EDITED REVIEW of 'Battle of Mayapan'.
Battle of Mayapan is a single scenario, a mix of mainly B&D with a RPS start. The story is fiction; you play Mêrpantiôq who fled imprisonment of the Spaniards in Mayapan.
PLAYABILITY: Battle of Mayapan has some entertaining side quests, the RPS part an above average game play, but the scenario is not without flaws and playability issues. At the shrine, the future balance becomes a gamble due to a wrong trigger choice. According to the in game text, an archer and one monk should join, I continued from the shrine with one, two (the wrong ones) and three monks depending when the area trigger fired during the healing process. Better to set the objects in the effects instead of the area for the change ownership trigger. Arriving in Mayapan, with a villager I saved before, a rebellion starts, and some units change ownership to player one. When you ring the town bell, the saved villager garrisons in a tower at the right of the gate you arrive, two others in a tower at the right of the southern gate. These three villagers were stuck at their towers when they ungarrison, annoying to redirect them to other towers during battle from a saved game and you need them badly to prepare defenses after the rebellion. You encounter the infamous burning gate bug in case you research fortified walls, and it is aggravating to find that walls and gates are disabled, your gates shred without attacks. Illusory to believe that a player would notice during battle followed by constant attacks that the fortified wall tech is superfluous, the tech should be disabled in the editor. The partly not walk-able forest forces your units into roundabout ways, annoying in front of the east gate and for the side quest with the horses, confusing that three horses did not change ownership. The final cut-scene does not continue on standard difficulty because a unit is supposed to kill a villager for the next trigger to fire, which it obviously will not do. I refer to that under instructions. On higher difficulty levels the villager walks away when shot at, which spoils the scene, as it looks like a villager tied to a pole. The reason is a tower in range, while the hand-cannoneer has to approach after the diplomacy change; the villager flees as the tower-arrow hits first. Nevertheless, the game play was above average and never boring. 4-
BALANCE: The author recommends playing the scenario on the hard level, which was overall too easy, exception to the start of the B&D part. That part was almost impossible; the main reason lies in the technically poor map design, difficult to organize your defense with fields (water), houses, trees and a barrack in your way. After deleting some buildings and the construction of towers, the level was unbalanced to the easy side. I had the impression that there were fewer attacks than on the lower levels and the comp players gave up early. The yellow player gave up after the horse quest half way to his main base, and the orange player battling in his base, before I could raze the castle or cross the river. With the author's restriction not to play the scenario on standard, I consider the start of the B&D as too difficult for intermediate players and do not recommend to these players to download Battle of Mayapan. Moderate was well balanced and the balance of the RPS part is good on all three levels. 4
CREATIVITY: Above average creativity with regenerating forest, fish, gold and stone mines, nice to see the 'Rpg town' utility by CknChaos in a scenario, that alone was worth the download. In addition, good sounds, custom made AI, and a double storage Fire Water House. On the downside, the side quest with ten horses was all but creative. The critique is not that it is often used by designers, unrealistic that three horses the scout spotted near the enemy stables did not change ownership. The balance suffered from repetitive attacks, there was no progressive development regarding the challenge and a design to be played only on one difficulty level is not creative either. 4
MAP DESIGN: The designer has his own personal, artistic style. The author wrote “Very eye-candied jungle”, and the map presents a mix of Asian bamboo and European oak forest into tropical jungle, the bamboo representing high grass, growing around water and aside of paths. The oak looks misplaced in the tropical environment, the one of the East Coast of Central and all South America is another kind, compared to the northern oak, it is dainty, graceful, minute, more like a bush and the leaves are not totally green they go into silver, the TC editor does include these 'oak bushes' already. A lot of effort went into the map, but overall, it was technically a poor design. Villagers that are tasked to build a tower are stuck in trees, a group of soldiers tasked to a map point divides due to the clustered map and are slaughtered, horses turn round, run in the false direction, towards the enemy, the paths were narrow and maneuvering an army a question of luck. 4
STORY/INSTRUCTIONS: The scenario starts with an introduction cut-scene, which brings you well into the story, not much of a story though, but still acceptable for a B&D, above average. I like the special touch of the epilogue cut-scenes, one for winning the second with the ‘birth’ of a new hero. Furthermore, the various hints, numbered for the objectives and a good designed bitmap. The many spelling errors do not affect the rating; the author's first language is not English. The bug on standard difficulty was commented with "BTW, i haven't said you should play it on easy..." and yes, the author wrote on his comment page "I recommened this game to play on hard mode!" That the scenario does not play on standard (the end cut-scene) should be mentioned in the hints. To only recommend another level is not enough and not an excuse for a bug. In addition, the objective to bring ten horses is misleading with thirteen on the map, a hint that only ten change ownership or you're not allowed to loose any, would have been appreciated. 4
OBSERVATIONS: Military units do not attack villagers on the standard difficulty level. Units garrison in towers, castles and town centers.
I edited my review posted 06/01/04 after I received some e-mails of the author and considered his intentions for map design, balance and instructions. I removed all historical references in my introduction, being the aim of critiques even though I wrote that the story is fiction. I explained the issue with the villagers stuck at towers more deeply as the author pretends that it only happens on my computer, which applies also to the villager who walks away when shot at, to explain the reason in detail. The villager walks away ten times out of ten on hard and moderate tested from saved games.
SUGGESTIONS: Edit your scenario and I edit my review.
IN CLOSING: Battle of Mayapan is a best of AE II, download now!