It is 2018 and I am sharing my walkthrough of the Fortress expansion, on the of course final version of H7! This is based on the Hard difficulty.
First, onto some basics:
- Each rune’s passive abilities are active as soon as you deploy them on the battlefield. Notably, the passive ability of Rune of Balance (Orange, requires Tier 6 shooter Rune Priest in your army, not upgraded is fine) distribute damage evenly to all friendly stacks in the 3X3 aura. This is very useful for daily unit conservation. Naturally, you want some hardy, high-tier unit standing right beside a vulnerable unit.
- After a rune is deployed on the battlefield, you have to wait for the next battle round to activate the active ability of each rune. Notably, the Rune of Fortune (Blue) adds a shield that can soak up retaliation damage. Delay melee engagement to late Round 2 if you can.
Runes can be used for aggressive purpose as well, especially with the ultimate perk that copies part of the damage to any enemy stack in the aura.
Picture above: If you deploy units close together, you can maximize the aura coverage of their passive and active abilities. There is no risk of area damage spells in fighting daily neutral stacks, where the runes helps the most in unit conservation. Here is a layout that I use in almost every battle:
1 = [Core] Defenders (receives fiery spirit)
2 = [Core] Kobold Scouts (ranged), or half of the tier-6 rune priests
3 = [Core] Bears (optional)
4 = [Elite] Dis
5 = [Elite] Lava Elemental (receives fiery spirit)
6 = [Elite] Rune priest (ranged, upgrade ASAP)
7 = [Elite] Fire Giant (upgrade ASAP to become ranged)
For difficult encounters where enemy units will hit your front line in Round 1, hide the Dis in the back so they do not get wiped out.
- Tier 1 Defenders (melee might) is a natural, hardy and cheap canon fodder. Their low initiative makes them the first stack to act after the enemy does (if you make them wait first). Once their numbers accumulate and your hero’s stats grow (or with the Offense ultimate perk), they become a powerful killer stack just like the Skeletons of Necropolis.
- Tier 2 Kobold Scouts (ranged might) will not be available until late mission 4. There is nothing special about them, and they die quite easily.
- Tier 3 Bears (melee might) can become useful - they attack twice after getting hit once. But if you are good, you won’t even get hit. Then your bears will not attack twice and therefore are not useful… If you want to swap out some Fortress stack for something more useful, wave goodbye to the bears. If you are short on cash, skip the bears. If you are not short on cash, well, why don’t you skip the bears so you can hire something better?
- Tier 4 Dis (magic melee, flying) has the highest initiative in the Fortress army. Upgraded or not, they grant adjacent units a bonus in movement and attack, which is awesome for other melee stacks like Tier 1 and Tier 5. Dis are quite fragile, though. So chances are you are going to task them to wait early in the turn.
- Tier 5 Lava Elementals (melee magic) is a solid HP tank (to soak up retaliation) with a decent initiative and attack. Their movement range is great with the Dis by their side. You will likely rely on their damage output when things get tough. The upgraded Magma Elementals can spawn a 4x4 lava field, the strength of which is correlated with their stack size.
- Tier 6 Rune Priests (ranged magic) are probably the best shooter creature only after Sylvan druids (who can can ignore defense), as they do not die easily. Theis stack accounted for about 70% of total damage output in my playthrough. They also come with a free Rune of Balance to distribute their received damage evenly to nearby friendly stacks. The upgraded version has full range, so that frees up your weapon artifact slot for other useful bonuses. Prioritize on hiring them (and upgrade them) in every mission.
- Tier 7 Red Dragon (melee magic) OR Fire Giant (melee/ranged magic). Honestly I do not have good uses for them. Champion creatures become available too late and there is only 1 per town per week. The upgraded giant is a ranged unit, but can only shoot 1 weak hammer until someone dies in the stack. The dragon spits fire and has a high chance of causing friendly fire.
Frequently seen skills to recommend
Fire Magic is a decent tree. Fire Ball is your daily bread. Fire Wall is your daily chesse. It is cheesey because the spell is still bugged - the AI cannot escape from it if you can the wall right on top of the stack. 4x4 Inner Fire puts more than half of your army on super steroids (+40 attack or above!). The tier-4 spells are not so good. The sentry shoots at the end of the round (too late!) and Armageddon kills your own units unless you only field the fire-proof stack.
Destiny (luck) synergize with damaging spells. Even just for melee, they offer a ton of extra damage.
Exploration grants a pathetic +1 movement bonus per tier, but it is the perks (snatch, -50% penalty on rough terrain, and +100% bonus from buildings such as the rally flag) that makes it awesome.
Less frequently seen but still good
Warfare: A ultimate ballista is awesome in early-mid levels. Ignore this entire tree if your hero cannot master it and have the 3 shot perk on the master level.
Economy actually makes a difference in a few missions - I will name them in this walkthrough.
Prime Magic is always good for more summoned elementals and more %HP taken off per implosion.
Paragon: You do not have the opportunity to hire any assistant governor heroes at any point of the expansion campaign. Nor do you have many spell trees to even reach novice. But you might need the +5 arcane knowledge perk so your hero can actually learn some level 4 spells. They are not critically important anyway.
Diplomacy: Sure it is satisfactory to hire thousands of neutral creatures. But if you can afford that, you could have beaten the mission anyway. It is just for the rich to get richer.
Mission 1 - Glory before Death
You are given three heroes. They will all carry over (but not the new hero who joins halfway in this mission), so level these three up, visit stat boosts, etc.
Your start with Town A, which is defended by 3 gates with stationary armies. (1) marks the location of the resource merchant and the artefact merchant, which will become handy later. (2) allows you to craft carry-over, powerful artefacts out of non-carry-over sets (Dwarven, Elven, Bloodforge, etc.). Towards the end of this mission, you can buy artefacts every week from (1) and later Town C to craft these powerful artefacts here using any 4 artefacts of the same set. You can have duplicates of the same thing.
You will expand against two AI players, the Blue player and the Light Purple player. The Light Purple player starts with Town D. The boss of this mission defends Town D with an army that deserves to be in “mission 4.” But you have plenty of level up opportunities in this mission as well. By the time I finished, my heroes’ levels were all in the 20s. There does not appear to be any level cap in this mission.
The Blue player starts with Town C (and possibly Town B - or they will occupy it soon). It has two very aggressive and opportunist heroes who will always come for your undefended forts (a and b) or weak heroes. You have to take them out as quickly as possible. Starting with taking Town B, and try to steal their well-built Town C as early as possible. You can go to the underground by either stairway (1-1’) or (2-2’). The Blue player also has quite a bit of artifacts with them. Do not waste your resources on the catapult quest yet - it has three parts and the last part is beating the boss of the mission.
If it sounds difficult, it is. But the level designer helps you with a few free tier-6 shooter stacks around the map, marked by (3 - the locations may be a little off, but roughly in that area). The tier-6 shooters are the best units of the fortress faction so get them as quickly as possible.
After you have taken care of the Blue player, use stairs (3-3’) and rescue a prisoner from (4). This gives you a key for the bonus area of the underground vault (5) in the northwest (stairs 6-6’). You will complete a side quest by taking and killing the star-shaped vault. The new hero also opens up the passage (6) south of Town C. The Light Purple player will harass you through one-way portals (7-7’) especially after you take Town C. There is a dragon building in their territory, so they will show up with dragons (or nothing).
With town C secured, open just one of the doors (the left door is better as you will secure the one-way portal), and take the stairway (4-4’). Capture Fort c and sever the Purple heroes’ access of dragons. From now on, they are unable to hire creatures from Town D and will remain embarrassingly creature-less for the rest of the mission. And you have all the time in the game to defeat neutrals and level up the three main heroes. Don’t forget to forget some powerful artefacts - they will carry over!
Mission 2 - Fortunes of War
The second mission is significantly simpler and easier. The neutral stacks and enemies you see here are mostly smaller than those in mission one. And you should have leveled up quite a bit, so there is very little challenge here. The final battle is a bit tedious but still easy to win. Maybe it is intended this way according to the plot?
You start with Town A. There is very little of interest in your starting area. So flag the two mines and venture north. You are against the two Yellow players. The first yellow player starts with Town B, where aggressive heroes come out to harass you at every opportunity. Your armies are small at the moment, but if you have the ultimate ballista, or some decent fire spells, you should be able to beat them. Do not waste your resources to rebuild conquered fort. The AI can easily steal them back and demolish it (though you are both Fortress. Rather, head straight for Town B. It is better developed than Town A.
The second Yellow player is the boss of the mission, and is completely inactive in front of Town C. You can take all your time to mop up the first Yellow AI, flag mines, collect artefacts, and convert them at (1). All three heroes will carry over, again, so visit the stat boosts with them.
Once you rebuild all four Fords (a, b, c, d), you should have 4 Bloodforge artefacts (or more from the map) to convert for the headpiece that is required for the passage of (4). And it has to carried (not necessarily worn on the head) by the “father” hero of yours. There is a quest to be solved at (2) underground, and some secondary quests at (3). The one on the left requires you to give away 1/10 of your army. So if you march an army of 10 x tier 1 creatures… you cunning human player!
Once you have gathered a large enough army, load up your hero with units and artefacts, and beat the mission boss at Town C. He has very high defense, and the runes make the units very hard to kill (same applies to yours). Whenever enemy units’ received damage are shared, target the weakest link for the best effect. Many Fortress units are fire-proof so it is a good idea to just buff the army and fight. Since you have two towns, if you find the battle too difficult, just come back the next month with a much larger army. That’s it!
Mission 3 - the Fire’s Embrace
This is a very big map with very, very big neutral creature stacks. If you want to be a completionist and kill/collect everything, as there is really no level cap in the expansion, you will spend a lot of hours on this map. I finished in Month 7 in order to do so. By the end, each battle gives me 2-300,000 experience points. So, there is one extra level every 2-3 battles. All of my three heroes were level 60+, and the two armies have thousands in each stack. But the AI players are much, much weaker. They are overwhelmed by the insane neutral stacks. (In conventional levels, the neutral stacks in AI territories are significantly weaker so the AI gets an easy expansion.) But the AI heroes are still aggressive, so you will face AI heroes’ default army early.
This level plays a little differently than the standard missions, where you flag mines and slowly grow your army from town growth. In this mission, you are short on almost all resources except ores. You have plenty to pick up from the floor, but they will run out as you build up your towns. So try to get to the AI players as quickly as you can - the AI heroes are easier to handle than the neutrals. And the AI towns have all the rare resources. Your starting armies are quite good, though your heroes (and ballista) are the primary damage output early game.
You begin with two towns. Town (A) is underground and you have two heroes. Town (B) is on the surface and you have one hero (the king). Both towns are in a very safe space, totally closed off by seals and corresponding altars (blue 1, 2, 3, 4). You can access the first altar on the surface close to Town (B), which allows you to pass the three (i) seals on the map. I recommend using the western exit underground on week 2 and go up the stairway (1-1’), after spending about a week or two to pick up resources from the ground near your bases.
As soon as you open up any seal, the AI heroes will come toward you so you can expect to meet them around Ford (a) in a few days. If you opened the western seal, they have to travel quite a long distance to get to your towns, and you can actually merge the surface and underground armies around Fort (a). This gives you a very good shot at wiping out all active AI armies of Town (C), (D), (E), (F) and (G) very early on. Then take their towns! Leave Town (H) to the last, as the hero there will never come out.
On the surface, you should flag the undefended Saw Mill (5) as soon as possible - you have multiple ore pits, but just this one saw mill. Leave most neutrals after the AI threats have been neutralized. When you are ready for the neutrals, you can prioritize on flagging the money-making mines and the Tear of Asha (in my game it is located underground, marked with “T”). Once you get rich, with the Embassy building in towns and your hero’s Diplomacy skills, you can probably pay up some neutral shooter stacks, even if they are Haven or Silvan. As the stack sizes are XXL in this mission, once you have one or two XXL shooter stacks joining your army, all subsequent battles will be won significantly easier. Save up hundreds of thousands for this purpose. Once the stack decides to join you, the offer stands for that particular hero during the same week.
Whenever you have accomplished everything, defeat the hero in Town H, who is so pathetically weak, and then the mission is won.
And just when you think you have fully developed three awesome heroes, none of them will carry over to the next missions… The game actually kills one in the narrative for you. From hindsight, maybe you should simply murder the hero from Town H early and get over with this map, right? Well we know the fun is in the process...
Mission 4 - Gumption and a Sharp Mind
Level cap: 25, Difficulty index: 4/7
Forget about the first half - those heroes are gone for good. From now on you have a fresh start with two new heroes to develop. One is a pure magic hero and the other might, of course. You might think the magic hero has spells to carry you through low levels. True, but you will not have access to advanced spells until quite a bit later. You have to rely on the basic Fire Bolt for damage.
You start in Town (A). This is the only town you will have in this mission, and the primary source of creatures. So unit conservation is quite important throughout the mission, so you may want to delay some encounters as the neutral stacks are already quite big initially. Both your heroes will have more than enough experience points to reach the level cap of 25. There is a treasure map and its associated obelisks, but it does not point you to a real, installable Tear of Asha, just the surroundings of Town (B), the final destination of this mission. Before getting to Town (B), though, there are two objectives to fulfill.
Every single neutral stack in the town (A) area will join you. So collect them and flag mines. South of Town (A) you can trade for resources and buy artefacts. There is NO artefact forge in this mission. Visit the first Altar (i) before you head out. This will give you the access of the main area of this map. Once you are ready, head up to the surface via stairs (1)-(1’).
You emerge in the mountains in the northeast region. This is your “safe space” enclosed by seals, so the Yellow enemies cannot reach you. Your Blue ally, which owns Town (C) and (D) allies will take care of emerging Yellow heroes for you anyway. You cannot take these two towns. There is virtually no threat from the AI faction in this mission, just neutral creatures. There are quite a few pairs of portals in the mountains, and their connections are usually straightforward, so I am not going to mark the obvious for you. Just flag everything you can when you are powerful enough to defeat the neutrals. But it is a good idea to go west early to rebuild the fort and flag some mines as well as creature buildings nearby. This fort, along with your Town (A), are all you have for creatures. So how do we get to Town B from here?
You have two choices. You can head west or south, both will lead you to the main area patrolled by your Blue ally. I think it is slightly better to go west first and defeat the garrison, because there are a number of stats and skills improvement buildings to visit in close proximity. Further west you can rescue a hero at the red (1), who will not join you by the way, and complete one of the main objectives. But you cannot do that yet.
Backtrack a bit and go south in the mountain region. This will allow you to access the second Altar (ii). You will pass stairs (2)-(2’), which will lead you to the seal of (iii). You cannot open that yet, either.
After visiting altar (ii), come to the main area. Feel free to visit the stat boost or defeat some neutral stacks to collect artefacts. Then use one of the unmarked stairways in the northern region, and then take underground passage and go north to stairway (3)-(3’). Then go north to break the (ii) seal and to the red (1) so you can rescue the hero.
Come back to the main area and take stairway (4)-(4’) or (5)-(5’). You are in yet another underground region, where you meet a “squirrel” hero at red (2), who does join you (but will not carry over to the next mission) and fulfills a second primary objective. As soon as you do that, you can finally hire Tier-2 creatures from home. They are shooters. Visit the last altar (iii).
You are now ready to use stairs (2)-(2’) and break the last seal (iii). Take the ship at red (3), jump into the vortex (5)-(5’), and head south to face the mission boss in Town (B). It is not a difficult battle. You also put an end to the constant stream of “naked” heroes coming to the main area using these new portals!
Mission 5 - Harrower of the Dark
Level cap: 30
Difficulty index: 3/7
This is quite a linear mission. There is no enemy towns to take over, and no enemy hero who comes after you. You have no town to develop. There are creatures for hire, and skill improvement buildings that charges gold. So it is still a good idea to pick up resources and cash along the way. There is really no time pressure here, so you can be as thorough as you want to be before moving on.
Your two heroes start at (1). Please note that the Fortress army you are given at the beginning are ALL core and elite (Tier 1-6) fortress creatures you have for the entire mission. So conserve them as much as possible. Sometimes you might want to split the army between two heroes and take out neutral creatures safely.
Follow the path NE and you can see a split at the Stable. Have the female might hero go east, as only she will be able to access the stairways (a)-(a’) to an enclosed area on the surface. After you are done, move your heroes North, fix the bridge and keep going. You can flag a Giant creature building at (2). It is the only Fortress creature building in the entire mission.
Here you can see a non-functional portal, and near the end of the mission you will return here to pass the two seals. Enter the stairway (b)-(b’) and come to the surface. Here is another split. If you go north, at the red (x) you will trigger an avalanche that blocks your way north, so the two paths will again converge at stairways (c)-(c’). Another underground passage. Follow the passage to use the stairways (d)-(d’). You can activate a flood gate at (3) and pray for a small stack of giants to join you. Backtrack a bit to the underground passage, and cast the summon ship spell to cross the water, (4).
On the other side of the water you can use a building that upgrades creatures. There are two stairways you can explore. First take (e)-(e’) to another enclosed surface area, then use (f)-(f’).
The surface area features yet another split that will eventually converge. Work your heroes uphill (which will take a while) and visit both altars (i) and (ii). Near the summit you will see an artefact forge. Take the portal (2)-(2’) to return to the giant creature building. Break two seals north and you can trade extra resources and artefacts at (6). Since you have already collected some artefacts, maybe you want to buy a few more and forge the good relics (which will carry over) on top of the mountain. There are elementals here that you may wish to hire.
There is one more bridge to be repaired north. Once you pass the bridge, you cannot return here anymore. So make sure you have finished all business before going north. The upcoming boss fight is not particularly difficult, so do not worry if you have a lot of unspent cash.
In this last area, you have a deadly enemy army led by Agrael (if you played Heroes V or VI, you should know him very well) coming at you. You are not supposed to fight him - all you need to do is to beat the much weaker hero at (7). If you have some money making perk and the two +250g/day artefacts equipped, with some patience, you might eventually grow a very big army and beat Agrael.
If you think you are fast enough, make a straight dash to pray at (8). This will erect a flame barrier that will block off Agrael to the east side of the map. If you failed to block Agrael (like me) it is not the end of the mission. You can strategically repair and destroy the bridges. As soon as you beat the heroes at (7) the mission is over!
Mission 6 - Heathenish Hope
Level cap: at least 50
Difficulty index: 5/7
The final mission can be broken down into 3 parts. Part 1 and Part 3 have a time limit, so you will have to act reasonably fast. Save often just in case. But doing things as fast as you can also gives you a disadvantage as you will have less units and less experience points (and stats and skills).
[Part 1] Time limit: 4 weeks
You have two heroes to start in Town (A), the female hero you have been developing and a magic hero Bart. Flag everything nearby. You can trade resources just south of the town at (1), which may come in handy in the future. Move east and capture the Fort (a) area, flag mines, creature buildings, etc. You have more than enough time to be thorough here.
By the end of Week 4 you need to rescue Kari, your male hero from the previous two missions. Kari is locked in the prison at (2). To get there, you have to travel NE from Fort (a) into a bit of the Fort (b) territory, then go SE to Town (B). This town is very lightly defended so you may as well take it. Then travel SW from Town (B) to finally reach Kari. With stables and exploration perks, your hero need about one full week to travel from Fort (a). So plan accordingly. If you are not so pressed by time, visit all stat boosts and level-up shrines on your way.
[Part 2] Time limit: NONE
As soon as you rescue Kari, the Red AI player is activated. It owns Town (C), Town (D), and will hire a number of naked heroes, just like in many other campaign missions. You are also given new mission objectives. The mandatory objectives is to defeat three dwarven heroes. Two of the three heroes are level 35, and will invade your territory with a sizable army (though they might decide to merge army, leaving one hero with almost nothing). The third hero is King Hathor, who you have been playing in the first three missions. In my first run I developed Hathor into a level 60+ monster with stats in 40-50+ range. Luckily there is no need to fight the king. As soon as you defeat the two heroes that invade your territory, a cutscene takes place and the objective is fulfilled. And you enter Part 3, which again has a time limit. You want to DELAY the defeat of the two heroes as much as possible, so you can still enjoy this phase of no time limit.
In addition to visiting stats boosts and collect experiences, artefacts and neutral stacks with diplomacy, there are some secondary (optional) objectives to complete. Take over three forts (a), (b), (c). Destroy three bridges, marked by (3), which lead to the central area. And use Kari to pick up 5 small groups of Rune Priests. You probably have picked up the first group right after rescuing him. The other four groups can be found in the location marked by (4). Once you complete all that you receive additional units. Not a game changer, but nice to have. It is OK not to finish all objectives before Part 2 is over - you can still do it in Part 3.
[Part 3] Time limit: 3 weeks
Once you defeat the two level 35 Red Dwarven hero, you enter the last stage of the game. The red player is automatically defeated, and all their Town (C) and (D) now belong to you. You also receive the two Lv 35 heroes whom you just defeated, plus a good-sized army on each.
You have to defeat the three Green heroes who are now in the central region, marked by (5). (So you need to repair the bridge if you have destroyed them previously). Each of them has a large army, but if you merge all creatures you have, you should be able to defeat these three heroes without trouble.
Notably there are two extra challenges you can do before going to the center. There is Agrael and another Green hero also each leads an army. They are parked outside the gate of the palace, at (6). They are completely immobile, so feel free to pass them and ignore them completely if you need to. For beating each one of them, you get additional dialogues (and lots of artefacts and experiences). Close to Agrael you can craft power Relic artefacts (7), if you have bought enough from the artefact merchant.
Once you defeat the three Green heroes in the center, the game throws its last challenge at you. On the battlefield, your Lv 50 opponent controls a dungeon army. You control a Lv 50 Kari with four kinds high-tier creatures, plus three rune stones (you don’t have priests for the Orange rune). You can cast two fire spells each round just like before. At this point direct damage spells are as powerful as your creature, so merge the melee stacks and slap on the 4x4 inner strength!
Congratulations for finishing the Fortress portion of the Dungeon campaign. Now let’s continue to the two new Haven missions, again using Ivan.
Ivan’s two-mission mini-campaign (again)
Mission 1 - Strange Bedfellow
Level cap: at least 40
Difficulty index: 3/7
Here you control Ivan again. You might be a little sad to find out that your awesome Ivan build back in the main game has been reset and reduced to a low level, just like the other missions. It is OK, there are plenty of battles that will push Ivan to level 30, even 40. Please note the time limit in the first bit of the mission, so try to act fast.
You start with a Haven-Fortress mixed army at the bottom left corner of the map. Follow the straight path northeast and you will be forced into a battle (1). In this battle the game introduces a special mechanics of this mission - all your Fortress units, essentially the Tier-6 Rune Priests and the Tier-1 Defenders, are controlled by the AI. The AI is mostly reckless and sometimes cowardy, so this may make your battle a little frustrating. Fortunately, Ivan comes with a full Griffin artifact set, and he is able to cast one powerful and 0 mana Resurrection per battle. This free spell, plus the ultimate Leadership perk, will make unit conservation easy in daily encounters. You only need to switch for something more powerful in a boss or mini-boss fight.
Keep heading NE and you will be given a mission to settle (a town), which is currently a pile of ruins at (A). Since this is town and not a fort, you need quite a bit of building materials and cash to build it. Fortunately they can be found west of the town. Battle the creatures to collect resources and flag the mines. At (2) you can capture a gold mine. As soon as you have enough resources to build the town, do it, and then head north towards (3). You need to get to (3) and talk to the Dwarven king before the end of Week 3. Around this time (I do not remember exactly) the Dwarven hero Bart (again, reset to a lower level) will join you. He is a decent mage. Both Ivan and Bart will carry over to the next mission, which requires at least two armies to survive. So do not completely ignore developing Bart.
From now on there is no time limit anymore, and you can expand at your own pace. There is a fairly powerful hero in Town (B) - Fortress, Town (C) - Fortress, and Town (D) - Academy. Their colours are similar to your own Yellow. These heroes stay in their respective territories at least in the first month or two, while they battle local neutral creatures. It is easier to first capture fort (a) to the east. This will give you a steady stream of rare resources. You can also pick up friendly Defenders and Rune Priests scattered around the map, so it is a good idea to keep these two oversized, uncontrollable stacks in the army. As soon as you feel comfortable, take over the AI towns (B), (C) and (D), and mop up the area systematically.
The four obelisks does not reveal the map of a Tear of Asha, but the gate (4) towards the mission boss, who will be very weak compared to you by the time you get there. That gate requires level 25 to pass. Before you do that, though, buy as many parts of set artefacts and forge the powerful relics at (5). (There is another location in the south, which is less convenient.) You will run at least two functional armies in the next mission, so prepare the artefacts accordingly.
Once you pass the gate, you have the option to blast through the mountain and reach the boss directly. Alternatively, you can travel to underground via stairway (6)-(6’), follow the path and battle some large stacks. As soon as you emerge from (7)-(7’), the mission boss is directly to the east. Mission accomplished!
Mission 2 - To the Fire in the Blood
Level cap: at least 60
Difficulty index: 5/7
Time limit again! You have to stop the AI (Brown and Red) from destroying mines. When they destroy a total of 25 mines you lose the mission. This is more difficult than it sounds. First, most sections in the map are blocked off so repair takes some time. And the AI has multiple heroes, all born with one mission in mind - to destroy mines. There are 3 Lv35 Brown armies, and about 2 Lv40+ Red armies. You have to defeat at least 5 heroes as soon as possible, with not much more than your starting army. Do not bother fighting the neutrals unless they are reasonably close by. You can also flag nearby mines, especially looking for Starsilvers. Leave the other neutrals behind - you will have all the time you need later.
You start at Town (A), which looks quite like a H5 Fortress town. Both Ivan and Bart return as promised (hopefully you have made some good relic artefacts for them), plus Vilma. As you would expect, Vilma has been reset. Without good skill distribution and stats from the Fortress campaign, she is not far from useless in battle. So give her army to Bart. Let her be a governor, flag undefended mines (directly south of Town A, across the bridge) and run future errands. Now both Ivan and Bart can venture out and catch some enemy heroes (get them some war machines first). Here are two viable routes, which should be pursued at the same time.
Route 1 (recommended: Ivan)
After clearing up your base, make Ivan go west. Repair the mountain passage at (1). You should be able to see the first Brown hero. Keep going west and you can hire Shantiri Titans at (2). This mission features a few unique champion creature buildings at a insane growth rate of +5 per week, and the Shantiri Titans are awesome shooters, actually the best shooters in the entire game. They are especially useful for Ivan, who lacks good damaging spells. Being a construct though it never gets a good morale. The titans will continue to accumulate in the creature building until its number reaches 20. So come back at least once a month to buy all that is available. Each Titan requires 1 blue crystal and 3 star silver.
Now you have the Titans, so the encounters are much easier. Keep moving west and you should be able to see a Red hero in the (3) area. Eliminate that, and go south across the bridge at (4). Head straight to Fortress Town (C). Here you should see yet another Red hero, plus whoever you defeated before with a much smaller army.
The most difficult fight in this entire campaign is probably one of the Red heroes in the region. Her super Chain Lightning can decimate your army and wipe out at least one of your stacks every round. Delay this particular battle as long as you can, and bring your best army. Begin the battle with the “Advance” war cry and rush every melee unit forward, and kill as fast as possible. If you win on Round 2, you only get hit by the spell once.
Route 2 (recommended: Bart)
Bart also has a lot of ground to cover, but he just needs to focus on the Brown heroes. From the starting area, repair the bright at (5). Keep going south towards Fort (a), and you should be able to see a Brown hero around the area (6). From here go west towards the bridge at (7) and capture Haven Town (B) from the Brown player. There may be a Brown hero west from here. The quest map marks their locations. After defeating all Brown heroes nearby, head west to (8) and finally to Town (C), just in case you need a second army to handle the Red player.
When you have capture Town (B) and (C), and have defeated all roaming Brown and Red heroes, the time limit is officially lifted. There are two notable points of interests:
(9): South of Town (B), you can pay quite a bit of resources (30 each, plus cash) in exchange for revealing (almost) the entire map.
(10): Only Bart can pass a gate in the middle of the lake. From the portal there you can access a underground “frozen sea” area, decorated with some neutral stacks and artefacts. There is also a side quest associated with this. It is not a very complex area.
Fort (b) area: A number of huge Haven stacks are willing to be bribed to join your army. Accumulate some cash, sell off extra resources to the trader and pay! Alternatively you can shop for Fortress units around Town (C). In my game for some reason I could not upgrade the basic Griffins in Town (B), but I could do it on the upgrade building just west of the town.
Your last goal is to fight a familiar (already reset, of course) Red hero in Town (D). It should be a very easy battle if you have been thorough with the map. A ton of congratulations to finally finish all campaign missions! ?
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