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Heroes of Might & Magic III: Worth a first visit or a revisit

Hello Patient Gamers,

I quite enjoy this sub. You find a mix of semi-recent hits discussed and some really old games worth revisiting. Whether I play them or not, I always enjoy the perspective and what people have to say about them. With that said, I'll dive into HoMMIII.

Overview: I'll be turning 40 in 2021 and played a lot of Heroes of Might & Magic 2 when I was in my late teens and early 20s. I was living with college roommates, partying, having fun but would often take an entire afternoon to sit down and play HoMM2 and get lost in the strategy.

HoMM series is a turned based strategy game developed by New World Computing. It had a sole 'main' creator ala Sid Meier who focused on much of the programming and overall vision of the game with a small team backing him in development.

The series follows the same general playstyle for each campaign. You start with a hero or a selection of generals and a hero and your mission is typically to destroy and own all castles in a region. Other missions might include 'capture or defeat monster/hero within 6 months' or 'capture this artifact'.

Playstyle: Players can choose campaign, PvP or skirmish modes. Most of my experience has been playing through the campaign over a several week period. You are either given a choice or assigned one of 8 human factions, each with their own style of castle and creatures that can be built up and deployed with your hero.

Creature types vary from faction to faction, but follow a fairly general path (level 1 creatures are weak, level 2 slightly better, all the way up to level 5 'elite' creatures).

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Castle types are also built up in a similar manner but with certain unique twists. For instance, certain factions might have more warrior based heros vs magic based. Certain factions are able to build up magic/spell towers at lower cost and higher efficiency to give them access to wider and greater spells whereas a barbarian race will have less magic available but stronger attack/defense assigned to various troops.

Often, a hero is placed on a map with a single starting castle. You are in a fog of war with surrounding areas covered by darkness and you must explore outward with your hero or by 'hiring' additional heros/generals to assist you with exploration and resource gathering.

Maps contain dozens of 'mines' that must be flagged to produce a particular resource at a specific interval for each game day. Many of these mines are guarded by wandering creatures, which require defeat to flag the resource. Much of the early decisions can involve on what to focus on. Do you try to flag resources? Rush the enemy castle to take away their resources? Spend resources to hire more generals to explore the world and gather 'one time' resources before your enemy?

Outside of exploration, you have a very fun battle phase that is presented as a tiled battlefield. Creatures take turns in order of their speed stat that contains amount of movement they have on the tiled map as well as the turn in which they go in comparison to other monsters.

Creatures are a mix of ranged, slow melee and fast melee with your hero casting spells that either directly attack and damage enemy units or give your units valuable buffs, like haste to speed their overall movement.

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Units are represented with troop 'numbers'. Often, attacking first gives quite an advantage as you have full troop strength. When you attack an enemy, often they will get a counterattack, calculated after their own troop loss. For instance, if you have 200 gargoyles attacking 200 gargoyles, you'll attack at full 200 strength, take them down to 150 and they will counter with the reduced strength of their stack. Making a key battle tactic focusing around turn order and ensuring you can reach the enemy in a turn or keeping them from reaching you.

Graphics: The game is relatively charming and is brightly colored with good animations for creature attack and movement and a very pretty overview map of the world. A lot of the lore is borrowed from Dungeons & Dragons and other high fantasy mythology. Creatures are a mix of D&D style (Beholders, for instance) or standard fantasy creatures like Titans.

Somewhat recently, a HD remaster came out for the game that looks quite pretty, but is relatively expensive and only offers the base HoMMIII game with none of the expansions.

I played through this version and ended up buying the complete package from GoG for 2.49. For me, the 'old' pixelated graphics are more charming and an overall better experience. There is no need to pay much more for graphics updates, in my opinion.

Overall: If you like turn based strategy and being able to take your time between turns and second screen movies/tv or listen to podcasts while you game, I think you will enjoy HoMMIII. The 3rd iteration of the series took the perfect mix of complexity and simplicity to make a robust game that isn't overly complicated while still retaining a great deal of strategy and thought to your moves and decisions.

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The AI is fairly good for being so old and you'll find them making smarter moves than you thought possible for such an old system. Overall, I'd recommend giving it a try or revisiting it.


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