HoMM3: The Board Game – The Art of Might and Magic

When asked what made Heroes III so popular, Gregory Fulton replied that there was lots of beauty in there. The computer version of the game has been charming us with its aesthetics for over 23 years. A team of talented artists from New World Computing managed to create an absolutely timeless piece of art, unchanging in its beauty, even through the flow of time and increases in technological development.

When the artistic direction of our board game was developing, my main goal became to understand what exactly lies behind the genius of the original, and how we can translate a number of great solutions from a computer game into the medium of board games. This seemingly simple task required a lot of care. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to use graphics from the original as there would be a number of problems putting the original art directly onto the cards; namely the resolution scale on some of the larger cards. In order to adapt the visuals from the original into a board game, we needed to add many smaller details.

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Finding The Right Balance

The starting point for working on each of the decks was not only to take the design from the original but also to understand the philosophy behind it. Illustrations from the computer game still bring joy to the eye because they were drawn by enthusiasts of art and games. Therefore, the materials for our project had to be created in the same way – with passion. That’s why I have ruled out any AI tools or filters that would be able to upscale the resolution of the original assets or make them look “better”. It would drain them of their soul.

Chain Lightning spell

Chain Lightning spell

Illustrations of spells or abilities were created with the intention to accurately reflect the original concept, which has always been loved by fans, but also adds missing information where necessary, or removes it where it clashes with the layout of the card.

The Heroes

The hero portraits in HoMM stimulated our imagination from the very first moments of the game. The distinct characters of the noble knights contrasted with the power-hungry Necromancers told such a rich story that each playthrough felt like something special.

Our phenomenal team perfectly captured the atmosphere enchanted in these small pictures from the game and translated it into a much larger format.

The task was much simpler in the case of already made ones, but there are also some heroes in the game who never got a painted version of their portrait. Not until now.

The Units

Graphics based on the illustrations of such legends as Phelan Sykes or George Almond will go to the game unchanged. They are perfectly defined and leave us with no dilemmas. However, with some faction units in the game it wasn’t that easy. Some of them only exist as small pictures. Some are 3D models with a small number of polygons. In these cases, we gave ourselves a little more creative space to be able to interpret what the original was trying to show.

We all know that nostalgic feeling from our childhood when the titles seemed completely realistic and the animations were incredibly fluid. This experience had an exceptionally strong impact on our team, especially Iana Vengerova, the lead artist who created the graphics for the board game. That’s why we decided to recreate well-known units from the game using our countless hours of playing Heroes as the basis.

The first versions differed slightly from the iconic designs, but together we managed to find a way to strongly refer to the game.

In the game, you can also find neutral units with equally phenomenal illustrations.

The Layout

The design of HoMM3 allows us to translate the style from the game to the board almost 1:1. The game has almost all the icons we needed to design well-functioning gameplay. The sharp and atmospheric frames known from the game proved to be very distinct on the cards. The book of spells inspired us to create spell cards stylized as single pages from the spell book. The reverse of the card is a reference to the UI, and contains many familiar symbols. Each of these elements was created to maintain the atmosphere of the original that we all know and love.

The Six Horsemen of the Apocalypse

Each faction in the base game contains two figures, a hero of Might and a hero of Magic. As in the game, the figures aren’t meant to represent the heroes literally. Rather, our focus was on reflecting the general atmosphere of a given faction. This, in turn, allows for a greater variety of heroes to choose from during the game. It also allows for more freedom in designing different models and is a clear reference to the mechanics of the original game.

The miniatures were designed so that each faction felt unique. They differ in silhouettes and poses. The heroes of Dungeon as battle-hardened warriors are full of unbridled energy, the heroes of Castle are distinguished by dignity and nobility while the heroes of Necropolis can terrify anyone with a mere glimpse. Clear differences also allow you to easily distinguish the figures during the game.

Miniatures

In addition to the heroes, everyone’s favorite units will also appear in the game as figures. Carved with the utmost attention to detail, they beautifully fill out the battlefield. Their poses reference special in-game attacks or the way they move. For instance, the Zealot is in the middle of making a sacred attack, the Minotaur strides confidently while destroying everything along the way, and the Evil Eye is getting ready to fire a deadly beam.

Summary

When we started working on Heroes of Might and Magic III The Board Game, we knew how much fans love the visuals of the game. Our goal was to create a game that would be a tribute to the classic and at the same time give some room for our great artists, which we gathered while working on the game. I hope fans of the original will feel the wonderful atmosphere of the game once again by opening the box of our board game.

– Tomasz Badalski – Art Director

Heroes of Might and Magic III: The Board Game – Combat system

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