Part 24: Stronghold Campaign, Map Two, Part Three
Now that we've kind of maybe ticked off Sharka, an Orange hero immediately shows up next turn via a two-way portal and starts going after our towns. Their favourite target is to the forts near our starting town through the whirlpool. The forts can only be reached via Town Portal or boat, so if you lose the Fort you can only claim them back by sailing to it.
The good news is that Sandor doesn't have to do this alone - Airini starts off with about two weeks' worth of growth of creatures, and there is a small stack of free Dreamwalkers near her town, so she can do base defense while Sandor finishes mopping up the Orc Jaguars.
Yes, that's a puny invasion force of 1 Goblin. (The Orange Hero had claimed the Fort, and left behind all his troops but 1 Goblin there)
I did find out two things about Airini - first, that her Hero attack deals Might damage rather than Air, which is the default Stronghold Magic hero's damage type. Second, she can't even cast Idol of Earth - it's in her spellbook outside of combat, but it doesn't appear in combat.
It's a good idea to leave Airini with some troops so she can swat off Orange heroes and do a bit of exploring of her own. I leave her with all my Harpies and about half my Dreamwalkers - Airini works well with the latter since they're fairly sturdy and they're Magic creatures.
To complete our secondary quest that Kraal alluded to, we have to visit the Jaguar Warriors and Cyclops. The Jaguar Warriors are the easier of the two - just go back to the island we started on at the beginning of the map with any hero carrying at least one creature and approach the town.
You're not the first to say that...
Goink was first! Yeah!
Nnn. Arana and Jaguar follow Sandor, find glory. Make jungle shake with fear.
And as simple as that, we get access to a free town containing about 30 Jaguar Warriors and the ability to build more dwellings containing our last Elite creature.
Among the Pao islands Orcs, the Jaguar Warriors are the tallest, the strongest, and the meanest. To become a Jaguar Warrior, an Orc brave must first kill a saber-toothed jaguar, one of the fiercest predators of the islands, with his bare hands. Needless to say, the mask of a Jaguar Warrior often hides numerous scars earned during this perilous rite of passage. In combat, they rush violently and blindly into the enemy, raking with their obsidian claws. Jaguar Warriors are often used as honour guards by the greatest Orc chieftains and shamans.
Jaguar Warrior Damage: 15-18 (Might) Defense: 11 (23%) Magic Defense: 9 (19%) Health: 85 Initiative: 50 Movement: 7 (Walking) Range: None Destiny: 6 Morale: 8 Cost: 415 Growth: 3/week Abilities: Large Creature, War Fury, Feral Charge, Living, Demonic Lineage
War Fury posted:
Once it starts slashing, nothing but death will stop it. The Necromancer Hafayaad wrote extensively on the tactics and strategies of the Orcs in battle. He made special note of the Jaguar Warriors capacity to resist curses and control once it had entered into the fray of battle, prompting him to recommend concentrating magical attacks on them until the lines had met, and then praying to Asha for her intervention thereafter.
Jaguar Warriors become immune to Mind effects and negative Morale effects for the rest of the battle as soon as it takes damage.
Feral Charge posted:
Jaguar and Panther warriors call upon the spirits of the great cats from which they draw their namesake. Often, their first attack resembles the pounce of a feline predator, dropping from the sky and pinning their prey, making immediate retaliation impossible. If their prey is not immediately killed, it is best not to run, for to do so is to give them a chance to pounce again.
Feral Charge has the Jaguar Warrior simply doing normal damage to target enemy without retaliation. Target must be at least 3 tiles away, and can be used every other turn.
Despite their large size, Jaguar Warriors are a bit of a pussycat - they have good damage, excellent movement and initiative. In fact, their defenses are okay and they have good health... but they simply don't perform as well in practice - large size hampers their offensive potential, and they are a magnet for any attacks that can't reach Centaurs, which exposes the fragility that plagues most Stronghold creatures. At the very least they can avoid retaliation every other turn. They're not bad... until you compare them to Kenshi, Tormentors or Griffins and realize they're a purely offensive creature with no defensive capabilities at all.
You won't be making much use of the Warriors this map - the rest of the map is mostly siege battles and you don't have enough of a growth rate for them to matter.
The Orange hero enters from the two-way portal (located just north of the Jaguar Warrior town, takes one look at our army and starts fleeing towards the old Red Jaguar town. A quick Town Portal easily takes care of him.
We send Airini through the Two-Way Portal while Sandor starts heading towards the Cyclops.
Nnn. Sandor heard of Shantiri Empire?
What? Of course. It existed hundreds of years ago, but was destroyed during the Elder Wars. The Angels and Faceless fought with all the power of their gods... and almost destroyed the world.
Nnn. Kraal wonders if crater was created when Faceless tried to destroy Angel floating cities...
Huh. Maybe, Kraal. Maybe. Or by an Angel in its wrath...
The Fort here is relatively undefended, an easy grab for Airini. A Stronghold hero soon starts marching up, though.
It's a little harder doing fights without Reinforcements or Tactics.
The Cyclops are located just south of the Red Jaguar town. You'll need to take a boat to get there. A few points of interest along the way are an Arcane Library, an Elite creature dwelling, and the Humble Coif of the Prophet, the headpiece for the Prophet set. (It's worth equipping even if you're going Blood or not planning on using Airini, since it gives Sandor a very nice 30 Mana)
Kraal, is this necessary?
Cyclops challenged you. If Sandor walks away, even Goink is unhappy.
Well we wouldn't want to disappoint Goink!
(You can actually still retreat if you want with no negative effects.)
Acamas has a lot of Cyclops to deal with. Cyclops are still a pain because they won't take damage till their turn, and high movement rate means you can't block them off from your Centaurs for too long. They tend to ignore your Goblins at least. Slow them down with Crippling Traps, Earth and Sky, and so on so you can shoot them as long as possible unhindered. Acamas is a Warmonger (the Blood Might Hero), so he also has First Blood, which allow his Cyclops to travel 9 tiles for the first two turns after any stack has been damaged the first time.
Click here to listen to the conversation!
Noisy monkey beat troops, not beat Acamas!
Acamas! Sandor fought fair. Acamas challenged, Sandor fought. Sandor won.
Nnn. Uh. Acamas hate naked monkey boys. Acamas no help Sandor. Other cyclops go with Sandor. Not Acamas. Acamas have headache. Acamas wants to yell and throw rocks.
Well that's that. And for our reward, we get 3 Cyclops.
Cyclops are the Goblins opposites. They too were a failure in the Orc experiment, but because they were born from the blood of major demons. The demonic part of their blood took over, and they became monstrous giants, body and mind twisted by chaotic surges.
While many factions would love to harness their power, only the Orcs have the strength, patience, and courage to tame them and give them a place in their villages as tireless workers, and on the battlefield as heavy shock troops and siege engines. Cyclops often measure more than 10 feet tall, and they definitely look more demonic than human. A curious trait they all share is that they have only one eye: a large, pupil-less disc, red and glowing. No one knows for sure the cause of this mutation, but a popular wizard theory claims that it is the Mark of Chaos, a symbol of the Dragon-snake Urgash, coiled in a circle, eating its own tail. Most simply refer to it as the Evil Eye.
Cyclops Damage: 57-65 (Might) Defense: 26 (44%) Magic Defense: 24 (42%) Health: 340 Initiative: 35 Movement: 7 (Walking) Range: None Destiny: 7 Morale: 7 Cost: 1685 + 1 Crystal Growth: 1/week Abilities: Large Creature, Sunder, Impervious to Pain, Slam, Living, Demonic Lineage
If you think their fort is impressive, you should see how quickly they can tear it down. Earland Hammer, the renowned Bloodsmith, is said to have lived a decade with a tribe of Cyclops to learn how to most effectively swing a mass. He once encountered a trader that was extremely impressed by the immensity of their village architecture. Earland told him that the Cyclops have a natural talent for crushing stone and wood, and that they could turn a mountain into a prairie if they were ever given a good reason.
Sunder is pretty simple - Cyclops deal an extra point of structural damage (so 3 structural damage without any additional bonuses).
Impervious to Pain posted:
The creatures too dumb to know when its already dead! The Emperors of Falcon have a long history of underestimating the intelligence of the Orc nations. Their misunderstanding of the Cyclops capacity to continue fighting even after it has been killed is not due to a mental deficiency but simply the fact that it is impervious to pain.
Impervious to Pain is the Cyclops' main gimmick - any damage it takes won't be registered till the start of its next turn. This means it can retaliate with full strength or even when it should have died.
Closing in on a Cyclops is like trying to keep the ocean at bay with the point of a spear. The Deep Naga respect the tremendous blows of the Cyclops and consider it blessed by Shalassa. Wherever its mighty club strikes the ground a wave of fury is launched at the point of impact, pushing its rivals back. The sensation is similar to being hit by a giant wave when swimming along the coastal regions of the Jade sea on a stormy morning.
The Cyclops can Slam every three turns, dealing normal damage to an enemy stack within movement range with no retaliation. Small stacks will also be shoved back one tile.
The Cyclops is our first Champion creature, and the stats speak for themselves as to why they're certainly Champions. Even among other Champion creatures it stands out - it has better damage than all other Champion creatures, even upgraded ones, except for its upgraded version and one other Champion, and only in its upgraded form. It also has more health than any other Champion, upgraded or otherwise, only being bested by its upgraded form. A surprisngly high movement for such a large creature also helps cements its status as a frightening offensive behemoth, and its Initiative isn't too bad when you still have Centaurs and Jaguar Warriors who are still pretty fast.
Of course, there has to be downsides - the Cyclops has the worst defenses of any Champion creature. Impervious to Pain is very difficult to work with, too. Yes, having the ability to retaliate at full strength is great, but on the other hand, it makes healing them notoriously difficult, since Drain Life won't overheal. Still, they're pretty great creatures, but Centaurs will likely still contribute to most of your damage as long as you can keep them alive.
Similiar to Jaguar Warriors, you can start building Cyclops buildings, but it's unlikely you'll have enough to make them a pivotal unit by the end of the map. The buildings are also expensive, costing 30 Wood each (though by now you're swimming in Gold, so you can just trade for it).
It can be fairly hard to reach the level cap this map, especially if you don't use experience boosting traits or skills. There's a Shrine of the Seventh Dragon at least, which gives any hero (Sandor, and maybe Airini as well if you want) a free level up. It's best visiting them just after you gain a level, since they'll only give as much exp as you need to level up. You can also go back and take on the Arena if you haven't.
In any case, once you're ready, Town Portal to the Fort just past the Two-Way Portal, transfer Airini's troops to Sandor, and let's finish the guy.
Need to think, Sandor. Sharka strong, has many troops. Dangerous to fight. Must think first...
Click here to listen to the conversation!
Oh yeah? Shanda also a kind of soup! Ha!
Uh... Thanks, Goink.
Sandor surrounded by fools. Weaklings. No real Orc takes babyteeth as leader. Sandor's army a bunch of shanda! Should all wear dresses!
No more thinking, Sandor. We kill Sharka!
I think Kraal's just mad he couldn't pull off a dress.
Kraal wasn't joking, though - Sharka has a pretty big army.
The fight is really a battle of attrition - it being a siege battle is not in your favour, and if left unchecked Sharka will quickly whittle down your Centaur. Sharka's Centaur are missing in this screenshot, because he's placed them in the central tower, which you can do with a fully upgraded Castle (which also adds two arrow towers). Ranged creatures in the central tower can shoot without any penalty, which can make creatures like Goblins dangerous. They also can't be targetted by spells or moves like Pressed Attack.
Scrolls of Teleport are pretty handy for getting tough melee troops inside siege walls. They have a chance of showing up in Advanced Marketplaces. By this point you have 5 towns, so you can find a lot of good stuff in there. I get a bunch of nice stuff like the Ring of Celerity (+4 to Initiative) and Gauntlets of the Cyclops (+8 to Might Power), but I didn't get lucky enough to find some of the really powerful stuff.
Losses can't be helped... good thing it's the last battle of the map.
So, Sandor wins. Sharka's first defeat. Was not ready for this. Sandor grew too strong, too fast. Nnn. Took Sandor's best troops. Sharka has no way to kill Sandor.
So Sharka is outcast. Not happy. Be best to kill Sharka now.
Go where you want. Do what you want. I will not kill you in cold blood. But if I face you again in battle, if you take up arms against me...
Then Sandor kill you. In hot blood.
So. I came as a refugee, and ended up as a warlord. I have an army, but not enough to save my family from the Wolf - whether they deserve it or not. But I will. And until I do, this will not stop.
But hey, this is a pretty feel good ending. Funny how Sandor seems to be the only one that gets them.
Bonus Content - Blood and Tears
To find out Sandor's Blood path, we have to wind the clock all the way back, and defeat Airini instead.
(Note that you need to have at least some Blood points. If you have too many Tears points and not enough Blood, Sandor will automtatically get locked into Tears. The opposite can happen, but it's a lot easier to get Tears points instead of Blood.)
In any case, after we defeat Airini...
Weakling! Babyteeth! Come to kill Orcs. Smells like slaver.
I come for my own reasons.
Ah! Is no reason to take slaves!
Hah There's no reason to become one, either. Smells weak.
Well, at least we put down the rebellion. Sharka should give us what we want and we can end the map now, right?
Click here to listen to the conversation!
Hah! Sandor come back like good dog. Did what Sharka said. Sandor acts like that. Sharka let him live. Maybe give him hut to live in.
As I recall, the words were "Land, Gold, Peace".
Stupid babyteeth. How about I give you land big enough to sleep on. You dream about gold, give me peace. Ha ha ha ha haaa!
Wait, Sandor. Too soon to fight. Need more troops. Should go to find Jaguar Warrior, Cyclops. Then come back and stake Sharka to anthill in noontime sun.
And now we not only have to go defeat the Red Jaguars, but Sharka immediately starts sending his invading Heroes, as well.
This is just a glimpse of the ultimate Bloodrage ability, which we could only normally get at level 25, but we can access it thanks to the Warmonger's Blood Fury ability.
Our next change comes when we defeat Acamas, now that Airini isn't there to butt in in our defense. The Jaguar Warrior bit is the same.
Acamas not lose to naked chimp! Raaaaaaah!
Maybe naked. Maybe chimp. But warrior. Warrior who wins.
Eh. Nnnnn. Maybe... maybe Acamas go with Sandor. Maybe Acamas learn something.
Goink likes Acamas! Acamas big and cuddly! Like huge smelly pillow!
Sometimes I wonder if Sandor actually is naked outside of cutscenes, being so free to admit it. Yeah he's skimpily dressed, but aren't all the Orcs?
And our reward for having to do all that extra battling is...
31 Cyclops! That's a really nice perk. Oh, we also get Acamas as a secondary Hero. Generally, the alternative options are opposite of each other - Airini was a Magic Tears hero, so Acamas is a Might Blood hero.
One of the first Cyclops created by the Wizards of the Seven Cities, Acamas is old, mean, and tough as Ghoul's skin.
Well, maybe more old than mean now. The chaos in his blood has calmed with age, and it's more from past deeds than present day acts that his fearsome reputation is forged. The day that he tossed the Blackmill clan's second-in-rule over Old Whitebark will go down long in Cyclops -and Orc- history.
Nowadays he lives a quiet life with his small clan on a remote island in the Jade Ocean, but secretly harbors a desire for one last head-cracking adventure.
Aww, Sandor recruited a crotchety old man.
Acamas still doesn't have Tactics or Reinforcements, but at least his skills are better picked than Airini's. He also has automatic access to the level 15 skill Cleave despite being only level 12.
And finally, the last change occurs when we fight Sharka.
I have no idea if it's because Sandor went Blood, but Sharka's army is HUGE - he has, among other things, 27 Cyclops and 130 Jaguar Warriors. Maybe the game didn't want us walking over him with 31 Cyclops?
Click here to listen to the conversation!
Hear me Garhart, hear me Angels who forced Irina's marriage, little Anton and the others who treated me like an embarassment, a stain on the family. I'm coming back to the Falcon empire with an army, and I will have a day of reckoning with each of you. And your day, Gerhart, may include being skinned with a particularly jagged spearhead.
Hey Kunyakti, who you talk to?
Oh! Uh, nothing, Goink. Let's go smash some crabs.