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Topic Subject: Totally stuck on Rocky Hollow scenario
posted 01-12-17 07:04 AM EDT (US)   
I've had AOW for many years now, although I don't think I've ever totally finished the campaign, or played all the scenarios. Some scenarios are fairly easy, others are more challenging, and some are hard. But Rocky Hollow has stumped me. I've been playing it for about 5 hours a day for a week now, and I can't beat it.

Rocky Hollow is the scenario where you and 4 other CPU players start with a size 3 city in the corners of the map. In the middle is the Undead, and they *start* off being about literally 10 times stronger than any of the other players. And their power only increases from then on. Every time I've played it I can manage to get about 3 or four cities going, but then the Undead start expanding and stomping out the other players. I've tried recruiting troops but they get killed off pretty quickly, so it always ends up with me having 2 or 3 heroes on the map struggling for survival. I've maxed out their movement to 50 in the hope of having a force capable of rapidly capturing cities. I've given them grass concealment and mountaneering too so they can lurk and pounce on enemy troops when needed. I've had my leader at Level 30 and 1 or 2 other heroes at level 20 or so at maximun speed capturing and recapturing cities. The problem is though that as the heroes gain levels they need more gold and I can never seem to recapture enough cities quickly enough to pay for my heroes, let alone troops. So my heroes almost always leave me because I can't pay for them.

And anytime I try to get a city to produce troops, the Undead send over troops to capture the city. I've tried the Ash Cloud spell to try to conceal the city, but the Undead still manage to see that I have a city producing troops and stomp it out.

I've tried razing Undead cities too in a sort of scorched earth policy, but then if I do that I myself have no way of attaining gold.

So by day 400 or so, I usually end up having a super fast leader running around the map briefly capturing cities, before they're recaptured.

Basically in this scenario the Undead seem to be an unstoppable juggernaut. The post game graph is ridiculous looking too. The Undead line goes up at about 45 degrees and then levels out when it shows it's about 50 times more powerful than me!

Any help would be much appreciated!
Replies:
posted 01-12-17 02:30 PM EDT (US)     1 / 12  
I remember this map well, and have played it several times. The first time was with other humans, and we got thrashed, as I recall.

I can remember playing as both Humans and Frostlings, and won with each. All CPUs on Emperor/Normal.

Some tactics that proved key:

1. The AI will string out his horde along the road, making it possible for hit and run tactics to reduce his strength quickly. Your 3 stacks can kill his 8 stacks, because you take them on only 2 at a time.

2. Get some priests quickly to deal with wraiths, unless you've got the mana for enchanted weapon on a lot of units (mana was scarce, as I recall). Then lots of archers and ballistas.

3. Scorched earth is a great idea, but only inside of the hollow, so it doesn't affect your earning potential. If you can get a couple powerful fliers (nordic glows were great for this), they can do this well. Be sure to blow up those Death Altars first!

4. If you've got a level 30 hero and skill can't win, then you're doing something wrong. What are his stats at level 30? Should be Spellcasting 5, 10s on everything (maybe not damage), 47 movement, parry, round attack, wall climbing, marksmanship III (IV if you want), and 25+ hitpoints. Do you have leaders on? If so, and you customize, REGENERATION REGENERATION REGENERATION! Oh, and cast all spell buffs possible.

5. Clear out all dungeons to buff heroes.

6. Be nice to your neighbors, but betray them if it will benefit you, especially if you can capture and hold their big cities.
posted 01-12-17 02:55 PM EDT (US)     2 / 12  
We could try doing a co-op game of this, if you're interested. ;-)
posted 01-13-17 04:00 AM EDT (US)     3 / 12  
Thanks, that's helpful. I forgot to mention that when I played it I used the program defaults, and they had all the non Undead CPU players on Squire. The result is they simply sat there and got squashed, leaving just me against the Undead. I've since upped most of the CPUs to Emperor, so they at least are putting up a stiffer fight so far.

I was also very lucky to get the Ring Of Life, which leaves grassland in your wake. In conjunction with Grass Concealment, this at least means you're almost always invisible, until a Reaper passes by and turns the grass to dust!

Also I may as kill two birds with one stone as I had another question- are ability scores fixed at a maximum of 10? That is to say if you have an attack of and you have a weapon with an attack bonus of 2, does this mean that your attack is 11? Or is is stuck at 10, unable to go higher?
posted 01-13-17 04:54 PM EDT (US)     4 / 12  
In some cases it can go higher than 10. For example, the holy/unholy champion buff spells are confirmed to do that. I'm not sure if every buff spell will, though. It might just be things that do bonus attack/damage, where you don't see the actual stat number change, like the champion spells and the charge ability.
posted 01-14-17 08:50 AM EDT (US)     5 / 12  
I just replayed this last night, to refresh my memory.

CPU AI: Squire (Undead are fixed at Emperor)
Customize Leaders On
Leaders on Map
Allied Victory On
Classic Turn mode

I was Frostlings.

Game ended in 32 turns. I pumped archers exclusively almost for the whole game. By the time clerics came online, it was almost over. I never built any ballistas.

My Leader started with Regeneration, Lightning Strike, Hurl Stones, Wall Climbing, and Spell Casting I. I added 1 to attack and pumped defense to 6 or 7. My first priority was to clear out the dungeons/caves, to pump my leader up quickly. He was level 20 when the game ended. I then took the towns closest to me and expanded quickly and aggressively in all directions. I actually didn't go into the middle at all. My leader went underground and assassinated the Undead leader through there. The Undead only invaded me once, taking two of my big towns, but I took them back within two turns and wasn't threatened again.

I think the aggressive expansion is the key, as it seems to "scare" the AI. I lost my hero early on, but got another to replace it, which then lasted the rest of the game. I also used Tactical combat mode almost the entire time, to minimize casualties and maximize hero XP.
posted 01-17-17 01:24 PM EDT (US)     6 / 12  
I found a Youtube video on this mission recently (what can't you find on Youtube these days?) and the uploader did pretty much the same thing as you. Assassinate the enemy leader before his empire becomes unstoppably huge. And use Tactical combat to single out the enemy leader. And here I was playing on until day 700 desperately trying to halt the juggernaut. I tried using Tactical combat when I first played AOW all those years ago, but usually it was too much hassle, so I switched to Automatic. But clearly Tactical combat can make a difference if you play it well.

BTW does the AI follow the same rules with money as the player? That is, does it still need to pay it's troops to avoid desertion? I would assume so, but I was playing on for ages after having demolished most of his towns in the hope that his huge army would desert due to lack of pay, but the Undead troops always seemed to have high morale even long after I'd razed almost all the towns. It was discouraging!
posted 01-19-17 12:32 PM EDT (US)     7 / 12  
Check out the Strategy on this website; it will answer a lot of your questions and make your AoW life much much easier.

http://aow.heavengames.com/strategy/index.shtml


The difficulty setting of the AI affects its gold and mana income. For example, CPU Emperor triples whatever it would otherwise get per turn.

Some maps specify EXTRA amounts for a race to receive per turn, above and beyond the on-map production. That can be seen in the Map Editor.

PLAYER INCOME HEROES GAIN:

Human Player +0% gold/mana +1 XP per turn
Squire +0% gold/mana +1 XP per turn
Knight +50% gold/mana +2 XP per turn
Lord +100% gold/mana +3 XP per turn
King +150% gold/mana +4 XP per turn
Emperor +200% gold/mana +5 XP per turn

[This message has been edited by Mac_Biodiesel (edited 01-19-2017 @ 12:34 PM).]

posted 05-17-17 10:06 AM EDT (US)     8 / 12  
I know I'm late to the party, but I recently picked this game up again and am actually playing this map.

I'm rusty, so it was a bit of a challenge early on, but I think I'm back into the swing of things.

I started as Human, didn't change anything for the leader, map settings, etc, only put all the AI other than Undead at Lord difficulty.

Took me a few days to get my region under control, and by the time I was getting ready to take the only other 3-hex city in my area (Humans start with one), the Undead were arriving. That 3-hex is Orc, so I was worried they'd convert the city to their cause and unleash the Warlord there. So I pushed forward past my siege units and took the Undead in the forest to the northeast of the city. Was outnumbered 3-1, but get them. As soon as they were dead and I turned around, 3 more Undead stacks showed up.

This is about the time I realized I wasn't dealing with just a little problem, but a big one.

It's now something like day 60 and I had to basically do the same thing. Took 3 heroes and Gold Cavaliers to assassinate the Undead leader. Then caught the Orc leader out several turns later, and have been chasing the Dark Elf Leader for some time now while I mop up the map. The Frostling guy is still up in his corner all alone with a minimal army while his Hero runs around wrecking shit - seriously, Eclo Frostbite is freaking Aragorn in this game.

I expect it'll all be over by Day 80 at the latest, as I'm in no rush at the moment.
posted 06-13-18 03:35 PM EDT (US)     9 / 12  
Hmm, this map didn't seem that hard to me...
I played as humans (first time ever!), all AIs set to Emperor. When the undead first attacked me, they defeated my leader with two big stacks. So I loaded one turn back and retreated. The AI then split its unstoppable army into small groups and fanned out to capture nearby towns. Big mistake - my two heroes and one cavalier chopped them to pieces next turn. Next invasion went the other direction.

General tactics? Strong heroes specialized in melee fighting, very few other units (except some two or three cavaliers, IIRC; the game was over before I produced my first level 4 unit), city walls for defense, tactical combat everywhere, not much magic except enchanted weapons and some other boosts or heals, running around quickly and swatting small enemy stacks before they regroup and strike back. BTW, it's good to pick at least one Death sphere to make use of all the undead's nodes.
posted 03-14-21 02:09 PM EDT (US)     10 / 12  
I just started replaying this map several days ago, with Warlock's ruleset in effect and leaders off. Oh my, that's a whole new level of difficulty!

After some time of playing, I have two strong 8-stacks patrolling around the southwestern border (I'm Frostlings), just out of range of the line of Death Altars. Two yetis as frontline tanks, two heroes for magic buffs and an occassional strike (darn expensive Defense!), three shamans for healing (no Life magic), group of Dark elf archers (great marksmen) and a veteran swordsman and wolf who have been sticking with me since the beginning. These are just enough to stop the Undead hordes coming from southwest and south, but too far away to guard the northwest route, so I have another two yetis, some shamans and archers defending a city there. Also, I kept cranking out nordic glows (4 of them in total), intending to wreak some havoc in the Undead territory and raze those pesky altars. That started pretty well: first altar down, countless flamethrowers, archers and other weak soldiers swatted. Second altar resisted razing by three glows, so I waited for the fourth which was meanwhile raiding the caverns. Then things went seriously sideways...

By this time, the Undead have finished off all other AI opponents (all Knights) and aimed all their military production in my direction. Warlock's rules, in addition to reducing many units' defense, also increase their price, so I was almost broke by now, gaining just several dozen gold per day, with no reserves. A large enemy party attacked my northwest city and even though the one remaining yeti, two shamans and one archer gave a really good fight, they were eventually defeated. I immediately sent my two "doom stacks" there and retook the city, but it was too late: my treasury was empty and all four of my nordic glows promptly deserted. One day before the altar they were guarding finished recharging, #$@*! And there is already a strong attack force coming from the very south where there's absolutely no one to stop it...

Edit, one evening later: I lost my whole northeastern corner, so I sent my two faithful parties counterclockwise around the map. The plan was simple: survive, keep capturing cities as fast or faster than the undead, wait until the two heroes become strong enough to survive without the two parties sticking together, then leave one stack defending a base and continue sweeping with the other. The plan failed when I ran out of money and both my yetis and all archers deserted. Well, never mind. At least I finally found out what the "Surrender" menu option actually does :-).

Some remarks:
- Either the AI is incredibly clever and uses dead reckoning to aim its death altars, or the ring which is supposed to give Trail of darkness doesn't work.
- The same applies to Leadership given by Crown of kings. Unless the attack bonus counts even if not shown in units' stats.
- OK, it seems like the AI doesn't bother with exploration at all. After seeing it several times send a lone soldier directly to an undefended mine in a remote corner of the map it has never been to, and then immediately recalling him home without even pretending to look around, I'm pretty sure the computer cheats. Also, the fog of war only applies to live players: AI never sends weak scouts to a heavily guarded area, even though it's out of its vision range.
- I heard somewhere that due to some bug, AI never uses Turn Undead in some of the combat modes. Now I can confirm that a lone Palading does use it against a lone Wraith in autocombat.

Edit, several days later: I replayed the map as Orcs, with the three other races set to Emperor, and disabled Exploration. Much, much easier! Skeletons were busier fighting the others, and being Evil means you can use their cities (and their awesome units) right away.

[This message has been edited by Mirek (edited 03-20-2021 @ 04:03 PM).]

posted 04-11-21 02:00 PM EDT (US)     11 / 12  
Yes, I'm certain the AI plays with exploration and fog off, as a way to balance against more clever humans. I'm also suspicious about whether concealed/invisible units are actually hidden from the AI, too.
posted 04-11-21 03:46 PM EDT (US)     12 / 12  
I have the following unconfirmed theories about AI concealed recognition:

- A concealed unit within a AI unit's movement + vision range is "seen" but assigned a lower target priority

- A concealed unit outside of a AI unit's movement + vision range is "unseen" / lowest target priority

- If a concealed unit is your only remaining unit, it will be "seen" / unaltered target priority

I could be wrong as I've never specifically tested for it, but I generally play with the above assumptions.
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