Yes, this will take a little while to load... but I was considerate for those of you with modems and kept the images to JPGs and a single GIF. See? I'm such a friggin nice guy! Yeah baby!
The game begins on LavaCrossing. The map has a series of choke points, but the thin rivers of Lava between the areas of the map allow for any number of attack options over the small divides, including: siege, drops, teleporting, archer fire, spells, spider jumping and air units. Johnny is the aqua-colored Dark Elves at the right start point, and I am the orange-colored Sylvans at the left start point.
Both of us begin with somewhat middle of the road starts that arenít quite rush or power, but can survive against either. John put up two aether towers and a Gremlin Workshop, then another tower, but didnít rush, and I put up 3 towers, and a Sylvan Defense Center, and my forth tower. Neither of us attacked right away as we both laid several traps at our chokes.
NOTE: Each race has a standard damage trap. Johnís was the Sprung Spike Trap and mine was the Sylvan Gas Blossom. These pressure plate traps can fire several times and can only be destroyed by workers or siege units, and only workers can see the traps until they are set off for the first time.
John was the first to attack with a worker unit and a Gremlin Carver. This attack was more of a scouting attack to see how far Iíd expanded. First, John disarmed a gas blossom Iíd set at the central bridge that is halfway between the starts, then, he rushed in and proceeded to fight my Ranger with his Carver. John quickly set a spike trap with his Kobold and lured my Ranger over the trap, but just once. Rangers are the best, and most expensive, melee unit, and I was still able to kill his Carver and Kobold while my Faerie disarmed the spike trap.
Johnny_Vegas immediately follows this attack with two more Carvers, and they kill my wounded Ranger (who gained level 2 before he died, but leveling in Strifeshadow happens fast and is not meant to make super units, units now get experience from dealing damage, so a player who keeps his units alive can benefit from the Ďpromotioní). Fortunately, I had continued to upgrade the production capacity of my Defense Center and quickly had three Rangers who killed his two Carvers with no losses. One of the Rangers had moved behind the Carvers and took advantage of the rear damage bonus to ensure a quick and clean victory.
Since Iíd seen quite a few Carvers come my way, I began mining Ikon primarily to add Oak Spiders to my army.
NOTE: Oak Spiders have a very short ranged attack that can only reach ground units, but it does splash and a great deal of damage to melee and strike units. Additionally, the splash doesnít hit friendly troops. Oak Spiders can also jump up or down cliffs. The main weakness of the spiders is that they are slow and do not outrange any other ranged unit, so they die quickly while closing the distance on Archer. They also suffer when facing Warlocks and Shrapmetal, which is what John was teching to at this time.
Johnny reached his tech choice before I reached mine and made his move on my handful of Rangers, traps, and two static defense Weatherstones that Iíd placed at my choke. Shrapmetal whirled and cut itís way into my Rangers, but it also was hitting Johnnyís Carvers as well, and I managed to fend off the attack very cost effectively, but, due to my emerging Spiders being somewhat useless vs Shrapmetal, I couldnít pursue my advantage much at this point in the game.
Johnny was still pumping his cheaper Carvers along with spellcasters and a few Marksmen. When I made my attempted counter-attack, I nearly killed his only Cabalist at that point, but didnít realize how close the Cabalist was to death when he forced me to retreat. Had I realized his Cabalist was down to below 30 hitpoints, I would have sacrificed my rangers to delay the drop that was coming. Hereís a shot of the defenses on either side of the central bridge just after retreating my remaining living rangers. John had a troop count advantage again, but would have been slaughtered coming through the middle at this time.
NOTE: Cabalists don't have an attack, but they can summon units. Chaos Elementals, Chaos Manowar (which serve as transports, and can cast spells when empty, but loading drains their magic), and Chaos Djinns are all summoned by Cabalists. Cabalists can also cast a spell called "Chaos Healing" which can heal any of these units.
Johnny Vegas had summoned a Chaos Manowar with his nearly dead Cabalist, and used it to place a critical drop on my less defended aether towers around my main. Other towers I was using passed through these towers, so cutting me off here was a very good strategy.
I quickly send five Rangers and a Treant to save the day. John takes out two towers, but loses his entire drop force and costs me no troops. It might be an even trade in resources though, while I rebuild my Aether network.
NOTE: Treants are Strike troops that are very fast and have good hitpoints. They can 'plant' themselves to heal very rapidly, and their specialty is tearing into archers from behind, killing them in just a few hits.
John's Chaos Manowar escaped though, and another had been summoned to transport the rest of his troops across the lava to attack the same spot in a move that could win him the game...
...but my five rangers and treant put a dent in the attack, even though it takes out more towers, and I rush in to finish off the rest of his drop with two of my four recently made Unicorns.
NOTE: Unicorns can teleport short distances, shoot air and ground, are really fast... but more importantly, they own melee troops like Carvers. Of course, Unicorns are expensive, and suffer to static defense and archers.
John's done a good job keeping me on the defensive to this point, but I manage to turn that around a little by sending two unicorns to harass some critical towers at his base. I don't expect to win the game with this tactic, but if he hasn't left any defenses at home, I might score some points or at least buy some time. My Unicorns end up damaging one tower by 40% and another by less... one of the unicorns was able to teleport over the lava river to escape.
NOTE: Damaged towers do not send at full efficiency, so my damaging a tower close to John's base would cause him to drop a percentage of any aether that goes through that tower.
John's second drop slowed down my intake again, but eventually was wiped out by my defenders. My offensive unicorns had been repelled, so Johnny decided to send a large group of carvers through the middle, where he assumed I'd moved my defenders from.
Oak Spiders are slow though, so I still had two of them sitting around, waiting for just such an occasion. The invading Gremlin Carvers ran into two Gas Blossom traps, two Weatherstone Defense Structures, two Oak Spiders, and the Unicorn that made it back from the offensive. John did manage to take out both spiders and a Weathertone before dying, partly because he'd brought in some manowar and called down Immolation spells on a ranger and a spider.
Too late, John cast a Chaos Pocket which froze a Ranger and his last living Carver from the assault, then the Manowar fled toward safety. Fortunately, a few parting shots from my Unicorn made one of the Manowar pay the ultimate price.
I had also been teching to Wyverns during this battle, so, I sent my unicorns across the lava to take out a critical tower, I sent my Wyverns over the center to take out a critical tower, and I bull rushed through the middle with some Rangers and a Treant. John was losing structures steadily at this point, and my Unicorn cut off a critical tower that totally stopped JV's income. The replay showed that John had 400 aether in the bank at this point, and it costs 250 to build a tower.
Unfortunately, my bull rush through the middle was largely destroying towers that were already cut off, and while it reached John's doorstep, it would have served me better to stay at home as he dropped his last troops again, in the same spot he'd been keeping soft for most of the 36 minute contest.
John had some Spike Traps and a Warlock defending his home plateau that finished off my bullrush. Meanwhile, he'd dropped some more Carvers and a Dame in my base with Chaos Elemental support. The Dame cast Rage (red triangles circling the units) on the Carvers to increase their rate of attack and damage. Had I left a few Rangers to defend, I would have stopped the carvers from killing my Weatherstone defense, but I didn't and John cut off my resource intake and was able to keep it cut off.
With his 400 aether and his base made safe again, John built one last aether tower to get his intake going again...
I was out of money and down to a few units, which I sacrificed valiently trying to change the outcome, but with my resources cut off, I couldn't swing the momentum another time. Good games were exchanged, and John took a victory.
As always, here's a minimap battle... these are really easy to take in the Strifeshadow replays because you can jump forward and take a shot every 1000 game ticks.
As a special treat, I asked John to provide some thoughts on the game from his perspective!