Warriors of the North Unit Analysis Part 2: Humans

Arguably it would make more sense to do Undead next, with how Warriors of the North organizes things, but eh. Humans second.

So, Humans.

First of all, their unique special trait has changed into something much better!

Personal Enemy
The first unit this unit attacks becomes the favorite enemy of all units of this type. When attacking its favorite enemy, this unit does 15% more damage

If you're not reading too carefully: now when you do damage, you designate your Favorite Personal Enemy, instead of when you take damage. This gives the player far more control over it in their own forces, and in particular makes it much more consistently useful for ranged attackers.

Secondly, they've picked up another unique special trait.

When performing an attack on the enemy, the unit has a base 10% chance to raise their Initiative by 1 for 2 turns. This chance is modified by 1% for each step away from base Morale (eg +2 Morale is a 12% chance, -1 Morale is a 9% chance), and if the attack finishes off a stack it's another 3% higher.

It's... uh... existent.

It's also content lifted from Red Sands, though I'm not sure why it was liked enough to be taken from Red Sands. It's... really ignorable, even aside from how it's horribly unreliable.

Personal Enemy is still going to tend to be drowned out by damage variance in practice, but it's at least now a thing you can kind of plan around without being essentially deliberately stupid.

... this is all specific to Ice and Fire, actually. In the base game, they get neither of these abilities, and instead they all have...

The more often the Hero has fought in any particular class of arena, the more of a percentage boost the unit gains for fighting in the same category of arena.

... this.

From experience, the boost seems to cap at 50%, though I haven't code-dived or experimented extensively enough to be fully confident this is true. It may simply be that I've contrived to never check the Ability while having any given terrain boost above 50%. That seems unlikely to me, but don't just take me at my word on this point.

It's... an interesting idea, but I'm perfectly happy to see Ice and Fire dump it. I'm not sure Personal Enemy and Morale are really an improvement over Adaptable, but Adaptable itself is a boring stat boost that's only interesting inasmuch as you might consider swapping to and from Humans based on how much you've fought in a class of arena -that for example Volcanic is one of the categories and more or less exclusively means Demonis, so you might elect to lead the charge with non-Human forces and switch over to Humans once the boost is big enough.

Adaptable is also kind of annoying in that it goes off of unit base stats and so has a much more pronounced effect on more elite units with better base stats, when it's already been a recurring problem in the King's Bounty games that Human forces in particular have a marked trend toward their most worthwhile stuff being their high-Level, high-stat stuff. (Bowmen and to a lesser extent Priests have always been notable exceptions, but still) Peasants, for example, get nearly no benefit out of Adaptable, while Knights can achieve kind of absurd levels of durability, when it's already always been the case that if you were going to use either for anything other than Sacrifice shenanigans you were going to be using Knights. So... seriously, I'm fine with Ice and Fire replacing it.

Morale-wise, Humans now have a mono-species bonus, not just one sitting commented-out in the code! That right there makes them that little bit more appealing. In terms of racial relations, they work out as...

-2 Morale from Demonic presence in allies.
-3 Morale from Undead presence in allies.
-3 Morale from Undead Lizardmen presence in allies.

... pretty much the same as always, except the hostility is higher than ever. The spike in Undead hostility, in particular, makes it a lot more noticeable that they have a decent pool of Tolerant units.

Level: 1
Hiring Cost: 10
Leadership: 5
Attack/Defense: 1 / 1
Initiative/Speed: 3 / 2
Health: 6
Damage: 1-2 Physical
Resistances: Generic.
Talents: None
Abilities: Team Spirit (+1 Attack for every 30 Peasants to a max of +30), Weed Killer (Doubled damage against Plants), Morale, Personal Enemy.

Other than Personal Enemy having been overhauled and Morale spread about, they're the same as Armored Princess.

In practical terms, they're even less likely to see use than ever before because where in The Legend and Armored Princess they were one of your initial, consistently-available units, in Warriors of the North they're not available until around a third of the way into the game. By the time you've got access to them, you've also got access to tons of better options. Alas.

Not much to say beyond that.

Level: 1
Hiring Cost: 50
Leadership: 20
Attack/Defense: 10 / 6
Initiative/Speed: 4 / 2
Health: 20
Damage: 2-4 Physical
Resistances: Generic.
Talents: Swift Stroke (Reload: 1. Attacks across an empty tile for 3-4 Physical damage, with no risk of retaliation), Greed (Charge: 1. Instantly teleports the Robber adjacent to a chosen chest. Does not end the turn or consume AP)
Abilities: Robber (Allied Humans of Level 1-2 that lack Robber suffer -1 to Morale), Light Steps (Takes halved damage from Traps), Greedy (+10 to Morale for the rest of the battle after finishing off an enemy stack), Personal Enemy, Morale

They've picked up a bunch of neat Abilities (Though admittedly Greedy is just an explication of the Anticipating Trophies feature in Armored Princess, rather than a new trait), including the actual Human racial advantages! Additionally, Swift Stroke's minimum damage has gone up by 1.

Light Steps is actually a really irritating Ability, making Robbers a pain to use for Trapper progress but outside of that not really mattering. Enemy Heroes don't really use Trap, and there's not really any reason why you'd willingly move your Robbers into your Trapper Traps just because they happen to have Light Steps. I'd personally have preferred outright immunity to Traps, since while that would still be a bit biased toward the AI getting use out of it the player could still benefit from it in a meaningful way. Not to mention halved damage doesn't do away with Traps prematurely ending a unit's turn. I don't miss Light Steps when it vanishes in Dark Side.

Outside of Robbers being annoying to take out with Traps, though, they play broadly similarly to Armored Princess, just a bit more competent overall. Albeit suffering even more from the 'just use snakes' issue.

One mildly surprising qualifier: though Treasure Searcher is gone, the gold pile produced by Christa's Gift actually counts as a chest for several purposes, including Greed. This actually makes Greed more interesting and useful a quality on both ends. Player-controlled Robbers get a freely-placeable teleport point to take advantage of, where Treasure Searcher required the game conveniently placed a chest point somewhere useful to you, while hostile Robbers can be manipulated in a player-useful way more freely: a Robber stack getting uncomfortably close to your forces can potentially be baited into teleporting back to the enemy side of the battlefield, with this being more reliable an option than with Treasure Searcher and also being guaranteed to result in them eating a bunch of damage and missing their turn if they give into Greed. (As opposed to losing a turn and denying you a potentially really good piece of loot, like a Talent Rune or Spell scroll)

As such, if you're wanting to give Robbers a real chance, Warriors of the North is probably their high point, even considering Warriors of the North lacks a crime-supporting Companion. Among other points, Bloodlust is available to every class, making it very feasible in the late game to open a battle by dropping a teleport point for your Robbers, no need to dish out damage first.

Level: 2
Hiring Cost: 80
Leadership: 30
Attack/Defense: 12 / 8
Initiative/Speed: 6 / 2
Health: 30
Damage: 3-6 Physical
Resistances: Generic.
Talents: Swift Stroke (Reload: 1. Attacks across an empty tile for 3-6 Physical damage, with no risk of retaliation), Search (Charges: 2. Destroys a corpse the Marauder is standing on, and gives the owner Gold), Running (Charge: 1. +2 Action Points)
Abilities: Robber (Allied Humans of Level 1-2 that lack Robber suffer -1 to Morale), Light Steps (Takes halved damage from Traps), Greedy (+10 to Morale for the rest of the battle after finishing off an enemy stack), Personal Enemy, Morale

As with Robbers, they've picked up a bunch of new Abilities. Unlike with Robbers, that's, uh, it.

Light Steps being sort of dumb is even more obvious on Marauders because their access to Running makes them a natural target to badly impinge with a Trap and while it's annoying that they don't take as much damage as they should it doesn't really change anything in how you play. Except make it more annoying to try to finish them off for Trapper progress.

Overall, Marauders are even less appealing in practice than ever before. There's no Jimmy Craud-equivalent to help them edge out the snake family, and with fewer equipment slots to work with it can be harder to justify wearing Jackboots or the like, such as if you find the Boots that boost Gold from battles by 20%. Instead of wearing them alongside Jackboots, you'll replace the Jackboots with them, most likely. And unlike Robbers, Marauders don't really have a qualifier there.

Level: 2
Hiring Cost: 70
Leadership: 35
Attack/Defense: 10 / 16
Initiative/Speed: 3 / 3
Health: 35
Damage: 4-5 Physical
Resistances: 20% Physical
Talents: Smashing Blow (Reload: 2. 6-10 Physical damage melee attack)
Abilities: Armored (20% Physical resistance), Prudence (Once 30% of the stack has died, the stack has a 30% chance to evade when attacked), Personal Enemy, Morale

No change aside from gaining Morale and of course Personal Enemy being reworked.

That's basically fine, as while I'm not personally a fan of Swordsmen their design, gameplay-wise, isn't actually bad. They're just hurt by the King's Bounty series being hostile to basic melee units.

They're also a lot less annoying in practice since Rage in Warriors of the North is overall even stronger than in Armored Princess, which is nice.

Of course, with access to them pushed further back into the game, you're actually notably less likely to use them than in prior games...

Level: 3
Hiring Cost: 120
Leadership: 50
Attack/Defense: 15 / 17
Initiative/Speed: 4 / 3
Health: 50
Damage: 6-8 Physical
Resistances: 20% Physical
Talents: Smashing Blow (Reload: 1. Melee attacks a single enemy for 9-12 Physical damage per Guardsman)
Abilities: Armored (20% Physical resistance), Commander (+1 Morale for allied Swordsmen and Bowmen), Prudence (Once 30% of the stack has died, the stack has a 30% chance to evade when attacked), Personal Enemy, Morale

No change aside from Personal Enemy and Morale stuff.

Same basic observations as with Swordsmen. 

Level: 4
Hiring Cost: 1000
Leadership: 160
Attack/Defense: 27 / 27
Initiative/Speed: 5 / 2
Health: 160
Damage: 16-18 Physical
Resistances: 30% Physical, 30% Fire
Talents: Circle Attack (Reload: 2. A Physical melee attack that also strikes all enemies around the Knight for 15-20 damage. The 'target' unit retaliates, if possible)
Abilities: Steel Armor (30% Physical), Valor (+1 Morale), Dragon Slayer (30% Fire resist, and doubled damage against Dragons), Mastery (Defense increases by 30% of base every time the Knight takes damage, to a maximum of 90% more than base), Personal Enemy, Morale

Just the Personal Enemy/Morale stuff.

Knights are in real terms probably a bit worse off than in Armored Princess, due to Ice damage being added and Freeze being made much more widespread and now doing percentile Ice damage. It's easier to work around their previously-solid pair of resistances, and as a 2-Speed melee unit Freezing them for the Speed reduction is just obviously a desirable thing to do even before considering the fact that it inflicts damage over time they don't resist.

This doesn't extend so much into their performance in player hands -AI Knights have to suffer from the fact that ultimately multiple Rage attacks have a 75% chance of inflicting Freeze- but they are still hurt a bit overall by this point.

Knights are also slightly less unappealing in Warriors of the North primarily by virtue of Paladins being less consistently available than in Armored Princess, significantly reducing the 'just use Paladins' problem. So that's something.

Also, while we're on the topic of a unit with a significant area of effect attack: one kind of frustrating thing about Ice and Fire's experience system is that the experience cap is not, say, per target, it's per action. If you Teleport a Knight into 6 enemies and kill them all with one Circle Attack, the Knight will be getting a sixth of the experience they would've gotten for stabbing each enemy individually. It's not like Ice and Fire makes an effort to ensure units all gain experience at broadly similar rates; units with Talents like Second Wind that target a specific ally and can be used without ending the user's turn are pretty much doubling a unit's potential experience gain rate, units with Furious will gain experience every time something hits them in melee as opposed to only on the first attack, Gorguls and Gorguanas having Bloodlust means they can gain crazy amounts of experience in a turn because they make each kill as an individual action... so it's just frustrating how area-of-effect attacks are essentially punished by experience mechanics. Arguably double-punished when you consider that other units could've been getting the experience.

Admittedly pretty much any experience model would have its problems, but the experience capping mechanic's handling is just incredibly frustrating, particularly since it also basically punishes competent play in general: since the number of times a unit takes an action is the primary metric for experience gain, battles dragging out is desirable as far as experience gain goes, with Berserker-the-Skill triggers, critical hits, and anything else that gets a battle done quicker and safer actually de-facto costing your units experience!

Level: 4
Hiring Cost: 1100
Leadership: 180
Attack/Defense: 29 / 25
Initiative/Speed: 7 / 5
Health: 150
Damage: 14-18 Physical
Resistances: 20% Physical, 20% Fire
Talents: None
Abilities: Armor (20% Physical resistance), Horseman (+10% of base damage per tile traveled in a straight line when initiating an attack), Fire Resistance (20% Fire resistance), Personal Enemy, Morale

No changes, aside from the Personal Enemy/Morale stuff.

Ice damage being a thing is not ideal for them of course, but they don't mind being Frozen nearly as much as Knights do and Horseman have always been more about their offensive presence than about durability. They're a bit easier to kill than in prior games in real terms, but not by a ton, even considering Rune Chain is a strong source of Magic damage.

They're also not as impacted by Human accessibility changes as most Human units -Horsemen have always tended to be made available later than the rest of your Human forces. You get them maybe a little bit later than in Armored Princess, but not a lot later.

So overall, not that different from Armored Princess in practice.

Level: 2
Hiring Cost: 100
Leadership: 50
Attack/Defense: 16 / 10
Initiative/Speed: 4 / 2
Health: 34
Damage: 3-4 Physical
Resistances: Generic.
Talents: Ice Arrow (Charge: 1. 3-4 Ice damage against a single enemy at range, and Freezes the target), Flaming Arrow (Charge: 1. 4-5 Fire damage against a single enemy at range and Burns the target)
Abilities: Archer (Range: 6), Personal Enemy, Morale

Ice Arrow at last does its true damage type, expanding Bowmen ability to fight around Physical resistance! Also they've picked up Morale.

The overall result is that Bowmen are actually a really versatile ranged unit that can really hold their own when being compared against eg Elves. It helps that serious Ice resistance is very rare and nearly everything that has it is heavily vulnerable to Fire, ensuring Bowman can very consistently do solid damage on at least the first turn. Their ability to inflict two different forms of percentile damage also means they're a lot more useful for helping you take on battlegroups you're not really supposed to be ready to take on, even with the stack scaling aspect of percentile damage effects.

This is good, since Bowmen aren't available as early as in prior games. Instead of being a staple beginning-of-the-game ranged unit, they need to justify their presence in your army over other ranged units. Having the boosts necessary for such is thus quite well-timed!

Level: 2
Hiring Cost: 100
Leadership: 50
Attack/Defense: 10 / 10
Initiative/Speed: 4 / 2
Health: 32
Damage: 2-4 Magic
Resistances: 10% Magic
Talents: Healing (Charges: 2. Heals a single ally for 10 hits points per Priest in the casting stack), Bless (Reload: 1. For two turns, a single target ally does maximum damage on their basic attacks, or a single target enemy Undead is afflicted with Holy Shackles)
Abilities: Holy Word (Range: 6), True Believer (No Morale penalty for Undead allies, and animates as their original unit type and team if targeted by hostile necromantic effects), No Melee Penalty, Magic Protection (10% Magic resistance), Personal Enemy, Morale

Just the usual, other than Magic Protection being explicitly mentioned to ensure even skimmers and people who don't know hovering over the Defense stat will tell you about resistances will know that Priests are slightly resistant to Magic.

In practice Priests suffer from the fact that by the time you have access to them, you've also got access to a good variety of other ranged units. In The Legend and to a lesser extent Armored Princess, they tended to make it on your team for a decent chunk of the early game just due to limited competition. Not so in Warriors of the North. There's also more severely Magic-resistant units running about. The fact that Undead are a common foe helps some, but now that eg Bowmen have two good utility Talents that still do good damage, the Priest's ability to do good raw damage against the Undead doesn't impress so much.

By a similar token, they're actually less memorable as enemies -by the time you're fighting Priests, Leadership has already gotten to the point that them Healing an enemy stack is almost certainly a waste of their turn instead of a problem for you. So unless you're fielding Undead (A bit difficult to do in Warriors of the North, especially the base game), they're basically just really bad Bowmen aside the damage type stuff possibly being relevant.

Level: 3
Hiring Cost: 300
Leadership: 100
Attack/Defense: 16 / 16
Initiative/Speed: 5 / 2
Health: 70
Damage: 5-7 Magic
Resistances: 10% Magic
Talents: Resurrection (Charge: 1. Heals a single target ally for 7 HP per Inquisitor in the casting stack, resurrecting fallen units if 'overhealing'. Doesn't work on Undead or Demons), Holy Anger (Charges: 3. Blesses a single ally and grants the Holy Anger buff, as well as granting the Hero 3-10 Anger on use. Alternatively can be aimed at enemy Undead to inflict Holy Shackles on them, while still giving the Hero Rage)
Abilities: Holy Word (Range: 7. Ranged attack does double damage against Undead and Demons), True Believer (No Morale penalty for Undead allies, and animates as their original unit type and team if targeted by hostile necromantic effects), No Melee Penalty, Personal Enemy, Morale

No change, aside from gaining Morale (Like everyone else) and some name changes.

The big strike against Inquisitors is that they take so long to show up that their early-game use for Rage generation never really comes into play. They also tend to be out-competed by other options for resurrection, such as Paladins. They're still usable, but this is probably the series low point for Inquisitors, taking away a lot of their early-game appeal by not having them available early. The utility of not minding allied Undead is also fairly low, since Warriors of the North is so reluctant to give you supplies of Undead. 

Inquisitors are the only case where the base-game Adaptable Ability really has an interesting implication to me. In every other game in the series, Priests very consistently beat out Inquisitors when it comes to damage-per-Leadership, but in base Warriors of the North Inquisitors will do better damage if you've got a big enough Adaptable bonus, since Adaptable is running off of base stats. That's mildly interesting.

On the other hand, base Warriors of the North also really hates to give you access to Undead shops, seriously cutting into one of the main bits of utility the two bring to the table. I mean, they're strong anti-Undead units, so they have a place... but it's still a bit of a frustrating situation.

Level: 4
Hiring Cost: 900
Leadership: 200
Attack/Defense: 20 / 24
Initiative/Speed: 6 / 2
Health: 140
Damage: 5-8 Magic/Physical
Resistances: 50% Magic
Talents: Magic Shield (Reload: 1. A single ally takes halved damage for 3 turns), Fighting Trance (Reload: 2. Finally correctly informs you that it doubles raise Damage, Shock chance, and crit chance while halving Defense. In exchange, disables access to the Archmage's Talents as well as Aura of Antimagic for the two-turn duration), 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), Magic Protection (50% Magic resistance), Persistence of Mind (Immunity to mental effects), Personal Enemy, Aura of Antimagic (Adjacent allies who aren't Archmages get +10% Magic resistance), Morale

They've picked up Morale and Aura of Antimagic. I sort of like the idea of Aura of Antimagic, but its effect is pretty ignorable if it's not being stacked onto high Magic resistance in the first place, and the fact that it's disabled by Fighting Trance means you'll often spend a lot of time with it off entirely. Like, sure, I guess it's cool to stand next to Black Dragons and end up with them having 90% damage reduction on Magic damage, but most Magic damage attacks are ranged units and many of the exceptions are fast melee units like the fairies, so arranging to abuse that is difficult in real terms.

Overall they play much as they always have, in actual practice. The main caveat worth noting is that so many melee units gain Speed from leveling that in the late game Telekinesis loses some utility as a stalling tool... which isn't too big a deal, since that's never been a primary use for it anyway.

They also completely miss out on their prior early-game utility of relatively high Health per head letting you dodge casualties toward the beginning of the game in spite of them being a ranged unit. You use Soothsayers for that role, instead.

Level: 4
Hiring Cost: 1500
Leadership: 220
Attack/Defense: 30 / 36
Initiative/Speed: 3 / 2
Health: 200
Damage: 16-20 Physical
Resistances: 30% Physical, 30% Magic, 10% Fire
Talents: Prayer (Charge: 1. Heals the Paladin and adjacent organic allies who are below Level 5 and not Undead or Demons for 18 HP per Paladin in the stack, resurrecting the dead where applicable. Undead and Demons -even allied ones- instead take 14-16 Magic damage, and spontaneously flee 1 tile away), Second Wind (Reload: 2. Can grant an allied troop that has already moved a second turn that occurs only after all other turns have been resolved, so long as the allied unit is below Level 5, its Leadership total is 660 times Paladin count or less, and it's not an Undead unit. Using Second Wind doesn't end the Paladin's turn or use AP)
Abilities: Armored (30% Physical resistance), Mastery (Defense increases by 30% of base every time the Paladin takes damage, to a maximum of 90% more than base), True Believer (No Morale penalty for Undead allies, and animates as their original unit type and team if targeted by hostile necromantic effects), Holy Warrior (30% Magic resistance, and doubled damage against Demons and Undead), Personal Enemy, Morale

Prayer has lost 25% of its healing/damage and no longer can heal/resurrect Plants and machines. They've gained Morale in exchange, and if you're playing Ice and Fire the healing loss will be offset in the long haul by experience gain. (They fall under the Healer class, and so can get substantial boosts to their healing amount)

Obviously it's a pretty big point in the Paladin's favor that Undead are ridiculously common as enemies, but on the flipside Ice damage being a thing -perhaps most relevantly, being a thing on Ghosts and Cursed Ghosts- is a notable strike against the Paladin, albeit less so than on the Knight. (The Fire resistance on a Paladin isn't that high in the first place), but overall Paladins play much as they always have. You can't get them as early as in Armored Princess, but that's not impactful on them the way it is on several other Human units.

Rune Wizard
Level: 5
Hiring Cost: 17,000
Leadership: 2000
Attack/Defense: 45 / 46
Initiative/Speed: 5 / 3
Health: 450
Damage: 50-65 Magical/Physical
Resistances: 50% Magic
Talents: Destruction (Reload: 3. Does 45-65 Astral damage to everything in a straight line, with the damage increasing by 10% for each unused Might Rune the player is carrying, to a maximum of +200%), Phantom (Charge: 1. Generates a clone of a selected unit that is below Level 5. The size of the generated stack is 20% of the Health of the targeted stack, with Spirit Runes increasing the Health number by 2% per unused one carried by the player to a maximum of +40% and thus a total of 60% of the targeted stack's Health), Runic Word (Charges: 3. Grants a target unit 2 Runes, distribution of Rune type randomly chosen. Every ten Magic Runes adds another Rune, to a maximum of 2 more)
Abilities: Persistence of Mind (Immunity to mental effects), Personal Enemy, High Mage (+1 Morale to Priests, Inquisitors, Archmages, and Pyromages), Runic Staff (Range: infinite. Unused Skill Runes provide increasing benefits, up to a maximum of 20 of each type. Might Runes increase base damage by 2 apiece, Spirit Runes increase Health by 10 apiece, and Magic Runes determine the effect that ranged attacks have a 30% chance of inflicting), Runic Armor (Physical resistance increases by 1% per unused Might Rune. Poison and Fire resistances increase by 1% per unused Spirit Rune. Magic and Ice resistance rises 1% per unused Magic Rune)

+10 Attack and +2 Defense, base damage has gone up 10 points, Destruction reloads slower, Phantom is no longer infinitely spammable (But you get to pick what gets summoned!) among other changes, their super-revival Talent has been replaced entirely, and their mechanics regarding unused Skill Runes have been switched up and given hard caps on their effectiveness. Also they cost 2000 more Gold, like they weren't obnoxiously expensive as-is.

The overall result is that Rune Wizards no longer feel like they're balanced around the possibility of insanely high bonuses from huge piles of unused Talent Runes, and are actually pretty serviceable even if you have no unused Talent Runes. Two more indirect buffs to them are that Warriors of the North is shockingly generous with Talent Runes in general, and that the Runic Power Might Skill exists to incentive holding on to 20-ish Talent Runes past a certain point anyway. (That is, you already have a general reason to hold onto Talent Runes, and if you're indulging it Rune Wizards are incidentally benefiting) A third, more indirect 'buff' is that Skill costs in Warrior of the North trend a bit higher overall, enough so that you're a lot more likely to be completely unable to afford any Skills while still having 10 or so Talent Runes lying around: back in Armored Princess it's a lot easier to spend your Talent Runes down to nothing or nearly nothing.

Those points aside, the way you use and fight them is broadly similar, aside the caveat that they can't be used to reduce/undo casualties. They're just better in player hands and less able to be irritatingly effective in AI hands. (They still get arbitrary Talent Rune boosts, just like Armored Princess, but no longer are enemy Rune Wizards getting benefits that a player would pretty much never achieve)

Something worth noting is that unused Might Runes scale up Destruction's strength a little faster overall than they scale up the Rune Wizard's base damage. Usually it's more important to pay attention to their respective damage types and mechanical behavior in terms of eg Destruction being a line attack, but occasionally it'll matter: don't get used to either thinking of Destruction as harder-hitting than the base attack on a given target or vice-versa, because it depends on how many Might Runes you're carting around.

While we're on a unit that performs summons of a regular unit type, a point about experience: summons don't interact with experience. If you have a Rune Wizard use Phantom on eg your Level 10 Jarl stack, the resulting Jarl stack will not contribute experience to your Jarls and will not benefit from the 9 levels your actual Jarls have, having the stats of a completely inexperienced unit. This applies to all summons, including enemy summons and non-standard unit types like eg Phoenix. This tends to be offset by the fact that summoners increase how much they summon by leveling, but when it comes to Initiative and Speed considerations it's important to keep in mind that eg a Phantom Jarl will have 3 Speed even if your high-level Jarls have 4 Speed.

... also, the Rune Wizard has the rather unusual quality that, where its Ice and Fire edition is basically a patched version of the Orcs on the March unit, the base Warriors of the North version of the Rune Wizard is almost a completely different unit, with a lower Level, much lower stats including much lower Leadership and only 2 Speed and an effective range of 6 tiles, Runic Knowledge giving it one of each Viking Rune type, and having the absolutely insane mechanic of its abilities all being charge-based, with the charge count each being based on how many copies of a Rune type it personally has: Destruction running off Attack Runes, Phantom running off Defense Runes, and Runic Word running off Luck Runes. They also spend a Rune when used, but this still creates nonsense like the Rune Wizard being able to infinitely dump Runic Word on itself to fuel its other abilities, and the code end is kind of dumb in that abilities aren't actually disabled the instant you use a Rune conventionally if that Rune is the last Rune, making it possible to eg click Destruction, then click your last Attack Rune, and fire off a Destruction backed by an Attack Rune, or summoning a Phantom and still benefiting from your one Defense Rune when attacked.

It's a horror show and I'm really glad Ice and Fire immediately got rid of it, because it's insanely abusable and not even a particularly fun or interesting unit to use.

Level: 4
Hiring Cost: 1200
Leadership: 300
Attack/Defense: 24 / 28
Initiative/Speed: 5 / 2
Health: 170
Damage: 7-10 Fire/Physical
Resistances: 50% Fire, 25% Magic
Talents: Flaming Heart (Charges: 2. A single target ally does +20% damage in the form of Fire damage for 3 turns. Cannot be used on Demons, Plants, inorganic units, or ice creatures), Fireball (Reload: 4. Drops a fireball at a targeted location. If there's a unit at the center of the blast, it takes 9-13 Fire damage. Units in adjacent tiles take half that. Any unit hit has a 50% chance of Burning), Fire Shield (Charge: 1. A single target ally gains +20% Fire resistance for 5 turns. Additionally, enemy melee attackers will automatically be Burned for attacking the unit, but the duration of the effect is lowered by 1 each time this is triggered. Demons, Plants, inorganic units, and ice creatures are ineligible)
Abilities: Flaming Arrow (Range: infinite. 30% chance to Burn target with ranged attack), Magic Protection (25% Magic resistance), Fire Protection (50% Fire resistance), Persistence of Mind (Immunity to mental effects), Fire Keeper (Anytime a unit becomes Burned, the Pyromage gains +1 Attack and Defense for the rest of the battle, to a maximum of +20), Personal Enemy, Morale

The only new Human unit in Ice and Fire. They're comparable to an upstatted Archmage that decided utility effects were for wimps and incinerating literally everything is the way to go.

The Pyromage is one of many cases of content lifted from the Armored Princess mod Red Sands. It's a bit different -the Red Sands version was weak to Physical and Poison, and instead of Fire Shield it had a one-charge Talent that hit three enemy units with Flaming Arrows- and indeed it's one of the more divergent examples, but overall it's pretty clearly the Pyromage from Red Sands. While I'm on that topic, Ice and Fire's implementation of the ability for units to level is also lifted from Red Sands, and then for some reason the level cap is half what it is in Red Sands. I guess maybe they wanted fewer levels that are more meaningful? Red Sands unit level gains tend to be pretty ignorable, individually.

Oddly, the game seems to have done a poor job of implementing Pyromages into the enemy battlegroup pool. I don't think I've ever seen a Pyromage outside of a handful of Keeper fights. Admittedly you almost never fight Human battlegroups in Warriors of the North in the first place...

... this is actually something of a recurring problem with Ice and Fire units, though Pyromages are the most egregious: Ice and Fire units tend to be underrepresented. Evil Eyes are arguably even more egregious, as they're a new Undead unit and you're constantly encountering Undead and yet Evil Eyes are still quite rare to encounter, but Pyromages are the only Ice and Fire unit I've never actually seen in a regular battle at all. In conjunction with how Ice and Fire units tend to be on the powerful side, it means that Ice and Fire's unit content is biased a bit toward advantaging the player, with the exception that the Ice Gardens and to a lesser extent the Marshan Swamp tend to be harder than you'd expect for the Leadership count. It's a bit odd, and is one of several elements that contributes to Ice and Fire having shades of 'make the game easier DLC'.

I personally suspect the base game is essentially an incomplete version of what was intended, with much of Ice and Fire's content having been meant to be part of the base game -most particularly the Marshan Swamp- and I have a suspicion that part of what happened is that the code refactoring that makes the game run so smoothly had the side effect of breaking the coding of a bunch of previously-functional units and the like. There's a really bad bug to do with the Lizardmen in Ice and Fire that to the best of my knowledge doesn't exist in Armored Princess, which looks to me like evidence that the Lizardmen didn't make it into base Warriors of the North because they needed to be recoded to function properly. There's a lot of other odd glitches, such as one to do with Troll animations I'll be getting to later, that weren't in Armored Princess, so I'm quite confident that code refactoring broke some things.

That's a bit of a long-winded way of saying that even though Ice and Fire has shades of 'make the game easier DLC', I don't think that's really intentional, so much as it is an unfortunate consequence of the base game ending up harder than intended due to various difficulties and incomplete elements and whatnot and Ice and Fire is basically just 'normalizing' the difficulty curve from 'harder than intended' to 'more or less as originally intended'

Anyway, the fact that Pyromages are so rare as enemies means I don't actually have much to say about them as enemies. They're a passive ranged Burn chance, which is a bit annoying since you can't Magic Lock them or anything to do away with it and it's percentile damage, and their Fireball is an area-of-effect attacking Talent they can drop anywhere they like. Mostly though you can treat them much like Archmages, only without Shock and with Fire resistance being a problem for them instead of Magic resistance.

In player hands, they're kinda weird and gimmicky but not bad. They encourage opening with Gudrida's Rage as often as possible to get them stat boosts from the Burn infliction, and they can combo well with some glass cannon units in the form of slapping Flaming Heart on them, while Fire Shield is... less powerful than it sounds. Guaranteed Burn infliction is cool and all, but lobbing a Fireball to fish for Burn chances before the enemy moves, rather than trying to get Burn infliction that only occurs after they've made a move, just makes more sense. You'll generally only use Fire Shield in the later stages of combat, and preferably specifically on a high-durability unit you were throwing into the thick of things anyway.

In general, Fireball is usually the best opening move with Pyromages, and past that blandly tossing out ranged attacks is often the best bet too if you don't have some glass cannon ranged unit that Flaming Heart can actually apply to. It'd be great on Thorn Hunters, for example... but you can't apply it to them. So there's not actually that many units Flaming Heart is all that great on. It doesn't help that Pyromages are extremely unlikely to suffer serious casualties themselves; Flaming Heart would be a great way to contribute damage once the stack was worn down if, for example, Pyromages were a melee unit and you were playing a Skald -who can, at high levels, pretty freely throw lives away- but since they're an unlimited-range unit... that circumstance is unlikely to come about.

I overall like Pyromages, but their gameplay could've used some refinement.


One odd point in general about Warriors of the North is that there's almost no Human battlegroups in the game, especially if you don't count Keeper fights. The unevenness of battlegroup distribution is a bit of a problem in general with Warriors of the North -Elves are fairly rare to fight as well, while Undead are all over the place- but Humans are very much the least common race/faction to fight. That makes a certain amount of plot-sense, but there's still a number of places that could've fairly readily justified Human battlegroups that don't try. I personally don't actually mind particularly, and indeed I actually didn't notice it in a substantive way until I was writing up this post and talking about how insanely rare Pyromages are, but it's a bit odd and it does mean that outside Robbers, Marauders, and some of the not-strictly-criminal units that sometimes get thrown into criminal groups anyway (eg Bowmen), most Human units can be thought primarily as player-usable units and not have it be all that wrong.

It's an odd element unique to Warriors of the North. The other games all have Human armies pretty strongly represented in the early game and keep getting on-and-off representation even later on.

Anyway, next time, we cover what's new with Dwarves.


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