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See Multi-Figure Unit section
In the game, this ability is always labeled simply "Life Steal". On this wiki, the strength of the Life Steal ability is denoted after its name, for example "Life Steal -1", "Life Steal -3" and so forth. This indicates a Resistance penalty applied to the target during the attack. If no penalty is applied, the ability is simply labeled "Life Steal". Higher negative numbers are better (e.g. -5 is better than -4).
It is not possible to add Life Steal directly to any other unit, although Heroes may equip Magical Weapons enchanted with Vampiric (Item Power). This is intended to work the same as the Life Steal ability. In practice it is a rather weak imitation of the life-stealing powers of the Fantastic Units possessing this ability. Heroes are Single-Figure Units, meaning that they will fire only one Life Stealing Attack; moreover, the attack operates at base strength, applying no penalty to the target's Resistance against it.
Powerful creatures capable of channeling Death energy have the ability to literally suck the life out of their opponents - and consume it for their own benefit. Such creatures can be very difficult to stop, as each time they manage to siphon life out of their target, their own life is restored to some degree.
Life Steal also has a secondary, but much more insidious effect. As it sucks the life force out of its target, Life Steal replaces it with Death energy. As a result, a unit that has succumbed to a powerful Life Steal onslaught may return as an "Undead" unit, not living and not dead. It is still quite capable of fighting, is no longer vulnerable to the many dangers that threaten living creatures, and most importantly - is now under the control of the Life Stealing creature that killed it!
Whenever a Life Stealing unit makes a Melee Attack or Ranged Attack against a target (including when Counter Attacking), it will also deliver a special Touch Attack with the Life Stealing Damage property. This damage type is very complex to explain (and does not always work as intended), but it has three major effects:
- The target unit must make a Resistance roll, and suffers damage based on how badly it failed that roll (if at all).
- The Life Stealing unit regains some lost Hit Points (if any) based on the amount of damage done to the target.
- If the target is killed primarily by Life Steal damage, it may end up turning into an Undead unit at the end of combat - under the control of the owner of the Life Stealing unit!
The entire process is somewhat shrouded in mystery, and in fact seems to work a little different for each unit possessing Life Steal. Please be advised that any of the information below may be inaccurate.
Resistance Roll and Damage Edit
When a target is struck by a the Life Steal Touch Attack, it must immediately roll a number between 1 and 10.
Damage = Roll - (Target's Resistance - Modifier)
The Modifier in this formula is the penalty applied by Life Steal, as indicated by the ability's label. For example, a unit with Life Steal -5 gives a -5 Resistance penalty to its target for the purposes of this check. Note that in the game, the penalty is not listed after the Life Steal label - it is only listed on this wiki.
For example, imagine a Demon Lord making a Life Steal -5 attack against a target possessing a Resistance score of 9. The target's effective resistance, after penalties, is 9 - 5 = 4. If the target rolls a 6, it will receive 2 points of Damage (6 - 4 = 2). If the target rolls 7, it will receive 3 points of Damage (7 - 4 = 3).
If the rolled number is equal to or lower than the target's modified Resistance score, then no damage occurs, and the Life Steal attack ends harmlessly. As a result, if the unit's Resistance score is still 10 or higher after applying the modifier, the unit will never fail its roll - and thus will never suffer damage from Life Steal.
Furthermore, it is important to note that targets possessing Magic Immunity and/or Death Immunity are completely immune to Life Steal, and will suffer no damage from it. If such a target is attacked with Life Steal, no damage occurs and the attack ends immediately without rolling any numbers at all.
|Average Damage per Life Steal Roll|
|Demon Lord vs Recruit Wolf Riders||-1||2||11||6.5||2.87|
|Death Knights vs. Recruit Wolf Riders||0||1||10||5.5||2.87|
|Wraiths vs Recruit Wolf Riders||1||0||9||4.5||2.87|
|Wraiths vs Regular Wolf Riders||2||0||8||3.6||2.73|
|Demon Lord + Black Prayer vs Behemoth||3||0||7||2.8||2.48|
|Ravashack vs Recruit Wolf Riders||4||0||6||2.1||2.17|
|Demon Lord vs Behemoth||5||0||5||1.5||1.80|
|Wraiths vs Unicorns (Resistance to All)||6||0||4||1.0||1.41|
|Demon Lord vs Behemoth in Nature Node||7||0||3||0.6||1.02|
|Demon Lord vs Behemoth + Bless||8||0||2||0.3||0.64|
|Demon Lord vs Arch Angel (Holy Bonus)||9||0||1||0.1||0.30|
|Demon Lord vs Behemoth + Resist Magic||10||0||0||0.0||0.00|
Note: If the standard deviation is bigger than the expected damage, then the amount of dealt damage is very unreliable. If more than one Life Steal roll is made, then the expected damage is proportional to the number of rolls, whereas the standard deviation is proportional to its square root. This can make a Life Steal attack more reliable. Consider the Wraiths vs Recruit Wolf Riders example above. A fully healed Wraith unit will make 4 rolls, inflicting 4 * 4.5 = 18 damage in average with a standard deviation of 2 * 2.87 = 5.74. The Melee Attack of a Wraiths figure inflicts 3.5 damage in average, roughly 1.0 is absorbed by the Wolf Riders' Shields. So besides the Life Stealing damage, roughly 10 normal damage will be done (with a pretty low deviation). It's pretty save to say, that the Life Steal damage will surpass the normal damage, which means that the Wolf Riders will turn Undead. Following the calculation above, most units with 8 or less Crosses will be turned undead by using the combination Wraiths + Black Prayer ( -2). The higher the victim's Defense (and the lower the number of Hit Points per figure), the better the chances!
For the most part, it seems that the Life Stealing unit is healed by a number of Hit Points equal to the Damage caused to the target - however there may be exceptions to this. Tests show that on occasion, the Life Stealing unit will only regain half as many Hit Points as the Damage it caused. There is currently no explanation or absolute data on this issue.
Note that in most cases, the Life Stealing unit cannot be healed beyond its own Maximum Health, regardless of how much damage it caused. Therefore, if the Life Stealing unit is at full health, it does not regain any Hit Points. On the other hand, it is demonstrably possible for some units (particularly the Demon Lord) to gain extra Hit Points beyond the unit's maximum, in specific circumstances. The mechanism behind this behavior is currently not understood to any sufficient extent. The only known fact is that these extra Hit Points behave normally, but will disappear as soon as the battle is over.
Multi-Figure Units Edit
Life-Stealing Multi-Figure Units (Wraiths and Death Knights) roll as many life-Stealing attacks as they have figures currently in play. This can result in piles of life-stealing damage. Unlike Ghouls, these creatures actually steal victims' life and are experts at spawning Undead thralls for the wizard without killing themselves in the process.
Here is how Wraiths and Death Knights compare:
- Wraiths have 4 figures with Life Steal −3. When all figures are present, the unit can therefore roll something in the range of 16-52 life-stealing damage. This is four separate die rolls— it has a mean of 34 and a standard deviation of around ±6 points, so that the value obtained usually (68% of the time) lies somewhere between 28 and 40. The target's Crosses are subtracted from this four times, of course.
- Death Knights have 4 figures with Life Steal −4. When all figures are present, the unit therefore rolls something in the range of 20-56 life-stealing damage. This has a mean of 38 but the same standard deviation as wraiths of around ±6 points. The value obtained thus (68% of the time) lies somewhere between 32 and 44. The target's Crosses are subtracted from this total four times.
While the Self-Healing mechanism may revive figures on these units if they are injured, the new figures do not contribute any extra attack strength or Life Stealing during that round of melee.
Bonus hitpoints ( ) per figure may be added, en tandem with the normal restored hitpoints ( ). Exactly how these work, and why they are given to damaged units, is unclear. The best guess from the data below is that they "balance the math" when the game is trying to figure out how to display the top figure's health when it knows the total damage on the unit. Addt'l Life per Figure and Total Unit Dmg are both explicitly stored in the game's memory space.
| As an example case, let a severely-damaged unit of Death Knights, with 7, of 8, remaining on the last figure, be attacking a unit with 0. The Life Steal will be rolled only once, since there is only one Death Knight figure, and it will do 4 + d10 to the target.|
Assuming no melee damage reprisal, the Death Knights' hitpoint changes from the 10 possible Damage rolls are:
| Top Fig. Hp|
| Top Fig. Dmg|
| Unit Dmg|
| Top Fig. Hp|
| Top Fig. Dmg|
| Unit Dmg|
| Addt'l per Fig.|
To clarify, after rolling 5 Life Stealing Damage, one new Figure emerges on the Death Knight, and its status is this::
Bonus Hitpoints are also collected if the life-stealing unit is completely healed. A Single-Figure Unit gains one Bonus HP for each Damage Point inflicted by Life Steal. Wraiths and Death Knights gain 0.25 * Damage Bonus HP for each successful Life Steal roll. However, this number is rounded down. This means a Figure must steal at least 4 HP so that the Wraiths or Death Knights unit gains 1 HP. If the 4 figures steal 3 HP each, then no HP is added at all. On the other hand, if 3 figures steal 4 HP each and the fourth figure no HP, then the unit gains 3 HP. In both examples, 12 HP are stolen, but the outcome is different. Note that fully healed Wraiths can only collect Bonus HP, if the victim's Resistance score doesn't exceed 9.
Creating Undead Edit
An extremely important side-effect to the Life Steal attack is its ability to turn its target into an Undead unit, and change its allegiance.
At the end of a battle, the game runs through each and every unit that has been destroyed during that battle. For each unit, it checks whether the following conditions are true:
- Is the unit either a Normal Unit or a Fantastic Unit?
- Did the majority of the damage caused to this unit come from Life Steal attacks?
- Did the unit's army either lose the battle or flee it?
- Does the opposing army contain fewer than 9 units?
If all four conditions are true, the unit is returned to the game with full Health and figures - but with two important changes: It is now an Undead unit, and now permanently belongs to the enemy!
- If this is a Normal Unit, it no longer has any Upkeep Cost.
- If this is a Fantastic Unit, its Upkeep Cost is increased by 50%.
- The unit gains several immunities to various forms of damage and effects, as common among Death creatures.
- The unit is permanently associated with the Death realm, and will be affected by spells/effects that only affect Death creatures.
- The unit no longer heals naturally each turn on the overland map. It cannot be healed by any healing spell.
- The unit ceases to gain any Experience. It does, however, retain any Experience Level (and related bonuses) it had prior to the change.
(For a complete overview of these changes, read the article about Undead)
As a result, life-stealing units can actually increase the size of their army as they advance, collecting new Undead units created out of enemy armies they encounter. Though these newly-created Undead units are easily lost (since they cannot be healed), they temporarily provide a boost of strength to the army, and can be used as "suicide troops" to slow down the enemy during the next battle.
Note: It is currently unknown how the game tracks the types of damage caused to a unit, in order to determine whether Life Steal caused the majority of this damage. Also, it is unknown whether the conditions for creating an Undead unit require that Life Steal cause 50% or more of the unit's health at the start of the battle, or 50% or more of the unit's total Health. Test results are inconclusive and sometimes contradictory.
Units with Default Life Steal Edit
Also note that both the Demon Lord and Ravashack the Necromancer use their Life Steal attack as part of their Ranged Attack as well as their Melee Attack. They can suck the enemy's life-force even at a distance, giving them a massive advantage.
Acquiring Life Steal Edit
There is no known method of adding the Life Steal ability to any unit that does not possess it by default.
However, it is possible to imbue a Magical Item - particularly a Sword, Mace or Axe - with the Vampiric Item Power to add a Life Stealing Damage component to the Hero's Melee Attack. In principle, this is functionally identical to giving the Hero a temporary version of Life Steal.
Reports, published in the FAQ, claim that the Life Stealing Damage delivered by "Vampiric" weapons does not work as intended. For more information, see Life Stealing Damage.
These reports may be a false impression given by the more-discernible fact that the Item Power is weak. Like Ravashack's own Life Steal the "Vampiric" power applies no penalty to enemy Resistance, meaning that the hero's conventional damage is likely to outstrip it by far. The enchantment is unlikely, given a limited number of attacks, to steal life from units with decent resistance scores, let alone create Undead units for your army.