To be honest, it might be a bit early to discuss the best strategies when playing the Heroes of Might and Magic V factions. With the open beta under way and the possibility of seeing the game delayed a little, the creature statistics and their abilities are very likely to change before the game goes gold. However, testers who just installed the game might need a little help getting started, especially since the game includes no documentation at this point. Infiltrator took care of the task and wrote a very detailed strategy guide for the Dungeon town. He discusses the pros and cons of the town, describes all seven creatures and explains how elemental chains work. The article originally appeared on the official forums, but the new version you will find here has been edited and decorated with a few screenshots. Thanks to Infiltrator for his good work -- we hope he will play with the other towns as well.

The Dungeon is the Warlock town - a Magic-oriented faction of Dark Elves. Since we do not have two classes per town like in Heroes III, only one archetype is available and it's reasonable to expect that the hero would be a Magic User like in Heroes II. The Dungeon has its own characteristics - its creatures are mostly tough, expensive, and low in numbers. You have to be very cautious in picking your fights, especially in the early game, because your weekly unit generation is extremely low and a false step might cripple you in the long run. The creatures themselves are very diverse, and I’ll cover them in detail later. The Warlock’s primary skill is Invocation, which enables you to cast direct damage spells against creatures that are otherwise immune or resistant to them. Of course, the skill does not permit you to do the full spell potential, but if raised to the Mastery level, it will enable you to effectively dispose of, say, other Black Dragons with your spells. Remember this only works for Destructive spells (which is the Warlock’s primary school). From the Invocation, the basic abilities for the Warlock are:

1. Dark Ritual - Recharges your mana pool completely at the expense of a full day's movement. The Warlock is much more likely to get a Spell Power increase than Knowledge when he levels, so having an ability to Recharge without a Well before a tough battle is useful. Also, this ability unlocks a second ability available only to Warlocks.

Secrets of Destruction: Adds +2 to Knowledge and adds a new random level 1-3 Destructive spell that you do not already have in your spell book. This is very useful in the beginning when you don't have much mana or a level three Mage Guild.

2. Empower Spells - Makes your Destructive spells 50% stronger but doubles the mana cost to cast them. This is a tricky ability that you need to employ at the right time and under the right circumstances. If you are beginning and have a small mana pool, you'd best avoid this ability until you are ready to sustain the high cost of the spells. Later in the game, it is essential.

3. Elemental Vision - Enables your hero to see elements associated with creatures. This ability is a requirement for the second Warlock special and defining property, Elemental Chains, which I will discuss later.

You will find other interesting abilities for Warlocks that are not directly related to Invocation, but are quite useful. For example Lucky Spells, a Luck ability only accessible by the Warlock, will enable luck rolls to apply to Destructive spells you cast--definitely worth having. It also affects Chaotic Spells, which are available only to Warlocks and Wizards. It branches from the Sorcery skill and will lower the mana cost of spells by 0-50% during casting, so after you cast a spell there’s a high chance that it will consume less mana than it would normally require. (Regardless, you will need to have the normal mana amount to cast the spell.)

Because of the Warlock’s affinity for Destructive magic, I’m including some information about that school since you will most likely need it to unleash the full potential of the Warlock. Destructive Spells come in 4 elements - Air, Fire, Water and Earth. The only exception is the Magic Missile, which currently acts as a hybrid now but, as far as I know, is intended not to have any association. Spells are as follows:

Level 1 - Magic Missile (No alignment), Stone Spikes (Earth)
Level 2 - Ice Bolt (Water), Lightning Bolt (Air)
Level 3 - Frost Ring (Water), Fireball (Fire)
Level 4 - Chain Lightning (Air), Meteor Shower (Earth)
Level 5 - Armageddon (Fire), Implosion (Earth)

I'm sure you are familiar with the effects, so I'll go directly to the abilities that augment these spells. Since every skill has 3 basic abilities, one element is excluded from any side effects. Here it's the element of Earth and no side effects result from casting Meteor Shower or Implosion. The abilities that do matter are:

Master of Lightning - Improves the Lightning and Chain Lightning Spells, adding a Stun property to anything they hit. What this means is that a unit will be pushed back in the ATB bar at the beginning. As a result, it's more effective against slow units or units that are about to have their turn.

Master of Ice - Improves Ice Bolt and Frost Ring spells, granting Freeze effects to their targets. Freezing basically holds a unit in the ATB bar. In practice, it's most effective against fast units, regardless of where they are in the ATB bar, and a bit less effective against slow units.

Master of Fire - Improves Fireball and Armageddon spells by making them shatter the armor of the opponents, reducing their defensive values. Just like the Disrupting Ray, each consecutive attack from these spells will lower the defense further.

That's about it regarding the Warlock Hero and his general use. However, these are only the basics, and you’ll have much more to learn about the skills and abilities once you study all the possible Skills, Abilities and Creatures.

Speaking of creatures, the Dungeon has a very special fellowship of Dark Elves, Reptiles, Hydras, and Dragons. The units themselves are few in numbers but strong, as we see with the first unit...

The Scout is by far the strongest level 1 unit in the game, boasting a huge 15 HP, but to compensate, you get very few of them and they are very expensive in comparison to the other level 1 units. They can either attack with a ranged crossbow attack (with very limited ammo of 5) or fight in melee mode with no penalty. The upgrade, the Assassin, has the Scout’s arsenal plus a Poisonous attack that does damage to the target unit each time it gets a turn. The damage is based on the number of Assassins attacking. The poisonous attack succeeds 100% of the time, both in ranged and melee combat.

Conclusion: Strong all-around unit that can adapt to any situation.
Strength: Poisonous attack, strong melee.
Weakness: Limited ammo.

The Shadow Witch is an aggressive skirmisher. It's easy to spot the resemblance to the Harpy from Heroes III. They are essentially the same unit, except that the Shadow Witch isn't able to fly. She walks over to an opponent, strikes, and goes back to her original place. The upgrade, the Blood Witch, in analogy with the Harpy Hag, gets attacks that do not allow retaliation, making her an excellent harasser. Still, she is quite weak. Spells and ranged units will kill her quickly unless you can somehow avoid them.

Conclusion: Offensive oriented unit that deals a lot of damage and acts often.
Strength: No retaliation, very fast, strike and return, dominates slow melee creatures.
Weakness: Very weak vs. ranged or casting enemies, return and strike isn't so useful vs. those foes either.

The Minotaur Slave has undergone perhaps the most cosmetic and balance changes so far. He's only a level 3 unit, but his offensive power has been boosted considerably and he always has positive morale. The big bonus comes when you upgrade to the Minotaur King, who gains an extra attack. Two attacks from a Minotaur King will often deliver either a serious or fatal blow. However, you might want to soak up any retaliation before attacking with the Minotaur Kings, since they aren't as tough as they used to be.

Conclusion: Slow creatures that pack a punch, ideally used to intercept fast units that are going for your Scouts, Witches, and Matrons.
Strength: Deal lots of damage (especially the Minotaur King) and never cower in battle.
Weakness: Slow units, average damage resistance.

The Raider is both fast and tough with many tactical uses. For one, he has a charge much like a Champion, but with a little difference: instead of increasing his damage, the charge lowers the enemy’s defense for each square traveled. This makes charging more useful vs. units with high defense. The Royal Ravager has another nifty ability, the Lizard Bite. Each enemy adjacent to the Royal Ravager that you strike with your melee units is bitten by the Mounted Lizard, resulting in a normal attack without a charge. Thus just placing a Royal Ravager near a unit and following up with a Blood Witch attack will result in 2 of your units attacking the enemy without any retaliation. Another useful synergy is employing the Minotaur King’s double strike near a Ravager, triggering the Lizard Bite twice.

Conclusion: The prime Dungeon cavalry unit, meant to quickly cross the field and deal with the enemy ranged units.
Strength: Charge attack, Lizard Bite, and high mobility.
Weakness: Weak when confronted by tough melee creatures.

The Hydra, once the top unit of the Fortress, is back in the Dungeon as a level 5 unit. The Hydra is a truly gigantic unit now, as it should be, and extremely tough for level 5. Both the Deep Hydra and the upgraded Chaos Hydra have retained the previous ability to attack multiple targets without retaliation. However, the Deep Hydra can only attack 3 opponents at once, while the Chaos Hydra can attack all enemies around it and will regenerate its entire HP each time it gets a turn. This brings us to the problem - getting to the turn. Hydras are still VERY slow units, and you can be sure they will wait for everyone else to have their turn before acting.

Conclusion: Extremely tough and, if properly placed, damaging unit. The Hydra is an imposing creature like before.
Strength: Multi-headed attack, no retaliation, regenerating, and, extremely deadly – especially with Teleport.
Weakness: - Slow. Very slow.

The Matron is the only spell caster unit in the Dungeon army, having an alternative Shadow Bolt attack that allows her to act as a ranged unit. She currently packs 3 spells - Bloodlust, Slow, and Disrupting Ray. Slow is her most important spell as it will be cast with maximum efficiency (but not in mass) and will delay the creature’s turns significantly. But the real power comes from the upgrade Matriarch when she gets the Forgetfulness spell in her book. Not only will it cripple the enemy’s ranged units, but it also lowers the retaliation damage, making it ideal for softening up the first retaliation of an unscratched level 7 creature. The Matriarch also has a chance to cast a random malefic, non-damage spell on any enemy unit struck in close range. However the chances of casting a stronger spell are less likely than casting a weaker one.

Conclusion: Strong ranged and spell casting units that can buff their allies or weaken their foes.
Strength: Forgetfulness and Slow spells are good choices most of the time, the ranged attack is strong as well. Enemy will hesitate to melee against the Matriarch.
Weakness: Bloodlust and especially Disrupting Ray won't be used as much.

The mighty Dragon is once more the top of the Dungeon army. The Deep Dragon is resistant to all damaging spells, halving all the damage taken from them, while retaining the ability to incinerate two foes at once with its breath attack. The Black Dragon, which epitomizes the Dungeon army, is an extremely tough and damaging unit, immune to all spells. The spell immunity grants him total freedom regarding spells versus all foes except other Warlocks. A fast unit, he is often the first to fly over the field and smoke those unfortunate enough to be his victim.

Conclusion: Still the toughest dungeon units, useful vs. any unit in any situation.
Strength: Spell Resistance, Spell Immunity, and Breath attack. Black Dragon is especially fast.
Weakness: Spell Immunity prevents you from resurrecting or buffing the Black Dragon, but it's a price we are used to paying for the other luxuries they offer.

There it is, the complete Dungeon arsenal, a mighty bunch indeed. It's now in your hands to use them, coupled with the Warlock spells, to wreak havoc on anything that stands in your way. And to do that, you'll need to attack the enemy creatures in a certain order, because doing so will maximize your damage. I'm talking about Elemental Chains, the second Warlock special ability, which makes your creatures deal multiple times the normal amount of damage. Read on to find out how this complex ability works.

There have been a lot of questions and arguments about this ability, mostly because it isn't well documented. You are just told you have the Ability to detect chains – thanks to Elemental Vision - and the corresponding structures in your castle. Apart from that, you are left on your own to figure out how this ability works. Here’s everything I've discovered so far.

The Basics:

Every creature has at least one element bound to it at the beginning of a battle Un-upgraded creatures have one element, while upgraded ones have two. During the course of battle, a creature that possesses only one will gain another if it is attacked. I’ll explain this later.

To see the chains, you need to have the Elemental Vision skill under Invocation. I suggest you get this ability ASAP since it also boosts damage output, if combined correctly.

However, seeing a creature’s elements doesn't do much by itself, and doing complete chains in the early game will be tough. In order to do incomplete chains, you need to have the Altar of Elements in your town, which requires a level 1 Mage guild. The description just says something like it supports the elemental chains ability, and allows blowing unfinished chains for 1/4 of damage. What is a complete or incomplete chain, you ask? I'll explain soon.

The Practice:

Say you've got the first 2-4 unit tiers from the castle, the Altar of Elements built, and the Elemental Vision ability. You are ready to lay down and blow up some chains.

Here's how it works, as briefly as possible: to build up a chain, you need to attack a creature that has the same element(s) as the attacker. When you attack, the element of the attacked creature changes or remains the same depending on the attacker, but it gains 1 elemental "combo" point. That means that the chain can be blown for the minimal damage if you attack with an opposite element. Remember that the element of the creature you attack are dynamic based on what you've attacked with before, so think out plan ahead and watch for the ATB bar to know exactly what elemental chains you will be able to stack/blow after you land your current attack.

How do you build up and blow chains? When the attacker and defender share at least one element, an attack will change the defender’s elemental alignments to the attacker’s and give it one elemental chain. An example: your Shadow Witch is up on the ATB bar. You look at her elements - Air and Earth. The creature you are attacking has no chains built on it and has two associated elements - Earth and Fire. When you attack with the Shadow Witch, the creature’s elements become Air and Earth. Also one chain is built because the Shadow Witch and the creature started with one element in common - Earth.

So the creature now has one chain built on it, and its current elements are Air and Earth. How do you blow it up? Simple. Attack it with a creature associated with the opposite elements, Water and Fire - A Minotaur King, for example. He deals double damage, blowing up the creature’s elements, resetting the combo counter to 0, and now associating the creature with his elements, Water and Fire.

Alternatively, you could attack with a creature that has a element in common with the new ones. For instance, a Black Dragon with Air and Fire. This builds a second chain. Now attacking with an Assassin, who has Water and Earth, the damage would have been three times stronger, and so on. Note that attacking a creature that has Earth and Air bound to it with a Water and Fire attacker has no effect if the creature does not have elemental chains built on it. The attacked creature also retains its current elements.

You can also blow a chain with just one alignment (e.g. Fire) when the attacker has the opposite (e.g. Water). The problem is that it is hard is to do in the early game (due to lack of opposing troops) and impossible to do later in the game (due to units having two elements). The two-element chain does the same damage, so most of the time you will do complete chains with two elements. What makes an incomplete chain? Un-upgraded creatures. They only possess one element bound to them initially, so if you attack a target with Earth associated with it with anything but Earth or Earth coupled with another element, nothing will happen. If you attack it with Air/Earth it will gain 1 combo point and the elements will shift to Air/Earth. Now, what about blowing up incomplete chains? In our example, blowing an Air/Earth chain with only Fire or only Water. The chains will be lowered by 1/4, or by 1/2 if you built the Altar of Primordial Chaos in your town.

The Rules:

You are now probably crying out for the developers’ hides for giving the Warlock such a destructive tool. But fear not, Elemental Chains break as soon as a creature’s turn comes up in the ATB bar, meaning that the elements remain, but the creature loses all its combo points. This also means that slowing an attacker or speeding up your troops greatly enhances your probability of building up and blowing chains, and that against fast creatures you will have a hard time building up chains as they will reset it each time their turn comes up.

Spells. Warlocks aren't just bound to Destructive spells via Invocation or Empowered Spells, but also elemental chains, as they possess a single element tied to them, capable of building or blowing up chains. Of course, the chain blow will be incomplete since you can only apply one element with a spell. Also even though the spell Magic Missile clearly says in its description it is not elemental based, believe me, it is. I have blown a lot of chains with it. I'd say it's Fire and Air based from what I've seen.

Here is a list the elements for each creature in the Dungeon town:

Scout: Water
Blood Witch: Air
Minotaur Slave: Fire
Rider: Earth
Deep Hydra: Water
Matron: Earth
Deep Dragon: Fire

With the upgrade, all the creatures retain their original element and gain a new one:

Assassin: Water/Earth
Shadow Witch: Air/Earth
Minotaur King: Fire/Water
Royal Ravager: Earth/Fire
Chaos Hydra: Water/Air
Matriarch: Earth/Air
Black Dragon: Fire/Air

The same pattern holds for the other towns' creatures. They start with one element and get another one after upgrading.

That's about it! I hope it’s been informative. However, this is not a final guide to the Dungeon and Warlock, by any means. You’ll surely have a lot of fun discovering more. I only hope this article helps the unschooled but wily Warlock to get started with a delightfully dreadful Dungeon.