In the previous installment of Warlock Warlock Warlock Goose, I invaded the mystical world of Ainadra, where things were not quite as opposite as I’d hoped them to be. I immediately got into a scuffle with the natives: an initially easy fight that turned costly and sour the moment dragons were added to the mix. Through the loss of some dear old units, I decided to clean up my act, and get Ainadra ready for colonization before the Settlers were to arrive.
This is going to be a little tricky, seeing as though the first Settlers are slated to arrive… right now.
I send the first group of Settlers to the relative safety of the north. While that region does not contain any of the cool resources I so desperately want to claim, it’s currently monster-free. I think. Worst-case scenario, I can fall back to that first town and expand it until I can create more Settlers from there. Plus, while the north doesn’t have any cool resources, it does have gold. And I do so love gold. I slap a Wind Walking spell on the Settlers to help them make the most of their two-square movement allowance, and resolve to do this to all Settlers headed this way.
Fighting continues. I’m currently researching the Vampiric Weapon spell, which I hope will offset some of the health losses incurred in fighting the more dangerous enemies. I’m also hoping it will make other units more like my Vampires, who are currently my most hard-hitting unit by several orders of magnitude. For instance: it took like five attacks from other units to bring that one Dragon down to half health. I make the Vampires roll up to the somewhat-injured Dragon, and they take out the rest of its health in a single attack.
This world really is relentlessly unpleasant. For every cool resource or high-paying monster lair I find, there are two high-level monsters ready to turn my armies to mush. I use my Trolls to clear up a Vampire lair, only to catch sight of another lair-bound Fire Elemental and another lair-bound Dragon. The lairs add an extra dimension to the fight: while the mere act of walking over them usually rewards me with massive stacks of money or mana, they do imply that — am I not careful — more monsters will be coming.
The second Settler arrives through the portal. I briefly debate sending it to the Holy Ground in the east…
…before realizing that, wait, there’s still a Dragon Lair at large there, and opting for the relatively-safe Holy Ground in the south instead.
As a group of units prepares to take on a Greater Fire Elemental, a Dragon swoops out of the unseen mists and nearly annihilates one unit of Elven Archers. See, that’s what I meant with ‘relentlessly unpleasant’.
Alright, this is actually kinda bad, but it annoys me more than anything else. My troops are spread around and fighting everywhere, and this place just keeps throwing challenges at me. I can take them, of course, but not without losses. And I’m trying to avoid losses. I need to step up my game here. What can I do to counteract this dragon escalation?
The answer is ‘deploy top hats’.
What, that doesn’t make any sense to you? Look at this image. Can you see what I saw? Can you find what caused my lips to curl upward, slowly, in a time-delayed version of sneering laughter?
It is at this moment in the game, you see, that I noticed that my Vampires-unit has a star-shaped Upgrade button.
Two mouse clicks and seven-hundred gold pieces later, I’m looking at Elder Vampires.
Bolstered with tops hats and more gold than I’ve ever spent in a single place, the Elder Vampires roll west in a straight line, find the closest dragon lair, and lay the smack down on the resident Red Dragon. It doesn’t kill him outright, but only because I haven’t purchased all their upgrades yet. And trust me, there’s quite a few upgrades left un-purchased. Life is looking good right now: I don’t think the game can one-up me over this.
The game, of course, has a different opinion on the matter.
I would be annoyed at this pointless display of one-upmanship, but something else has drawn my eye. That Gold Dragon is not hovering over a dragon lair, like the red ones… it’s hovering over a clutch of dragon eggs.
I know where my next city is going to be.
Speaking of cities: my first Ainadran city, Ratville, has just sprung to life. Situated near fancy Gold and a mostly pointless Halberdhall, may it prosper long and not be eaten by dragons. A Gold Mine will be its first order, as soon as it’s large enough.
In order to combat the spread of the aforementioned dragons, I do finally fully upgrade my Elder Vampires, bringing their damage up to an impressive 55 Death. I also start research on the aptly-named Incinerate spell, which has the dubious honour of being the first single-target Elemental Damage-dealing spell that out-damages Sunstroke. I found my second city, Fangclaw, near the southern Holy Ground, Finally, I bring a new player onto the field:
Just in time, too: from the northeast, two Red Dragons emerge working in tandem, with Greater Fire Elemental support. They are unable to kill my exploring Zombies, though, because Zombies are built to last. I’ll deal with them when I deal with them: first, the Gold Dragon goes down.
Bringing the Gold Dragon down proves no easy feat, made even more difficult by the latter’s tendency to run and heal when low on health. Here: in this screenshot, it’s so low on health you can’t even tell if it has health anymore. Of course, a new Red Dragon swoops in just as I’m about to administer the killing blow. Because of its meddling, the Gold Dragon manages to escape and heal back up to quarter-health again.
Still, I’m reasonably sure that it’s going to go down soon. So sure, in fact, that I’m getting cocky again. I send an undefended unit of Elven Archers to explore the last bits of the northwestern section of the map, where they run into a Red Dragon guarding a clutch of Red Dragon Eggs. Confident in my ability to beat it, I open fire. The Dragon, being a high-level Dragon on active guard duty, proceeds to not give a shit and roasts my Elves alive.
I send a group of Goblin Spearmen in to try and distract the Dragon, but it cunningly murders the Elves — who are capable of hurting it — before turning its attention to the Goblins — who aren’t. They flee north, only to run into another Red Dragon nest. This world.
I manage to extract the Goblin Spearmen, though, by careful application of an Invisibility spell and two Shamans’ worth of healing. This event apparently nets me so much good Karma that the game feels I deserve a reward.
You know, this world is really small. If you’re not opposed to some screenshot-wrangling, you can compare the size of the viewing angle in the minimap between Ardania and Ainadra. I’m pretty much always zoomed out as far as possible. I think Ainadra would fit into Ardania four times over, maybe five. It’s not really what I expected from ‘another world’: I wash thinking more along the lines of a second parallel world-map, with multiple entry points. Still, this works as a concept. Plus, it’ll be easier to defend from encroaching AI players.
Single dragons have really ceased to be an issue at this point, but that doesn’t stop them from flying all over the place, harassing my Settlers and threatening my cities. My Wind Walk-boosted Elder Vampires and Flying Line Caravelus follow suit, preventing any serious damage from being inflicted. Finally, my last (first, actually) unit of Elven Archers locates the injured Gold Dragon and puts an end to it, once and for all.
As if on queue, new monsters just magically appear. Time was I would’ve been annoyed at that, but now I know it’s just the game’s way of handling quests. And I’m grateful it decided to drop the quests monsters in the world my army’s actually in, too. Let’s take a look…
…hey, these guys are called ‘Adepts of Lunord’. But if they’re the quest monsters… that means…
I immediately throw everything in the direct vicinity at the Adepts, just barely failing to Sunstroke them to death. The Adepts respond by fleeing, which I anticipated, and disappearing, which I didn’t. Turns out I’m not the only one with access to invisibility magic. While the Adepts cleverly try to hide near some Greater Fire Elementals, their giant floating scroll gives them away, and I soon bask in the glory of Helia’s favour. And a spell I can’t use yet. 50 favour, really?
Suddenly, things in the real world take a turn for the worse.
That gloomy fellow is Rjahk, the Favoured of Lunord. As in, Lunord, God of the Moon, opposite number to Helia, and the guy whose Adepts I just murdered. Is he divine punishment? I can already tell we’ll get along swimmingly. Out of curiousity, I test to see how much bribing would get me a Non-Aggression Treaty, but all the money in my coffers isn’t enough. War seems inevitable.
Also, where is he? She, it, whatever. I can’t see any of shklee’s units, or cities. Are they invisible? That would be so typical for a Lunord-worshipper.
Fangclaw, the city I built to claim the Holy Ground, finally hits level 2. Excited, I check the building list, only to find I can only build Temples to Helia or Agrela. …what? I get Helia, I really do, but why Agrela of all deities? Who not Krolm or Dauros? Hell, if ‘did quests for’ is the prerequisite, why isn’t Krypta on the list? Things are just plain weird today.
Cursory examination reveals that this Holy Ground allows ‘Temples to Agrela, Fervus, Grum-Gog, and Helia’. This still doesn’t make a lick of sense, but whatever. As if I was going to build anything but a Temple to Helia. And starting the construction on the exact turn I finish Helia’s divine quest feels poetically correct, somehow.
Three cities now stand in Ainadra, and a fourth is on its way. Ardania has started beckoning me back, though, with its promise of justified holy war being either inflicted on or perpetrated by me. But before I leave this realm of fantasy and purple, I have one last thing to do.
It’s not enough that my cities are ‘probably mostly safe’. If Goblin-kind is to thrive in Ainadra, I must exterminate every monster that could even remotely threaten us.