The Battle of Sighnaq
||Age of Empires II: DE
In the Tamerlane campaign, you helped Tokhtamysh Khan take control of the White Horde and defeat his rival, Urus Khan. Now, experience Urus' side of the story!
* 1 scenario (Defend the Spot)
* Slideshows and sound effects bring the Mongols to life
* More than 20 voiced lines of dialogue
* Three difficulty settings for all player levels
Additional credits for "The Battle of Sighnaq":
* Proofreading: FE_HockeySam18, Filthydelphia
* Support in scripting the AIs: CheeseOnToast
How to install and play:
* Extract the folder ("The Battle of Sighnaq") that is included in the .zip file to C:\Users\[Your Username]\Games\Age of Empires 2 DE\[Your Usertag]\mods\local
* Start the scenario from the campaign menu (Custom Campaigns)
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This was a more traditional Ensemble Studios-style scenario that will feel familiar to anyone who has played a lot of Age of Empires II. The player is given a city, tasked with defending a wonder and then more or less left to it.
The game was a pretty decent challenge, with frequent attacks by trebuchets ensuring that you can never quite throw up a few castles and rest on your laurels. The game encourages aggressive play by placing piles of resources out in undefended territory.
This scenario serves the role as a fitting foil to the existing Tamerlane campaign from the opposite side, which was refreshing and interesting. It doesn't really do much new, but what it does do, it does well. I enjoyed how it started out with a micro-heavy defense from assassins and then broadened out to a more traditional Build and Defend scenario.
Map Design: 4 The map is aesthetically pleasing, with a well-built city.
...Well built in a visual sense, that is. It has several defensive design flaws that the player will need to quickly see about rectifying in order to turn it into a place that is actually defensible. This is part of the fun!
The story is supported by good voice acting and a great introduction. The objectives were clear and well explained, leaving the player free to plan how to achieve them instead of wasting any time in confusion.
The Battle of Sighnaq casts two familiar figures, Tamerlane and Tokhtamysh Khan, as antagonists while centering on the fascinating but obscure figure of Urus Khan, a man who deserves much more than a mere footnote in the pages of history. Holed up in the fortress of Sighnaq, Urus fends off the feeble attempts of cowardly assassins before facing a much more visible threat: the forces of Tokhtamysh Khan approaching his citadel. With no time to lose, the player must build up the city’s defenses and endure the periodic assaults of enemy forces. A combination of map layout, enemy positions and troop choices, restrictions on the player’s technology tree, and the late appearance of a deadly enemy make this a strategically rewarding and fast-paced but manageable experience.
Underpinning the balance sphere in this entry are the aforementioned factors that contribute to strategic value. Most significant, however, is the player’s low population limit of 75, which takes us back to the small-scale setup known from the days of Age of Kings. Nowadays, many players dread low population limits; however, this is nevertheless the feature that makes the experience of this scenario so unique and salient. It demands a delicate distributive ratio of economy to military units, and the defense thus relies on shrewd fortifying procedures combined with the deft allocation of a small, mobile garrison that rushes around, dealing with each threat as it arises. Unsurprisingly, the notoriously powerful and versatile Mangudai become the player’s main tool here, but shrewd management is nevertheless required. One strike against the balance here is that it was all too easy to fortify mountain passes and funnel the enemy forces into a nest of castles protecting the player’s wonder; considering that the AI had ample means to pull it off, the occasional pressure on those would have added a little to the experience. As it stands, however, dealing with enemies arriving from two directions (and a third, once Tamerlane joins the fray) makes for vivacious and gripping gameplay.
Calling this a weakness of the scenario would be firmly inappropriate; nevertheless it may appear as such merely because the entry excels to such a degree in all other aspects. The author has taken the blueprint that earned him victory in the 2018 DtS contest and improved upon it. It is similarly simple, yet refreshingly so: the player will find no extensive modifications or vision of an entirely new game here, just tried and true Age of Empires II gameplay executed in optimal fashion. A couple of things deserve special mention, however: the map design, for one, excels in its aesthetic and its shrewd usage of Definitive Edition features, and in this regard it is groundbreaking. The author’s spin on retail campaign content is likewise a plus: he seamlessly fits it into a sequence of events well known by now from the stories of Tamerlane and Tokhtamysh, but from the opposite perspective. Further features, such as randomized placement of a relic at the start of the mission, the defense of allied wonder builders in a vulnerable location, and shrewd usage of sound files are not novel, but pleasant features nevertheless and contribute to a familiar yet improved experience.
Map Design: 5
Aesthetically, the map is nothing short of exemplary. The author has constructed a convincing fortress nestled in forbidding mountain terrain and various winding avenues from which to approach. Particularly strong in this regard is the judicious combination of familiar assets and terrain usage with new features from the Definitive Edition, which firmly enhance the visual experience without getting too carried away. Although the region depicted is mountainous, the player will delight in observing open plains, thin forests, and bogs, and the overall result is that there is ample space to maneuver and build defenses. The map’s small scale is one of its strengths: it suits the gameplay well while allowing for perfection in detail. It is a functioning visual masterpiece, and more than worthy of a perfect score in this category.
In recognizable fashion, the author provides players with an informative yet digestible historical context for the scenario before allowing the player to dictate the course of history. The injection of narrative within the scenario itself is typically minimal, but enough to give the major players some personality, contribute to the atmosphere, and drive the gameplay forward. Upon winning the scenario, the player is treated to a historical aftermath of similar structure as the introduction. Particularly notable here is the author’s usage of visuals in the introductory and concluding slides to enhance the viewing experience. Overall, the result is not earth-shattering, but it is far above average, and a credit to the overall effort.
Another installment in Bassi's series of scenarios about the Mongols and their successor states, The Battle of Sighnaq does not disappoint. Prepare yourself for an hour of enjoyable gameplay!