I just played on it yesterday, but I was too tired for writing the review. So, I'm doing it now.
Well, this map really makes me think to "Jaffa". Indeed, it's the same principoe : first of all, we've to attack a castle, which looks to Jaffa, and, in a second time, to defend it against some very strong assaults. It's the same case in your map. We control a very strong army, and we have to kill all the enemies which are in the castle. This castle is well-defended, with a lot of troops, pitch ditch, some killings pits, and outposts. I lost all my swordsmen and macemen by taking the castle. It was very funny. After that, it's toime to defend the castle. But, for me, this map is something like a "super-Jaffa", so, I took a lot of precaution, recuding my castle to the second wall, destroying also the wall and the towhers which are around the keep. I've just to share out all my archers and crossbow, and to build a new city quickly. Destroying all the workshop and fear factor elements make me earn thousands of gold money. After that, when the assaults came, killing them was very easy, even if the assaults are quite strong. I felt obligated to remove the fatest wall, otherwise the enemies come slowly, "one-by-one". After doing this, they came in a big number, but killing them was easy (even if they kill a lot of my archers). However, I suggest you to do not use so much slaves. At the first assaults, the slaves do something. After that, they do anything, and you may kill them with your knights (it's what I've done ^^). Otherwise, the problem comes from a feeling of repetition. Indeed, the map is quite long, and the assaults are quite similar. Moreover, we don't really have a lot of things to do when the castle is installed. We have just to buy sometimes some goods, because we can't produce anything. Yet, reducing the time isn't a good idea neither. Indeed, the last assaults are quite dangerous...
Taking the castle isn't very difficult, because we have a lot of troops. However, if we lose all our archers and crossbow, defend the castle must be very complicated. So, we have to be quite strategic, and using soldiers like macemen or swordsmen, instead of crossbow or archers. So, in fact, the siege might be difficult, because there're ditch pitch, Arabian archers, fire ballistaes, a triple wall, fire throwers, slingers... So, I lost all my macemen and swordsmen, but I don't made a good assault, with strategy, just an untidy attack. Anyway, the second period of the map depends on the first. I mean, if we've used a lot of Gold money with siege weapons, we are disadvantaged for the defense. Moreover, if we've lost a lot of archers or crossbow, it's the same thing. However, the second part is more easy than the first, even if the assaults are quite difficult. Indeed, the Arabian swordsmen are a lot, and there's also Arabian archers and horse archer. They can kill a lot of archers. Anyway, the difficulty is good, even if the game is quite repetitive, so we can find it boring...
I played on a lot of maps, and rarely on a map with a siege, and a development after. Basically, it's just a siege, or we have to create a castle. Here, we've to take the castle, and to defend it against some strong assaults. So, as I said before, it's like "Jaffa", so it's quite interesting. I was really enjoyed when I played it, even if the map is a little bit too long, but it's like that.
Map Design: 3.5
You said in your presentation that you need some advices for castle design. Well, what you've done is quite acceptable, especially the wall around the keep, with dig moat, towers, etc... Otherwise, there's three walls in the castle, from the less protected to the best, from small towers to big towers. I'm not a specialist in castle design, but I think a good castle design might symbolize something (like a star, for instance, Wazir's castle). Don't hesitate also to put different towers (small tower, big tower, then small tower and big tower...). But, what you've done is quite acceptable. This castle seems to be like Jaffa. I especially liked too the hills surroundig the initial position of our army
A good story, with some tips to help the Player.
A very good work !