Whilst there are no specific instructions from the designer to tell you whether this should be played as an attacker, defender or both, I would recommend playing as a defender on normal or hard setting as this offered the best scenario available. As an attacker, the map is fairly standard with a clear requirement to progress through the three levels to the keep. The scale of the castle is quite small and this helped to create a quite intimate atmosphere. Whether the designer intended to create a bit of a masterpiece by playing as a defender is unknown, but choosing this option offers an excellent fight against much tougher opponents, full of peril and testing your abilities. The AI works quite well against the obstacles in their way (gatehouses and walls) and you face relatively strong attacks, backed up by the inevitable last charge once the pathway to your keep, and your Lord, has been secured. Really good stuff!
As above, I played both attacking and defending, on various difficulty levels, to establish the best option to the downloader. Choose hard setting and defend the castle, and what you have is a scaled down version of an excellent siege amp. This will offer a real test to anobody as you scurry to move your archers and crossbowmen to different locations to defend against the enemy. Taking down the battering ram rather than the catapults is essential, otherwise it will slip past your own men and knock out most of the gatehouses resulting in an easy victory for the AI. The scale of battle might be small, the numbers of troops on the map may be relatively few compared to the usual masses of bodies you usually see in siege maps, yet this balance of troops, use of a simple but highly effective castle design and your clear disadvantage against the attackers offers a really well balanced scenario. If this were tougher to beat as an attacker, which potentially it is if you play at very hard setting, the balance could arguably be spot on and deserving of a full 5 out of 5 score. Either way, this is an excellent effort by the designer.
Taking a real life castle and recreating the layout, the style and the setting is a bit of an art in itself, given the limitations within the map editor (no matter how hard you try, you cannot exactly recreate the great castles of the world in Stronghold given the generic buildings used, and therefore compromises must be made). This attempt is rather basic, although it does resemble a fairly substantial defensive structure in itself. The castle functions exactly as it should, but doesn't spring to life when you play the map. There's nothing at all bad here in terms of creativity; a relatively straight-forward siege map to be played as an attacker (good) or defender (better), but you would hope to see something a little special to justify a higher score.
Map Design: 2.5
Not brilliant, it has to be said. I touched on the castle above; it functions perfectly well with the AI, but looks a bit lifeless for my liking. Break this down further and what you have is a siege map where the attackers have a few walls or gatehouses to get past - there's little more to it. The surrounding terrain is modelled to resemble a fortification in the hills, which has been achieved to some extent. The overuse of large swathes of stone and pebbles, plus the swatches of iron ore outcrops certainly gives the map a rocky, hilly appearance but the placment of these effects is too bulky, clumsy and awkward. Small brush sizes, scattering numerous rocks, pebbles, boulder outcrops, etc in a tightly packed and densely formed fashion would look much better on the eye and give the impression the designer has taken the upmost care with the terrain modelling. Fair attempt nonetheless.
Very little provided in terms of content. The historical references are limited to a few lines on the download description page, which is a real shame as what this needs is a full-blown historical article introducing the castle and its history to the downloader of the scenario. No further comments or content is provided, therefore the score reflects the basic content provided.
As a siege map, played as a defender, this is extremely good fun and really tough to beat. The designer has the basis of a very, very good map submission with a bit of work needed to the design of the landscape, the castle structure and the accompanying notes. That said, this is definitely worth a play because it is a simple, honest creation that just works exceptionally well. Good stuff!