Some ideas on 3D in Heroes that I hope modders will take up on.

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Some ideas on 3D in Heroes that I hope modders will take up on.

Postby cjlee » Oct 29 2016, 12:33

There has been a lot of back and forth on the use of 3D in HOMM. I don’t think 3D is a wrong thing. Just that it is badly implemented and implemented without enough resources.

For example there has been too much focus on the eye candy. Such as 3D adventure maps that look very beautiful but are a pain for mapmakers, and 3D, over-fancy design models for units.

In contrast, there is just not enough 3D awareness in the battle screens.

Like it or not, real battles take place in 3D. Situational/ environmental awareness is very much a part of a soldier’s thinking.

If you have a bunch of soldiers randomly shooting machine guns at an unseen enemy, that’s laying down cover fire and is ineffective at killing people relative to number of bullets used. But to inflict real casualties, snipers and artillerymen alike always take wind speed and direction, gradient of the land, etc into account.

So I’m a huge fan of certain H7 improvements, such as flanking and battlefield obstacles. Understandably, flanking could be refined over time because it does look silly to have units constantly running behind other units to inflict flanking bonus. But flanking has always existed, and has always been a game changer.

In numerous historical battles on land and sea, attacking an enemy’s unprotected flank or back made the difference. Many tanks are less armoured from the back. Armoured calvalry often cannot turn around easily on the muddy battlefield, so an attack from the side leads to chaos. The Greek hoplites’ shield walls had to be redeployed to face an enemy coming from the side. Both Alexander the Great and Hannibal were masters of the flanking tactic on battlefield. The Battle of Trafalgar was won by Nelson’s decision to attack the enemy perpendicularly rather than via conventional broadside, since he was outnumbered but his forces had better cohesion and training. In 1914 the entire German Schlieffen plan, which lead to World War, was because they wanted to outflank the French by invading via Belgium. In WW2 the Germans succeeded in bypassing the Maginot line and flanking France via the Low Countries.

What I would like to see in future Heroes:

1) Time and Direction becomes relevant. It is hard to fight with the sun shining in your eyes. The enemy may choose to lay siege to you when the afternoon sun is in your eyes (assuming your castle faces the West). Time and direction are obviously not important if a battle is taking place indoors eg inside a Mage Vault or Dangerous Cave.

2) awareness of wind direction. All projectile shooters are affected, but not mages or anyone who uses magic attacks.

3) slope affects melee attacks. People fighting upslope have their attack reduced

4) terrain condition makes a difference. Muddy ground affects Blood Furies and Paladin/ Lizard Rider charge most. Muddy ground has no effect on zombies slogging slowly.

5) Racial advantages on certain battlefield types. In Heroes 2, 3, 4 the speed of your hero on the adventure map was increased by native terrain. Why not apply that to the battle screen? Dungeon troops should move slightly faster if fighting in darkness underground. They should be slightly slower when fighting on bright daylight. The only battles that are ‘fair’ to all, should be those taking place in uniform urban settings eg stone floors. Not surprisingly, duels should be conducted in stone or flat sandy arenas.

6) Weather should make a difference. Fighting in rain or after a rain, Haven melee (armoured knights and swordsmen) suffer penalties. Assaulting Academy Wizards in a sandstorm, everyone suffers except for the mages and titans who are able to keep shooting their magical orbs. Sanctuary, H3 Fortress, or any Water-related faction should have more difficulty than anybody else when on hot Inferno territory.

In Warcraft 3, time of day makes a difference. Night Elves heal at night and can hide at night if they are not moving. I would like to see that idea implemented one day. Dungeon troops should be better fighters in low lighting conditions, and suffer disadvantages in bright daylight which they are not used to and suffer morale/ performance penalties.

Heroes 2 and 3, taking place on static battlefields, are too unsophisticated for me now. At least H4 prevents you shooting the rear line of the enemy if there are blocking obstacles or other units. Come on, we all like strategy games, but we need more realistic strategizing!

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Re: Some ideas on 3D in Heroes that I hope modders will take up on.

Postby Namerutan » Oct 29 2016, 13:51

Agree about more "strategizing", but I'm not sure if we want the same things about "realistic". To give an example on something you have not discussed here, it is ok for me to represent a bunch of minotaurs by just 1 unit with a number over it.

There are a lot of things already done to give more strategy and tactic possibilities to the games, since Heroes1 to the latest, but there is always room for improvements.
If it is easy to handle as a player, I could love slopes on a battlefield; obstacles, I think these are well covered already. Unit's advantages on certain terrains, also well covered (I love using TerrainWalk in Heroes4). Weather... I'm not sure.
About flanking/backstabbing, I could agree, if it is well done.

All these could be done without 3D (maybe isometric view is enough for me).
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Re: Some ideas on 3D in Heroes that I hope modders will take up on.

Postby Panda Tar » Oct 31 2016, 15:48

I would like seeing how weather and terrain height could work in heroes. Given that I'm used to games such as Final Fantasy Tactics in which terrain height is a feature (also features flanking), I think weather plays important role on strategy if tweaked smartly. Another thing I think it could be improved and changed is Luck. Luck could be a global thing, not being able to 'skill' it into control. Thus, luck would play a role into overall world-related mechanics, including weather.
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Re: Some ideas on 3D in Heroes that I hope modders will take up on.

Postby Karmakeld » Oct 31 2016, 18:10

Although I like the ideas, I think there's a big difference between real time strategy and turn based. Sure some of your ideas makes good sense, but how would you define time of day in a 1 day turn? Continuous daytime clock? Surely a day could be divided into a 6 or 12 min. or longer. The downside on short loops is you would likely wait a few minutes till time is in your favor, where long time loops could mean the opposite. Would time also continue during battle? The same goes for weather. I would it as a visual effect and it would make sense to have make impact like terrain, but unlike slopes it would be hard to calculate your battle out come, meaning some of those 'unforseen' conditions could be tide breakers - an easy battle suddenly caused major casualties. I know it's realistic, but could it work with turn based game play? Ages ago I played a bit of warhammer. You could climb a hill, it'd cost you movement but give extra range and advancement. In other words adding penalty to climb a hill, like certain terrain types, in exchange for bonus would be an interesting feature while still keeping an element of balance and strategy.
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Re: Some ideas on 3D in Heroes that I hope modders will take up on.

Postby Panda Tar » Oct 31 2016, 18:55

In turn based settings, night and day can be different turns, so you have, instead of whole day turns, day/night turns. It would be, in fantasy, the same of whole day turns. You would have lengthy battles once in a while in certain turns, whilst in others it wouldn't last that much. It's not mandatory both having the exact same real time, I reckon, specially because as the game drags on, mysteriously the turns (and the days) get longer and longer; and they still consume one turn.

As for weather, they can be calculated such as spells are: rounds in-battle. Depending on the severity of the weather, which can be caused even by spells, or global Luck, scripts. You could script on a snow-only map, for example, that on certain parts it would always have a blizzard tendency, which could be worse sometimes. Penalties (or bonuses) would all depend on who's wandering in there.

And ground level was basically something so adamantly important in battle strategies that I find odd not having it, as you pointed, high ground, lower ground. Even Dota has it. :D
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Re: Some ideas on 3D in Heroes that I hope modders will take up on.

Postby cjlee » Nov 1 2016, 6:37

I’m quite happy to discuss this, because I considered it also. I played some war games in the past, and realize that there can’t be perfect simulation of time on a turn based game, but we still can have a reasonably workable yet sophisticated simulation.

Firstly, a simulation will never be perfect. We don’t need perfect timing, so don’t worry about the ‘unrealistic’ aspects of my suggestion. To make everything too realistic, will be very difficult on the programmers and our own computers.

Time will be divided into broad categories like Predawn, Early Morning,

We will use hero movement to track all time. Lets say the combined total of all your heroes is 1000 movement points. AI tallies that at the start of your turn.

When the first 5% or 50 movement points are used up, the game clock should shift from Predawn to Early Morning. You cannot turn the game clock back, so you have to be wise about your troop movements.

If you have the full 8 heroes and don’t move anyone else, you might be able to move your main hero a reasonable distance before he launches a predawn attack. Just pretend that this means your main hero was doing some forced march through the night.
If you have one hero, you can only launch a predawn attack if your enemy ended his turn very near your hero. Sounds reasonable? You shouldn’t be able to force march halfway across the adventure map to launch a predawn attack, unless you have a portal handy or enemy was unfortunate enough to camp nearby.

Another 15% or 150 movement points bring you to late morning.
Another 150 to Noon.
150 to Early Afternoon.
150 to Late Afternoon.
150 to Evening.
The rest of the movement points, including all the extra movement points that you got during the day from various oases and rally flags, will be calculated as Night.

So if your troops are poor fighters at night, maybe you have to be wise, and don’t pick fights with neutral Dungeon stacks at night. Is that reasonable?


Time can be divided into several broad categories:

Predawn. This is the surprise attack phase, and throughout history, predawn attacks have worked very well because no matter how alert an army is, people are most sluggish around 4-6am.
Early morning. The modifiers are: direction of morning sun, and dew on grassy terrain making it slippery. The Undead are cold blooded, so they still move very sluggishly at this time and are super easy to kill.
Late morning. No special mods.
Noon. No mods. Underground races like Dungeon, H5 Fortress get penalized.
Early afternoon. No mods.
Late afternoon. Direction of afternoon sun makes a difference. Also troop performance may be impaired in deserts, implying heat. Undead gets no such penalty. H5 Academy has no problem; H7 Stronghold also not affected due to their desert/ badland native terrain.
Evening. No special mods.
Night. Darkness has fallen, so Dungeon and H5 Fortress gets bonus in fighting. Undead has no penalty as usual since they have no biological eyes. Everyone else gets penalty. Ranged is much less accurate at night, except for magical attacks.

For directionality, it is very simple. Use the adventure map as an indicator of direction, with North on top like most maps. If you approach a neutral stack from the right on the adventure map, you are attacking from the East. If you do that early in your turn ie when it is Early Morning, the enemy will have the morning sun in their eyes. Battle screen should be arranged accordingly.

If you want to besiege a castle in the late afternoon when the sun is in the eyes of their shooters, you need to spend most of your movement points first and the castle needs to be facing the West. If they have a North-South orientation naturally there will be no afternoon sun effect no matter what time you attack.

Likewise, if you are in the middle of the desert, your troop performance will be affected from noon onwards, unless your troops are native.

The only way to get rid of most special effects, is to have fights take place Indoors or in Urban Arenas. So it doesn’t matter what time you attack the Pyramid or Dragon Utopia for instance. Just assume that Sun, Temperature, Direction, Weather, etc. don’t matter.

Gradient should always be approximated. It is going to be impossible to do all kinds of silly calculations like 2 degree or 15 degree slope, so let’s just have broad categories also.

Flat
Slightly Sloping
Severe Slope

All terrain is assumed flat unless you are clearly on a hill. And it should be fairly obvious most of the time, whether this terrain is slightly sloping or severely sloping. In h7 in particular, gradient will be very obvious when your hero is moving up a slope to attack an enemy because your movement points really decrease fast.

I think it should be fair to say that, if you don’t want to attack a big neutral stack uphill, the best is to spend some movement points and approach it from higher ground instead. Game can reward wise commanders who spend the extra movement points to circle a hill and attack the enemy from above. That’s exactly how real life commanders win.

Likewise, game will now reward people who use their brains. The in-game auto risk assessment may tell you that a particular stack is Moderate Threat. Just like in real war, strategists may tell a general that his forces look ok, eg the French at Dien Bien Phu. But at Dien Bien Phu the Vietnamese unexpectedly grabbed the very high ground overlooking the French. The Viet Minh had to make serious efforts to dig tunnels through mountains and used a lot of manpower to drag artillery uphill through forests. This gave their shooters an enormous advantage.

So if a Heroes gamer spends half his movement points for the day just making a big circle around his enemy on a steep slope, he should be able to approach from higher ground. Then if he chooses to wait this hero on a square to the left/ West of the enemy, and spend the movement points of his other heroes, game clock moves to Late Afternoon. Now he attacks with afternoon sun in the enemy’s eyes. The game should reward his initiative and efforts by penalizing the enemy and giving him a fat bonus. Suddenly a stronger enemy turns out much more ineffective on the battlefield. Exactly like what the Viet Minh did to win at Dien Bien Phu.

Weather

To make it simple enough to execute, I think weather should be a Week thing. It is going to drive mapmakers like Jeff crazy to deal with whether it rains at a particular square 3 months into the game. It might make H5.5 slow down badly if we start defining that it Snows at a certain part of the map, and that it rains lava at other parts of the map, and that the wind is from direction x here and direction y there with speed z here and speed q there. Instead just let us have things like:

-Rainy Week, where all movement is slowed unless you are a Krakon or Naga or Basilisk or Pearl Princess.
-Week of Storm from the Northeast
-Week of Storm from the South
-Foggy Week
-Week of Blizzards
-Sunny Week. No penalties except in Desert areas where non-natives get movement penalty because they are too hot to move in the afternoon?
I think this Week bonus can coexist with other Week modifiers. EG week of the Hamster, week of Might and Magic, etc.

Etc.


I want to suggest making dramatic imbalances possible in Heroes. The same way they were possible in real battles. 13th century Mongols could travel 200-300km a day thanks to the massive use of cavalry and multiple horses over the steppes. A Mongol soldier could campaign all season, and not fall sick once.

20th century wars in Burma and Vietnam on the other hand, made progress at 3km a day because you couldn’t use vehicles and your troops had to wade through swamps. Your troops suffered all kinds of illnesses so half the time they were not fighting at peak capacity. So despite modern technology being so much better than 13th century, movement speed could still be penalized 99%.

The US was easily able to defeat an entrenched Iraqi army that vastly outnumbered them in 1991, because the terrain was suited for air warfare. Saddam Hussein had seriously spent money on his army for decades; Iraqi army was battle-tested and battle hardened, they had some of the best conventional forces around, and they were still trashed.

In contrast, the US outspent the North Vietnamese by over 200:1 and was still unable to win.

I have said many times on this forum that I don’t like scenarios made artificially hard by having super big stacks. That’s not really good mapmaking or designing, and runs the risk of giving the player millions of xp points after he figures out how to defeat the enemy. Even for a fantasy game it is laughable to think that the enemy can station legions of dragons to defend a single Dragon Utopia building.

I believe scenarios should be made more challenging by having realistic battleground considerations that make seemingly ‘weak’ opponents super strong. For instance, martial arts sects and orders in Chinese kung-fu epics are based on real stories of monks and hermits setting up mountain bases, and resisting bandits or government troops that greatly outnumbered them. On terrain like this http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... ntain.html you can defend against an enemy 100 times your size.

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Re: Some ideas on 3D in Heroes that I hope modders will take up on.

Postby Panda Tar » Nov 1 2016, 13:34

cjlee wrote:If you have the full 8 heroes and don’t move anyone else, you might be able to move your main hero a reasonable distance before he launches a predawn attack. Just pretend that this means your main hero was doing some forced march through the night.


What would that mean? You would have to move all your heroes a little one by one so not make them get too far behind in time given it doesn't return? :|

cjlee wrote:Flat
Slightly Sloping
Severe Slope


How would that work or look on the battlefield after engaging battle?

cjlee wrote:Weather

To make it simple enough to execute, I think weather should be a Week thing.


Endless Legends has seasons. I'm sure other strategy games also have, but the setting is quite interesting, although I haven't played EL for too long yet. Winter arrived while I was playing and it decreased food production, troops movement (which was already suffering penalties from terrains etc.), and units native to snow or so got bonuses. That's so simple and effective and open a broad of possibilities. Heroes could have such things as a more complex weather within seasons depending on map design. It's obvious that terrain and weather are related, so it's not like placing snow or a blizzard weather on desertic terrain. It should be, of course, option of map design setting seasons with base settings, something that would look like this:
  • SET SUMMER: yes - no
    humid
    storm
    clear
    dry
    etc
  • SET WINTER: yes - no
    humid
    dry
    blizzard :iceblock:
    storm
    etc

Weather would then behave accordingly and more unpredictably. It would also open opportunities for native heroes read signs of the changing weather, being able to take measures beforehand of upcoming days. Some units would also sense that, before a major change. An inexperienced hero or exotic troop on a certain region would be gotten completely by surprise by native weather effects and suffer accordingly. And that season/weather setting would leave map designers free also to make a free-of-variables map as well, just setting a same season of clear day all year. :panda:

cjlee wrote:I want to suggest making dramatic imbalances possible in Heroes.


Yeah, that. :tsup:

I found out that Multiplayer, in spite of helping integrating players all around and having its parcel of fun, also makes games like these a bit too generic. All this balancing tosh makes it much harder to create unique factions which are not bound to similar platform when being created. I think all this started in H3, when every faction had all units upgradable, all 7th tier were somehow leveled in strength ... H2 had much more appeal imho, given that humans were humans, numerous as they were to fight less numerous e super expensive dragons. All economies in Heroes generated the same amount of gold ... with very few exceptions. :drama:

So it's hard coming to a point whether reasoning with a Multiplayer feature in mind due balancing issues. :canthear:
Last edited by Panda Tar on Nov 1 2016, 13:35, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Some ideas on 3D in Heroes that I hope modders will take up on.

Postby Karmakeld » Nov 1 2016, 18:48

Relating daytime to movement would be a wise choice. I can see that making sense compared to timer. But like Panda points out, does half of your heroes just stand still for half the day or do you move each hero a few tiles at a time, in an attempt to maximize the effect of any morning/daytime bonuses. I don't think the alternative of having each hero start at morning time is a good solution, could easily get confusing.

I like how you suggest a few categories of elevation and bonus/penalties for each. If elevation could be added to the combat screen that would be neat and make any penalties or bonuses more obvious.

About weather conditions I like Panda Tar's suggestions. From a map makers point of view it would be nice to be able to enable/disable some or even mark an area - like event markers - and set a likelihood of that weather event occurring and/or a ratio of how often. Say 20% chance of a blizzard when entering a given area or once a week. You could have certain neutral battles always taking place in a blizzard. This would increase the challenge without having to increase the amount of creatures. I agree with you cj, on that point. It would be nice to be able to offer challenges in other ways than just huge stacks. Sure skills and spells etc are ways, but keeping xp down prolongs the game (to me it seems weird you have to start at level 1, in the 2nd map of a H7 campaign, simply coz level progress is too fast - it takes away some of the development part campaigns offer in my optic).

And speaking of real life tactics/strategies/events, I'm watching a serie about old British castles. They showed on castle that had such clever design, you could defend it, from it towers, needing only a group of like 28 men against many hundreds laying siege. That is indeed unbalanced but it shows what strategy or design can mean.
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Re: Some ideas on 3D in Heroes that I hope modders will take up on.

Postby Kalah » Nov 1 2016, 20:46

How did this end up in the News forum? :??

Topic moved to Modcrafting Guild.
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Re: Some ideas on 3D in Heroes that I hope modders will take up on.

Postby cjlee » Nov 3 2016, 15:55

I know I’d posted my ‘last post’ earlier, but I got some new inspirations so I’ll contribute them here. I very seriously hope my ideas will be taken up.


Firstly, to fix the ridiculous Initiative system.


I’m tired of the nonsense where mass haste, leadership and divine guidance (or some other equivalent such as Order of the Chief) allows an army to take infinite actions.


I can accept that hasted blood furies can make 4-8 attacks before slowed hydras and zombies make a move. What I can’t accept, is that they can make 50 attacks when the enemy makes 5. There is such a thing as stamina. There is such a thing as running out of juice.


Anyone served in the military before? I’m sure you understand this concept. It is no big deal to run a klick in ten minutes with your rifle and battle webbing/ magazines. Run to the next position, take cover and shoot. Any 19 year old can do that.


Try doing the same ten times in the next 2 hours. Your speed gets progressively slower.


Try doing the same another forty times throughout the day. Whoever can do that, automatically qualifies for special forces. Most people can’t do this, which is why most infantry officers won’t ask their soldiers to fight like this. Or the battlefront would shift 50 kilometers in a day.


Now try this another fifty times throughout the night. Watch as Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarznegger, The Rock and every action hero collapse in exhaustion.


Realistically, your super blood furies can never keep up their attacks for long. Not only do they run out of stamina – but their knives get blunted and must be sharpened. Similarly, Cerberi claws and teeth get worn down. I can see them launching 5 attacks for the first two that their enemies make. But a lenghty battle where they attack 50 times against an enemy?


Real wars run out of juice. World War 1 would have stalmated in the trenches if not for a massive resource and manpower boost from the United States entering the war. Three major wars in our lifetimes, the Iran-Iraq war, the China-Vietnam war and the Ethiopia-Eritrea war, also stalmated in the trenches because neither side had the resources to launch an attack sufficient to overcome the other.


I remember one Akira Kurosawa film that was thought to handle realism very well: Stray Dog. It was set, and indeed shot, during a humid summer heatwave. The main characters visibly got more exhausted as time went by, and far from being heroic and dramatic, the climax was more exhausting and desperate. But despite the lack of cool effects and dramatic heroism, I could not but help think: yup, this is how a real police chase between two real people in extreme heat + humidity looks like.


Troops should not be able to keep up high initiative throughout a lengthy battle. That’s nonsense. Even mechanical troops will slow down if given enough time. For instance: the Iranian air force in the Iran-Iraq war. It started very strong, but deteriorated over the years of the war due to poor maintenance and inability to source parts from the United States. So Iranian air attacks on Iraq decreased in frequency and intensity over time, while their accuracy fell off and casualties rose.


So another way of handling initiative to prevent overpowering, is to consider stamina as a modifier. Low initiative troops could be assumed to have high stamina instead. Initiative for living troops drops by 1 with every 2 attack or defend or cast spell actions, while it falls by 1 with every 8 actions if you are undead or mechanical. That would be very reasonable. After 20 actions, a hasted battle griffin’s initiative drops from 20 to 10. If battle continues another 8 rounds, battle griffin will have initiative of 6 even when hasted. In contrast, when the hasted Griffin makes 28 actions, the slowed Zombie or Golem would have made only 3-4 actions, so they are still at initiative 6. After this point the Griffins can no longer take more actions than the Zombie even if it was hasted while the Zombie was slowed.


Furthermore heroes are living things. Their initiative also slows. We’re not going to see a repeat of the H3 abusive nonsense where a Sprite can fly all over the battlefield, repeatedly attacking the enemy ad infinitium. Your exhausted Griffins cannot fly in circles to avoid the Zombie while your hero attacks, because your hero’s initiative has also fallen. Now everyone is tired and barely able to keep ahead of the plodding zombies. Does this make sense?


In contrast, undead, elemental (summoned, but not gated) and mechanical units should lose initiative very slowly. Such as my 1 for 8 actions suggestion above.



Secondly, to fix the no-supplies needed nonsense


All Heroes games are predicated on the notion that supply is unnecessary. You don’t need to supply food, fresh clothing, ammo, etc to your troops.


Playing as a kid I can accept this. As an older man, I can’t. And I won’t play any war game where basic notions like logistics and resupply are missing.


Blizzard did it very well in Warcraft 3. At low troop levels you get no tax, modest troop levels you get 30% tax on income, high troop levels you get 60% tax on income. Sure, it is artificial, but at least they demonstrate understanding of this concept. Their taxation system is not perfect but it is a big step towards reality.


Let me suggest some supply and resupply notions. They might be implementable in Heroes 7 because the area of control system is already hard coded. Or they could be implemented in other Heroes versions using AI calculations of Hero distance from nearest town, probably the same code that calculates the nearest town for Town Portal/ Town Gate purposes.


Your army should drain gold at the rate of (number of days from nearest town) x (1xtier 1 + 2xtier2 + 3xtier3... 7xtier7). IE tier 7 troops are assumed to need more resources to feed and maintain, and the further you are from an owned town the more it will cost to ferry fresh supplies to you.


A consideration like this won’t affect a relatively small and mobile army of, say, 40 tier 4 units 3 days from your home castle. That’s 360 gold, a fraction of town income.


However, it would make a difference to people who accumulate legions of troops. Wanna campaign with 1000 soldiers averaging tier 3 in the middle of the desert 10 days away from nearest castle? You gotta have an income of 30,000 gold or troops start deserting.



When your hero is on board a ship, assume that all supplies are automatically stored on board. Typically boats can store a lot of supplies, and most heroes aren’t going to stay on a ship for months anyway, so we can dispense with this calculation. The same way you can’t teleport to any town when you are in a boat.


I really hope some modder out there agrees with me. Troop upkeep makes sense. It is extremely significant in real life considerations. As my example of General Zuo Zhongtang’s Xinjiang campaign shows, a general needs to keep his troop supply in mind in order to win. General Zuo knew he was going to campaign in the desert, so he organized a modest sized army, billeted his troops in separate settlements to avoid overtaxing local resources, set up supply depots at many places before he began his campaign. And even in his campaign, most engagements were fought with a small fraction of his total force so as to conserve resources.


Another example of economic considerations for troop upkeep is the Opium War. Many people do not understand what went on behind this war that led to an unexpected British victory. During this period, it was not as if the Chinese government was unaware of the British threat. And China had 10x the GDP of Britain proper. But the Chinese lost on home ground because of economic considerations:


1) the British raised money for this war via war bonds. (Of course they were able to pay for this war because they extorted lots of silver from China after winning)


2) the Chinese had poor revenue gathering at this point. China did not have an income tax. The Chinese system was still reliant on regressive taxes like tax on salt, which means that while the Chinese economy had grown a lot since the early days of the Manchu empire, the revenues had grown moderately only.


3) the Manchus were unable to spend money on a navy, because they already had substantial upkeep considerations. As foreigners in China, they were concerned about local rebellions. So they kept a standing army of 600,000 garrisoned in cities all over China. These were lifelong soldiers and their families, and their upkeep was a huge expense. They could not be withdrawn to fight elsewhere, let alone retrained as sailors, out of the same fear of uprisings. As the Chinese economy grew prosperous, these urban troops and their families required higher upkeep – paid for by the same regressive taxes on salt that didn’t grow as much as the cost of living.


Just think about how costly it would be for the United States Army if their troops were billeted in NYC and LA to discourage riots, rather than in rural Texas and South Carolina. Salaries would have to triple when moving between rural Texas and NYC, and funds would be diverted from the US Navy. And if USA had no income tax but relied on sugar and Coca-Cola taxes to fund its military...


4) the Ottoman Empire also had a substantial problem with upkeeping their troops the Janissaries. It was a parallel problem to the Manchu-Chinese problem, because when the UK navy started harassing the Ottoman Empire, the Turks did not have resources to spend on strengthening their navy.


Thirdly, to fix the Logarithmic Growth nonsense



I’ve always been annoyed that challenge in Heroes means fighting boss heroes with Legions of Tier 7. Realistically most historical antagonists were never that ridiculously numerous. You have supply problems, the boss enemy also has supply problems. Even Kha Beleth needs to eat. You can’t feed legions of archdevils if all you own is one castle in the middle of nowhere.


Genghis Khan was often outnumbered by his opponents, for instance. Napoleon’s Grand Armee was outnumbered by the Russians, both regular and irregular. What made Genghis win and Napoleon lose, was logistics. The entire Mongol nation followed Genghis Khan and was used to camping on the steppe, so he always had a supply of meat, milk, hides and blacksmiths. The Chinese, Indians, Persians, Russians, Arabs, Turks and Tibetans who outnumbered Genghis Khan didn't have resources mobilized to support a moving army.

Napoleon’s forces were dressed for summer and had not prepared supply trains of food and clothing thinking they could get them from urban Russia, so even though Russians considered the winter of 1812 ‘relatively mild’, 90% of French casualties died of cold and starvation.


I would like to see boss heroes calibrated more smartly, rather than by sticking an extra zero to the end of his troop stack numbers. Everyone should get morale penalties, terrain speed penalties, health penalties, when operating far from home. That way when you are confronting the Boss Enemy, you have -2 morale, -2 luck, -20% health, -2 speed, -20% initiative. If the mapmaker did not already design a battlefield intended to be as challenging to you as possible, a script could read your troop strength when you are within a day’s march of his castle, and the enemy would be randomly allocated troop strength on par with yours. Then how you beat the AI would be through overcoming your disadvantages.


Real life challenge: taking the Panjshir valley. The Soviets tried NINE times. They outnumbered the Mujahidin, they had all the armour, they had total air superiority, they had far more financial and technical resources. And they still could not take Panjshir. Even trucking in supplies was so risky, that they were making truck drivers Heroes of the Soviet Union for a successful supply run. Soviet generals started with education, technical expertise and battlefield experience, so they had Expert Leadership. The Mujahidin started as farmhands and religious students, not genius warriors. But thanks to other factors, Soviet morale was always low, they were on non native terrain, they had lowered health due to the altitude, etc.


Four: no more crazy numbers and crazy growth


I suggest that we end the system of automatic log growth. 1 dragon guarding a narrow mountain pass turns into a legion after a year? Come on. The mountain can’t hold enough food to supply a legion of dragons. There isn’t enough space for them to roost. This is not bacteria in a petri dish that we’re talking about.


There are different ways to make this more challenging. For instance, the dragons could be changed to assassins, and listed as an ambush unit. IE you know that there are assassins in the vicinity and can see them on the adventure map, but you don’t know exactly where they are on the battlefield. When battle starts they are not always facing you in a line. Sometimes they pop up behind your lines and are able to poison your troops at close range. Sometimes they have even cast landmines/ fire traps/ quicksand in advance, and you only know when you are hit.


You must fight the assassins to advance through the mountain pass. So fine, your army is bigger anyway. You WILL make it through. But here’s the real life challenge – minimizing casualties. The British, the Soviets and the US all had this problem in Afghanistan.


If the assassins are an ambush unit, they start with 2x their normal initiative. This guarantees casualties on your side. It’s going to take everything you have as a leader, to minimize casualties. Now this is honest, real to life challenge that real generals face. No more theoretical 17th century chivalric warfare where people line up nicely in brightly coloured uniforms to shoot at each other across an open field. Why should the dark elf dungeon faction line up obligingly for Sylvan hunters?


Normal boring battles with the enemy standing in a line, gives you x experience.

Ambushes should give 2-3x as much experience, since they are designed to give you casualties.


I don’t want to see boss enemies boosted by Legions and Zillions of units anymore. It’s childish and crude gamemaking. The Taliban isn’t numerous, it isn’t rich, it isn’t educated and it has no access to US technology and information capabilities. But after 15 years the United States hasn’t been able to beat them. This is one real-life awesome boss enemy.


Five: more dynamic battlefields


Heroes of Might and Magic is over 20 years old by now. And we still have no dynamic battlefield? Come on, if it’s raining, battleground turns to slush. If North Wind is blowing in winter, people freeze. If you cast meteor shower, ground is covered in craters. If you’re crossing a frozen river, ice breaks after many people step on it. Things change because of actions.


I don’t think we can change the current H1-7 battlegrounds, because they are probably hard coded. But I notice H5.5 was able to create a few new battlegrounds. I think there is a potential for temporary obstacles. Maybe battleground obstacles such as blade barriers and arcane crystals and hives can be cast, as part of the simulated natural obstacles? After all, realistic battles have been interrupted before when one side runs into a barbed wire fence, or encounters concertina wire, or hits a beehive.


I wish we could do away with the artificial Heroes battlefield lineup. I no longer want to play that, because it is so unnatural. When the Taliban, or ISIS, or Syrian rebels, or Chechen rebels, or South Sudanese warring factions, or Colombian FARC, or Philippine Mindanao insurgents, or Pakistan-supported anti-India insurgents, or Kurdish PKK separatists, or Armenian irregulars in Nargono Karabakh, or Russian little green men in Donetsk, or any of the current conflict belligerents on this planet actually line up and fight, I may change my mind. But realistically conflict should happen anywhere, on irregular battlefields, and with the enemy holding varied positions not in a straight line.


It would be too hard to script insurgents and IEDs on the adventure map, but at least we could create mods where you open the battle screen with the enemy positioned at different points on the battlefield? The gravestone in the middle of the screen (a feature from H3 WoG) could spawn zombies unexpectedly. Chaos hydras could emerge from a pond near you. Elves could shoot from the cover of a nearby forest, enjoying no ranged penalty while your forces return fire with 1/2 accuracy.


By having battlefields like that, we can fight challenging battles against opponents who do not outnumber us to ridiculous degrees. I no longer want to go back to Heroes 3, and blind/ mass slow 10000 chaos hydras, teleporting them back occasionally, while my forces shoot nonstop with ammo cart support, until I have destroyed the hydras and gotten a dozen level ups that I never deserved. I think it would be much more challenging for a general to deal with a battle where 3 Chaos Hydras popped up suddenly and charged into the midst of his army, inflicting casualties and chaos, buying time for the rest of the enemy to march across the battlefield.

Now this is the kind of leveling up United States army officers had to do in Iraq. Your troops can be passing a bazaar, and suddenly the lead humvee is blown up. Next a couple of suicide cars ram your troop column at the middle and back and blow up, after which a dozen militants fire from different directions and your troops, separated into 2 segments with loss of commanding officer, have to fire back. You don't get promoted fast after battles like this, but it is still way more challenging than bombing fixed Iraqi army positions.



In conclusion, let me bring up the fact that I recently downloaded and played the H5.5 mod. It is a good mod, no doubt about it. I recommend it to everyone. But I also totally deinstalled it and Heroes V yesterday.


Ultimately I am a man on the wrong side of forty. While playing Heroes, I realize that I can no longer accept childish standards in my gaming. As good as it was, the H5.5 mod reinforced my understanding that this is all a game. The theoretical intellectual challenge has worn thin because the theory is insufficient. I played Heroes of Might and Magic for half my life, from H1 to H7, and now the time has come to either grow out of this game, or to suggest (and persuade) modders to make this a better game.


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