Essential Combat Strategy
HoA is a very combat-oriented game. Fighting monsters is essential to getting gold, exp, and items. While you do not control your character after entering combat, it is important to prepare before going into combat and to chose fights wisely.
Choosing When to Fight
Most characters will run into areas that are "too hard." However, areas are too hard only because you chose to fight monsters that are too hard. An example of a challenging area is Krolm's Anvil where there are encounters that can do several hundred points of damage to your character per combat round! However, if you do not chose to fight these encounters, then almost any character can survive in Krolm's Anvil. In more general terms, it is often important to chose when to fight and when not to. In some cases, it's useful to avoid fighting as much as possible in order to complete quests or to find items. In other cases, it's optimal to chose when to fight because there's a large variation in the difficulty of monsters in an area.
The Potion of Monster Detection
The potion of monster detection, purchased from the wizards guild, is the cornerstone in choosing when to enter combat and when not to enter combat. Once used, your character will be able to detect all attacking monsters (with a few exceptions, but this is generally the case). The potion of monster detection is fairly cheap, at 6 gold per turn. After level 7 you really should ALWAYS be using these in combat areas.
Examples of using monster detection:
- Low level Wizards in the Dark Forest might want to use monster detection to avoid getting attacked by Medusa.
- Low level characters can use monster detection to travel through the Dark Forest avoiding the difficult monsters there to the Wild Gardens which contains lucrative items and easier monsters.
- Paladins seeking the Mystic Greatsword in HFM North might want to avoid the majority of fights there, and simply get the item and get out.
- You're in an area you cannot easily escape and are out of healing aids (such as the "Escape from Gar Uta Quest"). Using monster detection allows you to avoid all monsters so you can get out.
- At the very least, you can make sure you are prepared for a fight and don't get jumped. As an example, against a regenerating monster, you would prepare a poison. Or prepare a Wand of Lightning Storm against a large group of foes.
Preparing for Specific Encounters
Picking when to fight is good but not enough. Sometimes, it's necessary to pick fights and prepare for those specific fights. A very important aspect of this game is playing in multiple tabs (or multiple windows). The most common usage of multiple tabs/windows is to change your equipment for a specific encounter.
- Playing with multiple tabs (or windows):
The easiest method is usually to open the inventory in a new tab by right-clicking on "View Items" and selecting "Open in new tab", though most browsers also provide other methods like middle-clicking or Ctrl+clicking (or Shift-clicking for to open a window). By doing this, you can play the actual game in one tab, while using the other tab to adjust the equipment for specific situations you encounter. In a similar vein, you can open the Spells window in yet another tab, to ready or unready spells before combat.
By using this method, you can adjust your equipment, spells, and consumables before specific combat encounters, especially lairs.
The Anti-Magic Gem (purchased from the Wizards Guild) is an extremely important item because it gives +90 MGR (Magic Resist) per use, which is a very high amount due to the cheap price. In comparison, training MGR from 0-50 requires over 1200 turns and 500000 gold. Given the high MGR boost and cheap cost, the Anti-Magic Gem (AMG) is frequently used when a quick MGR boost is needed for fighting spellcasting enemies, such as Black Phantoms, Flesh Hunter Shamans, and Thallis Wizards. A very important aspect of the AMG is that you should have at least TWO stacks readied before going into combat. This is because if you only have one AMG readied, there will be a "gap" in between the rounds in which your character has the AMG effects activated. AMG is used every 4 turns, but lasts 3 turns leaving you vulnerable for 1 turn; which may REALLY change the fate of battle (such as getting paralyzed or entering a "using healing aid" loop). With more than one stack AMG readied, there is no gap and your character will have a +90 MGR for the entire duration which there are at least two stacks of AMGs available.
The Invisibility Gem (purchased from the Wizards Guide) is very important to fragile Spellcasters (Priestess and Wizards). When this item is used, your character becomes invisible for a certain number of rounds, during which you cannot be attacked in physical combat, and by almost any spell attack. Since Wizards and Priestesses can have very high damage due to spells, a good tactic is to equip multiple invisibility gems for especially tough encounters. In many cases, when multiple invisibility gems are equipped, the monster can be destroyed all while invisibility is on (i.e. before it is able to attack you). In more difficult areas, it is sometimes advisable for Wizards to always have 4 invisibility gems readied. If enough gold is available, all classes except the Healer (they have a better invisibility spell) can benefit from invisibility gems. This will help you avoid powerful attacks and spells for long enough to severely weaken or defeat the enemy. In some cases, defense can be safely traded for offense (e.g. Amulet of the Berserker, Belt of Rage, Ring of Devastation, Dark Band), since dodge/parry/MGR don't matter when you can't be hit at all. As an exception to this approach, some monsters have spells or abilites that hit invisible units (e.g. Black Phantoms, Dark Phantoms, Thallis Warrior of Discords). You will get damaged from their special attacks, however you will still avoid their regular attacks. When in doubt, turn invisible! Note that each stack of gems can only be used ONCE in combat (like poisons). However, having multiple stacks equipped will mean that you will use each stack sequentially. As such, with 4 readied gems, you would have 20 rounds of invisibility.
The Wand of Lightning Storm (purchased from the Wizards Guild) is very important to many characters under level 20 as it turns a difficult fight into an easy one, and an impossible fight to a doable one. While 320 gold per usage is not cheap, it's worth the outcome. On round 1, it casts a lightning storm that hits 5 foes for about 20 damage for the next FOUR rounds! The wand is one of the few buffs available during the first 7 levels and is vital for defeating the difficult sewer quest fights for almost all characters. In encounters where a large number of foes are present, the multi-attack power of the Storm will kill most foes before they can even attack.
Note that you do not have to use a full stack of wand in for every fight. For easier fights it may be cost-effective to split the stack and use only a few charges, while on some harder cases it should be better to use multiple stacks to cast more lightning storms. For example if you ready 2 stacks of wands, at round 1 the first stack will be used while at round 5 the second stack will be used; netting in 8 rounds of lightning storm per 12 rounds of cool-down period. A third stack will let you continuously cast lightning storm, though it is questionable whether that specific fight really deserves so much gold spending.
The charged items are heavily nerfed on April 2011, so it's not an existing option to rely on items like "Wands of Lightning Storm" or "Jewels of Fiery Doom" for hard crowded fights like before (though still useful at early and mid game). To encounter this, heroes must rely on items that grant aoe spells like Ring of Mighty Devastation or Amulet of Destruction.
- Against monsters with especially high parry (such as Wendigos and Barbarian Spirits), it's a good strategy to switch equipment that boosts your H2H. Or simply rely on magic.
- Int heroes (including Paladin) fighting a particularly difficult encounter or lair might want to equip attack spell items (Ring of Mighty Devastation) for the specific encounter.
- In many areas, it's beneficial to often switch between h2h/parry-boosting items and MGR-boosting items.
- Against monsters with fast regeneration, use poison or improve your damage dealing as much as possible.
- Against monsters with invisibility, use poison and regeneration items.
- Against monsters with poison, (if you are immune to poison, nothing to worry about) carry a lot of healing items and boost your max health with potions. Don't forget that poison disables regeneration; so using Regeneration Elixirs against poisonous monsters is waste of gold.
- Against monsters with paralyzing/petrifying spells, use poison and regeneration items, in addition to the usual anti-magic measures.
- Remember that poison does nothing to undead and most poisonous plants/animals. (There are a lot of monsters who have Poison Immunity)
Using Consumable Buffs
Several potions confer significant benefits to the user. Utilizing these potions can have a tremendous impact on combat. Later in the game, when there are sufficient funds, it is recommended that these buff potions be "always" on (i.e. you consume a lot of them at once so the effects last for hundreds of turns). When money is more limited, gulping down potions for a specific encounter can be decisive.
- The Medusa Potion (INT +20, Parry +20, MGR +50, HP +45) is possibly the most important consumable buff in the game. It grants +20 INT which is useful not only for Spellcasters' attacks but for all heroes trying to assemble schematics (INT affects the chances of successful assembly). The other bonuses, +20 parry and +50 MGR, are both very significant boosts. Later on in harder areas, Heroes should generally have either the Medusa potion or the Dryad potion 'ON' at all times.
- The Dryad Potion (Artifice +20, Ranged +20, Dodge +35, Parry +30, MGR +30) is an alternative to the Medusa potion. As you can see, it also offers significant, although different defensive boosts.
- The Potion of Dirgo Strength (Strength +40) is very important to all melee and ranged heroes because each hit on the enemy has its damage effectively increased by 5. The importance of this potion is GREATLY increased after weight addition to the game. So basicly you will want to have this on all the times, maybe along with the cheap Potion of Goblin Strength.
- The Fire Balm (+5 Damage for Ranged Weapons) is an additional damage boost available to ranged heroes. It's inexpensive too, so try to keep a large stock of it.
- The Tonic of Speed (Winged Feet enchantment) provides a +20% chance to perform a double attack during each combat round as a result of the Winged Feet enchantment. Therefore, this potion increases the damage of melee and ranged attacks by 20% for heroes that do not have the double attack ability.
What if something goes wrong and you die in combat? No problem if you have resurrections available. When you die without resurrections, you lose an amount of turns equal to half of your level, 10% of your gold and EXP equal to 10% of your level-up EXP. Having resurrections available (pre-purchased) prevents all of these losses when dying. For most heroes, resurrections are purchased from the Temple to Agrela at the cost of 5000 gold in donation (or praying worth of 2500 piety) for one use of resurrection. Heroes who cannot enter this temple may purchase slightly more expensive Reanimations at the Temple to Krypta , which are equivalent to Resurrections. Barbarians who cannot enter either temple must use the Mausoleum in Valmorgen. Obviously, the cost is prohibitive for starting characters (under level 20). However, as you level up, experience is more difficult to acquire, you will have more gold to lose to a death anyways, and the turn loss increases. Therefore, resurrections begin to become cost-effective at a certain point in your career.