Flying to the Rescue
M4: A Flamboyant Exit
- Map Size: Large
- Level Cap: none
- Difficulty Index: 5/5
- Last Updated: November 16, 2007, Patch v3.0
Here we come, Griffin Empire! (or Unicorn Empire? I am confused by the ending.) All your hard works will be paid off. The finale of finale is divided into four similar acts, each with its own mini-boss battle happening at town (A), (B), (C), (D). Then, Zehir take on the final boss at town (E)!
Your Zehir's build should be very complete by now, and he will be given free, huge stacks after free, huge stacks to run over everything. You should be able to keep a perfect victory record throughout the mission - that's how easy it is. However, all of the mini-boss fights in each act, which are performed by other heroes you have controlled over the campaign (or not), are on the opposite end of the spectrum. Some of them are ridiculously difficult on heroic.
I don't like the current game design that you are not given any chance to adjust the other heroes' skills, creatures, even artifacts in this mission. The game actually equips your artifacts randomly! It is quite possible that you just can't win one or more mini-boss battles, because you were forced to use a mediocre default setup against a much tougher opponent. I also don't like the fact that Vampirism actually cures Puppet Master and Frenzy. This makes the mini-bosses (three out of four spams Puppet Master and Vampirism) invincible against Dark Magic. Just imagine Rolf with infinite mana and yourself with an army of 2/3 his size - that's what you'll see!
There are ways around the mini-boss fights, though, so don't go all the way back to C2M4 to rebuild every hero. I'll mention a couple of alternative ways that probably were the back doors purposely left open by the game developers. It is your call whether or not to take advantage them.
Here comes a few general tips for Zehir. First, don't waste movement points. The mini-bosses seems to grow a little stronger each week, so the more time you waste, the more trouble your other heroes will have. Zehir's part will be very easy after winning all four mini-boss battles. Leave all resources on the ground. You can call the FBI, er... a secondary hero to do all the clean-up work. Skip all of the unnecessary fights because you can come back for them later if you really wish.
Skip sidequests that are not conveniently located nearby. You may pick up the neutral stacks recommended in the walkthrough as a backup plan. There are various free or mercenary stacks ready to join, but you don't really have room for them all. No problem, that's what mule heroes are for!
p.s. The current game (ver 3.0) contains a potential bug (or intended feature) in the script. On higher difficulties it is very normal to lose with Kujin, and naturally players will then use Gotai to win the fight. However, the script won't function normally afterwards. Don't let Kujin die! If your Kujin dies and Gotai starts roaming around the map as Blue, the bug has happened.
Choose the Air Elemental bonus. The Phoenixes are more powerful, but you will end up discarding them. The Air Elementals, however, will be greeted by another 3 stacks and you will end up with a level-3 Hurricane. They are fast and they don't get retaliated - perfect! The Call to Arms mission special is 20 Gems + 24000 EXP for 4 Storm Giants on heroic (again, on lower difficulties you get more units). If you have too much Gems and won't lose a level, why not.
Let's jump right on to Act One!
Zehir enters the scene at (1), and a peaceful countryside is all he sees. No worry, you are in the right mission and there will be hundreds of thousands of demons. Your goal in this act is to capture three Gold Mines at (2), accessible through the stairways (a). Since two of the gold mines are locked away behind the Red & Blue Gates (G), you have to visit the Red & Blue Keymaster Tents (K) first.
The sidequest of this act is to capture two Dwarf Warrens (W), to receive the reward of a free level. Different from a Sylanna Ancient, though, the game actually makes up your difference to the next level, so try to complete the side quest when you still have a long way to go to the next level. Do not buy the Storm Giant to lower your EXP yet, though. You need the Gems!
There are a few free stacks to be picked up, marked with yellow, small letters. On higher difficulties you actually receive more, so definitely pay a visit to them:- Battle Mages (m) in front of the Memory Mentor (there will be a lot more Mentors on the map.)
- Air Elementals (a) to the north of the stairway. I didn't mark the stairs because the game won't let Zehir access it. They are here just for decorative purpose.
There is a Stable (S) at the center to speed up your journey. Visit the Tavern at (3) and hire two new heroes. Try to hire the Haven heroes and mentor them to give them Expert Logistics. Make one of them to back track and pick up free resources left on the ground, and the other follow Zehir closely to carry future overflow stacks.
After visiting both Keymaster Tents, cross the bridge south and you will see a Trading Post. You don't really need it now, if you are already using a hero to pick up various resources. Ignore the one-way portal (P1) and keep going south to pick up a Dragon artifact (helm, D1). Descend through the stairway (a) to enter the Gold Mine area (2).
Flag all of the Gold Mines by unlocking the Blue and Red gates. In the meantime, use your secondary heroes to pick up as much Ore, Wood and Gem as possible - you'll need them badly. Save your game just before flagging the 3rd Gold Mine, because the first mini-boss fight is coming!
Mini-Boss Fight (Wulfstan)
As soon as you flag the last Gold Mine, Wulfstan spawns underground with a good army, and charges directly to Town (A). The enemy hero has a lot of shooters! Definitely start the battle with Mass Confusion. If you don't have it, cast Mass Deflect Missle. If you still don't have it, oh-oh. Maybe it will be faster to go back to your last save file in C3M3?
Similar to all other tough bosses you have seen and will see, the Demon Lord spams Puppet Master to a degree you want to smash your monitor. The Seducers can also Puppet Master your stack, which further elevates your frustration level. When under PM your stack will make liberal use of your Rune resource as well. Wulfstan has very limited mana, so better put them to good use! You will be busy Cleansing the ultra annoying Puppet Master (or cast Vampirism to replace them if he learned it from Zehir), or cast Mass Haste / Mass Righteous Might. (The mini-boss loves to give you Mass Slow as well.) You can actually cleanse Slow with Rune to save turns for Wulfstan.
There are two keys to Wulfstan victory. First, block the castle entrance with your Thunder Thanes. The enemies will gate in a lot of stacks inside the castle, but that actually works to your advantage. The lightning attack of Thunder Thanes can pass down to all adjacent stacks (of one direction), so you can deal heavy damage inside a very crowded castle - so much damage that you will start laughing!
Second, make liberal use of the Runes, especially the Rune of Resurrection to resurrect 40% of fallen units (1 Ore + 1 Gem, the second time 3 Ore + 3 Gem, and then Wulfstan can refersh it) on the Thanes and any other stack that takes heavy casaulty. You have picked up a lot of Ores and Gems, so please make good use of them here. After Wulfstan's mana runs dry just use him to Refresh Runes on your key stacks. The battle bacame very easy from here.
This is actually the easiest mini-boss fight among all. After the fight, Wulfstan will be out of your control (as the Blue player), so you will not have any access to his creatures and artifacts. Hopefully you are not leaving any pieces of a great set on Wulfstan at the end of mission 3, or it is too late!
There is also a possibility that when Wulfstan has, say two weapon artifacts, the game will randomly equip one of them, which might not be the one you like. You actually have a chance to fix this. When Wulfstan just shows up, for a few seconds he is actually an Orange player under your control. Now quickly left click on a nearby ground ten times per second (just to show you tried) as if you are ordering Wulfstan to go elsewhere - he will start charging and stop to consider your order! Now you can adjust your artifacts. The same trick applies to all subsequent heroes as well.
When you gain control of Wulfstan, you can actually move him up the stairs to come to the surface! He can join Zehir's crusade but he can never go back down again (because the game assumes he is Zehir). The Inferno town (A) will stay forever. Doh. If you absolutely can't win, just park Wulfstan or the subsequent heroes outside the town gate.
Is your mission still winnable if you missed one or more of the Inferno towns underground? Actually, yes. The only town that must go down is the final boss's town (E). All of the other fights are in fact optional although the script writers tried to make it mandatory - or did they purposely leave a hole for you? We will find out more clues soon.
No matter town (A) goes down or not, Zehir is done in the Act One. Pass the one-way portal (P1) to proceed. Although it seems that you will not come back to this area, later in the mission you can learn and cast the Instant Travel spell that allows you to go back to a previous section.
Zehir now travels to the SW quarter of the map (P1'), with an eventual goal to enter the one-way portal at (P2). This is a very straight-forward act.
Don't miss out a very important free stack, tier-6 Rakshasa Kshar (r). There are also two groups of Air Elementals (a). Similar to all other missions, on higher difficulties you actually receive more untis as the stack sizes are larger. There is a useless Tome of Summoning magic (Ts) - just in case you don't have Arcane Omniscience.
The side quest of this act is to defeat a Demon Leader (4), who actually moves around but won't go very far. Deleb is much weaker than the mini-bosses or Rolf, though. After defeating her you can get the useful artifact Boots of the Swift Journey. Save your game just before entering the one-way portal (P2). The second boss fight is taking place at the gate of town (B)!
Mini-Boss Fight (Freyda)
Both Freyda and Duncan show up, but only Freyda fights. (Duncan has no army at all.) This one probably breaks the difficulty meter on heroic - I failed so many times that I finally gave up! Well not really. There are two backup plans. Plan A: Go all the way back to mission 2 to rebuild Freyda, replay mission 3 and 4 up to this point, to possible barely make it with a Sorcery build. (Please see the end of C3M2 walkthrough).
The difficulty of this battle comes from the power of the Inferno army. The enemy hero again spams Puppet Master as if he has inifinite mana (he actually does, relative to you). You will be lucky if you can cleanse the Puppet Master before your PM-ed stack wipes out another of yours. Vampirism won't help - because the opponent will instantly overwrite it with yeah, another Puppet Master. He will also overwrite your own Frenzy/Puppet Master with Vampirism, although you might get lucky to see some action. (For example, those Frenzied 40+ Archdevils kills 120+ Succubus Mistresses with a single blow).
There is no way to stop the advance of the hard-hitting Inferno army. They are simply superior to Freyda's. Your best shot is to cast any Light Magic (usually Cleansing, or some mass spells) and gamble on the free Divine Vengeance. What is your chance that it actually hits a tough stack that has bloody hands, not a stack that has not attacked you, or a 1-HP-1-unit stack leftover by Last Man Standing? You have to be very lucky to win! By the way, get rid of the Ballista with your shooters. It will fail you at the last moment.
You are burning your mana, hoping to wipe out the opponent first. It will probably go down to this - both you and the opponent have just one stack left. You are barely alive with Resurrections (if you don't have it, try plan B), and your opponent is quickly dying off from your Resurrection-Vengeances. If you are lucky, you cast another Resurrection, and your opponent dies from Divine Vengeance. Otherwise, your opponent's creature (or Ballista, even the Archer Towers) act first to wipe out your little last stack! I "almost won" a couple of times like this. ;)
If you absolutely can't win, and don't like Plan A, here comes Plan B. Similar to what you can do to Wulfstan, stop Freyda on her way in, by clicking the nearby ground during the few seconds that you have control of her. Camp her outside town (B).
By the way, It will be a really good idea to stop Freyda anyways to double-check her artifacts. I hope you didn't leave any good artifact on Duncan because they are permanently lost!
All right, somehow you past the Freyda fight, so Zehir is now in the SE quarter of the map at (P2'). Before you proceed, you might want to complete an interesting sidequest about babies tied up in dungeon... er, to free a group of friendly Shadow Matriarchs (100 in my game) imprisoned at (5) underground. This area is accessible through the stairway (b). If you want to do it, do it at the beginning of the this Act as it will save you turns. I actually don't recommend doing this sidequest, because they are not really very helpful.
Your primary goal of this act is to defeat two Demon armies at (6) and (7), and pass the one-way portal at (P3). Both Demon armies are very weak, again.
There are two free stacks, the Magnetic Golems (m) and Obsidian Gargoyles (g). Both are pretty crappy and you don't really have any use of them. Skip them if you want.
On the busy street of (8) you can hire two groups of mercenaries, Thunder Thanes and Marksmen from Seer Huts. They are not cheap at all, and you have no use of them with Zehir. However, if your Wulfstan is still waiting outside town (A), you can buy the 35 Thunder Thanes and later let Wulfstan summon them. Well it is just my theory, though. However, if you go with "Plan B Plus" (I'll cover it soon) you don't really need to go through these troubles.
p.s. Visiting each of the Seer Hut actually triggers the deal as a sidequest, but there is no reward for completing them (you receive the troops that you paid for).
There is also an artifact merchant here. This is your only merchant on the map, so you may as well take a look to see if there is anything better than what you currently have. Just west of the Seer Huts you can pick up the second Tome - of Light Magic (TL).
Interestingly, now you actually have an oppurtunity to directly challenge the final boss, Biara in town (E). However, Biara's army is HUGE - more than anything you have seen before. There is no way you can beat her now.
Save your game just before approaching the second demon army at (7). As soon as the fight is over, the third boss fight starts!
Mini-Boss Fight (Kujin)
Wow. Did they actually test this? Here you will see how powerless a Might army is against Expert Dark magic users. You might have seen it back in the Stronghold campaign already - but with those 6 Chieftain stacks you probably didn't really feel anything. Have you visited the Memory Mentor in C2M4 to get Shatter Dark? (Please refer to the walkthrough of C2M4.)
You will see one after one of your stacks Frenzied. I had no idea that Kujin would be the fighter here, so I didn't have Shatter Dark on her. I didn't even have Magic Resistance! I kept the Triple Flaming Ballista and... there is NO Ballista!! (There is a Ballista for all others, who don't even have a Warmachine skill.) I don't even know how to win it with my build as the game intended, and I don't want to replay all the way from C2M5 just for this... I had to stop Kujin on her way to suicide. Plan B time!
Here comes the interesting part. Maybe the game developer actually knows that you absolutely can't win on heroic unless you have prepared a good Kujin build for it, so you are generously given Gotai... with a whooping 900 Cyclops! This is THE army we have in Plan B Plus! Now you actually have many interesting choices here. I will mention the two extremes:
Plan B normal: Give 900 Cyclops to Kujin. Split the Chieftains into four stacks, and whip the Cyclops to completely demolish everything. Easy win. You can also use Gotai to fight. In my game I actually let Gotai fight and everything worked out well. However, you can't let Kujin die, then use Gotai to win. If Kujin dies the game bugs out and you won't receive the reinforcement later. Again, please keep Kujin alive!
Plan B Plus: Let Gotai keep the Cyclops, actually give Kujin's Chieftains to Gotai as well. Send Gotai out from the stairways (c), and hey, who is standing on top of the hill? Now what are you waiting for? Pass these creatures to Zehir, and beat the * out of Biara! Slap a Vampirism on the Cyclops, and whip whip whip! You should definitely try it for pure enjoyment. Besides, you receive a higher Hall of Fame score... :)
"Here, take half of my boys!" and Zehir's eyes drop out.
p.s. Strangely, Biara does not overwrite our Cyclop's Vampirism with Puppet Master although she certainly can. If you fight Biara with a smaller army she'll always cast PM as if she only knows one spell. It seems that the AI actually "gives up" when it is completely dominated.
For the walkthrough purpose let's pick the lame Plan B normal and see what happens next. March Zehir to the one-way portal (P3) and proceed!
p.s. Many interesting things will happen if you let Zehir carry those 900 Cyclops and don't fight Biara yet. Most of the neutral stacks will wet their pants, and you actually have a lot of them joining for free! With mule heroes carrying the overflow stacks you can snow ball a truck load of free troops behind you. Deposit them (or fractions of those Cyclops) into your Academy town (available soon) and you can let Freyda or whoever summon them to good use (if the spell works)! But why do you still care about Freyda if you can directly win the mission with a sea of Cyclops? Anyways, the game has broken at this point and you can break it even further. Having fun is the most important thing. :)
You are now at (P3'), the NW quarter. As soon as you travel up to (F), you can summon Zehir's town for 35000 EXP. The sky town is almost fully loaded, and if you have installed the Tear of Asha back in mission 3, the Skyship is still there! While your town is happily producing an army for you, Zehir does not need them.
Explore the area a bit if you like. There is the third and last Tome - of Dark Magic (TD) that you probably still have no use of. There is a map maker at (C), and a Hill Fort at (H). The sidequest of the Act is to learn the Instant Travel spell at the lv-4 spell shrine at (9) underground. With this spell you can actually return to previous quarters.
p.s. According to the game script, Biara will have two major army expansion, one in the beginning of Month 4 and the other Month 5. So as long as you fight her before Month 4, you should be fine.
Your main objective of Act Four is to defeat the Yellow Dark Elves, base in town (G) underground. You will be surprised that after all these weeks of free development, they are actually even weaker than the Soulscar clan you fought back in mission 1! The enemy hero loves Divine Vengeance, so don't shoot too much - let your Phoenix do the dirty work. Save the game just before you eliminate the Yellow (their last hero) for the fourth and last mini-boss fight!
Mini-Boss Fight (Ylaya)
On heroic this fight can be totally impossible or quite easy, depending on what the AI does. If the AI choose to camp and throw an Armagaddon to demolish your Catapult, reload the game because you have no chance at all. If the AI rushes its Devil out followed by everything else, you can win easily.
You can encourage AI to make the bad choice by slapping a Confusion on the 1120 Succubus Mistresses with your Shadow Matriarchs right after the combat starts. The AI might think its ranged power is now inferior to yours, and they have a better chance by rushing out - not really!
Use the two Hydra stacks as shields against the Devils and whatever comes to the gate. Position them 2 tiles before the gate, so the troops that comes out are also subject to your other stacks' spears/knives. Your Hydras will die soon but not without taking a lot of enemies with them. Your Black Dragons and especially the Tier-4 riders are the main melee force. Your assassins should poison all of the high-initiative stacks (the Dogs and the Horse), so they will die off a lot sooner while making contact with your units before the other stacks do.
The enemy hero, thanks Asha is not going to Puppet Master your riders or Shadow Matriarch, or you are done! Instead, they will set a priority on cloning that insane stack of Sucubbus Mistresses (Even Biara the Succubus does not carry this many). In my game the clones always act immediately after the hero's Phamton Force, because the enemy hero has Expert Summoning magic and his level is very high. There is no better way to prevent the damage - just use Ylaya's Chain Lightening on the main Succubus stack so the clone will be damaged next and dispelled. When there is no clone, just keep throwing Deep Freeze on the Succubus to delay their power shots.
p.s. Ylaya comes with the artifacts that boosts her Ice and Lightning damages by 50%, and she has the Master of Ice and Master of Storm feats. Therefore, Deep Freeze and Chain Lightening are the best spells to cast.
Now we are playing Heroes of Might and Magic!
You are now ready to fight Biara!
If you have brought down all four demon towns by Wulfstan, Freyda, Kujin (or Gotai, only if Kujin still lives) and Ylaya, a wonderful thing happens - four stacks of reinforcement arrive in front of Biara's town (E). You are entitled to 100+ Archangels, Untamed Cyclops, Lava Dragons and Black Dragons! Why do you need anything else if you have these? Well you need the Lion's Crown badly, because the Cyclops and Dragons are evil.
Also, visit all of the morale boosts you can find nearby. There are three of them out there plus a HP+10% boost, so during the fight your Untamed Cyclops and Black Dragons should have a net morale of -1. If you love to see a massacre, you can always visit the closest Memory Mentor at (10) and opt for Expert Leadership.
Biara's army is actually bigger than yours, still. She has two tier-7s, two tier-6s, one tier-5 and one tier-4. She has the Demon Lord ultimate Urgash Call, so all of them will gate instantly with almost equal number. Her stats are not as impressive as the Demon Sovereign in the original game, though, and she does not have Leadership or Luck - which actually makes her much weaker than she appears to be. From the map editor we can see that Biara actually has Expert Logistics. Ha!
Here comes the list of Biara's artifacts: Cursed Ring (Luck -2), Ring of the Broken Will (Morale -2), Staff of Sar-Issus (no magic resistance), Helm of Chaos, Dragon Scale Armor, Dragon Bone Graves, Pendant of Mastery, Shield of the Dwarven Kings, Sandro's Cloak (no mind control immunity).
Biara again loves to cast Puppet Master. Due to her artifacts they always hit, yet you can quickly dispel them thanks to Zehir's Expert Sorcery. The Mass spells in the final battle are actually very useful because Biara will only concentrate on PM, and she has no Sorcery expertise. You can freely manipulate Biara's troops - Mass Confusion, Mass Slow, Puppet Master, Frenzy, and Vampirism, Mass Haste, Mass Righteous Might on your own... the battle is very easy once you have the very best four units in the game! Even if you are not careful with your Cyclops and hit your own troops every single time, you can still win!
But, we all like 900 Cyclops better.
Congratulations for finishing Heroes of Might and Magic V: Tribes of the East expansion. We hope to see you again when HoMM6 comes out!
Oh here comes Isabel. Er... did Zehir find Raelag anyway?