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Age of Kings Heaven » Forums » News Discussion » Blacksmith Feature: Winter Storm (02.24.2018)
Topic Subject:Blacksmith Feature: Winter Storm (02.24.2018)
(id: Mashek)
posted 02-23-18 09:50 PM CT (US)         
Article written by Cataphract.

Today's Blacksmith Feature article covers an absolute gem from 2016, "Winter Storm" by Lord Basse, a file which narrowly missed winning the 2016 Classic Design Contest. Portraying events after the fall of Xaphira in the fantastically well received "Relics of Athalen" one would expect this scenario to receive a similar following, but has only received seven hundred downloads until now. A most remarkable aspect of the scenario is its frugality with triggers; less than 150 are used, and yet the game play is rich and complex, with a strong AI which will keep you on your toes throughout the game.

True to its name, the scenario plays out in the frozen north-lands of the Kingdom of Sarachrion. The story continues in a surprising turn of events from "Relics of Athalen" as the Gwyndlegardians of prior campaigns have developed into an imperialistic force intent on dominating the entire continent, leading to an assault on the Kingdom of Sarachrion. Here Lord Basse frames wonderfully the environment of the world starting with a nice bitmap and a superbly written preamble. As King Adman contemplate the dire situation which he must face, the viewer experiences his melancholy at being forced to stand alone, betrayed by his allies, against the seemingly insurmountable Gwyndlegardians. This all leads up to a desperate last stand to hold the last few fortresses of Sarachrion.

Which leads us to the game play. The player must hold three fortresses in the face of an implacable AI opponent who can detect your weaknesses and hit you hard where you can least afford it. This leads to some fairly desperate battles with your men holding out while reinforcements ride to the rescue. A large variety of strategies are viable, even luring the AI into attacking a soft spot then ambushing it upon the roads. Meanwhile a well-balanced difficulty system ensures a wide range of players will experience a challenge appropriate for their experience. Beware when choosing hard for this is one of those scenarios where it truly is brutally difficult, though remaining fair and entirely possible for the player to triumph. I would quite confidently say this is one of the most well balanced games around, although an exploit or two brought down my own review score in this department. A final point related to game play that must be mentioned is the slight lag spikes experienced sporadically while playing which is all the more inexplicable for the scenario having so few triggers.

The terrain presented is of a lovely winter environment, with the fortified cities looking the part while frozen harbors and a bleak, sparsely detailed countryside portrays the harshness of winter with elegant simplicity. I did find some terrain detailing choices to be somewhat odd, such as exposed green grass in the dead of winter, while usage of green mountains and their placement sometimes left me desiring a more perfectly polished map. These minor flaws tend to be in out of the way locations however, and shouldn't even be noticed while the player is engrossed in game play. An interesting aspect of the map design is that soldiers sent between the various fortresses including the AI troops tend to actually use the roads while moving automatically. It's a small touch that adds an element of authenticity.

In summary, if you like an intense, challenging game play with a well written story taking place on a good looking map, "Winter Storm" is an excellent choice.

Battle Erupts | Frozen Harbor | Gwyndlegard Army

Download the scenario here!
posted 02-24-18 08:18 AM CT (US)     1 / 7       
An excellent scenario much deserving of a writeup like this. Great stuff, Cataphract

~ Forgotten Empires ~

Storm on the Steppe | Galderton Hill RP | Proud member of Stormwind Studios

"Deyr fé, deyja frændr, deyr sjálfr it sama; ek veit einn at aldri deyr, dómr um dauðan hvern." - Hávamál 77.
posted 02-24-18 08:50 AM CT (US)     2 / 7       
Thanks hockeysam Ive played the scenario around a dozen times by now, and its one the draws me into playing it through everytime I start it up.

My actual review on it may have come across as overly negative, but its really a great scenario that was slightly overlooked in my view.

"Excellent could be any map that has the quality of a ES random map or ES scenario. AoK is an excellent, award winning game. That's where I'd start." -AnastasiaKafka

"Hard work is evil. Bitmaps are stupid. Working on a scenario for more than one afternoon is stupid. Triggers are stupid. Testing your own scenario is stupid. The world is stupid. You are the Greatest." -Ingo Van Thiel
Lord Basse
MI6 Scenario-Making Machine
posted 02-24-18 05:38 PM CT (US)     3 / 7       
Many thanks for featuring my scenario, Cata! I'm really happy to hear that you've enjoyed it so much. It's also nice to see the Blacksmith Feature revived once more. There are still quite a few overlooked scenarios that deserve to be in the limelight!

The ||||||||||||||||| Hus
OF | [/ \] |¯| [/ \] | ME
______________________________________________________________________________ |__ _ |¯|____|_______________________________________________________________________________
The Relics of Athalën (5.0) | AoK Opus - 95,000+ downloads | StormWind Studios | "I consider the conversion of Basse to be one of the great triumphs of my modding crusade" - Matt LiVecchi
(id: Mashek)
posted 02-24-18 06:40 PM CT (US)     4 / 7       
While I am writing up a couple features myself, we are also opening it up to the public to submit features, provided those features are written to a good standard of course. Please feel free to submit an article to myself or any other staff member or suggest an article to be written for a much overlooked file.
Devious Dev
Official Professional Qualified Noob
(id: dragonslayermcmx)
posted 02-25-18 05:36 AM CT (US)     5 / 7       
I remember playing this back during the 2016 contest. Definitely worth checking out
posted 02-25-18 11:29 AM CT (US)     6 / 7       
Very nice! Both the article and the scenario itself. Hopefully we will have some more Blacksmith Features in the future!

My AoC Workshop
Make Build & Destroy great again!
posted 03-07-18 00:23 AM CT (US)     7 / 7       

[This message has been edited by Sebastien (edited 03-07-2018 @ 09:02 AM).]

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