Sacrifice: Pyro Mission 6
For this mission, Pyro gives us...
1100 Mana, 4 Souls
The Bombard is Pyro's artillery unit, and it's probably the overall best of the bunch. Artillery units all tend to die effortlessly to melee, relying on range, other units, and firepower to avoid being killed, so the HP penalty isn't too problematic. Meanwhile, they hit really hard and set targets on fire, the latter of which means they partially bypass ranged resistance. There's no special tricks to Bombards; they're just straightforwardly good. They cost 4 souls, admittedly, which is a bit pricey for an artillery unit, but they're well worth it.
As with other artillery units, they're badly weak to melee and mildly weak to splash ranged for whatever reason. I still don't get that latter one.
On a totally different note, though Zyzyx's description and the manual are in agreement that Bombards are lobbing bombs, explicitly technological device manufactured in Pyro's factories, this isn't reflected in any of the audiovisual end of things. They make farting noises as part of their attack process, and they're just sort of lobbing a bundle of fire that holds its shape until impact for no obvious reason. The inconsistency is really weird.
The Firewall is Pyro's idea of a wall spell. It doesn't actually prevent units from passing through, just like Wailing Wall, but instead it dissuades passage by doing damage to everything that passes through. A wizard can get away with running through between shield spells, innate spell resistance, and using Speed Up to minimize the duration spent inside, but 800 damage a second is a lot of damage. I personally tend to use Firewall less as a wall spell and more as a kind of nuke spell for hitting large groups of slow-moving units, particularly artillery mobs where they can either burn to death or hurry out of the flames and so stop shooting my forces for a good period.
It's probably my second-favorite wall spell, personally, but the fact that wizards can pull off running through seems likely to me to be a legitimate weakness in multiplayer given that one of the main uses of wall spells is blocking wizards off from reaching their own souls and human players aren't bounded by the AI's unwillingness to enter just because a wall spell is in the area. The fact that it's paired with Bombards and they're really good contributes to my fondness for Firewall, too.
The mission itself is... another 2v1 mission. And one where you have a woefully inadequate supply of starting souls; running off to trigger that first ambush like I did is important just to get your souls going.
On the plus side, even though this is the last time we'll get to see James in this run his forces don't get access to the Rhinok. On the minus side, it's still a 2v1, the map is large enough that ranging out to fight them seriously hurts your mana intake, and Grakkus is still obnoxiously durable.
It was actually in doing this mission that I finally noticed that the AI has an obsession with spamming the Heal spell on injured units the very instant you do damage to them. Explains a lot about why the AI tends to not use god-specific spells much during actual combat, and also explains why their forces tend to be such a pain to kill if you don't have overwhelming force.
Aside the two ambushes and the 2v1 nature of the mission, though, it's fairly straightforward. Tedious and obnoxious, but straightforward. The only major complication is Gamel is in AI hands and is just as overpowered in AI hands as he is in yours, which is to say if you want to kill him you'll need to lean heavy on units that do damage over time like Pyromaniacs... which is a bit of a problem early on, when you don't really have souls to spare.
Oh, and I lost Faestus, which is irritating, but I didn't really consider it worth restarting over. Faestus is one of the lower-quality heroes anyway, and keeping him alive throughout Pyro missions is a pain.
... oh, and notice that we're locked into Pyro again for the next mission. I wasn't kidding about Pyro's route being strongly incompatible with the other gods' routes.
Narratively, we killed James. Pyro gloated with wordplay. That's about it.
It's annoying we don't get a proper explanation for why Pyro is deciding to kill James. This is a bit of a recurring flaw with the campaign, that the first god death is inadequately justified. Once you get the ball rolling it's easy enough to see that probably everybody else is going to counter-kill the initiator now that they've broken a taboo and so in turn the initiator is pushed to keep killing gods to avoid being done in, but even though the plot calls your attention to the gods not historically trying to kill each other that first god kill just kinda happens without the plot providing an explanation for why now, let alone why this god first. This case is particularly troubling since Pyro has spent the whole campaign convinced Stratos and Persephone are in a conspiracy against him -slave-raiding James out of spite when negotiations broke down is one thing, but killing James first when Pyro doesn't seem to have a grudge with him is just puzzling, even before adding in that the manual indicates Pyro and James are historically allies, a fact the campaign actually supports even though it doesn't spell it out explicitly.
So... why did he kill James first, then?
See you next Pyro mission.