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A Hero Strategy is a winning strategy that relies on Heroes instead of Normal Units or Fantastic Units. There's one strategy that is considered by far the best. It is explained further below. But let's cover the hero basics first.

Hiring Heroes Edit

Each round there's a certain chance, that a Hero shows up for hire. This chance depends on the Wizard's current fame and the number of heroes in service.

monthly Chances for Hero Offers (without Famous Retort)
# Heroes Icon Fame.png 0 Icon Fame.png 25 Icon Fame.png 50 Icon Fame.png 75 Icon Fame.png 100
0 3 % 4 % 5 % 6 % 7 %
1 - 2 1 % 2 % 2 % 3 % 3 %
3 - 4 1 % 1 % 1 % 2 % 2 %
5 0 % 1 % 1 % 1 % 1 %

The chances in percent are always integer. At least Icon Fame.png 25 Fame are needed to increase the chances. Having one hero in service decreases the intitial chances from 3% to 1%. So, a player may not want to take the very first hero showing up (or better accept his offer and kill him so that he will never show up again). A certain amount of Icon Fame.png Fame is needed before certain heroes offer their service:

Icon Fame.png req. Fame Heroes
Icon Fame.png 0 Fame Hero Brax
Brax
Hero Gunthar
Gunther
Hero Zaldron
Zaldron
Hero BShan
B'Shan
Hero Rakir
Rakir
Hero Valana
Valana
Hero Bahgtru
Bahgtru
Hero Serena
Serena
Hero Shuri
Shuri
Hero Theria
Theria
Icon Fame.png 5 Fame
 
Hero Greyfairer
Greyfairer
Hero Taki
Taki
Hero Reywind
Reywind
Hero Malleus
Malleus
Hero Tumu
Tumu
Icon Fame.png 10 Fame
 
Hero Jaer
Jaer
Hero Marcus
Marcus
Hero Fang
Fang
Hero Morgana
Morgana
Hero Aureus
Aureus
Icon Fame.png 20 Fame
 
Hero ShinBo
Shin Bo
Hero Spyder
Spyder
Hero Shalla
Shalla
Hero Yramrag
Yramrag
Hero MysticX
Mystic X
Icon Fame.png 40 Fame
or Incarnation
 
Hero Aerie
Aerie
Hero DethStryke
Deth Stryke
Hero Elana
Elana
Hero Roland
Roland
Hero Mortu
Mortu
Hero Alorra
Alorra
Hero SirHarold
Sir Harold
Hero Ravashack
Ravashack
Hero Warrax
Warrax
Hero Torin
Torin

Note: At least one Icon Life.pngLife spellbook is needed for Elana and Roland. At least one Icon Death.pngDeath spellbook is needed for Mortu and Ravashack. Summon Hero randomly summons one of the heroes listed betweeen Brax and Yramrag. Summon Champion randomly summons one of the heroes listed between Mystic X and Warrax (spellbook requirement must be matched). Torin can only be acquired by using the Incarnation spell.

Hero Abilities Edit

If a Hero is useful or not may depend on his or her Hero Abilities. About half of the heroes come with Random Abilities. Those are random picks which are determined at the start of the game. Here's a list of abilities I consider useful:

Icon Name Category Short Description
Ability Lucky Hero Lucky Any This Hero receives exactly Icon ToHit.png +10% To Hit, Icon ToBlock.png +10% To Block and Icon Resist.png +1 Resistance. Opponents are penalized with Icon ToHit.png -10% To Hit when attacking this hero in melee.
Ability Caster Caster Mage This Hero has his/her own Icon Mana.png Mana pool, equal to Caster level * Experience Level, can cast any combat spells known to his/her employer, and can contribute to the employer's Spell Skill.
Ability ArcanePower Arcane Power Mage This Hero receives Icon Ranged Magic.png +1 Magical Ranged Attack per Experience Level.
Ability Blademaster Blademaster Fighter This Hero receives Icon ToHit.png +5% To Hit per Experience Level.
Ability Agility Agility Fighter This Hero receives Icon Defense.png +1 Defense per Experience Level.
Ability Constitution Constitution Fighter This Hero receives Icon Hits.png +1 Hit Point per Experience Level.
Ability Might Might Fighter This Hero receives Icon Melee Normal.png +1 Melee Attack strength per Experience Level.

All heroes with random picks can get Lucky. This is the ultimate pick for most heroes. The Icon ToHit.png +10% To Hit bonus is always nice to have, especially for heroes with 2 attack types. Additionally, Lucky boosts the hero's defense in two ways: Icon ToBlock.png +10% To Block increases the effectiveness of Icon Defense.png Shields, e.g. Icon Defense.png 15 + Icon ToBlock.png +10% is as effective as Icon Defense.png 20. Secondly, Icon ToHit.png -10% enemy To Hit decreases the effectiveness of all enemy melee attacks, e.g. Icon Melee Normal.png 15 + Icon ToHit.png -10% is as effective as Icon Melee Normal.png 10 (provided that the enemy has no internal To Hit modifier). Note: The Icon ToHit.png -10% enemy To Hit malus was removed in the unofficial 1.40n Insecticide patch.

Heroes with Caster ability will contribute half of their skill to the Wizard's monthly overland casting skill, if they stay in the wizard's Fortress. This is important to know for the strategy explained further below.

Which Attributes does a Hero need? Edit

A Hero needs to fulfill at least one of the following 4 properties to become a good fighter:

If a hero doesn't fulfill any of these properties, then he or she will always be in great danger when being used in battle. It's not worth putting all the effort (Items) and time (Experience) into a hero that dies to easily.

Don't underestimate the effect of Icon Defense.png Defense! A hero with Lucky, Agility and Invisibility may even become immune to the attack of a Great Drake, which is with distance the strongest attack in the whole game.

Items and Hero Attacks Edit

A Hero can carry a Weapon (Sword, Mace, Axe, Bow, Wand, Staff) and at least one Miscellaneous Item (Jewelry). Not every weapon type can be equipped by each hero. If the hero is able to carry a Sword, then he or she is also able to carry an Armor Item (Platemail, Chainmail, Shield). Otherwise, the hero is able to carry a second Miscellaneous Item. The different Item types boost the hero stats by this at maximum:

Bonus Type Item Type
Sword Mace Axe Bow Staff Wand Jewelry Shield /
Chain /
Plate
Attack Icon Melee Normal.png +3 Icon Melee Normal.png +4 Icon Melee Normal.png +6 Icon Ranged Bow.png +6 Icon Ranged Magic.png +6 Icon Ranged Magic.png +2 +4 --
Defense Icon Defense.png +3 Icon Defense.png +1 -- Icon Defense.png +3 Icon Defense.png +3 -- Icon Defense.png +4 Icon Defense.png +6
Movement -- -- -- -- -- -- Icon Movement Ground+3 Icon Movement Ground+4
Resistance -- -- -- -- -- -- Icon Resist.png +6 Icon Resist.png +6
Spell Skill Icon Mana.png +10 Icon Mana.png +10 Icon Mana.png +10 Icon Mana.png +10 Icon Mana.png +20 Icon Mana.png +10 Icon Mana.png +15 --
Spell Save -- -- -- -- Icon Resist.png -4 Icon Resist.png -4 Icon Resist.png -4 --
To Hit Icon ToHit.png +3 Icon ToHit.png +3 Icon ToHit.png +2 Icon ToHit.png +3 Icon ToHit.png +3 Icon ToHit.png +1 Icon ToHit.png +2 --

Note: Chain and Plate Mails created with Enchant Item and Create Artifact have an additional defense bonus which is Icon Defense.png +1 for Chain Mails and Icon Defense.png +2 for Plate Mails. A melee hero may get up to Icon Defense.png +15 Shields by just wearing items (Icon Defense.png +3 for Sword, Icon Defense.png +8 for Plate Mail and Icon Defense.png +4 for Jewel)!

The listed Attack and To Hit boni won't improve all attack types. For the 5 different hero attack types we have:

  • Icon Melee Normal.png Melee Attack: Attack and To Hit are improved by Sword, Mace, Axe and Jewelry, but not by Bow, Staff and Wand.
  • Icon Ranged Magic.png Ranged Magic: Attack and To Hit are improved by Staff, Wand and Jewelry, but not by Sword, Mace, Axe and Bow.
  • Icon Ranged Bow.png Ranged Missile: Attack and To Hit are improved by Bow and Jewelry, but not by Sword, Mace, Axe, Staff and Wand.
  • Icon Thrown.png Thrown Attack: Attack is improved by Axe and Jewelry, but not by Sword, Mace, Bow, Staff and Wand. To Hit isn't improved by any kind of Item. The hero needs Blademaster ability to reach +7 To Hit.
  • Icon Breath.png Fire Breath: Attack is improved by Jewelry, but not by Sword, Mace, Axe, Bow, Staff and Wand. To Hit isn't improved by any kind of Item. The hero needs Blademaster ability to reach +7 To Hit.

Note: In the unofficial 1.40n Insecticide patch, Thrown receives a To Hit bonus from Axes and Jewelry. Same is true for Fire Breath in case of Jewelry.

Icon Ranged Magic.png Ranged Magic is the most useful from these attack types. One attack just requires Icon Mana.png 3 Mana. So, rising 1 level does not only improve the hero's attack strength but also the number of ranged attacks the hero may make. The ranged attack will become devasting, if the hero has Arcane Power or Blademaster, or if the hero is equipped with a decent Staff. It's even possible to overcome the Icon Defense.png 50 Shields granted by Magic Immunity. Icon Defense.png 50 Shields will absorb 15 Damage in average, so the hero just needs to have Icon Ranged Magic.png 16 and Icon ToHit.png +70% for a fifty-fifty chance of inflicting damage.

Item Powers Edit

Item Powers are special offensive and defensive abilities offered by items, a Hero may not obtain otherwise. The item power's effect cannot be dispelled. If a Wizard is able to create an artifact with a certain item power, depends entirely on how many Spellbooks the wizard posseses in the corresponding Magic Realm. A wizard does not need to learn the corresponding spell (if there is any) to use the item power. For example, a wizard with 5 Icon Sorcery.pngSorcery spellbooks has pretty small chances to learn the spells Flight, Magic Immunity and Invisibility. However, the same wizard is able to create artifacts with the corresponding item powers as soon as he or she has learned the Create Artifact spell.

Here's a list of Item Powers I consider useful

Spell Need Cost Limitations Effect (If Different)
Endurance Icon Life.png2 Icon Mana.png 200 Jewelry and Armor
Righteousness Icon Life.png4 Icon Mana.png 500 Jewelry and Armor
Invulnerability Icon Life.png5 Icon Mana.png 1,200   Jewelry and Armor
True Sight Icon Life.png6 Icon Mana.png 500 Jewelry
Lion Heart Icon Life.png6 Icon Mana.png 1,000 Jewelry
Stoning Icon Nature.png2 Icon Mana.png 150 Weapon Stoning Touch -1
Water Walking Icon Nature.png2 Icon Mana.png 100 Jewelry
Pathfinding Icon Nature.png3 Icon Mana.png 200 Jewelry
Regeneration Icon Nature.png6 Icon Mana.png 1,500 Jewelry
Flight Icon Sorcery.png3 Icon Mana.png 200 Jewelry
Guardian Wind Icon Sorcery.png3 Icon Mana.png 400 All but Staff, Bow, Wand
Invisibility Icon Sorcery.png5 Icon Mana.png 1,000 Jewelry
Magic Immunity Icon Sorcery.png5 Icon Mana.png 700 Anything
Phantasmal Icon Sorcery.png6 Icon Mana.png 1,500 Any Weapon Illusionary Attack
Haste Icon Sorcery.png7 Icon Mana.png 2,000 Physical Weapon
Flaming Icon Chaos.png2 Icon Mana.png 300 Any Weapon Icon Melee Normal.png +3
Lightning Icon Chaos.png5 Icon Mana.png 800 Any Weapon Armor Piercing
Chaos Icon Chaos.png6 Icon Mana.png 2,000 Any Weapon besides Wand   Doom Damage, half Attack
Death Icon Death.png3 Icon Mana.png 400 Any Weapon Death Touch -3
Wraithform Icon Death.png4 Icon Mana.png 1,200 Jewelry and Armor
Vampiric Icon Death.png5 Icon Mana.png 800 Sword, Mace, Axe Life Steal - 0

The last 5 ones aren't very useful though. I want to put emphasis on the following Item Powers:

  • Flight: Being able to fly has advantages both in combat and on overland map. Additionally, it increases your moves on overland map by one (also in combat, but only if you are not wearing Armor or Jewelry with extra moves).
  • Magic Immunity: This makes you immune to all damage dealing spells and gives you Icon Defense.png 50 Shields against Icon Ranged Magic.png Ranged Magic, Icon Breath.png Fire Breath and Icon Breath Lightning.png Lightning Breath, as well as Icon Resist.png 30 Crosses against everything but Poison (which makes you immune to Life Steal, Stoning Gaze, Stoning Touch, Death Gaze and all resist or suffer spells). On Hard and Impossible Difficulty Settings, the enemy wizards will relentlessly throw Psionic Blast, Lightning Bolt, Doom Bolt and Ice Bolt on you. Magic Immunity is pretty much the only way to survive these spells (a combination of Invulnerabilty, Righteousness and True Sight may also work). Note: Web and Cracks Call still work!
  • Invisibility: The enemy AI won't use any ranged attack against you. Enemies without Illusions Immunity are penalized with Icon ToHit.png -10% To Hit in melee combat. Note: Through a bug, the enemy will still know where you are and throw spells on you. But it is still worth its costs!
  • Flaming: Your weapon receives +3 Attack strength. Especially useful on Swords, Bows and Axes.
  • Invulnerability: Absorbs the first 2 hits inflicted by every enemy figure and damage dealing spells. You also receive Weapon Immunity (which is useless if you have Icon Defense.png 10+ Shields).
  • True Sight: This gives you Illusions Immunity. Phantom Warriors, Phantom Beast, Aerie and Psionic Blast won't penetrate your Icon Defense.png Defense anymore and you become immune to Mind Storm.
  • Lion Heart: You receive you Icon Melee Normal.png +3, Icon Ranged Bow.png +3, Icon Thrown.png +3, Icon Hits.png +3 and Icon Resist.png +3. This is one of the few ways to increase your number of Icon Hits.png Hit Points permanently.

The offensive item powers only work for the attack(s) related to the weapon (e.g. melee attack for a sword; melee and thrown for an Axe). An axe literally doubles the effect of Stoning, Death and Vampiric when given to a hero with a thrown attack.

Spells Edit

Here's a list of spells I consider very useful in connection to Heroes. Most of these spells restore health, make heroes harder to hit or interact with heroes in a special way. Spells with a corresponding Item Power are not listed (e.g. Magic Immunity).

Name Rarity Description
Summon Hero Icon Arcane.png2 summons a random hero that requires Icon Fame.png 20 Fame or less
S. Champion Icon Arcane.png3 summons a random hero that requires Icon Fame.png 40 Fame (plus Mystic X)
Create Artifact Icon Arcane.png3 creates a self-designed item that can be worn by heroes
Healing Icon Life.png1 restores Icon Hits.png 5 HP; very useful because heroes tend to have few Icon Hits.png HP
Just Cause Icon Life.png1 adds Icon Fame.png 10 Fame; new heroes may offer their service (e.g. Malleus, Fang)
Holy Armor Icon Life.png1 adds Icon Defense.png 2 Shields
Heroism Icon Life.png1 promotes a hero to Icon ExpLevel 3.png Commander level; useful for any unexperienced hero
Resurrection Icon Life.png2 revives a fallen hero that was not killed by irreversible Damage (e.g. Cracks Call)
Prayer Icon Life.png2 boosts the offense (Icon ToHit.png +10%) and defense (Icon ToBlock.png +10%,Icon ToHit.png enemy -10%) of your troops
Incarnation Icon Life.png3 summons Torin the Chosen, a very mighty warrior and skilled caster
Confusion Icon Sorcery.png1 tries to confuse units (resist at -4!); useful if hero wears Icon SpellSave.png -Spell Save items
Word of Recall Icon Sorcery.png1 recalls a unit, either on the overland map or during combat
Counter Magic Icon Sorcery.png1 tries to dispel future enemy spells (e.g. Web, damage dealing spells)
Banish Icon Sorcery.png3 tries to kill a Fantastic Unit; useful if hero wears Icon SpellSave.png -Spell Save items
Web Icon Nature.png1 traps the target in a web; removes Flying
Nature's Cures Icon Nature.png2 completely heals a whole stack
Iron Skin Icon Nature.png3 adds Icon Defense.png 5 Shields
Warp Reality Icon Chaos.png3 penalizes all Icon Chaos.pngnon-Chaos units with Icon ToHit.png -20% To Hit
Disintegrate Icon Chaos.png4 kills a unit with less than Icon Resist.png 10 Crosses; useful if hero wears Icon SpellSave.png -Spell Save items
Black Sleep Icon Death.png1 tries to kill a unit; useful if hero wears Icon SpellSave.png -Spell Save items
Life Drain Icon Death.png1 tries to steal life; useful to restore health

Retorts Edit

There are 2 Retorts that enhance the wizard's Item Crafting skills:

If you possess both retorts, then item costs are quartered (-75% reduction). This has a very nice side effect: You can earn Icon Mana.png Mana by creating items and destroying them afterwards (anvil symbol). For every mana spent, you get 2 mana back (netto win: 1 mana)! The higher your Spell Skill, the faster you are able to earn mana. Spell Skill can be increased by stationing spell casting heroes in your fortress, or investing Icon Power.png Power in skill. The Archmage retort may also be helpful, if you possess the other 2 retorts.

Famous retort adds Icon Fame.png 10 Fame and doubles the chances for hero offers. However, it requires 2 picks, so I don't consider it useful.

Strategy Edit

Let's summarize some results of the previous sections:

Combining these results, you get the following build:

Jafar and Kali can be nasty opponents. Choosing one of them as customized leader is recommended.

Procedure Edit

In the first round, put Tax Rate to Icon Gold.png 2.0 and convert Icon Power.png Power solely into Icon Mana.png Mana. Create an artifact with a total cost of Icon Mana.png 38 and destroy it for Icon Mana.png 75. Afterwards, convert Icon Power.png Power solely into Spell Skill and continue creating & destroying artifacts. Also use Earth Lore and Magic Spirits to explore the surroundings. With a skill of 20, you can try to conquer nearby Sorcery Nodes guarded by Phantom Warriors, Nagas, Phantom Beasts and Air Elementals.

As soon as you reach Icon Gold.png 100 Gold, Icon Fame.png 0 Fame Heroes may offer their service. If you get a Spell Caster early on, you must decide which way to go: either be offensive by conquering neutral Towns and clearing small dungeons (with Heroism and lesser Items), or be defensive by staying in the fortress in order to increase your wizard's global spell skill (with Heroism and a Icon Mana.png 10 Mana weapon). Since hiring heroes is very unreliable, you should try to get Summon Hero as soon as possible, either by Research or by trade in return for Enchant Item or Create Artifact.

Personally, I guard my hometown with 1 or 2 Longbowmen and a City Wall (made by Wall of Stone). I don't build any Outpost, and I often raze neutral towns I conquer. The more you expand, the higher the chances that enemy wizards send troops to your places or even worse declare war on you. So, stay rather defensively until you have a semi-good hero equipped with semi-good items:

Warrior Build (no thrown, no missile):
ItemSlot Sword Sword: Icon Melee Normal.png 3 Attack, Icon Defense.png 3 Defense, up to Icon ToHit.png 3 To Hit, perhaps Icon Mana.png 10 Mana or Stoning
ItemSlot Shield Chain/Plate: up to Icon Defense.png 6 Defense, up to Icon Movement Ground4 Moves, Magic Immunity, perhaps Endurance, Bless or Icon Resist.png 2
ItemSlot Misc Jewelry: up to Icon Melee Normal.png 4 Attack, up to Icon Defense.png 4 Defense, Flight, probably Invisibility

Mage Build:
ItemSlot Staff Staff: up to Icon Ranged Magic.png 6 Attack, Icon Defense.png 3 Defense, up to Icon ToHit.png 3 To Hit, up to Icon Mana.png 20 Mana
ItemSlot Misc Jewelry #1: up to Icon Ranged Magic.png 4 Attack, up to Icon Defense.png 4 Defense, Flight, up to Icon Movement Ground3 Moves
ItemSlot Misc Jewelry #2: up to Icon Ranged Magic.png 4 Attack, up to Icon Defense.png 4 Defense, Magic Immunity, Invisibility or up to Icon Movement Ground3 Moves

Weak Points Edit

The strategy mentioned above is a very solid way to beat the game on any Difficulty Setting. There are a few points you have to pay attention to:

  • Enemy Icon Sorcery.pngSorcery wizards may use Spell Blast to stop you from creating artifacts and summoning heroes. There's no way to counter Spell Blast as soon as a wizard begins to use it against you. So watch out for Jafar and Kali. You don't have to fear Horus though, since he is generally among your best friends.
  • Enemy Icon Nature.pngNature wizards may use the combination Web + Cracks Call which can irreversibly kill even the strongest hero. You'll also lose the hero's artifacts - even if you win the battle. One remedy is entering the battle with cannon fodder (weak ground units). Try to attack the wizard's fortress first.
  • Phantom Warriors and Phantom Beasts ignore your armor entirely - unless you have True Sight. The Chaos Spawn's Doom Gaze causes fixed damage - no way to stop that.

Alternative builds Edit

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