Warriors of the North Unit Analysis Part 5: Orcs

Quick aside: I've come to suspect that leveling might work off an RNG seed, rather than being actually fixed as I'd previously thought. Either that or the AI just operates on a different leveling list than the player: I've outright fought a Foreman stack that was Level 8 and had +1 to Speed and Initiative while my own Foreman stack was also Level 8 and had neither of those boosts. So while I'm still, at least for the moment, noting down the numbers my units had at Level 10 in these posts, take them with a grain of salt.

I find it curious that it apparently generates a different seed for AI stacks, if that is indeed what is going on.

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First things first: general Adrenaline mechanics, or more precisely what's changed since Orcs on the March.

An Orc stack generates 4-6 (This is -1 to maximum gain compared to Armored Princess) Adrenaline for attacking or counter-attacking. (Objects still don't give Adrenaline) If any Orc finishes off an enemy stack, all Orcs on its team gain 10-12 Adrenaline. (This is another nerf: it used to always be 12) A new Adrenaline nerf mechanic is that using the Wait function will immediately subtract 3-5 Adrenaline from the unit. This is most relevant to melee Orcs, though honestly if you're trying to stall for an entire turn anyway, you can use the Defend command or simply run them out of Action Points by walking back and forth or the like.

And yes I know the game claims that 'just moving' is what causes the Adrenaline loss. It's not. It's using the Wait command in specific.

On the other hand, base max Adrenaline is now 30, so even if you don't have a rank in Rage Control Orcs can now actually reach Adrenaline Level 3, and of course Rage Control 3 lets your Orcs reach an incredible 60 Adrenaline max. That's a huge amount of Adrenaline, and is extremely difficult for most units to actually run through, especially since combat is so fast in Warriors of the North.

Otherwise Adrenaline mechanics are essentially the same -no base Adrenaline, Skills can affect starting Adrenaline, AI scales max and starting Adrenaline by game placement, etc- though as we'll see Warriors of the North has generally scaled back the impact of Adrenaline gains compared to Orcs on the March.

I'm not going to describe Greedy in detail on every single unit. It's the old Anticipating Trophies mechanic, but made explicit:

Greedy
If this unit finishes off an enemy stack, it gains +10 Morale for the rest of the battle.

Just like when I did bother to describe it on Robbers and Marauders.


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Racial relations-wise...

-1 Morale for Demonic presence in allies.
-2 Morale for Undead presence in allies.
-2 Morale for Undead Lizardmen presence in allies.
-1 Morale for Lizardmen presence in allies.

... Orcs have just extended their Armored Princess dislike of Undead to the new Undead Lizardmen. Otherwise, they're the same as last game. Given how no factions actually treat Undead Lizardmen differently from Undead, it's basically fair to characterize this as not a change at all.

It's actually kind of weird Undead Lizardmen are their own faction at all, in some ways...

Anyway though, Orcs.


Furious Goblin
Level: 2
Hiring Cost: 60
Leadership: 45
Attack/Defense: 14 / 14
Initiative/Speed: 8 / 3
Health: 40
Damage: 3-7 Physical
Resistances: Generic
Talents: Running (Charge: 1. +2 Action Points)
Abilities: Giant Killer (+20% damage against Level 5 units), Greedy

Level 1

Stat changes:
Talents:
Abilities: Irascible (Anytime the Furious Goblin takes damage from spells, Talents, or even from a regular attack that involves an Ability, the stack gains +Speed*Adrenaline Level for the rest of the battle, to a limit of +3 total)

Level 2

Stat changes: +5 Health
Talents: Goblin Insolence (-20 Reload: 2. The Furious Goblin moves over to melee attack a target enemy for 3-10 Physical damage, and then returns to where they were before using Goblin Trickery. The target doesn't get to retaliate)
Abilities:

Level 3

Stat changes: +10% crit chance
Talents: Goblin Greed (-10 Charges: 2. Destroys a corpse the Furious Goblins are standing on, generating some amount of Gold if owned by the player. Doesn't end the Furious Goblin's turn)
Abilities:

They've lost 2 Attack and Defense, gained 4 Initiative (Bringing them 2 over what they had in The Legend), and Giant Killer has lost some of its strength. Their Adrenaline Level bonuses are overall weaker, though that's misleading since they're more than happy with much higher innate Initiative.

The overall result is that they're even more insanely good at turn order advantage (Only Archdemons go before them!) but are worse combatants than in Orcs on the March. Though even then it's not a huge loss, and Warriors of the North is in some ways more generous with Adrenaline. For example, Adrenaline-the-Skill in Orcs on the March would give a fixed amount of Adrenaline to a single Orc, maxing out at 35. Action Rage in Warriors of the North has a Level limit per rank, but fully charges Adrenaline on a random Orc. At rank 1 it can only benefit Orcs up to Level 2... but Furious Goblins are Level 2. So if you have a single rank in Action Rage, you can slap Furious Goblins into your army and so long as you don't also include Goblins in your forces they'll always start every battle with 30 Adrenaline. Or 40 if you have the first rank in Rage Control. Or 50 or 60 for the second and third ranks.

That's way more generous than Orcs on the March, ensuring your Furious Goblins have all their bonuses and can smack enemies with Goblin Insolence right away for a safe hit. Basically, most any class can probably slip Furious Goblins into their army the instant they have access to the Isles of Freedom and enjoy a much more competent unit than if you were to do the equivalent in Orcs on the March.

And on the flipside late-game Furious Goblins are actually less annoying to fight... I mean, aside the Initiative thing complicating things.

It's a good improvement to the design overall!


Orc
Level: 3
Hiring Cost: 190
Leadership: 75
Attack/Defense: 16 / 17 (+13 / +12)
Initiative/Speed: 4 / 2 (+0 / +1)
Health: 70
Damage: 7-10 Physical
Resistances: 10% Physical (+2%)
Talents: Running (Charge: 1. +2 Action Points)
Abilities: Greedy

Level 1

Stat changes: +3 Attack and Defense
Talents:
Abilities: Violent (Always crits on counterattacks)

Level 2

Stat changes: +7% crit chance
Talents: Potion of Rage (-8 Charges: 2. Grants 3-5 Rage to the owning Hero if possible, and causes Orcs to be Furious for the next 3 turns. Does not end the turn)
Abilities:

Level 3

Stat changes: +1 Damage
Talents: Onslaught (-13 Reload: 3. Runs in a straight line an infinite distance to attack a single target for 10-14 Physical damage, shoving the target back one tile if possible. The target doesn't get to retaliate, but the attack requires at least one open tile between the Orc and its target. Can also be used to travel without attacking a target)
Abilities:

Gains 2 Runes from leveling.

5 less Leadership, +1 to Attack and +2 to Defense, their Adrenaline Level improvements have overall been nerfed a little (But not clearly so), they've swapped out Commander for Potion of Rage, and Onslaught burns a little more Adrenaline. A shift in role to a pure combatant, which I'm fine with. The Leadership cut in particular, though small, is an overall upshift in their quality.

Violent is, as with any other forced-crit, particularly useful to the Viking, and is actually a much more useful trait in general now that Orcs have Potion of Rage. Particularly if you've got some ranks in Rage Control and at least two in Action Rage such that your Orcs can simply Potion of Rage and then Onslaught right into the enemy's midst, Orcs can end up dishing out tremendous damage in response to being ganged up on. Ironically, copying a Veteran Orc Talent has finally given Orcs a much clearer role other than 'basically a bad Veteran Orc', as Veteran Orcs are better at mixing things up in melee more offensively but are more erratic about performing well when ganged-up on and aren't so hot at getting into melee in the first place when you're talking proper Adrenaline support.

Oddly, Orcs also tend to be a bit difficult to justify in Orc-the-faction heavy armies. They're really good if you're able to count on them getting a whole bunch of Adrenaline, but once they've got competition for the Adrenaline they become too unreliable. You could stop at Action Rage 2 and make the rest of the Orc army out of the Level 4 and 5 portion -there's more than enough units for that- but outside of that particular scenario Orcs amusingly tend to be better off tacked onto some non-Orc army. Or at least an Orcs-and-Orc-Chieftains-and-otherwise-no-Orcs setup; Orc Chieftains having Recruiter goes a long way to make Orc melee's casualty-prone nature tolerable.

Annoyingly, Orcs don't get the Speed from leveling until Level 10. At least that means you don't have to worry about AI Orcs having additional Speed, I suppose...


Veteran Orc
Level: 4
Hiring Cost: 280
Leadership: 140
Attack/Defense: 26 / 26 (+9 / +10)
Initiative/Speed: 6 / 3 (+1 / +1)
Health: 130 (+15%)
Damage: 13-16 Physical
Resistances: 10% Physical (+2%)
Talents: Running (Charge: 1. +2 Action Points)
Abilities: Counterattack (If counterattacked, the Veteran Orc makes a second attack on the target. Won't trigger on 'passive counterattacks' like Brontor Spikes, nor if the target has Furious)

Level 1

Stat changes: +7% crit chance
Talents:
Abilities: Nimble (Chance to evade enemy attacks. The chance is 7*Adrenaline level, meaning 0-21%)

Level 2

Stat changes: +8 to Attack and Defense
Talents: Potion of Rage (-8 Charges: 2. Grants 6-8 Rage to the owning Hero if possible, and causes Veteran Orcs to be Furious for the next 3 turns. Does not end the turn)
Abilities:

Level 3

Stat changes: +10 Health
Talents: Savage Attack (-17 Reload: 3. Does 13-16 Physical damage to the target and to enemies to the side)
Abilities:

Gains 3 Runes from leveling.

They've lost Scold entirely (But it was kind of a weird, niche Talent anyway), Potion of Rage no longer acts as super-Running but they've gotten Running back so whatever (Now Potion of Rage is temporary Furious and even more Rage per use, so that's pretty good! Especially since it's cheaper), Savage Fury Attack has been defacto nerfed by making its Adrenaline cost actually function (But it's actually cheaper than the Orcs on the March version is intended to be, amusingly), Nimble is actually slightly better than Veteran Mastery was at higher Adrenaline while doing away with the automatic low chance to dodge (Which was really frustrating so I'm glad to see it go), and I'm also glad to see Cunning go since while No Retaliation is awesome it was at odds with Counterattack.

The overall result is actually a bit of a buff while narrowing their focus, which I approve of. The main exception is that they're no longer Speed fiends at high Adrenaline, which... oh well.

One oddity is that even at Adrenaline Level 0 Veteran Orcs still have an, I assume, 1% chance to dodge. I know they do because I've seen them dodge when so low on Adrenaline it shouldn't be an option. So okay actually their automatic low chance to dodge isn't gone entirely, but 1% is sufficiently uncommon you may never see it in a run. 5% was this annoying just-common-enough rate that it would screw you over periodically in real play.

Veteran Orcs are insanely good at building experience, by the way. Running and Potion of Rage both build experience as self-targeted effects, a Fury effect means gaining experience every time something attacks them that can be retaliated against, and Counterattack actually gives full experience on both hits. They can easily gain 100+ experience in the first turn of a battle, pretty much every battle.


Ogre
Level: 5
Hiring Cost: 3000
Leadership: 1000
Attack/Defense: 37 / 47
Initiative/Speed: 5 / 2
Health: 680
Damage: 50-60 Physical
Resistances: 10% Physical, 10% Poison, 10% Magic, 10% Fire, 10% Ice
Talents: Drain (Charge: 1. Pick an enemy anywhere on the battlefield to take all their Action Points, which the Ogre can then immediately use for itself, as Drain does not end its turn or consume AP)
Abilities: Thick Skin (10% to all resistances except Astral)

Level 1

Stat changes: +1 Initiative
Talents:
Abilities: Heavy Hand (Melee attacks do 50% more damage against flying enemies, 25% more damage against Soaring enemies, and attacks have a 30% chance of reducing any enemy's Speed to 2)

Level 2

Stat changes: +15 Attack and Defense
Talents: Ogre's Rage (-10 Reload: 3. +1 Action Point, and Attack is doubled for 2 turns)
Abilities:

Level 3

Stat changes: +1 Speed
Talents: Forceful Strike (-15 Reload: 3. Targets an arbitrary enemy, inflicting 50-60 Physical damage, Stunning it for one turn, and dropping it in a random tile within 2 tiles of its original location)
Abilities:

Now they resist everything except Astral at base (They didn't use to resist Magic), they've lost some Attack and Defense, Ogre's Rage gives only one Action Point now, Forceful Strike as it's now called burns more Adrenaline while doing less damage (It also has a more limited drop zone, but this is arguably a good thing, making it less random), Heavy Mace Hand has been overhauled (It does less damage to Soaring enemies, and now instead of always penalizing Speed on Soaring/Flying enemies it has a chance of doing so to any unit, but has to be unlocked), they no longer have Orc's Commander at all, Drain only gets 1 charge period, and their stat bonuses have been shuffled about a bit so they take longer to speed up but are quicker to combat-stat up.

Basically they're overall weaker, but are a little more general.

They remain an Orc unit you might prefer to splash into a non-Orc army, as Onslaught 3 leading to their Speed being bumped up right away is a pretty big boost in their performance even with Drain helping. +15 to Attack and Defense is a pretty noteworthy boost, too!


Shaman
Level: 4
Hiring Cost: 600
Leadership: 200
Attack/Defense: 24 / 32
Initiative/Speed: 5 / 3
Health: 180
Damage: 15-18 Physical
Resistances: Generic
Talents: Dancing Axes (Reload: 2. Targets a single enemy anywhere on the field to do 20-25 Magic damage per Shaman in the stack, with 50% of the damage done healing allied organic units. The healing scales to 60/70/80% at Adrenaline Levels 1/2/3)
Abilities: Adrenaline Control (Begins the battle with +10 Adrenaline. At the start of each turn, has a 10*current Adrenaline Level chance of reloading all Talents), Thirst for Glory (+1 Adrenaline anytime an ally gains Adrenaline)

Level 1

Stat changes:
Talents: Totem of Life (-12 Reload: 3. Sets a Totem in an empty tile anywhere on the field, which in a 2-tile radius around it bolsters the Defense of allies and once per turn heals organic allies in that radius. The Totem has 7 health per Shaman at casting)
Abilities: Spirit Walker (+10% Magic resistance and +15% Astral resistance)

Level 2

Stat changes: +1 Initiative
Talents: Totem of Death (-15 Reload: 3. Sets a Totem in an empty tile anywhere on the field, which in a 2-tile radius around it lowers enemy Speed by 1 and once per turn attacks all enemies in its radius for Magic damage. The Totem has 10 health per Shaman at casting)
Abilities:

Level 3

Stat changes: +20 Health
Talents:
Abilities:

Dancing Axes no longer eats Adrenaline, but its healing has technically been nerfed if you're below Adrenaline Level 3 (But it was usually far more than enough anyway, so who cares?), Totems now burn Adrenaline, the old 'Fighting Spirit' Ability has been replaced with something more random but less disadvantaged (That also rolls in a nerfed version of 'Enraged'), they've lost the Dancing Axes damage improvement at higher Adrenaline Levels, their Initiative boost has been pushed up a tier, and their Health boost has been nerfed. In exchange, they now pick up minor Magic and Astral resistance at Adrenaline Level 1.

Ouch.

Note that I've got the in-game description given for Adrenaline Control's chance to reload Talents, but I suspect from actual play that it's the Adrenaline amount that provides the chance to trigger, such that eg 50 Adrenaline is a 50% chance to trigger. My own experience is that it triggers far too often with 50-60 Adrenaline to be a mere 30% chance, with it being routine to chain twice in a row. That would fit with a 50%-ish chance, but not so much with a 30% chance.

Anyway, while Shaman are notably nerfed compared to Orcs on the March, they're still quite solid, and they benefit from some other changes to Adrenaline, like the increased storage capacity and the fact that rank 3 Action Rage will just straight-up max their Adrenaline where rank 3 Adrenaline in Orcs on the March was only worth 35 Adrenaline. So for example with Action Rage 3 and Rage Control 3 with Shaman being the only Orc in your army, they'll just always start the fight with 60 Adrenaline, more than enough to slap down Totem of Death and Totem of Life while still being at Adrenaline Level 3. (Or slap down 2 Totems of Death if you get the recharge, for that matter) And of course Orcs on the March was such a massive improvement compared to The Legend for them that they're still very good regardless.

And of course Dancing Axes not eating Adrenaline also makes it easier for them to get started on contributing even without such support: since they enter battle with 10 Adrenaline and can use Dancing Axes without burning Adrenaline, that's 14-16 Adrenaline on turn 1 with no support whatsoever, while having tossed out a ranged hit and all. And with the Adrenaline support I described, they can practically be treated as a regular ranged unit, as they'll frequently reload Dancing Axes with Adrenaline Control.

I actually like this iterated of the Shaman the most of any version. The Shaman in The Legend needed help, the Shaman in Armored Princess was kind of ridiculous to fight and yet still a bit underwhelming in player hands because you had to put in effort to get the Adrenaline support unlike the AI, and... well, we'll get there when we get there, but I'm of mixed feelings of the Dark Side iteration.



Goblin
Level: 2
Hiring Cost:
Leadership: 40
Attack/Defense: 16 / 10
Initiative/Speed: 5 / 2
Health: 26
Damage: 2-4 Physical
Resistances: Generic
Talents: None
Abilities: Giant Killer (+20% damage to Level 5 units), Archer (Range: 4), No Melee Penalty, Greedy

Level 1

Stat changes:
Talents:
Abilities: Zeroing In (+30% Attack per Adrenaline Level, to a maximum of +90% Attack)

Level 2

Stat changes: +1 max Damage
Talents: Poison Axes (-10 Charges: 2. For the next two turns, ranged attacks Poison the target if possible. Does not end the Goblin's turn)
Abilities:

Level 3

Stat changes: +1 minimum Damage
Talents:
Abilities: Goblin Rage (-15 Reload: 1. A ranged attack with unlimited effective range which does 3-6 Physical damage and pushes the target back 1 tile if there's room to push)

In an unusual turn of events, Warriors of the North has reduced randomness by making Poison Axes a Talent that ensures Poisoning, rather than being a passive chance of Poisoning. Zeroing In has been made much more useful, too. Their damage bonus at Adrenaline Level 2 has been nerfed, being broken up into a max damage bonus at Level 2 and a minimum damage bonus at Level 3. They've also lost Unstoppable entirely.

Overall, the result is that Goblins are much more consistently useful of a piece, even if the loss of Unstoppable is a little painful. (I'm glad to see it go. It was dumb)

They don't play that differently overall, though, so there's not a lot to say.


Catapult
Level: 3
Hiring Cost: 180
Leadership: 130
Attack/Defense: 23 / 15
Initiative/Speed: 4 / 2
Health: 80
Damage: 6-11 Physical
Resistances: -50% Fire
Talents: Fiery Shot (Reload: 2. Ranged attack against an enemy, which does 8-13 Fire damage to the target and 50% that to adjacent units, with each unit having a 50% chance to be Burned as well)
Abilities: Archer (Range: 5), Siege Weapon (Tripled damage against Gremlins and the like), Susceptible to Fire (50% more damage from Fire), Commander (Furious Goblins, Goblins, and Goblin Shaman gain +1 Morale), Recruiter (A random existing stack of Goblins, Furious Goblins, or Goblin Shaman is reinforced at the end of each battle. The added units are equal to 2% of the Catapult's Leadership)

Level 1

Stat changes:
Talents: Fiery Shot now detonates explosives automatically
Abilities:

Level 2

Stat changes: +10% crit chance
Talents: Goblin Commander (-10 Reload: 2. An allied Goblin, Furious Goblin, Goblin Shaman, or Catapult of 260 Leadership per Catapult or less gets a second move. Does not end this Catapult's turn)
Abilities:

Level 3

Stat changes: +30% Fire resistance
Talents: Explosives (-15 Reload: 3. Sets an explosive object on a chosen empty tile 2-4 tiles out from the Catapult)
Abilities:

Fiery Shot is basic again with the 'detonate explosives' Talent having been functionally rolled into it, they've stolen Goblin Commander from Orcs (Which is nice!) while shoving Explosives up a step and making it have better range (Thank goodness), they've taken over the role of Goblin Commander and Goblin Recruiter... they've lost their innate Fire damage and their crit chance is far lower, but Goblin Catapults are one of the few Orc units that Warriors of the North actually overall buffed.


I don't think I've ever seen the AI use Goblin Commander, admittedly, but it's still nice that Catapults are a focused unit with an even clearer niche as compared against the other Siege Weapon unit. It's also neat on a conceptual level that you can very nearly field a proper goblin army -there's only four goblin units, so you'll have to fill the fifth slot with something else, an Ogre or whatever suits your fancy, but I appreciate it. It was a little odd how Armored Princess was emphasizing that goblins and orcs are not actually that friendly with each other and yet Orcs on the March made it so you needed the basic Orc if you wanted maximum goblin-focus. Admittedly, Warriors of the North is a return to Endoria and this orc/goblin split doesn't get much attention in it, but the Orc faction in general is a bit off to the side. I'm pretty sure the primary reason the Isle of Freedom were made into an Orc set of maps was less because it seemed a natural/logical/funny idea and more because it was a way to readily get Orcs literally on the map while keeping the majority of the travel sea chart-based, given the hurdles in smoothly incorporating the original Orc lands into such a scheme.

This is more or less the apex for Catapults. Dark Side makes them more abusable, but outside exploits the rejiggering of Adrenaline in that game is a huge nerf to them, and I've already touched on how this is an overall improvement over the Orcs on the March version which itself was an overall improvement over The Legend's version.


Orc Hunter
Level: 4
Hiring Cost: 500
Leadership: 160
Attack/Defense: 24 / 26 (+4 / +13)
Initiative/Speed: 6 / 3
Health: 150 (+10%)
Damage: 10-15 Physical
Resistances: Generic. (+3%)
Talents: Training (Charge: 1. For 2 turns, an enemy animal below Level 4 and below 112 Leadership per Orc Hunter fights on the Orc Hunter's side)
Abilities: Naturalist (+1 Speed to allied animals), Hunter (+50% damage against Beasts), Greedy

Level 1

Stat changes:
Talents:
Abilities: Loner (+8 Attack and +5 Defense if no ally is within 2 tiles)

Level 2

Stat changes: +1 Speed
Talents: Net (-15 Reload: 2. A single adjacent enemy s unable to move or use Talents that involve moving for 2 turns)
Abilities:

Level 3

Stat changes: +10% Physical and Poison resistance
Talents: Wild Call (-15 Reload: 3. Summons into an adjacent tile 50-80 Leadership per Tracker in the summoning stack. So long as the summoned stack is on the field, half of the damage the summoning Tracker stack takes is redirected to the summoned stack. Additionally, half of all damage the summoned stack takes is redirected to the Tracker stack. If they've already summoned a Wild Call stack and it still survives, Wild Call instead reinforces the existing stack)
Abilities:

Gains 2 Runes from leveling. Additionally, Wild Call gains +20% to its Leadership for summoning and 40% to Leadership for reinforcing.

Gained Attack, lost Defense, gained 1 Initiative, picked up a steal-enemy-animals Talent that's not associated with Adrenaline at all, lost their minor Poison resistance, Loner isn't innate but provides more Attack, their statting up from Adrenaline is overall worse/slower. Net is actually better, in terms of no longer being unable to target Level 5 units, and their animal-summoning Talent has been reworked to be basically a combined version of their old summoning and healing Talents. It does less summoning than the old summoning version, but it's also Reload-based instead of Charge-based, with really the only significant trade-off being that Hunters need to get to Adrenaline Level 3 to start summoning their meatshield at all.

Overall, the result is that Hunters are a bit better than Trackers were, albeit overall less useful at low Adrenaline.

... except for the little detail that for some crazy reason Wild Call's damage redirection cuts both ways. This is a huge nerf to Hunters: you can still use the summon as a 'health battery' to roughly halve the damage Hunters take, but having them meatshield to prevent enemies from doing meaningful damage at all is no longer all that desirable an option.

They've also stolen the Orc Veteran's place of 'my ultimate Talent supposedly burns a bunch of Adrenaline, but it actually costs nothing'.

A further oddity is that if you use Wild Call to reinforce the existing stack the text report will claim that 0 members were added to the stack. This is patently untrue, but if you're not paying close attention you might think you just wasted a Wild Call.

Levels-wise, note that I'm guessing when it comes to the effect of +40% to healing on Hunters. It's possible it doesn't actually do anything, and it's also possible that it just gets added directly to the summoning value in general, or something else non-obvious. It's the most natural possibility, but Warriors of the North has enough weird bugs and just plain oversights that the obvious answer is not necessarily the accurate one. Maybe it applies to Training!


Orc Chieftain
Level: 5
Hiring Cost: 4000
Leadership: 1200
Attack/Defense: 45 / 40 (+12 / +12)
Initiative/Speed: 4 / 2 (+0 / +1)
Health: 770
Damage: 55-75 Physical (+20%)
Resistances: 10% Physical, 10% Poison, 10% Fire
Talents: Sneer (Charge: 1. Provokes a target enemy of below Level 5 that lacks immunity to mental effects to attempt to attack the Orc Chieftain, with the targeted unit's resulting behavior being exactly as per Scoffer Imp's Sneer)
Abilities: Devastate (Melee attacks additionally hit enemy units behind the target for 25% of base damage. No friendly fire risk), Armored (10% Physical and Fire resistance), Poison Protection (10% Poison resistance), Commander (Allied orcs-the-subspecies gain +1 Morale), Recruiter (After a battle, an existing stack of Orcs, Orc Veterans, or Orc Trackers will be reinforced by 2% of the Orc Chieftain's Leadership), Greedy

Level 1

Stat changes:
Talents:
Abilities: Devastate now does 100% damage to the second target

Level 2

Stat changes: +15 to Attack and Defense
Talents: Scolding (-10 Reload: 4. An adjacent allied Orc-the-faction that hasn't moved yet receives the Orc Chieftain's entire Adrenaline supply and does doubled damage with its attack and Talents for one turn. Doesn't end the turn)
Abilities:

Level 3

Stat changes: +20% Damage, +1 Speed
Talents: Power of the Horde (-15% Charges: 2. A single target enemy takes Magic damage equal to the total number of Orcs-the-faction, multiplied by the Level of these units, in the entire allied army. Additionally, the target's Initiative is reduced by 1 for 1 turn)
Abilities:

Gains 3 Runes from leveling.

They've lost a little Physical resistance (And the associated chance to lower enemy Attack for meleeing them), gained 5 Attack and Defense, had their base damage increased (By almost exactly the amount they used to gain at Adrenaline Level 1), had their Health drop nearly 100 points, Sneer is no longer attached to Adrenaline at all (Huzzah!), switched over to only Commanding orcs-the-subspecies, and their damage and Speed boosting over time has been weakened and limited to Adrenaline Level 3. They've also totally changed their Adrenaline Talents, stealing (a weakened version of) Scold from Veterans and Power of the Horde from Blood Shaman, instead of eating allies and doing area of effect damage with an inexplicable synergy with shaman units. The overall result is that they're not as much of a 'close to melee and duke it out' sort of unit as they were in Armored Princess, at least if you're talking an Orc-heavy army -Power of the Horde's damage is pretty bad even with a pure Orc army, and it's essentially worthless if the Orc Chieftain is your only Orc unit, not to mention Scolding is actually worthless, leaving only Sneer and meleeing things at that point.


Note that Scolding is forbidden from targeting an ally who is at full Adrenaline. It's actually a surprisingly difficult Talent to meet the conditions to use, given points like the Orc Chieftain's middling Initiative (On a faction where many of its members have high Initiative) and slow Speed of 2. Which is a bit annoying since it's one of the better ways for the Orc Chieftain to grind for experience normally, being an ally-targeted Talent that doesn't end the turn.

Also note that Power of the Horde is inexplicably able to target your own units. I suppose this can be useful if you've mind controlled a unit, especially if you've broken the game's logic and the unit is refusing to return to enemy control, but I'm pretty sure it's a bug, and it means you need to be a bit more careful when engaging in targeting or else you'll end up zapping your stuff. Another issue with it is that it, for whatever reason, has horrible experience generation, usually only providing 5 experience when used even if a regular attack would generate 30 for the exact same result. (eg when both would finish off a stack) This is particularly frustrating given its nature as a ranged attack really seems like it should help with experience generation. No, not really... Orc Chieftains can be a bit of a pain to level in general, since they're slow, only have one decent Talent for generating experience on a consistent basis (Sneer), etc.

One nifty trick for experience acceleration is that if you Sneer at a target that's in range to attack the Chieftain stack, you'll get both the Sneer experience and the experience from the counterattack. Since Chieftains are individually bulky, you can get away with this without suffering casualties, if you're careful. It's particularly amusing/useful to pull off against enemy ranged units, if you can get somebody adjacent to them beforehand -maybe the Chieftains themselves, such as via Teleportation- since ranged units are otherwise so prone to just stepping out of reach and making a free attack, and also if they don't have No Melee Penalty they'll do pathetic damage.

Worth noting is that Chieftains gain their level-derived Speed at Level 8. (Caveat: see prior note that I may be completely wrong) This is really nice as a player as far as that the last 2 Levels are hugely demanding on experience, but it also means that late-game enemy Chieftains can potentially have level-derived Speed themselves.


Blood Shaman
Level: 4
Hiring Cost: 900
Leadership: 270
Attack/Defense: 20 / 32
Initiative/Speed: 5 / 3
Health: 160
Damage: 15-22 Physical
Resistances: Generic.
Talents: River of Blood (Reload: 2. An arbitrary enemy unit is inflicted with Curse and Bleeding for 3 turns. Undead and plants are invalid targets)
Abilities: Adrenaline Control (Begins the battle with +10 Adrenaline. At the start of each turn, has a 10*current Adrenaline Level chance of reloading all Talents), Thirst for Glory (+1 Adrenaline anytime an ally gains Adrenaline), Greedy, Tolerance (No Morale penalty from allied Undead)

Level 1

Stat changes:
Talents:
Abilities: Spirit Walker (+10% Magic resistance and +15% Astral resistance)

Level 2

Stat changes: +1 Initiative
Talents: Totem of Adrenaline (-12 Reload: 3. Destroys a corpse, replacing it with a Totem of Adrenaline. The Totem has 8 Health per Blood Shaman at casting. It lowers enemy Defense within 2 tiles and once per turn adds 2-4 Adrenaline to allied Orcs in that radius)
Abilities:

Level 3

Stat changes: +25 Health
Talents: Spirits of Rage (-10 Reload: 3. Does 16-20 Astral damage to an arbitrary target. If the stack is finished, they leave behind a Zlogn. Can also be targeted on a Zlogn, in which case all adjacent units take half Spirits of Rage's base damage instead, destroying the Zlogn)
Abilities:

They've picked up River of Blood as a Talent having nothing to do with Adrenaline, they take longer to get Initiative, they don't get a Damage boost but now get a Health boost, and their Talent pool has been heavily overhauled in general, though Spirits of Rage is familiar, if simplified. (And weakened: it's stronger than Spirit Rage at base, but Spirit Rage at Adrenaline Level 3 would easily outclass it and cost less Adrenaline) Also they've paralleled Shaman with gaining Spirit Walker etc. They've also jumped from Level 3 to Level 4 for some reason, which has its advantages and disadvantages but is probably overall a positive for them.

The overall result is a fairly significant nerfing, but Blood Shaman were so annoying to fight late in the game I'm okay with it. I also like Totem of Adrenaline being shifted over from a Spell to a unit's Talent, as it's a lot easier to justify a unit burning their turn on it than burning Mana/your Spell-per-turn on doing so. Totem of Adrenaline still isn't great, but having the Blood Shaman drop one when they've got nothing better to do just isn't as awful a choice as burning a Spellcasting turn on Totem of Adrenaline when you could absolutely have done something way more useful with that Spellcasting opportunity.

Though I've stuck with listing the 2-4 Adrenaline the Totem of Adrenaline supposedly adds, I've seen it add 1. And not like 'adds 1 because the Orc is near max'. Just... adds 1 Adrenaline. In fact, 1 is by far the most common result I've gotten! And it can glitchily attempt to add fractional values, though as far as I've seen this has no practical effect other than screwing up the Adrenaline display. The game also doesn't bother to mention that River of Blood has targets it can't be targeted at, and not working on Undead is a pretty big limit in Warriors of the North! (Bizarrely, it does work on inorganic units like Cyclops) Similarly, Spirits of Rage actually won't force a Zlogn generation when finishing off Undead stacks, oddly enough, which I suspect is a bug tied to Undead having a natural Zlogn generation chance. In fact, I've never seen an Undead unit leave behind a Zlogn when hit with Spirits of Rage!

Speaking of Zlogn, Zlogn are just Eviln from the prior two games. It's just whoever translated Warriors of the North went with the internal name instead of the previous translation. No idea why.

Minor oddity: Spirits of Rage sometimes animates with 4 hits and sometimes with just 1 hit. I've never noticed an actual pattern to it, and it's rather odd. It's also annoying, since the 4-hit animation drags on forever.

While I described this as a nerf earlier, it's probably more accurate to say that Blood Shaman are dependent on RNG and matchup considerations to get better performance than in Orcs on the March. If Adrenaline Control keeps kicking in on the Talent reloading, Blood Shaman end up functioning as a fairly decent basically-a-ranged unit, and so long as your enemies include units that aren't Undead or Plants it doesn't even have to trigger every turn since River of Blood provides solid damage over time and enhances all other sources of damage against that target. The overall result is actually a lot more useful than the Orcs on the March iteration. On the other hand, when you are up against Undead, Blood Shaman are unreliable at best and unequivocally nerfed at worst compared to Orcs on the March, where Undead weren't any kind of problem for them back then.

I actually like the changes overall, with my primary complaint being a scenario design one: it's easy to end up with a poor opinion of Blood Shaman since they're so hamstrung by River of Blood not working on Undead and Undead being all over the place. If eg you ported this design into Orcs on the March's scenario, they'd be reliably solid, and you'd just maybe want to keep something in Reserves to swap with when facing Undead or Plant-heavy battlegroups.
:

Goblin Shaman
Level: 3
Hiring Cost: 250
Leadership: 120
Attack/Defense: 20 / 15 (+13 / +8)
Initiative/Speed: 5 / 2 (+1 / +0)
Health: 60 (+5%)
Damage: 4-8 Astral/Physical
Resistances: Generic. (+4%)
Talents: Thread of Life (Charge: 1. Targets two units, friend or foe. A portion of the damage dealt to the first unit is transferred to the second unit for 4 turns, with each activation reducing duration by 1 turn. If the first unit targeted is an Orc unit, the transfer rate is 50%, otherwise it is 20%. Using this Talent clears several existing defensive effects on both units, including Thread of Life itself. Cannot be Dispelled)
Abilities: Ghost Axes (Range: Infinite. Ranged attack ignores resistances and 30% of the enemy's Defense), No Melee Penalty, Greedy

Level 1

Stat changes:
Talents:
Abilities: Spirit Walker (+10% Magic resist, +15% Astral resist)

Level 2

Stat changes: +1 Initiative
Talents: Curse of the Ancestors (-15 Reload: 1. One member of the stack dies, and a 8-10 Astral damage attack is performed by the remainder of the stack against a single distant enemy)
Abilities:

Level 3

Stat changes: Ghost Axes now lower all the target's Resistances by 2% per hit, to a maximum penalty of -10%
Talents: Dedication (-15 Charges: 3. Sacrifices 3 Goblins, Furious Goblins, or Goblin Catapults from an adjacent allied stack to generate 1 Goblin Shaman in the casting stack, roughly)
Abilities:

Gains 2 Runes from leveling.

They're actually 10 Leadership cheaper, Web Thread of Life has gone from 'why would you use this' to 'horrifying' (The game claims you place it on any two allies, but no, it can be used to redirect damage to enemies), Dedication is better than Initiation was, and they've replaced a minor Defense boost with a minor boost to Magic and Astral resistance, but their base damage is lower by 2 points at both ends, Astral Attack Curse of the Ancestors has been nerfed hard (Switching to Reload does mean you can get more potential uses out of it, but no longer can it be spammed within a single turn, and it also actually ends your turn), Ghost Axes has actually switched over to being Infinite Dragon Arrows but no longer impairs resistances until Adrenaline Level 3 and can no longer be stacked infinitely, and they no longer act as your Goblin booster/recruiter unit.

The overall result is that Goblin Shaman are actually overall a better unit in a relative straightforward way (Their damage is actually usually higher since they aren't constantly dealing with halved damage from poor base Range, not to mention they ignore some Defense and any Astral resistance a target might have, and with their lower Leadership you can pack more in too, not to mention Web of Life was awful where Thread of Life is mean) but have had their most ludicrously exploitable quirks made much, much less ridiculous.

Note that Dedication actually does scale, which is a big improvement compared to Armored Princess where Dedication was a neat idea but waaaaay too slow to matter past fairly early in the game. Now it's actually practical to try to keep your Goblin Shaman topped off via Goblins and/or Furious Goblins being Dedicated if eg your shop supplies of Goblin Shaman are running low. It also helps that Warriors of the North doesn't have Military Academies and so there's no better process for converting Goblins and Furious Goblins into Goblin Shaman.

Strangely, Curse of the Ancestors' animation has been overhauled from 'zapping with purple energy from the sky' to 'hurling a Ghost at the enemy, which awkwardly slides over in its idle animation and then plays its attack animation'. It's ugly as sin, and looks bizarre to boot, and I'm not sure why Warriors of the North made this particular change.

Another notable, subtle change is that the resistance-lowering effect does not apply to Bosses at all. This seems a bit redundant with adding a max limit to the effect, but I wouldn't be surprised if there's some technical reason boiling down to 'Bosses work in a way that means the limit couldn't be applied to them'.

Still, the changes are a welcome relief, making Goblin Shaman fun to use and no longer infuriating to fight like they were in Orcs on the March.


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Warriors of the North's iteration of Orcs isn't perfect, but it's my favorite one, and probably the best one on a design level. I'd still like Ogres to be tweaked, and Orc Chieftains need some work if only on a coding level, but Orcs are solid instead of ridiculous, distinctive and interesting without being overpowered. (It helps that most other factions got buffed)

It's too bad we're probably gonna have to wait another decade or two before someone decides to reboot this series or whatever.

Anyway, next time we cover Demons.

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