Cheating is no fun

I have a great deal of trouble listening to audio books. I have to do something else at the same time or I go mad. The problem is the something else can’t take too much brain power or else I can’t listen to the story.  I used to draw but I can’t do that anymore which doesn’t leave many options.  So when I decided to listen to A Princess of Mars I fell back on my old favorite game Heroes of Might and Magic III (the complete version from GOG).

I have played that game to death but I’m not actually good at it. (The day that I am good at a game is the day the world comes to an end.) There’s still a few maps I haven’t beat and I haven’t done all the campaigns. The Restoration of Erathia campaign is one of the few I finished and one of the few times that I cheated. In one map (can’t remember the name– it’s a long time ago), I could not figure out how to beat it. It’s the one with a time limit and the anti-magic garrison blocking the way to the town that needs to be captured with both the garrison and the town having huge armies in them. I could get through the garrison but my army would be wiped out and I couldn’t take the town. After going through this five times, I smashed in a cheat code for all buildings in at the beginning and if I remember correctly still just barely beat it. I am unrepentant in this case.

I hadn’t intended to bother with those maps while listening to A Princess of Mars, but after 9+ hours of a game that I’ve played since I was 12, I started to get bored. Just for the heck of it I opened one the “impossible” maps and all-buildinged it. I gave up after a couple weeks in. Why? It wasn’t impossible anymore but good grief was it dull!

If a game is too easy, it becomes boring as hell. No mad scramble to get enough resources, no careful planning on which buildings should take priority, no barely winning a battle by the skin of your teeth and two halberdiers left.

I had the fan made Wrath of the Gods at one time (on a computer that has since died).  That added a bunch of mods/cheats which could be easily turned on or off at the beginning.  On one map, can’t remember which, there was a row of 7 level creature dwellings.  I had “creature dwellings accumulate creatures” turned on and got myself a whole army of 7th levels. With an army like that and enough moral boosting artifacts to negate the problems, you can smash anything in a round. But that’s overkill. Get a stack of twenty angels and 100+ zealots and not much is going to give you trouble. But by the time you get to something like that by the normal process, you’ve earned it and there’s still a chance the computer has something better.

I’ve also tried the fan made HD version which gives you the ability to skip combats by offering you an outcome where you won but lost so many troops. The absolutely best thing to do in the game is fight everything. Every tiny group of level 1 wandering monsters. You need ALL THE XP. It gets tedious, however, to fight one more horde of troglodytes. It’s tempting to accept the option to let them run away. The HD takes the tedium away but as I played it it that way it lost some of the fun. I’m also pretty sure that I’m better at getting no casualties than the computer is.

While the game has its flaws, every trick to cut out the tedium or make yourself more powerful more quickly kills part of the fun.  No challenge, no fun.  You no longer have to think about what you need to do.  As for the map I’m still not sorry I cheated on… well, that wasn’t fun either even after cheating.  Because the opposite is also true: no chance of winning, no fun.  Smarter people than I won’t run into that problem.  I’m just stuck.  And those impossible maps stay impossible.

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