Four of the 5 factions have been confirmed (stronghold, necro, haven, inferno). We are also anticipating that the 5th vanilla faction will be the new Naga sanctuary.
This leaves several factions out of the mix, at least for the time being. However, it is almost certain at least two (2) factions will be introduced via the use of one (1) or two (2) expansions.
I just wanted to get your thoughts on which factions you think will (or will not) make it into Heroes VI in any form and why?
Here are my thoughts:
Academy: The wizard town has been a part of heroes games forever. The wizards have a very prominent place in the lore of Ashan, and, therefore, I think it is most likely that they will return, at least in some form. However, if the rumors involving the new naga sanctuary are true, then I think the chances of the Academy returning may be less than certain. The naga sanctuary seems to have serval units that, at least in some part, have a similar "feel" to the academy. Indeed, the naga sanctuary has a feel of being a primarly "magic" town with untis that appear to at least somewhat have the same feel of the units from the academy.
Assuming the rumors that the naga sanctuary are true, I would put the chances for the academy returning at about 55%-60%. Though I personally love the academy and while it fits in very well with the lore of Ashan, I can't help but feel that the new Naga faction was meant to be the replacement for the wizards in this sixth installment of the game. Of course, I could be dead wrong.
Sylvan: The nature-loving high elf faction I believe has the highest probability of returning to Heroes VI of any prior faction. This has been a staple of might and magic games for many years. The fact that the town has a very distinct "feel" to it further increases the probability that we will see the elves making a triumphant return to the world of Ashan.
Where are we likely to see changes? I think it is clear that Ubisoft is attempting to move away from worthless tier 1 units and also away from overpowered 7th tier units. If the elves return, I doubt we will see the inclusion of worthless units (like sprites) and vastly overpowered units (like emerald dragons).
Another change I can see is that the developers could try to incorporate the sylvan elves with the dark elves to produce one (1) elven faction. I am no expert on Ashan lore, but since Heores VI takes place earlier in time than Heroes V, I think there could be a great story regarding this faction involving a time when both high elves and dark elves were part of the same society. Combined with the fact that I do not see the dungeon returning (see below), I think it is highly possible that we could see a high elf race with some dark elf-type elements and units. The probability of the sylvan faction returning in some form is higher than 80% in my opinion and is almost certain.
Dungeon: This was my favorite faction in Heroes V. Unfortunately I think that it is least likely that the dark elves will return for this installment.
My reasons for thinking this? First is the fact that many historical dungeon units seemed to have been given to other races in this installment. Medusas now seem to be part of the naga race. The new naga kappa seems to have at least some similar "feel" to a troglodyte. Harpies now exist as part of the stronghold. Beastmen also seem to have been given to the stronghold or, in the alternative, to the naga.
There are also several versions of dark, female spellcaster units in the game, including ghosts, succubus and the alleged coral maidens, thus creating a redundancy for dark female spellcasters like witches. Ubisoft also seems to be moving away from uber, all-powerful 7th tier champion units, like the black dragon.
In short, I think it is unlikely we will see the return of the Dungeon in this installment. I think it more likely that we will see the return of the Sylvan faction or a new combined high elf/dark elf faction, but I doubt we will see both a high elf and a dark elf faction for the reasons stated. In my opinion, we have less than a 25% chance to see the return of the Dungeon faction, unless it is incorproated into a combined "elf" faction.
Fortress: Call me crazy, but I think we actually have a decent probability to see the dwarven fortress return. In fact, I would say that we could almost certainly see the return of the fortress in some form if it were not for two (2) things.
First, the main challenge for the reappearance of the fortress would be unit diversification within the faction. If the fortress returns, there certainly will be no overpowered tier 7 magma dragons. A race made up entirely of various dwarf units could, therefore, become old and redundant without a healthy dose of major creativity (and the addition of at least one flying unit).
Second, is that the dwarven fortress was wholly new to the Heroes franchise with Heroes V. Prior to Heroes V, the fortress had been a swampy, jungle faction with beastmen and battlemages and, really, was a pretty dumb faction. Therefore, the second main challenge to bringing back the fortress (say over another more established faction to the franchise) is that it could cause a bit of an uproar in the community. Nonetheless, I see the probability of the dwarven fortress returning at greater than 65%.
Conflux: The conflux was an entirely bad idea to begin with. Elementals are neutral creatures. Plus, the naga faction seems to have a lot of feel similar to the conflux. I would say we have a less than 1% chance to see the conflux return.
Entirely New Race: We could also see an entirely new race for the expansions, but I think this is unlikely. Adding something entirely new to an already successful and established franchise is a major feat in and of itself. If we do see the return of another new franchise in addition to the naga sactuary, I think it would be (a) a combination of the sylvan and dungeon factions to form an "elf" faction, (b) the combination of a dwarf and elf faction, or (c) an entirely new take on the wizard faction. However, the addition of an entirely new faction (other than a combined elf faction) has a probability of less than 15%.
Just my opinions.