Roc and Thunderbird
|• Lightning strike
"Rocs and thunderbirds are the only flying units available at Stronghold towns. When thunderbirds attack, there is a 20% chance thunderbolts will strike their target, delivering 10x the number of attacking thunderbirds in additional damage." RoE manual
Special Ability: Lightning Strike
Thunderbirds have special ability lightning strike, which has 20% probability to occur after the stack have attacked, including retaliations. When the stack attacks, the lightning strike occurs before the enemy has a chance to retaliate. If successful, the lightning strike deals additional damage for the amount of ten times the number of attacking Thunderbirds. The thunderbolts have the same visual effect as the spell Lightning Bolt, and the special attack is also counted as one in terms of immunities and Golems' spell damage reduction (e.g. if 14 Thunderbirds attack a stack of Diamond Golems with a lightning strike, they will do 7 damage instead of 140 because Diamond Golems have 95% spell damage resistance). Since the attack is considered to be the Lightning Bolt spell, it also deals extra damage to Air Elementals and Storm Elementals .
Heroes with a specialty
- Shiva the Barbarian has rocs as a specialty, which increases the attack and defense skills of any rocs or thunderbirds for each level attained after 5th level and gives them a speed bonus of 1.
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Since they are the only flying Stronghold unit, the rocs and thunderbirds usually die in large numbers if they are to be sent to attack the enemy straight away. They should be used tactically and not draw too much damage towards themselves, even if their health stat is the third highest for a level 5. Their defense is also pretty low. Try to upgrade Rocs to Thunderbirds as soon as possible, as with speed 7 Rocs are quite useless. For that reason, capturing Rocs' external dwellings is not that difficult (however, beware of first turn right, and if you cannot kill all 9 Rocs guarding the dwelling at the same time, Slow is still a good idea as the guardians may attack twice due to high morale, reaching some of your troops).
Since the lightning strike deals direct damage that is unaffected by most combat modifiers, it's most effective against heavily armored stacks, although with only a 20% chance of occurring it cannot be relied upon.