posted April 02, 2003 10:50 AM
HoMM4 Concepts from HoMM3
Heroes4 was announced: "All is new. Period." Well, they did a lot of rework and came up with pretty new conceptions, and IMHO Heroes4 is the best of the series from a conceptional point of view. But (fortunately) they kept several ideas from Heroes3 and modified them. I'd like to discuss a couple of them.
I just love this. It adds spice to the game. It makes sense that creatures who spend their lives in a certain environment are adapted to their home territory, whereas creatures from different terrains are not. In Heroes3 armies could cross a terrain without movement penalty when for all creature stacks this was the home terrain. This added some tactical possibilities to the fortress and the tower towns, both considered bottom choice regarding town selection. In battles creatures got +1 speed (I forgot, if they got +1 attack/defense as well). Speed 12 and 2hex speed 11 creatures could then cross the battlefield in one turn.
If my observations are correct (I have played Heroes 4 only on several occasions due to lack of time), Heroes 4 got rid of a logical flaw. Now creatures and heroes are moving on the battlefield according to the terrain and their adaptation to it. That means walkers (beside order troops on snow or chaos troops on swamp) are severly hampered, and shooters/flyers/spellcasters are more important. If the pathfinding skill also works during battles (does somebody know?), then it would be even more valuable than in heroes3. On the other hand the benefit of Master or GM pathfinding (movement bonus even on grass) would be quite unbalancing. Artefacts seem not to help during battles. Boots of the crocodile for example had no effect on my troops during a battle in swamp terrain.
A nice addition in heroes4 are terrain specific movement boosters like the wet log inn, because they speed up the game and thus keep it exciting, especially in multiplayer. Again it would be of interest, if the bonus of such a location is applied in battles, too.
Sidenote: Unlike e.g. stables in heroes3, the variety of movement boosters is applied for a period of time, starting with the visit of that location, and not longer for the rest of the week. This again is an improvement.
Thieves guild (and spying in general)
I also like this conception and use/used it a lot. In heroes3 you got ranking information in your thieves guild about #towns/#heroes/gold/wood and ore/CGMS (crystal, gems, mercury, and sulfur)/daily income/kingdom army strength/best hero (best army it is)/AI approach/best monster. You got full information when you flagged five towns (the guild then acted like the den of thieves), and pieces of information - from top to bottom of the list - with less towns. You also could right click the portraits of the best heroes to learn their names and their specials. The thieves guild helped a lot in identifying strong opponents. In combination with the view earth/air spells - especially on expert - you always could work out a handy strategy whom to attack next or when and where to prepare for defending a town.
Even early in the game you got some useful information, when you learned about town types and starting heroes of the different colors by the szenario information.
Unfortunately the szenario information in heroes4 is no longer applicable for spying (sigh) and the view air/earth spells disappeared with the reduction of overland spells (SIGH!). The thieves guild underwent several modifications.
Positive is that the amount of information no longer depends on the number of towns you own. You always get the full information. The relative strenght of the different players is no longer given as a ranking, but in bars. Thus you can see how much you are gaining or losing in comparism to your opponents and how much you are apart from them. The bar diagram certainly is an improvement. The information is reduced to #towns/income/army strength. That they left out the current amount of gold and resources is ok, I think. But I still would like information about best moster and best hero (army). I acknowledge that this is hard to represent with bar diagramms. The information about the AI approach (builder/explorer/warrior) also disappered. Not that is of similar importance due to the weak heroes4 AI, but for curiosity: Does this conception (builder/explorer/warrior) still exist?
Another improvement regarding spying is IMHO the boost of the scouting skill, which acts on master level like a built in vision spell. Heroes3 players certainly know the problems, when early in the game you try to clear the sourrounding of your town, you rightclicked on a stack of wandering monsters, it said "lots of medusas", and you still had to decide if you engage them, because there could be 20 of them or 49. In heroes4, with advanced scouting there is no problem.