HOMM3 Guide - Castle

Capable fighters
Archangels' special

Shooters very weak on defense.

Army evaluation:
Pikemen 4/5/10/1-3/4/60
Halberdiers 6/5/10/2-3/5/75
Third best 1stlevel unit.

Archers 6/3/10/2-3/4/100
Marksmen 6/3/10/2-3/6/150, shoot twice
After upgrade, they can be pretty effective, considered their price.

Griffins 8/8/25/3-6/6/200, two retaliations
Royal Griffins 9/9/25/3-6/9/240, unlimited retaliations
Excellent anti-shooter army, one of the toughest 3rdlevels.

Swordsmen 10/12/35/6-9/5/300
Crusaders 12/12/35/7-10/6/400, extra attack
Those footmen are the real infantry - not only cannonfodder.

Monks 12/7/30/10-12/5/400
Zealots 12/10/30/10-12/7/450, no melee penalty
Way too costly, but quite needed second shooters.

Cavaliers 15/15/100/15-25/7/1000, jousting bonus
Champions 16/16/100/20-25/9/1200, jousting bonus
If given room for their jousting special, they're 2nd best 6thlevel troop.

Angels 20/20/200/50/12/3000 +1g, 150% against devils
Archangels 30/30/250/50/18/5000 +3g, 150% against devils, +1 morale, once per battle can resurrect allies
These holy guys are strong enough to speak for themselves...

Upgrading priorities:

  • Halberdiers: Low. Although used often, their performance isn't crucial.
  • Marksmen: Highest, both for speed bost and double shooting.
  • Royal Griffins: High, for the +3 speed.
  • Crusaders: High, increase in damage BY 120%
  • Zealost: Low, unless you won't have champions soon.
  • Champions: Higher for +18% damage and +2 speed.
  • Archangels: Top, although very costly. +50% damage, resurrect special and highest speed

Castle building in the first week:
Day 1:Town Hall2500g
Day 2:Archer's Tower1000g +5w +5o
Day 3:Blacksmith1000g +5w
Day 4:Barracks2000g + 5o
Day 5:Griffin Tower1000 g + 5o
Day 6a:Mage Guild2000g + 5w +5o
Day 7a:Monastery3000g + 5w + 5o + 2cgms
Day 6b:Stables2000g + 10w
Day 7b:Training Grounds5000g + 20w

Guardhouse as 1stlevel dwelling assumed present. If it's not present, we don't go for Monastery/Training Grounds and since we spare one day here, we can head for either Guardhouse or Town Hall.

There are, of course, alternatives - we don't need Griffins and Swordsmen to get Cavaliers. Or, if we're lucky, we can even go for Angels - Griffins are not needed, so the a) variant may get shortened and on 7th day, we can build the Portal of Glory. (Also, Town Hall can be left out to build Citadel instead, if we happen to have lots of gold and want to buy three angels instead of two.

Resource summary:
For a) variant, you'll need 20w, 25o and 12000g, which leaves us (20000 + 7000 - 13500) = 13500g for Day 1 to spend on troops. (And we'll need 17x200=3400 for griffins, 21x150=3150 for marksmen (along with another 1000 for their upgrade on day1), 10x300=3000 for swordsmen or 38x60=2280 for pikemen. That should be our forces in the second week, along with those that came with strating hero(es) - total 10000+).
For b) variant, you'll need 40w + 5o and 11000g.
So those two variants are costly about the same - one needs wood, while the other one needs ore. It's clear then, what will affect our decision. With the Training grounds, you should be able to recruit most of the cavaliers on the Day 1 along with marksmen and swordsmen.
You can try the 'minimal' variant that stops at griffins, but upgrades all the lower dwellings and recruits all. The build schedule would then be at day 5 citadel and later three upgrades (marksmen, royal griffins and crusaders). spent for upgrades. Total costs would be: 13000g 10w 35o 5c - and you could buy all troops at day1 - the only problem is ore, then.

Second week strategies:
I strongly suggest running for gold at this stage. That requires Blacksmith, Marketplace, MageGuild and CityHall - a total of 15w, 5o and 8500 gold, with Castle and Capitol later (15000g, 10w and 10o).
Unless you'll find huge amounts of wood, choose the minimal variant or a) variant, as those have lower wood consumption and therefore you can afford the CityHall in the second week. [The b) variant would need 50 wood in total - which means a sawmill captured on the first day of play or some extra wood.)

Troops cost weekly (with castle):
Without 7th level: 19580
With 7th level: 29580
With one castle producing 14000/week, two armies will be left at home... Usually it's pikemen and either zealots or griffins, depending on available numbers. Even with capitol at 28000/week, you'll need extra 2000/week to be able to buy out all troops.
HPs grown weekly: 1745 (plus 500 in archangels) at 11.22 g/HP (13.17)

Blacksmith: Produces Ballista war machines
Brotherhood of Sword: +2 morale (worth it, if you're likely to get attacked)
Lighthouse: Shipyard upgrade, acts like a regular lighthouse under your flag.
Stables: Visiting heroes gain movement bonus as at regular stables.
Resource silo: adds 1w and 1o per day. In long games worth it.
Griffin bastion: Increases growth of griffins by 3.

In your first week, either ore or wood will be crucial, based on which variant you choose in building. However, the wood will be crucial in week two for income increase. A sawmill should be obtained even at some cost in lost troops - you should have some 15 archers and 40-50 pikemen available, which is 600 HPs.
Be aggressive with your scouting, because on week two, you'll be building money generator and you should have at least three days' reserve for accumulating gold in case you'll need to buy all troops for castle defense - in many maps the enemy visits early and if you can't see him in time to prepare defenses, you'll end bad.

Forces combination:
You should be able do to without pikemen in battles - they're ideal troop for castle defenses - when an enemy comes near, buy all the pikemen that have been waiting here - they provide cheap, yet concentrated firepower that will last long, letting your castle towers deal the damage. Zealots might stand on their side, if you won't have them with you, but would only get killed quick, by magic, likely.
In the battles, your champions should provide the most offensive - use their jousting bonus and attack at full distance. Use marksmen to damage strong stacks and then champions to finish them. Crusaders should fend off anyone that goes after the archers, while griffins should take care of enemy shooters. Angels, of course, will have the task of binding enemy firepower and absorbing damage. It is good to have archangels splitted into two stacks to use their resurrecting special well. Note that you need three archangels to resurrect one fallen, so with stacks of 4 and 3 of them, you can have them resurrect each other.
A good offensive combination is Champions, ArchAngels and Zealots. This will leave your home with griffins, archers and pikemen, with crusaders being optional for both forces. And the secondary force could be plentiful due to all those towers and guardhouses often used in maps.
Try to split Archangels into more stacks - they can then use their resurrecting special more effectively. A typical situation is a castle siege, where you leave the enemy one last unit, suffer another round of castle fire on your zealots and then use one archangel stack to resurrect them, while the other will wipe out the last enemy unit, thus not giving the enemy hero a chance to cast an offensive spell. Remember that you'll have only one ressurection per archangel stack - and plan well.
If you manage to capture another Castle, try to focus on one or two troops and build massive numbers - marksmen, crusaders or even pikemen.
The pikemen that wait in home castle in reserve should be transferred to some castle in front lines to help you hold it.

Most Knights do well in battles, I'd suggest Valeska for Marksmen, Tyris for Champions and Tactics, Sorsha for Offense and Crusaders. Avoid Haart(Estates) and Sylvia(Navigation) unless needed (as secondary).
Among Clerics, useful are Adela (Bless, Diplomacy), Adelaide (Frost Ring), Loynis (Prayer!!! - it will compensate for low A/D), Rion (First Aid). Others aren't good, except for secondary (CuthBert and Caitlin generate gold).

Skills important for the troops and strategy:
Archery might be useful, if you have some archer towers or other Castle towns, or if you plan to use monks/zealots, but usually the hard work is done by champions, crusaders and griffins.
Offense is a must here, since your troops rely on dealing damage hand-to-hand mostly.
Armorer could prolong life of your griffins and crusaders, but there are better skills.
Ballistics is strongly recommended to get Crusaders and Champions inside, Artillery too, as heroes with high A/D can get a big bang from the Ballista.

Marksmen63102-36150 2.301.531841
Royal Griffins99253-692404.411.841775
Crusaders12 12357-1064009.352.34875
Zealots12103010-12745012.102.696 73
Archangels303025050-50 18500010022200