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Author File Description
Video Game Master
File Details
Version: Age of Kings 1.0
Defeat the Pirates with your ally. The pirates are forcing you to pay 100 gold every 10 minutes to keep them from destroying your trade cogs.
AuthorComments & Reviews   ( All | Comments Only | Reviews Only )
skald This was originally a review but I downgraded it to a comment.

Type of Scenario: Build and Destroy Real Time Strategy.

Theater of Operations: Three large land masses separated by large water areas. Ample resources in place for Player 1 and for the Pirates. Average resources for Player 2, the ally of both other players. Improbably long, winding, passable trails of shallows connect Player 1 to the Ally land mass and the Pirates to the Ally land mass. There is no connection from Player 1 to the Pirates except by sea.

Order of Battle: Each player starts with the standard TC, villes, and a few extra houses thrown in. The Pirates are Vikings.

Rules of Engagement: Player 1 and the Pirates may both use Player 2’s area for a stomping ground and R and R area (although I never bumped elbows with any Pirates sharing Sick Bay in the Ally castle -- that would have been quite a sight -- beating each other with our crutches! Or maybe I would have ambushed them on their way out). According to the instructions, Player 1 must tribute the Pirates 100 gold every 10 minutes or the Pirates will start sinking Player 1’s trade cogs. Player 2 is also available as a trading partner which is why the cog and cart convoy protection aspect becomes important in late game when all the gold has been mined. (All of my games end up in late game.)

Playability: 2. I enjoyed this game in spite of finding very little Piracy in it. I was expecting the Pirates to issue a demand every 10 minutes and I would have to tribute them the 100 gold. Instead, they seemed to have an automatic payment method set up at the First Viking National Bank and 100 gold was deducted from my account every 10 minutes whether I agreed or not. This was OK with me as I always pay my bills on time and I would hate to miss a payment and have the Vikes start sending my trade cogs to Davey Jones’ Locker.

However… at 6:59 of the game they sank one of my trade cogs. I thought, OK, maybe they haven’t received the first installment on my account yet. Then at 43:21 they sank another trade cog. Why am I paying all this protection money if I’m not getting any protection? Woe to them, This Means WAR !

I went back into the Editor to see how the automatic deduction system had been set up. There are only two triggers in the game (one working). Trigger 1 tributes 100 gold from P1 to P3 every 600 seconds. (Without checking to see if P1 even has any money.) Trigger 2 resets the game difficulty level to Moderate after 20 minutes. Unfortunately, Trigger 2 is OFF and the only thing that can turn it on is Effect 2 of Trigger 2 which is, Activate Trigger 2. This is not gonna work. But just for my own education I put trigger flags on both triggers. I added an effect to Trigger 1 that whenever the Pirates deduct their payment, we will Display Instructions: AARRRRRR! We’ll be takin 100 gold from ye now! AARRRR!! And I added an effect to Trigger 2, Display Instructions--Trigger 2 has fired.

Back to the game. I soon learned to time my purchases so that I had spent all my gold just before my payment came due. Next I discovered something even more fun -- escrowing gold in mass amounts by queuing up dozens of expensive units so my gold balance was all committed to my own purchases before the Pirates could get their hairy fingers on it. The 100 gold tribute became a minor annoyance.

Trigger 2 never fired.

Without giving away any vital secrets, I tried an overland attack first because the Viking navy was too strong. After a few hours of that, I switched to my strong suit, Naval Supremacy, which worked quite well, and followed that with Behind the Lines Raiders and finally Mass Demolition. The game was probably as good as a Random Map but since it was billed as a Pirate affair with a tribute to keep my cogs safe, which did not work as advertised, I dropped it from a 3 to a 2.

Balance: 3. Pretty good, about like a Random Map. I had some hard going at first and had to discard several strategies, including my favorite Massed Cav Archers and Knights, before finding a combined arms approach which worked.

Creativity: 2. Again, mostly a Random Map but the tribute trigger showed a creative concept (remember, this was 1999, I will not judge it by 2005 standards.) However, since there was no supporting trigger infrastructure to bring the concept to fruition, I took off a point from 3 to 2 to reflect my disappointment at not having it work.

Map Design: 2. Here the author’s name, Video Game Master, is quite apt. The land masses are pure green felt or pure yellow sands with large areas of forest and square resource deposits. The water is pure with hardly any fish life. The mini-map does indeed look like an early 8-bit Nintendo game. There was some eye candy on Pirates’ Island but the only glimpse I got of it was from my massed cavalry passing by at full gallop with a whole hornet’s nest of Vikings in hot pursuit, so I could not stop to admire it.

Story/instructions: 2. There is no story but there are instructions , so that’s a 3 to me. But the instructions don’t work. The Pirates collect your protection money and then sink your cogs anyway. That’s frustrating.
So I deducted a point.

Overall: You could set up a game of your own that would work as well as this one. I enjoyed it, but I’m easy to please and I have lots of time.

Notes to the Player: You can mine the Ally’s gold first. He has no need for it since he won’t help you in battle and he persists in trading with the enemy (until I wipe out the enemy docks). You can heal your troops in the Ally castle and the Ally priests will heal your troops too, effectively giving you a forward base. The enemy seems to attack your town in the same place every time (predictable = dead).

Notes to the Author: Thanks for your contribution to the annals of scenario design. I wanted to score your scenario higher but I felt a little let down by not having much Pirate action in the game and I was frustrated by the way the automatic tribute was set up.

I think I know why you created those impossibly long shallow paths between the islands. You probably set up the map without them and then discovered the AI was not competent to launch a decisive amphibious assault. So you had to provide a land bridge for the AI to move enough troops to present a credible threat. One way you might avoid this is by creating more enemies, each one with navies.

About the tribute trigger, a clever player will find ways to avoid paying even the minimum monthly fee by hiding their assets in escrow, mainly by queuing up expensive troops. You need more triggers to set up a tribute system. You could have one trigger that goes off every 10 minutes that activates another trigger with a COND ACQ ATT Player 1 100 gold, EFF tribute gold to Player 3. To be more assured of getting the gold, don’t set the threshold at 100, because the player is constantly buying things that cost 60, 70, and 80 gold. To catch the player you need to set the COND ACQ ATT Player 1 50 gold, and tribute it twice before turning off the trigger. And for this whole scheme to have any effect at all, you need to have another trigger that stops sinking Player 1’s cogs as long as the tribute is paid. If you take the protection money and don’t perform your end of the bargain, the player will come looking for you in a big hurry.

About Trigger 2: A trigger that is turned OFF will not fire until another trigger activates it. Trigger 2 is turned OFF and it cannot fire to start itself. You can see if triggers are firing correctly by adding a trigger flag, an effect that displays instructions TRIGGER X HAS FIRED.

Finally, you need to play test your scenarios to see if they work as intended. Twenty minutes’ play test of this scenario would have shown you that neither trigger worked correctly. Thanks.

[Edited on 09/04/05 @ 05:04 PM]

skald (This is my Review edited to raise the Creativity score. I couldn’t edit my original Review, or edit it as a Comment, or submit a second Review, without getting an Illegal Operation warning.)

Creativity: 4. Again, mostly a Random Map but the tribute trigger showed a creative concept (remember, this was 1999, and this scenario was posted in the first 3 weeks of the Scenario Collection). However, since there was no supporting trigger structure to make the concept work as intended, and the Pirates kept taking 100 gold from me and sank my trade cogs anyway, it was very frustrating, so I took off one point from 5 to 4.

[Edited on 08/16/05 @ 07:08 AM]

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