Understanding Stacking

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This Guide is no longer being updated by me due to my official retirement from the game, This page however is left unprotected in the hopes that someone will be up to the task of keeping it up to date and possibly even adding additional information. - Signed, Alzorath.

Contents

The Basics

To really undestand stacking, you must first understand some basic groundwork, and that's what this section is for. If you already know what stacks, stack multipliers, net power, dummy stacks, etc. are - then you can skip this first section and move on to the more advanced content below.


What are Stacks?

"Stack" is a commonly used term to refer to a group of units, a stack could be anything from 1 Unicorn to 10,000 Unicorns. "Stacking" is a group of stacks, or the act of ordering these stacks. You can only have one stack of a type of unit in your actual army (ie - the army you see in the Status Report). We will cover the importance of the term 'actual army' later in the guide.
 
The size of the stack in relation to your total army size, can be seen in the Battle Report with the percents next to your unit name. These percents can be calculated using the following formula:

(( Unit Power Rank * # of Units ) / Total Army Power )

  • Unit Power Rank: The "Power Rank" listed in the Encyclopedia
  • # of Units: The number of Units in the stack
  • Total Army Power: Sum of (Unit Power Rank * # of Units) of all stacks in your army.

Why aren't my stacks listed by power?

Stacks in the Disband Screen are ordered by their position in battle rather than their actual net power. This is because in battle, different conditions cause certain units to move higher in a stacking. Knowledge of the ordering of stacks in battles is very important to succesfully managing your stacks in a strategic sense. To calculate the order of stacks in battles, we use so-called "stack multipliers". This sometimes gets players confused, because it is misread that stacks are more powerful than they actually are.

  • The multiplier only used to to determine the ORDER of the stacks, it does not augment their abilities.
  • There are 3 types of units that each get a different multiplier.
  • 1x Multiplier: Ranged units, which are units with a primary attack that is ranged. (examples: Lich, Efreeti, Dryad)
  • 1.5x Multiplier: Non-Ranged/Non-Flying units, which do not possess the flying ability, and do not have a ranged primary attack. (examples: Salamander, Unholy Reaver, Unicorn)
  • 2.25x Multiplier: Flying units, which are units that posess the ability flying, this multiplier will be the multiplier for the unit regardless of their attack type. (examples: Air Elemental, Phoenix, Pegasus)

The basic idea is: Flyers are pushed to the front, ranged troops are pushed to the back.

These multipliers only apply to the units' natural abilities. This is important, because some items and spells can e.g. make your unit fly. But no item, spell, enchantment or hero will influence stack ordering - only the natural abilities do (Example: So yes, with the item Carpet of Flying you will still keep that 15% stack of Liches, behind that 10% stack of Djinni). You can lookup the properties of each unit in the Encyclopedia. At some point you will know them by heart for those units that you regularly use and those that you regularly encounter in battles.


Is there a limit on number and size of stacks?

Number of stacks: there is a limit Yes and No.

  • In your kingdom you can have as many stacks as there are units in the game (over 100)
  • But only the 10 largest stacks (by net power) will enter combat the normal way
    • (usually you can determine this just by looking at the percents, sometimes though you'll have stacks too close for the percents to differentiate - so then it's useful to be able to calculate - if stacks are exactly the same NP, the one that goes into battle is determined by their order in the unit database).
  • your allies can send you an extra stack (see reinforcements section below)
  • your heroes, items and spells can create temporarily extra stacks in battle (see dummy stacks section below)

Size of stacks: there is a limit No and Yes:

  • A stack of any unit can be as small as 1 single soldier, or as large as 10,000,000 of them - or more!
  • You have limited summoning, recruiting and upkeep capacities though
    • (so mages defending more land, usually do so with larger armies)

What stacks are send as reinforcements?

Sending reinforcements is impacted by several factors in the game:
- Distance between allies in ranking (close allies will send higher stacks than distant allies).
- Duration of alliance (you may send reinforcements straight away, but it takes time for an alliance to 'mature' to where you'll reliably send higher stacks to a near ally).
- Net Power of stacks (you can only send stacks that are 3rd or lower in Net Power). Sample Stack: 30% Djinni/35% Lich/35% Efreeti - you would only send Djinni as reinforcements, even though they are listed as the top stack in your status report (this is because they are the 3rd in Net Power of the 3 stacks).


If you want to reliably send reinforcements to an ally, you should focus on having as many stacks as possible (within reason). Generally a good rule of thumb is that if an ally is near you they will take stacks 3-5, if further away they will tend to take 6-10 (based on Net Power).

Basic Terms

To understand stacking, you will need to understand some of the terms used in discussion of stacking, here are a list of the terms that I most commonly use.


Types of Stacks

Different types of stacks serve different purposes - here are some terms:

Hitters & Soakers

Hitters and Soakers are two terms commonly applies to units in general. Hitters are units that can deal out significant damage - and are usually your key to dealing enough damage to win land on offense. Soakers are units that are good at taking damage, and are key in preventing damage to your more fragile units.
 
Some examples of 'Hitters': Horned Demon, Mind Ripper, Air Elemental, Titan, Earth Elemental, Treant (with Plant Growth), Chimera, Fire Elemental.
 
Some examples of 'Soakers': Archangel, Unicorn, Leviathan, Lich, Red Dragon, Treant (with Plant Growth).
 
Obviously you can't just grab one of these units, put it in your stack and have it perform 100% of the time, you have to think about who will be hitting you, what will be hitting you, and where these units strengths and weaknesses are. That however is a discussion for a color guide, not a stacking guide.

Fake Stacks

Fake stacks are small stacks designed solely to distract hits from your higher stacks. Fake stacks are typically 1 summon, or a very small stack, of expendable units. Fake stacks are most commonly used by mono-stackers and shallow stackers to help reduce the impact deep stackers have against them. Fake stacks can be comprised of any unit in the game, the key though is keeping the total net power of the stack small enough to not lose the battle for you, but large enough to distract the enemy stack. Usually you do not want the total % of all your fakes stacks added up to add up over 7% (lower is better, if you can get it below 3% and still have them be effective, all the better). The key is that you don't want the Loss to main stack + Loss of fake stacks to add up to over 10%, or it will cost you the battle usually. Fake stacks are commonly put under the misnomer of 'fodder stacks' - while they can serve the purpose of fodder, fakes are not there for the numbers, they are there solely to prevent hits on your main army.

Fatigue Stacks

Fatigue stacks are usually 3 initative, or higher, stacks, many times ranged to prevent counters from damaging them - although it is not a requirement (Sprites and FD for example make great 'suicidal fatigue stacks' that die when they fatigue an enemy stack). Fatiguing is the term of causing the opponent to suffer efficiency penalties by striking 1 stack multiple times (take my word on it for now, if you don't know Battle Mechanics). The size of the stack does not impact the amount of fatigue they cause - 1 Elvish magician can cause the same amount of fatigue as 20,000 Elvish Magicians - 20,000 however might actually kill something. The most commonly used units for fatigue are 3 initiative, small, ranged units - however there are some units that are great at fatigue that do not fit that mold, such as: Mind Ripper with its 3 init ranged primary, Efreeti with its 4 init ranged primary, Air Elemental with a 4 init ranged primary, and flying to boot, and then Sprite and Faerie Dragon both high initiative fliers *however they get hurt by counters*. Fatigue stacks aren't necessary to playing, but they are a very useful tool, and are the most common solution to filling up a full 10 stack army before a real deep stacking is feasible.

Fodder Stacks

Fodder stacks serve 1 purpose: Giving you enough units to gain maximum land on attacks. To gain maximum land on attacks you need to make sure you have enough units surviving after the attack to capture all the acres you want - the formula for sieges is (5 * Total Land of Target), the formula for regulars is (2.5 * Total Land of Target) - So against a 3000 land mage, you want 15,000 Units surviving after a siege to capture maximum land (100 Captured, 200 destroyed), or 7,500 surviving after a regular (50 Captured, 100 destroyed). Sometimes fodder stacks will serve other purposes (example: Knight Templar) while others are there simply for the fact you can get them in large numbers and will tend to still have enough left after battle for full land (example: Zombie). The key to remember - it's better to have a 95% win rate and get 90% of maximum land, than it is to have a 50% success rate and win 100% of the land - Fodder can cost you battles if it gets into bad matchups, or gives you so much power you can't do enough damage to win. After certain land totals you should consider switching to stacks where you don't explicitly need to keep a 'fodder' stack.

Dummy Stacks

Dummy stacks are temporary stacks in battle these include: Succubus from Dreams of Seduction, Shadow Monster from Mirage Monster, Capsule Monster from the item of the same name, Devil from Contract of the Soul, Squirrel from the Summoner Hero, and Illusionary versions of your own units from the Illusionist.


Stacking Techniques

There are terms used for different types of stacking techniques, each has its own pros and cons, and should be considered based on the current status of the server you're playing on. And yes, multiple titles can apply to the same stacking.

Gimmick Stacking

Gimmick stacking is a term used for basically any explicit 'counter stack' that serves no other function except to counter a specific 'common stack'. Some examples would be:
- Mono-Sprite w/ Sleep, Mono-Sylph w/ Double Time, or Mono/Heavy Nix w/ Oil Flask (all 3 are designed as counters to Mono-Dominion Whites, but don't serve much purpose beyond that)
- Mono-Zombie w/ Flight (gimmick stack designed to help blacks recover from an intense CoS run - not 100% fool proof though).
- Vamp over Heavy Ranged blue (counter to the common DoS/Carpet using black).
 
Basically it is any stack that is designed for an extremely 'niche' purpose - and isn't truly feasible for any other purpose. Gimmick stacks are set apart by this lack of versitility.

All-Flying Stacking

All-Flying stacks are exactly what they sound like - stacks comprised entirely of units with the natural ability "FLYING". All-Flying stacks have several advantages over other stacking techniques - Non-Ranged, Non-Flying units cannot hit flying units (reduces damage you take), you do not suffer an accuracy penalty when sieging on offense (helps the damage you deal), and are fairly easy to defend with. Their disadvantages though are: Limited number of flying units keeps your flexibility to a minimum, no matter the color will rely heavily on other colors for units, and after a certain land tend to be very inefficient at dealing damage and resummoning after a run (most of the strong flying units are either too slow or too unreliable for summoning at higher land).
 
Example of an All-Flying Stacking:
Red Dragon 30%
Chimera 25%
Vampire 20%
Wraith 15%
Wyvern 3%
Griffon 3%
Pegasus 2%
Sprite 1%
Sylph .5%
Angel .5%

Ground Pounder Stacking

Ground Pounder stacks are almost the exact opposite of All-Flying stacks. Ground Pounder stacks tend to be heavy on non-ranged, non-flying units (although sometimes a ground pounder will incorporate a few strong ranged stacks). Basically ground pounders aim to win on the ground, or win with the use of a carpet. Ground Pounding stacks tend to be capable of dealing out massive punishment. And even though green is the best at this type of stacking (thanks mainly to Treants), the other colors can also amass fairly tough ground pounder stackings. An advantage of Ground Pounder stackings, is it's harder for an opponent to 'mix and match' their units to aim at a specific unit of yours - because ground units can be struck by ANY UNIT, usually enemy stacks will match up 1st stack to 1st stack, 2nd to 2nd, 3rd to 3rd, etc. letting you have more control over which of your stacks is being hit by which of your opponents stacks. (All-Flying are more prone to 'mix and match' attacks because of how units match up - this is covered later on).
 
Example of a Ground Pounder stacking:
Unholy Reaver 30%
Horned Demon 20%
Efreeti 15%
Lich 15%
Medusa 9%
Salamander 9%
Dark Elf Magician .5%
Psychic Wisp .5%
Dryad .5%
Orcish Archer .5%

Mono-Stacking & Mono-Stacking w/ Fakes/Fatigues/Fodder/etc.

Mono-Stacking is again, what it sounds like, a stacking that is comprised of 1 very powerful stack, sometimes alone, sometimes followed by 'fake stacks' or 'Fatigue Stacks' or 'Fodder Stacks' etc. - Mono Stacking is most commonly used in defensive situations (by placing a highly defensive unit as your mono-stack, an assignment to help it, and then sitting there 'turtled up' to defend), however it also has offensive uses, especially when it comes to bringing down opponents much stronger than you (a take-down technique is oversummoning on 1 ultimate beyond reason, and attacking a target - decimating their top stack, and making counters easier to take for your guildmates). Here are 2 examples of Mono Stackings:
 
Mono Stacking:
Dominion 100%
 
Mono Stacking w/ Fatigues:
Unicorn 99.1%
Efreeti .2%
Catapult .1%
Renegade Wizard .1%
Nymph .1%
Psychic Wisp .1%
Dryad .1%
Soul Speaker .1%
Archer .1%

Shallow Stacking

Shallow stacking is when you've got most of your power in your top stacks, usually limited to the top 2 to 4 stacks. Shallow Stacking is most common in the mid-ranks where deep stacking isn't feasible, and mono-stacking has too many weaknesses exposed. Shallow Stacking is also a good way to deal with opponents who start deep stacking too early (or who leave a weakness open to your shallow stack). Shallow Stacking can be a powerful tool for gaining land if you can control your units and matchups well enough to gain maximum land on attacks, while still packing enough offensive punch in your top stacks to deal the damage (harder than it looks - because you are more likely to run into soakers in the top stacks, and softer units in the lower stacks - and their lower stacks are usually intended to damage your higher stacks, fodder, or fakes).
 
Example of a shallow stacking:
Phoenix 21%
Treant 30%
Earth Elemental 24%
Mandrake 20%
Efreeti 3%
Nymph .5%
Dryad .5%
Elven Magician .5%
Druid .3%
Soul Speaker .2%

Deep Stacking

A deep stack is when someone stacks the majority of their power into 6 or more stacks. Deep stacking is useful against mono-stacking, and mono-stacking w/ fakes - this is because you can match a 'soaker' with your opponent's mono-stack, and then focus on dealing damage with your deeper stacks. Deep stacking is also the most versitile in allowing you to attack a wider variety of opponents by mixing strengths and weaknesses of units to deal with multiple threats. Deep Stacking tends to only be truly effective at higher land where the cost of summoning is more justified and feasibly attainable.
 
Example of a Deep Stack:
Archangel 9%
Unicorn 13%
Knight Templar 12%
Titan 12%
Spirit Warrior 11%
Medusa 8%
Werebear 8%
Mind Ripper 10%
High Priest 10%
Nymph 7%


Combat

Combat is the focal point of any stacking you create and employ in your kingdom. Goals of stacks can be as varied as the people playing the game, but they tend to fall into 4 categories based on 'kill' and 'loss' goals. And to effectively create a stack that will fit your target 'kill' and 'loss' amounts requires knowledge of stack pairing and combat modifiers. You will notice that every option has an upside, and a downside.

General Goals

The 'kill' and 'loss' categories are split into 4, here we will cover the 4 categories and how they are usually employed. The major issue is, when deciding what category you're aiming for, you have to think about what your opponents will be stacking - and then decide how best to deal with those. Most players alternate between 2-3 of these categories during a reset.

Offensive Glass

"High Loss & High Kill" is the setting for 'offensive glass' style stackings (also term for units that fit well into this playstyle). Offensive Glass commonly has 2 uses in gameplay - Quick Damaged status and Target Softening. In both cases you want to do as much damage as possible, and it's easier if you're softening and not caring about gaining land to merely focus on dealing that damage rather than absorbing any of it. While you don't completely ignore defense in this setup, you will tend to focus on amplifying your damage as high as possible in as many possibile situations. Control is important to the success of most of these stacks (meaning you NEED barriers).
 
Defensive Logic: Win by Dealing a higher % damage to attacker | Lose High % of NP to enter "Damaged" status quicker
Defensive Problem: Stacks easily "screwed up" | If unlucky, or improperly done, a player is very likely to lose land on the last attack before entering damaged
Offensive Logic: Deal as much damage as possible to target's key stacks to allow allies to deal more damage on their counter attacks
Offensive Problem: Many times will take more damage than you deal against a solid stack, and fail to gain land | sometimes has problems with lack of fodder

Solid Stacking

"Low Loss & High Kill" is the general target of a solid all-purpose stacking. Basically this is the generic goal of most players who prefer to keep their strategy simple and to the point. Bad part is this is often very difficult to actually pull off, and also leaves you open to more attacks (although people will rarely want to revisit a kingdom they do very little damage on, and take a big hit in return). Most difficult of the 4 stacking types to maintain and use, most beneficial on offense. This is also usually the target for people learning a color, or even learning the game, only later will you likely start to experiment with the different valued general stacking goals and their benefits. This is a general luke-warm, 'good strategy', stacking for people learning and veterans alike if they are undecisive as to what they are aiming for with their kingdom (is also the ideal 'attacking' type). Worth Noting: This is category is also often considered the preverbial 'perfect stack' that doesn't exist (but several can come 'close' in multiple cases)
 
Defensive Logic: Take very little damage, reducing chance of losing land | Deal high damage detering people from multiple visits
Defensive Problem: Oftentimes has exploitable weakpoints that it can't compensate for | Enters "Damaged" status slowly, more opportunities for exploited weakpoints
Offensive Logic: Deal more than 10% damage to opponent and take minimal losses while doing so | Key to long attack runs
Offensive Problem: Oftentimes reliant on item or spell getting through to actually maintain 'low loss & high kill'

Turtling

"Low Loss & Low Kill" is the principle of 'turtling'. It is commonly used by people who aren't doing attack runs (hard to convert over before attacking after a certain point), and with the exception of some black mages, are prone to pillaging usually due to this lack of attacking. Turtling is annoying at worst to other players, because you usually don't do enough damage to deter them from trying again (a lucky item or spell can usually mean the downfall of an unprepared 'turtle'). This is commonly used by gelders and explorers, very often below the 3.5k land explore limit, and is rarely more than 1 stack (and if so, it's usually 'fakes' and 'fatigue').
 
Defensive Logic: Take very little damage, to prevent land-loss
Defensive Problem: Doesn't deter people from trying to hit you again | Enters "Damaged" status slowly, allowing more attempts to break your shell
Offensive Logic: Deal just over 10% damage, and use quick-summoned fodder to gain land
Offensive Problem: Usually doesn't work well, resulting in "insufficient damage" frequently, and requiring fodder resummon

Sacrificial

"High Loss & Low Kill" is the principle behind this, and is most often used by catfishers, or other players, desiring to drop land and power so they can get access at lower opponents easier. Basically get a bunch of 'junk' that is easy to kill, and put it in places where it won't do much damage (small ranged fodder, barracks units, or weaker simple units are ideal). There isn't much use for this beyond this little niche field. Sometimes people fall into this category with poor stacking techniques. The goal is to lose land, it defies Logic in terms of achieving the game's goals - so there really isn't any "Defensive" or "Offensive" Logic, you're intentionally aiming to fail at both of these areas.


The Combat Formula

To use the formula to your advantage, you first have to know the formula, so here it is pasted from my FAQ (where you can view more information on this subject):
 
Damage = #ofattackers * AttackPower * Efficiency * Accuracy * Rand * (1-(avgres)) * OtherMultipliers
 
The fields of most interest to us in this formula for this section are:
"#ofattackers" - The number of units in an enemy stack, affected by killing enemy units.
"AttackPower" - The Damage a single unit deals before modifiers, affected by a wide array of things in significant amounts (enchantments, heroes, items, spells)
"Efficiency" - A unit's "efficiency" mainly affected by fatigue, and select items/spells.
"Accuracy" - A unit's "accuracy" that is influenced by spells, items, and heroes mainly, a very good stat to modify.
"(1-(avgres))" - A unit's 'average resistance' to an attack, modifiable by items and spells mainly.
 
We also add 1 additional field that we don't see in common discussion of the combat formula - "Initiative" - which basically determines the order the units attack in.
 
All 5 of the fields above are of interest because they are controllable aspects of combat, that affect the outcome of battle, and each have varying levels of value in 'modifying' depending on the situation. The next few subsections cover each of these aspects in detail and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of modifying that amount. The reason we focus solely on these modifiable aspects is to know how we can turn an otherwise 'losing battle' into a win through altering and modifying the battle environment to our whims through items, spells, heroes, and enchantments.

Number of Units

"#ofattackers" is the shortened version of "Number of Attackers" (or "Number of Units"). And essentially indicates the quantity of units in the stack. This is the only modifiable aspect of battle, that can be modified non-battle (even enchantments only modify in-battle, enchantments have no effect on damage you deal when blocking a pillage for example). The way you modify this out of battle is simple - summon units. Oversummoning is your tool for positively affecting your "#ofattackers", there is no effect in-battle to increase your units for the sake of damage dealing. In-battle you can negatively affect your opponents' "#ofattackers" by killing their units before they use their attack. This is the most straightforward of the modifiers, and also the simplest to determine effects on.

Attack Power

There are 3 types of attack power: Primary (Attack Power), Counter (Counter Attack) and Secondary (Extra Attack Power). Primary Attack Power is easily modifiable by a wide array of effects, secondary attack power is unmodifiable by any effects, and Counter attack power is often ignored. We will ignore secondary Attack Power for now, since we cannot affect it (it will be addressed later), and ignore Counter attack power since it is usually minimal impact. Since we have isolated Primary Attack Power as our target modifier, we must focus on the ways and potency of its modification. In many cases an Attack Power Boost is a nice thing, raising your damage in a very straightforward fashion, although we must also consider the way the %increases improve the attack. It unfortunately is also the easiest to modify of the attack formula segments, and with the formula being a string of multipliers, we have to realize that modifying this may not always be the best choice. Lets take for example: SL 428 PG (+228% AP) Treefolk being hit by Drums of War (-10% AP) versus SL 428 PG (+228% AP) Treefolk being hit by Satchel of Mist (-10% Accuracy).
 
In the case of the Drums of War - Treants end up with +218% AP, 30% Accuracy, 100% Efficiency: 3.18 * .3 * 1 = .954
In the case of the Satchel of mist - Treants end up with +228% AP, 20% Accuracy, 100% Efficiency: 3.28 * .2 * 1 = .656
So as you can see, affecting Attack Power is not always the best choice, even though it can be extremely helpful. Always consider which attribute would make the greatest impact. Also remember - affecting AP only affects PRIMARY AP and COUNTER AP.

Efficiency

Efficiency is a value that affects the outcome of damage for both Primary and Secondary attacks. This is because it is a global modifier much like #ofattackers. Efficiency can be affected by spells and the actions of the unit. A unit suffers 'fatigue' when it does a primary attack, or attempts a counter attack (even if they have 0 counter. Efficiency is one of the best modifiers to change because it is terribly hard to raise, but easy to drag down. Candle is -10% Efficiency, and Stun is approximately -30% efficiency on ultimate servers for red, very little will actually raise efficiency making these negative effects extremely powerful in the fact that there is no countermeasure to them (besides resisting Stun, or blocking candle with barriers). Efficiency effects are very useful for defense, but not immensely useful for offense (being hard to boost, they aren't exactly exploitable to increase the damage you do)

Accuracy

Accuracy is one of the better aspects to modify USUALLY, because it's so hard to impact, and acts so greatly on the output of damage. Accuracy is global like Efficiency (able to impact both primary and secondary attacks), and is therefore invaluable to units reliant on their secondary attacks for damage. It is also ideal for impacting units with large AP boosts (such as Treefolk with Plant Growth). High Accuracy can multiply the effects of high damage, and Low Accuracy can almost nullify units reliant on high damage. Several things can modify accuracy positively and negatively in the game, and is therefore the middle-road between the 'hard to modify' Efficiency, and the 'easy to modify' attack power. Accuracy is oftentimes the most reliable defensive and offensive tool in the game to modify.

Resists

Resistances are to offensiveness, what efficiency is to defensiveness. Resistances though can both be increased and decreased effectively, it's just a matter of choosing which one to modify (you can only raise 1-2 resistances usually, while you can easily lower all enemy resistances). Stun and Candle again come into play in this area (much as efficiency) as the big workhorses. Resists are especially useful for lowering when encountering High-resist, low-life units (such as ultimates and many complex units), where as improving resistances has a greater impact on low-resist, high-life units (such as simples/averages/barracks). To give an example presented a lot:
 
90% Resist all unit, lower resistances just 10% and they take 2x the normal damage. (Example: 7 Red Dragons lost vs 14 Red Dragons lost)
0% resist all unit, raise resistance 50% and they take half the normal damage. (Example: 200,000 Zombies lost vs 100,000 Zombies lost)
 
Works both ways, but remember you can LOWER all or single resistances, but only raise single resistances.

Initiative

This determines the order your units attack in, if they attack at all. It can be anywhere in the range from 0 to 6. Several Spells/items, and 1 hero, affect initiative. If initiative is 0, the unit will NOT attack, if the initiative is 6 they will tend to go first (6 initiative units are created by "Ash of Invisibility" or "Invisibility", and on rare occassions by the +1 initiative of Double Time). If attacks have the same initiative they will 'randomly' choose which goes first (a 'weighted' random based on stack net power). Initiative effects impact both PRIMARY and SECONDARY initiative equally (example "Web of Spider Woman" will stop both the primary and secondary attack of treants by reducing both attacks to 0 initiative. However, "Web of Spider Woman" used against Chimera will only cause them to lose 1 initiative, making their primary 0 initiative, and their secondary 2 initiative.)

Rand & Other Multipliers

Rand (Random Multiplier) and Other Multipliers (weakness, scales) are left off of this list because they are difficult to impact directly. They are important, but you can't force a unit's setup to augment/diminish these aspects of the battle, but you may wish to choose your unit based on them, so a brief discussion on them is necessary.
 
The "RAND" multiplier impacts all attack types, there are however 2 attack types that have a "Rand" of 1 - these are "Psychic" and "Magic" attacks, while all other attack types (such as Fire/Poison/Melee/Ranged/Breath/etc.) all have a "Random" number between .2 and .8. The highest "Rand" value always dominates (so Magic Ranged will have a 1, while Fire Ranged will have a .2 to .8 random number). These only impact the attack their on, a good example is the Unholy Reaver, Melee Paralyze Primary (Rand = .2 to .8), Psychic Ranged Secondary (Rand = 1) - so the primary would have the .2 to .8 for calculations, while the secondary will have a 1 for the calculations.
 
Other Multiplier refers to multipliers tacked on at the end of the formula, the 2 main ones are "Scales" and "Weakness". Scales adds a ".75" multiplier, while weakness adds a "2" multiplier. A unit with weakness and scales would have "* 2 * .75" added to the end. It is important to watch this in relation to your units depending on the strategy you employ.


Stack Pairing

Stack Pairing is a combination of knowledges, the main two being The Mechanics of Pairing and Strategic Pairing. To understand the Mechanics of pairing, you need to know how to classify your unit (Ranged, Non-Ranged Primary/Ranged-Secondary, Flying, and Non-Ranged all). To Understand the Strategy, you need to understand the battle formula, as well as the mechanics of pairing.

The Mechanics

Units "pair up" based on several different factors in the battle, for the sake of this guide we will break it down into 4 factors: Flight/Non-Flight, Attack Type, and Attack Location (Primary vs Secondary), Available Targets. I'm going to include some brief reviews of what each of these mean, and then combine it all to show how units will mechanically pair.

"FLYING"

Flying units are special in that they can only be hit by units with either: A) The Ability FLYING or B) a Ranged attack type. There are several ways you can deal with FLYING units - the main ones being using Ranged units, using flying units, and adding/removing flying as necessary (Flight, Carpet of Flying, Call Hurricane, Gravity Pull). Flying units are also great in that, as long as they stay flying, they can hit any unit in the enemy stack.

Attack Type

Ranged units, much like flying, can strike out at ANY enemy stack they meet (flying units with Ranged, such as Air Elementals hold true to the 'ranged' aspect even if their Flying ability is removed). There is no way to prevent this because you cannot remove attack types from units (only add). Ranged units also sit lower in stacks than flying because of their modifiers (allowing you to hide big damage, low). Any unit that does not have "Ranged" as an attack type, or "Flying" as an ability - will end up only being able to pair with other units on the ground (non-flying units). This can result in some interesting matchups.

Attack Location

An attack being a Primary Attack or a Secondary Attack, can impact how a unit pairs, lets use Unholy Reavers as an example again. Unholy Reavers have a non-ranged primary, and are non-flying, but they have a ranged secondary - this means they CAN hit flying should they need to, but won't show as strong of a preference to it. Units like Unholy reavers will first seek out a substantial ground stack, and if one cannot be found - they will then pursue a flying enemy only using their secondary attack.

Available Targets

Available Targets refers to the fact that sometimes, you run out of enemy stacks to hit (for example you have 10 ground stacks against an opponent's 6 ground stacks - your remaining 4 stacks will want to hit SOMETHING - usually the enemy top stack). This is important to remember when dealing with mono-stacking opponents, or shallow-stacking opponents, because you can definitely use it to your advantage, if for nothing else than fatigue.

Sample Pairing #1

Lets do a Red vs a Black for the first one, no spell or item for either side (so we can deal with raw units).
 
The Red is running:
Red Dragon/Chimera/Wraith/Vampire/Wyvern/Pegasus
 
The Black is running:
Lich/Ghoul/Horned Demon/Unholy Reaver/Efreeti/Dark Elf Magician/Mind Ripper/Shadow/Dryad/Archer
 
First thing you'll notice is that the red only has 6 stacks, while the black has 10. Then you'll also notice that the red is 'All-flying'. Noticing these 2 things, you might jump to the conclusion that the black will have 4 extra hitters to target the RD, unfortunately quick glances can prove wrong. Looking closer at the black stacking you'll notice 3 non-flying, non-ranged units (Ghoul, Horned Demon, and Shadow). These are unable to hit anything in the red army, but will actually be hit themselves. Now, lets break down how these will pair up:
 
The Red units will hit the following:
Red Dragons will attack Liches
Chimera will hit the Ghouls
Wraiths will hit the Horned Demons
Vampires will hit the Unholy Reavers
Wyverns will hit the Efreeti
Pegasi will hit the Dark Elf Magicians
 
Fairly straight forward for the red side, because all of their units can hit any unit in the game thanks to the ability "FLYING".
 
The Black units will hit the following:
Liches will hit the Red Dragons
Ghouls will target NOTHING
Horned Demons will target NOTHING
Unholy Reavers will hit the Chimera with their secondary attack
Efreeti will attack the Wraiths
Dark Elf Magicians will attack the Vampires
Mind Rippers will attack the Wyverns
Shadows will target NOTHING
Dryads will target the Pegasi
Archers will target the Red Dragons (because there are no more stacks to target).
 
So 3 stacks didn't ever do their attacks...because they couldn't hit anything. Now that we have that information...lets use it against the red in the next sample pairings.

Sample Pairing #2

Lets stick with no items/spells to keep it simple:
 
Again, The Red is running:
Red Dragon/Chimera/Wraith/Vampire/Wyvern/Pegasus
 
Now though, we switch the Black to running:
Lich/Zombie/Mind Ripper/Efreeti/Unholy Reaver/Nymph/Dark Elf Magician/Dryad/Orcish Archer/Archer
 
This pair up works out much more in favor of the black since no items/spells are being used, and the pairings are fairly nice. See if you can figure out how they'll match up before you read on.
 
Red Units Hit:
Red Dragon hits Liches
Chimera hit Zombies
Wraiths hit Mind Rippers
Vampires hit Efreeti
Wyverns hit Unholy Reavers
Pegasi hit Nymphs
 
There is some potential for nice damage by the red there, however wonder what it looks like when the black gets a hold of it.
 
Black Units hit:
Liches hit RedDragons
Zombies target NOTHING
Mind Rippers target Chimera
Efreeti target Wraiths
Unholy Reavers target Vampires
Nymphs target Wyverns
Dark Elf Magicians Target Pegasi
Dryads,Orcish Archers, and Archers all target Red Dragons.

Note: This is outdated. Extra stacks will START from the top again, and go through each stack as though they were currently unpaired.
 
By using a little stacking knowledge, the black has now done several things - controlled the stacking so that it pairs the ranged up to deal more damage than the old somewhat random stack did. The black also paired up stronger hitters at the weakest points, and soakers against the red's strongest points. Items/Spells would impact this battle greatly - but they would impact it greatly both ways.

Sample Pairing #3

Just to round it out, lets do 2 short stacks against each other, and display a situation where a ranged attacker would hit another ground unit.
 
A blue mage is stacking:
Djinni/Air Elemental/Leviathan/Horned Demon
 
A white mage is stacking:
Archangel/Unicorn/High Priest/Mind Ripper
 
Again ignoring spell/item for simplicity's sake, lets see who pairs up where.
 
Blue units hit:
Djinni target Archangels
Air Elementals target Unicorns
Leviathans target High Priests
Horned Demons target Mind Rippers
 
Nothing really special about the blue pair-ups, it just goes down the row because each is able to pair against the one across from it.
 
White units hit:
Archangels attack Djinni
Unicorns can't attack Air Elementals, so they instead attack Leviathans
High Priests choose the first unpaired stack they can hit, the Air Elementals
Mind Rippers attack Horned Demons because they are the first unpaired stack MR can hit
 
Now you can see how things can mix up a bit when you're dealing with a variety of ranged/non-ranged/flying units. The Unicorns couldn't hit the Air Elementals, so they had to default to the first ground stack: Leviathans. High Priests, encountering the situation where the Air Elementals didn't have anything attack them, targetted the air elementals because they were the highest unpaired stack they could hit. Now the Mind Rippers have noone to target except the Horned Demons, so they grab that up (if there had been no horned demons - the Mind Rippers would have gone after Djinni btw).


Strategy

Stacking strategies are as varied as there are numbers of players of this game. In this section I intend to focus on covering the major techniques used to achieve several goals in stacking. Many stacking techniques are a mixing and matching of each of these styles of stack building (you can find additional examples of these in my color specific guides). I will start with the category you need for all stacking: a goal. And then I'll move into the other categories that you'll need to vary depending on the goals.


Establishing Goals

Every stack will need to have a goal, or you're wasting your time. It doesn't matter if it's as specific as "Anti-Mono-Dom" or as broad as "Ranking" (although that often gets broken down into periods of time/land/power ranges), just so long as you know what you want to do, and are prepared to set up to do it. I don't think anyone could realistically give you a specific stack for ALL of the possible goals for all of the colors (there's easily thousands of possible goals, and stackings to go with them). So the best I can do is give you information on which to develop your ability to create stacks for your own individual goal.
 
Deciding your goal is up to you, but here are some tips for the most common 'general' goals:

  • Ranking: This is the only category that will put extreme emphasis on ALL of the factors of stacking - you need to be aware of keeping your kingdom efficiencies balanced, balancing your offense and defense as appropriate for your color, and controlling pairings and weaknesses/strengths to your advantage. Ranking comes easily to some people, but for many it doesn't, it is also one of the most difficult aspects of the game to master.
  • Whoring: Whoring is the act of accumulating geld quickly, it's that simple. The main things you'll want to watch for on this one is keeping your kingdom's efficiencies balanced towards maximum geld income per turn, keeping your defensive abilities strong enough to keep from losing land (and sometimes enough units to block pillages, depending on method). Whoring in general usually requires almost no attention to attacking, so offensiveness is only useful on an 'offensive defense' (which is hard to do with whoring). Low Land Whoring techniques search for generally durable units, that can ignore bad pairings, while high land techniques require more on avoiding bad pairings due to needing more power.
  • Catfishing: Catfishing is the act of keeping your mage purposefully low on land and power. In catfishing, you need some attention to efficiency simply because your resources are so low, but mainly this is only mana (and geld) efficiency - you will have 'turns to burn' as a catfish. The main focus of the catfish is maintaining a small army (just enough to take a fort after battle), that is highly aggressive.
  • Exploring: Much like whoring, exploring requires a high defensiveness, but requires less efficiency than whoring (because all you're doing is exploring, charging, and recasting your defense usually). Exploring up is all about the 'defensiveness' and relies little on anything else.
  • Warring: Requires high flexibility in your stacking - you need to be able to switch from spelling/iteming, to sieging/catfishing, etc. as needed. This is very resource intensive in the mid ranks and high ranks. For the sake of this guide I will keep the focus of any "warring" strategy on classical warring (Guild Coordinated "BBQ") methods, rather than the 'sniping' and 'low mage spelling' strategies currently employed by some groups.

Those are 5 of the most common goals, each requires you to be aware of the nuances of what you face to really employ them, but they are a start when looking for a purpose for your mage's stacking.


Kingdom Efficiency

In this section I'd like to talk about efficiency in your kingdom, this mainly relates to the 4 primary resources: Turns, Geld, Mana, and Population. Your choice in stacking will affect every single one of these greatly, however the two most important to watch in terms of stacking are "Turns" and "Mana", without these - you will not be able to get an army. An efficient stacking will often focus on minimizing the turns and mana spent summoning, and also minimize the turns spent under a 'highly negative' income - efficient stacking doesn't always mean spreading your resource upkeeps evenly.

Turns

Turns are the root of the entire game, everything works on turns, and they are very rigid in how they're obtained (very few ways to get turns beyond just waiting). Turns are required to summon and recruit units, and also cast the enchantments that aid your units. Things you should look at when considering a unit from the 'turns' aspect are: Failure rate (how often the spell will fail when cast) and Net Power per Turn (how much net power will the summon/recruit give you per turn).

Mana

Mana is required mainly for summoning, but every unit EXCEPT some neutral (plain) units will require mana to support them. Without mana, units will disband, and you will be unable to cast spells. Things you should look at when considering a unit from the 'mana' aspect are: Upkeep Cost (can you support them?), Disbandability (if they're undisbandable, can you support a full summon long enough to finish your stack?), and Net Power per Cost (how much net power for the mana cost get me?).

Population

Population is required mainly for upkeeping 'population eaters' and recruiting units (either through 'recruit' or off of the 'swords for hire'). To keep recruiting you need enough population space and growth to handle those units, to maintain population eaters you merely need to keep them fed. Recruitables are disbandable, Pop eaters are not disbandable - so the main things you need to consider are: for recruits, do you have enough room?, for pop eaters, can you support a full summon? (since they're undisbandable).

Geld

Geld is required to upkeep several units, and is also (like mana and population), required for recruiting units. Geld however is unique among the resources in that it is the ONLY resource without a 'limit' (you can store as much geld as you want, there is no cap). Therefore what you need to consider with geld is only one thing: Do I have enough to last and still buy what I want off the Black Market?

Oversummoning

Definitions of oversummoning varies person to person, but when simplified it is usually just the act of summoning 'beyond your means', and is actually fairly common AND recommended, just be sure you know how to handle getting your resources under control (for example if you aren't going to be entering battle a lot - it's a good idea to NOT have a lot of undisbandables that you're oversummoned on). It is worth nothing that, oversummoning is almost necessary in The Reincarnation now due to the frequency with which it is used, which is much higher than it was in Archmage.

Casting Order & Impact on Efficiency

When summoning you have to remember that you will be paying the upkeep for the units you summon/recruit for every turn you have them after they join your army. This means in a nutshell - that you want to summon the most expensive to keep units, last. Commonly the order you want to cast units in goes: Simple, Average, Complex, Ultimate. There are however exceptions to this that I won't discuss here (always refer to color guides over general guides for strategies concerning your specific color). The goal is with the order you choose, to minimize the costs you pay while summoning your army, and saving the most expensive to upkeep until last (this can get complicated when you have to decide between units that are intensive to different resources - requiring you to choose which one is a higher priority to you).

Spell Color & Impact on Efficiency

When summoning, especially at higher land, you will find yourself wanting/needing to summon units from other colors to achieve a stacking that works. By summoning off-color though you will encounter issues with casting failure and inflated casting costs, and these need to be taken into account. Before considering an off-color unit though, remember that when possible it is almost always better to use a 'decent' on-color unit than a 'great' off-color unit for a task. When you have to use an off-color unit in your stacking ALWAYS run concentration (for red/green it may take a few tries to get it to successfully cast - it is worth it to cast it before starting to climb). If you haven't finished research you will also have a chance to fail your ON-COLOR complex/ultimate spells.
 
Approximate Failure Rates & Cast amounts with normal research spell level self-cast concentration & normal research spell level casting:

  • Green Casting:
    • White Complex: Moderate Failure Rate (Moderate Quantity)
    • White Average: Low Failure Rate (Moderate Quantity)
    • White Simple: Very Low Failure Rate (Moderate-High Quantity)
    • Red Complex: Moderate-High Failure Rate (Moderate Quantity)
    • Red Average: Low-Moderate Failure Rate (Moderate Quantity)
    • Red Simple: Very Low Failure Rate (Moderate-High Quantity)
    • Black Complex: Very High Failure Rate (Very Low Quantity)
    • Black Average: Moderate-High Failure Rate (Low Quantity)
    • Black Simple: Low Failure Rate (Moderate Quantity)
    • Blue Complex: Very High Failure Rate (Very Low Quantity)
    • Blue Average: Moderate-High Failure Rate (Low Quantity)
    • Blue Simple: Low Failure Rate (Moderate Quantity)
  • Red Casting:
    • Green Complex: Moderate Failure Rate (Moderate Quantity)
    • Green Average: Low Failure Rate (Moderate Quantity)
    • Green Simple: Very Low Failure Rate (Moderate-High Quantity)
    • Black Complex: Moderate Failure Rate (Moderate Quantity)
    • Black Average: Low Failure Rate (Moderate Quantity)
    • Black Simple: Very Low Failure Rate (Moderate-High Quantity)
    • White Complex: Very High Failure Rate (Very Low Quantity)
    • White Average: Moderate Failure Rate (Low Quantity)
    • White Simple: Low Failure Rate (Moderate Quantity)
    • Blue Complex: Very High Failure Rate (Very Low Quantity)
    • Blue Average: Moderate-High Failure Rate (Low Quantity)
    • Blue Simple: Low Failure Rate (Moderate Quantity)
  • Black Casting:
    • Blue Complex: Moderate Failure Rate (Moderate Quantity)
    • Blue Average: Low Failure Rate (Moderate Quantity)
    • Blue Simple: Very Low Failure Rate (Moderate-High Quantity)
    • Red Complex: Moderate Failure Rate (Moderate Quantity)
    • Red Average: Low Failure Rate (Moderate Quantity)
    • Red Simple: Very Low Failure Rate (Moderate-High Quantity)
    • White Complex: Very High Failure Rate (Very Low Quantity)
    • White Average: Moderate Failure Rate (Low Quantity)
    • White Simple: Low Failure Rate (Moderate Quantity)
    • Green Complex: Very High Failure Rate (Very Low Quantity)
    • Green Average: Moderate Failure Rate (Low Quantity)
    • Green Simple: Low Failure Rate (Moderate Quantity)
  • White Casting:
    • Green Complex: Moderate Failure Rate (Moderate Quantity)
    • Green Average: Low Failure Rate (Moderate Quantity)
    • Green Simple: Very Low Failure Rate (Moderate-High Quantity)
    • Blue Complex: Moderate-High Failure Rate (Moderate Quantity)
    • Blue Average: Low-Moderate Failure Rate (Moderate Quantity)
    • Blue Simple: Very Low Failure Rate (Moderate-High Quantity)
    • Black Complex: Very High Failure Rate (Very Low Quantity)
    • Black Average: Moderate-High Failure Rate (Low Quantity)
    • Black Simple: Low Failure Rate (Moderate Quantity)
    • Red Complex: Very High Failure Rate (Very Low Quantity)
    • Red Average: Moderate-High Failure Rate (Low Quantity)
    • Red Simple: Low Failure Rate (Moderate Quantity)
  • Blue Casting:
    • White Complex: Low-Moderate Failure Rate (Moderate-High Quantity)
    • White Average: Very Low Failure Rate (High Quantity)
    • White Simple: Very Low Failure Rate (Very High Quantity)
    • Black Complex: Moderate Failure Rate (Moderate-High Quantity)
    • Black Average: Very Low Failure Rate (High Quantity)
    • Black Simple: Very Low Failure Rate (High Quantity)
    • Green Complex: Moderate Failure Rate (High Quantity)
    • Green Average: Low Failure Rate (High Quantity)
    • Green Simple: Very Low Failure Rate (Very High Quantity)
    • Red Complex: Moderate Failure Rate (High Quantity)
    • Red Average: Low-Moderate Failure Rate (High Quantity)
    • Red Simple: Very Low Failure Rate (High Quantity)


Remember that all of the amounts above are 'approximate' and only at the writing of this guide, quantities/failure rates subject to change.


Recruiting

Recruiting can be a good source of extra power, and if properly controlled can work well into a wide variety of stackings.
 
#ofUnitsPerTurn = RoundDown( ( 100 / GeldCost ) * #ofBarracks * ( 1 + RecruitModifier) )
 
#ofUnitsPerTurn: The # of units you get per turn.
RoundDown: Barracks recruit rate ALWAYS rounds down, so if it takes 4 barracks to recruit 1 of a unit per turn, then it would only recruit 1 of those units per turn, regardless of whether you had 4 or 7.
Geld Cost: The Geld Recruit Cost of the unit (displayed in the "Cost" column by the units in the status report as well as in the recruit page *first number before the "/"*)
#ofBarracks: The number of barracks you have.
RecruitModifier: -10% would be -.1 (so 1 - .1 = .9)


Offensiveness / Defensiveness

Offensiveness and Defensiveness of stacks is essentially determined by how damaging units are, and how well they take damage. An offensive unit is one geared towards dishing out as much damage as possible, while a defensive unit is designed to take as much damage as possible. These are lumped in earlier in this guide as "Hitters" and "Soakers". There are however other aspects to be taken into account when considering how powerful a unit is on offense, and how powerful it is on defense, this is mainly their abilities, attack type, and what they'll pair with, not to mention how easily you get them. Lets look at Efreeti for example, they're a good sample of a unit that in some situations will be offensively and defensively strong, while in others it will be weak in one or the other. Efreeti vs Leviathans for example - make the efreeti come across as fairly offensive (easily killing several of the highly durable leviathans due to their fire ranged attack). Efreeti vs Red Dragon though is much worse off for the efreeti because they are getting matched against a moderate damaging unit with FEAR (which keeps the efreeti 'Fear' from affecting the accuracy of RD), and in turn the RD have fairly good resists against both attacks of the Efreeti. It is important to take those pairings into account when deciding on your stacking and placement. For Example if in the current meta game Leviathans are more likely to be found 2nd, while RD are more likely to be found 1st, you would then much more likely want to put efreeti 2nd stack. This leads us into the next important section: Pairing.


Strategic Pairing

By controlling how your stacks pair up with opponents, you are able to exploit the enemy weaknesses and protect yours, this is one of the most important war skills when dealing with battle between two skilled mages and/or guilds. "Act don't React" - The more you can control about your opponent, the stronger your position is. Using the mechanics of pairing we can set up situations that would otherwise be devistating to our army, into a favorable situation. Lets say we have a blue mage, and we're fighting a red mage that we know from previous attacks is "RD+Fakes". This means that ideally you want a large stack of Ice Elementals hitting the Red Dragons. Now if it was a 1 on 1 matchup, the Red Dragons would deal massive damage to the Ice Elementals in return, possibly costing you the battle, so we have to protect them somehow, but since the red has fakes, we can't have another unit that can hit RD in front of the elementals. So we use a ground unit, lets say Unicorns which will take the Red Dragon hit much better, while still letting you have enough elementals to win land from the red. You probably also want to throw in small ranged stacks behind the elementals to chip away at the fakes and help you capture more land. This is very obviously a 'simple' example, you can get it much more complex by taking advantage of the mechanics explained in this guide to control what units your units hit, which units the enemy units hit, and how large your stacks are in comparison to opponents stackings (for example you can go 30% Flying with a 65% stack of a ranged unit behind it, letting you hit the 2nd stack of an all-flying stack with your heavier hitter, while letting your weaker flying soaker take the hit of their top stack).


The MetaGame

The "MetaGame" is the current game environment - basically the strategies players are currently using. For ranking this is extremely important because you have to adapt to the people around you (for example if there are a LOT of greens using heavy Phoenix around you, and you're nether, you'll want to use Lich to counter the Phoenix.). This goes fairly deep, but if you watch the stacks of the players, and keep on top of the currently popular guides (especially ones listing stacks), you can determine what stacks you'll likely be encountering and set up to defend against them AND hunt them.

Conclusion

This is a long guide...and it was written over several sessions, so sorry if there is repetative information or 'rambling' here and there, I tried to include as much information as possible to help general players (I purposely avoided too much color specific information). This is not meant to replace color-specific stacking guides/strategy guides, but instead provide general tools that can be applied across all colors.


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