This map had good playability! I had fun playing against two Pigs, and the raised ridges formed a sort of shield for your castle, as well as a platform for towers and siege engines. Good playability!
Balance was a little off here, as the top-right player had much more resources than the other players, even if it were a 2 vs. 1 scenario. It was also easier for the top-right player to control the valley, giving him even more farmland. However, balance wasn't terribly bad, and you equalized it better for the other players, with top-left having more iron and stone, and bottom having more oasis.
This had good creativity, albeit you did get much of your inspiration from LOTR. I doubt that there was an exact map that you copied, and you probably were inspired by the book and painted a picture of the scene in your mind. That's fine, and it's a good way to get ideas for your maps, as long as you don't copy a map, and even worse, if you don't acknowledge the other source. But good job! The ideas here were good ones, and I liked it.
Map Design: 2
Map design can be improved here. I'm sure all you need is some more experience with the map editor. Some things to point out:
- Don't crowd trees together; use them sparingly
- Try to make rivers and streams look natural and not the same width everywhere
- Use the height tools with more precision, and don't use mountain/equalizer for everything
- Add in terrain and earth features for a more natural and realistic look
- Overall, try to make everything look realistic and natural; ask yourself if what you have made could happen in nature and looks real
I am not insulting or attacking you in any way, so please do not take this the wrong way. All that I am trying to do is point out weak areas so you can learn and make really good maps, and one of those weak areas is map design. Perhaps this is one of your first few maps. That's all right; pretty much everyone makes these mistakes the first few times. All it takes is some experience and time with the editor.
The story was a little thin; you could have given the player some more insight into the battlefield/map, and given more depth to the story. So far all he knows is that he is playing one of the houses after the gems have been returned to the elves. This is very general, and confusing as well for anyone who hasn't read the Silmarillion. Depth of story will immerse the player in the story, and make the playing your map really fun, not to mention get more downloads and comments! Instructions were a little thin as well, but it is a skirmish map after all; just kill everyone else. However, you could have added more depth here again, like saying, "Wipe out the other houses and take the Silmarils for yourself" or something like that. However, I'm sure that with time you'll come up with more immersive stories.
Overall, my main point is to spend more time doing your maps, and pay attention to details. Perhaps you were inspired by reading the LOTR, and wanted to make a map right away in your enthusiasm; that's GOOD! Really good! However, just spend more time making your maps, and don't make maps that are finished in two or so hours. Every map should be finished at least after two days (not sitting at the computer straight, of course =P). Use all the tools in the map editor, and really get to know it. Also, take a look at some expert mapmakers and observe how they do their terrain/mountains/rivers. But you had good ideas coming out in this map, like the ridges and spreading different resources out differently. Creativity was really good here in coming up with this map. All you need now is to take time in making those ideas and concepts look really good and learning how the editor works.
Good job! Keep on submitting - I'm looking forward to seeing those improved maps. I'm sure they'll be really good!