Death / Necropolis Tactics
The Necropolis town's superior speed and movement is perfect to exploit the ranged ability of the Haven town. While the Haven may have the Ballista as a mechanical unit, the Vampire simply targets weaker creatures if there are any, or the monks, which are more likely, especially in a siege. Devils are the obvious choice at level 4 due to their life ward in-built specialty, despite the 100% ranged defense bonus the Bone Dragons possess. The Priest is liable to cast spells like Death Ward, Prayer, Song of Peace and Holy Shout, so, to combat this, use Holy Song and Vampiric Touch, as the Priest can thwart spell attempts like Plague easily with Mass Exorcism. The end result is a chain of casting and dispelling if you are inclined to take this option. For sieges, Aura of Fear should be cast on Devils to remove shooters from the towers, while in a normal combat, Devils should target the Priest first, as spells like Plague and Mass Weakness will become available. Ghosts are also a clear choice, as their insubstantiality means they take less from physical attacks, while their aging ability may eventually prompt the Priest to cast mass exorcism before he needs to. Ghosts are also very manoeuvrable in sieges, and can block the path of ballistae in normal combat.
Creatures to Use: Ghost, Vampire, Devil.
Spells: Holy Song, Vampiric Touch, Mass Cancellation.
Order is very difficult to combat in terms of magic, as they have spells that nullify the effects of your own: Dispel, Banish, and Steal Enchantment. Almost all Death Magic spells either deal with raising or cursing, so Death's entire spellcasting system is rather ineffective. However, Death still has Mass Cancellation that can aid with spells like precision or blur. The best solution is to learn some form of chaos magic, so your Necromancer can cast spell shackle, or, if skills permit, direct damage spells that cannot be reversed by Order magic. Ghosts, once again should be chosen in favour of Cerberi due to their speed and resistance against physical attacks. Vampires are essential for their life draining, and since Venom Spawn is a ranger that is outclassed by Titans, Vampires are able to devastate halflings and magi - creatures with very low hit points. Bone Dragons are usually a better choice here, as the Titan's ranged attack is much more ineffective, and Bone Dragons can use fear to ruin their enemy spellcaster's line of sight. Imps are essential for this combat to persistently drain mana from Order's myriad of spellcasters, even to the extent where one may consider having two stacks - 4 mana per turn, effectively 6 with Magic Leech.
Creature to Use: Ghosts, Vampires, Bone Dragons.
Spells: Mass Cancellation, Magic Leech, Spell Shackle (if available).
A comparatively easy town for death to deal with due to their undead nature, rendering invaluable specialties like stone gaze and terror completely useless. To exploit this weakness, select all of the undead units, and with this bonus comes less physical damage and fear that can be inflicted on shooters on siege towers. Ghosts should occupy the magic hero so that not even direct damage spells can penetrate the Necropolis defense. Spells such as poison and plague wear the high-hit points of Chaos creatures down, while mass sorrow ensures that you will always have the speed advantage by attacking first. However, there is the difficulty of the magically-immune Black Dragon. This problem has to be solved by the beneficial spellcasting effects of Vampiric touch, by casting it on your Bone Dragons, the only creature capable of defeating Black Dragons. Vampires should take care of the Efreeti with ease, even with their fire shield ability. Imps and skeletons can focus on enemy heroes, as well as the bandits and orcs, who are not much of a threat, especially in siege combat.
Creature to Use: Ghosts, Vampires, Bone Dragons.
Spells: Vampiric Touch, Mass Sorrow, Aura of Fear.
A similar town to the Necropolis in terms of speed and spellcasting abilities. The Preserve has a nice balance of creatures, but again, their vastly different line-up necessitates varying strategies. Once again, there is the magical combination of the Water Elementals and Faerie Dragons, backed up by the special Blind ability of the Unicorn and the double ranged attack of the Elf. In the physical combination, the Phoenix/Mantis combination arises, helped by the power and speed of the Griffin and the first strike of the White Tiger.
Variant 1: Elf, Unicorn, Faerie Dragon, Water Elemental.
Firstly, in practice, the Death magic school is the opposite of Nature magic, and therefore it is difficult to gain a clear advantage through spells. In this case, due to the 2+ spellcasters in possession of the Nature Army, they will have the upper hand in this department. Death is able to counter with spells like fatigue against the faster creatures, but, other than that and Mass Sorrow, all that is available is Vampiric touch to terrorise the lower level sprites and elves. While the anti-magic spell can be particularly annoying, forcing you to abandon these magical plans and opt for force. Devils are the better choice in this situation due to their Teleport ability, though Bone Dragons are also good against elves and deal more damage than devils. Once again, the logical choice is Vampires for their life drain, while Cerberi are more suited to Preserve creatures because of their no-retaliation specialty, even though Ghosts would succeed here, too.
Creature to Use: Cerberi, Vampires, Devils/Bone Dragons.
Spells: Fatigue, Mass Sorrow, Vampiric Touch.
Variant 2: White Tiger, Griffin, Phoenix, Mantis.
Against the speed and mobility of the opposing army, Devils should be used to match Phoenix. Additionally, if the devil is bound in place by the Mantis, he has the option of summoning Ice Demons, who in turn can halt the offense of a faster creature like a White Tiger or a Griffin by freezing them. Mass Sorrow followed by Mass Weakness is a powerful combination of spells against an army that relies on physical attacks. Plague is also useful on creatures who have not had anti-magic cast on them. The opposing army is not strong in a siege scenario, since they are primarily flyers or walkers who need to cross the battlefield to deal damage. For this reason, curse and slow are painful spells for the opponent, as there is no secondary form of attack. The spell combinations of Mass Sorrow and Mass Weakness in addition to curse and slow can easily overcome the army, especially with Vampires draining life and Ghosts aging their opponent.
Creatures to Use: Ghosts, Vampires, Devils.
Spells: Mass Weakness, Mass Sorrow, Fatigue, Slow, Summon Ice Demons.
In the presence of a magic dampener, the Stronghold army is slightly more resilient. However, only their level 1 and 2 creatures can match that of the Necropolis. Berserkers are strong, but kill themselves easily, hence the name, so applying a spell such as disrupting ray to them makes the process all the more painful for them, especially against Vampires. Venom Spawn are also more useful against the Stronghold, seeing as they can contest against the Cyclops (ideally, you would block them with your imps) and poison them and move onto the centaurs. Bone Dragons fare slightly better in this battle due to their resistance against ranged attacks, and are comparable to the power of the behemoth or easily stronger than a Thunderbird, even with its lightning attack. Again, physical spells like curse, weakness, and disrupting ray are effective, as well as plague if the process needs to be sped up. Ghosts can keep the harpies strike and return specialty in check by aging them and shortening their movement potential. Stronghold will usually have more creatures than you (except level 3 due to Vampires), and this is why spells like mass weakness need to be cast to prevent them from using this advantage.
Creatures to Use: Ghosts, Venom Spawn/Vampires, Bone Dragons.
Spells: Mass Weakness, Poison, Disrupting Ray, Curse, Plague.
A frightening prospect with spells usually dominating the crux of the combat. Generally, an undead army is safer to take into combat due to the fewer number of spells that affect it. Additionally, an enemy Vampires life drain won't play a factor and vice-versa. Bone Dragons have the advantage in defending against a siege, while Devils are more potent in attacking. There is little difference on the open battlefield, perhaps Devils having a slight edge by being able to kill the opposing magic hero before the Bone Dragon. A Ghost's aging ability will only be useful against the Inferno half of the town, as will the Bone Dragon's fear. Spells like Vampiric touch, Disrupting Ray and Raise Vampires should be cast to complement an attacking side, or poison, plague, and Magic Leech if against an offensive, Inferno-based army. When using Vampires, never attack a nice stack of Imps, as they are health regenerators for later on in the battle when the Vampires start to lose some numbers. The main reason for choosing undead creatures is that spells like plague and poison won't have any effect on them. Additionally, a speed advantage is favourable against an identical or near identical army, which makes the Assassin and Dark Lord classes highly sought-after for a civil conflict. The latter reduces the need to cast sorrow.
Creatures to Use: Not Imps!, Ghosts, Vampires, Bone Dragons (Devils in a siege).
Spells: Vampiric Touch, Disrupting Ray, Raise Vampires, Poison, Plague, Magic Leech.