My brother’s playing as the High Elves, and it has occurred to me that they are not the most straightforward to play (that would be Taurox, to whom curves are mere suggestions). Anyhow, someone else might listen to this too, which is more than I’ve ever done with advice.
I’ll start with a guide to what you should do initially, then talk about how to exploit the mechanics effectively, before giving some specific tips about how to play, before closing with a look at their big fancy guys Legendary Lords.
Alternatively, play Taurox or Skarbrand, because thinking is for chumps.
The legendary lords (LLs) have different starts, but they can really be divided into two groups: those who start on Ulthuan (big island in the Great Ocean. Based off Thomas More’s Utopia, uninterestingly enough), and those who don’t.
Those who do – Tyrion, Alarielle and Eltharion – have an early scramble to evict their unfriendly neighbours, and are then more sedate. Those who don’t – Teclis, Alith Anar and Imrik – all need to send a hero up to Ulthuan to restore contact as soon as possible for trade, confederation and outposts.
Either way, early on you have two concerns: managing public order (PO) and getting influence. For the first, the High Elves (no, not like that) have four downsides: their settlements don’t give PO, their entertainment building gives less than most in return for income, they don't have a +PO commandment, and their hero with +PO as a skill is only available in a tier 4 settlement.
So: build the entertainment buildings everywhere, and I mean everywhere. Alarielle has a skill that gives +2PO factionwide, and for each of the legendary lords getting them all their items will give +1PO factionwide. Don’t loot and occupy, and try to get a source of wine as early as possible, because the tech that unlocks (under Trade Advancements) gives +2PO factionwide. Lastly, enact the Rite of Asuryan as often as possible.
All of this is less important on lower difficulties, but you get 50% extra income from industry and entertainment buildings from having 100 PO.
For the second: influence is the magic currency for High Elves, other than actual magic. It’s the difference between this:
That’s the first use, recruiting Lords and Heroes with good traits; the second lets you manipulate relationships between factions, which is nice for making friends, which is boring, don’t do that, the game isn’t called Total Friendship, is it? Anyhow, late game you’ll get enough from the Embassy building and outposts, but early you need to hoard it so you can recruit a good second lord.
First, that means building an Elven Gardens in your first settlement so you can get a Noble, then sending that Noble to secure influence on a settlement. Second, it means making use of some of the less harmful 0-influence traits; -10% physical resistance is fine on a hero who you only use as an agent.
Anyhow, back to war. Early game you’re lucky, in that archers and spearmen are good for their type. Use your Lords and Heroes to distract the enemy while you shoot them to bits. Try to replace your spearmen with Lothern Sea Guard as soon as you can, so both your frontline and backline can shoot. You’ll want to bring one Bolt Thrower (or Tree Kin) so walls don’t hold you up for a turn.
Never mind that.
It may be worth recruiting an Archmage to bring along, even if you have a caster LL, so they can put those points somewhere more useful.
So that’s the early game difficulties avoided, now what?
In short, go! While their worst excesses have been trimmed down from TWW2, the High Elf economy is easy to break.
Look at an Prince or Princess’ skill tree. Look at the ‘Dedicated to Mathlann’ skill. Do you see it?
Yes, factionwide. And this stays even if the Lord is disbanded, as long as they’re still alive (I think). In the blue line, there’s Merchant Lord and Elven Scholar as well.
As for your Heros, all Handmaidens get Favoured of Isha (+1PO factionwide) and forthcoming (+5% trade tariffs), and can also get Fecund (+5 growth oh just assume I mean factionwide, I’m tired of repeating it) as a trait. Loremasters can also get Fecund.
Nobles get Knowledge of Man’s Affairs:
They can also get two very useful traits: Emollient, which gives +1PO, and Conscientious, which gives +2 Lord and Hero recruit rank. This means you can recruit Heros and Lords starting with the good skills. Any of the landmarks that give global recruit rank are worth making a priority; there’s one in Clar Karond that Alith Anar can get early, and one each in Gaean Vale and Lothern at rank 5.
So you’ve got your economy going. Now what? Well, you have two limiting factors: Influence, and your paltry global recruitment. For influence, build Embassies and get outposts. You can use hero actions against a faction’s enemies to make them like you more so you can get a defensive alliance, or just use your cash. You can also spend Influence to improve relations enough for them to sign one treaty, which will increase relations subsequently so that you can sign more.
Outposts also help with the next problem: High Elves have no buildings to increase global recruitment capacity. In addition to allied recruitment from outposts, try to get Tyrion and get his Sense of Urgency skill, for +2 global recruitment capacity and -1 turn global recruitment time. Eltharion gives +1 for completing his item set. Build the recruitment buildings everywhere; your aim is 1-turn recruitment of Sisters of Avelorn. This is easy for Alarielle, and harder for everyone else.
Which brings me rather neatly to my next topic. The Asur have a wide and interesting roster, so it’s a pity you don’t need most of it. Sisters of Averlorn have AP magical ranged attacks, and are vicious against anything, especially now magic resistance only applies to spells. Your ideal army late game, although opinions vary on the details, will be enough Heros and frontline – I use Lothern Sea Guard (Shields) – to distract the enemy, and then as many Sisters as you can fit. Some people will recommend nothing but Sisters, but that’s slower to recruit and the AI has learnt how to dodge shots, so you can no longer rely on melting the enemy before they get in melee range.
If you have the patience to sit around recruiting units for a few turns you can make better armies, but I don't.
As for the details, getting a good artillery piece from an outpost will let you shoot wall towers in sieges, and is recommended. Getting four Helstorm Rocket Batteries so the enemy can’t manage to advance makes life easier, but also much funnier, and is especially recommended. You can add cavalry to deal with enemy artillery, but if you only have a few melee units in an army auto-resolve will kill them off, so I generally use the Lord on a dragon. As always, bring at least one mage, a Loremaster to heal if your other mage can’t, and either a Noble or a Handmaiden for replenishment.
Overall, you should end up with armies that can win 2v1; because you can’t teleport armies like some people (looking at you, Oxyotl), you’ll have to.
Specific Tips 1
Archmages of Metal on a Moon Dragon currently have 10x the health they should. This is obviously a typo, but still. Rest in RIP.
Mages of the Lore of Fire get a Sun Dragon as a mount. It’s the worst dragon, but it’s still a dragon.
Archmages get Chain Lightning twice a battle for free at level 10, which is mildly unfair.
Hand of Glory out of High Magic is more powerful than it looks. It can halve the reload time of Sisters, and triggers Shield of Saphery cheaply.
None of the Lores of Magic are completely useless, but only one lets you drop comets on people.
Seriously though, the only way you'll find out which works best for you is trying them out. Even if you played TWW2, they've rebalanced things considerably. Do try Searing Doom from the Lore of Metal, it's cheap and does decent damage.
Transformation of Kadon out of the Lore of Beasts summons a Great Eagle not a Feral Manticore, which is slightly worse.
At high veterancy, Sisters can get too accurate, as they’ll aim at the same spot and miss if the enemy changes course.
Currently, Channelling Spire doesn’t wear off properly. This can be useful in long battles where you have one spellcaster who can stay in the same place.
Your channelling stance (Lileath’s Blessing) is powerful – the +50% XP for spellcasters is valuable on its own. There’s lots of opportunities to use it: if you start out 150% of movement range from a settlement then move 90% in stance and you can attack turn 2 exactly the same, but you’ve channelled for a turn.
Ward of Loec (+10% Missile Resistance) is useful, because heros and lords have 15% base, so the reduction is from 85% to 75%, which is effectively a 11.8% reduction in damage taken.
Archmages get Greater Ward for 10% Ward Save, which is just great.
Your characters on dragons are very vulnerable to missiles, so don't dawdle in range of enemy missile troops.
Conversely, characters on chariots are great for baiting out and dodging missile fire.
Your armies are vulnerable to ambushes, so the ‘Wary’ skill is useful. This goes double with battle realism mode on, because you may not have time to pivot your units individually. Avoid going into march stance against Skaven or Beastmen, because they can ambush-on-attack.
Minor Settlement battles should be easy for you. Just advance slowly, shoot the enemy towers with your archers (they have no armour or missile resistance), and use your Lord and Heros to stop the enemy charging you.
The enemy should end up like this:
Walled settlements are harder, but as long as you have an artillery piece or the Hammer of Vaul to destroy the wall towers, and a flying unit to pick off regular towers, you can do pretty much the same.
It’s worth bringing a healing mage in every army. My recommended composition leaves your Lords and Heroes to do the tanking, and so they will appreciate not dying. A Loremaster with Earthblood is fine, just remember to keep your Heroes close enough you can heal them all at once.
Don’t overcast Earth Blood; the lore attribute (Lifebloom) gives you more healing by casting it twice, for the same cost.
This also applies to Loremasters, because you get twice the reserves from Life Leeching.
If you’ve got healing spells, use up any reserves you have left at the end of the battle to top up your single entities. Healing multi-entity units is only worth it if you can resurrect, which you can’t.
With the change to two recruitment slots base, plan where you're going to recruit armies, and use the Rally Civilian Militia commandment the turn before.
If you recruit a lord at a high level, they may not end up on the best mount. Check this BEFORE going into battle.
It’s worth sending a hero over to contact Tor Elasor, south of the Dragon Isles, and east of the tip of the Southlands. They’re safe to trade with, and if you confederate them Ku’gath is the only one who might attack.
Nobles are mediocre in battle (Great Eagles aren’t great) but have three very good agent actions.
A Noble running ahead of an army can assault units, assassinate heroes, and most importantly warn you if you’re running into four armies at once.
So you can kill them all at once, naturally.
All the regions of Ulthuan should have a landmark, but Ellyrion is currently missing theirs. Nagarythe's is also not very useful, providing only local bonuses.
Tyrion is weirdly eager to confederate. Do so, because you really don’t want him to take the Bloodline of Aenarion and lock you out of the global recruitment slots.
Because it takes you a (comparatively) long time to raise a new army at the front, plan your conquests. Break pacts ahead of time, to avoid the reliability penalty.
Sun Dragons are not great; they’re huge targets and not that tough. Moon Dragons are good, and Star Dragons are better, but they take three turns to recruit, and your Lord gets a dragon anyway. All dragons are good at punting the enemy off walls to their death. Style points for doing it to a hero. They don’t die, but it’s funny watching them run back inside.
Dragon Princes are good heavy cavalry, but Silver Helms are a 1-turn recruit, and auto-resolve kills them all anyway.
In terms of climate, Naggarond is mostly habitable for you, and if you control the northern coast of Ulthuan, the Dark Elves will send armies at you, so you might as well go and wipe them out.
Be’la’kor will also send armies at you, so it’s worth going up and razing Albion, or even keeping an army there as a tempting target for the Norscans.
Always do the Rite of Vaul; some of the items are very powerful. Stick the Helm of Khaine on a flying Lord, and you can stall out field battles without losing. Unless you retreated or marched, but why would you do that?
Bolt Throwers exist. Almost any other faction has better artillery. Use them instead.
You don’t need a military alliance to upgrade your outposts. This means you can put an outpost in a minor settlement, then upgrade it to rank 3 to get access to their global recruitment units.
Sea Lanes take -1 turn to sail for you. It might be worth going west from Ulthuan to Lustria then Cathay. It’s not the best climate, but it’s safe.
+Trade tariffs isn’t the same as +trade overall, but it’s still extra money.
If you’re having trouble chasing down fleeing enemies, Melkoth’s Mystifying Miasma out of the Lore of Shadows works well, and Net of Amyntok (Lore of Light) or Entangle (Handmaiden skill) work best of all.
The tier 5 dragons building gives +1 lord recruit rank, which is worth making a space for.
Your flying units like to fly up and over buildings, which can take ages. It’s often quicker to go around them.
Seriously, look at this dumbass:
Streltsi fit into your frontline; Waywatchers fit into your backline. This can be very helpful if you’re a few units short on recruitment capacity. Ice Guard fit anywhere. Chameleon Skinks don’t fit anywhere, but are adorable.
Early on, if you have the hero capacity (from the Short Victory), it’s worth recruiting a few mages just to go Steal Technology. Three can get you +90% research rate at a cost of about 2000 a turn.
Specific Tips 2
(Steam has a limit on section length)
Corner-camping is stupid, un-fun, unrealistic and downright embarrassing. And it works.
Outposts in High Elf factions don’t give new units, but they do give extra recruitment slots and Influence.
The -corruption commandment is useful, but don’t forget to switch to something else once the corruption is gone.
The Northern half of outer Ulthuan will be under consistent attacks from Dark Elves, Norsca, and whoever else decides to wander along, so build recruitment buildings and garrison buildings.
There's a very useful technology under Cultural Advancements called Maritime Empire which reveals all sea regions to you. On the one hand, it makes contact with a bunch of people who can then declare war on you, but on the other it lets you see their armies coming and recruit a half stack.
The other first technology there gives +10% movement range, which is always powerful.
If only for running away from a doomstack.
If you have two turn's warning, you can recruit a few units, then put them into ambush stance next to the settlement. If the enemy army tries to land and attack, they'll have a chance to be ambushed.
You want them to attack, because auto-resolve favours settlements massively, and otherwise they'll wander along looking for a vulnerable settlement.
When I say massively, I mean it:
Alarielle gets a skill that gives -1 recruitment time to Sisters of Averlorn factionwide. This is essential, and you must take it.
Securing a source of medicinal plants is tricky for some LLs, but lets you get the Healing Salve technology under Trade Advancements, giving +5% casualty replenishment, which is particularly useful if you're wandering into Chaos Wastes.
Healing potions are very useful. If you don't have enough, you can swap them about before each battle. This is enormously cheesy and I approve wholeheartedly. Why can you drink the same potion several times, anyway?
I am very hasty on the campaign map; be aware of this if you play more cautiously.
CA pls add Jinetes pls.
The Legendary Lords
The Asur have six flavours of Legendary Lord, none of which get a dinosaur. But they do have their redeeming features.
Alarielle: Great faction mechanics, start isn’t too hard, mediocre in battle. Doesn’t have a good killy spell, and doesn’t have the health to make use of her healing. Bring a fire mage along for best results, as Kindleflame applies to the Sisters too.
Tyrion: THE duelist lord. Will beat almost anyone 1v1, and decent against mass infantry, as long as it’s not elite halberds. Give him a mage from the Lore of Life, and he just will not die. His faction buffs are also dull but good. Start is the easiest; may be worth making a quick trip south to kill Noctilus before he starts causing you problems.
Teclis: Tough start, and the faction traits aren’t great. Vicious in battle, and Flock of Doom is worth spamming right now. Needs no help whatsoever to slaughter the enemy, but appreciates another flyer to prevent him getting swarmed. Whoever chose the colour scheme for his mount is clearly colourblind.
Alith Anar: Surrounded by enemies/dead men. Not the easiest start, but very powerful mechanics; movement range is always good, and the Hand of the Shadow Crown can assassinate generals! Gets Shadow-walkers, which you could make an entire army out of. And should. As for himself, he’s a ranged lord, so not brilliant, but he’s decent in a scrap and can make a duplicate. Did I mention he has both underway and ambush-on-attack stances?
Imrik: Yeah, not the nicest start, especially with the mission to confederate Caledor not always working. But makes up for it with DRAGONS and also an ability that heals him for 32% of his health, three times a battle. Only of the lords not to give factionwide buffs when not faction leader, because he’s an arsehole. I mean, so are all but one of the others, but he’s such an arsehole even the other Asur think he’s a prideful numpty.
Eltharion: Weird split start; I’d not bother conquering the Badlands, if just because you can be attacked from all directions. Unique mechanics are powerful, and more importantly funny (what’s that Be’la’kor, you’ve been locked up? Can’t do the time, don’t get shot to pieces by a far superior army, that’s what they say). Unlock the second slot first, then the building that gets you the Mistwalker units. In battle decidedly meh, not great casting or fighting, and much squishier than you’d think. But he gives essentially unlimited ammo to the entire army, so a net positive. Also gives -2 turns construction time for walls, which is very useful.
Gary: No, that’s the Bastiladon, even if he is adorable.
In a previous guide, I claimed that some Lizardmen names were puns. It has been brought to my attention that most of the rest are also puns, but in Dutch. I apologise wholeheartedly for this nigh-unforgivable error.
Also, the rest of the High Elf roster is good and worth using; I'm just too impatient to sit around for three turns to get a dragon.
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