King's Bounty Spell Analysis Part 1: Chaos Magic

For damaging spells, the damage listed is the base damage, before being modified by Intellect or effects like the Destruction skill. Specifically, Intellect adds 10% of the base per point by default. Every 7 points of Intellect additionally increases final damage by 10%.

Example: Level 1 Kamikaze does 100-200 damage base. Every point of Intellect you gain will increase the minimum damage by 10 and the maximum damage by 20, but going from 6 points to 7 points will take you from 160-320 damage to 170-340 damage before the 7-point boost, which then increases it to 187 (+17, which is 10% of 170) for minimum damage and 374 (+34, which is 10% of 340) for maximum damage.

Put into more simple, general terms, this means that the higher your Intellect climbs the less important individual points of Intellect become (Gaining +10 damage is pretty cool when you have only 100 in the first place. It's not so impressive once you're up to 300 damage) while the 7-Intellect breakpoints become increasingly important. (Because the higher your damage climbs, the the bigger the number thus being added)

Other modifiers (ie the Destruction Skill and Item-based boosts, primarily) are then all stacked together linearly at the end. (By 'linearly' I mean that, for example, the Necklace of Firestorm is +30% damage to Fire damage Spells, which is to say equipping two of them results in +60% rather than +30% followed by +30% of the result of that first modification) This means that these modifiers are much more impactful once your Intellect is already high, compared to just adding more Intellect, than when your Intellect is low: going from 0 Intellect to 2 Intellect is +20% damage, where the first rank of Destruction is a mere +15%. (And the Intellect will actually boost various Spells that don't do damage!) But if we instead say you're at 30 Intellect before adding 2 Intellect or grabbing Destruction 1, then Destruction 1 is way, way ahead of the 2 Intellect in terms of added damage.

A caveat: the game prefers to increment in units of 5, to the point that eg at early levels Flaming Arrow won't necessarily gain any damage from a gained point of Intellect even though these values would imply that it would gain damage from every single point of Intellect.

Also note that in the majority of cases where a multi-digit number is explicitly listed by the Spell, that number is affected by Intellect in the same way even if the number isn't for damage. (eg healing effects, Leadership/Health-scaled summoning Spells, etc)

Additionally, Spells that induce a buff or debuff usually have the buff/debuff's duration extended by 1 turn for every 15 Intellect the player has.

Most Spells that don't fall under any of these rules usually have some special-cased way to benefit from Intellect, such as Dragon Arrows adding additional charges of the Talent it provides every 15 Intellect.

There's... some exceptions, usually to the misfortune of those Spells (Though some Spells effectively 'auto-scale' and don't really need Intellect boosts), but it's a good general rule of thumb to assume a given Spell will improve as your Intellect rises, if perhaps only at the multiples-of-fifteen breakpoints.


Flaming Arrow
Crystal Cost: 1 / 3 / 5
Mana Cost: 5 / 5 / 5
Level 1 Statistics: Damage: 70; Burning: 20%
Level 2 Statistics: Damage: 140; Burning: 40%
Level 3 Statistics: Damage: 210; Burning: 60%

Hits a single enemy for Fire damage with a chance to Burn the target.

Flaming Arrow really comes into its own once you start leveling it and notice that its Mana cost doesn't go up any. At Chaos Magic Level 1, it's actually less Mana-efficient than just dropping Fireballs on things, but by the time you're at Chaos Magic Level 3 Flaming Arrow is a dirt-cheap way to do a good chunk of damage. (And also a fairly reliable way to inflict Burning, but this isn't very important... yet)

Overall Flaming Arrow is generally your most cost-efficient way of doing damage, which can be useful if you're expecting a battle to drag on for a while and are confident in your ability to stall long enough for Mana running out to be a relevant issue.

Still, most of the time Flaming Arrow tends to be overshadowed by...



Fireball
Crystal Cost: 4 / 6 / 8
Mana Cost: 7 / 12 / 17
Level 1 Statistics: Damage Center: 120; Damage Adjacent: 25-50; Burning: 10%
Level 2 Statistics: Damage Center: 240; Damage Adjacent: 50-100; Burning: 20%
Level 3 Statistics: Damage Center: 360; Damage Adjacent: 75-150; Burning: 30%

High Fire damage on one tile, with lesser Fire damage to adjacent tiles. All affected units have a chance to Burn.

Your bread-and-butter damage spell, especially if you're a Mage and so actually start with it outright. At the beginning of the game, it's often likely to outright one-shot individual stacks while doing considerably damage to adjacent stacks, especially since the beginning of the game involves fighting a fair few Thorns, which take double damage.

In the long haul Fireball will be pushed aside by other, better Spells, but it usually takes quite a long while to acquire those Spells, and its surprisingly affordable and lethal for the early game. The ability to aim it where you like also has situational utility early in the game: splashing four targets will actually be more Mana-efficient than Flaming Arrow at Level 1, even if nothing is caught by the center hit, and even three targets is usually a better deal, so you can find yourself in situations where it makes sense to drop the Fireball adjacent to enemies rather than on an enemy (Such as because you're trying to avoid splashing your own units), which is a nice option to have. 


It's also just got a nice-looking, fast animation, which is pleasant.


Fire Rain
Crystal Cost: 5 / 10 / 15
Mana Cost: 5 / 10 / 20
Level 1 Statistics: Damage: 70-80; Burning: 5%
Level 2 Statistics: Damage: 210-240; Burning: 10%
Level 3 Statistics: Damage: 350-400; Burning: 15%

Fire damage to all units in a 7-tile-covering circle, with affected units having a chance to be Burned.

Fire Rain is strangely terrible at Level 1, and should probably never be used over Fireball unless you have no choice somehow. (Though it is strictly better than Flaming Arrow, aside the worse Burn chance, unless you're worried about collateral damage) At Level 2 it's cheaper and can actually hit just as hard against a single target, let alone against multiple targets, and at Level 3 it actually usually hits harder against single targets, albeit while also costing more. Fire Ball remains the best spell in the game for piling Fire damage onto a single, specific target, but at Chaos Magic Level 3 Fire Rain is generally a better way to get out damage in general. As such, Fire Rain will eventually largely push Fireball aside as your go-to damage Spell, outside of stuff like 'prioritizing killing a Royal Thorn stack'.

Note that Fire Rain is unmatched for mass damage. Period. This is part of why Demons and dragons being heavily Fire-resistant forces a Mage to move away from cookie-cutter Spell-spamming, as there's just no replacing Fire Rain. (By contrast with how your single-target damage against Demons isn't necessarily negatively impacted, because Ice Snake is basically better than Fireball anyway if the target isn't Physically resistant)

If you're not a Mage, you're a lot more likely to just ignore it, in no small part because you don't really have the Crystals to burn and may not be able to afford the ranks in Destruction+Chaos Magic to keep its damage competitive.


Armageddon
Crystal Cost: 10 / 20 / 30
Mana Cost: 30 / 40 / 50
Level 1 Statistics: Damage: 200-300; Burning: 30%
Level 2 Statistics: Damage: 300-450; Burning: 60%
Level 3 Statistics: Damage: 400-600; Burning: 90%

Astral damage to all units and objects, friend and foe, with a chance to Burn. Friendly units only take 35% damage. Ignores Spell immunity.

Yes, I know, the game claims it does Fire damage, and you'd sure expect that to be its damage type given its graphical effects, but no, its damage only varies via randomness, not based on differing resistances.

And yes, your mwahahaha abusive strategy of fielding a stack of Black Dragons and nothing else while dropping Armageddons doesn't actually work in The Legend.

I'm... not actually sure why Armageddon exists. I used to believe it was basically meant to be combined with Black Dragons, but, uh, no. I'm having trouble thinking of a strategy for using it that doesn't boil down to 'accept massive casualties' or 'use, like, Vampires/Ancient Vampires and have them use Bat Form to leech up on the survivors'.

It gets more plausibly useful in later games, but in The Legend you probably shouldn't waste Crystals on learning it, or at least not waste them on upgrading it.

Unless you want to cheese the final battle. It works just fine for cheesing the final battle, and is indeed your best option if you don't care about casualties and just want to see the ending already.


Kamikaze
Crystal Cost: 3 / 5 / 8
Mana Cost: 5 / 10 / 15
Level 1 Statistics: Damage: 100-200
Level 2 Statistics: Damage: 200-400
Level 3 Statistics: Damage: 300-600

Attaches a bomb to a single unit, which detonates after either 3 turns or when the troop is destroyed, causing Physical damage to all adjacent units.

Even though the game itself claims you can only attach it to an ally, you can totally target basically any unit. Unfortunately, its damage isn't that high, and 3 turns is long enough for the vast majority of units to reach your front lines, so it's still difficult to pull off, and often it would be more useful to dump damage now on eg ranged stacks to reduce their damage output right away. It's got more potential when dealing with enemies that summon more units, since summoned stacks are usually small enough to rapidly kill, and will also usually be conveniently adjacent to other enemies when first summoned, and against more melee-heavy battlegroups it can be useful to drop a Kamikaze on one of them and then arrange to slow the stacks down. (Ideally via unit Talents or Abilities) At higher levels, Kamikaze also becomes notable as a very economical way to do huge damage, giving you something useful to cast once you've burned through most of your Mana.


Kamikaze is also one of those Spells that's especially useful against battlegroups with very unevenly sized stacks. Drop a Kamikaze on that random 10-Dwarf stack chilling with 6 Giants (No, seriously. This happens), then have a ranged attacker one-shot them to inflict far more damage to the Giants than you'd be liable to do with a directly damaging Spell. Or maybe you're the Mage with Higher Magic and followup with an area-of-effect nuke that includes finishing off the Dwarves (Probably Fire Rain), that works too.

And yes, Kamikaze does Physical damage. It confused me too. It does mean it's overall more consistent in its effectiveness than if it did do Fire damage (Nothing resists Physical as strongly as Fire can be resisted, but equally nothing is actually weak to Physical, where all Plants are severely weak to Fire and a number of other units are more lightly weak), for better and for worse.

Also note that Kamikaze is considered to be a debuff by the game. This means it can be cleared by Dispel, for example. This will be more important in later games, but it's worth keeping in mind even now because for instance Sprites can just wipe it out, and you can't target units with Spell Immunity nor target Gremlins.

Lastly, one of Kamikaze's most significant properties is that the explosion is not affected by Spell immunity. You can't set Kamikaze on Black Dragons, but you can drop it on an adjacent unit and then take that unit out to trigger the explosion as a way to do Intellect-based damage to Black Dragons. This is one of a handful of ways for a Mage to get around their difficulties dealing with Black Dragons, and is arguably the best option when it's available.


Ice Snake
Crystal Cost: 4 / 7 / 10
Mana Cost: 10 / 15 / 20
Level 1 Statistics: Damage: 140; Damage Adjacent: 20-60; Freeze: 20%
Level 2 Statistics: Damage: 305; Damage Adjacent: 45-130; Freeze: 40%
Level 3 Statistics: Damage: 475; Damage Adjacent: 65-200; Freeze: 60%

Targets an enemy unit, inflicting Physical damage to it and lesser damage to all adjacent units. Affected units have a chance to be Frozen, reducing their Speed by 1.

Ice Snake is basically Fireball's slightly more powerful, slightly more expensive cousin, only replacing the underwhelming Burn status with the quite useful Freeze status. Oddly, where Fireball can be aimed anywhere you like, Ice Snake absolutely must be centered on an enemy unit. This isn't much of a disadvantage, but it's a strange difference and Ice Snake's animation doesn't suggest any particular reason for it to behave that way, so I don't really get it.

The fact that it does Physical damage is also useful in its own right: if you can get a hold of Ice Snake before heading into Demonis, you'll be much better situated to work around the widespread Fire resistance there, and against Emerald Green Dragons and especially Red Dragons the same principle applies, which is nice since dragons are quite common in the late game. You'll generally not have Ice Snake early in the game, but that's okay because early on you mostly would rather drop Fireballs on all these things that are Physically resistant (eg Swordsmen, Guardsmen, Ghosts...) or on the Thorns that are weak to Fire. It's only once you're wandering Kordar, intermittently fighting Demons, that you really want Ice Snake anyway.

Oddly, even though Ice isn't a proper damage type until two games later, there are units with 'Cold Resistance' that take less damage from Ice Snake. About 25% less. It shares this distinction with the Bowmen's Ice Arrow Talent and Distortion Magic's Geyser.


Poison Skull
Crystal Cost: 2 / 3 / 5
Mana Cost: 5 / 7 / 10
Level 1 Statistics: Damage: 40-140; Poisoning: 30%
Level 2 Statistics: Damage: 70-250; Poisoning: 60%
Level 3 Statistics: Damage: 100-365; Poisoning: 90%

Targets a single enemy unit for Poison damage, with a chance to Poison the target as well.

It's really too bad that Poisoning things isn't very useful yet. And that Poison Skull's damage is painfully random and averages right around Flaming Arrow's consistent damage. And Poison Skull gets more expensive to cast as you upgrade it, unlike Flaming Arrow. And heavy Poison resistance is a very common quality while absolutely nothing in the game is actually weak to Poison.

Still, Poison Skull can be useful coverage on occasion, particularly early in the game when your Spellbook is full of holes. It's also something you should keep in mind in situations where none of your staple Spells is able to do enough damage to eg finish off a stack -if it's important to get that kill, gambling on Poison Skull rolling high on its damage is worth a try.


Hell Breath
Crystal Cost: 2 / 5 / 10
Mana Cost: 10 / 15 / 20
Level 1 Statistics: Fire Damage: +20%; Duration: 2 turns
Level 2 Statistics: Fire Damage: +30%; Duration: 3 turns
Level 3 Statistics: Fire Damage: +40%; Duration: 4 turns

A single allied unit does additional damage with its basic melee attack, with this additional damage being Fire-typed regardless of what their own base damage is.

If you're playing a Mage, you should probably ignore Hell Breath and just throw Fireballs at things.

If you're playing a Warrior, Hell Breath can be a useful way to pick on weaknesses and/or enhance a unit's utility against units it has a poor matchup against, such as allowing Poison attackers to do something worthwhile against Undead forces and Plants.

Either way, it's probably not really worth leveling it, as the Mana cost becomes rather unreasonable from a Warrior's perspective while the damage gain is dubious, where a Mage has no reason to bother in the first place.

The Paladin falls closer to the Warrior on this dynamic, though depending on your luck with equipment and so on a given Paladin may well end up preferring to sling Fireballs anyway.

Probably its most useful quality is being one of the only offensive buffs that can actually be applied to Undead and Demons.

Still, it's also hampered by the fact that it only benefits melee attacks, and the player is strongly incentivized to focus on ranged units. Since it never turns mass-cast, it's not like it provides a cool incentive to run a melee army when fighting Plants or something of the sort, either, and indeed one of its problems as a buff Spell is that eg Bless turns mass-cast at Level 3: why boost one unit when you can boost your entire army at once?


Greasy Mist
Crystal Cost: 3 / 5 / 7
Mana Cost: 10 / 10 / 10
Level 1 Statistics: Damage: 40; Fire Vulnerability: 20%; Duration: 2 turns
Level 2 Statistics: Damage: 80; Fire Vulnerability: 30%; Duration: 3 turns
Level 3 Statistics: Damage: 120; Fire Vulnerability: 40%; Duration: 4 turns

A single enemy takes some Fire damage and their resistance to Fire is temporarily reduced.

Greasy Mist is a weird spell that's usually not worth bothering with, as even a 40% increase in damage is usually going to be worse than hurling an additional Fireball. If you're playing a Warrior and you've got Imps and/or Scoffer Imps, it's a bit better, and somewhat counter-intuitively it can be really useful against enemies that are strongly Fire resistant in the event that you lack better coverage -a 40% modification in this case means that 80% Fire Resistance would become 40%, tripling the damage of following Fire attacks- but overall Greasy Mist is an interesting idea with somewhat lacking execution. It's particularly held back by its high-ish Mana cost, which only really starts working okay for it at higher Spell levels, where the Spells you're boosting become expensive enough Mana efficiency may be a legitimate concern.

From a more Warrior-y perspective, Greasy Mist is... held back by the limited number of Fire attackers in The Legend. (And there's not even a Fire-typed Rage attack!) Now, Red Dragons and Black Dragons are both excellent units, but they're not made available to the player until you're closing in on the end of the game, and their Leadership-to-damage ratio is actually pretty poor. You'll usually be better off trying to support some other unit's damage output. Imps and Scoffer Imps have similar caveats, only replace 'bad damage rate' with 'Fireball only has 2 charges'. Human Bowmen backed by Training 2 are actually available from early in the game and have actually pretty darn good damage output... and only 1 charge on Flaming Arrow. (Also, why didn't you just grant them Dragon Arrows? It'll almost always produce a better result) Fire Dragonflies are early, and hit hard, but they're also melee glass cannons the player should generally avoid fielding, with no real redeeming traits beyond 'one of the only Fire attackers in the entire game' and 'available early'. (There's not even a way to spawn them from looted objects) There's also Alchemists with Fire Water and Goblin Catapults with Fire Shot, but you're still talking limited-use Talents. (No, Fire Spiders don't do Fire damage, not yet anyway)

The developers apparently agree with me, because later games combine it with another somewhat underwhelming spell to make something actually kind of decent.


Plague
Crystal Cost: 3 / 5 / 8
Mana Cost: 10 / 15 / 20
Level 1 Statistics: Characteristics Decreased: -15%; Duration: 2 turns
Level 2 Statistics: Characteristics Decreased: -20%; Duration: 2 turns
Level 3 Statistics: Characteristics Decreased: -25%; Duration: 2 turns

Infects a single target with Plague, which lowers Attack, Defense, and HP by a percentage. The Plague is infectious, spreading to friend and foe alike, though Demons, Plants, and inorganic units are immune to the Plague. Undead can carry the Plague, but will not suffer the stat penalties. Ignores Spell immunity.

As covered back in the Undead post, the Spell is generally inferior to fielding a Necromancer. I like the idea behind Plague, but it's a Spell I tend to find difficulty justifying actually casting.

Note that Plague does not scale with Intellect at all.

For a Warrior Plague is worth considering casting in the early game to extend the damage on your Rage attacks, since your Spell damage output isn't so great anyway, though of course it's dependent on the target being susceptible (Thorns are immune to Plague, for example, and common in the earliest portion of the game) and on the player not having some other option be more useful in a general sense. This also has the issue that the Warrior has to put a lot of effort into reaching Chaos Magic 1 due to their lack of Magic Runes from leveling, and so even if you lucked into Plague early on odds are good your Spell list includes a pretty decent variety by the time you can actually cast Plague, exacerbating the 'assuming you don't have better options' issue.


Fear
Crystal Cost: 3 / 3 / 3
Mana Cost: 10 / 10 / 10
Level 1 Statistics: Duration: 2 turns
Level 2 Statistics: Duration: 3 turns
Level 3 Statistics: Duration: 4 turns

Inflicts Fear on a single target, which prevents the unit from attacking units of a higher Level than itself.

A couple of points the game never explicates: units that are afraid are not under player control, and this even works with enemy Heroes (If an enemy Hero has a single unit, and you hit it with Fear? The Hero won't get the chance to cast a spell), and units under Fear will refuse to use Talents that aren't some form of attack. As such, Fear is actually a tremendously useful spell, even if you're prone to using low-level armies where its explicit benefit (Preventing the target from attacking) doesn't apply. There's not a ton of units in The Legend that are both vulnerable to Fear and have problematic non-attacking Talents, but there's a few -Demonesses, for example, are a great Fear target, as their high Level protects them from an array of other effects (eg Blind has to be Level 3 to work on them, Magic Shackles has to be Level 2, Sheep has to be Level 3) and yet their most problematic Talent by far is Infernal Exchange, a Talent that Fear bars them from actually using. (Interestingly, they can use Charm while under Fear, even though its primary usage is a non-attacking effect) 

Leveling it is probably a waste of Crystals, however, as it's rare you'll need enemies afraid for very long, and even if you want it at 3 turns Intellect scaling on buff duration will handle that without burning Magic Crystals. The spell is basically perfectly functional at Level 1.


Doom
Crystal Cost: 4 / 8 / 12
Mana Cost: 20 / 20 / 20
Level 1 Statistics: Target's Level: 1-2; Duration: 2 turns
Level 2 Statistics: Target's Level: 1-3; Duration: 3 turns
Level 3 Statistics: Target's Level: 1-4; Duration: 4 turns

Afflicts a single enemy unit with Doom, which causes all attacks against them to be critical hits.

Doom is this weird spell that seems like it should have a use, that nonetheless I've never been able to justify actually casting. Like, yeah, automatic crits is automatically high damage, but the Mana cost is intense and there's just plain better options for achieving a similar effect. Plague slashing HP and Defense, for example, has basically the exact same utility, only then you can still get a critical hit on top of those effects if you're lucky, and Plague doesn't have finicky Level requirements limiting it, doesn't require gobs of Mana, and can actually spread around to cripple the entire enemy team!

If it was cheaper, it might see some use on the Warrior, at least, as something to stack on once you've run out of other relevant buffs/debuffs, but as-is... it's difficult to justify it, and in fact I personally always breath a sigh of relief when Evil Gremlins elect to waste their turn casting Doom instead of something actually threatening.

At least its cost doesn't increase as you upgrade it.


Weakness
Crystal Cost: 5 / 5 / 20
Mana Cost: 5 / 5 / 20
Level 1 Statistics: Duration: 2 turns
Level 2 Statistics: Duration: 3 turns
Level 3 Statistics: Mass; Duration: 3 turns

Affected units always roll minimum damage. Weakness cannot affect Undead or inorganic units.

Note that Weakness only applies to 'base damage'. If a unit uses a Talent? Unaffected, even if it's something like Smashing Blow or Ice Arrow that you're liable to think of as a modification to the base attack, not a separate attack outright.

As such, I'm not particularly fond of Weakness. Most of the most threatening units tend to have tight damage ranges and/or do a lot of their damage via Talents, limiting its utility a lot, even before you get into how many units are outright immune to it. The units it's actually useful against -things like generic melee units- are usually units you should be doing something else too, honestly.

It's passably useful at Level 3, since reducing damage from the entire enemy army can actually be very useful in, for instance, Keeper fights, but below that it's very difficult to justify using it over some other, more useful Spell.


Sheep
Crystal Cost: 8 / 16 / 24
Mana Cost: 30 / 35 / 40
Level 1 Statistics: Target's Level: 1-2
Level 2 Statistics: Target's Level: 1-3
Level 3 Statistics: Target's Level: 1-4

Converts a single target enemy into a sheep for 2 turns, preventing it from attacking, counter-attacking, or using Talents, disabling access to Abilities, and normalizing movement type. Additionally, a Sheep-ed unit is not under player control.

Remember: if you're targeting a lower-level unit, make sure to cast the lower-level version of Sheep to save Mana. (You do this by holding down Shift or Control: Shift is 1 Level down, Control is 2 Levels down)

The duration does not scale with Intellect, note.

Sheep is basically the ultimate disable, rendering a unit completely useless except as a blockade, which requires luck with their random movement anyway. It's also painfully expensive, Level-locked, and in particular will never be able to target Level 5 units, which means its actual utility is surprisingly low.

Its biggest advantage is that it's a complete lockdown that leaves the target open to being attacked without removing the lock. Blinding a Griffin is fine if you intend to ignore it entirely. It's not so fine if you're wanting to nuke it at fast as possible. That's where Sheep can be valuable. If, for example, you've managed to whittle the enemy army down to one stack, but that one stack is still heinously oversized, Sheep!... though honestly if you've got the Mana for Sheep at that point, something odd is probably going on.

Regardless, one very notable advantage to Sheep is that it also disables all evasion Abilities. Tired of a Dryad dodging your forces? Sheep it!

Ultimately Sheep is most significant for the fact that Evil Gremlins love to spam it, and they don't care about Mana. This encourages you to use higher-Level units when doing Keeper fights, or at least to ensure your lower-Level units are contributing the least to the battle, so that when they get Sheeped it's not crippling your forces.


Sacrifice
Crystal Cost: 3 / 7 / 15
Mana Cost: 10 / 20 / 30
Level 1 Statistics: Damage: 250; Efficiency: 50%
Level 2 Statistics: Damage: 500; Efficiency: 60%
Level 3 Statistics: Damage: 750; Efficiency: 70%

Inflicts Magic damage on one allied unit to add health to a different one. The added health can increase a stack's size.

Sacrifice is a game-changer ability that allows a player, if they like, to field basically arbitrary armies even when the game isn't being obliging with the quantities of what they want to use. It can also be used as an awkward stand-in for Resurrection, when combined with other tools: maybe you want to undo a casualty on a Level 4 unit, but your Resurrection is still only Level 2. Sacrifice a lower-Level unit to boost the Level 4 unit, then Resurrect the lower-Level unit. Expensive, inefficient, but still technically an option.

Note that Sacrifice will ignore Magic resistance on the target. It's overall more accurate to think of it as typeless, though I'm retaining the mention (Derived from the actual code) because it wouldn't surprise me if there's edge-case scenarios I'm just not aware of that make sense when you know the damage type.

Also note that Sacrifice can't target summons. You can't use them as Sacrifice fodder, and you can't bolster them with Sacrifice.

Sacrifice can be used on and to benefit Undead, but it can only transfer from Undead to Undead. In other words, you can Sacrifice an Ancient Vampire stack and then have them leech the casualties away as a bit of an exploit, but only if the beneficiary is a Black Knight stack or something. This helps constrict the exploitability of Ghosts, Cursed Ghosts, Vampires, and Ancient Vampires in conjunction with Sacrifice, without completely eliminating the option. It's one of many factors that contribute to Undead feeling like a distinctive faction outright! It's also basically 'making up' for the fact that you can't Resurrect Undead, which is part of why it's not particularly obnoxious on a design level: yes, it's an 'exploit', but with non-Undead armies you could mostly just cast Resurrect directly with far less hassle and with a less constrictive army setup. So it's not really much of an exploit.

One of the coolest uses for Sacrifice is combining it with stealing enemy units: Hypnosis or Charm an enemy, then Sacrifice them to bolster one of your own stacks. Sacrifice's damage is fairly ridiculous (250 damage per Level to a single target? There's no single-target damage Spell that's competitive with that, Armageddon scales worse and hurts allies...), so it's not only a way to generate troops for 'free' but it's also surprisingly effective at just functioning as basically a damage Spell. The main flaw with this use of Sacrifice is that effects that take control of enemies long enough for a Sacrifice are generally Leadership-scaled, and the further you get in the game the more the game has to rely on oversized foes to actually challenge the player. As such, you'll generally have to soften the target up first, often to the point that it wouldn't be much of a danger anyway. So it's really primarily about generating troops than it is about killing enemy troops. Especially since you could just throw the stolen unit at the enemy to be killing enemy units.

Regardless, Sacrifice is a great, fun Spell with a lot of utility that you don't just mindlessly spam to win fights. It's one of my favorite Spells in the game, on a design level.


Necro Call
Crystal Cost: 5 / 10 / 20
Mana Cost: 10 / 20 / 30
Level 1 Statistics: Total Health: 500
Level 2 Statistics: Total Health: 1000
Level 3 Statistics: Total Health: 1500

Animates a single humanoid corpse as a friendly Undead unit. In addition to Necro Call's health limit, the actual headcount caps the production in an intuitive way: a stack that began life as 5 units cannot generate 500 units just because your Mage's Necro Call can theoretically do so; it can only generate 5.

Necro Call's in-game description is fairly misleading. It suggests you can only use it on your own troops, when in fact no such restriction is in place, and on the other hand completely leaves out that not every unit can be reanimated in the first place. It's actually fairly complicated to get into Necro Call's full behavior.

Here's what the .txt file lays out:

skeleton=,sprite,dryad,werewolf,druid,sprite_lake,robber,peasant,footman,goblin2,goblin,robber2,pirat,pirat2,skeleton,
archer=,elf,elf2,bowman,archer,
spider_undead=,spider,spider_venom,spider_fire,spider_undead,
zombie=,werewolf,druid,wolf,robber,footman,zombie,miner,orc2,barbarian,orc,
zombie2=,footman2,zombie2,dwarf,cannoner,alchemist,catapult,barbarian2,ogre,orc2
ghost=,druid,griffin,ghost,alchemist,giant,hyena,catapult,bear,graywolf
ghost2=,ghost2,bear_white,bear2,ogre,shaman,unicorn2,unicorn,giant
vampire=,bat,werewolf,horseman,knight,vampire,footman2,pirat2,priest,priest2
vampire2=,bat2,archmage,vampire2
blackknight=,horseman,knight,blackknight
necromant=,druid,archmage,necromant
bonedragon=,bonedragon,greendragon,blackdragon,reddragon

'Necromant' is Necromancer. ;Footman' is Swordsmen, and by extension 'Footman2' is Guardsmen. The rest are fairly guessable if you've paid attention.

If you want a more readable version, it can be loosely summarized as:

Undead: Arise as the same unit type, Health limit allowing. (eg if your Health limit is less than a Bone Dragon's Health, casting Necro Call on a Bone Dragon stack will raise it as something like a humanoid Skeleton stack instead)

Holy units (ie Priests and Inquisitors): Enemy ones will come back as they were under enemy control. (Allied ones will be animated in an Undead unit under your control)

Dragons (Red Dragons, Emerald Green Dragons, Black Dragons): Arises as a Bone Dragon stack.

Valid non-humanoid units and some 'complicated' units (eg Shaman, Catapults): Arises as Ghosts or Cursed Ghosts.

Spiders (Cave Spiders, Venomous Spiders, and Fire Spiders): Arises as Undead Spiders.

Archers (Elves, Hunters, and Bowmen): Skeleton Archer.

Horseman and Knights: Black Knights.

Mages (Druids and Archmages): Necromancers.

All the other humanoids: Zombies, Decaying Zombies, Skeletons.

Curiously, all Demons are impossible to Necro Call. More intuitively, all Plants are invalid choices as well. There's also some weird cases like Beholders and Devilfish having no options at all, not even Ghosts or Cursed Ghosts. 

Necro Call is one of two scaling summoning Spells in The Legend, which is to say it's one of two options that don't suck. It's... still not great, unfortunately, as the need to target a corpse means you can generally only make use of it at the point that a battle is winding down. The variability of what gets summoned actually isn't too bad, because A: most Undead are fairly similar (melee meatshields) and B: the way you use Necro Call is generally going to be to use the units to absorb punishment, not to leverage key Talents or the like. Much more relevant is that there's entire formations of units that are impossible to target with Necro Call, making it even more unreliable.

In theory you can support Necro Call through summoners, but your options are super-limited: the only unit that can summon units that leave behind a Necro Call-valid corpse are Druids! And Druids only get one charge of this Talent and Bears can only become Ghosts, which don't leave behind a corpse. (You can reanimate the same corpse over and over, so long as there is a corpse) It's actually kind of thematically appropriate, in a way, given that The Legend establishes that Elves invented necromancy in this setting, but it still means Necro Call is difficult to make reasonably relevant.

I do like the idea of Necro Call, but for the moment it's not particularly practical. Sadly, it's arguably the best summoning Spell available to the player.

Speaking of...



Demon Portal
Crystal Cost: 5 / 9 / 16
Mana Cost: 15 / 25 / 35
Level 1 Statistics: Level 2-3; Troop Leadership: 700
Level 2 Statistics: Level 2-4; Troop Leadership: 1400
Level 3 Statistics: Level 3-5; Troop Leadership: 2100

Generates a portal at an arbitrary location of the caster's choice, which occupies the tile, blocking other units from entering. The following turn, the portal is replaced by a stack of Demon units, randomly selected from the types within the level range given.

The level limit works out to:

Spell Level 1: Imps, Scoffer Imps, and Cerberi.

Spell Level 2: As above, but gain all Demon units aside from Archdemons.

Spell Level 3: Add in Archdemons, but remove Imps and Scoffer Imps.

So basically if you're hoping for Archdemons, Level 3 is your only option, while if you'd like either Imp type avoid the third level.

Note that the unit spawned by Demon Portal is completely outside your control. This usually isn't a huge problem, but if it generates a Demoness it can lead to them 'helpfully' using Infernal Exchange (Whoops, now an enemy unit is in the middle of your vulnerable ranged units!), while Imps and Scoffer Imps pay zero attention to the possibility of friendly fire when hurling their Fireballs. As such, Demon Portal is a Spell I have difficulty recommending actually using. Unfortunately, it's also the only summon Spell in The Legend that actually scales and can be used on demand (because Necro Call needs a corpse, after all), so if you're unwilling to turn to unit-based options (eg Royal Thorns) you don't have any other choices.

At Level 1 Demon Portal is easy to work around by just not letting your units be nearby enemy units, blunting the friendly fire risk, but in the long haul if you're not leveling Demon Portal you won't have enough Leadership generated for the force to be all that useful. It's tolerable to use Level 2 instead of Level 3 (2/3rds Leadership hurts, but isn't so bad), but dropping down to Level 1 is just painful. So if you luck into Demon Portal early on (This happens, though it's rare) consider having some fun with it while it's still reasonably okay as a Spell.

By far the most interesting property of Demon Portal is that the portal is a nearly completely inviolate obstacle once set. It can be flown over, but it can't be destroyed or in fact interacted with at all, making it a situationally useful way to stall when chokepoints get involved. Some of the endgame battlefields involve 1-tile wide chokepoints, so that's more relevant than you might think!

It's probably thematically appropriate that Demon Portal is a dubious Spell on the basis of your summoned Demons not really having your best interests at heart, but it still means the Spell is a bit niche.

One last oddity of Demon Portal: a side is considered to still be 'in the game' if a Demon Portal is waiting to spawn. This is not true in any of the later games. It's a fairly niche situation overall, demanding you're either fighting a Hero who uses Demon Portal or are, yourself, attempting to stall with Demon Portal while the rest of your army is being wiped out, but it can change your strategy to know about it.


Book of Evil
Crystal Cost: 3 / 6 / 9
Mana Cost: 15 / 20 / 30
Level 1 Statistics: Summons: Book of Evil, Level 3
Level 2 Statistics: Summons: Book of Evil, Level 4
Level 3 Statistics: Summons: Book of Evil, Level 5

Generates a friendly Book of Evil adjacent to an allied stack, which has a Talent that allows it to cast random spells. The Book can recharge this Talent by consuming allied stacks.

Note that Book of Evil doesn't scale its Leadership or something. You summon a stack with exactly one member, period. Unlike the similar summons we'll be seeing later, though, Book of Evil lets you summon as many Books of Evils as you can fit on the battlefield.

Let's have some actual stats!


Book of Evil (Level 3)
Level: 3
Leadership: 1
Attack/Defense: 15 / 15
Initiative/Speed: 3 / 2
Health: 200
Damage: 20-50 Physical
Resistances: 50% Poison, 80% Magic, -100% Fire
Talents: Random Spell, Drain (Charge: 1. Only appears when out of charges for Random Spell. Can consume a friendly unit of 400 or less Leadership to add 2 charges to Random Spell. This can go over Random Spell's charge cap)
Abilities: Powerful Spells (The Book of Evil casts Level 1 Spells), Magic Immunity (80% Magic resistance and immunity to Spells), Immune to Mind Spells (Immunity to mental effects), Vulnerable to Fire (-100% Fire resistance)

The Book of Evil also has a lot of qualities the game doesn't allude to, at least not clearly. In addition to Drain, the Book of Evil can recharge Random Spell by initiating an attack on an enemy unit (Counterattacks don't count, sadly, and unlike Drain it can't go over the charge limit of 1), and the Book itself is lifeless, being impossible to heal or leach health from, in spite of lacking an explicit trait for such. While even the highest-level Book of Evil will eventually struggle to stay relevant in fights, due to it becoming increasingly difficult to recharge Random Spell without either being wiped out by retaliations or having to actually consume a small allied stack, there's a good chunk of the game where it can actually be decently useful, if obnoxiously random. It's actually viable in the Giant Spider fight, for example, since the Giant Spider's summons all do Poison damage.

Random Spell itself is somewhat 'intelligent'. For instance, if you aim it at a Boss, it will only ever pick a direct attacking spell, never wasting a charge on a debuff, since Bosses are immune to those. I think it will also avoid casting a debuff on a unit that the unit is already afflicted with and I know for a fact it won't waste the charge by (failing at) casting Weakness on Undead or the like, but that it's still fundamentally very random. It's particularly frustrating since it rolls together 'negative effects' and 'damaging Spells': if it always did a random Spell of one of those two categories, it would be unpredictable its exact effects but you'd have a decent idea of what it would do.

If its list was just attacking spells, for instance, it would be a lot more consistently useful and predictable, at which point its primary theoretical use -extending your Mana by virtue of the Book casting attacking spells repeatedly, for a total of more Mana than it cost to make the Book- would actually be fairly worthwhile to pursue. I've found it fairly useful for fighting the Giant Spider and to a lesser extent the Kraken, for example, because there the Book can charge off of weak summoned stacks of Devilfish/Venomous Spiders, and then I'll always be assured they inflict damage if I aim Random Spell at a boss. The worst problem was struggling to avoid being wiped by high-level Lightning bounces -I once beat the Giant Spider with fairly low casualties, if you ignored the part where 2-and-a-half of my stacks got utterly murdered by unluckily timed Lightnings.

In other circumstances, there's just no guarantee it'll do anything useful at all, and then you'll probably not get a second chance to roll the metaphorical dice.

It's somewhat sad, too, because it actually does more damage with a damaging Spell of a given Level than the player would do if they cast it directly. I'm not sure the mechanics, but it's quite clear it takes the player's Intellect and probably gear and then slaps on an additional boost to boot, and it's a fairly big boost, so much so that in testing I had moments of wondering if the Book was actually casting the next Spell Level up or something.

Also note that all the damaging Spells that Random Spell can call are Spells targeted at a unit or tile. Random Spell can roll stuff like Fireball, but not Geyser or Armageddon. Curiously, I've never seen it cast Kamikaze. I'm not sure the exact list, and in particular I'm not sure if later games bother to update the list to include the new Spells.


Book of Evil (Level 4)
Level: 4
Leadership: 1
Attack/Defense: 20 / 20
Initiative/Speed: 4 / 2
Health: 400
Damage: 30-75 Physical
Resistances: 50% Poison, 80% Magic, -100% Fire
Talents: Random Spell (Charge: 1. Casts a random damaging spell or negative effect on a random enemy), Drain (Charge: 1. Only appears when out of charges for Random Spell. Can consume a friendly unit of 400 or less Leadership to add 2 charges to Random Spell. This can go over Random Spell's charge cap)
Abilities: Powerful Spells (The Book of Evil casts Level 2 spells), Magic Immunity (80% Magic resistance and immunity to Spells), Immune to Mind Spells (Immunity to mental effects), Vulnerable to Fire (-100% Fire resistance)

The basic Book of Evil, but with twice the Health, around 50% more Damage, and a bit more Attack and Defense. And it's a higher Level, though its suite of immunities mean there's not much this matters with.

This is the biggest boost in the Book of Evil's potential utility overall, but it's also the biggest increase in its problems. The basic Book of Evil is low-risk: so long as you don't have any units adjacent to whatever you target with Random Spell, the only 'bad' scenario is the Spell being more or less worthless. With this tier, now its Lightning casts will bounce, which can go quite far and inflict appalling amounts of damage to your own troops. The general unreliability of Book of Evil is frustrating, but having it occasionally killing your own troops outright makes it even harder to justify actually taking the risk.

Which is too bad, since the doubling of Health dramatically increases the portion of the game that the Book of Evil is actually able to get Random Spell charges out of enemies without basically instantly dying.


Book of Evil (Level 5)
Level: 5
Leadership: 1
Attack/Defense: 25 / 25
Initiative/Speed: 5 / 2
Health: 600
Damage: 50-120 Physical
Resistances: 50% Poison, 80% Magic, -100% Fire
Talents: Random Spell, Drain (Charge: 1. Only appears when out of charges for Random Spell. Can consume a friendly unit of 400 or less Leadership to add 2 charges to Random Spell. This can go over Random Spell's charge cap)
Abilities: Powerful Spells (The Book of Evil casts Level 3 Spells), Magic Immunity (80% Magic resistance and immunity to Spells), Immune to Mind Spells (Immunity to mental effects), Vulnerable to Fire (-100% Fire resistance)

A 50% increase in Health, an around 50% increase in Damage, and some more Attack and Defense. Oh, and the Initiative the previous tier gained.

This is, of course, the most powerful Book of Evil, but unless you pushed hard for Chaos 3 it's entirely possible that even this Book of Evil is too fragile to get much use by the time you've actually unlocked it, and it's further hampered by how the Level 3 Spell costs 30 Mana. There's not that many Spells that cost that much or more in the first place, and since it's increasingly difficult to get more than one Random Spell use out of a Book of Evil as you advance through the game, that means you're basically guaranteed to be behind what you'd have gotten if you'd cast the resulting Spell yourself. Even considering that Book of Evil has a huge boost in effectiveness, it's not so huge that, for example, it calling Ghost Blade will be more powerful than you casting 3 Ghost Blades directly.

Unfortunately, in the end Book of Evil's biggest problem is that it's that rare Spell that doesn't scale to Intellect, doesn't effectively 'auto-scale' (Sheep's effectiveness is the same regardless of stack size, for example) and doesn't scale some other way. (Some Spells actually scale to your Leadership) It's not until Armored Princess, or more precisely its standalone expansion Crossworlds, that summons of this particular sort became good.

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One interesting element to me about The Legend is how it uses relatively abstract/conceptual organizations for its Spells. It's especially interesting because of how this ends up hooking into other elements, though there's some odd ways it plays out. In any event, Chaos, Order, and Distortion collectively make for a pretty decent conceptual set with no significant gaps.

Chaos Magic is king of damage output, with a secondary focus on hostile effects. At the moment it only has one buff, and that buff is a relatively poor one compared to the competition in Order and to a lesser extent Distortion, and damage-wise its king of the combination of lethality and control. (Which is sort of funny, given the name) Order's Lightning is, when you get good rolls, competitive on raw damage, but getting use out of it without hurting your own is tricky, and Order's other damage Spells are basically just worse than anything Chaos can do in raw damage. Distortion only has two Spells where you can just deliver damage on a moment's notice, and Geyser is painfully expensive and does poor damage on a given target while Ghost Blade is only really good at the third Level and even then is inferior to Chaos' raw damage output, relying on its ability to bypass resistances to stay relevant. Chaos can do that against most targets just by using Fireball on Physically resistant targets and Ice Snake on Fire resistant targets -only a handful of units are decently resistant to both.

Chaos Magic is least useful for utility effects in general. Sacrifice is huge, but outside of Sacrifice you're generally either killing things or making a thing less problematic, not leapfrogging units about or stopping a unit in its tracks or forcing it to behave a certain way that suits your ends.

Curiously, Chaos Magic is pretty clearly connected to the Might class. It costs a decent amount of Might Runes, and of course its Skill icon is red, vs Order's blue and Distortion's green. This is one of the strange cases of interconnectivity, because Chaos Magic is actually not very useful to the Warrior overall -the damaging Spells will be too weak, while the effects more oriented to supporting an army are too Mana-intensive. Worse yet, it's the most 'advanced' Spell sphere, which means it's actually painfully difficult for the Warrior to acquire, since they have to push through multiple other Magic Skills to get to it, when Magic Runes are in short supply for the Warrior.

On the other hand, that may be intended to emphasize class features from the opposite direction: Chaos Magic is very much the Mage's Spell sphere in actual practice, and this means that the Mage ends up burning what few Might Runes they have on it, and so too on the Destruction Skill to maximize the effectiveness of their Spell nuking, leaving them with very few Might Runes to spare on actual Might Skills. The Warrior actually finds it easier to break into Magic than the Mage does into Might, because only one Might Skill burns Magic Runes at all (And it's high in the Skill tree, too), and overall the Mind tree tends to lean more toward Mind+Might than Mind+Magic, while the Mage and Warrior's Rune gains mirror each other. (That is, the Warrior gains as many Might Runes as the Mage gains Magic Runes, and the Mage gains as many Might Runes as the Warrior gains Magic Runes) So the Mage has even fewer Might Runes to spare than that, since they're probably purchasing Mind Skills to boot.

Though I've always wondered why Chaos is called Chaos. Is it meant to be evoking chaos as in destruction, the disordering of a system, to allude to the focus on nuking things? And similarly I've never been quite sure what to make of Necro Call being in the sphere. Certainly it doesn't fit in Order (Since Order has a sub-element of not playing nice with 'unnatural' beings), but I'm not sure why it isn't in Distortion instead. (Which is all about manipulating things in esoteric ways to produce abnormal behavior)

Of course, this may be in part a consequence of the game having been made by Russians. I'm overall impressed with the English of whoever all wrote the .txt files, but there's moments where you can tell the people involved weren't native English speakers, even ignoring the actual Cyrillic comments. It may be that the Russian development team have a different understanding of the English word 'Chaos' than a native English speaker would have, or something of the sort.

In any event, I think Chaos is mostly thematically consistent, and it's definitely interesting to me some of its organizational choices (It's always surprised me that Ice Snake isn't in Order. So many games would have gone 'Order is the blue Spell sphere! Ice is blue! ICE SNAKE IS ORDER!'), and though this may be my Mage-bias showing I think it's the most interesting and well-balanced Spell sphere.

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Next time, we're covering Order Magic.

Comments

  1. "And yes, your mwahahaha abusive strategy of fielding a stack of Black Dragons and nothing else while dropping Armageddons doesn't actually work in The Legend."
    You can always use Glot's Armor on one stack of anything, then drop Armageddon. It doesn't make this spell a lot better, but we have at least something until later games.

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    1. Oh, that's actually a pretty good point, and also means you can be a bit more flexible in what to use. Archdemons or Necromancers, for example, since they both go really early in a turn and have useful qualities if you're going to do a one-unit-slot army.

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