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Heroes Community > Heroes 5 - Modders Workshop > Thread: Heroes 5.5 Impossible Strategies
Thread: Heroes 5.5 Impossible Strategies
azalen
azalen


Adventuring Hero
posted November 16, 2016 01:06 AM bonus applied by VokialBG on 17 Nov 2016.
Edited by azalen at 20:14, 05 Nov 2017.

Heroes 5.5 Impossible Strategies

I wanted to share some of my strategies for beating Heroes 5.5 on Impossible with the community.   Magnomagus and company have done an exceptional job with this mod, and I haven't seen any significant strategy threads (other than legacy TOE forum and Celestial Heavens posts).  So, I wanted to at least start the discussion.   Here goes:  

To beat Impossible AI, you must recognize several things:

1) Neutral Creature stacks will almost always outnumber your army and have much higher growth rates.  

2) The opposing AI starts with a lot more resources than you do and cheats.  Expect, no matter how well you play, for the AI to have an equal to or better army than yours.  

3) Impossible AI requires that you maintain your momentum, or you will lose the game.  Taking massive losses in any one battle is usually a game killer.  However, you can not wait to get an overwhelming force, because you will fall behind the opponent and the neutral growth rate.  


There are several core tenents that you must master in order to achieve victory on Impossible:

1) Blocking:

This is the most important concept in all of Heroes 5.  The core concept of blocking is that all creature stacks, no matter how powerful, are limited by the fact that they can only attack one stack at a time (with some exceptions).  Therefore, you can greatly limit your army losses by forcing a very powerful stack to attack one of your meaningless stacks.  i.e A big stack of Arch Angels isn't going to do much to your army if they spend their attack step killing a 1 unit goblin stack.  When blocking, you want stacks you generally don't care about (usually of 1 unit each) to block and take hits so that your big damage dealers (usually your ranged units) take no losses.

-Know your Keyboard Keys: A non-obvious point to beginners (considering that most of the game is controlled with the mouse) is that you can split your creature stacks at battle setup time and on the army screen by holding down shift and clicking the unit.    

-Understand That Army Slots are a Limited Resource: Sometimes, deploying your full army isn't the best move for avoiding losses.  You only have 7 army slots, and if you take them all with valuable unit stacks, chances are they will take losses.  Many times, you are better off deploying more 1 unit stacks for blockers/decoys in those slots than your full army stacks.  A squire hero can help a main hero maximize 1-unit blocking/decoy slots by holding the main hero's primary army stacks while the main engages with most army slots filled with blocking/decoy stacks.    

-Understand your own Army's special blocking capabilities:  A number of factions go beyond just normal bloocking.  The simplest example of this is the Necropolis ghost unit with etherealness.  Inferno allows you to gate in additional blockers with their blocking stacks (provided the blocking stack has 3 units).  The Last Stand Morale perk can resurrect blockers when they die (provided there are 2 units in the stack).  Some hero specials create elementals or ghosts when stack dies, which can potentially be used for further blocking.  Dwarves can use runes like etherealness.  Finally, some units, like obsidian gargoyles, can absorb magic attacks and take no damage.

-Understand the Opponent Stack:  If it is a large stack, blocking becomes much easier, because you only have to keep off 2-3 attackers at once.  If it is a dragon stack, you should position your blocking units one tile away so their breath can't hit your ranged (if you have Tactics).

-Atacking the opponent with your ranged stack while in melee range isn't always the right move:  This allows the opposing unit to retaliate, incurring losses to your ranged units.  Sometimes, it is better to stay in defend mode and let your hero and blocking stack finish off the attacker.  

-Use terrain to your advantage.  A terrain element can act as a permanent blocker for you, enabling you to deploy more blockers in another area.  Terrain often plays a huge part in early gatekeeper stack breaks.    

-The "Thin out the immediate attackers" strategy.  With this method, you greatly reduce the units attacking your blockers, but do not finish them off.  By not killing them, these attacking units block other larger stacks from attacking your blockers.  You then direct your ranged units to thin out the larger stacks that are unable to attack.  This works well when going up against large sized creatures.  

-The perk Tactics can often help you with blocking, particularly for blocking large units (very important for barbarians protecting their Centaurs).  



Basic Blocking Primer: A Quick Primer on some Blocking Arrangements.  All of these arrangements are from lower left corner perspective where you can protect your ammo cart.  
--------------------------------------

Table:

B = 1 Unit Blocker (This can be 3 units for Inferno with Gating)
F = Main Blocker Stack (They Serve as Melee Finishers)
R = Ranged Unit Stack
L = Tough Large Level 5-7 Unit
P = Phoenix

This is a basic arrangement against small units.  Surround and protect both your ranged unit and your main blocking stack with 1 unit blockers.  Keep a 1 unit blocker stack in reserve upper left to fill in any holes.

--- --- ---
|   |   |   |
--- --- ---
| B |   |   |    
--- --- ---
| B | B |   |
--- --- ---
| F | B |   |
--- --- ---
| R | B |   |
--- --- ---


Minimum blocking arrangement to block against large units in the corner.  Unlike small units, you need only 1 blocker to fully block, not 3.    

--- --- ---
|   |   |   |
--- --- ---
|   |   |   |    
--- --- ---
|   |   |   |
--- --- ---
|   | B |   |
--- --- ---
| R |   |   |
--- --- ---

Minimum blocking arrangement to block against multi tile attack creatures (Dragons, Blood Eye, Champions) and some area effect creatures (wyverns, thanes, nightmares).  Position your blockers a tile away from your ranged unit and prevent their large bodies from landing next to your ranged creature.  You need 2 blockers to protect your ranged stack at the minimum.      

--- --- ---
|   |   |   |
--- --- ---
|   |   |   |    
--- --- ---
|   | B |   |
--- --- ---
|   |   |   |
--- --- ---
| R |   | B |
--- --- ---

(Tactics Required) Protect your large unit (i.e. Centaurs) from small units.

--- --- ---
|   |   |   |
--- --- ---
|   | B |   |    
--- --- ---
| F | B | B |
--- --- ---
| R | R | B |
--- --- ---
| R | R | B |
--- --- ---

(Tactics Required) Minimum blocking arrangement to block your large unit (i.e. Centaurs) from other large units.  You must protect the diagonal corner.  

--- --- ---
|   |   |   |
--- --- ---
|   |   |   |    
--- --- ---
| B |   | B |
--- --- ---
| R | R |   |
--- --- ---
| R | R | B |
--- --- ---


Simple Blocking Arrangement utilizing level 5-7 units as large blockers for your ranged.  Usually, you will put regeneration on your large blocker (or they already have it like Hydra) and endurance buffs.  You can fill the lower right adjacent with a small blocker if necessary against small units.      

--- --- ---
|   |   |   |
--- --- ---
|   |   |   |    
--- --- ---
| L | L |   |
--- --- ---
| L | L |   |
--- --- ---
| R |   |   |
--- --- ---


Summoning Blocking: (Credit to Elvin's Celestial Heavens Academy Guide) This blocking is designed to force your Phoenix (an excellent blocker due to being super tough and fire shield) to be constantly re-summoned in the large creature arrangement above.  You must fill all the 2x2 spaces with a 1 unit blockers so that the phoenix appears in the right spot directly above your ranged.        

--- --- ---
| B |   |   |
--- --- ---
|   |   |   |
--- --- ---
| B |   |   |
--- --- ---
|   |   |   |
--- --- ---
| B |   |   |    
--- --- ---
|   |   |   |
--- --- ---
| B |   |   |    
--- --- ---
|   |   |   |
--- --- ---
| B |   |   |    
--- --- ---
| P | P |   |
--- --- ---
| P | P |   |
--- --- ---
| R |   |   |
--- --- ---



2) Locking Down Stacks:

Locking down a stack is an important concept, particularly for dark magic oriented factions.  The idea is that, no matter how powerful the stack, if you lock it down, it can't damage you.  There are a number of ways to both hard lock a stack: (blind, puppet, torpor) or soft lock a stack (slow, wasp swarm, sorrow, confusion).

Locking a stack is one of the more effective ways to take on ranged units early game.  Another way to take on ranged units is to only deploy your blockers and destroy them with your hero, never exposing your ranged dealers to damage.  With this method, you sacrifice a lot of blockers, but you maintain your all-important ranged damage base.    

Good blocking combined with locking stacks is a good way to take on powerful level 6-7 gatekeepers, since both blocking and locking scale infinitely with the power of the stack.  


3) Replenishment Strategy:

No matter how good you are at blocking, there are times where your army will be forced to take losses in order to achieve a must-win goal.  This can be when you are taking on very powerful neutral gate guards (level 6-7 stacks) or ranged stacks in the early game (elvish archers and druids being good examples).  

In general, you want to replenish the losses your non-retaliatory damage dealers take (usually your ranged units).  This is where your replenishment strategy comes in.  Replenishment options can vary widely.  For Might factions, War Machines -> Tent is the most obvious strategy.  Light Magic Regeneration and Resurrection are good options.  Summoning has Arcane Armor and the ability to summon both terrain blocking (Crystal and Blade Barrier) and blocking units (phoenix, phantasmal, elementals).   Dark magic has Vampirism, albeit a level 5 spell.  Necromancers have easy mode with easy access to animate dead and necromancy talent.  

A replenishment strategy is not always for your damage dealers, but your blockers as well.  If your blocking stack dies or takes losses, you can heal/ressummon/ressurect it to block again.  


4) Spend your Money Wisely:  

If you spend money on units that consistently take losses, than you are not investing wisely.  As a general rule of thumb, you want to invest heavily in your ranged damage dealers and a blocking stack early game.   If it is a slow walker (like minotaurs and golems) or a fast glass cannon unit (like genies or griffins), I recommend avoiding spending money on those units until end game.  

For early creeping, you usually only want to spend your money on 2 army slots: your ranged stack and a stack of blockers.  You then occupy the rest of your army slots with 1 unit blockers that are split out from your main blocking stack.  The 1 unit blockers are the ones you want to take the hits and your main blocking stack serves as a melee finisher for anything that gets close to your ranged units.  

Most of the time, you want to save your money to build towards your economy (Capital in particular), your castle (for extra creature growth), your mage guild (for game changing creeping spells), and your level 6-7 dwellings (depending on faction).  So, save your money by only spending it on cheap ranged units and blockers.  

Finally, you want to focus on building your creature dwellings out before the week-end to maximize your unit production.   The idea is that you will have your max army to draw on for the end game, even though you may not be spending money on buying these creatures in the creeping phase.  


5) Building your Main Hero for the End Battle:  

While the main focus of the game is early game creeping and breaking through the high level stacks, you also need to keep an eye on building your hero for the end game.  

First of all, a good rule of thumb is that magic heroes have an easier time creeping (thanks to better replenishment and blocking options), and will usually have access to better artifacts and stats than a might hero (not always, but a general advantage).  To be successful, a magic hero usually needs to take down the gatekeeper stack before the might hero.  A might hero will struggle a bit more on creeping, and usually take more losses, but they also tend to have a stronger end game skill set than magic heroes (again, a generalization, and not always true).  

Magic heroes, however, can turn the tide with a well placed spell.  Puppet Master, unanswered, is devastating to a might hero.  Imploding that stack of Elvish Archers before they can attack is bad news for Sylvan.  Mass buffs/curses like Haste/Slow/Deflect Missile can change the game.  Summoning can often pull games out that once seemed lost by constantly resummoning powerful attackers/blockers.   Also remember that a might hero will also usually have a spell school - most commonly Light or Dark, to counteract whatever the magic hero is doing, but they won't be able to cast as fast without Sorcery.    

Where a Hero goes on the ATB bar is critical to the course of a battle.  This is where perks like Swift Mind and Distract, Hero abilities like Wind Speaker, and skills like Sorcery play an absolutely critical role.  Might heroes always want higher initiative to overwhelm their opponents with powerful, lucky attacks before they can act.  Magic heroes want to go first and cast spells often in order to survive and turn back the onslaught.  

In general, a might hero should always focus on the attack stat, and the magic hero should focus on spell power.

Here are some Templates for common hero builds.... these templates are my opinion for what core talents your hero should take to be competitive on impossible.  The rest of the skills are up to you...

Destruction Magic Hero:
A typical Magic hero Destruction package will include Max Destruction, Max Sorcery, Max Enlightenment, Max Occultism, Max Luck, Swift Mind, Intelligence, Empowered Spells, Caster's Luck, and at least one of the 50% spell damage artifacts.

Blitzkrieg Might Hero (cross battlefield first turn and wreck your opponent early):
Primary Picks: Max Attack, Max Morale, Max Luck, Aura of Swiftness, Tactics, Retribution, Barbarian's Luck, Soldiers Luck (dep on Faction).  Secondary Picks: Max Defense (with Forge Master if worried about Destruction), Max Light Magic (Master of Wrath at a minimum, the others Masters are for specific matchups), Enlightenment (Swift Mind, Intelligence).  War machines is good for week 1-2 creeping.

Ranged Might Hero (stay back and kill your opponent with ranged units):  
Max Attack, Max Morale, Max Luck, Max War Machines, Archery, Fire Arrow, Tripple Ballista, Barbarian's Luck.  Secondary Picks: Max Defense (with Forge Master if worried about Destruction), Light/Dark/Summoning are all viable for a spell school.  Combat->Preparation is good for Might matchups.


6) Dealing with Missile and Spell Units:

There are often your toughest opponents when creeping.  Here are some pointers for dealing with them:

-If your hero has enough offense (Destruction/Summoning/War Machines hero), have the hero  kill the ranged units and do not deploy your valuable ranged units.  Instead, deploy your blocking units and break them out into individual 1-stack groups.  Now, the missile units can only target 1 unit blocking stacks while you use your hero to kill them. If you have a squire hero helping your main hero, you can shuffle your other unit stacks onto him, freeing up all your army slots for 1-stack blockers.  Now, the ranged have to kill 7 1-unit stacks to defeat you, giving your hero enough time to destroy the missile units.    

-Missile units can be blocked by rushing them with blocking units, arcane crystals, and summoned units.  They can also be blocked by arcane crystal and the like.  If the missile units are split up, a firewall spell that covers 2 stacks is pretty effective against them.  Soft-locking the missile units with wasp blind/swarm/sorrow/hive are other possible options.  

-Swift Mind puts your hero in front of all missile units, giving you a chance to destroy/block at least 2 stacks with an AOE spell before they fire/cast a spell.

-Keep in mind missile damage mitigation strategies.  Mass Confusion is one example.  Some factions have the ability to shield your damage dealers from missile damage like Necropolis Skeletons or Haven Squires.  If you mitigate enough damage, you can sometimes take acceptable losses from ranged engagements.  

-Mild replenishment strategies like regeneration and tent are good enough against missile units if you place them on high defense units like tier-6/7 units.  Vampirism completely dominates missile units.  

-Upgraded gargoyles and other anti-magic units are ideal for taking on mages/druids/pit fiends.  Split them into 1-unit groups and watch the spells rebound as your hero takes them out.    
     

Thoughts on Skill Perks:

Battle Frenzy:  Battle Frenzy is very powerful for several factions and should be considered practically a requirement for them.  It can deliver an outsized damage boost in the early game.  Factions that benefit in particular: Academy (Gremlins, Gargoyles), Inferno (Imps, Demons, Cerebri), Necromancer (Skeleton Archers, Ghosts), Sylvan (Dryads, Dancers, Elvish Archers), Stronghold (you want all the damage you can get for Centaur).  Also, if you start with minor artifact, Necklace of the Bloody Claw is very, very valuable one to start with.  

Destruction:  Destruction magic is effective early game, but Impossible growth rates can surpass the static scaling of damage spells.  Therefore, it can be very mana intensive, and destruction's effectiveness can depend greatly on how many mana wells are available.  If you are building a Destruction hero, it is absolutely imperative to get expert Destruction as your #1 priority in the early game.  

Sorcery: Sorcery is a top pick early on, as the speed really helps you burn down stacks in the early weeks.  If you are a magic hero, you take this skill as a requirement. Sorcery also has a nice perk in Arcane Brilliance, a perk that potentially gives you +4 spell power at level 20.   All magic heroes should have Swift Mind and Sorcery.   You can also look at Mark of the Wizard, but it means you can't take Arcane Brilliance.  

Empowered Spells: Occultism, as a base level skill, isn't that great, but it allows you to obtain Empowered Spells.  Getting Empowered Spells really helps take your Destruction hero to the next level.  The idea is to have one of the 50% damage artifacts, combine it with Empowered Spells, and spam a relevant destruction spell to your artifact.  This gives you the power and mana efficiency to compete with neutral growth rates.   You can also grab Exorcism for an additional +2 spell power where spell power is at a premium in the early weeks.  

Mark of the Wizard: This perk in Sorcery is able to do some amazing things, especially when combined with dark lock down spells.  Checkout Elvin's Celestial Heavens Academy 3.1 post for some ideas.  The only problem is you have to use half of your hero's ATB to cast it, so it takes a little bit of time to get going (time you may not have)... therefore it can be good or bad depending on the speed/initiative of what you're facing.  Here are some cool things you can do with Mark of the Wizard...

-Double up Destruction Spells, particularly AOE ones.  
-Double up Ressurection
-Blind 2 targets with one spell.
-Summon double the amount of Fire Traps
-Phantom Forces 2 Units
-Cast 2 Arcane Crystals/Blade Barriers in front of multiple ranged units.

Swift Mind: Swift Mind is one of the best perks in the game.  It is very effective for the end game and helps in creeping as well.  If you are a magic hero, consider this perk a requirement and Enlightenment a must take.   It is great for a might hero as well with a typical one spell school build (light or dark).   Intelligence, another Enlightenment perk, is also excellent.  Enlightenment is a great skill in general.

Intelligence: Another winner from Enlightenment, this gives you 40% more mana.  Compare that to Arcane Training, which reduces cost by 20%, and you will see the power of this perk.    

Soldier's Luck: This skill is very important for several factions.  The faction that benefits the most would be Necropolis with Vampire Princes and Torpor.  Sylvan has Blind with Unicorns and Warding Arrows (leading to an interesting choice between Arcanes and Master Hunters).  Fear effects from Inferno, Fortress, and Stronghold also benefit.    

Logistics:  I recommend skipping Logistics for at least the first week.  Logistics is not absolutely required for early game, and most of the things you need to do are close together.  Your main focus in the early game should be grabbing the skills you need to help your break Impossible stacks.  Logistics won't do you any good if you can't compete with the growth rate of Impossible Neutrals.

Master of Life: The perk, itself, is nothing to write home about.  However, if you have Light magic, it is an easy way to obtain the highly valuable Regeneration spell... a creeping powerhouse.  Consider taking this if you have Light magic, but haven't been able to pickup Regeneration from your Mage Guild or map.  

Master of Mind: This perk is a must-take for a dark magic user.  Obviously, it allows you to cast Mass Slow, which everyone knows is good.  However, it also allows you to cast Mass Confusion, a decent damage mitigator against ranged units in the early game.

Twilight: This perk can give you a massive +6 spell power (at level 30) for Light and Dark spells.  With the recent emphasis on spell power for Light and Dark, this is quite good.  You have to pickup Master of Abjuration to get it, but that isn't too bad as Deflect Missile and Endurance are both fairly useful.  You can still pickup Master of Wrath, so no biggie.  

 

Thoughts on Spells:

Fire Trap: Fire trap was very powerful in TOE, and remains so in 5.5.  Its impact is that it can deal effectively with slow walker units that you normally wouldn't be able to take early game.  This goes all the way up to Treants, Raks, and Magma Dragons.  You will need Expert Summoning, however, to make it good.  It also has the side benefit of being a bit more mana efficient than Destruction when going against large creatures.

Confusion: Confusion is now a level 2 spell.  It is a primarily an ok damage mitigation spell against ranged units when used with Master of Mind.  Dark, in general, is ineffective until you hit level 3, so confusion at least offers 'something'.  

Sorrow: Sorrow used to be level 1, but is now is level 3 and more powerful.  It is the first Dark spell you encounter that can effectively lock down mobs.  The catch is that it is chance based (morale and luck).  It can be a decent spell to take down a gatekeeper stack if you don't have a better option.  

Phoenix: A common strategy for an early break of gatekeeper stack is racing to lvl 5 mage guild to get Phoenix and abuse it as a blocker/attacker.  Keep resummoning it to block for your ranged units and its attack + fire shield will do the rest.  Phoenix is the main reason you can achieve the rare 'week 2' gatekeeper break.  

Hypnotize: Formerly known as Puppet Master under Dark, Hypnotize has been moved to Summoning.  Hypnotize now requires A LOT of spell power to get more than a turn or two.  This forces you to continually recast it, requiring a lot of mana.  There were some tactics in TOE history that allowed for week 2 breaks by using a puppeted level 7 to block for your ranged stack (similar to a Phoenix break).  I'm not sure if this still viable given the current large spell power requirements - I'm guessing Phoenix is the more reliable strategy.  Regardless, Hypnotize is still a highly effective (and feared) spell in the end game hero battle.  Strangely, Summoning now has BOTH of the week 2 break spells.

Regeneration: The power of Regeneration is that it is only a level 3 spell, but it can serve as an overpowered replenisher strategy you need to take on the powerful neutrals.  The reason is that, when placed on a level 7 stack, it makes that level 7 stack a very effective blocker that can mitigate big hits with their high defense and regenerate their losses later.  In particular, a simple arrangement of a level 7 unit in defending mode buffed with regeneration, blocking for a ranged unit in the corner, is a simple and very effective creeping arrangement.  

Celestial Shield + Regeneration: A powerful creeping combo, you first cast regeneration on your level 7 (which lasts a number of turns), and then continually refresh Celestial Shield on your Level 7.  Your level 7 will now be able to take huge huts from massive gatekeeper stacks while blocking for your ranged.

Chain Lightning: Recently moved from Tier 4 to Tier 3, Chain Lightning is actually quite good at the 3 slot.  It isn't limited by the bounds of traditional AOE, as it can hit units wherever they are when the initial target is well placed.  If you have Trident, it becomes a very good creeping spell.  

Vampirism: This is easy mode creeping.  It is very simple, get Vampirism... place it on your level 7.  Laugh as you creep everything that isn't a mechanical or undead with ease.  An Overlord Red dragon stack, in particular, is very dangerous when they have Vampirism cast on them.        


Thoughts on Starting Artifacts:

1) Necklace of the Bloody Claw - This artifact is really good for a number of factions.  If you do the math, it can produce a damage boost far in excess of any talent or artifact for your low-level units.  Combine this with Battle Frenzy, and your low-level units turn into devastating offensive stacks.  

2) Elemental Waistband - This is a very powerful starting artifact for magic heroes that have Summoning.  Grab Summoning as an early pick and your summoned elemental stack is going to be much better than any stack you encounter week 1.  All you have to do is put up some 1 unit blockers for dummy targets, and let your elementals do the dirty work.


1st Week Gate Guards and the Gatekeeper Stack:

When you start a game, one of the greatest impacts on your success, can, surprisingly enough, be due to something as simple as the identity of the wood and ore mine guards.  A bad guard that incurs many losses on turn 1 can force you to avoid the mine until you have a solution that doesn't involve losing half your damage dealers.  The worst guards are: Dungeon 1st level units, Sylvan 1st level units, and Academy 1st level units.  The easiest are Haven 1st level units, Necro 1st level walker units, Stronghold 1st level units.  The rest are somewhere in between.  Not getting the wood/ore mines within turn 3 can have a major impact on your creeping rate, because town building depend greatly on wood and ore early.  In general, you should be able to deal with all 1st level units except the aforementioned top 3 within turn 3 of week 1.

The Identity of the Gatekeeper stack can also delay your creeping.  If you see Dragons, Storm Titans/Titans, Seraphs (Divine Vengeance) that means very bad news for you.  Ghost Dragon are the easiest, followed by Cyclops, Devils, and Magmas (vulnerable to blocking and fire trap). Arch Angels are somewhere in the middle.



Breaking the Gatekeeper Stack (Know your Level 7s):

Breaking a Gatekeeper Stack that blocks you from artifacts, stat houses, etc.. is often the difference in the game.  Here are some of the strategies I use for each type:

Arch Angels/Seraphs: Although Arch Angels stats are intimidating, they do have 2 significant weakness - they can only attack one unit at a time and they are vulnerable to Dark lockdown.  Therefore, you need to arrange your blockers carefully to take the huge hits that they deliver.  Be careful where you line up your large creatures, as Angels can hit those 1st turn if they are adjacent.  Use a combination of good blocking and dark magic lockdown to take the Angels down.  Seraphs are an incredible pain because of divine vengeance - for that, not much to say other than get resurrection/tent.  

Arch Devils/Arch Demon: Devils are simply an easier version of Arch Angels.  They can't reach your army on their first turn as an Arch Angel can, so you get 1 extra turn to manage things.  The main thing you need to watch out for is "Teleport Other" on your ranged stack.      

Magma Dragons/Lava Dragons: Magmas are very tough and have dragon breath, but they still have all the disadvantages of large, slow walkers.  Summoning, with Fire Trap, and summoned blocking objects like Arcane Crystal/Blade Barrier/Phantasmal forces, help keep these guys away form you.  Use dragon blocking tactics against them.  Also, Mass Slow and Sorrow works on them, soft locking them for the ranged kill.  Of the 2, Lavas are easier to deal with because you can use your finisher without taking fire shield damage.

Blood Eye/Untamed Cyclops: Cyclops have higher initiative and speed than Magma dragons and have Dragon Breath-like multi-hits.  If there is a good way to block them with the terrain, you can use Summoning blocking.  Otherwise, Dark soft locking is the better bet.  Use dragon blocking tactics.  Otherwise, you should be able to take these guys down, as they are not as tough as Magmas.  

Ghost Dragons: Ghost dragons are the easiest 7th level to deal with.  Good blocking is sufficient to take them down.    

Storm Titans/Titans: Now we get to the "trouble" stacks.  These guys will absolutely destroy your ranged stack if left alone.  If they are Storm Titans, you can range block them by Summoning spells and rushing small blocker units at them.  If they are Titans, they have a ranged special that can't be blocked (you are really unlucky if you get them).  Dark soft locking, particularly sorrow and mass slow have pretty good impact.  If you have great level 5 spells like Arcane Armor, Resurrection, or Vampirism, you can take them with your level 7 stack alone and leave your ranged units at home.  If you don't have Resurrection or Vampirism, sometimes Regeneration on your level 7s and Dark soft locking can be enough.    

Crystals/Emeralds/Red/Black Dragons: All these guys are very bad news for you.  You can use dragon blocking tactics with the Tactics perks to keep them off of you on the 1st turn.  Otherwise, you will need a powerful replenishment strategy on your level 7s like Arcane Armor + Regeneration, Resurrection + Regeneration, Vampirism, etc... Like Titans, it may be a better idea to leave your ranged at home and let your level 7s (buffed with level 5 spells) and blockers fight it out.  Crystals and Emeralds are vulnerable to Dark, so mass slow at the beginning combined with dragon blocking will slow down the damage, allowing your replenishment strategy to keep up.

Phoenix: Dealing with Phoenix is similar to dealing with Arch Angels.  They are vulnerable to good blocking because they can only attack 1 unit.  You don't want to use finishers on them because of fire shield, so just keep your ranged and hero firing away at them through the resurrection.    


Faction Notes:

Sylvan:  

Sylvan is the most powerful might faction in my opinion, primarily because of the higher than average initiative of their units.  Dryads and Elvish archers make for a very powerful start (I like to use blade dancers as blockers).  Arcanes are still OP (captain obvious).  Dryads with battle frenzy are incredible finishers.  Druids are good, but you have to split stack them to maximize lightning bolt, reducing your blocking slots, so I usually skip them while creeping.  Emeralds and Unicorns round out the roster.  Sylvan doesn't really have much trouble at any point of the game.  

Their might heroes are all ridiculous.  Ossis is crazy at all points of the game.  Wyngaal is exceptional in the end game hero battle.

Sylvan has a powerful magic game by way of the highly overpowered Druid Channeling ability (giving your hero an insane spell power boost) and abusing Pristine Unicorn's Child of Light ability.   Channeling gives Druids access to the highest spell power in the game, making their destruction heroes very, very scary.  Child of Light comes into play when spamming Resurrection, as each Ressurection regenerates your Unicorns as well, making it very difficult for your opponent to keep up.  

The spell Regeneration is extremely powerful for Sylvan creeping to the point where it is arguably unbalanced.  The reason is that their level 7's higher initiative means it takes turns faster than other level 7s, triggering the regeneration effect each turn, effectively increasing their regeneration rate relative to other level 7s.  Regerarion for Sylvan is almost as good as Vampirism, minus the undead/mechanical inflexibility of vampirism.

Sylvan's main weakness is a few end game scenarios when their Emeralds can get puppeted or their Elvish Archers get obliterated with destruction.  It comes down to a Swift Mind vs creature initiative war, and the ability for Sylvan to counter/resist spells.

Power Gamer's Corner:

If you want to feel like you 'broke the game' with the highest damage spikes possible in the end game battle, than Anwen is your man.  That doesn't necessarily mean he is the best might hero as his special doesn't really help you much in the creeping phase, and adding damage to Lucky, Avenger strikes is something of a "win more" strategy against opposing creature stack.  I still like Osis and Wyngaal more.

The build for a successful Sylvan might hero is quite simple: Get Tactics, Aura of Swiftness (and +1 speed boots if you can find them) so the majority of your units cross the battlefield in one turn.  Get +1 damage abilities like Berserking, Necklace of Bloody Claw, Nature's Wrath to make your Sprites and Wind Dancers extremely scary offensive units.  Load up on Luck, Initiative Artifacts, and pick your opponent's units as Avenger units.  On the 1st turn, you will deliver a level of hurt to your opponent's army that they likely will not recover from.


Dungeon:  

Dungeon is a very map dependent faction.  Uniquely, their primary ranged unit (Furies) are a a melee unit, which you can't totally block for (Assassins have too little growth to be effective).  This makes them a "close run thing" for every battle (kinda annoying), because you can never completely block for Furies.  Movement upgrades like Tactics/Winged Boots/Aura Swiftness are of high value so your Furies can reached opposing ranged units on their 1st turn.  

Dungeon magic heroes have the unique ability to engage in "Stalkers only" creeping, where the hero becomes the primary damage dealer while the Stalkers stay invisible.  This allows you to save all of your money and race to dragons.  

Dungeon has a major issue with their "replenishment" strategy.  They don't have easy access to Light, so it is either Tent or an all out blitz of destruction and dark spells to keep losses to a minimum.  If you get Vampirism, it is creeping easy mode.  As an Overlord, you really want War Machines->Tent bad to keep your Fury numbers up.  

Early end game, Dungeon is very effective, as destruction effectiveness can surpass creature growth at the point where you first get 4th-5th level spells and have one of the 50% spell damage artifacts.  However, you must press your advantage, as destruction scaling falls off after that.  Also, Vampiric Red Dragons, commanded by an Overlord, can be very effective stack, and one of the main reasons for playing a Dungeon might hero.  

Power Gamer's Corner:
Yrwanna stands head and shoulders above all other might heroes (sorta the dungeon version of Gorshak).  She is capable of breaking gate keeper stacks before end of week 3 as her stalkers are tremendous offensive units with a solid might build.  With Yrwanna, get Encourage and Aura of Swiftness immediately (so Furies can reach their targets first turn) and then get War Machines->Tent.  Spam Encourage to keep taking extra turns with Furies.  During the late game, get as many initiative enhancing artis as possible to maximize your Fury turns.  

Power Gamer's Corner:
Raelag is the best of the magic heroes with his hero special.  Initiative suppression gives Raelag the time to fit in those all important Dark and Destruction spells before the enemy stack can act.  Raelag is ideally suited to stalkers-only creeping, allowing you to save all your gold and resources for dragons and spells.

The most amazing thing you can do with Raelag... get Staff of the Netherworld, combine with Intimidate hero special, and land a Swift Minded Mass Slow.  Sorry opponent - you have next to no Initiative.    


Inferno:  

This faction has been improved significantly with the change to gating.  Before they used to really, really struggle with creeping.  Now, they creep fine, but they play a bit differently than other factions.  

The issue with Inferno is that they don't get Succubi in large enough numbers early game to serve as an effective ranged force, so they have to depend somewhat on gated imps and demons to do some of their damage.  Consider Battle Frenzy an absolute requirement and try to start with Necklace of the Bloody Claw.  Breaking the gatekeeper 6-7 stack often depends on your Cerebri as they are high damage and non-retaliatory, but can also be destroyed in a single hit - so be careful.  

Gating is primarily used to summon blockers and finishers.  One of the secrets to using gating properly is to have just enough in your blocking stacks so that they can gate in additional 1 unit blocking stacks i.e. 3 units in your demon stack so that they summon an additional 1 unit blocker.  This allows you to gate in tons of blockers to help you take out those gatekeeper stacks with minimal losses.

For creeping, I recommend Succubi Mistresses over Seducers as you need a good ranged force going forward, and Seducers don't act fast enough or long enough with seduce to be good against neutral stacks.  At the end game, you may want Seducers more for second puppet - just remember they have lower initiative, and you are taking away a significant offensive component from your army.  

Like Dungeon, Inferno suffers from replenishment strategy issues.  War Machines and Tent are highly desirable for the early game to reduce your delicate unit losses and assist your Succubi with ballista.  

End game you are looking at dark magic and all out blitzkrieg attack.  If your opponent has an answer to dark spells, you are kinda in trouble.  Of the heroes, I like Jezebeth a lot, as she makes succubi chain shot very dangerous.  

Power Gamer's Corner:

My pick for best might hero is Jezebeth.  Unlike other heroes that enhance creatures, Jezebeth's Succubi actually attack 4 units with chain shot, really maximizing the special.


Power Gamer's Corner:
My pick for best magic hero is Zydar, the only hero with both Windspeaker hero special and Empowered Spells (Something Jhora doesn't have).  Zydar is capable of week 3 breaks - he just has to deal with the fact that Demon units are pretty bad for spell caster support.  Use a lot of squire hero, 7 1-unit stack tactics with him so that you have time to burn things down.  I personally skip Gating with Zydar in favor of maximizing destruction spells.

A dream build unique to Inferno faction is the idea of having 2 Puppets on the battle field at once with Seduce and Puppet Master.  The main issue is that Seducers have low initiative, so to pull it off, you probably want Agreal to pump Seducer Initiative (he's kinda a bad hero otherwise)      


Dwarves:  

Dwarves have been significantly nerfed by moving Charge rune to 3rd tier and higher cost to runes.  Because of the higher costs of runes, you don't want to use them as part of your normal creeping - instead, save them for major gatekeeper battles and the end game.  Dwarves struggle a bit to creep, lacking a great ranged unit, but it is made up for by a ridiculous end game.  

My recommendation right now is to use the upgraded harpooners as your ranged force (a rather mediocre unit) and a strong dwarf blocking/finishing stack.  Again, Battle Frenzy and Necklace of the Bloody Claw is your friend here.  

When looking at Dwarven heroes, look for the ones whose special helps you get through the early game creeping phase (where Dwarves struggle).  You don't need a hero special for the end game as Runes + a standard might build is good enough, so focus on getting through the early game.  This is why I favor Karli (the Dwarf that pumps harpooners) as the best might hero.  

Dwarves possess the toughest level 7 unit, but interestingly, they are hard to use when creeping because you can not tent/regen/resurrect them.  You might be better off considering Thanes and regeneration if you have an expert light hero when creeping mid game.  If you can get the new Celestial Shield, that is ideal for your Magma Dragons.  

Dwarves have pretty easy access to light and war machines, so replenishment in combination with runes is workable.  Ethereal rune is a good early rune to use for avoiding losses.  

Of the might heroes, I like Ingvar and Karli.  None of the magic heroes are that great, but they benefit from strong units and runes.  


Academy:

Academy gets access to the premier tier 1 ranged unit in Gremlins.  Gargoyles make good, cheap, tough blockers and have magic immunity which can be used against problem stacks like druids/wizards.  Again, get Battle frenzy and Bloody Claw Necklace.  Gremlins get very powerful and Gargoyles can do surprising damage when you have both, giving them finishing capability.   Academy has a great end game as well with initiative boosting artificer artifacts.  

Academy has a powerful creeping game due to the combination of ranged gremlins, mages and titans.  Mages are nice, but not absolutely required for creeping.  Just race to Storm Titans to lock up the creeping game.  You can save money on Raks, Genies, and Golems until you really need them for the end game.  

Storm Titans work very well as combination ranged attackers/blockers.  Get Regeneration, put it on your Storm Titans, and they will both block for your Gremlins and dish out ranged damage.  Combo regeneration with arcane armor, and Titans can take neutrals on their own.  

Although Academy units are not overwhelming, their strength comes from their ability to best maximize and adapt to what the map and random skills gives them.  Library and Artifact Guild are what provide this flexibility.  The most common strategy for the end game is to load up on init artificer creature units, and soft lock your opponent with mass slow/mass haste.  Then, with the ATB bar at your command, have your way with ranged units and follow up spells.  

Power Gamer's Corner:

Havez used to be a very a powerful hero with Gremlin special.  The idea was to battle frenzy, amulet of the bloody claw, and then add init, attack, and health artifer to make your gremlins an insane, game dominating stack.  Drop a swift mind haste, and your gremlins would have 20+ initiative.    

However, artificer nerfs have toned done Havez.   He is still good, just not amazing.  


Necromancer:

Necromancers have the easiest creeping in the game... for the magic heroes.  The formula is simple: get Skeleton Archers and necro up even more Skeleton Archers.  Also, get Battle Frenzy and Necklace of the Bloody Claw.   Ghosts are epic blockers with etherealness.  Take losses? Raise dead.  Need some extra offense?  You've got spell power for destruction.  There is no doubt that Necros are fun to play because they have all the answers for creeping.  

The same can not be said for Death Knights, which like Dungeon and Inferno, struggle a bit to replenish their units.  They do have the option of going Necromancy if they don't get Tent or Summoning, but it isn't ideal.  

Necros must creep fast to win, because their units are weak compared to the competition.  Their level 7 is the worst level 7 and their level 6 is only average.  So they had better beat their opponent to the artifact stash in order to compensate with better stats.  They also don't get the benefit of morale on their troops, and their initiative is decidedly mediocre compared to opposing might factions.  

Thanks to 5.5 changes, Necros now make great destruction heroes.  So, they represent a triple threat of dark, destruction, and summoning.  This is the source of their true power in the end game.  Note that Necromancers get access to Shatter Light and the highly valuable Storm Wind perk - this allows you to get your spells off before dragons/angels/devils tear your weak units apart.  Sandro, in my opinion, is easily the best necro hero, as every point of spell power is precious to your advancement.  

Death Knights are interesting, but are somewhat behind the 8 ball due to lacking morale boosters and weak units.  They have to compensate for this with their unit's immunity to dark and using dark magic on the opposing faction.  I like Lucretia here as she makes Vampire Lords another stack your opponent needs to respect.  Ornella is a very powerful end-game hero.    

As a side note, spend your necro points on Skeletons early and Wraiths later.  Wraiths are your main end game unit, not dragons, and you get a decent return on your necro points for them.  If you have Lucretia, get vamps instead.  

Power Gamer's Corner:

Ornella's magic resistance makes her very difficult to deal with for a magic faction.  The combination of might talents, necro-immunities, and super-high magic resistance means she doesn't need shatters to virtally disable the opponent's magic strategy.  

Barbarian:

Barbarians have three core problems on Impossible... Centaurs are large sized and hard to block for, their only replenishment method is War Machines Tent, and Blood Rage damage mitigation doesn't scale against Impossible stacks,

There are solutions to these problems, but they are related to very specific talents.  First of all, get War Machines and Tent above all else - you need to maintain your Centaur numbers.  Second, tactics is good to help you arrange goblin blockers for your Centaurs.   I'd take Battle Frenzy, Retribution, and Tactics for my attack skills, which unfortunately means no Archery.  Even though Archery is attractive, you will want tactics for end game so your Cyclops can cross the battlefield in 1 turn.    

Creeping, you are going to be using Goblin Trappers and Centaurs.  Trappers slow down enemy units and provide blockers for your Centaurs.  Initial blood rage talents are valuable to pump the initiative of your Centaurs and give them damage mitigation.  

As you progress, you are going to be using a lot of Word of the Chief (both from your hero and your Chieftains) to turn your Centaur into a machine gun.  The idea is that Tent now replaces your Centaurs lost to Word of the Chief, and they fire so rapidly that you don't need to replace losses from enemy units.  

Make sure to pickup Tactics and Aura of Swiftness, as it will be very important for your units to cross the battlefield on the first turn.  End game, we have the usual Dark counter to Barbarians, so Shatter Dark is a necessity.  Angry, blood raged Cyclops and Centaur delivering huge, lucky attacks on their first turn is what wins you the game for Barbarian.  

I haven't tried Witch Doctors/Shamans, so I can only comment on the might heroes.  As far as might heroes go, I think that Gorshak is clearly the best hands down.  

Power Gamer's Corner:

Gorshak can become a devastating ranged machine gun when built correctly.  The idea is simple: get Centaurs and get Executioners for Commanding Presence and Order of the Chief.  Combine Order of the Chief and Word of the Chief to turn your Centaurs into a machine gun (assuming you have tent to replace their numbers). Replace your Centaur losses from the Chief abilities with War Machines->Tent.    

Haven:  

Haven is a dull "Timmy" town full of overly strong "stats" units.  They don't have the initiative of Sylvan, but their units make up for it in raw power.  Crossbowmen are your primary ranged unit, who can devastate high level units if they get close with their specials.  They do, however, suffer from low initiative, so you will need to block effectively for them and they are vulnerable to higher init ranged units of other factions.

One of the main strategic aspects they bring to the table is the upgraded Griffin specials forcing opposing ranged units to move/redeploy, or get hammered.  It isn't particularly useful for creeping, but it can change the nature of the end game hero battle.  

Haven's level 4, 6 and level 7 are all really strong, but they do have to watch out for Dark on Angels (they certainly have the tools to deal with it, though), and Destruction on Cavaliers.  I personally like Seraphs for creeping due to their free regeneration ability.    

I personally don't find Haven very interesting, but they are undeniably strong.  

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yogi
yogi


Promising
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of picnics
posted November 16, 2016 04:27 AM

great post
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Elvin
Elvin


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Omnipresent Hero
Tastes like chicken
posted November 16, 2016 06:42 AM

Thumbs up
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magnomagus
magnomagus


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Legendary Hero
modding wizard
posted November 16, 2016 01:10 PM

Thank you for your detailed guide, now I have something to link to when I get complaints again the game cannot be beaten on impossible
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Raenus
Raenus


Famous Hero
Grouchy curmudgeon
posted November 17, 2016 11:33 PM

Thoroughly enjoyed reading that, easily QP material in my opinion. Thank you.

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azalen
azalen


Adventuring Hero
posted November 18, 2016 05:48 AM

Thanks guys.  I was inspired by Elvin's Celestial Heavens guides.  I learned a lot reading those guides and hope to do the same for other players.  

I'll do my best to continue improving this post.  Any feedback is appreciated.    

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strigvir
strigvir


Adventuring Hero
posted November 18, 2016 07:36 AM

How do you counter Dark Magic as Dungeon/Inferno?

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azalen
azalen


Adventuring Hero
posted November 18, 2016 04:50 PM
Edited by azalen at 16:56, 18 Nov 2016.

strigvir said:
How do you counter Dark Magic as Dungeon/Inferno?


Luck->Magic Resistance->Warriors Luck.  You can also look for magic resistance boots in the artifact guild and switch up to black dragons if you are really concerned about it.  Otherwise, you counter it 1 for 1 with your own dark spells.  

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dace
dace

Tavern Dweller
posted February 24, 2017 01:40 PM
Edited by dace at 13:45, 24 Feb 2017.

azalen said:

Inferno:  

This faction has been improved significantly with the change to gating.  Before they used to really, really struggle with creeping.  Now, they creep fine, but they play a bit differently than other factions.  

The issue with Inferno is that they don't get Succubi in large enough numbers early game to serve as an effective ranged force, so they have to depend somewhat on gated imps and demons to do some of their damage.  Consider Battle Frenzy an absolute requirement and try to start with Necklace of the Bloody Claw.  Breaking the gatekeeper 6-7 stack often depends on your Cerebri as they are high damage and non-retaliatory, but can also be destroyed in a single hit - so be careful.  

Gating is primarily used to summon blockers and finishers.  One of the secrets to using gating properly is to have just enough in your blocking stacks so that they can gate in additional 1 unit blocking stacks i.e. 3 units in your demon stack so that they summon an additional 1 unit blocker.  This allows you to gate in tons of blockers to help you take out those gatekeeper stacks with minimal losses.

For creeping, I recommend Succubi Mistresses over Seducers as you need a good ranged force going forward, and Seducers don't act fast enough or long enough with seduce to be good against neutral stacks.  At the end game, you may want Seducers more for second puppet - just remember they have lower initiative, and you are taking away a significant offensive component from your army.  

Like Dungeon, Inferno suffers from replenishment strategy issues.  War Machines and Tent are highly desirable for the early game to reduce your delicate unit's losses and assist your Succubi with ballista.  

End game you are looking at dark magic and all out blitzkrieg attack.  If your opponent has an answer to dark spells, you are kinda in trouble.  Of the heroes, I like Jezebeth a lot, as she makes succubi chain shot very dangerous.  I don't particularly like Inferno as a magic town, but if you want to live the dream of 2 puppets at once, I'd probably go with Agrael to make sure your seducers get off their puppet in time.    




Hi folks, I'm looking for an optimal strategy with inferno using HOMM5.5 in impossible single player games (playing on huge random maps). Any help will be much appreciate, espacially for the 1st 3 weeks.

I forgot to say that I play with "tax mod" and disable all the capitols in the castle!


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dredknight
dredknight


Promising
Supreme Hero
disrupting the moding industry
posted September 25, 2017 08:42 AM

By impossible do you mean creature strength or game difficulty? What are those values?
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