Tranquility Broken is, in effect, a typical invasion scenario. You have some quite significant work to do during the first half of the map, building up your troop levels, ensuring that your economy can support the large castle and its' inhabitants, before facing three large and potent invasions. There is a fair bit to do, which held my interest and meant I never felt I could sit on my laurels, as it were. The invasions were varied and set up in such a way that access to the castle, despite its' vast walls and towers, was more easily achieved than I had hoped. The invasions were well scripted, although I found a significant number of engineers sitting around at the end with nothing to do. Similarly, the knights were a handful at the end, but seemed to give up after a period and I had to actively 'chase them' to ensure I met the win criteria. I noticed that there were two 'eliminate all enemy units' events in order to win. Having only the one, 'no enemy and invasions left' should suffice here. This was a really good effort on the part of the designer though, large-scale and lots to do.
This was a tricky one to score. Having played through on various difficulty settings (with the review based on the 'normal' setting as per the download description page), the map posed a challenge across both combat and economic areas, but with careful positioning of your troops, including falling back to the inner keep area, I was able to hold off the invasions at all difficulty levels. More experienced players may wish to try this on hard setting. I liked the fact that the AI kept you on your toes, trying to decide which side of the castle the invasions would strike at and moving troops around to defend a multiple of possible attack routes. Good effort here.
There is nothing significantly new about the scenario, based on a tried and trusted method, but everything works pretty much how it should. One or two small touches stood out for me, such as having the option to destroy the 'good things' some way from the castle, as these are placed in the black colour option and therefore have an effect on the potency of the attacking Wolf's troops. The castle layout is complex, with a good attempt at creating a defended settlement. As above, with a number of options for the AI to take in terms of where to attack (siege tower, attacking gatehouses, laddermen, walls to destroy, etc), the map flowed well enough. Creativity is bolstered by the excellent story (see below).
Map Design: 3
As much as I liked playing this scenario (which will hang around on my hard drive for a while yet!), the map design was only averagem which was a shame compared to the other elements of the submission. The castle was reasonably well rendered, with an interesting layout and pretty vast in scale. The landscaping was okay, but again there were rather large, open areas with minimal signs of terrain modelling. Whilst not strictly needed, it would have helped to increase the score with a bit more attention to detail. Eye candy is not, and should not, be a prerequisite in a map, and any tricks or 'beautification' should be a bonus. There were one or two small areas of eye candy to please the masses, which were done well. The market place area, with the apothecaries, was nice to see.
What else could anyone award for such a humourous, sardonic, witty and distinctly un-medieval story?! The author has a wry take on what story writing for Stronghold should be, which I absolutely love. It explains the scenario, hints at what is to follow and provides nothing short of an essential text that everyone who downloads this map should read thoroughly! Comments on the download description page point towards this within the zip file, which is fine.
A distinct improvement over 'Massacre Notch', and a great invasion map with lots to do throughout the life of the scenario. Could have been made a little harder by more invasions. Map design was okay, but really needs a bit more time spent on features. Either way, recommended. Keep up the good work, there's a stunning map somewhere just waiting to get out! :)