Posted on 07/22/09 @ 09:53 AM (updated 07/30/09
A Pocket of Gold
||Role Playing Strategy
A well placed dagger at the right time can win a war. This is just such a time.
This is a very short set-piece scenario, where you play as an assassin, inspired by and reminiscent of the opening scene of Cespenar's Heroes of Meadowkeep. You must enter a small countryside town where your target is currently residing. Once there you must look around carefully, talk to the locals, and plan your strike. When you are ready, you must murder your unfortunate victim and escape to collect payment.
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"A Pocket of Gold" is an interesting, well-made scenario about an assassin's attempt to both hit his target and escape alive. You play as Jason, the assassin in question, and are forced to scout the town, talk to its inhabitants, and figure out the best route of escape. There are multiple ways to escape unharmed, although some are easier than others.
Most of the gameplay actually goes on inside the player's head. In order to kill your captor and get out alive, you must look through the town for the best means of escape. The assassination takes about a minute at the most, but unless you've spent a good amount of time exploring the village and checking for open streets and guards, you won't be able to complete your task. Walking around the town looking at everything can be a bit boring, but with interesting townsfolk to talk to and a large market to wander around in, the scenario is great fun.
In the intro to "A Pocket of Gold" the author informs you that "Difficulty dynamics do not feature." This is partially true, as no matter what difficulty level you select, you'll be playing the same game. However, there are many ways to escape the city, and each new way is a little tougher than the last. As you try different exits, it slowly becomes harder to survive. As long as you can click fairly quickly and remember an escape route, the game is completable. Dodging the guards is tricky, but it can be done. The scenario is almost perfectly balanced in difficulty.
The scenario plays out as what could be called a "generic" assassination story: get in, kill the target, escape. The objectives and story behind the scenario are superb (see: Story Instructions) and the game is a lot of fun to play, but there's nothing that differentiates it from other assassination games. There are no mind-boggling tricks, different elements of gameplay, or extraordinary deviations from the norm. The scenario description is short, and you get what you downloaded: a good, straightforward scenario. On the other hand, it's rare to even see an assassination scenario, as very few have been done successfully. The strategic aspect of the scenario was also a main theme, unlike other scenarios where you simply have to click fast to win. And the music and sound effects went far to enhance the scenario's mood.
Map Design: 4
The map design of "A Pocket of Gold" was great. Looking at the crowded marketplace and the broken-down city walls by the old church, it's obvious to see that the author put a lot of time and thought into making an excellent-looking map. The town is a picture-perfect example of a bustling medieval town, and the surrounding countryside is simple, although there are a few clumps of vegetation strewn about that look awkward. I only have one complaint about the map design, in that I accidentally stumbled into the assassination target's area without knowing it. I suddenly found myself being attacked without knowing where I was and whose house I had just passed. A "blockade" preventing the player from accidentally triggering the assassination before they are ready would have been nice. The next time through I knew what I was doing, but it was still a minor annoyance.
The instructions of the scenario were straight-forward, simple, and easy to understand. I knew exactly what I was doing, which is enough to merit a high score by itself. However, what made the scenario truly shine here was the dialouge between the main character and the townspeople. Everyone has something to say, whether it's "Have a nice day," or an important hint to finishing the scenario. It really made the scenario interesting and boosted up the fun quite a bit. The story in the "History" section was the icing on the cake. Definitely a perfect score here.
"A Pocket of Gold" is a classic assassination scenario. It's short, to the point, and a lot of fun. I'd recommend this for download.
It is very fun to play, and it does not get boring until you have played it quite a few times.
Very well balanced - but I do not understand why there are so many players. All you need, as far as I see, are 4 players: 1 human, 1 You, 1 good town, and 1 bad town.
Rather than just running in and killing him, there were people to talk to.
Map Design: 5
The map design was great, but if the player goes west instead of East, then they easily uncover the un-made part of the map, which can detract from the map if they uncover lots of Grass 1, but I didn't see that until I used the Marco Polo cheat, so that didn't decrease the map design in my opinion.
The town was great! The design was very nice, and it helped make it hard to escape. Also, I liked how you made the church walls.
The instructions could have been better - at first I thought I had to escape through the west gates, and I couldn't escape through the south, east, and north gates. But the storyline was excellent.
When I clicked on the people, some of them didn't talk, and then after about 1 more minute, I clicked on them again and they did talk.
A Pocket of Gold was a fun scenario but I found like it was too short and easy. I completed it in less than five minutes.
However the balance was good. As you try different exits, it slowly becomes harder to survive. As long as you can click fairly quickly and remember an escape route, the game is completable. Dodging the guards is tricky, but it can be done
This is just a typical assassination scenario: get in, kill, escape. But I thought the town was very creative with the Overlapped Buildings. I also thought that the well (damaged Stone Wall on top of sea rocks) was very creative. I am thinking of using it in my scenario.
Map Design: 5
The Map Design was very good inside the town. The Overlapped buildings look awesome and they were spaced out evenly. Most of the Objects in the town were renamed and there some nice use of trees and GAIA units.
The Instructions were very clear. I knew what to do at all points and the Storyline was brilliant. The dialog between Jason and the townspeople was great. Everyone said something, from "Have a Nice day", to a useful Hint to finishing the scenario, or just being plain rude.
Edited for typos
[Edited on 02/03/11 @ 02:23 PM]
The scenario itself was very enjoyable. Short and sweet, it provided a substantial amount of entertainment in the amount of time required to complete it. The fact that each of the four gates were viable choices in deciding the escape route enhanced that.
However, I do have a quibble. When running out of the gate, sometimes the assassin has only a minuscule amount of HP left. The guards are kind of faster than the assassin and he's about to die. But the scene goes dark and I win. I can only assume this is because the author declared it so. "Yea, Verily, thou hast won this scenario!"
I must admit, Jason died and I had to reload quite a few times. Which is exactly what is what I wanted. The scenario was not a breeze, but neither did I have anyone to blame but myself when I lost. It was not too hard and losing was but the consequence of my mistakes. The guards that needed to be killed were appropriately and substantially weaker than their fellows. I found very interesting since Jason is an assassin after all. It helped with immersion and balanced the game play finely.
I do have to repeat the point about half a dozen guards following Jason out the gate. There's no way to combat them, understandably so, but still. It's not a perfect 5, so to say.
The scenario is very well thought out. The crucial kills have been made easy and reflect an assassin's ruthless and efficient skills. There isn't anything new in this scenario and there doesn't have to be. It just does everything well.
However, to go through any of the gates that are locked, you simply need to kill the gate guards. I had expected each gate to have different requirements, however, they were mostly all similar. I felt the hints suggested otherwise, however this does not deduct very much from the overall excellence.
Map Design: 5+
The map design is well crafted and everything melds wonderfully. The immersion is fantastic, the sound effects only help, and I found the environment of the town appealing to look at. It's the small details that matter and Julius added them with cleverness and creativity.
The story was engaging from the start and the point of view of a ruthless assassin was refreshing. We're helping the bad guys here and not the good guys. It's good storytelling, and as a person who writes fantasy fiction almost everyday, I can really appreciate it.
Thing is, I want to see more. I am curious as to how the rest of the war goes. I want to see Jason's next mission. I cannot, in good conscience, however, lower the score for this, because it only speaks of how enjoyable the story is. I can only hope Julius might, in a moment of inspiration, make another short scenario with some more juicy tidbit of plot and story.
Additional Comments: There are some scenarios that are like a full five-course meal. There are some that are like a complete feast. But, I don't always enjoy gorging myself. This scenario is lovely and short, and I've replayed this about ten times. What can I say, it's enjoyable every time, even though I already know the story and plot well.
[Edited on 03/12/17 @ 06:26 AM]