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AoW2/SM Competitions, Tournaments & Wizard's Ladder
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Topic Subject: 2:nd place, Moat Monsters by Alex Mars - Judges comments
posted 02-01-06 12:56 PM EDT (US)   
The judges all figured out who the mapmaker was.

Magog : This map is more focused on strategy than on fancy graphics and story. Not that the story is bad, the initial story is really good, but there could be more storytelling messages during the game. The hard choice is what enemy to attack first, and how. I tried taking out the undead wizard first, but after several failed attempts I had to give up. Perhaps it should be made easier to take him out right away, as he spawns some pretty nasty units. To figure out how to attack is what makes this map fun and replayable.

Swolte : This map was the first I played and it set bar very high. I was wondering about maps that could possibly top this one, they should be REALLY good.

Visually, the map looks beautiful, but nothing astonishing or breathtaking.

The gameplay design is where the strength lies. The mapmaker has a great focus on playability and making sure that the player is in for a challenging time! Attacks come from all sides and it is extremely interesting and educative to study what the mapmaker pulls off here. Although this is a single player map, it plays very well and even multiplayer people will have fun with this map, just because it keeps you on your toes and makes you think!

Very, very well done!

- Who am I?? Chmee? What is my history?
- Some more events can help to immerse players more!
- Lots of undefended sites. This seems to be intended but I don't see why. It made the map too easy for me. The rewards (early sphinx) are also very strong!
- There were still spawns, that walked right past me, even when I took the effort of taking out the tower (to the west).

The Stranger : This map was well conceived in terms of giving the AI a chance to be competitive without drowning the player in spawns of units. Although the player starts boxed in, he is given a chance to quickly expand only to find himself pinched by invading units. I wondered initially a bit about the raider spawns and whether they were excessive to start with. But I think now that they keep the player honest. And, he/she is given access to plenty of hireable units with which to defend his lands. The map is well conceived and spaced and avoids a clutter of both map objects and story themes.

The terrain is somewhat generic in places with large bunches of forest, but in general is distinct enough. Little touches of unique/new terrain (graveyards, carts, etc) give the map a sufficiently genuine feel. But because the author is clearly an advanced and skilled map maker, I would encourage him to develop certain areas a bit more in order to create a more magical ambienceóthe Nomad temple where you can hire units, for example, pops out of no where. I think a few torches or pavement tiles could be added to make it look more like a sacred place. Of course, the question is when is too much? This may just be a difference in taste between us 

The introduction is written clearly and directly with a good story line that does not fall into the typical trite/affected language or motifs of fantasy writing. A few hints are given but no spoilers. The author takes the point of view of an entire people rather than a single leader/hero, which gives the map a refreshing contrast to many of the hero centred maps that have been produced in the past. I would say that writing skills are one of the authorís strong suits and gives this map an instant credibility to the new player. In terms of a unified, compelling story line, I think this map provides the best rationale for how and why the map is set up like it is. I always felt as if I knew what I was fighting for.

Timelord : The first thing that sprang to mind when I looked at this map in the editor was how similar it was to Return of the Lizards - similar story, similar layout, tough start position and attacks by the hordes. For a single-player hack&slash experience, this one fits the bill quite well, if a little over the top with spawns at the beginning (especially the ones for the Undead player). The map seems to be quite hastily designed w.r.t the terrain painting - again, too many hill tiles at inappropriate places plus a semblance of similarity throughout the map (a few hexes of mountains, grassland, hill tiles).
The AI as usual is very inept - ultimately due to the choke points placed on the map. No use of the predesigned area as well.

[This message has been edited by Magog (edited 02-01-2006 @ 01:05 PM).]

posted 02-02-06 01:05 AM EDT (US)     1 / 2  
Good job, Alex!

My main gripes about this map are the choke points - one for the undead and the bridge tower for the second wizard. Picking off the AI from those two points is easy....though the Undead spawns are scary, especially if you start your campaign by moving in on them (like I did!).

2009 1v1-Mapmaking Champion, Former PBEM Singles Champion, Proud contributor to the UPatch 1.4 and 1.5 effort
War of the Twins- 1 vs 1 PBEM map, Too Much Water - 1 vs 1 PBEM map, winner of 2009 1vs1 Mapmaking Challenge
My Dragon Age development blog
posted 03-17-06 01:57 PM EDT (US)     2 / 2  
When are we going to be able to download this one?
Age of Wonders 2 Heaven » Forums » AoW2/SM Competitions, Tournaments & Wizard's Ladder » 2:nd place, Moat Monsters by Alex Mars - Judges comments
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