The Barbarian warlord Alaric is traveling home with Romans hot on his tail, bearing bows and ale for his king. Only to find his home changed and the world as well, a new enemy advances from the east, too mighty to defeat. There's no other option than to prepare to journey southward, to the safety of the banks of the river Danube.
Objectives: (normal difficulty)
*Aquire 500 ale.
*Aquire 1000 bread.
This map spans for roughly 20 gameyears and you'll have to defend your hillfort from Roman and Barbarian invasions while simultanuously gathering the goods needed to win. I haven't been able to beat the map at very hard but have playtested it at hard. Please play and rate the map at a difficulty setting appropriate to your skill level. Should you decide to review this map, please only rate part II. I have included an updated version of part I but this is only for the convenience of those that want to (re)play it.
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Wow, great fun here! The start of the map caught me up by surprise with those attacking mangonels and was a blast! The small keep was very interesting to defend with some key weak points. I ran out of wolod on a couple ocasions but that`s mainly my fault, not the map. And heck you need a big granary to store all that bread! The 4 is mainly due to it not being a noob-friendly map (and that`s hardly a problem ;) )
Very nice, I could beat the map on Normal after a second trial. I`m not a very experienced player (especially after reading Bernard Cornwell`s Archer series, I trusted too much on my archers). The game escalated well and kept me busy all the times, very good.
You truly deserve a 10+ here. The keep with those earth mounds in front is just brilliant, and the king`s personal guard is just awesome. I`m truly inspired by your work.
Map Design: 5
What can I say, also a 10+. Every aspect of the map is very clearly thought out and brilliantly executed. Use of advanced building tools that I have no idea of how to reproduce (magic erasers? Snow? And I though I was good :P )
I`m sorry I didin`t read the whole thing, but rather parafrased (is that a word in english?). The maps are well documented and the text is well executed as far as I can tell.
The part I is really awesome as well, I didin`t play it yet, but it sure looks interesting. Took me a while to actually realise that was a giant tree stump, definatelly cool.
Part II in the Ancient Oak series of maps is another stunning scenario from the master of creativity and with the most active, vivid imagination creating stunning scenarios such as this, compiling a review is actually tricker than it seems! In terms of playability, what we have here is, in essence, a simple eco-vasion map, with a few twists thrown in for good measure. Now, whilst this seems like an over-simplification of a truly awe-inspiring map, i'm writing this in the hope that newer people to the world of map design won't be put off by the works of Lord Ako. The economic goals are tricky to meet on normal difficulty setting, and very taxing on hard setting, based on my average abilities. The gem of this map is that you can play it on any setting you wish, depending on your own level of skill. This review is based on the hard setting, as per the author's intentions.
The scenario launches with some defending of your settlement (hillfort) to contend with, and if you read the instructions that accompany the zip file (which you must, before you begin to play the map), you will be conscious of the economic goals that must be met whilst this is going on. The macemen provided are sufficient in quantity to take out the ballista cleverly placed on the ground, with a few spare to attack the advancing swordsmen, or at least weaken them. Throughout the scenario, invasions increase in size and effectiveness. Do not underestimate the defence of your hillfort! You will need a fairly large population in place to ensure all production buildings (breweries, bakeries, etc) are manned and working to full efficiency. The map was, for me, completely bug-free and ran smooth, all events working as intended and, without doubt, this is a polished scenario from start to finish.
The only dropped score for the whole scenario occurs here, with a (very strong) 4 out of 5 awarded. The temptation to award a full 5 out of 5 is difficult to avoid, but i'm aware that with advanced map making such as this, the player may be put off slightly by what is required to win. It's a shame to only give 4 here for what is a very clever map, and as stated above, i'd recommend this to anyone, no matter what skill level. Playability is, on the whole, extremely good, with massive replayability thrown in.
Without a doubt, balance is very much a subjective topic. Finding something that appeals to all skill levels is virtually impossible, yet Ancient Oak II pulls it off. The notes clearly state that this is probably more for someone with experience, and should be noted as such. However, I found the invasions to be just what they should be: difficult, with work to do to ensure you defend as best you can, and with some losses to contend with. The swordsmen are very difficult to take down at the start, no matter how many archers you have. Added to that are rams which should not be ignored; you will need to be actively looking for best approaches to defend the hillfort. Things really spice up as the scenario progresses, with ever-increasing invasions coming at you from both sides (effective use of signposts noted). Added to the military side of the scenario is the economic goals, with brewery production needed in large qualtities. Once again, don't underestimate how many buildings you will need to place!
The scenario as a whole is a lesson in advanced map making, and especially the balance of attacks combined with eco goals. Wonderfully addictive!
There is absolutely no way this map could get anything other than a 5 out of 5. Every scenario by Lord Ako is awash with new ideas and current trends in scenario design. My favourite feature here is the way the attacking units bypass your lord and head for the keep behind you (which you don't control, but must defend at the same time). I've never seen this on a map before, and it opens up endless possibilites for future scenarios. The hillfort idea is a difficult one to pull off, something that could easily look like a palisade settlement, but this is unique and extremely well done. Another often overlooked feature is the seamless way part I moves to part II and the relevence the first instalment plays. Combined with the correct placement of snow on the eastern flanks of the hills, the choice of units, the protected areas using the frozen tiles technique and the inability to grow wheat (note the bread requirement), this all adds up to a work of art in itself.
Map Design: 5
Ditto my first line comment from creativity; the hillfort looks and, more importantly you could argue, feels like a hillfort settlement. Each structure is placed in almost exact replication of established settlement finds. The entrance to the site is wonderfully recreated. The landscape does look a bit barren, but there is a reason for this, and quite rightly so. I must comment on the previous review that additional resource are needed: they aren't! Limiting resources is a feature that should be considered far more often in map design, for this adds to the playability and balance aspect, among others. There's nothing worse than a map with acres of iron ore placed across wide tracts of the landscape, or huge areas of stone plonked in random areas. The resulting landscape is suitably bleak, almost barren in places, and this is exactly what the author intended.
Within the zip file is a wealth of information, including a fascinating storyline and some clear instructions from the author explaining why the map takes the shape and form it does. There are hints included for those that get a little stuck and an excellent historical section. Too often, this element of scenario design is overlooked. Lord Ako has provided exactly what you need in order to play, and understand, the map before you, with the content more than sufficient and written in such a way as to appeal to just about everyone. I would strongly recommend everyone to take time to read the information contained within the zip file, and understand how the map is meant to be played.
Put simply, this is a real gem of a map. Nobody creates such varied, yet specific scenarios as Lord Ako, and nobody pushes the boundaries of the editor further. I strongly recommend that everyone, no matter what skill level, downloads this and enjoys it for what it is. Brilliant.
Well, Lord Ako is back with a bang.
Once again, he has demonstrated his ability to create a map for any skill level, giving both beginners and pros a great challenge. The Eco-goals are easily met on Easy, attainable on Normal (albeit a challenge), irritatingly difficult on Hard, and a downright pain in the a** on Very Hard (going by my testing of this map). Bouncing off Sulis' comments, no matter what your skill, this map will be an enjoyable playing experience.
In the terms of balance, a rare perfect. You start out with what seems to be an easy to defend fort on a hilltop. It seems you have enough soldiers to defend against the initial attacks, and the location seems to be easy to defend (height advantage). Note how I use the word "seems". Under NO circumstances should you let your guard down. Do not overestimate the defensive capability of your fort; it can (and will if you're not prepared) fall to enemy invasions. Make use of every resource and structure given to you if you want to succeed. When the first invasions struck, it didn't seem (again the word "seem") to be much to be concerned with. I quickly learned that no matter how many archers I have, the swordsmen are going to be a pain in my, um, side. The use of siege equipment by the enemy was perfect, no aparent flaws on any difficulty level. It kept me on my toes at all times.
As for creativity, I agree with Sulis. There is no reason this map should be given less than a 5. Once again, Lord Ako has demonstrated his prowess at scenario construction. At first I loved the way the enemy ignored my lord, and went straight for the keep behind me. I chuckled and thought, "Ha! What stupid AI!".......I learned I was stupid. After clearing out the keep behind me, they attacked my lord. At the same time, my front defenses crumbled, and I was surrounded. Total defending troops? 10 archers and 3 macemen. Bye-bye Lord Karpathea.........
Moving on. Map design is exquisite. Another great masterpiece from Ako, with his use of snow tiles cleverly blocking the low ground where you are supposed to grow wheat. Uh-uh, not happening. The fort itself is perfectly placed and designed. It looks like a real fort, or rather, how one should have looked for this time period. The terrain itself had the bleak, dead, and rotting landscape you would expect for this map. Again, I agree with Sulis: There is NO need for extra resources. I would rather have this sort of a map than one where I can't move two tiles without bumping into a ton of resources.
A great wealth of knowledge greated me as I opened the zip file. Once again, Lord Ako has done a brilliant job of providing what you need, and then some just for the h*** of it. It would be well worth the time spent reading it over.
Lord Ako left after two excellent viking maps, and the heavens wept (ok, not really). Now he is back with what I would say is his greatest triumph yet. To all designers out there, this is a must-have for any strongholder. Glad to have you back with us, Ako. Kudos, and keep designing!
P.S. I am psyched about the new Viking map. If you need help playtesting it, send it to me. I would be happy to assist.
[Edited on 02/19/07 @ 03:23 PM]