|Al_Kharn the Great
Posted on 04/18/18 @ 10:50 PM (updated 04/22/18
Shipwrecked on a distant island, a small band of sailors must fight to survive!
||Age of Empires II (2013): Rise of the Rajas
About the scenario:
In 1525, seven ships left Spain to colonize the Spice Islands and find the lost Trinidad, Magellan's flagship last seen three years before. Storms scattered the fleet as it entered the Pacific, but the captain of each ship sailed on. They would never see one another again.
One ship, the Santa Maria del Parral, reached the outskirts of the Spice Islands, but was wrecked on the rocky beach of Sangir. From within the deep and dark jungles, the Santa Maria's survivors could hear the war drums of the Sangihe natives. The Spanish would have to fight for their lives to repair their ship and make their escape!
Defend an abandoned settlement against waves of island warriors!
Explore a detailed jungle island!
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.
Wreck of the Santa Maria requires The Forgotten, African Kingdoms, and Rise of the Rajas DLCs
Steam Link (Scenario)
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Wreck of the Santa Maria was inspired by the upcoming DtS contest and delivers a good scenario much like what you would expect from an example entry.
Defensive gameplay is on offer, and as expected the player is kept busy defending the wreck of the Santa Maria which was cleverly depicted as a feitoria, a compound of buildings cobbled together from the wreckage. The player must rescue fellow survivors and trapped Portuguese survivors while building up a new ship to escape, all the while fending off hordes of ferocious natives. An interesting twist is that the player can sally out and kill chieftains to disorganize the tribes, slowing their attack while they regroup. Unfortunately this doesn't work so well as the system break down after several chieftains in a row are killed, and they respawn a bit too quickly to make it worth it anyhow. This is a good mechanic to encourage the player to do more than huddle behind defensive barricades, and simply needs some more refinement. While fun and intense, the scenario eventually does overstay its welcome with both playthroughs well over an hour, and the once well varied attacks become rather monotonous at this point.
Initially I was impressed here, as the attacks were launched with a good intensity and the player kept quite busy tending to his palisade fort, if he so chose to create one. The enemies come in well varied waves with many different tribal units of differing strengths and weaknesses, testing the players position. However I did find both the difficulty and challenge offered by the scenario started off strong but soon faded as time passed and the player established a very strong, easily defensible position. The enemies seem to come in an unstoppable torrent at first, but as I gained familiarity with the scenario over its long playtime any sense of danger fades away with the easily defensible position and extremely strong player units. In my first playthrough on moderate, I hadnt explored past getting hand cart, and was quite surprised on the hard run to get healing for all units and another +10 attack boost on the island. I found in both runs simply parking my men in a stock stand ground position on one end of the causeway results in a one sided annihilation of attackers with little danger of being overwhelmed, and I even tested this by leaving the game running for a good 30 ingame minutes. The gameplay note above on the chieftains comes into play here, for one way to address this passive defense would be to encourage the player to go out and perform activities or acquire resources outside the base.
In summary the challenge of the scenario was good, but its monotonous length made the interesting, well varied attacks quite repetitive. The ability of the player to easily win by leaving his men in an obvious stand ground position saps the difficulty offered, and I also didn't notice any difference between Hard and Moderate. Maybe if the gameplay was just significantly shorter in length, I would have given the 4\5 without realizing the flaws so clearly but the player is given a great deal of time to think about things.
For a map designed on a weekend whim, its quite a good effort. The core concept of defending a wrecked ship turned into a fort was quite neat, and the defensive gameplay was broken up with side objectives such as rescuing sailors, killing chieftains and exploring the island for useful items. The attackers came in a variety of waves which was good, though the great length of the scenario eventually made this repetitive and predictable. Some sound effects and music may have helped bump things up, as would some more story integration into the scenario perhaps. This is a solid scenario that with more refinement could become something quite special;a good effort all in all.
Map Design 4-
On display is a vibrant tropical map that looks good if a bit on the simpler side. The jungle forests are placed conventionally but manage a decent appearance with a bit of variation in the woodlines with the odd detailing here and there. The water was looking alright if a bit randomly placed at times with some unnatural straight lines appearing below the allied dock. The waterfall was fairly effective being in the background\peripheral vision anyhow and set the scene well. Path usage was simple but sufficient. The beaches played off well enough with the vegetation and rock usage, though they could have stood a bit of transition mixing into the grassy areas. The various villages looked convincing enough, and the feitoria to be defended was put together nicely. Just sufficient for the 4\5 in the end, though I was debating it.
A clear weakness of the map stood out quickly, which is the actual area the player defends. This area has tall trees in front where he is likely to place palisades or just his units, making it hard to see whats going on behind the trees;a bush based forest in this area would have been nice. Also the area of the feitoria itself is quite difficult to land units or maneuver around without deleting your own mining camp. I found it weird the player is given cattle which cannot load unto transports and are ignored by the nearby crocodiles and the two crocodiles stuck trying to attack the player the whole game make a messy appearance.
The story of the wrecked Santa Maria was interesting and a good hook for investment into the scenario. The writing quality was nice, making an enjoyable read of the intro and victory message. The scenario is a bit light on actual ingame story integration though, mostly in that intro and outro. The lack of a cutscene when winning was a tad bit disappointing after such a long game, as the natives continue their onslaught even as the player reads about sailing away. A more satisfying ending as payoff for holding off would have hit the spot nicely, I think. The objectives and hints were thorough and clear, with good advise given if the game is lost.
Final Thoughts: A good scenario well worth a play.
[Edited on 04/24/18 @ 12:13 PM]
Wreck of the Santa Maria is a defend the spot style scenario by Al_Kharn the Great. The scenario involves the survivors of the titular shipwreck in the new world and their attempt to survive against the onslaught of attacks from the native tribes.
Albeit larger in size than a minigame, this scenario is a short and relatively simple scenario that provides some entertaining gameplay and challenging tactics. The scenario involves the player defend themselves against an onslaught of attacks from the natives whilst held up in an abandoned Portuguese settlement. Having to defend the Feitoria is essential as it provides the player with the resources and soldiers necessary to survive wave after wave of attacks. Meanwhile the player must also navigate through the jungle to rescue fellow survives captured by the enemy and kill each tribes chief. Killing the chief is an interesting concept as it disarray’ the tribes and sows down their attacks as they bring themselves back together. At times the gameplay can get a bit tedious and repetitive but overall this is an enjoyable little scenario which will require some clever tactics to emerge victorious.
Overall the balance is pretty good. The units phases of the game are rather easy whilst you find the abandoned camp, but once the waves of attack start it gets quite challenging quite quickly. The use of the hero character is necessary and you have to tactically use him well in the early stages due to his superior attributes, but you must be careful not to lose him. The gameplay require micromanagement as you try to rebuild the game and your forces, defend the Feitoria and kills the chiefs all at the same time. As you grow the game can get easier as you are stronger, so some experienced players may find the game rather easy in these standard but for the average player I believe this is balanced well.
This scenario is not your typical defend the spot. There’s so much more to it than that. Beyond the waves of enemy attacks that you have to fight off there are a number of other challenges and obstacles many of which have already been mentioned such as having to reduce other survivors and killing the chiefs. The killing of the chiefs is a clever mechanic as after they are dead the tribe which they rule is disorganised and it slows down the attacks whilst they regroup. This is a clever technique which I haven’t seen before, it’s almost like a morale system which requires some really clever trigger work to pull off. I also like how the designer has relied on the use of the Feitoria, a building unique to the HD edition and the Portuguese civilization. I have seen these building used before in scenario but not for much of a purpose, in this scenario it is an essential asset to the player.
Map Design: 4
The map design is pretty good and creates an immersive jungle set in the new world. Use of the mesoamerican building sets are well utilised and the small native villages are laid out and designed well. The jungle is very well designed, not too overcrowded and thick but dense enough to be realistic and make the gameplay work well. The use of additional assets from the new expansions are well used, I particularly love the waterfalls and caves. New terrains are also seen straight away with the rocky shores of the beach where the titular shipwreck occurs. Overal while unpolished in areas this is a solid work of map design which suits the purpose and themes of this scenario well.
This story is well written from the get go. A nice introductory screen sets the scene for what is to come and tells the tale of the fateful wreck. Most of the story takes places in the pre and post game screens, leaving little to actually be told within the gameplay itself but it is an enjoyable story non the less. The instructions overall were clear and well written and it was clear what the objectives were. Some additional hints on how some of the mechanics worked would have been welcomed but do not effect the playability of the scenario at all.
Overall this is another great scenario from Al_Kharn the Great. While not as epic as Ragnars Raids or as unique as The Last Neanderthal, the Wreck of the Santa Maria is an entertain scenario which will please all players who enjoy the defend the spot style with a twist.