Armored Princess Unit Analysis Part 8: Neutral Sapients

And now the rest of Armored Princess' Neutrals.

Level: 2
Hiring Cost: 50
Leadership: 25
Attack/Defense: 8 / 4
Initiative/Speed: 5 / 3
Health: 25
Damage: 3-5 Physical
Resistances: Generic.
Talents: None
Abilities: Excavator (+10% Gold from overworld loot), Marine (+2 Morale in naval combat), Nimble (20% chance to dodge attacks)

+1 Initiative, +5 Health, and they've picked up Nimble. Also, they've replaced their old graphic with the Sea Dog's graphic, which is pretty nice. I always found the old Pirate graphic a bit forgettable, and not very pirate-y, and they still found a decent use for it by using it as the base for the Pirate Ghost's graphic.

Though I really hate Nimble as a mechanic, for much the same reason I hate Cautious. And unlike Cautious, Nimble is always on, no matter what. This makes Pirates incredibly aggravating, both to use and fight, as luck is a massive, massively swingy factor in their behavior. It's especially frustrating to be 90% of the way through a battle with no casualties, go to finish off a Pirate stack, and they dodge and land exactly one kill in retaliation, costing you your point toward Strategist because of pure RNG nonsense.

There's ways to play around Nimble -a number of attacking Talents are impossible to dodge, such as Guard Droid Harpoons, Spells can't miss, Rage attacks can't miss, Traps can't miss, Talents that don't directly deal damage will never miss either, and ongoing Poison/Burn is unavoidable- but it's fairly frustrating because of the swingy factor in particular. Say your expected damage output means you'll kill a Pirate stack by turn 2, with only three unit-derived attacks being aimed at them at all. Just about 51% of the time, the fact that you're risking Misses won't end up mattering, because 3 20% chances to Miss is just not that likely to result in a Miss, rendering it wholly unnecessary to bother trying to play around Nimble. But every once in a great while, all three attacks will Miss. Because.

I'd much rather see a matchup advantage effect the player can play around that's reasonably consistent in its effect and behavior. As-is, it's perfectly possible to simply save before a fight and reload if a problematic Miss occurs, effectively letting the player burn real-life time to erase the existence of the Ability. If that's the effect an Ability is having on a player's play experience, something has gone awry.

Pirates in particular are aggravating for being 3 Speed. As we'll see in a minute, Sea Dogs have also picked up Nimble, but since they're 2-Speed Running, it's a lot more effective to eg hit them with Slow, crippling their Speed and buying time to pelt them with ranged attacks until they finally die. With Pirates you'll need to stack such effects (eg Slow+Freeze), or stall them with a series of well-placed Traps, or something else more difficult to pull off if you want to stall them long enough to mitigate the RNG problems.

Sea Dog
Level: 3
Hiring Cost: 100
Leadership: 40
Attack/Defense: 18 / 10
Initiative/Speed: 7 / 2
Health: 40
Damage: 5-7 Physical
Resistances: Generic.
Talents: Fury Attack (Reload: 1. Simultaneously attacks not only the target but also enemies to the side for 5-7 Physical damage. No friendly fire risk), Running (Charge: 1. +2 Action Points)
Abilities: Excavator (+10% Gold from overworld loot), Marine (+2 Morale in naval combat), Nimble (20% chance to evade attacks)

+2 Initiative, +6 Health, and they've picked up Nimble. 7 Initiative is monstrous compared to their old tier, even accounting for how many other units have had buffed Initiative. In particular, they can easily be pushed over a decent portion of their competition by just getting a hold of Jimmy, due to Speed's importance in calculating Initiative. You might as well pick up Jimmy as soon as you can, so Sea Dogs are really solid pretty much automatically for a while. And if you luck into Jackboots? Only Archdemons will go before them. They've also picked up a spiffy new graphic, one of my favorite new ones in the series! Which is particularly impressive given that it's primarily a reskin of the usual base.

Of course, they're still a melee unit that lacks No Retaliation etc, but they're respectably durable for the early game and can use Fury Attack and careful use of Waiting to finish off stacks while getting in damage on other stacks in complete safety. Supplementing their durability with Glot's Armor is also an option, and since it's only needed as a supplement rather than a minimum requirement for them to be acceptably effective, it's not necessarily horribly burdensome to do so. The bonus Gold intake is also appreciate toward the beginning of the game, as you're probably struggling with Gold even if you're perfectly avoiding casualties.

Also worth mentioning is that with Time Back having switched from a mid-late game Rage Skill to the Spell Turn Back Time, it's easier to reverse their time really early in a match to inflict serious casualties with Frenzy Attack, undo the casualties, and next turn hit the same group of enemies with Frenzy Attack again. This applies to basically any unit, but Sea Dogs are one of the more significant abusers of turning back time. Plus, Turn Back Time can be held in reserve: if you get lucky and they dodge all incoming attacks, you can spend the Mana on something else.

As I hinted earlier, they're actually overall less annoying to fight than Pirates are, though, since it's easier to keep them contained thanks to their inferior Speed. Slow them down, and it's often possible to just keep pushing them back with Smashing Blow so they never make any progress toward your units. Nimble is frustrating, but so long as you're leaning toward ranged armies like you really ought to be, it's more tedious than actually problematic to avoid casualties, assuming you've got the rest of the battle under control.

Level: 2
Hiring Cost: 60
Leadership: 35
Attack/Defense: 10 / 8
Initiative/Speed: 5 / 3
Health: 30
Damage: 4-6 Physical
Resistances: Generic.
Talents: Berserker (Charge: 1. For 3 turns, the Barbarian has doubled Attack, Initiative, and crit chance, halved Defense, and goes out of control. This provides protection against mental effects as well. Does not end the Barbarian's turn)
Abilities: Resistant to Cold (Takes 25% less damage from 'cold' damage sources, cannot be Frozen, and snowy battlefields increase Defense by 50%)

+2 to Initiative, making them more distinct from Berserkers, since they now actually out-Initiative Berserkers when Berserk. In fact, before Initiative modifiers are taken into account, Berserking Barbarians beat everything in the game for turn order, even Archdemons! Naturally, this also makes them a lot more annoying as enemies, as 10 Initiative is almost impossible to passively beat, and it's easy to forget to account for the Initiative modification prior to it actually happening and so end up with Berserking Barbarians messing up your plans. They've also gotten a spiffy new graphic that makes the Conan influence even more obvious.

Overall though, they're pretty much the same as they were in The Legend, only even less appealing in the early game since Grand Strategy existing discourages having your units outside of your control. More of a pain to fight, still not all that desirable for the player.

Level: 2
Hiring Cost: 70
Leadership: 35
Attack/Defense: 20 / 4
Initiative/Speed: 6 / 3
Health: 30
Damage: 4-6 Physical
Resistances: Generic
Talents: Running (Charge: 1. +2 Action Points)
Abilities: Berserk (Unit is never under Hero control, and is immune to mental effects), Resistant to Cold (Takes 25% less damage from 'cold' damage sources, cannot be Frozen, and snowy battlefields increase Defense by 50%), Vengeful (Always crits when below 50% of original stack size)

They've picked up Vengeful. That's it.

Berserkers are one of the more notable units as far as benefiting from the Paladin's Resurrection Skill. Having a unit that's completely outside your control still has various issues, and the Trapper Medal in particular makes it consistently problematic to have a unit you can't control even if you don't really care about casualties per se, but once you've got Grand Strategy and Resurrection-the-Skill maxed Berserkers can be fun to mess around with and decently effective. Ideally you'll also have Tactics to give you some indirect control over them.

The threat they pose as enemies hasn't really changed. The main point worth noting is that they're actually generally less disruptive than Barbarians, unlike in The Legend.

Level: 3
Hiring Cost: 260
Leadership: 80
Attack/Defense: 20 / 20
Initiative/Speed: 5 / 5
Health: 90
Damage: 5-10 Physical
Resistances: 10% Physical, 20% Magic
Talents: Split (Charge: 1. Stack splits in half, shunting half its numbers into a new stack directly adjacent. This new stack cannot use Split, and is considered a new unit in most every respect, having its full supply of Action Points and being unaffected by any effects lingering on the spawning stack. Does not end the 'originating; stack's turn)
Abilities: Flight, Furious (Retaliations never 'run out'), Magic Resistance (+20% Magic resistance)

+2 to Attack and Defense, and... that's it. (Oh, and Separation got renamed) I'm a little puzzled by this particular stat boost, but sure, why not.

Split itself has had two key changes made to it: firstly, both stacks lack the Split Talent. (In The Legend, the 'originating' stack retained it, opening up the possibility of Gifting them a new use) Secondly, the turn order element is more consistent/sensible: you finish up the turn of the 'originator' stack before you move on to the other stack, instead of it interrupting the turn. Indirectly, the fact that it's not considered to be a summon, mechanically, is more meaningfully relevant, as Exorcism exists (And can't affect Split Griffins) and the Trapper Medal exists. (You can level it faster by exploiting Griffin stacks Splitting)

An indirect buff is the existence of Royal Griffins, sort of. Honestly, I'd usually rather use a Royal Griffin if I'm considering using a Griffin, with the only real edge the Griffin has being it's still one of the best units in the game for immediately snatching a chest.

Overall they're pretty similar to their performance in The Legend. Just don't be habitually issuing turn orders post-Split in the way you did it in The Legend, else you risk wasting unit turns. (Though honestly you're more likely to have this issue when going back to The Legend)

Level: 3
Hiring Cost: 460
Leadership: 140
Attack/Defense: 20 / 24
Initiative/Speed: 5 / 3
Health: 80
Damage: 7-12 Magical
Resistances: Generic.
Talents: None
Abilities: Soaring, Archer (Range: 6), No Melee Penalty, Paralyzing Ray (Ranged attack has a chance to put target to Sleep for one turn. The lower the target's level, the higher the chance of Sleep), Underground (+50% Attack in underground combat), Persistence of Mind (Immunity to mental effects)

+1 Initiative, +30 Health, +2 minimum Damage. All very helpful, particularly the huge spike in their previously-awful Heath. It's not super-obvious in-game, but they've also gotten a spiffy new graphic. They're still yellow, but they've switched from a craggy skin effect that makes them look like they're possibly made of some kind of rock to a much more organic look. (And switched their tentacle-tips from red to blue, oddly) Possibly the most striking change, at least when looking at the respective portraits, is that they've switched from a psychedelic rainbow eye to a red snake-slit eye. It works much better with how their jaw makes them look crank,y, taking them from the vaguely stoned look in The Legend to much more of a 'get offa my lawn you darn kids, before I have to laser you to death!'

They do suffer a bit from the stealthy issue of being Blinded by the Guard Droid's Spotlight even though they don't have Night Vision, but this only crops up in one matchup, and actually Beholders are one of the better units in the game for picking on the Guard Droid's weakness to Magic damage, so it's not as simple as saying Guard Droids existing hurts Beholder viability. In fact, Armored Princess adding multiple units vulnerable to Magic damage is a fairly significant boost to their relevancy.

As enemies, the main thing is that it's no longer trivial to just wipe Beholder stacks with Spells or the newly-relevant Rage attacks. Their immunity to mental effects crops up a bit more often than it used to, as well, but overall you still fight them broadly similarly to in The Legend.

Evil Beholder
Level: 4
Hiring Cost: 620
Leadership: 180
Attack/Defense: 22 / 28
Initiative/Speed: 4 / 3
Health: 100
Damage: 9-15 Magical
Resistances: Generic.
Talents: Mind Control (Charge: 1. Mind controls a single unit -enemy or ally- that hasn't used up its Action Points yet and directs it to attack an enemy. If the victim can't reach the chosen target, they will still move as close as they can. This consumes the victim's turn. Invalid against Level 5 units, units with immunity to Mind effects, and can only control up to 180 Leadership per Evil Beholder)
Abilities: Soaring, Archer (Range: 7), No Melee Penalty, Paralyzing Ray (Ranged attack has a chance to put target to Sleep for one turn. The lower the target's level, the higher the chance of Sleep), Underground (+50% Attack in underground combat), Persistence of Mind (Immunity to mental effects)

-1 Initiative, +1 to minimum Damage, +30 Health. Also the in-game tooltip for Mind Control claims to only work on enemies, but the game is pretty bad about getting that kind of description wrong; by a similar token the in-game tooltip claims it doesn't work on units immune to mental effects, but I've used it on Witch Hunters without issue. Anyway, much more obviously than Beholders they've also picked up a spiffy new graphic, and boy am I glad for it. The Legend's version didn't really look evil. It didn't even really look all that aware! Armored Princess' version actually does look like some angry monster, especially the relatively subtle detail of its jaw. If you pay attention, it's got a much more unevenly shaped jaw than Beholders, evocative of some kind of particularly nasty predator, or alternatively fitting to the idea that they're magical experiments gone wrong. It makes sense to me that botched experiments with Beholders might lead to wonky biology like that.

Notice that they've switched Initiative with Beholders. Now Beholders, instead of being the crappy budget version of Evil Beholders, are the... well, still mostly crappy budget edition of Evil Beholders, but the Initiative advantage gives them cases where they have an actual advantage over Evil Beholders. It's a nice subtle change! It also acts as a bit of a nerf to Mind Control, since there's a lot more units that will go first, especially in conjunction with how so many units have had their Initiative spike. This is a bit of a relief, since as I covered back in The Legend AI battlegroups tend to out-Leadership yours more the deeper you get into the game, so it primarily helps protect you from the AI rather than the other way around.

Oddly, while they get a durability boost, the overall result is that Evil Beholders are less menacing than in The Legend. It doesn't hurt any that Armored Princess has tightened up overland movement on enemies: back in The Legend, Beholders and Evil Beholders were notable for being lightning-fast as overland battlegroup representatives, so much so it was extremely difficult to escape if they spotted you at all, making it easy to get way over your head on nearly no warning. They're still one of the fastest such units in Armored Princess, but the top (and bottom) of the speed variation is just not as extreme.

Level: 5
Hiring Cost: 5000
Leadership: 1400
Attack/Defense: 50 / 67
Initiative/Speed: 1 / 3
Health: 650
Damage: 60-70 Physical
Resistances: 30% Physical, 60% Poison, 30% Fire
Talents: Stun (Charge: 1. Does 70 Physical damage to an adjacent enemy and Stuns them. The target can't retaliate), Push (Reload: 2. Pushes an adjacent enemy one tile away and does 80-100 Physical damage in the process. The target can't retaliate)
Abilities: Archer, Sniper, Stone (30%/60%/30% Physical/Poison/Fire resistance. Persistence of Mind is thrown in. The Cyclops is an inorganic unit, rendering it impossible to heal but immune to Plague etc), No Melee Penalty

+10 Attack and +20 Defense, +130 Health, +10 to min/max damage, +1 to Speed (!), Stun's minimum damage has gone up 10... Cyclops have been massively buffed by Armored Princess, going from an early miniboss that's lacking in the player's hands to being a surprisingly fantastic unit aside the godawful Initiative. The additional Speed has a particularly pronounced effect on their utility, allowing them to chase down enemies to Push or Stun, as well as giving them actual kiting potential and making their alternative utility as a melee unit much more worth taking advantage of. On top of all that, Armored Princess likes to give you access to them earlier than The Legend did, so their particularly high utility in the early game is something you get to try out for yourself!

More subtly, the addition of Demonologists and Turn Back Time having been converted into the Spell Time Back make it a lot more viable to have Cyclops tank. Demonologists can undo casualties on Cyclops once per battle, while Time Back can be cast without worrying about Rage cooldowns -you can't cast it back-to-back effectively, but it's still nice. Reaper's Turn Back Time could end up unavailable to you when you actually wanted it because of a decision you'd made a couple turns ago. Time Back doesn't run into that until you're actually running low on Mana.

Meanwhile as enemies they actually haven't changed too much. Back in The Legend, a player tended to try to kill them with Rage and/or Spells, so the Defense spike isn't too important, and it's not like a player was liable to try to slow them down and get melee on top of them or anything of the sort. As such, the biggest change in that whole thing is that their Health requires higher quality of Spells to be wiping them out, and that's offset by Rage being more viable as well as new damaging Spell options that bypass their resists while being perfectly competent and reliable in general. The net result is the main thing you have to keep in mind is you can't so easily lock down their ranged combat now, with overall tactics otherwise being broadly similar in nature and effectiveness.

The Cyclops overhaul is one of the most memorable positive changes in Armored Princess, at least for me.

Emerald Green Dragon
Level: 5
Hiring Cost: 9000
Leadership: 1900
Attack/Defense: 53 / 60
Initiative/Speed: 5 / 6
Health: 800
Damage: 80-110 Physical
Resistances: 10% Physical, 30% Magic, 50% Fire
Talents: Target Capture (Reload; 2. Targets an enemy 1 empty tile away, dragging them adjacent and doing 130 Physical damage per Emerald Green Dragon in the attacking stack. The target doesn't get to retaliate, and will eg set off traps it's been pulled into), Mana Source (Reload: 3. Inflicts 50-70 Magic damage on all adjacent units, granting the owning Hero Mana based on the damage done)
Abilities: Flight, Hates Giants (Double damage against Giants, and -2 Morale if Giants are in the army), Fire Protection (50% Fire resistance), Magic Resistance (50% Magic resistance), Persistence of Mind (Immunity to mental effects)

+10 to Attack and +11 to Defense, -2 to Initiative, +100 Health, +300 to Leadership. Can't lead as many and they're no longer out-Initiativing almost everything, but they're more imposing in a brawl overall.

It's not immediately obvious, but as enemies they're actually overall a bit less threatening than in The Legend. The Health boost doesn't compensate for the Leadership increase, and the player gets a large amount of damage out of Rage and possibly also Spells in Armored Princess, neither of which cares about the Emerald Green Dragon's increased Attack and Defense. As such, they're actually easier to nuke down, not to mention easier to nuke down before they get a chance to move thanks to the Initiative decrease.

Red Dragon
Level: 5
Hiring Cost: 12000
Leadership: 2000
Attack/Defense: 53 / 53
Initiative/Speed: 6 / 7
Health: 870
Damage: 100-120 Fire
Resistances: 15% Physical, 30% Magic, 80% Fire
Talents: Fire Flood (Reload: 2. Infinite straight-line attack that does 100-140 Fire damage to all units in the line with a chance to Burn them)
Abilities: Flight, Dragon Breath (Melee attacks hit the tile beyond the target, with a 50% chance to Burn hit units. This includes retaliations), Immune to Fire (80% Fire resistance and cannot be Burned), Magic Resistance (+30% Magic resistance), Persistence of Mind (Immunity to mental effects)

They've picked up another unmentioned-by-Ability 5% Physical resistance, +100 HP, +10 to Attack and Defense, and Fire Flow got renamed to something cooler. Unlike the Emerald Green Dragon, there's no trade-offs happening here at all.  They still suffer from some overlap with Black Dragons, and arguably it's even worse since Black Dragons have had their Talent made far more flexible, but they're also contextually improved from Fire damage being more widespread and Burn immunity being far more useful. Black Dragons have those points too, but Fire Flood can be a safer way of inflicting these improved Burns than the Black Dragon's Talent, which does a surprising amount to boost them into relevance. Furthermore, Black Dragons have lost a point of Initiative, which makes Red Dragons the better choice for getting damage and Burns out ASAP.

In fact, by a similar token Red Dragons tend to be much more frustrating than Black Dragons to fight in Armored Princess, even for a Mage, admittedly depending in part on the map shape/length. If you're able to wipe out a given stack before it gets its second move, Black Dragon stack might not have managed an attack at all, where a Red Dragon stack will have definitely at least Fire Flooded some of your forces if you didn't manage to wipe it out before it got a move at all.

Black Dragon
Level: 5
Hiring Cost: 15000
Leadership: 2500
Attack/Defense: 70 / 70
Initiative/Speed: 6 / 8
Health: 1000
Damage: 110-130 Fire
Resistances: 20% Physical, 80% Magic, 80% Fire
Talents: Rain of Fire (Reload: 2. Moves up to the Black Dragon's full Action Point total, automatically attacking units the Black Dragon flies over for 110-140 Fire damage with an 80% chance for each affected unit to be Burned)
Abilities: Flight, Dragon Breath (Melee attacks hit the tile beyond the target, with a 50% chance to Burn hit units. This includes retaliations), Immune to Fire (80% Fire resistance and cannot be Burned), Magic Immunity (Immune to most Spells, and 80% Magic resistance), Persistence of Mind (Immunity to mental effects), Power of the Dragon (Enemies below Level 5 have -1 Initiative)

Their already invisibly-high Physical resistance has climbed another 5%, their Health is +200, their Attack and Defense have gone up by 14 each, and in exchange they've lost a point of Initiative.

Additionally, Power of Fire got renamed to something completely awesome, and more importantly Orcs on the March (Not the base Armored Princess game) overhauled its logic so the player can define a complete flight path. It can take a bit to get used to its mechanics; 'turning' is an actual concept when using it, where the Black Dragon has to circle around if it wants to go backwards, and of course the game won't let you end your move on top of units or on impassable terrain, and the whole thing can lead to situations where it's not immediately obvious why X move is possible and Y move is not. Even so, it's fantastic that it's no longer this thing where you're at the mercy of the game's not-very-bright autopathing, and it does a lot to make Black Dragons memorable and cool units to use.

So basically Black Dragons have shifted from being incredibly obnoxious to fight (Because they're so hard to get first turn on and are immune to Spells) but not that useful for the player (In The Legend, they're not really tough enough for the period of the game they start showing up in, in terms of avoiding unnecessary casualties, and their damage output for the Leadership is godawful, while their Spell immunity is of limited use to the player, bar potentially exploitative behavior in Keeper fights), to being only moderately obnoxious as enemies and actually much more useful combatants for the player. Awesome.

One oddity of Rain of Fire's behavior is that you can use it to fly over Gremlins. This may or may not have been true back in The Legend, but it didn't really matter if so, because Gremlin Towers are almost always up against battlefield edges and you couldn't define a path manually in The Legend. Armored Princess also introduces some Keeper battlefields that place Gremlins in more relevant locations. It's weird, because Black Dragons still can't fly normally over Gremlins in Armored Princess: you have to use Rain of Fire.

Note that there's several options in Armored Princess and especially Orcs on the March for nuking Black Dragons down with Spells, as eg Death Star just flat-out ignores Spell immunity. This makes Black Dragons considerably less frustrating to fight for a Mage, which I appreciate overall. I think Black Hole ignoring Spell Immunity is overkill and takes away all the challenge of Black Dragons, but aside from Black Hole being absurdly overpowered I'm all for this change.

Thorn Warrior
Level: 1
Hiring Cost: 10
Leadership: 8
Attack/Defense: 4 / 3
Initiative/Speed: 6 / 3
Health: 9
Damage: 1-3 Physical
Resistances: 50% Poison, -100% Fire
Talents: Sowing (Charge: 1. Spawns a Thorn Warrior or Hunter from an adjacent corpse, destroying the corpse, whose Leadership is 2-4 per Thorn in the spawning stack)
Abilities: Plant (+100% vulnerability to Fire, +50% resistance to Poison, immunity to mental effects, assorted secondary implications), Eyeless (Immunity to Blind, Precision, and Greasy Mist. Also can detect invisible creatures)

+2 Initiative, +1 Health. Nice!

The Initiative is the big thing here, and gives more justification to considering using Thorn Warriors over Thorn Hunters. 6 Initiative with 3 Speed is actually pretty solid, and in particular actually makes Thorn Warriors a safer way to get your Sowing chain started against moderate-Initiative enemies. You're still probably better off running Thorn Hunters or Royal Thorns anyway, unfortunately, as Grand Strategy makes it undesirable to use straight melee attacker early on while later on you'll have access to too many more useful units, but it's something.

Perhaps more important is that they're much more distinctive of an enemy now: in The Legend there was a fairly narrow range of stats that would let Thorn Warriors ever have a real advantage against your troops as compared against Thorn Hunters. In Armored Princess, Thorn Warriors are still less of a priority target than Thorn Hunters just because of the ranged damage point, but Thorn Warriors can easily outspeed enough of your force that you can't just save them for last, and Sown Thorns in particular can actually have Thorn Warriors be the more problematic one to have produced if you've got forces nearby. Thorn Warriors are quite likely to go before your stuff and thus get in damage at all, where a Thorn Hunter stack being Sown would be casually crushed by your forces.

So yeah, much more interesting,

Thorn Hunter
Level: 1
Hiring Cost: 10
Leadership: 8
Attack/Defense: 4 / 1
Initiative/Speed: 2 / 3
Health: 6
Damage: 1-2 Physical
Resistances: 50% Poison, -100% Fire
Talents: Sowing (Charge: 1. Spawns a Thorn Warrior or Hunter from an adjacent corpse, destroying the corpse, whose Leadership is 2-4 per Thorn in the spawning stack)
Abilities: Archer (Range: 4), Plant (+100% vulnerability to Fire, +50% resistance to Poison, immunity to mental effects, assorted secondary implications), Eyeless (Immunity to Blind, Precision, and Greasy Mist. Also can detect invisible creatures), No Melee Penalty

+1 Health. That's it. That's 20% more Health, though!

Context-wise, they haven't changed much. Shroud has become Greasy Mist, but the impact is fairly low, and it's not like Thorn Hunters would be susceptible to the Fire vulnerability-increasing portion of it if it could hit them. They no longer so purely kick aside Thorn Warriors, as I just covered, but overall how you use them and how you fight them are very similar. That's not a bad thing, as Thorn Hunters were pretty well-made as was.

Royal Thorn
Level: 4
Hiring Cost: 600
Leadership: 380
Attack/Defense: 30 / 30
Initiative/Speed: 2 / 1
Health: 360
Damage: 20-30 Physical
Resistances: 50% Poison, -100% Fire
Talents: Germination (Reload: 2. Spawns a Thorn Warrior or Hunter in an adjacent tile, type randomly chosen, whose Leadership is 150-300 per Royal Thorn in the spawning stack)
Abilities: Archer (Range: 6), Plant (+100% vulnerability to Fire, +50% resistance to Poison, immunity to mental effects, assorted secondary implications), Eyeless (Immunity to Blind, Precision, and Greasy Mist. Also can detect invisible creatures), No Melee Penalty

+80 Health plus No Melee Penalty. (Which is to say their melee damage is actually lower than in The Legend...) Germination also reloads a turn faster!

A more indirect buff to Royal Thorns is the addition of Transmute to the skill list. Being able to generate disposable minions you expect to die is actually a great way to feed your Mana needs, even with allies and summons giving reduced values. Especially since Thorns can summon more Thorns that summon more Thorns, etc, making them by far the best source of casualty-derived Mana. And of course they've been bolstered in their effectiveness by Thorn Hunters and Thorn Warriors being bolstered.

The overall result is that Royal Thorns have gone from a good unit to a fantastic unit, and they're a lot of fun to use too.

The actual play experience isn't too different in rubrics, but that's fine.

Witch Hunter
Level: 3
Hiring Cost: 300
Leadership: 120
Attack/Defense: 20 / 14
Initiative/Speed: 5 / 3
Health: 110
Damage: 5-8 Physical
Resistances: 50% Magic
Talents: Magic Block (Charge: 1. Targets a single enemy stack of mage-type units. For three turns, the affected stack will take Magic damage any time they attack or use a Talent), Magical Aid (Reload: 2. Applies a random magical buff to to the user's stack for 2 turns. Does not end the user's turn or use AP), Magic Lock (Reload: 3. A single target enemy is unable to use any of its Talents for a few turns. Does not end the Witch Hunter's turn or consume AP)
Abilities: Mage Hunter (50% Magic Resistance, +50% damage against mages, automatically purges all negative effects at the beginning of its turn), Persistence of Mind (Immunity to mental effects)

For all that it's a fairly obvious Robber/Marauder reskin holy crap is the Witch Hunter distinct as a unit... not to mention infuriating as all heck. When I say Mage Hunter purges all negative effects, I do mean all of them. Even mundane effects like Poison, Burn, etc get wiped, in spite of the antimagical theme. Witch Hunters are obviously particularly amazing against mage-heavy forces, but they're really an amazing unit in general. Their ridiculousness is somewhat less stupendous in player hands, but they drop to a mere 'very good'. They're simultaneously one of my favorite and one of my most hated new units in the entire series.

I'm not actually sure if Persistence of Mind actually does anything in practice. It's possible it does, because for instance Sleep interacts with damage over time by having the unit miss its turn anyway and just not miss any following turns if Sleep had a duration greater than 1, and Sleep is a mental effect, but mental effects are heavily inclined toward 'negative effects that work by doing things over time', so I'm not sure Mage Hunter doesn't make it redundant.

Also notice that 2 of their three Talents are completely free to use. The AI is pretty bad about prematurely ending its turn, which actually contributes to them being very irritating to fight, as it means their actual performance varies wildly. This is further compounded by the randomness of Magical Aid, which can range from 'ruins your plans' to 'actually impairing the ally to no real benefit'. (Such as imposing Stone Skin on a unit you weren't going to target with any of your own units anyway, which is now disadvantaged in turn order and so even easier for you to play around)

Magic Block is their most maddening Talent, and to be completely clear it does scale to the Witch Hunter stack's size. The infuriating part comes when you're trying to get Grand Strategy ranks and don't notice one of your units being hit with Magic Block (Its animation is fairly subtle, and easy to overlook in their frenzy of Talent-usage) or do notice but underestimate how much damage it will do or fail to realize it applies even when a unit attacks, not just when it uses Talents... and suddenly you've taken a casualty where the only ways to avoid it were to have them do nothing or Dispel the effect before they did anything.

Toward the very beginning of the game, Witch Hunters are very serviceable in the player's hands for being durable for the early game, and so able to function as a relatively generic melee unit that tanks hits without taking casualties. They'll probably fall to the wayside for a while once battles reach the point where being hit probably means a casualty and you're still building up Grand Strategy, but once you're either done with Grand Strategy or stop caring about it (500 more Leadership isn't that important once you've got 10,000) they pop back into being a really useful unit, if erratic. Magic Lock can be handled by Necromancers, but Necromancers offend a lot of units: Witch Hunters don't. Magic Block, meanwhile, is a way for Witch Hunters to be contributing damage on the very first turn in spite of being a relatively generic melee unit, and the AI makes no effort to account for Magic Block and will just suck up the damage. Magical Aid shouldn't be counted on, but while it usually won't give you what you want it usually won't make things worse, and if you're really concerned you can check the numbers and just avoid slapping it down on a unit whose turn order will actually be impacted by Stone Skin lowering their Initiative.

Their resistance to Magic is also fairly noteworthy. Most units that are seriously resistant to Magic damage have fairly low Health, and Armored Princess has softened the trend of 'units that do Magic damage probably have weak damage output', so having an option for tanking Magic damage that's actually good at it can be fairly useful in various matchups. Beholders and Evil Beholders particularly hate them: Witch Hunters take poor damage from their attacks, can't be put to Sleep, and can't be Mind Controlled, while the Witch Hunters can slap Magic Block on the Beholders so they take more damage than the Witch Hunters when attacking them. Paladins are another unit that has good Magic resistance and solid durability (Great durability, in fact), but Paladins are also slow and can't really contribute until they're on top of the enemy or your forces need healing/resurrection, making Witch Hunters the better option for a durable Magic-resistant unit that requires little support to help in a fight.

So like I said: Witch Hunters are fantastic yet infuriating.

Level: 4
Hiring Cost: 800
Leadership: 150
Attack/Defense: 36 / 20
Initiative/Speed: 6 / 3
Health: 100
Damage: 11-13 Physical
Resistances: 25% Poison
Talents: Backstab (Charge: 1. A target enemy whose current facing and environmental location would allow a unit to strike it from behind is attacked for 17 Physical damage and Poisoned. If a Trap is in the position that would be attacked from, Backstab is interrupted, and the Assassin is now standing in the tile the Trap is in, having activated it), Murder (Charge: 1. Does 13 Physical damage to an adjacent enemy. If the targeted stack is slain by Murder, the Assassin promptly receives 2 Action Points, immediately granting it another turn, and Backstab gains a charge, even if that takes it over its normal max)
Abilities: No Retaliation, Venomous (30% chance to Poison the enemy for 3 turns), Poison Resistance (25% Poison resistance), Servant of Death (Buffs of any kind are instantly purged, and the Assassin is immune to Mind effects except for Hypnosis. When Hypnotized, Servant of Death stops working until the Hypnosis ends), Find Weakness (Whenever the Assassin finishes off an enemy troop with either a critical hit or with Backstab, the Assassin gains a damage bonus of 5% against that type of unit. This bonus lasts for the entire game, or until the Assassin stack is completely destroyed in battle or terminated out of battle. The bonus caps at 100% against a given unit type)

The Assassin introduces all kinds of weird oddities to your game experience. It's the one and only unit in the entire series that causes facing to actually matter, which can be frustrating since facing is not something you have any direct control over, and default unit behavior makes it close to impossible to have a unit move without exposing its back. Generally, you'll need to invoke a Talent or block off the rear with a Trap if you want to move without opening your units to a Backstab. It's not too aggravating overall, but it's one of those cool, inspired-by-aesthetic details I really like in the series that manages to have a somewhat negative impact on 'pure play'.

That said, I do really like that they bothered to make Trap work on them, rather than handling the whole thing of a backstab as purely an animation that is functionally a weirdly-animated ranged attack. The latter is what most games would do, and it basically always bothers me.

Find Weakness is also very strange, and I dislike its design a lot more, since Backstab is something you ideally use early in the fight, and critical hits are purely up to chance, making it a nuisance to actually grow it. As a Neutral unit, it's difficult to even boost their Morale to increase that crit chance. There's also the wonky point that you're encouraged to either get Assassins into your army as soon as possible and never let them leave or basically ignore them, as they're drastically superior if you consistently work to 'level up' Find Weakness. It's an interesting mechanic, don't get me wrong, but I'd have preferred a different implementation, and thankfully this particular implementation of it doesn't survive into later games.

For the player, Assassins are one of the best melee units in the game. They can contribute early readily enough with Backstab, which always places percentile damage on the target, making them an excellent tool for softening up targets, have a good Initiative and Speed making it entirely practical for them to use Wait shenanigans to get in proper melee attacks without being in a position for the enemy to actually attack them (ie they can back out of reach of 2-Speed units, Wait, and then attack them once they've followed), and Murder simplifies the decision-making process involved when a weakened enemy is on the field. Where normally you might want to urgently attack some other unit, yet also really would like the stack finished off (Such as because it's a stack that can inflict percentile damage or otherwise contribute noticeably even when mostly-gone), and have a tricky decision as a result, the Assassin simply Murders the weakened stack and then Backstabs the big stack. They don't actually push Royal Snakes into irrelevance -Lunge is just too huge, and it reloads on its own- but in my experience I tend to transition from Royal Snakes to Assassins fairly early in the game and not go back unless my luck with Items ends up favorable for Royal Snakes.

As enemies, Assassins are moderately irritating to play around, but not typically dangerous so long as you keep Backstab in mind. Notably, the AI doesn't move and then use Backstab, and so you can effectively stall Assassins for a turn if you can arrange for them to Backstab something you don't care about, such as by generating disposable summons. They also always prioritize Backstab over any other possible course of action if Backstab is an option for them, which makes them very easy to predict and manipulate: if there's only one Assassin on the field, consider setting up a unit to be open to a Backstab and then set a Trap behind them. Just remember that the Assassin will actually teleport to the new location if you do this; you don't want to be dumping them right into the middle of your ranged units unthinkingly.

The main point for playing around Backstab, though, is to just leave your units in back, prioritize killing the Assassin so you're freed up to move about, and keep an eye out for opportunities to move units where they won't be vulnerable to a Backstab. (Such as having a Flying unit advance and land in front of a rock) This has the somewhat odd effect that Tactics is both badly hurt and significantly helped by fighting Assassins: it's hurt because you shouldn't take advantage of the ability to place units more forward. It helps because it lets you rearrange your forces if their initial formation is less than ideal without opening anyone up to Backstabs. It's a bit of a weird dynamic.

Assassins are a bit of a personal favorite of mine overall, being very effective, interesting, and nuanced, without being overly dominating. They're probably my single favorite unit added by Armored Princess, honestly.

Note that the in-game description for Servant of Death claims the Assassin loses all their Talents and Abilities while Hypnotized, not just Servant of Death. This is a localization mistake; all that gets disabled is Servant of Death itself, which is quite obviously because Hypnosis is mechanically classed as a buff and so Servant of Death would instantly purge it if there wasn't some special-casing. I'm not sure why they didn't just have the Assassin immune to Hypnosis in the first place, mind, but still.

Royal Griffin
Level: 4
Hiring Cost: 1200
Leadership: 300
Attack/Defense: 35 / 30
Initiative/Speed: 6 / 6
Health: 220
Damage: 20-30 Physical
Resistances: 50% Magic, -10% Fire
Talents: Cheer (Charge: 1. For 2 turns, all allied Elves and Humans get 50% more Attack and Initiative), Heavenly Guard (Charge: 1. Summons an Angelic Guard stack into a random location within 2 tiles of the Royal Griffin, whose Leadership is 150 per Royal Griffin in the summoning stack)
Abilities: Flight, Furious (Retaliations never 'run out'), Magic Protection (50% Magic resistance), Dragon Despiser (Doubled damage against Dragons, and -2 to Morale if there's an allied Dragon in the army), Regal (+1 Morale to allied Humans and Griffins-the-unit)

Humans may still lack a mono-species Morale bonus, but they can essentially approximate it with a Royal Griffin. Royal Griffins are also basically Griffins 2.0, with Angelic Guard comparing to Split, only with disposable troops being generated. (Though the Angelic Guard won't get a turn until next turn, as typical of summons, unlike a Splitting stack)

If you look at the code, Regal technically also boosts Angelic Guard, but in normal play Angelic Guard will always be summons and thus exempt from Morale.

It's somewhat interesting to me as well how Cheer bolsters Humans and Elves given the inactive code that would make Humans and Elves friendly with each other. It has me wondering if the devs were considering activating that code after all in this game, with eg the Royal Griffin both reinforcing this alliance and yet helping keep the two races distinct. (Because Royal Griffins don't boost the Morale of Elves)

In any event, I'm not particularly joking or exaggerating about the Royal Griffin being basically just a better Griffin. The primary caveats to this are the inferior utility at first-turn Chest grabs and that Royal Griffins are undesirable if you want to use dragons in your group. For most purposes, Split is inferior to producing a completely disposable summon, with the turn delay before acting being insignificant most of the time, the lack of control over where the summon arrives being a minor nuisance, and Royal Griffins have a nice grab-bag of advantages. Griffins do have the very minor advantages of a slight Physical resistance and no Fire weakness, but Heavenly Guard all by itself essentially makes up for this.

By extension, Royal Griffins are fought and used fairly similarly to Griffins. You can't treat them exactly the same due to eg the Speed difference, but in broad terms? Pretty much the same.

Angelic Guard
Level: 3
Hiring Cost: N/A
Leadership: 60
Attack/Defense: 20 / 15
Initiative/Speed: 6 / 5
Health: 33
Damage: 4-7 Physical
Resistances: 50% Physical, 25% Magic, -10% Fire
Talents: None
Abilities: Flight, Furious (Retaliations never 'run out'), Phantom (50% Physical resistance and can travel through solid objects), Negates Magic (25% Magic resistance, and is immune to negative effects)

There are edge cases where Phantom actually influences an Angelic Guard's travel behavior, in spite of having Flight. Some terrain obstacles can block even Fliers without blocking Phantoms, though it's rare.

Angelic Guard are another new unit that doesn't leave a corpse when slain, though this isn't exactly surprising. Curiously, even though Ghost Pirates are immune to Traps, with the only obvious explanation being the Phantom Ability providing such, Angelic Guard are not immune to Traps. I really don't know what to make of this.

Angelic Guard are, of course, normally only seen when a Royal Griffin summons them. (Though Rune Mages will also summon them if no valid targets exist for them to copy; another example of the series associating Griffins with Humans) They're exceptionally useful for distracting enemies, though do note that their Health is fairly poor and they get by primarily on their high Physical resistance and to a lesser extent the modest Magic resistance. This makes them a good target for nuking with Spells or either of Lava Call or Fiery Phantoms (Other damaging Rage attacks are all either Physical damage or percentile damage) when you're fighting them, and by contrast in player hands their comparative vulnerability is rarely an issue. Fire damage remains rare, Poison damage is uncommon, and anyway most of the units that have them are either not very good or, for one reason or another, are unlikely to get 'caught' on the Angelic Guard. (eg dragons fly and are very fast, and so have no reason to fixate on the Angelic Guard)

The overall usage is fairly straightforward: summon them, and then hurl toward the enemy to soak damage and put out retaliations. They admittedly won't do that much damage in real terms due to how relatively small a group will be summoned at a time, but they're also not costing you anything either, and the more useful part is delaying enemy melee anyway.

Level: 5
Hiring Cost: 3600
Leadership: 1100
Attack/Defense: 50 / 55
Initiative/Speed: 4 / 2
Health: 780
Damage: 60-80 Physical
Resistances: 15% Physical, 15% Fire
Talents: Pacify (Reload: 3. Does 70-90 Physical damage to an adjacent enemy. Additionally, the target's Initiative is reduced to 1 and it will always do its minimum damage, temporarily)
Abilities: Troll Skin (If aboveground and in daylight hours, Physical and Fire resistance are doubled. If underground and/or at night, +1 to Speed and Initiative, and the Troll has Regeneration), Petrify (When the stack is destroyed, a statue is left behind, acting as a destructible environmental object), Malevolent (Anytime any unit dies, so long as it wasn't slain by a Spell, +5 Attack for the rest of the battle. This stacks)

It's somewhat embarrassing how long it took me to realize that Trolls are, graphically, a reskin of Ogres. It's pretty substantially altered -the skullcap has no equivalent on the Ogre, the chestplate lacks a clear counterpart, etc- and Trolls have brand-new animations (Specifically, their 'laugh when a unit dies' animation and their 'turn into a stone statue' death animation) and all-around new behaviors, so in some sense it's not that surprising I overlooked it, but still.

Trolls have some odd ways in which they get lumped in with Orcs-the-faction, such as being a promotion option for Orc Veterans, being a possible summon from the Orc-summoning Companion in Champion of the Arena, and miscellaneous item effects that benefit Trolls and some or all Orcs, but even aside from being a Neutral unit in racial Morale terms they also weren't granted the Adrenaline mechanic by Orcs on the March. It feels kind of like a missed opportunity to play around with the faction stuff; it could've been neat to have a few non-Orcs that use Adrenaline and so mix well with Orcs, and it would also have made the Adrenaline-affecting Skills a bit less narrow in their applicability. I'm kind of curious why the devs didn't. Did it just not occur to them, or was it rejected for a technical reason, or what?

Note that while I say Troll Skin 'doubles' Physical and Fire resistance during the day, that's relative to their base. If you have gear adding 15% Physical resistance, they don't double from 30% to 60%, they just add the usual 15% to hit 45%. Also note that Trolls leave the statue in place of a normal corpse; you can't call them back from death or use their body to generate an Eviln or the like. The stone statue is an Object, with everything that implies, and its Health is scaled to the number of Trolls that made up the stack at the start of the battle.

Trolls are notable as being the only unit in the game that plays substantially differently depending on time of day and/or environment. Usually there's not really any reason to pay attention to the time or adjust your unit list based on whether you're heading underground or not, as effects like Night Vision or the Morale boost sea-going units get for naval combat just don't have a big enough impact to be worth changing your unit list over. Trolls, however, are either fast and regenerative or slower but take less damage, encouraging different approaches to using them. Or, since nighttime Troll effects are generally more useful than daytime Troll effects (Who cares about taking somewhat less damage when the alternative is erasing all the damage you take?), making a point of swapping Trolls into Reserves during daytime overland battles since Trolls are very much at their best at night and/or underground. By the same token, if you see Trolls in an enemy group, you may wish to actually bother with checking the in-game time and adjust your plans to accommodate this information. (ie if it's daylight right then, maybe attack them immediately even though you'd planned to leave shortly, while if it's nighttime maybe go do something else for the moment)

As player units, Trolls are notable for being the single toughest unit to have Regeneration in the entire series. So long as you're careful, it's entirely possible to have Trolls fairly constantly in melee combat, taking hits, and yet never taking a casualty. Particularly notable is that Trolls are usually accessible fairly early in the game, before your Leadership can support more than 2-3 of them, meaning there's actually a fairly lengthy chunk of the game where you'll have access to them and so long as you don't let them get completely dogpiled they're basically invincible if the battle is under darkness. Even later into the game, it doesn't take that much support to let them tank hits without immediately suffering a casualty; often a simple Stone Skin will let them pull this off just fine. The fact that they have Pacify helps there too, though do keep in mind that critical hits will still overrule it so Pacifying a unit with a wide damage range (eg Thorn Warriors) isn't actually completely reliable for crippling their damage.

As enemies, Trolls can be utterly infuriating if you're fighting them at night, particularly if it's early enough in the game that it's genuinely a challenge for you to inflict a casualty on them in one turn. The fact that they're 3 Speed at night also gives you worryingly little time to wear them down compared to a lot of comparable threats, and notably their resistances make Rage less effective than one might hope at getting in the damage. Slowing them down with Traps while you focus on other units is less effective than one might hope thanks to the Regeneration, too. Basically, the ideal is that you fight them in daylight. If they're in a cave and so it's not an option... consider coming back later, when you can overpower them with an overly-large army. Seriously, Trolls in darkness are shockingly problematic until quite late in the game.

Once you are late in the game, Trolls tend to actually be somewhat useful as enemies: it's not that hard to kill them, and the statues they leave behind can easily tie up enemies for multiple turns. In particular, the AI has a bad habit of attacking Objects if one is in reach and none of your units is, so slower units can easily be halving their Speed for one or more turns because they won't leave the statue alone, or even more so if their Talents incline them to do so. The assorted snakes, for example, will do things like back away so they can perform a Strike on the statue.

Note that Malevolent will trigger even on the deaths of summons. Trying to tie up Trolls with Thorn spam is actually potentially counter-productive, and on the flipside using Thorn spam alongside your own Trolls is passively boosting them. An additional 12.5% of base damage per death is non-trivial, and while there's an upper limit to how far it can go it can still have a surprisingly significant impact on Troll damage output. That has the interesting consequence of making Trolls one of those rare units whose utility is overall far greater in hands other than the Mage's. While the Mage has clear preferences in units, these usually center around points like 'making sure you can cast your Spells as soon as possible', rather than a unit actually being less effective in the Mage's hands than in the Warrior or Paladin's hands. (With the caveat that the Paladin is generally better at using glass cannons thanks to Resurrection-the-Skill) It'd be nice if there were more such units, but I'm happy enough to have any at all, unlike in The Legend.

Level: 4
Hiring Cost: 1200
Leadership: 210
Attack/Defense: 30 / 25
Initiative/Speed: 6 / 2
Health: 160
Damage: 12-14 Physical/Magical/Fire
Resistances: 25% Magic, 25% Fire
Talents: Thread of Life (Charge: 1. Does 14-18 Magic damage to a single enemy anywhere on the field, 40% of that damage then being used to heal/resurrect an allied stack. Machines and Magic-immune units can't be targeted), Demonic Beasts (Reload: 3. A given battlefield randomly generates an arbitrary list of tiles that are valid places to target Demonic Beasts. When using Demonic Beasts, you select an unoccupied instance of these tiles, and then 105-210 per Demonologist of Demons [the species, not the specific unit] is summoned into that tile)
Abilities: Flaming Skull (Range: 4. Against most units, ranged attack does Fire damage. Against Demons, it does Magic damage and is increased by 50% besides), Demonology (+1 Morale if friendly Demons-the-faction are around, and +5 Attack in fiery environments), Gatekeeper (+2 to Attack and Defense every time Demons are summoned to the battlefield, or Teleport, Infernal Exchange, or Bone Gate are utilized, or a Dragon of Chaos is summoned. This stacks), Magic Resistance (25% Magic resist), Fire Resistance (25% Fire resist), Persistence of Mind (Immunity to Mind effects)

No, there is no way to know where Demonic Beasts can summon into without having Demonologists yourself. This makes fights against Demonologists fairly annoying, since you can't properly plan for where they'll summon their units without, you know, save/load shenanigans. I sort of see the logic involved, but it just seems like a pretty awful compromise. The actual unit list from Demonic Beasts seems to be limited to Demons, Cerberi, and Executioners, and the resulting summons are not under your control at all. Notice that this list is made up melee units that perform especially well when dogpiled; you should generally endeavor to target Demonic Beasts as close to the enemy as possible, and if you get an opportunity to have the summon partially surrounded you should usually take it.

On a different note, that is shockingly awful range on their basic attack!

To be fair, Demonologists are really good anyway, but 4 range is very rare, and it's particularly surprising given they're an obvious reskin of Necromancers.

Note that Thread of Life can be used even on bosses and Gremlins, and will still steal health from them. Indeed, Thread of Life can heal anything that isn't Spell immune or a Droid (Including Cyclops, who are otherwise impossible to heal), making Demonologists a fantastic unit for splashing in to just about any army while you're trying to gain Grand Strategy ranks, as it can be used to patch up the occasional inconvenient minor casualties. Conversely, Thread of Life can't be used if there's nothing to heal (And remember it can't heal Spell-immune units or Droids), which can be an annoying limitation in certain situations, especially given Demonologists have such awful range.

Note that Gatekeeper includes the Talent Demons have for summoning other Demons-the-species, also the Spell that summons Demons-the-species, and of course Demonic Beasts. (Including if they use it themselves) As such, Demonologists synergize well with Demons-the-unit and Demonesses in particular and are especially appealing if you're fond of Demon Portal yourself. Demonologists don't distinguish between friend and enemy for this purpose either, making them particularly useful when you're fighting any of the relevant units or fighting Heroes who are fond of Demon Portal and/or Teleport, even aside how they outright get a damage boost against Demons-the-species.

As enemies, Demonologists are... rare. Surprisingly so. There's one gimmick encounter that often spawns early in the game made of a bunch of stacks of Demonologists, I assume to show off how Demonologists can repeatedly benefit from Gatekeeper etc, but they honestly just don't show up very often for whatever reason. When they do show up, the AI is shaky with them. It's difficult to pin down exactly how competent they are since without Demonologists of your own you can't tell how smart they are about Demonic Beasts targeting, but they're certainly prone to wasting Thread of Life by targeting nearly-dead summoned stacks, or wasting the healing on some barely-injured stack when there's another stack that could actually use the full healing value, and the AI doesn't adjust targeting behavior to account for resistances: they won't use Thread of Life on a Foreman (Which resist Fire slightly and are slightly weak to Magic) and then turn their ranged attack attention on something of yours that's weak to Fire. They're also fairly rigid about trying to use Demonic Beasts first: focusing on a Demonologist first is a good idea to reduce how many units they summon, and they'll basically never try to Thread of Life the damage away if you've been getting damage onto other units on their team.

They're still a sufficiently good unit you can't treat them like a joke, especially since they not only have a ranged attack but can Thread of Life anything they want even if you've got them pinned in a corner, but they're a lot less menacing than you might expect in AI hands. Just remember that if you're using Demons you shouldn't let them get a ranged attack in if you can avoid it.

In your hands, Demonologists are quite convenient. Their per-head durability lets them soak the occasional minor hit without taking casualties, they can let you be a bit less hyper-cautious because of Thread of Life, they produce cannon fodder meatshields for you, and there's not very many units they're actually bad against, since the majority of serious Fire resists are Demons. A notable exception is Black Dragons, where their only contribution is Demonic Beasts, but by and large Demonologists work just fine as a staple ranged unit, particularly if firing outside a unit's effective range doesn't drive you up the wall. Since they're Neutral units they work fine alongside anything, and since Demons don't have a racial Morale bonus slapping a Demonologist stack into your demonic legions isn't sacrificing anything on said demonic legions. In practice their primary limitation is that the game doesn't like to give them to you until fairly late in the game, and the quantities aren't that great either.


One nice thing about the new Neutrals is that while they're all very good, I don't feel like they're shunting aside existing units or just plain crossing a boundary of quality that wrecks the game. This is an important quality in general, but it's particularly important to Neutral units since they can be combined with literally anything. A too-strong Demon or Undead unit could theoretically be bounded a bit by the fact that they make various units unhappy. A too-strong Neutral unit would just make it into every army. By the same token, a Demon or Undead unit that could eg be viewed as 100% superior to broadly equivalent units on all the other species (Say that Demons are superior to all the two-Speed Running melee units on other species) isn't necessarily going to push aside those units in all situations. (ie a Dwarven force would presumably prefer Dwarves-the-unit or Miners to Demons-the-unit due to the Morale penalty Demons impose) A Neutral unit that is basically superior to some non-Neutral unit would basically push that unit out of the game entirely.

We're not done yet, though, as Armored Princess adds in a whole new faction: Lizardmen.


  1. Trolls are incredibly overpowered. Their regenerating health pool becomes less significant with harder battles, but you also find more resistance items and become better at spell casting with time. Orcs with their astral damage were the only seemingly insurmountable obstacle until I found a crown of chaos, magic orb and copper cuirass for 75% total astral resistance. So much for the "pure" damage type.
    With just the stack of trolls, Stone Skin, Magic Spring, Awaken Dragon (for double cast lightning orb in hardest battles to actually get some damage output before the trolls croak), Peacefulness, Heal and Resurrection skill I've cleared most of the islands on Impossible.
    I don't know if one can clear the entire game like this, but I want to get some use out if my Warrior of Light medal before I finish it, and frankly I'm incredibly bored with slowly clubbing things to death.
    Though there are at least 3 more units that can work just as well this way.
    It's probably better to just stay away from single stack armies, because purely physical armies with no dispel are way too easy to defeat by stacking buffs.

  2. Mana source is the same as in the legend, for the record. It restores 1 mana per 100 damage dealt, not counting overkill

    1. I suppose it's possible I've been thrown by them being seen and made available sooner. I'll certainly pay attention next time I'm playing, thanks.

  3. In fact in Legend "power of fire" was really bad as far as translation go. It was "Vlast' Ogna" in russian, that can be better translated as "Reign of fire", and that's more awesome that "rain of fire" IMO.

    In russian "vlast' " is a word for "domination/control/political power" not "power" in general, so "vlast ogna" means smth like "fire that dominate".
    (you are damn black dragon, you dominate battlefield with streams of fire from above!)
    It was just missed in transaltion, sadly.

    1. Oh wow, that's really too bad, yeah -'reign of fire' sounds cool to me too, and it sounds like it would've retained roughly the original name's multiple layers, which is often a genuine struggle with translation. It also fits nicely with the Black Dragon's Initiative penalty, in terms of the Black Dragon being a dominating battlefield presence in a psychological sense, not just physical danger!

  4. You wrote "Angelic Guard are, of course, only ever seen when a Royal Griffin summons them. " but Rune Mages can summon them as well i believe if no tier 3 units are around (including potentially enemy Rune Mages summoning them if the player has no lower tier units, albeit I'm unsure how often A.I uses Illusion talent), here is from the rune mage description- "Illusion (Reload: 3. Generates a clone of a randomly chosen enemy that is Level 1-3. If there are no such enemies, generates a stack of Angelic Guard instead."

    Been a long time since I used Rune Mages so I can't swear that they actually summon Angelic Guards, but may incorporate them soon once i get Archmage Leadership discounts (and the 15k a pop to spare which in other KB games would be fine, but in Crossworlds is a bit more problematic, especially early)

    1. Ah, yeah, I forgot about that edge case when writing that bit. I'll update it immediately.

  5. You wrote "Bizarrely, Cyclops are immune to Greasy Mist. No idea why." I assume you mean Oil Mist. As to why they are immune to it, actually all Tier 5 units are immune to it (and don't suffer a negative to morale for negative status effect since again they are immune to it, it's as if it doesn't exist to lofty tier 5 units). It's probably also worth mentioning under Oil Mist entry that it doesn't affect tier 5 units (no need to specify "it doesn't affect cyclops" since again it has nothing to do with Cyclops, it's about it not affecting tier 5 units). Cheers (+1 point for tier 5 units btw wink wink).

    1. Derp, the in-game description outright mentions the Level range, I just somehow overlooked it.

      Updated the Cyclops and Oil Mist entries appropriately.

      This is more a strike against Oil Mist than anything else, removing the ability to use it on the most Fire-resistant enemies where its resistance-lowering has the highest impact, and leading to the inability to use it on Cyclops, who would otherwise be basically the perfect target for it. Among other points, dropping Oil Mist into an area to lower a ranged attacker's damage is dubious if you then walk a unit into the area to pin the ranged attacker so they're not able to fire at range anyway. I guess it lets you drop Oil Mist on Fire Dragonflies or Engineers and then drop a Red Dragon or Black Dragon in their face? Still a big improvement over the Spells it replaced, but ouch, Oil Mist is a lot less good than I'd thought.

    2. It's good i read your response, it reminded that i had forgotten till this playthrough of mine that Gobot/Thorn etc, who the game claims is immune to Oil Mist (it is in terms of not getting damage reduced, so partially correct) due to Eyeless, still get the deadly - fire resistance penalty from Oil Mist. So not quite "immune" enough when they get punished by powerful fire spells/fire dmg/chaos dragon etc. Perhaps it's working as intended (unfortunate "immune" wording if so.), but it's still a redeeming point for it.

      "Among other points, dropping Oil Mist into an area to lower a ranged attacker's damage is dubious if you then walk a unit into the area to pin the ranged attacker so they're not able to fire at range anyway'' It's good that you bring this up as well, since earlier I had this exact situation pop up, but I was ready w/ a solution. I know it will be a tough pill to digest, but allow me to begin to try to "Target-Pill" you. The way to completely stone monstrous stacks of range units, is in conjunction with Target (with or without oil mist tbh, since ofcourse it doesn't work on the beholders and mage variants etc of the world in terms of the dmg reduction to base attacks, but Target is GG for anything not Tier 5).

      Here are screenshots to demonstrate, will start with the money shot -
      So that's 70k leadership total of skeleton archers doing 0 damage against a level ~26 mage with under 9k leadership. Yes literally 0 dmg (even if the stacks of skeleton archers were millions in leadership it would make no difference, and it would be an easy battle, just last maybe a round or two longer). And there is literally nothing they can do about it since they are stuck in the Oil Mist and Target is powerful beyond anything i could try to do justice for without writing an essay. Hopefully in lieu of said essay, a "picture will be worth a thousand words". This is just a sample of Target's power, it's far far from it's limits, and it's part of why I had been an advocate for Target in no-loss impossible runs for over a decade, since little if anything can rival its sheer power (even Chaos Breath and Empathy from DS respect Target).

      Couple more from this battle, although it was already over as soon as target was cast (Oil Mist was just the "oil on the cake") which is basically always the case for Target in any battle that isn't populated by tier 5 units. I try not to abuse Target too much (had just gotten it from a treasure searcher chest the previous battle and since Mass Magic Shackles wouldn’t do the trick due to leadership disparity, and i didn’t get sheep till a few battles later, there was only one ideal solution), since if one is at a high level of play it's basically an unbeatable spell, way beyond broken and into the realm of "oppressive"-
      Just a helpful statue casting divine armor which worked nicely with orc tracker going first to summon his tier 3 companion before Archmage can Magic Shield it for full turn value. Griffin w/ Furious is particularly a nice Target since it really powers out Anger generated rage even for a mage, regardless of the damage it is dealing.

      Lastly it wouldn't be a complete combo without Orc Tracker and his Empathy companion getting in on the Target/StoneSkin/Divine Armor (from Statue, haven't got it yet)-
      Even if skeleton archers weren't under Oil Mist they would really struggle to do much to this Orc Tracker (albeit i'd have had the Orc Tracker just out of the full dmg range of the 1 archer, but full dmg of 0 is still 0). One interesting thing is that eventho the archers do "0" dmg, since the Tracker is empathied, the companion takes 1 dmg (which is PERFECT for Bears/Ancient Bears companion for a free Brutalize atk boost, and also generates rage from Anger even from the single point of dmg. Hard to imagine how the synergy could be better).

    3. Huh. I specifically tested Oil Mist on Thorns and it had no effect. I guess there's a cap on negative resistances of -100%?

      You're not going to sell me on Target. I've tested it dozens of times, and the results were always either inconclusive ("Okay, the only ranged attacker targeted the Target... but that could just be RNG leading to them deciding to target that unit") or it clearly not working when it's supposed to. (I've repeatedly had situations where I was trying to prevent eg Bowmen in an inconvenient position from attacking a frail ranged unit of mine by dropping Target on something, getting it into melee range of the enemy ranged attacker, and... the ranged unit steps away from the Target unit and shoots Not The Targeted Unit, never mind that the AI prefers to target units they just stepped away from by default) In conjunction with non-Mana based forms of AI manipulation largely being 100% reliable... no thanks. No amount of talking up its potential is going to overcome the fundamental problem of it failing to do its job most of the time I've tried it.

      Oil Mist helping get damage down to 0 is interesting, though. The way the game calculates damage really shouldn't let that happen... is Oil Mist hitting the base damage directly and rounding up? Or something weirder. I should dig into this...

    4. You got me thinking I was crazy for a second, since i had just used oil mist against Thorns/Royal Thorns successfully a day ago, so I woke up and immediately had to test it.
      Here are three screenshots proving i'm not spewing crap
      The first shows a royal thorn at standard -100% right next to but out of Oil Mist range-
      The second shows the royal thorn in the oil mist going from -100 to -151% and clearly marked by the red down arrow denoting a negative status effect-
      Lastly we have regular thorns themselves also getting hit by-

      So either there is some unexplained reason why you may have had weird test results, or more likely your testing/memory was off (perhaps in a similar vein to how you misremembered testing magic armor and it’s interaction with Lab Coat/non-innate resistance). I can assure you my testing is rock solid, but I can try to document everything with screenshots since it may take a long time for you to realize that I'm very reliable in my testing/memory.

      "or it clearly not working when it's supposed to" I have used Target many hundreds of times over the past decade+, and not even ONCE did i have any issue with it. Literally not even 0 times, and trust me I'd remember if it had even the slightest issue. It's FLAWLESS.

      "I've repeatedly had situations where I was trying to prevent eg Bowmen in an inconvenient position from attacking a frail ranged unit of mine by dropping Target on something, getting it into melee range of the enemy ranged attacker, and... the ranged unit steps away from the Target unit and shoots " I would love to see that. That has obviously never happened for me, and i've used target so much in every conceivable situation, and I am known for it. I jumped into a keeper battle with bowman right now and made sure to do the exact use case where you said has been problematic for you. I partially blocked a bowman (But with space for it to move) with a targetted unit, and not surprisingly he attacked in melee the target unit instead of moving back and shooting a vulnerable bowman of my own that Rune Mage summoned- and him attacking in melee the royal griffin instead of moving back -

      There is no more reliable spell in the game than Target. If only everything was coded as brilliantly as Target, KB would have no bugs instead of being plagued by them.

      "No amount of talking up its potential is going to overcome the fundamental problem of it failing to do its job most of the time I've tried it." I would love to see this supposed failing to do its job. But ok I won't try to convince you of the reality of Target anymore since nothing can sway you if you believe it's not reliable eventhough there is plenty of evidence and testimonials to the contrary.

      "Oil Mist helping get damage down to 0 is interesting, though. " Eh, that's really power of target since it forces them to stay in position (they can't move away, no matter what), otherwise they will just move out of oil mist/use their talents which do full damage and aren't impeded by Oil Mist. Oil Mist is like a candle relative to the sun in terms of power level.

      But yes Oil Mist can get the damage down to 0. "The way the game calculates damage really shouldn't let that happen" It's always been the case that it can get the dmg down to 0 on units like Skeleton Archers. No better combo exists to completely stone even millions of them.

      "is Oil Mist hitting the base damage directly and rounding up?" Oil Mist level 3 changes the base ranged damage of Skeleton Archers to 0-0 (this is ONLY for ranged attacks. If you go up to them in melee it will still hurt since it's not reduced damage besides the half damage melee penalty).
      Here are screenshots proving what I said- 0 damage-
      But then still taking a hefty melee counterattack damage from them -

    5. It's possible this is a platform difference. I know The Legend has a nasty bug exclusive to the GoG version, so store-specific bugs aren't hypothetical to this series. Whatever the case, I've never had Target behave clearly correctly even once in over a decade of on-and-off play across over 8 different computers -it's not some issue with a specific computer configuration.

      Definitely going to need to poke into Oil Mist more, though, see what all ranged attackers it cripples like that, and if it's consistent across the games. I've clearly been underestimating it. If it does that in WotN and DS too, the 'they can just step out' issue isn't even a big weakness given how fast-based their battles are and how much ability the player has to block in enemies 'for free' with Rage.

    6. I wouldn't put anything past KB having different bugs on different platforms. It certainly is possible. KB and Bug go hand in hand. That being said while I am using the Steam version for Crossworlds now, I have used Gog editions of other KB games, and in all my runs i've made use of target (the least use i got out of it was with an Orc in Dark Side since i only got it late, and the game is so easy anyways, and i was so powerful anyways that spells were largely for the sake of variety and not necessity. Still it worked perfectly even in Dark Side which is where i'd expect everything that can be bugged, to be bugged, and things that weren't previously bugged, to now be bugged).

      "I've clearly been underestimating it. " I was really hoping that is what you would be saying about Target, not about Oil Mist, but I can understand why it would be hard for you to come around so fast if you somehow had bad experiences with Target. Hopefully in the future you won't give up on it and perhaps you will find a version where it's working as it should. Oh this is perfect btw, i looked about to see about target bugs and i saw something from 2009 (Legend) that has a comment you will find salient -

      In particular this will resonate with you (all the plethora of veteran knowledgable posters throughout the forums vouching for Target likely won't sway you)- "archers that are blocked by a unit within melee range will step away if they can and most likely attack the unit they stepped away from. They rarely do otherwise but if they do, they ignore the 'Target' spell due to some glitch."

      So it appears that in 2009 for the Legend at least there was some rare glitch with Target in the one situation you mentioned. I joined KB world probably about 2010-2011 or so (but i had experience with HOM and every other relevant tactical strategy game the decade prior, so everything about KB was intuitive to me from minute 1) , perhaps it was fixed by then and it was fixed in subsequent games. I see no other bugged discussion in regards to Target in subsequent years, only people praising it. But maybe in The Legend the rare glitch didn't end up fixed and that caused it to tarnish your view of it (that's sorta understandable, i'd be pissed as well. However whats relevant is that it is working now in atleast all the subsequent titles).

      "the 'they can just step out' issue isn't even a big weakness" Against ranged units without a dangerous talents (many do), then yes Oil Mist can be somewhat effective. It's clearly at it's peak against Skeleton Archers when it can reduce even legions of them to do 0 damage, but this is only relevant if you can block their deadly poison and magic arrow (which Target can do, not that much else can). Most of the time that oil mist is cast is as a Mage to combo it with fire spells/fire damage units like Dragon of Chaos etc, or for the medal. That being said, sure there are edge cases where alot of niche spells can shine, and I am always in favor of people using less popular spells more when applicable (it pains me when players i respect just auto-pilot fixate on 1 spell, such as phantom, for an entire playthrough...).

      Anyways this back and forth was productive, and you clearly weren't hallicunating and atleast in the Legend at one point (or perhaps even to this day, but I won't go back and test legend since imo it's the most bland of the games, but ofcourse it was a good first reentry since the og kb of 90's) the archer glitch existed. Thankfully i've never had to experience that when doing no losses over countless battles using Target, or i'd have been pretty pissed.

    7. I've tested Target in a wide variety of situations; I've tried to pull enemy attention from a frail melee unit to a durable melee unit (eg early in Ice And Fire trying to pull enemy attention to Jarls over other melee), from frail ranged units to durable units (I once tried using Target to draw a bunch of Elves and Rangers to focus on a Bone Dragon; not one of them fired on the Bone Dragon), to units under Glot's Armor, to disposable summons I don't mind losing, tried pulling Magic damage attacker attention from my Droids to my Archmages... I forget if I ever got around to testing it in Dark Side, as I was pretty burned out on it by then and in general Dark Side was the game I was least thorough on, but otherwise? I've tried Target over and over, often turning to it in desperation when it seems like the only possible option for cleanly getting through a fight, and it just... never does better than 'it might've pulled one attacker, maybe, but that was probably just AI RNG targeting'. Including that I actually once reloaded, 'spent' RNG numbers in a different fight, and redid a fight in which Target had seemed to work, did everything the same as that first attempt, and this second time it didn't work.

      This isn't 'I got burned a couple of times in The Legend and gave up on it'. It's been a continuous pattern for years, where I periodically give it yet another try and it fails me yet again.

      Anyway, Oil Mist working on Skeleton Archers to zero them out is particularly huge for WotN runs, as Skeleton Archers are the single biggest nuisance for trying to get no-casualty runs up through to about Darion, showing up constantly and stealing Grand Strategian progress by just barely killing someone even though the stack is almost wiped. Assuming it works, but I buy it; just need to double-check first.

    8. I’d love to see screenshots of you using Target and then units that should be attacking the Target, not. It would be good to see the sequence and situations that Target didn't work for you so i can try to replicate it with my testing (i've probably cast it nearing 1000 times total among all the kb games, and in every conceivable situation, but still maybe your screenshots would make it easier to replicate).

      I will make sure to use Target more in the hopes of seeing if I ever get it to bug since i haven't ever been successful (or rather i have always been successful with Target). I am doubtful it will ever bug in CW, and from my recent run in dark side it was perfect, but i'd be willing to believe if any game gave Target problems it would Wotn/Ice and Fire (although that was one of the only things that wasn't bugged for me) which is a disaster that perhaps eclipses even Dark Side in sheer bug crap. Still i might begrudgingly go back to Bug and Ice after CW, unsure.

      "where I periodically give it yet another try and it fails me yet again." This is so interesting. I'd probably have the same low opinion of it if that was my experience with it, so i understand your frustration. I also now understand that you aren't downplaying the merits of Target. If Target is working properly (and for me and nearly everyone I have watched and participated in their lp's etc, it always has been flawless) it seems even you would acknowledge it's amazing power (which is all i wanted). I think a fair compromise in your analysis of Target for all the KB games should be describing your issues with it, but then also presenting the side that many other known and respected players have had incredible success w/ it and swear by it. So your advice should be for them to try it in different scenarios that they are certain it should be working= i.e not against t5 units, not against t4 units if target is only level 2, not against feared units if target is higher level, not against enemies that can't reach the target in melee if they are a melee unit, not against ranged units that are BLOCKED by another unit and move away-
      OH holy crap, that is one situation where target actually doesn't always work but one might think it should (it actually shouldn't though). The reason is that let's say you have a Targetted unit on your backline or far away but you have some summon or wtvr in the enemy ranged units face. At the beginning of their turn they have no way of attacking the Targetted unit since they are locked in melee (unless they have enormous movement which is rarely but sometimes the case, but if they did they would be forced to attack in melee the targetted unit and this has always worked for me, they just run up and punch the targetted unit if they can reach it in melee), and then the A.I follows the behavior that "Hey I'm a ranged unit, if i can move away and shoot at the unit blocking me, that's what i'm gonna do". So that is its plan, and once it does that sequence, it is able to attack a melee unit blocking from it's ranged attack eventhough you have a targetted unit in your backline that it seemingly should be able to shoot at. Hmm this is all very interesting since that is the one case that Target doesn't "work" (but it actually does work in the sense that my view is that is the proper sequence the A.I has to take and they are not actually being bound by Target at the start of their turn if they can't IMMEDIATELY attack the TARGET), and perhaps that is an experience you had where you believed (understandably, but incorrectly) that target should work. I'll test out that situation again a dozen times or so (i usually avoid doing it since then it's not guaranteed they will attack the targeted unit for the logical reasons i listed) to catalog exactly what happens.

      So anyways i'll test Target more.

    9. P2

      "Anyway, Oil Mist working on Skeleton Archers to zero them out is particularly huge for WotN runs, as Skeleton Archers are the single biggest nuisance for trying to get no-casualty runs up through to about Darion" Yeh i know, I used Target+ Oil Mist for the no loss against them, the unbeatable Mage combo (if you have a save state in any kb game as a mage with both target and oil mist learned, why don't you try it and see if it works, i'm pretty confident even with your horrendous Target luck it should). But yeh other classes can try to use rage skills to lock Skeleton Archers into the Mist (but it won't solve their talents which are the real issue since it only reduces BASE ranged attack). So only a Mage with Higher Magic and Target is all powerful against even infinite skeleton archers. Oh and as an aside i looked up your oil mist on Wotn (just to see if it was slightly different than the CW version) and i see you still have the "Has no effect on Cyclops.", so that post can use an update (if you do heed my advice of spending a few minutes to try the Target+Oil Mist combo, and it works for you, I think that deserves a mention in oil mist description as a way to absolutely wreck ranged units, even those that deal more than 0 damage (since it still crushes their damage numbers into the ground, brutally, and rounds favorably as you saw with the 0 damage skely archers), since it also keeps them stuck in the mist as long as Target is up and they aren't blocked, and also prevents any deadly abilities like Salvo and Fire/Ice arrow from bowman and Poison/Magic from Skeleton Archer etc etc etc).

      "Assuming it works, but I buy it; just need to double-check first." Well wotn/Ice and Fire and "working" shouldn't really be in the same sentence (unless there is an "isn't" before working), but yeh it *should* work. It's been almost 8 years since i touched Ice and Fire though, so I can't swear on it, and i'd feel uncomfortable ever vouching for Ice and Fire interactions. Good idea to double check on it though, can't take anything for a given with KB sadly.

    10. Ok i did my first test of many to come with Target, and I confirmed as suspected that the one situation Target doesn't work is when the unit is blocked and that can move away (it can then fire on anybody, even with it's abilities, since at the start of its turn it's not being stoned by Target since it can't hit it with it's melee attack, as such the A.I just uses it's normal targeting pattern ignoring Target entirely, as it should.
      Here was from a relatively strong Keeper featuring Target on Archdemon with Magic Shield (20% physical resistance and 100 extra health relative to Dark Side make this a fine line).
      The first features the entire combat log for turn 1 with the best angle to showcase how everything went-
      The Archdemon in question -
      Nearly 53,000 in Engineer leadership putting up an impressive 27 damage instead of summoning a huge drone stack or other nasty contribution
      Yes that is a 12 mana Target first cast into Chaos Dragon (nice little Morale boost it grants the Archdemon with Bow of Souls which grants +1 init/morale to demon to get him up to 9/9 init/speed and 2 morale for near %50 crit at barely mid game with the great Bracelet of Fury which grants +10% crit to demons, and Golden Boots which on top of +2 def and sweet +20% gold, grants +3% crit to everyone which is sexy), with the 12 mana portion completely neutralizing all the most problematic units for the bulk of the fight. The efficiency and power is through the roof. Only slight threat is the Alchemist with his poison dmg, but he won't be a problem for long once fear is cast on him and he can enjoy lobbing potions at angelic guard spam, before defending for 2 turns since he can't refresh potions under fear.
      Now here is the money shot of the situation I described, whereby i purposely made sure to block a Cannoneer with Emerald Dragon but leave him room to maneuver and walk away and see how he acted (this was solely for the Test, otherwise this move would be very suboptimal since the battle was already won with no need for stupidity)-
      So we see that the Cannoneer went wild and got to use his Salvo on the vulnerable tranced mage (100% crit chance in Trance with Dress of the Magess and the couple other minor crit boosts of +3 from lvl 1 prayer, +3 from lvl 2 medal, and +3 from Golden Boots), after having moved away from Emerald Dragon and thus in theory being able to shoot at the Targetted Archdemon, but as I explained, Cannoneer behavior is correct here and Target is still working perfectly.
      One more great synergy with Target (there are so many and there is such depth to Target, a book could be written) is Magic Spring which is a great way to keep infinite mana going-
      That was useful in this case to help fix the Salvo damage from the Testing phase (via Phantom on Rune Mage for Revive, conveniently also works on tier 5 like the dragons and archdemon), otherwise those shenanigans wouldn't be needed and battle is already won as soon as Target is cast, as always.

      Lastly, to help you correct what you wrote about emerald dragon when you said "Also, Mana Source has been nerfed. In The Legend you generally got 2-ish Mana per enemy." Here is how it works, basically every 100 damage that Emerald Dragon does= 1 mana if it didn't overkill (i see someone in a comment told you but you didn't get around to testing it, so here is proof) -
      I could have taken more of it always getting 1 mana per 100 damage, but i hope one will suffice. In short the ability is amazing, restoring dozens of mana throughout the battle even at just the modest ~10k leadership range. I don't know how that can ever be considered a nerf.

      I’ll get back to testing and if i can ever get Target to bug I will be update, just wanted to showcase the one scenario target doesn't seemingly "Work", but in reality the A.I is behaving properly and everything is as it should be.

    11. After alot more testing with Target i managed to find one tiny instance where due to my maneuvering i managed to get a unit to not go for the target a single time in the battle (Before it went back to constantly shooting at the target). What i did is i had a dragon unit pull a Gorguana to it, so that it would be "free" of target on turn 1. It backed away and still shot at the Target though eventhough it really didn't need to, atleast if it used abilities (if it backed away and used a regular attack it may or may not have been forced to hit the Target, i don't know for certain, although it did hit the target here) -
      Here is the money shot you are looking for, the only time i have seen Target for a single instance not force the attack -
      So basically for some reason the same Gorguana on turn 2, this time not blocked at all, got to use it's Mark of Blood (i'm certain if it did a regular attack it would have been forced to attack the Target) on another unit.
      However for the rest of the battle over many rounds i observed it and everything was still stoned and shooting futilely at the target- and
      So with my perseverance and patience i managed to find an extremely rare loophole/bug where the blocked unit that got free was able to use an ability in the following round (but never an attack that didn't target the target), before being forced to constantly attack the target again (not even being able to use it's other abilities like Blood Magic as it become available when its hp was below 50% threshold, nor was it able to Mark of the Blood again when it came off cooldown). I wouldn't put it past the tiny brief glitch that was caused by the block to be a bug on Gorguana side (Where on turn 1 it woulda wanted to mark of blood after moving away from Emerald Dragon, but was then recaptured by the Target which actually shouldn't have happened since it was "free" on turn 1). Still with great difficulty i managed to contrive a narrow situation where a unit could use an ability (but never attack) a non-target. This doesn't remotely though change my sky high view of Target, where pre-Dark Side it reigns supreme as the most broken spell in the game in terms of sheer power level. Still it's good i could document a very rare occurrence/bug.

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  7. One thing that is worth noting under both Demonologist and Cyclops, is that a rare way to heal/revive Cyclops (besides say Turn Back Time) is actually via the Demonologists Thread of Life which somehow works on Cyclops (Where even the otherwise vastly superior Revive from the superior Rune Mages doesn't work). I have been known to shit on Demonologists, especially in Dark Side (where i posit they aren't worth considering in a Demon army post Grand Strategian, eventhough some Lper's still believe they are pulling their weight when they aren't), but they are at debatably their best in Crossworlds (even on a Mage with his Archmage discount being one of the rare ways for Demonologist to get more bang for their leadership buck), and being able to work with Cyclops is a point in their favor. This combo can help set up for what is probably one of the better Target targets in Cyclops, with the only downside being his initiative which would force atleast the first Target to 1 shorter duration than one would like since the Cyclops will usually be the last acting unit on the team unless one can heavily manipulate Initiative (things like Quick Draw 3, lucking into Adrenaline 2/3 boost on Cyclops etc). Target on Cyclops is usually a bit sketchy since it's hard to Revive/heal them if one dies (Even Shaman's Dancing Axes won't heal it, and sadly shamans heal totems aren't healing any tier 5 units despite it healing tier 5 in Dark Side, albeit the defense bonus was still limited to tier 4 and below), despite their great innate resistances. Demonologists though help solve that issue. I haven't tested every possible method yet of reviving/healing on Cyclops, but besides for Turn Back Time and Demonologist Thread of Life, it's possible those are the only 2 that work.

    1. Tweaked the Demonologist portion to explicitly point out the Cyclops healing bit. I've been aware of it for a while, and already sort of implied it worked, but I really should've explicitly stated it given Cyclops are immune to every other form of healing and I doubt most readers look at 'can't heal robots and Spell-immune units' and go 'Cyclops are neither! Clearly they're valid to be healed!'

    2. Yeh good job with the deomonologist portion. In my opinion it's worth mentioning in the Cyclops section as well, since if anyone is like "hmm i wanna check out cyclops and may use them, but i wonder if there is anyway to keep them alive" its helpful to have the info in his section (probably worth mentioning that only Turn Back Time and Demonologist can revive it). In a similar vein with Black Dragon i'm sure many are unaware that Rune Mage can revive it and get rid of any debuffs on it (where even Turn Back Time as a spell is obviously useless).

    3. Wait, Rune Mages can heal Black Dragons? I'll be double-checking that and adding a note to the Black Dragon section if it checks out.

      And yeah I might update the Cyclops section a bit too. Among other points, greater access to undoing damage on them is yet another way they're far superior to in The Legend -I imagine there are players who look at this page and go 'sure, they were buffed, but you still can't heal them so who cares?' or some such.

    4. Yup one sure can heal/revive Black Dragons with Rune Mages. It's pretty sweet. Also the only way to get rid of some of the status effects it can get. Demonologist and Inquisitor can't patch up Black Dragons (quickly double checked on both of them to confirm), only the incredible Rune Mages can do it (add yet another thing to the hidden depths of his strength, which few properly know and appreciate). Shaman's Dancing Axes can heal Black Dragons though (ofcourse it can't revive them, but this is still relevant since it can keep the 1000 Hp topped up). It is worth mentioning in the Black Dragon and Rune mage section yes. One of the main reasons people tend to shy away from Black Dragons is because of the difficulty in patching them, but there is a way, and Rune Mages in effectively infinite stocks (not that any should ever be dying) are guaranteed so this combo is always up. People are turned off by the Rune Mage "hoarding runes'' requirement, but it's actually not a problem besides the very early game. I also just confirmed that mind runes cap on 20 for 300 max hp and 180% to the power of it's Revive (i'm in the 30's on magic runes, should have enough today to confirm if Sheep % keeps increasing). Besides Rune Mages wanting 17 magic runes for Sheep (which a mage can maneuver even in the early mid-game), even just a handful of runes give it enough of a power boost to be decent (especially with Archmage leadership discount on Mage, and the human morale bonuses which are easy to come by w/ things like Royal Griffins, just needing persuasion level 1 etc), and 10 might runes caps its +20 bonus dmg for base attacks, and that isn’t too hard. If one can't stockpile 17 magic runes for Sheep, any class should be able to atleast hover in the 5-7 range for Slow which is a solid enough debuff for anything not ranged. Stocking mind runes isn't essential, albeit increasing its max hp and having a more potent revive is useful, so better to have atleast some mind runes, but one doesn't need 20 stored (Even 5-10 help alot). Altogether after properly giving Rune Mages a chance, my view of them went from like a 50/100 going into this playthrough (the usual "who the hell wants to hoard runes”) to like a 85/100, where i believe it's one of the most powerful and splashable units that can work with anything (hardly suffering morale helps alot). Even if one doesn't have resurrect (never got it, would be nearly stone anyways on my current army which only occasionally rocks Archmage) or turn back time (i traded it to lothar for the runes which help Rune Mages more. Seemingly should get turn back time once i get access to nameless though, but i'm in no rush and dark side with it's turn back time bugs really turned me off to it, though it works perfectly in CW), Phantom is almost always readily available. It works incredibly well with Rune Mage to help restore things (if mana is tight and one doesn't have mana generation, a simple heal for 1-2 mana can go along way with the 15-20-25 cost phantoms) on top of providing more summons and potentially a negative spell debuff on an enemy like slow/sheep etc which more than justifies the phantom cost.

      "'sure, they were buffed, but you still can't heal them so who cares?" yup and people probably think the same of Black Dragons, so it's worth mentioning Rune Mages are the full stop solution for them (it's sorta fitting that the strongest Human Mage and the strongest anti-magic Dragon, both at the peak of Tier 5 in terms of sheer power and exorbitant leadership costs that beg for Archmage skill and Heart of the Dragon artifact, work so well symbiotically. I had a middling view of both, but they have overperformed in spades) , and Shamans can help them as well (Shamans are a whole other can of worms, i did alot of testing with them and i now fully understand how their annoying Fighting Spirit works, usually to the player's detriment. I may expand on that in the Orc section at some point).

  8. You wrote "Rune Mages can undo casualties on Cyclops once per battle" but you must have got things confused with what i wrote. I wrote that Demonologist Thread of Life is the only unit that can resurrect Cyclops, not even Rune Mages can. Black Dragon is an exclusive target that only Rune Mages can hit (not even Demonologist can, albeit it's worth mentioning that Shaman's Dancing Axes can heal Black Dragon).

    1. Ugh, I've been having a rough week.


    2. Yeh i know the feeling. Hope it gets better.

      Don't feel rushed to update some of the other things i commented on that have yet to be updated (i.e shamans getting their 50 max hp at level 2 adrenaline, not level 3 as game claims, and goblin shamans getting +1 initiative at adrenaline level 3, not adrenaline level 2 as the game claims, and the few other comments i had that directly affected entries with things like Orc Chieftain in DS and Spirit Talkers in DS), whenever you get to them works.

    3. I've actually already double-checked and updated the Shaman Health thing, though I forget if I updated the commentary to point out the game being wrong.

      But yeah, I've been meaning to get to the other stuff, just... unpleasant times.

    4. Oh yeh i see the Shaman health thing now has been updated, sweet! Yeh i feel bro, been a bit down myself. Struggling to even muster the energy to finish the game.

  9. In Russian version level 4 eye monster is Beholder. Name of the level 3 one is a made up KIng's Bounty-only word, that implies it being more animalistic in comparison to presumably sentient but malevolent level 4 analogue. Evil Beholder as a monster name sound pretty stupid to me but propably OK for English-speaking people.

    Emerald Green Dragon is just Emerald Dragon in the original. I'm pretty sure that English, like Russian, use "emerald" for a color, so I'm find the additional "green" strange.

    Fire Flow is still Fire Rlow in Russian. English version of AP seems to have tons of random name changes for talents/abilities in general.

    Another person already told about Power/Rain of Fire. I fully agree with him/her - Russian name is way cooler than either of English names.

    Assassin - unless I musunderstood it, your murder description sound as if it's successful use just restore 1 charge of Backstab in case it already was used. It's actually simply gives 1 charge of Backstab, so you'll have 2 you haven't use it before.
    Also, Hypnotized Assassin only lose Servant of Death, not every talent/ability. I guess it's propably a localization mistake, not yours.

    Royal Griffin's Dragon Despiser is just "Hates Dragons" (yes, third-person). Btw, is "despiser" an actual word?

    Angelic Guard are Heavenly Guard in Russian - they and Royal Griffin talent have the same name.
    Interesting to note - usually English localization remove Christianity mentions/hints yet here they added one? I personally dislike it.

    About human-griffin association - Griffins originally were supposed to be human unit in the Legend. Who knows, may be this was considered once more for AP.

    Troll's Malevolent original name is more like ..."gloating" maybe? Basically someone who feels joy upon seeing others fail of suffer.

    1. Oh, interesting. It sounds like the original Russian is basically implying the lower-Level Beholders are feral, or something of the sort, which makes a bit more sense as a distinction. 'Evil Beholder' isn't terrible, exactly, but it's a bit odd given fantasy basically always has Beholders evil in the first place. I suspect the translators basically just looked at the color scheme in The Legend to try to come up with something. That's a bit unfortunate; something like 'Beholder' and 'Feral Beholder' would've been a lot more striking.

      For whatever reason, in English you just don't say 'emerald' on its own to describe color; you say 'emerald green', even if it's contextually obvious that 'emerald' is an allusion to color and not to the type of gemstone. It's one of English's many arbitrary rules you pick up, and then pick up all the exceptions. (ie 'emerald sea' is an arbitrary exception to this arbitrary rule) And then when someone wants to know why, you just shrug, because English is like that.

      Aaaah, yeah, I wrote that description under the impression it only reloaded a missing charge, and then forgot to update it when I found it simply added a charge even if that took you over max. I'll be correcting that.

      Yeah, the English version claims Assassins lose all their special things while Hypnotized. And I've already seen it couldn't be completely accurate... it just removed Servant of Death makes much more sense, since auto-clearing buffs would clear Hypnosis due to it being technically classed as a buff. That explains that; I'd assumed this was weird thematics, but it's just accounting for mechanics weirdness.

      Despiser is a real word, yes. Almost never used, but real.

      Angelic is weird in that a lot of Christian lingo has seeped in so thoroughly that for example even a hardcore atheist will shout 'oh god!' when shocked/horrified/etc without thinking anything of it. Angelic falls under this...

      ... with the qualifier that people will immediately notice the Christian connotations if you apply it to, say, a white, winged sky creature who is broadly friendly to humans. So... still weird in this case!

      Given Griffins are a Castle unit in HoMM, I'd suspected they were Human-aligned in development.

      Sadistic, maybe? As in enjoying someone's suffering.

  10. Hm, HoMM have "Emerald Dragons". They are not made of emeralds, just green-colored.

    Not necessary physical suffering through. Humilation or just stuff like "he dropped an icecream into dirt, lol" work too.

    1. Looking that up, the Emerald Dragon in HoMM 5 is the upgraded form to the Green Dragon... that's exactly the kind of situation that prompts people to break English's arbitrary rules. (I originally considered a too-long not-really-a-joke where I just kept layering in 'exceptions to the exceptions exceptions' type statements; this is how English actually works. I still have stuck in my head from school a sing-song-y thing that goes "I before E except after C, except in weird words like weird", which pretty perfectly encapsulates how English's rules pretty much always have exceptions and then the exceptions often have exceptions)

      Sadism isn't just about physical suffering. It's just the general enjoyment of other people's suffering. Though it sounds like you're trying to communicate a subtly different concept anyway... I feel like there should be an English word reflecting what you're getting at, but it's not coming to me.

  11. Royal Thorn had No Melee Penalty in the Legend too - it's just wasn't shown in her abilities for some reason.

    1. That sounds plausible. I'll test it to be sure, but I know I thought they had it and was surprised to not see it in their Ability list -at the time I figured I'd just made an assumption from Thorn Hunters having it, but I recall being sure of it from actual usage... I just didn't think to retest it.

    2. Testing in The Legend, what I'm getting is my Royal Thorn's minimum damage in melee is identical to its maximum damage at range, with its melee maximum damage yet higher! It's around a 50% increase in damage for attacking in melee over attacking at range all-around. So it doesn't seem to be as simple as 'actually has No Melee Penalty'.

      I should test if this oddness continues into later games...

    3. Game cannot show different damage for melee and ranged, so both "melee=ranged" and "melee>ranged" are "No Melee Penalty".
      In the Legend Royal Thorn's damage is 20-30 for ranged but 30-40 in melee. Later games have 20-40 in melee with no change for ranged.

    4. Ah, that makes sense, consistent with the Repair Droid weirdness. Unfortunately opaque... the series really just needed separate visible entries for ranged and melee damage if they wanted to do this.

      In any event, I've updated both The Legend's post and this post appropriately.


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