Ability FirstStrike
First Strike is one of the many Unit Abilities available in Master of Magic.

First Strike is sometimes considered a type of Special Attack, but instead of allowing a unit to deliver extra damage to its target, it actually changes the order in which damage is exchanged between the unit and its target.

When a unit with First Strike makes a voluntary Icon Melee Normal.png Melee Attack against a target, it delivers both Melee Damage and any Touch Attack it may possess before the target gets to deliver its own Melee Damage and Touch Attacks.

As a result, a unit with First Strike can kill one or more Icon Figure.png figures in the target unit just prior to the target's retaliation. Any figures killed this way do not deliver any retaliatory damage. This gives the First Strike unit defensibility through offense.

First Strike is a fairly-common ability, possessed by no fewer than 13 units by default. 8 of these are Normal Units from different Races (particularly Cavalry), 3 are Fantastic Units, and 2 are powerful Champions. All units with First Strike are quite fast-moving, an important property required to utilize the First Strike ability in battle.

There is no known method of adding First Strike to a unit that does not possess it by default.

Note that there is another unit ability, called Negate First Strike, whose only purpose is to prevent First Strike from working at all.

Description Edit

One of the primary advantages of mounted units is their ability to charge into an enemy formation at high speed. This allows the unit to control the engagement, dash in, and inflict as much damage on the enemy as possible before the enemy can even react. The vast majority of units can only ready themselves and hope that they survive this initial onslaught so that they can return some damage to the cavalry that charged them.

Not every horse-mounted unit in the game possesses this ability, but it is mostly common among Cavalry units and other similar mounted troops. The speed and agility of a horse is all but required in order to perform this complex maneuver.

Effect Edit

First Strike is automatically used whenever the unit makes a voluntary Icon Melee Normal.png Melee Attack against an enemy unit. It is not used when the First Strike unit is Counter Attacking to an enemy assault.

First Strike does not increase the unit's damage output in any way. Its only effect is that it rearranges the order of the combat round, allowing the First Strike unit to deliver its damage before the enemy can retaliate.

During combat where First Strike is not involved, the exchange of damage is handled in the following order:

  1. The attacker delivers its Icon Breath.png Breath Attack or Icon Thrown.png Thrown Attack, if it has one.
  2. The attacker delivers its Gaze Attacks, if it has any.
  3. The defender delivers its Gaze Attacks, if it has any.
  4. Both attacker and defender exchange Melee Damage with each other, as well as any Touch Attacks they might have. This is done simultaneously.

Any Icon Figure.png figure in the attacking and defending unit that survives any of the above stages gets to continue to the next stage and deliver the appropriate attacks. Figures that die during any stage do not proceed to the next stage, and thus their unit's overall damage output is reduced for that stage.

When First Strike is utilized, the order of combat is radically altered, giving the attacker a serious advantage:

  1. The attacker delivers its Icon Breath.png Breath Attack or Icon Thrown.png Thrown Attack, if it has one.
  2. The attacker delivers its Gaze Attacks, if it has any.
  3. The defender delivers its Gaze Attacks, if it has any.
  4. The attacker delivers its Icon Melee Normal.png Melee Attack, and any Touch Attacks it might have.
  5. The defender delivers its Icon Melee Normal.png Melee Attack, and any Touch Attacks it might have.

Essentially, First Strike added another step along the process, allowing the attacker to deliver its Melee Attack and/or Touch Attacks first. Once again, enemy Icon Figure.png figures killed during this new stage do not reach stage #5 alive, and thus cannot retaliate with their any Melee Damage or Touch Attacks!

The overall result is (usually) that the strength of the enemy's Counter Attack is significantly reduced - assuming the attacker has managed to kill some enemy Icon Figure.png figures during its charge. Even better: if the enemy unit is entirely destroyed during step #4, it delivers no Counter Attack at the First Strike unit (apart from Gaze Attacks, if at all available, which are delivered during steps #2 and #3).

The result, therefore, is reduced risk to the attacker. The attacker might even suffer no damage at all, removing the primary drawback of Melee combat compared to Ranged combat.

Example Edit

Lets imagine a unit of Nagas attacking a unit of Gnoll Spearmen. Both units are at full health for the purposes of this example. The Nagas unit possesses the First Strike ability, as well as a Poison Touch ability of strength 4.
If the Gnoll Spearmen makes a Icon Melee Normal.png Melee Attack against the Nagas, the normal order of combat is used. Thus, the exchange of Melee Damage between the two units occurs simultaneously, as well as the Nagas causing extra Poison Damage to the Gnoll Spearmen. The Nagas unit stands to bear the full strength of the Spearmen's attack, which can potentially amount to roughly Icon Damage.png 7.2 points of Damage - easily enough to kill one of the Nagas.
However, if it is the Nagas who make the Icon Melee Normal.png Melee Attack against the Gnoll Spearmen, then First Strike is triggered, and it changes the order of combat. In this case, the Nagas deliver both their Melee Damage and Poison Damage first.
The Nagas can be expected to deliver a total of roughly Icon Damage.png 8.8 points of Damage - easily enough to kill most or all of the Gnoll Spearmen. Only those spearmen who actually survive the attack may deliver their own Damage back at the Nagas. If the entire Gnoll Spearmen unit is killed this way, it delivers no damage whatsoever back at the Nagas!

Negate First Strike Edit

Several types of units possess a "counter-ability" specifically designed to prevent First Strike from working. It is unsurprisingly called "Negate First Strike".

When a unit with First Strike attacks a unit with Negate First Strike, the First Strike ability is not utilized at all. It does not trigger, and does not change the order of the combat round. Thus, combat proceeds normally, with both units exchanging Melee Damage and Touch Attacks simultaneously.

Units with Default First Strike Edit

There are exactly 13 units that possesses First Strike by default. 8 are Normal Units, most of whom are Cavalry or cavalry-like units from various Races. 3 are Fantastic Units, and 2 more are Champions.

Normal Units Edit

Tactical BarbarianCavalry Barbarian Cavalry
Tactical DarkElfCavalry Dark Elf Cavalry
Tactical HighElfCavalry High Elf Cavalry
Tactical HighMenCavalry High Men Cavalry
Tactical ElvenLords Elven Lords
Tactical Griffins Griffins
Tactical Paladins Paladins
Tactical WarMammoths War Mammoths

Fantastic Units Edit

Tactical Colossus Colossus
Tactical DeathKnights Death Knights
Tactical Nagas Nagas

Champions Edit

Tactical Hero Mortu Mortu the Black Knight
Tactical Hero Roland Roland the Paladin

Note that except for Nagas, all of these units have a Movement Allowance of at least 2 by default (some Icon Movement GroundWalking, some Icon Movement AirFlying). Maneuverability is extremely important for these units, as they need to ensure that every Melee combat they enter is voluntary - never allow the enemy to initiate it, else the First Strike ability does not come into play!

If these units' Movement Allowance is sufficiently increased, the unit may be able to move into combat range, make an attack, and retreat immediately to prevent the enemy from attacking it afterwards. This is a classic maneuver that can grant considerable survivability to the First Strike unit.

Acquiring First Strike Edit

There is no known method of adding a First Strike ability to any unit that does not already possess it.

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