Stuck on NR: Infested Caves

Share and discuss strategies for playing the game, and get help and tips from other players.

Moderators: Forum Moderators, Developers

User avatar
Maiklas3000
Posts: 532
Joined: June 23rd, 2010, 10:43 am

Stuck on NR: Infested Caves

Post by Maiklas3000 » January 24th, 2011, 10:38 am

Has anyone beaten Northern Rebirth: Infested Caves on Nightmare under 1.9.4 (or 1.8?)

I have some strategic questions...

Should my strategy be to go for income or a large initial army?
What do you suggest for the ratio of Footpads/Thugs/Poachers?
Are Woodmen worth recruiting?
Where should the loyal Spearman and leader Spearman go to be safe but helpful?
Should the Red Mage be used for the north trolls?
What is the big picture for how to win?

I read an earlier thread "Stuck on Infested Caves", but it's from 2007 and Wesnoth versions 1.2 to 1.4. The author of the scenario said, "Nightmare was designed (for my skill level anyway) to be almost a no-win situation so going back [to a lower difficulty] is nothing to be ashamed of." Like another person in that thread, I've beaten pretty much all the other Mainline campaigns on the hardest difficulty and don't want to concede defeat.

One of the strategies suggested was to slip Footpads past the troll leader in the east to grab villages, but that didn't work for me...
wesnoth - NR - slip past troll leader cartoon.jpg
wesnoth - NR - slip past troll leader cartoon.jpg (55.43 KiB) Viewed 8396 times
That's an actual screenshot. (I later read farther in the thread where the guy recanted, saying he can't reproduce his success and gets nailed by the trolls.)

Other strategies suggested were:
  • Kill the north and south trolls for their villages; don't open the passages.
  • Stalemate the north and south trolls and attack the east trolls.
  • Stalemate the eastern and southern entrances, kill the north trolls and use the passage to kill the north (white) skeleton leader.
  • Or the same, but don't stalemate the eastern and southern entrances; send everyone north.
I've killed the north leader a few times and the south leader once, but never both. It's easy to stalemate the north and south trolls, but attacking the east trolls is suicidal due to the skeletons. It's relatively easy to stalemate the eastern entrance and kill the north trolls, but after going through the passage it's difficult and hazardous to kill the north skeleton leader. And then I have not tried the last suggestion, to send everyone north, but it sounds interesting.

I also read the walkthrough, and it says, "if you don't have at least 800 gold to begin with, revert and replay the previous level". :shock: I have 559 starting gold. I'm not sure it's possible to get 800 gold on Nightmare from the first scenario.

HomerJ
Posts: 812
Joined: April 25th, 2008, 1:22 pm
Location: Hannover, Germany

Re: Stuck on NR: Infested Caves

Post by HomerJ » January 24th, 2011, 2:14 pm

Oooookayyyyy, so this is one of my favorite scenarios in all wesnoth. On Nightmare however (though I should mention I have not played it in the 1.9 branch), my experience is that it is somewhat dependent on luck.

Here's how I usually go in this scenario.
First keep: only footpads.
Send two in the eastern main chamber to clear up the shroud. Other footpads go north and south blocking the two hex passages and throwing rocks at the trolls. Get the red mage. Claim villages and kill bat (obviously).
Second-? keep: recruit your a** of with mostly thugs and footpads, occasionally poachers. While doing this, the main chamber footpads suicide to get the trolls engaged with the skellies, but they may not cloak the entrances.

When out of gold, take your army to the main chamber while leaving some footpads behind to die slowly but slowing down the trolls. The red mage and 3 footpads can remain in the little clearing around the mages village, only one hex must be defended and its illuminated, so no lvl1 troll can kill a footy in one hit. This party stays there until the main bulk of trolls moved down to the main chamber. Then you can approach the northern troll leader if you want.

Main army uses good defensive spots and protects leveled, about-to-level and leader units. If everything works out, the lvl2 trolls from east battle the skellies while you sneak through to the troll leader and kill him, then get the villages and block to the south in the tunnel villages (use quick footys to clear shroud) and the west inside the castle walls. Regroup, heal, maybe you can accumulate some additional gold.
The goal at this point is to have the lvl3 troll leader dead, while the north and south lvl1 trolls stalemate the skellies in the main chamber. Now you need to strike on the remaining undead in the south tunnel. If you killed him, take the dwarve villages and maybe break out into the main chamber again securing some more villages for income. Wait until the last turn, then end the scenario by moving Tallin to Hamels keep.


Problems may occur when:
Lvl3 troll leader moves to main chamber castle and recruits from there -> can result in the trolls becoming to powerful to get around them.
Lvl2 trolls block the undead entrances to the main chamber -> trolls become to powerful and crush you.
Undead death knight blocks dwarves, kills the trolls that are send down to him and has to many units to get to the leader -> undead too powerful, crush or stalemate you in the eastern keep.


Maybe this helps you out, the gold btw seems enough to me.

You can also check the campaign challenges thread in this subforum, I have replays there, but they are mostly 1.6.

Greetz
HomerJ
Six years without a signature!

Joram
Posts: 366
Joined: September 2nd, 2008, 5:36 am

Re: Stuck on NR: Infested Caves

Post by Joram » January 24th, 2011, 5:24 pm

*DISCLAIMER* I've never actually beaten this scenario on Nightmare and never tried it on anything less. Furthermore, I was playing on 1.8. However, one strategy that I had some mild success with, and which might have been successful given more gold was as follows:

1- Recruit a single castle load of units, mostly footpads with a few thugs
2- Send 2 or 3 footpads up the north tunnel, their goal being speed and speed only. Get in with the mage and stay there
3- The rest of the troops go East and take the castle/keep in the middle of the room
4- The green and blue trolls will come out behind you and engage the skeletons. I've found that they will almost always prefer to attack each other; the skeletons are weak to the trolls, and the trolls are easy for the skeletons to hit
5- Kill the Eastern troll leader and take his keep and villages as soon as possible
6- Start wearing your way down the passage while defending against the now superior skeletons (the trolls rarely can defeat the swarms that are put out)

In every case, I've either run out of units before the eastern trolls are weak enough for me to strike out across the caves or run out of turns.

However, my leader was still lvl 0, I didn't have any strong recalls, and I only had about 500ish gold to use. So this strategy might work if you have better forces.
The Fires of Pride 0.3, a heavily story based campaign.
On hold while I try and finish my book

Max
Posts: 1449
Joined: April 13th, 2008, 12:41 am

Re: Stuck on NR: Infested Caves

Post by Max » January 24th, 2011, 5:36 pm

can you post a save game?

HomerJ
Posts: 812
Joined: April 25th, 2008, 1:22 pm
Location: Hannover, Germany

Re: Stuck on NR: Infested Caves

Post by HomerJ » January 24th, 2011, 5:55 pm

Joram wrote: 1- Recruit a single castle load of units, mostly footpads with a few thugs
2- Send 2 or 3 footpads up the north tunnel, their goal being speed and speed only. Get in with the mage and stay there
3- The rest of the troops go East and take the castle/keep in the middle of the room
4- The green and blue trolls will come out behind you and engage the skeletons. I've found that they will almost always prefer to attack each other; the skeletons are weak to the trolls, and the trolls are easy for the skeletons to hit
5- Kill the Eastern troll leader and take his keep and villages as soon as possible
6- Start wearing your way down the passage while defending against the now superior skeletons (the trolls rarely can defeat the swarms that are put out)
I remember trying this once and ending in disaster. The problem might be that if you storm into the main chamber before lvl2 trolls are engaged in battle with the skellies, they might go after you.
Additionally, if the south and north lvl1 trolls come into play too fast, the undead are screwed and wind up poking trolls from their one-hex-cavern-entrance and when there are too few undead, every troll goes after you.


Greetz
HomerJ
Six years without a signature!

ozean
Posts: 90
Joined: September 27th, 2005, 5:19 pm
Location: Norway
Contact:

Re: Stuck on NR: Infested Caves

Post by ozean » January 24th, 2011, 7:38 pm

Love the screenshot! :)

If you are playing under 1.9.4 you might be hit by what I describe in the campaign feedback thread, where I have also posted a replay. (The replay has been recorded with 1.9.2, I think, but I guess it will play with 1.9.4 too).

http://forums.wesnoth.org/viewtopic.php ... 87#p468387

I think the main problem is that the Footpad, arguably the most important unit in this scenario, has been substantially weakened in 1.9.x (attacks do 20% less damage).

I have also tried to win this scenario at least five times (and I have beaten it in earlier versions), but even after really optimizing the heck out of this scenario I have not been able to reach the destination and I don't see how I could without a huge amount of save loading or incredible luck…

But maybe I am wrong and somehow my skills are worse than I thought? Not impossible…

All of the storming through the middle to gain better ground tactics have failed for me – and to be frank, I can only see them succeed with a confused AI (no idea if this has changed too in 1.9.x…)

HomerJ
Posts: 812
Joined: April 25th, 2008, 1:22 pm
Location: Hannover, Germany

Re: Stuck on NR: Infested Caves

Post by HomerJ » January 24th, 2011, 10:08 pm

I have replay here from 1.8 (from tonight actually) to illustrate my migration strategy. Unfortunately the map was unwinnable after finding out that undead from the death knight were already pressing on the eastern troll leader.

Maybe it's helpful anyway.


Greetz
HomerJ
Attachments
WdN-Verseuchte_Höhlen_Wiederholung_anzeigen.gz
(91.45 KiB) Downloaded 395 times
Six years without a signature!

ozean
Posts: 90
Joined: September 27th, 2005, 5:19 pm
Location: Norway
Contact:

Re: Stuck on NR: Infested Caves

Post by ozean » January 24th, 2011, 10:51 pm

HomerJ wrote:If everything works out, the lvl2 trolls from east battle the skellies while you sneak through to the troll leader and kill him, then get the villages and block to the south in the tunnel villages (use quick footys to clear shroud) and the west inside the castle walls. Regroup, heal, maybe you can accumulate some additional gold.
The goal at this point is to have the lvl3 troll leader dead, while the north and south lvl1 trolls stalemate the skellies in the main chamber. Now you need to strike on the remaining undead in the south tunnel. If you killed him, take the dwarve villages and maybe break out into the main chamber again securing some more villages for income. Wait until the last turn, then end the scenario by moving Tallin to Hamels keep.
My impression with the games played in 1.9.x is that the skeletons are always winning out against the trolls, who don't really manage to hold them back very long.
HomerJ wrote:Problems may occur when:
Undead death knight blocks dwarves, kills the trolls that are send down to him and has to many units to get to the leader -> undead too powerful, crush or stalemate you in the eastern keep.
This also seems to happen often of the time – though I am not sure in how far the 1.8 -> 1.9 changes affected the Troll-Skeleton balance or if this is an AI problem or whatever…
But thanks for your replay, I might actually try this once more. :)

HomerJ
Posts: 812
Joined: April 25th, 2008, 1:22 pm
Location: Hannover, Germany

Re: Stuck on NR: Infested Caves

Post by HomerJ » January 25th, 2011, 5:39 pm

ozean wrote: My impression with the games played in 1.9.x is that the skeletons are always winning out against the trolls, who don't really manage to hold them back very long.
Try to block the northern skellies entrance, there's a village and a castle hex available for 70% defense. Have the trolls engage the southern skellies and release the north not before the east trolls appear.

ozean wrote:
HomerJ wrote:Problems may occur when:
Undead death knight blocks dwarves, kills the trolls that are send down to him and has to many units to get to the leader -> undead too powerful, crush or stalemate you in the eastern keep.
This also seems to happen often of the time – though I am not sure in how far the 1.8 -> 1.9 changes affected the Troll-Skeleton balance or if this is an AI problem or whatever…
This problem has always been there, I don't think it's AI dependent.
Good luck, drop me a note if you manage to win and how.

Edit:
I just looked into my saves from tonight de-shrouded to find that Hamels dwarves were busy taking villages in the crops room while the skellies moved up to the one-hex-wide tunnel near the junction. No wonder the undead were so effective in the south.


Edit2:
Ok, so my next try today didn't succeed either, but it shows the strategy quite well so I will upload another replay (1.8).
Note that nearly everything worked out as planned until clearing the southern tunnel from the undead death knight. I came in 3 turns short at the end.

Edit3:
I started with 449 gold, of course it will be easier with more, but I rushed through the first scenario carelessly.

Greetz
HomerJ
Attachments
WdN-Verseuchte_Höhlen_Wiederholung_anzeigen.gz
(161.09 KiB) Downloaded 376 times
Six years without a signature!

User avatar
Maiklas3000
Posts: 532
Joined: June 23rd, 2010, 10:43 am

Re: Stuck on NR: Infested Caves

Post by Maiklas3000 » January 25th, 2011, 7:14 pm

After watching your two replays, I can see that your approach will probably work, with a little luck. Your problem in the second replay was that you had only level 1 units when you got to the two-hex-wide tunnel on the way to the death knight that is blocking the dwarves. So, you couldn't make any progress until you leveled up. I have an idea. You never did anything of consequence with the Red Mage. Four Footpads could survive in that outdoor area just as well as three Footpads and a Red Mage, right? Or really there's no need to defend that area, just have the Footpads make a run for it when the time is right. Anyway, the point is, the Red Mage can be removed and sent with the main army to the east, and a Red Mage would blast right through that line of skellies. Other positive side effects would be more Troll Whelps to harass the skeletons and some quick XP for your troops (cleaning up after the Red Mage fails to kill.)

In the area in the northwest, I noticed in both replays that you put the Red Mage on the mushroom patch for 50% defense with two attacking hexes and a Footpad on the cave hex for 50% defense with one attacking hex. I much prefer to put a Footpad on the mushroom hex for 70% defense (and two attacking hexes) and the Red Mage on the cave hex for 40% (and one attacking hex.) Are you doing that to prevent the loss of a Footpad, which could ultimately cause you to lose the Red Mage if he stays holed up with the remaining two Footpads?

In the second replay, I was surprised when four level 2 trolls transfered from the north (white) skeleton area to the south (orange) skeleton battleground. That seemed to be a big help, basically protecting your flank from the orange horde, although they did give up the blockade of the white skeletons in the process. Did you bait them to do that by intentionally sacrificing a unit?

You mentioned an illuminated hex at the northwest near the Red Mage's home. I saw it on your replay, but there is no illumination there in 1.9.4.

One thing I tried was helping the Trolls set up a blockade of the north (white) and south (orange) skeletons, despite the risk that the Trolls might then pose to my troops. I was surprised that even with the double blockade, the southeast Death Knight's troops still managed to eliminate all the trolls in the tunnel by turn 14 and to kill the troll leader by turn 17. So, any winning strategy would have to include your eastward migration idea, IMO. Thanks.

HomerJ
Posts: 812
Joined: April 25th, 2008, 1:22 pm
Location: Hannover, Germany

Re: Stuck on NR: Infested Caves

Post by HomerJ » January 25th, 2011, 8:05 pm

Maiklas3000 wrote:After watching your two replays, I can see that your approach will probably work, with a little luck. Your problem in the second replay was that you had only level 1 units when you got to the two-hex-wide tunnel on the way to the death knight that is blocking the dwarves.
True. I did a poor job of leveling before.
Maiklas3000 wrote: Four Footpads could survive in that outdoor area just as well as three Footpads and a Red Mage, right? Or really there's no need to defend that area, just have the Footpads make a run for it when the time is right. Anyway, the point is, the Red Mage can be removed and sent with the main army to the east, and a Red Mage would blast right through that line of skellies.
Good point. Usually I didn't have such a hard time. The intended purpose of the mage-party is to take out the northern troll leader and claim his villages.
Maiklas3000 wrote: In the area in the northwest, I noticed in both replays that you put the Red Mage on the mushroom patch for 50% defense with two attacking hexes and a Footpad on the cave hex for 50% defense with one attacking hex. I much prefer to put a Footpad on the mushroom hex for 70% defense (and two attacking hexes) and the Red Mage on the cave hex for 40% (and one attacking hex.) Are you doing that to prevent the loss of a Footpad, which could ultimately cause you to lose the Red Mage if he stays holed up with the remaining two Footpads?
Yes, if the red mage is at full health, I do it like this because I can always savely retreat to the village.
Maiklas3000 wrote: In the second replay, I was surprised when four level 2 trolls transfered from the north (white) skeleton area to the south (orange) skeleton battleground. That seemed to be a big help, basically protecting your flank from the orange horde, although they did give up the blockade of the white skeletons in the process. Did you bait them to do that by intentionally sacrificing a unit?


No that was unintentional.

Good luck.

Greetz
HomerJ
Six years without a signature!

ozean
Posts: 90
Joined: September 27th, 2005, 5:19 pm
Location: Norway
Contact:

Re: Stuck on NR: Infested Caves

Post by ozean » January 25th, 2011, 8:08 pm

I’ll try to replay the level with these things in mind – but don’t you agree that for such a level a slight readjustment might be needed after making the attacks of the main units that is needed to win here 20% less powerful?

HomerJ
Posts: 812
Joined: April 25th, 2008, 1:22 pm
Location: Hannover, Germany

Re: Stuck on NR: Infested Caves

Post by HomerJ » January 26th, 2011, 7:54 pm

ozean wrote:I’ll try to replay the level with these things in mind – but don’t you agree that for such a level a slight readjustment might be needed after making the attacks of the main units that is needed to win here 20% less powerful?
As I said, I haven't played on 1.9. But also consider that the footpads main use is blocking and ZoCing, the ranged damage is just a bonus.


Edit: After several attempts, I have to revise my strategic advice. What I said above worked really good a number of times for me on 1.6, but I couldn't reproduce it with as little gold as 449 on 1.8.
It seems to be absolutely vital that you (in what way ever) deny the skellies access to the main chamber. You are far better of dealing with the trolls. It also seems to be vital to get to the eastern troll keep around turn 10-11-12, before the undead swarm out of the two-hex-tunnel.

I attach a replay where I also employed the red mage as part of my main force. The scenario was basically won at turn 14, the remaining dead knight was yet to be worn down but not a real problem after leveling two thugs. Tallin was in striking distance to Hamels keep by turn 33. After that I tried to take the north east chamber with villages from the white undead, but in vain, so I retreated again.


Greetz
HomerJ
Attachments
NR_Infested_Caves_Nightmare_1.8_replay.gz
(151.52 KiB) Downloaded 541 times
Six years without a signature!

User avatar
Maiklas3000
Posts: 532
Joined: June 23rd, 2010, 10:43 am

Re: Stuck on NR: Infested Caves

Post by Maiklas3000 » January 26th, 2011, 9:04 pm

Woot, victory on Nightmare, 1.9.4. Yeesh, that was rough. I basically followed HomerJ's advice, before he revised it. I found that when I totally locked the skeletons out, the trolls would get too strong. On one losing play, the trolls even took out the northern (white) Death Knight(!) On my winning play, I left the south (orange) skeletons a little breathing room. This was initially intended to lure extra trolls that way, with a later goal of keeping parity. When the Troll Whelps came, there was quite a battle. After the dust settled, the trolls locked back up all the skeletons, but not before taking massive losses, and the northern (white) skeletons kept putting up a fight, breaking out repeatedly right up to the end. The trolls only briefly mounted a serious attack on my eastern keep, and once sent a level 3 (leveled) troll at me. Despite really hustling, I only could have finished 3 or 4 turns early if I had chosen to end it early. It was slow going in the final tunnel, despite the help of the Arch Mage, who almost died when my line crumbled. No save reloads here or in the first scenario. I finished with 173 gold and a few level 3's.

A critical timing issue is when to make a break for it into the main chamber with your main army. This is after my turn 8, where I've just started to push into the main chamber with my main army:
wesnoth - NR - Infested Caves - turn 8, making a break for it.jpg
As you can see on the overview at top right on the screenshot, there are still some units (Footpads) back west holding back the Troll Whelps.

As HomerJ pointed out, another critical thing is getting to the east (brown) troll keep area before the undead get out of their tunnel there. Below is the start of my turn 13, so I had just moved to the troll's keep on turn 12, and the undead had appeared in the southeast tunnel on their turn. On my turn, I moved a Footpad to block the tunnel as a stopgap until more forces could arrive later.
wesnoth - NR - Infested Caves - start of turn 13 - arriving at east keep in time to stop undead.jpg
And another critical time is when to "release the hounds", i.e., when to remove the stalemate lines that are blocking the Troll Whelps. I released them on turn 12, which is probably a little late, but I had a lot of wounded that needed the villages. On the map overview in the upper right corner of the above screenshot, you can see a blob of red in the keep area in the west. This is the rear guard of Footpads, who are now running for their lives. In contrast to HomerJ's style in his replays, I tried not to sacrifice any of this rear guard, but some were intercepted in the main chamber and cut down.

This was probably the hardest mainline campaign scenario I've played. Thanks HomerJ, I don't think I would have come up with this counterintuitive strategy on my own.
Attachments
NR-Infested_Caves_replay.gz
(155.34 KiB) Downloaded 579 times

HomerJ
Posts: 812
Joined: April 25th, 2008, 1:22 pm
Location: Hannover, Germany

Re: Stuck on NR: Infested Caves

Post by HomerJ » January 29th, 2011, 10:47 pm

Maiklas3000 wrote:Woot, victory on Nightmare, 1.9.4. Yeesh, that was rough.
Congratulations!
Maiklas3000 wrote: I found that when I totally locked the skeletons out, the trolls would get too strong.
That's how I remembered it, funny enough that it worked out so great for me today...
Maiklas3000 wrote: On my winning play...
Sounds epic. Too bad I don't have 1.9 to watch the replay.
Maiklas3000 wrote:
In contrast to HomerJ's style in his replays, I tried not to sacrifice any of this rear guard, but some were intercepted in the main chamber and cut down.


I actually tried to get them all out on my victorious play today. Anyways, there are so many casualties that it doesn't matter.
Maiklas3000 wrote: This was probably the hardest mainline campaign scenario I've played. Thanks HomerJ, I don't think I would have come up with this counterintuitive strategy on my own.
My pleasure! Has always been my favorite scenario and still is.
I want to hear from you again when you beat Settling Disputes. :wink:


Edit:
On a somewhat related note: I just managed to beat all the leaders in this scenario, but had to debug starting gold to 1000. So, it's doable with the right amount of cash. Pretty close call in the end, had to use the backdoor of the southern troll leader in the last turn to defeat him.
I could attach a replay, but it will show as corrupted because of the debugging. If somebody is interested I can provide some saves from in between the battle.


Greetz
HomerJ
Six years without a signature!

Post Reply