I loved strategy games when I was a teen, and one of my favourites was Heroes of Might and Magic. As with almost every other game, my interest waned as The Sims and then World of Warcraft came out (yes, I know, I have SO MANY cool games to catch up on! I’m trying). Most of my time with the HoMM series was in the second and third incarnations.
I got access to the latest beta build through EB Games Australia (@ebgamesAus), and thought this would be a good time to see how the game has changed from the late 90’s (HoMM3 was released 1999, with two expansions in 1999 and 2000). This is the first of a short series of posts on Heroes, my history playing it, the evolution of the game itself (from the perspective of someone who hasn’t played the last 3 adaptations of it), comparisons, and how the game itself plays (in beta).
If there are any errors in this post, my bad! It has been a long time since I played, and I haven’t even touched 4, 5, or 6. I did make an effort to research things, but feel free to comment where I went wrong!
Heroes of Might and Magic (now called Might and Magic: Heroes – I’m not sure why the name change, but I’ve been calling it HoMM for 20 years and I’m not stopping now) is a turn-based strategy game. You don’t really have a singular avatar, you are more of an invisible hand of a commander or leader who controls cities and various heroes. You also control the army units under each hero.
The main point of most maps is to defeat your enemy, which means taking over their cities (these are not built by your army, but pre-positioned on the map). If the enemy has heroes still out in the field, they have seven days to re-take a town before they are considered properly vanquished. There are a few other variations, but that’s the basics of the game. There is a campaign mode (with storyline) and stand-alone maps to play (these can be scenario maps with a basic sort of plot, randomly generated maps with no story, or in some games you can import maps others have created). You build up cities (each one is aligned to a specific theme/race) to create more units for your army and access more resources or build better defenses.
Heroes have their own statistics, level and skill-up systems too, which has been changed and added to over the series. Heroes usually have their own abilities or specialisations, or racial traits, but can be added to through learning (such as visiting a shrine for an additional statistic point, or learning a new ability). Heroes can also equip magical items which give them more abilities. Heroes themselves cannot fight, they need their army, but they can supplement their forces by using offensive or defensive magic. Their statistics, abilities and equipped items can also affect their units (such as having a high morale stat can randomly grant units a second attack).
The town styles have changed dramatically over the years, but all revolve around specific themes. You can own cities of different types and use different faction heroes/creatures, although you might have a primary city or faction (such as through campaign mode). The earlier games also used alignments, Good/Evil/Neutral, and also generally marked the types as either Magic/Magic – though this has changed throughout the series.
Heroes belong to factions as well, and both heroes and creatures can gain various bonuses (such as statistic bonuses for fighting on ‘native ground’ in HoMM 3) or penalties (such as the combination of creatures from different faction types causing low morale, which affects a creatures attack).
Knight/Castle/Haven is a Good/Might medieval type town, with peasants, knights, cavalry and paladins. Featured: HoMM 1-7
Sorceress/Rampart/Preserve/Sylvan is a Good/Magic town based around magical beings that are very connected to nature, such as elves, druids, and sprites. Featured: HoMM 1-5, 7
Inferno is an Evil/Magic town filled with demons and fire beasts of hell. Featured: HoMM 3, 5, 6
Barbarian/Stronghold is a Neutral/Might faction made up of goblins and orcs and featuring such creatures as cyclops and ogres. Featured: HoMM 1-4, 6, 7
Necropolis is an Evil/Magic town of undead creatures, including skeletons, vampires, wraiths. Featured: HoMM 2-7
Dungeon is an Evil faction that contains creatures such as medusa, minotaur, troglodytes. From Heroes 5, this faction became a home for Dark Elves but still included a few of the traditional monsters that were in HoMM 3. Featured: HoMM 3, 5-7
Wizard/Tower/Academy is a Good/Magic town filled with arcane magic, such as golems, mages, and genies. Featured: HoMM 2-5, 7
Warlock was a magic faction from HoMM 1 and 2 including centaurs, minotaurs, hydras and dragons. Minotaurs went to the Dungeon faction, while a wider variety of dragon was created for various town types (including the Bone Dragon of the Necropolis).
Fortress was a neutral town in HoMM3 which contained mostly reptile creatures, such as lizard men, basilisks, and hydras. Wyverns and basilisks went to the Stronghold.
Conflux was a neutral/magic town in HoMM 3 made up of various elemental creatures. Some of these went into the Preserve town in HoMM4.
Sanctuary from HoMM 6 seems to be generally the most unique, being based on Asian culture. The creatures are water-based, and thus have a good resistance to water magic.
Stay tuned for more exciting adventures of me blabbering on about how HoMM3 was awesome.