Friday, May 11, 2012

Taming Of The Wild

In Taming of the Wild, the second map in the Festival of Life campaign, Kilgor the barbarian must conquer the wasteland with three allies. This entails clearing the map of all enemy stacks without losing a single battle. If any Kilgor or any of his allies fall in battle, it's game over.

As with the previous map, there are no computer controlled enemy heroes here. You are free to build your stronghold as you please. Because there are no castles to invade or heroes to battle, it makes no sense to learn skills such as Ballistics or Eagle Eye.

Kilgor retains his stats from the previous map. I'm glad I took extra time to run around the previous map and locate all of the stat enhancers because Kilgor doesn't start with a very large army. However, the map is designed in such a way that Kilgor has to open the way for his three allies, who are dispersed in the far corners of the map and blocked by border guards.

Despite these meager beginnings, the map is filled with gold and crystals, the two resources most essential to barbarian town-building.

Kilgor starts in the center of the map next to the stronghold. There is a subterranean entrance nearby which leads to a cavern filled with medusae and a powerful stack of black dragons. Kilgor's starting area is populated by hostile goblins, which are easy to kill but time-consuming to engage.

There are three passageways from the stronghold to the outer ring of mountains. They are guarded by stacks of green dragons. In this outer ring, Kilgor will find the keymaster tents needed to free his companions. However, these tents are guarded by dangerous foes like cyclopses and manticores.

Kilgor's companions are (probably) randomized. However, in my playthrough, I ended up with Gurnisson in the north, Gird in the southwest, and Oris in the southeast. I stupidly taught Gurnisson the wisdom skill even though he did not have a spellbook and would not have any way to obtain one until significantly later.

However, Gurnisson had the easiest time clearing out his sector of the map as it was populated with soft-skinned wolf riders. The southeast is a dirt land filled with griffins and a boat. Oris had the most difficult time. The griffins very quickly swarm Oris' cyclopes. The southwest is a swamp filled with serpent flies. Gird started with a few behemoths who shredded the serpent flies like a hot knife through butter. However, the trouble with swamps is it takes forever to travel anywhere.

It took about a month before Kilgor finally reached the tents, reunited with his companions, pooled their resources, and obliterated all life in the area.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Razor Claw

In Razor Claw, Kilgor must slaw the Ancient Behemoth 'Razor Claw' and his family. The beasts live in an underground cave at the northeastern corner of the map. Kilgor begins at the northwestern corner of the map with no strongholds and 7 days to capture one.

Of the three starting bonuses, I chose the cyclopses. Although the Behemoth is awfully strong, I favor ranged units.

Thankfully, there are no enemy heroes to contend with on this map, just scattered creeps. None of the strongholds can upgrade their Mage Guilds beyond Level 3 or build Behemoth Crags. Kilgor is also limited to the 12th level. After conquering my second stronghold, my Kilgor reached his ceiling. So I spent the rest of the map avoiding combat and hunting down stat-enhancing structures like the arena or mercenary camp.

Despite the abundance of big open lands and passageways, may strong creature stacks guard chockpoints such that the map is actually horseshoe-shaped. You start in the northwest and conquer your way down along the coast and then eastward along the edge of the mountain. Eventually, your path loops back to the beginning. There's no real need to backtrack on foot because you'll find more than enough creature generators along the way.

Many of the creature stacks you encounter will also offer to join. Keep an eye out for friendly ogre-magi. After you've captured all strongholds, you'll find a portal that brings you back to your original stronghold, should you desire to boost your army strength for the final encounter. At this point, assuming you've been building new structures every turn, you should be able to train cyclopses and thunderbirds.

There's a boat south of the first stronghold with a sign informing you that it belongs to Yog. As you may recall, Yog is the half-genie turned barbarian who has made appearances throughout the series. I found this little reference quite nice. If you actually steal Yog's boat, you'll come across a whirlpool which takes you to the Golden Bow. This artifact will remove all ranged penalties and make killing Razor Claw much easier.

Before you can fight Razor Claw and finish the map, you'll have to battle the souls of the behemoths victims. This just means you fight an army of wights and wraiths. No explanation is ever given as to who raised these guys from the dead or why they never tried to take revenge on the behemoth. I thought it was unnecessarily silly.

Razor Claw and his family are not too dangerous. At this point, I had a large army of cyclopses and ogre magi on hand. After a short battle, I completed the map.

Festival Of Life

It has been a busy school year for me. Let me explain what I've been up to. In addition to completing the first year of my MBA program, I've been searching for a summer internship in San Francisco. Aside from that, I'm working with a company in Korea to figure out marketing strategy for some mobile apps. My life has been so busy that I've hardly had any time for games at all (just an some occasional clicks in CityVille or a match in League of Legends).

Today was the first time since July that I've actually had a moment's rest. That's why I dusted off my old copy of Armageddon's Blade and started the Festival of Life campaign. Well, enough about me.

Festival of Life (or FoL for short) follows the barbarian Kilgor as he seeks to topple Winston Boragus from his throne and take over the barbarian tribes in Krewlod. Those who have played Heroes IV know that Kilgor eventually gets his hands on the Sword of Frost and destroys the planet with Gelu. I don't know the details of how that particular exchange occurs. But I've heard that the Heroes Chronicles chapters flesh it out. In FoL, Kilgor is just a lowly barbarian with big dreams.