Heroes of Might and Magic III: The tutorial

(This is part of my journey playing through Heroes of Might and Magic III.  You can follow the entire series on the Nostalgia Lanes page.)

Homm3boxartBack in college in the 90s, the gaming circles that I ran in weren’t that concerned with online titles just yet.  Mostly it was either about sitting with a friend playing a console or gabbing about a shared computer game obsession.  X-Com, Master of Magic, Colonization, Jedi Knight II, TIE Fighter, Red Alert 2, and Caesar III were probably the most dominant PC titles for us.

But when I visited a longtime friend in Texas, I found that she was entranced with a different game: Heroes of Might and Magic III.  I hadn’t heard about this title or its prequels (or, really, the RPGs that it spun off of) before, but what I saw in her was pure addiction.  She craved this game like no other.  And a little of that rubbed off on me, although I never did have my own copy until I recently purchased it on GOG.com.

HoMMIII is a fantasy strategy game that plays like a board game.  You move your heroes (and their accompanying armies) around a detailed landscape, trying to accomplish as much as you can each turn.  You capture cities and resource nodes, discover all sorts of goodies, make decisions as you go along, and invariably get into combat.  The fights are played out on a tactical grid of sorts, although you can toggle it to auto-resolve if you don’t want to sit there for a half-hour moving each stack.

Out of all of the Heroes of Might and Magic, it seems that the third game was the most beloved and successful.  It certainly is chock-full of content, boasting so many campaigns and expansions that it would take hundreds of hours to do them all.

I was glad this tied for first place in the latest poll, because I’ve really wanted to dig into HoMMIIII and hadn’t done so since I purchased it.

So let’s get through the tutorial today!

tut1So here’s the opening screen.  In my opinion, older games that stuck to sprites, 2-D, or isometric views have fared a lot better than late-90s 3D titles.  The charm of HoMMIII to me has always been in its colorfully detailed game world, which you can see part of here.  On the right are options to flip it from the overworld to the underworld, to check in on how my cities (as resource/army building centers) are faring, how I’m equipping my hero, and the map.  On the bottom is a list of my resources.

tut2Nearby is my starter city.  The screen here gets more detailed (and cluttered) as you upgrade buildings.  It produces gold and soldiers per turn, although I think I have to send my hero back to actually grab those soldiers (they can defend the town but can’t move out on their own).

tut3So here’s an example of the choices that you get from encounters.  I find a chest that’ll give me either gold or XP for my hero.  I choose the gold.  Then my horse trots on to capture an ore pit and sawmill to increase my resource gains per day.  A fountain of youth gives me more movement turns for that day, which is welcome.

tut4This is another way to build up your army, through neutral buildings that allow you to recruit for money.  I snag seven griffins for the next game of Quidditch.

tut5Here’s my hero screen, which should be quite familiar to anyone who’s played an RPG.  There are basic stats and gear, although the most interesting part is the perk area on the left-hand side.  Each hero has several perks (and can gain more as he or she levels) that give specific advantages.

Haart and I dive into the underworld, which is like the “basement” of the top world screen.

tut6Not so much a “hint” as it is a “command,” but okay.

The combat here is pretty simple — you toggle the auto-attack and watch as your stacks mosey over to the enemy and dish out the damage.  In the case of this fight, it’s over before the enemy even gets a turn.  Man, I sweated bullets over it and everything!

The rest of the underground is just there to let you capture one of every type of resource node before heading back up to the surface.  When we get there, we find that it’s a smoking wasteland.  Are we in New Jersey now?  Nay, it’s just Infernal territory — one of the several factions in the game.

tut7After this long and oh-so-arduous journey, it’s time to tackle a city siege.  The tutorial graciously donates a few archangels to my cause.

tut8Yeah, this is such a one-sided fight it’s hilarious.  Archangels are like wrecking balls at this level.  We win the day and my hero gains two levels.  The town captured, we head out and build a ship to cross the ocean.

There isn’t much over there other than an enemy army, which we quickly dispatch.  Oh wait, there is something: an obelisk.  This gives me a “puzzle map” that shows me something is buried between two tree stumps near the start of the map.  So I trudge back and spend about six minutes trying to figure out how to dig because the tutorial apparently doesn’t think it needs to actually tell me this.  I find the command and discover a grail.  That ends the tutorial and prepares me for a full campaign, which I’ll start next time!

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5 thoughts on “Heroes of Might and Magic III: The tutorial

  1. Oohh, I once had such a passion for this game. I no longer have my own copy installed. I already have the itch to play again – I doubt I’ll be able to watch you play through without deciding to shell out the $10 at GOG. You should get a commission.

  2. The game would be so much better without the Hero trains.

    You see, individual units do not have movement, but heroes do. Let’s say your capital is at 0 miles (you’re right there) and your main army is 100 miles away. You want to get your units to your main army and your hero can move 10 squares. How many turns does it take?

    You probably think 10. Makes sense. But you can do it in one.

    Put a hero at every 10 mile mark (so 10, 20, 30, etc). Your hero at the capital moves to the 10 mile hero and transfers the units. Then the 10 mile hero moves to the 20 mile hero and transfers. And so on. This basically means that lone hero you see with 2 units can receive an entire army from literally across the entire map in one turn.

    The randomess of spells learned is also a pain in the rear.

    If those two things could be the fixed the game would be much better (if one side gets Wind Walk (gamebreaking) and the other side sets Summon Earth Elemental (bad) at their best spell…guess which side will probably win).

    That said, I’d be willing to play this online at some point if you want. Shoot me an email or something.

  3. HoMM3 is my very very first game! I used to sneaked to my friend’s house after school to play hotseat version. Very glad to see this =D

  4. Haha! Why does it feel like the world sees New Jersey similar to Mordor? Between the beaches, the Pinelands, and pretty much the entire south and northwest of the state, we have more than enough green in the Garden State. :)

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