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