Part 35: Turn 31: The mental attack on Fei Lian was successful.
Enchantment 4, on-schedule. (Future Me: And Enchantment 2 and 3, as well.)
Here's a little nicety of Mind Hunt that works well for us. It works based on magic resistance, which means that mage commanders are less likely to get hurt by it than war commanders. War commanders, however, have vastly higher Leadership, and generally that's where units are attached. I'm guessing, judging from the results and the fact that there's a pile of infantry still bumming around in Sermioc north of our poor sieged fort, that we just assassinated the commander in charge of moving their forces.
That was the goal. I'm totally fine with this. Would've been nice to kill the mage also, but, y'know, whatever. I'm not greedy. That's a complete lie.
Unfortunate: this is 33 unrest, or enough for me to spend an entire turn at zero income to reduce the unrest. 300 gold gone. Ugh.
I don't know what witch is trooping around near Arco ineffectually cursing nonexistent troops, but she's getting on my nerves a bit.
(Future Me: Seriously, anyone want to count how many times this witch has shown up and failed to do anything of note? I think it's a lot by now, and I know this isn't the last time either.)
C'tis is tired of being pushed around by Gath.
Gath doesn't have much to object with.
C'tis loses half a dozen Tomb Chariots, neatly demonstrating how flimsy they are. Gath crumbles before the remaining hundred or so.
Gath's army has moved back to Werk Enum, the same province that Fluffy Bunnies defended successfully last time.
No bunnies this time, but there is a huge, huge war force. Yeah, that's right, C'tis has two armies.
The problem is that this army is full of relatively weak units. I just watched that front face of C'tis's militia all attack simultaneously, doing, quite literally, zero damage.
A turn or two later and that militia brigade is cut down to half its size, and attempting to flee. It can't, because there's an army in the way, but it's trying.
It quickly doesn't need to flee, because it's dead.
It goes better once the heavily-armored City Guard shows up, but not all that much better. The C'tis armies are no longer dying in droves, they're just . . . not doing anything useful. Every turn they slaughter a few Pegasus and beat ineffectually on the Gath giants. They kill the Pegasuses off soon enough, but end up effectively useless against the giants.
Soon enough, they rout. Gath is weakened a bit, but not by much. C'tis will need heavier armaments to kill their forces, and I'm not sure where C'tis can get heavier armaments.
In Storn Woods, Abysia attacks Mictlan, again, this time with some heavy infantry. We all know what happens there.
But there's a second battle that promises to be more interesting.
Mictlan storming Abysia's castle.
Did I say "promises to be more interesting"? I meant "isn't interesting". Abysia has no commander in their castle because it just suicided against the forces outside the castle, so the remaining troops rout instantly, and Mictlan seizes the castle.
Man, the AI is bad.
Also, we lost a scout that was checking out a C'tis fort. I hope he doesn't take it personally, although, even if he does, it's not like he's able to do anything about it right now.
So, our priorities:
* Assemble our war party. We bought ourselves an extra turn by killing the commander of that squad, but there's no point in waiting. Let's strike while we can.
* Stop reinforcements from reaching T'ien Ch'i's front forces.
* Seize undefended or neutral land.
* Cripple T'ien Ch'i's production as much as possible.
* Hear the lamentations of their women.
* Build our economy.
Let's skip the war party for now. The marooned forces at Sermioc are most likely stopped for a turn or two - we're just not going to worry about them. Just north of that, at Behemoth's Rest, is a group of cavalry. We'd like it if they stopped approaching also, so we'll target them for the next Mind Hunt combo.
(Future Me: It's worth pointing out that I'm calling Behemoth's Rest "north" of Sermioc, while in reality it's more like northwest. It may not be clear from the map but you can actually reach T'ien Ch'i's southern fort in a mere two moves from my sieged fort by going directly north. As usual, the Dom3 map is misleading.)
Our small war party in the southwest attacks the Ronin.
Let's talk about research.
We're at Conjuration 4. Conjuration 5 gives us Monster Boar, a remote attack spell that will let us fuck with T'ien Ch'i heavily and, incidentally, burn through our hilarious excess of nature gems. If we do want more air mages, Conjuration 8 - ouch - will let us summon Faery Queens, which give us Nature and Air. If we had those, we'd pretty much stomp T'ien Ch'i effortlessly. On the other hand, Conjuration 8.
We've only got Alteration 3. Alteration 5 gives us a rather nice remote-attack Astral spell, as well as a powerful Nature gem generator. Alteration 9 contains Wish, one of the near-game-ending spells, but it requires Astral 9 and that will . . . take some work, let's say. There are four boosters available, which would let one of our better Sibyls (or Mrs. Butterworth) up to Astral 7, but then I'd really just have to burn a pile of spells on Empowerment. Not worrying about that right now - especially since the boosters require Construction 6.
We're all the way up at Evocation 6. There's surprisingly little left useful. At Evocation 7, Nether Darts is a powerful attack spell that many of my Sibyls can use, and Evocation 9 gives us Strands of Arcane Power, a global enchant that will root out magic sites within our dominion easily. I'd rather like Strands . . . but people can dispel it, and it's goddamn expensive, both to cast, and to research to. Since I don't have any Sibyls on the front-line for Nether Darts, I'm not bothering.
(Future Me: In retrospect, I have no idea if Strands of Arcane Power is actually any good. The wiki really doesn't explain the mechanics behind it. Additionally, I'm completely missing Pillar of Fire, which is a quite-nice attack spell at Evocation 8 for my Fire mystics.)
Construction 4 gives us some nice magic artifacts. Construction 6 gives us many more nice magic artifacts. It's of questionable use since there's nothing we really need in there yet, though we'll need it for many more powerful spells in the future.
Enchantment 4 is our current position. Enchantment 6 gives us Arrow Fend. I'd prefer that over Storm, for several reasons - it's friendlier to fire magic and it's just plain more effective. (Future Me: And it doesn't come with a massive Precision reduction.) Unfortunately I still only have one mage capable of casting air magic. Enchantment 9 gives us another endgame spell, Arcane Nexus, that would increase our Astral gem production enormously. Slightly more immediately, Stellar Focus would give us five astral gems per turn, at a mere Enchantment 7.
Finally, Thaumaturgy is at a rather ridiculous 2. Teleport at 3 would let us move some Sibyls up to the battle lines ASAP, Paralyze at 4 would be fantastic for taking down single heavy units, and Soul Slay at 5 would be a significant upgrade to our Mind Hunt ability for those same heavy units.
Oh and there's Blood Magic but we're not using Blood Magic.
My decision is to snatch Thaumaturgy 3 and then focus on Conjuration. We'll actually pick up Conjuration 5 on the same turn for the Monster Boar, but I wouldn't mind rushing to Conjuration 8 for the Faery Queen - or at least, getting much closer to it. Call it an investment. If we start seeing big heavy units, spending a turn moving Thaumaturgy up to 4 or 5 won't be too bad, but right now we just don't have any good use for it.
Economy! We need more site-searching - we've been slacking. I target a slightly unnaturally Cold province with a water search spell. It's probably just winter, but it might be a Water site in the same way that Death indicates a Death site. We start our Fire searching back up as well - we've got that lone Mystic bumming around at Arco, we may as well make use of him. And we start up three more Sibyls scanning for Death sites. Finally, our gem economy's getting back into shape.
I start moving Mystics. Turns out we're not going to get both Conj5 and Thaum3 this turn. Let's focus on Conj5 instead, and then grab Thaum3. I want to burn some of these nature gems.
I also pass the hammer back to Mrs. Butterworth and start forging a new magic item. This is arguably one of the more overpowered items in the game, and we're going to be making a lot of them now that my water gem economy is finally going. With the Hammer, each one will cost me 11 Water gems and 3 Nature gems, meaning it pays for itself quite quickly - especially so if we find good uses for Astral gems. And there's always good uses for Astral gems, while I'm not sure I have much at all to do with Water gems.
Besides clams, that is. Which is why all those water sites recently were so exciting - now I can clam my face off for a bit.
Setting up units takes a while.
Before I continue, realize that I don't actually expect a battle next turn. I'm jumping into my staging ground - the real battle is next turn. If I do get a battle, I don't think it will be a large one. Honestly, I just don't expect one. But it's better to be prepared than not to be.
There's a few major roles in the battle, which I'll go over shortly.
Obscuro will be Cloud Trapezing in. I'm rather unhappy about him, since I wasn't able to build a bow in time. He's going to be casting Phantasmal Warrior just for laughs (he has to wait a turn for the communion to form, and he may as well cast something useful), followed by the powerful Storm spell. He'll be waiting three turns and then trying to wade into melee. Why melee? Because I have two alternatives: run away, which would leave him out of range of helping with the all-important siege next turn, or Cast Spells, which effectively locks down everyone else in the communion from casting anything. Not my goal. I don't know if this is a guaranteed thing with mercenaries, but he's very, very far up in the turn order. I'm praying he doesn't get himself killed.
Selepos is a mystic coming from Jome. He's notable in exactly one way: he's very far down on the turn order. He'll be casting Communion Master, followed by a pair of critical buffs: Power of the Spheres and Personal Luck. Power of the Spheres is a buff that increases all spell levels by one, and as a Communion Master, everyone in the communion will get it. Personal Luck is the 50%-chance-to-be-missed-by-anything spell, and again, everyone in the communion will get it. He then settles down to casting Stellar Cascades, largely because I have nothing better to do with him - he won't be catching the Summon Earthpower, as only Communion Slaves get buffs passed down, and so he won't have access to the big attack spells I want to use.
Kaukones is one of my very early mystics, coming from Carnag, complete with Earth magic. It's difficult to tell where he is on the turn order, so I'm assuming the worst. His job is to cast Communion Master, Summon Earthpower, hold three turns, and attack melee, for similar reasons to Obscuro. Summon Earthpower does two great things: it boosts Earth magic by 1 and provides a small amount of Reinvigoration, which reduces fatigue constantly over the battle. Pretty classy.
Laerkes is an otherwise-uninteresting mystic with Earth magic. I place him just a little behind the battle lines and script him to cast Legions of Steel. That should provide my front-line infantry with a little extra protection from the incoming arrow storm. With luck Laerkes himself won't get nuked by those very same arrows.
My two Strategos are set to stay reasonably far up, hold position for a bit, and then Stay Behind Troops. They're really just there to provide their Standard morale boost ability.
The rest of my units are divided based on magic paths.
Any mystic with Earth has Communion Slave, Gifts from Heavenx4, and Spells. Gifts from Heaven is the superpowerful spell that Agartha killed their own Pretender God with. Conveniently, I can cast it very easily in this communion. It requires Earth 3 and Astral 1. All of my Mystics have Astral 1, and all I need is Earth 1 plus Earthpower plus Power of the Spheres and that's enough firepower to pull it off. It should knock huge holes in the T'ien Ch'i forces.
Mystics without Earth, but with Water, are set to communionize and then spam Cold Bolt. It's a long-range precise attack that won't be quite as devastating as Gifts from Heaven but should do quite some damage anyway. (Future Me: Actually, it won't be anywhere near as devastating. I should probably have had these guys doing Stellar Cascades, in retrospect.)
That actually covers everyone except two. I've got a F2S1 Mystic who's set to cast Falling Fires, an AoE spell. He's not going to be of great use because the Storm spell makes Fire suck quite a bit. Meanwhile, I've got an F1S2 Mystic who's set to cast Astral Fires, a similar spell that is considered Astral instead of Fire.
My elephants, along with Hypaspist escort, are divided into two groups on the flanks. The Cave Drake is sitting dead-center, along with a whole pile of Hoplites, with Cerulean Warriors right behind them. My mages are set a little front of the back line, with the most important ones on the edges, and there's a small group of Hoplites in the very back, hoping to catch any archers set to Attack Rear.
I look everything over half a dozen times to make sure I'm not fucking anything up. This is nontrivial because my army is currently spread across seven provinces.
I think it's good.
Let's give it a shot. What's the worst that could happen?
Next: Defence reduced to
0 about 100, army collecting next-door to Barra