Posted on 02/01/18 @ 03:17 PM (updated 03/25/18
Siege of Nicaea is a historically inspired build and destroy scenario depicting the first major military encounter of the First Crusade during their journey to Jurasalem. This is not a personal drama depicting the lives of our characters in detail, but rather a hard fought affair to reclaim the walls of Nicaea. Expect epic battles as your Crusader allies storm the city, and a bloody struggle to assert dominance.
|Required Modpack (if not included with the download):
||Build and Destroy
Three difficulty levels have been implemented; Standard is similar to a 'just the story' setting and is extremely easy. Moderate offers a reasonable challenge and should be the go-to starting difficulty for most players. Hard is intended to be quite tough and should probably be selected by veterans.
Soundtrack: 12 music scores have been included, therefore you should turn off ingame music. If you wish not to use the music, dont drop those files into the folder. Music by Andreas Waldetoft, Derek and Brandon Feichter, and the Total War Medieval 2 soundtrack.
IMPORTANT:You MUST be running a reasonably current userpatch Beta 1.5 installation for the scenario to function correctly.
|Author||Reviews ( All | Comments Only | Reviews Only )|
'The Siege of Nicaea' is the first single scenario release by Cataphract, and depicts the historic and bloody siege that occurred during the First Crusade in an intense and engaging B&D affair. You play as the Byzantines led by Manuel Boutoumites, and must support your French and Norman allies as they crusade through Anatolia to recover the Holy Land. Your first challenge: to subdue the well-fortified and well-supplied city of Nicaea.
PLAYABILITY: 'The Siege of Nicaea' is all at once hugely entertaining, engrossing in its intensity and simplistic in its drive, but it is also a scenario that stands well on its own feet for what is after all a build-and-destroy affair. Its minimalist game play mechanics allows the player the opportunity to forge his own destiny free from the shackles of scripted play, while the ability to play as the Byzantines grants the player a unique position to influence an event dominated historically by your European counterparts. What sets 'Nicaea' above others of its type though is the fact that it is very well designed and is complimented perfectly by the author's clever use of Userpatch 1.5. This allows for game play mechanics otherwise not possible with the vanilla version of the game, where amalgamated unit stats bring an extra layer of challenge and intrigue. The highlight here however is the carefully tailored AI, and something that should not be overlooked in how it influences the player's experience of the scenario. The sight of the first Norman battle formation marching confidently toward the Nicaean walls is a cool moment, and from there it's no bars hold as the Crusaders and Turks proceed to slaughter one another for the duration of the scenario until you are able to influence the battle decisively. There are often hundreds of units butchering one another with regular appearance, but it's the absence of lag that wins the day here, allowing for a fun game play mechanic to truly make its mark. Multiple objectives also allow the player to complete the scenario in an order of his choosing, although it's often always the obvious path to victory that will dictate the majority of play-throughs here. You could argue where 'Nicaea' falls flat is through its limited scope outside of the usual bloodshed. The lack of story and other game play mechanics is indeed noticeable at times, but I personally found that never to be an issue, not least when considering my overall enjoyment here. You are unlikely to find time for much else anyway between micromanagement of your forces in battle and fending off enemy forays, in what is largely a scenario created suitably for its purpose of action-orientated game play over a story-driven experience. With that being said, 'Nicaea' is not so much history as it is role play with creative licence, but it delivers a bloodbath of entertainment that you will not want to miss out on anytime soon. 5
BALANCE: The scenario features noticeable game play dynamics on each of the three difficulty levels, but given the higher than normal degree of challenge the scenario presents, newer players might consider starting on standard before moving up here. I played multiple times on moderate and hard and there was seldom a moment where I could sit back and relax, and this was in large part due to the highly entertaining nature of the AI as it relentlessly sent out entire armies of a hundred or so men in what was a blood bowl of death. The early game is particularly hectic, and much as in a multiplayer online experience, your initial resource management is vitally important as you look to start the game off on the right foot. I did find however that after defeating the raids conducted by local hill tribes, my starting base was never again threatened by external forces. This is a fatal flaw, as the nature of the objectives means the player will always be on the offence. Without any worries to the rear I happily stamped the full force of my army over the countryside, although it must be said time is still a major factor here as one particular enemy will strike further east and against your holdings if given the chance to defeat your French allies. All things considered, this category has admittedly proven difficult to rate. On one hand you are faced with the intense and highly-challenging nature of the early to mid game, while on the other hand once you manage to arrest control from about the midway point the prospect of defeat never lingers enough to have you looking over your shoulder. One enemy player in particular presents the greatest threat, but once this player has been dispatched the challenge to survive never again surfaces. It's a tough decision and one where I regularly find myself switching between the pros and cons. I think the only correct decision here is that the overall challenge, coupled with my personal experience over several playthroughs, falls somewhere in between that of a good to very good standard and therefore comes just short of a perfect rating. 4+
CREATIVITY: The scenario abounds with creativity in most facets, but it is largely through a myriad of minor nuances less experienced eyes may easily dismiss. The author employs the hugely popular User Patch 1.5 to great effect, with many stat changes made to units and buildings as well as various effects, which were not possible before in the vanilla game. It offers the player an experience unique to the scenario and one seldom seen before. An engaging custom soundtrack also brings life to the realistic and well-designed setting, and compliments the relentless drive of what is a carefully tailored AI experience. The scenario as a whole does however lack creative complexity, instead offering a much more streamlined and simple experience, and this in part due to the unavoidable nature of the scenario's limited scope in terms of actual game play. This is certainly not a bad thing, and players can always expect a notable and fulfilling game play experience that rarely lacks in its drive or intensity. There is still plenty of room for improvement though and this could come in the way of offering more involvement for the player when completing objectives, additional game play mechanics and other embellishment in this territory that would improve on what is already a very good standard. 4+
MAP DESIGN: The countryside spans a large and impeccably detailed map, and depicts the impregnable city of Nicaea as well as its hard and rugged surrounds. There is not a boring segment and the setting is for one very convincing in its execution, with the mountainous and often rocky terrain of north-western Anatolia, interspersed with palm trees, cliff lines, the makeshift encampments of the invading crusader armies and the warm waters of the Aegean to the west, all revealed in realistic detail. The map also works in such a way as to compliment the game play as well as the challenge it presents to the player. It is a seamless design, and one deserving of full marks. 5
STORY/INSTRUCTIONS: 'Nicaea' is not so much history by means of storytelling as it is inspiration for the sake of playability, but it is nevertheless done so in an acceptable manner. The author lays the groundwork for the scenario with a nice bitmap that provides context for the city of Nicaea and an extensive if not general historical account of the events leading up to the siege. Instructions and hints are informative while scouts offer a detailed summary of the opposing forces, meaning there is not a moment where the player is left in the dark. However the writing would certainly have benefited from final polishing, where grammatical errors and some strange wording are found aplenty, but nevertheless are easily understood. There is another detraction here, and one players will pick up quickly, which is the lack of an actual story once in-game. The scenario works well as the action-orientated slash fest for which it was designed, but its progression in terms of story and dialogue is either non-existent or wooden at best. Perhaps this is not as unforgiving as it seems and you will often find yourself so tied up in the action and micromanaging units in battle that a story might actually prove to be a bane to the game play experience. 4
SUGGESTIONS: One potential way to improve what is already a very good challenge would be to allow the enemy AI the chance to bypass the French encampment from time-to-time and attack the player's own holdings. This could quite easily come from the Nicaea garrison, the forces of Kilij Arslan or the Turkish Navy's land forces, although this might prove difficult to implement between the systematic attacks they already conduct. The upside here however is that the player will always face the risk of leave an undefended base while he marches his army off to battle. I feel it is this current lack of risk that is the scenario's true weakness in terms of balance. Another suggestion here would be to implement a timer mechanic for hard difficulty, which would place the player under great duress to capture Nicaea before the allocated timer runs out. The reasoning here could be brought down to limited supplies, the threat of disease due to a prolonged siege or further enemy reinforcements arriving onto the battlefield. You might even consider an objective to capture Nicaea before the Crusaders do, which would allow for a fun twist on what actually happened historically. This would however require a revamp to various game play structures and even to the Crusader AI to allow this to be possible.
FURTHER PLAYING: If this scenario has piqued your interest, then I would highly recommend following up on playing Sceletar's 'Crusade ~The Beginning~', which depicts this very historic event in epic but perhaps a more historical and drama-based affair.
CONCLUSION: While an ultimately simple scenario, 'Nicaea' deserves its high rating, which it could very easily improve upon with a future update. It's not a complete experience by any means, but it's a damn fine way to spend an hour or more of your time if you're looking to be engaged, thrilled and entertained!
In a sentence - 'Nicaea' is just what the doctor ordered; simple, fast and a hugely enjoyable experience!
In closing - A highly-recommended download!
[Edited on 04/14/18 @ 08:56 AM]
This is a very enjoyable build and destroy scenario, which is particularly intense in the early and middle stages. The objectives are all straightforward military goals, but the player's focus must shift from one thing to another over the course of the scenario. There is a tendency in the last stages for the fighting to become attritional when the only remaining enemy is the city garrison but their basic-looking units are surprisingly tough and they keep on coming. The overall experience is assisted by a bit of ingenuity which means trees last longer, reducing the tedium of managing lumberjacks and preventing total deforestation of the map.
I played this on hard. It was certainly difficult, but winnable. An aggressive and focused strategy is required, to eliminate an early threat before the most powerful enemy concentrates on you. I had wondered whether it would be too difficult on lower levels, but I briefly tested out the easiest of the three settings and although there is still action it is in the end almost literally impossible to lose.
The concept is a classic one, but it is unusually well executed. This scenario is one of the best examples of having allied forces which participate meaningfully, without stealing the spotlight (except on the easiest difficulty, if you let them). One novel feature of this scenario is the use of triggers to adjust certain attributes of units. Although fairly well explained, I found this did weaken my intuitive understanding of which units were suitable.
Map Design: 5
The map is superb: beautiful to explore, and carefully laid out for strategic purposes. The city of Nicaea itself is believable and picturesque. The ruined town is also a highlight. The placing of gold mines is notable in that it helps force the player to attack.
The historical background is well told, and the choice of the Byzantine perspective was an interesting one. The instructions accurately highlight the objectives. I have only two small criticisms of the instructions. First, the changes to unit attributes are described but for some reason the numbers are not given. Second, there is a reference to 'supply lines', but I for one completely missed that there are docks for trading.
Note: The first version of this review contained the following comments which I believe have been overtaken by an update. "A slight glitch is that with trebuchets you can see an area to the utmost south which is supposed to be hidden." "[...docks for trading] which are hidden in the fog of war".
[Edited on 04/02/18 @ 07:18 PM]
This funny B&D scenario provides me with a hour of intense gameplay in which I train soldiers using hit-and-run tactics or retreat my troops for attacking aggressive enemies
I've playing on standard, but difficulty was reasonable because possibility to lost is reduced due to AI-controlled allies which help Byzantine, in my playthrough, they defeat Nicaea without as me interfere in siege
Author make use of clever UP effects provided by Userpatch 1.5 such as Turks can recruiting mangudais and others which make innovative this scenario
Map Design: 5
I like how author recreate Anatolian landscape, combine variety of arid with pine and palm trees, also resources are placed for to fit with B&D context
Another good point is story herself because give us background of First Crusade, hints are informative and excellent helps player how make to winning scenario, history informed us with details about Nicaea, her location and importancy in Byzantine and Anatolian medieval history
A good B&D scenario I which recommanded to players, B&D fans or not, for a hour or two of good but intense gameplay
[Edited on 03/25/18 @ 05:59 AM]