In a review I've just read of HoMMIV there is a description of a new town upgrade that I find a little disturbing, called the caravan. With it, units are able to travel between towns without having to traverse the global map. It's not precisely clear how it works, but from what I gather, movement occurs ‘behind the scenes,' with the number of turns til arrival calculated by distance and at a flat rate per turn. Unless I've totally misunderstood, it is not possible for enemy units to intervene at any point. The reviewer lauds the feature, saying ‘it puts an end to the tedium of moving units all over the map'. Or some such.
I wouldn't bring it up here, except that in reflection it seems like AoWII's oft-touted teleportal upgrade has been designed to fulfil a similar purpose. The devs must have felt that something needed to be done to avoid the slowdowns that might affect the game when there are lots of units moving around each turn, as can happen with super huge scenarios for the original AoW.
Although reducing slowdowns may be desirable, I find myself wondering if the solution is actually more harmful than good. Teleportals in the original AoW are a necessary evil IMO, useful occasionally, mainly as a way to help the ai expand. Having them buildable is another bowl of fish.
If by constructing whole networks of teleportals, players can avoid the dangers of overland travel between their wizards towers, perhaps some of the strategic depth will disappear from the game. If entire areas of the map can be skipped over or avoided at will, then perhaps almost anything mapmakers put into their designs to ensure that they are challenging (and entertaining) will be of less consequence. To me, that spells less fun.
Does anyone else share my fears? Steep research and mana requirements could offset the worst abuse, I suppose. On the whole, I find the concept of building teleportals a bit repellent. Turn slowdowns would be far preferable.
Thoughts on this?