The counter system of Warcraft III has been further refined in TFT. Air units in general counter melee, ranged and siege units, melee units in general counter ranged, caster and siege units, ranged units in general counter air units and caster units, and siege units in general counter caster units. Caster units aren't the counter to anything per se, but their abilities allow them to either support other units greatly, or to be the counter to something. For example priests are the counter to summons, and thus certain heroes.
Units, Buildings & Heroes
- Spell Breaker
They are one of the best counters to casters and heroes in the game. They are Melee-units which aren't exactly THAT strong, but their abilities are where they pwn: They can steal buffs from enemy units. That means if some orc plans to build bloodlust against you, build a few Spell Breakers and the bloodlust is yours. Their second ability is to burn mana with each attack. This ability burns 20 mana from all enemy units, and 4 mana from all enemy heroes. Additionally to that the amount of mana burned is dealt as damage to the enemy unit, which means that all units and heroes with mana die very fast when they are attacked by Spell Breakers. Their third ability is their spell immunity. This alone would qualify them as perfect anti casters, but they have one more ability: Control Magic. This ability has to be researched on Tier 3 in the Arcane Sanctum, thus making it rarely used, but should your enemy use summons, it will give you a huge advantage. This ability allows you to take over your enemies summons to your side. But the mana costs are huge - you will have to pay up to half the HP of the enemy unit as mana. (precisely it's 45%) But against certain summons with low hp (healing ward) this ability pwnz.
- Human: Use footmen, use knights, or get the fragmentation shards upgrade for your mortar teams. Dragonhawk riders and towers can work too but will take forever to kill them.
- Night Elves: Use huntresses or druids of the claw. If you go with druids of the claw spam roar to avoid feedback damage and don't use rejuvenation in battle or the breakers will easily turn it against you.
- Undead: Ghouls and abominations both work wonders, I'd lean slightly towards the former thought just because of higher speed and cheaper cost.
- Orc: Grunts are good and tauren are totally own them. Wyverns can also be effective.
- Dragonhawk Rider
This is one of the strongest anti-air units in the game. That is because the dragonhawks ability to "shackle" enemy air units. This makes the enemy unit immovable for 40 seconds, and during that period deals a large amount of damage to the unit. The damage is enough to kill almost any air units in the game within the 40 seconds. However your Dragonhawk can not receive any new orders while he is shackling another unit, and the effect will stop if the dragonhawk is killed before the enemy is dead. (or if he is ensnared, or hexed, or stunned, or sleeped etc... The usual spells that stop a channelling spell) The other ability of the dragonhawk is great against enemy bases: Cloud. You have to research this ability first in your Gryphon Aviary. This ability allows you to disable all enemy towers within a large area. Two Dragonhawks are often enough to disable all burrows of an orc player. While this effect lasts the Dragonhawk can not receive any other orders, so you have to kill the buildings with other units.
- Human: Flying machines and riflemen will obliterate them, your own dragonhawks can work too if you have superior numbers. Arcane towers will mean instant annihilation if they don't have cloud yet or their mana is too low to use it, but don't depend on them because all it takes is one cloud to make them useless.
- Night Elf: Use archers or enough hippogryphs to overwhlem them.
- Undead: Use crypt fiends with web or enough gargoyles to overwhelm them.
- Orcs: Use headhunters or raiders ensnare.
- Arcane Tower
A Defensive tower that can be obtain by transforming from Scout Tower. This tower does ranged piercing attack to enemy unit and it also drain the units mana in the process. This tower perfect for guarding your peasants from skeleton attacks or hero harassment, and can also be used to sometimes reveal portions of the map.
Siege weapon or mass attack from any unit with medium or heavy armor will be fine since the tower does only 7-10 damage on most units
- Blood Mage
- Bloodmage: Intelligence-based hero. Attacks land/air units (Ranged)
- Firestrike: Deals explosive fire damage in target area, then deals additional burn damage in affected area. Higher levels increase damage
- Banish: Target unit/Hero becomes ethereal (reduced speed, cannot be physically attacked, takes additional damage from spells) for period of time (reduced for Heroes). Higher levels increase length of effect.
- Becomes good combination with offensive spells such as Firestrike/Blizzard and Stormbolt
- Siphon Mana: Drains mana of target enemy unit. Higher levels increase amount of mana drained per second.
- Able to gain mana over MP maximum, excess mana will eventually be lost.
- Phoenix: (Ultimate) Summons flying Phoenix to attack. Phoenix deals magic damage and periodically drops feathers dealing burning damage. Continuously loses HP, reverts to egg form at 0 HP, ressurects after period of time (though destroying the egg effectively "kills" the Phoenix)
- Can be healed by Paladin's Holy Light
- Reducing health to 0 in Phoenix form only reverts to egg, the egg must be destroyed to truly kill the Phoenix
- Scroll of Regeneration: This item is so very useful, that a shop should be built for it alone. With this item you can heal all of your units in a short amount of time. It can not be used in battle.
- Lesser clarity potion: The other item that you will buy all the time from your shop. It regenerates the mana of your heroes. Doesn't work in battle, too.
- Mechanical Critter: This item creates a critter for you which you can use to scout. It is... well... pretty much useless... You could in theory use it to position it next to a possible expansion of the enemy, but the sightradius is so small... Humans have got better possibilities for scouting. The other possible use is to use it for mass teleportation when you archmage reach lvl 6.
- Potion of Healing: This item heals 250 hitpoints for a hero instantly. Useful in emergencies.
- Potion of Mana: This item heals 150 mana for a hero instantly. Sometimes useful.
- Ivory Tower: This item builds a scout tower anywhere you want almost instantly. This is really useful because you don't have to wait for the towers to finish. It doesn't even cost more than a normal tower.
- Town Portal: You should buy this in case you use the one you start with.
- Staff of Sanctuary: This item allows you to teleport a unit back to your home town instantly, where it has to stay until it is healed. Very useful in battles, because your units can fight to the very last moment, and you don't have to retreat them. However the cooldown is rather large, but you can pass the item around from hero to hero to get around this. And even though it's quite expensive it's almost always worth it.
- Orb of Fire: Adds +5 to the heroes damage, and makes his attacks do area of effect damage. Also allows him to attack air. You might consider buying this especially for the last effect.
- Shadow Hunter: Intelligence-based hero. Attacks land and air units (Ranged)
- Healing Wave: Heals a unit, and then heals other nearby friendly units in succession for less health.
- Hex:Turns an enemy unit into an animal. The unit retains its hit points, but loses all attacks and spells.
- Serpent Ward: Summons an immobile serpentine ward to attack enemies. Serpent Ward is immune to magic and has ranged attack.
- Big Bad Voodoo: (Ultimate) Makes all nearby friendly units invulnerable, but does not make Shadow Hunter invulnerable. Spell must be maintained.
- Faerie Dragon
The Faerie Dragon is an anti-caster unit designed to counter spell casters, and can also work well against certain types of combat units. Its main ability, mana flare can be used to damage units that are casting spells, making it useful against spellcasters and heroes. Its spell immunity also makes it invulernable to negative spells and magic damage, making it hold up well against units dependent on those things like destroyers and sorceresses. Phase shift also allows it to dodge attacks, and coupled with its fast movement speed and the fact that it is flying makes faerie dragons very hard to kill. The only big disadvantages are that its damage is pretty low and against physical attacks and abilities that hit air units, faerie dragons don't hold up so well, so watch out for things like gargoyles, riflemen, and raiders with ensnare.
Destroyers are officially anti-caster units but they can be effective against many types of targets. Their orb of annihilation spell with its magic attack boost and splash means total destruction against non spell immune units with heavy armor, light armor, or low HP like heavy air, melee, and workers. Their devour magic consumes buffs and summoned unit's health over an area of effect and turns both into mana and health for the destroyer, keeping them alive and allowing them to continue casting orb of annihilation, making them great against summon spells and buffs. Their spell immunity makes them immune to spells and magic damage, meaning anything with a magic attack can't touch them. And their absorb mana also takes a lot of mana from a friendly unit giving the orb plenty of energy. With these on your side nothing stands a chance...well except for the stuff listed below.
- Human: Use siege engines with barrage or guard towers with masonry upgrades. Flying machines are excellent if the destroyers don't have much mana for orb but otherwise they're screwed. Riflemen are also decent and can be more readily available than the others.
- Night Elf: Dryads totally own destroyers better than any unit in the game. Archers and hippogryphs are great at dishing out damage but not the best for taking it, while faerie dragons are the other way around. Ancient protectors in bases can help too.
- Orc: Use watch towers, orc burrows, raiders's ensnare, bat rider's unstable concoction, berserkers, or headhunters. None of those are great but all are can work, and berserkers and towers are probably the best overall while headhunters and burrows are probably the weakest.
Neutral Heroes & Mercenaries
At the beginning his spawns are very powerful and he is also a good choice for an Early Game Tower Rush as Human against Orc for example.