Gremlin and Master Gremlin
|• Ranged attack|
"Gremlins are indentured to menial labor around a Tower. While they are not great warriors by any standard, they are numerous and willing. Gremlins attack with their attached balls and chains. Master gremlins - those who have proven their loyalty - are cut from their balls and chains and able to hurl them in a ranged attack." RoE manual
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Gremlins should be promoted to Master Gremlins as soon as possible. Master Gremlins are the cornerstone of the Tower faction, being the unit which is used to clear the map in the early game and the only town-aligned level 1 shooter. Basically, since gargoyles have relatively low stats and golems are too slow, the master gremlins are the best candidate for dealing the most of the damage in early battles. They should be surrounded and protected by golems and gargoyles, letting the gremlins do full damage with their ranged attack. However, be aware that they have only 8 shots, but that's enough for early game. Later in the game, they may need to be be replaced by magi, with superior stats.
3-4 Attack and Defense is average for a level 1 creature. 4 Health is on the low end. 4-5 Speed is lowest of all town-aligned level 1 creatures, tied with Pikeman, Troglodyte, Skeleton and Gnoll. However Master Gremlins can shoot, which might mean all the difference in early game battles.
If you have free slots in army, they can be divided into several stacks, so that even if one or two stacks are forced into melee others can keep shooting. Ammo Cart is essential for this "gunline" tactics as they only have 8 shots, and it is produced by Tower's blacksmith.
Gremlins are extremely affected by Bless and Curse spells due to their 1-2 damage spread. Normal Bless and Curse change their damage from average 1,5 to accordingly 2 and 1. Bless spell, when cast with Advanced Water Magic, doubles their damage output, bringing it up from average 1,5 to 3. Since Curse cannot lower damage below 1, it doesn't matter if casting hero has Fire Magic skill.
Because of this extreme variance in damage Mirth, Fortune, good morale and luck in general synergize very well with Gremlins - their lucky strikes and double turns can be devastating, considering that they are a cheap, numerous level 1 troop. Morale and luck are not reliable, though - at best they offer 1/8th chance per action and Gremlins are fragile, so don't rely on these. Precision increases Master Gremlins' ranged attack, while Forgetfulness is a fatal spell against Master Gremlins who are slow and almost useless in melee.
Shield and Stone Skin are obvious protective spells to patch their weak defenses up. Shield has additional benefit of not being Defense buff but damage reduction, and as 3-4 Defense is likely to be below attacker's Attack stat, Shield will likely protect Gremlins better than additional Defense from Stone Skin. Keep in mind that even buffed Master Gremlins are not good melee fighters and should be kept away from melee as long as possible before enemy troops reach your ranks.
Air Shield is the best defense possible for Master Gremlins in ranged duel or for Gremlins advancing under enemy ranged fire. Remember that Air Shield stacks with Stone Skin, but only works against ranged attacks, so replace it with Shield when coming into melee.
Prayer is a decent all-round spell, also increasing their Speed.
Frenzy might or might not be worth it, because if Gremlins are hit when having 0 Defense they are likely to be wiped out. However, if the enemy troops cannot reach Master Gremlins due to walls, obstacles or your melee troops, consider if their generally low Defense will increase their Attack enough to be worth casting Frenzy instead of Precision or Bless.
Master Genies should cast spells on Gremlins if you have Master Genies available, Gremlins are the strongest stack in your army and you somehow do not have Nagas or Titans. As the spells mentioned above are among those cast by Master Genies, there is a good chance of Gremlins getting something beneficial in any situation, even if your hero cannot cast such spell.
Due to their low Health Gremlins are extremely vulnerable to direct damage spells, ranged attacks, and fast creatures. Thus Protection from X spells might be of some use, if not going all-out and casting Anti-magic to ensure your Master Gremlins cannot be dealt with in any other way than brute force.
Because they are usually shielded by Golems and Gargoyles AoE spells & attacks like Fireball, Magog's attack, Lich's death cloud and any type of Dragon can wreak havoc among Gremlins while also targeting other troops, so be careful when facing such opponents.
As cheap creatures with very high growth per week, stacks of Gremlins can be used as fodder to soak up retaliations to protect more valuable units like Master Genies. Don't count on them to survive the retaliation though, so only do so when it's necessary. Similarly they can be used as cheap buffer to shield Magi from melee troops, but Golems are better in this function.
In Restoration of Erathia versions 1.0 and 1.1, the infamous Gremlin Rush strategy was possible, which included repeatedly hiring heroes from the Tavern merely to obtain their Gremlins and upgrade them, then dismiss the heroes. This was patched out in version 1.2 and the expansions by allowing only the first two heroes in a single week to have a full set of troops, and giving a single level 1 unit to the rest.