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Downloads Home » Single Player Scenarios » HSC - Dark Clouds Above England

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HSC - Dark Clouds Above England

Author File Description
File Details
Version: The Conquerors 1.0c
Style: Fixed Force
Dark Clouds Above England
The Battle of Lincoln, 1141 AD

King Henry I of England has not been in his grave a year when the barons betray their sacred oath to him. In defiance of his wishes, they offer the throne to his son, the weak Stephen of Blois, instead of his daughter, the Empress Matilda. Livid, Matilda and her husband have been waging war across Normandy to reclaim her rightful inheritance. Until recently though, she had not dared cross the Channel. That was until Stephen's poor rule gave her the opportunity she had been seeking.

Now England is being torn apart by a brutal civil war - The Anarchy. The barons change allegiance whenever they are promised more land or another title, and oppress the people. It is so terrible that the people are muttering that it is devils not men that reside in the many castles that scar the landscape.

Events have come to a head near Lincoln. It has been a mild winter, and most trees are already bearing fresh leaves, but it is a cold February day as Matilda's army approaches the city walls. Waiting for them is the larger force led by King Stephen himself, silhouetted by the dark shape of Lincoln Castle. For the first and only time in the nineteen grim years of The Anarchy are the two claimants to the throne to clash in a decisive battle.

1. Historically accurate
2. Over 200 triggers
3. Cutscene before and after the battle
4. Morale system
5. Difficulty dynamics
AuthorReviews   ( All | Comments Only | Reviews Only )
Official Reviewer
Map Design5.0
'Dark Clouds Above England' is the author's submission to the Historical Scenario Contest (HSC), which is currently being hosted in the forums. With the theme of the competition set around 'a Medieval Woman', and a number of contestants signed up, community watchers can expect a deadline around mid-November this year. The subsequent file entails Empress Matilda's story, and features fixed-force game play, depicting the Battle of Lincoln in 1141 AD. The battle was fought and won during a brutal period regarded as the Anarchy that lasted 19 long years, when England was once more torn in half by two claimants to the throne.

This is a blemished chapter of England's history, noted by the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as a "time when Christ and all his saints slept."

PLAYABILITY: Essentially, this is a scenario submitted for a contest, where story and events are portrayed strongly through a single-scenario design. It is important to cement reasons for the conflict being described as well as a strong middle and conclusion. In saying that, 'Dark Clouds Above England' does this very well, and given the obscurity of detail surrounding the event it has been covered admirably. The story brings to life a much unheard part of English history, at least compared to other notable accounts, and centres itself upon a single scene - the city of Lincoln. In the whole nineteen years of civil war in England, this is the conflict's only decisive battle, with events building up to this single moment in history resoundingly insignificant and unnecessarily bloody. Although I probably found myself enjoying this more on my second and third try, the scenario is in itself entertaining and well-designed. There were more than a few particular instances during my play that captured my attention, like riding down civilians and massacring them as I go, or the many opportunities for different strategy during the main battle itself. However, with the story down and over in less than twenty minutes, I would have appreciated this scenario more had it been longer. I encountered only a single bug, where trigger timing was a little askew, and the units toward the end of the cut-scene where Matilda was defeated fell down dead before the viewer's eyes just a moment too late. 4.0

BALANCE: This was a little too tricky in places for my liking, where tough micromanagement was required more so than necessary, and a few reloads besides. The battle fought while I attempted to cross the ford was cumbersome, and many times I cursed as I lost a few men too many before I could meet the objectives. However, it wasn't impossible, and I soon discovered a strategy that worked for me besides the ones mentioned in hints. The main battle afterwards was fairly challenging, and required more than just the usual charge and hack and slash. I made my stand on a grassy hillock, and after routing King Stephen's left flank consisting of mercenaries, soon drew in parts of the main force. Here is where things became just a little too awkward, and after killing at least 20% of the main force, King Stephen's remaining men and disloyal barons gave up arms and retreated from the field without ever so much as entering the battle. Although this made my life a whole lot easier, I feel the conditions for this were a little too gentle, and could be extended to include just a few dozen more deaths before the enemy retreats. 4.0

CREATIVITY: There are plenty of creative instances here that in all deserve a high, above average rating. The opening and concluding cut-scenes each distinctively brought the story forward, and featured a few nice touches, including sound effects. The author even managed to include a few music tracks here that, while a little overdone as I have heard them so many times before, cannot be penalised over taste. To pick out one thing here which I feel is of considerable merit, was some of the creative objectives, such as killing King Stephen's dismounted knights to a man before the king himself could be captured. Other than this, there was plenty of unit renaming and some excellent map design features, such as those found within the city of Lincoln. 4.0+

MAP DESIGN: While not much is seen, respectively, what is can only be described as being of a very high standard. The author has long since developed a style of his own, and I enjoyed the look of a city and its surrounding fields, where it was obvious attention had been applied in pleasing detail. The city itself, surrounded by high walls and centred by a castle, resonates with realism. There are many places evident of commerce and the daily bustle of peasant life, with structured streets, chapels, inns and workshops. All this blends rather well with the outside landscape, where terrain mixing and the individual placement of trees and other Gaia meld together nicely. 5.0

STORY/ INSTRUCTIONS: Taking into account just how obscure this historical event is, what the author has achieved here is commendable. There were many details and facts included into the scenario to progress the general flow of the story, while the story itself was very well-told. There were plenty of adequate instructions and objectives, and together with a scouts section that features army dispositions, location descriptions and strategies for the main battle, there is little more one could have asked for. In addition, there were only a few spelling mistakes that I encountered, such as, "is she ever wished" and "ARBISHOP THURSTAN..." 5.0

CONCLUDING: Being historical and based primarily on fixed-force game play, this scenario is not necessarily for everyone, but it is very well designed and researched. I bid the author good luck for when the contest deadline draws to a close.

In a sentence - Short, but edifying.

In closing - A highly-recommended download for history enthusiasts and/or fans of FF-based scenarios.

[Edited on 09/29/16 @ 04:41 AM]

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Map Design5.0
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Size:3.10 MB