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Gyda's Challenge

Author File Description
Ingo van Thiel
File Details
Version: The Conquerors 1.0c
Style: Mix
Harald Fairhair was the first Viking king to unite the small kingdoms of Norway. Legend has it that a proud princess provoked him into doing so: Gyda, daughter of Erik of Hordaland. She told Harald's messengers that she would not marry him unless he became king of all Norway. The messengers returned, expecting that Harald would order them to dishonor Gyda to punish her for her pride. But to their surprise, Harald accepted the challenge. He swore he would not cut his hair before all of Norway was under his command.

What sounds like the beginning of a romantic and heroic story ends in bloodshed, terror and oppression.

Installation: Extract all files to your Age of Kings folder. They should go into the right directories.

Thanks a lot to all people who playtested this scenario! Your names are in the "Scouts" section.

To all others: I hope you'll enjoy the campaign! If you find any bugs, please email me at
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AuthorComments & Reviews   ( All | Comments Only | Reviews Only )
sirgawain Ingo did another amazing Job. If you played The Quest and TKBM, you just have to try this one. He is the God of Mapdesigning, you have to download this Campaign!!!
Its another 5.0 like the other things from him.
I really enjoyed playing this.
Ingo you ROCK!!!
Map Design5.0
I first heard of this new scenario by Ingo van Thiel a week ago we he announced that he wanted play testers for his new scenario, “Gyda’s Challenge”. Regretfully I couldn’t play test it then, finishing my ES contest entry, but now when it is in the blacksmith I downloaded it at once. And I don’t regret it.

Ingo has been praised as one of the most creative mapmakers in our community. For example, his last campaign “The kings best men” gave us many impressions of “Huh? How did he do that?”. This time Ingo has used his old tricks yet again, but in a wonderful new meaning, and in a way that (to my knowledge) no one has done before.

As to be expected with an Ingo-map, it’s much conquest. What makes these maps so wonderful is that they are always tough, but never impossible. There were times when I played this campaign I thought that I might as well start over again. But, I didn’t, and I managed to finish it anyways! And immediately after finishing it, I want to play it again! It was such a good scenario!

The story was wonderful. You were dragged into a plot so thick you wouldn’t be able to make your way out again, even if you tried. And I can almost assure you that you won’t. It’s too much fun playing. The only single complain I could find was that the bitmap’s colors were a bit strange at some places, but as AoK is a 256 color game and the story is so thick and fun, this isn’t nearly enough to give it a 4 in this category.

I shouldn’t say this, because I haven’t played that many maps lately, but this must be if not the so at least one of the best maps to use the snow and ice terrains. The map work is wonderful, interesting, and even geographically correct! The only thing missing would have been to fill 70% more of the map with mountains, but that would have ruined the game play, as you surely understand. The map is over the southern part of Norway. Your own city is in the spot were Oslo is now, and a small part of western Sweden does therefore also show. The Swedish part consists of grass and green forests, while the Norwegian side is mostly snow, ice, and pine forest with snow on. You might think that the snow is such a boring terrain, just the same everywhere. Well, Ingo is one of those who have discovered the secret on how to use it right. I’m sure that if you are a mapmaker yourself, like me, you will get new ideas on how to do your maps after playing this one.

As stated above, Ingo brings some fresh ideas to the community with this scenario. You might raise your eyebrows when you first notice the turtle ship lying outside your city. But laugh and behold as Ingo turns it into an icebreaker, and gives you free passage to your enemy. It’s things like these that not only increase the creativity, but also the playability, as it’s fun, and makes you want to see it again.

“Gyda’s Challenge” is a worthy 5.0-scorer, just like the rest of Ingo’s work. Download, play it, enjoy playing it again, and then do so for as long as you finds it interesting, and you’ll have to do in many hours from now.
The Conquistador
Map Design5.0
When I saw "Gyda's Challenge" in the blacksmith done by Ingo van Thiel, one of my 3 greatest idiols in scenario designing, I was very excited and downloaded the campaign as soon as I had time. However, I was more or less disappointed.

The playability was perfect. I really liked how it transforms from an RPG to a B&D and the different objectives concerning each enemy. Two thumbs up.

The balance was also perfect. I didn't feel at any point that I had nothing to do and the bases were pretty hard to destroy. Also, the final showdown with King Erik was pretty good too.

The creativity is a definte 4. There were not much new things in the scenario, just a combination of old tricks (which is not bad in itself). To sum it up, it just did not strike me as surprising and impressive as some original trigger tricks (which to this day hardly anybody uses) in TDS's epic campaign "The Nexus". But it was still good.

The map design is no doubt a 5, but many of the things (ie. eye candy tricks) were seen in Ingo's previous campaigns. But it was still excellent.

The story and instructions section is another minor dissapointment in my opinion. The instructions were ample and I didn't get confused or anything, but I didn't really like the story. The story had almost nothing to do with Gyda, the daughter of King Erik and the love interest of Harald, the main character of the story. Since she was technically one of the main characters, she should've had more to do with the story. Basically she just offered a challenge of taking over all of Norway and talked for a bit. And there were not much visual aid to the story, just the beginning part where you have to visit Gyda and the part where King Erik through a guy into the sea. To sum it up, I didn't really "get into" the story. So, I feel that this section should be rated a 4.

+ Points

- Excellent playability and balance
- Excellent map design

- Points

Mediocre story

Final Thoughts: If anybody could be rated as a scenario design god, it would be Ingo. However, this campaign more or less proved that there will never be a scenario design god (NOT that Ingo is not good). I still think that Ingo is one of the greatest scenario designers ever, though.
Fox_Mulder_ Ingo has made another campaign, and this time it showed me that Ingo, aside from being one of the top designers at AokHeaven, is a very versatile designer: he can design map that take settings in warmer, sub-Mediterranean climates (in The King's Best Men) -- the map design, with creative and thoughtful uses of specific types of trees that give the right feeling to the surrounding terrains. There are more to say, but you get the point :-)

In this campaign, the settings take place in the cold polar region, Norway. When I first started the game, the sound effects of the artic wind blowing, along with the brilliant use of leafless trees and snow, I gave me a chill feeling, literally! It accompanied the story perfectly.

Overall, although this campaign doesn't have as much interesting objectives that give you non-stop laughter as TKBM -- i.e. let me pigs loose so they can attack the knights... --- this campaign, Gyda's challenge, is of a different "genre" than TKBM and "The Quest": it gives you a different angle of looking at the story about King Harald, his quest in uniting Norway, and the challenge imposed by Gyda that eventually caused hardships to the people in Norway. Therefore, in my opinion, the lack of comedy is very appropriate -- you shouldn't laugh when the story is about tears and bloodshed.

Last thoughts: In motion picture films, Steven Spielberg is a famous director because not only he can direct great adventure films such as Indiana Jones that keep your heart pounding the whole time -- he is famous because he can direct more than just adventure films: he made science-fiction ones such as Jurassic Park and E.T. He also made thriller ones such as Jaws, and dramatic ones such as Schindler's list.

Well, in scenario designs, there are many great designers, but the one that I would call "Steven Spielberg of Aok Scenario designs" is Ingo Van Thiel.
Xman Ingo, I don't need to say much: 5.0 !!

I can't believe that Conquestador guy gave this work of art a 4.6 !! What ??!!! 4.6?? Hello ?? You kidding me dude?
He gave the creativity a flat 4!!

Quote: "The creativity is a definte 4. There were not much new things in the scenario, just a combination of old tricks (which is not bad in itself). To sum it up, it just did not strike me as surprising and impressive as some original trigger tricks (which to this day hardly anybody uses) in TDS's epic campaign "The Nexus". But it was still good."

Hello Conquestador!! There are more in great campaigns than just a few "tricks" here-and-there. There are story and plots too!! In addition, you said the tricks are "old". It's not entirely the "trick" that's important: it's how the artists USE them to narrate the story being told!!

I'm sorry Ingo for using this page to make comments like this. It's just that I'm furious after I read the review by him. I know, and many other people know, that he was just trying to "throw dirt" onto your great legacy.
Bryantr7 Hi Ingo, you rock! Not much to say that hasn't been said before ^_^

Just one thing, when I read the review for a 4.6, I was angry just like a few people here. I couldn't believe my eyes and what I read in the review by Stan The Conquistador. It seems to me that the same thing has happened again ^_^.
A while ago, there was an incident, a really heated one, involving Stan's arbitrary review of "The Last Samurai" by CerberusXXL. Stan gave it a really poor review with poor reasons to back it up. Soon after that, I think Angel_Spineman made changes to the reviewing system so that
unreasonable ones, as such, can be changed. The Last Samurai was given somewhere lower than a 3.0, which was later changed to a 4.8.

I hope this will not turn into another "flame war" on Stan. "oops he did it again!" ^_^

By the way Ingo, the Comment Submission form on this page is a little incorrect: the name of the download says "Gyda", so I couldn't submit my comments at first. It should be corrected to "Gyda's Challenge". I hope you will read this and ask Angel Rasher to fix the problem.

Wildom Yo, Fox_Mulder, those are good comments you've made. Why don't you try adding a little more and submit it as an Official Review? I'm sure it'll qualify.
Map Design5.0
One of the areas that I like most in any great campaign is its map design so I will start with it. Just as the beauty in a woman that attracts a man and lure him in, an artistically crafted scenario is the first alluring aspect of the game that captures a player’s attention and makes him want to play. In this campaign, Gyda’s Challenge, the settings took place in the cold polar region, Norway. Just a few minutes into the game, using the sound effects of the artic wind blowing, along with the careful and deliberate selections of leafless trees and snow, the author successfully added feelings to the lifeless environment. It just gave me a chill feeling, literally! (I’m living in California, USA, and summer has started.) The area around the first town looked so real and beautiful: a stretchy, curvy, icy-blue coastline having edges textured with thin strips of grassy vegetations, supported by a few sea rocks
laced together with some oaks and snowy pines. Wow! So relaxing to the eyes :-). In the game, when King Harald’s messengers went to Gyda to offer the marriage proposal and said to her, “this is your lucky day, Gyda. Our king offer you a place by his castle,” -- I remember thinking to myself, “this Harald guy it quite romantic...he picked a really nice spot...with a lake view, too!” Well, these are just the few “goodies” on the list. I’ll let you find out the rest.

The second thing I look for in a campaign is the story. A beautiful scenario with a bad plot is like a newly painted car with a hundred-thousand-mile engine -- nice to look at, but it won’t run (maybe it will, but it will not get you very far). Well, this campaign has more than just looks: it has got “personality”! In the game, my first mission was to deliver the King’s message to Gyda. I was given control of the 4 messengers. As I moved the units just past the left corner of the town, my focus shifted from the town to the new path, so that I can prepare for possible enemy troops. Then, right at that moment King Harald called after the messengers, “...bring her here immediately after her consent.” At that point, I felt as if I was not just the player. I was the messenger! The author, with a simple, right timing of text display, ingeniously made me feel that I was part of that role. In addition, what impressed me the most was the author’s ability to give the characters their own unique personalities through well-written dialogues. Right off from the start, I could tell that Harald was a gutsy, impatient young man, who makes decisions mostly on his impulses. Gyda was also a tough person with a different kind of arrogance. She enjoys using her beauty and sharp wit as weapons to subdue men and to make them do idiotic things to one another. Sounds like someone you’ve met before? :-)
In a campaign, giving a player background information on the characters’ profiles and personalities by sheer means of pictures and plain texts, is easy. Making a player feel that he or she actually “knows” the character(s), through the game’s missions, is much more difficult. This
campaign has succeeded in this area, brilliantly!

Balancing a scenario is perhaps one of the hardest parts in scenario designs, if not THE hardest. Although this campaign was very balanced, the first time I played it, I thought the first mission (delivering messages) was quite easy. Because of my experience in random maps, I was able to kill off the group of archers and sword men with not even a scratch on my ranged units -- you know how you shoot a pig in random maps with a villager, make him get so mad and charges after your, and then you run your villager in a circle and let the other villagers launch arrows onto the pig’s behind?? Hehehe, that was what I did :-). Anyway, I thought that was easy. But then just a few seconds after that...oh boy, was I wrong!! Another group of archers came out of nowhere, and before my Berserks could be healed up, they got whacked on the head by axes of the enemies’ Berserks. With my two archers left, I made a quick dash to the town just to get bitten by three wolves. One of my two archers got killed; the last one had exactly 8 hit-points left -- just enough for me to hop into the town center. That was as close as it could have got!

The Playability of this scenario was just “right-on”! For example, when a group
of enemy knights and rams attacked my town, my heart started to beat a little faster. Then after a few minutes, I managed to wipe them out, and my town center was on fire. With the given villagers, I had them fixed the town, and right at the same time more villagers were being created. No big deal! When I have created about eight or nine villagers with a few blacksmith upgrades, a group of enemy soldiers flooded the north entrance to the town, while several longboats from the south killed off my group of farmers. Phew,That was so intense! I liked this particular mission so much that I saved it and replayed it over-and-over.

Last but certainly and absolutely not least, is creativity. You would be amazed at the new things this campaign has. I particularly enjoyed the scene where King Erik threw one of my units off the cliffs. I’m cruel? Come on, 99% of Aok is about killing anyway :-). Another trick that I really like is the ice-breaking ship. I’ll let you find that out! At this day and age, I couldn’t believe that there are even new tricks left undiscovered! Regardless of the tricks it has, this campaign, Gyda's challenge, is of a different "genre" than TKBM or The Quest: it gives you a different angle of looking at the campaign, the story about a young, inexperienced King named Harald, whom, with so much power in his
hands, got deflected into a wrong path by beauty and his own ignorance, which consequently ended up having no winners at all. This reminded me of an old saying, “great powers come great responsibility”. Overall, although this campaign doesn't have as much interesting objectives that give you non-stop laughter as in TKBM -- i.e. open the pigpen, set the pigs loose so they can attack the knights -- the lack of comedy was very appropriate. You shouldn't laugh when the story is about tears and bloodshed. Oops! I almost forgot about the author writing style: very witty, fun, and original!! None of the dialogues contained any cliche, which is very common in most campaigns. When we speak of creativity, we often get an image that creativity is bounded within map design tricks, trigger tricks, and not very much else. Creativity factors into more categories than just the two above, and one good example is the
styles in writing. The most specific and simplest example of the author’s creative writing, that would be easiest for me to explain here, is: in the “scout” section of the OJECTIVE box, the author wrote, “thanks to all the scouts who skimmed the map for bugs.” That was very creative! He could have written, “thanks to all the play-testers who tested the game,” and wouldn’t that have sounded SO BORING to you? There were a lot more creative things that he wrote, but this is the easiest one for me to explain.

In motion-picture films, Steven Spielberg is a famous director not just because he directed great adventure films such as Indiana Jones that kept your heart pounding the whole time, with the comedic, nonverbal aspects of it that made you laugh till your stomach hurts -- he is famous because he can direct MORE than just adventure films! Steven Spielberg have made amazing science fiction ones such as Jurassic Park and E.T. He also made thriller ones such as Jaws, and dramatic
ones such as Schindler's list.

Well, in scenario designs, there are many great designers, but the one that I would call "Steven Spielberg of Aok Scenario designs" is Ingo Van Thiel.
King Barbarossa Ingo has done it again! I am very pleased to see a fun, yet historically accurate scenario on the Vikings. I am well acquainted with the story of Gyda and what she dared Harald Fairhair to do. Ingo van Thiel portrayed the story to the maximum, I don’t think it could have been done any better.

The Vikings are a very special civilization, and don’t portrayed as much as they should have in Age of Kings scenarios. The Norse or Vikings traveled to places such as England, northern France, the coasts of Spain and Italy, Russia, the Holy Land, Anatolia, the Middle East, and Vinland. While all of these locations are worthy places to make a scenario on, you rarely see anything on the Vikings in their native land of Scandinavia. Gyda’s Challenge gives you the true feel of the Vikings in their fatherland, as you experience Viking warfare on land and sea. I cannot describe the thrill you get from commanding a horde of Berserkers, or sailing the deep blue Fjords of Norway in a fleet of Longboats.

The scenario itself was beautifully crafted. The map was very detailed, and had the true feel of Norway. The gameplay was superb. It was fun to deliver the instructions to Gyda, then take control of Harald’s forces and unite all of Norway. After you have conquered most of the rival kings, the game takes the feel you had at the beginning as you crack through the ice and fight the naval battle of Hafursfjord. After the enemy ships have sunk to their deaths in the icy waters, a cool chase scene ensues as King Erik tries to escape. (Ingo does his famous “terrain creation” in an awesome manner once again.)

I must say that this scenario is a very wise choice to download. Studying the layout of the map and gameplay can help you become a better scenario designer and provide you with fruitful ideas when crafting your own scenario, whether it be Viking or not.
pabsthooligan This was definitely worth the download and was a heck of a lot of fun.
I think people's complaints are mainly stemming from Ingo's rep among fantasy-RPG type players who find real history and civilizations boring. Their loss, I suppose.
True, it's not TKBM. It's still better than 99.9% of the other downloads available here. And I hope Stan gives my campaign a 4.6 review. That's nothing to complain about.
Thanks for working your butt off to provide me with an hour of bug-free goofing off, Ingo!
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Map Design5.0
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