Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Age of Mythology - Bringing Down a Titan

This is the last of the Age of Mythology games I took screenshots for a year ago; after this, I'll have to play some more before I can write them up.

The last level of the AoM expansion pack The Titans (since the release of Tale of the Dragon it is necessary to specify which expansion pack I'm talking about, which fills me with glee) sees the player returning to old Atlantis to prevent the rise of Kronos. Spoilers: Kronos rises.

The way the scenario is set up, what you're intended to do is rush to wake Gaia the Friendly Green Titan without trying to confront the enemy base. Kronos emerges while Gaia is still awakening, so then you run away from him for five minutes until she can rescue you.

But that sounds boring. What say we take down Kronos the hard way?

See, I learnt from Oranos' Rage that it is definitely possible to take down a Titan without one of your own. They're heavily armoured, and can destroy most units in a blow or two, but they are not indestructible - especially not when you're playing as Atlantis, who have access to flamethrowing siege weapons with 55 attack.

55! Normal human units have an attack of 4 or 5. The Nidhogg, the summonable Norse super-dragon, only has an attack of 70 (and that's split across two types of damage, as 30 and 40). Siege is absolutely the way to go when taking on a Titan.

But Kronos is no ordinary Titan. He doesn't have 7000 hit points - he has 50,000. And worse, he regenerates, at 100 hp/second. If I let up on him for an instant, he'll wipe away all my hard work.

That's why I brought these guys.

I stripped the rest of the island bare and pushed right up to the unit limits. I brought as many fire-engines as I could get, then filled the rest of the space with hero infantry, plus the assorted units I had lying around - centaurs and hesperides.

The slope below Kronos' pit is filled with every tower I'm allowed to build - yes, there's a limit on towers, who knew? I also have every fortress down there - all six of them. And over on the other side of the pit:

Enough barracks to churn out distractions all day.

Yes, distractions. My little infantry aren't going to be able to kill the Lord of Titans, even after I spend the gold to upgrade them to heroes. All they're going to do is keep his attention while the siege lay into him.

With everything set up, I trigger the awakening: I plant the final seed to rouse Gaia. That sets of Kronos' own clock, and soon enough...

... there he is, the Big Bad himself. We have six minutes before Gaia will come to rescue us; let's see if we can save her the trip.

The plan goes into action. Kronos lumbers up the side of his pit, and straight into the firing line. The infantry swarm him, and the flamethrowers make beautiful lights.

And somewhat to my surprise, it starts to work! He's down to 42K (out of 50K), and I still have infantry alive. It would take him over a minute to regenerate from that.

But Gaia's getting closer; we've used nearly half our time. And there's a bigger problem.

With Kronos down to 30K, we've just run out of Favour. Favour is the resource that lets us convert our infantry into heroes; without it, they're going to be even less effective. And look at those resources: it's not going to be long until...

Yep, there it is. With 50 seconds to go and Kronos nearing half health, we run out of food. When Kronos first stepped out into the pit, I had over 6000, and 8500 gold. A Murmillo infantry hero comes to 155 food and 90 gold, so... yeah, I made a lot of those.

With the hero swarm ended, Kronos is free to advance. For the first time since he emerged, he steps away from the lip of the pit - and my twenty-nine fire siphons are all, at last, able to get into range.

Gaia is awake. We didn't beat that limit. :( But I still have hopes that we can take the Lord of Titans down without her.

29 siphons. More on the way up from the forts. The campaign heroes continually reviving to get beaten down again. Kronos down below half health. And one cheerful Citizen merrily chopping wood.

Kronos drops below 20K. On the minimap, you can see the 'T' that marks Gaia, just hanging around south of the battle.

19K, but Kronos is on the move. This is the first time he's reached our wall of towers. You can see the debris from the fire siphons he's smashed to get there, on the slope of the hill. Is the pessimistic soldier up there right?

17.5K, but most of my fire siphons are gone. I don't think we're going to do this.

:( We're not going to do this. Kronos' health has started climbing again, and that means we've lost.

I mean, we saved Gaia a bit of trouble, at least. Screenshot 23 was the previous one included in this report; she managed to take down Kronos before it had faded from the screen. That's some sort of victory, right?

So where did I go wrong? Two places:

1. I didn't stockpile sufficient resources. When my Murmillo stream dried up, my damage rate actually increased (because the fire siphons hit harder), but without cannon fodder on hand Kronos was able to hit things that actually mattered. Favour would have run out anyway - it's based on town centres, which are limited in number - but I should have stored up far more food and gold.

2. The layout. I started from the assumption that Kronos was going to march straight down the hill and smash his way into the centre of my line of towers. The heaviest weight of fire was supposed to come into play from there - the fortresses, towers, and fire siphons were all oriented on that goal.

When my infantry proved far more effective at stopping him than I expected, it was actually to my disadvantage. All my high-damage setup was out of range! I rushed the fire siphons up the hill, but most of them couldn't reach.

What I should have done was prepared a more explicit gauntlet, wrapping the towers around the space at the bottom of the hill. Then baited Kronos down with an archer or two - shades of Hippolyta back in Poseidon's Revenge? - and laid into him at close range.

Is it possible to kill Kronos before Gaia arrives? I don't know. The main problem is that he walks so slowly - by the time he reaches a decent killing field, half your time is gone! But is it possible to kill him without her assistance? Absolutely. I am positive it can be done - with a little more setup, and a little more fire.

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