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

eXalted

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I am planning to try the Paragon 2.0 map but unfortunately, it's in Russian and there is only a Google Translate version available.

The author is currently working on Paragon 3.0 - https://vk.com/paragon_homm3 . But yeah, I think I will miss a lot with the machine translation of it.
 

octavius

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The great HoMM 3 map makers: Charles Watkins


Bug Hunt

Quite an original SF setting, where you're fighting bugs on another planet. Very much content in medium map. Open, but not dynamic.


Grandmaster

Semi open (lots of quest guards and border guards) large map with static enemies. But it's a tour-de-force of creativity and clever design, with a rich background story. The writing is good, and confined to hero bios (several starting as prisoners) and events, of which many take place behind Inns and Stables. Nice change of pace from too many maps that throw walls of bad fan fiction at you in classic Heroes Chronicles style. If there's one thing I really hate it's when a game uses dozens of pages to tell me what my character feels and dreams.
Anyway, this is one of the best HoMM 3 map I've played, with so much to explore and discover.
A masterpiece, but not for casuals or if you want something you can finish in an evening. An extremely intricate map where it pays to play slowly and really plan ahead. I think it took me about a week to finish.

Kid Heretic
Clever map, but too much of a theme park for my taste.
Objectively it's a good map, but just not my cup of tea, so I didn't finish it.


Like Timothy Duncan, Charles Watkins made a name for himself making maps for HoMM 2. He continued his map making career with HoMM IV.

Incidentally I get the impression that much more maps were made for HoMM IV than for V. Maybe because IV was so different, while V was just III in 3D with the new skill system the only real improvement?
 

octavius

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The great HoMM 3 map makers: Simon Crowe aka Scrowe

Like Timothy Duncan he likes to tell a story. Duncan's storylines are much better, which can be disadvantage when the writing is bad. With cliche, predictable plots and the mundane minutiae of what your character feels and dreams, you can generally just skip the walls of text without missing anything, Heroes Chronicles style.
Scrowe also made the small map Fairy Tales which I've mentioned earlier.


Sleeper and Lord of Fend

Both are semi-open, but static maps. IOW, there's an unlinear way of doing things, but your enemies will never clash or surprise you, thanks to Border Guards.

Sleeper is a very solid map, with lots to explore and tough enemies, and I recommend it.
The original Sleeper was well recieved, but perhaps a little too easy. Gwhenwyfar, a great fan of the map, offered to update it and I agreed. However it seems she went a little overboard and there have been complaints of it being impossible to complete! So version 1.2 fixes one of the major impossibilites

Lord of Fend reminds me of the old Pride maps in that you start with two heroes on different parts of the maps, who will have to co-operate in some way, to unlock the means to complete the map. It started out very promising, but unfortunately the second hero is just too weak and was never able to do her part, since the blue player had better stats and twice as many troops. With no useful skills (no magic or movement skills) or spells (no Blind) it was impossible. Might be doable if allowed to build a Portal of Glory (which the enemy also lacks) in her castle, or on lower difficulty.
Of course, I could have done the retreat-a-secondary-buffed-up-hero-and-rehire trick, but it was obviously not what was intended.
Annoyingly, there's no YouTube LP of this map. Would have been interesting to see how others fared.


Hail to the King
Nice XL storyfag map. Prose is better than that of Timothy Duncan. Very linear and static, with no city building or army recruiting.


Shar's War
Very linear, extremely nauseating storyfaggotry, but still enjoyable. Final battle far too easy.


Baptism of Fire
Semi-open, static medium map. Rather unbalanced for Impossible in the beginning. Rather too much backtraking. No Town Portal.
 

octavius

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Epic HoMM 3 maps


Dragon King
This is a very ambitious map that tries to combine a quest type of map with a semi-open dynamic map where there are not just one, but two one way Teleporter exits in your starting area, making for a very nerve wracking mid game.
Unfortunately it's a bit too dynamic, and the enemies invade too soon, so when I played they were able to flag two Border Guards (one of which I couldn't have prevented no matter what), messing up the whole story line and making lots of events making little sense, and possibly even making the game unwinnable with enemies reaching places they were not supposed to reach.

This could have been one of the greatest HoMM maps ever, with so much to explore and many events, but is partly ruined by some imbalances and rather poor placement of one of the border guards.
I will probably edit the map somewhat and then meta game it, and play it "as it should be played".

Tip: make sure you get Pathfinding and Navigation.


Reavers of the North
by Brian Krueper

A very nice and even educational map with a similar premise to Darklands (what people believe in actually exists) only set around year 1000, and you can play as the Norwegians, Swedes or Danes. Naturally I played as Olaf Tryggvason.
Can be played both SP and MP, and is more open and dynamic than later, more "scripted" epic maps. But if course, that also makes it easier, so a good epic map for the not too hard-core HoMM3 player.

FBJ2yfZ.jpg


91gcKs9.jpg


Crossing the Rainbow Bridge we met Thor.
lJelwkm.jpg


But the hardest battle was against a generic hero. I was a bit disappointed that it was not Odin himself.


Same guy also made Running With the Devil, which is a Large, more story driven map which according to my notes is
Promising, and quite good writing, but too boring.
I don't remember what I found boring about it (probably too easy), but it has a very good reputation, so I guess it just wasn't my cup of tea.


Malagorn The Saviour
Lord of War type map with custom main hero with fixed skills (Tactics, Earth and Water magic skills, no Navigation or Pathfinding).

A very good map that fails to reach masterpiece status due to several flaws, most of them minor.
Starts as a very static map, but when you open a border guard at sea all hell breaks loose, with two faction leaders already at sea while later text events suggest they are supposed to be at home in their castles. So some very hard battles quite early in the game, and then too much mopping up the lesser heroes, with lots of ambushes providing the greatest challenges. The ambushes also means you can't really use your two nice secondary heroes who have the typical scouting skills for that purpose. Only at sea are they safe from ambushes.
So my biggest beef with this map is that the text events don't sync well with what actually happens on the map. And the ambushes and city garrisons are too much copy pasted.

The victory condition is to defeat Christian, the Human leader, but he was a pushover when I reached him.
You can avoid lots of fighting on this map. I didn't do it, since the enemy heroes don't seem to have a limited radius, and since border guards are used instead of border garrisons, I figured it was better to kill them off than to risk them invading me.
But should I play it again, I think I would avoid the conquering of the of ther other factions, and head for Christian ASAP to make it more interesting and challenging. That is probably closer to the intented way of playing it.

Still a very enjoyable map despite the map maker's intentions not working out very well.



Universe and Its Last Act
A rather obscure, but very nice map, where your hero is a young Joan of Arc or tomboy type of character.

First half is very good and semi-open, but the map maker seems to have run of of steam, since the second part is rather too linear, too easy, less detailed and with too much story faggotry.
The story line is quite interesting, but like the writing it gets a bit weird at times. I suspect the unknown map maper's first language is not English.
It was a bit unclear at times what you were supposed to do. You are supposed to visit a Seer, but since his hut is behind several border guards, I didn't approach, thus missing several text messages which would have explained things.

Still, a very nice map that I would recommend.



Gates of Wonder
You control three characters in separate locations, as pioneered by the early Pride trilogy of maps.
Very promising, but a bit unclear what you are supposed to do at times; if you go the wrong way event messages don't make sense.
The map is semi-open and enemies are mostly static, but one über hero managed to get into one of my areas by way of two Summon Boat spells, which I think must be an oversight by the map maker since there's no way my hero can beat him.
Too bad, since it was quite an interesting map with some choices&consequences on the strategic level. For example, you get The Grail early in the game, but do you really want to use it on a castle with only three creature dwellings, or miss 5000 gold each turn when looking for a better place?

Potentially a masterpiece, but that über hero getting Summon Boat, probably a random spell from a shrine, broke the game for me.



The Lone Knight by Hans C
He also made the Eternal Love campaign. The writing was thankfully much improved; there was much less of it and it went from bad fan fiction level to an accepetable average amateur level.

This is one of the legendary HoMM 3 maps, up there with The Lord of War and The Empire of the World II, the latter of which I haven't played yet.
It's a very involved map, with lots of logistics (thankfully not too much running around collecting weekly's, though) with lots of items, quests and rescued heroes. It took me eight days to complete, so it's as long as a short full price CRPG, and I got my best ever score for HoMM 3 yet (496).

What I really like about this map is that it is quite open, with opportunity to develop and actually use several secondary heroes to mop up the weaker enemies, and even do a side quest. The AI is mainly behind barriers, but sometimes a huge army will pop out from a one way portal and put a twist in your OCD.

You can play as one of four factions, but the Necromancer is the canon one, and the one I played.
In game messages suggest you learn Logistics, Earth Magic, Water Magic, and Intelligence from nearby Witches Huts. One of them taught Archery instead of Earth Magic, so I fixed it in the editor thinking it was a bug. Turns out Archer is a very useful skill for a Necro in this map, though. Intelligence is not so important, since you will quite soon be able to build Mana Vortexes. Water Magic is a weird choice for a Necro, felt odd to cast Prayer on Undead troops. Expert Clone was very useful, though, especially when you have 15K Power Liches. Before I assembled the Cloak of the Undead King I had over 40K Skeleton Warriors.

Despite my thorough play style I still managed to miss a Seer who would have rewarded me with an Orb of Vulnerability, which would have made some battles much easier.

In the end the hardest fight for me was against the "fall guy" of the map:
EphFPlb.jpg

Spend like 50 turns casting Animate Dead until mana ran out, so in this case Intelligence was useful. OTOH with Archery my troops would have mopped up the enemy quicker...

The end battle was relatively easy with a stack of 15K Power Liches and the Clone spell:
nEvSytf.jpg

Highly recommended map for veteran HoMM 3 players.
 

octavius

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To Kill For Power

JidmXad.jpg


This is an epic XL map made by Tang Wen En aka Fiery Phoenix, who also made some of the more noteworthy small quest/RPG type maps I've mentioned earlier.

It's like mix between Sander's Folly (time travel and story faggotry) and Unleashing the Bloodthirsty (very intricate with lots and lots of quests, quest guards, and border guards). In fact I thought it was a bit too intricate, too convoluted and with too many "mazes" (areas which look more open than they are and you have to do "pixel hunting" to find the right way) and too many hidden passages.
In the end I needed 1.5 weeks to complete it, so I think that makes it the most drawn out HoMM map I've played so far. I spent too much time on rather useless troop collecting; the map is not so hard that it's required. I think this map was originally made before Unleashing, but the version I played was a revised one from 2003. Unleashing seems to have distilled the best ideas from the map and cranked up the difficulty several gears, and with only two characters Unleashing has less running around and collecting things, which can be a time sink in large maps, especially if you are something of a perfectionist like me.
It's a very well made map with a professional feel to it, and the story faggotry is rarely too intrusive. The writing is above average, but it's still the rather annoying Heroes Chronicles style where you are told how your character feels.

One thing I really liked about this map was how organic most of the quest guards were done, with the use of event messages telling why just this item was needed.

A very good map, and a map I definitely should have played before Unleashing the Bloodthirsty. I think I would have liked it even more then.

Tip:
I tried the "Demon Farming" tactic in this map. It works well in the beginning, but the demons are just too weak for the end game. And it involves a bit too much logistics to be worth it.
Better to collect Titans, Dragons and Phoenixes and retire your Demons, Cerberi and Pit Lords.
 
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octavius

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Ringing of Victory

Large map made by the same guy who made To Kill For Power, which I discussed two posts above.
The same general comments apply, only it's not quite as involved, so I think it was made before that map.

Solid and quite intricate map, but I'm getting a bit tired of this kind of map now, with static enemies in permanent turtle position. The only surprises you get is when the hero hiding inside a castle turns out to have obscene stats.
All the classic SP maps is either of this type or the smaller quest type map, so I can understand why some gamers play randomly generated maps which I assume are more unpredictable.
Of course if I had played this particular map a year ago I would probably have raved about it. So it's not the map, "it's me".
 
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p3dantic

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Hey octavius,

Tang Wen En here. I stumbled on this thread and wanted to say thank you for playing and reviewing my maps about 20 years (!!) after I'd created them. I hope you see this even though you posted 3 monrths ago!

I was still in high school when I made To Kill for Power and with the benefit of hindsight there are so many things I thought were "impressive" then that I'd have changed now (which are all the things you talked about), usability things like only keeping hidden passages to optional areas, not putting annoying objects in the way of passages you have to travel, etc and story things like making it less campy/telling-rather-than-showing.

One thing I was exploring before I stopped map making was giving the player more choices instead of forcing a linear route, that's why later maps like "Northern Darkness" and "Statute Quandary" allowed the player to choose which land to attack next, to up the replayability just a smidge. I remember that it was a real challenge to simulate a "real" open world RPG concept in Homm3 because there was no scripting and, well, the AI was really stupid; you had to jump through so many hoops to get it to do even the simplest things. There were many, many frustrating nights trying to get the AI to do what we wanted in Time of Testing.

The fun for me was "hacking" the limited map engine. For example, Time of Testing was built around being able to count the exact number of steps heroes could take to really build up the tension, as well as that trick of a hero ending their turn on water and thus being invincible to an enemy's attack by putting an event in a water tile that stopped waterwalking movement (something I first explored in Ringing of Victory), and To Kill for Power was actually built around the trick of being unable to land a boat if there is an event on the tile (I discovered this "bug" in an early version of Ringing of Victory that rendered it unfinishable, and thought I could design a map around it). I was halfway through making a map with the Eagle Eye specialist as the primary trick since that skill was largely thought to be useless, where you had to steal spells from enemies to progress, but my computer crashed halfway through it and after that I kinda gave up on mapmaking altogether after losing that map, sadly.

I remember Andrew Tanzi emailing me about To Kill for Power, and a while later asking if I would playtest a map for him. I didn't manage to finish it, and little would I know that Unleashing the Bloodthirsty would go on to be such a legendary map! I remember thinking that was the peak of SP HOMM3 maps, with all the best ideas brought to life in the best way possible.

Thanks for allowing me to reminisce a bit on those days! A simpler time for sure.

BTW Time of Testing has an event near the first castle that gave you a hundred sharpshooters to help with the behemoths! There was "storyfag" event that clued the player in to it, but I guess Cattleman and I didn't make it obvious enough!
 

octavius

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:hero:
BTW Time of Testing has an event near the first castle that gave you a hundred sharpshooters to help with the behemoths! There was "storyfag" event that clued the player in to it, but I guess Cattleman and I didn't make it obvious enough!

I guess I need to give that map another try.

And yet again I must curse the faulty hard drives that ended so many great map making careers.
Did you make maps for other games than HoMM 3?
 

octavius

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BTW Time of Testing has an event near the first castle that gave you a hundred sharpshooters to help with the behemoths! There was "storyfag" event that clued the player in to it, but I guess Cattleman and I didn't make it obvious enough!

It is obvious enough for any alert player. I'm ashamed I didn't read carefully enough the event that told about those sharpshooters. :oops:

So here's an updated review of Time of Testing.

This is a medium map of the linear, scripted type where two heroes (in this case two lovers) are separated but have to co-operate to finish the map (and get married). The female hero has to evade lots of horny guys and have to use every trick in the book to keep away from their sweaty paws, while the buff male has to fight his way to come to her rescue.
Lots of clever movement tricks in this map.
Overall quite enjoyable, and at medium size it's not too time consuming.
The writing is quite good, and there's not too much of it.

Since it's supposed to be played on Hard (and not Impossible) you can't get a top score from this map, which in some ways negate the incentive to finish it as soon as possible. Also, some troop events suggest you are supposed to get back and recruit them. So it's tempting to take you time instead of pressing forward, even if the text suggest you hurry.
 

Verylittlefishes

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Probably the most weird and interesting story-driven map I've discovered for HoMM 3 was Sander's Folly.

It also had its own musical theme, I still remember the beginning 18 years later.
 

octavius

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Probably the most weird and interesting story-driven map I've discovered for HoMM 3 was Sander's Folly.
Great map despite the storyfaggotry. At least it was a nice storyline with time travel.

It also had its own musical theme, I still remember the beginning 18 years later.

Heh, I have music turned off, so I missed that.
 

octavius

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The Gholam

An XL epic map in the Lord of War tradition, but with Heroes Chronicles style writing.
You are Nimbus, the typical sensitive young man with a Secret Legacy (and fixed skills) of these excessively verbose maps. The writing itself is technically not bad, but the HC style is so bloody annoying (being told what your character thinks, does and dreams) and it's far too much of it. But worst of all it assumes you are a complete newbie who needs several months to control your starting area, since the messages get increasingly out of sync with what a competent player actually experiences. Getting diplomatic messages from heroes you have defeated months ago really ruins the suspension of disbelief. After a while I just hit the escape key whenever these timed events appeared.

The map is more open than usual in these maps, and Dimension Door is also a key spell, so it's very easy to "break" the map and do things in wrong order.
Also, there are some balancing problems. For example you are supposed to get a certain item first, but it guarded by a Throng of Gold Golems followed by Lots of Black Dragons. I am of the firm belief that an idle soldier is a troublesome soldier, so instead of camping a few weeks to build up a strong enough army, I instead decided on conquering the neighbouring swamplands. When I had done that a naval invasion of the weak barbarians across a narrow sea seemed like the best idea. I quickly conquered two of their strongholds, but their leader was underground, the entrance guarded by a Throng of Minotaur Kings. One quest guard will only open if you kill this leader, so I was rather dismayed when the barbarians disbanded a week later and I was worried I might not be able to finish the game. Also, while the strongholds and their heroes were weak, there were ambushes with thousands of goblins which were very hard at this point of the game.

But despite all this, I thought it was a very enjoyable map.
The actual map design is excellent, and you can use secondary heroes for more than just scouting and ferrying troops.
And the final battle is one of the hardest ones; obviously you are supposed to fight it months later when you have much more troops than I had. So I had to resort to the Arch Devil+Titans+Ammo Cart+Force Field (followed by Haste and Prayer on the Titans) trick against an army that includes lots of Azure Dragons. No way I could defeat The Gholam in open fight, at least without Expert Fire Magic, since expert Berserk (and Sacrifice) might have worked.

Some screenshots:
This handsome devil actually turned out to become a key figure in defeating The Gholam.
IEfpL7V.jpg


nhCPGNF.jpg


DPHmOJC.jpg
 
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octavius

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Five is the Principle

Medium map in the classic Goldheart meets Heroes Chronicles style, which means a well designed map, but pages upon pages of text telling you what your character says, does and dreams.

Quite good map, but the ending was anti-climatic. I eventually just skipped all the text and found that the Big Bad was far too weak.

Writing is OK, but with lots of spelling mistakes.

Several artifacts hidden behind things was annoying, and I'm not crazy about the use of the Badge of Honor artifact, which is bugged.
 
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octavius

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Hyaden's Trilogy

Three maps with the same heroes, Hyaden and his comrade Kid. It's not a proper campaign, though, since there's no transfers.

These are medium sized maps with no underground. Unlike most of the rest of the user-made maps I've played, that was either small quest maps or big, inctricate maps with Heroes Chronicles style storyfaggotry, these maps felt much more like Armageddon's Blade/Shadow of Death maps, only a bit harder.

So competently made maps, with story kept brief, but nothing special. Final battle was a huge anti climax, what with the enemy sending out small forces trough one way teleports instead of turtling.
 
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octavius

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Death of a Necromancer

Medium map with underground, this was a very enjoyable quest type of map, where your hero is a sorceror with no damage spells and must rely on the brawn of his Titan bodyguard.
Humour, even if lame at time, is used to tell the story, and is a welcome change from the mind numblingly tedious excessively verbose Heroes Chronicles storyfaggotry (have I mentioned how much I hate the HC style?).
There are some quite hard fights (especially against a pack of dragons) and some amusing encounters, but the map is not too intricate, so it's a short and enjoyable experience.
 

octavius

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The Empire of the World II by Stefan Kispalko aka Darklord

A sequel to an excellent map that I forgot to review, this is another of the huge Lord of War type maps where you control a "chosen one" (Maximus), get many creature dwelling and creatures from recurring events, and explore a semi open map with turtled enemies who never clash or threaten you.
One of the most time consuming HoMM 3 maps I've played, but also one of the best, among the contenders behind the ultimate HoMM 3 map Unleashing the Bloodthirsty.

The lack of Heroes Chronicles style and even worse, quantity, of writing is a big relief. The writing is functional, but it's obvious the map maker's first language is not English.

You start with one character, and can free two more from prisons. There's only one Tavern in the whole game (you need to flee from Merlin after reaching a Keymaster's Tent). Since you get a Cloak of the Undead King this means you can recruit a formerly defeated high level Necromancer and raise a humungous army of Power Liches.
The two heroes you recruit are supposed to soften up end-of-game boss Caesar, but when reaching Maximus' former homeland (from the first map) I got impatient and headed right for him, even forgetting to bring along the results of my Mighty Gorgon breeding program. It's amazing how powerful the combo of a huge stack of Archangels and Expert Clone is.
You start with Wisdom, Leadership and Earth Magic, and are encouraged (partly by the presence of Witch's Huts) to get Fire Magic, Water Magic and Pathfinding. Water Magic is crucial for the Clone spell when your workhorse is the Archangel. Fire Magic is not really needed, I think, since you'll only have access to the Berserk spell for a short time of the whole game. Oh wait...Expert Blind was very useful; combined with Clone it meant the cloned AAs took the retaliation. But still not essential.
For the seventh skill slot Logistics is of course the obvious choice, and it's possible you can't even complete the game without it, thanks to some long Water Walkings. Which reminds me of the one thing I disliked about this map:
Kpf0zuf.jpg

Why make elaborate logistic puzzles if you are gonna spoil them?

I also chose Tactics, but found that it was not really that useful in this map. Archery would have been much better since you find a Golden Bow early.
Navigation is also a good candidate if you want to finish as quickly as possible for optimal score.

So, a great map. Very detailed map with every square inch used, lots to explore, not too much micro-management, and a good, but far from unfair, challenge. Maybe a bit too easy since there was never need for anything more subtle than Clone, Blind, Slow and Berserk. The only new trick I learnt from this map is that even after Archangels use their Resurrection spell, their Clones will still have the spell.

This message puzzled me:
EC5edzc.jpg

I can't think of a single time in this map when any enemy could trump the combo of Archangels + Expert Clone.
 
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octavius

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EPICA by Nickolay Popov

This an Extra Large map of two levels.
It starts as the usual Chosen One having to escape, but "I'll be back".
RxH9q9L.jpg


Unfortunately it suffers from one thing I really can't stand, and that is mandatory meta gaming, without which this is the result:
QKf9m4q.jpg


I went east and beat up some Hobgoblins and got some stat boosts, troops and artifacts, but that was obviously the wrong way.

So I restarted, conquered a castle on day 7 and started building up. But then The Guardian came out of a teleporter in at the end of the first month and proved too strong to defeat, even with absolutely all the units available to me.

Maybe I'll retry it again some day and restart with the recommended Normal or Hard difficulty instead of the Impossible which I used. Resources are quite scarce, but only Gems (so no Genies, Giants or higher level magic guilds) was a real problem.

So it's potentially a good map, but it requires save scumming and meta gaming, at least in Impossible.
I dislike playing in lower difficulties, since it means you can't get a good score.

Found only a few mentions of it on the web, so it seems to be an obscure map. Or maybe, since it's made by a (I assume) Russian, the English version is not played much.
 
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octavius

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Turns out that EPICA was not quite as obscure as I thought, and I found a Let's Play of it on YouTube, by some Russian or Polish gamer
EiAWKSU.jpg

(damned, it was frustrating watching his spam Implosion when Cloned Titans would have been so much more effective)
whose English was hard to understand even with subtitles. YouTube's own translation was more creative than my own:
YBGucHI.jpg

Anyway, this turned out to be quite a good map after all.
It suffers from Heroes Chronicles style writing, the worst being the inane messages about the other factions that I had already conquered, which was very annoying and does not add anything of value at all. The problem with so much "fluff" is that it's easy to miss the important tidbits of information (maybe I need a secretary?).

Also, it is rather unbalanced.
The first enemy is The Guardian. This part is actually quite good in retrospect, since him being behind a "timed" border gate (he'll get through once one of his colleagues in another part of the map is strong enough to flag to corresponding Keymaster Tent) it makes this part of the map unpredictable, which is rare in these kinds of maps. Once he breaks through he gets access to a second Tower, which means he'll recruit a big army.
So the player must either take the battle to him when he's still rather weak, or you'll need to free your brother Sol who has a big army, including 10 Titans. First time I played The Guardian picked up some strong neutral stacks and invaded early, and I had no chance.
Second time (still on Impossible) I got the extra army from the prison and was able to face The Guardian just as he invaded (with no "free" troops this time). Next week I was able to recruit him.

The second part of the map is against the alliance of Knights and Druid. They were relative push-overs, but since I didn't have Resurrection I lost all my Nagas.

The third part, against the Wizard and Barbarian alliance (even the Barbs being archmages) was the hardest part of the map, and before tackling them I suggest getting the Sharpshooter Bow (you'll need to get one of the artifacts from a black market), and build up the magic guilds to lvl 4 untill you hopefully get crucial spells like Berserk, Clone and Resurrection.
I didn't get Berserk or Resurrection, so I had to resort to dirty tricks like attacking the enemy main heroes in their castles, parking a unit before the gate and casting Meteor Shower my own Catapult. You really don't want to face a large group of Hasted Behemoth's in an open fight...

The biggest balancing problem was Sol's Diplomacy skill. With it I was able to pick up 1000 Dread Knights and even more Bone and Ghost Dragons combined, making the rest of the map a bit too easy. In comparison I only had 351 Naga Queens, 465 Titans and 183 Archangels in the final fight. I only needed two tries, while our friend the YouTuber needed like 20 tries.
BTW, his reaction when the AI dispelled his "Field of Force" was priceless:


So overall a great map despite some flaws.
It's not as pretty/detailed as the best ones, nor as inctricate, but has some great "boss fights".
For a real challenge, play it without using Diplomacy.
 

octavius

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This is an XL map which is often mentioned when "best HoMM maps" are discussed, so I had high hopes for it, especially since it's been a while since last time I played HoMM 3.
As the name suggests it's based on Sherlock Holmes. Might even be based on the board game of the same name, for all I know.

It started out promisingly, with Dr. Watson having to flee his home and find inspectors Lestrade and Gregson who have gone missing. This part of the map turned out to be too symmetrical for my taste, with two similar areas each with their own two similar areas, and with two pairs of nearly identical heroes to rescue. So lots of repeating of themes.
In the meantime Holmes has a more interesting, but slower time. I think he is supposed to find Key Tents, 'cause Watson's area is closed by border gates on all fronts. So I didn't finish this map, but quit when Watson and four heroes had nothing more to do (not even weekly recruiting of units from various sites, which can be a chore), and Holmes still hadn't sighted a key tent.

It didn't help me that I'm not a big fan of Sherlock Holmes, either. I tried reading one or two of the books when I was a kid; A Study in Scarlet and/or The Hound of the Baskervilles, but found it too dense and not very exciting. I guess I was too young at the time. Not a big fan of the modern TV series either.
So I'd miss most of the references and nuances of map anyway.
 
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Parsifarka

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It didn't help me that I'm not a big fan of Sherlock Holmes, either.
If you're willing to give Holmes another chance, check out Granada's TV series from the 80s, starring Jeremy Brett. A delightful characterization of the time with a pleasant slow pace allowing to take in all the visuals and sounds (not just those of the streets, opium dens and palaces of London, but the British countryside and its manor houses and ruined castles as well) and superb acting; even if you don't find any of the cases particularly exciting (though it sometimes goes way off expected tracks with hallucinogenic drugs, killer monkeys and treasure hunts) I reckon the quality of each episode as a film is enough to interest anyone in the character.
And of course, if you're into adventures, Frogwares' games are very much recommended to appreciate the world of Sherlock Holmes, particularly the trilogy The Awakened/vs Arsène Lupin/vs Jack the Ripper.

Now after this defense of the Holmes fiction, I must say I didn't know of that map and joining HoMM and Sherlock is something I'd never even considered because it's such a preposterous idea that I absolutely have to check it out so thanks for reviewing it; it's pity going by your account it isn't too fun though, but gotta try it.
 

Zed Duke of Banville

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It didn't help me that I'm not a big fan of Sherlock Holmes, either. I tried reading one or two of the books when I was a kid; A Study in Scarlet and/or The Hound of the Baskervilles, but found it too dense and not very exciting.
"A Study in Scarlet" and "The Hound of the Baskervilles" are among the four lengthier Holmes stories written, so if you found those too ponderous you would have done well to switch to the shorter stories, which are the ones that made Holmes famous, whereas the first two stories in longer format ("A Study in Scarlet" and "The Sign of Four") weren't that well-received, starting with The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes collection.

As Parsifarka mentioned, the Granada Television series with Jeremy Brett is worth watching as well.

Illus-scan-paget-01.jpg
 

octavius

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Tried to play Going Gold!, a Large story driven map, but the sheer story faggotry was too much for me. Not just the quantity, but also the quality, with its feminine, juvenile style. If you can stomach the amount of girlie fan fiction it's probably quite a good map from what I saw, though. Should be right up BruceVC's alley if he likes HoMM.
 
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