'Rebellious Children' is a classic build-and-destroy scenario in what is the author's third submission. Despite being fairly basic at first sight it does showcase a platform to improve and a good stepping stone into the world of scenario design.
PLAYABILITY: 'Rebellious Children' is a particularly well-chosen title given the theme of the scenario, and depending on how diligent you are when laying waste to your enemies, provides a little over an hour of game play. I liked the idea of starting off in a small weakly-defended position before you must build up to lay your rightful claim over the surrounding French territories, but it is a scenario that ultimately plays by the old adage of what you see is what you get. Its objectives are straightforward and there is no story progression whatsoever. I feel the author really missed a crucial opportunity here to feature in-game events that relate to your progress, as well as vital character development for the upstart young Richard. That being said, I would really like to see where the author can take this scenario, especially after more progress in the editor and a future update. 2
BALANCE: Despite being standard, the AI does provide some challenge on hard, enough to check your forces until you are well-prepared. Battle is possible only through consolidating defence as attacking one enemy often brings the other armies to target your forces. I lost one whole army this way as it was cut off and surrounded by three enemy forces rallying to their ally. Richard's relatively small health also means he should not be thrown into the fray carelessly, but kept back where you can ensure his survival. For the most part the AI does enough to build small forces and wall off its bases, but it is only a matter of time until experienced players simply steam-roll the enemy from the field. 3-
CREATIVITY: While the scenario does not offer a whole lot in the way of creativity, I believe what the author has created here is a nice start to build from. The overall layout of the map is quite good, if only it requires much more detail and thought to make it interesting and more so challenging from a playability point of view. Featuring more in-game story events, dialogue and character development for Richard would also improve the rating here. 2-
MAP DESIGN: The map is relatively basic at best, with large empty swathes of grass, seldom use of elevation, haphazardly placed roads and awkward clunks of forest. There is no terrain mixing to speak of and not much else to differentiate it from a random map. Nonetheless, the layout of the map, including its overall structure against the ocean and positioning of enemy bases, is a promising effort if only in need of more detail. 2
STORY/INSTRUCTIONS: The scenario begins with a small outline about the young upstart Prince Richard and his ambition in France, however it is all so vague and doesn't raise nor answer any questions. Nor does it explore Richard's ambition outside the simple quest of destroying two castles from the surrounding French provinces, a downside given what is actually a promising theme. There are no hints and only two very straightforward objectives meaning there is little more to award to the rating. This is a fair start but it could have so much more. 2-
SUGGESTIONS: First things first, I wholeheartedly endorse the author to play top-rated scenarios here at the Blacksmith, such as Dave_Earl's 'Macbeth', Gunther Zengerle's 'Halfdan and the Inheritance of the Ynglings' and pretty much anything by aMa. These scenarios are predominately build-and-destroy affairs and represent what is in my mind the top benchmark for what a good scenario of its type should look to provide. Secondly, practice makes perfect - it is in fact the only way to improvement. Explore map design, and look to add more visual interest as well as looking to the natural world for inspiration. I would also like to see the author provide a custom AI for this scenario, which may provide a tailored game play experience and challenge the standard AI is simply incapable of achieving. The last thing I will mention is to work on an in-game story capable of garnering the player's interest and attention. Good stories mean better return and investment in your scenario. I find it useful to jot into a notepad many of the ideas I have, and later incorporating those ideas that work during the design phase.
CONCLUSION: If the ES campaigns provide the benchmark for the bare minimum of where a scenario should aim to be, then 'Rebellious Children' does unfortunately fall short of this. This however isn't a criticism, and I do in fact see loads of potential and room for improvement, but it depends entirely on what the author is willing to spend in terms of time, effort and energy in order to improve what he has here. It takes practice and the end result, which includes more attention in the form of higher rated reviews, is often always worth the effort.
[Edited on 03/03/18 @ 04:52 PM]