A couple of weeks ago, I wrote an article discussing [my top 3 favourite Starcraft 2 custom maps on the South East Asia servers](http://www.mmogames.com/gamenews/5074/the-top-3-starcraft-2-custom-maps-on-the-sea-server). Today, I’ll be showing you my top 3 favourite custom maps on the North American servers.
**Desert Strike**
Upon discovering this one, something instantly awoke inside of me that screamed, ‘Play more, you filthy scrub!’ And so I did.
Desert Strike premise is as follows: You and your two teammates must build buildings on your respective islands in order to build units to fight against the opposing team of three, the ultimate goal being: destroy the enemy Nexus. Units do not spawn directly from your buildings, but rather spawn in the middle of the map (presumably the desert). The first out of the three people on your team will spawn their wave of units, then after a set amount of time, the second person on your team will spawn theirs, and so on and so forth. The opposing team does the same.
There are three gas geysers on the island where you build your unit producing structures, and taking these will increase the income you receive periodically throughout the game. You must be smart and time when to take your geysers, because doing so will halt your income for a set amount of time; the amount of time being dependant on how many geysers you have taken already.
You can play as any of the three races in Desert Strike, each possessing an impressively large variety of units to spawn, some custom-made specifically for the game mode.
Each team has a Silo between their Nexus and the middle of the map which, when destroyed, grants the team that destroys the silo a thousand minerals, but also releases the mighty ‘Silo Monster’, who will patrol and defend its side of the map until destroyed.
The real strategy comes with army composition and countering each of the opponent waves of units. Should the opponents reach your Nexus and your waves are still awaiting spawn, you can activate a ‘Boom’ (each player on each team possessing just one per game), which will destroy all units on your side of the map. Boom timing is extremely important and can turn the tides of games dramatically.
**Squadron Tower Defense**
As you can quite obviously derive from the name, Squadron Tower Defense is a tower defense game; however, it has quite a few interesting and unique features that set it apart from other TD games out there:
  • There are four players on each team

  • Your goal is to protect a single, shared ‘Security System’ aka. a big overpowered 'Thor'.

  • Your towers come alive each wave and fight! (rad)

Each wave you can build units for defense or build SCVs to harvest gas for you (or a combination of the two if you’re rolling in the minerals). Gas is used to send special units against the opposing team, which accompany the default spawning wave that turn. Sending these units will increase your mineral income per round. Minerals can also be earned by getting kills with your towers, so it is essential to try and maintain a balance.
Should these waves get past your defenses, they will begin making their way towards your Security System, which in the beginning of the game shouldn’t have a problem fending of stray waves of units, but will struggle as the game progresses. You can also spend your gas on gems to ‘infuse’ your security system and increases it power in different ways. Doing so is usually frantically done on the verge of death.
What makes this game so fun and addictive is the experience and levelling system. Simply just playing games will earn you experience points, gaining you levels, which will allow you to use different tower builders. There are an impressively good number of builders available, each one having an equally impressive variety of towers as their disposal. Additionally, these towers can be upgraded (some in multiple paths) to increase their effectiveness, allowing for multiple stratagems per builder.
All of these components make Squadren Tower Defense a highly addictive and fun experience.
**Legends Open RPG**
Legends Open RPG was a great breath of fresh air to me and a few friends, bored of playing copious customs and simply needing a bit of variety.
In Legends, players select a starting hero unit out of two Zerg (Beast), two Protoss (Elven), and two Terran (Human) options. Once you’ve selected your unit, it time to go exploring and start earning those sweet, sweet experience points and minerals. Firstly, provided you don’t stray too far from the starting area, you’ll come across fairly weak enemies, shaped as cute, tiny Infestors. Fight your way through these, and you’ll start to level up. You’ll also need to periodically take a trip back to the starting area in order to heal (which costs 350 minerals).
There are a great number of other ways you can spend your minerals, such as on companion units that you can command to fight with you. Most importantly, however, minerals will need to be spent on upgrades for your hero unit, granting greater attack power and defense, allowing you to farm experience and minerals longer before needing to return to heal.
Gain enough minerals and you will be able to buy a worker unit, who is friendly enough to build a little establishment in the form of a Command Center, Hatchery or Nexus (race-respectively).
After your base is established, gathering minerals will become exponentially easier, as you can order worker units to gather minerals from mineral patches for you. Just make sure your base is well-protected from mobs. Having a stable economy will also let you begin getting more regular upgrades and allow you to start venturing away from the ‘easy’ area of the map and into the more challenging, more rewarding areas with greater enemies.
The main objective of Legends Open RPG is to defeat the final boss, located in the bottom-right off the map. If you achieve this, then kudos, my friend, as I attempted to defeat him, backed by a few friends and large armies we’d amassed from our endless incomes, and failed horribly. The game had also been going on close to 3 hours.
Legends Open RPG is not a pushover game at all, and requires a fair amount of strategy and forethought in its gameplay. Most importantly, it a lot of fun and deserves at least one playthrough. If you feel like palying more after that, Legends has you covered. Legends will save your hero level for your next playthrough.
**Thanks for reading, and happy custom-ing, Starcrafters!**