Monday, August 15, 2011

March Of The Undead

March of the Undead is a huge pain in the ass. The scenario requires you to flag every creature generator within a specific number of months. Unfortunately, there are literally hundreds of creature generators spread out across two levels of an extra-large map.

The time limit isn't really a problem. However, the abundance of half-obscured dwellings is compounded by a near useless minimap on an extra-large map size. Enjoy spending weeks searching the map Where's Waldo-style for elusive unflagged dwellings. I hated every moment of it.

The scenario also makes you wish your heroes had the ability to quickly move from city to city. Eight heroes is not enough to put together an effective offense/defense strategy on a map of this size. Therefore, I often had to resort to guerrilla tactics to survive. The computer was relentless in its attack and sent heroes with huge armies at my doorstep. The only solution in those cases was to run from battle and sacrifice a city in hopes of recapturing it later.

I suppose it's possible to play the scenario in such a way that I flagged dwellings without first destroying the enemy team. But I never had the guts to do it. I wonder if that's how the map designer intended the map to be played? Perhaps the map was like a puzzle that requires finesse and I've been trying to solve it by brute force all along?

In any case, I'll talk about my 'brute force' method. The key to surviving this map appears to be 'speed.' If you dawdle too long, the enemy will overwhelm your cities and destroy your heroes.

I actually had to replay this map after getting my butt kicked the first time around. On my second playthrough, I sent two heroes (including Adrienne) immediately to the east to capture the three abandoned Fortress cities (Team A). The first time around, I wasted time and failed to capture the second and third Fortresses. That was my downfall.

The other two heroes (Team B) ventured north to flag dwellings and recruit creatures. The purpose of Team B was to keep the enemy busy via cat and mouse games so that I could upgrade my Fortress cities.

There is a purple border guard north of the southeastern Fortress city. You should never allow this border to be opened without a fight. The border guard is the only thing protecting your cities from a quick invasion at the hands of three high level death knights with moderate to large sized armies.

In fact, the purple border guard is so critical that the enemy will try to reach the purple tent by sea and open the border guard for itself! Prevent this from happening as long as possible. Once the flood gates are open, the map difficulty ramps up significantly.

I also want to mention that there are quest huts littered across the map. They grant rewards for vanquishing certain non-undead creatures on the map (e.g. diamond golems, fire elementals, and water elementals). The rewards aren't that great. Also, the required battles are taxing on your heroes' armies and spell points. I skipped the side-quests entirely.

One of the most time consuming aspects of this map is exploring the entirety of the underworld and flagging the dwellings within. Many of these creature dwellings belong to higher level creatures such as hydras and gorgons and require tedious battles to capture. I recommend enabling Quick Combat in the options to skip through the monotony.

After you've explored most of the map and destroyed the enemy, be sure take a look at the overall map layout. Pretty cool huh? According to the story, Lord Haart's undead company burned its way through Tatalia. However, as Adrienne mentions early in the scenario, the swamps are resilient and have already begun to regenerate.

This is reflected in the map's visual design. You can trace Lord Haart's path of destruction (dirt terrain) from the southwest corner to the northeast. However, the dirt is slowly being reintegrated into the swamps.

I also think the campaign introduces us to its villain in a very effective manner. First we only hear rumblings of a stirring evil. Then, we start to see the destruction that the villain has left behind. Finally, we engage the villain on the field of battle in a no-holds barred brawl. I only wish the Armageddon's Blade campaign had followed this progression and given us a glorious and epic final battle against Lucifer Kreegan.

My only complaint about Adrienne's campaign is that the villain lacks a truly compelling reason for invading Tatalia. (Other than the fact that he's a death knight who wants to destroy life.) The point is, the campaign would feel more important to the overall lore of Antagarich if Tatalia had something important that Lord Haart wanted... rather than it just acting as a source of fresh corpses.

Nevertheless, getting closure to Lord Haart's character arc is better than no closure at all. And in terms of the Heroes series, there are certainly far worse examples of storytelling.

Stay tuned for the final scenario.


  1. It's a pleasure to read this blog. I have one small request/suggestion: when you're done with Heroes 3, would you go back and do this for Heroes 2 as well? That would be totally awesome.

  2. Thanks for the help; this is the mission I obsessed over as a kid, and twelve years later, it hasn't gotten any easier. Much appreciated. Keep the good stuff coming!

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. I guess I should have much less to complain, as I got Adrienne and another hero learn expert town portal from the first scenario. One more thing to mention is, with enough ranged troops, you can slaughter most skeleton, zombie and even vampire enemy with little or no loss in troops and MP - and most importantly, you need not outnumber your enemy too much with that tactics, which would enable you explore in multiple directions at the same time.
    I personally did not find any difficulty in this map - whenever I capture a town, I upgrade it with city hall and resource silo ASAP, and with expert town portal it is possible to collect large amount of troops in no time from sometime of the 2nd or 3rd month. From then on, you can eliminate Tan with several battles that are not really difficult. And similarly, once you capture a town left top to the map, just teleport a hero with large troops and rich MP there to conquer enemy forces. It would not take very long.

    I actually defeated all AI players quite early in 4th month. The real pain is that, this map is so big that even view earth spell cannot help you figure out all creature generators..

    It is mentionable that the reward for collecting 30 water elements is town portal spell, and it would be very helpful especially when you have a hero with expert scholar. I can't imagine one marching into the last quest without expert town portal.