Your hero is what makes your game experience unique from everybody else's. While the other aspects of the game - buildings, resources, camps, events etc - are common to all players, how you customize your hero will change how the game plays for you.
There are three main ways in which your hero influences gameplay.
- Race - your choice of race determines what units are available to you, and the look and feel of the game.
- Skills - your choice of skills gives you specific benefits, to make you better in battle, spellcasting, or building your city.
- Equipment - equipping artifacts gives your character boosts in a similar way to skills, but you can change what equipment you wear in different situations.
For more about what the effects of your skills and gear actually do, see Bonuses.
The race choices are Orcs, Undead, Elves and Dwarves.
Orcs - fierce warriors, middling spellcasters, disinterested builders.
Dwarves - devoted builders, middling warriors, disinterested spellcasters.
Elves - balanced across the three specializations
Undead - powerful spellcasters, middling builders, disinterested warriors.
Skills are arrayed in three trees - warrior, spellcaster and builder. Each of the three paths has five tiers - a first tier of one skill that anyone can take, and four tiers of advanced skills that unlock with 10, 20, 30 and 40 skill points invested in that tree. You can take 10 points in each skill, except for the tier 4 'master skill' for each tree, which can only be taken once.
Each race also gets 1-3 bonus skills in each tree, which are available only to that race. While you can invest 10 points in the basic skills, you can only take 5 levels in racial skills (except for the Undead skill Necromancy, where you can take 10 ranks).
- Tier 0: Armour (normal resist +3)
- Tier 1: Teachings (training speed +3%), Magic Resistance (magic resist +3%)
- Tier 2: Weaponry (damage +3%), Field Medicine (regeneration +2%)
- Tier 3: Looting (raided resources +2%), Health (HP +2%)
- Tier 4: Military Research (all unit upgrades get +1 effective value).
Depending on your race, you get access to the following racial specific skills.
- Tier 1: Orc plundering (raided resources +2%)
- Tier 2: Orc drll (training speed +4%)
- Tier 3: Orc warlords (damage +4%)
- Tier 1: Dwarven breastplates (fire and ice resist +3%)
- Tier 3: Dwarven shields (magic resist +4%)
- Tier 1: Elven agility (speed +6%)
- Tier 3: Elven longevity (HP +3%)
- Tier 3: Undead rising (regeneration +2%)
- Tier 0: Battle magic (magic damage +3%, magic damage vs neutral units +10%)
- Tier 1: Synergic effect (effect of spells cast on you +10%), Inventions (research speed +4%)
- Tier 2: Temple silos (mana storage +6%), Clear Horizons (magic cloud fading speed +5%, experience bonus +1%)
- Tier 3: Mysticism (mana production +4%), Swift wand (spell recovery +4%)
- Tier 4: Improved spells (effective spell level +1 when casting)
The racial bonus skills are:
- Tier 2: Orc warlock staffs (Spell recovery +4%)
- Tier 3: Orc rune experts (Rune discovery +2%)
- Tier 2: Dwarven science (research speed +6%)
- Tier 1: Elven far sight (reach of spell +15%)
- Tier 3: Elven wisdom (mana storage +10%)
- Tier 0: Undead necromancy (necromancy +3%)
- Tier 1: Undead fury (Magic damage +4%, magic damage vs neutral units +15%)
- Tier 3: Undead magic essence (Effect of spells cast on you +10%)
- Tier 0: Warehouse (resource storage +6%)
- Tier 1: Engineering (building speed +5%), Tower power (tower damage +10%)
- Tier 2: Studies (experience +2%, artifact discovery bonus +1%), Masonry (building cost -2%)
- Tier 3: Sustaining (upkeep increase +2%), Mining (resource production +2%)
- Tier 4: Foreign Masters (+1 architect)
Racial bonus skills:
- Tier 2: Orc storage houses (resource storage +12%)
- Tier 1: Dwarven architecture (building cost -2%)
- Tier 2: Dwarven pickaxes (resource production +3%)
- Tier 3: Dwarven towers (tower damage +20%)
- Tier 2: Elvish knowledge (experience +2%, artifact discovery bonus 1%)
- Tier 3: Elvish guerillas (HP in home city +4%)
- Tier 2: Undead workforce (building speed +4%)
- Tier 3: Undead swarm (upkeep increase +2%)
Your hero has four sets of equipment - Fighter, Economy (resources and research), Builder (which includes training) and Magic (mana collection, spell casting). As you go through the game and collect artifacts, you should remember to equip your hero with them in the appropriate set. You will also need to exchange some artifacts within each set to make the most of the gear for the occasion (eg, in builder set change to Paingiver from Crown Jewel when training troops). Artifacts can be made stronger by using the forge.