Posted on 11/09/08 @ 08:37 PM (updated 11/10/08
Hi, Strongholders out there. This time it's my turn to say "my first map".
So you're new in the desert and just want to celebrate a birthday party today?
Then wake up 'n hurry cause you're late. Your neighbours, friends and foes, are all up and busy fighting. While you're still trying to enjoy a birthday morning. Looking around from the keep you think about what's left undone.
Ah, yes, food supply is a severe problem. When crossing the Mediterranean Sea one of the ships was driven away northward. Unfortunately it carried all the farmers, millers and bakers that accompanied your crusade. Perhaps they have a happy life at Tyre now?
This evening you cannot serve beer alone to your guests. Hm, bread will take too long and cheese isn't that productive. Then let's decide on apples. But where to get the fruits from? ... you may be forced to lend or steel?
Calling your cellarer you tell him: "My allies are coming tonight, good ol' Sultan and Caliph, and maybe some captive lords. Many guests will join, too. So get me lots of apples ;) no matter how!" As the man leaves you hear him mumble a complaint.
Outside you meet your true knights and soldiers to whom you give the order of the day: "Necessity is a hard weapon. Take that."
The troops keep on looking at you. Did this mean attack or defence?
The horses are neighing - the animals like apples, too.
With the original course of this map I partly failed during its realization. The idea was to get an invasion map with allies on it who can be asked for tributes. For that I changed the root map into a skrimish type and back into an invasion. Unfortunately any events and invasions don't work any more. The win condition - apples - has been left just for fun.
I still liked the opening scene and chose to nevertheless submit the map.
Quitting the mission or simple restart will end up in the skirmish section. Please do the custom maps starting procedure again.
(Spoiling hints and screens included in the zip file.)
Happy tactics. Have fun!
Comments are welcome!!
Edit: Screens now as smaller sized JPEGs.
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I haven’t posted any reviews recently, and I must admit the download section is becoming less and less active. However maps like Peter’s “Apple War” cannot be missed.
Playability – 4
The main aspect of this mission is the rarely used skirmish-invasion mix, created with help of the .sav to .map type file replacing. The benefit of such an invasion (not skirmish!) is the fact that you can affect the playability quite drastically. In this mission Peter left only a few possibilities to develop – no food (only ale), no weapon buying (only producing), no religion factor, the defensive-attacking varieties have also been reduced thus forcing the player to think about his economical and military strategies more than usual. The toughest part of the map was clearly the beginning – quite different from other missions, where usually the end is the toughest. In Peter’s “Apple War” mere seconds are left to prepare for three massive sieges from both Rats and the Snake (An ultimate beginning would be if Frederick would join the party as well!). If you survive (I had to restart several times), you can start slowly running your economy, thanks to Sultan and Caliph, both defending the flanks. However you must be prepared for surprises from the AIs. When you establish, it becomes a matter of time to beat the enemies, however the toughest is the Frederick – a clever use of troops must be used in order to demolish him – digging moat especially. I didn’t want to waste much time, so I combined a big swarm of archers and assassins – archers cleared the missile defences and filled in the moat while assassins did all the work. Overall – quite a tricky mission, it’s sad that the Apple condition didn’t work.
Balance – 4
Interesting work here. We face the balance issues in the very beginning – Peter cleverly placed troops for AIs to create a very thrilling beginning. Some other additional details are seen like shields on top of Frederick’s towers, apple orchards circled by enemy walls etc. Resource balancing was quite good – iron is hard to get, you have to share the boulders with your allies, enough farmland for everyone. However, the mission would become relatively harder if the amount of boulders was reduced and perhaps the possibility of selling hops would be disabled. It’s my personal opinion, though. The mission’s difficulty is really varying depending on every player’s skills. For a beginner the first few minutes would be impossibly hard, others may find difficulties running the economy or perhaps attacking. Peter tried to balance the mission with the help of allies and cleverly leaving the necessary features for establishing a castle and for warfare. To sum up, the final product was a real skirmish-invasion, with its own aspects of playability and balanced to be winnable for most of the players.
Creativity – 4.5
A very good idea, but sadly it wasn’t fully realized – as some of you know skirmish invasions have a bad feature – they don’t respond to events or conditions, so Peter’s apple condition wasn’t meant to be. Let me imagine the way the mission would be played if apple condition would work – firstly, the player would have to be always concerned about the farms – they cannot be rebuilt. The only two safer farms are the ones near the Caliph, others are near the enemies. They have been cleverly circled by walls, thus guarding them from the enemies. So basically the mission is not about killing the enemies, it’s about collecting apples, but to achieve this, you have to make your farms work, and the only way is that is to “save” them from the enemy. And what is more, the player would not be able to win even if he had killed all the enemies – this enforces the more “attacking” players to care about their economy. However this wasn’t meant to be due to the editor problems, it’s clearly no Peter’s fault, I only admire of his idea. However the mission still has some creative details – the whole design, some features like the gardens near my castle, a custom chapel near the Snake etc. In conclusion, this is a very creative mission, but the full potential sadly couldn’t be used.
Map design – 4.
Quite realistic and eye-catching. The most important landscape features are the hills and the river, which divides the map into to sections, for two different teams – natural and logical. The hills provide both the opportunity to attack (Caliph really annoyed Frederick with constant fire ballistae and catapult assaults from the southern hill, while I was terrorized from the middle hill), and to defend as it’s a natural barrier. The river had some key crossings (fiords), which were strategically important. Oasis grass was mixed with desert sand, thus leaving enough space for farms. The clever use of marsh-pitch can be seen near the river coasts as well. Good bonuses were the small features, which I already mentioned – gardens, custom chapel, etc. However I do missed some more smaller or bigger details in landscape, perhaps more shrub, rocks, maybe a lake, or a central mountain, but it’s only my opinion, cause Peter perhaps had the idea of a lowland. Overall a good job with the editor, too!
Story – 4
Though it’s rather short, I found it very informative and easy to read. The friendly mood, the main theme (the birthday) allows players of different age to fully understand what this mission is about. I liked that Peter explained many features – why are the bakers missing, why am I allied with Sultan and Caliph, what is the purpose of apples, etc. Additional information and screens boost up the score – I like when the author shares his or her ideas with the players, informs them about various aspects, etc. It proves that the creator cares about his/her creation.
In the end, I would recommend everyone to try this great mission, and spend a thrilling afternoon fighting with your unfriendly birthday guests!
Thanks for the map, Peter.
This is a very fun and entertaining map, always playable when you are either bored or your mind needs a 'cold' refreshment.
The map is not very hard overall, the most tricky part is on the beginning when the player has no castle or any structure that would stop the enemy. After setting up defences against incoming attacks it becomes easier to kill deadly enemies like rat and snake. They are actually deadly, have you ever lost by rat? On the first try of this map, you'll see the big army which the small ratty posses. Fear the AIs on the beginning, but that's all. Things chill out as time passes. Sending the king to caliph is a good solution to prevent him killed in the first invasion upon the keep. The strongest enemy AI, frederick, doesn't do much. Snake actually managed better than him as for the attacks
Being a fictional map, creativity can stress anyone, from the basic idea to the story and how things are planned out but Peter2008 showed a lot of creativity on this particular scenario. Like said, map design , story and idea exceeds through their high originality. The scenario is even done for a nice cause - someone's birthday. Besides the story which could be improoved (but still on excellent stage) I saw no other negative aspects of the creativity.
Map Design: 4.5
A very unique design. What I liked the most on this map was the bottom hill near the river and how well it combined with fat grass. On another hand, the river was nice and looked really realistic, also the grass combined perfectly with poor desert-alike terrain.
Not much to say here, I liked the story and instructions are helpful.