With Florida in the headlines so much these days, it seems only fitting that we offer a map with green lawns, palm trees, and canals running behind everyone's house. Too bad we can't borrow the Alligator from the original Age of Empires.
The most notable feature of this map, is in fact, the network of canals, which creates a spiderweb effect as they try to connect every player's starting town and generate some pretty spectacular-looking minimaps. The more players, the more canals, so this map is much more interesting with 8 players than with 2. However, unlike some of our recent maps, computer opponents can play on Canals just fine.
Because there are so many Shore Fish (and even some shallow-water Marlin), little other food is needed. In fact, there are no Sheep or Deer to be found. The original Berry Bush and Boar will get you started, but then the main decision becomes whether to shore fish or build Docks. Scouting is a necessity however, for all of the canals do not necessarily connect, and you may find yourself in a tiny pond. In addition to providing food, the eponymous canals divide the map up in interesting ways. Angular isles of gold and stone sometimes require a Transport to conquer, and you can never be certain from which direction the enemy will strike. In order to avoid pathing bottlenecks, most of the wood is around the outside of the map, so head away from the map center to construct your initial Lumber Camp. As with some of the other land-and-water maps, deciding to go naval can be risky. A few Cannon Galleons can really save the day, but if you avoid making a land army, you may allow an enemy to roll right over you. Because there are some narrow gaps, this can be a defensive map, but it is trivially easy to Transport past the walls from many different directions.
For fans of Random Map Scripting, the main trick for this map was to use Connections of water instead of the more typical grass or road. In essense, the canals are exactly the same as the roads in Black Forest. Remember when trying this, however, that Connections are placed after most other terrain. As a result, you can't place deeper water within the shallow water, and you can't entirely prevent the water from chopping through forests (creating horible 1-tile bottlenecks on either side). Experiment with the terrain_cost for the various terrains you plan on replacing with the Connections, but you cannot use spacing_to_other_terrain_types as you can with true terrain. I made the player lands a different terrain from the rest of the map, and then did not allow the Connections to replace this terrain type, otherwise several Town Centers would no doubt be underwater. As with all Connections, the RMS tries to connect every town, so look for the water along the way to your allies or enemies. And watch out for that nasty Florida citrus canker on your Berry Bush.