HoMM 3: The Board Game thoughts / review by Marsdreamer

I haven’t seen a whole lot of discussion about the new board game floating around the Heroes communities, so I thought I’d kick off some discussion and give my thoughts about it here.


I consider myself a casual Heroes fan. It has a ton of nostalgia for me and I dive into it from time to time, but I’m hardly a great player of the game, so my perspective isn’t going to be from a veteran with thousands of hours and a lot of experience.

I kickstarted at the Grail pledge, which ultimately got me every thing they made for the campaign. Unfortunately I missed the boat on adding the Inferno expansion (since I figured Grail covered that), so I am missing that faction/units/expansion mechanics, which might also affect my experience of the board game thus far.

HoMM 3: The Board Game review

Overall I’d give the a solid ~8 ish out of 10. It has very faithfully recreated many of the mechanics, systems, and feel of the original game. On top of that, it hasn’t simply just copied them over 1:1 and re imagined them within the confines of the boardgame, which is something I was pleasantly surprised with. The hex map and exploration mechanics are probably the most 1:1 of the computer game and this is something that they absolutely nailed. Each hex is chocked full of visitables and really does invoke that feeling of exploring a HoMM3 world.

They’ve also managed to ensure that all players are able to stay busy and do things while the other player is taking their turn. You can build, recruit, research spells all asynchronously which gives a lot of freedom to the turn structure. Additionally, other players play the NPC battles for the active players, which is fun to kind of find ways to try to screw over your opponents even in neutral battles.

Speaking of combat, the game ships with two combat modes. There is a simplified card mode and then an advanced battlefield expansion that is a lot more reminiscent of the original game. At first we stuck with the basic battle map and then eventually started working the battlefield expansion into the game, but to be honest I’m not sure how well the battlefield expansion truly captures the feel of Heroes battles. We’ve only used this expansion a bit, but the movement spread feels far to large for certain units and combat almost felt simpler (or perhaps more reductive?) on the hex map compared to the card based version, which invoked a more puzzle-esque feel which was satisfying to “solve.”

I’ve played about 5 games so far and have personally tried out Dungeon, Castle, Necropolis, and Tower with my wife trying Castle, Rampart, and Fortress. Faction balance feels… Iffy, although I can generally live with that as faction balance in the base game is pretty iffy as well. Combat feels heavily focused towards having high attack modifiers, which makes the Fortress town/heroes feel pretty behind the curve compared to others (they are heavily skewed for defense). One thing I will say though is that it does feel like the balance between magic and might is much better here than in the original game.

Pain Points

My biggest gripes come mainly from two pain points in the game. The first is that the game uses a sudo-deckbuilding mechanic for handling your hero’s progression in terms of abilities, specializations, artifacts, and spells. This mostly works, but falls a little flat because you can very quickly just brick your deck with little to no recourse for unbricking it. Most deck building games allow you to expand and gather powerful new cards, but also refine the deck by purging weaker/starting cards.

The starting cards aren’t actually that week and the way you expand your deck with new cards is incredibly inconsistent, meaning you often get stuck with bad cards you don’t want. I understand there is a layer of this in the original game as well, but that part of the original game is something that was largely hated and isn’t very fun. It appears that the Inferno expansion has some mechanics to alleviate this pain point a little, however I do feel like before the game goes into retail the developers should tweak this a little bit.

My other pain point is a bit solved through a house-rule. The game has incredible pressure on resources to the point where the resource scarcity is so tight that I have to wonder how much testing went into it. It is incredibly hard to build up enough resources to build out your town to the point where you can get Tier VI/VII units; Borderline impossible in some map scenarios. Likely this is mostly by design, but it’s also not very fun, And I have to wonder just how hard they want their game to be, even on the Normal difficulty settings. Our small tweak to this was to give each player one extra Tier II – III exploration tile with their faction settlement on it for some extra flexibility in resource management and some extra experience / findables.

My last small criticism is that the rule books are kind of a mess. I know it was translated over from Polish and that they will likely get another revision before going to retail, but there is A LOT of ambiguity in the rules and some stuff is just not even stated anywhere at all — I was only able to figure it out from watching a developer play through.


Lastly, and this is a bit idiosyncratic, the miniatures that game with the game are utterly fantastic. I have been painting minis for many years, so I am giddy with excitement at seeing all of these units and characters from my childhood soo faithfully recreated. The detail is great, the casting is great, and I only had one minor issue with a broken weapon (which is easily fixed). Overall I am ecstatic about the quality and care that went into the miniatures for the game. Considering I only have one lightly damaged mini out of the 100+ that shipped with the game speaks volumes to the grade of plastic used in casting as well as the storage clams they use for each box.

If you have the game, I’d love to hear your thoughts as well as I haven’t found too many people online that have been chatting about it.

Source: https://www.reddit.com/r/heroes3/comments/1bsowuz/heroes_3_board_game_thoughts_review/

Pictures: https://www.facebook.com/groups/heroes3eng/permalink/8131098923572672/

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