The map is great fun and very playable. You defend a gigantic castle, complete with towers with ballista, sweeping staircases, and what looks like a complete economy and military support (armorers, ect) After playing it, I believe the buildings were thrown in only for looks. There is no iron available anywhere, even if there was almost everything is turned off (except moat). You never have the chance to make weapons. But there was a tunnelers guild in the castle and I sold off the expensive other buildings (4 stables for example) and then hired mass tunnelers! They actually did a good job on delaying the enemy armor just long enough for the crossbowmen to cut them down.
I liked the balance and timing of the attacks. They came up close to the keep everytime there was an armored charge. The stairs in the smaller defensible courtyard are really useful, most of the fighting took place there. I didnt give this a 5, because the amount of starting troops seems a little out of balance - too many archers spaced out.
I like the castle and how it defends. The enemy tunnelers are dangerous at first. Then its invasion after invasion.
Map Design: 3.5
If there was a market or availablity to build one, then you could buy iron and get the economy started. Then some troops could be built. Also when some of the towers and walls are destroyed, the 'raised' foundation is left and that blocks fields of fire inside. Ill be honest and say I moved everyone back to the stronhold keep when the first wall fell. I used the oil engineers most efficently, but throwing oil that doesnt ignite on the crowded walls, raised land, or stairs is frustrating under enemy fire.
Bare minimum again. I wrote a seige type story a while back:
The fortress palace of Al-Xaim is located on the southern edge of the Great Salt Basin in Alasya, one of the Emirates of Ylaruam. It is a ancient fortification that has withstood centuries of drought, war, famine, and siege. The main defense of the palace is the 70 foot high and 40 foot wide solid granite wall that has no gates or entrances. The only way into the enclosure is to take the winched platform-elevator to the top of the southern wall and walk the 40 feet to the other side. A person wanting access is then lowered to the interior by another elevated platform. The elevators are well guarded. The elevator platforms and winches are broken down and stored safely inside at any sign of danger or invasion. The immense walls of Al-Xaim provide complete protection and a sense of security for the inhabitants that live here in the middle of the harsh Ylaruam desert. In ancient times, the men who guarded the walls carved caves in the top for shelter from sandstorms. The present day guards make use these old caves, but have also set up small tent camps atop the walls, especially near the elevators. Due to the walls, only a small garrison of men-at-arms is staffed, more than enough to fend off a large army from the walls.
The most important feature of the palace of Al-Xaim is the beautiful oasis that is inside the walls. This natural surface spring has been guarded for centuries by the impregnable walls. The oasis provides men and animals with an endless supply of water in times of siege. Date and palm trees, goats, camels, wild desert waterfowl, and manicured vegetable gardens provide a renewable source of food. This makes the palace completely self sufficient and independent of other communities. During times of war Al-Xaim has been shut off from reinforcements and supplies for years, with the inhabitants living their daily lives without worry.
Al-Xaim is located almost midway on the Coast to Ylaruam desert caravan route. For protection and convenience a small entrepreneurial trading community settled outside of the south wall. These merchants happily sell camels, camel meat, dates, coconuts, sugar cane, lizard meat, fuel, and other miscellaneous equipment and supplies. They also trade their most important and valuable commodity: Water. Al-Xaim is a important stopover point for people who are going to make a trip from the coast to the Great Salt Basin and onward to the capital of Ylaruam. All who are traveling the caravan route stop at Al-Xaim to resupply and rest. The capital is more than 140 miles away through the harsh Ylaruam desert.
Lollard's offical "Thumbs Up" and a must play. Get your engineers together, and use tunnelers unless the iron availablity is fixed.
[Edited on 11/25/05 @ 12:14 AM]