Posted on 03/11/07 @ 02:15 PM (updated 03/14/07
It was a noble experiment. “Cover a ship with metal and it will be invulnerable to attack” the Emperor said, “It works for swordsmen and siege towers, doesn’t it?”
No one dared point out the flaws in his plan, at least not those who wanted to keep their heads, so they went to work. Armor production across the realm virtually ceased as the Emperor’s craftsmen bent their skills, their efforts, and their equipment to fulfilling his wishes. Three years were spent laboring on the project. When it was done, the people marveled at what they had built. Seven gleaming ships rode the waters of the great harbor. Seven mighty instruments of war, able to crush any enemy foolish enough to attack, and deter anyone else from even trying.
The Emperor decided to name this class of vessel after women prominent in the history of the realm, and thus they were given the nickname “The Fighting Ladies of the Fleet Oceanic”! His Majesty made an announcement: “In three days hence a grand procession will be held. This will introduce to the world our accomplishments and commence the operational life of these vessels.” Alas, it was not to be…
The enemy learned of our workings. They knew the threat this presented to them, so they drew up their secret and nefarious plans. On a Sunday morning, they struck.
Waves of small ships landed on the beaches surrounding the harbor. They discharged their payloads of fighting men and siege machines, determined to destroy the ships and wreck the facilities. Our forces fought back valiantly but had been caught completely flat-footed. One by one the Mighty Mistresses, still tied to their docks, succumbed to the attack, like bears under assault by an army of ants. One by one they fell until all had been beaten, their debris littering the waters.
The Emperor had spent so much of the treasury on the project that rebuilding was out of the question. Thus they were simply abandoned, and the harbor left to rot. All this was two years ago…
Today, the war is over and a new Emperor sits on the throne. This man, inheriting the title from his father, seems to display a great deal more sense than dear old dad. He has decreed to reopen the harbor, this time to conventional shipping.
You have been selected to lead the advance party for this effort. Your task is to prepare the area for the heavy construction crews who will arrive later to build the harbor’s facilities and fortifications. You are required to reinstate the rule of law in the area, establish a viable food processing system, gather some oil, and manufacture a few weapons for the soldiers who will be guarding the project. The Admiralty has assembled a wagon train of supplies to get you started and they assure you that sufficient quantities of iron ore and oil exist at the site. You are also authorized to salvage whatever you can from the remains of the base, but admittedly, after the devastating attack and two years of neglect, there’s not much left.
You set out with confidence, and immediately things start to go wrong…
Note: This mission immerses you in a challenging task of resource management, and also presents a couple of puzzles to solve. Length is 15 game/years, and plays approx. 60 mins.
This package also contains a hints file and a detailed account of the battle that occurred here two years ago.
Older versions of Stronghold will require Patch v1.2 to run this mission.
Upgraded to allow play at Hard and Very Hard levels.
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To say that this map turned out to be a complete surprise would be an understatement! Here we have an intriguing economic scenario, with what looks like easy to achieve economic goals and an abundance of resources. The scenario, thankfully, is not as straight forward as that. Without giving anything away (because the map deserves to be played by as many people as possible), obtaining certain raw materials isn't a simple place and click affair. The scale of the map looks daunting, but again certain key buildings are placed in certain locations which means that your workers will end up utilising a large portion of the map. These two elements of the design are key to the way the map plays out, and playaility was extremely good as a result. Events are placed throughout the life of the map, at just the right level and frequency so that you don't become distracted. There is massive replayability with 'Dreadnought Row', simply because there are so many different ways in which you can approach the map. The scenario is addictive, fun to play and I thoroughly enjoyed playing it a few times. Very much deserving the full 5 out of 5.
The map was played through on normal setting first, then on easy, hard and very hard, with this review being based on the normal setting as provided on the download description page. For me, balance is perfect. The map represented a significant challenge on normal, with hard and very hard an option for more experienced players. I'd recommend to everyone to play on hard setting once you have played, and won, at normal difficulty.
The economic goals are quite a challenge to meet. The freedom to place your own keep across key locations of the map has an immediate effect on how your scenario will play, with some win criteria easier to achieve than others depending on your placement. Accessing certain raw materials is, in line with other comments left here already, a real plus in terms of how difficult the scenario is/can be. I ended up establishing a large economy and settlement in order to meet the goals required, and this should be borne in mind by other players. Bandit attacks will occur, so don't neglect the defence of your settlement! Overall, extremely well designed and a challenge for all skill levels!
Given that it is becoming increasingly difficult to think of something new for Stronghold, I have nothing but respect for the author for producing a map such as this. The whole concept is extremely creative, taking a different approach to resource gathering and making full use of a large map by clever placement of storage buildings (play the map, you'll understand what I mean). Accessing certain raw materials isn't straight forward, which is fine by me. The story and theme behind the map is so strong that it pulls everything together as a scenario (more on that below) and to take a medieval castle-building game and have references to what are clearly World War II based takes a very, very bold designer in my opinion. Well done!
Map Design: 3
This was a tough one to score. With a extremely high standard being set across the other four review criteria, it seems a shame to only award a 3 out of 5 here, and was the only weaker part of the scenario. I toyed with giving a 4 out of 5 but felt that there wasn't quite enough to justify awarding that score. The landscape is generally good, reasonably well modelled and clearly looks like a harbour. The dock areas were a very good rendition, the sunken ship and the effects on the water are exceptional, as was the idea of an upturned ship. So, lots of plus points. However, the landscape did look a little basic, even though it suited the map fine. It also looked a little bare in places, and would have come alive with a bit more attention to detail. A 3 score is not to be scoffed at, and the map is close to 4 in my opinion.
Stunning. The download description page offers a very well written introduction, the zip file contains an equally well written translation of events and the hints and tips page is just how this area should be approached.. hints, not lessons handed out on a plate that leaves nothing to the imagination. It is clear that the author is extremely talented and this map is yet another example to others how to approach the often tricky side of scenario design. The story and Instructions element should not be overlooked.
I loved this map! It's a challenge for all skill levels, contains unique features, is big, bold and clever and ticks all the right boxes for me. Despite the (hopefully well explained) score for map design, I have to recommend this as one of the better maps I have played for a number of months. Highly recommended!
Very replayable until you solve the little puzzles and get the economy running. The location of resources and the armoury especially are very different to the norm and really add to the experience.
Very well balanced to me, good amount of events. Wolves materialising from thin air in the centre of camp is annoying and slightly unrealistic though hence -0.5.
As mentioned above, there is a very unique feel to this scenario, chiefly through the use of the ships, resource location and little puzzles. All extremely well executed.
Map Design: 4
Despite the lack of depth in certain areas, I feel that the focus of the map design is the ships which have obviously taken some time to achieve and are very well executed.
Again, the uniqueness scores high here. The hints are also presented in a similar way to the story which is really cool.
Highly recommended, this scenario incorporates some really inventive elements into a map that's very interesting and more important, fun.