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Strifeshadow Beta Report from the trenches.
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Author:YourRoleModel
IP:63.162.5XXXX
Date: 03/19/01 06:03
Game Type: Strifeshadow
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Lifetime Rating for YourRoleModel: 9.3626

Hook me up with the beta!

Well, it's me again. I've been working towards this battlereport for the last 15 months when I said to myself, "Making all the graphics for a game can't be that hard right?" *kicks self in ass repeatedly*

Here's a little introduction to Strifeshadow for those of you who don't know too much about the game. The humans are dead and back for revenge as, The Accursed; the Dark Elves are the bastards that killed the humans, and the Sylvans are the elves that took their ball and went home when they realized what bastards the Dark Elves were. Got it?

If you want to know more, our own, .Praetor has written a 90+ page story on the Ethermoon site that rocks the house.

Ok, so we have three races, 12 totally unique units per race, lots of cool structures... this part should sound familiar. I'll cover some of the unfamiliar stuff, right here, in this very report! Yeah, yeah, I'll get to the report. Shut your pie hole.

You want to buy Strifeshadow.

This one vs one matchup took place between Smythe - as Sylvan and (me) YRM - as Dark Elves. The map is called, "The Blighting", because it shows signs of Accursed rot in the center, and there are two starting points which are indicated on the above graphic. In Strifeshadow, we've eliminated "peon" pumping. Instead, a player sets up aether towers by pools on the ground that feed Aether back to his Town Hall. These networks must be expanded throughout the game. There are two other resources mined from small mines that can be devoted to processing Ikon, Arikon, or both, and these resources provide the tech units.

So Smythe sent one of his worker units, a faerie, to scout and to plant a small trap near one of the ramps to my base that would provide him with vision and an early warning if I should try to rush. Unfortunately for Smythe, I spotted his worker planting the trap, and I sent my worker Kobold (all workers can detect and build traps) to destroy it.

Smythe and I aren't usually the most aggressive players, so I assumed I'd have time for a risky five tower opening. As the Aether started pouring in, I built two workshops and began to upgrade each, as soon as I could afford the upgrade.

Note: Any production building can be upgraded to produce 2, or even 3 units at one time, for less cost than buying a similar number of buildings... losing an upgraded building is a greater risk though.

Well I'd underestimated my opponent, Smythe brought 3 Sylvan Rangers in, most likely with harrassment intentions, and caught me with my pants down.

I had access to the 3D Models cuz I knew the artist (me stupid)!

There were a few things I had going for me while the Rangers were wiping out my tower network.
1- The Rangers had taken damage from a Sprung-Spike Trap on my ramp.
2- My workshops (combined) could pump out 3 units at a time, and would soon hit four or five as more production upgrades kicked in.
3- My first two Gremlin Carvers (seen in the picture) had just popped out.

Note: The standard melee unit of each race, the Carver, Ranger, and Slasher, can research the ability to "engage" it's enemies. Engage slows the enemy unit's movement quite a bit for a short time, thus preventing them from fleeing or sneaking past to scout. Smythe had researched engage, and I had not.

We each tried to circle our attackers around so that we could take advantage of the side and rear damage bonuses that Strifeshadow calculates, but Smythe was more successful because he could engage my units. Eventually though, my backup Carvers were built and I forced Smythe to flee back over the Sprung Spike trap, which now had 3 charges left in it.

While this was going on, I added a Moag Pens to produce Moags.

Note: Moags are fast Strike Troops. Carvers are Melee Troops. Carvers can mount Moags to form a ranged unit called a Moag Raider (they can later dismount). This is a very useful troop combination, and I planned to add some Darkelven Marksmen to the mix.

Two Moag Raiders scouted the map for me while I expanded my tower network to the north and set up a mine in the south to process both Arikon and Ikon that would supplement the mine I could protect on my plateau. One worker can mine efficiently at a pretty long distance, but if he's killed, he'll drop his sack of resources that can be picked up by the enemy workers. I (YourRoleModel) took the risk.

Well, well... my esteemed opponent had not expanded beyond his plateau yet! This most likely meant he was building up a force of Wyverns. Wyverns are the Sylvan air skirmishers and quite a nasty hit-and-run unit. Later, they can get an ability to teleport away from danger to a previously set "anchor", but they can only do it once before waiting for spellpoint buildup again. A combination of Rangers and Wyverns would do well against just Marksmen, so I kept producing Carvers and Marksmen, while adding static defense Gremlin Turrets at various places around my perimeter.

A look at the Game Replay confirmed the presence of a Treetop Sanctuary in the Sylvan base. Here's a look.

Rendering Sylvan buildings took some time on my crappy home computer.

Smythe and I skirmished several times in the middle of the map. My Carvers, Marksmen, and Raiders would drive away his Wyverns and Rangers, only to be pushed back to my expanding Turret and Tower network.

Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man buy Strifeshadow.

I added another Gremlin Workshop towards the middle of the map and a Dark Elven Conclave at home to add spellcaster and air support.

Guests and fishes stink after three days, but Strifeshadow never does.

We both began to expand to the bottom central expansion, but Smythe claimed the resource rich and defendable plateau. Still, I was ahead on resources and was looking for a way to tip the scales rapidly towards a victory (for me!).

Note: The Sylvan defensive structure is called a Weatherstone. The Weatherstone can call down blue lightning on any building or unit that comes within a certain range. These defensive towers can be a pain to take out, but there are several safe ways... I would decide to use a ritual spell called Cataclysm, but I'll get to that later.

Since we can pause the replay, making a huge mosaic from 14 screenshots wasn't very hard. Take a look at the expansions I'm talking about below:

It wasn't THAT easy, if you count the time it took me to make all the graphics IN the shot... =P

Smythe had a Weatherstone on the plateau that could reach one of my Aether Towers with it's lightning, and I lost that tower. I managed to retaliate by weakening some of his Wyverns with the Warlock spell, Shrapmetal. Shrapmetal though, won't wipe out an airforce the way some "other" spell does.

Note: Three Warlocks together, with the spell researched at the Arcane Catacombs, can cast the ritual spell Cataclysm. This spell won't destroy most buildings, but it sure can soften up a large area of buildings and troops.

I rained fire down on the Sylvan expansion and moved in for the kill with a large group of Marksmen and a smaller group of Chaos Elementals. The battle was heated as I attacked the weakened Wyverns and Weatherstones in the south, and, at the same time, I attacked the Sylvan main with Grenediers, Carvers, and more Chaos Elementals. The Carvers and Rangers died rapidly, leaving my Grenediers and Chaos Elementals to kill the Sylvan Scouts (archers) with their incendiary splash damage. I had the right combination of units at both places, and quickly turned both battles in my favor. In this shot, you can see the burning remains of a decaying Grenedier.

Smythe is a good friend of mine at my full-time, paying job, and he has a fighting spirit and was determined to go down swinging. Even when all was lost, Smythe used some recently created Nymphs to cast the spell "Balance" on my seige engines.

Note: Balance is a great spell that makes units take damage when they deal damage. In the middle of a battle, it's hard to turn away and retreat the instant Balance is cast, and it can provide a critical few seconds of battle-turning damage. In this case though, it was simply a measure of defiance and resolve not to lose quietly.

I moved in for the kill on both of the Town Centers... ending any chance for a comeback.

When your buildings are smoking this badly, that's bad.

Smythe congratulated me on a game well played and surrendered in time for us to get back to work on prototypes which were due out by the end of the day!

It wouldn't be a YRM report without a patented mini-map battle would it?

Lessons Learned:

1- You didn't think I was going to report on a game I lost after doing 8,000+ graphics in the last 15 months did you?

2- Strifeshadow is a pretty complex game, I hope that any of you who haven't looked at the Ethermoon site were able to understand the feel and flow of the game.

3- Yes, we plan on adding a large wave of people to the beta after the team gets back from the Independant Gaming Festival. I've done my best for the guys at BR.com who signed up, and we should see that number increase further in the next, larger, wave.

4- When you make a game, you usually have an advantage in knowing what units do over your opponent. I have to give Ed (Smythe) props for all the practice he did and for being such a great sport. Thanks Ed.

5- I really missed reporting. "Thank you" to those of you who have supported and are continuing to support our efforts to make this game rock. Later guys!

P.S.: I should also note that some of the tileset 'tiles' and all the 'cliffs' were done by Joel Stuedler, along with the illustrations in .Praetor's story. He was a big help and I don't want to take credit for something I didn't do.


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