The Art of War: A Guide to Defending Meridell
Author’s Note: In the land of Shenkuu, long hidden from the rest of Neopia, there was long ago a Shoyru, known only as Shou Ru, who wrote a grand guide to warfare. I, Slothmaroo999, have undertaken a translation of his work from Shenkuese to Neopian. It is entitled The Art of War, and is a guide to the game Invasion of Meridell.
Invasion of Meridell is a very simple game. It’s not a Flash game, which makes it excellent for those with slow computers. It has an avatar which is quite prestigious. The opportunity to make Neopoints is readily available, and a trophy is awarded even to those who cannot reach the high score table. Yet many do not understand how to play. This guide will instruct beginners in warfare to defend Meridell from the evil invaders! It is in two parts, the first explaining the structure of the game, and the second explaining strategy for the missions individually.
The Rules of Engagement
Invasion of Meridell consists of ten missions, the constituents of which are three battles. The goal of each battle for you, Hero of Meridell, is to convert all the invaders to your side while keeping your villages safe. The goal for the invaders is to sack four of your six villages. Both sides try to achieve these goals with their army.
Your army consists of a Moehog, a Skeith, a Techo, a Scorchio, and a Grundo. At the very beginning of the game, you should make sure your Skeith, Techo, and Scorchio have Attack Strengths of at least 18, 9, and 13, respectively, as these will be doing the bulk of the fighting in later missions. The Moehog is very weak and it is unnecessary to try to improve it; it can move four spaces per turn. It seems useless but in fact is vital. The Skeith is very strong, but can only move one space per turn, though its immobility will be modified later on. The Techo starts out weak but through excellent weaponry it will become mighty; it is able to move two spaces per turn. The Scorchio is quite strong and will be a great asset later on; it also moves two spaces per turn. The Grundo also quite strong, but its main task will not be fighting, so try not to use it as much as the other warriors in early levels. Your pieces are allowed to move only a collective total of five spaces per turn (be wary of moving the Moehog its maximum four spaces, as this will nearly consume your available moves).
The invaders’ army has less diversity than yours. In the first mission, it consists of five Moehogs. The species and number of invaders will change depending on mission. Each invader is able to move only one space per turn, but the collective maximum does not exist. Invaders will move forward one space, usually straight (unless they are moving around a mountain or ally). If one of your warriors is adjacent to them, they will attack it. If a village is adjacent, they will sack it. If a village and one of your warriors are adjacent, the village will be sacked.
The board is a square, ten spaces by ten. There are, in addition to the armies, several (usually between four and nine) mountains, a spattering of items (which shall be discussed later) and six villages on the board. Mountains are universally impassable. Villages cannot be entered by your warriors, but are vulnerable to enemies- if an invader enters, the village will be sacked! If the invading army sacks four villages in one battle, the mission ends in your defeat and the ruin of Meridell! To move a warrior, simply click on it and then click on the space you want to go to. These spaces must be adjacent. Two warriors cannot occupy the same space. If warriors of opposing sides try to occupy the same space, the entering one will attack. This warrior is the attacker. The piece that occupies the space is the defender.
The attacker’s goal is to do an amount of damage that amounts to or exceeds the defender’s health. Damage to the defender’s health is calculated by adding the attack bonus of the attacker to the attacker’s weapon bonus to the attacker’s dice roll and then subtracting the defender’s defense strength. The attack bonus is simply figured. If the attacker’s attack strength is less than nine, the bonus is zero. If it is between nine and eleven, the bonus is one. For numbers between twelve and fourteen, there is a bonus of two; between fifteen and seventeen, a bonus of three; eighteen, a bonus of four; and nineteen, a bonus of five. Weapon strength is stated on the weapon itself; weapons shall be discussed separately. The roll is a random number between one and twenty.
For example, if a Moehog with an attack strength of ten and no weapon rolls an eleven when attacking an Invader Moehog with a defense strength of seven (1 + 0 + 11 – 7 = 5), five points of damage are done. If a Moehog with an attack strength of ten and a Mace (which a weapon bonus of one) rolls an eleven attacking an Invader Moehog with a defense strength of seven (1 + 1 + 11 -7 = 6), six points of damage are done. If a Moehog with an attack strength of ten and no weapon rolls a two when attacking an Invader Moehog with a defense strength of seven (1 + 0 + 6 -7 = 0), no damage is done at all! This would be the same if the end number was less than zero; no healing will take place. When a warrior’s health reaches zero, it is converted to the other side and loses any bonuses it might have.
The weapons I have talked about belong to the class of items which are obtained by a warrior occupying their space. Weapons can be both offensive and defensive, can have extra effects, and can be especially helpful to certain species. The attack bonus of a weapon has already been explained; the defense bonus of a weapon operates much the same way. For example, if an Invader Moehog with an attack strength of ten rolled a sixteen attacking a Grundo with a defense strength of fourteen and no defensive weapon, the equation representing the match is 1 + 16 – 14 = 3; if the defending Grundo is given a Magic Staff of Thunder (the defense bonus of which for Grundos is three), the equation is 1 + 16 – (14 + 3) = 0. They can make quite a difference! An example of a weapon with an extra effect and of a species-special one is the Amulet of Teleportation, which confers two defense bonus points to most warriors. It gives a bonus of four to Skeiths (the difference between the regular bonus and the bonus for the appropriate species is always two) and enables them to teleport to any space that is not in the three rows at the top of the board.
The other regular type of item is a potion. Two potions are provided per battle; their function is to heal the warrior that collects them by a large number of points. Both potions and weapons cannot be possessed by an invader; if an invader occupies the same space as an item, it is discarded.
The reason teleportation to the last three rows is prohibited is because of the most special of all items, Lost Items. One of these appears per mission, available in all three battles, always in the middle of the top row. They give a permanent bonus of one attack and defense point to all your warriors when collected and give you a lovely Neopoint bonus. Obviously, these are quite special items and thus, of course, there is a catch. If there are only two invaders remaining, the Lost Item will vanish for the remainder of the battle. Make absolutely sure to collect it before converting the last two invaders in any third battle! Moehogs, which will not be involved in fighting and can move four spaces per turn, are very helpful for obtaining Lost Items.
Besides Lost Items, there is another way to improve the statistics of your warriors. When your warrior converts an enemy (the game, not at all neutral, refers to these conversions as “saves” rather than conversions), it is recorded. When your warrior obtains a certain number, it improves in rank and gains one attack and defense point. After a promotion, saves will cease to accumulate until the next mission. All your warriors start with zero saves at the rank of Villager. After accumulating three saves (as, at the very least, your Techo, Skeith, and Scorchio, your most martial warriors, should have by the end of the first mission), a warrior is promoted to the rank of Defender. At nine saves, the rank is Soldier. At thirty-two saves, the rank is Captain. At sixty-four, the rank is Lieutenant. After a long wait, the rank at ninety-six is Corporal.
Both the bonuses for Lost Items and from promotions, in addition to the accumulated saves, will vanish permanently if your warrior is converted, so be very wary! Particularly later on, losing accumulated bonuses is sure to be devastating. If you lose a warrior after the third mission, you’d probably do best to simply restart the game.
It is worth noting that invaders can never improve their stats. They cannot collect weapons or potions, and will never come in contact with the Lost Item. These are your bonuses.
The awarding of Neopoints is somewhat odd. Each Lost Item is worth a large number (the first is worth fifty Neopoints and the reward increases by fifty each mission) and a number of Neopoints are awarded to you at the end of each battle depending on how many villages you leave “unturned.” It is, until very late levels, always less than fifty Neopoints and isn’t worth explaining with much precision. The other possible source of Neopoints from this game is the high score table. To get on it for any appreciable length of time (read: long enough to get a trophy) in the trophy range, you have to play an essentially perfect game, never losing a single village through all ten missions. Good luck with that. If you do manage it, however, it is impossible to be dislodged with a perfect score (One hundred and eighty, one point for each possibly unturned village; Lost Items are immaterial to your score though they will help you attain it) and you could stand to gain an impressive sum (thirty days up there * seven hundred and fifty Neopoints if you’re in the top three = twenty-two thousand five hundred Neopoints over the course of the month). Go ahead with it... that is, if you’re brave enough to try.
Many guides to this game have talked about the choice to remove a warrior and substitute it with a convert. The idea is silly. Your Grundo is necessary for healing and your Moehog to break enchantments on its healing ability (these are explained later on in the section on mission six). Your Skeith is the strongest of your army; in later levels it is the only one with a decent chance of striking certain enemies, and it must be retained. An immobile Skeith is a worthless Skeith, so your Techo, which breaks enchantments on Skeiths, is a necessity. That leaves only your Scorchio. If you really want to, you could replace it with a Grundo in the fifth mission, where Magic Force Spells (enabling healing) are available. The opportunity for extra healing, however, will rarely be of much help. As your converted Grundo will be a Villager, it will be of little use for fighting. It is extremely difficult to win a battle with only two warriors, even with extra healing to prevent their death (this would actually work quite well), because it will leave your villages poorly protected. One Grundo’s healing will be quite enough until later missions, at which time its ability to heal is improved by a new weapon. Leave your army as is.
Guide to Levels
Protection of Villages
The first mission, as it is the first, is quite easy. Before you start it, change the names of your warriors (I typically simply use their species’ name; you can use anything). This creates great ease in distinguishing them from future converted invaders. The invaders in this mission are Moehogs, and there are five. You are much stronger than they are and are equal to them in numbers, so there really isn’t much skill involved. Since only three saves can be accumulated in this mission, let each one of your warriors make one save per battle (all will become Defenders). Get the Lost Item to enter the second mission at the highest possible strength. As far as weapons, make sure your Grundo obtains a Magic Staff of Thunder and your Techo obtains a Broadsword. Your Skeith should probably obtain a Mace and a Staff, your Techo should obtain a Staff, your Grundo should obtain a Mace or a Broadsword (for non-Techos, the two are exactly the same), and your Scorchio should obtain a Mace/Broadsword and a Staff.
The second mission is where you have to show you’ve learned. The invaders are Techos. They are stronger than before, though still weaker than you. There are now six of them, making the enemy force larger than yours. Weapons increase in importance. There should be an Amulet of Teleportation; make sure your Skeith gets it very quickly. There should also be Bows and Axes. Your Scorchio should obtain a Bow during the course of the mission. This is a Scorchio-specific weapon, worth two points for regular warriors and four for Scorchios. If the Scorchio is a Soldier, which it most likely will not be until the end of this mission of the beginning of the next, it can shoot from two spaces away. This is very valuable for assisting Scorchio’s comrades, as the invader will not be able to attack the Scorchio. Your Scorchio also gains a tactical advantage, allowed one free strike before the invader can attack. For a time, the Scorchio will be your offensive leader, too. Be careful not to use the Scorchio to the point at which Skeith and Techo don’t make the requisite saves to become Soldiers, as this will put you at a great disadvantage later on. Your Scorchio and Techo should each have eight or (preferably and more probably if you use them and the Skeith exclusively for fighting) nine saves by the end of the mission; the Skeith should have between seven and nine. The Grundo need not really obtain saves for the rest of the game, nor must the Moehog. Try to get a warrior of yours (if the Skeith gets its amulet early, teleporting it would be a good idea) near Invader Techo 05 early. It starts out much closer to your villages than the others, and is thus a grave threat.
The third mission of the game sets the tone for the remainder of the game. The new invaders are Skeiths and there are now seven. It's absolutely vital for the Grundo to obtain a Magic Force Spell. This weapon provides an attack bonus of three (five for Grundos), but this is immaterial as the Grundo will henceforth no longer play a direct role in fighting. The Magic Force Spell enables Grundo to zap health to your other soldiers twice per turn if both can make a move. Be sure to heal at the beginning of your turn. As a result of this new ability, Skeith, Techo, and Scorchio can continue fighting, even outnumbered, more or less indefinitely. Your Moehog should probably try to obtain a Helmet, if only to protect it when it sprints for the Lost Item. Your primary concern is to protect villages. The second best way to keep your villages safe is to keep the invaders far away from them (the best way is to convert the invaders, of course). Move your warriors up as fast as possible. Your Skeith should, if possible, teleport near invaders that start in the third row to keep the invaders from advancing.
You are attacked in this mission by eight Scorchios. The same strategy employed in Mission Three should be sufficient, with one modification. As one Skeith will no longer distract all of the invaders that start in the third row (there are three now), move your Techo or Scorchio up there with haste. This should keep the invading army away from your villages. If an invader makes it past your defensive line, move against it with your Moehog only to keep it away from villages, not to attack it. The group of Skeith and its comrade can be broken up; move the Skeith to the village’s defense. The new weapon in this mission is the Plate Armor, which provides five defense bonus points to all of your warriors. Scorchio should make a special point of getting one. If your Grundo does not have a Magic Cloak of Invisibility, it should probably get one, too. Your Techo should in place of Plate Armor obtain a Breastplate (four defense points, six for Techos).
Apart from with two new weapons, there really isn’t any difference between missions four and five except that the new invaders are Grundos, unquestionably the coolest looking of the draconian horde. Strategy is accordingly unmodified. Your Skeith should obtain a Berserker Battleaxe, which provides it with a weapon bonus of five. The Battleaxe enables Skeith to attack once after teleporting, cementing it as, ironically, the most mobile of your army. Absolutely vital is for the Moehog to obtain a Counter Enchantment Helmet. The game’s description is confusing (when I got it, I thought it meant Moehogs could click on the Invader Grundos in this mission and instantly convert them!). It actually refers to a new concept introduced in the sixth mission. Your Scorchio and Techo, upon the completion of the mission should be or be near the rank of Captain (thirty-two saves). For completing the first half of the game, you will obtain a shiny runner-up medal for your user lookup.
Mission six is the beginning of the Second Wave of invaders. The maximum health of your warriors has increased for eighteen to twenty-one. You may have to suffer the indignity of being demoted from Duke to Stablehand, but it’s back to five Moehogs invading- easy, right? Wrong! Accompanying the Moehogs are two Buzzes. The Buzzes are the titans of this game; no warriors, friendly or invader, are stronger. Sadly, they cannot be converted; when defeated, they simply leave a smoking crater. The Techo should obtain a Sword of Deflection (this is actually necessary if you want your Skeith to continue teleporting). The Sword of Deflection, in addition to the helmet I told you to have your Moehog obtain in the last mission, is used to end enchantments placed upon your Skeith and Grundo by invading Buzzes. When the enchantments are cast, the ability of your Grundo to heal and your Skeith to teleport is disabled. Breaking the enchantment unfortunately costs a turn, so even if they can be broken, their effect is deleterious. They are broken by clicking on the enchantment breaker and then on the (breakee?) much like the Skeith teleports. The Grundo should never be left unable to heal; your Skeith can, after reaching the front lines, sometimes be left immobile, especially if you might make a save with one more strike and don’t want to waste it breaking enchantments. You should save the Moehogs first as the Buzzes have a bloated defensive strength and are quite tedious to defeat. Saving the Moehogs should be done rapidly, as the Buzzes are strong enough to put your forces at real risk even with your Grundo’s constant healing. Before all the Moehogs have been converted, put only Moehogs in the line of fire, since a conversion (likely) will be more annoying than devastating. When only Buzzes remain, it all becomes a very tedious war of attrition. Set up the board so your main warriors (Techo and Scorchio, to a lesser extent Skeith) are absorbing attacks as their defensive strengths are much higher than those of fresh Moehogs and the damage Buzzes can inflict on them is unlikely to exceed your Grundo’s healing capability. Simply attack and attack and attack until the Buzzes are vanquished. Make sure both Buzzes are engaged in battle and both are being attacked at once, otherwise one might sneakily sack a village or two.
Mission seven is similar to mission six. Keeping pace, the new invaders are again Techos. There is, however no increase in their number. Instead, another Buzz is added to the invading army (groan). Strategy is not significantly different. After the Techos are converted, assign each Buzz one rival from among your warriors (and by “warriors” I mean Skeith, Techo, and Scorchio) to wear them down. It may be best to give your Skeith three Techo invaders to deal with, your Scorchio a Techo and a Buzz and your Techo the same, with one Buzz that attacks a converted Moehog. Your Skeith is actually at the greatest danger as three Techos get three attacks per turn and are ultimately more offensively adept than a pairing of one Techo and one Buzz. This mission sets your army on a precarious ground; a conversion from among your fighting warriors is a real possibility even with two rounds of healing per turn. It is thus to your advantage to keep as much damage flowing to converted Moehogs as possible, biding time until luck allows one conversion to be done exceptionally fast and removes the threat to the convert. Expect the receiver of damage to be converted and re-converted several times. There is new weaponry; the new armor, Chainmail, is weaker than Plate Armor and should be ignored except by new converts. The Halberd presents a philosophical question. It provides an attack bonus of five, the same amount as the Berserker Battleaxe. It will allow your Skeith up to five moves per turn, but makes it so that after teleportation it will not get a strike- it’s your call. I personally find the Berserker Battleaxe to be superior; a large number of moves for a Skeith is really unnecessary as far as actual movement if you have an Amulet of Teleportation and though five moves can give it more chances to strike, you will only rarely get all five due to the necessity of healing and your inevitably divided forces. If you do want the Halberd, your Skeith will become your main offensive unit. It should be a Captain by the end of the sixth mission if you want this path. Decide during the sixth mission; if you chose the Halberd, dump the Amulet of Teleportation and take a Plate Armor instead. The amulet is rendered somewhat redundant by the Halberd and the Plate Armor’s defensive bonus is larger. The Halberd is also a possibility for your Scorchio. Being two spaces away is no longer a real advantage as fights become drawn out and being able to get damage spread out among more warriors is advantageous. The Halberd provides an extra point of attack bonus (Remember, the Bow is only from the second mission; its base power is only two and even with a Scorchio only four) and the movement bonus is helpful in that it allows the typically stronger-than-the-Techo Scorchio to take the Techo’s place in attacking the Buzzes later on, somewhat relieving the tedium of that phase of your battles. (What a mouthful that was.) For the Techo the Halberd is worthless, as it would require sacrificing a necessary point of attack bonus and forcing the Skeith, usually your strongest attacker in terms of brute attack strength, to resign itself to permanent immobility.
You probably have the avatar by now, but if not, don’t fret; you will VERY soon.
Missions Eight and Above
These missions are more or less the same as Mission Seven. The Buzzes in Mission Eight are replaced by Grarrls, which have a lower defense but are more numerous. Try to convert the Skeiths first, but keep in mind that it is as tactically necessary as before. In Missions Nine and Ten, Buzzes return; go about beating them the same way as before. There are new weapons in these missions, most of which are ignorable. A new Wand for your Grundo is a necessity; get it as soon as it appears.
Luck plays a large role in these missions, and your success is up to it ultimately. What’s not up to luck is how well your forces are positioned and how flexible you are. If a converted Techo is one or two health points left and the invader that remains has a similar amount of health, don’t hesitate to allow one of your main warriors to take the hit or even, if the avatar is your only goal, one village to be sacked to get the last convert. Unless you want to get on the high score table, the next missions are fairly irrelevant, as they are too hard and too long to justify staying in them for the meager Neopoints. The next missions feature equal numbers of regular and supercharged invaders- beware! Flexibility, accumulated strength, bravery (often to the point of insanity) and, of course, a great deal of luck will be necessary. Only a true Hero of Meridell – and true Master of the Art of War- could hope to survive.
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