How to play Northerners

From The Battle for Wesnoth Wiki

General Northerner Strategies:

On the first turn when you have a random opponent it is good to get a mixture of units that will be good in any situation. A Wolf Rider, a Grunt, a Whelp, an Archer and an Assassin recruit 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.

In general, Northerners will win by mass. Northerners are the cheapest faction and need to utilize that advantage. Poison will be a crucial strategic element as Northerners have the only ranged poison in the game. Grunts and Whelps will be the meat of your army, but make sure to recruit Grunts or Assassins to hold villages, as Whelps do a poor job of this with 40% defense.

Northerners level quickly on the whole compared to other factions, so try to level any unit as they all grow in power quickly. Nagas upon level actually fare rather well on land, and Trolls will double their damage. Levelling Grunts gains you a great number of hp, but they are a tad slower to level than the other units at your disposal. Wolf Riders also do well as Pillagers to slow your enemy, and Assassins become better than Grunts at dealing melee damage. Try to focus your xp alotment to gain an advantage.

Your lack of ranged combat will mean you will be vulnerable to ranged counter-attacks. Plan accordingly and have some Assassins nearby to help defend against retaliation. Trolls are good for frontline blockers for their Regen, but keep them in hills or mountains where they have decent defense.

Northerners vs Knalgans

You'll want Poison to take these guys down. Take as many hill and mountain hexes as you can, and keep trolls in your front line during day to Regen.

Orcish Grunt: 12 gold village holders nighttime siege artists. Their damage, defense, and moves are better than Trolls, so having a few of these to search and destroy are a necessity.

Troll Whelp: A good choice against Knalgans for their high hp, 20% resistance to Blade and Pierce, and their ability to Regen. The extra gold will be worth it if you keep these guys on the hill and mountain hexes your opponent will want to take. A rotation of these guys will keep your front line from crumbling, and will keep Thunderer damage to a minimum. Level one of these and your damage will double.

Orcish Archer: Recruiting one of these to poke at Fighters and Guardsmen may prove useful, but more frequently you'll want to spend your gold on other units.

Goblin Spearman: Do not recruit Goblin Spearmen when fighting Knalgans. Their hp is too low for them to deal any significant damage before they die.

Wolf Rider: Your scout unit, you can use these to grab crucial hilly areas before Dwarves can reach them. If you can get him to level, the ability to slow Dwarves may prove exceptionally useful. Recruiting more than one of these may prove too costly though.

Naga Fighter: Recruit if there are important water or swamp areas you can control. Their neutrality and high defense will serve you well for 14 gold.

Orcish Assassin: A necessity against Knalgans. Poisoning any Dwarf will add up. Poisoning Guardsmen will add up faster. A couple of these to annoy and drive back Dwarves from their homes are a necessity.

A first turn recruit you'll want a Grunt, 1 or 2 Whelps, 1 or 2 Assassins, and possibly another Grunt, a Rider, or Naga. Don't be afraid to Poison Dwarves even in daytime if you can do so from favorable terrain. If you see Ulfs are nearby, you'll want to take them out with Grunts.You'll want to use Whelps to go after Thunderers, and you'll want to take them out first generally, as they'll be the easiest units for you to kill. Have your Assassins Poison the Fighters while this is happening. Try to ignore Guardsmen if you can, because they will take too much effort to kill.Don't be afraid to sacrifice a Grunt to take a shot at an open Ulf if the opportunity arises and the CTK is sizable. The 7 gold difference in cost is worth the risk. If you can't finish it with one Grunt, 2 should do the trick. This will be a game of push and pull. You'll have to push at night and prevent them pushing at day with the Poison you plant. You shouldn't need more than 2 Assassins, but you will need to use them a lot.

Northerners vs Loyalists

Attack at night, defend at day. This will be a constant theme. Spearmen and HI will be what you see the most of, likely. Don't be surprised to see Bowman as well.

Orcish Grunt: Cheap village holders again. Good units to take out Mages and Bowmen. At night you will do 11-2 v. 5-3 against Spearmen, but keep them on villages or mountains during day. These are your big time hitters, so save them.

Troll Whelp: Again, a couple of these guys in mountains should survive to deal a good amount of damage. Don't recruit too many, as their damage is too low to justify having a bunch.

Orcish Archer: 1 or 2 of these guys will benefit you a lot, as they'll be your best weapon against HI and the 2 mounted units. If you overrecruit these guys Spearmen should take you over.

Goblin Spearman: 1 or 2 of these guys might not be a bad idea against Loyalists. You can use these guys against mounted units and Bowmen at night, or Mages at most times. Their low hp makes them extremely vulnerable though, so recruit with caution. Getting 1 on the first turn may free up enough moves for one of your other units to take advantageous frontline positions instead of village-grabbing.

Wolf Rider: Good to scout and to trap and attack Bowmen and Mages. If you can level this guy, make him a Pillager to demolish HI and have the option to slow. Otherwise his use is limited to finishing weak units at night.

Naga Fighter: The battle of the seas will be tough, as it is pretty even. Recruit water forces appropriately, and know that if they level that they will become even more useful as they can be used even on land.

Orcish Assassin: Again, another crucial element to your attack. You'll want to Poison HI, Spearmen, and their ranged attack does a decent 4-3 to mounted units when it isn't day.

A first turn recruit should consist of a Grunt, an Assassin, an Archer, and a mix of other good units. Take out Mages and Horsemen first, as they will deal you the most damage with the least amount returned. Poison HI and shoot them with Fire. Poison Fencers if you can, or just beat on them with whatever you have at your disposal. Shoot Cavalry down, and deal with Spearmen however you can, using Poison on them often as well. Again, fight off daytime offenses with Poison, and try to keep a Whelp or 2 up in the front in mountains to regenerate. At night, lead with Grunts and use Archers appropriately. Posion whatever is left standing, and be ready to retreat as dawn breaks.

Northerners vs Undead

Unfortunately one of your major weapons (poison) won't work against these guys. Also, Undead deal more damage than you do at night. If that wasn't bad enough, you only have one level 1 unit that can attack with Fire, and your only water unit is weak to Cold. Things are looking pretty grim, eh? Well here's how you fight back:

Orcish Grunt: These guys are the perfect Adept killers. A strong grunt does 12-2 at night, 3 hits will kill them. They will take 4 hits to kill you unless you get a Quick Grunt without Resiliant. You get 4 Grunts for 3 Adepts cost-wise, but don't buy so many; you'll probably only want as many as 2 at first as you'll need other weapons as well.

Troll Whelp: A necessity. These guys are skeleton killers doing +20% damage as well as resisting 20% from them. Their Regen also prevents Ghouls from doing nasty Poison damage to them. These guys are good to attack anything except Ghosts.

Orcish Archer: Another necessity. You'll have to recruit at least 2 of these to account for Ghosts. These guys are also good to kill Skeletons and WCs, and you'll want to use these on Ghouls too.

Goblin Spearman: Surprisingly, these guys can be effective against Undead, and here's the reason: these guys make pretty decent Adept killers. If your opponent loves Adepts and money is tight, or you just want to keep a high income, recruit a modest number of these guys to counter-attack.

Wolf Rider: If you need a scout, this is your guy. He will have limited uses outside of scouting, but he will make a decent Adept attacker, a good choice to melee Ghouls as he can run away to heal, and if he levels, the Pillager will cause mayhem for your opponent.

Naga Fighter: Only get if you have to have sea-villages. They can't attack Ghosts, but they do counter-attack Adepts well. Even so, they don't counter-attack as well as Grunts, nor will they live as long (and they are more expensive).

Orcish Assassin: Simply don't recruit this unit if you're fighting Undead. The adepts damage it so badly that you won't want to poison them. If, by any case, you recruited one, his best use will be to ZoC to prevent bats to fly through your defense for village stealing, and eventually poison them.

A first turn recruit should consist of a Grunt, 2 Whelps, 2 Archers, and either a scout, or another Grunt, Whelp, or Archer. Keep your highest hp units in front at night, as you'll be counter-attacking, not attacking, under most circumstances. Surround your opponents attacking forces before they try to retreat at Dawn. Surprisingly you'll actually have the advantage then. With the decreased damage done in the daytime your Regeneration will be far more effective - it will heal the damage from nearly twice as many attacks. Because of this, make sure to replace your Whelps as soon as possible if they die, and do whatever you can to keep them from passing. Use your archers to kill Ghosts as fast as you can. Their ability to Drain against the rest your units attacks makes them virtually indestructable to other sources. The loss of a 20g unit will also set the player back quite a bit monetarily. After the Ghosts are gone, use your Archers on any Skeletons there are - you'll want to prevent them from using their melee if possible. Also, killing Bats and WCs is always a good way to make a quick monetary gain on your opponent.Your Whelps should go after Archers for maximum damage, but you'll really want to kill Adepts before you kill anything else. If your opponent doesn't have any, you can't get to them, or your Grunts already took them out, go ahead and melee some skeletons or a Ghoul.One major thing you'll want to do in defense is put your front units on hexes where your opponent will have to attack you from bad terrain. The reason is you'll want to hit Adepts as easily as possible, and they should always be what comes at you first.Keep in mind that your units are cheaper than your opponents level 1 units, and his level 0 units die extremely easy. Don't be afraid to trade unit-for-unit with Undead if you have to: you'll be on your way to success quickly.

Northerners vs Drakes

With a decent Drake opponent, you cannot really attack a group of his units without making sure:

  1. The Big Picture: you're not losing out on the village hunt elsewhere (your scouts are more expensive than his).
  2. Advancing: you're not abandoning your terrain / defense advantage to do so (it does figure a lot more here because Drakes are only 30% or 40%, while a troll varies between 30% and 60% and an assassin between 40% and 70% on most land terrains, saurians are a different matter). It's a much more serious issue for Northerners in this situation than normally.
  3. Go Hunt in Packs: you outnumber him and your group includes units that can soak the damage (trolls, grunts less so), deal damage (spearmen/archers and grunts at night), poison (assassin) and cover/block (assassin and spearmen). If you miss any of those, you better not attack.
  4. Finishing strokes: you have some unit(s) nearby that hunt down retreating Drakes/Saurians (wolf rider). It doesn't help to wear down your units if the enemy just retreats the near-dead units to level them up later.
  5. Steady Reinforcements: you have a plan for getting in reinforcements (they should come steadily as a Northerner).
  6. Village healing: you can't heal all your wounded, but retreat those with a little experience in time so that you might eventually advance a unit (that also means covering the retreat which is really hard to do against a Drake player).

Northerners vs Rebels

Have grunts and trolls in your lines. Even if you lack magic, you can use brute force at night to shove them out. 11-2 for grunts is nothing to laugh at, and archers do a mere 4-4 against trolls.

Rebels are pretty fragile units with low hitpoints. There good defense makes up for that, though. Northerners' classical fight mostly happens on elves' conditions, that is they have 60+% terrain defense (and you have a hard time getting along with that unless you get very lucky).

Also, people always say "get them out of the forest", but they simply don't leave it... The solution to that is: Make them leave it. Not with the classical approach, but with the strength only northerners have: Ranged poison + high defense = assasin.

The normal situation is that elvish fighters guard the more fragile units like shamans, mages and archers. If the night approaches, you take 2+ assasins and attack the shielding fighters. Chances are high that they both get poisoned and from that time on, time is working for you: either they retreat or they keep shielding and die. Archers will think twice before attacking an assasin as well as shamans and mages at night. If rebels stay and fight, they get owned at night due to poison combined with heavy hitters. If they run, you got what you wanted: They leave the forest.

Despite their defense, assasins die fast to a combined attack. You will probably lose some. But most of the time it's worth the loss, because you turn the fight to be on your own conditions. Woses are an additional problem for assasins, you will need grunts and archers to deal with that.

This is not a trivial to play strategy. The matchup is balanced so rebels have an answer. Poison doesn't make it a no-brainer, but it evens the chances and gives you the opportunity to make the most out of it.

See also

Factions of the Default Era

Description: DrakesKnalgan AllianceLoyalistsNorthernersRebelsUndead
How to Play: DrakesKnalgan AllianceLoyalistsNorthernersRebelsUndead

This page was last modified on 3 September 2011, at 03:18.