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The Sea of Sand

Author File Description
File Details
Ruleset: AoW: SM - Unofficial Patch 1.4
Map Size: S
Levels: 2
Single Player?: No
Co-Op vs. AI?: No
PBEM/Hotseat?: Yes
Multiplayer Online?: No
# of Wizards: 2
# of players: 2
Skill Level: Any (depends on AI difficulty setting)
Password Protected: No
"The mighty city of Pristo towered high above the great Inner Sea and its archipelago. It was the home of the old emperor Mezar, who ruled many of the surrounding islands that were thriving on fishing and trade. Mezar was a harsch and incompassionate ruler, especially for those who did not abide by his strict law. His two sons, Rubian and Julius were dear to him, however, he knew very well that each valued his throne more than his life. It was for that reason that his sons lived on different islands than Pristo.

Mezar had one great passion, and that was the craft of forging powerful magical items. Some years ago he tapped into a force of magic few mortals had ever dared to manipulate - the divine. As he discovered how to imbue his artifacts with godly magic, he disregarded an old wisdom saying the power of the Gods is granted, not taken...

And so Mezar forged an item which would subject beings to his will, and even the Gods would not be able to hurt his soul as long as he kept it close to his side. He called it Mezar's Will.

Once the Gods noticed, they were angered at his ignorance and decided to punish Mezar. From the skies, a terrible rain of fire crumbled the entire city of Pristo to ashes. Mezar managed to flee to the dungeons of Pristo where his workshop was located, deep in the underground. But when he was about to reach his precious artifact, the gods instantly turned his flesh to stone.

There were certain side consequences to the catastrophy, which perhaps, were unintended by the Gods. the great powers that were released caused an earthquake that ruptured the earths crust around the city of Pristo. Its effects were so vast that the waters fell down in a chasm ending in the underground. It caused the Inner Sea to vanish and lay dry.

Now, a once prosperous people are without a ruler, and without business. The two heirs, Julius and Rubian both survived, as they lived on the islands of Nyrotep and Costa. It is now up to them to claim the throne, and restore the wrongdoing of the Gods!

The artifact, from that moment on, became known as 'Mezar's Curse'..."

The Sea of Sands was inspired by an image I found attached to one of the Groll's maps, The Wilderness. The image is attached as well.

Relevant comments: Please note that Sanctum has been disabled to prevent early saint abuse.
To offset the starting advantage of the white wizard, a few measures have been taken (e.g.,, some more defenders nearby), as well as a slightly more unfortunate placement of resource sites near starting location (e.g., shipwreck).

Note that to avoid early rushing, starting units are mostly defending ones. Both players have peacekeeper as well.

Important game influencing events (only two):
- There is basically one simple and straightforward event in this map of which the players are instructed by in-game from the start: get the item from the center will return the water to the surface of this map (two days from that event). This means that parts of the surface lands (the unelevated beach and swamp lands) will turn to water, and the map will suddenly have a strong naval emphasis!!! (Those parts of the underground with beach land as well).

- Lizards are spawned every 4 days or so, and will pester your troops unless the chieftains are taken out.

I will make further updates, for sure. And suggestions are very welcome. The map was made in a bit of a rush, and I hardly got a chance to play-test it (though, by its large symmetry, balance concerns shouldn't be too large). The events work!
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AuthorComments & Reviews   ( All | Comments Only | Reviews Only )
Timelord Another solid map-making effort though I didn't guess this was your work (I did get a hint of suspicion with the 'unfortunate placement of shipwreck' but felt that Hope's End was more your type and someone just ripped off the heroes :)

On to the comments...
2 fire spheres -> Fire Halo. I suggest changing the defenders (see below)
These resurging units can be exploited for recruitment and can be whittled down easily (except for the Queen of course - but without supporters or with Fire Halo, that won't be a problem)
I don't think the indie spawn in this map is a good idea. It forces players to back-track or build defenses, which takes away from the PvP aspect. Recruitment structures in the UG must either be set or not and the ruins must be balanced.
It just occurred to me (don't have AoW installed on this one so can't check - this is from memory) that the eastern side has a lot more UPatch1.4 structures than the western side and in general, for the same defender strength, the UPatch structures are more heavily guarded.

More islands would be great.

[Edited on 04/15/10 @ 10:38 PM]

ibobs Hi Swolte,
Do you realise the teleporters have invalid locations? Press the validate map button for the ones I mean.
ibobs Hi Swolte,
I am not going to rate (to be fair) but this map is too tough IMO. I lost on turn 10 getting eaten by crocodiles in my capital. The defenders seem too tough on resources, you have area guards that attack and depleat your troops wherever you go and then you are left with no strength to advance. I went to the centre to explore and lost my paladins to the area guards in the night. I took the shipwreck ok, but then had to retreat with my hero. I bought the ballistas and then advanced to the fungus underground with the builder. Took that fine, but then the crocodiles turned up and game over.... Just some thoughts...

[Edited on 04/29/10 @ 03:38 AM]

File Author
Thanks for those comments!

Since the map is very open on the surface (basically, both wizards can just walk to each other, with practically no boundaries), there is a tight balance to maintain between players rushing too early and the map playing too slow otherwise.

One way to prevent rushing is pushing players towards the defense and giving defensive units at the start (hence the archers and stuff). So, there should be some of that, however, it shouldn't be paralyzing...

I'll take a closer look at those, thanks! Timelord's comments as well! The teleporter coordinated were wrong, indeed! I am uploading a fixed version.

Did anyone see the event with the sea??!
ibobs Well I didnt get chance in the game as was killed (!) but just faked it by adding a large stack next to the item and taking it. Very cool. Very nnice idea. It fits really nicely with the (stolen) image you posted... ;)

Two comments -

1) do you think any one is going to be powerful enough to spare the troops to take the item when playing in tournament mode? If you have enough to take on the guard stack then you have probably already killed the enemy wizard.

2) When you convert the water around the centre city on the surface (the ruined one) then the city is left by itself and doesn't look as cool as the rest of the conversion...
File Author
1) do you think any one is going to be powerful enough to spare the troops to take the item when playing in tournament mode? If you have enough to take on the guard stack then you have probably already killed the enemy wizard.

Yes, this is the tricky part.

One thing is that the resources in the center surface are v scarce. This really makes a direct and early P-v-P unattractive across the surface for both (though not impossible!!).

For reasons:
1) It will be hard to recruit new units along the center. That 'direct path' is mostly exploration sites (NOT recruitment sites) with units that will damage your troops. These all discourage players going at each other's throat too early.

2) It is a huge risk to go direct through center, as you will not be able to take any sustainable resources along the way. If you have to return... you have wasted 4/5 days of boring travel through the desolate sands.
Not to mention leaving the backlands open for attack from indies is dangerous, as you know.

3) The underground is richer, but both players should have an equal chance to build up. Yes, they can go at each other's throat and dance around the Mezar's curse. Take it, or not... But that will be an interesting game!

Another reason why it may be OK to go for Mezar's curse is that when you DO choose to go to the center caves (can be done various ways, through teleports as well!) and manage to capture the item, than... well, you are SAFE!!

At least for a while... The game has changed and your opponent will have a lot of issues attacking your capitol through the wild seas.

Oh, and the item has dominate as well...

I am unsure about the strength of the center defenders. As per Timelords comment, I probably need to change them in composition and strength, but I need to think and play-test harder.
They can be a bit weaker, perhaps, but it should be VERY hard for players to rush there directly without delay - through underground OR surface.

2) When you convert the water around the center city on the surface (the ruined one) then the city is left by itself and doesn't look as cool as the rest of the conversion...

Yes, I'll see what I can do. As you can see in the event list, it's a real pain scripting this sea to appear correctly.

The same with more islands...

[Edited on 04/29/10 @ 11:17 PM]

Map Design4.0
Playability: 5
I made two attempts to get the artifact.
Units for first attempt: Ludovic with Twister and Night Cloak, Azure Drake, Great Bear, Wild Boar, 4 paladins (two with silver), elf scout, archon archer (gold medal), unicorn. Wizard with healing and fury. Lost the battle, only the heroe survived.
Second attempt: Ludovic and Torgal, Ice Dragon, Dwarf veteran, maceman, 1 paladin, dwarf priest, 2 unicorns, and a three or four level 1 units. IIRC, only the two heroes survived.

Balance: 5
Game was lost because I left my wizard open to an attack by the enemy, alone in a watch tower. It was the same night when I got the artifact. Vision II was not a big problem, at least in my hands. Perhaps in the hands of more experienced players it could become an issue.

Creativity: 5
Very innovative. What do you think of giving less time before the flooding?

Map Design: 4
I like the terrain on the surface giving the sensation of seabed without the water (got the translation of 'seabed' from google, don't know if it is correct).

Story/Instructions: 4
Story is very brief, which is good for tournament maps, I think. And instructions are simple and easy to undestand.

Additional Comments:
Quoted from Timelord: "These resurging units can be exploited for recruitment and can be whittled down easily (except for the Queen of course - but without supporters or with Fire Halo, that won't be a problem)"
I was able to recruit one unit in that way, a fire larva, but first I lost more than eight units during the battle, so I don't think this could be a big issue.

[Edited on 05/02/10 @ 10:28 PM]

File Author
Thanks for the feedback, Unnapu!

What days, approximately, did you manage to get the artifact?

Very innovative. What do you think of giving less time before the flooding?

Thank you! Well, its kinda tricky, as I want every player to be able to avoid getting stacks drowned.
Suppose you move your stack on the sands (movement ends), and ON that same turn, you capture the artifact. You'd get a warning, but if there would be a flood the next day, your stack would drown. So, I need at least an extra day.

Unless, I could give a warning as they approach the artifact. Than it would be their own choice to take artifact now, or wait...

I have considered just to do it immediately as well. Enemy troops could be drowned instantly. Could be an interesting tension... I decided it may be too brutal. What do people think?
Timelord Instant drowning is not cool at all :)

Fire halo still needs looking into.
Charx Will your opponent be warned if you take the item? Or will only the player get the messages that takes the item? I don't really see the advantage to flood the surface... i mean, it will make it more difficult to kill the opponent also for you if you take the item...
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