(Updated on 02/18/05
The Battle of Maldon, 991 AD
A Battle betwen Vikings and Saxons
From the Journal of a Viking soldier: I can remember it. It was a cold freezing morning. The other soldiers who was not rowing the Dragonship stod ready with their swords or axes and shields. at the front of the ship, King Olaf Tryggvasson of Norway stod. I went to talk to him. "Olaf? Might I ask you a question?" I asked. Olaf looked at me with his eyes, he turned his view to the coast of Essex. "Soldier!" he said. "You can ask me your question" "Are we for certin going to raid Maldon?" "Yes soldiers. Even if we get the gold we want we shall loot and burn Maldon to the ground then return home to Norway and share our loot" That was the last thing he said to me. When we were closing Northey Isle, Olaf spoke a speech: Vikings! We are the choosen. The elite warriors of Odin and Thor! If anyone will try to stop us from looting Maldon, then they shall die! If I still stand with my mighty axe on the coast of Essex, any Saxon who dares to fight us, shall die!"
-Costom sounds and music
-Raid of Maldon
-Saxon last stand after retret
-Viking reinfocements arrives by boat
-Call for reinforcements
Enjoy this wonderful Fixed Force!
If any bugs or anything went wrong, email me at Exar21@gmail.com ;-)
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The Battle of Malden by Exar is a single scenario fixed force campaign depicting a Viking attack on Saxon England in 991 AD. The Vikings land at the Island of Malden in Essex, and are confronted by the great Saxon General Earl Byrhtnoth. The player assumes the role of King Olaf Tryggvason and his Viking Raiders and must attempt to defeat the Earl’s forces in battle.
PLAYABILITY: In general, the scenario was quite enjoyable to play. The battle at the start may seem hopeless, but the player must not give up hope, since reinforcements are not far away. A nice touch is the raiding of the Saxon villages at the end of the battle, and the Saxon’s Last Stand was also a very good part. However – these good points are severely undermined by the numerous bugs and small bad points that mar the game: The biggest and most annoying of these is if the Saxons are defeated in the first battle they don’t flee, due to the fact they have become trapped by the player’s forces and the river areas. Some simple trigger work to move the player’s units would solve this, as it would allow the Saxon units to flee. Its bugs like this that drag the scenario down throughout, and it would appear that a great deal more play testing is needed. Another rather annoying point is the fact that the player cannot deploy his forces how he likes in the first battle due to the fact that the two opposing forces are right next to each other when the scenario begins. A better option would be to give the player control for a few seconds before the battle begins, just so he can assign numbers to different troops and set their aggression stances as he likes. This lack of time to make important tactical decisions at the start of the battle can make for a rather desperate fight. It is these small, correctable points that make the difference here. Lag may also be an issue on slow machines, but not so much so that it ruins the experience. Another point is the fact that King Olaf does not have to survive as part of the objectives. This means that if a player gets him killed before he can call in the reinforcements, they never come; effectively meaning the player is defeated. A better option would be to have King Olaf must survive as an objective. An enjoyable part is the raiding on the villages – this is a refreshing twist at the end of a fixed force battle, and one that many players will enjoy. Overall, I would like to award a higher mark, simply because the scenario is very enjoyable when it all runs smoothly. However, I found that bugs occur too often to give it any more than 3.
BALANCE: Unfortunately, the scenario does not appear to be gauged for different difficulty settings, which not only severely limits re-playability, but can also mean some players find it either too challenging or too easy. I consider myself to be a moderately skilled player, and I found it rather unchallenging. For a novice, this scenario would be a good trainer for Marko Crnigoj’s rather more difficult fixed force battles, but more experienced players may need to look elsewhere to feel challenged. I also discovered that it is seemingly impossible for the player to lose: I managed to get every one of my units killed in one instance, and the scenario didn’t end. It wouldn’t be possible to give this any more than a 3, so that is what I award.
CREATIVITY: This is definitely the scenario’s strongest category: Exar uses the tried and tested ‘Marko Style’ approach to a fixed force game (with high HP and a morale system), but adds to it with his own unique touches, such as the gate opening and the village raiding at the end. Another nice touch is the Saxon Last Stand, which effectively starts a whole new battle in a different location. The reinforcements arriving by boat is a very nice little feature, as is the beautifully done (but rather short) camp scene at the start. For this I give a 5.
MAP DESIGN: This was another strong point of the scenario: Exar has obviously put an awful lot of effort into the way the map looks. The battlefield looks realistic, with scattered trees and debris, while the villages look like they really do belong in the middle ages. Exar has used lots and lots of terrain mixing, which really aids the way the map looks as a whole. I do have a couple of minor bad points to make though – a little more terrain mixing on the roads would have been better, and perhaps more thoughtful use of the gaia path objects. Other than that, the map design was top notch. It just about gets a 5.
INSTRUCTIONS/OBJECTIVES: This was an area where the scenario could be improved, in my opinion. The designer unfortunately didn’t give any History or Scouts sections. In addition to this, the scenario hints were rather lackluster, since they were extremely vague and didn’t really help much with the game. Also, the text in the scenario was often confusing, such as ‘Elite Knight slain: +2 attack’ I was unsure as to who got plus 2 attack. Sometimes, spelling and grammar were incorrect ‘ 50 Saxons has been slain’. As well as this, the ugly > sign was left when using red text, which does give an air of laziness to the scenario. However, overall the text was good. The objectives didn’t include King Olaf having to survive, which would have enhanced the game a lot. I felt Exar could have elaborated more on the background as to why the Vikings were raiding, and the sorts of armies they had. On a good note, though, the bitmap was very nice. I feel the Instructions and Objectives deserve a 3.
OVERALL: The Battle of Maldon was, on the whole, very fun to play. I think with some good, solid play testing this scenario could have all the bugs ironed out and be a very good fixed force battle. At the moment, though, it is a rather average scenario in need of some work. Exar has, however, done a good job, and I hope he will update the scenario to make it better.
I recommend this campaign to inexperienced players who find the work of Marko Crnigoj too challenging at the moment. This battle provides a good introduction into the type of gaming required to beat Marko’s games. More experienced players may wish to look elsewhere, however, since it will not test their tactical skill very much.
OVERALL SCORE: 3.8
‘The Battle of Maldon, 991 AD’ is a single scenario, a FF. The story is historical; the events take place near Maldon at the shores of the River Blackwater in Essex, England during the reign of Ethelred the Unready. Byrhtnoth fought with his thegns, peasants and householders of the area against a Viking force of an estimated 2000 to 4000 men led by a Norwegian, Olaf Trygvasson. He was a raider, his goal to gather loot, raiding or better ‘vikking’ in his language, not an invader to occupy land and to settle. According to the poem ‘The battle of Maldon’, the Vikings landed on a small island in the river leaving a land bridge to the shore at ebb, which matches Northey Island with its causeway.
PLAYABILITY: I enjoyed playing the scenario with its good history section, strategy variations and battlefield changes. The Battle of Maldon, 991 AD has a good learning curve; I played all versions on different difficulty levels, which speaks for the scenario’s high replay value. I encountered some crashes due to mp3 files, best to put them into a sub folder when that happens. 4
BALANCE: I played the scenario on moderate and hard, it is difficulty level dynamic, adds various AP and HP to enemy units with regard to the player’s choice and has a morale system related to the kill ratio. However, that alone does not qualify for the highest rating. Once the player finds the right tactic, moves to the right places in due time it is rather unpretentious, predictable and after playing moderate with some reloads hard did not offer more challenge. 4
CREATIVITY: Good opening cut-scene around a campfire located on Northey island with the historically offer of the strong Viking forces to leave if paid. The game style has the new approach for FF with high HP and morale system, which IMO is rather unrealistic with regard to HP. Here we have limited HP rises so that there is still a timely connection between attacking and killing a unit to avoid endless ‘hacking and stabbing’. The author found a good compromise to give back some pace to the new style of FF, changes location for the Saxon’s last stand followed by the village raiding. 5-
MAP DESIGN: Above random map quality, needs more effort and terrain mixing, the later replaced by an overuse of shallows, flowerbeds and a randomly unrealistic placement of dirt paths. In addition, the Vikings did not cross by shallow water or shallows to the mainland, there was a causeway at ebb to arrive with dry feet. After the Saxon refused any payment, the strongest Saxons defended killing one Viking after the other until Olaf Trygvasson asked to let all his men come ashore and Byrhtnoth granted his request. 4+
STORY/INSTRUCTIONS: The author offers clear objectives and a short story, which alone does not qualify for the highest rating; but good hints, a recommend history section and top bmp boost the category to perfect. 5
OVERALL: The Battle of Maldon, 991 AD is a better approach to the new FF genre.
SUGGESTIONS: For playability and balance, provide more difference to the levels, less reinforcement on moderate and hard, more military units in the village to raid on moderate and hard and more enemy units for the Saxon’s last stand on hard. For map design, use a land bridge for Northey island, you find a picture with Google. Remove dirt paths and flowerbeds and try the embellishment with Gaia objects and terrain mixing. Fix the music files, trigger ‘Start battle’ effect 7 ‘play sound’ ‘991 – musico’ that and the next mp3 are somehow corrupt.
OBSERVATIONS: The ‘why’ Byrhtnoth let the Vikings come ashore did and does occupy historians in the past and present. The poem says that he granted the request in a moment of "ofermode", which leaves room to speculations. Probably that means ‘over heart’ it can also mean ‘pride’ or ‘excess of courage’, as in Swedish where ‘mod’ stands for ‘hubris’ and ‘recklessness’. IMO he had the courage to sacrifice himself and his men for others as he had no chance at all, the Vikings killed Byrhtnoth early in the battle and many Saxons fled. In the event he would refuse the Vikings to come ashore, they would probably have sailed farther up the river to take another target.
IN CLOSING: The events changed the courts politic, instead of rather fight and die than pay, Aethelred II buys off the Danes with 10’000 pounds of silver (Danegeld) after the Danish invaders defeated Byrhtnoth of Essex in the Battle of Maldon.