Easy Strategy that always wins: using the Elvish Sylph

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Glowing Fish
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Easy Strategy that always wins: using the Elvish Sylph

Post by Glowing Fish »

I would have said, for a long time, that there are no "easy answers" in Wesnoth.
But I finally found one.
The Easy Answer to Wesnoth is the Elvish Sylph. If the Elvish Sylph wasn't so fun, it would be unbalanced. It is only unbalanced the way that eating an ice cream sundae is an unbalanced meal.
(Of course, obtaining an Elvish Sylph is not at all easy, since it requires the type of XP that only comes about in long campaigns)

There is almost no situation where an Elvish Sylph will not prevail. It deals almost as much damage as a Great Mage, but unlike a Great Mage, it has a slow attack. It can slow down almost any mellee unit to the point where it can not do much damage, especially considering that the Elvish Sylph has great or good defenses on almost every type of terrain. And it can move fast too, floating where it needs to go.

I would say there is almost no unit that can stand against the Sylph, but there would be situations where it would be outmatched, such as a battle against an unending supply of Lancers on plains, or against a horde of Berserkers on cave. Otherwise, there is not much that it can't do.

Also, isn't she pretty?
Don't go to Glowing Fish for advice, he will say both yes and no.

PriestLizard
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Joined: September 27th, 2010, 9:48 am

Re: Easy Strategy that always wins: using the Elvish Sylph

Post by PriestLizard »

Hi there :)

Basically you're right, the Sylph is an awesome unit. However as you already pointed out, it is Lv.4 so untill you finally got a Sylph, most multiplayer games are already over. I can't remember that I ever had a Sylph in a MP game... :hmm:

For campaigns, yup, Sylphies kick ass. It will indeed prevail in most if not all 1v1 situations. Nevertheless it has some weaknesses. Engage it with strong high level melee and/or orcish assassins and it will go down quickly. I really believe that Wesnoth is quite balanced (at least the multiplayer part, campaigns are, naturally, not always balanced).

Glowing Fish
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Re: Easy Strategy that always wins: using the Elvish Sylph

Post by Glowing Fish »

PriestLizard wrote: For campaigns, yup, Sylphies kick ass. It will indeed prevail in most if not all 1v1 situations. Nevertheless it has some weaknesses. Engage it with strong high level melee and/or orcish assassins and it will go down quickly. I really believe that Wesnoth is quite balanced (at least the multiplayer part, campaigns are, naturally, not always balanced).
Well, if it gets engaged by a strong melee unit, it is in trouble. The thing is, since it has such good movement, it is more likely to be engaging first, with an attack that slows. If it does a slow attack on say, a Royal Guardsman or Orcish Warlord, that unit isn't going to be able to do much damage, if the Sylph is in halfway good terrain.

As for Orcish assassins...only if the enemy is willing to suicide them. A little bit of poison versus A LOT of magic.
Don't go to Glowing Fish for advice, he will say both yes and no.

ShakeZula
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Re: Easy Strategy that always wins: using the Elvish Sylph

Post by ShakeZula »

In order to keep something like a troll warrior or royal gaurd slowed though, you would have to use the lesser damaging attack over and over (6-5 i think? 30 damage max, while a slowed royal gaurd would do what? about 15-20?) while they would still be doing decent melee damage, and those things have massive health bars while the sylph is not made for tanking, I don't know though, it would be an interesting experiment. I don't think I've ever seen a sylph in MP, but if I had to kill one I guess I would want to surround it with cheap melee and skirmishers to damage it, then bring in something big & nasty to finish it.

Plus, if its a long enough game for you to make a sylph there's no telling what other players could have.

Glowing Fish
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Re: Easy Strategy that always wins: using the Elvish Sylph

Post by Glowing Fish »

I was talking almost totally of campaigns, where you are fighting the AI, and might have several Sylphs, and a Shyde.

I played HttT on medium, recruiting only Sylphs, and by the time I got past Siege of Elensefar, I basically just pointed, clicked, moved and killed.
Don't go to Glowing Fish for advice, he will say both yes and no.

ShakeZula
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Re: Easy Strategy that always wins: using the Elvish Sylph

Post by ShakeZula »

HttT on medium is the only campaign I have ever played, and I only got about half way through it before I started playing exclusively on the server. In that campaign I had one sylph, which is the only sylph I have ever personally controlled, but yea your right, it pretty much did mop up anything that came near it. An army of pwn fairies sort of takes the fun out of the game though, don't you think? lol

I have tried to make leader sylphs in orocia and whatnot, but I can never keep a game going long enough to get it up to that level without putting it in constant danger and someone putting "??!?!?" labels all over it, as they often do when you leave one hex open next to your leader, meanwhile their line units are getting passed around like a bangkok wh... we'll never mind that's another issue altogether.

Glowing Fish
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Re: Easy Strategy that always wins: using the Elvish Sylph

Post by Glowing Fish »

ShakeZula wrote:HttT on medium is the only campaign I have ever played, and I only got about half way through it before I started playing exclusively on the server. In that campaign I had one sylph, which is the only sylph I have ever personally controlled, but yea your right, it pretty much did mop up anything that came near it. An army of pwn fairies sort of takes the fun out of the game though, don't you think? lol
Although not all the time, there are times when just being able to MOP THE FLOOR is fun.

You might be familiar with Heroes of Might and Magic II, where you could play as a necromancer who could raise dead enemies as skeletons. There was one scenario in a campaign where you could fight thousands of enemy cannon-fodder, and raise a gigantic army of skeletons, and then stomp through the countryside laying waste everything. It was pretty fun.

And that is what having a bunch of Elvish Sylphs is like.
Don't go to Glowing Fish for advice, he will say both yes and no.

laddiebuck
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Re: Easy Strategy that always wins: using the Elvish Sylph

Post by laddiebuck »

I love Sylphs for campaigns. Yes, their Achilles heel is tanks with blades (Knights/Lancers/Guards/etc), but they are still about evenly matched with those kinds of units, while absolutely mopping the floor with other units given their combination of heavy hitting magical/arcane attacks, high defense on almost any terrain, and fantastic movement. I like using them as the backbone of a campaign army with some tanks and healers in support.

Here is a replay of them wiping out the enemy in the final scenario of HttT. I recruited a line of Dwarvish Guardsmen as front-line shock absorbers, recalled a few keepfuls of Sylphs, and some Grand Knights, Paladins, and Mages of Light to round it all out. The Sylphs dealt most of my offensive damage, and it was a lot of fun. Maybe too easy, but it was a fun payoff for leveling them up throughout the campaign.
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shevegen
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Re: Easy Strategy that always wins: using the Elvish Sylph

Post by shevegen »

I like them a lot, mostly due to mobility, but of course also due to power.

Only problem is amassing the XP which, in campaigns, can take a little while.

I realized that I can not play with units that are slow, such as these shock troopers, so I cater to quick units in general.

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patience_reloaded
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Re: Easy Strategy that always wins: using the Elvish Sylph

Post by patience_reloaded »

I think that the Elvish Sylph is actually a balanced damage dealer. It's plausible that the AI can't counter her properly, but a human player could.
The Sylph has some key weaknesses that can be exploited: It has no way of recovering lost HP except in a village, and it has no skirmish ability.
I'll suggest some ways to counter an Elvish Sylph if you ever happen to have to fight one in multiplayer. Some of these suggestions might work in campaigns as well. Attention though: I am no pro.
- Northeners: Send in two assassins, and a bunch of cheap units with ZoC like grunts. Use the assassins to suicide-poison the Sylph. Use two because if the Sylph attacks first (due to great mobility), the assassins won't have the marksman accuracy bonus, so one single assassin might get killed before poisoning the Sylph. Once successfully poisoned, use ZoC to prevent the Sylph from returning to a village. The poison and occasionally melee attacks will wear her down until she can be killed.
- Undead: Send two ghouls and a bunch of dark adepts. Maybe support with a few bats, which are mobile and cheap, but have no ZoC. Adepts are humans and therefore have a bit of arcane resistance, which combined with their hp should suffice to survive until the third hit of the main attack at least. By this time they will have dealt quite some damage in retailation. The Sylph will suffer heavily, even if the poisoning fails or is altogether skipped.
- Rebels: Use the Sylphs weapon against her: Slow her with shamans. Then any damage dealer can attack. Use human mages for increased accuracy, they should survive a bit because of the reduced damage from the slow effect and their resistance to arcane.
- Loyalists: Some spearmen will be annoying with their 20% arcane resistance and decent HP. A well placed charge of a horseman at day might immediately solve what remains.
- Drakes: Rely on saurians. The Skirmishers can surround her, the augurs strike back. Saurians have 20% arcane resistance, which will come in handy.
- Knalgans: OK, I admit, I have no idea how to play knalgans. I guess I'd use some quick units for ZoC, a pair of thieves for damage, followed by guardsmen for tanking and slowly wearing down?

The task of defeating an Elvish Sylph would be a lot more difficult if she was immune to poison, had the regeneration skill and life-drain on her most powerful attack.
Such a unit on level 4 would be indeed hardly balanced... however such a unit exists! In the user made era: "Era of Magic". It's the Mysthical Djinni, recruitable on level 1 by the Summoners faction. Leveling this unit in Multiplayer will however take very long, and the level 1 version is rather vulnerable. In the one Singleplayer campaign that I found for that faction ("To Lands Unknown"), I can't recruit Djinni yet (almost halfway through).

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Krogen
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Re: Easy Strategy that always wins: using the Elvish Sylph

Post by Krogen »

Actually a Great Mage is more likely to beat an Elvish Sylph in 1v1 than not, even with slow.
As for the main attacks, it's 16-4 vs 10-5, but the GM has arcane resistance, so it's 8-5. 64 vs 40 potential damage, quite a difference.
Slow is non-magical and only deals 6-5 damage. So even if GM damage gets halved, it's still 30 vs 32. That, if we assume the first slow hits.
After getting slowed, it would be 32 vs 40 in favor of Sylph, but GM can be passive and only has to wait a single turn for the Sylph to move, who will have to use the slow again to avoid that devastating 64 possible damage. GM has more hp and magical attack, therefore it is more likely to come out on top, especially since if the Sylph misses the first attack, it's very likely to get back 16 damage instantly in retaliation. But even if that never happens, her chances are bad.
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patience_reloaded
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Re: Easy Strategy that always wins: using the Elvish Sylph

Post by patience_reloaded »

Krogen wrote:
April 1st, 2020, 10:56 pm
Actually a Great Mage is more likely to beat an Elvish Sylph in 1v1 than not, even with slow.
Thanks for the idea. I decided to do a little experiment with your theory:
Set up a 1v1 local multiplayer game, use debug commands to summon 10 great mages + 10 Sylphs, have them fight under controlled circumstances.
East side: Great mages attack first.
West side: Sylphs attack first.
Each side: 1vs1 only, but five times to reduce the (still big) error margin due to the randomness of combat and traits.
I always let the computer choose the attack. Only one of the sylphs (west side) chose to attack with the webs, all others consistently chose the melee for minimal damage taking (i guess). Exception: when the Mage was low on health, the arcane attack was chosen frequently.
The Mages chose their fire attack for massive damage.
The duels took place on flat ground for both units.

Result: 9 Mages, 1 Sylph surviving.
Interesting detail: The Sylph that used the webs in offense on her first turn was the only unit killed by the first turn of the other unit in every duel.
Clarification of what I ment by this:
for the West side: Turn 1: Sylphs attack. Turn 2: Mages attack. In turn 2 of the west side, the web-Sylph died. Turn 3: Sylphs attack. One dies. Turn 4: Mage(s) attack. 1 Mage, 2 Sylphs die.
for the East side: Turn 1: Mages attack. Turn 2: Sylphs attack. Turn 3: Mages attack, cause mass dying.

This experiment is by no means perfect, I thought this up and performed it in less than 15 minutes.
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