MGC11 - All For The Horse
This is a minigame where you must purchase fighters and upgrades/stuff in order to fend off invaders. Fend them all off in order to win.
There are 3 difficulty settings available and hints/tips are included. However, you will still need to use your head and good strategies to win.
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"All for the horse", is an arcade style minigame (third place in the 2011 Minigame Competition), in which you are given the task to protect a rather uncommon "artefact"... you guessed it, a horse. Despite the simplicity of its concept and its minigame status, the game is rather intricate thanks to the number of strategies and tactics that you can use, as well as the number of enemy waves, and is guarranteed to offer an extended and enjoyable experience.
I dare say this is one of the best games of its kind on here. The concept is almost flawlessly set-up and the author's proficiency at everything trigger-related is obvious at any given point of the game. I have not met any bugs, nor did I find any genuine cracks in the game's structure to exploit. The mechanics are well-studied and the player is given a lot of interactivity in choosing his strategy, be it good or bad (in the latter case, he will usually find out the hard way). You can choose to either spend your gold on troops (archers and heavy scorps) or you can use it to get useful upgrades, some of which will be very expensive, but might prove very useful. The terrain is another thing that the player needs to take into account when making choices, and you have to adapt quickly to ever-changing waves of enemies. The diversity of the challenges will keep you into the game for the most part, but perhaps it could've been shortened a little, as the last waves tend to become a bit boring. However, all in all it has been a well above average game experience for me.
This kind of game is tricky to get right, balance-wise. The author has obviously put in a great deal of effort into balancing it by including difficulty dinamics, but I still found it excessively hard, if not impossible, to win. On standard, it was pretty easy up to what I assume was the final boss stage (the cobra), which quickly turned all of my scorps into dust and then went straight for the horse, killing it in a matter of seconds. On moderate, I managed to go almost as far (one stage prior to the boss), but I was really struggling for the most part. On hard I didn't even bother to play as I know my limits and it was pretty obvious I would get destroyed, but my guess is that it would provide an appropriate challenge to more skilled players than me.
Though I have played games of this type before, few of them have managed to keep my interest so far into the game and fewer had the replay value that this one did. The waves of enemies are well thought-up and logically ordered, and all of them have something special about them to prevent the game from getting repetitive or unchallenging (maybe with the exception of the woad raider horde, given the previous infantry waves). Most of the bosses aren't that special or challenging, but they do have very funny lines to throw at you (the saboteurs got me laughing out loud). The upgrades and the strategic possibilities given to the player make this game really shine. The soundtrack was okay-ish and it certainly fit with the game's style, but it really got dull at one point to listen to the same track over and over, and it got me wishing for a "click me to stop the music" option somewhere on the map.
MAP DESIGN: 5-
It might not be a superb map aesthetically speaking, but it is very...and I do mean very fitting for this kind of game. It provides the player with a lot of strategic spots to take advantage of and is generally pleasing to look at, while at the same time keeping the eye candy to a minimum and leaving a lot of open space for the fights to take place. I cannot think of a better way in which a map for this type of game could be done, so it gets the full mark from me.
The story is obviously not very extensive. Actually, the player doesn't really know much about the background of the game (except for the history text which implies that the horse used to belong to someone's late father - not too helpful), or why the enemies would care so much about killing a horse, but I can't say that I cared too much about those things, about their logic or lack thereof. The gameplay was good enough to make me forget about them, and it was obvious from the beginning that story wasn't going to be the focus.
Objectives and hints give a very clear, concise and thorough description of what you are supposed to do and what you can do to help you succeed.
A very solid minigame, one of the best of its kind and a very recommended download. I recommend to the players not to get intimidated from the first try and think their "moves" in advance. To the author I would recommend to make things a little easier in the final stages of the game.
It's taken a long time for me to get round to playing this, and it's been a long time since I've done a review. This is probably the first time that I've ever done a review because I thought a file was under-rated.
In my opinion, this is the best arcade-style game ever made for AoK. The concept is simple but good, and the execution is very slick. The depth and variety of tactics is excellent, and exceeds that found in other arcade-style games found in the Blacksmith.
Make no mistake, this is one of the hardest scenarios in the Blacksmith. But it is beatable, even on Hard difficulty, with appropriate strategy and tactics. The challenge is almost all to do with these, and barely at all to do with micromanagement. This distinguishes the scenario from some in the Blacksmith which are annoyingly difficult because they are fiddly and/or tedious. Once you figure out a good approach and execute it you can win, and not before. In my view, this makes it ideal for an arcade-style game, which is not something you should be able to breeze through.
The concept is not new, although I would still consider it somewhat creative. What is very good, however, is the use of the full range of units that AoK has to offer. Unlike many arcade-style games, this one avoids feeling repetitive as most of the rounds have a unique feature about them. Such good use is rarely made of some of these units.
Map Design: 5
The map design is pretty enough, but not superlative aesthetically. The important thing though in a game of this type is how it works tactically. In that respect, it is superb. Elevation, cliffs and other objects are carefully placed, and the canny player will be able to make good use of them once the subtleties of the map are realised.
It's an arcade game, so a simplistic story is to be expected. Don't expect anything special in the story department, although the story is well done for what it is. The instructions are very good and clear. My one quibble would be that it would be nice if one or two pieces of information could be given to the player from the start. For example, it would be good to know that gold is infinite.
Overall, this is a fantastic experience in AoK. No doubt it could be expanded and made more elaborate, but what is there at the moment is essentially flawless. Perhaps it would be better still with a wider range of units and strategies open to the player, but that does not detract from its current state. The only thing that could prevent the player from enjoying this greatly is if the difficulty proves too much. For that reason, I offer some advice based on my own experience with this scenario, for the assistance of any frustrated players out there. Don't read the following tips if you'd rather figure out how to win entirely by yourself.
Tips (not authoritative, but they worked for me):
1. Upgrade your capacity to get gold as a top priority. Until you've maxed out your options on gold-gathering, try to hire only as many units as you need.
2. Technologies are only important when you've got a decent number of units for them to have an effect on.
3. Your placement of towers is key. Use them along with the terrain to create a barrier that traps attackers. This is key for the later rounds.
[Edited on 12/24/12 @ 05:53 PM]