I have finally beat Heroes of Might and Magic VI, and it could not come a moment to soon. By the end of the day tomorrow, I will own XCOM: Enemy within, and will be playing that whenever my daughter does not need attention.

The game has two endings, corresponding with the two reputation paths that every hero can take: Blood and Tears.

The Blood ending has you chasing down the faceless, and the Tears ending has you confronting the angels. You can only play each with heroes that followed the corresponding reputation path. The endings seem a little mixed up, as the faceless are considered evil, and the Angels good, but the blood reputation is the less noble, offensive choice that ends up going after the evil guys, with the noble, defensive path assaulting the angles.

The first ending I tackled was the Blood ending, because I really wanted to play my super-powered Necromancer Nerina again. I knew I had gone out of my way to make her personally powerful in ways that I just didn’t have the tolerance for in later campaigns. It turns out, and I never bothered to research and had to have a friend tell me, that the Hero lends a portion of their personal power to each of their units. Nerina had so much Magic Power at the end that the Liches, Fatespinners and Specters were doing massive amounts of damage. This lead to the actual map, in which you fight each faction in succession except for Inferno, pretty simple. I took massive stacks of Liches and Fatespinners and just launched a massive magical fusillade at enemy until they crumpled. It was stupendously glorious. Sanctuary was first, and went down swiftly, followed by Stronghold, Haven and then Necropolis. The final battle had Cate, your mother and Dragon Knight of the Faceless, Turn into a giant dragon (she may have summoned it, to be honest, it wasn’t very clear.) I sent everything I had at her, doing a significant portion of her heath with most of my army. The final unit to act was the champion unit, Fatespinners, who critically hit, doing over 1/3 of her hp in a single blow. The Fatespinners acted at the start of the next round and crit again, putting away the Shadow Dragon once and for all. It tool me, all told. 1 round and 1 action to drop her. I was exalted because I’d actually blasted her off the planet so fast it wasn’t funny.

The Tears campaign was a completely opposite type of campaign that I happened to pick the right faction. You fight against Haven the whole time, and you have almost no resources (mines, crystals, lumbermills) other than what the neutral mobs hold. This causes you to fight a strange war where you don’t ever really fight the enemy faction, you just spend the time running around blowing up hapless neutrals to get their resources and gold, which you then convert to resources. Thankfully I picked Haven as my faction, mostly because the only other faction I could play in this one was my Sanctuary Magic hero, and I had just done that.Haven, however, allowed me to just occupy the opponents towns and forts and use them immediately. I have no idea how I would have made it if I was playing a faction that, using the limited resources of the map, had to constantly spend them not to advance my faction, but to convert the enemy forts I captured to some form of usable condition. With the goal being to take and hold a single fort, haven was singularly capable with their defensive oriented suite of abilities, along with the might abilities that I had taken. The whole of the map was confusing, without really any way to know what was going on. However, in the end, you get to mangle the Archangel Michael, and it is very satisfying to beat his smug face into the earth.

Between the two, I found the Tears/Faceless battle much more satisfying. Honestly The blood and tears path concept was really intriguing the first campaign I played, but after that felt unassumingly boring. The main method you get blood points for casting offensive spells and other direct-damage related abilities. You can also get them from choosing power over defense in the Libraries (Magic) and Arenas (Might), and sometimes from quests. The final way of getting blood points was in pursuing enemies that fled. This is extremely tiresome, as each fight has the capacity to take a significant amount of time, deplete your mana and your units if played wrong, and waste map-based buffs that you keep until your next combat. This proved to be extra frustrating because every time you choose not to pursue them, you gained tears points, which is very counterproductive. Tears points are gained in the exact opposite manner as Blood: Casting defensive spells and abilities, Choosing defensive bonus’ at Libraries and Arenas, and from letting fleeing monsters live. This would be a great boon, except that almost all of the good Tears abilities are passives, and most of the spells were terrible. This lead to a stagnation of reputation points and conflicted gains. I was very disappointed with this part of the game, to say the least.

Overall, however, The game was a fun play. I really wish I had known more about how to play the game before I started, as it would have made the game much more playable. I really wish, as well, that there was a resource for the game as a whole, as I’ve not found a single site that is even remotely useful to the theory and play of the game. I’d give it a solid 7 out of 10. There are some problems, I’m not going to lie, but overall, its been what I wanted from it, though a bit longer and drawn out than I would have liked.

now.

XCOM, Enemy within is downloaded and ready to play when I get home!

Stronghold Conquered!

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.

The Sanctuary faction in Heroes 6 is pretty cool. I will say I was initially all bad mouth on the Sanctuary models, but after using them, I’m really fond of them. Sharks-at-Arms, Naga, Medusa, Water and snow spirits, and Frogmen? The Champion creature, each factions biggest and baddest, is the Kirin, which looks neat, has a huge hit pool, and comes out very fast.

It is much better than Haven, and almost on par with Necropolis in terms of fun factor. The elite naga troopers are pretty terrible which makes me sad though. The big problem is that they are on par with the Haven’s griffon troopers in terms of durability and damage output: which is to say both of them are 0. It is a huge disappointment for both of tthe units, as they are fantastic looking troopers. The upgraded Kenshi/Kensi is a four armed, katana wielding snake man! What is cooler than that? And Haven’s only Non-Humanoid creature is the Griffon, who leaps into the air and diving-assaults people! But both are extremely weak defensively, to the point where core units can break them apart, and their damage output against other elites just isn’t there either. Both have been relegated to the sidelines unless I could stack an enormous amount of them.

Also, My favorite unit, Coral Priestesses, get the hell shelled out of them by the opponent, causing me no end of grief. I only have one or two ranged units, and having one of them burned out by the opponent as fast as possible has been really frustrating.

I’ve made it to map 4, and I’m about to tear Gerharts heart out of his chest, which, for me, is just about as awesome as it gets. I also got to toy around with the Stronghold faction, in the last map, and that got me really pumped to play them.

A Couple Mid-game Observations

Extra Heroes seem redundant unless you need to transport armies. The Enemy armies are just to large for you to be splitting your troops

Chain Lightning seems like a game breaker, but It could just be a factor to try and get the area cleared better and easier.

Water as a spell school is terrible. Air is Amazing.

There are tons of ways to increase your Magic Power stat, but very few to raise you’re Might Power.

There is no good online Resource. Maybe I’ll make one.

Also, on Sunday I traded my perfectly fine, painted bane thralls for unpainted unassembled ones. This’ll be the 3rd time I have done this. I hope this one turns out as successful as the first two.