How to play undead
General Undead Strategies:
As a style of personal preference, I enjoy using the massive damage dealing Dark Adepts en masse. The most dreadful attacker of the Undead is also the most pitiful defender, being the only unit in Default to have no melee weapon. Because of this you'll need a good mix of Skeletons, Adepts, and support units.
A safe first turn recruit against Random would have 1 skeleton, 1 Adept, 1 Ghost, 1 ghoul and a couple more units. When you see what your opponent has, go to the appropriate section below.
The biggest aspect of Undead that you'll have to become comfortable with is almost overextending yourself at night. Your damage is so high that even Northerners can't keep up except with having more units. You'll make your first attacks with Adepts usually so that you can protect them with your advancing forces that take the place of the units they defeat. Skeletons do this best, usually, as they are your heaviest melee hitter, and at night there isn't a single level 1 unit that can take them out in one attack.
In order to get the most for your money, you should attack as dusk breaks - especially if you're second player. You'll begin your attack and your opponent will have to counter at night. If your opponent is lawful, the right time to leave the attack can be tricky. Otherwise simply retreat as night is ending. Against lawful units you may want an extra turn to get space between the two of you.
Since Undead have major resistance strengths and weaknesses every opponent will have a specific plan to counter you. This will consist of Fire and Impact units. It just so happens that Adepts are best at countering these units whether it be defensively against Fire units or offensively against Impact units. A good note is that Ghouls have 10% Fire resistance and no Impact vulnerability. They are a good defensive unit to use on villages for the most part.
Undead vs Drakes:
Possibly the deadliest matchup in Wesnoth, this game will result in lots of casualties, and very quickly. Both factions are incredibly offensive and of opposite alignment. Skeletons are weak to Fire, Adepts to melee, and Drakes are weak to Pierce and Cold. Basically, whoever is left standing wins.
Skeleton: You'll want these guys if Saurians become a problem. Otherwise, you should invest in Skeletal Archers if you want the Blade and Pierce resistance.
Skeleton Archer: 14 gold, 5-3 ranged Pierce against Drakes during day in defense, and great resists to their melee attacks, this is a great unit choice against Drakes. Your army should have a couple of these.
Walking Corpse: Do not recruit this unit when fighting Drakes.
Vampire Bat: Do not recruit this unit when fighting Drakes unless the map requires a quick scout for water areas and village grabbing. Usually a Ghost will be enough of a scout unit that combines with Cold ranged and melee.
Ghoul: Very limited in it's usefulness against Drakes as they have so much hp and can easily fly back to towns to heal, your money is better spent.
Dark Adept: The meat of your army will be this unit. Doing 12-2 damage to Drakes during daytime makes them an obvious choice, and at night you will get an incredible 17-2 magical with a 16 gold level 1 unit. Recruit lots of these, but not so many that you can't cover them with other units. Clashers will literally eat these guys during the day, as will Drake Fighters. Beware of Skirmishers at night, as they are the best counter agsint these guys. Like I said, if Skirmishers become a problem, bring a Skeleton with you to chop them up.
Ghost: A decent buy for early grabbing and for scouting, but for Cold damage Adepts are better. Ghosts die easily in the day, but having the mobility at night can prove quite useful. Don't recruit more than 1 early, or you'll be burned to death very quickly.
A good first turn recruit would consist of a Skeleton Archer, a Ghost, 2 Adepts, and perhaps a Skeleton with more Archers and Adepts to be recruited later. Don't shy away from the fact that you'll have to freeze Drakes into submission. Use Adepts on Burners and Archers on other Drakes, but always finish what you start - don't leave Drakes hanging around until daytime because they will put a hurt on. It's better to kill 1 Drake than to hurt 2. If Saurians do skirmish in behind you, use Adepts on them to finish them quickly if no Skeletons are around. They are weak to Cold and they do cost 15 gold. If you end up not killing a Drake with that Adept then he at least earned his cost by killing that one unit.
In defense, put Skeleton Archers on towns, and keep your Ghost(s) away from the front line. a Burner can tear them apart and any flyer can come in to help if they need to. Don't be afraid to use Adepts to counter even in day, but don't attack Burners with them at this time; they'll do too much damage in return, so focus on killing Clasher and Fighters during the day.
Undead vs Loyalists:
Like Drakes, there will be a heavy day/night push and pull. Ghosts will be more effective here as the Loyalists are less mobile and have less Fire. Loyalists are the most versatile faction, so you'll need to be prepared to handle anything.
Skeleton: A good staple unit. Use this to hack up any unit except HI. You'll do equal damage to Spearmen in day and everyone else is cake. Be carefull with enemy Mages as they do tremendous damage with no retaliation, especially during the day.
Skeleton Archer: Once you discover that the enemy is Loyalists, consider using Skeleton Archers as your main recruit instead of Dark Adepts. Skeleton Archer is cheaper than Dark Adept, it has more hitpoints and high resistance to Pierce and Blade. Any melee oriented Loyalist unit can counter Dark Adept, but almost all of them are ineffective against Skeleton Archer and even Mages will suffer from retaliation. Cavalryman has Cold resistance (which is main damage type of the Dark Adept), both Cavalryman and Horseman have Piercing vulnerability, which makes Skeleton Archer good counter to them. Keep Skeleton Archers far from HI unless you can finish them that turn.
Walking Corpse: These guys may be useful, but money on heavier hitters is money better spent. These guys are best used to clean up a mess you don't want to waste a Skeleton or Dark Adept on. Beware, they can be easily destroyed by heavy infantry
Vampire Bat: Don't recruit this unit when fighting Loyalists unless you need a scout unit to cross water to gather villages quickly. For 7 more gold you can get a Ghost who is a great frontline unit if your opponent has no Mages in range.
Ghoul: Useful to hold villages and scare off high hp units. Does your opponent have too many HI to kill in one turn? Poison one and make sure you kill the rest. This guy resists everything except Impact (and obviously Arcane) just a little bit, so he can be a nice damage soaker - especially if your opponent focuses on melee.
Dark Adept: Good unit in this matchup. Not as much as with Drakes, but you'll want these guys near your front line at all times to counter-attack HI and to knock out the high defense Fencers. Mermen will resist you 20%, but you will cut through their high defense as well. At night these guys are killers, plain and simple. Go for HI and Horsemen first, then any other non-Cavalry units - the more expensive the better. Even using Adepts on Mages is smart at night if you're low on Skeletons.
Ghost: Get one and probably no more than that. Mages can kill this unit alone in day, and the 20 gold is far too much to waste. Their Drain ability makes them good attackers of Spearmen, as their Firststrike ability actually works against them. Usually you'll want to ranged attack HI or melee Mages, but keep in mid that your nighttime Drain + 50% defense + good resists means you'll usually go unscathed in melee at night.
A good first turn recruit would consist of a Gost for grabbing, an Adept or two, a combination of 2 or 3 Skeletons + Archers, and perhaps a Ghoul depending on how you want to play it.
If your opponent has no HI then your nighttime attack plan is simple: lead with Adepts to freeze everything out of your path and then cover them with your skeleton units. Again, don't be afraid to freeze Mages at night, as 12-2 will kill 2 out 6 Mages (based on hp they get from traits), and they will only deal 5-3 back, or 5-1 if you kill them. Doing this is a coin-flip though, so judge accordingly.
If your opponent has HI, and has them in front, same game plan, just freeze the HI exclusively. They are the only unit weak to Cold in their army, it is their only weakness that you can exploit, and they have the most hp (tied). The math is simple. You must use Cold - preferably from Adepts - to kill these guys. After they're down, advance as before.
If your opponent has HI in the back, bust your way through wil what units you have. If you can't reach them with your Adepts at the end, blast whatever the hell you can, because you have to apply their damage somewhere. Even if you hang them out to dry in the front lines, all Loyalists get -25% damage at night, so they're a lot safer than you may think. Do keep them covered if you left any Horsemen alive though, which you shouldn't, as they are a high priority kill.
In defense: leave Skeleton Archers in front. They will resist all damage other than from Mages and HI, and they will do some damage back to Mages (in addition to being your cheapest fighting unit). If HI are coming your way put a Ghoul up front. If your opponent only recruits HI and Mages, recruit only DAs, Ghouls, and Skeletons. Skeles kill Mages, DAs kill HI, Ghouls defend.
Undead versus Undead:
This matchup is no longer as boring as it was before. Most of your units are undead, making most of them vulnerable to the arcane damage by dark adepts and ghosts. Ghouls in this matchup are less useful for their poison; their resistance to blade, cold, arcane and pierce makes them your tank of sorts, but vulnerable to walking corpses. In general, use a combination of ranged and or walking corpses to kill ghouls, and ghosts and dark adepts to kill all arcane-vulnerable units.
Dark Adept: Your most important unit. Get a lot of these. At night, 1 unit can kill ghosts and walking corpses. 2 of these have a good chance of killing all skeleton units. They are still useful against ghosts, while least effective against ghouls. Considering the bat's 60% defense, you might still want to use adepts against them. They are vulnerable to all other units' melee attacks. Protect them well.
Ghoul: This unit is important, not for its damage, but for its range of resistances; it has no resistances to only impact. Use these to protect your dark adepts from all other melee units. Do remember that ghouls are only 10% resistant to blade, and still vulnerable to skeletons at night. When possible, poison opponents' dark adepts, as it will make him/her consider pulling back to heal. Poisoning bats is also an important option, as they are quite difficult to kill. This is your tank in Undead versus Undead matches.
Skeleton: This unit is important for its high melee damage, which will be the main way for you to kill dark adepts, as well as ghouls. Skeletons however are vulnerable to walking corpses and ghosts in melee, and dark adepts' range. Only use them to kill walking corpses if you have to; using ghosts/dark adepts are almost always better.
Skeleton Archer: Not much use. Skeletons and ghouls are pierce resistant, while dark adepts will not give soft retaliation. Only really useful against bats and walking corpses, of which dark adepts are better, as they are similarly useful against them. Not recommended for your initial recruit.
Walking Corpse: They are useful for their impact damage, and their plague ability. They are a cheap unit to get full damage against ghouls, and severely damage any skeleton unit, especially skeleton archers. One way to use them is by having dark adepts to provide the initial hits against skeleton/ghoul, followed by walking corpses, as they have a higher damage/gold ratio against ghouls than skeletons. Whenever possible, use them to finish off any dark adepts or bats, as the plague ability will provide you with an extra unit.
Vampire Bat: They are useful for village grabbing and attacking vulnerable units (dark adepts mostly, and finishing off walking corpses and ghouls). They are cold and arcane resistant with 60% default defense, making them quite difficult to kill unless using magic, for which its attacks are resisted. Beware of it being attacked from multiple hexes, as impact damage from walking corpses will easily kill it; be careful of the threat of ghouls as well. When possible use them to steal villages or threaten them. They are certainly worth your gold. Once leveled up, they are very difficult to kill by other Undead players.
Ghost: Recruiting this unit depends on your preference, this author does not recommend using them. They have arcane melee, which is useful against all units except bats and ghouls. On the other hand, they do not drain, losing a major advantage of using them. At night, a single dark adept can kill a ghost in one turn. And they cost 20 gold, which might be better spent. If you recruit these, be prepared for a lot of healing this unit in your villages instead of being up front in the attack.
A good initial recruit should be a mixture of skeletons, dark adepts, ghouls and walking corpses, with the dark adepts being the core. Get a bat for medium to large maps.
Your main aim is to kill dark adepts, which are usually protected by other units. In general, use ranged attacks, with melee to finish off ghouls; this will be your primary problem. If they are not positioned well, you might want to save your adepts and use your walking corpses instead. Use arcane to kill off walking corpses. In general, you want to have as many hexes as possible to kill dark adepts, it might sometimes be better to ignore the ghoul and focus on killing other units first. Remember that a skeleton used to kill ghouls means a less skeleton to kill adepts. Once vulnerable, use your skeletons, bats and walking corpses to kill them. Make sure that you kill them, as their retaliation damage on their turn will hurt you. If that is not possible, poison them; the ghoul itself will also be a problem for your opponent, who will need to use at least 2-3 units to kill it. When possible, threaten villages with your bats. If you have a lot of walking corpses, use them to whittle down enemy ghouls whenever possible. A loss of a ghoul will definitely force your opponent to retreat.
On defense, use ghouls and walking corpses to shield your other units. If you can ZOC shield on good terrain especially with ghouls, your opponents will have a very difficult time attacking you without exposing his/her units on bad terrain. Position yourself so that you are the first to attack at night. Regroup at day.
Undead vs Northerners:
An interesting battle as both factions are Chaotic. You'll deal more damage at night, so you should usually be the aggressor at this time. You'll be facing a lot of Whelps and Archers most likely, with maybe some Grunts and other units sparsed in.
Skeleton: Good for taking out any units except Whelps, you'll want to have a couple of these guys in your front line.
Skeleton Archer: These guys are less deadly than Skeletons and fall faster to Whelps (they do less return damage). They are a good choice if your opponent recruits Grunts and Spearmen though.
Walking Corpse: These guys may be useful as they deal Impact damage that will go around Whelp resistancies. Having 1 or 2 of these may prove useful if you can effectively use them to shield your attacking forces or to spawn more allies.
Vampire Bat: If you need a scout, the Ghost is a far better choice against Northerners. Only the Archer has a decent chance of killing a Ghost whereas a simple Grunt can walk of and cut down a Bat. Grunts are also cheaper than Bats. Don't recruit this unit.
Ghoul: A good unit to use against Northerners. Their focus on melee wil make nearly every unit that attacks you subject to Poison. With 10% resistance to Blade and Fire they will survive long enough to Poison enough units to be a menace. Having 1 or 2 of this guy will be enough.
Dark Adept: This guy just kills things. He is your Whelp killing instrument as Whelps will resist your Blade and Pierce attacks 20%. Adepts are good to use against any unit though, as every unit other than the Archer has no significant ranged attack. You'll want several of these in your army, but make sure that they have protection from Grunts and Whelps in both attack and defense.
Ghost: A great unit to have. Only Archers can reliably take this unit out. His cost is high - especially when compared to the cost of Northerners, but his ability to survive - especially on a village - will make him a thorn in your opponents side. You should be able to see where your opponents archers are, so stay away from them. Use his ranged attack to assist you in killing melee units so that you don't run into a situation of bad luck getting you hurt.
A good first turn recruit would consist of a Ghost, Skeleton, Ghoul, DA, and another DA, Ghost, or skeleton type. The Ghoul can also be exchanged for a damage dealer.
Keep your Skeletons and Ghouls up front to deal return damage in defense and against counter-attacks. Ghouls are your best defensive weapon as they will Poison any who attack them, and Archers will need 4 hits with their Fire arrows at night to get you to 1hp.
Use your DAs to tear through the otherwise hard-to-kill Whelps, and make sure to finish them as fast as possible, or at least Poison them, or you'll waste 8 damage a turn. If your opponent has any Nagas, punish them with your Adepts and Ghosts - you'll deal 120% damage.
You'll want to press at night and defend at day as usual, but the reason may not be so clear as Northerners are also Chaotic. The reason is that Undead deal more damage per unit, but are also more expensive. At night your ability to quickly tear through units and finish them off is impressive. During the day it is not; if you cannot take out units in your attack you will be swarmed by larger numbers of Northerners that will trap and kill you. The Regeneration of Whelps becomes a much larger effect during the day as well. Because of these reasons you'll want to defend during the day and take out as many units as possible in each night-time attack.
Undead vs Rebels:
You'll likely see a bunch of Woses and Mages in this battle as they are the best unit to deal damage to your forces. Because they are Lawful there will again be a strong day/night push. If your opponent does not recruit many of these units you shouldn't have much of a challenge ahead of you if you simply recruit Skeletons and Archers.
Skeleton: A necessity. These guys resist Blade and Pierce greatly - the 2 major weapons of Elves. These guys will also chop through Mages and are even good to kill Woses at night. Keep these guys away from Woses and Mages during the day.
Skeleton Archer: It's better to buy Skeletons than Archers here. Skeletons only cost 1g more but deal more damage on their primary attack and their Blade cuts through Wose resistancies as well as avoids magical return damage from the Mage. Don't recruit this guy unless your opponent recruits no Woses or Mages.
Walking Corpse: If you can turn 1 or 2 units to your side this unit has paid for himself. Recruit sparingly, though he can be quite useful against Mages if they are foolish enough to stay close after daytime.
Vampire Bat: Since the Ghost isn't the best bargain against Rebels, if you need a scout unit, the Bat should be your choice. Having more than 1 quickly leads to diminishing returns, so save your gold for units that can fight.
Ghoul: A decent unit to have 1 of. Fighting Woses at night he deals 5-3 plus prevents Regeneration and takes 10-2 in return. If you can't kill a Wose in one turn, hitting him with a Ghoul is a good idea. Also useful against any Elves that decide to entrench themselves in forest, this guy is a utility unit, not an en-masse unit. He does resist Fire at 10%, so of all your units to take hits from Mages, this is probably the one you want to do it on defense.
Dark Adept: Good for knocking out Elves in forest, the main reason you'll recruit this guy is to attack Woses without return damage. Showing no weakeness to Fire, the Adept can also kill Mages at night with his 12-2 attack suffering 5-3 in return (if he fails to kill). If your opponent's leader is a White Mage you'll want to recruit even more of these guys as they are your only unit that resists Holy damage and doesn't have a lopsided weakness to it. Good for several reasons, 1 or 2 of this guy is a must.
Ghost: The ranged specialist Rebels can take out this unit with relative ease; they can even kill it without Mages, though obviously that would be their first choice. Since Mermen and Woses resist Cold, and all other units have high defense or a strong ranged counter-attack, this unit isn't the best buy against Rebels.
A good first turn recruit would consist of 2 Skeletons, a Ghoul, a DA, perhaps a Bat, and another useful unit. Keep your Ghoul(s) up front during the day to minimize the Rebel offensive, and retreat if necessary.
On the offensive, kill Woses and Mages as quickly as possible. Hack up Mages first, and freeze and Poison the Woses. If you have any Skeletons left, try to chop down the trees as well. If you have Archers use them on any Elves your opponent has. Bats can be used on Mages, and use WCs on any unit that they have a chance to kill.
Try to focus xp on single Skeletons. Levelling one into a Deathblade will prove deadly for your opponent. His extra move will hunt down Mages and Elves and his extra strike will ensure their deaths. The unit also becomes a real Wose killer at night dealing up to 50 of 52 damage. Levelling a Bat will also prove a useful Mage hunting tool.
Undead vs Knalgans:
You'll want to catch Knalgans on poor terrain. Dwarves on hills or mountains are hard to move - they usually have to move themselves. To combat this you'll need to use Poison and magic to make them move.
Skeleton: A good standard unit, Skeletons are only in serious danger from Dwarvish Fighters, of which you will likely face several. This unit can take on all of the Outlaws as well as the dangerous Ulfserker. At night, his 6-3 attacks on Guardsmen will also be quite useful. You'll need one to counter an Ulfserker.
Skeleton Archer: A good cheap unit who is most in danger from Fighters and Ulfserkers, his role is to pick at Fighters, Gryphons, and Guardsmen, though money is better spent elsewhere.
Walking Corpse: Not a good unit to combat Dwarves, the WC is better to hold villages against sneaky Gryphons or to kill trapped ones. There's no need to recruit these early.
Vampire Bat: Do not recruit this unit when fighting Knalgans. The superior Gryphon will easily kill this unit resulting in a loss of 13g.
Ghoul: A crucial unit in your fight against Knalgans, the Ghoul's Poison should be used to cut through their resistance and make the slow movers retreat from advantageous positions. Also used as a good Gryphon deterrent, this unit is worth having 2 of.
Dark Adept: The key unit in your arsenal, the DA deals 11-2 damage to Dwarves at night, 10-2 to Guardsmen. Also having the capability to ignore the superior defenses of Knalgans, these guys are invaluable in your nighttime assaults. Their major drawback that is easily exploitable by Knalgans is their lack of melee, so keep them protected at all times.
Ghost: As Knalgans have no true counter for Ghosts, these scouts should be used exclusively over Bats. Their greatest use is using their ranged attack on melee exclusive units. Their Drain melee and high resistances makes the Ghost essentially impossible for melee units to kill. The sole exception to this is the Ulfserker. At night, and even possibly at dusk/dawn, the Ghost has an excellent chance of killing an Ulfserker with his Drain attack. During the day, however, the Ghost is in real jeopardy of defeat from this unit. Try to keep the ghost from Thunderers as well, as 2 shots will take him down, and you won't want to lose this unit so easily.
A good first turn recruit would consist of a Ghost, a Skeleton, a Ghoul, a DA, and another useful unit like another Skelton, Archer, or DA. Don't let Dwarves get on mountains if you can stop it. Ghosts are great for this, but Ghouls and Skeletons work nicely too. If Dwarves do end up on mountains either ignore them and make them move to unfavorable terrain, Poison them to force them to move, or use Adepts on them.
In defense, Ghouls on villages or mountains will prove very bothersome to Knalgans. Keep them in the front line to Poison oncoming attackers. They'll take Thunderer shots (at 13-1), so they'll last a while too. Skeletons are alright to keep in front too, due to their resistances outside of Impact. Make sure your Adepts stay behind so they don't get Ulfs.
On the offense, you'll want to take out Ulfs first and then anything on poor terrain. Terrain plays a huge factor in the damage you will deal Dwarves, so sometimes it will be better to ignore Dwarves on mountains and to kill other units instead. Adepts can remove problem Dwarves though, so have a couple. At the end of your assault put your Ghouls in front to protect your units and to Poison the surviving forces.
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