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
|monthly Chances for Hero Offers (without Famous Retort)|
|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 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 Fame is needed before certain heroes offer their service:
|0 Fame|| |
| 5 Fame|| |
| 10 Fame|| |
| 20 Fame|| |
| 40 Fame|
Note: At least one Life spellbook is needed for Elana and Roland. At least one Death 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:
|Lucky||Any||This Hero receives exactly +10% To Hit, +10% To Block and +1 Resistance. Opponents are penalized with -10% To Hit when attacking this hero in melee.|
|Caster||Mage||This Hero has his/her own 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.|
|Arcane Power||Mage||This Hero receives +1 Magical Ranged Attack per Experience Level.|
|Blademaster||Fighter||This Hero receives +5% To Hit per Experience Level.|
|Agility||Fighter||This Hero receives +1 Defense per Experience Level.|
|Constitution||Fighter||This Hero receives +1 Hit Point per Experience Level.|
|Might||Fighter||This Hero receives +1 Melee Attack strength per Experience Level.|
All heroes with random picks can get Lucky. This is the ultimate pick for most heroes. The +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: +10% To Block increases the effectiveness of Shields, e.g. 15 + +10% is as effective as 20. Secondly, -10% enemy To Hit decreases the effectiveness of all enemy melee attacks, e.g. 15 + -10% is as effective as 10 (provided that the enemy has no internal To Hit modifier). Note: The -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:
- having a Ranged Attack, preferably a Ranged Magic Attack
- having First Strike or a strong Thrown Attack
- having lots of Hit Points, preferably through Constitution
- having a good defense, preferably through Agility or Lucky
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 too easily.
Don't underestimate the effect of 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 /|
Note: Chain and Plate Mails created with Enchant Item and Create Artifact have an additional defense bonus which is +1 for Chain Mails and +2 for Plate Mails. A melee hero may get up to +15 Shields by just wearing items ( +3 for Sword, +8 for Plate Mail and +4 for Jewel)!
- Melee Attack: Attack and To Hit are improved by Sword, Mace, Axe and Jewelry, but not by Bow, Staff and Wand.
- Ranged Magic: Attack and To Hit are improved by Staff, Wand and Jewelry, but not by Sword, Mace, Axe and Bow.
- Ranged Missile: Attack and To Hit are improved by Bow and Jewelry, but not by Sword, Mace, Axe, Staff and Wand.
- 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.
- 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, To Hit can also be improved by the same items that boost the Attack Strength of the last two Attack Types (i.e. Axes and Jewelry for Thrown and Jewelry for Breath).
Ranged Magic is the most useful from these attack types. One attack just requires 3 Mana. So, gaining 1 level not only improves the hero's Attack Strength, but also the number of ranged attacks they 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 50 Shields granted by Magic Immunity. 50 Shields will absorb 15 Damage in average, so the hero just needs to have 16 and +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 magical 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 Sorcery 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||2||200||Jewelry and Armor|
|Righteousness||4||500||Jewelry and Armor|
|Invulnerability||5||1,200||Jewelry and Armor|
|Stoning||2||150||Weapon||Stoning Touch -1|
|Guardian Wind||3||400||All but Staff, Bow, Wand|
|Phantasmal||6||1,500||Any Weapon||Illusionary Attack|
|Lightning||5||800||Any Weapon||Armor Piercing|
|Chaos||6||2,000||Any Weapon besides Wand||Doom Damage, half Attack|
|Death||3||400||Any Weapon||Death Touch -3|
|Wraithform||4||1,200||Jewelry and Armor|
|Vampiric||5||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 50 Shields against Ranged Magic, Fire Breath and Lightning Breath, as well as 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 -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 10+ Shields).
- True Sight: This gives you Illusions Immunity. Phantom Warriors, Phantom Beast, Aerie and Psionic Blast won't penetrate your Defense anymore and you become immune to Mind Storm.
- Lion Heart: You receive you +3, +3, +3, +3 and +3. This is one of the few ways to increase your number of 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.
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).
|Summon Hero||2||summons a random hero that requires 20 Fame or less|
|S. Champion||3||summons a random hero that requires 40 Fame (plus Mystic X)|
|Create Artifact||3||creates a self-designed item that can be worn by heroes|
|Healing||1||restores 5 HP; very useful because heroes tend to have few HP|
|Just Cause||1||adds 10 Fame; new heroes may offer their service (e.g. Malleus, Fang)|
|Holy Armor||1||adds 2 Shields|
|Heroism||1||promotes a hero to Commander level; useful for any unexperienced hero|
|Resurrection||2||revives a fallen hero that was not killed by irreversible Damage (e.g. Cracks Call)|
|Prayer||2||boosts the offense ( +10%) and defense ( +10%, enemy -10%) of your troops|
|Incarnation||3||summons Torin the Chosen, a very mighty warrior and skilled caster|
|Confusion||1||tries to confuse units (resist at -4!); useful if hero wears -Spell Save items|
|Word of Recall||1||recalls a unit, either on the overland map or during combat|
|Counter Magic||1||tries to dispel future enemy spells (e.g. Web, damage dealing spells)|
|Banish||3||tries to kill a Fantastic Unit; useful if hero wears -Spell Save items|
|Web||1||traps the target in a web; removes Flying|
|Nature's Cures||2||completely heals a whole stack|
|Iron Skin||3||adds 5 Shields|
|Warp Reality||3||penalizes all non-Chaos units with -20% To Hit|
|Disintegrate||4||kills a unit with less than 10 Crosses; useful if hero wears -Spell Save items|
|Black Sleep||1||tries to kill a unit; useful if hero wears -Spell Save items|
|Life Drain||1||tries to steal life; useful to restore health|
- Artificer: reduces item costs by -50%; wizard starts with Create Artifact
- Runemaster: reduces item costs by -25%; requires 2 Spellbooks in 3 different Realms
If you possess both retorts, then item costs are quartered (-75% reduction). This has a very nice side effect: You can earn 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 Power in skill. The Archmage retort may also be helpful, if you possess the other 2 retorts.
Famous retort adds 10 Fame and doubles the chances for hero offers. However, it requires 2 picks, so I don't consider it useful.
Let's summarize some results of the previous sections:
- Artificer and Runemaster reduce the costs of the Create Artifact spell. Moreover, you can earn Mana just by creating and destroying artifacts. However, Runemaster requires 2 Spellbooks in any 3 Realms
- 5 Sorcery spell books allow the usage of the Item Powers Flight, Invisibility and Magic Immunity. Magic Immunity is almost the only way to protect your Heroes against all kind of damage dealing spells (except Cracks Call).
- Life Magic is a great for supporting heroes: Heroism, Healing, Prayer, Resurrection, Invulnerability and Incarnation are a must-have.
- Owning Death and Chaos Spellbooks makes the enemy Wizards mistrust you. They may attack you while you are still unprepared.
- The High Elves are the only Arcanian race whose population generates power.
Combining these results, you get the following build:
- Picks: 5 Sorcery books, 2 Life books, 2 Nature books, Artificer, Runemaster
- Spells: Heroism, Earth Lore, Phantom Warriors, Word of Recall, Counter Magic, Psionic Blast
- Race: High Elves
In the first round, put Tax Rate to 2.0 and convert Power solely into Mana. Create an artifact with a total cost of 38 and destroy it for 75. Afterwards, convert 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 100 Gold, 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 Magical Items), or be defensive by staying in the fortress in order to increase your wizard's global spell skill (with Heroism and a 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):
Sword: 3 Attack, 3 Defense, up to 3 To Hit, perhaps 10 Mana or Stoning
Chain/Plate: up to 6 Defense, up to 4 Moves, Magic Immunity, perhaps Endurance, Bless or 2
Jewelry: up to 4 Attack, up to 4 Defense, Flight, probably Invisibility
Staff: up to 6 Attack, 3 Defense, up to 3 To Hit, up to 20 Mana
Jewelry #1: up to 4 Attack, up to 4 Defense, Flight, up to 3 Moves
Jewelry #2: up to 4 Attack, up to 4 Defense, Magic Immunity, Invisibility or up to 3 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 Sorcery 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 Nature 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
- replace the 2 Nature Spellbooks with 2 Chaos books: Now you can summon Hell Hounds with whome you can conquer and protect Sorcery and Chaos Nodes more efficiently. Additionally, you can enchant your items with Flaming Item Power. On the other hand, your diplomatic relationships will suffer, and you won't know in advance if a Nature Wizard can cast the Web + Cracks Call combination.
- replace the 2 Life Spellbooks with 2 Chaos books: In this case, Death wizards won't hate you, but you must come along without the help of those many helpful Life spells such as Heroism, Healing and Prayer.
- take Archmage retort instead of your fifth Sorcery book: Archmage will nearly double your Spell Skill in early game, so this will accelerate your progress in creating magical items. On the other hand, you won't be able to use the Item Powers Magic Immunity and Invisibility anymore. There are some remedies for this issue: find a fifth Sorcery in a well-guarded Sorcery Node; research Magic Immunity spell (ideally together with Spell Lock); get the hero Shin Bo, either by casting Summon Hero or by rescuing him from a dungeon; acquire Incarnation spell to summon Torin; get Summon Champion and summon a mighty hero e.g. Roland.
- take 5 Life Spellbooks instead of 5 Sorcery books: Here, the combination Righteousness + Invulnerability will take over the role of Magic Immunity (fear Psionic Blast unless you get True Sight, also beware of Ice Bolt), and Water Walking replaces Flight. You may find items granting you Magic Immunity or Flight.
- take Archmage and 4 Death Spellbooks: Wraithform may take over the role of Flight. It also gives you Weapon Immunity and makes you immune to Web and Cracks Call. Ice Bolt and partly Psionic Blast may be countered by turning your hero Undead using Black Channels. There's no way to counter the Chaos spells Fire Bolt, Lightning Bolt, Warp Lightning and Doom Bolt though (Elemental Armor may help a little). So again, wait for a hero with Magic Immunity or Invisibility. Or drain the enemy's Mana reserve by using Mana Leak and stalling for 50 rounds. You may want to create artifacts with -Spell Save to achieve Black Sleep's full potential. Heroes can (re)gain HP by casting Life Drain (-Spell Save doesn't work here though - unless playing with unofficial 1.40 Insecticide Patch).