Part 32: Turn 29: The Changing Of Battle Lines
Evocation. We'll get into that a bit later.
No magic sites, unsurprisingly. In Thing Woods we get another witch curse, and this time there's a commander that we just recruited, but he doesn't get cursed. That witch is really awful at witching.
In Oeperi, T'ien Ch'i gets jumped by a pack of Barbarians. Unfortunately for me, T'ien Ch'i is really good against Barbarians, as their massed arrow fire can pretty much cut down the slow unarmored low-morale barbarians before they even get close.
They flee before they reach T'ien Ch'i's melee.
In Qennan, T'ien Ch'i consolidates their positions, stomping agroup of rather uninteresting independent troops, and putting them within a stone's throw of both my forts.
In Storn Woods, Abysia jumps Mictlan yet again, and fails yet again. There is nothing interesting to say about this.
In Werk Enum, C'tis decides to take back some of their territory that the main Gath army has passed. Here's the C'tis forces, our friendly neighborhood bunny.
And here's the Gath forces. Gath didn't advance, for some reason - they stayed in the same spot, catching Fluffy Bunnies as he came in. Or maybe Fluffy Bunnies teleported to their location, that would do it also. This could be interesting.
Gath's flying forces jump Fluffy Bunnies mid-buff, and Fluffy Bunnies starts destroying them one square at a time with his Fire Brand.
Then, disaster for C'tis. Predictable disaster, and exactly the disaster I would have been inflicting if I were going up against him. But disaster.
See the purple person with the blue halo? That's a Horror Mark. It's an extradimensional beacon to a plane of Really Nasty Things, saying "come get me, I'm tasty." Fluffy Bunnies is going to be attacked by Horrors from now on. Maybe not often, maybe wimpy ones. But each Horror will put more Horror Marks on, and more Horror Marks means more - and bigger - Horrors.
That right there is a slow inevitable death for Fluffy Bunnies. Even letting his Pretender die and resurrecting him won't take those off.
(Future Me: The sole saving grace of this spell is that it can be really, really, really slow. Turns out that a single horror mark is a 2% chance of a horror per turn. A normal combat mage will most likely get stomped by even the wimpiest horror, but Fluffy Bunnies is a bit of a behemoth and can probably weather Lesser Horrors with little issue. So while this is indeed inevitable death, a single Horror Mark might well be "inevitable" in the sense that he'll die about a thousand turns from now.
On the other hand, Gath isn't casting just one Horror Mark, and the more Horror Marks are added, the faster things tend to progress.)
Back to the battle at hand, though, Fluffy Bunnies manages to clear all the nearby big enemies and finish buffing.
He's nearly done with all the small ones when the bulk of Gath's forces show up.
Gath is blasting him with all the spells they have. Horror Marks, Mind Burns, Banishments. It's doing low damage, but it is doing damage - at this point Fluffy Bunnies is limping.
And it just doesn't let up. Fluffy Bunnies started with 150 hit points, and he's down to 79.
Finally he does enough damage that the Gath forces start retreating.
And they rout entirely, leaving Fluffy Bunnies with 63 hit points. And a horror mark . . . likely several.
C'tis won the battle, but in the long run, this will cost them their pretender.
(On the plus side, I'm no longer worried at all about Gath going for my neck.)
Here's Agartha. It turns out their fort entrance is off-center. Argh. Fuck you Agartha, that explains a lot.
(Future Me: Seriously, it's stuff like this that often divides new Dom3 players from experienced ones. Not a deep grasp of strategy and counters, but knowledge of all the ridiculous little ways the game screws you over.)
And here's their entire defensive force.
It takes my units a little bit to smash their way past the summoned skeletons, but once they do . . . well, it's over.
Take a minute to cheer here. I know you want to.
Okay, minute's over, we've got another war to win. No rest for the wicked or the elephantine.
We got Obscuro.
Now, first, let's deal with that research. I grab my Crystal Coins, hand them to Sibyls, and cast Mind Hunt.
This is one of those spells I've been working for for quite a while. Essentially, I can nuke enemy commanders from a distance. It's better against non-astral nations, and T'ien Ch'i has some Astral. The problem is that if I target a province with Astral mages, I have a good chance of my mage ending up Afflicted with Feeblemind, which essentially de-magifies them and makes them useless. The only solution is something that cures afflictions.
Wait, curing afflictions?
We can do that! Easily! There's no real downside to Mind Hunt for us - even if it's a bit risky, we can heal up our mages right quickly and get them Mind Hunting again.
With only Crystal Coins available, we can only get our Astral 3 Sibyls up to 4 in order to Mind Hunt. That gives us two Mind Hunts per turn, at the moment, but I'd love to increase that. The great part about Mind Hunt is that it hits them before they move, so if I manage to take out their commanders that lead forces, I can leave their forces spread out all along their reinforcement line.
We'll see how well that works.
A little earlier, in Evocation 5, we've got this rather deadly spell, which will let us put their archers to sleep en masse.
And back in Evocation 6, we've got this nasty thing. That's Fire 1 and Earth 3, but we've got a few Mystics who can pull it off.
(Future Me: Natch, I manage to avoid one of the most useful spells that we picked up.
You might recognize this spell: it's the same one that clobbered Agartha's pretender. It's extremely inaccurate, but horrifyingly powerful especially in bulk.)
So we've got a nice amount of magical power available to us now . . . if we can avoid getting completely overwhelmed by arrows.
I'd love to claim I had a good solution for those. I don't have a great solution, but I have a marginal solution in Conjuration.
This spell will drop a few decoys on the edges of the battlefield. The theory is that the T'ien Ch'i archers will go after them. Even if their archers don't, their melee might. Might work, might not, but Conjuration 5 also gets us further down the list into some other useful spells.
(Future Me: Huh. I completely forgot about this spell. Welp.)
This one, for example. If I can lock down T'ien Ch'is production, even a little bit, that will help magnificently.
So. Conjuration we go!
As per T'ien Ch'i . . .
If I lose either of those forts I'm in a really bad situation. Unfortunately there's no way for me to know which one he'll attack. I decide to keep the bulk of my forces in Carnag - either he'll attack Carnag and run into a difficult situation involving sieging, or I'll have my forces free to move around. With luck, some of his forces won't even get there, they'll be stuck in a province with no commander. That, I would greatly appreciate.
However, our Agartha force is done and free. They can't reach Carnag this turn, but they can reach Barra. I send the majority of them to Barra. I leave a small force in Agartha - it'll be reinforced by the units currently being recruited there, then sent west, both to confuse T'ien Ch'i and to capture those two neutral provinces. I can use the money. I can always use the money.
The death of Agartha means that all of Agartha's Dominion goes away, and so I also build a new temple in Agartha itself to push my dominion out rapidly.
As usual, it all hinges on the next few turns. I've been near-death for a disturbing amount of time, but I'm really hoping I can gain myself some breathing room in the near future.
God, you have no idea how much I'm hoping that.
Next: The siege begins, in the other direction.