Part 198: Hinnom - Hinnom Retrospective
Well, that was fun wasn't it?
Yes. Yes it was.
Hinnom gets great recruitable SCs, excellent path coverage and solid troops but pays for it with limited cross paths, no high single path and all your good giants pissing off your people by eating them. Overall, it's an excellent nation, albeit not quite as good as some of the others in this LP. In particular, its drawbacks aren't readily apparent when you're salivating over the idea of Melqarts and fat pony chariots running roughshod over everything.
The broad access really helped my gem income and with the forgiving fathers site I had enough access in every path to search every path. However, forging was hamstrung by the lack of cross path access.
My troops were solid but, not surprisingly, couldn't stand up to a equal gold cost of major/minor bless Palankashas, let alone atavi archers and Mage support.
My recruitable SCs played their role well once I started equipping them properly. I was somewhat negligent (and lilli showed why she's so good) in not including an astral mage buddy to tag along with my Melqarts to cast body ethereal.
A small number of my subsequent blunders can be attributed to not playing Hinnom before. They're a great nation but they have some quirks that you need to be familiar with to really appreciate
Fat pony chariots as far as the eye can see... Oh, and dawn guard. Hinnom has great expansion. Even getting completely cut off in three out of four directions, I still managed a tidy little empire once expansion ended. Recruit four chariots or five dawn guard, attack closest, problem solved.
One downside of my early war was that I might have snagged a few more provinces had I devoted more resources toward expansion, but even then the difference wouldn't have been huge. As anyone who plays dom3 knows, the bigger you are, the harder they fall and the benefit from a few extra provinces would have been outweighed by the downside of getting ganged up on in an early war.
I was fairly nervous about this game. I didn't consider myself on the same level as Lilli, TheDemon or irony.or.death, and Dexanth had outplayed me in our last game. I thought I was about even with Dawkish and ahead of Feinne in terms of relative skill. My other big concern was diplomacy. With only seven of us it would be difficult to form any secret alliances or really exploit any inactive diplomats (because, friendly ribbing of TheDemon aside, there are none in this game). Expansion did little to assuage my nerves. It's one thing to be playing a game and find out you neighbor one good player, one medium player and one new player. It's quite another to find out your neighbors are all the top players.
Back to expansion, I was particularly disappointed about my starting army losing out to Feinne's group of sacreds. I had counted on that army to expand for the entirety of the first year and all of a sudden I'd lost them and found two angry neighbors to boot. It ended up working out OK, but that was basically an immediate minus five to eight provinces in my head. Still, that setback aside, I did just fine in expansion and had an excellent defensive position as long as Dawkish remained friendly.
Damn Dirty Apes
I will continue to maintain forever that the low-risk possibility of eliminating one of the best players in the game was worth trying. Feinne, as I've mentioned not more than once or twice, did brilliantly by betraying us, particularly given how good T'ien Ch'i is at turtling. From there it was all downhill into a field full of mud, muck and mire. Only instead of dirt it was all demons, defensive movement traps, stabbing robots and humiliation.
In retrospect I wish my first meeting with Palankasha had gone a little less well. As it was I didn't take the time to figure out why a small numerical advantage in Dawn Guard had led to such a one-sided victory. That TheDemon did is one of the things that makes him so good. After that meeting there are a number of things I really should have done differently. Heck, even before that meeting I should have thought about how badass every other player was and researched something useful instead of site searching.
Instead, I made a tremendous number of mistakes and was thoroughly outplayed on the tactical level. From not bringing S Ammi along to cast body ethereal on Melqarts to getting abused by lightning to appearing briefly in a weird FetLife Acid Cannon pretender bukkake video, I just got trounced over and over again. By the time year three rolled around I was thoroughly demoralized.
One of my character flaws is stubbornness and this is one case where "too stupid to quit" really ended up paying off. Through all my follies and TheDemon's tactical victories I never stopped throwing pixel mans at him. Because Hinnom was two to three times the size of Lanka, and Dawkish, Xanrick and Schneeble were all staunch allies I was able to keep feeding grist into the mill until I pulled myself up out of my depression by my bootstraps, figured out Hinnom a bit better and turned things around.
In the process, I ended up losing a tremendous number of Melqarts, Ba'als and Dawn Guard, but it all ended up being worth it. I think that's an important thing to remember about this game: your resources are worthless if you're not using them to stop yourself from dying. I lost a ton but if I hadn't risked those units then I would have lost the game. Another great example of this is irony.or.death blowing a hundred gems on shitty summons in his war with T'ien Ch'i. Tremendously inefficient but totally worth it because it let him survive. Every game multiple players die with hundreds of gems in the bank. Unless you're sending them my way, spend those fuckers to put some hurt on the other guy.
Of course, war isn't all getting your pixel mans smashed and falling into a deep depression. There's also diplomacy! As well as TheDemon played the tactical game, I think I played the diplomatic game just as well. I made peace with Lilli, irony.or.death and, post-betrayal, Feinne. More importantly, I managed to get first Dawkish and then Xanrick and Schneeble to ally with me. Part of the value of a long term ally lies in kicking teeth in together. The other part lies on the reduction in number of options you have to deal with. I really scrambled to get Xanrick and Schneeble on board as soon as I found out they were playing and consequently got to totally forget about an entire border as well as getting a nice trading partner. It's particularly notable because all TheDemon had to do was convince just one of them that they were better off just leaving him alone while I had to convince all three that they were better off spending resources and time for relatively minimal return of the same.
I've mentioned it before but it bears repeating: diplomacy is the most important thing. This is an area where you can see some of the other players either really messing up or just getting outplayed. Here it was TheDemon offering a cease fire while I offered a long term ally you can trust, fantastic trading terms and the elimination of a player with tremendous tactical mastery. It was actually a fairly close run thing, but at the end of the day I was able to make an offer that was attractive enough to be persuasive.
Without that offer I think I would still have beaten TheDemon but I wouldn't have made it to the end. By the time TheDemon had an army of Palankasha knocking at Hinnom's gates I had finally made a Melqart my prophet and had him geared up with lightning resist armor, a fire brand, regen ring, luck amulet, eye shield and reinvig boots. Fortunately it never came to that but based on subsequent battles I think that prophet would have been able to drive TheDemon from my dominion. TheDemon would have been able to raid me quite a bit and the war would have stretched on for a while longer but at that point I had finally sort of figured out Hinnom and was playing far better than I had been. Not well enough to avoid continued significant losses and LP embarrassment mind you. But better!
Once I figured out what I was doing and pulled myself out of my funk I drove TheDemon back and it was only a matter of time (and lost Melqarts) before I finally triumphed. Of course, it was TheDemon so it was a long time and a lot of Melqarts, but the positive is that I emerged from this war a far better player than I had been. It was a bit surprising at the time, but there's nothing like making your mistakes and then explaining what, how and why you made them in your posts to get you to think more about the mistakes you're making. And to stop making them.
TheDemon didn't die until much, much later but our war was effectively over. Good thing too because a new threat had emerged!
Lilli, when she's committed to the game, is my pick for best player on SA right now (although it's quite close and there are a few other players who will tear your face off as easy as kiss my hand). While Schneeble and I were playing war with TheDemon, Lilli was busy single-handedly destroying Dexanth's will to play, receiving avatars from adoring fans and assembling the most deadly force the world has ever seen. For a few glorious turns, the Zmeywaffe ruled the skies; children turned out in droves to cheer the Zmey and Bane Lords as they flew proudly off to war, Mictlan's enemies threw down their weapons and fled (looking at you Feinne, you could have patrolled with your pretender and stolen five Zmey when she attacked your cap), even joined the war and the forces of goodness and ranch flavored dipping sauces seemed likely to perish from the land.
But from the darkness emerged a light, shining forth in search of justice and... Is this too much?
When TheDemon was eliminated as a threat I had a few priorities. First, I had to reveal my construction site and not get dog piled because of it. Second, I wanted to kill Feinne for betraying me because I am petty and video games are serious business. Third, I wanted to stop Lilli from getting so big that she rolled over everyone. Fourth, I wanted to set myself up for a decent shot at the endgame.
The position as I saw it was as follows: Dexanth had a few pockets of resistance left, certainly enough to cause trouble if he chose. Feinne was in a decent position but was slowly losing to irony.or.death and irony.or.death was slowly killing Feinne. Both were strong but I didn't think either had an absurd site up their sleeve. Mostly because, you know, we'd all agreed to disclose our sites. Schneeble was, at this point, a staunch ally, but I'll admit to being concerned about someone bribing him.
Subplot: Dexanth cries Zmey, is right.
Another brief sidebar here on the war between Dexanth and Lilli. I don't think anyone but Lilli expected this war to end as quickly as it did. Once she rolled out the Zmeywaffe, Dexanth collapsed like a rotten pumpkin. I was certainly surprised at both the speed and totality of his collapse. An interesting note here is that even though this was an LP, Dexanth ended up agreeing to be Lilli's vassal if she didn't kill him. This development was entirely outside my expectations and it played a bit of havoc with my predictions of where the game was going.
As a result, I significantly underestimated the speed with which the Zmeywaffe would conquer the known world. When I was thinking about how the game would progress, I had assumed that Dexanth would die but that he would go down swinging. I expected his last gasps to provide a stumbling block and either reduce Lilli's forces or at least divert a significant number to maintaining her sieges. My miscalculation came back and bit me in the ass (just like Dexanth's shishi! ).
Diplomatically I had to be very careful. I wanted to direct Lilli toward Feinne so he died but not so quickly that she could just totally overrun through him and go on a rampage through Hinnom, Sauromatia and Pangaea. I also wanted a piece of TC, ideally without having to actually fight. But I didn't want Feinne to make his last stand against me. Finally, I wanted to set up the war with TC in such a way that irony.or.death and Schneeble were able to get a little bit too, but not so much that my construction site and our combined gains made Lilli look like anything but a serious threat to win it all if we didn't team up against her.
Fortunately(?) for me, Lilli had her own plans. She made me feel a bit silly about ever worrying that I might look too scary by smashing through TC in three turns.
Before taking Feinne down in three gulps, Lilli was frightening, but not so powerful that she could take on all comers and win. With Feinne out of the picture that was still the case, but we had to act fast. The Zmeywaffe was mobile, it was brutally efficient and, with its turkey bodyguards it was technologically leaps and bonds ahead of anything the world had seen. An alliance was inevitable.
In some respects, Lilli's willful disregard for all of my carefully laid plans was a good thing because it brought help from an unexpected corner.
Subplot: pre-existing power blocks are a thing.
You know how in middle school everyone hung out in cliques? Then the cool cliques would push four loser cliques off a cliff in a horrible orgy of blood and ruined childhoods? Dom3 is like that.
If you play multiple games it is inevitable that the diplomacy of a player rubs you the wrong way or a long term alliance of convenience blossoms into the full flower of love. Over many iterations, power blocks develop. It is not, to my knowledge, intentional. But it is a thing. In this game the potential power blocks as I saw them at the time were as follows.
TheDemon only does (did, I hope, after this game) diplo with players he thinks are good. irony.or.death and TheDemon have been buddies in a ton of games. Lilli and TheDemon get along quite well and Dawkish and TheDemon were actually teammates in the most recent game they'd played. irony.or.death is also pretty friendly with Lilli and Lilli and Dawkish are pretty friendly.
I played in the tourist game with Dawkish and Lilli (Lilli turned the bones of my Niefel Jarls into playgrounds for little Witch Kings) and have been pretty friendly with irony.or.death since my first big game on Faerun several years ago.
Dexanth beat me in Lilli's prior unfinished LP but we did a lot of chatting along the way and we were pretty friendly in one of the big games we played after that. Feinne and I were allied in Tex's (also unfinished) LP and Dexanth and Feinne were the last two players standing together against Archaeo in that game before Archaeo quit in a fit of rage (lest you think I'm all about building Lilli up, Archaeo would have been my choice for best player here but see quitting and fit of rage).
There are various permutations of those potential power blocks but my expectation was that generally that was it. That's what made it such a surprise when TheDemon jumped ship to Team Ranch Dressing (sort of) and proposed putting up Perpetual Storm. It was one of the more brilliant plays I've ever seen. He could trap the Zmeywaffe in Hinnom while stopping his own elimination and sticking around until he could expand like mad. Plus, he got to show off Perpetual Storm!
Once Lilli had rampaged through Feinne's lands, there was nothing left for it but for me to attack. I knew Schneeble and irony.or.death would be along shortly. Lilli was too big and too scary to leave me to fight by myself (even if they did have a secret alteration site, they should still play as if they didn't). It was just a question of how much damage I'd take before I got help.
I had equipped a couple of mechanical giants as raiders and sent out a Ba'al as well. When I lost all three to somewhat hilarious mishaps (Ba'al loses to PD, USELESS KICK SUPREMACY is born and a Zmey routes even though it's berserk and my mechanical giant subsequently loses his last 4 hp to pd) I was pretty discouraged. It's a funny thing how losing a turn's worth of gem income to improbable outcomes is so discouraging.
Although those losses were bad, my real strength at this point lay in my bloodstones and construction site and as long as I kept those I was still in contention. I'd set troops to guard most of my commanders who couldn't take care of themselves so I wasn't too worried about the bloodstones and the construction site could easily be flooded with so many mechanical men that Lilli would autoroute before killing them all (assuming she could even breach the walls, which the Zmeywaffe were ill suited to do). But, all the same, it was a discouraging turn.
The next step in our war was curling up into a fetal position and taking it while Lilli beat me mercilessly about the head. After losing my raiders, the Zmeywaffe closed in. They took all my territory and headed straight for my construction site. I actually felt a lot better about this than I did about losing my counter-raiders, but it was still pretty rough. No land, no amulets of the fish and Dexanth was attacking me too. Because I had to be punished for letting Lilli kill him. Obviously.
Of course, everybody who grew up out in the country has seen opossum lying on the side of the road playing dead. And we all know that as soon as your lifted F-350 super duty extended cab regular bed power hemi diesel gets close they spring up and attack! If you've ever wondered where the rusting trucks littering the countryside come from, they're the carcass after the fearsome opossum splits the vehicle in half to get at the sweet, sweet transmission fluid.
Just as the Zmeywaffe closed in, circling the walls of every fort I owned, I leapt up, grabbed the metaphorical cab of Lilli's souped up monster truck and bit deep! In retrospect it's not the case, but at the time it seemed like this was the turn that would decide the game for me. I put up Perpetual Storm and broke siege with the Son of Kokabel wielding Aegis and a plethora of defensive buffs. Perpetual Storm cancels all movement that would have required flying on the turn it's cast, and nearly half of the Zmeywaffe was destroyed when I sallied forth. I beat off the besieging armies from most of my forts and sent out two mechanical giant raiders.
In addition to my personal victories, Schneeble and irony.or.death were both successfully attacking Lilli as well. Things were finally starting to go my way! And that's when Lilli found the blood site.
The only indication I got from Lilli that she'd found a blood site in my lands was a terse "are you fucking kidding me? Blood and construction?" You see, despite how much I love blood I hadn't been site searching for it. All my slaves were going to blood stones, Hinnom isn't a great blood nation and I'd been behind on research for most of the game (or focused on research that would stop me from dying). I just didn't think blood was worth it. As Mictlan, she had mages set to auto-search for blood sites and found one right next door to my construction site.
Before Lilli found the blood site, things had actually started going well for me. But once she found the blood site I expected an immediate Three Red Seconds to put up a Dark Citadel on the province. That fort comes with 600 defense which would buy her more than enough time to begin summoning in earnest. With a blood site fed by the rest of her nation I expected a huge unstoppable horde of demons to start pouring forth from right next to my construction site. I immediately attacked with my best weapon at the time, the Son of Ezekiel and Aegis. I didn't attack with everything I had because I needed blood stone caddies and would rather string the game out than lose on one battle (unlikely but possible). I had two goals here. First, try to drive Lilli off and second, preserve my strength while my two allies worked their way through Mictlan. That's the one thing about blood sites. You still need a large amount of territory to generate slaves for them to be useful. Construction (with gemgens) and alt (with or without) can be broken with only a single fort. It doesn't work well with bloodstones because you run into the same problem of needing slaves but I'd saved up enough to fuel my construction site for four or five more turns.
Because Lilli needed to maintain her empire to really exploit the blood site I wasn't as worried as I would have been if she'd found an alt site. Schneeble and irony.or.death were coming for her and she would have to pull back to defend against them or lose the game. So I attacked with the Son of Ezekiel who she promptly banished to the inferno. Next turn she started rolling in her ozelotl. My assumption had been that she cared about losing the game at this point. It turned out she didn't. She was burned out and her only goal was to take me down with her. Fortunately for me, Ornias dropped by to say hi to his pops and then left Hell to rampage about in Lilli's lands. If she hadn't burned out he would have been dead, but she was, so he managed to escape to a lab where he could cloud trapeze home.
I was a bit frustrated that Lilli decided to try to bring me down with her instead of trying to win. I'd been spoiled by TheDemon who had done everything in his power to keep his hopes of winning alive and after Dexanth and Feinne I really shouldn't have been surprised that another player didn't care about whether or not they lost. Still, there was nothing to be done about it except keep on shoveling. Metaphorically that is. I was actually trying to kill the remaining Zmeywaffe and develop counters to hordes of ozelotl backed by copious blood mages. Blood was particularly bad for me because it has great single target spells and is perfect for taking out my weapons: hordes of cyclops and giants. I was lucky that perpetual storm was up as it really takes ozelotl down a peg when they have to slog across the battlefield like everyone else. The counters I came up with, earthquake spam (six earthquakes will kill approximately infinity ozelotl and blood slaves) and mechanical men buffed by weapons of sharpness and quickness were largely moot because Incy subbed in for Lilli.
Mictlan Global Enterprises
Incy was the third sub in this game and, although he didn't know it, he was subbing into the worst position. I know that seems wrong on its face given the position Sauromatia was in when Xanrick and Schneeble subbed in, but there are a couple of key differences. When Xanrick and Schneeble subbed in, they were taking over a nation that was second to last but had potential because they were in a position to win their war and then exploit opportunities as part of a two person power block. One of the classic methods of winning Dom3 is to point to the leader and say "look how scary they are!" while you expend little effort to kill them, take more than your share and generally build up into an unstoppable monster or at least a serious contender. That was exactly the position Sauromatia was in, although it took a lot of skill and vision to get them from point A to point B. Incy, on the other hand, subbed into a position where he was the leader facing a global alliance against him. He was facing five good players without one of the fuck you I win spells up. He played very well, even for a vet, but his fate was sealed turns before he subbed when Schneeble, irony.or.death and I made a last three standing treaty.
Still, Incy played masterfully, ceding enough to make peace but not so much that he couldn't stay in the background just shy of the leader (oh and build up a huge blood income all the while) and then from behind to victory.
Incy's arrival also neatly solved the question of how to drive Mictlan off the blood site. He didn't have his predecessor's totally reasonable desire to murder me at all costs and, I think, my having both a blood and a construction site played well into any plans he had of uniting the world against me.
Unfortunately for him, Incy didn't count on my agreement with Schneeble and irony.or.death. We had a few turns of peace and then we pounced. Both Schneeble and I were courting Incy, trying to get him to go after the other one us or irony.or.death.
Incy decided to go after irony.or.death and got his braveheart moment (it's funny because Incy is English ) in a big climactic battle. After that, there was nothing left but more fucking tears.
Screw you guys, I'm going home!
After Incy's valiant end, it was down to me, irony.or.death and Schneeble. It was also the moment of truth. Would the forty turns spent working together with Schneeble and the awesomeness of our plan convince him to follow through with it? Or would his mercenary nature get the best of him, forcing him to leave irony.or.death and I to grind it out to the bitter end at which point he would take all of irony.or.death's gemgens and leapfrog me to victory?
At heart, this is a story about two cops with disparate backgrounds who forge a bond that transcends their differences and teaches us all a little something about hope, friendship and ourselves. After a few days of soul searching, Schneeble showed up at my door one afternoon with a half-grown neckbeard, smelling of bourbon and regret; a .45 and half a bag of crushed Doritos in his pocket. "I'm in" he said, with a glimmer of madness in his grin. I knew there would be trouble down the road but I didn't much care just then.
Sure enough, it was just a little later that irony.or.death showed up. I could hear the bass from his speakers rattling the windows so I excused myself and went to wait on the porch. He stumbled out of his car holding an MP3 player and a set of wireless speakers. The light reflecting off of the newly waxed, red '82 Impala played on his face and made his tears sparkle in the newly darkening sky. The throaty rumble of his engine mixed with the chorus of "Friends in Low Places" to provide a counterpoint to the keening wail that choked from his throat.
He put the speakers on the ground. Hit play. Tripped over a speaker as he checked to make sure that they were on. Shook them. Sniffled. Then, in a flash of fury, flung them into the street. "Is this really how it's gonna end builds?"
"You have options."
"Don't fuck with me man. You know this isn't how it's s'posed to end."
"You had your day in the sun. Everyone remembers Morphosyntactic Ambiguity."
"I just. I just wanted it so much. I deserved this. We both know I deserved this."
"Nobody made you take Pan."
"That was low builds. We both know that was low."
He smiled and I thought we'd be OK.
"I just... I think I just need some time."
"It happens. Look at Lilli. The best of us. Happens to them too."
He snuffled a little. Wiped his nose on his shirt sleeve. And just as he was turning to go Schneeble kicked the door open. The smell of bourbon and sweat washed out onto the porch and in his hand Schneeble was holding his .45. He stabbed the air with the gun.
"LOOK AT THIS MOROSE MOTHERFUCKER. LOOKS LIKE SOMEBODY SHIT IN HIS CHEERIOS! BUUUUNG!"
irony.or.death broke. The last fragile threads holding the flood of his sense of what was right and proper in place. His lips bent down and a hoarse sob escaped. "This is bullshit."
"It's for the greater good."
He glared at me. Tried to pull himself together. Snot dripping from nose to upper lip glimmered, giving the impression of a mustache made of regret.
"Screw you guys! I'm going home."
I watched him get back into his car and haven't seen him since. I felt a little bad for all the players for whom I'd destroyed the game. The best and the brightest of us. Dawkish, Xanrick, Dexanth, Lilli and now, irony.or.death. The twisted wreckage of their pleasure in the game a smoldering tribute to one player's will. Schneeble put his hand on my shoulder. "Come on man, let's go play street fighter. You can be Ken."
PEW PEW PEW! *SMASH* PEW PEW!
That battle was great! We broke the bounds of the battlefield, smashed together huge armies of pixel mans representing thousands and thousands of gems, hundreds of hours and probably passed up at least one chance of having sex (ever again).
My plan worked perfectly! Well, it sort of worked. Both my and Schneeble's armies went off-script on turn one and that really messed things up. My cyclops started spamming curse of stones which meant they didn't get earth power up and didn't have reinvig or the E necessary to spam petrify. The reverse communion, on the other hand, worked wonderfully. A hundred SCs blinking around summoning little (and big!) horrors all over.
At the end of the day almost every single reverse communion member survived and I hadn't expected nearly that level of success. I think I have astral shield to thank for that. It stopped horrors cold. Although in fairness the regeneration and reinvig certainly didn't hurt.
Schneeble's turn one master enslave/arcane domination really did a number on my army. Suddenly everyone was surrounded by angry vinemen. You saw the havoc that wreaked on my cyclops. My storm demons were also a bit of a disappointment. I expected them to blow shit to smithereens but either there was too much shit or it just never happened. Similarly, and despite ski getting off a couple of fantastic shimmering fields, the big evos also weren't as effective as I'd hoped for either. Good news there was that it meant that cleansing water didn't immediately murder all my demon knights as I feared it would. It still did a ton of damage but it wasn't quite the rocks fall everyone dies sort of weapon I feared.
What would I do differently? Nothing. This battle was awesome.
Better Lucky Than Good
I got lucky this game. Very lucky. Finding a construction site for a nation that can gemgen and features recruitable thugs/SCs was huge. Lilli finding a blood site for me after I'd already built a huge store of gemgens was just icing on the blood stone cake. As you can see in my blood stone counter, it's difficult to overestimate just how important blood stones were to my overall success.
Bloodstones aside, the construction site was huge because it let me equip all the Melqarts I squandered fighting TheDemon. Without it I wouldn't have been able to send TheDemon quite so many regen rings, copper plate or eye shields. It also helped lead me down the path to artifacts. Ordinarily I think artifacts are a bit of a trap, but in this game they (Aegis and Mage Bane) performed perfectly.
Ordinarily, I would be more excited about the blood site than the construction site but by the time I found it the only thing it really let me do was bring all the Grigori and Demon Lords to our final battle. That was pretty great, but it really didn't do anything to change the course of the game. If irony.or.death had stuck around I would have shown off some neat blood tricks but as it is I'm afraid you'll have to wait for the next blood nation dom3 LP.
The blood site was nothing to sneeze at but it came too late to really exploit. The construction site, on the other hand? Without my construction site I would have lost this game handily. As it was, I misplayed a number of significant points (like, you know, attacking Lanka) but was still able to pull out a victory. At the end of the day this game is more about diplomacy, where I excelled, than tactics or strategy, but my diplomacy wouldn't have been enough to save me without the construction site. Having a 20% advantage over everyone else is just huge and that's before you factor in how the site affected my decision to go for mechanical giants and iron dragons and then artifacts. Overall I played well, but my ultimate success in this game is as much about the discount site as it is about my play. Of course, as I've always said: better lucky than good!
The Horror, The Horror
All we are is dust in the wind, dude.
- Bill S. Preston, Esquire and Theodore "Ted" Logan
Horrors are one of my favorite units in dom3 and send horror is one of my favorite spells. When I originally chose Hinnom, I was excited about the option of going heavy blood and being able to natively cast Astral Corruption (ritual and forging gem use triggers a horror attack, more gems means a higher chance of attack and at high levels of gem use you can even trigger a doom horror attack) and send horror/lesser horror. Sadly, I didn't count on Hinnom being a mediocre blood nation at best or TheDemon kicking my teeth in for thirty turns. As a result I never got the chance to really use horrors. You saw a little bit with the send lesser horror spell from gift of Kugri and just how effectively a lesser horror ate province defense. Ah well.
Since I didn't get to use horrors much (except for the last battle ), let's play theorycrafting and talk about what makes horrors so good.
First, they're cheap. At an exchange rate of 3 slaves/gem, they're only 5 gems for a big one! And all you need is a single lesser horror to take out near infinite amounts of province defense. That's because of the next few points.
Their attacks are great. They get multiple life drain attacks per round, meaning that against anything alive they'll steal its life to sustain themselves. They also get astral claw attacks which horror mark the target, meaning horrors are more likely to attack that target in the future and, once sufficiently horror marked, horrors will spontaneously attack the target.
They're scary. Eek! Little horrors are just a little scary, but big horrors are quite frightening. One of my favorite units in the game are demon knights which might seem like a non-sequitur but it's not! Demon knights are great because of fear stacking. Units with fear lower enemy morale each round. If you have a bunch of units with fear all their fear effects stack. It's nasty with demon knights who have the lowest level of fear. Horrors are significantly more frightening and no SC with morale (this doesn't apply to mindless or berserk SCs) can stick around for long when four greater horrors are surrounding it shouting "Boo!"
They fly (in anything). Neither storms nor seas stop them from flying and each round they attack sort of at random. They tend to attack large but it's not reliable and so you'll see them bounce about the battlefield as the enemy futilely chases them.
The combination of these traits means that horrors are great against PD, raiders and solo SCs. They get killed pretty easily by groups of mages, but later in the game it's fantastic to be able to lock down mobility by forcing the enemy to fight in groups by killing all their raiders at a very attractive exchange rate. You can also use horrors to raid with horror/scout capping (send horror at a province, attack with a scout from the next province over - if you attack from within the same province the game does funky stuff with turn order and your scout often goes before your horror and dies on PD).
Then, when the other player gets tired of their thugs dying to horrors and sends out SCs you can send four+ horrors at an SC. Because they fly in anything they attack round one and interrupt the buff cycle. The SC gets one buff and that's it. Horrors attack large and SCs are big bags of HP. So you have four+ (I have yet to see any single SC that can survive six, but a kitted A10 A queen with mirror image killed four once) horrors, each with multiple life drain attacks which ignore armor interrupting the buff cycle. If the SC doesn't just crumple to the 16 attacks (eight of which horror mark the shit out of it) then after a round or two it will run to the absurd fear stacking. The next rule you exploit is that anything that routes without a province to retreat to dies. So you send four+ horrors at the SC and a couple lesser horrors cutting off its retreat and voila! It's expensive at 60+ horrors, but you're also killing the same number of gems and trading slaves for gems at a one to one ratio is an easy decision.
In addition to being useful, horrors have cool fluff. Evil beings from the void that eat mages who tamper with reality is cool. It is a fact. Then there's the doom horrors, huge monsters whose only role is to ruin everything good.
Finally, there's the coupe-de-grace. You don't have to script horrors. One of my great failings in this game is that I don't love scripting. Send horror is the equivalent of rolling a giant battleship up ten miles off shore and scattering molten depleted uranium death indiscriminately. You might question the morality of the thing, but it is effective and it requires far less effort than getting stuck in. Horrors, the lazyman's every tool!
King Hippomnomnomnom's earliest memories were nightmares. He saw the old Pantokrator's forge lord steadily hammering. Beating out the links of the chains. With every strike of the hammer, the anguish of his family's enemies and their cries for mercy, the passion of the innocent Avvim women and their love, the rage of the old Pantokrator and his hate, were all forged into the links. Hundreds of gems too were forged into the cold iron of the chains. Sparkling diamonds that made your hair stand on end, dripping sapphires the color of the deep, emeralds that nestled into your hand, bitterly cold amethysts, warm rubies that glowed softly in the dark, thick, heavy hunks of topaz and in the background two assistants, one grimly sacrificing screaming virgins on a stone alter, the other dutifully grinding pearls into an iridescent psychotropic dust to mix with the blood pooling below the alter. The Forge Lord's hammer paused occasionally as he dipped the links into the pool of blood and pearl dust.
Then came the binding. Every night he dreamt of the binding. He didn't know why he dreamt, but it was always the same. His father. His uncles. The Pantokrator picked them off one by one and bound them. The forge lord had done well. The chains were strong.
After King Hippomnomnomnom's dream of the binding the nightmares started. He saw his family bound with the chains, trapped by the magic of the old Pantokrator. And then the horrors came. Tiny flashes at first. Glimmers of something awful that skipped across the corner of his vision. When he was just a boy he had been terrified by these glimmers. Just knowing they were out there, watching his family and waiting for the Pantokrator's magic to fade enough that they could feast on the still bound Grigori was enough to reduce him to tears. As he grew it was not until the horrors rent the fabric of reality and unending streams of tiny horrors slipped through the cracks, heralding the arrival of their larger kin that he woke in a cold sweat.
When he became a god it took more. First the forging, then the binding, then the horrors circling and finally the stream of tiny horrors tearing at his stone flesh. He still felt the terror, but it was not until the horrors parted and fled that he started screamed uncontrollably. Every night he woke, loyal giants by his side. It always took a few minutes to catch his breath and stop the great sobs wracking his body. He always stopped. He was a god. But the fear he felt when he dreamt of Umor never left him.
King Hippomnomnomnom was not, however, without resources. And as the one true god he would meet his foes with head held high. Having a stone neck helped of course. As his kingdom grew, he planned in secret and the dreams returned each night. Always the same dreams and always pulled awake by the horrible sound of his own screams. But the dreams were a mistake. They warned him. And so he endured. And planned.
King Hippomnomnomnom did not forget his people, nor did they forget him. They whispered amongst themselves of the terrible burden their god bore and gave thanks for his fortitude. Their faith carried him as each dream bore Umor ever closer. King Hippomnomnomnom knew he had little time left and he spent it wisely, defeating T'ien Ch'i, Mictlan and Pan in quick succession. His forces washed over the land. Heroes rose and fell and rose again and great armies clashed on the field of battle. Magic tore the earth and sky and behind it all Umor drew ever closer.
Finally, King Hippomnomnomnom's plans were complete and simultaneous orders were given in Hinnom and Sauromatia. The two most powerful armies ever assembled faced each other on the field.
Magic the world over swelled. The cherry blossoms in the gardens of Arcoscephale spontaneously bloomed. In T'ien Ch'i, a Master of the Way opened the doors to the great library to find a horde of disembodied skulls lecturing as quills scratched notes, unaided by human hand. The altars of Mictlan's great Ziggurats beat as if alive and blood streamed down their steps for ten minutes before each one collapsed softly on itself and disappeared into the earth. Beneath the seas, kraken that had slumbered for years stretched their tentacles and vanished. In Sauromatia, the bones of the witch kings' fallen enemies rose up and began to march toward the field of battle and in Lanka erudition came as suddenly to the monkeys as compassion to the Raksharaja and each threw down their arms and vowed to live in harmony together. In Hinnom, the bloodstones that powered public works projects, forges, mills, laboratories and steak houses all shimmered and then melted into the fabric of the land which ever after aided the faithful in their tasks.
And then, the magic began to drain out of the world, rushing in small rivulets that joined together into streams and broad bands of flickering energy. As the streams of magic joined and became rivers so the rivers joined with each other until they coalesced into a great flood of magic, all rushing to the battlefield. The air that hung over the great vortex that was the battlefield thrummed with all the magic of all the world.
With a single word King Hippomnomnomnom took upon himself all the magic of the world and his shape flickered and glowed with power. With his hands he shaped the gate. At the front of each army, the two friends met and deep in the heart of the void, Umor stirred and for the first time knew fear.
How do you shoot the devil in the back? What if you miss?
I don't know dude. I guess we'll just have to find out.