The Map: Medium sized map with a giant bridge across it. Not much detail, just the basics, but then again, who said you need eyecandy and the most perfect attention to each and every patch of grass to make a map enjoyable? Certainly not me. I designed this map assuming you won't charge out your swordsmen because then the message and invasion timing will be set way off and you'll have to wait like 5 months for the next invasion.
Objectives: Defend the Ver de Flay bridge from the Wolf. It is the only route into Hummun Ver.
Author's Notes: I think this map is very difficult. You'll have to be good to beat this map.
Story: On map
Hints and Tips:
1) Destroy the catapults early on (or their engineers)
2) At the end, when you walls are down (you can't repair them), use the weapons your peasants have made to help your swordsmen.
Does such a bridge not look and sound fantasy-like? And this mission of it's defence appears like an experiment: What happens when I set many pikes and swords against a considerable number of xbows?
Playability - 3.5
The siege part takes place in the front half of the bridge. Most of the time you are busy leading groups of xbows and bands tower engines on changing aims. When the huge invasions come ("Stronghold Extreme") there's no room for fantasy but need for cool-hearted leadership of the defences. At the front there's close fighting, and every tile counts: ruined walls still standing, wooden traps or just some steps an emeny has to walk until his hitpoints run out.
What to do then?
Well, the bridge must be that big cause on very hard it will be taken apart. By the Wolf's siege engines. And by me - needed stones to repair gates and towers and to make gold with.
Of course you will strengthen your small army by a +5 fear factor. And you don't stay sitting like a victim but concentrate your marks and move the swords outside to distract some enemies and attack some siege engines.
Changed the game speed often. 10 is of high use at the beginning of invasions, 90 when the hostile swords finally approach. The latter shows that you cannot act much then. The result on very hard: No tower or gatehouse ruined, a little breakthrough at the thin eastern walls. Lost barely 36% of my troops, out of the 50 initial swords about 19 remained (though many of them deadly wounded).
There is a halfly prebuilt economy in the background. During the comparatively short game time there won't come in enough wood to significantly expand the processing. But the trading setting is hevenly. While my workshops spit out weapons for a good dozen of soldiers only, I could exchange stones into a nice reinforcement of xbows and some swords.
Hard is the map, not least because pitch and engineers / oil smelter aren't available. Strangely with such a monument but necessarily you cannot place any walls - everybody would rebuild the installation at once.
Balance - 3
If you just stand around and let'em come to surround and breach the walls, the game will may become hard. If you don't but make some moves, it won't. The first invasion is the best because it's a mixed one. The main body still consisting of heavily armoured melee troops, there are indeed many ranged accompanies but moreover LOTS of siege engines most of which will be manned inspite of the player's attempts to smash, shoot or kill-by-sword the engineers. Applaus for the siege tower (two on very hard). If such a mixture had continued the mission would have stayed engaging. Without it it turned into pigeon shooting.
Creativity - 3
The setting is clear, massive power of armour vs. defenders shooting for their lives. Restrictions sensefully bring out the experimental character but liminate the playability.
Map Design - 2.5
Dominating is the bombastic bridge, looking fantasy-like in its size. A fortress in itself with many towers, small moats, pitch and wooden traps. Sheer symmetry prevails, also in the square by-castle. Curious seems the absence of any guards in the rear part.
The rest is basics, as Constant_Threat admits. Some hilly lines and the higher sea plateau appear erratic.
A +0.5 I give for two sign posts and the well working script including a triple invasion in the end.
Story/Instructions - 4
In the descriptions clear personal statements. And in-game a story, very short but in a fine style. This was a pleasure for me. It tells of a wealthy, kind of promised land the Wolf eventually wants to conquer. Unfortunately there isn't much too see like this on the map.
For the fans of big slaughtering.
Try to deepen the gameplay in further missions.
Please write a more detailed story. I'll love it.