I’m going to start this post with some data. This is all as of turn forty, which is midsummer in the fourth year of the game. Consider this image a summary of the story so far.
I said I didn’t want to storm the castle, but I also don’t want to wait. I probably won’t lose anything of real value, so storming it is. This’ll be a real interesting battle next turn. For now though, nothing really exciting is happening. Even seizing Gol Phalas was uneventful as there were no units there.
Oh, Helheim took Fomoria’s throne, though. That’s interesting. And it’s also very good. Fomoria was my biggest rival for winning this, and with him sieging Yomi’s capital, I’m worried that he could win before I can. Helheim is helping prevent that, and Yomi took his capital area back. Still, to ensure that my win is speedy, I have a guy forging a water bracelet and then he’ll empower himself, so that I can get bishop fish ready to claim thrones all at once when I need them. My pretender should be here soon, but having a fish ready in each province would be quicker and cheaper than having a blood fountain teleport around anyway.
Niefelheim sent me twenty earth gems for the hammer (a good deal) and this message.
Seems like feeling things out and building rapport was a big part of his goal too. That means asking if I could make something, which would obviously be well within my abilities, was likely a matter of flattery rather than of underestimating me. I don’t actually plan to go to any war after defeating Niefelheim, because I plan to have won then. But obviously I’m not going to tell him that, and if I were to war just based viability and lust for land, Helheim would be a great target, because look at this:
That’s four provinces that are my clay du jour, that are pretty much undefended, and that are more accessible from my heartland than from his. And I could easily attack from Cun Aral to Gintmark then march through the Cloudcap Spires straight to Helheim Capital, while small armies or thugs take the other provinces. Anyway, I give him a somewhat longer message, since he was chattier earlier, even taking things to steamchat which is an unusually gregarious thing to do.
Anyway, on to the big story of the turn. The assault of Niefelheim. On my side, what may well be the largest army ever amassed in NEETONLY. Note also the wall right in front of our noses.
On his side… Basically the same as last time, except that the chaff is gone and now his pretender is here. I wasn’t counting on that. Pretenders are kind of a big deal.
That’s a lot of damage right off the bat. It doesn’t kill my pigs (though the stones from his towers took out a couple) but it does kill a bunch of Sequani. The worst mage casualties I’ve had all game, and I haven’t even had a chance to cast yet. There’s also a dead druid. One dead druid doesn’t necessarily matter, but this dead druid does, because it was his job to case Light of the Northern Star. That means all my Sequani, unable to cast Stellar Cascades, are now off-script. So they faf about with body ethereal. Some of them, the wise ones perhaps, decide this is already a good time to flee.
Well, it is what it is. The boars flood through the gate and quickly meet Irminsul. I at first suspected that he just spawned this turn, or Niefelheim would have moved him further back, but he’s got earth gems in his possession so that can’t be.
The pigs push through and quickly meet the tree. It would seem that they are very excited at the prospect of killing a god.
They remain like that for several turns. Here’s what Irminsul looks like in that picture there:
He started with 300 HP, and as you’d expect goes down the round after that.
Every single one of my mages is now ethereal, lucky, and has a twisted fate.
Good for them, I guess. The glowing one also has an astral shield.
Back up among the people that matter, the pigs have taken out a few giants.
That bane is the one who won the tournament by default, incidentally. He’s got a swank sword from that and no other gear. He’s lost 15 of his 25 HP so far, which isn’t bad considering he’s killing people more than twice his size.
Eventually, the boars start to run.
And then we go into full rout. The mages escape safely but the boars need to pass the siege towers again, and some are frozen in place due to fatigue or ice. Those ones, of course, are butchered. But they take one giant with them despite it, not by themselves but because one of the boulders from the towers had bad aim.
This is the biggest loss in the game. Look at what it did to my army graph:
I lost 1448 gold, three turns of boars, and all my undead curiosities except for the one I would have liked to lose since it spreads disease. What’s more, the surviving ones mostly have afflictions. By contrast, Niefelheim lost 3130 gold, a hero, and his pretender. Most of the damage he did was from Earthquake, which came from his pretender, so defeating it means I’ll have a better chance of killing him in a future assault. Of course, it also means I’ll have a better chance of killing him via domkill, which would be more economical but would tie up my sieging army much longer. For now I’m keeping both options open as I look to the future.
Right now my research goal is Bishop Fish. There’s two reasons I want them. One of them is that they can preach at Niefelheim and contribute to domkill, without using up fort turns for recruitment. The main reason I want them, though, is to station them at captured but unclaimed thrones, so I can win all at once. Or, once my imminent victory becomes apparent, so I can claim them and get their benefits. Though that would be less elegant than claiming three thrones and winning, all in one turn. Anyway, to that end I’ve created a water booster and will empower a gutuater with a W random since (unless I get very lucky with an elder druid’s randoms very soon) that’s the only way for me to get a W3 caster. I also need Conjuration 6 though, and I only have 5. That’ll take me three turns to correct.
Now, besides the one seige, let’s look back to the war.
I’ve mostly controlled the south, and the palisade at Boddern Weald was completed. I’m gonna stick a temple there because the more temples the better. Further west, there’s a dillema: Niefelheim has a fort, but it’s besieged by the undead and he has no way to claim it. That means I could just leave that fort be and it wouldn’t matter, my army could go north and work on Niefelheim’s heartland. But if I take the western fort, that means I have a fort there, and that pass seems pretty important. For one thing, since this is a wraparound map, it’s only two provinces from my East, and could therefore become important to transit if I go to war with Fomoria. Current diplomacy makes that seem unlikely in the foreseeable future, but it’s still nice to be ready. It’s also right next to Caelum, which is a valuable province. Unfortunately it’s mostly valuable in gems that I have little use for.
You might notice that I have Niefelheim still under siege, that’s because my other bane (the one with the thug kit that I got off of Niefelheim’s fallen thugs) was already going there anyway. The survivors from the last fight will head up there, though they have only fifty boars. If Niefelheim tries to break out, he won’t have his god to cast Earthquake so more’s the better for me; he’ll fail. Otherwise, it’ll be three turns until I get enough boars there that I feel comfortable assaulting again. That’ll be about three hundred boars, so it should be enough.
Oh, one last thing. Guess who showed up in my capital:
I don’t actually need my pretender for anything besides the bless and scales, but he can contribute to research. I mentioned before that I might empower it to S3 (or rather, S2 and add a crystal coin) in order to teleport around and claim thrones, but I’ll wait a while because bishop fish would make that unnecessary. I’ll only teleport my pretender, then, if it seems like I can’t get bishop fish into position quickly enough.
Although I suppose I could also teleport the bishop fish, that would save 20 astral pearls since I could just empower once and then give it both a coin and a skullcap.
Well, I don’t think Niefelheim expected me to just fix my army and come right back. He tried to break siege. I don’t understand why he hasn’t been sending troops from his other two forts, but so it goes. He also should have spammed Earthquake instead of only casting it once.
He’s moved his units up far enough to be in the same screenshot. There’s four gygjas behind, along with his vampire and a random gode with a frost brand. Tjatse has thug gear now too. Anyway, I’m defender so the battery goes off before anything else. Since I have to use an elder druid later in the casting order (due to the death of his predecessor) there’s a lot more star fires now.
My cavalry try to actually attack rear like they’re supposed to, since the line is small enough to make that viable for once, but get distracted by the wealth of easy targets. Other than that, my plan is working pretty much as intended, with lots of niefel giants already fatigued out. The pigs, despite small numbers, make short work of the giants. Of course, the damage from fatigue overflow helps a lot too. I get his whole front line and manage to catch some of the back before they flee.
Gold calculations don’t even matter at this point. He lost everything, I lost nothing. Since there’s no real cost (two gygjas and a vampire? Not important) I’m going to go ahead and storm the castle. I also took out the zombies on that eastern castle without breaking a sweat, and there’s nobody in it so I’m storming that too.
In diplomatic news, Fomoria is being a tool and waiting as long as possible on turns and refusing to take a double turn when he’s the last one, which he has been frequently. The assumed motivation is pure salt, as he’s also been complaining heavily about Helheim’s advances against him.
Niefelheim was taken without resistance. All that remained was the vampire, which fled immediately, and a gygjas. Now hopefully I can advance to the north and get the thrones I need to win. I’ve got some reinforcements coming up, so I’ll use them to take and hold the throne nearest me. The other one, Niefelheim has taken for some reason. So that’ll be that much easier on me. Here’s the plan for the next three turns.
Having the reinforcements meed with me at Cerne will allow me to take the throne without undue losses. Next turn I will be able to summon a bishop fish, and it will be able to arrive at Cerne one turn after my forces do. I will then be able to send my army rushing straight for the western throne at Rivia, which should allow me to seize victory by the summer of next year. It is now, incidentally, mid fall in the year 4 of the ascension wars.