How to play as undead.

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Kingfrost
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How to play as undead.

Post by Kingfrost » May 10th, 2019, 12:54 am

I have often heard that the Undead is the weakest faction, whether it is or not, I consider it one of my favorite factions to play, specially when playing team with friends. The Undead is definitely an more finatous and tactical battle.

I assume those reading this already have a basic understanding of the tactics of the game, using terrain, formations, counters, and abilities. So this is more guided to help the player that has not really played as Undead and wants some strategy and tips for wining. Meanly just a quick summery and general use of the Undead faction in the default era.

Let’s take a look at the units for recruiting.

Dark Adept: This is a very vulnerable unit (has no melee attack), and should probably not be recruited early in the game. Once enough units have been recruited to form a line this unit can be used to take out units that have a weakness to arcane.

Ghost: These have very low health (18HP) and cost a lot (20g). Although they may seem like a bad recruit, ghosts are very mobile and hold the secret to one of the most powerful abilities of the game (Backstab). If used correctly (has a great ability to attack and retreat), can be leveled fairly easily (only 21 XP) and became a very powerful unit: the Shadow. The Wraith is good also but Backstabing is OP. (backstab can be performed against any unit with one of your units on the opposite side) with the right planning this can be achieved almost every turn.

Ghoul: It’s always good to have one of these around. Ghouls have good health and serve as a front line unit. Although their main purpose is poisoning. Poison can be very obnoxious for your enemies, I’ve seen level 2 units be destroyed by poison, it’s often better to poison a full heath unit than deliver the final blow to a weak one.

Skeleton: These are your standard melee unit. If your enemies recruit to many arcane, fire and impact units. You may have to switch entirely to ghouls, ghosts and maybe even a few adepts. These are often easier to level then the ghouls and can become a powerful unit.

Skeleton Archer: It’s generally wise to mix some of these in your armies to take advantage of the non ranged opponents, and they will hold better then the Dark Adept on the front line. It is also a good unit to advance to level two.

Vampire Bat: This is a very important unit in large maps. You can use the Bat to quickly conquer houses early on in the game, giving you that early income that can set you ahead for the rest of the game. Also later on in the game they can be used to sneak around the enemy line and conquering house after house causing havoc to the enemy's economy.

Walking Corpse: I wouldn't recommend recruiting one of these unless you have a specific purpose for it. these should be though of as the an expendable unit. They can be used as a meat shield for your monarch, or when you only have that 8g and you need every attack force you can get.

With this faction you have to take seriously the idea of day time/night time advantages. Literally do not attack in the day time unless there is an open non repercussion, extremely advantageous opportunity. It may seem foolish to let your opponent choose the attack method, but you need to avoid as many conflicts as possible in the day time. Use the day time to retreat and heal or stand your ground by reforming a line.

Always be aware that the Undead is a more crafty, lurking in the dark, assassin type faction. This means you have to be more versatile than just brute force pressure. Some times your armies will be comprised almost inertly of Ghouls other times you’ll only have one Ghoul. Some games you wont use the Dark Adept other games they will comprise a key roll to victory.

UnbearablePleasure
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Re: How to play as undead.

Post by UnbearablePleasure » May 11th, 2019, 12:36 am

there's some terrible advice mixed in here. you do know that rushing with undead is a thing right?

matchups are something you need to consider when picking your recruits, even at a basic level. also, considering the individual units by themselves is pretty meaningless, it is much more useful to consider different types of unit compositions that you can go for depending on the matchup and map. you recruit units into an army, never inside a vacuum. this is still some pretty basic info

i recommend that you play more games of 1v1 to understand the default era better

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ElvishMystical0
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Re: How to play as undead.

Post by ElvishMystical0 » May 20th, 2019, 3:35 pm

I take issue with the assertion that the Undead is the weakest faction. There are no weak factions, and all factions are balanced. With the right recruitment and mix of units the Undead can be the strongest of the chaotic factions during the night and you can deal some serious damage to your opponents.

Considering individual units isn't that helpful, because it also depends what role you want that unit to play in your army, where you place the unit, and how you use it.

Each faction offers attack and weapon types, dealing more damage of a certain type, and also has resistances and vulnerabilities. Then you have your dependency, whether you are dependent on terrain (such as Elves and Dwarves) or time of day (Loyalists, Drakes, Northerners - Orcs and Goblins - and Undead). Finally you have the RNG Random Number Generator.

All these things determine your composition, what units you recruit, how many, where you place them and what role you want them to play. If you're playing Undead you know that your dependency is time of day, that you're going to be stronger at night, that you are pretty strong when it comes to melee and blade and also ranged and cold. But you also know that you are much weaker during the day and are vulnerable to impact and fire.

Then you have to consider whether it's SP or MP and whether you're playing AI or human. Against the AI you know that your opponent will be trying to cause you the maximum short term damage and will churn out units and send them to you relentlessly. With a human opponent you have to figure out their style.

For example when I play Undead I work to a strategy of Primary, Secondary and Utility, based on who or what I'm playing against. My primary is the weapon and attack type I'm going to lead with, which is generally melee and blade with Skeletons as a core of my army, but this can change, for example, if I'm fighting Drakes then my Primary is Pierce and I recruit Skeleton Archers instead. My Secondary is my back up which can be Ghosts or Dark Adepts. Then I have my Utility units, for example Ghouls to poison frontline units, Ghosts and Bats to capture villages and to distract, and Walking Corpses to save gold or negate the heavy hitters which deal impact - such as Troll Whelps, Thugs and Outlaws.

But then there's all the little things you learn and do through gameplay which isn't always mentioned in walkthroughs. For example if you're playing Undead you know you're weaker during the day so unless you're prepared to use more units to make up the disadvantage you have to seek out the terrain which is going to give you the advantage, such as water and swamp.

I learned this from playing the Beginning of the Revenge in Descent into Darkness. You face Orcs and there's plenty of mountains, hills and forest where you can be attacked, but there's also lots of water and frozen terrain where you can park your Ghosts and hide your Skeletons.

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Krogen
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Re: How to play as undead.

Post by Krogen » May 29th, 2019, 11:49 pm

ElvishMystical0 wrote:
May 20th, 2019, 3:35 pm
... and all factions are balanced.
That was funny. :D

Btw with Undead, you can't leave the Dark Adepts out of your mix, not in any situation. Get them from the get go in decent numbers. They are your core units, not the Skeletons. At least if you want to have any success in multiplayer.
"A lion doesn't concern himself with the opinions of the sheep." - Tywin Lannister

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Vilebeggar
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Re: How to play as undead.

Post by Vilebeggar » June 2nd, 2019, 9:44 am

As undead i generally go for Specter spam as they are one of the best melee units and can bypass terrain. But Draugs and Ghasts are also really nice if you somehow don't have access to ghosts. The bad part is that the undead tree doesn't have access to healers which slows them significantly (please don't add undead healers) but they still are a very powerful faction and i wouldn't consider them the weakest. Orcs/Elves in my opinion are the weakest bunch.

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EarthCake
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Re: How to play as undead.

Post by EarthCake » June 3rd, 2019, 1:22 pm

Vilebeggar wrote:
June 2nd, 2019, 9:44 am
As undead i generally go for Specter spam as they are one of the best melee units and can bypass terrain. But Draugs and Ghasts are also really nice if you somehow don't have access to ghosts. The bad part is that the undead tree doesn't have access to healers which slows them significantly (please don't add undead healers) but they still are a very powerful faction and i wouldn't consider them the weakest. Orcs/Elves in my opinion are the weakest bunch.
I agree that the spectres are the best, but not in the entire game, only for the undead race. Ghasts are really valuable units, as they have very good resistances, and can poison enemies. Healers are not needed for the undead faction, because of undead have great resistances.
I wouldn't agree that orcs and the elves are the weakest factions. Orcs have a great unit: troll whelp, which costs 13 gold and have regeneration. About the elves, they are neutral, and mostly have good defense everywhere.
Please note that all the factions are balanced; none of them should be considered weakest.

Hardwood
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Re: How to play as undead.

Post by Hardwood » June 3rd, 2019, 11:01 pm

EarthCake wrote:
June 3rd, 2019, 1:22 pm
Please note that all the factions are balanced; none of them should be considered weakest.
n
sry

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josteph
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Re: How to play as undead.

Post by josteph » June 5th, 2019, 10:39 am

Hardwood wrote:
June 3rd, 2019, 11:01 pm
EarthCake wrote:
June 3rd, 2019, 1:22 pm
Please note that all the factions are balanced; none of them should be considered weakest.
n
sry
Would you like to elaborate, Hardwood? The factions are meant to be balanced, but maybe that's not the case in every circumstance...

Hardwood
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Re: How to play as undead.

Post by Hardwood » June 5th, 2019, 2:33 pm

josteph wrote:
June 5th, 2019, 10:39 am
Would you like to elaborate, Hardwood? The factions are meant to be balanced, but maybe that's not the case in every circumstance...
I see talk about faction balance a lot, where factions are seemingly weighed against each other in a vacuum - this is a poor approach to be sure. In the first place, what constitutes good balance? Should all factions have equal or near-equal chances, assuming both players have randomed them, assuming no mistakes from either side, assuming no RNG bias, assuming 1v1, assuming default game settings? Which maps should the factions in the default era be balanced for? What about p1 and p2 differences, if one player rolls p1 when his faction does better with p2 on that map, should he just accept the disadvantage from the start of the game? And even if the matchup is pretty balanced, is it interesting to play? It's already clear that not all of the maps included in mainline offer equal chances for every faction in every matchup already - to go into detail about this would take a lot of time, effort, analysis, and input from skilled players - not something I have access to right now.

The factions may be meant to be balanced, but in practice you will often find that certain factions struggle with others, even in general - off the top of my head, I think many would agree that Knalga tend to struggle with Loyalists and Northerners, Undead struggle against Rebels, Drakes against Northerners and Undead, and perhaps Undead vs Knalga - you could probably check this with statistics like win rate from ladder games of players rated 2k+ (that might be a bit too generous though, as even highly rated players can make pretty big mistakes in their games). As for specific matchup imbalances on each specific map, I feel that I am not qualified to give a conclusive response on the matter, however I do feel that a good number of the mainline 1v1 maps are imbalanced to some extent.

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Hejnewar
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Re: How to play as undead.

Post by Hejnewar » June 5th, 2019, 4:03 pm

Hardwood wrote:
June 5th, 2019, 2:33 pm

Which maps should the factions in the default era be balanced for? What about p1 and p2 differences, if one player rolls p1 when his faction does better with p2 on that map, should he just accept the disadvantage from the start of the game? And even if the matchup is pretty balanced, is it interesting to play? It's already clear that not all of the maps included in mainline offer equal chances for every faction in every matchup already - to go into detail about this would take a lot of time, effort, analysis, and input from skilled players - not something I have access to right now.
Let's start with maps. Every old map pack that was used during ladder matches / tournaments contained only maps considered balanced. You do not balance factions according to available maps but you create maps with balance in mind.

P1 and P2, you can shuffle sides then its luck. So its fair and balanced. There are also players who dont create games so they always go second because host usually goes first if they don't shuffle and no one is complaining about that. Also it's a trade off becouse p2 is getting a village and as p2 you can counter recruit earlier than p1 can while p1 is getting first turn.
Hardwood wrote:
June 5th, 2019, 2:33 pm

The factions may be meant to be balanced, but in practice you will often find that certain factions struggle with others, even in general - off the top of my head, I think many would agree that Knalga tend to struggle with Loyalists and Northerners, Undead struggle against Rebels, Drakes against Northerners and Undead, and perhaps Undead vs Knalga - you could probably check this with statistics like win rate from ladder games of players rated 2k+ (that might be a bit too generous though, as even highly rated players can make pretty big mistakes in their games). As for specific matchup imbalances on each specific map, I feel that I am not qualified to give a conclusive response on the matter, however I do feel that a good number of the mainline 1v1 maps are imbalanced to some extent.
According to statistics from some of tournaments Drakes are too strong vs UD.Is that true? It isn't. Because depending on level of play tactics will change. (Newer not so experienced players usually do not rush with UD.) It's kind of similar with Elves and UD, here Elves have upper hand if they aren't under pressure so if your playstyle is not aggresive enough then you have a problem. It could obviously be improved but it isn't that bad if you are aggressive players. Exactly because of so many different playstyles we have so many different opinions about balance.
There are some obviously not balanced matchups like UD vs Dwarfs (it's an interesting example), at the end of 1.12 win ratio of Dwarf suddenly dropped for no reason, why? Because some players started to recruit more ghosts, meta shifted and it was kind of hard to adapt to it for some of Dwarf players. So meta and how fast players can adapt to it also is a thing. (Dwarf vs UD is very much focused on protecting your adepts.)

I was trying to stay with UD as much as possible and not to go into offtopic too much. ;)
Last edited by Hejnewar on June 5th, 2019, 5:47 pm, edited 4 times in total.

Hardwood
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Re: How to play as undead.

Post by Hardwood » June 5th, 2019, 4:23 pm

Hejnewar wrote:
June 5th, 2019, 4:03 pm

Let's start with maps. Every old map pack that was used during ladder matches / tournaments contained only maps considered balanced. You do not balance factions according to available maps but you create maps with balance in mind.

P1 and P2, you can shuffle sides then its luck. So its fair and balanced. There are also players who dont create games so they always go second because host usually goes first if they don't shuffle and no one is complaining about that. Also it's a trade off becouse p2 is getting a village and as p2 you can counter recruit earlier than p1 can while p1 is getting first turn.

According to statistics from some of tournaments Drakes are too strong vs UD.Is that true? It isn't. Because depending on level of play tactics will change. (Newer not so experienced players usually do not rush with UD.) It's kind of similar with Elves and UD, here Elves have upper hand if they aren't under pressure so if your playstyle is not aggresive enough then you have a problem. It could obviously be improved but it isn't that bad if you are aggressive players. Exactly because of so many different playstyles we have so many different opinions about balance.
There are some obviously not balanced matchups like UD vs Dwarfs (it's an interesting example), at the end of 1.12 win ratio of Dwarf suddenly dropped for no reason, why? Because some players started to recruit more ghosts, meta shifted and it was kind of hard to adapt to it for some of Dwarf players. So meta and how fast players can adapt to it also is a thing. (Dwarf vs UD is very much focused on protecting your adepts.)

I was trying to stay with UD as much as possible and to go into offtopic too much. ;)
Probably the best approach is to create and tweak maps with balance in mind, yes. What I wanted to say is that balance (in terms of winning chances) is a complex issue involving not only factions but maps and game settings as well.

Sure, you can say that shuffle sides or random faction will even out the advantage or disadvantage, but this is not just an issue of winning chances. The game format may be fair, but the factions may still be imbalanced against each other. IMO it produces a less interesting experience if you already know that as any race/player combination, on the map you are playing, you are disadvantaged (it can happen; counter recruit and earlier scouting information can be very important). This is a design issue that isn't very easily solved. Also, ofc, I should mention village stealing shenanigans by p1 which can be stronger or less strong depending on the map.

Yes, I agree that it would be difficult to produce accurate conclusions about faction imbalance from statistics alone (as I acknowledged). I didn't think of meta shifts though, that's a good point. (How did people ever play undead vs dwarf without ghosts?) It would be better to have a team of strong players diligently cooperate to analyze maps and replays of games on said maps to reach any kind of conclusion. For now, at least empirically, we have seen faction matchups to be imbalanced.

This has gone a little bit off-topic, but I think it was important to counter the EarthCake's remark about all factions being equally balanced.

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Hejnewar
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Re: How to play as undead.

Post by Hejnewar » June 5th, 2019, 6:33 pm

Hardwood wrote:
June 5th, 2019, 4:23 pm

IMO it produces a less interesting experience if you already know that as any race/player combination, on the map you are playing, you are disadvantaged (it can happen; counter recruit and earlier scouting information can be very important). This is a design issue that isn't very easily solved. Also, ofc, I should mention village stealing shenanigans by p1 which can be stronger or less strong depending on the map.
I dont think that this is a problem. From what i've seen these games a) end quickly b) are very interesting for observers and challenging for players. Especialy when you have good and non-meta battleplan.
Hardwood wrote:
June 5th, 2019, 4:23 pm

(How did people ever play undead vs dwarf without ghosts?)
People played ghosts, they just started to use them more. I think this tactic needs even more skill to pull off then regular Dwarf vs Ud but can be beneficial, nonetheless i've seen some games without ghosts. Ghosts are often scouts, helping hands and long term strategy for Ud player, however one of approaches to this matchup is just brute force and ghosts don't provide very much of it.

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