I love map editors and one of my favourites if the one for Heroes of Might and Magic 3. I’ve been creating ludicrously dumb and nonsensical maps on it for a very long time, but a while ago decided to made one with actual flow to it and, like, intentional design decisions.
That map is called The Great Forge.
Making this map was extremely fun because it was my first time using the Horn of the Abyss version of the map editor, which adds a host of new items and makes one or two things slightly more streamlined. For anyone not in the know, the Horn of the Abyss is a fan mod for Heroes 3 with the same amount of content and quality you’d expect from a paid piece of DLC content. It makes sense within the world of the game, comes with many new maps and a campaign, revives the online multiplayer and is (most importantly) very fun. It revived my desire to play heroes a while back and is why I decided to make an actual decent map.
The Great Forge is a medium sized 4 player team map with an over ground and underground. It’s Red and Blue vs Tan and Green with the unplayable Orange player lurking about solo as an AI. The win objective is to defeat all enemies and the loss condition is losing all your towns and heroes.
The pacing of the map is designed to go something like this: The two teams duke it out until Orange, owner of the Great Forge that has bestowed upon them massive armies, comes along to be the final boss. When Orange arrives the two warring teams can temporarily truce to defeat him or take advantage of the chaos to get the upper hand on each other. In an ideal world though you’ve killed the other team by the time Orange becomes a threat, but in a game as ludicrously unbalanced as Heroes 3 we all know things aren’t always ideal.
I play-tested this a great deal with Cameron from Cameron’s Considerations. On our first play test the AI team got stranded on an island in the ocean because, despite having access to a summon boat spell I placed there, they went without spell books and were not smart enough to have someone sail a boat over to retrieve them. They had a good 6-7 heroes all stranded there, near to the point they wouldn’t be able to train anymore to travel the overland map. This left all their territory unguarded and, you guessed it, the map largely broken when playing against the CPU. So I went ahead and changed some things in the ocean regarding island travel, and the issue was fixed. I then found that Orange, despite having 2-3 months alone to build their forces, was pathetically weak when we got to them. I then added some events unique to Orange in order to bolster his economy, but found he didn’t want to invest it in any military. This meant my only solution to make him the final boss of the map, as desired, was to artificially increase the number of soldiers he could train every week. This worked, and finally the map was done. We did a good honest playtest of course, and it all went swimmingly.
It was the most fun I’ve had making and testing a Heroes map. I did try to upload it to a community map website but, due to a high volume of submissions, was met with the message I could not upload. So, I decided to upload it to Nexus mods. You can find my map here.
How to install the map:
You will need to own Heroes of Might of Magic 3 Shadow of Death version, most readily available for a low price on GoG. You’ll also need to install the free Horn of the Abyss mod for this map to work. You can find Horn of the Abyss site and installation instructions here. You will also need the HD mod, but Horn of the Abyss should come with that. Do note that the well-known HD edition sold on Steam by Ubisoft will not allow you to play this map at all.
Once you have installed Horn of the Abyss, download the map from my Nexus mod page and export it from the ZIP file into your Heroes of Might and Magic 3 maps folder. Next time you start a new scenario you’ll find it in the list with the other newly added Horn of the Abyss maps. If you can’t see it, or any other Horn of the Abyss maps, close the game and make sure your launcher is running ‘h3hota.exe’ and NOT ‘heroes3.exe’. If you want to play online, ensure you check for updates in your launcher before starting a lobby.