Warriors of the North Bonus: Ice and Fire's Experience System

This post is something you can skip if you're not terribly interested in some technical minutia of Ice and Fire's unit experience system, especially since at the moment I'm honestly not even sure exactly how Ice and Fire's unit experience system works in detail.

What I do know for certain: a unit cannot gain more than...

30 to Attack and Defense

20% to Damage

40% to Health

15 to base crit chance

15 to their overall resistance

1 to Speed and Initiative

3 Runes in total

+50% to summoning

+50% to healing

regardless of what its bonuses might theoretically lead to. Additionally, going off a combination of the internal file designations and personal experience, stats other than Attack and Defense cannot be acquired until certain minimum levels, specifically...

Damage is unlocked at Level 6

Health is unlocked at Level 5

Crit chance is unlocked at Level 3

Resistance is unlocked at Level 4

Initiative is unlocked at Level 6

Speed is unlocked at Level 7

Runes are unlocked at Level 4

Summoning increase is unlocked at Level 3

Healing increase is unlocked at Level 5

So basically a unit's first level will always be just some amount of Attack and Defense, and the most consistent/dramatic boosts take a while to get to. Fairly sensible.

Also note that when leveling provides increases to resistance, this is to every damage type except Astral.

Secondly, the game's experience mechanics are based around classes. Every unit belong to at least one class, and each class has its own set of bonuses, with units that belong to multiple classes pulling from all the classes they belong to to determine their bonuses.

Those classes are the following list, with the names based on the names in the .txt file.

... though note I may have made errors in attributing which units are in which class. Some of the internal designations are difficult to keep straight, such as how Mystics and Contemplators are internally 'mystik' and 'mystique'.

Base Class

Includes: Everything.

Parameter 2: +1 Attack

Parameter  3: +1 Defense

Parameter 4: +1% Crit chance

Parameter 5: +1 Attack

Parameter 6: +1 Defense

Parameter 7: +1% Crit chance

Parameter 8: +1 Attack

Parameter 9: +1 Defense

Parameter 10: +1% Crit chance

Note that since Attack and Defense directly cancel each other out, the Base class only affects max level combat to the extent that all units are slightly crittier than normal.

Light Shooter

Includes: Thorn Hunter, Ice Thorn, Gobot, Worm, Skeleton Archer, Goblin, Bowman, Priest, Slinger

Parameter  2: +1 Attack

Parameter 3: +1 Initiative

Parameter 4: +1% Crit chance

Parameter 5: +1 Rune

Parameter 6: +1 Attack

Parameter 7: +1% Crit chance

Parameter 8: +1 Defense

The big one here is that Initiative bonus, though the Rune is nice if a bit random in what you'll actually get.

Also note that there's seven parameters, to the 9 the Base class has. Only the Base class has this many parameters, with the majority of other classes having 7. I'd originally thought this correlated to how the player's maximum level on units is 10 (9 level-ups, since you start at level 1) while the AI's max is level 8 (7 level-ups), but it doesn't seem to work that way at all and I have no idea why the difference.

Shooter

Includes: Beholder, Ice Spider, Elf, Faun, Repair Droid, Goblin Shaman, Catapult, Inquisitor, Elder.

Parameter 2: +1 Attack

Parameter 3: +1 Initiative

Parameter 4: +1% Crit chance

Parameter 5: +1 Attack

Parameter 6: +1% Resistance

Parameter 7: +1% Crit chance

Parameter 8: +1 Rune

As with Light Shooter, Initiative and the Rune are the main things that are a big deal. That said, Ice Spiders and Repair Droids both have a base resistance large enough for the resistance bonus to be legitimately kind of noticeable in real play, especially if you're making sure to get Guardian.

Heavy Shooter

Includes: Hunter, Avenger, Ent, Scout, Alchemist, Cannoneer, Evil Beholder, Gorgon, Royal Thorn, Brontor, Axe Thrower.

Parameter 2: +1% Crit chance

Parameter 3: +1 Attack

Parameter  4: +1% Crit chance

Parameter 5: +1 Attack

Parameter 6: +1 Rune

Parameter 7: +1 Initiative

Parameter  8: +5% Health

Heavy Shooter is notable primarily for the Health gains, when compared to the other Shooter classes. Pretty much everything in the list appreciates it just in terms of being units that perform okay in melee.

Light Trooper

Includes: Skeleton, Undead Spider, Pirate Ghost, Zombie, Ghost, Pirate, Spider, Venomous Spider, Fire Spider, Snake, Swamp Snake, Devilfish, Lake Dragonfly, Fire Dragonfly, Thorn Warrior, Hyena, Wolf, Robber, Marauder, Peasant, Swordsman, Lake Fairy, Forest Fairy, Sun Fairy, Snowflake Fairy, Ice Nymph, Gobot, Miner, Imp, Skald.

Parameter 2: +1 Attack

Parameter  3: +1% Resistance

Parameter 4: +1 Defense

Parameter 5: +1 Attack

Parameter 6: +1 Rune

Parameter 7: +1 Speed

Parameter 8: +1 Defense

Notice that while this is primarily fairly basic/generic melee units, it actually includes Gobots, which showed up under Light Shooter as well. 

Trooper

Includes: White Werewolf, Werewolf, Unicorn, Black Unicorn, Orc, Furious Goblin, Bear, Ancient Bear, Sea Dog, Royal Snake, Griffin, Decaying Zombie, Vampire, Cursed Ghost, Vengeful Gorgul, Gorguana, Scoffer Imp, Cerberus, Guardsman, Dwarf, Viking, Berserker.

Parameter 2: +1% Resistance

Parameter 3: +1 Attack

Parameter 4: +1% Crit chance

Parameter 5: +1 Defense

Parameter 6: +1 Speed

Parameter 7: +1 Defense

Parameter 8: +1 Rune

Notice that, along with Light Trooper, a lot of melee units in Ice and Fire will eventually pick up additionally Speed. This has a surprisingly pronounced impact on the mid-late game, and makes enemy melee notably more threatening. It also gives you more incentive to consider using melee yourself, at least once you're done with Grand Strategian.

Elite Trooper

Includes: Jarl, Warrior Maiden, Polar Bear, Royal Griffin, Witch Hunter, Assassin, Knight, Paladin, Horseman, Black Knight, Ancient Vampire, Ram-Thor, Winged Shadow, Highterant, Brontor, Advisor, Demon, Executioner, Demoness, Orc Veteran, Ent, Guard Droid, Foreman, Frost Unicorn.

Parameter 2: +5% Health

Parameter 3: +1 Speed

Parameter 4: +1 Attack

Parameter 5: +1% Resistance

Parameter 6: +1 Defense

Parameter 7: +1 Rune

Parameter 8: +1 Initiative

Notice that Brontors were also under Heavy Shooter. Sadly, since Initiative can't stack above a bonus of 1, they don't do much to make up for their lacking Initiative... though at least they can actually walk places if you level them up enough without having to rely on Ram or skip out on attacking in a given turn.

Healer

Includes: Priest, Inquisitor, Paladin, Engineer, Repair Droid, Faun, Orc Tracker, Sorcerer, Soothsayer.

Parameter 1: +10% healing power

Parameter 2: +10% healing power

Parameter 3: +10% healing power

Parameter 4: +10% healing power

Parameter 5: +1 Defense

Parameter 6: +1% Resistance

Parameter 7: +1 Rune

Naturally exclusive to units that heal, causing them to eventually provide 40% more healing than they usually provide. This is particularly impressive for the portion that can actually resurrect units, of course, which happens to be everything in the list except poor, poor Priests.

Low Supporter

Includes: Thorn Warrior, Thorn Hunter, Ice Thorn, Dryads, Ice Nymphs.

Parameter 2: +10% summoning amount

Parameter 3: +10% summoning amount

Parameter 4: +10% summoning amount

Parameter 5: +10% summoning amount

Parameter 6: +1 Defense

Parameter 7: +1% Resistance

Parameter 8: +1 Rune

A class just for Thorn summoners, which does not include Royal Thorns... which is because they're in the next class instead.

I'm not entirely sure why there's a Thorn-summoning experience class. It's a little weird.

Supporter

Includes: Royal Thorn, Royal Griffin, Ice Dragon, Gorgon, Demonologist, Demon, Evil Eye, Necromancer, Orc Tracker, Shaman, Engineer, Chosha, Druid.

Parameter 2: +10% summoning amount

Parameter 3: +10% summoning amount

Parameter 4: +10% summoning amount

Parameter 5: +5% Health

Parameter 6: +1 Defense

Parameter 7: +1% Resistance

Parameter 8: +1 Rune

Less summoning than Low Supporter, but in exchange you get a boost to Health. The Demon particularly appreciates this, and the Chosha is the only unit that would probably rather be in Low Supporter.

In the case of Shaman, I'm pretty sure what the summoning boost does is increase the amount of Health their Totems of Life and Death spawn with.

Battle Mage

Includes: Pyromage, Archmage, Rune Mage, Witch Hunter, Shaman, Blood Shaman, Goblin Shaman, Elder, Gorguana Ghost, Gorguana, Mystic, Contemplator, Demonologist, Evil Eye, Necromancer.

Parameter 2: +1% Resistance

Parameter 3: +5% Health

Parameter 4: +1% Resistance

Parameter 5: +5% Health

Parameter 6: +1 Attack

Parameter 7: +1 Initiative

Parameter 8: +1 Rune

Interestingly, this includes the Witch Hunter, where the list is otherwise made of ranged magical units.

High Level

Includes: Cyclops, Troll, Jotun, Red Dragon, Green Dragon, Black Dragon, Ice Dragon, Bone Dragon, Necrox, Tirex, Archdemon, Ogre, Orc Chieftain, Rune Mage, Giant, Ancient Ent, Snow Falcon.

Parameter 2: +1 Attack

Parameter 3: +1 Speed

Parameter 4: +10% Damage

Parameter 5: +1 Rune

Parameter 6: +10% Damage

Parameter 7: +1 Defense

Parameter 8: +1 Initiative

Basically Level 5 units collectively have their own class, instead of being lumped into one of the melee classes or one of the ranged classes. Naturally, it's a really good class, with pretty much every major non-specialized bonus in the list. 

Particularly worth pointing out is that Giants and Ancient Ents can thus reach 2 Speed if you're willing to level them up, giving them much higher potential utility than in prior games.

Vikings

Includes: All Viking units.

Parameter 2: +1 Attack

Parameter 3: +1 Initiative

Parameter 4: +1 Rune

Parameter 5: +1% Crit chance

Yes, Vikings have a class all to themselves just to make them better. Though for several Vikings the Initiative bonus is redundant with their other class.

Overall, it slants them toward aggression and Runes, which is in line with their faction design overall.

Level 4 Damage Bonus

Includes: Alchemist, Cannoneer, Engineer, Advisor, Elder, Brontor, Chosha, Ram-Thor, Winged Shade, Necromancer, Evil Eye, Gorgon, Contemplator, Royal Thorn, Royal Griffin, Demonologist, Demoness, Pyromage, Knight, Paladin, Jarl, Mystic, Soothsayer, Shaman, Blood Shaman, Ent.

Parameter 2: +10% Damage

Paramter 3: +10% Damage

Level 4 Damage Bonus is there to make Level 4 units get a Damage bonus. In conjunction with High Level giving Level 5 units bonuses to Damage, almost all units above Level 3 have the advantage over lower-Level units of gaining actual Damage boosts, encouraging using higher-Level units in the long haul.

Do note however that Damage bonuses from leveling are... applied erratically. Some units apply the bonus to their attacking Talents. Some units do not. There's no pattern that I can identify, and it can be fairly counter-intuitive in its behavior, with Talents that are essentially a variation on a normal attack failing to benefit while weirder stuff like the Tirex's Primal Fear Talent benefiting from Damage increases from leveling.

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I'm not entirely sure how the game goes about deciding what stats a unit gets when. I know it isn't random, and it's derived from the class list, and I suspect it tries to add stats as fast as it can 'legally' -that for example Jarls gain a boost to Damage at Level 6, and again at Level 7, and then stop because they're hard-capped on Damage boosts- but beyond that I honestly have no clue how the parameter function stuff works, and so among other points can't actually derive what a unit's max-level stats look like except by manually getting them to Level 10 and noting down the exact list of boosts.

One of the main takeaways is that in the late game basically anything that isn't a dedicated archer -and even some of those- picks up a point of Speed, which has a fairly pronounced impact on stuff like how effective eg Freeze's 1 Speed reduction is on melee units.

Some other points of note:

-Experience requirements scale fairly rapidly: the experience requirements per level work out as 100/250/500/1000/1800/3000/4800/7000/10000. This means that reaching Level 10 takes more than twice as much experience as reaching Level 8 does! (Level 10 is the maximum, incidentally, which is different from Red Sands where max level is 20)

-5 experience is the 'default.minimum' value broken out for eg Talents that don't target other units, 'killing' an Ice Spike, etc, though a unit may gain less than that from certain actions. (I've seen a Tirex gain 3 experience from using Primal Fear)

-Experience is capped at how much you can gain from attacking enemies by your unit's current level: at the first level units can only gain 15 at max, then 20 for the next three, then 25 for the next three, then 30 for the last two. (Discounting Level 10, of course, where you can't gain experience at all)

-Non-lethal Talents that target specific units actually scale experience in a similar way to lethal ones, except they seem to have more generous calculations: a Gorguana may find itself getting 25 experience for attacking an enemy stack and 27 for slapping Mark of Blood onto it. This even applies when targeting allies, and so units with such Talents can generate 'free' experience quite rapidly.

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And with that we're done covering what I know for a fact about the experience system, coupled with some speculation.

So back on to the Vikings it is.

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