Won't bore you with the details, here is a screenshot of the base terrain.
Some may find this hard, some may not. If are a veteran stronghold player, you should find it annoying, but not hard.
No enemy on map.
Oh, I forgot to mention, you only have enough space for 3 farms. This, combined with the invasions, make it REALLY annoying to get the 100 population.
Story is in the readme and I have included some hints in the zip.
Hope everyone enjoys this.
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The Desert Sun – pleasing fun
Once there was a moment in between when I really asked myself where to occupy 100 people at this tiny spot on earth. This feeling can occur depending to the strategy you choose for the mission. Let me call them the way of fighting and the way of flourishing.
At the very beginning you will send out half a dozen wood cutters. While they are working you have time to click through the building buttons and the market and will recognize a delicate problem. The worhshops for any metal weapons are lacking – only spearmen left for ground defence – and weapons trading is completely absent. In reasonable fear of the invasions, the player may sacrifice one part of the oasis for a dairy farm to produce leather armour for crossbowmen.
Differently from the first works the way of the gold and - bonuses. Here you will constrain yourself to the training of archers only and use some farmland for hops. With the ale flowing, you can raise much gold and invest in chapels. Ah, ever more peasants find jobs in these sections. What is more (I want to reveal this here), such a happily growing settlement attracts aid coming from outside. The earlier you boost ale and blessing coverage, the better, because these scores, as you know, relate to the amount of population.
Under the need to spare bread for the eco request, you will add good things some times and thereby strenghten all the archers you have.
It may be possible a mixture of both strategies, with always having one wheat, dairy, and hops farm on the oasis. But the income of wood (and gold) is limited overall which works restricting. You had to do power chopping away the all the trees for the numerous buildings needed early to get everything running before the bigger invasions arrive.
Sir Lurchalot's interesting comment shows that different people will be able to play their favourite styles.
Invasions arrive early and quite often. With the oasis lying between the signpost and the keep, the enemies do a damn bad killing your peasants.
The oasis area is small and does not allow wood rushing. The player is not given initial stone for a barracks but has to work out hard to get the first soldiers trained that will be needed early on for the coming invasions.
Only if acting awkwardly at the start one could loose against the invasions. As time goes on, when the army grows and some towers arise, the balance will tip heavily over to your side. Then the signpost is in reach of your marksmen who will do a damn good slaughtering.
This section includes the perfect balance of economical possibilities on one side and restrictions and requests on the other.
As announced in the description, this is a fun map. Not new is the idea of an eco-invasion, but the actual performance is a clever one. The already mentioned restrictions of wood and weapons are crucial. The requests work into opposite directions.
Personally I liked the scripting very much where a huge number of "flexible events" can be found. Depending on the speed of growth of your village you will suffer them or get them as rewards. (Unfortunately there is no hint to this pearl hidden in the story. Only if you replay the mission you may notice that the bandits occur at different times.)
Alltogether this is a very complex scenario.
Map Design: 4
You are found right in the middle of nowhere, more precisely, next to the crossing of a caravan trading route, a ruined outpost, and the oasis. This spot is modelled tasteful and convincingly. Around the water, life emerges in ever wider ranges. All kind of desert trees grow here, palms upon the water, the olive trees in some distance to it. On one side there is enough grass for farming. Antilopes and an ambling herd of camels already settle in the region.
The signpost at the crossing looks both natural and funny.
Almost all the map is just flat, besides a rock used for a stones deposit. So there is no reason to look around or even use the terrain. Only the hunters following the antilopes are somewhere out there. The iron tiles appear unmotivated.
From the minimap two things look improbable, the straight caravan paths and the size of the two ponds compared to the greenery around. In-game these impressions rather hide away.
Never to forget: all the levels of editing count here. Thus the restrictions and the scripting definitely raise the score.
The arrangement of backing information is great and commendable. Story and general description are included in the Readme. Two(!) stages of hints are separated into an extra file. A +0.5 for the author.
The story, though quite short, provides a lot of atmosphere. The despair of the desert project is easy to feel, your initial forces are introduced vividly. Only in second thought I'd like some more pseudo-historical embedding.
A surprisingly rich mission due to clever handicaps. Really entertaining.
PS: Played one round to gain a l l the reinforcements. ;)
[Edited on 01/28/09 @ 04:04 PM]