King's Bounty Unit Analysis Extra: Gremlins



Gremlin Towers are odd units all-around, with lots of special-casing effects, so many I'm quite certain I'm not actually aware of the full list. The game also doesn't provide much information when you right click on them, just their current and max HP, which makes it even more of a pain to figure this stuff out, which is further compounded by how they don't actually have rigid stats in the first place. In addition to the obvious HP variability, their Initiative varies (And annoyingly even if you use Alt to activate the turn order display it won't include them for calculating turn order, not even by having a conspicuous gap in the turn order on the regular units), the Evil Gremlin's damage on their retaliation varies, and the strength of their spells vary, both in terms of the Spell's actual Level and also in terms of the Intellect-style boost they get.

That said, I'm fairly sure their Magic resistance is 95%, or maybe just 90%, and they have 50% Poison resistance, with no protection against Fire or Physical. Their HP seems to be derived by totaling up the HP of the non-Gremlin units and then splitting the resulting number up among the Gremlins -if you have two Gremlin battlegroups with similar unit types and numbers, but one has 3 Gremlins and the other 5, the 5 Gremlins will have less HP than the 3 Gremlins. This also means fragile units lead to fragile Gremlins. (Ironically, this means fights against higher-end units often have relatively easily-killed Gremlins) Additionally, Friendly Gremlins always have higher Initiative than Evil Gremlims -I think it's 3 higher, but I'm not 100% sure on that. It's a consistent, specific number, anyway, not a percentage advantage or something of the sort.

Evil Gremlins are fairly straightforward. They're basically a player-type caster, only trapped within turn order like a unit but ignoring Mana. The only caveat to this is that their counter-attack, though it appears to be a Lightning Spell, is actually a weak Magic damage attack with no special effects. (ie it won't bounce or Shock enemies, and on the flipside it can hurt Black Dragons, albeit only barely since it's weak and they're so resistant to the Magic damage type) Their Spell list is primarily aggressively oriented, aside from inexplicably having Divine Armor mixed in. (I guess to ensure they can do something, even if you do something gimmicky like only bring a Black Dragon stack?) The rest of it is Doom, Sheep, Lightning, Fireball, and Pygmy. For whatever reason, they're a lot more aggressive about using Fireball in The Legend than in later games. Also note that they're strangely prone to Dooming and then Sheeping a unit -since Sheep clears all other buffs and debuffs, this wastes the Doom. So depending on AI silliness, you can end up with 4 Evil Gremlins accomplishing no more than 2 could do. This can even be exploited deliberately, such as by having Royal Thorns generate Thorn Hunters/Warriors, which surprisingly will often distract the Evil Gremlins into the Doom+Sheep wastefulness, instead of dropping Fireballs on the pair like you might expect. (Assuming you don't have other units clumped nearby: Fireball-slinging is far more likely when you have 3 or more units close enough to all be caught by a Fireball)

Friendly Gremlins are a bit odder. Firstly, their counter-'attack' is a non-damaging push, comparable to the Archmage's Telekinesis. This is mostly significant due to their second oddity: in addition to a proper Spell list, they can generate additional copies of any stack their team started the battle with, directly adjacent to themselves. They actually have to have a free space for this: if you block off all the tiles adjacent to them, they'll be unable to summon new stacks. From what I can tell, these stacks are roughly 10% of the size of the biggest stack of that type the battle began with, with a minimum of 1. (I'm not sure if it rounds up or down, but I do know that really small stacks, such as single Black Dragons, lead to 1-unit stacks being summoned) Their proper Spell list is mostly oriented toward supporting their allies: they can cast Resurrect, Haste, and the atypically aggressive Slow spell.

In both cases they level all their spells simultaneously, and as far as I'm aware the Friendly and Evil Gremlins are always at the same level, so if a Friendly Gremlin tosses out mass Haste then the Evil Gremlims can Sheep nearly anything below Level 5. This also means Keeper fights have a very uneven difficulty curve -you can have two fights, one of which is maybe 20% more units, but which is vastly more difficult because the Gremlins have leveled their spells.

That said, Evil Gremlins are affected more by this overall, as Friendly Gremlins summoning new stacks is not affected by their spell level and Friendly Gremlins are quite fond of summoning stacks. I personally tend to prioritize Evil Gremlins in general, but this fact makes it even more true the higher the spell level of the Gremlins is.

Some oddities of Gremlins as a whole:

-You can't Fly over a Gremlin Tower as long as the unit lives. This is one of their more bizarre quirks, as no unit or battlefield object shares it. It usually doesn't even matter, but there's edge cases where it can cause problems for you. Lina's Gizmo is perfectly able to hover over them, surprisingly... which is frustrating, because it quite obviously does Magic damage, and is perfectly happy to waste one of its attacks on a Gremlin Tower.

-Gremlin Towers are immune to almost all buffs and debuffs... but can be Poisoned and Burned. I don't really get that one, and their susceptibility to Poisoning and Burning goes away in later games. Not that it matters right now, since Poisoning and Burn do so little damage. The immunity to buffs/debuffs has a bunch of implications, like being impossible to take control of them.

-Gremlin Towers are in many ways considered to be battlefield objects. This includes that Siege Guns provides a damage bonus against them (And honestly this is the only reason that Ability even really matters) and also means that a number of effects you might hope to use on them don't work. (eg Soul Draining and Rage Draining can't affect them) 

-It's completely impossible to move a Gremlin Tower. You can't use Infernal Exchange on them, and effects like Cyclops' Push Talent or Emerald Green Dragon's Target Capture Talent will either not allow you to target them in the first place or will fail to move them while inflicting damage. (This probably ties back into the battlefield object point, admittedly, but is worth separate commentary regardless)

-Attacking Gremlin Towers does not generate Rage. (This is only true in The Legend: in later games, Rage absolutely is generated by attacking them, making them much less biased away from the Rage-specialized class)

-Generally speaking, effects that can target Gremlin Towers will prioritize them outright. The Geyser Spell, for example, will only ever hit non-Gremlin units if it's generating more geysers than there are Gremlin Towers currently on the battlefield. As alluded to earlier, Lina's Gizmo likes to prioritize them, even though its damage is awful against them. That kind of thing. It's not some absolute rule, but it's widespread enough that it makes for a good rule of thumb if you don't already know for a specific case.

-Gremlin Towers don't interact with Action Points. You can't steal them to cause them to skip a turn, or reduce their Speed to delay their turn order. Indeed, you can't effect their Initiative/turn position in any way: all the Evil Gremlin Towers will always go back to back, and all the Friendly Gremlin Towers will always go back to back. There's no way to cause a Gremlin Tower to act earlier or later than the rest of its kind of Gremlin Tower. (Obvious example: you can see Shock being inflicted, but it won't do anything) By a similar token, they can't Wait or Defend; if they can't do anything when their turn rolls around, they do nothing. (eg a Friendly Gremlin Tower you block in, with all your units being immune to Spells and no regular units on the enemy's team... it won't summon in new allies if partway through the turn after its original turn opportunity, you move units so it has space available)

-Nonetheless, they seem to be treated by the game as having the default Speed value of 2. (As we'll see later, this gets used on Ice Orbs even though they don't use Speed for any purpose except turn order calculation. I'm fairly sure 2 Speed really is just the game's default value, if nothing was specifically entered) This matters for turn calculation reasons (Two units in the same Initiative tier may have one go ahead of the Gremlins because it's Speed 3 while the other goes after them because it's slower), but also crops up for certain specific interaction cases. (eg Orcs on the March Veteran Orcs get an Ability that prevents retaliations if their Speed is higher than the target's. They need 3 or more Speed to not be retaliated by Gremlins)

-Gremlin Towers do have some kind of Defense stat, but as far as I can tell it doesn't scale. Similarly, Evil Gremlins definitely have an Attack stat, but it also doesn't seem to scale. Only their Health and their Spell power scales. (And maybe also Evil Gremlin retaliation strength: I haven't really paid attention because good play usually involves either not provoking the retaliation in the first place or doing so with units that are heavily resistant to Magic damage and so shrug off the attack so thoroughly its base strength barely matters)

-Gremlin Towers are, for certain purposes, considered hostile to everybody: if an enemy Sea Dog uses Fury Attack with a Gremlin Tower within the strike zone, they'll hit it. If a Cerberus attacks one of your units with a Gremlin Tower in their strike zone, they'll hit it. Even though in both cases they don't have friendly fire! This isn't super-exploitable for the moment, but it's worth keeping in mind when it can crop up. (ie it can be a good idea to move a unit adjacent to a Gremlin Tower if you expect the enemy to target them with splash damage, even if said splash damage doesn't affect allies)

-Some Talents just can't target Gremlin Towers for no obvious reason. (The one I remember off the top of my head is actually an Armored Princess-onward example: Executioners can't Execute Gremlin Towers. This is just a regular attack, slightly stronger than usual, with special benefits if it finishes off the stack, so it's pretty weird)

-Gremlin Towers don't intersect with racial/factional stuff at all. This mostly doesn't matter in The Legend, but in later games you can see stuff like a Keeper fight where Elven forces are getting a mono-racial bonus even though there's Gremlin Towers still standing.

-As far as I can tell, Gremlin Towers seem to be treated as if their Level and Leadership is whatever makes them 'win' an interaction. Effects that fail on Level 5 units will fail on them (Even if an equivalent effect that works no matter Level does work on them), yet effects that target Level 5 units won't apply to them. (eg in later games Furious Goblins get bonus damage against Level 5 units) I'm... less certain of the Leadership point, as I'm not sure there's a case where Leadership is a factor that isn't being overruled by some other consideration (eg in Warriors of the North, Warrior Maidens won't be retaliated if the target's Leadership is low enough... and its Level is low enough. They always get retaliated by Gremlins, but this may well just be the Level favorability thing. Similarly, a lot of effects that are capped by Leadership, such as Mind Control/Charm/Magic Shackles, couldn't be applied to them regardless of what their Leadership is treated as), but I suspect it's true and that I'm just not remembering an example of it cropping up.

Not-technically-Gremlins is the point that Keeper fights are abnormal in general. Diplomacy can't trigger on a Keeper fight, for example, and this kind of pre-battle effect becomes more common in later games, with almost all of them being barred from applying in a Keeper fight. This means Keeper fights have an additional layer of difficulty, above and beyond the presence of Gremlins, which can have a pronounced impact if you're used to leaning on such effects.

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I'm not gong to be covering Gremlins in the later games. I've not noticed any actual changes in their mechanics (They don't modify their Spell lists, for example), and to a larger extent whatever differences are of relevance will tend to crop up in talking about other units and the like. (ie the Trapper Medal can't trigger in Keeper fights, but I'll be explicitly covering that when covering the Medal itself. Though I suppose that brings up an example that wouldn't crop up normally in my analysis itself: the Trap Item also can't trigger in a Keeper fight)

The only particularly significant point worth noting is that when Ice damage shows up, it's not resisted by Gremlins at all, just like Physical, Fire, and Astral damage. This is most significant for the fact that a few Magic damage units switch to Ice damage, abruptly spiking their effectiveness in Keeper fights.

Next time, we get started on Spell analysis, starting with Chaos Magic.

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