Friday, May 20, 2011

Steadwick's Liberation

In Steadwick's Liberation, Queen Catherine's forces must retake the Erathian capitol city of Steadwick from its Kreegan invaders.

I love the fact that the map designers reused the map from Steadwick's Fall to maintain continuity. However, they also added some aesthetic changes to keep the map interesting.

For example, the grasslands surrounding Steadwick have been transformed into barren wastelands. The Kreegans, being the evil bastards that they are, decided to salt the land.

Also, the dirt lands in the southeastern corner of the map have been extended, suggesting a lot of back and forth travel between Steadwick and the invaders' inferno fort.

Finally, the dungeon overlords have burrowed all the way to Steadwick. The subterranean map contains a garrison and three enemy cities.

In Steadwick's Fall, you may remember that the capitol city was protected by garrisons on the overworld map. The Kreegans were smart enough to replace these garrisons with impassible boulders. It means you'll have to take a detour through the Nighon tunnels in order to recapture Steadwick.

However, there's a pair of Angel Wings in the southeastern corner of the subterranean map that can make the trek a lot easier. Assuming the enemy doesn't get the artifact first, you'll be able to fly over the mountains surrounding Steadwick and completely avoid the garrison in the tunnel. However, if your hero gets defeated and the Angel Wings falls into enemy hands, the map suddenly becomes a lot harder.

Also, you may remember Gen. Kendall, the final boss of the Dungeons and Devils campaign. He is trapped in a prison at the northwest corner of the map, guarded by a group of devils. Why didn't the Kreegans kill him?

He starts at level 12 and comes pre-loaded with tons of expert level skills. If you rescue Gen. Kendall, he will join the party. But be warned, if you wait too long to rescue Gen. Kendall, the enemy may actually recruit him to their party. Why would Gen. Kendall ever want to help the Kreegans? Brainwashing, most likely.

In any case, the first priority in this scenario should be to break through the western garrison and reach Gen. Kendall. Once you have him in your party, capture as many overworld cities as you can. You may find that gold is a scarce commodity on this map. One way to conserve your resources is to stop training pikemen and archers. Also, don't bother building up the rampart in the northeast corner. There's only one rampart on the map, so you'll never be able to amass a large army of forest creatures. Also, the rampart tends to be captured a lot. So any investment you put into the city will likely fuel the enemy's army. If you must build something, aim for a treasury.

Like many other scenarios before this one, speed is the key to success. The enemy will expand very quickly. Unless you've captured two additional towns by the end of the first month, the enemy will have wear down your forces and resources with its momentum.

It's important to start the map strong. In the beginning, you're given a choice between three starting bonuses:

1. 10,000 gold
2. 2 archangels
3. 2 titans

I know that I mentioned that gold is scarce in this scenario. However, 10,000 gold isn't going to make a big impact. Speed is the key to the map, so having two level 7 creatures at the beginning of the map is a far better choice. But which to choose?

A lot of people prefer the archangels over the titans for their speed and resurrection ability. On paper, it looks like a good decision. However, I actually prefer the titans. Here's why.

Armies travel at the speed of their slowest unit. That means even though archangels are fast, they must still travel at the speed of an archer or pikeman. To counter this, you must leave the slow units in the city and travel with only the archangels. However, if you don't want to bring along any slow units, who will the archangels resurrect? If you aren't going to use resurrection, why choose the archangels at all?

Additionally, archangels are melee attackers. Unlike archdevils, the archangels' attack will provoke retaliation from enemy units. This means the archangels must expose themselves to danger in every battle. It's actually fairly easy for enemies to surround the archangels and kill them. You can certainly keep the archangels out of danger and shoot enemies with spells, but this causes short battles to drag on. It also defeats the purpose of having archangels at all.

On the other hand, titans are slow and lack the ability to resurrect fallen troops. However, they are sturdy and have a ranged attack. They can sit back and comfortably shoot enemies while they slowly make their way across the battlefield. The titans will simply survive more battles, giving you the ability to destroy more enemy stacks and flag more mines at the onset. Your hero may travel a little slower on the overworld map, but not by much.

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