Battle Mages and other useless troops...

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Jay
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Battle Mages and other useless troops...

Postby Jay » Jun 2 2008, 17:15

Okay, I've been playing ToE for awhile now, and I've a question to those more in-the-know than I regarding a few select troop upgrades from across the factions. Basically, I was wondering if anyone knew exactly what benefit these particular upgrades had over the other alternates since I as yet have done nothing but hurt my army by having them. Here we go...

1) Battle Mages; aside from the fact that they look pretty tough, why would anyone opt to have these guys over the Archmage? Seriously, their spellbook is a joke and aside from being able to do a few more hit points worth of damage in melee I'm just not seeing why you'd want these guys. Aren't they supposed to have some kind of dampening field that protects neighboring stacks from damage? Doesn't stop my guys from getting fried by a fireball or a chain lightning spell...

2) Elemental Gargoyles; so one of their benefits is... a vulnerability to all things elemental? Huh? Lest this aura of theirs is supposed to extend to those they are attacking (which I haven't seen), wtf?

3) Goblin Witch Doctors; they carry a tambourine and jinx enemy spellcasters maybe 5% of the time if their luck is good. Other than that they're even more useless than regular Goblins (whose attack is much cooler... witch doctors do damage by kicking people in the shins)

4) Vampire Prince: They're pasty and can be retaliated against. Anything else I should know?

5) The other Pit Fiend upgrade (name escapes me); so they can't cast spells and they're just as slow as Pit Lords. Armor aside, why would you want a bunch of demons that might be able to do some damage if they can mosey across the battlefield fast enough to catch up to everyone else?

I'll think of more later, but if anyone could fill me in on what bonuses these otherwise pointless upgrades have that I'm not taking advantage of I'd appreciate it...

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Postby AngelEyes » Jun 2 2008, 18:04

I won't comment on the others, but I happen to like Vampire Princes. They are quite powerful in large numbers and they have the torpor ability, which is great when it triggers.

Plus, since you're a Necromancer, you should be adept with Dark Magic and hopefully you have Mass Confusion. That takes care of any retaliation worries. ;)

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Postby PhoenixReborn » Jun 2 2008, 18:19

I'd say it's fairly common sense-ish.

The elemental gargoyle does in fact make units around it more vulnerable to destructive magics and gargoyles are tough to take down quickly. So you want them in the enemy ranks...I still don't use them much myself.

Well the Archmage fireball stinks after a couple weeks. Why not shoot a little harder. The magic thing protects touching units from getting hit by the shot so you can turtle them.

Anything the barbarians can do to prevent spells helps, one puppet master averted could be victory.

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Postby blizzardboy » Jun 2 2008, 19:12

Battlemages are good if you're fighting a highly magic resistance enemy hero. Plus if it's a long game and you can't really afford to keep your archmages in multiple stacks anymore, it can be nice to have Battlemages for their better attack even if their spellbook is poor.

I don't play Necromancer pvp since I think it's an overused faction, but I know just from experience fighting them that Princes can actually be a worthwhile choice. Lifedrain +no retaliate is a wicked combo, but that Torpor ability has lost me the game before. You just got to get a bunch of them.

Pit Spawns are brutal units if you can get them into combat. If you use Teleport Assault or Divine Guidance (preferably teleport assault) to get them moving they can be wicked. It's just a matter of negating their crap initiative.

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Postby Metathron » Jun 2 2008, 20:06

Howdy Jay,

I understand where you're coming from with those upgrades, some of the ones TotE brought were pretty perplexing to me.

The Battle Mages especially due to the confusing (=unintelligible) description of their special, which basically means that if one of your own troops is standing on any of the squares adjacent to the battle magi it will not get fried. But as soon as one of your units moves away from the immediate vicinity of the magi it will be in danger of getting caught in friendly fire. It sounds pretty "meh" but it's quite useful for the turtling technique where you put your gremlins and magi in a corner and surround them with gargs.

Anyhow, I'd say that a lot of the upgrades can be divided according to usefulness as being better in early to mid game, or being better in mid to late game. The archmagi fit into the first group since you can afford to split them into a lot of stacks early on, and the battle magi into the second when most of your army slots will be occupied with your other creatures and the one group of magi will be much better off shooting than casting.

I'd say something similar for the goblin upgrades. I think the witch-doctors' ability (as well as the trappers') depends on the stack size, and for early creeping I'd say the trappers have a definite edge, whereas the doctors are better for encounters with enemy heroes that you're likely to run into a bit later into the game (depends on the map), and I will always choose them for castle defense in case of a siege.

Pit fiends & et al... Same thing goes as with magi, early on I'll go with the first upgrade and have them in several stacks to cast fireball/meteor shower, and later I'll regrade them to the second upgrade and have them as fighters (and they're pretty damn sturdy too!).

Elemental gargoyles - what others have said, but I don't use them for some reason, perhaps I'm just too hopeless at bringing them into a good spot to make use of their vulnerability.

Vampire princes - I like these guys, I don't know whether torpor is more likely to trigger with higher numbers or by picking Soldier's Luck? In any case later on it seems to trigger more than if you have only a small stack of them, so it seems that yet again we have the early-mid/mid-late game divide.
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Postby yuritch » Jun 3 2008, 8:47

Elemental Gargs do wonders with Circle of Winter and Mark of the Wizard - put Mark on them and cast 2 Circles that do +50% additional Cold damage at once without damaging the Gargs themselves. Not so good with other Destructive spells, but still usable (their aura effects Archmage's Fireball too, so with many small stacks of Archmages and a stack of Elemental Gargs you can do some serious Fire damage).
Vampire Prince's ability does depend on their numbers (more precisely it depends on the ratio between Vampire stack total HP and target stack total HP) and benefits from Soldier's Luck, they can be devastating late game with their high speed and better max damage than Vamp Lords.

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Postby Panda Tar » Jun 3 2008, 19:37

blizzardboy wrote:I don't play Necromancer pvp since I think it's an overused faction, but I know just from experience fighting them that Princes can actually be a worthwhile choice. Lifedrain +no retaliate is a wicked combo, but that Torpor ability has lost me the game before. You just got to get a bunch of them.


I play with princes just as much as I play with lords. It's like I don't find anything really different between them. It must be because I always have a lot of them. Torpor is useful too...
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Postby blizzardboy » Jun 4 2008, 3:26

If we want to talk about now useless units, let's talk about the Marksmen. You're looking at a choice between the crossbowman with the no range penalty, or the marksmen with precise shot. Precise shot can make the marksmen do some pretty amazing damage up close, but come on, who wouldn't rather have the no range penalty? That's such an invaluable ability. And haven is kind of geared towards charging to the enemy because of cavaliers and their tier 4 and 7 flyers, so you're not gonna be sitting around waiting for them to come to you besides your squires. Besides, what do you usually want to shoot with your range units? Other range units or casters. And where are they at the entire fight? On the other side of the map.

I guess I can see Marksmen being better in certain situations. Like whenever lizard riders or nightmares frolic over to your side of the map right away, you can point blank them in the face with your marksmen. But overall, it's all about the crossbowmen.

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Postby Metathron » Jun 4 2008, 8:24

The marksmen are seriously inferior to the crossbowmen, and desperately need some kind of boost, but I am unsure what that could be exactly.
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Postby konfeta » Jun 4 2008, 16:22

The arty that gives your shooters no range penalty makes Crossbowmen obsolete. Marksmen can be used to own ludicrous amount of neutrals if you play them well.

The upgrades aren't meant to be equal to each other. They are meant to be useful during different stages of the game. Early on, Archdruids owns. Later on, High Druids will easily give your hero 20 spellpower in 1 click (just mass knowledge) which you then promptly combine with Imbue Arrow + Rain of Arrows or Imbue Ballista.

Point is, "useless" troops, with some exceptions where they are actually bad, were designed with different tactics or different game-stage in mind.


*P.S. High Druids + Findan + Imbue Ballista/TripleBallista/FlamingArrows + Divine Vengeance = the most unholy amount of damage you saw in your life. This combo can easily take on the bugged 20k shadow dragons Nicolai.

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Postby Metathron » Jun 4 2008, 17:41

I don't see how the Unicorn's Bow makes the crossbowmen obsolete. They'll still have a point of attack more than the marksmen, and frankly I don't care for the marksmen's specialty one way or the other.
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Postby danhvo » Jun 4 2008, 20:28

They need to give Markmen a better damage range than Crossbowmen. Right now, they both do 2-8 damage, and that's not right. Either increase it to 3-9 for Markmen, or reduce it to 2-6 for Crossbowmen. The Crossbowmen would still be superior normally, but with the Bow, you'd have a reason to use Markmen. I agree that the Markmen's Precise Shot ability has a very limited use.

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Postby Metathron » Jun 4 2008, 21:00

Another unit that I also NEVER use are the master gremlins, but in contrast to marksmen people actually praise them for some reason. I can't for the life of me understand what is so great about resurrecting golems twice during battle, when there are so many better tactics out there, and the saboteurs are superior in every way.
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Postby PhoenixReborn » Jun 5 2008, 2:57

My 2 pence.

Marksman are great for taking out level 7 stacks in the first or second week. Last stand and some surrounding peasants works wonders. The precise shot allow them to do excellent damage.

Master Gremlins are for one the enemy one shots your ballista with cold death. Sure, maybe it's fairly limited and not so effective...

I'm liking the no=retal vamps better.

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Postby konfeta » Jun 5 2008, 10:35

I don't see how the Unicorn's Bow makes the crossbowmen obsolete. They'll still have a point of attack more than the marksmen, and frankly I don't care for the marksmen's specialty one way or the other.


1 point of attack is a drop in the water when your hero gets buff. The Marksmen, on the other hand, have an option to annihilate a single stack should your enemy is forced to get units close to them. Plus, there is always the idea that Marksmen seem less dangerous and the enemy player is less likely to wipe them out ASAP as opposed to Crossbowmen.

Crossbowmen are superior for killing most neutrals and small scale engagements. Marksmen are superior for killing heavy melee neutrals that would otherwise send your casualties through the roof, and when you give them Crossbowmen's main advantage.

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Postby Metathron » Jun 5 2008, 15:08

There's just too many ifs (which, I reckon, includes a whole lot of loading) involved with the marksmen. The bottom line is they need a boost to be able to compete with the crossbowmen in more than just a few limited situations.
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Postby blizzardboy » Jun 5 2008, 16:13

Agreed. I don’t see why we should even be taking a rare artifact like Unicorn’s Bow into account when it comes to unit balance. It’s a rare artifact, which means you’re rarely going to see it, and you’re almost never going to see it in any of the common pvp maps.

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Postby Macros the Black » Jun 5 2008, 16:39

Someone should write a guide about alternative upgrades.

Some upgrade choices I don't really get:
Master Gremlins v. Gremlin Saboteurs: First off, the Saboteurs' statistics are alot better (more attack, defense AND initiative 8| ) and their ability is a whole lot more useful.
Masters can repair catapults and balistae, yeah, but when are you ever gonna need that? Even in castle sieges, I've never seen a situation where the enemy attacks your catapult. It's just not gonna be destroyed before the enemy walls. And if you focus on your ballistae, the same can be said about that.
On the other hand, if you face an enemy with imbue ballista/tripple ballista/flaming arrows/ring of machine affinity/etc, and your gremlin saboteurs can prevent that ballista from firing.. That's the best thing ever. Or stopping a catapult in a town siege? Gremlin Saboteurs are invaluable, and Master Gremlins can't even be compared to them.

Obsidian v. Elemental Gargoyles: the Elementals seem nice, but their problem is that anytime I use them they're dead before they even make it to the enemy. Really only ever choose them if I'm facing Stronghold and can be certain their ability won't be used against them. They need more initiative, imo.

Djinn Sultan v. Vizier: the Vizier is alot better, imo. Okay, so it has 1 attack and defense less, but everything else beats the Sultan. It's got a bit more health (not really important), it's more magic proof, it's immune to lightning, and it's got Wheel of Fortune instead of the annoying Random Blessing/Curse thing which usually doesn't do what you want it to do.

Titan v. Storm Titan: maybe there's just something I don't get here, but it seems to me that Call Lightning is only useful is very few situations (mostly to prevent being retaliated to), whereas Stormcaller is very useful to break open tight formations.

Black Dragon v. Red Dragon: the only use for Red Dragons I can see is against Stronghold heroes. Using it against any other enemy is suicide. Even Light Magic has a spell that can take advantage of them not being immune; Divine Vengeance. You'd probably use these guys against neutral stacks, were it not for 3 things:
1. Neutral stacks usually don't matter anymore by the time you have dragons.
2. If they do, you usually don't want to put your dragons in action anyway against neutrals (don't want to loose even one of them most of the time).
3. There are too many neutrals that can cast spells, it's hard to predict wether you're gonna meet caster, shooters or walkers.
So what's left is an alternative upgrade that's far less useful than it's black variant, and you'll only ever choose him if you're going against Stronghold. Sure, magical immunity is a curse as well as a blessing, but it's a blessing alot more than a curse imo! And Incinerate just doesn't beat it.

Familiar v. Vermin: Okay, the choice here obviously depends on wether you take Pit Lords or Pit Spawns. If you go with Pit Lords, you take Vermin. If you go with Pit Spawns, you take Familiars. Right? Wrong. Demon heroes rarely not have enough mana. And if they do, they just eat a corpse. So it doesn't really matter, which means you'll basically always pick Vermin over Familiar.

Succubus Mistress v. Secuder: okay, I always thought the Succubus Mistress was one of the best creatures in the game. Ranged chain fire attacks coupled with ranged retaliation? Superb.
But the expansion changes everything. Seducers are so much better than Mistresses. They have an ability that equals the best spell in the whole game imo. How could a Mistress ever compete with that?

Pit Lord v. Pit Spawn: So Pit Spawns are supposed to be fighters instead of casters.. But there's two problems:
1. Blade of Slaughter is not as good as Vorpal Sword, unless you're using them to attack low level creatures which usually aren't a threat anyway if you're playing Inferno.
2. Their speed is too slow to be useful as fighters.
3. Pit Lords have two very powerful spells, which makes them invaluable to your army.
So in the end.. why ever pick Pit Spawns unless you've got Teleport Assault?

Arch Devil v. Demon: Less initiative and speed v. more health and defense. Obviously Arch Demons are meant for a less aggressive playing style. The one less point in speed adds up, though. It means they júst can't reach far enough for a good first attack. Teleport other would be useful if it could be used against enemy ranged units, but for that to happen they would need to get close enough to be exposed to enemy walkers, and they don't have enough iniative or speed to safely do so. And they can't even summon pit lords anymore either (and remember, if you have expert gating, those summoned pit lords can also gate themselves). The choice here should be obvious.

Emerald v. Crystal Dragons: I really don't get this one. The Acid Breath does the same thing as Prismatic Breath, and Crystal Dragons loose immunity to earth. Their statistics are also worse than Emerald's. Their damage has lower minimum and a higher maximum, meaning they might be useful if you have the spell that used to be called Bless (can't think of the name atm, something with "Strength"). But even then the difference is minimal, and you're probably better off with Emerald Dragons. So what's the point in ever choosing Crystal Dragons?

Sky v. Earth Daughter: Sky Daughters get more mana, defense and Chain Lightning (which takes two turns to use, as you have to sacrifice a goblin first). Earth Daughters, on the other hand, are most of the time your strongest units, usually even better than Executioners/Chieftains. They're just incredible. I don't see how the Sky Daughter is supposed to be their equals.

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Postby Metathron » Jun 5 2008, 17:12

@Macros

I agree that Stormcaller is better than Call Lightning, but the damage it does is meagre and I would never think of sacrificing my titans' turn to use it. Come to think of it, if I were the opponent (i.e. the one with the tight formation), I wouldn't bother to split my units up, unless they were non-shooters/casters and moving meant getting closer to the enemy. Point is, both these special abilities stink and the titan upgrades need some variety!

As for the red & black dragons, even though you provide valid reasons in favour of the blackies, I must confess I'm partial to the red fellas. In single player, the AI rarely chooses to harm them with spells, and casting spells on them (Vampirism; Divine Strength, Haste, Regeneration...Does anyone else love Light Magic with Dungeon??) is just heaps of fun, and in this respect the blackies fade. But I'm sure it's a whole other matter when you're up against a live & cunning opponent.

Pit Lord vs Pit Spawn: Early to mid game the lords are better IMHO, middle to late game...well, the spawns rule, because a single stack of pit lords does really puny damage with their spells when compared how much they could do in melee, and I don't have the room to split them up anymore either, especially as they are large creatures.

Emerald vs crystal dragons: their specials are actually not the same. Prismatic Breath works like the Thunder Thane's lightning attack, it depends on luck (which I will pretty much always have with Slyvan) and may hit lots of units. So to me, these upgrades need no tweaking, or nothing major at least. I use them both equally.

Earth vs Sky: I agree, there is no competition, Earth sweeps the ground with Sky. :D The only situation where Sky is potentially better is in a siege where castle walls prevent most your units from moving to attack your enemy, so the Sky daughter will be able to cast chain lightning. But that isn't anywhere near enough, they need an additional edge.

But are we seriously going to get a patch for this game? Wasn't there mention of it right after the game was released? I guess they're just big fat liars or I'm just being a pessimist thinking a (non-critical!) patch is unlikely to arrive 9 months after the game's release.
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Postby konfeta » Jun 5 2008, 20:45

Well, I don't know, Marksmen won me a couple of games in TotE, mostly because I cleared stacks that would make pre-nerf Deleb weep in terror.


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