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Features → Walkthroughs  → Tribes of the East → Will of Asha → The Grim Crusade

by maltz

While Ornella is busy studying Necromancy 101, you continue to follow the Will of Asha with Arantir, the powerful, but currently level-one Necromancer.

Arantir's specialty is "Avatar of Death", which works very much like Summon Phoenix. It is quite powerful and mana demanding as your level progresses. Eventually it will develop into a monster with all kinds of crazy abilities. A Necromancer lives by the magics, but Knowledge is not a primary attribute for you. Therefore, try to:

- Grab as much Knowledge points as possible
- Use Mark of Necromancer to recharge mana in battles
- Take Sorcery and pick the mana-friendly feats (3 total)
- Take Enlightenment and pick the Intelligence feat

The ultimate skill of Necromancer, Howl of Terror (enemy army gets further -6 morale from Banshee Howl), is now easier to obtain compared to earlier patches. You will need to wait until at least mission 4 due to level caps, but the feats required for it are now quite reasonable. You will be forced to skip the almighty Master of Mind in Dark Magic, and give up Intelligence (50% more mana) in Enlightenment. It is a tough decision. On higher difficulty, I usually prefer a custom build because Nival has an old habit of making earlier missions more difficult than later.

However, now you can be a winner in both early and late missions. There is a new type of building that allows you to replace a learned skill with something else. Therefore, you can pick up Master of Mind and Intelligence to survive, and replace them when your other skills are good enough to cover you for the rest of the campaign.

Here comes a list of skill & feat recommendations for Arantir:

Dark Magic
- Master of Mind for Mass Slow & Mass Confusion.
- Go Expert ASAP. There are plenty of Lv 5 Mage Guild oppurtunity in this mission.

- Get as many mana-saving feats as possible.

Summoning Magic
- Go Expert for better Raise Dead.
- Phoenix is not anymore a must because you have the Avatar of Death, but you will still find uses of it.

- Get Mark of Necromancer & Eternal Servitude ASAP.

Attack with Archery + Battle Frenzy used to be a no-brainer pick because Skeleton Archers were everything you have. However, the game has changed and it is no longer necessary.

Enlightenment is always great when your bonus stats point don't pour into the most useless Defense. The 50% mana bonus from the feat Intelligence is a huge deal, until you get Mark of Necromancer. Pick it up early to get ready for the ultimate.

Luck is a great passive skill when you rely on army strength (you will). However, I have heard that Magic Resistance go against your own Raise Dead (although I never failed a Raise Dead with the feat on), so maybe you should skip this particular feat.

Will of Asha
M2: The Grim Crusade

Map Size: Normal
Level Cap: 16
Difficulty Index: 3/5
Last Updated: October 30, 2007, Patch v3.0

None of the three starting bonuses are great. The clover artifact will soon be replaced by something better, and the cash is too little. I picked Ice Bolt for an early boost of damage.

You start the mission with a mandatory battle against a Wizard hero. His army is laughably small, but so is yours. Split out 4 x 1-unit Skeleton stacks and charge them, along with your Avatar of Death to absorb the retaliation from enemies, especially the hard-hitting Golems. Throw an Ice Bolt to the Gremlins to wipe out half of them, and run some skeleton or your Avatar beside them to neutralize their next turn. Your top priority is to keep as much Skeleton and Skeleton Archers alive, since ranged power is very important early on.

After the skirmish, visit the Seer Tent (1) to receive a side quest - come back again when you are Lv 5 or above for 6 free Death Knights, which are quite useful.

p.s. If you visit the Seer Tent with a secondary hero, Arantir will be teleported back. Think of it as a poor man's town portal. (Thanks to travelingoz, who has an alternate opening strategy in his reply below.)

You are up against three Academy AI players: Orange (D), Yellow (E), and Red (F). Only Orange is aggressive. There are two neutral, easy to take towns: town (B) of Necropolis and town (C) of Academy. Naturally you want to own town (B) ASAP, and build up an overpowering army to run over Orange, Yellow and Red at once.

First, upgrade all your Skeletons into Skeleton Archers. Flag the Ore Pit and tier-1 creature building to the east, and come back to flag the Sawmill to the west. Keep going west to flag another tier-1 creature building. Now it is tempting to flag other mines, but when I played this mission on heroic the neutral stacks were just too powerful for Arantir. If you are playing at a low difficulty you can probably flag them all now.

Suppose you are also playing on heroic and don't have enough strength. Should you wait for the second week of creatures? Nah. There is a good alternative side quest to boost you up.

Keep going west to visit a Stable (S). Avoid the shooters, but take out the easier neutral stacks and raise as much as your Dark Energy points allow. Keep going west towards Town (B). The garrison there will crush you mercilessly, though. Instead, a second side quest is triggered when you get close to Town (B). The Zombies tell you there are some Vampires underground.

Take a break from world domination and enjoy the view!

In the meantime, it is a good idea to hire a secondary hero and start picking up resources scattered throughout the map. Visit the Redwood Observatory at (2) to setup an early warning system of Orange invasion. They wonít come now, but soon enough. Build up your town (A) to focus on economy, and use as little Ore as possible. Skip all creature upgrade buildings to save cash.

Get rid of the messenger Zombies (hire more from the building though; you need all help you can get) and go south. Descend through the stairs (I). You will now fight the first of the two tough battles in the mission. In my game there are 19 Nightmares spreading into 4 stacks.

While my chance of survival seems to be nill, Nightmares are large creatures. I could easily protect my ~200 Skeleton Archers (hopefully you have 100+ at this point) in a corner. Split out 1-unit Zombie stacks for exactly this purpose. Call out your Avatar of Death and attack the smallest Nightmare stack (to receive less damage from retaliation). Eventually, your zombie die off and you will have to melee with Skeleton Archers. The battle turns ugly but you should be able to pull through.

Your loss here is nothing compared to what you gain. At (V) stand quite a large stack of Vampires offering to join! The Vampires sure have sore legs as they have been waiting here for hundreds of years. Even better, there are three high-level Necro creature buildings - all Vampires. Defeat the garrisons (easily done with the 33 Vampires) to hire 5 Vampires from each.

Also, the Vampire buildings are now accessible in your towns. Build them as soon as possible to enjoy the weekly growth boost from the 3 mansions underground. There will be lots of Vampires running this mission, and you can actually use them to ďsoloĒ most neutral stacks (which they can drain from) for perfect victories.

Come back to the surface via the stairs (I) and recharge mana from the mana well on the way. You are now strong enough to take Town (B). Next, flag the two abandoned mines to the west, and return to Town (A) area to flag the rest of the mines.

In my game, at this time I saw the first Orange AI invasion into my territory, carrying quite a powerful army. With the Vampires you should do fine. The Orange heroes come around every two weeks.

Donít miss out a great artifact at (3). It is part of the Death's Embrace artifact set, and probably the best out of four. Arantir starts the mission with the ring, so now you own 2 out of 4! Enjoy the additional bonus! (courtesy of Age of Heroes) Besides, artifacts that belong to a set will carry over to the next mission - awesome!

By now you should be able to claim the 6 Dead Knights at (1). This is a good time to build up the Mage Guilds in Town (A) all the way to level 5 and pay a visit when you reach Expert Dark Magic. All of the high-level Dark Magics are great now.

As you build up the towns you will soon notice you are severely limited in Ore. There are only so much free resources on the ground for your level-1 hero to pick up. Therefore, you have to attack out as soon as you can. The best route is the mountain pass just south of Town (B). Just before you leave the home base, challenge a bunch of dragons for another good artifact at (4). Don't touch it without Frenzy or Puppet Master!

The main reason to pick this route is the Hill Fort (5) here. Upgrade all Vampires into Vampire Lords, and everything else if you have the cash. This Hill Fort saves you tons of cash - you don't need to build any upgrade building in towns! (Note: Hill Fort upgrade is very expensive for higher-tier creatures, so if you know the mission is going to drag long and you will be hiring a lot of high-tier creatures, it is better to go with upgrade structures in one town.) It is a good idea to hire a level-1 hero based in Town (B). Every week or two weeks, caravan the new units (for now you are fine with just Skeletons, Vampires and Liches) to Town (B), and use this lv-1 hero to run a upgrade express. Then, catch up with Arantir to pass him the reinforcement. Later on when you take more Academy towns, you can also caravan the Academy tier 1, 4 and 5 units here.

Town (C) is ridiculously easy. Somehow the Orange AI was prohibited to take it, but they were free to flag the mines nearby. Flag them back! You donít need to develop this town Ė the Town Hall (2000G/turn) is good enough. Check out the Red Keymaster Tent (red K) just west of Town (C). Visit it now, so you donít have to come back from the other side of the world later. There is a whole bunch of stat boosts south of Town (C), too.

It is now the right time to put a plug on Orange invasions for good. March your great undead army to Town (D) and kill them all! Since Orange AI is constantly depleted by you, this battle should be fairly easy. You gain a full-built Academy Town!

There is only one main objective left - take out the Red Player based in Town (F). There is only one way to get there, but we better take out the optional Yellow AI as well. Somehow the Yellow too becomes aggressive after Orange is gone.

Yellow AI is much tougher than Orange because they have been saving up strength since the beginning. The Garrison at (6) is nothing compared to what you will see in Town (E)! The key to this siege is to protect your Vampires while they deal considerable damage on the other side of the wall. Arcane Armor works great. Mass Slow + Mass Confusion makes a big difference. Even Curse of the Netherworld is worth the mana now. And you can start with a nasty Banshee Howl thanks to the artifact you found earlier.

The Titans are very deadly and are immune to Mind Control, so concentrate your attack on them first. If you have the Avatar of Death or a Phoenix, now is a good time to summon them and throw them at the Titans. The Raja stack is insanely huge - you HAVE TO Puppet Master / Frenzy / Blind them or you can wave good bye to the Vampires and everything you have! The enemy hero has the Magic Resistance feat, so be prepared to miss out a lot of spells!

Although it is likely that at some point you are really low in head count, the infinite mana through someone else's suffering will keep your mana full. You will probably have a dramatic "come back" at the end of the battle with 80% of your starting army intact! This is really a fun battle, and the results can be drastically different depending on your luck and skill.

After taking the Yellow player you pretty much have the mission won - the Red player does not grow, and you have all the other towns on the map. You can't go towards Town (F) directly, though, as a barrier blocks your advance at (7). There is an underground passage but it has not been unlocked yet.

Next, head back to the grasslands and descend through Stairs (II). Unlock the Red Gate (red G). Handle a couple of pathetic ambushes with your Vampires and and run over the Red Army at (8).

Come back to Town (E) and descend through the stairs at (III). Follow the bridge west to reach the stairs at (IV). You can pick up a really good artifact at (9) that carries through missions. I got the Ring of Sar-Issus (1/2 mana cost) here.

There is an interesting Memory Mentor to visit just north of the stairs (IV). For a cheap ~2000G you can replace any unwanted skill with something else you like, in a level-up, 4 choices fashion. If you don't like any you can do it again! Since you are so rich now, you can afford to do a lot of shuffling. Try to follow the skills and feats that lead to the ultimate (see the skill wheel here) but keep Master of Mind, Expert Sorcery and two mana-friendly feats under it.

You are now ready to take Town (F)! The final battle of the mission is so easy that you will be disappointed. You actually face a larger defending army than the Yellow, but it is again a wizard leading Inferno creatures. There are few shooters and the wizard hero has really poor stats (0 Attack, 0 Defense). Watch the constant low morale and laugh! There is no way to lose!

vil2 at 2014-07-17 16:08 wrote:
For the first fight, I found out that the only strategy for winning on Heroic is to make all your possible to take the less amount of damage possible by his fireballs. Which means, do not cluster your troops so the fireballs hit only 1 stack of your troops maximum. I just split the skeletons into 2x1 troops and the rest (just to absorb the Air Elemental first attack), and then focus the Golems.
In every other configuration, the hero will cast 3 deadly fireballs on your troops, if they hit multiple stacks you've already lost the fight.

As a sidenote, it is not mandatory to kill the yellow player. You can win the mission if you kill red and orange. Here is what I did :

As I killed the Orange player by capturing the most western Academy, the yellow actually woke up and captured the eastern Academy in a few days. My Arantir was too far away to retaliate quickly.

So I reloaded a few turns, and instead of killing the Orange, I let him in the West Academy. He had almost no mines and all he did was wandering with some weak Heroes as soon as my towns were undefended (but it was easy to counter him just by paying attention).

So this was a perfect situation : a dormant yellow player, and an almost-dormant orange player. This gave me enough time to visit everything and to develop my army. As I had 600+ Vampire Lords, I decided to attack the red by sneaking behind yellow's Academy.

I killed the red player rather easily, grabbed the ring of Sar Issus and came back to finish the Yellow. As I began the siege, he had 70 Storm Titans, 150 Genies, 60 Rani, 300 Mages, etc. Besides, he resisted most of my spells (PM, frenzy...) and cast phantom forces repeatedly. He was a f**** nightmare....always being immaterial when needed, lucky as usual. I could kill most of his army but could never kill those Titans, especially behind those walls.

In spite of my strong economy, my 2 Necropolis, and the dwellings I stole to him, he continued to recruit more and more Titans every week (of course, I captured all his mines too) and every week, his army was even stronger and seemed to grow very quicker than mine.

WTF is this cheating AI ??

Anyway, while I was continuing to grow my army to kill him, I remembered that the Orange was still alive. I killed him with a secondary hero, and *boom* - Map finished. Of course Arantir was already level 16 with all stats boost and artifacts so I didn't bother to continue and went on the next mission.

So if you have trouble with this yellow, follow those steps :
1/ Capture the biggest academy from orange
2/ Let him capture the West Academy and be sure he doesn't go out (a secondary hero wiuth some army is enough)
3/ With Arantir, sneak behind the East Academy (you must have a good army so that yellow doesn't go out to kill you), kill the red demon army.
4/ With your secondary hero, finish the orange.
Edited on Thu, Jul 17 2014, 19:38 by vil2
hprwhg12 at 2014-04-03 17:14 wrote:
I don't know what planet you got the idea for splitting 4 x 1 skeltons for first battle. Before I even get a chance to summon avatar they are all dead but 1. Yes, it works fabulously for other battles early on. Just not this one.

I hate this battle. I have to continually go back to the end of last mission and pick Ornellas skills over and over again because that is last auto save point.

I can't do this battle without losing almost whole army. His fireball takes out pretty much everything and my avatar can't even kill 1 air elemental. I am left with 8-10 Zombies. So much for keeping skeletons alive for their ranged ability to help in beginning.

ShadowLiberal at 2012-07-06 02:19 wrote:
Just played this mission again, on Heroic this time instead of Hard. A few tips, about mistakes I made that made things much harder for me.

-DO NOT get the 6 death knights quest, and DO NOT collect them as soon as you can. You NEED the free teleport back to town in order to seize the second necromancer town, because as soon as you get within a few days of the second town orange WILL invade your town.

-DO NOT take orange's town ASAP, doing so WILL awaken yellow. I tried this in the first few weeks (since I wasn't able to seize the 2nd necro town from Orange's interference), I quickly got owned by yellow a few turns later, I couldn't run away from yellow either because he'd seize orange's town and then head for my main necro town.

-Once you take orange's town, send all but the tier 2 and 3 creatures to the necro town right away, and lead yellow away from orange's old town to your necro town. This way you can get an extra week or two of army over yellow to even the odds out a bit.

-When defending against yellow, BUY AN AMMO CART, I forgot this step, which made me run out of ammo in the siege, though I still won narrowly. Also stay in the castle at all costs, until the walls are trashed. Try to kill off all the titan's with your archers ASAP, and keep mass slow/confusion/banshee howl active at all times, as well as mark of the necromancer.

-When the castle walls are finally breached, use your men as blockers to keep the enemy on your moat, and kill off all the archers NOW. Once you're down to just melee units (or out of ammo archers) split everyone up, and start laying fire traps all over the place, use mark of the necromancer on the Rakas (there's probably like 40+ left). At one point my army was reduced down to 4 zombies and 17 skeleton archers against 50 Raka's, but I kept wearing them down with fire traps, and kept on raising up previously defeated stacks of ghosts/dragons/wraiths, in all different directions with plenty of fire traps waiting.

Once yellow's main hero is gone you've pretty much won.
RollingWave at 2011-12-20 08:38 wrote:
yeah the first orange invasion is rather problematic even on normal, doesn't help that Arantir is slow as hell and might not make it back in time fortunately I had already maxed fortification and somehow managed to barely win (I was left with just 20 zombies) with a lvl 1 hero and about 1.5 week worth of creatures.

We can talk a little about creature selection, IMHO generally speaking Vampire lords are more general purposed than Prince (though Prince is stronger against the right targets). and Arch Lich is DEFINATLY more useful than Lich Master (Except against other Necros such as map 1, in that case Lich Master is much better because it has raise dead.). Banshee is more useful against living stuff in general as well.

ShadowLiberal at 2011-11-26 20:42 wrote:
Playing this mission reminds me of why I gave up on TOTE the first time around, the fight at the beginning is really annoying.

The first few weeks are the toughest here. Once you take out Orange's toughest hero the worst is over.

I had a hard time taking over the other necromancer town since Orange kept on showing up to invade my other town and interupting me. It may be easier to take Orange and Yellow out first before you grab the other necromancer town, since it'll need a lot of building up to be of much use.

Oh and just a tip with the memory mentor. At takes taking a bad pick on a level up (like Light Magic) can allow you to pick something much more useful the next few level ups (like sorcery and arcane training). I picked worthless Light Magic on a level up to get sorcery offered, than dumped Light Magic to go up to expert in Enlightenment.
Abruzzi at 2011-10-21 16:33 wrote:
lol Maltz, you forgot to mark the Intelligence stat boost to the south-east of the 2 stat bonuses at the right side. ;)
Ravenblade at 2011-08-16 19:38 wrote:
Just in case people keep scratching heads about how to split armies when the battle has started. Battle has a tactics phase and a combat phase. During tactics phase you can click on any creature listed in the bar at bottom. Selecting it and pressing shift while moving the portrait to an empty slot will bring up the split window. The rest should be self-explanatory.
alexender00 at 2011-03-15 23:41 wrote:
The memory mentor trick don't seem to work with 3.1, if a skill is dependent on another (like scholar from Enlightenment), it prevent you from removing the skills or feats that give you the said skill thus Howl of horror is not possible on this mission due to lack of skills.

But! If you abuse the system you can have a bonus skill point no matter the previous skills picked by having a newbie hero go to the witch house (just past the yellow gate), learn the skill, then clear whatever you need to clear so that your actual main hero can get the witch skill, learn it and change it to whatever you actually want.

Can do it only once but still a skill point is a skill point.
Dstr at 2010-05-16 08:59 wrote:
i didn't know about the seer cheat... and also i didn't take the vampires. i didn't want to lose time....
i like to read the waltkthroughs after completing the missions and then compare my ways with others... i know you were right, i lost almost 5 months on heroic.
but i have a very nice hero build :)
ylayarocks at 2009-09-03 23:41 wrote:
@Peredhil : be nice, lol @KatrineA: u need to build a tavern first, then u can hire ur secondary hero. U actually can hire them outside ur town,from the tavern building,just like u can hire extra troops,but no tavern guild on this map. And thanks for ur link info, i'll check that out later. U see, i couldn't get the cheat work, this t0te v.3.0, i read n tried but it didnt work. Anyway,i'll try yours. Thanks.
KatrineA at 2009-09-01 01:15 wrote:
I'll say it's a joke if it makes me look smarter.

I haven't been playing a lot of pc games since I was 16.

I finally figured it out though. I never paid that much attention to the towers.

At least I'm not stuck on the level below, as the bf is. Yes, I do use other people to make me feel better.
Edited on Mon, Aug 31 2009, 22:13 by KatrineA

Peredhil at 2009-08-31 20:36 wrote:
Except from scripted heroes,or some map restrains,usually heroes are hired from the tavern in any city that can build it.Not sure if this was a serious question, or a quasi subtle joke, KatrineA....
KatrineA at 2009-08-30 22:50 wrote:
Here is a link to cheat codes: http://www.cheatcc.com/pc/heroesofmightandmagic5tribesoftheeastcheatscodes.html

Now since you've finished this game. How do I hire a secondary hero on this level or in general, as I've never done it.
ylayarocks at 2009-08-29 23:51 wrote:
does t0te have cheat codes? Just wondering. I'm a fair player, i have finished t0te on easy level, and i intend to re-play it on higher difficulties without aching my head , lol.
Wheeler Dealer at 2009-08-28 01:35 wrote:
I had a somewhat different experience, playing on hard without reading the walkthrough first. I was slow getting to the second necropolis and slower still reaching the neutral (now orange) academy city at (C). By the time I met the principal orange hero, he was too much for me. His army was bigger than mine and he had a better magic matchup. He had some magic resistance, magic mirror and cast phantom forces continually without exhausting his mana!

After using my time travel spell, I ended up builing a smaller second army and playing cat and mouse with orange, taking the the city Nur wasn't near and then retreating and taking the other when orange moved his main force to recapture one of his cities. Eventually I built a third smaller army to take Arantir's place in the harassasment and sent Arantir on through the yellow garrison.

Yellow let Arantir pass and red soon fell. Coming back overland from the red conquest I caught yellow out of his castle and, by virture of expert logistics and traveling boots, I managed to caputure the yellow castle without fighting the main yellow hero. Even though yellow had the superior army (clearly better than the orange as well) he wouldn't attack Arantir in the castle and after a week, disappeared, defeated without a fight.

All armies were combined and Arantir was finally able to defeat Nur outside his castle, still a difficult fight even though I was now informed the threat was moderate instead of challenging.

Thanks for the walkthrough. At one point i thought i might need to start over on normal, or at least with a better plan, but your walkthrough encouraged me to keep plugging.
KatrineA at 2009-08-28 00:13 wrote:
This is going to sound dumb. I am a newbie. How do I hire a secondary hero? Also when I go to get the vampires, I always get 11-13 vampires only, not a hord. Why?
csarmi at 2009-02-03 14:50 wrote:
This campaign is a pain in the ass... I NEVER got Mark of the Necromancer offered by any of my main heroes (actually Ornella got it on level 23 or so whiwh ddidnt make a difference).

Also this hero is just stupid: he's getting WEAKER when levelling up (you start with 10 max mana and the first 5-6 levels suck bigtime as mana cost of the avatar goes up...)
HeroesAddict at 2008-07-25 21:46 wrote:
Thanks for this useful walkthrough but I have been wondering how could you split out the skeletons army into 4x1 stacks at the very beginning. As soon as you finish mission 1, it is impossible to modify the army of Arantir before the first battle. Regards

maltz at 2007-11-01 13:55 wrote:
Thanks for the info! I've added this into the walkthrough.
travelingoz at 2007-11-01 12:55 wrote:
You can actually use the seer hut (1) outside your main town as a poor mans town portal. You can visit it with any hero and Arantir will be automatically transported back to it!
You get 2 goes at it. Once when you start the quest, and once when you complete it.
I actually went east, continued on down the hill and there's a double mana spring and gold/experience chest there near the second sulphur mine. With doublse mana and extra experience, you should be able to take the sulphur mine and get a shrine built in the first week to boost your Dark Energy points.
I hired both hero straight away for extra troops and sent one with Arantir. After taking the sulphur mine, get the other hero to visit the seer mine and Hey Presto! Arantir is back, at this point grab all your troops and proceed west as in the walkthrough.
Anytime you wanna get back(or need those knights), Just visit the seer hut again and arantir will return.
I found it saved loads of time and used it just after i took the second castle. i had enough time to go up to the hill fort and take the gold mine b4 the end of week 2.
Edited on Thu, Nov 01 2007, 08:55 by travelingoz

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