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H7: Would you prefer 2D or 3D townscreens?
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Celestial Heavens  → Might & Magic: Heroes VI - Stronghold - The Good, the Bad, and the Bloody

by maltz

INTRODUCTION

The struggle between the slaves and slavers is not over yet. In this mission, Sandor sets sail to the Pao islands to establish his name among the Orcs. Depending on your path of Blood or Tear, you will be battling different opponents for the first half of the mission. You can also earn different Dynasty Weapons:

Sword of Whistlebone (Might) - Tear path
Thunder Staff (Magic) - Blood path
Malathua's Cleaver - both paths

You can hire all seven tiers of Stronghold creatures, but you can't upgrade any of them. Also, in my game, there seems to be a discount on creatures' weekly growth - the walls don't give the +creature effects. Nonetheless, this is an easy mission so it doesn't make a big difference. Also, you will be able to hire a lot of heroes cheaply (probably as soon as you defeat them).

Note: By the way, you might read about a serious "Tear path" bug online. This bug has been fixed by patch 1.2. So there is nothing to worry about now.

Stronghold Campaign Mission 2
Level cap: 17 (best guess)
Difficulty Index: 2/6
Last updated: December 26, 2011 (v1.2)


Dynasty Traits: Since you still can't hire upgraded creatures, you are destined to have a lot of gold and resource leftover. So again you can skip economic bonuses and go for the movement and battle bonus, and the traits that will let you spend more gold - creature growths.
Some of the islands on this map are divided by mountain ridges in the middle, so the map above shows the territory boundaries. At the very beginning of the mission, Sandor has to fight a very brief and easy battle consistent with the cut scenes in Sanctuary mission 1.

Then Sandor landed in the southeast corner at (start). Collect resources and follow the road south and west. Don't worry about the branch roads - there is nothing valuable, and you will be able to come back later. Cash all chests since there is a group of Centaurs for hire at (1). Continue the road west and you can trigger the story at (2). After the cut scene, Sandor is transported to Town A to the northwest.

Depending on your Sandor's Blood/Tear alignment, you have to fight different enemies. As this walkthrough follows the Tear path, Sandor's objective is to defeat the Red Stronghold faction that controls Town D. (If you follow the Blood path, you have to defeat the Yellow Stronghold faction that controls Town F.) The Red and Yellow Orcs fight each other fruitlessly around Town E. They both have literally thousands and thousands of resources (see picture below). The island of Town E will soon have its beach full of abandoned ships.

Sandor: "My dear ally! I have some gold to spare! Let's see what you have. You have... 1240 wood, 1270 ore, 635 crystals, 647600 gold... (cry)"

The game gives Sandor four months to defeat the Red Orc faction - that's a lot more than enough. Take your time to clear the surroundings of Town A, flagging the Sawmill, Ore Pit, and Crystal Mine (in the east). You can also flag a Lighthouse at (3). There will be lots of sailing in this mission, and this is just one of the three Lighthouses in this mission.

After you run out of things to do on the island, take the free ship on the beach and sail south. You should be able to capture Fort B very easily, and flag the creature building southwest of it. There is nothing you can do to the pointless hand-changing on the other side of the island yet.

Your passage to the outside world is the Whirlpool at (4), but don't go for it yet. Southwest of the Whirlpool is Fort C, where you can flag a Gold Mine, a Lighthouse, as well as visit a stats boost (s). If you have not done so, you can hire a secondary hero and build a ship for him/her to collect resources on the sea. Just like the Sanctuary campaign, there are lots of goodies on the sea.

After finishing all businesses in your backyard (Town A, Fort B, Fort C), collect all your creatures and go through the whirlpool at (4). Sandor should appear at the whirlpool close to the center of the map at (4'). Sail northeast all the way, pass the crater-ring (unfortunately, you don't fight any epic sea monster in this mission), and land on the northeast island where Town D is. The path to the town is blocked by a closed gate. The Red Orc sends its weak invasions with the one-way portal of (5-5').

In order to open the gate to Town D, you have to release three groups of slaves (SL) working at blood crystal mines. Their guards are all very weak, so there shouldn't be any problem at all. Upon releasing all slaves, your ally at Town F joins you unconditionally (but she does not bring any of her mountain loads of resources). And you should have a very easy time defeating the quest hero in Town D. In my game, this hero charged at Sandor during his turn, and was crushed even on auto-combat. Now how many months did you take to accomplish that? Less than two, or even one? Your reward for finishing this quest is a Dynasty weapon (a different weapon if you walk the Blood path).

You might still need to take Town E from the Red Orc if it happened to own it at this time. It is probably completely undefended, so even an army-less secondary hero can do it. However, upon the completion of your secondary quest, the Orange Orc (Sharka) awakes, and will start invading you through the two-way portal at (6-6'). If you own Town E, chances are that the first invasion will head straight to Town E. Later on, you can portal a bunch of cheap secondary heroes to Town E and enjoy the free ships. There are so many things to collect from the sea.

The second half of this mission is to slowly take over the remaining towns and forts while minding the periodic, weak invasions from the Orange Orc. Town G will join you when Sandor goes over after the Red Orc is defeated. This also unlocks the tier-6 creature building (Jaguar Warrior). When you have Jaguar Warriors in the army, the AIs will ignore the Centaurs and instead target the Jaguar Warriors, so your Reinforcement II should go to them.

You can unlock the tier-7 creature building (Cyclops) by heading to the cool-looking Cyclops hero at (7), just northwest of Fort H. You can get there either by sailing or walking from Town G. The Cyclops army that challenges you is extremely weak especially considering how much progress you have made at this point. After the battle the Cyclops hero walks away - maybe he will join Sandor on the Blood path?

Unfortunately, the Cyclops creature building is a very bad investment in this mission. First, they are very expensive. Second, you can't upgrade them, so its growth will be shamefully low (1 per week per town). In my game, this mission was over a few days after I finally had 10 Cyclops (solving this quest already gave me 3). Just spend the cash to buy the best artifacts.

Now you can take some time to clean up areas that you think might contain useful artifacts and accumulate some EXP. This mission's creature stacks are all quite small (a mission 2 with mission 1 enemy), so it is likely that you can't see the level cap by the time it ends. There are two Shrine of Seven Dragons (SD) you can pay to level up. The first one is just north of the crater. The area surrounding Town G is also very disappointing.

When you have finished all businesses here, gather all your army and pass the two-way portal at (6-6'). You can quickly conquer Fort I from the Orange Orc. There are three more stats boost in this area - two on the same island, one on the small volcano island to the northeast. You can use a free ship waiting for you at (8).

Soon you will again run out of things to do. One more enemy left - Sharka. So march everything you have to Town J and finish him! Enjoy one more Dynasty Weapon!
Comments

Sir_Toejam at 2013-07-30 03:49 wrote:
"Don't worry about the branch roads - there is nothing valuable, and you will be able to come back later. "

gotta disagree here. It's worth taking the extra week to collect all the resources in the beginning area before triggering the move to the NW. There are more troops you can win at a small arena, an artifact behind the cyclops, and a lighthouse that will come in handy, plus you need every scrap of wood and stone you can lay your hands on, and cash besides. If you do that, you can build harpy and dreamwalkers in the first week of owning your town, and hire a secondary hero to start collecting loose stuff and exploring (you should have 3 days of building available to you; recruit secondary hero first, then build dreamwalkers, then harpies). Ignore Maltz here and clear the entire area before triggering the convo with Sharka. really really. the units you make that week complement those you get from local events perfectly.

other noteworthy things:

there are only about half the full complement of heroes available at the tavern, and they have half sized armies as well. Guess the place really is isolated :)

Cyclops grow normally now, with the platinum bonus to champ growth, plus 2 cyclops dens, I had 13 in my first week. :)

Also disagree with not putting points into counterattack. Once you get jaguars, as Maltz notes, the ai will target them. how to make real use of that? why by not only reinforcing them, but using them as your shock troops with counterattack III! amazing amounts of damage on the first turn, and the reinforcements will nearly double their stack size, making it even unlikely you will need to heal them.


about diplomacy: The point of getting diplomacy is mostly just for reducing the costs of recruiting passive stacks. There is a tiny chance you might sway a stack to join you if you army isn't overwhelming in size, but really, the main thing is just to reduce costs, which can be astronomical for large neutral stacks. If you go tears route, you can cut costs by around 25%. That really comes in handy in certain places, for example Irina's campaign, map 4, which indeed has a couple of huge neutral stacks that would cost more money than you have at the time if you rushed to go and recruit them. It ends up being a case of literally have to change strategies if you don't have diplomacy at that point. Just an example of the idea that diplomacy is not useless, but it IS very situational, and unlike previous heroes games, does not have a significant impact on whether a group will join you or not.

Edited on Tue, Jul 30 2013, 23:29 by Sir_Toejam
jaga at 2012-12-25 16:47 wrote:
I hit the road for Sharka right after defeating Acamas, but his troops are immense, 2 to 5 times of my same tier creatures. Even the auxiliary Sharka heroes crusading my towns have avoidably large troops. Presumably due to late conquering of Town D (in last 10 days).

ToniG at 2012-05-16 19:51 wrote:
@ capprice: Diplomacy is worthless. At least in H6. I've tried it with every faction and the result was the same. The troops that joined me were the ones scripted to do that.
capprice at 2012-01-28 08:55 wrote:
i can confirm on 1.2.1. Tear path /hard. Level cap is 17. Acamas did not follow.
Walls are adding creature growth.
Btw with 20% diplomacy, not a single big stack of neutrals offered to join, instead many fled. My army was way bigger, almost 1shot anything with centaurs. Is this skill working or what?
fair_n_hite_451 at 2012-01-18 03:04 wrote:
I can confirm that the issue with the walls not adding to creature growth has been fixed. I assume through a patch which came out after the walkthrough was posted ... but I went through the process of saving at week end, building the wall and comparing creatures available to hire on Day 1 (with no "week of ..." influence) just to be sure.

maltz at 2011-12-29 16:08 wrote:
Thanks for your information. A very easy way to level up your secondary hero is to give your main hero the Mentor ability BEFORE he/she reaches level II of Tear/Blood reputation. This way, you can both level up your secondary hero for free, and also remove the ability point spent on Mentor by the time you reach level II or Tear/Blood (by respecialize).

FreshHope at 2011-12-26 19:06 wrote:
Hi maltz, that is another great walkthru you've written. Thanks for all the hardwork to help out the community here :) I played the campaign order as suggested in the forum to make the storyline more fluid (not as per faction order as suggested in your Necropolis M1 intro). Incidentally, all my heroes have the same might/magic and blood/tear combination as per your walkthrus (even though they arent out yet except the Necropolis campaign), except for Sandor, which i went might/blood path (i was eyeing maxed out life drain with high dmg output/initiative feature of this faction).

The cool cyclop hero, Acamas, did follow me to M3. I'm suprised that he didnt follow you upon following tears path. I dont recall any convo pertaining to the blood/tear path in this mission.

Another note is the level cap. I did hit the level cap with Sandor after defeating Fort I, which was garrisioned by swarms of Centaurs and Dreamwalkers (that was pretty early, after owning Towns D, E, F, as i left all the neutral stacks alone and head straight to this Fort I so i can reduce Sharka's creature production and boost Sandor's in return). Upon discovering that Acamas will carry over to M3, i started to use him to fight all the remaining neutral stacks and collect all the stat boosters, and he also managed to hit lvl 17 before Sandor finished up Sharka. Both heroes i did not need to use the Shrine of the Seventh Dragon to reach their lvl caps. I completed this mission with patch v1.1.1, not sure if v1.2 changes all these. Cheers!
Edited on Mon, Dec 26 2011, 14:21 by FreshHope

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