Part 33: Turn 30: We are under siege in Barra and our walls are(Future Me: Dammit, I forgot to screenshot the messages screen and I missed saving the turn file again. Figures. I'm not going to forge one this time, you can just read stuff as it comes.
Haha, the turn title is even a direct quote from the messages screen which you can't see )
Conjuration is done. I'll go over magic in a bit.
Amazingly, we pick up another water site. We're just getting water sites coming out of our ears. This is a good thing: we can, and will, use them. We'll use them . . . next turn. How does that sound?
(Future Me: Christ, I was bad at screenshots this turn. There's a screenshot of us mind-hunting a commander here. Trust me! I guess you'll just have to wait to see what a successful mind hunt looks like)
A bit of slightly bad luck: David Lo-Pan is their prophet, and prophets tend to come with impressive magic resistance. On the other hand, we killed a commander, and there's nothing to stop us from killing more.
The Imprisoned pretenders are starting to wake up. If we'd done that with Mrs. Butterworth we would have been waiting a long time indeed for our pretender to show up. To the best of my knowledge, nobody has a comprehensive guide to what the honorifics mean, but Lord of all Sources of Water presumably means that he's a strong Water mage. That's appropriate for a bless strategy - both Gath and Mictlan have strong water pretenders, and are almost certainly imprisoned. Sure enough, checking the Pretenders tells us that he's Mictlan's Pretender God.
Battles. By now you might be able to guess what happens in Storn Woods, home of the Recurring Abysian Slaughter. This time Abysia's army consists almost entirely of independent troops, light infantry and the like, and . . . it's not much of a fight.
Here's the T'ien Ch'i army currently opposing me. I'm not gonna lie. That's a shitload of troops compared to what I can field. They pretty much walk over my province defense, but not before showing me what kind of damage they'll do to my troops. Answer: Heavy, but survivable for a few turns. If my plan works - and I've got a plan, we'll be talking about that soon - those few turns are all I'll need.
Their cavalry is set to charge past my units and into the rear line. I'll have to remember that.
Haven't seen this for a while, have we? The liberation of Anvast goes as planned.
I'm going to admit something here. For the last turn or two, I've felt that my position was completely untenable. Thanks to the catastrophe at Agartha I simply don't have the troops to go up against T'ien Ch'i and win, and without defending those castles, I don't have the productivity to outproduce them and win. My troops are resource-heavy as hell, and I simply don't have a way to make them in bulk. That's a bad scene, and it ain't getting better. My entire idea was to attrition them from a distance with Mind Burn while hoping they fucked up royally. The only reason I haven't gone AI is because I hate giving up - you never know what you can pull out of your hat, and you never know how much you can fuck over your attacker.
We probably wouldn't be in this situation now if Agartha had gone AI, for example. But that's a pyrrhic failure at best. Without a good plan, I was fucked.
I've got a Plan now.
A risky plan, based around a game mechanic that I'm unfamiliar with, and one that even experienced players fuck up constantly. But it's a plan, and it's a plan that makes great use of Arco's strengths. I was going to do this someday. I guess I'm doing it now.
Let's Learn About The Game: Communions
I've mentioned communions once or twice offhandedly, but it's time to talk about them seriously.
Communions are based around two spells (alright, four - there's a pair of Astral spells and a pair of Blood spells - but they work identically.) Communion Master and Communion Slave. The Masters of a communion gain a number of spell levels, in all paths, equal to the base-2 logarithm of the Slaves. 2 slaves, one magic level. 4 slaves, two magic levels. 32 slaves, five magic levels. It's worth pointing out that you can - and often should - have multiple Masters. Also, Fatigue generated by the Masters is divided up and spread among slaves. This is one of the ways you're intended to cast super-powerful battle spells - instead of carrying a pile of horrifyingly-expensive casters into battle and hoping nothing goes wrong, you bring a small horde of relatively cheap mages and a few somewhat more powerful casters.
One potential problem is that Fatigue thing. I've already mentioned that at 100 Fatigue units fall unconscious. At 200, however, they start taking damage - and your Communion Masters won't stop casting if their slaves are unconsious. Plus, once your first slaves start dying, that just focuses more Fatigue on the rest of the communion. That can turn ugly real fast.
There are advantages besides super-powerful spells, however. For one thing, any self-buff that a Communion Master casts is mirrored by every single Communion Slave. Even if the self-buff takes gems, you only need to spend those gems once for any number of slaves. Additionally, if a Communion Master hasn't cast anything yet by the Slave's turn, the Slave can still cast. You can tell what order things will happen in by the order in your Army Setup screen - mages at the top go before mages at the bottom - but you can't actually change this order, it's determined entirely by the game's unit IDs.
Rigging up a communion with masters that do nothing more than provide buffs is called a "reverse communion". This is one reason communions are so annoying - the entire nature of a communion can change, based on nothing more than the internal unit IDs of your commanders.
We're going to use communions. And it's either going to be glorious, or it's going to be a catastrophe.
First: We want Obscuro involved. I've mentioned how Arrow Fend - a stunning 80% arrow resistance - is way the fuck down at Enchantment 6, and that just isn't happening. However, there's a similar spell called Storm located at Evocation 5, and we've already got that. It takes Air 4 instead of Air 3, and Obscuro's only 2 . . . but that just means we need four communion slaves, and we've got it.
We're planning to have a lot more than four communion slaves. We need magical firepower to pull this thing off.
Unfortunately, when I hired Obscuro, I hired him in Arco, thinking that I could use a spell called Cloud Trapeze to warp him up to the front lines. Turns out Cloud Trapeze is Enchantment 4, which we don't have . . . but we can just barely eke out the RP to get it next turn. Seriously, I can pull out exactly 320rp, and that's what we need. Someone up there is smiling upon is.
"Next turn" is important.
You see, this turn, I need to forge a Crystal Matrix. The Communion spells are Astral and Blood, and Obscuro has neither of those - he's entirely Air. A Crystal Matrix will let him lead a Communion despite that. Next turn I can hand the Crystal Matrix to him (losing it forever - mercenaries never give up their magical equipment) and get him to Cloud Trapeze over to Cun Aral, just south of Barra. The turn after that I can reclaim Barra.
Remember that annoying Defense number that I couldn't see in Agartha? When it's your fortress, you can see it. They've done about 75 damage to it this turn, and they've got another force of 60 units moving in to help. So:
Turn 31: Defence reduced to about 135, Obscuro set to teleport
Turn 32: Defence reduced to 0, army collecting next-door to Barra
Turn 33: They siege Barra at the same time I'm able to defend it.
Very fucking tight.
But it should be doable. All my forces in Carnag, Jome, and Agartha can reach Cun Aral in one turn, allowing me to lay out my battle plans in detail that turn, and jump Barra the next turn.
So, let's look at some orders.
I haven't posted a unit list in a while, but here's what my capital looks like right now. I've got a lot of Sibyls. Some of them are using the magic boosters I forged - each one of those is +1 RP, and yes, I literally have exactly enough RP, those turn out to be critical. I have two Mind Hunts going on the forces in Sermioc. I'd like to hold off their reinforcements if at all possible.
I'd love to move some Sibyls up into battle, but unfortunately I can't spare the research.
Over in Carnag I found one of the worst mystics I have (one astral, one earth - exactly what I need, and only generating 4 RP otherwise) and told him to forge a Crystal Matrix, with hammer. This is what Obscuro will be getting.
My elephant team is sent to Cun Aral in advance. It's possible T'ien Ch'i will try to send a group of attackers to take it - I'll have to make sure all my forces are set to their battle orders before they gather next turn. I'll have a reasonable fighting chance. Meanwhile, I do send the small elephant/hypaspist team west from Agartha. I need that extra money, and I doubt those forces will make a lot of a difference. I also dispatch all the non-magic military units from Carnag and Agartha, just to hold Cun Aral, and because they're not doing a whole lot useful where they are.
(Cun Aral has 263 supplies. Whew, no starvation problems.)
Some of my slower forces won't be able to make it quite as quickly. I've got a large number of Hoplites, and my Cave Drake bumming around in Carnag. That guy will come in handy. They head to Golem Range, right at the intersection of Barra and Carnag, and will follow up to Cun Aral next turn. Similarly, the group of Hoplites that just finished traveling from Arco to Jome moves to Anvast - next turn they can move to Cun Aral and join the fray.
My mages stay right where they are. I'm going to be throwing nearly all my Mystics into the battle, as well as both my remaining combat Sibyls stuck in Barra. (Unfortunate placement there, as I'd really love to be able to plan them better, but I'm pretty sure they'll be near the top of the movement order.)
I can't recruit in Barra, but I can recruit in all my other cities. I recruit mostly Hypaspists and also a few Strategos, the military commander that gives a morale boost. They can't hurt, and they might help significantly - I'll mix them in with the front-line troops and hope they manage to avoid firepower.
Agartha is down to zero unrest, and cheerfully churning out almost 300 gold per turn. I'm still nearly broke at the end of my turn, but that's nearly broke after recruiting four entire cities full of troops. This, I can live with.
Here's all the important orders. Let's do this, and hope nothing goes wrong.
Oh by the way I finally found Ulm's capital. See it? Way the fuck up there in the top-right.
Next: Defence reduced to about 135, Obscuro set to teleport.