Armored Princess Unit Analysis Part 5: Demons



To save some space, here's the effects of the Demon Ability:

50% Fire resistance. Fights in volcanic terrain increase Defense by 50%, while fights in snowy terrain decrease Defense by 50%. Assorted spell immunities. New to Armored Princess is taking 50% more damage from 'holy attacks'. (eg Priests, Inquisitors, Paladins...)

The change to being vulnerable to 'holy' attacks is notable, as it makes eg Priests less narrowly specialized. Even if it's a bit annoying how it's another way in which Demons and Undead are similar, when they already have so many ways they behave similarly.

Demons still don't interact with racial Morale mechanics.


Demon
Level: 4
Hiring Cost: 600
Leadership: 300
Attack/Defense: 30 / 30
Initiative/Speed: 4 / 3
Health: 240
Damage: 21-21 Physical
Resistances: 10% Physical, 50% Fire
Talents: Running (Charge: 1. +2 Action Points), Bloody Pentagram (Charge: 1. Creates a 7-tile circle that last for 2 turns, in which all friendly units below Level 5 gain +2 to Morale and Initiative. The pentagram vanishes after 2 turns), Summon Demons (Charge: 1. Summons to an adjacent tile a stack of Demon units chosen from any of choices below Level 5. The Leadership of the new stack will be 90 per head in the summoning stack)
Abilities: Demon, Furious (Never 'runs out' of retaliations), Domination (+30% damage against units that are Levels 1-3), Demon Rage (If currently out of AP, taking damage has a 50% chance of granting 1 AP and immediately providing another turn. Counterattacks from enemies don't count)

Domination has dropped from +50% to +30% damage, -3 to Attack and Defense, +50 to Leadership cost, damage has dropped by 1 at both ends... ouch. In exchange, Demons have gained 40 Health, had Summon Demons bolstered in its summoning capacity, and picked up Demon Rage, which is honestly one of my favorite Abilities in the series, and frankly more than makes up for all those losses.

One odd interaction Demon Rage has is that it can trigger when walking into Traps. If placed poorly, this can lead to Traps actually extending a Demon's movement range! The Trap will still eat all their current Action Points, so Traps aren't useless, but it's something to watch out for (Don't place Traps at the very edge of their range if you can avoid it!), and in particular makes it impossible to reliably slow Demons down by more than 1 tile with a Trap past their first turn.

Demon Rage also makes the difference between a high Initiative army and a low Initiative army much more dramatic when Demons-the-unit are involved; if your entire army is going to go before the Demons, Demon Rage only has a chance to trigger if you use the Wait functionality or a unit of yours gets a second turn somehow. If your entire army goes after the Demons, you're going to find yourself constantly giving them extra turns when attacking.

Though in Armored Princess the exact fiddly mechanics of Demon Rage are usually not relevant, it's worth mentioning that Demon Rage's additional turns don't have any special 'priority' function. If a Demon somehow has no AP before its position in the turn order rolls around, and then damage trigger Demon Rage, it will have to wait until its proper turn position before it gets a chance to move. So too will it not be able to re-trigger Demon Rage. You normally see them get an immediate turn because the game checks where they should be in the turn order, notices they're ahead of whatever comes after the unit that triggered Demon Rage, and so gives them another turn.

In player hands, Demons are primarily held back by the fact that they're optimally thrown into the midst of the enemy and casualties are bad. Of course, if you're a Paladin with maxed Resurrection-the-Skill, then it's all good, and honestly once you get deep enough into the game you're more likely to run out of supplies of Demons than to really start caring about the Gold you're burning through from the casualties. If you're playing the game well, you'll generally have maxed Grand Strategy long before you got a shot at recruiting Demons, too, so that's not really a strike against them. So actually overall Demons are pretty cool in Armored Princess compared to the first game, especially since the player does tend to have the Initiative advantage over the enemy thanks to Skills and potentially Items. The stat nerfs are usually overwhelmed by the gain from Demon Rage.

In enemy hands, Demons are of course fairly matchup-dependent. If you're fielding a high Initiative army, then they're overall less of a threat than they were in The Legend, bar having to adjust your Trap usage. If you're fond of Cyclops and the like, though, they're downright infuriating to fight.



Cerberus
Level: 3
Hiring Cost: 210
Leadership: 90
Attack/Defense: 18 / 18
Initiative/Speed: 5 / 4
Health: 90
Damage: 9-11 Physical
Resistances: 50% Fire
Talents: Leap! (Yes, the exclamation point is in-game. Charge: 1. Charges an infinite distance in a straight line through open terrain to make a regular Physical attack on a single enemy. Three-headed does not trigger)
Abilities: Demon, Three-headed (In addition to the primary target, melee attacks strike at the tiles to the side. Still no friendly fire risk)

Damage range has been tightened, but average damage hasn't changed, and they've picked up Leap.

Leap is, in enemy hands, pretty ignorable. The AI will only use it if the Cerberus begins its turn lined up with one of your units; they'll never move to a location that gives them a line and then charge. As such, it's only really an issue if you're on one of the weird battlegrounds that's particularly tight and lacking in obstacles to be navigated around, or if your army is low-to-medium Initiative and you lack Tactics.  (And, again, no obstacles blocking them) In those circumstances, though, it's a pretty big deal, since a key part of good play is not letting enemy units reach you in the first place.

In player hands, it's still held back by its utility overlapping with the Demon's, and in fact Demonic Fury means the Demon is even better than ever at dishing out damage when mobbed. Leap's damage is, as far as I can tell, more or less the same as their regular attack but minus the area of effect aspect, so it's primarily useful for closing in quickly -and Demons can already cover a shocking amount of distance in a single turn, and for the player even with melee units it's generally better to let the enemy close first and meet them in the middle than to charge the entire distance fist turn. Leap is primarily advantageous from the player perspective if you can get the Cerberus lined up with a ranged unit that won't be able to back out of reach. Even then, I'd probably rather have the new-and-improved Archdemon for shutting down enemy ranged units in that way.


I do appreciate that the Cerberus has something now, but it doesn't really solve the problems it had back in The Legend of being out-competed by other Demon units. Alas. Even the new Spell options don't really help; a unit can't counterattack from under Glot's Armor, for example, so it's not a tool to take advantage of their multi-target counterattack effect, and even if it were Demons would still take better advantage of it.

Demoness
Level: 4
Hiring Cost: 400
Leadership: 160
Attack/Defense: 26 / 24
Initiative/Speed: 6 / 2
Health: 100
Damage: 10-18 Physical
Resistances: 50% Fire
Talents: Whip Attack (Reload: 1. Attacks an enemy 1 tile apart through a free space for 10-18 Physical damage, with no retaliation), Charm (Reload: 2. Attempts to take control of an enemy humanoid troop, which can be adjacent or one tile away. If the target stack is 128 Leadership per Demoness or less, the attempt will succeed, lasting for 2 turns. If they're above that but otherwise valid, the Demoness instead does 10-18 Physical damage to the target with no chance for retaliation), Infernal Exchange (Reload: 3. Swaps the positions of any two units)
Abilities: Demon, Beauty (30% chance to evade attacks from male humanoids)

+20 Health, Distant Attack has been renamed. No other changes.

The main point worth noting here is that back in The Legend they were one of the few units worth using Magic Shackles on, and now Magic Shackles is bounded by Leadership, making it harder to safely deal with very large battlegroups that include Demonesses. Other than that, tactics are basically identical, they're just a bit tougher.

Archdemon
Level: 5
Hiring Cost: 6000
Leadership: 1600
Attack/Defense: 66 / 66
Initiative/Speed: 8 / 9
Health: 766
Damage: 88-99 Physical
Resistances: 20% Physical, 10% Magical, 80% Fire
Talents: None
Abilities: Demon, Teleportation (Travels without passing through intervening terrain), Immunity to Fire (80% Fire resistance and cannot be Burned), Restoration (Purges all negative status effects at the start of its turn), Halve (50% chance for melee attacks to kill half the enemy stack in place of normal damage)

Archdemons have doubled their Physical resistance and picked up some protection to Magic as well, making Poison the best answer to them in damage type terms. They've also picked up 100 HP (Ruining the Number Of The Beast thing, oh well) bolstered their Attack and Defense from 52 apiece to Number Of The Beast, gained a point of Initiative, and even picked up a new Ability! This is surprising, as Archdemons were already a shockingly nasty unit. On the other hand, they were surprisingly boring, and the Initiative boost in particular makes sense to keep them ahead of eg Seag Dogs having climbed up, so overall it makes sense.

Also worth pointing out that Immunity to Fire is a bigger deal now than it was in The Legend, since Burn damage actually matters now.

Half itself is, thankfully, unwilling to trigger if the Archdemon's attack is already going to do 50% or more damage. I suspect, in particular, that what the game actually does is roll for normal damage, and if the result if under 50% of the target's durability only then does the game roll for Halve. (Or perhaps it always rolls for Halve, but will ignore the roll if the base damage roll is high enough) Also worth noting is that while Halve uses the same graphic as a critical hit for announcing the result Halve can still successfully trigger on Ancient Vampires.

Halve is in this weird place in that on the one hand the AI forces are usually larger than yours by a noticeable margin and on the other hand your troops usually dish out far more damage and take far less damage thanks to your stats and Skills. As such, even though the intuitive thing is to expect it to be more useful in player hand or AI hands than in the other, it works out to basically the same thing. The only real advantage the AI has over the player in this regard is that throwing Archdemons suicidally at the enemy is no problem for the AI while for the player the casualty potential actually costs you real resources. If you're not a Paladin with Resurrection-the-Skill, it's extremely difficult to undo an Archdemon's casualties, since they're Level 5. Of course, if you are such a Paladin, hurling Archdemons to their death against oversized battlegroups so they get cut down by percentile damage is surprisingly effective, not to mention fun.

Archdemons are still a bit bland to use in practice (If you're not a Paladin), but they're still much more interesting of a unit than in The Legend. I approve.

Imp
Level: 2
Hiring Cost: 80
Leadership: 40
Attack/Defense: 16 / 12
Initiative/Speed: 5 / 4
Health: 32
Damage: 3-6 Physical
Resistances: 50% Fire
Talents: Fireball (Charges: 2. Throws a fireball at an enemy target in the distance, doing 3-6 Fire damage to the target and all adjacent units. Like normal ranged attacks, cannot be activated if an enemy is adjacent to the Imp)
Abilities: Demon, Strike and Return (Returns to its original position after performing a melee attack), No retaliation

Imps have picked up 8 Health, which is a lot for them. Otherwise they're unchanged from The Legend.

In more indirect terms, Imps much more useful units now because their fireballs are fantastic at rapidly generating Rage. This was true back in The Legend, but back in The Legend Rage wasn't very important and anyway you didn't expect to get access to Imps or Scoffer Imps before you got access to Rage Draining, which made a joke of the Rage economy anyway. In Armored Princess, Rage is powerful and useful all the way to the endgame, and being able to generate a whole lot on the first two turns is fantastic. There's very few units that can compete with Imps in this regard as well, as a ranged circular splash attack is fairly uncommon. Alchemists can do it once every two or three turns via Potion of Poison, but not twice in a row, Knights need Teleport support to be able to come close and still have a lower peak Rage output, etc. As such, even in matchups where Imp damage output is poor (Such as against other Demons, or against dragons), Imps can be worth considering just to generate Rage before the melee lines are joined, at which point they can contribute with their non-Fire melee attack.

The loss of Gift does take away a sustainability option for them, but it's basically only in Boss fights that things should be lasting long enough for this to be a serious concern, generally speaking.

Scoffer Imp
Level: 2
Hiring Cost: 120
Leadership: 60
Attack/Defense: 16 / 16
Initiative/Speed: 6 / 3
Health: 52
Damage: 4-7 Physical
Resistances: 50% Fire
Talents: Fireball (Charges: 2. Throws a fireball at an enemy target in the distance, doing 4-7 Fire damage to the target and all adjacent units. Like normal ranged attacks, cannot be activated if an enemy is adjacent to the Scoffer Imp), Sneer (Reload: 4. Targets a single enemy below Level 5 which hasn't moved yet and isn't immune to mental effects. The unit attempts to target the Scoffer Imp with a basic attack, ignoring all other units)
Abilities: Demon, Strike and Return (Returns to its original position after performing a melee attack), No retaliation

+5 Health. No changes otherwise.

Like Imps, Scoffer Imps are really useful for generating lots of Rage at the beginning of a fight, with the bonus utility of being able to use Sneer. Sneer itself is a lot more useful in Armored Princess, as there's a lot more units that have powerful special abilities they won't use if Sneered, such as Engineers and quite a few of the Orc units, though it's worth mentioning that since it doesn't generate Rage it can often be a difficult choice whether to lob a Fireball or Sneer at any given moment. Which is good, in terms of game design!

Otherwise though things aren't very different from The Legend.


Executioner
Level: 4
Hiring Cost: 1600
Leadership: 360
Attack/Defense: 40 / 30
Initiative/Speed: 5 / 2
Health: 280
Damage: 24-26 Physical
Resistances: 10% Physical, 50% Fire
Talents: Running Charge: 1. (+2 Action Points), Execution (Reload: 1. Melee attack that does 36-39 Physical damage to a single target. If the target stack is finished off by Execution, all enemies suffer -1 Initiative for this turn and the next, and furthermore all enemies below Level 5 have a 50% chance of becoming Afraid)
Abilities: Demon, Furious (Never 'runs out' of retaliations), Domination (+30% damage against units that are Levels 1-3), Demon Rage (If currently out of AP, taking damage has a 50% chance of granting 1 AP and immediately providing another turn. Counterattacks from enemies don't count), Terrify (Attackers have a 30% chance of suffering from Fear, unless the attacker is Level 5, immune to Mind effects, a Demon, Undead, or a Lizardman)

The only new Demon unit in Armored Princess, technically. They're really quite cool, so I'm fine with that!

The in-game description for Terrify makes it sound like it's basically the same thing as the Devilfilish Terrifying trait, but it's actually basically the opposite, which synergizes nicely with Demon Rage. Hurl an Executioner into the fray against low-Level units while your army is high-Level, mix in opportunistic Executions, and you can potentially leave the entire enemy army too scared to do anything! Since Fear also shuts off a lot of Talents, this is fairly useful even if the rest of your army isn't high-Level.

That said, the Executioner is a fairly straightforward unit, being pretty much a Demon-the-unit that lacks non-damaging support Talents in exchange for being more of a combat monster and spreading Fear about. There's not a lot else to say about it.

Minor aside: it's a little interesting to me how the Executioner is mostly, but not completely, a reskin of a Demon. They have another pair of horns, specifically. Usually when you get reskins, they're either pretty obviously the exact same thing or the changes are sufficiently more dramatic that it isn't necessarily immediately obvious that the core model is shared with something else. It has me kind of curious why they handled the Executioner's graphic this way.

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Demons as a whole aren't too different in a direct sense, but it's worth pointing out two fairly major points: firstly, since Poisoning and Burn do percentile damage over time scaled to Poison and Fire resistances, an area dominated by Demons is one that's advantageous to focus on spreading Poisoning instead of Burn, which is a concept that didn't really exist in The Legend and most of the time in Armored Princess Burn tends to be more useful than Poisoning since Poison resistance is more widespread than Fire resistance and with a single exception the player can't actually fight Poison weakness doesn't exist while Fire weakness does exist.

Secondly, Demons are no longer basically aimed at seriously impairing a high-end Mage. Your ultimate damage Spells actually do Astral damage in Armored Princess, and with how Higher Magic has been reworked there's not particularly strong incentives to use Fire damage Spells in general for a Mage. Fire Rain in particular was your staple end-game nuke Spell in The Legend, and in Armored Princess is very difficult to justify casting at all, since at Level 3 it's too expensive to be your first Spell in a turn but it's too weak to be your second Spell in a turn. I think I'm overall okay with this switch in design philosophy given that while the Mage was just plain overpowered in The Legend having an entire faction designed to be difficult for them to overcome wasn't actually some kind of solution, and it's not like any of the factions was aimed at messing with the Warrior or Paladin in the same sort of way.

It does mean Demons feel a bit less meaningfully different from the other factions, though. This is probably be their weakest game in the series for faction identity. It's not until the next couple of games that efforts are made to really set Demons apart from the other races again.

Next time, we see what's happened with the Undead.

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