How do you guys handle early game monsters at the higher difficulty levels?

By on November 20, 2013 12:56:22 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums


Join Date 04/2008

I recently bought Legendary Heroes (really enjoying it!) and I've been slowly working my way up the difficulty levels. I feel like I've conquered Hard and I'm now playing with all Expert opponents. But it seems like my biggest enemy at the moment isn't the AI--it's the darn early game monsters! On the lower difficulty levels, I had time to build up the forces I needed to battle them. But on the current level, I get overwhelmed by the AI if I don't expand fairly quickly. The problem is that it always seems like there're strong monsters hanging around the expansion areas. For example, in my last game, there was a pack of those magic resistant snake things guarding one expansion slot and a pack of undead spider guys at another. Both of them were rated "strong," and even with magic and champions, I just couldn't beat them--the snake things basically one shot my units and the spider guys take maybe 2-3 shots. Either way, they easily kill me before I can do enough damage/cast enough spells to take them down. Not only that, but the monsters seem to have a huge aggro radius and they'll chase me down if I try to get past them.  I know I can always hang around my starting city or try to go to other areas of the map until I level up some, but, like I said, the AI builds armies so fast that it'll overwhelm my forces unless I can get enough cities to start teching and creating units. 

Anyway, just wondering if some more experienced players might be able to advise me as to what I'm doing wrong. Do you have some awesome strategy for taking out strong monsters with weak to medium armies or do you just try to find somewhere else to settle, assuming there are open spots that aren't guarded?


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November 20, 2013 2:01:24 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

You have to be selective. Pay attention to the levels. Use the indicator to determine if you should fight them. If your army is "weak" then fight "weak" enemies...etc.

Wolves and bears can wreck ya.  Bandits and "roaches" (sorry drawing a blank they look like roaches from Starcraft) will do a ton of damage to your army. Mites and Darklings are free pickings. Use your sovereign to take some hits. The tactical battle is really well done the monster AI can sometimes do stupid stuff (mainly spiders) but overall it should give a decent challenge for a new player.  Try to get at least leather armor before taking on Strong armies. For starting units your miltia should be a tank and try to line up an impale, your militia bash ability is a nice opener. Try and keep your units alive

There may be army packs you don't attack until the very end game. Also early on try to make a few simple units. Honestly the basic militia can last you a while. 

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November 20, 2013 2:03:05 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

First off, spells are your best friend.  Levelling up a mage champion early while judiciously saving up mana can really help in tough fights.  I've always played as an empire with death worship so I have access to a bunch of debuffs that take the bite out critters and AI troops alike.  Casting "wither" on a group you're going to attack helps quite a bit even before the start of battle.  When in a tough fight I generally move everybody back for a few turns until my sovereign can cast "infection" (spreads all negative spell effects to everyone else in the enemy group), followed by "blindness" (reduces enemy accuracy), then "curse" (reduces enemy armor to 0), and finally "graveseal" (makes all hits on enemies critical hits).  If all four spells stick, everyone in the monster group will have trouble hitting you and you'll have a much easier time eliminating them because of their nonexistent armor and constant susceptibility to criticals.  That spell chain usually requires five turns (infection has 2 turn casting time) so if the monsters are quick i usually sacrifice someone to slow them down (that early starting spearman or militia are usually the first to go).  Something to keep in mind when casting "infection" is to cast it on a unit that has low resistance, isn't likely to die right away (or else they won't have a chance to infect everyone else), and won't kill too many of your troops by being left alive until they infect everyone else.

Actually building a few early troops helps quite a bit too.  My custom faction has access to one handed spears, and my early leather clad spearmen with earliest shields (with health, defense, and increased defense when defending traits) can take a significantly higher beating than the spearmen and militia you get at the start.

Save up any cool scrolls that you've found for the tough fights.  There's one that I don't remember the name of but it drains 3hp from EVERY enemy on the map for each level of the champion using it.  With a level 10 champion you can take off 30hp from every monster regardless their defense.  A tough fight against a fire elemental, ignuses, and a bunch of fire shrills gets a lot easier when you can kill all but the fire elemental on the first turn.

Also, early on don't be reluctant to put more than one champion in an army for a tough battle.  I generally avoid doing so because you end up loosing some experience (50% less for every champion but the first), but if a fight is really crucial it is well worth considering.

The ophidians (magic resistant snake things) are particularly tough because you can't use any magic on them and they have pretty decent defense.  It'll be a tough fight anyway you cut it.  Maybe early spearmen can do some damage to them since spears ignore a portion of defense.

Stay away from banshees if you don't have any elemental damage weapons or spells (they're immune to normal damage), and stay away from obsidian golems if your troops can't hit them hard enough to bypass their tough defense and survive a few rounds getting squished into pancakes (they're immune to magic so spells won't help).

Some other critters you have no choice but leave alone at the beginning of the game.  Drakes, dragons, tougher elementals, and that poison staff guy with an army of stalkers and najas are really tough to take on without good armor, weapons and better spells and are better left alone.  Don't walk by them with weak units to avoid setting them off near your territory OR do walk by them with weak units and try to lead them off in the AIs direction while a champion pillages their goodie hut and your pioneer puts down a city.

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November 20, 2013 3:31:36 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

What the others said: avoid the stronger monsters.

Sometimes your starting army can gain enough experience to go from weak to medium to strong by fighting opponents in the same order. But if you are not a Beastlord or Summoner, you need some luck with the available monsters to achieve this.

It also helps to know which mobs are pushovers and which should be avoided. Somewhere on this forum someone made a list of relatively weak or powerful monsters. I will give my two cents below. Mind you, this is relative strength for their power rating. Some medium mobs might be tougher than some strong mobs (Butchermen, I am looking at you!), but in general, the power rating is fairly accurate.

Weak (for their rating): Mites, ruffians, darklings (without shamans), wildlings (without hermits), skeletons, syndicate units, trolls, ogres, bears and bear cubs.

Strong: Ophidians, banshees, butchermen, drakes, fire shrills, wildling hermits, great wolves.

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November 20, 2013 7:24:56 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I agree with pretty much what everyone else said. At the start it's a balance between being quite aggressive with your main stack to level up your heroes and not being so aggressive that everyone dies. I imagine most people have a story about the time they attacked Butchermen and got absolutely annihilated. It normally makes sense to avoid groups which are stronger than yours. Even if you can beat them with use of spells and good tactics you'll probably lose units, and you want to avoid losses unless there's no other option. It normally makes sense to attack monsters which are the same threat level, but be a little bit careful; make sure you understand any special abilities they have; as previously noted: you cannot cast spells on ophidians; you need magic damage to hurt banshees; you want to be a threat level above Butchermen before attacking them and preferably with zero units that the butchermen can kill in their first turn.

I'm a bit wary of units which are the same threat level as me but have higher hitpoints. It may be fine but I want to be sure I have a plan how I'm going to beat them. That plan will generally involve spells; Death magic has good curses, Life magic has Heal. Both sides can access good summons (Skeletons/ Wraith/ Lightbringer). Air elementals are powerful. Casting Fireball with a high initiative mage and/or with -1 turn casting time can make battles against ranged troops a lot easier. Understand what the weaknesses of particular monsters are; Air Shrills and Fire Shrills are ranged units, so if you can kill them from range quickly with your own troops and spells they are a lot less dangerous. Darklings/ Ruffians and other low attack troops are a walkover if you cast Wither or have decent armour. Bears can kill units with Maul, but they're a lot less dangerous if you can reduce their accuracy by casting Blind. Wolves are a lot less dangerous if your troops have spears and can't be counter-attacked. High armour units like Earth Shrills are a lot less dangerous if you can cast Curse.

Assuming your strategy relies on casting tactical spells then save up some mana before attacking monsters. Depending on what you want to cast and what it costs, 50 mana is probably enough for a fairly hard fight. Even if you think the fight will be easy, it normally makes sense to have ten or 20 mana so you can cast a Haste or Curse or whatever and make the battle easier, meaning you take less damage.

If you're not strong enough to take on a particular group of monsters, ignore it. I believe the world generation tends to place weaker monsters near faction starting positions, so in most circumstances you should have have space to expand without taking on impossible battles. I quite often leave a Strong or Deadly stack until quite late in the game. The only thing you have to be aware of is that you don't want to get too close to the monsters, and you may need to have a plan to defend any close-by cities if mobile monsters are spawned. Boosting the garrison is a possibility, as is making sure you have a stack within three turns move so you can cast Freeze/ Tremor and then get back.

In terms of just general expansion strategy, I always make my second hero a Commander who can build roads, and I build roads wherever I go. That way, if I find a good site my Pioneer can get there very quickly. Sovereign's Call is an excellent spell for "good" factions, it massively increases your growth rate, which means you can train pioneers much more often. If you have a city which is approaching its maximum population then you might as well get it training as many Pioneers as you can actually find a use for. If you have units which cost zero maintenance then make maximum use of them, and either lower your taxation rate (increasing production and research) or if you can generate a decent gold surplus on a low taxation rate then use the gold to Rush buildings.

Sometimes you can find yourself cramped by strong monsters and AI factions. This makes the game harder, but not impossible. Concentrate on building up your cities as much as you can, build outposts to get as many resources as you can, build a small but high quality army. If the AI is building troops with strong armour then make sure you're building troops which can damage them, which means magic staff units, Heart of Fire, rings and amulets. (If you can cast Mass Curse this is much less of an issue.) At some point you will either be strong enough to attack the AI or the AI will declare war on you anyway. If the AI attacks you before you were ready it's not necessarily the end of the world. You get the benefit of strategic spells that can only be cast in your territory, so remember to use them. You also get the benefit of city garrisons if the AI attacks your cities. Early in the game the AI normally attacks with two or three stacks, and if you can kill them then it will take the AI a long time to build new ones. So if you have to fight a defensive war, don't panic, and if you can beat the initial wave of AI attackers you will probably be able to immediately go on the offensive and take the AI's cities.

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November 20, 2013 9:29:10 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Correct me if I am wrong here, but AFAIK the wild monster difficulty is a completely different setting than the AI faction difficulty.  You should be able to keep the wild monster difficulty at normal and put the AI difficulty at ridiculous or whatever.  If you do that, the main difficulty increase remains intact and you can exp as usual in the beginning of the game.

The beastlord profession is usually going to be a good choice anyway, but it's especially helpful when the enemies are 4 levels higher than they usually are.  You don't get to keep those levels when you charm the enemy, but you do still take one enemy out of the enemy stack and add it to yours which makes the battles much easier (and it's often the most powerful one).  They cost 0 upkeep so they are useful to defend your cities even if they are weak.

If you play with Ironeer blood, you get Guard Strike which is really good if you use shields and the trait to add lots to defense if you are defending.  You can just have all your units use guard strike until you figure out what the AI is attacking and then stop guard striking on everything else so the only things guard striking are the ones the AI is targeting.  I haven't seen the AI switch targets when doing this plan.

It can be really nice to have a defender hero a lot of times or just a set of really tough trained units that you go around passing turns with, even if you don't use Ironeers.  You can set that next to their powerful unit while you go around attacking the littler stuff and hopefully clear out the trash before the big one does too much damage to it.

It helps to be able to cast slow and shrink on the tough ones and the Brilliant trait is a really good one, especially if you don't intend to be a Mage.

I like to have multiple heroes in the same group, so I commonly play with Humans and make henchmen.  If you give them Air magic and make them into Commanders then you can cast devastating stuff like Slows and Shrinks with your main hero and cast Hastes and use Command from the henchmen and your main hero can take many many turns before the AI ever gets to do anything.  That can work well if you are trying to use lots of debuffs on one unit and then use the spell to make all debuffs on one unit affect the entire enemy army.

If you are going to use a lot of henchmen in your strategy, the +3 defense for your whole army trait is pretty good.  AFAIK it stacks indefinitely and it really punishes things that have many weak physical attacks.


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November 20, 2013 11:32:38 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

immune to magic snake things is obsidians, they're really tough until you have weapons with decent amount of attackpower, preferably at least boar spears upgrade from spears. Alot of stuff can die to boar spears. I even brought down a god with boar spears and an assassin


And Obsidian golem... i once got attacked by them early game where I only had spears but plenty of mana for heal spam.. took me crazy amount of turns in a single battle to bring one of them down with five spearmen and a sovereign attacking it


And then, for those times where early obsidian snakes roam around and attack you.. remember that you can get swarm bonus by having tons of soldiers surround the monster and attack it repeatedly even weak weapons will do mediocre damage. Just make sure to take soldiers that's running kinda low on health off the monster cuz they will get killed if obisidians doesn't miss with their powerful bites.


Yes, I had my starting village wiped out by butchermen once. x.x

Then my starting undead army got wiped out by.. mites :3.

After that humiliating defeat by mites, I don't underestimate anything anymore.


Try to recognize that blacksmithing technology is basically a benchmark to get in order for you to start expanding against more powerful monsters.

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November 20, 2013 11:46:43 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I design a special unit just for early game monster slaying. I call them Slayers and they are just spearmen with underdog and muscle. Well the important part is underdog. Monsters will always be higher levels so that's 3 free attack. A groups of Slayers allows you to punch way above your weight against monsters.


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November 23, 2013 8:18:36 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Stack either dodge-related trait or as above said, underdog. Rage is surprisingly good too.

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November 24, 2013 6:02:16 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

my biggest enemy at the moment isn't the AI--it's the darn early game monsters!

And what do you think controls the monsters praytell? lol

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November 24, 2013 6:21:20 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

i recommend simply playing as a beast lord.  Having direct control of those beasts will let you understand the mechanics of the game faster.  Youll have a better understanding of what to attack, and what not to attack.

have fun.

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November 25, 2013 9:53:52 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Thanks, guys! Your advice made a huge difference in my game. Really appreciate everyone who took the time to post a reply!




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