We will be focusing on the first few games in the series, as that’s mostly what I’ve played, but things aren’t too different even now. Heroes of Might and Magic holds a special place for me, if only for the fact that it’s one of the games my wife consistently beats me in. When we first met, she had HoMM I on her computer, but I probably played III the most. Didn’t matter which we played, though, she soundly destroyed me every time, to the point she would suggest playing co-operatively instead. Just a touch humbling. ;)
If you’ve never played HoMM, the most basic form of the game has you starting with one of several types of castles, with each type producing different creature themes (there’s one that has classic medieval troops, a woodland themed one with wood elves and centaurs, etc.). You have to improve your town to get new creatures, and you have a hero character (you can recruit more than one) to explore the land to find resources that you need for that building.
Combat takes place when opposing heroes meet in the field, or when a hero attacks a town. The heroes do not typically act in the battles directly, until I think HoMM IV and up, but bestow bonuses and cast spells. Most games in the series have a rudimentary XP point system for heroes to improve their skills and bonuses with a tech tree. There are also items they can be equipped with for boosts which are won from enemy heroes or found on the map.
The nice thing about the HoMM series is that they could run on just about any PC (and some Macs and even Linux on occasion). That made it easy to play against someone else without enduring hotseat play. We still fire this up once in a while, usually when I need to be humbled. :)