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Thursday, 26 November 2015

Tane Norther's Heroes of Might And Magic III (SoD) XL-map pack (Download)


Thanks for taking interest in my XL map-pack, made for Heroes Of Might & Magic III Complete (SoD version) (which you can buy as a DRM free download from Good Old Games along with many other old PC classics - easy to install, works like charm with newer Windows versions)! Note: the map-pack doesn't currently include any HoTA (Horn Of The Abyss) conversions of my SoD maps, or new maps made for HoTA by me; they can be found separately at Homm III map section).

I've finally decided to push these couple of my self-made maps out for everyone to play. These have been made since the year 2011- for my own fun and kicks and purely as a hobby, for I am big HOMM II and III enthusiast, During the years I grew frustrated that there were so few XL-size maps for HOMM III which were well balanced, straight-to-the-point, without too much focus on overly extensive story-line (maps like this have their place, too, but the selection on good straight-forward XL maps hasn't been very good). The maps are not probably very challenging for a hardened HOMM III veterans, who expect tight puzzles and something beyond "regular gameplay" of HOMM III; but I warmly recommend anyone who wants a few new straight-forward XL maps for his/hers HOMM III map-collection to give them a try for the fun. The maps are way better balanced and more stylish than random generated maps, but provide the same quick-to-play experience! These maps have been made for Shadow Of Death -version of the game, which should mean they don't work with the new "Heroes 3 HD Edition". The maps have been play-tested through and through several times, and are all playable (AI has some minor issues on few maps, and I'll have to apologize for my imperfect English). Expect no major game-breaking flaws! Any maps that I make in the future will be updated to this post (no promises made, though!). Have fun, hope you enjoy it!


The most recent update of the map-pack: 8th of October 2015 (check end of the ReadMe-file for more details):
  • Added one full new map (Adventure Islands 1.0.; 3 variations)
Known issues to be corrected on the next update:
  • none
In-development or planned:
  • I've decided to discontinue working with SoD maps at the moment. No future updates planned for this map-pack, but I'll leave it as it is. Instead, I've decided to work with HoTA version maps (Horn of The Abyss unofficial expansion) in future. Any HoTA maps can be found on this website's Homm III maps section! HoTA enhanced version of "Adventure Islands" is already out for grabs at there, and I might convert/upgrade few of this map pack's other maps into HoTA, as well. Also, whole new maps for HoTA might come later on. Meanwhile, enjoy these SoD maps.


Download the map pack here (TinyUpload)

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Currently there are following maps included:


  • Adventure Islands 1.0 (from 2015)
  • Adventure Islands (2 Teams) 1.0 (from 2015)
  • Adventure Islands (3 Teams) 1.0 (from 2015)
  • Caverns of Eden (2 Teams) 1.0.31 (from 2013)
  • Caverns of Eden (2 Teams Alt.) 1.0.31 (from 2013)
  • Caverns of Eden (4 Teams) 1.0.31 (from 2013)
  • Dunes of Insanity v1.11 (from 2014)
  • Forest of The Old Godz (4 team) 1.0 (from 2015)
  • Star Dimension X v1.031 (from 2014)
  • Star Dimension X v1.031+ (from 2014)
    • 4 extra cities
  • Star Dimension X v1.031 (Allies) (from 2014)
  • Star Dimension X v1.031 (Allies)+ (from 2014)
    • 4 extra cities
  • The Unexpected Guest (Allies) v1.0.3 (from 2011)
  • Wyverns Tail Coast (Allies) v1.01 (from 2014)
  • Count: 7 (plus different variations)



General description of the map pack:



The maps are intended mostly to be quite straight-forward maps with lesser story and more action, so anyone who is seeking for new "basic" XL maps for HOMM III where you don't have to go through tons of dialogue and story to get into the action itself, look no further! Most of maps I make I create with multi-player mind, either with a friend of with a computer ally.

In many of my maps I tend to make neutral armies more savage and less likely to join your army, since Diplomacy, otherwise, is highly overrated skill. Even with just few join-able armies in the map, Diplomacy can be a worthwhile skill to have at the end-game.

I like to make maps quite balanced for all parties, but I don't require a total balance from myself for all teams, as I like everyone to have slightly different chances and choices. Most armies and artifacts are balanced by their location and level, having totally non-leveled random artifacts or monsters very rarely. Having highest level artifacts to be found by random too early in the game and too often in quantity can really make the game unbalanced.

Also, I tend to keep amount of treasures and points of interest (such as the dwellings that grant bonuses to attributes) in maps rarer rather than high in quantities. This may sometimes require you to wait few turns to gather resources of money to buy/build anything in Castle.

PLEASE, if you have any INPUT and OPINIONS about the maps such as: which maps you liked the most? Which the least? Did they stink, were they good? Why? Why not? Feel free to drop a comment or two to this post at the comment box in the end of it! :-)



Adventure Islands


 

In game-description: Somewhere far at Eastern sea from New Sorpigal, Enroth, lies unexplored vast cluster of islands, known as "Adventure Islands". Several adventurers of different races before you have tried to conquer it's glory, but have never returned. Can you lead your race to the dominion of the these islands?

Note: Please note that there's a newer version of this map available for Horn of The Abyss (HoTA), the unofficial Homm III expansion, which can be found from Homm III general maps section. Does work only if you've installed HoTA, though!

Variations (3): All VS. All (6 players), 3vs3 (2 teams, 6 players), 2vs2vs2 (3 teams, 6 players))
Playable Races: All
Level cap: 30
Total # of Cities: 22 (8x no-fort -allowed)
Dragon Cities: 8
Libraries Of Enlightenment: 2
Hill Forts: 7
Resources: plentiful, poor starting + rich edge-areas which are leveled, the rest is random
Neutral Armies: "hostile to savage" (rarely joins), may flee (1:2), easy (start), random (the rest)
Level 7+ Dwellings: yes (2)
Acquiring Grail: few Obelisks, random place
Roads: a few
Story: yes, short
Disabled spells: Dimension Door, Fly, Water Walk, View Air, View Earth
Victory condition: eliminate all enemy teams
Other: starting area low-level and balanced, further off totally random, except hardest to reach places have always some good stuff. 2-sided XL island map, with entrance to the other side by Whirlpools only. Navigation specialized heroes banned: Sylvia and Voy (too powerful). Level cap 30.

Developer's words: Seventh of the maps created (in order chronological order). After making several more path-restricted maps with stricter balancing (of neutral armies, artifacts), I wanted to make more "adventurous" 2-sided XL map. However, I realized, that going completely random would make the map too unbalanced. Thus, I decided to add "some balancing". The closed-in starting area for each player has low-level everything: lvl 1 artifacts and monsters, except the main guardian who you need to pass to reach the next areas, which is never-flee lvl3.

After you break out from the starting area, however, the map becomes far more open-ended with random artifacts and monsters everywhere (which, however, only 50% of can flee, and 33% can join rarely). The most hard-to-reach parts of the maps do always contain something of a best quality (such as lvl4 artifact or two).

There's a lack of quick-to-play XL island maps for HOMM3, thus I wanted to make one huge island map, which is capable to be played on multiplayer, as well. To acquire this, and to provide different kind of a play-through every time, I did add more random stuff to the map than usually, plus I tried to kept quests and text bits short-ish. There are few longer text-based events on the map, but they are very rare, and are not overly long not interrupting the fast-paced gameplay, itself.

A few tricks that this map has, is that reaching from one side to the other (AG/UG -layer) is done only by entering one of the six (6)Whirlpools. Starting town and the nearby (same race) one have creature dwelling upgrades available only up to level four (4), and thus finding Hill Forts become very important. Entering them, however, will cost you extra cold compared to what it normally does. Also, there are a couple of very high level heroes imprisoned on this map (max capped to 30), which may be worth to bail out, but they require very much gold and resources to do so.

There are several quick time-limited quests you may want to complete, plus one big main quest which requires you to reach the central island of the both layers to complete. It grants you Power of The Dragon father, a grand artifact. Entering the centre island of both layers of the map is hard, and may not be worth it, but is sure a fun challenge. The centre contains an arena, a library of enlightenment (only ones in the map), a dragon city, an extra quest (to get one Azure Dragon), and two towns (both have upgrades up to level seven (7)), but only another one can build a fort.

A known "issue" is, that CPU mightn't be the smartest one with island maps. Also, the game tends to be very lengthy due the map has MANY small islands, and you'll always end your turn when you enter or leave the boat. However, I had a lot of fun testing the map - perhaps the most out of my maps yet. There are a few very loose nods towards Might & Magic VI: Mandate of Heaven (one of my favorite RPGs of all time) on the quests. Have fun exploring the islands!

My own rating for the map: 4½/5



Caverns Of Eden



In game-description: Gain command of a big underground-based map with high-end action, featuring a few smaller islands above the ground. Note:  using ships on above the ground is prevented. The map has limited routes connecting the areas, making it more tactical than free exploration experience. Lvlcap 19. v.1.031.

Variations (3): 2vs2vs2vs2 (4 team, 8 players), 4vs4 (2 teams, 8 players, West VS. East), 4vs4 (2 teams, 8 players, opposite corners form teams)
Playable Races: All
Level cap: 19
Total # of Cities: 18
Dragon Cities: 6
Libraries Of Enlightenment: 2
Hill Forts: 2
Resources: very scarce, rare high-lvl artifacts
Neutral Armies: "aggressive" (may join), may flee, moderate
Level 7+ Dwellings: yes (1)
Acquiring Grail: few Obelisks, average place, average
Roads: no
Story: no
Disabled spells: Dimension Door, Fly, Teleport
Victory condition: eliminate all enemy teams
Other: strictly symmetrical map, very balanced. except the random middle area.

Developer's words: Second of the maps created (in order chronological order). I wanted to make very symmetrical, balanced type of a map (considering places of interests and landscape) for 4 teams and 8 players, and make main-area of the map placed in underground (later on I also added 2 team-variations). The map was made very symmetrical so that distance for additional cities, for example, is the same for each teams, and there's competition for any additional towns, as well.

I wanted to make Caverns Of Eden very straight-forward without any additional story whatsoever. I intended to make resources very scarce, so that you cannot just build everything in your Castle in row, but have to seek additional resources in the map before you can progress in building your castle. Artifacts and dwellings on the map are scarce, also. Everything is quite strictly leveled (artifacts and monsters), except the middle map is random, which sometimes gives easy access to strategically placed middle-town with Upgrade Fort, Dragon City, and Library of Enlightenment, Other times the neutral forces there will be very strong and you are required to seek another route in the beginning, instead.

The middle-town is an important town to control. The middle-area in the underground is also heat-point of the action which is fastest route to reach each corner since you can find road to every direction from there. Each team has to decide early who goes for the additional town, for example, between North-Eastern team (2 players) and North-Western team (2 players), and who goes for the subterranean gate to reach additional city on above ground corner-island.

The ship-access is restricted above the ground (islands isolated from the sea), so only small amount of boat-action is to be found at the underground. The extra town in the middle-island above the ground is perhaps slightly too hard to reach.

My own rating for the map: 3/5



Dunes Of Insanity



In game-description: In this map you play with Dungeon against three computers: Fortress, Conflux, and Castle. You must reclaim monopoly on trading routes of this desert. Dungeon starts with 2 towns, rest teams with 1 town each. Prepare to take the heat against 3 CPU opponents! Level cap 19.(v1.11) 

Variations (1): 1vs3
Playable Races: Dungeon only
Level cap: 19
Total # of Cities: 13
Dragon Cities: 2
Libraries Of Enlightenment: 1 (heavily guarded)
Hill Forts: 1
Resources: average (but you need a lot), average high-lvl artifacts
Neutral Armies: "aggressive" (may join, few high lvl who won't), can usually flee, average
Level 7+ Dwellings: no
Acquiring Grail: few Obelisks, very difficult place, very hard
Roads: yes, rather scarce, also cobblestone
Story: yes, loose
Disabled spells: Dimension Door, Fly, Teleport, Town Portal (1 scroll can be found)
Victory condition: eliminate all enemy teams
Other: few events to bump into: extra units, missions with rewards. Some Quest/Border Guards.

Developer's words: Third of the maps created (in order chronological order). This map is single-player only, and you can only select Dungeon as a race. Should please Dungeon-enthusiasts, though. I wanted to try to make a nice looking map consisting mostly of desert, which I find hardest to make looking good (hopefully I succeeded, at least a little). The map is rather free to explore consisting of larger chunks of areas, rather than restricted and built of smaller chunks connected to each other.

I wanted to make this map very hard single-player one, so I gave one human player three CPU opponents. However each CPU is weaker than human-controlled Dungeon. You must plan your strategy to conquer additional towns carefully and it probably takes few tries, before you figure out what is the fastest possible strategy and route to gain additional towns, gold, and more troops. CPU-players have more castles in the beginning than human player, altogether, (3 versus your 2 towns, obviously), but each of their additional second city has upgraded level 7 creature disabled to balance the insanity. On the other hand human players second Dungeon town has no Fort in the beginning. Thus, you must seek more wood quickly and decide whether to upgrade main-town first all the way, or do just some upgrades before building for to the other.

Secondly, you have a few choices to make considering which of the additional Dungeon-towns you conquer next. One in the North is furthest but is important strategically, although hard to defend due no Castle allowed (but Fort built) until later in the game, and lvl6-7 dwellings disabled. The one in the West is closest and quick to reach due fast road network, but has hard enemies on the way, has no Fort in the beginning, and is behind Quest Guard that can be only unlocked via lvl10+ hero. Also, it has no lvl7 dwelling available. One on the East, underground, is quite far, and behind a Border guard, which requires you to find a matching Tent. While trying to conquer these extra towns, your three enemy CPUs will be pushing inside your lands after 3-4 months, so quick strategy is required.

I think this map became rather hard, but fun and interesting (especially the first half, the latter half of the game suffers a bit and ain't that gripping). There are some small events spicing up the game experience, which may grant additional troops and battles with a reward. The Grail is probably too far and hard to reach, at least for human player. The Dragon City may become vital to reach, and requires a little puzzle to do so.

My own rating for the map: 3/5



Forest of The Old Godz



In-game description: Minotaurian Alliance face a rising threat, when two Elven Kings form an alliance of their own to oppose old rules set by the Minotaurs for limiting the access to cross Grand River located on their lands, separating the Elven tribes apart. Take side of Elves, Minotaurs or one of two smaller alliances.

Variations (1): 2vs2vs2vs2 (4 teams)
Playable Races: Dungeon, Rampart, Fortress, Inferno
Level cap: 27
Total # of Cities: 24 (2 border-guard locked, 2 hard-to-reach)
Dragon Cities: 9 (heavily guarded)
Libraries Of Enlightenment: 2 (heavily guarded, costs extra gold)
Hill Forts: 2 (heavily guarded, costs extra gold)
Resources: average-good, many high-lvl artifacts (heavily guarded)
Neutral Armies: mostly savage (all highest level stacks), few hostile (may join), don't usually flee, quite hard
Level 7+ Dwellings: no, can be acquired other ways
Acquiring Grail: few Obelisks, random placement, difficulty varies
Roads: yes, quite common
Story: yes, medium heavy, lots of events apart from the main plot
Disabled spells: Dimension Door, Fly, Town Portal (2 scrolls can be found, extra chance for Teal)
Victory condition: eliminate all enemy teams
Other: other player of the team always plays with Might Heroes only, while the other plays with Magic Heroes only! The map is one large overworld map extended from South to North region with teleports, includes storyline, 200 events used although many used to tailor same event for different players,  the main focus is still on combat and balance rather than on story-driven perfomance, many pandora's boxes and artifacts, maximum number of Quests with rewards, Quest guards and Border guards, neutral Garrisons with armies, player-specific events at some of the towns, slightly different starting balance for each player, and many more...

Developer's words: This is the sixth map that I'm making for this Heroes 3 map pack of mine. And it was the most demanding of all this far to make, by far. I did a lot of planning and calculations concerning resources of starting areas for each player to get the balance that I intended (and hopefully succeeded on it!). With pre-set races for each of the players, I could do the "starting area" balancing, tailoring it differently for each specific race separately. Depending of the race, each player has a little different resources on their starting area, accompanied with more favorable quest rewards for their race, and such.

I wanted to give the map a main-story, yet the combat as main point of focus on the map. I wanted to make the map light enough, so it would be possible to play it on multiplayer, and progress relatively quickly in the game. I also wanted to keep the balance relatively good for eight players at the same time, thus I had to keep the main-story on the background, but it's there, at least, and it's bit lengthier than on my previous maps.

To spice up the map, while still keeping the combat on progression speed on decent level, I added many small quests (maximum number of Seer's Huts used) and events (maximum number of events used, 200). Some of them are tied to the main-story loosely, giving you feeling that there indeed is the war going on, as described on the main story in the beginning. Many of the quests and events are completely separate of the main-story, though. The events and quests do have some text, but I tried to keep them simple and short enough, so the player wouldn't be buried in reading, as there is so many text-based events included.

The map itself is full-sized two layer map, planned in a way, that the other layer represents North region of the overworld map, while the other represents South region of the overworld map. They are logically connected to each others by teleports. Thus, there is no underground layer in reality. I wanted to make a humongous two-sided forest map, but it turned out that it would had looked too boring, so I added different areas inside the forest as I progressed on making the map.

A large map would be boring without much stuff on it, so I added quite a bit artifacts, Dragon cities, towns, dwellings and pandora's boxes. Many of the best stuff is hard-to-reach, though. For example, the entrances of dragon cities are guarded by +level 7 creatures, thus making them hard if not impossible to conquer at earlier stage. The map also has quite many high level heroes captured in prisons, which can be reached later in the game (because leveling all newer heroes in the late-game is pain in the ass, usually). I made many of them hard to reach, though, so that part of them would be only serving as a challenge on the late period of the scenario. The map is also split in areas, of which some feature higher level challenges, while the other feature lower level challenges. Split into areas have been made by Garrisons, guarded by neutral monsters. Their strength depends of the contents and rewards laying inside the specific area.

The balance of the map also varies depending of the player. There's two players for each available race, so each team has two players of the same race. One player of the team always plays with might heroes only, while the other plays with magic heroes. Each Inferno and Fortress player starts with only one town, while Dungeon and Rampart start with two (but the other lacks a fort). Inferno and Fortress players have faster access to the best rewards and items, though, if they play smartly.

I think that geographically thinking this map is rather interesting: The allied Rampart players start from the very opposite edges of the map (southernmost edge of South layer and northernmost end of North layer), but they have a teleport which can provide a very fast transport over the whole middle-area. It can be unlocked only on the later half of the game, though. Dungeon players start geographically next to each others, from northernmost end of South layer and southernmost end of North layer (they have a river between them, and teleportation devices take over the river). However, Dungeon players routes to teleports between them have been also blocked (Border Guard), and can be unlocked on the later stage of the scenario. The scenario is similar to Inferno and Fortress players, that they have no direct access to their ally, at all. They may reach their allies quicker by a specific teleport, but on their case it's hard-to-reach behind several high level monsters and garrisons.

You probably get the picture: in the early game everyone is pretty much on their own, located far away from their ally, while if one survives long enough, then you unlock a faster transportation route between you and your ally. There are quite many surprises, also in the later-game stage, in form of hand-placed events and town-based events, so, try it out and let me know how I could improve my HOMMIII map-making!


Notification: Since the map is geographically split in North and South halves connected logically by teleports, it feels like "there is no underground" located directly below the overworld, at all. Thus, "Town Portal" may feel like it reacts in a false way, because as the game engine is concerned, it thinks the North and South layers of the map are "on top of each other" (overworld/underground), rather than representing South and North regions. You probably get the picture, though it's a bit hard trying to explain this.



My own rating for the map: 4+/5



Star Dimension X



In game-description: Four rulers have been banished from their home planet of Enroth due their heinous crimes and corruption. Spell cast by an Enrothian arch mage has has warped them to an unknown dimension in another galaxy far away. With no return to Enroth, the banished rulers will settle the dominion of Dimension X.

Note: Please note that there's a newer version of this map available for Horn of The Abyss (HoTA), the unofficial Homm III expansion, which can be found from Homm III general maps section. Does work only if you've installed HoTA, though!

Variations(4): 2vs2 (2 teams), 1vs1vs1vs1 (free-for-all), versions for less and more (+ versions) towns for both
Playable Races: All
Level cap: 25
Total # of Cities: 11 OR 15
Dragon Cities: 4 (none easy to reach)
Libraries Of Enlightenment: 0
Hill Forts: 1
Resources: average (miss 1 at the early stage), high-lvl artifacts average
Neutral Armies: "Hostile" or "Savage" (majorly, may join very rarely), may not flee often, strong
Level 7+ Dwellings: no (available through other way)
Acquiring Grail: few Obelisks, moderately difficult place, average
Roads: no
Story: yes, loose
Disabled spells: Dimension Door, Fly, Teleport, Town Portal
Victory condition: eliminate all enemy teams
Other: one small random monster/artifact -area for each player, Two high-level heroes imprisoned, who may be useful at the time you could reach their prisons. HARD monsters! Some Quest/Border Guard -madness.

Developer's words: Fifth of the maps created (in order chronological order). I usually do quite "realistically" looking maps for HOMM III that don't look too out-of-place or over-the-top with weird tile-set-combinations. With Star Dimension X I wanted to experiment with HOMM III -tile-set and "textures", but yet keep consistency with what ever style I chose, for the whole map. After trying few things, and fooling around with "Evil Fog", I decided to try and make above-the-ground-layer  to look like space, moon, or asteroid, what ever the way you want to call it. I wanted above-the-ground-layer of Star Dimension X to look like you were walking on alien dimension, or asteroid floating in space. This took quite a while to make, since I first had to draw the islands (chunks that would present "floating asteroid'y areas on the space") over water, then lay mountains on their outer edges to isolate the floating areas, and then "paint" Evil Fog all over the water outside the islands to make the background look like "space".

Adding hundreds of Evil Fogs to cover water-tiles and then trying to make sure that no water was left uncovered, wasn't that much of a fun. I then connected "floating asteroid chunks" (islands, if you will) together with small paths of two tiles wide (made them look like an alien bridges), and put objects on their outer edge so that no one can cast "Summon Boat" and go to sail in space (over Evil Fog, which was meant to be inaccessible). Lava ground, combined with lava mountains (and bits of Dirt-tile-set mountains), rough tile-set rocks, and forest rocks, combined with certain cactuses seemed to actually look quite cool with "fog of war". I think that creating moon-like dark alien environment was quite successful and didn't look too weird, especially when I was consistent with the style after I found the right objects in HOMM III map-editor to go with.

I added some "Magic Clouds" from all-terrain objects and "Favorable Winds" from water objects over Evil Fog to create better impression that anything outside isolated asteroid chunks is empty space, air, floating, rather than solid ground. I then moved on to the underground area, which I decided to make to look like you're descending on burning lava area lying below the dark (Evil Fog) clouds, when you enter to underground area through a subterranean gate. To create this, i experimented with HOMM III tile-sets and ended up using lava ground (combined with some subterranean brown ground, so the looks wouldn't be too monotonous) for the accessible areas (chunks, if I may), isolated by lava mountains, which restrict the access outside the main-chunks. I then painted anything outside the main-chunks of terrain, which was inaccessible area, with Fiery Fields. Some rough terrain rocks finalised the look. I then connected the small chunks together with small paths of terrain, which I made to look like bridges in similar fashion than used above-the-ground-area. I was listening Super Metroid sound-track while doing the underground ;-).

To furthermore increase feeling of alien surroundings (not just normal hell-ish feeling) at the underground area, I proceeded to very sparely add some swamp tile-set mountains (the teal-green ones), few swamp bushes and swamp rocks, combined with few selected cactuses, and voila! I think that the map looks nicely alien, but not too over-the-top (because of consistency). And I'm a over-the-top colourful and weird-looking map hater. I may do a sequel (in appearance) for this map perhaps later.

Enough blabber about the looks. Star Dimension X is rather straight-forward map, being more restricted by exploration due it's small chunks of explore-able terrain, isolated from the outside area by mountains, and the small chunks of areas being connected to each other by narrow paths (bridges). What makes this map a bit more complex and longer to finish than expected, though, is that it's monsters are rather high level, some paths are restricted by Border Guards, and the matching Tents may not be at the closest, easiest place to reach. There are also some crossroads, where you have to make choices where to go, especially, since with any route you select will make you lose moderate amount of troops. Neutral armies do not join easily on this map, and to make it worse, there is high amount of very high level monsters around, with only small amount of easy neutral armies in the very beginning. Luckily, several neutral armies don't grow in quantity over time, making it the map bit more bearable.

This is basically North VS. South map, where you can reach the other end from the other by either above or underground path, but neither is easy to reach, to begin with. Above the ground is easier, but underground, on the other hand, features an extra town (long way upgraded). Each team's first check-point, however, would be to reach first additional city, which is located towards the middle-map. Quickest way possible isn't possible to reach at first, since it's too heavily guarded (a bridge on the mainland above-the-ground), so you can A) either push through moderately heavily guarded underground to the right subterranean gate and pass the heavily guarded bridge, or B) you can explore the underground towards opposite direction discovering treasures, while waiting that you can build an army strong enough to travel to the middle above-the-ground city by crushing the hard opponents at the heavily guarded bridge (shortest but the hardest route). The first additional cities (1 for each team) towards the centre on above-the-ground area are moderately easy to conquer, but rest of the cities are hard, so get your strategies right!

My own rating for the map: 4½/5 (for plus (+) versions, works better with them)


The Unexpected Guest



In-game description: The northern tribes of sandy dunes and southern tribes of freezing icy tundra are at war. Both sides want to reclaim the territory once was theirs. In the heat of the battle comes unexpected twist in a plot - portals from underground activate all of the sudden. The dead shall rise... Levelcap 20

Variations(1): 3vs3vs1 (3 teams (teal only CPU))
Playable Races: Stronghold, Tower, Conflux, Rampart, Fortress, Inferno
Level cap: 20
Total # of Cities: 17
Dragon Cities: 4
Libraries Of Enlightenment: 3
Hill Forts: 8
Resources: average, high-lvl artifacts moderately high, many artifacts
Neutral Armies: "aggressive" and few "friendly" (may join, plenty of monsters), may flee often, easy-average
Level 7+ Dwellings: yes (1)
Acquiring Grail: few Obelisks, very difficult place, very hard
Roads: yes
Story: yes, very loose
Disabled spells: none
Victory condition: eliminate all enemy teams
Other: Teal team is alone, has one-way portals to the main-land from underground, but very unlikely and hard way to back - may play unexpectedly, but often times strong at the beginning, though, cannot resist 6 other players long when being sandwiched in the middle-map. Wet dream of Diplomacy hero. Teal has static high-level hero.

Developer's words: First of the maps created (in order chronological order). To be honest, I don't think this map matches to quality compared to the rest, but I'm going to include it anyway. It's decently fun to play, but too long, too unbalanced, and not as stylish by the looks than the rest, but still playable. Being first one out of these five maps, and first one I made for years, I didn't succeed to make this map very good looking. Maybe if you're looking for something with big random factor and lengthy with a lot of artifacts, give this one a go.

Monsters of the map are rather level-restricted, but they are mostly all set to "Aggressive", meaning that it's rather easy to get them to join your army. Artifacts also have levels set, and there is plenty. The plot is very loose, and it mostly gives the reason for 1-team CPU player to pop-up every now and then from one-way portal from the underground, to mess things up for the two actual 3-player teams. AI isn't very good playing that role, sadly, though. I remember that when I made this map, I wanted to have two main-teams of three players, having rather typical North VS. South -battle. I then wanted to add one 1-team CPU player to mess things up and to come to interfere the war between the North and South, giving both hard time, until either team eventually becomes strong enough to overcome the 1-team CPU's threat. and drive him back to the underground from the mainland.

The another 3-player team is located on North, another on South. To get to each other they must either cross the middle-land, which is guarded by heavy garrisons, or use narrow path on east or west flank, which are also rather heavily guarded. The problem for both teams is, that the 1-team CPU located in the underground has one-way portals from it's underground castle to the mainland above-the-ground area - called Central Forest in this map. The 1-team CPU player, Teal, in this map, has stronger starting castles than you and can provide moderate threat alone in the very beginning. It can't attack right away, since it's path from the Central Forest (and yours, as well) to North and South is blocked by garrisons which it cannot defeat right away (though earlier than you, unless your team does some team-job), though.

Central Forest has two additional castles, and once Teal pops up from the underground to conquer those cities, and builds on them, it most often will march over either the Northern or the Southern garrison, and get to either 3-player team in the early stage of the game with stronger army than any of the remaining teams alone. Thus, if your team has no team-work, Teal may crush you early, or at least cause trouble. The trick with Teal team is, that while it comes from the underground through one-way portal, it has no way back to strengthen it's army the easy way (from further upgraded starting-castle than yours). Thus it can only pop up from the teleport and cause troubles so far, but since it cannot return back with a hero to feed it's heroes armies with additional units, Teal will significantly weaken while the game progresses.

Teal would be bigger threat if AI handled it better. It's rather unpredictable. I've seen Teal almost dominating either of the 3-player teams in the beginning and then suddenly weakening towards middle-game to providing almost no-threat. Way or another, when Teal has been weakened enough, either of the 3-player teams must eliminate the other, and then (oh lord, here's where the map lasts too long) find the long way all the way to the underground and conquer all Teal team's towns. Also, Lord Abyss (cheesy fker!), which is mentioned in the initial story, is standing still on the underground, being a static opponent with monstrous army, blocking your path to the last Teal team's castle.

The bottom line about how this map progresses, is that to either of the 3-player teams to get over another's throat, one must first find the way through or around the heavily garrison-guarded middle-forest, which has additional castles and initially strong Teal, which keeps popping there from the portal. Once Teal is weakened, and you two teams can settle who dies, you must then take opposite direction and sail to the South or North end of the map to enter underground and take a long route for Teal's castles and Lord Abyss. Painful, I know. Well, give it a try.

My own rating for the map: 2½/5


Wyvern's Tail Coast



In-game desciption: A coastal map with bit of a story in the beginning, but rest of the map focuses into more straight-forward 2vs2 combat. A tale of two Good and Two evil lords, raising from the bottom of the pit into lords of the coast. But, will Good or Evil win? Green team only defends. Lvl cap 20. v1.0

Variations(1): 2vs2(vs1) (2 teams+1 static (Green))
Playable Races: Necropolis, Dungeon, Inferno, Castle, Rampart, Tower
Level cap: 20
Total # of Cities: 12
Dragon Cities: 3
Libraries Of Enlightenment: 2
Hill Forts: 5
Resources: moderately scarce, high-lvl artifacts moderately rare
Neutral Armies: "hostile" or "savage" (joins very rarely), may not flee often, average-strong
Level 7+ Dwellings: no (available through other way)
Acquiring Grail: few Obelisks, moderately easy place, average
Roads: yes
Story: yes, in-depth beginning, loose later
Disabled spells: Fly, Dimension Door, Town Portal (one scroll can be found), View Earth, View Air, Water Walk
Victory condition: eliminate all enemy teams
Other: static green team, have to conquer first town, story-driven start, CPU AI can screw up very rarely at the start (fixed, still theoretically possible), more often with "setting free" the second city by lvl7 enemies which block it's gates (especially if Red)

Developer's words: Fourth of the maps created (in order chronological order). This map changed over time a bit. First, it was supposed to be called "Coastal Heads-Up", but ended up being 4-team instead of 2-team. I wanted to make a story-driven coastal map with lots of sand, rocks, some jungle, forest, and a little bit of snow on cold South coast - a map with balanced amount of Sea and ground, and to make Navigation worthwhile skill. I made this map to be rather lengthy and moderately hard by neutral armies.

North teams and South teams would have a bit different beginning, with Southern players having more land to explore, but Northern players having larger area of sea and islands to discover. The coast's shape reminds tail a bit, so Coastal Heads-Up became Wyvern's Tail Coast. I decided that the plot would be rather common battle Good versus Evil. I wanted to give it some spice by making the beginning unique for each teams.

In this map you start with one city, like regularly, but the trick is, that the city you own in the beginning is something you get to use only further in the game. It has no Fort, which has been disabled until Day 56. To make things bit more complicated, your starting-town is guarded by a couple of level seven creatures, so you have sort of a "free the city up" and wait for the Fort to become unlocked, before you can use the city. Thus, it is your "secondary city", because you get actually to use and upgrade the city later than the city you're about to conquer first. Each team starts with one hero, which has a hand-picked secondary skill by me, instead of the regular secondary skill that hero would have normally. The hand-picked skill is often something, which makes sense considering the plot and story.

Each starting hero starts "isolated" with a small army, and each team has unique story considering what has happened and why your hero is where he/she is located in the beginning. With that starting-hero and army you have then to push through some monsters and find a town to conquer. There's no rush or time-limit, since you basically already have a castle (the one with disabled Fort, guarded by level seven creatures).

The beginning is where I was initially going to put more emphasis on, add more puzzles for each team, and more story. However, since AI is terrible with even simplest of puzzles, I realized that anything too complex (for example placing a Quest Guard on the main-path with a simple item to pick up to get past by) was going to break the game. Frustrated, I simplified the beginning for each team, so that even CPU player can succeed to conquer the first castle (which can be build at). I had to cut the beginning shorter. I realized that you can create more complex puzzles only in the case where only human player is involved (although I wouldn't call a Quest Guard with "retrieve 1 item" complex per se). Thus, the story part was also cut much shorter to my initial intentions.

CPU AI also stumbles time-to-time on it's efforts (or lack of one) to clear the neutral army blocking the access to the "secondary city".  Sadly, this is where CPU AI becomes short, and is often pure idiot when it becomes to killing those level seven monsters that are blocking it's entrance and chance to leave the "secondary city". If CPU doesn't bring a hero outside the secondary city (from the main city) and clean up those level 7 monsters in front of the "secondary city", it doesn't seem to be building an army in it's "secondary city at all (which rather soon could easily crush the few level seven monsters - break the garrison from inside, so to speak). CPU leaves the "secondary city" hanging there most often when it's using Red Team. It builds the buildings, but if it fails to clean the level 7 monsters from outside, if doesn't build the army and clean it from inside, either.

 I also had to make the beginning of the map, when you still don't have the main-city and nothing to build, easier than I wanted, since one of the CPU players was constantly dying on it's way to conquer the first city, while I could do it with ease. AI may still very rarely screw up at the beginning - well I have tested this map several times and haven't seen it do so in long time after making the start easier, but theoretically it's probably still possible. My apologises if it happens. The map should be a bit more interesting with at equal amount of human players on the both sides.

This map has more text and story than the rest in this map-pack (corrected: not anymore after "Adventure Islands" and "Forest of The Old Godz came out), but it's still rather loose on that department. Still, I think that the bits in the beginning give a nice touch to the map. Once you get past conquering your first castle, things get more straight-forward. Some custom settings I modified to make this Good versus Evil more believable were, that the Evil North can only choose of evil races, and Good South only of good races, and same rule applies to the heroes available to be recruited on their Taverns (in exception that neutral race heroes are available for all). Some heroes that aren't normally available, are in this scenario.

There's one screw-up I made with the map editor, which cannot ever be reversed because of HOMM III map editor contains a bug: If you ever enable Lord Haart (Death Knight -version) to be available in the scenario, it also enables Lord Haart (The Knight -version) automatically, of which the latter cannot be removed later on. So now the evil teams in the scenario can also recruit the Good Lord Haart at the Taverns, and I cannot reverse it. Initially,

I wanted to make this map short on extra cities, and Northern and Southern areas to be only connected strictly by two routes: rough-terrain canyon in the middle, and Western sea, but eventually found out by play-testing the map that it was too restricting, so I ended up adding Eastern pathway connecting North and South, as well. I also ended up adding two more additional cities on the both Eastern and Western flank. Despite some AI flaws, I still think this map works most of the time well enough. It's a nice looking rather lengthy map in my opinion, so, if you're looking for a coastal Heroes Of Might And Magic III -vacation under palm trees, look no further than this map!

Notification: AI doesn't always play this map as smartly as it should (especially if CPU is Red Team)!

My own rating for the map: 4-/5 (due AI hick-ups)

-www.griffintower.com (moved from my other website: www.thegamersdungeon.com)

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