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Staircase to Heaven

Author File Description
File Details
Map Size: 400x400 (Large)
Number of Players: 8
Balance: Balanced
Difficulty: Hard
This is one of my first "serious" multiplayer maps. It has been initially created to play in cooperation with a friend vs 6 allied AIs, but of course you are free to play it the way you want. It is certified "AI-friendly" for all AIs.

The story of the map is included in its ingame description.

i would be really glad if you could take a few minutes to rate it so I'd be able to improve my mapmaking in the future.

Additionnal instructions are included in the Readme doc.

Have fun !!!

Edited on July 8

Here is an upgraded version of the map, with enhanced landscape. Sorry for the 40+ players who have already downloaded the initial version, I hope you enjoyed it all the way... If so, then I can only recommend you to download this map once more and replace your current version, for an even better gameplay ;)

Edited on July 13

After consideration, and taking into account some comments, I changed the difficulty status from "Normal" to "Hard".

Pages: [1] 2 » Last »
AuthorComments & Reviews   ( All | Comments Only | Reviews Only )
AZ ViTrAzhAs Looks good, I like the river, empty spaces could have a little more details though. Since this is one of the first real maps, I have to admit, it's amusing.
AZ ViTrAzhAs
Map Design5.0
Staircase to Heaven

In the beginning, I would want to say that eight player skirmish maps are one of the hardest to create because the author has to spend a lot of time play testing, select good positions for the keeps, spread resources through the map, etc. Sadly, the design is often left out of consideration in these kinds of maps but it’s obvious, that map authors are endeavouring in creation of these plats.

Playability: 5
The map offered a very interesting keep layout and I pondered which position should be chosen and what lords should work the best. Finally, I picked six enemies: Wolf (North East corner), Saladin (North West corner), Emir (Middle West), Caliph (Middle East), Wazir (Middle East) and Pig (Middle East). Usually I choose an ally from European lords, and I didn’t make an exception this time: Richard was my trustful associate. I inhabited the South West; Lionheart’s keep was in South East. It was quite hard to find out which positions have been designed for two allies (Possibly in the North), but I chose the harder location. Later I read the story and assumed that I should have played in North. A computer advantage was set, too. I began the mission composedly, using resources to gain gold; the oasis was filled with wheat and hop farms as well as with a few apple orchards and dairy farms. Step by step my castle expanded and I had to build defensive structures, as Caliph and Emir started an expansion to my lands. Two towers and a defensive wall, which compounded both Richard’s and mine castles, helped a lot. Horse archers were also patrolling the territory. Pig, Wolf and Wazir terrorized my ally therefore I often had send gold and troops to his aid. Later I trained a small contingent of 50 swordsmen and 25 horse archers, which wore down Caliph, than Emir. Now I redeployed my main forces to help Richard, and afterwards Pig and Wazir were bending to their knees. The mission was finished, when a huge cavalry (300 horse archers and 100 knights) completely destroyed both Saladin’s and Wolf’s defenses. Macemen did the easy work. In summary, I found the map perfect to play 2 VS 6 due to the greatly chosen positions. I also thought about playing 2 VS 2 VS 4. The AIs work perfectly.

Balance: 4
A lot of work has to be done to balance an eight player map perfectly. Still it is obvious that you worked a lot with this aspect. The resources were spread very well: every player has a chance to develop from stone and iron without a big fight. I also liked the idea placing some resources on the island in far North. Oases were also placed very well, it relatively easy to keep the granary full, and concentrate on fighting. I mentioned that the keeps were set very well, too. The building place enabled to disperse big structures and build a strong castle. There were no problems for AIs either. The only problem that, in my opinion, was downer was the number of trees: for an 8 player map there were clearly too little trees. I couldn’t even collect thousand wood planks during the mission: this is very little, especially for me, as I build quite many lumberjacks’ huts. Next time I would offer adding more trees: this was the only problem in the balance part. Well done!

Creativity: 4
The map offered and interesting landscape: there were free height levels. I liked how you placed the paths, too. The river looked refreshingly: it divided the whole map and was designed well either. I liked the part, were the river wed trough the narrow cliff path. The oases were spread throughout the map well, too. The resources were added to the rapid rocks. The whole idea of the map seemed very good, but still something was missing: maybe more details, a more interesting use of the editor tools. Still, the map was thrilling and enjoyable: well done!

Map Design: 5
Well there were some places, which needed work: you could have added more trees, shrub, little rocks, etc. They would fill a few empty spaces throughout the landscape. The oases looked realistic enough: they had trees, shrub and even small lakes. You’ve also used different types of scrub. The boulders and iron ore was placed near the cliffs, they were mixed with rocks either. Maybe trees should grow on grass: a lot of them were just on the wasteland. I noticed that you added small details: little rocks and shrub throughout the river, sand and a small beach near the shore, ponds etc. The design is very good for a first “real” map; just try adding more different details in the future.
Update: you've added more various details, ruins, filled the empty spaces. Great work with the design!

Story/Instructions: 4
Basically, the skirmishes don’t have long, thrilling stories, just a short description and explanation. Still, in my opinion, every work has to have a narration, which should blend with the map as best as possible. You have created a short description of the two adventures and added recommendations. It resembled the map idea well, but next time, try adding a longer, more thrilling story: I noticed that you writing style and grammar are quite good (Not like mine). Next time I hope to see a good, creative composition.

Additional Comments:
A very thrilling and enjoyable eight player map, which can be used in both in multiplayer or in a skirmish mission. The work is perfect to practice one’s playing skills. The author really tried hard and submitted a good map. Bravo!

AZ ViTrAzhAs

[Edited on 07/12/07 @ 05:29 AM]

File Author
Thank you so much AZ ViTrAzhAs for your amazing and comprehensive review ! Man, you can't imagine how glad am I that you enjoyed playing my map (think this is my Première on SHH !)

Let me say first that your playing choice of AIs was well done (I would have chosen the same ennemies, except maybe the Pig who is too weak in my eyes, and the same ally, since the Lionheart is my favourite too : never complains, always helps... Anyway). Globaly, the AIs were placed exactly the best possible way : that's how the map has been designed. As for the player's location, I'm sorry I must have not been clear enough... I suggested in the readme that there are 2 ways to play the map : either holding (with your ally) the top locations, or the lower ones. I mentionned that the top ones are easier (a bit more resources than the other players have, more space to develop); but that the REAL challenge was, as you perfectly did, to play the lower locations, since you are kind of trapped in the corner and have to make your way upward to glory :) From here comes the name of the map : "Staircase to Heaven". So what I recommend is the lower locations for a greater challenge. But I thought this morning that there were many ways of playing the map, thanks to its 2+2+2+2 design : you can as well hold with your ally the middle locations, in which case you are really trapped between the hammer and the anvil, and you will have to harshly struggle to survive... Well, I won't tell you about everything, it's up to your imagination :)

Furthermore, I have taken into account your comments about the indeed too empty spaces even before reading this review and edited the map for more than an hour. However, I still haven't found a way to upload this new version so as to replace the current one, I hope Sulis will be kind enough to answer my email... If you are interested, I can already send this updated version to all those who cant wait (lol) - so sorry for the 30 first downloaders... -, just drp me an email at

Well, time to stop writing novels ^^. Thank you again for your review and your support ;) I have started working on a new 6-player skirmish map (I always play on 5+ player maps so mine will hardly be below this threshold) and I will take into account your comments in my works.

PS :...snd thanks for the mention of my English, for I'm French :D

See u soon on SHH !
AZ ViTrAzhAs You are absolutely right and, I think, i will play your map once more in 2 VS 2 VS 2 VS 2 style (I like struggling against 3 or 4 teams even if it is easy). Maybe I will use your work in multiplayer as well.. About the update: just change everything you want and replace the old map with a newer version in the .zip archive. When updating, just browse for the .zip archive with your changed map. Everything else can be left without changing: only the map will be updated.
As for the map, I see a bright future in mapmaking for you, lhynn ;)

Thank you for sharing your work.
The Joint Good job.The idea is very original!
The Joint
Map Design5.0
OK Ihynn, here you are a review.I've just finished playing your map.I played it - Me (middle west), Caliph (next to me) and Nizar (below me) VS Abbot, Lionheart, Wolf, Emir (on the other side of the hill) with half CPU advantage, crusader game.I fisrt I got in panic.Nizar died almost immiditelly, because the 4 enemy's attacked him a lot of times.So I got alone with Caliph, on my right side.I bough I huge army of about 200 horse archers and 100 knights.Most hard for me was to kill Lionheart, because I killed the rest with my army.However Caliph's fort burnt and he was asking me for food and iron, all the time.I got mad, destroyed the Richard's keep with hundreds of monks and swordsmen.And for desert I killed Richard with slaves :D Now, to the rescue:

Playability: All AIs build their castles and it can be played by many ways.Just the Snake or the Nizar have difficulties with the map.i don't know why, but the rest of the AIs were also in a despered situation and didn't build their castles in time.Almost 5.But, almost :(

Balance: It's seen.It's perfectly balanced.

Creativity: What a great idea!This map is unique!The idea for stairs is original.Howevernot so smart, because some of the AIs can't build their casltes on high land.

Map design:
I can't understand why AZ Vitrazhas don't like it, but for me it fits great.

Story: Well, I have never got a 5 for a story, because I write them too small.I'm not an english.I give you 5, because you have story.Besides I don't think there's need to be a story for a skimish.

Additional comments: The same what AZ Vitrazhas said.Make more maps.You have the skills, which you need ;)
File Author
A great thanks to you, The Joint, for your beautiful review ! It made me so happy =D

Just to explain Az's comment on the map design, the fact is that the map you are currently playing is the, let's say, "1.2 version" of the one I first uploaded. As I explain in my reply to Az, the first version had indeed too empty spaces left and so was a bit "bare". So I edited the map and spent a lot of time enhancing the landscape, adding rocky formations, shrubs, trees and other small thing which in the end make the map so much more lively (though it is still far from perfection =( ); so that he rated the 1st version of the map and not the current one.

As for the AIs, I realize now that there is a little flaw here too. As you perfectly noted, AIs like Nazir or the Snake are less performant when placed on cliffs, because half their defensive system relies on moat-digging... This can also be seen on certain Warchest Crusader Trail skirmishes or on lots of other maps with different ground levels (that's why it is recomended to place them always on the flat land to give them a chance =P ). But, as I were saying, what I realize now is that this skirmish may be so tense that they may have additionnal trouble to develop under pressure... Given the map layout - as well as rhe fact that it WAS conceived for a tough challenge - this flaw unfortunately seems roughly avoidable... I only hope it does not trouble the gameplay too much =( (Maybe next time you could choose stronger AIs instead? =P) Stronger AIs have much less trouble playing while less skilled ones may have some... (I playtested the map playing me in the South-West location plus 3 Wolves - two in the middle West, one at my right - versus other 4 Wolves, everyone played well and I even lost 1 of my allies and nearly lost my right neighbour (by the way, play this way even only once, you'll get a new definition of the expression "total war" O_O ). Balancing AI skills was rather difficult here, so I will pay a greater attention for this too in the future, thaks you for highlighting this to me ;) (Now I wonder whether I shouldn't have rather labelled the map as "Hard"...?)

Anyway, thank you so much again for your so useful comments and your support ! I hope you still enjoy this first map of mine =) Others a in good way for release soon ;)

And if you or someone else have additionnal advice or comments or whatever, my MSN/email is available for all.


PS : if u are sometimes stuck with AIs such as Lionheart or Wolf, try the "100-horse-archers-and-20-catapults" strategy, I think you'll have lots of laugh =D
ZafarIM A very good looking map, Now I start playing it.
surajsubba Hello lhynn
Welcome to Stronghold Heaven

I enjoyed playing the map.It's apparent that this is not the first map you've made. Look forward to play more of such wonderful skirmish maps in the future.
File Author
Thank you !

You're close to truth Surajsubba. This is not my first attempt to create a real map, for sure; however, all my previous tries were really ugly and primitive (lol) and served only to improve the mapmaking, so this map actually IS my first REAL one. Besides, I drag some inspiration from other great maps I found around on SH - including yours =P - as to landscape design.

Anyway, I'm currently a bit busy so I have not had enough time to complete some other projects i promised to upload, but I'll keep my word ! There are already two half-designed maps and another two in my drawing notepad =) All of them skirmishes, of course, for I'm still a bit afraid to face the Everest of scripting =(

See u soon on SH, and wish u all guys great summer holidays !

Edited on Aug. 26

My computer is close to death, so all my current works are being delayed for some time =( I hope I'll get another one soon...

[Edited on 08/26/07 @ 05:46 AM]

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