[HoMM] Poor Man Teleports: Value from normally-impossible resource exchanges

Keep an eye out for opportunities to make normally-impossible resource exchanges! The “poor man town portal” tactic from Heroes of Might and Magic III, a maneuver which allows a player to effectively trade gold for movement points, il;l

In HoMMIII, the movement point pool on the main hero is arguably a player’s most valuable resource. There is a very powerful level 4 spell, “Town Portal,” that teleports the casting hero to an allied town, but it is rarely accessible early on. A “poor man TP” can accomplish a similar end. To perform a poor man TP, a player sends their hero into a combat with the intent to immediately retreat, causing that hero to disappear from the strategic map and become available for rehire at that player’s town taverns. Rehiring the hero at a town costs 2,500 gold and respawns the hero at the town’s location. Essentially, the player spends gold to move their hero from the location of the combat to the location of the town without having to spend movement points to walk the intervening distance. Check out the following example of HoMM streamer Fredostrike using a pair of poor man teleports to great effect in a ranked match.

Let’s set the stage: Fredo is playing on a randomly generated Jeebus Cross map. On JC, players always start on opposite sides, with a richly-rewarding desert biome between them. Powerful armies block the desert entry points. This is a heavily tempo-oriented map type: the player faster to penetrate the center gets first pick of its contents. In this example, Fredo has just beaten his desert guard with his main hero, Shakti, leaving Shakti very low on mana and movement points. Shakti must visit a town to regenerate mana, so Fredo uses the last of his movement to attack and then retreat from a group of psychic elementals, rehiring Shakti in his initial town east of the desert:

At the start of the next turn, Shakti is a long way from the desert but has full mana and movement. Fredo sends Shakti into the closest availabe combat and retreats. Fredo uses a secondary hero, still in the desert and carrying the bulk of Fredo’s troops, to capture a town. Fredo immediately builds a tavern in the town and with it rehires Shakti, spawning him in the desert with full mana and plenty of movement points:

Fredo’s excellent pair of teleports were instrumental to winning the match, overcoming what had been a rocky early start.

Aside: To more cleanly focus on the normally-impossible gold-for-movement exchange aspect of poor man TPs, my initial “how-to” skipped over some key details that you need to know if you want to actually use the tactic in your own games. First, when a hero retreats from combat they lose all of their troops. Preserve the lives of your units by trading them to a secondary hero before sending the main into the to-be-retreated-from combat. Ideally, you can even prepare a hero chain to quickly ferry the army back to whichever town you intend to use for rehire. Second, note that a hero only gets a chance to retreat when it is their turn in combat. An enemy with higher speed than your token army might be able to reach and eliminate your troops before you get a turn, resulting in the loss (rather than retreat) of the hero. When teleporting a hero off of an enemy that out-speeds you, increase your chances of being able to take a turn by bringing many separate single-unit stacks, such that even if some fall at least one will likely survive the onslaught.

[HoMM3] Quicksand turns the tides

HoMM3 player Chris67132 stylishly navigates a tough early spot with style and Quicksand, a normally underwhelming spell he picked up from a level 2 spell shrine. Chris knows that a good or bad opening causes ripples that influence the whole game.

(10:00-11:00) With his main army positioned in the east with few targets in range, he faces a choice between burning multiple turns without deveoloping or putting everything towards beating “lots” of demons. Wasting time is asking to slowly lose down the line, so puts everything towards beating the Demons, knowing that he’ll also need a bit of luck with the random placements of his Quicksand to stand a chance. He also remembers from his last run that the wandering monster stack there was merely a “pack,” (10-19) one category smaller than “lots” (20-49), which gives him reason to believe the number demons will be closer to 20:

(11:03-15:40) The informed guess about the numbers proves true, with exactly 20 demons appearing in the group, the lowest amount possible for lots. He gets enough luck with quicksand to impede several Demon stacks over the course of the fight. He buys more time for his shooters by tempting demons to attack singleton out-of-the-way gargoyles. All told, the demons are delayed from closing with the shooters long enough for the ranged damage to take out almost all of them, cinching the much-needed win. The victory will allow him to him take the now-little-guarded neutral city early:

[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.

[HoMM3] Chris67132 uses move superiority to efficiently take a battle

In this Heroes of Might and Magic III combat, YouTuber Chris67132 uses his army’s superior speed to kite and efficiently defeat a group of nagas.

On the first turn, Chris’ hero casts a 402 damage lightning bolt for 8 sp, taking out one of the 2-naga stacks. He then issues wait commands to his genies and giant, deferring their actions until the end of turn 1, after the nagas have approached. This action lays the groundwork for a huge turn:

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[HoMM3] TheKnownWorld on Using Multiple Heroes

Heroes of Might and Magic III YouTuber and Twitch streamer TheKnownWorld presents a short and sweet argument for using multiple heroes, backed up by clear comparisons and helpful tips.

One especially hard-hitting point in the video is the day 3 treasury comparison between the single- and multi-hero examples: even though hiring extra heroes costs 2,500 gold apiece, the faster rate of exploration and access to more loose resource piles means that the multi-hero approach largely pays for itself.