Armored Princess Spell Analysis Part 3: Distortion Magic

Note: Shroud is gone, having been replaced by Oil Mist.


Ghost Blade
Crystal Cost: 3 / 6 / 9
Mana Cost: 10 / 10 / 10
Level 1 Statistics: Damage: 100; Ignores 50% Resistance
Level 2 Statistics: Damage: 200; Ignores 75% Resistance
Level 3 Statistics: Damage: 300; Ignores 100% Resistance

A single enemy unit is attacked for Physical damage, ignoring some portion of the target's Physical resistance if it has any.

No change.

The primary strike against Ghost Blade is that your new Astral damage options tend to fill the same function, but even better. The other strike against it is that for economical single-target damage, percentile effects tend to be more effective. It's still occasionally useful, but it's not a semi-staple single-target damage Spell like it was in the mid-late game in The Legend. It's mostly good for finishing off key stacks as a battle is winding down, now.


Geyser
Crystal Cost: 10 / 20 / 30
Mana Cost: 20 / 30 / 40
Level 1 Statistics: Damage: 110-220; Geysers: 4
Level 2 Statistics: Damage: 210-420 Geysers: 6
Level 3 Statistics: Damage: 310-620; Geysers: 8

A randomly chosen set of enemies are hit for Physical damage, inflicting Freeze on any units whose Fire Resistance is at least 50%. The number of Geysers spawned is the maximum number of separate units that can be hit.

Geyser's Crystal cost has been raised by about a third (Noticeably less for the third level), its base damage has been raised substantially, and the boost per level has been only slightly lowered. (It was +100% base damage in The Legend, it's +90% base damage in Armored Princess) The overall result is that Geyser is actually really good, where in The Legend it seems impressive initially but tends to lose its luster as you realize other Spells have better damage and cost less.

Of course, if you're playing Orcs on the March Geyser eventually gets sidelined by Black Hole, but in the base version of Armored Princess it's actually very solid all the way into the endgame, since it doesn't have real competition for the role of 'hit everything no matter its position with no friendly fire'.


Pain Mirror
Crystal Cost: 2 / 7 / 10
Mana Cost: 5 / 7 / 10
Level 1 Statistics: Returns Damage: 60%
Level 2 Statistics: Returns Damage: 80%
Level 3 Statistics: Returns Damage: 100%

Inflicts Magic damage to a single enemy unit, said damage being derived from the damage the unit dealt most recently.

Crystal cost has spiked hugely, and the damage has been lowered. Completely understandable, especially given that Armored Princess has a higher level limit for the player and also extends their statistics more. To a certain extent, this is basically just reducing the impact of the higher potential Intellect in Armored Princess and making it less absurdly good as army sizes climb.

The overall result is that Pain Mirror takes even longer to start being worth using, but in spite of its nerfs it still eventually ends up a very solid Spell no matter which class you're playing. The Mage probably cares least just because of all her area-of-effect nuke options, but even for her it can work as your first cast in a turn for quite impressive damage, depending.


Trap
Crystal Cost: 4 / 8 / 14
Mana Cost: 5 / 10 / 15
Level 1 Statistics: Damage: 80-120; Duration: 3 turns
Level 2 Statistics: Damage: 175-265; Duration: 4 turns
Level 3 Statistics: Damage: 245-310; Duration: 5 turns. Poisons target

Places an invisible trap in a tile. If a unit enters the tile on foot, the trap triggers, doing Physical damage and immediately ending the unit's turn. The trap vanishes after triggering or after a number of turns have passed.

Mana cost past the first level has spiked noticeably, the Crystal cost has doubled (More than doubled on the third level!), and its damage past the first level isn't as high as it used to be. Of course, the Trapper Medal more than makes up for the lost damage, especially since it even applies to the first level, so in real terms Trap is actually more powerful than ever, assuming you put in the effort to 'level' Trapper.

The Trapper Medal makes Trap a much more important Spell to get as early as you can, and also makes Traps themselves even more powerful and appealing. The fact that Traps on the ground don't count as a Spell is also really nice for the fact that it means they give you Transmute payoff when killing stacks, making it one of the most direct Spell-based methods of getting Transmute Mana. This is particularly important to the Mage, obviously, who actually struggles a bit to get real use out of Transmute, ironically.

The fact that Level 3 Trap Poisons its victim is also a lot more useful than it was in The Legend. Not crazy-useful -Poison Skull gets them Poisoned before they even get a move, and at Level 3 it's realistically guaranteed, so you're not going to specifically get Trap to Level 3 as your Poisoning delivery mechanism- but actually a genuinely nice bonus if you're setting down Traps to slow enemies anyway, as contrasted with its 'meh' status in The Legend. In particular, a non-Mage might actually find it worth getting Trap to Level 3 in Armored Princess to get that Poisoning thrown in, unlike in The Legend where Trap Level 2 was probably as far as it was worth going if you weren't a Mage.


Hypnosis
Crystal Cost: 10 / 20 / 30
Mana Cost: 20 / 30 / 40
Level 1 Statistics: Target's Level: 1-2; Leadership: 40% of hero's total
Level 2 Statistics: Target's Level: 1-3; Leadership: 60% of hero's total
Level 3 Statistics: Target's Level: 1-4; Leadership: 80% of hero's total

Takes control of a single enemy unit for 2 turns. The target must be within the Leadership and Level limits and cannot be immune to mental effects.

No change.

It's worth pointing out that the modifications to Higher Magic make combining Hypnosis with Sacrifice a lot clunkier than it used to be, but overall Hypnosis isn't really terribly different in execution, which means it's still fairly situational. It's also a bit more strongly biased toward being a Warrior Spell thanks to Leadership being guaranteed per Level (Instead of undesirable to take until late in the game), which is conceptually a bit appreciated since the Warrior was so terrible in The Legend, but it's not some gamechanger.


Magic Shackles
Crystal Cost: 2 / 10 / 35
Mana Cost: 10 / 10 / 35
Level 1 Statistics: Target's Level: 1-3
Level 2 Statistics: Target's Level: 1-4
Level 3 Statistics: Target's Level: 1-4, Mass

Affected units are unable to use their Talents for 2 turns. (Before Intellect extension) Capped by Hero Leadership, as modified by class: the Warrior is capped at 100% of their Leadership, the Paladin at 140% of their Leadership, and the Mage at 200% of their Leadership.

Crystal cost has been spiked noticeably, while the Mana cost at the third level has actually come down a little. Additionally, there's now a Leadership limit on what units you can affect, making Magic Shackles no longer an option for helping against insanely out-of-depth fights you're not meant to be taking on.

I'm not sure if the Leadership capping affect applies to enemy Heroes, let alone how it works if so. As far as I'm aware Heroes don't have a Leadership value, but it's possible they have one internally and it's just not visible in playing the game.

Whatever the case, the Leadership cap's tuning is... odd. I assume the thought process is that it's an attempt to compensate for the Mage having the worst Leadership and the Warrior the best, but while Leadership has a substantial class-based element of growth in Armored Princess, you still get a fair amount of Leadership from other sources, where these other sources aren't modified by class modifiers; in real play a Warrior isn't going to have twice the Leadership of a Mage, or even come particularly close to such a vast gap outside of the extreme early game. Personally, I kind of wish the capping modifier ran the other direction -it would be interesting to have a Spell that's unambiguously much better in Warrior hands than in Mage hands.

Regardless, I'm a bit puzzled by this change being applied to Magic Shackles and not, say, Blind? Magic Shackles was never a Spell that was essential for breaking oversized battlegroups, and the Spells that do let you do that kind of thing remain unfettered. It's a very puzzling nerf to an already-niche Spell.

Admittedly it's a little less niche in Armored Princess, which has a lot more Talents you'd actually like to shut off, but it still seems weird.


Slow
Crystal Cost: 2 / 5 / 12
Mana Cost: 5 / 7 / 12
Level 1 Statistics: Speed: -1; Duration: 2 turns
Level 2 Statistics: Speed: -2; Duration: 3 turns
Level 3 Statistics: Speed: -3; Duration: 3 turns

Lowers a single enemy unit's Speed.

No change.

Slow is overall indirectly nerfed by the fact that Speed has trended upward in Armored Princess, and you're a little bit less likely to use it in specific since you have new options for interfering with enemy movement, but it overall remains a perfectly good option.


Pygmy
Crystal Cost: 4 / 8 / 12
Mana Cost: 5 / 10 / 20
Level 1 Statistics: Target's Level: 1-2; Health: -20%; Damage: -20%
Level 2 Statistics: Target's Level: 1-3; Health: -30%; Damage: -30%
Level 3 Statistics: Target's Level: 1-4; Health: -40%; Damage: -40%

Lowers a single enemy unit's Health and the damage of their basic attacks for 2 turns. Also disables certain Talents.

No change.

Pygmy is overall improved by Armored Princess in indirect ways, though. With Rage now having worthwhile damage options even in the late game outside just percentage damage, using Pygmy to effectively bolster your Rage damage output is actually worth considering, and as it happens its Mana costs line up with the Mage's reworked version of Higher Magic so it's worth considering as your first cast in a turn as a Mage to enhance the following Spell's damage while also benefiting units and Rage attacks.

It's still going to tend to be overshadowed by more dramatic options like Blind, but just forgetting it exists is probably a mistake.

Blind
Crystal Cost: 4 / 8 / 12
Mana Cost: 10 / 15 / 20
Level 1 Statistics: Target's Level: 1-2
Level 2 Statistics: Target's Level: 1-3
Level 3 Statistics: Target's Level: 1-4

A single enemy unit is completely disabled for 2 turns. The effect ends if it takes damage.

No change.

Blind is still stupendously useful, and since it even slips in under Higher Magic's range the Mage is actually considerably more likely to use it than they were in The Legend.

Berserk
Crystal Cost: 2 / 5 / 8
Mana Cost: 2 / 5 / 8
Level 1 Statistics: Attack: +75%; Target's Level: 1-2; Duration: 3 turns
Level 2 Statistics: Attack: +100%; Target's Level: 1-3; Duration: 4 turns
Level 3 Statistics: Attack: +125%; Target's Level: 1-4; Duration: 5 turns

A single allied unit increases its Attack, but control is removed from the player. Units that are immune to Mind spells can't be affected.

Bizarrely, Berserk's Mana and Crystal prices are higher at Levels 2 and 3 than in The Legend. I really have no idea why, given it was fairly awful in The Legend and I can't think of a single way it's better in Armored Princess.

Haste
Crystal Cost: 2 / 5 / 15
Mana Cost: 3 / 5 / 10
Level 1 Statistics: Speed: +1; Duration: 3 turns
Level 2 Statistics: Speed: +2; Duration: 4 turns
Level 3 Statistics: Speed: +2, Mass; Duration: 4 turns

Affected allies gain additional Speed/Action Points. (This won't give units an additional turn if they've already ended their turn)

No change.

Haste is still one of your best army-supporting tools at Level 3, pretty much.

Precision
Crystal Cost: 2 / 4 / 16
Mana Cost: 2 / 4 / 16
Level 1 Statistics: Damage: +25%; Duration: 3 turns
Level 2 Statistics: Damage: +30%; Duration: 4 turns
Level 3 Statistics: Damage: +30%, Mass; Duration: 4 turns

Affected ranged attackers have the base damage of their attack and Talents increased.

Damage boost on the first level is a bit higher, duration no longer increases on the final level, while the Crystal and Mana cost actually spikes dramatically for the third level like you normally see on mass-at-final-level Spells.

I kind of suspect this ties into the general trend where a lot of Armored Princess seems to involve noticing that ranged-heavy armies are really good, where The Legend seems to have imagined them as being niche/not very good.

Personally, I was never very fond of Precision in The Legend and have even less motive to use it in Armored Princess due to the nerfs, but I can see why they'd bring it more in line with the other mass-cast-gaining Spells.

Magic Spring
Crystal Cost: 3 / 7 / 12
Mana Cost: 5 / 7 / 9
Level 1 Statistics: Defense: +5; Duration: 3 turns
Level 2 Statistics: Defense: +10; Duration: 4 turns
Level 3 Statistics: Defense: +15; Duration: 5 turns

A single allied unit bolsters its Defense by a flat value. Every time the affected unit takes damage, the unit's controller gains 5 Mana and the duration of the buff decreases by 1 turn.

Magic Spring no longer is percentile for its Defense boost, its Crystal cost has been spiked overall, and now the Mana cost rises over time, making it no longer something you can toss the highest level version on something and assume it will pay for itself even if the unit is instantly killed.

So basically it's no longer kind of a silly gamebreaker, but is still quite good for protecting a unit while extending your Mana economy. That works for me.

Stone Skin
Crystal Cost: 1 / 2 / 4
Mana Cost: 3 / 5 / 7
Level 1 Statistics: Defense and Physical Resistance: +20%; Duration: 3 turns
Level 2 Statistics: Defense and Physical Resistance: +30%; Duration: 4 turns
Level 3 Statistics: Defense and Physical Resistance: +40%; Duration: 5 turns

A single allied unit has its Defense and Physical Resistance increased by a percentage, but its Initiative is lowered by 1.

No change.

The big thing worth pointing out is that Stone Skin is a cheap option for building progress on Guardian Angel, unlike eg Divine Armor. Dropping Stone Skin on random units in the closing stages of a battle is thus one of the best ways of building Guardian Angel progress without having to actually compromise a winning strategy. The secondary point is that it's de-facto a little bit better than it was in The Legend, since the Guardian Angel Medal raising base Physical resistance means Stone Skin's own Resistance increase has a more significant effect on your units' durability.

Overall though Stone Skin really does work out much like it did in The Legend.

Invisibility
Crystal Cost: 3 / 6 / 9
Mana Cost: 10 / 20 / 30
Level 1 Statistics: Duration: 2 turns
Level 2 Statistics: Duration: 3 turns
Level 3 Statistics: Duration: 4 turns

A single allied unit is rendered invisible to the enemy, rendering them un-targetable. The effect ends prematurely if they attack or use any Talent.

No change.

Abusing it with Emerald Green Dragons is way, way less practical now, between Emerald Green Dragons generating less Mana per zap and Intellect being overhauled to require more points for extending duration on effects. It's also less consistently effective -I'd assume- since there's more Eyeless units, and in particular more Eyeless units that are actually pretty hard to kill. For most purposes though, nothing has really changed.

I suppose if you're a Mage and you're considering it while able to double-cast you do need to remember you can't cast the Level 3 version as your first cast?

Target
Crystal Cost: 2 / 6 / 12
Mana Cost: 3 / 6 / 12
Level 1 Statistics: Duration: 1 turns. Level limit: 2
Level 2 Statistics: Duration: 2 turns. Level limit: 3
Level 3 Statistics: Duration: 3 turns. Level limit: 4

A single allied unit is made more appealing of a target to units up to a certain Level.

Target's third level has a slightly higher Crystal cost. That's really it.

Phantom
Crystal Cost: 3 / 6 / 9
Mana Cost: 15 / 20 / 25
Level 1 Statistics: Phantom Health: 20%
Level 2 Statistics: Phantom Health: 30%
Level 3 Statistics: Phantom Health: 40%

Targets an allied unit to generate a phantom version of the unit that lasts for three turns. The phantom's stack size is derived from a percentage of the unit being copied, going off of Health, though the initial unit number is only ever 'whole numbers'. (The new stack can be eg 1 troop or 2 troops, not 2 troops where the second one has only half health) This phantom is a completely fresh unit (Its Talents are fresh, even if the unit being copied has used up all its Talents), but it leaves no corpse when it dies.

No change.

It's worth mentioning Phantom is a lot more slanted away from the Mage due to the overhaul on level-derived Leadership. Which is quite nice. Overall you still use it much as you did in The Legend, just that you should be keeping it in mind more as a Warrior and to a lesser extent Paladin than in The Legend.

Teleport
Crystal Cost: 2 / 5 / 15
Mana Cost: 5 / 8 / 12
Level 1 Statistics: Range: 4
Level 2 Statistics: Range: 6
Level 3 Statistics: Range: Unlimited

Moves a friendly unit to a targeted cell within a certain number of tiles of the units starting location.

Teleport's range on the first two levels has been bumped up by 1, which is nice, and it hasn't even increased in price or anything of the sort. Awesome.

Teleport was already a uniquely useful Spell, and it's not only been directly buffed but now there's Chosha and Burrowing Brontors to give new unique utility to Teleport. If you're fond of Lizardmen, you're likely to end up fond of Teleport.


Oil Mist
Crystal Cost: 2 / 4 / 6
Mana Cost: 5 / 5 / 5
Level 1 Statistics: Duration: 2. Ranged attack: -30%. Fire resist: -20%
Level 2 Statistics: Duration: 3. Ranged attack: -50%. Fire resist: -30%
Level 3 Statistics: Duration: 4. Ranged attack: -70%. Fire resist: -40%

Designates a seven-tile circle with an Oil Mist. This Oil Mist reduces damage dealt by ranged attackers firing from within the mist and also reduces the Fire resistance of units within the mist. Has no effect on Level 5 units.

So remember Greasy Mist and Shroud? Gone! Combined into Oil mist. Not only that, but Oil Mist lowers the ranged damage of Eyeless units. Compared to Shroud, it's pure improvement (Unless you're wanting to send in melee units and are unhappy with them losing Fire resist? This is a pretty niche concern, though), and compared to Greasy Mist... well, you're losing the tiny amount of immediate damage, and it doesn't 'cling' to the target, letting them move to escape it, but you can drop it on an entire battlegroup and follow up with Fire Rain while simultaneously impairing any ranged attackers in the group. That's a more-than-fair trade in my book.

I actually really like Oil Mist's spellbook graphic. I'm sure some people think it's lazy, but I honestly love how it's clearly Shroud+Greasy Mist, aside from the shift from orange to yellow on the mist. It's good communication for returning players, that they should expect this new-yet-kinda-familiar-looking Spell to be new-yet-kinda-familiar in functionality too.

Oil Mist is obviously particularly fantastic if you're inclined to field Imps and Scoffer Imps, with the radius perfectly aligned with the area of effect on their Fireballs. In particular keep in mind it's helpful for letting your Imps do good damage to Demons -a Level 3 Oil Mist is nearly doubling their damage against most Demons. (It's really unfortunate it doesn't work on Archdemons...) And of course it'll even improve Burn damage, which said Imp Fireballs can inflict, so the whole thing can work out quite nicely. So keep Oil Mist in mind if you like fielding Demons.


Awaken Dragon
Crystal Cost: 5 / 10 / 15
Mana Cost: 10 / 10 / 10
Level 1 Statistics: Mana burn: 30%
Level 2 Statistics: Mana burn: 20%
Level 3 Statistics: Mana burn: 10%

Cancels the Dragon's current Rest period. In addition to the actual Mana cost, a percentage of your current Mana is drained as well.

By far the most important implication of Awaken Dragon is that it's a lifesaver for Rage skills with a Rest period above 1. And I don't mean like 'well, I can use Stone Wall and then use something else next turn by casting Awaken Dragon', I mean 'I can use Stone Wall, cast Awaken Dragon, and then immediately use Smashing Blow, ending up with a Rest of 1'. The game doesn't stack Rest periods or anything like that. In fact, you can even use a given Rage effect twice in a turn: there's no separate cooldown on individual Rage effects in Armored Princess. (Unlike the later games)

It's honestly difficult to overstate how much of a game-changer Awaken Dragon is. In fights you're confident in your ability to win without Spells and Rage, it makes it easier to get Treasure Searcher collection out of the way. In fights that are actually hard-fought, it lets you do wacky stuff like drop 2 -or even three, if you're the Mage!- Balls of Lightning to wear down the enemy hilariously rapidly, or keep two slow-yet-huge melee stacks away from you by just bashing both of them with Smashing Blow each turn. In general it accelerates your Pet Dragon's experience growth... and there's just an incredible amount of room for creativity and interesting ways to solve an encounter.

It's also notable as the Spell that really secures the Warrior's ability to do ruinous things with Rage, letting her essentially give up her weak Spellcasting ability on a turn to leverage her more useful Rage abilities.

Note that the 'Mana burn' effect occurs after the regular cost has been paid, and is not factored into your ability to cast the Spell. If you have exactly 10 Mana left, you can cast Awaken Dragon just fine, and you won't end up with negative Mana or anything weird like that.


Exorcism
Crystal Cost: 8 / 14 / 20
Mana Cost: 10 / 20 / 30
Level 1 Statistics: Damage: 200
Level 2 Statistics: Damage: 400
Level 3 Statistics: Damage: 600

Does Magic damage to a single target Undead, Demon, or summoned unit. In the case of summoned units, does double damage.

Another new Distortion Magic Spell, and a fairly interesting one since its thematics would usually place it under Order. It even benefits from the boost-various-holy-Order-Spells Skill! Nonetheless, it's under Distortion, and yes its .txt file position places it under Distortion too, so this isn't some weird last-minute change.

Exorcism itself is an astonishingly effective single-target nuke, especially against summons, albeit one with a moderately burdensome Mana cost. Its most frustrating flaw from the perspective of a Mage is that it's awkwardly placed in the context of Higher Magic: you can't open with its Level 3 version if you want to double-cast, yet it's difficult to justify using it as your second cast when you've got things like Black Hole and Death Star as your alternatives for the second cast.

Note that all Boss summons do, in fact, count as summons for Exorcism purposes, even though most of the Boss summoning effects are rather mundane-looking. As such, Exorcism can really help you out if you're struggling to keep the cannon fodder under control in a Boss fight, especially if you haven't yet found something like Black Hole.

That said, overall Exorcism is an awkward Spell that's only occasionally actually worth casting. I like the idea of it, but it really needs more damage, or a useful side effect like inflicting Stun, or something.


Turn Back Time
Crystal Cost: 10 / 20 / 30
Mana Cost: 30 / 30 / 30
Level 1 Statistics: Max target Level: 3
Level 2 Statistics: Max target Level: 4
Level 3 Statistics: Max target Level: 5

Returns a target unit to the position and condition it began its last turn at.

Oh look, it's Reaper's Time Back, but as a Spell!

Contrary to what you might be thinking, Turn Back Time actually was in the base Armored Princess, unlike all these other recycled Rage skills. It's also worth commentary that it de-facto takes over Gift's role as 'extend the utility of specific Talents', only it's even more expensive and finicky. But also has wider utility, which I absolutely appreciate.

Turn Back Time is, mechanically speaking, pretty much literally just Reaper's Time Back skills from The Legend, but now it's a Spell. Notably, you can't use it on Spell-immune units, which is worth mentioning given that eg School of Piranha and Black Hole don't care about Spell immunity.

Also worth noting is that a mechanics issue not evident in The Legend is that you can only take advantage of a given Turn Back Time moment once. If you Turn Back Time a unit on Turn 2, before it ever gets a chance to move, and then use Turn Back Time on that same unit on Turn 3, it won't reset to its pristine Turn 1 status a second time, it'll revert to whatever state it was at when Turn 2 started, before you Turned Back Time on it. This can be a nasty surprise if eg a unit took a horrific beating on the first turn, you Turn Back Time to avoid that, and then during the second turn they take a smaller-but-still-unacceptable-to-you amount of damage and you actually make their damage worse as a result.

By a similar token, you have to play carefully if you want to use Turn Back Time to endlessly recycle a charge-based Talent: you can't just use the Talent and Turn Back Time every turn, you have to give the unit time to have an 'anchor' in which it legitimately started the turn with the Talent unused.

While these mechanics make Turn Back Time somewhat less abusable than you might've been intuitively expecting, it's still a fantastic Spell that can de-facto fill multiple very useful roles all at once. You can Sacrifice a unit and then Turn Back Time to undo the casualties for cheaper than a series of Resurrections would be, you can let a unit charge in and suffer egregious casualties -such as letting an Executioner get dogpiled so it can retaliate against everything- and then just Turn Back Time so they're pristine again, you can Turn Back Time on enemies to stall them or erase benefits that have been stacked on them or both, the list of possibilities remains largely bounded by your imagination.

The Mana price is pretty intense and so you can't just freely toss it out, but its effects are still frequently fantastic and worth the price. Turn Back Time is one of the most useful Spells added in the game, period, regardless of which class you're looking at. You probably won't use it in every battle, but when it's worth breaking out it's really worth breaking out.


Balance of Power
Crystal Cost: 5 / 10 / 15
Mana Cost: 5 / 10 / 15
Level 1 Statistics: Duration: 1 turn, bonus Adrenaline: 1, 'inspiration' chance: 33%.
Level 2 Statistics: Duration: 2 turns, bonus Adrenaline: 3, 'inspiration' chance: 66%.
Level 3 Statistics: Duration: 2 turns, bonus Adrenaline: 5, 'inspiration' chance: 100%.

Evenly divides the Adrenaline of all allied Orcs among all allied Orcs, with some Adrenaline added. Non-Orc units instead have a chance of boosting Speed or Initiative by 1. (This is the 'inspiration' chance)

The only Distortion Magic Spell Orcs on the March adds that isn't based on a Rage skill from The Legend.

Balance of Power, like Totem of Adrenaline, is a Spell I think is a somewhat interesting idea that I've nonetheless never actually cast myself in 'real' combat conditions. Evenly dividing Adrenaline isn't actually that useful in general, and only really gains potential once your maximum Adrenaline is high enough there can be units with a significant surplus who won't necessarily lose their bonuses just because you cast Balance of Power (ie they have 50 Adrenaline, casting it drops them to 30 or so, so they're still at Level 3 Adrenaline), while the 'inspiration chance' makes it this weird, unreliable alternative to Haste/Battle Cry if you're using non-Orcs. At that end, the only particularly nice thing I have to say about it is that it's mass cast at Level 1, and so can potentially boost the Speed of multiple units in a single turn, which Haste can't match until Level 3, but it's behind so much RNG it'll almost never happen. It's slightly better at Level 2, but still way too unreliable.

It's nice that it provides Adrenaline in addition to the reorganizing aspect, but the amount is so small that it's just this nice little bonus if you were considering casting Balance of Power anyway for some reason.

The overall result is that it's only at all worth considering extremely late in the game, and it's hampered by the conflicting drives involved. A Warrior will easily get her Orcs to high Adrenaline values via Skills from quite early in the game, but getting Distortion Magic 3 will be painful and casting Balance of Power 3 will be moderately burdensome. A Mage will much more readily get to Distortion Magic 3, but will struggle to get the relevant Might Skills leveled high enough to make it a worthwhile Spell to cast, and being a Mage she'd generally rather try to nuke enemies or summon Chaos Dragons or otherwise disdain boosting her comparatively weak army. Only a Paladin is all that likely to find themselves getting real use out of Balance of Power, and it's still going to be something that isn't worth bothering with until extremely late in the game. And only if you wanted to focus on Orcs in specific in the run.

Overall, I'd rather have had a Spell for directly boosting the Adrenaline of a single Orc, or a Spell to somehow provide a new avenue for gaining Adrenaline. (ala Totem of Adrenaline, but minus the 'destroy a corpse' requirement)


Glot's Armor
Crystal Cost: 10 / 10 / 10
Mana Cost: 15 / 18 / 23
Level 1 Statistics: Health: 300, Duration: 3
Level 2 Statistics: Health: 700, Duration: 4
Level 3 Statistics: Health: 1500, Duration: 5

A single allied unit is protected by a shield which absorbs all damage the unit would normally take. 'Overkill' damage will not spill over when the shield is broken. The unit cannot move, be moved except by Teleport, or use Talents that require it move so long as the shield remains active, and will not retaliate against enemy attacks.

It's Glot's Armor, but now it's a Spell!

And... strangely enough, it's actually frustratingly bad. Glot's Armor as a Rage Skill worked well due to how Rage's mechanics worked in The Legend, most notably the Rest mechanic and the multiple Spirits. Sometimes you'd be in a situation where the best thing Sleem could do was Glot's Armor, and everybody else was unavailable. Furthermore, Rage was a resource generated on an ongoing basis, and so the exact price point of a Rage Skill wasn't generally a make-or-break deal.

Glot's Armor in Orcs on the March is painfully expensive (While being a Spell, where being expensive is much more concretely 'I could've cast X if I hadn't cast Y'), and it often badly underperforms. The shield itself doesn't use the Defense or resistances of the unit being defended, and honestly I suspect it may actually be weak to every damage type or something equally strange, because it's quite routine even all the way at the beginning of the game using units with mediocre innate Defense for me to see Glot's Armor take several times more damage than what the unit underneath takes from the same attack.

It's especially harmed by how it's now in direct competition with Invisibility, which is a much more surefire way of denying the enemy the ability to hurt a unit, while being cheaper and being in some ways less constrictive on the unit affected!

On top of all that, it doesn't even count for the Guardian Angel Medal, meaning that from a long-term perspective it's usually better to drop Stone Skin on something you'd like to not suffer casualties since it can potentially do that and advances your Guardian Angel progress.

There's still times Glot's Armor can be useful, such as when you want a unit to act as a distraction without taking damage and either can't Trap the attacker(s) or aren't confident in your ability to do so (high Speed units with Flight aren't less predictable exactly, but they're less obvious to a player still learning the game), but it's surprising how rare it's justified to cast it compared to how useful it was in The Legend.


Poisonous Spit
Crystal Cost: 5 / 7 / 10
Mana Cost: 10 / 10 / 10
Level 1 Statistics: Damage: 20-60, Poisoning Damage: 10-30, Duration: 3
Level 2 Statistics: Damage: 40-130, Poisoning Damage: 20-65 Duration: 4
Level 3 Statistics: Damage: 65-200, Poisoning Damage: 35-100, Duration: 5

A single target enemy takes immediate Poison damage, and is also afflicted with a special Poisoning status that does 'fixed' Poison damage instead of percentile Poison damage but can be stacked with regular Poisoning.

It's Poisonous Spit, but as a Spell!

And it's surprisingly awful.

The fact that its Mana price is rigid and not horribly high means it's better at higher Levels/later in the game, as does the fact that the duration of the Poisoning is directly increased by Spell Level, but it remains the case that its damage up front and over time is quite low, and since it's not benefiting from Poisoning's overhaul it actually tends to perform poorly compared to Poison Skull, which costs the same or less Mana at every Level and at Level 3 is realistically guaranteed to Poison the target. Poisonous Spit's Poisoning damage does scale with Intellect, but unless you're playing on Easy or something, even the Mage will tend to find enemy army size growth vs Intellect growth ends up favoring regular Poisoning over Poison Spit's Poisoning.

Heck, Poison Skull has better minimum and maximum damage at equal level for the up-front damage!

It's a surprisingly lackluster addition to the game in practice, probably not worth the Magic Crystals.


Ice Orb
Crystal Cost: 10 / 20 / 35
Mana Cost: 20 / 30 / 40
Level 1 Statistics: Summons an Orb of Cold
Level 2 Statistics: Summons an Orb of Snow
Level 3 Statistics: Summons an Orb of Ice

Summons an Ice Orb into any open tile the caster feels like targeting.

The targeting is exactly as generous as it was back in The Legend, only now you're not having to mess around with the question of 'will I get enough Rage to cast it this turn?'

Unit stat time.


Orb of Cold
Level: 3
Leadership: 1
Attack/Defense: 30 / 30
Initiative/Speed: 2 / 2 (Note that Speed is only relevant for Initiative calculations, due to the Ball Ability)
Health: 400
Damage: 25-55 Physical
Resistances: 10% Physical, 80% Magic, -100% Fire
Talents: None
Abilities: Ice (+Physical resistance, -100% Fire resistance), Ball (+100% of base damage added per tile traveled before attacking, but can only travel in straight lines, travels until it hits something, and automatically attacks whatever the thing that stops it if it's an enemy. Targets cannot retaliate when struck. Conversely, the Ice Ball will never retaliate. Additionally, the Ice Ball cannot be healed), Magic Immunity (80% Magic resistance, Spells don't effect the unit)

The actual displayed Abilities in-game and their listed effects are buggy nonsense. I've taken the liberty of using the Ability list from The Legend, because the actual mechanics remain true.

Compared to Ice Ball's base stats in The Legend, the Orb of Cold actually has more Health but less Physical resistance and a lot less Damage, plus worse Attack and Defense. Of course, that's all misleading due to the Intellect boosts: in real terms by the time you've found the Scroll you've probably got enough Intellect to boost it by 20-30% in the relevant stats.

Still, the Orb of Cold is pretty unimpressive, and pricey too. It's probably not worth summoning.


Orb of Snow
Level: 4
Leadership: 1
Attack/Defense: 40 / 40
Initiative/Speed: 3 / 2
Health: 800
Damage: 60-90 Physical
Resistances: 25% Physical, 80% Magic, -100% Fire
Talents: None
Abilities: Ice (+Physical resistance, -100% Fire resistance), Ball (+100% of base damage added per tile traveled before attacking, but can only travel in straight lines, travels until it hits something, and automatically attacks whatever the thing that stops it if it's an enemy. Targets cannot retaliate when struck. Conversely, the Ice Ball will never retaliate. Additionally, the Ice Ball cannot be healed), Magic Immunity (80% Magic resistance, Spells don't effect the unit)

The Orb of Snow has much better performance, bouncing up to The Legend's Physical resistance and Attack and Defense, being a lot closer to its base Damage, and of course having nearly three times the Health. And then benefiting from Intellect scaling!

As such, the Orb of Snow is both actually pretty good at delivering real damage and is also a surprisingly excellent distraction, often able to tank 2-3 hits (Or way more than that if the attacker is Magic damage) before coming apart. If you remember being pleased with Lina's Ice Ball in The Legend, the Orb of Snow is where you'll start being happy with Ice Orb.


Orb of Ice
Level: 5
Leadership: 1
Attack/Defense: 40 / 40
Initiative/Speed: 4 / 2
Health: 1200
Damage: 110-150 Physical
Resistances: 25% Physical, 80% Magic, -100% Fire
Talents: None
Abilities: Ice (+Physical resistance, -100% Fire resistance), Ball (+100% of base damage added per tile traveled before attacking, but can only travel in straight lines, travels until it hits something, and automatically attacks whatever the thing that stops it if it's an enemy. Targets cannot retaliate when struck. Conversely, the Ice Ball will never retaliate. Additionally, the Ice Ball cannot be healed), Magic Immunity (80% Magic resistance, Spells don't effect the unit), Blizzard (At the start of its turn, all adjacent enemies become Frozen and their Attack is lowered by 25%)

I've listed Blizzard's in-game description, but I've yet to see anything be Frozen by it, and the Attack reduction looks more like it reduces Attack to 25% rather than by 25%. So take that description with a grain of salt. I'm also not sure how long the Attack reduction lasts, or whether it can be stacked.

Regardless, the Orb of Ice has pretty bonkers base Health -that's 300 less than the max in The Legend, before Intellect scaling shoots past it- and while the base damage is still underwhelming compared to The Legend's heights (350-400 is around 3-4 times what the Orb of Ice has as base) and is unlikely to actually catch up through Intellect scaling (You'd need something like eighty Intellect to get there, though the Summoning Skill could cover part of that) it's really great as a distraction that happens to get in decent enough damage.

If you want to use it as a wrecking ball... you're going to be disappointed, honestly, compared to Lina's version's heights. The main thing it has going for it is that Spells are a lot easier to get the perfect timing done than with Rage moves, making it easier to line up deadly bowling ball lanes.

Regardless, it's serviceable, and the Blizzard effect in particular contributes to it being able to tank hits for a surprising amount of time, so it's certainly worth keeping in mind, Mage or no.

----------------

Next time, we cover Rage in Armored Princess.

Comments

  1. I loved that ice orb, I played as paladin and I cast that sucker right in front of the enemy, he soaked up all the damage, while my units got into position, awesome for protecting your army

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  2. I am not fond of Blindness. I believe that the player should try to make up his army of quality units (level 4-5 units). And Fear works immensely great. It can neutralize a unit for 2-4 rounds (spell level) and you can damage it all you want and it will not do anything still except for a retaliation attack. And all that for 10 mana and at the expense (is it really?) of not fielding low-tier units.

    I quite like Target. Turns chaos into order, mainly useful for guiding enemy ranged units. Simply choose something that will not take losses or something that can later be resurrected/can resurrect itself. Morever it prevents units from using annoying abilities that apply DOT. Excellent spell and cheap one at that. One caveat though is that if the target unit has a higher initiative than the units that are supposed to attack it and it ends its turn before them the spell disappears if it was its last "round". This is why people complain about bugs, but in fact there are none and they fail to realize that all you have to do to remain the target is to use the wait option in the last round of the spell duration.
    Used this one to great effect with ancient vampires chilling in the background in their human form who are infamous for their ungodly self-resurrection ability in their bat form in player hands.

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    1. Most Level 5 units are kind of junk, with poor damage output and dubious durability for the Leadership. Level 4 includes a decent selection of genuinely good units, but it's really Level 2-3 that tends to be where the most generally viable units are at. That limits Fear abuse's utility right there, and then the vast majority of problematic enemies are also immune to mental effects -Blind, by contrast, is only useless against Level 5 units and the tiny handful of Eyeless units.... all of which are immune to mental effects.

      Fear is primarily good for stuff like getting Engineers to not summon Droids, Demonesses to not use Infernal Exchange, etc. The main case where I actually ever find myself using Fear to take a target out of the fight entirely is with Lake and Forest Fairies, since they're both Level 1 and lightning-fast glass cannons I'd rather be wearing down rather than ignoring and coming back to later.

      I've never messed around with Target in part because it's fairly easy to manipulate the AI as-is, making a Spell that specifically does so fairly redundant. I dunno, maybe it's as great as you're making it out to be, but I'm skeptical.

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    2. There is not a cheaper spell to manipulate ranged units, I would go as far as to say there isn't any dedicated spell at all to do that. And ranged units are up there in terms of danger to your forces. Having something so dirt cheap and efficient to control them is a godsend. Sure, that does put one of your units under fire but if the unit shrugs it off without casualties or replenishes losses/your other units resurrect it, why would you care?
      You ignored one major point about Target what makes it so great. Any ranged unit that can attack the bait unit from range will never use its talents and will always use its primary attack. So skeletons, human archers, elven archers, cannoneers, goblins, goblins with catapult will not use their annoying DOT attacks or their amplified damaging skills.
      Let's not argue it is a great spell, but I insist that it is a perfectly viable unique tool that has no analogue.

      There is obviously a difference in approaches to the game. You prefer lower level units and I opt for higher level units. So the tactic of enduring some damage isn't your choice, however it exists and works well.

      When Paladin reaches his most overpowered skill (level 3 resurrection) the game becomes boring because you just throw something at the enemy and do not care about any damage to that unit. And by applying Target you ensure almost always that any enemy damage will be dealt only to the target. Honestly at this point I just stoppped playing because I felt like there was no real challenge left.


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    3. I wonder what your usual line-up is and what difficulties you play on and with which goals (is no loss concept important to you?)

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    4. As far as cheap Spells for shutting down ranged units you've got

      -Teleport

      -Blind (Level 1 is dirt-cheap and all you need against a surprising number of units)

      -Fear if all your stuff is higher-Level than them.

      Furthermore, a number of Spells are pricey up-front, but easily made very cost-efficient, such as Dragon of Chaos. (Or indeed basically any summon in Crossworlds)

      Target might be the cheapEST Spell for manipulating ranged units, but it's not the only one, and my experience is that it's only when you start getting above 10 Mana that cost becomes a meaningful factor -up to that point you should be able to take on any reasonable fight with some Mana left over, even if you're casting every single turn, even on turns you don't have a strong motive to cast. At the very beginning of the game when Mana crunch is at its tightest, you can't have Target at all, since you need to purchase Distortion first.

      Level-wise, it's not really a preference. The higher-Level units are objectively mostly junk, with inferior durability and damage. (There's a REASON nearly every Level 5 unit was hugely buffed in the transition from The Legend to Armored Princess; they were largely garbage in The legend, and to be honest they're still not that great in Armored Princess)They're amazing if you're using them when their Leadership isn't far below your current Leadership (When you can field 1-3 copies), but the game is largely reluctant to give you access to Level 5 units until you're already at 10,000+ Leadership, at which point they take casualties way too readily and do far too little damage. They have to lean on Talents or Abilities or Initiative advantage to justify their presence over mid-Level units that otherwise outperform them in essentially every way. The Paladin's Resurrection Skill lets you get away with using a Level 5 meatshield if you like, but generally a lower-Level unit will do the job 100% better. (Death Knights are one of the most amazing options for abusing Resurrection with, and they're Level 4, not 5. Bone Dragons, by comparison, pretty flatly lose the quality comparison, only really winning if you specifically care about Initiative/Speed/Flight or are planning gimmicky nonsense of using one stack to kill an entire army by whittling it down)

      And part of what puzzles me about your position is that Resurrection+Level 5 units makes Target essentially irrelevant anyway for manipulating ranged units. Just Blind one and have your Archdemons/Black Dragons/other designated fast meatshield blockade the other, if there's even multiple ranged enemies at all. Only a handful of Level 5 units AREN'T lightning-fast! (Especially when considering that eg Ogres have Drain)

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    5. I don't really have a 'usual lineup' past the early game where your options are limited. At the beginning of Armored Princess (Orcs on the March, I should say), I basically always end up using Royal Snakes and Orc Trackers for a decent chunk of time, and I almost always end up using Engineers for a while after they're unlocked (They're just too good at too many things), but around the time I've left Bolo Hell I experiment with whatever I feel like experimenting with. (That I can do at all, of course) The primary commonality is that I tend to lean heavy on units with ranged attacks, No Retaliation, and/or Talents that can let them contribute without getting into danger. (eg summoning meatshields, ranged attacking Talents, etc)

      I've never bothered with 100% no loss. Until I've maxed out Grand Strategy I avoid taking casualties if at all feasible, because that just makes all following fights easier on multiple levels (More money to go around, always operating at my maximum Leadership, etc, in addition to Grand Strategy itself), generally only accepting casualties from Bosses and the occasional Hero who has a direct attacking Spell and who it's not practical to level far enough I can stomp their forces without them acting. (Such as if the Beholder Hero is guarding a Sea Chart I need) Once I do have Grand Strategy maxed, I back out of any fight that looks like I'm going to take more than minor casualties, bar again Bosses and the occasional hero who isn't worth the waiting it would take to be able to completely avoid casualties, but I'm willing to regularly take minor casualties. (Of course, if I'm playing a Paladin I instead switch over to having a designated meatshield whose casualty rate is irrelevant, as I get Resurrection-the-Skill to Level 3 roughly around the time I max Grand Strategy)

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  3. >-Teleport

    >-Blind (Level 1 is dirt-cheap and all you need against a surprising number of units)

    >-Fear if all your stuff is higher-Level than them.

    The first one is tricky really. If you launch a high initiative unit then it does shut down a single stack of shooters, provided they are in the "dead" spot but then all his companions get to damage you and this damage can cause tremendous casualties. If you decide to wait then the ranged unit will most likely use an annoying ability you will have to deal with (mostly by purging its negative effects) and then you will also have to cast teleport in that round to shut down that ranged unit and receive no attacks from enemy melee attackers. Luck is especially bad if the shock trooper of yours was affected by this annoying effect that has to be purged.
    Teleport + time back is a thing but you come across the latter spell rarely and definitely not in the early portion of the game.

    And those two spells (fear, blind) are just general disablers. There isn't anything specific about them to call them a dedicated anti-ranged unit spell. For example Slow and Trap and recently Ice spikes are dedicated anti-melee spells (though in some cases they work against ranged units too but not to an extent Fear or Blind work against everything). In my book Target directly interferes with enemy ranged units' plans so that is a good candidate to be considered an anti-ranged spell. As well as Oil mist. Oil mist is clearly inferior though because it does not prevent ranged units from using DOT or damage boosters, they will also eventually walk out of it.

    >And part of what puzzles me about your position is that Resurrection+Level 5 units >makes Target essentially irrelevant anyway for manipulating ranged units.
    That notion comes mainly from my last playthrough. I maxed Resurrection when I reached the lands of Orks. And these fine green gentlemen have 3 units that like to deal absurd amounts of damage EVEN if you have a unit around them. Goblin-shaman, ork-shaman, blood shaman. This trio is bad and if you do not use Target on your designated martyr then the fine gentlemen refuse to play by the rules and hit your backlines hard.

    Regarding the junkiness of level 5 units I would still beg to differ. Dragons are level 5 units and with proper support they ensure no loss battles even late into the game.
    >They have to lean on Talents or Abilities or Initiative advantage
    And that is exactly what they do and thus not junk at all.

    I always relied on level 5 units in the late game and they never let me down. There wasn't a single time I felt like "ah, they are not pulling their weight anymore, let's bring little ones instead". So pretty much a preference. Interestingly enough whenever I feel like fielding lower level units in the late game, it is basically already over because I am able to one-shot everything with them and all challenge is gone. Else why would I be bothering with them if even a very weakened enemy stack can cause some model losses? Level 5 units ensure that they can endure these weak attacks and lose only health.

    Even right now I play WOTN (an easier game perhaps) and I use snow falcons, ice dragons, archdevils (2 models out of possible 30, that is an interesting story if you like to hear...) + level 4 ranged support in the form of soothsayers and snow elf mages and I am at 30k+ leadership and level 5 units are not only relevant but good mainly because of their talents, speed, initiative.
    From the standpoint of mathematics low leadership units would of course perform better the farther you are into the game. But they still come with obvious flaws and I always prefer options that provide that good trade-off of damage and durability.

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    1. If you're Teleporting a melee meatshield onto a ranged unit, the assumption is that it's something that can tank it, or that you've got support, or that you don't care about its casualties. Turning Back Time is a very silly thing to be doing in that situation, only really sensible if you were using the Teleport as some sort of alpha strike. (eg Sea Dog/Orc Veteran Fury Attack, Knight Circle Attack, etc) Turn Back Time is also actually guaranteed by midgame, at least in Orcs on the March, so saying it's unreliable to access it isn't really true.

      Orc Talent spam in the late game is indeed annoying, but if you have Level 3 Target (Which is what you need to be able to distract Shaman), then you've got access to Level 3 Magic Shackles, which makes Shaman and Blood Shaman irrelevant melee units and cripples Goblin Shaman damage output. (And they're fragile enough it's often practical to kill them before they act) Magic Shackles Level 3 is pricey, sure, but it's almost completely preventing damage, not causing you to accept it all on one unit. That's basically an argument that Target MIGHT be good for the Paladin in particular, since she has Resurrection-the-Skill.

      Level 5/WotN-wise, Snow Falcons, WotN Archdemons, and Ice Dragons are all hideously powerful units and I have to fight the temptation to just use those three in every run. Most Level 5 units in the series don't remotely meet their standards of quality, though. And have you ever actually TRIED lower-Level units alongside your high-Level spam? In most every game, mixing in high-Level units alongside low-Level units always makes it blatantly obvious they have jaws of glass and noodle muscles incapable of inflicting real damage. (Generic ranged units will often do TEN TIMES the damage dragons do. I wish that was an exaggeration) The dragons can, against slow, all-melee armies, consistently achieve no-loss victories if you're willing to spend literally half an hour on kiting enemies and whatnot, but lower-Level ranged stacks can generally do the same thing in the same conditions in much fewer turns while also being quick and efficient against nearly everything else in the game too. Even if you will literally die if you accept even a single loss, Level 5 units are largely poor choices.

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    2. This is BEFORE considering that Item support is biased toward lower-Level units. Even aside explicit cases like the Regalia that supports Griffins and Level 1 units, the Assassin's Dagger will double a Thorn Hunter's minimum damage and raise its maximum damage by 50%, where for a dragon +1 Damage is less than 2% of their base damage. (And it doesn't affect their Talents anyway, which is how you get no-loss with dragons) With the Crown of Blackthorns and an Assassin's Dagger, Thorn Hunters will frequently one-shot Match stacks *through their range penalty*. Level 5 units get basically no strong Item support, and what support they do get tends to be overly-narrow. (eg the Dragonit reduces Red Dragon Leadership requirements by 20%, and that's it) So in real play they're even worse than that!

      Initiative-wise, in Armored Princess Level 5 units suffer from Quick Draw existing. Maxed Quick Draw makes ranged-heavy forces passively out-Initiative nearly everything in the game. (Not even getting into other sources of Initiative like Onslaught, Battle Cry, Items, etc) Speed isn't particularly important to ranged units (Bar a few exceptions like Royal Thorns), and the Talents of Level 5 units are mostly ways of doing damage without taking it -which ranged units do by default.

      This isn't a case where you go 'the math might favor lower-level units BUT-'. Outside WotN having some exceptionally good Level 5 units (It even manages to make Giants tolerably useful, which is a miracle), Level 5 units are pretty uniformly inferior to fielding a ranged-heavy army. (Which by default means below-Level 5, since Cyclops are the only true Level 5 ranged unit... and are still biased toward melee combat) Their Talents are mostly variations on doing a poor job of pretending to be a ranged unit, and their Abilities are mostly niche. And support from eg Spells tends to be biased AWAY from them, such as how Resurrection will never work on Level 5 units, Turn Back Time has to be maxed to work on them (And working on them is the only benefit to maxing it...), Bless has barely any impact on their damage, etc.

      Black Dragons can justify themselves through Spell Immunity+Fire Immunity (Letting them fight safely against Fire and/or Magic-heavy armies, and making them very reliable in Keeper and Hero fights. Plus opening up Armageddon abuse), as well as through lowering enemy Initiative (Thus making it more viable to use low/mid-Initiative units), but they're always poor at damage output, even against Plants. And they're probably the best Level 5 unit in Orcs on the March.

      Seriously, it's fine that you've had fun fielding Level 5 units in your runs, but outside WotN it's impossible to make a serious argument that Level 5 units are meaningfully competitive from the perspective of trying to play 'optimally'. (And even in WotN there's still junk-y Level 5 units, like Jotun)

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  4. Time back is not at all silly when used after aggressively teleporting something. Aggressive teleport = massive bleed. Time back = resurrection of 1 -99 percent of lost models (at 100 no longer applicable). I used this tactic when I teleported sea dogs into the fray, let them use their AOE-attack, let them draw attention of absolutely everything while my ranged support worked on taking out the most dangerous enemies. I was a talented mage back then so I could cast a second spell in a round and it was Last Hero to make them retaliate to everything. Ultimately that tactic proved to be so flawless (though there were cases where I got greedy and overstayed my welcome and had the squad killed by the immense after effect damage) I initiated every battle with it and it bored me to no end and I stopped playing prematurely declaring myself a winner.
    So once again in short that it is impossible to have a unit tank an army. No matter how strong that unit is. It will take losses. And losses are no way to go. And that is why you apply an alpha resurrection skill which is Time back.
    So speaking of optimal, teleporting something aggressively isn't an optimal way to shut down a single ranged stack.

    Magic Shackles are great but I play on impossible and enemy stacks are too numerous and my leadership is not enough to use them on what I want to use them on when it matters.

    Of course I have seen what trash leadership tier units are capable of in terms of damage. But to that I would love to say the following:

    Army with no depth to it or some thematic is a killer for me. The more intricate features your units have the more interesting battle cases it creates and the more enjoyable it becomes overall. That said, I would hate to have an optimal army. I do try to play with the best performance (no loss is pretty much it) and I adjust my army composition to achieve it but foremost for me is the feeling of a challenging battle. And if I resort to using units that require minimal thinking (destroying everything from range) I may as well not play at all. Been there, done that, not going to do that again. To be honest I feel the same when I play Mage leaning highly on Intelligence and destruction magic. What is the most optimal way to play Mage? To utilize high "Intelligence".

    That is not to add to the argument rather to outline my stance in terms of discerning the kind of fun I get from playing this game.

    But back to it. Let's then define optimal. To me an optimal option in the form of a combat unit is such a unit that is able to contribute to victory while not costing you any resources. We can compound it further by introducing additional factors. Such as battle length ( any option that allows to end a battle quicker while not straying away from the primal definition of an optimal option) or difficulty of application (a unit with no ability whatsoever( = just attacker) will be considered a more optimal option compared to another unit who requires more thinking, once again if the initial definitions are not contradicted).
    Battle length was one of your points to show the optimality of lower level units.
    But to me once again if a unit costs me nothing while helps me win is an optimal option. And that would be my lovely level 5 unit.
    If we bear in mind even more factors such as allowance to (ab)use loading then one can say that a low level unit has a less harsh punishment for a mistake for each single casualty costs less than a casualty of a higher level unit, though even that is up to debate since there are some other facts such as lower defence score and thus proneness to receiving more damage that can actually be translated into more resource loss.

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  5. Having started this kind of analysis of a unit's optimality I remembered about one unit that I always included in my army and one you spoke very harshly of. It is the Scald. With some points of yours I agree, however my overall impression about the unit is good.

    Let me elaborate on that specifically. So that unit was an optimal choice for my army despite his almost non-existent contribution in the form of direct damage (almost always 0% damage at the end of a battle).
    Why was he viable for my gameplay?
    1) My mono viking army consisted of Jarls, Maidens, Soothsayers and Axe throwers. The bonus he provides to morale passively was the most significant on these units since they have the highest base values of Atk/Def. So he bolstered my army with just mere presence.
    2) I was a powerful adept of Rage. Any successful Pygmy or Doom through his debilitating ability was a direct bonus to my rage attacks.
    3) I had boots that improved Slow and Haste by 1. So whenever the unit cast any of those effects they were affected by my item and made better. -2 Slow was especially impactful.
    4) Being a great leader and singer I made great use of Phantom. Occassionally the unit cast Timelessness and it directly made my phantoms last longer. Whenever a phantom dies, the ability of the scald kicks in to boost my army's initiative. It does work in my version of the game.
    5) None of his buffing abilities backfired on me. I always opted for the pre-battle ability to increase initiative. I always went first with all my units even with Stone skin slapped on all of them. Well, yeah, there is the case of Timelessness increasing your negative effects but I had strong Order magic and purged it whenever feasible. Having less initiative than a core enemy unit is a painful event. DOTs on your units are always to be purged, else losses are imminent and I always purged them. So I can say that none of his support magic jeopardized my plans.
    6) I actually always bothered to keep the numbers up. Because at times my jarls would expose an enemy to attack and scalds would gladly weigh in (sometimes even twice should the rune of luck do its thing). And it would trigger their ability to cause additional magic damage. Pangs of conscience of a zombie, eh...

    You would probably say: "You could have a stack of slingers who would just damage your opponent and spare you a round or two."
    And I would say: "Hell, yeah, that would be optimal. But wait a second, fine gentleman, let me persist."

    Ultimately what it matters if neither scalds, nor slingers cost me any resources and I am still able to win with no loss.
    There is that some level of intricacy in the scald I spoke of (and the feeling of excitement when only good spells are cast) in the previous post and there is that simplicity in the slinger.

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  6. So the Scald was my fun option. I even went as far as to divide them into 5 stacks and battle enemies.
    Now that is definitely not an optimal approach because it opens you up to ranged units and it causes losses on your sides and depletes your resources. However I had strong spells to undo casualties or prevent them.
    Seeing so many negative effects on enemy units and so many positive effects is hilarious and everyone should try it whenever the game becomes too easy to play it normally.
    Pygmy + Doom is also a good setup for a Mage who knows the secrets of higher magic and never relents when uses his rage. Too sad I wasn't Mage in that playthrough.

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    1. So I tell you Turn Back Time is only really sensible if you're using an alpha strike such as Sea Dogs... and you tell me you used Turn Back Time as an alpha strike with Sea Dogs.

      I'm not sure why you're trying to argue with me on this point.

      You also must be confused about something, because Last hero doesn't exist in Armored Princess, so your claimed strategy couldn't have happened in Armored Princess. That'd be a moderately neat exploit in Warriors of the North and to a lesser extent Dark Side, though, and I'll admit it's not one I'd considered. Certainly, that makes the later-game version of Last Hero less terrible.

      I played on Impossible as well and I basically never had Magic Shackles' Leadership limit actually matter. It generally only cropped up if I deliberately picked a fight with a group well ahead of my current capabilities.

      Please don't try to shift the goalposts. You started out saying that Level 5 units are totally viable, and now you're trying to say that having fun is more important to you than the unit being viable. That's a fair position (I already said that it's fine that you had fun playing with Level 5 units), but it's not the position you started out arguing, and you're trying to pretend this is a continuation of your original position.

      I also question whether you've ever bothered to use a ranged-heavy army. A big part of why I stick to ranged-heavy armies is that they're a lot more interesting than melee armies, in addition to being overall more efficient etc; the process of needing to keep enemies out of your face requires a lot of thinking, where generic melee is just 'get into melee and brawl, thinking done'. The only time ranged-heavy forces are boring is when you so completely outclass the enemy that you just kill everything before it reaches you -and at that level of difference, ANYTHING is boring.

      Skald-wise, what I'm hearing is you had fun with a bad unit and are coming up with complex justifications for putting up with its bad-ness and probably are hard-wired to enjoy gambling given that you're talking about the 'excitement' involved in its randomness rather than finding that irritating. You've put out a lot of words about it, but little of substance. What little substance is there isn't 'Skalds have value that justifies using them', but rather is 'they're godawful but I could get away with it so why not'.

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  7. Hopefully this time I will make it super clear.

    We discussed the viability of aggressive teleportation usage.

    My point is that it is not a viable tool at the beginning of the battle because:
    (We take a somewhat standard enemy army as an example with 3 melee units and 2 ranged units)

    Case #1 - your aggressor does shut down an enemy ranged unit, however the rest of the enemies deals insane damage to it.
    Case #2 - if you use the wait option and let all enemy units make their turn (melee units run towards you using Run or transforming, etc), you basically allow them to do whatever to you including ranged units applying DOTs. Then you teleport in your aggressor and the unit is safe for at least two rounds because it pins down one ranged unit and the melee allies are unable to reach it in the round 2.

    Neither case is optimal. However if you have Time back you can pull off Case #1. Why? Well, because you do shut down a ranged unit in time, you have all his allies gang up on your unit and at the end of round 2 you still have everything around the aggressor-unit and you use Time back undoing all casualties.
    I had that in mind when I was making my arguments. You came up with the theory of alpha-strikes and called Time back silly in that case unless alpha-strike.
    I hope now we reach a better understanding. In short the idea is use Time back rather than Resurrection or any other reviving tool in case something of yours takes tremendous damage.

    Yes, I had Warriors of the North in mind when I told about my teleportation + last hero + time back strategy.

    Regarding the viability of level 5 units. For some reason you paid more attention to the notion of "having fun". That was not a continuation of my argument. This was:
    >But back to it. Let's then define optimal. To me an optimal option in the form of a >combat unit is such a unit that is able to contribute to victory while not costing you >any resources.
    So this is where it starts.
    >Battle length was one of your points to show the optimality of lower level units.
    >But to me once again if a unit costs me nothing while helps me win is an optimal >option. And that would be my lovely level 5 unit.
    And that is my argument regarding the topic. A solid one since the term "optimality" is defined differently by me. And according to those definitions level 5 units are no less optimal than lower level ranged units.

    Ranged-heavy army is the way to go. I supplement it with some interesting units though.
    But melee units are not boring.
    You have to think of ways to keep them off harm's way (done easier with ranged units because they have that advantage right from the beginning). You must separate and debilitate enemy forces (trap and slow helps your melee units just as much as it helps your ranged units). Advance towards weaker enemies and seize the moments of no retaliation windows (when you render a unit vulnerable by your resilient not prone to casualties stack or other ways including units' abilities to hit multiple enemies or "long range" melee attacks). You have to close off choke points attacking 2 to 1 or 3 to 1.
    Basically it is the same art of war but arguably more difficult because it doesn't boil down to the prinicple - eliminate ranged resistance, pin down the fastest stacks and deal with the rest.

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  8. And the Skald talk. I made 6 points to justify their viability in a mono viking army. And once again you only addressed my notion about "fun".
    What about point number 1? Skald does buff vikings, does he not? +1.5 to Skald's score.
    What about point number 2? Skald does make your spells, rage attacks, units' attacks stronger, does he not? Should he fail to cast proper debuffs he still contributes somehow to enemy's easier demise. +1.5 to Skald's score.
    What about point number 3? Skald and the proper gear do make Slow and Haste cast by him better, do they not? +1 to Skald's score.
    What about point number 4? Skald does synergise with Phantom both by extending its duration and using his passive ability to increase initiative after its death, does he not? +1 to Skald's score.
    What about point number 5? Skald does not jeopardize your battle plans if the player has necessary tools and plays properly, does he? +0 to Skald's score.
    What about point number 6? Skald does deal more damage without taking damage, does he not? +1 to Skald's score.
    Roughly 6 out of 10. ( +10 points for "fun" ;). 16 out of 10 seems hella good )
    The unit just can't be godawful if we consider his strenghts. And there are such in his design. Listed them above. If it was not of substance for you then I desist.
    Peasant is godawful, not Skald.

    As to the inherent randomness of the game, it always depends on the perspective.
    Is your enemy lucky to pull off something random? Irritation.
    Is your unit lucky to pull off something random? Excitement.
    Do you always dislike it even if it has a positive effect for you?

    I am always against RNG. Especially in multiplayer. But I embrace it here in King's Bounty.

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    1. My point about Turn Back Time is that if you're doing a Teleport meatshield in the first place, the general assumption is that there's some reason this is acceptable: you summoned a unit via another unit and then Teleported the (completely disposable) summon into the enemy, or the Teleported unit taking casualties is somehow less of a problem (eg it's a Ghost stack and you're relying on Soul Draining to 'fund' them anyway), or you have other support to make it less of a problem that they're endangered by enemies. (eg you're a Mage and set a Trap to catch one enemy melee unit, which prevents the rest of them from arriving on the first turn) Turn Back Time is overkill if you're not going for an alpha strike meatshield. (Again, Sea Dogs or Veteran Orcs or something)

      Level 5 unit's-wise, I paid attention to your 'having fun' point because it's the only point that isn't fundamentally incorrect. You say you're fine with spending half an hour using dragons to get a no-loss victory: I point out that ranged units will ALSO get a no-loss victory MUCH FASTER. There is no way to try to argue that the Level 5 units are 'equally optimal' when they achieve an identical result but take much longer. Which means your argument only makes the tiniest bit of sense if I assume you find using Level 5 units more enjoyable, enough so to deliberately overlook their inferiority.

      I already touched on the boringness of melee units regarding Hayterants so i won't go into that here.

      Skald-wise, I didn't bother to counter your individual points because they fundamentally don't matter. At most those points make the Skald LESS bad than I say it is -they don't make it actively good. It's still fundamentally a unit that dies too fast in melee combat while having inadequate damage output, doesn't necessarily contribute ANYTHING of use via its Talents, and its passive supporting effects are too weak to justify using it for them alone, and its mechanics are outright at odds with themselves. (ie it BOTH has a random chance to dodge AND a random chance to punish the enemy with damage when it takes damage, which are anti-complimentary effects)

      Randomness-wise, yes, I dislike randomness even when it has a 'positive' effect for me. There are certain uses RNG has in a design space, and I don't, for example, object to how units do variable damage when attacking, but the vast majority of ways RNG gets used in the vast majority of games is 100% downside. I don't get excited or happy when my units get lucky. In most games, the possibility of getting lucky is fundamentally abhorrent: I want to win on the basis of my skill as a player, not on the basis of gambling on the possibility of the RNG smiling on me. And if I DO win thanks to RNG, that cheats me of any idea of how skilled I actually am; was I playing well, or was I just really, REALLY lucky?

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    2. Getting less philosophical, in the Skald's case my primary point is that its reliance on RNG to have any possibility of Not Sucking means that using it is fundamentally gambling on the POSSIBILITY of it adding value. Or you could... field a unit that's actually useful 100% of the time, which is clearly superior to using a unit that's useful *sometimes*.

      And incidentally, the Skald IS inferior to Peasants if the RNG doesn't smile on you, with its higher base Speed being the main point in its favor... and it isn't designed to do anything to leverage that Speed, so it barely matters as an advantage. Peasants soak more damage by default (Note that Cautious works out to a roughly 40~% increase in durability... once it activates... when Skalds have such massively lower Leadership-to-HP that Peasants are STILL AHEAD even if you generously assume Cautious is active right out the gate!), deal more damage by default (Ignoring Attack, which by the way rapidly favors Peasants, Peasants do MORE THAN TWICE AS MUCH DAMAGE for a given amount of Leadership, and no, Pangs of Conscience does NOT make up the difference), and aren't reliant on burning turns on RNG or on being slotted into a specific army makeup to try to pretend they're relevant. That's just for the combat utility, ignoring that eg Peasants are one of your best Sacrifice fodder units, while Skalds are... lackluster all-around.

      The Skald is mediocre at best, and it particularly stands out when almost every other Viking unit is of notably above-average quality. (Slingers being the other exception, and they're still serviceable, just not amazing)

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  9. Just after your stubborn intransigence regarding my justification of the spell Target I should have been done talking to you ever. And here you are anew disagreeing for the sake for disagreeing just to have it your way. You have been using skalds wrong, the notion that peasants can be better is ridiculous. Sure, because you fight till the last man for their overal more favourable health/damage ratio to come into play? Is that how proper high level gameplay achieved? Peasants are horrible units with slow speed and pathetic initiative that have ZERO ways to deal damage and receive no damage in return barring extreme cases of killing stacks outright.
    Skalds deal damage indirectly through morale boost, buffs and debuffs. All of that is done by them without even drawing their swords. And when they do draw their swords they always attack targets that have no retaliation attacks because if you use them in the context of their viking army there are always jarls to do the brawling. This experience with the unit is taken from my recent walkthrough where they adequately fulfilled their role. If you used skalds just once and couldn't utilize them properly it is only your flaw, not the unit's flaw. There is no anti-synergy with their dodge and extra damage mechanic, you just let them get hit. I didn't. You didn't bother to find synergistic wargear. I did. You called them bad while the only thing that was bad was the executor. I call them good and I dominated any enemy with no loss with my viking army that had them as a unit not less pivotal as the others.

    And when I say I secure no loss battle with level 5 units I do mean that and I don't care that it takes me more rounds (your exaggeration that it takes half an hour goes a long way sure). Argue till the blue in the face that they are still trash. They are good, they are optimal, they allow to win with no losses. That is my definition of the optimality and I stand by it.

    And you still refuse to admit that the spell to undo any amount of casualties after aggressive teleportation of any valuable unit is never an overkill unless it truly is when simple resurrection/units' resurrection spells can do it cheaper. What is with narrowing it down only to units that attack multiple tiles?

    Throughout this whole argument I didn't contest your concepts of the game. I get behind them. I tried to introduce mine and you reject them despite solid evidence. One that suggests that they do work and they are viable tools. I tried to define the viability of a given game option. You saw my take on that, yet didn't touch upon it. There ARE many approaches to play the game successfully, you rejected this very idea in the beginning and thus this argument is futile.

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    1. I love how you make nonsensical assumptions about how I must be using the Peasant, and completely ignore everything I pointed out about the Skald. What it can accomplish without attacking is limited, and if you're assuming it's attacking as a follow-up to some other unit, Peasants are BETTER at that job, full stop. All Skalds have going for them is some minor passive bonuses that simply do not rate compared to how awful they are otherwise. Certainly, you CAN get away with using Skalds in your army, but... while I really love Warriors of the North, I'd argue that aside some early painpoints it's the easiest entry in the series. You can get away with a LOT in it. That's not really any kind of proof.

      Level 5 units-wise, you're the one 'arguing until your blue in the face'. You have no argument that actually makes them even sound good. It's fine that you're happy with putting up with the tremendous waste of time involved in getting no loss with them, it's your life, but you being fine with that waste doesn't make it slow, inefficient, and terrible. Nor is half an hour an exaggeration. I've done Level 5-heavy/only armies and shot for no loss, and against any vaguely threatening force half an hour IS what it takes. They're just too weak and you have to delay things further with flying about to avoid being attacked and so on.

      I have no idea what you're even trying to say about Turn Back Time. You seem to be incoherently angry, honestly.

      I'm not rejecting that there's other ways of playing the game. I've tried a tremendous variety of approaches across my two dozen or so different runs across all four entries: I'm well aware that there's different ways to play the game. I'm also aware that some approaches really don't work, or 'work' but are painfully slow and tedious with no benefit in exchange for slowing things down so tremendously.

      You are correct this argument is probably pointless. You seem too deeply invested in the notion of Level 5 units being broadly viable to consider the topic rationally, having blatantly ignored pretty much every problem with them I'm raised -such as how Item support is massively more favorable to swarmier units- and focused entirely on trying to justify your position by saying you CAN get a no-loss victory with them and when I point out other units can do the same FASTER you don't even bother to respond. Given the lack of honest engagement on your part... yeah, this is probably pointless.

      Feel free to come back when you're willing to actually engage with me honestly, though, assuming that ever happens.

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  10. Magic Shackles Leadership limit is dependant on your class - 100% of your leadership for Warrior, 140% for Paladin and 200% for Mage.

    Oil Mist is Oil Cloud in Russian. It's fire weakness effect scale with INT (you need 120 INT for -100%). Penalty to ranged damage is fixed.

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    1. Ah, that would explain the 100/140/200 numbers in the files I was never able to make sense of, and also neatly fits to Magic Shackles having wildly variable performance across files in a way I couldn't make sense of. I'm assuming it has no Intellect scaling?

      Right, I really need to get to double-checking the Oil Mist stuff. I've been meaning to dig into it for weeks now...

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    2. Magic Shackles' duration scales with INT the same way as spells like Precision, Haste, Magic Spring etc. +1 to turn per 20 INT. Leadership limit does not scale.

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