by Jolly Joker
It is important to note, that this guide was written for playing on very hard and impossible difficulty. Easier levels with more money and resources to start with allow a more aggressive style of play with more emphasis on early troop build-up, but it is strongly recommended to play at least on very hard and prefarably on impossible difficulty. If there is an abundance of resources and money as on the easier difficulty levels, the differences in built-up requirements for the different towns are obscured, although those differences are clearly part of the overall balancing of towns. For instance, it is rather obvious, that Dungeon has a great line-up with 3 flyers (6th and 7th level creatures included), 2 medium shooters and 2 grunts. Getting all creature structures on impossible difficulty is another matter. The Pillar of Eyes which gives Dungeon its 3rd level creature is a prerequisite for every creature dwelling thereafter. To build the Pillar of Eyes you need 1000 gold and 1 each of the six resources. On easier difficulties it is no problem to build this structure. On impossible difficulty you may find it impossible to build that structure in the first week, because with only a bit of bad luck you simply may not find a stack of every resource.
Having a fully built up town with all upgrades, you can recruit 2370 Hit Points per week, fourth most of all towns. (Rampart's got the most with a staggering 2650 HPs followed by Conflux with 2588 and Tower with 2420; Inferno has fewest with 2035.) You have to pay 24530 Gold + 2 C for them, so the average HP cost you roughly 10.35 gold which is fairly cheap. (The average Rampart HP which is cheapest cost 10.05 gold, while the most expensive is Inferno with 13.8 gold per HP). Those HPs do good Damage (on average 0.225 points of Damage per HP which is quite good). On the other hand those HPs have very low Defense Values, so they are vulnerable when defending.
Building up your town is cheap, but only moneywise. To get all upgraded creature dwellings (including fort, tavern, castle and capitol) you need 80200 gold (which is cheapest), but you need the most Ore of all towns (132), the second most Wood after Fortress (137) and a lot of Crystals (50). On the other hand you need only 5 Gems and no Sulfur or Mercury at all.
Building every structure in a Stronghold costs 92200 gold which is still cheapest. The resource demands grow correspondingly.
Your heroes are the Barbarian (Might) and the Battle Mage (Magic). The Battle Mage advances his primary skills almost completely balanced, while the Barbarian has a clear preference for Attack, while Power and Knowledge will be underdeveloped. A typical level 19 Battle Mage looks something like 7 5 6 5 (without artefacts and locations visits), while a typical Barbarian looks something like 12 5 4 3.
All Barbarians come with Offense as a secondary skill, all Battle Mages with Wisdom. Barbarians can't get Water Magic (they don't like water, hence their unwashed appearance), while Battle Mages are barred from getting Navigation. Barbarians will have trouble getting Diplomacy, Eagle Eye, Estates, Fire Magic, First Aid, Intelligence, Navigation, Necromancy, Scholar, Sorcery and Wisdom. The chances of getting Air Magic, Earth Magic, Learning, Luck and Mysticism are fair, while you will have no problems acquiring the remaining skills. Battle Mages won't get Estates, Fire Magic, Luck, Necromancy and Water Magic very often, while they will have no problems getting Ballistics, Eagle Eye, Intelligence, Logistics (highest probability), Offense, Sorcery and Tactics with the chances of getting the remaining skills being fair.
A Stronghold hero should have (based on probabilities): Wisdom, Earth Magic, Air Magic, Logistics, Tactics, Ballistics, Offense and Resistance. Resistance is most useful because this little gem will make sure that if the opponent casts a Mass spell on you (especially Mass Slow) NOT ALL OF YOUR STACKS WILL BE AFFECTED. This is quite important! (See Battling Forces.) On a map with predominantly difficult terrain Pathfinding may come in handy. If you have the chance to pick Water Magic (at a University or Witch Hut) go ahead and get it!
If you have a choice at all, hire Battle Mages and no Barbarians. Until they reach Level 10 they won't get any points in Spell Power or Knowlwdge (well, maybe one). It may seem, that you don't need a magically versed hero anyway because of the limitations of your Mage Guild, but that is not true. What you need desperately is Expert Air Magic, the Haste spell and Expert Earth Magic plus some points in Spell Power and Knowledge to a) make your spells last longer than one turn and b) be able to cast more than one spell. It comes quite handy, that Battle Mages are among the best Heroes available. Best choice is Terek, but Saurug, Dessa, Vey and Gundula aren't bad either.
You probably know, that it is VITAL to get the primary skills of your heroes up. What you maybe don't know, is, that until you have advanced Town Portal as a spell, YOU NEED AT LEAST TWO GOOD HEROES. One for exploration and conquering and one for the defense of your home base. One of the problems of playing on impossible difficulty is the fact, that you can't afford to take the experience, when finding treasure chests in the first week. This will leave your hero(es) at a disadvantage in primary skill advancement and acquiring of secondary skills. This means, you have to do anything possible to train your heroes. BATTLE EVERY FORCE, and be it only for 200 experience. Visit every location. Go for any Mills to get the extra 1000 (500) gold and the resources. Go for every artefact, but until you have the Capitol take only those that don't cost you money.
Magic is your blind spot, no denying it. You can build a 3rd level Mage Guild only, your might hero type has to struggle to get Wisdom at all, and your magic hero type will get only Air Magic and Earth Magic on average. So you have a goal in every scenario: Conquer a town type with a decent mage guild! You'll need the magic.
Apart from the 4th and 5th level spells Stronghold mage guilds won't get neither the two Necro spells Death Ripple and Animate Dead nor Curse.
The fact, that Barbarians won't get Water Magic at all and Battle Mages will get it not very often means, that YOUR HEROES WON'T BE ABLE TO COUNTER ANY OTHER MASS SPELLS THAN HASTE AND SLOW. So if an opponent for example (Mass) Curses your forces you won't have (Mass) Cure nor (Mass) Dispel nor (Mass) Bless available.
With only spells up to 3rd level available (and with enough resource problems to be stuck with a 1st level Guild for a long, long time), you have very few spells that will benefit you. Your most important spell is Haste (See Battling Forces). Slow is not bad either, Stone Skin and Shield will be good spells in longer battles. When attacking a town and facing shooter oriented forces like Tower, Dungeon or even Castle Air Shield may be of use (which is a Mass spell). Anti-Magic is always good to have in many situations and Earth Quake may come in handy once in a while when attacking a town as may Blind. Since you won't get Water Magic, Teleport is no important spell for you. If you get that spell there may be situations where it pays to Teleport your Behemoths right to their intended target (except when besieging a town), but don't count on it.
The Goblin and his faster Cousin, the Hobgoblin, is a fairly weak 1st level unit. It is, however, faster than most of the other 1st level units, and especially the Hobgoblins' great speed can be useful later in the game, especially since they come in masses. The snag is, that the upgrade will cost you 5 Wood and 5 Ore, and since you need Wood and Ore for the building of the other structures, you can't afford the upgrade early on in a game. You shouldn't buy Goblins early in the game. Let them accumulate and buy Hobgoblins later on, when and if you have money left (or if you have to sell some to get resources; see Build-up). With their speed of 7 great numbers of Hobgoblins are quite useful later on. If not stopped by the opponent they can either fight enemy shooters with hand to hand damage penalty, make first strikes against tough opponents to prepare the way for other units or finish off units already hit this round.
WOLF RIDERS/WOLF RAIDERS
The Wolf Raider shows both strength and weakness of the Stronghold. While the Wolf Rider is only a weakish medium fast 2nd level unit, the Wolf Raider is a fast attack monster that is extremely vulnerable when attacked itself. The problem is, you can't get the upgrade fast, because you need the Hobgoblin upgrade first (5 Wood + 5 Ore) and then another 5 Wood and 5 Ore, which you can't afford early in the game. It doesn't make any sense to hire Wold Riders because that means wasting a unit, that can be devastatingly effective if used correctly. So don't hire Wolf Riders. Once you have the upgrade get them in masses.
The great speed, the double attack and the relatively high Attack Value (that will get even higher due to the high attack values of the Stronghold heroes) makes Wolf Raiders dangerous for every unit. If making an initial attack with them, make sure that their first strike will kill at least two thirds of the attacked unit. This should ensure the complete destruction of the attacked unit. However, this is only theory. Practically, you won't get many opportunities like that, so you will have to make worse attacks. NEVER make an initial attack, when the Wolf Raiders kill less then one quarter (even better one third, but this may be a problem to obtain in many cases; see example below) of the attacked stack (you can lower this, when attacking shooters with hand to hand penalty). The retaliation would be too costly. They are best used against units that have used up their retaliation already. Even tough units will suffer against them, so don't hesitate to attack high level units with them provided they can't retaliate.
Let's have a look at the attack and defense capabilities of Wolf Raiders against high level monsters. 60 Wolf Raiders are facing 10 Scorpicores. Let's see what happens, when the Scorpicores' retaliation has already been used up. The unmodified Attack/Defense difference between them is -6, but since any Stronghold hero will have a higher Attack level than a comparable Dungeon (or any other town except Rampart and Fortess, for that matter) hero a Defense level, let's assume an Attack/Defense difference of 0 (this is fairly accurate). Both hits of the Wolf Raiders will do between 180 and 240 damage, so they will kill 5 Scorpicores on average, which is not bad at all. Let's see what happens, when the Scorpicores can retaliate. The first strike of the Wolf Raiders will kill most probably 2 Scorpicores, so 8 retaliate (the first strike will kill only 20%, this is not enough; see above). The unmodified Attack/Defense difference is 11 and since Stronghold heroes are not known for their high defense values this difference would be even bigger against an Overlord, but probably smaller against a Warlock. So let's keep it there. 8 Scorpicores will do 112-160 damage, modified to 173-248 damage killing 17 to 24 Wolf Raiders and maybe even paralyzing the rest. The remaining roundabout 40 Wolf Raiders will do 120-160 damage and kill another 2 Scorpicores on average. While in the second example the attack is still fairly successful, you have lost a third of your Wolf Raiders, which is nearly as big a loss as the opponent suffered.
Of course, if battling a Dungeon force, you may find, that the Evil Eyes are a much better target for your Wolf Raiders whether they retaliated this round or not. So now the 60 Wolf Raiders attack 45 Evil Eyes. The Attack/Defense difference is now +6 (assuming the same heroes than above), so the first strike of the Wolf Raiders does 234-312 damage killing 10-14 Evil Eyes (let's assume 12, which is slightly more than a quarter, but less than a third, so this is far from good). The A/D difference for the Evil Eyes is +5, so the remaining 33 EEs will do 124-206 damage, killing 12-20 Wolf Raiders (let's assume 16). The remaining 44 WRs will do 171-228 damage killing another 8-10 Evil Eyes. So the Wolf Raiders will have halved the enemy force, while losing a quarter of their own numbers (only; don't forget the Evil Eyes suffer no hand to hand penalty), which is just barely okay. Note, that every Stronghold hero will have expert Offense pretty soon adding 30% damage to all attacks! The secondary skill Armorer can counter this only partially, so the real damage will be higher in a situation like the above.
Since Thunderbirds and Ancient Behemoths move directly prior to the Wolf Raiders you may attack the unit they picked for their attack, unless this unit was decimated so much there would be a big overkill. The best way to utilize Wolf Raiders is to attack a unit AFTER this unit was attacked by Ogre Magi, but this is not easy to obtain. The Wolf Raiders have to wait for this, and this gives the opponent the chance to hit them.
You can increase the effectiveness of the Wolf Raiders by letting one stack of Ogre Magi cast Bloodlust on them, but that, too, means the Wolf Raiders will have to wait, and there won't be many situations where you can afford to do so (this is the result of your lack of magic initiative, see Battling Forces, below).
You are well advised to protect your Wolf Raiders against opposing forces. If you use them carelessly they will melt away like ice in the sun. Shield them with your own units, so that it is difficult for the enemy to reach them with his or her own stacks.
What all this means is, that Wolf Raiders are by no means low level cannon fodder (like Zombies, for instance). They have the capacity to HURT, so they are serious combat units that should be respected and treated as such.
The first one of two shooters, this is in reality a level 2 unit with beefed up Hit Points. You won't deal much damage with them, and 20 HPs for the Chieftains notwithstanding their low Defense Value assures they will go down the drain fast once attacked. When you build the Orc Tower, grade it up immediately, then, when and if you buy them, buy them in quantity. With a speed of 5 they are slow, and almost all units can wait them out, so they will do half damage most of the time, be it either because no enemy units are in range or they have to rely on hand-to-hand combat. Combined with Cyclops and in masses they are a threat, however, so an opponent might feel the need to go for them which means your Ogre Magi will get some action early on since you'll cover your shooters with them (see there).
Ogre and especially Ogre Magi are cheap solid Hit Points. Unfortunately the building requirements for the Ogre Fort are exceptionally high. Since it will cost you 20 Wood to build it, you probably won't get it until 3rd week. If and when you build it, make sure you have the resources to grade it up pretty fast. Don't waste your time hiring Ogres. Ogre Magi gain not only 50% Hit Points and one speed, they have the ability to cast Bloodlust on any allied troop once per round. When you integrate Ogre Magi into your army and you don't have 7 stacks, divide the Ogre Magi in two (or even more) stacks, where one stack should contain the bulk and the others should only contain 1 or 2 to cast Bloodlust on your units (or maybe even make profitable kamikaze attacks to eat up the retaliation). The high Attack and Damage Value of Ogres and Ogre Magi make sure they deal good damage. They are very good first strike troops, but unfortunately they are slow with their speed of 5 only. Obviously they are a primary candidate to cast Haste on them (if you have Mass Haste you will cast it rather sooner than later anyway), but if this is not possible for some reason, they should be placed between the Cyclops and the Orcs and act as bodyguards for them.
It should be one of your main concerns to get them into battle as soon as possible, because Ogre Magi are a real threat even for the weaker 7th level monsters like Ghost Dragons.
This is your most important unit. You will build the Cliff Nest in the first week no matter what difficulty you are playing. You don't even need to upgrade it (immediately), because the only difference between T-Birds and Rocs are the higher speed and the Lightning Bolt special of the former. In the beginning you don't need the speed 11 of the T-Birds, because the Rocs do have the critical speed of 7 (you can cross the battlefield in two turns which is vital for attacking shooters). You will build the Cliff Nest on day 6 or 7 (if you begin with the Wolf Pen you can build it on day 6) and hire all Rocs on day 1 of week 2. You will have at least 6 Rocs and that is enough to take on normal monster stacks like lots of 2nd level creatures and so on.
Once upgraded, the T-Bird is your fastest unit. It has no weaknesses (albeit the Defense Value could be higher), it is a flyer, so castle walls are no barrier, and when the special is triggered it has the damage potential of a 6th level creature. That said, it is clear that this is a multi-purpose unit. It has no rigid role in a Stronghold force. Since it is your fastest unit, it will strike either first or last in a turn, depending on your hero's command of Tactics and Mass Haste. If your ground troops can't reach the enemy in the first turn, your T-birds will strike last provided the enemy has more than a marginal force, because you will wait with them. This means, you will hit something with them that you can completely destroy or at least cripple beyond salvation. But beginning with the 2nd combat turn there won't be any reason to hold back. Since it is the task of your Behemoths to take out the biggest threat, you can concentrate on eliminating secondary threats with them, especially those posed by dangerous mid-level units like Crusaders or Vampire Lords. Remember, since you began production in the 1st week you will have a decent number of them, so you should be able to take on 5th, 6th and maybe even 7th level creatures provided you got a distinct advantage in numbers (the higher the level of the opposing creatures the higher the advantage should be).
It cost a fortune in Crystals to build the Cyclops Cave, and that collides with your efforts to build the relatively cheap Behemoth Lair early on. More often than not the Cyclops Cave will be the last creature dwelling you build in a Stronghold, so other towns will have more 6th level creatures available than you. First of all Cyclops Kings are a lot better than mere Cyclops. While the former do have a +2 on Attack Value, a +1 on Defense Value and 8 more shots, the real advantage is their speed of 8 compared to the 6 of the latter. Speed 8 makes all the difference. Cyclops Kings will shoot before every other regular shooter in the game except Titans, while there are quite a few shooters that will shoot before the simple Cyclops with speed 6. Compare what happens, when either Cyclops or Cyclops Kings face a dangerous non-shooter unit with speed 7 (the critical speed) like Naga Queens or Chaos Hydras or Greater Basilisks and so on. Against the Cyclops the Unit can wait, the Cyclops will fire one shot with half damage and then the unit will have a double turn and reduce the Cyclops to a half damage doing ground unit. Against the Cyclops Kings, the CKs can wait, the ground unit has to move and then the CKs will have a double turn getting off two shots with full damage. Big difference.
While this alone wouldn't be such a big advantage when having a complete Stronghold force to fight with, another big advantage is the fact, that the CKs can target castle walls with advanced Ballistics skill compared to the basic skill of normal Cyclops. Since you can - and often will - use your Cyclops as a second catapult to get down castle walls quickly, this is another big reason to upgrade them fast once you have them.
So once you have Cyclops, grade them up, especially because the upgrade doesn't cost any Crystals.
Make no mistake here. Cyclops may be the last unit you get, but you need them badly. While the forces of the Stronghold without the Cyclops are more than able to take on wandering monsters and enemy heroes on any normal terrain, once you begin to conquer fortified towns they are indispensable. All opponents, Computer or Human, will target them, so it won't be enough to bring in a few. 6 are an absolute minimum, 10 are better. Use them wisely. The damage done to enemy shooters behind castle walls will be halved because of range and halved again because of the walls, so a base damage of 200 will reduce to 50 which is clearly not worth the effort. If you get the chance at all (it's their turn and the enemy hasn't blocked them with either a flyer or a spell), target the wall in the first turn. Your Behemoths will thank them.
Behemoths are a unique unit because their special has the effect that no matter what attack value the attacking hero and what defense value the defending hero and the defending unit have Behemoths will do serious damage. Let's have a look at two examples: Ancient Behemoths led by a rookie Barbarian with an attack value of 4 attack Archangels led by a veteran Knight with a defense value of 20. The attack value of the ABs is 23. The normal defense value of the AAs would be 50 but the special of the ABs reduces this to 10! So 1 AB will do between 50 and 82 damage which is a lot considering the heroes. A Barbarian equal to this Knight might have an attack value of 21. In this case 1 AB does between 75 and 125 damage not counted the 30% extra damage for expert Offense!
On the other hand Behemoths and Ancient Behemoths have a low defense value meaning attacks on them will hurt even though the Ancient Behemoths have 300 HPs. Now, what this means is perfectly clear: You have to attack with Behemoths and avoid being attacked. Moreover they are the ideal unit to attack heavy critters like Archangels and Dragons. Unfortunately Behemoths are quite slow for a 7th level unit (only Hydras are slower) plus they can't fly which is a severe disadvantage when besieging a town. So it must be your main concern to get those beasts to a worthwile target and hit it.
The tips and hints given here focus on L and XL maps under very hard and impossible difficulty. Smaller maps and easier difficulty settings will concentrate more on troop raising.
If playing on impossible difficulty setting, you won't have any money or resources to start with (except you got the "bonus" there). So if you want to build something in the first turn you must move out with your hero and collect money and ressources. If you find a treasure chest, take the money. If you locate a Crystal Mine, an Ore Pit or a Sawmill take it immediately, if you have a decent chance. You will need Crystals, Wood and Ore en masse. On very hard difficulty you will recruit another hero on the first day and equip him or her with a spell book. Try to flag a second Ore Pit and a second Sawmill if possible.
If you begin with two towns, concentrate the build-up on one. Build a Town Hall in the second town as soon as possible, but then ignore the second town, until you have enough wood (which could take a while). Then build Mage Guild, Market Place, Blacksmith and City Hall. You can consider the further build-up of the second town, when you have conquered your first enemy town, but then it might be better to go on with that conquered town instead, because it will be fully (or nearly fully) built-up already.
Interestingly enough, the building prerequisites for the structures allow two completely different ways to build a Stronghold up. You'll need the Goblin Barracks for everything, but then you have two completely separate building trees: 1) Wolf Pen - Cliff Nest - Behemoth Lair and 2) Orc Tower - Ogre Fort - Cyclops Cave.
The first tree is the fast-attack tree. You need 13500 gold + 20 Wood + 25 Ore + 10 Crystals to build the first tree. The second tree is the shooter-plus-guard-tree and you need 6500 gold + 25 Wood + 25 Ore + 20 Crystals for it. While the first tree is a lot more expensive, it is the better tree to begin with (you need them Rocs). Another factor is that you won't have the necessary Crystals for the Cyclops Cave (and probably not even the necessary 20 Wood for the Ogre Fort) that early in the game.
1. Mage Guild level one (equip Barbarian(s) with spell book(s))
2. Town Hall
3. Market Place
5. City Hall
6. Wolf Pen
7. Cliff Nest
This costs 14500 Gold, 25 Wood and 15 Ore. On impossible difficulty you might not be able to build on every day and the building sequence might have to be changed due to money/resources shortages. However, you have to build the Cliff Nest in the first week. So, as 25 Wood are a lot, you may change the sequence as follows, when you are unsure if there will be enough Wood. Begin with the Town Hall and slip in the Wolf Pen as soon as possible. Since you won't need Wood for the Cliff Nest you should now be able to build it in the first week. Should you have gotten the Wolf Pen for free, build the Citadel on the 7th day.
Buy all Rocs on the first (and maybe second) turn of the 2nd week, equip one of your heroes with it (and nothing else) and flag all mines in the vicinity you haven't flagged yet. If playing on very hard difficulty you'll try to build Capitol and Behemoth Lair in the 2nd week. On impossible difficulty this might prove exactly that. Still it is right to go for the money.
You will have to build Citadel, Castle and Capitol. Try to build the Behemoth Lair as well. If that is not possible or if you have excess money and resources you can slip in Hall of Valhalla, Mess Hall and Orc Tower and Upgraded Orc Tower. The upgrading of the Orc Tower is not that expensive, so once you have the Orc Tower you will be able to grade it up fast. The Ogre Fort requires 20 Wood to build and under normal circumstances you may not be able to build it. You have to find some extra Wood to get this done, but should you have lots of Wood, but not enough money to build the Behemoth Lair, build it.
There is another interesting building that you may consider: The Freelancer's Guild. Since you will have a need for resources (Crystals!) and money as well, in case you have a few joins of wandering monsters with only limited use (undead troops, for instance, 1st or 2nd level troops in general, extremely slow troops like Stone Golems and so on) consider the building of the Freelancer's guild because you'll get money or resources for those troops. If you don't have joins it might still make sense to build the Guild, because you have a chance there to get desperately needed resources for troops, but:
The exchange rates of the Freelancer's Guild depend on the number of MARKETPLACES you own.
|With one Marketplace the exchange rates are:||With 3 Markets:|
|Goblin||12 G / 1/21 / 1/42||Goblin||20G 1/13 / 1/25||Hobgoblin||15 G / 1/17 / 1/33||Hobgoblin||25G 1/10 / 1/20||Wolf Rider||30 G 1/8 / 1/17||Wolf Rider||50G 1/5 / 1/10||Wolf Raider||42 G 1/6 / 1/12||Wolf Raider||70G 1/4 / 1/7||Orc||45 G 1/6 / 1/11||Orc||75 G 1/3 / 1/7||Orc Chieftain||50 G 1/5 / 1/10||Orc Chieftain||83G 1/3 / 1/6||Ogre||90 G 1/3 / 1/6||Ogre||150G 1/2 / 1/3||Ogre Mage||120 G 1/2 / 1/4||Ogre Mage||200G 1 / 1/3||Roc||180 G 1 / 1/3||Roc||300G 1 / 1/2|
|T-Bird||210 G 1 / 1/2||T-Bird||350G 1 / 1||Cyclops||225 G 1 / 1/2||Cyclops||375G 1 / 1||Cyclops King||330 G 1 / 1/2||Cyclops King||550G 2 / 1||Behemoth||450 G 2 / 1||Behemoth||750G 3 / 1||Ancient Behemoth||900 G 4 / 2||Ancient Behemoth||1500G 6 / 3|
2 Markets are in between this. Buying resources for money costs normally 2500G/5000G per Resource. This halves with 3 Marketplaces. So the exchange rates at the Freelancer's guild are much better than at a normal Marketplace, even though with one Marketplace this is not exactly a bargain.
Best exchange rates with 1 Marketplace give Rocs for Wood and Ore. If you don't want to sell Rocs (I wouldn't), take Wolf Riders. For Crystals it's still Rocs (2 Rocs for 1 Crystal), from the lower level creatures take Orcs.
With 3 Marketplaces (and there are scenarios where you do get 3 towns fast) best exchange rates for Wood and Ore give Ogre Mages (1 for 1). If you don't want to sell Ogre Mages, try Orcs. By far the best exchange rates for Crystals give T-Birds (1 for 1), but you may not want to sell them. Ogres give good exchange rates, too.
If you don't want to sell higher level creatures at all, simply sell Goblins or Hobgoblins. Normally you have a 1st level dwelling giving you 15 Goblins a week for free, so this won't seriously hurt your forces.
Of course, the Freelancer's Guild is no place to buy resources in masses.
If you don't have the Behemoth Lair, yet, you will build it now. While the build-up of the Stronghold is fairly clear-cut up to this point it's in the third week that you will have to make most difficult building decisions. The Resource Silo won't give you additional Crystals which are your most pressing problem because you need them to build the Cyclops Cave. You'd like to upgrade your Wold Riders (not to mention your Behemoths), but even though the price of 1000 Gold + 5 Wood + 5 Ore is moderate the snag is that you'll have to upgrade the Goblin Barracks first which costs exactly the same. So the real upgrading price is 2000 Gold + 10 Wood + 10 Ore which is not that much moneywise but a lot in resources. The Cyclops Cave not only costs 20 Crystals, it costs 20 Ore, too. You may not have been able to raise the necessary (20) Wood for the Ogre Fort. Plus the Behemoth Upgrade costs 10 Wood and 10 Ore, too (apart from the 20 Crystal and the 15000 Gold). All that means, that you most probably won't be able to do all of this during the 3rd week.
Since it is advisable to get that Cyclops, forget the Behemoth upgrade for this week. It is improbable that you'll have 20 Crystals in the course of this week, so you will have to exchange freely on the Market(place) and in the Freelancer's Guild. You can exchange all Sulfur and Mercury and all Gems except a few needed for the Ogre Mage upgrade (the day you upgrade it you'll need 5). Forget the 2nd and 3rd levels of your Mage Guild. You'll need the Crystals elsewhere and those spells won't help you that much anyway.
Making sure you'll have the necessary 20 Crystals and 20 Ore for the Cyclops Cave sometime in the 3rd week, what should you upgrade provided you have extra Ore? The Orc Tower in case you haven't done that already, because it is cheap and a reasonably good upgrade. Note that all other upgrades cost 5 Wood and 5 Ore (except the Ogre Magi, but those 5 Gems won't be a problem, and the ABs, but you won't be able to do that). While the Wolf Raider upgrade is your best, relatively speaking, it requires the Hobgoblin upgrade and that is your worst upgrade, again relatively speaking, so it's not advisable. If you have the Ore for one upgrade take the Ogre Mages. Should you have the Ore for two upgrades take Ogre Mages and Cyclops Kings.
Grade up the rest of your Dwellings. See to it that you can get the Ancient Behemoth upgrade. Again, exchange resources freely on the Market Place and in the Freelancer's Guild. You'll need even more Crystals for the buying of the Ancient Behemoths, so the Mage Guild won't see the 2nd and 3rd levels, but again, you won't have that much use for them 2nd and 3rd level spells anyway.
Your fastest unit is the Thunderbird with a speed of 11. So with the exception of Tower (depending on terrain and who is the attacker) in later stages of a scenario the opponent will always have the Initiative, meaning the opponent may cast the first spell or can make sure, that it will be he who casts the last spell in a given battle round. However, there is a big advantage here, too. Since your slowest unit(s) have a speed of five the speed difference between your fastest and slowest unit is only 6. The Mass Haste spell gives every unit a +5 in speed (note, that Terek's special is the Haste spell, meaning, once he reaches a given level the gain will be higher; the lower the unit level the lower the level required for Terek to do this; note further that your slowest units are levels 3 and 4). This translates to the following: Your T-Birds have speed 11. Once it is their turn and you cast Mass Haste the speed of your SLOWEST unit will be 10 (and in Terek's case often 11 or even 12 and more). This in turn means THAT YOU WILL USUALLY BE ABLE TO MOVE ALL OF YOUR UNITS IN A ROW WITHOUT GIVING THE OPPONENT THE CHANCE TO GET A MOVE IN. If he has a unit that would be entitled to move in between your units, you will have a chance to destroy it, before it may move. Having Tactics (on any level) obviously helps here, because you may not only place the units a bit futher ahead (allowing your Ogre Mages and Hobgoblins to reach the enemy lines), but you will be able to use terrain to your advantage. For instance, there may be a big rift on the battlefield dividing it into a lower and an upper half. Placing all your units now, say, on the lower half and attacking all enemy units there might effectively shut out most of the surviving enenmy stacks because of a blockage.
Another thing to consider with Expert and even Advanced Tactics is placing your shooters up front to go inside the 10 hex limit provided you can cast Mass Haste once it is your turn and chances are that the opponent has got no nasty surprises for you.
Note that the opponent has no way to deny you the Hasting of your units! However, he may have ways to COUNTER you. He may have Tactics himself, for example, denying you the right to deploy your troops as you like. And he may cast a spell immediately. Lastly he may have some artefacts making it more difficult for you, especially speed-enhancing ones. (The Orb of Inhibtion is not really a threat, isn't it?)
Let's have a look at the situation from the opponent's point of view. You are facing a Castle force (not in a town). Say, you have a Tactics advantage and are able to arrange your troops. Now it is the opponent's turn with the Archangels and he has not that many choices. The first one is simply waiting with his AAs and hope you don't have expert Air Magic (or maybe he simply doesn't know what he's threatened with). Since his second fastest unit has speed 9 it's your turn with the T-Birds, and now Mass Haste enables you to move with all your forces and wreak havoc. But suppose the opponent does know what may happen and fears it. Of course he can cast a spell right away, but what can he cast profitably? Raw damage? No problem. Mass Slow? No problem either in case you have Resistance or because you deployed your troops outside the normal range of his troops (except the AAs) and outside the 10-hex-range of the Marksmen and Zealots. He can fire with his shooters, but then it's you again. Blind? Now, that might be nasty, taking the Behemoths out, but now YOU have the initiative and can cast Mass Slow, for example, and then Cure or Dispel on the Behemoths at the beginning of the next round. There are only 2 dangerous spells and those are: 1) Mass Haste. He takes the initiative immediately and casts Mass Haste attacking all out. He can attack now with some of his units (but not all) probably doing a lot of damage, maybe crippling you beyond recovery, but you wouldn't have been able to do anything about that in the first place. On the plus side you now have the magic advantage and may be able to cast Mass Slow as soon as it's your turn. 2) Mass Prayer. This is like 1), only more devastating, because the enemy will deal more damage right away (and you less), but once again you wouldn't have been able to do anything about it in the first place, so why worry?
So what you definitely need when playing Stronghold is the Haste spell with expert Air Magic and Tactics, and I would advise you to get Resistance, too, which is not that difficult to get. (Note again, that Terek is your premier hero; he comes with Tactics and the Haste special, meaning he is equipped with the Haste spell right from the start, so you are not dependent on your Mage Guild to get that spell!)
Besieging a town is, of course, another matter. The Mass Haste/Tactics combination doesn't work (at least not immediately) because of the Castle Walls and the Moat. You have one flyer and two shooters to attack with immediately, but that won't suffice to take out any town more than marginally defended. So you have to get down the Castle walls real fast. Advanced or Expert Ballistics is definitely a plus! The Earthquake spell cast on expert proficiency would help, but chances are you won't have it (no 3rd level Mage Guild). Teleport on expert proficiency would help, too, but chances are you won't have it either with the added minus of not having expert Water Magic much more often than having it. So use your Cyclops (Kings) to shoot holes into the wall. Should one of your stacks has been crippled badly in a previous fight, get rid of it and divide your Cyclops (for besieging only; on clear terrain divide the Ogres)! You should be able to blast a hole into the wall immediately. Wait with all your units except the Cyclops. Don't cast a spell too early. The opponent might blind the Behemoths and you can't tolerate that. As soon as there is a hole in the wall move the Behemoths into the moat and right before it. If the Behemoths are there you might even be able to make a profitable attack with the T-Birds as your last action of the battle round. The opponent might even have squandered his spell or has a weak hero without any Mass spell capabilities. Go ahead and cast Mass Haste (or Mass Slow).
The Stronghold move order is normally: T-Birds, Ancient Behemoths, WolfRaiders/Cyclops Kings, Hobgoblins, Ogre Magi/Orc Chieftains. Provided you can profitably cast Mass Haste and can attack with all units in a row this means there won't be any Kamikaze attacks using up retaliations because the potential Kamikaze stacks Hobgoblins and Ogre Mages (that would be no Kamikaze stack at all, but because of their sturdiness they are well suited for a first attack) are slowest. Therefore it is a good idea to place the Cyclops Kings left from the Wolf Raiders so that they attack before them. This gives you an option to weaken a potentially tough stack some before attacking it with the Wolf Raiders. Don't allow enemy stacks to survive in small numbers. They kame to good Kamikaze stacks to eat up retaliations.
Some Stronghold heroes will change this move order due to specials: Gretchin will push the Hobgoblin's speed to 8 (and later on to 9) allowing the Goblins to attack before the Wolf Raiders (and later on even Behemoths) which is good (so you will deploy Cyclops Kings left most, then Goblins, then Wolf Raiders with her); Tyraxor will push the Wolf Raiders speed to the speed of the Behemoths (and above) allowing the Wolf Raiders to attack before the Behemoths which is NOT recommended. So you should deploy Behemoths left from the Raiders.
Terek will change the move order completely. For example, after a level 14 Terek casts Mass Haste, speed is as following: T-Birds 17 (+6), Wolf Raiders 16 (+8), Hobgoblins 15 (+8), Cyclops Kings 14 (+6), Ancient Behemoths 14 (+5), Orc Chieftains 12 (+7), Ogre Mages 12 (+7). While this allows you more flexibility in the initial deployment (you can deploy farer away from the enemy) you have to move now Wolf Raiders and Hobgoblins before Behemoths. This means, your Wolf Raiders will more often continue the attack of the T-Birds.