Khazâd du-bekâr (Dwarves, to Arms!) COMPLETE

Started by JasonPratt, November 30, 2016, 08:25:57 PM

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(Not yet quite ready for) The Second Defense of Dol Guldur

Dropping out of narrative for the tac battle.

In case anyone was wondering, Gondor did manage to push Mordor back out of the Dead Marshes. But in the process, as the zoom of the strat map shows, they lost the Old Brown Lands. And Osgiliath and their final southern coastline, as predicted. But not Cair Andros! -- mainly because Team Evil coming from that direction decided to converge for invading Dol Guldur. Gondor still has Fangorn for now, too, likely for the same reason, so the tally stands as we go into our second tactical battle:

Gondor: four territories, two of them completely undeveloped, and one with not enough room to develop much than a barrack (or maybe a forge, who knows, I can't tell. Not a money-making farm, for sure.)

Mordor: nine territories, after losing the Dead Marshes (for now).

Goblins: the same nine territories they've had since the start -- Angmar, rather typically though probably by an accident of coding, doesn't allow them to claim any territories they helped take! But naturally these are well developed by now, moreso even than Mordor.

Isengard: ten territories, somewhat well developed, but somewhat not since they've been shuffling around recent acquisitions with Gondor/Rohan. Also two of their territories are a bit split off, and small, so they can't get much out of them, and can't march any troops from there easily (needing detours west of the Misties.)

Angmar: twelve territories, all well developed except for recent acquisitions. They didn't take the final southern coastland away from Gondor; Mordor (a bit surprisingly) did that. So they've probably reached their limit unless they press on us from some direction.

Dwarves: eight territories, completely developed. This turn I start pumping out troops from my many new barracks. But those can't arrive in time to save Dol Guldur. Or Dagorlad, if the enemy attacks there. We can afford to lose Dol Guldur, and still keep our homewall unbreached. Losing Dagorlad would be a disaster -- but not currently our problem. The other "DG" is.

Totals: Team Dwamaafe, twelve territories, about 1/3 poorly developed (no fault to me). Team Evil, FORTY TERRITORIES, mostly well developed, and soon to be moreso.

As the snapshot of the previous entry showed, Eomer is yes abandoning a stronghold in the face of all that hypothetically incoming power. What the AI is calculating there, I have no clear idea. He isn't going to help defend Lorien in case of assault; and he could still retreat there if we lost DG. Perhaps the Gondor AI is thinking of trying my Dain plan...?

Somewhat more interestingly, after having gotten the Dead Marshes, my Allied captains have decided to abandon them and strike out at three of Mordor's not-necessarily-well-guarded territories. I actually approve of this, under the circumstances. We'll see how well that works out next turn. Cair Andros, just north of Gondor, has a garrison; but if I were the Team Evil captain in charge of all Evil forces, I'd stomp it with at least two of the armies in the OBL; send move Lurtz up to keep Fangorn secure while someone in Fangorn (the spider?) takes Lorien from Gondor again; and then send everyone else in the OBL to the Dead Swamps to start harrowing down the Gondor Captains. I'd leave DG alone for now; don't give Gondor a chance to cling on with fingernails, but prosecute them out.

But... Dol Guldur is just SITTING THERE, with only one elf defending it! Because, as I also plotted in the previous post, unless I pay for the arrival of new troops, they don't stay on the strategic map after a battle. Nor do most structures, unless I bought them on the strat map and they weren't destroyed in the tac fight. So I'll have to rebuild from scratch in DG.

And this time, I'm facing... well, let's see. The computer sends four of the seven available commanders at me. The Mouth of Sauron from Mordor -- no troops, but he'll have plenty of opportunity to make them. Ragash, Troll of the North, from Angmar -- he's bringing one support troop, one archer squad, and one sword squad. And from Isengard, Sharku the warg rider (see, that wasn't just a joke a few entries back!) -- no troops; and Saruman with two cavalry and one sword squad.

What I don't know is how experienced these troops are, nor how far they've been upgraded. It could be a lot worse, but it's also a lot more starting out than I had to deal with the first time.

On my side... well, I've got two builders as before, plus Ithilia starts on site. And, because I'm not entirely stupid:

Yep, I was able to march King Brand down from the Carrock, since commanders can move twice through friendly territory! Yaaay, hero-archer waagggggghhh!

-- uh. Wat. WAT?

Oh, boo, booooooo you computer! You sent my two starting builders out to Brand's starting position! And why is Brand starting out in the woods on the edge of the map anyway? He isn't a separate team! Argh!

So, in the best case scenario they'll be hugely delayed in starting to build anything inside DG (and no point starting a base outside it, to just be stomped.) Or they'll be killed trying to rush to the base. Possibly Brand as well -- he's only first level, having never fought in a tac battle yet. (Well, in the game anyway.)

Gug. Lots to do, and now not only less to do it with, but more to do than otherwise since I've got to try to get these clowns somewhere useful.
ICEBREAKER THESIS CHRONOLOGY! -- Victor Suvorov's Stalin Grand Strategy theory, in lots and lots of chronological order...
Dawn of Armageddon -- narrative AAR for Dawn of War: Soulstorm: Ultimate Apocalypse
Survive Harder! -- Two season narrative AAR, an Amazon Blood Bowl career.
PanzOrc Corpz Generals -- Fantasy Wars narrative AAR, half a combined campaign.
Khazâd du-bekâr! -- narrative dwarf AAR for LotR BfME2 RotWK campaign.
RobO Q Campaign Generator -- archived classic CMBB/CMAK tool!


(Now it's time for) The Second Defense of Dol Guldur

Okay, we all know I can expect a brutal stomping. Just how brutal can I make it? Enough to have any chance at all? That's the question.

I'm glad to have already had an introductory battle here, because even though I barely got outside my stronghold before the computer gave up, I did get to know Dol Guldur well enough to start with a better idea, for example, of where my initial mines should go. With no less than three sides of Team Evil and four total heroes running against me, plus a larger set of starting evil ground troops, I can't waste a moment getting into gear.

So of course, thanks to a boneheaded miscoding about how the computer should set my troops under these conditions (with Brand arriving at the last moment before battle), I have to waste my first moments lassoing him and my only two current builders, and then scrolling back up across the map to my front gate to give them a direction to hoof it pronto. I would send them to the right gate (which they're roughly halfway between, at some distance south either way), partly because I expect everything the computer's got to be marching up that bridge to the central gate very soon. But for exactly that reason, I need Brand (as well as Ithilia whom I also quick select to send down there) ready to repel borders -- but also ready to defend the builders if they run into trouble on the way up! So they've got to go with him, and he has to go to the front gate, and Manwe help me that's already a complex tactical estimation three second into the match, eek!

And probably the easiest decision, too! -- next up (as I ponder while opening that silly temporary-blocking gate near my castle)...

(...remember, that gate doesn't really block off anything, just makes for a longer loop around if unopened...) whether to gamble that my builders will get safely inside in time, or spend 1000 of my starting 2500 gold to get two more builders cooking. I quickly decide I'm going to need them to be mining up while the other builders fortify the gate(s) with axe towers, so I queue them.

Ack, I'd better not forget to get my special abilities cooking for later! (Good thing the game pauses when I go to that screen, phew.)

(Trivial aside: the imageshack random code for this png is "Haeday". :o )

I earned an extra power point in my first battle, but nothing costs just one point so for now it's useless. Also pretty much useless, compared to other things: that "rallying call" on the upper left. But I don't have enough left over to buy anything else, so it's better than nothing. I figure I'm going to need mobile shooters, even if they're temporary, more than permanent stationary shooters -- so Dale archers more than towers -- that I can plop at a moment's notice just about anywhere (flat); and that I'm going to need instant healing more than I need instant towers (probably). So while I could have taken instant repair plus the archers and the tower spawn, I take healing instead which locks me into choosing one of the two. (For now -- once I earn another four power points, I'm never going back to rallying cry again! But that won't help me in this battle.)

That's the last pause to act I'll get: this game, unlike some other high-quality rtses, doesn't allow single players to set commands while paused on the main screen.

By now, it's time to open the front gates, so I don't get too distracted when the builders get there -- and distractions are indeed on the way, to the front gate I'm now opening!

Where are my builders?! Let's see, scroll, scroll..., oh yeah, click their icon to select one (they should be moving together), and...

EEEK! I lasso them both and order them inside the gate; they turn the corner just ahead of the first enemy squad... (Brand apparently is checking out Gollum somewhere, dangit!)

PHEW! Ithilia arrives at the open gate in time to give that first squad second thoughts about trying to rush up after the builders, and as I close the gate they're stuck outside. With Brand, somewhere, on the way.

My 3rd builder has already arrived, but I haven't had time to do anything with him yet; and first I set my newly saved first pair, to work towering up on either side of central gate.

I waste some time opening and shutting the front gate a few times to let Brand and that enemy squad in where he and Ithi can both work on them (and they can't escape). So everyone is safely inside now. Yay!

Next up, what other gates are being attacked? Hm, right gate? I'll send both of my new builders down to start on towers there -- its catapults are doing okay for now, but the surviving enemies have gotten inside their splash range --

-- and as my first front towers finish, I start upgrading them with runes and send those dwarves to build mines, first in my castle courtyard (because I'm still stupid and don't send them immediately to the two most profitable places), and then to my left gate courtyard (one of the two most etc.)

With all my builders busy, and only 21 gold left over (for now), I take a breath back on right gate, selecting its pults and trying to manually target the remaining nearby enemies for splash damage. This doesn't work before it's time to reassign builders for more mines (still not in my second most profitable place yet, because I'm still stupid).

If I lose for running out of money, you can make some inferences why here. :P

You may have thought I was joking about Brand being distracted by Gollum earlier. I was, but that was also literally happening. Want proof?

There he is, running for the front gate with a mob of whatevers (orcs of some variety no doubt) charging afterward.

I might as well mention here that (also in BFME1), Gollum is carrying the One Ring, and if you happen to find him (he's stealthed) and leave him alone, you can watch him just frolicking around with it and minding his own business. If you target him (which the AI always does) and manage to kill him, he drops the Ring, which can be picked up by any non-mechanical unit (e.g. not a catapult) and taken back inside any castle or fortress gate (i.e. somewhere that makes builders and summons off-map heroes). If you do that, you get the option to summon a special ring wielding hero. And then the Ring is completely ignored after the battle, and Gollum rises from the dead to get it again automagically, and one side or the other may get it in the next battle.

You can probably see from this partly why I haven't mentioned this before, and partly why I plotted the Ring out of the 'strategic plot': because how it's used in the game makes less than no sense. Still, the last thing I need is Sauron incarnate stomping around, so I open the front gate to send Ithilia out to see if she can chase off the squad and grab the Ring -- but by then, somehow the little runt has zigged or zagged and gotten away from everyone.

Then a couple of wolfpacks run up to the front gate, to get sniped to pieces by two catapults, my runish axe towers, and Ithilia. No problems there yet... shouldn't I be doing something else?! Oh, right: more mines. I finally get around to putting one in my other best spot.

By now, left gate is also under attack; not from huge numbers yet, but still steadily. Two builders over to build tower supports.

I mentioned last time that I love this stronghold, right? :smitten: I'm going to try to systemize my references properly, too.

"Stronghold" -- a big developed fortress that the defender already starts with on some maps, usually with multiple walls, and usually with multiple gates, and usually with multiple artillery and/or archery towers already in place. Some strongholds have option slots on the walls for building your own choices, if you can afford them. (DG doesn't.)

"Castle" -- a high-hitpoint structure inside the stronghold, where builders and off-map heroes can be recruited. Also where the One Ring should be taken if captures.

"Fortress" -- an expensive structure that can be built by builders of any team on most maps (except those with strongholds). It acts like a "castle", but with a lot more internal options for upgrading itself. With enough money, a "fortress" can be expanded out into a temporary "stronghold" of the player's design. (Temporary because after the battle, win or lose, all those upgrades and extensions disappear, plus any structures not already bought for the territory on the strategic map.)

The game also calls "strongholds" "fortresses", just to be confusing. There's a third thing also called a fortress (agh!), which serves as one of the dwarves' special abilities, but I'll need many battles to earn up enough power points to unlock it for a battle, and I don't recall if I can use it on a stronghold map like Dol Guldur anyway. So not a factor for this battle (nor for mannnny strategic turns yet -- if I survive that long!)

Right, so back to not-losing-DG-yet. I haven't built a single combat unit yet (builders don't count), but you should be able to tell by now how I like to play the dwarves: lots of shooty structures! Dwarves may not be the shootiest faction, but they understand the importance of MOAR DAKKA! (Which I suppose is why they tolerate the human archers -- as their best unit.) So I start adding a central axe tower directly behind each gate, and a heroic statue (which I go through most of the game suspecting it adds bonuses to axe towers.)

I also, around this time, learn an important tactic for getting rid of the final few troops of a unit (or an enemy hero) that has gotten up under the shooting arcs for my catapults and towers:

Yeah, just open the gates. This pushes back the units for a few second, into pult range, and also instantly clears the lines of sights for nearby axe tower support. I zipped those three guys out before the warg riders could even turn the corner. Close the gate again immediately, and now the wargs will be whittled away if they stay.

Mine is an evil laugh. Mua ha ha ha.

Even if heroic statues don't affect towers (and they may not), they'll be of help if I have to rush heroes or, eventually, troops to a gate to throw back a hard assault. So do hearths (for healing troops), so I add those, too, while I have both extra cash and more builders than current projects.

I mean, I could be spending that time and money adding more money-making mines and/or getting ready to make troops (and making troops), but no. No, I {sigh} build this crap instead.

I also remember around this time that Ithilia is still stuck outside the stronghold, but I accidentally close central gate before she quite gets inside, while heeding worrying messages about the left gate, which is where I meant for her to get behind in the first place. Oh well, I send Brand instead -- he needs to level up a bit -- and open left gate. The force there melts away quickly enough, but they whittled my gate down to half strength. I can afford to start auto repairs, which I do, whereupon I learn a super-annoying game mis-code: once I start auto-repairing, I can't click the open/shut button until it finishes. So now left gate is standing wide open while it repairs. :uglystupid2:

This is so incredibly stupid that I'll repeat this mistake several times throughout the game. Fortunately, this time I have enough support around, and the enemy doesn't, that the lapse makes no difference. This time.

I decide to check on my central gate, for example, and find some mounted clown (the Mouth of Sauron probably) and, probably, splash damage from my own catapults, plus that troll drummer (not sure if he attacks anything or just acts as a buff agent), have eroded Central Gate to ALMOST ZERO while I wasn't looking! Ack, ack, I need to fix it, quick forget completely that I have an instant-repair skill, good, forgetion complete, now, ack ack ackk! What can I do, the gate can't do auto repair with enemies next to it!? I'd better open the gates to save them for later -- yeesh, where's Ithi, what's she doing, is she inside or not? Now the towers can start axing the horse guy more directly, and I suppose I should get Brand back here pronto, and oh great I can click the auto-repair now CRAP DIDN'T I JUST TEN SECONDS AGO LEARN THAT ONCE I DO THAT I CAN'T SHUT THE GATE FOR ABOUT A MINUTE AAAAAGHHH!

Okay, there's Ithi and Brand; the enemy hasn't charged that mass up the stairs yet, probably being pulted once the horse guy ran in -- where did he go? Did the towers finally axe him? I hope for the best, scroll left quickly to close that repaired gate, then back to roost on this one until I can get it closed... hm, still a while to go, better check on what might be gathering downstairs...

Uh oh. Those melee trolls could be tough (also there's a commander among them, hard to see in that screenshot); but that cave troll could be a major problem: he's basically a fast-moving catapult who, unlike other catapults, can fight melee (and decently, too). Archers kill him quick, but he has stand-off distance.

Fortunately, by leaving the gate open, he fixates on getting to my mines (or something), so he and the troll squad get murdered by my axe towers and IthiBrand while coming up the stairs. Crisis averted for now -- and I think I'd have heard something if that cav hero had survived past my defensive line.

I decide its past time to get started on my own squads, so after closing the gate with IthiBrand outside -- within heroic statue and even healing hearth range (as long as they don't move forward much to shoot, which takes them out of hearth radius) -- and after making sure the other two gates are healed up, I plop up a range, a barrack, and a forge, up near my castle. (And accidentally start a new mine instead of a barrack before I realize what's happening, delaying that a while longer.)

What I don't realize is that either Brand starts on sword as his weapon, or I've set him that way and forgotten it -- which means he runs out of support range fast when the next swarm comes up.

Fortunately, they soon push him back into buffing range (and axe tower support).

Unfortunately, this new swarm is a lot bigger. And Omigosh the Dang Troll has decided to stop screwing around and come help at the gate (along with whoever down there is in the wolf pelt.)

...what, you can't see him in that shot, with the debris from my front catapults being destroyed hard enough that I can't rebuild them for this battle?

Yeah, that's new: the AI finally wised up and sent fire archers and more cave trolls to bomb them to dust.

This is not going to help my chances of winning this battle.

That big armored troll hero isn't going to help either. Opening the gate does help. So does finally remembering I've got special powers, and summoning three large Dale Archer squads! -- whom I can't summon directly at the gate (not enough free flat ground), so they take a quarter minute to get into place after arriving. In this game, that can be too long.

This is bad. Very bad.
ICEBREAKER THESIS CHRONOLOGY! -- Victor Suvorov's Stalin Grand Strategy theory, in lots and lots of chronological order...
Dawn of Armageddon -- narrative AAR for Dawn of War: Soulstorm: Ultimate Apocalypse
Survive Harder! -- Two season narrative AAR, an Amazon Blood Bowl career.
PanzOrc Corpz Generals -- Fantasy Wars narrative AAR, half a combined campaign.
Khazâd du-bekâr! -- narrative dwarf AAR for LotR BfME2 RotWK campaign.
RobO Q Campaign Generator -- archived classic CMBB/CMAK tool!


(Still going on) The Second Defense of Dum Goshdarn

This is bad. Very bad. At least one maybe two wolfpacks got in -- they'll probably eat some mines before my other interior towers can take them down. My emergency Dale archers are getting murdered trying to provide melee support for their king who is still stuck in melee mode. whew, the wolves stupidly went for my right gate ax towers instead of carefully angling to eat my mine safely in the courtyard; but some enemy cavalry get inside, too, before I can close the gate. Brand is inside; I send him to help get rid of the wolves.

Ithilia is still stuck outside -- along with some surviving but temporary archers (they'll fade back to wherever I summoned them from eventually once the magic wears off). And she has been pulled away from the healing hearth radius, maybe also the statue's buffing radius. And is being wailed on by two trolls, one of them a commander (Rogosh)!

I finally remember I can cast heal, which saves here; around the time the computer casts the Eye of Sauron to give me debuffs and his troops buffs. (The Eye also uncovers cloaked units, if I had any.)

This is bad, really bad. I've forgotten I still have the rally cry, but it wouldn't help me much. Sure, I'll probably fight off this wave, but I've got THREE TEAMS worth of enemies out there, all who have special powers, too (so who can throw them three times as often, with some variations between teams). And they've all had plenty of time to get their own economies going. And they've had time to get their troop makers upgraded; and to make lots of troop makers.

This 'wave' isn't going to end. It's going to keep surging. And getting worse all the time.

If I'm to have any hope at all (I don't) I trust Ithi and the Central Gate defenses to hold a few seconds while I start upgrading my range, forge, and barrack, back near my castle. No point bringing buddy-level troops now; I can only hope my defenses will hold long enough to get enough quality upgraded troops out to... man, I don't even know. I'm always going to be outnumbered by their (increasingly) quality troops.

Still, one good news: the enemy cavalry also foolishly charged my right-gate axe towers; with Brand around horse-chopping, even the Eye couldn't save them.

The Eye can be moved around by its owner like a hero unit, by the way. (Though I suspect only the Mordor team can summon it; only one team can at a time anyway.) So, ironically, as they fall and the computer loses interest in boosting/debuffing around them, I watch it slide away in the direction of the middle bridge -- which tells me a new mass is coming up that way! I quickly order a nearby builder to set up a healing hearth at the right gate since there isn't one yet, and swing over to open the gate and tell Brand to get out front and help there again.

Amazingly, some of the guest archers are still hanging in, although I expect them to disappear any moment.

A nice snapshot there of them showering the new wave coming up the stairs. That yellow glow on them, is a buff from the heroic statue nearby. (Blue glow would be healing.) Actually... maybe that was one big tough wave? Whatever tried to come up the stairs didn't make it -- and I don't even have arty support down at the bridge anymore! With that signal triumph, the archers give a victorious shout (one of the nice aesthetic touches in the game) and then whiff away. Now it's just IthilBrand outside as I shut the gate.

They're able to hold off the next smallish wave, as I buy banner technology and queue up a couple of dwarven pike squads -- I wasn't especially impressed with the 3rd tier berserkers last time, so I go with these for now. I don't really know what to order next, not having enough experience playing battles yet to pick wisely; I choose rune axe tech from the forge (which will help the pikes, oddly) and Tier 3 research to unlock mithril armor (which helps everyone) and fire shot (which will help my mobile catapults) eventually.

I do realize I need more firepower at the front, but instead of working on Dale archers (because I'm too proud as a dwarf I guess?) I scroll back down I open the gate and send out a builder to work on a new tower outside the gate. The result? A squad of melee trolls get inside before I close the gate. After pausing a moment to 'think', they trot off rightward. I hope the AI is still going for the rightward axe towers? I open the gate again and send Brand to help, just in case. (A wise move; soon the troll squad is back at the front gate courtyard where they get mowed down quickly.)

I'm having trouble finding a place to build a tower outside on the stairs (thus the confusion with the troll squad getting in); but eventually I do get one going, yay!

While I'm busy managing a repulse at gate right; and remembering I've got pike squads to bring down (and to buy upgrades for); my nascent tower gets swarmed and doesn't finish, wasting that gold. Somewhat amusingly, so many squads are crowded onto the stairs between the walls, that they're getting in each other's way and can't advance! I open the gate to get the builder back inside (okay, that experiment failed, but maybe later) and to let pikes out when they arrive. Also to let Brand out, but he gets punched right back into the courtyard by the magic of some baldheaded guy I don't recognize. (I couldn't get a good snap of that, with gate icons in the way.)

Ithilia is being overwhelmed (even with a healing power thrown to help, as well as rallying cry) by the time the pikers arrive to help form a pike wall.


Or a pike pit rather. They already have the best inherent defense of any of my troops, and the "porcupine formation" doubles that, though at the cost of active movement. (They can be pushed around somewhat.)

Ithilia's 4th level unlocks an active ability which I promptly forget exists although right now it would be useful: she can train nearby troops and so add to their experience for leveling up (and it recharges pretty quickly, too).

I get her inside near the hearth for a while, and finally finally figure out that I can toggle Brand over to archer mode (which after all is his main gig). He gets parked just outside the front gate within all the buff radii, and starts shooting over the pike pits whom I Heal on general principle.

By the time I check on my left and right gates (right needs a bit of management to axe off some stragglers; left could be overrun soon), and I float back over to central, the enemy has held up to let some cave trolls blast my pikes into their graves! The first squad has long since bitten the dust; the second is on the way. Man, is the AI getting smarter as I watch?!

I go back to train a new pike squad, and while I'm there I finally remember to research mithril and boulder-fire at the forge. And a demolisher, because boulder-fire doesn't help it at all! I haven't lost yet! -- yet.

"They're breeching the walls!" calls me over to right gate. Where... man, what even is happening?

Yeek! Somehow, probably by cave troll, I've permanently lost one of my right gate catapults; and the computer seems to be clipping the enemy squad progressively through the resulting gap in the wall!

Not that that works for them -- my axe towers chew them up fast. But it doesn't bode well for later: my defense there has been reduced significantly, and I can't make it up. Not even by building a tower to plug the space: I can't get a builder 'there' (probably for game balance reasons.) Before I can figure out a close area to place an extra tower for good luck -- "They're tearin' our buildings down!"

Wait, what? That's a sign of building damage, that shouldn't be happening. Where at? Central Gate?

AGH! They're through Central Gate!

There's still some good news; gates can be remade if I've got the cash (which I do), so I start on that. And IthilBrand are healthy, having been pushed back into hearth range. And while my pikes are totally gone, between one thing and another most of that assault wave is toast, while one fool cave troll is racing off to fight my right axe towers (presumably).

Still. That hasn't happened before. A sign things are still getting worse, and I'm not catching uUHHHH CRAP! The cave troll stops short to start throwing rocks at my mine! And while I can kill off Rogosh (again; like all commanders he can be respawned, and with all experience and levels retained, if a player has enough cash), my middle gate tower is nearly wrecked. Worse, my central gate gets completely crumbled in the fight while I'm trying to rebuild it! (And also I discover I never upgraded the central axe tower there to runes; so it has been shooting weakly the whole time. TOO MANY THINGS!)

I cast repair on the central gate area, which helps the towers anyway -- and I discover my gate is still being rebuilt, so it might still come back (it does)! Because I haven't really learned better yet, I train three dwarven berserkers this time, and send them down. Brand (or someone) was able to shoot that cave troll, so my mine only took half damage -- eventually a dwarf will get out there and tick it back to full health. Slowly.

Some troll sledgers have already worn down central gate again.

That took disturbingly not-long. I open the gate to let the towers get better shots (along with Ithi and I think Brand's still around there). My first serker units arrive, talking reaaally big trash -- and get wiped quite quickly.

This is a freaking disaster. Nearly all that group gets inside. I think this is where I mostly give up ever bothering with Dwarfserkers again.

Somehow, partly thanks to the left-gate catapults which didn't have anything worse to be dealing with at the moment, and partly thanks to that mine having grown itself to level 3 (so getting an archery tower), and despite the Eye there -- and let's be fair, one berserker squad was in there helping -- that mass got smushed.

I trust you can see a developing pattern here.

A terrible, escalating pattern.

Yeah, my mine doesn't survive that. I swing over to the castle courtyard to order up some more pike squads; also two real catapults (instead of that useless battering ram); and a battlewagon because heck I'm testing out capabilities on a losing map anyway, might as well see if it's worth anything.

(You may recall I've already spoiled earlier whether battlewagons are worth much; but if not... we'll just let that be a surprise, hm?)

The builder starts a new, 5th tower at the front gate (since it's going to be crushed pretty regularly now I guess), and I'll be fair -- I think all three berserks are still around (I have over 5000 gold and can't order any more, so they must be at the unit cap). They heal themselves, too, I notice. It's possible they're contributing to the defense with some competency. I clear away the rubble of the gate and start remaking it again, sigh.

By the time it has been remade (50 seconds later), I don't even bother closing it again. The towers and BrandIthi are chewing up incomers; my pikes are arriving and being upgraded; my catapults are starting to arrive; my berserks are kind of guarding the leftward exit from the gate courtyard...

...and I've got a steady flow of this nonsense trying to run over me.

What I don't realize yet, but which can be good or bad for me depending on how I use it, is that when a gate is open the AI sends EVVVVERRRYYYONNNEE over there. So my other gates are being (mostly?) spared right now. But man. We're reaching Warhammer40K levels of meatgrinder right now. I take heart that somehow, somehow, I haven't lost yet. But I'm doubtful I'm going to break the AI's will to fight like this; and do I have any way to actually move forward here?!

...well, yes. After a mass attack-move downward, and upgrading my battlewagon with a banner (so nearby troops keep a statue buff effect, though the radius is much smaller), and manually using it to toss casks of burning oil, we're kind of at this point.

Wow? Uh, I need to open up and get more of my troops outside, but micromanaging the battlewagon's oil casks is keeping me unable to contribute much elsewhere! Considering that the computer will never have that control problem, that's a losing calculation.

The enemy has breached right gate, too, by now; which needs rebuilding.

They haven't managed to destroy the nearby mine yet, but if the computer decided to forgo Central Gate they could probably push through here.

Going back to the Front Gate -- oh, yeah, I forgot I had told the Demolisher to attack-move down the stairs, even though it can't really attack non-buildings!

I decide, correctly I think, that I have to give a lot of credit for nuking that swarm so efficiently to my single swarm-nuker: that upgraded catapult. I even think it may be responsible for most of the damage to my pikers. I have some more pikers up near the gate, so sure -- while things look a little quiet here, let's see if I can get down the stairs an establish a perimeter to control the crossroads! Sure, that seems ludicrously optimistic, but so does buying another four battlewagons!

It helps that the current swarm was assigned somewhere else to go, and so they mostly ignore my little crossroad force for now. Meanwhile I also queue up another four pikers, since those seem to be doing well, and buy 3rd tier archery tech plus two Dale archer units. (The last tier of their tech allows me to buy fire arrows, and makes their building tougher. Which currently isn't a problem, but that's why there's a distinction between buying the tier 3 range upgrade and unlocking fire arrows. An expensive and time-consuming distinction.)

They literally cannot get here soon enough, because this swarm...

...was sent to kill my crossroad force, and is doing a great job of it. All my pikes have been wiped completely out in a few seconds! And this is the point where I said to myself, "Did I just buy four more squads that, once I upgrade them completely, the computer will still murder somehow in fifteen seconds?!"

I quickly pull my catapult back behind Central Gate, and have BrandIthi take up positions in front of it; as battlewagons and pikes arrive, I open the gate to let them out, and try to upgrade them with useful things as I get the cash and opportunity. This mainly results in Ithilia finally falling.


This also results in my coming to realize that battlewagons are dang fragile regardless of how I upgrade them. This maybe shouldn't surprise me: they're only 60 command points, one of the cheapest units in that sense.

I set my pikes in some staggered waves of porcupine formation on the stairs, just within my catapult's range, since that seemed to work great a few minutes ago. (I also come to realize around now that I have zero ways of repairing catapults.)

My first dedicated Dale archers are arriving now, too; with banner and mithril upgrades being bought, but no fire yet, because I haven't had time (or in some cases even money) to unlock that tech. Nor do I spend that money now; rather when I have a moment to breathe and the cash to do so, I click to call up Ithilia again. (As heroes level up, they cost more and take more time to arrive if they've been casualtied off the map.)

Even though one of my pike squads has almost bit it (partly due to my own fire catapult), they and the second pikes, plus my not-fire-shooting-yet archers (and the fire catapult) have held the stair pretty well against a moderate rush; I've got one more archer and pike squad teching up and on the way down. (Notably, I think all my berserks are out of commission, but I'm wrong; at least one squad is just hanging loose in my backfield waiting for a wave to crash through my defenses again.)

Can they hold the area with Brand until Ithilia gets back? And even if they can, what then? The last time I tried a push down here, we were rolled by the first dedicated swarm to come along!

The answer to that comes while I leave the stairforce alone for a minute to check on my left-and-right gates (right was open, I close it); check if I have enough money to buy fire arrow tech (not yet); and send a builder to find another place to mine.

Jeez, what? King Brand got rolled over now?! Crap, he was sitting behind two pike squads and an archer squad, what happened to --


I actually still have some troops in the area (though they need to tech up and may not have time). And my forest of rune-ax towers won't be easy for Team Evil to get past (I hope, maybe??) I quickly scroll up to the castle and queue up Brand to return asap. That'll be awhile; aside from his own 'build-time', Ithilia has to finish first, and she's still got a way to go.

This.... this could be the end.

Well, not quite yet. One advantage to being nearly wiped out is that with fewer units I'm less inclined to try to stake out a position down out of support range of my rune-ax towers and my statue/heart buffing combo.

With Ithilia on her way at last, I go back to queue some more pikes and see at least one berserk squad standing guard (loosely speaking) at the left exit from the front gate courtyard. I still have those things? Yep, two of them somewhere. I haven't learned to properly group strong units yet (which is, like, rts 101 first day :crazy2: ); nor have I learned that berserks aren't as useful as pikes really, because I go ahead and buy the third set again.

King Brand takes a lot less time to return than I was expecting (he may not be potentially as awesome as Ithilia, and certainly hadn't leveled up as much); and so far despite my lone pike squad being cursed by everything all three teams can throw against them...

...we've held on. Again. Phew. Whew? Poo?
ICEBREAKER THESIS CHRONOLOGY! -- Victor Suvorov's Stalin Grand Strategy theory, in lots and lots of chronological order...
Dawn of Armageddon -- narrative AAR for Dawn of War: Soulstorm: Ultimate Apocalypse
Survive Harder! -- Two season narrative AAR, an Amazon Blood Bowl career.
PanzOrc Corpz Generals -- Fantasy Wars narrative AAR, half a combined campaign.
Khazâd du-bekâr! -- narrative dwarf AAR for LotR BfME2 RotWK campaign.
RobO Q Campaign Generator -- archived classic CMBB/CMAK tool!


(The Return of the Return of) The Second Defense of Dog Godang

You may not be able to see it (in that prior snapshot up thread), but I'm using an archery ability here that I don't usually bother with: a saturation shot effect which can be shot ballistically. The archers don't aim at targets, just a location on the ground and keep raining arrows there. My second catapult has also arrived, though I haven't noticed enough to tech it up with fire yet. My first pult is still kicking butt regularly with only a few hit points left!

To make a long mission report a little less long -- I try to move down the stairs again, my pikes get wiped almost instantly. So do one of my berserks, which I rebuy because dense.

At this point I've basically decided I'm never getting off these stairs: the best I can do is plant a pike pit, and maybe a berserksquad, at the top of the stairs inside all kinds of fire support. I still haven't bought fire arrow tech yet, but my proportion of archers to melee is slowly shifting to "archer"!

So if I can't get out this way, then is that it? Should I just give up and let Team Evil have this (somewhat literally) damned place!?

Well... I do have another plan. This plan involves sending a tough melee whacker out left gate, while I set up a feasibly tough stacking point at center gate to distract my enemies. Brand is the obvious choice, since he can dual-purpose over to shooting if I need to.

The basic idea is that Brand goes out, and tries to clear Team Evil's left backfield of some resource stations. He doesn't go after their bases; that would be suicide; he just goes after their ability to pay for troops. For one team (whichever of the four teams is over on the far left. Why that side? No idea, just felt like it. The map is pretty symmetrical, no advantage going either way for this plan.) In fact, heck, I'll send Ithi with him; she can shoot to protect him in case of trouble.

While I'm setting this up, I make the mistake of trying to push forward down the stairs again, because optimism is dumber than evil.

I don't even recall making that move. And I have the playback to watch! That's how dumb this move was; I blocked it out of my mind.

Basically everyone, including my only two pults (including the highly experienced one) outside that gate is dead. Also to some extent inside the gate. Also dumber than evil: still trying to fix things by buying more battlewagons. I send one out to support BrandIthi on their quest, and it almost instantly dies. Sure, send more to the front gate! Woo! Yeah, more costly berserks to the front gate, that sounds great!

Just to distract enemy troops a little (and because it seemed like a good start to my quest outside the walls), IthiBrand capture a signal fire just outside my walls on the upper left. This map is crawling with the things, no less than five of them, all of which I can't really get to much less protect once I've gotten them. But the AI has many feelings about them, so... (I'm lying, I don't really know that yet, I'm sure I thought it was a good idea while the enemy keeps hammering the front gate. Instead of, you know, THE ACTUAL PLAN TO PROACTIVELY REDUCE HOW MUCH ENEMY CAN HAMMER AT THE FRONT GATE!)

Oh, and I left Left-Gate open, for trolls to rush in, because battle fatigue, sigh.

Here's the far-left signal fire. The battlewagon can't capture it -- I just experimented. I have also come to the first awareness of just how fast the battlewagons get ahead of all support, even in a group. Fortunately, no one is around this part of the map?

How's central gate going?

...well, surprisingly pretty good. I've got another fresh catapult on the way, for the left flank; three berserk squads reinforced with a battlewagon (ha ha) in case anything breaks through, and at the moment the AI doesn't want to get within my catapult's range. Also, the AI can't send cave trolls close enough to bombard my gate, I guess, without being outranged by my pults (possibly from my being uphill)! So, it's a handy stalemate. I remember to buy the siege hammer passive tech upgrade which I hope to help Brand's mission, and forget to cast "repair" on my central tower there while I may have time to recharge it before serious trouble builds up again.

I send the BrandIthi group south into the forest, and lookee!

I leave this to its fate in good supervillain fashion (...uh, gotta go with the superstructure theme, yo?); check in on Central Gate, which is repulsing attacks nicely; I remember to do a Repair on the central structures, yay; I stupidly train some more battlewagons (because I just feel in my heart they must be usefully awesome despite all evidence so far to the contrary), and also a "demolisher" battering ram which I plan to send out left gate, too, to help IthiBrand's task force. I even spare a moment to finally buy fire-arrow tech and to miss seeing a troll wandering around inside my base. Things are looking up! -- wait, what? King Brand is in trouble?

I barely manage to save Brand from... I'm not kidding, a sewage treatment plant (used by one of the teams for resource gathering). Specifically from its archery tower. Pulling him back behind the elf-girl, and switching him to archery for support, I look around for the battlewagon and its portable hearthhhhyeah, no, it's dead already.

...I feel like I... like I saw something back there I maybe should have attended to...

Oh crap, the AI sent a cave troll (and maybe other support) to my right gate, where it (or a friend) not only knocked out one of my catapults but also my gate. I've been leaking troll squads into my base for minutes and haven't even noticed yet! -- one mine gone already (and an experienced one, too... this snapshot was after I had already replaced it). Gotta solve this problem before getting back to my plan to do much the same to the enemy which hasn't even barely succeeded yet...

Eventually I seal up right-gate again, but the computer and I both sense weakness here. It lacks catapult support now, for one thing; it has an unpluggable hole next to the gate for another.

(Worth noting: the pillar for the catapult hasn't been destroyed yet, so I could actually rebuild the pult! -- but I don't know this yet.)

An eye-ey... eye-ish... whisper whispers to me: "all you have to do is run away, and it will all be over..."

Hm. How about I finally get around to sending that new battlewagon and demolisher out the left-gate to help BrandIthi? They've already shot down (??) one cesspit. Working on another one in range!

Let's see, central gate still okay. Right gate...

...could be a lot worse; glad I sent one of my pults to go help! I decide to make another and send it to permanently take station behind where I lost the pillar-pult. (Again, I don't realize yet that I can still rebuild this.)

Hey, Team Evil: why don't you just give up?! Oh, because I've forgotten again to shut left-gate after sending out the vehicles? Okay then!

Worth noting. After I took that snapshot, did I close this gate? No. Why?  Well, because I had another few battlewagons wandering around to round up, and I didn't want to forget to open the gate later!

...I was getting tired.

I do remember to shut the gate this time once I send out the battlewagon (and catapult) reinforcement to IthiBrand, who have been steadily plinking away at resource stations from a safe distance (while my Demolisher goes in for a finishing blow perhaps, when I notice it isn't doing anything, and if IthiBrand doesn't finish shooting the stations out first.) Is this having any effect on incoming horde strength? It should be!

On the balance, I have to think I'm making a real dent: any mines they've thumped, I've remade (even if they aren't back to full potency yet). So far I've shot every builder trying to reinstate their sites (I think).

I have to think that, because if I didn't I'd probably just listen to the eye whispering in my head and go do something else with my life until I die.

Central Gate distracts me for a minute or two; but I get the gates rebuilt and shut, and I've got more Dale archers training and on the way.

I check on BrandIthi's Task Force, and send them on down to the next cesspit.'s a mixed report.

Despite my joke, they are actually attacking it. By weakly butting into it. The demolisher finishes it off quickly. Didn't I have a catapult over here??

Back to central gate, no problems there, three archer groups arriving, tech them all up, and another pult for gate defense, we've found the enemy base, buy firepitch for it...

...wait, what? That's IthiBrand Taskforce, right? Is this a good thing?

The battlewagons, as I hope I have finally learned by now, die very quickly (the one in that snap lasted literally two more seconds.) The demolisher doesn't last long enough to take down one building. (Helped by a special Angmar power -- I think this is Angmar's base -- of making a building temporarily invulnerable; something I don't recognize yet.)

IthiBrand flee for their lives, closely pursued by some enemy squads. Ithilia is so wounded, I can't even dare stop to get rid of a builder creating another resource pit already.

I try summoning some guest Dale Archers (who don't get any upgrades btw), to hold off the enemy archer group chasing us, long enough for us to at least tag out one of the replacement cesspits.

This doesn't work. Brand goes down; and I can't take a moment to get Ithilia out of this mess (I really think she has already gone down and the game is just lagging about it), because: gate is being overrun again.

And -- repulsed again! I had to rebuild the gate, but they didn't even get close to through. Huh. I begin to distantly evaluate just how great Dale Archers are (upgraded). Order another one, and another pike... hey. Ithi isn't dead yet?

Well great? And she destroyed that cesspit! Still time to send her home, but she and the temp-dales take out another resourcer on the way in.

And then I forget to bring her in. But it's okay, because the enemy leaves her alone: she just sits out there shooting that resource point by herself and regenerating health pretty quickly; when it dies, a builder comes along to restart it, and she continues harassing it.

Meanwhile, I did find an enemy camp! How best to get rid of it? Hm. I find the catapult I thought I sent out to help (I hadn't), and while nursing Central Gate from other attacks (the gate keeps being destroyed and I keep rebuilding, but nothing is getting through), I build two pikes and an axe-thrower squad: I can't afford any more archers, because I've actually reached my maximum command limit (a tad over really, 1004/1000)!

That seems good, right? I tech up this new task force, and send it out to find Ithilia. (I haven't remembered to heal Brand yet. Turns out I can't anyway -- he has a command point cost, too, and I'm at my command limit.)

Central gate keeps me distracted a while -- that and sending one of my three builders (one died a long time back) out left gate to reach Taskforce Ithi. Checking on how she's doing?

Team Evil has been sending out squads to 'spot' them and then nuke them with three teams worth of special attack powers. I get there in time to see the last stand of the last of the pikes; but I've sent over an actual archer team, too (the axe throwers have gone I don't know where), and they're doing okay. Also the catapult.

The lon(nnnnnnn)g and the short of it, is that the whole task force dies; Ithilia is mobbed by a bunch of squads (including the goofballs with the Ring!); I summon guest-archers again to save her hash; this doesn't work and Ithilia falls; but not before the Ring gets dropped.

That cloud of dust in upper central left, though? That's my builder working on a tower.
ICEBREAKER THESIS CHRONOLOGY! -- Victor Suvorov's Stalin Grand Strategy theory, in lots and lots of chronological order...
Dawn of Armageddon -- narrative AAR for Dawn of War: Soulstorm: Ultimate Apocalypse
Survive Harder! -- Two season narrative AAR, an Amazon Blood Bowl career.
PanzOrc Corpz Generals -- Fantasy Wars narrative AAR, half a combined campaign.
Khazâd du-bekâr! -- narrative dwarf AAR for LotR BfME2 RotWK campaign.
RobO Q Campaign Generator -- archived classic CMBB/CMAK tool!


(The final dregs of) The Sucky Defense of Doh I could have been watching The Legend of the Galactic Heroes tonight

That cloud of dust in upper central left, though? That's my builder working on a tower.

The crazy thing, is that after a troll destroys it, the computer trots everyone off to assault the Central Gate again. They don't bother to kill my builder! -- he actually manages to stay out here in the protection of an expanding network of towers I set him to build (when I remember he's here) for the rest of the game, slowly marching his tower-line forward to Angmar's base. He can't do anything worth speaking of when he gets close there, but he does serve as an ongoing distraction! I'll give a snap when the battle's close to over.

I spend some time working on this plan, and tower spam works so well keeping resources down in this area (not altogether; some builders get past) and drawing Angmar troop attention, that I get some leeway to start forward out of Central Gate again!

There are some key differences this time.

1.) I have a much more heavy archer to melee ratio. And they've been leveling up for a while guarding the central gate. (To be fair, I have all three berserk squads still in the group, too.)

2.) I have two catapults with them; and this time they have a bunch of fast-killing Dale archers for support.

This allows me enough time to get my other two dwarf builders across the map to the crossroads, and I actually get towers going, as well as a statue and hearth afterward for buffing the Crossroad Force! By this time, Brand and Ithilia have returned.

Those are my next two towers going up! -- and yes, I've got a goatwagon in there because I'm still not convinced they're somehow useful. (Also, I haven't yet realized I can only buy one upgrade for each wagon.)


This keeps going for a while.

It isn't pretty.

And it takes me a while to figure out the most efficient build strategy. In fact I never quite do: I keep wasting money (and command points) on goat simulators, when I should have brought another two builders so I could always have two flanking towers and also new buff stations being built simultaneously. Also, I still haven't remembered real-time strategy 101 day 1. (... ....... oh, right, CREATE EFFECTIVE GROUPS!) So I'm constantly moving squads around piecemeal. And I have a hard time remembering to set my replacement flags forward for new arrivals, so a bunch of archers just sit in the backfield a while, not even teching up.


But I'm slogging down that bridge!

At this point (and for some time afterward) I haven't really started attacking their base(s) yet. But the chief one is just south of here. I spend some time getting a new range, barrack, and forge set up, so that I can get reinforcements to the front quickly.

Fredgar's tower network has reached the environs of the enemy base, too.

It takes another while. And another half a while.

But once I've got four flaming catapults in range of the enemy base, the outcome is no longer in doubt.

I do, in fact, win the Second Defense of Dol Guldur.

...despite my best efforts otherwise at times. :pullhair:

Worth noting: Angmar actually still had significantly more units than I did when Team Evil packed up to go home.

Also, I was left with waaay more troops after the fight than I could afford to keep on the strat map. That was despite a little more than 82% casualties against me! But I couldn't, in the end, keep any of them. Dol Guldur, and Ithilia, ended that fight with not one more troop than she started with. (Except Brand. Awww!)

Still, I slodged through five thousand eight hundred and sixty four dead Team Evil units, with a better than 8:1 kill ratio.

...and I still have to deal with this place again. You know I will. Why?

Because Grima Wormtongue wasn't in this battle.

ICEBREAKER THESIS CHRONOLOGY! -- Victor Suvorov's Stalin Grand Strategy theory, in lots and lots of chronological order...
Dawn of Armageddon -- narrative AAR for Dawn of War: Soulstorm: Ultimate Apocalypse
Survive Harder! -- Two season narrative AAR, an Amazon Blood Bowl career.
PanzOrc Corpz Generals -- Fantasy Wars narrative AAR, half a combined campaign.
Khazâd du-bekâr! -- narrative dwarf AAR for LotR BfME2 RotWK campaign.
RobO Q Campaign Generator -- archived classic CMBB/CMAK tool!


(Note for all those who managed to slog this far with me through the Battles of Dol Guldur: I will DEFINITELY be making subsequent battle reports shorter. For whatever reasons.  :arr: )
ICEBREAKER THESIS CHRONOLOGY! -- Victor Suvorov's Stalin Grand Strategy theory, in lots and lots of chronological order...
Dawn of Armageddon -- narrative AAR for Dawn of War: Soulstorm: Ultimate Apocalypse
Survive Harder! -- Two season narrative AAR, an Amazon Blood Bowl career.
PanzOrc Corpz Generals -- Fantasy Wars narrative AAR, half a combined campaign.
Khazâd du-bekâr! -- narrative dwarf AAR for LotR BfME2 RotWK campaign.
RobO Q Campaign Generator -- archived classic CMBB/CMAK tool!



"Well! -- we did it again, my boy! The dwarves threw three armies out of Dol Guldur this time, did you hear?"

"Must have been a dwarven fortress originally!" laughed Gimli, as his father smugly gazed off toward the western gloom; who added, "It sure is now!"

"I have heard," the man beside them grimly gritted, looking instead to the south, "that many Men gave their lives in helping you keep that cursed place."

"...and Ithilia of the Woodland Realm came near to death herself," the elven courier nearby quietly reminded.

"Ohhhh, I suppose they followed our lead well enough," Gloin allowed.

"Now Theoden King," Gimli tried to comfort the man. "Tis no fault of yours that, with your few troops you couldn't hold the Dead Marshes behind the advance of your striding ally. He did take the Black Gate, and not much stands to oppose him within that mountain ring."

"I don't give a straw for those marshes. All my homeland is held by the enemy, and I must needs cross more enemy land now to return as their king."

"Don't be hasty!" the younger dwarf leader exclaimed. "Stay here with us till we're ready to push onward."

But the king wouldn't listen to reason: "My chances are best through the Marshes right now; too many foes in the Old Brown Lands to pass without note."

"Let him go lad. Let him be," Gloin sighed.

"Yes, let me be!" the horse-master snapped. "Gondor fell this past week! The city itself! We hold nothing now except Osgiliath, in name only, and Cair Andros, plus the Black Gate for now. Here, courier," he addressed the ranger waiting to ferry news. "Who survives in Osgiliath, Boromir? If he stands there alone, ask him to march also into the Marches, there to meet me. Together we can hold better, and then march in better union to retake..." he strode away already planning ahead, the courier following.

"I guess if they expect to lose Osgiliath, too, better to consolidate -- or try," Gloin nodded.

"They have a better chance than his kinsman; Eowyn?" "Eomer." " -- who now," Gimli continued, "seeks to take back Lorien again, from that spider-thing and whoever else has infested it. Again."

"Aye, well, all we can do is hold until our troops have gathered sufficiently for both of us to advance in parallel while still securing Dagorlad."

"That'll take a while," Gimli judged; his father nodded. "What about Dol Guldur? Should we send a squad or two to help?"

"What, and be overrun here?! Our fortress isn't so grand! Those two youngsters can call for help again if something happens; we didn't need to keep more than wall-towers and catapults there before."

(Sometime later that week:)

...this is a game where Grima can Wormtongue Dol Guldur until it collapses from exhaustion and submits to his will.

-- ---- there's no way to make that sound less ridiculous. So I went the other way.

ICEBREAKER THESIS CHRONOLOGY! -- Victor Suvorov's Stalin Grand Strategy theory, in lots and lots of chronological order...
Dawn of Armageddon -- narrative AAR for Dawn of War: Soulstorm: Ultimate Apocalypse
Survive Harder! -- Two season narrative AAR, an Amazon Blood Bowl career.
PanzOrc Corpz Generals -- Fantasy Wars narrative AAR, half a combined campaign.
Khazâd du-bekâr! -- narrative dwarf AAR for LotR BfME2 RotWK campaign.
RobO Q Campaign Generator -- archived classic CMBB/CMAK tool!


Putting this here because I don't know where else to put it


...write your suggestions on a postcard and send them to this address.......
'We few, we happy few, we band of brothers'

'Clip those corners'

Recombobulate the discombobulators!


Oh, the battle is on the way; I'm just working on how to trim it down. Unfortunately, despite being seared into my memory, Grima didn't get that far in the final battle; and worse, I discovered I had deleted my video footage of him actually crumbling the central castle from an earlier playthrough. Still, he got there at least twice! I'm glad I had some footage to prove it.
ICEBREAKER THESIS CHRONOLOGY! -- Victor Suvorov's Stalin Grand Strategy theory, in lots and lots of chronological order...
Dawn of Armageddon -- narrative AAR for Dawn of War: Soulstorm: Ultimate Apocalypse
Survive Harder! -- Two season narrative AAR, an Amazon Blood Bowl career.
PanzOrc Corpz Generals -- Fantasy Wars narrative AAR, half a combined campaign.
Khazâd du-bekâr! -- narrative dwarf AAR for LotR BfME2 RotWK campaign.
RobO Q Campaign Generator -- archived classic CMBB/CMAK tool!


(Yeah, it's time for:) THE THIRD DEFENSE OF DOL GULDUR

Look. Y'all have suffered along with me through two of these defenses already. ...or else you sanely decided to skip most or all of those posts. Whichever, doesn't matter. All that matters is, can I find a way to keep from being humiliated by Grima Wormtongue? That's all. That's all that matters.

I should perhaps mention here that the prior snapshot was at least my fifth attempt at the third defense of Dol Guldur. Sadly, the playthrough where he actually succeeded in wearing down the castle more-or-less by himself, was lost to the myths of mystery before I realized I should save that video long enough to snapshot it.

Anyway. Team Evil was through messing around this time. They didn't just send Grima (oh noooeeess!) I think they sent every hero still within a territory of Dol Guldur, and they definitely sent builders from all four enemy armies. What most of them didn't send was any troops, just builders. That didn't stop them from pumping out tons of troops quickly; and one team brought some tough starting troops.

After Matrix/hogging this battle a while, I came to the conclusion that math is a harsh mistress, and she dictated that with four enemy teams against me I not only had to max my revenue asap, I absolutely needed to trim off some of theirs asap. And with no units of my own either to start with, I only had one way to do that.

IthiBrand had to die.

I'll explain that in a minute. First, the crucial setup.

There are a couple of limits on how many new power points I can earn per battle. Eventually I'll hit a hard limit where nothing I do will earn any more; their gain or loss depends entirely on gaining and losing various territories. Until then, I can gain a few points per battle by how much damage I do to the enemy using my units -- my units, I emphasize, not my buildings. I think catapults count, but only if they're rolling; not axe towers (even if I build them), nor stationary wall pults (whether I build them or not).

The result of this factor, is that in my first defense of Dol Guldur, I only racked up one point (because the enemy packed up and quit just as I got seriously rolling); and in my second defense, the previous battle, I only racked up three more points -- and that stopped a lonnnnng time before I won that fight! So the limit per battle is three points, evidently. This means, since I started with 25, I now have 29: one point short of being able to take two Level 2 powers and two Level 1s. But my strategy will involve me doing things to earn me that last point quickly (after which it'll be a while before I get enough more to buy something else useful in a fight).

So I choose the two most useful 1st Levels, "Heal" and "Repair"; which happen to open paths to the two most useful 2nd Levels, "Tower" and "Dale Archers". I can set one of those to warming up now; I'll have to activate the other one later. After waaaay too many horrifying Edges of Destruction(s?), I have decided that early in the battle I need mobile shooters, even though they're temporary, more than I need to place an axe tower instantly anywhere (flat, that I can see), even though it's permanent. (Until and unless it's destroyed; the archers will go away in a few minutes by themselves regardless.)

So on with the show. Even though I need cash flow, and lots of it, as soon as possible, I also need to defend my left gate as soon as possible because that side is where whoever brought a few tough starting troops camps. I think they all start directly south opposite me and then spread left and right, but that guy always goes left. I also, however, need to nix one or two of the teams as hard as possible as early as possible, and that means sending IthiBrand south out the Central Gate as a team. Alone, with no support.

For several attempts I thought I ought to send a builder or two to try to set up a strong support station down here:

...south of the bridge and the central signal fire.

Those glowy treasures mid-screen right mean a spider's nest or something has been destroyed by combat troops already! -- and not by mine! But they wandered off, probably to collect the signal-fire flag, and forgot the gold. The enemy builder didn't think about it either, just plopped a resource building nearby. Someone will eventually be assigned to go after that gold; we have to choose about getting it first or wiping some buildings first. There are builders zipping around, and it's important to snipe them, too, if I can, because if I can take out all the builders on a side, they'll be permanently crippled, unable to make more buildings without a fortress that they probably haven't been building yet. So I have a target-rich environment, that for the first minute or so after arrival can't quite fight back yet. But that changes quickly, and soon IthiBrand will be mostly fending off increasingly strong squads (and the occasional enemy hero, like Rogash the SuperTroll), with only a rare opportunity to take down a resource building.

This is why I originally thought I should be building a minibase down here myself. But the problem is that there's no way I can build a base strong enough to keep from getting rolled by two or three remaining evil teams; and then all that cash and builder-activity has been wasted, leaving Team Evil with even more of an advantage I can never catch up to. In fact, every time I tried this, I couldn't build enough to defend left gate (those resources going to build axe-towers here instead, plus the healing hearth and heroic statue), and the enemy punched through early there every time. Not as early as if I kept BrandIthi cohabitating! -- them being down here does serve as a distraction for some leftward units. But still. Trying to help them leads to Grima Wormtongue-ing my central castle, and that is the very illustration of "LOSER".

Consequently: all I can do is give IthiBrand some targets occasionally, and let them take care of themselves (with the help of a temporary Dale Archer squad or maybe even two) -- until they die.

But that's enough time for me to put my four builders (two original, plus two immediately queued for training), to cover every usable diameter in Dol Guldur with mines, starting with the two most efficient sites. And before even starting that, to start towering up on my gates.

So what did IthiBrand buy with their heroic casualty charge and about 13 game minutes?

1.) A crippled southern base.

2.) A major shortfall in cash for at least two teams, maybe a minor shortfall for a third one.

3.) The elimination of a number of squads and (temporarily) enemy commanders who take a long time for the computer to be able to rebuy, if ever -- costing the computer money it can't meanwhile be spending elsewhere.

4.) A secure right wing, which only needed three towers to survive basically unharmed this long.

All axe-towers in that and the next two screens are upgraded with runs, btw.

(Editor's note: with runes, not with the runs!  :P)

5.) A central gate area so secure...

...that the catapults at the bridge still exist; I've got three upgraded towers at the gate; and a mine in the courtyard (every bit helps); and my range and barracks are already 2nd tier (with banner tech being bought in that snapshot) with my forge almost ready nearby (and a second forge ready to start construction, so I can pump out cats while also working on high-level tech research -- and later pump out two catapults at a time). This area will soon have at least two more upgraded towers, and its forward troop production will allow me to send reinforcements left, right, and (obviously) center faster.

6.) Left gate hasn't fallen yet, and instead:

...I have so many (quickly upgraded) axe-towers here, that I haven't lost a catapult yet and I'm actually better off keeping the gate open!

"The best defense is a strong wall of rune-axes." -- Me

7.) Oh, and as noted, I've put down so many mines, so quickly (and so the first ones have self-upgraded so far already), and with no interruptions from a breached gate, that I can not only afford to put all this out by now, but I can easily pay for Ithilia and Brand to start healing in the castle. They'll be back soon, leveled up thanks to their adventure, and by then I'll have some troops waiting to help them on their next foray.

Which is where I make my first major mistake for this battle. In my defense, I hadn't gotten this far before; by now, wolves and cavalry are usually running riot in my stronghold while Grima is... ..... okay, let's not dwell on that. That's the past, this is the future.

Win or lose.

... more on that development later.
ICEBREAKER THESIS CHRONOLOGY! -- Victor Suvorov's Stalin Grand Strategy theory, in lots and lots of chronological order...
Dawn of Armageddon -- narrative AAR for Dawn of War: Soulstorm: Ultimate Apocalypse
Survive Harder! -- Two season narrative AAR, an Amazon Blood Bowl career.
PanzOrc Corpz Generals -- Fantasy Wars narrative AAR, half a combined campaign.
Khazâd du-bekâr! -- narrative dwarf AAR for LotR BfME2 RotWK campaign.
RobO Q Campaign Generator -- archived classic CMBB/CMAK tool!


(Yet another entry for) THE THIRD DEFENSE OF DOG, URLY?

Let's see, checking my previous post, where did I leave off? Hm... oh, right, the right gate. Where I've just summoned a temporary force of Dale Archers to help put down another raid. They appear with an equally temporary poof of grass, because the game thinks they're elven archers.

-- I meant the LEFT GATE!

But I should have been thinking the right gate. Except I wasn't at the time. Only now, in hindsight. And... and that's why I called this the right gate! Because of wishful thinking.

Yeah, my Dale Archers there didn't last long before being steamrolled by seven more amped-up squads. Eh, they were going to vaporize away anyway.

So, the strongest camps of Team Evil must be on the left side of the map, demonstrably. And they're getting worse. Naturally, I not only want to build up a strong defense to parry their assaults, but... well, naturally I kind of fixate on 'fixing' that problem.

That's a mistake, and a big one. What I should have been doing, when building up an assault crew of my own (which takes several minutes), is preparing to go rightward, where the enemy is thinnest, and roll down the map that way, wiping out enough support on a clockwise orbit of the map, that this would trigger too much of a lead by me in some area and the computer would give up early and I wouldn't have to fight a slug match over there against a numerically superior foe with better funding. That's what Yang Wenli would do.

In my defense, my left-gate defense was being hit so increasingly hard that a cave troll managed to permanently wipe out one of my defensive catapult towers flanking the gate (before I realized the danger and could cast a repair on the area). I was so desperate I threw one of my free axe-tower spawns down there to save the day -- too late. Also, the tower itself got torn down soon afterward. My best way to save left gate from being overrun seemed to be a careful, strong counterthrust.

Even with Brand (now returned, and Ithilia on the way) and a squad of buffed Dale Archers now built and assigned to the gate, plus a hearth and statue for extra buffing, Team Evil keeps hitting it so hard that two whole squads of warg riders punch through! They're soon put down by the expedient of running through my central courtyard, now home to another two archery squads gearing up plus a bunch more axe-towers, but still. I'm not feeling comfortable with leaving Left Gate alone. (Also note in that snapshot, my other catapult tower has been shorn of its pult, although I can still rebuild there. For now.)

What eventually evolves, is that in order to buy time for me to work up a suitable left-gate defense --

-- I have to push leftward across the river into the blighted forest anyway. Where I start wilting various scattered resource sites.

What I have come to realize meanwhile, is that as long as I have Left Gate open, the enemy will ignore attempting any other gates, and send everyone there. Which is great for protecting the other two gates by comparison, but then Left Gate needs to be that much more moxier to compensate.

And no, that isn't (entirely) a joke; that still isn't moxie enough.

This will become evident soon.

By 'soon' I mean 'after my minifort up here at the top of the forest has been wiped out'.

If you're like me (and I know I am), you may be thinking, "Yeesh, man, just let Dol Guldur go!" and "But wait, that minifort looks pretty boss! You've got two axe-towers supporting, and two catapults throwing four balls of fire, and an archery range pumping out replacement Dale Archers, plus IthiBrand sniping all of reality! This is basically a win a few minutes from now, right?!" Yes, imaginary voice in my head, I recall thinking the same thing at the time! Never mind that the reason I rushed a builder out there to put up a range was because my previous batch of archers had already been destroyed! See, if they could be destroyed once, then...

...then certainly I should be able to push down, especially with flaming catapult support, and just keep on rolling! That's a major base, and crushing it would probably remove at least one opponent. Indeed, I --

-- wait, why are my troops running back to minibase? WHERE ARE MOST OF MY TROOPS!? Agh, most of my cats are stuck out front, and being overrun! What, how...?

Well, I can only make guesses since I wasn't looking (with my screencapture) when it happened, but I think I stupidly marched my army right into the middle of their base, probably in a misclicked attempt at shattering their fortress, which was currently throwing giant boulders at me. So when I scrolled off, my archers were being hit by literally everything.

Two minutes later, all my archers are tromped (again), Brand's last few hitpoints are fried off by one of my own catapults striking nearby, and Ithi is about to be a casualty again, too. And there's no way my local range is going to pump out enough archers to replace the losses, much less time for me to buff them with three upgrades, in time to hold the area.
Fortunately, I've got enough gold to start working on recalling IthiBrand immediately, but their return will still take time; ditto rebuilding a task force. But I've got an army of axe-towers waiting!

...they've got a Hulk.

Actually, two of them. Together they can remove one tower per attack, in complete safety.

There's only one way that math ends up.

Yeah, even summoning some temporary Dale Archers nearby doesn't help much; just delays them a little.

And so the circle of narrative is complete, back to the future I showed at the end of the prior entry, and the end of this battle begins.
ICEBREAKER THESIS CHRONOLOGY! -- Victor Suvorov's Stalin Grand Strategy theory, in lots and lots of chronological order...
Dawn of Armageddon -- narrative AAR for Dawn of War: Soulstorm: Ultimate Apocalypse
Survive Harder! -- Two season narrative AAR, an Amazon Blood Bowl career.
PanzOrc Corpz Generals -- Fantasy Wars narrative AAR, half a combined campaign.
Khazâd du-bekâr! -- narrative dwarf AAR for LotR BfME2 RotWK campaign.
RobO Q Campaign Generator -- archived classic CMBB/CMAK tool!



About a minute after that last snapshot, and after killing two stone giants, we're here:

With, uh, two stone giants blasting down the last of my towers outside Left Gate, Brand already sent to the hospital again, my next two archer squads already slaughtered, and by the way still no replacement catapult next to my gate.

I'm thinking if they want Dol Guldur this badly, maybe we should let them have it.

And then... somehow the two remaining giants die.

I think it's because being up on a hill, my two rolling catapults currently buried in axe-towers behind the gate, can outrange them; and partly because the giants get distracted removing some archery towers (successfully) from the nearby cliff walls. Anyway, Ithilia and some fresh archer squads get outside the gate, and... sure, why not, I'll try that push again. It almost worked the first time.

This time I advance a lot more slowly, taking up a position at the ford until I can get an axe-tower forest build behind me. I still haven't yet learned how best to use my catapults, who easily account for half my own casualties, but...

...if you keep throwing enough catapults at a problem, it can go away. Along with a lot of my own troops. :P

Also, I've got a battlewagon out there, supposedly bringing a portable healing hearth, but I still don't know how to micromanage those things so it isn't doing much except sucking up command points for no purpose.

It's notable that I just barely saved that task force with a Healing ability, despite the tiny hearth on that wagon. To be fair, I had just moved it into place -- but I also didn't trust it to work enough in time.

Still, I've got a mobile firebase now. Ho, ho, ho.

Annnnd my fragile goat-hearth gets goat-ed into attacking the enemy base all by itself (while I'm busy back at Left Gate extending the axe-tower forest some more, and queuing more archers on the way), leading to its inevitable demise. The battlewagon's, I mean. Ho, ho, ho! #battlewagonsaretheworst.

I lose a lot of archers getting my pults up in range of that giant, but:

Yeah, how about this time we hang back and guard the catapults and let them take care of business?

This plan almost fails, on the edge of a knife a few times, not least when they start dueling with the rock giants standing on top of the enemy fortress.

Still, the two remaining cats eventually nix the fortress -- at the cost of one more cat -- and that gives me time to post up here outside the remnants of (most of) the base, while I bring in builders (and some replacement catapults) to minibase again near the signal fire.

Why there? Because I claimed it, so I not only get a small bonus to my power-recharging, but the AI will fixate on trying to take it back. And I can use that distraction to my advantage.

Annoyingly, and probably by accident, the AI summons some axe throwing hillmen or something between my archers and my newly arrived catapult squad, which results in a lot of my archers dying when my catapults smother them in protective attention: I still haven't gotten a handle on how best to use them.

Still, with some increasingly subtle fieldwork:

I'm able to wipe out that extended base network -- and in the process defeat three of the four teams camped there!

...wait. I'm going to win again? I actually found a way to defend Goldangur again?!



Only 69% casualties on my side this time, though. And, 'only' 4777 enemy casualties this time.

I can only hope they learn their lesson and never, ever, ever attack here again, ever.
ICEBREAKER THESIS CHRONOLOGY! -- Victor Suvorov's Stalin Grand Strategy theory, in lots and lots of chronological order...
Dawn of Armageddon -- narrative AAR for Dawn of War: Soulstorm: Ultimate Apocalypse
Survive Harder! -- Two season narrative AAR, an Amazon Blood Bowl career.
PanzOrc Corpz Generals -- Fantasy Wars narrative AAR, half a combined campaign.
Khazâd du-bekâr! -- narrative dwarf AAR for LotR BfME2 RotWK campaign.
RobO Q Campaign Generator -- archived classic CMBB/CMAK tool!



Weary to the bone, Ithilia and King Brand looked warily at each other. Both had been critically wounded often in the previous battle; both had recovered from the edge of death many times, and returned to the field.

"At least this time," Brand grated quietly, "my men will stay with me here, at my command."

"All the catapults will be staying, too. This time," she grimly added, and spat on the ground. "Because we could pay them enough to stay."

Brand couldn't meet her eyes. His own men had abandoned Dol Guldur twice for lack of pay -- at the instigation of the dwarves. "We aren't a numerous people," he tried to explain. "We've suffered many casualties, hundreds so far. And many more to come no doubt."

"While the dwarves send out a few in towers and catapults. They keep their losses few as well. And as for our losses," she emphasized, "your people have not been driven to the edge of extinction."



" any room on those boats to the Undying Lands? Maybe your people have the right idea. If Sauron wants to make a hellpit of Middle Earth, leave him to it."

"Even if we had enough ships to evacuate the continent, which we don't, and even if we had permission to bring anyone other than elves within sight of the Undying Lands, which we don't anymore, thanks to the fools in Numenor -- the Witch-king holds the Grey Havens. We would practically have to win the war to escape the war."

"Fine. Just kidding anyway. This is our home. You've heard from your couriers?"

"Yes. Aragorn has taken Mount Doom itself. A foolish plan; the enemy has simply retaken Black Gate behind him. But Theoden and Boromir did retake the Marshes again, so..."

"The man has gone mad, trying to return to his overrun lands."

"Osgiliath and Cair Andros have fallen," she continued, "as the price for the Marshes. Only worth it had Aragorn stood long enough to fortify the gate. I fully expect the Marshes to fall again soon, before anything can be made of them. Which won't be much."

"Perhaps Aragorn will stay to build up Mount Doom, and one commander will succeed in retaking the Gates, and so create a fortified wedge into... ...." Brand couldn't believe that would happen. His fellow Men didn't seem to have enough sense to consolidate. "At least Eomer got Lorien back while the enemy commanders were trying to defeat us."

"Which he will give away again without fortifying it sufficiently. He marches already for Moria."

"Well, if the enemy leaves us a little more alone this week, and takes Lorien behind Eomer's back," Brand sighed, "...why, by the Stone, is a cavalry commander advancing alone into Moria? But if that happens, Gimli has moved into the Greenwood with a squad of pikemen, and may be able to put Lorien under our management soon. In any case, King Dain needs someone up there to defend his anchor position if he's going to try his plan someday.

"Or, if you prefer, I could try marching with some of our troops to retake Lorien should it fall again," offered King Brand, but:

"No," Ithilia came close to sobbing. "I do not think I can stand to fight for this wretched place one more time without help."

"Well: we are both wounded and need the rest. I'll stay for now," he promised.

While he was leaving her to the privacy of her exhaustion, a new elven ranger arrived.

"...what news now?" she sighed; and received his report. "By the Evenstar, are they purely insane?! Those fool Men, Theoden and Boromir," she explained as Brand hurried over. "They are trying to take the Old Brown Lands, where most of those enemy commanders we fought still linger! What...?" she paused as the courier passed more notes along. "And Gloin will take a small force to help. Well, that's something. Not much, but something."

"Dagorlad has been moderately well reinforced," Brand nodded. "Gloin should try a push, even though it seems likely less exhausted commanders will soon hit the Marshes to recapture them again. I guess this seems the better option, for Theoden, than waiting for a strong enemy group with no fortifications ready."

"More worries," Ithilia added, receiving notes from another arriving courier. "King Dain reports his scouts saying Morgomir, an Angmar commander, marches over the High Pass toward the Carrock. He stands alone, but with his fortress ready."

"The best we can do for now, is what we had already planned," King Brand stated. "Stay here, try to rest a bit, and act as a defensive diversion to draw any foolish enemy commanders into trying to take us again."

ICEBREAKER THESIS CHRONOLOGY! -- Victor Suvorov's Stalin Grand Strategy theory, in lots and lots of chronological order...
Dawn of Armageddon -- narrative AAR for Dawn of War: Soulstorm: Ultimate Apocalypse
Survive Harder! -- Two season narrative AAR, an Amazon Blood Bowl career.
PanzOrc Corpz Generals -- Fantasy Wars narrative AAR, half a combined campaign.
Khazâd du-bekâr! -- narrative dwarf AAR for LotR BfME2 RotWK campaign.
RobO Q Campaign Generator -- archived classic CMBB/CMAK tool!


(At last, not Dull Gully, but): The Defense of Lothlorien

Unfortunately, I don't get to start with that fortified area in place. (I guess that's from the campaign missions.)

I do however get to start with Gimli (still at 1st level for not having fought in the game yet), plus one squad of Dale Archers, and two squads of Dwarven Pikes. And while they're quite low-rent, not having upgraded or leveled up at all, they're something while the enemy only has Shelob (the goofy giant spider), and must build troops -- which can only be trash troops this early.

In other words:

...uh, that map was larger than I expected. Large enough that their base is a little farther along than I expected.

I mean, not as far along as my base defensively:

Oh, yeah! At last I can built my own fortress! -- which, granted, looks puny compared to Dol Guldur, but it's far more portable. And, cash allowing, I can build as many as I want. Not to mention extensions! Also, I've got an axe-tower already ready to help defend the approach to my first mine in my backfield, and I'm about to start my second mine. Once that fort is ready in a few more moments, I'll start a third, mine, too, and begin some fort upgrades. As it is, it's one giant axe-tower already, with a lot of toughness (which can be increased), and it can generate a steady income like a mine (just not as fast, nor does it upgrade with its own experience).

Meanwhile, how is the puny spider base goi--?

Dangit, TaskForceGim, you had one job, ONE JOB!

In their defense, they're still novices at being elite units.

Still, I've got enough mines going (three eventually), plus my fort, and choked up my area enough with defenses to prevent Shelob's spoiling counterattacks; and while one of the pikes doesn't survive the fight, Shelob never got her fort up. Consequently, when I happened to shoot the last builder: bang, the end. Victory to the base rush!

Worth noting, until I triggered their surrender by eliminating their final builder, Shelob's team was holding steady with me on score -- and I started with three entire squads!

This is just the warmup for Turn 8 however. The second and last battle for this turn isn't at DG either.
ICEBREAKER THESIS CHRONOLOGY! -- Victor Suvorov's Stalin Grand Strategy theory, in lots and lots of chronological order...
Dawn of Armageddon -- narrative AAR for Dawn of War: Soulstorm: Ultimate Apocalypse
Survive Harder! -- Two season narrative AAR, an Amazon Blood Bowl career.
PanzOrc Corpz Generals -- Fantasy Wars narrative AAR, half a combined campaign.
Khazâd du-bekâr! -- narrative dwarf AAR for LotR BfME2 RotWK campaign.
RobO Q Campaign Generator -- archived classic CMBB/CMAK tool!