A Breath Attack is one of the many Special Attack Types featured in Master of Magic. A Breath Attack is only executed as an integral part of a unit's Melee Attack. Different Breath Attacks may deliver different types of damage, but their primary purpose (aside from hurting the enemy) is to try and kill off as many enemy Figures as possible before the rest of the Melee combat process (including the enemy's retaliation) can take place.
Breath Attacks are only available to units possessing either the Fire Breath or Lightning Breath abilities. This includes a wide variety of units, among which are many Draconian Normal Units, several Fantastic Units, and one Hero. It is possible for Normal Units to acquire Fire Breath thanks to a specific Chaos spell, and this is the only way to grant a Breath Attack to a unit that does not possess it by default.
Breath Attacks are executed at the very beginning of the Melee Attack sequence. Thus, the more enemy Figures a Breath Attack can kill, the less danger there will be to the Breath Attacker once the target gets the chance to retaliate.
Breath Attacks are only executed when the attacker is voluntarily initiating Melee combat. They do not work when Counter Attacking to an enemy assault.
The damage delivered by a Breath Attack can be either Fire Damage, or a combination of Armor Piercing Damage together with Magical Damage. Both types attempt to cause actual Damage Points to the target - but have several important differences between them due to the specific types of damage involved. In general, Lightning Breath attacks will have a much greater chance of getting through the target's Defenses.
The strength of a Breath Attack is indicated in a unit's details panel as the value of its Fire Breath or Lightning Breath ability, whichever is present. On this wiki, the strength of a Lightning Breath attack is indicated by the unofficial icon of a lightning-bolt: . This icon does not appear in the game, but is based upon the icon representing the Lightning Breath ability. The strength of a Fire Breath attack is indicated by the blazing-cone icon, , which is actually found in the game files but isn't used in the game either. This icon is also used to indicate Breath Attacks in general. In either case, the strength of a Breath Attack indicates how much Magical Damage it delivers.
The strength of a Breath Attack will normally grow with Experience at the same rate as the unit's Melee Attack strength. Most effects that improve a unit's Melee Attack will also improve its Breath Attack. Magical Weapons do not improve a Hero's Breath Attacks, but Jewelry can do so if imbued with attack-related bonuses.
A Breath Attack involves a creature actually breathing out a blast of energy of one type or another. Ancient myths contain many creatures that have the ability to do this, but the most common and most familiar is the dragon, which breaths fire by some supernatural mechanism. Creatures breathing lightning are far rarer, and their origins are likely in modern role-playing games.
Whichever creature is involved, the tactical advantage of a breath-based attack always comes into play: the creature uses its breath to attack enemies at some distance, making it more difficult to approach such a creature without injury or death. In Master of Magic, this is essentially a preemptive strike, whereupon the creature charges at its target in order to exploit the enemy's weakened state, the enemy's confusion, and/or the hole in the enemy lines created by the Breath Attack.
Thus, a Breath Attack is always a prelude to an immediate physical charge by the creature into its target (a Melee Attack), and will always occur at the start of such an attack. The desired outcome of a Breath Attack is the death of as many enemy Figures as possible, so that once the two units are engaged in physical combat, the enemy has less strength and thus will pose less of a risk to the attacker. The Breath Attack is simply meant to weaken the enemy prior to actual engagement. If it manages to destroy the enemy entirely, so much the better - since that removes the need to make that dangerous physical contact with the target.
The two different types of Breath Attacks - namely Fire Breath attacks and Lightning Breath attacks - deliver somewhat different types of Magical Damage. While the overall process of damage delivery and the resulting effect is often similar, the details are radically different. Therefore the differences are explained separately below.
Nonetheless, the purpose of all Breath Attacks is to cause as many Damage Points to the target, with a specific goal of killing off as many enemy Figures as possible. The more Figures are killed in this attack, the fewer remain to retaliate against the Breath Attacker once physical combat ensues - making that physical combat safer for the attacker.
The amount of Magical Damage delivered by a Breath Attack is equal to the strength of the attacker's Fire Breath or Lightning Breath ability, as indicated in its details panel. This is the maximum potential number of Damage Points that might be caused to the target - though the actual amount is usually much lower. On this wiki, the strength of a Breath Attack is indicated by either the blazing-cone or lightning-bolt icons on a blue background: and , respectively. Therefore, an attack with a strength of 4 delivers 4 points of Magical Damage, and can potentially cause up to 4 points of Damage to the target.
To calculate the actual amount of Damage caused to the target, the game runs through the Magical Damage process - a long and complicated process that's explained in detail in the Physical Damage article. In essence, the attacker makes a series of To Hit rolls to determine the accuracy of the attack, and the defender makes a series of Defense rolls to determine how effectively it blocked and/or dodged the attack. When the results of these rolls are compared, we get the total amount of Damage caused to the target. Target Figures are killed as appropriate, before moving on to the next step of the Melee Attack process (usually the exchange of Gaze Attacks between the attacker and the target).
Note that both types of Breath Attacks deliver Magical Damage of some sort, which means that they will both trigger a target's Magic Immunity if present. This effectively negates all damage from the Breath Attack - leaving the target completely unscathed - regardless of how strong the Breath Attack is!
It is currently unknown which To Hit bonuses apply when processing a Breath Attack, and testing is quite difficult. However, it is certain that some bonuses, such as those received from Jewelry, certainly do apply to the Breath Attack. These will improve the accuracy of the attack, and thus help it deliver more Damage on average.
On the other hand, it is almost certain that no extra properties or Damage Types can be added to a Breath Attack, so it will always deliver the specific Damage Types explained in the next two sections below.
Fire Breath Edit
A Fire Breath attack delivers a special kind of Physical Damage called "Fire Damage". In general, it works exactly the same as explained above. The only difference is felt when the target possesses the Fire Immunity ability.
When a Fire Breath attack is used against a Fire-Immune target, the target's Defense score is temporarily boosted to 50. This makes the target extremely durable to the attack, since it can make 50 separate Defense rolls - and can thus block a massive amount of damage. It is not a total immunity, and some few Fire Breath attacks may have a realistic chance of getting through that much armor, but it will certainly be unlikely.
Lightning Breath Edit
A Lightning Breath attack is a lot harder to explain, because it delivers two Damage Types in tandem: Armor Piercing Damage, followed immediately by Magical Damage. Only one of these two damage types actually causes any Damage to the target - making things a little confusing.
The Armor Piercing Damage component is delivered first. It does not cause any Damage whatsoever to the target on its own. Instead, it will temporarily halve the target's Defense score. At that point, the Magical Damage component strikes the target, rolling for damage as explained above in this article (and in more detail on the Physical Damage article), while exploiting the fact that the target's armor has been partially compromised. This means that the total damage output of a Lightning Breath attack is often much higher than the output of some other attack of similar strength - all because the target is less capable of defending itself.
No immunity can stop Armor Piercing Damage from taking effect. However, the target can still avoid damage completely if it has Magic Immunity. This immunity, when present, will be triggered by the Magical Damage component of the attack, and will automatically block all of the damage to the target as explained previously. Thus, halving the target's Defense score has no real effect - the target has no need to any Defense rolls!
Multi-Figure Breath Attackers Edit
When a Multi-Figure unit uses a Breath Attack, each individual Figure executes a separate Breath Attack against the target, in rapid succession. Each of these is treated and processed as a separate attack, involving the entire routine of To Hit rolls, Defense rolls and Damage distribution as described above, from start to finish.
Each of these attacks has the same strength, equal to the value of the unit's Fire Breath or Lightning Breath ability. Thus, a unit with "Fire Breath 3" and 4 Figures will execute 4 separate Breath Attacks against the target, each with a strength of 3 (i.e. delivering 3 points of Fire Damage at the target).
Therefore, the more Figures a unit contains, the stronger its Breath Attack is overall. Nonetheless, a "weaker" Breath Attack made against a heavily-armored target may still fail to cause any Damage to that target even with many Figures participating. This is because each of the individual sub-attacks is weak, and thus each has an equal chance of failing to penetrate the armor.
- A unit of Draconian Swordsmen has 6 Figures when fully-healed. By default, this unit possesses the Fire Breath ability of strength 1.
- When the Draconian Swordsmen unit is voluntarily attacking, each of the 6 Swordsmen makes a separate Breath Attack, and each of these attacks has a strength of 1 (i.e. delivering 1 Fire Damage point at the target). Therefore, as per the rules of Physical Damage, each Swordsman makes a single To Hit roll against the target, and can potentially inflict 1 Point of Damage. If all attacks are successful, the target will suffer a total of 1 * 6 = 6 points of Damage.
- However, almost all targets are sufficiently-well-armored to withstand this damage, because it is delivered in 1-point "packets", instead of a single 6-point attack.
- For example, an enemy unit with only 1 Defense - extremely light armor - has only a 25% chance of suffering damage from each of these 1-point attacks. In this case, having 6 separate attacks does help, since a 25% chance with each of six separate attacks means roughly a 75% chance that the target will suffer at least 1 point of Damage.
- On the other hand, if the target has a Defense score of 5, the chance of each 1-point attack inflicting any damage on it is remarkably slim - only about 5% per attack! This gives only a ~25% chance of hurting the target at all. For comparison, a single 6-point attack would've been significantly more useful against the same target, having roughly 45% chance of hurting it to some degree.
- Thus, Multi-Figure units with a low Breath Attack strength can indeed be dangerous to lightly-armored enemies, simply because of the multitude of attacks being executed one after the other. However they are still far less useful against heavily-armored targets than would a single powerful Breath Attacker delivering the same total amount of Physical Damage in one go.
Execution and Sequence Edit
Breath Attacks are executed only by the initiator of a Melee Attack. For example, if unit A attacks unit B, and both units have the Fire Breath or Lightning Breath ability, only unit A gets to make a Breath Attack since it initiated combat. Unit B may not use its Breath Attack. If both units survive of course, then once unit B's turn begins it can initiate a Melee Attack against unit A, in which case unit B gets to use a Breath Attack and unit A does not.
Breath Attacks are always executed at the very beginning of the Melee Attack process, before any other attack or damage is delivered. This is one of its primary advantages: the attacking unit strikes with its full force, before the target gets any chance to hurt the attacking unit and reduce its strength in any way.
|1||Thrown Attack / Breath Attack||--|
|3|| Melee Damage,|
| Melee Damage,|
As the table above shows, the Breath Attack occurs in stage 1, and shares this stage with the Thrown Attack. Note that the rules of the game state that a unit may not have both a Thrown Attack and a Breath Attack, so only one of these will be executed as appropriate. Also note that no unit may ever possess both a Fire Breath and Lightning Breath ability - so no unit will ever deliver more than one Breath Attack per Melee combat.
Because of its position in stage 1, the Breath Attack also has an important tactical advantage: any enemy Figures that are successfully killed off in this attack cannot participate in any of the following stages. Thus, enemy figures killed by a Breath Attack will not deliver their own Gaze Attacks, Touch Attacks, nor any Melee Damage back at the attacker. This provides the attacker some security: by weakening the enemy, the attacker stands to suffer less retaliatory damage.
Ground vs. Air Edit
The normal rules of combat prohibit any Walking or Swimming unit from initiating a Melee Attack against any Flying opponent. Such units may only Counter Attack to this opponent, allowing the Flying enemy to maneuver freely around them without fear of being attacked.
However, possession of a Breath Attack by a Walking or Swimming unit allows that unit to break the rules: it may freely and voluntarily execute Melee Attacks against enemy Flying units.