Part 60: Turn 52: Scrambling For Power
3/5 ain't bad. If they tried to move, then that will have caused major problems with their troop movement.
Yay, we got one! We'll come back to this.
That's a bit of a problem.
The Well of Misery is a very powerful global enchant. For one thing, it increases everyone's income by 10%. More importantly, the casting nation gains 21 death gems per turn. That's a whole pile of death gems, and I'm not sure I want Ulm having that kind of power.
That may have to go down - and soon. I do have a pile of astral gems bumming around, I might just spend them on knocking that thing over.
The "group of visiting heroes" is . . . nasty. I'll show them to you a bit later.
Azimar is one of the forts I'm currently sieging. I didn't realize I could still get random events. Pity, because I'll have to rebuild that lab - at this point there's no T'ien Ch'i forces inside Azimar that could do it for me.
My first few horror-marked mages got renamed to Horror Fodder before I realized that having a bunch of identically-named mages might get confusing - now I just prefix their names with "H". This is actually the first horror I've gotten attacked by. Let's see how it goes.
Here's a Horror. Nasty little bugger. Amphibious, Flying, Ethereal, full Darkvision, and a hefty Fear. Horror attacks, like all assassinations, aren't considered to take place "in" a province - they sort of exist outside the map - and so if a unit routs, they die, as they're not adjacent to any friendly provinces.
His attacks will heal him while applying more horror marks. I know it says "damage 0", but remember his strength is added to that. That's not a lot of damage, but it adds up quickly.
He's fighting the Worst Mystic Ever, who has two points in Astral, nothing else, and is configured to act as a communion slave. So he's casting Communion Slave, then waiting a turn for the communion to really start up, then firing off a bunch of spells.
He's instantly slain by the Lesser Horror.
I'm not expecting to ever survive a Horror attack. They're certainly killable by powerful combatants, but my mages are easy prey.
I won't go into detail on those battles in the future, unless there's a really good reason for it.
Our invasion force weathers a small attack from inside T'ien Ch'i's fortress.
The first attackers are rapidly slain. The swarm of skeletons goes down quickly afterwards. I manage to kill their immortal hero again.
Curiously, he's got Disease, and started the battle at one hit point. In theory, next turn he would have died of somewhat-natural causes. What will happen? Does he resurrect at full? Will the disease go away? We'll see if he's still alive when we break the fort down, I suppose.
In Birman Heights, Gath tries to break T'ien Ch'i's mage army. Now, this army is a lot smaller than it used to be - T'ien Ch'i has, for some reason, been shifting units out of it. Still, by my count it's 22 mages, which is still a significant number of mages. Most of the mages are all clustered in the middle of the PD, which is not the best defensive lineup, but certainly won't hurt their offensive power.
Gath's army moves forward, weathering a truly impressive multicolored magical barrage. There's at least ten different spells being used.
The sheer quantity cuts down Gath's army surprisingly fast.
T'ien Ch'i rapidly slaughters the Gath giants with Frozen Heart, a spell that they're getting a lot of mileage out. It's a damn good spell - infinite precision, not resistable by magic, cold damage, only requires one water magic to cast. Gath's giants are partially immune to fire but take full damage from cold.
Gath routs with the meager remnants of their force.
I am staying the fuck away from that province for a while.
In Boddern Weald, I kill off the defenses easily. A badly-aimed lightning bolt accounts for 3/4 of my casualties. Overkill: when friendly fire is a bigger threat than the enemy is. We'll be catching whatever comes out of the fort next turn.
Ogh Woods gives us a battle between Ulm and Jomon's province defense. Ulm wins easily, but we get some nice intel.
This would be one of the units that Jomon was complaining about. He's well-equipped and reasonably strong. Let's go over his gear real fast.
Shadow Brand: Gives good AoE damage whenever he attacks.
Vine Shield: anything that attacks him is grabbed by vines and held in place, preventing them from doing much of anything until they can make a strength check.
Horror Helm: causes nearby enemy troops to flee far more rapidly than otherwise.
Chainmail of Displacement: Light and strong armor that increases defense as well as protection (this is rare, usually armor *decreases* defense thanks to its bulk.)
Boots of Quickness: Doubles the number of melee attacks per turn.
Pendant of Luck: Grants Luck.
Ring of Regeneration: Grants Regeneration.
Right now I'm wishing I had some good magic penetration items, because a few Mind Hunts in that area would neatly kill that thug. Not a huge loss, but it would slow them down a bit. With Magic Resistance of 17, the chance of me succeeding is low, however.
On the other hand, it'd be a bad idea to dispel and mind hunt. Please pay no attention to the heavily-astral nation in the corner.
Gath attacks C'tis in Banded Hills. C'tis's army may look larger, but it's mostly cheap chaff that gets cut down nigh-instantly. Gath carries the field with few, if any, casualties, and finally manages to secure C'tis's western castle for good.
Ferran Mountains is absolutely reamed by a group of "traveling heroes".
This is a group of extremely powerful warriors that shows up randomly and wreaks havoc. I've heard that they're built after a D&D party that the main developer was a member of. They come with reasonably powerful gear, some pieces of which are actually unique in the game.
Fang cheats, in a sense. He has a special order, "Target Enemy Commander", that you can't normally get. That order, plus Fang's powerful bow, plus their general buffness and good armor, makes them really quite a hell of a challenge. They're beatable, if you know what you're doing and don't mind some losses, but it may simply not be worth it.
I'm not going to bother. They won't rampage around my civilization and they're not worth the annoyance. We'll just recapture that province once they leave.
Tenvir, Feral Woods: Midgard and C'tis skirmishing. C'tis pulls a group of mercenary fishmen out in one of the battles, but the only interesting part is "there are fishmen in the game" and that's not really exciting.
In Linshire, we're jumped by Midgard's army.
Midgard's army is actually not particularly large. I can almost guarantee that without that mind hunting, we'd be swarmed by monsters right about now. As it is, we lose four warriors and nothing else.
A quick diversion: T'ien Ch'i's isolated territory in the middle of nowhere has finally squeezed together enough units to mount an attack. It horribly overestimates its own strength, as expected, and suicides its units against Carnag. It'll be another half-dozen turns before it tries again.
And back to Linshire, it's castle-sieging time.
The Midgard forces are very Stellar Cascade-happy, tossing in a lightning bolt or two on the side. The huge amount of Fatigue damage pouring into my troops are actually a substantial problem, and I end up with less of a frontline than I really wanted.
Nevertheless, our forces clash, and it's bloody. Midgard doesn't have the durability to stand up to my phalanx, and while I take casualties, they take more. After a few turns their rapidly diminishing army routs. Linshire is ours.
We've got some work to do.
A lot of work to do.
C'tis is pushing Midgard out of their territory (which is even funnier when you realize C'tis has been AI for quite some time.) In fact, let's check the nations, see if anyone else has left.
. . . Ulm is AI?
What the flying fuck?
I don't want to just, like, claim victory here. But let's look at the province chart.
The only non-AI nations that can even threaten me are Mictlan and Man.
Now let's look at the research chart.
Gath is the non-AI nation that's closest to matching me. And they've conceded. Everyone else is below them.
If I don't fuck up, I think I've got this thing done.
In any case, this drops the importance of the Well of Misery substantially. Ulm just isn't going to be able to use those gems effectively - the AI's bad, but with Ulm, the AI is really bad. Ulm is based around forging gear cheaply and the AI's approach to magical gear is "throw a bunch of shit at the wall, see what sticks."
(Future Me: Apparently LA Ulm is based around vampire lords, not cheap gear. News to me! In any case, the AI isn't smart enough to manage that properly either, so this statement mostly holds up. A race like Arco that's based around lots of relatively-normal mages can be a mild threat, just because the AI will cheerfully recruit a big ball of mages and stomp around wildly shooting things with it which is sort of what you want to do anyway. Any kind of specialty gimmick is likely to be ignored.)
Now, check out army size. You might think this looks ominous, but that's really "just what the AI does" - I suspect Ulm's got a lot of spare money and they're recruiting a shitload of weak independent troops. All those powerful sturdy Ulmish armored warriors? Who needs those! It'll be militia from here on out.
Anyway, to war. Let's go north-to-south this time.
T'ien Ch'i's walls have fallen, and it's time to siege. Their castle will have very few mages in it - few enough that I don't need both armies beating down the walls simultaneously. I choose one army at random and send them southwest. Despite what it looks like, the peninsula northwest of T'ien Ch'i does not actually connect to the capital (nor does it connect to the Gath territory northeast, nor does it connect to the water north of it - go figure) and I'll have to go slightly out of the way to reach it.
The other army is set to Storm Castle, as usual leaving a scout to Siege just in case something fucks up.
Southwest of here, the sieges of Azimar and Boddern Weald proceed. I've got my siege forces split right now, but that doesn't really make them any slower. Also, there are still military units in Boddern Weald. I leave my actual army there and leave my militia beating the shit out of Azimar. It may be a few more turns until they fall, but I can't easily speed them up anyway, so I won't.
Southeast of there, I need to break Barra and Sermioc out. Sermioc hasn't even taken 30 siege damage out of the 250 necessary. Barra's hurting a bit more - it's down to 230/350. Neither one is exactly time-critical.
The whole force consists of 15 Mystics and about 100 infantry. I made sure to bring a few Astral gems for a standard communion. I have no idea what order the various Mystics will end up in, so I pick the last two Mystics in the largest group, hope that they'll be the last in casting order, and make them the Spherepower/Earthpower casters.
Besides that, it's nothing you haven't seen before. I'm holding back, letting the spell bombardment go, and then forming a wall of steel to hold the forces back while I finish them off with magic.
Southwest of there, Carnag, my Sage Center. Way back in turn 47, mid-winter, we got six diseased sages. Today we're down to four, thanks to Gift of Health, and one sage with a chest wound that is nevertheless trucking along fine. They've got two turns to recover, so we'll see what happens. Nevertheless, there's a great example of why Gift of Health is good.
Of course, it hasn't even touched The Worst Tartarian yet. Six afflictions, no waiting. Hurry up, Gift!
Our Sibyls have reached Jome, and we set them back to Research. We may or may not ever use them.
Meanwhile, in Arco:
. . . "Dinodike"?
More importantly, though:
Now, his hit points look really high. They're not actually that high normally - that's an artifact of Gift of Health, and they'll go down as soon as he leaves my dominion. Normally, they're 130.
Okay, they're still really high. He's literally one of the Kings of Earth Magic. He's going to be pretty damn buff.
Once he's fully equipped, he's even buffer.
Fire Brand: Another AoE damage weapon.
Shield of Gleaming Gold: Gives Awe, which forces any melee attacker to make a morale check before successfully attacking.
Horror Helm: Gives Fear, which causes any nearby units to rout far faster.
Black Steel Full Plate: Does nothing exciting besides be ridiculously strong armor.
Amulet of Antimagic: Protects against hostile magic.
Pendant of Luck: Provides Luck.
This guy is going to be nigh-invulnerable to most melee forces. Mages may put up a bit more of a fight, but I'm hoping to avoid that by just stomping province defense for a bit.
I'd actually like to swap that armor for Elemental Armor, but I only realized it existed recently and haven't yet been able to forge any. It's not quite as strong against physical attacks but it puts up vastly better barriers against magic attacks.
(Future Me: hey sweet I'm starting to learn a little bit about gearing)
In any case, now that he's equipped, I move him towards the front lines. We'll get to watch him beating the shit out of stuff next turn.
And in Linshire, we take our army and move them northeast, away from the mega-army but towards another Midgard province. A Priestess stays there to build a Temple.
We're summoning another Tartarian and crossing our fingers that we get a good one this time. Really, I just need more of them - we'll need a significant number to get them healing quickly. I'm forging my fifth Hammer, as well as a pile of other equipment.
We're barraging Gath's under-siege castle with Mind Hunt. He's said that there's no Astral casters, either of his or of Midgard's, in the area. Fingers crossed. If he's wrong (or lying) we'll have a pile of healing to do, but that's OK.
Next turn I expect to capture T'ien Ch'i's capital, reclaim one of my forts, and possibly crack one of the western forts. Turn after that we'll be reclaiming another fort, getting Construction 8, and seeing our first supercombatant in action.
I'm hoping to expand rather explosively soon - I need territory, and I need it fast. Of course, I've been saying that for the entire game, so who can say.
Next: Becoming a sea empire in four easy steps.