|Al_Kharn the Great
Posted on 07/21/18 @ 03:48 PM (updated 04/24/19
Ride with Temujin as he defeats his rivals, unites the warring tribes, and begins his path of world conquest!
||Age of Kings HD: Rise of the Rajas
||Build and Destroy
Subjugate the steppe tribes through unique raiding gameplay!
Hold feasts to increase your power and authority!
Take wives to boost your economy and form alliances!
Pillage the cities of powerful Chinese dynasties!
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. His works also include several of the revised campaigns featured in Age of Empires: Definitive Edition.
Rise of Genghis Khan requires The Forgotten, African Kingdoms, and Rise of the Rajas DLCs
|Author||Reviews ( All | Comments Only | Reviews Only )|
Nearly two decades after Genghis Khan was featured in the Age of Kings campaigns, Al_Kharn the Great has graced the Age of Empires II community with his own take on the ascendancy of the world-famous Mongol conqueror. In Rise of Genghis Khan, players will step into the shoes of this historical character and lead him from humility to hegemony, subduing all of the tribes of Mongolia and perhaps even pillaging the northern frontiers of China in the process.
As was the case with many of the author's other recent works, the scenario takes a natural progression from small-scale beginnings to greater influence and eventually dominance, utilizing an interesting blend of B&D and FF elements. The player must moderate between growth and overexpansion while being judicious with resources, which at least initially are not in overabundance. The result is a rather realistic balance between pastoralism and predatory nomadism as the player raids opponents while defending their increasingly large dominion. Freedom of choice is the order of the day, as the player has various paths to victory available and can decide when and whom to attack -- although some conflicts are inevitable.
This was the one category of the scenario that seemed somewhat lacking in comparison to the others. The initial stages were perfectly balanced, demanding shrewd decision-making and army management to raid for plunder and additional villagers and horses while defending what is already available. However, the relative scarcity of attacks combined with the rather weak resistance of your steppe opponents (the Chinese are another story) slowed the pacing a fair amount - once the player hits a critical mass of units they can easily steamroll the other tribes, whose tech level is considerably lower than that of the player. The respawning heroes (Temujin and Jamukha) are also rather abuse-prone in this setting, meaning that it is theoretically possible to mop up much of the map in the early stages and grow unchecked. The Chinese bases, on the other hand, were quite grindy to assail - the main issue being the player's lack of a viable anti-building option - although destroying them was not obligatory to achieve victory.
The high point of the scenario for sure. The author has endeavored through several simple yet clever mechanics to emulate life on the steppe. Raid enemy camps for gold and villagers, secure alliances through marriage, capture horses to outfit elite troops, and hold feasts to increase your prestige and power. The resulting experience was unique but accessible and complemented the gameplay rather than detracting from it as so many attempts at innovation in Age of Empires II scenarios have done. The creativity also manifested itself in objectives and map design, both of which will be touched on later.
Map Design: 5
In terms of the blend of aesthetic and utility, this is without a doubt the author's finest custom campaign work to date. The author has convincingly depicted the vast Mongolian steppe and its inhabitants with deft usage of various terrains and scenery objects. If a downside was to be noted, it would be that large swathes of the map are quite flat, but this is an understandable decision considering the geography of several steppe regions. The map is interesting to view and explore and suits the gameplay well. While the Chinese inner fortresses could use a degree of improvement in layout and building placement, this minor drawback is by no means enough to significantly detract from what is overall a spectacular work.
Always a strength of the author, the narrative manifests itself through a gradually developing plot driven by a series of objectives ranging from the simple to the dauntingly grand. It is easy to step into the shoes of the young Borjigin upstart as he gallops along the path to Great Khan. As mentioned before, a hallmark of the scenario is the combination of innovation and accessibility - everything is abundantly clear or at least very possible to puzzle out. It is not an incredibly complex narrative (at least in comparison with the actual historical events), but it is a gripping one nevertheless and was a joy to engage with.
Well worth several playthroughs and the time to review, Rise of Genghis Khan is guaranteed to please players of all levels and varying tastes. I can only commend the author on an excellent job and thank him for taking the time to create this work!
"Rise of Genghis Khan" is a campaign-length scenario depicting the struggle of the most famous warlord among the Mongols to rise from an outcast to a leader of all the steppe tribes. The scenario features teh familiar raiding mechanics of the author's prior Viking scenarios (where gold is only gathered by destroying enemy buildings) with a new progression mechanic that requires the player to trigger events that grow his horde but lead to diplomatic reversals with his allies. It was played on Moderate difficulty in the HD edition.
The scenario is fun to play. The gameplay loop consists of raiding the hostile tribes with your band of horsemen and the respawning heroes in order to gain gold via destroying enemy buildings; steal horses that can be exchanged for Mangudai at you base camp; and collect workers (wives) in order to boost your economy and construct stables, archery ranges (for the cavalry archers) and a forge for all those upgrades. The ultimate goal is to either subjugate all the Mongol tribes or destroy all the Chinese border cities. This freedom of objectives ties into a diplomacy system- you can choose a tribe to forge an alliance with via marriage, and the player is also free to change his stance to hostile with each tribe via the Diplomacy tab at any point.
The main issue withe the scenario is the disparity between the two potential objectives. The Mongol tribes largely rely on cavalry, and Camels are a clear counter to anything the enemy can come up with, making conquering the opposing tribes trivial as soon ans you can reach Castle Age. On the other hand, the Chinese cities are defended by balanced unit compositions, as well as walls, towers, and in one case, a castle. Breaking these with only cavalry (or cavalry archers) can be both tedious and difficult. It took me 4 waves of about 60 Hussars each in order to breach the gates and destroy the Jin castle. This is a difficulty/tedium spike that is fairly out of place with the rest of the scenario, and that makes it all the more jarring.
The scenario had a number of original ideas. Although both the raiding mechanic and using horses as the primary currency on the steppe were used in prior scenarios (the Viking scenarios for the former, and hammister's "Lord of the Steppe" for the latter), the combination of the 2 works to create a unique experience. The diplomatic options, although limited, add a degree of replayability to the scenario as well.
Map Design: 5
The map is varied and reflects the various features of the Mongolian steppe- from the taiga forests in the north to the deserts at the edge of the Chinese borders, with a rolling grassland and hills in between. The cities and Mongol camps were well detailed. Overall the map was well-done.
The story is competently told through the bitmap, Aftermath screen, as well as in-game messages via triggers. The text provides a competent explanation and context to Genghis Khan's meteoric rise to power and the early conquests of his powerful horde. The Hints and Scouts sections were informative, providing the information necessary to formulate a strategy on how to approach individual enemies. The in-game messages provided a good explanation of scenario's unique mechanics, making it easy to get into the intended gameplay loop.
"Rise of Genghis Khan" is an interesting variation on the author's earlier raiding-focused scenarios, transplanting these mechanics from a Viking setting onto the Mongol Steppe. Although the unbalanced difficulty undermines the initial concept of choice-based objectives, the scenario still offers a fresh raiding experience that's definitely worth checking out.