|Al_Kharn the Great
You raided England with Ragnar and stormed the Mediterranean with Bjorn. Now survive the Frozen North!
||Age of Empires II (2013): African Kingdoms
||Build and Destroy
About the scenario:
Venture across the Great Whale Road to discover new lands at Valhalla's Edge! Play an epic custom scenario based on history, the Norse sagas, and the History Channel's Vikings series. Lead a band of explorers and settlers on a journey to the edges of the world and discover new lands. Floki, your destiny awaits!
An immersive collection of Norse music from DANHEIM brings the Age of the Vikings to life! (download by subscribing to the link below)
Large-sized map for hours of gameplay!
Survive against your enemies, the wildlife, and even the unforgiving sea!
Fight Skraelings for control of a New World!
45 minutes of Norse music by Danheim (separate download on Steam)
About the author:
Filthydelphia is the acclaimed and award-winning designer of over a dozen historical custom campaigns and the official Portuguese and Burmese campaigns featured in the African Kingdoms and Rise of the Rajas DLCs.
Valhalla's Edge requires The Forgotten and African Kingdoms DLCs
Steam Link (Scenario)
Steam Link (Soundtrack)
|Author||Reviews ( All | Comments Only | Reviews Only )|
"Valhalla's Edge" is the 3rd Viking scenario from Al_Kharn the Great, following "Ragnar's Raids" and "Ironside". This time the player gets to relive the Viking exploration and colonization of Greenland and North America, providing a twist on the classic Age of Conquerors "Vinlandsaga" scenario. It was played on Moderate difficulty using the HD version.
In general, I found the exploration gameplay rewarding. Travelling though incredibly hostile seas with a very small group of units (your population is capped at 20), facing dangerous wildlife and hostile natives before finding sufficient resources to go back and conquer the enemy on Iceland made for an overall fun experience. The sense of exploration and adventure was always there, and it mostly overshadowed the fact that I only had 20 units to use.
However, at a certain point these story-imposed restrictions (you can only move units across the map on a single path, largely following the edges of the map; once you reach a half-way landmass you need to repair your transport, so you can only have 4 soldiers + 1 villager per ship. A raiding crew of 2 full ships is 60% of Your population) DID eventually make the game unnecessarily tedious. While I understand the story reasons behind it, I wish there was a more elegant solution to these delays in action, since the severely limited population meant there's no way to do things on multiple fronts and back-tracking over explored territory is just.... not fun.
While the beginning appears overwhelmingly difficult, the only real challenge you face is poor resource management. The enemy AI is content to wait for you to come to them in their strong-points on Iceland and Vinland; the only "active threat" are the savage Greenland bears, but they are primarily a threat to your villagers and with a palisade wall and a half-dozen archers I found myself having no significant challenges- the only danger my units were ever in was when I'd send in units to explore the inner reaches of Greenland out of pure curiosity while my workers stripped the shores bare of all resources.
Likewise, while the scenario instructions and hints place an emphasis on the scarcity of wood along the way, (and probably because of this emphasis) I found myself continuously gathering wood from the (probably intended to be largely decorative) trees in my starting position, and I ended up with a surplus of over a thousand wood before I even reached Greenland.
As mentioned above, the enemy AI didn't pose a significant challenge. Although I settled the New World, and had a few battles of attrition trying to settle the most populated landmass of the native Skraelings, this was not ultimately necessary- the uninhabited first island I reached (Baffin island) had rich gold deposits that would allow me to fully upgrade my Feudal age infantry and raise enough raiders to assault Iceland. I did end up conquering the New World and defeating both Skraeling tribes, but this was not reflected in the game, and the extra wood I gained from those rich islands was ultimately of little use.
Coming back to the final objective- conquering Iceland- was also not particularly difficult, and I secured a beachhead with only 2 ships of infantry- enough to build a barracks and train Men at arms on enemy soil, leading to a swift conclusion.
While the scenario puts some twists onto the formula of the original "Vinlandsaga" and uses the new Inca civilization to represent Native Americans and gives you a different final objective, the core of the old scenario is there. Fighting savage bears and having a severely limited population were interesting touches, but ultimately, this is a very obvious "Vinlandsaga" tribute.
Map Design: 4
As above, the map is an approximation of the classic AoC map (including the sea dragon design taking up the majority of the map space in the ocean you can's sail through- but without a trigger to reveal it -or at least I could not find one). While I really liked the rugged and maze-like design of inner Greenland, this most detailed part of the map is a place you're not likely to actually see during a play-through, since it has no in-game value and is full of dangerous bears killing whom does nothing for you.
While the starting area in the Faroes has a good deal of detailing, I found the final objectives in Iceland to be much more sparse in detail. The forests of Vinland and the rocky Baffin Island were well-done, but the hospitable portions of Greenland were very "function over form" with the detailing being dedicated to the part you were advised against visiting.
The story was understandable and it laid out the tasks clearly. Giving the main leads names despite them being villager models was a nice touch, though I would have liked to have a few more lines commenting on the Skraelings if the player defeated them- other than that they seemed just an obstacle without any real personality to them. I was a bit surprised by the lack of a Scouts section, but the opening bitmap and hints lay out the set-up very clearly- and I suppose the expected familiarity with the original Vinlandsaga scenario plays a role, too.
Additional Comments: An interesting take on an Age of Conquerors classic that ultimately suffers from a clash between its story-centric gameplay and its ultimate stated objectives. Still worth a look, but not as fun as it possibly could have been.