Gem's Campaign This guide is for the first Shadow of Death campaign. I will assume you are familiar with the general gameplay, strategies and units of Heroes of Might and Magic 3, and I will not tell you to do basic things like flag mines, etc, and I also won't tell you what units you need to deal with the wandering monsters on the map. If you don't have this comfort level playing Heroes 3, you should not be playing Shadow of Death campaigns because they are very challenging. Instead you should start with the Restoration of Erathia campaigns to familiarize yourself with the gameplay. Throughout this campaign you will have two heroes, Gem and Clancy, which carry their experience and skills to the next level. How you select their skills can be crucial to success. Gem will even carry her skills to the next campaign with her in it. There are a few strategies that you will want to employ throughout the campaign. * I *highly* recommend that at least one of Gem or Clancy have advanced wisdom and advanced earth magic. Chances are this will be Gem. She starts with basic wisdom, so prioritize getting earth magic over all other choices, so that you can exploit town portal later on. * Logistics is an excellent skill and it will help you to get the drop on the computer. Get it for Gem if you can. * Keep your eye out for Solmyr in the taverns. His specialty is chain lightning, so he starts with it and you will not be able to get it through mage guilds until the third scenario. If you do recruit Solmyr, train a hero (not Gem or Clancy) in scholar up to expert level. Then this hero can learn chain lightning from Solmyr and teach it to Gem and Clancy. Chain Lightning will be a very useful spell at the beginning of each scenario blasting wandering monsters when your armies aren't built up, giving you early access to mines and artifacts. * The amount of movement your hero has on the map is determined by the slowest units in your army. So after the first few weeks, leave the dwarves and dendroids at home. * Save often, at least once a week, and keep separate save files in case you need to go back a couple of weeks. I recommend keeping at least five different save files. * The computer AI will sometimes behave very differently if you reload a save file and do things a little differently, like move a hero in a different direction. So if you're pressed up against a wall, reload an older save and recruit an extra hero, flag some different mines, or something. * The computer AI will sometimes behave stupidly when you have access to a cover of darkness. They will forget where the castles are, unless they have none left, and you can distract them with "throw-away" heroes. * Creature dwellings on the map can give you a lot of extra creatures and will help you build up a large army. Be sure to have an "errand" hero to run around and collect creatures at the beginning of each week. This is especially useful for building up elves, but also centaurs and in the later scenarios, green/gold dragons. * Treasuries can help offset the disadvantage in income that you will have against the computer players in several scenarios. * Pay attention to what artifacts are equipped on your main hero. Artifacts which provide resources every turn can be transfered to non-essential heroes. Also be sure an unequip any artifact which neutralizes morale bonuses, like the spirit of oppression. Since you will be largely fighting against undead creatures, morale bonuses are an advantage that that computer can't utilize. * Build up your mage guilds before completing the scenario. ****************** First Scenario ****************** I did not find this first scenario to be particularly challenging. You and the computer each start with two towns with another one nearby. If you follow the path east from where Gem starts, you will come to a neutral Rampart castle. I recommend building some creature dwellings (like an upgraded homestead) in your main castle for the first week so that you can take nearby castle ASAP. A hut of the magi near your western castle will also show you where two undeveloped neutral towns are. Underground near these two undeveloped towns is a portal to an area with a colliseum, dragon utopia, griffon conservatory and a tree of the ages. If you can get there before the computer player (especially the dragon utopia) this will help immensely. Also underground in the same area is a unicorn glade, flagging this will increase the production of unicorns in your towns and help you to outnumber the computer's armies. Once you can take over the nearby Rampart castle, you should have the troops to get to the undeveloped towns. If you can manage to hold both of these for a while you will develop a significant resource advantage over the computer player. The difficulty in doing so will be that the computer has two easy paths down to these towns, and you do not have a fast way to move troops from one town to the other, so you will have to divide your resources to defend both. Near your town are green border guards blocking some two-way monoliths. These monoliths transport you to right near the CPU's main castles, however on the other end are red border guards which the CPU has to open for you to access. I suggest just leaving these alone so that you don't have to worry about the computer player sending armies to take over your main castles. ****************** Second Scenario ****************** In this scenario, the computer starts with a significant advantage. You have only one town, and they have two with another nearby they can take without a fight. Also, there are lots of peasants around on the map just waiting to be turned into skeletons. You don't have to take out the computer player to win this one, but you will likely need to in order to get to the amulet of the undertaker and take out its guardians. The first thing you will need to do as usual will be to grab the nearby resources. South of you, underground is a homestead dwelling you can flag to get more elves each week. Also there is the red keymaster's tent you will eventually need to visit before you can complete the scenario. If you follow the path from your castle west and up north, you will find a neutral Rampart town. You will want to take this ASAP to help your disadvantage in resources. Once you have the two Ramparts, it will be time to turn your attention to the three Castle towns in the center of the map. If you've been quick so far, you might be able to take the southern Castle before the computer gets to it. Send your army east from your main town, through the vampires and follow the path to the Castle. From here, you may have to build up your armies some to take the next castle (to the north of the castle you just took) if the computer player is active around there. You want to take it quickly though, because it is a crucial defense point; all paths into your territory will go by that castle. Once you have two of the Castles, you and the CPU will be about even on resource production, but they will probably have a significant advantage in troops already produced. So you will want to play defensively. You will also need to go through some fairly heavily guarded garrisons with anti-magic properties in order to proceed any further. So build up your armies so that you can take out the garrisons. North of your castle is another Castle town, you may want to annoy the computer and pick up some extra resources by sending your army up to take it over and then back down to defend your main territory. It is likely that the computer has built covers of darkness in its Necropolis towns to the east, so it will be difficult to see any enemy heroes coming through the garrisons. Nearby the middle castle, there is a passage underground which branches east to a gold mine, and west towards your goal, guarded by red dragons. If you've spent some time building up your two (or three) castles, you will notice that in the southern and northern castles you can build portals of glory to recruit angels. It's disabled for some reason in the middle castle. Putting together an army of unicorns, champions, green/gold dragons and angels will make it much easier to defeat the computer player. When I played this scenario, after defending the top two castles for a while, I noticed the computer started to lighten up on its attacks, which was a sign I had weakened its armies enough to take the two Necropolis towns to the east. One peculiarity about this map is the computer has a castle in the northwest corner of the map, with a one-way monolith portal to its castles on the eastern edge of the map. So if you take the Necropolises in the east first, you will have to leave a garrison there to deal with stray heroes coming out of the monolith exit. Once you have enough of an army to defeat the red dragons underground while leaving enough troops behind to defend your castles against the computer, the rest should be straightforward. If you leave a hero near the red dragons and rest, you can beat the dragons, come up above ground right near the computer's northwest castle, and you may be able to take it without a fight. Then you can just sit in the castle and defend if you like, although it is likely that the computer does not have much of an army there because it has a tendency to send heroes through the one-way monolith. When you have comfortable control over that area, you can head north to the border guard and over to the amulet of the undertaker. Be sure to have Gem and Clancy both visit the school of war up there. Almost immediately below the school of war there will be an ambush with a bunch of ghost and bone dragons (sixty total). And beyond that is a group of seventy-six ghost dragons. So be prepared for a fight. Once you grab the amulet you are done. ****************** Third Scenario ****************** North and west of your starting town are two neutral Rampart towns, a randomly named town to the north and Leafhall to the west. Your objective is to obtain the Vampire's Cowl from an underground prison and transport it to Leafhall. There are two main tricks you need to exploit here to succeed: 1. The computer becomes really stupid when you control a cover of darkness. More on this strategy later. 2. There is a scroll of town portal in the northwest. With advanced earth magic, Gem can cast it and choose which town to teleport to. More on these strategies later. You'll want to acquire these towns as soon as possible. The computer starts with a significant advantage, and it will have four Necropolis towns compared to your three Rampart towns, so you will be at a significant disadvantage through the scenario. It will be some time before the computer encroaches on your territory, so you can leave your main town undefended for a while. Slightly northwest and northeast from your starting town, are centaur and wood elf dwellings. Flag these and recruit creatures. You should build an upgraded homestead in your main town as early as possible so that you have Grand Elves. This will make taking over the other two Ramparts easier. If you have chain lightning as well that will help. I recommend sending Clancy through the path to the northeast and travel around the mountains until you reach the northern town, because you will be using Gem later on to deal with the Necromancers. Once you've taken the north Rampart, head west from there underground and you will find several artifacts guarded by weak creatures. You may find some useful things there; get these ASAP and continue west back above ground to take Leafhall. Once you have Leafhall, the next two things to get are the nearby scroll of town portal, and through the two-way monolith there is a dragon cliffs dwelling. Getting an extra dragon in each town every week will help immensely. By the time you have gotten a few dragons, the computer player has likely gotten strong enough to eliminate the gang on titans near your main town. At this point your strategy needs to change if you want to stay alive. The computer AI has an edict to explore areas it can't see so you need to use the nearby cover of darkness to remove parts of the map from its vision. I recommend keeping a spare hero near enough to the cover of darkness at all times so that he can reach it in one turn. South-east and South-west of your main town are two valleys which have one-way monolith exits from the computer's main towns. So you will often see very powerful necromancer armies showing up in these areas. Anytime that happens, have your hero use the cover of darkness to confuse the computer player. You will also want to send some expendable heroes (not Clancy or Gem) down into these valleys to flag the mines. If the mines stay controlled by the computer the cover of darkness won't be as effective. I think the AI prioritizes connecting explored areas of the map, so if you have all those mines flagged the computer will walk back home after going through the monolith. You can have your expendable heroes rest at sanctuaries in each valley, and as soon as the Necromancers wander off you can run around and flag the mines again, while your hero near your main town activates the cover of darkness again. In the meantime you can have Gem teleport around to your towns with town portal and build up her army. Once you're comfortable with managing the AI in the valleys and you have a few dragons it's time to move in. You're going to send Gem through the southwest valley to the garrison at the other end. The garrisons at the end of the valleys aren't heavily guarded so you can easily take them out. Remember that Gem must have some movement points left to cast town portal! Run through as far as you can and then town portal back home. YOu want to be able to get the Necropolis Ghostwind on your map so you can monitor its defenses. If you need to take two turns to get there, have Gem rest at the sanctuary to be safe. If you keep your eye on the Necropolis defenses you can send Gem in to take it over when it's undefended, and then town portal her back to the safety of your ramparts. If you manage to take a Necropolis, unless there are enemy heroes in the immediate vicinity, build a cover of darkness and recruit a hero or two and send them in different directions to draw enemy heroes away from it. Once the cover of darkness is active, the computer won't remember where its castle was, unless it has a hero close enough that it will see it. You can use this strategy to take over the rest of the computer's towns and eliminate him if you like. Once you have more towns than he does it only takes a month or so before your armies outnumber his. This scenario is your first chance to build level 5 mage guilds. Spells like Summon Earth Elemental and Implosion will be very helpful at the beginning of the next scenario, so I recommend building up your mage guilds once you have enough resources. You can teleport Gem around the map to pick up the spells when you find something useful. Your goal is underground east of Ghostwind. Make sure you have 40000 gold before you go, because that is the ransom you must pay. Once you have Ghostwind, you can teleport Gem there, head east to the underground and then north to the prison. Take the Vampire's Cowl from the hero that you free there and teleport to Leafhall to complete the scenario. ****************** Fourth scenario ****************** Your goal in this scenario is similar to the last one; find the dead man's boots and transport them back to the town you started in. I found this scenario considerably easier than the last one, although it's getting harder to level your heroes up to the limit each time. You and each CPU player start with one castle each, except for red who starts with two. East of your main encampment past the garrison and to the north is a Dragon Cliffs dwelling, guarded by some ghost dragons. You should be able to beat them by the end of the first month. You'll want to flag this dwelling early and start recruiting dragons. Near there is also a Seer who wants 25 ghost dragons. You will need to pay him in order to get the dead man's boots. The pink player is just beyond the garrison southwest of your starting town. He should be relatively easy to dispatch near the beginning of the second month if you've been diligent about recruiting elves and centaurs, and you have chain lightning or summon earth elemental. Pink is also the only real threat you will face initially, since the only ways out of his area are into your area or through a green and blue border guards, and the blueKeymaster's tent is in your territory. Once you've defeated pink, you have easy access to two neutral Rampart towns to the west, which will eventually lead you to the green Keymaster's tent. In this same area you will find a scroll of town portal. It will take some time to build up your new towns. Be sure to flag the unicorn dwelling and start recruiting unicorns from it. At this point you will have four castles compared to the three castles owned by the two computer players. So you could just sit pretty and build up a huge army of gold dragons, war unicorns, elves and dread knights before steamrolling over the two remaining computer players. But I will assume you want to have some challenge remaining so we'll head into the southern territories. Around month 3 you want to start thinking about heading into the territory south from your Necropolis. Once your two Rampart towns are built up you will have more income and creature growth than either of the two individual remaining computer opponents, but since they are allied with each other they will have very strong armies that you may not be able to beat. But you should have an army strong enough to intimidate them into not attacking you outright. Once you head south from your Necropolis there is a choice of traveling west, east or south. Any of these directions leads to another Necropolis town, west and east are owned by the red player and south is owned by the orange player. The area with the dead man's boots is accessible via a two-way monolith from each of these areas. To get there, you have to have visited three keymaster's tents: light blue (in your starting area), red (near the western Necropolis) and dark blue (near the eastern Necropolis). At this point you have two options. You can take a good sized army with Gem and run around to the keymaster's tents and try to get the dead man's boots without taking out your enemies, or you can take the slower approach of annoying them while building up an army large enough to beat them without being decimated. At this point you have more income than either of your enemies, and you should be able to build up a good group of gold dragons and war unicorns. I was able to eliminate the red CPU player by taking one of his castles and then giving it up to the orange player, and then taking the other one and holding it for a week. By that time I had built up a powerful enough army that orange was no match for me. When you go to get the dead man's boots there will be a final battle with about 60 dread knights, 60 vampires, 70 power liches and 25 ghost dragons. It shouldn't be too tough if you take your main hero though because of her attack and defense. Be sure to develop your mage guilds before completing the scenario, since you might find town portal in one of them.