Sacrifice: Pyro Mission 4
For this mission, Pyro provides...
1000 Mana, 2 Souls
The Pyromaniac is Pyro's idea of a sniper, which is to say it's equivalent to the Deadeye and the Boulderdash. The Pyromaniac's projectiles actually partially home, which makes them a lot more likely to hit than most ranged attackers, though the turn rate is slow enough they can still miss. They're overall more similar to Deadeyes than to Boulderdashes, in that a good chunk of their damage comes from setting their target on fire, which as we've seen in the James campaign can allow them to quite effectively kill targets that are supposed to be resistant to ranged attackers. In conjunction with the partial homing on their projectiles, Pyromaniacs are one of the best units for ensuring a given target just plain dies, such as a wizard. The burning bypasses shield damage reduction, after all, and the partial homing means even a human player trying to maneuver to fake out projectiles is unusually likely to be hit.
They're not nearly as long-ranged as Deadeyes and Boulderdashes, though. Hordes of Pyromaniacs are not able to hit critical mass and kill unreasonable numbers of units before they're in range to attack the way hordes of Deadeyes and Boulderdashes can. They're a fantastic unit, but even though they're clearly of the 'sniper' family you don't really use them the way you use other snipers.
Incidentally, the Pyro version of Faestus is a Pyromaniac. Except when he's randomly turning into the Persephone version with the Pyro version's skin, of course.
This is the spell Ambassador Buta gets early/gets a second copy of.
Dragonfire is very impressive-looking and is actually a decent enough spell, but it's not quite as amazing as you might intuitively expect. You pick an initial target, which Dragonfire will then relentlessly chase until impact, at which point Dragonfire creates a burst of damage hitting the target and a small area around. This can potentially kill a surprisingly large number of level 1 fliers, for example. After that initial target, though, Dragonfire proceeds to pick a new target and repeat the procedure with no input from the player, hitting a total of five targets in this manner. The projectile does not do damage to units it passes through on the way to its target -hence why I said it's less amazing than you might expect. It really looks like something you'd hurl at a unit behind the enemy lines and incinerate everything on the way too, and if you're only half-paying attention the partial splash may well contribute to this impression. That's really not what it does, though.
That said, it does hit quite hard per target, particularly given its mana cost. Its main flaw is the part where you stop moving when casting it, leaving you more vulnerable than some attacking options. On the other hand, its casting range is fairly long and its behavior means it'll be quite effective even if tossed out at a long range, so it's a very solid choice for opening a battle with.
It's worth pointing out that if the enemy has a lot of Manahoars (Which are heavily resistant to spell damage) or especially Troggs, odds are fairly good that the other four hits will be wasted. So... probably consider some other option in those situations.
Ultimately, the main flaw with Dragonfire is that there's two other amazing spells at this level to choose between. Animate Dead is one of them, and it's seriously one of the best spells in the entire game. The other we won't be seeing for a while, but it's also quite generally awesome.
The mission is a bit odd but straightforward enough. You have Faestus on hand, but as the video illustrates trying to get him anywhere other than your Altar requires constant move orders, and the second he's unattended he'll run back to the Altar. He's really more a minor burden, in that Charlotte can potentially fail the mission for you by killing him in addition to Desecrating your Altar. Since, as I've covered before, Faestus has no resistance to melee attacks, she just needs to throw a few Troggs at him and he'll go down basically instantly. It's always important to be ready to jump back to your Altar to protect it, but it's especially important in this mission.
Victory is actually achieved solely by bringing back enough Farmers. This is, itself, achieved by simple expedient of walking close enough to a given cluster of Farmers. Eldred delivers his threat, the Farmers start moving, and when they reach Faestus' location you're credited them. Killing Charlotte is optional, and it's not even how you get the Boon -you do that by finding Sorcha.
The one wrinkle to the mission is that Charlotte is benefiting from James providing early artillery, which can be a pain to deal with, particularly if you've gotten used to artillery not showing up this early from other runs.
As an aside, this is the first time we've seen Zyzyx's introduction for Charlotte, and it's one of the funnier wizard introductions just for Zyzyx either being totally oblivious to the hypocrisy of what he's saying or deliberately poking fun at himself, depending on how you want to interpret it.
This mission is also weird, in that it's the only Marduk-introduction mission where Marduk doesn't jump you near the beginning of the mission. I'm not sure why.
Narratively, this mission is the second time Pyro's campaign does a reasonably competent job of selling that Pyro is actually a pretty terrible person, and unlike the previous mission there's no caveat of 'competent except for all the ways it's actually super-dumb'. We're confronted bluntly with the fact that Pyro's use of slaves in turn involves slave raids -it's not that Pyro's civilians are called slaves while being regular civilians, he really is genuinely a slaver- and the game doesn't try to pretty up or gloss over the process. Eldred simply threatens people with death if they don't comply.
Takes a bit of the sting out of me pointing out the 'flee or die' model was weirdly nice back in the Daven Forest mission.
Furthermore, Pyro is being petty about the slave raids. James didn't take the offer of an alliance, so let's go raiding for slaves in his territory. It's spite, plain and simple, and believable spite.
Then of course if you seek out Sorcha the game confronts you with the more psychological aspect, that being part and parcel of such a process is pretty hard on a person if they like to imagine themselves to be moral. If you didn't give a second thought to enslaving digital peasants on your own, it's certainly going to be on your mind once you see Sorcha feeling guilty about it.
The game does slightly step on its intentions here by letting us see Pyro's rationale for the whole thing. On the one hand, we're seeing he seems to genuinely believe in making a better tomorrow, which undermines the attempt to sell the player on how evil he is. On the other hand, the part of his rationale where he refuses to be the weaker partner than Charnel because Charnel is so awful is just weird logic and draws attention to the sheer artificiality of how negotiations failed in the prior mission -this sequence would work a lot better if Pyro had allied with James, was raiding Persephone, and was an enemy to Charnel so Pyro's rationalization could be focused on how Charnel winning is self-evidently terrible and Persephone winning is terrible because she's a fire and brimstone zealot. It would be more sensible logic, and yet it wouldn't make Pyro's position sympathetic. It would just mean that Pyro makes sense as a person, more than he does as-is.
But overall this mission does a pretty good job of selling the 'Pyro is pretty evil' thing with minimal problems.
See you next Pyro mission.