Arctic Isles by RF_Gandalf
Arctic Isles is a new random map for AOM or AOM:TT that uses features of increased map size and increased numbers of settlements to give a new dimension to game play on an island or archipelago style map. Looking thru the RM archives at AOMH, there are several player-made island maps but none with these features and none designed to change game play as this map does.
Each player starts on a separate large island with 2 settlements beyond the starting TC. Scattered about in the ocean are several more randomly placed, randomly numbered islands, some of which will have one or more settlements on them. On 'Large' setting the number of these extra island settlements is usually 'n+3' where n = number of players (though occasionally one less is placed); on the normal map size the number of extra settlements is 'n+2' (occasionally 'n+1'). For example, on 'Large' for two players there are usually a total of 5 extra settlements on 2-4 islands in addition to the 2 empty settlements on your base island. There is also randomly placed gold, forest, food animals and predators on these other islands. The relics (n+1) are always scattered randomly on these extra islands as well. The increased map size helps to fit all of this in without crowding and without the player islands intersecting, and allows for larger size islands giving some areas less vulnerable to warship attacks.
The extra settlements really help in game play, with the additional pop space allowing a player to more effectively field both a navy and army - the standard map pop caps do not really allow that. The placement of these extra settlements on scattered islands forces a migration to expand and forces all attacks to be done over water - there is no land connection between players as in the Archipelago map. These extra resources and settlements are of such importance that naval control of the sea is vital to a successful strategy.
Strategic decisions abound on this map. Do you make your initial expansion to a neighboring empty settlement island or do you try to shore up your position by taking the settlements on your starting island first? Do you try instead a risky expansion onto your enemy's base island before you are even to Heroic Age? Do you boat boom, fishing from multiple docks, to take advantage of the great fishing, or do you play it safer and farm on your base island to avoid enemy warships? Can you build up your defenses on your base island and any expansion islands well enough to repel assaults, or do you go on an all-out offensive? How much of your pop cap do you devote to a navy rather than army?
I invite you to download and try out the map. You should do a number of test starts on 'visible' at the recommended settings to checkout the randomness of the islands, settlements and various other features.
I recommend that if you are playing as single player that you use the Admiral AI - not perfect but an improvement on the basic AIs for this map. This map is best for multiplayer.
Some points about the map size:
On 'large' Arctic Isles is 616 x 616 tiles (all of these numbers represent a 2 player map); on 'normal' it is 500 x 500 tiles. By way of comparison, Archipelago is 356 x 356 on 'large' and 312 x 312 on 'normal'. These changes mean Arctic Isles' length and width is 73% larger on 'large', and 60% greater on 'normal' setting. Of course the effect on map AREA is even greater. Archipelago on 'large' is 126,736 tiles, while Arctic Isles is 379,456 tiles, about triple in area. Archipelago on 'normal' is only 97,344 tiles, while Arctic Isles is 250,000 tiles.
To show how the map size increases with greater number of players, for a 4 player game on 'large', Arctic Isles is 849 tiles per side (Archipelago is 503), while on 'normal' setting with 4 players Arctic Isles is 693 tiles per side (Archipelago is 442).
Another way to look at the size difference is that playing Arctic Isles with 2 players on 'large' is the same size as Archipelago for 6 players on 'large'; Arctic Isles for 4 players on 'large' is bigger than Archipelago for 10 players on 'large'.
Because the size of a map affects performance in any multiplayer game, there may be serious problems trying to play this map with a large number of players or with a sub par computer system. I know that ES limited the size of their maps at least in part to allow larger number of players; I don't have the same goals as ES and have designed this more for a limited number of players. This map has been extensively tested on a LAN for 2 players on the large setting with no problems in game play or lag. More limited testing for 4 players on a LAN also seemed to work well for me. I cannot recommend the use of this map for more than four players or for use over the internet as I have not adequately tested it in those circumstances and expect some likely performance problems. Feedback appreciated on the map size and performance with more players.
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I tried this map offline with 2v2, me and a comp. vs 2 comps. You are right about this being a big map, actually quite big, i had to look pretty hard to find my ally =) The resources are very limited in gold and food, which forces you to fish, farm or expand, something that i think apeleago (or however its spelled) lack a bit.
Many small island that you can use defensivly or offensivly combined with a big map, it's perfect! But again, your army COULD get smashed while in a transport by the enemy navy... Very funny if you're not the "Let's get a big army fast and attack in the 2nd minute"-type. Course that, is impossible!
Sorry, but becourse of the randomness of the map it can't be balanced. My enemy was surrounded with island that held half of all the settlements, and therefore giving him the settlements and a big defensive position by being "walled in" by the island. I recommend you fixing this.
Well, this is basicly just a copy of apeleago (spelled?) so that's no big deal. But else a good map, which gives it a plus.
Map desing: 2.5
Totally random, nicely done. Can't say a thing about this...
Well, it's a random map, no story! I won't include it in the final result.
It's too random to be balanced, fix this and the score will increase by a lot! Other than that, i hope to see more maps from you, good luck =)
EDIT: sorry i screwed up with my calculator. lol
[Edited on 09/02/05 @ 12:20 AM]