Human units for the most part are fragile and without much brute force, but they take advantage of carefully developed technology and magic, to bring foes to their knees.
In this guide there will be addressed the following topics:
Besides being the resource-gatherers and engineers of the race, peasants have two very useful abilities. (i) Call to Arms which allows you to use them as military troops and thus allowing you to creep big camps early on in the game (ii) Powerbuilding which allows your peasants to cooperate when raising buildings.
Though Footmen serve no real use late in the game, they are essential to the Human player’s early game. Being cheap and thus very expendable units they can be used in an attack against an Orc’s burrows or an Undead’s mining acolytes, without too much fear of losing a couple of them. With their researchable ability, Defend, they are great at battling units with piercing attack type, such as Archers, Crypt Fiends or even neutral Trolls.
Riflemen are arguably the rarest Human unit to see in competitive play. That said they most certainly aren’t useless. Paired with casters they are a good addition for more damage, if facing unarmoured units such as Dryads or Huntresses. They can also be used in early tier 2 pushes together with Priests. Riflemen are also good against air, but since Human has many other good anti-air tools, they are rarely used for this purpose.
Though Knights don’t have any fancy abilities, they have high mobility and a lot of armour. With their normal attacks they are very good against units with medium armour such as Crypt Fiends, Spell Breakers and Mountain Giants.
Priests are the backbone of many Human compositions. Covering up for the Human’s fragile units by healing them up, they allow to drag fights out so more damage can be dished out and eventually wearing the foe out.
I have talked to quite a few newcomers who have a hard time grasping why Sorceresses are such a powerful unit, since they have low damage, are unarmoured and doesn’t have a lot of HP. The trick up their sleeve is their first ability. Slow does not only lower the enemy’s movement speed, but also reduces their attack rate, thereby drastically using the damage output of the opponent.
Being the optimal anti-magic unit, Spell Breakers are a preferred frontline in many matchups. Being spell immune makes them hard to deal with properly and with Feedback they not only destroy the attacked unit’s mana, but also deal extra damage, which especially is powerful against Night Elf’s Druid of the Claw. Spell Steal is another great spell in their possession, that allows them to take positive buffs from enemies and apply them to friendly units, or take negative buffs from a friendly character and applying them to a nearby enemy.
Flying Machines are very weak on their own, but in masses they can destroy the air forces of an enemy rapidly with volleys of AoE attacks with the help of Flak Cannons. They are quite cheap to produce and are very fast to build (13 seconds). Producing a single Flying Machine to provide vision can also be very helpful due to their far vision range and high mobility. With their true sight they can also spot invisible units such as Blademaster and shades.
Mortar Teams are the bread and butter when it comes to raw damage in the Human army. Having long ranged siege damage they can be great at penetrating an enemy base with loads of towers. With fragmentation shards they can dismantle the enemy if they have unarmoured or medium armoured units, which especially proves itself useful against Night Elf’s Dryads.
Siege Engines are one of the most controversial units together with Blademaster. With high siege damage they can take down buildings very fast. They are often used against Undead and Night Elf since they have a very hard time stopping them (opposed to Orc who has raiders or Human with sorceresses). Siege Engines can be used as a tool to delay the opponent, forcing their army back to defend their main base so you can gather time to assemble your fighting army. Another use for Siege Engines is to mass a sizeable army of pure well-upgraded Siege Engines and then attacking the enemy base trying to eliminate every enemy building (or ‘just’ their means of gathering gold) and thus winning the game.
An unexpected army of Gryphon Riders can be absolutely devastating for the opponent. With air-borne mobility and high damage that can hit several units, Gryphon Riders can wreak a lot of havoc to the unexpecting opponent.
Dragonhawk Riders are the epitome of anti-air units. Using Aerial Shackles, Dragonhawk Rider has the possibility to render a mighty Chimera or Frost Wyrm useless and slowly drain the life out of them single-handedly.
Archmage is the most common first hero for Human players. Though he is the hero with the least hit points in the game, he can summon Water Elementals to deal damage on his behalf while keeping himself at a safe distance. The Archmage's aura is drastically ups the mana regeneration from all nearby allied units. This not only benefits himself and other heroes, but also especially Sorceresses and Priests. Blizzard is rarely used early on, since Water Elementals provides for great damage and great meat-shields allowing for very good creeping. Later on, however, Blizzard can shine after using a Tomb of Retraining. If you opponent has a big army level 3 Blizzard can deal humongous amounts of damage. This also works very well if you use Spell Breakers since they will not take damage from Blizzard due to their spell immunity. The Ultimate is arguably one of the strongest in the game. With a cooldown of only 20 seconds, the Archmage can teleport him and his nearby army to any friendly ground unit. This is very useful on large maps and gives an big mobility advantage.
Mountain King is the other prominent choice for a first hero pick among Human players. Though his creeping isn't as effective as the Archmage's he has several other advantages. In the early game he is very effective in securing a fast expansion. This is mainly due to his possibility to stun enemies with Storm Bolt and then surrounding them with footmen - therefor the opponent should always threat carefully around Mountain King. When reaching level 5 Mountain King gets level 3 Storm Bolt which is a super powerful ability. Not only does it stun the enemy, it is also the highest single-targeted damage spell in the game, making it great for focusing down squishy heroes.
Paladin is close to never seen as a first - or even second - hero choice, due to him being horrible at creeping or defending expansions early on. This does, however, not mean he's completely useless. Later on in the game he is often used as a third hero together with Archmage and Mountain King, where he can make great use of Holy Light to heal allied units. At this point the Archmage almost always have Brilliance Aura level 2, allowing Paladin to get a lot of healing done. A problem with third heroes is, that they often fall flat since they never get high levels if you have delayed your tech with making an expansion as often is the case. When reaching level 2 with Paladin you can get Divine Shield. This prevents the enemy from focus-firing down your weak link, so Paladin safely can protect other units in the army.
Bloodmage is also a very rare sight for a first hero, due to him being bad at creeping. That being said we have seen him on some occasions, where he's been used to make a fast expansion against Orc utilizing banish, or to get a fast level 3 to harass Human players with Flame Strike. Where we see Bloodmage shine the most is as a second hero, complementing Mountain King. One of the catches with playing Mountain King first is that you eventually run out of mana and will have a hard time regaining it. This is where Bloodmage come in handy. Right as you summon Bloodmage you can skill Siphon Mana to transfer his mana to Mountain King. You can regain the mana in fight, stealing it from the opponent which can be great against Shadow Hunter, Warden, Pandaren Brewmaster or an opposing Mountian King. The synergy with Mountain King doesn't even stop here. With Banish you can amplify the already high damage from Storm Bolts with 66%, making a level 3 Storm Bolt deal a whopping 581 damage!
This matchup can be played out in quite a few ways, so you have to be prepared to make fast transitions - hence it is also very important to keep scouting the opponent with footmen to see what he is up to.
The general idea - and most common playstyle - is to get t2 and go for Priests and Spell Breakers - primarily Spell Breakers. Human's have a tough time dealing with Spell Breakers since they don't have a lot normal damage against the medium armour.
After getting a sizeable army you want to get an expansion and play to get an economical advantage. After securing an expansion you can start looking into countering the opponents Spell Breaker army. There are two main ways to go about this: Knights with Inner Fire from Priests or Spell Breakers frontline and Mortar Teams with Fragmentation Shards to dish out damage from behind the vanguard.
The most common choice between the two is definitely going for Knights. This is due to Mortar Teams requiring Workshop(s), and you already have the Barracks for Knights.
If you transition into Knights and it is scouted by the opponent he might start building Gryphon Aviaries to get Gryphon Riders, that deals 200% damage to Knights due to their Magic attack-type. In this case the game often ends up being an aerial battle with Dragonhawk Riders to stop opposing Gryphon Riders and Gryphon Riders to deal with ground units. You can also go double Barracks and get a lot of Riflemen who counters Gryphon Riders. They are, however, not very mobile compared to the Gryphon Riders, so it is often easy to navigate the Gryphon Riders around and away from the Riflemen.
If you earlier in the game went for Mortar Teams and thus have Workshops and Refined Gunpoweder attack upgrades, you can also assemble an army of Flying Machines to eradicate the Gryphon Riders.
Fast tech into Aviaries
Another strategy is going directly for t3 without Sanctums, Workshops or expansion. Instead going directly into double Aviaries to start pumping out Gryphon Riders. If you keep him busy with your hero and footmen he might not even scout that you are not going for the normal caster strategy.
If your opponent has started with Mountain King, this strategy is especially effective, since he won't have Archmage or Water Elementals to deal damage to the Gryphon Riders.
The matchup against is Orc is somewhat simple as to explain, as it relies a lot on micro management.Normally your gameplan is to go for a one base t2 push with double Sanctum and mass summons from Archmage and Beastmaster.
The matchup is all about timed attacks from the Human's side. Early on in the game you don't want to pick a fight with Orc and you cannot afford going to the very late game either (unless you are playing with multiple bases). In the ideal scenario the game goes somewhat like this:
Now, as mentionedbefore, this is the perfect scenario. In most cases the Orc will not allow you to reach level 3 early on, as level 2 Water Elementals are a big pivot point in the matchup. More often than not you will experience that Blademaster harasses you a ton, right-clicking your Archmage to try and kill it. In this case you should not try and fight him, even though you have a hero and 3-4 footmen. Blademaster is simply too much stronger, and Archmage is the hero in the game with the lowest amount of Hit Points - so be carefull!
So; how do you play against Blademaster if he is this powerful? Well. . . An entire article could easily be written about this subject. It is not easy to deal with him, but there is definitely a few things than you can do.
Vs. Night Elf
Usually Human players goes for an expansion pre-t2 against Night Elf. After securing the expansion you can look to establish your own fighter-army. In most cases you can expect the Night Elf to go for Druid of the Claw and Dryads. Your first priority should be getting Arcane Sanctums up, in order for you to have Spell Breakers ready. Otherwise the Druids of the Claw is going to tramble over you in bearform.
To deal with the Dryads you can either go for riflemen or Mortar Teams with Fragmentation Shards. If you want to go for a push Riflemen are quite popular, but if you prefer going for a longer game and grabbing another expansion Mortar Teams are often the way to go, since their damage is immense against the Dryads once they get the Imbued Gunpowder upgrade together with Fragmentation Shards, of course.
One base t2 push
A strategy that is less favoured by the pro players, but definitely still a force to be reckoned with, is going for a t2 push with Riflemen, Priests and a couple of Sorceresses. The idea is to hit the Night Elf base before they reach Druid of the Claw Master training, which allows them to transform into bears which will be hard to deal with for you.
This is for many Human players the most dreaded matchup. You will in most scenarios want to go for a fast expansion to try and play for the long game. The Undead will have a tough time expanding successfully, since their expansion are very vulnerable. Therefor their gameplan is to make a push against your expansion, which you will have to defend.
Though many favour Archmage in the matchup, I find Mountain King to be the safest and most reliable choice of first hero. This is due to him being less vulnerable to the Undead Coil/Nova nuke and he can defend against Crypt Fiends very well due to Storm Bolt and surround with Footmen that has Defend upgraded.
What you fear in the matchup is the infamous Destroyer-push, where the Undead goes for a fast t3 while delaying your expansion as much as possible, and then gets a couple Destroyers and then attack your expansion.
To play against this there is a few things you should be looking to do:
If you manage to get up your expansion safely you will be in a good spot to close out the game. You can either start producing an army of well-upgraded Siege Engines, and then use them to demolish the enemy base.
Another possibility, which is seen a bit more frequent do to you being under a lot of pressure, is to assemble an army to defeat the enemy. Flying Machines are often the way to go when the opponent has several Destroyers. Dragonhawk Riders are not effective against the Destroyers since they are magic immune and thus cannot be targeted by Aerial Shackles.
To battle the ground units from the Undead (Crypt Fiends, heroes and in rare scenarios Abominations), the go-to unit is Knights.
First of; credit to ReZZeL for the pictures below that does a great job explaining the buildorders visually. ReZZeL has also made a Youtube playlist that covers the buildorders and other more un-orthodox buildorders.
Though it can be frustrating being bullied in the early game, I find that playing Human is a super interesting race to play. Having to deviate from your own gameplan in order to counter whatever the opponent throws at you makes the race very reactive, which for some is bothersome. It is, however, also an incredibly rewarding feeling to fend of all the opponent's attack and assembling an army to defeat the foe!
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