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The Loyalist are a faction of Humans who are loyal to the throne of Wesnoth.

The race of men is an extremely diverse one. Although they originally came from the Old Continent, men have spread all over the world and split into many different cultures and races. Although they are not imbued with magic like other creatures, humans can learn to wield it and able to learn more types than most others. They have no extra special abilities or aptitudes except their versatility and drive. While often at odds with all races, they can occasionally form alliances with the less aggressive races such as elves and dwarves. The less scrupulous among them do not shrink back from hiring orcish mercenaries, either. They have no natural enemies, although the majority of men, like most people of all races, have an instinctive dislike of the undead. Men are shorter than the elves, but taller still than dwarves. Their skin color can vary, from almost white to dark brown. Humans are a versatile race who specialize in many different areas.

Similarly, the Loyalist faction is a very versatile melee oriented faction with important ranged support from bowmen and mages.

How to play loyalists

Loyalists are considered to be the most versatile faction in the game. They have most available unit types to recruit (8), more than any other faction.

Loyalists are mostly melee oriented faction, with only two ranged unit types, the mage and the bowman, but their ranged units play a significant role in the loyalists strategy and have to be used effectively. About the melee troops the loyalist player gets to choose among:

  • Heavy Infantrymen: Few strikes, high damage per strike, slow, higher hit-points, good resistances, low defenses, deals impact damage which is good against undead.

  • Spearmen: Average strikes, average damage per strike, average movement, medium hit-points, normal resistances, average defenses, deals pierce damage which is good against drakes, has a weak ranged attack.

  • Fencer: High number of strikes, low damage per strike, quick, low hit-points, bad resistances, good defenses, deals blade damage which is good against elusive foots or wose, deals less total damage than the other two, is a skirmisher.

The loyalists unit price ranges from the cheap spearmen and mermen (14 gold) to the expensive horsemen (23 gold).

Loyalist units generally have good hit-points and they deal good damage, even the cheap spearmen and bowmen. Even their scouts have high hit-points and better melee attack compared to most of the scouts of the other factions. But on the other hand, the loyalist scouts have lower defenses than most of the other scouts and they do not have a ranged attack.

The loyalists have some units with good resistances, like Heavy Infantry or Cavalryman, which can be very good for defending if you notice that your opponent doesn't have the proper units to counter them. Other units, like the bowman, who is more vulnerable than the previous two, but is also good for defense because it has better defense, is cheaper and it deals solid damage back in both melee and range. Similar goes for the spearman.

When attacking, Loyalists have units which can be pretty devastating, like the horseman for attacking enemy mages and other ranged units, mages against the entrenched melee units, fencers for killing enemy injured and valuable units trying to heal behind their lines. But the mentioned units are also very vulnerable and they can die very easily if not properly supported.

The loyalists as a faction generally have average defenses (they do not get 70% defense anywhere, with the exception of the fencer, which is a special case) and they are not a terrain dependent faction (like the Elves or Knalgans are). Therefore, even if it good to put spearmen and bowmen on mountains, villages and castles where they get 60% defense, you should also take the faction you are facing into account when deciding where to place your units. For example, if you are fighting Knalgans, you should try not to move your units next to hills and mountains and/or take the hills and mountains with your units and leave the forest to the dwarves.

All the loyalist units are lawful, which obviously leads to the conclusion that the loyalists should be more aggressive and attack at day (or even start at dawn, because your opponent in most of the cases will be reluctant to attack too aggressively and leave units on bad ground when the morning arrives) while at night the loyalists should at least play conservatively, or in some cases even run away. Of course, that is also dependent upon the faction of your opponent.

The greatest weakness of the loyalists is their limited mobility. The loyalists' units have normal movement, some of their units like the horseman, cavalryman, merman fighter and the fencer are pretty quick when they are in their favorable environment, but all their units get slowed over rough terrain a lot compared to the other factions' units . Half of the loyalists units can not even move on/over mountains, and their scouts get significantly slowed in forest, for example. This lack of mobility will often give your opponent an opportunity to outmaneuver you in the game.To prevent that, sometimes it is good to attack hard on a certain point and defend only with minimal amount of units elsewhere, rather than uniformly spreading your units around the front.

When you don't know which faction you are facing, it is good to get a mixture of units. On most of the default 1v1 maps, this initial recruitment list would be good : spearman, bowman, fencer, mage, merman fighter, cavalryman. As always, you should carefully consider about the exact placement of each individual unit from the initial recruits on the castle to come up with the most optimal combination that will allow you the quickest village grabbing in the first turns of the game.

Loyalists vs. Undead

When fighting undead, your recruiting pattern will depend on whether your opponent spams skeleton archers or dark adepts for ranged attacks. If you see lots of skeletons, you'll have to focus heavily on heavy infrantrymen and mages. If you see lots of dark adepts, you'll want some cavalry, horsemen and maybe some spearmen.

  • Bowman: (D-) Almost entirely useless. You might use them to poke at walking corpses, ghouls, vampire bats and ghosts, but mages are much better at all of these things. I would only buy a bowman to counter a large zombie horde.

  • Cavalryman: (B+) You'll want some cavalry for scouting and dealing initial damage to dark adepts so that a horseman can finish them. They are also decent at fighting Skeletons in the daytime, because cavalry are blade-resistant. However, the cheap skeleton archers will really ruin cavalry quickly at night, so if there are any skeleton archers on the other side you won't be able to use cavalry to hold territory. If your opponent over-recruits dark adepts, however, you can use cold-resistant cavalry to hold territory against them. They are also decent for holding territory against ghouls because they can run away and heal (unlike your heavy infantrymen).

  • Fencer: (C-) Fencers are a bad recruit in this match up because they are vulnerable to the blade and pierce damage of skeletons and cannot damage them much in return. They also are incapable of holding territory against dark adepts, who cut right through the high defense of fencers. However, you may want to have a fencer or two around for trapping dark adepts or getting in that last hit. With luck, they may also be able to frustrate non-magical attacks from skeletons and the like.

  • Heavy Infantryman: (B+) You need heavy infantry to hold territory against skeletons and skeleton archers, and they will be your unit of choice for dealing melee damage, especially to the cheap skeleton archers. Any heavy infantrymen in the daytime can kill a full health skeleton archer in two hits, while a strong heavy infantrymen in the daytime can kill a full health skeleton in two hits, dealing 18 damage per strike (even a mage in daytime cannot kill a skeleton in one round, unless supported by a lieutenant). A fearless heavy infantryman may be dangerous even at night. If you don't have enough heavy infantryman to go around, you can get your initial hits in on a skeleton archer with them and finish him with a mage. Just keep heavy infantrymen away from dark adepts, and only let ghouls hit heavy infantrymen if they are on a village (or has a white mage or other healer next to him), since they can't easily run away to heal. Also beware walking corpses, which deal a surprising amount of damage at all times of day since heavy infantrymen can't dodge and impact damage goes around their resistances, and the ranged cold attack of ghosts. The biggest problem with heavy infantrymen is they are slow, which means they're hard to retreat at night and hard to advance in day. Without shielding units they'll get trapped and killed, and if you have to shield a unit maybe it should be a mage instead.

  • Horseman: (B) - Because they deal pierce damage, horsemen may not be very useful when faced with skeletons. However, if your opponent over-recruits dark adepts, horsemen can be extremely useful, as dark adepts deal no return damage to the normally risky charge attack. horsemen can even be used to finish skeleton archers, their nemesis, in the daytime. However, if your opponent recruits enough skeleton archers you will have a hard time shielding your horsemen from their devastating pierce attacks, and skeleton archers are dirt cheap. horsemen can also one-shot bats and zombies, which can be useful if you need to clear out a lot of level 0 units quickly. I would want to have at least one horseman around to keep my opponent from getting too bold with dark adepts, if not more. Your opponent will be forced to recruit dark adepts if you have heavy infantrymen in the field.

  • Mage: (A+) mages are an absolute necessity against Undead. If you do not have mages it will be almost impossible for you to kill ghosts, but with mages it's a piece of cake. mages are the best unit for killing almost everything Undead can throw at you, and can even be used to finish dark adepts in the daytime. Your main problem is that dark adepts are cheaper and deal almost as much damage, so your opponent can spam dark adepts while you cannot afford to spam mages. You will also have the difficult task of shielding fragile, expensive mages against lots of cheap Undead units. Your opponent will use skeletons and ghouls to attack your mages when he can, but bats, zombies or just about any other unit will do for killing your mages in a pinch. Shield your mages well, surround them with damage soakers and if you can deliver them safely to their targets you'll be able to clear out the Undead quickly.

  • Merman Fighter: (C-) Mermen make a decent navy against Undead, since bats and ghosts will have a hard time killing them with their high defense. Even dark adepts will find Mermen annoying because of their 20% cold resistance. However, Mermen will have a hard time hurting anything the Undead have with their lame pierce weapon. Generally Mermen are only good for holding water hexes and scouting, but don't underestimate how useful that can be. Some well-placed Mermen on a water map can prevent bats from sneaking behind your lines and capturing villages or killing injured units. Even on mostly land maps, a Merman in a river can help hold a defensive line, or a quick Merman can use a river to slip behind the enemy to trap dark adepts or other units that are trying to escape at daytime.

  • Spearman: (C-) Spearmen are mostly useful as cheap units for holding villages and occupying space when faced with dark adepts or skeleton archers. (You'll want to avoid letting dark adepts hit your heavy infantrymen because of their vulnerability to cold.) However, you don't really want spearmen to take hits from dark adepts, it would be better to let the cold-resistant cavalry absorb the damage. The only units spearmen are good for attacking are dark adepts and walking corpses. spearmen are completely useless against skeletons unless you level one into a swordsman, and even then they're pretty mediocre. However, if there are lots of skeleton archers you won't be able to use much cavalry or horsemen, so a spearman or two may be necessary as defenders and damage soakers even if they are lousy at dealing damage to Undead.

Loyalists vs. Rebels

Rebels are a very versatile faction like the Loyalists. So you need to counter their versatility with yours. Their weakest trait is low hit-points. That is compensated somewhat by relatively higher defenses and mobility, so you'll need a combination of hard-hitters and speed. mages are also nice for their magical attacks. Anyways, the key for a Loyalist general is to effectively use his hard-hitting units and kill as many units as he can at day. And at night, to defend well as elves ignore the time of day.

The smartest thing you can do upon discovering that your opponent is playing Rebels, in multiplayer, is to assume that your opponent has woses and recruit accordingly. woses are a necessary counter to Loyalists' daytime attacks and as soon as your opponent realizes that you are Loyalists he will almost certainly recruit woses. Remember that just because you don't see any woses doesn't mean there aren't a couple hiding in the forest! To fight woses you will need cavalry as meat shields, mages to deal damage, and maybe fencers to get the last hit in. Sadly, cavalry are very vulnerable to elvish archers, so you'll need to make sure that the archers die, which can be difficult if they are in forest. Get horsemen which can one-shot archers (despite their high dodge) and keep up with your cavalry. If one horseman misses, follow up with another one, it's a lucky archer that can dodge 4/4 one-shot attempts. heavy infantrymen are also great against everything but woses and mages, and will reduce the effectiveness of archer spam. spearmen are useless against woses, recruit them sparingly and keep them away from unscouted forest.

An alternative way of playing this match up is to maximize the mobility offered by the Loyalists' fastest units, namely the two horse units. By using them to outrun the Rebel units you can achieve some devastating rushes. Some matches require use of both styles of playing. Again, their versatility must be countered with yours.

  • Bowman: (C-) Rebels in general are effective in both melee and ranged attacks, so recruiting a ranged unit is less beneficial than most factions because most of the Rebels' units can retaliate against you. They can be useful for taking out an Scout or two, but otherwise, this is not really a smart buy.

  • Cavalryman: (B+) A good scout and an effective counter to woses. Watch out for archers, though, they can really tear horses to shreds. And as always, they are effective against ranged oriented units like the mage.

    (A) If you're going for some faster action, cavalrymen are vital in the attack. They do great damage during the day, and combined with their dangerous mobility, they can be a fearsome unit indeed. Just be careful of archers ZoCing you and tearing the unit to shreds.

  • Fencer: (B+) The fencer shares the 70% defense in the forest like most of the elves, but it has negative resistances. Theoretically, they should be effective against woses, but more often than not woses will crush them easily. In spite of this, Fencers still have skirmsher, which means that they can sneak behind an injured unit and finish them off. Do not over-recruit them, as enemy mages will tear though their high defense.

  • Heavy Infantryman: (C-) Usefulness similar to an archer. It's too slow to deal with most of the Rebel units, and it is owned by Mages, woses, and even archers. Even though it has a high damage potential and good resistances, because of its inherently low defense shamans can easily get hits on it and turn it into a piece of metal for a turn.

  • Horseman: (B) One horseman may be nice, but no more than that. Enemy archers will tear them apart and shamans totally mess them up. They're expensive too. Their greatest use is probably killing mages or an archer that has gone slightly off-track.

    (A-) Again, when mobility is required, these units need to come and do serious damage. Since Rebels are mostly comprised of low-hp units, horsemen at day can usually rip them apart. Again be careful of archers, for this unit is worth 23 gold. Shield him properly if he is damaged.

  • Mage: (A-) You'll need these guys to tear though those high elvish 60-70% evasion in the forest; but be careful, archers and shamans will retaliate and some pretty nasty things may come from that. One purely positive thing though, they just absolutely destroy woses. 13-3 at day. Ouch. mages are expensive and fragile though, so keep them protected.

  • Merman Fighter: (B+) If the map has a lot of water, maybe recruit a few to prevent the Rebel's Mermen Hunters from taking over the waters. Otherwise they don't really contribute much else.

  • Spearman - A - A necessity. To defend at night, to kill pretty much anything except for woses, and to be cheap and cost only 14 gold. These guys pretty much tear though most of the Rebel units, if it were not only for the high-defense archer and shaman. Get a bunch, and move them like a wall against the enemy units.

At the start of the game, recruit 1-2 cavalrymen, depending on the map size, 1 mage, (1 merman fighter if you need some water coverage), maybe 1 fencer, and the rest spearman. Later on you maybe can recruit some horseman if you opponent recruits mass mages, or more cavalrymen and mages if he masses woses. Otherwise, spearmen and mages should help you get through most of the match.

If you're going for speed, recruit 2-3 cavalrymen, depending on the map, 1 horseman, maybe 1 fencer, and the rest spearmen. Use your spearmen to fill the holes and consolidate the territory that the horses took over. Use the horses to outrun the archers and attack when they can.

Loyalists vs Northerners

The main problem you will have when facing northerners are two things: poison and numbers. If northerners didn't have assassins, it wouldn't be much of a big deal; you could out manoeuvre them with your superior scouting units and skirmishers to grab their villages and then finish them off one by one with spearmen/bowmen. Thing is, assassins poison makes defending at night extremely difficult, and by poisoning your units, they often force you to retreat and heal, or die due to retaliation. The key to winning this match up is to use your superior versatility; the northerners greatest weakness is that ALL of their units are very average and don't often have many special abilities; you have masses. Use your first strike in spearmen to defend against grunts, trolls and wolfriders (even at night), use your magic to finish off wounded assassins, and you can charge any of their wounded units and kill them with one hit. Since all of your units are lawful and theirs are chaotic, you'll want to press your advantage at day and kill as much as possible (but don't attack assassins with bowmen; you don't want to be poisoned and be forced to retreat in your daytime assault). Another problem the northerners have is that all though their units are many in number, they do not have a very high damage per hex ratio. Use this to your advantage; travel in packs and use ZoC lines to prevent your units from being swarmed too easily, and keep your vulnerable units like mages behind damage soakers like spearmen or heavy infantry. If you can, try and make night time defenses near rivers; northerners will hurt themselves when they attack you, as they have low defense in water and are very annoyed by deep water, because it prevents them from easily swarming you.

  • Spearmen: (A-) Pretty much your best unit against northerners. Their first strike ability is great in defense and their attack power to cost ratio is quite high. They also have good health and can retaliate in ranged. As in many matchups, the bulk of your army.

  • Mage: (B+) The mage is fragile and expensive and has a weak melee attack, which is the exact opposite of northerners. Not a great defender unless your opponent goes mad with assassins. However, they have lots of attack power at day and are very useful for nocking trolls of their perches and finishing off those damn assassins. You'll want a few of these, but make sure you keep them protected.

  • Bowmen: (B) Good unit to have. They can attack grunts and trolls (although you'd want mages to attack trolls) without retaliation, and can defend against assassins in the night. They can also take out any wolves that stray too far from the main orchish army. They're not as good as mages, but they're cheaper and tougher.

  • Cavalryman: (B) cavalryman are superior to their wolves and can hold ground against grunts and trolls reasonably well. It's also a good idea if your opponent likes to spam lots of assassins, to let them be the target of their poison; cavalryman and can run away and heal. Your heavy infantrymen? Not so much. Beware though, of the cheap orchish archer, as cavalrymen are weak to pierce.

  • Heavy Infantryman: (B-) Heavy infantryman are heavily resistant to physical attacks like blade, pierce and to a lesser degree, impact. You'd think this would make them great units against northerners, if the orchish archer didn't have a ranged fire attack. heavy infantrymen are also much too slow too effectively deal with poison, and that's a 19 gold unit that can't fight. However, they are useful in defense if you opponent hasn't spammed many archers, and they can even be useful in attack to crush up injured grunts.

  • Horseman: (B) The horseman is a little controversial in this matchup. northerners are cheap and melee orientated, which is exactly what horseman do badly against. They're also quite tough, which means one hit kills are rare. However, they have one very important advantage over the northerners- high damage per hex. A horseman is very useful for softening up units or outright killing them (particularly when paired with a mage) which will be important in breaking ZoC lines, which can be a real pain with all the units northerners can field. Get one or two, but no more, else it quickly produces diminishing returns.

  • Fencer: (C+) The fencer is a melee based unit that is fragile against blade attacks of grunts, which means they don't have an awful lot of fighting effectiveness with them. On the other hand, the fencer's skirmisher ability is really valuable with the many northener units, and can finish off injured archers or go on sneaky village grabbing incursions. One or two might be useful, but no more, this unit is not a serious fighter! Make sure you keep them on 70% terrain if you can as well. Two hitter grunts can have trouble taking them out.

  • Merman Fighter: (C+) Water based melee unit that doesn't do well against the orc nagas, recruit only if there's lots of water and keep them in defendible terrain, else they'll quickly be killed.

As usual, recruit cavalrymen and mermen depending on map (3-4 cavalryman for larger maps, 2-3 for medium sized ones and probably no more than one or two for small maps). Recruit plenty of spearmen and attack at day.

Speaking of that, make sure you travel in large groups and do not attack with small numbers even at day. Northerners will swarm you too easily. Also, make sure you don't overextend yourself at day, as northerners do a lot more damage at night. Pay careful attention to your mages, they will be the ones the northerners will be going after, so retreat them quickly. When defending, try to avoid attacking units that can retaliate, unless you have a reasonably high chance of killing them that turn. Avoid attacking trolls if you can't heavily damage them or outright kill them, they're regenaration will quickly mean they can heal from any scratches your bowmen might have dealt them.