Friday, July 1, 2011

The Road Home

Faruk Welnin's quest for independence continues in The Road Home. It's a unique map that sees the hero Ryland navigating a gauntlet of obstacles with the grail in hand.

If Ryland dies, the grail is lost and the scenario immediately ends. Welnin's uprising loses steam. He gets beheaded. Yes, the stakes are very high.

To make matters worse, Ryland has few opportunities to recruit new units on the adventure map (aside from a few specific instances I'll mention below). For this reason, I found it crucial to avoid unnecessary battles against stacks of ranged monsters.

The map is divided into territories. Each territory is home to a specific monster type who is sympathetic to Welnin's independence. By paying attention to the game's pop-up boxes, you can figure out which troops are friendly. Since Ryland starts in the northwestern corner of the map, the first group of sympathizers he'll meet are dendroids.

However, I made a big mistake. When I heard that monks in the southwestern territory were sympathetic to my cause, I stupidly assumed that zealots would follow suit. However, the zealots were still loyal to Erathia and gave my troops quite a beating. Ouch.

If you can recruit a large enough army, enemy stacks will choose to flee if encountered. It's an effective method of removing enemies from the overworld without going into battle. Ryland doesn't carry over to the next scenario, so there's no need to maximize experience points.

In the lower right corner of the map, the town of Welnin awaits Ryland's arrival. Most of Welnin's buildings are disabled. So players probably won't be able to rely on its primary defender, Melodia, to clear a path through the forest for Ryland and meet him in the middle.

The forests surrounding Welnin are guarded by pegasi. Melodia's only source of fresh troops is a small dwarf structure below the starting city. If you're able to push through the line of pegasi, Melodia will be poised to gather a lot of gold to fund Ryland's diplomatic endeavors.

In the end, you simply need to bring Ryland to Welnin. There's no need for heroics. You definitely don't need to fight any AI heroes if you don't want to. Just make a beeline to the lower right corner of the map before the enemy gathers its strength. Click on the town hall to build the grail.

Random fact: If you fight an enemy hero who's standing on top of a mine, the battle screen shifts from the overworld terrain to the underground terrain. I never noticed that before. Every time I play Heroes III, I learn something new.

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