Part 38: Stronghold Campaign, Map Three, Part Two
An observatory near the southern fort reveals one of the forts we'll be visiting eventually. If you recall, we've visited 3 of the 7 creatures, so 4 more to go. We'll be visitng 2 more this update.
The Intimidation skill is available now that Sandor is level 15. It has the potential to be ridiculously powerful - for 5 turns, Core creatures can only attack Core creatures, and Elite creatures can only attack Cores and Elites. This also applies to retaliations - if an Elite creature attacks an Intimidated Core creature, they won't do anything, but it still counts as having used up a retaliation, allowing you to move in your Cores to attack free of charge.
I had to do quite a bit of trading around on the Marketplace, but I can finally get the Advanced Town Portal. As I said in the last update, it's going to be enormously helpful on this map.
Like so, when I'd noticed an invading Hero was at the shores of the mainland. They'd almost captured my fort! But now I can just Town Portal to the Fort and annihilate them.
This map is really where the Ambush skill pays in dividends - it adds 5 Initiative to all our creatures for the first 3 turns. Centuars have 50 Initiative, so with Ambush they have 55 - tying with the Sanctuary's Kirin and Kappy Shoya. So it's basically a coin flip as to who goes first.
Eventually, the Sanctuary Heroes will start upgrading to Sacred Kirin, who have 60 Initiative - at that point, only Airini will be able to outspeed them (thanks to Earth and Sky), unless we find a +Initiative ring in the Avanced Marketplace. We can still speed tie with them though, once we pick up one of the upcoming upgrades.
Not perfect, but I'll take it.
There's a subterranean tunnel just north of the southern fort. Entering it triggers a bunch of conversations.
Click here to listen to the conversation!
More deadmen. But with a woman. Who is... Mother Earth!
Sandor. Greetings. But at the head of an Orc army I have a hard time thinking of you as 'my little Shanyi'.
This is a thing I did not expect. You are here? With Necromancers?
Yes. They understand what must be done to preserve order when the Demons come. But it's even more complicated; the ancient wars of the Faceless and the Angels also return to haunt us.
What a surprise. Wherever the Angels fly, violence and hatred follow.
Click here to listen to the conversation!
I know. I came to tell you about all of that. First... your father is dead. Murdered. Worse yet, by Anastasya.
That bookworm? The Angel's little pet? Elrath and Father Sky...
Ahhhh. Slava dead? Killed by daughter? Ahhhh....
Yes, Kraal. We felt the same. The Angels claim that the Faceless manipulated her. Who knows... Sveltana has brought her back as a Necromancer.
I'm sorry, mother. For you, for Kraal. But that means little Anton is duke. I could...
Sandor! Mourn first, plot later. Show respect. Honor Slava.
I agree, Kraal. In principal. But other issues press us, and we'll have years of mourning saved up by the time these conflicts are over.
Sandor, all the Necromancers and I want is to leave these lands - your lands - in peace. But there is a great sea monster that holds us prisoner there.
See, either Elisabeth had no idea what Haffayad was doing, or she was split off from him when the Hai Ryo attacked.
Hmmm. The Cup of Thunder was a holy object that called a similiar monster when the Falcon Empire chased the Orcs. I imagine it would be very happy to have the Cup as an offering.
Whatever you can do, do it quickly. I'm not useful against the Demons while marooned on an island.
I don't know if you intended it, but your son has grown up to be very good at killing things. Kraal, perhaps we can take care of this while we hunt the Seven.
Deadmen come again... Don't like them. As bad as Wizards, but smellier and uglier.
Kraal, we cannot afford to lose our troops in meaningless battle. We have islands to unite, and soon the demons will come.
Necromancers! You confuse me with my aunt, Sveltana. Do not come to me to preach your ways. Unlike her, I will not listen. We will only listen to your surrender, and to your promises to leave us in peace.
Sandor is right. And we have worked long and hard to establish a base here, to purify the land. We must join together!
Arrogant fool! Weak as the living, mad as an Orc. You mock Asha, creator of the universe? She will aid us in exposing your bones to the light of her moon.
We have the power to destroy you, but not the inclination. Out of respect for my aunt Sveltana, who is one of you, I will let you live, as long as you stay in your towns.
That's a long conversation! Let's move on. We have a new sidequest to bring the Cup of Thunder to the Hai Ryo, which is across the subterranean tunnel (along with the Fort that we saw from the observatory earlier.)
There is a large pack of Fate Weavers just near the entrance from where we entered the tunnel. These are a big pain to fight right now, since Baleful Gaze and Spirit Form prevent you from getting a large early strike, but if you wait for them to make a move they'll turn to Arachnid Form and hit you hard.
Mm Crushers. You might be my (second) favourite of the upgraded Stronghold army... when your second attack isn't glitching up or anything.
We lose quite a few troops here. It's entirely worth it in my opinion though to get this stack out of the way early. What are they guarding?
Nywahaha! Try to flee now, Sanctuary fools!
Many stories about Kunyak. Here is one: Kunyak come to mine to free orcs. But one Orc is slavemaster and lives well.
So Kunyak killed him?
No. Kunyak broke both legs of slave master Orc. Said Orc who wants to be slave master, stays with slave masters. Then Kunyak left with free Orcs. Kunyak said, 'And Orc is with the people, or is not. No middle way.'
So... why do you tell me this?
Because one day, Sandor too will have to choose.
If the story sounds familiar, you have a good memory - that Orc was the grandfather of the Haven Hero Maximus - read about his point of view under the Haven mercenary Heroes biographies.
Meanwhile, Airini is back at work. The next Fort is found southwest of the town. It's one of the easier ones to claim, as there are no big stacks guarding it and plenty of free stacks.
She's also getting the hang of conserving troops.
Hmm, it's a big stack... but maybe we can take it on?
Oh geez fine. We'll have to come back later. If Intimidation worked on undead, we might have had a shot, too. Accursed Undead and their many immunities...
Parents rode with Kunyak from Shabbya to here. Saw many deaths, but many victories. Would be good to see one more.
Centaur Marauders are a cast of Centaurs dedicated entirely to the art of warfare. They have vowed never to be slaves again and initiation amongst their ranks requires them to renounce the bonds of marriage. This does not mean that they may not bear or foster children, but they are forbidden the pairings that are reserved for the other members of their herd tribes.
Centaur Marauder Damage: 14-18 (Might) Defense: 8 (18%) Magic Defense: 11 (23%) Health: 80 Initiative: 50 Movement: 8 (Walking) Range: Full Destiny: 7 Morale: 7 Cost: 625 Growth: 4/week Abilities: Large Creature, Manoeuvre, Vigilant Scout, Mobile Shooter, Living
Mobile Shooter posted:
She doesnt have to stop and turn her mount! She is both mount and rider! The Sunriders of the Empire are as impressed as they are frustrated by the agility of the Centaur Marauders on the battlefield. They can fire deadly arrows and then move to higher ground, or dash to a place before firing from the most deadly positions. Years of skirmishes with the Holy Empire during the Orc Crusades have taught the Centaur Marauders to fight with uncanny discipline.
The Centaur Marauder is able to attack and move in the same round, in either order, or just one if preferred.
The Centaur's upgrade barely improves in stats - she gains 2 maximum damage and 10 health, which doesn't seem very impressive. The 8 Movement seems rather absurd for a shooter troop, but that does tie in with its Mobile Shooter as well as its Manoeuvre ability - unless blocked off from moving or if there are too many enemy creatures around, the Centaur Marauder is almost always able to fire for full damage, and even retaliate for it, too. Still a fairly low-priority upgrade all things considered, but the 10 health adds a nice touch of survivability to an otherwise fragile creature, and it is one of the stronger Elite shooters, all things considered. A pity it's quite expensive, and that its Movement couldn't be used by another creature that would appreciate it more (like Crushers).
A little Advanced Town Portal later to merge and swap troops around. Sandor keeps the majority of the army, while Airini retains the Dreamreavers and takes the Goblin Hunters, for some extra damage and trapping ability. Also notice I have over 500 Goblin Hunters - they sure breed like rabbits.
Sanctuary invasions now start coming 3 at a time. The top and middle ones usually go straight for the topmost Fort, which is why Town Portals are very handy to eliminate both early and save yourself a headache. The bottom one is a pain, since he can usually capture the bottom Fort within 2 to 3 turns, and can even sneak around to capture the southwest Fort. You can actually send a mule Hero to scout the oceans to keep track of their movements (there's a Shipyard just east of the northern Fort).
The Cleave ability allows the first friendly stack that kills another creature to immediately gain a free turn (unlike Morale, they get full movement and damage.) The ability can be somewhat glitchy, since Crushers don't seem to get their second swing on a Cleave. Still a nice ability if you have a stack that can deal a lot of damage safely. It also activates on activated abilities like the Jaguar Warriors' Feral Charge.
Sandor knows Kunyak, yes? All Orcs have stories of Kunyak. Airini remembers one. When Kunyak came to these islands, some priates, Naga, Humans live here.
Did Kunyak negotiate?
No, Kunyak sank their ships and drove them off. Said of all peoples only Orcs have no nation, no country, no place to live. Kunyak said Orcs take these islands; here Orcs would stay, live, be left alone.
Do you think he was right to do that?
Strange question. Question was live or die; much easier than right or wrong.
You know, Orc bedtime stories can't be very comforting.
Goblin Hunters are pretty powerful when enemies get in close range. Airini can do a decent defensive strategy by keeping back and slowly whittling enemies to death - Idol of Earth is very nice for this purpose, since it lasts indefinitely till destroyed (but the AI isn't generally smart enough to do that on Normal difficulty), and can block large stacks from reaching us. The Dreamreavers can also hurt enemies from afar with Sky and Earth.
Once the enemy stacks are all but whittled, I leave one nearly dead stack left and hide behind an obstacle (for the ranged protection) and just use Regeneration and Defend till we run out of Mana. I'm still in range of Idol of Earth, too.
Takes a while, but quite worth it though, since we only lose 6 Dreamreavers instead of 20+.
Alright, take two, time for payback.
Oh Crushers, you beautiful damage dealers. I really should get Flawless Assault at some point to really maximize their damage.
(We finish the fight with no losses, too.)
Past the large Necropolis group that Airini had defeated earlier is another Fort with our next upgrade.
Was once warrior, now fugitive. Naga want my head, deadmen want my head, some Orcs too. But to stand once more, fight for the tribes... Nnn. For this, Qara comes back. Qara fights again.
And to wrap up this update, our final Elite upgrade.
The Orcs of the Pao Islands speak of a legendary creature known as the Shadow Panther, bigger and fiercer than the already-formidable Pao Jaguar.
Orcs that manage to kill one of these become known as Panther Warriors. They are as rare and powerful as the name implies.
Panther Warrior Damage: 16-20 (Might) Defense: 13 (26%) Magic Defense: 11 (23%) Health: 90 Initiative: 55 Movement: 7 (Walking) Range: None Destiny: 6 Morale: 10 Cost: 535 Growth: 5/week Abilities: Large Creature, War Fury, All-around Slash, Living, Demonic Lineage
All-around Slash posted:
It was raining claws, and their growls sounded like thunder. Many Naga consider the Panther Warriors the most beautiful and dangerous foe one might meet in battle. Their charge is furious and instinctive, and falls upon battle lines like a summer storm. Not only must the immediate target of their pounce be on their guard, but those beside them most also look for cover from the rain of death and fury.
Much like how the Kappa Shoya upgrade the Kappa's Leap to hit over an area, so does the Panther Warrior upgrade the Jaguar Warrior's Feral Charge to All-around Slash. The Panther Warrior essentially does a melee attack to the target and hits all adjacent enemies to that target at the same time with no retaliation. It can be used every other turn.
The Panther Warrior, oddly enough, got a slight damage nerf a few patches back, despite their flimsy defenses holding them back - maybe the developers just had a Kensei hardon and didn't want any creature having as good a damage as them?
Still, while they're fairly fragile, 90 health aside, Panther Warriors are almost the epitome of glass cannon. They're meant to strike fast, early, and hard, especially with All-around Slash augmenting their fury. Their high Initiative and Movement also help with that - they're the only creature able to keep on toe with the Sanctuary till they get their Sacred Kirin. The trouble is keeping them alive, as they can get whittled down fairly quickly and they don't have the Sanctuary's defensive support to aid them, but kill the enemy fast enough and it won't matter too much (Drain Life and Reinforcements are very helpful for minimizing losses, at least).