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
Your lot of Piercing damage is useless against their units dealing most damage - Skeletons. So no point in fighting Skeletons with Elves. Your weapon are Woses and Mages. Opponent has no hard counter, but their "weak" units still do good: Skeletons for your Mages, Dark Adepts and Ghouls for Woses. Remember that Ghoul's poison stops Wose from regenerating for a turn. That's 8 damage in addition to its 3.
As always, you need a couple of Scouts to capture villages. Don't get with them into fight: if one lures two opponent's units from your main force, it's fine.
Shaman is always good for her healing and slowing, and does Impact damage.
Keep your Woses high on HP. Wose is slow - 4 base movement - so it takes ages to deliver him to fighting lines, more then delivering a Mage. Count as if you get a Wose 2 turns later. Still, it's your main strike force again most of Undead.
Another Undead's option is Walking Corpses. They do good damage for the money, have no upkeep and sometimes can 'recruit' your people. There's no clear counter except Archers, but archers are weak in this matchup. Just watch for your unit hit points and retreat timely.
So start with 2 Woses, 1-2 Scouts, Mage, Shaman and someone of your choice: Mage, Fighter or Merman.
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 are in not-too-good position:
- Drakes have good speed (can grab villages quickly) and have good HP;
- Which is worse, Saurian Skirmisher kills your only village-grabber, Scout, in 5 blows, while always has good defense and speed, so you'll have to retreat Scout and lose some gold;
- You don't have Cold attack which Drakes are vulnerable to;
To exploit Drakes' lesser weakness, to Pierce, have more Archers then Fighters. Though, Fighters are cheap, do a good backfire, and one can level up to Captain.
Have Shamans to slow Clashers and Fighters.
Have Scout or two. In this matchup it's especially important to keep good amount of villages.
If opponent goes for Saurians, recruit Mage or two. They pick Saurians out of swamps very well.