Part 30: Turn 27: The Tide Of Battle Is A Fickle Mistress Indeed
No new sites, as usual. We've got a Cave Drake though. Excellent.
Pythium is declaring a new prophet. Presumably their old one got killed off.
Again? Goddammit. We'll look at the positioning later.
So far: this is just not our turn.
In Omicria, the barbarians just sort of stomp our units. There's not a lot to be said about that.
In Vlecz, Midgard flattens another group of C'tis province defense.
In Oeperi, T'ien Ch'i flattens us. Not surprising. It does tell us what their forces look like - maybe three dozen archers and two dozen cavalry. Nothing particularly dangerous, I just don't have the forces in place to deal with them.
Our scout to Ferran Mountains gets slaughtered. I guess T'ien noticed the lack of province defense. Or, possibly, timed things explicitly to eat a scout of ours. So it goes.
Abysia sends another party to attack Mictlan. For some reason Mictlan seems to be low on units, and Mictlan almost folds - you can see a few of their fireball-targeted Jaguar Warriors here. Nevertheless, Mictlan wins without much trouble.
Over in Silver Fangs whoa hey who's this.
That's Gath, a race of fire-based giants who make use of blood magic. I know effectively nothing about Gath and I'm not really going to look it up right now, but they're invading C'tis and I'm gonna bet C'tis isn't happy about this. I don't know how common this is for Gath, but this player is going with a Bless strategy similar to Mictlan's - and if you think sacred Jaguar Warriors are nasty, Gath here has sacred giants.
And flying Pegasus Riders, who leap into the battle on the first turn and shred the C'tis forces. Though I think this is a mercenary squad.
And finally, Agartha.
My elephants are in front, though I hadn't realized Agartha had those giant canyons there. The Agarthan gate is ahead - my troops, elephants and all, will have to file through that.
And here's the Agarthan forces. They look weak, but they're almost all mages, and mages can be dangerous. In the middle is the Agarthan Forge Lord Pretender.
Agartha spends almost the entire first turn casting Summon Earthpower. Summon Earthpower is a spell that increases Earth magic by one, and it's quite handy for Earth combat mages.
The elephants start trooping in as their mages spam Magma Bolts. Most of them miss, and those that hit do little damage, but there sure is a hell of a lot of them.
Now here's a problem. For some reason, my elephants are spreading out quite heavily. Why are they doing this? I actually have no idea. Very few of them are getting through the gate.
The elephants finally reach their opponents, but spend an entire turn killing off the undead, not the much more dangerous Agarthan infantry.
They do flatten the infantry next turn, but meanwhile the Forge Lord has put up a rather dangerous-looking fire shield.
The elephants break through, slowly, but they're still very spread-out. I check the elephants in the back - it turns out I've got a large number of limping and crippled elephants.
Whoops. That's not good. The slowly-moving elephants are blocking the forces behind them. Instead of a wall of stampeding elephants, we end up with more of a trickle of elephants.
And naturally, having elephants filing one at a time into the enemy forces goes badly.
Here's one major weakness of elephants that I simply didn't think about until now: You can't fit a lot of them through a gate. I might have been far better off with my melee forces in front, and the elephants bringing up the rear.
And sure enough, the elephants turn and flee. Even the Hypaspist elephant handlers - many of which are now dead - can't keep them focused.
To be honest, I'm not quite sure what happened here. See that extremely light 147 in the air? That's where his Pretender was, and that Pretender just took 147 points of damage. He only had 120 hit points or so left . . . so his pretender is now dead. My best guess - and this is really goddamn embarrassing for Agartha - is that he cast Gifts from Heaven, a powerful spell that summons 150-damage meteors from the sky, and managed to clobber himself with one. That's one good thing, at least.
Replaying the battle, it turns out that one of his mages actually did it for him. Thanks Swanuth! It's appreciated!
But sadly, it's not enough. Even Pretenderless and with their infantry destroyed, Agartha manages to rout my army.
And you know what elephants do when they rout. They run right through everything else. Some of them even seem to be bugged - they get stuck on the wall, and on various pits, and can't escape. My trusty Scout prophet goes down, and so does one of my Sibyls.
I'll spare you the play-by-play.
That . . . could have gone a whole hell of a lot better.
(Future Me: So. You know what would have made this go better.
The problem was those limping and crippled elephants. Without that, it's quite possible we would have simply won. A single priestess bumming out with the army, using Heal every turn during the siege, and the vast majority of those elephants would have been totally fine.
Lesson to be learned, and something that any Arco player should know: always bring a priestess along with every single squad of moderate size. You don't need more than one, you only need one, but you do need that one. I consider this to be possibly my greatest mistake so far.
Also, it should be pointed out that while I'm behaving very calmly and logically for the rest of this post, I'm actually a bit shellshocked and trying to figure out how the fuck to salvage this disaster.)
After Agartha, I lose a pair of scouts, including the one in T'ien Ch'i's capital. T'ien Ch'i has learned to patrol.
This isn't surprising - I only have a single scout remaining to siege the fort. Thank god for that scout, though - without him, the fortress would have reset to full. As it is, they only picked up a bit of defense.
I never got around to suiciding this guy, and apparently I got outbid. Off to Pythium he goes.
And Bogarus is defeated. I hoped Agartha would be defeated here also, but . . . nope!
So let's take a look at that barbarian province.
This . . . has not been a good turn. I can't even get reinforcements to my front line without breaking through a wall of barbarians. For that, I'll need elephants. Exactly one elephant escaped Agartha, and he's limping. Meanwhile, I'm about to be jumped by T'ien Ch'i, and if Agartha manages to break out, I have to start the siege process all over again. This could have gone much, much better.
We need to prioritize.
* AGARTHA MUST NOT ESCAPE. That means moving everything in range to Agartha. If Agartha breaks out I'm in a whole shitload of trouble, as opposed to my current mere boatload of trouble. My forces, while weak, may still be able to defeat theirs, as all they have left are a handful of mages and some ranged units. As long as I'm not trying to storm their fortress again, I may be able to stop any breakouts - and if they try a breakout and fail, I'll probably be able to storm their fortress easily.
* Hold T'ien Ch'i off. I'm going to move my slinger army into Carnag and hope T'ien Ch'i won't risk moving past the fortress with it intact. Moving past is highly risky, as it would leave their army without an escape route. Admittedly I might not be able to defeat the army, but maybe T'ien Ch'i doesn't realize that. Meanwhile, I can keep producing units in Barra.
* Break the Barbarian Line and get reinforcements ASAP.
The Robe of the Sea that I made goes to one of my few Water 1 Sibyls, who begins immediately casting Voice of Apsu, the Water sitesearching spell. I notice that I've got a new Water 2 Mystic in Barra. I really don't want this guy to end up in combat, as he's my first native Water 2 caster . . . but . . . Agartha. I send both him and his similarly-valuable Earth 2 mystic friend down to reinforce, with half a dozen Hypaspists that I built last turn. This may be a mistake but I need that damn castle down now.
Just to remind myself: Agartha has 11 commanders left and 17 regular units.
This leaves Barra nearly undefended. I put some province defense there - T'ien Ch'i has only a few forces nearby and some basic province defense should beat them easily. Carnag, on the other hand, won't be helped by anything short of a full-out war party.
My Endless Bag Of Wine goes on one of my Sages, because, hey, why not. He's not leaving the castle and he won't die unless the castle falls.
Mrs. Butterworth forges a Crystal Coin, which is a nice Astral booster. I do have a plan for this, and it happens at Evocation 6. According to my math, that will take me two turns, almost exactly.
Next turn, I need to keep Agartha. In two turns, I'll have forces at Jome ready to break through the barbarian line. In five turns, I hope to have finished Agartha off once and for all.
I'm lagging behind here, and I'm not happy about it, but both of my opponents put together are still about half my size. That's what I keep telling myself: I should be able to finish them off and pass Ulm again.
And at least I no longer have to worry about C'tis attacking. They've got enough on their plate.
Next: Sieging for everyone!