Might & Magic Heroes VI Preview

The bizarrely-titled latest installment in the Heroes of Might & Magic franchise has been given the preview treatment yet again, courtesy of Atomic MPC that offer their impressions based on the game's beta. Here's a sampling:
There are some pretty big changes to the HOMM franchise so I'll start out with the biggest and most controversial change. Since the original in 1995, HOMM games have always featured a range of resources. They've always had a currency (gold), they've always had construction materials (ore and wood), and they've had four '˜rare' resources, which were often required in large amounts (usually of one resource) to build the most powerful troops. The four rare resources were Gems, Minerals (usually represented as red crystals), Mercury and Sulphur. In the latest game, they have done away with all four rare resources, and replaced them with one unifying resource: Blood Crystals.

At first I was aghast at this change, it was always fun bargaining with other players in co-op mode to trade resources. These rare resources often became the economic constraint until you could trade or capture mines for all four. It also restricted the high-level magic spells to late game, because they required a large number of each rare resource to unlock. Having played the game, my opinion has reversed. By unifying the four resources into one, the game is extremely streamlined. It removes a lot of balance considerations that affected some races more than others depending on the map. It speeds up the '˜build up' phase of the game, allowing players to focus on acquiring artefacts and beefing up their heroes. In short, it allows the players to cut some of the less exciting build-up time of the game out, and focus on what they want to do: explore, loot and kill.