Since antiquity, marble is highly appreciated as a building material for architecture and it has been used in manifold variations for the adornments of innumerable religious or royal buildings. Marble is a crystallizing limestone, snow-white or in various colours and patterns, being composed of iron, graphite, quartz, mica, garnet and other ingredients. The most important deposits of marble on our planet we find in Austria, Germany, Italy (Carrara) and Greece.
Well, our story plays in the second decade of the 13th century, in Italy. Once there was a wealthy, but eccentric Lord in the Tuscany, named Fabio di Toscannelli, who was well-known even in the neighbouring countries, because of his escapades and exceptional interests. A slim grown up man, 44 years old and being loved by all the young women of the Italian aristocracy. That’s why he was called “Bellissimo”, too. Obviously, Lord Toscannelli himself loved all the women in a seductive manner, so that he got the reputation of being a kind of “Casanova”. Besides everybody noticed his remarkable passion of collecting weapons, although he hated wars and preferred only the comfortable things in life. However, his collection of pikes and lancets was ranked as unique and spectacular. Furthermore, Lord Toscannelli lived in idleness most of the day preaching his philosophy “dolce far niente”, that means, “How sweet it is to do nothing”. He even tried to sweeten the lives of his poor and plain subjects by remitting the taxes for several months or by inviting the population to his pompous banquets full of bear and wine. Not only for this reason, people loved this showily dressed man. They highly esteemed his outstanding intelligence and his daily care for the common weal.
Toscannelli’s Castle totally erected of pure white marble, twinkling in the hot midday sun like a lighthouse even through the nights when the ships were passing by the Italian shores. Everybody admired this castle as an art of work and even the Pope himself in Rome had paid attention to it. Therefore, it wasn’t astonishing at all that Lord Toscannelli was called for an audience to talk about the secrets of marble. The result of this meeting was a profitable deal: The “Holy Father” ordered a gigantic amount of that valuable marble to alter different segments of the Vatican’s Palace. Of course there were many enviers on the scene who couldn’t understand why the Pope had chosen such a Casanova, sluggard and worthless, like Lord Toscannelli. One of the most insidious adversaries, Duke Vittorio Di Ravenna, (the Snake) was collaborating with criminal bandits, as everybody knew, had announced resistance to that uncommon deal…
Some notes and hints:
This map should be well playable on normal and hard, but it’s a real challenge on very hard, maybe impossible. Be careful with the consumption of food; use your initial quantity of gold wisely. There isn’t much wood in the Tuscany those times, please use it sparingly. Train enough crossbowmen to optimize your defensive situation and try to protect your hops farm to guarantee a constant hops supply. I have placed a few hovels in enemy’s colour just for decoration, if you want to, you can destroy them.
Good luck and enjoy! Comments and ratings are always welcome!
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Very nice economic scenario which plays almost like an invasion. The constant raids are a continuing problem, as is food supply, but judicious use of available industry can compensate.
Playability is excellent. I don't give out 5s very often, but when I do, I feel they were deserved. The cramped conditions make setting up an economy difficult, so creative use of available real estate is a must.
Balance might have received a 5 on a map I enjoyed this much, but I'm taking a point off because I managed to win on Very Hard 80 months early. Almost not a challenge. Other than that, the race to raise an effective defense force with almost no fortifications available is a real test of efficiency. The wolves proved to be little more than a minor annoyance after a while.
Creativity and Map Design each get a 4 as well. The market commodities and available industries are nicely balanced, with almost nothing superfluous in the way. I would suggest disabling Bow and Spear production, since bowmen and spearmen aren't available at the barracks, you can't sell them, and they're the defaults on those weapons buildings.
Story was excellent, and in fact was what led me to dl this map in the first place.
All in all, a very enjoyable map, which requires some very creative thinking to win at Very Hard (yes, it's possible. Ask me and I'll tell you how I did it.) Excellent job.
If only more maps were as good as this! Marblemania is a cracking little economic map with your goal to achieve a significant amount of stone (marble, for the purposes of this map) among others. The map starts immediately with some defensive work against attacking troops, and it really helps to defend as many of your structures as possible. With plenty of bandit raids, I found there was always something to do and every time I play, no matter what difficulty, the map seems to take on new dimensions with different tactics. I've played this many, many times over the past few weeks and it's a scenario with bags of replayability. Great stuff!
Hard to fault, so I won't! The option to play across various levels of difficulty depending on your own skills and experience is very, very hard to accommodate for the majority of maps. Marblemania allows such an approach, maybe partly due to the relative simplicity of the scenario, and for that i'm impressed. The badit attacks are perfectly sized to cause disruption to your approach to the game. With limited trees on the map, and therefore another area to continuously monitor, balance across all aspects of the scenario was excellent. You're also limited in terms of space available, so prudent castle management is in order.
The score here is influenced by the story content and the map design, both of which are excellent and supported with comments below, but creativity here is also based on Stratego's ability to condense a quite intense, busy map into a small package. A different castle layout to the norm, which is extremely appealing to the eye, and befits the storyline. Simple things, such as having the granary isolated from the castle area, spices things up and I was constantly wary that bandits may destroy it. Food is precious throughout this scenario!
Map Design: 5
The landscape modelling is extremely good, and I really like the simple ditch effect around the castle. The small area for the hops farm at the foot of the cliffs is very well done. With so much marble to accumulate, it's difficult not to place significant amounts of stone on the map. As above, the castle is very well done, quite intricate and an interesting design. I have a real soft spot for small maps when they are done well. This is probably the best of the lot. Well done!
Excellent, with a clear and well written introduction to the scenario and the reasons why the author has designed the map in this way. Content is sufficient in length, well written, clear and concise. Proof to everyone that you don't need masses of information to justify a goos score.
I love this map. This, to me, is what Stronghold is all about; a great little economics scenario, plenty to keep you amused, quite a challenge and looks great. Excellent work, Stratego! Although submitted a while ago now, hopefully this review will bring to light an older map to the forefront of the current crop of designers. Great stuff!