Jarenth Plays: Warlock: Master of the Arcane — Episode 14: Manifest Destiny

In the previous installment of Like, Warlock, Man, I took over a significant amount of real estate in Ainadra. While I was having fun doing so, though, Ardania came under threat from that vile Lunord-worshipping fiend, Rjahk. I should probably go back to Ardania and deal with this menace, but I feel uncomfortable leaving while there’s still dragons about. As such, I am to dedicate the next couple of turns to exterminating everything in Ainadra that poses even the slightest danger to my cities. Preferably before Rjahk actually shows up: so far, all I’ve seen from him/her/it is… nothing.

I start this episode by seeing little green and purple bats everywhere.

Ah, so that’s how he found me! Well, good to know: now I have an inclination of where to go next.

You might also notice some Vampires standing on Lichwald in that screenshot, actually. I had the realization, a couple of turns back, that there’s nothing inherently superior about the Vampires I already have: I got them for free, granted, but that didn’t come with any special perks or anything. They’re just Vampires. High-level, kitted-out, enchanted-to-the-ears Vampires, but the base material is the same. And Lichwald has a Vampire Mansion. So why hadn’t I made my own Vampires yet?

The result of that line of thought is, well, my own Vampires.

Given that Rjahk is a jerk, I attempt to replicate earlier successes by casting my Drought spell on her. This plan meets with some opposition when the game doesn’t actually allow me to cast the spell:

Also interesting: you can see Rjahk and me will never get along because our Religion score is only 8, instead of the 10 I had with other players.

There’s two reasons this is annoying, and one is obvious. The second reason is that I can’t find any way to cancel a spellcast in progress. Which means that until I find whatever magic variable controls the targeting, I won’t be able to cast any spell, ever. A serious handicap, but a fitting illustration for the dangers of unchecked magic abuse, I suppose. Has my power taken control of me now, as I once controlled it? Will I spend the rest of my life chained to the one spell I could never cast, searching in vain for the target that never shows up?

Or I guess I could just right-click the spell-cast icon a few times and it’ll give me a cancel prompt. That’s… good to know, I guess. I guess.

I guess I’ll just research the Harvest Blessing spell instead. It’s like that Sun’s Bounty spell I cast a few times now, except unaffiliated and probably less good. I wonder if it stacks?

The rather boring icon does not instill me with confidence.

A quest appears: do I want to capture the city of Dreadspell? It’s pretty close to Lichwald, which has recently become the home of some brand new Vampires, so… yeah, I guess. Let’s hit it.

In Ainadra… I’m just murdering everything. Mostly Greater Fire Elementals. There’s not a whole lot to tell, really. It’s mostly scenes like this:


Besides, what happens in Ardania at the moment is a little more interesting, if even much more predictable: extortion happens.

A ridiculous extortion by a man in a ridiculous hat. War is the only answer.

Though that’s not nearly as interesting as Vaindryn’s sea monster plague:

Really, that's a thing.

What you’re looking at right here is my city of Vaindryn, which gained notoriety of a sort by being founded right in the heart of Monster County a little while back. The city weathered monster attacks and even managed to thrive, sort of. I sent Warriors and Fire Elementals over to help out, but the Warriors got killed by an Ogre and the Fire Elementals got Meta-Teleported to Ainadra because I needed them there. To compensate, I built some Clerics in one of my human cities, and sent them over to clear out the Flying Serpent infestation. I didn’t tell you about any of this because sometimes I like things to be a surprise, ok?

Point is: Vaindryn has come under attack by Sea Serpents. Lots of them. There’s two on that screenshot, I already killed one, and I’m pretty sure I saw a third flit around in the fog of war. I don’t know what’s got them all riled up, but my Clerics alone can’t defeat them. I built a Magic Tower there, which has helped secure the first kill, so everything will probably be alright… but you never know.

Did I mention Sea Serpents can attack inland, at range? I feel like I should mention that. It means there might be other, bigger monsters in that dark and terrible ocean, and it means being in-land is no longer a guaranteed defense against the determination that lurks beneath the waves. One more reason to bring my army back? You bet it is.

You may also have noticed that I haven’t mentioned many building construction projects in the last episode. That is because, well, there aren’t any more interesting ones, really. It’s all either resource-producing buildings you’ve seen before, special-resource buildings you’ve seen before, unit-producing buildings you’ve seen before, or perk-producing buildings you’ve seen before. Trust me: whenever something actually interesting pops up, I’ll let you know. Like the Mana Leech spell I just researched! That’s interesting.

The Magic Bazaar is still *funny*, but not really interesting anymore.

You know what else is interesting? During the Monster Turn of 109, a massive two-headed dragon appears from the northeast corner of Ainadra and sets a course towards Ratville.

Seriously, Ainadra. I get it. You hate me.

To add insult to injury, my Donkey Knights finally bite it in battle. They were the first through the portal, and they’ve been near-death a couple of times, mostly due to their dogged insistence to never run away. Normally, units that get reduced to low health in a melee run away to a nearby empty hex, prompting the attacker to follow up. Donkey Knights do not roll like this, however, which makes them excellent in holding the proverbial line.

In this case, though, it caused them to stand alone against a Red Dragon and a Greater Fire Elemental, at half health. And even this, they could have survived, but a lucky critical hit sealed the deal.

They shouldn't have gone like this, but it was pretty much the only way it was ever going to happen.

Vengeance, of course, is swift and terrible.

And delivered by amazing flying ghost ship.

Also, this happens. While it’s not particularly informative or useful, I thought it cool enough to share.

An explosion of heaven-bound fireworks indicates that, yes, this unit of Fire Elementals has gone up a level.

In the middle of the Shadow of Vendral’s assault on Ratville — an assault that takes nearly half the city’s health in a single attack — the Goddess Krypta demands a moment of my time. If I would be so kind as to build a Temple to her. In reward, I’ll get some favour, and a tough-looking unit called ‘Ancient Liches’. I have to think about this for a bit. One the one hand, I’m a little on the Krypta side of the perfect Helia favour balance, so refusing this quest would put me right back in the middle. On the other hand, a little more Krypta favour won’t hurt too much, and those Ancient Liches do look cool. I’ll think about it some more: I’ll need to claim a second Holy Ground anyway.

Let me sleep on it.

(Future Jarenth’s Note: Of course, as you can see from the screenshot, actually completing this quest would unbalance my Krypta favour by +30, not +10, because of the inherent effect of the Temple. I figured this out after writing this episode but before actually building a Temple, so expect this matter to be silently dropped somewhere in the future.)

I research something called ‘Elemental Resurrection’, which should allow me to… well, resurrect things. Could’ve done with that one invasion earlier, but still cool. I then deploy the gruesome-looking Vampiric Blade Enchant on my Elven Archers, hoping to keep them alive a little more that way, before queuing up and casting a Basic Weakness spell at the two-headed dragon. I place some Ratmen Pirates in the city to soak damage, and put the Elves on the fast-track to more dragon-slaying. They slay the Shadow in two attacks.

The spell effect portended as much.

In Ardania, my Vampires land on the coast of Dreadspell. The town is guarded by an Undead Magic Tower, which Vampires are fully immune to. Still, I would feel a lot better if these Vampires were somehow even tougher than they already are.

Top hats, away!

My Temple to Helia is finished, incidentally! Want to see how cool it looks?

About this cool.

Next to looking totally sweet, the Temple also allows me to recruit my divine unit, the Wolves of Helia. Who aren’t looking too shabby themselves:

They are, in fact, looking pretty dangerous.

The Gems near Fangclaw offer either +20 Gold or a new Protection Amulets perk. If you’re read up until this point, you can probably tell which option I pick here. If you didn’t: it’s the amulets. I cannot resist the seductive lure of a completely new and unknown perk. A perk than any Wolves of Helia will automatically own, no less.

With the Shadow of Vendral slain, only one Greater Fire Elemental in sight (well, that and some monster fish) and two Red Dragons hidden in the northwest, I think it’s time to pack my army up here. I send my units through the portal, one by one, in a process that is still mindbogglingly boring. The units emerge in the swamps near Globmarsh, ready to waste countless turns moving through the difficult terrain.

Their goal? Move south. Move south to a coastline, board a magical boat, and sail further south. There has to be something there: if not Rjahk, then the other Great Mage. Or more Neutrals to conquer. Either way, I get out ahead.

In my hurry to get to the Gold Dragon Eggs, I accidentally misjudge the distance and found the city of Hornaxe one hex too soon. This means I’ll have to wait until the city hits level 5 before I’m able to capitalize on those eggs — a terrible, slow wait when dragons are involved.

I'll be honest: this was not my finest moment.

The city of Dreadspell impresses me, in a sense. It has a Magic Tower which deals Death damage, and city fire that deals Missile damage, while I have a unit of Elder Vampires, who are immune to Death damage, and a unit of Goblin Sharpshooters, who are not. The city divvies up its fire in the actually correct way, blasting the Goblin Sharpshooters to smithereens and slightly bothering the Elder Vampires. I’m impressed. Or rather, I would be, if I was’t so annoyed. I just got those Sharpshooters, like, three turns ago. They were brand new and everything.

Good targeting priorities, though. But you'll still die for it.

As I pull more and more troops out of Ainadra, I research the decidedly non-meta Teleportation spell, then the strongly Helia-aligned Protection Halo spell, then the Levitation spell. They all take one turn to research! I can’t help it. I hunt the last two Dragons, beat the Great Healing spell out of some Elementals, and send more Settlers in to capitalize on the soon-to-be-available Red Dragon Eggs. All in all, a good day.

Finally, my first and strongest unit of Elder Vampires — my Alpha Elder Vampires, if you will — exterminate the last of the Dragons on Ainadra.

What goes around comes around.

The only monsters left in Ainadra now are the large Leviathan fish, spawning from a Leviathan Whirlpool in the southernmost lake. They’re no threat, because they can’t attack land (as far as I can tell), and they spawn in range of Hornaxe’s city fire, anyway. I think I’ll let them live, as a reminder of those early days. A living memorial to those lost.

I guess all there is to do for me now is to head south, find Rjahk, and make her eat her own cowl.

Or is there?

Look below the quest prompt. That's the tell-tale glint of a Mystic Portal, right there.

Conquering Dreadspell reveals a nearby, relatively-unguarded Mystic Portal. I know there’s another one in the heart of Monster County, but… for one to appear here, like this, only found because I followed a quest? It’s almost like a sign, wouldn’t you agree?

Do I follow my mind and go to war with Rjahk? Or do I follow my heart and plunge face-first into this new Mystic Portal? I’ll have to do some serious soul-searching for the answer to that one.

Luckily, soul-searching is pretty easy from this Workshop over an infernal abyss!

Next installment: A whole mess of troop movements takes place.. Also, swimming Fire Elementals! No, really.

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