A Valley Without Wind 2: Panic in the Ranks
Spike Ayleward was feeling pretty sure of himself when last we saw him. Sure, Demonaica was about to burst out of his dark ugly Keep and wreak hell upon the meager Resistance, but Spike had done his best to grow outwards in every direction, breaking down Windstorm Generators and installing fighters in the most secure locations. The Resistance had a tidy stockpile of food and scrap, morale was high, and Spike’s own powers weren’t looking too shabby now that he’d recovered the lost art of being a Staminist Mage.
Little did he know that Demonaica was feeling pretty sure of himself too. And with better reason.
The instant the Windstorm Generator is destroyed, I get the message: I’ve screwed up, and one of my thirteen survivors has been murdered. Her name was Denise Antoni, apparently, and just like that, we’ve lost about 7% of our rambunctious band. Julieta Kokan berates me for a while.
My mistake is easy to spot, considering how Demonaica has left a handy trail of smoldering buildings. My assumption had been that he would try to deprive us of our most useful positions first, and the best and closest options were the clinic we’d set up in the ruins of the old city and the farm just outside of it. Although I’d correctly guessed the course of his rampage and vacated both locations, I hadn’t realized he would murder and demolish everything between his origin and destination, which in hindsight makes a lot of sense considering he’s a massive demon with an unholy army at his back. At any rate, the price of my mistake isn’t just that we’ve lost our only way to heal our people, or that a prime construction location inside the abandoned city was also razed, or that Denise Antoni is dead; it’s also that morale has now plummeted: -20 because Demonaica emerged from his Keep, -1 for the loss of the clinic (that one seems low to me), and -5 for Denise’s death. Oh, and now that we’ve abandoned the farm, our people are eating a lot more than they’re producing.
I’m beginning to understand just how difficult A Valley Without Wind 2 can be. Demonaica travels 3 tiles per turn. This isn’t particularly far, but considering how little of the continent Spike has purified of windstorms, there isn’t much territory to retreat into if Demonaica keeps it up. Worse, as much as I’d love to explore new frontiers to hide my people in, Demonaica will catch up sooner rather than later.
So thank goodness we recently spotted a Robotic Research Facility in the south. These special locations can be hacked for new “feats,” which are necessary talents like double-jump, swimming, and the ability to transform into a micro version of myself to travel through tight spots. One of the requirements before I can take out Demonaica for good is that I’ll need to hack all these facilities and pick up all their feats, which will let me break farther into Demonaica’s Keep to where he has the really good mage knowledge hidden (why he hid it in sequence of increasing power rather than all in his inner vault, we may never know. Perhaps he has a strong sense of fair play, though Denise Antoni might not agree). So while the Resistance continues to scramble across the land, displacing whenever Demonaica’s horrible visage appears on the horizon, I head south.
There’s a thin strip of stormy terrain between me and the facility, so I hunt down the Windstorm Generator and destroy it — only to be informed that not only has Demonaica destroyed our farm like I expected him to (-1 morale), but we’ve also lost another survivor (-5), this time to roaming monsters. I didn’t see that coming. At first the only monsters out on the map were wimpy “wall crocs” that did a negligible single point of damage to my soldiers before getting wiped out, but now there are flying beasts that can slaughter all but the hardiest fighters in one go, and I wasn’t paying enough attention to see them coming. Julieta Kokan chews me out for negligence again.
The consequences of these events are taking their toll. Now that morale is getting low, our people are spending less time being careful as they go about their scavenging or foraging duties. They’re preoccupied by hopeless thoughts, some are feeling a touch suicidal, and as a result two of our survivors have been hurt during the routine course of their day. This is really bad news since we don’t have a clinic to perk them back up. I add “build a clinic” to my increasingly long list of number one priorities.
On the plus side, I’m able to infiltrate the Robotic Research Facility and steal the ability to swim. At least, I guess that’s a plus. Right now, knowing how to swim is about as useful as a refrigerator at the south pole.
The territory I’ve purified has come to resemble spokes off of a wheel, with its axle centered on Demonaica’s Keep. Sure enough, the next Level-Up Tower is right between cleared paths, and blocked by massive towers in the junkyard. Julieta says I can have a survivor blaze a trail and make that tile passable. Sounds good, so I send a soldier over, destroy another Windstorm Generator while I wait — and lose another survivor, this time in a location that specified it was too benign to attract Demonaica’s attention. Sigh. (-5 morale.)
However! It turns out that newly-leveled location contains a Windstorm Generator that will open up a significant tract of territory when destroyed! You can see it in the picture above, marked by yellow arrows. This is a rare find, and a great opportunity to both reach that Level-Up Tower and purify three Windstorm Generators worth of terrain while only pushing the clock forward by one turn! Excellent!
I head into the junkyard, and I’m gunned down by robots before I get two minutes into the map. Hm. -1 morale for my death, even though I’m immortal and immediately reincarnate.
Still, I’m not giving up on this opportunity. So I try again (-1 morale), and again (-1), and again (-1). Half the time I’m cautious and I make it a little bit farther before getting exploded by future-bots, and the other half I think I’ve got it down and die almost immediately. My followers are (understandably) growing increasingly depressed with the state of their leadership, as their bold immortal commander gets himself vaporized and melted and stabbed to death over and over again.
After a few more attempts, I snap back to reality and realize I should follow the old maxim, “When you suck at something, do something else.” For one thing, my survivors could probably use some leadership about now. After all, Demonaica has been snacking on one of them every evening.
I can’t stop him yet, but I can buy a little time. I send a soldier into the Desert Pyramid that I liberated back at the start of the game. It didn’t have much value then, but now my soldier activates its ancient mechanisms, which sends an enormous surge of energy across the continent to blast Demonaica, buying me two precious turns before he’ll move again. The pyramid collapses under the strain, but this gives me a brief window for moving people into more secure positions — and hopefully positions that will bring in a bit more food.
After some shuffling, the Resistance has three colonies. Far to the south of the Keep, in the highlands where I stole the ability to swim, I’ve hidden two survivors. Even though the terrain itself is inhospitable and doesn’t yield much in the way of resources, this is a good spot because it’s far from any real danger. In a sense, this is my backup plan, stored up against the fear that Demonaica will do something ridiculous and devastating in the north.
The second colony consists of three dudes hanging out in the junkyard. This position is a bit risky, since it isn’t far from the Keep and its regular stream of monsters, but the scrap income is fabulous, so I make sure they’re all tough fighters and leave them to it.
The third and final colony is our breadbasket, centered around a patch of fertile terrain and a City Hall in the north. The City Hall provides a gradual stream of new recruits so long as I keep it staffed, which of course I do. I then send our new comrades out into the fields to gather food, creating a nice self-sufficient ecosystem. Demonaica is nowhere nearby.
Turns out he doesn’t need to be.
The instant the demon lord is free of his pyramid-induced paralysis, he casts a spell. It’s a meteor shower, centered right over my breadbasket. One survivor is instantly killed (-5 morale), and five others are badly wounded. And the meteor shower looks like it’s here to stay for a while, which means I can’t just leave my people there to ride it out; if I want them to survive, they’ll have to do it by their own two feet.
I wish I could say that was the least of my problems. In addition to the displacement of my most successful colony, my most recent exploration accidentally unearthed a Deep Gate, which belches monsters out onto the surface forever unless you have someone go over and destroy it.
With nowhere else to run, the Resistance retreats back to the cradle of their civilization — right around Demonaica’s Keep. Which yes, means that every few turns, new monsters emerge to murder and injure the ragged survivors. Every turn, I rearrange their positions so that the monsters will attack the strongest who will survive, or the absolute weakest who we won’t mind not feeding any longer. We have no clinic, Demonaica has decided to destroy our City Hall and its steady influx of recruits, and fresh monsters are trickling across the landscape from the northwest.
It’s a bad season for humanity.
I’m due a string of good luck. I get it when a commando raid by two of my soldiers succeeds in shutting down the Deep Gate for good, though the endeavor turns out to be a suicide run. We would remember your names, brave soldiers, if only I’d written them down or taken a screenshot.
All in all, things are beginning to turn around for Spike Ayleward and the Resistance. Demonaica is busy wrecking things in the far north for some reason, and I’m able to clear more territories for residence in the east. As more survivors are rescued from the rubble of a dozen different timelines, and as more food is brought in, and especially as we finally get another clinic running, morale begins to improve. It isn’t a fast process, but at least we’re able to go five turns at a time without anyone dying from sadness or monster attacks.
Still, Spike’s forays into the wilderness are growing more dangerous with each new environment, and he still hasn’t managed to break through the Junkyard that locks him out of westward expansion. If the Resistance is to survive, we’re going to need to get a bigger picture of Environ.