So you’re one of the multitudes who went out and picked up a copy of Starcraft 2, ready to dive into the lore and action and be satisfied for weeks, only to find that something is…wrong.
You’ve invested hours in the campaign, completing every mission and raking in the achievements. You’ve flexed your muscles in ladder matches and completed all the “challenge” scenarios hoping to become a better player. Now it seems the content is sort of stagnating. You find yourself wandering away to play other games or even – dare I say it?- not gaming at all! Luckily there’s a fix for this, and its name is SotIS. Well, its real name is “Storm of the Imperial Sanctum,” but that’s just ridiculous to retype, so we’ll call it SotIS.
Warcraft 3 fans will immediately recognize this as a re-imagining of the popular Custom Map “Defense of the Ancients” or DotA, and with good reason. The basic tenets of the game are the same: A large map is divided into three “lanes” leading to two bases in opposing corners. Each lane is guarded by a series of “towers” (Spine Crawlers for the Zerg base and Photon Cannons for the Protoss), and each base features a key building (Zerg: Nydus Worm; Protoss: Fleet Beacon) the opposing side must destroy to bring the game to an end. Each side spawns its own “Creeps” or groups of units who charge down the lanes fighting any enemies or towers they come across.
As in DotA, you play a “hero” with unique abilities and stats. You gain experience for killing enemy creeps, players and towers; each kill also grants you money you can use to purchase upgrades from stores in your base and all over the map. As you level up, you gain points to add to the potency of your abilities or simply improve your general stats.
This is probably one of the most in-depth and complex Custom Maps I’ve ever come across in a game. The learning curve is pretty steep, and it’s difficult to just walk into a game and have any idea what’s going on. So, I’ve provided some tips I think should be useful. Bear in mind, these are just based on my experience playing the gametype:
-Read THIS. Okay, sure, I know that’s kind of a cop-out, but it does offer the most basic introduction to the game that I was able to find on the Internet, including specific guides to each of the game’s many heroes.
-Some guides will encourage new players to choose a “Random” hero until they familiarize themselves with every hero in the game. I personally feel some heroes just shouldn’t be used by anyone who doesn’t know what they’re doing. Here are some good ones for beginners:
-Tiberius Rancor: His ranged rifle allows you to stay out of the way of enemy heroes but still rack up creep kills and get crucial early levels. He also has a “field cloaking” ability that will make it easier for you to escape combat if you get in over your head. Just make sure you don’t spam the button, because the ability has a cooldown.
-Entaro Tassadar: Another ranged hero, which is super-important when you’re still mastering the fine control necessary to excel at this game. He too has an “Ellude” ability that allows him to cloak and escape from dicey situations, and his ability to spawn illusions makes him that much harder to pinpoint in the heat of battle.
-Lord Zyrkhan: If you absolutely must play a melee hero, Lord Zyrkhan is a pretty damn good choice. His “Blinkstorm” ability will let you hop in and out of combat with relative ease and efficiency, and can be used in a pinch to throw enemies off your trail. His other abilities are also straightforward and easy to use.
-Don’t be a hero: Creep-slaying can be boring work, and the tendency is to hop right in and try to start ganking enemy heroes. This can be rewarding when it works, but chances are you’re up against folks who are much better at their heroes than you are at yours. Hang back, kill Creeps for experience, and wait for advantageous moments to strike opposing players, like when you can catch them in a 2v1.
-Avoid Towers: Again, it follows logically that if killing the enemy’s main structure is the goal of the game, burning down the towers is the first step in making that happen. This is true, but towers can absolutely wreck you in the early game, and they only get a bigger punch as you move down a lane. If you’re going to attack a tower, make sure your Creeps are attacking it first. The tower will ignore you as long as it has creeps to kill.
-Try not to die: Seems self-explanatory, but a lot of new players will just hurl themselves down a lane and wind up dying twice or three times in the first few minutes of a game. Instead, try to play conservatively. Your deaths feed your opponents high amounts of money and experience, so “feeding” can give them an advantage your teammates will be hard pressed to account for. They WILL be angry with you for this. So keep your cool, stay in the back if you can, and try to play a defensive game until you’ve mastered a few heroes and know all the basics.
That’s all I can come up with for now from an advice standpoint. From a review angle I can say that SotIS looks cool, feels cool, and is most definitely worth a shot. The designers have given it a lot of polish, so that with the exception of using Starcraft’s unit skins and models, it feels like a completely different game. It’s a lot better than letting your sixty dollar purchase rot on the shelf, that’s for sure.