The Pandora Archipelago, or, Pick Your Poison
The Pandora Archipelago, a mysterious series of islands loosely connected by bridges and earthen walkways. You've long heard tales of its strange inhabitants from the sailors in your father's kingdom, back from the sea:
The powerful wizard, Lord Lycan, who makes potions from the plants in his domain to aid his people and keep them from illness.
The Lords Serpentine and de Truffe, who, after years of loss of life due to the wolves and bears, have now managed to keep them at bay.
And the evil Lord Ratty, whose cruelty to his own people knows no bounds.
Now you are going to the Pandora Archipelago on a quest that, should you succeed, will win you the hand of your beloved, Princess Penelope. The Princess has heard tales of her own regarding the islands, including one about a rare oil, which when mixed with particular herbs and flower petals, renders a fantastic perfume. She has declared that if you can obtain this oil for her, then she will consent to be your bride.
Willing to go to the ends of the earth to satisfy the slightest whim of the Princess, you at once readied a ship. Right before setting sail, the Princess came to the dock, her pesky younger brother, Prince Percival, in tow. Thinking she was there to bid you a fond farewell, you were slightly surprised when instead she requested a gift for her brother. A sword, forged from the pure iron of the islands. Ah well, that should be no problem, you think, as you hasten to reassure her that her wish is your command.
You set sail with your ship, but just before you reach the Archipelago, a terrible storm arises, tossing your ship to and fro before dashing it against the rocks. You manage to escape the wreckage with a handful of your crew. Thanking God that you have been spared, you and your fellow survivors hastily construct a shelter and survey the land... only to have the horrible realization that you have ended up on the far side of the islands from where you sought to land. To win the hand of the Princess, you will now have to traverse the Archipelago. Which way to go?
This map is a quest with both military and economic aspects, rather than a true invasion or economic map. The choices you make as you go on your quest will determine what happens during gameplay.
I hope you enjoy it!
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Pick Your Poison
The first time, when I saw this impressive mini-map of Lady Kester’s new creation “Pick Your Poison”, I was immediately attracted by its fascinating design. Besides, I’ve been deeply honoured to serve as a play tester, and I wasn’t disappointed at all.
This interesting map represents a fantastic, imaginative archipelago, where cultivated and colonized islands are varying with wild and “untouched” islands, populated by bears, wolves, and deer. The whole construct conveys a general impression of living in a world of peace in harmony with nature, but that’s a fallacy.
Your starting position is located on a small northeastern island and you slowly begin to build up a well-functioning colony that has to expand with regard to the demanded objectives. It’s on you, to put some puzzles together for a successful finishing. At first sight, two of these victory conditions (1 pitch and 1 sword!) are seemingly easy to achieve, but these basic goals will keep you busy for a long time. Especially the decisive pitch-goal requires all your strategic abilities, because the swampy pitch deposits are located far away on a long island south-west of the map. However, all natural connecting ways are under control of the four well-known opponents, the Rat, the Pig, the Snake, and the Wolf. All these islands are connected, partially by man made bridges or natural narrow land bridges, and you have to decide which way to go. You can select one of three main routes, and each of them will be an adventure of its own…
I’ve played the map twice (with a lot of saved games) on normal. In my first attempt, I checked the situation to find out a proper strategy for a successful proceeding. Of course, a population of 60 souls needs more living space and food, so that you have to expand conquering new farmland for your hungry subjects, and to keep them happy all the time, unless there weren’t your four unfriendly neighbours…
Attention! Eliminating these hostile Lords might cause some specific negative consequences (bad events). For that reason, be careful! You’ll be busy stabilizing your economy and strengthening your military power, necessary to extend your space of influence. Fun is guaranteed here, and on the one hand, you’ll feel as a pathfinder and on the other hand as a conqueror, who has to adapt to the permanently changing conditions on his advance.
It’s simply great! You are absolutely free to develop as you like, but I’ve noticed one oddity: When my spearmen (uncontrolled aggressive posture!) destroyed the access of one wooden bridge, the regular way back home for my pitch diggers seemed to be bared. Now, what happened? My pitch-diggers oddly enough produced loads of pitch without returning to my stockpile, and after a short while, my stockpile was full of pitch tubs, as if by magic! (A bug?!)
Well, balance is difficult to rate here and it depends on your subjective experience while playing this special type of an eco-map. With regard to the military and economic side, you have specifically to go forward and always keeping an eye on the time limit. In my opinion, the total space of time is spacious enough and might be shortened by 5 or 6 game years, because I finished the scenario with 149 months left.
The ferocious wolves hanging around on the neighbouring island didn’t bother me at all. I’ve found a funny method to set these beasts on the Red Lord’s men, very effective to eliminate a few enemies…
The bears trotting around inside the ruins on the northwestern island didn’t affect me and became an affair for my hunters after the Pig’s death. One dozen of my archers assisted by a few engineers (shields, catapults, and trebuchets) were sufficient rapidly forcing my way through the hostile domains. Kester recommends erecting some wells, but fortunately, fires did not break out all the time. I suppose this harm hasn’t been triggered, because I eventually avoided different actions which are combined with this special bad event. Anyway, I’m generous and give 4 points for balance.
The idea, the concept and the layout of an archipelago, composed of various conditions and danger zones, is great. I think, it’s a kind of a jigsaw puzzle teaching us how to create exceptional maps of high standards.
Map Design: 5
I was enthusiastic about the perfect and lovely design of a fascinating net of islands impressing by its naturalness. I liked the bizarre and rough coastlines and I was repeatedly seduced to pause whilst the game watching this work of art. The Snake’s strong castle I observed suspiciously and I just eliminated a few hostile archers on the walls to secure the transport ways of my diligent peasants who were passing by.
Lady Kester presents us a funny, well-corresponding, and imaginative story expressing the humour and the fantasy of an established map designer. It is an exemplary product with high entertainment value.
Yeah, another masterpiece from Kester’s creative map-kitchen…and a great enjoyment!
Don’t miss it!
A few map glitches, but mostly good.
As Stratego pointed out, proper resolution of the wolf population makes life much easier. Other than that, victory was in no real doubt.
Better use of events might have gotten a five.
Map Design: 5
I love the archipelago idea. Although the liberal placement of rocks presented problems for my cattle production.
Better than most. But it had little to do with actual play.
Once you get past the novelty of the archipelago map, there is nothing much special about this scenario. But it is playable, with no real game killers, so I tend to be generous here.
Well I must say first that this map is a very novel change to the average map that you see. A very good idea is behind it, I strongly recommend you play it.
It was great fun, a very nice tactical challenge. I enjoyyed taking out the enemy forts one by one. It was hard, yet it was really worth it. There were also some very amusing moments, like when the Pig got killed by the Wolf, literally. The thing I really found hard was taking down the Snake. I lost so many troops that I just packed up and left, leaving him with half a castle. There just wasnt enough room to actually get a good shot at him, which I found frustrating. Still, no map is perfect...... The Rat got slaughtered, I being very careful to ensure the bad things were the last things I got rid of. I just built walls to block of the Wolf and posted archers on it to warn him off.
I was limited, yet not handicapped in what I could do. As I mentioned in playability, I thought that the snake was just a bit too powerful due to the fact he had stone walls and an entire town. The rest I could take down with a just a bit of a struggle.The fires were rather too destructive for my liking, killing about 15 of my troops and 10 of my buildings.
This idea is extremely unique. Sure there are other island maps but in this one there are a number of very good twists in tale.
Map Design: 4
A very nice looking design to this, The islands looked very realistic and were very practical. I liked the look of the little communties around the map and the narrow bridges linking one island to the next
I loved the story it was a very good idea, made sense and fit very well with the map.
Thank you for this map, it was good fun. D_R_