Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Of Might and Magic

My post last month about my most influential games sparked a bit of a resurgence in Heroes of Might and Magic 3 around these parts. It started with me picking up a cheap copy and playing it with Zach over Thanksgiving break for a nostalgia-fest. Luke's interest was piqued watching us play, and over the past few weeks we have spent many nights playing Heroes 3.

Yesterday, I was doing a bit of research for Luke about how good some of the factions were, and I realized that I knew next to nothing about the way this game is actually played. This is weird for me, since whenever I start to play a game seriously, I spent hours researching and trying to learn as much as I could about the game's strategy and mechanics. But I never really did that with Heroes 3, and I don't think I'm going to. Sometimes its nice to play a game the way you want to play it. Being too competitive and/or learning a lot about a game can oftentimes ruin the game for you. For instance, its arguable that Smash Bros is more fun to play when all items and levels and are turned on and everything is chaotic, but I will never be able to play that way ever again. I just don't think I could do it knowing what I know now about that game.

Regardless, I wanted to share a few tips for playing this game which should work on any difficulty and any play style. Most of these are things I've picked up over the years of playing this game, and some of them are things I learned just yesterday when I stumbled onto some forums I shouldn't have.

1) One of the things I learned yesterday is that Might Heroes are better than Magic Heroes. I used to think it was the other way around but it makes sense to me now. Basically, the Magic primary skills (Spellpower and Knowledge) are less useful than the Might primary skills (Attack and Defense). The reason why is that Spellpower only matters if you are casting offensive spells, and a lot of the most useful spells in the game aren't directly offensive. In addition, Knowledge only gives you extra spell points, so you only really need a couple of points in Knowledge to be sufficient. Having something like a 14 Knowledge is overkill. You can easily get sufficient Knowledge and Spellpower by visiting all of the little map objects which boost your stats. In addition, Might secondary skills are way better than the Magic ones. I would take Offense, Archery, and Logistics over crap like Eagle Eye and Scholar any day. The only good Magic secondary skills are the Elemental Magic skills, and oftentimes Might Heroes have a high chance of getting a relevant one. The only downside to Might heroes is that they are a little bit worse in the early levels.

2) Speaking of Heroes, its important to build up two heroes. You need one for exploration/conquering and you need one for castle defense. I realize its hard to train two heroes at once, especially in the early game, but you'll thank me when someone tries to take your castle and you actually have a competent spellcaster able to defend it.

Good Ol Crazy Witch Lady

3) The easiest way to take mines early in the game is to play super defensive while fighting the neutral creature stacks. Oftentimes, the creatures guarding the mines are level 1 or 2 ground units, and its easy to just defend with all of your units and shoot them down/kill them with spells before they even get to you. If you have a decent spellcaster and a fast unit, you can 'kite' even powerful neutral creatures. 'Kiting' is when you get a slow creature to chase a fast creature around the map while you shoot the creature down with spells. Its slow, but its a very potent strategy.

Proper use to kiting took down 20 Behemoths with a single faerie.

4) The elemental magic skills are amazing. If you can learn one, always do it. With an expert magic skill, status effect spells like Haste and Slow affect every unit they can. Spells cost less, do more damage, are harder to dispel etc. The elemental magic skills are some of the best in the game (second only to Logistics maybe). Earth Magic is the best, since that school has so many useful spells. Mass Slow, Mass Stoneskin, Implosion, Meteor Shower, Town Portal, and Resurrection are its noteworthy spells.

5) Use Blind. Seriously, its one of the best spells in the game and its easy to get. You can win so many battles you have no right winning with some well placed Blind spells. On the other side of the spectrum, the computer loves this spell too, so always make sure your hero has Cure or Dispel to counter the effects of the Blind.

6) Use the Wait Command.  If you choose to wait with your fastest troops, they will have the last action of the round, so you can use this opportunity to dispel a blinded unit, or rush over to attack the now undefended archers, or attack a unit with no more retaliations. The wait command also makes it easier to do hit and run attacks. Proper use of the Wait command is pretty vital to strategic combat in this game.

Damn. Now I can't wait for Luke to come home to start a new map. Lulz.


  1. So what you're saying is ... don't immediately hire three heroes, fight everything you see, and try to take a second castle all within the first week?