Chinese Design Contest: Dawn of a new Dynasty
This is a 3 scenario campaign designed for the Chinese Campaign contest. It has some interesting trigger tricks in it, so its worth a look. Its not as done as I'd like, but the deadline came before I knew it. I intend to come back and polish it up to completion after the contest and resubmit.
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This was a solid campaign that showed good effort on the part of the author. There were some very nice features and everything that was implemented was done quite well. The thing that holds this campaign back a bit is a lack of creative victory conditions and the fact that the same trick is used in the 2nd and 3rd scenarios so it almost feels like you are playing the same scenario twice. I'll go over each scenario below and then follow up by explaining why I gave each score.
In my opinion, this was the best of the 3 scenarios included. The first half is a fixed force fight where you have to battle one enemy to discover siege weapons so you can recover an relic from a second enemy and bring it to your ally. The triggers and story is very well done and it's nicely balanced. I'm a big fan of including a monk on fixed force missions for healing and the author provides two monks so this works well.
The second half of the scenario, after you bring the relic to your ally, also starts off interesting. You get a fixed amount of resources along with military buildings to build troops. You can use the market to exchange goods but once you use up the resources, that's it. It's a concept I call "shopping" and it adds a nice strategic element.
Later on, I learned that you can use monks to convert enemy villagers and gain extra resources that way so you actually can get many more resources and troops... I'm not sure if the author intended that, but it's possible and probaby wise since the attack on the enemy city is quite difficult.
The final part of the scenario requires you to defeat an enemy city, but the front gate is heavily guarded so you must transport your troops to the far side of the enemy's island to start your attack. From here on out, it's a simple conquest mission. It's quite difficult but it can be done.
This one is a little more straightforward. You have an ally who continually sends you resources via trade carts. You cannot let the enemy attack these trade carts or the delivery will be lost. You have some villagers to work with but they cannot collect resources since all the collection buildings are disabled. You must rely on the delivery of goods by your ally for resources. Other than that, the scenario shapes up to be a simple conquest mission. The two enemy civs in the scenario will attack your town and they also do an excellent job of patrolling the trade route. However, I never really had to pay close attention to the trade route as your ally has lots of towers guarding the path and although the enemy always seems to be around the trade carts, they never seem to actually attack the carts. The result is that you end up with plenty of resources to build lots and lots of troops and over time, you can easily wear down your enemy into submission. You are stuck in the Castle age in this scenario so you don't get the big siege weapons but the job isn't too difficult.
This is almost a carbon copy of the 2nd scenario. This time, however, your resources are brought by boat and each shipment brings half the resources as the previous scenario. You also only face a single enemy instead of two but that really makes no difference at all. The enemy will eventually attack your ally but it happens so far into the scenario that it hardly matters. I was able to ignore defending the trade route and still win easily. You do have the ability to reach the Imperial Age in this scenario and the trebs sure come in handy. :) But otherwise, it's a simple conquest mission with a little twist on resource gathering.
Playability: I gave this a 3 because the missions were mostly just conquest missions. If defending the trade routes was a more vital part of the scenarios, that would have helped. The first part of the first scenario was excellent but the rest was pretty average, hence the score. I also didn't like how the 2nd and 3rd scenarios were so similar. Some variety would've helped.
Balance: This was well done... In my opinion, the first scenario was a bit too tough and the other two were a bit too easy... but overall, it was a challenging and well-balanced campaign.
Creativity: As described above, there were some flashes of creativity shown but not nearly enough. The similarity of the last two scenarios along with the fact that all three scenarios finished with a basic conquest victory condition dragged this down to average.
Map: The maps were very well drawn... I could tell the author spent a decent amount of time making the cities and the mountainous areas. Very good job here.
Story/Instructions: The instructions were clear and well-written. The objectives were done properly within the scenarios so no complaints there. The story was good but a little light... not a lot of depth, but it was a good effort and a good score.
History: Like the story, the history was a bit sparse and it didn't really explain what actually happened. It wasn't poorly done, but it wasn't exceptional either.
I think that last statement sums up how I felt about the whole campaign - not poorly done, but not exceptional either. I had a good time playing it but nothing blew me away as being extra special. I think the author was hampered by the time limits placed on this contest so perhaps with more time, this will turn out to be an excellent campaign.
As I played this campaign, it became apperant that the author of "Dawn of a new Dynasty" favored substance over appearance as he crafted his creation. The result is a campaign that, while not flashy on first look, is really a very deep work that will give you a lot of enjoyment... if that is what you are looking for.
Indeed, while "Dawn of a new Dynasty" is not the most flashy campaign out there, it will certainly provide you with a lot of enjoyment. The first scenario, "Destiny's Crossroads", is your traditional "fixed-force" scenario... at least at the begining. Although there is nothing truely stunning about this scenario, it is nonetheless a good, solid scenario. If you don’t think it through and play it right, you will likely find this scenario very difficult, although with a bit of patience, it is beatable.
The second scenario, "The Enemy of My Enemy", is probably my favorite scenario of the bunch. Consider it a 'build-up scenario with a twist'; you have no way of collecting resources. Instead, you will have to rely on your ally to transport resources to you, while you in turn guard the shipping routes. For if the enemy manages to cut off your supply lines, you are as good as dead. This is a very difficult scenario, although I do believe it *is* beatable, if you find the right strategy, and are prepared to devote a good chunk of time to beating it.
I really enjoyed playing this scenario... finding the right balance of defending your city, defending your trade routes, and attacking is truely a grinding decision, and making the wrong one will cost you the scenario. There is a lot of good stuff in "The Enemy of My Enemy", if you truely look for it.
The final scenario, "Strange Allegiences", is another scenario where you will be recieving supplies from your ally... in fact, there are some similarities between this and "The Enemy of My Enemy", including the very-difficult balance. However, the similarities end there. This time around, you will be attacking a heavily-fortified city, while recieving aid from your allies.
Overall, "Dawn of a new Dynasty" is a campaign that people will either love or hate. Those willing to devote the time to it will find a very well-crafted gem beneath the surface, while those who prefer a flashy, beautiful campaign may write it off without really giving it a try. I found myself in the middle of the road. While I enjoyed this campaign very much, I would have liked to see a little more style and flair.
Once again, the Duke of T'ang and his ambitious son Li Shih Min are out to overthrow the Sui dynasty. This short campaign takes us from the beginning of the rebellion to the siege of the imperial capital of Chang An.
For most of the campaign we are looking at B&D, with elements of FF mixed in, and some limits on resource collecting.
Overall, the campaign provides decent challenge. Beyond the beginning of Scen 1 when you are playing FF and have the time and choice of how to tackle a few opponents who sit and wait for you, there's always something happening to keep you busy. Each map had a few random Gaia goodies to encourage exploration as well.
So what brings the score down? Well, scenario 1 has a faulty victory trigger. After crushing the last enemy, I was left with 3 allies and no victory message. Only way to proceed was to un-ally my allies and manually defeat them, which felt both tedious and went against the spirit of the scenario.
Tested on HD edition, Moderate difficulty. As mentioned above, beyond the relatively easy FF early on, the B&D portions proved a decent challenge, in particular the last scenario, where it's a very real race to Imperial age to see who will get trebs and start taking down whose castles first. Moderate AI was still predictable (never upgraded it's knights, never tried halbs against my massed cavaliers), but even while I was crushing enemy bases in scens 2 and 3 my mini-map was constantly flashing as the enemy continuously applied pressure.
I also quite liked the progression in "limited B&D" from "no villagers" to "limited villagers, no collection buildings and no TCs" to "unlimited vills and ability to build TCs but no collection sites", giving you more tools as the challenge curve went up.
There was a decent attempt to mix B&D with FF. I liked the destroyed bridge trigger in scen 2. But beyond that, there was nothing exceptional, as all scenarios were conquest victories and boiled down to massing siege and knights.
Map Design: 4
The maps were serviceable, but also not exceptional. There were Gaia siege weapons scattered around that encouraged exploration, but nothing about the maps really stood out.
The story was told largely from Li Shih Min's perspective. It was well-delivered, and made sense. However, I felt more could've been done to give the Sui generals in Scenario 2 some personality instead of just being " 2 forces you must defeat". Likewise, it would have been nice to have some messages to give context to finding random Gaia siege weapons in the middle of nowhere.
A solid campaign, overall, especially if you are looking for a bit of challenging twist in your B&D. Nothing exceptional in terms of story-telling, but it can offer a few entertaining gaming sessions.