[HoMM3] Why Luck and Leadership are not good enough

“Oh and The Pendant of Courage! Aren’t we glad that we don’t have expert luck and expert leadership?” In the clip below this writeup, Heroes of Might and Magic III YouTuber Chris67132 celebrates not having Luck or Leadership skills on his main heroes . Why?

When a hero gains a level, the player is presented with two skill options and selects one for the hero to learn or improve. Each hero has eight slots for skills, so choosing a sub-par skill carries the opportunity cost of being unable to put a better skill in that slot later. The Leadership and Luck skills respectively increase morale and luck of units in battle, up to +3 at expert rank. Morale and Luck always range between -3 and +3.

For a number of good reasons, Chris places little value on these skills and tries to avoid taking them. Here we see one of these reasons: The Pendant of Courage artifact (which he just gained) effectively duplicates both Expert Leadership and Expert Luck, giving +3 Luck and Morale when equipped without requiring any skill slots. Since Chris usually plays larger, longer maps with many opportunities for artifacts to spawn, he generally can get his hands on most any item sooner or later. The opportunity cost of using a hero’s neck slot is much more palatable than permanently using up one or two of a hero’s skill slots.

The Pendant of Courage does come with the opportunity cost of occupying a hero’s neck slot when equipped. However, this cost is much cheaper than committing skill slots, as the Pendant of Courage can be un/equipped at need, while a hero’s skill set is set in stone once chosen.

There are reasons for disfavoring the Leadership and Luck skills. Morale and luck procs are unreliably random and cannot be counted on to help when needed, while other skills such as Logistics or Earth Magic give consistent bonuses that one can plan around. In HoMM3 strategy, variance is usually considered bad for the player because it reduces one’s ability to limit risk. If an experienced player willingly engages in a fight, they have a good idea of the expected losses they will incur. A morale proc (which grants an extra move) for one of the player’s unit stacks may helpfully but unnecessarily reduce losses, while a morale proc for the enemy can be devastating. Chris and other experienced players often opt to prevent both sides of a combat from having morale proc by equipping The Spirit of Oppression item:

So in summary: Leadership and Luck skills prevent oen from taking other more powerful skills. Their effects can be replicated via certain items (and spells). They are highly variant and variance in HoMM3 overall works against the player by reducing their control over combat.

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