This map was kind of fun, moreso on the military portion than anything else. The attacks rose in difficulty like an exponential function. I was not expecting that during the first playthrough, which made me think "Okay. Definitely need to go all-out here". So I did. Anyhow building the defenses I found quite fun. Trying to hold my castle together through the last two attacks was...well, intense I suppose. The last part was a bit boring however. I just made tons of wheat farms, mills, and bakeries and made a bunch of hovels. I had 2700 some extra bread by the time it was over and about 30000 extra gold. The 250 population requirement is a bit unnecessary in my opinion. It just prolongs the level. I recommend knocking down the economic goals in further levels a bit. Also I would recommend making some events after the attacks in further levels to provide the player some actual problems to deal with, like the occasional wolf attack or wheat disease.
Like I said before, the attacks on this map rose in difficulty exponentially. Not having opened up the map editor, I didn't know this. So, after easily fending off the first few attacks I was slaughtered by a huge army because my expectations were low. Because of this I don't think anyone who actually looked at the level beforehand, unless they assumed the worst was to come and they had better be ready in every single way possible from the start, could win it first try. It took me two tries and a bunch of reloading save files to win. In the end, to win I had to make a moat around my castle that required two gatehouses with drawbridges to cross, a bunch of pitch outside the castle, engineers with boiling oil, a double layer of square towers, resulting in about 15 total ballistae, 80-90 archers, 60 or so crossobows, 45 swordsmen, and some pikemen. Oh, and I also had to make a backup layer inside of my castle. This was also moated, but not quite so thickly. The enemy still broke the outer wall, but they died because they kept meandering around afterward.
I thought the map was just a bit too hard. The final attack had over 1000 men in it, along with 20 catapults and 10 trebuchets (although I must note in the second attack most of the siege equipment did not show up. It didn't matter as what did was still sufficient to bust my outer wall). I'm curious as to how long it took the author to beat this map.
Not very creative, as there are plenty of maps like this one, yet not very bland either. I believe that this moves toward the "classic invasion" category, which I think can qualify as creative simply for highlighting and enhancing those basic elements that made Stronghold so appealing for the first playthrough. Mainly this can be found in the size of the attacking army and the required defenses to repel that army. It was a classic 'epic battle', and the AI was able to function through it, although I'm not sure it would be able to on very hard or maybe not even hard.
Map Design: 2
Map design could use some work. Reduction in the blockiness of different patches of rock and other features would benefit this map. Try using the smallest brush size more. Also, make the rivers have less of those weird cascade things. They aren't natural and most likely a result of not wanting to fix them (which in a way I can understand - it's very annoying when water does that ;) ). Also, what's with the random area of min height by the upper left signpost?
Usually I try to go pretty easy on this, but there was basically no story to this except you take the Snake's castle, he wants it back so build your own castle. Try taking some more time on the story.
Not a bad map, although after the military part it's boring.