Sunday, July 3, 2011


Independence is the final scenario in the Seeds of Discontent bonus campaign. The map introduces some very annoying new variables. Every day of the week, bandits will rob your kingdom of precious resources.

On day 4 and 5, the bandits will steal gold and lumber from your treasury. On day 6 and 7, they will rob you of more gold. This cycle repeats every week.

To win the game, you have to master the game's tech tree and build a capitol. Luckily, with some creative maneuvering and clever resource allocation, it's possible to complete this map in a single week.

The first and most important decision is the starting bonus. You'll be asked to choose between a starting bonus of 12 wood, 3 dendroid soldiers, or 6 dendroid guards. While it may be tempting to take the 6 dendroid guards, the best choice is the 12 wood. As soon as you start the scenario, you'll see why.

Yes, right off the bat the game robs you of 20 wood. This is the same number of wood the game would have started you off with if you hadn't chosen the 12 wood bonus. So thanks to the bandits, you end up with a mere 12 wood in your treasury.

The grail is a godsend. Although you won't really fight any computer controlled heroes on this map if everything goes according to plan, the structure grants you a huge increase in daily gold supply. This will become important on day 4.

In any case, train a second hero and start scouting. In my game, my starting hero was Mephala and I immediately trained Gem. I grabbed as many treasure chests as I could and also recruited elves in the northeast. My goal was to cobble up a rag-tag army to fight the pikemen in the southeast and the centaurs in the northeast.

Day 1: Since I only had 12 wood left in my treasury, I immediately built a marketplace.

Day 2: I constructed a town hall.

Day 3: I constructed a mage guild.

Day 4: The day begins with a message that bandits have stolen 1 unit of wood. This means I only have 1 unit of wood left in my treasury. I need to get some wood. I spend the day building a citidel, which only requires gold and ore. I also attack the centaurs to the northwest, grab the artifact, and take the 2 units of wood. I now have 3 units of wood in my treasury.

Day 5: The day begins with a message that I've lost 1 unit of wood and 3,500 gold pieces. I have 2 units of wood left. I attack the centaurs to the southwest and take the 3 units of wood. Now I have 5 units of wood. I immediately build a blacksmith. This depletes my entire stock of wood, but enables me to build a city hall next turn.

Day 6: I lose 3,500 gold immediately. I use the rest of the day to build a city hall, which only costs gold.

Day 7: I attack the pikemen and halberdiers in the southeast and take 2 units of wood and treasure chests of gold. I still need 8 units of wood to build a castle. To obtain this, I go to my marketplace and trade all of my mercury, sulfur, gems, and crystals (but not ore) for wood. I have 10 units of wood and immediately build a castle.

Week 2, Day 1: I build the capitol for 10,000 gold and complete the map.

I didn't really bother exploring the rest of the map this time around.

I remember playing this map back in 1998 and getting really frustrated by the lack of wood. As I recall, there are no sawmills on the map. So after you've exhausted all of the random piles of wood on the map, you have to rely on your marketplace for everything.

Therefore, the longer it takes to build each structure, the more challenging the map becomes. On this map, the biggest challenge is overcoming one's own tendencies to play defensively. Right off the bat, the map gives you a choice between 12 wood and a bunch of overpowered dendroids. Without the foreknowledge that wood is a scarce resource, 9 out of 10 players will pick the dendroids.

Similarly, the presence of an enemy team is designed to trick you into thinking the map will be combat-heavy. It's not. But if you waste wood building centaur stables, you've just shot yourself in the foot. Ironically, the fastest way to complete the mission is to shut out all distractions, leave your town unguarded, and focus all energy on constructing a capitol.

I don't believe I've become a better Heroes player since 1998. But I do think I've gotten more used to these cleverly designed 'puzzle maps.'

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