Review: Enmity Campaign

Enmity Campaign (TekkVicious, 2005) is a classic example of the “old school” style of AoS seen around 2004-2006. Hero design was just blooming into a worthwhile pursuit, and most modders were anxious to try new things. Enmity certainly went the distance, with adjustments to the usual formula on almost every front.

Feast your eyes on the icy plains of Enmity.

The terrain layout has three features of interest. Firstly, the unit production buildings for the side lanes are outside the main base: if they are destroyed, no more units spawn for that lane, and the enemy will march ruthlessly into your main base! How unforgiving…

Secondly, the middle lane produces two smaller waves of minions which run from the mid lane out along the river. They usually head to the side lanes, but every 4th wave they swing back to the mid lane. These serve both as scouting patrols, as backup to the side lanes, and help protect the mid lane against a push (there will always be more troops spawning on the defending side).

Troops flowing in along the river.

Thirdly, one of the most distinctive features of Enmity Campaign is the mounted guns. Near almost every tower are 1-3 mounted guns: mini-towers which players on the defending team can control by placing their hero on a circle near the gun. If no hero is on the circle, the gun won’t fire, and the enemy AI will ignore it. However, enemy players can attack the guns at any time, so if they’re not mounted, they’re a valuable asset left completely defenceless.

Man the guns!!

Thanks to their 1200 range and high damage, mounted guns are an effective means for melee heroes to help defend against pushes and make some money without tanking damage. Interestingly, the gun layout is the most significant asymmetry on the map: on the bottom lane some of the guns aren’t on cliffs, on the mid lane there are twice as many guns, while the top lane is ‘normal’.

Hard for enemies to approach, but also takes a while for the defender to mount.

The game makes full use of Warcraft’s various damage types and armours; some heroes are equipped with piercing attacks, or fortified armour. A 7×7 damage types table is displayed as the map loads, and while it’s a nice thought, I don’t think any AoS needs that level of arbitrary complexity.

Some heroes are also classified as Mechanical, which renders them immune to certain spells and effects. There is a special shop selling items for Mechanical units, such as motor oil to temporarily improve attack speed, or a repair kit to restore life. Mechanical heroes have exclusive access to the Rocket Launcher item, and land mines placed by mechanical heroes deal bonus damage.

Both towers and mounted guns are mechanical, so it’s possible to boost your mounted guns by buying items for them! Mechanical heroes can squeeze extra utility from those items by using them on themselves too.

Behold ‘Screw’, the mechanical giant. He’s hard to miss.

Enmity Campaign also features a few heroes which fly: useful for quickly manning guns without taking a detour, or crossing into enemy territory undetected. Fliers are vulnerable to nets though, a purchasable consumable which pins them to the ground for a short time. A special item called Combat Knife can be used to escape nets, but repeated netting combined with their low health usually leads to a kill if they’re caught.

There is a teleport item available for dirt cheap at 100 gold. It teleports the user to any friendly unit, providing it’s still alive after an 8 second channel (4 seconds on the upgraded version). Unfortunately, unmanned guns aren’t considered friendlies.

Players may buy two-packs of Sentry wards, which are invisible, don’t expire, and each player can have at most two placed at a time. The wards are crucial for defending mounted guns, which grant no vision of their own.

The game imposes a rather arbitrary restriction that heroes cannot carry more than 1 of each item. For example, it’s disallowed to hold two of the +2 armour type, but it’s fine to have a +2 armour and a +3 armour because they’re different items. A handful of items and recipes are team-specific, but this seems to be more for flavour than to create asymmetry.

If you don’t want to spend on items, it’s also possible to buy upgrades for your team’s minions, such as increased maximum life, movement speed, or damage. The upgrades are quite significant, and neglecting them is a sure way to lose. Regrettably, there isn’t any real decision making with upgrades: they all simply make minions “better” rather than specialising them or adding tactics.

The heroes are both memorable and of a good standard for its day. There is a special area in the hero selection screen for the more unique “tech/support” heroes, which include a trap hero, a hero who can produce and upgrade his own mercenary units, and a hero which can turn itself into a copy of another hero.

Spy Vi Spy and his spike bikes.

Enmity Campaign manages to introduce a very unique map objective in the form of mounted guns, made necessary by the immediacy of defeat upon losing
unit production buildings. They interact well with the rest of the game’s systems, but are probably too difficult to defend against a committed attacker. The hero variety on a macro level is at least as extreme as most commercial games are today 9 years later; an impressive feat.

The balance of the game revolves probably too much around hard counters (nets > fliers, mechanical > magic, damage type weirdness). Specialising isn’t a problem, but being unable to adapt to the enemy team due to so many immunities is a recipe for frustration in any non-casual setting.

Sadly, the map was deprecated by a Warcraft patch and is no longer conveniently playable in multiplayer.

Download: Here (the Warcraft III version switcher is available here, use version 1.23)


3 thoughts on “Review: Enmity Campaign

  1. I played EC back in the day. I distinctly remember several problems you have not mentioned, probably because they are not interesting on a design level:

    1) Hero imbalance was atrocious. I believe it was the hero that used the doomguard model had a 500-damage nuke that AOE stunned in a big region on an 8-sec cooldown (only cooldown scaled – the nuke was always as good as it started) and two more aoe stuns with less damage and a nuke that hit a line for the entire map and could wear down enemies by attrition – I never lost as that hero in more than a dozen games played.

    2) There was a purchaseable consumable item that tossed out a grenade that then exploded for ~250 damage. Combine with above hero for insant kills on >80% of the cast of heros at level 1. Made early game nuking to zero combos atrociously effective – imagine if DoTA allowed one to start with an AOE dagon 1 spell as pair of charges for 200 gold, that’s about an accurate representation of it’s power early on.

    3) The item balance was silly and tilted grossly towards powerful HP and Mana restorative items and defensive items in general – lifestone and mana stone dominated what I saw of the metagame because they were severely undercosted for what they did.

    Basically, while it had a lot of interesting ideas, IMO the poor execution of MOBA core mechanics prevented it from attaining any real or lasting popularity.

    • I’ve omitted balance from these reviews because I find it’s too subjective, and there’s little to learn from the numbers in a particular version. Design choices which determine balancability (like EC’s damage types table) are still relevant years later, so I think those are worth a mention. I won’t deny that balance had a big impact on the growth and decline of some maps, but that aspect of their history is outside the scope of my work here.

      Thank you for sharing though, as it’s not something I’ve brought up before and I’m sure some readers will find this insight valuable.

      • While I totally agree with you for avoiding the topic of balance, I *don’t* agree with subjective comment. Subjective information is probably the most valuable thing you can say as a game designer because it speaks your opinion about what slows a game’s progress. Talking *only* about what the map is (which you don’t do) would be worthless because one could just as easily download a map from a list and find out how it works for them-self.

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