Order / Academy Strategy
Orders creature selection are varied and balanced, having access to 2 ranged attackers, 2 spellcasters, and 4 walkers. Order's creatures' strength lies in the ability to cast spells and attack from a distance, while making the enemy's task of handling their own creatures as difficult as possible. Order are the magical town, but they can also opt for physical dominance through Gold Golems, Nagas and Dragon Golems, who also share good magic resistance.
Dwarves are slow and quite expensive, but have a useful ability, namely magic resistance, which means that opposing armies need to deal with them physically, and herein playing to the Dwarves' strengths. They have great attack and defense ratings, as well as solid hit points making them good for Garrison defences, but their low movement precludes them from the leading army.
Halflings share the lacklustre adventure map movement rating with the Dwarves, but their 6 speed often enables them to act before other level 1s and 2s. They have poor hit points, though their attack and defense ratings somewhat compensate for 1-2 damage. Due to their Giantslayer ability, they can be effective against level 4s, especially on a tower in a siege situation.
The Gold Golem has the highest hit points of a level 2 and the magic resistance to make it even more difficult to defeat. Their adventure map movement matches that of the Magi, while their speed is excellent for a level 2, but unfortunately this does not translate into movement aswell. Attack and defense ratings are average to good, but they can a handful against an Asylum army, where the Medusas' stone gaze is ineffective due to their other worthwhile ability, being mechanical.
While on the surface may seem to be the inferior choice to Gold Golems due to their 16 hit points, they an become lethal in large numbers due to their poison and magic fist spells. Their speed is average, so it is likely they will be targeted and their depleted early on, reducing their effectiveness. They have poor attack and defense ratings, and are difficult to sustain in large battles, only lasting 2 or 3 turns. They are, however, much cheaper and more numerous than Gold Golems.
Genies are the backbone of the Academy army, having a similar position here as Vampires do at Necropolis. They are better protected spellcasters than the Magi, and have more effective spells such as song of peace, ice bolt, and create illusion. Despite their attack, defense, and damage ratings being fairly poor, they are quick on the adventure map as well as the combat map, and have a higher growth rate than their 6-armed compatriots.
Nagas are effectively the level 3 tank unit for the Academy, though the fact that their only ability is no-retaliation, and boasting poor movement makes them a poor one at that. They do deal good damage and have good attack and defense ratings, but they are also 300 gold more expensive than the more versatile Genies. Consider using Nagas against Asylum.
A statistically superior creature to the Titan, the Dragon Golem is also a mechanical creature, granting it some spell immunities, while always assured of getting the first melee attack in, made more effective by high attack and defense values. Their speed and movement on both planes makes them fast and able to cross the battlefield in about 1 turn, in addition to this, they don't require precious resources, only 4 ore.
The town's most powerful ranged attacker is overshadowed in all statistics by the Dragon Golem, but this vital ability, as well as no melee penalty and Chaos Ward make it a worthy adversary. Attacking from a distance is in accordance with most of the spellcasting Order town, while taking no penalty from an advancing enemy. Other than their effectiveness against chaos and the other aforementioned abilities, Titans are fairly average compared to their previous incarnations.
The native heroes of the Order town are the Lord and the Mage. These are perhaps the two heroes who have the potential to build up Order's expensive, spell-intensive foundations through the Lord's nobility and the Mage's mastery of the supremely powerful Order magic. In addition to these two heroes, they also have access to the Knight, the Priest, the Death Knight and the Lich.
In a similar vein to Chaos, the Lord acts as Order's adventure map hero and financial foundation. Specialising in Nobility, and its secondary skill, estates, the Lord is already pre-built as a financial hero, which is imperative for this expensive town. The Lord, through nobility, also increases the creature production of the town, ensuring that his extra gold is being used to improve the town. The bonuses of the Lord hero exceed the realms of gold and creatures, also becoming a human mine for the town through mining, producing both wood and ore at the advanced level, easily paying for the additional ore required for Dragon Golems. The course of the Lord through the adventure map is made easier through the diplomacy skill, which should be learnt at the earliest possible opportunity, but other skills should be developed after basic diplomacy has been learnt. (Basic provides 30% chance, while every additional level applies an extra 10%). The Scouting skill is the other strong point for the Lord; since in the absence of the Thief, the Lord is called upon to be a mobile hero, ferrying troops around and fighting neutral creature stacks. Two Lords are also a good investment for longer games, especially if mines and resources are sparse.
It is through the Mage that Order are able to exercise their tremendous spellcasting ability. However, the fact that the Mage is Order's sole combat hero means that they should also be given protection in the form of Combat and magic resistance. Despite the power of the Mage's spells, if they do not survive long enough they are obviously rendered impotent. The Combat Primary Skill, in conjunction with magic resistance will make the hero resistant against both physical and magical attacks - melee and archery are a waste for the Mage hero. In the Order magic primary skill, the Mage is unlikely to be used as the leading army for the beginning phases of the map, making charm a useful but at this stage unnecessary skill to learn. Though perhaps only invested in at the basic level, charm is otherwise best left to the adventuring Lord hero, while the two other secondary skills, enchantment and wizardry, are more effective to fully develop the Mage hero on the combat map. A favourable class would be the Wizard class, but learning Chaos magic is unlikely, therefore making Battle Mage the most likely class. It is also effective if the hero has Ice bolt, even though this should be cast by Genies instead.
Premier Resource: Gems.
Order enjoy a fairly quick early-game build up, with both the level 2 dwellings needing the same building, the Institute of Magic level 1, which is usually pre-built, if not, it still leaves the player strategy open in addition to constructing the foundations of a vital building. The Mage Tower is dependent on precious resources, which shouldn't be a problem in the early game, (it is on Champion level) while Gold Golems need only 6 ore to complete their structure (albeit with 250 more gold). This choice really depends on the opponents you are facing, and it is not crucial at all for the rest of the town build-up. The level 3 structure is also relatively easy to afford, particularly the Altar of Wishes, the more common structure. The Treasury is a helpful building, especially if the player plans for Titans, but the cost of 6000 gold is too expensive in the early game when estates is the more economical option. Additionally, at the beginning of the game, 10% of town income equates to 50 gold, while basic estates is an extra 100 gold. Only with the construction of the City Hall would the treasury become as useful as basic estates. This makes the Treasury strictly an endgame structure. The level 3 structure is made available on day 3 with favourable pre-built structures completed, making it a fairly quick developmental town since the second level can be built on day 1.
The town development slows when reaching level 4, the Cloud Castle's pre-requisites entail 15000 gold and 20 of both wood and ore. The gold alone makes this structure difficult to build, but its chances are helped by an efficient estates Lord. The Dragon Factory's requirements are almost as expensive, needing 2 separate structures like the Cloud Castle, valued at 8750 gold and an abundance of both normal and precious resources. The Lord provides the necessary precious resources if there is a shortage, and generally the Dragon Factory is the easier of the two to construct and does not damage the economy of the town, like the Castle would, despite it being the best in the game.
The Academy has only 2 unique buildings, only half as much as Might. Fortunately, they are both quite effective and play to the strengths of the town. The Treasury is for the good of the town, but as already stated, should only be used when the town income itself is quite high, making it overpriced in the early game. The University is a more pertinent structure for Hero development, offering some expansive skills, the most useful of which is Scouting, which is a free path for the Lord. Other magic schools may be explored aswell.
Standardised Build Order
Day 1: Golem Factory
Day 2: Clerical Library
Day 3: Altar of Wishes
Day 4: University
Day 5: Alchemist's Shop
Due to the inability of the Order Alignment to escape the perils of lowered adventure map movement due to the need to bring a level 2 creature with the leading army, tactics and pathfinding become vital skills in army movement development. The latter especially ties in with Lord's plans of ferrying creatures, though the Mage should also attempt to learn some form of tactics in addition to its main two skills, Order magic and combat. Dwarves and Halflings both have a movement of 18, which is only 1 lower than Gold Golems and Magi, making them possible but infrequent additions to the leading army if needed, and the heroes' tactics and pathfinding skills are sufficient. Usually, this slot can be better used by an extra Mage. Gold Golems or Magi are both too integral to the battle tactics of the Academy to be excluded from the leading army, though they should be omitted for exploratory purposes, and really only included on the eve of a large battle or siege (which can be arranged through the Lord).
The adventure map movement for the Lord hero is the most integral aspect in the early game, and for this reason, Genies are the only creatures who should aid in his/her search. Other creatures are simply too slow, which highlights Order lack of a blazing fast unit, the Dragon Golem being the highest on 27, compared with Necropolis, where almost all creatures are 28 and over. Additionally, Dragon Golems are not available early on, and thus cannot aid in scouring the map. Adventure map exploration, luckily for the Academy, is not quite as important if the mining and estates skill are efficiently developed by 1 or more Lords. This can somewhat compensate for poor scouts, but it also means the heroes must rely on gaining experience at an equal rate that other towns can scour the map. Genies are particularly useful against neutral creature stacks, which also makes diplomacy and charm excellent skills due to this frequency of neutral stack combat. This also arises due to Academy's inability to recruit a Thief, hence necessitating two Lords on most occasions.