Part 31: Turn 28: There Is A Lot Of Death Going On Right Now
Thank god things are a bit shorter.
Evocation 5 is done, and our research powerhouse is churning rapidly towards Evocation 6.
We somehow manage to find a magic site with our single site search.
No, scratch that - we find ourselves a magic *powerhouse*. Holy shit. This thing's been sitting in our territory for virtually the entire goddamn game, and I didn't notice the Cold in the province. How stupid was that?
Ice Druids are kind of neat, but not particularly noteworthy - they don't have great magic and they don't have great research. Amazing for a nation that doesn't have native Water access, but I'm not that nation. If I suddenly need a ready supply of Water 2 casters, I'll keep them in mind, but that will probably never happen.
I am not complaining about those gems, however. Hoo boy.
This is the point where a lot of people are re-prophetizing. Honestly, I should be thinking about the same thing since my poor scout prophet got knocked off, but there's a few months before I'm allowed to. And I'd like to summon something suitably badass up for it, and that ain't happening with my current Conjuration level.
Luckily, I didn't have any troops in Troban. I guess they hit the PD. I don't think we actually get any gems out of this, however.
More water gems.
And widespread death.
In some ways this really isn't surprising. Halbathria is where that Well of Pestilence is located, and it's just been spewing Death everywhere. I don't know how many people Halbathria originally housed, but it's down to a tiny 1590 this turn, and it's just going to be getting smaller. Also its unrest is at 99. May as well turn taxing off, but even with it completely off, it'll take three turns to go down to 0.
At least I'm getting a Death Gem out of it every turn.
And there's a battle in Agartha.
This is essentially a lynchpin at this point. If we lose Agartha again, we'll be pushed back pretty damn far before - if - we can recover. If we keep Agartha, any forces they sent at us will die - even if they "retreat", they'll retreat straight into our territory and be slain.
Cross your fingers.
They've sent out five mages, a single Gate Lord, and all the Crossbowmen they have left. This is kind of weird. Why not send out all the mages?
We've got a ramshackle assortment of whatever the fuck we managed to rustle up after the giant rout.
We manage to Mind Burn his Gate Lord into a flaming husk. Good start, though I would much rather that had targeted a mage.
Our forces charge in the face of magma bolts.
I'm actually rather worried here. Thanks to my scattering of forces last turn, I don't have a big contiguous group with sensible orders. What I have is extremely vulnerable to being routed in small chunks, and one rout could set off an ugly chain reaction. This isn't helped at all when my limping elephant catches a magma bolt in the side and goes down to half health.
Don't rout, elephant! We believe in you!
My own spells are targeting the near-worthless crossbowmen. The mages. Shoot the mages. Shoot the goddamn mages.
I just paused this like four times. "Take a screenshot of magma? Nah, it's just one blast. No wait, there's another. There's another. There's another. Fuck goddamn knock it off with the magma"
Yeah here have a screenshot of magma.
That used to be a Sibyl.
And that used to be Agarthan forces that weren't routing.
The battle report says that we didn't kill much - but in reality, that entire army is now gone. That was half their mages, and most of their army. Agartha is ours next turn.
Barring even more catastrophe.
In Kishia, T'ien Ch'i is attacking Independents. Where's Kishia? It's the province north of Carnag. They seem to be consolidating their positions, and possibly moving into a spot where they can choose to attack either castle. Not a bad idea - they may have seen my slinger army shifting into position, and they'd simply never crack that.
This is to my advantage, however. The reason I'm holding off quietly is because I'm rebuilding my forces and researching. Every turn they wait is a turn I get far more forces sitting right on the front line.
If I'm really lucky, it'll even be enough.
(T'ien Ch'i beats the independents easily.)
Storn Woods: another suicidal assault by Abysia. I think Mictlan got reinforcements, they seem to have more Jaguars now. Even so, they lose a few.
Abysia's actually got their Prophet in this battle, loaded up with an Axe of Sharpness and a Death gem for some godforsaken reason. He dies. If Mictlan is lucky, they got the axe. I'm using "lucky" in sort of a relative sense - the Axe of Sharpness isn't bad for a level zero magic item, but in the end, it's a level zero magic item.
Gath troops through Werk Enum, nearly uncontested. By "nearly uncontested" I mean "while stomping a whole shitload of lizards".
I'm a little worried about Gath. They're kind of making a beeline for me. This is probably coincidental, because they're also splitting C'tis in two, while passing by his capital. But . . . they're also making a beeline for me.
If they are going after me, I'm probably fucked. I can kill Agartha. I can probably beat Agartha and T'ien Ch'i. I'm in serious trouble if I'm up against Agartha, T'ien Ch'i, and Gath. Well, such is life - there's very little I can do about that at this point.
We lost a scout in Sermioc, possibly due to a truly ridiculous amount of province defense.
Agartha's castle is siegeable again - not surprising, they must have a mere handful of troops - and we've recruited a mercenary named Urgek Beast Brother. He'll be shock troops for us.
So let's strategize if Gath is coming for us. We'll be having trouble with them because, while our elephants technically can trample them, they can only trample one at a time. We need more ground forces to deal with them - swarms of smaller ground forces, and for us, those are expensive. Alternatively, magical forces that are not vulnerable to physical attacks. Doesn't really pin it down, I'm afraid - we don't have good access to either of those. There's an Idea I have . . . but it's at Thaumaturgy 5, and we're down at Thaumaturgy 2. On the other hand, that's only two turns of research at our current rate, and it'll be useful no matter what, and it's a major goal for our midgame strategy. So we'll head for that after Evocation 6.
(Future Me: Yeah, yeah, "we're fucked if they're coming for us, let's strategize if they're coming for us." I'm not planning on going down without a fight, whatever happens. If we get lucky constantly, then we win - the difficult parts of a game like this is what happens if we don't get lucky. That's what I need to focus my effort on. It doesn't help to win by a landslide - I'd rather not lose by an iota.)
Here's what things look like. You can see Gath's army moving down.
I'd like another Crystal Coin. We need someone with Earth 2 and Astral 2 to forge it, and last turn, that meant Mrs. Butterworth. It no longer does - one of my mystics has Earth 2 and Astral 1, and with the last Coin, that gives him the ability to forge another Coin. And we give him the hammer. Can't forget the hammer.
In our capital, we recruit a horde of Cerulean Warriors. Around our capital, we recruit a pile of independent commanders. We need to pick up those Cardaces and get them doing something useful, also, so I recruit a goddamn mounted commander. It's the best thing available.
Despite all that, I actually have money to spare (ah, the joys of lower upkeep and not recruiting a lot of elephants) so I check out the mercenaries. There's a guy named Obscuro.
. . . Huh.
Obscuro is a level 2 Air mage. Air is pretty much the only thing we don't have, and comes with a very, very useful spell named Arrow Fend. Now, Arrow Fend is actually at Air 3. But . . . there are ways of ratcheting someone's air up a little in battle. For one thing, gems. For another thing, communions - groups of mages that work together to do powerful things. We'll talk about them more later, one way or another.
Now, Obscuro doesn't have Arcane magic, which is what you need to cast Communion Master. But there's an item called a Crystal Matrix that allows him to lead a communion without casting that spell. And we do have a pile of Sages that have Arcane 1 and would make for great communion slaves, if it comes to that . . .
The problem is that Arrow Fend is all the way down at Enchantment 6. We're really not planning to head for that anytime soon, so as interesting as this idea is, it's really quite impractical.
Let's try to hire him anyway. We've got the money, and maybe we can hold on to him for a bit. We overbid a bit for him and cross our fingers. Mercenaries are easier to keep than they are to hire, so let's try to snatch him before anyone else does.
Back in Agartha, we try to storm the castle again. Our strategy isn't particularly subtle: we're trying to stomp in and destroy them. Our disposable mercenary squad is at the front, our limping elephant is at the back along with my slow warriors, and everyone reasonably fast is in the middle. Meanwhile, I've got mages spamming all the best things they know.
Again, if this doesn't work, we're in even more trouble.
I shift some of my Midgard scouts up north a bit - it seems that C'tis has retreated, for the time being at least.
We've got a lot of money on-hand, but we save it. We may be needing it, and it would be nice to not scramble for every . . . uh . . . pound of gold.
Right now, a lot of it rests on Gath. I think it would be kind of ridiculous for Gath to be going after us, especially cutting a swath straight through C'tis to get to us, but stranger things have happened. I'm going to have enough trouble with them if they're not going after us. Let's hope it's just not a problem.
Next: Storming Agartha, Take 2.