Posted on 01/19/06 @ 10:07 PM (updated 01/20/06
"God show us the Light, as far as it is within our power to see the light, to do Your work here on Earth until we are reunited with You in Heaven. Deliver us from our enemies, Bless our crops and industries, and all our enterprises in this treeless, drought-stricken land.
Favor our Campaigns against the Heathen Lord Wolf, and deliver him into our hands. In remission of our sins, and in recognition of Your favor, we offer 100 Score Loaves and 800 carved Stone Blocks. We offer finely tooled weapons, 50 score both Broadswords & Metal Armour.
Further, we shall roast Hops and brew stout Ale & Beer for our subjects, your pious & righteous followers. We shall strive to feed and house them, and raise sufficient Army to fend off the Evil Host which defiles this Blessed Land. We shall not indulge in Pride by over-hoarding Wood, nor Fruit, nor Cheese, nor Wheat. And we do this in Your Holy Name O Lord. Our Cause being Just, God Defend the Right."
This is the prayer the Head Abbot of your Castle Abbey offers on the eve of a small attack by the Wolf, who for years has attempted to seize the prosperous and pious Fortified Isle that is your ancestral Duchy. His destroyed camps, and even a small stone fort, litter the landscape for miles around.
The Wolf is under the thrall of The Holy Roman Emperor, whose diplomats have informed you for a tribute, the Emperor will command the Wolf to stop the invasion. Bread, Stone and Swords and Metal Armour must be manufactured and set aside for the Emperor's emissarries before the attacks overwhelm your limited resources. Your subjects are loyal and industrious, but they do enjoy their Ale. To keep them happy and ensure their continued allegiance, keep their tankards full. And now the adventure begins..
Notes & Tips
(some spoilers- read no further if you do not want inside info before playing)
This scenario is an exercise in strategy and management. The basic premise is achieving economic goals which turn off increasingly frequent and powerful invasions (starting with Archers and Macemen and advancing to Crossbowmen, Pikemen and finally Swordsmen.)2000 Bread, 800 Stone, 100 Swords and 100 Metal Armour with 100% Ale coverage will Turn Off Repeating Invasions. Killing the remaining enemy will Win the game.
The castle is preconstructed and not conducive to alteration. Because of the design, (narrow, spiralling pathways to slow the enemy advance without stalling it, as gateways tend to do) most structures are not available, to forestall the blocking of pathways with Wells or Walls or other structures. Armouries and Granaries are available for increased space for Hard setting Win requirements, but blocking the paths with these would be problematic. Instead, you must choose a combination of 2 defence tactics plus avoiding and using triggered penalties and bonuses to complete the scenario:
1.The dispensation of your forces and drafting of Soldiers
Only these 2 are available, although you can choose to draft Swordsmen which will delay the cessation of invasions due to reducing the stored Swords and Metal Armour. The Castle has been constructed with many different possible configurations of defence. You can choose to assail the defenders at their starting points, or frontally at the entrance, or deeper within the 'spiral'. The position of Archers versus Crossbowmen is crucial. You can also replace Engineers and Ballistae, or replace with Mangonels. You have a 'cavalry' of mounted Knights which can come riding to the rescue, but you would be well advised to save it until the final extremity. A small squad both Pikesmen and Swordsmen has been included as an Honour Guard of the last resort for the Lord. If you can conserve a few mounted Knights they will be handy for cleaning up stragglers after Invasions end. Crossbowmen are regulated by the pace of manufacture of Leather Armour and Crossbows (you are given 25 each to start), but you may purchase Bows for unlimited Archers.
However, while the 30,000 Gold may seem like a profligate amount of cash, you may find that regulating your economy and buying other resources will preclude over-buying of Bows and Archers, as well as the slow pace of re-population. Destroying some non-essential industries can free up draftees.
2. Pitch Ditches and Killing Ditches
These can substantially thin out the massive, and increasingly dangerous, invasions. However, there are natural and contrived restrictions on their use. First, there is the fact that unlike Archers and Crossbowmen, they are not durable. Once they are used, they are gone. Pitch is only obtainable through a single Pitch Rig, so your Ditches and Engineers with Hot Oil must be placed for maximum efficiency and used at the optimum second to stop the massive invasions that will recur after 5-6 years.
Killing Pits are limited by several factors: first, there are few trees on the map so you can expect little help from Woodcutters. Instead, you can buy Wood, but this is a real drain on Gold, besides which there is a nasty trigger if you accumulate too much Wood, plus you must be careful not to deprive your Fletchers of Wood while hurridly placing the Killing Pits and returning to the Market to buy more Wood. You will soon discover the most effective placement path, but this is complicated by the fact that you cannot build too close to enemy, and pesky Macemen will spring your traps right before massive Swordsmen invasions, and placing traps deep within the spiral and allowing enemies to penetrate too far within your Castle will not protect your citizens walking the paths. The same holds true for Pitch, you cannot re-lay Pitch Ditches too close to enemy, also you must calculate position so as not to kill your own citizens moving about your fortified city.
Another complication; the narrowness of paths can sometimes make it difficult to target and ignite the Ditches quickly. As the increasing invasions will deplete your men-at-arms through attrition faster than you can replace them, you need to accomplish the economic goals as soon as possible to stop invasions. Merely treading water will result in a loss, as you run out of money and soldiers while the invasions increase. Therefore, allowing peasants to do their work and setting defences accordingly is essential. The steps behind the interior gates facilitate movement, but if the enemy does break them down they will have a short route to the Stronghold, so destroying them yourself is an option.
There are no arbitrary Auto-Stop events except for the Archers Arriving at the beginning. All events are calculated to force you to manage your Castle for optimum efficiency of Gold and Food and other commodities, keeping your Popularity above 50 while not depleting your resources. If you prefer to turn off Food consumption to let Food Stocks build up, beware. Overstocking of Wood, Cheese, Fruit or Wheat will result in recurring penalties that may make winning impossible. The Wood limit (300) is especially dangerous, as a Fire in the wrong spot will render you unable to win (Armouries and Graneries are rebuildable, but the chance of a Fire confined to only those 2 places is probably slim). Also, there are substantial penalties for Your Troops Killed. All events are tied to logical triggers (too much Wood, Fire risk; too many casualties in an enclosed fortress, Plague, etc.)
There are also Popularity bonuses triggered by accomplishing 25%, 50% and 75% of the economic goals. These can be used to reduce bribes paid, increase taxes to replenish Treasury, and temporarily reduce food requirements if skillfully managed, thereby again maximizing your Gold and Food resources. You can choose to keep the +2 Pleasant effects, or increase efficiency by knocking them down, but you cannot build more Good or Bad Things. You may trade almost all commodities not included in the Win goals for added Gold, or you may buy Food, according to your economic strategy.
The map is not locked if you wish to view the various penalties and triggers.
From the initial arrival of and placement of Archers, to the management of Food and Gold, to the placement of Ditches and Pits, to the monitering of Wood, Cheese, Fruit and Wheat to avoid penalties, this scenario won't allow you much time to sit around watching the action, not-withstanding there is little or no construction involved. The Castle design was based on rounded corners and circular motion, symmetry and lively gameplay. There are many ways to try to beat the scenario and the relative non-predictability of events and triggers, along with varying defence strategies help make the scenario worth playing many times. Even the Wolf's comments are triggered by benchmarks; taunts by Your Troops Killed (slightly before triggering misfortunes) and anger by Enemy Troops Killed (again, alerting you to Popularity bonuses upcoming).
Hopefully the attractiveness of construction and landscape detail will also add to your gameplaying experience. The 'dirt' floor of many of the wall towers was necesary to avoid unsightly 'creasing' of the circular walls, but all areas are accessable and were devised to give a different look to the central Fortress and make it an integral part of the Castle and its defences, rather than a stand-alone structure located in a safe spot far removed from battle. Instead, it is the Heart of your defence and the surrounding structures and pathways a vital part of your defence strategy. The scenario should be considered difficult, but is far from impossible.
The possiblity of added Granaries and Armouries makes a win on Hard possible, although existing structures could probably hold the necessary resources.
Bon Chance, Chevalier.
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It was quite fun to play, though became a little tedious towards the end, wanting to win not only for the satisfaction of winning but to get the map over with so the Wolf's annoyances will cease.
Pretty well balanced; it took me two tries (discounting one where I hadn't read and my cow farms burned to the ground) to beat but I beat it pretty easily the second time.
Very creative with both the story and style of play it creates.
Map Design: 4
As DS_M said, there were random water features which made no sense to me. Very shrubby and rocky; designed not so much for aesthetics but more for directing the enemy. Could have blended in better.
Good story; helpful instructions. A slightly generous 5, but it deserves more than a 4. No 4.5s for SH1...
Sorry for taking so long to get around to it.