Celestial Heavens includes similar tips for the Dungeon, the Inferno and the Sylvan. Please give some feedback to the respective authors.
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IntroductionAmbulant corpses, lost souls, screaming banshees, bloodsucking goths, and people who look like they haven't had a good meal in decades. The first and most obvious attribute of your troops is that they have all died before. Being Undead, you never have to worry about Morale or Mind Control-magic (such as Banshee Howl and Mind Control), as your troops are mindless, Poison, as your troops do not have metabolisms, or Blind, as your troops' eyes have most likely already fallen out. The Necromancer faction is a Summoning and Dark-magic oriented faction, and has powerful skills and spells in both trees. Your level 4 and 5 Magic Guild is going to house a Summoning and a Dark Magic spell. The Necromancer himself is a hero that focuses mostly on Spellpower and Defense. Spellpower doesn't usually help that much with Dark Magic, as most Dark Magic spells are only lengthened in term by Spellpower, not strengthened in effect, but Summoning Magic, on the other hand, benefits greatly from your Spellpower.
The Necromancer has at his disposal an interesting array of troop selections. He has troops whose strength is based on numbers, troops who can weaken the enemy's forward units, a troop who is made very persistent and resilient through his ability to revive sections of his stack. The only (worthwhile) troop in your army who does not avoid retaliation damage by either being ranged or special abilities is your Wraiths. All of this will be discussed below. The Necromancer also has one very nice bonus which makes him very popular with myself. His attack and spellcasting animations are short (unlike certain heros *coughRangercough*).
Necromancer SkillsNecromancy - This skill is what gives the Necromancer his primary strength: Troop numbers. While other factions can only lose troops as they creep, the Necromancer is capable of adding substantial numbers to his army as he performs his early-game actions. The formula used by the game is complex but it is fairly easy to intuit what you are going to get. The game does take into account unit level. When you fight a stack of 40 Peasants, you are going to get a handful of Skeletons. If you fight a stack of 40 Squires, depending on your skill level and Necropolis town buildings that could net you all 40 Squires returning as Skeletons, an improvement over the by-the-numbers setup of HoMM 3, where dead dragons weren't worth more than dead.
Banshee Howl - This is a special, no mana ability used by the Necromancer. It affects all enemy units who are not undead or mechanical. It reduces enemy Morale by 1 and decreases their Initiative by 10%. This makes it especially useful against units with high Initiative, namely Inferno troops. The Morale effect helps if an enemy hero has specialized in Leadership, but isn't particularly effective after that. Personally, I found this skill to be somewhat wanting. Mass Dark Magic spells are more effective and there are so many better options for when your hero's turn comes around. Banshee Howl leads to Dead Man's Curse (-1 enemy Luck) if you have Basic Luck, and Banish, which is a spell that requires you to have Summoning Magic, 6 points in Destruction Magic, and 5 points in Sorcery and so is hardly worth it when you think about what you could have spent those skill points on.
Eternal Servitude - This is a handy skill if you manage to snag it early on. It makes creeping run a lot more smoothly. What it does is that after a combat, it finds the highest level troop in your army that has died, and attempts to revive it. The “spellpower” of this skill is based on the level of your hero, so you won't be reviving any Wraiths at level 1. If it can't revive that troop, it moves to the next-highest stack. When you are early in the game, you will typically be able to revive 1 Lich or 2 to 3 Vampires. Mid-game this talent becomes a waste of a skill point, as reinforcements are much easier to come by and you aren't so desperate for troop numbers, and reviving one or two Vampires isn't going to make a difference to your army.
Skeleton Archers - This is the one almost compulsory choice from the Necromancy skill. All of the dead bodies after a battle that would typically be raised as Skeletons are revived as the much better Skeleton Archers. Unless you feel comfortable with a long and slow supply chain that moves Skeletons from your main hero to your base to be upgraded, and then back, this skill is a must. Skeletons Archers are one of the Necromancers' primary strengths and their strength is based entirely upon their numbers.
Howl of Terror (Ultimate) - Makes your Banshee Howl reduce enemy Morale by 6. This is, obviously, a very powerful skill that will have many armies cowering and letting your archers get off free shots. The path to this Ultimate also largely coincides with many useful talent trees: Attack, Dark Magic, Logistics, and Enlightenment, all skill that are recommended in the first place. Unfortunately, these are a lot of waste when climbing this tree. You miss out on several important abilities (like Archery or Master of Mind) and waste points on several skills that aren't very useful (like Scholar or Silent Stalker). Most of this guide will be written assuming that you aren't going for Howl of Terror, as then your skill choices are pretty much defined for you already.
SkillsThe skills below are divided into their importance when it comes to giving your Necromancer an advantage in battle.
Attack is the skill that makes Necromancers a competitive army. It raises melee damage by 5-15%. You should take it at the first opportunity and take it all the way to Expert. This skill makes your otherwise mediocre melee troops much more effective. It primarily benefits your Vampires, as they do more damage they will be able to heal themselves for more magic, but the real power comes in its perks.
Battle Frenzy is a must have. As you progress, Skeleton Archers will increasingly make up a greater and greater chunk of your forces. It's not uncommon to enter into a major battle with 500 to 800 Skeleton Archers. Needless to say, one skill that gives a stack bonus damage equal to its troop strength is definitely worth taking, and you should take it at the first opportunity. This goes hand-in-hand with another major damage booster to your Skeleton Archers, Archery (20% boost in damage). This, together with Battle Frenzy, can turn your Skeleton Archers into monsters made worse by their ability to hit anything on the field of battle.
The third perk at this point is between Cold Steel and Tactics (or using your point somewhere else). Cold Steel is weak; it gives you approximately one point of bonus damage for every 11 points of damage you do. With regard to Skeleton Archers, this means this level 3 skill has 1/11 the strength of Battle Frenzy. Even with higher level troops, you are only getting a little bit of spare change when it comes to damage. That leaves Tactics. Tactics will allow your Vampire Lords and your Wraiths to make it to enemy lines on their first turn. Whether this is useful or not depends on how you like to play. I would prefer for my enemies to get within full-damage range of my archers rather than have them held up at their own lines, where my archers can only do half damage. Since it is fairly easy to block off archers from attack with your Liches and your Zombies, it seems like a mediocre use of a talent point that could be better spent elsewhere.
Logistics - Doesn't really need an explanation. Allowing your hero to do more things per turn, cover more ground, outdistancing/intercepting enemy heroes is a strategic consideration that you really can't ignore. There's nothing worse than feeling helpless as enemy heroes run circles around you. If they can get to your base before you can get to theirs, you're in some trouble. Scouting and Pathfinding are both nice perks, but they aren't very high-priority. If the map lacks roads then Pathfinding can be much more useful.
Magics - There are two major schools of magic that Necromancers will find useful (and convenient): Dark and Summoning Magic. There are also two schools of thought when it comes to allocating skill points. The first is to choose one, either Dark or Summoning, and the second is to choose both. It really depends on whether there is another skill that you really want to squeeze in that normally wouldn't make it, such as Defense or War Machines. Both Dark and Summoning Magics have their advantages, but Summoning Magic comes out on top for one reason: Raise Dead. For that reason Master of Life is almost compulsory, as it lets you Raise about 100 extra Hit Points of troops (at Advanced level). Conjuration is also fairly useful if you plan on summoning Elementals (and everyone should plan on summoning Phoenixes). Earthblood, on the other hand, isn't useful at all. Fire Traps is a waste of time except at Expert level and Earthquake is pretty useless since most castles are going to have moats anyways and you're better off raising dead troops, as it would take more than one cast of even Expert Earthquake to destroy the towers. Haunted Mines can be useful as Ghosts' primary drawback is their cost, and getting them for free is nice. Haunted Mines is exceptionally useful with Naadir, who gets free Ghosts from another source.
The Dark Magic tree has two purposes. The first is to get mass-effect spells, the second is to get Spirit Link. Spirit Link is best cast on very large, very low-Defense stacks, as the amount of Mana given is based upon damage (the same way that you would attack weak stacks, which will do more damage, to heal more Vampires). This isn't as important as it might be, as at later levels your Necromancer will have plenty of Mana, but it is useful to keep him topped off during large battles with difficult enemy heroes, so he can keep churning out those Raise Deads and perhaps a Mass Curse or two without pause. Corrupted Soil is not worth it, as it does barely any damage and prevents you from taking a second mass-effect skill, which is infinitely more useful. Master of Pain is the weakest of the three mass effect choices. Though Vulnerability and Decay are both very great spells, they become area-effect rather than mass-effect.
Important Summoning Magic Spells
Raise Dead - Raise Dead is possibly one of the most overpowering spells in the game, and as the Necromancer's troops are undead, Raise Dead is effectively a level 3 version of Resurrect. This spell allows you to resurrect (with higher skill levels) huge chunks of your army every time your hero has a go. Anyone playing against someone who enjoys this spell knows what futility feels like. Taking down a dozen Wights with concentrated fire, just to have most of them reappear just a few moments later while the rest of the army smashes gets in free shots.
Phantom Forces - If you have a stack of 500 Skeleton Archers, with Battle Frenzy and all, with just a handful of Mana you can double your damage output AND force your enemy to attack something besides your archers themselves (this is not counting area-effect magic). In addition to this, your phantoms have a 50% chance to avoid incoming enemy fire. This spell allows you to practically steal the initiative (er, not the stat) from your opponent.
Firewall - I've heard that some think Firewall is underpowered, and I'm wondering what planet they live on. A spell which does damage comparable to a Destruction School spell, and does it every round? Firewall is another one of those initiative-stealing spells that forces your opponent to either change his attack plans or suffer the consequences. Especially useful against 2x2 enemies, Firewall is most useful when you cast it in front of your archers. This pretty much guarantees that anything trying to get to your valuable skellies or Liches is going to get fried and fairly quickly (while at the same time you Raise Dead on whatever they killed, making their sacrifice all for nought).
Summon Elementals - Not a particularly useful spell, considering that you don't have a huge number of hero actions and they could usually be spent doing something more important. However, there are a couple things that make this spell worth it. First of all, a very common magical item in games is the Ring of Summoning, which nets you not just the spell but 4 free Elementals when you cast it (Summon Elemental gives you 1 Elemental per point of Spellpower, except at Expert level where you get 2, doubling the ring's effectiveness). Earth Elementals are fairly useless, but Air Elementals, which have No Retaliation (though are a bit frail), Fire Elementals which are ranged and have Fire Shield, and Water Elementals who have casting abilities are all useful if you can get them in large numbers. This spell is for late-game, when you have lots of Spellpower (and hopefully Expert level Summoning Magic).
Summon Phoenix - There's not really a whole lot that needs to be said. Phoenixes are very powerful, and with a Necromancer's high Spellpower stat they become even more powerful.
Important Dark Magic Spells
Weakness - This spell reduces the damage gap between a stack's minimum and maximum Damage. This spell is, without a doubt, most useful against Marksmen, who are a voluminous, low-level stack with a range of 2-8 Damage. Would you rather the enemy be doing 50 x 2 or 50 x 8 damage to you? Mass Weakness is exceptionally useful, as with most low-level units you are cutting their damage in half, sometimes more. Weakness is one of the best initial curses.
Suffering & Vulnerability - Suffering is only really useful in one situation, as it suffers from diminishing returns and doesn't get any sort of boost from Spellpower (just duration of the curse). The way things work, units get a bonus to their Damage if they have a greater Attack value than the target's Defense, and a much smaller penalty if the unit has greater Defense. If you are facing a fairly higher-level hero (as Necromancer's Defense ratings are pretty good), it might be worth a quick Mass Suffering in order to eliminate the enemy's bonus Damage. This spell is not nearly as useful as Weakness but has its uses.
On the other hand, Vulnerability is a much better spell in benefits to your army, but Mass Vulnerability suffers from being an area-affect spell, rather than a mass-effect spell. As a Necromancer's Defense skill will usually be at least equal to an enemy's and his Offense skill suffers, and the fact that so much of a Necromancer's army doesn't particularly need Defense (many ranged units, and the Vampire who survived by reviving comrades rather than withstanding hits) but do need the offensive bonus, this spell is much more useful. Especially against other high-Defense armies, this spell is particularly useful. The problem, of course, is that you have to get a bunch of people inside the area of effect …
If Mass Suffering and Mass Vulnerability switched, there would be no contest as to which was more useful.
Confusion - Confusion reduces the percentage of an enemy stack that uses ranged attacks or retaliates. This skill is useful in many circumstances. If you are fighting an enemy like Sylvan who have large stacks of Hunters Confusion can particularly hurt, and for eliminating the horrible retaliation attacks from Haven armies. I'm not sure if the effect stacks on Succubi (only a percentage retaliate, and only a percentage of those retaliating actually attack). At Expert level, you entirely prevent enemy troops from using ranged attacks or retaliating, which is an enormous help and the fact that Confusion can have mass-effect makes it much more useful.
The major drawback of this spell is that you already have so many troops who can't be retaliated against in the first place. Most of your major units are ranged (Skeleton Archers, Liches) or already have No Retaliation (Vampires). Your Wights are the primary beneficiary of this skill (since Ghosts are so weak they get murdered no matter what the retaliation strength is). As said, if you are fighting armies with large numbers of archers, though, you can cripple both their ability to get at your Wights and their ability to use their archers as anything more than weak cannon fodder.
Decay - Mass Decay is worth casting if you have a lot of units under the area of effect. It does very decent damage. Don't waste Decay on just one unit, as you could be doing something much more important like Raising Dead or Mass Weakness/Confusion. Decay is, in most circumstances, more useful than Mass Vulnerability in terms of cost/benefit (your hero's turn/reduced ability of the enemy to defeat you).
Destructive Magic is attractive, with your hero's high Spellpower, except your town doesn't isn't a Destructive town and you are much better off with Summoning and/or Dark Magic, which complement your army much better. You might replace Dark Magic if you know you're going to be capturing an Inferno or Academy town, or if you start off (or find quickly) one of those items that gives +50% damage to a certain type of "> level 3" Destructive spell. At higher levels these spells can be devastating, as Necromancers have very high Spellpower.
(If you picked both schools of magic, you can only choose one of these, if you took both than only two)-
Enlightenment is a very useful skill, particularly for the Necromancer as it can lead to very high Spellpower and fairly good Defense (as well as an Experience boost, making it easier to outdistance your opponent when it comes to levelling). Also, it has one perk worth mentioning, Intelligence. Your Necromancer doesn't have a very strong Knowledge stat, as so has a weak Mana pool when compared to most other casting heroes. A 50% boost would be very welcome and useful. As you get late into the game heading for Dark Revelation might seem worth it as level-ups are so rare, but one more level isn't going to give you a significant boost (especially if you have waste time with Scholar and Lord of the Undead first) the way a more useful skill would. If you've got nothing else to go for then you might as well, but note this prevents you from taking Intelligence.
Luck is pretty self explanatory. 500 Skeleton Archers, +1 bonus Damage each, +20% Archery, x2 from a Lucky Strike …
I prefer Enlightenment because it always works, but if you get a lucky charm or something and get your Luck up to 5, it's certainly competition. Resourcefulness is very nice early in the game, worthless in the late game, as you won't really need the bonus resources. Soldier's Luck sounds nice to help out your Ghosts, but Ghosts are so weak using a skill point just for them is a waste. Resistance, on the other hand, is worth taking, and if you went the Lucky route you might as well get Dead Man's Curse. Making sure your enemy doesn't have good luck (or sometimes they do even less damage to your already high-Defense units) always helps.
War Machines is hit-or-miss and not a skill I usually take. The Catapult is fair superfluous in a Necromancer army. You have teleporting Vampires and two major shooting units (Liches and Skeleton Archers), as well as a strong casting hero who can seriously damage the enemy's ability to use missiles with Confusion. Ballistas are also not particularly useful; your hero really just doesn't have the Offense stat to make them work like they should. The First Aid Tent, on the other hand, is mildly useful, especially if you have Kaspar, who gives your First Aid Tend a bonus. Plague Tent is useful if you find Raise Dead sufficient for the moment, as with Kaspar it can do a fair amount of damage (with Expert War Machines I believe the tent can heal/damage 100 HPs, which isn't bad considering it costs only 500 bucks at the Necropolis). If you really plan on taking War Machines, I suggest you take Kaspar since he can get the most use out of them. Ammo Carts are also fairly useful, as they act like bonus Frenzy bits on your archers with higher-levels of War Machines.
Point Better Spent Elsewhere
Light Magic not just seems inappropriate, but you are going to get better use out of cursing your enemies than buffing your own troops. It doesn't help that the Light Magic ultimate hurts your own troops. Might be okay for a Haven-based Necromancer, I suppose.
Defense sounds nice, but once you consider that your troops already have high Defense, thanks to the Necromancer, and that a significant portion of your army is going to be avoiding a lot of otherwise expected damage (No Retaliation, two major archery units, and the fact that Zombies are cheap and disposable). Vitality sounds nice, until you realize that this really only benefits your Skeleton Archers, and as archers they are going to be shielded from most damage. This skill is also somewhat lessened in usefulness by the Raise Dead skill. If you end up with Orson, who comes supplied with Defense, the perks are fairly useful but the best one is Protection, as your Skeleton Archers and Liches (and sometimes Vampires or Wights) are going to get hit with a lot of magical ordnance. Chilling Bones is weak but not as weak as Cold Steel, but the other Defense skills are better so you won't usually be presented with it as a choice anyways.
Sorcery is only useful if you went for Destructive Magic. That really is the only reason to take it. Otherwise you just plain don't need your hero so much that you should sacrifice other skills just to increase his Initiative. The perks aren't particularly useful. Reducing Mana cost is okay, but you already have a perk (Spirit Link) in an appropriate skill tree for that.
TroopsSkeletons - Weak. You want to get rid of these guys as quickly as possible. They're one of the weakest tier-1 troops, and all I can say is that I try to get a Boneyard and Skeleton Archers (Necromancy skill) as quickly as possible.
Skeleton Archers - And so Skeletons go from your second-worst (more on that when we get to Ghosts) unit to your backbone. With the Necromancy skill, you will be accumulating dozens of these little guys. Their major advantage over Skeletons isn't any particular stat boost, but the fact that they can attack at range (avoiding both charging enemies and retaliation attacks). Their numbers, as well as the fact that Skeleton Archers can only do 1-2 Damage each anyways, will minimize the 1/2 damage penalty that you will have during the early parts of the fight. Another nice bonus is the fact that a high-level Raise Dead spell can usually end up raising 70 or more, meaning you can take some serious hits and keep going. Your Skeleton Archers won't be hit very often, as they are easily protected by Liches and Zombies. Speaking of such, Skeleton Archers are best deployed in the corner, with Liches on one side and zombies in front. If you are fighting dragons, you want to amble your Zombies up one square and your Liches up and over one, creating a Dragon Breath Buffer Zone, but make sure to close the gaps afterwards so sneaky 1x1 creatures can't get in.
Zombies - These guys would be useless if not for two facts.
1) They are cheap
2) They take up space.
Zombies' primary function is to sit in front of your Skeleton Archers and look menacing (which they accomplish by having a stupidly vacant look on their face). They are just too slow to be used any anything else. It is always worth having a 100 or so stack of basic Zombies lying around. You should not be moving these guys around, you should be pressing Defense when their turn comes up, unless you need to take a retaliation for nearby Wraiths.
Plague Zombies - These guys would be a waste of money if not for two things:
1) They cast Vulnerability and Suffering on whomever they attack.
2) They're cheap.
Like Zombies, Plague Zombies belong in front of your archers. However, unlike Zombies, they do have some limited counter-charge ability, for when the enemy gets too close. They can take a retaliation strike, same as above, though that's usually not a big deal, but their primary use is against dragons and other high-level 2x2 units who are trying to get to your archers. Smacking them around with cleavers that reduce their Defense (and Offense, but that's not as important) while non-penalized archers shoot at them from immediately behind (and, if you are like me, they are sitting in a Fire Wall) is a quick way to either get rid of or keep away dragons. Black Dragons present a problem, but Dungeon armies usually do.
Ghosts - These guys would be a waste of money if not for this:
If I could write “they're cheap” there, I would be all for what a nice ancillary unit Ghosts would make. They have a 50% evasion rate, but the problem is, that just makes them a Mercedes in a war zone. You're fast enough to dodge a couple tanks, maybe, but once you're hit that's the end of the ball game. These guys are ONLY useful in the early part of the game, when you don't have anything better. They can get across the field quickly and sit next to archers, and there is an AI glitch which will send enemy troops after your ghosts on a goose chase (Corvette in Homeworld 2 style), leaving your army free to assault.
After the early game, they become too expensive. They hit okay, and it's frustrating to fight them which gives you the idea that they might be very good troops, but you forget that neutral stacks don't have to pay for their units. If they were cheaper they would be worth it, but as it stands right now they just aren't.
Spectres - Take Ghosts, make them cost a lot more without being any more useful, and you can come to your own conclusions.
Vampires - Vampires are probably the most survivable unit in the game. Not because of an insanely high Defense or anything like that, but simply because they don't stay dead and when they hit you, you can't hit back. Vampires will be your heavy hitters for most of the early and middle games. They do lots of damage and heal themselves and revive comrades while they are at it. They're fast, long-ranged, and have No Retaliation. It is not necessary to Raise Dead on Vampires unless they head towards 1/2 strength (2/3 if you've got plenty of Mana and nothing else to do), and as they do take damage it is much better to attack low-level stacks for healing purposes, as your Vampires will do more damage and thus heal themselves more. Vampires are excellent against high-level units, with their No Retaliation ability, and the fact that the Vampires' retaliation will heal a lot of the damage caused.
I always get Vampires the day before the end of the first week, that sets you up with 10 the next week. Early in the game Eternal Servitude will keep your Vampire numbers up until the stacks gain enough size so that they can revive a lot of themselves on their own. If it comes to buying Vampires or any other unit, spend your money on Vampires.
Vampire Lords - Lords are like the opposite of Spectres. They take a great original unit and beef up its strengths (agility, hitting power, survivability), rather than take a weak unit and exaggerate its weaknesses (cost, mostly). Lords are great if you have Tactics, or during castle sieges, as they can wreak havoc on enemy archers. With Tactics you can use these guys to reach enemy lines on Turn 1. Whether you want to or not is the question.
Liches - Liches are a very popular unit in the army, and useful as a second archer unit. Liches are particularly useful anti-archer units. They are very good at dealing with low-Defense, low-level units by hitting masses of them with their attack. Attacking archers, who are usually in the vicinity of a War Machine and a guard or two, is what they are usually best at.
Archliches - Archliches are much more powerful, but cost not much more, than ordinary Liches, at least for what you are getting. They gain several spells, as well. If you only have a handful of Archliches (2 or 3) casting spells is what they should do before they start shooting their ray guns around. If you have many, the benefits of plain shooting outweigh whatever you might get from spells.
Wight - I've seen many discussions where the Wight was disliked or called underpowered, but I've never thought so. They are a particularly able unit. They are fairly swift and otherwise competent. They aren't the most powerful level 6 unit, the only thing they really lack is a powerful secondary ability. In my experience, Wights are best used against large stacks of low-level units who can't overcome the Wight's Defense and succumb to his high attack, and as a Second Hitter when it comes to high-level units. Archers are also a favorite target of Wights. Wights are an example of where you shouldn't be using tanks to fight tanks, use your artillery (your Skeleton Archers).
Wraith - In any of themselves, Wraiths are nice units. Unfortunately, besides looking like a disco, paying 400 extra cash for 5 Hit Points, 5 Damage, and 2 Defense and Offense is most certainly not worth it as Wraiths are available (or affordable) in the numbers where those small upgrades would be noticeable. Harm Touch is worthless (a stack of Wraiths can kill 1 of anything pretty much always, and do extra damage besides). If you have bazillions of dollars and nothing to spend it on, Wraiths are okay.
Bone Dragons/Spectral Dragons - Talk about a money sink for something that isn't even worth it. Not just the cost of the units themselves (2,900 for a Spectral Dragon), but the infrastructure that goes behind them (3000 (Tombstone) + 15000 (Graveyard) + 20000 (Vault) = Way too much money for a mediocre unit, not even counting the 40 wood, 30 stone, 25 mercury, 10 crystals and 10 gems). These things are just too expensive for what they do. Frankly, Wights are, overall, better units than Bone Dragons. Spend your money on them.
HeroesHigh End Heroes (those with the most beneficial bonuses)
Vladimir - Vladimir gets a bonus to his Raise Dead skill, 1 Spellpower per level. 1 Spellpower counts as 25 Hit Points at Advanced level, which is a significant boost. He also starts with Summoning Magic, the spell Raise Dead (which is great, as sometimes the Necropolis Magic Guild doesn't get this spell), and the perk Master of Life, giving you an additional +4 Spellpower to Raise Dead. There really is no disadvantage to taking him.
Kaspar - Kaspar comes in tied for first. While Vladimir has the ability to cast a powerful Raise Dead spell, Kaspar can cast it twice per round for three rounds. That is, he can use his exceptional First Aid Tent (extra 5 Hit Points healed per level, which is significantly less than the 25 per level you get from Vladimir but the fact is Kaspar can do something else while his troops are being healed, for no Mana), which costs no Mana and can't be permanently killed because of Kaspar's skill. This also opens up the door to allowing your Ammo Carts to give bonus damage to your Skeleton Archers, since you have to take War Machines anyways.
Mid End Heroes
Lucretia - Lucretia is the master of Vampires. They get bonus Offense and Defense for every level she gains. Since Vampires are probably your best troops, this is a great advantage and would let your Vampires compete on a tier above them. The only problem is, and her major drawback, she comes with Sorcery. It isn't totally useless, but it keeps you from using that skill slot for something more useful and valuable. Magic Insight is the skill in that tree worth having.
Raven - Raven's Curse of Weakness fulfills my earlier wish of affecting their targets with Vulnerability. This means Mass Weakness is like casting both Weakness and Vulnerability on the entire enemy army. She also starts with both Basic Dark Magic and Basic Destructive Magic. This makes things a little crowded, but Destructive Magic is a good choice for Necromancers as they have very high Spellpower, and you aren't hurt too much as Necropolis Magic Guilds usually stock one Destructive Magic per tier until level 4, where there is only Summoning and Dark.
Naadir - The primary drawback of Ghosts is their cost. Naadir gets them for free in much the same way other Necromancers get Skeletons. You have to go through neutral battles and hopefully you win such encounters, and getting free Ghosts along the way. It is very recommended that you get Haunted Mines with this guy so that you can capitalize on your already large free Ghost stack. Also, Naadir starts with both Summoning and Dark Magic, which are both recommended anyways so his starting skills are complementary to your goals.
Low End Heroes
Zoltan - He blocks enemy spells AFTER they've been cast. The only particular use for this is to prevent an enemy from spamming Raise Dead (like you should be doing :)). Most battles don't include that many spellcasters, however. Zoltan's special just pales in comparison to most of the others'. He starts with Basic Enlightenment and Arcane Intuition, which has never seemed as useful as the Eagle Eye it replaced.
Orson - Orson's specialty is with Necropolis's least mobile unit. Since zombies rarely if ever attack anything and their primary purpose is to sit still and defend, it seems like a waste. He also happens to come with Defense, a skill that isn't suited to Necropolis. It isn't a bad skill, but it's one that could be better replaced. He's also butt-ugly.
Deidre - Deidre's initial build isn't bad at all, but it is her skill that makes her somewhat useless. Though the description makes it seem as if her levels make Banshee Howl more effective, all it does it make it last .25 rounds longer, per level. Since your Banshee Howl running out before the end of a battle isn't something that happens often, this makes her specialized trait a bit useless.