Map 4 - The Archipelago
Size - Very Big
Level Cap - 30
This map is similar to mission 4 of the Necromancer and the Warlock campaign. It is a mission which involves a long journey through numerous neutral creatures, and you do not have access to any town.
If Findan has the spell Resurrection, this mission is really easy. It is simply a matter of time in battles until Findan ends up with exactly what he started the battle with. It is still possible to complete this mission without the spell; however, things wil be more difficult in the next, final mission.
The Archipelago landscape is essentially a remake of Inferno mission 5, where Agrael traveled to Tieru through a series of islands. Since Agrael's last visit, there has been some serious volcanic activity in the area. You will see not only big craters, but also a totally different set of islands here. The only thing that remains the same is that Tieru still meditates on a large rock at the center, waiting for your arrival month after month.
Although this map sounds boring, there are numerous stat boosters out there. In fact, this map offers more stat boosters than any other campaign map. The picture on the right is an example of how much your Findan will improve in this mission -- a total of 21 stat points from bonuses! So, take your time and collect them all, as there is no fast-growing enemies out there (neutrals only grow at a rate of ~10% a week).
To spice up the adventure, the programmers added a side quest which consists of collecting the "Ancient Artifacts". Although the in-game description says that they will help you to win the war against undead, you actually face a demon army at the end, and when you do fight undead, in the next mission, these artifacts are not carried over.
There are also numerous chests on this map, and many of them offer huge amount of money / experiences (6000 or so). On the contrary, you will not be spending a lot of money on this map. I suggest converting every single chest to experience. You will have sufficient fund just by picking up all the good piles and fire camps for the cash.
The best bonus to pick at the start, you probably know it by heart now, is the hunters. You start the map on the SW island, and there is a ship just on your west, which is an alternative way of transportation for the first 5% of Findan's journey. You can ignore the ship and head directly to the stairs just north of you.
You are now underground, at position (1). Follow the road, turn south at the not-so-obvious intersection, and climb the stairs at (2). You emerge at (3), which is close to a shore that you could have landed at with your starting ship. North of (3) are two low-level Sylvan creature buildings, which are insignificant compared with the stat bonus.
If you decide to board the ship at the beginning, you are then able to collect some treasures and possible artifacts located nearby. Land your ship on (3) and you can backtrack to stairs (1) to collect things you've missed.
Return to the underground, and this time follow the road north. The stairway at (4) leads to another island (5). Here you will find one of the two trading posts and troop upgrading Hill Forts of this map. You can sell all of your resources to finance your upgrade, since you don't need them anywhere else. Before you venture further, pay attention to the south tip of this island (5) -- isn't that a Sylanna's Ancient, the sneaky level-up tree? This is its first appearance in the Ranger campaign. Normally you cannot level to the cap (lv 30) on this mission, so this tree will certainly help you!
Descend through the stairs in the east, and you are again underground, at (6). Go north a bit, and there is an intersection. Since we want to pick up all of the stats bonuses, turn left and climb the stairs not very far ahead, one after one, to visit islands (7) and (8). There is a Witch Hut on island (7) to try your luck. On island (8), you will find the best Ranger artifact around - the Unicorn Horn Bow, which negates range penalties. Your hunters now deal full damage even to guys hiding in the back row!
When you come back from island (8), you can use the nearby one-way portal to return directly to the previous intersection. Now you can follow the road east, to the stairway at the end (9).
This island gets you to a high altitude with great view! Defeat and pick up whatever you want and hit the stairs at the end (A). You again have a choice. I suggest you to first head south to climb the stairs at (B), as it is another dead end. Once you finish touring the long island, come back down and use stairs (C) this time.
Yet another island (D)! There is only one way to go, and you can see the other Witch Hut of this map. Once you go down (E), follow the road north, and you will be standing on island (F). Here you will find the second set of trading post and Hill Fort. Again, sell all your resources, and upgrade your units. When you take the stairs, to your immediate north is a stack of unicorns waiting to join you. Take them and upgrade them as well. Any extra money you have at this point is wasted.
After upgrading your units, come down the stairs and follow the last underground passage to stairs (G). Finally, you see Tieru! Wohoo!
Just before speaking to him, something bad happens. Two inferno heroes show up, and one comes to you. He should really be ashamed by the army he prepared, though. After dispatching him, proceed further towards Tieru and watch the plot unfold. Too bad you can't do anything about it.
Your final mission is to chase down Biara, who has only gained a few more levels since Findan last saw her. You can board one of the ships left over by the defeated Inferno hero and Biara, sail SE and catch Biara on an island on a volcano island (marked by a red X). Somehow Biara got there without her ship! Maybe she simply flew there, with all those little fat demons holding her leg in a kite string -- that's why she couldn't carry too much.
Anyway, for this being the final fight of this mission, Biara's army is a huge joke so you should have no problem defeating her. But what's coming to you in the next map is much more challenging!