Part 51: Sanctuary Campaign, Map Four, Part One
Perfect Sense of Timing (YouTube via Polsy)
Now THAT's how you start off a final map of a campaign. Are you paying attention, Sandor?
Irina! The outpost is built, the troops are ready. Demons are everywhere. Coming through portals, like rivers of fire.
Then Gerhart will have two headaches to worry about. He should be honoured; he's higher on my priority list than the Demons...
Irina, I see war and glory; thousands of converts to the way of Shalassa!
But we better hurry or else I'll end up giving birth in the saddle...
Can you smell that in the air? No? Well the Shark Guards can; it's the smell of Gerhart's inevitable blood being spilt. Irina ends up on a map that is very similiar to where her journey began - it's Stronghold Map 1, just with more Demons and a bit of rearrangement. Even some of the stat boosts are in the exact same place.
Irina faces three factions in her final map - the Inferno faction, a Haven faction, and another faction comprising of Gerhart's lone castle. As you might expect, Gerhart isn't accessible until the Inferno is gone. You don't have to defeat the Haven faction, but it makes things much easier.
I split off my two Heroes as usual (and recruit Ciele to stay in town to help overlook construction). Like the last map, Katashi gets all the Kappa, while Irina keeps the Pearl Priestesses and Shark Guards. Our starting territory is fairly large and has a full complement of Mines, so splitting up your forces is the best way to clear things up efficiently. You should really have no problem with two high-levelled Magic Heroes on your side, anyway.
Truth be told, Irina barely needs any creatures to clear the opening of this map; Summon Earth Elemental is bringing in 20+ Elementals, and she still has the Summon Phoenix artifact from last map. She has over 500 Mana as well, so there's little risk in running dry. We're going to want a more... bloody way of killing though. Irina has only about 600 Blood reputation at this point and there are no more sidequests on this map for a Blood Irina, so we'll have to earn that level 2 reputation the hard way.
I finally teach Irina Chain Lightning, and I don't regret it for a second. Irina is so deadly with the spell now that she can utterly wipe the entire battlefield off of enemies in most of these battles - if they're not dead, they soon will be. Chain Lightning trivializes the first half of this update. Don't worry, though - it's about to get harder very soon.
I take Katashi in a different direction - her Magic Power isn't as high as Irina, so Chain Lightning won't kill off the enemy completely and she doesn't have as much Mana to burn. Instead, I give her Acid Cloud - it lasts indefinitely, so with the aid of some Elementals Katashi can slowly whittle enemies down. It's generally fairly mana-intensive, but it's probably the best way to make use of her more limited mana (she should have around ~250 at this point). One way to speed up the process is to use the Wait Trick - wait till all the enemies are done moving, drop an Acid Cloud or Blizzard on them, which will deal some damage immediately. At the start of the next turn, it'll immediately drop another load of damage on them. I end up getting a glitch on this map that carried over a bad week that increased Mana costs by 25%, so Acid Cloud costed 100 Mana for me this entire map. Annoying.
Invading Inferno armies also start appearing quickly. Luckily Chain Lightning murdered his army. You'll want to push up north by the end of the second week, the latest. There are actually two directions we can go - north is a Haven town controlled by the Inferno, and east is a neutral Haven town that we can crush under our feet (there's actually a quest there for a Tears Irina). However, I ignore the neutral town till near the end of the map for an important reason, which I'll talk about in a bit.
You! Wolf-woman who heads Naga troops! Come and fight me at the volcano. Meet me where the blood of Urgash boils from Ashan, and we will see if Demon or Naga will rule this duchy.
I don't have time for-
A challenge is a challenge to your honor! You must fight him.
Aahh! Hardly a time to worry about protocol. But you are right. We'll drown his dreams of glory at the volcano!
Darn Naga customs. Look on the bright side Irina. At least he didn't ask to sip tea with you. We have a main quest to defeat Nebiros, which we'll get to sooner or later.
Heading north is a Haven town - this was also the first Haven town Sandor came across in his first map.
You can already tell the enemy stacks are going to swell to large numbers very quickly. Luckily Chain Lightning nearly obilterates him.
This town will be our main base for the rest of the map - we'll pretty much be short on Gold for about the entire map, as we need to quickly build up our town(s) and get our army fully upgraded. We could claim the nearby neutral town, but we don't really have the time to build up yet another town and it will become another magnet for attacks, forcing us to split our attention. As long as we don't claim the neutral town, the enemy will never move in that direction and focus entirely on this one.
Calm down, sister. I bring the power of Shalassa with me. What disturbs you?
The volcano erupted, and then Demons came. The women in the village, all who were pregnant, gave birth to monsters! Beasts of teeth and tentacles who clawed their way, feeding on their own mothers... Elrath!
Here, breathe slowly. Are there many women remaining?
Yes, many. We have brought them to the temple, but the power of Chaos is too great-
I weep at your loss, but the risk is too great. Those who are still alive must be eradicated before their monstrous children are born. Arashi! See to it.
And this is where one of the bigger attitude differences between Blood and Tears come in. A Tears Irina actually sends the women to Katsue to be healed, so uh... good job internet people. You killed a bunch of in-game pregnant women.
In either case, Irina now has to track down and kill whatever is causing the miracle of life to be the end of it before the same thing happens to her. If you say so, game, though given that we're approaching the nine- or ten-month mark since the end of Irina's first map, maybe Katsue was just lying way back then and pulling off the ultimate troll move. Did they even have pregnancy tests in the Middle Ages?
A word to you, Demon flith. Don't try to hunt the Wolf in his own territory.
Wolf! We hunt!
The Inferno controls three more towns aside from the one we just claimed - two Inferno towns, one to the north (where Sandor first started his journey, though the land is now volcanic), and one just to the east. They also have another Haven town just south of the eastern Inferno town. We'll want to ignore the eastern one for now - the red Haven faction will usually be constantly warring back and forth with the Inferno faction for it, which will keep them mostly distracted. Should we claim this town now, we'll have to fend off attacks from both the Inferno and the Haven for it. This town also has the annoying structure that deals 300 Fire damage every round, so we'll come back for it later. As long as we don't interfere too much with the red Haven's business, they'll leave us alone. Mostly. So we'll target the Inferno town to the north. The territory around our second town has a few stat boosts and another Crystal Cavern, both very helpful.
I may have spoken too soon, that was CLOSE. The Haven Hero was one tile away from claiming the town before I could quickly get enough Crystal for an Advanced Town Portal to send Irina back. Oddly enough after this the Haven never invaded me again before I started pushing into their territory (they came into my territory a few times, but quickly left).
We can also take a sneak peek at what lies in wait for us when we eventually do open Gerhart's gate - Zounds upon Zounds of creatures. Yikes.
As we push north, enemy armies start getting really large and I have to start getting inventive, especially since we don't have a large build-up of creatures yet. I'm throwing Elementals left and right, making great use of the Water Elemental's Ice Bolt and the Earth Elemental's Petrification. This also highlights a problem with Blood Magic Heroes - when armies start getting really big, they start tapering off in usefulness. You might be able to deal over 4k damage with a spell, but that might hardly place a dent when your own creatures can do just as much. Late-game, you usually want spells not so much for that direct damage/healing component but for the additional effects, so percentage-based spells like Stone Skin or flat effects like Ice Bolt become more favoured. Luckily this doesn't become a real factor till real late in campaigns.
Nebiros is wandering the northern Inferno area, but his army is tough - very, very tough. Nebiros is a high-level Might Hero and his army can soon walk over us since Irina can't zap his away in time. We'll need reinforcements and soon. I send Irina back to town (luckily, Nebiros won't go after us) and wait there for a couple of weeks to build up her army, while Katashi does something else.
There's a whirlpool just southeast of our starting town. There are a few Whirlpools scattered across the map, but the one we're looking to exit from is near the northeast corner of the map, near a little island. That island is special because it's chock full of passive Sanctuary stacks, almost all of which will join us - there are even a couple of stat boosts on that island. The Shark Guards, Kappa and Kenshi all join us for free, but the Yuki-Onna seem to either refuse to join a Hero with a small army like Katashi, or ask for a lot of money. I eventually send Irina back to claim the Yuki-Onna, while Katashi claims everything else.
That's how many creatures Katashi picked up - 300-400+ Kappa Shoya/Wanizame, and a few dozen Kensei. If you'd come here later on in the map, those numbers swell even higher, especially on Hard.
Now we're raring to go to take out Nebiros, which we'll do... next time.