Flying to the Rescue
M3: Summoning the Dragons
- Map Size: Small
- Level Cap: none
- Difficulty Index: 3/5
- Last Updated: November 15, 2007, Patch v3.0
In this mission, Zehir teams up with yet another Hammers of Fate main hero, Wulfstan. To say they'll team up isn't very accurate. For the most part Zehir goes solo on the surface, and Wulfstan has to remain underground to swat an endless stream of flies from left and right. These flies always flee so you can't even gain experience from them! Now where is the Shackle of Last Man when you most need it?
Wulfstan starts with Expert Light magic and every Light magic on the spell book. He also has a standard might build that makes him a decent army commander. Yet you can still visit a Memory Mentor to shuffle his skills. No matter what you decide to do, keep Logistics for now, because you need it to catch up enemy heroes from both sides.
Have fun catching flies with chopsticks, Wulfstan!
If you have not, it will be a really good idea to give Zehir Arcane Omniscience now, unless you already learned the most useful high-level spells such as Summon Phoenix, Vampirism, Puppet Master, Frenzy, Word of Light, Resurrection, etc. (It is very unlikely that your Zehir has learned all of these without Arcane Omniscience.) There are many tough neutral creatures on the surface, but Zehir should be able to score perfect victories with a tiny army and a huge spell repertoire.
If you have Mentoring (which is a requirement for the ultimate), every new Dwarf hero you hire will enjoy a roller coaster ride of levels to around 17-18. You can give them Enlightenment + Scholar and the appropriate Expert Magic school(s), so you can transfer spells from Zehir to Wulfstan. Note that you can only pass down spells that are actually learned from a mage guild or vault. The spells that only becomes available through Arcane Omniscience are not transferable.
Pick the Crystal silo as the starting bonus. Mercury is only for Zehir's Call to Arms mission special: 20 Murcury + 6000 EXP for 5 Rakshasa Kshatra. This is a rather expensive and unnecessary deal, and you might not want to waste your EXP points like this. While there are already lots of Mercury production, you will be short of Ore and Crystals in this mission, especially Ore. Don't waste Ores on upgrade buildings yet, but build up the basic structures and the walls first, to start accumulating available creatures. Also, if you are like me who tried to give Wulfstan Town Portal from lv-5 mage guild - save the Ore because Town Portal spells are disabled for all Dwarven heroes in this mission. They can't even learn it.
You start out with a Dwarf town (A). Now if you chose to let Zehir to keep the Tear of Asha back in mission 2, he starts the scenario with the Tear. There will be yet another Tear of Asha to be dug up soon, so don't hesitate and install this one in town (A) to give you a head start. To the north you can take another town (B), which remains completely defenseless. Take it as soon as you can, and don't forget to flag the nearby creature buildings of town (B). If you let Duncan keep the Tear back in mission 2, you will have only the new Tear, and you have a choice of where to install the new Tear - more on this later.
You are against the Yellow dwarfs based in town (C). There is no way to wipe them out for now, and they can harass you through two 1-way portals (a') or (b'). Earlier in the mission whatever they send here will either (10%) die or (90%) flee, but later on the heroes will learn Town Portal. Watching them coming and going is quite amusing, but you can't even touch them unless you park Wulfstan within 1-day travel distance of one of the portals (I suggest (b'), since (a') is too far away from town (A)). Productions from both (A) and (B) will keep your defense sound. Just make sure Wulfstan is not too far away when multiple yellow heroes approach from two directions.
First, flag everything underground with both Zehir and Wulfstan. The Memory Mentor is just to the west (1). Pick up the Boots of Open Road (2) and put it on Zehir. The location of Tear of Asha is marked with a red (X), and you can see its exact location here (fixed spot, v3.0). If you already have the Grail structure in town (A), give the new Tear to Zehir. You can pick up the Shield of Dwarven King at (K1). There is an artifact merchant at (3); if you have the Grail structure (5000G/turn), you may as well go broke on useful artifacts.
After flagging everything underground you should start exploring the surface through the stairway at (c). Wulfstan and all dwarf heroes have to stay, says the game, so you can only let Zehir go. Before Zehir sets out, give him several dozens of cheap Fortress units (tier-1 is fine). Some battles up there are pretty tough and what Zehir was given initially might not be enough to stay alive. By the way, I find it effective to start a battle with Mass Slow (or Mass Confusion against shooters), and follow with the Phoenix or Vampirism on your HP pool stack. You then have all the sweet time to revive dead creatures.
It is a great white world up there, with maybe some blizzard going as well! Since Zehir is all alone, you can be pretty selective on targets and do not waste movement points picking up things you don't need. Generally you want to pick up all the Ores and Crystals, break through all the treasure chambers (for more Ores and Crystals), and flag all Yellow creature buildings. It is going to take quite a while.
Go west and then north. When you reach (D) the game asks you whether to sacrifice 15000 EXP for Zehir's town to be moved here. That's a big YES - you can always use another Town Hall plus the creatures to keep Zehir alive. You can also install another Tear of Asha (or maybe it is your only Tear) in Zehir's town. You might think you are rich enough, and you don't really need to waste a second Tear on an easy mission. Your Fortress army is growing from gigantic to humongous so there is no need to develop a big Academy army as well. Yes, you are right! However, even if you "waste" the Tear on Zehir's town in mission 3, the Grail building will show up in mission 4! So get the Skyship!
Yes, the ship carries over as well! Too bad you probably won't even need it there, either.
Unfortunately you cannot hire any new hero from town (D), so Zehir is still alone. From here you have different routes to choose from. Your eventual goal is to visit the Red Keymaster Tent (red R), while all of the other destinations are purely optional. The two-way portals (d-d, e-e) are usually similar to tunnels of the mountain so there is no fancy connections. Here comes list of what to do:
- There is a much needed Ore Pit at (4). You may as well flag the Sawmill and Gem Mine.
- A Hill Fort (5) is useful to upgrade and merge units.
- Get the Armor and Helm of the Dwarven King set (K2), (K3) and the Crown of Sar-Issus (S). This should complete your Dwarven King set and Sar-Issus set! Also grab the Lion's cape (L).
- There is a Dragon Eye Ring (D1) guarded by Titans, and somehow I got the 4th Dragon Teeth Necklace in 3 missions!
- A one-way portal at (f) appears to be blocked. This is not for you - but for the Yellow's cravens go through. Why can't I just split a Dwarf stack to block it? :)
If you attempt to venture underground through (g), you can see the much hated Yellow town but unfortunately your route is completely blocked by the unpronounceable Dwarf hero. (6). The game suggests you NOT to attack him (keeping him alive is actually a primary objective) but you can still attack him if you insist. Not sure what happens next, though. Maybe you can find out and tell us!
By the way, you can find a Pendent of Mastery underground at (7). There used to be a bug about it to give you unlimited resources from Artificer's resource discount. Will it work here? You are too rich to cheat here! :)
Endless Rune and Puppet Master - it is a test for a Dwarf's endurance! I started this battle in the morning and finished it at night - because I had to leave the machine on and went to work.
After visiting the Red Keymaster tent you are now ready for the boss fight. If you unlock the Red Gate (red G), Rolf (Wulfstan's bad brother) spawns with a good army of about 10 weeks of town productions. Rolf won't chase you around - he'll keep waiting. Theoretically you can run over Rolf with the biggest army even seen on HoMM5 (thanks to Asha), but you can certainly slap him with a smaller force.
But Rolf is no pushover this time. His stacks use Rune magics every turn, and apparently he has the Empathy feat so every time a high morale triggers, Rolf is moved up in action. So what is bad about Rolf's action? He has an entire spell book of Dark magic, and he will be happy to cast Puppet Master on your best stack. When Puppet Master hits (Rolf wears Sandro's Cloak, so he can even PM your Titans), Rolf's stacks will simply rune-charge up and tear your stack in pieces without being retaliated. Even if the Fortress creatures are not really effective at dealing damage, being hit from all directions every turn is not going to look good at all.
On the other hand, your Zehir has his own advantages. You have a lot more spells to choose from (you did get Arcane Omniscience, right?), good artifacts (Sar-Issus and Dwarven King) to equip, an ultra-long mana bar, various morale and luck boosts to visit before the fight, and as a last resort you have the load game button. Rolf is not Arantir, so his mana will run dry and there will be no more Puppet Master. You can also accelerate Rolf's embarrassment by going to the Memory Mentor and get the Suppress Dark feat from Dark magic (twice mana consumption).
All you need is a large stack of something that takes a long time to kill (so Rolf's mana runs out first), and then you can slowly drain back lost numbers through the ever-useful Vampirism. I used 81 Flame Lords (tier 6 creatures from Dwarf town, I should have used Thunder Thane to hit multiple stacks effectively) which were just enough to win, after failing 4 times. The difference on my 5th try was that I finally deployed other creatures (even 1-unit stacks are fine) so Rolf's creatures will use their turn on the decoys. I also setup a Blade Barrier in front of my Flame Lords to keep the huge hitters away. On the luck side, my Magic Mirror worked frequently so the several Puppet Masters were reflected to poor elementals.
No matter what creature you use, protect your main stack with decoys (and the elementals that come afterwards) to block the contact of powerful large creatures such as the Godzillas and Thunder Thane. Blade Barrier is indeed quite useful for this purpose. Phoenix isn't making a huge difference anymore, but with time it can scratch down Rolf's army with Vampirism (plus they can help you block Rolf's stacks, too). Avoid being hit by more than 3 stacks in any given turn. After Rolf runs out mana it is your Puppet Master, Frenzy and Blind time!
Surviving Rolf's Puppet Master spam is the key to victory. Here comes a trick - when I put Frenzy / Puppet Master on Rolf's stack, I was surprised to see Rolf dispel it with Vampirism. You can do this on your main stack to dispel Rolf's Puppet Master as well! Apparently, Vampirism cannot co-exist with Frenzy or Puppet Master, and the latter will overwrite the earlier, if it has a higher or equal level. (Frenzy cannot overwrite Vampirism, for example.) You can also distract Rolf by casting these spells on his own creatures, and Rolf sometimes will not Puppet Master your main stack, and cast Vampirism on his own stack to dispel yours. You are a wizard, so you are bound to win a magic duel in the long run!
Or, you can always wait and run over Rolf with a crazy army.
Preparing for Wulfstan's Final Battle
Wulfstan is going to fight in the final mission as well. It won't be an easy battle - again your opponent spams Puppet Master like he has nothing else to cast! Before Zehir goes into the portal and end the mission, here are a few things to do.
First, check your artifacts. The Dwarven King set will look good on Wulfstan, but then Zehir won't be able to access it. You may as well give all of them to Zehir since Wulfstan can function well without it. Make sure you give the Lion's Crown to Zehir, but Wulfstan can keep Lion's Cape to reach the effective morale cap of +5. Give the Runic set artifact to Wulfstan, and if you have any extra Dragon's set also give to Wulfstan. Then, move ALL carry-over artifacts in Wulfstan's (idle) inventory to Zehir's so the game won't make a stupid decision to equip the Enlightenment set in the final battle!
You should also adjust Wulfstan's skills. It is likely that the enemy heroes have fled so often that your Wulfstan remains at level 25 even at the end of the mission. Here comes my skill recommendation (also shown in the picture above):
- Expert Runelore: 3 standard feats
- Expert Attack: Tactics, Offensive Formation, Retribution
- Expert Light Magic: Master of Wrath
- Expert Dark Magic: Master of Mind
- Expert Luck: Magic Resistance, Dwarven Luck
- Basic Leadership: Runic Attunement
With Lion's Cape you still have +5 morale. If for some reason you are level 26, get another level in Leadership just to be sure. We will discuss the tactical details in the C3M4 walkthrough section.