Ghosts and Peasants made for a dangerous combination indeed. They were not only dangerous to face, but also dangerous to use because the game offered a single challenging feature which was absent from HOMM. The hero of King's Bounty had a Leadership statistic based on class and Charisma which imposed a limit on the size of the army they could recruit. Ghosts could swell to exceed this limit by adding fallen enemies to their numbers which meant that the hero could lose control of them in the middle of a battle!
But there is another twist. The developers thought of a way to somewhat limit the Ghosts' overwhelming power: When the game calendar showed "Day of the Peasant", all Ghosts were permanently turned into Peasants!
There exists a board game of the same name - King's Bounty. It was published in 1991 by Task Force. It's played by 1 to 8 players and revolves around catching villains in a fantasy land. It's never mentioned as a derivative of the computer game, and the villains' names are all different, but the basic premise, and, strangely, the cover of the game is practically the same, as you can see, for example, here:
There is a kind (well not actually) of bug in King's Bounty that (probably) was fixed and realized in later versions of Heroes of Might and Magic. This has to do with the most powerful creature in King's Bounty.
Dragons you think? Not by a long shot. It's Ghosts. Yes, ghosts. Ten or twenty of them won't do much harm...well under normal circumstances they don't. But have you ever tried facing 1k (one thousand) of Ghosts? I unfortunately made the (stupid) mistake of bringing a lot of peasants (1000-2000) attacking a castle that initially only had 20-30 ghosts.
Next thing I know, I was collecting Dragons up to 100 and still got smacked...hard...by the undying protectors of that castle. They (kinda) fixed this problem in the later series of Heroes and Might and Magic by reducing the number of ghosts that resurrect after each ghost attack. In Heroes of Might and Magic II, Ghosts were no longer a force to be reckoned with...and was virtually eliminated as a main castle creature since Heroes of Might and Magic III. Bye-bye Casper and friends...
Jon (Van Caneghem), Mark (Caldwell), and the rest of New World Computing would spend their spare time playing board games. It was part of the development process and helped us with the design of new games. The team would work for several days straight on the next major software release, and in a downtime, we'd play.
One of our favorite games was Ogre. An old AD&D derivative originally from the dark mists of the seventies, but an outstanding strategy game nonetheless. We loved it. John decided it would be a great basis for a new computer game.
Thus began the genesis of King's Bounty. We worked for several months on the game design, re-working interface and strategic flow issues through lunchtimes. Early on, we used graph paper and lead figurines to represent the hordes. It was the stuff of imagination and pure creativity.
Recently ported to the PS2 under the name Heroes of Might and Magic: Quest for the DragonBone Staff.
If you don't believe me see the review at http://www.game-revolution.com/games/ps2/strategy/heroes_quest.htm
for a side by side comparison.
This game is actually the precursor to