Part 23: Turn 21: It's Like Playing Whack-A-Ghoul
Cun Aral is turning into a surprising center of luck for me.
I spent a turn or two sending a Fire mystic over to that fire site near my capital to check it out. He found this Fire gem producer for me. Wait that's not a fire gem producer. Fire site, you are doing it wrong. Fuck it I'm just going to use a site-search spell. I redirect him to the capital, we'll use the lab there.
(sweet, earth gems)
My first air gems. Usefulness: EXTREMELY LOW
(Future Me: I'm not really sure I ever explained this. One nice strength of LA Arco is that Arco has something in nearly every magic path. Sibyls have Astral, Nature, Death, and Water. Mystics have Astral, Fire, Water, and Earth. I don't have access to Air or Blood, but Blood's a bit of a special case anyway, so in reality Arco has all of the standard magic paths except Air.
In conclusion, I don't have Air. So, yeah. Fuck Air gems.)
The battle for Great Woods, the province southeast of Agartha's capital, goes well. Here you can see a particularly well-aimed Magma Bolts spell, which totally isn't hitting more of my forces than the enemy forces. Good shot, dude! Good shot. In the end I lose a single Cerulean Warrior, possibly from friendly fire.
Great Woods is marked as being a probable death site. I thought Agartha might have been defending it for a badass death site there, but either there isn't, or Agartha didn't find it. Sigh. I'll have to check it out once I can.
Agartha itself purchased some province defense but did not otherwise defend. I feel like I'm losing the battle of wits here - he's consistently one step ahead of me. Once again, I have failed to see what his Forge Lord looks like, although the Forge Lord isn't really useful in combat so this isn't entirely surprising.
Here's Agartha's little tiny expansion force, getting eaten by the group I sent to eat Agartha's little tiny expansion force. Good show!
I thought Barra was completely uninhabited. Unfortunately, it's impossible to scout a fort once you're sieging it. It turns out I was wrong. They manage to drive my scout off, and it'll be a turn before I can get reinforcements there, which is a bit annoying.
And by now you know how independent provinces go.
We're getting close to the point where I need to just show you the entire map. Of note: I've found the west edge and the east edge of Pythium. Pythium is pretty dang big right now - the score graphs show them at 3rd largest. The second largest is Ulm, who I haven't even seen. I assume they're in the northeast corner simply because, if they were anywhere else, I would have met them by now.
It's funny how small C'tis is starting to seem.
First order of business: I order my Commander to build a fort at the Sage site, then move a magician and priest over to the same location to do more construction next turn. I'll need a lab to hire sages, and I may as well plop a temple down in an easily-defensible location. I have a Priestess construct a Temple near my capital to help counteract the temple that C'tis built. In the process I check out C'tis's forces - they seem to be building a pile of City Guards, moderately-heavily-armored but cheap units. C'tis now has three forts, and I've got scouts sitting in both their non-capital forts. It's a bit risky since forts often have patrollers and heavy PD, but, hey, scouts are cheap.
I'm so low on money after all this that I can't even build my entire Hoplite contingent. Argh.
Let's Learn About The Game: Magic Items
It's time to forge my first magic item, the same Dwarven Hammer that C'tis was looking for. Magic items are a powerful force in Dominions 3, and I'm planning to be making great use of them. (Future Me: In fairness, this is kind of like saying "given the choice between doing well and badly, I plan to not suck".) Their effects include the standard gamut of combat abilities, from defense to offense to magic boosts, as well as some . . . weirder ones.
The Dwarven Hammer, while an unassuming combat weapon, has a powerful ability that makes it a staple of all players: the Forge Bonus. The winner of a game will often burn literally hundreds of gems on magical items, and the Dwarven Hammer reduces all forging costs by 25%. A clear win, especially later in the game.
Forging an item takes one turn, and requires a mage with sufficient skill. The Dwarven Hammer takes Earth 3, and Mrs. Butterworth has exactly that. (Future Me: How coincidental! No actually it's not coincidental at all, I put some effort into making sure we had easy access to all the early-to-mid-game magic path combinations we'd want.) We've gotten enough Earth gems off random events and off the few earth sites we've found to afford it, so she sets to work making one.
T'ien Ch'i is massing forces on our shared border. I don't know if they're planning to attack me while I finish off Agartha, or if they're just preparing for the admittedly-inevitable invasion. Let's be fair, we all know where this is going. If they do attack me, it'll make my life significantly more annoying - I'm having enough trouble cracking Agartha without adding this into the mix.
Speaking of which -
I send off a carefully worded political message to Agartha.
die already, fucker
I'm collapsing on Agartha again, and this time I'm planning to finish the fucker off. The western Agarthan province is currently completely undefended, so I'm trying to jump it with a scout. I'm moving forces into every province adjacent to Barra, and next turn I'll collapse on Barra and lock it down while I finish off Agartha. With luck, Agartha has very few turns left. By then I'm hoping to have cleaned up most or all of the independent provinces, and I'll move on to hit T'ien Ch'i.
I'm a bit worried that I'm falling behind on magical power. The sages should help with that, and getting out of this war will help as well. Now that I finally have significant gem income I can start throwing my weight around with equipment and summons, and that will let me work effectively as well.
Meanwhile, I'm filling both T'ien Ch'i and C'tis with scouts. I don't like C'tis's military buildup, considering their fort location, and I'd like to keep an eye on it. Conveniently, Barra is perfectly placed to dump troops directly into C'tis - my supply lines will actually be shorter fighting C'tis than they are for Agartha. I still think it's not in C'tis's best interest to attack me, but maybe he's set up an alliance with both Midgard and T'ien Ch'i, and . . . alright, that would give me some trouble.
Next: Game gets heavier, hooves get louder.