Double d has written up a nice little story about Helm’s Deep giving background information from the Tolkien book. I would have liked to have seen this info on the download description page plus a screen shot. Story - 3
With the detailed descriptions in the LotR books plus the imagery from the movie I was hoping for a more fully produced and realistic map. Unfortunately it appears that the designer raced through this map using only the broadest brushstrokes to shape terrain. The cliffs are max height, the lowlands almost all mono-level. Little effort has been made to give anything like natural appearance.
The fortifications are quite workable and functional but not in any way unusual or new. Two land ramps lead up to gates in the outer ring wall and, because of the sharp changes in land height, these are the only ways up. There is an attractive piece of “eye-candy” in the form of an interesting guard tower surrounded by workshops and palistone walls. This map does not really have any economy to manage. There are large stocks of food and money. Essentially all of the defending military units exist at the beginning of the game and are already stationed at the walls. I was able to set up some blacksmiths and armorers to make extra swordsmen. Map - 2, Creativity - 2.5
Since towers, gates and stone and wood walls are all enabled, I was able to demolish some broken walls and use the materials to rebuild these gates several times between attacks. Several times the invaders broke through the first wall but each time my knights beat them back along with the help of concentrated fire from archers and crossbowmen.
At first there were massed attacks and I had to work fast to move my units around to good defensive positions. But as the game progressed the attackers seemed to remain longer around the signpost and only smaller groups came out to charge Helm’s Deep and each time I was able to finish them off before they could do much damage. I ended the game after about 10 game-years of play. This was the first time I played. (Played on NORMAL)
This scenario started off fun but began to become monotonous and predictable towards the end. Balance - 2.5, Playability - 3
Some suggestions for improvement:
First and foremost, take time to give a natural appearance to the map. Shape the land. Use the rounding tool to give the terrain a more natural appearance. Use smaller “brush size” to give detail. Add clumps of rocks of various sizes, place plants and trees on hill sides. This takes TIME but it is worth it.
Second, rather than placing all the defending units at stations on the walls and towers, leave some at gathering points within the fortress and allow the player to figure out where to place them. Maybe provide some arms and let the player decide how to use them. (e.g 10 maces, 10 crossbows, 10 leather armor – does he make 10 crossbowmen or 10 macemen or …?)
To prevent the player from demolishing and rebuilding the fortifications you may want to turn off walls, gates, towers. In a real battle there would be no time for this.
Lastly, play your own map again and again to make sure it is sufficiently hard. Ask a friend to try it or seek out someone to playtest it on the Stronghold forum.