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Blizzard Entertainment
Strategy & War
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WarCraft III: The Frozen Throne
April 8, 2003 | Jay Swartzfeger

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Does Warcraft III even need an introduction? It's a million plus selling real time strategy game that arguably has no equal. And Blizzard Entertainment just recently announced the impending release of Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne expansion. After logging dozens of hours online with the beta, I can tell you right now this is no mere expansion; it's practically a new game.

I won't bore you with more preamble or Blizzard's deftly crafted backstory on The Frozen Throne. You want the details on what the expansion offers, and Inside Mac Games has got it. Since the beta currently has no single player campaigns, we'll focus exclusively on the multiplayer portion.

One caveat before we dive in: the beta is literally changing every update with patches. Heroes, units, spells, abilities and buildings may change or not make the cut by the time the game is officially released.

Each race now has one new hero. Some may blow you away with their new abilities, others may not be as readily useful until you try them a bit. Here?s the breakdown:

Bloodmage (Human Alliance): This hero, out of the box, probably has the biggest "wow" factor. He starts off with a choice of three spells: Flame Strike, Banish and Siphon Mana. Flame Strike is a devastatingly beautiful spell that sends a spiraling conflagration down upon an area. Banish turns a unit ethereal for a time; the unit can't attack or cast spells, but they are rendered invulnerable to physical melee attacks. Siphon Mana does just as it implies. The Bloodmage's ultimate spell is also one of the most impressive: Mark of Fire. This ultimate conjures a flaming phoenix that burns so intensely that it takes damage over time. This 1200hp beast deals serious damage. New to beta version 3.05; once a Phoenix dies, it leaves behind an egg. If that egg isn't destroyed within 10 seconds, it hatches a new Phoenix!

Overall, the Bloodmage is a great addition to the Human lineup. He's a completely different spellcaster from the Archmage. The Bloodmage seems to be a better combat spellcaster overall because of a devastating offensive ultimate and also is a good counter against enemy spellcasters because of Siphon Mana.

Shadow Hunter (Orcish Horde): Orc players, rejoice: the hero we've been waiting for is here.

Orc players really get screwed when it comes to healing. Night Elf players get healing right out of the gates. Humans require a 2nd tier unit with no upgrade. Orcs require a 2nd tier unit with two upgrades. The Shadow Hunter changes all of that.

The most important spell at his disposal is the Healing Wave, which can bounce to nearby friendly units. Hex turns an enemy into a random critters. Serpent Ward summons an immobile ward that attacks and is also immune to magic. And his ultimate, Big Bad Voodoo, is as cool as it sounds: it turns all friendly units in an area invulnerable for 30 seconds.

The Shadow Hunter may not be the most powerful of the new heroes, but he looks to be the most welcome. His healing will be indispensable in the early game, and his ultimate makes the Orcs, already a melee powerhouse, even more deadly.

Crypt Lord (Undead Scourge): Undead heroes were always well balanced, but our necrotic friends never had a bona fide combat hero that could soak up damage as quickly as he could dish it out. Enter the Crypt Lord.

The Crypt Lord looks like a monstrous beetle spawned from a dark Kafkaesque nightmare. The Crypt Lord's abilities are all geared for high-impact combat. The first ability, Impale, is simple yet highly effective; the Crypt Lord impales his enemy and flings him into the air for lots of damage. Simple, straightforward and is accompanied by a beautiful animation. The next ability, Spiked Carapace, is what makes the Crypt Lord a great combat hero. The Spiked Carapace not only absorbs extra damage, it also dishes out bonus damage to the attacker, ala the orc's spiked burrow. Carrion Beetle is also a great new offensive ability. The Crypt Lord can progenerate a beetle from a target corpse, controlling up to five at a time. The great thing about these critters, besides attacking enemies, is that they're permanent. When this ability is upgraded they can not only dish out more damage but also burrow. His ultimate spell is also effective. Locust Swarm sends out a cloud of attacking locust, stealing health from their victims and giving it back to the Crypt Lord when they return.


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