The Trials of Lord Manikin - Ch1 - 'For Sir Edmund'
This is map 1 of 4 in 'The Trials of Lord Manikin' campaign and is my first submission. It is designed as a follow-up to 'Breaking the Siege' from SH1 and is a basic Eco-Invasion scenario.
January 18th 1124
Since the day you first allied with the rebels in 1115, the borders of your county have been in a state of turmoil, constantly ravaged by advances from Truffe and De Puce. Despite these setbacks, the rebels’ war machine marches ever onwards, gathering support from locals across the South of Briton who would dream of The King’s return.
Recent talks with Sir Longarm indicate that The Rat is close to demise and that we should expect escalating conflict from The Pig along our northern borders. Coincidentally, you arrive home to be handed an urgent dispatch from one of your knights…..
(readme file contains full storyline, timeline and scenario notes)
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I said I might review, and here it is :)
Wow, AWESOME playability, it was just amazing how to managed to get me to play this 3 times before I actually won. You kept enough to make it hard, but not so hard that I had to struggle to win. The first time through I didnt know what was going on and got crushed at the first invasion. The second time I played I went soley for military power, and that was a mistake, after I had beaten the main invasion force, BAM, fires killed me, and I couldnt recover. The third time, when I finally beat it, was the best.
I finally figured out that the trick was to build lots of poleturners workshops, and then once you reach 80 spears, use all the surplus spears to make into spearmen, while having 2 or so fletchers shops to make archers.
Perfectly balanced. Like above, you kept the events such as fires and granary theft often enough to annoy me, (ok, REALLY annoy me) but it wasnt impossible to overcome. And at the end, with the big invasion, some people might think it is unbalanced, but it is not, it just a matter of how you balanced the game between economic and invasion goals.
Pretty creative, building on the story of Lord Manikan from the orginal campaign is something some people have thought of, but I believe you are the first to do. I orginally gave this a 4, but then decided against it because you brought back the one thing I enjoy most in scenarios:Simplicity. I like the maps where everything is simple, and you have just but spearmen/archers and flimsey wooden walls, and no wheat or hops or cheese farms.
Map Design: 4
Wow, your style is really similar to mine. It was kind of wierd how it looked vaugley similar to my not yet released maps O_o. I would have given a 5, but the beach area was really bland. You could have put some pebbles, or used the second-to-smallest brush tool and painted some sea at the edges to where it looks like only one tile. (I see you did this some places, but not everywhere)
I liked reading the story and how it continued on Lord Manikans story.
All together, I really enjoyed this map, definatley a must-download for everyone who wants a refresh from the more complicated scenarios. Great job, I look forward to more.
A brief foreword to the justification statements for my scores is in order here. Whilst large parts of the review offer scores that are generally average, I have to say that this scenario was a pleasure to play from start to finish.
This scenario takes you back to the days when playing the campaign missions that came with the game were just as enjoyable as the latest offerings from the cream of the design community. Indeed, the map has been designed with this in mind and doesn't pretend to be anything other than a good old fashioned eco-invasion. The win criteria requires you to manufacture 80 spears (when played at normal difficulty as per the designer's wishes) as well as a small invasion mid-way through the scenario, topped by a much larger invasion towards the very end. You find yourself playing two games in one here; settlement establishment and developing a thriving economy is essential, as is the manufacture of spears and longbows to defend against the final invasion. It's all straightforward stuff that is the basis for many a scenario submitted to the downloads section, but that's not a bad thing. There are a few fires to keep you on your toes and, if ignored, will bring your economy literally crashing down around you. There's nothing particularly taxing about this map, but it does exactly what it is supposed to and Lord Manikin, the designer, doesn't pretend otherwise. It is a simple, but perfectly executed scenario. Nevertheless, neglect the need for weapons and you can easily find yourself in a tight spot (as I did on my first attempt, using my Lord to kill off the last dregs of the Pig's archers, my own forces obliterated).
Feeding your population can be a bit tricky and it is necessary to place at least half a dozen hunter's posts as well as three apple orchards in the area of flat terrain just to the south-east of your Saxon Hall. With a bit of patience, doubling up on the rations and taxing your people accordingly will generate a healthy amount of gold to assist with placing weapons workshops. Again, quite straightforward stuff, but it all works as it should. The first invasion was small and the AI didn't work quite as it should have done, with the archers sitting by the signpost reacting to little, if anything. I had to send one of my own archers out to within firing range. Killing off just one of them instigated a quick retreat. This was also the case on my last attempt (note: I played the map five times in total) and whereas in the first try the final invasion hit me with everything they had, the final invasion was a bit of a disappointment. The macemen and spearmen attacked as usual, but only half of the archers and crossbowmen bothered to make any effort. It is difficult to understand why this was the case. My defences (wooden walls and gatehouse) were in a different position on my last attempt and I had significantly more archers and spearmen, which may have been a trigger for the AI to confuse itself, as it so often does. Nevertheless, the scenario contained enough of a challenge to justify an average score.
'The Trials of Lord Manikin Ch1' is, as I have suggested above, a straightforward eco-invasion map that leans heavily on the style of scenario from the in-game campaigns. To be fair, it lacks anything new or different, nor does it offer a 'spark' or feature that elevates it above the vast majority of eco-invasion scenarios. Credit should be given for the limited use of the marketplace though, as this adds to the map overall and certainly makes you work harder. However, from my own point of view this isn't necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes one can become bored of maps that are finely-tuned and scripted to leave no tolerance. It is easy to fine-tune a map to the extent that you don't 'play' it as such, but go through the motions in order to reach the victory screen. This back-to-basics approach is absolutely fine as far as I am concerned and something I have commented on before. As a result, Lord Manikin has designed a scenario completely free of pretences, a map that works as it should, plays more or less as it was intended (refer: AI invasion problems) and contains an often overlooked aspect of map design: FUN.
Map Design: 4
This is much better - a terrain that looks pleasing to the eye, works well with the AI and takes its' influence from a real landscape. The terrain tools have been used well enough and there is a fair quality to many parts of the map. The small areas of marsh are well done and the limitations placed on you for apple orchard close to the Saxon Hall is a nice touch.
The large expanse of beach is a bit of a problem though. It does appear to be too featureless and maybe a bit too expansive. This is a tricky problem for designers because when you try to design using a real landscape as an influence (it is representative of the beaches of Norfolk, England), there is a fine balance between trying to copy an area of landscape directly and working within the editor to produce something that is appealing. Knowing what the Norfolk coastline looks like, as I do, helps to understand what Lord Manikin is trying to do. Yes, it looks rather plain; yes, you could argue for something a bit more 'modelled'. The attempt by the designer is to be commended though, given the difficult subject matter.
A thoroughly deserved 5 out of 5! The zip file contains a story, useful instructions and a few small screenshots, including a few thoughts by the designer justifying what has been designed, and why. The quantity of information is more than sufficient, but the score here isn't just for the effort made by Lord Manikin. The quality of the story, the language and style is exceptionally good and beautifully presented. The letter from Sir Edmund Fowkes III (read the story!) is eloquent and perfectly suited to the style of story. It is exactly as you would expect an educated gentleman of the mid 12th century to communicate and the authenicity of the language is something that appeals to my own preferences. I would recommend the zip file contents alone to any newer designer for a valuable lesson in how to brooch this tricky part of scenario design.
A first scenario completed by Lord Manikin and a very commendable effort all round. A good, solid map with a few problems, but these can be overcome. More importantly, I would dearly love to see a second chapter because the storyline is incredibly strong and there is massive potential for a very well thought out mini-series. Well done!
I enjoyed playing this scenario a lot, but I would not play it 3 or 4 times because it took quite a long time to do, and without major events (only two attacks).
The balance between economy and troops was good here. I myself leaned too heavily towards the spear production and fell short when it came to the final attack.
I thought the scenario was quite creative, I liked the use of the events Apple Blight and Fire to pull back the player.
Map Design: 4
Loved the map design, the attention to detail was good and nice use of the bridge technique. The only thing stopping this reaching any higher was the beach; I didn't think it should have been that wide and.. boring. But apart from that it is faultless.
The story was very good, with promise of more scenarios (look forward to those) to add to the score. I myself enjoy taking control of the other lords in the Stronghold universe, so I was especially pleased with the story!
Additional Comments: A great map. Look forward to more scenarios in the story!
[Edited on 04/21/08 @ 12:48 PM]