Some thoughts about Runemages and Fortress faction

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cjlee
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Some thoughts about Runemages and Fortress faction

Postby cjlee » Jan 15 2014, 15:42

I am basically posting this to spur some debate, because otherwise the forums are dead.

Recently I played the user made maps Fate of Ashan and Shadow Dreams again. These are maps with many different factions in play, so once again I got to see different factions in action on a very big map.

Once again I noticed how tough the Runemages were. Taking them down was incredibly hard. I have little doubt that in the hands of a minimally competent human, I would have lost.

Having played many, many maps before, I notice the computer can’t play a Runemage well enough to dominate. In a map of 6-8 factions, it is rare that I ever have a Runemage AI opponent become the toughest or most dangerous.

However, what would happen if a Runemage was controlled by a human?

Funny thing is, I have almost never encountered a human Runemage. I only remember one or two games many years ago, and I was able to crush my opponent. That was back when Heroes V HOF was fairly new still, and my friends were curious about trying the Runemage. We chose fairly small maps at random.

And this brings me to think about all the talk about Fortress being the most powerful faction.

No doubt Fortress is VERY DANGEROUS. In late game when you have accumulated lots of resources, rune spamming is terrifying. I never know what Runes my opponent may have, what abilities his troops can muster, and being able to do unexpected things like running across the battlefield in one shot, becoming ethereal and ghost-like, attacking all surrounding enemies, attacking without retaliation… they create havoc in my battle strategies. There is no way a straightforward faction like Haven or Stronghold can cause so much trouble.

All Fortress units are spellcasters, and they are capable of both casting spells and acting in the same turn, and they have spellbooks that are unpredictable, and they are not limited by mana or subject to any damage such as mana burst. Is that not terrifying?

But strange thing is, I am never truly afraid of losing to a Runemage.

I think the real reason is that the Fortress faction is difficult to play correctly. The AI can’t handle it, for one.

Runemages are also not likely to be played by humans, for the simple fact that they are not fun to play. Remember, when gaming with a human, your friend chooses a faction he likes playing; not the faction that is most likely to prevail. On a small map, you will often lose playing Fortress because your opponent will never let you get strong and rich enough. On a big map, humans don’t like playing Fortress because it is slow and annoying.

Granted, they are terrifyingly dangerous on very large maps with plenty of resources. But the reality is that:
1) Most humans don’t play Runemage because they don’t like to.
2) Runemages are perpetually behind on logistics. They can’t catch up. This makes it easy to escape from a Runemage opponent. Unlike a Demon Lord who can charge in and hit you hard, a Runemage opponent can't.
3) Runemages have poor stats. They can’t blast you to death with Armageddon or any power spells right away, which gives you plenty of time to whittle down their numbers before fleeing if they do catch you. In contrast, if a barbarian hero caught me and he had the usual high morale and divine guidance/ order of the chief combo, his forces might wipe me out before I had time to inflict painful casualties.
4) It is difficult and awkward for Runemages to get their ultimates. They can’t get high level summoning spells, for instance.

Runemages also have a huge disadvantage in being tied to their faction. Most factions don’t require both troops and hero to be of the same faction to function properly.

For instance, knight does very, very well with a defending Ancient Treant protecting archers + retaliation strike. In fact I prefer this combo over any Sylvan hero, since knight has excellent attack and defense and only requires modest light-magic abilities (cleansing, haste and divine strength).

Barbarian also functions tolerably well without his own faction. My favourite spell, Fear My Roar, works anytime with anyone who can be intimidated.

Warlock hardly needs his own troops (or any troops) to function. In fact, very often warlock’s own troops are a liability and just add to casualties. I prefer to use warlock with magnetic golems actually!

Wizards are generally good at creeping with anything. Morale isn't particularly important, so even a mix of undead and living is ok, for instance. The only time when a Wizard really needs his own faction, is at the final battle when you need every edge you can get and artifacts provide that edge.

However, Runemage and Fortress troops are stuck together. They can’t use runes without a Runemage. And Runemage is also quite useless without his troops. Due to his mediocre stats and abilities, he can’t use any troops well. So without having his own faction using Runes, Runemage gets nowhere.

What do you guys think? You probably play multiplayer far more than I do.

zaio-baio
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Re: Some thoughts about Runemages and Fortress faction

Postby zaio-baio » Apr 13 2014, 10:42

cjlee wrote:No doubt Fortress is VERY DANGEROUS. In late game when you have accumulated lots of resources, rune spamming is terrifying. I never know what Runes my opponent may have, what abilities his troops can muster, and being able to do unexpected things like running across the battlefield in one shot, becoming ethereal and ghost-like, attacking all surrounding enemies, attacking without retaliation… they create havoc in my battle strategies. There is no way a straightforward faction like Haven or Stronghold can cause so much trouble.

Use the arcane intuition perk, double click on his hero icon on the atb bar, then open the section with his combat abilities. There you can see all his runes and how much resources he has.
Those runes are strong, but they have weak spots too. For instance you cant activate rune of berserking if you havent lost at least one creature of the stack. Rune of etherealness and rune of dragon form can be mass cleansed.
A straightforward faction like haven or stronghold will actually have the upper hand against dwarves. Haven can train 4x palladin stack, and orcs can get both shatter dark and shatter light + resist fire and storm wind. Orcs can also abuse the "defend us all" perk that will provide them 960 goblins for free. Once they have over 1k goblin witch doctors they will be able to block any spell you cast (95% chance).
There is also the goblin knght strategy - thats a knight hero with last stand + guardian angel ability and a few stacks of 4 goblins. That hero cant lose - when you attack the goblins they will betray him and join your ranks, but the knight hero wont lose the battle. He will stay there with no army at all and attack you till you lose all your army or flee. Abilities that counter last stand wont work vs him either.
cjlee wrote:
2) Runemages are perpetually behind on logistics. They can’t catch up. This makes it easy to escape from a Runemage opponent.
3) Runemages have poor stats. They can’t blast you to death with Armageddon or any power spells right away, which gives you plenty of time to whittle down their numbers before fleeing if they do catch you. In contrast, if a barbarian hero caught me and he had the usual high morale and divine guidance/ order of the chief combo, his forces might wipe me out before I had time to inflict painful casualties.
4) It is difficult and awkward for Runemages to get their ultimates. They can’t get high level summoning spells, for instance.

2) Logs are important because they let you clear the map way faster then your opponent. A rune mage will always be way underfarmed then an opponent with logistics+warpath. Logs are also important for map control. You can also keep them till the final battle and then mentor them out for a might skill.
3) They have poor might stats when compaired to orcs or haven, but against other towns their stats gain is fine. Also a dwarven armageddonist will nuke you apart in no time. Its not so hard to reach 1k arma with the phoenix feather cape by week 6. The dwarves also have a good def + runes, so you better have the "resist fire" perk or the "shield of crystal ice" art.
Barberians will wipe you out with battlecry, retrubition, aura of swiftness and enlightenment. They are also the only heroes that can mentor out enlightenment without losing the + stats bonus.
4) Most of the ultimates arent worth it. You need to take plenty of crappy skills in order to obtain them.
cjlee wrote:Barbarian also functions tolerably well without his own faction. My favourite spell, Fear My Roar, works anytime with anyone who can be intimidated.

The vampirism spell will make any stack undead and immune to fear my roar. Its also provides a good amount of life steal.
cjlee wrote:The only time when a Wizard really needs his own faction, is at the final battle when you need every edge you can get and artifacts provide that edge.

You can use you main wizard hero to craft miniarts, and then mentor a knight hero to lead your academy army. That strategy will beat fortress, provided your mentored hero is about the same lvl as your main and you managed to visit all stats boosters with him.

Dwarfurious
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Postby Dwarfurious » Aug 24 2014, 9:48

Good read. I like a slow and powerful play style, and Dwarves tend to always deliver on it, no matter what universe or game, i love the reliability and consistency.
Reading the comments on the poll, seems like a lot of people never gave Fortress or chance or just outright try to discredit them, buncha elves.

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darkprinceh5
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Postby darkprinceh5 » Aug 24 2014, 19:19

On many maps, Fortress starting with Ingvar the Protector and Fortress starting with other heroes are two entirely different factions.


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