To Kill For Power: A Xarfax (Inferno) vs Elleshar (Rampart) problem

The old Heroes games developed by New World Computing. Please specify which game you are referring to in your post.

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To Kill For Power: A Xarfax (Inferno) vs Elleshar (Rampart) problem

Postby cjlee » Oct 5 2015, 13:01

I have been replaying some of my old H3 games, and am now stuck.

In To Kill For Power, the mapmaker deliberately levels the playing field by forcing your hero to employ a surrogate to fight for him at one point. This allows mapmaker to limit the stats and control the skills/ spells available in this battle.

So now I’m somewhat stuck at the following stage: I have Xarfax (stats 24 average) going up against an enemy with superior stats (28 average). Enemy has the usual Legions of Whatever and Swarms of Gold Dragons along with expert spell schools. I have inferior spells – eg Expert Earth Magic without implosion; Expert Fire magic without berserk, no level 5 spells such as sacrifice, etc.

I also have inferior artifacts. Nothing as nice as spirit of oppression or orb of vulnerability.

You can see the following pictures.

Image
Image

I’ve played this through before a long time ago, and remember the Xarfax vs Elleshar battle as by far the hardest in the entire very long scenario. Back then I was forced to wait for creature growth, and even then my army was decimated and I had to play this through several times for a victory. I think something like 60+ Archdevils and 20+ Efreet Sultans survived that hell despite running out of mana for resurrection. The other battles in this game were never so difficult so I made it through fine with few Archdevils.

My Inferno is hired out, except for a few hundred imps.

I have 100+ Titans, but much fewer Academy troops of other kinds due to external creature generators.

I can hire maybe 100 Gold Dragons, but again fewer Rampart creatures, due to the external dwellings. Gold Dragons give me a defense against enemy’s mass slow/ haste, but they fall very quickly to the Legions of Whatever due to insufficient numbers. In my final try I'll probably hire them instead of the Titans, because conserving Titans are more important in the long run.

I have 300+ Mighty Gorgons on hand and ability to hire about 50 more. Again, Fortress creatures are not on par in numbers due to the external dwellings. I have about 5000 Gnoll Marauders.

There is nothing else to do at this stage. This is a bottleneck that must be passed to get to the next stage (Kill Kilgor in the barbarian area.)

I don’t exactly remember what I did last time because it was several years ago, but am pretty sure that I played this much faster this time. The most important issue for me in posting this battle isn't winning, because I can win with what's given to me. It is winning in a manner that befits an experienced player. So far every attempt vs Elleshar has degenerated into an ugly, messy slugfest and the loss of most my inferno troops even with the resurrection scroll that you can see my Xarfax is carrying.

I'm not daydreaming about a neat zero casualty battle with Archdevils behind Force Field (ain't gonna happen with enemy having four times as much mana as me), but surely someone here can advise me how to get a better result than the decimations I have been getting. I was hoping I'd improved since the last time I'd played this map, but it seems I'm no better. ;|

[Xarfax has most of the usual low level spells - haste, expert slow, forgetfulness, blind, force field, cure, dispel, fire aura, frenzy.]

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Re: To Kill For Power: A Xarfax (Inferno) vs Elleshar (Rampart) problem

Postby Salamandre » Oct 5 2015, 18:15

I think the main problem is that you shouldn't have magogs and cerberies at this stage. All of them should be converted into demons, then demons be your main force, no titans or archis. This map is about pitlords specialty.

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Re: To Kill For Power: A Xarfax (Inferno) vs Elleshar (Rampart) problem

Postby Taro » Oct 5 2015, 19:07

Any save game please?

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Re: To Kill For Power: A Xarfax (Inferno) vs Elleshar (Rampart) problem

Postby cjlee » Oct 6 2015, 5:59

Um, no savegame anymore. I accepted my losses and moved on.

Lost 62 Gold Dragons, 156 Efreet, 9 Archdevils, 436 Pit Lords and 339 Magogs. No war machines or other units lost.

Despite these seemingly horrendous losses, actually they did not hurt my progress one tiny bit. This map isn’t hard. It’s just intellectually annoying to me to see such high casualties, because the losses from this one battle are many times greater than the losses from all other battles before this battle combined.

And Salamandre, have you ever played this map before? It is definitely not a Demon Raising map. It is ultra big and full of obstacles and terrain effects that will make your life very hard unless you are travelling with a fast army. AKA Archdevils, Titans, Gold Dragons and Efreet. After defeating the Wizards such as Aine who blocked my path in the first two months (didn’t have enough Archdevils or resurrection so I need other Inferno troops), I never again fielded Pit Lords, Magogs or Demons until this battle.

General comment: I never understand why anyone wants to do the demon raising path. It's not cost effective to convert Imps into Demons. For the same money, you get less damage and less HP. Not to mention you often have to assist in the destruction of your own stack in order to get a fully destroyed stack to raise, you have to keep Pit Lords out of combat to keep them alive, you have to protect these easily killed demons before you can have a sufficiently big stack to intimidate AI into not attacking it... too many moving parts to take care of.

Give me Archdevils vs many times more demons, and I'll almost certainly take the Archdevils. They're more effective overall. For instance, there was an instance earlier where in the Seer Huts west of Devil Gate you have a pot of 20 mercury guarded by 18000 Magic Elementals. It's just supposed to be some seer's lunch pot. Since in this map I play Lyndor a total villain, I could not resist attacking the Elementals once I had 250 Archdevils and 900 mana. I wiped out the Magic Elementals and rocketed up 5 levels. This is the kind of wicked battle that only Archdevils can handle.

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Re: To Kill For Power: A Xarfax (Inferno) vs Elleshar (Rampart) problem

Postby Salamandre » Oct 6 2015, 11:49

Is not very difficult map so it can be won also without demons, as there is no time limit. But the choice of inferno is not hazardous, farming is the ultimate and the most successful strategy, especially when you are given tons of towns with creatures to recruit. That's why pitlords there are gold, I wouldn't risk to lose one of them.

And yes, I played that map about 20 times.

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Re: To Kill For Power: A Xarfax (Inferno) vs Elleshar (Rampart) problem

Postby cjlee » Oct 6 2015, 14:50

Salamandre

I believe you are a better player than me, so I'll lay out what I think are the conditions for demon farming and see if you have anything to add.

Playing Inferno on most big maps with many creatures, it is generally wise to demon farm. That way you have a sustainable army. Your inferno creatures are fragile and will die with time (and your casting of Sacrifice, one of the Demoniac's best spells). So farming demons with stacks you don't value, such as that pile of skeletons or these useless peasants, makes sense.

On this particular map, it's silly. You enemies have one, two towns at best. You have an army of creature generators for every race and multiple castles - Titans grow at 22/week, Devils at 36, Gold Dragons at 16, not to mention plenty of Azures Dragons and what not.

Why should I suffer the slow, plodding speed 5 creatures when I could easily move at speed 17? I already have zero casualties. How will plodding behind make future battles easier? It's not as if this is a particularly hard map.

I remember our exchanges over Fortress creatures. You seem to think I avoid playing Fortress whenever possible so I don't know how to play it. I do play Fortress competently. But as with another of my long posts in the Heroes V forum, I compare H3 Fortress with the Dwarves' faction in H5. Both are certainly powerful. I definitely do not want to meet a human player commanding H5 Dwarves on a large map, and I hate to siege a H3 Fortress opponent or even meet one with mass haste on an open field. But the route to that power is very unpleasant. It is slow, it is plodding, battles drag on and cannot be swiftly concluded, your units have to struggle to get into position and are often blocked, your hero's spells are often weak, etc. in other words to get your grand victory you have to go through a lot of mud. It spoils my game experience.

Tazar is really scary in late game or as a level 25 user-made scenario boss. His Mighty Gorgons and Hydras are damn near unkillable. Slap on Counterstrike, Fire Aura, Clone etc and the damage is really fearsome. When I am playing Tazar as a level 5 weakling, any level 5 caster can blast the hell out of Tazar. To get my Tazar to level 25 is a very unpleasant experience.

As a mapmaker Salamandre you no doubt can tailor fit scenarios nicely. As a player with perpetual bad luck, I can't. Sometimes I have three level 3 mage guilds, and none of them give me Teleport. How am I supposed to fight with Hydras without teleport? No other level 7 creature needs one particular spell to be effective.

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Re: To Kill For Power: A Xarfax (Inferno) vs Elleshar (Rampart) problem

Postby Salamandre » Oct 6 2015, 17:01

Well, I don't know about teleport, in practice you need very few spells to keep losses at zero: mass haste, slow, blind, resurrect, clone (if castle factions). Then of course it comes the invincible spells as force field, quicksand and anti magic. Surely berserk is among the best, but I never used it in 15 years of playing, it looks to me like a blatant cheat. In all, single player is very simple: you need intelligence skill. As simple as that. If you have twice spell points than your opponent, then it just can't win. Once AI wasted its spell points, it becomes a cake walk to beat its blinded stacks, one by one or cover the field with quicksands and keep all their movement range at 1.

I said demons because you asked about that battle. It is indeed a hard battle which is less hard if you already have 2000 demons. There is a thumb rule when you fight AI: if damage returned is bigger than damage inflicted, it will attack weaker stack. So if you have one stack of 2000 demons, then 6 stacks of 1 demon (or imp or whatever), AI will waste all his first turn on the single creatures. Which gives you the time to kill the bigger stack then blind the second bigger. In your configuration, you brought a lot of medium stacks, none of them being really lethal for AI, so you will be attacked without pity.

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Re: To Kill For Power: A Xarfax (Inferno) vs Elleshar (Rampart) problem

Postby cjlee » Oct 12 2015, 15:49

Ah, only just noticed your response!

I am amazed that you said you have never used berserk before.

Do you remember Hans C's Eternal Love Campaign, Map 7 where you meet Mutarre as a final boss? Mutarre has hundreds of Azures, Faeries, Rust, Crystal dragons each as well as maybe 800 Black Dragons. Even her weakest stack has far more HP than your strongest stack, 200+ phoenixes/ 200+ Archdevils, 100+ Titans, 70+ Archangels, 400+ Mighty Gorgons, etc. You can hire maybe 100 Ghost Dragons although I never did so. She can cast Armageddon for 11k damage with no damage to her side due to the Armageddon blade. She has Vial of Dragon Blood. Her stats are all 80+ (same as yours) except for 160 mana. You do not have any super combo artifact at this point and mapmaker has taken pains to make sure you can only assemble a combo as a last resort. No recanters cloak, no orb of inhibition or vulnerability.

On your side, you have nearly 4000 mana and every spell in the spell book except Fly, Implosion and Dimension Door. Archdevils are at 20 Speed due to your artifacts.

Even with Mass Berserk I didn't find it easy. I would not have survived had I not managed to berserk 3 stacks in the first turn.

I understand that one way to play this, theoretically, is to protect the Archdevils and Ghost Dragons with antimagic and force field while your troops get slaughtered. After Faeries and Mutarre are out of mana, you could whittle down Black Dragons and Azures using Archdevils, blind the other 3 stacks, resurrect, etc. In practice this is an incredibly boring experience. It is also dubious, since if the faeries choose to hit you before you antimagic, you're dead. You don't have enough time to ForceField the Archdevils, Antimagic them, Haste the Ghost Dragons and Antimagic them and put them in the same force field.

It doesn't come across to me as a nice way to win...


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