Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Farming Towns

The first scenario in Adrienne's campaign is called Farming Towns. After a grim introductory cutscene swarming with festering undead, our brooding heroine is thrown right into the action.

I briefly mentioned in my previous post that the maps in the Playing With Fire campaign are extra large. As a result of this, it takes an eternity for your hero to explore everything. The abundance of swampland makes exploration extra painful because hero movement diminishes until you obtain Expert Pathfinding.

The scenario takes place at the border of Erathia and Tatalia. Therefore, the map is appropriately divided between swampland (western half of the map) and grassland (eastern half of the map). Three garrisons separate Erathia from Tatalia, all reinforced by moderate undead regiments. The enemy consists of Necropolis heroes squatting in Fortresses. Tamika is usually their leader.

Adrienne begins the scenario in the lower right corner of the map and within a day's walk of town. The first step is to upgrade the town into a Castle.

The large map size means there are many cities to capture and defend. In total, there are four Castles and four Fortresses. But while you'll mostly be utilizing Castle creatures in this scenario, you shouldn't hire any clerics and knights to lead them.

The best hero choices are actually Fortress (witch/beastmaster) and Necropolis (necromancer/death knight). That's because the scenario allows you to bring three of Adrienne's strongest allies with her to the next scenario. Castle heroes are significantly less useful in Map 2 and 3 because you won't hire a single Castle unit. Map 2 is all-Fortress. Map 3 features a mix of Fortress and Necropolis cities.

I ended up hiring two beastmasters and one witch to have a balanced (2 might, 2 magic) team. I like balance.

In the northeast corner of the map, there's a vampire infestation. Clearing this area granted my hero access to several stat enhancers. I also rescued a hero named Sir Michael (who has the same portrait as Christian) from a prison near the 'boss' vampires. However, I soon discovered that Sir Michael was useless. So I elected to move him to a nearby Castle and appointed him commander of the garrison.

Why was Sir Michael useless, despite starting at level 11? For starters, he is completely maxed out on useless skills. He cannot learn Wisdom (and cannot learn the best spells in the game) and lacks Logistics and Pathfinding (making him a liability in swampland).

Since heroes are capped at the 12th level, it's clear that the map designer inserted Sir Michael into the scenario to artificially increase the campaign's difficulty. What seems like a reward is actually a terrible punishment. However, Sir Michael starts at level 11. This means you must not let him level up.

If you allow your other heroes to reach level 12, they will follow Adrienne to the next scenario in place of Sir Michael. Engineering this feat will require you spread the wealth of experience around all of your heroes. Also, don't approach any Trees of Knowledge (+1 level) with low level heroes. Wait until your heroes are past level 10 or so to enjoy a nice compounding effect.

The only reason to break Sir Michael out of prison is to make sure the enemy doesn't rescue him first.

Since the next two maps are incredibly long, difficult, and time limited, I wanted to make sure that I completely maxed out my four main heroes' stats. There are numerous mercenary camps, marletto towers, and schools of magic to be found on the map. But one stat enhancer that is often overlooked is the Cage of Warlords structure that can be found inside captured Fortresses. Don't forget it.

Also, remember that it's not necessary to defeat all enemies to complete the scenario. All you need to do is flag every creature dwelling. At one point, I accidentally flagged all of the dwellings and ended the game. I had to reload an earlier save to give my heroes more time to level up and build their stats.

I had hoped to learn Town Portal to make the next scenario easier. However, neither the Fortress nor the Castle can upgrade their mage guilds to level 5. Bummer.

One interesting observation about this map is that every enemy stack is undead. I didn't notice this the first time around, but it's actually kind of cool.


  1. Great stuff, man! I'm eager to see more.

  2. P.S. Can't wait to see you tackle Sir Christian's "Foolhardy Waywardness!"

  3. Great Post. Hope you tackle the Dragon Slayer's campaign soon!

  4. I couldn't believe that I reloaded this map 3 times only to find a Sir Michael without Wisdom again and again...

  5. Town portal is at lvl 4. Is it possible to have it?

  6. Only Re-starting the scenario allows game to change what secondary skills hero gets. I've got Sir michael with wisdom, along with leadership, luck, ballistics, Artillery, offense, armorer and Logistics. also, town portal is 4th level earth magic and sometimes appears on castle town.

    anyway, good posting.