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In all the Heroes games, the army stacks are placed on the tactical grid based upon which slot they occupy in the heroes' army. That is also true for Might and Magic: Heroes VI, but I am wondering exactly where on the tactical grid each slot maps to. Is it a one to one mapping or does the location on the tactical grid vary depending upon how many army stacks are in your army?

I thought that type of unit might be taken into consideration because early on in the tutorial campaign, the crossbowmen always occupy the first column (the one closest to your hero) while the other stacks are farther out on the map. However, when I obtained a number of upgraded crossbowmen, they did not occupy the first column, but instead were placed in the same column with the sentinels and priestesses, which has left me confused.

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The location on the grid varies at least with how many army stacks are in your army. – Raven Dreamer Oct 14 '11 at 15:02
up vote 18 down vote accepted

Okay, I spent several hours testing this. The answer is...disappointing.

It appears that units are placed according to the order that they entered your army. Their order in the city or hero screens do not matter. The only order that matters is the one you see when you right-click your hero -- for some reason the army there is displayed in insertion order.

The pattern is:

_ 5
_ _
_ 3
_ _
6 1
_ _
_ 2
_ _
_ 4
_ 7

That's it, until you add ranged units. Ranged units will step back one space if possible, swapping with a melee unit if it's there or pushing a ranged unit to the side. Oh and 7 jumps to the middle for no apparent reason.

Also note, reinforcing a unit does not reset it's position. So I could add 1, 2, 3, then put extra units on the first one added and it would still retain it's #1 position.

Okay, now the evidence.

First, I placed my units in order, from 1 to 7 like so:

enter image description here

In battle, I got the following pattern:

enter image description here

Simple enough, I thought. Next, I tried removing a few units, and got one of two expected outcomes:

enter image description here

Apparently it ignored empty spots and treated 1 _ 3 _ 5 _ 7 like it was 1 2 3 4.

I tried this in different fights, to make sure it wasn't enemy-dependent, and it seemed stable.

Then I decided to try multiple unit types, and things got weird:

enter image description here

Wha? That made no sense at all. I stumbled around for a bit, thinking maybe it was doing it based on unit strength or something, then made an important discovery: the right-click hero popup showed units in a seemingly random order (not the order I saw in the city or hero screens).

To confirm that it was the insertion order, I took all the units out and added them at random positions but in order from 1 to 7. The city screen looked random, but the right-click popup was in order:

enter image description here

enter image description here

Battle showed the expected pattern:

enter image description here

Great. I tried reversing the order and counting down from 7 to 1 and got the expected pattern.

I had previously noted that ranged units tended to move to the back, and so excluded them to avoid confusing the issue. Now I added them back in, and saw reasonable move-to-back behavior:

enter image description here

5 and 7 just moved back one step, and apparently 1 and 6 flipped but that seemed reasonable.

Then I tried all crossbowmen:

enter image description here

...I don't know what happened here, maybe someone else can decipher it. It looks like 2, 3, 4, and 5 did what I expected (normal position, but moved to the back). 1 and 6 got shuffled around a little, but they're more or less where they should be. But I can't explain how 7 got to the middle.

I suspect that what's really going on here is a simple algorithm that goes through the units and tries to place them on the board in a pseudo-spiral pattern. Unfortunately, it grabs the units in the order they were inserted, not the order they appear on the screen. As a programmer, that feels like a bug, not something someone did intentionally.

Now I'm going to go actually play the game, and try to forget that I ever learned this, because shuffling units in and out of cities just to get them inserted in the correct order seems like madness. I hope this helps someone.

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...why on earth would you ever keep more than one array of the hero's creatures? Nonetheless, +1, would upvote again. – Raven Dreamer Oct 15 '11 at 20:55
Awesome answer. However, I swear that in my first campaign game I had crossbowmen and marksmen and only the crossbowmen moved to the back row. I would have only had 4 stacks, so that might have had something to do with it. – au revoir Oct 17 '11 at 5:44
@Jason Yes, after posting this I got the Marksmen and you are correct: they stay in the front. I'll have to test a bit more with other ranged units. – David Fullerton Oct 17 '11 at 14:22
And after playing a bunch more, I've found even more oddities. For instance, the location of your creatures changes when you attack a fort / town versus when you fight on a regular map. – au revoir Nov 14 '11 at 21:46
@David The marksmen shoot all units in line, including friendlies so I can only imagine this is the reason for them appearing in the front row. – user17554 Jan 1 '12 at 10:39

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