Protector 2:
Reclaiming the Throne

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Rating: 4.3/5 (114 votes)
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Joshprotector2_screen1Being the tower defense fanatic that I am, I was elated to stumble upon Protector: Reclaiming the Throne while checking to see what this week's Kongai's card challenge was. Developed by indie development team Undefined, Protector: Reclaiming the Throne is sort of a sequel/upgrade to the original Protector, a tile-based tower defense strategy game with a focus on unit upgrades. In fact, Protector 2 has only two basic units; a mage and a warrior (although both can be heavily modified, even into different classes like archers and rogues). The mage and warrior both have strengths and weaknesses, the most prominent being the low damage but high range of the mage (and vice-versa for the warrior). But through an amazingly deep system of experience levels, class choices and skills, these two units can be configured into many different sub-types.

As mentioned, Protector 2 is more of an upgrade to the original Protector than a full-fledged sequel. Released only a few months after the original, Protector 2 doesn't offer a new graphics scheme or gameplay engine. It's basically just a bigger, better version; probably the game that the developers imagined from the start, but finally had the chance to complete after the original's release and player feedback. Unfortunately the interface is still a bit clunky and the graphics are sub-par, especially when you compare the complexity and gameplay of Protector 2 alongside modern tower defense games. Some gamers might be turned off before they've finished the first level, never discovering the great underlying gameplay that fans of the genre can sink their teeth into.

At face value, Protector 2 follows the footsteps of most tower defense games, featuring a map with a pre-defined path for "creeps" to traverse. Your defense units can be placed on any "paved" tile along the road, with a visual radius marker representing the unit's attack range. Creeps are sent in waves, and you control the start of each wave by clicking "Initiate Wave" in the lower-right corner. Mouse-clicks handle everything you control, with the exception of a couple hotkeys mentioned in-game. Before each wave starts, a window pops up that displays information about the coming wave, such as element strengths and weaknesses, speed, hit points and more. These "elements" play a big role in Protector 2 (physical, fire, frost, poison and energy).

protector2_screen2Before I go any further, I should mention that you'll really want to check out the "Protectopedia" in the main menu. It's an easy-to-understand help guide that explains all aspects of the gameplay mechanics. It's especially useful after you've first played the tutorial stage, so you can find answers to the questions that no doubt arose from your first foray into this complex upgrading system. But to try and sum it up, most creeps have a resistance to one element and a weakness to another. When one of your units first levels up, you can choose its own elemental path to follow. Every time the unit levels up after that, there will be even more dynamic abilities to choose from.

Analysis: To entirely explain Protector 2's gameplay would take double the word space of our usual reviews. I find that a positive thing; a tower defense browser game with above-average complexity. For example, depending on your play style, you can even choose to follow one of three schools of gameplay, called skills (accessible only between levels). The skill menu features three different skill trees in which you can spend attribute points to gain new abilities or inherent effects. Each time you beat a level, you get one point to spend. If you're going for the long haul and planning on playing many levels, these skill trees can pay off in the long run because they will enhance your effectiveness in whatever strategy you decide to follow. It's basically like an RPG character's "spec," as in Diablo or WoW.

If you're a fan of strategy games (tower defense in particular), you'll probably find Protector 2 one of the better titles released since Gemcraft. Just make sure you give it a fair chance and play the tutorial, or at least check out the help guide.

Play Protector: Reclaiming the Throne


Spazzbite Author Profile Page August 6, 2008 4:03 PM

Definitely a nice sequel, though I was disappointed to find that maps were repeated. However, it was an excellent touch to add such specific skill trees, not to mention the extra add-ons for each character(especially Consecrate for Warriors and Destructor for Mages). Had a lot of fun with this game, definitely worth the 6 hours it took for me to complete it

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Look at the names of the soldiers for free easter eggs!

Several other TD games have a system wherein not spending money would provide you with greater interest, leading people to constantly re-estimate their position in case they either skimped too much on their defenses or are missing out on crucial interest coinage; here, there's no such worry so the player's encouraged to invest in upgrades as soon as possible. This seems like the tradeoff for not being able to sell stuff, but it's worth it.

Well, for me it is.

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DarkOrion Author Profile Page August 6, 2008 6:29 PM

I've been playing this for a couple days now. One of the big differences between this and other tower-defense games:

Simply making MORE "towers" is often a BAD move. Since a mage or warrior's ability to upgrade is determined by it's personal exp, you're often better off with 1 or 2 well placed mages or knights, which each get some significant exp, than with a whole gaggle that each earn very little.

I've seen this when I over-litter the board with mages: I need 150 more exp to level a mage up. I have it highlighted, so I see when it gets XP . . . oh look, it just got TWO HUNDRETHS of a point of XP. Only 149.8 xp to go.

This difference does seem to make it much more about strategy than other tower defense games.

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I played through gemcraft, but I'm struggling to get going on this one. In the 3rd 'Easy' level. It's a desert themed level, I've lost a number of times trying to focus on upgrading a few mages with specialization toward the most common weakness on the level. Any tips would be appreciated. Warriors are great but can't do damage to the flying creeps.

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Anonymous August 7, 2008 12:29 AM

way too difficult

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Love it. Loved the first version as a change to the tired TD type, and this upgrade is terrific.

Two things I'd like to see that would make it perfect: the ability to see the upgrade path to date of any given unit by clicking on it, and an explanation for the colors the creep meters turn (I'm still trying to work out which color stands for which infliction)

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This is well done and presenting a pretty decent challenge for me. I've had to re-do some levels several times to perfect the strategy and I'm not very far along yet (maybe four levels or so).

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One key thing about this game is to start placing units from the rear and work forwards. Allow your initial units to build up sufficient experience and upgrades before gradually placing units further towards the front of the field. The ones at the front will quickly gain experience and anything which gets past them will be taken out by your experienced units to the rear.

The alternative of initially place units at the front of the playing field is a poor choice as the units at the rear never gain enough experience to be a serious threat. And if your units at the front are overwhelmed then those at the rear are next to useless.

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Hmm...looks like my comment got eaten?

[Edit: Please don't link to external walkthroughs. We would rather encourage our community to post their own. Thanks! -Jay]

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guestonymous August 8, 2008 7:36 AM

Going to agree that it's too hard. Normal mode shouldn't see me replaying levels 3-4 times before winning (or giving up out of frustration).

Game sucks.

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Does anyone know how to get splash? I read about it in the protectopedia, but i can't find it in skills.

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It's crossed past 'casual fun' in my opinion. The best gameplay is after you unlock levels, which leaves the nuances out of the easy levels. It's like two games. I liked the previous incarnation better when there was only *one* way to upgrade a function (kill monsters = manage your resources), and none of them were hidden or counterintuitive. Upgrading in the midst of battle ought to be about strategy on the fly, instead of trying to remember which path leads to which upgrade.

Though, points for

the Badger Badger song reference on the early, practically unbeatable "Hard" level. Though is that so evil that it's negative points? *laughs*

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This game is just too hard for the casual player. I spent a good hour with the game and came away that it is lacking in a few ways.

  1. The pathways aren't all too clear, so it's hard to know in the beginning where to place your men.

  2. Once you place a man down, you can't sell him back if you made a mistake.

  3. Having experience points for each man takes away any upgrading fun out of the equation and just makes the game that much harder.

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Yes, it is hard, but that's half the fun. I'm through 18/22 maps, so I'm getting pretty good at it. First thing I want to say is for those of you that say not being able to sell is a bad feature, you're wrong, and here's why. One of the key features of this game is the ability of some enemies to "Absorb". This means if they get hit by a unit which is the same as the enemy's strength, it actually gains health instead of losing it. This is critical in the Badger Badger Mushroom level. The first 9 waves are all weak to poison, so the natural reaction is to make all your mages poison, which makes the first 9 waves VERY easy. However, the last wave's strength is poison and it absorbs. So if you have all poison mages you would never do any damage at all. If you could sell you could technically just wait until the last wave and then sell all your mages and repace them. So by not being able to sell you just have to plan VERY well.

As for the pathways not being clear, you can always just hit send wave without placing any units, watch one wave go through, and then you know what it is and you can easily hit end game and start again. This takes about 30 seconds.

Now here's some hints on how to beat it:

Realize that things like infect DO NOT stack. And whoever hits them first will be the one who does the damage. So don't place a mage who will only do 5 infect damage right in front of one who does 150 infect damage. What I normally do is I'll just put the weaker one behind and then just upgrade it along the generalist path.

Look through the units at the bottom by clicking on the little tabs before you start! Sometimes none of the waves are flying - good time for a lot of warriors. I think there is one level where approximately half the waves are 50% weak to poison and 50% weak to energy. So the natural reaction is to make half energy and half poison mages. However, if you actually click on each tab you find waves 10-20 are all absorbing. So if you use all energy and poison you're screwed. So even though none of the waves are weak to fire, cold, and physical, Use it anyway!

You can reset your stat trees! Some levels you may need to change your stats around some. On badgers badgers mushroom I reset my stat tree to give the three life bonuses. You normally only get 1 life on that level, but doing this took me up to something like 6. So you may have to reset your stat tree to better accomadate some levels.

Basically, many of the levels aren't as hard as you may think. There have been several levels where I've gotten completely destroyed on and then after I think about how to do it better nd spend some time just looking at it I go through without losing a life. So if you just look at it most of them aren't that hard.

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TBabb -- that 3rd spoiler box is my complaint exactly. (Not picking on you, just explaining).

I really don't like the game relying on three or four different screens just to win a level, i.e. fiddling with the stat trees and the convoluted leveling up. I want the tower defense *on the field of play* and given the challenges immediately presented.

It's sort of like-- here's the object of the game. Oh by the way, you can only beat the game by changing the object of the game. And you have to win several other games to do this, which in turn can only be beaten by changing the object of the game.....

I guess if you're into more of a leveling up sort of game, that's a great game. It does make you think about what edge you need to overpower a level. I prefer tower defense to be about placement of units and long-term strategy, not short-term shortcuts. (I mean, unless I'm just not seeing the general strategy at this time, in which case I hope someone comes along and helps!)

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I'm NOT going to make a joke about the Lennon/McCartney beetles absorbing and regenerating.

No, really, I'm not.

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Matthew Bergman August 10, 2008 7:27 AM

Damn cannot get past level 4. Hardest game I ever played!

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The big tip I have for this game is "consider your experience gain." You want to avoid two things at the last, hardest waves:

1. You don't want to have a bunch of money and nothing to spend it on.

2. You don't want to have a bunch of mages waiting for levels and no money to spend on them.

So the secret to avoiding both of those is to place the optimal number of mages (enough to absorb all your money, but not so much that you wasted a bunch of money on low-level mages and now you don't have enough cash to upgrade), and to place them in the right order. It's easy to get into a situation where you place a mage behind a block of existing mages and the one in back doesn't see enough enemies to level... until a harder wave comes along, blows past the first block of mages, and then your back block doesn't have enough experience to stop them.

For this reason, generally you want to place your hindmost mages first and work forward. Ideally, every enemy should die after all of your mages get a chance to shoot it (thus spreading its XP around). Place a mage several waves before he starts to be very crucial to your strategy, so that he has XP accumulated by the time you need him.

The above aren't specific spoilers, just stategy talk.

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Well darn, I just started the second map and discovered my three leveled up mages are nowhere to be found. I had to hire new mages. Sad! I had gotten rather attached to them! :P The tutorial said nothing about hiring warriors, but I guess I'll give that a shot as well.

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You completed the game in 6 hours, Spazzbite? Pardon my skepticism, but I think there must be something I'm missing, after spending well over 6 hours on a single battle!!! I'd be very interested to know what approach you took to the battle called "Achirion Wastes."

It feels a lot like I'm trying to put a puzzle together when many of the pieces are missing.

A frowny face doesn't even begin to cover it. Unless someone can explain to me how to engage that level as an example (I'll check in on the comments from time to time), I'm going to have to consider the game simply un-playable.

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Hmmm ... very interesting. Shortly after that last post, I searched for a walkthrough, and discovered one with some suggestions. It was glaringly inaccurate as far as expectations for gold and experience, but the basic strategy actually turned out to be helpful.

It has 2 main components: I had already discovered that

the four corner spaces are the prime spots for mages, since they cover the most squares(9).

But it probably would have been a while before I would have tried

flooding the backfield with warriors. It makes sense, though, considering that the main problem with that battle is levelling the backfield -- it needs to have enemies go through it in order to gain experience, yet be strong enough to kill them as well.

Even with that help, though, I still didn't stand much of a chance. Then with only a SLIGHT modification (namely, eking out another battle for 1 more skill point; no spoiler there, but it's easy to guess what I spent it on), I didn't lose a single life until the last 3 waves.

In the end, I agree with what Shudog was saying, and I'd even take it a step further: When the difference between not standing much of a change against the enemies and the enemies not standing much of a chance against you is only -- without ANY change in the strategy for that battle -- getting 1 more skill point before tackling that battle, the game really comes off as being more about choosing *THE* correct approach, rather than *A* correct approach.

I can see how making a good strategy game with RPG elements is about balancing the variety -- as in, lots of approaches will work, and you can enjoy experimenting with the different possible combinations -- and the difficulty -- as in, few approaches will work, and you must find the right combination (and even then finding the right combination sometimes isn't enough!). Unfortunately, this game leans way too far to the second extreme.

This drives away folks like me, who might occasionally attempt unexpected and even downright silly combinations, just because we can. So I guess what I'm saying is, there's just not much room for good old experimentation. Despite the more robust game mechanics than the first installment, I don't think it's possible to beat this game when straying much at all from what the creators expected when putting it together.

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I agree with Tolkar that each level has one "right" way to solve it, but I disagree that this is a bad thing. Compared to most TD games, each level in Protector is a unique puzzle to solve.

I compare it to the popular "Grow" games. In those games, there's exactly one way to win, and thousands (or more) of ways to fail; your goal is to try to find that one winning method. However, there are no indicators of what it is, so the only way to find it is to keep trying things, getting a little more information about the solution each time.

In Protector, you have the same sort of goal, but it's easier because you have a lot of information up front: the list of waves at the bottom of the screen becomes a puzzle to solve. It may only take a few tries to find the right answer.

I like the Grow games; I don't like most TD games. Protector brings the puzzle aspects of Grow into the active gameplay of TD, and I like the result very much.

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I need help on captured shipyard. I currently have 10 skill points and tried everything based on warriors, but nothing seems to work. When I spam, there would be as many absorbs as hits. When I don't spam, the monsters frequently go through my 4 warriors. Any tips?

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Re: Captured Shipyard
I think I had more skill points when I did it but I dumped most of them in the warrior path and the rest in extra lives and cheaper units.
I went the all warrior approach with physical as the element but with consecrate as the special ability as there are a few waves strong against physical.
Worked for me.

Personally I'm stuck on "fallen mine" and "path to Shoreview" if any one has any suggestions?

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thanks, I tried your shipyard strategy and it worked

If you are still having problems with path to shoreview:

You can beat it with two mages and two warriors
one mage goes on the space in the middle of the "t" at the bottom and one goes to the right of that. The two warriors go on spaces at the intersection of the paths just above. The mage in the center you concentrate on leveling up infection as much as possible because that's what will kill the final boss. You also want to level up one of the warriors to be as hard hitting as possible. For the other mage level up debuff as much as possible before the armor gets too strong and you can't get any more experience points for it. If you do this you should only lose lives on the boss.

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Regarding the strategy on shipyard, can anyone tell me what's the ideal number of warriors that I should hire, where should I place them and should they advance to tactician, rogue or archer? Is paving necessary? Many thanks!

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My least favourite part of this game is the fact that you don't know exactly when you've lost, and must waste more time on the next few waves. You could assume the situation is unsolvable and start over, missing out on the chance that you could salvage things.

It will help you figure out what to do next time, but having to go through that multiple times is frustrating. Also, I didn't know you could see what's in each wave by clicking on the numbers for each wave.

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Lord Shield May 27, 2009 4:21 PM

For the "Fallen Mine", you will need one Cold Destructor for the 3rd and 4th waves. Have your fire mages further down the map

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Tooooo hard. I quit

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And ideas on how to get through the last level, The New Throne?

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