Welcome to the Inferno campaign. Some may find the orange-red theme a little overused; some may be simply excited about playing the bad guys, although Kiril is probably the most harmless among Slava's kids. Even after finishing the campaign I had little idea of why Kiril does this and that.
Demons are not the only race that wins by conquering everything, but it does accomplish it with a unique style - by bringing in lots and lots of helpers through Gating. Each mother stack can support one gated stack. There are three general uses of gated units:
(1) Block enemy shooters - you must have seen the AI faithfully doing this to you. They also create a good sacrificial distraction and allow you to deal more ranged damage before melee takes place.
(2) Absorb counterattacks - in this case you gate in the highest-initiative units, the Ravagers, and hope that it acts before the mother stack. They also have an aura that attracts nearby enemy attacks.
(3) Contribute to ranged damage in a castle assault - Lilim.
The Gating meter is filled up by each lucky attack, so to maximize our Gating efficiency, we need a (1) full 7 stack roster (if you don't have seven, split the Lilim into multiple stacks of one) and (2) high Destiny, which happens to be Kiril's specialty. There are various artifacts that increase Luck (such as the golden Horseshoe, Destiny +8). The chance of getting lucky is capped, but so far how high the cap is and how the cap is achieved is still unclear. There is also a unique building in towns, Heart of Urgash, that increases the Gating meter.
Might or Magic, Blood or Tear? How would you like to play this game? A cliche analysis would sound like "do you want to play by force (Might) or by brain (Magic)?" But in Hereso6 we are really talking about "do you want to be careful and take one step at a time to face only inferior enemies (Might) or over-achieve, and fight unnecessarily difficult battles (Magic)?"
Certainly, only a Magic hero can defeat an army 10 times larger. However, Blackhole is not so mean to make the missions so difficult on Hard that only a Magic hero can succeed. In fact, the Inferno campaign is so relaxed (except for one battle unrelated to Kiril) that you can easily cruise through with a Might hero and use fingers on one hand to count battles where you actually lose units.
So let's go with the game's default Kiril (Might). Might goes well with the Inferno army, where five out of seven units deals Might damage. Even if the only two magic users happen to be the only two ranged units, Kiril will end up with very high Magic Power thanks to various stats boosts.
In the Haven campaign, we went for Blood with the reasoning that increased damage is converted to increase healing by Arache. This time we will go for Tear (Hellcaller) and enjoy free extra Gating (Tear I passive ability) and a "Plan B" healing (Tear II active ability) using gated units (throughout this campaign I only used it once). Kiril is able to cast Mass Life Drain, so he doest not have to wield the Arache.
Here comes the list of abilities recommended for a Hellcaller Kiril:
Daily unit conservation: Reinforcement I (higher level is not necessary), Tactics II, Mass Life Drain, Mass Regenerate
Close fight tide turner: Mass Heroism (more morale and luck = more lucky attacks = more gating opportunities), Mass Weakness, Mass Stone Skin
- Logistics, Path Finding. To speed up the expansion.
- Archery I, II, Counterstrike I, II, III, Giant Slayer, Rampage, Cleave. Increase damages dealt.
- Parry, Resilience, Toughness I, Defense I Reduce damages taken.
There are still plenty of ability points to distribute. Please feel free to experiment with other builds!
Maniac/Demented (tier-1). Average melee unit with average initiative and damage. Their attack drains the target's power. But due to their low initiative, they are not the most active units on the battlefield. They are immune to morale effects, which works against you.
Hell Hound/Cerberus (tier-2). Extremely high offence at the expense of defense. Attacks multiple enemies at front (no more friendly fires like Heroes5!) and always retaliates. Look no further - this is your primary damage dealer throughout all missions! The AI loves to focus on them, so you will almost always start a battle with Reinforcement I on the dogs just like you did to Liches, Griffins, and Kappa before. And then you will use them to lead the attacks to fulfill the "primary damage dealer" prophecy.
Succubus/Lilim (tier-3). Your more realizable ranged unit. The upgraded version has one very good ability - enthrall, which Blinds a stack for a couple of turns. However, from experience, sometimes the enthrall effect stays even after damage is taken (like Time Stasis). Very useful.
Breeder/Breeder Mother (tier-4). Your less reliable ranged unit that looks like stage-IV anal tumor. The Imps that come out from the hole don't have eyes, so they have very poor aim (like Skeleton spear throwers). Even with a bow artifact (Unicorn/Emerald), they still don't deal impressive damage. They do suck mana for Kiril, and they do it very early due to their high initiative. The upgraded version comes with a free Reinforcement every battle, but the AI always hit the dogs.
Tormentor/Lacerator (tier-5). Their special attack hits all adjacent enemies without getting retaliated. Due to their high initiative, it is possible to avoid casualty by moving them to stand beside multiple enemies at the end of one turn, and release the powerful special attack at the beginning of the next turn. Other than this, they are just another melee unit.
Juggernaut/Ravager (tier-6). The highest initiative creature on the demon roster. Their special attack is to "run amok", damaging everything on their path (friendly fire possible) without attracting retaliation. It is quite an effort to plan their path in advance while avoiding damaging your own. The upgraded version attracts enemies' attacks in a 2-tile radius. So you will have to either Reinforcement I the dogs and heal them, Reinforcement II them and heal the dogs, or like me - let the dogs and Cleave do all the work.
Pit Fiend/Lord (tier-7). Although their hit-all special attack and counterattack is quite weak, their regular melee attack inflicts a "Frenzy" effect that consumes the target's next action to randomly attack a neighbor, friend or foe, or doing nothing at all if there is no neighboring unit. So we can use Pit Fiend/Lord in a supporting role - to make them wait first, go in and attack and frenzy something at the end of the turn (and hopefully avoid the counterattack), and pull out at the beginning of the next turn.
You will be able to collect three artifact sets from this campaign, the Warlord Set, the Trickster Set, and the Magister Set. But it is always better to forgo the insignificant set bonus and pick the best artifact for each part.
Level cap: 10
Difficulty Index: 2/6 (boss battle extra, see below)
Last updated: December 18, 2011
Mission 1 is mostly easy for Kiril - the neutral stacks are small, and the AIs are a lot more handicapped than you, so they are doomed to fail. But there is a very nasty surprise at the end, something completely unrelated to what do to Kiril. We will discuss that when the time comes.
Dynasty Traits: Mission 1 is all about Core creatures, so core creature +3 would be very handy. Any economic bonus would soon be completely useless, since you will have so much unspent resources at the end due to building (spending) restrictions.
Kiril wakes up at the middle of the map (start) to build up Town A from scratch, with a few free creatures to pick up nearby. There is no hurry to rush out, so you can take some time collect everything around here. A hero guarding the gold mine below will point you to the east. After this simple quest, you can recruit hellhound from towns.
With Week 2's new creatures, proceed to (1) and defeat a scripted demon hero. The reward of the fight is the might-oriented Dynasty Weapon Soul Drinker. This weapon has a "Life Drain" ability at level 4, but it is not as powerful as Arache. If a battle is not particularly difficult, you may as well equip Soul Drinker for its Destiny bonus.
Note: Patch 1.2 vows to fix Dynasty Weapon bugs, including permanent bonuses on a previously equipped weapon. So switching between Dynasty Weapons should become a viable strategy.
After defeating the hero, you can take Town B, the crystal mine, and nearby resources. You can solve a quest to recruit Maniacs by collecting a decent helmet set artifact (enemy morale -6) at (2). If you follow the path to the northeast after Sarah, you will eventually hit a temporary dead-end. There is another route to the north that leads you to the Orange territory, but it is probably a little too tough for you now.
With Week 3's new creatures from both Town A and B, you should have no problem pushing west and take Town C. At (3') lies the exit of a one-way portal. The red hero that you just defeated will invade you again and again by entering the portal at (3) to the north, so it is a good idea to setup an Advanced Town Portal in Town C in the near future.
You now have a choice of where to go next. You can continue attacking the Red faction to take Fort D and Town E to permanently stop the invasions, or go for the Orange faction, who owns Town F and Town G. In my game, I went for Town F first, then came back for Fort D and Town E. Strangely, I was not invaded by the Red before stepping into Fort D's territory.
No matter what order of conquest you decided, eventually you will have to take them all. This completes one of the primary objectives and opens the gate at (4). A quite-powerful hero roams the eastern territory, but you should be strong enough to crush it. Continue up the linear path and take Fort I, Fort J to eventually assault the last town, Town K.
Before you attack Town K, just north of the castle lies the last stats boost (s) of the mission that can be easily missed. The defending army inside Town K is more powerful than anything you have fought so far, but this is the last battle of the mission that uses Kiril and his army.
Winning the final town fight gives you a set artifact (boots), but it is handed to you after you receive a few (in my game, 3) other non-set artifacts from the opponent hero. If you do not have at least 4 empty slots in Kiril's top-3 rows (one of them is pocket, so in reality there are just two rows), you won't get the set shoes at the beginning of mission 2. To make sure you do get the shoes, remove whatever boots Kiril is wearing now, so the new boots will be equipped on Kiril and survive the mission.
Now let's talk about the real boss fight of this mission. After finishing Necropolis, Haven, and Sanctuary campaigns, I feel this particular fight is the hardest mandatory battle so far. I fought this battle on hard 6 times, but only managed to win 2.
BOSS: Azkaal vs. Xana's Dogs (Difficulty index: 6/6)
OK, a demon that has only 75000 HP. Shouldn't be too hard for Xana's huge army, right? Let's take a look at Xana's spell book... hm, how come we can't open it...
You ARE Azkaal, the Prince of Destruction! Do you stand a chance against 1120 dogs (on hard), often hitting for 10K+ damage each bite? If there is one sentence to summarize this battle, it is "avoid dog bites". Xana's dogs frequently escapes your hit-all counterattack fire damage (probably from its natural fire resistance), and they also damage you more than all other stacks combined. If you can avoid dog bites, you win.
Azkaal has two actions each round. Here are the options:
(1) Regular attack - very weak. But if you can hit something after teleporting, you may as well swing.
(2) Teleport - The only purpose of moving is to run away from the dogs. But Xana tends to increase the dogs' morale, so they might catch up with you anyway (fortunately dealing only half damage). A much better way to avoid the dogs is to let Xana's other melee stacks block the dogs from Azkaal, and to stun the dogs with the Frenzy attack (see (5)).
(3) Hit-all fire attack - (3-turn cool down period) A powerful attack that reduces all Xana's stacks' size. The faster you reduce the dogs' health with this fire attack, the more likely you are going to win.
(4) Mark for double fire damage - Starting with the dogs, mark all of Xana's real stacks so they will go down more quickly with your fire-based attack and counterattack. Whenever you are safe from the dogs and can't use (3), mark some fat stack.
(5) Frenzy+ - This ability is better than the regular Frenzy, for it will stun the target for 2 turns ONLY IF they have no neighbor to frenzy attack. The only stack that you need to Frenzy is the dogs - but for the sole purpose of stunning them for two turns. If they actually have something to attack, they are only stunned for the current turn.
Xana tends to give the dogs Life Drain. That's a very good reason that you don't want Frenzy to hit the dogs when the dogs can actually frenzy attack a friendly stack. Not only you lose the chance to stun them for one more turn, but you also help them heal thousands of HP! This only leads to your own demise! Besides, Xana has a disproportionally big dog stack, so chances are your hit-all attacks will eventually kill everything but the dogs.
p.s. On the bright side, if the dogs' frenzy attack does wipe out a friendly stack, you receive an achievement for it.
Your counterattack also deals hit-all fire damage, which is less powerful than (3). So it is a good idea to get hit by Xana's weaker melee stacks every round. Your personal luck is also very important - you might be unable to block the dogs with Xana's own units, and the dogs may keep getting high morale and hunt you down no matter which corner you hide in, and escape your fire damage again and again.
So... good luck! You will need plenty.