Griffin and Royal Griffin
|• Two retaliations
|• Unlimited retaliations
"Griffins roost in special towers built for them on the castle grounds. Standard griffins are able to counterstrike against two attackers per turn. Royal griffins can counterstrike an unlimited number of attackers." RoE manual
Building the Griffin Bastion increases griffins' growth by 3 per week.
Heroes with a specialty
- Edric the Knight has griffins as a specialty, which increases the attack and defense skills of any griffins for each level attained after 3rd level, and gives them a speed bonus of 1.
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Griffins are fast flying units with relatively high health, an interesting special ability, and quite a good growth rate if you build the Griffin Bastion. However, they have rather low damage. Royal griffins make decent siege attacker due to their unlimited retaliations, which allows them to fly over the walls and give hits in the counter attacks.
8/9 Attack and Defense is very high for level 3 unit. 3-6 damage is average by numbers, but lacking for otherwise strong, fast offensive troop like Griffins. 6 speed of Griffin is average, but 9 of Royal Griffin is something to reckon with. 25 health is above average.
Shield and Fire Shield seem to be the best defensive spells for Griffins, considering their Defense stat is already quite good and they work best fighting multiple enemy stacks at once. Stone Skin stacks with them, though, and additional reduction of damage taken might be useful.
Prayer is all-around great, increasing attack, defense, and speed at once.
Haste and Slow have powerful effect on Griffins, as their strength lies in being able to fight many stacks at once in melee combat. Slow can keep them from reaching the opposing army, and with Haste they can cross the battlefield in 1 turn.
Because of their special ability Counterstrike is of limited use on Griffins and becomes useless on Royal Griffins.
Mirth is hit-or-miss, as they usually deal most of their damage in opponent's turns, when retaliating so good morale is not as important. Fortune is a bit better than usual because they can strike several times per turn, so they have better chance to benefit from good luck.
Being 2-hexed troop that is able to fly and has extra retaliations, it's obvious that Griffins should be either in middle of enemy formation, or blocking some key position on the battlefield to exploit their special ability. Keep in mind that while they will certainly do some damage with their multiple hits per turn when surrounded, they are not as tough as, say, Iron Golems, so have Cure, Resurrection, or stack of Archangels in reserve if the Griffins take too many casualties.
In Castle army they do well as a quick, strong flyer or a distracting stack that does far more damage than should be possible, thanks to their special ability. While enemy troops are busy dealing with Griffins (and keep taking damage from their retaliations), soften them up with your Archers and Monks and then deal the crushing blow with your own melee troops, like hard-hitting Crusaders. Or you could have Archangels or your own hero resurrect Griffins when they are wiped out or take too many casualties to keep up. When sieging enemy town, remember that Griffins are not nearly as strong as Angels, so don't fly them over the walls without support unless you're sure they can deal with enemy army by themselves.
They have natural synergy with Archangels - one Archangel can resurrect 4 Griffins or Royal Griffins.
When fighting Griffins, keep in mind that they are 2-hex sized, so they can be blocked more easily from reaching your vulnerable ranged units. They also don't hit that hard, despite looking dangerous - their strength comes from striking more often, not with more power. Slow them down, protect your troops with Force Field, wipe them out from distance before they reach your lines. If forced into melee, focus on hitting them with no retaliation/strongest melee troops first - Griffins will retaliate twice and Royal Griffins will always retaliate, so reduce their numbers as much as possible first, before taking any damage. Unupgraded Griffins are less vulnerable to expendable stacks wasting their retaliations having two per turn, but this tactics can still be used against them.
Direct damage spells work well against Griffins, as their respectable defense and ability to keep fighting back won't help against magic and both kinds of Griffins have only 25 health. They have quite good weekly growth too, however, so don't count on weaker spells like Ice Bolt wiping them out in one cast.
The best secondary skills for Griffins are Offense and Armorer. Armorer is far more important than it normally would be, because Griffins' damage does not come from them striking hard - their damage is average - but from them retaliating against as many enemy stacks as possible, and to be able to retaliate they must survive the enemy attacks, so reducing damage taken is quite important. Tactics might be useful, as Expert Tactics allows Royal Griffins to reach every corner of the battlefield in 1 turn, shield your ranged troops, or simply deny its use to enemy. Leadership might be useful in early to mid game, when it's not yet made redundant by Angels' morale bonus, same town type bonus, and plentiful morale artifacts or objects. Luck_(secondary_skill) is better with Griffins than it normally is, because they strike more often than other troops and so they have increased chance to get a lucky strike.
Because of this unusual combination of good stats, but average damage and health, and sort of "extra attacks" the best match for Griffins are might-oriented, defense-focused heroes, like Tazar, Mephala or Neela. Of course offensive heroes like Crag Hack will be good too - retaliation is sort of attack and Offense specialization still increases its damage - but their Griffins will take greater casualties and they alone might not be enough to win every battle. Edric is decent starting hero, having Armorer and specialized in Griffins.