Part 67: Final Campaign (Blood), Part Two
I've never seen a place cloaked in such darkness. Elrath... guide us.
With the Sanctuary defeated, we're moving onto the Stronghold portion of the map. Surprisingly, we'll be facing mostly Magic Heroes rather than Might ones.
There are a lot of powerful high-end artifacts on this map. Even if you're playing the Inferno or Necropolis and thus have no access to Advanced Marketplaces, it's likely whatever you're hurting for can be found lying around guarded by neutral creatures. Here we have the Emerald Yumi Bow - perfect for when we go siege battles and using our Marksmen. It takes the place of Anton's Sentinel Shield, but only when we need it.
Geez Anton, that's a lot of damage! It's a critcal strike, sure, but that 65+ Might is really showing.
Just like the last part of the map, enemy Heroes will start coming quite early, and most likely with armies that are high in number compared to yours. Fortunately, none of them have Reputation bonuses and their stats are comparitively low. Rangi here has +2 Movement for Harpies and Furies, but that's not a major issue with the Guardian Breastplate and Intimidation (just remember to heal off the damage actually caused by their Hero attacks).
This part of the map is shorter than the Sanctuary part - this is one of only two Forts, and there are two Towns to be captured.
Right below it are a copy of the Bracers of the Freemage - these give +6 Magic Power and a one-use of the Implosion spell per battle. If Anton didn't already have on the Gauntlets of the Giant Slayer (+6 Might Power and the Giant Slayer ability) he'd be using these. Valeska would like them, though.
Speaking of Valeska, there's a nice Robe of Sar-Issus back in the Sanctuary area that she's going to claim. It halves the Mana cost of all spells, which is amazing even if you already have Meditation. Katashi and Valeska don't get the Magister set and the Prophet chestpiece only boosts Mana and Magic Defense, so this is a worthy replacement.
Earth Elementals + Fire spells + Immolation are doing alright for now, but I need to find a better strategy for her soon. Neutral stacks are only going to get larger from here on...
And they're not going to skimp on Champions so you can just Intimidation your way through, either. There are 40 Cyclopes in this one - if you haven't been collecting stat boosts throughout the campaign and have a good stat of your Hero's specialty (Might or Magic Power), you'd have trouble. But since this is the Blood campaign, you should have it in spades.
And check that sweet Marksmen damage. Ignoring 35% of Might Defense is an amazing ability to have against Champions.
Anton's Heroism is also so powerful that it adds about +40 each to Morale and Destiny - combined with the already high Leadership of the Guardian Set, and just a single casting is enough to always guaranteee Morale turns for Celestials and about a 75% chance of scoring lucky hits. And that damage is lower than the Marksmen but still really great when you consider there are only six of them for now.
Oh, the second piece of the Moon Disc is also here, if you wanted it.
As you head south, the path branches to a few directions. The two southern ones lead to a Stronghold town each, which should be guarded by Shamans. As you can see, their armies are still fairly high... plus they're Magic Heroes.
The Shamans all have a similiar spell list - they all have Blindness and Terror, and likely a defensive spell or two, most probably Stone Skin (Mass). Even Rangi from earlier had Mass Stone Skin as well. Erika here also comes with Fire Bolt and gains bonuses to it, which is strong enough to take out two Seraphs/Celestials in a single go. If you're using a Might Hero, hopefully you have enough Magic Power for Regeneration/Heal to tide you over (or you can use Drain Life if you're not Haven/Sanctuary). I'm also using Marksmen here because they not only synergize well with the Emerald Yumi Bow, have great damage and are easy to Guardian Angel, but they also force the Hero to use up turns Blinding/Terrorizing them instead of slinging damage at my Celestials, who are harder to heal. The additional chance of Morale is also nice for filling up Guardian Angels.
Not perfect, but I'm not really expecting them so much as minimizing losses.
From here on, towns you capture should be fully built, so they make a great boost to your town growth as long as you can keep up enough resources to convert them (you should be afford to trade enough Gold to Crystal if you need them).
I think I may have finally found a tactic for Valeska as well that works decently. Damage taken by summoned Elementals will easily fill up the Guardian Angel gauge - using the Wait trick, Vestals are easy to Guardian Angel and can then use their great damage against neutral stacks, ducking back behind re-summoned stacks if necessary. Earth Elementals are fantastic for this, as they can survive longer (thus spending more turns filling up Guardian Angels) and can Petrify the Vestals to give them a turn or two of invulnerability if you can't fill up GA in time. Valeksa also contributes with her Fire spells, though battles can still take a while.
The results speak for themselves though, especially when you consider she had less than a hundred Vestals. The Robe of Sar-Issus helps immensely. Valeska also starts with the Haste spell, which you can also use to spend a turn or two running away (it boosts Movement and Initiative) while waiting for Elemental spells to recharge.
She still can't handle shooters right now though, hmm. Maybe I can give her a single Glory for that Initiative boost.
The second Stronghold town is in the southwest of this region. Arrio here boosts Stone Skin rather than Fire Bolt, so he's slightly easier to deal with. Taking it also means we're free of invasions till we move onto the next part of the map.
South of that town are a set of Ruins with an extremely nice reward for clearing it - 200(!) Darkness Elementals. These are an immensely strong damage output. I could give them to Valeska like what I did for Xana... but I think Anton makes far better use of them.
To progress, we need to head to these stairs in the east. There are another set of stairs near the right Stronghold town, but we'll be barred if we try to go any further now. The stairs lead through a couple passageways, the only really notable thing being a Mana Vortex.
The fort must be taken to bring this foul alliance of Darkness to its knees.
And our mini-boss of this part is Tohunga. If you've forgotten completely who he is, I did the same thing and had to go check - he was the leader of the Orcs in Kiril's third map (AKA the boring one where absolutely nothing of importance happened).
...Poor Sandor. He gets ignored completely after his campaign finishes, doesn't show up in any other campaign endings, doesn't even show up in the opening cinematic of the final campaign. Even any characters associated with him (Elisabeth, Kraal) lose any relevance to the plot after his campaign. They couldn't even find a villian from his campaign to represent the Orcs for the Faceless - even the Sanctuary had Mukao. Goons didn't even get him a single vote.
This fight takes place inside a Fort - all the remaning mini-bosses do as well. So the Emerald Yumi Bow goes on. I deploy the Celestials, Marksmen, Glories and Darkness Elementals - everything else would just be taking damage and I'd have to split healing efforts. I haven't even used Praetorians since I got Seraphs.
Tohunga packs all the similiar spells of his Shaman bretheren - Blindness and Terror in particular, and he will use them to stun stacks like Marksmen and Darkness Elementals that do lots of damage. He will also use Mass Stone Skin, and I think he also knows Mass Drain Life. He also holed up his Enraged Cyclops in the tower, which is bad since they can hit for full range for Magic Damage under a Magic Hero. Marksmen should be able to take them out in a few attacks, but you might need to Guardian Angel IV them a couple of times (GA also protects them from the Immolation-like Burning Rage effect of the Enraged Cyclopes' attacks). If you have any form of Summon Elemental spells, they're also good to block his Centaur Marauders. Remember that Panther Warriors become immune to Mind effects after they first deal damage, so if you want to use Intimidation, do it before they have a chance to do any damage.
It's not an extremely tough fight, but expect some losses if you're a Might Hero. I'm going to miss those four Celestials.
We spare them one more night! Fall back!
With the Stronghold down, next time we should take on the Haven, and most likely the Necropolis as well.