As you hear the news of your brother's capture, you quickly assemble your army and prepare to march against the Duke the Hobblescorn, who is held up in his mountain fortress to the east of the Hazy Pine Forest. Upon reaching the western edge of the Hazy Pine Forest, your scouts inform you that a hostile force loyal to the Duke has occupied a stronghold that blocks your path of advancement. Your military advisors suggest capturing this stronghold to use as a staging point for your push into the heart of Hobblescorn.
Make haste, and capture the stronghold at all cost. Your brother's life is at stake.
This is another straight-forward siege map from the author, designed to be played as an attacker (according to the general theme of the story). A definite improvement on earlier efforts, you find yourself faced with another march to reach the castle which is better defended and needs a more pragmatic approach. There are two options available here: storm the gatehouses and march through, or shift your troops up to the higher ground to the north of the castle, which is what I did. The elevation of the ground gives real advantage to the attacker, and I was able to pick off some of the large towers, allowing fairly easy access to the keep area. This affected playability somewhat. I'd also recommend setting as many units, including ballista and mangonels, to an aggressive stance to make them much more effective.
Balance is generally fine, especially if you play with the default troops on the normal setting. If it wasn't for the ability to use the higher ground near the north of the castle to your advantage (see comments above), the balance could be improved upon. That said, the map still plays out quite well and works even better on hard or very hard setting for more experienced players. Reviewed on normal setting, balance is a deserved 3/5.
A difficult category to score and comment on, but once again the designer has done the basics quite well, playing along the lines of a classic siege map in an open landscape. The map would have benefitted from some creative thinking and thus offered the opportunity to increase the score.
Map Design: 3
The castle is quite well modelled and looks realistic enough, again serving a function and purpose more than looking visually stunning. The landscape is fine, the raised areas are reasonably well modelled, but we are still left with large, unused areas of flat ground with minimal detail. Landscape modelling takes time, and plenty of practice, and I would encourage the designer to concentrate more on submitting a scenario with a well modelled landscape, thereby releasing fewer maps, but more quality overall.
The story is predominantly on the download description page, and suits the purpose of the map well enough. A better score could be considered for more effort, content and maybe some designer's notes (i.e. your thoughts on the making of the map) included within the zip file.
A fairly good siege map, works well enough and could appeal to a number of skill levels. The designer is clearly improving in the map making skills area with each submission. Keep up the good work!