Jarenth Plays: Warlock: Master of the Arcane — Episode 8: Interbellum

In the previous installment of the Warlock’s Cookbook, I captured the city of Elfbush and put an end to the ghostly escapades of a certain spectral wizard whose name I have since vowed never to spell again. Seriously, it was a chore each and every time. If you’ve already forgotten what his dumb name was, read the last episode again. Or just forgot it, I suppose: it’s not relevant anymore, anyway. He’s dead; even dead-er than usual, when he was a ghost.

Ghost Warrior was not my only opponent, though: I also declared war on Wizard Santa halfway through, as I was fed up with his constant extortion and rebuking of my non-aggression approaches. So in this episode, I plan to consolidate my army — again — and march west to grab Monster Central from under his bearded face.

Remember when this happened? It was so great.

This is Elfbush. It’s a regular, decently-sized Human-aligned city. That’s all there is to it now, really. It has five buildings and six population, meaning I get to build stuff.

Now, I’ve noticed something in my past Regular City Conquests: whenever buildings that are prerequisites to other buildings get knocked down in the inevitable random city collapse, but the buildings they open up remain intact, those buildings immediately get disabled. I haven’t mentioned that, actually: in Warlock, you can ‘disable’ buildings by clicking on them in the city screen, removing both their benefits and their upkeep costs. Elfbush had a Farm, which opens up the Warriors Guild building, and a Warriors Guild, but the Farm got knocked down, so the Warriors Guild is now inactive. You can see it be greyed out here:

The icon more or less exactly in the middle is the one I mean.

Now, as you can see, the Warriors Guild being disabled doesn’t seem to do a whole lot. I can still train Warriors, and I can still build a Smithy, the building the Warriors Guild unlocks. Still, having that building sit there all disabled-like is making me uneasy, so I’ll just build a regular Farm in Elfbush for now. Blame my latent OCD.

So, what’s next? Two things, actually. One: just because I cut the head off the ghost army doesn’t mean the remnants have gone anywhere. They’ve just all reverted to Neutral control. This means there’s at least two most-likely-poorly-defended Neutral cities close by, and my army is right here anyway. This is obviously priority one, but I won’t need all of my army for it. Which brings us to two: I’m still technically at war with Nicolas Frost. He hasn’t made anything like a move yet, and I’m not about to give him the satisfaction of the first strike. I’ve already trained some emergency units to defend Globmarsh should he attack, but with that possibility being as low as it is, I might as well swing some more units to Monster Central and turn my hasty defense into a first strike. Who knows, maybe it’ll be an only strike.

I send four units down to the level 6 city of Icelake, while my five-unit army near Los-Agrelas marches south onto the level 1 city of Viperhall. I also build Tax Offices in Scrapburg, research the population-growth-boosting Prosperity spell, and build the Human city of Grasshill, which for once I think is aptly named, near some special resources.

It's located next to two grassy hills, you see.

Icelake is guarded by some now-mercenary Rogues, while Viperhall falls quickly. So quickly, in fact, that I have one unit of Spearmen left unassigned. I send it eastward to explore and get rewarded for my efforts with a face-full of monsters, who proceed to bite its face off. Even hiding in Los-Agrelas doesn’t save them, and teaches me a harsh lesson in wilderness preparedness.

That lesson is 'don't double-click on a full-movement-allowance move that takes a unit into uncharted territory'.

In brighter news, St. Mouseberg has reached 10 population! This increases its city standing and gives it a three-hex range to work with. Most of the new hexes are either water or impassible terrain, but it’s the thought that counts.

I’m at a loss as to what to build, though. More food? I guess I could, but I’m already doing pretty well for Food. Some Gold would be neat, but…

Cue the sound of a lightbulb being switched on.

It is at this moment I have what later historians will call an Important Realization: excess Food is converted to Gold. I knew this already, obviously, having remarked on it back in Episode 1, but then again, that’s not really the realization. What I realize is this: St. Mouseberg is stacked with Food-boosting buildings. Three of them, in fact: a Granary for +50%, a Mill for +75%, and a Great Granary for +100%. I don’t know if the bonuses stack, but even if they don’t, every Food-producing building in St. Mouseberg produces twice as much Food as listed. And since Food is converted to Gold on a 2-to-1 ratio, that makes every Food-producing building as efficient at producing Gold as every Gold-producing building. And that’s assuming the bonuses don’t stack: if they do, the balance tips even further in Food’s favour.

(Future Jarenth’s note: Did the calculations: the bonuses *do* stack. The percentages are added and multiplied by the base production number before penalties are subtracted. That means a single 3-Food Farm in St. Mouseberg produces 9.75 Food, or about 4.88 Gold. And it’s about to get even higher.)

So more Food is is. I’d love to build more Fishing Villages, but apparently I can’t. I’m pretty sure they weren’t tagged as one-per-city buildings, and I have more shore space, but whatever, I’ll roll with it. I can either build a Farm (+3 Food) or a Pub (+5 Food, -1 Gold), which in a worst-case scenario boil down to either 3 Gold or 4 Gold. St. Mouseberg needed a good Pub, anyway.

Still feeling Food-y, I decide to check the Food-boosting Blessing of the Sun-spell I got. I assumed it would be a flat increase, like the similar-but-different Drought, but what it does is this:

It offers a *percentual* increase in production.

Oh hell yes. That goes straight into the spellcasting queue.

In other, less Food-related news, Burnlin receives a Chateau de Loup-garou, which will permit me to train Werewolves, and Krypthall is enriched with a Mill of Souls, which delivers +75% Mana and Ghosts. Both look nifty. I’d love to build a Magic Tower on the city of Globmarsh, which you may remember as being founded to act as a first line of defense against Frostian aggression, but I’m out of luck: apparently, cities need to be a certain size to allow these buildings to be built. I settle for a Halberdiers Guild: might as well check if they’re worth a damn.

I take Viperhall, which immediately reveals an Undead-aligned city called Lichwald further south:

I'm only including this screenshot to prove I'm not making any of these names up.

It’ll have to wait, though, because encroaching monsters seem intent on reclaiming Los-Agrelas. Not happening, monsters! It’s mine now. Icelake also stubbornly resists, but we’ll see how many Vampire-based attacks they can withstand. Pro tip: probably not many.

One Food-boosting spell later...

I’ve been getting more play out of the Frost Weapons Enchant spell lately. I’ve finally realized that it’s probably good idea to cast it on my strongest units first, because the spell gives a percentual damage increase. My Vampires, now sucking their blood through deep-frozen fangs, demonstrate this principle here.

That principle is 'If A > B, and C = A*D, where D > 1, then E = totally boned'.

Unsurprisingly, the city falls soon after. Taking it reveals a cool gift: the local Silver has been kitted with a Silverworks Armory. This allows the Silver Weapons perk, which grants units an additional +20% Life damage and +20% Spirit damage. I apply both the upgrade and the Frost Weapon spell to my Elven Archers. Have I mentioned these yet? I love them. Decent speed, self-targeted speed-boosting spell, and a ton of damage to boot. Their voices are squeaky to the point of annoying, but I can live with that. Here, equipped with the aforementioned spells and perks (as well as generally being level 3) they take out a unit of giant spiders in one hit.

I don't care how annoyingly high-pitched they are. Anyone who can take out a group of giant spiders with a single arrow volley is a friend in my book.

Icelake gets a Granary, because I want to cast that Food-boosting spell more. Because it’s cool, that’s why. But I won’t just cast it on any city: only when maximum benefits are achieved. Hence, Granary. For Helia!

Also, I can recruit Noble Werewolves now. They are nifty. Spirit damage, able to pass through forests, and they regenerate just as Trolls do. I’m queuing one up to throw at Frost’s stupid face, and also because I want to know what they sound like. Observant readers will have noticed that I’ve had an Alchemy Lab for like three episodes now and I still haven’t made any Shamans: my defense for this is that I am incredibly easily distracted by cool things and shiny objects.

Lichwald proves annoying to crack, because it has two Bat Forts for some reason. My melee can probably take those hits for a round, but why bother? I’ll just send the melee off to Monster Central, while the ranged units — that is, my Vampires and my Elven Archers — make mincemeat out of the city. They do this, and much as I was hoping, one of the dumb Bat Forts perishes in the assault. I replace it with a Tax Offices, and build a Troll Bridge in Oddich and a Craftsmen District in Los-Agrelas.

Grasshill actually poses a more difficult dilemma, because I’ve built it next to two heretofore-unknown resources: a Minotaur Cave and some Donkeys. The Minotaur Cave can give me either Minotaurs or a Labyrinth to ‘test’ my troops in, whereas the Donkeys provide either the Order of the Stubborn Knights or a +10 Gold Trading Post.

That Minotaur stuff looks pretty cool. I still haven't decided which one to get.

Both of the Minotaur options look cool. The Stubborn Knights might be fun, but I know that Halberdiers hate them for some reason…

As evidenced here.

…so I’ll count that out for the moment. I’ll just ignore the Minotaurs for now and build the Trading Post, because money.

Now, I’ll be honest: my original plan for this episode was to end on me posturing on Frost’s borders, and to pick up the actual fighting next play session. Yes, I do plan my play sessions around these LP episodes, what of it? This plan fell through, however, when I rolled into turn 59 and got a shadowy-Advisor-appointed quest to take the nearby Frost-owned city of Dracford. My reward: 260 Gold pieces, and one unit of the Stubborn Knight I just refused. You understand my hand was forced.

On the upside, the universe compensated for this all-around dickery by giving my access to the Summon Earth Elemental spell research.

A thousand times yes.

So with that, the war was on. I moved my six-or-so troops to Dracford, waiting to see if retaliation was forthcoming. It wasn’t. I attacked it a few times to see if Frost would respond. He didn’t. This disappointed me, really: I was hoping that if I couldn’t end this episode the way I wanted, the game could at least gift me a massive-army-on-the-horizon cliffhanger. But no, it appears Frost is going to be as much of a pushover as that one ghostly fellow was.

Right now, one zombie and the Invulnerable Imps are exploring eastward. I don’t really want to find any other players, because it’ll mean having to deal with their incessant demands again. But how else will I find cool things? The rest of my army is marching on Monster Central and Frost’s domain. Just in case he pulls something out of his beard anyway.

Well… that, and I have a second, secret plan for them. But that’s going to have to wait until next episode!

And yes, I did just force a cliffhanger onto this episode. You’re welcome.

Next installment: Things happen, as they so often do.


  1. “This is Elfbush. It’s a regular, decently-sized Human-aligned city.”

    Okay. Am I not supposed to take that as a double entendre?

    Building the farm at that moment was a good idea anyway, since you were running low on food. Of course that reason would’ve been made moot later by the realisation that St Mouseberg produces a lot of food already and is better for it.

    I noticed today that when you’re not researching anything the research points turn into mana the same way food turns into gold. So 1/2 ratio there as well.

    By perchance do you mean “mountains” when you say “hills”? Since you can move through and build on hills but not mountains.

    1. It’s entirely possibly Grasshill’s hills are actually mountains. People change their minds about that denomination all the time.

      That research thing does explain why I was suddenly swimming in mana at one point. It probably also explains the turn-1 mana issues I reported on in Episode 1.

      It wasn’t meant as a double entendre, but I’m not stoppping you.

  2. “Now, as you can see, the Warriors Guild being disabled doesn’t seem to do a whole lot. ”
    It only disables the upkeep/income; not production, and it still works as a pre-req to advance in the tech line. Not often a big issue really.

    “every Food-producing building as efficient at producing Gold as every Gold-producing building.”
    Then again, the %Food buildings have a Gold upkeep cost. You have to offset that first.
    But yeah, that’s why specialising cities is by far the most efficient.

    Make Ghosts. They are hilarious, especially if you can get them good Elemental resist. Immunity to Melee, Ranged and Death? Perfect defense against nearly anything the early game throws at you (ogres *fistshake*), and are strong enough to be worthwhile later on too.

    I am inclined to comment on the AI and Frost seemingly not having any army, but it might be too spoilery.

    1. Fair point about the upkeep costs. Once you’re past those, though, my original point still stands.

      I made Ghosts in my Undead game. For reasons unknown, I completely forgot to make them here. Even though a situation arises later that would really benefit from their presence.

  3. I just wanted to say I am really enjoying this LP.

    I’m an old time reader of Twenty-Sided (since about late 2006 I think), from which I found out about Chocolate Hammer, from which I found out about this shiny little corner of the internet.

    So yeah, I’m enjoying this as much as I am enjoying Shamus and Rutskarn’s blogs. Keep up the good work, mate!

    Now, hopefully this is episode 8 out of at least 50. ONWARD I GO!

    1. Well, I have bad news and good news. The bad news is you’ll probably run out of Warlocks sooner than you might hope. The good news is that XCom is coming soon, and I’m definitely LP-ing that; all goes well, there should be an announcement up on the site about that somewhere this week.

      Thanks for the kind words!

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