Ambassadors in the land of Blood
This is a Giant map adventure where you must band together to stop Dracula.
||Age of Kings
||Role Playing Strategy
|Number of players:
||4 or 6
I am new to AOE AOK my friends got me in and had never tried a custom scenario.
I would like feed back from play testers and advice from experienced builders.
|Author||Reviews ( All | Comments Only | Reviews Only )|
This scenario was gruesome. Broken triggers cause the game to crash. we actually had to edit the trigger to be able to play for more than twenty minutes. The triggers that actually work make the game absolute torture to play by killing your villagers, spawning extremely powerful enemy units, and doing other highly annoying things. Aside from that, it was also absolutely brutal to play and extremely unenjoyable. In addition to the excruciating triggers, there's also a nastily tedious maze-like route and loads of towers that are incredibly difficult to knock down, especially when trebuchets and bombard cannons are disabled.
The balance is shot. Honestly the fact that the game crashes at 20 minutes makes the balance a totally moot point, but even if it didn't crash, it's plagued with a variety of issues. Players 1-4 all start with different heroes. Player 4's hero, William Wallace, is hugely superior to the other four players in terms of HP and attack power. Players 1 and 3 start with twice as much stone than the other two players, who have twice as much wood. It's not really a fair trade off. Stone is far more rare and useful. Players 1, 2, and 4 are supposed to be Byzantines which fare horribly at this scenario due to their lack of offensive benefits against an enemy that's protected by loads of towers. Player 3 is designated as Japanese, which gives them numerous benefits including a much more useful unique unit for the challenge. As for starting position: Player 1 is closest to the enemy base giving them a slight tactical advantage. Players 3 and 4 are closest to a massive gold and stone mine, giving them a major resource advantage. All-in-all, player 3 has the most advantages. Player 2 fares worst as they have less stone than players 1 and 3, a worse starting position, and a hero that's not nearly as good as player 4's. I also feel it important to deduct points from the fact that the scenario's team settings don't have "allied victory" set and so the only way any of the players can win is to have their allies resign. How is this a balance issue? Because it's a cooperative mission and all four players should have equal chance of succeeding, but in the end, three of them have to sacrifice themselves just to give victory to the other player, meaning no matter how good their chances are of success it'll eventually just come down to some arbitrary means of pointless surrender.
The idea of a game where you fight Dracula and his minion, Renfield, straight out of Bram Stoker's famous story is somewhat interesting. More so is the concept of your villagers being taken by Dracula as sacrificial lambs. In practice these ideas didn't turn out so well. This may also be a highly creative form of torture. As creative as it was, I refuse to give this game any kind of score better than 1 in any category. It doesn't deserve it.
Map Design: 1
The map looks nice at first, but there are areas where strangely-placed objects make the place look really unusual. The worst part is that there's only one real path to Dracula and it's a pointless winding maze that takes forever to get through. This has to be the most annoying-to-navigate scenarios I've ever played.
The story is played out with little to no explanation. The instructions are just a summary of the story and are not helpful for gameplay.
How do I summarize this as quickly as possible? Frankly, the sooner I get this over with, the better it is for my mental health.
Well, basic premise: You have to defeat Dracula. Each player is given a town like a normal game, plus a hero. Every twenty minutes a script activates that makes all your units take damage. That would be unbelievably annoying, except that that script causes the game to crash and my friend and I removed the script just to make it playable. I wish we hadn't.
Occasionally, for some reason a trigger spawns a new villager for the human players right in the middle of Dracula's base. We played on Standard difficulty which meant the computer players did not attack our villagers. However, Renfield (whose part is played by Furious the Monkey Boy) is highly aggressive and slaughters us. We managed to build a wall between us and Renfield, then wondered what we were supposed to even be doing up there.
Every half hour, the game converts all villagers belonging to every human player to a special team called "Sacrifical lambs" which are then promptly escorted out of your town and killed by enemy towers. So, yes, every thirty minutes you have to rebuild your entire economy. Also, those villagers that we got way up in Dracula's base were converted too, leaving us to wonder what on Earth the point was to them in the first place.
The gold and stone in this map are hidden, meaning you have to explore, explore, and explore to finally find some. Considering the game's twisting paths, this is very irritating.
Dracula is protected by literally hundreds of guard towers and keeps, but the scenario has been edited to prevent you from building trebuchets or bombard cannons. Do you have any idea how awful an idea this is? Any inkling at all? That means the only way to take down the buildings is either A: With rams, B: With infantry (which will sustain heavy losses every step they take).
The scenario is designed with mostly Byzantines in mind, who have no tactical advantages over these towers. My friend and I went against this and played as Turks and Chinese just because it would be too frustrating otherwise. I picked Turks because of their advantages with bombard cannons, not realizing they would be disabled. I should have gone with Goths.
So anyway we send in a massive army of rams filled with elite eagle warriors for speed, and a massive army of Chu Ko Nu and find that the path to Dracula is a pointless maze that requires hours of wandering back and forth, getting killed by towers, and having to send more and more reinforcements along the way.
Finally, we get to Dracula, who was a pushover. The towers surrounding him, however took a very long time and you have no idea how awful it is having to send reinforcements all the way through that long stupid maze again. You know that we played with a population limit of 200? If we had set it to 75 this would have been impossible.
For some reason, a trigger had been spawning rabid wolves constantly and this caused the game to lag like you wouldn't believe.
I realized as we were fighting our way through his base, that we weren't done yet since there was a long pathway leading out of his base to a gate and an unexplored part of the map. Still, we had to fight our way through the towers to get there. When we destroyed the wonder that was placed in his base, the game taunted us at being easily fooled by an obvious decoy. I knew it wasn't the base, but we had to destroy it anyway. Also, his base kept spawning Wild Women nonstop and my friend ended up building a wall on the spawn point just to stop that from happening. No dice with that wolf spawn point though, because there's a damn script that damages and eventually kills units just for passing into that square. Enjoy your lag, suckers.
That "decoy castle" wasn't the only one. In fact, we destroyed four other monuments which were all guarded by unbelievably exasperating enemies. Some enemies were so powerful just about a dozen of them or so slaughtered our 300+ unit armies and destroyed numerous castles we tried to build just to fight them off.
Finally, we destroyed all the buildings and found a dead end. We wandered around for a while before we finally found the rest of the base, destroyed it, and found ANOTHER dead end. This time there was seriously nothing left to do. The lag by this point got so unbearable that I had to leave. I was ready to quit but my friend insisted on getting it done with. I should mention that the two of us ended up throwing some insulting remarks at each other over this stupid thing. It was so bad, it actually drove us apart.
Eventually, somehow we defeated the red opponent (which is supposed to be Dracula) and an out-of-control script continually spawned extremely powerful units nonstop. I spent a good half-hour to hour just trying to find out where they were all spawning from and trying to block them off, as they were destroying all our buildings. We also managed to put an end to the lag by staking out the wolf area and setting up Chu Ko Nu and Janissaries just outside of the spawn area and showering them with projectiles as they spawned. But we couldn't figure out how to end the stupid mission.
Finally, the purple opponent (Dracula's minions) just resigned. But the scenario still didn't end. Allied victory had not been turned on.
My friend resigned just to give me the victory. A victory that was so unworth it.
Wherever the author of this scenario is out there, I believe I speak for all of humanity when I ask, "What have we done that made you hate us so much?"
There's actually a trigger that activates after 36000 seconds have passed. That's ten hours. This person wanted people to play his scenario for more than TEN HOURS. This scenario can ONLY be designed to frustrate people. There's no other explanation. What if we hadn't set the pop limit to 200? What if that script that caused the game to crash worked properly and all our units took damage over time? What if we didn't figure out how to stop those units from spawning by blocking the spawn area with walls? What if we went with Byzantines and didn't have Chu Ko Nu or Janissaries to take down the towers? It would have been even worse and do you have any idea what kind of a thing that is to say? Even the way we played it, it was a disaster.
This scenario ruined my day, wasted countless hours of my life, caused me to fight with my good friend, caused us physical pain (she had to take some Tylenol and lie down afterwards), put us both in a bad mood, and made me never want to play an Age of Empires scenario again.
[Edited on 04/08/10 @ 08:36 PM]
I could make this section a mile long, but instead I'll just note that this is the least fun, most annoying, most frustratingly horrible game I ever played. More on this later, but let's just say it was full of balance issues, extreme repetitiveness, broken triggers, and a giant black hole that sucks in fun.
Technically the balance is off as each player has a different hero and even for no apparent reason different starting stats. One player might get a really weak hero while for no reason another one gets William Wallace who has higher HP, damage, and armor. Also, various techs are disabled (bombard cannon, bombard tower, chemistry, some unique techs). This means that civs who emphasize those or heavily rely on their unique techs will be weak and underpowered. I say this because the game "recommends" you use Byzantines for players 1, 2, and 4. For no reason it recommends that player 3 be Japanese, who have a MASSIVE advantage in this scenario. Byzantines is an utter waste because they're defense-oriented. What you really need is a civ that's good at knocking down buildings and taking arrows. Persians, Goths, Huns, or Celts would've been great for this. So would Turks and a few others, except for the randomly disabled techs. So if you play by "the rules," player 3 is incredibly superior to everyone. If you pick your own civ, only a few of them will work.
This may have been creative in theory (but not in practice), but there's no way I'm giving this scenario anything higher than all ones after what it did to me! But seriously, the only creative part of this is that it adds tons of triggers that make the game really frustrating by taking away all your villagers or destroying all your buildings at different intervals.
Map Design: 1
Although some of the design and eye candy was nice, this is the most painfully designed map with the most infuriating twisting pathways I've ever seen in any scenario. All the resources are dumped in enormous piles and the path up to Dracula's area takes a good 10 minutes just to walk up. We ended up having to build about four forward bases just to tolerate getting up it. It's simultaneously lazy and pointlessly complex and mazelike.
There's very little in the way of instructions and it's really not clear what you're supposed to do or what the point of anything is. Sometimes things just happen through scripts that gives no explanation and you're left scratching your head. The notes do give some details about things that might happen, but they're as vague as this sentence.
This game isn't playable at all as there's a trigger cluster at the 20 minute mark that causes the game to crash. Unfortunately for me, I edited this so it was playable.
First off, I'd love to rate this something below a one. I'd like to rate this a negative 999,999,999,999,999,999,999,999,999,999,999 because that's the highest number I know the name of and could theoretically count to. Spending the numerous lifetimes it would take to actually do that would probably be a better investment than playing this game again. The sad fact is that of all the scenarios I've played that have been broken, annoying, frustrating, or stupid, this takes the cake on every single front and still managed to waste a lot of my time while causing me (literally) physical pain.
My friend and I had to run this three times. The first two times the game crashed at exactly the 20:00 mark. He was prepared to give up (advice I should've taken) but I managed to look through the scripts to find whatever was triggering at 20:00. It was some script that dealt damage to buildings (100), military (5), and civilians (1) every 20 minutes. I disabled this just so we could get the scenario to work. It didn't seem like that big of a deal since it would take three hours to destroy even a house. While looking through I found a script set to trigger every 36,000 seconds. Yes, ten hours. I should've taken this as an omen. In total we spent just shy of 9:30:00 game time (in fast mode) playing this scenario. NINE AND A HALF HOURS. I admit I'm not sure how much faster fast mode is than regular, but even if it's double speed that's over four hours just playing this stupid thing.
Once we got the game working we were going to start with the "recommended" Byzantines. But as Byzantines are more defense oriented we decided to go with powerful imperial age civs and picked Turks and Chinese. Unfortunately we didn't find out until later that a bunch of techs were disabled, meaning my friend couldn't have bombard cannons/towers, and I couldn't get rocketry or chemistry. You could argue that we did wrong by picking a different civ, but let me guarantee you that all the sweat, blood, and tears we shed in this scenario would've been even more severe had we actually played as Byzantines. Yes, all the stuff we did would've been even worse had we actually done what the maker wanted.
Once we got into it, we found that the disabled "damage every 20 minutes" script was the least of our worries. Every 30 minutes or so, all of our villagers would be converted, meaning we had to spend several minutes cranking out new villagers to replace all the farmers, wood choppers, gold miners, and stone miners. We reached a sort of compromise by walling in all of our villagers and camping monks nearby so we could just grab the villagers back, but even this became tedious and annoying. Plus, once I had castles up they would kill off a lot of villagers anyway.
Finding resources wasn't a problem. The map designer made absolutely monstrous deposits of food, wood, gold, and stone. Part of the issue is that because this is a build and destroy scenario, the build part is trivialized by giving you access to a screenwide mountain of gold or stone, or filling every tile of a giant lake with 8 layers of fish. Plus all these things were needlessly spread out (making it all the more annoying when all your villagers are converted). Why not just save time and give every player 500,000 of every resource?
Actually fighting Dracula's army and the extra enemies became a massive chore. Since all the good siege units were disabled, and our unique units were weaker than we anticipated, it became a pain to advance through the map. We had to fight hundreds, and I mean hundreds of towers. There were walls, gates, towers, and castles everywhere. To give you an idea of how ludicrous this scenario is on defenses, one wall alone is 8-tiles thick and has 105 towers. THIS IS JUST ONE WALL. The climb up the mountain has 13 towers at the base, with a further 39 to come up the mountain, and 103 waiting at the top protecting Dracula. Yes, I went back and counted just to give you an idea of how insane this is. And this is just one area of the map. Just one mountain. Jump to another section of the map and it's a castle protected by 40 towers. Another section has 4 castles protected by 29 towers. This still isn't even the whole map.
Did I mention we can't have trebuchets or bombard cannons? And unique techs are disabled? And sections of the map (especially the mountain) are so long and winding that it takes several minutes just to get to the top? And it's so long and winding that you have to manually task your units in short bursts or else they get lost? And that we actually had to cut through some sections of forest to reach other areas? I triple-checked. There's no way to get to some of the bases without slicing through large wooded areas. There are even walls, gates, and towers bumping right up against forest, waiting for you to break through.
Did I mention the enemy factions have infinitely respawning units that are set to appear with no delay whatsoever? As soon as an object comes off the tile, more appear. Included respawning units are hunting wolves, scythian wild women, cataphracts, and more. I managed to clog some of the spawn points with units and buildings, but the hunting wolf one is in an area where just approaching them deals about 5 damage per second and kills you before you know it.
There's so much more I could mention. We reached Dracula's castle to be met by a horde of enemies with 3000-9000 HP which the combined might of 5-6 castles, 100+ chu ko nu, and 100+ jannissaries couldn't stop for over an hour. Oh and this was the top of the mountain so we had to build a forward base because otherwise it would take about 10 minutes to send a new group of units up the mountain. And all those powerful units were in our forward base destroying the castles slowly but surely. I could also mention how even after every gang had been defeated/resigned and it was just me and my friend, the scenario still didn't end.
This game dragged on so long that I was just wanting it to end. We had to take a food break halfway through. I was literally screaming when my friend paused the game later on, because I wanted to continue trying to advance and just get it over with. We were so annoyed we were taking it out on eachother and getting impatient and angry. And after all was said and done, I had a severe headache. I don't mean the figurative sort of headache, I mean I just spent 4+ angry hours trying to beat a stupid game and had to take some Tylenol and lay down for about an hour afterward.
When I agreed to review every multiplayer scenario I knew I was in it for the good and the bad. I hope this is the baddest of the bad, because man, I don't think I could handle something worse than this.
[Edited on 04/09/10 @ 04:03 AM]