Unlocking Challenge cards
The extra deck cards do also appear in some events, so this unlocking guide relates to completing campaigns in challenge mode.
Two points to bear in mind here. Firstly, completing the challenge is not simply a campaign unlock, it’s a game unlock. Think of it like hidden DLC. Once you complete a given challenge the cards are available for all future campaigns, including endless mode. Secondly, though of less importance, there is no ‘achievement’ for this, if you were looking for one. This may change in the future, but for now, no.
The challenges are not actually hard, once you understand the game. Most I noticed little to no difference, even in hard (Archmage) mode. Most, except the angry factions mode, that was a tad frustrating at times!
Spellcaster University Challenges
Magical aberrations are twice as common and take twice as long to disappear.
Not challenging at all.
Astral Clock (decoration/painting)
Active Characters in this room plan their day, which prevents their needs from increasing by burst for a long time.
Ancient Harp (artifact/sword)
Students who are active in the room are no longer subject to aberrations and are a little more disciplined for a long time.
Choose between two cards instead of three when drawing from your deck
This challenge can noticeably affect the area quest challenges if you struggle to draw the right cards (e.g trying to train 12 Druids and not getting Dolmens). However, with enough students, you can force the issue. Simply go in the Houses and have them all study (in this case) nature magic. The more students you have enrolled, the easier it becomes. Once you have the cards you want or the quest completed, change the House settings again to meet new goals.
This is certainly one of the hardest challenges, but another is worse.
Sword in the Stone (artifact/sword)
Active students in this room slightly increase their skills in Heroism.
Animal in a Box (familiar/dragon/pet)
Active students in this room slightly increase their skills in Beast Magic.
Two potions of each type are added to each deck when shuffled. Potions are 25% more effective.
I barely noticed this one, but possibly because it can work to your advantage. It’s difficult in that, like the darkness challenge, it limits your room choices, but having the right potions handy can make a big difference. Gold is always good, Prestige makes a big difference to how many students apply, most noticeably after 60 or so Prestige. Also, some areas require them, such as the monks, wanting sylvan potions and cleaning solutions.
Criticality Prism (relic/chest)
Active teachers in the room become able to make “critical hits” while teaching, which provide a big knowledge bonus to the students.
Students active in the room generate gold according to their level in Nature magic.
Relationships with normal factions deteriorate by 2 each season. Attacks contain 4 extra enemies.
I found this the hardest, perhaps because of how I play. It felt like constantly taking one step forward, three steps back as you struggle to gain enough reputation for bonuses, without falling so far behind with all the other factions that the penalties mount up. I managed by focusing on priorities. If my quests were Druids, 8,000 Natural mana and 10,000g, I hammered Orcs, village and kingdom and allowed the rest to slide away.
Remember, you aren’t just losing 2 rep a season (8 a year), you are losing it from all factions, so for 7 factions, that’s 14 per season, 56 per year, total. Need to work those guinea pigs to make that up!
The extra 4 enemies don’t hurt much when it’s skeletons, but can be daunting when it’s a horde of Orcs attacking. That’s the time to put those destructive potions to use.
Ancient Hermit Crab (relic/chest)
Active teachers in the room have a chance to gain positive traits.
Plane Telescope (artifact/sword)
Active students in this room have a chance to extend their studies by 1 year.
The forces of Evil advance faster (+25%) and no student ever applies for 7-year studies.
I was worried about this one and left it until last.
However, either because of luck, experience, or both, I actually found it quite easy. Possibly even of the easiest – because of all the pushbacks.
Kingdom can push back by 1 to 3%, Orcs 3 to 9%, Adventurers up to 12%, Deepfolk 1% for every one trained. Events like Lord of Evil can push back 3% if you have an observatory, while the peasants can push by 4% (as they give them a piece of their mind for affecting their child’s progress in university with his curses). All adds up.
Armed Chest (artifact/sword)
Active students in this room slightly increase their skills in Enchantment.
Shadow-Weaving Spider (Decoration/painting)
Active people in this room generate the resource you have the least of (gold or mana).
See also: main Spellcaster University Guide.