I’ve made my way through that trials that were the faction Campaigns, and have emerged stronger for it. This trial is not for the faint of heart.
Stronghold was, as I said in the other article, one of the more fun campaigns, and thankfully it didn’t let up at any point. The first three maps lead smoothly to the fourth, which has a unique end game that forces you to play the game just a little different, changing up how the game ended.
The Stronghold units were balanced enough that I didn’t find the faction skewed towards might or magic heroes. The campaign rewards strongly favor might heroes though, giving me gauntlets, armor and weapons that were restricted to might only, thus diminishing some of the enjoyment I got out of completing certain quests.
The Faction play style was refreshing even for someone who has trudged through the 16+ maps to get here. The faction has a TON of melee capacity, even before you factor in the heroes skills and powers, which no other faction really capitalizes on. Inferno and Haven, the other two melee factions, approach melee with different styles, and I really think that Stronghold strikes the concept dead on the head for this game. The key to good melee is alpha striking, no retaliation attacks and Stronghold units delivers in spades.
Unlike the rest of the factions, the game play of Stronghold revolves around using all of your creatures. The core units are goblins, harpies and orcs, the elites are centaurs, orc shamans and Aztec themed ogres, and the champions are cyclopes. Whats unique about this set of units is that they are pretty bland before they are upgraded, but once upgraded, are perfectly built to execute the strongholds best tactic: axe to face.
Goblins and centaurs are ranged units, able to do a ton of damage with out retaliation, and the centaurs ability to take a free shot at the first enemy to close the distance with my army gave another retaliation-less attack. harpies, when upgraded to furies, attacked without retaliation. Jaguar Warriors, the ogres, when upgraded had a retaliationless charge attack that struck everyone adjacent when he ended his move. Orcs got a second, free, attack after the first and the retaliation that results from it, but did enough damage that I just often used them to finish off stacks. My favorites, however, were the Dreamwalkers and the Cyclopes. Dreamwalkers have the ability to curse units so that they take damage if they act, and the upgrade makes it affect the whole enemy army. With a magic hero like mine the effect was devastating and would be the first troop I upgraded to get the greatest output from them. The cyclops is definitely my second favorite champion unit behind the fate weaver. The basic unit is a melee beater,which works out alright, but the upgrade gives the damn beast magic laser-eyes. This attack does immense damage, has no range modifier, and burns for additional damage over time! It is right up my alley!
The whole setup lead to an extremely enjoyable campaign and a great bookend to the single player faction campaigns. I recommend doing them in order: Necropolis, Haven, Sanctuary, Inferno, Stronghold. It creates a flow that, while frustrating, starts strong, wanes in the middle, and finishes with oomph.
I’ve finally moved on to the final map(s). The game has two endings depending on what type of character you played, and with me playing both, I’ve got them each to play through. However, with XCOM: Enemy within snapping at my brain, I’ll probably just play the one.