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You are probably already familiar with Infiltrator's Dungeon Guide, which has gone through a complete revision already. But you might have missed Bandobras Took's thread about the Inferno at the Round Table: it's a very detailed analysis of the might-oriented town that is easy to play, but difficult to master. The new article is now on Celestial Heavens, along with a couple of screenshots. Find out about the Inferno abilities, the best skills to pick up for your demon lords, tips to minimize the losses of your troops and what the best heroes are. Special thanks to Mr. Took for his great work.
CREATURES STATISTICS CREATURES ARTWORK
SKILLS ABILITIES
TOWN BUILDINGS STRATEGY

What is the Inferno?

In the Heroes 5 world, the Inferno is a happy-go-lucky bunch of servants of Chaos bent on general destruction, degradation, and corruption. Usually, this is to be accomplished by setting the world on fire.

Gameplay-wise: the Inferno is probably the most might-oriented of the factions. Boasting one flyer, one shooter, and one spellcaster, you’ve got a whole lot of ground-pounders. The Demon Lord mainly gets the Attack Attribute, and of the two magic attributes, Knowledge is far more common than Spell Power. Magic that relies on Spell Power (Destructive/Summoning) is not going to be that great, leaving you with the Buff/Curse branches (Light and Dark Magic). Of those two, Light Magic just isn’t going to show up much in your mage guild. This is somewhat unfortunate, the Demon Lord who can get his hands on Mass Divine Strength will shore up a weak point of the Inferno: their massive damage range. But I get ahead of myself.

Inferno Abilities

The primary Inferno ability is fairly straightforward: Gating. A creature stack can call forth another stack of its kind. Increased levels of Gating improve both the amount of creatures summoned and the level of the creature stack that can summon (i.e. Basic Gating is limited to Familiars/Overseers, Advanced enables Cerberi/Mistresses). Gating is great for blocking enemy shooters, clogging up lanes on the battlefield, getting troops behind castle walls, and, most importantly, stealing retaliation. Normally, it uses up a stack’s full turn and takes a whole turn for the new troops to arrive, but certain skills, buildings, and abilities can mitigate this.

The secondary Inferno abilities are:

Consume Corpse: Replenish your spell points with a dead stack on the combat field. Not only do you get a cool animation, but this also eliminates the possibility of said stack being hit with Raise Dead/Resurrection. Combines with Sorcery to give you Soulfire, which can damage all stacks around the Corpse being consumed. Also Combines with Logistics to give you your best friend in the world, Teleport Assault. More on that later.

Hellfire: Each stack has a chance to do bonus fire damage when it attacks (the amount of damage is based on the Hero's Spellpower. I have heard that it is also based on the creature's stack size, but in actual play that effect seems negligible.). This is considered part of the physical attack itself, so it won’t automatically penetrate insubstantiality. This also drains mana from the Demon Lord when it occurs, which is a good reason for the Demon Lord to Consume Corpses in his/her spare time. Combines with Light Magic to give you Fire Resistance (not that it’s worth taking Light Magic just for that). It will combine with Destructive magic to do even more damage (but your spell power doesn’t really justify taking Destructive magic), and will combine with Defense to give you Hellwrath, which enables Hellfire on retaliation strikes as well (this one’s useful).

Mark of the Damned: High Initiative, High Morale stacks getting you down? This is the Inferno’s far more effective version of the Haven’s Retaliation Strike. That one triggers when one of their own troops takes damage, this one triggers whenever the target stack does anything other than sit or move. Not only that, but it combines with Dark Magic (the only magic you’ll likely be taking) to cast Weakness on the stack, and with the Attack Skill to give you chance at Double Damage. The troop that springs to mind here is Blood Furies – the only thing saving their hides is their No Retaliation, and Mark of the Damned neatly cuts through that. Incidentally, does anybody know how this one works in conjunction with an opposing Griffin’s Battle Dive? Hmmm . . . something to test. This ability also triggers when a unit retaliates, so it can be used to swiftly cut down units with unlimited Retaliation. This is especially true if you use Gated stacks to trigger it. It also combines with War Machines for a free Earthquake spell, but you’ve already got Brimstone Rain at that point and don’t really need to waste your Hero’s time breaking down castle walls.



It's a little hard to take a screenshot of Mark of the Damned in action, but the combat results speak for themselves. My original army is visible in the lower left of the screen.

As for the normal skills, they are (and listed in order of importance):

#1 Logistics:

Hands down the best skill for the Inferno Hero. Moving further by itself is no bad thing, but through Pathfinding, you get to Swift Gating. The vital thing here is that Swift Gating affects the time the summoning stack takes; instead of spending a full turn, Gating with this skill is the equivalent of a “Wait” action. (Urgash's Call, the Inferno Ultimate, affects when the Gated Troops arrive. This exponentially increases the tactical possibilities of Gating.) That time is vital to a well-running Inferno army. I’ll even at times Gate Succubus Mistresses rather than start shooting immediately, as it’s not the loss of a full turn.

Swift Gating and Consume Corpse lead to your very best friend in the world: Teleport Assault. The value of this skill is not so much in the teleport spell as in its ability to adjust initiative. A useful way to think of it is the Demon Lord sacrificing his turn and movement to give it to one of his slower stacks. The two candidates that spring to mind for this are Horned Overseers in the early game (they’ve got enough hitpoints to cheerfully withstand anything on the other side of the field, but are usually too slow to be effective) and Pit Lords in the later game (the enemy will expect fireballs and space his troops apart rather than Turtle. Then you calmly Teleport your Pit Lords over there and beat the Hell (pun intended) out of him with a massive stack of Vorpal-Wielding L6s).



the Marksmen are going to have a clear shot at my Cerberi right after Agrael's turn: not a good thing. However, with Teleport, the problem's remedied. The Pit Lords can be teleported so that they will block the Marksmen and at the same time attack the Archangel (shown in Teleport Assault Example II). Note the Pit Lords' shift in initiative; they get to go right after Agrael.


Because of the versatility of Teleport Assault and the efficiency of Swift Gating, not to mention the strength of the basic skill, Logistics is the number one choice for the Demon Lord.

#2 Luck:

And this follows close on the heels of Logistics. With so many creatures relying on physical attacks, any pump's a good one. It’s two secondary skills, though, that really make this one shine.

First of all, Soldier’s Luck. Both your Nightmares and Hell Chargers have a wonderful no-retaliation ability, but it will only trigger sometimes. It happens a lot more with Soldier’s Luck. Also I believe (but have not confirmed – if someone can verify or contradict this, I would appreciate it) that it also affects the chances of Hellfire happening on a strike.

The other one to pay attention to is Swarming Gate (from Soldier’s Luck, funnily enough) this can drastically increase the amount of Gated creatures. Unfortunately, this one is based on the Hero’s Luck, so I don’t think Soldier’s Luck will affect it, but it happens often enough to really make your opponent wince.

Unless you’re really eager for Urgash’s call, Magic Resistance or Resourcefulness will probably serve you in better stead than Dead Man’s Curse.

#s 3, 4, and 5 (and here you can kind of choose between them.)

Attack: Offering you the chance to boost your base damage with Battle Frenzy, this one serves the Inferno’s numerous lower level creatures well. Excruciating Strike is a welcome if Erratic addition to Mark of the Damned. Power of Speed is a different if somewhat dispellable version of Teleport Assault; its main purpose is to increase a stack’s initiative generally rather than to immediately move it to the top of the pile. Succubi are strong enough that you don’t really need archery, however. Tactics is a good option instead of Power of Speed if you’ve got Teleport Assault and aren’t looking for Urgash’s Call.

Defense: Lowering the damage your ground-pounders take can only be a good thing. Evasion is great for letting them survive ranged attacks, while Hellwrath (given by Evasion) helps to ensure that a stack is dishing out more than it’s taking while retaliating, too. Stand Your Ground isn’t going to help much; if your stacks are defending instead of attacking, something’s gone wrong. Vitality is good choice to buff up vulnerable Cerberi and oft-targeted Familiars.

War Machines: With no access to Resurrection, the First Aid Tent proves surprisingly efficient in troop preservation if you invest the skill slot. The other two should, of course, go to Catapult and Brimstone Rain (three shots with the Catapult, heavy damage) – with a lot of walkers, you want castle gates down ASAP when you do go after a town. Catapult also has the added advantage of repairing the Ammo Cart after battle, and you’ll want one of those for your Succubi. A more offensively oriented person can profitably take Ballista instead of First Aid. A little more ranged support doesn’t hurt. On no account should you take Tremors; Brimstone Rain does the job and doesn’t blow your Hero’s turn.

#s 6, 7, 8, and 9 (good, but not as great/and or effective as the preceding five):

Dark Magic: The spell school you’ll have in your Mage Guild, this one also supplements the Mark of the Damned through Weakening Strike – which you’ll use to lower the attack of fast-moving, repeatedly hitting stacks. The various “Masters” are all good choices, but Dark Magic tends not to work on the Undead/Mind Immune, making the value of the Basic Skill low. You’ll need it on you path to Urgash’s Call, but it’s not as helpful or vital over the long haul as the previous skills.

Enlightenment: Stat bonuses are great, as is the experience, but not precisely crucial. The biggest advantage here is in the late game, going with Scholar-Arcane Exaltation-Dark Revelation for a free Level when levels do not come easily.

Sorcery: Its main effect will be to give your Hero turns more often. On the other hand, this can be counterproductive with Mark of the Damned. It will also help mainly if you’ve built a spell-slinger, so if you’re going for Dark Magic, make sure to pick this one up as well. If you’re in to adding insult to injury, Soulfire is definitely the way to go, though. Major style points for winning a battle with a corpse bomb.

Leadership: The main effect is good, but the secondary abilities are more suited to a secondary hero. Gate Master, on the other hand, is very nice, but you have to take Recruitment to get it, which won’t suit your main hero at all. With Teleport Assault/Power of Haste, the increased initiative Morale brings isn’t as vital.

#s 10, 11, and 12 (hoo boy, have fun with these if you can)

Destructive Magic: This one has possibilities, but I would still maintain that Dark Magic is a better way to spend your time; you’ll never attain the capacities of the Necromancer or Warlock in this area. If you’re foredoomed to it (Grawl comes to mind) go with Master of Fire-Searing Fires for the bonus to your stacks’ Hellfire damage.

Light Magic: Give it up, man. It’s over. This is not a focus of your mage guild. If you’ve got it, go for Master of Blessings for mass Divine Strength, overcoming your troops’ damage range. Fire Resistance through Master of Abjuration is a bit pricey. Magic Resistance and/or Protection are better ways to go.

Summoning Magic: Too Spell Power-dependent. Summon Phoenix/Elemental may be cool, but your troops ought to be summoning extra stacks anyway.

And Speaking of Troops


Imps/Familiars:

The meat shield of the Inferno. Now, please recover from your laughter and I’ll explain what I mean. The Imps and Familiars have a mana stealing ability that is based on their stack size – the more they are, the more they steal. It will not be unusual for an enemy spellcasting hero to target a large stack of Familiars first thing – left on the field, the dramatically foreshorten the lifespan of the spellslinger. They benefit greatly from Battle Frenzy, of course, and aren’t too bad for L1s. Gating helps them against early Ranged units.

Demons/Horned Demons:

If you don’t get Teleport Assault, you’re usually better not buying these or feeding them into the Sacrificial Pit for experience. Low Initiative and Low Speed do not an effective ground troop make. However, if you’ve got Teleport Assault, they turn from a worthless L2 into a gem. Their immolation ability (effectively a one-shot “ring of fire” spell – damages everybody around them but not themselves) and relatively high hit points make them ideal for breaking up the standard “shooter in the corner and guarding walker” that I’ve seen and used myself. Note also that they have spectacularly high growth and are extremely cheap, even upgraded. Just make sure you have a means of actually using them in combat.

Hell Hounds/Cerberi:

Hell Hounds are fast, damaging, and fragile. Expect casualties both from retaliation and from enemy obsession. The upgraded version, with no retaliation, an arc attack, and better speed, is far more enduring. The No Retaliation and ability to hit multiple targets do make up for what is otherwise a very mediocre damage range. With Tactics and/or a speed-enhancing artifact, can cross the field in the first turn and start decimating “turtle” formations. High upgrade priority, but not the highest. Very good at hit-and-run tactics.

Succubi/Succubus Mistresses:

Considered by many to be the best and the backbone of the Inferno; it’s hard to disagree. The unupgraded version has ranged retaliation, making opponents want to close in with melee troops (who can then be happily pounded upon by your own melee troops). The upgraded Succubus Mistresses “chain” attack is brutal; acting as Chain Lightning except upon Inferno troops. On that note, random joiners are better fed to the Sacrificial Pit than left in the ranks; the Succubus Mistress makes no distinction between friend and foe, only demonic and non-demonic. With a chain ranged-retaliation, your opponent will likely be wishing he’d picked up the Ballista skill just so it wouldn’t target the Mistresses. And speaking of War Machines, you’ll definitely want to bring along an Ammo Cart as well as the Expert War Machines skill. Note also that they benefit from the Hellfire ability; it’s not limited to your melee troops.

Hell Chargers/Nightmares (and whatever other names they’ve had):

On a side note, the upgrade is definitely female (“mare”), but I’m not sure what gender the unupgraded version is. Could this be a reversal of the Rani/Raja controversy? smile

Whatever you call them, they’re flat-out good. Either version has a chance at a no-retaliation attack that also shoves the target down the initiative bar and makes them move out of place. The upgraded version adds more speed and initiative, as well as a demoralizing aura which can wreak havoc on the enemy, causing key stacks to rarely take a turn. Able to cross the battlefield in one turn, this is close behind the Succubus Mistress in my vote for vital upgrade. Also comes with a Horde Dwelling for enhanced creature growth, adding to the terror.

Pit Fiends/Pit Lords:

The Inferno spellcasting unit; the unupgraded version is tough and had a couple of useful spells. Once that’s out, though, low speed and low initiative make them almost a non-presence, unless – you guessed it, Teleport Assault. Suddenly they’re in the face of the enemy and cheerfully mowing down whatever wants to try and kill them. The upgrade is very worthwhile, adding Meteor Shower to the arsenal of spells while permitting an efficient player to instead if they choose cast two Fireballs. Also comes with a handy ability called the Vorpal Sword – the top creature of any stack is automatically killed. This differs from Harm Touch (undead L6 special) in that it allows retaliation, but also does normal damage. Pit Lords + Teleport Assault is the Inferno’s answer to Summon Phoenix. Mistresses, Nightmares, and Pit Lords form the heart of the mid-to-late game Inferno army.



Devils/Archdevils:

Unfortunately, the Inferno’s Level Seven troop is too expensive for what you’re getting. It is a flying troop, yes, but Gating invalidates in large measure the need for a flier. Their speed isn’t all that great, and their damage range, while it can put them in the top of the L7s, can also put them in the top of the L6s. Unless you’ve got Ultimate Gating, they can’t gate, and Summon Pit Fiends only works if 1) you’ve got a dead stack, which you should be striving earnestly to avoid, and 2) you’ve actually spent the money to upgrade them, which is hardly worth it. Save your money and upgrade your other troops, buy some secondary heroes, whatever. Devils are too expensive for what you’re getting. Even the 666 joke in their cost is done better by the Hell Chargers/Nightmares.

Special Buildings

The Infernal Loom increases the amount of Gated Creatures by 5%, and adds some nifty Succubus Statues to your town hall if you can actually see it past the Fort and the Tavern. Any increase in the percentage of Gated creatures is welcome, and this cheap and early structure is always worth getting.

The Sacrificial Pit (exchange creatures for experience) is a prereq for the Castle; otherwise, there are better things to spend your money on. Many people, since you have to build it anyway, advocate putting your Demons in each week in order to help you level up. If you haven’t gone with Teleport Assault or are now planning on using Teleport Assault primarily with your Pit Lords, this can be an effective use of low-level troops. smileSomewhat akin to the “Zombies to Skeletons” philosophy of Heroes III. This is also the best place to put your random joiners, as your Succubus Mistresses will hit non-demonic joiners with the Chain ranged attack.

Of the two Horde Dwellings, the Nightmare Horde Dwelling is more useful. More Demons means more experience, but the Sulfur is better spent elsewhere. Demon growth is high enough by itself anyway.

Heroes

(in order of preference and a brief explanation of why):

Grok:

Rusher:

Starting Skills:
Logistics & Pathfinding

Grok is my number one choice. A logistics specialist will be running circles around the opponent. He starts with teleport, enabling your demons to serve as ranged-attack blockers from day one. He’s also only a few levels from Swift Gating and Teleport assault, and, if you’re so inclined, he has a relatively clear path to Urgash’s Call.

Deleb:

Iron Maiden

Starting Skills:
Advanced War Machines

Deleb is many people’s number one choice; her special ability grants a Fireball effect to the Ballista. A veritable master of early-game clearing, she turns into a castle-breaker later in the game, with Ammo Cart-enhanced Succubi along for the ride. It’s better to choose Ballista than First Aid with her.

Nymus:

Gate Keeper

Starting Skills:
Luck & Magic Resistance

Luck is not a bad secondary skill to start with, and Swarming Gate works beautifully in conjunction with Nymus’ specialty, which increases the number of gated troops based on the hero level. I was at times getting 100% of my original stack with Nymus. Does anybody know if it’s possible to get more than 100%?


Jezebeth:

Temptress

Starting Skills:
Basic Sorcery & Magic Insight

It’s not so much her secondary skills as the fact that Succubi become even more terrifying under her command. Starting with Sorcery should have you seeking for Dark Magic as soon as possible so that her skills do some good.

Marbas:

Spell Resistance

Starting Skills:
Defense and Protection

If spellcasting stacks have you down, Marbas is your man (demon?). The Magic Resistance specialist also starts with the Magic Damage-reducing skill of Protection. A viable path to Hellwrath will have Marbas’ normal troops mixing it up with the best of them and shrugging off spells.


Nebiros:

+1 Luck
No Tactics Phase for opposing Heroes

Starting Skills:
Attack & Tactics

Nebiros is the “monkey wrench” hero. The opponent gets no chance to optimally arrange his troops, while Nebiros enjoys an increased range on his own troops' placement. The automatic bonus to luck is welcome, but nothing he does really improves with levels, leaving him with a rather static hero special. Attack is still a fairly good starting skill, on the other hand.

Grawl:

Hound Master

Starting Skills:
Advanced Destructive Magic

The Cerberus special is decent enough (though far outstripped by Jezebeth’s Succubus special), but Advanced Destructive Magic? Why????

Alastor:

Mana Drain effect added to Confusion spell

Starting Skills:
Sorcery and Mana Regeneration

Alastor wouldn’t suck nearly so badly if Marbas’ Magic Resistance weren’t a more generally useful special or if Alastor actually started with Dark Magic rather than having to nab it on a level-up. As it is, he can mana-drain opposing spellcasters once he manages to get a mass version of the spell (for multiple neutral stacks) and enough levels. Of course, that’s only going to really be useful in later levels of the game and against a spellcaster that makes you worry and that you won’t be able to grind into the ground normally by that time. I’ll pass.

Dirty Tricks

Only one, so far, and that's using Phantom Forces to Gate more troops. Very mean. On the other hand, getting Phantom Forces may or may not happen.

Anyway, those are my thoughts on the Inferno, and a few are undoubtedly incorrect, and I will welcome corrections/clarifications thereon. In the meantime, I congratulate those of you with the patience to read through this rather long-winded and picture-free analysis. Once more maps and a slightly better AI come out, I'll offer some observations on Inferno vs. other towns.

Town Specialties

Something rather new to Heroes V is town specialties. It's a nice little "Ace in the Hole" at times to have an unexpected ability on your side. With no map editor I haven't been able to determine the effects of all of these, but here's the general idea:

Siege Towns

Discount/Economic Towns

Creature Growth

Without a map editor, I don't know whether this list is comprehensive. Nor can I effectively test the abilities. But knowing what you're starting town will do for you can help you determine the course of your game from day one. Jezebeth in Ur-Vesphaal might be enough to make any man sweat . . .

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