Part 17: Turn 16: An Unexpected War(Future Me: So, uh.
You know how I said I was keeping the turn files for every turn? Yeah, sometimes I mess that up, so I can't go back and get screenshots that I may have accidentally missed.
And it turns out that once in a while I also forget to take a screenshot of the messages. And sometimes the two coincide.
So . . . here's what I've got for you.)
(Future Me: Haha, perfect. They'll never suspect a thing!
Back to our regularly scheduled LP.)
oh no, so much fighting
what has happened
there was not supposed to be combat this turn!
Oh. Well, that's excellent, actually. C'tis sees matters the same way I do (or claims to, at least, but that's good enough for now.)
(Future Me: You know what's curious here? I'm not sure what he's responding to. I feel like I must have sent something, since that's the kind of thing you say as a response, but I can't find it in my turn files. So . . . it is a mystery! In retrospect, maybe he sent something to me, intending to send to someone else? God I don't even know. So confused.)
What are the battles, then?
Not only do I get some nice intelligence on Agarthan tactics, C'tis and Midgard have gotten into a bit of an unintentional tiff. It's almost certainly not intentional, since C'tis was jumping Independents first - they probably just tried to move into the same territory simultaneously. Gonna guess C'tis wins this one, since that's probably Fluffy Bunnies involved, but we'll get to that.
Going down the list, Alteration 3 is complete. Excellent news. We'll figure out where to redirect research a bit later.
Both Arcane Probings failed, of course, but at least Mrs. Butterworth found something:
A nice little source of Death gems. I don't have any immediate plans for Death, but it's a handy auxiliary path to have, and I can craft some useful items with it. Death is also interesting in that its sitesearch spell, Dark Knowledge, requires only Death 1 to cast, and I've got no shortage of Death 1 on my Sibyls.
(Future Me: Costs 3 Death gems per casting, though, while all the other sitesearching abilities are 2 gems. Sigh.)
On top of that, there's a likely Death site right next to the Agarthan Capital (lucky fuckers, they're a Death nation and this is perfect for them) - I'll have to target that ASAP.
Finally, Dershid gets slammed with a hurricane. Dershid is the province directly to the west of the Arco/C'tis boundary lake. I'm not entirely convinced this makes meteorological sense, but this is Dominions, not a weather simulator, so we'll go with it.
I don't remember what the actual effects of hurricanes are, but I'm assuming it's not good. Not a lot I can do about it though.
(Future Me: There's supposed to be a shot of the Agarthan front lines here, but there isn't, so deal with it)
The Agarthan forces consist of a bunch of lightly-armored crossbowmen, backed up by a small group of Heavy Infantry. They're led by a Cave Captain, a reasonably capable but uninteresting commander. Have some stats:
They're going up against a basic group of independent infantry.
Militia, Light Infantry, Heavy Infantry, and a few Commanders. Nothing that should be a problem for anybody.
Their Crossbowmen fire a volley, which land in the midst of the heavily-armored and lightly-armored forces, doing . . . absolutely nothing. Seriously, not even a single point of damage. I'm highly unimpressed by this, and the thing about crossbows is that they can only fire every other round.
The second volley manages to slay a single Militia.
Things change a bit once the front lines close. The independents' Heavy Infantry nearly kill one of the Agarthan infantry units, but the Agarthan infantry tears through the independents like water. The low-morale militia quickly rout, followed by the remains of the Heavy Infantry. The Light Infantry try to do a little more damage and fail - the Crossbowmen fire a volley into the melee, doing, like, one damage to a dude, and the Agarthan forces finish them off, pursuing the stragglers.
I watch the stragglers flee, and two more of them die to crossbow bolts during the entire barrage. Again, not really impressed by this.
You don't get those nice summaries when you're not involved in a battle, unfortunately, but I'm pretty sure Agartha didn't lose a single unit.
Meanwhile, Fluffy Bunnies has a new trick up his sleeve. Coincidentally, it's the same trick as is up our sleeve. I'll get to this when setting orders.
Fluffy Bunnies is now an effectively invincible combat monster. The independent forces do not even touch him. The only thing that could possibly damage him at this point is spells and maybe extremely-high-morale melee units with magical weapons.
Unfortunately for Midgard, this does not describe their forces in any way.
The Midgard forces:
A small contingent of Huskarls, axe- and javelin-wielders without any real notability
A single Herse, a standard commander
One Galderman, a reasonably powerful air/nature/blood mage
A good number of Skinshifters: werewolves.
Skinshifters are the interesting ones here. They look weak on first glance - and they are weak on first glance - but when "slain", they turn into a werewolf and keep wreaking a rather significant amount of havoc.
Keep in mind that this werewolf is already wounded - they start with 20 hit points. They also have three attacks, allowing them to thresh their way through unarmored units easily.
Unfortunately for Midgard, Fluffy Bunnies is anything but unarmored. He's packing a 7/8 chance of being flat-out missed and a 20 damage reduction if you should manage to hit. As the werewolf's best attack starts at 12 damage, the Midgard werewolves are effectively unable to damage Fluffy Bunnies, and they quickly rout.
In some ways this rapid routing is a bit of a disadvantage to this chassis. If the Midgard units had stuck around longer, Fluffy Bunnies could have easily killed more of them. As it currently stands, it's nearly impossible for Fluffy Bunnies to actually hurt a large army, just force the army to flee repeatedly. Still not good, but it could be far worse.
As Midgard flees, Fluffy Bunnies picks off stragglers, possibly to the mutual dismay of both C'tis and Midgard. Again, I can't see stats, and I'm way too lazy to count, but I suspect Midgard lost between five and ten units here.
My increasing map zoom continues. I may end up doing two screenshots soon - one giant overview, and one battle-level shot. (Future Me: I never end up doing this. If it's a problem, let me know and I'll see what I can do.)
In the Northwest you can see another two nations, Gath and T'ien Ch'i. T'ien Ch'i is literally last place on provinces, and Gath is fifth-to-last place. They're not doin' so hot. We won't contact them either, yet, but it's good to know they're there.
So, what's something scarier than a horde of rampaging elephants?
A horde of rampaging ethereal elephants.
This thing is fantastic. It gives a 75% chance to simply avoid any nonmagical attack, and we simply don't have many magic attacks in play at this point in the game. Also, unlike most early buff spells, it's not a personal buff. It's an adjacent buff, but as long as I can get my casters next to elephants to start out with, they'll almost certainly hit the elephants and we'll end up with magic elephants.
Also, it's only Astral 1. All my Sibyls and Mystics can cast it. Nice.
I change my battle orders appropriately. I also replace Earth Grip with Earth Might, which, while still not great, may be slightly better - it increases strength, and strength translates pretty directly to damage for all melee.
I aim my Research at Evocation. There's tasty stuff deep inside that I really want, and the improved combat magic may help my front line.
In terms of production, I've settled down to a routine. Jome builds a Mystic and either Elephants or Hoplites. Arcoscephale builds a Priestess and either Cerulean Warriors or Hoplites. Unfortunately I just can't spare the money for more Sibyls right now - they're painfully expensive and I can't afford them. Priestesses are still able to research at a reasonable RP/gold ratio, and I'll be needing them later on anyway, so I may as well churn a few out.
If it wasn't clear, I'm having serious cashflow issues right now, despite my Order 3. That's why conquering large swaths of Agartha early in the war is so important - I literally can't afford not to.
As usual, the scout network continues to expand. I almost have scouts in every Agarthan province now, and I move scouts into their forts to figure out what's there. Those scouts might not last too long, but it's an important duty.
My prophet is almost at the front lines, and will be providing a little extra firepower as well as Dominion.
Mrs. Butterworth continues manual sitesearching - I need more variety desperately.
But we do one other really important thing first.
Next: The war begins.