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HEROES AND SKILLS
Scout Heroes are needed to explore and collect undefended resources. They are especially important in the beginning of the game. Recruit a hero (gold/resource producing speciality is best for scout heroes to make them even more useful to your kingdom), take all troops off him and give him 3 of your fastest units (speed 11 or higher is the best). Put each unit in a different slot: ex. Slot1 - Dragonfly, Slot2 - Dragonfly, Slot3 - Dragonfly. Buy a SpellBook for this hero if he hasn't got one. Fast units are making hero move further each turn. Dividing units in 3 stacks gives your scout hero 90% chance to be able to retreat. 3 fast units and some spells give your scout hero an advantage over other scout heroes.
Artillery skill is useful for one more reason: when you have control over your Ballista, you can run away on Ballista's turn!
Always learn at least one magic school secondary skill to any good hero, even if he/she is a might hero, expert Shield or Curse or Haste or Bless would help a lot.
Knowing your enemy is very important in multiplayer. Here's how you can identify enemy hero's secondary skills: If Ballista takes time before it shoots, if it does double damage or if it does two shots per turn, he's got Artillery skill. If Catapult takes time before it shoots or if it does two shots per turn, he's got Ballistics. If First Aid Tent takes time before it heals, he's got First Aid skill. If an offensive spell does some extra damage (it says that in the bottom of the screen), he's got Sorcery. Identify at which level he casts his spells. Casting a weakening/stats-improving spell on all troops means expert level for sure. You cannot determine magic school secondary skills on magic plains where all spells are cast at expert level. If his maximum spell points almount is higher than his Knowledge X 10, he's got Intellegence. If he can position his troops or you can't position your troops while you got tactics means he's got Tactics. Well, that's all the secondary skills you can determine for sure.
Sometimes it's a good idea to have a smaller reserve army behind your main hero. It carries all the fresh troops to rebuild the main army after a big battle.
Put a hero in the water as fast as possible. There is always lots of flotsum, survivors and chests to be had. Not to mention Magellan's Maps can uncover much of the Map on some maps.
Always buy a spell book ASAP just a few weak spells can save you in combat.
Build build build your heroes! One really good hero can win the game even with weak creatures. This means sometimes get experience over gold and always visit the skill raising structures.
Credits: Jeffrey Hilton (3 tips), Wyvern (1 tip).
COMBAT AND ARMY
Think very well before attacking well-built Fortress town. If your army is not twice as powerful as defender's, you are risking! Fortress has 2-hex wide moat, garrison's attack and defence is increased by 2 and the most important - creatures have some great special abbilities to slow and weaken the enemy. While your units are stuck in the moat, Dragonflies make it across the field in a blink of an eye and do a bit of biting on your shooters and war machines. Basilisks can barricade the holes in the town walls by turning your troops to stone. Mighty Gorgon's gaze is deadly even to the most powerful Archangels. Wyren's poison will weaken your units and you don't want Chaos Hydras to suddenly appear in the middle of your crowd of units. Fortress heroes are weak in seige attack though.
Your Ballista can be really annoying: enemy has the last troop and you blinded it so that it can't run away. Then Ballista does a shot and doesn't kill it of course, but the enemy is un-blinded and can run away. Anyway, as you can see on secondary skills page, Ballista is almost useless to heroes with low attack ratings.
Don't forget Arch Angels' abbility to Resurrect once per combat - you can often have a battle with no causualities if you divide Arch Angels into few stacks.
When you're about to attack a castle, divide Cyclops into as many equal stacks as possible - you will be able to bring the walls and towers down in a matter of few turns!
Ammo Cart seems so harmless on the battlefield... But if you know that battle will take long, destroy it first because some shooters can only shoot for 8 or 12 turns without it.
It's very important to use Wait and Defend commands properly in combat. Defend command skips the current action but gives troop 20% bonus to their total defence until the next action. Wait command makes the troop wait until all the rest of the troops finished their actions. If more than one creature stack waits, slowest will have to act first. The fastest wating stack will get to move last in a comat turn. If one of your troops is the fastest on the battlefield and you give them the wait comand, that troop will virtually have 2 actions in a row: it will be the last to go on the first turn and it will also be the first to go on the second turn. Wait comand is useful to be able to attack before attacked. When opposing forces are equal, there often is a wating contest. Eventually, the fastest units outwait the rest and attack before attacked. Haste spell can be useful also for that matter, specially at expert level.
Your army should have one stack of level one creatures at all times. These weak units are cheap but plentiful. Using defending commands grants them a 20% bonus to defense. Now they are harder to kill off for your attacker. If possible use the wait command for level 2 units and above, then use your level one stack to attack an enemy. Once the enemy has retaliated your stronger units can attack freely on them! (Griffins and Counterstrike spell are exceptions to this strategy).
A few creatures MUST be upgraded (Archers, Elves, Genies, Giants, Swordsmen, Vampires, etc) while upgrading others is a waste of resources. See monster pages for detailed comparison.
Your main hero's army will consist of level 3-7 creatures. (Mainly level 5-7). They can take more beating and cause more damage. I think it's useful to build their dwellings (especially level 7 creatures) as early as possible. By the end of the 2nd month you should have a formidable army. When the "strong" armies are gone, it's time for level 1-3 creatures to step up... there'll be hundreds of them by that time.
If you're playing with Tower start collecting Giants early, and when you have lots of gold and gems, upgrade them to Titans. Titans are probably the best creatures: the only lev7 shooters with 300 health! A smaller group of Nagas can defend a town in the early stages of the game. Master genies are great spellcasters, although their activity is very random. However, they know powerful spells like Fire Shield, Frenzy or Slayer... great.
Attacker: try to kill an enemy while they are on the draw bridge to keep it open; If they have a castle and you dont have ballistics then be VERY careful. Defender: try to take out the flyers and ranged attackers first, also try to take out the catapult and other siege weapons.
Master Genies are useful if split into groups. Good tactic is to have a medium group of naga queens and 6 groups of Master genies. Very effective. Same strategy works with Mighty Gorgons. Need to fight 4-6 dragons? Just split a group of 7 Mightly gorgons into 7 separate units, and attack. Each gorgon will get at least one chance to kill 1-2 dragons per hit. You have a good chance to win and a relatively cheap way to kill off some powerful creatures.
Never underestimate the power of ranged attackers. When you run into a non-ranged creature stack on the board, you can often halve their numbers before they even reach you in hand-to-hand combat! Also, if you start with two towns, get the best ranged attackers from both towns and put them into one arny. It's worth the decrease in morale. With expert archery and precision spell cast, you can fell the mightiest of armies. Use a few stacks of Mighty Gorgons to take out the enemy BIG STUFF with their awesome death stare. Good luck, mortal.
An oftern good tactic is to have a hero with one large stack of range attackers and 3 stacks of those 'slow but mean' troops such as golems or ogres, before combat arrange troops so that the range stack is at the top, followed by the slowest to the fastest of the other stacks. At the start of the battle surround your range troops with the other troops to create a 'living wall' that only other range attackers and v.fast creatures can penetrate!
When attacking a enemy town it's always important to attack on the 7th day or earlier for many reasons including that your enemy will have not received his new creatures yet, if you win the town you'll get the creatures the next day.
Credits: Wyvern (3 tips), Sir Benjamin (1 tip), Tim Fiscus (1 tip), David Foster (1 tip), Ryguy273 (1 tip), Todd (1 tip).
SPELLS AND ARTIFACTS
Creatures with wide range of damage (ex. 3-6 or 25-45) are strongly affected by Bless and Curse spells. Creatures with constant damage like Angles or Naga Queens are barely affected by Bless and Curse spells.
Berzerk spell is really devastating, especially on expert level. Cast it to affect stronger creatures, also cast it on creatures with good specials like Wyren Monarchs can poison their own allies when Berzerked or Mighty Gorgons can stare at some Hydras or Wyrens.
Old wicked strategy is to buy some Black or Gold Dragons, give them to a hero with high spell power rating and an Armageddon spell. Attack anyone you want! For every 10 spell power Armageddon will do 500 damage to all creatures on the battlefield, except for Black or Gold Dragons. There are, however some issues: 1. Enemy might have the same Black or Gold Dragons which are unaffected. 2. Make sure your Dragons are strong enough to last for a few attacks - enemy might have some really fast units. 2. Dead terrain prevents all spellcasting, remember that! 3. Beware! Enemy might have some artifacts which prevent spellcasting, they are: Orb of Inhibition, Recanter's Cloak and Orb of Vunerability which Negates all natural magic resistance of all creatures in combat. Advanced or Expert Anti-Magic spell will protect a single unit from armageddon. Protection From Fire spell can decrease the damage.
Lightnings and Implosions are cool, but if you do it against a real strong army, you're just wasting your mana. Try Blind, Berserk, Slow instead. You should also cast spells on your own troops like Clone (any creature with Exp. Water Magic), Fire and Air Shield. (That's why I like Master Genies... :)
Town Portal with good Earth Magic is the most useful non-combat spell. You'll only need one hero to build up huge armies and defend all your towns.
Shackles of War... have you ever been annoyed by a strong enemy that escaped with only a few creatures left? This artifact is the solution :) Unfortunately it's rare, and can backfire when the enemy is stronger.
Some artifacts are good to keep and put on right before combat. Example: wear boots for movement, but just before combat put on the boots of polatiry. If you get creature producing, money producing, resource producing artifacts give them to a weak city defending hero. This will save artifact room for your combat heros, and does not put the artifacts in jeopardy in case of a combat heroes failure.
Credits: Wyvern (3 tips), Jeffrey Hilton (1 tip).