DUNGEON TACTICS AGAINST OTHER TOWNS
First of all no opponent should have a Tactics advantage over you! So if there is troop arranging it should be you who arranges, not the opponent. If YOU have the initiative (Fortress, Necropolis, Stronghold, Tower) AND a Tactics advantage big enough to allow your Minotaur Kings to reach an opposing stack right away you have the option to deploy offensively, cast Mass Slow on the opponent and advance immediately probably making use of the Dragons' 2-hex attack. If the opponent has the initiative (Castle, Inferno, Rampart), but you have a big enough Tactics advantage you may still deploy offensively. The difference is you have to wait what the opponent does and the opponent may now Mass Slow you or cast Mass Haste or even Mass Prayer. If the opponent casts Mass Slow immediately your Dragons won't be affected and it will be your turn soon enough. You won't have expert Water Magic so you can't Cure or Dispel, but you can Mass Slow the opponent, too, and now nothing is lost. If it's Mass Haste or Mass Prayer it will still be the Dragon's turn soon enough and now you can still cast Mass Slow on the opponent making the situation not worse than before.
If you don't have a Tactics advantage you will face another might hero and if it is a good hero all depends on your battle tactics and the casting of the right spell at the right moment and this is what the following hints and tips are all about. Since you won't have expert Water Magic you won't be able to cast Mass Cure or Mass Dispel. So if the opponent casts a (Mass) spell on you the effect of this spell will last: Curse, Weakness, Slow, Forgetfulness and Berserk (!) are all spells you will have to live with should they be cast as Mass spell upon your troops. Expert Resistance plus Resistance Artifacts will help, but you won't be able to negate disruptive magic cast on you, at least not fully. On the other hand your Dragons never will be affected by opposing magic while they won't profit from beneficial ones either. Therefore it doesn't matter that much what the opponent casts - you can't undo his or her Mass spells anyway. Freely cast away whenever you want, except that you have to be careful against the Air Magic towns Tower, Stronghold and Castle plus Necros and Heretics: Don't cast Mass Slow BEFORE the opponent has cast his or her spell that turn. The same is true for the Curse spell and Castle troops.
Your Shooters should take targets IN RANGE! They will deal more damage this way. If there are no targets in range, you should check beforehand how much damage your shooters will do in case they fire mechanically at the opposing shooters. If those figures look ridiculous, well, let them wait, they may get a better target. Since they are not the biggest damage doers check the figures before you decide to let them shoot upon a high level unit. Since they are not the biggest damage doers EVEN AT CLOSE RANGE check the figures before you decide to let them shoot upon a high level unit.
You have 2 units with a variation of the Blind special, so make good use of them. It may pay to gamble with the Scorpicores and make a first strike with them against a real heavyweight like Archangels: there's no law against their special being triggered. The same is true für the Medusa Queens, but paradoxically enough you can fight hand-to-hand with them only when an opposing unit is adjacent to them. If there IS an opposing unit adjacent to them, there's no law against them being moved prior to hitting so they can hit another unit and there's no law against their special being triggered either.
It is important to Mass Slow the opponent. Should he or she cast Mass Prayer Mass Slow won't have that much of an effect, but still: the slower the opposing troops the better the chances your Dragons can get a 2-hex attack in AND the Champions will do less damage. In any case this fight will be tough. If the opponent has a Knight the heroes's stats may be quite similar. With equal troop quantity the opponent's troops will do much more damage than you even without employing the Bless spell. The opponent will, however, have the Archangel-Blind problem forcing him or her to either move the AAs and/or cast immediately or see the Archangels Blinded. If at all possible, let the opponent come to you. It is no pressing business to kill the opposing shooters. You have shooters yourself and the opponent may be nervous about them. With the Griffins unlimited retaliation special it makes no sense to attack them with weak units and since there are more dangerous units simply ignore them until you have solved the more pressing problems and can attack them in earnest. Your main problems are Archangels, Champions and Crusaders. If the Archangels attack immediately without waiting, wait with all units except shooters and Trogs. Attack the Archangels with Trogs and then kill them with everything you have. After the Angels are dead the rest will be easy. If they don't come, attack only with a Tactics advantage so that the Minotaur Kings can reach the opponent. If not, just wait until the opponent has cast, then either Blind the Archangels or Mass Slow the opponent. The Archangels are the biggest problem, but you should attack them only if there are either a) not many of them or b) you will be able to attack them in force that turn and wear them significantly down or even kill them. If the retaliation would be very harmful don't strike them with the Dragons first. Anyway, if you are NOT attackig the Archangels the Minotaur Kings are the perfect unit to kill the Crusaders, while the Dragons should attack the Champions - probably in combination with the Scorpicores. The Hags won't do much damage, except against the Marksmen or Halberdiers, so if they can't do something useful the first turn position them so that they can strike the Marksmen turn 2. Don't forget that Medusa Queens may move prior to hitting as soon as an opposing unit is adjacent to them OR they don't have shots anymore.
Here it may pay to wait in any case, Tactics advantage or not. Obviously the Dragons have to avoid being attacked by the Mighty Gorgons - which is not the same than avoiding them altogether! - but most people misconceive the Fortress and its strengths. All Fortress monsters have high Defense Values, especially the Gorgons. Beastmasters will have a high Defense Value, too, plus they will be expert Armorer and Tazar has an Armorer special at that. Shield and Stone Skin is easily cast and once you are committed you can't back away even if the opponent is Slowed. What this all means is that you may find your units do much less damage than you expected them to do. Example: A high level Beastmaster may have a Defense/Attack plus of 4 compared to your Overlord of roughly the same level. Your Overlord will have expert Offense, the Beastmaster will have expert Armorer. The Beastmaster casts Mass Shield the first round and you cast Mass Slow giving you free reign. The Gorgons have kept out of range of the Minotaurs and it's the turn of your 14 Scorpicores now. You decide to tackle the 27 Mighty Gorgons with them. This will give your Dragons a chance to do a follow-up attack or maybe the Scorpicores can Paralyze the Gorgons. If not, well, they will suffer then, but what the hell; you expect to kill a dozen or so the first round and the immediate attack of the Dragons at the beginning of the 2nd round should see a force of way below 10 Gorgons retaliating, or shouldn't it? 14 Scorpicores do a modified base damage of 176-252. Expert Offense makes this about 230-325. Expert Armorer plus expert Shield reduces this to shabby 125-180, killing a lousy 2 Gorgons only. While this comes a bit unexpected, your following attack of your 7 Black Dragons yields 240-296 damage (you may do the math yourself, if you don't believe me). ALL IN ALL both attacks do around 365-475 damage or 5-6 Gorgons (only)! A change of plan seems in order: The next Dragon attack would probably kill only 3 more Gorgons leaving 18 to retaliate and that would most probably cost 2 Dragons. The Scorpicore attack seems wasted now.
Note, that the Dragonflies will cast Weakness on any attacked stack further reducing the damage your troops do!
The good thing is that with the exception of Gorgons against high level monsters the Fortress troops won't do that much damage themselves. The Hydras in particular can't really endanger your Dragons. With an Overlord fighting a Beastmaster roughly the same level I would estimate that 10 Hydras are necessary to kill 1 Black Dragon. However, Hydras are meant to do multi-hex damage and once they attack more than one stack they are doing quite well in the damage department. So that's the trap: Troops are concentrating to kill the Gorgons and are attacked by the Hydras. Avoid that trap.
You may have really tempting targets to attack. That's the right moment to just stop and reconsider: Do you really have to make that attack? Remember: THE GORGONS MUST NOT ATTACK YOUR DRAGONS if there are more than half a dozen or so AND the HYDRAS MUST NOT GET TOO MANY CHANCES FOR MULTI-HEX ATTACKS. What that means is, that it is not necessary to kill the Gorgons as fast as possible; you just need to keep them away from your Dragons. If you can't kill enough Gorgons fast enough you may just be able to kill the Hydras and then surround the Gorgons OR the Dragons with enough troops so that there may be no way for the Gorgons to reach the Dragons. Note, that you CAN move your shooters as additional blocking forces. And don't let yourself fool into wasting your attacks on unimportant stacks. Sure, Dragonflies are annoying, but they won't do much damage. Retaliation attacks by them will only cast Weakness on just another one of your stacks. And the Lizard Warriors aren't bad now, but they have exactly the same damage range than D-Flies with a lower Attack Value. If their damage is halved at that because of distance, their shots can't be more than needle pricks so leave them alone.
Another question is what to shoot upon, if your shooters are indeed able to fire shots and pick targets (always shoot at targets in range; if there is no target in range wait with your shot that turn). With a Beastmaster most probably having a higher Defense than your Overlord Offense and the Offense skill affecting only hand-to-hand damage while the Armorer skill reduces ALL damage, your shooters won't do much damage against the higher level monsters. Even at close range the shooting damage against Gorgons will probably reduced by something like 40%. What that means is that 70 Evil Eyes will kill 2 Gorgons which isn't worth the shot, about 5 Basilisks, 10 D-Flies and 40 Gnoll Marauders, but only 7 Lizard Warrios because of range. So go for the lower level monsters in range for maximum effect.
Here you have the problem that there are too many targets: Arch Devils and Cerberi are no-retaliation monsters and won't eliminate themselves by making silly attacks. Efreet Sultans have this annoying Fire Shield, Magogs the area attack and Pit Lords the Demon resurrection. You have to set priorities here!
OK, forget killing the Efreets with your Shooters: they are to weak and the Efreets are too fast. What that means is, since you can't take out the Efreets with shooters or magic (we are talking Overlords here!) forget them. The Fire Shield will take its toll no matter what, so you won't gain by killing them fast.
Furthermore forget the Magogs as long as you keep out of the 10-hex-range and don't give them multiple targets. The damage will be not that devastating.
That leaves Devils, Cerberi and Pit Lords. It makes sense to kill or at least cripple the Pit Lords prior to the Cerberi; if you kill the Cerberi while the Pit Lords are still there they will resurrect them as Demons. This in turn leaves Devils and Pit Lords as priority targets. There's nothing wrong with the Dragons attacking the Arch Devils. The Devils don't do much damage and have 200 HPs only.
The Minotaur Kings are the right Pit Lord killers because the Pit Lords have few HPs and the Minotaurs are faster then the Lords and do lots of damage (as do the Pit Lords, by the way).
If the Cerberi are in range they are the right target for your shooters (as are obscenely high numbers of Familiars; that happens when an Inferno has installed the Grail).
As always with Necropolis much depends on the number of Skeletons and how effective the opponent can make use of them. Whether you will face a Necromancer or a Death Knight, the opponent will be magically superior while you will hold a might advantage. In most cases you will have a Tactics advantage AND the initiative and you should put that to good use by immediately attacking. Mass Slow followed by an immediate Dragon double hex attack with Scorpicores, Hags and Minotaur Kings moving should see the Ghost Dragons eliminated. If so, you can move all your troops before the opponents can react. Secondary targets are Zombies, Vampire Lords (!), and Wraiths. Vamp Lords do relatively few damage. Once you attack them, however, attack them in force.
In those rare cases when you have no Tactics advantage just wait what happens and react accordingly. When you attack the Dread Knights make sure that it is either an attack with something dispensable to eat up the retaliation or the attacker can handle a double damage retaliation. With the double damage special triggered one Dread Knight does 30-60 base damage which is a hell of a lot considering that you may encounter more than double as much Knights than you have Dragons. For instance, you may have 7 Black Dragons and the opponent may have 18 Dread Knights. With roughly equal heroes and artifacts your Overlord may have a might plus of +2 against a Death Knight and +4 against a Necromancer. What that means is, that even with expert Offense your 7 Dragons won't kill more than 4 Dread Knights, maybe 5 against a Necro and with a bit of luck. If 14 Dread Knights retaliate doing double damage you will lose a Dragon even if your Overlord has expert Armorer and you may lose 2 when you face a Death Knight having Offense.
What about the Skeletons? On average around 300 Skeletons are needed to kill 1 Dragon, while 1 Dragon will kill 15 Skellies. So if the opponent comes with 600 Skeletons your 7 Dragons shouldn't attack them should they still be able to retaliate. It should be the task of your Hags and shooters to attrition the Skeletons down to managable numbers. Be wary about the Teleport spell, though. A huge Skeleton stack Teleported next to your Dragons may just end all dreams of world conquest abruptly.
First of all, there is the annoying magic Resistance of Gold Dragons, Dwarves and Unicorns. Led by a Ranger this Resistance is even more pronounced. Mass spells cast onto the enemy may show disappointing results, so you can't rely on the effects of spells like Mass Slow or Blind.
Chances are that Rampart heroes have the Archery and Luck skills. That way their Elves may do awesome damage - more damage than your Evil Eyes and Medusas combined. Them Elves are quite vulnerable on the other hand and since the opponent shouldn't have a Tactics advantage, the Elves begin the fight unprotected. However, the opponent has the initiative with the Gold Dragons.
Use a Tactics advantage to deploy defensively and so that the Gold Dragons don't get a double hex attack. In case of an immediate attack you won't have many problems because you can kill the opponent's stack one after the other while the Elves will do half damage only. If there is no attack it is your turn. If you don't attack with the Dragons now the best the opponent can do is guarding the Elves so that only the Dragons may get the Elves by way of a double hex attack against the Dendroids - which doesn't mean death for the Dragons if you indeed attack. You can Dispel (but NOT Cure) the Dendroids's special ability. That is in case the Elves do more damage than your own shooters (and you have to consider spell points and the fact that the Medusas have 8 shots only), so you have to do something against them. The AI won't sit idle except with a distinct shooting advantage (see above how to handle that), and then Dendroids and Dwarves will trail and Elves will do half damage only, while your shooters will do full damage (either hand-to-hand or as a shooter) and all your units will be able to engage, but a human opponent may just play the waiting game or advance more carefully. In that case still ignore the Dwarves and the Dendroids and concentrate on Dragons, Pegasi, Unicorns and Centaurs (if the Elves aren't guarded anymore a fast Scorpicore or Dragon attack will kill them, but at that point they will be probably killed already anyway). The Minotaurs will make short work of the Pegasi or the Centaurs and they will do damage against Unicorns and even Dragons, but they and the Dragons will be main targets and especially the Minotaurs are easily overstretched; at least try to keep Dragons and Minotaurs away from the Dendroids. Once your shooter have enemy stacks adjacent to them move especially the Medusas and make hand-to-hand attacks on targets you's like to see petrified. The same is true for the Scorpicores. Use thise 2 stacks for initial attacks as much as possible.
Anyway, in case you face a human opponent he may have a lot more HPs than you and you may just be outgunned, especially against a Ranger: you won't do that much damage then and the HP masses may just be too much to handle, so this is a battle you should fight at a time especially convenient for you (or onconvenient for the opponent). Even in case of a victory this victory may just be too costly.
In a fight against a powerful Stronghold force there are 3 unit stacks that are a real pain: Behemoths, Ogres and T-Birds. Goblins, Wolf Raiders, Orcs, and Cyclops are no real problem, the first two because of their low HPs and Defense and the shooters because of the fact that they will both do only half damage hand to hand.
T-Birds are fast, tough and do solid damage, in particular when their special is triggered. There may be more T-Birds than you have Minotaurs and double as much Birds than Scorpicores. It may take a good Stronghold hero 3 Birds to kill 1 Minotaur and 4-5 Birds to kill 1 Scorpicore - without the special being triggered.
Ogres are slow, but they come in numbers have a lot of HPs, the same Attack Value than T-Birds and also a high Damage Value. It may take a good Stronghold hero 4 Ogres to kill 1 Minotaur King and 6-7 Ogres to kill 1 Scorpicore.
The trouble with the Behemoths is that they will do a lot of damage no matter how high the Defense Value of your hero is and there will probably be more of them than you have Dragons. How much damage they will do, that is more or less depending on the opposing hero's Attack skill. 1 Behemoth led by a Barbarian with Attack skill 18 and expert Offense will do 82-137 damage against Black Dragons led by an Overlord with Defense skill 15; 110 points of damage on average! The Behemoth won't do that much more damage against lower level damage or against any monster led by a hero with lower Defense while a higher Defense won't decrease the damage notably. 1 Black Dragon led by an Overlord with Attack skill 15 and expert Offense will do 70-87 damage or just short of 80 on average against Ancient Behemoths led by a Barbarian with Defense skill 12. What that means is, you need 4 Dragons to kill 1 Behemoth, but only 3 Behemoths to kill 1 Dragon at a later stage of the game. Note that with Crag Hack or Gundula the Behemoth damage would be even higher, around 120 on average.
If the opponent isn't out of spell points or something there seems to be no way to avoid the Behemoths. Sure, you can Blind them immeditately, but the opponent will cast Cure or Dispel, and then what happens in the next round?
What seems to be best is using a Tactics advantage, if there is one, to hide Dragons, Minotaurs, Hags and maybe Evil Eyes behind a wall of Medusas, Scorpicores and Trogs (out of the normal reach of the T-Birds is best) and just wait what the opponent does. (Should you have no Tactics advantage, Blind the Behemoths and use the 1st combat round to arrange your troops like you would have done with a Tactics advantage.) If the opponent casts Mass Haste his or her attack options are limited and retaliations of Scorps and Medusas may paralyze one or another stack. In any case you will have a free spell (Mass Slow, Mass Shield, Blind), may pick targets and may get a dummy attack onto the Behemoths with a crippled stack or the Trogs. If the opponent doesn't cast Mass Haste you will have a chance to cast after him or her.
The opponent may not have Mass Haste at all or may not cast it in case of the AI. All the better for you, but don't rely on a stack of Slowed Behemoths being Slowed the whole combat. It isn't necessary to have MASS Haste to Haste the Behemoths in the worst possible moment, so be careful.
This one is easy. You will have a Tactics advantage except maybe against Torosar (you will do the same then, except that you'll use the first turn for move your units nearer to the opposing forces): Deploy your units as far forward as possible, the shooters, too, so that they have targets in range. Cast Mass Slow. Attack with all you've got.
What the Dragons should attack, depends. A double hex attack is good. Often a tough stack may be attacked via Ammunition Cart, First Aid Tent or Ballista, but the attack must be worth it. Remember the extra 50% damage against Titans, so the Dragons' base damage against Titans is 60-75. However, the Titans may not be the biggest threat. Naga Queens do a hell of a lot of no-retaliation damage, but have a Defense Value of 13 only. The Dragons will do a lot of damage against them and a follow-up attack of the Minotaurs may just kill them completely. A good target for the Scorpicores are the Archmages, while the Minotaurs can make a follow-up against the Dragons' target or attack the Genies. The Hags will do a lot of damage against the Gremlins. With a plus on the might side the shooter can fire even upon higher level monsters like, for instance, Naga Queens, and still do good damage!
Take care if you fight against Neela! A lvl 19 Neela will have her Armorer skill up to nearly 30%. This alone is hard enough as it is the same as a permanently installed expert Shield spell, but should she cast Mass Shield the going gets tough indeed: 60% damage reduction is something worth considering.