How to play Rebels
General Rebel Strategies:
On the first turn when you have a random opponent it is good to get a mixture of units. A Scout, Merman, Archer, 2 Fighters, and a Mage would be an example of such a recruit. When you discover what faction your opponent is, go to the appropriate section below for more advice.
Rebels have good to great defense in forest. Try to keep them there whenever possible, as obvious as that is. Even the easily hit Wose has his best defense (still hit more often than missed) in forest.
Elves are Neutral in alignment, so attack when your opponent is at their weakest. The Mage, Wose, and Merman are Lawful however, so take this into consideration if you recruit these units. You will be strongest in the day, but if your opponent is also strongest in the day it is usually best to fight at night.
One of the Rebels' greatest strengths is their abundance of ranged attacks in harmony with the Dextrous trait. This characteristic gives Rebels frequent chances to attack without taking retaliation damage. It also guarantees any opponent attacking you will take some damage in return.
Rebels also have good mobility, their Scout having the highest level 1 movement in the game (9 moves). The deadly Archer is also gifted with 6 - both are also graced with the speedy woodland movetype. Use this mobility to your advantage early by taking a village advantage and later by ZOCing your opponents weakened units.
If you happen to use Elvish Captain as a leader (or to level up a Fighter), take the advantage of his Leadership. He's one of the fastest leaders, so on small maps can get to fighting line in 2 turns. Not that amazing himself, his Leadership gives nearby units +25% bonus. That's an advantage you use day-night cycle for, that's the difference between retreat and attack. When properly positioned, he can boost 3 or even 4 units a turn. Of course, this works best combined with other advantages like time of day or good unit unit matchup. Mages and Woses under his banner tear Undead in halfs.
There's always need for a trick. Shamans do three good things:
- +4 healing is never bad (though they rarely level up to give you +8);
- slow enemy units, which halves their movement and damage for a turn. The more powerful or quick your enemy is, the more useful the ability becomes;
- they have 70% defense in Forests, so, when in bad need, can stop non-magical enemies with own ZoC.
Rebels vs Undead
Undead are resistant to both blade and pierce, so many of your units are useless. However, they are less resistant to impact and fire, so that's where you'll want to focus your recruiting.
Elvish Archer: This unit has a good pierce attack and a decent blade attack. Normally this unit is excellent, but against undead he doesn't do near as much damage. The only reason to recruit this unit would be for it's high movement points, and for the 17 gold required, you may as well recruit an Elvish Scout. Don't recruit this unit, spend your gold elsewhere.
Elvish Fighter: These guys have a blade attack and a secondary pierce attack. Against undead, you want a couple for village holding and damaging Dark Adepts, however don't go overboard with them.
Elvish Scout: Your scouts are only good for that: scouting. They don't have great attacks to begin with, and with the undead's resistances to pierce and blade, their attacks get that much worse. They can be good at the beginning of the game to get and hold villages, and later in the game to take out stray bats, but other than that, they're only good for ZOCing your opponents. Only recruit them at the beginning of your turn, because they're expensive and have bad attacks..
Elvish Shaman: This unit is always helpful, because it has the healing ability. Although it isn't much, it can sometimes save your other units, especially when operated in pairs behind your lines. They also have the Slows ability, which can be used against their Skeletons. You can also slow Ghouls, however it won't be as effective because the Ghoul's main weapon is Poison, not its attacks. Their weapons are impact, too, so they'll do more damage then normal..
Mage: This will be your primary ranged unit. It's one of your most expensive units, but it's worth it for its fire attack. It has a ranged magical attack as well, so you can hit units even when they have good defense. You do have to remember that this unit is lawful, so you have to use it during favorable times, and keep it out of the way when unfavorable..
Merman Hunter: This unit normally has fairly bad attacks, and then since they're both pierce, the undead's resistances make them even worse. They can be used to quickly grab water villages and hold them, but other than that they're just cruddy against Undead..
Wose: Even though Woses look awesome against the undead, with their high damage impact attack and regeneration, fight the urge to spam them. They're so slow that a good player will be able to outmaneuver you and kill you easily in the night.
Rebels vs Knalgans
One of the tricks with the rebels vs. knalgans is to really use the shamans to their full potential. It comes in two forms; first, shamans in forest are surprisingly durable; they have the defense and hitpoints of a thief, but lack the weakness to physical weapons. That, and they have retaliatory slowing on ranged (and can slow some of the worse melee attackers). Especially shamans in pairs, or even better - shamans backed up by a druid, can nearly stop a small group of melee dwarves from progressing into forest.
Shamans allow you to do one game-changing thing, which is that you can slow a dangerous melee unit, and then attack said melee unit with your fighters. Normally, attacking a dwarven fighter on grass, with your elven fighter, would be a "fair fight", and thus would be very stupid for you to engage in - the general trick to winning a game like wesnoth is to engage your units in combat only when you can arrange a fight that isn't fair. Usually it's terrain, or being outnumbered that does this, but shamans allow you to, for the space of one turn, make a normally fair fight suddenly very unfair in your favor. It allows you to do this where other factions cannot manage this, such as on open ground.
With shamans, you want to slow as many units as you can; but chiefly you'll want to find whichever "dangerous unit" is the most accessible for you to assign units to attack, and so long as you can keep most of the enemy from retaliating (say, if you slow their three hardest melee hitters), slow him, and then break rank with whatever you can attack the thing with. You'll end the turn with a few lightly scratched fighters (missing maybe 4-8 hp each), and your enemy will either have a nearly or completely dead fighter/gryphon. And conveniently, if those fighters ended their combat next to shamans, you will quickly recoup said "scratches". Woses are also very useful for these kinds of tactics - you can slow their victim, and whatever damage they receive will likely be 8hp or below. A corollary to this is that if you ever have the chance, slow an ulf, and immediately eliminate him with a fighter/wose - it's nearly a free kill.
As usual, if at all possible, get a druid, and get a captain. These level-2 abilities really enhance the elves' capability; the captain, for example, generally negates the effect of the dwarves' armor. The druid's a bit mean when applied to units with 60-70% defense (it's like turning all forest tiles into villages). These kinds of level-2 abilities are something the dwarves don't have access to, so use them to your advantage whenever possible. After you get one captain and one druid, you'll generally want to make any other level-ups into heroes and sorceresses, to give you a bit more firepower (and in the case of the former, something that can actually tank decently for the elves).
Rebels vs Drakes
You'll have hard time because:
- Drakes are fast (can grab villages quickly) and have high HP;
- You don't have Cold attack which Drakes are vulnerable to;
To exploit Drakes' lesser weakness, to Pierce, have more Archers than Fighters. Though, Fighters are cheap, do a good backfire, and one can level up to Captain.
Have Shamans to slow Clashers and Fighters. Sometimes, don't be afraid to slow even a Burner, to take him down then with an Archer.
If Saurians annoy you, recruit a Mage or two. They pick Saurians out of swamp and forest hexes very well, especially backed up with a Captain. Just make sure you can shield them properly after that or they will fall quickly to any Drake.
Rebels vs Northeners
This is a classic matchup between the 'evil' northener orcs and the good elves. Northeners are cheap and tough, as well as being largely melee orientated- your units are more expensive, more fragile and range orientated. Despite this, this is a relatively straight forward matchup; neither faction has any great resistances you have to watch out for, and orcs have no superpowerful units in their arsenal.
Generally, your biggest worry will be grunts and assassins. Assassins have poison; it's the only way northeners can effectively move you out of your forest (without taking lots of retaliation). To combat this, make sure you recruit shamans and keep them behind your front-line units to avoid taking damage from poison. Grunts do a fair bit of damage at night- so try to keep fragile units in defensible terrain.
Wose: This unit is less effective against northeners. They have no resistances to the largely blade-using northeners, and are weak to the archer's fire attack. They're also very expensive. Still, they're good at counter-attacking trolls and grunts and even wolves. They are your toughest unit though, and are good in making a roadblock. Beware they're slow.
Mage: These guys & girls are your daytime-hitters. They do great damage and what's more they're magical. Very useful at knocking trolls of their perches, but can also kill any annoying grunts of wolves that get in your way. Finally, they can be used to finish of those pesky assassins. Still, fragile and expensive, so keep them protected.
Scout: As they're name implies, they are your scouts. Beat wolves one on one, but don't recruit too many of these. They are amazingly mobile though, and are good at harassing most northener units.
Merman Hunter: These guys are your navy. They're ranged attack is usefull at harassing northeners when they are in water, and they fare well against the opponents nagas. Still, not an awful load of firepower and not massively tough. Oh and if you can level these guys, you get another slower!
Shaman: Speaking of slow, how could we forget these girls? Weak and fragile, but they are incredibly useful at counterring poison, and a pair of these give your high defence units regeneration! What's more, they do of course, slow. Slow halves the opponents damage and movement speed. They can be used to slow units you can't slaughter, and prevent rogue grunts from killing wounded units. Still, recuit with caution- no more than three shamans for every twelve other units!
Fighter: Your grunts. Do plenty of retaliation in melee and even retaliate in ranged combat! These guys kill assassins and can be used to attack grunts if slowed by a shaman (or wolves). They're also one of your tougher units and can be used to shield other units. They're also fairly quick. Your force should have plenty of these, but they are not your biggest attacker...
How can we not mention the...
Archer: Undoubtedly the best archer in the game (excluding perhaps, the knalgan thunderer) these guys are you biggest and most reliable damage dealers. They can happily rain 4-5 arrows on the melee northeners and still retaliate back with 6x2 melee damage. As a personal preference, I love spamming these guys and raining hell from above on the orcs. Beware though, they have only 28 hp and no resistances, so at night, keep them in forest or mountains, or if you can't, use a fighter- they have a ranged attack too!
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