Five days later, near the foothills of Stonetalon Mountains ...
- Main Quest - Establish a Base
- Build a Great Hall
- Thrall must survive
- Main Quest - Secure Zeppelins
- Destroy All hostile units at the laboratory
- Return two Goblin Zeppelins to your base
- Optional Quest - Pacify Humans
- Destroy the Human bases
This scenario should be called "Death Cry of the Warsong" or something, because the Warsong, with inadequate resources, do everything possible to commit suicide. Outnumbered 4-1, they run around the map, causing all sorts of mayhem, provoking absolutely everybody, and just generally being stupid. Oh, and disobeying (your) orders. In principle, you should discipline them, although maybe the fact that Grom dies repeatedly is sufficient.
BE WARNED, this section contains significantly more spoilers than usual.
The designer set this scenario up so that various events happen according to a script. Basically, your expeditionary force arrives near an allied Orc base and sets up a base. After you start your base, your ally (subordinate, really) attacks a human base. Naturally, the humans get upset and counter-attack, except that they attack YOU. Your ally proceeds to do this to all four of the human factions, and pretty soon, all four of those factions are attacking you.
The designer assumed that you would set up your base as instructed, so he set the trigger for your ally's berserkness to be when your TC is finished, although it could have been triggered on a simple timer. Therefore, you can exploit the scenario "bug" by not building a TC until later. This approach would definitely lose under normal conditions.
One section of this guide describes how you can effectively exploit the bug. The solution is rather elegant. You can also exploit the bug a little bit, scouting the map until you get the feel of the scenario, which will allow you to form a decent plan, and then restart, or you can just play normally for a while to see how fast you get overrun, and then restart. Note that you can determine that there are four active enemy factions just by letting the scenario run for a bit and then ending it; you are given that information at the end.
It turns out that this scenario is actually rather easy, even though it may seem pretty hard at the beginning, especially if you play normally. The main reason for this is that all the human factions build a bunch of troops, but not an overwhelming force, and you kill them all. At an average cost of 200 gold, every 5 units the faction loses is 1,000 gold that they have burned. You should lose far less, so you keep getting stronger, while the humans do not.
There are many ways to win. This walkthrough focuses on a solid strategy, where you will always be in control of your destiny.
You will need to use the keyboard shortcuts for certain key (sic) commands. Specifically,
- F1 to select
- F1 x2 to jump to him
- C for Chain Lightning
- T to summon two wolves
- E to Ensnare
You really should know the most important general commands by now.
As usual, assign control groups to units by type, but here, you should assign another control group to all your healthy melee units, and another one to all your badly wounded troops. Keep the wounded troops well behind your Tower line, and the good-order units where they will intercept the human attacks. You will need to keep reassigning these numbers.
You are at 20 food, and you have 4 workers. Normally, you would want a lot more workers, but here, you can't do a lot of research, so you don't need a lot of resources, as long as you keep your units alive. You will produce only 2 workers more. You want to stay at the zero-upkeep limit until further notice. You want to have a catapult; this will be the last unit you produce until you need replacements. Raiders tend to die too fast, so you won't produce any more of those, except for replacements. Get 2 Grunts and then 4 Trolls, and that's all you can have.
You will easily get enough experience to level Thrall up as far as is allowed, and the creeps don't have a lot of items in this scenario, so killing them is not a priority.
You only have one gold mine, but it will be plenty, as long as you don't throw away your troops needlessly.
You have almost zero healing capacity. Only your buildings and catapults (and Trolls) can reasonably be repaired. You will also be attacked frequently. This means that you will have to commit wounded units to fight, and you will lose a lot more units than you were used to in the previous sections of this linked campaign. The humans have a lot of ranged fire capacity, and they tend to pick on weak units, so you will really need to be on your toes to minimize your casualties. Unfortunately, the humans also use artillery in their attacks, so you can't just sit behind your Towers.
Whenever Thrall is at maximum mana or when you are expecting an enemy attack, summon a couple of wolves and place them ahead of your real units. As your wolves get better, go exploring with them as well. Note that the Lizards can disbelieve (instantly dissipate) your wolves.
There are several choices for positioning your initial defenses, but this walkthrough uses a particularly effective one. The general idea is that you want to deny the humans any access to your territory, and you want the Warsong to handle part of the defensive load until you have built up. You should also be aware that the Warsong will not tolerate your buildings close to theirs. There is a group of three rock piles in the middle of the pass west of the Warsong base. Since a Barracks is a large and durable building, it is a good choice to plug up that area. Run a line of 4 Towers from there to the left canyon wall, and build some Burrows behind your Tower line to give workers a place to hide, and maybe provide a bit of firepower more. There is little chance that the humans can breach this line.
Note that this plan is unlikely to be sufficient if you play on hard. In that case, you will need to set up an expansion as soon as you kill light blue, and get up to the low-upkeep limit.
The mission starts off when you find Grom Hellscream and the Warsong clan engaged with the humans. Help him out by destroying the Mage and the base. Focus on wiping the workers out as quickly as possible in order to maximise the gold that you seize. After that, let the Warsong deal with the buildings while Thrall does a bit of scouting.
Send one worker to build a Mill a bit west of where your Great Hall will be. As soon as a good spot is cleared, start building the Great Hall near the gold mine. Build two Orc Burrows NW of the Great Hall with your remaining two workers. When the Burrows are finished, build two Towers as indicated in the plan above. This will leave you enough gold to produce one worker as soon as the Hall is finished, after which you get a second one. Allocate about three workers to gold, two to wood, and one to construction, but shift them back and forth as the situation demands.
As resources become available, build two more Towers, then a Barracks and two Grunts, then a third Burrow and four Trolls. Finally, produce a catapult. Keep upgrading continuously at the same time. Pretty soon, you run out of things to spend money on.
You will have noted to your chagrin that your friend Grom disobeyed your orders and attacked the dark blue human faction. RIP, Grom. Shortly afterward, that faction shows up in your base, loaded for bear. Immediately leap all over them with your rapid response force. If there are more than three units, C! If necessary, C again! Assassinate artillery. Beware the ranged fire. Don't be afraid to run away (temporarily).
When Grom recovers, he heads out again, and this time, he provokes ANOTHER human faction (the greys). Eventually, he provokes all four of them, and they all try to get their revenge on you. Eventually, you will no longer be able to keep all your units alive. However, you have plenty of resources, and will have no difficulty replacing your casualties.
When you have built up to the maximum for this phase, push your army forward to the small oasis near where a canyon branch heads left, to the light blue base. Kill the creeps there and set up a new Tower line. Put three Towers on the left side and three on the right, with one more behind each group, and add a couple of Burrows for your workers to hide. You should use two workers as combat engineers for the rest of the scenario. There is a small group of Lizards near here, right at the entrance to the canyon leading to the grey base. You can kill them easily, but they can disbelieve (instantly dissipate) your wolves. Neither of these creep groups offers you a birthday present.
The reason for this second Tower line is that you want a strong position to serve as a jumping-off point for your own attacks, with the route to your territory blocked by fire, and your expeditionary force able to rapidly return from the enemy base that you are attacking. Despite all your precautions, this is where you will start to lose troops and Towers.
When it looks as though the coast is clear, rush into the light blue base. You will find resistance to be light, especially if you just fended off an attack from them. Your one catapult can easily take out the two human Towers, and after that, you are into the soft parts. You will probably need to send in two raids, but when all the workers and the TC are dead, pull all your forces back to your second Tower line. The exception is your Raiders, wounded or not, it doesn't matter. Pillage! After this, you should have a second gold mine that you can exploit at your leisure.
At this point, you might want to save the game. You have now effectively won the scenario. You control half the map, you are at full strength, the humans have been reduced by 25%, you have access to a huge amount of resources, and the list goes on. You can win any way you like. You could build an overwhelming army and just crush each faction in sequence, or you could stay at 40 food and do a Tower attack.
If this is not the beginning of the end, it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.
Just because you think that you’re in good shape doesn’t mean that the humans can’t still attack you with 30 UNITS all together. If they do this, then you will lose your entire army and half your Tower line. If this happens, just rebuild as quickly as possible and do it to them, with grey next on the hit list. It will likely take several raids before you eliminate all resistance. Again, as soon as grey has no workers and no TC left, pull all your troops back except for Grunts and Raiders, and pillage.
Now eliminate the third creep group, marked with the gold 1 on the map, and start building Towers in front of the entrance to the dark blue base. Crush dark blue using the standard approach. Raid and retreat as often as necessary, and at the end, pillage again.
The humans are now on their last leg, so it is time to explore the rest of the map. Fortify the entrance to the canyon leading to the green human base. Eliminate creep groups 2 and 3, marked in gold on the map, and take their loot. You could now head straight for the finish line, but there is no reason to not eliminate green. Make sure to destroy ALL human structures to get credit for the optional quest. It's not clear what the benefit of this is, because Thrall is definitely maxed out at level 5 by now, and as for any gold, you can't take it with you. Then eliminate creep groups 4 and 5, marked in gold on the map.
The final creep group is Harpies, marked with the gold 6 on the map, and they need special treatment. They are pretty tough; they will Cyclone and Sleep random targets, in addition to being fliers. You could simply Ensnare them, or use your imagination. You want to take some care, because if they drop any items, you want to be able to pick them up, so drag them forward before killing them. However, even if you don’t get this right, you will shortly be able to transport a worker into the forest, clear a space, and then bring Thrall in to collect the item. You definitely want that item!
After you hire the Zeppelins, you can explore all the previously-inaccessible areas. You won’t find anything but trackless forests. You should be able to finish the scenario without needing to set up any expansions.
Thrall: Have you lost what's left of your mind, Grom? KP for you, now!
Alternative strategy #1
This takes a while, but is easy to do as long as Thrall has at least level 1 Feral Spirit. The Humans will not attack you until they have already been attacked, and Hellscream will not attack them until you have completed your Great Hall. Instead of building a Great Hall, use Thrall and your combat units to scout around the map and attack all creeps that do not require you to move through an enemy base. If all units but Thrall end up dying then only send in the Feral Spirits. By the end, you will have around 2400 gold.
As you gather the gold from the creeps, send your peons past the 3 rock formations that are in a triangular pattern to get to the the large round rock with a smaller one nearby that is surrounded by trees. Have one Peon build a lumber camp as close to the rocks as possible. As you gain gold and lumber use your peons to build Orc Burrows stretching out from the rock formation with the lumber camp towards the canyon walls to create a blockade. Build them very close together so that units may not pass in between them or the rocks and make sure to leave at least 450 gold left so you can build a Great Hall. You may have to build the Great Hall as part of the burrow blockade to stretch it from one wall to another.
If done correctly, you now have a wall of buildings with gaps big enough for a peon to move through but not Hellscream or his troops. You may now move at whatever pace you like, collecting gold and lumber to build your army. A Beastiary on the outside of the blockade is the only unit-producing building necessary, because after upgrading the armor and weapons of a Raider and giving them the Ensnare and Pillage abilities, you can use 24 of them along with Thrall to destroy any one of the human bases.
If you want credit for the optional quest, you can destroy a Burrow from the barricade and let Hellscream and his men out; when you do, set all of your Raiders to follow him and you can destroy bases before they send anyone to attack your base. If you only want him to attack the blue base, then you can replace the Burrow that you destroyed to let Hellscream through. After you have taken down the blue enemy base, with or without Hellscream, take Thrall and your Raiders through the canyon behind it, killing the Centaurs and Harpies while replacing any units that are destroyed.
Alternative strategy #2
Version note: this strategy does not work in the latest patch (126.96.36.19901). Grom's troops will attack humans anyway.
While Grom and Thrall are talking after destroying the brown human base, have your peons box Grom in with orc burrows. Don't kill him. He won't be able to get out. His troops won't attack the human bases without him, so as long as you keep him locked in the burrows, you'll be fine. You can release him later to begin attacking the human bases when you are ready.
You get far less items in this scenario than in the two previous ones. Only the creep groups in the NW quarter of the map give you any loot, although half of it is must-take. All item locations are marked with a gold number on the map.
- Potion of Healing
- Centaur camp, Tome of Knowledge (+1 intelligence), Potion of Greater Mana
- Centaur camp, Potion of Healing
- Centaur boss camp, Gauntlets of Ogre Strength +3
- Owlbears, Claws of Attack +9
- Harpies, Circlet of Nobility (+2 strength, agility, and intelligence)
Ensure that Thrall walks away with the Circlet of Nobility, the Claws of Attack +9, the Periapt of Vitality, the Pendant of Energy, the Mantle of Intelligence, and either the Ancient Figurine or the Gauntlets of Ogre Strength +3.