IV. Units, Abilities and more Tips

Right now the units available for the beta are from two races, namely Humans and Varls (giants with horns). The differences between them are not just cosmetic, but also in terms of how they play. Varls tend to have more strength or armor, and are better individually. Humans, while weaker, have high willpower, more mobility (they occupy only 1 tile, while Varls occupy 4). All units have a passive trait/ability.

For humans, the advanced units available right now are skystrikers (blue archers), siege archers (red archers), thrashers (red axemen with blonde hair), and back biters (blue and yellow, shield and sword Vikings wearing helmets).

Varls are so far represented by the warhawk (yellow warrior Varl with the huge two handed sword), the warleader (blue and white warrior Varl with a hammer) the provoker (grey shield banging giant with a mace/club), and the strongarm (yellow shield banging giant with a spear).

Again, these are all actually advanced classes (rank 1). They would have come from a basic class (rank 0). Example, skystrikers are promoted archers, thrashers and back biters are promoted axemen. Warleaders and warhawks come from warriors, and provoker’s come from shieldbangers. Each basic class will have 2 or 3 options for promotion into an advanced class or can even be a 'pure' class. Basic units already have their passive abilities, but units only get their special active skills once promoted to rank 1.

Pure classes or master classes as they seem to be named are promoted basic units that have abilities reflective of that basic unit’s passive. They are the bowmaster, axemaster, warmaster, and shieldmaster.

Let's go over the passive and active abilities.

Skystrikers and Siege Archer

Their passive ability is called Puncture. When stationary (they have not moved and attacked same turn) they are able to do +1 str damage for every 2 armor broken on the targeted enemy. This is good against high str targets that have little to no armor left. Notably they also start with high willpower (6), and only have 3 move, making them more difficult to position and requiring closer formations to defend.

The skystriker’s active skill is called Rain of Arrows, they fire an arrow into the sky and trap a tile within their range. If an enemy passes over the trapped tile, the enemy will take str damage (calculated as explained previously, minimum of 1) and be stunned for 1 turn, making them unable to act. This is useful for defensive purposes, to prevent enemy melee units getting into position to attack you. The effect only lasts 1 cycle (until your archer's turn comes around again), hence the trap is not permanent. The arrow can also harm your own unit if that ally is on the trapped tile when the arrow comes down.

The siege archer is the more armored and better armor breaking cousin of the skystriker. She also benefits from puncture. Her base armor break can reach 2 (same as a warhawk), and her armor can reach 10. This means she can take more hits, though she has less str than a skystriker (7v8). Her active ability is called Slag and Burn. It follows the same turn mechanics as Rain of Arrows, but instead it covers an area, forming a 5 square cross, with tar. On her next turn, each tile covered deals 1armor and 1 str damage to any unit on top of it. The initial arrow does 1 armor and 1 str damage as well.

This means 1 Slag and burn can hit for a total of 1 armor and 1 str damage for the initial shot +up to 3 armor and 3 str damage if a varl is on top of the tar area (since the varl will cover 3 squares of the 5 square cross). Siege archers are good as armor break units and in conjunction with provokers, warleaders and skystrikers, due to Malice, Forge Ahead and Rain of Arrows (which can make a target skip a turn or speed up your archer’s turn). Note, a siege archer’s slag and burn can be ignited early by the slag and burn of another archer (friendly or enemy), if the trap areas overlaps at any square. This means you can use your enemy’s slag and burn, or that of a second siege archer in your team to change the timing of the trap and trap other units/areas besides the initial one.

Thrashers and Backbiters

Coming from the same basic class, axemen, they share the same passive ability, shieldwall. Shieldwall takes effect when an adjacent unit is beside them. They give and receive +1 armor for each unit adjacent to them. When axemen stand adjacent to each other, the effect observed is +2 armor, because their own shield wall takes effect, and the other axeman also gives them +1. This makes them good support units and resilient front liners, bolstering defense for those around them.

Thrashers' active special skill is called bloody flail, it strikes 4 times. The first three times do 1 damage to str or armor randomly, the last hit attacks str for 1+the number of allies adjacent to the thrasher (minimum of 1=1+0 allies adjacent, maximum of 4=1+3 allies adjacent). This skill is highly useful because it is not dependent on the thrasher's str, and it ignores the enemy's armor. To illustrate, even with 1 str a thrasher with 3 allies adjacent can, if lucky and all 4 hits attack str, do 7 str damage no matter the enemy's armor rating (1+1+1+4).
Backbiters have an active ability called run-through. Using this ability, they can target an area up to 2 tiles away (backbiter-empty square-target single tile). The Backbiter will then run through the squares (and any units over them), reducing those units' armor by 1, and in the same turn, strike the targeted unit 'in the back' for the backbiter's str. These units are good at reaching and disabling archers, but are also fragile since they enter into the enemy formation. They do better with high str.

Warhawk and Warleader

The warhawk is the hardest hitting unit there is so far, but also tricky to use. His passive ability is heavy impact. When attacking an enemy with str, enemies adjacent to the target suffer 1 damage also (sort of like collateral damage).

His active skill is called tempest. This ability hits up to two adjacent units for the warhawk's str, in a clockwise direction. The bold part is important when targeting. The warhawk is the only unit so far whose str can be used directly to attack multiple units (2), making him very deadly. The passive ability also takes effect when tempest is used. This makes the warhawk quite good versus close formations. When playing an opponent, this is one of the primary threats to look out for, be wary of allowing space enough for tempest to be used. If possible disable the warhawk early.

The warleader is a veteran warrior able to take command from behind the lines. His special ability is called Forge Ahead. Using it, he can change the turn order of your team by selecting a unit to go next after him. In effect, he can speed up a unit’s turn (one that has already gone before him can have their turn right after him, without waiting for the full cycle), at the cost of changing the turn order of the team. He also has incredibly high break (up to 4 natural). But beware, his stats when balanced are somewhat low for a varl, and he tends toward min-max building. One side effect of his ability is that it also gives the unit he Forges Ahead 1 willpower, like a willpower transfer, so currently the warleader can also be used like a willpower battery for other units. Like the warhawk, he carries the heavy impact passive.

Provoker and Strongarm

Provokes are tanks, and they don't have a lot of move. Their passive ability is Return the Favor. When they are attacked, the enemy, if adjacent to them, suffers 1 armor damage. Archers therefore do not suffer the effects of the provoker passive, and thrashers should avoid using bloody flail on them (unless with buddies adjacent to be worth the -4 armor, for the 4 hits).

Their active ability is Malice…which is actually a fancy way of saying what the provoker is supposed to do, provoke. A provoker can taunt an adjacent enemy to attack him, this forces that enemy to do so during its turn (the opponent is unable to control his unit during its turn). Like a taunt or provoke is usually used, this is useful in diverting attention from a more vulnerable target.

Strongarms have higher str but lower armor than provokers, their stat distribution makes them heavy str attackers even when using a balanced stat build, and they are good against single targets. Their break is on the low-side however. Their ability, somehow hinted at with their name, is called Battering Ram. Using battering ram, a strongarm can launch a target 4 squares away (provided the landing area is free). The ability causes 1 armor break, and the target suffers 1 armor break per unit passed through. The ability is good for shoving away threats so they can’t dive into your formation, for pushing enemy defensive wall units behind the offensive support lines, and for many positional plays (pushing a unit out of harm’s way, or into range of a target like a sling-shot). Like provoker’s they also have return the favor.

Master Classes

As mentioned master classes have improved stats and abilities (needing willpower to use) similar to passives their original base units start with. The bowmaster has an ability called bird of prey which grants her +1 range (5+1=6), allowing her to snipe archers from just barely out of range, and for reaching targets 1 tile farther away. This is especially crucial due to puncture, since not moving keeps puncture in effect. She has 2 armor break like siege archers. The axemaster has an ability called stonewall. While the ability is in effect, the axemaster resists up to 3 of all incoming damage. This means, any attack, str/armor or both, must in a single turn do more than 3 damage to him in order to register. Ex. Warhawk with 14 str attacks an 11 armor axmaster with stonewall in effect, the axemaster will take no damage unless the warhawk uses willpower (like having extra armor), this also means 4 break is needed minimum (to do 1 break to him) while stonewall is in effect. His best use is therefore to gain territory or chase down units with minimal fear of being hurt.

The warmaster has more strength than a warhawk (17 vs 16 max), but instead of tempest, has an ability called sundering impact. Using this ability, he cannot miss (though he can be resisted by the axemaster), and his attack will do 1str and 1 armor damage to units adjacent to the target. This impact damage improves as the ability ranks up. He also has a good amount of break (max 3). I haven’t used him too much myself, but he seems to be best used by attacking over enemy armor or chipping away a formation’s str and armor using his ability. The shieldmaster takes return the favor to the next level, using his ability…”bring the pain.” With his ability, he attacks an enemy doing his normal break damage, and when attacked by a melee unit, he returns 2 armor break instead of 1. This improves as the ability ranks up. While not seemingly large in effect, it really chips away at units that attack him. He effectively does break while attacking and while units attack him.

A. More Tips and Trivia

With that info dump complete, let's get back to simple tips to help you maximize your units!

  1. Give archers more exertion so they can use willpower on attacks, they're useful for weakening a strong formation, or units that break that formation.
  2. Protect said archers, they're glass cannons that have really limited mobility, so if you're putting them in a dangerous situation, make sure they've done their job. On the flip side, be wary of enemy archers, and prioritize disabling or killing them over melee units.
  3. When facing high armor low str enemies, consider using bloody flail, it'll save you turns and willpower if you take the right formation.
  4. Try to position your thrashers next to each other, to take advantage of both shield wall and bloody fail bonuses.
  5. Units like the Warhawk and Backbiter see their potential realized when they have max strength or near max strength. Also, try to preserve these units for later, when your enemy has been weakened a few rounds.
  6. Because of their size (4 squares), Varl are susceptible to being stopped by rain of arrows! Take advantage of this and also beware. When unsure, taking a step back is often safer than charging forward. When risking it, set waypoints to try and avoid being trapped.
  7. Use Slag and Burn and Malice in tandem, to tar up an enemy, and keep them there for the explosion!
  8. Archers can’t attack units adjacent to them. You can protect a more vulnerable unit from being shot by moving a provoker to an archer and using Malice. The archer won’t be able to attack the provoker
  9. As turns speed up for a team, it might happen that a provoker get’s his turn before the unit he Maliced comes up. The Maliced unit will still skip a turn even if the provoker moves away.
  10. Rain of Arrows also takes advantage of the puncture effect. It can also hurt allied units if they are on the trap when the trap takes effect (during the archer’s next turn). Slag and burn can also hurt allied units if they are on the trapped area.
  11. A warhawk’s tempest can and will hurt friendly/allied units if targeted incorrectly. Remember it goes in a clockwise direction!
  12. If a warhawk hurts an ally with tempest (friendly fire), the heavy impact passive does not trigger from the friendly unit to adjacent units.
  13. A warhawk suffers extra armor damage for the heavy impact if he tempests a unit and a provoker that are standing side by side to each other.
  14. Rain of Arrows and Slag and burn instantly take effect if the archer that shot them is killed. Be wary of triggering traps on your own units when you kill an enemy archer. On the other hand, you can kill an archer to clear a path, or trigger traps on enemy units.
  15. A backbiter can run-through a friendly unit, also doing 2 armor damage to your guy while running through.
  16. Slag and burn can be ignited early by another ally or enemy archer’s slag and burn, if their effect turn comes before your own.
  17. A backbiter will be stunned and interrupted if he passes through an empty tile trapped with rain of arrows while using his run through ability. However he will successfully execute his skill even if an enemy is standing over its own rain of arrow trap.
  18. Plan unit turns after a strongarm to allow for a ram, followed by that unit’s move and attack, this can be used a slingshot maneuver. Also, look and beware for openings, a unit (even a WH) can be rammed behind a varl/enemy lines to wreak havoc.
  19. Plan units to go before a warleader, so that after taking their turn, the warleader can forge them ahead and they can act “twice” in 1 cycle. Don’t use Forge Ahead on a unit following the warleader unless you’re trying to recharge willpower. This Forge ahead combo is useful for attacking twice with archers or warhawks! It even works well with axemen ambushes.
  20. Position Bowmasters in a place where you can get the most range out off. Bird of prey extends their range by 1 so they can do puncture from farther away. Also remember bird of prey is guaranteed to hit! Even at 1 str, a bowmaster will kill an enemy unit with 16 armor and 1 str left! Good for nailing enemy archers with near max armor but no health in an archer standoff.
  21. Axemasters resist 3 damage while in stonewall. This effect can be maximized by providing him with shieldwall bonuses from other axemen, raising his armor so that a boosted str hit won’t faze him
  22. Take note, when you use the abilities of the axemaster or warleader, you sacrifice a turn to do so, balance damage dealing with these strategic maneuvers, or you’ll find your opponent overpowers you by dealing more damage across your team/waiting units.
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