Sacrifice – Hints and Tips
Here’s a quick overview and hints to read over before playing Sacrifice. There are three tutorials in the game that explain how everything works – all of them are excellent, but the first thing you should concern yourself on is rebinding the keyboard.
You cannot and will not be able to play Sacrifice unless you assign hotkeys to spells, creatures and building spells. Do this in an intuitive way – for example the F1 to F10 keys can serve as creature spells, Q for Manaliths, E for Manahoars and other nearby keys for various spells. It’s essential to remember some of the most frequently used spells – Heal, Speed, Teleport etc. You don’t need to hotkey everything – Desecrate and Shrine, for example, are rarely used, and so can be cast using the onscreen interface.
During a battle you have three separate responsibilities. First, you must take care of your resources—souls and Mana—by picking up your own souls, converting enemy souls, and ensuring that there are Manahoars present so that you and your creatures have the Mana you need to be effective. Second, you need to manage your creatures—give them orders, heal them, cast support spells on them, and summon new creatures. Finally, you need to take part in the battle directly, casting the wide range of attack spells in your arsenal to give your creatures the help they invariably need to banish enemy wizards and kill their minions. If you focus too much on one of these priorities, or if you neglect one of them entirely, you will fail at this game.
- Consider friendly damage when using melee and ranged units together, and also when casting spells! If you hit a friendly unit by mistake, it will take damage.
- Cast the guardian spell on your most powerful ranged units, especially in places where you can expect a counter-attack (such as on your altar).
- Units that are linked to a Manalith are not lost to you forever. If you feel you don’t need them, have the rest of your army kill the linked unit (hold right click / attack) and collect its soul(s). You can do this to other units you no longer need.
- Enemy Manaliths with linked units are tough to take down, but you’re rewarded with extra souls as long as an enemy wizard doesn’t show up (they rarely do).
- It might not be always feasable to attack enemy Manaliths with high-level linked creatures.
- Remember that you can cast the Teleport spell on friendly Manaliths, Shrines and your Altar. You can use the Minimap for this or just click on a structure onscreen. Monitor your minimap for attacks and quickly teleport yourself and your army to defend vital buildings.
- It’s usually best to kill the enemy wizard first then wipe out his/her attacking army, collecting heathen souls at your leisure afterwards. But this is only possible if you have lots of troops, preferrably fast ones. Wizards are damn tough to bring down!
- Always be on the lookout for free souls! If you encounter a village, kill the villagers and steal their souls. Their sacrifice is invaluable to your war effort!
- On most missions it is wise to be on the defensive and wait for the enemy to attack you first.
- Use Speed and Heal as often as possible.
Your Goals in Sacrifice
The point of the game is to desecrate enemy altars, but to do this you first have to defeat the enemy. Preventing a desecration is a relatively easy task—one well-placed missile attack spell on one of the desecrating Sacdoctors will do it—so you’ll usually have to win the war for souls before you can successfully pull off the desecration. The competition for souls in Sacrifice really is a zero-sum game, and although you might be able to pick up a few extra souls by killing villagers early in a scenario, in the long run the only way to get them is to take them from your enemy.
In addition to souls, the other resource is Mana, and while the supply of Mana is not limited, the number of Manafonts on any given map is. The important thing to remember about Manafonts is that you need to control at least two of them. If you have two Manaliths, your Mana will recharge at a rate sufficient to allow you to continue to summon high-level creatures and cast powerful spells. If you’re too far away from a Manalith, and have few Manahoars around you, you’re pretty much useless as a spellcaster. It’s a good idea to have at least three or four Manahoars follow you – any more is just a waste of souls.
While controlling all or at least most of the Manafonts on the map is your long-term goal (the more you control the faster your Mana recharges and the slower your opponents will recharge), and you’ll be ensured victory when you accomplish it, after you have your two it is more worthwhile to focus on collecting enemy souls. Furthermore, if enemy wizards have protected out-of-the-way Manaliths with lots of guardians, taking them may be much more trouble than they are worth. The souls of the guardians are as much lost to their own wizard as they are to you.
Diversify Your Army
Sacrifice contains the same element of rock-paper-scissors as most other real-time strategy games, and you’ll want to be sure to include some of all creature types in your offensive forces, at least when you start out. Late in a game or scenario it is possible to dominate relying solely on powerful missile units, such as Mutants and Abominations, or powerful aerial units, such as Dragons and Hellmouths. Powerful melee units make good siege engines attacking linked Manaliths, while weaker ones can sometimes be used as cannon fodder.
Developing a proper sense of how many creatures to make into guardians is one of the keys to Sacrifice success. On the one hand, a well-guarded Manalith can be nearly impregnable; on the other, if you assign several guardians to every one of your Manaliths, you won’t have any souls left with which to mount attacks. The only Manalith that you should definitely leave guarded is the one next to your Altar.
Destroying a well-guarded enemy Manalith is one of the game’s major challenges. You can do it using top-level spells, such as Charm, Death, or Volcano, or you can just send in overwhelming numbers and hope they can overcome the extreme regenerative ability possessed by all guardians. Once you have powerful missile or artillery attack creatures, you can position a large force of them outside the range of the guardians and target the Manalith itself. Any damage done to the Manalith is evenly distributed among the guardians, and if your long-ranged forces aren’t able to finish off the guardians, maybe one of your area-effect attack spells will help get them over the hump.
Going in Solo
At first blush, single player Sacrifice is a very difficult game. If you insist on pursuing your mission objectives aggressively then it is indeed exceedingly difficult. If, on the other hand, you play cautiously and let enemy wizards come to you, then you’ll be able to chip away bit by bit as you take more of his souls.
At the beginning of each mission you’ll have a brief amount of time in which to establish a Manalith near your altar and perhaps even to explore a bit. An enemy wizard will eventually attack your base, however. Once you drive the wizard off, he (or she) will return to his (or her) nearest Manalith to rejuvenate and summon more creatures. So long as he has souls to work with—even if just enough to summon a Manahoar and one or two other creatures—he’ll keep returning. Your task is to ensure that each time you drive him away, he is forced to leave a few souls behind for you to convert. In this way, you’ll slowly deplete his soul count and add to your own, and after a few assaults, you should have all of his souls. At this point he will retire and wait.
To prepare for the initial assault, take several of your heartiest creatures with a ranged attack that you can summon to the Manalith next to your altar and link them. Leave these units to look after themselves, and create a balanced force with any remaining souls to counterattack the enemy wizard himself. Position this force out of the line of attack so that the enemy forces focus on your much tougher guardians. Then send them against the enemy wizard and force him to flee. A good tactic to set the enemy wizard up for your creatures’ attacks is a spell that slows him down, such as Slime, Rings of Fire, Freeze, or Grasping Vines.
If you are waiting for the enemy attack, once you’ve acquired attack spells that affect multiple creatures, scout ahead alone and try to weaken his force before it gets to your base. If you do enough damage, the enemy will withdraw, but hopefully he will attack anyway so you can pick up a few souls.
Now you can carry the battle to the enemy, complete any special mission objectives, and destroy his guarded Manaliths. If the enemy wizard is nearby when you kill his guardians, he’ll use the opportunity to collect the souls for another attack against your base. The only guarded Manaliths you’ll absolutely have to destroy are the one or two near his Altar, because the guardians with a ranged attack will usually interfere with your desecrating Sacdoctors.
Remember that the more souls required to create a creature, the more damage it will do to the enemy wizard when you use it in the desecration ritual. Using a one-soul creature will do little damage to the enemy wizard—the wizard will have no problem healing himself again and again—and you’ll have to make an active effort to seek him out and kill him.
Just look for the beam of light coming from the heavens to pinpoint the enemy wizard after the desecration ritual has begun. A five-soul creature will do considerable damage—more than the enemy wizard can heal, and he’ll probably die pretty quickly unless he can stop the ritual, which your nearby army will of course prevent him from doing. The optimal situation is for your creatures to kill the enemy wizard just as you are beginning the desecration ritual. The ritual will begin, the wizard will still be in spirit form, and you will have banished him.
Beating Marduk will basically require the same defensive strategy you’ve been using against other wizards. You’ll have to be a lot quicker in collecting your fallen souls, however, because you’ll discover that Marduk can scoop up your souls as easily as his own. Make Guardians from several top level creatures—all of your souls early on—and send them to each of the two Manaliths near your altar. Hotkey them together so that you can have them focus their attacks on Marduk to kill him and give you a chance to convert the souls of his fallen creatures. Marduk likes to cast Death, which can be devastating because he then quickly runs through and captures all your souls at once.
Once you’ve taken all of Marduk’s souls he’ll hide at one of his Manaliths and you can work on destroying his massive artifact. Don’t bother attacking it directly—you will have to destroy Marduk’s seven Manaliths surrounding the artifact first. One or two high-level creatures guard each of these Manaliths. Leave your minions guarding your altar and use your top spells to destroy these guardians. Convert or eliminate them entirely with Charm, Intestinal Vaporization, Bovine Intervention, or Bore; you can also kill them with Death or Volcano. If Marduk manages to get any these souls, hurry back to defend your base. He will attack there whenever he has souls to mount an attack.
Once you’ve destroyed all of the Manaliths at the base of the hill and replaced them with your own, prepare a well-rounded force with all of the souls you’ve collected at the Manaliths and destroy Marduk and the Manalith halfway up the hill. Then destroy the artifact—his Megalith. Be prepared to call all of your force back to you and teleport back to your altar to make the final stand against Marduk.