Central America TWC is a new random map for Single-player or Multiplayer use, only for The War Chiefs Xpack. This is a revision of the Central America map released earlier; the only new feature is the inclusion of the Zapotec natives. There has also been an update to fix minor bugs.
The map starts opponents on opposite shores of the Central American isthmus, which you must cross to engage the enemy. The setup is a little like the old AOK map Scandinavia, except that the map is slightly rectangular. The players occupy the more distant ends of the longer dimension, which is 1.6x the shorter dimension (and size varies, like the standard ES maps, by player number). This gives a slightly 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 somewhat larger than the standard ES maps.
The terrain is the jungle pattern found on the ES Amazonia and Yucatan maps. The cnetral area on the map is a rugged highlands with several passes thru the mountainous area. There is more variation in elevation than on the standard ES maps. The central highlands can influence gameplay by acting as a partial natural barrier (but there is never a complete barrier to land passage across the map).
The Native Americans used will vary, and can include Maya, Aztec, Zapotec and/or Tupi (using some 'artistic license' to give more options for NA combinations). There can be one or two types of natives per map, in varying number and location. There are always at least 2 NA 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. 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 3 different types of routes, each with a few possible patterns and numbers of Trade Post placement. For example, there can be a pair of routes from side-to-side, or a single diagonal route that cuts across the map.
This is a rich map. The food resources on each map can vary slightly. There are always several '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. Cattle are used for the domestic animals, which are present in good numbers. There are extra berries at the start area and some scattered about the map. All of the maps have many 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). All maps have 2 silver mines per player near the start area (though the second is just out of the starting screen), with an additional few per player further off. Frequently some of the distant mines will be gold mines rather than silver mines, which provide much more coin. Forests are placed fairly and are placed in greater number than on most maps, and all players have a few small clumps of trees near the start area to be sure initial wood access is equal. Some extra resources - mines, huntable fauna and cows - are more concetrated in the central highland area.
Treasures or nuggets are placed in increased numbers and are keyed to the map type or pattern - a total of 6 per player per map - 2 of the easy ones nearby, and 4 of increased difficulty further off; there are also a few extra treasures placed in the highlands area.
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 larger map, scouting is slower than on the standard maps, and rushing is changed and delayed somewhat, 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 NA villages, the opportunity to use larger numbers of native warriors is a lot of fun. Sometimes the map allows for the possibility of a defensive stance, walling off or towering choke points around or through cliffs, although the size of the map may make it difficult.
Although this map was designed for 2-team play, you can 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. Play FFA at your own risk, as there is the possiblility of unfair player placement. The more centrally located players in FFA will have more difficult access to the seas.
To play this map, the two files (Central America TWC.xs and Central America TWC.xml) must be placed in the folder: My Documents\My Games\Age of Empires 3\RM2 (not the RM folder for the original game version). 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.
NOTE: This is an edited version to correct problems in the original - the occasional unbuildable native trading post problem (due to one of the native types being improperly enabled - thanks to Darthcast for helping me realize the problem) and the one "too-bright" lighting variation. I have also tried to eliminate the possibility of the trade route trade posts being occasionally unbuildable, but due to the irregular contours on this map I am not entirely sure that the problem will not recur. Please let me know if this happens a significant amount of times.
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