I played this scenario on Difficulty Hard with Standard Resources and no cheats, not even Marco Polo, and before ever looking at the Editor. I found some parts more fun to play than a Random Map but some were frustrating. The author has set up a nice map with lots of different ways to go places, and a good position for the Build phase of the game. I enjoyed finding my way around the map, getting killed a few times but eventually getting the right path. There were two times I thought I was stuck and would have to give up, but I figured out what to do and managed to finish. My ally helped for a while but then he ran out of resources and his crowd of villagers just stood by the wall for the rest of the game, ignoring all the wood available outside the walls, and even ignoring the gold and stone available inside.
Later in the game when I had a surplus, I tributed him some gold and he immediately put together an impressive army which he then sent on a suicide mission. Well, that’s the AI’s fault, not the designer’s, but it did affect my enjoyment of the game
There was also a problem with the Victory Conditions. I totally destroyed everything the enemy had; troops, siege weps, civilian men and women, walls, towers, mines, everything, including the infinitely regenerating magic troops. It was as if the enemy had never existed. But I still could not get a Victory. Well, there is one way I could. I would have to turn on my Protestant ally the Franks and wipe them out too. But that would defeat the goal of the scenario, which is for the Protestants to prevail over the Catholics, not over their fellow Protestants. Please add a condition if Player 3 and Player 4 are defeated, declare victory for Player 1.
The designer has set up triggers for 4 levels of difficulty, and I got wiped out a few times before I managed to finish the game, so I would consider it fairly balanced.
The game was pretty much a normal Build and Destroy with a few twists added. The map allowed for some opportunities to choose between different routes, and the player could acquire new troops along the way, and upon reaching the Castle.
Map Design: 3
This map had some things better than a Random Map and some things I felt were lacking. The layout of the Castle Compound surrounded by water, with all but one bridge out, gave the effect of a moat and allowed the defenders to set up a perfect enfilade zone. It created a highly defensible position, allowing Player 1 ample time to build up forces, punctuated by the occasional mass attack from the enemy.
On the negative side, I felt the absence of any wildlife at all made the territory seem ghostly. The map was created on a giant green felt background with the river and straight paths drawn onto it. There are no deer anywhere. There are no fish in the waters of the moat and the water is so deep you can’t build a dock. I spend quite a while one time and placed my band in harm’s way , backtracking to a pond I passed, to try and get some desperately needed fish. But the fish were all in the middle of the perfectly rectangular pond and my Villagers couldn’t reach them with a net. I tried to build a dock but the water was so deep in this little pond that I couldn’t build it. So I didn’t get any food from those fish, the only wildlife on the map (except for enemy sheep).
You could improve this by starting with a Random Map with all the wildlife already there, and the correct depths of water placed by the shore, and then draw your moat and place your Castle compound, etc.
There were ample resources within the Castle compound itself, which made my job real easy, but they were perfect rectangles too, which takes away from the feeling of the game and makes it look more like a diagram than a real landscape.
There wasn’t really a story other than the brief reference to a religious war between Protestants and Catholics in England. You could improve this by adding the date and a little more history. There are instructions and they are good. The objective is spelled out but after I achieved the first objective it remained in the menu and I never got a second objective. After almost 8 hours into the game, with my troops standing unopposed across the map and anything remotely related to the enemy having been destroyed, the objective still said “Find King Alfonso” (I found him about 30 minutes into the game).
You could improve this by changing the objective after Player 1 finds the King.
NOTES to the PLAYER:
When you play this scenario, play it via Single Player, Standard Game, Scenario, and set the Resources to Standard. If you start with any other setting of Resources, you will have some resources to start out with, defeating the intent of the designer, who intended the player to start with zero resources. Set Reveal Map to Normal to create the unexplored territory and leave the Pop Cap at 75, the game design will override this and give you a Pop Cap of 200 as soon as you start playing. Forgive me if everyone already knows this, I have played AoK for several years and never discovered this stuff so maybe it will help some other new players.
The following hints are offered not as spoilers for a puzzle but as relief for two items that could have stopped me from finishing the game, and might stop other players:
When you get your party to the Castle, you will have villes to chop wood with. But you won’t have a Town Center to put the wood in. You won’t have a Lumber Camp to put the wood in. And you can’t build a Town Center or a Lumber Camp because you don’t have any wood. But you can’t get any wood because you… etc. You can heal your troops in the ally Castle and you can garrison villes in the ally TC but if you chop wood and right click to unload it in the TC, you won’t get a green targeting reticule. So take your ville with his wood, garrison him inside the ally TC, then ungarrison him, and he will emerge with empty arms and your wood account will be credited with the wood. Keep doing this until you have enough wood to build your own TC and Lumber Camp. If every player in the world except me knows this, Moderator please remove this hint so I don’t annoy anybody with it. Thanks.
When you have wiped out every trace of the enemy except the magic respawning troops, there are several ways to shut them down. Ways I have used in the past: Build a wall around them and then build a tower outside the walls. Build a building on top of the spawning spot. What I did this time: wipe the area clean with a platoon of cav or something, then wait for the first respawning so you can see the exact spot. Then task a squad (4 to 8)of rams to attack the troop. When the rams kill him off, nudge one of them a little bit over the spawning spot to stop any more troops from appearing. Again, if this is considered a spoiler, Mods feel free to remove it. Thanks.
After each mass attack by the enemy, use your villes to repair the ally walls, towers, and siege weps. Send your scout to inspect the perimeter for damage. The ally won’t do this for himself.
NOTES to DESIGNER:
Thanks for submitting this scenario. I can see you put a lot of work into the map design and triggers. I think it would be even better with a few of the improvements I mentioned above. Good Luck! And, I am a beginning reviewer, still learning. If you have any comments on my review I would be glad to hear them, or you could ask the Review Moderators if my review is done correctly. Thanks!
[Edited on 09/04/05 @ 02:08 PM]