War machine is a common term used for referring to either an Ammo Cart, Ballista, First Aid Tent or Catapult. Basically they are all special combat units which are available in most of the battles. The only exceptions are creature banks and shipwrecks, where none of the war machines are used. Furthermore, Catapults are only used in siege combats. All war machines have a special slot reserved just for that particular war machine.
Typically, war machines except the Catapult are bought from Blacksmiths, which sell different war machine depending on the town. Additionally, war machines can be bought from an Adventure Map location called the War Machine Factory, which sell all war machines (except Catapults). Stronghold has the special building Ballista Yard, where a visiting hero can buy a Ballista. All heroes have the Catapult with them, and if one is destroyed in the combat, a new one is automatically added to hero's catapult slot.
All war machines are immobile and unaffected by morale (Ballista and Cannon can have a lucky strike, and in the Horn of the Abyss they both can have bad luck). Additionally, war machines do not affect the hero's movement. On the battlefield AI considers Catapult, Ballista and Cannon as ranged units, ignoring the moment they can not be blocked.
War machines are immune to:
|• Implosion||• Aging||Ghost Dragon|
|• Clone||• Death cloud||Liches|
|• Bloodlust||• Death stare||Mighty Gorgon|
|• Mind spells - (Berserk, Blind, Forgetfulness, Frenzy, Hypnotize, Mirth, Sorrow)||• Disease||Zombie|
|• Berserk can be cast without any effect.||• Fear||Azure Dragon|
|• Frenzy can be cast by the Orb of Vulnerability owner.||• Life drain||Vampire Lord|
|• Death Ripple and Destroy Undead||• Paralyze||Scorpicore|
|• Slow and Haste||• Petrify||Medusas Basilisks|
|• Teleport||• Poison||Wyvern Monarch Sea Serpent and Haspid|
|• Resurrection and Sacrifice||• Summon demons||Pit Lord|
|• Counterstrike||• Accurate shot||Sea Dog|
|• Fortune and Misfortune|
|• Bless and Curse|
|• Precision (can be cast on Catapult)|
Ammo Сart provides unlimited shots for creatures and War Machines with ranged attacks. The shots start to decrease right after the Ammo Cart is destroyed. Despite the fact that The Ammo Cart is not used during a creature bank or shipwreck battle, it still provides unlimited ammo. In damage calculations, Ammo Cart goes as level 1 unit, its AI Value is 400. For the Map Editor its an artifact equipped in the War Machine 2 slot.
Ammo Cart can be purchased at:
First Aid Tent
First Aid Tent heals 1-25 hit points of the top creature in target allied stack. The amount of health restored is affected by First Aid secondary skill, which also gives the player control over the tent rather than being chosen by computer. First Aid Tents act last at the combat round. In damage calculations, First Aid Tent goes as level 1 unit, its AI Value is 300. For the Map Editor its an artifact equipped in the War Machine 3 slot. Oddly enough, Necropolis' heroes cannot learn First Aid, even though their blacksmith produces First Aid Tents.
First Aid Tent can be purchased at:
Heroes with First Aid specialty:
The Catapult only appears on the battlefield when siege attacking enemy towns with walls, which requires the town to have a fort, citadel, or castle. Its main use is to attack and destroy the walls in order to enable ground troops to attack the defenders. The Catapult can also attack and destroy the arrow towers of citadels and castles. The ballistics secondary skill enhances the performance of the Catapult. Basic ballistics gives the player control over the Catapult making it possible to aim at particular parts of the siege structures. During a siege, the Catapult shoots after the arrow towers, but before any other troop. In damage calculations Catapult goes as level 1 unit, its AI Value is 500.
A ballista is a missile weapon that, like ranged units, shoots projectiles toward enemy troops, but is unable to retaliate against attacks. It can shoot even if one or several enemy stacks are adjacent to it. It has a basic damage range (of 2–3) like creatures, but the damage calculation is different. The formula for the calculation of damage is (2–3)*(hero's attack + 1). The Artillery and Archery secondary skills increase this damage. The ballista acts at the end of every combat round, followed only by the First Aid Tent, and can be controlled when a hero has learned any level of Artillery. Contrary to what its in-game statistics indicate, a ballista has unlimited shots (fixed in Horn of the Abyss) .
Ballista can be purchased at:
- Castle - Blacksmith
- Dungeon - Blacksmith
- Stronghold - Ballista Yard
- Conflux - Blacksmith
- War Machine Factory
Heroes with Ballista specialty:
- Christian the Knight
- Torosar the Alchemist
- Pyre the Demoniac
- Arlach the Overlord
- Gurnisson the Barbarian
- Gerwulf the Beastmaster
- Ranloo the Death Knight
Cove War Machine. The formula for the calculation of damage is (4–7)*(hero's attack + 1). It costs 4000 gold.
- Is put in the Ballista (War Machine 1) slot of a hero. It cannot be put in a backpack.
- Assault battle machine. Only attacks by shooting. Is not blocked by standing next to an enemy unit. Can attack enemy troops and fortifications. One does not need to destroy the cannon to win the battle. No experience is given for its destruction.
- Is put in place of Ballista during battle. Does not participate in the battle on the side of the defender during the siege, as well as the battles in vaults and banks. Moves at the same time as Ballista (before the First Aid Tent). Controlled by the AI.
- In damage calculations, Cannon goes as level 6 unit, its AI Value is 875.
Effect of Artillery skill
- None. All features work as described above.
- Basic. Gives you control of the cannon. Aimed shot with increased damage on the fortifications.
- Advanced. Gives you control of the cannon. Double damage on unit, aimed shot with increased damage on the fortifications.
- Expert. Gives you control of the cannon. Triple damage on unit, aimed shot with maximum damage on the fortifications.
Cannon can be purchased at:
Heroes with Cannon specialty:
(always starts with a Cannon)
Ballista vs. Cannon
Here a table showing the average damage of a Ballista and Cannon with and without Artillery skill. Note that the Cannon has 20 Attack and 8 shots while the Ballista has only 10 Attack but 24 shots:
|Hero Attack||Average damage||Average damage against creature with 10 defense (including bonus from attack)|
|Ballista (10 Attack)||Cannon (20 Attack!)||Ballista (10 Attack)||Cannon (20 Attack!)|
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In general, the importance of War Machines is decreasing throughout the game, as you have big army and powerful damage spells.
The Ballista is a war machine of some limited use, however it requires a high (25+) Attack skill before it starts dealing enough damage to justify its 2500 Gold cost. The Artillery skill can offset this somewhat, but comes with the high opportunity cost of omitting a potentially more useful secondary skill such as Offense or Armorer. The above restrictions generally limit the Ballista to might heroes with high Attack skill. Of the four towns that sell Ballistae, Barbarians from Stronghold are most likely to reach this skill - more defensive heroes such as those from Fortress will not be able to make use of the Ballista as efficiently. Note that if you don't have Artillery skill, Ballista can spoil the battle if you want to blind the only remaining enemy stack and resurrect/animate your whole army. It will shoot and unblind the enemy.
The First Aid tent is most often useless, even with the (also nearly useless) First Aid skill at its top level. Its main limitation is that it cannot resurrect killed creatures, so it's useless for low-level creatures. The only case in which a First Aid Tent is useful is when a player obtains a high-level creature early in the game. Setting a hero up with 1-2 high level creatures and a first-aid tent ensures that the healing is not wasted and allows the player to clear wandering monsters from the map more easily. You may start with a hero with First Aid tent, even if your blacksmith doesn't produce it, and rush through the map using 1-2 sixth level creatures.
The Ammo Cart's unlimited ammunition is usually unnecessary besides a very long battle, but is extremely useful in the few situations when it is needed. Most shooters in the game have enough ammunition to attack 12 times, with many carrying more. The few exceptions are Master Gremlins and Medusa Queens (8 shots), and Medusas, Pirates, and Corsairs (only 4 shots!). With good Morale, these creatures run the risk of quickly depleting their ammunition over the course of a battle. This can be the difference between defeat and victory, particularly in a bloody castle siege. If the enemy Catapult can be destroyed and their flying units killed, even a single shooter with an ammunition cart can eventually drive of the enemy if the walls are still intact.
As every hero gets a Catapult free of cost which is only deployed for siege warfare, there is little choice involved in catapult usage other than targeting with the Ballistics skill.