Warriors of the North Skill Analysis Part 2: Spirit

Warriors of the North renames Mind Runes to Spirit, and thus the green Skill tree too shifts from Mind to Spirit. I'm honestly not sure why now. Spirit seems like it would have been perfectly serviceable for the two Paladin classes, and the Skald isn't exactly the most spiritual of the WotN classes. Going by what we see of unit equivalents and NPC representation, it's Soothsayers who fill that role.

To be fair, I suspect the original label of Mind was really more about an attempt to build on the M&M theme naming of Might and Magic, which the Heroes of Might and Magic series is a huge influence on the King's Bounty series. (What with the Heroes of Might and Magic series building on the original King's Bounty, this isn't exactly a stretch) Possibly the developers -or the translators? Filenames suggest developers, if any- just dropped that angle, having always had Spirit as the more appropriate name but not using it because it wasn't 'punchy'.

Anyway, on to the actual Skills.



Scouting
The player can right click units in the field to get a list of the unit types and an overall estimate of the threat level of the battle group. Also, +1 Intellect.

The player can right click units in the field to get a list of the unit types and an overall estimate of the threat level of the battle group, and can also click on castles and 'shelters' for the same effect on any battlegroup within. Also, +2 Intellect.


Now the player gets a precise unit count when right clicking on enemies. Also, +3 Intellect.



Skill tree requirements: None.

I really like how Scouting 1 is actually basically flatly superior to the Magic tree's Intellect booster, encouraging you to go for Scouting 1 super early.

Scouting hasn't actually changed any from in Armored Princess, aside that Warriors of the North is more generous with Skill Runes and so it's less painful to try to max it. That's fine, because it worked very well in Armored Princess.

Power of Spirit
+1 to Attack and Defense.


+2 to Attack and Defense.


+3 to attack and Defense.

10 

Skill tree requirements: None.

Power of Spirit has been made more basic and also overall cheaper; the overall Might cost is the same, but now backloaded (It was 3 per rank in Armored Princess), while the Spirit Rune cost is -4/-1/+2 relative to the Mind Rune cost in Armored Princess. It's a huge relief how easy it is to grab the first rank and move on, particularly for the Soothsayer and Viking where Spirit Rune costs really hurt. (And Might Rune costs also hurt the Soothsayer...) It does end up a bit odd how the final rank is painfully expensive -I basically don't buy it until I'm running out of things to purchase. But eh, whatever.

The cost reduction also means that the first rank is pretty clearly superior to buying Heroism and Resistance's first ranks, for whatever that's worth. You're going to need them eventually for other Skills regardless, so it's not worth much.

Jarl
1% more Leadership, and +1 Morale for Slingers, Vikings, Skalds, and Pirates.


3% more Leadership, and +1 Morale for Slingers, Vikings, Skalds, Pirates, Axe Throwers, Berserkers, and Sea Dogs.



5% more Leadership, and +1 Morale for all Vikings-the-faction as well as Pirates and Sea Dogs.



Skill tree requirements: None.

Finally we have an actually decent Leadership-boosting Skill! Oh, sure, at the beginning of the game getting 1% more Leadership means getting 5 Leadership added to your 500, but when you've inevitably got 10,000 Leadership down the line it's matched the 100 Leadership you got in The Legend and Armored Princess for Level 1, while providing Morale to some units -and going on to become even better as your Leadership climbs. There's the more subtle layer that it's also a Skill that's especially useful for its class, now that the green class is the highest leadership class instead of the Might class. Which is nice, since a given class is really supposed to be master of their Skill list!

... unfortunately, Glory is still a Skill, and inexplicably placed higher in the tree with barely any improvement over previous games, somewhat undermining my cheering.

But still!

Diversions
Each enemy unit has a 10% chance to miss its first turn.


Each enemy unit has a 20% chance to miss its first turn.


Each enemy unit has a 30% chance to miss its first turn.



Skill tree requirements: Scouting and Power of Spirit.

I've no idea why Diversions is depicting a Shtopir over a map. And I'm sort of bemused that the gradation on the graphic seems to be essentially just leaching out color as you go to the lower ranks.

Diversions itself is a nifty Skill idea, even if I wish it wasn't rooted in randomness. Just buying one turn to drop Blinds or finish off stacks or whatever can mean the difference between getting a point toward Grand Strategian vs taking some casualties, and Warriors of the North is a sufficiently fast-paced game that eating a single turn has a fairly pronounced impact in general; it's not unusual for a battle to only last 2-3 turns, particularly past the early game, and it's not unusual to straight-up wipe out a stack in the first couple of turns. (eg meaning that the enemy's ranged forces never get a chance to do damage at all because you killed them after Diversions wore off) In Armored Princess battles were much more prone to lasting 5 or so turns, with it taking 3-4 turns to finish off your first stack, and so Diversions wouldn't have had that pronounced of an impact back then.

Ideally, every class should get Diversions maxed reasonably early. It's that widely useful.

Diplomacy
If an enemy force contains identical unit types to the Hero's current army, up to 3% of the matching enemies will join the player's stacks. This cannot take the player over their Leadership. Additionally, for units the player cannot recruit in this way, 4% of the army deserts, reducing the stack size the player faces, without any penalty to Experience or the like.


If an enemy force contains identical unit types to the Hero's current army, up to 8% of the matching enemies will join the player's stacks. This cannot take the player over their Leadership. Additionally, for units the player cannot recruit in this way, 8% of the army deserts, reducing the stack size the player faces, without any penalty to Experience or the like.


If an enemy force contains identical unit types to the Hero's current army, up to 12% of the matching enemies will join the player's stacks. This cannot take the player over their Leadership. Additionally, for units the player cannot recruit in this way, 12% of the army deserts, reducing the stack size the player faces, without any penalty to Experience or the like.



Skill tree requirements: Jarl.

And at last Diplomacy is actually reliably decent! It's still not great, honestly, but it's at least no longer stupidly finicky to have it work at all.

Unfortunately, one caveat to that is that the game seems to select the stack completely at random, and then check whether you can lure that stack away or if it's just going to desert. So it's actually less reliable as a way to refill your forces in cases where it's possible!

It also doesn't steal away as many units as Diplomacy could in Armored Princess, so even if it were recoded to prioritize theft over desertion it would still be a bit of a trade-off.

Still, if you're not actually trying to leverage Diplomacy's unit-theft effect this is basically a flat improvement 99% of the time, especially when you consider that Armored Princess and Warriors of the North have both expanded the unit variety, further reducing how often your stacks would happen to 'line up' with enemy stacks. It's so much better that it wasn't until making a direct comparison for this write-up that I actually noticed Warriors of the North has any nerfs at all.


Learning
+10% combat Experience for the Hero. Additionally, +1 Intellect. In Ice and Fire, units gain 5% more Experience, as well.

11 

+15% combat Experience for the Hero. Additionally, +2 Intellect. In Ice and Fire, units gain 7% more Experience, as well.

11 

+20% combat Experience for the Hero. Additionally, +3 Intellect. In Ice and Fire, units gain 10% more Experience, as well.

11 


Skill tree requirements: Diversions.

The Ice and Fire bonus unit experience barely matters, as most of the time the cap on experience gain will be the primary factor in how slowly a unit levels and Learning doesn't let you break past the cap... not on attacks, anyway. From what I can tell, it does let you break past the cap on non-attacking Talents, which is something, but if so it only lets you break past it in the sense that eg 30 becomes 33. That's... nice? It mostly just contributes to units with non-lethal Talents tending to level faster than straight attackers, which would be true regardless since non-lethal Talents are 'free' experience.

Otherwise, it's literally the same thing as in Armored Princess.

Sense Weakness
+3% crit chance for all units, while enemies have 3% less crit chance against your units.
11 

+5% crit chance for all units, while enemies have 5% less crit chance against your units.

13 

+7% crit chance for all units, while enemies have 7% less crit chance against your units.

16 


Skill tree requirements: Diversions.

Why is this so expensive???

I'm not entirely sure how the defensive portion of Sense Weakness works, but I know that the game will occasionally explicitly announce that a unit avoided being crit thanks to Sense Weakness. Which is kind of nice, since normally one of the frustrating things with modifiers on random effects is there's no way to concretely say 'it helped me here'.

Regardless, this... exists? No other Skill requires it so thankfully you can completely ignore it, which is good because it's hideously overpriced and in particular would be crushing to the non-Skald classes to be forced to grab a rank in. And annoyingly the Viking is actually the main class that wants it maxed out, since they've got Absolute Rage and so ideally should have as much crit chance as possible, so even that caveat only goes so far for making this non-painful.

It's pretty clearly a successor to Prayer, only with the crit-resist effect thrown on and otherwise nerfed. The first rank isn't so bad -it only costs 1 more Magic Rune and 1 more Spirit Rune, while adding on 3% crit resistance- but the later ranks have less crit boost than Prayer provided while having obnoxiously spiked costs all-around. And yeah, sure, they provide the crit-resist effect, but effects that only trigger when you get attacked are always less valuable than effects that kick in when you attack, so the first rank is a tolerable trade-off and everything past that is functionally a serious nerf to a Skill that was never great. Why???

Glory
+100 Leadership.



+350 Leadership.



+700 Leadership.




Skill tree requirements: Diplomacy.

I really have no idea why Warriors of the North held onto Glory like this, let alone shoved it to the middle-ish of the tree and raised its cost with no boost to make up for these changes. Like, sure, if you're a Skald, you might as well put points into this early, but in the long haul it's just... no. It's particularly odd to me given that Warriors of the North is so fond of giving Skills multiple separated, often outright unrelated effects. Glory could really use something like throwing in Attack and Defense, or... something.

At least Dark Side gets it right.

For the moment though, the usual Glory thing: take that first rank, and ignore the rest, except that the Skald can and maybe even should max it out fairly early. You get so many Skill Runes in Warriors of the North that it's kind of inevitable that you'll max your personal Skill tree, and you'll probably get pretty dang close on the other parts too. So you might as well get it maxed when a few hundred more Leadership actually matters rather than later when you don't care.

Or you can ignore that and just focus on your other Skills that are more meaningfully beneficial since you're the Skald and so 700 Leadership is barely anything to you by the time you can even purchase the third rank.

Tactics
Before combat begins, the player can rearrange their troops anywhere within up to 1 tile of default starting positions.



Before combat begins, the player can rearrange their troops anywhere within up to 2 tiles of default starting positions.




Skill tree requirements: Learning.

And now Tactics is a green Skill! I actually quite like that, Tactics always seemed much more in line with how historically the green tree got stuff like Reserves in it, only with actual concrete benefits in real play rather than just player convenience. (Which has always been a benefit of Tactics; after all, if you enter a battle and conclude two units should have their positions swapped, you can just reload and swap their unit slots. Tactics lets you skip the reloading and go straight to the swapping) It's also nice on the level that the green tree is the main one that every class tends to get at least moderately deep into, due to how Skill Runes from level-ups are distributed, and Tactics is sufficiently widely useful it's nice to have reliable access to it without it being a crushing burden to reach.

Aside the Skill tree being changed and the costs reworked, though, Tactics is the same as it ever was. Which is fine. It was one of the more solidly-designed Skills back in The Legend.

Favorite of the Gods
10% chance for an attacking enemy to take 10% of the damage they just dealt.
11 

10% chance for an attacking enemy to take 15% of the damage they just dealt.
11 

10% chance for an attacking enemy to take 20% of the damage they just dealt.
11 


Skill tree requirements: Learning and Glory.

I like the code's internal designation a lot more: 'Divine Auspices'. The signs favor you. Favorite of the Gods sounds a bit weird, even if it's probably reasonably accurate to the story of Warriors of the North.

Regardless, Favorite of the Gods is... another Skill of dubious utility. What's particularly frustrating is that it's poorly-timed; Favorite of the Gods would've been fairly solid in Armored Princess, where combat tended to be slow and a player desiring to entirely avoid casualties would almost certainly end up leaning pretty heavily on summon-spam for meatshields. In Warriors of the North, though, you're so effectively nuking enemies down your units almost never get attacked at all, and certainly not for enough (initial) damage for Favorite of the Gods to meaningfully punish them.

It also suffers from really bad scaling. The second and third ranks are each the same cost as the first rank, but the payoff for that cost is way less, relatively. It makes it hard to justify buying the later ranks until you're running out of things to purchase.

In theory I like how it would combine with WotN Reserves, but in practice it doesn't work out.

Persuasion
Morale penalty from racial intolerance reduced by 1.
12 
Morale penalty from racial intolerance reduced by 2.
16 
Morale penalty from racial intolerance reduced by 3.
12 

Skill tree requirements: Glory.

Persuasion is a cool Skill, being basically The Legend's Tolerance, only instead of wonky arbitrary lists that lead to oddities like Undead and Demons in some sense being easier to get along with than Elves with Dwarves, it scales in a way that means it first makes minor friction go away, and only later does away with the worst of it. I quite like it as an improvement over The Legend's Tolerance, whose binariness was just weird.

Note that the reduction is per racial penalty, not to the overall result. As such, Persuasion 3 actually means you're ignoring racial Morale, as no individual penalty is greater than -3. You can totally stack Undead, Undead Lizardmen, and Demons in with some Peasants and have them unbothered by this trifecta of horror. I'm of somewhat mixed feelings of this aspect, but ultimately that's more a commentary on how racial Morale remains a somewhat wonky mechanic than on Persuasion itself.

And yes, its cost spikes at Level 2 and then goes back down. It's a bit strange, because the only -2 racial penalties are for Demons to Elves, Undead to Orcs and Lizardmen, and Undead Lizardmen to Orcs and Lizardmen. Erasing -1 and -3 are each actually the bigger impacts. I don't really get it.

That said, I've also had somewhat inconsistent behavior from it, such as the first rank having no effect on Lizardmen disliking Undead Lizardmen. This is perhaps unsurprising given that you can see in the Morale .txt that Tolerance's effects are custom-coded per racial interaction, rather than the game intelligently applying a rule on its own. So... be forewarned you might not get what you want if you're planning around Persuasion.

Reserve
Every eight rounds, troops held in Reserve will be added to identical unit types in combat. Up to 10% of the Hero's Leadership is added at a time.

12 

Every six rounds, troops held in Reserve will be added to identical unit types in combat. Up to 20% of the Hero's Leadership is added at a time.

12 

Every 4 rounds, troops held in Reserve will be added to identical unit types in combat. Up to 30% of the Hero's Leadership is added at a time.

12 


Skill tree requirements: Tactics.

Warriors of the North's version of Reserves is an interesting Skill on a number of levels, though its practicality is a bit more questionable. I definitely like the idea of it, as it offsets one of the problems with using glass cannon units -that of their utility rapidly degrading in a battle as they suffer casualties- but it still doesn't address the part where casualties cost Gold to replace, requires you specifically prep your Reserves slots to take advantage of the Skill, and its level scaling means it's only really useful if you actually buy all 3 ranks of it, as while battles lasting four turns is only moderately uncommon, battles lasting 6 or 8 turns is virtually unheard of, let alone lasting along enough for that to happen twice or more.

It's really too bad, because I think the general idea of a Skill for battlefield reinforcements is an amazing idea, but this particular implementation is nearly irrelevant, particularly given it showed up in Warriors of the North, which has the most consistently speedy combat of the series. (Dark Side can be faster, but it can also be much slower)

Alas.

Oratory
+1 Morale to Human and Viking units.
14 
+1 Morale to Human, Viking, Elf, and Dwarf units. (Plus Snow Elves in Ice and Fire)
14 
+1 Morale to units.
14 

Skill tree requirements: Favorite of the Gods and Persuasion.

Literally the only units not affected by Oratory 3 are Guard Droids and Repair Droids.

This is pretty obviously Armored Princess' Persuasion Skill returned, but made even more general (Getting to affect Undead and Neutral units when maxed) and with its costs reworked; specifically, Oratory is pure Spirit and past the first rank is actually more expensive than Armored Princess' Persuasion. (Which used 14 Runes in total on the first rank, but 12 and 10 for the second and third ranks)

I particularly appreciate that Oratory isn't required for any other Skills, escaping the odd dynamic where you'll inevitably have a Morale booster for a specific sub-set of units but not others. Well, ignoring that Jarl gets you favoring Vikings, anyway. You've still got the odd dynamic where eg getting Undead, Undead Lizardmen, Demons, or Neutrals to +1 Morale is more expensive than getting anything else to +1 Morale even though it's not actually a greater benefit to reach that point, but it's less wonky. Especially since realistically the Skald is the main class who's likely to bother with ranks in Oratory before the extreme late-game anyway, thanks to its position in the tree and its Spirit-intensive cost, with the Skald being quite likely to level it relatively quickly just because he'll have tons of Spirit Runes and that's all it burns.

So yeah. There's still wonkiness here, but it's better-made than Armored Princess' Persuasion, quite clearly.


As always, the following Skills are exclusive to the Mind Spirit class, the Paladin Skald, and I'll be using this space as a class mini-analysis.

Warriors of the North is the first game to make a stab at really giving the green class something other than 'the balance class'. The Skald is... imperfect, but I do particularly appreciate that now Leadership is, from least to most, blue->red->green, as opposed to the prior games going blue->green->red. This makes the Skald focused on quantity, where the Viking is focused on quality, in addition to the Viking getting more of a Rage focus. Kinda. Furthermore, the Skald has the entirely new mechanic of Edda, which... is... not well-handled... but I do appreciate the attempt to go 'okay, Might is about Rage, Magic is about Spells, and so too is Spirit about a thing in itself'. It seems a bit strange to make Edda unique to the Skald when Spells aren't exclusive to the Soothsayer and Rage isn't exclusive to the Viking, so there's some wonkiness here, but, again, it's nice to have them as something other than the 'balance' class.

Warriors of the North is, in fact, the first game in the series where the green class feels distinct and fun. Imperfect though they may be. So kudos to Warriors of the North on that front!

Edda
You may now use Edda.

+10% to Edda effect.



+20% to Edda effect.



Skill tree requirements: Power of Spirit.

Edda initially last 3 turns, no matter which song is chosen in a given fight. As covered with Medals, the duration will rise as you advance through the game.

There's honestly not much point to buying the higher ranks of the Skill. The effect is tiny, and Edda scale to your Hero's Level anyway, so there's no need to burn Skill Runes on improving your Edda, especially since most Edda have disadvantages that scale too. Unless you're doing some kind of carefully thought out challenge run where you crunch the numbers and determine you need a higher rank to pull off what you plan on doing, you'll get much more use out of your Skill Runes by putting them into other Skills. I mean eventually you'll max it just because Warriors of the North is generous with Skill Runes, but for most of the game? Eeeeeh.

It's especially weird that the game has the higher ranks cost the other Runes, further discouraging actually buying them.

Once you have bought your first rank in Edda, at the beginning of every battle you'll be asked to pick one Edda out of 9 different possibilities. You don't need to unlock any specific Edda beyond purchasing the Edda Skill; you have all 9 the instant you have any of them. You can't change your Edda partway through or anything of the sort, alas, which closes off a lot of possible strategies.

Edda's effects on units generated or stolen partway through a battle are... inconsistent in my experience. Some effects will be applied smoothly and taken away once the unit is returned to the enemy, where relevant. Others... not so much. I've never noticed any particular rhyme or reason to it, though I assume there is one.

Note that while I'm attempting to give the base values on the Edda, in real play you'll never actually see them, and many of these values are inferred: by the time you get Edda unlocked, most Edda will have a 10% or so boost in performance already. I think the game rounds down level-derived boosting to Edda, but I'm not sure, and it doesn't help that I'm not entirely sure how much of a boost leveling actually provides.

So the Edda are...


Song of Asgard
A minimum of 10% of your units' damage ignores enemy positive resistances. (Unless the target is a Ghost, Cursed Ghost, or Pirate Ghost) The Hero's Defense is reduced by 20%. At the beginning of each turn, a random allied unit is granted +1 to Speed and Initiative for the turn.

Song of Asgard is a decent enough Edda if you're using a ranged-focused army and are confident in your ability to prevent enemies from getting a chance to attack your forces at all. Its main flaw is that its primary/non-random benefit is about improving bad matchups, and until the effect has scaled significantly you'd honestly be better off doing something else, like coming back with a different army or using one of the Edda that's more directly useful while also helping bypass resistances. (eg Ljusalfheim can be used to effectively partially bypass resistance if the resistance isn't to Magic, while also bolstering your Spellcasting ability)

The Speed/Initiative boost is cool, but too unreliable to plan around on even an army-building level. It's also basically directly un-synergistic with orienting your build toward a ranged army to minimize the Defense loss mattering; the Speed boost isn't irrelevant to ranged units, but it's a lot more relevant to melee units, and while Initiative is great on ranged units there's another Edda that outright bolsters your entire army's Initiative, making it far superior for helping ranged-oriented armies. I basically never use Song of Asgard in practice.

It's kind of sad because I'm pretty sure Asgard is meant to be kinda your default general Edda, and it's really not, not even early in the game where it barely penalizes you at all.


Song of Ljusalfheim
A minimum of 25% of your troops' damage is inflicted as Magic damage instead. Each turn, the Hero has a 25% chance to recover 10% of their missing Mana. Each turn, 1-2 random units -friend or foe- are hit with a random Spell. (The list includes: Dispel, Haste, Bless, Divine Armor, Battle Cry, Helplessness, Slow, Magic Shackles, Pygmy, Fear, Weakness, Doom)

Ljusalfheim (Light Elf Home) is actually a pretty okay choice if you're trying to focus on your spellcasting anyway, in a nuke 'em from orbit sort of way, as in most cases the only particularly problematic Spells it can cast are Battle Cry (On an enemy), Fear (On whichever unit of yours is getting you early-turn Spellcasting), and potentially Magic Shackles. (Such as eg it Magic Shackling your Necromancer, preventing them from using Plague to make Spell nuking 33% more effective... which is actually a bit less broadly useful, since so many enemies in Warriors of the North are Undead anyway, so eh) Notably, this is the only Edda whose 'bad' trait (The potential to bolster enemies or weaken allies with buffs/nerfs) doesn't really scale substantially, making it an Edda whose utility pretty clearly rises as you level.

It's too bad the Soothsayer can't get a hold of Edda. They'd love Ljusalfheim.

Though unfortunately there's one Edda that often pushes Ljusalfheim aside.


Song of Muspelheim (I have no idea why it isn't ending in heim in-game in the English translation)
A minimum of 25% of your troops' damage is inflicted as Fire damage instead. Every time an enemy unit attacks one of your units, there is a 5% chance the enemy will be Burned if they aren't immune to fire. Your troops gain 10% Fire resistance. (The cap on this bonus is 80%) Conversely, your troops suffer -12% Ice resistance and -1 to Initiative.

Muspel is thematically neat but suffers from the broader tendency of the King's Bounty games to correlate damage type and resistances, and in particular Warriors of the North tends to tie together 'likes Fire' with 'hates Ice' and vice-versa. So for example Ice Spiders are painfully weak to Fire (Which not only means Muspel will increase your damage against them but also Burn them), but are also using Ice damage and so will kill your own units faster. The Fire resistance will help you against Red Dragons, Black Dragons, and Fire Dragonflies, but then the conversion to Fire damage will actually impede your ability to kill them! 

In practice Muspel is mostly worth considering if you're fighting Plants, and even then the Initiative penalty makes it more narrow than one might hope. And I don't even get why it lowers your Initiative; it hurts it so much on a game design level, and there's no thematic reason behind it that I can see!

Still, 'break it out for Plants' is something.


Song of Vanaheim
A minimum of 25% of your troops' damage is inflicted as Physical damage instead. Your troops have 5% more Health, but its resistances are 15% closer to neutral.

This is one of the more objectively bad Edda. The Physical conversion is of limited use since the vast majority of units do Physical damage anyway and it's unlikely Physical damage will be the best way to bypass problematic resistances -especially since minor Physical resistance is one of the more common incidental resistances on units with extreme resistances. (eg Archdemons, dragons) The defensive component is... odd and pretty terrible, aside one oddity I'll get to in a second. It's a percentile modification of the base number for the resistance; so for example 50% resistance would drop by 7.5 to become 42.5% resistance at the base value. (Before rounding, though I'm not completely confident the King's Bounty games round in this kind of situation) This basically means Vanaheim's defensive value is best employed on units with neutral resistances (eg Peasants) who are unaffected by the disadvantage while still leveraging the full Health boost.

This comes with several caveats, though.

First of all, the offensive component is generally non-synergistic with that kind of priority. For the most part, if a unit has a damage type other than Physical, it also has at least one fairly strong resistance. Dryads are one of a tiny handful of exceptions. This isn't even touching on how often the offensive component of Vanaheim will actually be a disadvantage in real terms.

Second of all, externally-provided resistances are still affected by Vanaheim. If you get the Guardian Medal maxed -and why aren't you doing that?- then Vanaheim is always costing you some resistance, across the board so matchup can't be used to escape this disadvantage. The scaling of Vanaheim's improvements are percentile, too; the point at which Vanaheim increases Health by 10% is the point at which it lowers resistances by 30%. Imagine if, instead, each number went up by 1 every few levels; in that case the ratios would become more favorable as you leveled up. That's not what's happening, though.

Thirdly, the King's Bounty games are designed so that low Health+high resistances is consistently better than the reverse. Resurrection, for example, will revive fewer units under Vanaheim than outside of Vanaheim. Warriors of the North is particularly bad about this now that the player can get Astral resistance out of Guardian, among other sources; in Armored Princess boosting Health was usually the only realistic option for protecting against Astral damage attacks. I'd have killed to have Vanaheim for fighting Baal in Armored Princess. In Warriors of the North, though? Eeeeeh.

Fourthly, it's basically always better to go for offense over defense in the King's Bounty games, but especially in Warriors of the North. Vanaheim is thus difficult to justify using simply because there are other Edda better at helping you defeat enemies quickly, instead of helping your units survive when attacked -which good play tends to revolve around minimizing enemy opportunities to attack in the first place.

The fifth caveat is the only one that's actually in Vanaheim's favor; I gave it the quirky description I did for a reason. Negative resistances aren't made worse by Vanaheim, they're made better. (eg -100% becoming -85%) This means that if you're intending to send units into a bad matchup like Ancient Ents against Fire damage units, Vanaheim doesn't have a disadvantage! At extremely high levels, this may make it practical to leverage Vanaheim so you can use units against enemies that would normally murder them and come out just fine instead.

Still. Outside that scenario -which, by the way, tends to be inferior to fielding units that are actually resistant to the enemies- Vanaheim is quite awful, bizarrely so.


Song of Midgard
Allied units each have a 15% chance to get +1 Morale. It's guaranteed that at least one unit will get the benefit.

One of the only Edda to lack a disadvantage, but its advantage is pretty weak. You'd think this would be the default Edda to use, but... no. Not really. It's actually one of the hardest to justify using, because its gains are so minor.

Since it's random, too, there's not really any way to leverage it. Negating negative Morale can be a sufficiently big deal that if you could reliably have it apply to a specific unit, it could be worth having an army built around using Midgard to negate some unit's Morale penalty.

But no, it's just... a weak Edda whose only advantages are that if you don't want to deal with any of the disadvantages of other Edda it's one of your only options to pick from and that its advantage isn't situational. This does matter given picking an Edda is mandatory once you've got the Skill, but... still.


Song of Jotunheim (In-game, the 'o' is actually a square u thing)
+2 to Attack and Defense, and unit attacks have a 5% chance to Stun enemies who are below Level 5. -1 Initiative.

Jotunheim is probably the entire reason why stuff like the Cyclops' Stunning Talent now gives enemies the chance to retaliate. Jotunheim would be kinda crazy-good for melee armies if anytime the Stun chance triggered enemies didn't get a chance to retaliate.

As-is, Jotunheim is... odd. If you're building a low-Initiative army anyway, it has no disadvantage in practice, even as it rises up to the range of -4 Initiative, and its advantages are all very widely useful. If you're not, the Initiative penalty tends to be fairly murderous on its viability. But even if you are fielding a low-Initiative army, the Attack and Defense boosts are minor and the Stun chance can't really be counted on and is somewhat self-defeating to be part of Jotunheim; if Jotunheim didn't penalize Initiative, it would be possible to build a ranged army that reasonably consistently suppressed a key target before it had a chance to use its Talents or move. As-is, what'll happen at higher levels is your ranged army won't get a chance to do anything before the entire enemy army has moved, making that utility nearly irrelevant.

I really wish Jotunheim had penalized Speed. It would be even harsher of a disadvantage in some ways, particularly at low levels where -1 Initiative can be worked around with really high Initiative units while -1 Speed is crippling to all but the most insanely fast of units, but it would have a clearly focused strategy of building a ranged army and trying to gun down enemies and then just duke it out with them in melee if they get on top of you. (Well, or use Teleport to pull your units out, but whatever)

This is a bit of a recurring issue with the Edda, but Jotunheim is the most frustrating since it comes so close to being an Edda that has a clear strategy to build around, and it would honestly have been really cool.


Song of Niflheim
A minimum of 25% of your troops' damage as inflicted as Ice damage instead. +10% to Ice resistance. (This bonus caps at 80%) -12% to Fire resistance, and -1 to Initiative.

It's literally Muspel, but in reverse.

It's better off than Muspel just because Ice is poorly-resisted while Fire damage is very rare, but the Initiative reduction still hurts and the whole 'basically anything weak to Ice probably does Fire damage/basically anything you want Ice resistance against is probably resistant to Ice itself' issue is still pretty killer.

If you don't mind the Initiative penalty, it's a semi-reliably decent option against Demons, as they're all vulnerable to Ice but only some of them do Fire damage. There's the issue that Ardent means they always have a chance of inflicting Burn, but it's sufficiently improbable that's a tolerable caveat. So long as there's no Imps, Scoffer Imps, or Archdemons in the enemy army, that Burn chance is all you have to worry about. So that's a niche for Niflheim, maybe.


Song of Infinite Money Svartalfaheim
Your soldiers get +1 to Initiative, but -10% to Defense. After the battle, your Gold gains are 12% greater.

The actual default Edda, in no small part because you really need to keep your Gold gains up if you want to keep up with the Skald's superior Leadership. The extra Initiative doesn't hurt either, and in fact gets quite crazy late in the game.

The Defense subtraction itself seems to be specifically taken from the unit's own base Defense, ignoring what your Hero provides, ignoring what they've gained from leveling, and ignoring any other Defense boosts they've gotten from Spells or innate effects like Elemental Power. This means that if you're using units with innately low Defense -such as most ranged units, or low-Leadership/Level units in general- Song of Infinite Money's disadvantage barely affects anything, even late in the game where the Defense reduction has risen quite high. Yeah, -40% Defense for +4 Initiative sounds like an unpleasant deal, but only until you realize that on a unit with innate 12 Defense what's actually going on is that your late-game Skald has 20+ Defense between innate Defense and gear-derived Defense, the unit has gained several points of Defense from leveling, and the unit is only losing 4-5 Defense out of somewhere north of 40 Defense.

It does dissuade you from using units with innately high Defense, however, particularly as you level...

... with the caveat that you don't care about your units' Defense if you never let them get hit in the first place, which, as I've said repeatedly, is the default state to aspire to.

Warriors of the North's fast and lethal combat is particularly guilty of this, making the Song of Infinite Money showing up now particularly ill-timed as far as trying to make its disadvantage a real disadvantage. Attack would've been a more relevant disadvantage. Health would be about the only thing that would be more poorly-considered a disadvantage, since it would make it easier to Resurrect your units, make enemy-derived Sacrifices more effective, etc.

And of course it's also the only Edda whose disadvantage is fairly directly offset by the process of advancing through the game. You're going to gain Defense from gear and shrines, period, not to mention one of your Valkyrie, after all. The Song of Asgard also lowers Defense, but it lowers the Defense derived from your Hero by a percentage -as you progress and more of your units' Defense comes from your Hero, Asgard's rising disadvantage is actually harsher. Early in the game, you don't have enough Defense for it to matter much at all. Late in the game, it may well be cutting off more of your units' Defense than the Song of Infinite Money even if you're using high-Defense units like dragons or the Cyclops!

What I'm saying is it's the best song from a 'I want to win the game' perspective, and one of the worse songs from a 'I want this game to be a well-balanced experience' perspective.


Song of Helheim
Anytime a unit of yours hits an enemy Undead unit, that Undead unit is afflicted with Holy Shackles for 2 turns, lowering its Attack and Defense by 5. Additionally, each such strike generates 1 Mana and 1 Rage.

Helheim is the Edda that frequently pushes aside Ljusalfheim; why go for a chance of getting a fraction of your max Mana back over a few turns when you can make it so every single time your units do damage to the enemy you reliably get more Mana and Rage and weaken the enemy?

Helheim is pretty consistently useful in the early game and for a sizable chunk of the mid/late game, but for the mid/early game and a lot of the very late game you won't be fighting Undead at all and so it'll be irrelevant. It does count Undead Lizardmen, but they appear for only a limited period of time so that doesn't do a ton for it.

It's very good when it's relevant, but when it's irrelevant it's... irrelevant. Straightforward.

Helheim is perhaps most notable for being the Edda you're most likely to switch to after reloading a save -after all, if you fall juuuust short of using a key Rage move in a fight with the Undead with Helheim not running, switching over to Helheim is an obvious way to change things in your favor.

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So anyway, the Skald's other Skill:

Warriors of Valhalla
After battle, a single stack regains up to 50% of its casualties.
12 
After battle, a single stack regains up to 70% of its casualties.
14 
After battle, a single stack regains up to 90% of its casualties.
16 
Skill tree requirements: Favorite of the Gods.

It's the Armored Princess Resurrection Skill, except it doesn't boost the Spell Resurrection anymore and it can't completely undo casualties anymore. Which is lame. It's still a very good Skill, mind, but it's no longer a way to use cool glass cannon units while completely doing away with the flaw of 'eats your Gold reserves when used'. Of course, with the Song Of Infinite Money on hand, what little Gold you're paying isn't really a problem, so I suppose it works out, with the only actual flaw being running out of unit stocks. Which is actually a bit frustrating in Ice and Fire, given how harshly limited your access to some unit types is.

Thematically, I don't really get why the Skald has it. On more of a game design level, it could be viewed as fitting into the quantity-not-quality aspect of the Skald (eg Warriors of Valhalla is fairly consistently at maximum effectiveness for low Leadership units, whereas having 2 Black Dragons die and one of them get up even at the third rank of the Skill is obviously not optimal), but ultimately Warriors of the North doesn't push that aspect that hard. Sure, there's a name basis going on -you need Favorite of the Gods to get Warriors of Valhalla, makes sense- but a resurrection effect from Warriors of Valhalla feels... weird.

I'm honestly reasonably certain this can be blamed on 'they liked Resurrection-the-Skill being on the green class and so wanted to reuse it, albeit with slight nerf'.

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Next time, we cover the Magic Skills.

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