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Luna Guide by GTA_Dem
Version: 1 | Updated: 03/16/07
Luna, the Self-Reliant: A Heroes of Might and Magic III guide by Dan Sayers -Requirements You must have a version of Heroes of Might and Magic III (HOMM3) that is with the Armageddon's Blade expansion or beyond as the original game (Restoration of Erathia) did not have Conflux as a city, and therefore, no Luna the Elementalist. -Preface In any RPG style game, I've always favored magic over might. In HOMM3, this has often meant a very black or white experience; Either I find myself wailing on my opponents without opposition, or I find myself playing paper dolls to some might hero. It has always been enough to question whether or not HOMM3 was imbalanced. I've always enjoyed the random map generator. Yes, I realize that HOMM3 players regard that as being child's play, but I think it's a great way to learn strategy. Only problem is that the replaceability of each map left my skill level always something to be desired as I subconsciously never took any such map too seriously. Still, I played on, for many years now, studying the game and its seemingly endless mechanics. Enough about me and onto our purpose here. Recently, I returned to the well as it was and decided to enhance my experience with strategies of others. While reading gamefaqs.com's "forums," I kept reading that the Conflux was broken. That it is to say that it is imbalanced and to the positive. Conflux has always been one of my favorite cities thanks to my predilection to magics. Yet I had experienced it to be any better than say the Castle. Of course, my skills have always been lacking. So I set out to find out how / why it was broken. The issue regarded the most was Conflux's double creature production for the 7th level: The Firebird / Phoenix. So I figured I'd start under the premise that building towards a Pyre straightaway, instead of my usual aiming for Capitol first was paramount. I've had a great deal of success in my short time, and I owe a large part of that to Luna the Elementalist, one of Conflux's available starting magic heroes. Before when I played Conflux, I would choose Ciele. Starting off with a Magic Arrow that does 150% normal damage was a nice compliment to the Sprites' nine (ten) mobility with no retaliation. However, by comparison, she is no match for Luna's more widespread and influencial Fire Wall (FW). As such, this guide is first and foremost an eploitative... er... explorative ;-) guide on Luna's seemingly undocumented self-reliance. To whet your appetite, we're talking taking out lots of Mighty Gorgons third week with a few dozen Sprites and no losses. Knocing off a Dwarven Hold with only a few dozen Pixies and no losses. In fact, Luna remains self-reliant throughout the game, with a few limitations, with 99% of the battles leading to no losses, all with everything she started off with and little more. Secondly, the guide serves as a diagram on how to abuse the Conflux's brokenness; Something I now understand to be self-evident and why. As such, it is primarily a guide for "beginners." That is to say people who, like me, aren't what you'd call GOOD HOMM3 players. Of course experienced player who never gave FW a second look might also get a giggle out of how sick it really can be. Finally, this guide is intended for skirmishes in which you won't see the enemy on your doorstep in the first ten days or so. If you expect to, the part of the guide directed towards outlining Luna's undocumented imbalance remains intact. Only how to proceed in the early game will be different. Luna is literally self-reliant. She doesn't need help from anybody. Why? FW. Not just FW, but Luna's special ability that doubles the effectiveness of FW. FW is a spell that I feel to be highly underrated. It has its drawbacks. For example, creatures with immunity to fire or level two spells will not feel the effects of FW. Similarly, Golems still reduce the damage from it. Another "drawback" is that it cannot target a creature. Which in the case of Dwarves and Unicorns, will actually be a good thing. Plus as we'll see through the course of the guide, the fact that you do not choose a target only begins to unlock its true power :-) -Getting started Go ahead and choose what color to play, Conflux as your city, Luna as your hero, and mercury as your bonus. I like to play on the Hard difficulty, as it is the closest to a fair fight as there is (though I REALLY wish there was a pure fair fight option). If you choose to play on Hard or worse, choosing mercury as your starting bonus is a must. On Hard, it will sometimes give you the 12 mercury you'll need right away. If not, it gets you closer. Anybody playing Conflux knows that there's no such thing as too much mercury. If you choose to forego selecting mercury, gold is the next logical follow up. Still, it should be noted that this guide is written under the assumption that you're playing on Hard. It can be applied to other difficulties, except resource amounts and therefore strategies will be altered accordingly. -Luna / FW I should probably start by cover how FW damage is assessed even though magic guides out there cover this. Take Luna's power rating. If she has Expert Fire Magic, add five to it. Or if she has Advanced Fire Magic (AFM), add two to it. Otherwise, add one to it for the Basic Fire Magic (BFM) she begins with. Now multiply it by 20. That's ten because that's how everybody's FW does. Doubled because this is Luna :-) So she starts off with three power and BFM. That's a FW of 3+1 multiplied by 20. In other words, 80 damage to any creature passing through / landing on it that doesn't have an immunity to it or damage reduction built in (Golems). From the get go, she does 80 damage with her FW. Since the 1st level creature with the most HP has ten HP, that means there could be as many as eight per stack. Since larger armies will divvy up into seven stacks, that's as many as 56 Centaurs or Pikemen you will be able to take out with a single FW, providing you can get them all to walk through it with only one casting and despite its base two hex inadequacy. Goblins have half the HP, so you could take on twice as many. Your Pixies on native terrain or Sprites regardless will be faster, so you can make two FWs before you let them reach you. And so on. Gaining one power will add 20 more damage. Beginning to see how this will play out? ;-) And if you should happen to find the Orb of Tempestuous Fire (I did once), the 50% is applied AFTER Luna's bonus, effectively tripling FW's damage :-D Luna's not impervious however. As you venture, there are things to ALWAYS keep in mind... First things first, only roll with a single stack of creature (stated as "creature" throughout the guide to drive this point home). Either Pixies if you must based on the limitation listed below* or Sprites if you can. Having a single stack and of a weak crature in low numbers will cause almost all battles to be against an enemy that is split up, effectively multiplying FW's effect. This is the key to this strategy as it, along with Luna's double FW specialty, will allow you to tackle creatures way ahead of schedule. Secondly, you will be racing to AFM. This race takes a back seat to your race for gold in most cases, so choose gold from treasure chests unless you're certain your cash goals are on schedule. Once you achieve AFM, FW will appear as a three-hex cage instead of two, making it far more reliable with our strategy. When I say race to AFM, that means skip other useful secondary skills when you level up. Luna starts with Basic Wisdom and BFM. Heed my words and this means you are guaranteed to have AFM by your 3rd leveling up. The only exceptions MIGHT be Logistics, Intelligence, POSSIBLY WM (for Forgetfulness), and MAYBE Mysticism if you find Luna's six MP a pop strategy to be too dependent on magic recharging. Though you're really better off just getting used to recharging her as needed and holding off on WM until after you have AFM. After all, the Conflux will allow you to buy it. Somewhat hefty price tag, sure, but this strategy becomes almost perfect once you get AFM's three-hex influence. Third, race for the Power primary skill. This will evolve naturally, but never pass up a Star Axis. Once your money situation is under control (Capitol built), always hit the Schools of Magic and always choose Power. Because of Luna's specialty of double FW, each point you select makes it 20 more powerful, as well as benefitting other spells you'll use in the end game. The faster you gain massive Power, the sooner Luna's few dozen Pixies / Sprites will be enough to take on Fight Clubs (FCs) single-handedly. A necessary boost in gold. Fourth, ALWAYS visit 3rd level Shrine of Magic Thought (white) until you have Forgetfulness in your magic book. Likewise, don't miss out on getting Water Magic (WM) as a secondary skill as soon as possible from leveling up. Later in the game, if you haven't learned it yet naturally, get it from the Conflux's Magic University (MU). The idea is to build it up to Expert Water Magic (EWM) level. Once you do, Forgetfulness will turn most all archer classes into non-archer classes. Until you have the combo of EWM and Forgetfulness, do not fight archer classes. Fifth, and this is more of an extension of the fourth point, do not fight Gremlins, Air Elementals (AEs), Water Elementals, or Giants until you have some form of direct damage (DD) such as Magic Arrow. This is because Gremlins might contain Master Gremlins (MGrems), AEs might contain Storm Elementals (SMs), WEs might contain Ice Elementals (IEs), and Giants might contain Titans. Because you are rolling with one creature stack, the enemy will be split into seven almost always. This means that even if an archer should appear from a non-archer fight, it will be one stack and small in number. DD should deal with MGrems, SEs, and IEs well enough. Keep in mind that SEs take double damage from Lightning Bolt, but IEs are immune to Ice Bolt. With your amassing of Power, DD MIGHT be able to take down Titans bourne from Giants well enough. The thing to keep in mind is that SEs, IEs, and Titans (and Liches, though they always appear as archers) are immune to Blind, Hypnotize, and Forgetfulness. So it's either DD strong enough to take them or you have to avoid them with Luna. Sixth, take care with flying enemies. Never pick a fight with a flying enemy until you have AFM. If you must, make sure you're carrying Sprites and that it is a flying creature that is slower than Sprites. Reason being is that if you're faster than them, you can wait first turn, move after them, at the start of your second turn cast FW in the bottom right corner and then use your movement to hole up in that corner. Otherwise, you are taking a risk that the terrain of the battlefield will be accomodating. Possible, but not likely until you can cast a three-hex FW. If they're slow enough (even if they're Pixies and you have Sprites), you can risk them getting a morale bonus first turn by casting one FW along the left edge of the battlefield. Then on turn two, cast another one where the bottom of it would plug the gap that the AFM's 3rd hex would cover. You'll have to cast an FW for every turn, but it will be a way to fight fliers if you must. Seventh, when fighting creatres that are two stacks wide (including fliers, but not archers), cast the FW and / or move in a manner that will leave a one hex gap between your creature and the FW. If you are up against the FW, enemies will not move forward until the FW has expired unless they have enough mobility to move entirely through the wall to attack your creature. Plus, if they are robust enough to survive the wall, they will actually be hit by it a second time as they drag their tail end through it (does not apply to fliers obviously). The only exception to this one hex gap rule against double width creatures oddly enough is that once you have cast the FW and moved one hex away, if on the next turn, you cast FW again to fill in the gap, essentially putting you against the wall now, somehow that's inviting enough for them. Don't worry though, even double width creatures approaching your double FW from above or below WILL be hit by both walls before they're able to do damage :-) The only other time I've seen enemies refuse to step forward is when they're faster than you. The ONLY time I've seen this happen in a non double width creature is against Hobgoblins on their home terrain while I had Pixies. Still, leaving a one hex gap makes it more inviting to them. Eighth, this a lossless strategy. There may be some times when you have to lose SOME of your creature. Having Sprites instead of Pixies helps avoid this, but is not guaranteed. The point being that you will still need to play smart and select your movement and location of FW based on your enemy's speed and the terrain you're on. Use the terraing to your advantage. Since you will play Luna the entire game with a single stack of creature, enemies will almost always split up into seven stacks. This is great since we are using a FW that everybody must pass through / land on because it means individual stacks will have lower HP counts overall. However, it means that when fighting slower creatures (especially Dwarves and Walking Dead / Zombies) will trip over themselves, taking longer to reach you. Remember, FW only lasts two rounds regardless. Playing smart will reduce the number of times you have to cast FW in a single battle. I've found that the upper battlefield keeps creature self-tripping to a minimum. Part of playing smart in this regard includes never picking a fight with Pit LORDS. As soon as any one stack dies, another will resurrect it and the resultant Demon stack will be able to attack you before the FW damages it. You may still pick a fight with Pit FIENDS. Just keep in mind that if a Pit Lord stack is present, he MUST be the first to die, whether by singling him out with DD like with archers or simply playing smart in a manner that ensures he will be the first to die. Since he will be faster that his Fiend buddies, simply casting the FW first turn and then moving to a place where he could reach you first thing, his superior mobility and aspiration of slaughtering Pixies / Sprites will cause him to take a dive. Ninth, open field combat. Most of the time, you will find yourself using the terrain to make a tube with a fiery hole that everybody must kill themselves with... er... pass through to reach you. Or holeing yourself up against the edge of the map and using FW and AFM to completely cage yourself in. However some times (and this usually appears with slower enemies) you'll need to station yourself in an open field area of the board to ensure the maximum number of stacks perish per FW. If you do, there is one thing to keep in mind. If an enemy stack is currently on a row beneath or above the FW and could manage to attack you from behind (based on its movement), it usually will by using most of its mobility to move forward, with his last hex of movement to be to close in on you just behind the FW. To avoid this, sometimes you might need to count out their mobility to make sure that their last hex of movement is spent closing in on you ON the FW. Tenth, FCs. This means places where you attack and are surrounded by creatures, such as a Dwarven Hold (though not a Dragon Utopia (DU) as they are too fast and impervious to FW anyways, nor Pyramids as Golems are just too resistant to magic damage). Land on it and decline to enter (same with all FCs). Now right click on it and it will give you an idea of what's inside. In terms of the Crypt, be sure you can handle possible Vampires as sometimes they will have five, which have 150 HP altogether or ten which have 300. Even Wights can appear as many as ten deep, for 180 HP; All of which is a tall order for a single FW (in the beginning). Crypts are FC buildings with the largest swings in terms of what types of creatures you will face. The others become a sheer numbers game. With the exception of Familiars and Naga Queens, Pixies are faster than any creature you will meet in them. Just be mindful of the terrain bonus for home creatures. In other words, don't take on a Naga Bank on snow if you're only rocking Pixies. Or Familiars on lava ground. Sprites are faster than all of them, so you will always have first move. Only attack them if you have AFM and a single FW hit will kill any given stack inside. In the beginning, these are offlimits. Even as early as the end of week one though, she will be able to take on most Imp Crucibles and some Crypts. Later on, you will take on entire Naga Banks without breaking a sweat. For only a few dozen Pixies / Sprites, this is quite an abuse... er... accomplishment ;-). Finally, until you have a Pyre built and Firebirds actively deployed (by a different hero), Luna will be your primary fighting force. Throughtout the game, she is NOT a skirmish fighter. Don't be taking her up against other heroes. Their magic alone will cut you down possibly to fatality. Luna is not imperative to victory, though she is a rather indisposable free ticket around the world. Sure she can take cities that have no wall or only a wall (no towers). But if a hero's present, they can use DD to threaten your creature even if they don't have archers. If you have a DD spell and find a hero traveling with a lone stack of something slower than what you have, kill it. Otherwise, you might want to avoid them altogether. If at any time, you need a free ride home to pick up new spells for example or just to recharge overnight, hit them up (if your creature is faster than theirs) and buy your way out of the fight. This is one time where carrying "only" such paper dolls is a big advantage as it will be next to free (excepting of course the 2500 to rehire her). Or just run away as you can pick up more Pixies / Sprites at home. Just be wary of the Shackles of War. If you inherit them or your opponent has them, you will have to duke it out to the death. As for cities, mostly off limits. If they're uninhabited, take them. If they so much as have a wall, forget it. The AI will not leave the wall to hit your FW. IF you can get behind the wall and into the corner, you might be able to hole up there. But the shape of their wall and the shape of even a three-hex FW, along with the face that you can't use the drawbridge hex and they can means that unless you can find a home in the corners, you won't win a walled fight. Which of course if there's towers present, they will dice you up regardless. Not good. Those squeamish about carrying just Pixies / Sprites so late in the game CAN use Magic Elementals (MEs). Not Psychic Elementals (PEs) though. See, one of the reasons Pixies / Sprites work so well isn't just their mobility and cheapness. But also their ability to fly. Which allows you to cast your FW first and then fly over it to move behind it. Well an ME's immunity to magic means he can walk right through it. PEs don't enjoy that benefit. This may seem like a lot, but most of it combat aspects that you would figure out on your own through experience. I only mention it to provide a shortcut so you won't have to. The key points are to use one stack of creature, race to AFM, seek out Forgetfulness as it allows you to attack archers once you have EWM, and always go for Power if it's available. Keep all these points in mind and play smart and you will be amazed at what comes next. I've taken down Naga Banks with a few dozen Pixies / Sprites with no losses. The exceptions are few and if you avoid them while keeping Luna's magic points (MP) charged, you will essentially be not only invincible, but able to take down substantially stronger creatures much earlier than you'd normally be able to. -First gear Week one is going to be a race for gold first, ore second, and wood last, but still important. The road to Pyre is a tremendous need for ore and gold, a conspicuous need for wood, and a minor need for mercury. Hire one additional hero on day one. It does NOT have to be the hero from your city as it would be in other strategies! Go with a resource / gold hero if you're fortunate enough to have one. Otherwise, heroes with logistics or scouting for example are natural next in lines. If nobody special is around, you might as well go with your city's hero. Keep in mind that whatever you choose, this MIGHT be the hero you end up playing from the start of week two. It all depends on how well you do week one in terms of finding gold. *As for what to build day one, that depends. If you were fortunate enough to start day one with an Altar of Air (AOA), build the Upgraded Magic Lantern (UML). With your off hero having a Sprite instead of whatever else they had, they will be able to cover more ground. Same is true for Luna, plus she'll have a more effective backup fight plan in the event that she does need to fight. Not only a backup fight plan, but in some instances, this will allow you to fight lesser and slower creatures instead of having to rely only on FW (only true for the first week or two, but still). Otherwise, build the Mage Guild (MG), where Luna will likely benefit from the Magic Arrow being added to her spell book. Why would that be a plus? In case you pick a fight with Gremlins and some MGrems are present for example. Either way, give one of your Pixies / Sprites to your off hero with the rest going to Luna (no need to buy any, just what came with your heroes). The two of them will have maximum mobility available to them at this point and be perfectly effective despite not having spent a dime on new creatures :-) Now you have two heroes and one primary goal: gold. Of course you will want to also flag your wood and ore mine. Your off hero is free to deviate from these goals and pick up other resources and such. Luna should stick mostly to picking fights that would either open doors to more territory or directly benefit by getting gold, a campfire, or a treasure chest. From which you should always choose gold unless your money situation is REALLY under control and you don't yet have AFM. Keep an eye on your ore and wood throughout the week, making sure you either have or will have enough to build Pyre by the end of the week. If you're running into trouble, don't be afraid to have Luna pick a fight that would lead to wood or ore (or mercury) if you're hurting for it. Even if you have enough gold to do build a Pyre by the end of the week, keep seeking gold. Luna may also deviate from a "direct" path to grab experience and / or FREE power (Star Axis). MAYBE a School of Magic if you can afford to, though those are best left for third gear. Do not have Luna deviate if this will detract her from getting enough gold to build a Pyre by day seven. Remember that for the most part, you're watching for ore, gold, and wood. Mercury you will only need 12 of by the to build the Altar of Thought and Pyre. Of course there's never enough mercury, so if you can justify it, pick that up too. If you're playing a water map and can find a shipyard almost immediately, do not hesitate to purchase a third hero. The seas are rich with wood, gold, and treasure, much of which is free for the taking to the early bird. This hero will easily pay for both himself and the expense of a boat in no time, while providing valuable info about what's out there and/or who's coming and when. But only if you can do it EARLY, like actually setting sail on day two or three. On day two, build your MG if you built the UML on day one. Or if you built MG day one, then build the AOA on day two. Either way, you will be building the Altar of Water on day three and your creature dwellings in succession until you build your Pyre on day seven. -Second gear You've got Luna abusing the natural order by picking fights far too great for any normal hero at this point and now you have four Firebirds (FFBs) to buy and the game hasn't even begun yet! Your goal for week two is to build your Capitol. You accomplish this of course by continuing on the course from week one, having your off hero collecting free resources, Luna using her abusiveness to take down lesser creatures. You will add to that by hiring another hero and all FFBs. This requires 8500 gold. A pretty tall order considering that day seven of week one, you shelled out 10000 and have yet to build towards gold production. This is why it is important that week one is spent collecting as much gold as possible. IF during week one, it looks as if you won't have the gold, start your off hero back to the city to hire Firebirds on day one. If you cannot afford all four that day, hold off on departing. Still buy one if you can so that you will start the next day with extra mobility. Do not build anything else until you have all four bought and off making an influence in the world. You can deviate from this rule for your Town Hall. Just keep in mind you're shelling out 2500 to double your daily cash intake. It will take five days to pay for itself, so only do it if you won't be able to set out for five days. Which of course would mean your off hero is off grabbing more stuff instead of sitting home, waiting for Saturday to get here. If you can buy a third hero for the commanding of Firebirds (your FFB hero), what you choose is yours to decide. I try to make sure its a magic hero because I've seen the influence these guys can wield later in the game. Of course the reason Firebird production is doubled compared to other 7th level creatures is because Firebirds are paper dolls compared to other 7th level creatures. And since you're setting out with just Firebirds, I can certainly see why somebody would choose a might hero for them. It's mostly up to you, but this guide is written for magic heroes. If you have the cash after buying a new hero and FFBs, you might want to consider using day one of week two to buy a 2nd level MG. Blind can be a real tide turner for your FFB hero and Lightning Bolt or Ice Bolt can help tip the scales. Hell, even Quicksand can help steer the path of a marginal battle, though randomly. Since gold is your FFB's main goal also, he should be partaking of tasks Luna is unfit for. Medusa Stores are a perfect example. Or random treasures guarded by archer types. For the most part, keep all FFBs in single stack is what I've found works best. If you're going up against a Medusa stores, perhaps two stacks of two would be better. You can use their first turn attacking the two leftmost stacks with some spell reducing the effectiveness of one of the right Medusas (if they're large enough to warrant such help). Just be careful of getting stoned. If you have the Cure spell, you have less to worry about. Sure Dispel can rescue you too, but Cure heals as well and will also be a benefit to the FFB hero. For this reason, you should see to it that they pick up a First Aid Tent if possible. Though obviously that will not be a factor in FC battles. Building in week two is for gold production only. You can take a break for the 2nd level MG if your FFB hero needs it or you want to provide it for Luna (if she needs to return already). Otherwise, your build order will be Town Hall, Marketplace, Blacksmith, City Hall, Citadel, Castle, Capitol. If you cannot build any step, fine. Don't build anything. Wait and save, regardless of how long it takes. Luna can tear up the track with just what she set out with and your FFB hero can equally hold their own, even against some lesser developed cities. If you see mines, take them. The daily resource production is imperative, especially if you plan on leaning on magic at all. Luna should be able to settle these, unless they're guarded by a creature she's not supposed to take on yet. -Third gear Starting with week three (once your Capitol is built), the game becomes more what you would normally play and less guide-specific. Feel free to hire another hero and give them this week's FFBs. Or if the map is limiting your expansion, taxiing them out to your existing FFB hero is perfectly acceptable. Just be sure to take along a Pixie / Sprite to retain once you make the transfer. Or if the map is rich with resources and your existing two / three heroes aren't doing well in collecting it all, hire another hero or three as need dictates. Focusing still on resource heroes first and Scouting and such second. If you have a 2nd level MG built and can hire a hero with Scholar, it's a good way of bringing the spells to Luna, assuming she hasn't returned. Which by the way, if you find another city, Magic Well (MW), or are just getting lucky with only casting one FW per battler and/or otherwise regenerating MP in a timely fashion, you will never need Luna to return home except to pick up new spells, which she MOSTLY won't need anyways, or possibly magics from the MU. Regardless of what you do, a Resource Silo should be first on your list. Since the first two gears saw us collecting money like it was going out of style, the 5000 should be of no issue. Sure it might look like you have enough mercury today, but between the Pyre, the Upgraded Pyre, paying for the Phoenix upgrades, the MG's, the other creature dwelling upgrades, etc, the Conflux has a lot of mercury in the fine print. Imp Caches will help with this. Luna should be knocking these off and any other FC she can handle, which should be the source of plenty of gold to part with 5000 for the timely production of mercury. If you can afford to, building the creature dwelling upgrades are an option as you will need them eventually. For it is written: Man cannot live by Luna and Firebirds alone :-P Another thing to consider is building the MU. In Luna's race to AFM, she may have voluntarily passed up another school of magic. Luna needs them all really. Water for Forgetfulness, Earth for Town Portal (TP) or Resurrection (and possibly Meteor Shower and/or Implosion if they will do a better/faster job than FW in some battles), and Air for Fly and Dimension Door (DDoor) (and possibly Destroy Undead, Hypnotize, and Chain Lightning if they would be more effective in a given battle). If you play like I do, you'll want all schools for all your heroes and this is a great (though minorly expensive) way to get them without having to "waste" a level up on it. Then your level ups can be used for Logistics, Intelligence, or upgrading the magics. Which your heroes that will be engaging other heroes can also benefit from mass Slow, Expert Berserk (highly underrated for battles against heroes with many stacks as it doesn't just distract entire stacks and several of them, but also robs your opponent of the ability to cast spells if you've inspired all his troops). -Fourth gear Fourth gear is actually cruise control. Most of your heroes are doing well on their own with the bare minimum. You're taking over cities. If they're in a reserved position, you're developing them for gold production first, then creature development, taking care to only upgrade the creature dwellings you'll actually benefit from paying for. In the beginning, I like to build the MG right away so the conquering hero can learn new spells and possibly even recharge after a well traveled journey to find the city. Or partaking of the city's benefit such as Inferno's +1 Power or Dungeon's Mana Vortex (DMV) to instantly heal and double the hero's MP. If city is in a precarious position, you should either develop it for gold only or creature production right away as you are uncertain how quickly that city will be called upon to defend itself. If it's certain to change hands a few times, you may want to hold off altogether and just benefit from the base gold flow. Only circumstances will provide the accurate answer for any given city at a given time. if you ARE going to use it to produce creatures, don't be afraid to to go all the way. Like FFB's, some 7th levels are incredibly self-reliant. Archangels in decent numbers and split into two stacks can make any level one hero a DU toppler. Devils have great mobility with no retaliation, a winning combination for battles with no losses. Obviously the key to the whole idea of starting off with just Luna is to conquer the world with minimal investment. So such 7th level creatures are a great way for heroes coming out of that city to develop the nearby land, allowing your now seasoned battlers to go off gaining new territories. Don't forget that throughout all of this, Luna is out of control. There's no end to the stories I could tell of ridiculously imbalanced fights going to the clear loser, Luna, simply because of FW and the intelligent use thereof. You will at some point during fourth gear come to find that your meager creature compliments aren't cutting it. Luckily you've been aiming at gold all game, have had Luna toppling any FC she can manage, and slowly building up creature dwellings. Depending on the cities you've taken, you might find better company there. However, the Conflux does just fine at helping you out, even if your aspirations include well-guarded cities. ESPECIALLY if you've been developing your magics. Phoenixes are a no brainer. The no retaliation of Magic Elementals and Sprites are great, with the Sprites' flying and fodder status adding to even a siege. SEs' nad IEs' archer status make them great even during the first round of a siege. Energy Elementals' flying status make them a great adition. Buy all these (you can probably afford it) and you should be able to compliment them with great magic and take most any city, even with minimal losses. Sure you can take Magma Elementals too, but their bulk and speed make them better for emergency home defense. Up to you. -Fifth gear You will not know when you've reached fifth gear until you are well into it. Reason being is that you won't be sure that the domination you're exuding is inpenitrable. For me, it's mostly the possession of certain spells. Resurrection can turn even a FFB hero until a nearly unlimited killing machine, so long as you have at least Advanced Earth Magic (AEM) and the MP for it. One map, Labetha was my week two FFB hero. She comes with Earth Magic and was up to AEM in no time. She found a scroll that had Resurrection and in week four, she used 12 Phoenixes to topple a DU single handedly in week four. If you've ever conquered one, you'll know that the money you earn will pay for all of your losses and much of what remains. Plus the artifacts can be real game tippers, including Angel Wings, Spellbinder's Hat, Book of Earth Magic, etc (random and class based on population of the DU). As stated, Berserk is a great way to rob an army of one particular stack. Or if your Fire Magic is developed, more than one stack. Expert give you a sphere of influence that can easily snag 3-4 enemy stacks. This is importan because like a Blind or Hypnotize, it robs the enemy of use of an entire stack. It also caused them to hurt each other. Which brings them closer together (if they're not archers), setting them up for a Meteor Shower if you'd like. Or just keeping them as ripe candidates for re-Berserking. In fact, that's the spell's only downside: Once a creature stack makes a Berserked attack, they're no longer under the influence. Still, if you should happen to catch the enemy's fastest or most critical stacks, you can essentially use your entire army against a fraction of theirs. Careful though as not all creatures are effected. Creatures immune to fire OR mind magic won't be influenced, neither will elementals or undead. Also, fate can sometimes intervene. Once a Berserked Basilisk attacked, which cured him, he then got a morale bonus and attacked my guys. Which wouldn't have been so bad except that BEFORE he moved, HE was the closest creatures to the opponent's Mighty Gorgons. Now my creatures were and I don't have to tell you what an annoyance a succesful death stare is. If you can learn TP, you only need to be near a city you'd like to go to and you can warp there. Of if you have AEM, you can choose cities and your options open dramatically. Like not having to worry as much about your cities being encroached by the enemy. It also makes ANY city, even one you don't plan to develop a jump point. At which point even lesser heroes sacrificing entire compliments to take a city can be a real backstage pass for your leading conquerors. Or how about conquerors that can overextend themselves. With TP and AEM, each new week, you can warp home, grab more creatures, warp to a Castle you've taken over to grab the Stables mobility upgrade again, warp to a Dungeon to replenish ALL of your MP, including that which you're "wasting" on this little recharge, but doubled. Finally, warp back to the last city you conquered to continue your legacy new and improved, with little loss of the day's mobility. Fly can help you cross into territory you didn't have access to. It will cut your main heroes off from scouts/squires that could follow them, making them more duty heavy and vulnerable. But can be a real impbalancer if you're first to knock down a Naga Bank or pick up a helpful artifact. Or the pinnacle: Taking on new cities. It's not hard to sneak attack an opponent that was sure you couldn't even reach him. Or how about DDoor? Your ability to just pop up elsewhere can do things fly cannot, such as getting around underground, and at a fraction of the mobility cost per distance. The potential of DDoor is enough to make sure EVERYBODY gets Air Magic (AM) and levels it up as high as possible. Each level of AM gives you another dimension door per day, with Expert giving you four a day! This can be upwards of 80 MP a day, but it can sometimes be a real game course turner. Just be sure you pick up Intelligence, warp near MWs, and partake of DMVs. With Expert AM, View Air will even tell you where cities and heroes are in areas you can't even see yet! Combined with DDoor, you can make some serious lunges to other parts of the world in no time. And if you have TP and AEM, you can use TP to compensate for this overextension, making you a veritable god. Even Water Walk can be a dramatic accelerant to mobility. Not just the ability to walk from one land mass to another across water, but in getting rid of the mobility killer of boarding and disembarking a boat. Implosion needs no introduction. Later in the game, creature stacks get out of control for enemies that have fared well. And don't forget that all Dragons other than Black are susceptible too! Armageddon can turn any lowly hero into a besieger. Especially hailing from a town that has two creatures that can withstand it no problem. Of course, I recommend using Firebird / Phoenixes simply because they can take tower fire better as well as better execute enemies with a similar immunity. Grab all the Power you can to make sure anything you do is a Mike Tyson one-rounder ;-) Maybe it's just me, but an entirely overrated spell is ANY Elemental spell. If you have Expert in that school of magic, you will create your Power times FOUR of whatever Elemental that is. Imagine the ability to summon 40 or more Earth Elementals each turn. This has many benefits, even if its just WEs. I've used this to distract Dragons in a Utopia while my Phoenixes wrecked house unanswered. Once, Luna snuck into an unguarded city. The computer THOUGHT I couldn't reach him, but Luna chopped down lots of Minotaur Kings without effort, waltzing into the unguarded Castle. He was there the next day to take it back. Think he won? Sure I could've bought all of his creatures, but why? As long as I had enough natural creatures to survive the battle, dropping 60+ WEs a turn made sure he didn't have the time to kill them all. And since I was camped in a city with a MG built, it was free :-) To add insult to injury, one of my conquerors had been using his couple weeks of FFBs to take on Griffin Conservatories. Now that I had my own castle, I was able to upgrade them and he became an Archangel wielding DU toppler while the Firebirds got upgraded and went to my other conqueror. All a direct result of Luna's ability to overcome tremendous odds AND thanks to the effectiveness of an Elemental spell. Or how about my 3rd level Gelare, who had just found a Fire Elemental (FE) scroll taking on a Naga Bank with 6 per stack. He had just enough Firebirds to kill each stack in one hit, but the other stacks attacking would've spelled heavy losses. Plus he didn't even have Fire Magic, or enough MP to cast FE more than once. No matter. Careful movement selections found all but one time the Nagas chasing after the FE. And the time one stack DID attack the Firebirds, they only did 99 damage. I went in a severe underdog and won 12000 gold simply because of ONE well placed casting of FE. Whether it be distraction or borrowed power, the Elemental spells are underrated and a fine alternative to other influencial 5th level spells. -Sixth gear Sixth gear is merely fifth gear with the actual observation/realization that you're there. In sixth gear, you can literally put all but one or two of your heroes to sleep and stop concerning yourself with city development. Simply take each day to DDoor around, take a new city, camp there to regenerate, TP around to gain supplies, repeata. Once you've reached sixth gear, the end of the game with you as a victor is roughly a day away per city you do not yet have. A few more for the out of the way ones and the random spanking of enemy heroes. If you have two people versed in such magics, using one to seize cities and one to lay waste to haphazard enemy heroes, the end is literally days away. Just remember that especially on larger maps, you will be encountering the survivors of everything that's happened in their neck of the woods since well before you know where they were. This usually equates to armies the likes of which you've not yet seen. Your magic superiority should reign without issue, but be prepared just the same. I once won an XL map with underground with a Ciele that embarked with all my city's troops in the second month. Near the end of the third month, that same compliment was taking cities that were very well defended. Sure she was severely battered with Sprites falling off a LONG way back and SE's extinct for a bit. But her Expert Berserk and Phoenixes helped make sure the enemies were too busy to damage her to the point of needing to go for reinforcements. -The end While you can't force certain spells or artifacts or even DUs, you CAN use each and every little advantage to optimum use, turning them into considerably sizeable advantages. This guide represents a technique of running on the barest of investment, so remember that for each enemy you stomp, that's that much money he threw away that you didn't by comparison. Sure your enemies have similar plans, but they don't all have Luna's money, creature, and resource-saving self-sufficiency, and they likely do not have FFBs a week. One map I found a Conflux not far at all from my city. On day three of week three, I hired one hero with FFBs, who caddied them to my FFB from week two, who was in range of the enemy Conflux. He had hired every Pixie, AE, WE, and FE he had. Sure, I lost 3 Firebirds. Would've been more if I didn't have them all in one stack AND wait the first turn, both to minimize counterattack damage. But by the end of that week, THAT Conflux was producing FFBs a week. Plus being without home, that enemy was pushed off the map a couple days later. This guide demonstrates WHY the Conflux can be broken. This is just one example of how devastating using that imbalance effectively can have you a clear victor even in week three of an XL map with underground.