The Interlude - Battle Of The Solomon Sea
The Great Rebellion was over. The last units of the once mighty Rebel Army had been smashed at The Battle At Andolin. With their glorious gains wiped away and the land war lost, the battered survivors had fled and sought refuge on the Rebel Home Islands. The final chapter in a Civil War that had nearly brought down a nation was about to commence. All that stood between the newly reclaimed Western Provinces of the Kingdom and the invasion and capture of the main Rebel Island of Saint Lo was the Solomon Sea and the Rebel Navy.
The Southern Squadron glided effortlessly across the deep, calm waters of the Solomon Sea. Admiral Gwain Alistair stood on the command deck of his Flagship, The Pegasus. Not a man given to pride, the site of his magnificent squadron stirred a feeling closely akin to it in his heart. How could it not? Here were the newest and finest frigates possessed by any navy. Never before had such raw firepower been amassed at sea.
As in any war, great advances in military technology had been made. The King, before he inherited the throne, had been a naval officer his entire life. Upon his coronation he set the Kingdom upon the task of building the most powerful navy possessed by any nation. With an unmatchable fleet, few Kingdoms would dare stand in his way. One could say his increase in taxes to fund his endeavors led to the whole affair of rebellion in the first place. Yet the navy had been built and with the completion of the first of the Round Table Class Frigates, The Galahad, all other warships were rendered obsolete.
The frigates first showing had been less than stellar; in fact, the night raid on the harbor at Cumberland had been a complete disaster. The Galahad herself was lost and her sister ship, The Percival was captured. The Percival would later redeem herself upon the harbors recapture by the Loyal 7th Division, 'The Fighting 7th'. Repaired and back at sea, the veteran ship sailed in the tail position of Alistair's squadron. Between The Percival and the Pegasus was another frigate of the Round Table Class, The Lancelot. Both ships were more than a match for any warship constructed by the Rebels. Admiral Alistair's Flagship, The Pegasus, of the newly launched Jalis class, outgunned any Rebel frigate afloat by nearly two to one. The Rebellion favored speed and maneuverability over firepower and now stood at a disadvantage with there more numerous but smaller vessels. Alistair's problem was, he needed to catch them first. For the last 6 days and nights, he had tried to do just that. The morning of the 7th day had begun like all others, nothing but blue sea to the horizon. The weather was clear with a strong wind and the Southern Squadron made good speed across the bright, blue waters. One got used to the endless monotony of life at sea but never to the brief and heightened moments of action. If he had been asked, Admiral Alistair would have thought the day would have been like any other. That was until he sat down to breakfast. He hadn't a second to savor his first bite of salted beef when the lookout shouted, "Ships spotted off the starboard bows Captain!"
Flag Captain Thomas Holloway shot his gaze to the Pegasus's foremast. The figure atop the crow's nest pointed with his arm to some unseen object on the horizon. With his Spy Glass, a much coveted and extremely rare piece of equipment, Captain Holloway saw the sail ahead and off to starboard. He had studied the sketches and viewed the illustrations countless times. The top spar of the ships foremast was unmistakable, "Its an Altheus Class Frigate Admiral" he said, "A Rebel Frigate M'lord." Alistair was out of his quarters and on deck almost as soon as the lookout had finished speaking. Through a mouthful of salted beef he said to Holloway, "How many ships can you see Tommy?" "3" Holloway said, "wait..4, 4 Altheus Class Frigates Sire." "Boy" Alistair called to a young midshipman. "Yes Admiral?" the midshipman replied. "Send a flag signal to The Percival and The Lancelot, tell them to keep their topsails furled and ready to be engaged upon my command" Alistair said, "tell them to maintain Column Formation and fire when we do." "Aye Sir" the young midshipman was off in a flash.
"They are hull up M'lord" Captain Holloway said. Through his spyglass he could now see the wooden sides of the 4 Rebel frigates. They were closing the distance between the two fleets at an alarming rate. "I think they mean to engage us Tommy" Admiral Alistair said with a wry grin. As he said it Captain Holloway saw a small puff a smoke appear on the bow of the lead Rebel frigate, The Augusta. "Sir, they are opening fire. Shall I give the order to reply with the bow chasers?" Holloway asked. "No, tell the gun crews to hold their fire" ordered the Admiral. "Let them waste their ammunition and tire themselves Captain, It is exactly what I hoped for." A short but interminable wait later, a shot splash appeared a thousand yards short and off the starboard bows of the Pegasus. All four of the Rebel frigates were in plain site and had begun firing their bow guns at the ships of the Southern Squadron.
The gun crew of cannon seven on the main gun deck of the Pegasus, looked at each other warily. Even from their low vantage point, they could see the four Rebel frigates firing on their ship. "Why is he waiting so long" the guns rammer, Hawkins said. " Me'Grandma could hit them from here." "Quiet you" snarled the old Deck Captain Leutgens. Hawkins quickly found a brass ring on his cannon far more interesting than any conversation. By now the Rebel Fleet had formed itself into a Column Formation and would undoubtedly pass to Starboard of the Southern Squadron. "Ready the Starboard side cannon" Captain Holloway bellowed. The teeming motion on deck kicked up a notch as the cannons were run out. The enemies shot splashes were now appearing sporadically around all three ships under the Admiral's command. They were now definitely in range. As if to affirm the Captain's thought, the second ship in the Rebel Line, The Arethusa, scored a direct hit on the Lancelot. A small explosion erupted on the ships aft Port quarter. One of the cannons simply vaporized into a ball of fire as its powder was ignited by the hit. Although 500 yards behind the Pegasus, one could clearly see the shattered corpse of a member of the gun crew as it fell overboard in flames.
Captain Holloway took his eyes away from the gruesome scene and coolly scanned the deck of his ship. Such a sight could cause a man to panic. He knew the Admiral wanted to start with a clean broadside but with the Augusta a mere thousand yards away he was beginning to wonder himself why the Admiral was waiting so long. Then Holloway understood; he was timing his approach perfectly to the Rebel pattern of shot. The Rebel flagship, Augusta, would fire 2 or 3 shots and then follow with the rest of her salvo a full minute later. The Arethusa behind her would fire a well-timed salvo of all of her guns but pause far to long in between broadsides. If the Admiral timed it correctly, He would evade most of the fire from these two ships and The Pegasus would find herself parallel with the vessels comprising the rest of the Rebel Line, the Aboukir and Aubergine, an even fight. The Lancelot would take punishment from the Augusta but would be in a prime position to exact her revenge upon the Arethusa. The Augusta by then would be at the mercy of the veteran gun crews of the Percival. With one perfectly timed salvo from all three of his frigates, he could cripple the entire Rebel Fleet.
Things began to happen very quickly. Admiral Gwain Alistair was trying hard to keep his composure. All the planning was about to pay off and his excitement welled in his face threatening to take over his expression, he had to time his move perfectly. "Boy" he called to the young midshipmen. "Yes Admiral?" The boy replied quickly enough but Alistair could see the fear in his eyes. Perhaps he had seen the carnage aboard the Lancelot. "Send signal: engage topsails, 5 degrees right rudder." "Aye-Aye sir" the young lad replied and was off. A moment later, the commands were given and the topsails of all three ships unfurled in tandem. Several splashes then erupted on the surface of the water in front and behind the Pegasus. The Rebel Frigates, Aboukir and the Aubergine, were finding her range. As if he was the only man who could see them, an old sailor called out, "were taking fire!" he was right however and Captain Holloway knew they would be scoring hits within the next few enemy salvos. As if on cue, a hole appeared with a loud snap in one of the freshly unfurled topsails. Another shot from the Arethusa whined as it flew low overhead. A moment later it smashed into the bows of the Lancelot causing even more casualties on board her decks.
The change was barely perceptible but Captain Thomas Holloway felt the Pegasus jump forward a couple of knots and saw the bow change its heading ever so slightly to Starboard. At first there were 1000 yards in between the two bows of the opposing fleets, then 500 and then they were parallel with the Augusta. The men of the Pegasus watched as she sailed past. For one freak, deathly, quite moment, the gun crews simply gawked at each other across the blue gap of sea between the two frigates. Then, 3 cannons erupted from the starboard side of the Augusta. The Pegasus shuddered as she was struck more than once. Captain Holloway grabbed the railing and steadied himself, "Damage Report" he shouted. The lieutenants began reporting, chiming in one by one on the status of their stations. "Main top gallant damaged" said one. "Cannons 3 and 9 destroyed Sir" said another. Just then the young midshipmen returned, "Sir, fire reported." All thought was interrupted as the Arethusa fired a full broadside that passed entirely in front of the Pegasus's bows while the Augusta scored repeated hits on the beleaguered Lancelot. "Get some men together and take care of that fire lad" Captain Holloway said to the midshipman. The boys eyes gleamed at having been given such an important duty "AYE Sir" he said and again raced off to complete his assignment. Captain Holloway had no doubt that he would be successful.
The moment was upon them. The Pegasus drew parallel with the Aboukir and the Aubergine. Both ships began training their guns from a forward pointed trajectory to that of broadside but it was to late, The Southern Squadron had caught them. Admiral Alistair exhaled as his anticipation, preparation and feelings faded away. All that remained was the battle commenced. "Captain Holloway" he shouted, "Open Fire!"
Authors Notes - this map is only guaranteed for play with the V1.2 patch for Stronghold installed on your computer, the patch is free and available at this site.
As with all of my recent maps, the King's orders appear on the launch page. They have been scripted to appear a certain way and have a bizarre appearance in the editor because of it.
This map can only be played as a Defending Siege. The troop numbers are set and cannot be changed so the Difficulty Setting does not matter.
Although heavily related, 'The Interlude' is not a chapter in the Saga of the 7th. The Royal 7th Division are not involved with the action. Despite this, I felt it was a part of the story that should and could be told with a Stronghold map. I believe, what is provided is the first Nautical Battlefield Map available for the original Stronghold Game.
I had a hard time deciding just exactly what to post 'The Interlude' as, a siege or an eye-candy map. With the help of my expert beta testers: Jalis, Earl Listibald, Merrill the Just, and Aubergine. I have been told unanimously to post it as a siege. Although extremely fun to watch, this map does not require much skill to beat, hence the dilemma.
There are some things you should know before you start:
An All Water, No Lords, No Keeps map was no walk in the park to make. Obviously, the ships can only be made to look like they are moving. Due to this, they had to be built so that they were already in range of each other at the start of the scenario. This was not an easy thing to achieve, as opposing troops certainly won't wait for you to say action to start shooting at each other. The storyline leaves off exactly where the map picks up. Quick hands are essential. The action is fast, furious and over in minutes. Yet, this allows you to play it several times in a relatively short period of time. You must kill all enemy units, including engineers in order to complete 'The Interlude' and obtain the Victory Page.
The Following are some playing tips that will vastly improve your enjoyment of 'The Interlude' Battle of the Solomon Sea:
-Prepare to start fighting immediately; He, whose broadside is first, wins the day.
-Target enemy cannons/catapults first with your cannons/catapults.
-Target the wooden platforms in the stern or the shields on the bow of the enemy frigates to cause the maximum amount of damage. The elaborate design of the warships provides several hiding places for enemy units.
-Each one of your cannons has enough ammunition for 60 shots.
-If you are quick enough, you can switch gun crews to the unused cannons/catapults on each ship, thus doubling your ammunition.
-Additional funds to build more cannons/catapults have been provided. Making you fight with limited funds was not one of the objectives here. Ensuring you could end the siege was.
-You will end up picking off stragglers I am afraid, Remember; you must kill them all to end the siege. The better you get with your cannons/catapults, the easier this task will become.
The Saga Of The 7th...
Ambush At Manathma
The Cumberland Downs
The Battle At Andolin
The Vierville Draws (coming soon)
....Also related 'The Interlude' Battle of the Solomon Sea.
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I gave playability a 5 because, I enjoyed the way it started off with the battle beginning. Though you didn't need to do much at first you, had to really look where to place the troops on the boat!
I gave balance a 4 as you and the enemy had the around the same number of units which made the battle very even. It didn't get the 5 mark because even though I placed my archers at the far side as closest as it could go, I still couldn't reach 1 or 2 units.
I gave creativity a 5 as it must have bben hard for the auther to create ships on a game that is purely land battles!
I gave map design a 5 as the design of the ships is great! It really gives you the feel of a deep sea battle and makes you work hard for it.
I gave story a 5 because, it's one of the greatest stories I heard! So great its made me want to play all your other maps, which are just as good!
This is one of the best maps ever and I hope UnikUnok had as much fun making it as I did playing, good luck in future projects!
I'm glad it's over and I will apologise to you UnikUnok.
Although this review isnt following the guidelines I have come to understad that the map does fit into a totally unique catagory.
I will give a five becase under a different style of review that is what you should recieve as it is a good map.
It would be a good idea to give people a more obviously warning that the stage is more of a move type break than a siege, hopefully something to help deal with these type of maps will be adressed.
[Edited on 02/06/07 @ 06:10 PM]
I know that this map stands 'outside the review guidlines' but I still have to review it! It is such an impressive achievment to have a fully working sea battle! Just brilliant! I have played this map again and agian and it has not lost its touch. Short and sweet, this map is so playable. I did feel that perhaps there could be a few less blue men or a few more enemy but then the battle could drag on too long and some of the enemy could get partailly hidden add it would be frustrating trying to find them all when you only have one archer left! A tough situation but I feel if the map was just a little bit closer then it would have secured the 5. Credit has to go the amazing attention to detail in the map, for example all the catupults having 60 stone and one thing I am still totally amazed by is how you made the map without the enemy and your troops starting the fight while the map making was in progress. What an achievment!
So we come to map design and cretaivity and the score is without doubt a 10 out of 10! A fully working sea battle in a castle sim game... A fairly impressive effort methinks! What a masterpiece, lovely ships (best I have ever seen) and such good design with the catupults in the boats - looks great. So creative and intrictae work from UnikUnok here. Top marks!
The storyline is of course fantastic as usual. I have always thought that you are one of the best story writers around and this is merely more proof. An easy five achieved!
Overall this is a fantastic achievment and hard to fault. I would love to see this same design in a larger sea battle or a mixed battle, land and sea? What about D-Day, I am sure you could make it incredible. But this map is a creative masterpiece and deserves a lot of credit. Congratulations UnikUnok, this is a map everyone should play!
this is just a great map, no bad things to say about it.