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IntroductionEdit

As of version 1.1.0.8, this build allows you to beat any camp/party in the game with level 11 stats (no veteran levels) and without any over-powered rare weapons or armour. It will be possible to beat the Black Monolith and the biggest goblin city in a single battle without any retreating or luring, although you can expect around 3-6 casualties (not necessarily fatalities) in these fights.

UPDATE: most of the cunning strategems discussed herein have been "fixed" in the new Beasts & Exploration DLC!

The build also does not require any expensive recruits from professional fighting backgrounds. Hedge knights are ideal for the build if you can afford them, and raiders and sellswords (and squires and militia) can all fit into it with the right traits/talents, but the build can consist entirely of cheap recruits with the right skills/traits/talents. Wildmen with high melee talent are even more ideal than hedge knights, and other talented recruits from higher-fatigue backgrounds can also be very good. Apart from anything else, it just seems more romantic to crush the imperial might of ancient empires with a cut-price band of outcasts ...

No ranged fighters are required for the build, although you can have one or two tag along (or just have someone pretend to be an archer at the start of battle, to discourage orcs from the conceit of adopting a defensive "formation").

No shield or 1-handed specialists are required for the build, although everyone will carry a shield in a spare bag slot and often make use of it on alternate turns (as described in more detail further down). However, it is possible that some of your shield+spear tanks from the early/mid-game could be developed into more defence-oriented troops for this build.

The build revolves around the use of 2-handed weapons, with area-of-effect (AoE) attacks every other turn or consecutive Adrenalized single attacks. Indomitable (with a cost of 3 action points) synergizes with 2-handed AoE attacks, and fatigue is managed/cheated to allow you to have Indomitable active (and to be holding a shield) almost always when you are attacked.

Greatswords are favoured for their AoE capabilities, but the build does not revolve around the use of any single weapon. It favours utilizing the right item in the right context (facilitated by Bags & Belts and Quick Hands). Fatigue is also managed/cheated to spare you from requiring Weapon Mastery.

For beating the Black Monolith and the biggest goblin city, ~300 armours on many/most of your troops are necessary. For most other fights in the game, you can get by with ~200 or even ~150 armours.

Essentials and Underlying PrinciplesEdit

>>The Core Triumvirate: Adrenaline, Recover and Indomitable<< Edit

Adrenaline and Indomitable both carry a big fatigue cost ... so, why not combine them both (and add in every-other-turn AoE attacks with an equally big fatigue cost) in a cunning plan to work around the game's fatigue mechanics?

It seems complicated but actually it's brutally simplistic:

-- disable auto-end turns in the game settings;

-- commence battle;

-- attack (AoE if poss);

-- use Indomitable;

-- repeat until you don't have enough fatigue (by which time you'll usually be at the end of the turn order);

-- use Adrenaline and Recover on the same turn (or just Recover if all the relevant enemies are slow heavies who will then be behind you in the turn order);

-- attack (AoE if poss) and use Indomitable, and repeat ad nauseum.

More fatigue is recovered if you use Adrenaline and then Recover on the same turn. However, only 15 fatigue is recovered each turn, and in big fights you will quickly enter a cycle of starting every other turn with only 15 fatigue available (which is actually an integral part of the build). The honourable thing to do would be to use Recover and then Adrenaline, and to invest even more level rolls into max fatigue (leaving your resolve and HPs vulnerable to priests and poisoned arrows/daggers). However, this build is not about being honourable: it is about fighting cheating bastards at their own game.

>>Cheating Fatigue Management with Heavy Metal Shields: Bags & Belts and Quick Hands versus Brawny, Weapon Mastery and Pathfinder<< Edit

If you have 90 max fatigue in armour while holding a greatsword, and start your turn with 15 fatigue available (75/90), Recover+Adrenaline would give you 37/90 and 62/90 fatigue, lowered to 47/90 fatigue for the start of the next turn - just enough to use an AoE attack with Sword Mastery (70/90) and then use Indomitable (90/90).

On the other hand, with Quick Hands and Bags & Belts, you could carry an orcish Heavy Metal Shield in your pocket, which has a fatigue cost of -22 (10 higher than a greatsword - a point of vital importance).

If, in the above scenario, you had switched from a greatsword to a Heavy Metal Shield at the end of the previous turn, you'd have started the next turn with 65/80 fatigue (even more likely to be at the end of the turn order). In that case, switching back to the greatsword would change your fatigue to 65/90 - just enough to use Adrenaline before Recover (i.e. 90/90, 45/90, 30/90)!

The point of using Adrenaline before Recover is not to recover more fatigue; you'll still end up needing to use Recover every other turn. The point is that it lowers the otherwise massive requirements for max fatigue (while wearing ~300 armours) from values achievable only by elite wildmen (and lucky farmhands/lumberjacks) to ones achievable by most recruits from above-average-fatigue backgrounds.

With Adrenaline used before Recover, you no longer need as much max fatigue, and you don't even need Weapon Mastery (elite wildmen et al may not even need Brawny)! In the above scenario, your max fatigue in armour holding a greatsword could be just 74, and then (having switched to an orc shield) your turn would start at 49/64 fatigue. Switching back to the sword would take it to 49/74 fatigue; using Adrenaline-then-Recover would take it to 74/74 and 37/74 fatigue; 15 fatigue recovered per turn would take it to 22/74 fatigue, meaning that you could use an AoE attack without Mastery (52/74) and use Indomitable (72/74) before switching back to the orc shield (72/64) and starting the subsequent turn with 49/64 once more!

The complicated but brutally simplistic process now looks like this:

-- attack (AoE if poss);

-- use Indomitable;

-- use Quick Hands to switch to a Heavy Metal Shield;

-- starting the next turn at the end of the turn order with 15 fatigue available, switch back to a greatsword (25 fatigue available) and use Adrenaline-then-Recover (or just Recover if all the relevant enemies are slow heavies who will then be behind you in the turn order);

-- attack (AoE if poss), use Indomitable and switch back to a Heavy Metal Shield, and repeat ad nauseum.

Your max fatigue in armour with a greatsword could be as low as 69, and you could still do the above without requiring Sword Mastery. However, 74 is the "magic number", since this allows you to keep using the Adrenaline-Recover-Indomitable trick (using just basic attacks with a fatigue cost of 15) in the worst-case scenario (i.e. your shield gets broken so that you can no longer cheat fatigue - a real possibility in massive fights, even without any axes in sight).

Note: 74 is the "magic number" for max fatigue in armour while holding the heaviest weapon that you might want to use (assuming no Mastery). If you want to use a longaxe/polearm (no Mastery), you'll need 76 fatigue while holding a greatsword; if you want to use a greataxe/warscythe (no Mastery), you'll need 78 fatigue while holding a greatsword; if you want to use a two-handed hammer (no Mastery), you'll need 80 fatigue while holding a greatsword.

Note: only switching from a Heavy Metal Shield to a greatsword (or any 2H weapon with a fatigue cost of -12 or lower) allows you to recover enough fatigue to use Adrenaline before Recover.

Note: with Mastery of your main weapon and only a jagged pike as back-up, 68 is the "magic number".

Note: with Iron Lungs, all of the above-specified fatigue requirements are lowered by 15!

Note: it's still desirable to have a surplus of fatigue above the "magic number" (in the heaviest armour) if possible, since (e.g.) a pool of 90+ fatigue will allow you to use 2 AoE greatsword attacks (no Mastery) either side of Adrenaline and still use Indomitable afterwards (great against bastards like wolfriders and necrosavants).

Note: if you are attacking an opponent who has Riposte active and you have only just enough fatigue for an attack plus Indomitable, always use Indomitable first, because any additional fatigue from a counter-attack will prevent you from being able to use it afterwards!

Without the Pathfinder perk, you cannot:

-- move and attack on standard terrain with a 2-handed weapon (even with Mastery) if you start your turn with only 15 fatigue available;

-- advance 3 tiles (against a range-heavy opponent) and then use Indomitable on tough terrain;

-- change height levels and then attack with a 2-handed weapon on forest/snow terrain;

-- move and then attack with a 2-handed weapon in swamp.

Pathfinder is certainly a nice-to-have perk that makes fighting seem much more efficient. However, most of the downsides of lacking Pathfinder can also be worked around with Bags & Belts, Quick Hands and Heavy Metal Shields. Starting a turn with a Heavy Metal Shield and only 15 fatigue, you can switch to a longaxe/polearm (23 fatigue available), advance 1 tile up/down a level of height on standard terrain (15 fatigue available), and still attack without Weapon Mastery! In the same scenario, switching to a jagged pike allows you to move 2 tiles and attack on normal terrain, or move one tile in swamp (or over a height level in forest/snow) and still attack!

For advancing over tough terrain against crossbow bolts on high ground, having Pathfinder allows you to advance 3 tiles before using Indomitable, so that you are not already exhausted by the time you reach enemy lines. Without Pathfinder, you can advance just 2 tiles over tough terrain before using Indomitable, and possibly have to sustain a round of enemy melee attacks after closing in and before getting to Recover and spam AoE attacks. Alternatively, you can spurn Indomitable during the Advance and trust in ~300 armours, Battle Forged, ~100+ HPs and Heavy Metal Shields to keep you free from injuries. Both approaches can be a bit awkward, but you'll still win in the end, whichever one you choose.

>>Mobility, Risk and Security: Perks for Plan B<< Edit

Although the build is designed to allow you to be Indomitable almost all the time when you are attacked, there are some contexts in which that is not possible (or not advisable) and in which some calculated risk-taking is called for.

Against the Black Monolith, going Berserk to do extra damage (rather than playing safe and using Indomitable) is often inadvisable. It is only for more attack-oriented troops when not threatened by any pikes, warscythes, rhomphaias, khopeshes or crypt cleavers (or for moving into position for a subsequent AoE attack after already using Indomitable).

Against goblin cities, you will be trapped in nets and vines. If you remain trapped, everyone will end up perpetually cursed, will have a much harder time hitting with AoE attacks, will be much more vulnerable to bolts and poisoned arrows and puncturing daggers, and will not be able to close in upon the source of their suffering (the shamans). If you get poisoned, you won't have enough action points (APs) to Recover for several turns, and will have to choose between attacks and Indomitable and/or between Indomitable and keeping hold of a shield. In either case, the risk of sustaining injuries and remaining poisoned is much greater.

With the Berserk perk, you can potentially use 4 of your 7 remaining APs to break free from nets/vines, and then either advance further towards the shamans or use Indomitable or unleash a wardog to distract them (whichever seems best in the context). If not trapped in nets/vines, you can potentially use 4 of your 7 APs after Berserk to advance towards the shamans, and then either use Indomitable or advance even further (trusting in armour, Battle Forged, HPs and a shield to keep you relatively safe for a while). Once you're free from nets/vines, shamans usually prioritize vines over curses, meaning that you'll probably get a chance to launch an AoE attack (and go Berserk and break free from any new vines) before being cursed.

Ironically, for the above reasons, the Berserk and Battle Forged perks are more important against goblin cities than against the Black Monolith (against which they are mere options). They (along with Colossus, which is also vital for preventing injuries in other contexts, such as attacking uphill against crossbow bolts) allow you to take calculated risks in situations in which you need to be mobile.

The importance of high HPs and Colossus cannot be stressed enough. This is especially so for the early/mid-game, before you have access to Indomitable. Indomitable allows you to tank a remarkable amount of hits from nasty weapons with minimal HP loss, but there will still be occasional contexts in which you are attacked without Indomitable active, or in which you are still in peril despite having it active (e.g. hits from orcish Mansplitters and Berserk Chains, vs ~300 intact armours with Battle Forged and with Indomitable active, still do enough HP damage to injure those without ~100+ HPs).

>>The Pros and Cons of Two-Handed Hammers<< Edit

Two-handed hammers are the quickest means of dealing with orc warriors/warlords, ancient honour guards, fallen heroes and any other heavily armoured opponents.

The downside is that their basic attack staggers those same opponents, so that they are likely to still be behind you in the turn order when you need to Recover, and will get an opportunity to inflict damage when you are not Indomitable (as well as imposing additional fatigue that may prevent you from being able to launch an AoE attack and use Indomitable on your subsequent turn).

Two-handed hammers are never used as the primary weapon in this build, but they are still good to use for initial attacks against heavily armoured opponents. After a good hit removing much of the armour, you can switch to a greatsword. If you still end up needing to Recover when they are staggered and behind you in the turn order, you can choose whether to cheat the game's fatigue mechanics (e.g. switch from shield to greatsword, use Indomitable, switch back to the shield and wait turn to guarantee that you'll be last in the turn order next time) or whether to just attack/Recover (a decent option against an orc warrior at breaking morale with a damaged shoulder, but more risky against an enraged berserker, a possessed fallen hero or an honour guard wielding a crypt cleaver).

Attack-Oriented Troop VariantEdit

For recruits with 2/3 talent stars for melee skill. Ideally, they will also have talent/traits to boost melee defence and HPs/resolve/fatigue.

For most fights other than the Black Monolith and the biggest goblin city, these ones can be kept back from the melee (until they wish to join it) and can potentially wear lighter armour to give them a high working pool of fatigue. This will allow them to spend several consecutive turns spamming Adrenaline against high-initiative enemies at the start of battle (e.g. necrosavants, wolfriders, direwolves, raiders, bounty hunters, berserkers). In most cases, their enemies will already be fleeing/maimed/dead by the time they need to Recover.

Note: some of them can get away with ~200 armours in the Black Monolith (possibly even ~150 ones if they're lucky), but it's better to wear the heaviest armours, since they're sure to get surrounded by nasty weapons at some point. A working fatigue value of 75+ will allow 3 consecutive turns of Adrenalized pike attacks (no Mastery) against necrosavants, and a value of 88+ will allow 4 such attacks using jagged pikes.

For fights in which you need to advance against dangerous ranged opponents, these troops can advance to the line, use Adrenaline, and take out the threat with sword splits (subsequently using Indomitable to mitigate any remaining threat to themselves, or going Berserk if it seems safe to do additional damage).

Although a Weapon Mastery is not required, it is tempting to give them Axe Mastery in the early/mid-game, since this allows efficient preliminary shield-breaking vs skeletons, raiders etc. It's also tempting if they have the Brute trait, since greataxes (and woodcutting axes) guarantee a head-hit with their basic Split Man attack. If they also have no talent for melee defence, Strange Mushrooms are manna from heaven.

Note: in certain contexts, crypt cleavers and warbrands/rhomphaias (or high-damage 1-handed weapons) make useful back-up items, since they allow taking kills with 4 APs and using the regained APs (via Berserk) to Recover.

>>Stats at Level 11<< Edit

HP: at least ~100 with Colossus

Resolve: at least ~60 (hopefully without Fortified Mind)

Initiative: as low as possible (you want to be at the end of the turn order when you need to Recover)

Max Fatigue (geared): at least 74 in armour while holding the heaviest weapon (or 68 with Sword Mastery and a back-up jagged pike), but reduced by 15 with Iron Lungs

Max Fatigue (base): from 116 (230/300 head/body armour with Brawny and Sword Mastery and with a back-up jagged pike) to 154 (300/320 head/body armour without Brawny or a Mastery and with a back-up two-handed hammer) via 127 (280/300 head/body armour with Brawny, without a Mastery and with a back-up longaxe/polearm) and 139-145 (280/300 head/body armour with Brawny, Polearm Mastery and the intention to reap enemy archers/pikes into submission), but with each value reduced by 15 with Iron Lungs

Melee Skill: ~80+ and ideally ~90+ (take at every level)

Ranged Skill: n/a

Melee Defence: ~15 (always take +3s; never take +1s)

Ranged Defence: nice to have, but only take +3s when none of the more vital stats are high/needed

>>Essential Perks<< Edit

Adrenaline

Recover

Bags & Belts

Quick Hands

Colossus

Battle Forged

Indomitable

Berserk

>>Probable Perks<< Edit

Brawny

>>Possible Perks<< Edit

Killing Frenzy (but bear in mind that Strange Mushrooms freely give a similar bonus for 3 turns)

Fortified Mind

Pathfinder

Sword/Axe/Polearm Mastery

Footwork

Underdog (only if melee defence is ~25+)

>>Recommended Traits<< Edit

Dextrous

Sure Footed

Tough

Strong

Iron Lungs

Athletic

Brave/Fearless

Deathwish

Optimist

Drunkard/Brute

Hesitant

>>Recommended Permanent Injury<< Edit

Brain Damage

>>Ideal Recruits<< Edit

Wildmen

Hedge Knights

>>Potential Recruits<< Edit

Lumberjacks

Brawlers

Farmhands

Messengers

Graverobbers

Cultists

Vagabonds with traits/talents to boost resolve

Sellswords/raiders with traits/talents to boost fatigue

Skilled/talented squires/militia

Any average background with high-range melee skill and the right traits/talents (e.g. daytalers, millers, gravediggers, caravan hands, fishermen, butchers)

>>Example Recruits (Attack-Oriented)<< Edit

New-Recruits 02

Recruits with talent for melee skill plus skills/talents/traits to boost max fatigue, HPs and resolve.

Defence-Oriented Troop VariantEdit

For recruits with 2/3 talent stars for melee defence. Ideally, they will also have talent/traits to boost melee skill and HPs/resolve/fatigue.

This troop could develop from an early/mid-game shield+spear tank (hence some of the "possible" perks) and should always be in the heaviest armour possible. For fights against dangerous hordes of enemies (e.g. the Black Monolith and goblin cities), these ones should be positioned around the front, back and flanks of the formation to guard less defence-oriented allies against the onslaughts of ancient pikes and poisoned arrows.

>>Stats at Level 11<< Edit

HP: at least ~100 with Colossus

Resolve: at least ~60 (hopefully without Fortified Mind)

Initiative: as low as possible (you want to be at the end of the turn order when you need to Recover)

Max Fatigue (geared): at least 74 in armour while holding the heaviest weapon (or 68 with Sword Mastery and a back-up jagged pike), but reduced by 15 with Iron Lungs

Max Fatigue (base): from 116 (230/300 head/body armour with Brawny and Sword Mastery and with a back-up jagged pike) to 154 (300/320 head/body armour without Brawny or a Mastery and with a back-up two-handed hammer) via 127 (280/300 head/body armour with Brawny, without a Mastery and with a back-up longaxe/polearm) and 139-145 (280/300 head/body armour with Brawny, Polearm Mastery and the intention to reap enemy archers/pikes into submission), but with each value reduced by 15 with Iron Lungs

Melee Skill: ~75+ (always take +3s; never take +1s)

Ranged Skill: n/a

Melee Defence: ~30+ and ideally ~40+ (take at every level)

Ranged Defence: nice to have, but only take +3s when none of the more vital stats are high/needed

>>Essential Perks<< Edit

Adrenaline

Recover

Bags & Belts

Quick Hands

Colossus

Battle Forged

Indomitable

Underdog

>>Probable Perks<< Edit

Brawny

>>Possible Perks<< Edit

Berserk

Fortified Mind

Pathfinder

Sword/Axe/Polearm Mastery

Rotation

Shield Expert (if built from an early/mid-game shield+spear tank)

Spear Mastery (if built from an early/mid-game shield+spear tank)

>>Recommended Traits<< Edit

Dextrous

Sure Footed

Tough

Strong

Iron Lungs

Athletic

Brave/Fearless

Deathwish

Optimist

Hesitant

>>Recommended Permanent Injury<< Edit

Brain Damage

>>Ideal Recruits<< Edit

Any potential recruit with 2/3 talent stars for melee defence

>>Potential Recruits<< Edit

Hedge Knights

Wildmen

Lumberjacks

Brawlers

Farmhands

Messengers

Graverobbers

Cultists

Vagabonds with traits/talents to boost resolve

Sellswords/raiders with traits/talents to boost fatigue

Gamblers/thieves with traits/talents to boost fatigue

Skilled/talented squires/militia

Any average background with the right traits/talents (e.g. daytalers, millers, gravediggers, caravan hands, fishermen, butchers)

>>Example Recruits (Defence-Oriented or "Elite Guards")<< Edit

New-Recruits 01

Recruits with high skill/talent for melee defence and max fatigue, along with skill/talents/traits to boost melee skill, HPs and resolve.

"Elite Guard" Troop VariantEdit

Basically a combination of the attack- and defence-oriented variants, with high skill/talent for both melee attack and defence, as well as sufficient skill/talent/traits to get HPs/resolve/fatigue to good values.

These are ideal for positioning at the most vulnerable points in your formation. Against the Black Monolith, they can guard the rear and hopefully make quick work of the necrosavants.

Sergeant Troop VariantEdit

Vital against geists and ancient priests. Can be built similarly to the other troops or can be quite distinct. Can be just a banner-holder or can serve another role as well (e.g. reaping, shield-breaking, axe-throwing or rotating/positioning/rescuing). Attack/defence skills are nice to have, but resolve and fatigue are the priorities, and a high pool of HPs is very important as well (especially if there's no back-up sergeant).

>>Stats at Level 11<< Edit

HP: at least ~100 with Colossus

Resolve: at least ~120 with Fortified Mind

Initiative: n/a

Max Fatigue: almost as high as possible (but feel free to ignore +2s)

Melee Skill: nice to have, but not as important as resolve, fatigue and HPs

Ranged Skill: n/a unless you want to make a hybrid sergeant/thrower (thrown axes being fully effective vs skeletons)

Melee Defence: nice to have, but not as important as resolve, fatigue and HPs

Ranged Defence: nice to have, but lower in priority than melee skill/defence

>>Essential Perks<< Edit

Fortified Mind

Rally the Troops

Colossus

Brawny

Recover

Battle Forged

Indomitable

>>Probable Perks<< Edit

Bags and Belts

Quick Hands

>>Possible Perks<< Edit

Adrenaline

Rotation

Footwork

Pathfinder

Polearm/Axe/Throwing Mastery

Underdog (only if melee defence is ~25+)

Nine Lives

>>Recommended Traits<< Edit

Brave/Fearless

Drunkard

Iron Lungs

Strong

Athletic

Tough

Hesitant

Dextrous

Sure Footed

>>Recommended Permanent Injury<< Edit

Brain Damage

>>Ideal Recruits<< Edit

Cultists

Wildmen

>>Potential Recruits<< Edit

Brawlers

Squires

Anyone with 40+ starting resolve and 2/3 talent stars

Tactics/Formation vs Black Monolith and Ancient DeadEdit

This section is specifically about fighting the Black Monolith, although it is also relevant to fighting other large, pike-heavy parties of ancient dead accompanied by priests and necrosavants.

It is best to position 3 defence-oriented troops at the front of your formation, one in the centre and the others on the flanks. Ideally you'll have 2 "Elite Guards" whom you can position to the rear (4th row), guarding the sergeant (3rd row) and some of the more attack-oriented troops (2nd row) from direct melee engagement, and hopefully making quick work of the necrosavants.

To the flanks of your 3rd row (level with the defence-oriented troops on the flanks of the 1st row, or maybe tucked in next to the sergeant) should be 2 troops who are either "Elite Guards" or defence-oriented (or intermediate between the two). They'll need high defence if they are to be set-out a tile to protect the attack-oriented troops from pike exposure, since this will mean that they could be in range of up to 5 pikes. On the other hand, if both they and the attack-oriented troops on either flank of the 2nd row both have ~25-30 melee defence, you might tuck them in next to the sergeant (so that they and the attack-oriented flank troops are both potentially in range of 3 pikes). Note that, while both could potentially be exposed to 5 pikes, it is the left-hand flank-guarding position that is most vulnerable (and most in need of high defence), since that is the side from which the additional horde of honour guards will approach. Note also that higher melee skill is desirable for these positions, since they (along with the "Elite Guards" at the rear) are more likely to be engaged by necrosavants.

Hex-Forms 01 Monolith-Pike-Exposure

Formation for fighting the Black Monolith, showing pike exposure of each troop.

Note that the defence-oriented troop at the centre of the 1st row will potentially be exposed to only 3 pikes, whereas those on the flanks of the 1st row will potentially be exposed to 6 (if the 3rd-row flank-guards are set-out) or even 7. The 3rd-row flank-guards will be potentially exposed to 5 pikes (set-out) or 3 (set-in). The attack-oriented troops on the flanks of the 2nd row will be potentially exposed to 3 (if the former are set-in) or just 1, and the sergeant and the two interior attacking troops will not be exposed to any. The "Elite Guards" at the back will be exposed to 4 (set-out flank-guards) or 5.

The formation is set up, not only to guard the attack-oriented troops on the 2nd row from pikes, but also to create perfect sword-splitting angles for them (along with additional surround bonuses against bastard skeletons spamming shieldwall). However, once the necrosavants have moved in, the initial role of these attack-oriented troops may well be to arm with pikes and use Adrenaline to try to kill off necrosavants before they can do much damage. If the 3rd-row flank-guards are set-out a tile from the formation, it may be possible for some of the attack-oriented troops to move a tile, attack, use Adrenaline, attack again, and then move back into formation. Alternatively, using goblin jagged pikes allows them to move, attack, and move back on the same turn, albeit with a smaller hit bonus (+5).

Note: as a general rule, those troops of each type with more HPs, more resolve and more melee defence should be positioned towards the left-hand side of your formation (where exposure to miasma, horrifying, honour guards and ancient pikes is likely to be greatest).

Note: although pikes are only semi-effective against skeletons, skeletons don't have many HPs to start with and ancient pikes are good against armour, and the bonus to hit-chance (+10) is valuable against necrosavants.

It is a bad idea to wantonly unleash wardogs. This can have the adverse effect of allowing necrosavants to regain HPs (and/or encouraging them to teleport away from a position of peril). Wardogs should only be unleashed in specific contexts in which there's a very good chance of them being able to finish off necrosavants (whose Nine Lives have expired) or increasing the surround bonus for someone else to finish them off. Later in the battle, once the necrosavants are gone, it can be situationally useful to unleash wardogs so that the enemy will attack them in preference to any of your human troops who may be getting short on armour and/or HPs (or who may be temporarily horrified and thus not Indomitable).

Once the necrosavants are gone and the original melee thins out, you'll move some of your "Elite Guards" and defence-oriented troops (whichever ones still have the most armour and HPs) towards the throngs of honour guards around the ancient priests, keeping Indomitable active as often as possible when under attack. Note: shielded honour guards are one of the rare enemies that are liable to still be behind you in the turn order when you need to Recover (another reason why Colossus and Battle Forged make important Plan B perks).

Hopefully, your attack-oriented troops will be able to keep free from unwanted melee engagements, Recover in safety and pick and choose when and how best to engage/dispatch your remaining foes. Sometimes it's best to remain behind the lines, removing tower shields in pairs with longaxes (or throwing nets over shieldwallers) and/or attacking with a 2-tile weapon of choice. Other times it's best (after recovering) to wait turn and then move into position for a greatsword AoE attack, not needing to use Adrenaline to remain ahead of your foes in the turn order, and retaining fatigue for Indomitable and/or Berserk (whichever seems best in the context).

Note: once the necrosavants are gone, using Recover on its own is likely to leave you ahead of any opponents wielding anti-armour weapons. Sword-wielding legionaries may or may not remain ahead of you.

Note: the extra APs from Berserk can potentially be used to move 2 tiles (into position for a subsequent attack) and then use Indomitable.

Ironically, your "Elite Guards" and more defence-oriented troops (especially those to the left of the formation) are the ones who are more likely to die in this fight. The attack-oriented ones are more likely to survive, even if you let them wear relatively "light" armours.

Tactics/Formation vs Goblin CitiesEdit

This section is primarily about fighting the largest city occupied by 47 goblins, but it is also relevant to fighting other large goblin parties accompanied by overseers and shamans. Note, however, that other goblin parties in camps/cities will adopt defensive positions and wait for you to advance.

As with the Monolith fight, it is a good idea to position your troops with the highest melee defence towards the flanks of your main formation. It will not be feasible to adopt a more exact formation with 3 or 4 tiers, since people will be trapped in vines and will need to work their way towards the shamans after breaking free. However, it can be a good idea to leave one troop isolated on the extremity of your right flank, probably free from being vined in the first round. One other troop can be immune to netting and vines via the Goblin Trophy.

Note: start the battle with shields in hands.

In the first round of battle, the wolfriders and skirmishers will advance towards your line and the shamans will trap most of your troops in vines, and (despite the fact that the RNG is definitely not bugged in any way, shape or form) one of the overseers will even-more-definitely hit someone with a crossbow bolt to the head (after whipping many of the ambushers and skirmishers into a state of confidence along with his colleagues).

The response of your troops should be as follows:

-- if you're in position for an AoE or single attack, either attack and use Adrenaline (and hope to break the vines on the next turn) or try to break the vines (probable success) and then use Adrenaline;

-- if you're not in position for an AoE or single attack, try to break the vines (probable success) and then move into position for an AoE attack (or a pike attack) and use Adrenaline;

-- if you aren't be able to position for an attack after breaking the vines, try to move back out of vine/crossbow range (from where you may be able to move in and use Adrenaline on the next turn);

-- if you fail to break the vines and aren't in position for an attack, use Indomitable.

In the second round, many of your attacks will injure and demoralize wolfriders and skirmishers and some of them will be killed. Some of you will go Berserk and get extra APs to play with. Instead of being over-cautious and using Indomitable while remaining static in the same position, take every opportunity to advance towards the overseers, shamans and ambushers and/or to position yourself for subsequent AoE attacks. Use extra APs to advance, break vines, inflict additional damage/casualties or unleash wardogs as seems best. Don't wantonly unleash wardogs; only unleash them if they stand a chance to kill a demoralized/maimed goblin and/or if they can close in and distract the overseers, shamans and ambushers. End your turn with shield in hand, but only use Indomitable if you can do so after advancing forwards (or if you fail to go Berserk and are still vined). Some of your troops, acting after others have already killed goblins or put them into fleeing morale, may get an opportunity to advance 3-4 tiles forwards into close range of overseers, shamans and ambushers, using Adrenaline and then closing in and using Indomitable on their subsequent turn (they'll probably be vined and cursed, and the overseers may shoot bolts at close quarters). This chance should be taken.

The above principles should be followed in all the subsequent rounds:

-- end turns with a shield in hand;

-- take opportunities to break nets/vines with free APs (unless there are better opportunities for attacks);

-- take opportunities to advance into melee/split/pike range of overseers, shamans and ambushers;

-- keep an eye open (when fresh) for opportunities to advance, use Adrenaline, move into melee/split/pike range of overseers, shamans and ambushers, and then use Indomitable;

-- use wardogs opportunely to kill/engage maimed/fleeing foes and/or to distract overseers, shamans and ambushers;

-- use Indomitable whenever you are in nets/vines and have only 3 APs left after attacking, and try to keep it active whenever you are attacked while cursed (and once you are already in attack range of overseers and/or shamans).

Remember that shamans mostly prioritize vining you when you are not already vined, and that taking opportunities to break vines will reduce the time you spend under curses.

Remember that you can't hang back in vines and under curses for ever, no matter how Indomitable you are. You must advance and kill the shamans.

Remember to keep an eye open for when a curse is set to last for just one more round (i.e. the current round), because then any Adrenalized attack (or net/vine-breaking attempt) at the start of the next round will be non-cursed.

Tactics/Formation vs Orc Camps and Large Orc Parties with Warriors/WarlordsEdit

Orc fights are the one fight in which it is often not a good idea to make much use of Heavy Metal Shields, since axe-wielding orcs can still make fairly short work of them (i.e. 3 hits with a 1-handed axe). You can even consider disdaining shields and wearing lighter ~200 armours to give yourself more max fatigue for AoE'ing without needing to "cheat" the game's fatigue mechanics. On the other hand, basic single attacks with 2H weapons are very effective against orc warriors/warlords, and so you should be fine so long as you have at least 74 fatigue in the heaviest armour while holding your heaviest weapon (as specified in the section about "Cheating Fatigue Management"). AoE attacks are mostly useful in the early rounds for killing/maiming/demoralizing berserkers and the young.

Note: without any item-switching trickery, 104 in-gear max fatigue (89 with Iron Lungs) allows you to AoE with a greatsword every other turn without Mastery, and 90 (75 with Iron Lungs) allows you to AoE every other turn with Mastery. Without Mastery, 90+ allows you (at the start of battle) to double-AoE around Adrenaline and then use Indomitable. After sole use of Recover against heavy/slow opponents, a higher pool a fatigue leaves more scope for subsequent AoE'ing.

Hex-Forms Orc-Camps-01

Example orc formation 01

Unlike for the Monolith fight, in which you must be wary of ancient pikes, you can use a whole front line of troops with high/decent melee defence, with a second line of more attack-oriented ones behind to spam Adrenaline attacks against berserkers and youngs. You might want to leave one or two free tiles in the centre of your front line, to create sword-splitting opportunities for the back line (and so that the flanks of the back line are inside those of the front line). It is a good idea (especially when outnumbered by 2- or 3-to-1 or more) to have an "Elite Guard" on each flank of the front line and one on (or set-out just behind) each flank of the back line, to engage/intercept any pockets of out-flankers. Adjacent attack-oriented troops can then attack the intercepted from relative safety.

Hex-Forms Orc-Camps-02

Example orc formation 02

Hex-Forms Orc-Camps-03

Example orc formation 03

If necessary, have one troop pretend to be an archer at the start of battle so that the orcs advance instead of trying to adopt a defensive "formation" and forcing you to advance.

Once the berserkers and young have moved into charge range on their first turn, use Indomitable on everyone who has a chance of being charged/stunned (anyone on the backline with a chance to be charged/stunned can just move back a tile instead).

Once the berserkers and young have charged/advanced in round 2, wait turn until the warriors and warlord have advanced (unless a berserker/young in charge range has waited turn, in which case use Indomitable before waiting turn). Once all the orcs have moved, attack if possible (prioritizing the berserkers) and use Adrenaline (if you haven't already used fatigue on Indomitable) and attack again at the start of the next turn and then use Indomitable.

Remember to be vigilant for the threat of charges/stunning, and to keep Indomitable active in the face of it. Sometimes it is best to leave injured/demoralized orc young alive so that others behind them do not have an opportunity to charge/stun.

Once all the berserkers are gone, your troops who are directly engaged in melee should focus on the warriors and warlord (and on any young using orcish axes or cleavers). Single attacks with 2H weapons are highly effective against warriors/warlords (especially if an initial attack comes via a 2H hammer or greataxe). Troops behind the lines can use longaxes/polearms to dispatch the remaining young on Berserk turns.

Note: although staggered warriors/warlords may on occasions be after you in the turn order when you don't have enough fatigue for both an attack and Indomitable, the efficiency of hammer attacks against armour means that those warriors/warlords will have a very short life expectancy, and that taking the risk of a new attack with a greatsword will be likely to leave them maimed/demoralized/dead.

Note: shield-breaking is a bad tactic against orc warriors/warlords. They are easy enough to hit even in shieldwall. Shield-breaking merely wastes time/energy and guarantees that (instead of shieldwalling) they will launch two attacks with double-grip (which can do significant armour damage even against Indomitable and Battle Forged).

The complicated but actually brutally simplistic approach detailed in the "Core Triumvirate" section was honed through practice at fighting orc camps, and is most beautifully effective against them.

Orc warriors/warlords (non-staggered) usually have enough initiative to be ahead of you in the turn order on turns when you need to Recover, and will again be after you in the turn order if you just use Recover on its own. Combined use of Adrenaline and Recover is only necessary with lighter orcs about.

Keeping Indomitable active whenever attacked not only reduces damage from nasty orcish weapons (if they can manage to hit you) but also prevents berserkers/young from charging/stunning you and warriors/warlords from auto-knocking you out of formation. Orcs are easy to hit and, with these hazards mitigated, your victory is assured.

Although much has been made of "cheating" the game's mechanics, that is not actually necessary against orcs (nor against almost every other fight in the game with level 11 stats and standard gear). It is necessary only against the Black Monolith and the biggest goblin city (and it really feels gratifying against them).