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TBS Heroes of Might&Magic series: user-made maps and campaigns

octavius

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Thought I'd start a new thread instead of cluttering up the "What games are you wasting time on?" thread.

I'll post some of my older reviews below.

Feel free to contribute reviews yourself, especially if you like some of the more obscure maps.
 

octavius

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Unleashing the Bloodthirsty by Andrew Tanzi

One of the legendary HoMM 3 maps, this is an XL map of epic proportions and difficulty, and only recommended for hardened veterans. It will rip storyfags several new butt holes in which to be sore.

It follows in the tradition of the classic Lord of War, with a premade hero and most of the creatures and many of their dwellings appearing by timed events, the ones for creatures repeating.

It is mostly linear, having to defeat specific heroes, or offering specific items or creatures to quest guards to progress, and for most of the map you'll control only two heroes.

So the map maker has gone out of his way to control the flow of the map. On the plus side it provides a constant high level of challenge. On the minus side it means it's not very re-playable. There are at least three different versions of the map, though, the main difference being the army composition of the main baddie.

Story wise, there isn't much. It's all about decisive victories against superior enemies. You can't afford pyrrhic victories since the next fight will be even harder.
The various factions are based on different national stereotypes, which may offend the sensible (to good taste or for just being sensible). The Fortress heroes and cities have French names, the Towers German, the Rampart Italian and so forth. There's also some silly humour thrown in, but on the flip side the serious writing is not bad and even better: it's concise.

My main criticism against this map is that it's a bit unfair and you are forced to cheese it, and even do some meta gaming. For example the first enemy you have to defeat can only be realistically beaten if you defend behind walls, since otherwise he will cast Expert Haste and 55 Chaos Hydras will decimate your army.

I found myself using tactics I've never used before, like:
Using Dwarven Treasuries, don't buy troops unless you really need them, and if Month of Plague reload and then buy as much troop as possible. Normally I buy all troops I can on day 7 and accept Plague if it happens.
Parking a stack before the castle gates when attacking a castle to prevent sallying forth.
Casting Earth Quake when defending to destroy own turrets that wake up Blinded enemies.
Using Sacrifice on expendable stacks and Cloned Arch Angels for more mana efficient Resurrection.

Overall a terrific map, but probably one you should "save to last", since I fear most maps will be rather an anti-climax after this one.

Some tips:
The end goal is to have one huge stack of Ancient Behemoths. It needs to be supported by at least one big stack of expendable creatures for the Sacrifice spell.

If there is a Month of Creature, let all the friendly stacks grow. In the end you could have several thousand Gremlins and Goblins join you which make excellent Sacrifice fodder to bring back the ABs.

Don't visit Trees of Knowledge before facing the Dragon Master. Those last few levels may be critical to push up your stats enough. You need 99 ATT for one Quest Guard, for example.
 
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octavius

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HoMM 3 campaigns:

Not very many worthwhile ones have been made compared to single maps, despite making them not requiring extra skills. These are the ones I've played:


Unification of Rife by Rife aka Ivan Gabriel Resto

First map, playing the Wizard Rife who is searching for a nice present (an artifact) for his sister Sari, is extremely slow if playing on Impossible since you start with no Fort, but since there are no opposing players there's no rush (except to try to get a good score).

Second map is a rather small strategic battle map.
You have one ally (Lance) and play as Sari, against two enemy players. The enemies are not allied, though, so they never posed much of a threat.

Third map is bigger and more ambitious, and you start with Sari and Lance imprisoned, and their friend Kyllian who was killed and returned as an undead, have to rescue them. Very nice map, but could be better "scripted". At one point you are sailing down a river and can land on the north or south shore. On the south shore is a very powerful enemy hero (I lost on two tries, but could probably defeat him with very heavy losses), so I landed on the north shore and defeated the weaker heroes there. But events suggest you are supposed to land on the south shore and rescue Lance, and in the end I never did that, and the map ended seven days after I conquered all enemy castles. But still a good map despite its premature ending.

The fourth map is an XL map and very ambitious, with lots of quests (some of them very involved), quest guards, border garrisons (some which you can never pass), some huge monster stacks (like a stack of Fairy Dragons having grown 20% each week to a couple of hundred), and epic battles. There's also some C&C where you can use some artifacts to open more than one quest guard.
In many ways the best HoMM 3 map I ever played and it (Conflict of Destiny) is also available as a stand-alone map, and with a WOG version (or just played with WOG?).
Unfortunately it didn't end when I defeated Dragonrife, nor when his faction (Red) disbanded. I checked the editor and the victory condition is clear, so I'm not sure what's causing this. And the remaining player (Green) is located in an isolated pocket (no Dimension Door in the entire campaign), so not possible to defeat all enemies.

All in all much more exciting than the vanilla campaigns, and you even keep most of your troops (but no artifacts). Rife and Sari didn't keep their lvl 5 and 6 troops, though, and Kyllian only kept three of his stacks, but they were the core of his army (Skeletons, Vampire Lords and Power Liches), while Lance kept all his troops.

Diplomacy is a very useful skill on the last map.



When Death came to Nathana by King Roesisch

Quite good, and certainly more enjoyable than the main RoE campaign and the Heroes Chronicles.

Three very different maps.

The first one I actually lost on Impossible, when Gelu with overwhelming forces broke though one of three Quest Guards (needed lots of resources) between my territory and the enemy.

The second map was the most interesting and potentially the best one with lots of interesting places to explore, but the story line was very hard to follow, and there was a bit too much use of forest mazes.

The third map was the most strategic one, with lots of one way teleporters, and with a satisfying final battle.

Overall a good campaign, where you start with Diplomacy which may or may not be a plus, depending on your taste. On the downside the writing was crude and vulgar (non-English speaker), but fortunately not too much of it.



Eternal Love by Hans C.

Pretty good, and quite educational. I learnt some new tricks during the eight maps, thanks partly due to high difficulty, and partly due to maps to a degree being designed to facilitate uncommon tactics.

For example the first map you fill up your hero's spell book by using the Eagle Eye skill. This hero also is expert Scholar and will teach heroes in the next map.

There's also instances where Hypnotize actually becomes the opposite of the most useless spell.
I also learnt that Magic Elementals for some reason can't hurt Efreet Sultans at all.

And against legions of dragons, 3000 Azure Dragons being the biggest battle, one really learns to appreciate the Force Field spell and Ammo Carts.

The storyline is also quite involved, but sadly the writing is pretty bad. If you can't write well, please make it brief. Verbosity and bad fan fiction level of writing is not a good combo. The Heroes Chronicles really set a bad example in that regard.

The individual maps are not as pretty as the best single player maps, and there is a tendency towards symmetry and repeating of themes (especially using Water walk to reach stuff) that gives most of the maps a certain multi-player feel. But overall they are pretty good, especially the two last ones but one, which are Extra Large maps with some epic battles.

The main hero starts with Wisdom, Intelligence and Archery, and it is suggested in-game you choose all four magic skills, leaving only one slot, and the obvious choice is of course Logistics, which leaves out Tactics.
Personally I think Tactics is too useful, especially when your primary hero is an Archery specialist, your tertiary is Gelu, and you need to protect those glass cannon Sharpshooters. And there are lots of battles against huge stacks of Dragons where you really need to position your units before casting Force Field. And you cast only one spell each round anyway, so I went with Earth as the most obvious one (Resurrect is crucial to avoid too much attrition), Fire Magic for Expert Berserker, and Air Magic for Haste and Precision, leaving out Water Magic. Expert Forgetfulness would have been useful a few times, and Mass Bless, Prayer and Cure (but several Blinded stacks can be cured with a painful Death Ripple spell), and Expert Clone, is of course nice, but not crucial [he said, before playing Unleashing the Bloodthirsty].
So I think I made the right choice.

Anyway, highly recommended campaign, if you want something more challenging than the lame Chronicles.
 

octavius

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There were three great map makers for HoMM 2.

The first one was Greg Schneider.
His maps were made before the introduction of border guards, so they are all open and dynamic, usually featuring some Big Baddie that you hope will turn his attention of some of the weaker AI players first.
He gave up map making partly due to not being able to do all he wanted with the editor and partly because of the time consumption. Too bad; it would have been interesting to see what he could have done with the more powerful HoMM 3 editor and the campaign editor.

Dead Dragons was his masterpiece and is one of my two favourite HoMM 2 maps.
You start as a Warlock in the middle of the map with no ability to get Hydras and Dragons since all Sulfur has disappeared from the land.
Very detailed map, and very exciting to explore and to see which AI player visits first. Sometimes they get Dimension Door which really make things interesting, and it can be hard surviving that stage.

Grim Reaper is also an excellent map which is open and dynamic and exciting to explore, which like Dead Dragons was deemed worthy of inclusion on HoMM 2 Gold. You can choose between several factions. For a real challenge choose the Knight, since he's closest to Big Baddie. The most logical "default" and safest choice is probably to play the Wizard, since he starts on an island. I played the Sorceress myself and really enjoyed this map.

Clash of Titans. Don't remember any details now except I'm pretty sure it is similar to Grim Reaper with one AI Big Baddie and several factions for the player to choose. In my notes I wrote "Very strategic map and long game."

Two Mages was also a map I liked, but don't remember much about. I think you start with a fixed position. My notes say "Necro starts with Diplomacy instead of Necromancy. Hard choices: use gold to build up XP?"

Giant Warlord. Quite good, but too easy. Enemies had unrecruited Titans and Dragons. I think you start with a fixed position.

Some of his maps were very hard indeed:

Good Knight. My notes say "Very hard indeed. Retry om easier difficulty? Beat main hero on Hard". Main hero is very mobile and has a strong army, while your own hero is slow, so it's quite frustrating seeing the enemy gobble up XP and resources.

Catfight. My notes say "Surrounded by powerful enemies + events that take away resources = not very fun." Four Sorceress players IIRC.

IIRC all of these maps are Large or XL.
 
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octavius

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The second great map maker for HoMM 2 was Charles Watkins, who continued his career as map maker with HoMM 3.

Sinbad! "Excellent quest map with lots of messages. Diplomacy and Navigation important."


Ghost Planet. By many considered the best ever user made map for HoMM 2.

It's definitely one of the best user made maps I've played, and it would be absolute perfect for a co-op game with two friends. I played all three positions myself and finished with a Titan rating. I usually finish with a Black Dragon rating, since I play on Impossible and try to finish as quickly as possible (I love how the HoMM games reward you for that), but I overestimated the strength of the enemy players, and I regret spending too much time visiting stat boosting sites instead of just pushing forward. Several enemy castles has huge stacks of Bone Dragons that never came into play because the leader had starting trash units in the front line.:( This is of course a general problem with HoMM 2 and not with the map, and fortunately it got fixed in HoMM 3.
And as usual Dimension Door can break a map, another HoMM 2 problem that IIRC was fixed in HoMM 3 where you could disallow spells from the editor.

This is a very strategic and nonlinear map with excellent writing, and it took me several days to complete it. There's lots of interesting places to explore, but sometimes events are not optimally placed, because the player took a slightly different route than expected, missing the event with one square.
Overall a great map, though.

There's also some C&C: to use Ghosts or not. Personally I have a No Ghosts policy. But my best hero had about 3K Skeletons at the end.

Incidentally it's interesting that like Age of Wonders: Shadow Magic, many of the very best user made maps are designed for co-op play.


Colossal Caverns.
"Masterpiece".

I posted this in the Screenshots thread:
t9gEafL.png


Too bad I didn't write a review of it, 'cause now my memory is fuzzy. But it's an XL map which is very detailed, complex and fun, and one of my two favourite HoMM 2 maps (not nearly so many great maps for 2 as for 3).
 

eXalted

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Great thread. Will share some of my old short reviews here too (most of them recommended by octavius) .

The Imp
This was a very good S map. Provided some fair challenge. Really liked the "1 unicorn vs 1 titan and 1 dread knight" battle. Surrendered during the last battle and thus teleported myself to the castle and won. Then I saw that this is not the intended way to win and I tried the battle couple more times until I win.

Bug Hunt
A very weird map. Sci-fi theme poured all over the Heroes 3 fantasy world. Didn't like it that much. I can fight only so much flies before I get bored.

Fairy Tale
Another very good S map. Nice fairy atmosphere and Snow White lore. Was pretty surprised by how much content there was on such a small map. Fights provided a good challenge until I got the Fire Wall spell. Didn't know what to do with that released from prison Sharpshooter - he died two battles later. The final fight was pretty hard too.

Gremlins & Titans
I'm really starting to waste time with this one because it is beyond my HoMM3 skills. It's that guy's first map but he sure can play a thousand times better than me because I'm stuck 10 minutes in.

Sentinel Recognition
Managed to beat it on the 3rd try. This time the enemy hero managed to come near my castle. Unfortunately for him, in front of the gates is an event that killed him. Pretty fun story and interesting concept with the wives of both brothers locked in the middle of the map.

Amaranth Soul Shift
Adventurous feel, dynamic enemies and some interesting and funny events. . The event descriptions really give a good flavor to the whole adventure. Kinda didn't like the endless spawn of enemies but I really enjoyed it.

Redbeak's Revenge
I was a little overwhelmed at the beginning (I don't like starting with multiple castles). I was thinking that I wouldn't like this map but slowly it really grew on me. Didn't have much plot but was a very good map anyway.

Corruption
No way I am able to beat this map. On the 3rd month, a hero named Avatar starts strolling around the map evaporating everything (thanks to his 100 titans) and I just can't collect an army big enough to escape through that portal and take the final castle.

Hail to The King
Another fan-made Heroes III scenario. Very linear but doesn't matter. I enjoyed the good story and straightforward no-bullshit writing.

Titanic Pride
Now I see why this map is so recommended. I can't imagine the thoughts and time spent on creating this. The way the zones open and the episodes progress, the behavior of the AI (having in mind that Heroes III doesn't support AI scripting), the unique gameplay for each of the heroes and at the same time the openness and freedom it gives you. Beaten it on Impossible after the 3rd try. Definitely one of my favorites.
 
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octavius

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I will.
But gathering my reviews and comments about the third of the great HoMM 2 map makers - Timothy Duncan - I discovered I had overlooked a map called The Cabal, which I'm currently playing. It was weird getting back to HoMM 2, but it's a fun map so far.
 

eXalted

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I will.
But gathering my reviews and comments about the third of the great HoMM 2 map makers - Timothy Duncan - I discovered I had overlooked a map called The Cabal, which I'm currently playing. It was weird getting back to HoMM 2, but it's a fun map so far.
Sorry if spamming the thread but - could you recommend where should someone (like me) who never played HoMM2 start from?
 
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octavius

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Well, the main campaigns are the natural starting point. Playing as Roland is "canon".
The HoMM 2 campaigns are better than the HoMM 3 ones, but the user made content for HoMM 3 is better.
 

octavius

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Third of the great HoMM 2 map makers was Timothy Duncan who like Charles Watkins continued his map making career with HoMM 3.


Last Hope campaign.
Don't remember much of it now, except the map THUNK was pretty good, but my notes say "Nice, but too much re-use of same themes. Last map was unnecessary anticlimax."
Of course it's not a real campaign, since the HoMM2 editor did not support it.


Agent of Heaven campaign
The two first maps were rather bland. But the extreme story faggotry got so bad I couldn't play more of this. This would also be a problem with some of Duncan's HoMM 3 maps.


The Cabal.
You play an Undead avenger who must find the Orb of Negation which will enable you to defeat the Knights and their legions of Crusaders.
A rather story driven map, with lots of text about how you character feels and how he treats his mount (Mr. Bones) and his Zombie servant.
But it's still quite an epic map. For most of the time the map is static, with static enemy heroes and the others safely behind border guards. But once you activate a certain hero, the Crusader legions will break through, and your only hope is to amass an army of Ghosts. You don't need to defeat the Knights, and with Town Portal you can avoid the toughest ones, but you do need enough Ghosts to be able to defeat this army:
XrPtpIn.jpg
In the end I didn't bother. I don't like using Ghosts, and besides it was also the winning strategy in Nosferatu, which was a superior map.
There was also a bug; a Knight (a Necro turned traitor) hero named DarkSword was supposed to be camping outside a Wizard castle, and you are instructed to read a journal entry after defeating him. But he wasn't there.


Nosferatu.
Very nice, very strategic, ridicilously hard final battle. Need to use Ghosts, which I'm not a fan of.
I posted this is the Screenshots thread:
Final fight in Nosferatu, a masterpiece of a user made map for HoMM 2.
Possibly the most epic HoMM 2 fight I've played so far, and I had to use a dirty trick (Ghosts) to win. 7K Vampires and 4k Skeletons was just not enough.
After farming whatever stacks were left on the map, I had 4500 Ghosts and the Skeleton stack had increased to 11K. The skellies ended up not being able to breach the walls, though. Mirror Image was of course the key spell in this fight.
There was supposed to be a Legion of Halflings for the Ghost to feed on, but the enemy wisely swapped them with half a dozen Boars instead.

WzkTZ47.png

Starfire
There is a HoMM 2 map called Starfire made by Timothy Duncan, who also made Nosferatu and THUNK. It takes place on CRON 300 years after the events in MM2.
The map is absolutely brutal. On first try I was harassed by a Knight hero with 13 in Defense, but managed to repulse him. When he returned I had the Paralyze spell and a bigger army. He had one big stack and two small ones, but he also he had the anti-Paralyze artifact.
So I tried to run past him to his home castle instead, but ran afoul of a Warlock with 15 Spell Power and Chain Lightning...which is pretty much the worst thing a fresh Knight army can face.

On second try I tried a different position (there are four Knight positions, corresponding to the castles in MM2) and lowered difficulty to Expert, but surrounded by Swamp, and with no ore and no mines, and nearest town defended by Dragons, it soon became an uphill struggle.

Anyone played this map?
 
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octavius

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Other HoMM2 maps worthy of mention.

I guess Phil McCrum, Grayson Towler and Aleksei Andrievski could also be counted among the great HoMM 2 map makers, providing five maps each for HoMM 2 Gold.


Phil McCrum was AKA as the Astral Wizard, running the main HoMM web site back in the days, and having a Wizard in HoMM 3 (Astral) named after him.

Dungeon Below.
Nice map. But Leadership was needed to pick up Staff up Wizardry.

Go Ask Alice.
Interesting and gimmicky, and ultimately too easy.

Riddle Me This.
Too large and symmetrical. Too hard riddles.


I liked Grayson Taylor's maps better, even if they were designed for hot-seat.

Betrayal.
Nice, epic map for hot seat.

Gates of Hell.
Alliance map. Play hotseat. Very good, but main enemies "tucked away".

Plains of Aekon.
Large and detailed, but too symmetrical and too easy. Best for multi-player.

Slayer Legacy.
Rather too easy. Static AI heroes. Too much gold + expert Diplomacy = WIN

Road Home
Too easy with 255 Phoenix + DD. DD screws up events.


By Aleksei Andrievski:

Clouds of Xeen.
Very nice and strategic. War too early with not enough stuff by neutrals picked up.

Wizard's Land 1-3.
Very nice little maps, but follow the same formula.



Eric R. Hutchins also had a number of good maps:

Satan's Den 1-3.
1: Fun, linear map. Much attrition in the beginning, due to Sprites and enemy Wizards, but once you get Titans things get too easy.
2: Open, but somewhat dull.
3: Linear, but fun. Rather too easy for its Expert rating.

Lightbringer 1.
Nice quest map.

Lightbringer 2.
Excellent map, with three different characters. Reminds me a bit of of the Pride maps for HoMM 3.

Lightbringer 3.
Nice map with three "paths", but too easy.

Necromantic 1+2.
Nice maps.
1: Ghosts make it too easy. Without may be too hard?
2: Open map, but still very linear due to barriers.


From various map makers:

Run Jason, Run!
Quite good. Not quite finished it; extremely tough last fight.

Hero's Realm.
Nice solid conventional map

!
You play as Conan and has to win within six months or so.
Very good map, but also very difficult due to the time limit. Apparantly the map maker misunderstood how the time limits work and the player should have had another month. So I lost on Impossible.

Hobbit.
Very nice. Strategic. Bad spelling/grammar, though.

Bad to the Bone.
Quite good, but rather linear.

Quest to See.
Nice, strategic map, but final enemy far too easy.

Evil Attacks!
Very dynamic combat map, with lots of defending and in-fighting in the beginning.

Dark Seas.
Nice strategic, nautical map with powerful spellcasters.

Olga.
Fun map, but enemies too timid. Lots of artefacts.

Desert Tribes.
Very nice map, but a bit easy

Sands of Time.
Very nice, story driven map, but very linear.

Dry Years.
Very nice map. Nice layout, rather linear, powerful enemies, quite few artefacts.

Usurper.
Nice story driven map. Static enemies.


And the most brutal HoMM 2 map I played:
Fear 1 by Daniela Stieh aka Gwenwyfar who would continue her map making career in HoMM3 with The Lord of War.
From the Screenshots thread:
My invincible hero:
lOzerl0.png


Pirates attack:
GmoQWv4.png


Oh dear, that's one bad mofo:
ejCh88p.png


And to really rub it in:
yyaQvDq.png


A Pyrrhic victory:
JOFZASM.png


But then John Silver turns up:
5wQLLxy.png


Pretty ridicilous.
No Ghosts in this map. I could have created an army of skeletons at one point, but even thousands of skellies are too weak for against such opposition.
And there's no way I'm going to hit the End Turn button a thousand times to build a matching army.

And this map was made by a girl!
I never tried Fear 2...
 
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octavius

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The first of the great HoMM 3 map makers was Jason Russell.

AFAIK, he only made three maps - Titanic Pride, Angelic Pride and Devilish Pride -, but they were all X-L masterpieces, of which Devilish Pride was the hardest one.

Quite elaborate maps that together form one huge map, with clever use of artefacts, skills and spells, and co-operation of heroes (like one hero needing to cast Scuttle Boat for another hero, or one hero scouting so another can use Water Walk). There is an ongoing story where your own heroes in one map will be enemies in the next and vice versa.

The maps were made before the expansions came out, so there's fewer options to control the flow of the game. Many of the enemy factions will initially be blocked by stacks of powerful monsters before they become strong enough to break through, so the maps are kind of semi-open, but are not very hard compared to newer maps.
The writing is good and to the point, which is the opposite of the long winded fan fiction which mars some maps.

Highly recommended maps.
 
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eXalted

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AFAIK, he only made three maps - Titanic Pride, Angelic Pride and Devilish Pride -, but they were all X-L masterpieces, of which Devilish Pride was the hardest one.
I have played only Titanic Pride and can confirm that it is awesome. Will play the rest soon.
 

octavius

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Smaller HoMM 3 quest maps:

Small quest type maps where you play only one or two heroes who recruit units on the road instead of at your home castle.


Dead Forest

Nice RPG like map, where you only control a few units, which are named characters (so the story line makes most units "essential").
It's a nice change of pace from the likes of The Lord of War, but in the end it felt more like an Adventure game than an RPG, since you have to do things in right order, and you can end up in a Dead Man Walking scenario if sacrificing some artifacts on an Altar of Sacrifice for XP. It turned out that right before the final fights you are supposed to turn in the artifacts in Seer huts and be awarded with extra troops.
3 Grand Elves, 2 Zealots, 1 Crusader and 10 Battle Dwarves, 40 spell points and Magic Arrow were not quite enough against 60 Wraiths, 100 Zombies and 200 Skeletons...

Arundel
Sequel to Dead Forest. Too tedious and too much storyfaggotry.

These two maps by Jörgen Linde were also made into the incomplete Adventures of Wren campaign for HoMM IV.



By Tang Wen En:

Sentinel Recognition
Fun little map, with lots of content.

The Imp
Nice little quest map. Supposed that you don't find archmages's hut and that he is killed in battle.

Time of Testing
Promising, but cheesy and ultra tedious tactics needed to win.
My hero was supposed to conquer a castle with 100 Ancient Behemots, with a force of 4 Sharpshooters, a Ballista and 3-400 Nomads. According to the Read Me you are supposed to block the gate with the nomads, don't use the Capapult and then use your ranged units to defeat the Behemoths. Yeah right, like I'm gonna use a whole day to sloooooowly whittle away those Behemoths...:roll:


EDIT: I'm a silly bunt, and didn't heed enough the event that would have got me some Sharpshooter.

Statute Quandary
Nice map, but have to do everything perfect before final battle.



By others:

Amaranth Soul Shift
Very nice quest map.

Fairy Tales
Very nice quest map. Very well balanced.

When Champions Fail
Very nice puzzle map. A few frustrating parts.
You start with one peasant and that's the only unit you'll ever have, except for war machines.
A clever map where many battles are more like puzzles where you have to figure out the one tactic, using the righ spells and artifacts, to win. The most difficult one was attacking a garrison where you could only win if your peasant have a speed of excactly 4.
 
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octavius

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It's a HotA map from 2019, it will take me a long time before I'm ready to play it.
If it was a regular map I could alway try it, but I'm not gonna install HotA now.
 

octavius

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The great HoMM 3 map makers - Daniela Stieh aka Gwhenwyfar

Lord of War

An X-L legendary and infamous epic map, this was probably the first of those maps where you start with a fixed hero and most castle upgrades and creature accumulation are done by timed events.

After having played the HoMM 2 map Fear 1 by the same map maker, and seeing that the final enemy (who is actually the player hero in Fear 1) had 99 in all stats, I became too cautious and for a while abandoned my usual style of continuing relentlessly to finish in as few game days as possible for optimal score, and instead wasted time developing a second hero.
It just led to the game becoming too easy, and in the end the fight against legions of Minotaur Kings on Cursed Ground turned out to be the most difficult fight in the game, with the final fight against 2000 Archangels and their entourage an anti-climax which I could beat even when letting the computer take control.
Still, I managed to get an Archangel rating and my best HoMM 3 score so far.

This is a great map; easily one of my favourites.
There's lots to explore, lots of events, and a hell of a lot to fight, with immense armies at the end. The map is not very dynamic, since none of the other players can reach you or each other, but it's still more open than most post Border Guard HoMM maps*, since you can choose in which order to tackle some of them, or even use two different armies to really shave off time for a perfect score.

There are three versions of the map; the AB version which I played, the original RoE version which is harder (I have to play that one some time) and a Wake of the Gods version. Don't know if the WoG version is just a "port" or a proper remake, though.
Anyway, a highly recommended map if you like big, epic ones.

*Typically the first good HoMM 2 maps, like Dead Dragons and others by Greg Schneider, were open and dynamic maps with much more nerve and tension when you don't know when and where the enemies will strike. With border guards you lose that aspect of the game.




Fall and Rise of the Sharai

Starts out as a story driven map, but turns into an epic war map, with you in the middle of the map. Starting as a Fortress you will never be able to get Town Portal in your own towns, and you can't afford to lose your own HQ, so you have to consider carefully where to expand. Very strategic map, being both open and dynamic, with some of the enemies being allied with each other and others being enemies, so anything can happen.
Excellent map which showcases how well the Fortress can defend against overwhelming odds.
ReadMe said play it on Hard, but should be doable on Impossible, since like in Lord of War you get lots of stuff through events in the beginning turns.


Sadly Daniela/Gwhenwyfar seems to have made only these two HoMM 3 maps; they are both masterpieces.
 
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octavius

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The great HoMM 3 map makers - Timothy Duncan aka Corribus

Goldheart

Very good story driven map, but the storyfaggotry is not so bad that it detracts from enjoyment. I skipped the prologue after completing the map, though. Story is quite good, but the actual writing is as usual the weak part of Duncan's maps.

Sander's Folly
Masterpiece despite extreme storyfaggotry. I bet one of the Diablo 2 devs really liked it too.
Summon Boat (random spell, I assume) in a shrine screwed things up a bit, though.

IIRC both these two maps are XL epic maps of quite high difficulty.


Traemask the Fool: Outpost of Progress
This time the story faggotry reaches unprecedented heights. Every third step there is a whole short story of fan fiction. Unlike Heroes Chronicles you can't just skip it and not miss anything either, since it's a very detailed map with a very rich background and lots of things to keep track of.
But the sheer volume of fan fiction level writing is just too much for my delicate senses, so I had to quit this map, which is the first of a short campaign.

It's really astounding how one person can make maps better than professionals, and then the writing is so amateurish. But as Ray Bradbury said, who struggled many years before writing anything sellable, you have to write and write everyday to become good at it, or words to that effect.
The funny thing is that the map is inspired by a short story by Joseph Conrad. Duncan also made a map called Lord Jim. Haven't tried it since it's MP, though.

This is potentially the greatest masterpiece of HoMM 3 map making, with a very intricate story, a very detailed XL map, and very hard battles. One of the most frustrating maps for me to play.


Duncan also made a sequel to Outpost of Progress called Story of the Fool, but seems to have stopped making new maps after that. He appears to have made WOG versions of at least some of his maps.
 

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