Inferno Strategy

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Inferno Strategy

Postby {CH}ArticleBot » Jun 16 2006, 15:10

You are probably already familiar with Infiltrator's Dungeon Guide, which has gone through a complete revision already. But you might have missed Bandobras Took's thread about the Inferno at the Round Table: it's a very detailed analysis of the might-oriented town that is easy to play, but difficult to master. The new article is now on Celestial Heavens, along with a couple of screenshots. Find out about the Inferno abilities, the best skills to pick up for your demon lords, tips to minimize the losses of your troops and what the best heroes are. Special thanks to Mr. Took for his great work.




What is the Inferno?

In the Heroes 5 world, the Inferno is a happy-go-lucky
bunch of servants of Chaos bent on general destruction, degradation, and
corruption. Usually, this is to be accomplished by setting the world on fire.

Gameplay-wise: the Inferno is probably the most
might-oriented of the factions. Boasting one flyer, one shooter, and one
spellcaster, you’ve got a whole lot of ground-pounders. The Demon Lord mainly
gets the Attack Attribute, and of the two magic attributes, Knowledge is far more
common than Spell Power. Magic that relies on Spell Power
(Destructive/Summoning) is not going to be that great, leaving you with the
Buff/Curse branches (Light and Dark Magic). Of those two, Light Magic just
isn’t going to show up much in your mage guild. This is somewhat unfortunate,
the Demon Lord who can get his hands on Mass Divine Strength will shore up a
weak point of the Inferno: their massive damage range. But I get ahead of

Inferno Abilities

The primary Inferno ability is fairly straightforward:
Gating. A creature stack can call forth another stack of its kind. Increased
levels of Gating improve both the amount of creatures summoned and the level of
the creature stack that can summon (i.e. Basic Gating is limited to
Familiars/Overseers, Advanced enables Cerberi/Mistresses). Gating is great for
blocking enemy shooters, clogging up lanes on the battlefield, getting troops
behind castle walls, and, most importantly, stealing retaliation. Normally, it
uses up a stack’s full turn and takes a whole turn for the new troops to
arrive, but certain skills, buildings, and abilities can mitigate this.

The secondary Inferno abilities are:

Consume Corpse: Replenish your spell points with a
dead stack on the combat field. Not only do you get a cool animation, but this
also eliminates the possibility of said stack being hit with Raise
Dead/Resurrection. Combines with Sorcery to give you Soulfire, which can damage
all stacks around the Corpse being consumed. Also Combines with Logistics to
give you your best friend in the world, Teleport Assault. More on that later.

Hellfire: Each stack has a chance to do bonus fire
damage when it attacks (the amount of damage is based on the Hero's Spellpower.
I have heard that it is also based on the creature's stack size, but in actual
play that effect seems negligible.). This is
considered part of the physical attack itself, so it won’t automatically
penetrate insubstantiality. This also drains mana from the Demon Lord when it
occurs, which is a good reason for the Demon Lord to Consume Corpses in his/her
spare time. Combines with Light Magic to give you Fire Resistance (not that
it’s worth taking Light Magic just for that). It will combine with Destructive
magic to do even more damage (but your spell power doesn’t really justify
taking Destructive magic), and will combine with Defense to give you Hellwrath,
which enables Hellfire on retaliation strikes as well (this one’s useful).

Mark of the Damned: High Initiative, High Morale
stacks getting you down? This is the Inferno’s far more effective version of
the Haven’s Retaliation Strike. That one triggers when one of their own troops
takes damage, this one triggers whenever the target stack does anything other
than sit or move. Not only that, but it combines with Dark Magic (the only
magic you’ll likely be taking) to cast Weakness on the stack, and with the
Attack Skill to give you chance at Double Damage. The troop that springs to
mind here is Blood Furies – the only thing saving their hides is their No
Retaliation, and Mark of the Damned neatly cuts through that. Incidentally,
does anybody know how this one works in conjunction with an opposing Griffin’s
Battle Dive? Hmmm . . . something to test. This ability also triggers when a unit retaliates,
so it can be used to swiftly cut down units with unlimited Retaliation. This is especially
true if you use Gated stacks to trigger it. It also combines with War Machines
for a free Earthquake spell, but you’ve already got Brimstone Rain at that point
and don’t really need to waste your Hero’s time breaking down castle walls.


It's a little hard to take a screenshot of Mark of the Damned in
action, but the combat results speak for themselves. My original
army is visible in the lower left of the screen.

As for the normal skills, they are (and listed in order of

#1 Logistics:

Hands down the best skill for the Inferno Hero. Moving
further by itself is no bad thing, but through Pathfinding, you get to Swift
Gating. The vital thing here is that Swift Gating affects the time the
summoning stack takes; instead of spending a full turn, Gating with this skill
is the equivalent of a “Wait” action. (Urgash's Call, the Inferno Ultimate, affects
when the Gated Troops arrive. This exponentially increases the tactical possibilities
of Gating.) That time is
vital to a well-running Inferno army. I’ll even at times Gate Succubus
Mistresses rather than start shooting immediately, as it’s not the loss of a
full turn.

Swift Gating and Consume Corpse lead to your very best
friend in the world: Teleport Assault. The value of this skill is not so much
in the teleport spell as in its ability to adjust initiative. A useful way to
think of it is the Demon Lord sacrificing his turn and movement to give it to
one of his slower stacks. The two candidates that spring to mind for this are
Horned Overseers in the early game (they’ve got enough hitpoints to cheerfully
withstand anything on the other side of the field, but are usually too slow to
be effective) and Pit Lords in the later game (the enemy will expect fireballs
and space his troops apart rather than Turtle. Then you calmly Teleport your
Pit Lords over there and beat the Hell (pun intended) out of him with a massive
stack of Vorpal-Wielding L6s).

Image Image

the Marksmen are going to have a clear shot at my Cerberi right after Agrael's turn: not a good thing. However, with Teleport, the problem's remedied. The Pit Lords can
be teleported so that they will block the Marksmen and at the same time attack the Archangel (shown in Teleport Assault Example II). Note the Pit Lords' shift in initiative; they get to go right after Agrael.

Because of the versatility of Teleport Assault and the
efficiency of Swift Gating, not to mention the strength of the basic skill,
Logistics is the number one choice for the Demon Lord.

#2 Luck:

And this follows close on the heels of Logistics. With so
many creatures relying on physical attacks, any pump's a good one. It’s two
secondary skills, though, that really make this one shine.

First of all, Soldier’s Luck. Both your Nightmares and
Hell Chargers have a wonderful no-retaliation ability, but it will only trigger
sometimes. It happens a lot more with Soldier’s Luck. Also I believe (but have
not confirmed – if someone can verify or contradict this, I would appreciate
it) that it also affects the chances of Hellfire happening on a strike.

The other one to pay attention to is Swarming Gate (from
Soldier’s Luck, funnily enough) this can drastically increase the amount of
Gated creatures. Unfortunately, this one is based on the Hero’s Luck, so I
don’t think Soldier’s Luck will affect it, but it happens often enough to
really make your opponent wince.

Unless you’re really eager for Urgash’s call, Magic
Resistance or Resourcefulness will probably serve you in better stead than Dead
Man’s Curse.

#s 3, 4, and 5 (and here you can kind of choose
between them.)

Attack: Offering you the chance to boost your base
damage with Battle Frenzy, this one serves the Inferno’s numerous lower level
creatures well. Excruciating Strike is a welcome if Erratic addition to Mark of
the Damned. Power of Speed is a different if somewhat dispellable version of
Teleport Assault; its main purpose is to increase a stack’s initiative
generally rather than to immediately move it to the top of the pile. Succubi
are strong enough that you don’t really need archery, however. Tactics is a
good option instead of Power of Speed if you’ve got Teleport Assault and aren’t
looking for Urgash’s Call.

Defense: Lowering the damage your ground-pounders
take can only be a good thing. Evasion is great for letting them survive ranged
attacks, while Hellwrath (given by Evasion) helps to ensure that a stack is
dishing out more than it’s taking while retaliating, too. Stand Your Ground
isn’t going to help much; if your stacks are defending instead of attacking,
something’s gone wrong. Vitality is good choice to buff up vulnerable Cerberi
and oft-targeted Familiars.

War Machines: With no access to Resurrection, the
First Aid Tent proves surprisingly efficient in troop preservation if you
invest the skill slot. The other two should, of course, go to Catapult and
Brimstone Rain (three shots with the Catapult, heavy damage) – with a lot of
walkers, you want castle gates down ASAP when you do go after a town. Catapult
also has the added advantage of repairing the Ammo Cart after battle, and
you’ll want one of those for your Succubi. A more offensively oriented person
can profitably take Ballista instead of First Aid. A little more ranged support
doesn’t hurt. On no account should you take Tremors; Brimstone Rain does the
job and doesn’t blow your Hero’s turn.

#s 6, 7, 8, and 9 (good, but not as great/and or
effective as the preceding five):

Dark Magic: The spell school you’ll have in your
Mage Guild, this one also supplements the Mark of the Damned through Weakening
Strike – which you’ll use to lower the attack of fast-moving, repeatedly
hitting stacks. The various “Masters” are all good choices, but Dark Magic
tends not to work on the Undead/Mind Immune, making the value of the Basic
Skill low. You’ll need it on you path to Urgash’s Call, but it’s not as helpful
or vital over the long haul as the previous skills.

Enlightenment: Stat bonuses are great, as is the
experience, but not precisely crucial. The biggest advantage here is in the
late game, going with Scholar-Arcane Exaltation-Dark Revelation for a free
Level when levels do not come easily.

Sorcery: Its main effect will be to give your Hero
turns more often. On the other hand, this can be counterproductive with Mark of
the Damned. It will also help mainly if you’ve built a spell-slinger, so if
you’re going for Dark Magic, make sure to pick this one up as well. If you’re
in to adding insult to injury, Soulfire is definitely the way to go, though. Major
style points for winning a battle with a corpse bomb.

Leadership: The main effect is good, but the
secondary abilities are more suited to a secondary hero. Gate Master, on the
other hand, is very nice, but you have to take Recruitment to get it, which
won’t suit your main hero at all. With Teleport Assault/Power of Haste, the
increased initiative Morale brings isn’t as vital.

#s 10, 11, and 12 (hoo boy, have fun with these if
you can)

Destructive Magic: This one has possibilities, but
I would still maintain that Dark Magic is a better way to spend your time;
you’ll never attain the capacities of the Necromancer or Warlock in this area.
If you’re foredoomed to it (Grawl comes to mind) go with Master of Fire-Searing
Fires for the bonus to your stacks’ Hellfire damage.

Light Magic: Give it up, man. It’s over. This is
not a focus of your mage guild. If you’ve got it, go for Master of Blessings
for mass Divine Strength, overcoming your troops’ damage range. Fire Resistance
through Master of Abjuration is a bit pricey. Magic Resistance and/or
Protection are better ways to go.

Summoning Magic: Too Spell Power-dependent. Summon
Phoenix/Elemental may be cool, but your troops ought to be summoning extra
stacks anyway.

And Speaking of Troops


The meat shield of the Inferno. Now, please recover from
your laughter and I’ll explain what I mean. The Imps and Familiars have a mana
stealing ability that is based on their stack size – the more they are, the
more they steal. It will not be unusual for an enemy spellcasting hero to
target a large stack of Familiars first thing – left on the field, the
dramatically foreshorten the lifespan of the spellslinger. They benefit greatly
from Battle Frenzy, of course, and aren’t too bad for L1s. Gating helps them
against early Ranged units.

Demons/Horned Demons:

If you don’t get Teleport Assault, you’re usually better
not buying these or feeding them into the Sacrificial Pit for experience. Low
Initiative and Low Speed do not an effective ground troop make. However, if
you’ve got Teleport Assault, they turn from a worthless L2 into a gem. Their
immolation ability (effectively a one-shot “ring of fire” spell – damages
everybody around them but not themselves) and relatively high hit points make
them ideal for breaking up the standard “shooter in the corner and guarding
walker” that I’ve seen and used myself. Note also that they have spectacularly
high growth and are extremely cheap, even upgraded. Just make sure you have a
means of actually using them in combat.

Hell Hounds/Cerberi:

Hell Hounds are fast, damaging, and fragile. Expect
casualties both from retaliation and from enemy obsession. The upgraded
version, with no retaliation, an arc attack, and better speed, is far more
enduring. The No Retaliation and ability to hit multiple targets do make up for
what is otherwise a very mediocre damage range. With Tactics and/or a
speed-enhancing artifact, can cross the field in the first turn and start
decimating “turtle” formations. High upgrade priority, but not the highest.
Very good at hit-and-run tactics.

Succubi/Succubus Mistresses:

Considered by many to be the best and the backbone of the
Inferno; it’s hard to disagree. The unupgraded version has ranged retaliation,
making opponents want to close in with melee troops (who can then be happily
pounded upon by your own melee troops). The upgraded Succubus Mistresses
“chain” attack is brutal; acting as Chain Lightning except upon Inferno troops.
On that note, random joiners are better fed to the Sacrificial Pit than left in
the ranks; the Succubus Mistress makes no distinction between friend and foe,
only demonic and non-demonic. With a chain ranged-retaliation, your opponent
will likely be wishing he’d picked up the Ballista skill just so it wouldn’t
target the Mistresses. And speaking of War Machines, you’ll definitely want to
bring along an Ammo Cart as well as the Expert War Machines skill. Note also
that they benefit from the Hellfire ability; it’s not limited to your melee

Hell Chargers/Nightmares (and whatever other names
they’ve had):

On a side note, the upgrade is definitely female (“mare”),
but I’m not sure what gender the unupgraded version is. Could this be a
reversal of the Rani/Raja controversy? Image

Whatever you call them, they’re flat-out good. Either
version has a chance at a no-retaliation attack that also shoves the target
down the initiative bar and makes them move out of place. The upgraded version
adds more speed and initiative, as well as a demoralizing aura which can wreak
havoc on the enemy, causing key stacks to rarely take a turn. Able to cross the
battlefield in one turn, this is close behind the Succubus Mistress in my vote
for vital upgrade. Also comes with a Horde Dwelling for enhanced creature
growth, adding to the terror.

Pit Fiends/Pit Lords:

The Inferno spellcasting unit; the unupgraded version is
tough and had a couple of useful spells. Once that’s out, though, low speed and
low initiative make them almost a non-presence, unless – you guessed it,
Teleport Assault. Suddenly they’re in the face of the enemy and cheerfully
mowing down whatever wants to try and kill them. The upgrade is very worthwhile,
adding Meteor Shower to the arsenal of spells while permitting an efficient
player to instead if they choose cast two Fireballs. Also comes with a handy
ability called the Vorpal Sword – the top creature of any stack is
automatically killed. This differs from Harm Touch (undead L6 special) in that
it allows retaliation, but also does normal damage. Pit Lords + Teleport
Assault is the Inferno’s answer to Summon Phoenix. Mistresses, Nightmares, and
Pit Lords form the heart of the mid-to-late game Inferno army.



Unfortunately, the Inferno’s Level Seven troop is too
expensive for what you’re getting. It is a flying troop, yes, but Gating
invalidates in large measure the need for a flier. Their speed isn’t all that
great, and their damage range, while it can put them in the top of the L7s, can
also put them in the top of the L6s. Unless you’ve got Ultimate Gating, they
can’t gate, and Summon Pit Fiends only works if 1) you’ve got a dead stack,
which you should be striving earnestly to avoid, and 2) you’ve actually spent
the money to upgrade them, which is hardly worth it. Save your money and
upgrade your other troops, buy some secondary heroes, whatever. Devils are too
expensive for what you’re getting. Even the 666 joke in their cost is done
better by the Hell Chargers/Nightmares.

Special Buildings

The Infernal Loom increases the amount of Gated
Creatures by 5%, and adds some nifty Succubus Statues to your town hall if you
can actually see it past the Fort and the Tavern. Any increase in the
percentage of Gated creatures is welcome, and this cheap and early structure is
always worth getting.

The Sacrificial Pit (exchange creatures for
experience) is a prereq for the Castle; otherwise, there are better things to
spend your money on. Many people, since you have to build it anyway, advocate
putting your Demons in each week in order to help you level up. If you haven’t
gone with Teleport Assault or are now planning on using Teleport Assault
primarily with your Pit Lords, this can be an effective use of low-level
troops. ImageSomewhat akin to the “Zombies to Skeletons” philosophy of Heroes
III. This is also the best place to put your random joiners, as your Succubus
Mistresses will hit non-demonic joiners with the Chain ranged attack.

Of the two Horde Dwellings, the Nightmare Horde
Dwelling is more useful. More Demons means more experience, but the Sulfur is
better spent elsewhere. Demon growth is high enough by itself anyway.


(in order of preference and a brief explanation
of why):



Starting Skills:

Logistics & Pathfinding

Grok is my number one choice. A logistics specialist will
be running circles around the opponent. He starts with teleport, enabling your
demons to serve as ranged-attack blockers from day one. He’s also only a few
levels from Swift Gating and Teleport assault, and, if you’re so inclined, he
has a relatively clear path to Urgash’s Call.


Iron Maiden

Starting Skills:

Advanced War Machines

Deleb is many people’s number one choice; her special
ability grants a Fireball effect to the Ballista. A veritable master of
early-game clearing, she turns into a castle-breaker later in the game, with
Ammo Cart-enhanced Succubi along for the ride. It’s better to choose Ballista
than First Aid with her.


Gate Keeper

Starting Skills:

Luck & Magic Resistance

Luck is not a bad secondary skill to start with, and
Swarming Gate works beautifully in conjunction with Nymus’ specialty, which
increases the number of gated troops based on the hero level. I was at times
getting 100% of my original stack with Nymus. Does anybody know if it’s
possible to get more than 100%?



Starting Skills:

Basic Sorcery & Magic Insight

It’s not so much her secondary skills as the fact that
Succubi become even more terrifying under her command. Starting with Sorcery
should have you seeking for Dark Magic as soon as possible so that her skills
do some good.


Spell Resistance

Starting Skills:

Defense and Protection

If spellcasting stacks have you down, Marbas is your man
(demon?). The Magic Resistance specialist also starts with the Magic
Damage-reducing skill of Protection. A viable path to Hellwrath will have
Marbas’ normal troops mixing it up with the best of them and shrugging off


+1 Luck

No Tactics Phase for opposing Heroes

Starting Skills:

Attack & Tactics

Nebiros is the “monkey wrench” hero. The opponent gets no
chance to optimally arrange his troops, while Nebiros enjoys an increased range
on his own troops' placement. The automatic bonus to luck is welcome, but
nothing he does really improves with levels, leaving him with a rather static hero
special. Attack is still a fairly good starting skill, on the other hand.


Hound Master

Starting Skills:

Advanced Destructive Magic

The Cerberus special is decent enough (though far
outstripped by Jezebeth’s Succubus special), but Advanced Destructive Magic?


Mana Drain effect added to Confusion spell

Starting Skills:

Sorcery and Mana Regeneration

Alastor wouldn’t suck nearly so badly if Marbas’ Magic
Resistance weren’t a more generally useful special or if Alastor actually
started with Dark Magic rather than having to nab it on a level-up. As it is,
he can mana-drain opposing spellcasters once he manages to get a mass version
of the spell (for multiple neutral stacks) and enough levels. Of course, that’s
only going to really be useful in later levels of the game and against a
spellcaster that makes you worry and that you won’t be able to grind into the
ground normally by that time. I’ll pass.

Dirty Tricks

Only one, so far, and that's using Phantom Forces to Gate
more troops. Very mean. On the other hand, getting Phantom Forces may or may
not happen.

Anyway, those are my thoughts on the Inferno, and a few
are undoubtedly incorrect, and I will welcome corrections/clarifications
thereon. In the meantime, I congratulate those of you with the patience to read
through this rather long-winded and picture-free analysis. Once more maps and a
slightly better AI come out, I'll offer some observations on Inferno vs. other

Town Specialties

Something rather new to Heroes V is town specialties. It's a nice little "Ace in the Hole" at times to have an unexpected ability on your side. With no map editor I haven't been able to determine the effects of all of these, but here's the general idea:

Siege Towns

  • Ur-Raag: Possible additional luck penalty for the opponent in sieges.
  • Ur-Kurgan: Bonus to tower damage in sieges.
  • Ur-Henoch: Morale penalty for the opponent in sieges.
  • Ur-Kharg: Unknown; some defensive bonus?
  • Ur-Chardros: Troops receive additional bonus to defense primary stat in sieges.
  • Ur-Melphas: Walls are harder to break down in sieges.

Discount/Economic Towns
  • Ur-Tarsh: Heroes cost 250 gold less to hire.
  • Ur-Vramin: Thieves' Guild reveals better information even without money (i.e., under gold, you can get "masses" instead of "???")
  • Ur-Gorthol: Ammo Cart only costs 750, not 2250.
  • Ur-Korsh: Weekly bonus to Crystal.
  • Ur-Toth: Weekly bonus to Gems.
  • Ur-Sphaal: Better Marketplace Rates.
  • Ur-Mangor: First Aid Tent only costs 500 Gold.

Creature Growth
  • Ur-Ischin: +2 Imp Growth.
  • Ur-Shangor: +1 Hell Hound Growth.
  • Ur-Vesphaal: +1 Succubus Growth.

Without a map editor, I don't know whether this list is comprehensive. Nor can I effectively test the abilities. But knowing what you're starting town will do for you can help you determine the course of your game from day one. Jezebeth in Ur-Vesphaal might be enough to make any man sweat . . .

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