King's Bounty Unit Analysis Part 7: Neutral Animals



As Neutral is by far the largest unit set in the game, I'm breaking Neutral up into multiple parts. For this first part, the (relatively) normal animals are up to bat.

Neutral being such a vast 'species' is one of the things that, unfortunately, undermines the racial Morale mechanics, as Neutral units do not interact with Morale by default and it's fairly uncommon for the game to try to insert such dynamics into Neutrals. (eg Emerald Dragons suffering Morale penalties for being in an army with Giants, even though Dwarves and Neutral are perfectly fine with each other as categories) Unsurprisingly, this includes that there's no mono-'race' bonus for an all-Neutral army. As such, you're best off cherrypicking the most useful Neutral units instead of stacking Neutral units -especially since there's absolutely no gear, Skills, or Companions that specifically rewards using Neutrals as an overall category.

It's interesting to me that Neutral's symbol is a paw. A bear paw missing a toe, for some reason. Weird.

Bear
Level: 3
Hiring Cost: 160
Leadership: 70
Attack/Defense: 14 / 16
Initiative/Speed: 2 / 2
Health: 60
Damage: 7-10 Physical
Resistances: -10% Fire
Talents: Running (Charge: 1. +2 Action Points)
Abilities: Critical Attack, Brutality (Doubles Attack for the next attack or until 2 turns have passed pretty much anytime damage is suffered. Enemy counterattacks are an exception), Hibernation (If the Bear fails to take any action on its turn, such as by Defending without moving or by having their turn forcibly skipped by an effect like Blind, it falls asleep. On its next turn, the 'top' member of the stack heals to full, and the turn after that they get an actual turn)

Note that a 'hidden benefit' of Hibernation is that Bears will heal anytime they're put to sleep, not just when Hibernation triggers from inactivity. This isn't a huge deal overall, in part because most of the Sleep inducing effects don't really show up until later in the game when Leadership is so high that said healing is basically irrelevant, but it's an interesting quirk.

Critical Attack is just The Legend trying to compensate for its lack of an interface element for critical hit rates. The Ability doesn't do anything, and it vanishes in the very next game, where the interface is overhauled to include critical hit rates. You can basically ignore it. (This is why I didn't bother to include a description for it)

Bears themselves are a serviceable enough melee unit in the extremely early game, but Leadership rapidly rises high enough that their high bulk stops being all that effective. Plus you'll get access to Ancient Bears fairly quickly -potentially earlier than Bears, in fact- and there basically isn't a reason to use Bears if you can use Ancient Bears. If you luck into Polar Bears, there's even less reason!

Which makes this a good time to talk about the variations/progression dynamic: it's a bit odd that The Legend does it as often as it does, because it seems like an improperly 'inherited' mechanic from the Heroes of Might and Magic series, where all standard/faction-aligned units come in two versions because they come in two tiers, which ties into mechanics like your limited resources for constructing buildings and your limit of one building for a given city per day. And you can directly upgrade the first version of a unit into its second form in those games. So in the Heroes games, there's this whole complicated thing of deciding whether you want to advance up the tech tree to new units or make your existing units better or go in some other direction entirely. (Such as improving your Heroes' spell access) The fact that some of these variations are really, really boring is fine because of how it all fits into the larger mechanics.

Whereas in The Legend, if the game doesn't give each version a notable niche/advantage/whatever, you tend to end up just using only one version and ignoring the other(s) if at all possible.

Thankfully, later entries in the series mostly don't extend this issue. They don't do a lot to fix the existing cases, either, but for the most part later additions aren't 'here's the Tier 1 version, which you'll never use if you can avoid it because the Tier 2 version outclasses it'.

(To be fair, a Paladin would rather stick to Bears early in the game because they can't Resurrect the higher Level bears initially)

Anyway, bears are as a whole are a surprisingly interesting unit dynamic, in that they're core dynamic is really basically shrugging off a surprising amount of punishment and then on their turn bringing to bear crushing damage for daring to hurt them. Brutality doesn't double their actual damage, but doubling their Attack still has a fairly notable impact on their damage, and it actually scales with your own rising Attack, making it actually more effective in the player's hands late in the game. Bears are generic 2 Speed Running melee, but they're sufficiently brutal that they're one of the options most seriously worth considering. The tendency to suffer casualties is annoying, and as enemy battlegroups increasingly outsize your forces later in the game it becomes less practical to accept a hit before dishing out damage, but there's a decent chunk of the game where they're reasonably effective. And they're fun!

As enemies, bears as a whole are simultaneously non-threats and yet one of the more problematic enemies in the game. They're trivial to slow down/lock down -Trap on first turn to waste 3 AP, then slow them down with Slow or Ice Arrows or whatever, and now it's going to take them like 6-8 turns to reach your forces- but they're sufficiently bulky and hard hitting that you may find that you stalled them for ages and then they got in range and instantly wiped an entire stack in one swipe. And as this is The Legend, you don't have much in the way of tools to wear enemies stacks down in a percentile way. Just Soul Draining, which won't show up until you're halfway through the game and which is Rage-intensive as heck if you don't arrange to keep it at 5 Rage and 20% kills. (At which point it's not killing them that fast) Of course, a critical element is what your army makeup is: an army capable of repeatedly shoving, slowing, distracting, or flying right on past the bears is one that can probably wear them down just fine. A more straightforward damage dealing army that rapidly burns down most enemy groups may find itself suffering unacceptable casualties because it's not equipped to prevent the bears from getting in to do their thing.

Hibernation is actually a disadvantage, by the way. It means that if the bears miss their turn for some reason, they're going to miss another turn. The healing is only relevant extremely early in the game, and not for long even then. This isn't too relevant in The Legend, mostly cropping up when for instance a stack of enemy bears finds itself trapped behind other units and just Defends, but it's worth pointing out regardless.

Ancient Bear
Level: 3
Hiring Cost: 240
Leadership: 80
Attack/Defense: 18 / 20
Initiative/Speed: 3 / 2
Health: 70
Damage: 9-12 Physical
Resistances: 10% Physical, -10% Fire
Talents: Running (Charge: 1. +2 Action Points)
Abilities: Critical Attack, Brutality  (Doubles Attack for the next attack or until 2 turns have passed pretty much anytime damage is suffered. Enemy counterattacks are an exception), Hibernation (If the Ancient Bear fails to take any action on its turn, such as by Waiting without moving, it falls asleep. On its next turn, the 'top' member of the stack heals to full, and the turn after that they get an actual turn)

See Bears, but Ancient Bears have a little bit of Physical resistance. This makes them that little bit more difficult to kill with most army formations, though a Mage isn't terribly impressed since their best nuking options are primarily the Fire damage Spells all bears are weak to anyway.

It's also worth commentary that Ancient Bears, unusually for this kind of tier progression, are actually more Health per Leadership than Bears. Usually the lower tier unit is at least more Health for the Leadership, and thus takes longer to completely wipe out. Nope, Bears are just horribly inferior, and so too on Damage.

Polar Bear
Level: 4
Hiring Cost: 540
Leadership: 150
Attack/Defense: 22 / 26
Initiative/Speed: 4 / 2
Health: 120
Damage: 12-22 Physical
Resistances: 10% Physical, -10% Fire
Talents: Running (Charge: 1. +2 Action Points)
Abilities: Critical Attack, Brutality  (Doubles Attack for the next attack or until 2 turns have passed pretty much anytime damage is suffered. Enemy counterattacks are an exception), Hibernation (If the Polar Bear fails to take any action on its turn, such as by Waiting without moving, it falls asleep. On its next turn, the 'top' member of the stack heals to full, and the turn after that they get an actual turn), Resistant to Cold (Takes 25% less damage from 'cold' damage sources, cannot be Frozen, and snowy battlefields increase Defense by 50%)

See Bears and Ancient Bears, mostly.

Resistant to Cold protects Polar Bears from Ice Arrows on Bowmen, the Ice Snake Spell, and the Geyser Spell. That's... it. The Freeze status can also only be inflicted by those. In practice this means Polar Bears being resistant to cold is nearly irrelevant for the player's purposes (Unless you're lucky enough to have a good enough source for Kordar, where snowy battlefield are common on the surface) while enemy Polar Bears are... well, they can be annoying, especially for a Mage who has largely moved on to Ice Snake as mostly superior to Fireball and here's there Polar Bears making that not true. If you're using Bowmen and not paying attention, it can also be frustrating to suddenly realize that wait you shouldn't have fired the Ice Arrow at the Polar Bears even though that's the correct thing to do on the other two bears.

Still, Polar Bears are mostly just... Bears and Ancient Bears, But More So.

Cave Spider
Level: 1
Hiring Cost: 24
Leadership: 14
Attack/Defense: 4 / 4
Initiative/Speed: 2 / 3
Health: 14
Damage: 2-4 Physical
Resistances: 20% Physical, -10% Fire
Talents: Web (Charge: 1. Ensnares an adjacent target with a web for 2 turns, preventing the unit from leaving its current tile or using Talents that involve moving)
Abilities: Underground (+50% Attack if the battle is occurring underground), Stone Skin (20% Physical resistance)

Cave Spiders are a bit of an odd unit in that they're technically an unusual combination of speed and durability (1:1 Leadership to Health plus modest Physical resistance, on a unit with 3 Speed), but the result manages to be lackluster instead of impressive. They can be annoying as enemies, if your army is primarily Physical damage (Which it probably is) and you're not a Mage, but their poor Initiative and susceptibility to basically any effect you care to name makes it easy to trivialize them. Fear, for example, will render them completely irrelevant for 2 turns unless your own army includes a Level 1 unit (And honestly, it probably doesn't), while Traps can be used to delay them, etc etc. The Mage in particular just drops Fireballs on them until they're dead. Not helping things is that Cave Spiders are mostly an early game foe, and so don't get much opportunity to be a massively oversized stack well beyond your army's ability to rapidly kill.

As player units, Cave Spiders are hampered by being basically a generic melee unit. Paladins might consider running them early in the game, I guess, but there's a number of other options that aren't basically guaranteed to suffer casualties every time they fight at that stage of the game and that can still be Resurrected (eg Swordsmen) so it seems like a stretch. About the only thing they have going for them is Web, and an option for immobilizing an enemy that only works in melee and is being used by a unit with 2 Initiative is pretty awful. If you're interested, Fire Spiders have 2 charges of Web, six Initiative, and are bulkier and still in range for a Level 1 Resurrection to undo casualties.

It's really too bad the later games don't make any effort to make Cave Spiders more relevant. I like their design and I like the idea of them, but... they're so bleh as units it doesn't really matter.

Venomous Spider
Level: 1
Hiring Cost: 20
Leadership: 12
Attack/Defense: 5 / 1
Initiative/Speed: 4 / 3
Health: 10
Damage: 2-3 Poison
Resistances: 80% Poison, -10% Fire
Talents: None
Abilities: Venomous (30% chance for melee attacks to Poison for 3 turns), Immune to Poison (80% Poison resistance, cannot be Poisoned)

They have higher Initiative than Cave Spiders, but in The Legend it's basically accurate to say they're 100% worse otherwise. (Inflicting Poison is nearly worthless, and Immune to Poison is honestly less useful in most situations than 20% Physical resistance) More importantly, Royal Snakes blow them out of the water in every way. Venomous Spiders would be terrible even if Royal Snakes didn't exist, but since they do exist, there's no real argument for using Venomous Spiders. Heck, there's a Companion that boosts spider damage... and snake damage, whoops never mind. If you are considering Venomous Spiders, just field Fire Spiders.

The only way any of this is really going to change is that Venomous Spiders will be even worse off relative to their competition, in later games.

As enemies, Venomous Spiders are laughable. I covered the problems with Undead Spiders and Cave Spiders already, and Venomous Spiders have all those problems while also being hampered by their Poison damage type being the single most widely resisted damage type in the entire game. Even when Venomous Spiders manage to get into melee and make an attack, it's entirely possible they're doing nearly no damage just from that.

Fire Spider
Level: 2
Hiring Cost: 60
Leadership: 30
Attack/Defense: 12 / 12
Initiative/Speed: 6 / 3
Health: 27
Damage: 4-5 Physical
Resistances: 50% Poison, 25% Fire
Talents: Web (Charges: 2. Ensnares an adjacent target with a web for 2 turns, preventing the unit from leaving its current tile or using Talents that involve moving)
Abilities: Poison Protection (50% Poison resistance), Fire Resistance (25% Fire resistance), Immune to Mind Spells (Immunity to mental effects)

The closest thing to a good spider in The Legend, and Fire Spiders are... actually decent enough to be worth filling a slot in the very early game. For one thing, they're one of your few early game options for resisting Fire Dragonflies, and for another their high Initiative and decent Speed backed by two Web charges means they're actually decently able to support a ranged-focused army. Just make sure to take advantage of Wait so you can drop a Web and then back off before the target gets a turn.

As enemies they're more notable. That Fire resistance is a rare thing in the early game, and makes them especially annoying to a Mage who's trying to just Fireball everything to death, but their combination of traits is also surprisingly helpful to them. You can't Fear them to trivialize them, thanks to their immunity to mental effects, that monstrous 6 Initiative means it's entirely possible they'll outspeed your entire army, making it more difficult to eg stall them with Traps, their resistance to Poison can be surprisingly annoying if things have worked out such that Sleem's Poison Cloud is your current nuke effect... the only notable point against them is that the AI really doesn't understand how to use Web, and basically anytime they use it is a situation where you'd have been less happy with them making an attack or closing in on your ranged forces or whatever.

Snake
Level: 1
Hiring Cost: 70
Leadership: 30
Attack/Defense: 14 / 8
Initiative/Speed: 5 / 2
Health: 28
Damage: 3-6 Physical
Resistances: 50% Poison
Talents: Lunge (Reload: 1. Attacks a single target across an empty tile, doing 4-7 Physical damage and Stunning the target)
Abilities: Poison Protection (50% Poison resist)

Lunge is an amazing Talent that allows Snakes to single-handedly kite 2-Speed melee enemies all by themselves, and does a lot to justify using Snakes for quite a portion of the game, especially if you're lucky enough to find the Snake Boots, which bump them up to the 3 Speed they really desperately want. Stun is also an incredibly useful effect, lowering the target's Speed and Initiative by 1 while also locking out access to Talents, which among other points lets Snakes cleanly win against Swamp Snakes, Robbers, and Marauders, all of whom 'should' be able to retaliate even while down to 1 Speed, but won't actually due to the Stun. (Royal Snakes are fast enough to still attack if there isn't another Speed penalty involved) This can also let Snakes get in damage on Running units that haven't Run yet and still be safe, and of course block assorted unpleasant/obnoxious Talents like Barbarians Berserking, Hyenas using Preparations, etc. Critically, Snakes have no competition for inflicting Stun repeatedly and safely. The only other unit that can inflict Stun on demand is the Cyclops, and it only gets 1 charge and has to be in point-blank melee. (While having the same Speed as Snakes and with no external support equivalent to Snake Boots) As such, even though Snakes are pretty lackluster outside of Lunge, Lunge secures their place on the battlefield.

As enemies, Snakes are much less notable. Their AI can be exploited (It's a lot easier to predict where a Snake will move to Lunge to than usual melee movement predictions as there's usually exactly 1 spot they can reach to Lunge a given unit, and they're obsessive about going for a Lunge if they can), they don't have the potential for movement support in AI hands, and the AI doesn't make anything like a long-term plan so Snakes aren't generally trying to run down your units that would most hate a Stun. Furthermore, Stun cannot be inflicted on a Level 5 unit, and since the player is so strongly incentivized to use higher Leadership units to avoid casualties they may well have incidental Stun immunity on their meatshield with no specific intention of pursuing that immunity.

I like Snakes. They're one of the better-designed examples of a unit variation dynamic.

Swamp Snake
Level: 2
Hiring Cost: 60
Leadership: 28
Attack/Defense: 12 / 8
Initiative/Speed: 4 / 2
Health: 25
Damage: 3-5 Poison
Resistances: 80% Poison
Talents: Lunge (Reload: 1. Attacks a single target across an empty tile, doing 4-6 Poison damage and Poisoning the target)
Abilities: Venomous (30% chance for melee attacks to Poison for 3 turns), Immune to Poison (80% Poison resistance and cannot be Poisoned)

Swamp Snakes are godawful and you should only use them if you're running heavy snake support and are still early enough in the game that your options are genuinely limited. The fact that they do Poison damage is their only 'positive' compared to Royal Snakes, and most of the time you're better off using Royal Snakes and accepting that Physical resistance is an issue. If you do want a Poison damage attacker -Poison is the only damage type that dragons don't resist at all- there's tons of better options, like Alchemists, Bone Dragons...

As enemies, Swamp Snakes are even more underwhelming, as it's easy to bait the AI into having them attack eg your Royal Snakes, making an already lackluster unit even more underwhelming.

And it's only going to get worse for Swamp Snakes from here.

Royal Snake
Level: 3
Hiring Cost: 220
Leadership: 60
Attack/Defense: 18 / 18
Initiative/Speed: 6 / 3
Health: 52
Damage: 6-10 Physical
Resistances: 10% Physical, 80% Poison
Talents: Lunge (Reload: 1. Attacks a single target across an empty tile for 8-11 Physical damage, and Poisons the target)
Abilities: No retaliation, Venomous (30% chance for melee attacks to Poison for 3 turns), Immune to Poison (80% Poison resistance and cannot be Poisoned)

Royal Snakes are an amazing unit all-around, available from quite early in the game and yet potentially viable all the way into the end! Their high Initiative and good Speed, backed by Lunge and No Retaliation, lets them freely inflict damage on numerous unit types without ever letting them have a chance to fight back, they're high enough Leadership/bulk for their Leadership to be able to outright tank some damage without casualties early in the game (Even aside their actual resistances) yet low enough Leadership to be usable the instant you find a shop for them, guaranteed, their Level is high enough to protect them from a number of effects that punish low Level (eg Paralyzing Ray) and yet low enough they're still easily in reach for beneficial effects (eg Resurrection), and they even get special support (eg Snake Boots) to make them still better.

They're one of my favorite units in the entire game and usually end up finding their place onto my army in The Legend and all following games for at least a time.

As enemies, they're impressive but not maddening. The qualities that make them so amazing in the player's hands are slightly less so in the AI's hands (The AI won't try to force them to fight your Poison attackers, and you're not stupid like the AI is anyway, for example), but they're still for example protected from Level 1 Blind, fast enough to cross the battlefield alarmingly quickly (While Lunge means they can do damage a turn earlier than other 3 Speed units like Guardsmen), durable enough you can't just nuke them down before they get in range... I quite like them as enemies, for presenting a challenge without feeling even a little unfair.

Wolf
Level: 2
Hiring Cost: 60
Leadership: 30
Attack/Defense: 10 / 6
Initiative/Speed: 3 / 3
Health: 15
Damage: 3-6 Physical
Resistances: -10% Fire
Talents: Wolf Cry (Charge: 1. All enemy Humans, Elves, and Dwarves of Level 1-2 are hit with Fear, and additionally have a 50% chance of skipping their next turn entirely)
Abilities: Night Sight (+50% Attack at night and/or underground), Frenzy (20% chance to inflict Frenzy for 4 turns on melee attacks. Frenzied units are hostile to all units, but the effect ends after the first time they attack something. Units immune to mental effects can't become Frenzied

So you remember Werewolves? Here's their crappy, second-rate cousin, the regular Wolf! They even have a noticeably worse Leadership-to-Health ration (Why is it 2:1? That's normally reserved for elite units or ranged units!), making them easy to kill quickly.

Of course, in actual play you'll encounter Wolves before you encounter Werewolf Elves, especially in shops, and by so large a margin it's not actually fair or accurate to say that you should just ignore Wolves and wait for Werewolf Elves. Wolves are still terrible, though, and would be even if Werewolf Elves didn't exist. And notice that Wolves are only Level 2: they aren't necessarily warding away the enemies they terrify with Wolf Cry!

As enemies, Wolves can be moderately annoying if you happen to be using an army that's widely susceptible to Wolf Cry. Something like an early-game Human-focused army. That's... about it, and honestly it's only worth commentary because the Wolves can be running alongside other, more genuinely problematic units that can exploit your army's sudden incompetence. In most respects you have more to fear from just about any other unit in the game.

As player units, they're... well, they might be worth bringing along if there's some fight made entirely of units susceptible to Wolf Cry that mass Fearing will let you beat. And you don't have Werewolf Elves yet. Otherwise?... yyyeah, Wolves are terrible.

Hyena
Level: 2
Hiring Cost: 40
Leadership: 20
Attack/Defense: 8 / 8
Initiative/Speed: 4 / 3
Health: 14
Damage: 3-4 Physical
Resistances: -10% Fire
Talents: Preparation (Reload: 1. Until next turn, the Hyena's attacks automatically all crit/ Does not end the turn)
Abilities: Night Sight (+50% Attack at night and/or underground), Scavenger (Can move up to 2 tiles beyond current movement range, if there's a corpse to move to)

Scavenger is a weird Ability. In spite of what the in-game description might lead you to believe, it can't be used to extend the Hyena's attack range, as any movement that actually benefits from Scavenger ends their turn. It just means that if, for example, you nuke a unit that moved further out than a Hyena stack can move, you may find that a Hyena stack is able to arrive a turn earlier than they normally would. It's an interesting-sounding Ability that... doesn't really matter in practice, generally speaking.

Preparation is a neat Talent, anyway. It's one of the few cases where I genuinely like how Death's Deception works. And amusingly the AI doesn't 'understand' the interaction, while AI Hyena's will obsessively use Preparation anytime they have an opportunity to make an attack, so Ancient Vampires can be used to 100% reliably stall any number of Hyenas for a turn. Speaking of AI exploitation, Hyenas in The Legend always try to use Preparation from their current position and then move, if something to attack is in range. Thus a Trap can be used to waste Preparation entirely, very reliably.

Aside the lack of Wolf Cry, Hyenas are largely superior to Wolves, and are one of the bigger reasons why you're unlikely to actually use Wolves if you're not explicitly intending to use Wolf Cry. (Frenzy is not really a reason to use Wolves over Hyenas) You'll usually get access to Hyenas reasonably early, potentially as early or even earlier than Wolves, and outside of Wolf Cry they really do just outclass Wolves, with more Health for the Leadership, higher Initiative, better Damage in practice even before you count Preparation...

As enemies, Hyenas are usually non-notable, being comparable to eg Swordsmen but easier to trivialize. If you're using a summon spam strategy (eg Royal Thorns), Hyenas can create problems by completely bypassing your front lines due to the presence of a corpse somewhere in your back line, but usually Scavenger really doesn't matter. They're also low enough Level it's easy to delay them with Blind, Fear, etc, so... yeah.

Devilfish
Level: 1
Hiring Cost: 20
Leadership: 12
Attack/Defense: 6 / 4
Initiative/Speed: 6 / 3
Health: 10
Damage: 1-3 Physical
Resistances: 20% Fire
Talents: None
Abilities: Marine (+2 Morale in naval combat), Fire Resistance (20% Fire resistance), Night Sight (+50% Attack at night and/or underground), Terrible (Chance for melee attacks to inflict Fear on the target. Victims will fail to retaliate against an attack that inflicts Fear), Critical Attack

Devilfish are primarily notable for being an early-game unit with monstrous Initiative+Speed. Except Royal Snakes are actually the same numbers while having Lunge, so Devilfish are... mostly notable for having that combination while also being a bit resistant to Fire, tending to force a Mage to actually use some of those non-Fireball Spells they're usually ignoring because who needs utility Spells when you can kill everything dead? Even Terrible is kind of like a cut-rate No Retaliation/Lunge, giving them a chance of the enemy not retaliating, assuming the target isn't immune to mental effects...

... though do note that Terrible will prevent retaliation from the target no matter its actual Level, if the Fear kicks in, even though Fear normally only prevents a unit from choosing to attack units higher Level than itself.

Devilfish can be legitimately frustrating to fight, especially for a Mage, putting a lot of pressure on the player, but they're not a very distinct unit, which is odd given they're a fish and nothing else in the game is. But since water isn't a proper battlefield element, any theoretical amphibiousness is irrelevant.

Even Marine giving them Morale doesn't matter since AI units don't get Morale.

As player units... wait, why are you using them? They don't even have support, outside of Level 1 support and the like. Just use Royal Snakes, come on.

Lake Dragonfly
Level: 1
Hiring Cost: 12
Leadership: 9
Attack/Defense: 3 / 1
Initiative/Speed: 6 / 4
Health: 6
Damage: 1-3 Poison
Resistances: 30% Magic
Talents: None
Abilities: Soaring, Weakness (Melee attacks have a 30% chance to inflict Weakness on the target for 1 turn), Magic Resistance (30% Magic resistance)

Lake Dragonflies are a lot better at pressuring the player than Devilfish are, with more Speed and Soaring making it much harder to actually delay them substantially. No Trapping them, and even Level 2 Slow is only halving their Speed, etc. Their Speed is so high, in fact, that it's fairly difficult to get something engaging such that they don't just wander off and start tearing apart your ranged attackers. As such, even though their Poison damage theoretically makes it easy to wall them -Royal Snakes will laugh them off easily- that actually isn't a strategy for trivializing them.

The Magic resistance and ability to inflict Weakness are both... uh... existent. Spell nuking mostly doesn't involve Magic damage, counter-intuitively, and most Magic damage units are A: poor at dealing damage and B: more about their utility effects anyway. (eg Archmages will be fishing for a Shock, if they're trying to attack the Lake Dragonflies at all) Inflicting Weakness, sometimes, briefly, only matters if they happen to be fighting something with a die damage range... and Weakness is entirely bypassed by critical hits anyway.

I'm sure there's some utility to using Lake Dragonflies, but I have trouble imagining what might be both a valid use for them and not beaten out by some similarly-accessible unit.

Fire Dragonfly
Level: 1
Hiring Cost: 14
Leadership: 9
Attack/Defense: 3 / 1
Initiative/Speed: 5 / 3
Health: 6
Damage: 1-3 Fire
Resistances: 30% Fire
Talents: Haste (Reload: 1. Doubles Action Points, using supply at activation. Does not end the turn)
Abilities: Soaring, Fire Resistance (30% Fire resistance)

Fire Dragonflies are like Lake Dragonflies, but they're slower to act and cover less ground (If you ignore Haste... which the AI often does)... and they're all about the Fire. This is actually a pretty big deal, as the vast majority of what few (sustainable) Fire damage attackers exist are primarily late-game units, and until you get to the late game Fire resistance is rare while Fire weakness exists. As such, Fire Dragonflies are one of the few early-game glass cannon units that has a clear, strong argument in their favor -they can be used to bypass just about every resistance early in the game (Outside of Knights and Horsemen having Fire resistance equivalent to their Physical resistance), pick up Thorns (And get minor boosts against various Undead and animals...), and even leverage Greasy Mist if you happen to luck into that early and lack better supporting Spells for whatever reason. The closest thing to early-game competition they have is that you'll get an Alchemist source, and Alchemists only get one Fire damage attack per battle.

Also note that their Haste Talent means they get extra use out of Speed boosts, whether from the Haste Spell or item-based boosts or whatever.

As enemies, Fire Dragonflies are... erratic. They can be a terrifying doomforce that rushes 6 tiles before you even get a chance to act, but they're prone to Waiting, or to using Haste and then Waiting (???), and that gives you the opportunity to fish for Shocks or the like. Since Haste uses their supply at activation, it's easier to cripple than Running is -subtract 2 Speed and Haste will only give 1 Speed, not its base 3- and of course they're not benefiting from the turn order advantage that actually having six Speed would provide. So depending on the whims of the AI -and your force composition- they can be horrifying threats or complete jokes. It's actually kind of frustrating.

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Next time, we cover the Neutral Sapients.

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