Master of Magic:

Hobbits of Death


1.  Setup
2.  Welcome to Arcanus!
3.  First Contact
4.  L'enfer, c'est les autres
5.  The Shareean Campaign
6.  Preparations
7.  Hobbits of Death
8.  And Then There Were Two
9.  There Can Be Only One
10. Closing Thoughts

1. Setup

As you've surmised from the title of this report, I've already decided to be a mage of darkness. Now, I could go all out and start with 11 death spellbooks, and summon wraiths as my first military move. Wraiths have a lifestealing attack (so they are one of the few death creatures that can heal), and also the ability to create undead units from slain enemies. Like all summoned death creatures, wraiths have poison/death/cold/illusion immunity. With a flying rate of two squares per turn, wraiths can demolish most opposition before they even have a chance to field units capable of countering, and then raise slain units up as undead to babysit the cities just conquered. [The undead make very good babysitters. Children are naturally afraid of them, and daddy won't try to sleep with them.] [Unless he's a necro.] As you might imagine, wraiths would not make for a particularly entertaining report, so I decide to give myself a handicap.

My wizard starts out with 11 ability points. As illustrated in the wizard portrait, I have chosen alchemy (one point) and warlord (two points) as special abilities. The other eight points go into death spellbooks.

The eight books let me start the game with seven death spells sans research; I will describe the ones I intend to use.

Weakness is a combat spell that will decrease the attack strength (not to hit) of an enemy unit by two points if it fails to resist (-2 penalty) the spell.

Dark Rituals doubles the amount of magic power produced by the religious buildings in the target city, by sacrificing some lucky citizens to the gods of death. Yes, that's right, lucky. There are lots of people who want to feel closer to their gods. The spell costs one mana in maintenance per turn, cuts population growth by 25%, and increases the number of rebels by one.

Black Sleep is another combat spell; it puts the target unit to sleep if it fails to resist (-3 penalty). Sleeping units cannot perform actions in combat, and take full damage from any attacks.

Darkness is a combat enchantment. Creatures of death gain one point each in attack, defense, and resistance, whereas creatures of life get the same as a penalty.

Mana Leak can only be incanted in battle. Enemy spellcasters (heroes, as well as their controlling wizard) lose five points of mana per turn. Enemy units with magical ranged attacks also lose one ammo per turn.

And, as you know, I've picked halflings (hobbits) to retrieve the one ring and make me Master of Magic. Or something like that. Hobbits have quick population growth (+20 people per turn over normal), and their farmers are 50% more effective, but the race has a restricted technology tree. All of their units move at a foot speed of one square per turn, and cannot build engineers. Halfling units suffer -1 to melee attack strength, but garner a +1 resistance bonus. Halflings are also lucky; this means that their to hit, defense, and resistance rolls get an extra 10% chance of succeeding.

I will be playing on the hardest difficulty: impossible. The computer cheats like a Zero-Clutter pubby on this setting, but all the other levels are absolute cakewalks. As I mentioned in the primer, MoM ain't exactly the deepest game ever. There will be four enemy wizards in the game.

2. Welcome to Arcanus!

Dateline Arcanus, January 1400. With saccharine words, I have seduced the halfling hamlet of Hell-Hole into allowing me to take control of their government. My first act as mayor is to order the construction of a granary, which increases the food harvest by two, and increases the population growth by 20 people per month (in the picture, you can see that they're already reproducing at 90 hobbits per month). I'm so benevolent.

Mathematical Digression

We assume that pregnant female hobbits have a gestation period of approximately nine months, and that the great majority of young are conceived singly, i.e. not twins. We further assume that the male:female ratio of any general halfling population is 1:1. Modelling the population growth as an exponential function of the number of months since month 0, we have


where P0 is the initial population at time zero, r is the growth rate, and t is the number of time units that have passed since time zero.

Plugging in the values from the hamlet of Hell-Hole (P0=4000, r=90/4000=0.0225), we estimate that in nine months, the population will have increased by approximately 900 people. With our assumption of equal numbers of males and females, we can only conclude that almost 50% of halfling females are pregnant at any given time. Simplifying the situation by ignoring relationship types not sanctioned by religious "thinkers" of the age, we offer these two observations:
  • Halflings obviously have no access to birth control.
  • It is good to be a halfling male.
We will call these two results the Halfling Growth Theorem.

Had the lands around the hamlet been more fertile, the growth rate would have been even larger, causing a commensurate increase in the population estimate for nine months hence.

On the town mini-map, you can see that there's an iron ore deposit in the northwest; it reduces unit production costs by 5%. To the southeast, there's a lair, which I'll explore later. The city's on a river, and this gives a gold bonus. There's also a desert square right beside a river. Whatever. But what's this 1/2 thingy on the mini-map? It seems there is a town somewhere to the northwest, eating up half of the production in that forest. My hobbits, being sedentary creatures, never bothered to make friends with their neighbours. It falls to me, a much more amiable person, to rectify the situation.

I adjust my power spending, putting all eight points into increasing the mana pool. With such a paltry sum, any invested in research or casting skill would be wasted. I pour power into a magic spirit; it will serve as an early-game scout. When my apprentice asks me to pick a spell to learn, I pick Shadow Demons. It won't be done any time soon, given that I've got zero research, but the creatures could be handy in the future.

With first-turn management out of the way, I order my starting garrison units (one spear and one sword company) to strike out from Hell-Hole and investigate the rumours of the settlement to the northwest. This leaves Hell-Hole completely defenceless, but this early in the game, there should be little danger.

A couple of turns later, my suspicions have been confirmed. Barbarians control the neutral city of Strassburg. My hobbit scouts, seeing two barbarian swords on guard duty, decide to try their luck by entering the city limits.

April 1400. The barbarian warriors do not take kindly to the approaching sword- and spear-hobbits. Since I'm still busy putting mana into my magic spirit, I've got none pooled, and the halflings are on their own. The barbarians stupidly advance into melee range, wasting their throwing weapons advantage. The sword-hobbits lash out with their blades, wiping out one barbarian unit. The doomed barbarians manage to counterattack and kill off one halfling figure. Although the sword-hobbits still have enough energy to take a swing at the remaining defenders, I decide to spread the damage out a little. The spear-hobbits poke their little spears at the barbarian swords. Now, some of you will be sniggering about "hobbits poking their little spears," so let me clarify with a series of pictures:

"Poking their little spears." It's literal. You people have dirty minds.

So, the spears attack, and do just as well as their sword-swinging siblings. Strassburg is mine, along with 40 gold of loot, at the cost of two hobbit figures, which will be recruited back in a turn or two. I immediately order the subjugated populace to train barbarian spears. They are awfully compliant, what with the recent demonstration of hobbit spear-prowess. With the loot, I buy the granary back home in Hell-Hole. There's nothing all that special about the surroundings of Strassburg; the only resource is a nightshade plant.

May 1400. The granary in Hell-Hole is done, so I switch production to a settlers unit. My magic spirit arrives, and I send it scouting to the south. The temple lair is unguarded, and there are 50 gold coins free for the taking. It will be spent on buying production. I start to summon another spirit to scout the north, and the hobbit units make their way back to Hell-Hole. With the increased growth rate brought on by the granary, a garrison will be needed to "convince" rebellious youngsters from the next generation to enter the workforce, instead of wasting their time waving their arms around and dancing.

November 1400. A few months pass. The second spirit arrives at Hell-Hole, and it floats away to spy out the north and east. The first spirit finds another lair to the south, but it's guarded by a basilisk. I'll have to leave it 'till later, because I'd prefer having ranged units before taking on a creature like that. The shade, looping back a bit to the north, finds an unguarded dungeon, and collects 50 gold for me. Both spirits find wild game; so there are promising locations for new towns.

April 1401. The barbarian city has two units of spears guarding it, enough to eliminate unrest. Having already finished a granary, the populace sets to work on a sawmill. I've more or less decided that I don't want barbie units, so Strassburg will be built up as a research/money town.

The hobbit settlers are ready in Hell-Hole. I swap production to spears; they will go to the site of the new city once they're trained. After that, I'm planning for another settler/spear pair so I can claim both of those juicy deer. A marketplace and a farmer's market will follow.

3. First Contact

May 1401. Oh, poop. My settlers are moving to the south, but the spirit scout runs into competition.

Like me, Sharee is a death mage. Unlike me, she's got 11 death books, as well as special abilities Infernal Power, Mana Focussing, and Conjurer. So, not only does she start off with more spells than me, she also researches more quickly than I do, and pulls in and spends mana much more efficiently than I do. And she's already got a hero in her service. This is not going to be fun for my hobbitses.

OK, change of plans. I will settle the area to the south of my capital, by hook or by crook. Sharee's settler, if it tries to plunk down roots, will have its outpost razed by my roving spirit. Destroying an outpost carries less of a diplomatic penalty -- in fact, none, as far as I can tell -- than razing a bona fide settlement. Not that this matters all that much, since the diplomacy model in MoM is worthless on impossible level.

I will switch Hell-Hole to climb the tech tree for slingers, which are the high-end unit for hobbits. Slingers are primarily ranged units, having a six-ammo sling attack for each of its eight figures. Experienced slingers are quite powerful; able to kill mid-level units in one or two volleys even at long range.

In addition to supporting research/econ, the barbarian town will pump out settlers/spears to take some land to the north of Hell-Hole, and produce barbie shaman units to support the slingers. Shaman increase the natural healing rate of units in the same square, and have the purification ability. With any luck, I'll be able to get rid of Sharee before she gets too powerful.

Sharee initiates contact via her crystal mirror. She doesn't seem too impressed with me and my hobbits.

Hark Satan666, I come for you!

October 1401. Success! Using my magic spirit to run interference, Sharee's settler is blocked from claiming the wild game to the south. The outpost of Hobbit-Tpwn is founded. Things get even better when Sharee's settler tries to engage my spirit in combat; it dies when it tries to flee. Chalk one up for the short guys. In the meantime, I use stockpiled gold and alchemised mana to finish a barbarian settler in Strassburg, and a sawmill in  Hell-Hole. I change production in Strassburg to a barbie spear, to be followed by a shrine, and queue up a forester's guild in my capital. Scouting to the north reveals some tempting minerals. I decide to take the gold deposit first, since I'm probably going to be purchasing a lot of units for upcoming conflicts. There's also a tower of wizardry up there; these towers are one way of travelling between the worlds of Arcanus and Myrror. Once the tower's guardians are defeated, any units in the square can cross into the opposite plane.

(Not So) Mathematical Digression

As has been previously noted, settlers create outputs, which grow into cities. The growth rate is correlated with the abundance of food resources. We therefore conclude that a city with wild game in its radius grows more quickly than a city without; this in turn implies that activities required for reproduction is likewise increased.

Were we people of less discerning taste and discretion, we would speculate about why the presence of animals would cause a rise in reproductive activities. However, we are indeed people of discerning taste and discretion, and will therefore leave the derivation of the Corollary to the Halfling Growth Theorem to the interested, and less discreet, reader.

April 1402. The northern spirit finds a chaos node, another gold deposit, and mithril ore! If I can found a city there, and construct an alchemist's guild, all units produced there will get one extra attack and defense from mithril raiment. Unfortunately, Sharee will probably declare war on me before the town becomes self-sufficient enough, so I'll stick with my original plan. The southern ghost notices that there's a choke point below another neutral barbarian city, Rostock. Even if I could take and hold it with my halfling melee units, it would do no good -- Sharee's already summoned two flying wraiths, who are guarding a conquered chaos node. I can't take those wraiths with inexperienced melee units.

June 1402. According to the updated map data, Sharee's trapped at the edge of the continent. This means that she'll be eyeing my lands soon, and I'm somewhat surprised she hasn't taken the neutral barbarian city between our two little empires. My barbarians start erecting huts in the new outpost of Bromburg near the gold deposit. I find another node in the north, this one of sorcery. It's too far away at this point, and I'm still too worried about Sharee to think about claiming the additional power.

October 1402. Hero for hire! But she's a melee fighter with no troop-boosting abilities -- not very useful to a death mage -- so I take a pass. Sharee's sending another settler up; I'm going to summon a third magic spirit to tail it.

November 1403. It's been a quiet year, but the tension is palpable. Sharee's settler has just founded a city over to the east of Hell-Hole, which I raze with the spirit. My enemy's also got two stacks of three units each intruding in my territory. The fighter's guild has just been finished in Hell-Hole, but I haven't got any actual slingers yet. The industry there allows for one slinger every four turns. I also have to keep in mind that the slingers will require gold and food for upkeep; if Sharee suddenly overwhelms one of my villages, my units could desert, and that would be game, set, match.

July 1404. Jafar, a wizard I haven't met, casts a global spell: Wind Mastery. Sharee hasn't attacked yet, but more and more units are streaming up. It sort of looks like she's trying to take some of the magic nodes. I decide I'm going to have to cull the herd once I get four slingers. Also, the continent's been more or less fully mapped by my spirits, and it's just me and Sharee.

The green dots are my towns; the situation looks better than it is. My capital is the only city with the capacity to produce useful military units. None of my cities have marketplaces, and my treasury, supporting too many troops, relies on alchemy to keep in the black. There are two neutral villages, the one noted previously at the choke point, and one on an island off the coast of the continent. Sharee, thanks to my bloodthirsty magic spirits, has just her original city. The blank part of the mainland is rife with nodes and lairs; there are five each of magic nodes and dungeons. The continent also sports two towers of wizardry, which will make an invasion of Myrror much easier.

December 1404. Four veteran slingers move out from my capital, heading to intercept Sharee's units wandering between Strassburg and Hell-Hole. I decide to engage a stack of two swords first, and since Sharee doesn't cast any spells, the slingers get away without a scratch on them. I engage one of her heroes the next turn, and he flees when he recognises superior numbers. Unfortunately, he dies while running. The slingers stump their way south, towards the unwitting and witless Sharee.

4. L'enfer, c'est les autres

April 1405. Scouting the seas to the north, I run into another opposition wizard's units.

Hail, glorious Satan666. I, Lo Pan bear greetings.

Lo Pan has four sorcery spellbooks and seven chaos spellbooks, as well as being a chaneller and famous. His fame has obviously been working for him, because he's got four heroes in his roster. Since he's got no death spellbooks and I have no arcane spells, I can't trade magics with him.

My curious spirit hasn't managed to spot any of Lo Pan's cities yet, but he's located to the northwest of my continent.

September 1405. Sharee's finally taken Rostock, that barbarian town between us. Two of her wraiths are camping outside of Hobbit-Tpwn. Luckily, the only units in my army with any chance of taking on the wraiths have just arrived. Five slingers, thinking they've got enough stones for a rumble with death's minions, invade the wraiths' personal space.

Since the wraiths are defending, they get to act first. With a flying speed of two, it will only be two combat turns before they are within melee range of my slingers. The first volley of stones manages to take out one out of the four figures in a wraith unit. The second takes out another two, and then the wraiths are in molestation range and things start to fall apart. With their lifesteal attacks, the creatures of death demolish an entire unit of slingers. My third combat round sees the damaged wraith unit eliminated, but when Sharee issues her orders, I am down to three slingers. The halflings are just not powerful enough: the damage they inflict is sucked back by the wraiths during their attack turn. Eventually, the slingers run out of ammo, so I have no choice but to order a retreat. To my chagrin, none of them survive. Worse, two of my dead slingers have been turned into undead. I set to rebuilding my army.

December 1405. Disaster strikes again. A group of phantom warriors from a lair somewhere runs into one of my fledgling colonies and burns it to the ground.

February 1406. Lo Pan's territory is pitiful. Aside from the AI being pretty awful, MoM's random map generator can give pretty stinky results.

June 1406. Sharee's got quite a force building up in Rostock: three wraiths and assorted normal melee units. I keep building slingers in Hell-Hole, but there's a rebel there; the city needs a temple. As a temporary measure, Strassburg will train a shaman and a spear barbie to pacify the rebels.

November 1406. A single Shareean wraith is making its way north, and she's got her undead slingers in my territory. I decide to risk attacking the wraith. I move one halfling spear and four slings to attack Sharee's 3/4-figure wraiths.

Sharee casts Black Sleep on a slinger unit; due to the spell's resistance-cutting nature, it punches through the halflings' high resistance. The wraiths advance. My three conscious slingers do their thing, but do not manage to kill off any figures. The wraiths advance again; they will be in striking distance of the snoozing slingers next turn. Twenty-four leather straps whir in the air, but only manage to eliminate two of the three wraith figures. Sharee advances to touch the sleeping unit -- quite frankly, I find such behaviour sick and disgusting, as well as dishonourable, and I hope you do, too -- and, keeping in mind that sleeping units take full damage from all attacks, I am somewhat surprised when one napping slinger figure remains standing after Sharee's attack!

Mathematical Digression

In the primer to MoM, we briefly discussed how combat works. Each unit has an attack strength that is common to every figure in the unit. Wraiths have an attack strength of seven. In the current battle, the unit has been reduced from four to one figure; and hence Sharee's wraith could only have done seven points of damage to the sleeping slingers.

Now, the slingers, not having yet achieved a rank that awards a hit point bonus, have eight figures at one hit point each. Therefore, the entire unit has a total of eight hit points.

It is left as a reader exercise to prove that the author is a moron for being surprised.

So the wraiths have been defeated, and all units live to fight another day. The damaged slingers start recruiting new figures. I decide to switch their growth hormones to the non-drowsy formula.

December 1406. My spirit heads back to scout Sharee's fortress. She's got two wraiths parked there; quite clearly she's got 'em coming out of every orifice. Sharee runs a priest and two undead slingers into my attack group. Battle ensues; by spreading out the damage among Sharee's forces (thereby maximising my side's damage output, as there is no overkill of wounded units), I manage to defeat her without unit losses on my side.

February 1407. DeathForge, a hobbit outpost, is founded to one side of the mithril deposit noted previously. I decide I will deliberately overlap my new cities a bit, so two settlements can benefit from the mithril. I hope to enslave Sharee's high humans and use them to make mithril paladins.

July 1407. My slingers spend six months skirmishing with Sharee's trespassers. Her combat cantrips now include Black Prayer and Possession, but the ranged attack of my hobbits serves them well. The end result is that I don't lose any units, and they gain valuable experience. Indeed, three of the six slingers are now elite!

January 1408. Sharee casts Evil Presence on my capital -- the enchantment negates the pacifying effects of any temple buildings in the target city, if the controlling wizard has no death magic. I'll repeat that last part: if the controlling wizard has no death magic. Sharee's none too bright.

Despite her lack of brains, Sharee can certainly field an army. She attacks my slingers with three of her never-ending supply of wraiths. I'm not really in danger of losing the battle, but I don't want to lose any slingers: this bunch has gained a fair bit of experience, my production capacity can't keep up with constantly dying units, and slingers move slowly, especially in the roadless situation in which I currently find myself. Luckily, my troops don't suffer fatal damage in the battle.

May 1408: One of my ghosts runs afoul of Jafar's territory, somewhere to the east. Jafar greets me cheerily:

Welcome to my territory. Don't plan on staying!

Jafar has nine sorcery spellbooks, one chaos spellbook, and two life books. His abilities include alchemy, sorcery mastery, and sage master. My main worry at this point is that since he's a sorcerer, he'll have Guardian Wind available. My slingers will be rendered useless, and hobbit melee fighters won't fare well against the higher-end troops Jafar might pump out.

Three of my four opponents have now been identified. The last one will doubtless be on the Myrran world, without competition hindering development.

Sharee attacks again with yet more wraiths; four of them, led by a hero, float over to my seven slingers and one shaman.

My army is completely made up of ranged attackers. Before the wraiths get into close quarters, the slingers manage to kill two of the death units, and take one more down to 3/4 figures. Sharee's Possession and her hero's Weakness spells fail to take hold. The two wraiths massage a sling group, but don't manage to kill all of its figures. Apparently, Sharee's force includes a night stalker; an invisible unit. It's clear that I'm going to be losing units at this point; the question is how many. The slingers ignore Sharee's hero (not in melee range yet, so not an immediate danger) and the night stalker (can't attack invisible units with a ranged attack), instead taking out one more wraith unit, and damaging the remaining one. The last wraith recovers by draining the life out of the wounded slings. The end result: I lose one unit to wraiths, and another to the night stalker, in return for unit experience and one fame point. I count myself lucky; if Sharee had cast Black Prayer, things could have turned out much worse.

And then, Lo Pan (for no reason) and Sharee (for abundant reason) both declare war on me.

I will follow you to the ends of the worlds and destroy you without mercy.

War has begun. The time for talk has passed.

5. The Shareean Campaign

September 1408: Well, since we're at war now, there's no point in waiting. Five slingers and a shaman march into Rostock. The battle is short and bloody; Sharee's barbarian defenders are all melee units. Rostock is looted for 683 gold, and I gain one more fame.

October 1408: Odorf Sniggab, the bard hero, offers his services! I gladly accept because of his valuable leadership ability. Since I am a warlord, I will be able to put Odorf's leadership skills to use immediately. He's also a caster, but not a very good one. As he gains levels, he'll be able to use magic to aid my troops in combat.

Then, Jafar initiates contact to start a new era of cooperation between our peoples.

Warnings were not enough. Now you will feel the wrath of Jafar.

He's so cool, able to conjugate in the third person singular.

June 1409: Sharee marshalls two wraiths and two werewolves outside of Rostock; Odorf leads eight slingers to the defense of the town. The defending hobbits get the first move. As usual, the slingers chuck their initial stones towards the wraiths, reducing them to 1 and 2/4 figures. Sharee takes her first turns to advance the death troops, and cast Black Prayer and Possession. Normally, Possession wouldn't be all that much of a danger to resistant halflings, but with Black Prayer in effect (-2 resistance), one of the slingers is brainwashed into following Sharee's orders. The traitors turn to face the hobbits behind them, and 5/8 startled figures fall to the ground, dead from wounds to their noggins. I order loyal slingers to attack the death summons, judging them more dangerous, and believing that the turncoat halflings will focus their energies on finishing off their backstabbed neighbours. The battle unfolds as expected; in the end, I've lost the possessed unit and the unit they targeted. Odorf levels up from the experience, but the lack of roads is going to kill me if Sharee keeps sending waves of wraiths in a war of attrition.

January 1410: Sharee's been quiet, so I move the halfling garrison out of Rostock. Seven slings, a shaman, and Odorf will try to push Sharee out of her chaos node, guarded by two wraiths and a hero. Despite Sharee punching her Black Prayer through the node's dispelling aura, and the presence of another hidden night stalker, I manage to liberate the node for my own use. With the additional magic power, I decide to invest in augmenting my casting skill.

May 1410: Jafar's territory has been mapped; he's confined to a substantial island to the east of my holdings. The water separating us shouldn't be a problem for Jafar; as a sorcerer, he can cast flight spells. He can also construct a navy -- as previously mentioned, he's already got Wind Mastery in effect, so his ships would be very effective in ferrying military units to my continent.

Meanwhile, my army skirmishes with Sharee's vagabonds. I make sure to separate Odorf and  the shaman from the attackers (I don't want to lose either of them to a lucky shot from Sharee's spellcasting), and re-stack them later to heal and provide extra defense. Sharee stupidly continues to "inflict" Evil Presence on my cities.

July 1410: A chaos node close to the hobbit settlement of DeathForge spits out attackers: a fire giant and two hellhounds. Obviously, I don't want to lose my mithril colony when everyone on the plane is at war with me. Not that I'd want to lose it in any case. DeathForge is guarded by a unit of spears and a unit of slingers.

The fire giant can really muck things up for me: it's got two shots of a strength-10 boulder-heaving attack, which the AI will invariably aim at any opposing ranged attackers. I have just enough mana to cast Black Sleep; the giant fails to resist, leaving just the hellhounds for me to defeat. By positioning the spear-hobbits in front of the slingers, I manage to obstruct the hellhounds from attacking efficiently, allowing the slingers to mop up the invaders.

November 1410. It's the moment of truth. Odorf leads eight slingers into Sharee's compound in Bremen. Sharee, with the defender's initiative, throws Black Prayer. In terms of archers, she has three slingers, a priest, and a hero with a bow; these units target one of my slingers at range and take it down to 4/8 figures. Sharee's melee troops, three wraiths and an orcish sword company, advance. Odorf and I both try to cast Black Sleep on enemy slingers, but their resistance is too high. My slingers return fire, whittling down Sharee's archers.

During the second round of combat, Sharee casts Terror. Normally, my hobbits' high resistance would render this a trivial matter, but with Black Prayer in effect, terror could strike my forces at very inoppurtune junctures. The next few combat turns consist purely of ranged combat: my slingers concentrate on taking down Sharee's wraiths, while Sharee tries to finish off my damaged hobbit unit. Her melee soldiers don't advance; this allows for her ranged units to take shots at mine, while my slingers must contend with distance penalties when targeting the wraiths.

Both sides eventually run out of ammo, so it's down to fisticuffs. Sharee's got two wraiths at 1/4 figures, one slinger at 1/8 figures, and a hero at full health. By microing my damaged units, I should be able to escape without unit losses, but then Terror strikes: Odorf is rooted in place for three entire turns. I don't want to lose him, because his leadership ability will come in very handy when moving units out to get combat experience, but he just can't overcome his fear. The wraiths and Sharee's hero close in; my slingers try to cover, but can't due to their slow foot speed, and Odorf blocking the way. Luckily, Odorf breaks out of his psychological paralysis just in the nick of time, and my brave slingers form a protective shield around him. The hobbits whip out their leather slings and crack them like, uh, whips when Sharee's rag-tag units attack. I gain three fame points.

My army storms into town; in the chaos, they destroy the town granary. Later, they will plunder almost 3000 gold from Sharee's coffers. The slingers race up the steps of the magic tower to confront the wizardess. They goggle at her sartorial style.

[I have taken the liberty of blocking out the relevant parts of Sharee's anatomically-correct anatomy. I know the tasteful people frequenting the community would frown upon smut in battle reports.]

A message pops up, informing me that Sharee has been defeated by my hobbitses. From the rubble of her personal library, I learn the secrets of the Summoning Circle and Zombie Mastery spells.

With Sharee defeated, I make new plans. In the short term, I'm going to purchase buildings with my treasure, and now that I've finally got a high human city under my control, I'll be making engineers to build roads to connect my cities. In the longer term, I plan to found a high human city across from DeathForge, sharing the mithril deposit to make paladins. I will attempt to defeat the nodes and lairs on the continent for loot and magic power; whether I am patient enough to wait for mithril slingers (it would be nice to give them experience before sending them against enemy wizards) remains to be seen. I will also try to colonise more of the land, and summon magic spirits at critical boundary points, to spot for incoming enemies.

April 1411. I've cast Dark Rituals on all my towns with at least a temple. Halflings and barbarians happily traipse to the altar of sacrifice, and I notice that the barbies are much more enthusiastic about it than the hobbits. I've got barbarian citizens jumping about waving their arms, volunteering to be sacrificed. Such patriotism makes my eyes get misty.

With the increase in magic power, my economy is at its strongest since the game started. I have 2520 gold and pull in nine more per month, and 538 mana, accruing 29 more per turn. Though the gold amount is pretty ridiculous, I don't want to spend it just yet, because my current city projects (mostly production-increasing buildings and temples) are quite expensive.

6. Preparations

July 1411. I've decided to clear out the nodes with my non-mithril troops. At the rate things are going, it will take too long to get mithril paladins and slingers ready. Hopefully I will be able to replace non-mithril troops bit by bit.

The first human engineers pop out of Bremen. I decide to alternate engineers and settlers from that city. This is because a human town has a much larger tech tree than a hobbit one, in terms of financial buildings. Cash flow could become a problem if I build too many halfling cities. I start making research buildings in my towns.

October 1412. Sss'ra, the Myrran wizard I haven't met yet, casts Armageddon. I can't do a thing about it, because I have no dispelling magics. I make peace with Lo Pan, but can't trade arcane scrolls with him, probably because he's too far ahead of me in research. Jafar refuses peace. I set my halflings to work at farming: there will be plenty of need for food, given all the rebels that Armageddon creates, and the arable land that will be destroyed by rising volcanoes.

May 1413. All of my towns are farming like mad, but the wizardom is still only making seven surplus food, due to rebels. I sort of wish I could implement a "don't work, don't eat" policy, but I don't want my troops to desert, so there's no way around it. Two cities are making trade goods, but overall, my cities are still losing 26 gold per turn. Luckily, my mana surplus covers this; I can also decrease casting skill spending to increase mana and alchemy further. Sss'ra casts Just Cause, which is sort of ironic, given that he's destroying the worlds using Armageddon. Odorf, sojourning in the uncivilised portions of my continent, has picked up a couple of artefacts.

June 1413. Odorf, in his new accoutrements, leads his band of hobbits into a chaos node. They win with little difficulty, and loot a Summon Hero spell. As much as I want to rally a few more heroes to my standard, I cannot spare the mana -- if Sss'ra keeps casting destructive spells like Armageddon (and there's little doubt he will), I'll need a healthy mana pool to staunch the gold hemorrhage it will cause. Coincidentally, I notice that food/money production are OK now: somehow, Armageddon's been cancelled. Hooray!

August 1413. I'm starting to settle new cities, including a high human town opposite to DeathForge. I dub the human mithril colony "Cirith-Ugly," and guard it with four slings.

November 1413. Lo Pan feels an urgent need to chat.

War has begun. The time for talk has passed.

Well, Mr Pan, how can I respond but to note that the last person who said that to me ended up flashing her [censored] at me.

April 1414. DeathForge can now build veteran mithril slingers. Guess what it'll be building for the forseeable future? Odorf and his buddies take a sorcery node with no difficulty.

May 1414. My first spell finally gets researched: Shadow Demons is now at my disposal, and only after 170 turns or so... I direct my thinkers next to Wall of Darkness. I immediately start the chant for calling shadow demons, but it will take quite a bit of time at my current casting level.

October 1414. Odorf takes nature node with no problems. He finds a better weapon in the loot pile, and upgrades his morning star to a sword.

December 1414. Odorf and company defeat a nature node, but its ranged guardians clobber the barbie shaman; I will replace the unit with a halfling mithril shaman.

January 1415. Sss'ra makes contact: he's broken through the barrier between the planes.

I come in peace! Let us share the land and prosper!

Yeah, right, lizard boy. You've got the whole Myrran plane to yourself; get offa my continent.

His unit is a flying settler, greedily surveying the northern part of my continent. From the fact that his settler flies, I surmise he controls draconians.

Sss'ra has six spellbooks each in life and chaos magic. While this doesn't give him any research or casting shortcuts, it does give him a fairly good chance of getting powerful attack spells (case in point: Armageddon), and equally powerful defense spells. Sss'ra also started with the Myrran "ability," meaning he started the game on the less-crowded plane.

April 1415. Sss'ra casts Armageddon again. He contacts me to explain his actions.

I am determined to free the world of your tyrrany!

What a way to come in peace, wishing to share the land and prosper. Vote Sss'ra!

December 1415. Sss'ra casts Corruption outside of DeathForge. Luckily, I can create a shaman pretty quickly and clean up the mess. The bigger problem is Armageddon, and there's squat I can do about that.

February 1416. Armageddon has been cancelled. I have a nagging suspicion that Jafar is using his sorcery magic to dispel Sss'ra's chaotic enchantments. I firmly decide that my next target will be the lizard from Myrror. Because of him, many of my cities are now mountainous ski resorts.

May 1416: Jafar casts Aura of Majesty. Oddly, this doesn't affect my perception of him. As far as I'm concerned, Jafar's sole purpose in life is to dispel Armageddon for me.

June 1416: My "scientists" finish beta testing Wall of Darkness. I direct my them to start work on Lycanthropy. Gee, those libraries sure boost that research.

December 1416. Sss'ra has a city to my east; he's taken over that neutral settlement. There's also a tower of wizardry on the island; he's probably sending troops through there. I'm going to try and plug that hole with some hobbits.

March 1417. Again, Sss'ra casts Armageddon. I frantically divert my citizens' livelihoods to the agriculture sector. A galley is on its way to ferry mithril slingers to the eastern island; another galley is en route to Odorf in the north, to bring his group to assault Lo Pan. By this time, I've summoned five shadow demons, and I'll have six in couple of turns. They will plane shift to seek out Sss'ra's capital, but their speed of one will make this a painfully slow process.

July 1417. Lycanthropy is added to my arsenal. I switch research to Recall Hero; given that I have no means of healing Odorf, this could be a useful cantrip. Sss'ra has a string of gargoyles in the heartland of my hobbit nation, so I divert my mithril slingers closer to my capital.

My six shadow demons find one of Sss'ra's draconian cities practically right where they shift into Myrror. I initiate combat against the halberdiers and shaman in the garrison. Sss'ra opens by casting Invulnerability on one of his halberd-swinging dracos, advancing his melee units, and targeting a shadow demon with his shaman. With a substantial death army, the first thing I do is cast Darkness to increase their effectiveness. The enchantment serves me well; my troops win the city, gaining two fame points. The six shadow demons, with their regeneration ability, are completely healed after the battle.

August 1417. A travelling merchant offers to sell me the Axe of Severe Pain, on which I take a pass. Sss'ra's string of gargoyles looks like it's going past my capital, and headed for the north of the continent. The mithril slings can't do anything, as they are too slow, so I order them towards the galley waiting to ferry them to the eastern island. I postpone Odorf's campaign against Lo Pan.

September 1417. The shadow demons try to fly out of the captured draconian town, but when a stack of nine doom drakes appears over the horizon, the demons move back to defend. Using Darkness, the ranged attack of my shadow demons, and micromanagement to let regeneration do its work, I manage to overcome Sss'ra's Fireball and Invulnerability spells. Once again, the shadow demons are completely healed after combat, making Sss'ra's sortie a complete waste.

Mathematical Digression

We now have enough information to prove that Master of Orion III is the best turn-based strategy game in the history of the genre, using truth-preserving reasoning on two-valued logic.
  1. Sss'ra's doom drakes are invulnerable (premise)
  2. Therefore, either Sss'ra's doom drakes are invulnerable, or MoO3 is the best turn-based strategy game in the history of the genre (a disjunction is true if either disjunct is true)
  3. Sss'ra's doom drakes were damaged, and then healed, then damaged some more, and then killed (premise)
  4. If something is invulnerable, it cannot be damaged or killed (axiom)
  5. Therefore, by points (3) and (4), Sss'ra's doom drakes could not have been invulnerable
  6. Since (2) was proven to be true, and a minimum of one of the disjuncts of (2) has to be true, and (5) shows that the first one is false, we must logically conclude that:
  7. Master of Orion III is the best turn-based strategy game in the history of the genre

In an ironic note, there was a rumor that Quicksilver could have won the development rights to MoM2.

October 1417. In addition to the gargoyles, Sss'ra has an airship within my borders on Arcanus.

December 1417. Someone's cancelled Armageddon again. Sss'ra sends doom drakes and airships in an attempt to liberate his Myrran folk from my seven shadow demons. I manage to botch my spellcasting, throwing Mana Leak instead of Darkness, but the shadow demons are victorious over Sss'ra's Invulnerability and Healing spell combos. Alas, his drakes managed to fly into the city proper during the battle, razing the town granary and killing 1000 citizens in the process. Way to rescue, Sss'ra.

February 1418. Back on Arcanus, Odorf leads a skirmish with Sss'ra's gargoyles in the north, and my mithril slingers try their luck against a lone engineer on the eastern island. In both battles, Sss'ra engulfs one halfling unit in a fireball, killing them instantly. My armies are being nickel-and-dimed to death.

April 1418. Seven of Odorf's slingers attack two Sss'raian gargoyles and two shaman. Sss'ra's favoured offensive spell, fireball, only manages to take a unit down to 1/8 figures, and I gain one fame for winning the battle.

Given no sightings of Sss'ra's units near his fallen city, my shadow demons invade a sorcery node on Myrror, guarded by some of Sss'ra's draconian soldiers. It turns out that the lizard wizard is out of mana, so my shades win handily.

May 1418. Six slingers sit stubbornly on the tower of wizardry on Sss'ra's Arcanian island. During Sss'ra's turn, they fend off one of his heroes and a couple of archers.

June 1418. My apprentices inscribe Recall Hero into my spellbooks. I order my scholars to research Berserk.

The slingers camping at the tower take a peep into the Myrran plane. To their great surprise, they notice that there's a road right beside the tower -- roads on Myrror reduce foot units' movement costs to zero. The slingers immediately set to scouting. It isn't long before they find Sss'ra's capital. They can't take the defenders (three doom drakes, one troll shaman, one stag beetle, two chimera, and one steam cannon) with the lizard wizard throwing fireballs in support. However, a quick check of Sss'ra's info panel shows that he's got zero mana! Smelling blood, I order my hobbits to the attack.

Sss'ra's ranged units let loose, but fail to do significant damage before my halflings countersling and slay them. When I order the hobbit forces to advance instead of attack, the opposing melee units come out from behind the city walls. The move was the lesser of two evils. They could have stayed under cover, but any defensive bonus gained would have been cut by the decreased range to my slingers, and Sss'ra's units would not have been able to fight from behind the walls unless the slingers marched right up against them. Outside, they at least had a chance of killing off some of the invaders.

Alack, poor Sss'ra, it is not to be. Despite a hidden group of nightblades, the sling-hobbits overwhelm the garrison with naught but straps of leather and smoothed pebbles. Sss'ra's fortress is levelled, and he has been permanently defeated, to boot! Ha! Serves you right for wasting your mana on Armageddon.

I get Dispel Magic and Enchant Item spells from my enemy's library.

7. Hobbits of Death

October 1418. Sss'ra's former cities, connected with magic roads, keep falling to the stack of mithril slings.

March 1419. Odorf's galley finally makes landfall on Lo Pan's island. The galley sets sail for friendly coasts to bring more troops.

May 1419. Jafar casts Great Unsummoning: I lose seven of nine shadow demons. Lo Pan attacks Odorf's company. He recalls a hero, and manages to cook one hobbit unit, but victory is ultimately mine.

June 1419. Berserk has been copied into my spellbooks. I start on Black Prayer, which is sure to come in handy. I start enchanting a shield for Odorf, with a +2 movement attribute.

October 1419. Odorf's shield is done, and I dutifully teleport it to him on Lo Pan's island. I start to summon a hero.

December 1419. My two remaining shadow demons make it across to Jafar's island, and during his turn he attacks with two heroes, three paladins, and a magicians unit.

Calling down Darkness upon the battlefield to aid my demons, I manage to kill one hero in the first turn of combat. Jafar counters by casting Holy Word [each figure in a summoned unit must resist at -2 or be destroyed, undead have additional penalty of -3; units destroyed like this cannot be healed in battle], weakening my demon units by one figure each. Though the shades heavily wound Jafar's second hero, he is recalled before I can finish him off. The demons' melee, without the benefit of regeneration, is too weak against the paladins, so I just let them float until the riders, unable to attack the fliers, retreat.

January 1420. Black Prayer gets added to my spellbook. Drain Power is put onto the queue. Jafar once again attacks my shadow demons, this time destroying them.

February 1420. I've summoned a hero. She doesn't have particularly useful stats, but she does have the caster ability, so she'll be able to help me with overland enchantments. Having no one better clamouring for employment, I hire her.

March 1420. Odorf's been reinforced; he's now stacked with eight slingers. Lo Pan attacks him. For the first time, I can cast two useful combat enchantments on the first turn: Odorf's artefacts give him enough energy to throw Mana Leak, while I get down on my knees and recite Black Prayer. The slingers decimate Lo Pan's archer units, but on his turn, he avenges them by sending an entire unit up in flames right beside Odorf. When the hobbits fail to defeat Lo Pan in the next round, another friendly slinger dies to spectacular pyrotechnics.

April 1420. I reinforce Odorf's squad back up to nine units, and land nine mithril slingers on Jafar's island. Both enemy wizards attack my expeditions. Lo Pan inflicts one lost unit using a fireball.

Jafar attacks with three magicians, which are missile immune. I cast mana leak in order to sap the ranged attacks of the magicians, and prevent Jafar from conjuring multiple fireballs. Nevertheless, I lose one slinger to Jafar's burning onslaught. His magicians, though they possess fireball spells, are not as powerful as their master mage, and fail to do significant damage. Once the wizards are out of mana, they are easy pickings for the sling-whipping hobbits.

May 1420. Drain Power has been added to my list of cantrips. It doesn't look like I'll get a chance to cast it in a worthwhile manner, as Jafar is keeping a pretty healthy mana store. I switch efforts to Black Channels, which will likewise be useless, due to the inability of undead units to heal.

Odorf, scouting Lo Pan's fortress, determines that his hobbit warriors are strong enough to best the wizard in his own home.

(Not So) Mathematical Digression

Lo Pan's capital is surrounded by city walls, and also a Wall of Fire. It would therefore be difficult for hobbits, which are short creatures, to determine the makeup of the garrison in such a city.

A possible solution would be to coerce woodland animals to do the scouting for them, but as my faction does not yet have the Possession spell, there is little that a hobbit company can offer to persuade cooperation from the local fauna.

Lo Pan opens with Counter Magic. His garrison comprises an elven longbow company, two elven halberdiers, a hero, four gargoyles, and an efreet. The efreet casts a fireball, and the longbows let fly a volley of arrows, but they do negligible damage to my slingers. I try to push Black Prayer through the Counter Magic, but fail to do so. Odorf has more luck, and Lo Pan's forces now suffer combat penalties. My slingers trudge closer to the city to cut the long range penalty. Mr Pan calls down another fireball, slaying one group of hobbits. My forces advance again; since Odorf will be able to engage next turn, I decide the halflings will break out their weapons next turn too. A fireball and sharp arrowheads bring another slinger unit to 1/8 figures, and then my halflings show no mercy. Odorf swings his sword, cleaving Lo Pan's hero in twain. The slingers kill the longbows and start on the other units. Lo Pan, out of mana, is banished forthwith. He begins casting the Spell of Return. I will attempt to defeat him permanently by conquering his cities in the next few turns -- while he is unable to fan flames to singe my precioussssss slingers.

From the rubble of Lo Pan's fortress, Odorf dutifully retrieves Awareness and Disjunction scrolls for my study. I immediately begin casting Awareness.

June 1420. Odorf has been promoted from the experience he's gained. He now has +2 leadership, meaning he adds two to the attack strengths of all units stacked with him.

August 1420. Lo Pan has lots of units, so there is a danger his troops could try to retake his recently-fallen city. Odorf sallies forth anyway; I hope my spellcasting, along with a few defenders, will be able to repel any attempts at liberation. Meanwhile, Jafar keeps up the war of attrition: of my nine original mithril slingers, I am down to five from fighting off fireballs, Invisiblity [sic], and Psionic Blast spell combinations.

October 1420. My Awareness incantation is done. The cities of Arcanus and Myrror are revealed to me. In the maps below, I control the green cities, Lo Pan has two red cities, Jafar owns the blue ones, and neutral settlements are brown.

Jafar casts Stasis on Odorf's army, in Lo Pan's territory.

November 1420. Sages of the halfling empire have learned the secrets of Black Channels. They bend their minds towards Cursed Lands. Odorf and four slingers have broken free of the stasis field; one slinger is lost in the taking of one of Lo Pan's two remaining towns.

December 1420. I start casting Lycanthropy on spear-hobbits after Jafar finishes the last of the slingers on his island. Hopefully, the werewolves' regeneration ability will serve them well against Jafar.

Mathematical Digression

Spear-hobbits have eight figures per unit.

Werewolves have six figures per unit.

Therefore, six whole halflings will go one each into a single werewolf figure, and according to conservation of matter, the remaining two halflings must be chopped into three equal parts each, with one piece each going into a werewolf.

Homework Problem:

Divide a halfling spear-hobbit into three equal parts by mass.

I've ferried my engineers over to east island, since DeathForge and Cirith-Ugly have been connected to the east coast of the continent.

February 1421. Argh: Lo Pan has returned. Odorf and company are lurching towards his last city, but it's not connected to a road network and hobbits walk as quickly as turtles.

April 1421. Wall of Darkness serves me well against Lo Pan, twice preventing my newly-acquired cities from being proselytised away from the death religion. Odorf and his slingers charge into the last bastion of Lo Panness. Two slingers die, but with Lo Pan starved for mana, the garrison is easy pickings for the death-worshipping Odorf. My forces pluck Disenchant Area and Summon Champion spells from Lo Pan's stronghold.

8. And Then There Were Two

December 1421. I land a mixed group of werewolves and slingers on Jafar's island. Perhaps they'll have more luck than a pure sling force.

January 1422. Jafar attacks my landing party with a large mage contingent, escorted by a single paladin group. I cast Mana Leak to drain the mages' ranged attacks and Jafar's mana. Black Prayer will follow next turn. My three slingers, unable to pierce the magicians' missile immunity, knock the paladins out. Jafar counters with Holy Word, banishing a large chunk of my werewolves. As the death units draw close, Jafar throws a Disenchant True spell, annulling Mana Leak and Black Prayer. Using Darkness and micro, I manage to salvage five of my six original werewolf units -- one was killed entirely with Holy Word, and is lost to me forever.

At this point, it's obvious that I need alternate units. The death summons are vulnerable to Great Unsummoning and Holy Word. Slingers are barbeque meat for Jafar's attack spells. The obvious answer would be paladins, but Cirith-Ugly, my human mithril city, is still missing a large portion of the necessary technology tree. Paladins require about four tech tree branches before they can be trained efficiently: cathedrals (the pinnacle of religious structures) and armouries (troop-enablers) are de rigeuer, and to get more bang for my buck, I'd prefer to also have all the top-tier factory-type buildings and training facilities, which in turn have the learning institutions as prerequisites.

Scouting also reveals that Jafar's capital is guarded by no fewer than three sky drakes, so experienced ranged attackers will be needed to support the paladins. The fortress also has a Death Ward on it.

February 1422. Cursed Lands has just been penned into my spellbook. I turn my attention towards wraith-summoning.

April 1422. A wandering hero offers his services. He has pretty useless stats, but I hire him for the bit of casting skill he has.

May 1422. Jafar casts Great Unsummoning. All my werewolves die. So much for being better than pure slingers.

August 1422. Odorf has returned from Lo Pan's stomping grounds. He attacks one of the towers of wizardry on my home continent. The treasure includes a Dispel Magic scroll, and... a ring... which he generously lends to one of the other heroes. Wrong ring, I guess.

September 1422. I've got nothing on which to spend my mana. Attacking Jafar is not cost-effective at this point, and summoning death creatures is sure to be a waste. Pouring mana into summoning heroes seems to be the best bet. A rogue of little import answers the call, and having no one better (such a familiar refrain), I hire him for his legendary status.

November 1422. I now have the ability to summon wraiths, and switch research to Warp Node. Another unremarkable hero answers my summons; he's hired for a bit more casting help. I splurge mana on calling a champion; perhaps this time someone useful will come along.

February 1423. Odorf and his followers, and a separate band of mithril slingers, are busy conquering the neutral cities on Myrror. Scouting the other plane, I've found a couple of adamantium deposits -- promising spots for high human and halfling colonies.

May 1423. A true hero has arrived! Arghorn, though lacking casting ability, has the armsmaster skill. He gets the sixth and final hero slot; I give one of my nameless heroes the pink slip to make room for a more powerful protégé.

September 1423. My scribes have scratched Warp Node into my spellbooks, so I shift focus to Famine. On Myrror, mithril slingers duke it out with demon lords in an abandoned keep. Two dead slingers buys me a Create Artefact spell and two pieces of armour, which are doled out to heroes back on Arcanus. There's also a rescued hero, but he's not so impressive, so I don't, uh, press him into service in return for busting him out of jail.

Nov 1423. Airhead, a champion, answers my summons. She has ten casting points, slated to increase next turn thanks to my warlord status, so she's hired. I dismiss another one of my nameless, faceless heroes to make space for the next summon. Airhead's significant ranged attack, in conjunction with her lucky, charmed, and other abilities, would have made her a valuable asset had we crossed paths earlier, or were I not a death mage.

April 1424. Vader, the Black Knight, answers my call. He's got a nice set of melee-centric stats. Again, with abilities like that, it's too bad he's only just now made himself available.

May 1424. Tired of interviewing potential new employees, I start warping Jafar's magical nodes. It probably won't make all that much of a difference, since he's cheating like a character out of a soap opera.

August 1424. I start creating a staff of wizardry for a mage hero's use. I now have three towns (one high human: Lessdor, one halfling: Burrow-Downs, one draconian: DracoLaLa) on Myrror with adamantium in their production radii. Using my substantial gold stores, I will purchase buildings to make adamantium paladins and slingers available sooner.

September 1424. Cirith-Ugly is finally in a position to train mithril paladins: one every four turns. They will sail for Jafar's fiefdom once I get sufficient numbers. Research into Famine is completed. Evil Presence will be next.

December 1424. Adventuring slingers attack a keep on Myrror. They find instructions for summoning night stalkers, and two magical items.

January 1425. Arghorn gains a level, increasing his armsmaster skill. It'll come in handy with the mithril pallies riding out of Cirith-Ugly.

March 1425. On Myrror, Odorf cracks open a chaos node, finding a retort of charismatic. Imbibing the liquid makes me a more likeable wizard: mercenaries, heroes, and items can be purchased for less, and diplomacy with opponent wizards is made twice as easy. It's not the best skill to gain, given my current healthy cash flow, not to mention the uselessness of diplomacy in general, and on "impossible" level in particular.

April 1425. I gain the ability to cast Evil Presence. Eternal Night will be doodled into my books next.

July 1425. "You're fired!" I tell another of my lacklustre heros. With the staff enchantment complete, I channel my mana into searching for a particular hero: the wind mage. The wind mage gives all units stacked with him the ability to fly; this will enable my paladins to invade hostile territory more quickly.

April 1426. Jafar casts Suppress Magic. I lose a Myrran city to neutral raiders; the walking rate of my halfling troops made it difficult for them to cover. Thus far, the only cities I've lost have been to neutral forces, not enemy wizards.

September 1426. Eight hardy slingers follow Odorf in an assault against earth elementals guarding an abandoned keep. Though the elementals are very strong melee attackers, their leisurely walking speed enables the projectile-chucking hobbits to pick them off one by one. Odorf loots Eternal Night from the rubble; I modify research to Word of Death. The other slinger group wins a nature node, finding a Skeletons spell.

March 1427. Despite numerous fizzled attempts because of Jafar's magic suppression, and unwanted heroes vying for the last internship in my army, I have managed to find the wind mage. I plan to bequeath him with speed-enhancing items so he can pilot troops to Jafar's island.

Word of Death is now available for casting. Next, I look into the ceremonies necessary for summoning demon lords. Odorf assails a sorcery node, and extracts a Demon Lord spell. I change research to Death Spell; my apprentices grumble at my capricious ways.

September 1427. Lessdor's finally got infrastructure ready: I can train one adamantium paladin every six turns. The timing will improve as the population grows. Should the mithril expeditionary force fail, the adamantium pallies will surely overthrow Jafar.

As you can see by the map, the main Arcanian continent's almost completely colonised by death-friendly forces. My prize cities, producing mithril paladins and slingers, have been circled. Four of my galleys are slicing their way through the waters between Jafar's island and my territory. Two galleys, heading east, carry a group of mithril paladins and slingers. The pair heading west has a pure mithril slinger force in their cabins. Jafar's capital has been boxed; depending on what's defending his cities, I will decide where to strike first.

November 1427. I've finished two amulets for Windbreaker; he's now got eight movement points. He begins flying to the Myrran city of Lessdor to wait for adamantium paladins. Professor Arghorn likewise makes his way to Lessdor to begin his new tenure.

December 1427. Mithril slingers continue clearing the lairs on Myrror. An abandoned keep coughs up one more death spellbook, and also a potion of chaos mastery -- not very useful given that I have no chaos spellbooks.

9. There Can Be Only One

January 1428. Ultra elite mithril paladins and slingers have landed on Jafar's island. Ah, high humans and halflings, of which we have such fond memories. On his turn, Jafar attacks: eight paladins and a catapult against my five paladins and four slingers. I drench the field in black prayers, and the catapult crumbles as the hobbits sling for their supper. Paladins on both sides race their horses closer to enemy lines. Jafar cloaks one of his units in a spell of Invisiblity [sic]. Though Jafar's holy knights make a valiant show of it, my own paladins, supported by archers, cut down the opposition at the cost of a single friendly unit. The campaign is off to a good start.

On the opposite coastline, two galleys unload nine more mithril slingers to help clear a path to Jafar's fortress.

February 1428. The nine mithril slings attack two Jafarian priests and two catapults. As usual, a fireball is the cause of a single death.

March 1428. Jafar's tower is guarded by four sky drakes, three paladins, and one unit each of elven lords and pegasai. Clearly, the sky drakes are the major threat, so I command the eight-slinger force to engage first. If they can take out the dragons, the mixed paladin/slinger group will have no problems cleaning up.

To my great surprise, Jafar doesn't cast any spells on the first turn. This bodes well for the slingers, a number of whom would have died to fireballs. Instead of slinging, I decide to advance under the cover of Black Prayer -- the drakes are heavily armoured, behind a wall, and far away; I  don't want to waste any ammunition.

With the slingers in position, I scream the Word of Death at the drakes. The resistance-cutting nature of the spell itself, joined with the Black Prayer handicap, gives the spell a chance of success. Though I cast it three times over the course of the siege, no attempts succeed. The slingers carry the day: first mowing down the frightful dragons in a veritable hailstorm of stones, then systematically slaying the rest of Jafar's defenders. Not a single unit is lost: the pegasai only manage to pick off four figures in one of the hobbit units. The city is mine, as are 3000 of its gold pieces. Jafar is banished.

My other strike group examines the defenses in one of Jafar's nearby settlements. It's guarded by four sky drakes and two efreet. I doubt I have enough ammo to take on the dragons, so I egg my army on to a different city. Jafar loses another town and another 3000 gold. He's got four cities left.

May 1428. Arghorn gains yet another level, increasing his armsmaster ability. On Jafar's island, I've used up a bit of my money by purchasing the equipment for paladin guards in my two new acquisitions. This frees up my two armies to rampage in the countryside.

The eight-slinger force finds that Jafar's drakes have mysteriously disappeared; the city falls without any slingers lost. The paladin/slinger group chases down some units loitering outside of their occupied zone. Jafar is three towns away from annihilation.

June 1428. Death Spell as been added to my magical arsenal. Wrack will be next. Jafar's road system works against him: I position my two armies for attacks next month.

July 1428. The battles go off without a hitch. Jafar has been reduced to one colony.

September 1428. Wrack is done. Death Wish is next. I notice a new Jafarian outpost in Myrror, and send a draconian company out to raze it.

October 1428. Six slingers, battered from fighting their way to Jafar's last real stronghold, attack in the name of glory. Eight paladins lurk behind the city walls, so I move the hobbits closer. I chant black prayers to make the paladins lose heart, and I also infuse the slingers with a berserking rage, in case the horse units decide to gallop out and engage. But the mana is wasted: the paladins stand meekly in place, allowing the slingers to pelt them to death.

December 1428. A draco spear company waltzes into Jafar's outpost. I am your MoM! Victory!

10. Closing Thoughts

Once Sharee and Sss'ra were defeated, it was all a foregone conclusion. I really lucked out with the starting configuration, with Sharee stuck in a corner I could more or less block, and the other two Arcanian competitors stuck on fairly small islands. Playing Jafar's dispelling capabilities against Sss'ra's appetite for mass destruction made conquering the Myrran plane much easier. Jafar's AI, while it cheated, was too stupid to ship units over to my continent. Had he started with a race or magic realm having flying creatures, I would have had a tough time of it, being at war with literally everyone while Armageddon was ripping my cities apart. The AI usually uses the big guns, like storm drakes, as defensive units, otherwise Jafar could have finished me off with his dragon minions. His refusal to cast Guardian Wind also allowed my slingers to remain effective throughout the game.

I hope you enjoyed reading the report, and got a couple of chuckles out of it. I do realise that it was quite pedantic at quite a few points, but that is a result of not knowing how much my audience knows about MoM. Unless reponse is overwhelmingly one way or the other, this will be one of two MoM reports by my hand. Translation: let me know if you hated it.

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