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Author Topic: Master of Persistence  (Read 3851 times)

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François

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Re: Master of Persistence
« Reply #40 on: May 15, 2011, 01:05:00 PM »

Huh, well I'll be.

In any case, seeing how I never lasted long enough for apex units to matter, I guess they've been vanilla enough. :whoops:
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Mothra

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Re: Master of Persistence
« Reply #41 on: May 23, 2011, 06:35:31 AM »

Let's get this show on the rooooooaaaaaadddddddddddd
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Classic

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Re: Master of Persistence
« Reply #42 on: May 23, 2011, 11:33:25 AM »

So I finally figured out that the ZMBV codec that DosBox uses can be installed using an install file that comes with DosBox .74! Maybe this counts as a victory? I dunno.

Let's get this show on the rooooooaaaaaadddddddddddd
Fine guy. We'll do this shit.


This image will never get old. EVER.

Making Froc2

Combine with !manlyname

Dagdoomdragisquathrustswordaggercrunchismoor

Actually, that's not as much of a train wreck as I thought it would be. I'm equal parts happily surprised and disappointed about this.

So I set  Dagdoomdra to making themselves a granary. Because Drow obviously need more turgid phallic symbols to accompany their treehouses and because I want more mana.
Meanwhile, I send my scouts off in opposite directions.

I'm thinking I should've saved Dagdoomdra as a name because Dagdoomdra isn't really in a location that really screams, "impregnable seat of a pan-dimensional empire". But nuts to that kind of thinking, we have the future to look forward to!


Here's a screen we haven't seen before. A research screen with exciting spell options. Fireball is an old favorite, but mostly potent because it's a low-level, per-figure attack. It's not going to be of tremendous use when we've got arch angels and devils engaging each other in (thrilling?) single combat, but for right now when our foremost concerns are ruining droves of spearmen it's going to be a good standby.

Obviously, I can't pick it now. That'd be too easy.

Shatter is pretty nice too and can completely ruin a normal unit. As a rule of thumb, "normal" means a unit that consumes food. But I'm sure we'll find counter-examples as we go. Worth noting about shatter is that it's worse against larger units like spearmen and better against lone ultra-units, because even shattered weapons are only tracked per-figure.

In Master of Magic you only research spells. As a result all of your Earthly technologies are arranged more like an RTS and less like a proper Civ game.
You'll also notice that I'm diligently ignoring corruption. Because it's a great load (of corruption).

A few months later, here's our explored area.

We're on what's, for now, an island because the occupied chaos node to the up-right doesn't suffer travelers until its horde of monsters is thoroughly dead.


But that's not happening anytime soon. Great Drakes are tough, fire-breathing fliers with good magic resistance. Flying is actually a pretty big advantage for some strategies above and beyond the mobility. Remember that every wizard has access to Magic Spirits, units that can functionally fly, so it's impossible that the mobility is a deciding factor. Anyway, let's look at the other two monster lairs.


Shadow Demons. Ranged attackers with all sorts of obnoxious immunities. I had also thought that they possessed invisibility, but apparently I'm wrong because we can see them on the scouting trip.


Stone giants are so named because of their projectile. They're similar to Storm giants who throw lightning instead of huge rocks. Mercifully, they've only got one or two shots of their wall-smashing rock.

To deal with this mild problem of isolation, it's time to invest in one of these:

They've got the shipyard as a prerequisite, and can only carry two units on them like a Civ trireme.. I've never had one "lost at sea" to date. So it's likely they don't have that Classic Civ limitation.

It's a little tough to see in these shots, but those are little waves, indicating amphibious or aquatic movement.

Don't worry guys.

We did build our Granary, and the news was carried to us by Frocto's little devil familiar. I believe familiars are determined by your highest spell school. While they don't have much impact on the game, they show up here and there. For example when you finish researching a spell.


Lookit that guy, flaunting it.

At this point, I cave and do three things:
First, I decide that there's no way in hell we're going to get any foreign cities without Fireball, so Frocto researches that.

Second, I decide to start getting that summoning business going, because what's the point in having dark elves unless you're going to have your various hoards guarded by these guys?

Hell yes. I am good at puns.


For comparison, here's our swordsmen.

In strict terms of attack, our swordsmen have them beat thanks to two extra figures in their unit, resulting in an additional 12 attack dice (assuming both are at full strength). Also our swordsmen's two strength magical attack has got a lot more situational utility than we've really seen. It takes fewer units of dark spearelves to threaten most foes than you'd think. Barring battles with trolls, whittling down foes is usually a strong strategy.

However, Hell Hounds are way better than our low-level mortal units for two reasons.

First, this +1 to-hit. Mortal units can get this through magic weapons or just through potent enough training, but an extra 10% chance to hit on every attack die is huge. I don't remember if it also effects the next trait, but it really doesn't matter.


Fire breathing is an attack that occurs before regular melee damage (or even first strike damage) is generated. Fire might be defended against by resistance, making it less useful than it could be, but a free 12 dice opener has a chance of shaving a few hits and figures off most mortal units, which can and does make the difference between a crippling melee clash and a joke.

Still, they're one of the weakest, cheapest summons in the game.

Third...

I save.

So I can go into the nature node and show off some terrifying monsters instead of all this boring "building".

Most of their bonuses are self-evident, but you'll notice they have two yellowed blocks. These are situational bonuses which, I believe they're enjoying thanks to the nature node. The +2 to-hit makes each additional attack die they've got even more terrifying, and although their resistance and armor are "low" they've still got the hits to soak up a lot of damage.


Defenders have the prerogative of first-move, so this giant has already tossed a rock at Frocto's Hell Hounds.

To be honest, I'm amazed that they're still clinging to life. But there's another rock waiting for them and the Stone giants aren't alone.


Cockatrices in this game can fly.

That's as bad as it sounds. I think the -3 is the modifier against your resistance roll. But I don't really get a chance to test it in this battle because of giant rocks.

I can't watch anymore.
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Mothra

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Re: Master of Persistence
« Reply #43 on: May 23, 2011, 11:44:26 AM »

ABORT ABORT ABORT
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François

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Re: Master of Persistence
« Reply #44 on: May 23, 2011, 07:42:52 PM »

I'm actually quite curious as to how direct damage spells can be made effective because the ones I've tried so far (Life Drain and Psychic Blast or whatever that Sorcery spell is called) have been about as useful as turning my back to my enemies and letting out a mighty grunting fart in their general direction. Maybe I shouldn't cast them on enemies with much magic resistance but I don't think I've ever seen a critter worth spending mana on that didn't have at least three crosses. Actually, casting stuff on enemy units in general feels immensely less practical than just buffing one's own.

Also yeah I also think the -3 is to the opponent's resistance, because cockatrices are consistently ruining my fun everywhere they go. On the plus side they taught me to make bowmen, which seemed like a perfect counter-strategy to these sorts of shenanigans right up until the basilisk invasion.
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Classic

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Re: Master of Persistence
« Reply #45 on: May 23, 2011, 08:02:47 PM »

A couple of ways. Coupling with curses to diminish resistance for starters. Boosting up DD with extra mana can help you power through resistance.

All magic is situational by nature, and the time when DD is most useful is in culling weak units or softening up strong ones. Expecting a Psionic Blast to do heavy lifting might be folly, but it could be the difference between outright losing a unit or letting it live long enough to limp off the field.
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Classic

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Re: Master of Persistence
« Reply #46 on: May 28, 2011, 10:08:37 AM »

Alright we've got a lot to do today, so let's start from page one.



Gotta punch in, right?



Frocto needs to take a short break because I've been running this LP with my ass instead of my head. Before we can get into this LP proper we need some more EXPOSITION.

Classic Warlord L/N



Here's the area around Newland, because I couldn't think of anything interesting (that's your job) and the name of a boring town is suitable for the locale, which is going to be vacated as the seat of my power as soon as is feasible because of how many sea spaces it's got afflicting it. In Master of Magic, it's coasts and only coasts that provide any trade or food benefits.

Anyway, I'm sure we High Men are interested in seeing how we compare to Dark Elves, how do they make out in spite of misfortunes like "fellwood"?


Swordsmen

Virtually Identical to the Dark Elf variant.

Excepting Dark Elves' hallmark spells and an extra three points resistance. Myrran races tend to pack more resistance and a few extra advantages over Arcanus races. Given that dark elves are an easy source of magical power it makes sense that their martial might is only slightly better than their counterparts.

Spearmen


Essentially the same differences. Spearmen are still cheap and otherwise unremarkable.

Let's talk about the local geographical features I've uncovered by conventional exploration.

To the left and right we have the unit-cost reducing coal and iron hanging out in opposite directions of Newland. Both of which could be worthwhile locations for building military force.

So clearly as soon as we finish building a granary, we're going to produce settlers to capitalize on one or more of those locations. But first let's talk about fun things, like monsters.


Great Wyrms are a nature monster with tunneling, meaning that they can go to any unoccupied square on the map and wreck you. They're depicted as just a terrible neck emerging from the ground and exist to ruin the day of your ranged attackers and punish you for having hopes and dreams.


Chaos spawn sound cool and as you might guess are chaos monsters. They're basically beholders, though they have slightly fewer horrible gaze attacks. Thankfully, I'm pretty sure chaos spawn don't actually have a ranged attack option. So at the least, they'll need to close to melee, giving a player a bit of time to soften them up.

While we were doing that, Newland built a granary!

Yeah, Life mages go around with a lame white dove for a familiar. It's a bit baffling that life magic is still associated with peace when it's got a lot of spells like, "Altar of Battle" and "Crusade" that are not-at-all peaceful. But there's no time to think about that right now, it's time to look at our research list.



The descriptions are pretty self-explanatory. Though Guardian Spirit deserves a special mention for how it differs from Magic Spirit.



The chance of a Guardian Spirit successfully defending a node isn't particularly good. I think it hangs in the 50% range and even with these you get no alert or warning when someone attempts jacking your nodes. The node's magical aura is supposed to change to match the banner color of the controlling wizard, but for some reason aura banners don't show up in my game. This means that I'm entirely dependent on leaving a small garrisoning force for my nodes as well as my cities to keep apprised of any changes in ownership.

I'm researching Guardian Spirit because a guardian is just barely strong enough to be a worthwhile magic unit in addition to being able to meld with nodes. Some people go so far as to have guardians handle weaker nodes alone. I've done it before, but more often than not it helps to have some mortal ranged-attacker backup to clear out war bears or hell hounds or sprites. Fuck sprites.

Those of you keenly reading will notice I used the words "conventional exploration" above.



GENTLEMEN! BEHOLD!
Earth Lore is a weapon of mass exploration. It is strongly recommended you wield its awesome powers responsibly, and not drop it on your own cities.



But it only costs 30 MP so does it even matter? This is chump change here. It's a common nature spell so you're almost guaranteed it with even one nature spell pick. I've used Earth Lore several times a turn in the late game, scouring the world for scattered islands and hidden nodes.


I also wanted to show off how the cursor changes when you're hovering over a target for a spell.

The wand has a little glowy-blue pixie dust streaming off of it. It- Well, I thought it was a cool example of context sensitivity back in the 90's. I also have a thing for glowy twinkly things I guess.

Anyway, let's draw the cursor someplace responsible and drop the bomb.





In place of fukit.gif there was actually supposed to be a kind of lame nature magic explosion, which is a sparkle of green followed by an expanding green circle. Unfortunately, I didn't think to capture it in video and it'd be pointless to use my ineptly snapped stills to do the job. Fortunately, we're going to be casting Giant Strength on our units at least a million-and-one times.

So probably you're going to see me use it to prep a group of spearmen to utterly lay waste to some swordsmen. While I alternatingly cackle and choke.

That's a lot of new ground to explore, and to be honest the finds are a little disconcerting. It looks like we've got a map with at least one super-continent, which usually means bad news for species diversity.


Next update, we talk about heroes and how I needed to think this LP through a little bit more carefully.
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Brentai

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Re: Master of Persistence
« Reply #47 on: May 28, 2011, 10:29:03 AM »

Frocto needs to take a short break because I've been running this LP with my ass instead of my head.

I imagine Classic trying to play by repeatedly slamming his ass down on the keyboard, then switching to repeatedly slamming his head into the keyboard.

Also fuck you can summon an army of bears?  Just one of those fucking things is enough to maul Satan to death.
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Classic

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Re: Master of Persistence
« Reply #48 on: May 28, 2011, 08:05:57 PM »

I'm actually quite skilled at typing with my head! After being inspired by that one #FinalFight comic I've achieved a disturbing level of proficiency. But before you say, "Oh for fuck's sake!" Here's DOSBOX!


Today let's join Frocto, Lord of Volcanoes, Prince of Laughter, and his naked imp familiar on their quest to take over all of Austra Myrror.



We need a nickname for that little guy.



Last we left off, Frocto was on what turned out to be an island. His trireme quickly scouted the right-most part of the island and we have rightly determined that Frocto started this game off in the ass of Myrror.

In this time of relative peace he amasses an army of hell hounds to do his bidding. Eventually, they'll be needed to do some heavy "liberating" of troll towns, but for now, we're taking advantage of their rapid pace to explore the area to the down-right.



Hot diggity! (They're hell hounds. It's funny.) A ruined keep already! Time to scout it out!


Free stuff!


It's meager now, but believe me when I tell you I've found hoards with thousands of gold and magical items strewn about it. What? You didn't know about magical items? Well, you're going to know (next to nothing) about them by the end of this update!




Ooh! Ruins and a tower?
Ruins.

Eh, Shadow Demons again. Something we're not able to tackle just yet. So let's set it aside.

Towers, once cleared of monsters, are gateways between the planes. There are other avenues to leap from one to the other, but towers are the mode through which there is universal access.

Unicorns are rare level Life monsters. They come in herds of four and generally Life creatures in the rare and very rare summons tend to have bonuses to dealing with Death and Chaos monsters. Unicorns can also teleport freely about the battlefield.

As critical as it is for Frocto and his dark elves to check out Arcanus, this is not the best avenue for them.

Continuing to explore up-by-up-right.


Hills, mountains, and forests without roads on them do cost two move apiece to get across without any logistics or mobility traits (e.g. Mountaineer). Roads replace the ordinary movement costs and prerequisites for a tile. I mention this because Frocto's Hell Hounds actually moved up-left then up-right to get into these mountains, taking advantage of the relatively unimpeded movement through that tile of desert. Keeping your eyes peeled for faster routes is only about as important as it is in Civ, but it can make the difference between a city being sacked before its journeying defenders can return, or a thorough rout of the invading force.



Quork crystals are essentially meaningless to dark elves, but every little bit helps. This would actually be an almost-decent spot for Nomads for whom deserts are almost an advantage, rather than a horrifying sandpapering of an elf's danglers.

It's probably a good time to mention...


The marketplace and granary have opened up the possibility of producing...



A farmer's market! Look at that hot, hot population growth. For those of you just joining in, that's an additional 50% growth. Every two food is also another citizen figure we can move from farming to production, quadrupling that figure's contribution to building awesome stuff.



It occurs to me that I haven't really been talking up Libraries. They're useful, and are a prerequisite for magical weapons, fantastic stables, and wizards towers. Wizards towers produce the most magically inclined unit of that race. Something to consider given that Frocto's using a race whose excretions glow with magic.

For right now though, Dagdoomdra is building a unit of settlers.
I need more !manlyname please!





But there's a cave to explore!


This is an even bigger windfall than it was in Frocto's previous existence. Frocto has basically been summoning hell hounds non-stop, and even with his hot elves doing their kinky sex magic to keep his mana full, there's only so many hell hounds they can sustain. In fact, Frocto has only been saving a mana crystal a turn for several turns now.

"But," says the most astute reader, "Surely, Classic, you must be joking! We can see in all of those previous screenshots that Frocto has been cruising around with no MP in the bank!"

Indeed you're right, but here's the thing: Frocto has been casting another shot of Hell Hounds for exactly as long!

The blue text shows that Hell Hounds is currently being cast and the number of Chaos Swirls shows the remaining time until the spell is cast. Frocto's Spell Power, the rate at which he can channel magic into a spell, is over 7, the remaining mana needed, so the time is instant. When Frocto's Spell Power hits 30, he'll be able to cast Hell Hounds as an instant once a turn (provided, of course, he has sufficient mana).

Given the lethality of this game, cheap units never quite become useless so summoning a dozen or so at a time is actually an asset for cannon fodder if nothing else.

That said, it's an advantage comparable with any other summon in the 90 mana range and its usefulness depends heavily on the situation. For example, there's no point in bringing in Hell Hounds to deal with flying creatures without giving them wings or magical flight first, as there's literally no way for them to take advantage of their fire breath.


So I end the turn, happy to have another group of deadly doom beasts at my disposal when a dilemma hits...



I think I'm going to shut up and let the huntress speak for herself for a while.





Pathfinding is one of those Logistics/Mobility attributes I mentioned. Permanently enjoying the effects of nonmagical roads is a pretty nifty trick.

Heroes always enjoy a few neat perks unique to heroes. Most such perks have a Legendary (or Starred*) version of the feat that ups the efficacy by some amount. More magically inclined heroes can even throw spells as though they were a wizard without even dipping into your stock of mana crystals!

Heroes also level up, going from the meager "Hero" up through eight ranks (inclusive) of suitably exciting description. But level up information is always stored on a hero's equipment pages.


Heroes don't enjoy direct benefits from the Warlord retort.





These are more-or-less self-explanatory in the sense that I will be explaining them later rather than doing two boring infodumps. Wizards with the artificer retort can construct items right away, possessing both Enchant Item and Enchant Artifact. The most interesting magical equipment can only be created through the higher level "Enchant Artifact" by wizards with a solid knowledge of other spell schools.

Those of you who are shiftless, callow rubes can just pop open ITEMMAKE and take a look at all the bells and whistles you could put into a magic item and even save it for use in your game! Unfortunately, if I ever try to actually save, ITEMMAKE crashes with a heady mix of indignation and outrage.



Before you guys all shout, "WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR CLASSIC!?" We need to talk finances.



The Huntress is classed as a "low-power" hero, and as a result charges a modest two gold a month and a 100G hiring fee. Note that at our current tax rate, we couldn't support her hire. Further, after her signing bonus is paid out, we'll only have 21 gold in the bank. It might not be economically viable to hire her now.

She might eventually come back later with more experience and possibly a higher price, but her upkeep costs should remain consistent.

Second, if we DO hire her, we'll need a name.

You've probably ascertained that the title "The Huntress" is an immutable part of the hero's name. This is true of all heroes and all heroes with the same title have the same base attributes. We can customize our heroes with gear, enchantments, and spell casters enjoy having some of our combat magic available to them in addition to their pre-determined memorized spells.


So, all this seems awesome right? Well, yeah, all of that is. Here's where I cock Frocto up: My last save in Master of Magic is too far back for me to remember the exact choices that led up to The Huntress showing up for hire. Or at least, I can't get the RNG to get her to show herself on the same turn.

I think I can make it work so that I can take your input on a hero's name AFTER introducing them, but I didn't do it for the Huntress. So we have two options:
1) Continue on with Shuri The Huntress.
or
2) Do essentially the same stuff, but somehow not have her arrive and be better prepared to take audience participation for the next hireable Frocto hero.
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François

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Re: Master of Persistence
« Reply #49 on: May 28, 2011, 10:41:09 PM »

For right now though, Dagdoomdra is building a unit of settlers.
I need more !manlyname please!

To outsiders, the township of Fluffywuv seemed atypical for a Dark Elven settlement, though the origin of its unusually cheery name is of a deviousness only their twisted race could machinate. The shame of living in the place does nothing but increase its inhabitants' broodiness, which is, as everyone knows, the source of the Drow's outstanding magical prowess. Truly, Fluffywuv was destined to become a roiling nexus of arcane power, without equal in either realm.

Quote
I think I can make it work so that I can take your input on a hero's name AFTER introducing them, but I didn't do it for the Huntress. So we have two options:
1) Continue on with Shuri The Huntress.
or
2) Do essentially the same stuff, but somehow not have her arrive and be better prepared to take audience participation for the next hireable Frocto hero.

Hmm... Cast my vote for 1. As the Lord sayeth, messing with the RNG is bad juju.
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Brentai

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Re: Master of Persistence
« Reply #50 on: May 29, 2011, 01:43:11 AM »

Brentai   !manlyname
Popoie   FACE MCSLATEBIG

Welcome to the town of Slateface.  It was founded by a guy called Slateface.

Nobody ever asked him why he was called that.
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Classic

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Re: Master of Persistence
« Reply #51 on: May 29, 2011, 10:24:55 AM »

OK, so I have a short update for Classic more-or-less played, which will also crave for audience feedback. I need to prep one or two more images and shake the video into place. So some mystery time between now and after the posting of that video I'm going to continue on playing Frocto's grand adventures.

So if you have opinions on how Frocto should proceed, please post and be heard!
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Mothra

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Re: Master of Persistence
« Reply #52 on: May 29, 2011, 11:21:09 AM »

Hmm... Cast my vote for 1. As the Lord sayeth, messing with the RNG is bad juju.
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François

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Re: Master of Persistence
« Reply #53 on: May 29, 2011, 12:08:24 PM »

I don't think I've ever had massive amounts of summons like that so I can't guarantee the freshness of this strategy, but I think that if I was in that situation, I'd put the Blademaster through college until she gets to level 2, then give her an ass-ton of unusually warm puppies to play with and tell her she can pay me back with a conquered city or three. You could probably use a couple of neutrals, even if just to offset to slow growth. (I think.)

That is, if you can even find a city, I guess. Usually by this time I realize I'm surrounded by angry douchebags on every side so the absence of opposition isn't a problem I've had to deal with so far!
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Classic

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Re: Master of Persistence
« Reply #54 on: June 08, 2011, 09:33:22 PM »

OK. Let's Play!






You automagically load up your quick-save slot and skip all of the developer credits and opening movie rigmarole when you use WIZARD instead of MAGIC.



The problem with Earth Lore, if there really needs to be one, is we discover all of this space we need to explore and don't really have a good way to begin commenting on the findings without it becoming a monstrous task to "get-around-to".

Which reminds me, my apartment is due for cleaning.





Air elementals are without a doubt invisible. I guess if you're the biggest or only creature on the map you're always visible to scouting. Air elementals aren't particularly tough, but their invisibility means they can't be the target of ranged attacks, including my battle magic, most of the time. Here, "most of the time," means, "not adjacent to an enemy unit". This isn't a huge deal because of the spell picks I have, I don't really enjoy much direct damage potential. It does mean that any battle with them is almost guaranteed to cost my armies a few hits.



I've had this build go into battle with great wyrms. I had a few mage-type heroes leading a whole mess of apex units into battle against four or five of them. I think it was three or four characters that limped away from the "victory" and none of them were any kind of hero.

[spoiler]Granted, this was, in large part my fault. There are piles of spells that let you escape these kinds of irreplaceable casualties (contradiction in terms, no?) but I had run out of mana crystals and was relying on a front-line mage with the fewest hits of all of my units to enact them.[/spoiler]



Gorgons here are the terrible bull version of the monster but with wings.




War bears are about the tamest monster we can expect to find here. We might be able to beat them without losses if we have an archer and a unit of cavalry.

My mortal units are en-route to the chaos node, but to help explore more efficiently, I got a magic spirit summoned and sent it to the south.

While that happened, we got a nice report from Newland.



They have a shrine! Also, you can get tool tips for a building by right clicking it in the city portrait.



You can also dismantle buildings with a left-click. But you can only dismantle one building per city per turn and I can think of exactly two reasons this would ever be a good idea.

It's about time we start thinking of a name theme for the High Men, because...



We're getting us a settler!

The burden of paying for a settler is going to put our expenditures into the red. So it's time to open the info menu.


I really could have just hit F7. I think this is the last piece of software for which I've memorized any of the function keys.

Our taxes shoot up to 1.5 gold per thousand citizens and our unrest rate goes to 30%. Fortunately, we're "producing" unrest at a low enough rate that this change doesn't earn us another rebel, and our new shrine is comforting even them.



We've got a lot of land to fill and a few choice spots to do it. In the meantime, we're going to keep searching for neutral cities.

The quest thus far has only disappointing yields.


!!!

But this is a nice consolation prize.
Then, we have a first for us as players.



We meet a hostile wizard.

When Classic met Ariel

It turns out what Ariel is bitching about is that I have a military unit adjacent to one of her cities. This is against the rules of basically any wizard agreement and is enforced rabidly and absent of logic. In short, because she decided to settle next to my magic spirit, she's pissed at me.

Now's probably a good time to bring this up...


Settlers don't instantaneously create cities you see, they start off as hamlets, growing at the base population growth rate until they reach at least 1000 persons. A hamlet sacked at this early stage is annihilated immediately.

And this is what a hamlet looks like when right-clicked.


Sadly, Ariel is also rolling High Men, which means we can't subjugate her starting race for fun and profit. Others of your species seamlessly assimilate into your empire.

And behold our new magic screen and Ariel's little purple gem!


You probably noticed from the video that Ariel is rocking a whole bunch of extra retorts and an extra life spell pick. The most obvious difference in difficulty settings are that your enemies get bonus picks. I don't know if there's a table of extra picks that they get, or if it's just random.



Not actually very good, but basically every city will want the highest religious structures it can attain, and a free 50% bonus on that mana isn't bad. It also reduces your dependency on nodes.



That said, node mastery is way better. Most importantly because it makes capturing nodes easier.

You see, nodes, being the potent loci of magical energies that they are have a decent chance of simply causing any non-aligned magic cast there to unspectacularly fail. This is especially good for life and death based mages, who don't have any aligned nodes (instead they have temples in cities). It's usefulness isn't unlimited, because most node guardians enjoy substantial magic resistance on top of the magic blocking effects of the node, but there's nothing quite so frustrating as not being able to summon some cannon fodder, or heal your units so they can escape.



Charisma is really paying off for Ariel this round.



See her hot stable of heroes. With luck we won't meet any of them.


Ariel is probably strong enough to sneeze and wipe me off the map. She's also guaranteed to have way more access to life spells than me. So it would be easier to kowtow and try to garner enough favor to exchange spells. I'm not sure she can teach me more spells than my spell picks would allow me to learn, but a brisk trade in spells makes wizards friendlier and generally moves you to the "good stuff" faster.



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