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  • Age of Empires 2: Definitive Edition is here! This 20 year old game getting a 2019 makeover breathes some fresh life into the franchise bringing back many fans of the game who have since forgotten their hotkeys. Grab your copy and bring your defeated hostages back to AoKH for them to enjoy our un-rivaled library of this game's ins and outs.

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  • Check out the four new civilizations to choose from in the latest "The Last Khans" DLC!
  • CSC Image Bulgarians: “When nomadic Bulgar horsemen approached the Danube in the 7th century and encountered the local Slavic tribes, the stirrups that they brought changed European cavalry warfare forever. Fortify the nearby mountain passes with formidable Kreposts and punish overconfident invaders with powerful combined armies of cavalry, infantry, and siege engines! Your valiant Konniks, the pride of your army, will continue to fight fearlessly even after their horses are felled beneath them.”
  • CSC Image Cumans: “The vast Eurasian plains were home to nomadic tribes whose steppe husbandry and fearsome exploits still live on in the records of their terrified neighbors. Lead the Cuman-Kipchak hordes to war and pillage to your heart’s content, or offer your riders as coveted mercenaries in the service of foreign kings. When an even greater threat looms to the east, will you migrate west and adopt the lifestyle and warcraft of your sedentary neighbors, or vanish before an unstoppable wave of Mongol conquerors?”
  • CSC Image Lithuanians: “The forested boglands east of the Baltic Sea hold more than meets the eye. Coagulate the various Baltic tribes into a Grand Duchy with a new religion, smash invading forces with powerful cavalry and mobile spearmen and javelineers, and assemble the largest empire in late-medieval Europe! The Lithuanian unique unit is the Leitis, a heavy cavalry unit who strikes with such vigor that all armor is useless against his weaponry.”
  • CSC Image Tatars: “For centuries, fierce nomads roamed the Central Asian steppe, periodically launching distant migrations or campaigns to conquer or extort their sedentary neighbors. Don arrow-resistant silk armor and dominate the hills and plains with mobile horsemen and cavalry archers, or join the Mongol hordes and swell the ranks of the Keshiks, honored bodyguards of the Great Khan himself! Dare you follow in the footsteps of Tamerlane and mercilessly conquer an empire from Transoxiana to India, Anatolia, and Russia?”


Hidden Gems II: Click Challenge & A Curious Incident at the Abbey
Posted by Possidon on June 21st, 2020 @ 2:53 p.m.

Click Challenge & A Curious Incident at the Abbey

Sometimes we have days where we are short of time and only have time to play a short scenario or minigame. Other times we look for something unique, something which stretches beyond what a typical scenario would entail.

For my next entry into my Hidden Gems feature I’m going to be telling you about two very creative minigames that tick both of these boxes. The first of these is an older minigame that was released in 2007, while the second is much newer and was only released a couple of years ago in 2018. Both of these however, are very ingenious minigames with unique twists, and both an unfortunately fallen under the radar, gather less than 400 downloads each.

Click Challenge - by Sword_of_STORM
The first of these mini games is a unique game which was conceived as an experiment to see just a simple and small a scenario you can make with the editor. Built upon a 6x6 unit sized map, the smallest stable map size you can play on, Click Challenge is a very short but highly creative scenario.

The idea of the game is to use your “powers of delete” to remove the units which spawn in the map quickly in order to save Count Crapula from being killed. It’s not every day that you find a game which encourages the player to delete his own units in order to win. If this concept confuses you then go and download the scenario and find out for yourself.

The minigame is a highly creative piece of design and very simple in its execution. While it may be short, clocking in at under five minutes, it’s certainly an entertain way to kill some time and see just how small and simple a scenario can be made using the most basic scenario editor.

A Curious Incident at the Abbey - by Al_Kharn the Great
Our second minigame is slightly newer, being released near the end of 2018. Designed by one of AOK’s most popular and successful designers of recent times, Al_Kharn the Great, known for scenarios such as Tristan and Iseult, Ragnar’s Raids and the winning entry to this year's Defend the Spot Contest, The Last Romans. He is also part of the Forgotten Empires campaign team, his works include the Portuguese, Burmese, Bulgarian, Italian, and Indian campaigns featured in Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition. With this pedigree it is hard to see how this scenario has gone about unnoticed in the blacksmith with so few downloads.

A Curious Incident at the Abbey is a unique minigame which is sort of like and Age of Empires Race. The concept of the game is to collect all four of the relics scattered around the minigame. The challenge comes from the other player who is also trying to collect the four relics. If both teams have collected a relic then all of the relics get released from the Monasteries and are put back in their starting places. Therefore, the player must collect all four relics without his opponent collecting any. To stop them you must use your small band of soldiers to protect these relics and stop the monks collecting them. If you want to play something that is completely different to anything else you have played in Age of Empires then this is the scenario for you. It creative, enjoyable and provides you with a fun challenge that takes a little more brain power than one would expect

So, there you have it. Two brilliant little scenarios that really stretch the imagination of what an AOK scenario can be. Have you played these two scenarios before? What other creative minigames would you recommend to your fellow players? Let us know down in the comments below.
Defend the Spot Competition 2020 - Results Announced!
Posted by HockeySam18 on May 10th, 2020 @ 10:21 a.m.

The results of the 2020 AoKH Defend the Spot Competition are in! In a gripping standoff, Filthydelphia ably edged Bassi and Thanathor for first place with a score of 79/100 points to Bassi's 67/100 points and Thanathor's 64/100 points. This year's contest provided us with an excellent set of entries to enjoy.

Head over to the contest thread to congratulate the winners, and be sure to check out all of the entries:

- The Last Romans by Filthydelphia - Witness the ultimate battle between East and West as you defend the last bastion of the Roman Empire against impossible odds!

- The Battle of Sighnaq by Bassi - In the Tamerlane campaign, you helped Tokhtamysh Khan take control of the White Horde and defeat his rival, Urus Khan. Now, experience Urus' side of the story!

- A Most Unusual Package by Thanathor - Fight through hordes of enemies as you try to escort a very special package through hostile territory in this defend the spot scenario.

- Doorstep to Valhalla by Alkhalim - Defend the Norse settlement against nightly attacks from the Skraelingjar and raid their villages during the day. Utilize a completely custom Viking tech tree and the benefits of worshiping the various Norse deities.

- The Fountain of Youth by MrMew - claim the sought-after water and defend yourself from temple guardians!

- Perdiccas by BOT_Alan - defeat rival factions in a civil war over the Macedonian Empire.

- Defend the Fortress by Blume - With each minute that passes, you will have to defend against an ever-increasing horde. The map also holds a litany of quests and puzzles to be to discovered and solved...if you can survive long enough to solve them.

- Gensokyo - Seasons of Calamity by duyhung2h - Solve the mystery of a curse and engage in an epic conflict between factions.
Defend the Spot Competition - Less than 1 Week to go!
Posted by Sebastien on April 23rd, 2020 @ 10:18 p.m.
We're almost there, just under a week left to get your entry in for the 2020 Defend the Spot Contest! The scenarios are based around one objective, don't allow your base to be destroyed.

Check out the contest thread here and make sure your entry is uploaded to the Blacksmith before midnight April 30th!
Blacksmith Feature: U Da Prey (04.23.20)
Posted by Possidon on April 23rd, 2020 @ 3:01 p.m.

Hello, and welcome to the return of AOKH’s beloved Blacksmith Feature. For today’s feature we’re going to be looking at something a little bit different. Rather than looking at a particular file I’m going to talk about one of my favourite styles of multiplayer games – The UDP .

UDP stands for U Da Prey. A UDP scenario is an intense multiplayer scenario which were very popular back in the days of GameRanger and the Zone. The idea of the game that you have 7 players who are the Prey and 1 hunter. The Hunter has an unbelievably large army of over three thousand units covering the entire map, whilst the prey starts with 2 super units which constantly power-up, and have the option to buy more unit’s ford gold they earn for gaining kills.

The objective for the prey is to survive. One of your super powered units will be classed as your prey. This unit must survive to the end of the game. Any other units you have can be used to protect this unit. As prey your main challenge is to withstand the onslaught of attacks from the hunter’s ginormous army and keep you prey unit alive until the end of the game. After three hours the game is over and any players who prey are still alive are declared the winners.

The hunter in the other hand starts with a gigantic army of over three thousand units. These range from basic trash u it’s to armies of heroes and stronger elite units. The hunter must micromanage this huge army to hunt down the seven prey and kill them all within three hours. The hunter will be declared the victor if all the prey are dead before the three hours are up.

Finally, there is a second way to finish the game. The hunter is given a highly defended base, usually located near centre of the map. Inside this base is a king unit with a large hit point count. The prey can win the game early by counter attacking the hunter and killing his king.

Throughout the game there are a number of rewards that can be collected by both the hunter and the prey. These rewards consist of new super units, researching technologies and AP/HP upgrades for all your existing units. These are gained by acquiring kills, razings and conversions. All of the preys existing unit also regularly upgrade after every kill and tributes of food, stone and gold are also tributes to the prey. Across the map are shops where the prey can use these resources to buy extra units and upgrades. The hunter is also given a shop and has regular spawns of super units, each spawn being stronger than the last.

There is a whole range of UDP scenarios, with many taking various themes to create an immersive and entertaining atmosphere. Many creative trigger tricks are used to create the highly intense games, with some UDP scenarios amassing over eight thousand triggers.

For the rest of this feature I’d like to focus on one particular UDP scenario, which just so happens to be my favourite. It’s called The Deathly Cliffs. Originally created by >Heroes< it has been updated and enhanced by KakiharaBeast and uploaded to our Blacksmith.

Of all the amazing UDPs out there, The Deathly Cliffs is certainly the most creative and well-balanced. Set atop a cliff covered map cover wing various different climates, this scenario features many staple UDP features as well as adding a bunch of unique and original ideas. The game use different difficulty dynamics to balance the game effectively between the prey and the hunter and lots of creative trigger tricks, some which would amaze even the most technical scenario designers. As a multiplayer scenario, it is somewhat lacking in the map design and story elements, but The Deathly Cliffs features some of the best map design seen in a UDP.

So, there you have it. U Da Prey scenarios are intense and enjoyable multiplayer scenarios, proving you with hours of entertainment. I can’t recommend them enough.

Have you played a UDP before? What’s your favourite? Why not check one of the ones in our Blacksmith our and give it a go with your friends now!

Download The Deathly Cliffs | Browse the Blacksmith for Other UDPs
Game of the Year 2019 - Results are in!
Posted by HockeySam18 on March 01st, 2020 @ 05:03 a.m.

Voting has closed and the final results of the 2019 AoKH Game of the Year Awards are in!

Stealing the show were Bassi, Mr. Wednesday, and Lord Basse, who collectively claimed all five awards in the revamped GotY. Special attention is merited by Bassi, who holds the rare distinction of winning Designer of the Year two years running!

An honorable mention goes to Julius999, Rewaider, and Possidon, who appeared prominently in the results and only missed out on titles of their own due to some exemplary work by the aforementioned victors. Congratulations is in order for Possidon, who shocked all by becoming the first designer in AoKH history to complete a project a whopping 8 years in the works!

Head on over to the forum thread to congratulate the winners!
Re-Revived Community Spotlight I: Filthydelphia
Posted by Major Helper on February 29th, 2020 @ 03:18 a.m.

The curtains open, revealing a dark stage, with nothing but two red, high backed chairs, illuminated by spotlights. On the left one sits the interviewer, Major Helper, with his legs crossed, leaning his head on his hand. As if only now noticing the audience, he jolts and fixes his posture.

“Ah, hello there everybody! It is a pleasure to have you here. As you’re all well aware, I’ll be conducting tonight’s interview with Filthydelphia. He’s truly a long, long, LONG-standing member of the HeavenGames community, as well as part of the Forgotten Empires team that we know and love. Without further ado, Filthydelphia!”

With a grand sweep of his hand, Major Helper stands up to receive Filthydelphia who appears from the right of the stage amidst the applause, smiling and waving his hand. After a firm handshake, the two men take their seats. As the audience calms down, the interview begins.

Major Helper:
It’s a pleasure to have you join us tonight. I know it's rather sudden, but how're you feeling about this interview?

Is that the first interview question? *chuckles* I’m feeling good about it. It’s great to have an opportunity to answer any questions you have and let the community hear a bit of my voice outside of just the campaign scenarios.

Major Helper:
Indeed it is, abrupt and kind of awkward as it might be. Glad to hear you're enthused. Let's start with getting to know YOU, first of all. A/S/L?

I'm 34 years old, male, and currently live in Chicago. I live right by the famous "Bean" statue and Lake Michigan is a stone's throw away from me. I can actually see Lake Michigan from my living room window.

Major Helper:
Ooh, impressive. As a Finn I know and can certainly appreciate a good lake view. Tell me about yourself in real life. What field do you work and/or study in? What hobbies do you have? What brings you enjoyment in life?

I’m currently a second-year Master of Business Administration (MBA) candidate at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, which is the #1 MBA program in the world according to many rankings. I’m pretty sure I had nothing to do with that, though! I’m also currently a captain in the United States Marine Corps Reserve where I have the honor to command a very large company of about 500 Reserve Marines. It’s a maintenance unit so my Marines are everything from truck mechanics to radio repairmen to gunsmiths. I joke that real-time strategy games like Age of Empires are a major reason why I became a logistics officer in the military, but there’s definitely a kernel of truth in that. Playing these games growing up, you realize just how important the process of turning resources into combat power and moving men and supplies across the battlefield is to victory. As far as hobbies go, it’s tough to have many outside of Age of Empires these days with school and my military obligations, not to mention my work with Forgotten Empires! I’d say I’m fortunate enough to get paid to do my hobby which is to work on such a great franchise and tell the stories I’m interested in through the game’s campaigns, both official and custom works.

Major Helper:
Amazing! What came first, army or business studies?

I was a Finance major for my undergrad, worked a bunch of odds jobs, then joined the Marine Corps. I commissioned, meaning that I became an officer, in 2013. I started on my MBA in 2018.

Major Helper:
Mm, I see. Do you have a goal to aim for?

Professionally, I’d like to continue serving in the reserves as long as I can. It’s fulfilling work and I’m a patriot at heart. Besides, it’s definitely great to go away for a weekend once a month and do cool things like military field exercises, weapons ranges, and truck convoys! I suppose when your day job is making video games, you need something pretty out there to spice things up! In the civilian world, I received an offer to work at a major video game publisher this September so I’m excited to continue working in this industry! My long-term goal and dream is to become the head of a game development studio.

Major Helper:
That's a pretty impressive juxtaposition, honestly. Combining what's typically considered a pretty sit-down job with something that's the absolute opposite. On the other hand, it does make sense too, gotta blow off the steam somewhere. And your long-term goal's certainly not setting the bar too low!

I'd also like to think my military training helps me in designing tactically fun scenarios.

Major Helper:
Ah, good point. What sort of games would you be interested in developing, were you to one day achieve your dream?

With Age of Empires, you really see the power that games have in teaching history and other skills. I think there was an article in one of those trendy business management blogs about how someone learned everything they needed to know about running their start-up from Age of Empires! I think video games sometimes have a bad reputation, but they’re awesome tools for learning problem-solving skills and learning about history. When I played games like Age of Empires and Civilization as a kid, it inspired me to read tons of history books! So I would love to develop a brand new historical strategy game, especially one that would introduce something entirely new and different to most gamers. For example, in doing research for the African Kingdoms DLC for Age of Empires II, I learned a lot about West African cultures and mythology and I think a game that brings some of that history to life would be awesome! But regardless of the theme of a game, I can’t wait to work on new projects in this industry!

Major Helper:
It is certainly undeniable that games have a huge potential to teach people in various subjects, as well as boost their interest in them. Take me (and probably every gamer in a non-English speaking country) for example, there's no way I'd be able to use English as proficiently as I do without games. It’s the same with history, too. I doubt I'd know half of what I do without strategy games like AoK and Hearts of Iron 2. So, would your development studio be strictly strategy-game based? Or do you think there's space for other approaches like character driven exploration or some such?

Oh, I don’t want to give the impression that I’m only interested in strategy games! And certainly, me having my own development studio is far in the future, if it ever happens! I’d say any type of game can do the same things that Age of Empires does, which is immersing gamers into a unique and different world and making them want more outside of the game. I think that really describes the most exciting games to be a part of: ones that make players want to invest more time in the game's world even when not playing it. Whether it's learning about the underlying history, or reading novels related to a fictional game, or whatever else! I think every video game developer is thrilled when gamers are still excited even after they leave the main menu. Special props to games that also allow the community to shape the game through UGC like mods or custom scenarios. Games like that really have great communities!

Major Helper:
Those are certainly the best kinds of games, regardless of whether they're based on real life or not. I can't even count the amount of hours I can use modding games and researching how to do things more efficiently in them. Since we're already on the topic of games, walk me through the games of your life. What was your first digital game, and when did you play it for the first time? What are the main games that followed and that you held dear? Are you perhaps a PC purist or a consolist? Or is it whatever goes, it's all good in the end?

My first introduction to video games was sometime in 1990 when I was 5 years old. I have no idea what this game was, but my uncle had some sort of pixelated medieval fighting game. Think something like Mortal Kombat but with pixelated men fighting with quarterstaves. I was hooked. In grade school, we played educational games like the original Oregon Trail, Number Munchers, etc. Not long after that, we got a PC at home. I think the first game that really captured my imagination was the Dynamix/Sierra WW1 flight simulator Red Baron. I voraciously read everything I could on WW1 aviation. My introduction to real-time strategy games came with the first Warcraft, but the Age of Empires demo really struck a chord. I remember playing, I think it was the Rise of Rome demo, loving the ancient vibe of the menu and the music. When I saw a lion chase a gazelle past my town center on the first mission, I was hooked. It felt like a real, immersive world on that little screen, like I was transported back to the Stone Age with a world of wonder through the black fog on the game map. I couldn’t get enough of it! I guess you can say the rest is history. I have a PC and used to own an XBOX 360. I think if you're primarily a strategy gamer, you need to be on PC, but that distinction has mattered less and less over time and will probably not matter in the future with the technology changes happening over the next several years. And nowadays, you can find some pretty impressive games even on mobile!

Major Helper:
Sounds like history has always managed to strike a chord within you! What brought you to HeavenGames? Was it AoEH or AoKH that you first signed up for? What made this place gain a spot in your heart that makes you still visit it, untold years later?

I played Age of Empires before the second game came out so I was first on AoE Heaven back in 1998. There’s a quirk about the HeavenGames websites in that no one is registered before 3/31/1999 because there was a forum update that day that wiped everyone’s registration data. You can check every user on those two sites and none have a registration date before that, though some of us were certainly around from the earliest days! I think the custom scenario community really is the biggest draw to these sites. It was certainly the reason I got there. You can even find some of my embarrassing first attempts at scenario design hidden in the depths of the AoEH Granary! I stuck around until around 2003. The HD edition of Age of Empires II really is what brought me back at the end of 2013 – again, as a scenario designer. It’s great to have a community of designers eager to help each other out by answering questions and giving feedback! We’re lucky as fans of Age of Empires to have someplace like AoE and AoK Heaven because sites like this are rare for other games. Plus the Blacksmith really is an incredible and valuable resource. You could spend a lifetime playing Age of Kings and only barely scratch the surface of everything that’s in the Blacksmith!

Major Helper:
Indeed, the community surrounding Age of Empires games is amazingly good, with many talented and creative individuals that have made a huge amount of content that, to this day, gives an untold amount of enjoyment to the players. I'm assuming that scenario design is what got you your job with Forgotten Empires, or am I mistaken? What do you do there?

I’m one of the campaign designers on the team. I worked on the African Kingdoms and Rise of the Rajas DLCs for HD, Age of Empires: Definitive Edition, and Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition. Specifically, the campaigns I designed were Almeida (Portuguese), Bayinnaung (Burmese), Ivaylo (Bulgarian), and the remade Sforza (Italian) and Prithiviraj (Indian) campaigns for DE. The latter two have been completely redone from scratch with an all-new story and scenarios. I also worked on about half the scenarios in the DE version of AoE1. I was recruited through AoKH’s own HockeySam18 back in early 2015. I was actually deployed overseas for the military at the time but jumped at the opportunity to work on a franchise that’s been so dear to me. I think I even created the first outlines for the Almeida campaign – originally an Afonso de Albuquerque campaign, in fact – when I was overseas! Besides designing campaigns, I try to help the team anywhere else I can. One great thing about Forgotten Empires is that we’re such a small team and we’re all passionate fans of our games. Bert, the head of the studio, is open to feedback and ideas from everyone across the team so I’d like to think we all contribute in many ways besides our specific roles.

Major Helper:
You're clearly an important part of the team, no doubt about that!

At this point, Major Helper takes a look at his wristwatch, raises his eyebrow and takes a swig of water from a bottle hidden behind the chair. Noticing this, Filthydelphia checks to see if he has a bottle too. Finding it, he chugs down half the bottle, clearly parched. After both men have finished getting refreshed, the interview continues.

Major Helper:
Whew, we're approaching the end stages of the interview. It has been quite a marathon. Are there other things you'd like to tell about yourself, your work or what you're up to? If yes, fire away, if not, we'll move onto the traditional quick questions.

Well, I do want to plug some of my custom content and my YouTube channel. I’ve put out 10 custom scenarios for Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition since the game launched so if you still somehow haven’t gotten enough campaigns, be sure to check those out by searching for “PhillySouljah” either at https://www.ageofempires.com or through the in-game mod manager. As for my YouTube channel, I’ve been doing a Let’s Play series on the campaigns I worked on… right now, I’m covering Sforza. I talk about the history, the design choices, and even explain why Sforza is the Renaissance Han Solo! So if you want to check those videos out, subscribe to my channel “Filthydelphia Creations” at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClKwkfFF0iXCo9bn2Zj2iMA! Besides that, that's it. Let's fire away the lightning round!

Major Helper:
Make sure to check out his stuff, everybody! It's definitely worth your time. Here come the quick questions, no need to think about them too hard. Feel free to elaborate on your choices if you want to, though!

Red vs. Blue?


Major Helper:
Here's one closer to my heart:

Orange vs. Green?

Should've been the first question to totally throw me off! Green.

Major Helper:
Nice, good choice!

Chocolate vs. Ice cream?

Invalid. Chocolate ice cream!

Major Helper:
Ooh, naughty!

City vs. Countryside?

City. I'm in Chicago and used to live in NYC and Philly. Not sure how to survive in a place without a subway system!

Major Helper:
Fair enough!

Baseball vs. American Football?

Football hands down. Baseball is like a cure for insomnia!

Major Helper:
So I hear, never watched it myself. Never watched the Finnish version of baseball, either.

Favorite source of caffeine?

None. I actually don't drink coffee, caffeinated teas, or sodas. Don't drink alcohol or sugary drinks either. I'm totally weird.

Major Helper:
Atypical, but certainly interesting!

Happiness vs. Contentedness? *mutters* What a mouthful of a word, contentedness, contentedness… *chuckles*

Is this a trick question? Not actually sure what the difference is. Let's go with contentedness, since it seems you get happiness from that word and I'm only here to make you, the interviewer, happy!

Major Helper:
Much appreciated! Personally I tend to think contentedness is what one ought to strive for, as happiness is passing, with shifting goalposts, while being content with what you do and how you are, is a state of being. Well, from my point of view, anyways. Here's the last one:

Glass half-full or half-empty?

Half-full. Everything will work out. And even if it doesn't, you have to believe it will.

Major Helper:
That’s a fine way to think indeed. Last but not least, you can offer the world something. A bit of life advice, a recommendation for a book/movie/game/whatever, something like that. The word’s free.

Here’s a very important piece of advice: if you haven’t yet played Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition, play it now!

Major Helper:
*laughs* A fine businessman to the very end! Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview. It's been a fun couple of hours.

Thank you for having me. It's been a pleasure.

The men shake their hands and bow to the audience that bursts out in applause. Then, the lights dim and the curtains close, signaling the end of yet another Community Spotlight. The audience eventually calms down and begins to leave while chatting to each other about the contents of the interview.
Hidden Gems: Black Knights and The Horsewizards
Posted by Possidon on February 23rd, 2020 @ 05:47 a.m.

Black Knights & The Horsewizards

Have you ever noticed that amongst the great heap of trash that you can find in the Blacksmith, every once in a while you can come across something that is truly great, yet has slipped through the public eye to become lost to time?

Well that is where this brand new feature comes in. Many of you are probably aware that I love to post reviews; I especially love to dig deep into the blacksmith to find something new. Over the years I have some across a bunch of undiscovered gems lingering in the depths of the Blacksmith waiting to be discovered. Therefore, I have taken it upon myself to do just that. Every month I will be introducing you to some of these files which I have found. Many of these will be smaller files, that may not necessarily warrant their own Blacksmith Feature. These will range from smaller mod packs made up of a single unit or two, to minigame scenarios or maybe even something slightly larger that might not have as many downloads as it deserves.

For this months feature I will be introducing you to two interesting units from the early days of our heaven.

Black Knights - by Big Travis
Every scenario needs an antagonist. Do you ever feel like sometimes you can't find a unit in the editor that looks evil enough to portray that evil warlord threatening the land? Then let me introduce you to the Black Knight, a nifty little unit by Big Travis. A well respected modder back in the early 2000s, Big Travis is perhaps best known for his two large conversations Axis & Allies and North America to Arms. As the name suggests, this unit is a knight in black armour, equipped with a bright red sword. In reality this is just a recolour of a two-handed swordsman, but done exceptionally well. Have you ever wanted a better unit for your evil villain or a demonic knight for your fantasy scenarios? Well then this is defiantly I unit you should check out.

The Horsewizards - by Theodred
Fantasy scenarios are a common occurance, you can find a large number of them in the Blacksmith. Many of these feature characters that practice magic, and there is a good variety of modded units that you can use to represent them. Agammemnon's Wizards & Warlocks is probably the most popular of these, or you could use Gandalf from one of the many Lord of the Rings mod packs. However, sometimes you might need a magical character thats a little bit faster, maybe something that can ride a horse. That's where the Horsewizards come into to play. This unit by Theodred is another old gem from 2001 that I discovered a while ago. This unit is decent copy and paste model that merges the Priest from the original Age of Empires game onto the horse of the Conquistador. Adding some lightning bolts into the units attacking graphics then turns this interesting unit into a mounted wizard, hence the name. A great addition to any fantasy scenario, this is also one of the only mod packs that I have found that adds a mounted wizard into the game.

It's important to note that both of the units are quite old, and were uploaded as AKX files. For those of you who do not know, AKX files were used for the most popular modding tool of AOKH's early days: Mod Pack Studio. Unfortunately, Mod Pack Studio no longer functions on modern operating systems and we now directly use SLPs files rather than AKX. However, that doesn't mean these units are useless. There are various tools that you can use to extract the SLP files from the AKXs, Turtle Pack, SLX Studio and 7Zip can all be used and there are guides in both the University and the Forums that can help you with this.

So, there you have it, two unique and interesting hidden gems from the depths of our Blacksmith that you now know exist, if you didn’t already. Go and check them out now!

What do you think of our new feature? Have you found any hidden gems in the Blacksmith that you would like us to feature? Let us know in the comments below?
Some of us return to the mortal realms
Posted by Sebastien on February 16th, 2020 @ 8:44 p.m.
As you know (or we've announced), the site is currently going through some changes and we're building something that will help grow the scenario design and modding scene further into the future.

Part of that means having staff that are active and engaged in the community, perhaps more so than previously.

I regret to announce that Dead_End and Lord Sipia are no longer staff. Whilst both are long term, respected members of the community, and very capable staff; it's just unfortunate (and understandable) that life sometimes gets in the way.

Matt, Possidon and myself, have took over Blacksmith duties from Dead_End, and Major Helper will still be managing the Towns Crier, with support from the rest of the staff.

Can we all give a thank you for their time and commitment. You'll no doubt still see them around the forums, but just not in colors.

Thank you!
Defend the Spot Scenario Contest: 2020 Definitive Edition
Posted by Mr Wednesday on February 15th, 2020 @ 3:09 p.m.
Once again the call to all you scenario design and editor enthusiasts goes out! And this time, get your Definitive Edition editor tricks ready!

We are excited to announce the Defend the Spot 2020 Contest, exclusively for Definitive Edition entries. This competition pits designers against each other to design a defensive scenario. Whether it's a castle siege, holding a pass, or a bridge defense, designers will be asked to use Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition to design a scenario where you must defend against superior forces to win the day. Go HERE to scope out the competition, or go sign up yourself!
Blacksmith Feature: Mare Nostrum (01.31.20)
Posted by Possidon on January 31st, 2020 @ 03:38 a.m.
Article written by HockeySam18

After a long hiatus, the Blacksmith feature is back! For this future, we'll be diving into an oft-ignored sector of AoKH's treasure trove of content. Released in the summer of 2014, shortly after his timeless masterpiece The Relics of Athalen, Mare Nostrum RP is Lord Basse's spin on the RP genre of multiplayer scenarios.

What is RP? What even is multiplayer, you may ask?

RP is a game mode where players assume control of various factions set in a unique world--historical, legendary, fantasy, or a mix--with its own lore and backstory, and conduct themselves as if they were the actual sovereigns of their respective regions. Players agree to abide by a set of rules and conventions of the genre and the specific map; you may not declare war on another player without a valid reason, for example, and diplomacy is conducted through the game chat. Furthermore, each faction has its own independent motives and claims that players can choose to pursue or ignore throughout the course of the match. You are conceivably free to disobey the rules and behave callously towards your neighbors--but don't be surprised if the other players dogpile you for it.

Dive into the world of Mare Nostrum, which is set in the fictional Gwyndlegard universe that you might know from Lord Basse's other custom campaigns. Play as the domineering titans of Amaria, Arthalien, and South Ondoria, all with nefarious designs upon their smaller neighbors; or take command of the smaller states of Yellowside, Berydia, Seragon, and Gwyndlegard, all with ambitions far exceeding their size. The gameplay revolves around an inland sea ringed by land, requiring players to carefully order their priorities--will you invest in a booming yet vulnerable economy, or assemble formidable land and naval forces to back up your expansionist claims?

Despite the peaceful beginning of the scenario, players will soon be drawn into deadly conflicts as resources run low, colonies declare independence, and the strong claim sovereignty over the weak. The variety in the design of each faction lends contributes to the endless replayability of the scenario. Factions in an initially strong position can be disadvantaged later if they allow their rivals to grow, and with seven players the possible combinations of alliances and their potential to shift are manifold. The balance of power is always tenuous, and the smallest aggression has the potential to set off a catastrophic conflict.

One major strength of Mare Nostrum is in its dedication to the proverbial tenet that 'less is more'. While most RP designers out there cram their maps with fortresses and objects to the point of overflow--often because they try to encompass too much in too little, Mare Nostrum has no such sense of unhealthy congestion. Players all begin with decently-sized settlements, but outside of them lie vast woodlands, verdant open plains, an arid, forbidding desert, and rich islands to claim. The map encourages players par excellence to expand organically, and a seamless byproduct is the competition that such conditions encourage. This approach is so effective that yours truly can shamelessly admit that one of his prior works was heavily influenced by it

To help orient players, the author also saw fit to provide downloaders with two mapshots of the file, one plain and one annotated with the territories and initial claims of each faction:

Mapshot | Annotated Mapshot

These are by no means binding, but serve as a general guide for newer players. Additionally, in typical fashion unable to resist complementing his works with a rich story, the author has included a manual in the download with some lore that the players are free to enjoy--and has also filled out the ingame information panels with rules, a brief backstory, and motives.

\In sum, Mare Nostrum RP has and will guarantee players hours of fun, and rightfully stands among the hegemons of the RP scenario genre. Download the CD version or the HD version of the map here on the AoKH Blacksmith, or subscribe to the file on the Steam Workshop!

CD Version | HD Version | Steam Workshop Link

Without further ado, rush to download and enjoy! Go forth and conquer--and see you next time!