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18. Head Hunter

Enemy Tribes: Dakini, Matak, Chumara

Starting Spells: Swarm, Lightning, Convert, Landbridge, Invisibility, Swamp, Hypnotise, Tornado, Erode, Earthquake, Flatten, Firestorm, Magical Shield

Permanent spells you can get: None

Temporary Spells you can get: Armageddon

Buildings you can get: None

Vehicles you can get: None

The terrible magic that your Shaman speaks of is none other than your old friend Armageddon. But don't expect another relative cake walk like Middle Ground. This time the Dakini have the Stone Head behind their fortifications, and the other tribes will be fighting you to get to it, not each other. On top of all that, the Fog of War is back (for the last time), so you can't see them coming. This is a fairly challenging level, but doable. You start on the northwestern edge of the largest continent on the world. The Dakini settlement lies southeast over land or northeast across the water. The Matak are on a small island a short distance southwest of your Reincarnation Site, while the Chumara are on a medium sized island north of you. When you begin you can fit two Huts on the west side of your Reincarnation Site before you run out of room. I would also recommend setting up two Guard Towers near the north/northwest coast and staff them with Firewarriors when you get them. All three tribes like boats in this level, and you'll need some defense against raiding parties from the west.

Unless you create more land, you'll need to expand your settlement to the east. There's a narrow bridge of land that leads to a larger section east of your Reincarnation Site, and it is in this section that I recommend that you build your Training Huts and Balloon Hut, and then fit in as many Huts as you can. You'll notice to the south that there's a small lake that divides two paths running towards the Dakini settlement. One path is on top of a large hill or on the land below. The Dakini (and other tribes) will use both paths for their raiding parties, either to get to your settlement or to get back to theirs. This could mean a lot of Guard Towers for you to build if you want to cover both routes, and although there are a lot of trees on this world, it is easy to build so quickly that you use them up and have to wait for them to regenerate. Instead, I recommend setting up your Guard Tower defense on the lowland route, and send your Shaman to edge of the lake, as close as you can get to the side of the hilly path. Here you should be able to cast Land Bridge across to the other side of the hill (target the land nearest the water) and lower an entire section of the hill down to your level.

If you do this far enough down the hill, the path will end in a sheer cliff, and I never saw any enemy raiders try to use it. From there you only have one path to guard, and you can reuse Land Bridge to flatten out the rest of the hill so you can build on it. Another defensive issue arises if you decide you want the numerous trees on the land northeast across the inlet. You can easily cast Land Bridge and reach this area, but the land turns south and goes straight to the Dakini settlement. They will come through this area, and your Land Bridge, to attack the backside of your settlement. Set up a few Guard Towers here and keep your mobile defenders handy. Not only the Dakini ground forces, but also Matak and Chumara boats tend to land to the north/northwest sections of your settlement. The attackers then head for the Dakini settlement, which doesn't help you if you've expanded in the direction they're going. Try to guard against these incursions when you can, and be ready to stop them. One final thing to be aware of, in addition to attacks from boats, the Matak and Chumara will both open Land Bridges to your continent near your settlement and attack you from there directly.

The Matak will come directly west of your Reincarnation Site (might be a good thing you had those Guard Towers there), and the Chumara will come southeast of your Reincarnation Site, near the spot where the high hill path meets the lowland path (and if you're guarding the lowland path you should have Guard Towers in that area anyway). Once you get your settlement and defenses up and running, you'll probably run out of the grace period before the Dakini start sending worshippers to the Armageddon Stone Head. When this happens you need to stop them. Make it your top priority, as they will use Armageddon almost immediately after they get it, whether you're ready or not. I recommend making the Balloon Hut one of the first buildings you construct when you get enough space, and then building one balloon for your Shaman. In the air, she can easily zip over to the Stone Head and lay down a few Swamps. You might also want to cast Lightning on the Guard Towers they have in the area and Swamp along patrol routes.

If you kill the few defenders the Dakini have patrolling the area between your settlement and the Stone Head, they shouldn't come back to patrol. The Dakini will attack with large numbers of Warriors and Firewarriors when you provoke them. Fortunately they don't include any Preachers, so if you can keep the Firewarriors from killing your Preachers you can grab a large number of enemy Warriors (I got 30+ when they tried to rush my Guard Towers). When you're able to easily head over and cast Swamp on the Dakini worshippers whenever they get through your old Swamps, you should start building your air force. Like in Middle Ground, a large Firewarrior balloon force will keep enemy attackers off your worshippers until they're done. This force will also give you the mobility you need to respond to another tribe attacking the other side of your settlement.

As you're worshipping, you might want to target the enemy followers manually so they Firewarriors actually shoot them before they close distance, I found that without rough terrain the Dakini followers could get to my worshippers a second before they were automatically fired on. Once you have Armageddon safely in your possession you can choose how to finish this level just as you did for Middle Ground, build up your forces and Armageddon or wipe them out one by one. The choice is yours, and if you choose the later there are Volcano Stone Heads on both the Chumara and Matak islands. I have not seen either of these tribes try to worship these Stone Heads before you do, so if you can sneak in there and take them before they really counter attack then you have one more powerful spell in your arsenal. Since Volcano has a maximum of one use, do not worship the other Stone Head before using the spell you got from the first, or it will go to waste.

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