Elvish Pillager's Comprehensive Guide to the Horseman

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Elvish Pillager's Comprehensive Guide to the Horseman

Post by Elvish_Pillager » May 28th, 2006, 1:47 pm

Introduction
The Horseman is a very powerful unit. It can scout for villages and pick off lone units, but it can also form your front line of combat or hang back and kill wounded units in the middle of a battle. It has high HP, a good attack, many moves, and resists most damage types. The one downside: It costs a lot.

Hopefully, this guide will make the Horseman worth its cost to you, or even worth more than that.

When to get the Horseman
The Horseman has a very different role in campaigns, as opposed to multiplayer. In campaigns, the goal is usually to win quickly, which the Horseman excels at, while in multiplayer, the goal is to win at all, which entails many different strategies.

Campaigns
There are very few situations in a campaign in which Horsemen would not benefit you. Early on, Horsemen can win you some quick victories and gold; later, a corps of Knights or Grand Knights is perfect for doing the real heavy work of a battle. The Grand Knight is one of the highest-HP units in the game, so it makes a very good line-holder in an open area without normal defensive terrain, which would otherwise be a weakness.

The Knight really isn't a unit that you can do without, if you're allowed to get it. Knights are the perfect shock troops to use where other units fail you. In Heir to the Throne, Horsemen and Knights can win quickly in a battle which would otherwise involve slogging through streams of enemies, such as Crossroads or Northern Winter; in The Rise of Wesnoth, many scenarios, like the Midlands have open ground, easy for horse units to dominate, and lots of Orcs, often the ideal opponents of Knights; in the Eastern Invasion, Knights can be made into Paladins, perfect for fighting the Undead, or Grand Knights, which massacre everything else in the campaign, and can be given holy ankhs to make them even more devastating than Paladins.

It's usually not such a good idea, though, to use Horsemen in cave scenarios. The exception is when you have a Paladin and face Undead; if the map is small enough that you can get it to the battle, its holy weaponry makes up for its other weaknesses.

Multiplayer
The Horseman is significantly less valuable here. In campaigns, you often have more gold than you could possibly spend, making cost no issue; in multiplayer, cost is always an issue.

For this reason, in multiplayer, you cannot get hordes of Horsemen, and deal devastating damage to all the enemies. However, you can still get a few horsemen and deal devastating damage to a few enemies.

If the enemy fields too many low-melee archers, get a horseman. If the enemy fields too many Drakes, get a horseman, If the enemy fields too many Spearmen, don't get a horseman! Overall, in the Default era, the Horseman is best against Northerners, mediocre against Rebels, Drakes, and Knalgans, and downright bad against Loyalists and Undead.

Never get Horsemen against Loyalists. Loyalists regularly use Spearmen, Bowmen, and Heavy Infantry, all of which are devastating to Horsemen. As a scout, the Cavalryman is cheaper and less likely to get massacred.

Don't get Horsemen against Undead either, unless the Undead player has already recruited stupidly (e.g. all Dark Adepts.) Even in that situation, Cavalrymen may be the better choice.

None of the Knalgans' units is that great against the Horseman, but only the Poacher is weak to the Horseman, and it's best not to field Horsemen unless they can be sure of some effectiveness.

Elves are frail and easy to take down with a Horseman, but if you let it near them, an Elvish Shaman would be very nasty, and the Horseman is no good at all against Woses. (Side note: A Knight is very effective against Woses.) If he goes with Shamans and Woses, don't get a horseman. If the opponent uses Elvish Fighters and Archers a lot, do get a horseman. Just don't be stupid and attack them in forest.

Drakes are another dubious case. If the opponent gets Clashers or Saurian Skirmishers, then the Horseman is very vulnerable and shouldn't be recruited; however, if they don't, then a Horseman will easily cut down Burners, Augurs, and even Fighters. On the other hand, it's a pretty weak opponent who will fail to get either Clashers or Skirmishers when faced with a Loyalist opponent.

Against Northerners, a Horseman is almost always effective. All northerner units are Chaotic, meaning that you can get a damage bonus while your opponents have a damage penalty. No northerner unit except the Goblin Spearman is any challenge to the properly played Horseman, and the Spearman, though it is a risky fight, is so weak that it can often be killed in one hit.

What do do with the Horseman

General tactics
Attack the following: Low-melee archers, low-defense one-hit-kills, and units that need to die ASAP to win the battle.
Do not attack the following: High-melee units, high-defense full-HP units, and units that can kill the Horseman and thereby lose you the battle.

The Horseman is an opportunist. If there's something to attack, do so. If there's nothing to attack, run away and grab a village.

A common mistake with the Horseman is to attack, kill something easily, and then have the Horseman cut to ribbons the next turn by archers. This is no good. The Horseman costed more than that unit. One thing never to do is to attack with the Horseman when it is open to attack like this. Always defend the Horseman if it attacks from a position open to enemy units.

Defense isn't always that obvious, though. If the Horseman can attack, be killed by archers, and then your army can kill the archers, then the Horseman is defended. If the Horseman can attack, be killed by archers, and then you can break through their battle lines which are no longer supported by the archers, then the Horseman is defended. If the Horseman can attack, be killed by archers, and then you can grab enemy villages and split the enemy army, then the Horseman is defended.

Of course, you can always defend it by putting units around it, but be careful that you won't lose the battle just because the enemy kills a guard and then sneaks in and shoots down the Horseman. Threats are more secure, if the enemy can't remove them.

Another common mistake with the Horseman is to attack a high-defense fighter that can kill the Horseman, just because the Horseman can kill it in one hit. Now, if killing that fighter is crucial to your victory in the battle, then by all means, do it; but if the fighter is in an insignificant side position, then the attack is suicidal. Remember, a wounded unit is probably worth about half as much as the Horseman. If you let it do damage to you, it had better be very little damage, or very unlikely, because otherwise, you're losing out.

Also, never attack a unit that can kill the Horseman and level up by doing so, unless it is the only way to stop it, even if that unit is in 20% defense and can be killed in one hit.

A third mistake, just as bad as the others, is to leave the Horseman running around grabbing villages and never reaching the main battle. It's a waste of gold. You can save five gold on that by using Cavalrymen instead (or Elvish Scouts if this is HttT) but even then, it's pretty wasteful. The unit has an attack and is meant to use it.

At the very least, if there are truly no attack opportunities, keep the horseman close enough to the battle to strike at any moment. The threat cripples your opponent's strategy, especially relating to his leader. The leader is often a level 2 unit which can be taken out in one attack by a lucky Horseman; if you see an opportunity to swing for the enemy leader, (although not so much one of several enemy leaders in team games) you should usually take it. It gives you a chance to win the game immediately, and even the worst-case situation, losing the Horseman and doing no damage, doesn't decrease your overall chance to win by that much.

Finally, remember the time of day. You don't have to worry about it too much in itself, as long as you check how much damage you're actually doing, but you'll find that the horseman is much more effective during the day, obviously - you may want to retreat your other units at night, or not commit to a battle that will last until night, if you want to rely on Horseman support.

Levelling up
You choose, when levelling up, between the Knight and the Lancer.

In campaigns, always get the Knight. The Lancer is easier to kill and doesn't advance, which are important in campaigns, while a few extra moves and more raw damage are not. In campaigns, you can't afford to lose random level 2 units, and the Lancer really can't hold the line either.

In multiplayer, still always get the Knight. If you want to deal lots of damage, the Knight still does more charging damage than the Horseman, it does more damage per hit, and it is less likely to be killed first on the counterattack. If you want more strikes, the Knight is also the right unit to pick - it has a sword with four strikes. If you want toughness, then the Knight has more HP and an attack that doesn't make it take double damage. If you want more moves, you should learn better strategy, because moves are not a valuable quality in a level 2 unit.

Campaign-specific tactics
In Heir to the Throne, or The Rise of Wesnoth, where gold is plentiful, a prime strategy is to recruit castle after castle of Horsemen and run down the enemy by sheer numbers. Low-XP horsemen can be used for suicide rushes on powerful units, while high-XP horsemen can be used to take out weak units, such as one hit kills or Archers and Troll Whelps during the day. If you are going for level 3 knights, then many units can be killed in one hit by a Knight's charge, but if you want more level 2 knights, their swords are also very useful for softening up enemies for Horsemen to kill.
Last edited by Elvish_Pillager on May 31st, 2006, 12:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by ascendant » May 28th, 2006, 2:24 pm

That's an awesome idea.

What about a comprehensive guide for all units that are more difficult to play?
Last edited by ascendant on May 30th, 2006, 12:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Elvish_Pillager » May 28th, 2006, 2:51 pm

ascendant wrote:That´s an awesome idea.

What about a comprehensive guide for all units that are more difficult to play?
Hmm - I mainly wrote this because I saw yet another thread where people discussed the use of Charge, which was, yet again, woefully incomplete. The Horseman has had a LOT of discussion over the years.
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Post by ascendant » May 28th, 2006, 2:56 pm

You're right. But especially the walking corpse is discussed again and again.
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Post by JW » May 28th, 2006, 4:20 pm

Nicely done EP. I like how you cover the use of the unit in both MP and SP. I think this is something valuable that my guides won't cover.

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Post by Shotor_Rider » May 28th, 2006, 8:08 pm

What about the choice between a grand knight and a paladin? I think grand knight is better most of the time except when you are have to play undead.

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Post by Moroder » May 28th, 2006, 8:29 pm

That's a great guide to Horsemen users, like me. Thanks Pillager!
Shotor_Rider wrote:I think grand knight is better most of the time except when you are have to play undead.
Not my case. Paladins are better than white mages to heal advanced troops, mainly because they have a better meele attack (and remember, the AI won't send any ranged attacks to your white mage; even without a ranged attack, the paladin will survive longer). Of course, White Mage's Cure is better than Heal, but if your healer dies sooner... :wink: So I would keep a 1-1 rate between Paladins and Grand Knights (the tough ones, who probably will be even more powerful when grouped with their holy counterpart).

Arr, first post! Hello everyone!

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Post by Elvish_Pillager » May 28th, 2006, 8:42 pm

Grand Knight vs. Paladin? I usually go for the Grand Knight, but it depends heavily on what's coming up in the campaign.

:? If the unit is resilient, strong or resilient, intelligent, I always go for the Grand Knight, because a resilient Grand Knight is a unit to FEAR.
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Post by kiet » May 28th, 2006, 8:56 pm

I think this is what makes the Paladin so unpopular,a player would never pick it unless it were some undead coming up in the next few scenarios.
Even in EI where you meet undead everywhere you go the Grand Knight is more poular since you can get an item that makes all his attacks holy.
So I would say that 1 of 9 would choose a Paladin,unless it is even more than that. :P

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Post by toms » May 29th, 2006, 12:43 pm

JW wrote:Nicely done EP. I like how you cover the use of the unit in both MP and SP. I think this is something valuable that my guides won't cover.
Give link to it at the horseman.
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Post by JW » May 29th, 2006, 3:11 pm

toms wrote:
JW wrote:Nicely done EP. I like how you cover the use of the unit in both MP and SP. I think this is something valuable that my guides won't cover.
Give link to it at the horseman.
Ooh, interesting.

More unit threads EP? :D

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Post by cheerful coffin » May 30th, 2006, 1:35 am

hmm currently I am in the campaign scenario the siege of Elensefar. My loyal knight is about to level up, and I have a hard time deciding what it should becomes.

Grand knight is definitely better in damage output and HP. Say in grassland, Grand knight would probably land 2 or 3 successful strike -> around 24 or 36 damage.

Paladin on the other hand, would probably land 3 successful strike (5*60%=3) -> 24 damage. But notice that Paladin's attack is holy -> most unit would have 20% resistance...

But then paladin has a heal ability (healing 4hp is better than nothing I guess) + the name and white horse are cool + it is extremely good against undead (except e.g. A skeleton attacks him, do some damages, the pally counter attack and kill it eventually since he has 5 strikes, and then another skeleton attacks him again... the way that the pally kills undead would actually get himself killed and denies experience for others :p)

lol I probably need a guide for choosing between pally and grand knight too.

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Post by JW » May 30th, 2006, 2:09 am

I made Haldiel a Grand Knight. In the one later scenario I wished he was a Paladin, but other than that I was glad to have him as a GK.

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Post by Zhukov » May 30th, 2006, 6:34 am

Hehe, good ol' Haldiel. It always amuses me that he is practically a main character, even though he doesn't get a single line of dialog.

Anyway, I think unit guides are a cool idea. If you are planning on doing more, I would suggest the Dark Adept. I have seen you using it to great effect (against me) and have seen others using it in unbelievably ineffective ways.

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Post by Elvish_Pillager » May 30th, 2006, 9:29 am

A Loyal horseman. That, and the first Horseman you get. He gets into battle quickly, and if he survives, you are definitely going to recall him. The Loyal Grand Knight is totally worth it, alter on.

Although much more difficult, watching Elrian level into a Great Mage can be quite satisfying as well.

As to the Dark Adept, the cheap chaotic mage with potentially no drawbacks: Good suggestion. I'll do it when I have time/energy.
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