Myth II: Soulblighter a tribute
Released: December 1998
Developer: Bungie Software
Platform: Hybrid Mac/PC
In the world of modern game development the primary selling point is hot graphics. But what makes a game great has always been the same: compelling gameplay. When Myth: The Fallen Lords was released on November 14, 1997, no one disputed Bungie's graphical prowess. The visceral explosions sending limbs flying across the map, the pools of blood staining the terrain, and the free camera view were just a few of the aspects that gave Myth unprecedented realism and satisfied the bloodlust of the most hardcore action fan. Myth was the first RTS to use a realistic physics engine, and even the earliest demo movies had gamers wetting themselves in anticipation. The revolutionary gameplay, on the other hand, was not so immediately apparent. Bungie figured out exactly what's necessary to accurately control dozens of troops on a field of battle, and the level of skill made possible is frightening indeed. The first Myth was a work of genius.
Myth II: Soulblighter was the refinement and utter perfection of that vision. In just over a year they created the second version of the game with double the units, double the map resolution, double the animation frames, several new multiplayer game types, indoor environments, more balanced maps, map and tag editors to build your own campaigns, and (as always with Bungie) a compelling second chapter to the single-player saga.
After Myth II, Bungie sold the franchise to a third party to create Myth III, a fully 3d-model based version of the game (ie. no sprites). Though well-conceived, Myth III turned out to be a buggy disaster as the publisher rushed out an incomplete product. Open source developers fixed many of the problems, but it was too late to save the game. Today Myth II remains the defining game in this epic series.
Myth multiplayer was based around Bungie.net, an in-house meta-server with rankings and chat facilities. Bungie also supported Myth Orders; official teams of players that could compete against each other for team rankings. Unlike some other online services, Bungie.net was known for being relatively cheat-free and overall pretty stable. Unfortunately some time after Microsoft acquired Bungie they were unable to support Bungie.net and it was officially closed on February 15, 2002.
Of course a game as great as Myth does not simply die. Thankfully Bungie open-sourced the server code, and the first replacement MariusNet was available immediately. Eventually Playmyth.net was also opened, fully restoring ranked and order play. Developers at projectmagma.net have done major work on the Myth series, recently releasing Myth II v1.5 which is a significant improvement over Bungie's canonical v1.3. They added many features such as OS X native support, and updated OpenGL support with status bar and water transparency. Work has begun on raising Myth III to the new standards as well.
Myth's Golden Age
For 3 years, from 1998 through 2000, Myth was a thriving community. It was a game that attracted a cultish yet diverse following. In those early days, there was a lot of experimentation with different maps and game types. There were regular tournaments of varying format with significant prizes. Map and mod makers flooded the scene with all kinds of total conversions and new maps. Orders such as Geezers from Hell and Ancrik created a welcoming environment for players of all skill levels to try out different games. The community was unique in the gaming world. At a time when I had mostly given up on online gaming as the domain of repressed pre-pubescent boys, Myth was my last hurrah!
These days Myth is still around, but the sense of community is largely gone. A few of the old hands are still around, but it seems the majority of players have big-fish-in-small-pond syndrome with no interest in the diversity that once made Myth great. As the inbred remains wither, I'm struck with a nostalgic melancholy about the fact that there were really only one or two years where this game fully lived up to its promise. This node is my tribute to the greatest real time strategy game ever created, and also what is likely to be the last of my on-line gaming experiences.
Myth uses a large number of keys, but they are well-organized and give the RTS player unprecedented control. The controls are:
Pan camera: W,A,S,D and the edges of the screen allow you to pan the camera in straight lines.
Orbit camera: Q and E allow you to orbit around the current focal point of the camera.
Zoom camera: Z and X zoom in and out on the action, usually it's best to be all the way zoomed out.
Selecting Units: Clicking a friendly unit selects it, double-clicking selects all nearby units of the same type, and you can drag to select a group of units using a rectangular bounding box.
Unit Presets: Command/Alt + Number allow you set unit presets. You must hold the number for a couple seconds to set the preset, anything less than that simply selects the preset (presets start out empty). Presets allow you to issue commands faster, and without even have your units on screen.
Moving: Once you have some unit(s) selected, moving is as simple as clicking on the ground somewhere. You may alternately option/right-click on the overhead map which allows you to move units when you can't remove your attention from a particular area. A gesture click will tell your units which way to face. option/right-clicking draws an arrow on the ground and lets you face the units in a specific direction with more precision than a gesture click.
Formations: If you have some units selected hitting a number key will select a formation for you units to take on the next place you move them. Formations are one of the key innovations that allow Myth to work as well as it does, more on these below.
Attacking: Clicking on an enemy will tell the selected units to attack it, but units will also attack on their own if an enemy unit comes within range. Control-clicking the ground will cause units to attack that spot which is useful for units that are dodging your missile attacks.
Misc Commands: Other commands you can issue to selected troops are: special action (T) (varies from unit to unit), scatter (V), retreat (R), guard (G), stop moving/firing (Space), taunt(U).
Myth tactics are very true to life (at least before mechanized warfare). In general you want to attack from higher ground and with superior forces, but since Myth does not involve any production of units, you will generally have an equal force to your opponent, and since maps are balanced you may find it hard to get a height advantage. Given those facts you have to outplay your opponent, here's how:
Dodging: Archers and other missile units will lead their targets, so if you change direction frequently you will be very hard to hit, especially from long range. Keep your units spread out so that shots intended for one unit don't hit his neighbor.
Anticipate Dodging: Good players will keep their archers dodging before every volley from your archers. Learn to predict this and control-click where you anticipate they will dodge too.
Attack from outside range: Key to dwarves and warlocks is control-clicking on the ground just before you get into enemy range. That way you can dodge their attack, and with any luck they will walk right into yours!
Don't click to attack with melee: When you click to attack a group, all your units pick a single unit to target. Unfortunately as the writhing mass shifts they often get cut off before they can get to their target. Sometimes they will even get cut down without doing any damage as they try to reach a unit in the rear. To avoid this, simply stand your units up in a tight formation next to the enemy. They will all attack the nearest unit which is a much better approach to take.
Micromanage melee: This was even more important in the original Myth because units had quite a bit of 'personal space', so it could be hard for all your units to get engaged. But even in Myth II, you need to make sure that all your units are attacking in a melee battle, preferably against the weakest/most dangerous enemy units.
In multiplayer you will usually be given the option to trade units from a specified group of options.
Warrior (2pts): Basic melee unit, relatively slow but has a shield which it will randomly use to defend against melee attacks.
Berzerk (3pts): Fast melee unit with a long sword.
Archer (3pts): Shoots arrows, usually carries one flame arrow that can be used with the T key to set the ground on fire, igniting any explosives and burning most types of units that walk over it. Also carries a knife with which to stab units at close range, but this only works
Dwarf (6pts): Throws molotov cocktails a short distance. Also carries satchel charges that can be layed on the ground using T then ignited at range by a cocktail, a flaming arrow, or an exploding pus packet.
Mortar Dwarf (8pts): A dwarf that fires mortar shells almost as far as archers shoot. They do not carry satchel charges. The mortar shells, unlike cocktails will explode in water.
Journeyman (6pts): A slow melee unit mostly used for healing other units. Carries 6 roots for this purpose (activate using T). Attacks slower than warriors, but has more health.
Heron Guard (3pts): A fast melee unit on par with a berzerk that carries double swords and can heal units just like Journeymen, they generally start with only one root however.
Warlock (8pts): A black mage that can shoot fireballs that float slowly over any the terrain, exploding if they hit too steep of an upslope. They are limited by slowly recharging mana which, when full, is sufficient for two fireballs. Depending on the map either has a protective ring of fire or a confusion spell that is activated by the T key. It's also worth noting that this unit is not affected by fire damage from flaming arrows.
Thrall (1pt): A slow undead unit that has a lot of health, and can go underwater, but is generally fodder for dwarves and other missile units. Since it only costs 1 point, it is very useful for overwhelming melee.
Stygian Knight (3pts): A re-animated suit of armor that moves with the same speed as a warrior, but has no shield and does more damage with it's axe. Also is completely impervious to arrows and javelins.
Wight (3pts): A bloated corpse filled with gas that explodes when shot, or of it's own accord (hit T). Upon explosion it will do a lot of damage to nearby units, and paralyze all but Journeymen (due to their protective coat). This unit can be healed by Journeymen or Heron Guards, leaving two large exploding puss packets (and a number of small non-exploding pieces that merely paralyze a single unit) that can be used by ghols. Wights can hide under water, which is their primary means of sneaking up on people. See pus bomb under special tactics.
Ghol (2pts): A fast but weak melee unit that has the ability to pick up and throw things. Generally useless in a melee battle, but can still overwhelm with superior numbers. Mostly useful for scouting, pusing, and taking out missile units.
Soulless (3pts): Undead missile unit that can float over water and uneven terrain. Throws poisoned javelins that cause slightly more damage than archer arrows, but with slightly less range. They are ethereal, so arrows can pass through them, injuring multiple souls in one shot (aim for the rear ones when they're bunched).
Fetch (6pts): Evil creature summoned from another dimension with the ability to shoot lightning. Slow and fragile, but infuriatingly dangerous, especially in numbers. Lighting will arc to nearby units, and it will reflect off water giving you slightly greater range. The lightning will also destroy any arrows, spears, or cocktails anywhere nearby, so they are quite a good match against archers and unbeatable against dwarves. Dwarves and fetch near each other have a tendency to explode when you're not looking.
Maul (4pts): Big lumbering beasts that take a lot of damage and give a lot of damage with each swing of their club. Best softened up with cocktails and fireballs before attacking with melee.
Myrkridia (3pts): Nasty clawed beasts that move fast and do a lot of damage fast. When they reach 15-20% health they pause for a moment to go insane then attack the nearest unit friend or foe.
Cave Spider (1pt): Extremely fragile melee unit that moves fast and can traverse any terrain. They can do quite a bit of damage in numbers, but can be killed by one or two hits from any unit. Fetch are particularly effective against these units, and they are mostly good for scouting, killing soulless and ball manipulation.
Trow (24pts): Giant muscle-bound loin-cloth-wearing warrior race. One kick can kill most units. Warriors and berserks can sometimes survive a kick, and mauls always do, but nothing can survive two kicks. At 10% health the trow will turn to stone, at which point he can still be healed, but will require two heals to get up to max possible health.
Myrkridia Giant (32pts): Giant myrkridia, attacks in a similar fashion, killing marginally faster than smaller myrkridia. Surprisingly vulnerable to explosive attacks, and not worth their cost in a melee fight. Has the annoying ability the throw a handful of explosive acorns a pretty good distance.
Bre-Unor (3pts): Rare unit that combines average melee ability with a short range missile attack that appears to be flying bones of some sort.
Wolf (2pt): Fast, weak unit that does a good amount of damage, especially in numbers.
Gimble in the Wabe / Gyre in the Wabe
Wooded hilly terrain with 3 deep pools and a central three-pronged hill with some shallow water around the central flag. Gimble features a standard mix of thrall, warriors, archers, dwarves, journeymen, and ghols. Gyre is a more fast-paced set of heron guards, berserks, mauls, fetch, and soulless. Both have wights.
This map has 6 starts, and is a popular choice for Capture the Flag free-for-all style, because there are 3 evenly balanced pairs of starts. Virtually all game types work great on this map very well.
Demise on the Plains / Raid on the Plains
This is a 5-start map with a gently sloping dome-shaped hill in the middle and high ground along the edges. Demise features heron guard heroes, ghols, wights, archers, dwarves, warrior and thrall. Raid is all based around the Myrkridia Giant who is supported by heron guards, berserks, mortar dwarves, and warlocks.
Raid was known as the first rank whore map as it is dominated by the myrkridian giant's explosive attack which has many subtleties but is fairly easy to master. Playing without unit-trading is actually very interesting variation.
Untamed Lands / Badlands
These are 4 player maps with a big central crater and a series of hilly ledges around it. The edge of the map is scattered with trees and one large deep pool for hiding wights and thrall. Untamed lands features features standard 'Light' unit mix of archers, dwarves, warriors, journeymen, ghols, wights and thrall. Badlands has the heavy-hitting mix of warlocks, soulless, berserks, heron guards, myrkridia, and spiders.
Untamed Lands Last Man on the Hill has different units, only thrall, journeymen, dwarves and wights. This unit mix was pioneered by all players agreeing to trade for only those units on the popular Myth I map called "For Carnage Apply Within" and is affectionately known as Slugfest.
Dead Man's Chest / Dead Man's Float
A central island is surrounded by shallow water with deep wight pools scattered about and 6 player starts. The edge of the map has a variety of beach-like terrain and small hills. These maps are both excellent for King of the Hill which was much popularized in Myth II over Myth I due to the improved rules. Chest is Light units: ghols, thrall, warriors, archers, dwarves, journeymen and wights. Float has Dark units: ghols, berserks, heron guard hero, dwarf heroes, soulless, thrall, and wights.
Chest also has a Slugfest variant like Untamed Lands, but it occurs on Assassin, where you are given 6 dwarf heroes as your assassin units (see Game Types below) along with the ability to trade for thrall, wights, and journeymen.
I'll Fall on your Grave / I'll Fall on your Spiderweb
This is a remake of the Myth I maps called Dance instead of Fall. They also changed the colors to be Autumn-like, but otherwise it is exactly the same. They even removed the flaming arrows from the archers to be more true to the original. These are 5-start maps (5 starts was typical of Myth I maps, whereas Myth II favored the more evenly balanced 6 starts with no one in the middle) with a slightly elevated table-top hill in the middle, and a shallow river running along the east of the map. Grave has archers, dwarves, warriors, journeymen, ghols, thrall and one wight. Spiderweb has spiders, fetch, berserks, soulless, thrall and wights.
A 4-player map with only one version... a unique mix of archers, mortar dwarves, warlocks, thrall, warriors, ghols, journeymen, and wights. The map has three sets of low-walled ruins, the middle one with two cracked walls that can be destroyed by mortar dwarves creating another entrance. The map is mostly flat with a few notable hills and small pools scattered around.
This map was the most radical departure from anything in Myth I, and is quite a bit of fun, but is probably the second most unpopular of the free-for-all maps for some reason. Probably the ability for slow moving units to be snuck up on and eviscerated by heavy duty firepower is a turnoff for some people.
Killing Grounds / Proving Grounds
A 6-starter stadium-style map. The playable area of the map is a flat arena with a few columns scattered about (you can't see the ceiling) surrounded by water and hooting spectators behind a fence. There is very little tactical advantage to be gained from terrain here, though the pillars can occassionally be helpful. Killing grounds is a relatively rarely-played map of mostly Light units: warriors, heron guard heroes, archers, dwarves, wights, thrall and ghols. Proving grounds on the other hand is an extremely common map for Body Count and King of the Hill featuring trow, mauls, berserks, heron guards, mortar dwarves, and warlocks.
Drowned Kingdom / Drowned Empire
The most unpopular map. It is unique in that the two variants are the same units except with wither 6 starts on Kingdom or 2 starts on Empire. This is a dismal rainy map with many islands and pools scattered around the map with the occasional large impassible hill for soulless stakeouts. The units are warriors, thrall, stygian knights, ghols, soulless, dwarves, wights, and journeymen.
I'm surprised this map is so unpopular, because it really has a lot going for it. For one thing it's the ultimate wight map, because there are many pools, even near the central hill so you can sneak wights up on people a lot. Another cool thing is all the stream crossings make it a great place to make satchel traps (see the Hidden Threat technique below). Another thing is the weather. When the rain falls the dwarf bombs start to go out and the balance of power shifts dramatically.
At least once during your Myth career you must play Stampede on Drowned Kingdom. The stampede units are wights, and lots of 'em! There's nothing quite like the challenge of threading legions of high explosive units right to the middle of the map without blowing up. I guarantee you will see pus bouncing around no matter where you are on the map.
The Desert Between Your Ears / If I had a Trow...
The other remake from Myth I. This is the quintessential 2-team map. A relatively flat desert map with a river running down the middle separated by three evenly-space crossing points. Desert comes with legions of archers, dwarves, warriors, thrall, ghols, wights and journeymen. Trow comes with (you guessed it) trow, soulless, fetch, dwarf heroes, mauls, myrkridia and wights.
The Dead of Winter
Another 2-team river map. This one is based around a diagonal river, with high ground on either side and armies made of warriors, ghols, thrall, dwarves, stygian knights, archers, journeymen, and wights. The snow has a slight stifling effect on the dwarves explosive effectiveness, but they are still very lethal (especially with many height advantages).
Cracks in the Cloudspine / Clash in the Cloudspine
This is the most innovative team map in Myth II. Each team starts in an extremely high-walled keep that has three entrances. In the middle is a moderate hill, and the rest of the map is a series of narrow passageways with strategic overlooks placed throughout. The high walls and overlooks give dwarves a commanding presence, but the tradeoff is accessibility. A dwarf up on a wall has to walk a long way to walk before he can get anywhere else, and is easily cornered if enemies get past his defense. Cracks features: thrall, warriors, stygian knights, archers, dwarves, ghols, journeymen and wights. Clash features: trow, bre'unor (the only map with them), berserks, myrkridia, mortar dwarves, soulless and warlocks.
Body Count: Whoever does the most damage wins. Some people play every game like this.
Last Man on the Hill: The last person to control the central flag at the end of game uncontested for 5 seconds at the end of the game wins. This game type works for all numbers of players, and is very popular, but sometimes leads to a lot of camping.
Steal the Bacon: The same as last man on the hill, but the flag is a ball which your units can kick around. This makes it possible to move the ball to a more defensible location of your choice. Be careful though, your opponents will be on your tail!
King of the Hill: Each player gets a timer that keeps track of the amount of time they have at least one unit within contesting range of the flag. This is perhaps the most dynamic game, but also the easiest to spoil somebody. Sometimes moving your whole army onto the flag right away and defending it will win out, sometimes it's better to thread a few units up on the hill at a time, saving the bulk of your army for a final assault.
Flag Rally: A series of numbered flags is placed around the map, the first person to touch all the flags, or the touch the most flags at the end of the time limit wins.
Territories: Essentially Last Man on the Hill with multiple flags. Winning this is a true artform, as you need to split up your troops to get the most flags, but also watch them to make sure they don't get all eaten up. Flag contention can go on for several minutes after the end of the allotted time, so the game can have massive swings. Very fun for those who enjoy strategy, not so much for those who prefer a straight fight.
Captures: Territories with balls. Easier to control than territories, because you can bring the balls you capture with you. Somewhat annoying because people can blast the balls into hard-to-reach places, especially along the edge of the map.
Capture the Flag: Each player gets a flag that they must defend. If at any time a player has no flags they are instantly eliminated. The rules are much like territories except you must always control a flag. Also, ties are possible in CTF, whereas in territories there is always a winner.
Balls on Parade: CTF with balls. There have been bugs with this game type, and it is rarely played.
Hunting: Some neutral units are scattered around the map, and the person to kill the most wins. Units on different maps include birds, deer, pigs, scarecrows, and peasants.
Stampede: Each player gets some special units which they must race to the flag in the center where they then disappear. The first player to get the most of his/her special units in to the flag wins.
Assassin: Each player gets one or more special units which are the assassin targets. If a player loses all his or her targets they are instanly eliminated. The player to kill the most targets first wins.
Scavenger Hunt: Flag Rally with balls. Hardly anyone plays this, but it's very fun. A twist to this game is that the balls do not appear on the overhead map, although you can see them by actually following them with the camera (even if you are not within range to see the units in that area). The main strategy is to make sure you know where the other balls you haven't tagged yet are at all times while defending your own ball.
Special Tactics & Strategies
Hiding Dwarf: Dwarves are small and can sometimes hide in bushes. Even though Myth uses sprites, and thus no unit can be hidden from all angles, in many circumstances you can bet your opponent will have his camera view facing you. Just one cocktail can decimate a group of enemy melee if undetected.
Cocktail Combo: When cocktails hit water they go out instantly, and occasionally they will go out on dry land. When this happens, you can throw a second cocktail right next to the first one. Often times this will ignite and propel the cocktail almost twice again as far as your dwarf can throw. If you throw cocktails into the far edge of a stream or pool of water it will go out then bounce onto dry land where you can use this technique on unsuspecting enemy units.
Pus Bomb: This is one of the most fiendishly brutal techniques in Myth, though most players have gotten wise to it. Have a couple ghols pick up satchels, and a couple with exploding pus. The first ghols charge into a group of enemy melee who cluster around the enemy ghols. Just as the enemy sees the satchel, the second ghols release their pus and blow all the units sky high. It can be hard to execute, but even if it only works one in ten times it's the most satisfying Myth experience.
Death Throw: When your dwarf is getting killed by a tall melee unit there is usually no getting away (unless it's a thrall), sometimes there are even 5 or 10 units after your dwarf. If you lay a satchel then control click the ground a ways behind your attacker, your dwarf will throw a suicidal cocktail right in the enemy's face blowing up the satchel and causing serious damage to everything in the vicinity.
Hidden Threat: Also known as Satchel Surprise, this technique relies on hiding a bunch of satchel charges in a water crossing, then igniting them when a mass of enemies comes across. This can be done by laying a string of satchels to a hidden wight in deep water, throwing pus in, hitting a crossing unit in the head with a cocktail, or any other nearby explosion.
Dwarf Kick Defense: When a trow kicks a dwarf holding satchels the dwarf will explode, doing a small but significant amount of damage to the trow. However, dropping satchels before the kick will create a bigger explosion that does more damage. You must be careful to retain at least one satchel or the dwarf won't explode, but if you can drop 7 satchels by the time the trow gets to you, the explosion will remove over half his health.
Trow Flank: The typical method of taking out a trow is to swarm him with melee units, typically a dozen or more. The trow should never engage a large force by himself. The best method is to have a large group of your own melee units engage the enemy force then have your trow come up from the side and kick the enemy units one by one. When done properly you will decimate the enemy without much damage to your trow. If the enemy targets your trow exclusively, simply retreat and let your melee chew them up. Beware never to let your trow get trapped in between the two groups of melee.
Fireball Block: Warlock fireballs are perhaps the most damaging explosions in Myth, but due to their large size and slow-moving nature, they are thankfully very easy to block. Usually when you get in a big melee battle on a map containing warlocks, some warlock will try to come up behind you and decimate your troops. The best course of action is to select a single unit and have him run right towards the fireball, detonating it before it gets in range to hurt your main forces.
Myrkridia Rebellion: When a myrkridia gets hurt to a certain point they will go insane and attack the nearest unit. You can take advantage of this by targeting approaching myrkridia with archers until they reach this point then stopping just before it's killed. The rebel myrkridia will usually take out one or more of his fellows before they realize what's happened.
Start Memorizing: In FFA games, the names are always listed in the same order according what starts they are at. Knowing who's on either side of you can play a big role in deciding on a strategy.
Map Scanning: Even though you can't see things far outside the range of your units, you can still move the camera anywhere on the map and check for tell-tale signs such as explosions, blood stains, and healed wights. Formerly you could also see ripples of units moving through water and hear the sounds of Trow walking around, but I believe this has been disabled in the latest open source version.
Melee Rush: This is a strategy of trading for all melee units so you have an overwhelming force, and simply rushing your enemy. This is a very risky strategy, but one that often pays off if done skillfully. The key is to keep your units scattered enough to avoid significant explosive damage. If the enemy has many dwarves/warlocks/fetch then this is likely to turn out bad for you. Nevertheless, you will catch people off guard with this, just don't do it all the time.
Ball Blast: Explosive force in Myth is proportional to the amount of explosives. If you lay 8 satchel charges next to a ball, and blow it up, the ball will bounce around the inside of the map ricocheting off the edges many times before it slows down. With judicious placement of a couple satchels, an explosion can move the ball across the map in a controlled manner. If done at the right time, this can guarantee your victory just as your enemies approach for the final assault.
Rally Steal: In Flag Rally, you will usually want to defend at least one flag from all attackers as long as you can. That way if you manage to get all but one flag, you can simply sit on your own flag and camp it out. The best way to get flags without too much trouble is to fan out a few of your fastest units to the vicinity of all flags. If you see units that the owner isn't watching, you can often lure them off a by running your fast unit nearby so they attempt to attack, then turning around to tag the flag.
Camping: This is the most fundamental strategy for Last Man on the Hill, simply wait til your enemies soften each other up enough, then rush in for the victory. The problem is someone may win before you get to the flag, and people will hate your guts so much they may rush you next game.