) Strategy/fantasy computer game series, based on the Might & Magic
role-playing computer game series, all by New World Computing
HMM3: The Restoration of Erathia
- HMM2: The Succession Wars
Establishes the storyline of good Prince Roland (Knight) vs. evil Prince Archibald (Warlock).
HMM3 adds more monsters, spells, artifacts, terrain types, all moats deal damage in seige combats, rebalanced unit stats, and improves scripting capabilities for homebrew scenarios.
HMM3 Expansion: The Shadow of Death
Sort of a prequel to Restoration of Erathia. Adds "combination artifacts". Includes a full-blown Campaign Editor, building on the Map Editor. The featured campaign alternates between two rival factions: the necromancer Sandro, and the four heroes he manipulates and must ultimately face in the final scenario. See below for a more complete review.
HMM3 Expansion: Armageddon's Blade
Adds the Elemental Conflux town type, Elementalist spellcaster and Planeswalker fighter-type character classes.
Heroes Chronicles: The adaptibility of the HMM3 engine resulted in a 4-volume series of campaigns starring Tarnum, the Eternal Champion, and two additional downloadable Tarnum campaigns that were free, but only worked if you had the requisite number of store-bought Tarnum products installed. In each game the hero Tarnum is a different character class.
- Warlords of the Wastelands - Tarnum reclaims his original homeland in his incarnation as a Barbarian warlord. (8 scenarios)
- Conquest of the Underworld - When the former King's very soul is stolen from paradise, Tarnum takes on the role of a Knight to help Queen Alison reclaim it from the clutches of an alliance of Demons and Necromancers. (8 scenarios)
- Masters of the Elements - Tarnum overcomes his aversion to Magic to take war to the Elemental Lords in his incarnation as an Elementalist.
- Clash of the Dragons - In the guise of a Ranger, Tarnum challenges the schemes of the Dragon Queen Mutare.
- The World Tree - In the short (5 scenarios) downloadable "bonus" campaigns, Tarnum reprises his Barbarian role as he faces the necromancer minion legions of the demigod Vorr.
- The Fiery Moon - A another 5-scenario "bonus" and sequel to The World Tree, Tarnum continues his Barbarian incarnation to pursue Vorr to the demon world.
- Revolt of the Beastmasters - In his Beastmater incarnation, Tarnum leads the rejected swamp creatures of Erathia to a (swampy) promised land of freedom. (8 scenarios)
- The Sword of Frost - Tarnum takes on the thankless duties of a Dungeon Overlord to halt the mad quest of Gelu (the elven archer hero in Shadow of Death), who seeks to destroy the legendary sword of the title. (8 scenarios)
Sandro is the necromancer badass of HMM3: Shadow of Death. In the early scenarios, play is from the perspective of the four heroes (Gem, Gelu, Crag Hack, and Yog), each of whom Sandro tricks into collecting some of the various artifacts that, when combined, make the Armor of the Damned and the Cloak of the Undead King. Once this series of scenarios is complete, the focus of play shifts to Sandro himself, complete with his newly-assembled combo artifacts.
While the early "good guy" scenarios are challenging and interesting enough, Sandro totally steals the show. The Armor of the Damned curses every opponent monster stack in every battle Sandro fights, giving him a fighting chance where he would otherwise get his ass whupped. The Cloak of the Undead King boosts Sandro's Necromancy skill, and at Advanced or Expert levels, raises Wights or Liches rather than the usual Skeletons, from enemy dead after each battle. While heroes in other scenarios are often hemmed in by monsters until they get a town up to production, Sandro is building an army with every fight he picks.
I prefer to play the easiest difficulty level; for the Sandro-centric scenarios, this is not especially challenging given his artifact advantages. By contrast, some of the non-Sandro scenarios (particularly with Yog and Gelu, who are retarded with respect to magic) are fiendishly difficult. Each scenario imposes a level maximum, increasing throughout the course of the campaign. Beyond 15th level, there is rarely enough experience (in the form of monsters to fight, power-up locations, etc.) to hit the limit.
The endgame is disappointing: one would expect a showdown between the level 30+ "good guy" heroes and the (by this point) monstrous Sandro. In a tactical suicide, however, the designers blocked Sandro in his castle for the final scenario, obviating the power of the Cloak of the Undead King and leaving Sandro a sitting duck. The next-to-last scenario is, oddly, much more challenging than the final one.
In HMM4, skills and spells are again expanded. Heroes may now learn up to 16 different skills, at 4 levels of expertise. There is a "career path" of prerequisites for higher-level skills, and learning the right combination of skills to certain levels of expertise opens the bonus abilities of "prestige classes" associated with each basic hero class.
Creatures and heroes may travel the map unaccompanied. Heroes are now represented as creatures on the battlefield, and multiple heroes may travel together (with or without creature stacks) as a single band. The hero-as-creature design brings with it a new class of skills which provide bonuses to the hero's personal combat capabilities, in addition to the familiar skill set that benefits all followers. One-use potions and scrolls, and charged wands, add to the list of magic items a hero may use; they may be accessed from the spell menu.
The number of different creatures seems to have decreased, and there are no "upgraded" creature types (e.g. the ghost dragon upgrade from bone dragon, etc.) Many creatures remain essentially the same from previous the version (e.g. the cerberus creature, which attacks multiple opponents simultaneously), but there are also several new creatures (e.g. venom spawn, sea monster, leprechaun).
The town structure build list has also become more convoluted; as in previous versions, there are prerequisites to build most creature generators, but now building one prerequisite often bars you from building one of the two next-level dwellings. For example, in the Haven town type, your Level 2 alternatives are squires and crossbowmen; if you build the Squire's Guild, you can't build the Archery Range, and you're locked into the path of level 3 Guardhouse (produces pikemen), level 4 Monastery (monks), level 5 Knight's Chapter (champions). If you built the Archery Range you'd be locked into the path of Ballista Works (ballista), Barracks (crusaders), Altar of Light (angels).
Combo artifacts didn't make the leap from HMM3 to 4. The Catapult, Ballista (now a creature), and Healing Tent are also absent from the battlefield. Map graphics are more detailed, but animation and sounds are often choppy (WinXP Home on a 1.2GHz AMD, 256MB RAM, NVidia Riva TNT2 with 32MB video memory - possible bottleneck at the CD drive).
The campaign scenarios tell the story of (*yawn*) yet another succession war. I've only just started it, but I think it's fair to assume that there will be additional expansions to capitalize on this iteration of the product cycle.
This marketing approach appeared to work just fine for NWC, and I'm looking forward to a series of short, cheap stand-alone campaign packs for HMM4, rather than long pricey major expansions.