Part 70: Final Campaign (Tears), Part Two
Behind the portal is a small plateau that ultimately doesn't lead to anything intersting, though there is a Shrine of the Seventh Dragon (should you feel a pressing need to level somebody up) and once again, the first Fragment of the Moon Disc. It is possible to get a Tear of Asha on this map, unlike the Blood version.
Back to what we're supposed to do, to progress we need to capture this Fort. For some reason Adira's level got dumbed down to 20 instead of 30 too, making the fight much easier. Capturing the Fort opens up a gate to its north, but there are a couple of quick things of interest around.
Which ultimately amounts to just a Stables, a few stat boosts and our second Fragment.
You might run into a couple of invading Angel Heroes at this point, but nothing you shouldn't be able to handle. In fact, the enemy is surprisingly docile on this map, and as long as you don't dawdle you should only face one or two invasions at the most.
Heading north is the second town to capture. This one is startingly undefended and not very well built up. There isn't a pressing need to do so, either - we'll be picking up another more suitable town soon.
There's also an Amulet of Necromancy just nearby (increases the gain of Necromancy points by 10%), should Kaspar not have a decent neckpiece.
Just keep doing what you're doing, Anastasya. You're doing juuuust fine.
There are a few ways we can go from this town, but the map is fairly small and all ultimately lead to the same place. Heading north brings us to the Forts we need to capture to end this map, and we could head west or east from there to capture a couple of Haven towns. There are also portals to the west and east, each of which lead to a small intermittent plateau before exiting right outside a Haven town. We'll head to the west portal first, but you can do it in any way your wish - a bit of a difference from the straight line of the Blood map.
This is amazing. To walk with the birds... it's as if we were flying. Now I know what it feels like to be a ghost.
Fragments Three and Four are found on the pleateaus through the portals on either side. There's also a Haven Fort each, both lacking a Hero. They should be easy captures.
The two big plot characters of the final map are obviously Cate and Michael. I've said a few times how I've never really been attached to Cate - she's far too cryptic and gives us little emotional investment, popping up briefly in every campaign for a few lines. Even when we fight and kill her in the Blood map, there's little sense of achievement or loss - she was just a named character we'd have to fight. She utterly fails in an attempt to draw us into the fate of the Faceless or a need to stop Michael - at best, she just offends less.
Meanwhile, Kaspar claims the Fort on the other side.
Heading through another portal found on either pleateau drops us off right outside a Haven town. These should be fully upgraded, so convert them and your army strength should get a massive upgrade in one to two weeks.
In theory, Cate should be a character with ties to everyone but Sandor - she is after all the mother of four of our five protaganists, and has close links to Sveltana and Gerhart, which should make her more relatable to Irina, Anton and Anastasya. But she doesn't, and the kind of tenuous, forced relationship most characters have upon seeing her again and her hackneyed excuse of having to leave to find her brother is ultimately boring. Anastasya is really the only one that seems remotely happy to see her again, and only if she's Tears - a Blood Ana is no happier to see her.
Enemy Heroes aren't even a threat anymore. Even if you're playing Kiril (who has arguably one of the harder times on this map), netting perfect wins should be little trouble.
Incidentally, the Tear of Asha is located right near our first town. The additional gold and creature growth bonus is much welcomed, and the special ability should be useful to all but Kiril, but Anastasya and Sandor benefit the most from it - Irina has little need for Frozen effects at this point and Anton should be getting perfect wins anyway.
The Fort we need to capture for the map is blocked off by two gates - we just need to capture one of the Forts on the side to lower one and we can end the map. Capturing one of the Forts also rewards us with a hefty Blood Crystal reward and 15 of our chosen faction's Champion. This only applies to one Fort - you won't get another reward if you capture the other, but there's no harm in doing so anyway.
Even if Cate doesn't have a direct link to Sandor, the writers could certainly have worked one in - we know that Elizabeth strongly disliked Cate, but again nothing stems from her - like most of Sandor's campaign, she becomes a loose end that ultimately disappears in his third map. It seems that they really had two different writers on the campaigns, the better one working on the girls'.
There are also portals north of either Haven town - they don't lead to anywhere special, but there are more Forts to capture and some stat boosts should you want more of them.
Meanwhile, Anastasya captures the second Fort.
As for Michael, I don't think he got as bad a treatment as Cate, but it feels a bit to me like what happened to Kiril at the end of his campaign - of the three Archangels, he seems the most level-headed one, protesting against Slava's death despite Uriel's claims of it being to stop the Faceless. Yet it seems that they've run out of antagonists, and made him do a 180 and into the 'Faceless are evil!' trap that both Uriel and Sarah seemed to be stuck in. Ultimately, I'm just as unattached.
Heading east, we capture another Haven town, and put an end to what little invasions there were. This is really a relatively short map.
I give Kaspar the Putrid Lamasu, because they sponge hits better after the first two rounds and Contagion makes them a nice way to passively reduce enemy creatures' health without needing to attack. Breath of Vermin also deals a decent amount of Earth damage to accelerate it. Specters are still the better choice if facing large enemies, though.
More Forts to capture through the portal to the north of the eastern town.
Phoenixes are immune to Blood skills, so Kaspar has to slowly whittle them down with physical attacks instead. By the way, this also means that if you summon them using the completed Moon Disc, Phoenixes are still immune to beneficial Blood skills, like Pressed Attack, Heroism or Hour of Judgement.
The Phoenixes were guarding an interesting prize - the Skull Ring is supposed to be part of a set that's only found in the Pirates of the Savage Sea campaign. It gratns a free casting of Terror, which is nice if you have nothing better to go in the slot.
The top left plateau has a portal leading to this lonely pleateau as well - nothing of interest again outside of one last stat boost and an Artifact Merchant, if you have a burning need for more of them.
But I think we've stalled enough - let's capture the Hall of Memories already.
<When did you sprout wings?>
I know I can't fly, Bluebeak. And I'm watching my steps. It's not my fault if these pretentious angels choose to build their castles in the sky.
This is almost depressing. Where's the challenge, game? Did two different teams code for the Tears and Blood maps?
I can free the captive souls from the Hall of Memories, but it requires a ritual that is long and complex. I must release every soul, one by one, reciting their names and accomplishments...
This will take days, perhaps a week. I may have to give my life to do this. Do not let me be disturbed!
Asha, hear my eulogy! Free these Angel souls, and admit them to Your presence, so they can be purged from their painful memories, and reborn anew!
Aurora, mother of Michael... mother of Uriel... you were a great and tireless healer... it is time for you to pass on. Gamdriel, son of Siriel... you fought...
So we have a week to twiddle our thumbs with while Cate does her ritual thingamabob. What to do?
Well we can go north to capture the final Haven town - might as well get one last week's worth of growth.
You should make sure your main Hero is fully loaded up with a good army and artifacts, as we won't get a chance to alter them after the week is up. Anastasya has almost 80 Magic Power, which is nice.
When the seventh day has passed...
Wayward child! I tried to turn you from this madness with threats and with reason.
Now, only your death will suffice. So be it.
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!
Hey, it's the exact same conversation. Except Cate's last line makes even less sense now.
Click here to listen to the conversation!
Ashan will be covered in Darkness... and you wage battle with me out of vengeance?!
I killed your brother... he deserved what he got. It's not the same with you, Michael. But your soul is weary... you've lived too long.
I've only lost one battle, child, and it was against the Faceless Master of Shadows. What makes you think you'll match even a fraction of his powers?
You're not alone in that body, Michael. You share it with a Duke of Griffin. Pavel will not let you kill someone he loves.
Interestingly, Michael is more antagonistic to some of the other children, openly berating Sandor and the Orcs for being uncivilised and Irina for being so bloodthirsty. I haven't played it with Anton yet, though.
Let's do this.
Final Boss Battle (2): Michael
We're immediately launched into the fight against Michael with no time to prepare. If your main Hero loses, it's considered a Game Over. We'll set up in a manner similiar to that we used against Uriel.
After a lackluster trek, Michael is finally a fight worthy of the final map. While he has significantly less health than Cate and even Uriel, he's no less of a challenge.
- Michael shares two abilities in common with Uriel. One is Absolute Purity, shielding him from all negative effects. Like Uriel, Michael hits fairly hard and without retaliation, but not to the extent Uriel did - his true threat comes from his other abilities.
- Michael starts with ten Michael's Guard stacks, which move and act similiar to Glories, dealing Light damage and teleporting and attacking without retaliation. However, despite their appearances, they aren't weak to Dark, and they don't have the 'return to original position' Glories and Furies have. They just have one passive ability, which is to take 10% of any damage done to Michael. This means at the start, any damage done to Michael is split evenly among his Guards. Once one goes down, 90% is split among the remaining nine, and so on. You can of course target the Guards directly to kill them faster, as they have considerable health.
- While Michael doesn't have Uriel's Fanaticism, Divine Presence or Mass Ressurection, he has a few similiar abilities. Improved Word of Light fully heals his elementals and hits all our stacks for 5% of total health. Zone of Holy Blades creates a 3x3 area that increases damage of friendly creatures (including himself) by 50%.
- His most threatening move, however, is Last Wish. Michael only uses it when at least one of his guards is dead, causing an explosion of light from the corpse (like the Sunburst spell), dealing 12,500 Light damage to all creatures affected. This also hits his own guards and himself, though Michael tends to take only about 6,000. Still, the damage is extremely potent, especially when you take into account three factions (Stronghold, Inferno, Necropolis) take increased damage from Light attacks. Even for the Sanctuary and Haven, the damage is immense - it kills about 40 Celestials, for instance.
- Michael has two turns like any Boss. If he can't cast Last Wish for any reason, he might use Avenging Wrath, giving him an additional turn per round.
Your strategy against Michael will vary greatly depending on your faction. For ranged-heavy factions like the Necropolis, you might want to bunch them up, but this also makes Last Wish even more deadly. Here are some general tips:
- Sandor has a rough time against Michael, with the Orcs taking 10% increased damage from Light attacks - brutal beatdowns are the best way to quickly end the fight. Might over Magic is brilliant against Michael, as it signficantly reduces the damage of his Guards, Zone of Holy Blades and Last Wish for two rounds. Note that a Magic Sandor can abuse the infinite Petrification trick against Michael using the Panther Warriors and All-around Slash for a perfect win, but it takes significantly longer because of it being dependent on Might damage rather than Magic.
- For Irina, Sacred Kirins, Hailstorm Aura, Petrification, perfect win. Tsunami also stuns all the Guards for two rounds, making this fight even easier. If you're using a Might Irina this fight is siginificantly harder, but Eye of the Storm is a great way to preserve your Sacred Kirins for a round or two - you should also have the Guardian Breasplate, protecting you from a further three attacks.
- Anton, like Irina, has the Guardian Breastplate. Anton is the best choice for turtling against Michael, as Celestials have the best health, especially in conjunction with Guardian Angel IV and Martyr. A Magic Anton could use the infinite Petrification trick with Blazing Glories, as they don't invoke retaliation, but it's still a very slow process. Anton as a Confessor also has access to Resurrection and Divine Intervention, both excellent tools for preserving units.
- A Might Kiril is against an uphill battle, as the demons take 20% increased damage from Light and Kiril's Tears abilities are near useless against Last Wish, so he has the hardest fight here. You really have to hit hard and fast using the Cerberi to take out his guards quickly, and Lilim's Rapture of Agony help to expediete Michael's death. Like the other three Heroes, a Magic Kiril can use the infinite Petrification trick, this time with Pit Lords and Boundless Hate, for a perfect win.
- Anastasya, like Kiril and Sandor, takes increased damage from Light, and the turtling strategy the Necropolis often employs just makes them sitting ducks for Last Wish. Necromancy IV is very important here due to its resurrection factor, and your creatures will die a lot. Sacrifice-Petrification is also great for giving you two important free turns to wail on Michael. A Might Ana has just a tough a time as Kiril, and you really have to rely on Necromancy a lot. Ana is more or less the only Hero that can't abuse the infinite Petrification - you can, in theory, do it with Vampire Lords and Out of Time, but it's such a slow process you're likely to run out of Mana first.
I think overall, Michael is more difficult than Cate, but a Magic Hero can trivialize either - Cate's Fatigue abiltiy is annoying, but so are Michael's Guards, and they both can deal gabs of damage. Michael is more difficult though since you're on a timer as soon as you capture the Fort, but you could take as much time as you need before doing so.
And so, it ends... for more than one.
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.
I guess the ritual did kill Cate after all. Oh well.
The end... or is it?