Your units are grouped into squads. This means each "unit" that you see during battle is actually multiple units in a squad. Different unit types have different squad sizes. For example, you start out with an overall squad size of 6. Your Axe Barbarian / Sword Dancer units have a size of 1 so 6 of them fit into a squad. But your Paladin / Treants will be just 1 per squad at a squad size of 6.
You can view your current squad size and other details by examining your Barracks. Click the Barracks to open the interface, then hover the mouse over various parts. The Camp tab will show you how many individual units you have if you hover on each unit type; the numbers beneath the icons are squads.
The number of units you presently have in a squad determines the attack power and HP of that squad on the combat field. During combat, as the individual units start getting whittled away in the squad, the squad will deal less and less damage. This applies to enemies as well, so one strategy might be to spread out your damage to weaken as many enemy units as you can.
An interesting side effect of squads: The bigger your squad size, the more powerful the unit, but the more losses you will suffer. This is due to the way HP works. An example would be easiest. When you have a squad size of 6, the HP bar looks like this:
0% |--|--|--|--|--|-- 100%
As the unit takes damage, whenever his HP reaches one of those vertical markers, the squad loses an individual unit (shown via the skull icon in battle). So you start out with 6 units in the squad; when the squad suffers roughly 16% damage, 1 unit is lost, and so on. When the squad is at half health, you've lost roughly 3 units.
Now picture that you get the squad upgrade and now your squad size is 9. Now that same HP bar looks like this instead:
0% |-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|- 100%
Now, when the unit suffers roughly 11% damage, you lose 1 individual unit from the squad. When the squad is at half health, you have lost around 5 units.
In terms of percentages, the damage the unit suffers stays roughly the same as you progress through the game, but the losses increase exponentially. Whereas early in the game, an enemy archer might hit your squad and deal 20% of its health and kill 1 unit, later in the game, an archer will hit your squad, deal 20% of its health, and kill 34 units. Thus, the larger your squad size, the more time-consuming it will be to replace units that you lose during combat.
This is, ironically, one reason why Tournaments cost less and less to fight the more advanced your city gets. Tournaments use fixed squad sizes (well, fixed to a degree; they do increase slowly based on your own position in the Technology Tree), and the fixed size is usually far smaller than your actual squad size. (This is why you have so many more squads when fighting in Tournaments than regular Provincial battles.) Thus, you lose far fewer units overall than if you were fighting equivalent Province battles.Buildings
To build units at all you need a Barracks. The in-game tutorial/advisor system will guide you to build the Barracks at an appropriate time. You can also train units at the Training Grounds and Mercenary Camp once you unlock the necessary technologies to build them, but all three buildings share the same training queue.
You have to unlock the unit types through technologies. In particular, note that you begin the game with some Paladins / Treants in stock, but will not be able to train replacements until quite a bit later on. So be careful when using them in early game.
There are no standard buildings that improve your combat prowess; some Ancient Wonders and event buildings do so, but these are generally outside of the scope of this beginner's guide.Barracks
Your Barracks has a number of training slots. These slots are for your convenience only: they allow you to queue up units to be trained in order. When one slot is finished, the next one will automatically start training with no intervention from you. Unlike with Supplies and Goods, you do not need to collect the units from the previous slot before the next slot will train. Thus, you can queue up a bunch of slots and then go to bed and come back in the morning and collect all of your newly minted warriors.
Upgrading your Barracks sometimes increases the number of slots you have. Upgrading it will also increase the speed at which units are trained. Upgrading your Barracks has no effect on the combat proficiency of your troops, though.
Keep in mind you have to upgrade the Training Grounds and Mercenary Camp separately. Although upgrading the Barracks alone is enough to give you more training slots, upgrading the others will increase the speed at which their respective units train. To give an example, in one city I had upgraded my Barracks as much as my chapter allowed but still had a Level 1 Training Grounds. Training a full squad of one of the units in the Training Grounds required 14 hours
, whereas training a Barracks squad required just 1 hour. This is the difference between upgrading vs not upgrading your training buildings.Armories
Armories increase the size of each training slot. With only a Barracks and no Armories, your training size is 6. This is the same size as your squad when you first start out, so in the beginning, every time you train a slot, you will be training a full squad. This does not remain the case as the game progresses, however; your squad size increases exponentially while your training size increases linearly. What this means is very soon each slot in your Barracks will only be training a small portion of a squad (more or less depending on how many Armories you have). Thus, if you go into battle and lose 3 squads, it may take you days to train them all back again. This means training speeds drop off dramatically the further you advance in the game (unless you build lots of Armories). It is recommended to be training units whenever you can spare the Supplies, even if you aren't presently fighting battles; thus you can be storing them up for when you want to use them.
How many Armories you should build depends on your play style. You will likely want to always have at least one, but you can build more if you wish to train units faster. It's totally up to what works for you. Having fewer Armories will not make your units less powerful; it will just make it take longer to train more units.Technologies
There are two technologies that directly affect combat:
- Squad Size Upgrade: These technologies will increase your squad size, which increases how many units are in a squad. This will be elaborated upon below. Note that when you research one of these upgrades, your Barracks will start showing that you have fewer squads than what you had previously. This is because more individual units are now fitting into a single squad--in other words, the squad requires more units to be full. So don't worry, you haven't lost units.
- Advanced Scouts: This technology caps off the end of every chapter; you have to research it to progress to the next chapter. This technology is also explained in more detail below.
Here is an important tip for beginners: Never scout more Provinces than what you need to open the chest at the end of your current chapter!
(The Technology Tree window will show you the number of required Provinces.) Unlocking the "Advanced Scouts" at the end of the chapter only cuts the difficulty for Provinces that you scout after
unlocking the technology. If you scouted them in advance, you are shooting yourself in the foot as you are going to have to slog through unnecessarily difficult battles.
Another tip: scout Provinces in order of difficulty. In other words, first scout the ones that say "Very Easy" or "Easy" on them. Do all of those before you move on to "Medium" ones, and avoid "Hard" and "Very Hard" (you are not intended to clear those Provinces). The higher-difficulty Provinces will become lower in difficulty as you unlock "Squad Size Upgrade" and "Advanced Scouts" technologies, so leave them be until they drop in their difficulty rating.Unit Types
There are five unit types: Light Melee, Light Ranged, Heavy Melee, Mage, Heavy Ranged. Every unit, both yours and those of the enemy, falls into one of these categories. Each unit type is said to be "specialized" against two other types, and no two types share the same pair of specialization
s. If you draw the types on a pentagon and draw arrows representing specialization
s, you will see the pattern. (Note that units are specialized toward particular unit types
, not toward particular units.)
Every unit type is always "about even" (that is, "neutral") toward its own type--this means a unit has no advantages and no disadvantages against its own type.Unit Selection
When you are selecting units to enter battle, the interface displays some important information.
First, when you hover your mouse over one of your
units, you will see icons overlaid on the unit portraits of the enemy units that your unit is either specialized against -OR- is neutral to. This latter part is a danger that you need to be aware of. A unit that is merely "about even" with the enemy is not specialized in any way against that enemy, so don't be misled by a whole bunch of icons showing up on neutral enemies. Where possible, you ideally want to use units that are specialized, not merely "about even" with the foe. (Though neutral units are still useful in situations where the enemy has a mixture of lots of different unit types and your unit is specialized against some and neutral against the rest.)
In order to see the exact nature of a particular unit against other units, click on the blue "i" on his portrait (you can do this with enemy units as well) and the game will list the two unit types that the unit is specialized against. There will be a row of stars beside these specialization
s. These stars are basically ratings, but I find they are not really all that accurate. Instead of merely going by the number of stars, point at one of these rows of stars and the game will specifically tell you exactly what benefits the unit gets against that foe. Notice that some benefits are offensive in nature (listed as "+XX%" damage) and some are defensive (listed as "-XX%" damage). You can use this information to guide your strategy: such as to try to get units with a -80% defensive boost to soak up all of the hits from the enemy, and so on.Note:
Underneath the unit portraits are one to three tiny little stars. These are not
specialization ratings. They are the unit's level. Every unit has one to three levels. You yourself gain these levels by researching them in the Technology Tree (these level increases apply retroactively to your existing units). Higher level units will have some improvements over lower level units, such as higher health; in addition, level 3 units typically gain some sort of special feature such as a debuff that is applied when they attack.Note:
Enemy squad size is influenced by how many enemies there are in that particular battle. If there are very few enemies, their squad sizes will be bigger; when there are many enemies, their squad sizes will be smaller. Thus, if you go into a battle where there are only one or two enemy units, their squad sizes will be much larger than a battle in that same Province with five or six enemies. This is something to note when trying to compare your squad size to that of the enemy. The idea is the overall difficulty for each battle in a particular Province remains the same regardless of how many enemies there are. With fewer enemies, the enemies will get fewer turns in comparison to you, so each enemy is stronger to compensate for this. When the enemies outnumber you, they get more turns than you do, but individually they are weaker.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Unit TipsAxe Barbarian / Sword Dancer
They have a fairly long movement range, moderate attack damage, and moderate health. Their initiative is also pretty high. The main problem with Light Melee is they are not overly durable so you will tend to have pretty high losses when using them, even against units they are specialized against. Also, ironically, although they are meant to be used against Light Ranged and Mages, both of these unit types are ranged, which means the Light Melee has to chase them down. Their movement range usually makes this fairly easy to do; however, battle field obstacles, as well as other combatants, can often get in the way. Another irony is that their "Strike Back" capability is typically useless against their favored enemies unless the AI commits suicide.Cerebus
These are Light Melee units that have a longer movement range and are more specialized against Mages than they are Light Ranged. They're okay against Light Ranged, but generally you want to use them against Mages.Crossbowman / Archer
Their attack range is 4. Heavy Melee movement range is 2. This means Light Ranged can attack outside of the range of Heavy Melee. If the Heavy Melee enemy has an attack range of 1 (which most of them do), the Heavy Melee will not be able to damage your archer. Every turn, just keep moving your Light Ranged back so that they remain outside of the range of the Heavy Melee.
Light Ranged are specialized against Heavy Melee and Mages. Target Mages first where possible; most of the time, an archer at full health can kill an equal-squad Mage in a single shot, so you're best off if you can hit them before they hit you. You might have to bait the Mages out of hiding, however, if they are hanging back behind other units. Note that the movement range plus attack range of a Crossbowman / Archer is such that he can strike the enemy directly across from him on his very first turn in battle if there are no terrain obstacles in the way (and assuming the enemy doesn't get to move first, which rarely happens). On many maps this can be utilized to take out Mages before they can even get out of the starting gate.
Light Ranged tend to have the highest initiative of any unit. This means they get to shoot first, but it also means they get targeted first. They have almost no defense so you need to keep them out of harm's way.
When one of your archers' turns comes up, always point at all of the enemies and check their movement ranges before moving your archer. Careful placement of your Light Ranged is key.Paladin / Treant
This is fairly unique to Heavy Melee, but don't be afraid to use these guys even against units that they are not specialized against, if you are facing a mixture of enemy unit types. Heavy Melee have extremely high health and deal good damage even against non-ideal targets, so they are far better at dealing with being at a disadvantage than most of the other unit types. For example, if you are facing a mixture of Light Melee, Heavy Ranged, and Light Ranged, go ahead and load up on Paladins / Treants even though the archers are specialized against them. Just focus on and kill the Light Ranged first. The same applies to battles that have Mages in them.
Heavy Melee units also have very low initiative so they tend to be targeted last, which also (ironically) aids their survivability if you are using them alongside other unit types. For example, if you are using a mixture of Light Ranged and Heavy Melee in a fight that happens to include some Mages, the Mages will tend to shoot your archers first (which, for Humans, have a defense bonus against Mages), sparing your Heavy Melee (which are weak against Mages). This might not always be a good thing since most other unit types have lower health and defenses than the Heavy Melee, but it does come into play.
You wouldn't want to use Heavy Melee in a fight that is nothing but
archers and mages, but when you are looking for a support unit to deal with a diverse enemy group, Heavy Melee is often the best choice.Paladin
Paladins have an attack range of 2. This might not sound like much, but it gives them a huge advantage in many ways. Here are some tips on how to make use of it:
- Attack Light Melee and Heavy Melee targets from two tiles away (meaning there is a gap of one tile between your Paladin and the target). This way the enemy units cannot retaliate unless they happen to also have an attack range of 2 (which few units do).
- Paladins can retaliate from two tiles away as well, which allows them to strike back against all Heavy Melee and even ranged opponents who get too close.
- Paladins can poke enemies over top of terrain obstacles (those little rocks and shrubs that block tiles). Stand on the opposite side of such obstructions and hit enemies from there.
- In narrow confines, you can line up your Paladins such that the first one is directly next to the target and the second is right behind him, allowing the second to hit the target over top the first.
- When chasing down long-ranged units like Heavy Ranged, the movement range of the Paladin is effectively 4 because he can move 2 and then attack 2 tiles past that. This allows the Paladin to catch up to enemies more quickly than a Treant.
- Barring any obstacles or interfering units, archers cannot stay out of the reach of a Paladin no matter where they shoot from. If they're hitting your Paladin, your Paladin can hit them. Compare with a Treant, where archers that choose their placement wisely can stay out of their reach effectively forever. (Though luckily for Elven players, the computer AI is not good at actually doing this.)
Their attack range is 5. This allows them to shoot not only outside of the range of Heavy Melee, but also outside retaliation range of certain Heavy Ranged units (the Golem types) and even Light Ranged (though you shouldn't be taking Priests up against Light Ranged if you can help it). Many of the tips for archers apply to these guys. Strive to never put them within striking range of the enemy.
The Priest's attacks apply a defense debuff on the enemy. This means stacking all of your damage onto a single enemy is most efficient; however, this might not be practical depending on the layout of the battle field (as trying to all gang up on a single target might put your Priests into harm's way).Sorceress
Their very short attack range means their positioning is not as important. Instead, focus on spreading out their attack debuff onto as many enemies as possible. This will help lessen your losses. Do be careful when attacking Heavy Melee that have an attack range of 2. The Sorceress can attack one tile outside of retaliation range, but if you're not careful when moving her, she'll often get too close and needlessly take damage.Golem
These guys have relatively high health and hit pretty hard. They are very much like a ranged Heavy Melee, though not nearly as durable. Still, you can often use Golems as a support unit when facing a diverse mix of enemy unit types. (Most other unit types make poor support units since they tend to get slaughtered before they can contribute much to the battle.)
If you are using Golems in a fight that happens to have some Heavy Melee enemies (this often happens in Elixir and Planks Provinces), try to keep the Golems out of the range of the Heavy Melee until you take out interfering units. Then, when you have the opportunity, have all of your Golems gang up on the Heavy Melee in a single round; this will hopefully enable them to remove the Heavy Melee enemy without taking a hit from it.Mortar
These guys make good support units, but they are fairly poor if used exclusively on their own, even against units they are specialized against. This is because their damage output is not that great; this combined with their whopping 1 movement range and lackluster defense means they are easy for the enemy to pin down. For best results, add in at least one unit of another type (typically Heavy Melee) to act as a guard for your Mortars.
Due to a bug in the game, sometimes when combat begins, one or more graphical features fail to load. This can cause certain units to be invisible or the entire hex grid to be invisible.
- If units are invisible, you can tell where they are based on the squad number at the unit's feet. You can tell which unit they are by looking at the turn order at the bottom of the screen.
- On the other hand, if the hex grid fails to load, it is extremely difficult to fight strategically. In this case, you may be better off either: turning the battle onto auto-battle; surrendering and trying again; or closing your browser window and reloading. In the latter case, when the game reloads, you will receive a notification that you have units in battle; choose the option to continue fighting and you will reload back into the battle. Just hope that the next time you load into the battle, the hex grid actually appears!
- Very rarely, terrain obstacles (fallen trees, rocks, etc.) are invisible. You can tell when this is the case when the entire battle field looks clear and open yet your units cannot walk through a hex that appears completely empty. You may wish to restart the battle in this case also, or just "feel your way" around the obstacles by observing how they alter your units' movement ranges.
When your unit's turn comes up, the unit is shown at the far left in the turn order at the bottom of the screen. Also, the movement range of the unit is displayed in the hex grid. As you point your mouse at enemies, the game will show the specialization stars for enemies that unit is specialized against. (E.g. if the unit has a three-star specialization, you will see three stars just like during the pre-battle setup screen.) If your cursor turns into a sword or bow icon on the enemy, the unit can attack that enemy. If such an icon does not show up, your unit is not close enough to attack that enemy.
Also, when you point your mouse at various other units (enemies and your own units), you will be shown the movement range of whatever unit you are pointing the mouse cursor at. This is crucial! (Which is why it's so critical that the hex grid actually draw and not be invisible.) Enemy movement ranges are displayed in red outlines. Use the enemy movement ranges to carefully position your own units. For example, Light Ranged can attack Heavy Melee outside of their movement range. Point at the Heavy Melee, then find a tile that is two tiles away from the red movement range--that's a safe place to fire from. (Though any Heavy Melee that has an attack range of 2 like the Paladin will be able to hit your archer; there's nothing you can do about that.)
You can do two things on your turn: move and attack. Attacking ends your unit's turn, so if you are going to move, you have to do it first. To move, just click on the desired destination tile (which has to be within the unit's movement range, of course). To attack, click on the desired enemy target (which also has to be within the unit's range, of course). If you click on your unit itself, the unit will pass his turn doing nothing, so be careful about this as it's very easy to do on accident! You can also have the unit pass his turn by clicking on the icon on the top of the unit's portrait at the bottom of the screen. You can have the unit move first, then pass the rest of his turn, if you wish. Note that you cannot take back a move once you've made it, even if the unit's turn hasn't ended yet.Note:
If you move a unit its maximum movement distance and there are no enemies within range to attack, the unit's turn automatically ends. On the other hand, if you've moved a unit its maximum movement distance and its turn hasn't ended, this is because there is an enemy somewhere that it can hit. Point at the various enemies to find which one(s) this is. It's not necessary to attack if you don't want to, even if there is an enemy within range; just have the unit pass his turn after moving if you don't wish for him to attack.
When attacking, be very, very conscious of the fact that: when you click on an enemy target, if your unit is not presently within range of his target but he can move within range, the game will pick some tile that is within range and move the unit there. (Before you click, it highlights the tiles that it is proposing your unit move to.) The game's pathfinding is pretty bizarre; it appears to pick whatever tile causes the unit to travel the farthest possible distance. Even if the unit only has to move one tile to get within range, the game will often have him move his full maximum movement distance off to the side somewhere. It's crazy. I would highly recommend not
relying on this auto-movement. Manually move the unit to the desired tile first, then click the enemy to attack. (As long as the unit is within range of his weapon, he will not move before attacking.)
As you play the game, you will get used to the ranges of your units and you will get good at being able to move the unit to where it can attack. Before then, just move the unit one tile at a time until he is close enough to attack. (You can tell if he is close enough if you point at the target and the game doesn't highlight any tiles for your unit to move to.) You can also click the blue "i" icon on the unit's portrait to bring up that unit's detailed information and look at its attack range there, then count hexes. I highly recommend practicing with Light Ranged units and get good at positioning them outside of the movement range of Heavy Melee; but the same concept applies to all units.Note:
Units have to take their turns in the order presented (which is based on their initiative stats). You cannot have a unit "save" his turn for later. The most you can do is have a unit pass his turn, in which case he has to wait for his next turn in the next round.Unit Positions
Unit facing doesn't matter in this game. Attacking an enemy from the rear will not do any additional damage. Units always turn to face whomever is going to attack them at the moment that they get attacked, but this is cosmetic only.
All units block movement through their occupied hex to all other units. This includes both friendlies and enemies. Your own units will block your units' movements. This is critical to keep in mind to avoid blocking your own advance.
However, there is no flanking this game. Although a unit blocks his own hex, he doesn't influence any hexes around himself. An enemy unit can waltz right past him without hindrance. If you want to, say, use melee units to protect your ranged units in the back, you'll need to line up multiple melee units or use the terrain to your advantage.Retaliation
Some units can retaliate when attacked. (The game shows this on the unit's "i" information card as "Strike Back.")
Most of the time, a unit gets only one retaliation per round (the rounds are demarcated at the bottom of the screen). Thus, you can reduce overall retaliations by ganging up on a single enemy within a single round. Later in the game, some units will gain the special ability to retaliate multiple times in a round. You can also see this on the unit's information card.
Furthermore, a unit can only retaliate if its attacker is within its own attack range, so if you strike from outside of the attack range of the enemy, it can't retaliate against you. Remember that attack range is not the same as movement range; the game shows you the enemy's movement range in the hex grid, but not its attack range. You can check the attack range on the--you guessed it--information card of the unit in question.Enemy AI
As in any game, the computer AI has some predictability that can be exploited.
- Enemies tend to target the unit with the highest initiative (of those that are within reach). This generally means your Light Ranged will get picked on first.
- At higher levels, AI units do appear to make more of an attempt to target units they are specialized against. (They don't seem to do this so much at lower levels.)
- But overall the AI will go for whichever unit is presently within range. So you can bait the computer by deliberately putting your strongest unit within range of an enemy so that the enemy has no choice but to hit that unit.
- Note though that the AI can sometimes be pretty clever. Say the enemy is a Light Melee that's just itching to attack that Light Ranged that's just out of its reach, and you stick a Heavy Melee in its way; in this sort of situation the AI will often walk all the way around your Heavy Melee before attacking in order to get into position to attack the Light Ranged on its next turn. This is something to watch out for. (And something to try doing yourself.)