Heroes II map: "Burnt Bridges" (Conscript Lake II)

The old Heroes games developed by New World Computing. Please specify which game you are referring to in your post.

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UndeadHalfOrc
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Postby UndeadHalfOrc » Oct 27 2008, 17:16

Very interesting battle report Kristo, thanks for sharing with us (me) :)


I still never visited the four little islands.


They are very useful individually when the game just WON'T give you that primary skill (:edit) that you want. For instance recently I played the map as barbarian and my main hero was stuck at an annoying 9/4/1/3 for much of the game until I visited the +1 spell power island.


Blue and I fought over the Lighthouse (with him winning) for most of the game but nobody bothered with the town or the gold mine.


I don't know what version you are playing (I have updated many times myself and forgot to upload it to my site and I'm at work right now), but I recall weakening the town defenses many times and allowing the castle to be built. The mine is mainly there as a small bonus for "controlling" the island along with the town.
As for recent updates, all I did was move a little bit the knight and warlock castles to make everything more symmetrical... and maybe add/remove a few rare resource piles. I don't document changes.


This map is still quite fun and would probably make an excellent free-for-all multiplayer game if the human players agree to space themselves evenly.

By space themselves, you mean not start up next to each other? In any case, in the map editor it is really quite fast and convenient to change the colors of the castles (all placed colored player castles are "default" so you can delete and replace them at will). Convenient to make the map 2v4 to make any faction allied with any faction, not necessarily knight & wizard vs the rest.


My only other comment is that I'm not sure Normal is the correct map difficulty. There isn't a whole lot of room for error here since you can never fully close off any conquered territory. OTOH, most of the stock Hard or Expert maps have some sort of unbalanced/unusual starting conditions. What do you think?



I think it's easy enough. I play on normal difficulty and played all factions myself, except warlock, and won without too much of a hassle. This is the nature of Free For All maps - AI players are opportunistic and will always prefer to go after the weakest AI opponent whenever they can - rather than you. BUT I play more slowly and conservatively than most players though and can never get a good score, I usually end up with a level 3 critter rank like royal mummy or griffin. And I never reload - what happens happens.

To make it a very nasty challenge though, if you have a roommate, try what I did with Darmani on our very first shot at this map: I changed the ally settings in the map editor to have blue and green vs the other 4 players all allied to each other. The computer players will then become extremely nasty and we almost got our butts kicked several times. Well Darmani did almost die and I saved him, but to be honest that's what happens when a slow conservative player (me) teams up with an aggressive expansionist risk taker (him) B-) . Yellow, Red & Orange rushed his weak castles, he was spreading too thin, while I had only the purple barbarian to worry about and it took me far too long to eliminate him.
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Postby UndeadHalfOrc » Oct 27 2008, 22:14

I just uploaded the latest version.

Still same location...
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Postby Kristo » Oct 27 2008, 23:57

UndeadHalfOrc wrote:
I still never visited the four little islands.

They are very useful individually when the game just WON'T give you that primary resource that you want. For instance recently I played the map as barbarian and my main hero was stuck at an annoying 9/4/1/3 for much of the game until I visited the +1 spell power island.

I can see that. I haven't tried Knight or Barbarian yet. In hindsight I probably could have benefited some from +1 Defense. When faced with an army of Bone Dragons, Vampire Lords, and a swarm of Skeletons, the AI goes for Disrupting Ray.

UndeadHalfOrc wrote:I don't know what version you are playing (I have updated many times myself and forgot to upload it to my site and I'm at work right now), but I recall weakening the town defenses many times and allowing the castle to be built. The mine is mainly there as a small bonus for "controlling" the island along with the town.

I think the reason I never visit the center town is that I'm on offense all the time. My playing style is probably closer to Darmani's than yours. The only way I'd visit the center town is if the AI had already taken it. Even with Expert Pathfinding, you're still looking at 3-4 days to land a boat, take the town and gold mine, and get back on the boat. I never had enough free time (at a point in the game where an extra town/castle and gold mine would matter) to think about going there. If we could somehow entice the AI to take it, I think the center isle becomes much more significant strategically.

Anyway, this map's definitely a keeper. Do you have any others to share?
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Postby UndeadHalfOrc » Oct 28 2008, 1:17

Kristo wrote:Anyway, this map's definitely a keeper. Do you have any others to share?


This was my first ever H2 map bigger than small size, but I'm grateful that I was that successful. I found that it was extremely hard to push myself into continuing when the time came to draw the trees, cliffs and mountains - always the most tedious part of map making for me.

Before this one, there was "Do Or Die", but since it's a small map, it's not really interesting strategically. It's modeled closely after "Manifest Destiny" from Heroes 3 in that there are no mines in the players' area but a watermills & windmills, but without the garrisons.
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Postby UndeadHalfOrc » Apr 25 2009, 20:24

I'm doing a 108 x 108 Conscript Lake map for Heroes 3. Inspired by the H2 version but by no means a direct copy.

Here's a teaser. I should be done within a few weeks. (the nearby mines will probably not be there, this was just to run tests)

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Postby Storm-giant » May 7 2009, 11:44

Looks good.
In Heroes III you have more objects, so I expect to be better than Heroes II one :)
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Postby UndeadHalfOrc » May 7 2009, 15:16

After looking again at my H2 map I modified the middle island. It's now 50% swamp/desert and there is a library of enlightment (it will also be in the H3 version)

In H2, it was called Xanadu and it only increased stats by +1 instead of +2.

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Postby Yurian Stonebow » May 14 2009, 6:34

I recall you mentioning something about the work not making any significant progress lately... Well all I can say is don't lose heart, my friend. You'll overcome the obstacles in your path and the map will be ready some day. I have firm trust in you. Just don't give up!

Good luck with the project :)



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Postby UndeadHalfOrc » Sep 19 2009, 15:20

The Heroes 3 108 x 108 version of Conscript Lake is finished.


Many thanks to Kristo for testing it.

He sent me a full after-action report in my message box, I'll cut and paste it in the next post.

Myself I played 2 full single player games with it, and started a (allied) hot seat game with a friend.

It's my first ever Heroes 3 map larger than "small", so obviously I'm a noob in comparison to Yurian and others. Unlike most mapmakers, I don't go out of my way to cram every square inch with objects ( I prefer wide open areas). What I am good at however, is perfect SYMMETRY. :) I pin that on my Warcraft 2, 3 and StarCraft mapmaking experience, and all the time spent building Lego Technic models. All multiplayer maps made by Blizzard for their RTS games are always perfectly balanced and symmetrical in every way possible, each section being a pefect mirror of the opposite side, I think I've achieved that.

Each of the four "stat boosters" on tiny islands is roughly situated furthest from the towns that can already provide such a boost (In heroes 2 version, it was furthest from the heroe(es) who could advance in the stat the easiest).

Meanwhile, The H2 version was updated with a Xanadu (library of enlightment) and some swamp area in the middle like I said. Still downloadable at the same place
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Postby UndeadHalfOrc » Sep 19 2009, 15:32

Here is Kristo's After action report.

Difficulty: Expert
Faction: Blue (Castle)
Starting Hero: Sylvia
Starting Bonus: Resources

I set things up very favorably for me for this game. I chose Sylvia for her Navigation specialty, not as a primary hero. I went with resources because even on Expert difficulty, you're still rich in gold compared to Heroes 2. I figured I'd have no trouble making money.

I hired Lord Haart on day 1 to be my primary hero. All I really wanted was a hero of the same alignment; his Estates specialty is just gravy. My build order went like this:

Town Hall
Marketplace
Mage Guild
Blacksmith
City Hall
Archery Range
Barracks

I upgraded to Marksmen on day 8 and went "creeping," as the H5 players call it. In hindsight I probably overbought on creatures. If I had it to do over again, I think I'd sacrifice a few Swordsmen to get Marksmen on day 3 and start earlier. I got the Shipyard on day 10 or 11 I think and put Sylvia to work. She made a complete lap of the lake, stealing every piece of flotsam and treasure chest, before I ever saw an enemy hero. The next few weeks had very general goals:

Week 2: Capitol
Week 3: Cavaliers and the town
Week 4: Angels

I built the Upg. Portal of Glory soon after. None of this would be possible without Sylvia's exploits on the sea. It was time to put my advantage to work. I headed south into Red's area and easily conquered both towns, only to discover that he also has at least one of the Fortresses. Red is everywhere in this game. He sent a suicidal hero up by my starting castle via the sea, killed the Vampire Lords and didn't pick up the +3 spell power artifact. Oh well, his loss. Sylvia bought creatures down to basically zero gold and swept him aside.

I hired a third hero to help tidy up Red's area. Lord Haart has turned into a nice little spellcaster with his +4 Spell Power artifact and +2 Knowledge from the Towers. I was going to turn defensive and consolidate my hold on Red's towns, but I saw Pink retake his Capitol from Red, and I figured now was a good time to press the attack. I lost most of my original Castle army taking out Red's last major hero and all of Pink, replacing it with Hydras and Mighty Gorgons. I also had a large stack of Harpies that joined me after a Month of the Harpy event.

I crossed into Teal's area (the garrisons were empty) just as he took out the Archangels guarding my teleporter. I rushed Sylvia and her massive sea movement home to take care of it. I bolstered the defenses at my home Castle and let the second town fall temporarily. That kept the Teal hero busy long enough for Sylvia (she now has by far the strongest army) to catch him. She also clobbered an Orange hero that got too close to the shore. Meanwhile, Lord Haart took over both Dungeons and added Red Dragons to his army. I quickly made them into Black Dragons and went after the two Necropolis towns. Once those were under control I teleported home to replenish my army and go after Tan.

The rest of the game was a flurry of chasing down heroes and methodically taking over towns. Sylvia did most of the conquering while Lord Haart pursued heroes by sea. That's backwards from how it should be, but it's just how things worked out. I let Sylvia press attacks forward and cleaned up behind her. I did have a few surprises when Green opened the teleporter to the Fortress area. Two full weeks of creatures and one stellar siege defense later left Green vanquished.

Tan's towns attracted attention as well. I had to defend one place twice (lost the second time) before Lord Haart swooped in and saved the day. Garbage heroes kept popping up out of the shroud, attracted to undefended towns. I was making so much money at this point, however, that I could simply hire heroes to wipe them out and return to the garrison. At endgame, I used two such heroes to track down the Pirate Leader, controlled by Purple. The final battle at the center isle (it was my first visit there) was anticlimactic. Orange had presumably lost his Devils taking the Fortress from Purple. Lord Haart had no trouble with him.

79 days, final score 353, Behemoth rating



Now, obviously there is still one hard to solve problem with the map, being the fact that unlike Heroes 2, the shipyards are all outside. To guard them, I placed upgraded level 3s in the following quantities...
18 royal griffins
18 iron golems
18 cerberi
19 grand elves
19 evil eyes
21 dragon flies
24 orc chieftains
24 wraiths

Obviously, human players will have no problem dealing with some of these (namely griffins and golems), but for the computer, it's a different story, because CPU vs CPU battles don't "play out" the same way they do when involving us: it's done by a simpler algorithm that heavily takes into a account an army's "Fight Value", which is a column found in the creature data file. I'm twinked at those values myself in my patch many times. The deal is: if I increase the griffin quantity, CPU blue will fare even poorer than he already does.

But as Kristo pointed out, it's your upgraded level 3 versus your own low level troops, and in practice it plays out differently for humans than for CPU. He suggested removing them altogether, so I did that and tried out a full game, but I was still on the lake for almost two weeks before I saw any enemy ships.

I'm out of ideas regarding this. Suggestions?

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Postby Kristo » Sep 21 2009, 12:18

UndeadHalfOrc wrote:But as Kristo pointed out, it's your upgraded level 3 versus your own low level troops, and in practice it plays out differently for humans than for CPU. He suggested removing them altogether, so I did that and tried out a full game, but I was still on the lake for almost two weeks before I saw any enemy ships.

I think, then, you have to balance for humans. The AI is going to do whatever it does. In that case, there should be some tradeoff for going on the sea. You'll notice from my AAR that I didn't buy any creatures until day 8. If I wanted the shipyard sooner, I would have had to give up building the Barracks in the first week and delay building City Hall by at least one day. I probably would've lost a lot more Pikemen in the fight as well.

The easiest thing to do is leave it as is. Let a bunch of people play the map and adjust according to the whining/constructive criticism you receive. :-D
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Postby UndeadHalfOrc » Sep 21 2009, 16:50

Ok, that's what I'll do then. :)

BTW, I'm playing Rampart in my current hot seat game (he's playing Tower), and those elves were only easy because I had tactics + early pegasus, otherwise I think I would have suffered many more losses.

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Postby UndeadHalfOrc » Jul 7 2011, 2:44

Latest versions (not much has changed in the last year)
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Postby UndeadHalfOrc » Apr 19 2015, 18:30

Hi everyone! Long time no see.

Here is an upgraded version of Conscript Lake (Heroes 2 version).

Burnt Bridges.



I tried it for the first time yesterday, standard free for all with 5 computers, with me playing the Wizard faction. It makes for quite a longer game than Conscript Lake.

Summon Boat is essential, more so than Navigation this time around. Thankfully with the large amount of towns, chances are you'll get it.


My next project: Burnt Bridges, for Heroes 3 :)
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