Heroes of Might and Magic III
From Before I Play
- It's not adviced to play the official HD remaster version of HoMM III as it lacks all expansion content. The original HoMM III Complete can be brought up to modern resolutions with a free HD patch (https://sites.google.com/site/heroes3hd/) which also adds a variety of useful tweaks such as hero/town reordering, re-attempting fights, and more.
- The official campaign order in release order goes Restoration of Erathia -> Armageddon's Blade -> Shadow of Death despite the campaign menu listing these in the opposite order.
- Save often and in multiple slots as the game autosaves at the end of each turn rather than the beginning. This is extra important in campaigns where you often have an essential hero who isn't allowed to lose or even flee from combat, meaning an autosave can leave them stuck in an unwinnable situation.
Early Game & Town Management
- Upgrading your Village/Town/City Hall into a Capitol should usually be your first priority for the income boost. Some exceptions exist though, for example Tower and Conflux benefit from upgrading their 1st level creature dwellings on day 1 as the upgraded versions of those creatures (Master Gremlins and Sprites respectively) are far more useful and make early fights much easier.
- Consider hiring a second hero from your town's Tavern on the first day. Not only can you add their starting troops to your main army, but you can use the secondary hero to pick up resources, transport troops, grab weekly creatures/resources and so forth while your main hero focuses on exploring and fighting enemies.
- A handful of heroes start with a powerful high-level spell at level 1, such as Tower's Solmyr (Chain Lightning), Dungeon's Jeddite (Resurrection) and Necropolis' Aislinn (Meteor Shower). These can be very advantageous all throughout the game. Some heroes also produce free gold or resources, making them useful secondary heroes even if they never fight a single battle.
- Marketplaces offer terrible value at the beginning but the more of them you own, the better the deals you get. Exchanging less useful resources for valuable ones even at bad rates can be worthwhile though, especially for building high-level creature dwellings early.
- The creature with the lowest Speed stat in a hero's army determines how many movement points that hero has available on the adventure map. Very slow creatures such as Walking Dead or Dwarves are best left home on long journeys.
- Certain terrains also cause movement penalties, namely Rough (25%), Sand (50%), Snow (50%) and Swamp (75%). The Pathfinding skill reduces or eliminates these penalties.
- Each creature also has "native" terrain on which they suffer no movement penalties, and they even gain a minor bonus in battles taking place on that terrain. For example an army consisting only of creatures from the swamp-dwelling Fortress town can move on Swamp terrain without suffering the normal 75% penalty to movement point costs.
- The Speed stat determines both movement distance AND turn order, making Slow arguably the best combat spell in the game despite being 1st level. A hero with Expert Earth Magic can cripple entire armies with a single cast of Slow.
- Otherwise devastating ranged units are very weak in melee unless they have the "No melee penalty" ability, so getting your melee units next to enemy ranged units is very important. Most ranged units also deal reduced damage from long range and when attacking from the outside of city walls
- AI heroes will usually try to run away when losing a fight, often with a "parting gift" in the form of a Lightning Bolt to your weakest stack. When your enemy is starting to be low on troops in a fight, do your best to wipe them out in a single assault that doesn't give them a chance to flee.
- A town with a Mage Guild will fully replenish the Spell Points of any hero who ends their turn there at the beginning of their next turn.
- Having Expert skill in a magic school often greatly amplifies the power of spells belonging to that school, most notably causing most status effects to apply to entire armies rather than individual units.
- In campaigns where your hero carries over from one scenario to the next, it's worth getting as many permanent attribute boosts and spells as possible before finishing the current scenario as they will carry over as well. Artifacts will not carry over, some plot-specific ones notwithstanding.
- Some secondary skills are more useful than others. The following is a rough order of usefulness, but it's by no means absolute as opinions vary and for example Archery's value depends entirely on how many ranged units you have.
- GREAT - Air Magic, Earth Magic, Logistics, Offense, Wisdom, Necromancy (Necropolis only)
- GOOD - Archery, Armorer, Intelligence, Water Magic, Diplomacy ("GREAT" if you get it very early, "BAD" if you get it very late)
- USEFUL - Luck, Tactics, Fire Magic (Jumps to "GREAT" if you have the Berserk spell)
- SITUATIONAL - Navigation (Only valuable on water-heavy maps), Pathfinding (Only valuable on maps with lots of harsh terrain), Leadership (+Morale sources are abundant but can be valuable if your army has creatures from many different factions)
- BAD - Artillery, Ballistics, Mysticism, Resistance, Scholar, Scouting, Sorcery, Estates ("USEFUL" on secondary non-combat heroes)
- TERRIBLE - Eagle Eye, First Aid, Learning
- Once you have good handle on the game and want to experience something new, the fan-made and free expansion Horn of the Abyss adds a new town, campaigns and many good balance/QoL improvements. In the Wake of Gods is another option for advanced players, adding huge amounts of customizable options that can alter practically all aspects of the game, often to imbalanced but entertaining results.