Video Game: Heroes of Might and Magic aka: Heroes OF Might And Magic
Heroes of Might and Magic is a series of turn-based strategy computer games created by NewWorldComputing. Famous both for its extremely high quality and its sheer number of Expansion Packs for the later games.According to both That Other Wiki and the fansite Age of Heroes, the series was inspired when someone had the idea of combining the walk-around-the-map-trying-to-save-the-world strategy of the earlier NWC game King's Bounty with the Roleplaying Game aspects of Might and Magic. There are occasional crossovers between the series: Might and Magic 6 shares a setting with Heroes of Might and Magic 1 and 2, and runs almost concurrently with Heroes 3. Might and Magic 7 shares setting with Heroes 3, and runs between 3 and its expansion pack Armageddon's Blade.Lord Morglin Ironfist is ousted from his homeland by his cousin, Ragnar. Fleeing with his few loyal followers through a portal, he finds himself on another planet, in the land of Enroth. Enroth is a contested land: Warlords Lord Slayer, Queen Lamanda, and Lord Alamar are locked in a civil war for control of the continent. Ironfist himself quickly establishes himself as a fourth player in this power struggle.The player gets to chose which of the four warlords they control during the single-player campaign - however the canonical ending is a victory for Morglin Ironfist and the foundation of the Ironfist Dynasty.The second game's campaign centers around a civil war between two brothers (Morglin's sons), Roland (good) and Archibald (not-so-good) Ironfist who are having some disagreements about who should be king of Enroth after their father's death. The Royal Seer who was supposed to make the decision unfortunately died in a boating accident. His next three successors died similar deaths before Roland is accused of murdering them and goes into hiding, leaving the fifth Royal Seer to declare Archibald the king.The expansion pack, Price of Loyalty, included four new campaigns and some improvements to game balance. What it did not include was a continuation of the main storyline - this would continue in the third installment (and installment 6 of the related Might and Magic series).Backstory for the games Heroes 3 and M&M 6 states the canonical victor of the second to be Roland: By the time of those two games, he is King of Enroth, married to Catherine Gryphonheart, heir to the throne of Enroth's ally, Erathia. The two have a son together (Nicolai, an NPC in Might and Magic VI).It is around this point that the Kreegans (a race of aliens that look like demons) invade the North-West of Enroth and the North-East of Antagarich (the continent Erathia is located on).The third game is the first in the series to move the action away from the continent of Enroth. Instead it occurs on the southern continent of Antagarich. King Gryphonheart of Erathia has died and the enemies of Erathia (the Antagarich branch of the Kreegan Invasion, the Dungeon Overlords of Nighon, and the Necromancers) take the opportunity of its weakened state to launch attacks against it. Queen Catherine leads a force of the Enrothian army to reclaim control of her homeland with the aid of Erathia's local allies AvLee (elven nation) and Bracada (wizard nation). The other nations on Antagarich - the barbarian nation of Krewlod and the lizardman nation of Tatalia - take this as an opportunity to bite off a little of their neighbor's territory while they are all distracted with each other: thus beginning the eight-way "Restoration War".The third game's first Expansion Pack "Armageddon's Blade" occurs after the eventual victory of Erathia and its allies in the third game. It features the quest to stop a devil from creating the titular artifact and using it to Take Over the World (or destroy the world, either one seems likely). It also has a bunch of other campaigns where some other bunch of people try to do other stuff. Dragon slaying, undead hunting, et cetera.The third game's other Expansion Pack "The Shadow Of Death" acts as a prequel to the actual third game, exploring the backstory of several important people and the Evil Plan of the lich Sandro.Using the Heroes III engine, eight standalone episodes were released called Heroes Chronicles. The series starred Tarnum, who in the first episode, became the king of the Barbarians but fell to the forces of Erathia later. Resurrected, he becomes immortal and must seek redemption through a thousand-year series of quests fighting the forces of evil. He fights and defeats a campaign protagonist from Armageddon's Blade (Mutare, the Dragon Queen), but in the final episode, he fails to recover the Sword of Frost before someone else did.Sometime after Heroes Chronicles: The Sword of Frost, the clash of the titular sword and the Armageddon's Blade releases Armageddon upon the world that Heroes 1-3 were set on. Those that survived used a series of portals to evacuate to another world, which leads into the events of Heroes of Might and Magic IV.IV, much like Armageddon's Blade, features standalone campaigns, one for each town. These include the uprising of a man who claims to be an Gryphonheart descendant tossing the new kingdom of Palaedra into civil war and the knight Lysander had to put an end to that, the efforts of Waerjak, a young barbarian to conquer all the other tribes to ensure that his people will not die out (as well as concluding the story of Tarnum, the protagonist from Heroes Chronicles), the journey of Emilia Nighthaven, a sorceress queen to stop a Knight Templar from controlling the wills of every creature in the world, the tale of Elwin and Shaera, which goes like a Romeo-and-Juliet meet fairy tales story with an Elvish civil war, the tale of Gauldoth Half-Dead, a half-dead manforced to play savior of the world, and the adventures of Tawni Balfour, a pirate captain's daughter. There are two expansion packs, which features even more heroes' tales, and these expansion packs have a Grand Finale scenarios for each pack, uniting the heroes of each scenarios for one last bang. The original 6 heroes didn't get such Grand Finale, but a custom map made for the fifth game below features the closest thing you can get for it, although only Lysander, Emilia Nighthaven and Gauldoth Half-Dead (and characters from those scenarios) are present.After IV, 3DO went into hard times and NWC eventually ceased to exist. The rights for the series eventually went to Ubisoft, and a new entry in the series was hatched, along with a spin-off.HoMM V, by Nival, started out as a remake of III in 3D and a different setting. Not all of the factions returned while most saw significant changes, such as the addition of a specific skill similar to the undead-only Necromancy. Castle heroes could train their human troops up the tiers for gold, Rampart heroes could pick enemies to deal extra damage against, Academy heroes could outfit their troops with mini-artifacts, and so on. Aside from the general layout and a few lack-lustre references to Sandro and Crag Hack, the new game had no connection with anything in the series so far.As for the plot, the game set up a backstory of the demon's ruler, only known as the Demon Sovereign, being defeated and imprisoned by an alliance of the good races with the humans at the helm. At the opening of the game, the current King, Nicolai (Name's the Same), is about to marry Lady Isabel when Demons crash the wedding and begin to invade the country. This sets off the plotline of a set of campaigns following each other in successive order, much like Warcraft III, continuing into the first expansion pack, Hammers of Fate, and indirectly leads into Tribes of the East. Both expansions introduced a new faction with a campaign to go alongside them as well as two additional campaigns that tie into them. They also brought back some of the features of Heroes IV, such as caravans and a variation of the unit choices by giving each unit type an alternate upgrade with different abilities.Meanwhile a new spinoff, Dark Messiah, was made. Somewhat of an FPS in a fantasy setting (especially in multiplayer), it tells the story of the offspring of the Demon Sovereign, who has the ability to free him or to lock him in for good. Sharing next to no direct relation to the story in V, it was difficult to see how this fit into the overall picture, but Tribes of the East eventually told part of the backstory as well as introducing the orcs that appeared in Messiah.Yet another spinoff recently emerged under the name "Might and Magic: Clash Of Heroes". Set 40 years prior to V, during the War of the Blood Moon, the game is a RPG/Puzzle hybrid.Might & Magic Heroes VI was released on September 8, 2011. The plot takes place 400 years before HoMM5, where a legendary archangel general who was killed during the war of the elder races returns to life. Under the cover of preparations for an upcoming demon invasion, he unites the peoples of Ashan to eradicate his ancient enemies, but presumably fatally underestimates the human Gryphon Empire. The campaigns will focus on the Big Screwed-Up Family of the Griffin Duchy, with each of the five children of the Duke joining a different faction after his murder. The game enjoys three expansions: Danse Macabre, Pirates of the Savage Sea and Shades of Darkness, the latter of which added a 6th faction.There is also a browser game based on Heroes V, Might and Magic: Heroes Kingdoms.
Spammer Faction: The Necropolis. Its individual units are quite weak compared to others, but it tends to have high weekly growth, and necromancers can raise overwhelming amounts of creatures with their necromancy skill.
The Conflux in III as well. The sprites and phoenixes (though the latter does have the highest speed in the game) are both weak for their tier, but produce faster than any creature of the same tiers in other towns.
Necropolis' role as spammer faction in III is further exaggerated by the relatively easy-to-get combination artifact Cloak of the Undead King, that only works for full effect for Necropolis heroes. It is quite a superweapon that causes enemy dead to be resurrected as fairly powerful liches (shooters whose attacks can damage non-undead units adjacent to the target)) instead of measly skeletons. It is not uncommon to raise armies of thousands of liches with the Cloak, while normally their amount tends to stay under 500.
Thanks to their Gating-skill, the Inferno of V and VI does this another way. As a matter of fact, their own creatures are still comparatively weak, especially at the lower tiers.
In a quite an interesting twist, Necropolis in VI became a mixup of Technical Faction and Elitist Faction due to the rework of Necromancy(which now allows to raise your fallen troops in the heat of a battle rather than just getting tons of skeletons).
Elitist Faction: The Dungeon. Low weekly growths and high unit/building costs, but its units are very powerful, especially its dragons which are typically the strongest creatures in the game.
Castle in Heroes III as well. While their ranged units are relatively fragile and don't do much later on, out of seven units in town, four of them can be considered the best on their level or at least in top 3(Halberdiers who have the biggest health in this tier and hit like a truck because no one will bother to take them out first; Royal Griffins who have a great weekly growth, are fast and have unlimited retaliations(in the game where every other unit has only one unless enhanced with magic); Crusaders who are tough, hard-hitting and generally steamroll over everything even in low numbers and Archangels who are insanely fast, deal fixed amount of damage (making them immune to Curse) and before the expansion was regarded as the strongest creature in the game, raise party's morale and are able to resurrect fallen troops respectively). Quite amusingly, in the first two games they were severely underpowered, to the point of being basically useless.
Brute Force Faction: The Stronghold. In IV they can't use magic at all, and in V they can only use a special set of spell-like abilities designed specifically for them. The units also tend to be disposed towards "attack before attacked" strategies due to the fact that most of them are Glass Cannons.
Ditto in previous installments, though they have some tankier units (some of them are the tanks of the installment. Case in point, Ogres in II and III). Also, in III, Stronghold can use magic but their Mage Guild only goes up to level 3 instead of 5 (though seizing a non-Stronghold town takes care of that problem).
Ranger Faction: The Sylvan faction, natch. Interestingly, elves aren't predominant in it except in V.
Interestingly, Life Faction(humans) in IV. They have an access to arguably the best ranged units(and Monks) in the game and outmatched only by the likes of Cyclops or Catapult (Crossbowmen who disregard the distance factor and Ballistae who do the same and disregard the obstacle penalty respectively), while their counterparts(Squires, Pikemen and Crusaders in that order) are fairly average in their own rights.
Technical Faction: The Academy. It specializes heavily in magic, and in V can even develop equipment for creatures to improve their statistics.
Fortress in Heroes 3. Sans first two tiers, every unit has some special ability(Dragonflies dispel buffs and put a debuff on their own, Gorgons have an ability to one-shot everything, depending on certain stats; Hydras attack everyone around and stop retaliations...) It's a bitch to put them to a good use, but if you do... They also overlap slightly with Elitist Faction mostly because how damn tanky most of them are.
Absurdly Low Level Cap: Campaigns usually give heroes a level cap in each map except the final. This can be as low as an easily reached level 8 for the first map in some cases. VI also generally caps it at Level 30.
Actually Four Mooks: Taking a step further, An enemy on the map and the battle screen represents a group of enemies.
After the End: The first four games' continuity is set on what were formerly colonies of a spacefaring race according to the Might and Magic games. The first three games' world was literally kicked back to the stone age by, in rough order, a robot uprising, usage of high-yield weapons on a highly-inhabited region, a general rebellion, and, as if that wasn't bad enough, an Alien Invasion of the local galatic arm that cut off all interstellar communication and left the Portal Network fragmented and inconsistently functional (the Heroes IV world, Axeoth, was never quite so detailed, but the portal network thing, at least, applies to them as well). The games are set just over a millenium after this.
In addition, Heroes IV is set in the aftermath of a much more recent cataclysm, following its survivors as they settle down on a new planet.
Interestingly, in V, the demons are apparently the only case of this. Even the Dark Elves and Undead have their good points, and all the non-demon factions team up at the end for an Enemy Mine scenario.
Ambidextrous Sprite: Appears in the first three games. Most humanoid units will swap which is their dominant hand based on the direction they are facing, but the most glaring example is III's Walking Dead, a one-armed zombie which can swap which of its arms has rotted away just by turning around.
Amplifier Artifact: Many artifacts give a boost to either your primary or secondary skills.
The Necromancy skill raises a percent of the (non-undead) casualties from each successful battle as skeletons (or, in the case of dragon casualties, bone dragons).
There is also a structure in the Necropolis (necromancer/undead city) that allows you to do this with 100% efficiency using your owntroops.
In the third game this is an actual spell. It functions as a temporary Ressurection, but if you use it on undead units, it becomes permanent even after the battle ends. Surprisingly one hero, Thant, starts with this ability and specializes in it, making him very good for early game rushes (his units basically never really die).
Anti-Magic: An actual skill of the Stronghold in V, and a traditional ability of the dragon creatures, with some exceptions (Azure dragon lacks it and not all the dragons in V have it) that grants them immunity to all magic, which sadly means while the enemy can't use magic on them, you can't heal them with it either.
Arbitrary Minimum Range: Ranged units are limited to melee attacks if there's an enemy unit adjacent to them- not only can they not use their main weapon against the adjacent enemy, they can't fire at anyone else either. In most cases, they only attack at half strength, but there are some exceptions to this rule.
Art Shift: There's been a fairly drastic one pretty much every single game.
The Atoner: Tarnum, of Heroes Chronicles. In the first episode, Warlords of the Wasteland, he commits many atrocities (killing one of his two sisters unknowingly, and nearly killing the other as well) in his conquest of the wizard kingdom. He was later killed by Rion Gryphonheart. The Ancestors judged him unworthy to enter paradise and forced him to return as an immortal to redeem himself. He does this through seven later chapaters, even rescuing Rion's daughter from the underworld in Conquest of the Underworld. He is completely redeemed and judged worthy to enter paradise during the Might Campaign of Heroes IV, but refused to enter, remaining a protector for his tribe in the new world.
Raelag aka Agrael in the fifth game. A stand alone scenario in the Tribes of the East expansion also reveals Tieru's reasons for leaving Sylvan society to fight demons. A demon made Tieru the Unwitting Pawn in its scheme to drive a wedge in elven society. As seen in a different stand alone scenario, this led to a faction of dark elves turning to demon worship to survive underground.
Awakening the Sleeping Giant: The Conflux in Armageddon's Blade is this. They'd been neutral for thousands of years thanks to Tarnum and only fought rarely as summons or mercenaries, but when the Kreegans figure out how to destroy the world, they show just what they're capable of.
Awesome, but Impractical: the Armageddon spell is a rain of fire and doom that deals massive damage to all creatures... yes, ALL creatures. Including yours, making it useful only as a final "screw you" to a powerful enemy, or with an army full of magic-immune or fire-immune creatures (powerful dragons, phoenixes, some elementals and some golems do the trick). Armageddon's Blade, however, grants you that spell AND gives all your units IMMUNITY to it!
Back from the Dead: The counterpart to Animate Dead for the more good-natured factions. Resurrection is one of the highest level spells and, just like Raise Dead, allows you to keep the animated troops after the fight. Regeneration and Vampirism have similar effects, but work on a smaller scale without the drawback of the stack loosing 10/20% of its hitpoints. And then there are the dwarves, which have a Rune of resurrection that instantly raises 40% of the fallen troops. In the sixth game, all healing spells and effects have the power to revive units if they can heal enough hit points, without any drawbacks. Most factions also have at least one creature with a healing ability, except for demons, orcs and dark elves.
Bag of Spilling: Artifacts generally don't carry over between missions (except for Tribes of the East, and even then not all of them). As for expansion packs, recurring characters never get to keep the skills and bonuses you worked so hard to acquire the last time you used them.
At least the main characters (i.e. those required to survive the scenario in question) get to keep their skills during all of the campaigns.
In VI only artifacts that are part of a set carry over between each scenario in campaigns. Again, the main characters and their sidekicks get to keep their skills.
Barred from the Afterlife: In VI, dead souls are supposed to be delivered to the goddess Asha for reincarnation, but those who die particularly violent or unjust deaths can find themselves trapped in the mortal world as ghosts. Necromancers who worship Asha sometimes try to bring comfort to them, in the hopes that they can rejoin the cycle. This is how ghosts come about...
also the fate of fallen Angels, deliberately done to defy death and ressurecting them as Celestials, sharing their body with a human
Bears Are Bad News: In V, the third-level unit of the dwarves consists of them riding brownbears at first and blackbears or polarbears depending on which upgrade you choose. Both of which are the second-fastest unit of the faction and especially the Blackbearriders will almost always steal the turn of their victim and push them back one tile. The Polarbearriders instead instill fear into their victim, causing them to run as far away as possible. Both of which are immune to a number of spells of the school of dark magic, as well.
Big Bad: Archibald in the second game. The undead King Gryphonheart near the end of the third game. Sandro in the Shadow of Death expansion to the third game. Kha-Beleth, the Demon Sovereign, in the fifth game. Biara, Kha-beleth's Dragon, takes up this role in the fifth game's expansions. Arantir in Dark Messiah of Might and Magic. In the sixth game, each of the campaigns has different Big Bads, though they are all tied to one of two Big Bads in the Finale.
Big Damn Heroes: In V, the otherwise foppish wizard Zehir almost singlehandedly steals victory from the villains. He frees his own homeland, teams up with the other main heroes, frees the Griffin Empire, and takes part in the final assault on Kha-Beleth. Findan also liberates his homeland from the forces of The Undead in his campaign. In Tribes of the East, Zehir does it again. His campaign is even called "Flying to the Rescue". Hammers of Fate'sDowner Ending might have been due to Zehir dealing with personal business while Ashan was going to hell.
Bilingual Bonus: The name "Mutare" comes from the Latin word meaning "to change" or "to mutate." No bonus points for guessing what Mutare does in her campaign...
Deyja means "to die" in Old Norse and Icelandic. Guess which faction rules over the Kingdom of Deyja.
Presumably in order to evoke kabbalistic or otherwise mystical connotations, the halos of the archangles in V are composed of traditional Hebrew calligraphy (but except in a single piece of concept art, where they spell "Shadai/שדי" one of the names of God, they don't say anything)
Bittersweet Ending: The Order campaign in the fourth game ends with the heroes saving the world from the Well-Intentioned Extremist, but as he's immortal, he is put into a catatonic state. The main character becomes the Queen of Great Arcan, but is permanently crippled by a sword through her spine. And also, the other Player Character becomes her main advisor because her old mentor is hypnotized by the Big Bad and later killed when he tries to assassinate the main character.
In the sixth game, either finale ends with the death of several central characters, nevermind the ordeals the main characters had to go through and still have to live with.
Bloody Murder: The alternate upgrade for hydra units in the fifth game's expansion Tribes of the East have acid for blood.
Boring, but Practical: The Logistics skill, especially in V. Being able to move further on the map may not be exciting, but damn if it isn't useful.
Enlightenment in V. It's a fairly boring stat boost with largely unimpressive perks, but it makes a big difference at higher levels.
Amusingly, the barbarian faction in V get the best perks from Enlightenment.
Boss in Mook Clothing: Fairy dragons, rust dragons, crystal dragons, and azure dragons from III, plus megadragons in IV. Can't be recruited in towns, have high costs, low population growth rate. They will still kill you dead if you meet them on the map without a very powerful army.
Any spellcasting creature can also qualify, as they usually cast devastating spells, allowing them to completely outclass any other creature of a similar level.
The spellcasters were so horribly powerful in IV that their casting power was reduced in V. Some of them are still a pain in the ass though.
The infamous master gremlins are also this early in the game, as they can hit from very far away when you don't have access to fast troops, usually guards vital locations, and deal relatively high damage. If you don't have any ranged troops of your own (and some towns don't that early) it can be a pain to collect resources guarded by Master Gremlins.
Some heroes can cast Disguise, which can cause you to see false statistics (normally you are given a general estimate of the strength of the army). In V, any hero who uses the Ballista build can also deceive opponents (even computers), due to the fact that their skills and warmachines are not factored into the estimate.
Efreeti in IV. Flying, fast, strong, and have the Fire Shield ability. Attacking a large group with a Hero in close combat is suicide. If the counterattack doesn't kill you, the reflected damage almost certainly will.
The sixth game introduces proper boss fights, mostly against beefed up versions of the various Champion creatures from each faction, though two of them came before the regular creature was introduced in Shades of Darkness. For a more regular example, Phoenixes are this. Not only are they fairly strong, none of the damage they cause can be healed, making it impossible to avoid losses unless they are severely outmatched.
Breast Plate: Catherine in III and Biara in V. Averted with Isabel and Freyda.
Butt Monkey: All sorts of bad things happen to Christian in the Armageddon's Blade campaign "Foolhardy Waywardness" (a prequel of sorts to the Restoration of Erathia). Half of them are Played for Laughs, and the other half are played for insanely difficult scenarios. The campaign ends with Queen Catherine rescuing Christian from the pirates on her way to Erathia and Christian looking forward to a good vacation. If you played the original Heroes 3 campaigns, you know what happens instead...
Cain and Abel: Ragnar's father and Morglin's father in the backstory of Heroes I. Archibald and Roland Ironfist in II. Canonically the 'Abel' Roland wins. Rolf and Wulfstan in V's Hammers of Fate expansion have this dynamic despite only being half-brothers. Curiously enough, Wulfstan has no direct part in Rolf's eventual death. Zehir ends up killing him in Tribes of the East. In fact, the same is true for Archibald and Roland Ironfist — neither proved willing to actually kill the other, and when they last met they semi-reconciled and parted ways on peaceful terms. This was after the 'Cain' Archibald had helped save his brother from the devils because, in his own words, even he couldn't bear the thought of Roland in their hands.
Came Back Wrong: This happens often thanks to necromancy. In III King Gryphonheart is revived as a powerful lich that proves to be more than the necromancers of Deyja can handle. And in V Nicolai is brought back as a vampire that can no longer feel love towards Isabel — only a thirst for blood.
Subverted utterly in VI with Anastasya - following her death in the intro-sequence, she's brought back from the death by her Necromancer aunt - apparently no worse for wear except for occasional complaints about feeling cold. If anything, getting killed has made her a better person - during a later Journey to the Center of the Mind, she realizes that her death was brought on by her own weakness and childishness, and resolves to grow up and take charge of her own destiny. Of course, in VI, the Necromancers are the closest they've ever been to Dark Is Not Evil...
Granted, whether she winds up as a better or worse person at the end of it all is somewhat up to the player - if you take the Path of Dragon's Blood, this former aspiring priestess of light can wind up quite bloodthirsty and cold, and you're free to blame that on your undead nature...
Clarke's Third Law: It's never explicitly stated, but since the first four games take place in the same continuity as the Might and Magic games, it stands to reason that most of the ancient 'magical' artifacts encountered are, like in Might and Magic itself, actually just incredibly advanced technology left over from the Ancients.
Class and Level System: All the games in the series have used a system where the skills a hero was likely to learn as well as his attribute growth was determined by his or her class. The fourth game, as part of a Re Tool allowed you to change your heroes' classes.
The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: In the 5th game, the AI gets building cost reduction, unit cost reduction, revealed maps and instead of actually battling wild monsters, it runs an loss estimate, which is usually favorable for them, among other things. The cost reduction starts at normal level and goes as far as 70% off on the highest level. All just because the AI is really stupid, doing things like not picking up treasure lying around and fleeing at the start of the battle, effectively giving up their entire army they had on that hero.
Not just 5, although it's the most egregious. Earlier games also had a cheating AI at least in the sense of being able to see through the Fog of War, and III for instance outright tells you that higher difficulty settings give the AI more resources and starting troops.
Actually, in III Easy and Normal give the player a resource advantage and makes the AI play poorer, Hard and on has the AI play as well as it can and the only difference is in the amount of initial resources the player gets. It doesn't affect starting troops and says nothing about the AI's resources.
The 4th game was paticularly frustrating in this aspect. Several of the campaign levels featured one-way teleporters right into your territory. Coupled with the AI being unaffected by fog of war (and perhaps even shroud), you're going to get a lot of invasions as soon as you leave your towns at the least bit disadvantaged.
At least in II, heroes resting up in castles get their spell points back at the beginning of their turn, for players anyway; for the computer? Well, the computer gets spell points back at the end of its turn. They attack you in a castle, no spell points back. You attack them in a castle, they've got them all back.
Apparently, the development team for VI is working to make this as minimal as possible. We'll just have to wait and see how this works out.
Continuity Cameo: all over the place in the first games with early Might and Magic characters, and again in V and VI, despite taking place in a separate universe.
Continuity Porn: The "Legends of the Ancients" fan-made campaign for V, including tons of references to the previous games and the Might and Magic series, with nearly all the characters as familiar faces.
The stand-alone custom scenarios in VI are essentially love letters to previous games in the Might and Magic universe. "A Princess of VARN" takes place on VARN, the setting of the first Might and Magic game. "The Succession Wars" re-tells the battle between Roland and Archibald Ironfist in Heroes of Might and Magic II. "A Tale of Two Guardians" does the same with the final battle between Corak the Mysterious and Sheltem the Dark on the world of XEEN in Might and Magic V.
There are also new overworld themes in Shades of Darkness which are remixes from the themes in 'III', along with the returning Dungeon faction unit lineup being rather inspired by the Dungeon in 'III'.
Continuity Reboot: Heroes V takes place in a completely different universe from its predecessors, with the main factions superficially imitating ones from the third installment.
The Coroner Doth Protest Too Much: The intro to II features a series of scenes where the successive Royal Seers of Enroth keep getting killed off, with the descriptions of the deaths and the visuals being off-kilter (except for the dragon attack. Of course, dragon attacks can be both random or orchestrated), with the descriptions calling them accidents and the visuals pointing to someone causing them (for instance, the 'boating accident' was caused by a mage calling down a lightning bolt on the boat). This seems to have been a bit too much to believe for the royal court, since the next move by the prince implied to have been responsible for the deaths (Archibald) is to accuse his brother of murdering the Seers.
Crystal Dragon Jesus: All of the gods in V are dragons. All of the dragon units in the game (except for the undead dragons) are the children of the dragon gods. So technically speaking, every dragon in the game (except the undead) is a Crystal Dragon Jesus!
Cutscene Incompetence: The undead in the intro movie for VI; in-game, skeletons are ranged units armed with javelins, and fate-spinners are shape-shifters who have one form for ranged attacks and another that specialises in melee. In the cutscene, they all charge into melee against Anton's forces (the fate-spinner doesn't shift into her melee form) and are mowed down by Anton and his men.
Dark Reprise: In Heroes of Might and Magic V, Necropolis town theme is a "corrupted" version of Haven town theme. Fitting, as during the Necropolis campaign, the Griffin Empire is being slowly corrupted by Markal.
Decoy Protagonist: King Nicolai in the fifth game. The intro cutscene focuses on Nicolai as he fights and beats a devil in single combat. Agrael kills him in a cutscene at the end of the first campaign. Then he gets turned into a vampire. Then he gets Killed Off for Real.
To a lesser extent, Isabel as well. The Haven campaign puts her at the front, but it's her loyal knight Godric who fights the final battle for the humans. But in the end of Tribes of the East, she kills main antagonist, Biara. The entire Heroes V saga revolves around her though.
Downer Ending: Heroes of Might and Magic V: Hammers of Fate. The bad guys win. The heroic main characters ultimately accomplish absolutely nothing to stop Big Bad Biara. They end up playing right into the villains' hands well, talons in the final scenario when they kill the Dwarven King Tolghar. Tribes of the East consists mostly of damage control, but this time the heroes except Arantirearn their happy ending.
The main game to an extent. Everything seems fine until you see Isabel's eyes...
How about Heroes Chronicles: Sword of Frost, where Tarnum fails to get the Sword of Frost before Kilgore's wife does. Tarnum had a chance to kill her, but imprisoned her instead. Well, she escaped. Tarnum states in the end, "Please don't let my compassion destroy the world!". Well it does, Tarnum...
Elemental Embodiment: They first appear in II as natural creatures with the traditional affinities of Air/Earth/Fire/Water. In III's Armageddon's Blade expansion pack, they are part of new "Conflux" town, and psychic was added as new element. Their upgraded forms are Storm, Magma, Energy, Ice, and Magic.
Become the subject of Heroes Chronicles: Master of the Elements, where Tarnum has to face the four elemental lords.
Elemental Powers: The third game uses the traditional Air/Earth/Fire/Water as spell schools.
Other games use different schools, but the traditional four elements are still present.
Elemental Tiers: In III, the elementals have a hierarchy of power: Air elementals are the weakest (level 2), then Water elementals (level 3), then Fire elementals (level 4), and the strongest are the Earth elementals (level 5).
The End of the World as We Know It: The world of the first three games, Antagarich, was destroyed when two swords who each possessed enough power to destroy the world collided. The world of Ashan, the setting of V and VI, also has its share of world ending threats. The Demon Sovereign wants to unleash his legions of Hell to burn Ashan to ashes. And he still pales in comparison to Sandro, a lich who considers the entire universe to be a prison created by the gods and wishes to use the Power of the Void to unmake reality itself and reshape it in his image.
Enemy Exchange Program: No matter how many angels you've got in your army, nobody ever seems to object when you march right into a conquered necropolis or outpost of hell and, instead of razing it to the ground, violate nature by raising unnatural horrors to do your presumably virtuous bidding. Though it should be noted that having creatures from different castles serving under a single hero tends to decrease their morale.
Becomes a plot point in The Shadow of Death when the barbarian and ranger heroes fail in their initial attack against Sandro because their troops can't get along with each other.
Also occurs as a gameplay obstacle in V, when Demonlord Agrael has to field elves... that promptly begin to desert his ranks every day.
This comes up again in Tribes of the East, where you burn down conquered towns as orcs instead of being able to use them. Granted, you pillage a lot of resources this way.
The sixth game also gives you the option of converting buildings and towns to your faction. Which generally none objects to either, but it does come up in a few scenarios.
Enemy Mine: The third game's campaign "Song For The Father" features a team-up between the necromancers of Deyja and Queen Catherine when the former discover that the recently undeadified King Gryphonheart is Eviler Than Them.
Also, the dark elves in V and its first expansion, then the alliance between wizards and orcs in Tribes of the East.
Evil Plan: The entire plot of the fifth game isBig Bad Kha-beleth's gambit. Impregnating Isabel, splitting her soul so Biara could impersonate her and wreck havoc in the Griffin Empire (thus distracting all of the heroes); all to ensure that his son the Demon Messiah would have a chance to one day free Kha-beleth for good. Whether or not his gambit actually succeeds depends on the player's choices at the end of a different game, namely Dark Messiah.
Not to mention Markal, who exploits Isabel's depression to crush his ancient enemies into the dirt, rise to power as leader of the necromancers, raise the King of the Empire as a bloodthirsty vampire that almost destroys the Elves, take over the Empire and protect his mortality with three relics such that the good guys ultimately require three armies to kill him. He got to rule half the factions in the world all without actually lying to Isabel about why he needed to do it, meaning every single step of his plan was also one of his goals. That's efficiency. Oh, and he also came back to life and tried to kill the man that killed him by pretending to be his dead father in a side scenario in Hammers of Fate, but that didn't go quite as well.
Evil Sorcerer: At one point in his campaign, Gauldoth Half-Dead of Heroes IV lampshades the tendency for necromancers to become the evil Take Over the World overreaching villain. That said, it's not that common an affliction: over the course of the six games taking place on Enroth, a grand total of one character (Sandro) fitting this trope shows up, and even he survives the ordeal and aims for more modest goals after that.
Face-Heel Turn and Heel-Face Turn: In one campaign, the player (who takes on the role of a tactician) is offered a chance to defect by the other side, regardless of if the player is playing on the side of the heroes of the side of the villains.
However, you lose all the alliances you acquired on the side you were on.
The bios of several Necromancers of Deyja noted how they were originally prodigies when they were studying in Bracada, but later decided to turn to Necromancy after either falling down a Slippery Slope or to save a loved one, only to be shunned by their peers for their taboo.
Gavin Magnus, the Big Bad of the Order campaign in IV, was previously the Big Good in Might & Magic VII. Witnessing the destruction of your planet will do that.
Fan Nickname: "Ubival" (Ubisoft and Nival, the publisher and developer of V, respectively).
Funnily enough, "Ubival" is the male third person singular past tense form of "kill", i.e. "he killed", in Russian. Seeing as Nival is a Russian developer and the entire HOMM series is quite popular in Russia, it might not be a coincidence. There are numerous players, both Russian-speaking and not, who dislike the changes in V (either the gameplay or the art style or the completely different universe).
And now "Ubihole" from, you guessed it, Ubisoft and Black Hole.
Fantastic Racism: Ubiquitous, as you would expect. Taken to a whole new level in Chronicles, in which Tarnum leads the Fortress people (consisting of lizardmen, hyena-men, and swamp monsters) to fight their Castle oppressors (humans allied with angels).
In VI the Angels hate the Faceless. The Angels honestly seem to consider the Faceless to be worse than the demons. By contrast the Faceless are a lot more willing to leave the war between them in the past.
they did interfere when the Angels were about to wipe out the Demons, but only because that would've messed up the natural order
The Humanoid role could be taken by the (apparently neutral) Free Cities.
Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Quite averted in the four first games, but the fifth and sixth have elements of it: Haven correspond to Europenote More precisely, Falcon Duchy is Rome, Griffin's Western Europe/Russia, Bull's Italy/Spain, Greyhound's France, Unicorn's England, Stag's Ireland, Raven's Scandinavia and Wolf's Germany., Academy to Middle-East. Sylvan (Elves) has a soft Native American style in V, Necropolis a Babylonian/Egyptian one in VI. Sanctuary (Nagas) in VI are Japanese right down to creature names, despite mythological Nagas being Indian. Strangely, the Stronghold (Orcs) has changed between V and VI from Mongols to Aztecs.
Fridge Brilliance: Mongols and Native Americans (including Aztecs) are considered offshots of one race, Native Americans crossing onto that continent from Asia. Orcs in V and VI are different offshots of the same horde that have fled from the Wizards into the steppes (V) and onto the islands (VI).
Fire Keeps It Dead: In V, the necromancer Markal is cremated after his death because the heroes are worried he might try to restore himself to life as a lich.
Flavor Text: Heroes of Might and Magic II, III and IV have a small text describing the acquisition of a new artifact, Heroes Of Might And Magic IV, V and VI has a description of every unit in the game. Heroes also get a small bio when you recruit them.
Fusion Dance: In the sixth game, the Seraphim and Celestials are Angelic souls fused with human souls and bodies. Various bloodlines, like the Griffins, were cultivated by the Angels for the sole purpose of providing fresh bodies and souls to create more Celestials. Archangel Michael returned from death by fusing with Pavel Griffin, Duke Slava's father and Sveltana's brother. Uriel's reason for romancing Anastasya was to make her a suitable vessel for the soul of his mother Aurora.
Game-Breaking Bug: The Gameboy games would occasionally give your enemy an army of a thousand of any unit. Including Dragons.
With Eternal Essence, Heroes V has recently gotten one as well. It's still in development, but it got rid of nearly all cheats of the AI, greatly shortened the length of turns and made the AI much more intelligent in general.
The Horn of the Abyss mod for Heroes III adds a tenth town (although new towns have been made before, they have all been replacers for a town already in the game), two full-length campaigns (although currently without voice-overs or campaign-maps) plus some thematically appropriate extras, and future versions will add even more towns.
No matter whether your settlement lies between active volcanoes, in underground tunnels or the Elemental Plane of Death, you'll always find an ore mine and a sawmill nearby.
Up until IV, picking up an item would trigger a small story snippet about how your Hero finds or earns it. Depending on the Hero and setting in question, these may make no sense at all.
Some of the descriptions given to upgraded creatures in VI don't match the recruiting mechanics in-game; for example, PraetorianGuards are only supposed to be promoted on one day of the year, and jaguar warriors can only be promoted to panther warriors after killing an extremely rare and dangerous predator native to the Pao islands.
Geo Effects: Mostly affects movement, but III added each race or alignment having a terrain they feel comfortable fighting on, as well as some terrains that effect magic, such as cursed grounds, magic fields, and elemental planes. V does this as well, with every faction having no penalty on their homelands. Graslands are good for everyone, but Dwarves, e.g., have snow as their home terrain, whereas every other faction suffers great penalties while marching over it.
To an extent any monster stack with defense proportionally low compared to their offense. Wolf Raiders in HoMM3 take the cake - high offensive power, double attack, and 10 health per wolf raider. If they get hit they're not getting back up. And the AI likes to pick on them.
The blood maiden/fury can travel to 3/4 of the map, hurt a lot and then come back where she starts (and in the case of the blood fury, without being struck back). However, she has low health and defense and is the favorite target of PC-controlled creatures, which makes her lifespan quite short.
Global Airship: Zehir gets one in Tribes of the East, in the form of a flying city. Though he usually has to pay experience to move it.
The Townscreen of Academy is this in general, as all their cities are flying in the skies above Ashan.
Go Mad from the Revelation: Alaric goes batshit insane, when it is revealed that the Isabel he served turns out to be the succubus Biara.
Good Is Dumb: Isabel all over. Godric also counts in the sense that his loyalty prevents him from opposing Markal until it's too late. Freyda faces the same problem in her campaign in Hammers of Fate, then gets tricked, along with every other protagonist in the game, to kill the Dwarven King Tolghar for the false Queen. Raelag also acts far too naive when Shadya comes from nowhere to help him.
Good Is Not Nice: Roland in Heroes II may be "good, kindly, and honorable," but he isn't above using force of arms to subjugate the nobility near his castle (albeit reluctantly) or turn Archibald to stone.
Before The Price of Loyalty (which changed the town themes around), it was alignment-coded: the good towns had random quotes from a German translation of the Bible, while the evil towns had random quotes from Also sprach Zarathustra in the original German.
Guide Dang It: Obtaining the ultimate skills for each of the heroes in the fifth game. A specific set of skills needs to be acquired beforehand, and there is no way to find out which skills are needed in-game aside from trial and error. Due to the starting skills of some heroes, obtaining the ultimate skill might not even be possible. Not to mention that obtaining the ultimate skills usually means losing out on other potentially more useful abilities.
Tribes of the East made them easier to obtain, and the game includes the Skill Wheel to know which skills to choose.
Also, quite a few gameplay changes were not documented ingame. For instance, Wasp Swarm slows the enemy if cast with any expertise. The spell tooltip doesn't mention it.
This extends to the town names, which incidentally does affect gameplay now in V. However, it's not mentioned in-game at all.
Neutral Goblin boar cavalry with Armageddon's Blade.
As well as ordinary horses, animals used as steeds in the fifth game include zombie horses (necromancers), unicorns (elven rangers), elephants (wizards), giant lizards (warlocks, and dark elf cavalry), mammoths (dwarven runemages), bears (dwarven cavalry), and oxen (orc barbarians).
Idiot Ball: Sandro deceives Crag Hack and Gem way too easily. Crag Hack at least is usually portrayed as a typical brutish barbarian. Gem has no such excuse.
Isabel in the fifth game just won't let go of the damn thing during Markal's campaign - something Markal gleefully uses for his own ends.
And Winston Boragus, the ruler of Krewlod, dribbles it when he comes up with Yog's test to become a barbarian. He has Yog split apart and scatter the pieces of the Angelic Alliance, one of the most powerful weapons in the game. If you've got an Infinity+1 Sword, why the hell would you want to get rid of it? If Boragus had kept it, maybe Kilgor wouldn't have been able to kill him during Armageddon's Blade.
The devils in III and IV have one where they make a Morpheus-esque "bring it" gesture towards the enemy.
The Spearmen and Vampires in VI will start riverdancing and using their swords as guitars, respectively.
Azkaal, also from VI, starts playing baseball if left to idle.
Illegal Religion: In VI, Duke Anton issues an edict that all citizens of his Duchy must convert to the worship of Elrath, sparking a rebellion.
Infinity+1 Sword: The third game (and the Heroes Chronicles spinoff campaigns) introduce three powerful swords that are treated as Infinity Plus One Swords in the story. The Armageddon's Blade expansion has the titular Armageddon's Blade, which in game gives nice boost to most of the wielder's stats and allows them cast Armageddon at expert level even if they couldn't use it normally, and it doesn't affect your own troops like it does normally, meaning you just us Armageddon For Massive Damage on the enemy without hurting your own army. The Shadow of Death has the Angelic Alliance, a combination of several other artifacts which combined give +21 to attack, defense, power, and knowledge, more than any other combo, allows for mixing of standard troops with neutrals without moral penalties, and casts prayer at the start of each battle. The last Heroes Chronicles campaign revolves around the Sword of Frost. The Armageddon's Blade and the Sword of Frost were so powerful that they destroyed the world when they struck each other.
Ingame expample in 5: The Unicorn Bow is the Infinity Plus One Bow, especially with the matching quiver.
The Infinity plus one Set would be the Power of Dragons. If completed, it grants you a total of +10 to attack and defense, +11 to spellpower and wisdom, increases the initiative of your entire army by at least 10%, adds 20 extra HP as well as +5 to attack and defense of your tier-7 units and adds one additional unit of your tier-7 creatures to your army. Every. Single. Day. Oh, and its parts are fairly common items in the stores of the artifact merchants, which makes it surprisingly easy to get if one has enough gold to pay for the individual artifacts.
VI adds legacy weapons, which have their own experience bars and will level up across any campaigns or scenarios you use them in. Initially the stats or abilities these weapons grant are rather mediocre, but as they increase in power they approach Infinity Plus One status.
Instant Awesome, Just Add Dragons: The Ashan universe, and as such, V and VI. There are Dragon-Gods, their numerous offsprings, undead dragons, a wizard who became one, Dragon-Knights, Dragon's blood as a resource in VI...
Though ironically, VI toned down the prevalence of dragons to the point where only one ever crosses your path... Shades of Darkness brought back Black Dragons and Spectral Dragons along with the classic Dragon Utopia structure.
Karma Meter: The Blood/Tears mechanic introduced in VI.
Killed Off for Real: Most of the major storyline characters from the first three games were killed in the cataclysm that lead to the fourth game, and quite a few characters major and minor are killed in the fifth game and its expansions: Nicolai, Tieru the Dragon Knight, the Sylvan king Alaron, Zehir's father Cyrus, Markal, Godric, Soulscar clan leader Thralsai, Dwarven king Tolghar, Giovanni, Ornella, War-chief Quroq, Alaric, Wulfstan's half-brother Rolf, and Biara all end up dead for good by the end. Furthermore, in the backstory of the fifth game, Markal's mentor the lich Sandro was Killed Off for Real by wizards led by Cyrus. Oddly enough, Freyda escaped her fate at the hands of Markal, even though the game strongly suggested otherwise. This inconsistency is lampshaded in Tribes of the East.
Zehir:Freyda? I thought Markal had killed her. As tough as her old man I suppose.
Lens Flare: Seen in some 3D town flythroughs in V, most noteably in the Rampart, where a certain camera angle will flare the entire screen.
Light Is Not Good: The Red Haven in Hammer of fate. Uriel and the Angels in general in VI
Lightning Bruiser: Most level 7 creatures in III, with a few exceptions that aren't fast enough are a Mighty Glacier, which have stats that are a huge step above whatever your town's level 6 creature is. Same applies to the neutral dragon creatures. As a tradition, dragons are always this.
Lightning/Fire Juxtaposition: Dwarves in V generally feel a great affinity towards fire, borne from their connection with the dragon-god Arkath, but there are some exceptions; the rune-mage Svea is regarded as an oddity because she developed a talent for lightning magic while acting as an ambassador to the Silver Cities, and the Thanes can use either fire or lightning to enhance their combat abilities (Flame Thanes can generate shockwaves and burn their enemies, while Thunder Thanes use Chain Lightning to attack multiple foes at once).
Magikarp Power: The 'Arcane Omniscience' skill for wizards in V. A wizard who wants to learn this will be forced to rely on their army and low level spells until their level is in the mid 20's. After it's learned they can cast every spell in the game with maximum mastery.
Mauve Shirt: Hadrin, a minor character in Gauldoth's campaign in IV, goes from 'just another disposable zombie' to 'Gauldoth's personal bodyguard' over the course of the fourth mission.
Meaningful Name: Most members of the Griffin family in VI have really existing names, mostly Slavic, and one Hungarian:
Sveltana: mangling of Svetlana, light (an ironic name for a necromancer, indeed)
Sandor: variation of Alexander, defender of men
Mega Manning: Some games have the Eagle Eye skill, allowing heroes to learn new spells by watching them being cast in battle. And it's considered one of the most useless skills in the game (As the usual requirements still apply, it'll usually only work on lower level spells which are easy to find anyway).
One campaign in the fourth game sets this up as a moral dilemma—do you attack the warlord who's captured your mentor, or the one who's working slaves to death by the thousands? Chose to fight the latter, and you will be given a rather graphic description of the mentor's execution. Fortunately, they Never Found the Body...
And in the fifth game, one of Markal's goals in his campaign is to kill the leader of the wizards, Cyrus, for the dual purposes of claiming an artifact he needs for his schemes and to avenge his master Sandro's death at the hands of Cyrus.
Mighty Whitey: Heroes VI has the campaigns revolve around the offspring of the Griffin Duchy that become scattered and join the other factions after the tutorial is over. All of them integrate into their newfound homes of orcs, naga, undead and demons without much trouble and soon grow into positions of leadership (although for the last two this is hardly unheard of)
Morale Mechanic: The games include a morale modifier. High morale gives a unit a chance to attack a second time, against the normal rules of Turn-Based Combat, while low morale makes them flinch and miss a turn. Morale bonuses are activated randomly, based on how high morale is: Geo Effects, artefacts, single-race armies, spells, angels and taverns all raise morale, while skeletons, dark dragons and ransacking empty tombs all lower it.
Slightly different in Heroes V due to the different turn-based system, good morale cuts the time until the units next turn in half, whereas bad morale forces them to skip the turn, but also brings the next turn twice as quickly. Heroes VI returned to the traditional system but kept the essentially halved effect idea for good morale, meaning the second turn only allows half the movement range and attack power (and doesn't allow the use of special abilities).
Mundane Made Awesome: And how! During in-game cutscenes in the fifth game, characters will conjure lightning, invoke random flashes of light and cast fireballs while discussing the weather. (Well, not literally, but you get the point.) Quite a bit of narm there, too.
Murder the Hypotenuse: The Big Bad of the "Elwin and Shara" campaign in the fourth game tries to pull this on Elwin. Since Elwin is the player character, he fails. In the fifth game, this is the main reason Agrael kills Nicolai at the end of Isabel's campaign. He seems aware that, while this act removed one obstacle from his desires, it also introduced an even bigger one since Isabel knows he killed Nicolai and ends up swearing revenge.
Agrael: Well, things just got simpler. And a lot more complicated.
Mutually Exclusive Magic: In some of the games certain heroes are barred from learning certain schools of magic, meaning those skills will never appear among the skill choices offered during a level increase. They can't even learn those skills at map buildings. This is a minor plot point in Adrienne's campaign in Armageddon's Blade. Unlike the other witches of Tatalia (which is essentially an entire nation built on a swamp) who focus on earth and water magic, Adrienne...well, she's called the Fire Witch for a reason. In her backstory she was actually exiled as a result. She only comes back when her nation is under attack from the undead Lord Haart.
Although Adrienne's campaign touches on the fact that fire magic isn't actually mutually exclusive to earth or water magic, it's just that the Tatalian witch tradition prefers water/earth and dislikes fire (as Might and Magic VI-VIII makes clear, they're actually unusual in that, since the elemental schools aren't mutually exclusive in any way and in fact the ability to learn one of them comes together with the ability to learn all of them).
Never Forgotten Skill: Might and Magic: Heroes VI: Lampshaded, where after a Hero and his orc friend, Kraal, hijack a boat, they talk about sailing it.
Kraal: Kraal is island Orc. Will be okay. Sailing is like riding a horse:
Sandor: Because once you know how you never forget?
Kraal: No. Because you fall off a lot. Heh heh heh.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: This trope is why the fourth game takes place on a different world from the past three games. Gelu, a hero from the Armageddon's Blade expansion of the third game wielded the titular Blade against the barbarian Kilgor, who wielded the Sword of Frost. Gelu was trying to stop Kilgor's mad campaign of world conquest. Unfortunately, when the two Blades struck each other, the entire world blew up.
Agrael in V. If he didn't kill Nicolai before Isabel was crowned, she wouldn't have had to deal with rebels, and Markal wouldn't have had an opening to manipulate her.
Not to mention how many elves he killed in his Irollan raid, destabilizing the kingdom enough for vampire lord Nicolai to almost conquer it. For someone who is supposed to be looking for redemption, Agrael/Raelag is actually a very evil person.
And if Godric hadn't acted like the Knight in Shining Armor he is, the whole chain of events that forced Agrael to kill Nicolai wouldn't have happened. Agrael was, after all, preparing to betray the Demon Sovereign and run away with the captive Isabel.
In fairness to Godric, how was he supposed to know that? Besides, with Biara around, I'm pretty sure that Agrael wouldn't have been able to escape with Isabel so easily.
Nintendo Hard: The campaigns in the Armageddon's Blade expansion for III. The difficulty settings for each campaign are set from "hard" to "impossible" and the scenarios themselves are just brutal. See where it mentions the azure dragons? Yeah, the last mission of one of these campaigns gives your hero a six month time limit to get past a gauntlet of incredibly powerful creature stacks to fight one hundred azure dragons. Said campaign also heavily relies on luck and other forms of Fake Difficulty. And it isn't even the hardest campaign.
V isn't shy of some brutal scenarios either. For example, The Cultists, where your two main heroes fight against a bunch of powerful heroes with no less than seven towns. You start with none, though you can capture the first two towns fairly quickly. For extra fun, there are also demon heroes that spawn on a regular basis to harass you. Or The Emerald Ones, where you are at a 3:1 disadvantage for quite some time and also have no access to your tier 7 unit. Contrary to what reviewers have stated, the expansions are fairly harmless in regards to AI opponents, but neutral stacks can be huge.
Lampshaded in Heroes V's Heroic difficulty, where it says something along the lines of "if you beat this difficulty, let us know. We didn't think it was possible".
Non-Standard Game Over: In IV, if Waerjak attacks the Boar's Hoof tribe, his tribe will deem his philosophy of community to be a lie and betray him, triggering one of these.
Obvious Beta: Seems to plague the series from IV onwards, requiring lots of patches to get the gameplay right.
Odd Name Out: Most members of the Griffin family in VI have real, if misspelled, Slavic names. Most. So we have Pavel, Slava, Sveltana, Anastasya, Irina, Kiril, and... Sandor. (Makes sense in context, considering he's a bastard.)
IV also got this for some of the town themes, particularly the Haven and Preserve towns.
II started the whole chanting, and when it wasn't around in III, some fans complained.
Order Versus Chaos: The fourth game has this andGood Versus Evil. It was actually set up like a wheel with Order, Life, Nature, Chaos, Death, and back to Order, with Might in the center. Each of the non-Might factions has two rival factions based on which ones aren't adjacent to it on the wheel (Order hates Nature and Chaos, Life hates Chaos and Death, Nature hates Death and Order...)
V and VI also have this. Urgash, the Dragon of Chaos, is the entity worshipped by the demons. Everyone else, even the necromancers, worship Asha, the Dragon of Order (the other "good" dragon gods are her children). The necromancers have a somewhat dark take on Asha and refer to her as the Spider-Goddess. (Ironic when you consider that another major spider goddess in popular media is an insane Chaotic Evil monster).
Also Sarah in VI, after she finds the demonic weapon. She seems to become half-angel, half-demon.
Our Dragons Are Different: In the fifth game, the gods of the setting are dragons; all the dragon units in the game (except for the undead ones, which are assembled from the remains of the others) are the "children" of the gods. They vary in appearance depending on which god they serve; one faction's dragons are made of fire, lava and magma.
The fourth game had dragon golems, mechanical dragons piloted by dwarves.
Our Elves Are Better: There are the Sylvan wood elves and the Dungeon dark elves. Both hate each other! Thanks to a demon's plan.
The old setting had at least three races of elves, though only one of them properly showed up in the Heroes games (the High/Wood/Light elves. The Vori Snow Elf had a half-elf and ended up represented by the High/Wood/Light-elven Rampart town for Heroes Chronicles).
Our Liches Are Different: Pretty standard "undead magi" in II, III and V (and, considering the whole willing-undeath-to-study-more-magic concept, one tier higher than living magi in III and V). Necromancers who prolong their life by venom injections in VI. What.
Even better: when HOMM6!Lich gets all his blood replaced with venom, he becomes a vampire.
Public Domain Artifact: The artifact needed for a special, powerful structure (often a way to win) was called the Grail in Heroes III. V got a bit more creative by calling it the "Tear of Asha", but there are still instances where the building is called the "Grail structure".
The "Tear of Asha" is especially notable for bearing no small resemblance to a certain ark.
Put on a Bus: Findan and Raelag from V don't appear at all in Tribes of the East unless you count the one stand-alone scenario which shows how Agrael/Raelag ended up watching over Isabel as she grew up. They both have excuses though. Findan's busy rebuilding his country after civil war broke out in Hammers of Fate, and Raelag left to deal with the threat of the Demon Messiah.
Arantir also immediately disappears after his campaign, a first for any leading protagonist. He is the antagonist in Dark Messiah of Might and Magic however.
Puzzle Boss: A special case for this genre is present in the Heroes 3 expansion. In the mission to slay Faerie Dragons, it is necessary to defeat several thousand Nagas in a single battle, an enemy number that's impossible to match with troops or magic by the six month time limit. The solution? Repeatedly cast Berskerk on the Nagas to make them kill each other, whittling down their numbers until you can handle the winner yourself.
Real Is Brown: Generally avoided, but the third game got the closest. Freed from the 256-color constraints of the first two games, it favored a "realistic" art style with a subdued palette, as opposed to the vibrant colors found in the rest of the series.
Taken Up to Eleven in VI, where Might Heroes can get a skill that lets you build a second structure in a town that's already built something that turn.
Road Cone: The endings of the first two games. Only one ending out of four and two, respectively, is canonical.
Rock Monster: Earth Elementals, neutral, bulky and sturdy creatures made of rock, with some immunities.
RPG Elements: You use heroes as generals leading armies, walking around the map killing stuff and gaining levels, finding artifacts, and learning spells. The fourth game took this even further by making the heroes actual battlefield units, culminating in several campaign scenarios where you only have access to heroes.
Savage Wolves: Wolves have been in every game since I, and in the first four games they attacked twice per round. There are the Goblinriders in III, who hit twice with each turn. Then there are the neutral wolves of V, which can easily multiply their number and all of the surrounding stacks attack the target during every action one of them has, making them nasty opponents even for decent-sized armies. And finally there are the white and dire wolves from VI.
Sequential Boss: The Demon Sovereign and Biara in the finale of V. First, the 4 main heroes have to defeat Biara in seperate battles, then destroy the barrier surrounding the Demon Sovereign in separate battles, and finally defeat him for real in seperate battles. And thats not counting the garrisons they have to conquer first. The last mission is essentially 16 battles in one day, though some of them can be pretty short.
Godric counts as a minor example in Markal's campaign. Once his army (consisting of Academy units) is defeated, his Haven troops take the field immediately.
Heroes II: The Succession Wars, on the other hand, is fairly black and white, with Roland as the good guy and Archibald as the bad guy.
The Price of Loyalty again seems to have some shades of gray.
And Heroes III: The Restoration of Erathia again seems to be mostly black and white, with Erathia and its allies, Bracada and AvLee, as the good guys. Though the game does seem to have "neutral" factions - "Fortress" (Tatalia) and "Stronghold" (Krewlod) - the role they play in the campaign makes them just another bunch of bad guys.
The 'secret' campaign Seeds of Discontent puts an independence-seeking rebel group (represented by Rampart) tired of the constant fighting over the region against militias loyal to Erathia (Castle) and AvLee (also Rampart), but the campaign is not exactly canonicalnote The background is accurate, but the protagonists of the campaign must have failed by the second scenario at the latest for certain plot elements in later games to make sense.
The Armageddon's Blade expansion's primary campaign has similar black and white morality, the demons want to use the titular sword to destroy the world, though sadly, not all of the good factions seem to grasp this.
In Heroes IV, the Life, Might and Nature campaigns are mostly black and white, with you playing as the good guy. The Order campaign is more complicated - though Emilia is the unambiguous Hero of the campaign, and the former good guy Gavin Magnus is the main villain, the way he becomes said villain is rather interesting, and of course there is Solymr ibn Wali Barad, a well-meaning genie who is bound by loyalty to Gavin Magnus and hence is forced to fight Emilia. The Death campaign casts you as a rather dark Anti-Hero who is forced to fight the supposed "good guys" just to survive, and then saves the world from his former mentor. The Chaos campaign seems to be a case of Evil Versus Evil.
Simultaneous Arcs: In Hammers of Fate, second and third campaigns (and part of the first) all span roughly the same period of time.
Same for the base campaigns in VI, with several cutscenes where two storylines cross paths. The two final missions (one for blood, one for tears-aligned heroes also seem to take place at the same time, with the same opening and final cutscene.
Standard Fantasy Setting: Yes and no for the original verse. The setting isn't quite standard (as evidenced by the fact that Clarke's Third Law has an entry on this page), but you wouldn't know that from just playing the Heroes games.
The Shadow of Death acts as Sandro's Start of Darkness. However, Sandro is evil from the start; The Shadow of Death tells the tale of his rise to power and how he basically started the Restoration Wars. It also explains why Sandro can be found in a prison during the necromancer campaign of the third game.
Stock Sound Effects: Aren't these jingles in Heroes of Might and Magic III a little bit too familiar?
Two Lines, No Waiting: In the Academy campaign in IV, the eight different maps are built up like this. The first two maps feature Emilia, while the next two let you control a hero from the other side of the conflict, Solymr. At the fifth map, you're back to Emilia again, and at the sixth map, Solymr undergoes a Heel-Face Turn. At the seventh map, you control Emilia and her player party at the surface of the map, and Solymr under the earth, both on different quests. Lastly, at the eight map, you get to control both in the final confrontation with the Big Bad.
The Undead: Recurring villains throughout most of the series save for the Expansion Pack to the fifth game, where they become enemies of the demons, like the other races.
Unholy Nuke: Death Ripple damages all non-undead units on the battlefield. Unholy Word from V does the same, but also excludes demons.
Curse of the Netherworld, the ultimate ability of the Blood-aligned Reaper class for Necromancers in VI, does considerable damage to all living stacks and heals all undead stacks at the same time.
Unwitting Pawn: From the fifth game: Isabel. She's the pawn of twoplansin the same game. The people of Ashan in the sixth game.
Uriah Gambit: One of Tatalia's heroes in III, Alkin, was given a military post by King Trallosk, who dislikes Alkin and privately hoped he would go and get himself killed on the battlefield. Much to the king's displeasure, Alkin has enjoyed a long and glorious career.
Video Game Cruelty Potential: After 1, if your hero engages a wild army which is much weaker than you, they may try to scatter without fighting, or even offer to join you. There's nothing stopping you from just wiping them out for fun instead.
Note that if you simply let them scatter, you gain half the experience you would have gotten if you chased them down and beat the crap out of them. There was incentive to being a tad bit cruel. This only occurred in V however; the other games didn't offer any experience in letting them go.
In I and II, if you refused their offer to join you, they'd attack you anyway.
Sometimes if you refused in III, they will attack as well. This usually happened if you happened to have a hero of the same alignment as the creatures and possessed a stack of said creatures in your own army, which is one of the ways to trigger a large force to joining you if you're lucky. Alternatively, the unit was scripted to join you for the mission in question, but you refused For the Evulz
If you have a mind-control type spell, you can get quite creative. For one, mind controlled units (at least in V) can not retaliate, so you can surround and attack said unit without it being able to do anything against its eventual demise. Alternatively, mind control a caster type unit and have it cast an offensive spell on itself, rather than its allies. Or cast Firewall and/or Landmines, and have the unit walk past the walls and mines. Repeatedly.
In VI pursuing weaker stacks and attacking those that offer to join you earns you Blood points, while letting them go and accepting their offers earns you Tear points. So there's additional incentive to be cruel or merciful.
Alaric also gets a memorable one in Tribes of the East, after he finds out that Isabel is really the demon Biara in disguise. Understandable though, in that he spent the entirety of two games leading an anti-demon cult under orders from "Isabel", and very fervently at that.
Villain Protagonist: In several campaigns/scenarios throughout the series the player takes the role of an evil bastard. In the 2nd game the player can take the role of Archibald Ironfist'sDragon. The third game's "Dungeons and Devils" campaign makes the player the commander of the invading forces of Nighon and the Kreegans, and its "Long Live the King" campaign gives them control of the necromancers of Deyja. In two of the Armageddon's Blade campaigns, "Dragon's Blood" and "Festival of Life", you play as an ambitious young Evil Overlord named Mutare and the vicious barbarian Kilgor who as mentioned above, ends up destroying the world later. The Shadow of Death has an entire campaign in which you play through Sandro's Start of Darkness. The first episode of Heroes Chronicles, Warlords of the Wasteland featured the ruthless Tarnum, but later became The Atoner in later episodes. For the most part this trope is avoided in the fourth game, though you do play as Solymr for a few missions in the "Price of Peace" campaign prior to his Heel-Face Turn. And in the fifth game and its expansions there is only one campaign that fits this: "The Necromancer", in which you play Markal, who is arguably the most evil person in the series.
An added bit of amusement is that in the main campaign in Armageddon's Blade, there are some segments where you play as the demons trying use the titular weapon.
The campaign of the fourth games's Winds of War expansion lets you play as at least three. The immense Life nation of Channon is being attacked by the five neighbouring factions, and when their armies all meet on the outskirts of Channon's capital, the winner will lay claim to all five kingdoms. While none of the leaders can be described as entirely good people, Baron von Tarkin takes the cake, deciding to turn the kingdom into an undead army out of boredom.
Weaponized Offspring: Breeders and Mother Breeders in Might and Magic: Heroes VI are demons whose bodies constantly generate imps, which they then command to fly kamikaze-style at the enemy.
What Could Have Been: The "Forge" town in III, and NWC's artwork for their version of V (which was supposed to be made on the Heroes IV engine, in isometry rather than 3D, before 3DO went bankrupt and Ubisoft and Nival started from scratch).
The data of the Sanctuary faction in V. Having nagas would've been cool.