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Heroes of Might & Magic II was the sequel to the original Heroes of Might & Magic, itself a turn based strategy retelling of the much older Might & Magic rpg series. It was released by 3D0 in 1995, and was meant to run on late DOS computers or Windows 95. The game supported single player, multiplayer or networked gameplay.

HoMM2, as it is sometimes known, could be seen as roughly analogous to Civilization, with each player controlling a number of cities, each able to produce different types of units, based on the amount of money and resources invested in that city. The player could also hire Heroes of six different classes to lead their troops into battle. The different classes each had different strengths and weaknesses, and the ability to overcome them by gaining experience levels or finding artifacts. The Heroes themselves do not directly fight, they merely influence the outcome of the battle by changing the combat abilities of their units and casting magic spells.

The player is given the ability to play on about two dozen maps that come with the disc (as well as the ability to design their own with a map editor), as well as two campaign games. The purpose of these maps can differ from "defeat all other enemies", to "capture a specifc city" to "accumulate a certain amount of money". The score of the player was based on the difficulty level of the map and how many turns they beat it in.

That then, is the basics of the game. I myself, have spent many many hours playing this game, it being, next to Civilization the PC Game I have spent the most time on. In fact, I enjoyed it much more than I did the sequel, which was much more colorful and multi-faceted. I think the reason for this is that HoMM2, while having many complicated formulas and nuances, at base only has a few factors: the strength of the player's troops, the ability of the player's heroes, the development of the player's city, and of course, money and resources. The different units and situations that are given are just enough to manifest these basic concepts. Heroes of Might & Magic III, while flashier, drifted away from this basic tightness. The strategic and tactical decisions are very well presented in the game: should a player invest their resources to build a higher level mage's guild, learning more spells, or should they try to build a higher level building for producing more powerful units? In combat, should a player cast a direct damage spell to kill enemy troops, or should they cast a spell that weakens enemy troops so their own troops can more effectively deal with them? Should they carry along a slow unit that will impede their ability to move quickly but will provide power if they do get caught? Should they spend all their money buying troops right now, or buy a more powerful troop production building, and wait ten turns to attack? All of these are questions that come up in every game, and all of them have a different solution, even on the same map, from game to game. Even after getting through the complicated formulas, there is still a question of the best route to take. That is why this game, once you get through the intial complexity, is rather basic, but basic in a way that is ever changing.

After having established the cognitive, metaphysical primacy of this game, I should add some caveats: it is a turn based strategy game, which disqualifies it for some people right off the bat, either because they don't like them, or because they like them so much that they end up spending 15 hours sitting playing them, glassy eyed. Also, it is a game that is about 7 years old, and therefore it in no way stacks up in graphics or features to the games that are coming out today. It does, however, have a beautiful CD opera soundtrack. In short, this game may be old, but I consider it one of the most involving, well balanced strategy games I have played.

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