The main purpose of adventuring is exploration and resource gathering. It can also improve your heroes in a variety of ways. There are two ways to go about adventuring: scouting, which constitutes mostly aimless roaming for removing the shroud and taking advantage of anything that is not guarded, and aggressive expansion, which involves the conquest of territory. Scouts are expendable heroes with light and relatively mobile troops. They are usually unsuited for any sort of combat, but can avoid trouble because of their good movement. There are several criteria that determine the amount of success any exploration mission will have. For clarity's sake, I will cover each one of these criteria individually.
Choosing the right hero
As far as your main heroes go (the ones you'll use to aggressively expand), they can be anyone you like. And although some are better than others, it all depends on personal preference and playing style. When picking a scout, however, it is important to look for several key characteristics. One, heroes who start with fast troops - hell hounds and serpent flies, for example. Two, heroes who start with Logistics, Scouting, Pathfinding, and Navigation secondary skills. Three, heroes with creature specialties (because they increase their troops' mobility and, in turn, their own). Four, heroes of your native town who were hired only for the troops they were leading and are now otherwise useless. Later in the game, when faster troops are readily available, multiple heroes with a single mobile troop type (dragon flies, silver pegasi, etc.) can be dispatched to uncover the map even faster.
There are a few things to keep in mind when exploring with scouts. First of all, never equip them with only a single stack of creatures. An enemy hero can easily dispatch them that way before they have a chance to retreat. The reason for this is that they can be carrying an artifact or a spell that you wish to pass on to your main forces. Second, never pick experience from treasure chests, unless you actually plan on developing the scout. On that same note, only visit free map locations with scouts.
The skill of adventuring
As mentioned above, there are a few secondary skills that are specifically designed to aid adventurers. Among those are Logistics (a skill EVERY hero should try to learn), Scouting (a useful skill for any aspiring scout), Pathfinding (useful if the map features lots of hard terrain), Navigation (a must for exploring the seas). There are other non-combat skills that work in more subtle ways. Scholar allows a more effective distribution of spells among your hero pool (just make sure the scout possessing that skill has a spell book before you send him/her out :). Diplomacy is a sure tiebreaker in close games (it also requires you to pay neutral creatures which might have otherwise joined you for free). Learning speeds up your level advancement (not particularly impressive when picking up experience from treasure chests or visiting learning stones). Estates is more of an economical skill, but it never hurts having it on one or more of your scouts :)
Spells that go the distance
Everyone knows the power of the awesome Dimension Door, Fly, Waterwalk, and Town Portal
spells. However, the little spells are often the ones that make the big difference. Here's
a list of the spells which are commonly overlooked:
1. View Earth (earth) - good for scouts on the prowl for more resources. At expert it lets you see the layout of the map and the location of all mines.
2. View Air (air) - useful for artifact hunting. At expert it allows you to pinpoint all heroes and towns on the map.
3. Visions (all) - a natural compliment of Diplomacy. Very useful early on when clearing out mines and other important locations. At expert it gives information about enemy heroes and towns as well.
4. Disguise (air) - a very tricky spell that lets you escape some hairy situations unscathed.
5. Summon Boat (water) - as the name suggests, it's useful when you have no other means of making a boat at a specific location. It can also be used to deprive the enemy of one of your stranded boats. At expert it creates a boat if none is available.
6. Scuttle Boat (water) - this is a dirty spell that can seriously cripple your opponent's expansion capabilities, not to mention it is extremely annoying to the person on receiving end :)
To say that artifacts are an important part of the game would be an understatement.
Artifacts are of extreme importance, so having the right assortment of those can spell
victory or defeat in most situations. Since we are on the topic of adventuring, here are
some items that may make yours a successful one:
1. Land mobility artifacts - rings, gloves, and boots that increase your movement points. All I can say about these is you can never travel far enough. If you can't learn Logistics, these artifacts are a good substitute.
2. Sea mobility artifacts - necklaces and caps that increase your movement on sea. The ultimate seafaring artifact is the Sea Captain's Hat, which also allows you to summon/destroy boats and protects you from whirlpools.
3. Sight range artifacts - those work similarly to the Scouting skill.
4. The Boots of Levitation - puts you in auto Waterwalk. Top of the line mobility artifact.
5. The Angel Wings - puts you in auto Fly. The best mobility artifact.
6. The Spellbinder's Hat - arguably the most powerful artifact in the game is not an adventure artifact per se, but it allows you to cast adventure spells like Fly and Dimension Door.
On a concluding note, it is a good idea to memorize what individual artifacts look like, because they appear the same on the world map, but without a description. It can save you tons of frustration during an actual game. Also, it is a bad idea to equip an expendable scout with any artifacts other heroes may need. In fact, it is a bad idea period, because they are EXPENDABLE. Make a habit of transferring artifacts from scouts to regular heroes as often as possible.
Naturally, some map locations are more critical than others, mines and towns being the
most important of all. Below is a list of sites you should never pass by.
1. Sites that give you extra movement. These include Stables, Rally Flags, Fountains of Youth, Watering Holes, and Oases. They will also provide a variety of other bonuses. The only exception (which should not apply to Stables) is going out of your way to visit them, effectively slowing your progress.
2. Sites that remove the shroud. These include Magi Huts, Redwood Observatories, and Cartographers (for land, underworld, and sea).
3. Keymaster's Tents. Not all are essential or even important, but some are. So unless you know what it's guarding, I suggest visiting each and every color tent you encounter.
4. Seers. Again, you never know what they may give you as a reward and it might be big.
5. Prisons. This is a no-brainer, just make sure your hero ranks are not already full before going after an imprisoned hero.
6. External creature dwellings. This is another no-brainer, but only if it helps you in some way. For example, you wouldn't go out of your way to flag a Cursed Temple if you are a Knight, but you might consider flagging a Dragon Cave in most situations. This also presents an intriguing alternative if you are playing as the Dungeon. Since that town can build a Portal of Summoning, you may be well-advised to be careful of what you flag. If you flag only high-end dwellings, you will be able to recruit powerful creatures on a regular basis. Keep in mind that in order to get the most out of your external dwellings you'll need to visit them each week. Be prepared to set aside "collector" heroes for this purpose.
7. Sites that contain considerable rewards. Dwarven Treasuries, Naga Banks, Cyclops Stockpiles, Imp Caches, Medusa Stores, and Griffin Conservatories all reward you handsomely for the effort. The best fight-for-reward site is the Dragon Utopia. DO NOT pass it by if you have the chance to beat it.
8. Trees of Knowledge. The only downside to these is the occasional resource prerequisite. But even then they are worth the price, especially for high-level heroes who would not find an easier way to grow.
9. Libraries. These are a must for every level 10+ hero.
10. Magic Springs. Mimics the effects of the Dungeon's Mana Vortex building and the Expert Intelligence skill, although the Intelligence bonus is permanent.
11. Covers of Darkness. These are very very important in multiplayer games since they set back the adventuring efforts of others. They are also good for staging ambushes as well as escapes.
Take a swim
The seas, while often disregarded on predominantly land-based maps, can be the source of considerable riches. Hence, it is advisable to take advantage of them whenever possible. Aside from wood and gold, many useful artifacts can be fished out from the waves. The map may also contain remote islands unreachable by any other means. The sea Cartographer will reveal every area covered with water. You can also scout the seashores, which can give you valuable information of enemy outposts and movement. Just make sure you don't end your turn near the beach, where you can be boarded. Lighthouses and Shipyards, therefore, are locations you should be keeping an eye out for. There are three towns which can build shipyards of their own, if they are close enough to the shore - Castle (the best on island maps), Fortress, and Necropolis.
When sailing the seas of Heroes3 beware the Whirlpools. Never enter one unless you're running for your life or there is no other way to get from one section of the map to another. Never EVER enter a whirlpool with a full compliment of troops. Only the Sea Captain's Hat artifact makes it safe for sailors to cross these treacherous vortexes. Note: if you have only one troop left, your boat will not sink when passing through a whirlpool. It is, in fact, the best way to cross multiple whirlpools with scouting heroes.
Thanks to The Nether Gods team for the contents of this page!