Artillery is a secondary skill that gives the hero manual control over war machine Ballista during combat and control over the arrow towers when defending a town during siege. Basic Artillery provides a 50% chance that ballista inflicts double damage. For Advanced Artillery this is a 75% chance and for Expert Artillery a 100% chance. Advanced and Expert Artillery also enable the ballist to shoot twice in a row, instead of once.
Heroes with Artillery as a starting skill:
- Arlach the Overlord – Basic Artillery
- Christian the Knight – Basic Artillery
- Gerwulf the Beastmaster – Basic Artillery
- Gurnisson the Barbarian – Basic Artillery
- Ignissa the Planeswalker – Basic Artillery
- Pasis the Planeswalker – Basic Artillery
- Pyre the Demoniac – Basic Artillery
- Vokial the Death Knight – Basic Artillery
- Zubin the Battle Mage – Basic Artillery
- Ranloo the Death Knight - Basic Artillery *HotA
- Jeremy the Captain - Basic Artillery *HotA
Heroes with Ballista as specialty:
- Arlach the Overlord
- Christian the Knight
- Gerwulf the Beastmaster
- Gurnisson the Barbarian
- Pyre the Demoniac
- Torosar the Alchemist *Does not start with the skill Artillery.
- Ranloo the Death Knight *HotA
- Jeremy the Captain *HotA *Cannon instead of Ballista.
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.