Part 54: Turn 47: The Race for T'ien Ch'i
Also, I see no particular reason to give you clams.
If I was a douche, I'd cheerfully accept, then take the raw materials and never send him a clam. But I'm not.
Well, okay, that's a lie, but I'm not going to do that anyway.
They do complete our trade, however. Thanks, Gath! Thath.
No new magic sites.
Well that could have gone better.
Additionally, Hekabe was my Arcane 4 Sibyl, who I had target a "safe location". Guess that didn't work, did it? Time to start the healing process.
I know I'm harping on this a lot, but as anyone besides Arco, this would be a catastrophe. For Arco, it's a mild annoyance, and is not - in any way - going to prevent me from continuing Mind Hunting if I think I have a good target.
I set two Priestesses to Heal, taking off their Lanterns at the same time. Each one has a 25% chance of healing each Feeblemind. We'll see if I get lucky.
Well that's actually pretty convenient. Hesperia is the province north of Jome, poking into the Midgard/C'tis war. Hopefully that will further discourage them from jumping me.
And a whole pile of battles. Let's take this from the top.
Sleepy Wolds: T'ien Ch'i's Eastern fort, defended by a whole pile of province defense.
The first thing I do is look over the Gath forces carefully. They don't have any Astral. None at all. Hmmmmmm. Are you thinking what I'm thinking? It starts with "mind" and ends with "hunt".
It's not as easy as you'd hope, though. Mind Hunt doesn't do damage directly, it relies on one of two spells that you also must research - Mind Burn and Soul Slay. Soul Slay is pretty much an instant kill (999 damage), but Mind Burn is a mere 15 or so. It's enough to one-shot mages and human commanders, but giants will just shrug it off. I need Soul Slay to actually take out Gath's commanders, and that's at Thaumaturgy 5. We're only at 3. We'll have to focus on this if we plan to go to war with Gath.
Luckily, that's only 420 RP, and we're plowing out over 500 per turn at this point. In fact, as it stands, Conjuration 9 will just barely take two turns - 615 RP - and stopping off to get Thaumaturgy 5 next turn won't actually slow it down at all.
Anyway, back to the battle itself.
Gath's got his commanders loaded up with some magic gear. Mordechai's wearing a Dragon Helmet, which is a large boost to morale and provides extra fire resistance. He's also got a Cauldron of Broth, equivalent to two of my winebags, but less gem-efficient (and less amusing.) Ulkan's carrying a Crystal Shield, which gives the same +1-to-all-path effect as my Power of the Spheres, only without costing a gem.
None of these are terribly pricey items, but Mind Hunt will neatly obliterate them if it kills the wearer. That would amuse me greatly. We'll keep this target in mind.
T'ien Ch'i's province defense really doesn't stand a chance. The giants all carry shields and simply have a large number of hit points - each one is a mini-elephant without the trampling.
I think a few of them may have died, but certainly not many.
And that's the end of it.
In Birman Heights, just west of Sleepy Wolds, Gath has a trick up their sleeve.
Meet "The Forge's Fire", one of Gath's Hashmals. They're quite dangerous creatures, with a fire aura, naturally Ethereal, flying, fire immune, and heavily shock resistant. Ethereal, as I've mentioned, makes it very hard for non-magic attacks to hit. The Fire Aura causes heavy return damage in melee. They also have strong Awe, an ability that forces any melee attacker to make a Morale check just to attack.
Gath is attacking T'ien Ch'i's Mage army with this unit.
Do you see the problem here?
Hashmal is an absolutely devastating melee attacker, but against magicians, he's pretty much chopped liver. He's got an Amulet of Antimagic to help, but surprisingly, there's a large number of spells in Dominions that don't pay attention to magic resistance.
Sure enough, on the second turn the Hashmal flies in, mildly singes a Horseman's ass, and gets cut down by Frozen Heart spam.
Checking its info yields no line talking about magic resistance, and the Hashmal takes full damage against cold. Bye-bye, Hashmal. That was a bit of an expensive mistake, wasn't it, Gath?
This is why that army scares me.
Kratas, the province east of Black Alps. This is the one that Gath grabbed, leaving me grumbling a bit.
Look at these forces. I assume I don't need to tell you the result of this fight. In fact, that PD is small enough that I bet I could even kill it with a swarm of angry dragonflies
Oh hey, look at that.
Most of Gath's PD routs from a swarm of angry dragonflies. Shortly afterwards, their priestess gets devoured by a tiger.
No, seriously. You think I could make this up?
The PD commander flees a turn or two later, though not before slaying the tiger.
Saeborea, deep inside C'tis's old empire. A Midgard squad attempts to reclaim some of the wartorn territory.
See those little green spheres? Those are actually interesting.
Speedy little fuckers - look at that Defence Skill. Thanks to the battle AI's tendency to rush for whoever happens to be nearby, these can be valuable distractions for small-to-medium-sized armies. (Large armies tend to just kill them.)
Sure enough, all the Skinshifters run south and ineffectively beat on the candle. With an Attack Skill of 13 they've got an extremely low chance of actually hitting, and the Corpse Candle is Ethereal to make it even worse.
Once they do kill it, more have closed in. The Skinshifters spend pretty much the entire first half of the battle whiffing at corpse candles, and the entire second half of the battle getting obliterated by a storm of angry skeletons.
You may have noticed that battles are getting more interesting - we're past the point where battles consist of "we had a lot of elephants and we flattened them". Magic is dominating the battlefield, and that will just get stronger as the game goes on.
In Azimar, we had a lot of mages and we flattened them.
In Ferran Mountains, east of Azimar, we had a lot of mages and we flattened them.
yes okay shut up
We also snag more water gems in Ferran. We're up to +20 Water per turn, and if we don't count our Clam army, we're not breaking +9 in any other gem type. I am fucking swimming in Water gems.
ha ha, get it
In Tenvir, another Old C'tis territory, a single Midgard priest tries to hold off an advancing wall of C'tis chariots.
I don't think this is going to work.
Forest of Gun, still in C'tis space. Midgard and C'tis are pretty much just trading territories. It's pretty damn uninteresting.
If we want interesting, we want castle sieges.
What the hell, guys.
I'm pretty sure this was meant to be a scout attack, but it's a scout attack against a nigh-undefended castle. Man's lone scout flees immediately while Pythium puts up a fire shield. Alright then. I guess we'll see Pythium's forces absolutely crushed next turn.
T'ien Ch'i has, indeed, put up a second castle in Boddern Weald, north of Azimar. Sigh.
Let's talk about information leaking and confusion.
went ai in newlate goons, enjoy fighthing gath who will have my cap next turn.
Another quote from T'ien Ch'i over AIM. This was about two turns ago. Obviously something went wrong - I don't pretend to know what - but Gath's main army is looking at several turns to hit T'ien Ch'i's capital, even if they decided to abandon the fort they're sieging, even if they manage to break through T'ien Ch'i's mage army.
I actually have no idea what T'ien Ch'i is doing with that mage army. It's just sitting there.
In any case, T'ien Ch'i's previous comments about forts is sort of right - that castle will slow me down - except I plan to completely ignore it. That's right. I'm just going to run right over it and keep going. There's nothing that says you have to capture a castle before moving on, and these castles will just take too long to bother with right now.
Additionally, I don't even need to touch the castle. There's an independent province right there, and I can take a shortcut through that (it's not like the indies will be a problem.)
Even better, though, the provinces are set up so that I can take a swath of two provinces wide up to T'ien Ch'i's capital, or re-merge my forces at literally any point up to that. If all goes according to plan, in four turns I'll be sitting on their capital - and Gath, at best, can reach there in three turns. I may simply be able to beat them to it.
I leave a scout to siege the castle while I'm gone. I also redirect a chunk of my Sermioc anti-siege force to the west, along with the seven Mystics that have been recruited so far and all the Hoplites I can muster. I may end up having to break the PD around that castle again, but the AI uses very little - it should crumble easily. Another four Mystics move up from Agartha - I almost have enough forces for a third communion squad already.
Kishia, the lone T'ien Ch'i province in the middle of this area, is just going to stay T'ien Ch'i for now. I don't have enough army to crack what the player left. I'll deal with it later, but I'll surround it with 11 PD, which should be easily enough to break any AI attack force that they could muster in that single province.
Hey look at that. It's Late Winter, AKA "the turn all your old mages start dying". I'll load them up with Lanterns because it really doesn't matter anymore if they get horror marked - admittedly, I'm doing that anyway because I just have too many lanterns. It'll be sad when they all go away, but that's half a dozen turns from now. I pile lanterns on them all and oh hey look at that
If I can squeeze out another 9 RP somewhere, I can get Conjuration this turn. That might be worth doing. On the other hand, I'm currently not too worried about T'ien's mage army - they're fighting Gath, mostly. I've got three hammers and a pile of Water Gems. Let's do something with them. Easy enough: two Clams and some magic boots. That brings my RP down to 578. Guess I'm not getting Conjuration 9 next turn after all.
That's OK. We got time. Two turns.
Recruitment: Sorceress, Sage, Sibyl, two Mystics, pile of Hoplites and Hypaspists, a few Scouts. Nothing special. Our income has cracked 3000, but our upkeep is keeping steady pace at about half that. I hear this is really high, but, well, that's what happens when you have a shitload of mages and combat units.
Well that's a lot of arrows, isn't it?
In the west you can see my rapid push into T'ien Ch'i territory. There's a squad of Mystics and Peltasts gathering in Ferran Mountains, the Hoplites in Carnag are starting the trip up to Azimar, and the Agarthan Mystics are trooping up to join in ASAP.
In the east, there's a little scout movement. I have one squad hitting Blue Water, the northern lake, and another heading east to snag Vlecz, southeast of Midgard's castle. The two will presumably pincer Linshire, the castle itself, next turn.
I'll get Soul Slay next turn, allowing me to Mind Hunt the Gath commanders and increasing effectiveness markedly against non-Gath commanders.
I check the gem reserves on my war parties. We'll have barely enough to hit all the provinces I need. I may end up teleporting a Sibyl in as a gem resupply station. I'm burning quite a few Air gems, slightly faster than I can actually replenish my stock, which is a problem. Unfortunately, sitesearching will take even more Air gems that I just can't afford right now. I may end up doing a lot of alchemy. Or, possibly, just going up against someone who doesn't make heavy use of archery. That would work as well.
I really want to have a steady supply of them by the time I'm tangling with Ulm, but chances are good I'll end up capturing some Air sites before I meet up with them, so I'm not all that worried.
Next: What would I do if I had a million dollars? I'll tell you what I'd do, man. Four provinces at the same time, man.