Implemented in August 2015, after The International 5 and as part of the Source 2/Reborn client, the Arcade allows homegrown developers to try their hand at creating their own custom game modes. Custom game support is much like how predecessor DotA was built in Warcraft III, only this time, Valve makes the process smoother for developers.
This is a pilot of Arcade Night, in which The Flying Courier site lead Victoria visits (or re-visits) custom games across the Arcade/Workshop. You can check out last week’s feature on Troll & Elves 2 and leave suggestions in the comments!
Okay, I’ll admit: I’m hooked on tower defense. You get a spot, you build stuff, you pray something like RNG or a mistimed attack doesn’t trip you up.
But this week’s selection of Legion TD Reborn wasn’t made on that fact alone; I actually found a friend playing and joined in. Strangely, as we set up, I found it to be extremely familiar.
After a bit of full-on gameplay, I had a quick realization: I knew this game. Just not in this form.
Legion TD is a pretty old but well-respected custom game, starting with its Warcraft 3 iteration. It garnered such popularity over the years that eventually, they began work on a Starcraft 2 iteration. But that wasn’t going to do it.
Instead of sticking to their original platforms, the original developers, ambitious to reach a wider audience, made a Kickstarter for a standalone edition of Legion TD 2 in 2016. The Kickstarter got $66,487, well over its $50,000 goal, and off they went. This game is now in Steam as an Early Access title for $20. (Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be doing too well in reviews.)
For those who want a more comfortable and (relatively) stable environment, there’s always Legion TD Reborn. The “Reborn” title acts as a double-entendre, representing both the “rebirth” of the game in Dota 2 and the “Reborn” client, in which official custom games were introduced. And it’s fitting to not call it “2” or to just rip the title, as it doesn’t appear to be by the same team as the original — nor is this version exactly the same as the original.
Thankfully, you don’t need to be a Warcraft or Starcraft alum to get the gist of the game. It’s a four-versus-four defense game with no direct combat, only automated units, so it’s more about strategy than skill.
The goal is to survive waves of enemies using small armies of your own. You choose one of six builders that provide unique units and quirks: Nature, Elemental, Assassin, Human and the just-released Undead, as well as a Random builder that assigns random, mixed-or-matched units.
At the start, you’re given 100 gold for units and upgrade, and you earn gold as you kill units and move through rounds. You earn Tangos over time, which allow you to buy units that go and attack the other team (unless you have certain cheats on). Each Tango purchase entitles you to an “Income” of Gold rewarded at the end of each round. You can pitch Gold in to increase the rate of Tangos you get, and you can put in Gold and Tangos for Food allow more defenders and upgrades.
When each wave moves through, either your troops kill them all or you don’t. If you do, your units move on to defend your side’s King; if not, the enemies move on to attack the King. Your Tango upgrade options include upgrades for the King, so he’s not defenseless, but you’d rather not have it come to that.
Legion TD Reborn is pretty easy to learn and not horribly difficult to master. Once you figure out how all the gears move, getting into the groove feels natural.
What’s nice is that it’s an absolutely active game, with frequent updates for balance, bugs and more. The Undead builder was actually released a week before the time of writing, adding a fresh touch, and there was a bug and balance patch several days before.
Unfortunately, as programming goes, you fix one thing and break twenty others. When I started writing this piece, there was an issue where some games crash at level 25 or 26 (after the duel). The good news was, by the time I came back to make screenshots and edit this piece, there had been two more updates since I last checked, and the bug was already fixed.
It’s worth noting that some players have figured out how to cheese the game. If you don’t pick the “Return to Sender” cheat — which, as the title describes, sends Tango units into your own side instead of the other team’s — you’re likely going to have a massive flood of enemy units swarming your lane and marching to the King. There’s really not much to do about it than bulk up Tangos, steady your lanes and harass them yourself yourself.
Overall, the experience is extremely solid. While it’s not up to the old Legion TD’s craziness yet, Legion TD is getting there as an experience of its own. With games taking up anywhere between 20 to 40 minutes, it’s a great way to kill some time if you aren’t feeling a full game of Dota.
Here are some tips to success:
- The key is a good balance of unit types, between ranged, melee and those specialized in spells. While you do need your melee tanks, they’ll get wiped out pretty fast in some waves, but your ranged units tend to be squishy.
- Don’t buy too many units or you’ll spend a lot of time, effort, Gold and Food upgrading them. At the same time, too few means they’ll die fast.
- Be sure to spend Tangos, as it’ll ensure you get consistent gold income in later rounds.
- Don’t forget to upgrade your Tango rate! If you have a setup that’s surviving waves extremely well, consider dumping gold into your Tangos.
- Upgrade your King! You never know when a wave will come stomping down towards him. While it’s not as efficient for your Income, you do get 4 Income for each upgrade.
- During the final “Infinite” waves, your units get permakilled — but you’ll be able to send units to permakill theirs. This is where your Tango rate shines!
- Don’t fuss too hard over Duels. It’s some nice extra gold and an indicator of how your team is doing, but it’s not worth stressing over.
- It’s okay to cheese.
If you plan on picking up Legion TD Reborn, you can find it in the Arcade and Workshop.
Want to see more Arcade Nights? Any games you want to see visited? Do you have any memories with Legion TD? Feel free to leave feedback!