Wednesday, March 2, 2022

WarWizard: End in Sight

 
I expect the final battle will be here.
    
When I last wrote, I was feeling depressed about my chances, given that I couldn't seem to beat the latest batches of foes the game was serving me in several locations. These were principally the trolls guarding the bridge to Kaenn, the black guards in the hidden city of Akath, and the dark elf warriors encountered in the woodland "dungeon" of Wineke.
    
Now, while I probably could still have used some more grinding (I've been playing most of the game with random encounters turned off), it turns out that most of my difficulty was due to having temporarily forgotten about one of the game's features: the ability to specify the body part when targeting the enemy. Early in the game, I reasoned that since all body parts have the same number of hit points, it's easiest to just go with the default (the torso). I did this so long that I forgot the whole body part system existed. There ought to be a term for this--a game mechanic that seems useless, so you put it out of your mind, only to have its utility demonstrated in a big way later on.
         
A key element of gameplay that I forgot about.
      
Once I remembered that I could change body parts, the enemies became a lot easier. It turns out that some enemies have natural weaknesses. I found that attacking the head or neck produced positive results with dark elves and trolls and attacking the waist produced the best result with black guards. The enemies were still difficult, and I often had to pay for resurrections during this session, but they were no longer impossible.
   
This revelation came while I was exploring the woodland area called Wineke, the realm of the dark elves. A long maze of trees led to a stone structure in which I fought several fixed battles with dark elves before reaching the dark elf king and queen. The king's party was particularly nasty, and I lost both my cleric and mage in the fighting (i.e., I had to pay for resurrection). The queen had the "Word of Death" spell on her body, while the king had the "WarWizard's dragon slayers," a bunch of 10 arrows.
           
Entering the dark elf king's chambers. I had to fight several regular battles before meeting him.
     
I had to leave 4 locked chests in Wineke because I never found the key to open them. I probably missed a lot of riches, but I doubt they had anything vital since no dungeon has provided more than one piece of WarWizard gear.
   
With my newfound appreciation for attacking heads, I marched north along the road to the bridge and finally managed to kill the 8 trolls guarding the way into Kraenn. Unfortunately, this action did not open up the northern map as much as I'd hoped, as the road entered a mountain pass immediately beyond the bridge and ended at an imposing fortress called Vregan.
      
Killing the bridge trolls.
    
I had some money and items to sell now, so I spent some time doing a circuit around the cities looking for ones in which there was still room in the display cases of weapon and armor sellers. Unlike Angband, you can't clear out space by buying cheap items because the display case is segmented into groups of 4 based on the quality of the item. A long sword +3--which almost all of the dark elves had--goes into one of the higher sections of the case, and once you sell four of them (less if the shopkeeper already has stuff in there), you're out of luck. By the time this session finished, I had filled pretty much every available slot of every vendor, meaning that making money by selling things is no longer viable.
    
I probably won't need it anyway. By the time this session was over, I had purchased every potion that I could find that would raise an attribute. I continued to give them all to my WarWizard, with the exception of one "Increase Dexterity" potion that I gave to my cleric so he'd get two attacks per round instead of just one. By the end of the session, my WarWizard was up to three attacks per round, but that takes 22 dexterity. There are probably better NPCs out there, but I don't have the patience to keep juggling equipment from one NPC to another just because he has slightly better stats. I figure I'll stick with the party I have.
     
My character's current attributes.
      
I next took my ship back through the whirlpools and into the hidden valley containing the city of Akath. Targeting the waist got me past the black guards and into the ruined city. It was devoid of any life except agents of the enemy. One structure had a chest that opened to an "ancient key" that I had in my inventory from somewhere. It had the WarWizard's cloak.
   
I moved on to the part of Kraenn south of the river. There was another hidden elven realm here called Elewin. Like Wineke, it had a large forest maze preceding the entrance to what I originally thought was a dungeon but turned out to be a town full of friendly elves. The elf king told me that I'd find a replica of the WarWizard's longbow in the city's tower. To get into it, I just had to buy a key at a "hidden" key shop in the same town. It was easily the easiest piece of WarWizard equipment that I've found so far.
     
I acquire the WarWizard's bow.
   
Other NPCs in Elewin told me about a town of halflings on the coast of Kraenn, but I'd have to get through both Vregan and a second fortress called Rilgan first. I made my way to Vregan. It was a large town full of black guards, but I didn't have much trouble with them. A secret passage in the southwest led down into a tunnel, which emerged in a hidden mountain valley. There, a second entrance led to a dungeon called Dalwek. Dalwek had three major sections in which there were numerous parties of trolls, hill giants, and mountain giants, leading to final battles with the kings of these three tribes. Each king had a treasure stash to loot afterwards. 
    
Approaching a part of hill giants in Dalwek.
       
The troll and hill giant kings had only gold and magic items, but the mountain giant king was supposed to have the WarWizard's shield (this according to an NPC found in the same dungeon, at least). My encounter with the mountain giant king was preceded with a message that the king stares at us "with smoldering eyes"; this is the only pre-combat message that I've encountered in the game. I didn't find the shield on his body, though, and it wasn't in any of the chests. I made several loops through the dungeon to make sure. 
       
I'm married.
       
Googling for help, I found a message board in which a player claimed that the mountain giant king has the shield, but its icon is completely black, making it look like there's nothing in the giant's inventory. Unfortunately, once you leave the loot screen after combat, you can no longer get back to it again. Any items not looted are lost forever. This is as bad a game design as an all-black icon in the first place.
      
To fix the problem, I had to restore the dungeon, which you can do by simply deleting the dungeon's directory from the save game folder. Saved games get stored in directories in which there is a sub-folder for each dungeon you've visited. If you delete the folder, the game assumes you've never been in the dungeon before and copies over a new fresh directory from the game's data folder. I don't think this will have any other long-term consequences. I had to fight the battle again, of course, plus a bunch of individual battles as I made my way out of the dungeon (I guess I could have put my original files back to avoid that, but I didn't think of it). Sure enough, the WarWizard's shield was the first item in the mountain giant king's inventory, but it has no icon.
       
The game tries to convince me that I'm holding a shield.
    
The last place we had to visit was the fortress of Rilgan, further up the mountain road from Vregen. It was the same sort of place as Vregen--an old town taken over by black guards and other dark forces. The central keep, in place of a king and queen, had two stacks of "dark kings," easily the most difficult enemies I've fought so far. They had devastating magic attacks for the first five rounds, and when those ran out, they charged my characters with swords +3 and hammers +3. It was five tries before I could defeat even one of these stacks with a single character alive at the end. It turned out they didn't really have anything except gold. Rilgan had no WarWizard gear.
        
Clearing the bridge in the south-center and the two fortresses in the center led to a huge new area of the game map.
      
I wasn't worried, though, because I had two more locations left to explore, both in Aladain: the fortress of Orogan, and the city or fortress whose name I don't know because it's surrounded by monster icons. I figured these locations would have the last two pieces of the WarWizard's kit and the monster-surrounded place would also serve up the final battle. But the game had another surprise for me. The north door out of Rilgan opened the way to huge northern parts of Kraenn and Aladain. It turns out these two kingdoms are as big as the other four.
       
An amusing crossroads in Aladain.
      
Kraenn has four towns, three on the western coast and one on an inland sea. It also has a dungeon in the mountains called Thargrim. In addition to the locations already mentioned, Aladain has two towers in the northeast, one on the far northeastern coast and one in a forest valley, both (oddly) called Talakir. It also has a huge skull fortress nestled in the northern mountains, which is where I now assume the real final battle will take place. So with only two pieces of WarWizard gear left to find, I have four towns and five fortress/dungeons left to explore. I wonder what the excess ones are for.
        
My current, perhaps final, map of the game world.
      
I'm particularly curious if the towns will offer any new mode of transportation that will allow me to see the rest of the map--an airship, perhaps, or some kind of boat that doesn't make the crew mutiny if I try to get more than one square from shore. There are still many areas I cannot access because of mountains or water, and it haunts me a bit to think of all the terrain icons that must be there but can never be seen.
       
This tall tower in the far northeast has the same name as a different tower in the same kingdom.
        
I don't know if I can finish it in one more entry, but at least I'm confident now that I can finish it.
   
Time so far: 52 hours
 

33 comments:

  1. Congrats on the breakthrough. Like with any success story, all you had to do was aim for the top.

    Also, well done unlocking the rest of Aladain. It's like a whole new world up there, and now you're one jump ahead of the others covering this game.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If CRPGs taught me anything, it's that you always go for the eyes.

      Delete
    2. Go for the eyes, Boo, go for the eyes!

      (and that game didn't even have body part aiming)

      Delete
    3. JarlFrank - that actor (Minsc, not Boo) does a lot of voice acting. Everytime I hear him speaking, I can hear that line.

      My 10-year-old has asked me what I think is so funny, but I have not explained my chuckle. She's not ready for Baldur's Gate.

      Delete
    4. Irene and I were playing the Mass Effect series recently and I was delighted that you can get a pet space hamster. I kept referring to it as a "miniature giant" space hamster, which of course she didn't get.

      Delete
    5. My wife used to yell, "HELM, GIVE ME STRENGTH" at me when I pissed her off. Her only experience with the game was listening to me play it. I love that woman.

      Delete
  2. I am curious about the warwizard shield being a black icon? Maybe it is a missing or bugged out graphic?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That sounds like a bug. Say, it's supposed to have sprite number 183, but a typo gives it sprite 813 instead, which doesn't exist. That DOES mean insufficient playtesting though.

      Delete
    2. There's some other weird stuff going on with icons. It turns out that an awful lot of the empty inventory slots are in fact black icons with weird names and values (e.g., "GAM1\THARGRIM\THARGRIM.OBJ") when you hover over them, and you can drag the black tile to your inventory. Most of them, unlike the shield, do nothing. It's almost as if they couldn't programmatically depict an "empty" slot all the time so they had to make up blank black objects to make it LOOK like the slot is empty, and somehow the shield got tied up in that.

      Delete
  3. Well that's a nice turn of events. Glad you get to finish at least one of these recent arduous games.

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  4. Time so far: 52 hours

    Huh, I mean, you were starting over once, then brought your map and a lot of in-game knowledge to this new run, but with four cities and five dungeons still left to explore the game might scratch the 70 hour mark.

    Excessively long or just good value?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I finished it last night with a total of 64. Definitely too long. That doesn't mean it doesn't have good parts, but those parts are good for maybe a 25-hour game.

      Delete
  5. Also, I couldn't find this title on 'how long to beat' for comparison's sake. Have you ever added some info to that website, especially for games where you're the only person to (documentably) complete them?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LanHawk has my login information for that site, and I think I he updates it now and then.

      Delete
  6. There are probably better NPCs out there, but I don't have the patience to keep juggling equipment from one NPC to another just because he has slightly better stats.

    This is a remarkable statement. I'd begun to think of you as the personification of patience.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I'm glad you decided to try to finish it. Something about it seems more interesting than the other games you've had trouble with lately. Its not some ambiguous title or something that's already been discussed to death, or Phalsberg.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Petrus told you about the shield with the blank icon on the very first comment of your very first WarWizard post, I guess you lost that note in the ensuing months!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha he did indeed, nicely found :D And Chet did say he was going to miss it anyway haha

      Delete
    2. Ha. I really do need a better way of reminding myself mid-game of things I was told pre-game.

      Delete
  9. Good to see you managed to overcome that situation - having to end the game without being able to finish it after all this time and effort would have been a pity, but now things look much better again indeed.

    Since I don't remember having seen him show up yet, I'll ROT13 something to take into account when you free the wizard Genethar to avoid getting stuck in the game without being able to progress at a certain point (unless you cheat / hex-edit) - according to the comments in the Abandonia forum I linked (as anon) under your previous WarWizard post: Jura lbh serr gur jvmneq Trargune jub unf bar Cbegny fcryy zrzbevmrq, haqre AB pvephzfgnaprf pnfg vg whfg sbe sha nf ur qbrf abg unir vg va uvf obbx naq pna'g rire ntnva zrzbevmr vg.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks. If I hadn't read that, I could imagine a situation in which I'd have screwed that up.

      Delete
  10. Regarding your observation about some enemies having natural weaknesses in certain body parts, the Abandonia review links this with the (type of) armor the respective body part is protected with - in line with an earlier comment by you that it makes or might make sense to aim for the head (and not the default torso) if the enemy is armored.

    Maybe both are true? Not sure if e.g. trolls here wear any armor. In the screenshots so far I could only see that, as you pointed out, all body parts have the same hitpoints. Is there a separate screen for the respective armor/protection type and value (both yours and your enemy's), e.g. AC style, for each body part? Sorry if you already mentioned it somewhere and I just missed it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I could be missing some interface element, but I don't think it's possible to tell during combat whether enemies are armored in particular places. After combat, you can determine their equipment from what you can loot. I'm not sure if this is a reliable predictor, though. I'd have to take a lot more notes on post-combat loot versus damage done to particular body parts.

      Delete
  11. AlphabeticalAnonymousMarch 2, 2022 at 10:44 PM

    I confess I had wondered whether there might be a hiatus in updates on the site, starting Tuesday (yesterday) --- glad to see that I was wrong, but: Chet, you deserve a vacation!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Why starting yesterday in particular?

      Delete
    2. Alphabetical AnonymousMarch 3, 2022 at 12:36 PM

      Mardi Gras! Though it's probably tougher to swing it when on the academic calendar.

      Delete
    3. Ah. I actually don't really care for Mardi Gras. It's too busy. I have plenty of fun in New Orleans on an average night. But, yeah, now that I'm a professor I can't visit as regularly or flexibly as I used to.

      Delete
    4. Lots of us here don't care all that much for the "busy" part of Carnival. I made it to precisely 0 parades this year, and I'm not sorry.

      Delete
  12. The magnificence of the WarWizard's shield is too much for human eyes to behold.

    It's probably a real boon against Gorgons and light-based attacks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Melkor's coat of arms was sable unmarked.

      Delete
    2. PetrusOctavianusMarch 4, 2022 at 8:28 AM

      Sable unblazoned (at least Melkor was not pretentious and kept it simple).
      Sorry about the nerdpicking.

      Delete

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