Tips using the horseman in campaigns

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iridium137
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Joined: October 27th, 2013, 12:48 am

Tips using the horseman in campaigns

Post by iridium137 » July 21st, 2016, 6:07 am

I'm having trouble using the horseman effectively in campaigns. He feels more like a "win more" unit than an actually effective combat unit. He costs 23 gold, about 1.5x a typical infantry unit. He has no ranged attack, and his only attack is the risky double damage attack. This means he effectively only has 19 HP.

Orcs are a frequent campaign enemy, and they are heavy melee-oriented, giving the horseman few juicy targets to feast upon. He has difficulties moving through terrain, and that combined with enemy ZoC means he's often unable to reach his desired target even if there is one. So most of the time, the horseman has to either stick around and not attack, or try to charge down grunts and trolls without getting himself killed.
I know about the tactic of targeting enemies he could one-shot. It maximizes his chance to kill, and minimizes his expected retaliation. However, this also sacrifices half his potential damage, and it's still risky. Enemies have at least 40% defense (barring the occasional orc dumb enough to go in the water), so every attack is basically a coinflip. On the flipside, horsemen have at most 40% defense, so when he misses, the odds are not in his favor.
During the day, he can charge just about any level 1 orc reasonably safely. But orcs are really weak during the day, so who cares? The horseman's damage during day is also kinda overkill. During neutral ToD, he can only charge archers safely. During the night, even archers give significant retal, and will probably kill the horseman on his turn.
The horseman takes 44 exp to level up, which is 5 kills and a little bit of fighting. That gives Murphy's law plenty of opportunities to kick in, unless you want to play super safe and take forever. Intelligent horsemen take one fewer kill, but I don't like having intelligent level 2+ units.

The horseman is expensive, he needs to be shielded, and he needs to be fed kills to, often at the expense of the rest of the army. And despite taking all the precautions you can, he will inevitably screw up and take heavy retal, and will need to be healed. If you can afford to do all that for the sake of one unit, you don't need his help to begin with. So like I said, the horseman feels like a "win more" unit to me.

Once I level up a horseman, I almost never use the charge attack again. Which is ironic, because knights can charge much more safely than a horseman. But even so, I feel like knights are better used as normal combat units, where their good HP, resists, movement, and damage really shine. He's really good at weakening enemies for level 1 units to kill. Charge just wastes his good durability IMO.

Am I using the horseman wrong, or is he supposed to be like this?

Velensk
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Re: Tips using the horseman in campaigns

Post by Velensk » July 21st, 2016, 3:33 pm

Depends on the campaign but in general horsemen are pretty useful and easy to level up. Your basic assumption that they effectively have 19 hp is completely false, horsemen only take double damage when they are attacking, and they only take double damage if they get hit.

Horsemen are finishers. At day, an attack from a single other unit can often bring many types of enemies into the range where horsemen can one-shot them. If you're starting off with a 60% chance to end your enemy who is at 22/25 health (more damage than any other unit can reliably do with their entire attack), even with doubled retaliation your odds for the rest of the fight can't be too bad. At that point it almost doesn't matter how strong the enemy melee attack is. Of course, things don't always go ideally but you have a second shot and (against 40% defense) about 5/6 times you'll get at least one hit out of the two. Even if you miss though, even with doubled retaliation orcs don't do huge amounts of damage against cavalry at day.

If you're playing a campaign where you have access to slow (such as shamans) you can be bringing that 40+ DPH (damage per hex) to bear against an enemy who'll only be relating at normal damage.

Typical practice for horsemen should look something like this:
-Stall/delay/manuver to ensure that the fight does not happen at at any time other than dawn or day.
-Use archers/mages/expendable infantry to prepare targets for horsemen attacks. This can be slows and/or lowering the target to where horsemen can one shot them.
-Attack (and most often kill) targets prepared.
-Move a screen of expendable infantry up to cover the horsemen where needed (oftentimes it isn't needed, except to archers horsemen aren't actually flimsy on defense and even against archers if they didn't take a counterblow they have enough hp to easily survive a few attacks.

In this fashion, horsemen give you a kind of breaking power that can clear the chaff from the enemy armies with extreme efficiency and frequently aren't at much risk themselves. In a close battle you may find yourself needing to use them in a more desperate fashion but unless you're playing the hardest campaigns at the highest difficulty I can just about guarantee that there's a way to get relatively reliable use out of them for almost every strike.
"There are two kinds of old men in the world. The kind who didn't go to war and who say that they should have lived fast died young and left a handsome corpse and the old men who did go to war and who say that there is no such thing as a handsome corpse."

mousyack
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Joined: September 15th, 2012, 8:14 pm

Re: Tips using the horseman in campaigns

Post by mousyack » July 22nd, 2016, 5:14 pm

iridium137 wrote:and he needs to be fed kills to, often at the expense of the rest of the army. And despite taking all the precautions you can, he will inevitably screw up and take heavy retal, and will need to be healed. If you can afford to do all that for the sake of one unit, you don't need his help to begin with.
But come to think of it, so does any other lvl1 unit, no?

You're totally right that the horseman is a specialist unit that you don't need more than a few of on many maps, and don't need at all on some maps, and that must be used with care. However, having considered all those other lvl1 units that could be gaining experience instead, there's nothing intrinsically wrong with leveling up this guy.

You say they suck on a difficult terrain – they sure do, but what if there is a lot of grass on the map?

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Sudipta
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Re: Tips using the horseman in campaigns

Post by Sudipta » July 24th, 2016, 3:33 pm

Horseman are especially useful in campaigns. They are tough to use in multiplayer but in campaigns it's really simple because u can manipulate the AI in a fashion such that the fighting happens when u hold the advantage such as day. I completely agree with velensk about the reasoning he gave in support of the horseman. I find them extremely effective in most campaigns, because their killing power is unrivaled. Plus its easy to retreat them to villages for healing, so your point about them having low survivability isn't valid. Choosing the correct targets is really important though, but during the day they can pretty much 1-shot anything.
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Delicius169
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Re: Tips using the horseman in campaigns

Post by Delicius169 » July 24th, 2016, 5:55 pm

Horsemen in campain is nice unit to recall for just 20gold, instead of recruiting. It´s easier to chose better traits. And I was alway fan of Paladin, best antiundead bowmen unit in game- am I not right?
And I have to agree, that when I lvl them, I just mostly use their sword attack.

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