• Submit your hero strategies – win PAX prizes!

    Here at REF we’re looking for your Orcs Must Die! Unchained hero strategies! We would like to build a small database of expert strategies from the community so that players can learn about the strengths and weaknesses of certain heroes and certain play styles. This will be another resource for players to discover new ways to play the many heroes we have access to in Unchained. Strategies can be rated by REF members to highlight which strategies get the communities seal of approval.

    There are plenty of discussion points on hero strategy. At the high level there are things like should the hero be mainly played on offence or defence. Delving deeper though you could think about when a hero should push on offence – should they wait for certain cards or conditions? What about which other heroes and cards work best along side this hero? If going on defence what trap combinations work best for this hero?

    Take a look at our example Ivy strategy.

    Have you got some top secret tips that you would like to share with the community? Hop on over to our Hero Strategy page to submit them!

    Win PAX Prizes!

    We’ve got some sweet prizes lined up from Robot Entertainment and you will be in for a chance of winning some exclusive OMDU PAX swag just for taking part. For those who submit a strategy to the database and are ranked one of the higher ratings you will be in for a chance to win. Also if you take the time to read and rate some of the contributions from the community you too will also be in a chance to win these sweet prizes. Up for grabs we have:

    • 2x OMDU backpack, wrist band, shirt, button set, and Founder’s PAX!

    Two chances to win, either by a higher rating strategy (randomly selecting amongst the  top rated strategies) or being randomly selected by reading and rating strategies (just make sure you are signed in to your REF account!).

    OMDU Patch 1.5 is out now! – Numbers and Stats updated

    The latest patch for OMDU is now ready for download. Just start the beta client and it will begin updating straight away. Be sure to read our update summary to be in the know of the changes.

    We have also updated our number and statistics database with the latest changes.

    OMDU Patch 1.5 coming next week

    Next Tuesday 23rd September is poised to be the next patch day for OMDU. There are a fair few changes lined up as we have come to expect. REF is here to bring you the highlights!

    New selectable difficulty levels

    Co-op players will now be able to choose from four different pre-set difficulty levels before starting a game. These difficulty levels will impact how the bots play and the four levels are defined as easy, normal, hard and for the brave amongst us, “nightmare“. The difficulty level system changes variables such as bot HP and damage to scale to the appropriate difficulty level.

    All new players must have first played at least one game on the “Easy” difficulty and beyond before they unlock the next. The rewards players get for playing difficulties is shown as below. If players can stick it out with the nightmare difficulty they can sweep up 150% worth of rewards.

    • Easy games are 75% (base reward – they also provide a bonus to players under 10) until level 10.
    • Normal games are 100% until level 15.
    • Hard games are 125% with no level limit.
    • Nightmare games are 150% with no level limit.


    Some much improvements have been made to Guardians to better bring them in line to the end goal, though its worth noting the Guardians are still very much still a work-in-progress. Some of the headline changes are that Guardians no longer care about damage type and they do unmitigated damage. They also provide +50 worth of armor for every type when players are near by.

    Heal and Mana regeneration from Guardians is granted as an aura, applied to allies in proximity. BUT… players who are in combat no longer receive the health and mana regen boost.

    Ball and Chain

    The lovely Ms Ball and Chain bags herself some extra HP taking her from 560 up to 610HP. Her motivation now lasts longer and While motivated, orc minions (sorry Bloodspike) now do an additional 20% damage.


    Dwarven fans should be pleased the Prospector’s mana cost for dynamite has been decreased from 50 to 40 mana.

    Sir Winston

    Sir Winston has had a few nerfs that players need to be aware of, so for Sir Winston here are the changes in full:

    • Curse heal on minions changed to 60 HP + 15% of maximum HP from a
      flat 120 HP heal.
    • Curse heal on players to 100 HP from 120 HP.
    • Curse mana cost decreased to 35 mana from 40 mana.
    • Curse cooldown decreased to 8 seconds from 10 seconds.
    • Primary damage reduced to 32 from 40.
    • Secondary damage reduced to 40 from 50.


    She has had her mana costs reduced for Fireform, Ignite and Flamethrower.


    Mesmorize now works on players! (3 seconds). Broken by any damage.


    Stinkeye also enjoys some mana reductions:

    • Spawning either totem mana cost decreased to 15 mana from 20 mana.
    • Arcane Bomb mana cost decreased to 80 mana from 100 mana.


    Tundra has had a number of buffs with HP going up from 560 to 610 and his heal going up from 100HP to 150HP. Winter mode will now keep going until mana runs out (it won’t just stop after 30 seconds). There are some more changes too so be sure to read the patch notes in full.

    War Mage

    The War Mage is a trustworthy hero indeed. So in this patch Robot have increased the effectiveness of his “Trust Me” ability.

    • Trust Me, duration increased to 10 seconds from 7.5 seconds.
    • Trust Me radius increased to about three traps from about one trap.
    • Trust Me movement bonus increased to 40% from 25%.


    As players would expect the patch brings a number of tweaks and changes to traps. Its worth reading the full patch notes if you want to dig into these. The main changes are with Boulder Chutes which now gives more damage the higher the trap is placed. Maximum damage is achieved at a height of five trap spaces. For a regular boulder chute, the worst placement will yield 215 DPS and the best will yield 484 DPS.

    Some amendments to Cursed Ground are notable:

    • Cursed ground cost increased to 2000 from 1750.
    • Greater Cursed Ground arcane armor debuff dropped to -40 arcane
      armor from -70 arcane armor.

    On the less notable front, decoys can now be rotated – how about that.

    Lightning Ring

    The popular lightning ring is getting some changes. Instead of firing one single large bolt of lightning it will now be numerous smaller shots. Quite a significant change. Robot says:

    The general sentiment is that the one-big-pulse items aren’t fun for the user (when they miss and then have nothing) or the target (when they suddenly get hit as part of a burst for a giant chunk of HP).

    Considering its high use in game it will be interesting to see what feedback comes out of this change from players.

    Wrapping up

    The above pretty much covers the main changes. However as always, be sure to have a peruse of the full patch notes to be fully in the know of all the changes that are taking place in patch 1.5 next Tuesday!



    Robot Entertainment at PAX 2014 (Part 2)

    Following on from our first part of Robot’s PAX Panel review we now move on from looking at the studios history to present day to looking at some of the interesting prototypes they have been working on in-between OMD2 and OMDU. For the first time we get a glimpse at some of he games that could have been from the creative minds at Robot.


    The first concept that came up at the studio was a game called Mithril, a project that Lance Hoke worked on. It was an accessible hex based browser game that would have the feel of Age that would work well on web browsers and tablets like the iPad. Similar to Tribal Wars but with a much deeper level of strategy. We saw the following concept art from the PAX slides:

    There wasn’t too much detail on this one, it sounds like it didnt get very far along before the next concept came to surface, not much to report on this one but be sure to check out the commentary on the Twitch VOD.


    Lonestar was the next concept the studio worked on. Ian Fischer described it as emergent gameplay which refers to the gameplay adapting to the actions of the player. For example in games like The Sims where players can tell their own story and the gameplay is shaped by the actions they take. Another example might be games like Fable where players actions can shape the world around them.

    In Robot’s case with Lonestar they set out to create a sci-fi sandbox world that woul have completely randomly generated planets. The players ship had crashed on one of these planets and the player was tasked with finding a way to survive and escape the planet. Everything about the planet would be a randomly generated simulation including the beings that were already living on it.

    The only downside with Lonestar were the challenges of managing the in-game ecology and for a number of other reasons, the project would have been a very large under-taking. Robot went on to scale down the project for their next prototype called “Victory”.


    The biggest thing that you’ll notice about Victory when watching the PAX panel video that it was a shooter. A big departure from the typical type of game for the studio to work on. Once again it involved planets that were generated emergently and colonies would be formed on each planet. The generated planets would all have their own unique environments and properties and everything in the game would be a simulation. One simple example would be how close and far the planet would be from the sun would affect the properties and environment of the planet. Players would take the form of a space troubleshooting team who would travel out to these planets. Players would have to figure out what was happening on each planet and what problems there were that needed fixing.

    Ian game some example of problems such as overheating reactors and being taken over by space pirates as just two possible scenarios amongst many others. Players would be challenges to resolve planet problems as quickly as possible before things got too bad. For instance enemies might get bigger and stronger over time, like this monster:

    Robot considered making a very early preview of Victory at PAX the year before, but in the end decided they would return back to Orcs Must Die! for their next game based on TONS of feedback they were getting from the community and press alike. As great and as interesting as these concepts are, there was just so much overwhelming demand to continue the OMD franchise and out of that Orcs Must Die! Unchained was born.

    Orcs Must Die! Unchained

    Following two very successful games of OMD the bots at Robot had long heard the calls to expand the multiplayer element of the game, first adding co-op in OMD2 and then having to cater for the desire to have PvP OMD gameplay. It was out of this that Unchained! was born, and Robot is set to deliver all the things a budding OMD fan could want including full 5v5 fortress siege multiplayer action.

    For the first time in the series players would be able to experience the offensive side of playing OMD.

    We are able to see some excellent early art of the game coming together from its early stages. It is interesting to see the steps Robot took before getting to what we see today in the closed beta. They even had long hair for the War Mage and Sorceress at one point to show that they have aged between OMD2 and Unchained. Here we can see one of the very early levels and early UI design:

    We can can also see some early hero designs below, some of which may still make it into the game. These are actually just a selection of hero ideas that are currently sitting on the walls at Robot HQ. They have a ton of ideas and there certainly isnt a shortage of ideas on the OMDU hero front. Check out some of these cool designs:

    Thoughts to take away

    Things that we can learn from the PAX panel is that Robot is a very diverse studio with very creative minds and can work on a number of different projects over an array of different game genres. We can get an idea that the studio is still interested in strategy but also have a keen interest in emergent gameplay. As we move forward into the future looking at Unchained and beyond, its an exciting time to be a Robot Entertainment fan and I’m sure the studio to continue to keep us guessing even more so from this PAX panel on what kind of other concepts are being though up from the orange pod inside the studio!

    Robot Entertainment at PAX 2014 (Part 1)

    Some of the bots from Robot Entertainment have been hanging out at PAX Prime this weekend, hosting their very own PAX panel titled “An afternoon of fun with Robot Entertainment”. In our first part of our two part series we cover the first part of the panel which looks at Robot history including their time at Ensemble Studios and the games that lead up to Orcs Must Die! Unchained.  For anyone who was in attendance there were plenty of free things being given out including a bag, poster, buttons, t-shirt, band and “Founders PAX” access to the Closed Beta.

    Fans who tuned in to the stream on Twitch were also in for an opportunity to win these sweet prizes. Also making an appearance again is the exclusive Cardboard Tube Samurai skin for the War Mage. This exclusive vanity skin is only being made available to PAX attendees and lucky Twitch stream winners.

    Ensemble days

    Digging into the panel things started off with an introduction to the studio including highlighting Robot’s internal biergarten that they have in the studio and the colour coded pods for each discipline of staff (artist, programmers, design, community etc). Following an introduction of the studio the panel began to talk about Robot’s roots including their time previously at Ensemble Studios taking the audience through the past legacies such as the Age games and Halo Wars, including the big Halo MMO project codenamed “Titan” that was unfortunately cancelled by Microsoft.

    The panel go into some detail about the cancelled MMO project and is well worth watching the stream for any Ensemble fans. Ian Fischer confirms previous Ensemble staffer comments that the game was largely cancelled due to Microsoft’s desire to pursue more casual games.

    Age of Empires Online

    The panel went on to talk about Age of Empires Online and how it started out as Age 4. Ian Fischer described how they originally thought about going back to the old caveman Age 1 settings whilst still at Ensemble Studios. When the studio was shut down, Microsoft wanted to continue the Age 4 project but didnt want it looking like another Age game and wanted to pursue a more casual look. It is this reason why Age of Empires Online adopted the casual more cartoony look in the final product.

    Robot also pushed to have all the Age games put on Steam instead of Games of Windows Live. Although they never did it in Robot’s time managing the Age Community, Microsoft has finally got round to it recently and the Age games have been top sellers on Steam for some time now.

    Prototyping new games

    Whilst most of the studio were working on Age of Empires Online there was a small group in the Orange Pod who spent time prototyping new games for the studios first original IP. Before things morphed into Orcs Must Die! the studio worked on a “tool kit” that would allow players to build their own games. This tool kit idea then turned into a game codenamed “Saber” which later became “Orcs Must Die!”. Here are some early art and designs for the game:

    You will notice that Saber started off looking much darker more serious than the lighter more comic feel of OMD today. As the development progressed and things like physics traps were added the OMD we see today was born. Of course it was soon time for the studio to name the game beyond its prototype name “Saber” and there were alot of discussions in the studio.

    “Orc Invasion”, “Overrun” and “Onslaught” were some of the names that were considered alongside Chris Rippy’s “Orcs Must Die!”. In the end it was whittled down to just two, “Onslaught” and “Orcs Must Die!” and the studio was split 50/50 on each name and in the end a decision was made to go with OMD. The OMD name also helped Robot’s art and design move the game into a more lighter setting. This can also be seen in the War Mage’s art development where he started out more serious before becoming the more goofy hero we see today:

    Orcs Must Die! shipped in 2011 and went on to win AIAS Strategy Simulation game of the year.

    Hero Academy

    Robot’s next original IP was to be Hero Academy a mobile game on Android, iOS and Steam. Once again the project started out from the orange pod. Patrick Hudson talked about the Team Fortress 2 integration and the relationship with Valve and also that they got approached by a number of other IP’s about adding more teams in the game, but it was felt that those would not be as good a fit. Hero Academy also won an award at AIAS, Mobile Game of the Year.

    Echo Prime

    The next mobile game spearheaded by Chris Rippy was a sci-fi RPG “Echo Prime” on iOS and Steam. Which by the way has recently had a price reduction if you haven’t already picked it up.

    Orcs Must Die! 2

    OMD2 was released 30 July 2012 and added a whole bunch of extra monsters, a second playable character (Sorceress) and added Co-Op. After OMD2 the studio decided that they were going to let OMD rest for a bit.

    More prototyping  - coming up in part 2

    Whilst the OMD series was placed on hold the bots began prototyping more new original games across various genres from strategy to FPS. We’re going to cover these very interesting prototypes in part 2 of this blog series later this week. Be sure to check back where we discect some of the other original ideas what have been toyed around with in the studio.

    In the meanwhile… be sure to check out  the stream VOD of the PAX panel where you can see the hour long panel talk about all of the things mentioned above and some of the things we are covering in part 2 later this upcoming week which includes these awesome never before seen concept ideas, and of course Orcs Must Die! Unchained. Check back soon!

    Watch live video from OrcsMustDie on Twitch

    Spotlight On: CusterDawg

    Its that Friday feeling time again as we delve into another spotlight on feature. This week we have CusterDawg in the limelight from the North American OMDU community. Custer is a regular poster on the OMDU forums and you may have seen his YouTube channel where you can find his gameplay videos of Hearthstone and Terraria. Soon Custer will start streaming videos of OMDU gameplay thanks to the new integrated Twitch feature found in the recent 1.4 expansion patch. Lets find out a little more about him in preparation for his streams!

    The Basics

    Name: Custer/CusterDawg/Robert
    Age: 25
    Home Town: Minnetonka, MN


    • What is day job?

    I do temp work and I’m also doing part time work at a school. I’m hoping to head back to school next year to get a degree, after paying down some student loans.


    • What is the most exciting thing that has happened so far in 2014?

    Besides OMDU? :P I’ve loved some of the movies that came out this year. Some highlights were Captain America: Winter Soldier, X-Men: Days Of Future Past, Guardians Of The Galaxy, Godzilla, and The Wind Rises. Can’t wait for Nolan’s Interstellar. Other than that was fortunate to have my 7th nephew born this week. :)


    • Do you have any pets?

    No pets because allergies have always been an issue. I suppose if I could have a pet it would be like a rabbit or something.


    • How would you describe your taste in music?

    I like to think of myself as a collector of experiences. I try to take that mentality into everything I do. In the case of music, I try to give everything a shot at least once. As a result I have 6000+ songs in iTunes with a bunch of CD’s left to upload. An example of some of my bands I have listed are: Madonna, Arcade Fire, Daft Punk, Beastie Boys, Radiohead, Air, Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, Rammstein, Beirut, Sigur Ros, Enya, etc. (a more comprehensive list would give people a much better idea, but lets just say there is a lot of stuff I listen to)


    • Favourite gaming system of all time? (PC/Consoles?)

    Don’t have just one. I have such great memories with a bunch of consoles. My earliest system that I played was the colecovision. Played pretty much most game systems at one point or another, family or friends had it. If I had to choose just one though, it would probably be PC. Not only do most games seem to get a port over to PC or emulation if you own the original game, but you just have more freedom and customization with a PC (Hardware, software, etc).


    • How did you discover OMD?

    I watch a lot of different Youtubers and the first one I ever subscribed to (Kage848) played the first game as a full LP. I also started watching another Youtuber (Sips), who funnily enough helped inspire one of our current hero’s name, play OMD2. After seeing just how much fun these two people had with the game, I had to get it. conveniently, it was a Steam sale at the time I had made up my mind. So I got both games and started playing the 2nd one co-op the entire way through with my buddy. Hours of fun developing strategies.


    • Outside of OMDU what other games are you playing at the moment?

    Currently I’m playing OMDU (most), Hearthstone, a Minecraft server with a bunch of mods, and trying to finish some games off in my Steam library.


    • What do you think of the new tutorial so far?

    It’s a good step in the right direction. It helps new players ease into the game and familiarizes them with some basic concepts to help them play the game. I especially like the fact that at the warcamp sections, you can’t skip out the menu and possibly miss some information. There are some bugs with it, like the arrow can get stuck some places and you have to guess where to go if you’ve never played the 2 lane map. Also, if you move faster than the tutorial intends, it skips over some dialog that might be important.


    • Well done for hitting level 40 – how long did that take you?

    Well I guess I’ve pretty much played every day for about 3 hours since the wipe (July 22) into Closed Beta. So about a month I guess. There are a few days where I either didn’t play, played a custom/co-op game, or the server was down. So total time to get there was maybe 250 hours? That’s not all wins either.


    • If there was one main thing you would like to see changed in OMDU, what would it be?

    Besides a bigger population, some tweaks to heroes/traps/minions, and some mechanics, it might be the state of trap disable. Right now, unless you have the Sorceress, an armored trap, or Gnome Repair Kit, your killbox on defense is completely at the whims of the trap disabling pushers. It feels like sometimes you’ve wasted your coin on traps when a competent Ivy player can disable your entire killbox the whole wave. I’d like to see either more armored traps, more heroes with trap reset, a weaver that provides disable resist/immunity, or having trap disable work different for heroes on defense. Like if as Ivy you went on defense, you could use your right click/disable as a trap enable, temporary immunity (before traps get disabled), or a disable time reduction. I realize that in regards to trap disable you need to find a very delicate balance as it affects a lot of the game.


    Shout Out

    • Is there anything you would like to say to all the OMD fans out there right now?

    Just want to tell all players, new ones especially, to give the an honest chance and be patient with it. Sure there are some things that can be frustrating about the game, but the game gets patched fairly frequently and the developers really care about your feedback. Lastly, be sure to do your part to make sure that the game and the community are the best it can be.


    Thanks for taking part CusterDawg! We’re looking forward to your future OMDU streams!

    Orcs Must Die! Unchained at Gamescom video

    Just over a week ago OMDU had a presence at the yearly Gamescom event in Germany. At Gamescom we first learned about the new hero, Tundra and the new captain system. Gameforge staff were on hand at the event to show off OMDU to the masses and some of the bots flew out to join them.

    Gameforge have produced a video as below giving fans an inside look at the event and interviewed Robot staffers – producer Chris Rippy and Lead Designer Ian Fischer. Check out the video below!

    More Orcs on show this weekend at PAX Prime

    Hot on the heels of Gamescom is PAX Prime taking place in Seattle this weekend. Robot will be at the event showing off OMDU including hosting their own Robot / OMDU panel taking place in the HEDGEHOG THEATRE on SATURDAY 8/30 1:30PM – 2:30PM. The panel will be streamed on Twitch as well – so don’t miss it!