Part 232: Sauro - Turn 67
In which T'ien Ch'i finally does die.
Remote searching uncovers a new site in the province I recently took from TheDemon. And it's an interesting one!
Not a bad income, I can always use more of both types. Also I think it came with a free laboratory. Here's the unit I can now recruit:
Let's get something out of the way right now: 300 gold is a lot of money to spend on a mage. For perspective that is what my Witch Kings cost, and those dudes have better paths. However, I don't have this combination of paths anywhere else, and in fact the Alchemist unlocks a few handy forging items that I have not had access to previously. Now I can made my own crystal coins (Astral magic booster), fire brands (common thug weapon), and shields of gleaming gold or charcoal (common thugging shields) to name a few items off the top of my head. I'm actually pretty happy about this find and I recruit an Alchemist immediately.
A random event nets me 150 gold, and I lose a Warrior Sorceress and an Adept of Pyrophlegiton to disease. Neither of these comes as a shock. Disease takes a while to kill its victims so it's pretty easy to tell when somebody's last turn will be.
Finally, I had a bunch of battles with two different opponents. Lanka is still alive and the coalition is making its move against Mictlan. First let's have out traditional look at a map. Check out all my new flags!
That's four new provinces for me! Admittedly most of them are more like raids than actual conquest, but let's pretend I'm the fastest growing nation in the game right now. I am so going to win this thing. To reiterate this is trash talk again and not a spoiler.
Two coastal provinces look promising. One seems to be a source of blood slaves (if the lack of any spcial terrain features and the priests I see there are any judge) and the other is a farm (I could always use the gold). There is a third province that is adjacent to one of thos two foothold provinces I took that appears to be equally vulnerable. In my decisions throughout this game I tend to err on the side of caution, so I soften up each province with Earth Attacks and Ghost Riders...
Well, hello! I took this screenshot a few rounds in. Several of the longdead cavalry have been killed, as have a fair bit of Mictlan PD and a lone Sea Troll. The main thing here is that the dudes in black and red robes are Circle Masters, as we've seen before. They are mages with paths in Death (2) and Blood (2) and really they are quite handy to have no matter what nation you're playing. In addition to being very useful blood hunters they can aid the defense of this province with their own skeleton spam and--just as important--with casts of Dust to Dust.
The latter spell and its big brother Wither Bones are Death spells that deal unresistable damage to undead. No magic resist checks, no defense checks, nothing. Just damage. Ghost Riders are 30-odd undead cavalry led by a single (ethereal) undead commander, who in this screenshot you can see out in front of everybody. There are two bits of good news for me here:
The first is that ethereal units do get to resist Dust to Dust and Wither Bones, so the commander is less likely to get himself killed in spite of his foolish behavior. The second of course is that Circle Masters are no spring chickens and they've been suffering under the effects of Burden of Time for quite a while. They are both old (and one of them has even picked up the Mute affliction, which halves his magic paths and makes him much less of a threat) and by the time this screenshot was taken one was unconscious and the other passed out the turn afterwards.
I don't know if we've talked about Old Age in detail before but it is kind of a pain in the ass. Old units suffer penalties to Strength, Attack, and Defense. They suffer a penalty to Precision and a penalty to Encumbrance. They also have fewer HP and AP. These penalties grow larger, the older a unit gets (I believe they correspond to the ratio of "current age" to "start of old age"). So they are absolutely terrible at melee combat, they have a harder time connecting with ranged weapons or spells, they tire easily in combat or when casting spells, and they are easier to kill and slower to move around the battlefield. In short, they suck.
With the exception of Ermor's Triarius I don't think that there are any old troops that can be recruited. Typically only priests and mages tend to be old, and several players have a powerful aversion to old mages. Not only are they worse in combat, but every winter a unit or commander with Old Age has a chance to pick up an affliction. These two Circle Masters got Never Healing Wound (20% HP reduction, not a big deal for mages) and Mute (magic skills halved, a huge deal for mages) for example. Diseased is pretty common, which of course is almost always a death sentence and generates its own checks for new afflictions each month.
So, where was I? Oh, right. Ghost Riders killed everybody and left that province completely defenseless, yay. Now for the normal battles! Since Binophe--the province that Ghost Riders just cleared--is now defenseless there is no battle and I take it without a fight.
Well, that's not entirely true. Incy moved an ichtyid commander into the province on the same turn to he showed up alone and was quickly killed and I'm not going to screenshot that. I sent a Water Queen to Binophe and one to Florien and one to Gnome Peaks. Each one absolutely destroyed the handful of PD (or the lone ichtyid commander) that she faced and it's reallyprett dull, sorry.
I moved all three back into the ocean or into a nearby fortress. Basically I am trying to draw out whatever defenders Mictlan has available. If he responds then I will be able to see what I'm up against and plan my next move accordingly. If he doesn't respond then I can return to whichever province or provinces I like best and start digging in. This plan is all the more effective now because Perpetual Storm prevents him from flying any armies over the front line I am trying to establish. He can still teleport, of course. Nothing would prevent that. But it's more of an investment for him and since I've pulled back I can respond just as easily to teleporting counter raiders as I can to a conventional counterattack.
That takes care of three battles. Where's the fourth one?
The battle for Lanka's capital. Prepare for a truly epic fight as TheDemon defends his last province from all comers!
Or, you know, a crippled Enarie leading a handful of hydra hatchlings against 1 or 2 PD. Seriously when I say that the Enarie is crippled I'm not just being mean. This dude has several afflictions: Chest Wound, Lost an Arm, and Crippled. And the hatchlings are freespawn. This battle is really sad, but really I wanted to send just enough force to beat Lanka's terrible PD without giving any indication of what I intend to bring or how I intend to place them on the battlefield.
5. Summon 9 Elemental Royalty or cast each of the 6 Royalty summons at least once (current progress: 6/9 or 3/6)
6. Make my final contribution to the LP (no slacking off!) on or before December 12, 2012.