Difference between revisions of "DescentIntoDarkness"

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However, it is possible to avoid all that if you wish. Once you find your castle, just recall at least two Nightgaunts, three to be safe, and send them up the main passageway. They can kill the troll leader before he knows what hit him, leading to an instant victory.
However, it is possible to avoid all that if you wish. Once you find your castle, just recall at least two Nightgaunts, three to be safe, and send them up the main passageway. They can kill the troll leader before he knows what hit him, leading to an instant victory.
===Eternal Night===
===Endless Night===
* Objectives: Defeat the foolish hero
* Objectives: Defeat the foolish hero
* Lose if: Mal Keshar is destroyed
* Lose if: Mal Keshar is destroyed

Revision as of 04:41, 15 December 2017

Campaign-level notes

Recruitment Strategy

'Ghosts will be a useful part of your force, and it's a good idea to allocate some experience to leveling them up. Now, while both the Wraith and Shadow units are nice advancements generally, in this particularly campaign it is especially useful to have at least 4 Shadows available for recall by a certain scenario.

Saving Parthyn

  • Objective: Defend the ford for two nights
  • (Alternative Objective: Kill the enemy leader)
  • Lose if: Malin Keshar or Drogan die
  • Turns: 15
  • Starting units: Malin Keshar, two Spearmen and a Bowman
  • New Recruitment options: Walking Corpse (8 Gold).

Your starting level is a small section of the Abez, with a ford between the South and Northern side. Your starting fort is just to its south, the L2 Orc Warrior enemy leader's - slightly farther away to its north. To your west, Drogan occupies another fort.

While the Orc leader has more money than you, you have a triple advantage on him:

  1. You start with a small initial force while your adversary begins with an empty fort.
  2. The scenario starts at Dawn, so the daily cycle gives you protection in turns 2 and 3, and is not too bad on turn 4.
  3. You have the ability to recruit walking corpses. Now, true, a Walking Corpse is a rather pathetic unit, but:
    • They're super-cheap
    • You get another one for every kill - and since they're typically numerous, you can probably get one of them to make the kills
    • They make the awesome Orcish Grunts ineffective, in that they can only kill one Walking Corpse per turn, so their 22 damage (at night) is not sunk into units you need to keep alive. And if your Corpse did make it somehow, a kill will heal it as it levels up
    • They level into Soulless. These are still weaklings at 28 HP, but at least they can be punishing at 27 maximum melee damage; Orcs have no impact resistance.

So you'll want to send your Parthyners North to block the ford - while recruiting as many Walking Corpses as you can to back them up later. You can take the opposite riverbank by rushing with your Human units, but may get pushed back. That's okay, just try not to fight in the water while the enemy stands on the bank, or you will be at a disadvantage. If you're on Difficult - don't panic: once Drogan's troops arrive, they should make short work of the Orcs; if you're on Easy or Medium, you should be able to take them on yourself and your small horde of Corpses.

The scenario will end early if the Orc leader is killed - which you should definitely try and make happen. Those corpses don't spawn for free after all...

Spoiler: Your Spearmen and Bowman are Loyal, but don't bother trying to level them, because you lose them forever (sob) at the end of this scenario. Also, all your recruits are Walking Corpses, and they are almost never worth recalling (except after having been somehow both leveled and AMLA'ed several times, and close to AMLA'ing again so they will heal on impact - and this won't happen here). So if you're thinking about collecting experience for anyone - it should be yourself (Malin). Still, you do want to have the Walking Corpses do most of your kills, since that will give you an extra Corpse.

A Peaceful Valley

  • Objectives: Occupy all of the Goblin villages
  • Lose if: Malin Keshar or Darken Volk die or time runs out
  • Turns: 29/26/23 (easy/medium/hard)
  • Starting units: Malin Keshar and Darken Volk
  • New Recruitment options: Vampire Bat (13 Gold)

In this small map you are tasked with occupying a Goblin settlement: The Western half of the level is full of village hexes. The settlement is guarded by an L2 Goblin Knight in the mid-North of the level, who recruits (Goblin) Wolf Riders, Goblin Spearmen and Goblin Rousers. He's not too rich, but don't underestimate him.

The villages hold rather nasty surprises: 0 to 2 Goblins will spring out of each village you capture, including those that you recapture. Thus the key is not to capture villages quickly, but rather to clear all defenders and kill the leader, allowing you to gang up on villages gradually. Ironically, this will allow you to capture all the villages more quickly than with a greedy approach.

In this level you will be able recruit Bats in addition to Walking Corpses. Bats are generally very useful creatures to have:

  • They're effective scouts: Flying allows them to ignore otherwise-unfriendly terrain, and they have 8 (later 9) movement points.
  • They're good at remote village capture
  • While they aren't skirmishers, their mobility often makes it possible for them to fly around part of an enemy line and attack vulnerable units. They're similarly often able to flee to safety after having engaged.
  • They're one of the few Undead-associated units which are not vulnerable to Arcane attacks.

... but in this scenario, they won't be useful to you: It's a small map, the villages are close rather than remote, and your L1 Vampire Bat will have a hard time with the spawning Goblin guards. You could theoretically recruit a Bat intending to just level it up for later recall, but there's XP to distribute elsewhere.

If not Bats, then - it's the Walking Corpse horde again. They'll be up against units with low HP and damage, so a few of them could even take out a Goblin, especially with some terrain advantage (but caution is advised, especially on Hard difficulty). Also, the replenishment of your ranks by the dead Goblins is important here - snowball your forces. Finally, place Walking Corpses as cheap captured-village guards to prevent retaking by a convergence of the Goblin forces. You'll appreciate the irony of the dead Goblins continuing the same guard duty they were assigned to before, only this time on your behalf.

As you begin the level, Volken suggests you visit the swamp. That's a good idea, but don't do this before maxing out your Gold with WC recruitment, as the swamp is more than a turn's walk away, and you need those troops early. You see, the enemy leader will send out an attack wave, starting to hit you by turn 3 or so. In fact, the Goblin Knight leader himself is likely to join this raid, despite it being out of sight of its fort - something you may not be used to from other campaigns. He'll likely retreat soon enough (even if he's not badly hurt), so don't focus on him. You should have many Walking Corpses to set up a defensive line along the edge of the forested region to the North-West of your fort - this will give you a terrain advantage. Alternatively, you could let the enemy units come further South, into the forest, buying an extra turn before they hit you for a better defensive bonus for them. Anyway, if you support your WCs with Malin and Volken you should be fine.

As the first attack subsides, have Malin visit the swamp (no need for Volken to do so as well). You'll be introduced to Ghouls - and get 3 of these for free. The only caveat is that it takes them a few turns to move out of the swamp. These can soak up some damage when you counter-attack, or if a Wolf Riders comes down South again. When the tide turns, remember: Easy on the villages; eyes on the enemy leader (which Malin and Volken should take care of).


  • Not all Goblin village hexes are on the grassy plain: There are 2 in the hills/Montains to the NW of the enemy leader's fort, one near your own fort (that one's revealed to you when you start out), and one that's very easy to miss to the North-East of the level, North of the Swamp. Make sure you plan your village sweep to include those.
  • It's difficult to get through this level without the Ghouls, so don't wait too long before visiting the swamp
  • As in the previous scenario - don't bother trying to level-up the Walking Corpses. Almost-leveling up a Ghoul could be useful, and/or giving Malin more experience.

A Haunting in Winter

  • Objectives: Clear the cave of enemies
  • Lose if: Malin Keshar or Darken Volk die, or time runs out
  • Turns: 36/34/32 (easy/medium/hard)
  • Starting units: Malin Keshar and Darken Volk
  • New Recruitment options: Ghoul (16 Gold) Ghost (20 Gold).

It's important to not get bottled up in the passageway prior to the central chamber, or you will burn up a lot of turns. Use Ghosts to speedily enter the chamber. After a certain point, you are going to split your forces, with Ghosts heading to the Dwarves in the northeast and your two leaders and ground forces headed to the outlaws in the southwest. So, you should recruit a lot of Ghosts, at least five. Bats are useful to snatch up villages.

This scenario is a good opportunity to gain experience for your Ghosts. With foresight, make it a priority to level a Ghost or two into Shadows. Your Ghosts can get easy experience from killing the Dwarves as they wade through the swamp in the northeast, and you should be able to level one or more to Shadows. Then you can use a Shadow or two, accompanied by a Ghost or two, to kill the Dwarven leader. Also note that there are two routes to the Dwarven leader. One is through the swamp, but you can also send flying units over the chasm to the south of the swamp and attack the Dwarves on two fronts.

Spoiler: At one point in this scenario, a special event occurs: one of your Ghosts will rebel and run off to the outlaw's keep. For each turn until you kill him, another of your units will rebel. You'll want to keep all of your Ghosts close by until one rebels, and then kill the rebel quickly. So, delay your Dwarf hunting expedition until the rebellion occurs, or recruit several Ghosts and keep them together so that the rest can subdue the one that goes rogue.

Beginning of the Revenge

  • Objectives: Either Defeat the Orc leaders, or move Malin Keshar to the mountain pass
  • Lose if: Malin Keshar or Darken Volk die, or time runs out
  • Turns: 36
  • Starting units: Malin Keshar and Darken Volk
  • New Recruitment options: Skeleton, Skeleton Archer.

Note that the scenario ends when both orc leaders are dead; you do not need to move Malin Keshar to the signpost.

The mountainous geography begs you to use ghosts and their kin for mobility. Ghosts can cross the mountains and river left of your starting fortress. (So can Corpses, by the way, but slowly.) Unfortunately, the fire arrows are quite effective against ghosts, so tread carefully.

Players have used different strategies with success...

Option 1, defeat in detail: This is probably the easiest plan, with the highest chance of success. Attack the southern orc first, then the northern orc. You can recruit/recall mostly Ghosts, Shadows, and Wraiths, supplemented by Vampire Bats. Ghosts and Bats can capture difficult to reach villages and move on, thus weakening your foes. Keep Malin Keshar and Darken Volk alive by hiding them in the mountains, which have two chokepoints. Either give them a small guard force or be prepared to redirect some of your leveled Ghosts to assist as needed.

Option 2, assassination: Kill both leaders at once. Recruit/recall almost exclusively Ghosts, Shadows, and Wraiths, and split them into two, one taskforce for each leader. A minimal strike force for one leader would be four Ghosts and two Shadows. Wait patiently across the river from the strongholds until darkness descends on turn 8. Then assassinate both leaders. If all goes well, the leaders will be dead by turn 9, for a nice gold bonus. Just in case it doesn't end so quickly, Malin Keshar and Darken Volk should have already been running into the deepest part of the southern mountains for safety. Exercise restraint with respect to capturing villages with bats or ghosts near the strongholds before the strike, as the enemy may divert units to intercept, which may interfere with your assassination plot.

Option 3, feint: Use ghosts to discourage the enemy from concentrating his forces at the lake. Sending a few ghosts over the mountains and river allows you to distract the computer into sending troops back to its base, because it interprets the closer enemies as a larger threat. By doing this, you can delay the southern orcs and meet the northern orcs at the lake. Just be careful, because if you distract them too long, they build up a substantial force (rather then sending troops in piecemeal like the computer usually does) which takes a while to cut through.

Spoiler: Be careful when moving non-flying units onto the ice next to the bridge which separates you from the orcs' valley, as the ice weakens when a non-flying unit starts a turn on it and weakened ice then breaks and drowns any unit which starts a turn on in. This even applies to Skeletons and Skeleton Archers! Use breaking ice to your advantage; try to lure high level orcs to their demise by placing ghosts in the middle of weakened ice.

Orc War

  • Objectives: Defeat the orc leaders
  • Lose if: Malin Keshar or Darken Volk die or time runs out
  • Turns: 30
  • Starting units: Malin Keshar and Darken Volk

Starting with this mission you can recruit Dark Adepts. There are a couple of ways to approach this scenario:

  • One strategy is to recruit two major forces and send one south to hold back the orcs at the bridge (a Wraith does a good job of holding the bridge) then send the other force northwest to take out that leader first. At that point, if you've had particularly good luck on the the southern front you might want to go after that leader next, but more likely, you will want to recruit a few more units plus the units you used to kill the northwest leader and head south to kill the southwest orc leader.
  • Another strategy is to recruit one large force and take out either the northwestern or southeastern orc leaders before the other orcish troops can catch up with you. Then you'll probably want to take out the southwestern orc leader. When I tried this I took heavier casualties and had less gold at the end of the scenario but it did work.
  • If you've managed to acquire at least two Shadows you can try slipping them behind enemy lines and assassinating one of the orc leaders. If you have at least 4 Shadows your chances of success increase greatly.

Spoiler: After you kill two orc leaders the third will flee and this will end the scenario. You probably will want to postpone this as long as possible to allow your forces to gain experience.

Return to Parthyn

  • Objectives: Kill Drogan then escape to the northwest
  • Lose if: Malin Keshar dies or any people from Parthyn die (except Drogan)
  • Turns: n/a
  • Starting units: Malin Keshar and a Wraith, Shadow, or Spectre, if available

Your first objective is to kill Drogan; if any other human unit dies before Drogan, you lose. A Wraith, Shadow, or Spectre will probably start with Malin. If you recall an appealing target like a Revenant into the keep's northwest hex, Drogan should run out to shoot some arrows at it. Between this and recalling another Wraith or Shadow as a backup plan, it should be easy to take out Drogan and discover, oops, the Parthyn townspeople hate you anyway. Wraiths and Shadows are particularly effective, since they can fly across the river quite quickly. After you kill Drogan, you should escape across the river and to the west.

Option 1: Kill the orcs so that you can flee across the ford. This shouldn't be a problem. What might be a problem is that the Parthyn troops will continue to attack you as you flee.

Option 2: Leave the ford open, and cross in water at far right, hoping for the orcs and village militia to clash and leave you alone, at least until the orcs are dead. As an additional distraction, you can send some Ghouls and Walking Corpses south/southwest in the forest. Both this and the first option have the disadvantage that you will lose all the villages you hold south of the river and will probably end up losing a bunch of gold but, oh well.

Option 3: Stay and fight. You don't have to flee immediately. But you face fairly strong opposition and will probably take enough casualties that it isn't really worth it to stay and fight longer than you need to. Also, you'll have to recruit enough units that you lose gold each turn, since there's no time limit, if you defeat the Parthyn townspeople after taking heavy enough casualties that you gain gold each turn, you can wait and make up the loss. It isn't really worth it, however, because you'll need your high level troops for the next mission.

A Small Favor - Part One

  • Objectives: Malin Keshar and Darken Volk enter the manor
  • Lose if: Malin Keshar or Darken Volk die or time runs out
  • Turns: 28/26/22 (easy/medium/hard)
  • Starting units: Malin Keshar and Darken Volk

First off, you can capture the free villages scattered around near your keep, but don't capture any enemy-owned villages using units that lack Nightstalk ability.

Then there are a few options that players have tried with success:

Option 1, leader assassination: You should have at least 2 Shadows (or Nightgaunts), preferably more, to assassinate the leader. Their nightstalk ability gets them past the perimeter guards and directly to the enemy leader. Take him out in one turn or two, or he will recruit heavily. Keep Malin and Volk out of sight. After you takeout the enemy leader, take out the rest of the human troops and capture the rest of the villages at your leisure. Once that is accomplished, send Volk directly to the manor, but send Malin to the enemy commander's keep. Wait here accumulating cash each turn until the penultimate turn. On the penultimate turn recruit all the units you will want to take forward into part 2; Wraiths and Shadows are particularly useful, while level 1 units are not. Then move Malin towards the manor. On the last turn move Malin into the manor to join Volk to end the scenario. While carry over gold won't help you in parts two and three (no recruiting), it will carry over to the next scenario.

Option 2, mage assassination: It is possible to win this part without any Shadows. You can use about 6 Wraiths/Spectres and slip them around the north of the map as near to the entrance of the manor as possible while staying out of sight (you can see how much your enemies can see with Ctrl-v). Malin and Darken Volk should take the same route, but can't get as far as the Ghosts. Then take out as many enemies as you can with your Ghosts, targeting the Mages first, and rush towards the manor with your heroes. You should be inside before the battle gets ugly.

Option 3, guard assassination: If you kill a guard in one turn, he won't have time to raise the alarm. Therefore, you can proceed across the map, assassinating guards one by one, until you get within strike distance of the leader.

[Mal Shubertal: Each guard will only leave its post to attack you if it can personally see you, and the enemy leader doesn't actually recruit all that much. So what worked for me was to trigger one isolated guard, then pull back and fight the enemy army without triggering any more guards. After they were done, I moved through the level killing one or two guards at a time until I reached the manor. This probably would not have worked if I didn't have 5 level-three units to recall, though. ]

A Small Favor - Part Two

  • Objectives: Defeat Mage Lord Karres then move through the northwest passage
  • Lose if: Malin Keshar or Darken Volk die or time runs out
  • Turns: 30/27/25 (easy/medium/hard)
  • Starting units: Malin Keshar, Darken Volk and any units that survived the previous scenario
  • Other: You can't recruit or recall; only the units from last scenario will be present

You start with the units you recalled at the end of the last mission, but you don't have to pay their upkeep for this scenario (nor are there any villages, anyway). Since there are no villages, you won't be able to heal your units unless they have a drain attack.

Anyway, your first task is to kill Karres, who is a Great Mage and is put into one of the rooms at random. Each room is filled with mages of one variety or another. They won't leave the rooms of their own accord, although a couple of Swordsmen and other human units wander the halls, but these shouldn't be a big deal. The mages, however, can be quite deadly. Always make sure you have sufficient forces to wipe out at least three Red or White Mages before opening a door. (You open doors by placing a unit in front of the door). However, most rooms only have one or two Mages in it, and they may be level one Mages. The skirmishing of Shadows and Nightgaunts is useful in wiping out mages. If you let the mages counter-attack, you will risk losing one or more units. Head northwest with Malin and move on.

There doesn't seem to be any bonus for an early finish, so if you get the objective early, you can hold off and harvest some XP.

A Small Favor - Part Three

  • Objectives: Find the book and then escape
  • Lose if: Malin Keshar or Darken Volk die or time runs out
  • Turns: 30/27/25 (easy/medium/hard)
  • Starting units: Malin Keshar and any units that survived the previous scenario
  • Other
    • You can't recruit or recall; only the units from last scenario will be present
    • You no longer control Darken Volk

Darken Volk will operate separately with an army of allied undead. Hmmm, in all previous missions you commanded him directly... could this be foreshadowing? Head to the northwest to grab the book. Then head to the northeast to exit.

[Mal Shubertal: The enemy here is all mages, which can kill even one of your level 3's if you get unlucky. But on hard in 1.12.2, Darken Volk's army is strong enough to take them by itself. So I just let them do the dirty work and headed straight to the exit once Volk picked up the book. ]

Alone at Last

  • Objectives: Take the book from Darken Volk and bring it back to Malin's castle
  • Lose if: Malin Keshar dies
  • Turns: 24
  • Starting units: Malin Keshar and one unit
  • Other: Ghosts and Bats (and the rest of their unit trees) cannot pick up the book

The situation is that you must take the book from Darken Volk, but two additional armies will appear in the middle of the battle, bent on killing both your army and Volk's, making the task more than a little difficult. When the battle reaches its peek, you probably won't have much money, and your forces will be outnumbered and at great disadvantage.

Sir Cadaeus arrives on turn 8 to take revenge for your attack on the city of Tath. He sets up camp in the southeast corner of the map, and his army of paladins and mages will present a grave danger to your army of undead. However, his forces will attack Volk's as well. More importantly, Volk's forces will attack Sir Cadaeus'. Effectively, Volk is a bit of an ally, even if he is trying to kill you.

By the end of turn 11, Dela Keshar will show up to the north, set up camp and send her army of loyalists and outlaws to attack you as well.

By around this time, Volk should be dead, by Sir Cadaeus' hands if not yours. He leaves behind the book, which you need to retrieve and bring to your initial keep. Ghosts and Bats (and Spectres, Shadows, Wraiths, and Nightgaunts) can't carry the book. Try to use the quickest unit you can to pick it up and bring it back.

For general strategy, players have had success with at least three alternatives...

Option 1, grab and run: Run for the book with a few elite units capable of carrying it. Along the way, you can either engage Volk's forces or try to run away from them. To kill Volk, you can use leveled ghostly units, e.g., Nightgaunts. Run back once you get the book. You will lose units in rear guard action during the retreat, but you can try to choose which ones.

Option 2, the northern end around: Summon all your good troops and move everyone almost due north. Once Sir Cadaeus arrives, Volk's forces will shift attention southwards, and you can start moving east. As you do so, Dela will arrive close to your forces, where she will build a stronghold and recruit. You can surround her stronghold to prevent her from getting more than six recruits, then kill her recruits and her (not possible on older versions.) Kill her quickly before Sir Cadaeus' forces crash into your forces after killing Volk. Break Sir Cadaeus' assault wave and then send someone to get the book and take it back to your stronghold. Optionally, back at the start, you can try to pull Volk's attention south with a fast, strong feint to the southeast using Ghosts, Bats and possibly your leader (since the enemy likes to hone in on him.)

Option 3, the waiting game: Recruit just a couple of bats initially for village capturing out of range of the enemy. Once Sir Cadeus' forces arrive, begin recruiting in earnest and make a dash for the book. You will probably lose a lot of the units in the process.

Whatever initial course you take, the end game is the same: you will need to retrieve the book with a nonflying unit and head west, back to your stronghold.

Grabbing villages after a few at the start won't help you in this scenario. You will likely end negative on gold.

If you decide you need more gold to play this scenario, you have to go all the way back three scenarios to Return to Parthyn - Part One. There, one way to get gold is to use Shadows to steal the enemy's villages without him noticing. However, your first option above, the grab and run, should not require much gold.

Note: This scenario was rebalanced some time after v1.8.5, so if you are playing an old version, there will be many differences.

Descent into Darkness

  • Objectives: Defeat the troll leader
  • Lose if: Mal Keshar is destroyed
  • Turns: n/a
  • Starting units: Mal Keshar

The first segment of the mission is pretty self-explanatory. After you reach the small keep you need to decide which way to send your troops to the large castle, there is a main passage and two side passages. I'm not sure it matters, but I successfully advanced through the main passage. You will face some high level trolls, including Troll Shamans capable of throwing deadly fireballs at your undead minions. Wraiths and Spectres and quite good at killing Troll Shamans, since they deal arcane damage. You just have to make sure that you kill the Shamans before they get to attack you. Note that all the trolls deal impact damage, which your Skeletons are weak against, so you may want to avoid recalling your Skeletons.

Since this scenario is quite easy, it's a good chance to train your units and see strange monsters. In both side passages you can find a Troll Shaman, few Trolls and lots of villages. But the left passage is more interesting: in the middle of some water there's a tree where an Ancient Woose waits to ambush. Shadows and Wraiths will kill him easily. Enjoy its dying animation! At the top left of this room there's a path that leads to the hardest step of the scenario: 3 Giant Spiders. Try to make them follow you outside through the corridor to sorround them one by one.

However, it is possible to avoid all that if you wish. Once you find your castle, just recall at least two Nightgaunts, three to be safe, and send them up the main passageway. They can kill the troll leader before he knows what hit him, leading to an instant victory.

Endless Night

  • Objectives: Defeat the foolish hero
  • Lose if: Mal Keshar is destroyed
  • Turns: Unlimited
  • Starting units: Mal Keshar

And so we reach the conclusion of the campaign. We learn that Mal Keshar—formerly Malin—has become a somewhat powerful lich that has gained a reputation for himself for fighting the orc armies (and anyone who comes in his way) every summer.

For this reason, heroes of every race that has been victimized by Mal Keshar's troops follow him to his lair, wanting to finally put an end to his advances. In this scenario you will be fighting this foolish hero, which will be either an elf, a loyalist, an outlaw, a dwarf, or an orc, chosen at random. You will be fighting them in your cave, so you have some advantage, but every time you beat one of these heroes, the scenario will repeat itself and a new hero will come for you, with more gold on his side, so it will be increasingly difficult to fight their armies.

You can play this scenario as many times as you want to. You really have to beat only the very first hero—when Malin is defeated by any subsequent hero, the victor will give a short monologue and the campaign will end.

Addition by cMaster: If you care to play this scenario more than just a few times, it might be worth noting the small cavity to the right at the bottom of the map. You can easily place 11 units inside (you won't be able to recall more than 10 units + Mal Keshar) and it's got a choke point of only two hexes. Use this to chew away any enemy foolish enough to enter the choke point, and forget about the seven villages. Your enemy will not be able to pay the upkeep of his troops anyway. Correctly used you should not have to fear any number of enemies!