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Heroes Community > Heroes 4 - Lands of Axeoth > Thread: Black Dragon vs. Hydras(combat map)
Thread: Black Dragon vs. Hydras(combat map)
vince
vince


Hired Hero
posted December 18, 2002 04:06 AM

Black Dragon vs. Hydras(combat map)

I've read all the talk about hydras and BDs and which are better.  Lots of good arguments and good objective metrics by which to compare them.  I've listened to The_Hydra's talk and Wub's objective creature comparisons.  After all the reading and reflection I've felt that BD's are in most cases better than hydras and I've chosen BDs in the Chaos campaign I'm playing now.  I've always had the 'impression' that BDs are stronger than Hydras.

I decided to create a very simple scenario map for testing what actually happens in combat without any help for either creature.  I made two scenario maps, one with 10 hydras vs. 5 BDs and one with 20 hydras vs. 10 BDs.  Both single stacks in both test scenarios.  I did 6 tests for each scenario.  In all 12 tests, I had the 'BD stack attack first'.  If either side got good/bad morale, I made the appropriate stack 'wait' so that each side never attacked more than once in succession.  I thought that this would be the fairest conditions.  Here are the results:

10 hydras vs. 5 BDs:

Hydras win(3 left)
Hydras win(5 left)
Hydras win(5 left)
Hydras win(1 left)
BDs win(1 left)
Hydras win(1 left)

Yes, I know what you are thinking, unbelievable.  Just wait:

20 hydras vs. 10 BDs:

Hydras win(12 left)[they MUST have been very lucky here]
Hydras win(7 left)
Hydras win(4 left)
Hydras win(3 left)
Hydras win(8 left)
Hydras win(6 left)

This was quite jaw dropping.  I had to think for a while and the only conclusion I can draw as to 'why?' is the no retaliation ability of the hydras.  I realize that BD's magic proofness is not taken into account here but no beneficial spells were helping the hydras either.  Hydra's multiple attack was not taken into account and neither was BD's flying.  However, I still felt for sure the BDs should have won most if not all these test fights.

Is there something really amiss in my tests?

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csarmi
csarmi


Supreme Hero
gets back
posted December 18, 2002 12:36 PM
Edited By: csarmi on 18 Dec 2002

First, my test results

5 Black Dragon vs 10 Hydras

1. 2 hydras left
they were extremely lucky, cause only 1 hydra died in the first attack, and the hydras got morale right after it-

2. 3 dragons left
3. 2 dragons left
4. 3 dragons left
5. 3 dragons left
6. 2 dragons left
7. 2 dragons left
8. 3 dragons left
9. 3 dragons left
10. 3 dragons left

Analysis

Black Dragons win most of the time.

They win 6 out of 10 times with about 50% of their stack strength left. (Somewhere between (3/5) and (3/5)*(3/5), see Wub's Creature Analysis topic)

They win 3 out of time with about 25% of their stack strength left. (Somewhere between (2/5) and (2/5)*(2/5))

Hydras win 1 out of 10 times, but even then, they have only about 10% of their initial strength left (somewhere between (2/10) and (2/10)*(2/10)).

The way to fight

This is a usual battle.

1. BD waits, Hydra defends. BD attacks (Hydra retals)
2. BD attacks (no retal!). Hydra attacks (no retal)
3. BD flies away. Hydra cannot follow, so defends.
4. BD waits, Hydra defends. BD attacks (Hydra retals)
4. BD attacks (no retal)...

Remarks:
(1) At turn two, if Hydras get morale, they can place a good hit (that is what happened in fight 1), and BD has to fly away.

(2) If BD's aren't play well enough, or the combat screen is very clear, then they might not be able to fly far enough. In this scenario, BD's should wait(!) in turn 3, and when Hydras hit, they do same as they did in turn 1-2.

10 Black Dragons vs 20 Hydras

Just the sequence. Black Dragons won 10 out of 10.

5,4,4,4,5,4,5,2,3,5

I guess it tells everything.
The 8th fight was the Hydras lucky day.

Some more remarks

1. These tests have nothing to do with creatures' usefulness, nor it is an objective comparison in any way. All it measures is the poor 1 vs 1 fight.

2. If we forget morale, then Hydras have no chance at all.

3. Nor Black Dragon's magic immunity and breath attack neither Hydra's multiple hits property can work this way. I guess it is fair this way. Maybe one should also try what happens if we divide both armies into 2 stacks.

4. Each player played to the best of its ability. It can be argued, but see, now waiting with the Black Dragons at the appropriate times (or not flying away, if possible) would be just stupid.

5. The examples show, that as stack sizes grow, the battles become more stable.
Also, I have the feeling that the normal result is when about 40% of the BD's survive the battle.

Note: this means that BD's are only at 25%(!) of their initial strength!


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Vince
Vince


Hired Hero
posted December 18, 2002 07:18 PM

Quote:
First, my test results

The way to fight

This is a usual battle.

1. BD waits, Hydra defends. BD attacks (Hydra retals)
2. BD attacks (no retal!). Hydra attacks (no retal)
3. BD flies away. Hydra cannot follow, so defends.
4. BD waits, Hydra defends. BD attacks (Hydra retals)
4. BD attacks (no retal)...



It looks like I don't understand retaliation completely.  My impression is you can retaliate once each combat round unless a special is involved which is why I don't understand round 2.  Why don't the Hydras retaliate?  Its the 2nd round and they haven't already retaliated for that round?  I've at times noticed this happening in my battles and can't understand why in some rounds retaliation is not possible.

There is quite a difference between our results, I'm going to do this test again just as you described and see what happens.

Oh I tried another test after this one.  I tested 9 thunderbirds against 2 BDs, they cost about the same amount which is around 16000 gold.  This test I believe is more objective than the hydra comparison.  I tested it 3 times using the stupid fighting method I used before and each time there were 5 thunderbirds left standing.  Now its quite possible that the BDs will benefit from the right way to fight(they fly 15 and TB fly 13) BUT the thunderbird's lightning strike is not helping them in this case either.  I don't know if that's a relatively fair trade off or not at this point.  Nonetheless, I was shocked again.

I agree that there is no real objective way to compare units but I guess what I'm trying to figure out is the closest we can get to objective comparing.
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csarmi
csarmi


Supreme Hero
gets back
posted December 18, 2002 08:06 PM

(1) A creature can retaliate once per action.

(2) 2 Black Dragond should be tested against 6 Thunderbirds.

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Vince
Vince


Hired Hero
posted December 18, 2002 08:47 PM

Quote:
(1) A creature can retaliate once per action.

(2) 2 Black Dragond should be tested against 6 Thunderbirds.


That retaliation explanation is still not clear.  I'm guessing an action is move or move/attack ... or does action include defend and wait?

As for (2), you are assuming that creature growth is more important than cost.  Lets look at a real game situation.  IMO, if you have units to buy but you can't buy them, then you can't use the units you can't buy.  That's why I went with 9 TBs(16200 gold) against 2 BDs(16000 gold).  If 2 evenly skilled players are squaring off and they have access to the same resources(the map is not unfair), then player A can get their 9 TBs out while player B can only get out 2 BDs.  If player B cannot accumulate more gold than A, then this particular situation will not improve for player B because his stack of BDs will not be big enough to win a straight out battle with player A's stack of TBs.

Just wanted to explain my logic.  Once again there are many ways to compare units and they all have their pros and cons.
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csarmi
csarmi


Supreme Hero
gets back
posted December 19, 2002 07:55 AM
Edited By: csarmi on 19 Dec 2002

I meant, units can retal once between these times:

1, They get their turn in turn 1
2, They get their turn in turn 2

So if unit B outwaits them and hits them twice, the second hit won't be retaliated.

About creature costs:

1, Cost does not matter at all, growth is the limiting factor in 99% of the cases.

2, The costs are done so that level4's will cost the same in each town. (and it is even true for level3's)

(Black Dragon costs 8000*1, Champions cost 2000*4, Bone Dragons cost 4000*2, Behemoths cost 2750*3, Thunderbirds cost 2200*4.5)

3, You were right anyways. I forgot about Breeding Pens.

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Wub
Wub


Responsible
Famous Hero
posted December 21, 2002 05:03 PM
Edited By: Wub on 21 Dec 2002

Direct battles and retaliation.

Hmmmm, this is an interesting thread . It's always nice to see those test results. Csarmi's results are more accurate than my test results that I posted in the chaotic strategies thread, by the way. That is because I didn't let both creature stacks fight to the best of their ability. I didn't do that because I figured that it would make the battle even more unreal compared with 'normal' combats. But his test results show that the dragons won with, on average, 4 out of 10 dragons left. It indeed is also true that the army strength that the black dragons have left is lower than their actual numbers; the black dragons have 40% of their troops left, but only 16-40% of their army strength. That means that it is a closer battle than you would suspect at first.

In his Chaotic Strategies thread, ThE_HyDrA stated that 20 hydras crush 10 black dragons. If that wasn't said in the first place, I would never have mentioned those direct battles. That is because they are even more inaccurate than you would realize at first. If I want to know if I should build black dragons or hydras, I want to know how they perform against my enemy, i.e. mostly creatures of other alignments and not how they perform against each other!
On top of that, the way of comparing creatures happens in a very lame way when you put them against each other. That is because all creature characteristics are randomly used. To illustrate this, it wouldn’t matter if the hydras had lower or the black dragons higher combat movement. It wouldn’t matter if black dragons had a speed higher than 7 or hydras a speed lower than 6. The value of no retaliation may be under- or overestimated in this battle. Fire attack is not mixed in and multiple attack neither. Magic immunity isn’t used. It probably wouldn’t matter if the hydras had an extra hitpoint, or the black dragons an extra attack point (due to the inaccuracy). Creatures may be lucky, i.e. they do significantly more damage than average. The terrain penalty and obstacles influence the battle when testing. And so on, and so on.
Saying that a direct battle is not too far off because hydras miss their multiple attack and black dragons cannot use their magic immunity and fire attack, is untrue either. Because in that case you are assuming that you know the exact value of those creature specialties. Well, the value of all those creature characteristics is exactly what we wanted to know! That is what the test is supposed to be for! If you already know the values, why test then? In other words: this method is too much flawed to use, I rather use other ways of comparing. Direct battles aren’t useless, but they are not too valid for creature comparison.

Retaliation in battle does indeed work differently in Heroes 4 than in Heroes 3. On the combat field one of the most used tricks for me is striking at the moments that a stack has lost its retaliation. To accomplish this, you must first understand how creature movement order works. This order is as follows:

Phase 1>>>Creatures that have a morale bonus go first.
Phase 2>>>Creatures without morale bonus move.
Phase 3>>>Creatures with a morale penalty move.
Phase 4>>>Creatures with a morale penalty that have waited, move.
Phase 5>>>Creatures without morale bonus that have waited, move.
Phase 6>>>Creatures with a morale bonus that have waited, move.

Within these phases, creatures with the highest speed go first of course. Now the rule of retaliation is, that creatures that have retaliated during a certain phase, may not retaliate before that same phase in the next round. I hope it becomes clear now why the hydras couldn’t retaliate against the black dragons. The black dragons attacked in phase 5 (since they waited) and in the next round they attack before phase 5, namely in phase 2. The hydras had not regained their retaliation by then, since they only would have regained it in phase 5. Because retaliation works this way, the no-retaliation ability becomes less useful than if the same retaliation rule of heroes 3 was used. Note that you can also pull this trick of when your creature speed is lower than your enemy’s. So in a battle of black dragons versus thunderbirds, the actions should be as follows if both players play to the best of their ability:

Blackies wait - thunderbirds move to middle of combat field(!!) - blackies attack, thunderbirds retaliate.

Blackies attack, no retaliation – thunderbirds wait – thunderbirds attack, blackies retaliate.

Blackies wait – thunderbirds attack, no retaliation – blackies attack.

There is more in this battle than catches the eye. If the thunderbirds hadn’t moved to the middle of the combat field, the black dragons would have flown out of range of the thunderbirds at the moment that the thunderbirds were about to gain a no-retaliation attack!

I hope you notice how creature specific this battle becomes because of this. Hence it is also impossible to make a general statement that is based on a direct battle, such as: thunderbirds are better than black dragons.

One last note, I think that if you still want to execute the direct battle of black dragons versus thunderbirds, that you should still make the ratio 1:3. I know that Might has a breeding pens and cheaper creatures, but that was originally to compensate for no magic. When you correct the creature growth and cost of thunderbirds, they will have a weekly cost of 8100; similar to black dragons.

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Vince
Vince


Hired Hero
posted December 24, 2002 07:38 PM

Quote:
Csarmi's results are more accurate than my test results that I posted in the chaotic strategies thread, by the way. That is because I didn't let both creature stacks fight to the best of their ability. I didn't do that because I figured that it would make the battle even more unreal compared with 'normal' combats.


I guess we have to ask ourselves what's normal?  IMO, I think we are talking how would it all happen in MP in which case retaliation would be used to its greatest advantage.

Quote:
Direct battles aren’t useless, but they are not too valid for creature comparison.


Yes agree.  I think the only way to get a good feel for which creatures are more useful is to play MP for a long time and then you will get a 'feel' about a unit's worth but you won't be able to quantify it exactly since it is just a feeling.

Quote:
Retaliation in battle does indeed work differently in Heroes 4 than in Heroes 3. On the combat field one of the most used tricks for me is striking at the moments that a stack has lost its retaliation. To accomplish this, you must first understand how creature movement order works. This order is as follows:

Phase 1>>>Creatures that have a morale bonus go first.
Phase 2>>>Creatures without morale bonus move.
Phase 3>>>Creatures with a morale penalty move.
Phase 4>>>Creatures with a morale penalty that have waited, move.
Phase 5>>>Creatures without morale bonus that have waited, move.
Phase 6>>>Creatures with a morale bonus that have waited, move.

Within these phases, creatures with the highest speed go first of course. Now the rule of retaliation is, that creatures that have retaliated during a certain phase, may not retaliate before that same phase in the next round. I hope it becomes clear now why the hydras couldn’t retaliate against the black dragons. The black dragons attacked in phase 5 (since they waited) and in the next round they attack before phase 5, namely in phase 2. The hydras had not regained their retaliation by then, since they only would have regained it in phase 5. Because retaliation works this way, the no-retaliation ability becomes less useful than if the same retaliation rule of heroes 3 was used. Note that you can also pull this trick of when your creature speed is lower than your enemy’s.


I'm going to try to simplify this.  Forgetting specials:

1) You can retaliate at most once per round.
2) You cannot retaliate against an attack unless you have already acted in the round first!(in other words, your first action in a round cannot be a retaliation)

When I say acted, I mean attacked, moved, waited or defended.  Is there still something I'm missing here?

Quote:
One last note, I think that if you still want to execute the direct battle of black dragons versus thunderbirds, that you should still make the ratio 1:3. I know that Might has a breeding pens and cheaper creatures, but that was originally to compensate for no magic. When you correct the creature growth and cost of thunderbirds, they will have a weekly cost of 8100; similar to black dragons.



I wasn't taking breeding pens into consideration.  I still don't get this, weekly growth of TB are 3 so the weekly cost is 5400 and BD have growth of 1 and cost of about 8000 weekly.  What did I miss here?
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csarmi
csarmi


Supreme Hero
gets back
posted December 27, 2002 08:03 PM

It doesn't matter whether you did an action in this turn or not.

Read Wub's comment again. It surprised even me.

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CzlowiekWiadro
CzlowiekWiadro


Hired Hero
Windowlicker
posted December 29, 2002 09:05 PM

I prefer Hydras

I prefer Hydras. First of all, they're certainly much funnier :-).


Hydras aren't immune to magic. Considering awesome Chaos magic   support spells, this gives you great potential. I believe no other magic has such great spells for improving your creatures' combat value.

Think about it:

Mass Slayer (Ugh)
Bloodfrenzy
Mass Haste
Mass First Strike (simply obscene)
Cat Reflexes (mad one)

Those are the spells you'd really want to see on your creatures, aren't you ? They've helped me MUCH more than any of direct damage spells. Just because of those great spells I love to have 2 sorcerers in army. Thief is far from being useless, however.
With 2 sorcerers I usually cast Mass First Strike and Mass Slayer in the first turn.This makes Dragons' life quite painful.
Then comes the time for Bloodfrenzy and Mass Misfortune, perhaps Mass Haste. Cat reflexes are perfect, especially if you can cast them quickly on whole army. After all possible creature enchantments are cast, I love to toy with Confusion.
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Wub
Wub


Responsible
Famous Hero
posted January 16, 2003 05:01 PM
Edited By: Wub on 16 Jan 2003

Comparisons through direct battles, continued

I know I'm a bit late with my answer, but hopefully I can still contribute something.

Quote:
'I guess we have to ask ourselves what's normal? IMO, I think we are talking how would it all happen in MP in which case retaliation would be used to its greatest advantage.'

I also think it is good to keep multiplayer in mind for these kind of questions. But what I meant was that it is not normal that one stack of hydras attacks one stack of black dragons. Almost always other creatures will be in the battle as well and as a result of that you will not be able to use the described battle tactics. For example, the player with the magic/shooter disadvantage cannot allow the battle to take 20 turns, so in some cases the mentioned hit and run strategies  will not be effective.

Quote:
'Yes agree. I think the only way to get a good feel for which creatures are more useful is to play MP for a long time and then you will get a 'feel' about a unit's worth but you won't be able to quantify it exactly since it is just a feeling.'

I couldn't have said it better. That's why I think that even for veteran ToH players it is useful to know something about creature comparison for the very goal of exactly quantifying the feeling you have about the units. Both experience and the ability to quantify creature value are the keys to know which unit is the best.

Quote:
'1) You can retaliate at most once per round.
2) You cannot retaliate against an attack unless you have already acted in the round first!(in other words, your first action in a round cannot be a retaliation)'

Not exactly. A better simplification would be:
You can only retaliate if you didn't make a retaliation in the previous round. So if you made your last retaliation 'halfway' round 2, you cannot make another retaliation before 'halfway' round 3. But the explanation in the post above is more exact of course.

Quote:
'I wasn't taking breeding pens into consideration. I still don't get this, weekly growth of TB are 3 so the weekly cost is 5400 and BD have growth of 1 and cost of about 8000 weekly. What did I miss here?'

I think I miss as much as you. If you know the exact game situation, you can make a better comparison. For example, if you know money is the limiting factor, you can use your method. If you know growth is the limiting factor and you know if there is a breeding pens built and/or a lord hired, you can adjust the numbers for your comparison as well. The reason why I prefer to compare 3 thunderbirds with one black dragon, is that as a specialty of the Might town, all creatures are 1/3 cheaper. As a result you can buy 50% more creatures with the same amount of money and then it isn't really surprising that Might creatures beat all other creatures in a direct fight. I find it much more interesting to compare 2 black dragons with 6 thunderbirds than 2 blackies with 9 thunderbirds. But both methods are equally valid I suppose.

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Vince
Vince


Hired Hero
posted January 16, 2003 05:53 PM

Wub, thanks for your exact explanation on retaliation, no need for simplification anymore.  It was difficult to understand at first but this game has a steep learning curve and now its second nature.

Some posters here either don't understand retaliation at all or don't want to understand.  Understanding the way it works can make a MAJOR difference in the outcome of a battle.  This is something a Black Dragon stack can really take advantage of.

Thanks for all your posts and others that have made understanding the mechanics of this game clearer.
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