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Early on in Warcraft's life, players noticed that 2 peons would often be chopping the same tree. A peon would chop a piece of wood, and it would force the other peon to have to start all over again, chopping something else. This is a very frustrating thing, but it all depends on these 'magic' trees. Most of the times when you see 2 peons double chop the same tree, it would of had a different outcome if the other peon finished chopping first. I will call these 'magic trees' but it really refers to a tree that will cause 2 trees to disappear when chopped.
This is not an easy thing to explain on a web page but I'll give it a shot. First of all, we are going to use a reference that we will call horizontal treelines. As the name implies, this is simply the edge of the trees, going horizontally across the map. Now take a look at the picture to the right. Each line I have drawn on picture represents a horizontal 'treeline'. I've drawn each one that occurs in that entire picture. There are a couple of very important things to note here. First of all, in the top left area of the picture, the trees are running down and to the left, diagonally off the screen. When trees are running purely diagonal, each one is considered to have a treeline. Also note the lower of the brighter green lines. That little crack in the trees down there, causes that to be a treeline as well. Although no unit can fit in there, it is still considered a treenline. If you were to go into the map editor, you could take out that little crack, and it wouldn't change the available area for ground units, but it would remove that treeline, and change the way the trees work when being chopped.
Chopping from a treeline
Ok, hopefully you understood that, and could pick out horizontal treelines on a map because now we are going to consider chopping them. The rule goes, if your peon is matched up at the same 'height' as a treeline and chops diagonally into the trees, the peon will chop 2 trees. This is confusing to say the least, but the picture below will help explain it. It's the same picture that we have seen before except this time, the red circles represent peons at the same 'height' as the drawn treelines. The red arrow indicates the direction of chopping that would cause your peon to take 2 trees instead of 1.
So if I were to take that peon, and stand him in anyone of those circles, and chop in the same direction as the arrow indicates, my peon would end up taking 2 trees instead of 1. Below are the pictures with my peon in the same place as the 2 green circles that I have drawn.
No matter which way I chop those 2 trees, the result will be the same. The resulting picture is shown to our right. Notice how it looks like he chopped 3 trees with just 1! What the heck happened? Yes, he actually did chop '3 trees', meaning that he did create 3 more spaces where ground units or buildings could be placed. It happened like this because we had our peon doing a treeline diagonal chop, which always takes 2 trees. It's because of that little 'crack' in the bottom that causes 3 trees to be taken. That little nook does not allow any units or buildings to be built there, but when a tree is taken beside it, it has to disappear too, for graphic purposes within the game. And when any space is created where you can place your units or buildings where you couldn't before, it uses the 'tree stumps' as the graphic to show this. That's what happened here.
Chopping towards a treeline
You can also take 2 trees when chopping towards a treeline but your peon has to be 2 spaces from it. Again, check out the following pictures to see the peons positions, and the result.
This time, we were able to take 2 trees, by having peons 2 steps below (or above) the treeline, and chopping back towards it. As strange as it seems, the peons both clear out 2 spaces of wood when they finish chopping. But those are just 2 of 6 peons that have the ability to take 2 pieces of wood here. The following 2 pictures shows the other 2 groups of 2, and the direction they have to chop, in order to achieve the same wood chopped as above.
Putting it all together
We can take all of the examples so far and simplify it. What is really happening in all of the previous examples, has got to do with the graphics of the game. The tree line is rounded to make it look more realistic, but the game is actually made up of blocks. When you chop a tree that is 1 'block' off from a horizontal treeline, the game has no way of keeping the tree that makes the treeline there, so it just disappears with it. This means that if you ever chop a tree that is 1 square above or below a horizontal treeline, no matter which direction your peon is chopping at it, you will end up taking both trees.
The 2 images on the right show this. The red circle shows the tree that is one above that bottom treeline. The bottom peon is at the same 'height' as that treeline. Any 3 of these peons have the ability to take out 2 trees, by just chopping towards the red circle. In this example, I chose the middle one (since I haven't shown you that way yet). After the peon finishes chopping, the trees where the bottom green circle, and middle red circle are gone. This happens because the trees where the bottom green circle is (the treeline), don't have a way to represent themselves on the screen, when there is no tree next to it.
There are a few instances where this knowledge helps.
(1) - You can find when peons are accidentally chopping the same tree, as long as you know which peon started first. For example, let's say that one peon was on a horizontal treeline, and started chopping diagonally, such that he was going to end up taking both trees. Then a second peon comes along when the first peon is only 2 chops into his 51 chops. This second peon is forced to stand 1 square above the first peon, and ends up chopping down towards the treeline. What happens is when the first peon finishes, causing both trees to disappear, the tree that the 2nd peon was chopping is no longer there! That second peon just wasted 49 chops, and now has to start over on another tree. This is bad in any game, but can be absolutely devastating early in a low resource game. Do not let your peons chop the same tree!
(2) - In some games you simply need more room to build. Being able to take out 2 or 3 trees a chop allows you to quickly free up more space for your buildings. There are even some maps where you have to clear out space in order to build, such as CrampedBNE, and Crowded. Sometimes you need to clear out more room inside your base, just so you can fit all of your big buildings...mound, alter, barracks, etc.
(3) - Some start locations have very little lumber, and you need to make sure that you use as much of it as you can. A good example of this is on High Seas Combat in the bottom right location. There is very little wood there, so you are going to need it all for whatever strategy you use. You want to make sure that your peons are NOT chopping 2 pieces of wood at once.
So why doesn't this work with 'vertical treelines'?
It doesn't work this way because Warcraft 2 has a way to draw the trees if you harvest the one that is next to that vertical treeline. Go try it out!
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