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Overview

The Heroes II Menu (with Price of Loyalty installed)

Released in October of 1996 by the 3DO Company, Heroes of Might and Magic II: The Succession Wars is a medieval fantasy-themed PC turn-based strategy game developed by New World Computing as the second installment in the Heroes of Might and Magic series. Like its predecessor, Heroes of Might and Magic: A Strategic Quest, Heroes II tasks the player with conquering a variety of scenarios by developing strongholds, heroes, and armies capable of defeating all hostile players, which may consist of A.I., human opposition, or both. While the fundamental gameplay of Heroes is unchanged, Heroes II introduces a number of new refinements and additions. Perhaps the most noticeable change is the inclusion of two new factions, the Necromancer and the Wizard, who join the original four factions from the first title, namely the Barbarian, Knight, Sorceress, and Warlock. The way in which heroes are developed is expanded to give players more control over how their champions advance; hero units in Heroes II are able to learn up to eight secondary skills rather than a single one predetermined by their faction alignment, as was the case in Heroes. The spellcasting system is similarly revised, allowing heroes to cast known spells using renewable spell points instead of requiring them to memorize a spell that can only be cast a finite number of times. Heroes II is also the first Heroes title to feature creature upgrades, whereby more powerful versions of a unit can be unlocked for purchase by upgrading said unit's domicile. A number of other addenda are included as well, such as brand new units (mostly for the new factions), more town construction options, and a larger combat playing field.

Heroes II was followed in 1997 by The Price of Loyalty, an expansion pack developed by Cyberlore Studios. The expansion added little in the way of mechanical changes, instead including new campaigns, stand-alone scenarios, and new artifacts and locations. The original game and its expansion would later be packaged together and rereleased as Heroes of Might and Magic II Gold. In addition, Heroes II has appeared in numerous compilation releases, including Heroes of Might and Magic Compendium, Heroes of Might and Magic Millennium, Heroes of Might and Magic Trilogy, and Heroes of Might and Magic Platinum Edition. A game called Heroes of Might and Magic II was also released for the Game Boy Color in 2000, developed by KnowWonder, although in truth this was more an amalgamation of the first three Heroes games than a port of Heroes II.

Plot

Choose your Lord.

The two campaigns of Heroes II follow the intertwining stories of two brothers, Roland and Archibald Ironfist, as they struggle for control of the land of Enroth in the aftermath of the death of their father, King Morglin Ironfist. As the game begins, Archibald has successfully framed his brother Roland for the untimely deaths of several individuals who were to name their father's successor, which forces Roland into hiding. With his brother gone, Archibald is able to exert influence over the royal selection process, and, not surprisingly, he is declared King shortly thereafter. At the outset, the player is allowed to align either with the sinister Archibald or the virtuous Roland, which influences mission objectives, the general tone of the campaign, as well as which factions are available for use. Vassals of Roland, for instance, can utilize the game's "good" factions (i.e., Knight, Sorceress, and Wizard), while servants of Archibald have access to the "evil" factions (Barbarian, Necromancer, Warlock). During Archibald's campaign, the player is tasked with subduing any who would dissent Archibald's rule, whereas Roland's campaign involves an organized revolution against the deceitful Lord. At the end of Archibald's storyline, Roland is defeated and imprisoned within Castle Ironfist, thereby ending any potential threat he may have posed to his brother. The climax to Roland's campaign, however, culminates with Archibald being turned to stone and thus neutralized. Of the two, the latter ending is considered to be the canonical one, as it factors into the storylines of later Might and Magic games.

Gameplay

The Adventure Screen, with a Knight town, two mines, and four heroes

Heroes II employs a style of turn-based strategic gameplay that is frequently referred to as 4X, since its main imperatives are to "explore, expand, exploit, and exterminate." As implied by the title, heroes are at the heart of the series' gameplay, as they are the main means through which the player interacts with the game world. It is the hero's role to move about the game's two-dimensional overworld area, also known as the Adventure Screen, claiming valuable assets for the player, gathering troops, and engaging in combat with the enemy. The player can have up to eight heroes at a given time, and each of these heroes can command up to five different unit types simultaneously. These units can be recruited either from player-owned towns or from other sources found around the map. The former is the more important of the two, as, over time, the player is able to add structures to their towns that allow them to produce larger varieties of units as well as larger numbers of them. Every turn on the Adventure Screen represents a single day's time, and each hero has a finite number of movement points to use during that day in order to move around and interact with the environment. Once a hero's movement points have been expended, they may not move or act until the following day.

Though they do not play an active role in combat, heroes are nonetheless a powerful deciding factor in battle, as they can cast spells and provide passive bonuses to troops. Furthermore, they can gain experience through various means, allowing them to grow stronger the longer they are in use. All heroes have four primary skills and up to eight secondary skills; one primary skill is upgraded with each experience level, and the player is also given a choice between two secondary skills that can be either learned anew or advanced to a higher level. The four primary skills are attack, defense, spell power, and knowledge; attack and defense values directly increase the ability of the hero's units to deal or mitigate damage, while spell power and knowledge increase the power of spells and spell point reserves, respectively. Primary skills are represented by a numerical value, however secondary skills have only three levels, thus a hero is noted to have either a "Basic," "Advanced," or "Expert" level of understanding of these skills. Since there are fourteen secondary skills in total, it is not possible for a hero to learn every skill. In addition, a hero's faction alignment significantly affects what skills are offered with each new level, so a hero's growth trajectory is predetermined to an extent.

The Hero Screen lays out all of a hero's skills, stats, possessions, and troops levels at a glance.

Players typically start with a single town at the beginning of each scenario, and the development of this town, as well as the acquisition of additional towns, is an important gameplay consideration. A town provides units, spells, and income to the player that owns it, and, with investment, all three of these properties can be enhanced. There are six different town types, one for each faction, and aside from producing different unit types, they function more or less identically. Outside of unit-producing buildings, each town type has a single unique structure; a Knight town, for instance, can build fortifications to increase the strength of its walls, while a Wizard town can add a library to allow access to a larger number of spells. A town may or may not have a castle to protect it from attack, and the absence of a castle also reduces the town's income significantly. Players can take new towns from opposing players or claim neutral towns, which are essentially towns without heroes. Upgrades can be purchased so long as the player has sufficient resources to do so and has met all prerequisites, when applicable, though it is not possible to purchase more than one structure per turn in any given town. Capturing enemy towns (and defeating heroes) is a common victory condition.

Siege combat between a Warlock (attacker) and Barbarian (defender)

Whenever the player attacks or is attacked by an enemy, the game switches to a hexagonal battlefield view in which the armies of both sides square off against one another in turn-based combat. Both sides can have up to five "stacks" of units, with the exact number of units in said stacks being displayed either to the left or right of the unit. The attacking army is typically shown on the left side of the screen, and the defending army on the right. Players take turns moving their unit stacks and attacking opposing units, with movement order being determined by the speed rating of each unit. Heroes cannot be attacked during combat, though they can cast a single spell with each combat turn, being able to cast again once all units have moved. In addition to other factors, units can be affected by morale and luck, which can be modified in a number of ways. High morale will allow units to move twice in a single turn, while low morale will prevent them from moving at all. Good luck will occasionally guarantee maximum damage (damage is normally calculated by a dice roll), while poor luck will sometimes cause a unit to do the minimum amount. Combat ends when one side is completely obliterated, flees, or surrenders, which allows a hero to retain their army by paying their opponent a fee.

Control of resources and items is another important aspect of gameplay. In all, Heroes II features seven resource types: gold, iron, wood, sulfur, mercury, gems, and crystals. Gold is considered the game's primary resource, as it is always required when purchasing units and structures. Accordingly, gold is the only resource that can be accumulated simply by owning a town. Iron and wood are secondary resources that are required for the construction of numerous building types; iron mines and lumber mills are often found very close to towns. Sulfur, mercury, gems, and crystals are tertiary resources that become more important as the game progresses, as purchasing more advanced structures and units may require them. Structures that produce tertiary resources are typically found further away from town, and may be guarded by powerful monsters. Player-controlled towns and resource structures produce their associated resources at the beginning of each turn, and finite deposits of these resources can also be found in abundance on most maps. In addition, maps contain artifacts (including ultimate artifacts found through obelisks) that bestow permanent advantages to heroes that find them, and various locations may exist that grant experience, spells, or other boons.

Factions

Each of Heroes II's six factions have specific strengths and weaknesses, which is reflected both in their units and their heroes. All factions have six basic unit types, though many of these can also be upgraded, which bolsters the unit's stats and, in many cases, gives them entirely new properties. Heroes are similarly divided by faction into six types, which determines what units and skills they start with as well as their general proclivity toward certain skills when gaining levels. Scenarios usually start with a player possessing a single faction town as well as a single hero of the same type, but it is not uncommon to gain access to additional faction towns and heroes by the end of play. Players are free to mix and match available unit types from any of the six factions, however armies with multiple unit types can incur significant morale penalties, whereas bonuses may be granted for having all of one's forces aligned with a single faction. Speed is also a consideration when choosing units, as slow creatures have an effect on the movement speed of their hero unit.

Barbarian

Barbarians are an offensively-minded faction. Barbarian heroes have the highest starting attack rating in the game, and their units feature good attack ratings and hit point totals as well. They are extremely well-suited for martial combat, but their potential for sorcery is somewhat lackluster by comparison. Buildings constructed for Barbarian towns often require more iron ore than those of other factions, and their ultimate unit-producing structure, the Pyramid, requires a significant amount of crystal, but the cost of construction in gold is fairly low. The Barbarian's special structure is the Coliseum, which boosts morale for castle defenders.

Goblin

Goblin

  • Cost: 40 gold
  • Hit Points: 3
  • Attack: 3
  • Defense: 1
  • Damage: 1-2
  • Speed: 4 (Average)
  • Shots: 0
The Goblin is a respectable level one unit with decent hit points, attack rating, and speed. In groups, Goblins can even tackle more dangerous foes with some degree of success. The most pressing weakness of the unit is its poor defense. They are best used when the risk of counterattack is minimal, making their lack of damage mitigation less of an issue.
Orc

Orc

  • Cost: 140 gold
  • Hit Points: 10
  • Attack: 3
  • Defense: 4
  • Damage: 2-3
  • Speed: 2 (Very Slow)
  • Shots: 8
Orcs have solid defense for their level, and are the only ranged unit available to the Barbarian until Trolls become available later on in the game. Unfortunately, they are also quite slow, forcing players who recruit them to take a movement penalty. Though the ranged support can be useful, it is often not worth the trade-off, which relegates Orcs to town defense.
Orc Chieftain

Orc Chieftain

  • Cost: 175 gold
  • Hit Points: 15
  • Attack: 3
  • Defense: 4
  • Damage: 3-4
  • Speed: 3 (Slow)
  • Shots: 16
For a relatively small increase in price, the Orc Chieftain upgrades the damage, durability, and speed of the standard Orc. While the speed boost alone makes the Chieftain a more desirable unit for heroes, it is worth noting that this increase is incremental at best. When combined with its other upgrades, though, the Orc Chieftain is a much more attractive unit.
Wolf

Wolf

  • Cost: 200 gold
  • Hit Points: 20
  • Attack: 6
  • Defense: 2
  • Damage: 3-5
  • Speed: 6 (Very Fast)
  • Shots: 0
Epitomizing the Barbarian faction's emphasis on offense at all costs, the Wolf is both a spectacular offensive unit and a dreadful defensive one. The former is due to its incredible speed, solid attack rating, and its ability to attack twice in one turn, while the latter is a result of its meager defense rating, which is nothing short of terrible for a third level creature.
Ogre

Ogre

  • Cost: 300 gold
  • Hit Points: 40
  • Attack: 9
  • Defense: 5
  • Damage: 4-6
  • Speed: 2 (Very Slow)
  • Shots: 0
While most of its stats are not horrible, the Ogre is, much like the Orc, handicapped by its poor speed rating. Not only is this an issue for heroes units due to the movement penalty involved, but, unlike the Orc, the Ogre has no ranged attack to compensate for its poor mobility in battle. Players intent on using Ogres are better off upgrading them to Ogre Lords.
Ogre Lord

Ogre Lord

  • Cost: 500 gold
  • Hit Points: 60
  • Attack: 9
  • Defense: 5
  • Damage: 5-7
  • Speed: 4 (Average)
  • Shots: 0
Adding hit points, damage, and, most importantly, speed, the Ogre Lord is a more palatable version of the Ogre even with the additional cost. It is fast enough to be a serious option for adventurers, and it is more survivable than most Barbarian units. Being twice as fast as its counterpart, the Ogre Lord is also able to assume a much more significant role in battle.
Troll

Troll

  • Cost: 600 gold
  • Hit Points: 40
  • Attack: 10
  • Defense: 5
  • Damage: 5-7
  • Speed: 4 (Average)
  • Shots: 8
Being attracted to towns by the construction of a Bridge, Trolls are the highest form of ranged combat unit available to Barbarians. They are well-rounded troops, and in addition to that they have the ability to regenerate lost hit points at the end of each turn. This means that any opponent that attacks but does not kill a Troll has potentially wasted their effort.
War Troll

War Troll

  • Cost: 700 gold
  • Hit Points: 40
  • Attack: 10
  • Defense: 5
  • Damage: 7-9
  • Speed: 5 (Fast)
  • Shots: 16
The War Troll is a fairly straightforward improvement over the basic Troll. Attack and defense values as well as hit point totals are all the same, however War Trolls do more damage, have more shots, and are slightly faster than their preceding unit. The Troll's regenerative abilities remain intact as well, so injured War Trolls are restored to full health at turn's end.
Cyclops

Cyclops

  • Cost: 750 gold, 1 crystal
  • Hit Points: 80
  • Attack: 12
  • Defense: 9
  • Damage: 12-24
  • Speed: 5 (Fast)
  • Shots: 0
While relatively cheap when compared to other level six faction units, the Cyclops is nevertheless a strong unit that has a few special properties. In addition to being the best Barbarian unit on a statistical level, the Cyclops can attack two squares simultaneously. Each attack also has a twenty percent chance of paralyzing the Cyclops' target temporarily.

Knight

In much the same way that Barbarians are known for their incredible offense, the Knight faction is renown for its focus on defense. Most Knight units and heroes have very high defensive ratings, making their armies more resistant to damage than those of other factions. Like the Barbarians, however, their skill with magic is somewhat underdeveloped. Knight structures require a significant amount of wood overall, and the construction of the Cathedral and its upgrade requires a significant amount of crystal. The Knight faction's special structure consists of Fortifications, which offers Knight towns added protection through stronger walls.

Peasant

Peasant

  • Cost: 20 gold
  • Hit Points: 1
  • Attack: 1
  • Defense: 1
  • Damage: 1-1
  • Speed: 2 (Very Slow)
  • Shots: 0
Commonly acknowledged to be the weakest level one unit in Heroes II, and thus the weakest unit in the entire game, the Peasant is unremarkable on all counts. Statistically speaking, Peasants could not be much worse, as their hit points, attack, defense, damage, and speed values are all at a minimum. On the positive side, they are quite cheap.
Archer

Archer

  • Cost: 150 gold
  • Hit Points: 10
  • Attack: 5
  • Defense: 3
  • Damage: 2-3
  • Speed: 2 (Very Slow)
  • Shots: 12
Much like the Barbarian Orc, the Archer would be signficantly more useful were it not for her prohibitively slow speed rating. Since they are the only ranged units the Knight faction can produce, they may see some play regardless, but in most circumstances it is more prudent to invest in the Ranger upgrade before fielding level two units in any significant quantities.
Ranger

Ranger

  • Cost: 200 gold
  • Hit Points: 10
  • Attack: 5
  • Defense: 3
  • Damage: 2-3
  • Speed: 4 (Average)
  • Shots: 24
To say that the Ranger is an improvement over the Archer would be a gross understatement. It would be more appropriate to say that the changes made to the base unit are transformative. Not only is the unit's speed upgraded to acceptable levels, it also gains the ability to fire twice in one turn, effectively doubling the amount of damage it can deal out.
Pikeman

Pikeman

  • Cost: 200 gold
  • Hit Points: 15
  • Attack: 5
  • Defense: 9
  • Damage: 3-4
  • Speed: 4 (Average)
  • Shots: 0
The defensive counterpart to the Barbarian's Wolf unit, the stalwart Pikeman is a surprisingly resilient level three unit that can stand up to a significant amount of punishment. Sadly, they are less adept when it comes to delivering injuries themselves. Presumably, Pikeman are intended to overcome their opponents through tenacity by outlasting more fragile foes.
Veteran Pikeman

Veteran Pikeman

  • Cost: 250 gold
  • Hit Points: 20
  • Attack: 5
  • Defense: 9
  • Damage: 3-4
  • Speed: 5 (Fast)
  • Shots: 0
The Veteran version of the Pikeman is even more durable thanks to a slight bump in hit point totals, and it is slightly more maneuverable as well thanks to a modest speed increase. Its offensive output is identical to that of its base unit, though, so it is still far more likely that it will prevail in combat through sheer attrition than through brute strength of arms.
Swordsman

Swordsman

  • Cost: 250 gold
  • Hit Points: 25
  • Attack: 7
  • Defense: 9
  • Damage: 4-6
  • Speed: 4 (Average)
  • Shots: 0
The Swordsman is a fourth-level melee unit that is just as tough as the sturdy Pikeman (slightly more so, actually). He also benefits from a far greater ability to deal damage to opponents when the time comes. The statistically superior Swordsman also costs no more than a Veteran Pikeman, making them easily the more preferable in an either-or situation.
Master Swordsman

Master Swordsman

  • Cost: 300 gold
  • Hit Points: 30
  • Attack: 7
  • Defense: 9
  • Damage: 4-6
  • Speed: 5 (Fast)
  • Shots: 0
The upgrade from Swordsman to Master Swordsman is decidedly subtle, but, accordingly, the unit's price is not increased dramatically either. Just like the Veteran Pikeman, the Master Swordsman receives five additional hit points and a one-point speed increase over its predecessor. As before, this version of the Swordsman is a strong, well-rounded unit.
Cavalry

Cavalry

  • Cost: 300 gold
  • Hit Points: 30
  • Attack: 10
  • Defense: 9
  • Damage: 5-10
  • Speed: 6 (Very Fast)
  • Shots: 0
The fastest non-upgraded creature within the Knight faction, the Cavalry unit can traverse wide swaths of the battlefield with each turn and attack most opponents relatively easily. It is fairly hard-hitting as well, with high damage and a high attack rating. The price of one Cavalry unit and one Master Swordsman is identical, though the former is undoubtedly stronger.
Champion

Champion

  • Cost: 375 gold
  • Hit Points: 40
  • Attack: 10
  • Defense: 9
  • Damage: 5-10
  • Speed: 7 (Ultra Fast)
  • Shots: 0
One of only two Ultra Fast units in Heroes II (the other being the Phoenix), the Champion is incomparably fast, and all but guarantees that its hero will have the initiative at the beginning of a combat turn. In most other respects it is similar to its prerequisite unit, the Cavalry, though it does enjoy extra survivability thanks to its ten extra hit points.
Paladin

Paladin

  • Cost: 600 gold
  • Hit Points: 50
  • Attack: 11
  • Defense: 12
  • Damage: 10-20
  • Speed: 5 (Fast)
  • Shots: 0
In contrast to the Knight faction's normally defensive mantra, Paladins are best when used offensively. This is in large part due to their ability to attack a single target twice in one turn when they take the initiative. Because of this, Paladins are only truly used to their full effect when they are taking the fight to the enemy, and they are fast enough to be able to do so.
Crusader

Crusader

  • Cost: 1,000 gold
  • Hit Points: 65
  • Attack: 11
  • Defense: 12
  • Damage: 10-20
  • Speed: 6 (Very Fast)
  • Shots: 0
Aside from the increase in speed and hit points, the Crusader gains two additional special properties that make it even more fearsome than the Paladin. To start with, they are completely immune to the effects of Curse spells. On top of that, their attacks deal twice as much damage when targeting undead units, making them the bane of all Necromancers.

Necromancer

All units within the Necromancer faction are considered to be undead, which automatically imbues them with certain properties. Necromancer minions are, for instance, immune to Bless, Curse, and all spells that affect the mind. Additionally, undead can neither benefit from nor suffer as a result of morale, and are always considered to be at neutral standing in this regard. Living creatures react adversely to undead, however, which is reflected by a morale penalty when undead are present. The signature skill of the Necromancer hero is Necromancy, which allows Skeletons to be raised from fallen foes after a battle, and in many respects the play style of the faction revolves around this ability. At higher levels, Necromancer buildings may requires several types of resources as well as large amounts of gold in order to be built. The signature building of the Necromancer town is the Perpetual Storm, which enshrouds the castle and provides a spell power bonus to defending heroes or, in their absence, the captain.

Skeleton

Skeleton

  • Cost: 75 gold
  • Hit Points: 4
  • Attack: 4
  • Defense: 3
  • Damage: 2-3
  • Speed: 4 (Average)
  • Shots: 0
Widely regarded as the best level one unit in the game, the Skeleton is reasonably powerful for such a basic unit, and through Necromancy their numbers can be bolstered to amass a fairly sizable army over time. Like all level one creatures, they can't take much punishment when on the receiving end, so it is always best to make sure they strike their foes first.
Zombie

Zombie

  • Cost: 150 gold
  • Hit Points: 15
  • Attack: 5
  • Defense: 2
  • Damage: 2-3
  • Speed: 2 (Very Slow)
  • Shots: 0
Though it has more hit points and a better attack rating than the Skeleton, the Zombie actually has a lower defense rating than the faction's level one unit. Making matters worse, it is also much slower, not only restricting their heros' movement points, but also reducing its own utility in battle. For these reasons, the Zombie is often considered to be a lesser unit.
Mutant Zombie

Mutant Zombie

  • Cost: 200 gold
  • Hit Points: 20
  • Attack: 5
  • Defense: 2
  • Damage: 2-3
  • Speed: 4 (Average)
  • Shots: 0
The Mutant Zombie addresses the lack of speed endemic to its antecedent and adds five additional hit points as well. The defense rating of the unit remains the same, though, so it is still somewhat vulnerable when not on the offensive. As a stopgap for later units, the Mutant Zombie can serve a purpose, but very few endgame army compositions include them.
Mummy

Mummy

  • Cost: 250 gold
  • Hit Points: 25
  • Attack: 6
  • Defense: 6
  • Damage: 3-4
  • Speed: 4 (Average)
  • Shots: 0
With decent hit points, attack potential, and speed, the Mummy is a staple unit for the Necromancer faction. Mummies also have respectable defense stats, which lends them a fair amount of staying power. Perhaps most intriguing is the Mummy's ability to curse opponents. With each hit, the Mummy has a twenty percent chance to inflict Curse upon their foe.
Royal Mummy

Royal Mummy

  • Cost: 300 gold
  • Hit Points: 30
  • Attack: 6
  • Defense: 6
  • Damage: 3-4
  • Speed: 5 (Fast)
  • Shots: 0
Offering a modest upgrade to the Mummy for a modest increase in price, the Royal Mummy has higher hit point totals and better mobility, though not dramatically so. The promotion also boosts the unit's ability to inflict the Curse status effect upon enemies. Royal Mummies have a thirty rather than twenty percent chance to cause Curse when hitting an opponent.
Vampire

Vampire

  • Cost: 500 gold
  • Hit Points: 30
  • Attack: 8
  • Defense: 6
  • Damage: 5-7
  • Speed: 4 (Average)
  • Shots: 0
Though the Vampire's speed is only Average, it is a flying creature, which means that its mobility in battle is extremely high regardless. It is a fairly strong unit overall, with good damage, attack, and defensive stats. Enemies targeted by a Vampire are also unable to retaliate against them, giving the unit an extremely large advantage when used offensively.
Vampire Lord

Vampire Lord

  • Cost: 650 gold
  • Hit Points: 40
  • Attack: 8
  • Defense: 6
  • Damage: 5-7
  • Speed: 5 (Fast)
  • Shots: 0
Acquiring the Vampire Lord adds ten extra hit points and an increase in speed to the Vampire, and, as before, it is a creature capable of preventing opposing units from retaliating. The Vampire Lord also gains the ability to leech life from his quarry. This is reflected in a portion of the damage it deals being returned to the unit as health, thus improving its longevity.
Lich

Lich

  • Cost: 750 gold
  • Hit Points: 25
  • Attack: 7
  • Defense: 12
  • Damage: 8-10
  • Speed: 5 (Fast)
  • Shots: 12
The Lich is the Necromancer faction's only ranged attacker, and it is quite strong in a number of areas. It has very good speed and damage, and also enjoys the best defense rating among undead units. Its attack affects not only the targeted hex, but all hexes adjacent to it as well, allowing it to damage numerous foes (and potentially allies) with a single attack.
Power Lich

Power Lich

  • Cost: 900 gold
  • Hit Points: 35
  • Attack: 7
  • Defense: 13
  • Damage: 8-10
  • Speed: 6 (Very Fast)
  • Shots: 24
The Power Lich transition augments the Lich's already-potent defense rating while also adding more health and additional speed. The latter upgrade is particularly important for the Power Lich as a ranged unit, as it allows it to attack first more often. As with the Lich, its attack affects any nearby creature, friendly or hostile, that is adjacent to the targeted unit.
Bone Dragon

Bone Dragon

  • Cost: 1,500 gold
  • Hit Points: 150
  • Attack: 11
  • Defense: 9
  • Damage: 25-45
  • Speed: 4 (Average)
  • Shots: 0
The fearsome undead Bone Dragon may not be quite as powerful as a living dragon, but it is not that far behind either, and it has the advantage of being much less expensive to purchase. Like all dragons in Heroes II, it is a flying unit, so no enemy is truly safe from it. The Bone Dragon is such an intimidating presence that it inflicts a morale penalty on foes.

Sorceress

The Sorceress faction has a large number of fast units once all upgrades have been acquired, and its unit composition is more balanced than most factions, with a good mixture of ranged, melee, and flying units (two of each, to be precise). Sorceress heroes are primarily spellcasters, with an emphasis on knowledge over spellpower. They also start with Advanced Navigation, giving them an immediate advantage on maps that require naval exploration. While Sorceress structures are not the most expensive overall, advanced buildings may require a significant amount of gems, mercury, or crystal. The faction-specific Rainbow boosts luck for allies.

Sprite

Sprite

  • Cost: 50 gold
  • Hit Points: 2
  • Attack: 4
  • Defense: 2
  • Damage: 1-2
  • Speed: 4 (Average)
  • Shots: 0
The Sprite is the only first-level flying unit in Heroes II, thus it is extremely mobile in comparison to other creatures within its class. Though it does suffer somewhat from poor defense, this is offset at least partially by its special property. That is to say, attacking Sprites cannot be counterattacked. When combined with their mobility, this can be quite an annoyance.
Dwarf

Dwarf

  • Cost: 200 gold
  • Hit Points: 20
  • Attack: 6
  • Defense: 5
  • Damage: 2-4
  • Speed: 2 (Very Slow)
  • Shots: 0
As is the case with other slow units, the Dwarf imposes movement restrictions upon heroes who recruit them, which makes it less than ideal for use outside of town defense. The Dwarf has solid defense for a level two unit, though, and furthermore has an intrinsic twenty-five percent resistance to magic, so it is very well-suited for defending castles and the like.
Battle Dwarf

Battle Dwarf

  • Cost: 250 gold
  • Hit Points: 20
  • Attack: 6
  • Defense: 6
  • Damage: 2-4
  • Speed: 4 (Average)
  • Shots: 0
The Battle Dwarf is slightly tougher to kill than others of its kind while enjoying the same resistance to magic that all members of its race are known for. It is also significantly faster than the standard variant, as a result making it a feasible option for heroes. Battle Dwarves become less desirable as the game progresses and more powerful troop options open up.
Elf

Elf

  • Cost: 250 gold
  • Hit Points: 15
  • Attack: 4
  • Defense: 3
  • Damage: 2-3
  • Speed: 4 (Average)
  • Shots: 24
The Elf is the Sorceress faction's first ranged unit, and it is quite good at its job. This is in large part due to its ability to attack twice in one turn. When an enemy is targeted, the Elf will fire two arrows at its victim in quick succession, both of which do normal damage. Its defense leaves something to be desired, and, as a ranged unit, it is less effective up close.
Grand Elf

Grand Elf

  • Cost: 300 gold
  • Hit Points: 15
  • Attack: 5
  • Defense: 5
  • Damage: 2-3
  • Speed: 6 (Very Fast)
  • Shots: 24
For an additional fifty gold, the Grand Elf offers a number of welcome improvements to the Elf. The speed of the unit is greatly increased, for instance, leading to more situations in which the Elf can gain the all-important first strike. Both the attack and defense rating of the unit are improved as well, with the latter giving it significantly more durability than before.
Druid

Druid

  • Cost: 350 gold
  • Hit Points: 25
  • Attack: 7
  • Defense: 5
  • Damage: 5-8
  • Speed: 5 (Fast)
  • Shots: 8
With good speed, attack values, and damage, the Druid is one of the better non-upgraded ranged units in Heroes II. While it has only eight shots, it is not likely that most foes will survive past that. It is unable to withstand much punishment on the receiving end, a common weakness for ranged units, but it is fast enough to strike first in many situations.
Greater Druid

Greater Druid

  • Cost: 400 gold
  • Hit Points: 25
  • Attack: 7
  • Defense: 7
  • Damage: 5-8
  • Speed: 6 (Very Fast)
  • Shots: 16
The Greater Druid upgrade makes a good unit even better by increasing the Druid's speed and defense rating, allowing it to attack faster and survive longer. It also can shoot twice as many times during a single battle. When used in conjunction with Grand Elves, Greater Druids can lay down absolutely withering ranged attack fire that can be difficult to overcome.
Unicorn

Unicorn

  • Cost: 500 gold
  • Hit Points: 40
  • Attack: 10
  • Defense: 9
  • Damage: 7-14
  • Speed: 5 (Fast)
  • Shots: 0
As the Sorceress faction's best ground-based melee unit, Unicorns are fast, sturdy, and very capable on offense. They also have a twenty percent chance with each attack to blind an enemy. Blinded foes cannot attack until they themselves are attacked, and their retaliation strikes are weaker. Even without their special property, Unicorns are fast and deadly units.
Phoenix

Phoenix

  • Cost: 1,500 gold, 1 mercury
  • Hit Points: 100
  • Attack: 12
  • Defense: 10
  • Damage: 20-40
  • Speed: 7 (Ultra Fast)
  • Shots: 0
The second of only two Ultra Fast units in Heroes II (with the Champion being the first), the Phoenix is practically guaranteed to act first in combat. When it does, its attacks are quite savage, doing damage to two hexes at a time, and its status as a flying unit allows it to attack any unit it chooses. On defense, Phoenixes are immune to all elemental spell effects.

Warlock

The Warlock faction is primarily known for its powerful late-game units, most notably their dragons. It also has more flying units than any other faction, with three of its six unit types possessing this ability. Warlock heroes are focused on spellcasting over martial abilities, with an emphasis on spell power over knowledge, and level one Warlocks begin with the Basic Scouting secondary as well. The penalty for their strong high-level units is apparent in the enormous cost required both in terms of building the associated unit-producing structure and buying the unit itself. To ease this burden, Warlocks have the Dungeon, which produces extra gold.

Centaur

Centaur

  • Cost: 60 gold
  • Hit Points: 5
  • Attack: 3
  • Defense: 1
  • Damage: 1-2
  • Speed: 4 (Average)
  • Shots: 8
The Centaur is the only ranged unit for the Warlock faction, and also the best ranged level one unit in the game. The ability to attack from afar helps to offset the normal difficulty that starting creatures have, i.e., staying alive. They are certainly not the best indirect fire unit that Heroes II has to offer, but Warlock heroes really don't have any other option in this area.
Gargoyle

Gargoyle

  • Cost: 200 gold
  • Hit Points: 15
  • Attack: 4
  • Defense: 7
  • Damage: 2-3
  • Speed: 6 (Very Fast)
  • Shots: 0
Being very quick and extremely well-defended, especially for its level, the Gargoyle is a staple Warlock unit that makes up for its somewhat modest attack power with its general versatility. Being a flyer, the Gargoyle can move freely about the battlefield and attack with impunity, and its generous defense rating means that counterattacks are not to be feared.
Griffin

Griffin

  • Cost: 300 gold
  • Hit Points: 25
  • Attack: 6
  • Defense: 6
  • Damage: 3-5
  • Speed: 4 (Average)
  • Shots: 0
The second flying unit for the Warlock faction, Griffins enjoy the same freedom of movement in combat that Gargoyles do while being able to cause greater overall damage. Griffins can also retaliate every time they are attacked by a melee unit, thus it is never truly safe to attack one up close, that is unless the attack is guaranteed to kill the entire stack.
Minotaur

Minotaur

  • Cost: 400 gold
  • Hit Points: 35
  • Attack: 9
  • Defense: 8
  • Damage: 5-10
  • Speed: 4 (Average)
  • Shots: 0
Despite being of Average speed, the Minotaur is somewhat sluggish in comparison to the Warlock's early flying units. Because of this difference in speed, it is not uncommon for Gargoyles and Griffins to attack multiple times before the Minotaur has the opportunity to attack even once. Once they do enter the fray, their overall statistics are quite good.
Minotaur King

Minotaur King

  • Cost: 500 gold
  • Hit Points: 45
  • Attack: 9
  • Defense: 8
  • Damage: 5-10
  • Speed: 6 (Very Fast)
  • Shots: 0
The Minotaur King's speed increase allows the unit to do a much better job of keeping up with the faction's fast flying units, and the ten extra hit points help to accentuate the creature's already-solid defensive capability. The Minotaur King is perhaps the only ground-based melee unit that Warlock adventurers aught to have with them, given the choice.
Hydra

Hydra

  • Cost: 800 gold
  • Hit Points: 75
  • Attack: 8
  • Defense: 9
  • Damage: 6-12
  • Speed: 2 (Very Slow)
  • Shots: 0
The slowest Warlock creature by a significant margin, the Hydra is a poor choice for use in a hero's army due to the penalties incurred. Fortunately, the Hydra is absolutely terrifying when it comes to castle defense, where enemies must come to it. Not only is it durable and strong, it has the ability to use its multiple heads to attack all adjacent squares at once.
Green Dragon

Green Dragon

  • Cost: 3,000 gold, 1 sulfur
  • Hit Points: 200
  • Attack: 12
  • Defense: 12
  • Damage: 25-50
  • Speed: 4 (Average)
  • Shots: 0
Even though the Green Dragon is the weakest of the three dragons available to the Warlock faction, it is still easily better than any other basic sixth-level unit. It can attack two hexes with its fiery breath, and its stats in attack, defense, and damage are all impressive. It is also immune to spells of any kind, and experiences unlimited mobility as a flying creature.
Red Dragon

Red Dragon

  • Cost: 3,500 gold, 1 sulfur
  • Hit Points: 250
  • Attack: 13
  • Defense: 13
  • Damage: 25-50
  • Speed: 5 (Fast)
  • Shots: 0
The intermediate upgrade for the Warlock's level six unit, the Red Dragon is everything that the Green Dragon is, and a little bit more. It has a fifty-point boost to HP, an additional point in attack and defense, and slightly better speed (for increased initiative). All other benefits of the Green Dragon remain intact, including its total immunity to magical energy.
Black Dragon

Black Dragon

  • Cost: 4,000 gold, 2 sulfur
  • Hit Points: 300
  • Attack: 14
  • Defense: 14
  • Damage: 25-50
  • Speed: 6 (Very Fast)
  • Shots: 0
One of the most feared units in all of Heroes II, and a serious contender for best unit in the game, the Black Dragon is strong, fast, and tough to kill, to say the least. Like all living dragons, it shrugs off magic spells and can fly unhindered during combat. It has better HP, attack, defense, and speed than a Red Dragon, but costs as much as a small army.

Wizard

The Wizard faction's units are a disparate bunch, incorporating flyers, ranged attackers, and traditional ground troops. Their late-game ranged units are second to none, with the one-two punch of Archmagi and Titans being particularly nasty. Wizard heroes are a "pure" spellcasting class, starting with higher skill in Wisdom than Sorcresses and Warlocks. This emphasis on magic is complemented by their unique structure, the Library, which grants additional spells for each level of the Mage's Guild. Wizard structures are resource-intensive both in terms of gold and other materials, ranking them second in total cost behind the Warlock faction.

Halfling

Halfling

  • Cost: 50 gold
  • Hit Points: 3
  • Attack: 2
  • Defense: 1
  • Damage: 1-3
  • Speed: 3 (Slow)
  • Shots: 12
The Halfling is a solid early ranged unit, and one that will likely see significant use by Wizard players in the opening phases of the game. Its most noticeable limiting factor is its speed, which may relegate it over time to the position of base defender. Additionally, later ranged units within the Wizard faction are far more potent than the humble Halfling.
Boar

Boar

  • Cost: 150 gold
  • Hit Points: 15
  • Attack: 5
  • Defense: 4
  • Damage: 2-3
  • Speed: 6 (Very Fast)
  • Shots: 0
The ideal unit for early-game adventuring, the Boar is statistically well-endowed for its level and exceptionally fast to boot. In fact, they are the fastest melee unit for the Wizard faction, bar none, meaning they are likely to stick around in heroes' armies for quite some time. In this respect, Boars can be thought of as the antithesis to the Wizard's Golems.
Iron Golem

Iron Golem

  • Cost: 300 gold
  • Hit Points: 30
  • Attack: 5
  • Defense: 10
  • Damage: 4-5
  • Speed: 2 (Very Slow)
  • Shots: 0
The very picture of a defensive unit, the Iron Golem has high hit points, high defense, and almost no ability to move. They are prohibitive units for adventurers due to the last fact, but when left at a fortified town or castle, they can be extremely hard to dislodge. To bolster their ruggedness, Iron Golems also take only half damage from any element-based spells.
Steel Golem

Steel Golem

  • Cost: 350 gold
  • Hit Points: 35
  • Attack: 7
  • Defense: 10
  • Damage: 4-5
  • Speed: 3 (Slow)
  • Shots: 0
The Steel Golem is a slightly tougher opponent than the Iron Golem and a somewhat better attacker also. It receives a boost to its speed, but this is not quite enough to save it from its previous role as a garrison unit. At the very least, these improvements make the upgraded Golem better at its job, and its fifty percent immunity to elemental damage is intact.
Roc

Roc

  • Cost: 400 gold
  • Hit Points: 40
  • Attack: 7
  • Defense: 7
  • Damage: 4-8
  • Speed: 4 (Average)
  • Shots: 0
With balanced defense and offense, the Roc is a great unit overall, and as a flyer it has more options than other melee Wizard units. Once it becomes available, the Roc will likely assume an important place in the player's armies, as it can swoop in to deal damage while also running interference for the faction's high-end ranged combat units, like the Mage.
Mage

Mage

  • Cost: 600 gold
  • Hit Points: 30
  • Attack: 11
  • Defense: 7
  • Damage: 7-9
  • Speed: 5 (Fast)
  • Shots: 12
Both fast and powerful, the Mage is a crucial component in the Wizard's late-game unit composition. They have a high enough speed stat to strike before being struck in most scenarios, and even if their opponents close the distance, they do not incur penalties for attacking at close range. As good as they are, though, Archmagi are even better.
Archmage

Archmage

  • Cost: 700 gold
  • Hit Points: 35
  • Attack: 12
  • Defense: 8
  • Damage: 7-9
  • Speed: 6 (Very Fast)
  • Shots: 24
The Mage upgrade improves performance in several areas, including attack, defense, and initiative. Archmagi are likely to move before their opponents even more often thanks to the speed increase, and the extra HP and defense rating give them more longevity. As an added bonus, Archmage attacks have a twenty percent chance to dispel buffs on a creature.
Giant

Giant

  • Cost: 1,250 gold, 1 gem
  • Hit Points: 150
  • Attack: 13
  • Defense: 10
  • Damage: 20-30
  • Speed: 4 (Average)
  • Shots: 0
While it is an impressive beast both offensively and defensively, the Giant is somewhat hobbled by its foot speed, which makes it better at garrison duty than anything else. To make matters worse, the upgraded version of the unit clearly surpasses the Giant in almost all areas, and, as a result, most Wizard players upgrade Giants to Titans as soon as possible.
Titan

Titan

  • Cost: 5,000 gold, 2 gems
  • Hit Points: 300
  • Attack: 15
  • Defense: 15
  • Damage: 20-30
  • Speed: 6 (Very Fast)
  • Shots: 16
The only unit truly capable of going toe-to-toe with the Black Dragon, the awe-inspiring Titan is not only the best ranged unit in the game, but arguably the best unit, period. Like the Giant, it possesses immunity to mind-altering spells, and it has no ranged penalty for attacking nearby units. Its greatest weakness is cost, which surpasses the price of dragons.

Neutral

Neutral units are defined as any creature type that does not have a specific faction alignment. With the exception of the Ghost, all of these neutral units can be recruited by player heroes in one way or another, and in some cases these creatures are quite strong. Adding neutral units to one's army can be a good way to create an advantage over an otherwise equal foe or to increase an existing advantage even further. A common theme amongst neutral units is a penchant for special abilities, as all but one of them have some unique trait that is outside of the norm, and thus requires special consideration from players on both ends.

Rogue

Rogue

  • Cost: 50 gold
  • Hit Points: 4
  • Attack: 6
  • Defense: 1
  • Damage: 1-2
  • Speed: 5 (Fast)
  • Shots: 0
Rogues are a decent first-level equivalent unit that can be useful for heroes in the early game. They have a very high attack rating, though their defense is almost nonexistent, so they are much better when used offensively. This is not only due to their stats, but also their special attribute, which prevents any opponent they attack from retaliating against them.
Nomad

Nomad

  • Cost: 200 gold
  • Hit Points: 20
  • Attack: 7
  • Defense: 6
  • Damage: 2-5
  • Speed: 6 (Very Fast)
  • Shots: 0
A good early to mid-level unit in all respects, the Nomad is a fast mounted warrior that, like the Rogue, is perfect as a supporting creature for adventuring heroes. Unlike most neutral units, the Nomad does not have any special abilities to speak of. It is simply a solid, reliable ground unit, and their fairly low cost makes them a very attractive option when available.
Ghost

Ghost

  • Cost: N/A
  • Hit Points: 20
  • Attack: 8
  • Defense: 7
  • Damage: 4-6
  • Speed: 5 (Fast)
  • Shots: 0
The only unit in Heroes II that cannot be used by the player under any circumstances, the Ghost is an undead creature with a particularly frightening special ability; all creatures killed by the Ghost will immediately be resurrected as additional Ghosts. Fighting Ghosts requires special tactics, as they will target any units that can be easily killed and assimilated.
Genie

Genie

  • Cost: 650 gold, 1 gem
  • Hit Points: 50
  • Attack: 10
  • Defense: 9
  • Damage: 20-30
  • Speed: 6 (Very Fast)
  • Shots: 0
The Genie is not only a great unit in terms of its stats, but it also has possibly the most dastardly special ability in the game. It has roughly a ten percent chance at all times to cut the size of a stack in half, meaning that even a single Genie could potentially kill several dragons in one blow. It is comparable to levels six faction units, but also much cheaper.
Medusa

Medusa

  • Cost: 500 gold
  • Hit Points: 35
  • Attack: 8
  • Defense: 9
  • Damage: 6-10
  • Speed: 4 (Average)
  • Shots: 0
The fabled Medusa is a good combat unit with a devastating special ability. Medusae have a twenty percent chance on hit to turn a unit stack to stone for the remainder of combat. Obviously, this abilty, as well as the fear of it, can entirely change the course of a battle. Even if the ability does not activate, they have great defense and offense, with decent speed.
Air Elemental

Air Elemental

  • Cost: N/A
  • Hit Points: 35
  • Attack: 7
  • Defense: 7
  • Damage: 2-8
  • Speed: 6 (Very Fast)
  • Shots: 0
Like undead, Elementals have no morale modifiers, and are always considered to be at neutral morale. Similarly, they are not affected by mind-altering spells. The Air Elemental is the fastest of the four types, and has good stats in all areas. Due to its nature, it is unaffected by Meteor Swarms, but it is weak to Storm and Lightning Bolt, which do double damage.
Earth Elemental

Earth Elemental

  • Cost: N/A
  • Hit Points: 50
  • Attack: 8
  • Defense: 8
  • Damage: 4-5
  • Speed: 3 (Slow)
  • Shots: 0
The Earth Elemental is the slowest of the four Elementals, but it is also the most durable. It does not benefit or suffer from morale modifiers, and all mind-altering spells are ineffective against it. In terms of immunities and weaknesses, it is the opposite of the Air Elemental. It takes no damage from Storm and Lightning Bolt, but double damage from Meteor Swarm.
Fire Elemental

Fire Elemental

  • Cost: N/A
  • Hit Points: 40
  • Attack: 8
  • Defense: 6
  • Damage: 4-6
  • Speed: 5 (Fast)
  • Shots: 0
The Fire Elemental is reasonably fast and has good offense, but has poorer defense than other Elementals. As a construct, its morale is always considered to be at neutral standing, and it cannot be swayed by mind alteration. Naturally, it is immune to fire-based magical attacks, however cold magic is very effective against it, dealing two times the damage.
Water Elemental

Water Elemental

  • Cost: N/A
  • Hit Points: 45
  • Attack: 6
  • Defense: 8
  • Damage: 3-7
  • Speed: 4 (Average)
  • Shots: 0
The Water Elemental has superior defensive capability, but has the lowest attack rating amongst its kind. All of the normal traits of Elementals apply, including a lack of susceptibility to mental attacks and an unwavering neutral morale. It furthermore takes no damage whatsoever from cold-based magic, though fire magic causes twice its normal damage.

Reception

Heroes II was well received critically upon its release, with most reviewers believing that it was an improvement upon the foundation of the original game. Some publications went even further in their praise of the game, with PC Gamer going as far as to place it sixth and seventh respectively in their May 1997 and October 1998 lists of the best PC games of all time. It is also considered by many to be the series' breakout title.

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