Part 19: Turn 18: The Ebb And Flow Of War
As expected, there are more battles than expected. Let's go from the top.
I'd absolutely love to provide, if just to improve the relationship between me and C'tis. Unfortunately, I can't. Considering that it says "greetings to all", I assume he's sent it out globally, so I don't have to worry about disappointing him too much, but I'll respond anyway just to let him know that I'm thinking about him
Evocation 3 completes. I just realized I haven't told you why I was going for Evocation 3.
This is why I was going for Evocation 3. Magic Duel is that spell that can easily kill moderately powerful astral casters, no matter what their other stats are, given a pile of weak astral casters. For example, this would let me use my hordes of Sibyls and Mystics to flatten, oh . . . Fluffy Bunnies.
Obviously I consider this very important. Now that I've got this spell I don't have to be quite so panicked about Fluffy Bunnies wandering near my territory - if he does decide to attack, he's pretty much going to end up bunny paste.
We redirect our research towards Construction.
HOLY SHIT IT WORKED
I CAN'T BELIEVE IT
I'm not going to show you the site right now, though. Can you guess why?
Water gems! Delicious, delicious water gems. You have no idea how much I've been hoping for this. Water gems will let me cast water-gem site searching, which will let me find more water gems, which will let me craft several very, very important items.
In Dominions, often the hardest part about breaking into a new school of magic is finding the first gems. Once you've done that, the rest is (relatively) easy. It's possible to alchemize gems into other gems, but it's expensive and generally worth avoiding if possible, especially if you've got better uses for those gems (which, so far, I always have.)
And . . . hey! Water gems! This random event nets me 5 more water gems, which is a much-appreciated kick in the pants to my water economy. Thank you, random number generator! I loathe you slightly less than I did previously.
First, my battle against Agartha. I don't mean against the nation Agartha. I mean against the province Agartha. Their capital. Needless to say, this is a critical, and somewhat worrisome, battle.
This should look familiar.
This should also look familiar.
Agartha, as it turns out, is defended by nothing more than province defense. The battle goes roughly as you'd expect.
This shot should show you why ethereal elephants are so awesome. That elephant in the middle is pretty much tanking half of Agartha's forces, and taking near-zero damage in the process. I have to get a bit lucky for my ethereal elephants to end up in the front lines - you can see another one trapped behind my forces - but when it happens, it's so strong that it's worth the effort and risk.
Midway through the battle, a non-ethereal elephant that's been wandering around the fringes gets taken down. Meanwhile, my ethereal elephant right smack in their army is still at 51/64 hit points. Fuckin' badass.
Second, Cun Aral.
Agartha's pathetic forces.
My . . . even more pathetic forces.
Cun Aral is the northern province that I captured from Agartha. I only put one PD in, but it looks like Agartha decided to try recapturing it from my elephants. I'm actually a bit surprised that they could - it looks like the eastern group of crossbowmen that failed their neutral attack last turn actually had a commander involved, and, well, this is them. This puts me in a somewhat unfortunate position which I'll get to later.
My forces actually manage to run right up to the crossbowmen and kill one of them before routing, which is more than I'd expect. I'll spare you the screenshots.
So, remember that site I found? Yeah. That was Cun Aral. I don't even know what the site was, and now Agartha is collecting gems from it. This . . . is annoying. I hope Agartha notices, though, just because it's funny.
"Huh. This province of mine didn't have a magic site before Arco conquered it . . ."
Third, Barra. Barra is the northern fort, and I'm expecting it to be less defended than Agartha.
Surprisingly, I'm wrong. Agartha seems to have chosen to defend Barra explicitly. Forts are a bit odd because, by default, your forces are set to "defend castle". That means the first wave of attackers gets a free pass at your province defense. If you want to fend off the attackers before they reach your castle, you have to change their orders to "patrol", which means your researchers won't research.
There's a few new units here, too.
Here's a few beefy undead. They've got a nice number of hit points and significant protection. They also dual-wield short swords. They also have terrible attack and defense skills.
Surprisingly, their archers decide to attack my elephants. Presumably they've got the Target Large Enemy order. This is a bit unconventional, but makes sense - not only are my elephants by far more vulnerable to arrows than my near-invincible front-line troops, but my mages are right next to the elephants, and a good shot could instantly slay one of them. Maybe I should be more careful in the future - losing a Sibyl to save an elephant is a pretty crummy deal, honestly.
The Agarthan front line goes down easily, but upon checking out the rear line I'm confronted with this. Their Necromancers have been summoning hordes of skeletons, zombies, and other undead, which are forming a constantly-advancing front line.
It turns out that skeletons are really wimpy. 5 hit points, 0 protection. The other undead are stronger, but none of them are particularly deadly. In bulk they can present a problem to some forces, but in small numbers, and against elephants, they're irrelevant.
My mages have gone offscript and are casting pretty much whatever they feel like. This is a healing spell, which heals an elephant for about 20 hit points, bringing it back up to full. Not bad! I'd cast this more often except that it simply wouldn't be useful until late in the battle, which, naturally, is exactly when I can't control my mages.
(Future Me: This is actually a kind of deep problem in the Dom3 battle system. There's a few cases where a spell would be really goddamn useful if you could use it later in the battle, but thanks to how Dom3's scripting works, that's nigh-impossible.)
For some reason that I don't quite understand, Agartha never gets around to routing. I'm not complaining - this gives my elephants a chance to kill both their Necromancers. Each of those guys costs 250 gold, so that's about five elephants worth of value that I just slaughtered. Excellent.
That's the kind of battle report I like.
And fourth, Gipha. where the hell is Gipha It's way off to the northeast, far past C'tis. My scouts are watching a battle.
This is Jomon. They're based on feudal Japan, and their units include samurai and other reasonably-armored cheap infantry with inexpensive, but effective, weaponry. I'd actually be a bit worried about them if I were attacking them - my elephants would do a number on them, but I'd also lose some elephants. Luckily, I'm not. If I do ever end up fighting them, it'll be much, much later in the game, so there's no point in talking about detailed military strategy with them right now.
One downside of having large numbers of lightly armored units is that you're near-guaranteed to lose a few in battles. While I don't have result statistics for the battle, it looks like a few warriors die from the enemy crossbows. On the other hand, the units are cheap.
Once you've defeated the outer defenders of a castle, you have to break through the walls while the interior defenders rebuild the walls. This message tells me I'm making progress, but it doesn't tell me how rapidly I'm making progress.
We also sort of don't care. This early in the game, taking down a castle is what you do after you've won, while occupying castles is what you do that causes you to win.
In the Northwest you can see Atlantis, living in the water. Atlantis is one of several aquatic nations, and presumably they own the entire ocean up there. Meanwhile, Mictlan is in the southeast. They've been having major trouble getting established, and lost a bunch of territories, possibly to Midgard. There's still a lot of neutral territory between them and Midgard though so I'm not quite sure what happened there.
Speaking of Midgard, here's Midgard's Pretender God, bumming out right next to my territory. This actually makes me less worried than I was previously. A Great Enchantress is a rainbow pretender much like Mrs. Butterworth is, and would be idiotic to have in battle, or on the front lines of a new war. Additionally, Great Enchantresses come with a point of Astral, which means my new Magic Duel spell will be quite effective against her, unless she has extremely high Astral. Which seems unlikely.
And Fluffy Bunnies is literally right next to them. I . . . must say, this does worry me some. With Magic Duel, hopefully it will not become an issue, but . . . you never quite know.
I recruit a set of mercenaries.
I very intentionally do not send more forces to Agartha. In fact, I actually recall the squad I sent out before, and step up scout recruiting in the east. Just to be sure.
One thing I like about scouting: we can make veiled commentary like this. Hey, Midgard. We know who your neighbors are.
And here's Agartha.
Trying to catch an army can be a singularly frustrating experience. All movement is simultaneous, so it's useless to attack where an army currently is - you have to assault where it will be next turn. I don't really want that group of crossbowmen to rampage through my entire civilization, so it's time to surround and destroy them.
Additionally, I now own their forts. The first thing I'm going to do is abandon their forts and leave a single scout each to continue the assault. what why would you do that It's because, despite my decimation of Agartha's military, they actually have some powerful magicians - and their Pretender God - left. I'd rather not burn my military against them when I can just as easily use that military to capture their provinces and cripple their production. Agartha, right now, is a large delicious pastry with a sharp rock in the middle - why bite down on the rock when there's a bunch of pastry around?
I do, however, jack the tax rate in both of their provinces up the maximum. While you're sieging a castle, you get their taxes from that province. By increasing the tax rate not only do I make a lot of money, but I vastly increase the Unrest in that province, which means when (if) they take it back, it'll be less useful. Sure, I'm hurting it a bit long-term from my point of view also, but it's more important to finish off the war quickly.
(Future Me: So, yeah, "a somewhat unfortunate position which I'll get to later." I don't know what I was thinking there because I didn't get to it this turn. Guess I'll get to it now.
The problem is what happens when an army routs. They run off the battle map and run to a random adjacent friendly province. If there's no adjacent friendly provinces, poof, they just vanish. Right now the squad assaulting Barra is completely isolated, and if Agartha manages to drive it off, the entire thing will vanish. That's bad, and that's one of the reasons that a nice solid blob of territory is much stronger than an overextended spidery network of territory.)
And speaking of delicious pastry . . .
Agartha's got a few provinces with no province defense. That means that even my scout should be able to jump them and win. I tell my scouts to attack - in the worst case I lose a pair of scouts (oh no). One of them is the province that the crossbowmen fled to, so there'll be a little "resistance", but without a commander they will flee again immediately. Forces can't fight with a commander.
T'ien Ch'i is directly adjacent to Agartha. We send them a message that is . . . slightly ambiguous.
To be honest, the only ambiguous thing about this message is when exactly I'm going to be attacking them. If I were T'ien Ch'i I'd be frantically trying to get C'tis to attack me right now - it's literally their only hope - but I don't think C'tis would do that.
Basically, T'ien Ch'i is probably boned now. They have almost no provinces and unless they pull a hell of a rabbit out of their hat, they're going to be no more than a speed bump against my momentum. Still, great pride comes before a fall, and I shall not be taking them lightly.
I'm basically hitting every single province adjacent to Agarthan fortresses, as well as two that aren't adjacent. In theory, I might capture seven provinces this turn, which will look hilarious on the province charts.
Next: A wave of solid elephant.