The Taiga. It’s the biggest connected wooded area on this earth, with a latitude of 600 miles (1000 km) and a length of 3000 miles (4800 km). The word “Taiga” is the Russian designation for the north Russian and Siberian coniferous forest belt, reaching from the White Sea to the Ochotskish Sea, partially on permanently frosty soil or on swampy ground. There are many legendary stories telling us about the huge and impenetrable forests. Just a few people are living in these rough countrysides, which are full of dangers for civilian life. The hard climatic conditions demand a special adaptability of all inhabitants. Till in our days many areas of that kind remained unexplored and nobody exactly knows how many mysteries and mineral resources are still laying there in secret. Our story plays in the northern Taiga, where the dark forests turn into the Tundra, another geographic zone almost without trees.
We write the year 1110, A D. We’re located in the northern Finmark, where once lived in peace the well-behaved Finnish tribes, headed by a brave and fair man whose name was Angvard. Those peaceful times abruptly came to an end when Mongolian hordes from the southern steppe invaded the Finmark over night and began ruthlessly to round up the reindeer herds of the local population. The Mongolian ruler, Aga Khan who was well known as the frightful “Snake” sent out his men all over the land capturing those reindeers, necessary as a stable food supply for his martial conquests. However, the Fins were suffering from threatening famines because of these Mongolian raids. Aga Khan also ordered to arrest all people who were fighting back. Among other things, these scoundrels succeeded in kidnapping Angvard’s 22 years old daughter Lupina. Aga Khan, the Snake, threatened to keep the young Finnish princess as a slave unless Angvard paid the demanded ransom of 2200 pieces of gold, 100 for each age. Angvard, the tribal ruler convened all his closest advisers discussing the next steps.
Angvard announced the following 10 unanimous measures:
1. Use all possible resources like iron or pitch to get the necessary ransom for paying the release of Princess Lupina.
2. Produce spears, useful to go fishing as long as the reindeers are caught in enemy’s hands.
3. Produce warm leather clothing protecting you against the frosty temperatures in long winter nights, because we’re currently suffering from the lack of reindeer coats.
4. Fortify your settlements for being safe against bandits or wild animals.
5. Send out couriers to the southern provinces asking for help. We urgently need archers who have to assist us against the Mongolian invaders. We aren’t in a position to produce bows and arrows, because our local wood isn’t suitable at all to create weapons like that.
6. Sell all the grain in our stockpiles before eaten up by mice. Buy flour for our bakeries. The Mongols have destroyed our mills and we are not able to rebuild them this time.
7. Cultivate our special ice apples, which are very resistant and try to free the reindeers to produce salt meat.
8. Mobilize your strength to defeat the enemy at all costs.
9. Beware of those hungry wolves and bears roaming through the forests, because they will be more dangerous if they don’t find any prey in the woods.
10. Be in good spirits; rescue all imprisoned miners and engineers, we need every single man to achieve all objectives…
…God bless you!
This eco-map is locked and is designed to play on normal. For more challenge, try it on hard or very hard. You’ve got about 20 game years available to fulfil the demanded goals. Use tunnelers and engineers, too. You soon will notice how useful they will be for different tasks. By the way, did you ever think about the fighting abilities of tunnelers?
Food supply might be a constant problem if you’re careless, but the earlier the reindeers will be released the better it will be for you. If you mark 1000 pieces of gold in your treasury, you will get reinforcements. You cannot build up additional huts; your initial population maximally counts 32 peasants you have to use wisely through the game.
As always, good luck and enjoy!
Comments are welcome.
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When I saw this new economic map by Stratego I expected that it would be finely-honed and challenging and I was not disappointed. Taiga Woods presents a well sculpted landscape of rocky ground and birch trees, hungry wolves and bears, ice cold streams plunging down to the sea where…are those icebergs (?)… drift just off shore. I especially liked the detail in the rocky stream bed that runs up through the middle of the map. The eroded bank near the ruins at the bottom of the page is quite realistic.
This is a primitive culture of wood. Only a smattering of stone construction is to be found in the retaining walls of the “prison pit.” The enemy camp is also appropriately austere. The outer ring of wood poles with impaled heads speaks of the enemy’s ruthlessness. Map Design – 4.5
The setting and feeling of the map fit in well with the story. Stratego includes a brief lesson in geography before launching into the fictional story which adds believability and makes the game more interesting. It reminds me of his earlier map Pestilentia. Story – 4
Don’t sit down with this game and expect to finish in an hour (or two). There are many challenges along the way that must be overcome and many conditions to be met before victory will be yours. I played the game through three or four times with many restarts from saved games before I finally won – and it was all great fun. If one strategy doesn’t work, there are always others to try. It is expertly balanced and obviously thoroughly playtested with no bugs that I could see. Balance – 5, Playability – 5.
Overall a very well put together challenge combining story, map and gameplay to create a believable world and plausible conflict of man against nature and man against man. Creativity – 4.5 (I will round up)
I highly recommend this map. It goes on my list of top ten eco-strategy games.
This proved to be a trickier map than I first thought it would be. You are faced with some fairly daunting economic goals to meet as well as a degree of warfare by attacking the settlement in the upper right corner of the map. Bandit attacks are fairly heavy and can cause some major disruption to your food chain. With a number of aspects to consider, I found the map to be extremely playable and gripping throughout. My average ability meant I chose to play on the normal difficulty setting, and finished with one month to go! This is an absorbing economic map with plenty to do and different approaches can be considered to add longevity to the scenario.
The author has commented within the download pack that the scenario should be played on normal difficulty setting, with more experienced players able to tackle a hard or very hard setting. The normal setting is just about right, with the win criteria never easily reached. Managing your food is always at the back of your mind throughout the scenario and those bandits can really cause a headache as their numbers are plenty! The gold requirement can seem steep in the early years of the map, but careful management from the beginning meant I was sitting comfortably towards the latter third of the scenario. Overall, the map is very well balanced, each win criteria is more than possible but requires work. Considering that you can tackle this on a more difficult setting means it should appeal to all levels of skill.
I really like these economic scenarios that don't just focus on resource collecting! Bonus points are definitely deserved for including win criteria that means you will use most of the map to meet them, such as eliminating all enemy units and using limited but vital resources to sell for gold. Rescuing some of your stranded troops was a nice touch, as was the thought that at some point, a fire would break out within your settlement... but when? I'm not telling, so think about building placement from the start. Whilst this map was nothing new, it concentrated on what Stronghold is good at and was delivered very well.
Map Design: 3
The terrain modelling was generally well done with reasonably careful use of the terrain tools. Whilst rather more functional than aesthetically pleasing, it did mean that you will explore all corners and for that reason I felt the author did a very good job. There were some nice touches, the river and valley towards the bottom of the map looked good. The impression of a tundra landscape was certainly there, even without editor tricks to place false 'snow'.
The story provided was adequate, but lacking a little in substance and quantity. It provided a perfectly acceptable introduction to the map before I began playing it though, and the hints were useful. There is nothing negative about this part of the map, the story is simple enough and easy to understand, painting a picture of what the designer wanted to achieve through the scenario. Only quantity and a little lack of substance is needed, but good nonetheless.
Taiga Woods is an extremely playable map, very addictive and lends itself to all kinds of skill levels and tactical approaches. It's well presented, well conceived and a strong recommendation for an honest, challenging map.