In the previous installment of The Art Of Warlock, I scoured the known world for traces of Rjahk, favoured Great Mage of Lunord and pretty much my exact opposite. It took me a little while to actually find him/her/it, but find him/her/it I did. And seeing as though Ash-Haar the Wisest, actually living up to that title, is still in a functional alliance with me, I guess my next step will be the complete and utter annihilation of Lunordian worship.
Before complete and utter annihilation can commence, however, my research screen notifies me that it’s time to pick a new spell. It’s time, in fact, to pick the only spell that’s left.
This is the Spell of Unity, one of Warlock’s possibly methods of victory. I’ll go into a little more depth about this in the next post. For now, I simply drop this spell into the research queue — for the next ten turns — and leave it at that. Back to the war at hand.
My Elder Vampires and my Wolves of Helia are standing on a shoreline, watching the bobbing purple glow of Rjakh’s borders in the distance. The only land route is blocked by impassible mountains, and I don’t have the line of sight required to Teleport in. What to do?
I decide to go with a little magic. I select the Levitation spell and cast it on the Wolves of Helia. Then I order them onto the ocean, and watch in amazement as the movement path cursor turns yellow, clearly indicating that the Wolves will, in fact, cross the ocean by magical boat. Ok, I… I guess Levitation doesn’t allow you to cross bodies of water? That’s really weird, but whatever. I try to send them over the impassible mountains instead, but that fails as well. I guess Levitation doesn’t do anything movement-related, then?
Well, alright then. In that case, I’ll just cast Water Walking on them instead, and… that doesn’t seem to work either.
Confused, I cast the Water Walking spell on the Elder Vampires. In reply, they deftly walk onto the water in much the same way that the Fire Elementals did earlier, and in much the same way that my Wolves of Helia are flat-out refusing to work. What is even…
A little digi-sleuthing reveals the answer: it turns out the Wolves’ Elemental Immunity also makes them immune to buff spells. Frost Weapon, Vampiric Weapon, Levitation, Water Walking, nothing sticks. Nothing did actually stick from earlier, turning my whole preparation-casting routine into that much wasted time. By way of experiment, I cast the Helia-aligned Protection Halo spell on my one unit of Trolls; this spell gives them permanent, total Elemental Immunity. And yep: buff spells cast after that simple bounce off of them like so many rubber balls.
Ok, this is a little annoying, but it’s not the end of the world. I can still Teleport my Wolves everywhere. I use the Flying Galleus to spot some land across the impassible mountains, Teleport, and indiscriminately charge into both Rjahk-aligned units and monsters. Once those are dead, I do it again.
The Elder Vampires, in the meantime, continue their water-bound path towards the Giant Quest Scroll. Once they get close enough, I find myself pleased to discover that the city I’m set to Quest-conquer — Witchlea — pulls double duty as Rjahk’s capital city.
The city is coastal, and the entire land area on its southern side is filled with Skeletons and Ghost Wolves. This might be a good thing for me, or it might not. I’ll have to test a hypothesis here in a turn or so, but just to be on the safe side, I’m sending this new fellow over to help out.
My plan of attack is pretty much this: I’ll do a two-pronged attack on the capital. The Wolves of Helia, in the south, smash through any intervening units and cities, while the Elder Vampires and the Dracolich start assaulting the capital directly from the ocean. It’s a fairly ambitious plan, taking a capital with only a handful of units, but I’m fairly confident it’ll work out.
My faith in the Wolves of Helia is not misplaced: because Rjakh’s domain is mostly comprised of mountains, he can only bring so many of her low-level troops to bear against my Wolves. Between their high armor and innate regeneration and these low troops numbers, the Wolves never go below full health for longer than a single turn.
The success of the ocean-bound attack, on the other hand, will be determined mostly by one single factor. See, even though my Elder Vampires are — give or take — the most powerful units I have on call right now, they do still take damage. They regenerate damage by damaging units, but Rjakh only has low-level units standing around its capital, and I know from past experience that capital city fire can really really hurt.
I also know, however, that the Undead are nothing if not committed to a theme. So I move my Elder Vampires in city fire range, End Turn, and…
Yup, pretty much what I expected. Silly Undead: you’re far too predictable for your own good. Their capital city, unlike the Elemental-Damage-dealing Human and Monster types, deals Death damage on its splash attack. Both my Elder Vampires and my incoming Dracolich are completely immune to Death Damage… and between that and the weak-faced defenders, this city literally cannot hurt either of them. I’d say this battle will be a cakewalk, but that would be an insult to cakes, somehow.
As this battle is going on, this happens:
This single image encapsulates all that’s wrong with Warlock’s Diplomacy, really: the past counts for nothing. As soon as our alliance ran its predetermined course, any and all diplomatic bonuses derived from it — that’s +50, incidentally — are gone forever. In situations like this, where Ash-Haar and me didn’t really have all that much to keep us connected in the first place, this means that we’ve gone from trusting allies to cold-war enemies literally overnight. There are no ‘we’ve been friends before, and that’s pretty cool’ factor: Gifts are counted, but I don’t know for how long. A new Non-Aggression Pact and subsequent Alliance with Ash-Haar, predictably, does not happen, and it only takes him a few turns to break out the demands. No peace in our time, then.
As the amphibian assault intensifies, the first Rjakh-town falls to the Wolves of Helia.
Still, progress is slow. Too slow, for my liking: Rjakh keeps clogging up the works with his annoying low-level ranged jerks. I think it’s time I pull out some of my bigger guns. In fact, let’s pull the conceptually biggest gun of all:
While the aforementioned ranged jerks are still reeling from the impact of this spell, I cast it again.
Unsurprisingly, the city falls the next turn.
And that, as they say, is that. Of all the Great Mages who started this war, only Ash-Haar the Formerly Wisest and me are left. And while Ash-Haar’s armies look at least a little intimidating, I still firmly believe he should have sucked up to me when he had the chance.
You see, I’ve been conquering random Neutral and Monster cities all throughout this episode. And while we were still allies, I sent a unit of Elven Archers through Ash-Haar’s territory to get to one of those cities sooner. And guess what I found while I was there?