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

octavius

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Stupendous Caverns

Inspired by one of my two favourite HoMM 2 maps: Colossal Caverns. But while CC was unique, this is another XL map of two levels in the Lord of War style.

I was a bit fagged out on this kind of epic maps, but it's been a while since I last played one, so I enjoyed this rather obscure map (very few Google hits) very much.

There's less story faggotry than usual, but it's rather annoying how the messages so often are at odds with what I'm doing, and assumes I play very slowly. For examples, at one point you need a certain artifact to progress, but it can only be acquired through an event, and if you play fast you get stuck before an event tells you where to find the item, unless you happen to move throught the right square. And 14 turns before I completed the map, this message popped up:
Ja3UEge.jpg


But apart from a couple of messages that tell you where to find useful items, you can ignore most messages anyway.

Overall, a great map.
There's lots to explore, heroes to liberate, and some epic battles. It's not quite as epic and difficult as some of the other maps of this type, though, but there are some difficulty spikes where you have to reevaluate you position to figure out how to proceed. The first obstacle is 50 Diamond Golems. Unless you want a Pyrrhic victory, you are kind of forced to wait until you can get Grand Elves from your castle. Next is 15 Azure Dragons. Before you have Force Field, Resurrect, Blind or Berserker I found the only way to preserve my Elves was to pin down the Azurri with Dendroids (funny how I've never thought of that tactic before).
This reminds me of my second negative point about this map: the Read Me does not mention that several spells are not available from guilds, but can only be obtained from quests, scrolls or other heroes. I had to check the editor for this, which was annoying.

One thing I really liked about this map, is that there's room for other heroes to shine too. It's not necessary for the starting hero to fight every battle himself.

So an excellent, epic map, and should be even more enjoyable for Star Trek fans.

Unlike many similar maps, you have more choice in forming your starting hero. I gave him Tactics and four magic skills, in addition to Logistics, Intelligence and Wisdom. In hindsight, I would have chosen Archery over Air Magic if I could.
 
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eXalted

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Grea, new review!
And 14 turns before I completed the map, this message popped up:
Sad that the HoMM3 editor is so limited and features no proper scripting.

I've heard the HoMM4 one is really good but I can't get myself to play that.
 

octavius

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Armageddon

A large map of two levels.

You start with a Druid hero who specializes in Intelligence (the skill I most underestimated when I was a newbie), and it's just possible that when you level up you can avoid having to choose between Eagle Eye/Scholar/Learning/First Aid, but don't bet on it.
I was lucky to get Tactics, which was extremely useful in this map. The large mana pool is not that useful, since you will not be able to use the Blind+Resurrect tactic. Expert Fire Magic would also have been very useful. You start with Earth and Water magic.

This map actually introduced some new things to me, like the possibilities when having an AI controlled ally. I learnt that I can Gate from an allied Inferno town, but not to one.

The map is quite "autistic" (like you have to use this one particular tactic in many cases) and not for newbies. You need to understand correct use of Vampire Lords, Arch Angels+Clone, and Force Field against Dragons, for example.
And don't get too attached to your troops; all of them are disposable.

Very enjoyable, and quite original and clever map, with just the right amount of competently written story. Perfect if you want a challenging map that that does not take weeks to complete.
 

octavius

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Good thread.

octavius have you played Metataxer's Revenge? Seems like a well made map but the English translation is horrendous. The original is in German.

I've added it to my list. It's a 2016 map, so it's a long was down on the list. I may have initially passes it over, since it looks like a gimmick map.

btw for anyone looking for a map in particular, here are some sites. Until recently I thought maps4heroes was the only one.

It's too bad there's no central repository of maps arranged in chronological order, like there is for Age of Wonders maps.

I like www.maps4heroes.com for the comments and discussions about some of the classic maps and most/all the newer ones.

I like https://heroesportal.net for quickly browsing maps and and see what they look like, but they don't use original release dates.

I prefer https://www.heroes3maps.com/ for downloading, since they have several versions of the same maps, and the oldest files have the original release dates and Read Me's, while the two other sites auto-generate spam Read Me's.
 

octavius

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The Pen and the Sword

A map I had initially skipped with the comment "Sounds too easy and boring". I was wrong.

An XL map of two levels, where you start with two separated heroes, brother and sister team Bruce and Eiluned. The story line is told in a Heroes Chronicles styles, but with more humour, and it doesn't get too verbose and annoying, but the messages are often at odds with what really happens.
3phLzSW.jpg

The wizards had already invaded through a one way portal.

The map is quite enjoyable, but a bit rough around the edges, and some balancing problems which lead to some definite difficulty spikes. The first enemy you face has much higher stats than you and the Armor of the Damned, and about equal armies. The only way I could beat him soundly was to lure him into Magic Plains so I could could cast Expert Dispel.

The Big Bad is the Wizard faction and their legion of Titans. They had both Town Portal and Dimension Door. The latter was actually a good thing, since it meant their leader burnt up all her mana.

So a pretty good map, but not among the must-play ones, IMO.
Got my second best score on this map.
 

octavius

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These may be suitable.

Goldheart and Sander's Folly. I think they are medium difficulty.
Lord of War. It's a good introduction to these kinds of maps. At least the final battle was easy, since it was made before map-makers started implementing anti-cheese measures.
Dragon King
The Taigin Purdu Incident
Malagorn The Saviour
Time of Testing
Fall and Rise of the Sharai
 

v1rus

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Im finishing up The Devil is in the Details right now. Have you played it?
 

v1rus

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Im finishing up The Devil is in the Details right now. Have you played it?

Not yet. But it's on the list.
Feel free to write a review.

Well I'm right near the end, and I really enjoyed it. Its extremely big, only map marked as G (gargantuan?) I know of. Played on the hardest ingame difficulty, theres also a "hardcore version" of the map itself, but that seems way too insane for my taste, the regular one was challenging as all hell by itself. I played fair and square mostly, even picking personal fav hero instead of some of the top-dogs, but I did have to resort to savescumming and reloading more than a couple of times. The gargantuan size and the tough as nails approach requires extensive knowledge and use of cheese (resurrection + blind kind of stuff), and while I'm in love with the game, I only play for a week or two every couple of years - and mechanics/interactions i forgot in the meantime and the lack of active practice took its part for sure, thus I had to savescum out of few situations. By the nature of the game, and the maps garguntan size and incredibly unforgiving difficulty, knowing wheres what and how to reach it ASAP is a must - while by itself, this isnt a good thing, I believe its one of those inherit weakness of the amalgam that is the game, difficulty level and map size, that you cant really fix.

In short, its a 1v1v1v1v1v1v2 map. The AI only solo team consists of pink, playing Necroplis, and teal playing Inferno and Dungeon, occupying underground. The rest of completely symmetric positions are compromised of good factions (Tower, Castle, Rampart) and neutral factions (Fortress, Stronghold, Cove), with neutral Confluxes scattered everywhere. I played Rampart both because its my favorite faction, and because treasury is MVP in maps this big. Fly and Dimension door is outright banned, you have to do a quest to get Resurrection, and reach the middle point of the map to get Town Portal. The solo team is at a huge starting advantage, with multiple starting towns, easy access to town portal and yuge amount of resources, mines, fully skilled heroes and level 7 dwellings. I did have a lucky situation - in like third month, I managed to get one of pinks overpowered heroes in tavern (which is banned in later versions of the maps, as I recently found out, makes sense). I didnt actively use the hero, because, meh, but I did use it for a town portal taxi for a while. Took me a good month or two more before I realized heroes with scholar can BOTH teach spells, and be taught spells, by which point I got some sucky scholar hero, taught him Town Portal and then taught it to every single main hero (all my heroes have earth magic, ofc, and abundance of Confluxes makes it easy). At this point, getting to the middle and actually obtaining the scroll was a triviality so, eh, didnt ruin the map for me too much.

Me forgetting couple of "not-so-important" mechanics def took its part in MULTIPLE situations, because you literally NEED to abuse every single opening you have to gain advantage. The map itself is perfectly symmetrical for playable factions, as in, everyone has the same access to resources, dwellings, towns and so on. Every faction also has easy access to a prison containing a broken faction hero - Haart for Castle (ok), some meh fucker for Cove, some chick i know nothing of for Fortress, the enchanter dude for Tower, Kilgor for Stronghold (<3), and my dear Gelu for Rampart. I've been using my personal fav hero for most of the game, but by the end, switched to Gelu as a main. And ofc, both fucking Mutares are available for the Dungeon player. The map is amazing, incredibly epic, and a labor of pure love. It has some faults, that personally get on my nerves - but those are IMHO inherit to the game/size/difficulty, what can you do. The symmetric positions mean that in my playthrough, I'm still mostly using rampart and Conflux units + neutrals, since I started reaping the populations of those at the very start, because taking other faction towns leaves their populations in a net deficit (someone else has been buying them before you obtained them, and that ~50 difference in tier 7s means a FUCKING LOT. OTOH; the thing thats been getting on my nerves so much - theres a HUGE abundance of stat boosting structures everywhere. Once again, this by itself is fine, the problem is - the map is gargantuan, and Im not a fucking AI. The AI knows full well, which structure he visited with which hero, and his town portal from turn 1 enables him to go on catching them all from turn 1 - this results in his heroes reaching crazy amount of stats. Right now, only teal and pink remain, with three seriously overstatted heroes - his fucking Mutare Drake has stats in 70s, while my Gelu has stats in his 50s. I could prolly take one of three hereos without much hassle, but the causalities suffered would set me back so much (blind + ress either doesnt work, or cant cover the losses), Ive been trying to get my Gelu to 70s, even though my army is way stronger than his. Also, I cant find the fucking grail. I have all the obelisks, revealed most of the map, BUT ITS SO FUCKING HUGE, I CANT FIND THE LOCATION. /rant over.

Its an amazing labor of love, and a beautiful Heroes 3 fix. I dont believe its a map to jump in after a long pause - you REALLY need to remember every single interaction, cheese combination and trick you can to beat it. Its plagued by some inherit faults of its nature and the design itself, but its beautiful. And its a beautiful addition to one of my favorite games of all time (KotOR 2, Pathologic 2 and Heroes 3 prolly being the top three). I love how much work community still puts in this game, I love the new maps, I love the new HotA content, and I love that Heroes 3 still lives. This was enough of Heroes 3 for me for a while tho, and I'm going to be taking a couple years break once again (untill Forge is released at leasted, or hell, maybe even more) but I love returning to the game. Back in 2020 while there still were covid restrictions around, and pubs werent working, a dear friend of mine visited me every single day, and we played HoMM3 hotseat for 7-8 hours like 4 days a week. Cant wait for another period like that really, but enough is enough for, now.

Now, besides HoMM 3, I also love HoMM 2, 4, and hell, even 5. Id still love if one day, there was a HotA like project for every single of those games. Not going to happen prolly, but one can hope.

To all things comes an end.



And to all things comes a beginning.
 
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octavius

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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.

I gave this map another try, and completed it with a new second best score (492, and I think 500 is max possible).

This time I got Town Portal in one of my castles, which made things much easier, and ruins the story line. So it seems the map maker was sloppy when editing the spell section of the various castles on the map. Incidentally I liked that there are relatively few castles and that most have limited development potential. And very few mines means resource management is also more of challenge than usual.

Another problem with his map is that when you defeat the Wizard leader you get all four spell tomes. With Dimension Door the whole map breaks apart and messages make little sense when out of order. But OTOH you need DD to reach one of the enemy castles. So it's hard to determine what you are really supposed to do, and it feels cheap to just DD around, bypassing border guards and messages.

So to conclude, this map has some parts which are great, and others that are too sloppy, making for an uneven, but enjoyable map.
 
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octavius

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The Adventures of Blademan

An epic map where you will control only one hero for most of the game, and nearly all troops will come from diplomacy. It's a rather obscure map from 1999, which is only available from maps4heroes.com. It's interesting to read the comments about using spells like Slow, Force Field and Clone. None of these spells were available when I played, and when asked where they got the spells, there's no reply. So either they are YouTubers cheaters, or else the spells from the one magic guild in the map are totally random.

Anyway, this was mostly a fun and quick map. It's mostly fun, but there are some annoyances, like a stupid maze dotted with Necro town you can't capture, having to spend hours plonking away at 5,000 Hydras (you didn't buy an Ammo Cart in the one town where it's available? That's too bad.), starting with Sorcery and never getting offered Tactics, Water Magic or Fire Magic, and one incredibly hard fight that is an ambush. You think you are facing 4K Liches, but then you are rudely ambushed by 10K Bone Dragons, 20K Liches, 30K Skeletons and 10K Wights. So you are forced to meta game a bit. But OTOH it's fun to build up the assault force; you have lots of different combos you can assemble, depending on how you spend your gold.

Overall a pretty good map, but with some sloppiness in the form of too many red herrings (many quests). The humour is also pretty lame and there's lots of backtracking and no Town Portal spell. So forget about getting a good score in this map. But it was fun, so I recommend it.
 

Pelvis Knot

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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.
I was inspired by your thread to play some custom homm3. I can confirm that the same bug happened in Unification of Rife, so for anyone looking to play, I recommend it too with three caveats - it has some bugs (passability, quests), it’s too easy, especially first three maps, and you can’t finish it :(
 

octavius

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The War of Continents (made for the base game, I assume, since there's no exotic dragons)

Another epic map, but one of the weaker ones and a rather obscure on. Still worth playing, though, especially if you want something easier.

You start with one shipwrecked hero (Christian) who already has skills assigned, including the totally useless Estates. It starts well enough, and the start can be hard if you do things the wrong way. Unfortunately it becomes much too easy, and when you have the Orb of Invulnerability, the Sharpshooter Bow (later the Golden Bow) and expert Archery, every combat is Slow, followed by infantry waiting, archers firing, and then the infantry mops up what's left. So most of the map will be the mop-up phase for a competent player.
QfXBm8k.jpg

Even with quick combat it was a pushover.
A0QMfNs.jpg

The overall map design is quite good, but when you get Angel Wings the story line breaks.
The writing is on that annoying Heroes Chronicles style, but at least it's kept close to minimum.

XBiiKRD.jpg

You can rescue several high level heroes, and recruit vanquished ones, but with all the ambushes there's little scope for a secondary army leader.

Got my second highest (shared) high score on this map.
 

octavius

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Longest Journey

Epic Extra Large map, where you start with the wizard Xenium who starts with the skills of Wisdom and Logistics. I strongly suggest getting Water Magic for him, or you will have to develop a secondary character with Expert Water Magic. Fire Magic would have been useful in some cases for Berserk, but Air Magic was mostly superfluous. I never get Intelligence, but didn't really miss it. Tactics was quite useful, at least in the beginning.

This is a map that is fun to explore, with lots of quest guards and border guards. You will quickly be fighting legions of enemies, and key spells like Town Portal and Resurrection takes a while to acquire.
You'll be fighting all the other factions in turn. Personally I found the third (IIRC) enemy, The Cow King, to be the biggest PIA, with his 85 Def, Expert Armorer and being immune to mind spells.
I met the final enemy too soon, since he got Town Portal, but even so I only got a Gold Dragon rating. He carried the shield required to assemble the Angelic Alliance, which I assume he got from one of the other characters.

One interesting feature is all the quests to trade troops for high level troops. Sometimes the enemies had already done these quests.

The map has the feel of not being properly play tested. There's also some areas that are not accessible. And if you don't edit the map, you won't be able to enter the portal (in the S-E corner of the underground) to the final area, since you can't engage the one Magic Elemental guarding it.

So bottom line: not an essential map, but definitely worth playing.
 

eXalted

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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.
Finally played the three Pride maps. They are absolutely great. It feels so good coming back to Heroes 3.

Will write some reviews when I play some more maps.

octavius any new reviews?
 

octavius

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Haven't played much HoMM 3 lately, since there are very few pre WoG/HoA maps left on my play list.
 

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