|As of Master of Magic v1.31, Chaos Channels is known to be malfunctioning in at least one way. Please read the Known Bugs section below.|
|Spell Type||Unit Enchantment / Instant Spell|
In addition, the unit permanently receives one of the following bonuses:
Chaos Channels is an Uncommon Unit Enchantment belonging to the Chaos Magic realm. It may only be cast on a Normal Unit or Hero on the overland map, for the base Casting Cost of 50. Chaos Channels imbues the target unit with Chaos energy, turning it into a Fantastic Creature belonging to the Chaos Realm. The unit also receives one permanent bonus, selected at random. It can be a +6 bonus, a Movement Allowance of 2, or a new Fire Breath 2 ability. A unit affected by Chaos Channels may not be targeted by the spell again.
Chaos Channels is a very unusual Unit Enchantment, as it behaves more like an Instant Spell: it has no Upkeep Costs, and may not be dispelled after being successfully cast. Its effects, however, last as long as the targeted unit remains in the game.
Fantastic Creature of Chaos Edit
When a Normal Unit or Hero is successfully affected by Chaos Channels, it immediately becomes a Fantastic Unit belonging to the Chaos Realm. Strangely, the game itself treats this unit as a Fantastic Unit some of the time, while treating it as a Normal Unit the rest of the time.
Fantastic Unit Properties Edit
The Chaos Channeled unit is now permanently associated with the Chaos realm. As a result, it will benefit from all spells and effects that only apply to Chaos creatures, such as Chaos Surge and Star Fires. It will also benefit from the aura projected by Chaos Nodes, which makes it stronger when fighting in the vicinity of such nodes.
As a Fantastic Unit, this unit may not be targeted by the Chaos Channels spell a second time - the game will refuse this, claiming that Fantastic Units are not valid targets. The Lycanthropy spell will also refuse to target this unit, though the Black Channels spell does work as normal.
During combat, the unit is considered a Fantastic Unit for all intents and purposes. It cannot be targeted by spells that only target Normal Units, but can be targeted by spells that only target Fantastic Units.
Furthermore, this unit will not gain any Experience from participating in a victorious battle.
Normal Unit Properties Edit
The unit retains some of its Normal Unit properties after the transformation.
Chaos-channeled units are still effective at quelling unrest (1 rebel per 2 garrisoned troops) while inside a city.
It is also still possible to target this unit with some Normal-Unit-Only spells, such as Flame Blade or Holy Weapon - but only if these spells are cast on the unit while on the overland map. The spells will behave normally, and will carry over into combat as normal. Holy Arms spell also affects the chaos channeled units as normal.
The chaos-channeled unit also retains its current Experience Level, as well as any bonuses bestowed by that level. Although it no longer gains any further Experience from combat (see above), the unit will still get 1 Experience Point per overland turn, and will go up in Experience levels as normal, gaining bonuses as appropriate. The unit's icon on the overland map will not indicate its level as it would for other Normal Units and Heroes.
Armsmaster heroes may continue to train chaos-channeled units.
For their own part, it is a bad idea in practice to enchant heroes with Chaos Channels. Heroes rely heavily on combat experience to achieve the higher levels, and being limited to 1 per turn effectively halts their advancement.
Additional Bonuses Edit
When Chaos Channels is cast on a unit, it will randomly receive one of three possible permanent bonuses that improve its abilities in one way or another.
Option #1: Demon-Skin Armor Edit
If this option is selected, the unit receives a permanent Defense bonus. The size of this bonus, however, is a point of contention.
Both the game's manual and in-game tooltips explain that Demon-Skin Armor should give the unit a Defense bonus of +2. However, in actuality the unit receives +6 (respectively +3 in the unofficial 1.40 Insecticide patch).
Option #2: Fiery Breath Edit
If this option is selected, the unit receives an innate ability of Fire Breath at strength 2.
Whenever this unit performs a deliberate Melee Attack against any enemy, it will first deliver a Breath Attack with a strength of 2 per each live figure in the unit. The resulting Damage from this attack is applied before Melee Damage is calculated, so any enemy figures killed by the Fire Breath will not get to deal any Melee Damage during their Counter Attack.
This attack delivers Fire Damage, so targets with Fire Immunity and/or Magic Immunity will suffer no damage from it. (technically, their Defense score is raised to 50 for purposes of blocking the Fire Breath, meaning that they are extremely unlikely to suffer any damage).
Also Note: If the unit has the thrown ability and fire breath is chosen, fire breath will replace the thrown ability. Since chaos channels is permanent, there is no way to undo this and so the unit will lose thrown permanently.
Option #3: Demon Wings Edit
The unit may now move over any overland tile (i.e. both Land and Ocean tiles). It spends exactly 1 Movement Point per tile moved, regardless of the terrain. The unit's overland Sight Range is increased to 2 tiles, if it is not already that high.
During combat, the unit may also move freely on the battlefield at the cost of 1 Movement Point per tile. This unit is usually treated just like any other Flying unit - but due to a bug this may not always be true, with potentially mind-boggling side-effects. See also "Known Bugs", below.
Note: If the unit already has the innate ability to Fly at any speed, Chaos Channels will never pick this option. Chaos Channels will also never pick this option for a Sailing unit. However, if the unit is getting a Flying ability from a spell (such as "Flight"), this option is still valid - and would render the other spell redundant.
Random Choice Mechanism Edit
When casting Chaos Channels on a unit, its chances of getting any of the valid bonuses are equal.
Therefore, if all three bonuses are valid for the unit, each has a 33% chance of being selected at random by the game. If only two options are valid, each has a 50% chance of being selected.
If the unit has both Flying ability and Fire Breath of its own, Chaos Channels will bestow the Defense bonus on that unit with 100% certainty, as it is the only remaining option. Note that there are no situations where this bonus is invalid, so this is the "default" option.
Chaos Channels may only be cast on friendly Normal Units and Heroes. It cannot target Fantastic Creatures. The spell also cannot target any unit that has already been mutated by a Chaos Channels spell, so no unit may ever gain more than one of the benefits listed above during its lifetime.
If the desired target is in an overland army stack, click on that stack to get a list of units inside it, and then select your desired unit.
Chaos Channels may only be cast on the overland map, and has a base Casting Cost of 50. Although normally considered a Unit Enchantment, and adding an icon to the unit's ability list that resembles a Unit Enchantment icon in every respect, Chaos Channels does not behave like an enchantment. The mutation of the unit is entirely permanent, and is not held in place with magic.
This means that Chaos Channels may not be dispelled, may not be canceled by its caster, and does not require any Upkeep Costs. The unit will remain "mutated" until it is destroyed.
As mentioned above, Chaos Channels adds one of three different icons to the unit's abilities list, indicating which bonus it received from the mutation. Though the icon resembles a Unit Enchantment icon (purple background), clicking on this icon does not allow canceling the Chaos Channels effect. Note also that the unit does not receive any other sort of visual indicator that it is affected, neither on the unit icon nor the tactical display.
Customized Wizards possessing 11 Spellbooks at creation time may choose this spell as one of their default spells before starting the game, in which case the spell will already be researched and available for casting immediately on the first turn.
Wizards who possess at least 8 Spellbooks, or Wizards with 11 Spellbooks who did not select Chaos Channels as a guaranteed spell, will be able to Research this spell at some point during their campaign. Wizards with fewer than 8 Spellbooks have a random chance of being able to Research it. The chance for this spell to appear increases with the number of Chaos Spellbooks the Wizard possesses or obtains during gameplay.
Chaos Channels has a base Research Cost of 400.
With at least 1 Spellbook, the Chaos Channels spell may be acquired as a reward for winning encounters in creature Lairs, Towers, et cetera, or when conquering the Fortress of a rival wizard who has already researched this spell.
Casting Chaos Channels on a unit has its advantages and its drawbacks, leading to very different strategies concerning its use.
On the one hand, this is a permanent benefit which you can give to any Normal Unit or Hero, which can potentially make them significantly more useful. Units can always benefit from extra defense, and a permanent Flying ability for a normally non-flying unit is a terrific bonus. The mutation also works great when the casting wizard possesses spells that increase the effectiveness of all Chaos creatures (such as Chaos Surge), and so forth. The best part of course is that once the spell is cast, it requires no upkeep - the affected unit is permanently better.
On the other hand, drawbacks include the permanent transformation of the unit into a Fantastic Unit, and the fact that this spell cannot affect such units. Therefore, wizards relying greatly on summoned creatures may not have many chances to apply this spell. Furthermore, since several good Chaos Unit Enchantments will only affect Normal Units and Heroes, Chaos Channels reduces the number of valid targets for such spells.
Furthermore, it is not possible to know beforehand which mutation the target unit will receive. Therefore, you can end up with units having the "wrong" kind of mutation (i.e. one that isn't as beneficial as the one you'd hoped for), requiring repetitive production of Normal Units (or summoning of Heroes) and casting the spell on them until the desired result occurs.
But in the case of the low-end, multi-figure units that dominate a campaign's early stages, any outcome will drastically improve the unit's performance. The "Demon Wings" are easy enough to appreciate, but note that the two alternatives apply to the unit on a per-figure basis, such that an 8-Fig unit will issue eight separate Fiery Breath 2 attacks if it receives the "Fiery Breath," or that each figure in line will wield the full Defense bonus of the "Demon-Skin Armor."
Removing Chaos Channels Edit
When a Hero falls in battle, the game actually stores that Hero's data in memory, just as he was, minus the Enchantments affecting that Hero - including Chaos Channels.
When the Resurrection spell is cast, the Hero will return to life with most of his previous stats intact. Since Chaos Channels was removed from the Hero upon death, the resurrected Hero is "free" of the Chaos Channels spell. So on one hand, the spell must be re-cast on this Hero to regain its bonuses. However, this still allows you to "take back" a Chaos Channels spell that produced a less-desirable effect on that Hero. Most often, players will want their Heroes to get the Flying ability, so if Chaos Channels did not grow a pair of Demon Wings on the hero, you could get him killed, resurrect him, and re-cast the spell (hoping it'll work this time).
Known Bugs Edit
As of Master of Magic v1.31, the "Demon-Skin" and "Demon-Wings" bonuses bestowed by Chaos Channels are associated with two bizarre bugs. Both of these bugs can be very advantageous to Chaos Channels' caster, if they occur.
On the other hand, there is one apparently unintentional drawback to the "Fire Breath" bonus, if cast on a unit possessing a Thrown Attack.
Extra Defense Bug Edit
When Chaos Channels gives the unit "Demon-Skin Armor", it is supposed to bestow a Defense bonus of +2 according to the ingame tool-tip textes.
More weirdly, examining the unit's details during combat shows an even greater bonus, which can easily reach +6! This may occur during any combat, regardless of what spells (if any) affect the units or the battlefield, how many units there are, etcetera.
The unit actually receives this gigantic bonus. It confers a great advantage to the unit - especially Multi-Figure units - well beyond the intended amount. Note that the unofficial 1.40 Insecticide patch fixes the bug that the defense bonus is applied twice in combat.
Flying Ability Bug Edit
The bug concerning "Demon Wings" is even more severe - a true game-breaker than can potentially allow the player to win the game very easily. It essentially makes the enchanted unit invincible.
Normally, Walking and Swimming units may not attack Flying units. This is one of the essential rules of combat, and one of the reasons why Flying is such a useful quality. This normally applies also to units that receive the Flying ability thanks to Chaos Channels' "Demon Wings" bonus: they cannot be attacked by non-flying creatures.
However, the game becomes confused whenever a battle occurs in which the Flying Demon-Winged unit is accompanied by other non-flying units. In this case, enemy non-Flying creatures can and will attack the Demon-Winged unit!
This may sound as a serious disadvantage, but in fact the opposite is true - because when enemy non-fliers attack the Demon-Winged unit, they inflict no damage on it whatsoever. On the other hand, the Demon-Winged unit does inflict damage with its Counter Attack!
The result is that this unit can simply fly forward of the line, positioning itself closer to the enemies who will flock towards it and attempt to kill it - but instead be slowly (or quickly!) killed themselves while causing no damage to the flier. Note that this only occurs when the Demon-Winged unit is Counter Attacking; it will suffer damage as normal if it attempts to attack the non-flying enemy units.
From a technical perspective, this is likely caused by bad algorithms conflicting with one another. The program fails to prevent the non-flying enemies from attacking the Demon-Winged unit, but does prevent damage from coming across when the attack occurs.
Note that Flying vs. Flying combat is handled normally, so the Demon-Winged unit is only invincible when the enemy possesses no other flying units (at least, none that can kill it).
There may be further complications resulting from this effect. If you know of any, please add them here for record-keeping.
Fire Breath Bug Edit
This can be a problem, because generally a Thrown Attack is significantly better than a Fire Breath attack for several reasons. The first reason is that some creatures have Fire Immunity, allowing them to shrug off damage from Fire Breath, while no unit is immune to a Thrown Attack. The second reason is that many spells will increase the strength of a Thrown Attack, while very few will increase the strength of a Fire Breath attack.
Therefore it is often better to either avoid casting Chaos Channels on units possessing a Thrown Attack, or simply dismiss those that get Fire Breath as a result of the mutation. Naturally, some players simply ignore this bug, if it doesn't affect their strategy too badly.
No Experience in Combat Bug Edit
Chaos Channeled units do not gain experience in battle. They still gain Experience for each passed overland turn, especially when they are accompanied by an Armsmaster hero.
Normal Unit Spells Bug Edit
Chaos Channeled units can be a valid target for normal unit spells in battle, but not on overland map. The unofficial 1.40 Insecticide patch will forbid casting normal unit spells on Chaos Channeled unit, but will not remove already existing normal unit spells from them.