The Battle of Marston Moor- New Years Edition
Posted on 12/24/04 @ 12:00 AM (updated 12/31/04
The Battle of Marston Moor, one of the decisive battles of the English Civil War, took place on July 2, 1644. The battle resulted in a Parliamentarian victory, and meant that, effectively, the north of England came under Parliamentary control.
The Parliament was led by Oliver Cromwell, while the Royalists were led by Prince Rupert, nephew of Charles the First.
In this battle Rupert lost his reputation of invincibility, and Cromwell's warty reputation as a cavalry commander was made.
With the major Royalist force destroyed, York fell on July 16, and the Royalists lost control of most of northern England.
The battle had lasted two hours. Over 4,000 Royalists were killed and around 1,500 taken prisoner. The Allied losses were much lighter, with about 300 killed. All the Royalist ordnance, gunpowder and baggage were captured, along with 100 regimental colours. The city of York surrendered two weeks after the battle, ending Royalist power in the north of England.
Prince Rupert rallied the survivors and retreated to Chester where he stoically set about building a new Royalist army. The Marquis of Newcastle, unwilling to "endure the laughter of the Court," abandoned the King's cause and fled to the Netherlands with Lord Eythin.
Sounds: Highly, highly recommended.
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The Battle of Marston Moor, spanning less than 20 minutes of game time, was released on the day of Christmas Eve with the intent of being Arcane Designs’ Christmas present to AoKH and everybody else who played it. I can truthfully say that this scenario was one of the best Christmas presents I got this year, even better than the USB memory stick I used to transfer the scenario from my dad’s laptop to my home computer. The following review should give you, the prospective downloader, a good idea as to why passing up this scenario would be a bad idea.
This scenario features a major battle in the English Civil War in 1644. It is a fixed force scenario and the fixed force is very large. Read the Instructions and Hints for more detail surrounding the history of the battle of Marston Moor.
I had so much fun playing this scenario that even handcuffing my arms behind my chair couldn’t stop me from hitting the “Play Again” button. The sheer thrill that I received from sending divisions of foot soldiers forward and commanding vast troops can be compared to riding the Raging Bull at Six Flags. The runaway pace of the game sent shivers through my spine and made my teeth chatter.
With such a large scenario, one that happened to include a bazillion of change view triggers, filled with so much detail, one would naturally conjecture upon the large amount of lag that it would create. Even though I have a 1662 MHz Athlon processor, I was bracing myself for massive crashes with a toe near the reboot button. By the end of the scenario, that toe had gone stiff from inactivity. I never had one crash throughout the entire Hollywood-style cinematic and wholesale carnage. Arcane Designs did well with the change view trigger, splitting the shift into two triggers when crossing the entire map to avoid crashing.
Another bonus was that when enemy hordes broke ranks and charged, they didn’t stay in unrealistic formation. Instead, they spread out and made it look more like they would in a real battle of such large proportions.
Something to improve on, however, would be the objectives and instructions. It wasn’t that I wasn’t sure on what to do. Instead, I was too sure on what to do. The objectives clearly list out what you’re supposed to do and where you’re supposed to attack, presumably in order to maintain historical accuracy down to the last detail. I personally enjoy changing history with no chains tying me down. Tell me how they really did it and I’ll try to win in another way. But in this game, they gave you objectives and you followed them, and they made sure that you did. Although the objectives being what they are give a superb history lesson, a superb history lesson usually isn’t in the best interest of gaming.
Another problem arose when I was experimenting with different tactics on easy level in an attempt to screw up history. I was able to march my whole force past the irresponsive Royalists and assassinate their leader, Rupert. Only his personal guards responded at all and that pitiful contingent was easily trod under. Swords were clanging, men were shouting, yet pikemen and musketmen within the same screen stood passive. After Rupert had died and hit the dirt, he started talking. A bit unrealistic if you ask me. Then I hit those pikemen from behind. That somehow triggered what being a good boy and following directions should’ve triggered. Once that happened, I was able to fulfill a condition not meant to be finished until the end. A few conversations and congratulations later, I won. An idea for closing that loophole would be to task every Royalist to the task of killing Oliver Cromwell, the leader of the Parliament, if I crossed a line somewhere in front of Rupert, before I had fulfilled the objective. Once Oliver is dead, I lose and am duly punished for trying to cheat history.
1. Fast-paced action never leaves you bored.
2. The vast size of the battle in itself is exhilarating.
3. Little to no lag, depending on processor speed.
4. Dazzling opening cinematic
5. Troops charged realistically.
Things to Improve
1. Less restrictive objectives.
2. A loophole that allows player to kill enemy leader too early.
3. Although this isn't really something to improve on, it is a warning. I tried this scenario on a slower computer of mine and it couldn't even get past the opening cinematic. If you only have 333 MHz, I suggest you move on. This scenario wasn't meant for slow computers.
The first time I played it, I chose easy level through the scenario's built-in difficulty level. After the opening cinematic, a new objective was added. By following the objective's instructions, I was able to let the game play itself. Only needing minor direction from me, the Parliament (good) forces won easily. When I asked my sister, who to this day insists on never killing sheep for food (because they're cute), to try it, even she won easily. The instructions walk you through the winning process at easy level and the attack bonuses you get are simply unbalancing. Medium level was a tougher fight because Royalist (bad) troops had more health and attack. I was simply devastated when they mowed down a whole division of horse while suffering little, whereas in easy level that same division of horse was able to beat them with moderate casualties. I had to come up with a solid strategy to win at the medium level.
Hard level was far more of a challenge. Much more micromanagement was needed and a bit of luck as well. I lost more than 10 times before refining my tactics and finding a strategy that worked.
1. Medium Level
2. Hard Level
Things to Improve
1. Easy Level
Here is where the scenario and Arcane Designs deserve a lot of credit. Omitting the story and the map creativity, the scenario's opening cinematic is one to be praised. It includes a detailed cut-scene of a raid, intriguing trigger engineering that creates fire on the ground, and a historically accurate (I checked) introduction of the men that took part in the bloody fighting at Marston Moor.
The naming of the different units was also done well. Every single unit, with the exception of cavaliers was had its name changed to something more appropriate for 1644. For example, paladins were named after the elite cavalry of the time: dragoons.
Musketmen are given a realistic attack bonus, allowing them to take down any regular soldier with one volley. After all, how many people do you know that can take a stone or lead round straight to the heart and live to tell the tale? The same thing is done with the dragoons and cavaliers. In real life, one or two hacks from a steel sword is enough to cleave a man in two and this scenario portrays that nicely.
Another thing worthy of mention is the complex morale system, not exclusive to this scenario. Depending on the situation on the battlefield, your men will either lose heart or gain the will to fight harder. This affects the game by either raising or lowering your soldiers' attack and health. This system propounds the "rich get richer and the poor get poorer" principle.
The starting position is definitely leagues above the generic three villagers and a town center start. It includes mass armies positioned in neat files to start off the game with. The victory condition is also unique and historically accurate.
The Band of Brothers soundtrack playing in the background sets the somber mood that the men on the field must have felt when fighting for their lives against overwhelming odds. Other music was played at the correct intervals to set a different mood when the scenario called for it.
1. Great opening cinematic
2. Historically accurate down to the last detail
3. Realistic naming of units
4. Realistic attack bonuses
5. Complex morale system
6. Gripping music
Things to Improve... N/A
Map Design: 5
There was a lot of effort put into the map and it shows. Eye candy pyrotechnic designs and fishy water fountains make the map a unique one. The terrain is common in England and the season is also historically correct. Rubble, flowers, shallows, and paths are used in ingenious ways to create the effect of a moor. Different elevations are used and cliffs are placed in reasonable places. Altogether, a map well deserving of a 5.
1. Sweet eye candy
2. Great attention to detail
3. Map resembles actual battlefield
4. VERY UNIQUE
Out of the many scenarios that I have downloaded from the Blacksmith, this has got to be the one with the best storyline and instructions. The story is well worked out making full use of the "Display Instructions" effect and even the "Send Chat" effect. The instructions are so clear that you are never in doubt as to what to do next, something that could also be a bane to your experience playing it if you happen to like playing God.
The history section is very long and details all of the happenings surrounding this scenario. The hints section offers some very basic strategy, yet leaves tricks and tips out so that you can discover them yourself. The introductory bitmap is a picture of the battle of Marston Moor.
In the Hints page, there are several spelling errors. For example, in hint #5, musketman is incorrectly spelled "muskeman". However, I'm convinced that the mistake must be intentional as to conform to 17th century speak.
OVERALL SCORE: 4.6
[Edited on 04/14/05 @ 04:04 AM]
Note: This is an update of my previous review of this campaign. As the designer has updated this campaign. Most of the original content of the review remains unchanged except for some extra comments
The Battle of Marston Moor is a fixed force battle campaign set in 1644 England at the time of the civil war. The battle was one of the most decisive battles in English History as it marked the defeat of the Royalists at the hands of the Parliament under the command of Oliver Cromwell This campaign depicts the brutal battle of Marston Moor.
I found this campaign to be enjoyable right from the start. The Intro cut scène sets the stage for the great battle to follow. The firing of cannons initiates the start of the battle, the clever use of various music and sound files adds to the mood of the campaign, and the stage is well set for the bloody battle. The Player is given command of a select number of troops in the beginning but very soon the whole army comes under the command of the player. Careful use of your troops is necessary in battle (A whole regiment of cavaliers can be butchered by a handful of pikemen and musket men). The fate of battle swings from side to side and no side seems to dominate, the player has to be quick in sending troops and must use suitable unit counters against the enemy. All this keeps the player engaged in the battle all through and keeps his interest in the campaign.
Unfortunately some playability issues still occur, when attacking the last royalist ranks I attacked one side of the flank and the soldiers of the other side stood still while my men butchered this side. This looks pretty unconvincing because in battle all the soldiers of a flank attack at a time.
Barring this the campaign is very enjoyable and the battle stands out as one of the most exciting ones I have ever played. 4
This campaign offers 4 difficulty levels: Easy, Moderate, Hard and Extreme. On Easy level any average player can finish it in the first try. On moderate the campaign is slightly difficult but experienced players will not find it much of a challenge. Veteran players who are good at fixed force should have no difficulty in finishing it on hard, though inexperienced players can find it pretty challenging on hard level. This new version of MM offers an extra level known as 'Sceletar Level' after my name as the designer introduced this level after reading my review; I am honored by this gesture. The new level offers a really intense challenge for even the best of players, the enemy troops are way too powerful for your troops and it is important to use the right tactics and send your injured units to the healing stations regularly. A bad point about this level is that it is very frustrating to play on this level (many reloads are necessary and sometimes it is just by luck that you survive a attack). Those who are looking for challenging game play will be disappointed because of this.
Final Thoughts: I find it very sincere on part of the designer for having tried his best to balance this campaign by introducing such a lot of difficulty levels. MM now holds something for all levels of players. However I still think that there is lot of scope for improving the balance of this campaign.4.5
The map is a strong point of this campaign. The designer has worked hard on the map. The Terrain is well mixed and the clever use of elevation on the battlefield gives it a realistic look. The Burning village looks good and the blending of flowers, shallows, and forest paths on the northern part of the map creates a beautiful and interesting effect. Eye candy has been well placed but not overused. The adding of minute details on the map like the road and the worn out terrain affect on the battlefield give a realistic look to the map.
Overall a beautiful and detailed map that gives life to the campaign.5
The designer is very creative in his presentation of the campaign. The ghost of a soldier who had apparently fallen in the battle long ago narrates the story. I liked the cannon firing before the battle. The use of healing stations for the injured troops is a new concept. The designer has renamed most of the units to maintain historical accuracy. Another impressive point is the clever selection of AoK units to represent the army of those times. The map is innovatively designed and cut scenes are well made.5
This campaign depicts the historical battle of Marston Moor. The designer has maintained a lot historical accuracy and the battle sequence is executed almost like the actual battle. Historical information about the battle is supplied with every objective change and the first person narration of the events in the hints section is interesting to read. The instructions were clearly written and the hints proved useful. Detailed history of the events before and after the battle have been provided, to provide useful information for those interested.
Overall a great story that is presented with as much historical accuracy as possible.5
A good FF campaign which is a must download if you are a FF fan 4.7
This campaign was released, as mentioned, as a present to the AoKH community around Christmas Time. The Battle of Marston Moor isn't abad campaign at all, I just don't find it quite as endearing as the others think it, though still a enjoyable play.
The Battle of Marston Moor is a battle campaign set in 1644 England at the time of the civil war. It was one of the most important battles of the war as it depicted the victory of parliment and the defeat of the oppresive royalists. You step into the shoes of Oliver Cromwell for the battle of Marston Moor.
This was a fun game to play, but altogether far too quick. I finished the entire battle in about twenty-two minutes game time. A certain part left me a bit puzzled as many men left their fixed locations to go off to the left, leaving spots open, but ah well. The overall game didn't really draw me back to it as much as I thought it would. Still, it's a well presented FF, and fun nonetheless. Some iffy triggerworking, though, didn't help the rating much, such as immediate running and a disorganized march towards the right.
On all the difficulties, I found it a bit easy. The only thing I ever worried about was losing Cromwell, and not rushing in to slay the musketmen. It was possible to lose, yes, but the right micromanagement made it easier for me as I rushed in to kill the musketmen with horses, and left the infantry fighting to the Fairfax foot. It would still prove rather difficult to some, however, if you didn't expend your units wisely, so it still kept me a bit on edge. Still, all I had to do was immediately get Cromwell to Rupert, and I won. There wasn't much in the way of tactics, other than holding off the pikes with my swordsmen, and rushing for the musketeers.
It was fun to see some smart remarks in the chat box, while the true action was happening otherwise. It was also a good idea to have a ghost as a storyteller - he was there at Marston Moor. Then there were the snide remarks of the musketmen who were trying their best to hit the targets.
Map Design: 5
Pretty good, I'd say, for a battlefield. Small bits of swamp, and some open areas, as well as cliffs made it pretty nice. Different streams and ponds also added to the atmosphere. Still, it was a bit unrealistic in some eye-candy areas, but I won't mark that down, because it was a pleasant environment overall.
Sometimes things went by in a blur, and orders were quickly downtrodden by morale messages, or other things were happenning too fast. As the right flank was being attacked, I could barely read the message fast enough to realize I'd better send troops over there. However, the history is well presented, and a good amount of reasearch was done for this to be pulled off. As mentioned, the storytelling from the ghost's view added some flair to the mix.
Additional Comments: Work on the trigger timing with message appearance, and make the game a bit harder. Try to add length, and a bit more tactical advances. Good job, MW, I'm proud. ^_^
[Edited on 04/06/05 @ 12:58 AM]