Part 68: Final Campaign (Blood), Part ThreeExtra long update today, as we finish off both of the remaining factions.
First, Valeksa takes a bit of time to take out the stacks guarding the third Moon Fragment, found near the Fort where we beat Tohunga.
Crikes, sometimes you forget how much damage Vestals are actually capable of.
Our next opponent is the Haven. This means we won't have to convert anything this time round.
And right near the stairs is our first town of this new territory.
The Haven can be especially annoying because of Guardian Angel forcing you to delay your turns. Even Guardian Angel IV isn't a big threat because of the healing factor (unless it's on Celestials), but the immunity is just pesky. But then again, we've also been using it to cheese the AI, so I guess that's fair turnabout?
There's relatively little in this part compared to the first two, so we'll just move onto the rest of the Haven territory through this staircase. I think there's also a Golden Horseshoe around here (+8 Destiny), which is also nice.
The last Moon Disc Fragment is here, should you have a burning desire to summon three more Phoenixes - but you're better off filling those slots with Golden Horseshoes and/or or Crests of Leaderships.
Enemy Hero armies start to get bigger, and enemy Celestials start becoming really annoying because of their sturdiness and Guardian Angel. Our Imperial Griffins start to become really useful as meatshields especially coupled with a Reinforcements II (Sun Crusaders also work, but are far weaker on the Magic Defense side). Chain Lightning, if the Heroes carry them, start being very tiresome to heal as well.
Our Mini-Boss for this section is Jorgen, no longer Faceless, but we'll hold off on a second as we capture the Haven's second town first.
Not much to say about this one - with this the Haven is pretty much done. It's a quick section. Now back to Jorgen.
The map is offically done with holding our hand. Jorgen's army is larger than ours is.
Jorgen's biggest threat, as you might imagine, are his Glories, both for their blinding ability and the huge amounts of damage they'll do, especially against low Magic Defense units like Sun Crusaders. As one might expect, being a Magic Hero, Jorgen also knows some annoying spells, like Petrification, Lightning Bolt, and Chain Lightning. Try to take his Glories out of the fight early, either using Searing Light or a Petrification/Blindness of your own. If you try to finish off his stack first, remember his Celestials can resurrect them once, and his Vestals' Heal is extremely powerful, strong enough to recover about 50-60+ Glories in a single cast.
While Jorgen's huge Marksmen stack sounds like a problem, one should focus on his Celestials, Sun Crusaders and Vestals first - Celestials are hideously hardy and will block your ranged units well, Sun Crusaders avoid retaliation, and if left alone Jorgen's Vestals are very powerful and can deal many thousands of damage. Luckily Vestals are very fragile. If you compare my two screenshots you'll see I've already lost 30+ Sun Crusaders.
I couldn't even Guardian Angel IV enough to keep up. You'd really need a Magic Hero to be able to heal off all the damage.
Jorgen also drops a shield which increases the gain of Guardian Angel by 10% - it's nice for a Haven Hero but you have to debate if it's worth giving up a potential set item set or the Emerald Yumi Bow for it.
Ahhh... This light... My soul... There is no absolute truth... Malassa, cover me in your darkness.
The barrier to the last guardians opens near the first Haven town we captured, and we get a whopping 50 of your faction's Champion - so I got 50 Celestials. Score!
Alright, I take back what I said about Valeska - I doubt I'd have been able to pull off perfect wins against armies of this size with Airini. Bless Guardian Angel.
The Necropolis starts invading very quickly, but their armies are laughable compared to the Haven's - with the Guardian Breastplate, you should have no problem powering through them.
There's a Necropolis Fort early on in this new territory that's defended by an extremely weak army.
Then a second manages to also be defended by an equally unimpressive army.
The Necropolis isn't really putting up much of the fight, huh? This is the first and last of their Towns.
Hey guys, Imperial Griffins' decent all-around bulk and Unlimited Retaliation finally came in handy! About time, too.
Valeska grabs her last level up for the map. I guess she's not as bad as I initially thought thanks to the Vestal/Guardian Angel combo, though I still think she's the second worst of the five Magic secondary Heroes.
Our last Mini-Boss is... Ishtvan. Huh, I was expecing Haffayad for some reason.
It's a really good thing the game gave us those 50 Celestials - Ishtvan's army is tough. This map really deserves to be a final map, as you just end up in these long slugfests that are actually pretty challenging. We haven't had real fights like these since Uriel, and for all my griping I actually do like being forced on my toes once in a while.
Ishtvan has very well-balanced Might and Might Defense stats, and his short spell list consists of Mass Drain Life, Despair and Mass Despair. The last two aren't a threat to me because of my high Morale, but you'll want to dispel the first if possible because it just makes a long battle even longer. While one should be able to take out Ishtvan's Archliches early (and they should), aside from them, Ishtvan's two most dangerous stacks are the Vampire Lords and Fate Weavers. I break out the full army (sans Vestals), and it really helps to Reinforce your chosen meatshield stack (in this case Imperial Griffins). Ishtvan's Putrid Lamasu are also dangerous if left alone, as they will just sap your units' Health away.
It's to our benefit Ishtvan isn't a Magic Hero, as that'd just make him much more annoying to deal with, but don't take this battle lightly, either. Technically, Ishtvan's army doesn't grow, so you could just come back after a few weeks and walk over him, but that's no fun.
Far too many losses for my liking too, geez. Over ninety Sun Crusaders lost, man.
I tire of this battle! It's time for some merited rest!
You know, I really wish they had made more in-depth conversations for these. I wanted to see Irina angrily confront Mukao or Anton say farewell to Jorgen or Ishtvan again.
First, though, we're gonna have to fix up our army first. I don't want to face Cate without recouping some of our losses.
The Haven's Altar of Resurrection allows one to bring back slain Vestals, Sun Crusaders and Celestials within a week for a price. Which is great, since I could really use those Sun Crusaders back.
Now, let's go through those final steps to face Cate.
Click here to listen to the conversation!
You have doomed Ashan to destruction! You will let the Faceless cover the world in shadow!
You're the one that toppled the Balance. You broke the Twillight Convenant. You bred humans like prize dogs! You used MY children as puppets!
Our vessels were faithful followers of Elrath, and willing to accept our souls!
But look what your foolishness has wrought. The Faceless, too, have gained new allies and imbued them with a shard of their essence!
Click here to listen to the conversation!
Mother, I cannot let you awaken the Faceless. Surrender to me.
Anton. The angels are increasing their numbers... souls meant to pass on now fly the skies of Ashan. They've tipped the balance between Light and Darkness that we've fought four centuries to maintain. I must restore it.
And I cannot let you bring Darkness back into the world.
Follow your heart!
You know, if Irina was here she'd have a far more interesting conversation with Cate about their similiar forced (almost) marriages to Gerhart. And I still find Cate to be a boring character that just spouts platos randomly, even in these final moments.
Malassa! The spirit of Sar-Bodon calls you in my name.
...Oh. Geez. Slava made four children while bonking THAT?
Final Boss Fight (1): Daughter of Malassa
I swap in the Vestals over the Glories for this fight. In hindsight, I should probably have used the Glories over the Sun Crusaders or Imperial Griffins, but the Glories die far more easily because of their innate weakness to Darkness.
Cate's offensive power isn't nearly as high as some other Bosses we've seen (Uriel, Breeder Queen and Azkaal all had higher), but she still has some pesky tricks up her sleeves.
For starters, Cate has 180,000 Health, the highest of any Boss in the game. Her defenses are high, and she doesn't move from her spot except for a single attack (detailed later), though she has 99 Movement for some reason. She has a single-target Purge that removes all positive buffs from one stack and prevents them from being buffed or healed for 2 turns, and doesn't consume one of her two turns a round.
The Daughter of Malassa has a standard physical attack she'll whip out against enemies close to her that isn't too threatening, but her main mode of attack and the most dangerous one is a dark breath attack that acts like the Marksmen's Piercing Bolts - it hits all enemy stacks in the direction of her attack for massive damage, and it seems to have a bit of a splash effect that causes it to hit more targets than it should. Check out that screenshot - the Guardian Breastplate seriously saved me over 18,000 damage before the Marksmen finally took lost about half its starting size. And this is only the first turn.
One of her most irritating parts is her innate Fatigue ability, which reduces the damage of enemy stacks that attack her in melee by 40%, and stacks up to two times (so a total 80% damage reduction). This can't be dispelled, and lasts two turns. Ranged attacks, 'attack and return' attacks (like Glories and Furies), and special abilities (like Hailstorm Aura and All-Around Slash) don't trigger it. Celestials, being immune to all negative effects, are also immune to it. This means that the Celestials will be our main source of damage in this fight. Marksmen, Darkness Elementals and Glories can also bypass it, while Imperial Griffins can use Battle Dive every four rounds, but Marksmen will die very quickly here, as you can see.
The Vestals' Heal or Coral Priestesses' Waves of Renewal really come into their own here, as you can heal up hundreds of units by now. Sandor or Kiril really dislike this fight, due to their units' emphasis on melee damage.
There are two main challenges in this fight - overcoming the Fatigue debuff, and minimizing the damage from her Dark Breath attack. You can bring everyone in close like against the Breeder Queen, forcing her to use her melee swipes. Cate isn't immune to Drain Life or Weakness, so a Hero with access to Darkness Magic can greatly stunt her damage. Inner Fire and Heroism help to make up the damage penalty of Fatigue, too. Anton's Hour of Judgement in particular helps greatly - at this point it's a 60% damage increase for one turn for everyone, which helps a lot.
Cate has only one method of moving - she'll fly up in the air, and summon a small stack of Darkness Elementals beside every stack on the battlefield, then come back down again on another spot at the end of the turn. This is a bit of a breather, as the Elementals are of no threat at all - the only pesky thing about them is that they dispell effects when they hit, so it's basically a way for Cate to remove your buffs.
Heroism? Check. Inner Fire? Check. Celestials can't have their damage reduced, and have a 86% chance of a critical hit.
Eat it, Cate.
My Celestials managed to fully resurrect my Marksmen before the end of battle, but I lost my Praetorians soon after.
By the way, here's an alternative strategy for this fight:
1. Use Irina
2. Sacred Kirins, Hailstorm Auras, and the Petrification trick.
3. Perfect win.
Goons never let me have any fun.
Click here to listen to the conversation!
Cate, Duchess of Griffin, Wife of Slava... and Dragon Knight of Malassa! We come to bury you in the tomb of your ancestors beside your husband. It is here that you belong.
<I miss you, Cate.>
We are not here today to honor you for your role as proud member of the Griffin dynasty and valiant guardian of Ashan, but for that as an able mother to your children - who must continue their flight after your passage.
You followed your heart in all things - and that is how you will be remembered.
Man, I bet Sandor is just shuffling his feet awkwardly, especially if he was the one to kill Cate.
And that concludes the Blood map! Next time, we'll do the Tears side.