Timewarp Thursday: Heroes of Might and Magic

I remember a long time ago, I actually owned one of the Heroes of Might and Magic games when it was still considered new-ish. It might have been III… but I don’t recall exactly which one. I do remember enjoying it, though.

Now days, I think I own the whole series in some form or another on GoG.com. I decided it was time to start dabbling in the series to see what it has to offer. So, of course, I start with the very first one.

This plays rather well considering its age, though DOSbox forces full screen for a game that natively played at a much smaller resolution. On my larger monitor, the graphics aren’t bad for a 1995 game. They’re just super huge! Especially during the battle sequences.

So, this is a fairly traditional strategy game. You have one or more heroes. Each can lead up to 5 different races of troops.

You start out defending your home city, which generates new troops for your hero each week depending on the type of buildings constructed in the city. However, as I learned quickly, you must also leave some troops garrisoned in the city or risk it being auto-taken by the NPC opponents (oops). If they take all your cities and you don’t recover one within a certain timeframe, the game is over.

The start of the game I played, even though it was an easy campaign, was actually pretty tough. I couldn’t just outright send my first hero to take on the enemy encounters that were spread across the map on the first week. I learned I had to wait to build up my troops a little before trying to capture all the points of interest.

Once I started pumping out wolf packs, though, the game started to get pretty easy. I’d still lose troops from time to time, but I was mostly playing enemy encounters on Auto and letting the game hash it out for me.

It’s a shame that the game doesn’t determine when the enemy has no chance against you and just auto-wins without sitting through the battle. But I guess this is 1995. Also, there’s a certain satisfaction in creaming the opponents’ heroes after they keep flipping your mines and stuff.

As you win encounters, your hero also starts to level up. I even earned some pretty nice loot when I defeated the opponent hero once.

In more complex games with a larger map, I could see how having several heroes to protect captured cities would be useful. In this game, though, I mostly powered up just one hero (because I was still learning), and haven’t expanded my ranks that much since.

I spent about an hour and some change messing around with this scenario, though I didn’t actually complete it. I think I’m in a good position to push for a win if I want to, though.

This is one of those games that feels easy to pick up and learn, but probably has a lot more strategy once you get deeper into it. I didn’t look up any information about the game, nor did I play a tutorial, but I was still able to pick it up (once I realized I can’t just throw heroes at monster without beefing up their ranks first). It’s certainly nice to go back in time to a game with simple rules and straightforward gameplay.

I look forward to playing some of the rest of the series to see how it changed over time!