Welcome to the Sanctuary campaign. While the "nature & harmony" theme is not a new concept in the series, in Heroes6 we get to see an east-Asian (specifically Japanese) based faction, at least name-wise. Shogun is literally "general"; Kenshi/Kensei is literally "swordsman/sword saint"; Daimyo is literally "big name", or the lord of the region. Kappa and Snow Woman are both Japanese folklore monsters. Kirin is a holy legendary creature of eastern mythology and of course, a beer brand.
Sanctuary appears to be a very defensive faction. Its racial ability, Honor, increases defence but never heals even on the highest level. It functions like a good mass defensive buff (like Mass Stone Skin but covers both Might and Magic Defence). Its units gain defence in the next turn if they do not attack this turn. These are probably the least aggressive racial abilities among all.
Sanctuary heroes have the unique ability to walk on water, only if leading nothing or nothing but Sanctuary creatures. The scenario designers are nice enough to litter the waters with lots of recyclable garbage. There might be hidden "treasure islands" on the sea, too!
There will be just two artifacts sets that you may be able to complete, the Prophet Set, and the Guardian Set. The Trickster Set will be missing one piece so don't bother looking for it. Some of the parts are very useful. Remember to leave them in the top three rows of Irina's inventory when you finish a mission.
The game by default makes Irina a Magic hero, although the loading scene (the picture above) suggests that she is a Might hero. Her specialty is improved Heroism Warcry, which I used only once in the entire campaign! This walkthrough will walk Irina on the path of Magic + Tear (Tide Master) for two reasons:
(1) While the sanctuary creatures contain 4 Might & 3 Magic, the only two shooters (tier-2 and tier-4) both use Magic attacks.
(2) A Tide Master has two extremely useful hero abilities: Serenity and Tsunami. Serenity is essentially an improved Blind - it becomes available at a lower level, lasts longer (Blind is a Blood spell, in end-game Serenity can reach 6 turns), costs fewer mana points, and has a cool down of only 4 turns. Tsunami not only looks great, but also imposes a 2-turn Mass Time Stasis (in end-game it can reach 3 turns) on all stacks that occupies only one tile (giant creatures are not affected).
Going Magic means that we will be able to defeat enemies ranked as "Severe", "High", or even "Deadly" threats. This also brings us into danger territories before we are ready. It is still better to play a little conservative. Blackhole rewards players who take time to mop up all neutral creatures in an area before moving to the next.
I also recommend the following abilities:
Troop conservation: Reinforcement I, Regenerate, Mass regenerate, Heal, Tactics I. In general, we have to avoid large-scale melee, since Irina can't cast Life Drain, the most powerful healing spell.
Level 15 burst to invincibility: Summon Earth Elemental, Time Stasis, Meditation, Petrify. Petrify lasts very long for a Tear hero, and it applies to almost every creature. It also can't be easily dispelled (by friendly fire) like Serenity.
Logistics, Path Finding: faster expansion
Counterstrike I, II, Archery I, II, Giant Slayer: to increase damage dealt
Parry, Toughness I, II, Defence I, II: to reduce damage taken - low priority, but eventually you will have the extra abilities points for them.
Thundercap: Pearl priestess's (air-based) attack has a high chance of reducing the target's initiative by 10. Very useful to delay a key enemy stack's action.
Tactics II: Kappa leaps back-row enemy shooters on Turn 1. Useful for routine encounters.
Please feel free to experiment with other abilities. There are many ways to win battles with style - although the general consensus is that a Tide Master is extremely good at it (due to Serenity and Tsunami).
Sanctuary lacks Ore more than Haven lacks Wood. But same as Haven, the Sanctuary towns are blessed with an Advanced Market, which sells new items whenever a new game save is loaded (cough). You may be able to find many great artifacts from it, just to name a few:
- Emerald Yumi Bow (off-hand, 20K). Ignores shooters' obstacle penalty. Very handy during a castle siege.
- Gauntlets of the Cyclops (hand, 16K). +8 might power. Exactly what you need for melee.
- Shadow Comb (head, 20K). +8 magic power and one Puppet Master per battle. Useful before level 15, or for the seemingly impossible optional battles in mission 4.
- Summon X Elemental Scrolls (one-time, around 750). Useful before level 15 - ties up enemy shooters.
- Mass Life Drain Scrolls. They appear very frequently in the markets. Great for boss fights.
Besides the advanced market, Pagoda of the Master Duellist increases visiting hero's damage output by 10% for the next battle (although I didn't see any sign that this actually works). Since you only need one Master Duellist building, you can build the alternative Shrine of the Celestial Waters for better Air and Water magics, which are used by Priestess and Snow Maidens/Woman.
Shark Guard/Wanizame (tier-1). High-output melee unit but with very low initiative. Their attack can reduce the movement of enemy melees and cause continuous damage. Not very active due to their slowness, but since they are Tier-1, you will have lots of them. And they will deliver the fatal blow when they are given the chance.
Coral/Pearl Priestess (tier-2). These are your primary healers (or regenerators) before level 15. (After level 15 you hardly get touched.) Since each stack only has two shots of Waves of Renewal, in daily encounters, you might want to split them for better regenerating and shooting coverage. Their long-ranged magic attack is air-based (lightning), and most Sanctuary creatures are weak to air. Great damage to their own kind! The top priority core creature.
Kappa/Kappa Shoya (tier-3). Japanese folklore monster "river child" but looks more like frogs undergone brain autopsy. Every two turns, they can perform a medium-long ranged no-retaliation attack, which is more powerful than a regular attack and damages nearby enemies. Since Kappa has very high initiative, against weak opponents, you can guess the location of their ranged units (usually on the 4th tile from the lower edge, or 5th tile from the upper edge) and leap them immediately. Most of your Reinforcement I should go to Kappa since they will act first to take the counterattack. Since most battles are against neutral creatures, Kappa usually tops your damage chart at the end of missions.
Spring Spirit/Mizu-Kami (tier-4). Looks more like Winter spirits than Spring spirits. They also have identical models and portraits as Water Spirits (the upgrade version is exactly "water god" in Japanese). So what do they do anyway? They can spirit link to another friendly stack and share their buffs such as Pain Mirror. Essentially a mediocre melee unit, this is the weakest link of the Sanctuary army roster.
Snow Maiden/Yuki Onna (tier-5). Japanese folklore monster snow woman, who now fire ice balls. The Onna's special ability is to create a 3x3 frozen ground that both damages enemies and reduces their movement points (although not by very much). Very amusing against AI melee walkers, as the dumb AI will step on the trap again and again. Once they finally got pass it, try "Call of the Depths" or "Tsunami" for more laughs! This should be your top-priority elite creature both for value and entertainment.
Kenshi/Kensei (tier-6). These snake blade masters are the Sanctuary equivalent of bugged Imperial Griffins (i.e. no battle dive): relatively high initiative, decent health, and unlimited retaliation. You will be able to use them starting at the beginning of the campaign, and will continue to enjoy their supporting role. The upgraded version can hit multiple times if they repeatedly attack the same enemy.
Kirin/Sacred Kirin (tier-7). Throughout this campaign I never had enough cash to hire a good number of them when I need them. When I do get rich, the missions are essentially won. Retaliated tier-7 melee is as effective as low-tier melee - they seldom get a chance to attack in the toughest battles, which are all siege battles. So you may as well save the money to hire as many Sharkmen as you can, and invest the rest in some powerful artifacts in the Advanced Market. The toughest fights are usually in the first half.
Level cap: 10 (best guess)
Difficulty Index: 3/6
Last updated: December 5, 2011
Dynasty Traits: You probably have noticed that we are usually restricted to low-tier units in mission 1s. So we can greatly benefit from the core creature +3 bonus. Also, since there will be a large number of resources to pick up on the sea, you may as well get "free first generic hero", and hire yet another one early on to combine their starting armies on Irina (get the heroes with more priestess). By the way, contrary to any other missions you have played, you probably won't reach the level cap simply because there are not many creatures to kill. So feel free to convert some early chests into experience points.
The first part of this mission is about walking around to receive small numbers of units and eventually a free town to develop. Feel free to skip some optional encounters in order to rush to the town. You can always return here later.
Irina begins her journey with a small band of Coral and Pearl Priestess at (start). Travel down the road and you will see a magic-affiliated Dynasty Weapon, Staff of the Tides at (1). The Staff of Tides has a special ability Call of the Depths at level 3 (think of it as Tear II Tsunami minus Mass Time Stasis but plus some scratchy damage). When the staff is maxed to level 5, creatures gain an Ice Barrier which absorbs damage. But of course you won't see it if you play this campaign normally (Killing every thing ONCE will net you 4-5M EXP at the end.) You can also use other staffs, preferably those that increase mana. One more Regenerate/Heal can sometimes be the key for a perfect victory.
By the way, if any of the special abilities does not appear in your spell inventory when you have reached the level for it (as happened in my game), simply un-equip and re-equip the staff.
Don't be afraid to walk up to the deadly guardian of the weapon - you will be given a quest. As the walkthrough follows the Tear route, Irina has to defeat about a dozen of Fire Elementals at (2). This could be a little too tough for you at this moment. You can always come back when you have enough mana to heal.
Go to (3) first and rescue a group of Kappa from Haven poachers. Next, go to (4) and visit the Dragon Nexus (double mana) structure and the ability to walk on water. There are quite a few floating resources nearby, but you can send a secondary hero to collect them later.
Now you can cross the stream and eventually descend the stairs at (5-5'). The underground portion is rather small, with two stat boosts (s) and some minor artifacts. Soon you will see the exit of the under-volcano tunnel (6-6'). Go east to flag a creature building and receive the free Town A!
The second part of this mission is to outgrow and defeat the Red Haven faction, which owns Fort B, Fort C, and Town D. The AI is completely dormant - you can do whatever you want in front of their eyes. You can probably take Fort B very early. However, Fort C and Town D do have pretty big scripted garrisons, so you need some time to save up an army.
You only have one town, so how do you outgrow them? It would be nice if there is another creature building. Indeed, there is. Travel north (on the water) from Town A, and you will soon see a few buildings to flag on an island (7). More resources floating! Also, it is now a good time to go back to tend to unfinished business from the beginning. If you feel mean, you can park a secondary hero at (8) to block the AI's creature building from beefing up Fort C (which is likely the toughest fight in this mission), and another hero at (9) to steal the AI's Ore production.
When you have run out of things to collect, push north and take over Fort C and Town D. They are all very straight-forward siege battles. If you find one too hard, simply come back later with more units and more one-time combat boosts.
You can also get many great items from the Advanced Market. In my game, I bought a few summon elemental scrolls to pop them up right beside the AI's Crossbowmen and blocked their shots for eternity - all for just a few thousand gold. I also bought Anastasia's Shadow Comb for one cast of Puppet Master per battle (PM an enemy shooter frequently crashes my game, so be careful) for amusing effects, and some other + Magic Power artifacts. I also found a few Life Drain and Mass Life Drain scrolls, but never found the tough situation to use them.