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Extended Stealth Guide

By MauH˙R - 13th June 2016 - 01:51 AM

Welcome to my extended guide on the use of stealth - a feature seldom used to drive opponents crazy. The reason why good stealth moves are not seen very often is because they require a certain awareness of the abilities and opportunities, aswell as preparation - something most players arent used to in fast paced games - where most of the attention lies on continuous macromanagement and micromanagement. However, all of the tricks I'm going to show you can have a very high payoff and cause a lot of frustration to your enemies.


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Let's start with the stealth king himself, Thranduil!

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His two passive stealth abilities are pretty self-explanatory. Elven Cloak makes him invisible as long as he stands still and does NOT attack anything, and therefore it's best to keep him in defensive stance whilst trying to stay out of enemy vision. This ability is obviously useful when you are trying to escape from a lost battle in which he'd most likely be taken out by horses. You can also use it for some confusing kiting of melee units that are trying to chase him. Just switch in defensive stance for a few seconds and see if the units stopped following him. Then you can fire again, and so on.
The ability that makes moves like that really annoying is Wild Walk which allows him to be invisible whilst attacking, but only when he's near trees. This is perfect to confuse armies like MotW or Dwarves, who have very little stealth detection elements at their disposal. However, the ability requires a lot of attention to get the most out of it, and of course, one has to doublecheck if the stealth is actually working at any given position.

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His most underused ability is Move Unseen, mostly because players were never 100% sure how and when to use it and if it works as intended. But in fact this ability offers a huge variety of tactics, in 1v1s aswell as in team games. It can cloak all normal units, heroes and even builders. Here's a few examples of a good use of Move Unseen:

In 1v1s:
  • Cloaking pikemen and putting them in areas where cavalry are likely to pass. The Horsemen or Battlewagons will run right into them and die instantly.
    Example

  • Cloaking your own cavalry and running them into your opponent's base to trample some exposed archers. As in the first example, he won't notice the Lancers' presence until they actually crush into his units.
    Example

  • Cloaking Treebeard to sneak him into the back of your opponent's base, and try to take out his fort either on his own or with the help of an Ent summon that would benefit from his leadership.
    Example

  • Cloaking Arwen to sneak her to enemy production buildings and use Flood.
In 2v2s:
  • Cloaking a Dwarf ally's builder to sneak in a forward mine
  • Cloaking Wormtongue to convert a enemy hero and then escape unseen with his Escape ability.
  • Cloaking Sorcerers to prevent your opponents from taking them out before they can cast their abilities. You can either rain down some corpses out of nowhere or freeze your opponent's army to delay his attack
  • Cloaking all types of MiniHero Hordes and upgraded cavalry to assault a fortress unseen (doesn't work on Berserkers)
    Example
Note: Move Unseen does not work on siege units such as Ents, Explosive Mines, Trolls or Rams!

That's the most useful combinations I can think of, but there's certainly a lot more to explore. Be creative!


Mist
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Now let's move on to the two major ways of stealthing units as Elves; the use of the spellbook spell, Enshrouding Mist and the fortress upgrade, Blessed Mist:

Blessed Mist is a great defensive upgrade as it only requires 600 resources, and does not only cloak every unit within it (including Ents!), but also debuffs enemy units. It's ideal when your base is under a lot of pressure from Dwarven infantry or when you need the decisive edge in a close Elf vs. Elf battle. The painful thing for your opponent when trying to reveal units in the Blessing Mist is that he will have to get close to them and thus to the fortress, which can be upgraded with Towers and Floodgates to protect them.

Enshrouding Mist works exactly the same way, but you can of course cast it anywhere you want, which can give you a decisive stationary advantage, especially when using Ents, which will eventually force your opponent to deal with it in a more direct manner.

So the main usage of this power is pretty obvious, be it defensive or offensive, you should cast it on a large army with a good number of ranged units. Also dont forget the big teamplay potential of this power, since it can also cloak pretty much any unit, such Sorcerers, Giants or Battlewagons.

However, there is a rather unknown, secondary use of Enshrouding Mist: trying to destroy an important Production Building belonging to your opponent (eg. Great Siege Works) whilst preventing your units from being attacked. It is best combined with 2-3 Rivendell Lancer battalions owing to their their speed, and the fact that pikemen won't be able to target them very easily.

Example



Trees
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The third and most common way of stealthing units is of course the use of trees. It is for the most part a map-specific element to take advantage of, and while only some units are able to cloak near trees, every faction can do something against it. How they can is going to be explained in the last part of this guide, but let's first go through the three different ways of using tree-cloak:

During Harassment
  • Hide in a group a trees for just a few seconds so that the chasing unit loses track and target; then continue moving. This can be confusing and annoying since your opponent will not only have to relocate your units, but also reissue his orders again
  • Stay in a group of trees for a longer while until such a time that your opponent won't expect harassment at the same location.
  • Retreat a battalion that already is on a level 2 in order to respawn and attack again when recovered.
As Trap and Defensive
  • Hide Mithlond Sentries or Spiderlings at a path with trees, where Horsemen or Battlewagons are likely to pass by.
  • Put Wildmen upgraded with torches at a similar location to heavily damage passersby units like Soldiers of Gondor or Gundabad Orcs
    Example

  • Position Hobbits in a similar location to heavily damage pretty much any infantry unit or hero with their rocks. Works even better with a row of Hobbit battalions
    Example

  • Put one or two battalions of Mirkwood Archers, Dunedain, Ithilien or Dark Rangers into a group of trees to heavily damage flying units
  • Set up two or more small groups of archers in order to flank a bigger army from different directions. This will result in them cleaning up one of those groups, while the other can keep chasing it and buy you a lot of time
With your Main Army
This one is pretty clear and only works for Elves. Keep your eyes open for locations with a lot of trees at which you could force your opponent into an engagement or summon additional trees with the Elven Woods spell. Never just fight on an open area!



Detection
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As last part of this guide, I also want to show you all the ways which are possible to prevent and detect stealth. As I've hinted in the section regarding trees, there are ways for each faction except Elves to reduce the amount of trees there are to hide in. Known ways of getting rid of trees are the Devastation spell and Lumber Mills, but there are also a lot of units that can knock down trees with their movement:

Men: Trebuchets
Dwarves: Battlewagons, Demolishers, Catapults
Mordor: Battering Rams, Catapults, All Trolls, Mumakil, Tainted Land
Goblins: Cave Trolls, Giants, Drakes, Shelob, Tainted Land
Isengard: Battering Rams, Balistas, Tainted Land
Angmar: Snowtrolls, Stone Throwers, Rogash


And at last, not that they are a big secret, all spells, buildings and abilities that can detect stealth:

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Discuss this guide here!