Well, well, if anyone have ever doubted that Dungeon is the strongest, toughest and the most vigorous town (if a cat has nine lives, then a Black Dragon has 400 of them!) of the Heroes world, then it is time to reconsiderand urgently.
In the new home of Heroes IV Dungeon maybe changed its name to Asylum, but it doesn't mean that it is place for weaklings. Half of the former population of Heroes III Dungeon (Black Dragons, Medusas and ever-loyal Minotaurs) succeed in passing through the portals to the new world and founded the new town Asylum.
On the new place, Asylum applied to the old ties, which went back to the ancient times of Heroes II and called Hydras back under the Chaos banners. Moreover, some tribes of neighbouring towns submitted their requests to become Asylum habitants and were graciously accepted. Thus, Efreets significantly increased the strength of the Asylum army. The last regular unit became filled by Nightmares, strange kind of mutant horses with powerful abilities.
Former Dungeon units of Troglodytes and Evil Eyes were severely decreased in their numbers during the flight from Antagarich (we all know that the 1st and 2nd level creatures are the first to die in the bravest efforts to shield more precious units). Therefore, they were excused from the regular enlistment and provided the status of neutrality to replenish their numbers. However, occasionally they have been used in the military service of Asylum as they kept their loyalty to former Dungeon Lords, who now organised in two classes of Sorcerers and Thieves with very complicated system of subclasses not known for outsiders.
All in all, Asylum became the powerful town with only one disadvantage in comparison with old Dungeon it lost very good shooting unit of Evil Eyes as the regular recruits. Another loss, in my opinion, is Manticores.
Let's look at each Asylum unit's features, beginning from the top.
They never change their inborn ability of 100% immunity to all forms of magic. If in the old world of Heroes III they were strong but still could meet powerful opposition of other creatures, for example Ancient Behemoths or dragons of other tribes Azure Dragons, etc.; in Heroes IV they undoubtedly became the strongest creatures of any town.
It seems that their cost was increased according to their new value. However, Black Dragons are worth every gold invested in them. All your expenses will be rewarded tenfold on the battlefield. Unit of only four Black Dragons crashes to dust 25 Faerie Dragons! Not bad, isn't it?
The only creatures that can give any kind of concern against Black Dragons are Sea Monsters. Those guys must be watched. Sea Monsters are holding neutral position but could be enlisted by the barbarian Stronghold as the loyal followers or by any other army, which would find common language with them. So, you must carefully treat Sea Monsters on the battlefield.
They have returned to Dungeon Lords after spending whole Heroes III in the swamp town, but their abilities didn't change. They are the same perfect defence unit. I wouldn't recommend them for using in attack
As you have a choice to build either Dragons or Hydras and Hydras are cheaper, my advice is not to be greedy and build Dragons. However, if there is a Hydra dwelling nearby, then flag it and recruit Hydras as excellent defenders of the town.
Here it is really the tough decision what unit you would choose to build. Both creatures Nightmare and Efreet are nearly of the same value, though differ in hit points and magical abilities.
Nevertheless, because of the game features, I would recommend Efreets and mainly not because they have fire shield ability but because they can fly and consequently can quickly penetrate the town walls when a siege is in progress. In addition they possess better defence level than Nightmares (23 against 20) and are very good in teamwork with Black Dragons. Dragons can firebreath everything moving around without any concern for damaging a partner as fire shield and fire resistance are enough protection for Efreets from the dragon fire when they are standing second on the Dragons' line of sight to the enemy unit.
They have the ability to send terror wave to the enemies, but it doesn't give them an advantage before Efreets in siege battles because of the line of sight game feature. The terror can influence only those enemy units that are standing at the line of sight of Nightmares. In siege combat when enemy is hidden behind the walls Nightmares' ability becomes useless and they could be used only as the usual attacking force. However, in ordinary battle Nightmares could help by sending this spell on the enemy and temporarily immobilising it.
Nevertheless, my recommendation for the 3rd level is Efreets.
Here is even more difficult choice than before. You got very unusual alternatives. Either you'll have the only serious shooting unit in the town Medusas or such excellent combat unit as Minotaurs.
Frankly, I am in loss what to advice here and didn't find the best solution even for myself yet.
Considering the first stages of a game when you have to fight on every step for the mines, resources, etc. shooters are more valuable, especially because most neutral stacks of creatures wondering the map and protecting everything that has at least marginal value have shooting units. With the initial speed of your creatures, it would be hard to stand against them without your own ranged attack. Otherwise, your army units could reach the enemy lines half depleted of its original size. In this sense, Medusas are needed.
However, it could always happen so that the enemy shooters will be covered from the line of sight and you Medusas will be unable to use their ranged attack.
In siege attacks, it isn't everything clear too, comparing to Heroes III rules. The attacking shooters can use the ranged attack only at those enemy units that are seen. Should the defended hide their units by moving them down from the raised platforms/towers or putting them on a distance from the walls, they immediately become unreachable to the attacking shooters.
What concerns Minotaurs. They have slow moving speed (6) and they have new amazing ability to block the attack. I noticed that this ability occurs approximately in 40-70% depending from the battle. This means that it could very well be that Minotaurs would reach the enemy lines with minimal losses, if any. In siege combats when the pure physics is essential for blasting the gates, the Minotaurs are very useful. It's worth mentioning that when you play against AI, Minotaurs is its first target, not the shooters.
Therefore, in choosing your 2nd level creatures it is completely your choice depending from your strategy and preferences. Of course, it is always good to have both these units in the army.
Here, on the contrary, everything is easy and simple. You build Orcs and Bandits.
Orcs are your shooters of the first level and unfortunately not very good ones. Very slow (4) and very low damage (1-3), especially on far targets. They could be called only the shooters for close-ranged attack. Even then, they are not very effective. Orcs could be more useful for your hero if he knows Combat skill on relatively high level. Unfortunately, this is nearly impossible to achieve in single scenarios, as it is simply not enough treasure chests to collect or wondering monsters to kill in order to gain necessary experience points for this second skill. Therefore, Orcs could be considered simply as a cannonmeat and/or a diversion to distract enemy attention from the main units.
They represent rather good army unit of the first level mainly because of their speed (7), especially on the first stages of gameplay. In pair with Medusas, they can work quite effectively.
In fact, if there is a dwelling with neutral aligned Evil Eyes anywhere nearby the town, then it is better to buy them than Orcs. In this case, Orcs can be left in the town as defending garrison for any occasion, when you're somewhere out exploring the neighbourhood for example. Evil Eyes are well recommended fighters even by remembering them from Heroes III. In Heroes IV, they are even more improved by the random magical ability that they successfully use on practice. Despite the fact that theirs week growth is only 6 creatures in comparison with 16 Orcs, Evil Eyes represent better investment, as 6 of them would kill 30 Orcs in battle.
My advice is to buy them immediately if you'd be lucky enough to stumble upon their dwelling, especially in the beginning of the game. Then patiently accumulate them in the town sparing for the future more tough battles.
Now about Magic
Asylum Chaos magic is the only magic school in the game that has serious attacking spells beginning from the spells of the 3rd level. The only question is the usual one how would you use what you have in battles. Here a lot depends from what type of town is standing on the opposite side of the battlefield. However, you must always remember that even the strongest destructive spell could be useless or only half-effective depending on the resistance abilities of your enemies and/or their ward-spells.
Hero Classes and Skills
Therefore, when choosing hero skills for learning you must have clear understanding how you want to develop this hero, as the mighty soldier or the magic adept. In any of these cases you better choose only Sorcerer hero and devote all your attention to him, as the alternative is Thief. Thief is useless in single scenarios and spending money and time for his improvement is just a waste of the both. On the contrary, in the campaigns Thief's abilities can be useful and a lot, consequently him having advantage before Sorcerer.