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This article/section is missing crucial information and may require additional research to answer the following questions:
  • The Death Knights' Life Steal attack is undocumented and difficult to understand. It has several quirks that make it unpredictable.

Death Knights
Summon DeathKnights
Realm Icon Death.pngDeath
Spell Properties
Spell Rarity Very Rare
Casting Cost Icon Mana.png 600
Upkeep Cost Icon Mana.png 8 per turn
Research Cost Icon Research.png 2,250
Unit Properties
# of figures Icon MultiFigureUnit.png 4
Moves Icon Movement Air3
Melee Attack per figure Icon Melee Normal.png 9
Defense per figure Icon Defense.png 8
Resistance Icon Resist.png 10
Hit Points per figure Icon Hits.png 8
Unit Abilities

Ability ToHit +30% To Hit

Ability PoisonImmunity Poison Immunity

Ability WeaponImmunity Weapon Immunity

Ability IllusionsImmunity Illusions Immunity

Ability ColdImmunity Cold Immunity

Ability DeathImmunity Death Immunity

Ability ArmorPiercing Armor Piercing

Ability FirstStrike First Strike

Ability LifeSteal Life Steal -4
Tactical DeathKnights
Death Knights are a type of Fantastic Unit featured in Master of Magic. Death Knights belong to the Icon Death.pngDeath Realm, and may be summoned using a Summoning Spell of the same name.

Death Knights are powerful Melee Attackers. In addition to their strong attack they can also utilize both First Strike and Armor Piercing to take out enemy units rapidly and efficiently. Death Knights possess the wide variety of common Icon Death.pngDeath creature immunities, including an extra Weapon Immunity. They also Fly and are very fast-moving for Icon Death.pngDeath creatures. To top it off, Death Knights possess a Life Steal attack that allows them to cause extra Icon Damage.png Damage to their enemies, while gaining back lost Icon Hits.png Hit Points themselves! As a result, they are very difficult to annihilate.

As an extra bonus, when an enemy unit is killed primarily due to the Death Knights' Life Steal ability, that unit will come back as an Undead unit under the control of the Death Knights's master!

The Fantastic Unit Edit

Physical Description Edit

Death Knights possess the weapons and abilities of choice for apocalyptic riders and personifications of death.

When summoned, a Death Knight appears as a shrouded, armored humanoid, with only its glowing red eyes shining out from under its hood. On the battlescape, Death Knights appear more fully-exposed as skeletal warriors. Each of the unit's four figures rides a supernatural black steed and wields a scythe. Its standard tactic is to swoop in on enemy positions at night, cut them to ribbons, and swallow their souls.

Death Magic features a number of spells which could be described as "necromancy," black arts which capture and bind life forces. Extremely souped-up Skeletons, Death Knights are clearly undead revenants of some sort and their creation would represent the absolute pinnacle of a necromancer's craft— probably harnessing the remains of high-ranking warriors and priests.

Attack Properties Edit

Death Knights are powerful Melee Attackers, combining a strong attack with several special abilities that make it even more deadly. Furthermore, they follow their normal attack with a Life Stealing touch that heals the Knights while injuring their enemies.

The Death Knights' attack has a strength of Icon Melee Normal.png 9. This attack is coupled with the Knights' innate Icon ToHit.png +30% To Hit bonus, which makes it very deadly. Each Knight inflicts about Icon Damage.png 5.4 points of Damage per attack on average, and with Icon Figure.png 4 figures in the unit this can amount to very serious damage.

This Icon Melee Normal.png Melee Attack also has the Armor Piercing property. As a result, the target's Defense score is halved for purposes of blocking the Death Knights' Melee Damage. In other words, the target can only make half as many Icon Defense.png Defense rolls as it normally does. This makes it significantly easier for the Death Knights to cause damage to heavily-armored targets, and allows them to absolutely dominate lightly-armored enemies.

If this is not enough, Death Knights possess First Strike: When the Death Knights initiate a voluntary attack against an enemy, their Melee Damage is delivered before the enemy's Counter Attack. As a result, any enemy Icon Figure.png figure killed by the Death Knights during such an attack does not get to deliver its own Melee Damage in retaliation. First Strike does not occur when the Death Knights are Counter Attacking; in such a case the Death Knights deliver Melee Damage simultaneously with the enemy.

Finally, the Death Knights possess a powerful Special Attack - a Life Steal attack with a strength of -4. This attack not only transfers Icon Hits.png Hit Points from the target to the Death Knights, but can also cause the target to be raised from the dead to serve the Death Knights' master after the battle.

Life Steal Edit

WikiIcon Research Research Required
This article/section is missing crucial information and may require additional research to answer the following questions:
  • The Death Knights' Life Steal attack is partially-documented in the game manual and in-game tooltips, but lacks some significant information regarding what actually happens in the game. Since testing is very difficult, much of the information below is based on conjecture.
  • Nothing is known about the mechanism that allows Death Knights to earn bonus Icon Hits.png Hit Points.
  • This attack is simultaneous with delivery of Melee Damage, but it is unknown what happens if any lost Death Knights are brought back while it is occurring. Do they also get to make a Life Steal attack? This would explain a few things, but how would it work?
Main article: Life Steal

When the Death Knights make a Melee Attack or Counter Attack, they will also execute a Life Steal attack.

Essentially, this attack forces the target to roll a random number between 1 and 10. Life Steal then delivers an amount of extra Icon Damage.png Damage to the target based on the number rolled and the target's Resistance score, using this formula:

Damage Delivered = Random Roll - (Target's Resistance - 4)

The -4 here is a penalty to Resistance applied by Life Steal itself. Results equal to or lower than 0 are ignored - delivering no damage to the target.

Simultaneously, the Death Knights themselves are healed by (what seems to be) an amount of Icon Hits.png Hit Points equal to half the Icon Damage.png Damage done to the target. So if the target suffered Icon Damage.png 10 Damage Points from Life Steal, the Death Knights gain Icon Hits.png 5 Hit Points.

Furthermore, there seems to be some mechanism in place that allows the Death Knights to gain a temporary Icon Hits.png Hit Point bonus (i.e. increasing the maximum number of Hit Points each Death Knight has). These extra Hit Points may or may not be filled immediately. The bonus points disappear after combat, whether they were filled or not.

Each individual Death Knight figure makes its own Life Steal attack, so the more Death Knights there are in the unit, the more damage this attack can do (and vicariously the more it can heal the Death Knights). Also, it seems that the maximum number of bonus Hit Points the Death Knights can gain with one Life Steal attack corresponds to the number of Death Knight figures in the unit.

Life Steal seems to be a Touch Attack, meaning that it takes place at the same time as Melee Damage is exchanged between the Death Knights and their target. Thus, a successful Life Steal will heal the Death Knights as they take damage from their enemies, if at all, and enemy figures killed off by Life Steal can still deliver damage back at the Death Knights.

However, due to First Strike, when the Death Knights are making a voluntary attack against an enemy (i.e. not a Counter Attack), their Melee Damage is applied first, and then the Life Steal attack occurs simultaneously with the enemy's Counter Attack. This means that Life Steal can only work if the Death Knights have not totally destroyed the enemy unit with their First Strike.

If the Death Knights steal enough Hit Points, lost Death Knight figures can be restored. This occurs if the number of Hit Points gained from Life Steal is greater than the amount required to heal the next living Death Knight in the unit, by at least 1 point. It also assumes that the unit is missing at least one Death Knight, of course.

Finally, if the primary source of damage that kills any enemy unit is the Death Knights' Life Steal, and the Death Knights' army goes on to win the battle, that enemy unit will probably come back as an Undead creature after the battle - under the control of the Death Knights' master! Read more on this below.

Creating Undead Edit

WikiIcon Research Research Required
This article/section is missing crucial information and may require additional research to answer the following questions:
  • It is unknown exactly how the game tracks whether or not the Death Knights' Life Steal attack has caused enough damage to an enemy in order to raise it from the dead. This leads to confusion regarding how this ability actually works.

A very important "side-effect" of the Death Knights' Life Steal attack is that it is capable of turning the target into an Undead unit - raising dead enemy units to serve the Death Knights' master after the battle is over.

This occurs only if the Death Knights have inflicted a significant amount of Icon Damage.png Damage to an enemy unit during a battle using their Life Steal attack. The Death Knights' normal Melee Damage does not create Undead units.

It is generally agreed that the Death Knights need to inflict at least 50% of the unit's total (maximum) health with one or more Life Steal attacks in order to raise that unit as Undead, though sometimes even 90% isn't enough. Note that it is possible to raise a unit even if it was killed by something other than Death Knights, as long as the Death Knights caused the majority of Icon Damage.png Damage to that unit, and as long as that this damage was caused by Life Steal.

Also, the Death Knights' army must win the battle in order to raise any dead units. Once the battle is over, you'll be treated to an animation showing the Death Knights raising the corpses of their fallen enemies.

The raised unit is identical to the unit that was killed - except it now has the Undead property, which grants it several immunities, associates it with the Icon Death.pngDeath realm, and prevents the unit from healing naturally or gaining any further Experience. The unit is now under the command of the Death Knights' owner.

Fantastic Units brought back as Undead will have their Upkeep Costs multiplied by 1.5, making them expensive to maintain. Undead Normal Units, however, have no upkeep costs at all.

Note that Heroes may not be raised as Undead under any circumstances, regardless of what killed them. Also, it seems that monsters summoned only for the duration of a battle (such as Fire Elementals or Phantom Beasts) will never come back as Undead.

Finally, in order for an enemy unit to be raised as Undead, the Death Knights' army must have no more than 8 units in it after the battle - i.e. having enough room for the new Undead unit.

Defensive Properties Edit

Death Knights are heavily-armored, with a Defense score of Icon Defense.png 8, and can block about Icon Damage.png 2.4 from any attack, on average. This makes it somewhat difficult for most enemies to cause damage to them. Only powerful attackers will have any reasonable chance of getting through this armor.

Furthermore, the Death Knights can back this up with Icon Hits.png 8 Hit Points per Death Knight, making this a very survivable unit. This is also important because it means that the Death Knights can "store" a lot of Hit Points stolen from enemy units. A healthy Death Knights unit is therefore very hard to kill.

Death Knights possess all 4 immunities common to all Icon Death.pngDeath units: Poison Immunity, Illusions Immunity, Cold Immunity and Death Immunity. This renders them invulnerable to many Curses and Special Attacks.

On top of this the Death Knights have Weapon Immunity, which temporarily raises their Defense score to Icon Defense.png 10 whenever attacked by an enemy unit using Icon Melee Normal.png Normal Weapons.

Finally, for cases where the above immunities do not apply, Death Knights possess a very high Resistance score of Icon Resist.png 10, rendering them immune to an even wider array of Curses, Special Attacks and other effects. In fact, any spell or effect that does not temporarily inflict a Resistance penalty cannot get through the Death Knights' Resistance score at all.

Other Properties Edit

Death Knights are a Flying unit, and a fast one at that - with a Movement Allowance of Icon Movement Air3. This is very important for them, especially on the battlefield where it allows them to properly utilize their First Strike ability.

Despite the logical assumption, Death Knights are not considered to be Undead (as the game defines this term). As a result, they do not obey the rules of Undead creatures; Death Knights are simply Fantastic Creatures associated with the Icon Death.pngDeath Realm.

As with most other Icon Death.pngDeath creatures, Death Knights do not heal naturally every overland turn. They also cannot be healed using Icon Life.pngLife magic spells. As explained above, the primary method of healing Death Knights is in Melee Combat where their Life Steal ability can restore lost health. The other method is through the use of the Icon Nature.pngNature spell Regeneration.

Basic Tactics Edit

Death Knights are some of the most powerful Icon Death.pngDeath creatures available, though they still must use cunning and proper tactics to maximize their combat potential.

Death Knights are very fast-moving, and their Flying ability allows them to avoid most Icon Movement GroundWalking units on the battlefield. They can bypass the enemy line to get at the soft Ranged Attackers in the rear, but are often strong enough to simply punch through the enemy line.

Death Knights utilize their speed to ensure that they always get to use First Strike on their enemies. In other words, the Death Knights will usually move closer to an enemy unit, attack it with First Strike (eliminating it, and preventing the enemy from Counter Attacking), then withdraw to prevent retaliation from other nearby enemies.

Coupled with Life Steal, this can be a devastating tactic even against stronger enemy units. The Death Knights can engage a strong enemy Melee Attacker, then withdraw to attack some weaker enemy unit - restoring their Icon Hits.png Hit Points by Stealing Life from that weaker enemy - and then return to attack the stronger unit again.

High movement speed also makes the Death Knights an excellent target for a Regeneration spell, if it is available, as they can easily keep their distance from enemy units while slowly regaining health for another attack.

Enemy Death Knights Edit

Death Knights are quite rare creatures, especially when compared to other Icon Death.pngDeath units. As neutral units they are occasionally found in Encounters such as Ancient Temples, Fallen Temples, Ruins and occasionally Towers of Wizardry. You will rarely encounter more than two neutral Death Knights at the same time, but even that is a danger.

Death Knights are particularly difficult to destroy. They can easily withdraw and switch targets as they see fit, and will regain many of their lost Icon Hits.png Hit Points whenever they attack an enemy unit. Spells, especially those that specifically target Icon Death.pngDeath creatures, may be necessary to take them out.

Otherwise, a fast-moving and very powerful Melee Attacker may be required to chase them down and kill them as soon as possible. Do not split your forces up - try to gang up on the Death Knights. Do not attack them with weaker units, as that will only serve to heal up the Death Knights themselves.

Ability Overview Edit

Ability ToHit +30% To Hit Edit

  • This unit has an extra Icon ToHit.png 30% chance to hit its target with every attack. This improves its statistical chance to inflict more Icon Damage.png Damage with each attack it makes.

Ability PoisonImmunity Poison Immunity Edit

  • This unit cannot be hurt by Poison Damage. It will automatically pass any Icon Resist.png Resistance roll to avert such damage.

Ability WeaponImmunity Weapon Immunity Edit

Ability IllusionsImmunity Illusions Immunity Edit

  • Illusion Damage inflicted on this unit does not bypass its armor. The unit gets to make its Icon Defense.png Defense rolls as normal.
  • During combat, this unit will spot all enemy Invisible creatures regardless of how close they are. Those creatures become semi-visible on the screen, and may be targeted freely like any other unit.
  • This unit is completely immune to many Curses from the Icon Sorcery.pngSorcery realm. It either may not be targeted by such curses at all, or is simply not affected by them.

Ability ColdImmunity Cold Immunity Edit

  • This unit cannot be affected by any spell or ability that delivers Cold Damage. It will simply not receive any Icon Damage.png Damage from such sources.

Ability DeathImmunity Death Immunity Edit

  • This unit cannot be affected by any spell or ability that causes death or fear, including most of the combat spells from the Icon Death.pngDeath Realm.

Ability ArmorPiercing Armor Piercing Edit

  • Whenever this unit attacks an enemy target (whether with a Melee Attack or Ranged Attack) the target's Icon Defense.png Defense rating is temporarily assumed to be 50% lower than it really is.
  • This ability makes it easier to cause damage to heavily-armored targets.

Ability FirstStrike First Strike Edit

Ability LifeSteal Life Steal -4 Edit

  • When this unit makes a Melee Attack or Counter Attack, it also delivers a Touch Attack that can suck the life out of its target.
  • The target makes a random roll between 1 and 10. This is then compared to the target's Resistance score, at a penalty of Icon Resist.png -4. The target then suffers an amount of Icon Damage.png Damage equal to the difference between these numbers.
  • The Life Stealing unit is healed by a number of Hit Points equal to the amount of Icon Damage.png Damage caused by Life Steal. It may also gain bonus Hit Points that will last until the end of the battle.
  • If Life Steal deals the majority of damage to an enemy unit during combat, the enemy unit may return to life as an Undead unit after the battle. This reanimated unit is now controlled by the owner of the Life Stealer.
  • Raising undead units only occurs if the Life Stealer's army wins the battle, and only if there is room to absorb the new unit(s) in this army.

The Summoning Spell Edit

Usage Edit

Death Knights may only be cast on the overland map, for the base Casting Cost of Icon Mana.png 600. Upon casting, the new Death Knights unit will appear in the town currently containing the caster's Summoning Circle.

The new unit is created with full Movement Points, and may move and/or attack immediately as necessary.

To keep the Death Knights in play, it is necessary to pay an Upkeep Cost of Icon Mana.png 8 per turn. This is drawn automatically from the caster's Mana pool each turn. Failure to pay the required costs due to lack of Icon Mana.png Mana in the pool will lead to the Death Knights being immediately destroyed, along with any Unit Enchantments currently affecting it.

If the unit is destroyed in combat, then it is gone from the world entirely, and there is no further need to pay its Upkeep Costs.

You can also dismiss the Death Knights voluntarily. To do this, right-click the unit's icon and then press the red "Dismiss" button on the bottom right corner of the unit's details panel. A dismissed unit is gone forever, but of course you can always cast the Death Knights spell again to get a fresh new one. The primary reason to dismiss a Fantastic Creature would be to remove its Upkeep Cost (conserving Icon Mana.png Mana as a result).

Acquisition Edit

As a Very Rare Icon Death.pngDeath spell, Death Knights may become available to any Wizard who possesses at least Icon Death.png3 Spellbooks. However, its availability during the game is not guaranteed unless the Wizard acquires at least Icon Death.png10 Spellbooks.

Death Knights may not be acquired at the start of the campaign regardless of how many Spellbooks the wizard possesses. It must either be Researched during the game, or acquired through other means.

Wizards with Icon Death.png3 to Icon Death.png9 Spellbooks have a random chance of being able to Research Death Knights during the game. The chance for this spell to appear for research increases with the number of Icon Death.pngDeath Spellbooks the Wizard possesses or obtains during gameplay. With Icon Death.png10 or Icon Death.png11 Spellbooks, the spell is guaranteed to appear for Research at some point, if it is not already available for casting.

Death Knights has a base Research Cost of Icon Research.png 2,250.

With at least Icon Death.png3 Spellbooks, the Death Knights 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.

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