First Impressions: Might and Magic Heroes Kingdoms

Browser-based games have come a long way. A few years ago, I would have never predicted that they would be as popular and varied as they are now. I wouldn't have believed that the quality would rise, while still being contained in the 2-D walls of your favorite browser. But, here we are, discussing Might and Magic Heroes Kingdoms, another browser-based game that has raised that level of quality once again. It's a subtle difference, but the improvements should still be noted and enjoyed.

First of all, I want to say that I am generally horrible at any type of PvP. I rarely think of conquest and would rather trade with my fellow players than attempt to murder them. Call me old-fashioned! So, when I signed up for a game that promised that type of epic conquest (and diplomacy as well, lest we forget) I was a little more than worried that the following First Impressions would consist only of the words "I SUCK."

What I found, after giving in and joining the very first alliance that offered membership, was a game that is heavy on the chin-scratching and light on difficulty. And it's fun, too.

We must note here that the developers claim that the game is made to stretch out over several months of playtime. A player would not be hitting any type of "level cap" or "endgame," if there were one, for quite a while. So, I settled in after choosing from one of the four races and followed along with the introductory quests. These quests teach you the basics of the game, but also serve the very important purpose of handing out some much-needed goods. Think of them like a hearty breakfast for your conquering hero.

"Either way, I spent quite a few sleepless nights silently attacking my enemies. The next morning I would wake up to find combat reports that broke down the details of the slaughter. "


Soon I was introduced to my hero -- that is, my heroine -- and to many of her nuances. Heroes are just what you might think: leaders for your army and mayors for your towns. You can have up to three heroes in the "free" mode of the game. This free time can last as long as the player wants, but generally you will start to feel restricted after "about four weeks." After that, a small subscription (around $6.50) will be required to expand the account. I have felt no need for subscribing yet, but I imagine that it all depends on the speed of the player. Might and Magic Heroes Kingdoms can move at the speed of a glacier, a tempo that worked quite nicely for me.

As I pointed out, I promised to join the very first alliance that invited me. Soon I found myself a part of the "CCCP," a clan hosted by someone named "USSR." I shrugged and hoped for the best. I also told myself that, no matter what the instruction, I would obey my alliance leaders. Sure enough, I was instructed to build my new town in a certain area (which I will) and to perform in certain ways (which I'll also do). In return, the leaders not only promised me protection, but have also treated me with gold. When I asked for advice, they were very giving. When I was attacked, they were very swift in issuing a warning to the attacking parties. Despite the fact that we decided to "play it conservatively," I am really enjoying being part of an organized group.

The game is filled with moments of quiet intensity. There are no sounds, and the only animations are in the handy timeline that keeps track of current orders and projects. Still, I found myself worrying whether my mines would be upgraded in case of an attack, or whether I would blow wastefully through the gold that my alliance so generously gave me. Even attacking someone or something is quiet, and seemingly simple. You attach your forces to one of your heroes, click on the plot or city that you want to attack and arrange the groups of soldiers along a vertical battle line. That line shows you if you are receiving an attack bonus (or not) so that you may arrange your army into a more efficient fighting machine. Sometimes I went for an overall power that was greater than my opposition, and sometimes I tweaked my army to receive the best buffs to my attack. Either way, I spent quite a few sleepless nights silently attacking my enemies. The next morning I would wake up to find combat reports that broke down the details of the slaughter.

One of the great things about a browser-based game such as Might and Magic Heroes Kingdoms is that I can check it from my iPhone or iPad. That means that if I felt worried about a particular event or potential attack, I could check it from the comfort of my own bed. It might sound like a small thing, but there is much pleasure to be had in commanding hordes of undead minions while The Daily Show runs in the background. I have enjoyed seeing browser games rise in popularity, probably due in no small part to the spread of hand-held devices. What I wouldn't have done for an iPhone and a game like Might and Magic Heroes Kingdoms 10 years ago!

After all that, though, the pace of the game will definitely turn off many people. But, from what I gather, once you hit a certain point, everything speeds up and builds cumulatively. You gain a second city, and that city increases production. Increased production creates better opportunities for arming yourself. A better army means better defenses and a stronger alliance. I hope to get to that point, someday.
In the end, Might and Magic Heroes Kingdoms doesn't do so much different from other browser-based games, but what it does it does right. It's fun, can be played in a few minutes a day, and is as social as any "standard" MMORPG. I have to say that the best decision I made was joining my alliance, the CCCP. They are a friendly, informative bunch, and all this time I never once saw them react without thinking first. I've never served in the armed forces, but being in CCCP felt like I was part of a greater, and bigger, picture.

You can go play the game here. Like I pointed out, I have been playing for quite a while and I haven't spent a dime. The subscription seems cheap enough, and you definitely get your money's worth. I warn you, though: you might find yourself awake at 4 a.m., obsessing over whether to build a fort around your city or to recruit more soldiers. Just put on a pot of coffee and you'll be fine.
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This article was originally published on Massively.