1.03.25 has been very kind to the Plaguelords. Where once a broken and battered race stood, there is now a proper contender and individualistic race. They have access to a massive range of damage types, resistances and powers, but may struggle with certain resources. The removal of the Cave upgrades and newly restricted generals has significantly benefitted the Plaguelords, allowing them to become a more unmatched force with incredible access to resistances and damage types. Leave the Plaguelords to construct their economy and they will respond with a large number of powerful counters that few races will be capable of stopping.
- Access to every damage type in the game (except an unreliable Magic damage type).
- Many units deal splash damage, allowing them to do more damage with less units and reliably counter swarm races.
- Lack of a race classification of nearly all units prevents opponents from being able to exploit them with racial slayer skills.
- Crystal is heavily relied upon and a good economy will need to be built up before the full power of the Plaguelords can be utilised properly.
- All three of the powerful Hydra units are vulnerable to common Slashing damage.
- Very little in the way of inflicting Disease for a race that are meant to specialize in it.
- The few units that have a racial tag have contradicting ideals with each other. (Their Hero and General are Human that do not like the night, but their basic infantry, builder and best Dragon are Undead that thrive in the night)
The first period of the game for Plaguelords includes their basic units and access to their research upgrades. Ghouls can be difficult to afford, but are usually worth producing against physically based races. Slimes can be used for scouting and tower fodder thanks to the return of their Piercing resistance. The individual cost of Slimes at just 30 Metal can make them worth producing until superior units have been acquired.
The cost of Gazers conflicts with Slimes. Gazers can be incredibly useful and very powerful Plaguelord units. It is usually more beneficial to produce these rather than Slimes, especially considering Gazers are ranged units which can hit air units.
Dragonflies clash in cost with multiple buildings, units and researches. They are much more powerful than they were previously, and can be used to successfully counter aerial threats, but shouldn't really be used if the enemy aren't using any air units.
By keep level 3 comes the first powerful tank-styled unit, the Hydra. They bear somewhat average damage, but they have very useful resistance to Piercing, a high Combat stat and splash damage. Beware that they also have a vulnerability to common Slashing damage and that their cost conflicts with many upgrades and researches. By now, the Plaguelords should have the tools necessary to lay waste to races with masses of Piercing weaponry (like the Empire).
Additionally, the plaguelords get access to Bone Catapults at keep level 3. The Bone Catapult's nerf means it isn't the dominant force it once was, but it is still a powerful ranged AoE unit that can pelt buildings from a safe distance if necessary.
Spores are quite expensive (their cost conflicts with construction and keep upgrades) and are hard to upgrade. They should only be used if the Plaguelord has a lot of resources to spare, and only on buildings.
Keep level 4 gives access to a massive range of elemental creatures. This is the point in the game where the Plaguelords can truly put the pressure on their opponents. Fortunately for the Plaguelords, 1.03.25 removed the Ice and Fire Caves, making the Cryohydra and Hydra easier to produce alongside each other. This means they can successfully put out their powerhouses without so much hindrance. Cryhohydras are more formidable than Hydras, and most importantly they mostly cost Metal which means they don't conflict with the other upgrades, research and units so much. They even take the same time to build as normal Hydras.
Eyes of Flame are amongst the best units available to the Plaguelords. They use a similar firebreath attack to Fire Dragons, setting enemies on fire and devastating bases - just make sure that they are backed up sufficiently by units such as the different types of Hydras and/or Ghouls depending upon the damage type prevalence of the opponent.
Wyverns are difficult to use with the Plaguelords do to their costs in Gold and Crystal. They are useful if the enemy has many units vulnerable to piercing and having another damage type can be useful. Wyverns are a very good substitute to Hydras as they are airborne and are faster.
At keep level 5 comes the Pyrohydras. These creatures are yet another power up from Hydras and Cryohydras. Despite only being accessible at keep level 5, they more than make up for it with their powerful, splash attacks which can burn bases down easily. Pyrohydras offer a win condition to the Plaguelords and can act as fireproof elite units which can smash through army and base alike.
Producing Dragonliches or Swamp Dragons is easier than it previously was due to the big price change in all Dragons. Dragonliches are the easier Dragon to produce as they don't use Crystal.
Lastly, Plague Priests are expensive melee generals which can cause some problems for certain races. They give access to Magic damage and Magic resistance whilst providing nice air cover (similarly to many Plaguelord units) and power. Even if the opponent slays a Plague Priest, they will have a lasting mark left on their forces in terms of Disease via the Plague Cloud spell. Still, their throttled accessibility is more of a debilitation for the Plaguelords as Plague Priests aren't particularly potent enough to warrant producing other than to convert. They will still be good starting units however, thanks to their capability to summon Eyes of Oros whilst converting.
Plaguelord buildings are mostly similar to other race's. The majority of structures cost Stone and Crystal, which can conflict with some of the Plaguelord units. The Laboratory costs no Stone but costs a lot of Gold instead and the Plague Shrine costs 100 of Gold, Stone and Crystal so is harder to afford, but can be well worth it if Plague Priests are needed.
The Hall of Plague can be upgraded to cast a very powerful spell. The Contagion spell costs a lot to upgrade and a lot of Crystal to cast but it Diseases and damages all enemies within an area around the structure (however, it cannot kill anything, it's similar in that way to the Rot spell), which can easily be enough to fend off attacks if the player has a lot of resources.
Plaguelord Towers are quite reasonable, and are generally more useful than High Elven towers. Both have the same damage type, but the Plaguelord tower has a lot more hits and a bit less damage. The only problem with Plaguelord towers is that they can only naturally be upgraded with more Electrical damage which means some retinue units may be needed to change the damage type.
The first big problem with Plaguelord buildings is that they cost a lot to upgrade and their researches cost a lot to do.
The Plaguelord hero has improved mostly only because of the side itself. Now that the side is working much more efficiently than it was previously, hero choices are much less desperate.
A Daemonslayer has the most synergistic options available, and rewards itself with a usable Leech in the future, but the class is almost a dud until then since Metal isn't the most wanted resource and Summoning is not so needed. The basis of the Plaguelords is all about disease. Naturally, you'd assume there'd be some kind of sphere to aid you in the spreading of such ailments. The Poison Magic sphere or Chaos Magic sphere is as close as you're going to get with that. The Swarm makes much better use of Poison Magic though and Chaos Plague is incredibly expensive. Summoning Magic may seem good, but due to earlier access of multiple spellcasting upgrades, the Dark Elves perform the magic in this sphere better. Addtionally, there is not so much demand for the fliers that the Summoning sphere creates since the Plaguelords already have good elemental coverage and anti-air weaponry.
Whatever class you pick, it is highly likely that access to a spell sphere will be far greater than the toughness of a warrior. Out of all classes, there are a couple of desperate options.
The Deathknight should be a reasonable pick if the player wants to abuse Disease as much as possible. It also has a usable Leech in the future, which can help to pay for the high costs involved with most Chaos Magic spells, particularly Chaos Plague. A Shaman can also be used if raw spellpower is wanted, but it can't really use Leech easily.
A Paladin can work with the Plaguelords in a special way, particularly at a higher level. This build revolves around access to both Healing Magic and a usable Leech thanks to the Paladin's physical resilience. Once the mana regeneration upgrades have been researched, the Leech Paladin can become an immensely hard barrier to take down. Lesser units get turned into mana for the hero, which can then be converted into a self healing spell. From then on, the Plaguelord Paladin can keep slaying units and use healing spells which make both the hero and the Plaguelord army very tough to take down, particularly the Hydras. If that's not enough, the hero can use the Resurrection spell to raise the fallen back to the player's side.
Lastly, a Dragonslayer can be used with the Plaguelords to produce higher level Hydras, which if done properly could be quite deadly. Now that Hydras are much more reasonable, a Dragonslayer can actually be a powerful choice. However, there is one huge flaw to this race/class combination: it is highly likely that choosing a Ssrathi Dragonslayer and playing as the Plaguelord race would be a far superior option simply due to synergistic access to Dragonmaster right at the start of the game.
Alternatively a simple Merchant could be used despite the race's -2 charisma modifier to help with producing Hydras and Ghouls amongst some others.
- The Plaguelords can only upgrade one unit at a time and at great cost. It may be quite a while before any of the units are upgraded properly.
- Hydras are expensive - particularly the upgraded ones (the Cryhohydra and Pyrohydra). Starve any Plaguelord of Gold and/or Crystal and they'll have a more difficult time affording them since most of their units and researches rely on great amounts of these resources.
- A lot of Plaguelord building destroyers such as the Eye of Flame have few hitpoints. Missile units will easily take care of them.
- Keeping a Plaguelord busy is quite possibly the best tactic to use against them. If you keep the pressure on them, they are unlikely to afford Hydras and/or Bone Catapults.