HOMM3 Guide - Game strategies and tips

A guide that contains all general tricks and rules that apply to all classes.
  1. Exploring your vicinity

    In most cases it is very wise to purchase at least one more hero to your starting one. Of course, if you have an observation tower in front of your castle and can see from there that all ways out are blocked by some stronger armies and you only have a little space to explore, a second hero won't be needed... yet.

    1. Main advantages of twoor-more-heroes exploration:
      1. In early stage - that 'round the castle' exploration - you will usually profit from having two heroes by having more goodies gathered quicker. Applies to mines, resources, artifacts and even the fact of uncovering the map. [More heroes can be used, if your financial situation seems good and exploration is possible. These guys usually pay back quite soon.]
      2. Further in the game, when you assemble a task force strong enough to go after your enemy, a second guy in backup can be used for several things:
        • takes care of resources, mines and full exploration of conquered land (here I often purchase new heroes at conquered castles, because within a few days the money is back in resources from taken mines.)
        • holds backup armies for your main hero
        • can build up quite solid experience
        • can take out some of the wandering armies
        • can take care of some minor enemy heroes/towns

    2. How to select your primary/secondary hero?
      With the exception of necromancer, there's no need at all to use a hero corresponding with the castle class (and even with the necro castle, you should consider buying another type if there's not any large quantities of skeleton reserves (aka 1stlevel troops) scattered around the map). However, a hero aligned to your starting castle will bring in troops that could be of use! Sometimes (when a ranger comes with two stacks of dwarves or a necro with walking dead) you may ignore this benefit. So, how to make your choice?

      1. Primary hero/castle: Since both might and magic heroes exist in each castle and every hero is unique, choosing primary castle and primary hero is quite complicated. First, for the castles:
        • Castle: Balanced troops, rather slow, more emphasis on the top troops.
        • Rampart: Rather fast troops, good specials, best 1stlevel troop.
        • Tower: Good specials, strong 7thlevel troop, numerous 1stlevel.
        • Stronghold: Offensive troops, cheap 7thlevel troop. Good 5thlevel.
        • Fortress: Defensive troops, nasty specials - dangerous 7thlevel troop.
        • Dungeon: Rather offensive troops, best 2ndlevel troop. Black dragons ;-)
        • Inferno: Offensive troops with two non-retaliated attacks and good specials.
        • Necropolis: Good specials, cover of darkness structure.

        Second, for the heroes:
        I prefer might heroes to the magic ones, because in most cases the might ones still get some experience in magic. Might heroes can develop magic schools, and since bigger armies benefit more from misc. spells than from damage spells, with the only exception being Armageddon ;-), might heroes should be better in the long run, when they can get enough spellpower and knowledge to be able to cast Bless, Slow or Haste every now and then.
        Necromancer may be worth it if large amounts of skeleton producing wandering armies are located nearby - the recruited skeletons make excellent garrison troops.
        My usual practice is to hire a might hero (unless I have access to some high-level magic and/or magic skills boosting structures and artifacts) and concentrate the experience with him. In many cases I manage to get Wisdom, so I can use some good spells from captured castles. In fact, probability of not getting wisdom for might hero is next to zero.
        There are only two situations where a strong magic hero is better: Both of them are based on Fire spells. One of them is Armageddon, but that requires the magic hero to also have some spell-resistant unit. The other one is Berzerker at Expert level. With it, up to 5 armies are often forced to fight each other and the only solution will be mass Cure or Dispel.
        Direct damage spells (maybe except Armageddon) aren't a big threat, because with large armies the damage caused by those can be compensated by supportive spells on your troops - with big enough armies, MassBless beast ChainLightning. (Of course, you need an expert magic school for that...)

        Getting secondary skills:
        CheckWay ofparticular class to see which skills suit the best your troops and strategies.
        There are some general rules to follow. See description of advanced skills below for most of them. Many of the skills are just generally good (Luck, Leadership) while others are case-specific (Mysticism, Wisdom, Logistics, Ballistics) where the conditions cover anything from Map size, number of castles, type of main hero, type of most used troops, amounts of resources available and all other things up to terrain types.
        Of course, the hero class is very important. I.e. Leadership, Offense and Archery provide much better advantage to Might Heroes, whose troop damage ratings (that profit from their skills) are generally high. On the other hand, for a spell caster skills like Expert Wisdom are a must, because those expand his strong features.

      2. Secondary hero:
        [In the following, percentages for level advancement are averaged for heroes with 20 levels! The advancement in first 9 levels is a bit different, generally with more emphasis towards the skills native to that hero. So that barbarians get 55% levels on attack below level 10 and only 30% later... yet I used the averaged number.]
        1. Defensive purposes:
          For castle garisson with troops that will do little apart from just standing behind the walls while the towers shoot the enemy, BeastMasters are the best, with 45% of their advancements going into Defense Skill, followed by Rangers, Knights and other might heroes.
          However, if your castle troops are bound to use offense (i.e. shooters, fast flyers or tough walkers), you might care for a barbarian with 43% of levels gained raising his attack. But, on the other hand, if the castle you're defending has a mage guild with some supportive spells (namely Cure/Dispel), you might try to get a hero with some knowledge to be able to remove negative spells like Blind.
        2. Offensive purposes:
          If you need the hero to become another primary hero, you already know the algorithm for choosing primary heroes.
        3. Miscellaneous (aka secondary) purposes:
          The true secondary hero should be of some use. A scout/picker should have fast troops. Check the hero recruitment for details - you're looking for Logistics, Pathfinding and/or scouting, especially for those guys that will peddle troops to front lines.

        Since the heroes now have different secondary skills, there is no recommendation like 'I usually take warlocks'... however, there are several all-round good picks:
        • Caitlin, Clavius, Octavia, Nagash, Damacon, Jenova, Aine and Lord Haart are moneymakers (all get +350/day, only Haart has Basic Estates with 5% bonus, so he'll need a few levels...)
        • Thane with Advanced Scholar makes a good spell-transporter, but there are others with basic scholar - a few learning stones or trees of knowledge will be on almost every map.
        • Voy is the super-sea scout with navigation and 5% bonus.
        • Deemer has Advanced Scouting - a good pick for early exploration.
        • Rissan, Calid, Saurug and Sephinroth produce 1 magic resource per day, each different. Remember that 25 days with this hero will pay back with a few marketplaces, if you don't need the resource.

        Also remember that the two-hero strategy doesn't implicate use of ONLY two heroes, but AT LEAST two heroes. The larger the map, the more heroes may be used. Generally in L or XL maps, at least one secondary guy should have aggressive ambitions, should visit all the skill boosts and pick good secondary skills, because his time will always come.
        The so-called backup guy should be taking his share of experience. Especially later, when the main hero will need large amounts of experience to advance, it's usually better to let the chests and minor battles to the backup guy, because he'll profit them much more. The only exception should be the case when the main guy desperately NEEDS to upgrade some advanced skills.)
        The main purposes of the backup guy are carrying reinforcements, killing minor enemies and wandering armies and sometimes possibly softening up enemy resistance, even at the cost of sacrificing himself.
        If the secondary hero survives, he might often 'inherit' all the main hero's armies - especially if you happen to capture enemy castle with some 7th level troops left inside unpurchased. In that case the main hero buys all the big guys and those often carry more firepower that his entire regular army. In this moment, the backup guy becomes sort of another main hero and at those moments you really appreciate that you've already let him to get some levels.)
        [Or, if he's still pretty weak, you might consider giving HIM the dragons, who tend to take minimal losses, grab some quick experience by defeating wandering armies etc. - and later switch the armies. This applies in cases where the main hero's army relies very much on his skills and with the weak secondary guy would suffer many losses. A good example would be a knight with archery, luck and leadership, while the secondary guy is a spellcaster...]
        There might be a bunch of 'tertiary' heroes that can take care of collecting resources, gold and armies from self-refilling sources (usually one hero can do that easily) and for shuttling reinforcements to the front lines. Those guys need no experience, but should (if that doesn't mean BIG delays) visit learning stones and possibly trees of knowledge (if they're for free) to try and get scouting, logistics or estates). Also, buying a hero to scout and claim mines near a captured castle is usually worth the 2500 gold. The fresh information from scouting (even if he dies there) may navigate your main guy towards new enemies. And with some marketplaces, even a few days' worth of those mines production will repay the gold back if needed).

    3. Task sharing between the heroes:
      The main hero should spend his time doing only things that number two cannot do himself. The former are usually battling armies, getting artifacts and treasure chests, while the latter are usually occupying mines, picking up resources and exploring Witch huts. Of course, things like visiting learning stones and other skill increasing facilities are common. One more thing should the second guy do - probe trees of knowledge, because they're more valuable later in the game and you don't want to waste their potential in the beginning, when the needed experience can be achieved from a few chests.

    4. Experience and advancement handling:
      1. In witch huts you can get random Basic skill. [Random in sense that level creator cannot affect which skill will it be, but every time the level is started, the skill is set and remains the same for the single playtime.] So, the backup hero has one important role: If your main guy still has some secondary skill slots free, his friend will check every witch hut and sacrifice his free slots to learn what the hut has to offer. Sometimes you might even buy a new hero, if the backup guy has ambitions to become another primary hero.
      2. Treasure chests and other sources of experience. As the experience needed to gain a level rises with levels already gained, it is pretty obvious, that if you have a hero with some 40000 exp. and his backup guy has some 3000 from stones only, then when ever you run into a treasure chest, you'd better take it by the second guy... Coz getting another +1 skill for your main guy is usually not as good, as getting some +6 for the same price... Okay, sometimes you take them with the main guy, because you desperately need some advanced skill to be upgraded...
        [Here I strongly recommend checking every now and then, how much the hero needs to advance to next level. Even with 100000+ experience points, the hero sometimes is just a 'chest-far' from next level.]
      3. The same thing comes with wandering armies... If the backup guy can take them out, let him do it and leave only hard targets to your main guy. There is one exception... If the main guy has a strong army, it is a good strategy to leave him one empty stack when touring the landscape... (The backup guy will carry the seventh army in case it would be needed for a castle siege or enemy hero attack). Thus, wandering armies can join you. So, if you happen to have a force strong enough to defeat any wandering army, approach those you'd like to join you (or buy, having advanced/expert diplomacy) with the main guy. If they will join you, you can either use them immediately or give them to the backup guy, if they don't fit for the main guy's alignment, combat style or speed. Those armies can be then used by the backup guy as forces to kill other wandering armies and towns for experience, and later maybe to be left as garrisons in captured castles and towns (ogres and similar armies are excellent for this purpose, because their high HPs will either prevent any weaker heroes from attacking your towns or, at least, cause some losses to enemy armies.)
      4. One more comment on treasure chests - always bear in mind that they're also a good source of GOLD! If you plan to rely on diplomacy or build very expensive structures, it's worth it to take gold with the secondary heroes. In early game, I take all the 1000 gold/500 exp. chests for gold and with the better ones, I go for experience. Later I shift up and take gold even from the 1500/1000 ones.
      5. Also, if your secondary hero explores a closed area that you don't want to visit with the main guy (maybe there's nothing important except a few chests, or he's in a hurry to somewhere else), you might grab gold or exp. with the secondary guy even at early stages of the game, where the main hero could profit them, but it'd cost too much time.
      6. All other sources of experience and skills can be used by more heroes (stones, primary skills increasers and tree of knowledge, which has the same price for all heroes (decided at startup, can be nothing, 10 gems or 2000 gold)). In case that a Tree of Knowledge wants no payment, the level advancement is done immediately (which is why it's better to try those with the backup guys first, because using a tree of knowledge before you already have some 50000 exp. is a real waste - in case that the main hero will probably be near this tree later in the game - if you're sure you'll never get there again, grab the level!.
      7. Harpies at sea and altar of sacrifice are a good thing. No longer will you just carry around unneeded artifacts and troops that have joined you yet you don't want them. Imagine this: Your hero with some massive army is offered i.e. a throng of demons. You accept, give them immediately to the secondary guy who sacrifices them, getting some two, three levels for them... and this can happen pretty often.

    5. Artifacts
      Since the hero now has the backpack and can un-equip artifacts, handling them is much easier. There is one general rule: most of the artifacts COULD be needed later, even if you don't want to use them. Equipping the Spirit of Oppression (that prevents morale bonuses) would be a nonsense when you have positive morale. But you might run into an enemy that has expert leadership, three medals, visited temple and likes to cast Mirth on expert level. Needless to say, in that battle you'll gladly use the morale preventer.
      Since you can now weild only one weapon etc., your backup heroes will probably get some from the captured artifacts, too. Also, only four misc. artifacts can be equipped, so it's imperative that you transfer all gold and resource providing stuff to some secondary guy.
      Unwanted artifacts are disposed of at altars of sacrifice, already mentioned above.

    6. Movement rules
      Movement bonuses for fast armies (the slowest troop determines the bonus) are:
      0 for Extra Slow (4)
      1 for Slow(5)
      2 for Swift or Extra Swift (6-7)
      3 for Very Swift(8)
      4 for Ultra Swift or Super Swift (9-10)
      5 for Quick and faster (11+)
      Therefore, having Arch Devils (17) instead of Devils (11) won't help you, but you'll outrun a knight with Archers by 5 tiles/day. The default value is 15 tiles.
      [Just came to my mind that this could be a good way to waste your opponent's time - once the enemy wanders onto the edge of your territory, get close enough to him to let him see you. But be sure to have very fast armies, possibly logistics or a movement increasing artifact... and every turn, keep just a few steps ahead of him... And run around the map, wasting the time of the powerful enemy army...
    7. Also, use always appropriate heroes! In rough terrain, try to hire somebody with PathFinding, on high seas try hard for Navigation. Get to remember what skills do the nearby witch huts give, let secondary heroes get some experience ASAP to determine the purpose they'll be used for.

      Every hero has eight slots for advanced skills. Therefore you have to be picky and choose only those you'll profit from. The simple fact that your hero would profit from a skill doesn't mean that you want to take it... There always could be more skills to profit from. A good example may be a knight that gets offered Advanced Leadership and Basic Archery. A newbie will snatch the archery, while the Pro will stop here, think about waiting for wisdom/logistics with the free slot and therefore will take the advanced one. This waiting is generally affordable in cases where the basic offered to you isn't a rare skill for your hero, or in cases where you don't need it any badly right now. And the archery in this example is a good one, since knight has only two shooters of which one is frequently targeted by all enemies.

      • Ballistics: A must for walker based armies, in every scenario with lots of castles it will save you some losses to your vulnerable shooters... Either by destroying enemy castle installations or just making way for your armies to run in and slay the defending troops sooner. Not needed much for flyers/shooters based armies, such as dragon or titan task forces. Expert ballistics increases chance of hitting arrow towers to 75% (until all walls are destroyed).
        However, there is one big advantage of ballistics: Since you get manual control of the catapult and the catapult always plays first in the battle rounds, you can cast a spell before the opponent gets his fastest troop to move. Favorite spells are Slow/Haste/Earthquake.

      • Artillery: Might heroes profit from that skill pretty well. It has proven worthy in many battles, especially in the earlier stages of the game. It's firepower can be immense.

      • Archery: Increased damage from ranged attacks usually comes in pretty handy, unless you have small stacks or none shooters at all. (I.e. Fortress, Necropolis).

      • Tactics: This is the BEST skill for me, no doubt about that. Two things should be separated:
        1) The fact that your walkers can start their action at 7th row - when your armies are faster than enemy, this is the deadliest skill in the game, because even relatively slow walkers (6-7) can strike in the first turn - so if everything goes well, the enemy doesn't get to play at all! Especially well used with Rampart or Castle troops.
        2) Then there is the ability to rearrange your troops upon seeing the enemy 'configuration' - and it's always nice to be able to move all your troops out of range of the enemy fast flyers! I've won many battles ONLY because I had this skill.
        Only in castle defenses this skill is less useful, as the point 1) doesn't apply - but point 2) still does!

      • Offense: A very potent skill for all Might heroes, especially those that depend on aggresive approach.

      • Armorer: Smaller brother of Offense, a bit less useful, but definitely beats Mysticism and Eagle Eye ;-)

      • First Aid: This could be an important skill for cases where enemy fire is concentrated on high-level units. If you're walking around the map with your 7thlevel creatures only, the First Aid Tent with 100 points of healing can prevent losses - it successfully eliminates castle towers' fire (towers usually score about 100 points of damage.)

      • Luck: Causing double damage can't be a bad thing, ever ;-), but it's never a thing I'd wait for to come. And, the damage is not exactly doubled, it is increased only by an average raw damage of the stack, without A/D included.

      • Leadership: Can sometimes save you a lot of trouble and losses. I prefer it to Luck, as it gives you more tactical benefits. (You can let enemy units share the double damage you're granted.)

      • Learning: An useless skill. For a wasted slot, you only get one level ahead of opposition.

      • Logistics: A must, except for Small, sometimes Medium and those island realms scenarios.

      • Pathfinding: A must, whereever large desert, swamp or snowy areas require exploration. Otherwise useless.

      • Navigation: Don't have to tell you that you won't need that, when you have no seas/rivers to conquer, do I? ;-)

      • Necromancy: Not of much use, unless you manage to get expert one and find large masses of cannon fodder such as trogs. However, in necromancer's hands it's a powerful weapon.

      • Resistance: This skill is stronger than it looks. Especially heroes that have it as a special are dangerous opponents, because a spell resisted at the right time can decide whole battle. If you manage to get some artifacts, enemy spellcasters will have a hard day then. On the other hand, results are not guaranteed and therefore I usually pick other skills - those that work always, not by percentage.

      • Diplomacy: If you get it in early stages, comes quite handy, coz with expert level of this skill, you get quite a fair price for new units. [And you can see how many they are, before fighting them... and hell, there IS a difference between 'lots' and 'lots', 20 and 40 ogre lords definitely aren't a bit the same easy bait. A few times, having adv/expert diplomacy saved my life, because I could avoid fighting a stack of grand-elves, that would have beat crap out of my armies.] There's another VERY important aspect of diplomacy - surrendering is cheaper! At expert level, you have 60% discount, which can be pretty important in saving crucial parts of your army.
        And another thing that I tested: Every level of diplomacy gives you TWO levels' discount on the requirement to enter Library of Enlightenment! So that if your hero at level 4 has Expert Diplomacy (or at 6 Advanced or at 8 Basic), he'll be let in, getting +2 to all skills! This can be very useful, if the library is near to your castle (and even more, if you can learn Diplomacy in a hut. You might then want your secondary heroes and/or castle defenders to get the Diplomacy, grab some experience and get this +8 bonus...
        From Gus at NWC we've learned exactly how Diplomacy works. Here's the mail quoted (and slightly reworded):

        Here's how it works, in a nutshell.
        Diplomacy makes it more likely that:

        • Monsters will join you for free.
        • Monsters will join you for money.
        • Monsters will run away (avoid fighting).

        Each monster has a aggression level, set at the start of the game. You can adjust the range of aggression in the editor, but there's always a random factor, unless the monster is "compliant" or "savage."
        When you encounter a monster group, the monsters first decide whether to fight. The depends on your strength, how friendly they are, your diplomacy skill, and whether you have similar creatures in your army.

        If they are friendly or ambivalent, they may decide to join you. For normal monsters, 10% of the time they'll join you for free. Every level of diplomacy makes this 10% more likely. Having similar creatures also makes this 10% more likely. Having an army that is mostly similar creatures makes it 20% more likely.

        Example: Sir Christian has an army composed exclusively of pikemen, and Expert diplomacy. Normal pikemen and halberdier stacks will join him roughly 60% of the time - if they don't fight.
        Diplomacy also allows you to persuade monster stacks to join for money.
        You always get the full stack, and the price doesn't change. Each level adds 10%.
        Of the pikemen stacks that Sir Christian encounters, another 30% will offer to join for money, again if they don't fight. Only 10% of them will flee without offering to join. Sir Christian's a really likable guy.
        If the creatures are ambivalent, and you turn down the offer to join, they'll fight you. If they're afraid (or impressed by your silver tongue), they'll run away. Diplomacy never makes it more likely they'll fight. If you turn down an offer and get a battle, they would have fought you anyway.
        This is for normal, "Aggressive" monsters. If they're set to "Complaint" in the editor, they'll join anyone. If they're "Friendly", they're 30% more likely to join. If they're "Hostile", they're 30% less likely to join - you'll need Expert diplomacy, or similar creatures, to have any chance of them joining for free. If they're "Savage", they won't join anyone.

        [End of quotation.]

      • Scouting: Useful for exploration, coz you'll be able not only to see resources and mines you're looking for, but sometimes you'll spot your enemy soon enough to turn back or even spot him without him spotting you.

      • Eagle Eye: Learning spells from your enemies is a good concept, especially if you don't have enough resources to build your own guilds. But I personally prefer other skills and take this only when I either have to or know I'll need it. (Being offered Navigation on land-based scenario, it's really lesser evil to take Eagle Eye.) Of course, there might be situations where you could even RELY on this skill. Imagine a map that is short on magical resources and yet you've been forced a magic hero...

      • Estates: I never take estates for my main hero, but the secondary guys would be foolish to not take it. If there's a witch hut, all the army and resource couriers should visit first and then get some levels at stones and trees to upgrade.

      • Intelligence: More than effective replacement of Mysticism. Top spellcasters can then make long journeys and be generous with offensive spells ;-). Also, Might heroes that won't ever be good at knowledge should consider taking this skill - if only to have a decent spellpoint reserve for Haste/Slow/Dispel - which are pretty important. Especially dispel may be needed pretty often against the way too often blinding AI.

      • Sorcery: A must for offensively thinking spellcasters. the 15% increase of damage is a great thing.

      • Scholar: This is a great skill for secondary heroes!. You won't have to return home with your main hero to learn spells from newly built guild - the secondary guy will take the knowledge on the road and share it with all others.

      • Mysticism: Could be useful for long journeys without castles, if you need to use magic. The better knowledge your hero will have, the lesser need of that skill you have. However, with magic schools that reduce spell costs, I rarely use mysticism - sometimes with Might heroes that need to cast Haste/Slow/Dispel often and don't want to waste a slot on a magic school (because their most used spells come from different schools each.)

      • Wisdom: Unless you build higher level of mage guilds, you won't find much use to it, but take this rather than other, worse skills, coz somebody might build the guild levels for you (either in your or his city). In large scenarios, even magic-hating/fearing knights/barbies should take this one - it will give them access to spells in conquered castles and spells like Berzerker may greatly improve their battle efficiency, not to mention getting i.e. TownGate. However, I would recommend some planning here - to try and get some magic school, too, as wisdom alone will not get you the real power of the spells. [I.e. Town Portal without advanced Earth magic sucks.]

      • Magic schools: I don't want flamewars about which school is better, so I'll let anyone make their choice... All damage spells have increased base damage (usually it's + 10,20,30 or 10,20,50), elemental summoning has doubled effectivity. Protection from another school is 50% for all friendly units..
        I will use the following syntax: Interesting spell (effects), applying for Expert level of that school.

        • Air magic:
          • Haste (All +5 speed) - a decisive factor
          • View Air (Artifacts, heroes, Towns) - great for hunting down enemies
          • Disrupting Ray (Defense -5)
          • Precision (All ranged +6 Attack) - that means +30% damage!
          • Air shield (ranged damage taken is reduced to 50%)
          • Counterstrike (All +2 retaliations!) - great for armies with specials!
          • Dimension Door (4 jumps/day)
          • Fly (100% of normal movement)
          Important spells: ChainLightning, Hypnotize (to use enemy's small stacks to waste retaliations of his top units.)

        • Water magic:
          • Bless (All Damage is Max(damage)+1)
          • Cure (Cures all friendly)
          • Dispel (Dispels ALL spells on the battlefield)
          • Weakness (All enemy -6 A)
          • Forgetfullness (All enemy ranged attackers don't use range attack)
          • Teleport (Can teleport anywhere, incl. castle.)
          • Clone (Works on 7thlevel troops too)
          • Prayer (All A,D and speed +4)
          • Water Walk (100% of normal movement)
          Important spells: Frost Ring, Summon Boat, Scuttle Boat

        • Earth magic:
          • Slow (All 50% speed)
          • Stone Skin (All +6 Defense)
          • View Earth (Entire terrain and mines/resources)
          • AntiMagic (Immunity to all spells)
          • Town Portal (Can choose destination)
          Important spells: Animate Dead, Resurrect, DeathRipple, Meteor Shower, Implosion (aka the only Dragon killer around ;-))

        • Fire magic:
          • Bloodlust (All +6 Attack)
          • Blind (Doesn't retaliate when blinded and attacked)
          • Berserk (All in 19hex radius affected!) - total insanity!
          • Frenzy (Target has A increased for 2xD)
          • Slayer (+8 A against all 7thlevel troops)
          Important spells: Armageddon, Fireball, FireWall, Inferno, Sacrifice!

      Favorite secondary skills are a tough part.
      For a might hero, I would suggest Tactics, Offense, Leadership, Ballistics. Other slots might be used for Logistics, Wisdom, one magic school and maybe Intelligence, but skills like Diplomacy, Artillery, Archery, First Aid, Pathfinding or Learning are applicable as well.
      Magic heroes should have Wisdom, at least one but prefferrably more magic schools, possibly Sorcery and Intelligence. They might use Tactics as well, Logistics needn't be mentioned.
      Of course, you might have a Super-duper spellcaster with Sorcery, Wisdom, Intelligence and four spell schools - and still one slot left. Or you could have a mega-might freak with Offense, Armorer, Archery, Leadership, Artillery, Ballistics and Tactics - and still one slot left.

      In general, when deciding about a particular skill, you should always bear in mind particular conditions in that particular game. You won't need Estates, if you have a few goldmines/endless bags. You won't need Diplomacy, if you're very short of gold or if there are only a few armies that you would want to join you. You won't need Pathfinding on grassland landmasses. You won't need Logistics in a Small map. You won't need luck with strong armies. You won't need Intelligence if there are enough castles and wells in the map...

      If there are any skills that are useful 'always', then I would vote for Tactics - it will bring results in the first week - no building required, no special map conditions (size/terrain/armies) needed etc.

    8. Spell Casting - adventure spells
      When an adventure spell is cast, ALL your heroes profit from it. So, if you have some spare guy at home, cast all view spells with him, sitting in his castle.
      I don't have to mention profits of dimension door, do I? Remember one thing, though. Plan your DD journeys well, considerings wells ;-). It's good to be able to travel half the map in one day, but is even better to end your trip with almost full spellpoints, in case you might need them - i.e. to travel back or use powerful offensive magic to repel an enemy that you've gotten near to. It's always nice to see a computer hero DDing onto a little island and then waiting a week to regain ten points to get back - especially if he has his pack of titans with him and not in his home castle... Also bear in mind that DD is limited to 2/3/4 jumps/day - so make sure that if you can cast it twice, you won't end near somebody you don't want to face in battle!
      The town portal is even bigger bastard than DD. Suppose you capture an enemy castle with some heavy losses - you warp home, get new armies, run to a well, that often is near your starting castle, and then, warp back to the newly captured castle, all in one turn!
      [I personally began to dislike DD and Town Portal, finding them very unbalancing to the game.]
      Dirty Trick: Hit'n'Run:
      Although the following is nasty and almost cheating, you can do this: Having some very fast units in your castle, an enemy nearby with a huge army and some offensive spells in your guild: Split your very fast units into 7 stacks, if possible. Just have the seven stacks occupied by 1 unit each. Attack the enemy, demolish his stacks with spells, retreat, hire again and repeat. If you'll have a well nearby, you can do this as long as you have the cash. Having 7 stacks of 1 unit often allows you to cast 2 or even 3 spells per battle. (Remember, you must FLEE, don't get killed!). This may be applied even with many starting heroes, but the process is generally more costly. And anyway, it's considered as 'dirty' by many players.
      Softening up an enemy before attack/defense may have another aspect - if you use strong enough army, you might force the AI to cast spells and thus waste spellpoints. If you sacrifice one or two armies this way, in the following castle siege the AI may not have enough spellpoints to caste annoying Blind on your shooters.
      This way, you can reduce the enemy's army to quite poor numbers and then, either fortify at your castle, or even slay him with your main army, that was resting in your castle all the time (and maybe providing the very fast units for those repeated attacks). Note that sometimes it would be better to use non-offensive spells, eh, I mean berzerker ;-))
      In early exploration, casting View Earth or View Air may have crucial impact on your success. Seeing mines is often helpful, because there are often scattered respective resources near a mine, so it's important to be there sooner than your opponents.

  2. Map structures and other information
    This section is a shortened version of Christoper Nahr's HOMM3 Manual Addendum, rewritten and published with author's permission. The originalis recommended for most players as required reading...
    • Garrison heroes cannot be traded with - you have to click on the castle, move the hero to 'visiting' slot and then manually initiate a trade with another hero. Garrison heroes cannot be anyhow selected from the map. Putting a hero to the garrison has therefore effect similar to 'sleeping' him (the tent icon), but not only you don't get him selected by 'next hero' icon (or 'n' key), the hero isn't even visible in heroes column.
    • If there are both visiting and garrison hero present and enemy attacks, the visiting hero is fought on free terrain. After the battle another 'click' on the castle is needed to fight the hero inside.
    • [Therefore is may sometimes be handy to purchase a visiting hero - just to hold the enemy one more step - if his planning was tight, it might happen that he doesn't have the one extra movement point left and you get extra turn - and even on other days than day 7 this might be good - you might upgrade a dwelling, get some beneficial building or increase fortification level...]
    • If there is a visiting hero (that is visible in the castle entrance) and no hero inside, the garrison armies are merged into the hero's army, what cannot be merged is unused (just as in HOMM2) - and if the defender wins the battle, the armies are still there, if he loses, they're lost without fight. Therefore, be sure to check whether some castle army shouldn't be better transferred to the hero right before the siege - I don't know exact algorithm for choosing armies from the garrison slots to be merged into the hero's army, so if you want to be sure, better do this manually.
    • Creature Dwellings dwellings offer a fixed number of creatures, replenished once per week, to any visiting hero whose flag will then be planted at the dwelling. The actual number of creatures offered is equivalent to the base production of that creature type in their native town type. Any creature dwelling that flies your flag will also add one creature to the weekly production of all of your towns with a corresponding creature generator. This means that if you have flagged three Cursed Temples on the Adventure Map and two Necropolis towns with a Cursed Temple already built, each of these towns will offer three additional Skeletons per week. To fully exploit a creature dwelling you will have to keep sending heroes there once per week. The bonus creatures added to a town's production will accumulate along with regularly produced creatures until you choose to buy them, but any creatures that were not fetched from a dwelling in any given week will be lost. The Dungeon Town's Portal of Summoning duplicates a random, flagged dwelling's weekly production by offering the same number of creatures again that is also, and additionally, available at the dwelling itself. However, in this case too unhired creatures will be lost.
      First-level creatures will join a hero for free when invited at their dwelling but come at the usual price when added to a town's production. Creatures purchased directly at a dwelling are always of basic quality whereas creatures added to a town's production are hired at the same quality (basic or upgraded) as the corresponding town structure. Their price changes accordingly.
    • Cursed Ground. No spellcasting is possible and all positive luck and morale modifiers are removed.
    • Magic Plains. All adventure and combat spells are cast at expert proficiency.
    • Idol of Fortune. While giving either a morale or a luck bonus on most days, the
    • Idol will give both bonuses on the 7th day of the week.
    • Temple. The morale bonus bestowed on your troops by the Temple is doubled on the 7th day of the week. Note that it is always a good idea to conquer cities on the day just before the weekly creature growth because you will be able to replenish your forces on the very next day. The enhanced powers of Idols and Temples on the 7th day of the week are meant to encourage this strategy.
    • Spirit of Oppression. This artifact does not negate the morale bonus for wandering creatures on their native terrain, although it does negate this same bonus for creatures in a hero's army.
    • Hero Specialty. Some hero specialties come as bonuses to creatures, spells, or secondary skills. The descriptions of these specialties state that the bonus would increase "for every level after the nth" which is somewhat misleading. The bonus is not actually increased by a fixed amount of points per level. Its calculation merely involves the current hero level as a factor, as follows:
      • Creature Speciality. The indicated creatures gain a percentage bonus to their Attack and Defense ratings equivalent to (Hero Level / Creature Level) x 5. Note that since Creature Level appears as denominator, it can take a very long time before you see any effect at all on high level creatures! Therefore it's usually better to pick heroes that are specialized in lower level units. A hero on 20th level would give 50% bonus to skills of archers and 15% bonus to skills of Champions, if he had these two as special units. Practical effects will be pretty close, since the archers will get +3 to their attack of six, while the champions will get +2-3 to their attack of 16. (In other words, the lower percentage due to higher denominator in the formula is balanced by higher base numbers to which the counted percentage is applied.)
      • Spell Speciality. The effect of the indicated spell is enhanced by a percentage value of (Hero Level / Creature Level) x 3, where "Creature Level" is the level of the creature(s) targetted by the spell.
      • Skill Speciality. The effect of the indicated secondary skill is enhanced by a percentage value of Hero Level x 5. Note that this percentage value is multiplied with, rather than added to, the skill value: a 10th level hero with a Logistics specialty and Expert Logistics (30% movement bonus) receives an additional movement bonus of 15% (30% + 30% x (5% * 10) = 30% + 15% = 45%.
    • Army formation selector is used to determine the amount of free space between army stacks. It's functionality is very limited - the resulting formations are different for the two setting only for armies with 2-5 slots occupied - 1, 6 and 7 armies will always take the same position, no matter which setting you use.
    • Tactics selector can be used to switch off the usage of Tactics before the actual battle - on player side. This means that if your hero has Tactics skill and you don't want to use it most of the time, you switch it off here. Note that your hero will still 'use' his level of Tactics to eliminate enemy hero's Tactics, since Tactics of one hero eliminate the same amount of levels of Tactics of the other hero (i.e. you having Expert and enemy Advanced, then in the battle it looks like you have Basic and enemy has nothing...)
    • Archery skill applies to fortification fire, too! Therefore it's good to buy heroes with Archery for castle defenses (The castle usually does some 100 points of damage - and the increase comes pretty handy.)
    • Morale bonuses are individual for every unit in the battle - all units use the modifier that their hero gives them, but they get morale boost from their native terrain. Also, some creatures have specific morale rules. (Undead - no morale. Minotaurs - morale always at least at +1).
    • Special Abilities: (Briefly and incorrectly mentioned in the manual as "Make a Special Attack.") Some creatures have a special ability, such as the Archangel's ability to resurrect dead allied troops once per combat. When a stack of creatures with a special ability is active, just place the mouse cursor over whichever troop you want to use their ability on. Watch the mouse cursor change to an animated spell-casting icon and click to apply the special ability to the target troop. Using a special ability ends the turn for the performing creatures (but not for the target creatures).
      All special abilities except for the Mighty Gorgon's death stare and the Dendroid's entangling attack are affected by spell resistancies, immunities, and Cursed Ground in the same way as hero spells are. Alas, there is no indication whatsoever when a special attack fails due to such circumstances; the attack simply will not happen.
    • Two-hex creatures: Any ranged attack on a two-hex creature is considered hampered if any of the hexes occupied by the creature shows a "broken arrow" cursor. This is true even if the cursor turns into a whole arrow on the other hexagon. Also note that both hexes of the creature can take damage from some spells (notably FireWall - if the creature moves right through the firewall, it'll take double damage - for every hex one hit. Area damage spells such as fireball, however, don't have this effect.
    • Purchasing creatures: When you click on the castle/Citadel/Fort, you can not only see all stats, but by rightclicking display stats of the units and by left clicking purchase them.

  3. Building

    General rules on building are these:
    You should always start with money a town hall. However, since the town hall, built on day 1, earns you only 1000 gold extra on Day 1 next week, you might consider building creature dwellings and benefit structures instead.
    When upgrading dwellings, consider these points:

    • The most important upgrades are those that increase speed of your fastest unit. This applies especially to those cases where the fastest unit of your is rather slow. Getting an upgrade to speeds like 11 means that you'll at least sometimes get first shot in battles.
    • The second most important upgrades are those that increase speed of your slowest unit(s). They give you extra movement points for each turn.
    • The alternative second most important upgrades are those that give your units some specials. Why alternative second-most? It's good for a barbarian to move one step faster with his orc chiefs, yet it's comparatively good (yet in different ways) for gremlins to start throwing their balls or for vampires to start drinking blood of their enemies in large scale ;-)).
    • Upgrades to 7thlevel creatures are sometimes great change (i.e. behemoths)

    A Town Hall built on day one will result in extra 1000 gold on first day of next week (and then extra 3500 every first day of week). The build schedules shown in other articles build it, but there may be cases where you could build some highlevel dwelling at the cost of not building the Town Hall. So, before you build your first structure, try to guess whether you will be able (gold and resource-wise) to go for some high-end dwelling that quickly, and alter the building schedule accordingly.
    Always try to build most of dwellings before day one of next week. All miscellaneous buildings like Mage Guild, MarketPlace or Blacksmith can wait.
    The second week should be usually aimed at building money generators including Capitol, if possible.
    Ideal case: You start with two towns. One goes for the creatures and Citadel/Castle, the other goes for money in the first week. In the second week, the first town goes for capitol, while the second stays idle. Further on, all the cash that is left after troops are purchased should go to upgrades and also lower level dwellings in the second town.
    If you really don't know what to do with cash, build other structures. Short notes on all common structures:
    • Village hall: Default building, earns 500 g/t.
    • Town hall: First upgrade, earns 1000 g/t.
    • City hall: Second upgrade, earns 2000 g/t.
    • Capitol: Last upgrade, earns 4000 g/t, can be built only in one city per player.
    • Fort: Basic military structure - adds a wall to let shooters in your garrison defend the city. Also allows building of basic creature dwellings.
    • Citadel: Adds moat and arrow tower, increases base creature production by 50%, rounded DOWN!
    • Castle: Adds two arrow towers, stronger walls, increases base creature production by 100%.
    • Mage guilds need no big explanation, only remember that some town types are restricted in levels of mage guilds allowed.
    • Marketplaces generally come to work well in large numbers. [The more marketplaces you control, the better conversion rates you get. Three marketplaces get you the same rates as trading posts. With eight or more the rate drops to 1:2 in resources.]
    • Tavern is the place where you can recruit new heroes. Usually it's already there.
    • Class dependant buildings can be of use. Some help with defense, while others give some benefits to heroes. Check Way of particular castle for details.

  4. Defense strategy

    Get used to computer heroes attacking every now and then your castles. There are three main ways to chose:

    1. Take and forget - where you capture a castle and enjoy the gold it provides, learn it's spells, use it's benefits and leave. The enemy soon tries to recapture, but you've not helped him any with building the castle.
    2. Take and hold - where you sit in the captured castle and wait for the enemy to come. This isn't any good, since it binds your main force to that castle and also the enemy may attack a bit later, when he feels strong enough to beat you.
    3. Take and expand - where you stay near the castle with some decent armies (usually the main army, whose hero runs around to flag mines and get benefits (skill boosts etc.), while you build and upgrade dwellings, raise a castle to get maximum defensive power, buy another hero, run the benefits with him, too, recruit all troops and get ready to hold the castle with its own troops against enemy raids. With two weeks' production you can move your main hero away. This approach is pretty costly, but remember one thing: if you take a castle and let the enemy retake it, all the troops that were left inside unrecruited, will be probably recruited by the enemy and you'll face them later in the battle. And since castle defenses play first in the siege, this will usually mean more losses on your side. Of course, if you have 7thlevel troops only in the recapturing army, the towers won't score a kill and you'll gain experience for the troops you've killed.
      Always think first - is the castle worth holding at all costs? Are the troops inside strong enough to defend it? Or are they weak enough so you won't waste money on them and kill them later, when the enemy has paid for them? How strong enemy forces will try to take the castle?
      The AI's not stupid. It has learned much and will try it's best to strike on Day 7! So better be prepared.
      Defending the castles with newbie heroes has one good and one bad side. The bad side is higher losses, the good side is higher profits in gained levels, if you win.
      When defending ANY castle, think well about picking targets for defensive shooters. While the enemy may have relatively strong shooter armies, his walkers/flyers are usually a bigger threat - the shooters are out of effective range - they'll score half damage on you and you'll score half damage on them! So it's better to go after the walkers, especially those standing in the moat. Also, try to notice what units are targeted by your castle defenses and how much damage they suffer. For example, if your tower scores 60 damage and targets a stack with one archer left, it would be very wise to finish it, so the next 60 points from the tower will not be wasted on this one archer.
      Even if you're gonna lose the battle, fight to the end and try to inflict maximum losses, unless you want to surrender to save some precious troops.