King's Bounty Spell Analysis Part 2: Order Magic

Magic Pole Axe
Crystal Cost: 2 / 4 / 6
Mana Cost: 5 / 10 / 15
Level 1 Statistics: Damage: 120; Axes: 1
Level 2 Statistics: Damage: 240; Axes: 2
Level 3 Statistics: Damage: 360; Axes: 3

Hits a single enemy unit for Physical damage.

I've always wondered if the 'number of axes' parameter was meant to do something meaningful at some point. In actual implementation, it just affects the animation, making it take longer. I'd find it more annoying, but it's honestly pretty rare for Magic Pole Axe to be the most sensible attacking Spell in a situation, so it mostly don't crop up anyway. It's occasionally worth using really early in the game, if for instance you're trying to kill Fire Dragonflies and you don't have Ice Snake or the like, but as your Spell list rounds out it's almost never justifiable. Level 3 Magic Pole Axe is basically directly inferior to Level 3 Ghost Blade, costing 50% more to do 20% more damage, which will be negated as an advantage by even minor Physical resistance.

If you're a Paladin all-inning on Order Magic, Magic Pole Axe is the closest thing to a staple damage Spell you've got, but in that scenario you're probably focused on leveraging Order's excellent army-supporting tools, with damage output being a more opportunistic thing. (eg finishing off a weak stack so you don't have to attack it directly with some stack that does six times their Health in damage. Particularly in cases where a non-scaled Talent is involved, such as Scoffer Imps Sneering)

Magic Pole Axe's other problem is that Physical damage is very much the default for troops, and so it's usually not a useful supporting tool for working around your army's flaws. A Magic-heavy army is the main plausible exception (It's not possible to make a pure Fire damage army, and only barely possible for a Poison one, sorta, and not sensible to pursue), and that's hampered by the biggest Magic resistance exception being straight-up Spell immunity. (Black Dragons, enemy Phoenix and Books of Evil) Gremlins are basically the only thing with significant Magic resistance Magic Pole Axe can actually provide coverage against.

So for one thing something like mass Bless will usually be a better way of improving your Physical damage output.

Crystal Cost: 7 / 10 / 20
Mana Cost: 15 / 25 / 35
Level 1 Statistics: Strikes one target; Damage: 100-200; Shock: 15%
Level 2 Statistics: Strikes up to 3 additional targets within 4 tiles of first target; Damage: 170-340; Shock: 30%
Level 3 Statistics: Strikes up to 4 additional targets within 4 tiles of first target; Damage: 240-480; Shock: 45%

Hits a single target for Magic damage, with a chance to Shock. Higher Levels of the spell will also 'bounce' to additional targets.

I still don't entirely understand Lightning's 'bounce physics', honestly, but thankfully the game provides extremely clear feedback on what all is going to be hit and for how much, so you don't have to fully understand them to use Lightning while avoiding frying your own units. (... unless it was rolled by a Book of Evil Random Spell cast, in which case good luck)

Lightning is an interesting Spell on a few levels. It's actually the only generic attacking Spell that uses Magic damage (There's others that do Magic damage, but always with some usage caveat), and it's by far Order's best attacking Spell too (Which, to be fair, is because there's only one other general-purpose option), able to actually compete pretty decently with some of Chaos' best... except that at levels above 1 it's difficult to get it to fry your enemies without frying your own, especially as battle lines close. It's a bit of a surprising choice for Order Magic to have one of the most chaotic, difficult-to-control damage Spells in the game. I actually like it overall, that Order Magic has a competitive damaging Spell balanced by a combination of its high cost (Compared to Fire Rain, at Level 3 it costs nearly twice as much Mana) and the friendly fire problems holding it back, but thematically it's fairly unusual.

It also actually scales poorly (Aside the bouncing being added), increasing by 70% instead of the usual 100%, which makes it less appealing when you're comparing Level 3 Spells against Level 3 Spells than when you're comparing Level 1 against Level 1. It's entirely possible to be fairly impressed by Lightning initially, and then find your usage of it dropping off without really understanding why.

Crystal Cost: 1 / 2 / 3
Mana Cost: 3 / 2 / 1
Level 1 Statistics: Healing/Damage: 50
Level 2 Statistics: Healing/Damage: 150
Level 3 Statistics: Healing/Damage: 250; Removes Poison, Weakness, and Plague

Targets a single allied organic unit or enemy Undead unit. Allied organic units are healed, though dead units cannot be recovered this way, while enemy Undead take Magic damage instead. Demons and inorganic units cannot be targeted at all.

Note that Healing is actually one of your better ways to single-target nuke Undead units, both for raw damage and especially for Mana economy reasons, at higher levels. (The Level 1 version is still economical compared to eg Flaming Arrow, but its raw per-use damage is terrible) It starts out weak, but it scales unusually fast, gaining 200% instead of the usual 100%, and so at Level 3 it's actually slightly ahead of Flaming Arrow in raw damage (Well, against those Undead that aren't either slightly weak to Fire or somewhat resistant to Magic, anyway), and in The Legend Flaming Arrow inflicting Burn is essentially ignorable. Not even getting into its insane efficiency. 1 Mana at Level 3 is nuts.

Revel in it, because this is the last game you'll particularly care about Healing's offensive utility past the extreme early game.

For its non-offensive utility, Healing starts out okay at the very beginning of the game (So basically for the Paladin and the occasional lucky Mage), where it's possible for low to mid durability units to tank a hit, get healed, and so tank another hit without a casualty, and if you get it up to Level 3 it returns to intermittent relevancy by virtue of being superior to Dispel anytime you just want to remove Poison, Weakness, and/or Plague. (Well, assuming the beneficiary isn't Undead, a Demon, a plant, or something inorganic...) In the endgame, its healing is borderline worthless, as most anytime one of your units takes a hit it's probably taking a casualty, with some of the endgame units least likely to suffer from this being invalid targets anyway. (eg Black Dragons, Ancient Treants)

Ultimately I wish Healing had been handled a bit differently. I'm not sure why its healing/damage numbers are so low, given that in the long haul they only matter when attacking Undead, (That is, eventually the scaling from Intellect and Healer will bring it to greater than any unit's maximum Health, even with this low number, and anything above that is only relevant when hurting enemies) One possibility would've been to make its highest rank add in resurrection instead. Another possibility would be some kind of 'overhealing' effect to give the target unit more Health prior to taking damage. As-is, Healing is... surprisingly narrow in its utility, and its only going to get worse in later games... well. Until Dark Side, but we'll get to that when we get to it.

Crystal Cost: 10 / 15 / 25
Mana Cost: 10 / 20 / 30
Level 1 Statistics: Recovers Health: 200; Target's Level: 1-2
Level 2 Statistics: Recovers Health: 400; Target's Level: 1-3
Level 3 Statistics: Recovers Health: 600; Target's Level: 1-4

Targets a single allied organic unit, restoring health to the unit. 'Overflow' healing will resurrect dead members of the unit if it has suffered casualties in the current battle. Can even target corpses, restoring a fallen stack to functionality.

Order's single most noteworthy Spell, and the big thing that sets the early to midgame Paladin from the other classes: it doesn't take too long to acquire Order Magic if you push for it, at which point your starting Scroll of Resurrection can be used and now you can use the low-Level units I was ragging on as dubious in the player's hands with minimal consequences. 

That said, there's surprisingly little to say about Resurrection in terms of its tactical considerations, as it's very straightforward a Spell. It's good, but it's also expensive, so you have to be somewhat careful if you want to actually avoid casualties outright. And of course Level 5 units are never a valid option to target. Do note that even though Resurrection brings the 'top' member of the stack to full in the process of performing a resurrection, it nonetheless doesn't actually double as a regular heal. So you can't use it to undo damage on a stack unless the stack has actually suffered a casualty. It's not like it matters most of the time, since Heal is more efficient anyway and all, but it's a curious quirk of behavior. It's especially striking since the Inquisitor's Resurrection Talent does act as an ordinary heal, while in most respects being functionally identical to the Spell.

I'm not entirely sure why, but contrary to what the numbers above would imply, in my experience Resurrection actually loses some Mana-to-Health efficiency if you cast lower-Level versions of it. It's still worth considering casting the lower-Level version on lower-Level units whose casualties are low enough that the higher Level versions of the Spell would experience significant Mana wastage.

Curiously, even though Demons can't be Healed they can be Resurrected. It's strange, since Resurrection pretty clearly falls into the 'holy' sub-set of Spells that Demons are generally either incapable of benefiting from or actively harmed by. Convenient, but strange.

Crystal Cost: 1 / 2 / 5
Mana Cost: 5 / 5 / 5
Level 1 Statistics: Removes all effects on a friendly target.
Level 2 Statistics: Removes all effects on a friendly or enemy target.
Level 3 Statistics: Removes all negative effects on a friendly target or all positive effects on an enemy target.

Targets a single unit, removing some portion of effects on the unit.

Level 2 is particularly important, since you can't even target enemy Phantoms until you've gotten Dispel to Level 2. Dispelling a Phantom instantly kills it, regardless of the stack's size, so against Heroes that use Phantom, Level 2 Dispel can make the fight drastically easier. Slightly more generally relevant is that it can be used to purge Charm from your stolen units, letting you get them back instantly.

Level 3 is nice, but not a must-have unless your strategy is heavily dependent on buffing up your units and you expect debuffs to be flung at them fairly regularly. Which... this is The Legend. The later King's Bounty games make buffs and debuffs derived from units more common, but in The Legend there's very few of these. Dispelling enemy positive effects while leaving their negative effects is rarely relevant (Especially since, for instance, you wouldn't bother to Dispel a Priest's Bless on a unit you've Blinded anyway), and dispelling negative effects on your own units while leaving their positive effects on is only somewhat more likely to be relevant. Plague from Necromancers and Web from Cave Spiders and Fire Spiders are some of the only notable debuffs that can be inflicted by units, and Plague is not practical to wipe with Dispel (Due to the re-infection/mass nature of Necromancer Plague) while you'll basically never see Web on your units as an actual problem. For one thing, AI spiders basically only ever use Web when the stack is close to death.

So yeah, getting Dispel to Level 2 can be a big deal and is worth pursuing even if you're not the Mage and thus don't have Alchemy, but Level 3 sounds cool but is almost never relevant. This isn't getting into how, for example, Sheep wipes all ongoing effects, and so Level 3 Dispel won't let you purge Sheep while keeping buffs on your units in a Keeper fight: their positive effects will be gone anyway.

Life Light
Crystal Cost: 4 / 8 / 16
Mana Cost: 10 / 20 / 30
Level 1 Statistics: Damage/Healing: 150
Level 2 Statistics: Damage/Healing: 255
Level 3 Statistics: Damage/Healing: 360

Inflicts Magic damage on Undead in a 7-tile circle, causing them to flee from that circle, while healing living units. Demons are entirely unaffected, as are Plants and inorganic units. (eg Cyclops)

Life Light is a nifty-seeming Spell, but its healing is borderline worthless (It will only show up super-late in the game, well past the point where healing without resurrection is all that useful) and as a tool for dishing out damage to Undead it's hampered by the fact that Fire Rain is pretty much flatly better at Level 3, being cheaper and almost always rolling higher on raw damage (And when it does roll lower, it's only a little lower) while, you know, also hurting enemies that aren't Undead. It's not like there's Undead weak to Magic, and in fact Necromancers resist Magic while several Undead are weak to Fire, making the comparison uglier. The only two things Life Light has going for it are

1: It can be used to manipulate Undead position and

2: It can be used to heal some of your troops at the same time as inflicting damage on Undead, if everyone is all clustered up.

It's honestly difficult to justify dropping the Magic Crystals on Life Light. If you're a Mage, you don't really care about either of these uses, as most of your damage comes from your Spells anyway. If you're not a Mage, that means you don't have Alchemy and so don't really have the Magic Crystals to burn on an overly-niche Spell.

It's strange, given how reluctant the game is to give it to you for so long, as most of the other Spells the game takes forever to get around to providing you are really good Spells, such as Fire Rain itself!

Crystal Cost: 3 / 3 / 10
Mana Cost: 10 / 10 / 20
Level 1 Statistics: Duration: 2 turns
Level 2 Statistics: Duration: 3 turns
Level 3 Statistics: Mass; Duration: 3 turns

Affected units always roll for maximum damage on basic attacks. (Melee or ranged) Cannot be applied to Undead or inorganic units.

Note that Bless doesn't affect Talents. Yet.

Dragon Slayer
Crystal Cost: 3 / 3 / 25
Mana Cost: 5 / 10 / 25
Level 1 Statistics: Bonus Damage: 20%; Duration: 3 turns
Level 2 Statistics: Bonus Damage: 30%; Duration: 4 turns
Level 3 Statistics: Bonus Damage: 30%, Mass; Duration: 4 turns

Affected units gain bonus damage against dragons.

The main reason it's not actually worthless is that dragons mostly resist Fire damage, making Hell Breath not actually invalidate it. Even so, it's a bit niche, and there will usually be something better to do with your Mana, especially since dragon-heavy battlegroups are rare, even in the areas of the game that are all about dragons.

This isn't even getting into the problem that dragons all have poor Health for their Leadership, and so they're actually particularly good targets for nuking to death with damaging Spells, even for a Paladin or, to a much lesser extent, a Warrior.

Demon Slayer
Crystal Cost: 3 / 3 / 25
Mana Cost: 5 / 10 / 25
Level 1 Statistics: Bonus Damage: 20%; Duration: 3 turns
Level 2 Statistics: Bonus Damage: 30%; Duration: 4 turns
Level 3 Statistics: Bonus Damage: 30%, Mass; Duration: 4 turns

Affected units gain bonus damage against Demons.

Same basic description as Dragon Slayer, except all-Demon armies are much more normal in the late game and aren't so consistently nice targets to nuke, making it more appealing, particularly the Level 3 version. Unfortunately, that Crystal cost is killer, and the Warrior is the main one who'd really appreciate its effect, not the Mage who can spare Crystals on all kinds of stuff. So... it's still difficult to justify, and the endgame proper is dragon heavy not Demon heavy, so Demon Slayer isn't even something worth considering out of concern for the endgame proper.

It's a bit weird, since Dragon Slayer and Demon Slayer are both helping you kill unit types that aren't usually reasonable to nuke down, and yet instead of giving you something good to do with your Mana they're just... existent, and surprisingly difficult to justify actually using.

Divine Armor
Crystal Cost: 6 / 10 / 14
Mana Cost: 15 / 20 / 30
Level 1 Statistics: All Resistances: 20%; Duration: 2 turns
Level 2 Statistics: All Resistances: 25%; Duration: 3 turns
Level 3 Statistics: All Resistances: 30%; Duration: 4 turns

Sets a single allied unit's resistances other than Astral () to a specific number, except for those resistances higher than that number, which are instead unaffected, and negative resistances, which are also unaffected. Cannot be applied to Undead.

In other words, Divine Armor doesn't add 20% Poison Resistance to your Thorn, because its innate 50% resistance is already higher. As such, Divine Armor is most useful on units with no innate resistances -on units with innate resistances, you're better off trying to stack on resistance effects if at all possible. (eg Stone Skin on Ghosts)

On the flipside, it doesn't boost weaknesses. No, you can't slap it onto an Ancient Ent to turn their weakness to Fire into a Resistance, thus more than halving the damage they take from Fire. If you want to offset weaknesses, you'll need to use more conventional resistance boosters. Alas, there's no Spell for bolstering Fire resistance aside from Divine Armor.

In practice Divine Armor is primarily a way of protecting a unit from its relative weaknesses. You can slap it on a Cyclops to make Magic no longer relatively effective against them, for example. This makes it surprisingly niche, in spite of its very general-seeming effect, because Stone Skin is your primary go-to damage reduction option, since the vast majority of units do Physical damage, and Stone Skin isn't so painfully expensive. Aside the obvious 'most/all of the enemy army does non-Physical damage' situation, Divine Armor can also be worth considering if the Initiative penalty from Stone Skin would create problems. Outside those two situations, though, Divine Armor should almost never be cast.

It's so rarely justifiable to use that I actually don't miss it at all when running an Undead army because I don't find myself going 'okay, time to cast Divine Armor- oh. It doesn't work on Undead. Right.'

Battle Cry
Crystal Cost: 1 / 2 / 10
Mana Cost: 2 / 3 / 10
Level 1 Statistics: Initiative: +1; Duration: 2 turns
Level 2 Statistics: Initiative: +2; Duration: 3 turns
Level 3 Statistics: Initiative: +3, Mass; Duration: 3 turns

Increases Initiative of affected units.

Battle Cry is painfully awful until Level 3, even considering its tiny Mana cost. At Level 3 it suddenly has actual utility, though it's still not the greatest thing ever. At least there it can be used to, for example, let you leverage your Onslaught Initiative boost to go first on the first turn and then Battle Cry your entire army so you keep that edge on subsequent turns.

An interesting side note: the Spells .txt file is mostly organized by Spell sphere (Going Order->Distortion->Chaos, which is interesting given the Spell spheres are associated with Magic/Mind/Might and Mind is the new concept, compared to the Heroes of Might and Magic series) but Battle Cry is actually placed in the Distortion section, suggesting it was originally imagined as a Distortion Spell and only moved to Order Magic later, sometime after it was coded.

Unfortunately, Initiative, while an important stat, is usually not that useful to be modifying in the middle of battle, even even at Level 3 Battle Cry is a bit niche. Especially since there's various passive ways to get Initiative advantage, such as investing in Dark Commander and just running Necromancers, which will almost always ensure you get to cast and possibly Rage before any enemy units do anything.

Last Hero
Crystal Cost: 1 / 3 / 5
Mana Cost: 5 / 7 / 10
Level 1 Statistics: Target's Level: 1-2; Duration: 3 turns
Level 2 Statistics: Target's Level: 1-3; Duration: 4 turns
Level 3 Statistics: Target's Level: 1-4; Duration: 5 turns

If the affected unit's last soldier would be killed by an attack, it survives and the buff's duration is reduced by a turn.

If you luck into Last Hero early on alongside some high-Leadership-for-that-time unit, assuming it's low enough level? Then Last Hero can be a nifty little tool. Otherwise it's... probably not worth spending Mana Crystals on. It's not like it's useful to keep Sacrifice fodder alive to Resurrect them to continue to be Resurrection fodder. That's redundant with how Resurrection works.

Last Hero is one of the very few things in The Legend where I honestly have no idea what the dev team was thinking.

Thankfully, the devs apparently agree with me, because Armored Princess does away with it entirely, and when Warriors of the North makes a second go at it, it's a very different idea. Not... particularly more successful... but at least a different idea.

Crystal Cost: 3 / 3 / 3
Mana Cost: 5 / 7 / 10
Level 1 Statistics: Damage: -30%; Health: +30%; Duration: 3 turns
Level 2 Statistics: Damage: -30%; Health: +40%; Duration: 4 turns
Level 3 Statistics: Damage: -30%; Health: +50%; Duration: 5 turns

A single unit -ally or enemy- has its HP increased while its Damage is decreased.

Peacefulness is a weird Spell whose purpose I've never been clear on. There's utility to it, to be sure, between the fact that it can be used on targets Weakness can't (eg Undead) and that it can be useful for stuff like letting a(n Ancient) Vampire stack leech up more health from a stack than the stack would normally be able to provide, but as far as what it's really imagined to be for? No idea.

You can also use it as a strange, not-very-good form of 'damage reduction', and compared to Divine Armor it is cheap, so if you've not got Mana to spare but are trying to minimize casualties, it's an option I guess.

And of course it can combined with Sacrifice: Peacefulness the sacrifice, and you're reducing how many casualties you're inflicting while still getting maximum benefit. Or, if you intend to Sacrifice the sacrifice down to nothing, you'll get more out of them. Either way.

Still, Peacefulness is a weird Spell.

Dragon Arrows
Crystal Cost: 2 / 3 / 4
Mana Cost: 4 / 4 / 4
Level 1 Statistics: Gives Dragon Arrows: 1
Level 2 Statistics: Gives Dragon Arrows: 2
Level 3 Statistics: Gives Dragon Arrows: 3

Grants a single allied archer-class unit (Bowmen, Elves, Hunters, Skeleton Archers) charge(s) of the Dragon Arrows Talent. This Talent is a ranged attack that ignores enemy Defense and Resistance, and regardless of the user's own range will never suffer damage penalties from being fired too far. The base damage is the unit's base damage.

Dragon Arrows is amazing, and is indeed so exceptionally good that the Mage finds it worth casting even though usually buff spells are inferior to just nuking everything yourself! (Though to be fair, there's a bit of a design flaw in how the classes are handled re: Leadership in The Legend that contributes to the problem) The fact that it entirely ignores enemy Defense is particularly ridiculous, especially in Hero fights, where even middling durability units can have a fairly large amount of Defense you're just ignoring.

Do note that the Dragon Arrows Talent can't be used if an enemy is adjacent to the archer, just like eg Double Shot or Ice Arrow.

Also note that Dragon Arrows grants an extra charge for every 15 points of Intellect you have.

All that said, usage of Dragon Arrows is fairly straightforward. Obviously if you want to take advantage of it it's somewhat constrictive on your army construction, but this isn't a big deal. The main point of note is that Dragon Arrows is probably at its best on Skeleton Archers. They have particularly poor range, which Dragon Arrows removes as a flaw (Whereas Elves and Hunters get zero benefit from the 'no range penalty' effect), and their Leadership-to-base-Damage ratio is by far the best of the four units. Their poor Attack is less relevant with Dragon Arrows letting them ignore the target's Defense, too.

Also keep in mind that Dragon Arrows is effectively typeless, making coverage completely unnecessary.

The primary quirk to keep in mind is that Dragon Arrows is at its most effective when being used to slay units with especially high Defense. Something like Peasants will take more damage from Dragon Arrows, but only by as small amount. A target like a Black Dragon can go from you doing halved damage to you doing doubled damage (ie quadrupling your damage), meanwhile.

Crystal Cost: 4 / 8 / 16
Mana Cost: 20 / 20 / 20
Level 1 Statistics: Target's Level: 1-3
Level 2 Statistics: Target's Level: 1-4
Level 3 Statistics: Target's Level: 1-5

A single allied unit has its Talents reset, with charges at maximum and reload-based Talents at the ready.

Gift is an odd Spell that's simultaneously really niche and yet completely game-breaking, as there's a good number of charge-based Talents that are only sane if their charge count can't be restored. Due to unit/Spell overlap, it can also be used to 'cheat' Mana efficiency concerns; using Gift to reload an Inquisitor stack's Resurrection costs less than actually casting Level 3 Resurrection-the-Spell, and depending on your Intellect vs army size it may even provide more healing than you could do by casting the Spell version, and in any event can be used on Level 5 units no problem.

Meanwhile, if your army's Talents are all reloading, or the charge-based ones they have are merely useful instead of exploitable (eg Alchemists, who appreciate the damage coverage and range offered by their Talents but they're nothing you can snap the game apart with), Gift is just kind of garbage-y.

Overall, it makes me glad that Armored Princess got rid of it entirely. (Similarly, I'm of mixed feelings of Warriors of the North bringing it back, even if it attaches a new limitation to it)

Fit of Energy
Crystal Cost: 6 / 6 / 6
Mana Cost: 20 / 20 / 20
Level 1 Statistics: Gives Action Points: 1
Level 2 Statistics: Gives Action Points: 2
Level 3 Statistics: Gives Action Points: 3

Grants a single allied unit additional Action Points. If its turn was over, it gets an additional turn to use these Action Points.

The ability to use Fit of Energy to extend a unit's range during its own turn is an option, but generally speaking Haste makes more sense for that purpose. The primary exception is that Level 3 Haste turns mass instead of moving to +3 Speed, and thus there are edge case scenarios where you'll want to use Fit of Energy Level 3 to, for instance, snatch up a chest before the enemy forces reach it.

Generally speaking, though, Fit of Energy should be reserved for getting a second turn out of a unit. This is obviously more useful to the Paladin and Warrior than the Mage, since they're more invested in their army's power than their magical power (That is, a Mage can probably beat out their hardest-hitting unit by slinging a Fireball or something when it comes to damage), but it's also worth considering anytime you've got units with useful Talents and/or Abilities that you want to get more use out of than a single ordinary turn can put to use, such as getting a Dryad to both put the enemy to sleep and also summon Thorns to act as a blocker all in the first turn. (eg if you've got a chokepoint you can block some Horsemen at, but only if you set down the Thorns before they move, and you're also trying to shut down ranged attackers, and so you can't just use Elven Song for the Initiative boost and drop Thorns on the second turn)

Crystal Cost: 1 / 2 / 4
Mana Cost: 2 / 4 / 6
Level 1 Statistics: Defense: -30%; Duration: 3 turns
Level 2 Statistics: Defense: -45%; Duration: 4 turns
Level 3 Statistics: Defense: -60%; Duration: 5 turns

Lowers a single enemy's Defense by a percentage.

Helplessness is this odd spell that seems like it should be useful, but usually isn't. It's only really any good against units that have high base Defense, and its usefulness goes down the higher your Attack climbs. Generally if you want to improve your damage output, you're better off using an effect that bolsters allied units instead.

That said, it's worth keeping it in mind when, for instance, facing early-game Cyclops, as it can actually provide a fairly astonishing boost in your army's damage output in such cases. Cyclops are a particularly good example since, as already mentioned, Lightning is the only Magic damage Spell in the game, and Magic is the only damage type Cyclops have no resistance to, so it's entirely possible for a nuking Mage to find it more effective to hit them with Helplessness than to try to nuke them, if they haven't yet lucked into a Lightning Scroll. Or possibly even if they have, since Lightning is pricy and its damage is unreliable.

Summon Phoenix
Crystal Cost: 4 / 8 / 12
Mana Cost: 20 / 30 / 40
Level 1 Statistics: Summons: Young Phoenix
Level 2 Statistics: Summons: Mature Phoenix
Level 3 Statistics: Summons: Ancient Phoenix

Summons an allied Phoenix in a chosen tile. The tile must be adjacent to an allied unit. You may only have one Phoenix on the field at a time.

Again, let's have some actual stats!

Young Phoenix
Level: 3
Leadership: 1
Attack/Defense: 15 / 10
Initiative/Speed: 5 / 5
Health: 200
Damage: 40-60 Fire
Resistances: 80% Magic, 80% Fire
Talents: None
Abilities: Flight, Firestorm (Melee attacks and counterattacks not only hit the target but enemies to the side, and are guaranteed to Burn everyone. No friendly fire), Immune to Fire (80% Fire resistance, cannot be Burned), Magic Immunity (80% Magic resistance, spells don't effect the unit), Rebirth (The Phoenix can, once, revive after a delay)

A point to note about Rebirth: The game claims the Phoenix can revive after 3 turns, but as far as I can tell it's actually that they can revive on every third turn, regardless of when they died. In any event, resurrecting is not possible if a unit is occupying their corpse's space, and the act of resurrecting consumes their entire turn. Funny thing is, you actually get a proper turn for the corpse, so you can, for example, use the corpse's turn to give yourself an opportunity to sling Spells.

If you're lucky enough to get a hold of Summon Phoenix really early in the game -which is possible. Among other points a level 5 Scroll is guaranteed at the Temple right at the start of the game, of which Summon Phoenix qualifies- the Young Phoenix is pretty decently powerful. It's fast, it's tough, and it's plenty lethal. It can be especially nice for distracting Fire Dragonflies, which can otherwise be difficult to prevent from closing in on your forces and tearing into your ranged units.

Young Phoenix rapidly drop off in utility past the extremely early game, though. 200 Health is amazing when a single Ancient Bear may well be the toughest unit on the field. It doesn't take long for battles to scale to the point that 200 Health is painfully fragile. Since, as I've already noted before, Fire damage is rare and Magic damage uncommon, the Phoenix's twin 80% resistances are actually a lot less helpful than you might think, too.

A Young Phoenix is also a decent, if Mana-intensive, way of ensuring you grab an inconveniently-placed chest before the AI does. They can also be functional in Keeper fights, since Gremlins can't do anything to Phoenix with their Spells and even an Evil Gremlin's retaliation will do only minor damage. This is especially noteworthy if a particular Keeper fight is heavy on Evil Gremlins: use of a Phoenix may allow you to grind down the Gremlins that's realistically outside the reach of your army to beat conventionally.

Mature Phoenix
Level: 4
Leadership: 1
Attack/Defense: 20 / 15
Initiative/Speed: 6 / 6
Health: 400
Damage: 70-100 Fire
Resistances: 80% Magic, 80% Fire
Talents: None
Abilities: Flight, Firestorm (Melee attacks and counterattacks not only hit the target but enemies to the side, and are guaranteed to Burn everyone. No friendly fire), Immune to Fire (80% Fire resistance, cannot be Burned), Magic Immunity (80% Magic resistance, spells don't effect the unit), Rebirth  (The Phoenix can, once, revive after a delay)

Notice that the Mature Phoenix has twice the Health while costing only 50% more Mana than the Young Phoenix.

Unfortunately, you basically have to deliberately push for Order Magic 2 to be likely to get strong use out of a Mature Phoenix, which is a problem because Order Magic is generally one of the lower priorities for getting to Level 2. Most of Order's Spells are either not very good, period, or are perfectly serviceable at Level 1, or only really come into their own at Level 3, or are Resurrection and thus if you're not a Paladin you generally won't see it until the mid-late game. If you approach Skill leveling more 'naturally', by the time you've got Order 2 you'll probably be somewhere over 2000 Leadership. While Leadership-to-Health does vary, it's extremely rare for it to go below 50%, and units that are much below 80% are usually ranged or are melee units with very high Defense and a strong set of resistances. The Mature Phoenix has two very high resistances, but I already covered the point that Fire is a rare attack type and Magic uncommon. 400 Health is not really cutting it when your painfully fragile stacks still expect to have 1000 or more Health total. And sure, it's a disposable summon, but it's also painfully Mana-intensive, and there's other ways to use your Mana to avoid your 'real' units taking damage. Like Phantom.

You can still get use out of a Mature Phoenix, in much the same manner as a Young Phoenix: Keeper fights, mostly, though its 1 Speed advantage may make it what you need to summon to reach a chest. Also noteworthy is that Priests and Inquisitors are Magic damage ranged attackers that do Magic damage in melee, making a Phoenix a good unit for flying up to them and preventing them from making a ranged attack. This technically applies to a Young Phoenix as well, but in the earliest portion of the game bothering with tactics is often redundant. Why lock down the Priest stack when you can instantly kill them instead?

Ancient Phoenix
Level: 5
Leadership: 1
Attack/Defense: 30 / 20
Initiative/Speed: 7 / 7
Health: 800
Damage: 140-240 Fire
Resistances: 80% Magic, 80% Fire
Talents: None
Abilities: Flight, Firestorm (Melee attacks and counterattacks not only hit the target but enemies to the side, and are guaranteed to Burn everyone. No friendly fire), Immune to Fire (80% Fire resistance, cannot be Burned), Magic Immunity (80% Magic resistance, spells don't effect the unit), Rebirth  (The Phoenix can, once, revive after a delay)

Again, twice as much Health as the Mature Phoenix. Curiously, where the Mature Phoenix did about 50% more damage than the Young Phoenix, the Ancient Phoenix has twice the minimum damage and nearly two-and-a-half times the maximum damage of a Mature Phoenix. If you get to Order Magic 3 fairly quickly, it can be surprisingly effective at dealing out damage.

That said, the problems I laid out with the Mature Phoenix apply to the Ancient Phoenix just as much if not more so. 800 Health is way too little by the time you're likely to have Order Magic 3, and while Fire damage rises in prominence in the mid-late game Magic damage basically goes away entirely after you've completed the Elflands. Furthermore, Red and Black Dragons are just as resistant to Fire damage as the Ancient Phoenix, and with their Speed and flight -not to mention Fire Flow on Red Dragons- it's not even realistic to have an Ancient Phoenix get into an ineffectual flailing match with a dragon to lock it down. At best it can be used to eat a retaliation, and honestly there's better ways of accomplishing that.

Still, while I'm being fairly negative on Summon Phoenix, it's actually more consistently worth casting than Book of Evil is, just for the fact that its effectiveness isn't centered so heavily on RNG.


Where Chaos Magic was about blasting things and impairing enemies, Order Magic is primarily about bolstering your troops. Notice that Helplessness is Order Magic's only strictly negative effect -Peacefulness can be used as a debuff on enemies, but it still does something beneficial to them- and Order Magic only has 2 damaging Spells, one of which is dangerous to your own forces past the first Level and the other... well, Magic Poleaxe isn't actually that bad a Spell in its own right, but Distortion borderline invalidates it, as we'll be covering next.

Conceptually, Order and Chaos are pretty directly complimentary. It's actually kind of strange there's a third Spell sphere at all, and as I'll be covering when we get to it, Distortion ends up leaning on a bit of a strange, vague conceptual framework to keep itself kind-of-distinct. On a more practical level, there's also the odd point that even though Order Magic is clearly intended to be the master of buff effects, its buff effects mostly aren't very good: Divine Armor is usually inferior to Distortion's Stone Skin, most of the other buffs are just too weak to be all that worth considering regardless... where Order actually kind of shines is with Fit of Energy, sort-of Gift, and Dragon Arrows, none of which is technically a buff effect.

It's all a bit odd.

The Rune/color signaling is, as with Chaos, a bit confusing on Order. It's pretty obviously imagined as the Paladin's Spell sphere in terms of actual Spell list, and its Rune costs point that way, but its color is that of the Mage. I've always been curious about how this stuff happened.

Next time, we cover Distortion Magic's Spells.


Popular Posts