King's Bounty Unit Analysis Part 1: Humans

Some general information to help contextualize numbers:

Every point of Attack over the target's Defense is 3.33% more damage, to a limit of +200% damage. (ie 60 points over the target's Defense is the limit of the benefits)

Defense being advantaged over Attack is roughly the reverse reduction, with the maximum reduction being to 1/3rd of the base damage. (Again, 60 points is where you stop getting any advantage from further increases)

Critical hits do 130% of max damage when activating if at zero Rage, while maximum Rage boosts the crit damage to 170% of max damage. The benefits are percentile: a half-full gauge is 150%, the mid-point between 30 and 70, regardless of whether that's 10 out of 20 or 50 out of 100. (My understanding is that Rage also influences crit chance, but I haven't been able to find hard numbers on this. This seems consistent with my own play, in any event)

With ranged attackers, I list a range in parenthesis after their ranged Ability. (Except when they have Sniper, which means 'infinite range') The game itself doesn't tell you this, but different units have different effective ranges, beyond which their damage is halved. 6 is the 'default' range throughout the series, but for instance Thorn Hunters have a range of 4 while Inquisitors have a range of 7.

Turn order is complicated. Initiative is the primary stat -if no units share Initiative, it's the only one that matters, with higher being better. If units tie in Initiative, then their Speeds are compared, with higher being better. If they tie there, then their Level is compared, with higher being better. I think the only check past that is that the player's units automatically lose Initiative turn order, a decision which, albeit frustrating at times, I think is probably for the best. Among other points, it ensures that Initiative boosters always have a clear utility, instead of simply using the highest-Initiative units and ignoring stuff like Battle Cry.

Morale operates in seven tiers, and its effects go like this:

-3 Morale or worse: -30% to Attack and Defense, and crit chance is 0.

-2 Morale: -20% to Attack and Defense, and crit chance is halved.

-1 Morale: -10% to Attack and Defense, and crit chance is reduced by 25%.

0 Morale: Base values.

+1 Morale: +10% to Attack and Defense, and crit chance is increased by 25%.

+2 Morale: +20% to Attack and Defense, and crit chance is increased by 50%.

+3 Morale: +30% to Attack and Defense, and crit chance is doubled.

Note that the Morale modifications of Attack and Defense occur at the 'final step'. As such, Morale actually becomes more and more important to pay attention to as you progress through the game, because even units with poor base Attack/Defense will experience relatively significant modification from Morale due to the player's climbing Attack and Defense being part of what gets modified.

Also note that summoned units interact a bit strangely with Morale. They'll use the appropriate icon and title for what Morale bonus you'd expect them to have given eg items, but they actually won't experience any modifications from Morale. I'm noting it primarily because a cursory examination may lead you to believe Morale applies to them, but... nope.

A lot of this information is borrowed from GameBanshee's site, though I've personally confirmed all the combat numbers as well, and there's enough errors in GameBanshee's listings this is worth noting, as I've corrected those. I haven't checked the hiring costs, as in my opinion it's usually not terribly important a parameter (Past the early game, you tend to have more than enough Gold to buy whatever you actually need/want so long as you're not doing something like changing out your entire army formation constantly), so I don't guarantee the accuracy of those particular numbers, but otherwise everything should be fully accurate to the latest patch as of late 2017.


Humans are the first distinct species of the game, and, uh, it mostly serves to impair them, as they suffer penalties from Undead and Demons but don't get the mono-species Morale bonus other 'proper' species get. And lower-level Humans will suffer penalties from hanging with certain of their own Human forces, to boot.

Overall the lack of the Moral bonus is the main disappointment, though, as the Tolerance skill can wipe away their issues with Undead and then Demons, leaving them with only the Robber Ability to bother them. It helps that the game tries to compensate for this lack of a Morale bonus by giving Humans all kinds of support from other sources -multiple pieces of equipment provide sizable bonuses (such as slashing Leadership costs) to all Humans or some sub-set of Humans, with one of the more memorable examples being how the Marshal's Baton provides the single biggest Leadership boost from an item in the entire game and then throws in for free +1 Morale for all Humans. Oh, and if you're playing a Warrior then you have Iron Fist to specialize in Human forces.

It's all kind of weird and in general the racial Morale stuff seems like an interesting idea with a somewhat strange execution. Unfortunately, racial Morale doesn't really change in the later games, except indirectly, so the weirdness never really goes away. It's one of the few just plain persistent problems in the series. (Though I'll take this over the Heroes of Might and Magic series' dynamic of positive Morale providing a chance of a second turn while negative Morale provides a chance of missing your turn outright, definitely. Far less ridiculous/frustrating/random)

Interestingly, looking inside the Morale .txt file, there's commented-out code for a mono-Human racial Morale bonus -and also one for Humans and Elves to be able to get a Morale bonus for working with each other!

As far as the actual specifics of what did make it into the game...

-2 Morale from Demonic presence in allies.
-2 Morale from Undead presence in allies.

... like I said, Demons and Undead bug them, and pretty badly too.

Level: 1
Hiring Cost: 10
Leadership: 5
Attack/Defense: 1 / 1
Initiative/Speed: 3 / 2
Health: 5
Damage: 1-2 Physical
Resistances: Generic.
Talents: None
Abilities: Team Spirit (+1 Attack per 30 members, up to a limit of +10 Attack)

Peasants are a fairly generic, weak melee unit, which primarily serve to provide relatively easy enemies to fight. As player units, they're undesirable, as their nature as fragile melee means they tend to rack up expenses via casualties consistently. The annoyance factor of having to periodically run back to buy more should not be underestimated, either. If you're fine with babysitting their casualties via Resurrection, they can be a decent unit, but this is only reliably available to Paladins for much of the game, and is generally going to be inferior to just running a more ranged-heavy army in the first place.

Their primary 'merit' is being a Horde that always generates, and does so early, ensuring that the player always has something to fall back on. Secondary, and related, is that they actually have one of the best Gold-to-Health ratios in the game, making them good Sacrifice fodder, which is convenient for players who care.

Team Spirit gives them the somewhat bizarre quality of being especially terrible in the early game, where you'd expect them to be most viable, as they need 300+ Peasants to have their best per-head damage output. 1500 Leadership is a lot from the perspective of the early game!

Strangely enough, other sites insist Peasants have 3 Speed. I'm not sure why. Maybe people are being thrown by that one early-game Hero who passively boosts the Speed of his Peasants?

Peasants have no real notable synergies or special tactics beyond being good Sacrifice fodder, overall. They are notable for being a low-Level glass cannon, allowing you to use Time Back on them the instant Reaper has Time Back at all, but there's... a lot of better choices for that. Most of the things you can do to help make Peasants useful -such as increasing their Speed- are better served being applied to some other unit, and The Legend is quick to give the player access to a wide variety of shops, so unless you're extraordinarily sloppy with casualties and buy out all the early game troop supplies, the idea of using Peasants as a serious combat unit is just difficult to countenance.

Level: 1
Hiring Cost: 50
Leadership: 20
Attack/Defense: 10 / 6
Initiative/Speed: 4 / 2
Health: 15
Damage: 2-4 Physical
Resistances: Generic.
Talents: Biting Strike (Reload: 1. Strikes one tile away through an empty tile for 2-4 Physical damage), without the enemy having a chance to retaliate, Greed (Charge: 1. Instantly teleports the Robber adjacent to a chosen chest. Does not end the turn or consume AP)
Abilities: Robber (Allied Human units of Level 1-2 that do not have Robber themselves suffer -1 to Morale)

Robbers are... pretty terrible. Their primary useful quality is giving you primacy in acquiring Chests, and there's other ways of doing that. Ultimately the main thing that dooms them is that Snakes exist, as Snakes are, aside the lack of Greed, basically Robbers, only better in literally every way. (Aside Leadership/hiring costs being higher) In particular, a Snake's Lunge will do comparable damage for the Leadership (ignoring that Snakes actually have higher Attack!) while Stunning the target. Robbers might be vaguely worth considering if Humans had a mono-species bonus, but they don't, so Robbers aren't going to be used to get the general unit archetype while getting the mono-species Morale bonus. That's ignoring that Robbers have the Robber Ability, too, which in particular impairs one of the most consistently useful Human units -Bowmen. 

Robbers do have the advantage of having some weird gear/Companion support (Rina raises their Speed and Initiative, Mirabella doubles their Attack, there's Boots that raise their Speed...), but so do Snakes! (Feanora in Frog form doubles Snake Attack, there's Boots that raise their Speed and Initiative...)

Robbers are a trap unit you shouldn't bother with unless you are far more obsessive-compulsive-completionist than I am and will literally die if you miss even a single battlefield chest.

Also, Marauders exist, and are actually vaguely decent.

As enemies, Robbers are annoying, but not terribly threatening. It's easy to forget they can use chests to jump right on top of your forces, and Biting Strike means they're a bit of a pain to actually avoid taking any damage from, and of course it's annoying when they steal a chest from you outright, but their stats are really terrible and they're 2-move melee, which is literally the least threatening thing in the game. (Everything with 1 move has Talents that make up for it)

As far as Spell synergies and the like go, Robbers are actively hurt by such things existing. Why use a middling-Initiative unit that can selectively teleport to Chests when you could use a high Initiative unit and Teleport it to a Chest with a Spell? Or Teleport it anywhere else you like, in fact? That kind of issue.

Level: 2
Hiring Cost: 80
Leadership: 30
Attack/Defense: 12 / 8
Initiative/Speed: 5 / 2
Health: 28
Damage: 3-6 Physical
Resistances: Generic.
Talents: Biting Strike (Reload: 1. Strikes across a free cell for 3-6 Physical damage, with the enemy unable to retaliate), Search (Charges: 2. Targets a corpse the Marauder is standing on, and destroys the corpse. Generates Gold), Running (Charge: 1. +2 Action Points)
Abilities: Robber (Allied Human units of Level 1-2 that do not have Robber themselves suffer -1 to Morale)

While Marauders suffer from the 'Snakes exist' problem as well -their statlines are exceedingly similar, and Marauders actually cost more while having a weaker attacking Talent and less Attack!- they do a much better job of justifying their presence in the army. Search can be a godsend if you're struggling to keep up with your costs (Which is admittedly a bit unlikely, even on Impossible), and Running means Marauders just plain have combat utility Snakes don't.

Now, Royal Snakes tend to cement the difficulties justifying using them, but Marauders are still less bad off than Robbers, and there's literally nothing else in the game with the Search Talent, so Marauders have something to justify using them over literally everything else in the game.

I don't fully understand Search's mechanics, in terms of how it decides how much Gold to give you, and I've also never seen an enemy Marauder use it. The latter point is primarily worth noting because it means that even though you can use Marauders to destroy corpses to prevent enemies from using them (Thorns, Necromancers, etc), you don't have to worry about enemy Marauders doing the same to you. It's an odd, rare case of a unit quality being far more useful in the player's hands than in the enemy's hands.

As enemies Marauders are a lot more annoying than Robbers, primarily thanks to Running making them close so much quicker, and in a manner that's difficult to inconvenience (ie Shock will only reduce their first turn movement from 4 to 3, not 4 to 1), but still not much of a threat. They're 2-move melee with Running, which is ridiculously common and not much more threatening than 2-move melee lacking it. If you have Trap, it's easy to neuter that advantage, too; just set a Trap one tile in front of them and watch them waste 3 AP.

Though while we're looking at the first Running unit in this discussion, it's worth commenting that the AI behaves... oddly, when using Running. This applies to every unit that has it, not just Marauders, but Marauders are also one of the units most affected by this quirk, so hey, it works out. See, when an AI unit uses Running, what it does is take an action as if it hadn't used Running, and then once that's done it uses the two AP from Running. If you're paying attention when playing the game, you'll notice that their information widget actually briefly appears partway through their turn, in fact.

Now, in many situations this doesn't actually matter, such as when the AI is just crossing the battlefield as fast as it can to reach you (Which is what usually is the only thing it does with Running), but it can lead to cases where a unit fails to attack one of your units, or fails to grab a chest, or otherwise fails to move optimally, because it didn't "see" that it could, for example, move 3 tiles and Biting Strike one of your units, and so instead went moving off toward your distant Bowman (The AI likes to run down your ranged attackers) for 2 tiles, stopped for a split-second, saw nothing in range, and advanced another 2 tiles toward the distant Bowman. If you keep this in mind, it can allow you to pull off gambits that really shouldn't work, but due to wonky AI behavior totally do work.

It's not going to be corrected until Warriors of the North, either.

Marauders have no particularly notable synergies or tricks to talk about, or at least not any that really justify using them over eg Royal Snakes or Snakes. They're still less bad off than Robbers.

Level: 2
Hiring Cost: 70
Leadership: 35
Attack/Defense: 10 / 16
Initiative/Speed: 3 / 3
Health: 32
Damage: 4-5 Physical
Resistances: 20% Physical
Talents: Smashing Blow (Requires Training 1. Reload: 2. Melee attack against a single enemy, doing 6-9 Physical damage)
Abilities: Armor (20% Physical resistance)

Swordsmen are your basic Human melee unit. They're better than some of the basic melee options out there, between okay Physical resistance and the fact that you're going to take Training 1 at some point, just because other Skills are behind it, meaning Smashing Blow is an automatic, but overall they're still not the best of choices. The player should generally be endeavoring to use units that can dish out damage without suffering casualties -ranged attackers, No Retaliation attackers, etc- or contribute to the fight via more esoteric Talents, and Swordsmen don't do any of that. They're just a moderately bulky unit that does okay damage in melee. Guardsmen will usually be more useful if you feel the need for a melee meatshield.

As enemies, Swordsmen are mostly notable for being an early-game example of why you should endeavor to have non-Physical attacking options in either your army or your Spell list. 20% Physical resistance means Swordsmen demand 25% more damage when using Physical than when using other options. That's surprisingly meaningful! The fact that they're 3-move melee also means they actually put a fair amount of pressure on the player, since a lot of tools to slow/delay units will be less effective than against the myriad 2-move melee units out there. (eg Ice Arrows)

One of the moderately notable synergies/tricks with Swordsmen is Time Backing them after a Smashing Blow, undoing the casualties and opening the way for another Smashing Blow use. I guess.

Honestly, Swordsmen are pretty eh in general.

Level: 3
Hiring Cost: 120
Leadership: 50
Attack/Defense: 15 / 17
Initiative/Speed: 4 / 3
Health: 45
Damage: 6-8 Physical
Resistances: 20% Physical
Talents: Smashing Blow (Requires Training 1. Reload: 1. Does 9-12 Physical damage to a single adjacent enemy)
Abilities: Armor (20% Physical Resistance), Commander (Friendly Bowmen and Swordsmen +1 Morale)

Yeah, they get Smashing Blow, though the game doesn't mention it in the Skill's description. And they're better with it than Swordsmen, able to use it every other turn instead of every third turn! Also note that The Legend hasn't yet implemented Morale on enemies -so hostile Guardsmen get nothing out of Commander, even if they happen to be hanging with Bowmen/Swordsmen.

Commander is the main reason I said that a melee meatshield is better off being a Guardsman than a Swordsman. Bowmen are useful throughout the game, and you automatically get a Horde of them relatively early into the game, so they're a reliably available ranged unit. As such, Guardsmen boosting them just by existing means they contribute even if they never get a single sword swing in.

As enemies, they're just Swordsmen, but more so. You do basically all the same things you do to deal with Swordsmen, with the caveat that if you've got Level-based solutions (eg Blind, still at Level 1) you might find them not working so well and need to find other answer.

Guardsmen are actually fairly solid units in the early game, and indeed if you're either willing to accept casualties or work to undo them (eg Time Back, Resurrection, etc) they remain solid throughout the game, but they're still held back by being fairly generic melee.

Level: 4
Hiring Cost: 1000
Leadership: 180
Attack/Defense: 27 / 27
Initiative/Speed: 3 / 2
Health: 160
Damage: 14-18 Physical
Resistances: 30% Physical, 30% Fire
Talents: Circle Attack (Requires Training Level 3. Reload: 2. Designates a target to receive retaliation from, and attacks all adjacent enemies with no risk of friendly fire for Physical damage. The game doesn't list its damage value, unfortunately, but you can use manual comparison to see that it's very slightly stronger than the basic attack. 10% or something like that)
Abilities: Steel Armor (30% Physical Resistance), Valor (+1 to the Knight's Morale), Dragon Slayer (30% Fire Resistance and doubled damage against Dragons)

Knights are terrible.

You've got a slow-moving melee unit whose primary quality is being difficult to kill, oh and if you bothered to purchase Training 3 (Why?) they can... do an area of effect attack, assuming you can maneuver their slow butt into place to hit the multiple targets you want to hit? Or you could use something like Sea Dogs that doesn't require support to do the same thing. Yes, theoretically Circle Attack can hit up to 6 units, but most enemy groups only have 5 (or less!) stacks anyway, they'll almost never get into such a perfect circle anyway for myriad reasons, and it's not even that strong of an effect or anything. And you still get retaliated against!

Dragon Slayer seems like it gives them a neat niche against Dragons, but Horsemen fill a similar role without requiring massive support just to be usable.

As enemies, Knights absorb an obnoxious amount of punishment (The combination of Physical resist and Fire resist is very powerful, as most sources of Magic damage are somewhat poor on raw numbers, and most sources of Poison damage have fairly wide damage ranges and/or are fairly poor in performance, making it difficult to actually fight competently while bypassing their resistances), but are fairly trivial to whittle down. Often, you can ignore them outright while you tear apart their allies, and then slow them down and slowly chip them to death with ranged units they never, ever touch. You can literally play Monkey in the Middle with them indefinitely with the right troop types. They're a joke, unless either the enemy has some kind of support for them (eg a Hero with Haste, or a passive boost to their Speed) or you're in a situation where that's not an option. (This generally either means a Keeper fight, a castle fight, or that you're fighting a force so large you probably shouldn't be taking it on in the first place)

Thankfully, later games buff them hugely.

Synergy-wise... well, Teleport is always useful. Or you could field a better unit in the first place.

Okay, to be fair, if you can find a decent source of Knights really early on, Knights can be pretty amazing at stalling enemies without costing you any Gold, and are even a decent target for eg Healing, but past the earliest portions of the game Knights just struggle to justify themselves.

Level: 4
Hiring Cost: 800
Leadership: 180
Attack/Defense: 29 / 25
Initiative/Speed: 6 / 5
Health: 130
Damage: 12-16 Physical
Resistances: 20% Physical, 20% Fire
Talents: None
Abilities: Armor (20% Physical Resistance), Horseman (When attacking, each tile of straight movement prior to impact increases damage by 10% of base), Fire Resistance (20% Fire Resistance)

One of the higher Initiatives in the game, and so fast that they beat out all the competition in their Initiative tier. Their base damage is a little low compared to, say, a Knight, but if they're charging 2 or more tiles they're just plain better. The game also handles a lot of the micromanagement involved for you: if a Horsement is standing adjacent to a target, and you tell them to melee it from their current position, they will if at all possible back away and then come in and ram the target, netting charge bonus. Though beware that they don't pay attention to Traps! It's entirely possible to whoops catch your own Horsemen in a Trap because you didn't think about how they'd move to get the charge bonus.

They also benefit from various Human-supporting elements, including the Warrior's Iron Fist Skill, allowing them to be even better than they are at base. And though it takes until you're late in the game to happen, you're eventually guaranteed a Horde of them, ensuring a stable supply as long as you've got Gold. This makes them a reliable fallback option if other options become essentially untenable. (eg you've burned through the stocks of a unit you want to use that fills a similar role, and either don't have Sacrifice yet or don't feel comfortable trying to Sacrifice them up to snuff, or the unit in question is actually invalid to benefit from Sacrifice)

As enemies, Horsemen are simultaneously exceptionally annoying (Tanking punishment, moving before most of your stuff, crossing the battlefield way too fast, doing decent damage...) and quite gameable with the right tools. They're one of the easiest units to just lock down with Traps, for example, and their behavior is fairly manipulable, as they will tend to try to acquire the highest charge bonus they can get, even if a decision is otherwise sub-optimal. Like the Knight, the combination of Physical and Fire resist, in particular, makes them more durable than they might first seem, as most of the best sources of Spell damage are one or the other. Of course, if you've got high-level Lightning and extremely high Initiative units, such as Ancient Vampires backed by Rina's boosts, they become a lot more manageable...

Synergies-wise, Horsemen obviously get disproportionate utility from Haste, since it can lead into increasing their damage, not simply improving their engagement time. They're also conveniently Level 4, not 5, so if you've got Resurrect at Level 3 they're a good target for getting into the thick of things and then Resurrecting away the deaths. 

Level: 2
Hiring Cost: 100
Leadership: 50
Attack/Defense: 15 / 10
Initiative/Speed: 4 / 2
Health: 28
Damage: 3-4 Physical
Resistances: Generic.
Talents: Ice Arrow (Charge: 1. 3-4 Physical damage at range against a single target, and lowers their Speed by 1 for two turns), Flaming Arrow (Requires Training Level 2. Charge: 1. 4-5 Fire damage at range against a single target, and Burns it)
Abilities: Archer (Range: 6)

Bowmen are the standard by which all other ranged units in the game should be set against. They have the 'generic' range, they have the 'generic' damage type, their movement is the bare minimum decency for a ranged attacker (Enough to move away from an enemy and then shoot, or move closer to then shoot, and no more), and they've got a decent amount of utility from their two Talents. Ice Arrow is an excellent tool for ranged-heavy forces wanting to slow down key melee enemies to pile on the damage before they arrive, and Flaming Arrow gives them useful coverage for helping contribute against Physically resistant units (The ones that aren't also Fire resistant, anyway) as well as of course Fire-vulnerable enemies. They also get propped up by myriad forms of support, including Guardsmen, Dragon Arrows, Bowmen Commander... their biggest problem is their middling Initiative hampers them in a lot of matchups.

As enemies, Bowmen are actually one of the least threatening ranged units in the game. Their low Level makes Blind an option the instant you learn the Spell, they don't get Flaming Arrow to bolster their damage/work around Physical resistance/etc, the AI doesn't get to use Tactics to ensure they have range on their target first turn, they don't have No Melee Penalty... they're relatively durable, admittedly, but there's other units that are better at that. (eg Cyclops) That said, being ranged at all makes them a nuisance that tends to ensure you suffer some casualties, so they're not actually a joke, it's just (most) other ranged units are more unpleasant to face, typically speaking.

Synergies-wise, Bowmen are one of a handful of units that can benefit from Dragon Arrows, which is one of the most ridiculously effective unit support Spells in the entire series. They also benefit from Precision, though keep in mind Precision only affects the basic attack, not Talents (Which includes Dragon Arrows), and of course anything you can do to keep the enemy away from them is always useful. (eg Slow, Trap, etc) They're also one of the units that benefits from Bow Commander, letting you cram even more ranged damage into the same Leadership. There's also a decent pool of items that support bow-wielding units, which Bowmen are one of the few that qualify.

Level: 2
Hiring Cost: 100
Leadership: 50
Attack/Defense: 10 / 10
Initiative/Speed: 4 / 2
Health: 26
Damage: 2-4 Magic
Resistances: 10% Magic
Talents: Healing (Charges: 2. Heals a single organic ally for 10 HP per Priest in the casting stack. Cannot resurrect fallen units), Bless (Reload: 2. Blesses a single target non-Undead ally for 2 turns, or imposes the Holy Shackles penalty on a single Undead enemy, lowering its Attack and Defense)
Abilities: Holy Attack (Range: 6. Doubled damage against Undead with ranged attack), Holiness (No Morale penalty from allied Undead. Additionally, and unmentioned by the game, attempting to use Necromancers or Necro Call to animate hostile Priests as Undead will instead resurrect them as Priests that remain members of their own side), No Melee Penalty

Priests are weird. At the very beginning of the game, Healing can be useful for extending a melee unit's life so you don't suffer casualties, extending your Gold, but the further you go the more prone it is to wasting vast amounts of the theoretical healing. As your Leadership climbs into the hundreds and then thousands, it increasingly becomes a trap to consider using it, especially since some of the highest-Leadership (And thus highest per-head Health) units can't be affected by it in the first place! (eg Black Dragons, Cyclops, Bone Dragons) Bless is more consistently useful, and has the nice advantage that even a badly mauled Priest stack can still contribute noticeably by being teamed up with units with huge damage variance to Bless (Or you can drop it on Undead enemies I guess, but the penalties are fairly small), but it's a bit gimmicky unless things are kind of going pretty badly wrong. Holy Attack combined with Holiness is also an odd choice, thematically, though not one I object to or have a design issue with, just... odd. (I can see our Undead-purging folks as being less freaked out by Undead, but at the same time it seems like they'd be less tolerant from their anger) This isn't some isolated bit of design, either, as it shows up repeatedly in the plot (eg your tutorial fight against a 'necromancer' is actually against a priest) and also is an aspect to how the Paladin class is designed. It makes me wonder if there's some cultural something I'm missing, or what.


Do note that Priests have fairly comparable stats to Bowmen. If you're fighting Undead, Priests are very nearly just plain better than Bowmen, and even if you're not fighting Undead they just have a lower low roll and admittedly 5 less Attack. (About 15% less damage, unless I'm botching my math) The fact that they do Magic damage also means in a lot of matchups resistance effects will favor Priests, as mild Physical resistance is fairly widespread. The utility of Ice Arrow and Flaming Arrow is not to be underestimated, mind, but Priests have their own utility effects, aren't crippled just because something is in melee with them, and have their own support that may make them more relevant to your particular run or at a particular time. (eg they benefit from the Archmage Skill, making it easier for a Mage to field heaps of them) Though also keep in mind that while they have No Melee Penalty, their damage bonus against Undead only applies to their ranged attack. Against Undead, you don't want them fighting in melee. And of course Magic damage is bad in Keeper fights if you're expecting your units to actually contribute against the Gremlins per se.

As enemies, Priests are... still weird. They have the potential to be moderately aggravating, but they're fairly prone to wasting their time Healing units for 7% of their potential Healing, or Blessing a stack that's so much smaller than them they'd ensure higher damage output by taking a shot themselves, and in particular even though they have No Melee Penalty if you can get them pinned by a melee unit their AI will often be driven even more toward wasting Healing/Blessing uses, presumably to get something done without provoking a retaliation. When their AI isn't being wasteful, though, the whole 'decent ranged Magic damage' thing makes it difficult to minimize casualties when fighting them.

Their weird interaction with Necromancy is unmentioned by the game and it's easy to go through the game repeatedly and have no idea it's an interaction that exists. To be clear, you can totally Necro Call your own Priests, and in fact they actually can arise as some pretty decent units. It's only a punishment for trying to use Necro Call on enemy ones.

As an aside, it's worth comment that Bless-the-Talent is completely indistinguishable from Bless-the-Spell, up to and including that Priests can't Bless Black Dragons or other Spell-immune units. This crops up erratically with unit Talents, where some of them clearly parallel a Spell and are in fact mechanically identical to it, while others also clearly parallel a Spell but aren't mechanically indistinguishable from said Spell. (Imps and Scoffer Imps, over on Demons, can hurl Fireballs which behave much the same as the Spell Fireball, but will actually work on Spell-immune targets) There's no real pattern that I can tell, and I'm not going to exhaustively test every case, so that's going to be a bit of incompleteness in my posts.

Level: 3
Hiring Cost: 300
Leadership: 100
Attack/Defense: 16 / 16
Initiative/Speed: 5 / 2
Health: 50
Damage: 5-7 Magic
Resistances: 10% Magic
Talents: Resurrection (Charge: 1. 7 HP of healing to a single organic non-Demon/non-Undead ally: 'overflow' healing will undo casualties that occurred in this battle), Holy Anger (Reload: 1. Targets a single ally, giving them the 'Holy Anger' buff and Blessing them, and giving the player 5-10 Rage if its a player-owned Inquisitor. Some units can't get the Holy Anger buff, but will still be Blessed if targeted. The Holy Anger buff increases damage against Undead by 50%. If aimed at hostile Undead, imposes Holy Shackles on them, while still providing Rage to the player)
Abilities: Holy Attack (Range: 7. Doubled damage against Undead with the ranged attack), Holiness (No Morale penalty from allied Undead. Additionally, and unmentioned by the game, attempting to use Necromancers or Necro Call to animate hostile Inquisitors as Undead will instead resurrect them as Inquisitors that remain members of their own side), No Melee Penalty (Full damage in melee)

The Priest's bigger, better version. Their Leadership-to-damage efficiency is slightly worse if you ignore their higher Attack, and Resurrection restores less HP per head than Healing does, but that latter point fairly rapidly stops mattering. Holy Anger is also completely unique (Among units) as a way to just arbitrarily generate Rage from nothing at no risk with no regard for the usual calculations. Normally Rage generation is scaled to your max Rage and influenced by your army's Leadership total compared against the enemies' Leadership total (Being outnumbered leads to more Rage), but Holy Anger just flatly generates a random number from 5 to 10, done. (Nor, for that matter, is it affected the Inquisitor's stack size, making it a useful way to contribute with a stack that's suffered severe casualties. While throwing in Bless!) This means it's most useful toward the beginning of the game, in terms of Rage generation, and indeed can be used to basically break the Rage economy's assumptions. As your Rage max climbs it gets less and less relevant, especially since Rage costs overall tend to climb too, not to mention Rage itself drops off in its utility, but if you've got early Inquisitor access they can be quite amazing right after you've gotten the Chest of Rage.

As enemies they're less interesting. They're particularly annoying if you're fielding Undead yourself, compared to Priests, and the ability to resurrect troops is a lot more effective than Priests' Healing past the very early game, but they're still not very smart about how they use their Talents, and they actually tend to have worse damage generation than Priests if you see them in the same battle group, due to usually having much smaller stacks. (Even though they're only twice the Leadership of Priests, it's more typical for Inquisitor stacks to be a third the size of Priest stacks if they show up together, not half the size. I have no idea why)

Synergies-wise, Inquisitors are one of the better units to use Gift on, and of course they benefit from the Archmage Skill. There's... not a lot else that leaps to mind, honestly, but they're plenty solid units.

Level: 4
Hiring Cost: 900
Leadership: 200
Attack/Defense: 20 / 24
Initiative/Speed: 5 / 2
Health: 90
Damage: 5-7 Magic/Physical
Resistances: 50% Magic
Talents: Magic Shield (Reload: 1. A single target friendly unit takes halved damage for 3 turns), Fighting Trance (Reload: 2. Claims to raise the Archmage's Attack and lower their Defense, but from what I can tell it actually doubles their base damage, though the Defense cutting seems about accurate. Also raises the chance to Shock and raises crit chance, but disables access to the Archmage's Talents for the two-turn duration. Doesn't end their turn or consume AP), Telekinesis (Charge: 1. Moves a single unit, friend or foe, into an unoccupied tile adjacent to their current position. Doesn't work on objects such as Gremlins)
Abilities: Lightning (Range: Infinite? Has a chance to Shock the target), Magic Protection (50% Magic Resistance), Immunity to Mind Spells (Exactly what it says on the tin)

I've never actually seen an Archmage suffer a range penalty, but it's possible they just have a really high range and most battlefields are small enough that it's effectively infinite. Usually when a video game claims a unit has 'infinite' range, it's really just coded with some very high value, which is not expected to crop up in real play but depending on the game may be able to in actuality.

The Archmage is the first of several units with mixed Physical/Magical damage with a ranged attack. In all such cases, the unit does Magic damage at range and Physical damage in melee. And yes, I know Archmages are animated as zapping things with their staff when in melee. It's still Physical damage. That can Shock targets. Don't think too hard about it.

Archmages themselves are simultaneously really useful and really kind of underwhelming. Notice how they have the same Damage as Inquisitors while having twice the Leadership, albeit also 4 more Attack. They're wholly reliant on Fighting Trance to stay competitive on damage (And then they don't get a damage bonus against the Undead or the like, so they just plain lose when it comes to damage in that situation), which is a bit problematic since using it blocks them off from their other Talents, which are very useful and the primary point of taking an Archmage over Priests or Inquisitors. (That is, if you just want ranged magical damage and possibly care about it being Human, Priests and Inquisitors tend to be the more sensible choice) Not even touching on how they cost 3 times the Gold!

They're also painfully fragile. If you get a hold of them really early, they seem/are very tough, since if you've got basically exactly 200 Leadership an Archmage will last nearly twice as long (About as, accounting for the Defense advantage) as two Inquisitors before costing you any Gold, but they're really quite poor on durability once you get into the game proper, especially since Fighting Trance slashes their Defense. (And this is the final Defense number, not their base Defense, so it actually hurts them more and more as you get further into the game!) This really hurts them when you're fighting ranged-heavy forces, which will often rip out surprisingly large chunks out of them, and if you're facing an enemy Hero who likes to use damaging spells their really poor HP is just agonizing.

That said, against melee forces they can be quite amazing, thanks to Shock crippling enemy melee a good chunk of the time as an incidental part of attacking enemies. Just keep in mind that the way the game depicts Shock is a bit misleading -if you Shock a unit whose turn hasn't ended yet, the information the game relays is entirely truthful. If you Shock a unit whose turn has ended, however, only the Initiative penalty is accurate. They won't be missing any AP when their turn rolls around. This can be a nasty, confusing surprise, and means Archmages also struggle to justify themselves against melee-heavy armies if those melee armies have lots of fast, high-Initiative units. (eg Horsemen, which otherwise seem like a matchup that Archmages contribute a lot against) 5 Initiative is good, but anything with 5 Initiative and more Speed or more Initiative will rarely give you an opportunity to really benefit from Shocking them.

You can still use Telekinesis and Magic Shield, of course, but Magic Shield is an effect that good play ideally avoids using (by virtue of not being in a position to need its protection in the first place) while Telekinesis is really optimal against units with low Speed... and while Speed and Initiative aren't the same stat like they were back in Ye Olde Heroes Of Might And Magic, The Legend tends to correlate them roughly anyway. So you end up with this annoying thing where a lot of the fastest enemies you most want to Shock will go before the Archmage and there's no point, while the slow enemies Telekinesis is kind of justifiable to use to slow them down are perfectly possible to fish for Shocks against. It tends to make the most sense to Fighting Trance, attack twice, and then use Telekinesis during the turn you're waiting for Fighting Trance to finish reloading in, if you're going to use Telekinesis at all.

Telekinesis does have a lot of weird gimmicky uses you can put it to, mind, such as dragging an enemy into a Trap, or dragging Lina's Ice Ball into a better position to slam something for massive damage, but it's somewhat limited by its nature as a Charge-based Talent. Alas.

As enemies, Archmages are annoying, but not really that big of a deal. They never mess around with Telekinesis, and when they're using Magic Shield, they're not very intelligent about its targeting, frequently wasting it on stacks that aren't even anywhere near your forces while the stacks in immediate danger get no protection. Their most notable quirks are not having to worry about range penalties (It's easy to arrange for enemies to suffer range penalties while avoiding them yourself on the first turn, so range penalties tend to hurt enemies more than the player) and the chance for Shock to completely randomly screw up your carefully considered plans. Their low Health is also a lot more noticeable as an enemy than as an ally, since you've got Spells and Rage attacks that don't care about their decent base Defense, only paying attention to their poor Health and Magic resist. (So don't use Lightning on them, basically)


Human armies are a bit odd, in that as a faction they're basically Bad Neutral, because an all-Human army doesn't a Morale bonus but unlike Neutrals they suffer Morale penalties when fielded alongside Undead and Demons, as well Priests, Bowmen, Swordsmen, and Peasants suffering penalties for being in with Robbers or Marauders. The game tries to encourage mono-Human armies through skills and equipment providing Leadership cost reduction and so on, as well as the game guaranteeing several Hordes, but overall Human units are also fairly lacking as individuals. Horsemen, Bowmen, Inquisitors (And to a lesser extent Priests), and Archmages are their only really solid units, and of those only Bowmen and Horsemen are broadly, consistently effective/useful.

Unlike the other races, I'm also not entirely clear what Human armies are supposed to be about. The closest thing to a consistent theme is that Human forces include a lot of difficult-to-kill units, tools to make them even harder to kill (eg the Archmage's Magic Shield), and even Resurrection to undo casualties, a combination not found on any of the other races, and I'm not entirely sure it's an intentional pattern. It also doesn't lend itself to a coherent strategy, and yet Humans aren't a 'jack-of-all-trades' race particularly.

In practice, if you're not drowning in Human-supporting gear or perhaps committing to taking full advantage of Iron Fist, you'll tend to take one or two Human units to fulfill some role or another and ignore the rest of them.

They get more coherent as the games progress, thankfully... which genuinely surprises me, as 'generic humans who are unclear in what they're about' is a common design problem in games, and normally it tends to not get better or even get worse as sequels get made and all!


Next time, we cover Dwarves.

It's a much shorter post, I promise.


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