In the previous installment of Jarenth Plays Warlock: Master of the Arcane, I got the war against Nicolas Frost off to a good start by rapidly conquering the quest-appointed city of Dracford. Honestly, I would’ve taken it over anyway, but this way I got free money and units out of the deal. But just to prove I haven’t completely sold out, I’m going to conquer Frost’s remaining cities without any financial incentives whatsoever. Take that, THE MAN.
The day starts off well with Shadow Advisor requesting me to kill some flying Serpents. This quest has a failure state, oddly, but whatever. The Serpents are right near Globmarsh, and my Vampires are passing through the area now. I’ll just have them make an extra murder-related pit-stop and we can get on with this war.
Though I’ve taken Dracford, Frost has quite a few units left in the area. My first order of business is to exterminate everything that moves and is blue. One remaining unit of Warriors, that group of Wizards from earlier, and two summoned Ghost Wolves all fall in short order. The Wizards attempt to flee by magical boat, but my Archers put a stop to this evil plan.
Then it’s onto our first, and most important, target: Ravenhood. I attempt to summon a decoy Rune of Protection, but get screwed out of an easy victory by the game’s occasionally wonky targeting system: sometimes, summoned units just appear on a different hex. In this case, you can still see me targeting the Farm hex, trying to comprehend in vain why my Rune would appear two hills over.
Frost proves to be a wilier negotiator than that-ghost-who-will-not-be-named-again by attempting to sweeten the surrender / peace offer. It won’t do him any good, but I appreciate the effort.
One unit of Bats veers off to attack Icebridge, because I’m curious to see if they can, and I put one Spearmen and one Archer on the blocked-off port city of Norcastle. The Fire Weapon Enchant spell enters the research queue, because why not? Maybe it’ll cancel out the Frost Weapon Enchant spell, that’d be fun. Maybe they’ll cancel each other out explosively. Or maybe I just picked the spell because it looks useful.
Now, you might be wondering at this point if ‘fighting Frost’ is all I have going on right now. It’s not: I still have one unit of Zombies and one unit of Goblin Archers in the East, exploring and killing monsters. I haven’t mentioned this in a while because, frankly, they weren’t doing anything interesting. Some Flying Serpents here, some Giant Spiders there, kid’s stuff. The Zombies are tough as nails and they have the First Aid perk, and between that and their slow gait they regenerate pretty much everything between fights. Up until now, they’ve met nothing that could really hurt them.
‘Up until now’. Because now, I just moved them a little southeast into a veritable den of monsters. Monster County, if you will. There’s an Earth Elemental-guarded Mystic Portal, a grove with a dangerous-looking Ent, a couple of Giant Spiders, and from the relative southwest two Ogres can be seen appearing. This all just appeared in this move: we’ve gone from ‘totally safe’ to ‘most likely boned’ in the span of three squares.
My Zombies didn’t have a good movement speed in the best of times, and they get absolutely stunlocked by all these spiders. They stubbornly refuse to die for a couple of turns, but it only delays the inevitable. My Archers make a much better escape attempt, only to run into another monster nest in the northern fog of war. And with that, my eastern exploration ventures end, for now. I wish I could go back and wreak bloody vengeance, but I have a war to fight.
Frost increases the strength of his bribe, but I’m pot committed now. My Halberdiers and Werewolves have closed with Ravenhood, and I summon some Earth Elementals to seal the final exit. This city is so doomed, and it doesn’t even know… actually, scratch that. I’m pretty sure the inhabitants of this city know exactly how doomed they are.
As expected, the city cannot hold against an attack of this magnitude. It finally falls to my Noble Werewolves, who proceed to nobly eat one third of the population. I immediately spot and construct a Pumpkin Farm to celebrate.
Back in Grasshill, I face the second resource challenge: Minotaur Palace or Minotaur Labyrinth? The first gives me Minotaur units to train, but the second offers a perk I haven’t seen yet — ‘Tested by Labyrinth’. My natural curiosity makes me a sucker for things like this, so Labyrinth it is. I’ll get my own Minotaurs later, probably maybe. If I can find more of those caves.
As a floating magical Bazaar joins the cities of St. Mouseberg and Burnlin…
…I start the next leg of my engagement. Or well, legs, to be honest: I’ve decided to assault all three remaining cities simultaneously. They’re all unguarded and low level, so where’s the danger? Goblin Spearmen and Ratmen Robbers tackle Icebridge…
…Vampires and Zombies assault Garuta…
…and Spearmen and Archers take down Norcastle.
Oh, and I build a Vampire Mansion in Lichwald. My one current group of Vampires has quickly proven itself to be my go-to alpha strike unit, so I’m hoping the ability to make more of them will refrain everyone from attacking me, ever. I also build a second, quest-related Harbor in Krypthall, Excavations in Scrapburg, and a Silver Mine in Viperhall to pay for the Excavations (which have a fairly high Gold upkeep).
I wish I could tell you more interesting things about this part of the battle, but it mostly just happens. I train some more units (including Shamans and Trolls) and I research the Summon Fire Elemental spell, but for the most part it’s just a few turns of ‘attacking’. It pays off, though, as in turn 71 the three cities fall one…
Jarenth 4, Frost 0. I’d say it’s high time to take this battle to Frost’s capital.
Which, incidentally, I’ve already found. Few turns earlier, in fact. Should I have mentioned this?
I found Frost’s capital of Millpool while scouting west during the Three Cities campaign. I settled my Halberdiers and Noble Werewolves there to take potshots at it, and summoned a Rune of Protection to draw fire. Then I came back one turn later to find that it hadn’t worked, and that my Noble Werewolves were very much near-death. They didn’t escape, actually. I pulled out afterwards, preferring to capture the weaker cities first.
The weaker cities have fallen, though. And after a few more construction orders — a Food-and-Mana-producing Magic Garden in newly-acquired Garuta, a Barracks in St. Mouseberg, and Magic Towers in equally-new Icebridge and Ravenwood — I gather my armies at the border’s edge. Rest well, my minions: tomorrow, we strike at the heart of Frost’s domain.