The Scoring System
The recent start of Round Table Battles pumped a wave of enthusiasm into
Heroes IV players. Now we have a nice competition anyone can join, no matter how
good a connection or how much patience he or she has -- we can play in the
comfort of our homes, whenever we have time, so there's no worry about whether
an opponent will be available online. The goal: to get as many points as
possible, without using any cheat. How do we fulfill the goal? This article
presents my ideas on the subject, with the map Hero Wanted as a case study.
In maps such as Hero Wanted, a favorable
initial setup is critical to getting a high score.
The scoring system has evolved drastically throughout the Heroes series. In H2 a
final score was based solely on map difficulty and time to complete a map.
Heroes 3 improved the formula to take into account the number of cities owned,
the grail and all enemies destroyed. Heroes 4 went even further, as the final
score is based on no less than 11 variables: Player's chosen difficulty, map
difficulty, time taken, battles won, army strength, wealth, quests completed,
artifacts gathered, completeness of exploration, best hero and towns owned (as
shown at the end of any scenario). They are further modified by map size and
possibly other factors as well. It is important to realize HOW these variables
affect final score:
- Player and map difficulty form the basis of a score. Simply put, the higher
the difficulty the higher the basic score.
- Time to complete a map is another major factor. For every (even partial)
week you spend in game the basic score decreases. It's important to note that
the decrease is not linear, that after the first week you lose far more points
than after the second. Curiously enough, there doesn't seem to be any score
reduction during 5th to 8th weeks (the second month), after that the score
decreases linearly until it reaches zero. Which means that playing on highest
difficulty might not be to your advantage after all - Champion gives you a
higher basic score, but also a higher rate of decrease - eventually an expert
will get more points than champion (the same is true for other difficulties,
- All the other variables act as a modifier to the time-based score. Each
adds anything between zero and [maximum] bonus points to your score, based on
the value of the variable. It is obvious you want to have as much Wealth as
possible, but from the point of view of points, once you reach a certain value,
anything more won't improve your score - you would be better off with investing
that Treasure Chest towards your experience (i.e. towards your Best Hero). The
maximum scores are: 72 for battles won, 24 for army value, 48 for wealth, 96 for
quests, 76 for artifacts, 12 for exploration, 76 for hero and 120 for towns.
- Note that battles won and quests completed only count since the last Load.
Any time you load a game, these variables are reset to zero. Contrary to popular
belief it doesn't mean you have to complete a map in one go to get top points -
it simply means that you must fight just enough battles and complete enough
quests between the last load and the victory. As the points for battles are
awarded based on battle difficulty, it can simply mean you have to win just one
battle - as long as the computer considers that battle impossible to win.
Hero Wanted Tips
What are the guidelines to getting the top score, then? First and foremost,
you must be able to win a given map. If you don't win, you don't get any points.
When you start, make sure the setup is favorable enough to be worth playing.
Open up the map in editor, locate the goal, then focus on all critical points on
your path from the humble beginning to the victory. In Hero Wanted, there are
... such points:
- At [49,23] a stack of level 1 creatures is blocking
your path to the rest of the map. Level 1 are weak, you say? Right, unless
your hero is low-level as well and you are playing on higher difficulties.
Hundreds of tiny buggers can overwhelm even the best player.
- At [50,34] and [55,50] two level-3 stacks stand in
your way. The second one probably won't by that critical, though, as to get
there you will have to pass...
- ... an army of level-4s at [33,14 underground]
- The fourth critical point is not a combat, but a
quest: To pass to the eastern part of the map, you must have Master
Leadership. Fortunatelly there's a quest hut that will give you GM Leadership
in exchange for 30,000 GP.
- Finally, there's a sizable level-3 stack at [16,50]
What you need to do is to decide how to pass through these critical points,
then restart as many times as you need to get a good setup (restart, save,
uncover the map through a cheat, decide, turn the cheat off, load/restart).
Consider that level-4 army: You can't sneak past it, you will have to defeat it.
Can you do it? Do you need some special skills or spells to do so? If you do, it
would be wise to focus on researching the possibility of getting the
skills/spells, and if it is possible, on making sure you do get them. If you
can't think of a way, restart -- next time there might be different guardians in
a different setup, and you might be able to pass easily. For example, defeating
a band of Titans and a band of Dragon Golems might be impossible, but defeating
scores of Cavaliers instead might be much more feasible - as long as you get
Slow or Fatigue. Can't get these spells? Restart, the next guardians might not
Now you have a setup you can live with. But is it really the best one? Look
at the beginning: There are two treasure chests there, a witch hut, a
beastmaster's hut and a blacksmith. Do you really want to play if you only get
1000 XP in those chests, when you could easily have 3000 XP with just a few more
restarts? How about the skill selection in those huts? And wouldn't it be
beneficial to restart a few times to find a Potion of Immortality available at
the blacksmith's? Those would surely help you defeating the guardians of the
critical points identified in the previous step...
Finally you have a setup we can win and actually want to play. How do you go
about it? By definition of the contest you want to get as many points as
possible. Look again at the variables that influence your score - you want to
find a way that will not only lead to victory, but also maximize these
variables. First and foremost, you don't want to waste time. You want to take
the shortest route whenever possible, unless a short detour makes it up in the
long run - it might be beneficial "wasting" a few days getting the Equestrian
Gloves, as those will supply enough movement points throughout the rest of the
map to make the trip worthwhile. The same is true for the hoards of gold near
the very end of the game - you might waste a few days, but you will make up for
it with wealth and best hero... It might not be worth it to dig for all oracle
treasures - a Rinf of Regeneration I got at one oracle was certainly worth it,
but did a Scale Mail of Strength really give me enough edge to overcome a day of
travelling there and another day of digging? (It's an academic question in my
case, as I managed to get it and still win in 8 weeks, so a few days less
wouldn't really do anything for me...)
Well, that's about it, really. Well, except for knowing the tricks to use
against AI to win, of course. Perhaps I'll write something about them in a
future article, though it's quite difficult to tell about them in a way that's
understandable to "the uninitiated" :-). Focus on the deficiencies of AI against
certain spells or tactical moves (e.g. castle sieges, though that won't happen
all that often in Hero Wanted :-)), as well as "exploits" of the game engine
(e.g. the preferrence of using wait-attack-attack-repeat tactics to
attack-repeat, or the advantages of E Melee over E Combat in some situations and