I played a lot of Game Boy games when I was a kid, and I never got any good at them. Fifteen years later, I’m revisiting these games so that I can finally achieve victory. This is Daniel VS. Childhood.
Heroes of Might and Magic was a game that made me face my own mortality. It was difficult in a way that seemed like an anomaly. I would take my character, usually a barbarian named something like Thundraxx or Yog, or Desdemona, the ill-equipped Sorceress, and arm them with peasants and trolls and archers. Then, I’d trot them around the castle, collecting supplies so that I could breed more trolls and archers.
But I’d never stray too far, because if I went outside of the safe zone, I’d run into one of the computer-controlled players, who were also probably named Yog or Thundraxx or Desdemona. And then I’d die. Because while I’d been steadily and comfortably building up my troops, Yog must have instantly recruited every monster and soldier in the territory. My army would be slain in a way that seemed unfair to me as a child. Why would they make a game that was impossible to beat? Where was Yog getting his dozens of dragons from? I felt like I was coming close to begging in order to get just one elf to join my cause.
For years, you’re taught that intelligence will always beat brawn. The people you face might have more muscle than you, but with some quick thinking and a little luck, you’ll soon be wearing a helmet made from the inside of their head. Heroes of Might and Magic doesn’t play by this rule. The game may as well have been called Bullying Middle Earth, because, as I learned when I replayed it yesterday, you don’t really need any of that “magic” part. Instead, you gather supplies from your safe zone and you wait. You expand your platoons and you wait. And only then, when you have an outlandish number in your ranks, do you plunge headfirst into the darkness and conquer everything that is available for you to conquer.
Heroes of Might and Magic is a game about strategy that only has one: Increase your population infinitely, and then mercilessly run down anyone that opposes you. Stay quiet and raise a thousand phoenixes. And then take those phoenixes and exact a scorched earth campaign on the morons that thought that a few centaurs and two dwarves would be enough to go outside with. You give yourself a few weeks of cautious repetition and boredom, and then you crush your realm and claim your right to be king.
Fear me, Heroes of Might and Magic, for you are weak, and I am far too strong.