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Stronghold 2 » Forums » Stronghold: Game Help & Strategy Discussions » Sparrow's Extreme Challenges - #3 -- Star and Crescent
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Topic Subject:Sparrow's Extreme Challenges - #3 -- Star and Crescent
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Sparrow
Archer
posted 11-19-05 08:52 EST (US)         
main thread | main page | all challenges and solutions | rules | honour roll 

Sparrow's Extreme Challenges 
My personal picks of the most difficult maps to play on "very hard" setting. 

This is the map thread for:


Challenge #3   posted November 19, 2005 
Star and Crescent 
by Brave Sir Robyn 
challenge info | download | solution | main thread 

Solution will be published with the next challenge in two weeks.



I just found out some interesting background information regarding the design of this map. First my deep apologies to NAT for feeling the need to share this with you all. NAT is a big football fan supporting Southampton, as is Brave Sir Robyn, however BSR supports arch rival Portsmouth, and you know how seriously the English take their football. From what I gather (USA perspective) the top and bottom three football teams move up and down in the various leagues depending on their performance each year. It's therefore a very big deal to reach the English Premier League (the top) after playing in lesser leagues for many years.

BSR celebrated Portsmouth's (nicknamed Pompey) ascension to the Premier League in 2003 by designing the Star and Crescent map, somewhat as a joke, and incorporated many references to the team and the event. First was basing the map's layout on the team's (and city's) crest, and by luck, incorporating its colors, a yellow star and crescent on a blue shield, shown at right. Plus the team plays in blue and white.

The map starts in August 2003, the start of the league fixtures, and there is a total of 38 invasions representing the number of games that were to be played. BSR tried to put in a feeling of a long hard struggle, anticipating a tough season without much success for a new team in the league.

Elements of the story were tied in, too. Lord Dreadknapp represented Harry Redknapp, Portsmouth's manager at the time. King M'Landric was Milan Mandaric, the club chairman. "...have led your tribe to glorious victories in the previous campaign" refers to record points and goals scored in the previous year. "You must return to the lands of the Elite tribes and defend your rightful place amongst them" refers to joining the Premier League and playing the top teams.

"Be careful though, for apart from a scouting party some fifteen years ago that sunk without trace, your kind has not been welcome here for many generations." - Portsmouth had not played in the top league since 1988.

"Many years ago you once ruled the Elite tribes and your ancestors carved their mark in the landscape for all time." - Portsmouth won the FA Cup in 1939 and held it for a record seven years due to the breakout of World War II, and also won the 1st Division title for two years running in 1949 and 1950.

"You must defeat all aggressors, including the vile and loathsome Scuhm tribe." - a reference to NAT's favorite Southampton team.

Very clever, Brave Sir Robyn.



Please make all posts for this map in this thread.

Please feel free to post your progress, comments, discussions, compare notes, announce victories, or ask for help on this map, but ONLY POST FOR THIS MAP, please. And please DO NOT START ANY NEW THREADS for these challenges. Any new threads started for Sparrow's Extreme Challenges will be locked or deleted.

To post for other maps or for general challenge comments go to the main thread where you'll find links to all other challenge map threads.

Visit the main page for Sparrow's Extreme Challenges to see a complete write up with links, information, and solutions for every map.

Complete this challenge map and be included in the Honour Roll of Extreme Challenge Masters. To be listed for this map make a post in this thread to announce your victory. You MUST state what difficulty you played on so we know which honour roll to put you on.


DoY's infamous TREASURE ISLAND - Challenge #13 - Sparrow's Extreme Challenges for SH1 and Crusader

[This message has been edited by Sparrow (edited 11-21-2005 @ 06:00 PM).]

AuthorReplies:
Duc de Noisiel
Archer
posted 11-19-05 09:47 EST (US)     1 / 46       
Waiting...
Lord Beaker
Archer
posted 11-19-05 12:12 EST (US)     2 / 46       
Not meaning to sound discouraging, but this map appears to be very hard on the very hard setting. It is possible to beat them right? It's not virtually impossible like the invasion of the pig in the campaign after the patch on the very hard setting?
Sparrow
Archer
posted 11-19-05 15:08 EST (US)     3 / 46       
It's hard, but definitely possible.

DoY's infamous TREASURE ISLAND - Challenge #13 - Sparrow's Extreme Challenges for SH1 and Crusader
brave sir robyn
Archer
posted 11-19-05 17:14 EST (US)     4 / 46       
Uh-oh, Sparrow warned me he might pick one of mine.
*is embarrassed and a bit proud*

It's been a long time since I played this one myself and I've never played it on Hard, let alone Very Hard so I've no idea what it'll be like. Still, there's only one way to find out and if Sparrow says it's possible then I guess we'd best get started ...

WarLord_Designs
Archer
posted 11-20-05 08:07 EST (US)     5 / 46       
Hmmmmm..... i wonder,
Are you a portsmouth fan BSR? boy did we give you guys a hard time

I guess you are as it would explain alot!

I'll have to give this one a go and hopefully beat it with ease just like last nights game

(hopes he hasnt pushed BSR wrong buttons )
Arthus

brave sir robyn
Archer
posted 11-20-05 11:22 EST (US)     6 / 46       
Yeah, not the best of days to put this map on public display was it? LOL! (Liverpool 3 Portsmouth 0).

Arthus wrote: "I'll have to give this one a go and hopefully beat it with ease just like last nights game"
I wouldn't be too sure about that, it'll be a lot more difficult than beating Pompey 3-0.

Anyway, back to the map; I played a bit last night and it's a very different experience at Very Hard. The best I've done so far is to survive the Rat's invasions and the first couple of Snake invasions. It's tough, and I know there is worse to come!

WarLord_Designs
Archer
posted 11-20-05 15:51 EST (US)     7 / 46       
I too have gone to very hard and am finding it very hard indeed. But with each go i get further, still a fair way to go yet...
Ok i'll admit im finding it hard to believe its possible - i don't normally fail but it seems i may soon give in and admit defeat. Don't get me wrong its a good map but after 7 goes continuously the star and cresent looks to be an inpenetrable force


i think this oe goes beyond extream for me - ive brushed off the other maps quite easily (although not bragging publicly ) but this goes on the top of my list as the hardest on very hard.

Arthus

Duc de Noisiel
Archer
posted 11-21-05 03:21 EST (US)     8 / 46       

Quoted from WarLord_Designs:

ive brushed off the other maps quite easily


We expected that from you, don't you think?

Quoted from WarLord_Designs:

(although not bragging publicly )

Hum. Sparrow had said the Lord of Ludlow map had been downloaded quite a few times and only a few people told others they had made it.
In this amount of people, how many people who made it are too shy to show their score and how many just did not make it yet? Why not add your name to the table then?

WarLord_Designs
Archer
posted 11-21-05 05:21 EST (US)     9 / 46       

Quote:

We expected that from you, don't you think?

Not quite sure what you meant by that but i do find the odd challenge sometimes (and those that are clearly impossible!)

Why don't i add my name?... hmmm i don't know to tell you the truth, perhaps its because i don't really care for it - i just want to see what is concidered extream and indeed sparrow has picked a challenge this time round. Publically showing off my acheivements - its just not my style .

As stated it does bring up the subject, how many are like me - who has passed the maps but hasn't announced it. Im sure this list would be lengthy,

Arthus

Sparrow
Archer
posted 11-21-05 11:12 EST (US)     10 / 46       
I must say here, it is difficult to know just how extreme a map to present to you all. I have loads of maps in mind that I can select from and it's always a worry as to whether a map is too easy or too hard. I'm trying to select a variety so that some will be a bit less frustrating and others will require some real thought.

Part of the idea of extreme play is to challenge yourself to have to constantly reevaluate the actions you are taking. What do I have available that I don't ordinarily use that might help? What might I be able to use in a different way? What would happen if I focused on this first instead of that? What features in the landscape can I use to best advantage? How can I increase worker efficiency? How can I modify my defenses to make them more effective? How can I slow the enemy down? Can I distract the enemy? What if I altered my castle configuration? In short, what can I do differently that might help?

I have always found this stimulating and have discovered many fresh ways of dealing with enemy threats, becoming a much better player for it. Let me give you quick example on a map that I haven't beaten on very hard yet. I still don't know if it's possible, but I think there's a chance. I PIG, by Brave Sir Robyn again. I've gotten quite a way through it but have gotten stuck by a huge invasion with loads of archers, crossbows and armor. A big part of the problem is there is just too much wall to defend, the archers are too spread out and the walls are not thick enough at this point in time. I must check again (been too busy to work on it recently), but I think I'd loose too many goods to consider moving the stockpile. But I am thinking that splitting the castle in two may be a big improvement. A small, tight, heavily armored and defended keep and a much thinner walled production area, but completely detached. We'll see.

The important thing is to try unconventional things. Exploit the enemy's weaknesses.

Now sometimes a particular map is just too frustrating or maybe just not to your liking. I definitely understand that. Nothing wrong with skipping some that are just not fun for you. There'll be lots more to come and in a variety of difficulties and styles.

And don't forget one of the real strengths of SH1 is the ability to adjust difficulty. Play it on hard or even normal. Sometimes playing through to victory can encourage you to say "I think I could do a little better if I played that again." If you plotted the difficulty of a map on its timeline you end up with a curve. All maps have a different curve. There is a definite high point of greatest difficulty, sometimes very early, sometimes much later, but the end is almost always a downhill coast where you control the map. This is very much the case when playing on very hard because of the effort you have to put into getting over the most difficult hump. Playing through to victory on a lesser difficulty such as hard, you come to know where that high part of the curve is and can then say "If only I can get past that one place I'd be ok." Star and Crescent definitely fits this model.

I'm thinking I may need to start providing a few hints to provide you that little boost if you need it. I'll see if I can post a few later today.

I appreciate any feedback you can give me. I want to provide you with a good challenge, but don't want to scare you away.


DoY's infamous TREASURE ISLAND - Challenge #13 - Sparrow's Extreme Challenges for SH1 and Crusader
Lord Beaker
Archer
posted 11-21-05 11:57 EST (US)     11 / 46       
I played a bit on this map, and its is hard. I played on normal difficulty and it seemed possible. I really dont care for any specific hints as they would likely be too influential on potential players and they can always wait two weeks to see your solutions. I just want to make sure that all maps are passable, and without requiring shady tactics. I believe I could win on very hard, but would require some less honourable moves(breaking multiple rules you posted on how to play these maps). Will continue to try and beat it with honour, most of the time i do a little better...
Duc de Noisiel
Archer
posted 11-21-05 14:37 EST (US)     12 / 46       

Quoted from WarLord_Designs:

Not quite sure what you meant by that but i do find the odd challenge sometimes


I mean I think you are an advanced player, aren't you?

Quoted from Sparrow:

I'm thinking I may need to start providing a few hints to provide you that little boost if you need it. I'll see if I can post a few later today.


I really think it's too early...

Quoted from Lord Beaker:

I really dont care for any specific hints as they would likely be too influential on potential players and they can always wait two weeks to see your solutions.


I totaly agree...

Quoted from Sparrow:

I appreciate any feedback you can give me. I want to provide you with a good challenge, but don't want to scare you away.


I think you already have won the maps you are posting, with setting on very hard. Didn't you?
To do it too makes it even more attractive, don't you think?

Quote:

Part of the idea of extreme play is to challenge yourself to have to constantly reevaluate the actions you are taking. What do I have available that I don't ordinarily use that might help? What might I be able to use in a different way? What would happen if I focused on this first instead of that? What features in the landscape can I use to best advantage? How can I increase worker efficiency? How can I modify my defenses to make them more effective? How can I slow the enemy down? Can I distract the enemy? What if I altered my castle configuration? In short, what can I do differently that might help?


Indeed, that is it.
Sparrow
Archer
posted 11-21-05 15:31 EST (US)     13 / 46       
I do want to make one thing absolutely clear. I would never present a map to you that I had not already completed myself on very hard. So rest assured all my challenges are possible.

From what some of you are saying maybe I should hold off on the hints. I'll wait for more comments. Don't hesitate to say you think they should be available. If I did them I think they would be very general in nature, hopefully just nudges in a certain direction and would not be posted here. I would set them up separately and provide individual links to each from here. You would have to deliberately click on the link and would see only one at a time, sort of like the in-game hints. But I'll wait.

On my suggested rules Lord Beaker, don't forget, aside from a few that I recommend never doing, some are things that I avoid when possible but employ to varying degrees when necessary. Extreme play needs some latitude and lots of innovation. Glad you're trying to respect them, though.


DoY's infamous TREASURE ISLAND - Challenge #13 - Sparrow's Extreme Challenges for SH1 and Crusader
double d
Archer
posted 11-21-05 15:41 EST (US)     14 / 46       
I must say Sparrow has came up trumphs here... a seriously hard map. i have just scraped through on hard and im going to spend the rest of my night trying on very hard (not looking forward to it) i thought ludlow and the otheres were well ... not easy but 'challenging' but this takes the mick...
brave sir robyn
Archer
posted 11-21-05 18:30 EST (US)     15 / 46       
I agree it's too early for hints and tips, Sparrow. I'm sure players can wait 'til the two week period you've already set is expired.

I also wholeheartedly agree with your sentiment about thinking differently and trying alternative ways to deal with problems. It's amazing sometimes how little differences in tactics can bring such changes in the game experience.
When I first started downloading and playing maps I was convinced that anything by Jalis or Duke of York was impossible. However it was the effort I had to apply to actually win these scenarios that taught me how to adapt my approach to playing SH rather than just curse maps that didn't suit how I wanted to play.

Anyway back to S&C at Very Hard ... earlier in the thread I said I'd got past the Rat invasions and a couple of Snake invasions. Loading from a certain save I seemed to be hitting a point in the game where I simply couldn't do anything to prevent myself falling to the second or third Snake invasion, (a difficulty high-spot like Sparrow mentioned). So I started over and placed my intial buildings and set myself up in a totally different way. I survived the Rat invasions with the loss of only two archers and also succesfully fended off all the Snake attacks with acceptable minimal losses. I'm now enjoying the 'half-time' break in the map and steeling myself for the second half onslaught ...

And I just noticed the title post, very nice write up on the football connections, thanks Sparrow.

*I'm getting more embarrassed by this thread every minute. *

[This message has been edited by brave sir robyn (edited 11-21-2005 @ 06:31 PM).]

Lord Beaker
Archer
posted 11-22-05 01:48 EST (US)     16 / 46       
Good news, I can now affirm that the map is passable. Once I got my strategy from starting on normal a couple times, I cranked it up to very hard and survived without any real threat to the lord. The hardest part for me was the start and figuring out what worked best. I'll wait a while to post my strategy, screenshots, and score, but I can assure everyone that the map is actually surprising winnable.

Overall, an excellent challenge on a great map, made for some hard work and then lots of fun as I reigned down arrows on the wolf.

Sparrow
Archer
posted 11-22-05 04:33 EST (US)     17 / 46       
Excellent work there, Lord Beaker. And it's only early Tuesday. Fast work. Congratulations, I've put your name up.

DoY's infamous TREASURE ISLAND - Challenge #13 - Sparrow's Extreme Challenges for SH1 and Crusader
Duc de Noisiel
Archer
posted 11-26-05 04:27 EST (US)     18 / 46       
You can count me in on that one Sparrow.

Well, I tried to play that map all day on tuesday. I didn't succeed, although I tried many different approaches. I went to sleep at night thinking that sometimes you try something again and again and it does not work, and then wake up the next day and pass it like you have always done it... And that's exactly what happened...

I started by placing the granary, and right from the beginning to tax to the maximum, also adding an extra house to hold 8 more people so I could tax even more gold. I left the food on normal, placed 12 wood cutters, one pole turner to first produce spearmen and one fletcher to first produce archers, buying the extra wood needed. When popularity came down to 43-45, put the taxes on medium and set food on normal so the popularity would be +2, by the time it went back to 50 I had lost a few people around the fire camp, but everything was normal when the woodcutters started delivering. Then my next move was to prevent running out of food, building 4 apple orchards and 2 wheat farms then quarries to provide stone that I would sell to get gold. (You can do it with iron or pitch as well...)

The balance is to always have some gold and some food.
As soon as you can afford it, build one more pole turner and one more fletcher, the next important step being to figure out when you will start producing crossbows...

In my previous tries, I always made it to the year 2011 or so, but I was loosing too many spearmen and was always left with archers who could not prevent the enemy to get into the keep. I had to try something else.
I placed a wooden wall on each branch of the star, leaving just one tile opened so people could access the central area. When the second invasion came, I closed all openings in the walls to the side where the invasion came from to make them walk to the opposite side, my archers shooting at them while they did so. I occasionaly re-opened the opposite side, closing the path they where reaching to make them go around once more so they would get shot as much as possible before I did let them come closer and killed them. While I was doing this, I was increasing my defenses. I did this until the invasions with macemen occured.
This prevented me from loosing too many men and to have enough to face the invasions with the macemen.

My strategy consisted of making enough spearmen to be able to survive, holding them on the keep, set on "no move"; I would set them on "agressive" when the enemies were at the door of the keep. Spearmen make excellent defenses if in number.
I could have used pitch as I managed to let the enemy get into the castle thru one or two pathes at the same time, but did not do so. I did not collect any.
I collected stone so by the year 2020 or so I started producing pikemen and a few macemen to have a better defense.

After I got to this point, everything was under control, if I may say so.
By the year 2025, I safely made a save, seeing that the invasions where not over while they where increasing...

You can see the wooden walls remaining on each branch of the star...

Well, I surprisingly made it...:

I replayed it a second time from the save and made it with 2% losses less.

Thought, I figured that if I had handled it a bit differently, I could have made it with even less losses. I also wondered if it was just luck I made it, and decided to start it all over again from the beginning, I wanted to see if I could do it again.
In the third attempt, I managed to have enough shooting forces to prevent any enemy to get into the keep, the closest they made it was the fire camp, and not even one enemy pikemen or swordsmen did get inside the keep.

And I made it again..:

Third win...

Overall, a fine and captivating mission worth being played.

[This message has been edited by Duc de Noisiel (edited 11-27-2005 @ 02:59 PM).]

Sparrow
Archer
posted 11-26-05 14:57 EST (US)     19 / 46       
Very nice Duc de Noisiel. You're the first to complete all three challenges. I've always found the same thing if I was really having trouble with a map, thinking about it before going to sleep definitely brought me fresh ideas when I tackled it again. I've put the "X" beside your name for this one. Thanks for all the great comments and nice screen shots.

DoY's infamous TREASURE ISLAND - Challenge #13 - Sparrow's Extreme Challenges for SH1 and Crusader
Lord Blok
Archer
posted 11-26-05 17:22 EST (US)     20 / 46       
Hi Sparrow,

Early on I had to resart several times. I would always run out of food or gold and my economy would grind to a halt. Once I figured out the right set up to start with it was smooth sailing to the end.

After several tries I decided food production would need to come from within the star. I built 2 pitch rigs, a fletcher and a pole turner. Next I built 2 dairy farms in the star and 2 wheat farms close by. Later I added a second fletcher and 5 wheat farms.

After the second attack I alternated a wooden gate and a wooden wall on each point of the star. Except for the southwest point. I left this one open and lined it with pitch.

I added a tanner and slowly began replacing the wooden gates with stone and the wooden walls with defense turrets. When I ran out of space in the star I built gatehouses at each end of the crescent. I moved the hovels, market, inns and engineers guild to the crescent.

By the time the snake stopped attacking I had a large supply of pitch and a smelter. I added a gatehouse to the southwest point. Lined all points with pitch and placed 2 engineers with oil on each gatehouse.

During the final attack large forces of pikemen managed to breach my gatehouse 3 times. They were pretty well dead from the burning pitch by the time they got it down. So they were quickly dealt with and the gatehouse replaced.

Playing level = 15000
Troops lost 36% = 6400
Score = 21400


Lord Beaker
Archer
posted 11-26-05 18:19 EST (US)     21 / 46       
Well, I congratulate all that have passed this one. I went with a different strategy than the others did it appears. I was always having trouble with the first few attacks, and getting enought men to defend, and wood to build. I placed my granary to the right on the map, and then placed a bunch of woodcutters to the north of the keep(opposite the crescent). Made a house and market. I build some(5 or 6) apple farms to the east of the castle I then sold all supplies and moved my stockpile to the north, just north of the marsh so it would be closer to my woodcutters. I built three fletchers when they returned with wood as close to the stockpile as was possible. I added 4 wheat farms on the very northern edge of the map, and inss for popularity. I I then started to mine stone, and iron and get pitch, adding fletchers when i got the gold. By the time the first drought killed off trees I had already chopped down the trees on the northern half of the map. I sold all the wheat, bought ale and wood when needed, sold iron, some stone, and occassionally a little pitch if my stockpile(3x) would get full. I only built bows at the start, though did start to make some crossbows after I had a large force of archers. I built up my walls slowly. At first I left opening for the men to attack through, but I would shoot them down before they could get through, with the help of pitch if needed. I also built walls from the northern edge of the map to the marshland to protect my settlement. I left my granary unprotected and it got destroyed a couple of times, but I rebuilt it and was only running 1/2 rations most of the time anyway. The hardest part was the first few attacks.

After the rat and snake attacked I recruited as many people as possible and deleted my entire northern settlement to reduce population so I could get to plus five fear factor and the added attack bonus. With 665 archers and 160 crossbows with full attack bonus the pig and wolf had no chance and didnt even get to my walls on the star. I ended with 6% troops lost (semi-artificially reduced by me recruiting 100+ ladderman to get my army over size 1000.

Sparrow
Archer
posted 11-26-05 23:01 EST (US)     22 / 46       
Glad to hear of your success there, Lord Blok. Congratulations. I marked you on the honour roll.

A very interesting approach Lord Beaker. I wouldn't have thought that would work, but you just never know in Stronghold. It will constantly surprise you.


DoY's infamous TREASURE ISLAND - Challenge #13 - Sparrow's Extreme Challenges for SH1 and Crusader
Duc de Noisiel
Archer
posted 11-28-05 02:54 EST (US)     23 / 46       

The field

[This message has been edited by Duc de Noisiel (edited 11-28-2005 @ 10:45 AM).]

WarLord_Designs
Archer
posted 12-01-05 22:03 EST (US)     24 / 46       
should get this on top of the past junk right?

Im still going at it but havn't quite finished it on very hard - close though

Arthus

brave sir robyn
Archer
posted 12-02-05 07:17 EST (US)     25 / 46       
Well I beat this at Very Hard a few days back but have only just got round to posting, so I can now join my esteemed fellow warriors on the Honour Roll

By the way, that's a brilliant birdseye picture of the whole map Duc De Noisiel, I think I'll take a copy of that!

Seeing as it was my map and I've obviously played it through several times at Normal before, I kept falling back to tactics employed during those games. At first it didn't look like the old ideas would work for Very Hard but after a few false starts I realised I could use them - I just needed to be a bit more extreme, but then that's what this challenge is all about eh?

To start with I placed two woodcutters, one to the North and one to the East, (only two to start with to allow for some tree growth),and a market. I took advantage of the early marriage event and the multiple foods and taxed my peasants highly for as long as possible. I bought enough wood to site two fletchers and an armoury next to the stockpile behind the keep, a barracks, two apple farms to the east (my granary was on the tip of the eastern starpoint), and two pitch rigs.
To my mind, in the first half of this map, if the player can defend an invasion but suffers heavy damage or loses many troops in the process then the next invasion is highly likely to kill him off altogether. So all the Rat and Snake invasions need to be beaten and beaten well, with as few losses to the players troops and economy as possible.
My solution for the early invasions was to give a warm reception to each by using pitch ditches. I would wait until the invasion enters the map and then place my pitch ditches at whatever starpoint the invasion is heading for. All archers bar one would rush to the tip of this starpoint and target the approaching enemy spearmen and archers, the idea being to reduce the invaders to only pikemen. Then as these pikemen reached the starpoint my archers would retreat to the keep and the one already there would ignite the pitch and fry the pikemen, either killing them outright or reducing their strength enough so my archers could finish them with ease. Timing was everything! And fotunately this tactic worked well enough that I only lost two archers to all of the Rat's invasions.
During this succesful spell, as well as gradually building the rest of my economy I concentrated on collecting pitch and siting weaponsmiths, switching to crossbowmen and pikemen production towards the end of the Rats invasions.

The Snakes invasions were tougher but I countered these with similar tactics and bigger pitch ditches and it worked well. I think in the first half of the map it's actually an advantage to not try and enclose your keep, this encourages the invasions to charge in a straight line and lets them fall for the traps. It wasn't until the end of the Snakes invasions that I began to seal off the starpoints with walls and gatehouses, but I left at least one open route to my keep until half-time. (This is a bit of a slimy tactic and does take advantage of the AI, but I guess all's fair in love and war?)

The half-time break came and I used this peaceful period to really beef up my defences and economy. I enclosed my keep and had enough stone to site four square towers on the star manned with mangonels. I recruited as many archers, crossbowmen and pikemen as possible and placed numerous pitch ditches at the starpoints and all around the saurrounding land. I was running about 80 peasants and boosted my popularity and taxation with ale (two inns) and constantly bought small amounts of food to maintain one of each type. The reinforcements (substitutions at half-time ) were a huge bonus and to be honest I'd forgotten I would get them. However I doubt if I would have survived at Very Hard without their help.

With the second half imminent and the first invasions announced I began shutting down my outside economy, turning the ex-workers into fresh recruits and salvaged whatever wood I could by demolishing the buildings. My population began decreasing at this point but this also helped conserve ale consumption and food stocks. I was left with only weaponsmiths, an inn and a cow farm inside the castle and had to rely on whatever goods I had already collected. I used the market to buy extra wood until it was destroyed. Then as I ran out of gold and wood I would demolish a weaponsmith to keep the remaining ones in production.
The final battles were frantic and I lost several times before I finally triumphed, good timing when igniting the pitch was critical to my success. Though I did a lose a gatehouse and suffer a wall breach in another place, whatever attackers got through were severly weakened and my group of about 40 pikemen atop my keep defended my Lord admirably.

All in it was a good fun and a very tough challenge, I would have never thought it was possible to play this map at Very Hard but I'm very pleased to be wrong about that.

Many congratulations also to all who have already taken victory on this map and I hope you enjoyed playing it.

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