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Myth II: Custom Formations

A tutorial on editing your formations in Myth, ported from the Codex. Back in the day, a favorite request for Myth II was custom formations. Many people had grand visions of being able to hit a key, click, and watch their archers and warriors form up into a perfect formation. Alas, it was simply not to be--formations, as it turned out, are generated mathematically, not from an internal layout.

All is not lost, however. Anyone guilty of tinkering with Fear is certain to have noticed the tag called "internal formations", the only tag in the Formations group. Contained within this little tag are nearly two dozen values that you can use to tailor your formations to your preferences. Even better, you can modify this tag freely and not have to worry about going out of sync with your fellow players.

It may not let you create a one key super formation, but hey, it's kind of handy.

Opening the Tag

The first step, naturally, is getting this sucker open. In order to do so, you need the Fear application installed in the same folder as your Myth II application. If you're too lazy to install it, just copy it off the CD to the Myth II folder--it works just the same.

After launching Fear and patiently drumming your fingers while it catalogs your tags, you will be presented with a list of all installed groups. Deep breaths, now, don't panic. You don't need to touch most of those things if you don't want to. Just find the one named formations and double-click on it (or just expand it if you're on Windows).

If you have done it right (double clicking can be tricky...) and the gods are smiling on you, you will be presented with a single tag, "internal formations".

Customizing a Formation

For the faint of heart, the list of numbers and cryptic names my be intimidating. That's alright, they are. However, if you look closely at the names, you will likely be able to guess what most of them are for. And if you can't, read on or check the Fear documentation, which does a rather neat job of explaining all of these values.

We'll start with customizing one formation, the Short Line. For the sake of the tutorial, we're going to make this one even more useless. That's right, we're going to make it even shorter.

First, go to the "Maximum Units Per Short Line Row" field, which should contain the value 4. Select it carefully, and gently press 2 to change it's value. No need to rush here and do a sloppy job. The lives of your units could be at stake. Once the value is safely set to 2, move onto the next field, which should be labelled "Short Line Unit Separation". This determines the amount of space between your units. Since we're creating a short line, we really don't need much space, and 1.250 is way too much. Change the value to 0.800, and we're done.

Testing Your Formation

This is the easiest part. Click OK. Doing this should save your formations in a folder called "formations" inside another folder called "local" inside your Myth II folder. If it didn't exsist before, it should now. Just in case you have the urge to tempt fate, don't change these names, or your formations won't work.

Now, simply fire up Myth and enter a game. Then, move your units into a short line formation, and watch those dilligent units pair up and form a long, tight line, two abreast. Ain't it grand? They're so perfectly lined up for your dwarf to decimate them now, which would be a fitting conclusion to this tutorial.

If you really want more, I've outlined some of my favorite changes below. Enjoy.

Formation 1 (Short Line)

Short Line is, IMHO, useful only for packing thrall and other hapless units onto piles of satchel charges and/or around clusters of wights. It does this rather well. However, this isn't of much use in battle. What I have often longed for is a really, really long line, and since I have other plans for the Long Line formation, Short Line is my candidate.

First off, I change my Maximum Units Per Short Line Row to 30. This ensures that, no matter how many units I have selected, they will always pack onto a single row. Remember that 30 is the maximum number of units you can select. Second, I prefer a tighter line that fits more units into an area, so I change the Short Line Unit Separation to 0.900.

What I now have is a formation that I can use to line up twelve archers on a ridge quickly and easily, without worrying about them shooting one another in the back. Zang.

Formation 2 (Long Line)

Long Line is my favorite formation. I use it constantly, and even reflexively now. Consequently, my playing style would likely suffer greatly if I were to change the behaviour of this formation too much. This is important to remember--if there is a formation that you use very often, it might not be wise to change it, unless you want to suffer through the adaptation time.

I would, however, like my units packed in a bit tighter, which makes them fit better in narrow areas and lets fewer units pass through them. To do this, I simply set my Long Line Unit Separation to 0.900, and I'm in business.

Formation 3 (Loose Line)

Loose Line is a great formation for allowing friendly, artillery units to pass through, while still arraying your troops to intercept incoming enemies (who are often pursuing aforementioned artillery units). I like to improve on this aspect of it.

First, I want my formation wider, to better accomodate my very long Short Line formation. To that end, I change my Maximum Units Per Loose Line Row to 8. Then, since I don't need my units quite as spaced out as they currently are, I change Loose Line Unit Separation to 1.750. Units in Myth II are smart enough to easily navigate through this formation, which would likely have been an effective barrier in Myth I.

Formation 4 (Staggered Line)

Staggered Line is effectively a duplicate of Loose Line, with the annoying addition of staggering your units with each row. This was intended to allow you to stagger a row of artillery units and not have them shoot themselves, but it sounds better in theory than it works in practice. Additionally, the stagger makes it harder to retreat through, so we're going to remove that altogether.

What I want is an infinitely long line of loosely spaced units. Loose Line is tied up, so Staggered Line is my man. First, I change Maximum Units Per Staggered Line Row to 30. This means everyone will always be on the front row--no more staggering. Then, since the seperation is a tad high, Staggered Line Unit Seperation comes down to 1.500.

This new formation is great for lining up artillery units, because there is now space enough between them for stray arrows to pass, and room enough that if a dwarf suffers a mishap, he doesn't take everyone down with him.

Formation 5 (Box)

Box is mostly useless, except for getting lots of units in a tight space. Since Short Line no longer does that, Box should. And it should do it in spades.

There is only one Box attribute: Box Unit Seperation. I change this to 0.600, which will have move units standing shoulder to shoulder.

Mind you that giant units, like Trow, and Mauls may have trouble with this formation, but you should probably never have to use it with them. This formation is for hiding thrall under water, or gathering thrall around a Baron to provide an impenetrable wall that no ghol can slip through. Note that this formation also leaves your units in a very bad position if an explosives unit shows up...

Formation 6 (Rabble)

The only time I use Rabble is for differentiating my formation, which is a topic for another day. In battle, it is largely useless. The only thing it's really good for is making sure your units are seperated enough that a single fetch or warlock blast can't kill two or three of them while you're not looking.

To improve on that behavior, I change the Minimum Mob Unit Separation to 2.000, making it a looser formation.

Formation 7 (Shallow Encirclement)

I like Shallow Encirclement pretty much the way it is. It works well for what it does.

My only improvement would be to make it tighter, so that units can't slip through it if you're using it to create a barricade. To do so, I change Encirclement Unit Separation to 0.800, which makes it a tight formation indeed. This can actually help in battle, too, because your units don't spread out as much, and are always there to group in around the enemy you're trying to encircle.

Formation 8 (Deep Encirclement)

When I want to deeply encircle something, Deep Encirclement often falls short. It isn't much different than Shallow Encirclement, so it is just screaming for change.

First, I change Deep Encirclement Arc Length to 180. This makes this formation cover a complete half circle, if the units are available. The units are already tightly packed, because Encirclement Unit Separation, which was changed for Shallow Encirclement, governs both encirclement formations.

The result? A formation that I use when being closely pursued to suddenly fan out my units, and have them wrap around their pursuers.

Formation 9 (Vanguard)

I hardly ever use the Vanguard formation. The romantic view of this maneuver is "divide and conquer", in which a gallant vanguard of warriors drives into an enemy formation like an axe, splitting it and destroying it. In Real Life, this results in your units being surrounded and pummelled. So, we look at its practical use, which is providing cover for a moving unit.

First off, I change the Vanguard Front Row Separation to 1.500. This result of this strange change is that, if I have an even number of units selection, my Vanguard has a hole in the front. Very handy for guarding a dwarf or warlock while moving forward, and then allowing your artillery unit to slip forward and attack. If I don't want the hole, an odd number of units places a single unit at the front, and I'm fine.

Then, I (as usual) pack the units tighter by changing Vagnuard Unit Separation and Vanguard Row Separation to 0.900. Tighter formation is easier to move around, and less likely to let units slip through it.

Formation 0 (Circle)

Circle is a guarding formation, pure and simple. Unfortunately, improved pathfinding has made it so that units can slip through a circle now, which means a ghol might get through your circle of thrall to attack the Baron you were trying to guard.

To prevent this, I change Circle Unit Separation to 0.800. The result is a much tighter circle that requires more units, but is less spread out and almost impenetrable. This is now a premium defense formation.