Heroes of Land, Air, and Sea Race Strategies
With the game releasing not long ago and people starting to get their hands on it, I figured I'd create a list for some basic strategies to implement with each race. Some of them are pretty straightforward, but some of them can be very complex, and it's not always really clear the best way to play with each one the first time you use them.
Each race starts identical in terms of unit strength and cost.
-Cost: 1 Food, or 3 Food for 2
-Cost: 2 Food
-Worth 1 Point at the end of the game
-Cost: 3 Food, 2 Ore
-Worth 2 Points at the end of the game
-Cost: 3 Food, 2 Mana
- Worth 2 Points at the end of the game
-Cost: 5 Food
- Worth 2 Points at the end of the game
-Cost: 2 Food, 2 Ore
- Worth 2 Points at the end of the game
-Cost: 2 Food, 2 Mana
- Worth 2 Points at the end of the game
Board Game: Humans!!!
[Average Rating:5.84 Overall Rank:6456]
[Average Rating:5.84 Unranked]
Ah, the boring old humans. *Yawn*. Well, don't sleep on the Humans in HOLAS. They're masters of the Plains, which is home to arguably the most important resource in the game. They're also extremely flexible and can quickly switch gears depending on the state of the game to maximize their efficiency. They have one of the best resource engines in the game and are very forgiving for new players.
--Building 1: Cathedral / Paladin--
The Cathedral is a very good building for resource efficiency. Its level 1 ability is good on its own, but gains a lot more potency at level 2. At level 2, you can post warriors inside of Plains, harvest from them, and defend them even better. As if that weren't enough, at level 3, it reduces the cost of all your hero units, meaning that (if you really wanted) you can recruit any of them by only using food.
Many of the 4/1 hero units are inherently limited in impact because they are so slow. The Paladin is able to remedy his low speed right off the bat. Pairing a Paladin with his squire (a serf) is universally a good idea, because it puts the Paladin's army at speed 2, and at Captial level 2, the Paladin gets a bonus to combat strength (which basically means a single Serf alongside a Paladin is equivalent to having a Warrior with him). If that wasn't enough, his level 3 ability gives him free points if he wins with his squire at his side. He's best used spearheading your forces, gathering exploration tokens near the coast, and just generally keeping your opponents at bay.
Overall, the Cathedral is basically a must-buy in any game as Humans.
--Building 2: University / Mage--
The University is fun. While you won't be taxing very often, the option to tax can be very important. The ability to tax twice in a given round also gives the Human player unique control over the Tax market. Choosing to tax as a Capital Action is not always a good play since most of your opponents will inevitably follow and get free resources, but if you find yourself in a situation where someone has already taxed in a round and you can tax a second time, you can quickly shore up a resource you have limited access to (and also move the market a second time in a single round). The level 3 ability is also extremely welcome, given the Human desire to always be in Plains and the added strength they gain from them.
The Mage turns the human food engine into a toned down version of the Elf mana engine. His level 1 ability is very welcome, especially if he's paired with serfs who can farm the land. Sure, it's extreme overkill to control 4 plains, each one being worked by 1 or 2 serfs, but if you have a plains with 2 serfs and a Mage overseeing them, you can suddenly get 3 of a resource of your choice. If you need to turn to spellcasting, the Mage also can act as on the offensive, letting you sling cheap spells using all the extra food you've gathered.
If you decide to go very Plains-heavy and need to shore up your other 2 resources (either via Tax or via the Mage's ability), the University is a good choice. You may not use it every game, but it can come in handy.
--Building 3: Tavern / Swashbuckler--
The Tavern is a bit of a trap building. At a glance, it seems like it's the go-to for resource flexibility by giving you more food for free, making Towers cheaper, and giving you 2 Mana per Plains. But, the Humans already have access to the University for resource fixing, and the University arguably does a better job at it. As a building, it's decent (but outclassed).
Thankfully, the Swashbuckler gives it some use. If your opponents are going heavy into vessels, she's your gal. You'll probably want at least one of your own to give her the combat bonus, although with a sizeable enough offfensive force, she can just capture one of her own at level 3.
The choice of building a Tavern is very much a game state/meta choice to counter vehicle heavy opponents. It's not the kind of building you should be rushing for or building every game, but it can be a strong choice in certain games.
--Building 4: Sea Dock / Galley--
The Galley is the grand navy of HOLAS. It can attack while at sea (at higher strength), and when paired with the Swashbuckler, can be devastating. It also keeps you opponents honest with its level 3 ability, which instantly kills a lone Warrior or Serf when it battles one. If your opponent has spread Serfs all over their continent, consider sending a Galley their way to keep them in check.
--Building 5: Air Spire / Air Ship--
The Air Ship is basically a mobile Tower and resource engine. With its 4 move, you can send it from your Courtyard to all kinds of spots on the map, then muster a march action and unload a bunch of Serfs in a totally new place. Like the Galley, it pairs extremely well with the Swashbuckler since they both want to be attacking enemy Vessels. Plus, you can use your Swashbuckler/Air Ship combo to comandeer another vessel, leave the Swashbuckler guarding your new trophy, then send your Air Ship to drop Serfs off elsewhere. If you have the resources to spare (and you almost certainly will), you can do a lot worse than the Air Ship.
The Humans' heavy focus on food makes it forgiving for newer players, but that doesn't mean it's an easy or a simple race. Good Human players will leverage the flexibility of the Human buildings and focus on building the right ones at the right time. The Cathedral is pretty important for every game, but any of the other 4 buildings can come in handy depending on the board state and your opponents' play styles. The challenge is to figure out which ones to build first.
The Orcs are the aggressive bullies of the HOLAS world. They come with no consistent resource generation anywhere on their Captial or their heroes, so their strength is going to come from trying to deny opponents to generate extra resources of their own. Glory is gained through battle, and the fact that the attacker gets a point for starting a combat is going to be one of the primary ways that the Orc player stays competitive.
--Building 1: Barracks / Chieftan--
The Barracks is going to be your wheelhouse if you want to play to the Orc's strengths. At level 2, it's an unconditional +1 to all of your Warriors. Many other races can improve their Warriors, but all of them have limits (certain terrain, souls for the Undead, swarms for the Goblins). The Barracks also grants them an extra movement to start battles, meaning that a group of Warriors can move at 4 speed if they want to start some trouble. Perhaps most importantly is the level 3 ability, which gives you a free Hero if you win a battle with a Warrior (strictly speaking, it costs 2 because the Warrior is replaced, but it's still by far the best resource efficiency the Orcs have)
The Chieftain is built to be a Tower levelling machine. He gets +1 strength at level 2 for fighting towers, and grants you an extra point at level 3 for just attacking one. With the level 3 Barracks ability, you should be able to get him in the thick of combat pretty easily as well.
There's nothing flashy about this building at all, but it's by far the most important one to build as an Orc player.
--Building 2: Blood Tent / Shaman--
The Blood Tent is a decent (though highly situational) building. Its level 1 ability can be quite helpful, especially if you already have a Barracks and a level 2 Capital. For 2 mana, you basically get 2 additional combat power (and that Warrior will stay on the board if you win, and it can also become a Hero if your Barracks is at level 3!) More than that, the Blood Tent punishes opponents who go heavy into Serfs because they essentially will add no combat power at all to your opponent's side. The level 3 ability is very situational. It's by far the most limiting of all the point generating buildings because it caps out at 4 in a 4 player game and can be very difficult to maximize in a 5 or 6 player game. You won't be building it for its end game points, though, so free points are free points.
The Shaman is a take-that style hero. He siphons resources from your opponent just by fighting them, he can turn a potential loss into a win after Tactic cards are revealed (and is the only Hero that can do that), and he also punishes an opponent who manages to kill him. It's very important to note here that you (the Orc player) choose the unit killed, so you can target their most critical piece and remove it from the board. He's not the kind of hero to go out of your way for, but given the level 3 Barracks bonus, he can come in for free which can be extremely helpful.
Overall, the Blood Tent is best used to counter an opponent who may threaten your control of the board. On its own, it won't contribute as much to your board presence as the other buildings, but if you have someone brething down your neck, it can be worth the investment.
--Building 3: Pit Arena / Berserker--
The level 1 Pit Arena ability seems underwhelming, but it's also the only way that any race in the game has to improve the power of their serfs (outside of Undead souls). Everything about the Pit Arena is built to pump up your Serfs and encourage you to use them in combat, which is something that few (if any) other races will even attempt. What this basically means is that you can focus on opposing combat forces with your own Heroes/Warriors and use your Serfs to counter their Serfs. Combine that with the level 2 Blood Tent, and you can really clean house.
If cleaning house is what you're looking to do, the Berserker can help tremendously with that. She makes Orcs one of two Races in the game that are capable of multiple battles with a single action (the other being the Lizardfolk), but the Lizardfolk's extra combat is limited to Regions adjacent to the first battle where the Berserker gets another full March action.
If you need to get your Serfs into the action and fight with them, the Pit Arena is for you. Also, don't let her name fool you, the Berserker is great at precision strikes against weak opponent territories.
--Building 4: Sea Dock / War Croc--
The War Croc is all about leveraging the Orc's traditional combat strength in different ways. It can venture inland and strike at targets that no other water vessels can touch (and gains +2 strength at level 3 when doing so). It's a great way to strike a surpise attack from the water at a region that your opponents won't expect.
--Building 5: Air Spire / Dragon--
If you need even more ways to pick off enemy Serfs, the Dragon is for you. At level 1, it kills one for free before combat even starts, and if it's level 3, it gets a huge strength bonus for doing so. Given the strength and synergy of the Blood Tent and Pit Arena, the Air Spire may not be worth investing in because you already have other ways to clean house. That said, if your Berserker is alredy tied up and you need more options for map control (especially like in large player count games), you could do worse.
The Orcs should be trying to battle whenever it's feasible for them to do so. Every other race has access to some kind of bonus resources (with the exception of the Goblins, who can fix their own resources by Recruiting Serfs en masse), so it's important as the Orc player to disrupt your opponents' resource sites as much as possible. Straight up aggression is the simplest way, but denying potential expansion by locking down chokepoints is another. The bonus strength of your Warrior and Serf units allows you to have several large forces active on the map at once (instead of just 1 or 2 like the other races are capable of). Focus on getting your level 2 Barracks ASAP, then work toward the other Hero buildings.
Masters of Mana and spellcasting, the Elves thrive in the Forests. Mana is the trickiest of the resources to use effectively, so commanding an Elvish force can be hard for newer players, and often times their success is going to be tied to the quality of Spell cards that they draw (and therefore may not be indicitive of overall game plan).
--Building 1: Garrison / Commander--
The Garrison should look familiar after looking at the Human Cathedral. Its first 2 abilities are identical to the Humans (replacing "Plains" with "Forest"), and its level 3 ability adds potential defensive strength instead of resource efficiency. Unlike the Cathedral (a critical building to all Human strategies), the Garrison is far from essential. This is in part due to the inherent value of Food versus Mana coupled with the impact of the Paladin versus the Commander. Not only is it easier to spend Food, it's easier to turn excess Food into another resource by Recruiting a pair of Serfs and sending them into a different tile to harvest something else. Spells can be incredibly powerful, but if you only have combat spells and no food to recruit an army, you can find yourself stalled.
The Commander as a unit is decent but underwhelming. She double dips a bit with the level 3 Garrison power in that they both buff units adjacent to her (or a Tower's) location, which can help a lot when defending chokepoints. But then again, these bonuses only apply to regions adjacent to Towers or the Commander, and you'd typically want those Towers and Commanders to just be in the fight themselves.
Given the impact of the Sorceress and the Assassin (and their respective buildings), you'll probably find yourself passing on this building frequently.
--Building 2: Mana Tower / Sorceress--
Now we're talking Elf business. The Mana Tower is great for a heavy casting strategy by buffing both your Research and your Cast actions (effectively making both of them twice as powerful). If you want to experiment with Spells, look no further than this building.
Maybe Spells aren't enough though, and you need a really powerful Hero to keep your enemies at bay. Enter the Sorceress, who generates Mana for you automatically by being out in the field and can cripple defending forces before attacking them. Of particular note is the fact that her level 2 and 3 abilities are not conflicting, meaning you can spend a whopping 8 Mana and do them both before a single attack (if you want). Paying 5 Mana to kill a Hero unit before a battle is often worth it anyway since Heroes essentially cost 5 resources to make and killing your opponent's Hero can give you a huge leg up in the upcoming battle.
If you're playing Elves, you want this building. It can give you more value from the Spell cards clogging your hand, and the Sorceress basically acts like an Assassin just as much as the actual Assassin.
--Building 3: Shadow Guild / Assassin--
As a building, the Shadow Guild is serviceable. It's not game-changing like the Mana Tower, but it does give you some more resource flexibility by allowing you to convert Mana to something else if you need it. It powers up your Heroes as well, but that may not be necessary with how easy it is for Elves to just kill enemy Heroes outright. Speaking of...
The Assassin is not something you want to see coming your way. He's theoretically capable of killing off an entire complement of Heroes all by himself if the board state is set up to allow it. March once, kill a Hero. Muster, March again, kill a Hero, then use his level 2 to pull the last hero into your Assassin's location and kill them as well. It's not going to happen very often and is totally mitigated by having a second unit alongside your Heroes, but the simple fact that he's capable of doing so should be terrifying for anybody. The inherent problem with the Assassin is that he's vulnerable after performing his level 2 ability, and whoever you targeted to kill is almost certainly going to be aiming their fury directly at you for doing so.
Let's be real. You don't build the Shadow Guild for its building bonuses, you build it for the Assassin. Against careless foes, the Assassin can wreak havoc and cut down Heroes like it's his job (which it is).
--Building 4: Sea Dock / Corsair--
The Corsair is a serviceable sea Vessel who also helps your Mana income. Equally as important is its level 2 ability, which allows it to come back cheaper when destroyed and without using an Action. It's not flashy, but it's a solid choice.
--Building 5: Air Spire / Phoenix--
Like the Corsair, the Phoenix is all about recursive value. If it dies, you can bring it back cheaper. Plus, if your Capital is level 3, you get an influx of Mana as compensation. It can be useful as a transport, as a combat unit, or as a Mana battery to allow you to recharge your Mana mid-round if you need to cast a powerful spell.
The Elves do 2 things really well: kill Heroes and cast Spells. The killing Hero part is relatively straightforward: if you can find a valuable target nearby, spring the trap and send them packing. The presence of either the Sorceress or the Assassin near an opposing force can be enough to cause them to rethink the position of their Heroes since you can potentially kill them with little to no risk to your own force. Often times, the threat of a kill is enough to keep your opponents in check and allow you more board control. When it comes to casting Spells, you're just going to have to run with whatever the deck gives you. Getting an early Mana Tower can help give you some more options in what to cast, and it's usually the best building you can build first as a result. If you get a resource generating Spell, don't hesitate to Scribe it to allow your Mana engine to generate you other Resources as well.
The Dwarves play pretty much like you'd expect a Dwarf race to play: defensive, building focused, and not the least bit flashy. That's not to say they're inherently bad, they just don't have some of the neat abilities the other races do. They're extremely good at what they do, which is good because Dwarves probably want to have access to all of their buildings throughout the game.
--Building 1: Blacksmith / Cannoneer--
Like the other "vanilla" races of Humans on Plains and Elves on Forests, the Blacksmith empowers the Dwarves abilities on Mountains. The usefulness here sits somewhere in between the insanely useful Human Cathedral and the arguably useless Elvish Garrison. Ore as a resource is very important for Buildings and Towers, so you'll always have a use for it unless you're extremely late in the game. The level 3 Blacksmith ability is neat, though it has inherently limited impact. A free Tower basically means you get a free action and some free resources, but it also limits you on where you get one (which may not be of any use to you strategically or economically).
The Cannoneer is built for smashing Vessels. He comes in with a +1 bonus against them at level 1, and gets bonus points for beating them in combat. Don't overlook his level 2 ability either, which punishes large combat forces. He's relatively situational in combat, but if he shows up in battles where he gets a bonus, he can really shine. He also combos well with the Marauder, giving you some insane bonuses when fighting Vessles.
The Blacksmith overall is a decent building, but you probably won't rush to build it right away.
--Building 2: Monastery / Priestess--
The Monastery is great for the Dwarf strategy. If you build it first, it can provide you with a potential 10 free Ore (or even more if you need to rebuild a Barge) as the game goes on for doing what you want to be doing anyway (building things). Plus, it provides the usual end-game region bonus of controlling Mountain Regions.
The Priestess is a deceptively strong Hero choice. She can literally show up anywhere that the Dwarf player has troops, meaning you should be using her in just about every attack unless you have a very good reason. Not only is she stronger than your Warriors, at level 3 she gets you 2 bonus points for winning a battle after using her level 1 ability. In addition, her level 2 ability can be insanely useful for splitting up enemy forces into more manageable size. Position her next to a sizeable force, pull some of their units into your space, and then move on from there. If your opponent has 10 strength worth of Warriors and Heroes in a Tower space, you can pull half of them into your space with a March action for a fight (and ideally a win), then Muster a second March and fight the Tower with a weakened force.
If you build no other buildings with the Dwarves (what in the world are you even doing?), build this one.
--Building 3: Meadhall / Marauder--
The Meadhall shores up your Mana income by allowing you to collect 2 Mana from Mountains (at level 3 with 2 Serfs). It also increases your Capital's potential defensive strength by making all Serfs in your Courtyard and Action Bar double strength. The Dwarf Heroes are so mobile that it can be easy to leave your Capital undefended, but the Meadhall can help mitigate that.
The Marauder has a Priestess-lite ability where he can just show up on a Vessel as you move it. This can be extremely useful, especially if you plan on using said Vessel to fight another Vessel in combat. Winning a battle with a level 3 Marauder gives you 2 free Resources, but if you manage to also destroy a Vessel with him, you'll get a whopping 3 more. Pair him with the Cannoneer and you'll rule the skies and seas.
If your opponents are heavy into Vessels, focus on the Meadhall to get your Marauder out and pillaging. It's not an "every-game" building like the Monastery (or, to a lesser extent, the Blacksmith), but it can be useful against certain opponents.
--Building 4: Sea Dock / Barge--
If your opponents are foolish enough to build a Tower on the coast, you can punish them with extreme prejudice. Put the Cannoneer on the Barge, sail to victory, and have the Marauder show up last minute to revel in the wreakage. Experienced opponents will likely do their best to avoid putting themselves in this position, but even one of them committing a single error with their tower placement can be an enormous benefit to you.
--Building 5: Air Spire / Griffin--
The Griffin is the Marauder's best friend, getting +2 when a Hero is on board. It also comes with some native protection against strong forces, allowing it to sacrifice itself and prevent you from losing more units. An offensive force supported by a Griffin is the most forgiving if things go wrong just because you dont risk a huge portion of your army being destroyed from a failed attack. A great support unit.
Despite the historically slow depiction of Dwarves in other fantasy settings, the Dwarf Heroes are extremely mobile when it comes to their presence on the battlefield. They also have several strengths when facing Vessels, which can often be mitigated by your opponents simply choosing not to build any. Don't think of this as a bad thing though, if they don't choose to build any, you suddenly have total control over the seas and sky. The Dwarves' focus on Ore also means it's easier for them to build more of their buildings throughout a game, which is a good thing because all of them are pretty good. The Monastery should definitely be priority #1, but after that, you have some flexibility on which ones to build next.
The Lizardfolk are a combat-driven race, much like the Orcs. Unlike the Orcs, who tend to "fight fair," the Lizardfolk fight dirty, using guerilla tactics and high speed to strike where their foes are least defended. Facing Orcs is scary because they can beat you into submission, but facing Lizardfolk can be just as scary because they'll cut the legs right from under you.
--Building 1: Ziggurat / Headhunter--
The Ziggurat gives your army a huge speed advantage that other armies can only dream of. Though the level 1 ability only applies to Swamps, it also means you can March into a Swamp, get both Exploration Tokens, then leave the Swamp and go to a resource-generating Region (or even explore a second Swamp for 4 tokens in a single turn). Really, the only bad thing about the building is that you can only have a maximum of 5 Warriors at a time. The level 3 ability here is also very useful in that it can keep your army on the warpath, breaking through an enemy line and then beginning your pillaging on the same action.
The Headhunter is also one of the best 4/1 Heroes in the game. Strength 4 Heroes are balanced by having limited movement, but the Headhunter can literally travel as far as you can pay for. If you have 6 Food, you can pay all of it to turn him into a 6/4 and get a point for doing so. He's extremely dangerous if you have extra Resources to use for him.
Realistically, the Ziggurat is good in just about any faction. For Lizardfolk, though, it's best used to counteract powerful single attack forces. If you don't need the huge presence that the Headhunter brings you, the other buildings are better off to focus on first.
--Building 2: Voodoo Hut / Witchdoctor--
If you plan on casting a lot of Spells, the Voodoo Hut is the place for you. Even if you don't, just by controlling Swamps, you can get a huge discount on Spells and cast them just to get the bonus points. Combine the Hut with the Thieves' Den, which gives you Resources for controlling Swamps, and you'll have a huge amount of spending power.
The Witchdoctor is a walking blockade breaker. As a March action, he can swap his positions with any unit on the board (as long as it doesn't result in a battle). Once he's level 2, he can also choose to move the army he swapped with and start a battle that way. What this essentially means is that you can swap him with some innocent Serfs on a faraway continent, move those Serfs into your waiting army, then slaughter them. As if that weren't enough, you can then Muster a March to swap your Witchdoctor a second time, keeping him safe. Or, if you're especially diabolical, you can swap him with a different opponent's primary attack force, which will suddenly find itself behind enemy lines smack dab in the middle of their resource Regions.
The Witchdoctor is the perfect way to lose friends. He can have a tremendous effect on the entire map without fighting in a single battle just because of his level 1 ability.
--Building 3: Thieves' Den / Ranger--
The Thieves' Den is often a required building for Lizardfolk just because it nets you Resources for the Swamps you control. You won't get the kind of income you can by using Serfs on the more traditional Resource spaces, but the fact that you can choose what you get can help mitigate that.
Where the Witchdoctor specializes in straight up shenanigans, the Ranger specializes in more traditional fighting. He's essentially a 4/4 (since you really have no reason not to use his level 1) who can attack twice if his army wins. He's also the reason why, as Lizardfolk, you have less of a need for your 4/1 Hero for direct combat. The Ranger doesn't get his +2 bonus when defending, so keep that in mind, but if you need to break through the front line, the Ranger is more effective than the Headhunter. Plus he can potentially attack twice, or even three times if you have a level 3 Ziggurat!
The Den and the Voodoo Hut combine extremely well together, and a Lizardfolk player should always aim to have both of them as early as possible.
--Building 4: Sea Dock / Raft--
The Raft is a bit of a silly sea Vessel. It comes back for free at level 3, but the tradeoff is that its overall value is limited. It can give you an free resource by camping out in a sea Region, but for its cost, you're better off just recruiting a Warrior or Serf and dropping it into a land Region you haven't tapped yet. Due to this and the fact that Lizardfolk have other ways of getting around (see: Witchdoctor), this building is easy to pass on.
--Building 5: Air Spire / Beetle--
The Beetle can power itself up by consuming food, and it can provide a sizeable food income if it's ever destroyed. Overall, because of the incredible power of the 3 main Lizardfolk buildings, the impact of the Air Spire is limited. You're probably better off paying food to get your Headhunter around.
The Lizardfolk are a little tricky to play, but they're devastating in good hands. With the Headhunter able to gain movement easily and the Ranger boosting its own combat strength, the Lizardfolk basically have 2 Heroes with 4/4 stat lines. Even so, arguably their strongest hero in the Witchdoctor is one that doesn't need to fight to cause extreme disarray. The Lizardfolk Vessels are underwhelming at best, but with the lineup of Heroes at their disposal, they don't need them. No Region is safe from the expansive reach of the Lizardfolk.
The Undead are a combat focused race that also depends on a strong economy. They're different from other combat races in that unlike the Orcs who can lean on their extra strength or the Lizardfolk who can lean on underhanded tactics, the Undead are forced to fight more conventionally. But, once the Undead can start Reaping souls, they can quickly start to snowball and become unstoppably strong. They're a very complicated, combo-driven race that can struggle if played incorrectly, but when played well, they can overrun basically any army.
--Building 1: Necropolis / Lich--
The Necropolis has some seemingly strange benefits on its tree. Its level 1 has some synergy with its soul reaping, and its level 2 is decent for getting something out of a failed battle. But, its level 3 is where it really shines. If you can manage to get a handful of Warrior souls in the Underworld, you can quickly steamroll opponents because of the insane combat bonus you can get. If you manage a full complement of Warrior souls (6), you can have an army consisting of a single Warrior of your own come in with a strength of 8. You can send a single Serf into battle with a strength of 7. The Necropolis is not the kind of building you want to underestimate if you find yourself facing an Undead opponent.
The Lich is more limited in his usefulness. He can gain some strength for having souls in the Underworld, which can be used to help your already strong armies get even stronger. His level 3 is puzzling but acts as some insurance against his death. If you happen to have him singlehandedly guarding a chokepoint, and an enemy Elf sends their Assassin his way, at least you'll get something out of it.
The Necropolis is a late-game building that you can use when you need to start pushing into enemy territory. Early on, it's largely uselss, but it has the potential to be the most impactful building in the game if you can manage Reaping some Warrior souls.
--Building 2: Crypt / Wraith--
The Crypt can help you keep your ranks up if you find yourself losing a lot by giving you free Recruit actions. This can be used in unexpected ways by sending a lone Serf off to die somewhere, then getting a free Recruit action to get something stronger. Clever usage like this can basically allow the Undead player to pretty easily get 3 Recruit actions per round. It also acts as (ideally) a 6 point boost in the end-game if you manage to fill up the Underworld with souls.
The Wraith doubles down on this suiciding skeleton strategy. Send a Serf to die somewhere, then use the Wraith's level 2 to show up next to that Region and lock it (and all other Regions he's next to) down. His overall impact is limited just because he can only really lock down one person per turn, but that single turn of lock can be crippling. Plus, if you act early enough the next round, you can potentially do the same strategy to another opponent and get your Wraith out of there. Do keep in mind that his abilties also affect your own Regions, so use him with caution.
Building the Crypt can be useful just to keep your army filling with bodies if and when they start to die. You're going to want to be fighting often to try and amass souls, so having a usable army is crucial.
--Building 3: Boneyard / Reaper--
If there ever was a building that's intimately tied to its race's success, this is it. If you're playing Undead and you don't build the Boneyard, I'd have to ask you why bother playing Undead in the first place. Even its level 3 (which infringes on the possible strength of the Necropolis) can end up netting you free Warriors with your Recruit actions. Imagine having 3 Serf souls in the Underworld, sending a Serf to die against a big force (gaining a point in the process), then using the Crypt level 2 to Recruit 2 more Serfs for free. You're literally trading a March action for a point and a free Serf.
The Reaper is similarly important in that he makes your Reaping more efficient. You want to Reap at every opportunity, so if you can spend half as much doing so, you should. His level 2 and 3 abilities are also quite good at keeping you topped off on forces for even more combat.
In short, build the Boneyard immediately. There is no building more important in the game.
--Building 4: Sea Dock / Ferry--
The Ferry provides even more recursion options for the Undead player. If you're sending your troops to die, you can forego the Mana you'd gain from the Crypt to gain them back on the Ferry for free. Most Vessels in the game are hit-or-miss depending on your strategy (and most are largely skippable), but the Ferry is one that you should strongly consider getting if you plan on slamming skeletons into your enemies anyway.
--Building 5: Air Spire / Dracolich--
The Dracolich can have some uses in specific scenarios (mowing down a huge group of Serfs on the move), but it's quite situational. The nice thing about the Dracolich is that you can just build the Air Spire, and not bother building the Dracolich until you plan on striking with it since it can show up anywhere you have control. Not a high priority given the importance of other Undead buildings.
The Undead are not for the faint of heart. They are weak early on, so the Undead player needs to be able to win battles that are close or even uphill in order to gather early souls. Once the souls start flowing, though, the race starts to play itself. Sacrifice Serfs for free Recruit actions (potentially getting them back on the Ferry for free), Recruit more Warriors for cheap, and use those powered up forces to get more souls. Once you have several huge attack forces, start pushing back at your opponents.
The Lionkin are mighty desert warriors. They take the one Region type in the game that has absolutely no use and turn it into an extreme strength. This allows the Lionkin a lot of flexibility since the areas that they want are ones that most opponent's don't. They sit somewhere in between the Resource-heavy races (Humans, Dwarves, Elves) and the combat-heavy ones (Orcs, Lizardmen, Undead).
--Building 1: Colloseum / Gladiator--
Despite being misspelled, the "Colosseum" is pivotal to the Lionkin's success. It gives their Recruit actions more efficiency, and more importantly, turns their armies into a mighty force if they control enough Deserts. Of note here is that unlike other Region-specific bonuses (like from the Human Cathedral and Elf Garrison), the level 3 Colosseum ability applies to all your armies across the board. This means that just by keeping some troops in a couple Deserts, you can compete or even outmatch some of the stronger combat-focused races.
The Gladiator is a surprisingly useful 4/1 Hero as well. Combine him with a Transform spell, and you've got yourself a 10/5 Hero your opponents can't retreat from that will almost definitely give you a bonus 2 points for winning. 4/1 Heroes are often good Transform targets naturally, but the Gladiator is perhaps the best out of all of them. It's specific and luck reliant, but if you get your hands on a Transform spell, it would be pretty helpful to scribe it.
While not the most important building out of the gate, the Colloseum is very useful once you can get yourself established in the Deserts.
--Building 2: Divination Pool / Oracle--
The Divination Pool attempts to remedy the downside of the Desert by allowing you to travel through them without stopping. In most cases, you won't really need to do this, but if you plan on using the Monk for guerrilla warfare against opposing Serfs (or Capitals), you'll need the Pool so you can move out of the Desert after jumping there. Gaining resources for casting Spells is also somewhat welcome, especially since it provides a way to turn Mana into something else if you have need of that resource.
The Oracle is a decent hero, but she's at her best at level 3 when she can give you some options during battle. Peeking at Exploration Tokens is fine, as is peeking at Spells, but the impact of that knowledge is inherently limited since you'll probably be exploring there anyway at some point, and since you don't control when those Spells are cast. At level 3 though, she can really help keep your army safe by potentially coming in with a Retreat card if you're unsure that you can win a battle.
Probably the lowest priority of the 3 Lionkin Hero buildings, but it's not a bad choice (and it's great for end-game scoring).
--Building 3: Temple / Monk--
The Temple is awesome. It allows you to generate a lot of Resources from Regions that are otherwise barren, and gives you a lot of potential value for spots that give other players no benefit. Giving Heroes additional movement is also somewhat helpful, but it gives the biggest benefit to the Gladiator.
Like the Temple, the Monk is awesome. At first glance, she seems cool but not great, at least until you think about just what her level 1 ability really allows her to do. She can show up out of nowhere and secure a Desert anywhere on the map for her people. If your opponent is foolish enough to guard the Desert from her entry, you can pair her up with the Gladiator, prepare with a nearby Glider, and have a full attack force show up completely unannounced. The only race that comes even close to this kind of area control is the Lizardfolk with their Witchdoctor shenanigans, but even those don't have the potency that a surprise lion attack do. Completely lost in all this is the fact that the Monk can also shepherd a Serf with her into a Desert across the world, which you can then use your next action for a Build action to construct a Tower on it. This can act to help give you additional income out of nowhere, and more importantly, can trigger the end game with almost no warning. Also an important side note to consider: Every Capital City in the game is adjacent to a Desert, meaning the Monk is always 2 spaces away from attacking a Capital (or returning home).
If you're going to live in the Desert anyway (which you should as the Lionkin), you might as well gain Resources from it. The Temple really should be the first building you get.
--Building 4: Sea Dock / Longboat--
Cats don't like water, and they'll do anything to get out of it. This is reflected in all the Longboat's abilities by giving the boat itself more movement and allowing units aboard the boat to get a free March when they do finally hit land. It's a fun, thematic building, but your focus will likely end up elsewhere.
--Building 5: Air Spire / Glider--
The Glider is basically an emergency reinforcement delivery service. When defending, you can choose to run away from battle with no cost if you find yourself outmatched. When attacking with something else (like the Monk), you can fly the Glider there (if it's in range) to assist in the battle. It's a great insurance policy to have a loaded up Glider nearby if you need the help when attacking.
The Lionkin are the only race in the game who want anything to do with Desert Regions, so use that to your advantage. Even Swamps house 2 Exploration tokens, so it's not uncommon for people to have some troops here and there. But Deserts? They give you nothing and reduce your army's movement. That is, if you're not Lionkin. If you are Lionkin, enjoy the extra bonuses you get for these tiles. Even using your Monk to teleport a single Serf into a faraway Desert tile, then sending your Monk back to safety, can go a long way. Your opponent won't feel that threatened by a single worker on a tile they have no use for, plus they might not have the actions, troops, or desire available to boot them out once you're there. The Temple is a critical building to Lionkin success and should be built first, but feel free to experiment after that. As a final note, the Monk singlehandedly progresses you toward triggering 3 of the 4 end game Xs depending on the current board state. You can use her to pick up leftover Exploration tokens, zoom Serfs around the board to build Towers, or launch a surprise attack on an unguarded Capital. As such, the Lionkin player should constantly be looking for opportunities to end the game when it's most beneficial for them to do so.
The Goblins are filled with swarming Warriors and suicidal Heroes. They're a relatively high skill cap race as a result of being combat-focused but lacking a lot of the strong combat passives that other races have access to. Their tendency toward self-destrction also means that Goblins are a resource-heavy race that needs a strong economy to keep them going. That said, don't underestimate the Goblins in combat. Doing so may find you on the wrong end of an explosion where you find your army in shambles.
--Building 1: Throne / Tyrant--
The Throne is the most important building if you wanted to play Orcs and someone else picked them first. It powers up your Warriors when they fight together and lets you Recruit them faster than anybody else. Plus, if you go for a swarming attack (which you should), you get 2 extra strength on top of that.
The Tyrant is a limited impact 4/1 Hero. He's only really useful alongside a very specific set of units. As with a lot of 4/1s, he's better off deterring enemies from attacking your front line than taking an active role in combat.
If you want to play "honest Goblins," feel free to build an early throne. But let's be real, you don't choose Goblins to play honestly.
--Building 2: Chop Shop / Rocketeer--
The Chop Shop is more of what you'd expect from a Goblin building. If you lose a battle, you reduce your opponent's potential scoring opportunity (because you're just pathetic Goblins!). If your opponent makes the foolish play of attacking one of your Towers, you can punish them with extreme prejudice. Plus, you can get a 5 point bonus at the end of the game for having the most units (which you probably should anyway).
The Rocketeer is also sneaky good at disrupting opposing Resource farms. When Marching alone, he's essentially a 3/4 (and gives you a free Resource for each Region he enters). And, if he dies, you get to move him 2 spaces away instead of losing him. What this means is that if you have even a tiny hole you can sneak through to get to enemy Resource production, you suddenly put your opponent into a terrible position. At 3 strength, the Rocketeer will beat any pair of Serfs (except for Undead soul-pumped ones) before Tactic cards. You're forcing your opponent to either pay Resources to keep those Serfs alive and farming (and getting reduced points for their Tactic card if they do beat you), or just letting them die. If they commit and defeat you, the Rocketeer still lives and can potentially do it a second time with a Mustered March Action! Good Rocketeer usage will define a Goblin player, since his inability to die means he's capable of feats that no other single unit is.
Due to the Rocketeer's potential to disrupt basically any Resource production on the map, the Chop Shop is already a good building to have. Pair that with the fact that you have the ultimate defense in exploding Towers, and this building is a must-build in any game. Whether you get this or the Rage Cage first is largely personal preference and game state dependent.
--Building 3: Rage Cage / Pyros--
The Rage Cage on its own has some good uses. Its level 1 combines nicely with the Rocketeer as he gets into position for madness, allowing you to march him into position while also setting up some Serfs of your own into nearby production. Its level 2 is amazing early game, allowing you to fill up your Courtyard extremely fast and keep those follow and muster actions coming. Plus, combined with the Chop Shop, its level 3 ability is potentially hilarious as you slowly march a ticking time bomb closer and closer to your opponents Captial.
As for the Pyros, they're yet another deterrent for a potential enemy attack. Just having them recruited means your opponent will have to think long and hard about setting up for an attack and potentially losing 3 units outright. Plus, remember what we said about the Rocketeer and needing a hole? The Pyros are a walking hole manufacturing facility. The fact that they cost only Food to Recruit (instead of a combination of Resources) means that you can feel comfortable keeping Serfs poised on the Plains to get as much food as possible. With Pyros costing 5 and the option to Recruit 3 Serfs for 5 Food too, you'll need as much Food as you can get.
If the Rage Cage gave you the option for 3 Serfs at level 1, it would be a must for your first building. Because you need level 2 anyway, you can potentially go Chop Shop first to get your Rocketeer started, though I'd tend to build the Rage Cage first just to get the Pyros out to deter any early attacks.
--Building 4: Sea Dock / Submarine--
We've talked at length about the importance of getting the Rocketeer into position, and the Submarine is just another tool to do that. It can submerge on one turn and emerge the next on any shore space on the board, meaning the world is literally your oyster in terms of where to attack. As added hilarity, you can surface with the Sub, Muster a March and attack with the Rocketeer, then disappear back into the Sub on the next round. You won't make many friends with this strategy, but Goblins aren't interested in friendship anyway.
--Building 5: Air Spire / Chopper--
The Chopper can largely be used in the same way that the Submarine is since it can fly over opposing Regions without needing to stop. The downside is that it's substantially more vulnerable to counterattack than the Submarine is. Even so, you can always just threaten your opponent that if they destroy your Chopper, you'll just keep attacking their Serfs with the Rocketeer so that they let you get away scot-free. The Submarine is arguably better at these hit-and-run delivery tactics, but the Chopper can also work if you plan on using your Sub for other insane tactics (like dropping your Tyrant off at the opponent's Captial).
The Goblins are capable of some hilarious and terrifying things. The only problem is that, moreso than any other race, the Goblins really need their Capital to be upgraded ASAP. Getting an early level 2 will help shore up gathering as you can build Serfs faster than anyone, which you can then turn around to try and leverage a fast level 3 upgrade. Once you're level 3, the Rocketeer becomes a huge nuisance to opposing Resource regions, the Pyros become a massive threat to any sizable military force, and you can slowly march your Towers toward (and beyond) the front line. You can even move towers across ferry routes, meaning that you are theoretically capable of building all 3 of your Towers without your Serfs leaving their home continent. Then, if your opponents try to stall out the end game by destroying one, they can find their attacking force in ruins as you blow up your own Tower. This strategy will take some time to develop, but it's also reasonably well protected and it means your Rocketeer has more time for disruption.