Helmsley is a most unusual castle in Ryedale, Yorkshire. It has a very interesting system of outer defensive works, the likes of which are only found in one other British Castle. In this siege, more than half the battle is just getting to the walls...
Helmsley by Victrix is a decent attempt at a historical castle recreation. The storyline hints that this map should be played as an attacking siege and I will review it as such.
Playability 4/5 Helmsley is a large complex fortress. I commend Victrix on his choice to make the all-important earthworks of this castle an integral part of the siege. It is essential that you look at this siege tactically. Find the weakness in Helmsley’s defenses then exploit it. This ‘weakness’ is not authentic as it is due to the author’s decision to move the Keeps historical position to that of the massive hall range. This choice drastically changes the attack strategy one would use. Thus. It presents the down loader with a siege map that is not quite Helmsley Castle. The object Victrix was trying to recreate. The large sea of pitch drastically slowed game play when lit. This pitch would have been put to better use if it had been more strategically placed and if less of it had been used. As it stands the pitch is only modestly effective. Helmsley was quite a fight when played on a hard level of difficulty. Although I achieved victory on my first attempt losses were horrendous at 84%.
Balance 3/5 the classic mistake of the garrison being comprised of 80% ballistic units is made by Victrix. What melee troops the defenders have are practically all swords men. In fact, the garrison has more swords men then the attackers! Siege engines specified for the engineers do not appear. Starting funds are adequate in respects to how this siege plays, well done. However were the castle true to its actual plan, I doubt the amount of 450 gold would have sufficed.
Creativity 4/5 A notable attempt at recreating the Hall range and it is quite a good effort. The Keep is unforgivable. The conical roofs are nice but erroneous. This Keep is famous for its D shape. Had the author decided to make the Keep the actual Keep, I could have overlooked the absence of form. The D shape would have been difficult to attach to a game Keep, (a challenge I would personally have liked to have undertaken!). Victrix however has decided to create his own Keep from scratch. In light of this, still no attempt was made to recreate the actual shape and due to the playing problems that arose from this choice, I must say it was a bad one.
Map Design 3/5 animals that are placed on the map are pointless, as they all die the second the siege begins. A lot of terrain modulation has been applied but the map is lacking in high detail such as rocks, bushes, dirt, grass, etc. The castle’s earthworks are well done and a good amount of time and effort must have gone into recreating them. Apart from the swapping of some of the castle’s internal arrangements, the overall plan appears to be quite accurate. When recreating an actual castle it is best to avoid any major design changes. The designers of Helmsley Castle placed the Keep on the North side for a reason. You ought to have trusted their judgment. I hate to harp on this point but by switching its position to the South you altered not only Helmsley’s plan and defensibility but also the siege at hand.
Story/Instructions 3/5 a very brief historical introduction is offered on the down load description page. A little more information is given on the launch page. The more I think about it, the more I realize this is a generous 3. You are not creating a fictional storyline here, although that would have been fine if you did. With the wealth of history this castle has it is a shame you did not utilize much of it. A far greater effort is required in this category to receive a high score.
In Short- Helmsley Castle is a decent battle in adequate settings. For what is one of his first submits Victrix has done a fine job. With practice and continued effort I expect to see some excellent work by this author. Keep at it Victrix and read the forums on scenario design. They are a wealth of information that can only inspire and help you.