King's Bounty Rage Analysis Part 2: Sleem

Your other early-game Spirit, unlocked by feeding him some poisonous troops. Depending on how things go, it may prove more practical to get Sleem his food than to fight through Zerock's combat challenge as your first unlock.

Like Zerock, Sleem is primarily scaled to the early game, and tends to drop off in utility past that, only more dramatically so due to his quicker access to strong splash effects that in turn don't really scale well. Evil Shoal, in particular, can literally kill entire armies toward the beginning of the game, but in the long haul is a small contribution only worth noting because his other options are more flawed or, in the case of Poisonous Spit, weaker.

Like Zerock, Sleem has 45 levels of Rage skill boosting to dump into. Unlike Zerock, he doesn't have an obviously lame skill to simply ignore and thus escape any actual meaningful long-term decision making.

Poisonous Spit
Damage: 50-80
Poison Damage: 30-40
Rest: 3
Rage: 5

Hits a single target for Poison damage, and inflicts a unique Poisoned status. This poisoning lasts for 3 turns.

Note that this Poisoning stacks with regular Poison damage. It's too bad Poison damage isn't percentile yet. Admittedly, if Poison Spit's Poisoning were something like 20% damage, it would actually be far weaker at the beginning of the game. So that's a positive early on. Still, 20% damage would be astoundingly useful at the end of the game...

Also note that Poison Spit's Poisoning effect completely ignores Poison immunity on eg Royal Snakes. It's a terrible idea to target them with it because the damage will still be crippled, but they're not immune to the status effect outright. Which is particularly noteworthy early in the game, when Sleem may yet lack any non-Poison options for doing damage and you happen to be up against a battlegroup made entirely of units that normally can't be Poisoned. If nothing else, the Attack reduction is a nice little thing to be inflicting.

In the long term you'll probably basically forget Sleem has Poisonous Spit, to be honest, but at the beginning of the game it's very useful indeed.

Damage Upgrade 1: Damage: 80-110, Rage Required: +1
Damage Upgrade 2: Damage: 120-150, Rage Required: +1
Damage Upgrade 3: Damage: 170-200, Rage Required: +2
Damage Upgrade 4: Damage: 230-260, Rage Required: +2
Damage Upgrade 5: Damage: 300-330, Rage Required: +3
Damage Upgrade 6: Damage: 380-410, Rage Required: +3

The damage climbs slowly, even with it increasing the per upgrade value (Minimum goes up by 40+10 per tier, maximum is 30 above whatever the minimum is), and it's honestly too little. Getting the first few can be worth pursuing, especially really early in the game where its impact is greatest, but generally you're better off focusing on Sleem's other skills.

Poison Upgrade 1: Poison Damage: 40-60, Rage Required: +2
Poison Upgrade 2: Poison Damage: 100-120, Rage Required: +3

+10/+20 damage and then flatly +60 damage. Weird. Note that since this gets to apply effectively three times, it's actually overall better at increasing total damage output than any given direct damage upgrade.

Rest Upgrade 1: Rest: -1
Rest Upgrade 2: Rest: -1

Poison Spit really comes into its own once you can just toss it out there knowing Sleem will be usable on whatever later turn you're finally ready to fund Evil Shoal or whatever.

This is to say the Rest-downs are worth taking.

Rage Upgrade 1: Rage Required: -5
Rage Upgrade 2: Rage Required: -5

Really important if you want to keep using Poison Spit as a 'filler' move on turns you couldn't quite reach enough Rage for one of Sleem's Actually Good skills.

Final Stats
Damage: 380-410, Poison Damage: 100-120, Rest: 1, Rage Required: 12

Note that Smashing Sword only hits something like 33~% harder on immediate impact. And then Poisonous Spit will basically completely catch up once the target's turn rolls around and they take the Poisoning damage.

Smashing Sword is only reliably justifiable against mages and strongly Poison-resistant enemies. Fortunately, the latter is very common, so Zerock isn't out of a job just yet.

Cloud of Poison
Damage: 20-40
Attacks: 7
Rest: 4
Rage: 8

Creates a cloud of poison which autonomously moves and attacks every time any other unit's turn starts. This cloud is not a normal unit, consuming no space, not being targetable, and not interacting with unit stats, but it obeys unit behavioral logic in terms of for instance navigable terrain, with 1 tile of movement available to it each time it activates. Its attacks are automatic, occur in the tile the cloud 'occupies' and all surrounding tiles, occur after it moves, and are Poison typed. If it fails to hit anything, that still counts against its attack limit.

This is a bizarre, powerful little move, though with the potentially to horribly backfire if you fail to properly understand and predict the cloud's behavior. Also note that, since it goes between every single unit's turn, if you're hoping to use it as an alpha strike for tons of damage at the beginning of a fight, you should ideally stack a bunch of very high-Initiative units into your army so they'll all go before any enemies can move out of the cloud.

Conveniently, Zombie Lina and Dark Commander can be used to get some extraordinarily high Initiative units that happen to all be very resistant to Poison damage. (So if you mess up it doesn't hurt too badly)

Its actual targeting behavior is a bit frustrating: it always tries to move directly on top of a chosen target. I think it makes some effort to pick a target that will let it hit multiple units, but its obsession with being centered on a unit often leads to sub-optimal behavior. It will chase a lone melee unit that's gotten into your midst and hurt your units even though it could just move so they're at the edge of its radius, and even more frustrating is that in situations where it could hit 4 or even 5 different units if it just centered itself in the tile they're surrounding, it instead ends up only hitting 3 units because it insists on centering itself on a unit. Since it moves and then attacks, it's not possible to work around this: if you target it so it would hit 5 units if it just fired off, it will move and then hit only 3 units.

This obsession with centering on an enemy unit, more than anything else, is what limits Cloud of Poison. Its potential damage is incredible, and while its actual damage is still really good, it's frustrating how it could be so much better if its AI was slightly different, or if it was actually under your direct control. Even just being immobile would arguably make it easier to maximize its utility, since you'd get maximum control over its behavior and just need to arrange the situation to your advantage, which is a standard part of the game anyway.

Also note that the number of 'attacks' is actually the number of times it will act in general. If one of its 'turns' involves moving without hitting anything, that still eats an 'attack'.

Strangely, Gamebanshee insists Cloud of Poison starts off with 5 attacks, rather than the 7 it begins with.

Damage Upgrade 1: Damage: 30-60, Rage Required: +2
Damage Upgrade 2: Damage: 50-100, Rage Required: +3
Damage Upgrade 3: Damage: 80-160, Rage Required: +4
Damage Upgrade 4: Damage: 120-240, Rage Required: +5

Minimum damage goes up by 10+10 per level, while maximum damage is always double minimum. So for one thing it gets increasingly random as it levels up. Annoying.

Attacks Upgrade 1: Attacks: 10, Rage Required: +2
Attacks Upgrade 2: Attacks: 13, Rage Required: +2

This should probably be put off until later, if you can. Not that additional attacks don't help, but it's more useful to have damage up-front, and additional attacks makes it easier to end up with some of the attacks ending up hitting your own forces.

Just as Gamebanshee insists it starts off with fewer attacks than it actually does, it also insists it gets fewer attacks per upgrade than it actually does. Maybe there was a patch after the site got its information up?

Rest Upgrade 1: Rest: -1
Rest Upgrade 2: Rest: -1

Getting Cloud of Poison down to 2 Rest is a worthy endeavor, of course, especially since it smooths out your usage of Sleem in general.

Rage Upgrade 1: Rage Required: -5
Rage Upgrade 2: Rage Required: -5

It's really quite nice how Cloud of Poison has relatively large subtractions from its Rage costs, compared to the increases it experiences when upgrading its damage output. It gets to be a very economical source of damage.

Final Stats
Damage: 120-240, Attacks: 13, Rest: 2, Rage Required: 16

Total damage against a single target from a fully-upgraded Cloud of Poison, assuming every attack goes off: 1560-3120. Remember how Underground Blades high roll was 1210 when fully upgraded? Yeah, Cloud of Poison is an amazing source of damage. And it's cheap, too! Of course, if you want damage now, it's not so hot, and against highly mobile enemies its performance tends to suffer (Which really hurts it in the late game, as high-mobility enemies get more common as you go along), not to mention most enemy formations don't let it hit everyone at once anyway, so it's not quite as amazing as I'm making it sound, but it's still really, really good.

So long as you can avoid getting your own guys torn up by it, anyway.

The fact that it does Poison damage also limits it a bit, since so many units are heavily resistant to Poison, unfortunately... but this is actually a problem that mostly goes away as you get further in the game. Undead are spread erratically across the game, but they're overall more common early than late, Plants are common early (Thorns), get a second hurrah in the Elflands, and then go away, Cyclops are semi-common early on and crop up in one part of Kordar, and snakes and spiders are extremely common at the beginning of the game and largely go away past it. The actual late/endgame enemies are mostly neutral to Poison. So it's worth keeping Cloud of Poison in mind as you get farther along.

Evil Shoal
Damage: 150-200
Rest: 3
Rage: 15

Spawns a wave of 5 fish which spread out from the initial destination and travel from a designated empty starting location until they reach the edge of the field, attacking anything they encounter for Physical damage. A given fish can damage multiple targets. You cannot aim the wave into a tile that's impassable or currently occupied.

Evil Shoal is Sleem's bread-and-butter Rage skill for a long time after you've acquired it, being shockingly powerful if you managed to unlock Sleem quickly and focused on having him get out good damage for equally good experience gain. Eventually it loses its luster, and in fact its final price point is a bit painful, but generally that point is around when Zerock is coming into his own with Underground Blades, not to mention Lina and then Reaper are not far off.

Evil Shoal's unique strike pattern gives you a lot of flexibility and control, and against typical formations it's easy to hit the entire enemy army, in part because the fish will 'dive' underground when hitting obstacles and then pop back up on the other side. So impassable terrain is usually essentially irrelevant to Evil Shoal, contrary to what you might expect when first seeing it in action. There's finicky edge cases where you want to launch it from a tile but can't because a log is placed poorly, but this doesn't crop up often. Mostly? It's got great mechanics.

As an aside,

this is a hilariously cute little targeting effect graphic for a skill named Evil Shoal. I love it.

Damage Upgrade 1: Damage: 190-240, Rage Required: +1
Damage Upgrade 2: Damage: 230-280, Rage Required: +2
Damage Upgrade 3: Damage: 270-320, Rage Required: +3
Damage Upgrade 4: Damage: 310-360, Rage Required: +4
Damage Upgrade 5: Damage: 350-400, Rage Required: +5
Damage Upgrade 6: Damage: 400-450, Rage Required: +6

Damage goes up 40 per level, min and max, except the final level being 50 instead, presumably due to whoever wrote these numbers wanting it to end on multiples of fifty. Rage cost keeps climbing, meanwhile. It's honestly worth it if you manage to get Evil Shoal going early on, but it does mean that there's an element of  rapidly diminishing returns.

Rest Upgrade 1: Rest: -1
Rest Upgrade 2: Rest: -1

It's pretty surprising that you can get Evil Shoal down to a Rest of 1, given it's clearly intended to be Sleem's ultimate attack. (Even though Cloud of Poison actually has much better damage potential) During the period of the game where Evil Shoal is legitimately powerful, this can be quite amazing if you've got the Rage capacity to fire off two of them back-to-back.

Rage Upgrade 1: Rage Required: -5
Rage Upgrade 2: Rage Required: -5

Timing is important here: if you get a Rage down fairly quickly, you can actually end up with a powerful Evil Shoal that costs less than its base cost, which is quite nice.

Final Stats
Damage: 400-450, Rest: 1, Rage Required: 26

In the extremely long haul, Evil Shoal is painfully expensive from the perspective of non-Warriors, while having fairly lackluster damage. On the other hand, in the extremely long haul your Rage generation rises fairly noticeably, between Reaper's Rage Draining becoming available and the fact that max Rage rising increases Rage generation in and of itself, so it's mostly wince-worthy because you can compare it to Underground Blades, which is more than twice as powerful (And twice that against mages) while being less than twice as expensive, with absolutely no possibility of friendly fire.

In the early to mid game, though, Evil Shoal can easily be a surprisingly affordable and shockingly lethal Rage skill, by far your best one. The fact that it's lackluster at the end of the game is disappointing, but Sleem can still contribute decently with Cloud of Poison and Glot's Armor, so he's actually overall better off than Zerock, who doesn't really have other options to fall back on once Underground Blades' damage stops being all that helpful.

Glot's Armor
Damage Absorbed: 400
Rest: 5
Rage: 7

Encases a single ally with a field that absorbs all damage the unit would take until the field runs out of HP, but the unit is unable to move or use Talents that move it until the field is destroyed, nor will it counterattack when struck in melee. Even damage from being Poisoned, Burned, etc is blocked by Glot's Armor. The damage that destroys Glot's Armor is fully blocked: doing 1000 damage to a field with 10 HP remaining does no damage to the unit underneath.

When you first get Glot's Armor, it's probably not worth using most of the time. Sleem's damaging options will be much more effective at protecting your units early in the game -dead enemies can't hurt your units- and the crushing Rest period will deny you access to said options for entirely too long. Its effectiveness is also less than it might seem: Glot's Armor doesn't benefit from the unit's damage resistances and doesn't benefit from its Defense or your Hero's Defense. As such, an attack the unit would take double-digit damage from may well do hundreds of damage to Glot's Armor. With the punishing Rest period and the difficulty eyeballing how effective it will actually be, it's easy to end up just ignoring Glot's Armor, because using it is usually not as effective as you were hoping while, again, cutting off access to Sleem's other, more clearly useful options.

In the long haul, Glot's Armor is Sleem's one Rage Skill whose relevancy effectively scales into the endgame. Completely blocking a single enemy attack can buy precious time late in the game, and unlike Zerock's Stone Wall the increasing prevalence of obstacle-ignoring enemies has no bearing on Glot's Armor doing its job. Furthermore, since Sleem's other moves stop being all that useful in the endgame, the high Rest period is reduced to being merely inconvenient instead of a lethal flaw with the move. Just don't forget that it prevents your unit from moving -it can still attack, though, assuming there's anything in range. This does create an awkward situation where putting it on ranged units can be undesirable if something elects to stop next to them and attack something else, but putting it on melee is undesirable if they end up with nothing in range to attack. There's only a few units -such as Alchemists- that consistently don't mind being immobilized.

Absorption Upgrade 1: Damage Absorbed: 600, Rage Required: +3
Absorption Upgrade 2: Damage Absorbed: 800, Rage Required: +4
Absorption Upgrade 3: Damage Absorbed: 1000, Rage Required: +5
Absorption Upgrade 4: Damage Absorbed: 1200, Rage Required: +6
Absorption Upgrade 5: Damage Absorbed: 1700, Rage Required: +7
Absorption Upgrade 6: Damage Absorbed: 2300, Rage Required: +8

+200 HP per level, except the last 2 are +500 and then +600.

Glot's Armor has similar problems to Zerock's Rock Wall, in terms of its HP not really keeping up with end-game damage (And in fact it has less Health at its final tier), and it's magnified by the fact that the Health never goes as far as you might hope it would go. Honestly, it may well be worth ignoring these upgrades entirely, since they raise the price so much and ultimately the extra Health on the Armor will almost never have the slightest benefit.

Rest Upgrade 1: Rest: -1
Rest Upgrade 2: Rest: -1

Absolutely worth grabbing. It sucks you can only get Glot's Armor down to a Rest of 3 -even in the endgame, where battles tend to last longer, that's an awkward Rest period- but it's likely to help more than raising the Health on the Armor.

Rage Upgrade 1: Rage Required: -5
Rage Upgrade 2: Rage Required: -5

Obviously worth grabbing if you can, but as usual you have to get some of the Health upgrades before the game will offer these. The usual rule of thumb with Rage downs is that you need two of the 'main' upgrade line. I'm not 100% sure that applies to Glot's Armor, but if it does, that means these are just stemming the bleeding: the first two upgrades to the Armor's damage absorption increase the Rage cost by 7, 2 more than the first Rage down.

So actually you arguably shouldn't be taking these just by virtue of it being a dubious idea to ever be in a position to be offered them.

Final Stats
Damage Absorbed: 2300, Rest: 3, Rage Required: 30

These are fairly painful final numbers.

Of course, as previously covered, you should probably just not take the Health upgrades. At that point you've got a 7 Rage ignore-one-attack effect, which is actually really useful. Arguably it's actually convenient that the Health upgrades aren't worth bothering with; it makes the choices with Sleem a little less hard, taking that 45 levels of upgrades I mentioned down to effectively 39. Which is still 10 more levels than Sleem can actually gain, but it does help.


Sleem is a bit of a strange Spirit I always have difficulty finding an easy way to summarize. Overall he suffers more than Zerock does from the 'scaled to the early game' problem, except Cloud of Poison actually is the single hardest-hitting Rage effect in the game (Soul Draining can do more, due to its percentile nature, but it also can't finish off stacks) and Glot's Armor is consistently useful even into the endgame, so it's not quite that simple. He's got something of a Poison damage focus, but for a long time you'll tend to be spamming Evil Shoal whenever possible, making it a bit of a moot point that two of his skills do Poison and only one does Physical.

Sleem is the main Spirit where I feel Rage needed some scaling mechanic other than the actual leveling. Zerock and to a lesser extent Reaper and Lina could use the help, but Sleem is the Spirit that seems to most strongly show off the weaknesses of The Legend's Rage design, and in fact show off its strengths in a somewhat negative way. (ie that it's possible to get Evil Shoal sufficiently powerful sufficiently early that it outright ends even-to-tough fights on the first turn for a while) Sleem is very useful and effective in the early-to-midgame, but in the endgame all he's got is Glot's Armor and potentially Cloud of Poison if you've been leveling it and are willing to work around its funky behavior. In practice Zerock and Reaper tend to push him aside, since their ways of doing damage don't involve friendly fire risk and are more immediate a payoff anyway.

In terms of concept, Sleem has never really grabbed me. Things get a bit more interesting when later games indicate that Lizardmen are the descendants of Scraggs (ie Sleem's people), but we also don't see Sleem in those later games so it's more like an Easter Egg for people who pay attention to continuity stuff. When I first played The Legend, I figured there'd be a bit of a story arc thing with the Spirit, even if it was relegated to sidequests, but no. You can talk to all of them to get some interesting backstory stuff, but once they're actually activated as combat helpers there's nothing really left. With Zerock this feels perfectly reasonable: he's basically a magical robot soldier with no interest in anything but fulfilling his purpose. While the player might be interested in seeing some kind of story resolution regarding Zerock, Zerock himself doesn't care, and the player character's personality, while somewhat ambiguous, seems unlikely to care that much either, if only because they're busy completing their missions.

In Sleem's case it feels like a missed opportunity. Sleem is a prince of his people, presumably invested in their well-being, and yet there's no sidequest to investigate the fate of the Scraggs. No closure for Sleem as to whether his duty is done or not. He's just a game mechanic with some dialogue.

Oh well.

Next time, we cover Lina, ice princess mercenary technomage.


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