The Scavangers1Invasion of the Settlers is a B&D. The story is fiction; you play 'The Scavangers' who lived peaceful near the Viking town of Cricklock with whom they traded until settlers arrive blocking the main trade route.
PLAYABILITY: The scenario is quite enjoyable and has some replay value as the game differs whenever I played it. Unfortunately, there were some playability issues, no real bug or lag but flaws with regard to balance, map design and instructions that affect playability, the overall fun to play the scenario. 2
BALANCE: This was way off, the scenario serves as the perfect example for 'winning by luck', an unbalanced game on the higher levels. From the tutorial, "The ideal scenario balance happens when a player gets stuck, but he knows that it's possible to complete the objective if only he did something a little differently. A player should not win by luck, the scenario should be constructed so that a player can learn from mistakes and use his skill to complete the objective." Standard was far too easy for me, hard too hard in three attempts starting in the Dark Age with the traditional scout and three villagers against an attack in the first ten minutes of the game of a squad with Heavy Cavalry Archers, Paladins, Tarkans and Elite Mangudais, but I was probably just unlucky. Moderate seemed beatable with the right timing after I encountered a close defeat by an attack after fourteen minutes. I planned to go for Feudal Age with the initial 500 of food, woodcutting, stone mining, slaughtering sheep, farming, a stable to proceed to castle age, a university, a castle near the town centre, research murder holes, training some knights to keep the enemy busy between castle and town centre. Done, but I could not test if my strategy worked; the enemy did not attack that time until I had an Imperial army, until the enemy spotted my town and the game was ridiculously easy. A loaded saved game solved the problem; the Vikings killed the enemy scout. The AI of player 3, the grey player, does not train scouts, neglects defenses and only attacks the human player for a fast victory. AllianceThundaEmpire is a good AI for tournaments, as a trainer or the ideal computer ally for many Multiplayer maps, certainly not a good tool for scenario design. 2
CREATIVITY: Creativity rates all aspects of a scenario and here is nothing special to mention, not the story, the simple objectives, the balance, the map design or the playability aspects, but acceptable for a first scenario and I have seen worse. 2
MAP DESIGN: It is a random map, in the middle an oasis with an island, a town, a village and a fortification added, all for the better, an improvement, still missing Gaia, blending and terrain mix. It is not far from a four from an aesthetic point of view, but the technical design did not suit the scenario at all. First, it destroys the story, no need to clear the trade route as the Scavengers and Vikings trade around the east, opposite to the settlers. Second, it destroys the balance, one of the enemy outposts is in the LoS from your village, and a castle near the palisade wall attracts the defenders of the outposts, spoiling the first objective. In addition, walls block the enemy villagers, separated from resources. 3
STORY/INSTRUCTIONS: A story and objectives qualify for a four rating by the tutorial; hints and a scout section come as a bonus here. Unfortunately, there are enough reasons to knock off a point. Hints like "Your allies, the Vikings, have always told you what to do but this time guess what they're still telling you what to do so make that you do or else..............." are not helpful. Scout information like "The Vikings (red) start in the north east part of the map", confusing as they start in the southeast. In game objectives like "The settlers have 13 outposts through our trade route, we cannot send you any troops until you destroy every one" misleading because you can trade around the forest of the east side of the lake, in addition there are twelve trade posts on the trade route; the thirteenth is on an island. 3
OVERALL: 'The Scavangers1Invasion of the Settlers' is a good first scenario.
SUGGESTIONS: Try the standard AI for the enemy and trigger the first attack. Position the markets so that the trade carts pass in front of enemy towers until the road by the lake is clear. Have more trees, first outpost out of sight of the village, condition the first objective to 'object destroyed' of the twelve outposts around the lake instead of eleven plus the one on the island and have a distance, more space between resources like mines, fields and walls for the enemy player.
IN CLOSING: I recommend 'The Scavangers1Invasion of the Settlers.