Don’t forget the steel in Warlock Master of the Arcane

, | Games

A huge honkin’ earth elemental is blocking my expansion to the north, where I want to grab a patch of holy ground and some ancient ruins. I need the holy ground to build a temple, which unlocks powerful religious units. But I’m not going to have enough gold to afford one of those guys for a long time. More immediately, I need the ancient ruins so I can build an excavation, which boosts my magical research. This is Warlock’s closest equivalent to technology in a Civilization game.

But to grab these two resources on the map — the holy ground and ancient ruins — I need to build a city that will be in striking range of an earth elemental who keeps flinging flaming boulders at my dudes. That’s not very neighborly.

After the jump, dwarven steel makes good neighbors

I’ve trained four warrior armies (these are the default melee units) and one hunter army (hunters are archer/scouts). I’ve summoned ghost wolves, mainly because I can. They’re pretty much just tagging along translucently. These units have all earned experience and some commensurate perks from clearing out less dangerous monsters for my other cities. But these units with these modest perks aren’t enough to take out an earth elemental.

In Warlock, you unlock the ability to buy upgrades for your units by building certain buildings in your cities. For instance, the barracks at Sunhaven, my main city, lets me buy the ability “drilled” for 50 gold. This increases a unit’s strength by 10%. The barracks also unlocks the smithy in that city, which lets me pay 30 gold to equip a unit with fine armor for extra defense. Sunhaven basically lets me pay 80 gold to make a unit more powerful.

But that’s just the beginning. My warriors have silver weapons from the armory on Baytown’s silver mines. Silver weapons add a magical damage boost. Baytown’s foundry on the local iron mine enables masterwork armor for even more defense above and beyond the fine armor from Sunhaven’s smithy.

Then there’s the dwarven settlement near Rendishire. I could put either a dwarven war camp or a dwarven forge on the settlement. The former would let me build dwarven units, but the forge would let me buy dwarven steel to give a unit a 20% boost to strength. I went with the forge.

My four warriors were cheap at first. They cost 25 gold. But that was before they were drilled warriors with fine armor, silver weapons, masterwork armor, and dwarven steel. All told, they cost 300 gold. That’s what it takes to take down an earth elemental.

I’ve just learned a weakness spell that cuts a unit’s attacks by 25% for five turns. Once everyone’s in position, I cast the spell. It’s like a magical artillery strike to suppress the target. The hunters get in a few shots as the four warriors advance across rough terrain, closing in on the earth elemental through two mountain passes choked with forests and swamps. Why couldn’t this guy live out in the desert?

A few imps and skeletons lurking in the fog of war behind the elemental join the fray. Jerks. I have enough mana for three healing spells, so I have to make some tough choices about who to save. The hunters don’t make the cut. Which was probably a mistake because by the time it’s all over, a flock of winged serpents arrives to plink away at my surviving warriors with impunity. Melee units can’t attack flying units. So now I’m left with a bunch of dudes in fancy armor, each of whom cost more than 300 gold, swinging their dwarven steel ineffectually at the sky.

The moral of the story? Bring back-up archers.

Warlock: Master of the Arcane comes out on May 8.