Halfdan and the inheritance of the Ynglings
"My history tells of a time when the Gods intervened less and less in the fate of humans. In those days a people lived far to the north. They nourished themselves from hunting, agriculture and trade. I will tell you of the Vikings, who built ships lightning fast, and could fight like furious bears or hungry wolves. Their country was split into many small kingdoms, which were governed by descendants of many clans. Rumour had it that some of them descended in a direct line from the Gods.
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One of them was the clan of the Ynglings, of which some said, Odin, most powerful of all Gods, was the father. He lay with a mortal woman once and she bore him a son. And Odin took care of his child and gave him an amulet, called "Odin’s magic sword". This amulet passed from father to son and it protected the body, soul, health and the house of whoever carried it.
The day came when Gudröd "Hunting King", the 24th descendant of his clan, took over the legacy of the Ynglings and thus also received the amulet. He demanded Harald "Handsome Lip" give his daughter Asa to him to be his wife but Harald refused. Enraged by this disgrace Gudröd gathered his army together and went to Agdir in order to get Asa by force and take her to Vestfold. . ."
IMPORTANT NOTE: this campaign was designed by Günter Zengerle who submitted it to the German website AgeArena in 2005. All I've done is translate the on-screen text (the German voiceovers remain) so any textual errors, omissions or incomprehensible instructions are due solely to me. You can post a comment here or at AgeArena - if you know German so much the better, otherwise post in English (you'll have to register first).
I played Halfdan and thought it was a superb campaign - excellent and varied gameplay, full of creativity, a map design as good as any I've seen, and a decent story to boot. I think it deserves to be opened up to a bigger audience and I'm sure once you've played it you'll agree.
I'd like to thank Günter for his willingness to let me loose on his masterful design, various online translaters and dictionaries, my rusty school-level German, my mother with her rather-better German, DiGiT's Trigger Studio for helping solve a couple of problems, and, last but not least, Ingo for cracking the most obstinate nuts at the end.
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I rarely give 5.0 ratings. This is one of the few, and it truly deserves it. According to me, this is one of the best campaigns ever made. What you think, that's up to you to decide. But I promise you, the time you take to download this will be worth it.
When the winner text came, my timer had reached 9h 20 minutes. 9 and a half hours of pure enjoyment, now that's what I call quality!
With thrilling story, superb design and deep charactors, the author got me bound to the scenario. I couldn't stop playing. Yet it took me a long time to complete it, and I'm happy for it.
As playability is rated for the enjoyment of the scenario, do I need to say anything more? This is one of the best scenarios ever if you ask me.
The scenario was difficult, even on standard, which I played on. I dont know about the other difficulties, but if Standard is this hard and the ai works better on the higher levels, I assume it's even more challenging.
The scenario was very hard, thats true, but it was never frustrating. Every problem could be solved, you just need to think a little. The escape in the beginning was hard if you didnt do right. All wars and fights were hard, but all of them could be won without needing to restart 10 923 817 times.
The standard level suited me perfectly and I assume the higher levels would work good for more intense and better players than me.
There are a few places where one can think it there could be a few more enemies or so, but thats like once or twice, in the details. So to me, the balance of this scenario is as close to perfect as it can be.
A full score here too. Every chapter was filled with intrigues, turning points, new aspects, beautiful nature, music and sound effects, charactor speech and so on. This scenario is a superb example on how a creative scenario can look like.
To mention a few things, the first thing you do is to hide in a ram while it goes off. All enemies have automatic creation for soldiers, all enemies also have different tech-values, like some having stronger archers, another have stronger longboats and so on. then there's speech to all dialogue, music and sound effects. The terrain is superb with eye-candy and mixed terrain, changing lands, enemy camps well placed out, smart problem solving and much more.
Then for the prologue, while the battles rages, there are many triggers setting off to make the soldiers do stuff and make it much funnier to watch. The view changes from time to time and its a great cut-scene, even if it wouldn't stand very well alone.
MAP DESIGN: 5
As mentioned before, the terrain mixing and eye-candy placing was terrific. The forests where walkable, although some where tougher and some even not reachable. There where both mountains and cliffs to make it more realistic, gold- and stonemines spread out, forage bushes as well, and so on. All to make it as realistic as possible. Loads of elevations to make the hills and everything else better looking and realistic, mixed snow which is, to me, the hardest terrain to mix. Broken bridges that repaired when you had finished the objectives for the area.
All superb, by far much better than a random map and much better than most other scenarios. Absolutely worth a 5.
STORY & INSTRUCTIONS: 5
The story was a superb one. Any scenario that has a story should be given a 4 here, and if its a great scenario it should get a 5. This story was great, I declared it before. Lots of turning points, twists, deep charactors, a great translation (it really seemed possible that it was made in english from the very beginning) and etc. The hints for the different chapters were very usefull and they where needed. The scenario even had a good bitmap to spice everyhting up even more.
The one thing that would lower the score was Ragnhild. Here presense was short and after you had "won" her, she never did anything again. She was a shallow charactor. Although it doesn't matter much to the story and enjoyment, it's still a fact, though I doubt it can be made much better than it already is.
So a 5, summing it up to a 5.0
I'm impressed by Germans. Just as in the old days, they come up with quality stuff. Ingo with his superb scenarios, Great Emperor with his few but ingenious projects, and now this - one of the best campaigns ever made according to me. It absolutely deserves a 5.0
And thousands of thanks to Stephen Richards for translating this into English so that I can play it, and everyone else too for the matter!
This game was the pinnacle of what I believe a good scenario for any RTS game should be. There was diversity in the amount of units you were given at different times, in the feel of scenario you were playing, going from adventure to RTS to quest. I never got bored and couldn't stop till I was done.
During the first chapter the enemies seemed to have the upper hand on Halfdan's sparse and slow recruiting forces, but after that the game seemed to be a lot better.
The whole game was a farcry from any other unofficial scenario in that it was so original. I couldn't have imagined finding something this great when I started looking for a new AoE campaign to play.
Map Design: 5
Again, so original, and well designed. I don't think I could find another map that would top this.
Perfectly done. Every part of the game had a hint or instruction that would help you through if you were stuck. I used the scout section many times.
Great campaign, a must-play for anyone who likes AoE and I can't wait to find out if there is and where I can get the second installment.
‘Halfdan and the Inheritance of the Ynglings’ contains two-scenarios, the first two of a so far unfinished campaign, featuring a cut-scene and a playable scenario containing a mix of both B&D and FF elements. The story first tells of an assault in the year circa 800 AD in Norway carried out by Gudröd “Hunting King”, and the sacking of Agdir castle. The lord of the residence, Harald “Handsome Lip” is slain in a duel and his wife, Asa taken prisoner. Several years later Asa bears Gudröd a child and he is named Halfdan. However such is the hate that Asa bears with her that so too does Halfdan get entangled with it. When Halfdan is a year old Asa kills Gudröd and she escapes with Halfdan back to Agdir where she hopes for peace. However, she did not count on Gudröd’s other son, Olaf, from a previous marriage, who had come and took her and Halfdan. It is here – twenty years later – where you will witness an intriguing yet ferocious telling of murder and conspiracy, vengeance and Viking ferocity. Bear witness to the journey to find the lost halves of a powerful amulet known only as “Odin’s Magic Sword”, which protected the body, health and soul, and the mysterious disappearance of a lost mother and the son who strives to find her. Witness an epic tale, forged with the conquering sword and spear. Witness one man’s wrath. Witness Halfdan and the Inheritance of the Ynglings.
Not since playing ‘Gyda’s Challenge’ and ‘Pendragon Saga’ have I come across such an atmospheric and enjoyable campaign dealing with the Vikings. ‘Halfdan and the Inheritance of the Ynglings’ has everything you need for an epic, with crisp, enjoyable gameplay – providing countless hours of entertainment – a great story, a rich map design, and brilliant sounds and music. I was not bored once, and almost every moment of play was tense with defending and or attacking. I had to really use my head to win battles, take settlements and to hold various places of strategic interest, such as docks. Together with this was a powerful AI – providing me with fun and challenge – and tough, intelligent enemy players. The cut-scene – or more precisely as scenario one – was extremely well made, feeling real with a great story and great scenes. It really set the stage, and gave me a first-off good impression of what I was about to get myself into. The epic music, voice-overs, and a climactic battle gave me a sense of a real Viking tale worthy of following and the characters that seem all too real. Scenario two leaves the epic tale open for a sequel, after nine-and-a-half hours (on fast speed) of true gaming experience. I enjoyed liberating towns and villages, farms and ports, trade posts and conquering entire cities before putting to death or capturing their kings. The twists and turns of finding the two halves of an amulet, a mother’s unknown whereabouts, kept gameplay all the more interesting, wanting to continue to find out more. I encountered a few minor trigger bugs, however, but nothing effecting playability as to cause a deduction. The first bug happened on my second play – at the very beginning – a purple cavalry archer had stopped at the shallows, where later the rocks were created to block. Because the cavalry archer was in the way one of the rocks could not be created and so a gap to the northern part of the map had revealed, and I could march my men through freely when the time came. The second bug was that that I took a villager to mine some gold into the west of the map and a message came up saying something like, “You have too many men! King Sigurd is growing distrustful!” – and even when that scene had not yet been activated. The third bug was that after taking control of Vestfold, one of the enemy stables had been untouched. This in turn allowed the red player to create a good thirty knights, all of which could do nothing, and who were spawning on top of one another and the stables itself, being no room. Apart from those minor things everything seemed to play fine. My only real problem during play was probably that I did not like the spawning resources within the cliffs – better to have a limited amount only. Still I honestly cannot wait to find out if the author has made the sequel. I have not played such a great game in a long time.
The balance of this campaign was almost perfect. On standard the campaign was a relatively ‘easy’ ride with less difficult opponents, enemies who are easier to overcome, and terrain such as hill advantages etc not needed as much to my forces’ advantage. On moderate I was met with tough, enemy forces, attacking me or defending from my onslaught. I simply could not just charge forward to win a battle, needing to really use hit and run tactics no matter the strength of my force, and use towers, walls and longboats from the coast to my support in order to win a battle. This made the campaign in itself very strategic-based, and forces the player to think. On hard, however, things did not seem to live up to expectation. The beginning was great, what I would come expect, with massive armies attacking me almost right away, and was really challenging and fun. However, the enemy AI from here on did not seem as mobile, with many immobile units at castles and stables even when I was attacking their base. This was not the case in moderate when I was attacked repeatedly. I also found that enemy units were not as strong as they were before on moderate with units being 1 Ap instead of 3 Ap. This in turn makes for a rather disappointing ride for hard, with only moderate left to really provide a challenge.
The creativity of this scenario was exemplary. The music, sounds and voiceovers helped to create a sweeping feel and mood for the scenario, bringing the characters and story to life. The map design was creative with beautiful scenes of mountains and rolling hills, together with water falls, walled off bridges, castles surrounded by mountains and the use of ice betas to realistically convey the cold. I broke out of a prison, by sneaking into a damaged battering ram being taken down to the blacksmith, to jump out at the last second and slay the guards, before teaming up with a friend and embarking on a quest. Countryside volunteers joined my company, and I liberated townships, farms and ports from their oppressors, and even pushed some rocks off a cliffside to collapse a bridge of ice blocking the ocean below. Inventive things like a renamed tree being cut down by a berserk, a travelling salesman who asks for a tribute of gold in return for some information, and bridges, which were earlier broken, repaired so that another part of the map may be explored – are just some of the many that you will find. In addition renamed units appearing from thin air, settlements that can be reached only by boat and deer that cannot be killed.
MAP DESIGN: (5.0) +
The map design is well above average, and deserves its high rating. The map design, simply put, is awesome – one of the best winter schemes that I have ever witnessed. Wherever I went, wherever I looked, there was always something to look at, something to really study for minutes at a time, never feeling bored. The terrain mixing, the use of trees and Gaia was perfect – complimentary – never too over done or lacking. Mountain ranges were breath taking, truly fierce in the winter, colossal in size, and elevation was used to momentous effect. Villages, towns and castles were all so very well designed that they not only looked nice, but were also very tough to beat. In particular the rivers and waterfalls – which snaked and turned everywhere – were eye opening and masterly designed in a landscape that was cold and dark and at times mysterious.
STORY/ INSTRUCTIONS: (5.0) -
The campaign is introduced with two beautifully designed bitmaps, one for each scenario, and really opens the eyes. They give a first off good impression, and compliment the atmosphere well. The History and Instructions screens were well written and applied, and hints plentiful. The dialogue was especially intriguing, and though spoken with sound files in German, very entertaining. The story develops well and is rich with character and plot, but is unfinished with a second half of an amulet to be found, and the mother still missing.
CONCLUDING: ‘Halfdan and the Inheritance of the Ynglings’ is a superb scenario. Offering literally countless hours of addictive gameplay, sheer enjoyment and a great story this campaign will not disappoint. The characterisation is on the spot, the voice acting entertaining – even if in German – and the atmosphere cold and dark and over a beautiful ‘winteresque’ map design. Above other things the creativity is a treat, and the challenge provided quite fulfilling. I heartily recommend this campaign to all.
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: A big thank you to Stephen Richards for the translation and for revealing this campaign to the Blacksmith!
SUGGESTIONS: The three minor bugs are simple to fix. With bug one kill, task or remove any enemy units from the area before the rocks are created at the shallows. Bug two, make sure the message regarding ‘too many men’ activates only when the time is right, because there is every bit of chance that the player will have taken some villagers in to mine some gold or the likes. Bug three, if possible deactivate red’s capacity to build more troops after being captured through the AI, or if not possible, just change the ownership of all red player military buildings to player 1 and extend the sight so that all red player military units become player 1’s as well.
In a word – Epical.
In closing – A must download.
[Edited on 10/08/11 @ 11:57 PM]
Halfdan and the inheritance of the Ynglings is a fictional saga about a Viking, Halfdan. It is a B&D style campaign, with some other elements mixed in. The dramatic campaign begins with a prologue detailing the sacking of Agdir Castle and Gudrod's capture of Asa. The cut-scene, paves the way for the premise of the story, the loss of "Odin's Magic Sword" an ancient and mystical amulet of the Yngling's. But the second scenario proves to have much more layers. The story picks up with Halfdan, imprisoned by his half-brother, and he must escape, restore his family to their rightful place, and find his mother! We now join Halfdan on an epic journey to find his mother and the locket, which will capture your imagination!
There was little stopping me from giving this campaign a five, and yet I can’t, but the negatives come last, it is the overwhelming positives that we must take into account here. The story begins with a brilliantly designed escape scene that sets the tone and quality for the rest of the game, the music is tense and leaves an overwhelming sense of foreboding constantly, the player never feels safe. A fantastic atmosphere is created.
Each section of the scenario offers new challenges and they steadily get harder and this is what makes the campaign so enjoyable, things are rarely straight forward, each new objective presents a new challenge and each have different ways that they can be solved.
This keeps the scenario fresh and interesting, and outright enjoyable. There was one flaw that plagued me, and arguably it isn’t one the hurts the scenario outright, but I rarely felt like there was a threat in the second half of the campaign, this was a stark contrast to the opening section, a bit of the tension was lost. It wasn’t enough to ruin the overall enjoyment of the campaign, but the second half of the campaign certainly seemed to be less enjoyable than the first.
This is arguably the campaign’s strongest point, it is always challenging, but never impossible. Each section poses a new challenge, and sometimes causes you to rethink your entire strategy. The B & D style limits you to a few select units and if you lose certain buildings, you may as well restart. [Though as the designer indicates, there are many different strategies] I would be surprised if you managed to pass any section the first time around without major losses, and that is where the balance really stands out. Each skirmish requires a major amount of micro-management and your enemies will defend fiercely. The author offers limited supplies of the more important resources, which also affects the balance and playability forcing the player to really think about his strategies
I doubt I could offer enough praise here, everything from the music to the voiceovers create a wonderful atmosphere and carry the epic story. There is also wonderful creative trigger work, an escape scene and many other clever moments, which keep the player interested and stop the game from becoming monotonous. The map design also keeps the entire game extremely fresh.
Map Design: 5
The map design is stunning, seemingly blending different styles into one large map, there are a few eye catching moments but the author retains a constraint to make the map seem real, everything from the design of the enemy camps [which also present a tactical challenge] to the rivers and the mountains have a real world feel to them, this is despite the imagined locations.
The story is fantastic, well presented with many levels covered, the author keeps true to a real Viking style with many interesting twists and with a cliff hanger ending it leaves you hungry for more. The instructions are clear and concise, presenting each objective clearly leaving little doubt for the player. The hints and spoilers are also very concise, they don’t offer and definite way to win each section but offer helpful tactical reminders, that one can forget.
The games greatest strength is the balance, mainly because it draws from so many of the other areas, including the map design, and the creativity sections. A must download for all!
[Edited on 08/08/07 @ 01:35 PM]
I really enjoyed playing Halfdan. It is a well thought out and well design scenario with many creative aspects and a beautiful map design. I couldn’t get off this scenario until it was completed. It is highly enjoyable. aMa has created another great piece of work and Steven Richards has done a great job translating this.
The Balance was great. I took a few restarts and constant saving but it didn’t bother me due to the high playability of the scenario. The scenario is very, very hard but it is not impossible.
Halfdan is a very original campaign. I loved every part of it. The Cut-Scene Prologue has many great tricks in it and the Playable Scenario is even better, uses a lot more tricks and a lot of unique ideas.
Map Design: 5
The Map is very pretty. It has a very nice use of cliffs and elevation, there is also some great terrain mixing. The different types of grass and dirt look awesome. The uses of GAIA Objects were nice and they made the map look a lot more detailed.
Halfdan has a very interesting and enjoyable story which makes the scenario a lot better. The instructions are clear and easy to understand. I knew what to do at all points. The detailed hints page helped me get me through the scenario too. Without a decent story or instructions the scenario will lose interest and become plain and boring.