Part 34: Turn 30 RetrospectiveKind of unfortunate timing that I'm doing this right after a major shift in plans, isn't it? I'll have to describe this without spoiling those plans. So I'm just gonna ignore those plans entirely for a bit.
So, what was I doing wrong in my last plan? I wasn't relying enough on magical firepower, for one. That battle at Agartha should've shown me that mages are starting to become a formidable force, and I should be having a lot of mages here. Even now I'm recruiting Strategoses for some reason while I should be plowing that all into Mystics. Mages are good! I should have a lot of them!
And speaking of magic, my research right now is all over the place. I'm putting more in Conjuration largely because I think more big magic troops sound useful, but I don't have any particular magic troop in mind. If I want my mages to be stronger I should probably be driving into Evocation. Getting Mind Hunt was fantastic, and I've got a good excuse for this turn's research - that critical Cloud Trapeze spell to get Obscuro in - but beyond that I should have a good plan, and I really fundamentally don't.
I'm also still hiring a significant number of elephants. Elephants, while totally awesome against independents and pretty strong against low-magic forces, are starting to get quite weak. They just don't do enough unless you happen to have already won the battle.
Now, things I'm doing well? Y'know, I'm still kind of feeling smug about that Crystal Matrix/Obscuro/Storm combo. That was probably the first truly clever thing I did in this game - everything up to now has come down to "drop a lot of elephants on its head", and this is me figuring out my strengths and putting them to what I think will be good use.
I'm doing a reasonably good job of keeping tabs on my neighbors, also - I know C'tis, at the very least, has no interest in fighting me, and I'm pretty sure I have a reasonable grasp on what everyone adjacent to me and quite a few people not adjacent to me are doing. I think I've found most (if not all) of the enemy capitals by now as well. I've stopped producing scouts, as I need the cash, but I can start up again pretty damn fast if necessary.
And finally, I know some people are skeptical about how doomed I was feeling, but there's two important things that I never really mention. First, remember that I was looking at using an army that would take three or four turns just to reach their archers and I'd be taking a shitload of damage before I got there. I really just hadn't realized, hey, mages are good at this point.
Second, there's this spell called Flaming Arrows. Flaming Arrows is a superbly powerful spell that is available surprisingly early. It takes a strong archer army and makes it nigh-invincible, vastly increasing its damage output. You need a reasonably hefty amount of Fire to cast it, but if you can cast it, it's a really, really good strategy.
I honestly don't know what happened here. I remember looking up T'ien Ch'i's stats and observing that they had easily enough Fire to pull it off. Except it turns out they don't. They don't have any Fire access. So I'm expecting them to pull Flaming Arrows out of their hat any turn now, since obviously that's what I'd be aiming for ASAP if I were them, and that will turn their moderately damaging arrow barrage into a hellstorm of death that really would be a serious, serious issue for me. The only realistic defense is Arrow Fend, with Storm being kind of a nice fallback.
But I'm working up a defense for something that doesn't exist. So . . . accurate knowledge of the dudes you're fighting is really important!
. . . In retrospect, and I'm literally just thinking about this, this point in the game was also about when I was getting a new girlfriend, so that may have helped lift my spirits a bit as well