Part 22: Stronghold Campaign, Map Two, Part OneSo, let's recap on what each of Slava's children have been up to:
- Sandor broke into his father's enemy's duchy, killing many soldiers to free his half-sister, then fled with her to the sea.
- Irina escaped with Sandor to some islands where she allied with the Naga to raze her husband's trading post, before finding out she's pregnant with his child.
- Anton completely undid his father's work by driving their former allies out of his territory and snubbing the Inquisition, who were sort of on his side.
- Kiril got his soul traded to the demons and had a demon prince inhabit his body. He then fought his way through Hell only to have the Demon flip out and almost kill an ally.
- Anastasya was brought back from the dead by her Great-Aunt, and used an army of the living dead to attack her former duchy, killing the man who tortured her and freeing the one who may have made her kill her father.
This whole family's a little loco. But I guess we can go see what's going on with the least crazy of the lot.
Trivia: I believe all the Stronghold maps are titled after movies.
Sandor's Stand (YouTube via Polsy)
This is just a shortened version of the Sanctuary's opening cinematic, if you needed a recap on where we last actually saw Sandor.
We're immediately thrust into battle against the Inquisitor without any time to check our stats or anything. Fortunately it's an easy battle (I guess Gerhart didn't want Irina back that badly?), though after a string of perfect victories from the Necropolis map it's a little disheartening when you're forced to lose troops again. You can't replay this battle either, since the Inquisitor attacks yo first.
One-Way Ticket (YouTube via Polsy)
So we're stranded on an island with our boat broken. We won't be coming back to this part of the map for some time, so it's a good idea to explore everywhere before heading to the plot trigger.
Orc returns to Mother Earth. Tribe lives on!
The greatest Barbarians take upon themselves the role of leading the tribe in times of strife. Their faith in Father Sky and Mother Earth is steadfast, and they know instinctively that all souls have the right to be free. Their powers are contagious and their hordes mighty beyond compare. When a Chieftain goes to battle, the Spirits of Earth and Sky accompany the tribe.
Dispells all negative effects reducing Morale, Initiative, Movement and Might Damage from all friendly creatures. Cooldown of 3 turns.
Unfettered isn't a bad ability, and it's useful to have if you need it, but... it's not outstanding, and it's more of a 'Oh, I guess it's a good thing I remembered I had this' ability.
Back to business. There are a friendly group of Harpies to the west just after defeating a small group of Earth Elementals.
Welcome to the jungle, babyteeth. The Harpies thank you.
I am Sandor, and this is Warchief Kraal.
Sandor has no reason to help me, but helps anyway. So, I help Sandor. Our warchief is Sharka, his village is across the island. Maybe you run from Sharka, maybe you fight Sharka. But now you know. It's Sandor's choice.
The Harpies are still fairly useless in terms of fighting, but at least they give us that Initiative boost. You face mostly Stronghold and Elemental creatures on the island, with a few Sanctuary ones here and there.
It's actually a good idea to break treasure chests for gold instead of experience at the very beginning, simply because...
This group of Centaurs always offers to join for gold. It varies from game to game - once they asked for over 4000 gold. You start with only 1500, so you definitely need some extra gold to recruit them.
The main standouts on the island are a set of Ruins where you can pick up an additional 15 Maulers, and a Lighthouse that boosts Sea Movement when owned. The latter will be very helpful.
This is where we need to go to advance the plot. First though, there is a small detour to the west with a bunch of resources.
And guarding them, Cyclops. Cyclops are a pain because they won't register any damage you deal to them until their next turn comes up. This means even if a melee attack would kill them outright, they can still retaliate at full strength.
Once you finish cleaning up the island, approach the town for our cutscene.
Obligatory Buttshot (YouTube via Polsy)
We're transported to a town all the way to the NW. We're given the choice of either helping the rebels (the yellow faction to the SW) by defeating Sharka's Orcs (the purple faction to the NE), or the other way round. The Tears path is the first choice, Blood is the second choice. Since we've already upgraded Sandor to his Tears specialization, we're automatically locked into helping the rebels - we can't even attack them.
I pick up the Mentoring ability on the last map, and I'm doing so for each of Slava's children. Mentoring immediately bumps any friendly Hero you 'swap' with 50% of your experience, bumping them up several levels most likely. This allows us to give a huge chunk of free experience to tavern Heroes, letting them get up to par. Our tarvern hero went straight from level 5 to 9.
We'll see what we can do about the Orcs the next time, though.
Alternative Options - Tears and Blood
First, here's what we get if we went Blood instead:
We are chosen of Father Sky!
The Warmonger has learned to cultivate rage, transforming anger into an immeasurable tribal weapon. Absolute faith in Father Sky, the orc god of retribution and freedom, confers the Warmonger the power to master and channel personal rage and that of fellow warriors on the battlefield. The terrifying powers of the Warmongers were first witnessed by the Wizards of the Seven Cities during the Revolt of the Orcs, when hordes of enraged slaves destroyed an entire legion of Mageblades.
Increases the target's Bloodrage level by 2 levels and extends the duration by 2 turns. Cannot raise Bloodrage level above 4. 4 turn cooldown.
Blood Fury, on the other hand, is a fantastic single target boost. It allows you to give a friendly stack the ultimate Bloodrage level from as low as level 5, and extending the duration is a great bonus. Cooldown is a little lengthy, but it's a solid deal.
Then we look at the starting Stronghold Magic class.
Ancestors angry! Orcs free spirits!
The Shaman practices a form of mystical magic that is unique and incomprehensible to all other wizards and sorcerors of Ashan. They have the power to consult tribal ancestors for advice in the invisible spirit world, acting as a medium. On these enlightening journeys, the Shaman gains insights that allow them to draw upon devastating magical powers that they materialize through blood rituals.
Earth and Sky
On the first round of every battle, friendly creatures get +5 Initiative and +1 Movement, while enemy non-flying creatures get -5 Initiatve and -1 Movement.
The Shaman isn't as effective as boosting our armies due to a dearth of Magic troops, but an effective +10 Initiatve against most enemies at the start of every battle is pretty amazing, as are the Movement buffs and debuffs.
Then, if we take a Shaman and go Tears...
Earth Shaper posted:
Mother Earth! Orc children cry!
Over time, a Shaman tends to become particularly attuned with one of the two orc Spirit Gods, Mother Earth or Father Sky. Earth Shapers favour the nourishing and life bringing aspects of Mother Earth and bring her power to the battlefield. Hordes lead by the Shamans of Mother Earth seem endless and untiring. When an Earth Shaper is told by the ancestors that a war must be waged to save the tribe, their is no greater defender of the people.
Idol of Earth
Creates an Idol of Earth that takes up 1 chosen tile on the battlefield, and acts as an obstacle, blocking movement and proving cover from ranged attacks. All friendly creatures within two tiles of the Idol take 24/27% less damage from all attacks. Costs 45 Mana, usable every turn.
Idol of Earth is an interesting spell. The damage reduction is considerable, and it's better than Mass Stone Skin and only costs 5 Mana more. The area of effect is much smaller though, and you can only have one of them out at once. A good deployment area is either around your shooters, providing them with ranged cover, or near the enemy deployment area for your melee units to take advantage of it. Be aware that like Demon Gates, enemy stacks can benefit from its ranged covers.
And finally, for the Blood Magic option...
Storm Caller posted:
Father Sky! Orc children battle!
Over time, a Shaman tends to become particularly attuned with Mother Earth or Father Sky. Storm Callers have become attuned to the courageous and vengeful aspects of Father Sky. Battlefields are turned into spectacular light shows as bolts of lightning crease the skies; a scene that is said to please the ancestors. The Storm Caller remains in trance, conversing with the most valiant tribal warriors of past victories, relaying each spectacular feat of every ally for the entire duration of a battle.
Idol of Storms
Creates an Idol of Storms on a chosen tile on the battlefield that lasts for 2 turns, and acts as an obstacle, blocking movement and proving cover from ranged attacks. All friendly stacks within 2 tiles of the Idol gain +10 Initiative. At the beginning of each turn, the Idol casts Chain Lightning on a random enemy creature within 2 tiles, dealing 347/399 Air damage and jumps up to 2 additional enemies, decreasing damage by 15% each jump. Costs 45 Mana and usable every turn.
Idol of Storms is a much more offensive option - the +10 Initiative is helpful, as is the Chain Lightning effect, but it lasts only 2 turns and the Chain Lightning is weaker than the actual spell, so it's more mana intensive in the long run. Again, there are two ways to make use of it - first is to deploy it near your ranged creatures to give them an Initiative boost and attack incoming enemy melee troops. Your Goblins and Centaurs already have high Initiative though, so this may be less fruitful. The second option is to deploy it near the enemy deployment area where your Maulers can get a much more appreciated Initiative boost and Chain Lightning is far more likely to hit a target.