The Defender of the Crown is a "Build and Destroy" scenario based on the legend of Robin Hood. As the titular outlaw, you must establish a base of operations within Sherwood Forest, and venture into Nottingham to assassinate the Sheriff.
Although you begin with Robin Hood and Little John, TDotC misses a trick in not including a role-playing aspect within the map. Even if the bulk of the game remains B&D, it would be useful to include some infiltration, similar to the PC game "Robin Hood: The Legend of Sherwood".
It is unfortunate that the game does not reward exploration particularly well. The design of the map is not suited to movement, it is the shape of an asterisk. Some areas of the map are completely blocked off by enemies, without any way to pass by. There is only one objective that is worth pursuing, as none of the side missions offer much benefit to the player. I was not able to successfully recruit the wild men after I tributed them the gold. It would be better to stand a unit on a flag to make the transaction, rather than detect tributes.
The pace of the gameplay is extremely slow. The Sheriff begins with advanced armies, and the player is locked to the feudal age. This makes the game a repetitive trash-grind, as you are only able to produce men at arms, spearmen, and archers. Since the enemy has only one knight, spearmen are not important.
Although the author warned me that the scenario would be very hard, this is not what I found to be the case. I actually felt the map was much too easy, as the enemy posed no threat whatsoever. My villagers were not attacked by the enemy when they ventured too close to Nottingham. The enemy does not explore or produce more soldiers, so I was perfectly safe in my little corner. I could build armies and rebuild them, and all I needed was time. Resources are not hard to come by, and at no point was I really pressured for gold. There is only one way by which the player is at risk of losing: if at the start the player sends Robin out to explore, he can easily be killed by the huge packs of hunting wolves that lurk on the map. There is no warning about these wolves present in the hints or instructions, and they represent a significant obstacle in the early game. In the late game, however, massed archers make short work of them.
There is a lot of evidence that suggest that the author is proficient at using triggers to convey his intention. In addition to the aforementioned mercenaries, Maid Marian can construct a battering ram for the player, if she is provided with the wood. There is also a mini-game where Robin can raid caravans of trade carts in order to plunder them for gold.
Map Design: 3
The map design is not particularly notable. Aesthetically, it is poor, with little terrain mixing and seemingly little thought given to the appearance of the map. The playing area is surrounded by walls of forest, without paths or clearings. Functionally, the map works well enough, with obvious effort given to designing the player's progress through the map. There is only a small amount of elevation, and eye-candy is used inconsistently, with some areas featuring densely placed gravestones or plants, while other areas are quite bare and boring. I feel this is an area where the author could easily make improvements.
The story is rather brief. It relies heavily on familiarity with the Robin Hood legend for understanding Robin's motives, and how the characters know one another. There is no real introduction, no explanation of the background, or motivation for the scenario. It would be nice to have a little more dialogue, or cutscenes where the characters show off a bit of the story.
As I mentioned earlier, Maid Marian builds a ram, which is something I've never heard before. Maid Marian's name is also used inconsistently, as she is sometimes referred to as "Marion". The author would be advised to pick one spelling, or the other. There are also a couple of spelling mistakes, or names that are not capitalised properly. These are small errors that can be corrected with little effort, which will help the file make a better impression.
The instructions provided are clear and concise. The player is told enough to understand the objectives and succeed. Many file authors struggle to find the right balance in this area, but the author has succeeded in this regard.
The Defender of the Crown is not a bad scenario, but it does not excel in any particular aspect. I think that the author could have introduced more characters, which the Robin Hood lore is rich with. I would have preferred gameplay with more characters and fewer generic soldiers. If there were more methods to recruit "Merry Men", or the like, the scenario would be much improved. There needs to be a rebalancing so that the player cannot just grind through the map by taking enough time to produce more trash units.