The Legend of Sand is one of the most distinctive AoS concepts out there. It taps into ideas from a variety of other genres, and while the result lacks refinement, it's certainly an interesting experience. The game depicts the tale of two early settlements on an island called Sand, and how they wrestle to take control of the island by securing and exploiting its natural resources.
I recently read a book called How Life Imitates Chess by former World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov.
It describes the strategic analysis and decision-making techniques he developed while competing at the highest level of chess, and shares how the same techniques are applicable to decision-making in other areas of life.
For the first time, I've decided to review a commercial lane-pushing game: Dawngate. It presents itself with the goal of usurping the "meta" that's supposedly been a menace in other genre-games, and in practice aims to refine the wildly successful League of Legends formula.
It implements a number of decisive design choices, many of which are ambitious and well-motivated. The game also earned a positive reputation for its emphasis on lore, with elaborate character introductions and the community participating in a supplementary webcomic.
In Part 1, we looked at the history behind ToB, examined some of its map features, and started looking at the motivations for its hero design. But it's worth noting that over time, both the game and community were evolving: exploring the consequences of various mechanics, and experimenting with different design directions.
This part of the review will discuss some of the mechanics which were more closely entwined with the formation of ToB's meta.
Few maps can claim a legacy quite like Tides of Blood. As well as being a respected and well-received map in its own right, ToB is also cited as an inspiration for many of the best AoS maps ever made.
It enjoys the rare and deserved privilege of being enshrined in Blizzard's official Hall of Fame, among only five other maps.
There's a very nice and relatively recent map called Crimson Coast (CycLotRuTan, 2009) which I never had the pleasure of playing in its prime. As lane-pushing games go, it doesn't have much of an emphasis on interesting map objectives, but is instead a fairly creative exploration into different types of heroes and skill mechanics, particularly when it comes to increasing the quantity of abilities available to any individual hero.
Halloween isn't the only thing to celebrate this week; it's also the 10-year anniversary of the spookiest AoS around: Extreme Candy War (Blizzard Entertainment, 2004)!
This map was released as a seasonal treat, and distributed as part of Battle.net's update patches. It marks Blizzard's first entry into the world of multiplayer lane-pushing games, and is remarkable for following very few of the usual AoS tropes of its era.
I stumbled across an old gem called Aerie of Ruin (FuriousBroccoli, 2004) just recently, and I'm delighted that I did. It's a highly asymmetric game, but in a way that creates great dynamics and makes you think deeply about how to play the matchup.