Dragon's Head, Serpent's Tail
|Al_Kharn the Great
30,000 samurai. 3000 militia. A battle to decide the fate of three kingdoms.
||Age of Empires II (2013): The Forgotten
||Build and Destroy
From the designer of the African Kingdoms Portuguese campaign, The Last Neanderthal, and Tristan & Iseult comes the epic story of Korea's most desperate moment. Their armies destroyed and their lands pillaged, a small band of Koreans held firm against an invincible Japanese army, winning the victory that would turn the tide of the war.
NOTE: Requires The Forgotten and African Kingdoms DLC!
Features (by the numbers)
45 minutes of action-packed gameplay!
52 voiced lines of dialogue!
8 historical samurai to vanquish!
2 Korean heroes to recruit!
3 difficulty settings!
8 challenges to conquer!
30 minutes of custom Asian-inspired music!
In 1592, Toyotomi Hideyoshi invaded the Joseon Kingdom of Korea with 158,000 crack samurai and ashigaru. The mighty daimyo had consolidated his power in Japan laying the foundations for what he hoped would be an Asian empire. Before conquering China and the lands of Southeast Asia, Hideyoshi needed to establish a foothold on the mountainous peninsula of Korea. This small kingdom was almost an after-thought to Hideyoshi and his generals. Neither the Japanese nor the Ming Chinese who came to Joseon's aid expected much from the hermit kingdom. Known for their long-sleeved scholars and jade-glazed pottery, the Koreans were unlikely opponents to challenge Hideyoshi's elite samurai hardened by a century of war. What were a kingdom of bureaucrats and potters to the samurai clans?
The Japanese were relentless, seizing the Korean capital in mere months. With the kingdom on the verge of ruin, the Ming Emperor Wanli dispatched a Chinese army under Li Rusong to slow the invasion. In January 1593, however, this army was defeated by the Japanese at Byeokjegwan. With Korea's defense now reduced to militias, 30,000 victorious samurai continued their northward advance to a small mountain fortress on the Han River known as Haengju. There, a fifty-five year old civil servant turned militia leader named Kwon Yul and 3000 Koreans prepared the defenses.
This small band would be the last stand of a hermit kingdom. Their destiny would decide the fate of all Asia.
|Author||Reviews ( All | Comments Only | Reviews Only )|
Dragon's Head, Serpent's Tail is Al_Kharn the Great's entry to the 2016 Defend the Spot Competition, and a worthy winner of the second place prize.
This was one of the most fun DTS scenarios I've played in a long time. The scenario was on the whole incredibly well-polished, challenging (but fair), and very much an atmospheric success. Additionally, difficulty dynamism, multiple objectives (both main and sidequests), and excellent map design overall contributed to a high score in this category. The scenario comprises an hour's worth of fast-paced action as the player struggles to hold their base from attack on all sides while completing sidequests.
From the beginning to the end, playing on hard difficulty, I found the balance to be generally good - I was always challenged but not overwhelmed, and the AI (most of the time) launched intelligent attacks that forced me to react on all fronts. At a certain point much boiled down to tower and ranged unit spam, which was unfortunate, but it would be improper to deduct points from a scenario due to a balance flaw native to the game. The only serious issue I did note was that due to the aforementioned AI pathing issue, sometimes there would be phases with a decreased amount of pressure, and then suddenly what seemed like hundreds of units would finally make their way to the fortress, resulting in an assault that was uncharacteristically difficult to parry. The narrow corridors made massed trebuchets in those situations especially annoying, as the AI plugs the gap with a ball of death and the player has an incredibly difficult time countering such an unnatural attack without the means to build numerous troops.
The scenario showcased extensive creativity in both gameplay elements and map design, and I found myself noticing several design tricks that I doubt any AoAK user thus far has even conceived of. A particular highlight was the ability to read biographical information about each samurai lord that you had killed, which was a unique touch that really left a nice impression. This was easily the strongest point of the scenario, a fact that is a testament to its own merit, as the scenario excelled in numerous other aspects as well.
Map Design: 4
Following the above, the map design showcased a top-notch combination of creativity and skill, and is well worth an upper-echelon score. Varied and gorgeous landscapes surrounded a well-designed fortress. There were a few minor areas to nitpick on, but nothing detrimental to the aesthetic, and while a few spots could have benefited from a bit more terrain mixing, the map also had more than its fair share of exemplary design tricks and gorgeous scenery. The only serious issue that I found was that some areas of the map were a bit cramped with objects, causing the AI issues when guiding their units to attack (though, to be honest, this is likely more due to the inherent issues of HD than the actual object placement).
A particularly well-conveyed storyline follows (or, rather, immerses the player in) the historical situation of defending the Japanese attack on Haengju. Top-notch introductory videos, a well-made bitmap, and succinct yet engaging scenario instructions, objectives, and dialogues conveyed the story seamlessly, a particularly impressive result as every line of dialogue was voice acted. The only issue that I noted was with regard to the objective to clear the road so Chinese troops might arrive, which was misleading in that it only implied that the player had to kill the enemy troops on the way, not advance further along the road.