As part of the faction debate started by Corribus, winterfate wrote a detailed strategy guide for the Sylvan town. Does our way to play a specific town changes over time? Do people play each town differently, or do they share the same tricks? Compare this article to the one Vlaad wrote last year to find out. To play the Sylvan successfully you need more than a big stack of hunters. Check out what winterfate has to say about creeping, formations, hero development, the Avenger skill, and a lot more.

There are a few more strategy articles under construction, but I cannot tell for sure when they will be published. The goal is to update the tricks based on the Tribes of the East expansion, either via notes or a rewrite.


Sylvan Faction Overview

The Sylvan faction, or Wood Elves, are a Might-Oriented Good faction which has a strong ranged unit component with a supporting melee unit and tank component. Master Hunters and Druid Elders stand back, shooting and casting at range, while Silver Unicorns and Ancient Treants defend them, and when the time is right, advance into the enemy position.
They have the aid of Emerald Dragons, who can cross the field in one move, War Dancers that can attack all adjacent troops and Sprites that deal unretaliable damage in the form of a spray attack.

Their hero's preferred stats are Defense and then Knowledge, so they are pretty effective in defensive battles (seconded only by the Dwarves, IMO).

Their town hierachy needs a lot of Wood, especially early, and later on, most of the other resources as well (though of course, not in the brutal amounts that they will need wood). Gems are required for this town's level 7 unit and it's upgrade (Green Dragon/Emerald Dragon respectively.)

So, this is a basic overview of the Sylvan faction...on to the good stuff. I will start with a guide to early game creeping.

The Act of Creeping - aka. Neutral Destruction

As most of you may have noticed, it is nearly impossible to defeat most neutral stacks (hereafter referred to as creeping) without losing many units, especially ranged units, using standard H3 offensive strategies. The battlefield is smaller, and it is somewhat harder to go for the level 1 Mage Guild early for offensive spells (especially since you can't go for the economic rush, or boom, like you could back in HOMM3).

So, you ask: "How do I defeat them with little to no casualties?"
With Sylvan, it is all a matter of getting Hunters early, very early. To do so, you'll need a basic build order.

Basic Build Order

Assuming you start with a Level 1 Town, then you have to get 4 buildings to be able to get the Hunter Cabin...thus the earliest you can get them is Week 1 Day 5. My preferred building order this early is:

Town Hall
Resource Silo (yes it's 5000 gold...but all those extra Gems are life-savers, especially in Heroic).

That gets you to Town Level 5. That leaves one building to get. I like the Mage Guild 1 myself...but you could go for a creature dwelling...Pixies are better early, IMO, for reasons I'll explain soon.

Hunters OWN!!! or "How Hunters are Essential for Creeping"

So, here you are, about to click that shiny hire button for the Hunters (and if you're like me you started with Ossir, the Hunter Hero. You look at their stats:

Damage is good....spectacular, actually, considering that...
they shoot twice! Goodie!
They have 10 HP...
They have 10 HP?! Huh?

Yup, they are the frailest level 3 unit, but by no means are they the weakest. Considered by most to be the most imbalanced unit in the game (or at least the most imbalanced for its tier), Hunters and their upgrade, Master Hunters, can rule the game early. Keeping them alive (especially against neutrals) is the trick, and that's where I'm going to help you.

So, you got over the shock of the 10 HP...and the painful hole it left in your wood stocks. You now have 7 Hunters (more if you started with Ossir, or managed to get a Hunter with your secondary hero's starting army).

NOTE: Now's a good time to mention that you need your!! Those Hunters need the +4 HP the upgrade gives them...badly! That, and Warding Arrow is a lifesaver too!

Caradoc had these two things to add related to the building order and the wood budget:

Sylvan without a Sawmill. There will be occasions when even with Hunters, you are not going to capture a Sawmill until the start of Week 2. In this case you are going to need to conserve your wood, bypassing the Mage Guild or Tavern and going for the weekly resource generator. This helps even with a Sawmill on turn 5, since unless there is also some loose wood, you are still going to need more. I also strongly recommend taking the resources bonus, since Crystal can also be in short supply.

Wood Budget. Unless there is a lot of loose wood around, I don't see how you can afford to upgrade your Hunters until Week 4 at the soonest. On your way to Town level 15, you have only three builds that do not require wood. So that's 11 that need wood, including the Hunter Cabins that need 12. So to get the point where you can build dragons, you are going to need 62 wood, and then 5 for the Dragons themselves. If you play on normal starting with 30 wood, find another 10, and run a Sawmill for 18 days, you end up with a max of 76. You just can't afford to spend the 15 for Master Hunters and still expect to have Dragons in Week 3. If you wait until Day 5 to get Hunters to help you take the Sawmill, you only get to run it for 15 days prior to the end of Week 3, and that's 6 less wood.

To Fame and Glory - Who to Kill First

So, who can you take? Master Gremlins and other ranged units can, and will, potshot your Hunters, causing casualties, and we don't want that. So, unless you're raving mad, no ranged units for you, at least at the beginning. Picking your initial battles wisely is key to surviving the first few weeks, especially in Heroic difficulty.

Melee units are just begging to be shot to pieces by Hunter fire. The less initiative they have, the better. Zombies, for example, are a no-brainer neutral stack to attack with Hunters. Quicker units, like Hell Chargers, can be quite dangerous. But that's where the Tight Box and Loose Box strategies come into play. What are they you ask? Well...for this trick you will need 6 Pixies/Sprites and your Hunter/Master Hunter stack.

Got them? Ok, good!

Before we start, it is a good time to post some info about a Pixie/Blade Dancer debate me and Caradoc had.

I said that Pixies were better as cannon fodder for the formations and Caradoc said that Blade Dancers should fill the role.

Here's the info:

Why I prefer Pixies

a. Their generator is cheaper.
b. You get more.
c. Chances are, whoever you send forward, be it Pixie or Dancer, will die...a Dancer has more HP for defending a box formation if need be.
d. The Pixie has +1/+1 Speed and Initiative over the Blade Dancer.
e. They can fly over obstacles (in obstacle-heavy battlefields)

Why Caradoc prefers Blade Dancers

Pixies are too valuable to waste. I hoard Sprites to use in melee, where they can often strike and retreat without taking losses. Spellcasting, high speed and initiative, spray attack, no retaliation, high spawn rate make them the best level 1 creature. I prefer them to most level 2s. On the other hand, I tend to retire my Dancers when I start needing to split my Druids.

I concede that Pixies are too valuable to waste early, so perhaps you may try using Dancers for these formations instead.

In any case, either should work fine.

Tight Box Formation

Now, when your next battle starts against a quicker melee stack, place your Hunters in one of the two corners (your call, I prefer the lower corner myself). Now, surround him with Pixies. That leaves 3 Pixies doing nothing, right? Well, line them up in the back row horizontally, waiting for the intrepid melee units come to kill them (or more daring, one of the Pixies boxing in the Hunters).

Here's a diagram for the Tight Box formation:

X = Pixie
O = Empty Square
H = Hunters!


Here's a screenshot:

The rest is a no-brainer: Shoot the stacks one at a time and you should emerge victorious (assuming of course you didn't attack that Swarm of Plague Zombies looking at you funny).

That's nice against melee units that can't deal trample damage (couldn't help the MtG reference; trample means it can deal damage to multiple units...Dragons come to mind, as do Red Haven Champions).
But against those that can?

Loose Box Formation

Well, loosen up the box, will ya?
The Loose Box works on a similar principle as the Tight Box. The objective of the Loose Box however is to attempt to keep the dragons in the battle from cooking your Hunters with that nasty breath attack.

NOTE: This strategy also helps greatly against Large creatures, seeing how they can't pass through 1x1 gaps...who would've thought?

During Tactics, place your Hunter stack in the corner (again!). This time however, you will place the Pixies in a checkered formation, leaving one space blank, one space Pixie, in a roughly 3x3 to 4x4 area around the Hunters. I realize this is kind of hard to visualize so I'll try to screenshot it later. For now, here's a simple diagram of the Loose Box Formation:

X = Pixie
O = Empty Square
H = Hunters!


Here's a screenshot:

That accounts for 5 of the 6 Pixies...the 6th Pixie is your emergency blocker. The formation blocks all 2x2 creatures from attacking your Hunters immediately. It also buys your Hunters some time to do their thing!

Against ranged units? Well, I'd rather ignore them until they are no longer a threat to my forces...but let's face it: sometimes, you badly need what they're guarding. Perhaps it's an uber-difficult map, and Marksmen are guarding the Sawmill, for example.

How do you do it?
Well, pray to the Gods first...and then you...

Nah, just kidding. The way I tackle the problem is by using a variation on the Loose Box.

The "Anti"-Ranged Formation

It looks like this:

X = Pixie
O = Empty Square
H = Hunters!


Here's a screenshot:

NOTE: Hunter placement doesn't matter. Pixie placement, however does.
And of course, it would be vastly preferrable to use Sprites for this tactic, Pixies have less initiative and can't cast the 12dmg Wasp Swarm of Doom!

So, you have them lined up in Tactics. You start the battle, praying for the opposing ranged units not to get the first shot (hey, Lady Luck is a fickle being).

During each of your Pixie's turns, move them to the limit of their range towards the ranged unit (they should reach the opposition in two turns, if I recall distance correctly). Once you have them next to the ranged offenders, just blast away as usual. Chances are your Pixies will die in the fight...but I'd rather lose 6 Pixies than any amount of Hunters any day!

How about spellcasters?

Against spellcasters? Ahem...can't be done...not early anyways, and definitely not without severe losses. The way spellpower for caster units works, even 1 Druid/Mage would severly slice up (or rather lightning bolt/Fist of Wrath) your Hunter army.

So, this is my first installment for this debate. Thanks for reading, and keep in mind, that this comes from somebody who hasn't played PvP at all, and who's greatest challenge has been beating Heroic AI's... a total of 3 times total, all with Sylvan.

Hero Development

So, now you know some basic creeping strategies. But, we don't have anyone to actually lead the army to its battles. Hence, we need a Hero. I always go for Ossir myself. His special ability boosts the Attack and Defense of Hunters/Master Hunters by 1 for every two hero levels, starting at Level 1. This means that at Level 3, Hunters/Master Hunters gain 2 Attack/Defense. At Level 5, this increases to +3, and so forth, to infinity (well actually the cap is at Level 40, if you can get there).

So you have a hero now. What skills should you get him?
First and foremost, it's good to note that the Sylvan faction is best played as a Might faction. Sylvan Rangers do not usually get the Spellpower needed to have epic magic battles like Warlocks and, to a lesser extent, Wizards. So, what exactly to get?

Using Ossir as a guideline:

Ossir starts with:

Basic Luck
- Magic Resistance

This is pretty good, since it allows us to get the Elven Luck ability by Level 5...if we're lucky. It closes the way to the Sylvan ultimate ability, but truth be told, by the time you get any ultimate, one or more of these conditions will have been met:

1. You are close to winning.
2. You have won.
3. You are close to losing.
4. You have lost.

Ok...but enough of such things. Now I will list the top 5 candidates for your beloved empty skill spaces. In descending order:

1. Attack: Attack has the Archery ability. Archery gives all ranged units in your army +20% ranged damage. Sylvan has two ranged units; and Master Hunters are considered to be the best level 3 unit, and one of the best ranged units as well. Add it all up...and what do you get? Good times!

Attack also has Battle Frenzy, which will increase the damage of all your troops by one. Always a nice addition to damage, and one your Sprites will truly appreciate. 350 Sprites doing 3 damage each can add up in a hurry.

Attack's third basic ability is Tactics, which I usually take later in the game. Otherwise, I just get Nature's Wrath (adds +1 maximum damage to all Sylvan troops you control).

2. Luck: Two words: Elven Luck. Three words: Sylvan luck owns. Four words: Always pick this skill.

A few more words: Luck has got to be the Sylvan trademark. They even have an in-town structure that grants bonus luck to defending heroes.

Soldier's Luck: Get it...if only to get Elven Luck a little later in the game. The only abilities this affects are Warding Arrow and Unicorn Blind (AFAICR). However, it lets us get to...

Elven Luck: I've over-hyped this ability haven't I? Well, it's that good. It adds a whooping +25% bonus damage to your attacks when you roll good luck. Combine that with your Avenger ability (which I will discuss later), and you can do quadruple damage (or even more!) on certain attacks easily.

As posted during the debate by Elvin, it seems I exaggerated the damage a bit (I quote):

Avenger with luck and elven luck does 100% + 125% more than your normal damage, not quadraple.

For your third ability you can do Magic Resistance (15% magic resistance for your troops) or Dead Man's Curse.

Dead Man's Curse: Requiring both Elven Luck and Rain of Arrows (from the Avenger skill), Dead Man's Curse reduces the luck of the opposing forces by 1. Not a lot I know, but every little bit counts, IMO. I find myself choosing this ability over Magic Resistance, to be honest.

3. Light Magic: But, wait, you said NO MAGIC with Sylvan...

That's exactly what you're thinking, aren't you?
Well, Light Magic excels at boosting your unit's parameters, so they can excel at what they do best, kicking opposing forces back into the Stone Age.

Here, I make getting Master of Abjuration a priority. Master of Wrath is secondary and Master of Blessings a waste of time (IMO).

Master of Abjuration: Mass Deflect Missile + Mass Endurance + Sylvan troops = Impenetrable walls of Infinite Doom!

Well, not really. But, both of these spells are darned useful. Ranged troops are usually the first target of enemy attacks, including ranged fire. Expert Deflect Missile cuts ranged damage down to 3/10 of normal...keeping your ranged units relatively untouched. Mass Endurance just sweetens the deal by boosting your unit's defense parameter.

Master of Wrath: Mass Haste + Mass Righteous Might + Sylvan troops = Speedy killers!

That statement is a little less hyperbolic in nature than the defensive one I mentioned moments ago. Master Hunters that can shoot faster for more damage are threats your opponent will need to counter fast, lest he loses a whole unit stack in one volley.

Master of Blessings: Meh. Mass Divine Strength is pretty good, admittedly. However, Area of Effect Cleansing is not.
Cleansing costs more than most mass spells. Now, if you go AoE with it, you double it's cost (to a whooping 20!) and make it affect, say, about 3 or 4 opposing troops. My recommendation, don't...pick...this...ability...ever.

Here's Elvin's opinion on the Light Magic tree as it relates to Sylvan Rangers:

Master of blessings is pretty much a must vs a dark caster. You may not have the opposite buff or you may wish to play faster after dispelling a high lvl curse.

My priority is definitely master of wrath because:
*Dragons, unicorns and bladedancers benefit greatly with their already good initiative - just one more attack with the dragons and luck or avenger can change the course of the battle.
*You can get stormwind that is simply sweet vs most factions.
*Apart from haste it covers righteous magic that takes cares of their low attack.

Master of abjuration only with deflect missile, sylvan needs to attack - not defend. Especially so because it's easy to get leadership.

4. Defense: Defense is needed because it doesn't matter how hard your troops hit if they fall like raindrops when they get hit. Each level into Defense reduces the melee damage they take. Stacked with a Ranger's inherent Defense stat preference, this can make Sylvan units some of the hardest to damage in all of HOMMV.

Evasion: Reduces ranged damage by 20%. Since your ranged units will most likely be cooped up behind rows of other friendly troops, the only ways to hurt them are by way of ranged shots or by way of magic. This skill reduces the ability of enemy units to deal ranged damage to your units.

Protection: Reduces spell damage by 20%. As I mentioned above, your ranged units will most likely come under spell attack, since melee units will be hard pressed to reach them while they're boxed in. This ability protects them from that inevitable threat.

Vitality: Boost unit Hit Points by +2. This is a godsend...the lower half of your tier (Druids, Hunters, Dancers, Sprites/Pixies) will thank you immensly for this. Nothing like 8 HP sprites to press an attack and 16 HP Master Hunters to fire on anyone who strays too close.

For my last top skill...I pick....

5. War Machines:

To be honest, I could've just as easily given this spot to Logistics, which'll eventually lead up to Familiar Ground, a particularly nasty ability that boosts unit speed by +1 while fighting on native terrain.

However, there's quite a line to develop to get to Familiar Ground, and War Machines has the deadly Ballista, which an experienced Ranger can make fire three times each turn.

You could go so far as to forsake Archery and Tactics over at Attack just to get Flaming Arrows (Ballista bolts ignore target defense and deal additional fire damage). However, that's also a stretch. It is much better, IMO, to get:

1. Ballista skill
2. Imbue Ballista (also requires Imbue Arrow; otherwise it'd be pointless)

Once you get those two skills and Rain of Arrows (from your Avenger ability), you will be able to get the deadly Triple Ballista. By then, your Ballista should have an astounding amount of Hit Points, making it the official 8th unit in your army (if your enemy ignores it...he could regret it...).

Hocoino mentions a nice trick with Imbue Ballista. Since I didn't know where exactly to put it, here it is!

A nice little tactic I have found is to attach slow to your imbdue arrow, then rain of arrows and you have a mini-mass slow. If I also have flaming arrows then I can restructure my Favored enemy list omiting the level 7 creature (because I'll be using my balista constantly on it due to the ignore defense feature) the imbuded balista will also slow his teir 7 creature and now you have 4 of his 7 creatures slowed. Taking your next turn to mass haste, you'll have a huge initive advantage.

He also adds a little something about skill placement:

I think by recomending both Attack and WarMachines you are obligated to take Flaming Arrows. If you do this you won't be able to use archery as you recomended. A triple balista shot that ignores targets defense, and adds fire damage is buff. It can be a high teir creature killer. However even with just that, it still does not make full use of the posibilites of the balista. Imbdue Balista + Implosion with 3 shots... (btw, I'm theorycrafting here, can anybody tell me if the implosion triggers on all three shots)

So, there you have it! My 5 top skills. Of course, I can't close Hero Development without giving an honorable mention to:


Every hero type in HOMMV has a racial ability. Necromancers have Necromancy, Haven Knights have Training and so forth. Sylvan Rangers get Avenger.

What does Avenger do?

1. It opens up the way to three racial skills. In this case:
- Deadeye Shot: The Ranger's physical attack deals more damage in general. In addition, if the Ranger shoots a foe in his/her favored list, he/she automatically deals double damage and is guaranteed to kill at least one unit in the victim stack.
- Rain of Arrows: The Ranger's physical attack damages ALL foes in his/her list, dealing additional damage (as is the case with Deadeye Shot). Situational? Yes. Useful? Definitely. In a long battle where mana gets expended, this skill could easily even the odds if you have several favored enemies in the battle.
- Imbue Arrow: The Ranger's physical attack gains the effect of a chosen damaging or cursing spell. In games, I can't seem to get it to work with curses, but it works fine with damaging spells. In any case, that's where the real fun begins. Nothing like Imbuing Implosion onto your arrows, and shooting 4 enemies with the next Rain of Arrows. Be advised that it'll drain your mana with each attack (as if you were casting the spell).
2. It grants a favored enemy list:

This list, which ranges from 1 slot (for Basic Avenger) to 4 slots (for Ultimate Avenger), allows you to pick any enemy you have slain 2 weeks normal town production of and add it to the list.
List...list...what does this list do though?

It's quite simple really. Each unit on your Ranger's list has a 40% chance (you can get an additional +10% by getting the Avenger's Brotherhood building over at your town) of suffering double damage when being hit by your hero OR your units serving under that hero.

For heroes that ability is useful...if a bit relative. For units, however, this takes a whole new dimension in pain. If your Master Hunters were to ever roll good luck AND deal the extra favored enemy damage in the same shot...the normal damage is tripled (or perhaps even more due to Elven Luck).

Note: The above applies to any Sylvan unit in your army; I'm just setting the Hunters as the example.

But, like all abilities, there is a catch...well, two catches.

1. You have to go to a town with an Avenger's Guild building and set your favored enemies there.

Not the best way to spend 2-3 days, especially early. Towards the end of the game though, this can be a lifesaving ability.

2. You can only set the unupgraded OR the upgraded version of a unit in one slot. To have both versions of a unit on your favored list, you have to use up two slots.

Hence, you know what to do here right?
Set ONLY the upgraded version as favored; computer players always use upgraded troops once they acquire them and human players will have to make a tough (and honestly weird, IMO) decision on whether to leave their units unupgraded (and spare themselves a lot of pain) or upgrade their units for that extra power (and suffer extra damage for it).

More proof that Avenger rocks!

Elvin wrote:
Avenger is better than people give it credit for. Most units the opponent has are easy to guess if he has upgraded them or not by the week the battle will take place. Marksmen will always be picked instead of archers and hunters instead of master hunters until week 3(well, usually) for instance.
If you don't find the neutrals you can always try skirmishes vs your opponent to kill a few of its units, I don't recall if they count should you retreat.
In any case they help a lot in creeping, especially vs a horde of squires as it's common to find more than one stacks one of which footmen
And if you wish to be sure of what the opponent has you can aim for silent stalker, after all you'll get logistics. With 2 towns you may try building 2 avenger brotherhoods for +20% chance.
In a longer game sylvan tends to kill large stacks in 1 or 2 attacks, terrifying,

Hocoino had this to add about the Logistics skill for Rangers:

Also I haven't seen anybody here mention the use of Logistics.. I don't know why... Logistics to me is an essential skill. Sure it would be nice to give my hero battle skills, but without logistics I might never be able to reach him with the advantage. I'll be run in circles. This however might be a topic best discussed in a complete article.

Sylvan vs. Faction Strategies have a large army, the fruit of many hard months of labor. However, now you have a problem. You haven't been the only one building up your army like this. All other opposing players will have been doing the same thing, and as such, a final conflict is imminent. I will now post some strategies to use against each possible Sylvan vs Faction battle.

NOTE: The following strategy tips assume a final battle where both combatants have all 7 upgraded unit types.

Here goes:

vs. Haven: The battle against Haven starts in Tactics mode (it could be argued that all final battles start with efficient placement, but it is even more important here...for reasons I'll explain soon). You MUST make sure your ranged units have some moving space, otherwise Imperial Griffin's Battle Dive will slice up your forces in a heartbeat.

I like to use the following formation for most of my final battles (assuming I have Tactics...otherwise I try to move my units into this defensive formation ASAP, unless attack opportunities present themselves):

A = Sprites
B = War Dancers
C = Master Hunters
D = Druid Elders
G = Silver Unicorns
H = Ancient Treants
K = Emerald Dragons
X = Empty space


Ye olde screenshot:

In this formation, the ranged units have some moving space, in case the Imperial Griffins battle dive. The other units are clumped around the two ranged units, ready to advance at a moment's notice.

Favored Enemy List: For each vs. matchup, I will post a recommended favored enemy list. Remember, Avenger makes a difference!

Favored Enemy List vs. Haven: Paladins, Archangels (or Imperial Griffins), Marksmen

Note: The lists assume you have Expert Avenger. If you have the Pendant of Mastery, then you can have a fourth favored foe.

So, as the battle starts, the Imperial Griffins may take flight. If they do, move your ranged units to prevent them from dive bombing you. Soon afterwards, he may start charging forward with his tank units: the Paladins and Archangels (Marksmen and Inquisitors cannot easily take Master Hunters and Druid Elders in a ranged war). Have your Ancient Treants attack the Champions or the Archangels to prevent them from moving. Afterwards, you can focus fire on whichever unit you didn't entangle.

The Imperial Griffins have most likely landed by focus fire them when you have a chance too. Have your Sprites attack them for decent damage (since Sprites have the No Retaliation ability). Admittedly, Haven Knights tend to get high morale often, so he might just be able to Battle Dive yet again...if he's crazy enough. Your War Dancers and Emerald Dragons should be at the ready to charge through the ranks to incapacitate their ranged firepower.

vs. Sylvan (Mirror Match):

Favored Enemy List: Master Hunters, Druid Elders or Emerald Dragons (Master Hunters...and I can bet you that your opponent will have them favored in his list too) Silver Unicorns or Ancient Treants.

Against other Sylvan heroes, it becomes a number game of sorts. Whoever has the greater number of ranged units possesses the defensive advantage. The other player must then take the offensive to defeat the opposing player's ranged units.

Some nice attack priorities are:

1. Ranged Units
2. Sprites/Emerald Dragons
3. Silver Unicorns/ Ancient Treants
4. War Dancers (I leave them for last, unless they charge into the fray...which with a computer opponent is nearly always.).

vs. Academy

So it begins. What begins, you may be asking? Well, the influence of magic in battle. Whereas the Haven and Sylvan factions are Might-Oriented, the Academy faction is Magic-Oriented. As such, you must now take offensive action to reduce the total turn count of the battle. Every turn that the opposing Wizard can cast a spell is one turn too many.
Since Destructive Magic is Spellpower dependant for that extra punch, you may not see so many Wizards with that skill. However, the other three schools of magic are fair game and can be truly deadly, especially if they complement each other. Since most Wizards also have Expert Sorcery...the seemingly endless waves of magic can wipe you out.

So, let's go with a worst case scenario battle for this part of the article. Standard troops...but the Wizard has Expert Sorcery, Light, Dark and Summoning Magic (their preferred schools are Light and Summoning, so it isn't a stretch to say that he will have those skills).

Favored Enemy List: Titans, Master Gremlins, Rakshasa Rajas or Archmages.

That enemy list was easy for me. Gargoyles are largely ineffective on the offense (they are meat-shields after all). Golems are rather slow, even though they pack quite a punch, with Unlimited Retaliations. Djinn Sultans are a joke...but don't get cocky, because all they need is one blow to do immense damage (they have some decent attack and damage ratings).

So, have your ranged units sniper their Titans or Archmages (in this case, focus fire, because large numbers of either troop are deadly). One goes down, kill the other. Resurrection will cripple your efforts to do this and he could mass buff his army with things like Deflect Missile (I love to use it; hate to suffer it) If you can debuff, this would be a good time to do so. Otherwise, you'll have your work cut out for you. Dark Wizards will Puppet Master/Frenzy your ranged units, which will also mess with your ability to get anything done. Cleansing is good here as well. Summoners will Summon Phoenix and Arcane Armor it for damage reduction.

As you may have noticed, Wizards with big armies (especially late-game) are a big threat (thanks in large part to spell support). So, perhaps the best advice I can give is this:

Don't stall out...take the fight to the Wizard and force the final battle to be sooner than later...the more time you give a Magic-Oriented hero in the game, the more dangerous he can become.

vs. Inferno

Inferno is another good old Might-Oriented faction. The most Might-Oriented, IMO. You will frequently see Demon Lords running around a map at Month 5 with over 20 attack and under 5 defense. Thus, you must take the offensive in the final battle. Sitting back could work, but a Demon Lord has too many ways to punish you if you're reactive. I recommend sitting back until he sends his units to your side, then fighting them on your terms, while sneaking your Sprites over to attack the Succubus Mistresses.

Favored Enemy List: Pit Lords, Arch Devils, Nightmares

That's the list I usually use. I'm allergic to favoring Succubus Mistresses because of that pesky Ranged Retaliation ability they have. I just prefer to block their ranged attack and have business as usual with them.

Inferno Units can gate. This ability is extremely pesky, and he should have Expert Gating, which allows all Non-Devil units to gate reinforcements into battle. So...CLUMP your ranged units (and yes, Pit Lords can cast Fireball...but at least you'll still be able to shoot after his Familiars gate in outside of your box formation)

Usually, the Inferno player will try to exploit his attack advantage (good strategy, trying to stay back isn't the Demonic way). As such, he will Gate first turn, and then start leading a charge on the second turn. During this time, it's standard fare, just start shooting his Pit Lords, so as to reduce their numbers (and hence Fireball/Meteor Shower damage). When he starts advancing, switch to his Nightmares or his Arch Devils. After that, Inferno is basically done for...but DO NOT underestimate ANY of his units...with such an insane attack boost, even his Familiars hurt (been there, done that).

vs. Necropolis

Before 2.1...this town was pretty narrow in terms of strategy (get 3-4k skeleton archers, raze the map with them, lather, rinse, repeat).

Now, the new Dark Energy concept allows them to potentially raise high-level units even before they would be able to build them in town. This also has the side effect of reducing the number of skeleton archers he'll have in the army.

Favored Enemy List: Arch Liches, Vampire Lords, Skeleton Archers or Wraiths

Note: Do not DARE to favor Spectres. I know a lot about Sylvan luck, but Incorporeal will kick in at the worst times, making you lose possibly thousands of points of damage in one shot. Use spells against them instead (I like to Lightning Bolt them with my Druid Elders). If you must, then shoot them with the Master Hunters (two chances to deal damage). Otherwise, leave them be for as long as possible.

It's a rather simple affair. He should have Dark Magic, which excels in debuffing your troops. However, it shouldn't be as game-breaking as the Wizard Triple Threat of Magic. Dispel Puppet Master and Frenzy as they are attempted and you should be fine. Attack the troops in the favored list first, starting with the ranged units and the Vampire Lords. After that, just go all out with the closest victim.

vs. Fortress's de Dwarves. Hehe...sorry couldn't help myself. The Dwarves, added in Hammers of Fate, are the most defensive race in HOMMV. In addition, they have many powerful skills, like Preparation, that can truly turn the tide of a battle. Runic Magic can also be a pain, as the units can buff themselves during their own turns, while their hero is free to cast spells on his own turn.

If you attack a Dwarven player in his town, be warned that they will get an obnoxious amount of bonus Shieldguards to reinforce themselves (the longer the game takes the more he'll have). They are not considered summoned (so, no auto win if he only has those units left) and I have lost battles because of them and them alone.

Favored Enemy List: Most Dwarven units suffer from a lack of attack damage (the one exception being the usually lumbering Magma Dragons). So, here's a list I would use...

Warlords, Magma Dragons, Rune Patriarchs

Then just kill the Warlords when they teleport in and kill the other units as they advance. The Rune Patriarchs should be dealt with sooner than later, as the patch gave them a boost (Firewall can be cast directly on units now).

The biggest problem will stem from his use of Runic Magic and perhaps a bit of Destructive Magic.

Dracogeddon is back in full force. Dracogeddon is an OLD HOMM strategy that exploits Draconic Spell Immunity and using Armageddon to blast your foes into oblivion. Since your Dragons take 0's essentially a Mass attack on your enemy's forces. In HOMMV, this can get even worse. If several of his units roll Fire Immunity when using the Elemental Immunity rune, then he'll be able to cast Armageddon every turn, as his mana permits. I'm sure most of your units won't be able to suffer that punishment for long. And his units suffer 0 damage...

Here's Omega's take on Sylvan vs. Fortress:

When picking a favored enemy vs. the Dwarves, I agree with the Warlrods and Magma Dragons but disagree with the Rune Patriarchs. True they are dangerous, but most likely you will not be able to wipe out the stack before they get a firewall off. Also, it's the Shielduards that will make killing off ranged units a pain, so I think they are a better choice. That will help taking out both Rune Patriachs and Skirmishers. Additionally, having Shieldgaurds as your favored enemy would greatly help when it comes time to seige a Fortress. 2 legions of Shieldguards is far more dangerous than 60 Rune Patriarchs.

As for the Armageddon strategy, I wouldn't place too much on that happening. By the time you set it all up, there is no guarantee that a Rune Mage will get fire immunity for all of his units. I really wouldn't worry about a player using that strategy too often.

Also going against the Fortress, your sprites and elder druids can easily be killed off if the Rune Mage has Manaburst. Just something to keep in mind.

vs. Dungeon

Comprised of Dark Elves, the Dungeon faction can be quite the threat with its powerful Destructive Magic and Irresistible Magic skills. Also, a decent Attack skill also means that they are also rather Might-Oriented.

Favored Enemy List: Black Dragons (for your own me), Shadow Matriarchs, Blood Furies

High level Warlocks should be able to be careful. Like a battle against a Wizard, you should strive to end the battle ASAP. Every turn he gets to cast a spell is one turn less you have to win (since those spells will hurt REALLY BAD with the high spellpower rating Warlocks tend to have.).

When the battle starts, attack those Blood Furies! Fast! Don't even let them cross the battlefield before starting your assault. They can Strike and Return, meaning you may never get a full damage ranged attack on them as they can stay away AND attack, all in one motion. Once they're down (they are relatively flimsy after all) start concentrating on the Black Dragons. Protect your ranged units at all costs against the Fire Breath (making extra sure your Master Hunters don't get cooked by the 2 hex reach of the attack).

Once they're down, you should attack the Grim Raiders. Their initial charge should've hurt greatly (ignores defense if they move over 5 spaces to attack). Hopefully it smacked your Ancient Treants, as they have a lot of HP...and tanking is their main duty anyway. The Grim Raiders should now be in close range for your ranged fire. Pelt them accordingly. Afterwards, just kill the ranged units.


I hope this has been an insightful journey into the mindset of the Sylvan faction. I also hope you've enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Take care and may all your rolls be lucky!

Credits (Because I couldn't have done this alone):

Elvin - Many thanks for the formation screenshots. You saved the day!
Also pointed out that Luck + Avenger does not equal 4x damage (I can still dream can't I?)

Caradoc - For pointing out some errors (Sylvan Dragons need Gems, not Crystals) and for debating that Blade Dancers are better cannon fodder early than Sprites, among other things. Most importantly, stepping down and allowing me to do the Sylvan article even though he had dibs on it.

Corribus - The mastermind of this whole faction debate. If he hadn't thought it up, I wouldn't be here typing this.

Omega_Destroyer - Some nice Sylvan vs Fortress info. Also mentioned that it is better to favor Shieldguards than Rune Patriarchs.

Hocoino - A nice trick of the Imbued Ballista kind.

Anyone else I have forgotten to mention involved in the debate (or forgot to credit) - Thank you all for your input! It is much appreciated!

You - For taking the time to read this gigantic tome of Sylvan knowledge.

Me - For taking the time to create this gigantic tome of Sylvan knowledge.

Celestial Heavens and the Round Table - For being the best forum ever. Woho!!!

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