Heroes of Might and Magic: Complete Edition

Basic Details
  • Released: 2007
  • Format: Telescopic box (board game style), 32 ⨉ 32 ⨉ 9.5 cm
  • Where I bought it: eBay
Heroes of Might and Magic Complete Edition
Games Included
  • Heroes of Might and Magic (King’s Bounty included as a bonus)
  • Heroes of Might and Magic II Gold (includes The Succession Wars original campaigns + Price of Loyalty expansion + extra maps)
  • Heroes of Might and Magic III Complete (includes The Restoration of Erathia original campaigns + Armageddon’s Blade / The Shadow of Death expansions)
  • Heroes of Might and Magic IV + The Gathering Storm / The Winds of War expansions
  • Heroes of Might and Magic V + Hammers of Fate / Tribes of the East expansions

Released about a year and a half after Heroes V and shortly after the second of its expansions – Tribes of the East – this edition definitely lives up to its name. Included are every main series game and every official expansion that has existed up to that point. Keen fans of the series may notice that the Heroes Chronicles series of spin-off campaigns for Heroes III are missing; I don’t know if they were simply forgotten, or whether there were some legal hurdles to republishing them.

In addition to the game content, this bundle is also a very impressive collector’s edition, with fancy packaging and tons of extras. It was released exclusively in Europe, as a limited run, with each box carrying a small sticker with the serial number. According to various sources – a total of 20,000 boxes have been made, split between English, French, German releases (in all of them, however, most of the printed content is in English). A separate Russian release, fully localized exists as well.

Packaging

The first thing you notice is how nice the package looks – a  white, big, with shiny ,slightly reflective gold print. The next thing you notice is how heavy it is – I weighed it at over 2.5 kg. The box is a nice hard cardboard telescopic box, which means you don’t have to deal with easy-to-tear flaps. An inner plastic insert has individual compartments for every item, so nothing will be tumbling inside the box as it is moved around.

The 8 disks are split between two 4-disk cardboard cases (one for the games, one for extra content), each with a pair of 2-disk plastic inserts inside. The disks are held in place by small and sturdy plastic hooks on the sides, which do not actually do such a good job if the cases are shaken. On the other hand, they are not likely to break easily as frequently happens with the more standard clips-in-the-middle approach.

Game DVDs

There is a total of 4 DVDs with the games: one disk contains all of Heroes 1 + 2 + 3, one disk contains Heroes IV and the expansions, and Heroes V are split between the remaining two – base game and Hammers of Fate on one, and Tribes of the East on the other. Each DVD has a front-end setup program (Autorun) to conveniently install any of the components, and also to view PDF manuals for every single game and expansion pack in this collection. The installers have been updated to work on modern versions of Windows, which is great, considering that the original Windows installers for Heroes and Heroes II were quite problematic in this regard. Some compatibility problems may still exist with the games themselves, if you try to run them on something like Windows 10 64-bit, but most of these have workarounds which you can find by searching online (PCGamingWiki is a good resource).

Game Disks (note the language options for each package)
Game Disks (note the language options for each package)

An advantage of this collection, which always scores big points in my book, is that none of the disks are copy-protected, so you can easily make images / backup copies. The first 3 games still require the disk (or image) to be loaded, as the developers neglected to remove the old silly CD checks; Heroes IV and Heroes V have none of those. There are product codes for Heroes V printed on the back of the manual, but these were originally only used for the Ubi.com online multiplayer, which, to the best of my knowledge, has been discontinued. The codes are not needed for installation, single-player or local (Hot Seat / LAN) multiplayer games.

The Heroes and Heroes II versions in this collection have a couple of disadvantages, compared to the original releases and earlier bundles, such as the Heroes Compendium: First, the CD audio tracks were removed, as the games were dumped together on the same DVD. This means you only have 8-bit audio for Heroes and MIDI music for Heroes II. Second, the DOS versions are not included (although King’s Bounty, which is also a DOS game, still is).

What else do I get?

Tons of nice extras. There are 4 additional disks (3 audio CDs + bonus DVD), printed manual and faction booklet, a huge, heavy, beautiful hardcover artbook, a T-shirt, a two-sided poster and a complete deck of Tarot cards designed with the game’s artwork. The consistent design scheme (“Complete Edition” logo and the golden griffin over white background) is present on most items in the package, including the box itself.

A quick inspection of the extras shows that all of them reference only Heroes V. It may be a bit disappointing not to have more collectible stuff for the other games, but it is understandable, given the package is rather large as it is. Ubisoft may have assumed that fans would be most interested in the latest game (which was very new at the time this bundle was released).

Soundtracks + Bonus DVD
Heroes V Soundtracks and Bonus DVD
Heroes V Soundtracks and Bonus DVD

The three music disks are standard Redbook audio CDs, which will play in any CD player. They include the soundtracks of Heroes V and its two expansion packs, respectively (track lists are on the cardboard CD holder). The extra disk is a data DVD (for use with a PC, not a DVD player) and contains content for Heroes V, which you expect from a bonus DVD: trailers, artwork, wallpapers, some audio tracks. The most interesting thing about it is probably the fan-made Heroes V encyclopedia, including a 338-page color PDF manual and a flash-based “skill wheel” app.

Printed Materials

First, there is the standard instructions manual. Besides the installation instructions for all games, it only covers Heroes V and its expansions. It will be in English, French or German, depending on which country the bundle was purchased in originally, and I think it’s the only thing translated. The back of the manual has 3 printed product codes – for Heroes V and for each of its expansions. Unfortunately, the wrong ink was used, which is prone to smearing, and eventually the codes will become unreadable if you handle the manual frequently; standard stickers would have probably been better. You can copy the codes over, of course, but they are probably next to useless nowadays, as the online multiplayer servers are no longer available.

To accompany the manual, there is a separate Faction booklet which covers the different hero types and their attributes, and the stats for every creature in the game, including upgrades and alternate upgrades. I wish it would mention the creature specials, though.

The pinnacle of this Heroes of Might Magic Complete Edition is the artbook. Large-format and hardcover, the book is almost half of the package by weight (over 1 kg), and contain 170 pages of Heroes V art goodness – Heroes, factions and their stories, creatures, backgrounds, short expositions by the artists and even some fan art – you will find it all there. I think the background on the “making of” and the visual style design will really be appreciated by seasoned players, who already have familiarity with the game and the characters.

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Extras

First, there is a big poster, folded in four (about 50×50 cm when unfolded). One side shows the full roster of Heroes V creatures (including the alternate upgrades). The other depicts Leo Hao‘s first-prize-winning battle scene, which is really nice. Unfortunately to keep the poster square, the image was cropped at the left/right edges.

Next is a T-shirt, white, size L, with a Angry Horned Overseer at the front, and a Tiny cute Horned Overseer at the back. I can’t imagine myself ever wanting to wear it, so I left mine in the plastic wrap.

Finally, a complete deck of Tarot cards is included, using Italian suits (swords, cups, coins and batons), and the full set of trumps. The names for some of the trumps have been altered from the standard, to better match the game and the illustrations. According to the artbook, the deck includes all the major game heroes, plus details from the best of Oliver Ledroit‘s designs and drawings. The illustrations are pretty and the cards themselves are of high quality. The Tarot deck, with slightly different design of the suits and the backs, was originally offered as a promotional item with the earliest sales of the game, but nowadays it may be very hard to find outside this Complete Edition.

Jpeg
The Tarot Deck
Summary

The Heroes of Might and Magic Complete Edition is truly one of the nicest collector’s editions I’ve encountered. It gives you not only nice collectibles, but also tons of game content, and with no DRM at all – super-sweet. Some hardcore fans may be disappointed by the omission of the Heroes Chronicles campaigns, and lack of CD audio for HeroesHeroes II.

Due to the sheer amount of extra content, I’m willing to overlook the fact that it only reflects Heroes V and not the earlier games. At the very least, digital versions of the manuals for all the games are available.

Limited as the release was, complete and lightly used copies still frequently pop up on various marketplaces, but prices may vary from reasonable to not so reasonable. The Russian edition seems very hard to come by outside Russia/ex-USSR countries, though. For gamers who are interested in owning physical copies of their games, but don’t care so much for the additional goodies – the 2011 release Might & Magic: Heroes Collection – includes all the same games and expansions in a standard DVD case, and may be more affordable.

Games:  ★★★★★★★★★☆ (9/10)
Extras: ★★★★★★★★★★ (10/10)
Total:  ★★★★★★★★★★ (10/10)

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