Monday, May 2, 2011

Season Of Harvest

Oh look! It's Emperor Palpatine.

Is it just me or are these cutscene animations utterly ridiculous. As the mysterious narrator explains why we need to raise an army of skeletons, we see a random necromancer repeatedly electrocuting a fallen knight. Is he slowly killing the knight or merely trying to raise him from the dead?

Since the goal of the scenario is to raise 2,500 skeletons within 3 months, it's fitting that all three starting bonuses further that objective. The choices are Vampire's Cowl, Necromancy Amplifier, and Unearthed Graves.

The Unearthed Graves will increase the number of skeletons available to recruit in your town per week. However, there's no need to start with this building because you can construct it yourself for a mere 1,000 gold.

The Necromancy Amplifier gives all of your heroes a 10% boost to their Necromancy skill, allowing them to raise more skeletons after battle. Like the Unearthed Graves, you can build this structure in town for a mere 1,000 gold.

That leaves the Vampire Cowl, an artifact that increases a single hero's Necromancy skill by 10%. On paper, this may seem like the worst choice of the three. But in reality, it's the best choice.

For starters, the Vampire Cowl is worth 4,000 gold. It's also the hardest of the three to obtain in the scenario if you don't choose it from the onset. You can always build the other two structures by saving up gold. But it's much harder to find and buy the Vampire Cowl. Although the number of skeletons resurrected at the start of the scenario will be low, the Vampire Cowl's bonus will stack on top of the Necromancy Amplifier. In other words, the Vampire Cowl will enable you to obtain more resurrected skeletons in the long term.

The scenario begins with two pre-set heroes: Vidomina the necromancer and Vokial the death knight. Both start with Expert Necromancy, which enables them to raise 30% of fallen troops as skeletons.

Vidomina's innate hero skill is Necromancy which grants a 5% bonus to her Expert Necromancy efficiency per hero level. So if Vidomina becomes a level 10 necromancer, her total Necromacy skill will be:

Expert Necromancy: 30%
Innate Necromancy: 15%
Necromancy Amplifier: 10%
Vampire's Cowl: 10%

Total: 65% of fallen enemies raised as skeletons

You may be wondering why her innate Necromancy skill only grants a 15% bonus. If Vidomina is Level 10, shouldn't the skill be 50%? Actually, the innate Necromancy skill only affects the efficiency of Expert Necromancy, not the percentage of fallen enemy troops raised. Since Expert Necromancy raises 30% of fallen enemies, then 50% of 30% is 15%.

Think about how broken the skill would be without this limitation. After gaining a few levels, Vidomina would be able to raise 100% of fallen enemies!

This scenario also marks the return of Sandro the lich. The cause of his imprisonment will be made clear in the second Heroes III expansion The Shadow of Death. Sandro can be found along with a number of high level necropolis troops in a rocky canyon along the western edge of the map.

Yes, I know that Sandro previously helped Team Catherine free the griffins. But as I mentioned in an earlier post, that was clearly Sandro's doppelganger from Earth-2 named Sandra.

The more I play these campaigns, the more I'm shocked by the stupidity of the necromancers' master plan. Perhaps King Gryphonheart retained a sliver of humanity and actively worked to sabotage Deyja from the inside. Yeah... that's probably it.

We are told that 2,500 skeletons will give Deyja an unstoppable army to conquer Erathia. Really? Why not 2,500 bone dragons?

In the process of obtaining 2,500 skeletons, I've had to transform strong pikemen, archers, centaurs, and elves into puny skeletons with the Skeleton Transformer. Even worse, in order to meet my quota on time, I had to transform vampires, wights, and liches as well! Don't you think those creatures would have been more effective on the battlefield than skeletons?

It's counterproductive to instruct a general to raise an army comprised of only the weakest possible units. All Erathia would have to do is cast the Implosion spell a few times and the skeletons are gone.

As we'll see in the next scenario, the necromancers aren't just incompetent when it comes to war strategy. They also take criticism very personally. When one of their own decides to pull out of the war, they waste precious troops killing their fellow undead.

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