Thugs and Super Combatants ("SCs") are single commander type units that are used to meet a strategic or tactical role. Thugs are typically lighter units with a more economical design capable of meeting one role where ordinary troops might suffer greater attrition, cost too much, lack flexibility, or otherwise fail to be sufficiently effective.
Common roles include:
- PD raiding, benefits from sailing/flying/stealth. This is what most people think of when they hear "thug." This role is the most versatile in terms of builds: Can be done by summon thugs and or light combat thugs. Four examples include:
- Vanjarl with a frost brand, mistform, and decent bless
- Starchild with a water bottle scripted to cast body ethereal
- Smith with a Fire Jar scripted to cast Phoenix Pyre, Summon Earth Power, Attack
- Vampire Lord scripted to soul vortex, attack closest.
- Raider intercepter - similar to pd-killer except magical movement becomes much more important, and they usually need to be a bit tougher to take out whatever beast is doing the raiding. The Vanjarl can fulfill this role because cloud trapeze lets it hit most units before they escape.
- Tailored unit counters. Units designed to take out a very specific enemy threat. The most common is a commander with copper plate and a frost brand smashing spring hawk thrones, or a Bane Lord with a Golden Hoplon (+15 FR) butchering magma children.
- Anti-SC: A fast thug with a nasty weapon (Star of heroes, dusk dagger, axe of hate, blood axe, Flambeau, bow of botulf) might fulfill this role. Not designed to kill many units, but to murder or cripple especially tough targets.
- Heavy thug: Tough unit able to provide a potent role in a pitched battle. Built with multiple defensive roles in mind, while offense is provided by supporting units. Might include a Marble Oracle with Eye and Vine Shields, or an Enlarged triple regeneration ethereal Skratti intended to soak Stellar Cascades while surviving a pitched battle.
- SC: Tailor-made to drop on an enemy army and flatten it. Traditionally, this could stand for either Super Caster OR Super Combatant; it's any tough, gamechanging piece to drop on an army. Keep that in mind for when you get a Tartarian capable of dropping Soul Drain before wading into melee. Or rain of stone cyclops. Titan pretenders often provide a chassis for this early on. Forester Bob is the classic example.
Buffs and Key Spells Edit
Buffs can be cast by other spellcasters, or by the unit itself.
Spell Buffs Edit
Almost all strategies rely on active battle magic to make the unit more powerful. Here is catalogued some principle options for this enhancement.
- Fire Resistance, f1 (Ench 1?) Cold Resistance, f1 (Alt 1): Useful v elemental damage, auras.
- Fire Shield, f1 (Ench 1): Crowd Control. Excellent v. phantasms, useful against skeletons.
- Phoenix Pyre, f2 (Alt 6): If ‘killed’ reappears on the battlefield to fight again unless fatigue >100. Gains significant fatigue and chance of afflictions each time.
- Lightning Resist, a1 (Ench 1) Useful v electric damage
- Mistform, A2 (Alt 4) Useful at significantly reducing physical damage. Countered by magical damage. Ignored by damage-over-time such as poison and combustion.
- Arrow shield, (Ench 0) Useful when raiding against archers, avoiding bow of botulf
- Flight, A1 (Alt3). Useful for thug duels or hitting specific targets on the battlefield.
- Cloud Trapeze, A2 (Ritual, Ench 4): Not a buff, but a fantastic maneuverability spell.
- Fire/Cold resistance. Ench 1 and Alt 1: Useful v elemental damage, auras.
- Liquid Body: Reduces strength and speed, halves typed physical damage, reduces afflictions by 70%.
- Quicken Self: Doubled actions, +3 Attack/Defense Stacks well with lifedrain weapons. Primarily offense
- Breath of Winter: Creates a freezing stun aura. Good for CC, but doesn’t do damage.
- Summon Earthpower: Besides being a booster, comes with free reinvigoration.
- Stoneskin/Ironskin: Increase natural protection to 15/20, with cold/lightning vulnerability, respectively.
- Temper Flesh: +5 fire resistance, slashing and piercing resist.
- Iron Will: +Magic Resistance
- Ground Self: + Lightning resistance
- Body Ethereal: Ignores damage from 3/4 of all nonmagical attacks.
- Teleport: S3 ritual that allows the caster to move 6 provinces in the magic phase.
- Stygian Skin/Invulnerability: Nonmagical damage uses the invulnerability score in place of natural protection.
- Skeletal Body: Piercing resistance
- Soul Vortex: Creates an aura that does AN, MR negates lifedrain damage. This functions both as crowd-control and to regain health and fatigue.
- Personal Regen. Stacks with other sources of regeneration, adds 80% affliction resistance.
- Barkskin: Increases natural protection to 10, adds 5 fire vulnerability. Useful early for buttressing mistform or armor, but the chance of combustion from fire damage creates a large vulnerability.
- Elemental Resistance: 5 fire, cold, and lightning resistance.
Blessings may be added by prophetizing a unit, blessing a sacred unit, or by equipping a unit with a Shroud (see below). Although your thugs and SC's benefit from all blessings, they tend to benefit the most from defensive boosts since keeping your investment alive is important and because they largely deal with units through AoE weapon or spell effects. Generally the most useful blessings in this regard are Nature, Earth, and Water blessings, in that order of utility.
The Major bless is extremely useful for thugs and SC's as a source of regeneration. An N9 bless stacks with other sources of regeneration, and is the only option for lifeless combatants. Regeneration also provides 80% resistance to afflictions, which helps keep your kitted out combatants in peak condition.
Earth: Minor Reinvigoration +2 (+1 for even ranks), Major Protection +5Edit
The minor bless provides reinvgoration, which helps manage fatigue The Major bless gives a flat +5 protection, which can be very useful against many, weak attacks (such as province defense or small armies). This stacks with other sources of reinvigoration, but the protection bonus is subject to the marginal returns problem common for protection stacking.
Water: Minor Defense +2 (+1 for even ranks), Major Quickness (Move/Attack Twice for every other turn)Edit
Quickness minor increases defense, which is useful with other defensive evasion buffs. Quickness major can cause fatigue problems, but is great on 0 encumberance thugs and those using lifedrain weapons. It does not stack with magical quickness, bu does stack with heroic quickness.
Gearing Supercombatants and thugs is great Fun! It’s also somewhat confusing. How many gems do I spend on thugs? Exactly how important is Regeneration? There are other weapons besides frost brands? Why are helmet slots so terrible? All these questions and more will be answered!
- Fun may or may not be included with each purchase.
- Items can only be wielded by one unit at a time.
- Units will not pick up items midbattle.
- Items can only be equipped by the commander
Weapons (1-handed) Edit
The important ones:
- Fire Brand/Frost Brand (11 and 1) – Your bread-and-butter weapons. They are excellent at chaff clearing, and solid single-combat weapons due to high damage and attack stats. The frost brand is cheaper, but the aoe effect is cold based, and therefore ineffective against undead. The firebrand is more expensive, but affects somewhat more units, and is a better single-target weapon due to armor piercing. They also provide +5 resistance to their respective elements.
- Duskdagger (11) – This weapon ignores armor, and works best with quickened thugs with decent strength and attack stats. It is one of your go-to anti-sc weapons, and the only effective defenses are piercing resistance and high native defense, as the weapon will ignore shield parries.
- Axe of Hate (2) – Inflicts roughly 20 fatigue with each hit that lands. Fatigue absolutely ruins SCs. You have to hit to be effective, so attack skill is necessary to make these work. They’re also easily accessible, because everyone can get N1 indies and you can probably trade for a thistle mace at some point.
- Vine Whip (2) – This one is a bit hit or miss. It entangles the target if it hits, and targets have to spend a round breaking entangling roots. This weapon effectively stunlocks it's target. As with most status effect weapons it requires you to hit the target, so keep in mind that it’s not a guaranteed fix.
- Flesh Eater (1) – Causes your dude to go berserk (most notable in this context for making you ignore awe and fear effects) and inflicts a chest wound on damage, which is a problem for SCs that are concerned about encumbrance (all living ones without soul vortex).
Notable mentions: Edit
Axe of Sharpness/Sword of Sharpness (1) – They’re fairly weak weapons overall, but they are armor piercing and don’t require any construction. If you need to get rid of a target with high protection in the early game, and have a thug or somewhat survivable target to throw it on, this is one of your go to weapons.
Star of Heroes (2) - A high attack, high damage weapon that is designed for anti thug/SC use. It has a "destroy armor" effect on hit that can even affect magic armor. The higher the construction level of the armor, the more likely it is to survive. Can destroy one piece of armor/hit.
Herald Lance (2) – This provides several roles. First, on a troop leader, it increases morale. Second, if you choose not to enter melee, you can use it to cast solar rays, which is a precision 100 anti-undead spell useful for sniping undead monsters. In melee, because the damage multiplication applies before protection, a Herald Lance is good against enemy undead SCs and thugs.
Thorn Spear(1) - This is mostly notable for not requiring research. It is a decent length 4 weapon with poison that is available to a lot of nations without better options. If you're gearing out an awake lich or something, a thorn spear and hide shield is a good loadout.
Blood Thorn (4) – Most notable for being a blood booster. However, it also provides life drain, which can be useful. Blood is also really easy to come by in comparison to most gems though, so it is cheaper than it looks
Fire Sword/Ice Sword (1/1) – If you just need a magic weapon (maybe to kill an ethereal thug) these are pretty decent choices. The fire sword has a high attack value making it good for hitting high defense targets like elves. These are most notable for being at construction 0.
Lightning Spear (1) – The only reason this is notable is because it casts lightning bolt in addition to hitting a target. This can be pretty useful for killing non LR thugs, especially those using ironskin. Also it’s a weapon you can forge using air magic, which is pretty rare in and of itself.
Snake Bladder Stick (1) – Okay, this item actually isn’t good, but it is hilarious. If you have a poison resistant unit (or want to forge a snake ring to go with it), it will form poison clouds every time the guy attacks. It can pretty effectively clear PD or indies with a decently defensible commander, but a fire or frost brand can too.
Utility items Edit
These items mostly aren’t supposed to be used a weapon, but provide some kind of useful effect
Weapons (2-handed) Edit
In most cases you honestly don’t want to use a two handed weapon. Using a shield, or just dual wielding two one handed weapons is in most cases better than an actual two handed weapon. However, there are some important things you can get from two handed weapons.
Standard of the Damned (4) - Grants fear and allows the wielder to cast Drain Life. Either use this to snipe thugs, or give it to a highly resilient unit to serve as crowd control, damage, and healing simultaneously.
Holy Scourge (1) - Provides 2 attacks at high damage that do 3X damage v. undead and demons. Put this on a throw-away thug with decent strength and attack and he will maul enemy demons and undead. This can be a cheap alternative to the flambeau when you are going SC hunting. Note that because it attacks twice and damage from each attack is tripled, any item that increases strength will increase damage by 6 times that amount. Further multiply by quickness. Put this on your Heroic Quickness thug with +strength gear and watch them oneround an Eater of the Dead.
Flambeau (3) – Okay this is kind of like the herald lance in that it casts an anti undead spell (Holy pyre). However, its primary use is its high damage, armor piercing, and 3x damage multiplier to undead and demons. This is the elite anti-undead weapon.
Gate Cleaver (3) – Mostly notable because it adds 50 extra siege to any unit carrying it. However, its also 29 damage and armor negating, so chops down most enemies rapidly. That being said, its attack – 1, so it has a hard time hitting anything without support bringing down enemy defense. Use for an antithug supported by chaff, tanglevines, petrify, or earthmeld. Consider with Lifelong Protection.
Gloves of the Gladiator (2) – Okay this is a bit of a gimmick item. It is rarely useful. However 4 attacks helps counter opponents who are stacking defense to avoid attacks. Each attack reduces the target’s defense by 2 , so they can be useful in really fringe cases. And I might be wrong, but I think it procs flaming weapons on each attack if you have an F9 blessing on a blessed target. Additionally, very high strength units can increase their damage output this way.
The big ones: Shields are primarily about providing avoidance for dealing with regular troops, it does this in two ways. Both giving you a way to ignore melee troop attacks (awe/vine shield/high prot block damage) and blocking arrows and arrow type attacks entirely (Shields are the best way to deal with arrows)
Vine Shield (2) – This is the most common thug shield. It doesn’t have much in the way of actual stats (5 parry and 12 shield protection), but it entangles any unit that attacks them. It is a fantastic way to let your thug or SC ignore the attacks of random chumps. It's more important for thugs, unless your SC is some chump who is getting chopped up by troops, then you probably have other problems anyways.
Shield of Gleaming Gold (11) – This shield provides awe, and awe is awesome. In general the secret to building a successful SC is stacking as much avoidance as you possibly can. In general defenses are more important than offense.
Charcoal Shield (21) – It gives your dude fire shield. This is most important for killing skelespam or phantasmspam. Generally a thug can’t kill skeletons fast enough to really deal with a group of mages spamming skeletons, but fire shield just plows through them. It also provides fire resistance, which can be useful.
Lead Shield (2) – It gives magic resistance! Unfortunately, lead shield also has 3 encumbrance, which is pretty devastating. Generally it’s better to stick to one of the other shields and grab MR from other things. Notably though, undead guys aren’t affected by encumbrance, so this isn’t a terrible choice for a shield.
Notable (low level) additions Edit
Black Steel Tower Shield/Enchanted Shield (1/1) – These are both level 0 shields, you generally forge them when you have an early game possible thug that you want to have a shield so they don’t get instantly murdered by arrows. They also both have okay protection and high parry ratings, meaning they block arrows well and help deal with melee hits often enough.
Raw Hide Shield (1) – Also a level 0 shield; it has low protection and parry values, but it is also 0 encumbrance. Also generally more accessible than the other two because N1 is the most common path in the game, in general you throw it on something you really can’t deal with having encumbrance on, but you need a shield for.
Eye Shield (2) – A level 2 shield; it has low protection and parry values, but it is also 0 encumbrance. Additionally, it provides a chance of blinding attackers. Not as good as the vine shield, but still has its uses, especially against one-eyed opponents such as agarthans and fomorian giants.
Crystal Shield (32) – Requires pretty decent paths and has very high encumbrance, but in battle it gives mages +1 to all paths, which can be crucial for casting important battle spells on turn 1 or casting other battle rituals that you need a path boost for. Sometimes useful for supercaster type SCs.
Only the best Edit
Spirit Helmet (3) – A helmet that casts Lightning Bolt every round (independent of the unit, so the guy doesn’t have to waste his turns casting lightning bolt). This is less important for the damage it does and more important for SC v SC fights where you need to make the other guy put lightning immunity on his dudes otherwise they fatigue out. (Lightning bolt has a secondary effect that causes extra fatigue damage to the target) If they don’t put some kind of lightning resistance on their guy, they’ll most likely fatigue out and die in the long run.
Horror Helmet (2) – It gives fear! This is mostly useful on thugs, as most likely your SC will have fear innately built in, but giving fear to a unit can tremendously help with routing PD quickly and ensuring your thugs survival.
Dragon Helmet (1) – This should actually probably be your go to item if you need +5 fire resistance. The helmet slot is relatively low in competition, so a dragon helmet is not a bad investment due to it being cheap and other slots being more valuable. It also provides morale +5, so bonus! Additionally its one of your cheapest options for a helmet, so if you just need some minor protection to make sure random chumps attacking you don’t one-shot you it’s not bad.
Horned Helmet (1) – This helmet is somewhat debatable. However, if you really have nothing better to put on a guy (you probably do), then you can use this and it will add an extra attack to your guy. He needs a decent strength for it to be really effective, but it’s not awful I guess.
Rainbow Armor tier Edit
Rainbow Armor (11) – Like seriously. Pretty much nothing compares to this, why even bother wearing anything else? It provides MR +2 and reinvigoration +3, both of which are absolutely essential on SCs. Reinvigoration is very important for SCs because fatigue can absolutely ruin If you can forge it, it’s basically the go to armor. There are a few exceptions, but really rainbow armor is almost never bad. Almost everything here is of varying usefulness. Armors provide a lot of your baseline defenses. Things you basically pick and choose because you’re trying to prepare for a specific thing from a nation. So you have a lot of options in the armor slot.
Rime Hauberk (2) – Gives +5 cold resistance, and also gives the wearer a cold aura, which can be incredibly important, but without it being in a cold province it likely won’t act quickly enough to disable a large group of troops, but it’s not a bad choice if you don’t have access to much.
Useful stuff Edit
Jade Armor (21) – Provides quickness. If you really don’t need any defensive stat, or you’re trying to create a specialize unit (like thugs trying to take down an SC), this can be a decent choice for units. Personally I’d probably use this in combination with boots of flying and duskdaggers or axes of hate to try and take down an SC. The high encumbrance of the armor on top of giving quickness means it is not really viable for mortal thugs, unless they are planning to get the job done within a turn or two.
Hydra Skin Armor (2) – Gives 10% lesser regeneration and +15 poison resistance. Regeneration is the big one there. Regeneration is mostly important because it reduces the chance that your guys can be afflicted by 80%, and you know, regenerates their HP in combat.
Shroud of the Battle Saint (1) - Do you have a big bless? Do you have a non sacred commander? Use this. It automatically makes a unit permanently blessed. The primary use is when a player takes something like an E9/N9 bless or W9E9 and they want to give the bless to non sacred SCs. If you don’t have a bless don’t bother. It can also be used to give diseased mages regeneration if you have an N9 blessing and a plethora of pearls.
Armor of Souls (5) – This is expensive in terms of raw gems (though blood slaves are of lesser value), and you are probably using a high priority mage to cast it. However, there is no better way to get magic resistance, it gives MR +5, which can be pretty ridiculously useful.
Blacksteel Full Plate Armor (2) - At Protection 24, this provides the best non-artifact physical protection. However, it significantly debuffs defense, has high encumbrance, and is vulnerable to the Star of Heroes.
Fringe usefulness, but still worth considering Edit
Silver Hauberk (21) – This really most likely isn’t worth it, there are a lot of better things from armor you can get, but it provides air shield. There is also the robe of missile protection (A1), but it doesn’t have any protection.
Stymphalian Wings (4) – Provides fear and flying. However it also has a lot of encumbrance, and reduces both attack and defense skill by 4, and forces you to trample smaller units instead of using your expensive weapons.
Chain Mail of Displacement (2) – This is mostly notable for adding 3 defense, rather than reducing it. Stacking defense is another form of avoidance, it’s most notably helpful against a smaller number of hard hitting targets, but it can be useful against regular troops too.
Bone Armor (5) – Okay, this is a lot of gems, I wouldn’t really suggest using it. However, it also gives soul vortex, which is pretty darn helpful. I would say it’s a better investment to just put on a cheaper piece of armor that provides some utility.
Boots (or the reinvigoration slot) Edit
What you’ll probably use Edit
Winged Shoes (2) – This is the other option, they give the unit flying, both for purposes of map move and battle. For battle its mostly important for getting thugs to an SC instantly to interrupt the buffing cycle, it also of course helps with getting thugs and SCs in there instantly to fuck up some dudes.
Boots of Quickness (2) – Provides quickness, another good choice for thugs. Probably more desirable for a thug than an SC, because the extra fatigue might screw up an SC. On the other hand, quickness buffs attack and defense by 3 each, which is handy in layering defenses and countering other SCs.
Other stuff Edit
Miscellaneous slot (also known as the most competitive slots in the game) Edit
There are so many things that go here. It’s like you can cover every imaginable defense hole ever if only you had enough miscellaneous slots. Unfortunately you don’t, you most likely only have two, and you don’t even know what two to put in there because there are so many god damn options. Let’s start with the obvious choices.
Lychantropos' Amulet (2) – Also gives 10% regeneration. On the upside, it increases strength and makes him unroutable. On the downside, berserk prevents the unit from following orders, so it will simply attack the closest enemy without casting any buffs. It also forces an MR check to avoid turning into a werewolf.
The Extras Edit
Building thugs and SCs is almost entirely about building them to counter expected enemy forces. If you’re going into Abysia you would tailor your kit to deal with fire spells and heat aura troops. Misc slots are the easiest way to tailor specific defenses if you’re not using any of the general ones I listed above.
Cat Charm (2) – Gives +4 defense, useful for thugs when dealing with tramplers. Also makes whoever wears it immune to female seduction. Not to male seduction, but that's pretty rare. If you are a female seducer, it boosts your chances as well.
Stone Bird (11) – An item that provides you four extra attacks that do a relatively small amount of damage (strength not added). Fun to put together with the gloves of the gladiator. Also adds 2 defense, so that’s something.
Lifelong Protection (4) – Spawns two imps every round in battle. An expensive item, and a cursed one (cannot be removed), but one which can completely stymie enemy SCs or thugs by forcing them to waste two attacks (or one AoE attack) every turn. Also perfect on assassins. One of the most influential items you can bring into a 1v1 battle. Has a chance of horror-marking whoever is wearing it every turn. Note that for thugs with even small resistances, this provides decoys for enemy evocations.
Other important things/Mage stuff Edit
Really the misc slot has a lot of things for mages, so let’s go over some of them.
Fire in a jar/water lens (1/1) – Temp gen gems. These can be helpful for mage-raiders who rely on temporary summons to take out PD. Conjuration 5's "Summon X Elemental" creates a monster capable of taking out 5-10 PD. F1 can also engage in phoenix power/pyre shenanigans.
Enormous Cauldron of Broth/Endless Bag of Wine (3/1) – Gives supplies for 100/50 soldiers. The effects stack province-wide, but they do not stack on the same unit (so giving a 2nd Bag of Wine to the same commander does nothing).
Flying Carpet (3) – Gives 14 size worth of flying to a commander and troops. It can be effective if you have a group of elite troops to fly around, but it’s fairly pricey. Also useful for SC's that need to fly but don't have feet (Earth Kings)
In general complete kits for an SC should try and stack as much avoidance on an SC as possible (Awe/luck/high defense/decent prot (protection is the worst of all defenses, but a little bit is necessary) /reinvigoration(prevent crits)/magic resistance/elemental immunities/etc.). Your goal is to not die as an SC, because they will likely kill most armies without much offensive assistance. Obviously you don’t want to stack defenses that don’t make sense. If you’re fighting very high morale targets or morale immune targets like berserkers or mindless troops then you don’t want awe. It simply won’t do anything. Fire shield is more likely to help kill skeletons or weak swarming troops, or vine shield will help negate morale immune troops. In general, the absolute most important defense you can possibly have is magic resistance. There are just too many spells that will kill you if you don’t have enough of it.
Thugs need more specialized kits for the jobs (also in general you want cheap kits for thugs, not a full kit.) Are you raiding? Then a brand a vine shield or shield of gleaming gold is probably enough, maybe a luck amulet. Are you killing SCs? Axes of hate/dusk daggers/immobilizers and attack skill will help a lot, quickness is not a bad investment either. Assisting an army? Setting them up to deal with troops or mages can be useful, brands for troops, flying for mages along with important elemental resistances or magic resistance, berserk helps them attack the back row.
Inexhaustive listing goes here
Bane Lord (Chill aura, 42 HP, 0 enc, high prot)
Black Servant (25 HP, ethereal, stealthy)
Devil (Flying, 35 hp)
Golem (0 Enc, Astral paths, Mindless, High HP)
Wraith Lord: Caster Ethereal, Immortal, Chill aura, high HP
Lich: Caster, immortal, chill aura
Tartarian: Caster, high (>100) HP, mindless, 0 enc, cheap to summon but only a few are commanders, start with afflictions and require D7 to summon and need Conj 9. Also are literally insane and do random actions 25% of the time. Basically have a high N and D mage that can support Gift of Health, can cast Tartarian Gate and Gift of Reason.
Vampire Lord: Regeneration, invulnerability, stealthy, immortal, flying, casters
Heliophagus (any): Casters, Stealthy, Flying, High HP
Arch Devil: Flying, High HP, Caster
Ice Devil: High prot, chill aura, caster
King of the Deeps
Vanjarl. Bless, mistform, attack closest. Equip with fire brand.
Sidhe Lord. Bless, mistform, attack closest. Equip with frost brand, vine shield
Bane Lord: Frost Brand, Vineshield
Black Servant: Equip with cheapest available gear (armor, shield).
Niefel Jarl: Bless, Breath of Winter, Liquid Body, Attack Closest. Frost Brand, Vine Shield, Boots of Messenger, Ring of Regen, Antimagic Amulet