Jarenth Plays: Warlock: Master of the Arcane — Episode 6: Ghost-Busting

Blimey. Two weeks into this Warlocking business and I’ve yet to fight an actual *war*. Neutral conquests notwithstanding, I’ve been mostly courteous to the other Great Mages I’ve met so far; and by ‘courteus’, I mean ‘spineless’. Of course, in the previous installment, I started marshaling my troops in a concerted effort to stop just that. Now over half of my army is gathered at the border of Doomford, a town belonging to one Elpirister the Eternal. I’d say it’s high time to show him why he should’ve accepted my gracious non-aggression requests more often.

When we last left off, I was busy making rude faces at Elpiritster.

Now, to be fair, I’m still a little concerned about the whole thing. I have a decent army, and the fifteen-turn siege has left me with a large group of high-level troops (multiple level five Archers among them), but a couple of troops — my Vampires included — were still a few days worth of marching away. And what I’d seen of Elpiritster’s vanguard was no laughing matter, either. The last time I tried to take an enemy head-on, in the demo, I was beaten back severely by the very same Trolls Elpiritster has one of. Doubt is rearing its ugly head: should I attack now, or wait for my army to reach completely full strength?

Luckily, Elpiritster decides to help my decision-making process by attempting to extort me again.

Seriously, Ghost dude? You really think *that's* the best course of action right now?

So, to recap: the game is smart enough to recognize military threat and border tensions as diplomatic factors, and it can tell I am ‘the leader’ in whatever mysterious way it calculates this, but it does not appear to be smart enough to put one and one and one together to reach the three of ‘I should probably be sucking up to this guy, not attempting to extort him’.

War it is! As it’s Elpiritster’s turn, he uses his first-mover advantage to move his troops away from the city of Doomford, into an open field a few squares from my army.

No, I don’t claim to understand it either. But hey! Gift horse.

I start the offensive by moving two of my high-level Archers in to assault the city of Doomford. Now, remember how Inver-On-Linn, a fourth-level city, took fifteen turns to bring down with three Archers raining death on it non-stop? This is what Doomford looks like after two Archer shots:

'Pretty banged up'.

I move some of my Melee troops into city-attacking range, and quickly take out one of the Cleric units through a combination of Archer fire, Imps, Spearmen and a Lesser Death Bolt, which they have zero resistance against. Heal through that, baldy. Elpiritster responds by having his tricked out-Warriors run right into my Spearmen meat-wall, who I’d placed there specifically for this purpose. Still, they deal decent damage and receive little in return, so I can tell I’m going to have to do something about them. Raise your hand if you think ‘something’ is going to involve orbital laser magic! Elpiritster’s other troops stay back, for some inscrutable reason.

Nicolas Frost, wily devil that he is, chooses this exact moment to extort me. I’m going along this time, because I really don’t want a two-front war on my hands, but you’re next on my list, Saint Nick.

"Ho ho ho! I see you're busy fighting a war! Give me mana!"

The next turn consists of wailing on Doomford: I’ve decided to ignore the ground grunts and just take the city as quickly as I can, instead. How does this attack fare, you ask? Well, this is what Doomford looks like after all but one of my units — eight in total — have had a go at it:

A gentle breeze could take it right out.

And this is what it looks like after that last unit of Imps charges in:

Distinctly more *mine*.

That’s right: for all my concern and all of Elpiritster’s pomp, it only took two turns to bring Doomford down. This stands in stark contrast to Inver-On-Linn, which lasted fifteen turns. What gives?

The deciding factor, as resident encyclopedia Vipermagi so presciently pointed out back in Episode 3, is that Inver-On-Linn had a unit parked on it. A remarkably tough one, too. As far as I can tell, a city splits the damage it takes with the unit inside it; I’m not sure at what ratio, but 50-50 seems like a good guess. Since Inver-On-Linn was guarded by a unit with a high resistance to missile attacks, it was able to keep soaking the damage my low-level Archers dished out. Doomford, on the other hand, is both unguarded and out in the open, allowing for an unhindered, multi-vector approach of destruction. The result is evident.

Since I reduced the population of Doomford to four but knocked the number of buildings down to three (this appears to be randomized), I can immediately start construction. As you can see on the previous screenshot, there’s a hint of another Elpiritster-aligned city over the hills to the south. That makes this an excellent opportunity to educate you, dear readers, about Forts and Magic Towers.

Each race in Warlock can build two special overworld-active buildings: Forts and Magic Towers. For the Human and Beast factions (which is apparently the proper name for the Goblins And Rats faction), the Fort is a shorter-range, higher-damage building that does physical Missile damage, while the Magic tower is a longer-range, lower-damage affair that deals in Elemental damage. The Undead have to be the odd ones out, as usual, with their Magic Towers dealing Death damage and their Bat Forts being all-around weaker, but pulling double duty as integral parts of their Gold production building tree. Whatever the case, these buildings act as stationary ‘units’ on the overworld, with their own hitpoint total (and subsequent capacity to be destroyed) and ability to attack anything that comes in range. They don’t block unit movement in any way, though.

Now, in my experience, Magic Towers are a nice deterrent on lower levels, but they won’t stop a dedicated invasion force (even a small one), so I rarely build them. In this case, though, building a tower on the outskirts of Doomford would basically give me a free attack on any units hanging out around that next city. Hell, if that city has a standard two-hex range, which is highly likely, a three-range Magic Tower would be able to attack the city itself. Neat!

For reference: I'm building it on the square directly southwest of the farm.

I bring in my new Elven Archers, move my western units to the front, and send a new Settler out west, to colonize the land bridge leading to Monster Central / Nicolas Frost’s domain. Then, I start looking at Elpiritster’s vanguard. I’d like to take those guys out before plunging further into his domain.

Hey, you know what would really help here? One of the Rune of Protection thingies I summoned earlier. Let me just scroll down the spell list to… hey, why’s it greyed out? I have enough mana. What in the devil…

This text was not red before. Did I do something to piss Krolm off?

I… erm… uh-oh. I may have made a slight mistake.

(Future Jarenth’s note: Yup, *there* we go. Past Jarenth has just encountered the consequences of double-dealing the Gods.)

A quick visit to the Religion screen confirms my fears. Remember how I did that quest for Agrela, goddess of Life, last episode? At the time, I thought gaining favour with Agrela would have no negative consequences for my dealings with the other Gods. I thought this because I am an idiot. For reference, here’s the Religion screen again. Can you spot where I mucked up?

I mucked up in not wiping that smug ghost off the face of Ardania before, but *besides* that.

You’ll notice, or maybe you remembered from earlier, that the God of Ardania are represented by way of a wheel. My influence with these Gods, with all of the Gods, at once, is represented as a single point on this wheel. That means that influence gain or loss with any God translated to influence gain or loss with every God.

In this case, I’ve gained favour with Agrela, which caused my blip to move closer to her end of the wheel. This also caused me to gain some favour with Dauros, and probably with Lunord and Grumgog as well. It’s also caused me to lose favour with Krolm. And, much more pressingly, Helia.

This image was accompanied by me recoiling in horror.

My loss of Krolm-influence — I have 8 left, now — is what’s halting me from casting Rune of Protection. Sunstroke is still safe, luckily, but I’ll have to be more careful with my divine dealings in the future.

Oh, hey, remember those Goblins I sent through the portal to Ainadra? Remarkably, they’re still alive! I’ve let them heal and explore the past few turns, fully expecting each turn to be their last, but they’re still ticking. I haven’t found any particularly cool things during exploration, which is why I’ve been silent about it for now, but this turn they run into some Greater Fire Elementals which I feel I should share.

Basically, what this image is saying is 'my exploration Goblins are now dead. Please never inquire after them again.'

I also research the Summon Ghost Wolves spell, because come on, Ghost Wolves, and take some potshots at Elpiritster’s Warriors. I whittle them down pretty far, but they’re tough buggers, even withstanding a Sunstroke to the face — an event that also teaches me that, even though the spell claims it deals 12 Elemental Damage and the Warriors had 0 Elemental Resistance, there still appears to be a third factor involved, because only 9 damage actually happens. Finally, though, a thematically correct backstab by Ratmen sends them to the next world. I hope for their sake it’s not Ainadra.

Most of my units were spent in that attack — I’m serious, it took six units and Doomford’s support fire to bring those dudes down — but I have one unoccupied unit of Spearmen ready to explore. I round the mountains to the south to check out Elpiritster’s second city and find something highly interesting.

Look at this screenshot. Look at the city, specifically. Can you notice anything out-of-the-ordinary about this city? About the way it looks, perhaps?

It's all purple, for one.

The two correct answers here are ‘There is a crown above the city’s name’ and ‘There is a big-ass tower right in the middle’. Both of these elements are not present in any of the other cities in this screenshots. In fact, both of these elements have only been present in one other city in this entire Let’s Play. Care to guess which one?

I'll save you the trouble.

The city of Elfbush isn’t just another one of Elpiritster’s cities: Elfbush is his capital. See that big tower? That’s where Elpiritster actually lives, just as I spend my days in the tower of St. Mouseberg. If you capture an enemy’s capital, you capture the enemy itself: it’s an instant game over.

Now, I don’t know if it’s possible to move your capital; if it is a way, I don’t know about it. And if there isn’t…

…well, let’s just say it’s starting to look like Elpiritster’s ghostly life expectancy just took a sharp nosedive.

Next installment: I assault Elpiritster’s capital, and encounter the rest of his army.

3 comments

  1. “Bat Forts being all-around weaker, but pulling double duty as integral parts of their Gold production building tree”
    Bat Forts also produce flying scouts (It’s a bat. It flaps. It has teeth. This monster is trying to scout your territory!), and can be built as the second building in a fresh new town. Forts and Magic Towers require a city to have expanded once, to two rings.
    Undead for the win and all that.

    Also, Elviiiin Archuuuuuhs (hey, that’s what they call themselves, don’t blame me) are pretty good. Their massive self-heal also makes them more mobile the next turn, which is just amazing. They’re the donkey cavalry of archers, basically.

  2. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’d think twice assaulting “Elfbush”.

    Ah, yes. The Greater Fire Elementals. For the longest time my cleaners in the Other Worlds took two or three attacks to kill them, but finally I got the best of the clean-up crew to one-shot all but one monster type. Well, usually.

    This was really, really great, since my third world was full of monsters. It took a long time to clean it up and even then I abused the combat system so that it allowed two attacks for some units.

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