the bottom-right corner of this menu. The Alchemy box will pop up, and this is where the entire process is performed.
The Interface Edit
The pop-up shown to the right is the Alchemy box. This section explains its various parts.
At the top of the box is a label, reading either "Transmute Gold into Mana" or "Transmute Mana into Gold". This indicates at a glance the "direction" of the alchemical you are currently performing.
At the center of the box is a long slider interface, with a small diamond shape acting as the slider button. This slider allows you to change the amount of source material you wish to convert.
To the left and right of the slider are two boxes that will indicate the amount of invested resource paid for the conversion and the resulting amount of the other resource. Gold is always displayed on the left, and Mana is always displayed on the right. Note that this doesn't indicate how much of each material you have on hand, only the desired investment and resulting output. These will change as you move the slider.
At the bottom of the box are three buttons. From left to right, they allow you to cancel the conversion entirely, switch the direction of the process, or confirm the conversion currently displayed.
The slider is the most important part here. By dragging it to the right of its original position, you can increase the amount of Mana or Gold you wish to invest into the conversion. As you drag it to the right, the boxes to the left and right of the slider will show the increased input and output values.
When the slider is pulled all the way to the right, it will convert either 999 of the source material, or the entire available cache of the source material in your possession - whichever is lower. For example, if you have 100 in your treasury, and pull the slider all the way to the right, then all of this Gold will be transmuted into Mana. Assuming the ratio is the usual 1:2, this will result in you having 0 left, but gaining 50 in return. If you have more than 999 in your treasury, the slider will only go to 999, resulting by default in 499 (half, rounded down).
Always remember to check which conversion is currently occurring. Again, the best indicator is the label at the top of the box, which reads either "Transmute Gold into Mana" or "Transmute Mana into Gold" as appropriate. If you wish to reverse the transmutation, simply click the arrow button at the bottom of the menu. It will flip, and the title of the menu will change to indicate this.
If you have 0 of the intended input resource, the game will not allow you to pull the slider to the right at all. No conversion can be made. Otherwise, after pulling the slider by a certain distance, you may click the "OK" button to confirm the conversion, in which case it occurs immediately and the menu will close. You may alternatively click the "Cancel" button to cancel this transmutation and return to the Magic menu. Until either button is clicked, you may freely move the slider as necessary or flip the direction as necessary.
Once confirmed, Alchemy cannot normally be undone. For example, if you convert 100 into 50, but then realize that this was a mistake, you can then only convert those 50 back into 25 by performing a new transmutation. Be very careful when clicking the "OK" button!
Of course, for wizards possessing the Alchemy Retort, it is possible to transmute losslessly as many times as you want, so you don't have to worry about any conversion: you can always undo it by simply converting the same amount of resource back to its original form, always at a ratio of 1:1. This is why Alchemist wizards treat Mana and Gold as entirely interchangeable: they can turn (for example) 999 into 999 and back into 999 (or any other amounts as necessary) as many times as they want.
If you wish to convert more than 999 of the source material, simply repeat the process as many times as necessary. This can be a little tedious, but those are unfortunately the constraints of the game.
Due to the 2:1 ratio involved in all alchemical conversions, Alchemy should be avoided if at all possible. Each time you may a conversion, you are losing half of the original material in the process.
This is why Alchemy is usually used only during emergencies, such as when you desperately need a certain amount of Mana to quickly finish casting a spell, or you desperately need some Gold to build a structure or unit or to pay Upkeep Costs for a valuable army.
Of course, if you possess a vast quantity of either Mana or Gold, it is often not too much of a problem to transmute a part of it into the other resource. Try to keep similar quantities of both resources on hand - this gives you more options.
Alchemy Retort Edit
With the Alchemy Retort, as mentioned repeatedly above, the conversion ratio is always 1:1. As a result, no loss is incurred during alchemical transmutation, so Mana and Gold can be converted into one another freely without worry. If you have one resource but need the other, don't worry about converting as much as you need - you're not losing anything, and can always convert it back later without a problem.
Thus, Alchemist wizards will likely treat Mana and Gold as literally the same thing. They still pay only Mana for spells, and still pay only Gold for buying buildings and units, but as long as they have one of these materials they can always convert it to the other material with no extra costs.
Thus, an Alchemist wizard's empire can concentrate on producing only one of these resources, whichever is more abundant, and simply convert it to the other resource as needed. For example, if many Gold-producing Minerals are available, the empire may focus on extracting as many of these as possible, generating a vast quantity of Gold which can be transmuted into Mana as necessary at any given time. Conversely, if the empire is made up mostly of Dark Elf towns, they can focus on making lots of Mana which can be converted into Gold as necessary at any given time.
Of course, it is always important to remember that Alchemy cannot be performed during combat. Therefore, even Alchemist wizards should keep some Mana on hand at all times.
Mana and Gold Limit Edit
These limits are enforced even after alchemical transmutation, but not during the process. Therefore, the game will not object to you transmuting, for instance, 999 into 499 even when your treasury is already full - resulting in a loss of 999 for no gain whatsoever.
Therefore, when stores of either resource are close to 30,000, it is important to make sure that you do not convert any amount that will put you over 30,000 for the desired output resource. Of course, you will likely not want to perform any alchemy in such a situation (30,000 Mana or Gold on hand is already more than you could reasonably spend within a few dozen turns, even in the late game), but it's still important to remember in order to avoid frustration.