Part 15: Mictlan - Turns 27-28
I get what is, in my opinion, one of the best events in the game this turn. A free fort and what is basically a gold mine without using up a magic site slot. There are arguably other random events that are better than this, but considering I don't have luck I am quite happy to get something as nice as this.
Arco ends up breaking the siege I have on his cap. However all I have sieging it at this point is a single commander leading a single unit. The unit dies and the commander flees the field. However, I learn Arco's unit composition/placement and his mage scripting.
One of the things that Arco is good for is mage communions. Essentially a bunch of mages (communion slaves) funnel their magic power into a small number (communion masters) so they get huge boosts to their magic power. However, one of the other effects of communions is that any spells that communion masters cast that would normally only affect them (range: personal) will also affect all of the communion slaves. So a master casting something like personal luck will give the luck effect to both him and all of the slaves in the communion. Which is important for Arco, since this is one of the common ways they make use of communions.
Arco's use for the communion in this case is two fold. The first one is one of the masters is scripted to cast flaming arrows. I figured this was the case whenever he had a group of hundreds of archers running around in a stack, and I had seen him cast it earlier on. The other purpose is he is using his masters to buff the slaves with a handful of spells, things like power of the spheres (+1 to all paths), earth power (+1 earth, +4 reinvigoration), phoenix power (+1 fire, +50% FR), and a handful of other defensive buffs to keep them alive. This means realistically in this army the mages are doing all of the damage. The flaming arrows might seem like a big deal and help him put out some extra damage, but the real powerhouses here are the mages.
I'm expecting Arco to attack my jaguar stack this turn, he has a fairly strong set up for fighting my troops, and he will try to push his advantage. I move almost everything I have to go reinforce my stack of units. Additionally I move a very small group of units from my jaguar stack to try and take back his capital this turn. I'm hoping on our stacks sliding by each other because of how small mine is and how large his is, but it's still not a guarantee.
I actually make a huge mistake here. I misclicked during this turn, the turkeys I have selected right now are supposed to be flying to go help my stack of jaguar warriors. However, I accidentally told them to fly to Arco's capital where their scripting is pretty much meaningless. They're all scripted to magic duel and then retreat. I could take out a decent chunk of Arco's mages, and maybe even nail his communion masters on turn 1 since I would have the defensive advantage meaning his entire communion would be wrecked. However, me accidentally moving them to Arco's capital means that I have almost no magical support whatsoever going up to my army stack.
After seeing his giant stack of archers last turn I decided to recruit as many slingers as I could from the nearby fort to act as arrow catchers. They won't be able to absorb mage fire because of how mage targeting works, but I can try and take a little bit of heat off my jaguar warriors. I'm really hoping here to just buy my jaguars enough time to get to the front line and start tearing into his army and maybe his mages. To that effect I have a handful of plans that basically revolve around buying me a turn or two and hoping everything doesn't go painfully wrong.
This game and war in general has actually been incredibly challenging for me. In general my preferred play style is to choose a nation that has strong mages capable of useful early battle magic, and troops are a secondary concern. I very rarely play someone who relies on strong troops or sacred for the entirety of their early game.
Mictlan isn't really a nation that has strong access to battle magic very early on. Their highest path level for non blood is 2, which does not make for good battle magic, and blood in general isn't fantastic for its battle magic options. So having my preferred tool of choice not really be an option this game has kind of left me stumbling to feel effective. The research level difference between Arco and I at this point is pretty large and I am feeling very naked without having mages or thugs to support my armies. This doesn't by any means make Mictlan a bad nation, it just means that I'm not accustomed to playing in this particular fashion.
Arco's army only changes very slightly, he brought an oreaid along with a crystal matrix (automatically casts communion master on turn 0). Most likely she is here to cast nature or air self buffs on the mages. Probably eagle eyes to increase their accuracy.
This is my army setup, my eagle warriors and beast bats/ozelotl have already flown in to attack arco's units, but there weren't many of them, and they're likely to route or die fairly quickly since I don't have an overwhelming number of them. I have a few blood mages casting summon imp to buy me some time, since I'm hoping it will mean a few of his mages or archers fire on them rather than my much more valuable jaguars.
Arco throws up flaming arrows and a good number of mage buffs, meaning his slaves are ready to kill everything by round 2.
As you can see, Arco's mage fire cuts down huge swaths of jaguar warriors. They just kill a gigantic number of units with each volley, and it's very hard for me to do much about it without battle magic of my own.
My jaguars weather another volley before they can reach the front lines and finally start killing people.
They finally reach the front lines. Extremely battered but still in tact.
And shortly thereafter Arco's army routes. The only reason, the absolute only reason I think I won this battle is because Arco's army was full of low morale units, while my Jaguar warriors have something ridiculous like 17 morale when blessed. If I was using units with lower morale and otherwise similar stats I would have almost definitely lost this battle. The fact that my jaguars didn't break after losing something like 2/3rds of each squad is pretty great in and of itself.
I make it out, killing a unit for each one of mine, but that's not good odds. My sacred jaguar warriors are worth much more than any of the units arco was using, the only redeeming factor out of that is I killed a handful of his mages. Still not a good battle for me.
I typed this post up something like 3 times before I finally managed to submit it. I accidentally refreshed my browser two times when the post was about 3/4ths done. Kind of feel like an idiot.