Horns of Hattin is Alkhalim's entry to the 2018 Defend the Spot Competition.
This entry placed the player in the position of one of the Crusader factions at Hattin in 1191, with the task of defending the Crusader position from relentless Saracen attacks until the water supply in the camp runs out. This was rather straightforward, and consisted largely of a spamfest of trash and ranged units to counter the endless large enemy waves. The far-flung nature of the Crusader camp provided a great opportunity for additional strategic depth in being forced to assist in the defense of various regions of the camp (all of which produce additional troops for you); unfortunately, the enemy AI chose to concentrate its attacks solely on the eastern part of the camp, often running headlong through the rest of the allied camp and being picked to pieces on the way. The scenario also did not seem completable - I defended my position until all of the aqueducts expired and yet the mission did not seem to progress at all, leaving me at a loss as I could do little more but wait in confusion until I was gradually overwhelmed.
The strongest point of the scenario, the balance and pacing actually felt quite fair, challenging the player for certain but never being excessively overwhelming. The enemy employed a diverse army that required the player to answer it with one of their own, and there was a welcome feeling of gradually losing ground over time and being pushed up against the wall while waiting for victory. One point of contention would be that the allied players did very little on their own; another was the endless and disorganized nature of the enemy assaults which provided no breathing room. The last thing that left the player scratching his head was the unnecessarily buffed towers in their camp, which caused the final stage to force the player to prioritize micromanaging those over their actual army.
Certain creative elements certainly shone, such as the modded technologies and the degree of interreliance between each Crusader camp as well as the ability to raid enemy caravans for supplies, but the core gameplay of the scenario was somewhat bland and generic, as aforementioned consisting of both sides endlessly feeding troops into the meatgrinder for the duration of the scenario with little variability or strategic depth beyond that.
Map Design: 3
The map design was a mixed bag, consisting of certain portions that legitimately looked quite good and others that were average or even below par. The saving grace of this category was the way the map was structured to be conducive to strong gameplay - a strength that unfortunately the nature of the AI assured that the scenario was unable to fully capitalize upon. The layout of the Crusader encampment in particular was a highlight, but much of the rest of the map left something to be desired.
The author provides the player with a set of adequate instructions and a straightforward narrative that sufficed to complement the gameplay. There is not much else to comment here, as this category was found to be neither unsatisfactory nor spectacular.
While it could go to see some improvement, this was an enjoyable entry and certainly worthy of a player's time. I recommend the download.