Zombie differences not working quite as intended?


This is a question about game balance, something that I’ve realized while playing on Iron Crown. Due to varying sizes of gravesites depending on the race of the settlement, certain zombie armies are simply not playing to their intended strengths.

Currently with the way the game is, my ranking of zombie army strengths are as follows, and I will explain why I rank them this way further below:

Orcs (Strongest) 14 strength large pop (200-600)
Humans 12 strength large pop (200-600)
Dwarves 18 strength medium pop (200-300)
Trolls 20 strength small populations (50-150)
Elves 14 strength small populations (50-150)
Goblins (Weakest) 8 strength small-medium pop (100-200)

This seems like a mistake, as the slow speed of the Dwarves and Trolls necessitate they have the strongest armies to compensate. I recognize that each individual zombie is stronger, but the rate at which they spawn is much worse.

Because humans and orcs have such substantially larger population settlements, while the % chance to spawn a zombie is the same, the number of zombies exposed to that percentage is larger. This results in the humans and orcs reinforcing at 4 times the rate of Trolls. Dwarves fair better, as their normal settlements have the same population sizes, but still usually reinforce slower due to the 600 pop cities of the orcs and humans.

As for the faster zombies, this seems fine. Their only hope is to blitz quickly and capture (hopefully orc or human) settlements, but their speed makes them difficult to manage effectively. They produce the smallest strength armies of all the races. And the goblins, getting a bonus on both swamp and forest, make them more versatile.

Of course, it is entirely understandable if the intention is for certain zombie types to be simply unequivocally more dangerous than the others. If this is the case, then I pity the race that starts by an orc zombie. But I believe it would be more interesting if each zombie had its own strengths that made them a threat. In the case of the fast zombies, I think this is successful. But I believe the slow and medium races need to be looked at, as the slower races are more manageable and less dangerous.


Thanks for the feedback, good analysis!

Any suggestions for what we could do? I would rather not mess with their speed, because thats an important part of what makes them who they are, but I wonder if we could buff their strengths a little. Perhaps Dwarves could have a built in saving throw of something.

I’ve always wanted to go back and make some small change to each of the basic zombie types to make them more unique.

At one stage they were all going to have different move behaviour. Trolls would target armies, goblins would flee from the nearest army, dwarves wouldn’t come out of their mountains. That kind of thing.


Well the simplest fix would be to give them a powerful strength boost, wouldn’t it? For the trolls, their settlements are 4 times smaller than the orc equivalents, so a troll unit would have to be somewhere around 4 times stronger than an orc.
Which sounds insane! I know. Even that, I think, wouldn’t be enough because then they would just be equal in strength but still exceptionally slow.

The idea of making each zombie race unique beyond their basic stats sounds great, though, and while I argue a basic troll unit should still be stronger, giving them a bonus ability instead of flatly increasing their strength a tremendous amount would be really interesting!
Perhaps trolls can be somewhat resistant to magic/compulsion? Damage might be just as effective, but spells to pull them, stop them or repel them would be half as effective? Something about the single-mindedness or stubbornness of the troll race…
Perhaps goblins are “trickier” and will attack sooner if they see an unprotected settlement? Or maybe they even prioritize unprotected settlements? (This would make goblins terrifying)
Dwarves not leaving the mountains is trouble for obvious reasons (they never spread), but giving them armor would make them formidable against armies that utilize ranged attacks.

I’m just shooting out ideas, I haven’t thought them through much, but I will sleep on the idea of extra-special zombie traits!


I’ve been thinking about this for a bit. Here are some idea’s I came up with which should be relatively easy to implement.
I’ve tried to keep these abilities simple, while keeping them consistent with their mortal counterparts’ style and lore. They might be used as replacements or additions for the current ones.

1. Humans & Orcs
These guys like large numbers of soldiers, so I thought about combining that with some of their given lore:

  • Humans:
    Fluff: Call it a remnant of their devotion, herd instinct, or just a great belief in Bigger Is Better, but the greater their numbers, the stronger they get.
    Ability: For every X*100 Humans in a 1 league radius, the unit receives a +X combat buff. Would fire every 6 hours and last 6 hours. Could count only zombies, or both undead and living (or possibly ALL undead).
    Possible names: Crusade of the Fallen, Quantity is a Quality, Human Wave Tactics

  • Orcs
    Fluff: The Orcish warsongs once inspired them to great feats of battle, but the songs of these undead merely inspire horror and dread.
    Ability: For every X*100 Orc zombies in this stack, every living unit in a 1 league radius receives a -x combat debuff for 6 hours. Would fire every 6 hours. Orcs maybe suffer a greater penalty, or none at all.
    Possible names: Twisted chanting, Sounds from beyond the grave, Voices of the Fallen, The Eternal Musicians.

2. Dwarves & Trolls
These are more for compensating their greatest weakness (speed), or because i found it a neat idea lore- and gameplaywise.

  • Dwarves
    Fluff: Mountain knowledge, a love for tunneling and mining carts, or simply being really hardy and never hungry means these little guys can move through the mountains better than anyone.
    Ability: Undead dwarves can move through mountains as if they were roads, at top speed, and have their speed raised to 4 hours/league in the mountains
    Possible names: Masters of the Mountains, Underground highways, The fast way down, Who needs brakes anyway
    Fluff: Dwarves love riches. Gold, jewels, money, you name it. But they never have enough. The more gold a dwarf has, the more he wants.
    Ability: When a dwarven unit, alone or as part of a stack, blights a town, they will have the gold income of that town added to their combat power. So a town with a daily income of 150 would make that units power rise by 150. In the case of multiple dwarven units, it gets divided according to size.
    Possible names: Digging deeply and greedily, Modern dwarven banking, Golden armor, Buying power, MONEY MONEY MONEY
    Fluff: Dwarves like defending. It is basically their MO to stay in their forts, bomb the enemy and then let them run into their walls. Therefore, these zombies have learned to at least not just shamble at their enemy.
    Ability: Undead Dwarves gain a fortification bonus in a settlement (not sure how much). Possibly raised (doubled?) when it is a Dwarven settlement.
    Possible names: Walls of steel, You shall not pass, Dwarven engineering, Dead fortresses

  • Trolls
    Fluff: Trolls know the swamps better than anyone, and they are the only ones willing to go for a swim in them. Even in death.
    Ability: Like the dwarven one. Undead Trolls always move through swamps at full speed, and have it raised to 4 hours / league.
    Possible names: Swamp divers, Swamp knowledge
    Fluff: Trolls are the guardians of the grave. It would only make sense that they carry this duty into said graves. And out of them.
    Ability: For every x50 bodies at their location, Undead Trolls receive a +X combat modifier. Alternatively: every x10 bodies, but capped at 20. Or only troll bodies, with x*5.
    Possible names: Guardians beyond the grave, Duty in death, Wrath of the gravekeepers, The bodyguards

3. Elves & Goblins
These guys rely more on movement than combat strength, so their abilities would reflect that as well.

  • Elves
    Fluff: Elves are famously/notoriously hard to find when they don’t want to be found. Over time, the Elves have made this into a habit, a habit which they stick to even in death.
    Ability: When moving/not on a crossroads (depending on if you want stuns to affect this), an Elven Undead unit cannot be engaged in melee, but will simply move past any mortal units. Maybe can be engaged by Elves?
    Possible names: Forest wraiths, With cat-like tread, The leafy roads, Winds of death,

  • Goblins
    Fluff: Goblins are like insects, small and fast, everywhere yet hard to find, and suprisingly deadly. Because of their underhanded nature and tendency to live out in the sticks, they have learned to adapt to their situation at all times.
    Ability: Undead Goblins treat every movement as if it were on roads/move everywhere at full speed, depending on which is better balanced.
    Possible names: The back roads, With rat-like tread, Who needs roads anyway, Red 'unz go fasta!, Goblin versability


thanks @shde2e These are really great suggestions. I love your flavor and names suggestions as well as the mechanics. Makes for a fun read :slight_smile:

I’m not 100 sure just yet, but I’m more and more convinced we should do the work to make each zombie types more interesting before we launch on steam. The zombie bosses should be a lot more scary as well.

Again, thanks for taking the time to flesh out these ideas. Love it!


And thank you for making this great game! :smiley:


I would be all for the zomie’d races getting special powers. Maybe tie it to their settlements? I’m riffing here to give the Devs some more material to play with…

Trolls: Spawn Faster, but spawn two sets of identical units, one in the settlement and one at a random spot 2 leagues or less next to the spawning settlement. Fluff: The Trolls are fecund and tend to live outside of settlements. So, they have a tendancy to unexpectedly emerge from the dark corners of the land once corrupted.

Goblins: Each new goblin settlement steals 2 G from the player with the closest settlement. Fluff: The blight that infects the Goblins is also known to rot and rust metal.

Elves: Attacking blighted Elf settlements causes a POW*25 attack to ALL living units that assault it. Fluff: The blighted terrain that surrounds corrupted Elven settlements serves their will. Living armies must fight through bloodthirsty plants, hungry vines, and seeking thorns.

Orcs: A new blighted Orc settlement is bad news for all the nearby settlements. Each living settlement (player controlled and NPC) loses 2 population. Fluff: Even in death, Orc raiders seem to have an uncanny knack to get beyond pickets and sentries.

Humans: A new blighted human settlement changes all swamps and forest tiles in a two league range into blighted plains. Fluff: The land itself seems to succumb to the evil of immortal humans. The settlement sucks away the life energy from the region and kills all the trees around it.

Dwarves: Blighted Dwarf settlements spawn two sets of zombies. One at the settlement as normal and another population at the nearest mountain. Fluff: When corrupted, the Dwarves seem to crawl from the bones of the land to destroy the living.


I love all these zombie differentiation ideas. So much flavor, and so much bonus difficulty :laughing:

The idea of special events when towns fall to the Blight is wicked fun as well.


Hey, I’ve never thought of doing something interesting at each blighted town. Good ideas!


I’m hit or miss on many of these suggestions, but I do generally support some special ability for each race (beyond the terrain buff). I would prefer if the ability type didn’t remove a game mechanic, though I could handle it I suppose (I deal with the ironhide dwarven boss).

I also think some small event happening when a town becomes blighted could be a good idea.


I like the idea of settlements having special abilities, they would make for some interesting scenario’s :slight_smile:

Not so sure about the proposed abilities:

  • Humans: Not sure if it is possible to change the terrain type, and how much work this would be.

  • Goblins: Hard to balance this one. 2G is absolutely nothing, but if you take a significant amount of gold you risk putting the player in a situation where their gold keeps being drained while the zombies take more towns, and as a result they can’t muster enough troops to stop this snowballing effect. Maybe make it a percentage of their gold? Especially in the early game.Also, due to positioning most of the damage will be to one or two players.

  • Orcs: Like with the Goblins, balancing this is hard, since the number of settlements and individual size varies per map and race. Also, the zombies hurt themselves as well, since they cant raise the lost population anymore. Maybe change it to target a nearby settlement, and target the (neutral) defenders? Sort of the opposite of the elven one.

  • Trolls: Might work, but it would result in a lot of small stacks spawning all over the place. Meaning they would be easy pickings, or rapidly capture every settlement around (though being trolls would help with that). Also (for trolls and dwarves) could you spawn on top of settlements (probably not), or next to them?

Got nothing on the elven and dwarven ones. Having settlements which can help with defense would make matters interesting, and the dwarves have limited spawn points so that should help.