|Upkeep Cost||8 per turn|
|# of Figures||4|
|Melee Attack per figure||4|
|Defense per figure||3|
|Hit Points per figure||3|
+10% To HitStoning Touch -3
Cockatrices are a type of Fantastic Unit featured in Master of Magic. They belong to the Nature Realm, and may be summoned using a Summoning Spell of the same name. Although their attack stats are not impressive on their own, each attack made by this unit stands a very high chance of Petrifying its target, destroying it automatically. This makes Cockatrices very dangerous even to enemies that are much more powerful than themselves.
The Fantastic Unit
A Cockatrice is a bizarre abomination: It has the head of a rooster (or "cockerel") and the greenish reptilian body of a small dragon, complete with a pair of dragon-like wings.
Cockatrices are relatively weak in Melee, in terms of their combat stats. Each Cockatrice attacks with 4, and although they have a +10% To Hit bonus, this still only gives them an average of 1.6 points of Damage per figure with every attack. This puts them on par with low/mid-tier Normal Units produced regularly from Towns.
However, the true power of the Cockatrices comes from their exceptionally-powerful Stoning Touch ability. Whenever the unit engages in Melee combat with an enemy unit, the opponent must make as many Resistance checks at penalties of -3 as the Cockatrices unit has remaining figures (before Melee Damage is dealt). Each failed roll destroys one figure in the target unit, regardless of how healthy or strong it is!
Thus, a unit of Cockatrices can possibly take out significantly stronger targets, particularly Single-Figure Units. Only units with Stoning Immunity, Magic Immunity, or an effective Resistance score of 13+ are safe from this Touch Attack.
It should be noted however, that this ability only takes effect when Melee Damage is being dealt by the Cockatrices. Therefore, any units petrified by the effect will still be able to hurt the Cockatrices before dying, and opponents with First Strike, Breath-, Gaze-, or Thrown Attacks might prevent damage by killing one or more Cockatrice figures before they can attack.
Cockatrices are defensively weak – roughly on par with low/mid-tier Normal Units. Their Defense rating is only 3, and each Cockatrice has only 3, meaning that they can be destroyed fairly easily during combat.
Due to their low combat stats, Cockatrices rarely survive for a very long period of time, and may thus best serve as suicide troops attepmting to petrify the strongest enemy units. Almost any opponent with less than 13 stands at least some chance of being turned to stone and removed from the battle, thus fulfilling the Cockatrices' objective. The creatures themselves are often destroyed in such attempts though, because the effect occurs simultaneously with Melee combat – the Cockatrices still suffer damage from the enemy's Counter Attack, if any, even if it was petrified during the attack.
Cockatrices occasionally appear as neutral monsters, mostly in mid-level Encounter Zones. They may also appear as support units for much larger creatures of Nature. Any battle against one or more units of Cockatrices is dangerous, and may result in the loss of Heroes or other strong units due to failing their Resistance rolls against the powerful Stoning Touch attack.
Units with higher Resistance values or Stoning Immunity are recommended in such situations. Masses of low-tier units can also be thrown at Cockatrices since their defensive stats are quite low – but these units will probably be destroyed in the process. The Common Resist Magic and Resist Elements spells can also be useful, as can Heroes with the Prayermaster ability.
+10% To Hit
- This unit has an extra 10% chance to hit its target with every die of its Attack Rolls. This improves its statistical chance to inflict more Damage with each attack it makes.
Stoning Touch -3
- Whenever this unit makes a Melee Attack or Counter Attack against an enemy target, it first delivers a Stoning Damage Touch Attack.
- The target unit must make one Resistance roll at a penalty of -3 per Cockatrice figure; for each failure, one figure in the target unit is destroyed immediately.
- This is a Touch Attack, which means it takes place simultaneously with combat. Therefore, any figures that are destroyed by this power will still be able to deal their Melee Damage.
- This effect does nothing against targets possessing the Stoning Immunity ability.
- Reducing the Melee Strength of the Cockatrices to 0 disables this attack.
The Summoning Spell
Cockatrices may only be cast overland, for the base Casting Cost of 275. Upon successfully casting the spell, the new Cockatrices unit will appear in the Town currently containing the Wizard's Summoning Circle, with full Movement Allowance, and may move and/or attack immediately as necessary.
To keep the Cockatrices in play, its controller is required to pay an Upkeep Cost of 8 per turn. This is drawn automatically from the caster's Mana pool at the beginning of each turn while the unit exists. Failure to pay this Upkeep due to lack of Mana will lead to the Cockatrices immediately disappearing, along with any Unit Enchantments currently affecting it. However, this upkeep is for the unit, not for the spell: Summoning Spells can not be dispelled by the enemy once cast.
Naturally though, if the unit is destroyed, then it is gone from the world entirely, and there is no further need to pay its Upkeep Cost. Units summoned on the overland map may also be dismissed manually from their unit statistics window the same way as any other overland unit (during their controller's turn, while not in combat).
As an Uncommon Spell of the Nature Realm, Cockatrices may become available to any Wizard who acquires at least 1 Spellbook. With none, the spell can naturally not be learned during the campaign. This is the minimum requirement for it to be traded for, appear in Treasure, or be found in the spoils of victory when conquering the Fortress of a rival Wizard who already knows it.
The base chance for Cockatrices to be researchable (at some point) in the campaign is roughly 10% (with 1 book), which gradually increases with the amount of Nature Spellbooks possessed or found during gameplay. With 8 or more, the spell is certain to show up sooner or later, unless acquired from another source. It has a Research Cost of 620, although its research is quicker for Wizards possessing the Sage Master, Conjurer, and/or Nature Mastery Retorts; or a bookshelf containing 8 or more.
Cockatrices may also be selected as a starting spell by players who allocate all of of their picks into Nature books when creating their Wizard. In this case, it will be available for casting as soon as the game begins.