ESCC Finalist - Karl der Grosse
The story follows the conquests of the Greatest European King of the "Dark Ages". Charlemagne or Karl der Grosse as he was sometimes known conquered all of Western & most of Central Europe and left a lasting legacy of Christianity that would last in Europe until the present day !
||Age of Kings 1.0
This scenario is a bold attempt to plot all the major conquests of Charlemagnes life. It contains many missions that must be accomplished to complete the scenario. The map is a fairly realistic map of Western Europe in Charlemagne's time.
I have taken some poetic license in the creation of the scenario that may not gel with some of the histories written although all are a little vague about certain things. I have taken liberties mostly to enhance gameplay. The following are some examples of the liberties I have taken.
1. The use of the name Karl der Grosse. Charlemagne's capital was in Aachen in modern day Germany. The Franks were definitely a Germanic tribe so I have used Charlemagne more Germanic title for its romantic sound !
2. The use of the Vikings civ for the Saxons.. purely to have the wonderful Viking Wonder as the "Pagan Temple"
3. The Spanish campaigns are "tweaked" into one campaign where the Basques and Pamplona are combined as a single enemy.
4. No gunpowder units are available.. it's the 8th century !
5. Some terrain (while mostly in place) is not perfectly geographically correct to ensure that gameplay is not affected.
6. As the Avars were a nomadic horse based civilisation I have given them the Mongol Building set.
7. Alcuin was Charlemagne's tutor a Saxon Briton who did not meet him until later in life. I have used him as an aide and companion from the start.
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Karl der Grosse is an interesting but flawed scenario which hasnt aged well. The scenario was played with both userpatch 1.4 and 1.0c but the issues covered in the review were identical.
The player starts with a huge base covering the authors representation of Charlemagne's kingdom on the strategic scale. Unfortunately AoKTC is a very tactical game and the author should have attempted to use the largest map size and make more geographic compromises to ensure the basic "smooth" operation of the base\kingdom. You will have problems like TCs(and starting army units) separated by uncrossing rivers or geographic dividers like forests cutting your kingdom into pieces, a base filled with objects that make placing farms or accessing basic resources troublesome, and also several units and building options disabled, key of which is the knight which the frankish civ depends upon so much. You will also be forbidden from having more than 600 gold as Charlemagne donates it all to the church. Its a bit annoying to even get your eco running as the city is jam packed with objects.
Numerous trigger errors made playing difficult, often forcing you as ally when supposed to be enemies, or requiring enemy units to get to a spot you would have reasonably walled off. The scenario tells you that you can make diplomacy choices but infact most of your relationships are controlled by looping triggers, so you cannot freely change them.
The balance is quite off in many ways on this one. First of all you start in the imperial age with a vast empire, many units, big resources, etc etc. Building universities,as some random dialogue from a monk will inform you, will simply grant you vast amounts of free research, including fully upgraded paladins, of which you possess about 40 at the start. Deep in the hints section you will find a suggestion to place Charlemagne at the head of your army to make battles easier.
This advice should be placed in bold, front and center, as battles are completely impossible without bringing Charlemagne to the correct place. For instance, the starting mission against the lombards seems simple enough to crush the castle aged lombards with your starting units. But after a pile of bodies 100 ft high and all my army had died to their endless units, i tried 12 of the machine gun cheat cars and spent nearly 10 minutes killing several million of their fast spawning infinite armies. Eventually i found you needed to bring Charlemagne nearby to stop their spawning, although Charlemagne is a weak,slow TA you would be well advised to keep in a safe space somewhere. A warning is even provided to keep your starting roland hero safe as the scenario cannot be won if he dies. Better not to have included such a secondary hero, or perhaps wall him up until he is permitted to join the campaign then.
Ultimately the scenario is a cake walk, once you have realized Charlemagne must be kept at the front the enemies have no answer for your powerful paladins+monks combo, not even the camel factions. They are all in the castle age with poorly upgraded units. For example, the saxons attacked, with no upgrades whatsoever, against my FU Paladins. And were even outnumbered by my men to boot.
The scenario seemed reasonably varied with each opponent coming with its set of issues to resolve. The gameplay was tweaked by disabling the powerful knights in order to force the player to play carefully, but due to it all being too easy it wasnt clear if this was helping. Unfortunately because of bugs i couldnt experience all that the author had prepared to the end.
Map Design 4
The map is excellently designed. My first impressions was that i was looking at a pretty town contest attempt, but unfortunately many aesthetic decisions do conflict with basic gameplay needs. Forests and paths are well varied with terrain mixing aplenty. All areas of the map have been worked upon and detailed. The rivers and oceans could use more terrain mixing however. I made a full screen printout at 1:1 and found it a pleasant view to examine.
The basic story of Charlemagne was delivered reasonably well and the winning message wrapped things up cleanly. However the opening text was quite long winded, while its contents had a good deal of partially broken grammar due to the author being a primarily german speaker.
At one point i completed the given objectives and wasnt given a new one nor a bit of dialogue hinting what to do next. The hints section needed to be reworked and some of the "hints" should have been listed as mandatory objectives. Some players dont want to spoil themselves with hints and would avoid 100% critical information needed to even play the game.
Final thoughts: With a little bit of trigger debugging, and balance "Karl der Grosse" could be a pretty good scenario. Unfortunately its been released in far to rough a shape to recommend playing, with numerous gameplay breaking bugs. In the end i couldnt complete the scenario despite restarts from scratch and reloads, doing my best to accommodate the triggers.
[Edited on 02/12/17 @ 12:05 PM]