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Tower placement guide

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This is an unfinished guide about placement.

I'll add chapters whenever I feel like it. Each will give examples on how it is done, explain how and why it works, and explain when and how to use it in single player or multiplayer.

Please correct me whenever I make a mistake and feel free to add you own informations.


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Tower Placement

This is Cisz's angry placement guide.

I often refer to the numpad notation. This is a way to name the regions of the map analog to the numbers on the numpad. It was suggested by Gipface and he made a diagram about it.


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Part >I< - basic concepts for whole builds

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1.) The two pass placement

The name refers to the creeps passing the tower/towers two times.

The two pass placement is the most cost efficient way to kill waves of creeps without slowing them. It's not the fastest way to play and it's not good vs elementals or the ronald stage.

1.1) How it is done

Here is a map of two pass places for short range towers (500 to 900; dino/fire to nature). Every black cross is a possible place for a tower.


You can modify those places by moving towers by half a square without much diference. The green groups, entitled "fast", are not exactly two pass on very hard (because the waves are longer), more like 1.7-1.9 pass.

All short range towers that you build on those places will fire at passing creeps about 1.7 to 2.0 times. There is even an area, where you get about 2.5 times. It's located where the two red groups (marked slow) meet each other.

The captions refer to how long it takes for the towers to fire at the creeps for the second time. So you will have to wait very long if you place your towers in a "slow" area.

The speed of the creeps affects the effectiveness the green areas (fast). They will work even worse on fast waves like 10 or 19. And if you play extreme mode, slow areas become medium, medium becomes fast and fast becomes foolish.

And the range of the towers is important too. Basic arrows and cannons have only 600 range (dino and fire even 500), so they can't reach both sides of a ledge on all places. They work bad on corners or at the T-crossing with the tempting 2.5 passes.

If you are playing on a lower difficulty, the waves get shorter. The green areas (fast) will get better by this.

All areas close to a two pass place are getting gradually less efficient, so it's no big loss to expand your group of towers into unmarked regions.

1.2) How and why it works

Here is a schematical picture of a two pass placememnt in action. The black winding arrow represents the wave of creeps, the black crosses are the towers.


If the wave of creeps has passed the towers entirely, before it reaches them again on the other side, the placement is a two pass placement.

Here is the same situation in an actual game on very hard. You can see that both ends of the wave are in range of the towers at the same time, so it's a little less that two passes.


And here a similiar picture of the other fast area. you can see that it is a bit better.


The medium and slow areas have noticable pauses bewteen both passes.

I will explain the long pass placement in detail in the next chapter, and compare both technics lengthily, but so much for now: The creeps pass the towers twice, so the towers firing time is equal to the time the creeps need to pass the covered path plus two times the lenght of the wave. Towers on longs pass placement cover a longer part of the path, but they get the lenght of the wave added only once. So if the lenght of the wave is larger than the difference of covered path, two pass is better.

1.3) How do I use it in a game

Two pass placement has two general applications. Since it is a very cost effective style, it can be used to make interest, by not spending all your money. Or it can be used to maximise the effect of your towers, since you get as much output for your gold as possible.

Your first decision should be which area or areas you chose. You can spread your towers into different regions, and the whole thing will still be two pass, if all towers are individually two pass. The more towers you place into slower regions, the longer you will need to finish the wave and the more interest you can make, if you manage to keep some unspent cash. So if you are playing single player and don't mind a lenghty game, you can benefit from the slow regions with extra income. But if you play multiplayer, you will have to take the other players into account. The slow areas are basically useless in multiplayer, because if only one opponent plays on a fast area, you will still be busy with the last wave when the next creeps arive. Your towers will be surrounded by targets on both sides and you will leak every wave. The medium area is a compromise bewteen making the kill before the next wave is upon you and getting your towers in a true two pass region, since the fast areas are dangerous on fast waves.

Here is an example of a slow two pass in a fast multiplayer game. The yellow player is flooded with two waves at the same time.


Don't try to make interest with a slow placement on multiplayer, because the fastest player sets the speed. Only if your oponents don't manage to make a fast kill, your slow placement will give a reward, in all other situations you will only be in danger to be flooded. So if you are playing it slow for the money, try to be the second player to finish the round. After the first player finishes, you can't prevent the next wave, the timer is running allready. If you take much longer than the first, you might face the next wave to soon.

If you go for interest, the key is to build as little towers as possible. You need to learn how much towers of what level you need to just get the wave done without leaking. As a beginner, you should build your towers on the right ledge and observe how much damage the creeps have taken after the first pass. If they are about 1/3 of their initial health, thats about optimal. Please note that 1/3 of the initial health is not 1/3 of the maximum health if you play on, say, very easy. If the creeps get killed or nearly killed on the first pass, don't build more towers and take the next wave with the same setup. If they nearly get through on the second pass, add more towers. If the next wave is fast, add towers. If the next wave is healing, spent all your gold and pray. <!-- s:lol: --><!-- s:lol: -->

If you spent all your money on single player, it makes not much sense to build on a slow two pass placement. It only takes longer and you get no gold. Either build at least on a medium placement, so you don't waste time, or keep some cash. But maybe you want to play slow without making interest to relax and meditate, or you have time to loose, who knows. <!-- s:roll: --><!-- s:roll: -->

A special case of a two pass placement is the arrow opening. This strat doesn't work on all places, because it relies on two arrow towers firing at the same target on both passes. The basical idea behind this opening is, to build one or two arrow towers, that can kill one creep with one volley. The advantage of this opening is, that it's relatively easy to memorize what to build and you end up with no more than 4 towers most of the time, so it's possible to sell and rebuild them to get interest. But it is still big clickwork and definately not for the untrained. To make the most of the arrow opening, you should play it on the fastest two pass area and add extra towers between the interests. If you use a slower area, you will be forced to keep your towers pretty often. On the fastest placement you can either kill the wave first and time this to fit with the interest timer, or you can kill the wave after a player on a lower difficulty, so you get extra time to sell and rebuild. Since part of the arrow opening is placing towers on a long pass placement, it is in fact a hybrid placement and I will get back to it in the chapter about long pass.

If you want to play magic towers or tidals on two pass, a new problem comes up: Mana regeneration. To make the most of your towers, you will want to have a pause bewteen the two passes, so you towers can regenerate for some extra blasts. But this forces you to play on medium or slow areas, which endangers you in multiplayer. So you can either place them to fast and loose efficiency, or place them to slow and be creep spammed.

Playing with armour reduction on two pass is tricky, because your debuff towers will usually be placed optimal for only one of the two passes. If you place them at one end of the build, the creeps will be at full armor on one of the passes. Ifd you play them in the middle, half of your towers will fire at un-debuffed creeps. I usually end up with two separate groups of armour reducers, one at each end. This is a little waste of gold, but still the best I came up with so far.

A final note about slowing and two pass. If you use slight slowing, like slowing a few creeps only or mild aoe slowing towers, two pass basically stays two pass. Only the rules about where exactly two pass is are shifted a bit. So area 4 (numpad notation) can get as solid a two pass as area 6, if you back it up with some freezing towers or a nova. If you deploy heavy slowing like monsoon/freezing or something like that, your two pass basically changes into a one pass build, because the creeps probably won't make it to the second pass. There is a whole chapter about this.

1.4) Replays about two pass placement

>> Replaypack for two pass placement (tft 1.21) <<

I have written short comments for all this replays.

"771 Eletd (3 vh) gold no leak.w3g"

This replay has me playing an arrow opening on the fastest two pass area. (I overbuild for wave 4..) Notice how I rarely finish a wave first, because other players on a lower difficulty try to speed up the game. Obviously my opening is not the fastest. I gain extra interest time by having a ve player finishing before me.

My build is dwarven style (gold only) and I use only two towers spread on the two fastest two pass places until I get to goldmine on wave 31. Notice how I upgrade the faster tower first, so my build alternates between killing the wave at region 4 (numpad notation) and 3 on the second pass. See how the orange player tries to outrace me on very easy. He is actually pretty good at it, so even my fast two pass placement is nearly to slow. A medium placement would have leaked several times. I even overbuild with an extra gold tower at around wave 37, to compensate my slow towers.

I have memorized all needed towers for all waves up to wave 41. After that I try to keep about half of my networth in cash. I overbuild for the healing waves, and to a lesser extend for the fast waves too. The goldmine tower is not exactly great at soloing, so I need as many of them as I can get. And to finish the map without leak, I absolutely have to make as much interest as possible. (An lfwd build can win the map with like 1/4 the gold or even less.)

At around wave 43 the orange player finally starts to fall behind, so I can build my towers at slower locations. Orange eventually dies, but teal takes over the racing with the fastest two pass and on easy. Now I can let the creeps get up to the medium two pass, without danger of beeing flooded.

Once my cash hits 100k, at wave 56 or so, I spend all gold above that in towers, so I start to reduce the portion of unspent money below 50% of my networth. For ronald I build new towers on long pass placement. I will explain this in a later chapter.

"741 Eletd (3 vh) turnier quali.w3g"

This is my qualification for the first eletd tournament. I play on the fastest two pass for most of the game, and the elements are good enough to pull it off. I leak quite often, but I make a very fast kill quite often too, so my oponents are under pressure. With the first element (earth) I even pull off quite some one pass kills. I will explain one pass play in a later chapter. In this replay I don't use the cost efficient placement for keeping unspent cash, but to compensate for sub optimal towers. I spend all my money to make more or faster kills than the other players and the placement gives me many shoots with an early second pass. I leech enough life with tech towers to compensate my leaks and eventually all other players are gone. Then I relocate to the slightly slower location 3 (numpad notation) and spread out over the entire right ledge.

"837 Eletd (3 vh) magic nl.w3g"

I start with an opening on 3 (numpad notation), because it's pretty fast but not as stressful as area 4. I can't play an arrow opening at the corner, as the towers won't fire at the same target on both passes. I would either have to relocate between passes, overbuild, or place them higher, away from the corner. With early interest, I start to keep half my cash unspent quite early, about wave 13. I make one cannon for every 100 networth for a while. After wave 25 I switch to magic towers, again keeping half my gold in cash, and on a slower location.

"847 Eletd (3 vh) two pass demo 1-5.w3g"

This is a short demonstration of the different two pass locations. I relocate to another area after each wave (or at one time during the wave). Notice how I dont use all my gold. Try to beat me, spend less gold without leaking. The rules are: You have to use cannons; you have to play on very hard; you have to play on single player.

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2.) The long pass placement

A tower on a long pass placement fires at one target for a very long time, but the creeps pass the tower only once.

This is the most cost efficient way to kill single creeps or elementals without slow, and it has some benefits on the ronald stage. But against waves of creeps, two pass is better. (I will dedicate an entire chapter to the comparison of two pass and long pass.)

2.1) How it is done

There are three long pass areas for short range towers (500-900 range). The tricky bit is, that it highly depends on the range of the tower if a position is long pass or not.

In this picture the numbers indicate the range of the tower. For example: On a 6, all towers with a range of 600-900 are on long pass.


To make this clearer, here are examples of towers on a long pass placement at the area 5 (numpad notation), entitled "Medium" in the above picture.


The ranges are 500 for fire, 600 for arrow, 700 for gold, and 900 for nature.

2.2) How and why it works

The idea behind long pass is, to have a tower fire as long at a creep or elemental as possible. To achieve this, the tower is placed to cover as much of the creeps path as possible. The best places for this are areas where the creeps make a U-turn and run around the tower.

The effect of a long pass placement is this: Although the towers fire less shoots at a wave of creeps, they fire more shoots at a single creep. So they are more likely to kill the target they are firing at. (While other creeps run past them at the same time, reducing the total shoots at the wave. <!-- s;) --><!-- s;) --> ) So a tower on long pass does less damage, but it concentrates this damage on less creeps. Again, I will prove this beyond doubt in the next chapter.

Here are three different placements for a tower (marked by the cross). The range is indicated by a circle, and the creeps path is marked by the black arrow winding around the ledge.


The first placement is not as good as the second, for moving the tower away from the end of the ledge makes it cover more of the path. The newly covered portions in the second placement are marked as green in the second diagram. The third placement gains two bits of path on the right side again (marked green again), but it loses more on the left side (the loss is marked red). So the second placement is the best of the three, the first version is ok too, but the third version loses the left portion of the turn and has the smallest coverage.

Although the third placement variant covers two separate parts of the path, it's not a two pass placement. A wave of creeps would arive on the second part before it has left the first covered section, so the tower can't fire at them two times. The tower would be surrounded, the player destroyed and his ashes thrown in the wind. Or something like that.. <!-- s:P --><!-- s:P --> Neither is it long pass to play like this, as the covered path is as short as on a two pass placement. So it's not two pass and not long pass. This is what experts refer to as "bad placement".

2.3) How do I use it in a game

Since without slow, two pass is more cost efficient against waves of creeps (see the next chapter for details), most of the time there is no reason to place towers on long pass. But against elementals, long pass is better. So for after wave 5, sell your towers and build arrows on a long pass placement.

It's possible to play the map with towers on long pass, but only if you build to much of them (overbuild) or use a big deal of slowing. In both cases the result is a one pass build (see the chapter about one pass).

Here is a picture of four arrow towers in the middle of the map, to get the water lv.1 after wave 5. The lower two arrows can't fire at the elemental on the whole path, but they cover most of it. (There is a small part of the path, when the elemental is right above them, where they can't hit it for a second or two.) Those are advanced arrows, but they are about to be upgraded after the interest.


2.3.1) Long pass/ two pass hybrids

Another use for long pass is, to mix it with two pass towers. If most of a players towers are on two pass, but the creeps can nearly get through, it's safer to build one tower on the next following long pass placement. Since only the fastest two pass is followed by a long pass location, this can only be played with two pass on 4 and long pass on 1 (numpad notation).

It looks somewhat like this:


The red group (6 amplified earth) is on two pass and the earth arrow with the pink frame is on long pass.

Another case of a two-pass/long-pass hybrid, and a variant of the last example, is the arrow opening. It is played on the fastest two pass too (numpad 4) and uses additional towers at 5. The group on two pass is strong enough to one shoot the creeps (that is to kill one creep with each volley). On wave one and two on very hard, one super arrow can do a one-shoot. But since this area is not exactly two pass (and that's even worse on single player, extreme mode, or fast waves like wave 10), you will leak one or two creeps, if there are no extra towers. So in addition to the one-shoot two pass group, I build a second group for extra firepower. This extra group is meant to kill some creeps, and it is important to finish those extra units off entirely. If those extra towers just reduce the health of the creeps, they will arive at the two pass group again, and get killed in one shoot, just as if they were on full health. So if those extra towers can't make a kill and just do damage, they are useless. Since long pass gives a tower the longest firing time at a sinlge target, it's ideal for this purpose.

With one arrow in each group it looks like this:


And here is the placement for two arrows each:


If this would be all about the arrow opening, it would be worthless. Instead of a one shoot group and extra towers on long pass, it would make more sense to build cannons on two pass. It would take less gold to do the same damage. But the trick is to sell the longpass group for every interest, and rebuild it immediately. By doing this, the player gets extra interest and gains an advantage over a mere two pass group. This explains why the builder is located near the long pass group in both pictures, he is on standby for rebuild.

There are two more reasons, why this makes more sense with arrows than with cannons. The one shoot group can be calculated very precisely. Both arrows (or one if that's enough) fire at one creep, it goes down, end of story. Cannons on the other hand fire at several creeps with each shoot, since they do splash damage. So cannons spread out the damage they do. One problem with this is, that there are more creeps left alife after the first pass, allthough with less health. So instead of a line of creeps with full health and large gaps, you get a line with little health, and most of the creeps are still there. The gaps allow the towers to retarget on the second pass, making it more likely that all creeps are hit. There is a risk with cannons, that in the second bewteen two shoots, a creep might get away. To counter this you can either overbuild or use more cannons off a lower level. Both workarounds lower the damage per gold ratio of the cannon build, so arrows are more cost efficient. The other problem is, that cannons end up firing at nearly dead creeps with too much damage. So they tend to waste shoots and damage. The one shoot group on the other hand, as long as it fires in perfect sync, wastes nearly no damage at all.

Again, a note on slowing. With enough slow, a long pass can get so incredibly long, that it actually can bring down the creeps. I will explain this in detail in the chapter about the one pass game.

2.3.2) Special towers

Some towers damage all creeps in their range at the same time: Steam, nova, and dino. Those towers, even if they have a normal attack too, will do better on a long pass placement. Again you have to take their range into account. Nova and steam can cover a much bigger part of the path.

Here is a diagram of the range for nova and steam at 5 (numpad notation). Don't forget to build only one steam at one location, as steams dot (damage over time) doesn't stack. Spreading out nova towers is probably a good idea too, to slow the creeps in a bigger area. The yellow part of the path is affected.


And here is the same area with two dinos. If you have to, you can even put two more at this place, above the two displayed. The covered path is much shorter.


Gkj-mo demonstrated the importance of dinos on a long path placement to me in a tough samerandom match. He stomped me out of the game and his way into the long pass replay pack.

There are some towers that give a benefit for a kill, like a life (tech, life, undead), or a unit (undead), or extra bounty (money). Since long pass gives a tower a greater possibility for a kill, a player might place those towers on long pass. But remember, they will do less damage, so by doing this, the build gets weaker. Maybe it's possible to gain an advantage by playing the mayority of the towers on two pass and placing one life or money long pass, but I wouldn't play that way.

2.3.3) Semi long pass - the corners

At 9 and 3 (numpad notation) the ledge has a bend. And at both of these corners, the creeps pass the outer side on the second pass. Take a look at the diagram, the covered part of the path on the first pass is red, for the second pass it's yellow.


It's possible to place towers at both areas in a way so that they stand two pass and fire longer on the second pass. This makes sense, as the first pass offers much more targets, so each tower will easily find an aim. As a result, even this very short pass will allow the towers to fire for their full potential (more on short pass in a later chapter). And on the second pass the towers get a longer exposure, so they will gain time to retarget and it will be less likely to leak a creep. So on these corners the player can combine two pass and long pass advantages.

But carefull, both areas have their problems. The corner at 9 (numpad notation) has a very late second pass, so it's not exactly good in multiplayer. And it seems, that the targetting ai of tft will lead to some leaks on this corner, as the towers seem to have a tendency of targeting to their upper right and ignoring targets to their upper left.

The corner at 3 (numpad notation) has a very stable targetting, but it's only almost two pass, so especially on fast waves, or in extreme mode, you might face the second pass to soon.

That said, both corners are still very atractive areas. On single player the upper corner comes in handy, and in multiplayer towers at 4 and 3 make a good and fast two pass build with a long pass at the end to get those runnaway creeps.

Here is an example of a rainbow and an acid at the lower corner.


2.3.4) Ronald hunting

There is a secret about long pass and ronald hunting, but it's classified for now.

2.3.5) Replay pack for long pass

It's really hard to come up with long pass replays, since it's usually a bad idea. Some of the aspects of long pass can be found in the two pass replay pack:

In the "771 Eletd (3 vh) gold no leak.w3g" I use temporary arrows on long pass for the arrow opening and to hunt elementals. And in "741 Eletd (3 vh) turnier quali.w3g" I play an arrow opening too.

But I managed to get together two new replays for this chapter.

"866 Eletd (3 vh) died sr long pass fossils.w3g"

This is the game vs Gkj-mo i mentioned above (in 2.3.2). He kills me on samerandom, and his mayor advantage is that he places his dinos/fossils on long pass, while I use them two pass. Note how he doesn't even need slow for this. Great example of long pass in action.

"892 Eletd (3 all vh) lfwen nl.w3g"

This is a little less obvious. It has dinos, novae and steams, all three special longpass towers, but I use a lot of slow, so actually this is more of an one pass build. But still, all towers are where they belong. (We will get back on the subject under "one pass".)

>> 2 replays long pass <<

[i'm working on a third replay.]

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3.) Long or two pass - what is better?

This chapter is the reason why I do this guide. I want to prove once and for all that two pass beats long pass vs waves of creeps at cost efficiency (without slow).

3.1) Experimental evidence

It's pretty easy to test this, so I've conducted a series of experiments (all in single player).

At first I placed unupgraded basic cannons at typical locations for wave 1 on very hard and tried to kill as many creeps as possible. The idea behind this was to play with many towers with small damage, so that luck would become less of a factor.

The results are as follows:

-Pretty much any two pass build will kill wave 1 on very hard with 10 small cannons. The only exception are builds with a very short second pass.

-Any long pass build will leak some creeps on wave 1 on very hard with 10 small cannons.

-Some two pass builds will even kill wave 1 on very hard with 8 small cannons.

See a group of 10 cannons at area 4 finish of the first wave:


Then I tried to solo wave 1 on very hard with a single super arrow (like in Cisz simple placement challenge).

And the results:

-Two pass builds leak about 0-2 creeps of wave 1.

-Long pass builds leak about 7-11 creeps of wave 1.

Here is the minimap of a leaking arrow on 7 (numpad notation):


I have tested many places and collected the results in a table. Rules are single player, no micro, very hard, only one super arrow tower (range 600). The numbers indicate leaks, so lower is better.


I havn't checked all zeros, and many numbers are only checked once. They seem to vary with +/- 1 in many places, so you might get as much as 2 higher or lower than my result. But even without giving exact number ranges and probabilities, it's quite obvious: Two pass beats long pass in this challenge.

I have zipped some replays, so you can check for yourself:

>> Replays of long pass and two pass experiments <<

Of course my results could be biased, since I prove my own theory. There is room for variations and modifications. So if you can do it better with long pass, please post your replays in this thread. Remember to play on single player.

This looks like a pretty simple case to me. Two pass beats long pass vs waves of creeps (without slow).

3.2) How and why it works

To understand how this works, we have to take a closer look at how long a tower fires at a wave. Here are three diagrams of a tower on long pass (with range, red) and a wave of creeps (magenta) passing by.


Since all creeps of the same wave have the same speed, and stay at that speed (without slowing of course), the firing time is proportional to the distance the creeps run while the tower is firing. Or, in simple words, the firing is as long as the way of the creeps. <!-- s;) --><!-- s;) --> So, how far do the creeps have to run until the firing stops again? Between the beginning and the second diagram, the wave has passed exactly that part of the path that is covered by the tower (the coverage). The greater the coverage of the tower is, the longer this will take. After this, the creeps leave the covered path again until the firing ends. And in theory they will have to move exactly as long as the length of the wave. In reality the lenght of the wave changes during the pass, as creeps are taken out. In a long pass build, this won't make a difference, as the end of the wave is fired at last.

So on long pass the creeps have to pass the coverage of the tower and the lenght of the wave, before the firing stops. The coverage of a tower on long pass is maximal, so why is two pass better?

Here is the set of diagrams for two pass.


Again I sum up the distance the creeps have to pass. Between 1 and 2 they move through the upper portion of the towers coverage. From 2 to 3 they move for the lenght of the wave. After 3 the towers tops firing for a while until the creeps reenter it's range at 4. So far there is not much new about this, but now we come to the second pass. From 4 to 5 they pass the lower part of the coverage, and bewteen 5 and 6 they move for the length of the wave for a second time.

Again we have to consider the changing lenght of the wave, and this time it really matters, as on the second pass the wave can be quite a bit shorter. This effect is a bit bigger, if the towers do single target damage, as splash towers tend to leave the creeps alife on low health. If the player builds to much towers, the wave will get even shorter, so extreme overbuilding can negate the positive effects of a two pass build. Two pass is best with just about enough towers.

On two pass the creeps have to pass both parts of the coverage of the tower, that is the entire coverage of the tower and a bit less than twice the lenght of the wave (as the wave gets shorter during the first pass).

So in both cases, long pass and two pass, the creeps pass through the entire coverage, and that is greater for long pass. But two pass adds the length of the wave approximately twice. So if the length of the wave is significantly greater than the difference of coverage, two pass is better. The longer the wave, the better two pass gets, so on very hard (30 creeps) the effect is greater than on very easy (18 creeps). If the wave is very short, that is, it's not a wave but an elemental, long pass is better.

3.3) What does that mean for the game

Two pass is better than long pass, but only under a big number of premises. For example, if the player has the ability to kill all creeps on one pass, even if it is short, and there is no need for a second pass, a long pass build can be the better option. This is normally the case, if the player has many strong slowing towers, and the situation turns into a one pass game (there is a whole chapter about one pass). Since the fastest two pass (area 4; numpad notation) has the second pass later than the first long pass stops firing, a player that can kill all creeps on a long pass will play faster on area 7. This requires a strong build and probably won't work without a lot of slowing, especially on very hard. So in some cases long pass is faster, but it costs more to play long pass.

If you don't leak on long pass and don't mind losing the interest, by all means stay on long pass. But if you have problems winning without heavy slow, try to get more towers into two pass.

Long pass has it's uses against elementals and single creeps that got away. I don't recommend keeping towers for elementals, but temporary long pass towers (normally arrows) do great. And putting a small portion of the towers at 3 or 1 (numpad notation) can help, if some creeps keep sneaking through. Especially area 3 is interesting, as it is a hybrid two pass/long pass.

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4.) The one pass game

If a build is strong enough to kill the creeps on one pass, the player can either build less towers, to turn it into a two pass build, or just tackle the map with one pass, in a one pass game.

The main reason to play one pass is to speed things up, be it to keep up with the pace of a multiplayer match, or even to set said pace, or just not to fall asleep on single player.

To a lesser extend one pass is interesting for the easier placement of towers within a one pass build. On two pass, towers that just stood on front of the build on the first pass are at the end of it on the second. On one pass the front row stays the front row, so you can put towers to their best locations easier.

4.1) How it is done

You might have noticed, that winning eletd, especially on the higher difficulties, can take quite some tricks and skills, and killing those waves in one pass is no small feat. There are two general ways to manage a one pass game.

You can overbuild, that is, build so many damage towers, that the creeps get pulverized fast enough. Or more like it, you probably can't. It's possible to play on very easy or easy and have enough firepower for this, but on very hard you will find it to be about impossible. Still, this might work for a few waves, like wave 9 (healing, fire) if you took water as your first element. You can build two water cannons for wave 9, which will easily finish the job in one pass. And on rnd, if you are fast enough to switch towers, there might be some higher waves that you can one pass with a brute force overbuild approach.

One pass with a firepower overbuild works mostly on the easiest difficulties or for a few waves only. It's most commonly seen in the earlier levels and with temporary towers. Keep in mind that on random, all towers are temporary. <!-- s;) --><!-- s;) -->

Here's an example of a temporary one pass placement on random (at 4; numpad notation). It's a very close call; in fact one creep survived the first pass.


The other aproach is to use heavy slowing. Play a build that includes monsoon and freezing, and you will end up with a veeeery long pass indeed. Theoretically you can even make all creeps stand still forever (with disables like roots or gem), but in most games you will either get the next wave through a hasty opponent or get bored and play on. So heavy slow is not the only thing about one pass, it's just the base for it. It gives you enought time to take out the creeps without a second pass, but you still need to bring them down somehow.

Here a picture of an lfwd-n build in the making. I went straight to monsoon first and it's total overkill to add acid and ice so soon.


4.2) How and why it works

4.2.1) Choosing a location

Even a one pass needs time to bring down a wave, and where you build it affects the time your towers have. The long pass areas provide of course the, well, longest pass, so they make good places for this. All two pass areas have a short first pass, so they are harder. On the other hand, if you tend to leak a few creeps, they are off to the exit on long pass, while you get a second try on two pass.

We should also consider that one pass played nearer to the creeps entrance will speed up the game. If you want to put pressure on your enemies, get the creeps early on their path. The fastest two pass is on 4, but the fastest long pass on 7 (numpad notation). If your build is totally awesome, you can build at "/" and allways kill them on the first pass. If you can do this, release your replays in the thread about challenge 7. <!-- s:) --><!-- s:) -->

If your build can hold on a long pass, you can choose bewteen 7 (fastest), 5, and 1 (slowest).

If you are not entirely sure if your build will hold in one pass, place it at 4 and get a second pass at the cost of a shorter and later first pass (compared to 7).

4.2.2) Bringing down a wave with an overbuild

I don't want to spoil the party, but you can't win very hard mode in one pass without slowing. Forget about that. What you can do is either play on a low difficulty or one pass selected waves only. On higher difficulties you will find yourself relocating or exchanging your towers, so this will work with either basic towers (arrows, cannons) or on random.

Most of the time the key to an overbuild is having the strong element vs a wave. Like earth on wave 10, or water on wave 9, or dark on 16. Learn how the elements affect each other to make good use of this.

(Here is a table of how the elements work.) On wave 10 you can throw down two earth cannons for an easy kill and sell them again. Build them at area 7 (numpad notation) for a safe and fast result. You can even place them at "/", but it's a bit riskier. Be carefull though, wave 11 takes only 100% damage of earth attacks, so your cannons will not be enough on a long pass on vh and you will have to relocate.

Another way of an overbuild is, when you have an unusually high net worth. With to much gold, you can build to much towers and kill to fast. <!-- s:P --><!-- s:P --> This might happen, if you play on a low difficulty (which basicall is the same as having to much gold), have several interest picks, or play with money towers. But carefull, an overbuild reduces your cash and you get less interest. Your networth advantage will get smaller by wasting to much gold on extra towers. Don't overbuild carelessly, it might cost you the game.

4.2.3) Bringing down a wave with strong slowing

4.3) How do I use it in a game

[Not finished yet.]

Coming up soon:

5.) Long pass or two pass - how to choose

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Part >II< - concepts for special cases

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6.) The short pass placement

This means placing towers is a way that they fire at each creep for a short time. You can use short pass placement to make debuff towers retarget as offten as possible without microing them.

6.1) How it is done

To place a tower on short pass, you try to reduce it's coverage of the path, so that the creeps get out of range fast.

6.2) How and why it works

6.3) How do I use it in a game

7.) Spreading the towers

7.1) Why spread

7.2) How to avoid overkill

7.2.1) Avoid clumping

7.2.2) Avoid in-sync fire

7.2.3) Spreading of well towers

7.3) How do I use it in a game

It is possible to play the placement and selling/rebuilding of an arrow opening with cannons too, but this makes only sense if two arrows can't one shoot a creep. This happens for example if you go for an elemental as first pick, that is weak vs wave 7-10. So if you have dark, you can't one shoot wave 10 with arrows. In that case, it's better to play cannons, since three or more arrows will not fire precisely at the same target for long, and as a result waste shoots. Or if you continue without elemental towers for the waves 14 and 15 or even further, all waves that you don't have a strong element against can't be one shoot with two arrows. For example, two water arrows will leave the light wagons of wave 13 with a little rest of health.

A cannon long pass/two pass hybrid looks pretty much like the arrow opening, but you can build more than two cannons in the two pass group. Remember to sell the long pass group for interest.


There is a third group in this picture (in the yellow frame). As the long pass group is sold, this group will be upgraded. It's not long pass, more like "bad placement", but since it will fire all the time, and be sold soon, this is not a big problem. Another reason for the placement of this group is, that the creeps will be closer to them once the long pass group is sold, as the wave will be past the middle ledge then (area 5 on numpad notation), so there will be no time left to fire from the long pass area.

In a situation like this, I wouldn't rebuild, if I were using arrows, since they wouldn't have time for kills, merely doing partial damage. But with cannons, partial damage is ok too.

It's debatable to place all cannons on two pass, and to sell and rebuild ar part of them there. I usually don't do this for three reasons. Cannons allready have a problem with firing at targets with to little health, so if I overbuild (and that's what I do here) and even clump them, I lose efficiency. On top of that, if my temporary cannons fire all the time, it's not important where they do it. As long as they don't get build at a place without creeps, temp towers don't need to be placed as carefully as permanent towers. I'ts only important to place them on long pass, if they are to make kills. And in addition, I'm used to the arrow opening placement, so I do it with cannons, because it's become a habit. ^_^

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Guest Sancdar

Are you getting this book published soon?

I feel like you take too long to explain simple things, but you have fun doing it so it is okay.

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I agree, it's too long. How about you shortening some chapter? Help is welcome. :)

@Karawasa - Thats what you miss if you don't read your forum anymore. :wink:

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very interresting lol

It is the technical explanation of what I made instinctively for certain cases


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Guest noobforcer

where do you guys usually play element TD???

Battle Net??? which gateway???

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where do you guys usually play element TD???

Battle Net??? which gateway???

I'm on northrend (europe), and so is clan [etd].

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Guest akabegformercyy

hey sancdar

u play on lorderon??

wanna play a game someday?

i heard your really good too

yea, i cause its not laggy in lorderon for me, unlike in northrend

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Guest Oblivion.IV

aww no one plays on east coast one...i think thats azeroth. :(

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Guest sequoia

i must say, i am impressed! i understood all these concepts but you elaborate on the details very well, my eletd game has been stepped up another notch for sure

i can't wait til you go over the short pass! (ice towers, acid towers), and the optimum placements

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I know you're busy, and of course there is no rush to finish this guide. But, I would love to see a new version sometime :).

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Hm. :)

I feel interest in this topic. I am wanted. Hm. Sounds like work is coming up.^^

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