Another Renaissance mod AAR (5.1.3 version)

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LWE

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Another AAR of the wonderful Renaissance mod for Warlock 2 (https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=493257789), that greatly improves the game, making it a true Warlock 3. This AAR was played with the 5.1.3 version of the mod, with Sylvans, one of its new magnificent added races.
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The troubles of Ardania did not end when Miralbus defeated Dremargor. The creature's dying thrashings reverberated far across Ardania, bringing with them destruction and misery. No one knew what happened to Miralbus himself, other than the fact that after his disappearance, Nefertari, the Sorceress of the Desert, took command of the Humans of Ardania. But not only the Dremer were not completely defeated, with the Dremer Queen, a weakened, but a seemingly more sentient, and, thus, more dangerous entity, gaining control of the Dremer remnants, the Nagas of the Ardanian Ocean came forth with more aggressive plans against the land. Of all the past leaders, only Amberon of the Areth Order managed to remain in power, still bringing High Truth to the inhabitants of Ardania whatever it takes.

Faced with such horror and devastation, the forest creatures of Ardania - the mysterious Glade Wardens, the sentient Rocs of the forests, alongside with the Koatls, who were in disarray after Malinaxolchi's defeat, - decided that they can no longer remain on sidelines between the great powers. No, they needed to become a great power themselves - the Sylvans, dedicated to protecting Ardania from harm.

So, they united around a young, but brave and competent woman, a leader of a Halberdier encampment who fought against the Dremer before the catastrophe, gifting her the title of Sylvan Crusader.

1.jpg~original

The new leader proved herself competent in dealing with the Ice Elementals that were threatening the Sylvan capital of Greenmill.

2.jpg~original

Further south lay the small Human duchy of Ravenhood.

3.jpg~original

To the east were the snowy plains and portal to the world of Snowland.

4.jpg~original

Barracks were built in the city of Greenmill, for Koatl lizardmen to practice archery.

5.jpg~original

The Pig farms of Spellmere were established to provide the Koatls with adequate nourishment (On a side note, I like how pink and plump the "unharvested" pig resource looks, and always regret plastering over it with a boring pig pen, where the piggies become very small, unanimated, and covered by a roof).

6.jpg~original

To the west lay swamps, abandoned cemeteries filled with undead, and a portal to a Dremer world. Are these the only Dremers in the world right now, or are there more?...

7.jpg~original

The Training Grounds of Greenmill were always filled with the smell of blood and hoarse Koatl invocations to the God of Death, Mictecacihuatl. A reminder of the more brutal aspects of nature, the lizardmen were always here to protect the Sylvan Kingdom.

(It is always useful to build up the building chain to powerful units in at least one city. Also note that my research rate at this point is already 7 - the Secluded Glades are powerful in that they are a research building that you can build straight away, giving you a major early-game research boost equal to your number of cities. The Revelation Crystals of the playable Dremer faction play the same role, giving you a whopping +2 research, but the Dremers have other pecularities to make up for that).

8.jpg~original

So, the extra-planetary Dremers were, indeed, not the only ones... some of them have survived on Ardania, led by a hive queen...

9.jpg~original

It was clear to the Crusader that, eventually, the Dremer would have to be either driven away from Ardania or drive away everyone else who is not Dremer. Despite this, she was willing to give the second incantation of the Dremer a chance and to trade with them, while repelling the assaults of despicable criminal Rogue gangs.

10.jpg~original

The Sylvans are creatures of nature, but they don't reject technological innovation - especially if it comes in the form of UAG-19 combat golem. The Rogues learned this at their peril.

11.jpg~original

Despite her hatred for the Dremer, the Crusader was forced to accede to this request, understanding that an early war could prove lethal to her kingdom.

12.jpg~original

(The Sylvans' major drawback is their lacklustre mana production - a flipside of their "arcane" building line being half-mana, half-research - the Glade and the Hinterland Retreat produce no mana at all.

resline.jpg~original

Deserts of Vaindryn were used to mitigate somewhat this disadvantage.)

13.jpg~original

Lands of the Dremer Queen were south of Nefertari's domain. To the east of Nefertari lay the possessions of Amberon the Light, proclaimer of something called "The High Truth".

14.jpg~original

Good relations were established with the desert sorceress.

15.jpg~original

The Golem and the Koatls easily dealt with the remaining Ice Elementals.

16.jpg~original

Trade was also established with the Arethi Elves.

17.jpg~original

Even the aggressive Nagas, whose watery domain lay off Nefertari's coast, agreed to deal with the Sylvans.

18.jpg~original

But then, obstacles started to rise on the Crusader's path. The Assassins, demanding revenge for the rogues, somehow teamed up with the Turtles to conquer Spellmere.

19.jpg~original

While the northern expedition of Sylvan Halfling Settlers was stymied by the nasty Cockroaches, one of the greatest minor nuisances of Ardania.

21.jpg~original

The Crusader needed more than just Magic Speed to get her realm back on track.

20.jpg~original

Finally, the Koatl Hunters dealt a mortal blow to the Assassin gang, eating their hearts on the altar during a sacrificial ceremony to Mictecacihuatl.

22.jpg~original

But Spellmere was reconquered not by them, but by Amberon's Beastmen mercenaries. Ameron refused to give the city back to the Crusader, stating that under his guidance, he would be finally able to bring the High Truth to the inhabitants of Spellmere.

23.jpg~original

(Since the Sylvans lack mana-producing buildings, a Pumpkin Farm should, ideally, be superior to Sylvan-only Great Pumpkin Patch. However, after the capture of Spellmere, the serious food deficit forced me to build a Patch).

24.jpg~original

Nefertari graciously provided the Crusader with the gold necessary to keep fighting the cockroaches of Ardania.

25.jpg~original

The name of Riverport was always puzzling to the latest chroniclers, since it didn't seem to have a river nearby - certainly no river big enough to justify having a port there. Nevertheless, for some reason the name struck.

26.jpg~original

Nefertari reported that Snowland is a very cold and inhospitable place.

28.jpg~original

The Turtles that surrounded the portal to Snowland on Ardania were finally being exterminated by Koatl Hunters.

29.jpg~original

The town of Swyndale was founded to control the portal, with local Dwarves graciously offering their steel-making forges to Sylvan Crusader.

30.jpg~original
 
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LWE

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Down south, the Dremer Queen met fierce resistance in the Naga general who made an alliance with the Svart kingdom of Stalgrad.

31.jpg~original

It seemed that the inhabitants of Snowland did not like neighbours.

32.jpg~original

Amberon had the gold to help the Sylvans in their operations against harsh non-Sylvan Ardanian fauna.

33.jpg~original

Brave Jackalopes sacrificed their lives in their excursion into Snowland. Its inhabitants, mighty, hostile, and implacable, surrounded the portal, showing that the land would be very hard to conquer.

34.jpg~original

It was far better in Riverport to build a Pig Farm for food and a Pumpkin Farm for food/mana, rather than building a Great Pumpkin Patch.

35.jpg~original

The Snowlanders were even more aggressive than it had been thought, as their Gold Dragons took over Swyndale in orer to ensure that no one would enter their world.

36.jpg~original

The Sylvan Crusader understood that she had abandoned her mission - fighting the Dremer, instead desiring the riches of Snowland. If she has to conquer the outer worlds, she thought, it's the Dremer world she should be conquering. Only then Agrela will bless her. With this thought in her mind, she sent her troops West, to the Dremer world portal.

37.jpg~original

Swindale was later recaptured by Amberon.

38.jpg~original

The Sylvans had enough research so that a Magic Testing Area wasn't necessary, making the Magic Garden preferrable.

39.jpg~original

More gold and mana into the Sylvan coffers.

40.jpg~original

Shooting at so many wild things really improved the Koatls' aim.

41.jpg~original

Even Grum-God bestowed his favor on the Sylvan Crusader for killing his swampland enemies.

42.jpg~original

As predicted, the Lost World was filled with Dremers. Were they guided by the Dremer Queen on Ardania? Were they a separate, "wild" subspecies? The answers to these questions were unknown. It was known, however, that this new world had been inhabited by someone other than the Dremers, for Koatl hunters spotted ruins and jewelry which the Dremer beasts were incapable of making. Were the ancient creators of all this majesty invaded and destroyed by the Dremer, just like Ardania was invaded sometime ago? Was this world destroyed before the invasion of Ardania, or did Miralbus Card inaverdently transport the Dremers to this world when he fought the Dremargor?

43.jpg~original

Swampland around the portal was terraformed into grassland so that Halfing Settlers could move easier.

44.jpg~original

Despite having the Dremer beasts and hostile Sentinels in it, the Lost World was more hospitable in its climate than the Snowlands.

45.jpg~original

Unfortunately, the settlers were killed by Sea Crests, a most annoying type of Ardanian monsters. Some tactical dancing would be required to get the settlers to safety.

46.jpg~original

Koatls and the Golem made a quick work of the Lost World Dremers.

48.jpg~original

The Crusader, slinging spells from her capital, protected her people from Polar Giants and Ogres, sending Fey Serpents to destroy their dens.

49.jpg~original

All this happened while the south continued to be embroiled in wars started by Dremer Queen.

50.jpg~original

Donkeyford was the first Sylvan settlement in the Lost World. The Halfling magistrate who founded the city led the group riding on a donkey, and thus, the name struck, despite no donkeys actually being in the vicnity.

51.jpg~original

Lost World Dremer retreated before Sylvan Halberdiers and Koatls. Finally, the Crusader's training as a Haldberhall Shield Maiden paid off.

(The Koatl Death damage, combined with relative Dremer weakness to Death damage, was more decisive here than Halberdier bonus vs. Dremer).

52.jpg~original

But on Ardania, trouble was on the horizon, as the Dremer Queen, angry on behalf of her wild cousins of the Lost World, decided to focus specifically on the Crusader.

53.jpg~original

Brutish Dremer Grunts and Smashers, combined with brainwashed Seers, appeared on the borders of the Sylvan Realm.

55.jpg~original

The Dremer Queen enhanced her troops with spells, proving once and for all that she is indeed a powerful Great Mage.

57.jpg~original

For all his talk about the High Truth, Amberon cynically used Sylvan troubles to extort mana and knowledge from them. With her hands full of Dremer, the Crusader was forced to accept his demands.

58.jpg~original

Sylvan warriors fought bravely, but in the end, Vaindryn was occupied.

59.jpg~original

While in the Lost World, Sylvans had their progress interrupted by a furious Arethi Spirit of Light. Had the Spirit also been mind-bended by the Dremers?

60.jpg~original
 
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Still, Halfling settlers managed to evade the vengeful Spirit and found Elfbush in a place that contained no Elves, but a lot of Swamps where minor rodents dwelt. While many inhabitants of Ardania despised the rats, the Sylvan Crusader knew that rats are the same living creatures as the other beings (Dremers excepted), and are sacred like all other life. Of all Ardanian divinities, Grum-Gog agreed the most with the Crusader's stance, and Agrela, her primary patron, also didn't mind her protege's reasoning.

61.jpg~original

The Smashers were advanding on Ardania, smashing everything in front of them. And on the sides of them. And on their behinds, too.

62.jpg~original

The good news was further Sylvan progress in reclaiming the Lost World.

63.jpg~original

Agrela was not forgotten by her devotee.

64.jpg~original

The city of Sunville was founded in the north in order to earn more money for the treasury in its fur markets.

65.jpg~original

Of course, the jackalopes were sent free.

66.jpg~original

Amberon woke up to the Dremer danger at a most inopportune time, as he dispersed them from Vaindryn and took the city for himself. For the moment, however, both he and the Crusader were focused at defeating the Shadows of Vendral that spawned over Ardania, probably guided by their cousin Tendral somewhere on a minor outland world.

67.jpg~original

The Halberdiers made a major breakthrough in the Lost World, not only freeing a mighty Troll from Wild Dremer captivity, but also discovering the secret to summoning Shadow Dragons. Did dragons once inhabit the Lost World? Will they be willing to join the Crusader who did their revenge on the Wild Dremer for them?

(The Summoned version of Shadow Dragons is a minor twist on the Gold Dragons, having about the same power).

68.jpg~original

The obsidian of Lost World would be put to good use.

70.jpg~original

Finally, Sylvan researchers started on revealing the mysteries of the previous Lost World civilization.

71.jpg~original

Nefertari's gracious offer solved Sylvan mana troubles for a while.

72.jpg~original

The magnificient Dragons were summoned. But the Sylvan realm couldn't summon too much of them, as despite their Shadow nature they demanded a lot of food and gold, as well as mana to support their existence.

73.jpg~original

The Dremer of Ardania were on total retreat before Amberon, who utternly marginalized the opposition. It was clear that it's the Elven magister, not the Sylvan Crusader, who will have the honor of being called Dremer Vanquisher on Ardania.

74.jpg~original

The Crusader, however, was their vanquisher on the Lost World. As can be seen from this image, the newly-summoned Dragons still needed magic or troop support to win.

75.jpg~original

Amberon decided to try his luck against the Crusader, but he met with unexpected resistance - Rodents of Unusual Size. Nourished in Lost World Swamps, these children of Grum-Gog mercilessly tore the flesh of Elves and their Minotaur flunkies, proving once and for all that nature can be as brutal as she can be beautiful.

76.jpg~original

The assault on Greenmill was repealed.

78.jpg~original

Nefertari continued to be very gracious in her deals.

79.jpg~original

The Naga general demanded half of the mana Nefertari provided. Not wanting a distraction, the Crusader agreed to his demands.

81.jpg~original

With their sharp teeth, the Rodents would prove to be even more threatening to Sylvan enemies.

82.jpg~original

Having his demands satisfied, Rhin-gaa-rook declared war on Amberon instead, and they both sparred over Valdryn.

86.jpg~original

Was the Lost World Gold the remains of its falled civilization? Or was it formed from the secretions of Dremer bodies? Nobody would know for sure.

87.jpg~original

Sea Crests and Serpents always troubled the Sylvans. Now the Shadow Dragons flew over the Ardanian Ocean, clearing their dens.

88.jpg~original

Baron Bloodletter was a formidable enemy of the Sylvans, but his master, Amberon, was tired of fighting at this point.

89.jpg~original

So peace was proclaimed between Sylvans and Elves once more.

90.jpg~original
 
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More sea creature lairs destroyed.

92.jpg~original

Amberon granted certain liberties to former Sylvan cities, easing tensions between the realms for a while.

93.jpg~original

After seeing this, the Dragon had to RUN AWAY right now. Even buffed-up Dragons can't deal with such a concentration of Serpents.

95.jpg~original

The Naga general had decided on another way to dominate Ardania. It was clear that only the Crusader could stop him.

97.jpg~original

This is where from Rhin-gaa-rook casts his spell, intending to bend the whole of Ardania to his rule.

98.jpg~original

Water Walking was necessary to deal with him.

99.jpg~original

Amberon declared war again, but this war saw only minor border scuffles, as the elf was busy with Ardanian Dremer remnants.

100.jpg~original

In a shocking development, the Dremer Queen, on the verge of death, agreed to handle over her entire treasury to the Sylvan Crusader for only a small fee. The reasons for it would be eternally debated among the historians and chroniclers of Ardania. Maybe even the Queen understood that Rhin-gaa-rook needs to be stopped? Maybe she just wanted revenge on Amberon?

101.jpg~original

Obviously, the Naga demanded a chunk of this gold for himself. Careful not to reveal her plans before due time, the Crusader accepted the demands.

102.jpg~original

The Rodents staged themselves at the coastline, all ready to have Water Walking cast on them, as Nefertari revealed her ambition to become the United One, just as Rhin-gaa-rook was attempting.

104.jpg~original

The Naga leader was very arrogant and greedy for gold, not thinking much about providing mana to the Crusader.
(This wasn't the same AI bug/oversight like with Dremer Queen - Rhin refused to make this trade for anything less than 3000 gold on my part).

105.jpg~original

Despite his arrogance, Rhin-gaa-rook was known to be a powerful mage. The Dragon and the Rodents (nice name for a band) were buffed with all kinds of melee, missile and elemental protections.

106.jpg~original

In the Lost World, Halfling smiths finally figured out the melting temperature of Nevril, further boosting Sylvan armies.

107.jpg~original

Wild Dremer Mages attempted to attack Tholaria, but were repusled by its defenders' arrow fire.

108.jpg~original

Finally, it began. The Rodents sent to assault Gra-a-do-a ran as fast on water as they did on land.

109.jpg~original

Elder Gorgons tried to chase Sylvan Rodents and the Bonebreaker Troll away.

111.jpg~original

Shimmering Dragons attempted to drown the Rodents in their prismatic attack.

112.jpg~original

But it was all in vain. The Naga mage was prevented from his sinister plans to make all of Ardania covered in water.

113.jpg~original

Now it was time to prevent Nefertari turning it all to desert.

114.jpg~original

The Troll was even more well-trained with canes, as the defences of Grasshill fell one-by-one.

115.jpg~original
 
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Nevertheless, it was Amberon who dealt the final blow to Nefertari.

116.jpg~original

It was clear that Amberon seeks world domination on his own, proclaiming himself to be the only one worthy of the High Truth.

117.jpg~original

He made his point by, finally, finishing the Ardanian Dremer remnants.

118.jpg~original

Soon, Sylvan armies marched on to the city of Riltirn that protected the Elves' capital.

119.jpg~original

Amberon's Warlocks and Sorceres of Argil were worthy foes, dealing severe magical wounds to poor Rodents. And the Crusader knew that the bulk of Amberon's forces had just finished sieging the Dremer capital, and is not in play on the Sylvan-Elf front yet...

120.jpg~original

The Sylvans of the mainland trembled as elite Elven units, the ones who defeated the Dremers, started to appear at the borders.

121.jpg~original

Riltirn was finally captured with the loss of one Rodent detachment. But defenders of the Elven capital, Rilcarn, held steadfast, sending screeching Spirits of Light who seeked to claw the Rodents' eyes out.

122.jpg~original

The Crusader sent Spits of Fire at Rilcarn, burning its ancient defenses.

123.jpg~original

But the Sylvan core was in danger.

124.jpg~original


Riverport was forced to bend its knees to the High Truth, as the Crusader summoned a second Shadow Dragon to attack Rilcarn.

125.jpg~original

More and more Rodents of Unusual Size replaced the falled ones. The fallen rats, their noses, whiskers, fur and claws, will forever be inscribed in the Sylvan Hall of Fame!

126.jpg~original

Newly-summoned Dragons were no match for Amberon's fire from his wizard tower, but they did their duty in softening Rilcarn's defences.

127.jpg~original

On the Sylvan capital front, Glade Guardians furiously resisted Elven Taishar assaults.

129.jpg~original

But Greenmill was clearly in severe danger. Led by Amberon's immortal Vampire Count, Elven Warlocks and Sorcerers, supported by treasonous Koatl Shamans from the Elf's Sylvan possessions, rained a merciless fire of Elemental and Death spells at the city.

130.jpg~original

But the defenders of Rilcarn were even more exhausted, even as the heroic Rodents died one by one, and as the Dragon was forced multiple times to retreat and lick his wounds.

131.jpg~original

Finally, it all came to the defending battalion of teleported Rodents that was protecting Greenmill. One more turn, and Amberon's forces would overcome the Rodents and capture Greenmill, as they already did with Riverport and Sunville (the Rodents regenerated a lot of damage dealt to them on the interturn before this picture was taken, but since a unit already at 0 health is dead and can't regenerate, the situation was more critical than it seems here).

132.jpg~original

But at the very same time, last defenders of Rilcarn succumbed to Sylvan forces.

133.jpg~original

134.jpg~original

This left the Sylvan Crusader as the only Great Mage still standing on Ardania.

135.jpg~original
 
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