Golden Oldie - Heroes of Might and Magic III (Complete)
Updated: Mar 27
Our first edition of Golden Oldies is on Heroes of Might and Magic 3. Heroes 3 is a classic strategy game developed by New World Computing in 1999. Heroes 3 is one of my all time favorite turn-based strategy games. Choosing between 9 “towns” with 7 different unique monsters, players face off in an assortment of different scenarios. The different scenarios vary from all kinds of different objectives ranging from total conquest to killing a certain monster on the map.
As a player you control “heroes”, which as they gain experience increase their stats. The Heroes have 4 stats, Attack (increases the amount of damage your monsters do), Defense (decreases the amount of damage your monsters take), Power (increases the amount of damage your spells do), and Knowledge (increases the amount of spell points you have).Might and Magic are the two ways this game is played. Through the monsters you buy, and the spells you learn you begin your journey to complete the scenario.
Magic is a huge player in this game, almost as important as the monsters themselves. Getting a strong mages guild from your first town can make or break a scenario on expert difficulty for you. Spells like Fly, and Resurrect do as much for you as some Archangels can. Because of the huge influence Magic has, it’s my opinion that the castles with magic strength tend to be the strongest. I always tend to play Tower or Castle both of which have the availability of a 5th tier mages guild.
The Might comes from all the monsters your Town will produce. From Ancient Behemoths to Pixies your hero buys and orders the monsters around the battlefield against enemies. Each town has 7 tiers
of monsters to utilize. Each castle has their unique monsters with different abilities and stats. Certain Towns have monsters that are stronger than others. The Inferno Town unfortunately gets the short end of the stick in more ways than one. Most of their troops are inferior and their bonuses are really lame.
While at first glance this game doesn’t come off as being all too strategic but coupling the games combat with map navigation, and resource control against all the of the enemies it becomes a struggle to successfully win games on harder difficulties. Enemy Towns have a tendency to produce troops out of thin air, and have enough money to support a never ending supply of heroes.
The AI in Heroes loves to employ a strategy I’ve dubbed as “Mine Thieves.” They buy large amounts of heroes and send them around the map to steal empty castles, unguarded mines, and creature dwellings. This was a big hurdle for me to get over as a novice player. Division of troops and Hero management separates the good players from the great players. To combat mine thieves it’s imperative that you understand how to use your troops in battle and exactly how strong you are with magic, stats, and troop power combined. Once you understand all of that, you can safely divide your troops among many of your own heroes to conquer the onslaught of petty mine thefts sent to cripple you economically.
Several Towns are quite a bit stronger than others. The balancing wasn’t quite complete at the end of development and there are player made mods that combat this. Magic is exceptionally strong in the early and mid game but loses out in the late game (on large and extra-large maps) due to the sheer number of troops you start to possess. If you can’t use the magic wisely enough early you can actually end up losing to zounds of enemy troops.
Certain Towns are also quite inferior in mere troop power than others. Castle has exceptionally strong troops with Champions, Archangels, Gladiators, and Marksmen. Necropolis is outright banned in competitive play because of the overbearing power Necromancy has, and Stronghold unfortunately got dealt a shit hand with lack of magic and inferior troop power. Conflux the last DLC Town is also extremely strong and will be banned in most PvP games.
Players who have a favorite Town will always develop strategies for it and there really isn’t a clear winner in terms of strength but some like Conflux and Necropolis have advantages that can be severely abused. I wouldn’t worry about balance too much until you start to play against other players, if you find players to play against.
The campaign’s story isn’t anything magical but it’s enough to give reason to all the little scenarios you have to run through. The game suffers from the same problem that Civilization does, you always want to do just one more turn. If the game starts to get too easy start playing the weaker Towns like Inferno and Fortress, you’ll start reconsidering how good you really think you are.
Side note. A lot of seasoned players will rant about Fortress due to the power of the Dragonflies and Mighty Gorgons but I’ve always felt that between two players of equal skill the Fortress will lose out to most other Towns.
Unless you are a seasoned player you don’t have to worry about most of these nit-picky balance issues and can have a great time on normal difficulties. And once you become a veteran player you start to learn strategies to overcome them. In terms of strategy I feel that being at a disadvantage helps you become a better player as you have to learn to overcome that gap in numbers.
If you are playing on a monitor with a nice resolution download the Heroes 3 HD mod. Don’t bother with the HD version on Steam, it doesn’t have the expansion packs and the gameplay doesn’t feel right. Buy the complete version from CDProjekt Red’s GOG client, it’s $10 and then download the HD mod. The mod will make the game visually appealing enough and give several quality of life changes like a menu to select your Town and Hero from instead of clicking through one by one.
All in all, Heroes of Might and Magic 3 (Complete) is a fantastic old strategy game. It can be played on just about any computer (unless you’re using an E-Machine from 1995), and has a large amount of layers to it that become apparent as you become good at the game. It’s a perfect thought provoking way to spend an evening in my opinion.
We at Buck Naked hope you pick up and try this Golden Oldie, it’s worth it.