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Overview

Created by New World Computing and published by the 3DO Company, Heroes of Might and Magic III: Armageddon's Blade is an expansion pack for the PC turn-based fantasy strategy game Heroes of Might and Magic III: The Restoration of Erathia, and accordingly an installation of the earlier game is required in order to play. Released in 1999, the same year as Heroes III itself, Armageddon's Blade offers a variety of new content that expands upon the base game. Six new single-player campaigns are added to the original seven, while a single new town type, the Conflux, is introduced as well, bring the grand total to nine. More than three dozen new scenario maps are featured, and over a dozen new neutral units make appearances, many of them returning monsters from previous Heroes games. A random map generator is included that automatically creates maps based on selected criteria, and a campaign editor allows players to string together individual maps into full campaigns. New heroes and new overworld map locations appear within the expansion content, and a number of other minor gameplay tweaks were implemented as well.

Development

Originally, Armageddon's Blade was set to feature a ninth town type called the Forge that would combine classical fantasy elements with science fiction. This new town was intended to play a major role in the storyline of the expansion, which would branch off from the evil ending of Might and Magic VII: For Blood and Honor, with Queen Catherine fighting the mechanized hordes of the sinister Archibald and seeking out the Armageddon's Blade in order to destroy the Forge towns spread across Erathia by his allies. According to designer Greg Fulton, New World Computing had completed first drafts of the Forge town screen as well as its creatures and upgrades, and all but one campaign map had been completed. As details regarding the upcoming Forge town began to be publicly circulated, however, the inclusion of sci-fi elements was strongly criticized by a vocal contingent of Heroes fans, with a number of them promising to boycott the expansion if the faction was included in the final product. While Fulton later expressed doubt that the boycott would have had a large impact on sales, as less than one hundred e-mails in total were received requesting the removal of the faction, in light of the negative reaction and the lack of any strong voice of support for the new town, the decision was made to remove the Forge from the game entirely and heavily rework the story for Armageddon's Blade. The Conflux, home to various elemental beings, was created to replace the excised Forge town, and the new story focused on Queen Catherine's struggle against the forces of Eeofol, while the titular Armageddon's Blade was maintained as an important artifact which Catherine must prevent her enemies from obtaining.

Plot

Unlike the seven campaigns of Heroes III, which were unified by their ties to a central conflict known as the Restoration Wars, the six campaigns of Armageddon's Blade are essentially unrelated to one another. The main campaign, entitled Armageddon's Blade, is a direct followup to the central story thread of Heroes III, and once again stars Queen Catherine Ironfist. After turning back the legions of Nighon and Eeofol during the Restoration Wars and recovering her missing husband, King Roland, Catherine, now the acting queen of Erathia, is forced to face a new crisis threatening her father's kingdom. The death of King Xenofex of Eeofol precipitates the ascension of a new ruler of the demonic hordes, Lucifer Kreegan, who dreams of constructing the Armageddon's Blade, an unimaginably powerful weapon said to possess the ability to engulf the entire world in flames. Facing not only renewed offense from Eeofol but also increasing discontent on the home front from her war-weary subjects, Catherine sets out to prevent the creation of the Armageddon's Blade. This is further complicated by the sudden emergence of mysterious Conflux towns filled with elemental entities of considerable strength. Though Xeron, under the command of Kreegan, is ultimately able to obtain the Blade for his master, he is subsequently slain by Gelu, an Erathian half-human, half-elven guerrilla fighter, who then uses it to slay Lucifer Kreegan as well. With Eeofol quelled, Catherine and Roland are content that all major threats to the kingdom of Erathia have been sufficiently pacified, and depart Antagarich for Enroth shortly thereafter, entrusting Gelu with the safekeeping of the Blade.

Gameplay

See also: Heroes of Might and Magic III: The Restoration of Erathia

The most noticeable alterations to the core gameplay of Heroes III made in Armageddon's Blade come as a result of the new Conflux town as well as the additional neutral creatures, some of which are more powerful than any of the previously-available units found within the base game. Apart from these inclusions and a few more minor ones such as additional map locations, heroes, and artifacts, Armageddon's Blade is almost indistinguishable from its predecessor in gameplay terms. The new random map generator and campaign editor allow players to prolong their play experience even further by specifying parameters for the automated creation of new maps and the manual construction of new campaigns.

Conflux

Conflux Town

The Conflux town serves as home to Elementalist and Planeswalker heroes and as gathering point for beings of various elemental affinities. The neutral elementals of Heroes III (i.e., the Air, Earth, Fire, and Water Elementals) form the core of the Conflux faction's armies, and because they are all roughly equal in strength, Conflux players have a larger-than-average assortment of mid-level units. Elementals all enjoy immunity to mind spells, poison, and constant neutral morale. In terms of structures, Conflux Blacksmiths are able to construct Ballistas, and their Resource Silo produces one mercury per day. They are able to construct Shipyards, which makes them one of four faction to have this capability, as well as the Artifact Merchant and the Magic University, devoted to the purchase of magical artifacts and elemental magic skills, respectively. Their unique Grail effect automatically places all spells within the associated town's Mage Guild.

Basic UnitUpgraded UnitStats & Description (Upgrade Stats in Parentheses)
Pixie
Sprite

Pixie & Sprite

  • Cost: 25 gold (30 gold)
  • Hit Points: 3
  • Attack: 2
  • Defense: 2
  • Damage: 1-2 (1-3)
  • Speed: 7 (9) / Extra Swift (Ultra Swift)
  • Shots: None
While fairly frail even for level one units, Pixies and Sprites are also much quicker than most of their counterparts in other factions, a fact that allows them to strike first more often and avoid taking damage in some situations. The Sprite also gains the "no retaliation" special ability, giving the player even more incentive to use the unit offensively. Both versions of the unit have extremely high growth rates, and both are extremely inexpensive.
Air Elemental
Storm Elemental

Air Elemental & Storm Elemental

  • Cost: 250 gold (275 gold)
  • Hit Points: 25
  • Attack: 9
  • Defense: 9
  • Damage: 2-8
  • Speed: 7 (8) / Extra Swift (Very Swift)
  • Shots: None (24)
Air and Storm Elementals take double the damage from lightning-based spells such as Lightning Bolt and Chain Lightning, but are completely immune to the Meteor Shower spell. Statistically, they are perhaps the best level two units around, though they also cost quite a bit more than other units of their level. The upgraded form can not only cast Protection from Air, but also gains a long-range lightning projectile as its main attack.
Water Elemental
Ice Elemental

Water Elemental & Ice Elemental

  • Cost: 300 gold (375 gold)
  • Hit Points: 30
  • Attack: 8
  • Defense: 10
  • Damage: 3-7
  • Speed: 5 (6) / Slow (Swift)
  • Shots: None (24)
Like the Conflux's level two units, Water and Ice Elementals are somewhat stronger in most areas than their equivalents in other factions, and their price tags reflect this. Both Elementals enjoy immunity to freezing attacks like Ice Ray and Frost Ring, but take double the damage from fire-based attacks like Inferno and Fireball. Ice Elementals can cast Protection from Water, and they do not attack up close, but with deadly ranged ice tridents.
Fire Elemental
Energy Elemental

Fire Elemental & Energy Elemental

  • Cost: 350 gold (400 gold)
  • Hit Points: 35
  • Attack: 10 (12)
  • Defense: 8
  • Damage: 4-6
  • Speed: 6 (8) / Swift (Very Swift)
  • Shots: None
Level four starts to see diminishing returns for the Conflux faction and its emphasis on elemental units of roughly equal strength, as the Fire and Energy Elementals are somewhat less impressive when compared to the units fielded by other factions at the same level. Both units have total immunity to all fire-based attacks while taking fifty percent more from cold spells, while the upgrade can fly and cast Protection from Fire as well.
Earth Elemental
Magma Elemental

Earth Elemental & Magma Elemental

  • Cost: 400 gold (500 gold)
  • Hit Points: 40
  • Attack: 10 (11)
  • Defense: 10 (11)
  • Damage: 4-8 (6-10)
  • Speed: 4 (6) / Extra Slow (Swift)
  • Shots: None
Though not terrible by any means, the Earth and Magma Elementals are underwhelming fifth-level units, and they are also the slowest elemental variant available, making them somewhat hard to implement outside of garrison situations. They are both completely immune to the effects of Lightning Bolt and Chain Lightning, though vulnerable to Meteor Shower. Magma Elementals gain the ability to cast the Protection from Earth spell.
Psychic Elemental
Magic Elemental

Psychic Elemental & Magic Elemental

  • Cost: 750 gold (800 gold)
  • Hit Points: 75 (80)
  • Attack: 15
  • Defense: 13
  • Damage: 10-20 (15-25)
  • Speed: 7 (9) / Extra Swift (Ultra Swift)
  • Shots: None
Seen by some as evidence of other, less tangible elements, the Psychic and Magic Elementals are the strongest elementals units available to Conflux players. Like Hydras, they can attack all adjacent hexes when striking, and those on the receiving end are unable to counterattack. While the Psychic Elemental is immune to mind spells innately, the Magic Elemental is completely immune to magic and causes even greater damage.
Firebird
Phoenix

Firebird & Phoenix

  • Cost: 1,500 gold (2,000 gold, 1 mercury)
  • Hit Points: 150 (200)
  • Attack: 18 (21)
  • Defense: 18
  • Damage: 30-40
  • Speed: 15 (21) / Super Quick (Blazing Fast)
  • Shots: None
Firebirds and Phoenixes are not the strongest level seven units in Heroes III, but they grow at a rate of two units per week, whereas most similar units gain only one. They are also more reasonably priced than most, and come with an extremely useful fire immunity. Their attacks can affect two hexes at the same time, and the Phoenix specifically has a chance to return dead members of the stack to life by self-casting a resurrection spell.

Neutral Units

Armageddon's Blade features more than twice the number of neutral units even when taking into account the reclassification of Heroes III's elementals as Conflux units. More than half of these new additions appeared in one or more of the previous iterations of the series, including the Peasant, Rogue, Nomad, and Troll, but are nonetheless new in the context of Heroes III. Of particular note are the four neutral dragons of Armageddon's Blade, which are some of the most powerful (and most expensive) units in the entire game.

UnitStats & Description
Peasant

Peasant

  • Cost: 10 gold
  • Hit Points: 1
  • Attack: 1
  • Defense: 1
  • Damage: 1
  • Speed: 3 / Very Slow
  • Shots: None
The weakest unit in Heroes and Heroes II makes its triumphant return in Armageddon's Blade, and the statistics of its Heroes III counterpart are just as pitiful as past incarnations. Perhaps the only positive thing to say about the Peasant is that its price adequately reflects its usefulness. They are also ideal candidates for the Necropolis' Skeleton Transformer.
Halfling

Halfling

  • Cost: 40 gold
  • Hit Points: 4
  • Attack: 4
  • Defense: 2
  • Damage: 1-3
  • Speed: 5 / Slow
  • Shots: 24
Formerly the level one unit of the Heroes II Wizard faction, the Halflings offer direct competition for the Master Gremlins, the only other first-level ranged unit in Heroes III. While the two are dead even in terms of price, the Halflings have better damage potential and more shots, and while they do lack a bit for defense, their luck stat can never drop below one.
Rogue

Rogue

  • Cost: 100 gold
  • Hit Points: 10
  • Attack: 8
  • Defense: 3
  • Damage: 2-4
  • Speed: 6 / Swift
  • Shots: None
Unfortunately, the Rogues of Armageddon's Blade do not possess the "no retaliation" special ability that they were known for in previous games, however they do cause the Thieves Guild to provide additional information. It is of the utmost importance when using Rogues to attack one's enemies before being attacked, as their defense rating is not very high.
Boar

Boar

  • Cost: 150 gold
  • Hit Points: 15
  • Attack: 6
  • Defense: 5
  • Damage: 2-3
  • Speed: 6 / Swift
  • Shots: None
Boars in Armageddon's Blade are essentially level two units, as their unmounted equivalents were in Heroes II, and as member of this unit group they are roughly on par with their contemporaries. They do not have any special abilities to speak of, and neither are they particularly strong in any one area, however they are not sorely lacking as low-level units go.
Mummy

Mummy

  • Cost: 300 gold
  • Hit Points: 30
  • Attack: 7
  • Defense: 7
  • Damage: 3-5
  • Speed: 5 / Slow
  • Shots: None
While no longer specifically aligned with Necromancer heroes, the Mummies of Heroes III are very similar to their Heroes II counterparts. Their signature ability, the chance to inflict Curse upon opponents when attacking them, remains intact, as does their somewhat lackluster speed. Curse causes the afflicted party to inflict minimum damage when attacking.
Nomad

Nomad

  • Cost: 200 gold
  • Hit Points: 30
  • Attack: 9
  • Defense: 8
  • Damage: 2-6
  • Speed: 7 / Extra Swift
  • Shots: None
As ever, the Nomad is a statistically solid neutral unit with an entirely reasonable asking price. Nomads also gain a special ability for the first time in the series, granting them a speed boost whenever they travel over sandy terrain. Even when this ability is not in play, Nomads are a well-rounded unit, though their damage range is somewhat broader than most.
Troll

Troll

  • Cost: 500 gold
  • Hit Points: 40
  • Attack: 14
  • Defense: 7
  • Damage: 10-15
  • Speed: 7 / Extra Swift
  • Shots: None
Trolls in Heroes III are fairly dissimilar to their brethren in Heroes and Heroes II in that they favor melee attacks over ranged fire. They are clearly meant to be used offensively, as their attack value is fully twice that of their defense. Their speed and attack damage are respectable, and the top unit in the stack will always regain its health at the beginning of the turn.
Sharpshooter

Sharpshooter

  • Cost: 400 gold
  • Hit Points: 15
  • Attack: 12
  • Defense: 10
  • Damage: 8-10
  • Speed: 9 / Ultra Swift
  • Shots: 32
Though technically unaffiliated, Sharpshooters can be produced directly by the Erathian guerrilla fighter Gelu as an upgrade for other ranged units (Archers, Marksmen, Wood Elves, and Grand Elves). While their hit points are somewhat slight, they are still one of the better ranged units in Heroes III, as they incur no penalties when firing at a distance or past walls.
Enchanter

Enchanter

  • Cost: 750 gold
  • Hit Points: 30
  • Attack: 17
  • Defense: 12
  • Damage: 14
  • Speed: 9 / Ultra Swift
  • Shots: 32
Much like Sharpshooters, Enchanters can be trained from the ranks of other similar units (i.e., Monks, Zealots, Magi, and Arch Magi), though in their case the training is received from the dragon hunter hero Dracon. In addition to being able to utilize fairly powerful ranged attacks with every turn, Enchanters can also cast a single mass spell once every three turns.
Faerie Dragon

Faerie Dragon

  • Cost: 10,000 gold, 8 gem
  • Hit Points: 500
  • Attack: 20
  • Defense: 20
  • Damage: 20-30
  • Speed: 15 / Super Quick
  • Shots: None
While the Faerie Dragons are very capable in close combat, it is their affinity for ranged spellcasting that truly sets them apart from others of their kind. Provided they have enough spell points to do so, Faerie Dragons can cast a single randomly-selected offensive spell during their turn, allowing them to contribute even without physically entering the fray.
Rust Dragon

Rust Dragon

  • Cost: 15,000 gold, 14 sulfur
  • Hit Points: 750
  • Attack: 30
  • Defense: 30
  • Damage: 50
  • Speed: 17 / Extra Fast
  • Shots: None
The Rust Dragon is an extremely powerful example of its species with a number of additional special abilities that make it even more fearsome than its stats would indicate. It can attack two hexes at once, and each attack carries with it a three-point penalty to the target's defense and a thirty percent chance for 25 points of additional damage per dragon.
Crystal Dragon

Crystal Dragon

  • Cost: 20,000 gold, 10 crystal
  • Hit Points: 800
  • Attack: 40
  • Defense: 40
  • Damage: 60-75
  • Speed: 16 / Fast
  • Shots: None
Being made entirely from animate red crystal, Crystal Dragons produce one to two units of crystal per week as an added perk. They do not have wings as most dragons do, and thus cannot fly, however they are extremely fleet of foot, so this is not much of an issue. The attack of a Crystal Dragon has no special properties, but the base damage is extremely high.
Azure Dragon

Azure Dragon

  • Cost: 30,000 gold, 20 mercury
  • Hit Points: 1,000
  • Attack: 50
  • Defense: 50
  • Damage: 70-80
  • Speed: 19 / Ultra Fast
  • Shots: None
The ultimate dragon in terms of price and abilities, the Azure Dragon has a staggering 1,000 hit points, and the best attack, defense, and damage values in the game. The attack of an Azure Dragon can affect two hexes at once, and they are so intimidating that they may cause enemies to lose a turn, paralyzed with fear regardless of their actual morale rating.

Reception

The critical response to Armageddon's Blade largely mirrored the positive reaction to the main game, with reviewers commonly praising the additional town type, creatures, campaigns, and scenarios as more than sufficient reason to revisit Heroes III. The improved map-making tools and the new campaign editor were similarly well-regarded. The most common critique leveled against the expansion was the fact that none of the included content drastically altered the underlying game, and that those who purchased Armageddon's Blade were in for, as IGN's Rich Rouse put it, "more of the same"; despite this, it was the general opinion of most reviewers that, in the case of Heroes III, more of the same was not such a bad thing.

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