How to Get Better at Manual Combat?
First, you need a good grasp of the rock, paper, scissor functioniality:
- Defender -> Area defense, overall good defense, weak offense
- Shock Troop -> Breaks Retaliation and therefore good against defenders
- Pikemen / Lancers -> Good against cavalary and large targets due to their bonus
- Mages -> Depend on their type skills, mostly for crowd control, area effect damages, make use of weak resistance units
- Archers -> Flexible, weak against melee
- Crossbow -> Less flexible, has features archers do not have
- Scout -> Quick but weak, usually not to be used in combat due to limtied offense capabilities, but are nonetheless good flankers when used right
The standard military tactics are to be applied, until they are countered by magic. Like Defenders go front, damage dealers right behind, shock troops preferably as flankers.
Astral and fliers can bypass battlelines and are to be taken into consideration, so are units with teleports.
Do not forget to buff your units – one of the most common beginner mistakes is that people tend to attack with their strong support units, but not make good use of the buff which are best at 2nd turn of a battle until you have the rusher trait with you.
Obstacles can be destroyed and transformed. Just because you are obscured in bushes, it does not mean you are safe. Set them to fire and you got a hazard hex. Shoot towards trees to fell them. Melee do not rely on accuracy.
Pay attention to the overwatch/retaliation area around a unit. Units put into defense mode are more likely to withstand, while attackers are easy to flank. Magic origin units have special abilities which again counter such. Love the Displacer Beast. I mean Phase Beast.
Do not forget that you have access to more spells during combat than just your three favourites. A good usage of all spells at the right time is key.
Casualty is essential to be taken into consideration. How you do it is subject of discussion.
In late game debuffs are as important as summons. Make sure to adjust your playstyle over time, as it can and will feel different by the end, when more spells and skills are unlocked.
The map you are fighting on differs depending on province and province improvement, for all that matters.
If you are not going into a battle with three balanced armies, make sure to reposition at start, otherwise you will regret it quickly.
A defensive battle is often easier due to circumstances, whether it is imperium perks or battlements and ballista – do not let the enemy bait.
Naval combat is best with magic origin units. Otherwise it is close to obsolete as long as you pass the vulnerability mark at coastlines with embarking and disembarking.
Rest is read, read, read as every skill and their effects matters.
But remember, there is a simple way: use Age of Wonders 4 cheat codes for easy game in general and difficult situations in particular.
Against the ai, baiting is the best thing you can do, I usually use spirit wolf/summon for it because it will comeback after I win the fight if it die, after the enemy eat my bait I usually follow up with pinning the enemy melee unit with my shield guy, pelt as many unit as possible with my range unit and depending on enemy type may not use my shield guy for attack but make them take a defensive stance instead.
From my observation, you can do very high morale damage doing a multiple kill chain, so softening as many enemy as possible then doing a multiple kill chain afterwards is better than just killing 1 or 2 unit per turn.
Thou if its a wizard or a hero doing a suicide thing, well I usually forgone the kill chain and just concentrate fire to kill the hero/wizard, because that too can demoralize the enemy greatly.