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Age of Mythology Heaven » Forums » Scenario Design » Playing Heroines - A game play analysis.
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Topic Subject:Playing Heroines - A game play analysis.
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Arch and Shrink
Mortal
posted 29 December 2005 04:09 PM EDT (US)         
PLAYING HEROINES
An analysis of game play in Heroines, by the scenario's creators Shrink and Archaeopterix

Preface
Of course we want this project to get as much attention as possible, but that is not the main aim of this writing. A negatively interpretable aspect of Heroines is that it plays like a whole new game, outside of Age of Mythology, instead of just a scenario. This means that, as with any new game, you have to play it quite often to find out what good and bad strategies are, and to start to really enjoy the game. We played it a hundred times and even we are unsure about what the perfect strategy is - probably there is none. So far each game of Heroines we played has been totally different from the others. The goal of this article is to provide you more insight in the game, without requiring you to play it as often as us, so that you will like it as much as we do.

It would be great if you could add "The_Shrink" and "Archaeopterix" to your ESO buddies list and just contact one of us some time if you want to play Heroines! You can also post your ESO nick here and we might add you to our lists. Saves you some work, probably.

Depending on the reactions you give to this thread, we might host a small Heroines tournament in the future - maybe a ladder competition of some sort. If you like the sound of it, then especially you should read this article. And even if you don't, it's probably still a very good read which might change your opinion about this tournament. Enjoy!

Introduction
This article covers game play in the scenario Heroines in most of its facets. In the first chapter we will introduce you to the scenario itself, briefly explaining the goal and the different features of the game, such as the spells and the hero items. This chapter can be seen as a text version of the tutorial cinematic in Heroines.

We will continue in chapter two by analysing the features in detail. We'll go through the military units you can control, explain the recruiting system, describe the spells, the hero items, and other features like the transport ships, sentry towers and the fortress. We will address issues like what you should use each unit for, how spells can be cast effectively and how you can use hero items to your advantage.

After that, in chapter three we will explain global strategies that increase your chance of winning. We will introduce you to the three phases of game play found in each Heroines game, highlighting some good initial moves, then explaining how to prepare ambushes, followed by a paragraph about the end game.

Next, we will describe our personal preferred strategies in chapter four. We will close this article by showing some tactics, tricks, and little secrets of ours that will surely aid you in battle.

Chapter 1 - Game Play
A game of Heroines has many aspects. There are many places to go, units to recruit, spells to cast, items to use and many other things. We will briefly introduce you to the main aspects of the game. You should see this as the text version of the tutorial cinematic included in the scenario.

Each player has a heroine (Circe) and some soldiers to start with. The goal of the game is to defeat all other players. You can defeat a player by killing his heroine, or you can win the entire game if you occupy all three towns (key points) for a period of three and a half minutes.

You control a key point if your heroine is near the flag and if no other heroine is near. The key point will then stay yours, even if your heroine goes somewhere else, until another player takes it by moving his heroine near. There are three key points that count for victory: the three towns of Emervale (to the Northeast), Sophia (to the southeast) and Bruane (to the west). Next to these there is the fortress, which can be occupied in a similar way, but this doesn't count for game victory.

The game is basically fixed force: you start with a number of soldiers and that's it. To be precise, you start with of course the heroine herself, eleven militia, five hoplites, three archers, two siege operators and a big catapult. Your siege operators do not have any attack themselves, but if you move them to a siege weapon they can - yes - operate it, converting the siege weapon to your side.

Although it is called "fixed force", there are ways to get additional units. One way is to bring your heroine to a Mother Nature unit to try to recruit it. Some recruitable units are already present on the map; others spawn when you come near their home or when you control their hometown.

A different aspect of Heroines is the hero items (relics). There are several types of hero items, but your heroine can only carry one at the time. You use an item by dropping it (for example, your hero is healed when you drop the "heal hero" item). Some items are explosives and damage all units in area. Others affect only the hero.

Another aspect is the spells. The first is Warcry (ragnarok), which gives all your initial units including your heroine a nice boost. The Sentinel spell (lure) lets you deploy a single stone archer, a sentinel, anywhere you wish, which also attracts animals to the area. Next, there is Shockwave, which not only throws enemy units into the air, but also damages them a lot. Finally, the Snakes spell (ancestors) summons snakes from the jungle to aid you in battle. All spells are reusable, and their recharge time varies.

A final aspect you should know is your Heroine's ability to use outposts (which grant you a great line of sight), transport ships and rocs. You use all these by going nearby with your heroine. The object (outpost, ship, roc) then converts to you and you can garrison. An outpost and the roc can only contain the heroine, whereas a transport ship can contain nine more units.

Chapter 2 - Features
Following is a paragraph for each of Heroines' features described briefly in chapter 1. Each paragraph contains valuable strategy tips to use the features to your advantage. First, you might want to take a look at the full map.
Full map screenshot of the Heroines jungle.

The Goal
As mentioned in chapter one, the goal is to defeat all other players, primarily by killing their heroines (resigned players still count as active opponents as long as they still have their heroine). The secondary way to win is to capture and hold all three key points, the three towns discussed below, for three and a half minutes. The latter is specifically useful when your opponent is hiding in the fortress, but this is explained in further detail below, in the "fortress" paragraph. It has not much use in other occasions, besides putting a little bit of pressure on your opponents.
When we said you had to "defeat all other players", we really meant all, including your teammate! This works as follows: when there are only two heroines left in the game, those two are set neutral to each other and a timer of thirty seconds starts to countdown. During this countdown, both players are given equal chances to regroup their scattered armies and take up safe positions. When the countdown ends, the final conflict begins and the two players become enemies.

The Heroine
Your heroine (Circe, renamed after your player name) is a medium strength unit, and while she can hold out for quite a while against assaults, it's probably best to keep her protected and to move her away from oncoming danger. Though her hit points look only 'medium' compared to other units', you will find that sentinels and siege weapons are particularly ineffective against her, as are wadjets and jormund elvers.
The heroine only has one way to attack: a strike of lightning from her staff, which does a high amount of damage, though not enough to outright kill anything. However, this lightning attack must recharge after being used, and the recharge time is as much as one minute. In what you consider a crucial battle, deciding when and where to use to bring the heroine in for attack is important; particularly as you do not want her surrounded by enemy hoplites if she has already used her attack. You should also take into account the way a chain lightning picks it's targets: in a line as straight as possible. Important to notice is that garrisoning your heroine in a tower or transport resets the recharge bar to zero.

The Soldiers
The main fighting is to be done by your soldiers, not by your heroine. Your hoplites are the backbone of the army. They aren't very fast, but a small group of hoplites can do a considerably amount of damage to any army. They are especially effective against sentinels and heroines, even more when used with the Warcry spell.
The much weaker but also faster militia are the cannon fodder. One shockwave almost takes them out, as will a landmine or a monkey bomb. They can be used very well for surrounding the enemy, if you keep them somewhere safe until you need them. Your main army consisting of hoplites and archers might walk straight into the enemy, but they will last for a while and in the meantime your fast militia can sneak from behind. An alternative use of the weak militia is to scout. Though they serve as a nice meat shield, their relative weakness means you won't particularly miss them if they are kept in small, vulnerable groups around the map.
The archers have a nice range and do quite some damage to hoplites. They are especially effective when they all focus on the same target. Three archers can take out a whole army of militia when tasked right, but for all ranged units in this game counts: don't fight sentinels.
Next to discuss are the siege operators. As said before, they can convert a Mother Nature siege weapon to your side when they're near. The initial catapult requires two operators to be near, as do the onagers (petroboli) found on the map. Stationary ballistae in the fortress only require one operator each. Your siege operators themselves also do small damage while they are controlling a siege weapon, as if to guard the weapon. Move your siege operator too far away from the siege weapon and it converts back to mother nature. The attack points of the operators will revert to zero. The catapult is, with its long range, best use to scout and kill enemies far away. For close combat however, the onager is superior with its speed and its astonishing amount of projectiles fired at once. All siege weapons are extremely powerful in Heroines, so you should keep your operators alive at (nearly) all costs.

Onagers in the style of Age of Kings can be found.

Next to these initial units you can recruit lots of others. Their characteristics either speak for themselves or are analysed below, in the towns part. A special case is the cyclops, which will be analysed in further detail near the end of this chapter. You should be aware that most units randomly decide whether to join you or not. A new random value is picked every 30-60 seconds, so you should either waste your time waiting (not recommended) or just try again later. Other units just instantly join you when you come near them, or near their homes. For example, if you go near the hill fort in Bruane, some cavalry units will be deployed. Every player can get those, even if another player has been there before. Next to this, there are spawning units in every town. In Emervale, for example, a throwing axeman will be deployed every minute, up to a total of five at a time. If you occupy the fortress, every dead siege operator of yours will be replaced. In general, units recruited the first way are the strongest.

The Three Towns
This paragraph will focus on each of the three towns, discussing their layouts and the units available, starting with Emervale. Emervale has three routes into the center of town, and the center can be spied on from each and every side - particularly from across the river where an outpost is. Though this town has no boats for an easy escape, it does have nicely placed outposts nearby for scouting, and inside some fencing is a 'speed' hero item, which will temporarily boost the speed of the heroine significantly - useful for escaping. By and large, Emervale is an infantry town. You can recruit macemen, a huskarl, and spawn up to five axemen by controlling it, who are good in the close quarters combat the town warrants. It also holds the roc, a superb escape tool, which can be found near the very main entrance. The roc is very weak, and killed instantly by an enemy heroine's lightning strike or in a few sentinel shots.
Emervale is particularly easy to besiege, because of your ability to spy on your enemies inside of it. Also, there are nice places for a catapult from where to lay fire upon the town. Finally, it is particularly easy to position your troops to cover every entrance. Because of the speed relic that a heroine inside may have, it is often best to attack enemies in Emervale from all entrances, to block all escape routes.

Amongst infantry recruits, a roc can be found in Emervale.

Bruane is the smallest of the towns, which benefits from a large open 'field' of shallow water just outside the one and only entrance - a fun place to defend and attack, and an effective one to hit the weak ranks on the back line. This town is a cavalry town; from here, you can spawn the scout, recruit three powerful horsemen and recruit five contarii, who have zero line of sight - so group them with your scout or with the other horsemen. All cavalry in Heroines have exceptional speed, and can lap the map in less than a minute. Next to this, they are incredibly strong against siege weaponry (the weapons, not the operators), and good against archers.
High cliffs, which can hold enemy siege weapons or archers who can rain down death upon your forces, surround three out of four town sides. You've got to be careful that your troops don't get trapped inside the village, because that makes them an easy target for the ranged units on the cliffs. Instead, avoid this and keep all your troops outside the entrance, on the shallows. Near the shallow field is a transport ship, which you can use to escape in case you're being attacked from two sides. In addition, it provides a very short route from Bruane to the center fortress.

Sophia is the archery town, inhabited by peltasts, chariot archers and one 'hidden' medusa. There are essentially two paths around the flag - on one side is a river and transport boat, on the other is a cliff that units cannot access, but which can hold sentinels away from melee fighters. Further up the town along a narrow path are a temple, priest, and outpost. Moving to the priest grants you both a medusa and healing to all nearby units. The medusa has a five-minute recharge time on her petrify power, so use it well - in example against the cyclops. The outpost near the temple is quite effective for scouting oncoming enemies, but you it's placed in a dead end so you can be trapped - in that case it acts as a semi-protective fortress. While trapped inside the tower, you can be bringing your army along to relieve her and perhaps corner the enemy.
Sophia can be spied upon from all sides. It is literally surrounded by outposts, the one right across the river being the most tactical. Because of this, you will find the transport ship very useful to escape now and then.
The peltasts provide a nice anti-archer army. Chariots, the spawning unit of Sophia, are very effective because of their speed. They have low hit points but can very well be used for hit and run tactics. The chariot archer is perhaps the dark horse of the game.

The Fortress
The fortress is a massive stronghold in the center of the map. It has only one entrance, which is sealed off with a strong gate as soon as a player controls it. You can control the fortress by moving your heroine near the flag in the center of the fortress, but only if no other heroine is nearby. The entrance leads to a plateau from which narrow stairs lead to a high cliff with an outpost on one side and walkable walls overlooking a moat on the other side. A total of four ballistae can be found in the fortress. They are stationary and can each be controlled by a single siege operator (regardless of whether you actually control the fortress at that time). As long as you control the fortress, a new siege operator will spawn as soon as one is killed. Next to this, all your units heal extremely fast whilst you control it. The fortress can very easily be defended by using your archers, sentinels and siege operators, and can cover the whole center part of the map with ballista fire.
However, it is also a fantastic place to be trapped, because it has only one entrance. Next to this, your units are an easy target for spells and catapult, because they are all cluttered in the narrow space. In addition, your enemies know exactly where you are, while you don't know where your enemies are. Most probably, the fortress is the most powerful when there are still several enemies in the game, or while everyone is injured after a battle. While your enemies are killing each other, you are safe, high and dry up in your fortress. Unfortunately, as soon as the final one versus one conflict begins, you will most probably lose if you stay in the fortress for too long. Not only can the enemy capture all remaining recruits, he can also eventually control all three key points to lure you out, and that's very risky for you, because you don't have a clue where he is, waiting to ambush you.

When in the fortress, your troops are an easy target for spells.

The best way to besiege the fortress is to knock out the ballistae (not the operators, because they spawn anyway, but the ballistae!) one by one with your catapult, and then start firing at the units inside. If you don't have enough operators to do so, then it is best to storm the castle while casting spells and sending some monkey bombs to the gate and, if possible, into the fortress. Make sure your hoplites are at the front, because they do the most damage versus the gate. Shockwave is a very neat spell to temporarily disable siege operators from shooting at you, and sentinels can very nicely be placed on top of the fortress walls. Because the units inside the fortress heal so damn fast, you will only win this if you have much more soldiers than your enemy. Your best chance to win versus someone in the fortress is to get all the recruitables, control all key points and then prepare ambushes at each of them.
All in all the fortress is a very good place if you need to heal your entire army quickly, or if you want two siege operators again, but it is not a military position as powerful as one might think at first sight.

Hero Items
As explained briefly in chapter one, hero items are relics your heroine can pick up, and drop again to use. The land mine item, if dropped, will change to a rock and start flashing for 10 seconds. During those 10 seconds you should run away, because after that it will blow up if anything comes near, damaging all units in the area. Unfortunately, stupid animals such as the zebras, elephants and giraffes found in the jungle might step on your landmine causing it to explode. Since animals are attracted by the lure-cast-sentinels, it's best not to place a landmine if there's a sentinel in the area. Landmines can very well be used when your heroine has to get rid of enemy soldiers chasing her. You can quickly - effortlessly - drop a landmine while running on, making your chasers panic and hopefully explode. It is normally very effective to place landmines down thin roads your enemy must traverse. If he is in the fortress, for example, he must come out at one time down the single route. A minefield would be a nice surprise.
Another explosive item is the monkey bomb. This relic changes to a monkey when dropped, which you can direct towards an enemy player. The monkey will blow up after ten seconds or when it is nearly dead. This one is much more powerful than a landmine, because you can steer it, but it is also more micro-management intensive and you can screw up so it blows up your own army. It's usually destructive to send a monkey bomb into a narrow space such as Sophia or the fortress. It is worth mentioning that both landmines and monkey bombs can damage buildings too, including the fortress gate.
Next to these there are items that affect the heroine herself. The speed boost item makes your heroine extremely fast for some time. That's very handy if you quickly need to take a key point, or if you're being chased, and this can be coupled with Warcry for dazzling speed. The heal hero item speaks for itself, and the morph item changes your heroine into a very powerful polar bear for a short while. You have to note that the morph item also changes nearby enemy heroines into a polar bear, so only use this one if there is no enemy heroine near. The polar bear is very good against anything and particularly fast at moving, but your heroine will revert to her sorceress state after a number of seconds, so don't rely solely on it to kill an army.

Spells
All four spells mentioned in chapter 1 recharge in a matter of minutes. In general, use them as much as possible, as they'll always provide an advantage to you. However, sometimes you should postpone it to wait for that one moment where the spell is ultra effective. There is a fine strategy involved to maximise spells effectiveness. As mentioned above, the spells at your disposal are Warcry (ragnarok), Sentinel (lure), Shockwave (shockwave) and Snakes (ancestors).
Warcry, to start with, increases the speed of all your units and the attack and hit points of your initial ones, for ten seconds. It is useful for two main strategies. One strategy is to hack and slash at your opponent's soldiers, killing most units, including the enemy heroine, in a few hits. The other, equally powerful strategy is to use it merely as a speed boost in case you find yourself being trapped or chased. It is also a very powerful escape tool for your heroine. Couple this spell with the speed relic to get the heroine across the map in mere seconds. Your best weapon against an enemy Warcry is always to RUN AWAY, FAST. To slow down the slaughter, you could also cast shockwave on his units. This also means that you should usually wait for the enemy to spend his shockwave before casting Warcry yourself.
Next, let's focus on the Sentinel spell. Its use is fairly basic: you just cast the god power somewhere (on walkable terrain), and a stone archer pops up. This is a spell, which you should really use as often as possible, as the sentinels give line of sight and do a good amount of damage. In addition, its recharge time is a mere minute. You have to take into account that only five of them can exist at once, though, but in general this limit isn't a problem, because each sentinel self-destructs after a number of animals have been attracted to it (yes, it still has the lure property). If you don't like your sentinels to be destroyed by animals, nor by enemy melee units, then place it on cliffy hilltops so they can't reach it. Another advantage of placing them on hilltops is the great accuracy bonus they get. The best weapon against enemy sentinels is a siege weapon or one of your own sentinels placed on higher ground. Hoplites do quite well, too.
Third we will discuss Shockwave. How it works is commonly known - same as in supremacy - only it does a whooping amount of damage here. It nearly takes out a militia, and it instantly takes out many recruitable units such as the chariot archers. One of its uses was already mentioned in the Warcry part: to sabotage an enemy Warcry. Another great use is to bump units into places where they're stuck - and many places can be found in the cliffy jungle of Heroines. Next to this, shockwave is probably your best weapon against enemy siege weapons, the fortress' ballistae in particular (as mentioned above). Because when a siege weapon fires at you, you get a little bit line of sight where it's firing from, and that's just enough to be able to cast Shockwave there. Obviously, Shockwave also comes in handy when you're being chased.
Last, there is the Snakes spell. Cast like the ancestors god power, snakes (wadjets on land, jormund elvers in water) pop up at random locations in the area, and they all live for sixty seconds (or until they're killed). You must not overestimate these snakes: they do virtually no damage unless if you focus fire with them on a weak unit. They do have a different great use though: to block the enemy, to suck up enemy fire and basically to create chaos on the battlefield to use to your advantage. As mentioned before, only when focussing fire you can do some real damage to enemy units. One spell helping you with this is Shockwave, which slows down the enemy enough to kill a few militias.

The Cyclops
The beloved cyclops can be found between Sophia and the fortress, where he is standing in front of his residence (a detached house in the jungle), with his dog Bella at his side. As with many of the other recruitables, he might join you if you move your heroine close to him. Alternatively, he may not. Converting the cyclops automatically also converts Bella, who is his ever-loyal companion.
The cyclops is a very special recruit. When you have the cyclops under your control, it doesn't mean that he'll stay under your control forever! When an enemy heroine is moderately close to him, he could switch from your team to their team with no warning (and regardless of where your heroine is). Because of this, it is often a good strategy to only send your cyclops into combat if you know for a fact he will not be going near an enemy heroine. Naturally, this negative point could deter you from ever trying to recruit him, but there are some positive points to owning him.
The cyclops, and Bella, is invincible. They each have a massive amount of hit points, and they continuously heal. If the cyclops is coming towards you, either run away or bring forward your heroine in an attempt to convert him. Your troops are totally ineffective, and alongside the huge hit points are a very large attack and a special move that kills any human unit in one hit. If you cannot escape him, then at least try to cover your stronger units, like the hoplites, with the cannon fodder, being spawning units or militia.
Bella, his dog, is another interesting unit. While literally an individual, invincible and fast unit, she is very hard to individually control - every few seconds she automatically and incessantly runs towards her master. Trying to get her to scout is an impossibility, and just getting her to go somewhere requires a lot of continued clicking. The best way to play is to control the cyclops and only the cyclops. Bella will take care of herself.
The cyclops can obviously make an effective bodyguard, for any of your units. If kept with your heroine, it has the added bonus of possibly converting him back to you if he converts to your enemy. Also, if your heroine is being chased, then the enemy heroine is usually not amongst the chasers. This means that your cyclops is safe and your enemy might unwittingly send his army to its doom.
As mentioned, it is most effective to use your cyclops your enemies when you know the heroine is elsewhere. If your enemy has his army holed up, fortifying some point, try to distract the enemy heroine in whatever way you can and then send in the cyclops alone. Try to direct your enemy so he inadvertently corners him - your cyclops can then kill an entire trapped army, as long as there are no heroines in sight. Of course, the big fellow can make a great deterrent. Just set his stance on defensive and place him on a path is likely to cause your enemy to avoid that path at all costs.

Chapter 3 - Strategy

Now that you know how to use your soldiers, how to drop hero items, cast spells, use transport ships, and much more, it is time to look at the bigger picture. How can you combine all the segments mentioned above to slaughter the enemy? Important to know is that each game of Heroines can roughly be split up in three phases:
1) The opening, where the players try to occupy the best lookouts, hilltops and eventually recruits.
2) The cat and mouse, where the players are in a dynamic equilibrium and everyone is very cautious, for any mistake can be fatal.
3) The slaughter, which usually starts when someone made a mistake during phase 2 and walks into an ambush.
When one player's hero is dead and he is eliminated from the game, usually phase two is entered again by the remaining players. The following chapter will cover each phase separately.

Phase 1 - The opening
We will start with describing some possible initial moves for each player. You should note that the map is made so that for all pairs of adjacent players (blue and purple, purple and red, red and yellow, yellow and blue), the routes to their nearest key point are equally long. The route to the fortress is equally long for all four players.

In the picture below, coloured routes indicate the first moves for each player. The symbol near each route shows which army to move according to it. "H" indicates the heroine herself, army 1 consists of the hoplites, army 2 are the militia, army 3 are the archers, the letter S indicates the siege operators, and S+ indicates the siege operators including the initial catapult.

Let's have a look at the first example. Note that the differently coloured routes have got nothing to do with what the other players do. They're just examples routes for each player regardless of the others.

There are many possible starting routes.

We will evaluate the routes per player, starting with player one (blue). A remarkable thing to note is that the blue heroine is walking quite far away on her own. However, this isn't as unsafe as it might seem, because the hoplites are quite nearby, and the heroine can enter the sentry tower that grants her shelter and a large line of sight. So large in fact that player one, after placing the catapult (S+) on the hilltop, can oversee nearly the entire northern half of the map.
Next to great line of sight granted by this initial position, there are a few chokepoints that player one controls, where an enemy could be ambushed in the future. An example is the entire valley to the southwest of his catapult and archers (army 3). If an enemy passes there, his army can be closed in between the hoplites (army 1) and the militia (army 2), while being under constant fire from the catapult and the archers on the hilltop.
Another chokepoint controlled by player one can be found to the north of his siege and archers, on the route the militia followed. In case an enemy decides to sneak along the path at the northeast edge of the map to attack the blue archers in the back, the attacker will find himself closed in between the archers and the militia. Next to this, the blue hoplites can be there to help in a matter of seconds - especially because the blue heroine in the watchtower spotted the enemy very early.
Another few good things are blue's line of sight on the town Emervale and on the fortress, his ability to move his catapult to attack the fortress, and his archers standing on higher ground (this increases their accuracy).
A slightly negative aspect of these initial routes are that blue is by no means close to any recruitable soldiers. He will depend solely on his initial soldiers. All the towns are far away, but you get a powerful position in return.

Let's continue to player two (red). In a way similar to player one, player two manages to get line of sight over nearly half of the map by combining a sentry tower with the catapult. Also, red's hoplites and archers are near the heroine in case she needs help.
There is only one real chokepoint controlled by player two: the passage to the south of the high fortress cliff. An enemy walking there can be enclosed between the red militia and the hoplites with archer backup and, if time permits, with catapult backup. Another good thing is the red heroine's easy and safe access to the town Sophia, where valuable ranged soldiers can be recruited (although this reduces the total line of sight, so watch out).
A less good aspect is that the militia and the catapult are quite far away from the stronger hoplites and archers. This means that they relatively easy targets. Fortunately the great line of sight of the catapult partly compensates this, because you can see the enemies coming over a long distance. Player two is in a very defensive position.

So we have seen an initial plan that provides a very powerful, aggressive military position (player one), and we have seen an initial plan that is more defensive (player 2). Both plans gave the players great line of sight. Now we're going to look at another slightly different plan that focuses more on recruiting: player three (yellow) occupies a town immediately and, contrary to player two, keeps his armies quite near each other.
Player three immediately goes for the cavalry recruits found in the town Bruane. Because there is no sentry tower there, he doesn't have as much line of sight as the two previous players. This is why he keeps his hoplites, archers and militia all nearby in case an enemy suddenly walks in. The yellow catapult is positioned to overlook and throw rocks at a possible future battlefield.
In this initial plan, player three doesn't control any chokepoints to ambush the enemy in the future. Yellow will take many recruits from the village, and is meanwhile in a defensive but not very safe position. A thing, which makes this position a bit safer, is the possibility for the yellow heroine to flee over the water, by using the transport ship available.

Yet another different plan is player four's (purple), which focuses a lot on expansion. He immediately goes to Emervale for it's good infantry recruits, and places his armies of hoplites and militia to guard the entrances. The purple archers are, together with the heroine herself, guarding the back entrance to the village.
Simultaneously, his siege operators ignore the catapult and go to the fortress to control two of the stationary ballistae there. This is a strategy that saves a lot of micromanagement (you don't have to move the slow catapult around), but leaves the siege operators rather vulnerable. The advantage of the long-range ballistae however makes this risk worth taking.
Although you probably won't see it immediately, player four controls quite a nice chokepoint where he could ambush the enemy. When there's an enemy on the plain to the northeast of the fortress, the purple hoplites can descend the hill and assault from the north while the purple militia assault from the southeast. During this battle, the ballista will constantly fire at the enemy troops - deadly.

Of course it could happen that you encounter an enemy army during this first phase. If that is the case, then it's nearly always best to run away, fast. Running away gives you some advantages over the chasing enemy - but more on that in the analysis of phase 2. Only if your army largely outnumbers his, you can decide to enter the battle and hope for the best.

We have now seen and evaluated four example beginnings for the different players: aggressive (blue), defensive (red), recruiting (yellow) and expanding (purple). Of course each player can start with numerous other positions. E.g. player one could conquer Emervale in a way similar to player four, whereas player four can occupy the hill to the southwest of his starting position, where the red heroine is pointed to in the picture. Player two could try to surprise yellow by taking Bruane, while yellow might try and position his troops on the hilltop to the south of player one's initial position. On the other hand, any player could easily go to the fortress with his entire army and there wait what the others do. The possibilities are nearly countless and while some are better than others, it is basically a matter of taste and custom, and if you just use your brains and be careful, you can't really go wrong as games are usually decided not before phase two...

Phase 2 - The cat and mouse
In this phase of the game all players are roughly equally strong, and you have to be really careful, but also aggressive. This means that you have to move around slowly, keep your armies away from possible ambushes, maximise your line of sight and prepare ambushes for your enemies.

Of course you want to kill the enemy heroines. But they are all very careful, and if you engage a normal one-to-one battle, your troops will be severely damaged - even if you win the battle. This means that after such a battle you won't stand a chance against the remaining enemies who are still at full health. So you have to find a way to kill the enemy heroines while keeping your own soldiers alive.

A very important feature in Heroines is that the remaining soldiers of a defeated player randomly convert to the remaining players. So if you kill a heroine, you will get some new units on your side. Of course this also counts for the two other players, but realise this: at the time you kill an enemy's heroine, often your entire army is there, and so is his. Thus when some of his soldiers convert to other enemies, you will easily outnumber and instantly kill those. This means that if done right, you are the only one gaining units, so killing a heroine is actually rewarding! The best defence is very often a powerful offence.

So on the one hand fighting an enemy is risky, but on the other hand killing an enemy heroine is rewarding - if done right. But how do you do it "right"? There are two valid ways, and often you have to choose which way to go.

One way is to mostly ignore the enemy soldiers and go straight for the heroine while casting the Warcry spell. A small number of hoplites, archers, or militia even can easily kill a heroine in a matter of seconds during the Warcry. If it works, you won't lose a single unit. However, this strategy is very risky: if the target heroine runs away, or if she is surrounded by her soldiers too closely, your units won't be able to hurt her enough. And while you try your best to get your soldiers to attack the heroine, the enemy soldiers are hacking and slashing at you. Not good.

The other way, which is slightly less rewarding but much safer (and cooler!), is to prepare an ambush. Ambushing the enemy in Heroines usually means that you surround and close in the enemy army so he has nowhere to run. Surprise is the most powerful weapon, so having more line of sight than your enemy really helps. Next to this, if you can overwhelm and scare your enemy by casting spells, he will probably panic and make less good moves. Also, don't underestimate the both physical and emotional power of monkey bombs and landmines. Below is a screenshot illustrating four examples of a deadly ambush setting.

Four good ambush locations.

Many more locations are suitable though, so this is only a very small selection. However, the underlying strategy for each ambush is globally the same. Position your archers and siege weapon on a high cliff (they receive a worthy accuracy bonus!), put your heroine safely in a tower for huge line of sight, and split your infantry in two armies: strong hoplites and fast militia. You should take this speed difference into account: in the example picture, it is no coincidence that the longer route is usually walked by army 2 (the militia), and the shorter by army 1 (the hoplites). In addition, you must be certain that your distant infantry armies cannot be surprised by an enemy, so place them well within your tower's or catapult's line of sight. The picture doesn't need many more comments. Just have a careful look at it and also search for other possible ambush places.

In general, how do you pick a good ambush location? All questions below should be answered with "yes" for the ideal location:
- Can you trap the enemy using two infantry armies (or more if you have enough soldiers)?
- Is there a high place, within range, where you can safely position your archers and siege weapon?
- Do you have enough line of sight in the area to see enemy armies coming in time?
- Can you reposition your troops quickly enough in case an enemy comes from an unexpected direction?
- Can you quickly enough retreat your units in case the enemy has a cyclops, polar bear, Warcry or monkey bomb?
- Is your heroine safe?
When you go through the example ambushes in the picture, answering these questions, you will see that not all questions are answered with "yes" for each location. Take in example the yellow ambush: the space where the archers, catapult, hoplites and heroine are, is very narrow, meaning you have to be careful not to be trapped yourself. So, there is always a risk you take when preparing an ambush, but it is well worth it. We dare saying that you can easily defeat an army twice your size with a well-planned ambush.

However, we're only in phase two, so the real slaughter has yet to begin. You have prepared an ambush with sentinels, siege weaponry, landmines and possibly a monkey bomb in your backpack, and the enemy is coming. Yes, we're ready for phase 3.

Phase 3 - The Slaughter
This phase consist of finishing off a player, or being finished off yourself. If you are lucky, you will defeat the enemy in one big ambush. If you're less lucky, the enemy heroine will escape and run away, and you will need tactics to be able chase and kill her. If you're unlucky, you did something wrong in your ambush, or were ambushed yourself, and you are defeated. If you're less unlucky, though, your heroine is able to escape and is being chased. In each of these four cases, you need to know what to do. This paragraph will briefly explain the basic laws of warfare. Then we will show you what to do to kill a runaway heroine, and finally we will explain what to do when you're being chased yourself.

A stereotype chaotic battle in Heroines.

So we are in the middle of a huge battle. The problem is to remain calm enough to keep in mind and live up to a few very elementary laws:
- Archers at the back, melee soldiers at the front.
- Use your siege weapons as much as possible.
- Save your shockwave for when you really need it (e.g. if your heroine is trapped, or if you've just cast ragnarok and the enemy is running away from it, the coward).
- Watch your back; always try to keep an escape route (which could very well be a roc or a boat) open.
- Keep your heroine near the enemy cyclops, but keep track of her hit points. Press the "find hero" button if you lost her.
- If possible, focus fire on the enemy heroine, but don't keep sending your melee soldiers if they can't reach her.
- Use proper spell combinations, as discussed in chapter two.
- Run away from monkey bombs, enemy Warcries, enemy siege projectiles, cyclopses, polar bears and bigger armies than yours AT ALL COSTS.
We really can't help you further. Staying calm and doing the right thing is only a matter of experience (and instinct, possibly).

So, the battle is over, but the enemy heroine escaped and is now running away. You are chasing her with your remaining handful of damaged soldiers, but she keeps throwing spells, freshly recruited units, lightning and landmines at you. What should you do? The enemy has the advantage to be in charge: he decides where to send his heroine, and your army will follow her. Don't give him this advantage! Stop chasing her and just have one or two fast units remaining to follow her. In the meantime, send your main army - or what remains of it - out of the enemy heroine's line of sight. Then split the army and try to guess where the enemy might be heading. Send one half there to await her, and send the other half to follow her at a safe distance, out of her line of sight. If you guessed the wrong location, just try again. Sooner or later she will do as you expect, and then you can finish her off with Warcry, sentinel and snakes. This way, you increase your chance to kill her while keeping loss due to spells and lightning at a minimum.

The other side of the coin is that you could lose the battle and be chased yourself. As mentioned above, you have the advantage that you know where your enemy is going (namely: chasing you), while your enemy can only at best guess where you are going. You have to maximise your chances to recruit new units, maximally utilise your spells, maximise your enemy's losses and try to be as unpredictable as possible. To illustrate being unpredictable: if you're heading towards the west, your chaser might think you're going to Bruane to get cavalry recruits. So if the enemy is smart he will send half of his army to await you there. But if you are smarter, halfway you will turn around and go somewhere else, while casting snakes and shockwave to distract your chasers. Next to this you should use sentry towers to heal your heroine every now and then, while making use of its great line of sight. A great way to keep your chasers far, really far behind is to cross the water in a transport ship. Next to this you should place landmines as much as possible, and try to get to the speed boost item, the heal hero item or the morph item. If you do all the above, then your chances to win are at least 50% (probably more, due to the headache you're giving your enemy), even though your enemy has more units.

When playing a team game, the strategies in both phase 2 and phase 3 are basically the same, only you have more units at your team's disposal and you and your ally can combine initial moves in a smart way. Of course, as with supremacy, communication is the key.

Chapter 4 - Tips and Tricks

Archaeopterix
In phase 1, I usually don't go for key points. Because if you do, and control one, then all your enemies will immediately know where you are. Instead I prefer to put my heroine in a watchtower as soon as possible and position my catapult somewhere else, so that their combined line of sight is covers nearly half of the map. I send the hoplites, militia, and archers in three separate groups to places well within the LOS, to be sure that the enemy will never surprise them. I never group my catapult with the rest of the army, because it's so slow. Instead, I just leave it unguarded and run away with the siege operators (without the catapult) when an enemy comes near.

Sometimes I try an alternate initial move. I send my heroine straight to Emervale, take some recruits, pick up the speed boost item, use it and run to Bruane at a high speed. This start allows me to pick up many recruits in a short period of time, while my heroine isn't at a very big risk (just watch out she doesn't get stuck).

My most common initial moves however could very well be compared to player one's in the example in chapter three. Because I'm not going for any key points, I usually enter phase 2 quite early in the game. In phase 2 I usually walk around slowly, hopping from outpost to outpost. I barely go into the fortress, because it is such a risky place. Everyone knows where you are, and there's only one entrance so you can easily be trapped. Only when many of my soldiers are badly hurt I quickly hop in and out of the fortress to heal. Also if one of my siege operators is killed, I usually send the remaining one to operate a ballista.

TIPS:
- There are two transport ships to be found, one near Bruane and one near Sophia. The one near Sophia provides a very valuable escape route, because the town only has one entrance. Moving the boat away from the town early in the game will most certainly trap some players later on - but mind that you could be one of them.
- The cyclops is a game winner. If your enemy only has his heroine left while you still have some soldiers, then you won't want your enemy to get the cyclops on his side! Recruiting and then immediately deleting your cyclops is a very cowardly but smart move.
- Losing your entire army does never mean the end! As described in the last part of chapter three, chasing and killing a heroine on her own is quite hard. Your spells, hero items, and most probably better micromanagement than the enemy - who has to manage many soldiers - are to your advantage, and there are many recruits to be found.
- Always set your siege operators and the operated siege weapon on stand ground, and move them as a group. This makes micromanagement during battles a lot easier. Mind that when you stop operating the weapon, the stance is set to aggressive again, automatically.

Shrink
When beginning the game, I tend to move very slowly. I send off a couple of scouts (normally militia) to watch over the various key routes, whilst my catapult is often sent to overlook one of the towns so it can wreak havoc on the inevitable enemies that will go there. The rest of my army is normally kept in a particularly useful part of the map, often near a sentry tower, while I keep a 'bodyguard' few units near my Heroine.

These bodyguards are invariable a couple of strong hoplites, though I am quick to recruit the hidden minotaur and attempt to get the cyclops on my side, who both become the bodyguard. Once I have an effective bodyguard around the heroine, and knowing roundabouts where by enemies are (via short periods in the sentry towers and via sentinels), I go for landmines and begin placing them along a route to a town.

Warcry is by far my favourite spell. Because my heroine is kept only with a core group, if I come across an entire enemy army, the bodyguard can only do so much. I must then use Warcry, which gives a healthy speed boost to all my units, while also temporarily increasing their hit points.

Hiding out in the fortress can be very effective, particularly in free for all games. If you come away from a skirmish a little worse off than your enemy, using the fortress to heal (exceptionally fast) is a good idea. Furthermore, if you have a dead siege operator, one will spawn in the Fortress. Using two ballistae is a very effective defence and deterrent, while landmines littering the road to the entrance often sends armies going the other way.

TIPS:
-If you position strategic landmines to stop your enemy going in a specific direction, do not use the Sentinel spell nearby, as this will cause animals to move to the Sentinel who could set off your landmine.
-If you find yourself in an unwanted battle, and there is no viable escape route for your heroine, try to keep her near a close by local (a behemoth, or one of the town recruits, such as the huskarl), who might join you and turn the tide.
-The roc, while an effective transport and escape vehicle, is vulnerable to sentinel and heroine fire. Always be ready to hit the ungarrison button if the HP is dropping quickly; the heroine herself always has more chance of surviving.

Evaluation

You have nearly reached the end of this article. We hoped that you liked reading everything so far or enjoyed just scanning the article briefly. We are sure that you learnt something from this guide, and dare you to battle us online and make preparations for the possible future Heroines tournament.

But you may want to practise in single player mode first, versus titan AI. Even though this will get a bit repetitive when done often, you will get used to the map, the features, the micromanagement, and you can experiment with new strategies to own people on ESO. A thing we really liked back in the playtesting days was to take out all the computer players in the shortest possible time, and try to beat our record again and again. Try it and post your time here!

We'd also appreciate it if you could post bug reports and suggestions here, to be taken into account for a possible Heroines 2. In addition, feel free to ask any questions about the scenario or about the guide itself.

Above all, we hope that you will eventually enjoy playing Heroines as much as we do, time and time again.

Shrink and Archaeopterix
Heroines download link
AuthorReplies:
Hikari
Mortal
(id: echowinds)
posted 29 December 2005 06:28 PM EDT (US)     1 / 58       
Woah. That's a really lengthy analysis for 1 scenario. O_o

Cavuy
Mortal
(id: jonathan1222)
posted 29 December 2005 06:35 PM EDT (US)     2 / 58       
Goodness. I had assumed that by being unable to play online I was missing a lot of Heroines, I now find I'm missing a lot more then I had thought. The multilayer aspect seems a lot larger and different from the single player aspect.

Indeed, from what I read, Heroines is a whole new game. While based upon AoM clearly, there seems to be no similarities in game play.


Cavuy (formerly jonathan1222) | Writer, Graphic & Web Designer
ex-Modder and Scenario Designer | Legacy
Member since May 5th, 2003

[This message has been edited by jonathan1222 (edited 12-29-2005 @ 06:37 PM).]

V01ture
Mortal
posted 29 December 2005 07:27 PM EDT (US)     3 / 58       
Woah, I can't read all that. -.-
Auron_
Mortal
(id: auron 2)
posted 29 December 2005 09:08 PM EDT (US)     4 / 58       
hmm an article for an scenario....not a bad idea...actually i might do this as well...later on!

but are you really expecting all of us to read all that? can you put it more straight to the point...?

regards
Auron


Auron: || Aurons Site || Aurons AoM:TT Creations || MY POETRY WEBSITE ||
papaya
ಠ_ಠ
(id: X_MOSS)
posted 29 December 2005 10:08 PM EDT (US)     5 / 58       
Wow, that's a lot. It makes me want to play again, anyone want a match?

oh you can wait for what I can give
you know what I am so you know how I live
try to look proud but youíre not in the slightest
its happening now and itís always been like this.
Gaurdian_112
Banned
posted 30 December 2005 02:25 AM EDT (US)     6 / 58       

Quote:

Of course we want this project to get as much attention as possible, but that is not the main aim of this writing.

You intentionally made it long so that people wouldn't waste their time reading it- this is one of those sneaky advertisements.

Hikari
Mortal
(id: echowinds)
posted 30 December 2005 03:31 AM EDT (US)     7 / 58       
At that length, it would take hours on end to type it. I doubt all that would be merely for advertisement purposes.

Gaurdian_112
Banned
posted 30 December 2005 04:53 AM EDT (US)     8 / 58       
I was being sarcastic, lol.
Archaeopterix
Mortal
posted 30 December 2005 06:27 AM EDT (US)     9 / 58       
We could remove the preface, introduction, and evalutation, but the rest is really as short as we could.

If you've played it already, you can skip chapter 1 - as that's basically the tutorial cinematic. But the rest... Heck, just read a paragraph a day and you'll be finished next year (which isn't too long from now).

EDIT: @Papaya: me! me! But only after January the 6th.

[This message has been edited by Archaeopterix (edited 12-30-2005 @ 06:29 AM).]

Cavuy
Mortal
(id: jonathan1222)
posted 30 December 2005 10:58 AM EDT (US)     10 / 58       
Meh, it's not that long, I took my time and read through it all, regardless of length.

It's quite well written, keep the Introduction, it's a good start to the analysis.

After reading this I was finally able to make use of the landmine and monkey bomb. Before, they confused me as I did not see the flashing rock, nor did I move the monkey bomb.


Cavuy (formerly jonathan1222) | Writer, Graphic & Web Designer
ex-Modder and Scenario Designer | Legacy
Member since May 5th, 2003
Shrink
on the trender train
posted 01 January 2006 04:31 PM EDT (US)     11 / 58       
Yeah.
A lot of reasoning behind first deciding to write this guide stems from how many players, particularly those 'randomers' who we see on ESO, simply do not udnerstand the various intricacies of the game. Because they don't understand Hero Items properly, the way recruiting works to a degree of fine detail, we have often found we've had an incredible advantage which significantly shortens the game time.

Archaeopterix
Mortal
posted 03 January 2006 04:27 PM EDT (US)     12 / 58       
Come on lazy people, read it . Also can I hear some opinions on the possibility of a Heroines tournament? Of cooooooourse with real prise money and without us, the authors, participating
Sandro The Wicke
Mortal
posted 03 January 2006 05:33 PM EDT (US)     13 / 58       
I've read the entire guide and happy to announce, it doesn't really explain many strategies, only how things work and some strategic locations and even some secrets in the game...

SANDRO THE WICKE
/\/}{The Broken One}{\/\
A Mind Shattered Upon Time As The Fragments Of Sharpened Stone Upon Darkened Void
{|What Is Wisdom Not But What We Make It To Be|}...
TTWDD|Current Sites|PSD
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Adder
Fallen Angel
(id: The Adder)
posted 03 January 2006 07:02 PM EDT (US)     14 / 58       
This sounds really awesome.

I wish I had my gaming computer running.


Adder |
"I would like to wonder if Adder always acts like a stuck up asshole?" - Coldviper
papaya
ಠ_ಠ
(id: X_MOSS)
posted 03 January 2006 07:54 PM EDT (US)     15 / 58       

Quote:

Come on lazy people, read it . Also can I hear some opinions on the possibility of a Heroines tournament? Of cooooooourse with real prise money and without us, the authors, participating

Oh ya, that would be awesome.


oh you can wait for what I can give
you know what I am so you know how I live
try to look proud but youíre not in the slightest
its happening now and itís always been like this.
Shrink
on the trender train
posted 03 January 2006 11:28 PM EDT (US)     16 / 58       
Ooh, thanks Adder.
And thanks Jared for the awesome news post.

Quote:

I've read the entire guide and happy to announce, it doesn't really explain many strategies, only how things work and some strategic locations and even some secrets in the game...


And isn't it a mighty fine analysis?

Archaeopterix
Mortal
posted 05 January 2006 10:51 AM EDT (US)     17 / 58       
Yeah cool showcase Jared, thanks. Gave a healthy boost of 150 downloads in a single day. Not that quantity matters, of course.

I would have hoped for more tips, tricks, questions and also comments on the tournament idea, though. But I guess the article is just too long for the lot of you

Paperfriend
Mortal
posted 06 January 2006 03:06 PM EDT (US)     18 / 58       
Tournament would be cool, but I currently have a problem with AoM (as Archsomethingrix noticed). It automaticly closes itself. anybody know how to solve this? And I will read it all.

Edit: ok read it all took a break in between and I learned a few things. Will help me alot


Yes, periods and smileys are the same for me
No matter what you say

[This message has been edited by Paperfriend (edited 01-06-2006 @ 04:21 PM).]

Archaeopterix
Mortal
posted 07 January 2006 11:49 AM EDT (US)     19 / 58       
Does it just shut down, or do you get an error message? Anyhow, my experience is that most bugs are caused by videocard drivers - try installing the latest version of those. Tried reinstalling AoM yet?
Paperfriend
Mortal
posted 07 January 2006 03:51 PM EDT (US)     20 / 58       
I reinstalled both AoM and TT and it works fine now, wanna have a game sometime?

Yes, periods and smileys are the same for me
No matter what you say
Sandro The Wicke
Mortal
posted 07 January 2006 04:36 PM EDT (US)     21 / 58       
are you sure you want a game with a guy who can't even spell Mount Olympus right? (joking) I guess you could...

SANDRO THE WICKE
/\/}{The Broken One}{\/\
A Mind Shattered Upon Time As The Fragments Of Sharpened Stone Upon Darkened Void
{|What Is Wisdom Not But What We Make It To Be|}...
TTWDD|Current Sites|PSD
Shot 1 Shot 2 Shot 3|Best Eyecandy Shots|Shot 4 Shot 5 Shot 6
Archaeopterix
Mortal
posted 07 January 2006 05:44 PM EDT (US)     22 / 58       
What's wrong with Mt. Olympos, Mr. Italic?
Shrink
on the trender train
posted 07 January 2006 06:16 PM EDT (US)     23 / 58       
There are a lot of Greek works (like Olympos) where you can freely substitute the o for the u and vice versa. Arch spells it just fine.

Archaeopterix
Mortal
posted 07 January 2006 06:24 PM EDT (US)     24 / 58       
Totally consequently, it should be Olumpos. But that just doesn't look right and it would only give me even more critic *sniff*.

*Waits for a smart comment by Anastasoulis*

EDIT: Oooooh, I totally forgot to react to Paperfriend. Sure I'll see you online some time - you're in my friends list. Gotta study too, though.

[This message has been edited by Archaeopterix (edited 01-07-2006 @ 06:26 PM).]

Sandro The Wicke
Mortal
posted 07 January 2006 06:58 PM EDT (US)     25 / 58       
@Shrink Okay I get it, Greek has been transfered Latin and blah blah blah, I do think this game analysis is quite helpful and I know that Arch can spell Mount Olympus in it's Mid-Occidental version and in case you didn't notice I was joking, I mean new designers here are in fact treated too harshly and I don't think helping improve the already educated designers of old times isn't really necessary, so instead of trying to stand up for yourself try to at least stand up for the newbies here and help revive the forums...

SANDRO THE WICKE
/\/}{The Broken One}{\/\
A Mind Shattered Upon Time As The Fragments Of Sharpened Stone Upon Darkened Void
{|What Is Wisdom Not But What We Make It To Be|}...
TTWDD|Current Sites|PSD
Shot 1 Shot 2 Shot 3|Best Eyecandy Shots|Shot 4 Shot 5 Shot 6
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