Jarenth Plays: Warlock: Master of the Arcane — Episode 5: Calling All Goblins

In the previous installment of Insert Warlock Joke Here, I managed to make a routine city siege last over fourteen turns. While a large part of my army was tied up in this time-wasting, money-draining venture to capture an incredibly sub-prime piece of real estate, my AI enemies grew, expanded and generally became more dangerous. Really, it’s high time I start doing something about this.

So who wants to bet I spend this episode dicking around instead? I still have a Mystic Portal to explore, after all! Come on, come all, place your bets now.

It may not be worth much, but it's *mine*.

Last episode I captured the city of Inver-On-Linn. Given that this city has four inhabitants and only one current building, I can start the rebuilding effort immediately. So let’s do that, now.

Inver-On-Linn’s most interesting feature is the Elven Village resource. I can use this to build either an Elven Casino, increasing city gold production by 50%, or an Elven Bungalow, which allows me to recruit various bow-wielding pointy-ears. Now, while in a normal game this would be a snap decision (Elves, ew!), I feel the need to stress that Inver-On-Linn is not a very efficient city. It has only five squares available to it, and one of these is a Farm while another is the aforementioned Elven Village. Which I haven’t mentioned yet, I guess: you can only build an applicable Special Resource building on a Special Resource square. So it’s going to be either the Casino, the Bungalow, or flat-out nothing.

With that in mind, I opt to make Inver-On-Linn a little more utilitarian and expand my range of troop options. Elven Bungalow it is!

I had to force myself to click that button.

Now, back to the plan at hand. To be fair, I’m kind of getting fed up with all these wizard ghosts on my doorstep. I’m not entirely sure I’ll be able to take Elpiritster as-is, though: I’ve seen that he has Clerics and Trolls in his army, and I know from the demo the latter are pretty hard to actually kill. And while I have a decent army — last episode’s siege left me with a lot of fairly high-level Archers — most of it is spread around the world. I resolve to reassemble that army, create some new soldiers while I’m at it, and scope out Elpiritster’s forces a little bit, too.

Or, rather, that would be the plan, but then I notice the irresistible lure of an unexplored Mystic Portal in the northern part of Monster Central. Ok, new plan: fight off the monsters surrounding the portal, send one unit through it, and then with the reassembling and the army, etcetera, etcetera.

I rejoin the fight in progress to find that one of my Goblin Spearmen units is incredibly near-death.

"Blargh, I am near-death!" -- Goblin.

The spiders to the left — Predator Spiders — have the capacity to Stun a unit, basically removing it from usefulness for a set number of turns. I can’t move these Goblins away and I can’t send them out in a blaze of glory. I can Heal them, though, and hope they delay the spiders for a little bit while my other troops try to move in for the kill. ‘Try’ being the operative word: these spiders are tough little buggers.

Also, did I mention my boat? I forgot to mention my boat, didn’t I?

This is my boat. There are many more like it, but *this* is *my* boat.

I made a boat in Burnlin sometime during the siege. The ocean is jam-packed with free resources, and I decided to go have a look. This was before I knew I could send any unit onto the ocean for free magical boats, but whatever. In this screenshot, you can see my boat parked next to a Kraken Nest, a sea-based monster lair currently occupied by a single Kraken. That sounds bad, but I’m sure a boat of this singular magnitude will be able to fight it off.

Also, the hypothetical me who wrote that last sentence has never seen the second Pirates of the Caribbean movie before.

I have formulated a new plan of action. It is called ‘Let’s stay away from the Kraken nest, forever’.

As my armies in the east consolidate, I get good look at Elpiritster’s present army. I’m getting the impression I’ll have my work cut out for me, here:

Screw these guys and their inherent healing.

Like I suspected earlier, he has Clerics, who can heal, and Trolls, who can regenerate. The Clerics also deal Spirit damage, a damage type I have little to no resistance to. The army on display is fairly low-level, but their interplay could still pose a problem. And of course, this is likely only the vanguard.

As armies move in the east and monsters fight in the west, something interesting happens in the southern city of Scrapburg, which you might remember as being built on scenic Vampire Beach. “What happened” you ask? Oh, only the random appearance of what appears to be a divinely aligned unit of super vampires.

As will happen sometimes.

Ok, ‘random’ isn’t the right word here. What actually happened is that I got a Quest! An actual divine quest, too, handed out by Agrela, goddess of life. And remember those magical bears that Appearified last episode? Well, it’s like this, except because Gods are involved, the to-kill units are less ‘bears’ and more ‘spellcasting vampires’. Still, I decide to take on this Quest. And not just because I have an ace in the hole, here.

"Dear Jarenth, please kill these super spellcasting vampires. In return, I will hate you less." -- Agrela

(Future Jarenth’s note: Those of you with more than a passing knowledge of religion in Warlock are free to facepalm in despair right now. I won’t actually figure out why what I’m doing is an idiotic move until somewhere in the next episode.)

Ace in the hole? Oh, yes. Do you remember how I built a Crypt in Krypthall, last time? And how that Crypt produces Zombies? What you may not remember is that I queued up one such Zombie unit when I got enough money. That unit of Zombies is now complete.

Funny thing about the Undead: most of them are completely immune to Death Magic. Funny thing about Undead spellcasters: they tend to deal in Death Magic. I’m sure you can see where this is going. Actually, I’m going to say this completely unironically and without any hint of setting up a later, humorous reversal: between the nearby Death-immune Zombies, a unit of high-level Spearmen I have standing nearby, and the actual city of Scrapburg being able to fire, those vampires probably picked the worst possible spot in all of my empire to spawn.

In Burnlin, which has expanded, I build an Alchemy Laboratory, which should allow me access to some more advanced units. Burnlin also gives me some insight into how borders work in this game: specifically, that I have no idea how borders work in this game.

Why are their borders cooler than my borders? Is it the population limit? Culture clash? Inherent superiority of purple over yellow?

As I let my turn roll by, both Elpiritster and Nicolas Frost extort me for half of my current gold each.

"Woooo, give me some goooold."

"Ho ho ho, give me some gold as well!"

I’m probably being overly cautious by playing it wimpy like this. Rest assured that I’m bottling up all this indignation and anger in an incredibly helpful, productive, I-am-going-to-wipe-both-of-you-off-the-face-of-Ardania manner.

I can build Elves in Inver-On-Linn now! Too bad they cost more gold than I actually had, even before the extortion. I know I said some smart things about making this a utilitarian city, but in the face of empty coffers, I panic and just build a Market next. I know, I’m weak. Oddich, similarly, gets enriched (get it?) with a +50% Gold Tax Office, which should also lead to Trolls of my own later down the road.

Finally, I beat Monster Central. Alright, alright: I clear out the part of Monster Central surrounding the portal. I’ll colonize this area later, assuming Frost doesn’t get to it first. For now, I pull my troops out, in preparation for the inevitable strike against Elpiritster. All my troops… but one.

But not the one you think.

I beat down the super vampires, getting some gold, some favour with a god that still dislikes me, and a nifty god-aligned spell I can’t use because of low favour! Still, the gold’s pretty cool. I use it to build a +100% Food Great Granary in St. Mouseberg (which, incidentally, will drain my turn-by-turn gold income severely)…

On the plus side, plan Capital City Breadbasket is rolling along smoothly.

…and a Craftsmen Guild in Scrapburg, because money. I also upgrade some troops, and start research on the Basic Weakness spell.

Then, it is time.

"To boldly go where no Goblin has gone before!"

And, much *like* Star Trek, the unknowable alien world appears to just be a colour-shifted version of the regular one.

Ok, this place is… green and pink. And filled with about two more Earth Elementals than I can reliably deal with right now. These Goblin Spearmen are, to coin a phrase, completely boned, especially because one unit of Earth Elementals is blocking the portal back. In fairness, I knew this was a one-way trip when I sent them. I’ll try to get as much exploration out of them as possible, but given that they currently cannot move, that probably won’t be a whole lot.

One Craftsmen District in Inver-On-Linn, one Bat Fort in Webshire and one Silver-based Laboratorium in Krypthall later, my otherworldly Goblins are still alive! I celebrate by researching the Magic Shield spell, then checking in on them. What’s the place they’re bunking now called, anyway?

...really? 'Ainadra'? That's what we're going with, here?

Ok, so this world has taken the incredibly laze way out with regards to naming. No matter! There’s bound to be some amazing resources up in this place! I’ll just let my Goblins do their final, likely-doomed jaunt into this incredibly alien place, and we’ll find…

...a Halberdhall.

Seriously? There’s a Halberdiers’ Guildhall on a literal other world? How did they even get there? I… wow, I’m incoherent with madness. Let’s just ignore this terrible, broken world for now, and come back after I’ve beaten everything in close vicinity into submission. I won’t be able to take this place without a decent army, anyway, and right now I need my army for something else.

That something else is posturing on Elpiritster’s border.

"I'm not touching your lands!" -- Me.

Honestly, though, I’m a little worried whether or not I can actually take Elpiritster. His troop composition is more advanced than mine, and even his basic troops are pretty tough. Look at this Warrior over here, for instance: He’s nigh-immune to basic damage. Of course, he has a serious weakness that I’ll be able to exploit…

He's terribly weak against divine laser beams from space.

I guess I can’t really afford waiting any longer. Most of my army is in place, I’m poised to strike Doomford from two directions at once, and I’ve got reinforcements incoming from Monster Central should things go south. Just for the hell of it, I attempt to broker a Non-Aggression treaty with Nicolas Frost, but my diplomacy falls on deaf ears. I actually do discover something cool about the system, though: in looking over the negative modifiers I’ve accrued with Elpiritster, I find this:

Pay attention to the 'Military Threat'-heading.

It’s cool that the game is actually able to recognize that I’m gathering my armies at Elpiritster’s borders. I wonder if that also influenced his in-game behaviour? Has he been preparing for my invasion just as I have been preparing it?

I guess we’ll find out next episode, when I launch it.

Next installment: War breaks out. For real, this time.

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