Heroes of Might and Magic II: The Succession Wars
for PC (DOS)

Mr Creosote:
Alternate Titles: Heroes of Might and Magic II: The Price of Loyalty, Heroes of Might and Magic II: Die Erbfolgekriege, FHeroes2, HOMM2
Company: New World Computing
Year: 1996
Genre: Strategy
Theme: War / Sword & Sorcery
Language: English / Deutsch
Licence: Commercial
Views: 1583
Review by Mr Creosote (2023-02-04)

As Wandrell remarked, Heroes of Might and Magic came at a strange time. Almost defiantly, it went against the zeitgeist in fundamental ways. Yet, its accessibility and the ever-popular sword & sorcery theme helped it built a cult following, and the sequel was not far off. The Succession Wars being… one of those cases. You know… “if you liked the original, you will enjoy this one.” But also: “if you already own the original, why buy this one?”

Depending on the size of the map, a number of warlords struggle for supremacy in the world. Starting from a humble, barely fortified city, heroic leaders are sent to scout the surroundings. Facing monsters and finding treasure. Gaining experience in the process. Using new, shiny gear. Reporting back to home base to recruit more creatures for their army. And finally going to battle with the opposing heroes' armies.


The core appeal of the series, of course, lies in the move away from faceless tactical challenges in classic SSI style wargames towards an at least graphically fleshed out, colourful world in which something is constantly happening. Slowly lifting the initial darkness of the map, the next event square is always in sight. What treasures may lie in that chest? Can I still fight that one battle now to secure this mine or should I go restock first?

The latter defining much of the challenge. HOMM is a game which rewards taking risks and punishes careful play. Gain a powerful artefact early on, capture that mine producing rare materials and it will potentiate over time. Those who sit in their initially safe fortresses miss the opportunity to raise in ranks, which makes them defenseless against more experienced heroes later on. Always stay on the edge, take the right gambles, and live with the fluidity of the non-existent front lines of this war, and you are in the right spirit.


Part 2 changes preciously little. Visually, it a little nicer, and it is the last part of the series using pixel graphics, making it a favourite among some to this day. There are some new units, some new city and hero types. A couple of different artefacts. Additional magic spells. The good news is that none of the stuff they added breaks the overall balance. It also, however, does not improve balance. For instance, low level creatures are still pretty much useless. And the less is said about the “campaign” which just strings unrelated missions together, the better.

The game remained sufficiently popular to receive a new life in the hands of enthusiasts. The FHeroes2 open source engine enables the game to be played on various systems popular today. At the time of writing, there are no significant changes to the game. Apart from some interface streamlining, its main advantage is the support for high screen resolution modes.

This, at least, makes the enjoyment of Heroes of Might and Magic 2 quite a hassle-free experience. Replaying, it shows that on one point, the original designers actually had quite a bit of foresight. The light-weight strategy is rather perfectly suited for our casual times. It's a game which essentially hasn't aged at all.

(Screenshots reflect the FHeroes2 engine, the game originally ran in 640x480.)

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