The Round Table Proposal

Part 3: Heroes and Combat
by Sir Timotheus

 Asking Heroes fans to agree on whether Heroes should participate in combat directly or stay on the sidelines is like asking the world to agree upon a single religion. Thus, on the Round Table Forum, a twenty-one page discussion resulted from the asking of a single request: Please post your views on the Hero’s role in combat.
 Due to the approximately equal number of people who sided for each option, I cannot say which has supporters, and I won’t let my biases affect this article. I will post some views from each side.

Keep Heroes in Combat

Dalai: “Heroes, as the core part of the game, should be able to perform all the possible functions. And Heroes definitely should fight alongside their troops. And there definitely must be an option to have more than one Hero in each army.”
PeteusMax: “I found HOMM IV's heroes on the battlefield much more interesting than HOMM III’s on the sidelines. They became more a part of things, and added to battle tactics because of the need to protect them. In HOMM III, both opponents would have one very powerful hero, and army building was about who could load up with the most powerful stacks of creatures. In HOMM IV, you also had to consider how many of those stacks to replace with heroes, and balance the desire to have heroes with various specialties in your army, and the need to keep powerful stacks of creatures along too.”
Sermil: “I liked Heroes on the battlefield, myself. It added a lot of strategy to the game; a lot of new options. I don’t mind combat-heavy heroes being able to take on multiple black dragons – such is the stuff of legends. (How many knights – champions – could Lancelot beat in combat, you think?) And don’t forget that combat-heroes need to be balanced against magic heroes with their high level summonings and implosions.”

Get Heroes out of Combat

Campaigner: “I want a functioning system where Immortality Potions don't exist and where creatures are the important ones! The utterly failed heroes-in-battle attempt known as Heroes IV went for an RPG style of play while Heroes 1-3 was strategy oriented. We all saw the result...”
JSnake8: “I think that the Heroes V should be more like the In the Wake of Gods expansion. The main hero should not be able to cast attack magic but rather only magic that will improve their troops’ abilities. The commander will then be on the field and cast spells or attack based on their skills. This also helps the gameplay in that a higher leveled hero's stats will still relate to his troops, unlike Heroes IV, in which their stats only counted for themselves and a slightly larger army would still be able to knock out the majority of your troops.”
Apeman: “My major point would be that it never felt 'real' to me in Heroes IV; I know -what's the point of reality in fantasy - but hear me out. A hero should be beside an army for morale, and yes it would be better for morale if the hero would fight, but what if the hero dies? In that situation, the morale should lower to such a point that your army just runs away. I never liked the ‘Hero on the Battlefield’ idea the first time it was introduced, and I strongly agree with John Van Caneghem.”

Strike a Happy Medium

Veldrynus: “The heroes should participate in combat just like in H4, but their offensive skills should be greatly reduced. It's not logical if a single hero can do 3000 damage to a black dragon. The spell casting system in H4 was good enough. Maybe the heroes could have less spell points.”
Dragon Angel : “The two principal and objective problems with heroes on the battlefield are: Heroes of low level or without combat may die easily, especially vs. certain tactics; and Hero-only armies… when heroes reach certain level, especially with the aid of combat skills and potions of immortality, they may be able to handle great armies by themselves, thus making creatures nearly unimportant. A possibly simple solution for these problems, based on the Heroes IV system, might be: 1) Increase base hit points (Even low level heroes should be able to resist an attack from a stack of a few top-level creatures) and 2) Implement a capturing system (Hero(es) without an army (attacked when alone, or that lose all the army in the battle) is/are immediately captured by the enemy/killed by neutrals).
Lwaren: “I propose that heroes be allowed to be either on the battlefield or off the battle, with benefits and consequences to both. If the hero is off the battlefield, for example, they might not provide any Morale or tactical bonuses, but if they are on the battlefield, they are in danger of being attacked and slain/knocked unconscious. If properly balanced, I think this system would work best.”
Lampeskjerm: “My idea to make this possible is that every army consists of 8 slots, in which you can place creatures and heroes in 7 of them. The last slot is a special "hero" slot, in which you can only place a hero, and this hero will act like the Heroes from Heroes I, II, and III. If you only have one hero and nothing else in your army, you cannot place a hero in the hero slot. In battle, the hero in the hero slot may step down from the horse, but then he cannot go back up. If you have no creatures left, the hero steps down automatically.”
Light Daemon : “I rather have no heroes in combat, but since this is not what's going to happen, then allow me to discuss one more point: If you have a Barbaric hero/heroine, allow them to have a sidekick who knows some magic to defend him/her from the troubles of the wandering monsters/enemies.”
GhostWriter: “Every hero of a given level, whether Might or Magic, must be able to survive against a certain level of force applied to them. If you say, for example, a Might hero at 20th level, shouldn't be able to kill 20 black dragons alone (which means he'd die against them), but should be able to kill say, 5 black dragons (where he'd barely survive against them), then that hero won't be able to survive against the sizes of forces that normally appear later in a game, which is where that hero will be by the time he reaches 20th level.”
Squiv: “If the hero is to be on the field you must abstract his hit points and think of it as total survivability and not just a physical body. Maybe the simplest thing is to separate strength from hit points. Hit points can grow independent of a skill like combat. That way a thief may not do much damage in combat, but his quick reflexes as he levels up will make his hp climb. Also a mage may not have a great melee attack, but his intellect will make it hard to score a killing blow. It does not matter how you rationalize the effect.”


Lord Haart : “Combat could well be ditched, and instead, Ubi could place more emphasis on tactics and nobility (in my opinion, nobility should affect morale, as true leaders can inspire people).”

Pretty much every possible side has been presented. With the wealth of options available to Ubisoft, most fans are confident that a balanced and enjoyable system will result, whether combat involves direct Hero intervention or not. On a side note, most (but not all) supporters of Heroes out of combat are those who disliked Heroes IV, and most (but not all) supporters of Heroes in combat are those who enjoyed the game. 

Check out the full discussion about heroes and combat here.