Saturday, June 11, 2011

Safe Passage

There aren't a lot of throwaway scenarios in Heroes III. But I'd have to say that Safe Passage is probably one of the most inconsequential maps in the game.

For starters, the map is tiny. Your goal is to escort a level 1 necromancer named Nimbus from the upper right corner of the map to your starting castle in the lower left corner of the map. Three keymaster tents must be located in order to unlock the border guards in Nimbus' way. However, Nimbus is never in any mortal danger. Completing the map is simply a matter of wiping out the lone enemy hero, taking over two necropoleis' and unlocking Nimbus.

The map could have been improved with either a time limit or a gauntlet of obstacles for Nimbus to overcome. Oh well, it's too late now.

In terms of the story, the necromancers have realized their mistake in raising King Gryphonheart from the dead. They've decided to broker a truce with Erathia in hopes of putting the genie back in the bottle, so to speak.

We also discover that King Gryphonheart's death was the result of foul play. However, Gen. Kendal's investigation has turned up no suspects. Great. Gen. Kendal's incompetence rears its ugly head once more. Only the necromancer Nimbus has the answer.

Escorting a diplomat couldn't have been addressed in a cutscene?

The good news is that Nimbus and up to seven other heroes will be transported into the next scenario. Practically speaking, I don't think it's necessary to recruit and train seven heroes for the sole purpose of carrying them over. Doing so seems tedious and counterproductive. It's better to save experience points for three stronger heroes than try to spread them out.

Nimbus' special ability is Eagle Eye. As I've already mentioned in previous posts, Eagle Eye is a completely useless skill at this point in the game. Leave it to the bastards of Deyja to send their most useless hero to broker a truce with Erathia. If Queen Catherine refused and decided to execute Nimbus, it would be no big loss for Deyja. Here, have an gift. Did I mention it's just a bag of poop?

Although the scenario is short, you'll still want to maximize opportunities to gain experience for your heroes. The map is littered with treasure chests. Since there's no time limit, you can take your sweet time to customize your heroes in preparation for the next scenario.

However, if the enemy is allowed to linger, he will steal treasure chests and slay random troop stacks. So in a way, there is a sort of 'unofficial' time limit imposed by the map designer. If you take too long to defeat the enemy, you'll pay for it in later scenarios.

My starting hero (Tyris) was strong enough to take down the first necropolis with her starting units (some pikemen, archers, and griffins). Immediately, the purple hero barricaded himself in the second castle and started training liches. When an enemy is holed up in a castle with ranged units, it's plain stupid to launch an attack without flyers or shooters. What did Theoden say in Two Towers? "They will break upon this fortress like water on rock."

After a few weeks of training griffins and visiting learning stones, I took down the second and final necropolis with no problems. If you frighten the enemy AI enough with an early assault, it will be too scared to leave its city.

There's a tree of knowledge that grants an instant level up to any hero who approaches it. In order to maximize your heroes' levels, it's advised to visit the tree after you've exhausted all other opportunities to gain experience.

I also made sure to learn Earth Magic. As I've mentioned in the past, Expert Town Portal is an essential spell for town defense. The enemy AI will assault your heroes relentlessly in the next scenario. Having Town Portal in your spellbook allows you to allocate a single hero to defend all towns while the rest of the heroes go on the offensive.

1 comment:

  1. This map is a munchkin's paradise if you are willing to click end turn button long enough... Neutral stacks (including those that appear randomly in a "Month of creature") event grow 10% each week up to a maximum of 4000 creatures (which takes a year of game time or so) Defeating 4000 black knights gives...a lot of xp.