It must be said that this was one of the most sinfully boring games I've ever played. I think the only one that might top this that I can remember was a 1v1 where Delean's monarch built a lodestone, and then began building their deity.
I decided to go with this set up of 8 Zhon players kind of by accident. I knew I wanted a full array of Zhon only, but I hadn't yet decided which map (thus how many players). So by chance I drew the Landron's Tarn
map, 8 players shoved into a relatively small area - but with plenty of dynamic terrain. The rules were simple: map revealed, no cheat codes, monarch expendable, 200 unit limit. I'm playing Vanilla TA:K
here, so that means no Iron Plague expansion or any 3rd party modifications.
To make it interesting, though, I decided to avoid Zhon's deadly air abilities, and gave myself some guidelines. Where possible, I would utilize non-fatal aerial units - except the Ancient Dragon. I would not, however, even begin building the Ancient Dragon until I encountered an enemy Ancient Dragon. Also, since this map has a large lake in the middle, I opted for no naval units and no Death Totems. With that all decided, I started play.
By chance, I started in the northwest corner, amidst a sort of double-ring of stone berns. So, that was a happy gift, giving me some insulation and natural chokepoints.
Because I'd given up the deadliest portion of Zhon's ranged capacity, I opted for a... sort of non-violent (
) defense of stone-gazing Basilisks to guard the narrows. Meanwhile, I began churning out Bats and Hunters. The Bats would then guard the Hunters to give constant spotters at the front.
That last group of Hunters bit the dust, however, running into a trio of Death Totems right at my backdoor and one of Enemy Thirsha's waves. So I built a couple of Stone Giants (one pictured here, the other playing bouncer at the west gate). If you notice the shadow at the top of the picture, I have begun a small coterie of Harpies. They are non-fatal, after all. Those trolls and goblin are a gift from said harpies to watch the giant's back.
With the help of that Stone Giant, my second wave of Hunters swept in on the heals of a few trolls finish off the Totems and the White Thirsha once and for all. An interesting thing, though... She was conjuring when she was first hit by a Hunter's spear, the she just... stopped. She floated down to the ground, as if stunned, and proceeded to take about 20-odd spears to the jugular. Weirdest \"****\" thing... but that wraps up White.
I've now begun building up my strike force, to really put the hurt on the foe. That Shaman is on Lodestone duty, and just north of here are Handlers and Tamers churning out Hunters and Harpies.
Meanwhile, I'd been hit by a couple of scouting parties by LightBlue Zhon on the east flank, so I swung my troops around to deal with them. Here we are just outside the range of Death Totems, waiting for the big galoot to catch his wind.
The attack was over quickly, I lost a few hunters and maybe a basilisk, some bats... nothing major. But again, Thirsha gets hit... and then sits the hell down. What is that? As you can see, one more spear is enough to end her, but by the end she's like porcupine.
I was surprised when that didn't wipe out the Light Blue. I took out another lodestone to the south, but then went up to the plateau and found this guy. That Dragon is over 90% complete. If I'd been just a little bit slower, my life might have gotten a bit more hectic. By the way, I DO count this as having encountered an enemy Ancient Dragon. But, within about 3 minutes, I catch the edge of another one heading back into the Fog of War - not pictured; he was just too quick.
This looks like just the kind of Thermopylae-ific place to shore up my east flank. I might leave my underbelly a little exposed to the odd aerial interloper, but nothing to fret about. (In fact, later, the last unit of the game is a Drake which has done just that, blazing away at one of my lodestones.) This small force will eventually capture about 4 builders of varying tier and another troll or two. That's the extent of their action - other than harassment from a Kraken or two.
Meanwhile, I've been reading the next phase. I plan on moving all of my current defensive forces (and that little raid group that just killed Light Blue) down to engage the Yellow player in the southwestern corner. Meanwhile, I will lead with my Ancient Dragon to just west of them and clear a landing zone (with Harpy help) to drop 5 fully-loaded Rocs - 2 loads of Orcs, 2 of Trolls, and 1 of Hunters.
While this is going on, I can't help but giggle a little. I remember years ago players complaining about Zhon having no walls. Look - I've got a wall, hand-made!
(There's a 30 minute gap here... I knew I was shored up in defenses, or good enough, anyway, so I went to do laundry and poop.)
It should be noted that just before this shot, my boys killed Yellow's Ancient Dragon. The poor fellow couldn't get a shot off, instead trying to dodge around all of the harpies. But then... well, you can see it. Thirsha hasn't even finished conjuring this poor Handler and my harpies are unloading on the intangible mass for all they're worth! Due to being bird-brained, this meant a few were easy meat for the Death Totems. And again, the Stone Giants were taking their sweet \"***\" time... though the Standing Stones also inhibited aim. Regardless, Yellow died shortly hereafter.
Even as the forces in the west are finishing up the last of Yellow, my invasion begins. It was delayed slightly by the death of my own Ancient Dragon. The idiot wasn't even a challenge for two Krakens (granted one was a Gold Veteran), but yeah, he died before I could extract him. Just useless! Meanwhile, just after this picture is taken, Dark Blue Thirsha wanders over from the east and waves one of my near-full Rocs... I think it had Trolls in it.
Regardless, we got rolling pretty quickly out of the gap and barreled into a couple of Totems and those same \"****\" Krakens off the coast. Suddenly I realize it might have been prudent to bring some harpies for the Krakens, and maybe station my Hunters on the ridge... Oh, and keep a close eye on Black Thirsha there (near the Kraken's bubble).
What had promised to be a quick pincer movement quickly fell all to pieces in the wake of the enfilade fire and Thirsha's own well-timed Wave. My forces from the west would catch up just in time to see it all end... Black Thirsha here dies in about 4 seconds with those two Orcs bashing her pearly-white face in. Does anyone know WHY Thirsha randomly lands and sits around while in combat?
Regardless of the devastating loss of virtually the whole of my AirCav, my veterans from the Yellow-stomping battle had arrived and swept on through (now with Stone Giants!) to crash into the Dark Blue in the southeastern corner. The Harpies, it turned out, were just wasted space. What you can see here is literally the whole of Dark Blue's base (other than a shaman and lodestone just out of sight). They all died real quick.
Finally, as the bloodlust rises, we all plunge happily to our doom charging down Death Totems from the south while our valiant High Pass Guards come down off the plateau. Few that there were, they helped keep any idiots from running too far. In short order, everyone on land was dead.
Then Purple Thirsha flies in from the Fog over the lake and... lands. Just floats on down to her death. WHAT THE HELL?! It's gotta be a bug from the Vanilla version...
So that wraps it all up. Also, somewhere around 1:30:00 I had to run for a bit, so I saved the game and exited. I'm not sure if this is a consistent thing, but the numbers after you've loaded ONLY include those relevant AFTER the load. So whatever kills/losses I had pre-save/-load are lost. Weird.
In Summary, well, you saw the fight. Boring as sin. Worst unit? Ancient Dragon. I'm not sure where exactly, but I lost a 2nd one to a couple of death totems. I left him working one while I micromanaged the army, thinking he was smart and powerful enough to kill them both. No such luck. He didn't even kill one. Not sure what happened there... The harpies come in with an honorable mention for least useful, but that's only in part due to the AI's performance. Rarely have I seen so MANY Death Totems and so FEW combat units - of course, considering how many veteran totems I ran into, perhaps the reason is there...