I’ve been playing this scenario a bit lately, and I’ve found it to be quite enjoyable. It nicely fulfills its goal of being a good introductory mission, but could be a tad more challenging.
This scenario is very easy to work with. Placing buildings is not difficult, as the designer has given plenty of leeway in laying them out. It’s obvious where everything should go, and map rotation is not necessary to seek out resources that are too well hidden. This allows the player to concentrate on strategy rather than play “hide-n-seek” searching for materials. All of the needed buildings are available, without unnecessary “extras” that would distract the player from the task at hand. Starting goods are in just the right quantities.
I played this scenario at Normal, Easy, Hard, and Very Hard.
As befits a scenario that is rated as “Easy”, it is not too difficult to reach the stated goals. Victory requirements are few in number and easily understood. The raw materials are readily available and are not too difficult to obtain. The only downside is that the challenges don’t increase significantly with higher settings. Events do occur, but are so widely spaced, weak, and easily recovered from, that operations aren’t disrupted very much. The biggest effect they have is on the player’s popularity, which can be a challenging concept for beginners to grasp. Experienced players, however, will have readily conceived strategies to counter this. The lack of a time limit is the biggest drawback. Players feel no pressure gathering the goods, and even the biggest calamity can eventually be recovered from. The result is that there doesn’t seem to be a way to lose.
Nothing really new to be found here. However, there aren’t many good introductory scenarios on this site that work well as training grounds for beginning players, preparing them for the more demanding missions, so the designer should be congratulated for creating this one. Also, placing the action in the caldera of an extinct volcano is imaginative.
Map Design: 4.5
The designer has obviously put a lot of effort into this part of the scenario, and it shows. There is plenty to look at. Terrain flows smoothly from one area to another, and it all has a natural feel to it. As mentioned above, resources are easily found, but it could be said that the player suffers an embarrassment of riches! It seems the designer couldn’t help but pile on the goodies. A little bit less would be more challenging. Also, it’s a bit of a stretch to imagine that this is the summit of a volcano as it doesn’t resemble one. A slightly larger map showing the slopes of the mountain would help the illusion more.
This is the weakest part of the scenario, in my opinion. The download description lists the requirements of the mission but nothing more. The in-scenario description has more information, but the background story is still very weak. What is there fits the goals of the scenario, but not much else. A bit more depth to the story and, especially, putting it in the download description, will make this mission stand out from the others and make it more attractive to potential customers.
The Bottom Line: While experienced players will probably find it not challenging enough, this is a great scenario for players looking to learn the basics of resource and popularity management, and also those seeking a relaxing mission that won’t clobber them on every little mistake. The map is a joy to behold. Recommended!