Equilibrium: The Fall of Edessa
“The successes of the First Crusade and the taking of Jerusalem brought relative stability to those who chose to remain in the Holy Land afterwards. However, this state of affairs would not last more than a decade. Settlers struggled to hold on to their early gains, and Edessa, the first Crusader State, established by Baldwin I, was almost lost. Calls for a second Great Crusade would result in an operation on an unprecedented scale. In the meantime, the shift of power away from the Christian settlers should be addressed. In the shadow of the ruins of al-Bira, the first of the new but short lived Crusader settlements, you will make your stand.”
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Equilibrium is a relatively straightforward skirmish map for up to four players. The landscape has been designed specifically to slightly restrict the raw materials available to you, with two outcrops of iron and one outcrop of stone close to your castle. The other keeps have slightly more iron and stone, with a little more oasis grass for farms. Therefore, the map has been marked as ‘unbalanced’, or balance favours keeps 2, 3 and 4, albeit only moderately so.
The map was designed for use against the AI lords, and ideally three Arab lords against your own preference. The map has not been tested in an online multiplayer situation. I suspect that it may play reasonably well and I would be interested to hear if this is indeed the case.
The zip file contains a few more thoughts about the design of the map. Constructive reviews based on playing the scenario and acknowledging the Design Notes contained within are welcome.
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Equilibrium: The Fall of Edessa
It's the first time I'm going to review Sulis' map and I'm a bit nervous due to the fact that the honourable author of this map does an incredible amount of work - for those, who don't visit the forums I can just say that Sulis is the one who submits our maps, allows ratings to show up and keeps this section ordered; he still finds time to create masterpieces, such as this.
Playability - 5. Any Stronghold Crusader player, who is familiar with the AIs, will clearly understand that the map size 300x300 and the beautiful landscape doesn't allow all enemy lords to complete their castles. So I didn't waste my time and tried playing against three Caliphs with a full computer advantage. The mission seemed to be rather easy, but heck no! I had to try my best to defend both my farms and quarries against the well known "fiery" lords (I chose the North East position, yet I think that the South West position was designed for the human lord. Anyway the restricted building space, hardly achievable resources, almost empty granary made the mission very challenging in the beginning (this is the most important, as whenever you complete your defensive structures and a well maintained economy, victory becomes just a question of time). Later on I tried against three Saladins, they really gave me a headache with their siege equipment, usually hiding them behind the mountains. Although they had some problems with castle finishing , I won't let this drag the score down, as the map offers a great playability with other AIs.
About the multiplayer - no offence, Sulis, but the map is just too pretty and well designed for a bloodbath called the multiplayer match. I would spend my time just gazing at your great skills. The restricted building space and short distances aren't preferred in these kind of games, but I'll repeat once more - it's a great map to fight against AIs.
Balance - 5. Excellent work. First of all I really like when the geographical features are mixed cleverly with playability - Sulis' map allows us various defensive and offensive strategies. The mountains always give cover and give the attacker a big advantage, however well placed fiords allow the defending player concentrate on these paths. Just a small example how can map design influence the playability.
A supreme job was made with the resources - the few quarries, iron mines and farms keep the pressure - you can't build more, and this enforces the player to concentrate on the economical part - gold becomes more essential. The resources are also spread very well. Besides the resources, space had to be economized, too - it's important for players who are used to build big castle (I'm one of them). Basically my population is 150 - 200 when playing against AIs (much more in a multiplayer match), however I had to settle with only 70 people.
Overall the map could be marked as balanced - the amount of resources and space was roughly even, yet, Sulis wants to be precise. Again, fantastic work.
Creativity - 5.
Fantastic! Just having a glance to the minimap, it becomes obvious that the map's idea is superb. I already mentioned the great success achieved in playability, now I must put out a few important aspects why this map is purely genial.
First of all it's the map size. Now usually the designers forget about smaller sizes and keep filling the empty spots in a 400x400 map. However Sulis chose a smaller map and now take a look - the landscape is completely filled with realistic small features which create a great overall view. I'm not sure that a bigger map would look as well as this does.
Furthermore I had explain the great features which Sulis added. Take a look at the mountains - I'm sure that most of you after designing them would just leave them, but Sulis adds a wonderful feature - H2O. Cleverly creating the narrow, curved river and mixing it in the mountains allows us to feast our eyes on. The river also divides the oases, the players' territories. Sulis also adds another small river, and now the water blends perfectly thus creating a dynamic natural landscape.
I also noticed how cleverly Sulis set the keeps throughout the map - the map can be played however you want; the square form of the keep layout looks superb in this kind of map.
All in all there much more great features, just download and take a look!
Map design - 5.
Just reading everything what I wrote before can make you realize that there's no chance to find negative remarks in this section. The map looks so realistic and natural! I think many of you can say which map looks great and which doesn't from a short glance at the minimap, well believe me, don't waste your time looking at this minimap - just download the map.
First of all, every detail, every feature looks to be precisely where you want it to be. I think I often add too many details, and seeing this great design even strengthened my thoughts. The various rocks, shrub, water features, mountain style, oases are mixed so well in this normal size map(!). The resources are placed so well in the mountains - just like you want them to be. Experienced mapmakers usually have the main rules which they follow when talking about the design - basically it's the natural and realistic achievements. I'm not one of them but still this map is one of a kind! The only small feature that could be added were animals - a few deers, crows and rabbits wouldn't spoil the map, Sulis. Still the map is fantastic!
Story - 5. Perfect story for a skirmish map. Some of you might say "too short"... But common, this is a skirmish map, we have to know why and where are we, that's it. It's not a custom scenario map, were a long, interesting narrative is required. Everything becomes clear from reading your story - we know where, why the game takes part. Furthermore the story has historical references. Adding some instructions is essential to any map, Sulis explained how this map can and should be played, its idea (thanks). Overall, html features give the last touch to this wonderful work.
Additional comments - This is one of the best skirmish map ever to be made, and knowing that the download section is getting less and less attention it's always great to see this kind of work.
Thank you, Sulis, for the map and your hard work.
[Edited on 03/24/08 @ 05:43 AM]
Well, I've been visiting old skirmish maps and I came across this very familiar map that I forgot to download when it first came out. Here is a review... of course, you will be very happy with this one, as am I with this map!
The shortage of resources was passable... I thought there was enough to go around, but the enemy kept using up my farm space and quarry area. I played this map twice to test the diferent AIs and they all worked perfectly (except for the Wolf because of his enormous castle he always builds). Overall, not a full five for the playability, but a very fun and interesting skirmish.
I would have to say that my favourite skirmish maps are the ones with only 4 players. Maps with 5-8 players aren't really for me. The AI worked well and the difficulty was average compared to some of the impossible skirmishes. The AI also kept sending archers and pikemen into the middle of the map to control that area and to kill my farmers. But as I fought them back, I regained control. Therefore, balance, a full five.
Hmmm, never really say much on this but I think the idea of re-creating a step in the Crusades was fantastic.
Map Design: 5
Well, nice map design. Straight up, exactly what I expected to be in a map like this. The ruins in the middle of the map were realistic. The rivers were great and the use of rocks and shrub was perfect. Also, trees, farmland, quarry stone and iron were placed directly for awesome gameplay.
It's good that you wrote information about the map. Some maps do not have anything besides, "2 vs 3 map. very good map. pls review". Nice background info on the history. A full five for this too.
Ha, great map. Had fun playing it. Thankyou very much.