The Jackal From Below

Turn 42

It is now fall in the fourth year of the ascension wars. Soon winter will set in, saving my olms from the unpleasant heat of my strong dominion. That won’t help me navigate the mountain passes of the Magewall and Crystalmist mountains, which I’m picking off as they fall by the wayside in the various conflicts involving Tíen Chí, Lanka, Mictlan, Hinnom, and Ulm, because those lands are too cold already. And navigating the periphery of a war is fraught with peril at the best of times. So far though, I’ve been conservative in my actions and the result is that I have lost nothing and gained something, even if not that much. My gains won’t leave me though, and with my scales they’ll only become better over time. Since I’m managing to do this without pissing off any major power, it’s actually very nice. I do risk pissing off Hinnom if I take too much in Ulm, but here’s how he’s feeling about that war now:
taking casualties in this situation makes you shit tbh
If I was him I wouldn’t acknowledge taking casualties against such a pathetic enemy, but anyway he’ll hopefully not be too mad to see me getting involved if it’s bothering him this much.
Here’s the region according to my scouts, although more of them die here in than the rest of the world put together, because of the high-PD nature of AI wars:basically the balkans
Tíen Chí is the big guy here. They ate up Lanka in the northwestern part of this map section, but they lost steam as they deverted forces to fight Mictlan instead. If I can hear the mountains enough to thaw passes and move freely, I can swoop down and get that Lanka land before the Chinese do. On the eastern part, and further east than this excerpt shows, is Tíen Chí’s serious war. The bulk of their power is here, and if some other major power would just attack them, Tíen Chí would probably fall. But it would be a long and hard descent, and nobody wants to commit to that. Further south and mostly unrelated, Hinnom (who teleported in via that gate there) is waging a war against AI Ulm. A troop surge would end this for them, but I think the troops that surge in are going to be mine. I’m also at war with Ulm, but the AI’s brain can’t counter a decent army backed with ulms, even if I don’t commit any mages. That means I can scavenge Ulmish provinces with impunity. Here’s what happens when they try to stop me:
lel ulm
Closer to home, I had my first clash of the game: Took Ene Umrul the same turn that Marverni tried to. They wanted to go through there to try to reach and fight Pangaea, because he’s downright unlikable fellow. Lately he’s been going on about how his goats are pure virgins because recuperation means their hymens regrow. But I’m not letting Marverni through my lands, I’d probably not get them back without a fight and anyway I’d like to take Pan’s lands some day too.
I also got some thrones. Here’s the first one:
suffering
I already have maximum order, and I don’t really need more resources. That means I’d be accepting a point of misfortune for 2% income boost and three temple checks. It’s not worth it. Speaking of temple checks by the way, I have 25 of them now and domstrength 9. I haven’t been skimping on temples.
isolatedThis is the other temple. This is the one that I was able to take with a scout, because the AI doesn’t know how to deal with heat auras. The downside is that I can’t really do anything with it yet, because it’s totally isolated. Still, I’ve got my scout building a fort there. Depending on how my war with Ulm goes, it’ll either be ready to receive a mage to build temples and a lab, or it’ll start sending out parties to claim the land around it. Without a temple I can’t make the extremely efficient olm-based parties I like, but I’ll still be able to do something. Once I do claim this throne, the benefit is nice. The growth is meaningless since I’m at maximum growth, and the gems and temple checks are nice but not essential, but the precision boost is great. Agarthan mages are very good but often limited in combat by poor precision. It’s enough of a problem that it’s worth it to take a minor air bless for. This will give me that boon for free.
These two thrones also put me up to eleven victory points (once they’re both claimed) which puts me at almost half of the 26 needed to win. Not bad considering I’m definitely not one of the major powers in expansion or income.

Turn Forty-Four

Marverni whines to me about a bump last turn. I tell him to go through Ur instead. That would actually probably be easier for him since Vecna is on the route he wants to take through my land.
Hinnom blocked off my route out of the mountains to ulmish land, perhaps on purpose, which means that I only get a couple Ulmish provinces above ground, but also that this war will be, on my part, short and cheap. Assuming I don’t attack the jews directly, of course, which I don’t really have any need to.

Turn Forty-Five

Here’s a little expansion plan:
haven't done one of these in a while
Ulm’s troops took back what I took last turn on the surface, so my veteran group in this arena is retaking it then finishing off Ulm’s territories to the north of the Drow kingdom. After that, they’ll take care of some easterly provinces that are otherwise unattended. At that point, I’ll reevaluate combat readiness based on casualties. My stack with the prophet is going to enter the drow kingdom proper and go on to the throne I claimed, whereupon he’ll receive reinforcements from the throne that’s in progress there. He’ll then double back to seige the prebuilt fortress where the Drow are at, and after that there’s a good handful of local provinces to mop up. My third group, in green, is just going to mop up otherwise unattended provinces, then go back, receive some reinforcements that I’ll have in progress shortly, and then assault Mindflayer’s Lake, which will take a substantial force. It probably has a prediscovered site which will allow mindflayers. If I’m lucky, that will include their mages, breaking me into astral.
This turn, Greyhawk – the great city for for which this map’s franchise is named – was claimed by Kailasa.
taking the title
Kailasa’s forces include a considerable quantity of sacreds (his bless is N9E4), a healthy quantitiy of typical troops, and his god. Allegedly, Kailasa is the wealthiest nation right now, and he does have some expensive mage support set up. His tactics don’t seem to be well thought out though, everything’s just a messy blob. The independents are similar:
indies
A bunch of generic chaff, but headed by powerful mages. Zorphion was feebleminded by age, but Mordenkainen is impressive still:
mordenkainen
Kailasa starts by setting up a communion, slaving yogis to gurus and boosting their magic substantially. They cast an eccentric array of spells no more cohesive than what the AI would do, while Mordenkainen buffs his troops with air shield and fire missiles, then goes on to use attacking spells. As the lines close in the gate, his pretender, who slipped through early, goes on a cheerful rampage among the Grewhawk archers.
cheerful
Kailasa takes heavy casualties to flaming arrows, and is unable to pass Greyhawk’s knights at the gate, though they have some ranged capacity that takes out the Greyhawk militiamen waiting around it for their time in the sun. Still, Kailasa could well have lost this battle if it weren’t for their god, who slaughtered archers until the forces of Greyhawk broke and fled. Even so, the bull got down to 75 HP out of 398, so it was a pretty risky strategy, if it even was an intentional strategy. Once the armies broke through though, Mordenkainen, turned into a dragon and fought to the death, which was apparently a worthwhile endeaevor even if he didn’t win the day, because at least he took the bull with him.

Turn Forty-Six

Good news and bad news. The good news is, Ulm took the province that was blocking me off from the rest of their lands. So I can take at least one more province there. It means I need to revisit my expansion plan slightly, but no big deal. Here’s the bad news:
EBDW
I was planning to do that. Now I’m going to have to massively overcast it to ensure that I actually get (and keep) it. I’m only waiting on a blood stone that I purchased from Niefelheim. I paid some turns ago and he hasn’t sent it yet. Last turn he told me he forgot to forge it, and now he says he’s sending it now. So next turn I can cast EBDW but his slowness has cost me quite a bit. Two other global spells were cast today. Here’s the new lineup:
cheeky

Turn Forty-Seven

I finally got the bloodstone I ordered. Time to use it:
expensive
I’m overcasting heavily, but I want this to succeed. If it does, it’ll pay for itself in a dozen turns, and I expect to be here for longer than that. If it doesn’t, it’ll beggar me. But I suspect that Kailasa didn’t overcast it, or overcast only slightly, since it’s hard to imagine that he could have had my level of earth income and probably didn’t expect I was right on his heels with it.

In other news, Hinnom tells me he’s going to retake the province I just captured. Probably not worth going to war over, but I made fun of him obliquely without addressing the issue. Perhaps more importantly:
Niefel
Niefelheim is in me caves! I’m going to have to divert my closest army to mopping up before he can. With luck there isn’t a dedicated expansion party there, but I bet he’s going for that throne. This is a problem because I want it. I want all thrones, of course, but thrones in the caverns should be mine by right. The army I’m diverting is the prophet army that I wanted to claim the throne of the moon, but I guess it’ll have to wait.

Turn Forty-Eight

I successfully cast Earth Blood Deep Well. This may have put me on the radar for Hinnom, which will put me on the radar for everyone since most people get their intelligence from the Jews. And speaking of everyone’s greatest ally,
jews
Perhaps he is doing this out of hopes to motivate me to acknowledge his claim in the mountains. However, because Niefelheim is down there anyway, he’s actually only affecting my access to two provinces. Those provinces probably have a sum total of like 40 income, while the one mountain province has more than 100. I’m going to remain diplomatically silent.

Turn Forty-Nine

Hinnom sent me a message telling me he’s mopping up Ulm. This is true. He also offered me the province he’s holding underground – perhaps he only took it as a bargaining chip. At any rate, I’ll be taking that in a couple turns when I have an appropriately situated army. Not gonna send him a message though, silence may serve me well.

Niefelheim is traveling through the teleporters, which resulted in a clash. I’m not sure what he seeks to gain by this. THe possibilities are attack me, attack Xibalba, or go through the Temple of Elemental Evil to gain access to Kailasa and Tíen Chí. None of those options seem particularly useful. Perhaps he just wants the Temple for prestige reasons.

In terms of expansion, this turn went well. Five provinces. Scouts checked out Greyhawk Catacombs, which looks doable. There’s lots of undead but only a few units with minds, which means a great big mess of olms will work well. Problem is those catacombs, as well as Old Greyhawk Castle, which has a throne, have a great big monkey armies right above them. My expanders found Lolth, in the south. I’m not going to focus on her but I’ll send a scout to see what her force composition is.

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