---------------------------------------------- Age of Wonders II: Shadow Magic Campaign Guide ---------------------------------------------- Ver. 1.1 Age of Wonders II is copyright 2003 Triumph Studios and their affiliates. This guide is copyright 2003 Guiler (email@example.com) This guide is for personal use only and may not be sold, bartered, or used for any purpose that involves profit, including but not limited to, money, favors, slaves, and/or human babies. Unauthorized copying of this Guide will result in your horrible, agonizing destruction. I have beaten the game. If you want/need info on scenarios I haven't covered yet, go ahead and email me and I'll see what I can remember. I am in the process of replaying the campaigns now. If you have further and/or better tips on how to beat the campaign, mail me at <firstname.lastname@example.org>. I. BASIC STRATEGY II. TIPS AND TRICKS III. CAMPAIGNS JULIA 1: NORWOOD JULIA 2: MOUNT ABYDOR JULIA 3: SANCTUARY WOODS KE-NAN 1: THE HORN OF KESH KE-NAN 1: DRAKAR OASIS KE-NAN 3: MOUTH OF AMTAR MEANDOR 1: JUNGLE OF UMBURA MEANDOR 2: URLAND FIELDS MEANDOR 3: PHOBIAN EMPIRE O'NERON 1: EASTERN PASS O'NERON 2: LAND OF SHADOWS O'NERON 3: SUNBIRTH MOUNTAINS MERLIN 1: THE HIVE VERSION HISTORY: 1.0 initial release. Through Meandor 2. 1.1 through end ------------------- I. BASIC STRATEGY ------------------- My strategy is not necessarily the only or even the best one, but I've beaten the game, so I have to presume that it's a playable one, and since you're probably reading this to find help on how to beat the game, I have to presume that it could be at least a little helpful. My strategy takes advantage of the new features of Shadow Magic, so this might not work so well for the original (sorry). In particular, I take advantage of the new Item Forge (which all races have access to, so it's not a race-specific ploy). The heart of the strategy is this: STEP 1: GET A HERO Since you get a hero in nearly all of the scenarios, and right near the beginning, at that, this should not be a problem. And since they're cheap, nay free, to upkeep, paying a heroes salary is not an issue--just make sure their morale doesn't crash too low. STEP 2: LEVEL UP THAT HERO Since heroes are only slightly more sturdy than wet noodles at level 1, you don't want to send your hero out alone. Get a bunch of infantry (cavalry is better) and archers and strike out in search of adventure--adventure being a couple of weak, easily killable units. Hit the enemy units with arrows, block their attackers with your infantry/ cavalry, and hit them with spells--whatever you've got...but don't kill them. Instead, have your hero deliver the finishing blow. A unit only gets XP for the units that they finish off. Thusly, if a dragon inflicts 18 points of damage, and then your hero delivers 3 more damage and the target dies, the hero gets all the XP. Sooner or later, that hero is going to gain a level, and get a choice of 3 skills to gain or improve in. What you choose is very important, but the choices you are given are random (within a certain pool of choices for that race and class) so if you get some choices you don't like, just reload the game. Your hero does not gain anything other than what you select for him/her. You get no free hp, attack, defense, resistance, anything, other than what you assign to him/her. With this in mind, this is my order of preference for abilities that you get for your hero: LIFE STEALING: This ability is awesome (assuming your hero can hit the enemy). Every time you hit in combat (unless the target is a machine), you get 2 hp back. While it might not seem like much, when combined with PHYSICAL PROTECTION and DOUBLE STRIKE, you're taking a lot less damage and regenerating up to 12 hp a round. At that rate, you're pratically invincible. REGENERATION: get back all your hp at the beginning of any game turn. This saves a lot of time (running back to town, or just resting in place) and/or mana (casting healing spells over and over). DOUBLE STRIKE: Rare as a level ability, but easy to craft onto a weapon, this ability is truly awesome. For each 1 attack your enemy gets, you get 2. That's twice the potential damage output. In my opinion, it's really overpowered if abused (and I abuse it). HEALTH: Only take this to 3 or 4...no more than 5. The most +move you can get is +10 (total move 50) at rank 3, and getting many more hp than 30 doesn't really help that much. It's better spent on defense or special abilities at that point. If you really need that much health, you're doing something wrong. Actually, if you get Explorer (+20% move on all units) and 1 level of health, you will reach max speed. Still, you're going to need a little bit of a health buffer. HEALING: Especially if your wizard does not have access to the spell, you need this ability if you're in a tight spot to keep your heroes alive. DOMINATE: If you can get it, get it. You not only remove an enemy, but you make an ally at the same time--a disposable ally, that the enemy will suddenly concentrate on destroying. In doing so, they ignore your heroes, which can then give the enemy a pounding. DEFENSE: Keep the hero alive, no matter what. If s/he dies, you're screwed unless you've got Resurrect Hero, which you don't get in many scenarios. Often, it has to be earned through quests. ATTACK: Sometimes the best defense is a good offense, especially if you have LIFE STEALING. <damage type> STRIKE: DEATH STRIKE, HOLY STRIKE, and the like aren't bad, but MAGIC STRIKE can be gotten with the unit spell ENCHANT WEAPON. Don't waste a Level on it. Likewise, DARK GIFT gives you DEATH STRIKE, so if you have DARK GIFT, skip DEATH STRIKE. BARD SKILLS: Very useful for keeping up morale, especially if you have party members of differing alignments. Remember that if you lose some battles elsewhere, it can negatively impact the morale of your whole empire, including your heroes, who you -don't- want to lose. Bard skills also help keep Dominated units in line. STEP 3: WHILE LEVELING THAT HERO, BUILD UP A TOWN Ideally, you want this town to have everything, but the absolute minimum you want it to have is a teleport portal, item forge, and force field, as well as any and all production facilities you can muster. Now you can start crafting items for your heroes. While many of the items in the game are great, particularly the armors and shields, most of them just don't give you what you need to crush the opposition beneath your heel. STEP 4: CRANK OUT THE ITEMS These things are expensive--I hope you have some cash laying around. Build the items in this order, if you can. If a hero already has the ability listed, or you don't have access to that ability, skip it and put on the one next in line. RING (~1200g) PHYSICAL PROTECTION (Can be provided by enchantment 'liquid form', but it's expensive and dispellable, whereas a ring is not) REGENERATION (Rarely a hero ability) STATIC SHIELD (A spell with expensive upkeep, dispellable, but easily the best all-round unit enchantment you can get) HASTE (Can be provided by an enchantment) WILLPOWER (provided by many spells and/or unit abilities) If you still need something to put on there, put on PASS WALL or some kind of PROTECTION that your unit is not yet protected against yet. ATTACK (~850g) LIFE STEALING (mentioned above under hero abilties) DOUBLE STRIKE (mentioned above etc) FIRST STRIKE (this is really a personal choice; with first strike and static shield/lightning damage, you will often prevent an attacker from doing any damage to you at all because you'll stun him before he can hit you) LIGHTNING STRIKE (only if you don't have access to static shield) COLD STRIKE (adds another 'stun' ability and can dovetail with lightning attacks) USE (~1200g) DOMINATE (take control of the enemy--a fabulous ability) DRAIN WILL (remove the WILLPOWER from an enemy so you can DOMINATE him-- works great on enemy heroes!) FIRE CANNON (takes down walls and fliers like nothing else) HURL LIGHTNING (an area affect ranged attack that stuns? Are we in Midgard? <DAOC joke> The only reason I take CANNON above it is that a mis-timed throw with HURL LIGHTNING can stun half your army and screw you up pretty bad. Use with caution, and lower your risk with the 'seeker' spell.) PHASE (gets you anywhere on the board in an instant, and 1 attack when you get there. Precious, precious phase...) Feel free to make more USE items with WEB, TUNNELLING, and anything else you might need--MARKSMANSHIP is a great addition and can be added on a USE item to give any missile attack +3/+3 (at level 3)--missile attacks like FIRE CANNON, which already has a heinous attack and damage. With this standard arsenal, any hero can: get back hp in battle (life stealing) stop the enemy from hurting him (physical protect, first strike, static shield) do a ton of damage (double strike, static shield) take over the enemy (dominate, drain will) take down enemy fliers and walls (fire cannon) be ready to fight at the beginning of any given turn (regeneration) and also possibly move across the map really fast (haste) not be dominated (willpower) 5 CRUSH ALL OPPOSITION BENEATH YOUR HEEL Pour all the unit enchantments you've got on your tanked up heroes and go steamroll the enemy. You can actually have minimal defense at your towns if you have a really fast hero stack and teleport portals at all of the cities. In combat, you will often be outnumbered if you're going with the small fast parties, like I use. As a result, fight next to each other and put your back to a rock or a tree to prevent yourself from being completely surrounded. Make liberal use of spells like 'Holy Light' and 'Sacred Wrath' to weaken and demolish the opposition. There are 2 primary things to watch for; first, if you are in the enemy's domain, he might 'dispel' your heroes, which will weaken them; a good reason to rely more on items than enchantments. Second, your heroes can get surrounded easily. Put them next to each other and against obstacles to keep them from being whacked on by 6 enemies at once. -------------------- II. TIPS AND TRICKS -------------------- -Remember, if you run into enemy Hero units, try to Dominate them if you have the items. If they have Willpower, do a Drain Will on them first. -If you find yourself in a battle with a couple of stacks of enemy troops and you have a decent spellcaster on your side (30 mana), consider the following trick: if you have Sacred Wrath, cast it. Then, have the hero cast it. Just 2 castings should wipe out most or all of the regular infantry that the enemy has, and if the hero casts the second one, he'll get all the XP for all the kills. It's a great way to build up caster heroes, who otherwise might not be on the frontline because their abilities aren't as focused on melee. Even 2 castings of Chain Lightning (20 mana) can do some decent damage and knock out the weaker units. -Whenever possible, have at least 1 fairly sturdy flying unit defend a town. When combat starts, concentrate your fire on the missile attackers, casters, and fliers. If you manage to kill them all and your flying unit is still alive, you've won--the enemy can kill all your ground units, but if it can't touch your flying unit (and for heaven's sake, don't attack with your flying unit once the enemy fliers/archers are dead!), the fight will end in a stalemate at turn 25, and you will retain control of the town. The best flying defenders for this purpose are Dragons, Gold, Black, Red, or otherwise. -Standard defense: put one melee unit one step behind the gate and your archers on the walls. As they attack, shoot at targets that would be hard to melee, and when they break through, hold position. The enemy should only be able to come through one at a time per gate, while you can attack that one enemy with 2 of your own meleers and any archers nearby. Did you build a Temple Complex? Good; you'll see it on your combat map as a dome somewhere inside the town. Park your flying unit in the middle of it; missile units will be unable to target it and only flying units will be able to get at it. If they fail to kill your flying unit, combat ends in a stalemate and you keep the town! --interesting caveat; only seems to work with gold dragons. They target my bone dragons just fine. Maybe it's just spells and cannons that can target? -When using archers, don't aim for the enemy in the front; aim for the ones in the rear. That way, you have a good chance of hitting the ones in the front, and if you miss them, you still get a shot at the guy in back. Not only that, but if one of them dies, the rest of your shots are not wasted; they can possibly hit the other guy. -If you are attacking a city with more than three or more groups of enemies in it, don't attack the center group; attack one of the surrounding groups. Only groups adjacent to that group will be in combat. This can make sieges more manageable by not allowing the enemy to have all their good units in play at once. -Offhand, you wouldn't think that the Strangle ability is any good against flying units. However, it nearly always works to pull them out of the sky by stunning them. The rest of your forces can then beat the heck out of the defenseless now-non-flying target. If you don't have Strangle, craft a Use item with Doom gaze on it; that works well too. -Can't defend a city against the enemy's legions, but don't want to Raze it and anger the Spirit of Order? Take over the city and then set it to migrate, then remove all your troops. It will go Independent. Most of the time, the AI ignores independent cities, and will not take it over--but as a result, the AI will be down a city! -------------- III. CAMPAIGNS -------------- The tutorial scenarios are ridiculously easy. Unless I get a special request, I won't be going over them. Just follow the instructions and you'll be fine. JULIA 1: NORWOOD CALL HERO: no heroes available RESURRECT HERO: yes, if you research it Go up the road and grab Oakleaf. Then go to the camp and get the archer and the yeti. To the northeast, there are a couple windmills and some halflings. Get them all together and head west to assault the bridge. It shouldn't be too hard if you lead with the yeti--he has a good chance of freezing the enemy in place if he hits. Once you cross the bridge and head up the road, Oakroot will stop you and ask you to go south to his hometown (Oakbark). Since you need a town right now, do it. You'll get a fairy. Send it west to check out the watchtower. Once you get it, Vorsar will light the forest on fire. Note the magic vault. It's actually somewhat difficult to take not because of the monsters, but because of the spells that the 'vault' casts every round. The worst of these is the ice-storm type spell that can kill 2 or 3 infantry men per round and take off half of your hero's life. Start using your fairy to scout around and have an attack group consisting of your hero and some infantry (or even better, cavalry, the elven 'scout') go around hitting soft targets while you build up your city. One of them might be the crypt, north of the windmills. There is a good chance that raiders from the north will want to take and torch your windmills, so that's another good reason to head up there. Grab the mine and tower, too, which are to the north of the windmills.. North and a little west of the windmills is a bridge; northwest of that is a quest stone, just around the mountain. The quest is to capture a shadow demon town to the northwest (Ubuk), which is really simple--I did it with 3 units and no spells. From the ruined shadow demon city of Ubuk (it blows up when you capture it), head east to the water and then north, to find an elven city. You can pay off the guards for 400g, which hopefully should not be a problem. Don't forget to grab the life node directly to the right of the elven city (Andel Forest). There is also a watchtower as well as a water mill on the shore. Across the bay is a ship with a spider totem--get 'water walking' or 'liquid form' and cast it on a couple of units to go and get it. This useful item gives your hero the 'web' ability. South of the Demon city of Ubuk is a druid grove, and west of that druid grove is a cave. Directly between them is the hidden elven city of Torfindel (it's just south of the house of healing). The town joins you for free and makes a good staging point if you plan on going underground or attacking Vorsar's holdings in the northwest. North of Torfindel and the house of healing is another cave, and in front of it are some tree men that will join you for free. Your research should be humming along now. Get Static Shield as soon as you can. If it is not on your list, take the cheapest spell and keep doing so until Static Shield is an option. This spell, while expensive, really makes your units powerful--particularly your hero. Vorsar might get it in his head to attack you. The best and cheapest units you have for defending cities are your archers. Have a couple of swordsmen (glade runners are total junk--they only make good scouts) to defend the one or two doors he'll try to breach (wait for the breach and stand one space behind the door so the enemy must come through one at a time). Pick off the cavalry and crossbowmen with your archers. If your meleers all die, all is not lost. Retreat to the other side of the city and go out the door. He cannot go through the doors--only you can. As a result, he'll have to come all the way around with his troops to attack you. When they get close, go back into the city and pound them with arrows. Then they'll come back around to the breached doors, and you can repeat as necessary. If you have the spell 'Regenerate Walls', this is made even easier because the doors will repair and he'll have to knock them down again every time. If all else fails, put a fairy in the city and kill his crossbowmen. Since the fairy flies, nothing can attack it outside of missile units. If the fairy is the only one left, keep hitting 'end turn' until the battle ends in a stalemate, which is good for the defender; you keep the city. Underground, there are a couple of mines you can capture, as well as an unguarded item, right near one of the entrances--the one northwest of Oakbark (the starting town). There is also an earth node down there. If you craft a 'use' item with tunneling on it and give it to Oakleaf, he can dig through all the dirt down here and find a mine, some gold, and a resource pile (for building free structures at a nearby town). You can use the cave to access the northwest region of the map, which is all frozen. There's a Frostling city that you can take over or pay off (for 900g) as well as a mine. From the Frostling city (Mulholm), take the west cave through a short tunnel, and you'll find yourself at a town, one that Vorsar probably owns. A short distance away is a tunnel right up to his main city. It is very likely that Vorsar will be a challenge to a small group. Make sure Oakleaf is level 7 and has a bunch of magic items, preferably crafted like the ones I suggest in section II, and has at least Static Shield, Bless and Enchant Weapon on him. Alternately, bring a gigantic army of 3 or 4 stacks of 8 units. One thing to note--once you get the upper hand, take your time. Any spells and skills you research, any items you make, any levels your hero has all come with you to the next scenario. If you rush this one, you might find yourself outmatched in the second one. Explore, loot all the ruins and such, and max out your hero before you beat Vorsar. Also, do quests that the spirits give you, as you might end up with good armor (found armor is much better than crafted armor, same with shields and usually helms) or good spells, like Gold Dragon (if you do a quest for Order). In fact, if you're -really- milking it, you can create items for the hero you'll get in the next scenario, and put them on Julia or Oakroot to carry! JULIA 2: MOUNT ABYDOR CALL HERO: no heroes available RESURRECT HERO: yes, if you research it Hopefully, your hero is pretty powerful at the end of the last scenario because he carries over into this one. Starting with no money and no mana is harsh, but it's how it always goes. If you relied on enchantments last scenario, you're going to have to wait a little bit to start using them now. Grab the watchtower to the north with the druid and to the west with the iron maiden. Note that you're down some gold each turn. This should give you the hint to get that mine, and soon. Use Oakleaf to do that and get the catalyst with the iron maiden (the shiny sparky black ball right nearby the west watchtower). Then have Oakleaf go up between the mountains and the river to grab another mine and a resource pile. Send the druids north to get a Life node. To the south of the west watchtower is yet another mine. Take it with the Iron Maiden group, and you should be good to go for a bit. Your task in this scenario is to find the dwarf, Fangir, but it's not an urgent thing; there is no timer on it. Northwest of the Life Node that the druids took (north of the starting city of Faye) is a strange valley with 3 magic vaults. Take the time to loot them. Also, southwest along the river is a shipwreck that contains the Holy Platemail, which gives Defense +2 and 2 immunities. Not bad! If you give some lucky unit(s) water walking, they can waltz right across the river from the magic vaults and get some mana, gold, and resources. Not only that, but just to the south is a crypt that contains a fabulous shield. South of the starting town of Faye is a mostly empty swamp. You can get 2 free nymphs out of the dungeon there if you like, or fight a couple of odd battles, but it's mostly a poison-cloud infested swamp. There is, however, an unguarded frost wand amongst the poison clouds if you can navigate to it. As you head west through the swamp you run into shadow demons and ruins and a goblin city (Valp). Also, you will start to run into the Orcs of Skulkan. Make sure he doesn't outnumber and outmaneuver you. This can be done very easily with the aid of the 'wind walking' spell that you can get from one of the magic vaults north of the starting city. If you were lucky (or persistent) last scenario, you earned the Gold Dragon spell from the Spirit of Order. In this case, you can start taking Skulkan's towns and just leave a single gold dragon there to guard them. If not, you'll have to build up somewhat of a garrison before you go traipsing off. Much of the western part of the map is a maze of roads and mountains, filled with watchtowers. If you have windwalking on your killer stack, or you use a flying unit like a fairy, this can be bypassed, but if not, you'll have to march through the maze. There are some worthwhile things up there, though, most notably a Frostling City in the center of the north edge of the map. They will join you for free. Northeast of the Orc city of Gram Zar is a shadow portal. Using it takes you to the shadow plane, but this section of the shadow plane contains only monsters--no treasure, cities, mines, etc. Just...monsters. If you really want or need XP, feel free to go down there, but it's an annoying anti-magic area and you have to fight enchantment-stealing Brains. Not worth your time, methinks. Once you've taken over the Orc towns aboveground, head into the cave in the northwest corner of the map. Fangir's forces should be there, so you can now deal with him. The first thing to do once meeting him is to open up the diplomacy screen (the horn) and click on his face. Then click 'negotiate'. On the right side of the screen, Fangir's portrait appears above a couple of tabs. Pick the 'spell' tab and see if he has any spells that you need or want. Select some of your own and trade to him. This is a great (and fast!) way to get more and more diverse spells. Head into the cave and you'll be treated to some speeches by dwarves. Follow their directions (south, then east, then south) to Fangir's keep and he'll talk to you and give you some mines. He gives you a quest to get his magic back from the vaults to the east, and then to destroy the shadow demons. In the northeast corner of Fangir's domain is a city by a river (Adamast) with a bridge. (Note: up the river is a Power Node guarded by a couple of monsters; you can't go directly up the river because of the rapids, so go as far as you can, then click directly on the rapids to watch yourself take damage, then move past them to the node). Across the bridge is a tunnel that ends in dirt. If you have crafted an item with 'Tunnelling' on it, your hero can dig through it. Otherwise, Fangir can give you a mole to dig through. Or, you can go back up to the surface and use one of the two twin caves south of the Frostling town (Nerfil). Either way, you end up in a shadow-demon infested cave with a treasure room on the north end, blocked by dirt. If you have the mole, dig through. If your hero has an item that allows Tunnelling, you can also dig through. Otherwise, you'll end up missing out on a whole bunch of gold and some pretty decent items. East of the treasure room is a cave that leads up to an earth node. South of it is another dirt-blocked area full of anti-magic hexes and magic vaults. As soon as you break through, you'll be attacked by 3 or 4 shadow demon units, so beware. However, Fangir has quested you to get into one of these vaults (specifically the center one) so trudge on. You get a couple of interesting spells here, and there are 4 magic relays at the corners that you can grab to expand your domain. South of this area are 2 broken earth nodes, a shadow portal, and a couple of stacks of shadow demons. At this point, I had Oakleaf, alone, with wind walking, bless, enchanted weapon, and the life-stealing weapon and regenerate ring that I noted above. If you do likewise, along with a couple of quest- gotten items, this will not be a problem (particularly if he's level 15). If not, now might be a good time to cast Resurrect Hero if he died and think about doing as I suggest above. If you intend to go into the shadow portal here (or even the one at the west end of the surface map, near Gram Zar), make sure to cast Shadow Walking on anyone you're going to send in--otherwise, they will suffer Shadow Sickness, a pretty debilitating stat drain for as long as it's active. I'll assume you're going in the portal I just mentioned, south of Fangir's vaults. First, grab the watchtower and head north--you should be able to just barely see the periphery of the shadow demon city of Turtuli. Take it over and use it as a base in the shadow world, but be warned--your units will all be shadow-sick, so you're best off with a bunch of strong units that you can afford to cast 'shadow walking' on--a single gold dragon should do the trick, if you have it. If you feel brave, head south along a narrow path, through some well-hidden stacks of shadow demons to find a very well defended dungeon in a valley at the end. The biggest problems are the Brains, who steal enchantments from you. It shouldn't be a problem with a sufficient force (say 4 or 5 good units like Iron Maidens) who have been shadow-walker'ed. Your reward for all your troubles is a stack of 6 dwarves, including a Runemaster and a Gargoyle. You decide if it's worth it. Northwest of the shadow-demon city Turtuli is a path that leads to the main shadow-demon city, Ull'cthol (a name that is more than a little Lovecraftian). It is guarded by no less than 13 units, one of which is the Lord unit, a gigantic monster with 30hp, 17 attack, and 16 defense. I hope you've got some spare units around, because he is a pain to take down, along with all of his friends. Once you conquer this city, Fangir's quest is completed and you win the scenario. This battle can be a little tough, so here are some pointers. Make sure you have Casting Specialist V and Julia is in a tower with a Casting Room so you have the full 80 spell points to work with. Build a Use Item with PHASE on it and give it to Oakleaf. Attack with as many units as you've got, and on the first turn cast Holy Light and PHASE Oakleaf onto one of the corner towers of the wall. The enemy will start concentrating their fire on him (hopefully he's sturdy) and the rest of your forces can start beating the heck out of the doors. Only 1 unit at a time should be able to attack Oakleaf (except Skimmers, which are terrible). Augment Oakleaf's life-stealing with Healing spells and hold off the enemy until your main forces get inside. Then, surround and beat the heck out of the Lord, if Oakleaf hasn't killed him already. If you have gold dragons, even better. Have them breath fire on the enemies on the walls as your infantry knock down the doors. For the curious, I beat this city with -just- Oakleaf. He was unenchanted (because the blasted Brains stole them all) and these were his stats: LVL 15 ATK 12 DMG 9 DEF 19 RS 10 HP 26 MV 50 DOMINATE, DRAIN WILL, FIRE CANNON, HEALING I, HURL LIGHTNING, PHASE, WEB, BLOCK, CHARGE, DEATH IMM, DOUBLE STRIKE, FIRE PROT, FIRST STRIKE, FORESTRY, HASTE, HOLY IMM, LEADERSHIP II, LIFE STEALING, MAGIC RELAY, NIGHT VISION, PASS WALL, PHYS PROT, REGENERATION, SMOKY HAZE, STATIC SHIELD, TUNNELING on normal difficulty. I cast Holy Light and (I think) Healing twice. The immunities were gotten from a Plate Mail found at a shipwreck west of the starting town, and he had a shield that he found with fire protection on it. Other than that, the rest is crafted. As an oddity, you might notice that both Skulkan (who you met) and Arachna (who you probably haven't) are still hanging around (unless you killed off Skulkan really fast). This is because the way this level is designed, they want you to finish the quest. If you could defeat the other 2 leaders, you'd sidestep the quest and win the scenario. Skulkan's city is located south of the magic vault/shadow portal area underground, near Fangir's capital. Arachna has her city in the lower left-hand corner of the Underground map. I haven't been able to find a way to get at either of them. I suspect that if you took Fangir's capital and expanded your domain enough, you could start summoning stuff into Skulkan's cave and kill him, but I don't know how to get at Arachna at all. Suggestions are welcome. JULIA 3: SANCTUARY WOODS CALL HERO: yes! RESURRECT HERO: yes, if you research it You start out with 2 towns and a wizard tower, which is nice, because this scenario might be a little tougher. Then again, if you have a level 15 Oakleaf, it just might not. First order of business--get the life node guarded by the unicorn and then start taking out independent forces. Feel free to sack the 2 'ends of the rainbow', but be warned that the treasure you get is crap. Might be good XP for Oakleaf, though. It is entirely possible that you've researched all the spells and skills by now, so go into the research box and crank it all the way to the 'mana' side so you can see your total income. This will give you a good idea of what you can summon and how much you can enchant, if you want to do so. Remember that you can trade with Fangir for new spells and the odd item if you find yourself needing one. If you're feeling plucky, go down underground via Fangir's tunnel and take the 2 mines guarded by independents below, at the south end of Fangir's area. However, first you might want to head north of the Life Node and find another Life Node just to the northeast of it. Either pay off the leprechaun or kill him, and get that mana! The main reason I'm harping on this mana bit is the fact that Call Hero works in this scenario, so you can call up lots and lots of heroes to join Oakleaf (well, maybe not lots, but, a couple). You aren't given much options on how to expand, with the river where it is, so head south first and grab the power node and the 2 magic vaults. Once you've done that, explore the ruin and hit the orc city there. It should be a piece of cake with 1 high hero and (hopefully) a couple of low ones that you just summoned. Work your way south through the ruins and treasures and whatnot until you see a watchtower across the water. Nearby is a bridge and your first contact with Karissa, an evil Fire sorceress with an orc town right here. Take it. Move west, and take another of her towns. I suggest holding your killer stack on the towns until you get a garrison or a Gold Dragon there to hold it. Then move on. Before long, you'll run into the forces of Arachna, the Dark Elf queen. The dark elves aren't too tough, but watch out for the bladedancers with double strike and the spider queens with web--combined they can rip you to pieces if you don't have something protective like static shield on. On top of that, you'll find Phobius, and Karissa will probably start gnawing on your borders to boot. Take some time to shore up the borders. Send out some patrols and guard some bridges. When you're not sure what to do, stick a flying unit like a fairy on a resource or bridge. Unless they attack with missile units, they won't be able to get through (as long as you keep mashing 'end turn' and don't attack the ground units) so you'll be relatively safe that way. The key structures on this part of the map that you've explored are the bridges; if you can keep enemies from crossing them, you can hold what you've got. If not, you'll be forever chasing them around as they steal your resources. Karissa's main city is south of Florlindon, the first Orc city that you took, south of the starting area and across a bridge. See if you can wipe her out early. Arachna's main city is in the underground, accessable by a cave right next to the city of Zindar. Zindar is at the south center of the map, right across the river, near a bridge and a furnace (Igor's furnace, if the sign is correct). Right around the center of the map, north of Zindar, is a cave that leads to an elven burial chamber. Feel free to go in and loot. There is a rather easy tomb here that contains a pretty powerful weapon with life-stealing. The only downside is that it has Holy Weakness on it, so make sure to give it to someone with Holy Immunity or at least Holy Protection. Keep moving west, and don't worry too much about the underground--there isn't really a lot there, and Fangir will be exploring it. Keep taking towns, leaving a gold dragon there, and then move on to the next town. With the help of call hero and (perhaps) dominate, if you have it, you should have anywhere between 3 and 9 heroes right now, and all the junk you accumulated in the earlier scenarios along with anything that you've crafted should provide you with a group of maintenance-free nigh-indestructable killer units. With a set of armed and armored heroes and a set of gold dragons, you should be able to steamroll the enemy. Just take it steady, and don't leave a town until it's defended, and you'll be fine. To win, just defeat or make an alliance with every wizard on the board. I usually ally with Fangir and the halfling and kill off the rest. Don't worry too much about getting all the treasure and such in this scenario--after this, you have to start anew with another wizard and no heroes. KE-NAN 1: THE HORN OF KESH CALL HERO: no heroes available RESURRECT HERO: you have to find it or quest it This scenario is suprisingly tough, for a couple of reasons. First, you start with nothing, no heroes, and no spells. Second, the enemy has a HUGE territory with lots and lots of armies and cities. Third, the Nomads are one tough race, and that's what you have to fight against--particularly the Pit Guards, who are a really tough nut to crack. Head south down the road, and don't explore. There'll be time for that later. Ashela and the city of Tatabanya will join you. Grab the mill and tower if you want, but move quickly; you are no match for the Orcish Warlord and minions that are about to sack your city. Click on the city, go to the third tab, where produce merchandise and raze city are, and click on 'create caravan'. Once it is built, the next round, move east like there's no tomorrow. You'll pass through a watchtower and see a chieftain and an open plot of land on the other side. Get the caravan to the center of that plot and rebuild your city. Hire the chieftain and the camp next to him, and send the djinn into the bay to get the Water Mill. You'll still be down some money per round but we'll deal with that in a second. The orcs, meanwhile, will start taking your watchtower and/or water mill, if you stopped to capture them. Once Tatabanya is rebuilt, you should be back in the black, in terms of income. Kill the chaos minions guarding the heap of structure supplies near the water mill and then start making your way east. Make sure to grab the mine just south of you, but not necessarily the watchtower; Karissa can get antsy if you take that and send forces to take it back, in which case she might decide to take over Tatabanya, which you might not be able to defend just yet. Use your Djinn to scout the area before you send a force of cavalry after it. It might seem appealing to start moving south now, but Karissa can more than stomp you if you try it. You need some spells, you need some money...you need some support, basically. If at all possible, build a shrine of order in Tatabanya so you have a chance at questing some of the good life spells, including Gold Dragon and Sacred Wrath, as well as Resurrect Hero, none of which Ke-nan can research on his own. To the east, you will find a halfling accosted by a sphinx. Kill the Sphinx and Marinus will negotiate a truce with you. You'll also get a free Pioneer unit to rebuild the town here. Be careful, though. Those orcs will be after you now, if they weren't already. Make sure you have at least a basic wall up and a couple of decent units in Tatabanya before they attack. Perform standard defense-- keep a melee unit one hex behind the gate while your archers pound the gate-crashers. They should only be able to come in one per gate (usually they beat down 2 gates) and you can hit them with 2 of yours each, if you have the numbers. South of where you started is the city of Tyrsak, which is worth rebuilding if you have the resources. Right nearby is a water mill and a camp where you can hire a couple of cat units. There's also an arena that will train regular units (but regrettably, not heroes). Make sure to attack the arena! you can get a hero if you beat the brains. However, you have to watch out for the fact that Karissa is directly to the south of you, in a cave. She will be your enemy until a little later on in the scenario when you start freeing some orc slaves, but until then, she will more than likely try to attack you. Once you rebuild Tyrsak, though, make sure to also rebuild the water mill north of it. Also near Tyrsak, just to the south of it, is a Pirate ship with an incredible weapon at it. There is a caveat, though--physical weakness. This can be countered with the 'Physical Protection' ability that you can craft onto an item, but i'm not entirely sure if you take 100% damage, or 75, or 50. Continue to scout the perimeter of the map with your Djinn(s) so you can get a feel of what everything looks like. You can find some stray gold and some nodes and things that you won't necessarily be able to take immediately, but knowing where things are will help you form your plans. Also, make sure to trade with Marinus! He has some very important spells that you should get your hands on, because Ke-Nan doesn't have access to any healing spells or the like. Particularly, get your hands on Static Shield if you can. Once you have it, you can start crafting it onto your items, and all will be good with the world. When at all possible, do quests for the Spirit of Order so you can get the spells 'Sacred Wrath' and 'Gold Dragon'. I say Order because his quests seem to be the most productive. You could do quests for War, sure, and get the undead dragon spell, but his stuff involves breaking alliances, razing things, declaring war on friends...generally stuff that makes the game harder. I really think you're better off doing the more productive things like rebuilding cites and capturing resources. What I did was slowly move south and take over the furnace near Karissa's cave. I then parked my killer stack on top of the cave and rebuilt the ruined village there, Kabalg. The funny thing is that if you don't bother Sahira, she won't bother you. Perhaps the AI is coded that way. Just east of Kabalg is a dungeon labelled 'orc storage'. Attack it and free the orcs within and suddenly Karissa is your best friend. She makes an alliance with you and will now start attacking Sahira--not that she's very good at it. In my experience, Karissa makes a not-so-good ally, and I usually have to end up blocking Sahira from coming up through Kabalg's cave before long. Nevertheless, take this time to trade spells with Karissa, if she has any you need. By the time you take Kabalg, Tatabanya should be just about built out. Start making items for Ashela, and once you've got her stocked, make items for the heroes you'll be getting in later scenarios. Move east and take the town of Kerin. This will be your first real challenge; Sahira will probably start sending her forces up to take it. Take advantage of all the independent 'slave' units and use them to defend your town. Start taking all the stuff around Kerin, like the mines, the pools, the tower, everything. Build up your hired slave forces there but -don't- stack orcs and halflings together! Their morale will plunge and they'll desert. An interesting note, at this point; if you wait a long time (like say, 200 turns), Sahira will run out of money and her units will start deserting, which makes this scenario much easier, not to mention the fact that this will give you plenty of time to max out your heroes. Sweep south and east-ward, but do not go through the portal. Take all the cities around before attacking Sahira's main overland city. It could be a tough nut to crack with all of her Pit Guards, so bring everything you've got and attack in force. She has a lot of Efreet and horse archers, usually, with Pit Guards as muscle. You should try to craft PASS WALL rings for your heroes and get halfling rogues to get up on the wall and get at these. If not, the Fire Bolts and arrows will tear you to pieces. With a large enough force, you should make short work of her. However, that's not the end. She'll reappear at a tower in the shadow world the next round. So now the problem...how to get there? First, consolidate your holdings here; make sure you clean out all the enemy units and take over all the mines, nodes, towers, etc. that you can. Then, make 2 items with DOMINATE and DRAIN WILL on them. Give one to each of your 2 heroes. Then, take the teleport portal in the the middle of the lava field. You'll find yourself in an enclosed area that you might already have found with your djinns which contains a lot of slave units and a few enemy units. First things first: find Pitface, the enemy hero. He should be in a tower just to the north. Attack him with your heroes and first DRAIN WILL him, then DOMINATE him. If everything goes well, you'll have your third hero. He might have friends, so you might need some too. Start hiring up all the stray units and get a little band together to help you into the shadow world. When you feel you're ready, step into the portal at the end of the road. You find another stream of slaves heading towards 2 groups of 3 portals each. All the portals lead to the same area around Sahira's castle, but each destination is guarded by a different stack of shadow demons. They shouldn't be any problem for your burgeoning slave army. Surround Sahira's town and attack with everything you've got. She might have a Lord in there which will be the hardest unit to kill, but the rest should be fodder before your legions. KE-NAN 1: DRAKAR OASIS CALL HERO: no heroes available RESURRECT HERO: you have to find it or quest it The task in this scenario is simple; save O'neron, a Syron, from a dungeon somewhere on the map. While it can be done easily enough, you might want to take your time and build up for the next scenario, maxxing out your heroes and researching everything you can. Start sending out units to the general area, taking the nearby mines and looting the nearby ruins. South of the town you start at, Tatabanya, you can find a hero, Gatom, to join your ranks. Near him is the cave of King Joseph's tomb, which contains yet -another- hero. If you got Pitface from the last scenario, you'll now have 5 heroes! There is a teleporter in the cave with King Joseph that leads to the east side of the map. While you can go that way if you like, it is my preference to shore up what you've got on the west before venturing too far away from home base. At this point, you're probably still pretty fragile and leaving your cites behind, ripe for surprise attack, is probably not the best way to go. North of Tatabanya is another ruin and a mine, held by the draconian Ambir. To the east, you can see the edges of the Tigrans' domain. Your area is fairly self-contained, at this point. You are surrounded by mountains with a river obstructing ground troops to the east, and the only way into your area is through the cave teleporter where you found king Joseph. However, if you use that, your killer stack will be on the other side of the map, not in a good position to deal with a surprise attack. You have a few options, but it is somewhat limited by your past actions. If you traded for Water Walking from Marinus last scenario, you can use that to get your troops east. Alternately, you can use the teleporter and hope for the best. Another way to secure your domain, though it's a bit risky, is to send either your killer stack or a bunch of expendables through the porter and then Raze it so no one can come back that way (because the AI never rebuilds anything). If it's your killer stack though, you'll then have to rush back west if somebody decides to attack you. You're not in a position now to start defending your towns with Gold Dragons, so if the enemy decides to attack you, you'll probably need your heroes to fend them off. I'll tell you what I did; I was lucky enough to get Water Walking from Marinus in the last scenario, so I cast it on my killer stack and marched them east. The kitties here can present a problem because many of them are missile attackers, and thus defend well and can easily shoot down your Gold Dragons if you defend with them. What I did was leave 1 gold dragon at a town and use my killer stack of 5 heroes to run around squashing anything that came out of any towns or even -thought- about attacking my stuff. Once you defeat the kitties, though, the Draconians will be right on their heels. If you destroy the teleport to King Joseph's cave, they'll only have one avenue of attack--from the north and east, into Tigran territory. With a decent hasted killer stack, you should be able to keep them from getting anywhere. Directly north of Tigran territory are 2 small towns held by the Tigrans that lie on a lake, near a house of healing and a cave. In that cave is Zorcatraz prison. Now, if you want, you can go in there and rescue O'neron and get the next part of the quest, which is to escort him safely to a Syron city nearby. Or, you can go out in search of draconians to squash. If you have not maxxed out your heroes levels yet, I suggest the latter. Start by moving east, towards the other end of the teleport portal. There is a city nearby that you can take, and directly south of it is a tower with a patch of ice next to it. Go into the cave there, take the teleporter, and you'll be in a frozen cave with a frostling city (Icebanks). Attack it, making sure to have one of your heroes carrying a DOMINATE item (preferably with PASS WALL as well). DOMINATE the hero Eklo (if you're doing this right, you're up to 6 heroes now) and take the town. Then, head northwest. You find yourself in a treasure cave, so by all means, sack it! Watch for wandering yeti, though. Leave the treasure cave through the teleporter and head north to the pair of towers north of the Draconian city. Once you get into the jungle, you'll be hit with a divine storm and then attacked by a phoenix. Once you defeat it, head north and take over the Syron city. It is possible to complete a quest to gain access to the city without the Phoenix attacking, or so I presume...but I can't figure out how to complete said quest. It seems random every time and always seems to be one that I've already completed (capture the magic catalyst or have 750g saved up...or something else like that). Regardless, the draconians are hiding out in the northwest quadrant of the map. You should have assembled enough forces by now to crush them. In the end, there are 2 roads to victory. You can either rescue O'neron and take him to the Pertunia Wells, or you can defeat the Draconians. Either will lead you to victory. The pertunia wells is the Jungle area east of Zorcatraz cave, through the pair of watchtowers, past the Phoenix. Ironically, I had a wizard tower built there by the time I rescued O'neron, and since I had a teleport portal in the town right outside of the cave, I used to to teleport to the Syron city and immediately won. Incidentally, northeast of where you start is a small valley with a magic vault and a shipwreck in it. You cannot get there without flying/floating/mountain- walking. In there are the spell Level terrain and a couple of semi-useful magic items. It's not tough to beat, just tough to access, so knock yourself out if you want to clean the whole map. KE-NAN 3: MOUTH OF AMTAR CALL HERO: no heroes available RESURRECT HERO: you have to find it or quest it To give you an idea of perspective, I entered this scenario with 6 heroes. 3 of them were level 15, and the others were 12, 11, and 8. They all had at least haste/phys prot/regen rings and lifesteal/first strike/double strike weapons, and 4 of them had Pass wall/static shield/willpower rings. 3 had dominate/drain will/fire cannon use items, and one of them tunnelled. I tell you this in case you enter this scenario with like 2 heroes and wonder why I make it sound so easy. It's much easier if you spent time beforehand, in the other scenarios, to research all your spells and skills, build up your heroes, and find and craft them weapons. You start with 1 city, whatever heroes you've got, and little else. Send the heroes south to capture the resource pile. Get the mana crystals just to the east, too. Surprisingly, on turn 2, you make an alliance with Vorsar. Well, OK. He's a big *BLEEP BLEEP* but while we're weak, we'll take what we can get. See if he has any spells or items that you want and trade for them. Remember, try to give him useless crap; he'll turn on us eventually. South is a dead end. Instead, head north along the road till you find some burned out windmills. Nearby is the halfling city of Mullymill, which will help bolster your income. And, if you are so inclined, you can rebuild some of the windmills around here for extra cash. Mullymill in hand, drift south to get a Water Node and (if you're brave) a Dragon's nest guarded by a big black dragon. South of there you can find a narrow path through the mountains and a watchtower, beyond which is a boat you can hire, an inn where you can hire another hero, Grogmir the Dwarf, and an earth node. Hire the boat to cross, and then send it upriver with the dwarf in it to capture the water mill northeast of the inn. Alternately, hire the frost witches to freeze the river for you and then send them upriver to capture the mill. Kill the necromancer at the circus and head east to the tower. You'll see a small town guarded by a hireable pig, if you've hired Grogmir. Go ahead and take it over. After securing this 'pig-town' (Frolan), head north across the bridge. You'll find a dwarf town there; take it. Right about now you might start running into Yaru's troops. With 7 heroes, you shouldn't have much to worry about. What you should be more worried about is ensuring that your towns don't get sacked when those heroes are elsewhere. As ever, I stick a Gold Dragon at every town. Make use of the abundant watchtowers in this rocky area here, with the dwarves, to ensure that you can always see the enemy coming. Two towns up from the pig town you'll find a dwarf town guarded by a dwarf hero. Crack your knuckles and get out the DOMINATE, but be careful; your are most likely very very powerful at this point, and you don't want to accidentally counterattack and kill her. If you got this hero (Sanra) from the city (Rularn), and you got all the others, that's 8; a full group of heroes. Pretty crazy, huh. Just northeast of this town of Rularn is a shadow portal, and north of that is Vorsar. You're probably still allied with Vorsar, so unless you go into the shadow portal (not recommended yet), turn around and start heading east with the boat, any spells you've got, etc. Note the fact that as well as regular land caves, there are also water caves to the underground, a tactical fact that Yaru uses to his advantage quite often. While at this stage of the game it's improbable and impractical to plug every cave with a Gold Dragon, you want to keep an eye on them for movement. Definitely stick a Gold Dragon on top of the Shadow Portal, if you can. This prevents Vorsar from going in and prevents the All-Devourer from coming out. Once the surface is secure (Don't forget the Syron town in the northwest corner), move into the underground and clean that out. The underground around here is actually rather small. Vorsar might have already cleaned it out for you. The only thing noteable down here is a magic vault with the spell Wind Walking, which you probably have already. Thus, the last place to explore is the Shadow Gate north of Rularn, the town where Sanya was. When you go through it, you'll be near 2 towns; One to the northeast, and one to the northwest. Take the northwest one first (Eshaba) then take the northeast one (Xhalaghak). Once both are secure, head south of Xhalaghak and attack Shadowhaven, a Syron city. Cross the bridge, grab the death node, and head east. You'll find yourself at the All-devourer's HQ. He has 2 cities there, both with towers. By now you should have a couple of good casters, so have your wizard start dumping AE spells on them (Sacred Wrath works best) and immediately follow up with castings from your heroes. They can get a lot of XP this way if they get the kills, and it wipes out the lesser (usually missile) units and weakens the stronger ones. If you have trouble defeating his minions, take and hold the furnaces there so he has trouble affording them. They should desert him before long if you've gotten all of his other structures. Yaru is a bit trickier to get to. You have to stick water/wind-walking on your stack and have them head south of the All-devourer's twin cities (Fraku and Turtuli). All alone, surrounded by poison plants, with only a teleporter to get access to the rest of the world, his city is difficult to get to but not difficult to take. BEFORE YOU TAKE YARU, make sure all your towns on your border with Vorsar are sturdy and well-defended. That dirty rat is about to turn on you. Your best course of action is to plug the shadow world and make sure he doesn't have any troops in there or any way to get in. As Shadow Lock is broken as far as I can tell, don't bother casting that. Stick a Gold Dragon on top of the only shadow portal and get your killer stack to the border ASAP. Don't even wait to get Yaru's city garrisoned. As soon as he breaks alliance with you, get your units into position and declare war on him; don't even wait for him to attack you. Hit him hard and fast before he can get organized. His main city is at the northeast corner of the map, and odds are he'll cast Domain of Darkness, so it'll be a pain to get to. You can 'Disjunction' (Disjoin?) it if you want, but he'll just recast it again anyways. If you take all of his cities and you haven't won, you probably missed one. This is probably Rumd, a draconian city on the south side of the Underground map. It can be accessed by a series of caves near pig-town (Frolan) and Ostberg (north of pig-town). MEANDOR 1: JUNGLE OF UMBURA CALL HERO: no heroes available RESURRECT HERO: you can research Animate Hero, which makes them Undead. You can only have 1 animated hero at any 1 time. I found this to be a very hard scenario, probably the second-hardest behind the last one. Once again you start with no heroes, no spells, no town, no nothing, only this time, the enemies are even harder. Not only that, but the Gold Dragon defender trick doesn't work, because Gold Dragons are good and will not tolerate an evil master. You have to use the (rather inferior) Bone Dragon which the enemy tends to summon up against you anyways. You start with 6 units and you are very much down gold. Take the mine to your northwest. Whatever you do, keep that shade alive. He is your most powerful unit and you'll need him alive until you get your hero maxxed out (who you don't even have yet). Once you have the mine, head northeast to a watchtower and a road. From there you can see another tower, an orc outpost, and a mine guarded by undead. Take the town. Use the Shade to kill the archer and blast the cavalry with Death Ray. If it comes outside, have the Abomination Entangle it. Once you have the town, send the abomination west, across the river, to get the tower you see there, and send the rest of your troops to get the mine guarded by the death knights. Money would not be such an urgent issue if they didn't give you 2 more (expensive) Warlords, but you'll need all the help you can get this early on. With the watchtower, you'll see a magic catalyst and some mana crystals, so collect both with your Abomination. Meanwhile, on the eastern front, go get the watchtower north of the mine, guarded by 2 human units. You'll see a resource pile near your town, but until your town grows into at least a village, it's uselss to you. Instead, concentrate on the power node right next to the tower and the furnace down the road. Once you get to the furnace, you find a nice surprise. Your hero! He's a spellcaster-type, but he comes with life-stealing already! How convenient. Move east down the road and you come to a watchtower guarded by 7 humans. This might be a tough nut to crack if you've lost some troops. Whatever it takes, -don't lose Morrandir- your new hero. Once you take this tower, you find yourself in a more open jungle area with a river to the south, a dungeon, 2 ruins, and a couple of stacks of independent units. First, attack the dungeon to get a few more units to help you with the rest of em. Ok now. The western ruin is really hard. Why? Because it is defended by 2 Shades. It's great when you've got one, but fighting these things are a pain. They have physical protection and life-stealing. If they had double strike, you might not need heroes. So, you have one, and they have two. You might want to wait a bit for this one. Inside is the Shadow Key, an item that lets you Shadow Shift. Since this is something you can craft onto an item anyway (assuming you have learned the spell), you could skip this thing altogether. However--you don't have any dark elf cities, nor access to any, so a better trick might be to build a DOMINATE item and go in there with just Morrandir, dominate a shade, and retreat. Then the next round, attack again with just Morrandir and DOMINATE the other. If your other shade is alive, you'll now have 3! The eastern ruin is a bit easier. That's not to say it's a breeze, but it's better than the other one. Ironically, this one rewards you with...the Ring of Life. Yes, we'll give the happy good ring to the evil Dark Elf. It may not even be worth it to get this as it only gives you holy protection and path of life. Grab the other tower and you'll see a mine and a power node. Both are defended but you should be able to deal with them in short order. Just make sure to stop and rest to regain your hp after a fight. The nearby magic vault, on the north end of the valley, contains the spell Shadow Lock, something which I am not convinced works, and you should be able to research anyway. Still, it might be worth a shot to get it and cast it. Once you have gotten the dungeon, the towers, the mine, and the node, venture into the cave. Be warned that there are several Indie units that may attack you in here, but you can get a resource pile and some mana crystals, as well as gold and an item; a ring of magic protection, halving all that nasty magic damage that can hit you when an opponent has Enchant Weapon or Magic Strike. Move north a bit, into the All-devourer's blue domain and you'll see a shadow gate guarded by a big nasty stack of shadow demons. I sure hope you have a good stack of units. If not, go back to your city and make one. Or how about a better idea? from just south of the shadow gate, head west. You would think there were going to be mountains there, but there's actually a very small valley with cliffs surrounding a human city. If you can take it, you will greatly increase your income over what it was from that piddly orc outpost (although it should have grown a bit by now). An interesting tidbit--the demons blocking the portal are actually a fixed group that won't move unless you come close. If you remove them, then the All-devourer will come streaming though with his armies. Something to think about. You might want to leave them there, just for security's sake. Now get the mine north of the human town (Ruluk) and also the tomb to the northwest to get Morrandir a helm. Once you've gotten those things, sneak around the blue domain line to the cave on the other side. In there is another mine and a resource pile, as well as a monster cave if you can defeat some doom bats (stupid doom bats...). Further east underground is a passage north, blocked by some webs and spiders. Up this passage is another set of tunnels that leads to a dwarven area. While the east side is blocked by a river, the west side has more mines, and there are a number of exits to the surface throughout. If you wind your way northwest, you can find a ruin, guarded by some strong monsters, but containing a fabulous shield. Even further northeast is a Shadow Gate guarded by a bunch of intimidating monsters. Just like the one outside, near Ruluk, this serves to plug the All-devourer from coming out. You don't want to unplug it until you're ready. Just southwest of the mines, though, you can find a useful item: the Ring of Levitation. This lets you float over pretty much everything, and since floating is in short supply among Meandor's minions, take this time to get it and equip Morrandir with it. You might think that there are wonderful things to explore down here, across the rivers. You'd be mostly wrong. Near the ruins with the shield there is a pile of gold and some resources, and up near the shadow portal there is some gold, but that's it. Both river trails east of the mines meet dead ends. Hmm, but wait! On the surface, there are a lot of water spots blocking you from getting south! Why don't we check out those now (we'll return to the tunnels and explore the other side of them later). Now I'm presuming here that Morrandir is strong enough to venture out on his own. At this stage, I had him at level 7 with the phys prot/regen ring, the floating ring, a double strike weapon, and crafted armor, as well as a helm I found. He had spell casting V (30 mp) and 11/11/15/15/22/44 for stats. Not indestructible, but sturdy enough for medium-weight jobs. Add to that the fact that I had 50 other casting points to deal with, and Morrandir is lookin pretty good. Let's start with the Tomb, south of the dungeon near Ruluk, across the river. The residents are easy, aside from the vampire, which itself is easy if you have willpower. If not, kill it fast. You are rewarded with a death/holy protection ring. Now move east, and you'll see a ruin. In here is a poison protection shield; not top drawer, but something for your next hero in the next scenario. That's about it for across the river. Go back into the cave and take the first exit you come to. You should come out just east of the Shadow Portal. There is a pile of resources here, but also a stack of shadow demons that will attack you. Past them is the river and a bridge, across which is a draconian city. Go get it. Behind the city is a watchtower and a dragon roost, and north of that is a mine and a shipwreck. To the north of those is another city. Man, it's packed in here! Get that shipwreck--there is a fabulous set of armor in it. Get the town just north of the shipwreck, the tower, and then head upriver to get a water node and a dwarf-held mine. Now, unless you want to trudge across the mountains to the north side of the map, it's probably a good idea to go into the shadow world. There are 2 ruins up there, true, one with a cave crawling ring and another with a Drain Will collar, but those are all things you can craft. You also get a little fore- shadowing if you find the ruined village. Take the portal at the north end of the underground. This lets you into the Syron section. Talk to the Karagh there to get him to join you, and then head west. You'll find a whole bunch of Syron cities and resources unclaimed and ripe for the picking. Except, as soon as you step onto one, you win the scenario. Imagine that! You don't even have to fight the All-Devourer if you don't want to. Before you beat the scenario, however, make sure to get the shipwreck in the northwest corner of the shadow map. It gives you the Sacrificial Dagger, a Lifestealing weapon, and while you can craft better, it will do in a pinch. While you can go defeat the All-Devourer if you like, I don't recommend it. There's really no reward in doing it, and it's the harder path. Unless you want to say to your friends 'yeah, I did it the harder way', I really don't see the benefit of it. MEANDOR 2: URLAND FIELDS CALL HERO: no heroes available RESURRECT HERO: you can research Animate Hero, which makes them Undead. You can only have 1 animated hero at any 1 time. This level has an interesting task; hunt down and kill 6 heroes. It would be great if you could DOMINATE them, but alas, they are immune to both DOMINATE and DRAIN LIFE. Still, they have some cool items on them, so make sure to loot them when they die. You start in the southwest area, once again a jungle. Morrandir should still have his floating ring, so send him out to explore the countryside. Start with the camp right next to you and get a lightning mace. Directly north of there is the first of the 6 evil heroes--Nielduh. You can take him with the aid of the executioners and the shades you were given; they should be nearby. Of course, if you're cocky like me, you could do it with just Morrandir. Grab the watchtower just to the east of Nielduh and you'll be able to see a mine, a dungeon, a tower, a node, and some mana crystals, as well as a magic vault. Start munching your way through these to get all the stuff you can. In particular, the vault is guarded by wimpy things and contains the spell Watcher, which is probably one of my favorite spells ever. It unfogs your domain, even if the enemy has Domain of Darkness up. Just north of the vault is a ruin with an Incarnate. These things can possess (take over) your units, Willpower or no. Very dangerous. Make sure to target it first and destroy it. Your reward is a helmet with Cause Fear on it. The dungeon, on the other hand, holds 2 succubi. They'll make great scouts. Once you grab the watchtower, you should be able to talk to Ambir. While not the sturdiest of allies, he gives you a free hero, and I won't complain about that. Tsi Iri starts with float (he's a draconian) right near Ambir's capital, just east of you. Have him meet up with Morrandir ASAP to get any extra equipment. Hopefully you had some foresight last round to build some items for other heroes in the last scenario. Go ahead and forge an alliance with Ambir and then see if you can get any spells from him. You're all death and earth and he's all fire and air, so I sure hope so. Interestingly enough, he seems to get beaten a lot, so you may find yourself in the position of having to defend him just because he has a spell you want. Between you and Ambir is a small town. By all means, relieve Phobius of it. It makes a good meeting spot for Morrandir to pick up Tsi Iri. You might see a couple of the heroes running around--the cat hero and an archon hero. If you get a chance, run them down and kill them for their items. Also, Winger is probably hanging out at an Inn in sight of one of your watchtowers, north of the small human city (Gamortis). He's got some -great- items the little halfling bugger, so knock him over as soon as you can. Grab the mine to your west, by the arena, along the ridge wall. Now you pretty much have the south end of the map, along with Ambir. There's a cave east of the in, though, with a town in it, and Phobius has it. You might want to take and strengthen that, but then Phobius will be sending his troops south through the gap. It's hard to shoehorn him into only coming one way, in this one. The cave actually contains 2 towns; the other is northwest of the first one you find. There's another exit west of it, though, which leads into Phobius territory. Staying for that long underground might not be such a good idea until you wear him down. Here's an interesting note. If you take a look at the eastern-most exit from the underground, you can see that there is some dirt heading northeast. If you dig through there, you'll find some piles of gold and three(!) mines all in a row, all owned by Phobius. It seems that the computer needed to let Phobius cheat to win, eh? Craft yourself a tunnelling Use item and go relieve him of those mines. Going north, into the gap, reveals a whole lot of Phobius-ness. He's got a magic relay, a windmill, and a town right there, along with watchtowers, a circus, a cave... I mean really. What I suggest is that you run down into the cave, take over that town, and summon up a Bone Dragon to guard it while you build it a garrison. Then, head north up into the gap after you clean up any invaders and take that town. That will make it harder for Phobius to take the underground town as well as extend your foothold north. Once you have that town garrisoned, head around to the other things like watchtowers and whatnot so you can clean up the area. Of course, the problem is that Ambir is going to start having the crap kicked out of him and you can't defend both your border and his at the same time; or if you can, you'll be stretching yourself mighty thin. And it's not like Phobius sends junk, either. He sends knights--lots and lots of em. This is what I did. Ambir bit the dust around turn 40, but I had both my heroes at level 15 by about then--Phobius provided me with lots of combat experience, as knights are worth quite a bit. I put one bone dragon at each town that I captured: the 2 underground ones (Goredac and Ladubar), the one just north of the gap between the mountains, by the inn (Esgard), and the one by the furnaces (Gamortis). I then proceeded to save up my money by not garrisoning them outside of the bone dragons and having my 2 heroes run around killing any invading force that came through, and taking back any cities that fell. The defense doesn't work as well as it does with Gold Dragons, but it can still work if Phobius doesn't attack with many missile units, which he usually does not. Kill the missile units, then have the dragon hide in/on top of the temple dome and kill off anything you can with spells. Then just mash 'end turn' till it ends in a draw and you keep the town. I did all of this until each of the towns were 'built up', that is to say, built all the buildings they possibly could. This way, they are much easier to defend and don't risk getting hit with global spells before combat. Once they were all built up, I started taking additional towns, one by one, starting with all of Ambir's old holdings. If you keep up the momentum, Phobius will have a tough time countering you, especially if he's throwing himself uselessly at towns where fights just end in stalemates. Another possible route is to capture the dragon roost in the mountains near Esgard--south of it. If you build up the dragon hatchlings and get them gold medals, they will change into a regular dragon of random type. If you're lucky, it won't be gold (as they will desert you because you are evil) and you can use these much superior dragons to guard your towns. Far to the east side of the map, even further east than Ambir's holdings, at the mountains' edge is a Dragon Cave, and inside is one of the heroes you must kill. He's not so bad. His red dragon friend, on the other hand...well it shouldn't be too hard. Just don't bunch up to get breathed on. It helps a lot if you were able to trade for 'Fire Halo' before Ambir bit the big one. The last hero is at a dungeon, north of Ambir's holdings. Find the dwarven market by the river (it's near a magic relay). Then head north to the city of Yuth. From there, head north again to the city of Gmbo Umbo. Bowan, the dark elf paladin, is guarding a dungeon right to the northeast of Gmbo Umbo. The turn after you defeat the last hero, you win the scenario. MEANDOR 3: PHOBIAN EMPIRE CALL HERO: no heroes available RESURRECT HERO: you can research Animate Hero, which makes them Undead. You can only have 1 animated hero at any 1 time. You start in the southwest corner and are tasked with taking over this huge map--2 layers of it. Start by heading further southeast and claiming the mine and ruin, as well as the resource pile. Note that you are given another hero here, on top of the shadow gate. And he's level 14 to boot! Very nice. Collect all these items and head west along the south end of the map. You can get a tomb, a camp, gold, resources, a water mill...pretty much a ton of stuff. Of course, while you do all this, Phobius is going to start sending feelers into your territory to start snatching your resources. You don't get any rest in this scenario. Better run back with your heroes and start cleaning up. If you're lucky, Phobius will send one or more of -his- heroes down, and you can DOMINATE them into service. I was lucky enough to get one of his level 20 heroes on turn 16. Not only was he really strong, but he was also packed to the gills with equipment. Not far to the northwest is a large obstacle; a lake. Ringing it are towers and windmills. Ideally, you want to control the southeast half of the lake for a bit. This can be difficult due to a lack of towns in the area. Phobius also has a bad habit of sending down Bone Dragons to take your stuff, so using dragons in defense has a big minus in it. This might actually be the first time you'll need to adopt a 'scorched earth' policy. The key to this policy is simple; if I can't have it, no one will. Take a windmill; raze it. Take a watchtower; raze it. Take a city; raze it. Destroy everything Phobius has and drive him to his knees. Considering the breadth of your frontier with Phobius, you might consider building up your heroes on invaders and then splitting them into 2 or even 3 strike teams to handle more than 1 task at once. You start with 3 heroes, and so does Phobius. He has Taberu the Ranger (lucky for me, Taberu died on turn 2, and so I animated him with 'Animate Hero'), who is level 17 or thereabouts, Mynar the Paladin, level 20 (I DOMINATEd him on around turn 15) and Estra the Rogue, who is around level 10. All of these heroes will be much better off on your side, I think we can agree, so it's just a matter of collecting them. In this regard, Earth's Awareness is a fabulous spell. Cast it and start looking around at Phobius' cities for his heroes. If you see one, send your hero stack out to get another hero. You'll suffer shortfall in the short term, but with more heroes, you can do more, so it's more than worth it to go get them. Estra, in particular is at a city to the west called Ilstader, along with a basilisk. This city is maxxed out, so be careful when/if you attack it. However, once it's in hand, you have at your disposal a full city, complete with item forge, force field, sanctuary, and teleportation gate--an effective base in the south central area of the map. While you're over there, head to the southwest corner and crush Sahira. Her 'domain of fire' spell makes it a serious pain in the neck to take the west side of the map, so you're better off killing her as early on as you can. Another avenue of attack is to head into the shadow world. It's a fairly narrow path you're presented with down here, and the other end of it puts you north of Phobius, behind his lines, so to speak. There are also cities in the shadow world that you can conquer and/or recruit. If you don't like these ideas, start building cities of your own, and slowly move northwest towards Phobius, using your heroes to cover the rather weak initial outposts. It takes a long time for something like this to work, but it can work. In the end, your best bet is to ignore the fact that Phobius is taking all the structures; rather, concentrate your energy on taking and keeping the cities. Build up the cities and defend them with a few strong units and all the spells you can muster. Usually, when a city is lightly defended, the enemy will only send 1 or 2 stacks to attack them, which can be fodder for your big spells like Sacred Wrath, with the Tower Guard town upgrade to clean up, as well as a few beefy units. Undead cities, while crappy producers, are hard to take if properly fortified. If you build the Hall of Doom structure, anything that dies has a chance of coming back as an undead unit under your control. In the northwest corner of the map is a gigantic lake, sprinkled with mines and towers on the far side. If you can get a water unit or a flying stack out there, take all of Phobius' mines. Once again, the computer has to have some money-producing things hidden away to give it an advantage. Grabbing these can cause a serious damper to Phobius' cash flow, and if you're lucky, his units will start deserting, making them indepenents. These independents will, in turn, start taking Phobius' structures which will cause a chain reaction, of sorts, causing more to desert from lack of funds...and so on. Up near the northeast corner is a set of magic vaults with some Ends of Rainbow and ruins, near a halfling city. If you have time, you can stop by there and get some items and such. This level is broad, so it's hard to give a definitive strategy. My take is this: ignore and/or raze structures, capture towns, and defend them with 1 bone dragon and maybe some archers. Blast attackers with spells and hide the dragons in the Temple Complex on the map. Cast Summoner's Aura to give the dragons a better resistance to Phobius' spells. Whenever you see a large army gathering, send your hero strike force to wipe it out. Eventually, you'll wear Phobius down, but this is a long and involved thing--one might almost say tedious. O'NERON 1: EASTERN PASS CALL HERO: no heroes available RESURRECT HERO: research it Once again you start with nothing; or, almost nothing. You have one hero to speak of. Move east and immediatly you'll see another hero, a paladin. Grab him and continue east along the road. Time is short, as the All-devourer is going to muster everything he's got to squash you. There's no time to explore. You will find a group of shadow demons and watch them destroy a town. You will most probably have to fight them to get past. A little further east is a tower. Grab it, and you'll see a cave entrance to the east across a river. Head there as fast as you can. On the other side of the bridge that you must take, there will be a shadow demon outpost. If you can slip past, good. If they attack, fight them off and make sure to cast Chain Lightning first thing to gain the early advantage. If you want to get the outpost and it's lightly defended, then do so, but don't make any special efford to defend it. You'll need everything you've got once you find the refugees. Go north and attack the 2 shadow demons and then go into the cave. Grab a tower next to the entrance so you can see where you are going, then head south. You will pass an herbalist in a tower; ignore her and continue south. You will find a watchtower with some dwarves who will join you. Ignore the water mills because the All-devourer will be here in a minute to take them anyway. Move the dwarf unit south and a whole bunch of cites will join you; the refugee camp. When you have control of the refugee camp, in particular the dwarf one, send them into the dwarf area to collect some nodes and mines. Then move all the other units save about 1 or 2 per city south through the watchtower and onto the bridge/watchtower structure, making sure to grab the water mills. Meanwhile, get O'neron to the human city as soon as possible. Now fortify the bridge against attack. In my experience, the All-Devourer has never sent a group of all flyers across the water, and has never frozen the river, so if you can defend this bridge against attack, nothing can get to the cities. Put a stack of 8 on top of the tower and another stack of 8 on the bridge behind the tower. The idea here is to fill it up with missile units and good door-jammers, and have 2 stacks while the All-Devourer can only attack with one stack at a time. Note that you have a new quest: capture Rumborg. Don't pay much attention to this just yet; the All Devourer is just about to cause some havoc and you'll need to defend yourself against it. I've had him attack the tower on the bridge as much as 3 times in a single round. You might initially want to have O'neron in a water mill or something to be able to cast spells in the siege until you are able to build a wizard tower. You can sneak southwest against the cliff wall and get a power node and an item, but be warned that the enemy can sneak back up that way, too. For some reasone, the computer doesn't choose to attack that way, but be warned that it is possible. It is my opinion that you should just sit here, where you are, for maybe 50-100 turns researching spells, building up your heroes, and building up your towns so you can forge items and build superior units. Only then will I venture out to start smashing the enemy. One of the failings of the AI in this game is that it fails to take advantage of time. It spends all its gold and mana on units, and then they sit around as long as it has enough structures. It hardly ever builds up its towns, and it seems to research spells and skills at about half the rate I do. Time is on your side. Use it. Once again, the spells Sacred Wrath and Gold Dragon are your friends. Make sure to build at least 1 shrine of Order so you can get quests to get these spells. In this scenario, you can at least reserch Sacred Wrath. If you head southwest from your 'fort', you'll find the city of Sipwuzuk in a small chamber. It's probably been taken over by shadow demons, so see if you can take and hold it, once you're comfortable going out. Right near Sipwuzuk is an exit to the overworld, and if you head north across the river from it, there is yet another. The number of exits makes it somewhat difficult to defend just the underground, although the towers at each exit lend themselves to defense. If you take the towers and put a unit on top of the exit hex, anyone that comes in will be forced into combat with you, and your unit will automatically defend from the tower, as long as they are adjacent to it and you control it. East of Sipwuzuk is a ruin where you can get a free Runemaster. Use him to help you defend Sipwuzuk. You may very well need it, as the All-devourer controls the surface and the Shadow Plane. All in all, there are 5 exits from the caves. If you can manage to plug them all, you'll be all set. It's getting them plugged that is the problem. If you have gotten Gold Dragons by now, those might do, although the enemy often uses Bone Dragons which will make things more difficult. If you don't have Gold Dragon, however, Rocs will do in a pinch, as long as you have several. Of course, the other option is just to slash and burn. If you don't feel like building up the towns so they can defend themselves, you can just Raze them all to make sure the All-Devourer can't have them. However, if you don't want to encur the wrath of the Spirit of Order for destroying all of these towns, just capture the cities, set it to migrate, and remove all your troops from the city. It will go Independent for sure, and the All-Devourer will leave these Indie cities alone. Once you're ready to attack Rumborg (your second quest), take the exit near the city of Quraux--it's in the southeast corner of the underground, near a large lava lake. Head southeast from the exit, past the city of Abbadon, and cross the bridge near the house of healing to find a watchtower. Once you take it, it will reveal the city of Rumborg to the east. You must take it and hold it for a short time for Syron reinforcements to arrive. The round after you take it, you'll get a couple of Syrons to join you to reinforce Rumborg-- nothing big, but it should help. Another round after that, you win. Scattered across the overmap are a large variety of single units. It's probably not worth running around to pick them all up, but they're there if you need them in a pinch. O'NERON 2: LAND OF SHADOWS CALL HERO: no heroes available RESURRECT HERO: research it You are given another hero at the end of the last scenario. This means you should have 3, and you can make good use of them here. You start in the south- west corner with nothing behind you. Head north up the road with the hero band and take the watchtower so you can see what's going on in the vicinity. You should see some gold, some clerics, a ruin, a mine, a Warlord stack and another watchtower. Get all of it. Consider rebuilding the 2 towns here. You can probably use the income early in the scenario. The only trick is to defend them. Interestingly enough, Vorsar often casts 'Animate Ruins' on those towns, rebuilding them for you with minimal defense. It is then just a matter of squishing some very easy zombies and then migrating the towns. Watch out for the random lightning storms--they can actually damage your troops. Once you've cleaned out this valley here, head north and take over the orc city. Hold there for a bit to build it up and defend it. If Vorsar sends troops to attack, so much the better--it's just feeding XP to your heroes. While holding this city, in fact, Vorsar sent his Frostling hero Borkar to attack me. I dominated him, and got myself another hero! Vorsar's main city is just north of that Orc city (Gargar Dor). It might be a tough nut to crack if you're not that strong right now, but if you have a decent cabal of heroes and maybe a Gold Dragon or two, it shouldn't be that bad at all. Northwest of Vorsar's city (Hav Bor), you can find a cave hidden behind some trees. Within is a magic vault and a ruin. And south of that is another city of Vorsars! He's all over the place, here. Note the dirt on the eastern wall; you can dig through here to get some mammoths, some gold, and an item (ring of haste). Heading further south leads to the maze of caverns that consists this underground, riddled with goblin cities and a few mines. On the other hand, the cave just north of Gargar Dor leads directly to Vorsar's Shadow Portal--something that would be a good thing to shut down ASAP. If you have the Gold Dragon spell, plunk one down right on top of the portal. If not, build yourself a sturdy stack and stick them there. This will cut Vorsar's forces in half and allow you to carve him up easily. Begin moving east, and sack all of his towns as you go. Near the town of Torome in the North-central part of the map, you can find a magic vault with the Dire Penguin spell. If you open it, a whole bunch of Dire Penguin units will pop up all over the map, so make sure all your holdings are secure before you do so. Once the overmap and the underground are secured, save the holdouts in the south, head into the Shadow World. Be warned; he may have a humongous army there waiting for you if you plugged it. You should find a Syron city you can recruit. Take the watchtower to the northwest and defend it against his forces. With a little luck (and some Shadow Walking enchantments), you should end up OK. Once you've driven him off, head south. --Note: at this point, you can go east from the portal and fight some of the All-Devourer's cities. Ironically enough, I was allied with him at this time, so I didn't want/need to. You should find a Syron city that you can recruit for free. East of this city (Paran), across a great field of anti-magic hexes, is a node. To its north is a mine, and to its south is Vorsar's other portal. Go through here and mop up his 2 cities in the south. Then you'll have the whole overmap and won't have to worry about him bothering you, especially if you plug this portal with a gold dragon also. He probably has one last city--it's east of the shadow portal in the shadow plane. If he's all beaten up, he most likely won't have much in the way of defenses. Crush him to end the scenario. O'NERON 3: SUNBIRTH MOUNTAINS CALL HERO: no heroes available RESURRECT HERO: research it Despite the rating, I found this scenario to be incredibly easy. Just unlock the wizards one at a time and kill them off. Easy as pie. You start out more or less naked, with just yourself and your heroes, no towns, no nothing. Grab the mine and move west to the watchtower. You'll see a whole bunch of ruins and some teleporters. Mab will pop up on the diplomacy screen and threaten you. Doesn't make any difference. Merlin will zap the basilisk and then tell you destroy all 18 nodes on the map to set him free. He tells you to use the teleporters, but don't bother. It's much easier to organize if you just meander through it by walking. That is, of course, unless you can't take the monsters to the northeast. There are several independent basilisks there, and you see some scripted city destruction. Here is where all the item-building and hero-levelling you ought to have done in the previous 2 scenarios will pay off. Defeat the basilisks (if you have trouble, hide in the tower and cast 'Regenerate Walls') and advance northeast. Here you will see that Mab has a few things of interest: most notably, one of the nodes you have to destroy. For now, take it and keep it until you have a decent resevoir of magic. Go on into the cave to see one of her cities. Once you have her city, take the node and the towers and anything else you can find. South of that city you just took (Zardorr), on the other side of the cave wall (you can go around to either side) is an outpost that might be a good investment to capture. It's shadow demons, but take what you can get. West of that is Mab's own city! how convenient. She ought to be quite weak at this point, so squash her with your heroes. At this point, other than independents, there are no active enemies; they are all locked away, requiring you to take their nodes to activate them. Take your time building up your towns, if you like. There is no rush at this stage of the game. North of Zardorr is a nomad city that will join you for free. Go ahead and take it, then make sure to migrate all of your other cities over to nomad. This ensures that if you defend them with Gold Dragons, the dragons will not desert you. West of Zordarr you will probably notice a shadow portal. All pieces of the shadow plane are independent here, so go ahead and go in. Hire up the city there and capture the node and relay. Migrate the city there to nomads and take the evil units that were there and go through the teleporter. Go north west and hire up the dwarf town for free. This will give you more flexibility if you want to migrate to a 'good' race. Continue exploring north until you activate Yaka. He is the fire mage, and his holdings are in the northwest. They can be accessed by following the western- most tunnel northward. His city is north of the cave, on the other side of the mountains. Just like Mab, if you catch him within a couple turns of his release, he's a joke to fight. Very Hard my foot. Next on the list is Serena--she is activated by stepping into the greenery in the tunnels, or on a Life Node. She is located in the North-central section of the map. She is a little trickier to find because her city is hidden in the forest. Find it by looking at the hexagon of her domain; it is almost due north of the elven city of Bjoren. Next on the list would be Tempest. He can be reached by heading to the first city you took from Mab and heading east through the tunnel with 2 towers in it. Go south into the frosty tunnel and use the teleport. Take the city there and go east to the tunnel exit. His city is right northeast of the exit. Your last 2 victims are more of a pain to get to. You must go east from that first city of Mab's (Zardorr) and take the next tunnel over from the teleporter in the snow. There are a bunch of webs blocking the way. You probably just woke up Nekron by doing so. Sack the town, and take the exit right to the southeast. His city is right to the east, on the surface. Meb can be reached by following the underground path east, past a death node, to a Halfling village, and then heading south. There's a human city there you can take. Then head east. You'll find an exit in the large hollow cave beyond, on the left side. Nimue is northeast of the exit, on the surface. Once you do this, you have 2 choices. Either kill Merlin, or raze all 18 elemental nodes. How do you kill Merlin, you say? Declare war on him and then summon monsters onto his little plateau on in the Shadow World. If you choose to destroy all the nodes, know that there is 1 of each node in each of the maps; shadow, surface, underground. Interestingly enough, all the nodes are also 'stacked' on each other. If you find one node, just cycle though the maps; you will notice they are in the same place on all 3 maps. MERLIN 1: THE HIVE CALL HERO: no heroes available RESURRECT HERO: not available (unless from the Spirit of Order) I must be doing something wrong, because this scenario was truly brutal in its relentless efforts to squish me, and it took me some 1100 turns to win. Not only that, but the map(s) are so big, and there are so many towns and resources and units to calculate, that it can slow your computer to a halt (I was running a P4 1.8 gHz and it would often take 2 minutes from 'end turn' press to 'next turn' messages.) You start with a couple of units, the most important of which are Merlin and your lone hero so far, Teryn. Teryn is not just an astral sprite, though she/he has that icon. Rather, she/he is a hero that -must- be preserved. The main thing here is to build up your forces and towns as much and as quickly as possible before the All-Devourer completely destroys your allies. If you want spells from them (especially Ke-nan), you had better do it within the first 20 turns or so, because odds are that he will go down fast. Then Symon and/or Meandor, Julia a while after that, and usually O'neron last, by about turn 75 (your mileage may vary). There -is- a way to stop this, or at least delay it, if you manage to destroy a stack of Shadow Demon Lords. See below for details. You have a couple of key goals here. 1: get your heroes built up strong, 2: research some key spells as quickly as possible, as your towns may not have much time, 3: get the spell Gold Dragon from the Spirit of Order AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, 4: see if you can kill a weak stack of demon Lords, the most optimal being when Meandor is attacked and a single one takes the mine north of the city that Meandor gives you. This has a chance of delaying the attack. Go into the shadow portal to get to the cave and then go southeast to get a free town from Julia. Grab your second hero, Paxanaria, right north of it. Meandor will also give you a town to the east side of the caves. Don't bother building many troops to defend them--you won't have time to build both the forces and fortifications necessary to save these towns. Instead, build up their research capabilities and production capabilties so you can get as much mana and gold throughput as possible so when you find a more defensible town, you can defend it (more on that leader). Start researching map damage spells: wildfire, poison vines, evil woods, sacred woods, whatever you can get. You will need them to defend your cities when it comes to it. Go onto the overmap and look at Julia's domain. In the northwest corner of her domain is a town (Estwyck) with a pioneer unit nearby. She will give this to you if you enter her domain. The easiest way to do this is to summon a creature into her domain, which you can do because you are allied with her. Then hire up the pioneer and disband the summoned creature. Then find someplace save to build a town and do so. Take Paxy, Teryn, and the 2 knights and head southeast towards the dwarf mole unit. Take the earth node and the mine. Then go east and sack the goblin town there. Migrate it (I like dwarves myself) and grab the watchtower, while you are at it. Note the ruins and gold to the south. That is your next stop. Leave the goblin city (Fug) and go to the ruin. On day 10, the solid organic waste hits the air circulation device. Ke-nan comes under attack and you are given a succubus and 3 executioner units to help him. That's a joke. You don't stand a chance against several stacks of shadow demon Lords, with or without Ke-nan. Ignore him and use this unit to explore. Go west a bit and attack the ruin there. The enemy will probably surrender, and you'll get the Sacrificial Dagger. Send this to Paxy. Now would be a fabulous time to get Fire Halo from Ke-nan, before he goes under. Hopefully you have a good spell or 2 to give him; might help him hold out a little longer. Meanwhile, get the succubus west and a little north to grab a magic relay for the time being. Then go north. On turn 13, Symon comes under attack. Julia gives you a message about a ruin that she found and tell you to find this sword to unlock the demons' force field. While that would be nice to do soon, it is not quite within the realm of possiblity at this moment. O'neron gives you some troops to help Symon. Get them killed ASAP and/or disband them, because they are -expensive-. They will suck up your income like no tomorrow. Keep the Astral Sprite so you can grab gold/mana/resource map items, though. Send it west to get these things, littered as they are through the kingdom of Julia. From the underground ruin where Paxy is, head southwest. You'll find an orc city to sack and get some more income/research. It may be too difficult to take, in which case you ought to at least grab the mine and the magic item behind it. Then go south to a teleporter. North of the magic relay that the succubus should have taken, you'll find 2 important things. The first is a dungeon. The second is a cave. In the cave is a Tigran city, possibly the best-defensible city in the game (short of somehow getting the spell 'raise terrain'. Why so defensible? you can only get at it from 1 direction, and you can easily fill up that winding corridor with Sacred Woods, Poison Plants, etc. The AI generally doesn't move its units into these areas, and if trapped there, it will just stand there until the spell effect goes away after 3 turns, to which you just recast it until they die or leave. An expensive solution, but you have little choice with so few resources. Note that the enemy can come in via the cave entrance -or- by taking one of his teleporters to the 'evil pit' at the south end of the cave. Make sure to take the dungeon before heading into this cave. You will free some draconian units that will be very useful in the taking and defending of the Tigran city. Note; if you don't want all Tigrans, make sure to migrate this city to the race of your choice, as it is only a matter of time before your other cities are taken and/or destroyed. On day 15, in this runthrough, Ke-nan was defeated. Don't be surprised if the same happens for you. He lasted quite a bit longer in one of my 3 other run- throughs (up to about 60 or so) but for the most part, he usually dies between 15 and 20. Symon was destroyed on turn 16, to give you an idea of the severity of your plight. Paxy should be at the teleporter. Use it, and consider razing the one on the other side. This will be a 1-way trip. You find yourself in a complex of goblin caves. Head east, hire up the goblin bombers, and grab the magic item nearby. Then, head east again with your bombers. Turn 18, Julia informed me of the whereabouts of this magic sword that will open up the demons' force field. It's still too far away for you to get, especially with the demons coming out of the bone pit to the north of Merlin's city. Right around now you should have taken the Tigran city in the pit. Ignore the resources, and take the city, then get the resources to build something in the city. Now start building defensive works like mad. Paxy should be heading east. Sack the goblin city with your unit and your bombers (assuming they have not deserted) and then continue east after getting the relay and the mine. Right about now you should realize that you are right near your eastern city (it should still stand right now). Get the watchtower and get to town, then go north. You have to get out of that cave and then go west towards the Tigran city in the cave. This may be difficult if Meandor is already under attack at this point. If he's fallen, you're in for even more difficulty. Now, here is an interesting bit of info. North of the eastern city that Moander gave you (Hujador) is a mine which a demon Lord probably took. -If- you can defeat that Lord, you get a message about the enemy refusing to press the attack. If this is true, then it could make Hujador a defensible option. If you can stick a good stack on top of the cave exit and another good stack on the watchtower, you might be able to get away with it. For me, however, this did not work out. The demons attacked from the west (which is somehwhat less likely to happen if you destroy the portal you came through) and drove me out. What it -may- mean, is that the shadow demons halt their attacks on your allies with their Lord stacks. I noticed a reduction of attacks on my allies after this happened. I need more data to find out, however. From this base in the south, send your heroes out on short forays to kill small groups of demons and gain experience levels. Try to keep a power node or two-- that usually brings them out. Enchant them as much as possible and stay -out- of the enemy domain. He will dispel you. The only good reason for going into his domain at this point is to destroy his magic relays to lessen his domain. Until you have your heroes stacked up with magic items (which will take a long time because you haven't got much resource, so researching spells and building improvements take -forever-), they are very vulnerable. Once your heroes are all armed and armored, start taking over the south half of the map, rebuilding as you go. When you find a cave, plug it with a gold dragon until you are ready to proceed underground. Once you control all of Ke-nan's and Meandor's territories, find the cave on the east end of the map, north of the city of Kammort. This will be your main point of attack, and is coincidentally right near the city Meandor gave you at the beginning of the scenario. If, for some reason, the resistance is too fierce, there is another way in. North of Ke-nan's territory, across the sea is a marsh filled with poisonous vapors. Contained therein is a tower and a water node. To the east is another cave, a cave which leads to the city of Fug, and just west of that the city of Holluindom, the very city that Julia gave you at the beginning of the scenario. However, this entrance is harder to get to because you have to cross water to get to it. If you didn't get water-walking from Symon at the beginning of the scenario, you might be out of luck. Now you should start taking over the southern part of the cave complex. Whenever you find a smoking gray pit filled with bones and flames, know that you have found a teleporter exit point from which shadow demons will issue. Your best bet here is to plug the room exits with Gold Dragons. In some cases, this may require 2 or even 3 Gold Dragons, but it is worth it, to cut off the supply of gold and mana to the All-Devourer. These teleporters are unfortunately located in the shadow world, right next to the All-devourer's main cities, so actually destroying them will be a task for much later. Your job is to render them useless to him, and by parking gold dragons at the exits (or, if you can discern it, the actual teleporter arrival hexes themselves), he can't get by. At the west end of the cave complex, move north into Julia's territory (or what used to be Julia's territory, depending on the situation). Once on the surface, you should make your way south to a flaming bone pit that is southeast of the city of Leiwe. Pass through it and south to find the sword that Julia was talking about. And boy, is it a sword. If it had lifestealing, it would be perfect. But, nothing's perfect. So, use it if you like, or stow it, like I did. If O'neron still lives, he will give you a city near the shadow portal that is the next step. If not, just go northeast around the mountains until you find a large anti-magic zone. That's where the portal is. Get there and plug it with a Gold Dragon. Then, summon another one and go in with it and your heroes. You will immediately find some Syrons. Build a city with their pioneer and hold there for a turn. On the next turn, send your hero stack northeast and destroy the relay there. Then, return. On the next turn, send the stack southwest and destroy another relay. Then, return. Now, start summoning a Gold Dragon. When you are ready to summon, send the hero stack northeast to the magic relay, and then southeast to a goblin city. It should be neutral and undefended. Take it and pop the dragon on there. Now start building and fortifying the heck out of that town, in particular getting a Wizard Tower and a teleport portal. You want to make this the forward position on your war into the shadow world. The Syron outpost is fine, but it will take quite some time to even be able to build anything besides a wall. Be advised that it won't take any time at all before the All-Devourer will start sending everything he has against you. His first action, every time, will be to dispel any enchantments on your heroes, and he will city plague, forge blast, or pestilence a town every turn. You are on the outer rim of his 'wheel' and his cities are in the center. If you hope to defeat any of them, you've got to outmaneuver his dozens of stacks of Lords and defend your cities to stalemates with your Gold Dragons. Once you have a Wizard Tower you can start gating in whatever the heck you like, whenever you want, but until then you have to make do with what you have (and it will be a while because he will Forge Blast your towns almost every turn). All along the outer rim of this 'wheel' are various cities of the various races. What you want to do is keep summoning Gold Dragons and taking all of these cities around the rim. The enemy can't possible attack, forge blast, and plague all of them at once, so you will eventually get a wizard tower. When you do, you can start pumping out as many units as you can from all of your cities and just overwhelm him with numbers. Or, you could send in your hero stack as a surgical strike and find and raze all of his mines. Or, you could just summon as many Gold Dragons as you can handle and attack head-on.