A random map script for AOE3: The Asian Dynasties
Transcontinental TAD is a new random map for Single-player or Multiplayer use. This map script is an update of the AOE3 and TWC versions with new natives and additional terrain patterns, and a few minor other changes. The basic description follows, but the new features include an additional 9 terrain patterns(new patterns are based the terrains found on Honshu, Yellow River, Indochina-Borneo, Ceylon, Deccan, Himalayas, Mongolia, Siberia and a made-up Green Siberia), with appropriate natives, forest, fauna, and treasures. Terrain patterns and features are from the entire AOE3 series. Mine types are now random, with a 1/10 chance of having all gold mines and a chance of distant mines being gold mines rather than the standard value mines. There is a random possibility of a few more herdables and berries about the maps, though if playing as Japanese consider having decks with cherry orchards available since the arctic or winter-type maps do not have berries. There are also a few new treasure options. For the Honshu, Borneo and Ceylon terrain pattern maps there are water treasures available, for some Asian maps there may be team treasures available, and for some Asian maps there may be a treasure near the starting areas giving a Mongol scout unit (like on the Mongolia map) - very helpful on this large map. Other new features include a 1/5 chance for all maps of getting a few extra resource crates (0-3 crates of food and 0-2 crates of wood and gold) and adding to all maps a 1/6 chance that the closest starting mine would be 'towered' like on the new Siberia map. There is also support for King of the Hill gameplay.
The map starts opponents on opposite shores of a continent, which you must cross to engage the enemy. The setup is a little like the old AOK map Scandinavia, except that the map is rectangular. The players occupy the more distant ends of the longer dimension, which is 2.35x the shorter dimension (and size varies, like the standard ES maps, by player number). This gives a lot longer distance to the enemy than on standard maps. Player starting positions will randomly vary among 4 starting quadrants, as the direction of the orientation of the rectangle can vary along 2 different axes. The map is significantly larger than the standard ES maps - for example in a 2-player game it is well over twice the area of Carolina. Because of the size, players with slow computers or connection problems should attempt playing with larger player numbers at their own risk.
The script includes a wide variety of randomly chosen terrain patterns possible (37 patterns total), each with fauna, treasures, and decorations to fit the theme. In crossing this 'continent' to attack the enemy, you can encounter a wide variety of different terrain features, including rivers, forests, lakes, ponds, cliffs, plains, deserts, jungles, valleys, mountains and ridges, which will vary from map to map (not all of these on the same map - it does not represent a real continent!). On this map there can be more variation in elevation than on the standard ES maps, and the above listed terrain features are not just included for appearance - their presence can influence gameplay by acting as natural barriers (but there is never a complete barrier to land passage across the map).
The Natives also roughly fit the terrain patterns as well, with some 'artistic license' to give more options for native combinations. There can be one or two types of natives per map, in varying number and location. There are always at least 2 native villages, but there can be as many as 6 on a 2-player map or 12 on an 8 player map, partly depending on player number and partly on the pattern randomly selected. The native villages can be placed one or two per player or at certain places along a map axis or per side of the map. This gives a great variety in possible map play and strategies. The native villages are placed roughly symmetrically for the purpose of fairness in gameplay.
Trade Routes randomly vary between 10 different types of routes, each with a few possible patterns of Trade Post placement. For example, there can be a pair of long routes from shore-to-shore, there can be 1, 2 or 3 routes that travel from side-to-side, or a single loop which travels around the map.
The food resources on each map can vary slightly. There are always 4-5 'herds' of some type per player - the numbers vary randomly but herds are placed at the same number per player, and types will vary per map theme. Given the size of the map some of the herds are quite distant from start areas. Most of the maps have goats, yaks, water buffalos, sheep, cows or llamas (but not in the arctic or jungle). Most of the terrain patterns have some berries (not the snow patterns) at the start area, and extra on the some of the maps. All of the maps have some fish and whales in the neighboring sea (numbers vary a little and are also scaled per player), which provides a protected place for resource gathering (the enemy would have to send a villager the entire length of the map to put up a dock to get warships into the sea at the opposite end). Note that fish will appear in larger central lakes and in some of the central river patterns, though not in great numbers, and there are no fish in the smaller ponds. There is a 25% chance of 2 instead of 1 starting mines per player near the start area, with an additional several per player further off. Forests are placed fairly and are scaled better than on the large ES maps, and all players have a few small clumps of trees near the start area to be sure initial wood access is equal; forest can also vary in amount per map with some small clearings or treeless areas intended.
Treasues or nuggets are placed in increased numbers and are keyed to the map type or pattern - always 2 of the easy ones nearby, and 4 or more of increased difficulty further off. See the first paragraph for description of some possible additional special treasures.
This map has an amazing number of randomly chosen variations possible - each of the 37 terrain patterns or 'skins' can have 2 lighting sets for a variety of appearances, at least 2 different patterns of fauna choices, and each has at least a few variants in the possible terrain features. Each map has the above-mentioned multiple variations in Native and Trade Route patterns, and the player starting positions vary. Other features that have been randomly varied include the number, size and shape and height of cliffs, the size, density and underbrush of forests, the size and number of lakes, forested hills or elevation, and many other features.
In my testing this map produces extremely fair, balanced maps for 2 team play with a wide variety of possible strategies. Effective play involves scouting the various resources, Native types, Trade Routes, map terrain, and of course, the enemy. Being a much larger map, scouting is much slower, and rushing is changed and delayed significantly, affecting gameplay and causing the need to consider new strategies. It is much easier to take to the water for fishing on this map due to the lessened effect of a rush and the safe haven noted above. On maps with increased numbers of native villages, the opportunity to use larger numbers of native warriors is a lot of fun. I find that on larger maps like this, an effective cavalry strike force is more valuable than on smaller maps, and is helpful to respond to attacks in different locations. Some of the map variations allow for the possibility of a defensive stance, walling off choke points around cliffs or mountains or lakes, although the size of the map may make it difficult.
Although this map was designed for 2-team play, you can attempt to play FFA. However, players in FFA are spaced randomly in an oval about the map, not lined up along the coasts as in 2-team play, and all may not have equal access to the seas. Play FFA at your own risk, as there is the possiblility of unfair player placement or even dropped starting resources.
To play this map, the two files (Transcontinental TAD.xs and Transcontinental TAD.xml) must be placed in the folder: My Documents\My Games\Age of Empires 3\RM3. Please do not place them in the game's install folder - that will not work. When you start up a skirmish game in Single-player or Multiplayer, use the small blue 'Custom Map' button, which allows you to then select one of the random maps in that My Games folder from the drop-down window. The files will transfer in Multiplayer if your allies or opponents have not downloaded the files. Please do not edit the files or you will have compatability problems in Multiplayer. This map script will not work properly in the original AOE3 and TWC.
If you prefer a map with only the Asian lands and natives - see my similar map Transcontinental Asian.
Special thanks to Felix Hermansson for demonstrating in his King of the Valley map a technique for making impassable mountains which I have expanded on for one of the terrain variations on my map.
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Gandalf 5 stars
Map Design: 5
Gandalf 5 stars