It is the first scenario of the campaign under construction 'The First Crusade, part 2'.
In this scenario you play for Raymond of Toulouse. Your primary task is to bring Raymond and his army to Marash (along with carts containing food and gold), and then to ensure the rear of the Crusading army before you march towards Antioch. You can collect gold, food and other commodities by plundering enemy settlements on the way, capturing and selling slaves and horses, hunting deer and wild boars.
The map this time is only 50% real, i.e. names of the prominent Crusaders, place-names and the relative position of the major settlements and principal roads reflect the historical reality, names of churches, inns and taverns are for the most part invented.
All the ideas, parts of AI files and sounds are borrowed from the AoK.heavengames, all the credits are due to their corresponding creators.
The story starts in The First Crusade. Part 1
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ENOTH must be one of the most, if not the most, prolific AoK design teams, and they churned out work of a consistently high standard. I’ve never encountered a dud and their best work, the Prince of Persia, is as good as anything at the Blacksmith. (I’m assuming ENOTH is a they but for all I know it was a he or a she.) I think all their designs are based on historical events, in this case the Crusades.
I had a lot of fun playing this. Characteristic of ENOTH’s style is a certain fluidity in that the gameplay can be very open and freestyle – you can explore the map and tackle challenges as you see fit, and without precise guidance. The downside of this might be that on occasion the player is a little lost as to what exactly they are supposed to be doing. Playing this game I did feel that on more than one occasion but even so I liked its liberating style and consider it preferable to the more common experience of being put in a straitjacket and constantly forced down one path. On being lost, I later found my problems were exacerbated by my failure to read the history which does clarify a number of things, even if that’s not the best place for such instruction. They don’t really detract but certain elements of the game, such as accumulating food and slaves, served no discernible purpose. The only bug I encountered of any consequence was difficulty in converting infantry to cavalry (another, which is trivial, is that one of the monks says that he needs a horse but you get him anyway).
Really good. I played on hard and progressing through the “tremendous pass” of the Cilician Gates was a very interesting challenge, which I failed to meet on more than one occasion. As the notes say, “at times the road is so steep and so narrow that a small hostile party in command of the heights can quickly cause havoc to a slow-moving army.” Still, it was always clear that it was possible. Other challenges require good micromanagement, and different units come into their own at different points.
Creativity is evidenced by the challenges referred to above, the map design, the storytelling and dialogue, use of sounds, the eunuchs and the female slaves, and the mosquito-infested pond.
MAP DESIGN (5)
The map design is also of a very high standard. The overall layout and some of the main features reflect reality. There is good use of a wide variety of terrains and natural features and they are blended well. Elevation is also used well. (Mysteriously, there are a number of places on the map which do not appear to play any part in proceedings – could they have been to feature in a sequel?) It’s not a stunningly beautiful map but I can’t think of a good reason to deduct any points.
As mentioned, some might be left scratching their heads at times. There is a comprehensive history, instructions and hints sections, but the objectives are not always transparent and it would have been helpful to have had a scouts section. For example, I wasn’t sure where the Cilician gates were; that is implicit in the history section but you can’t access that in-game. The final destination is also not clearly identified. One can work all this out but some help would have been good. Nonetheless, on balance this section is fine with, in addition to the features above, a fine bitmap. I do not recall spotting any spelling or grammatical mistakes.
I envy any newcomer to ENOTH who enjoys this. You’ve got so much more good stuff to come.