Death / Necropolis Strategy
Necropolis troops are characterised by being undead, while the Inferno-based or non-Necropolis units are very fast, and are effective in their tasks. They lack a decent spellcaster, but are very powerful in the endgame and have two of the best level 3 units. Hit Points are sparse in the beginning of the game, but they become prevalent as the town progresses. All Death creatures have very high attack and defense skills for their levels.
Imps are extremely good scouts due to their 28 movement on the adventure map and nearly as fast as a caravan. They’re not much in combat, however, if in many small stacks, the opposing magic hero is going to have a hard time. While mana leech only takes of 2 spell points per turn, it can be very infuriating for a low level hero with decent spells. Imps are also rather quick on the battle screen, and can get to an opposing army very quickly, which can be good in halting the ranged attack of weaker missile units.
In the early game, skeletons aren’t good at all, their growth rate doesn’t reflect their overall weakness in the game. However, when combined with necromancy later in the game, it is possible to have a large number of skeletons within the first month due to winning large battles, and your army becomes a lot more powerful for that. They are an average level 1 creature, but if their numbers are exceptionally high, it is always an asset to have them. They are also very resistant against ranged attacks, perfect against crossbowmen and orcs.
The 3 headed attack is indeed useful as you point out. This also works well with no retaliation because one wouldn’t want 3 creatures attacking you back after you’ve attacked them yourself. A good creature, but much slower than ghosts, and therefore weak across the adventure map army. They do not possess the undead ability, but are effective attackers.
Ghosts are fairly solid creatures. While they are fast, their low HP can be overlooked due to their insubstantiality. Ghosts speed helps the army in the adventure map, and its special abilities of being undead and possibly aging the opponent. Aging drains life from the opponent, making them slower and weaker for the remainder of combat. Being insubstantial means that ghosts have double the normal melee and ranged defence, making them very resistant to attack.
Despite the relatively low HP for a level 3, their unique ‘life drain’ ability makes them one of the most revered creatures in the game. They are able to hold their own against stacks of level four creatures, and combined with the no retaliation ability, they are able to successfully regain health without losing any at all until the creature attacks in its own turn. When grandmaster necromancy arises, you’ll be thankful you chose vampires, as it provides you with a greater supply, which can greatly aid your army and make it extremely powerful.
These green creatures should not be overlooked and overshadowed by the greatness of the vampires. They are a good creature in their own right, the 5th best ranged attacker in the game, and with 100 HP, a formidable opponent indeed. Being death’s only ranged creature, it is a difficult choice, which can be determined by the presence of a crystal mine. Their ability to poison their target is a very useful ability, especially in sieges where it can take a few turns for hand to hand combat to start.
The fastest creature in the game, yes, even more so than phoenixes. Because they teleport to any position on the battlefield, at the start of combat, it is your free choice as to whom you’d like to attack, and it could prove to be a great strategic decision that determines the outcome. Their super-speed on the battlefield is also reflected on the adventure map ,and they are a great asset to an adventuring hero. Summon Ice Demon is a particularly useful spell, as that is the only ways ice demons can be brought about, discarding their dwelling. They are also solid creatures with 70HP. Omnipresent life ward makes the devil a great creature to have against the Haven in combat.
Bone Dragons are indeed the tanks of the Death army. With 275 HP, they are extremely hard to defeat, and the 100% ranged defence bonus increases this difficulty. They deal a great amount of damage and are able to defeat creatures who are about their strength, including devils. When you attack a ranged creature they move away from you, enabling them to deal full damage once more, which can be used to attack another creature, however, this works in reverse in a siege, where you can displace archers from their towers.
The Two main Heroes of the Necropolis are the Death Knight and the Necromancer. Additionally, due to its neighbouring alignments, the Necropolis can also recruit the best financial hero, the Lord, the Battle Mage, the Thief, and the Sorcerer. While the Necromancer can transform into a powerful Lich capable of inflicting Aging (as well as the obvious ability of raising Vampires), the Death Knight is not as useful, and even better is that Death can recruit two of the best might heroes - the Thief and the Lord. They both increase the Necropolis' economy greatly, the Thief sneaking past creature stacks, while the Lord gathers the treasure chests to develop the nobility skill.
The Death Knight is the weaker of the two heroes of the Necropolis, and it is not crucial to buy before the first month is up (or three weeks). The Death Knight is useful in combat where the Tactics skill provides a speed and movement bonus for his/her creatures. The Death Knight should ride on the success of the Necromancer in the early stages, working just as an auxiliary for speed and movement around the adventure map. The Death Knight is a powerful help when increasing the speed and movement of Vampires and Ghots in an army, making them more effective and enabling them to gain the initiative.
It is critical that the Necromancer learns necromancy as soon as possible, as he/she is first able to raise skeletons from combat, then ghosts, and finally, Vampires. To make the necromancy skill effective, the hero should engage in numerous fights with neutral creature stacks, so that he/she gains experience quickly, and is able to raise skeletons from the combat later. Necromancy should be the first priority before other pursuits like demonology or occultism, and refrain from choosing them until Necromancy is at the Grandmaster level. Another bonus is that is a readily available skill, and not necessitating many pre-requisites in the Death Magic field. Ghosts and Vampires also help with adventure map movement, and therefore the Necromancer army should be the leading army, while leaving the skeletons in a garrison or captured town to hasten army movement.
Premier Resource: Sulfur
The Necropolis town can purchase its level 3 dwelling on the second day, (through the combination of Kennels -> Mansion/Spawning Pits), while it takes 1 day longer if you decide to choose ghosts, due to the pre-requisite of the Undead Transformer. Both of the pre-requisites of the Mansion and the Spawning Pits are equally important, but they are usually pre-built anyway. When the time comes to buy the level 4 structure, there are a couple of factors that come into play in the construction aspect of the town. Firstly, the Dragon Graveyard needs 6 less precious resources, but 10 more normal resources. Seeing as the production of normal : precious resources is 2 : 1, the Dragon Graveyard is slightly easier to purchase, especially since normal resources mines are more lightly guarded. However, more mines are needed to secure the edification of the Dragon Graveyard, but this can actually be a positive repercussion, since you are envouraged to explore the map more with your Thief and Necromancer. Another drawback of the Temple of the Damned is that it saps Necropolis' premier resource, sulfur, which is needed to finance the mage guilds, and the necromancy amplifier, especially when recruiting a devil requires 2 sulfur in itself.
When considering Death's two unique buildings, they are both rather useful, but, the Necromancy Amplifier is a vital building for the Necropolis, and, especially the Necromancer hero whose existence is focused on raising vampires for the later stages of the game. 10% increase is enough to secure an extra Vampire for every 10, which is a worthy investment of 1000 gold considering how many battles are fought. The Undead transformer helps in maintaining the morale of the army, but is really only important when you decide to combine armies of different alignments with a powerful Necromancer hero.
Standardised Build Order
Day 1: Undead Transformer
Day 2: Barrow Mound
Day 3: Mansion
Day 4: Necromancy Amplifier
Day 5: Tower of Darkness 2
This is a Death Knight's main port of call, especially when Venom Spawn and Cerberi are chosen over Vampires and Ghosts. The army movement bonus Vampires enjoy over Venom Spawn is a massive 9! points, while Ghosts hold a good 7 over Cerberi. This bonus, coupled with Necromancy, is a decisive factor in the selection of these two creatures. While the Death Knight has the added benefit of tactics, the Thief hero can do most of the exploring early in the game, just to clear the surrounding area of resources and mines.
Creature combinations can play a large role in adventure map movement, seeing as the combination of Cerberi/Venom Spawn will be markedly slower than a Ghost/Vampire combination. Investment in the pathfinding skill should be undertaken, but the initial task of collecting resources has been accomplished by the Thief. So, the Death Knight should be used to ferry creatures back and forth from town to hero, and join the Necromancer in the battles to gain experience.
Skeletons should be dropped from the leading army, but the imps can be kept to bring the adventure map movement higher with its 28 movement points. The army should be travelled close to 30 movement points per day if the combination of Imps (28) , Ghosts (28), Vampires (28) and Devils (30) or Bone Dragons (28). This combination should be used on larger maps, and even better, almost makes caravans obselete (between Necropolis castles), since these are the creatures you're going to be ferrying. Finally, the Undead Transformer can help you acquire these fast moving creatures, so even if you do decide to choose Venom Spawn, you can always create a fast army through this tactic, though it won't be as powerful without a steady supply.