Part 54: Haven Campaign, Map Three, Part OneMaybe you've forgotten we've only done two of Anton's maps! Or maybe you've forgotten about Anton. I don't blame you.
Tempt Not A Desperate Man posted:
After surpressing a civil war within his Duchy, and setting to rest the ghosts he had awoken, Anton has also learned to master the voices that plagued him since he was a child. The Blood Moon eclipse has confirmed the prophecy of the Blind Brothers and now Demons of Sheogh have invaded the unprepared land of Ashan. Anton has been sent to the Duchy of Wolf, to come to the aid of his father's arch-rival, Duke Gerhart.
Click here to listen to the conversation!
I need you to go to Flammschrein and settle a dispute with the Naga. They've defeated two legions of Demons down there, and now it seems tht they're claiming the Wolf Duchy as a war prize. However there is a Celestial Shrine there that is in critical for reinforcements. Can I count on you?
Is this a diplomatic mission?
Talk to them if you think it will do any good. But if they don't listen, kick their scaly hides back into the Jade Sea. This is no time for redefining borders. Ashan fights for survival!
I don't like this, Duke Anton. Our scouts report signs of battle everywhere. The Demons are gone, but the Naga remain.
Valeska immediately joins us as the Blood secondary Hero. But before we take a look, let's see the consequences of a Tears Anton, where Valeska is no longer there and instead, Kilburn rides up:
Kilburn! I was afraid you had passed on...
Duke Anton. I have been touched by Elrath. Cleansed of my guilt, I am back to thank you and to serve you.
And Kilburn joins us as the Tears Hero. We'll look at them both, starting with Kilburn because he's marginally more boring.
Born to a noble family in the Unicorn Duchy, Lord Kilburn grew up a happy, privileged child, gifted with a single, peculiar talent: a meticulous eye for detail.
Entertaining palour tricks - counting the number of buttons on a lady's dress in the blink of an eye, stating how many flagons of ale the serving lad had spilled over the night, for example - were the harmless fruits of this ability until the Inquisition enlisted Kilburn's help in the wake of the Blind Brothers' prophecy heralding the return of the Facless, the dreaded children of Malassa the Dragon of Darkness.
Unquestionably drawing up detailed lists of the hundreds upon hundreds of common folk he had encountered during travels through Imperial lands, Lord Kilburn's jovial nature was shattered when he realized his lists were being used to round up suspected Faceless on evidence as scant as the presence of a black cat.
Trivia: the Unicorn Duchy would be the future homeland of HoMM V main characters Gordric and Freyda.
That does sound like a useful power to have, actually. Super counting ability?
Kilburn is somewhat reminiscient of the classic Paladin, which is fitting since we first met him associated with Sun Riders. Similiarly, he comes with a surprising number of Light Magic spells already under his belt. He's not super great in battle, but he's competent enough for a starting secondary Hero.
Now onto Valeska. I like how you guys managed to somehow pick Magic Heroes for everybody, really makes my job a lot easier.
Once a Priestess of Elrath tasked with the education of Slava's children, Valeska found herself banished from the Duchy of Griffin for betraying Duke Slava after he rejected an Imperial decree - an act of profound treason in her unforgiving eyes.
Humililated and furious, Valeska turned to the Inquisition, an ideal refuge for one seeking a renenwed sense of purpose - and suitable opportunity to vent their anger.
Now, however, whereas Valeska's devoition to Elrath hasn't waned, her ire towards Slava has, and she wishes to elicit her pardon.
Valeska isn't really suited for battling, as she starts off with Might stats even worse than Xana's. Oddly, she has several points in non-combat skills, such as Diplomacy, Pathfinding and the Economist I/II skills. Her only starting combat moves are Evasive Maneuvers (largely useless for her), and her few Fire spells. While she doesn't start off with Fire Power like Xana, her Blood reputation makes her Fire Bolt/Fire Ball spells decent enough to let her through a few early battles. Oddly, her specialization, Master of Light, is useless at first because she doesn't even know any Light spells (maybe Kilburn took them all). Even her reputation ability, Holy Blades isn't of much use since it really only comes into play with a large army, which we won't be giving her anytime soon. Valeska's not of much use past the opening part of this map till she starts gaining levels (and we can start feeding her the usual powerful Magic skills), but at least she can sit in town and help development.
With the introductions done, let's talk about this map. Anton faces off against the Naga in this map, making it one of the few maps from here on that don't deal with the Demons. There isn't a strict instruction on where to go, and we can either head south or east. East is generally preferable, as the invasions only come from the east. This map isn't really that difficult, as enemy stack sizes are small and the Sanctuary never get Champions. It would be laughably easy if it weren't for their Magic Heroes.
Immediately to the east, we can find a friendly Hero standing in front of a neutral town.
You're far from the capitol. Shouldn't you be defending the Emperor?
He sent me to find a detachment of Seraphim that are long overdue from Flammschrein.
Come with me. We're going to the same place.
We get a scant amount of Marksmen and Praetorians after that. I pass my Sisters to Valeska, as they're a liability before being upgraded and Anton does better with the Sentinels and Crossbowmen anyway. Valeska won't be using them for fighting so much as needing something to be there so she can fire off her Fire Balls.
I'll be honest; I'm usually really bad with the Haven faction. It's a bit of a shame, as I've taken more of a liking to them recently, but I've never really been able to find a way to make them shine like other factions. Their units are sound and I can see how they would work in theory, but I've never really been able to get them to be amazing in practice.
Pressed Attack is how you should be steamrolling past most of these early battles. With Assailant I/II/III Anton's physical attacks demolish most early stacks, and with decent Morale your Crossbowmen gets 2 Pressed Attacks off. On the offchance they survive Anton's Pressed Attack but the Crossbowmen finish them off, then they trigger Cleave and Anton gets to hit a second or third target. You can forego Reinforcements in most of these early matches, which is fine since you'll get more Blood points and it's nice to be playing a bit more aggresive in contrast to 'Reinforcements/Regeneration/Intimidation' all the time.
Once we've captured the Haven town...
I have terrible news, Duke Anton. The Naga have captured the Wolf Capitol and killed Duke Gerhart!
The Wolf Duchy has fallen. Without Duke Gerhart they were easy prey for the Naga.
Are you certain that Gerhart is dead?
I have recieved three separate reports claiming that he was killed by a Naga general. The flag of Hashima, the Jade empire, now flies over the capitol and over Flammschreim.
Our definition of terrible news differs... but we cannot allow the Naga to pillage one of our duchies.
In this matter, my sympathies are with the invaders.
Hee! Glad to see that the Griffin kids have a common hatred of Gerhart, at least. And word of Irina's victory's been going around!
We can start clearing the area around our town while building it up. That's probably another point with the Haven I've never been good at - I don't know what to prioritize. Glories are great but they lack power, Sun Riders are hardy and so are Griffins, while Marksmen and Praetorians are both fantastic Cores that work well together. You could even go with Vestals for crowd control and healing, so I have no idea where to go usually, whereas with the other factions you can usually beeline for something right off the bat (Inferno gets Cerberi and Lilim, Stronghold Furies, Sanctuary Coral Priestesses and Kensei while Necropolis gets Archliches).
There is an abundance of mines just nearby, including a Crystal Mine, a Gold Mine, and two Ore Pits and three Sawmills. You won't be lacking in resources early on yet.
Valeska might be weak, but at least the starting stacks are pitifully low enough that she can handle most of them. She's not very good at dealing with shooters, but for walkers with low movement they tend to bunch up after a turn or two that she can incinerate a good lot of them with Fire Ball.
I think one conflicting factor I've found with the Haven is that some things just don't synergize as well as one'd like. Griffins are a good example - they have Unlimited Retaliation and are hardy, but being one of the only two factions that lack Drain Life, they can't keep taking hits continuously. At least the Sanctuary have a potent heal in the form of Waves of Renewal and Ice Armor to chill melee attackers.
Guardian Angel is a poor mechanic, as its effect doesn't improve with higher levels, unlike every other faction ability. It also invalidates the Unlimited Retaliations of the Griffins - the only real use I've found with it other than absorbing retaliations is to cast it on Praetorians that are guarding several stacks, allowing them to redirect large amounts of damage for free. Similiarly, the Praetorian's ability to split damage is less useful since the Haven lacks a potent mass heal ability if they aren't a Magic Hero, as the Vestal's Heal isn't very strong, can only heal one target at a time, and they only have two charges. The Haven doesn't have a building like the Shrine of Celestial Waters, so they can't boost it, either.
That's a really odd case of model clipping there, Valeska. Or is your horse throwing you off in sheer celebration? She seems to be the only Hero that does this, and consistently, too.
We can also find our first Fragment of the Moon Disc early on...
And our second one soon after. Both guarding stacks should be easy for Anton.
There's also a Haven Fort just nearby our town. Valeska was carrying some Marksmen to deliver to Anton, but I had her capture this one. Fire Ball is fantastic in sieges, and the Marksmen's Piercing Shots work well here. They finish off the Goblins, and a Fire Bolt takes out the Maulers next turn.
I know this early map is making Valeska seem surprisingly competent, but she would start phasing out of usefulness really quickly on most maps. It's just that this one has really weak stacks.
And say hello to the only spanner in the works of an otherwise easy map - Sanctuary Magic Heroes. These are very annoying early on due to the Kappa's speed (Glories are the only things early on that can match them for speed). They also start off with at least two high-level spells - this one had Chain Lightning and Circle of Winter, which are heavily detrimental to the usual Haven tactic of 'group everything around Praetorians'.
The best way to fight them early on is in the safety of a Fort, and deploy only a single strong Marksmen stack and Praetorians to buffer the damage. As tempting as it might be to split your Praetorians to reduce damage further, the Magic Heroes' area of effect spells quickly ruin that strategy. Take out their Priestesses first, then your Marksmen are mostly safe while Anton takes out their Kappa, before finishing off their Shark Guards. You'll want to take them out sooner rather than later, as they can wreak havoc given just a few turns and Anton does not have the healing power to avoid large losses. Granted, a Magic Anton would be laughing all over this map.
We'll end off this update with one of the two new units this map - the upgraded Sun Rider, which I'd just gotten to building their dwelling for.
A Sun Crusader is a Sun Rider who has accepted a Holy Quest. This is a personal pact made with Elrath that generally involves thwarting a particular enemy or finding a particular object. Once the oath has been sworn, the Crusader rarely remains sedentary and often becomes a knight errant, dedicated to the pursuit of his quest. In times of war, the Holy Emperor recalls the Crusaders to protect the realm. This commitment, made by all Crusaders, takes priority over their personal quests.
Sun Crusader Damage: 14-16 (Might) Defense: 22 (39%) Magic Defense: 11 (23%) Health: 95 Initiative: 40 Movement: 6 (Walking) Range: None Destiny: 7 Morale: 12 Cost: 1410 + 1 Crystal Growth: 2/week Abilities: Large Creature, Blinding Charge, Sun Steed, Living
Blinding Charge posted:
May Elraths Light guide you swiftly on to your next life! Prepare to meet your Dragon-god!
The war cry of the Sun Crusader Baron Bernard has been passed down from generation to generation and exemplifies more than anything the tremendous amount of time he had to smite his enemies while he charged down upon them. It is said that his armor and shield reflected the light of the sun, creating a beacon that singled out the target of his wrath, blinding his adversaries. It was considered by many to be a merciful power, as it gave its victims a brief moment to prepare their soul for the transition from life to death.
The Sun Crusader's attacks, aside from getting a 10% damage increase from each tile moved before attacking like the Sun Riders', now also have No Retaliation as long as they've moved at least one tile before attacking.
Sun Steed posted:
The Sun Crusader has attained a level of faith in Elrath that links his own determination to that of the Dragon-God of Light. No obstacle may impede him from attacking the target his pure heart has decided must be vanquished. His mount is momentarily transformed into light, and like some holy wraith, allows the rider to go anywhere and through anything for a brief and devastating moment. This power alone has changed the art of warfare on Ashan over the last centuries for a Sun Crusader may flank an opposing army by simply charging straight through the enemy lines.
Sun Steed is usable every three turns. Aside from having a ridiculous sounding name, it allows the Sun Crusader to remove all Movement impairing movements from himself, and pass through walls, obstacles and other stacks for one turn.
Sun Crusaders are pretty amazing creatures... as long as they can move. And luckily, they're really good at doing that. They're extremely tough on the physical side, having large amounts of health and Might Defense. Low damage is easily patched up with Blinding Charge, which now has an amazing effect of bypassing retaliation. Most walker stacks have two crippling flaws - movement impairing effects affect them greatly, and they hate siege battles. Sun Steed solves both of those problems, and makes the Sun Crusader a force to be reckoned with even in siege battles. This also means all of the Haven's Elite creatures are of use in siege battles, making them one of the better factions to handling them.
They have really only a few flaws - their low Magical Defense is one. The second is that Sun Steed has a 3 turn cooldown, as when the Sun Crusader is slowed or Frozen in between Sun Steeds, his effectively sharply diminishes. A third is that their faction doesn't synergize as well with them as compared to Kensei, as I've already mentioned earlier. Guardian Angel isn't much use on a unit that bypasses retaliation already and is already quite hardy (so Honor would have been better for them). Praetorians can't work as well since the Sun Crusaders are moving all over the place. And Marksmen always have the risk of hitting them with Piercing Bolts, especially since they're dancing all over the place (though now that Marksmen can opt not to use Piercing Bolt, that problem isn't so dire anymore). Still, they're a great creature, and are much better in execution than the Imperial Griffins.
Next time, more Naga! More easily walked over towns! And more by Anton and his motley crew.