The only redeeming feature of Artillery skill is that while defending a siege, it gives the defending hero control over the arrow tower(s). Sometimes more valuable than the damage of the towers is the chance of defending hero to cast the first spell in each round. Additionally, heroes with Artillery specialty start with a ballista, which can be useful in the combat as the AI sometimes attacks it wasting an otherwise possibly harmful attack on the "free" ballista. However, purchasing a ballista for this purpose is typically purposeless unless the kingdom has plenty of gold to spare.
The problem with Artillery skill is the ballista, which is not only ineffective but also expensive, weak and possible risk factor during combat. An example of the ineffectiveness is that even if the hero has Expert Artillery, Expert Archery, Attack skill value of 20 and the target is within range, the ballista only deals approximately 200 damage against a neutral stack of Archangel. Moreover, the ballista has only 250 health and acts last during the combat round, which means it may be destroyed in battles even before it can inflict any damage at all. Another major disadvantage of ballista is, that in a combat it may provide creatures with breath attack an opportunity to attack troops behind ballista without fear of retaliation. Not to mention the fact, that ballista is not deployed when attacking creature banks or defending against a siege.
When playing on 200% difficulty (eg., the setting usually reserved for competitive games), players start with minimal resources. In this instance, heroes that start with Artillery can be a godsend, especially if your town lacks ranged units by default and you cannot afford to upgrade units during the first few turns. Because of their large pool of hitpoints, you can kite a single flying stack around, out of danger, while the artillery softens the enemy stacks to the point where your stack can one-shot them.
Hi Kapteeni Ruoska,
Thanks for critically reading the changes I made! I thought I'd create an account, that might be easier :-). I like your edits about how only the defender's ballista is not deployed during sieges, how you simplified 'spellcasting initiative', and your change of 'serious' into 'significant'. I do wonder what you feel is wrong with the argument about Artillery vs. Archery, so that's why I started this discussion page - perhaps we can find a way to word it so that is better than any version so far.
The page now reads: "Even with a hero with Artillery as specialty, the maximum damage of Ballista remains well below a thousand points – even if the hero has Archeryand high attack skill."
A first concern I have here is that the maximum damage per round of a ballista with high attack skill and expert archery (and no other bonuses) is well above a thousand points - it is 3300. A hero with an attack of 99 gives the ballista a maximum base damage of (99+1)x3 = 300. High attack skill adds 900 damage (an attack/defense difference of more than 60 no longer adds any damage), double base damage from the artillery skill adds another 300 damage, 50% archery adds another 150 damage and the second shot adds another 1650 damage for a total of 3300 damage.
More important, however, is that I feel the maximum damage should not be the major question here. To support the statement that Artillery, as a secondary skill, is not so useful, I think it works best here to contrast it against comparable secondary skills and evaluate in what respects or in what situations it is lacking. Put differently, if Artillery is about increasing your army's damage, can we then perhaps compare this increase of damage to the increase of damage as provided by other secondary skills? Archery then comes to mind as a useful comparison standard.
I agree with your argument that the ballista in the late game typically does not inflict a lot of damage (certainly much less than 3300 ;-) ). Creatures usually do a lot more damage, especially as army size grows larger. Archery may therefore be more helpful in increasing this damage. I just added some calculated examples of when Archery starts to exceed the damage output of Artillery. Because in the early game this is often not the case. A level 2 Gurnisson with 5 attack and advanced artillery, for example, on average does 52 damage per round against a bone dragon, which is an increase of 37 damage due to artillery. That is often much more than the increase in damage that Gurnisson might provide with advanced offense or advanced archery to the army he is carrying in early week 1 (e.g., no less than 15 rocs would be needed for advanced offense to do more than 37 extra damage against a bone dragon). This example might also show why Gurnisson (with his high attack skill) was mentioned as an illustration of situations in which Artillery can be useful.
Feel free to let me know what you think so we can see if there is a formulation that would be even better than the ones so far. -Entelechy.
- Ah, excellent arguments! I try to sum up my thoughts. First of all, I would like to mention that I am not a fluent with English, so it is more than probable that my texts contains (a lot of) errors – as you have probably already noticed while fixing my spellings. :) Secondly, what you wrote about the damage of Ballista is (probably) correct. However, before any more discussion, we should define what is "high attack skill". My gut says, that 40 is high value, 60 is extremely high and 99 is maximum. I think it is quite reasonable to assume, that in most of the maps value of 60 is at least difficult to achieve, even with artifacts. So perhaps the text could be phrased differently, but I still argue that the expression "well below a thousand points" is (in most cases) quite accurate - as you said it yourself.
- To make a comparison to another secondary skills is a good idea, and I think the damage of Ballista is the main intrest here. However, in my opinnion it could be phrased differently. A clear comparison should be made, which is of course difficult beacause damage with Archery or Offense is subjected to attacking creature's "strength". Perhaps some kind of graph could be made, that could clearly point out the differencies between these skills. Or perhaps a standard (non-exsisting?) creature could be created to compare different settings. In any case, I would more preferably see these kind of comparisons in tables or other formats rather than in text.
- And lastly, that Gurnisson example is actually quite interesting fact. However, in your text I got an impression that yous should specifically use Gurnisson as a main hero, which raised and question why not use Christian as a secondary hero – if you got my meaning? :) –Kapteeni Ruoska 14:39, 4 July 2014 (CEST)
- Thanks for your thoughts! All valid points, I think, and I even made a graph already! I'll upload it with explanation and some revisions later on when I have more time, after which you are more than welcome to comment of course :-).
- -Entelechy 23:00, 4 July 2014 (CEST)
- Nice to know we are on the "same page" here. :) And that is one wicked table! I have to explore it more closely later. Nice work! –Kapteeni Ruoska 07:36, 7 July 2014 (CEST)
- Great, and thanks for the help with the layout! These are the exact changes I had hoped to make, but did not manage to :-). This includes putting the caption outside the graph, so I'll try to revert back to the original graph without internal caption, so there is no double caption anymore. -Entelechy 09:20, 7 July 2014 (CEST)
Archery vs Artillery
|Explanation: Imagine that on Week 1 Day 2 you have a ballista and 12 Grand Elves (7 from your town and 5 from your heroes). If your hero has 5 attack, would his army deal more damage with Advanced Artillery (e.g., a level 2 Gurnisson) or with Advanced Archery (e.g., a level 2 Jabarkas)? Figure 1 shows that in this case you need at least 17 Grand Elves for Advanced Archery to do more damage than Advanced Artillery on grass (see I). With only 12 Grand Elves and a ballista, Advanced Artillery may in this stage therefore help you most to advance your hero and kingdom. However, imagine that on Week 2 Day 1, you buy 19 extra Grand Elves (14 from your town and 5 from a tavern hero) and that your hero, after gaining some levels, now has an attack of 9. Would this hero with an army of 31 Grand Elves and a ballista benefit more from Expert Artillery or Expert Archery? Figure 1 shows that because this hero has more than 16 Grand Elves, Expert Archery is the better choice here (see II). This demonstrates that later on in most games Artillery rapidly becomes less useful than Archery (or Offense), An exception may be maps on impossible difficulty with insufficient money to recruit extra troops, which allows heroes with Artillery to gain and possibly maintain a notable advantage.
Note: The Figure is also valid for armies with other ranged units than Grand Elves (e.g., 7 Grand Elves on grass equal 8 Medusas on subterranean). Special circumstances such as morale, hero specialties, archery artifacts, spells and ranged units getting killed or blocked during battle are not factored in.
Figure 1: Required Number of Ranged Units for Archery to Deal More Bonus Damage than Artillery Does as a Function of Hero’s Attack and Skill Level.