A nice, though unbalanced three way map. This map has three distinctly different starting positions, which I will simply call the “easy” position (blue), “medium” position (red) and “hard” position (green). Through luck of my random draw (I rolled a die for my starting color), I played from the hard position. The main thing differentiating the three start positions are the number of towns available, and the types of high-level dwellings available. The hard position has no other towns nearby, but does have a level 7 outpost close to home. The medium position also has the level 7 dwelling, but also has another town nearby (not necessarily the same type). The Easy position has dwellings of levels 4, 5, and 6, as well as two other towns nearby (one dwelling aligned with each town). In my play, one of those towns matched the blue player’s starting town, giving that position a stronger start. More on the different starting positions below. The main impact of these unequal positions means that this map has some replayability beyond simply trying with different town types. It also means that it would be a good map for multiplayer between two players of uneven skill.
For the other aspects of the map, resources are abundant, though wide-spread. Treasure chests, mines, and artifacts are all guarded. Unfortunately for me, every one of these, without exception, was guarded by the harder creatures (all level 1 guards were gremlins or skeleton archers, level 3 guards were specters or cerberi, and so on). This further slowed my development. The fact that my main warlock was not offered elemental vision until level 10 didn’t help me either.
Nonetheless, the map was enjoyable, and there was very little downtime, as there was a need to protect the wide-spread area that I had claimed. The terrain is deceptively open, as there are many paths through the trees.
SOME TIPS: Keep aware of the terrain- paths may appear where you don’t expect, and so you want to keep an eye on the automatic path finding. Note the different difficulties from the starting positions. If you are a weak player, go for blue. Stronger players should choose green.
SCORE: On my first try at hard difficulty, I won on day 119 (month 4, week 1, day 7)
THE EDITOR SAYS: In addition to the available creatures and towns, the red position is also blocked off from the other players by moderate forces placed at the choke points. There is one of these separating red from the others, and a second, which I believe was meant to separate blue from green. Unfortunately, the terrain has two connections between blue and green, and there is no similar choke point in the second pass. I was very surprised to see a blue hero with pretty much all the forces you would expect from its starting position appear in week 3 near me. Of course, at that time I didn’t know blue had multiple towns already. The hero obviously did not have a force sufficient to pass a choke point, but in retrospect, it didn’t need one.
THE BOTTOM LINE: This map earns 7/10 for utilization, as the terrain plays more open than it feels, and there are large expanses of water that cannot be explored (there are no boats or shores on the map) to earn ***1/2 on description. It gets 7/10 on appearance for decent decoration, 4/10 on Story, as there is none, and not even a rumor in the tavern, and 9/10 on Flavor, earning a good score for the variation in starts, to earn ***1/2 on entertainment. Balance is a bit hard to judge here (for obvious reasons), so I will leave out this category for this map, and it gets 12/20 for placement, mainly due to the (lack of) choke points to earn *** on design, for an overall rating of ***1/2 (39 out of 60).
Errors: There are a few inaccessible sites that I came across, including a Sylanna’s Ancient just South of my start town, as well as a stable in the red starting area. The imbalance between the three positions is so great that this must have been done deliberately, and so I do not consider that a problem- particularly since you cannot play this in multiplayer.
Review Date: 0