Required game version: Shadow of Death 3.1
Map maker: Jolly Joker with lots of input, help and advice from Ungoliant
Playtesters: Ungoliant, Rex Mundi
Map scale: Small 1-level
# of players: 1 human, 7 computer
Difficulty level: This map may be played on any difficulty level. Note, that it really makes a difference what level you play on! Money should be picked as a bonus (artifact will give you the Spyglass which you don't need, while resources are a secondary problem).
Victory condition: Defeat all opponents!
Loss condition: None
Read before playing
This series of 8 maps was inspired by Gwhenwyfars Battlemaps, an idea I wholeheartedly embrace, even though there are some things in those I don't like very much. Considering that there are 81 Battlemaps all in all it is nevertheless an incredible thing Gwhen did there.
These maps are not intended to rival or compete with the Battlemaps. While the basic idea is quite the same the way these maps work is quite different. First of all these maps are real maps in that sense that you can pick a difficulty level (that will make a difference in how the map plays), will have to play some time and will get a real score depending on the chosen difficulty level and the days needed to finish. Winning these maps is one thing, winning them with the best score and/OR with the best time is something else entirely.
However, these maps are not "full" maps either. There will be no exploration (you will see the whole map immediately), no wandering monster fights and no difficult experience gaining. You won't build anything (at least not on impossible difficulty) and there is no storyline like many of the single-player adventure-style maps have them. There is an element of randomness (mage guilds and hero development), but since I made sure that there are no completely useless elements the randomness in the luck-bad luck department is limited.
I won't get into detail here, but if you play a tough Battlemap series, for instance against the Tower or Dungeon you will be tempted to restart until you get a useful artifact and then hope that after the first fight your hero will get the "right" secondary skills. Even though some people may have a different opinion, I feel that with these maps restarting doesn't make much sense. Since useless secondaries (see below) have been taken out all heroes will develop quite okay so it is a waste of time to restart because your magic hero got Eagle Eye or Mysticism as a choice. Since Logistics and Pathfinding are both useful here you can't get the perfect hero anyway; there are simply too many "good" secondaries. Another reason to restart would be a seemingly unsatisfying mage guild in your town. However, since the all-important 4th lvl isn't built at the start there is no reason to restart either.
another thing: Ignore the warning that the map isn't playable. That's simply
GENERAL MAP INFO (Refer to TOWN INFO for special map info)
These maps are reminiscent of a middle ages tournament. You will ride to the tent of one opponent town (thereby challenging him or her) and then battle that town. A battle consists of two fights, one on open ground (and neutral terrain) and one town siege (on the terrain of that town). You determine when you challenge another town and you determine the order in which you challenge them.
The concept here is, as you will see, that all things which will make your hero including their force better will cost you in effect TIME (and time is money here and vice versa). You start with 2 heroes, one might, one magic, which are "typical" for that town. The might hero will have the 6th level creature as a special. The magic hero will have a special in one skill or spell. In some cases starting secondary skills have been edited to reflect the skills that have the highest probability for that hero class (see Town Info). If you don't like your starting heroes, there's a Tavern on the northern map fringe. This Tavern will give you a chance to recruit heroes belonging to your starting town only, but this will cost time and money. Since the ground is Sand overall no hero will have an advantage in open ground battles. Pathfinding and Logistics, albeit useless in battle, will make your heroes faster and that has its uses.
You have a chance to train your hero(es) prior to battle. There is a patch of Magic Plains in the immediate south of your starting town with the Lookout Tower as the center point. The 4 corner squares of that patch (the paches northeast, northwest, southeast and southwest of the Lookout Tower) hold events that will give experience. The squares north of the Tower give 5000 experience each; the squares south of the Tower give 15000 experience each. It is up to the player how to distribute this experience on the heroes. A Library is there for hero enlightenment. There are other sites giving you a chance to gain primary skill points, but all those will cost money. Three magic wells are placed in the north, southwest and southeast of your starting town for spell point refills.
All PLAYER towns come with a mage guild pre-built up to and including level 3 and all (with some exceptions) special buildings possible. Levels 4 and 5, if existent, are buildable. If the players don't build the mage guild further up themselves (on lower difficulty levels) an Event will build level 4 on Day 16 and Level 5 on Day 23 (see Tower for special info). Every player town's Mage Guild will have a fixed 1st lvl spell typical for that town that must appear (see Town Info). Furthermore your starting might hero is equipped with a spell book (if you hire one in the Tavern, this won't be the case with the known exceptions). Your starting army waits there, too, so it may pay to visit your town.
In battle you will always face a very good might hero of that town in the open and a very good magic hero in the opponent's town. The opposing heroes will start with 40000 experience (so their secondary skills will develop randomly) and +1 on all 4 primary skills plus every bonus their town would give (for instance +1 attack for Stronghold). Their force will be a week's production weaker than yours, the garrison hero will initially be 2 week's productions weaker but will grow every week. While the garrison hero will have only those spells that their mage guild gives them (plus maybe the spell he or she has a special in) plus Resurrect the might heroes will be pre-equipped with the spells a VERY good mage guild of their town might have given them, so expect the worst possible for that town (e.g., the Ranger won't have Armageddon, but Prayer is a distinct possibility, while the Overlord won't have Prayer, but will have Armageddon).
All forces have been adjusted so that they mirror the different building priorities of higher difficulty levels. For Necromancer forces expect more Skeletons than would be recruitable.
All artifacts have been edited out.
After the open field battle there will be the garrison battle. These battles are always taking place on the town's home turf. The garrisoned opponent's towns have no creature dwellings at the start (but will get them later on) but most special buildings including a fully built mage guild. The force of the garrison hero will grow continually, slowly first, but dramatically later on. The first growth will occur on Day 4 Week 1. From then on the force will grow twice a week, on the first day and on the 4th day. On Day 4 Week 8 the maximum growth rate will be reached which is full 4 weeks' production every week!
After conquering a garrisoned town you get access to the area behind it with certain benefits waiting there, first and foremost another town of the player's alignment. This town is ungarrisoned and without any building. It will give 1000 gold a day and build all upgraded creature dwellings, but without Citadel or Castle or horde buildings, on day 7 of the week you take them (note, that creatures will not be available before day 1 of the next week).
The Witchhut in these areas will give either Pathfinding or Logistics (randomly). This is mainly a thing for your secondary heroes, but your main hero will learn there, too, if he has still a free slot. The Learning Stone which will give 1000 experience is a thing for secondary heroes, too. Your main hero won't profit notably, but the secondary heroes will. You may flag a mine. In case you need resources later on there is aTrading Post on the map.
While the creature dwellings in your towns will be upgraded and therefore hirable that way there are hillforts all over the map. It is cheaper to buy unupgraded creatures and grade them up at a hillfort (at least with the lower level creatures) so with a bit of legwork there is money to be saved.
Heroes that don't BEGIN with the following skills are unable to get them: Navigation, Necromancy, Diplomacy, Scholar, Learning and Scouting because those skills would be useless.
Not all spells are available. Of course Dimension Door and Fly are out. Town Portal is out, too. Sorry, legs only. As I said, Pathfinding and Logistics have their uses. Most opponent heroes (all magic ones plus the odd might hero) are pre-equpped with either Resurrect or Animate Dead (both Necromancer and Death Knight). Resurrect won't be available in any Mage Guild but the players may buy it at the Seer's Hut southeast of their starting town for 20000 gold. On the Necropolis map this spell will of course be Animate Dead and will cost 15000 gold. Armageddon is out, too. No cheap victories allowed. However, the Dungeon Overlord is pre-equipped with that spell. If he uses it, an Eagle Eye hero might learn it. On the Dungeon map there is no chance to get that spell. On some maps the Necropolis' Guild has been edited (refer to the Town Info). Furthermore all in the context of this map useless spells have been taken out like Water Walk, Disguise, Visions, the View spells, Summon and Scuttle Boat, Protection from Water (halving the possible damage of Ice Bolts or Frost Rings is useless) and my personal favorite for worst spell, Slayer. However, spells like Misfortune, Mirth or Sorrow have been left in.
spells of the two heroes that are available to the players at the start have
been edited so that every hero begins with Magic Arrow with the exception of
both Rampart and both Tower heroes who begin with Fortune and both Necropolis
heroes who begin with Death Ripple.
Might starting hero: Tyris: Leadership and Ballistics
Magic starting hero: Rion: Wisdom and First Aid, special in First Aid; comes equipped with FA tent
Fixed 1st lvl spell: Bless
The Necropolis' Mage Guild can't get Clone.
Might starting hero: Synca: Leadership and Tactics
Magic starting hero: Malekith: Wisdom and Sorcery, special in Sorcery
Fixed 1st lvl spell: Stone Skin
TheNecropolis' Mage Guild can't get Sacrifice.
Might starting hero: Broghild: Armorer and Pathfinding
Magic starting hero: Tiva: Wisdom and Eagle Eye, special in Eagle Eye
Fixed 1st lvl spell: Cure
Comment: Contrary to what is thought the Eagle Eye skill in combination with the special is NOT wasted. Note, that the might heroes are equipped with spells that may not appear in any mage guild (or in the last you take) so learning by seeing may produce the odd winner.
Might starting hero: Rashka: Logistics and Armorer
Magic starting hero: Axsis: Wisdom and Mysticism, special in Mysticism
Fixed 1st lvl spell: Curse
The Necropolis' Mage Guild can't get Sacrifice.
Might starting hero: Tamika: Necromancy and Offense
Magic starting hero: Septienna: Wisdom and Necromancy, special in the Death Ripple spell
Fixed 1st lvl spell: Slow
Special: The spell scrolls contain the Animate Dead spell. No guild will produce that spell.
Might starting hero: Clancy: Resistance and Archery
Magic starting hero: Melodia: Wisdom and Luck, special in the Fortune spell
Fixed 1st lvl spell: Bless
The Necropolis' Mage Guild can't get Sacrifice.
Might starting hero: Yog: Offense and Ballistics
Magic starting hero: Dessa: Wisdom and Logistics, special in Logistics
Fixed 1st lvl spell: Haste
Might starting hero: Fafner: Armorer and Offense
Magic starting hero: Daremyth: Wisdom and Intelligence, special in the Fortune spell
Fixed 1st lvl spell: Haste
Special: The Library will be built by Event on Day 27 should the player not have built it until then.