Having achieved self-sufficiency, you leave the bandit camp with the longbows. A winter passes, and you receive word that production has stepped up even farther, and another large shipment awaits you. Rumors are flying that the enemy has learned of this production facility, however, and you decide to head back there with all speed.
Two weeks into your journey, scouts report a large enemny force is holding a river valley against your advance. To travel around it would cost precious weeks, so you decide you must break through quickly.
Scouts suggest 3 possible avenues of attack:
1) The flood plain is the most direct route, but it is blocked by a battle line of spearmen, macemen, pikemen, and supporting archers.
2) The river to the north can be crossed, but the fords are likely to be heavily guarded
3) The rugged hills to the southeast might provide cover, but are likely to be filled with hidden ambushes and pitfalls.
Playability: This is a great map in a series, which also plays perfectly well as a stand-alone mission. With so many options available to you regarding how you want to play and defeat the enemy, this is a map that can be played time and time again. A staged battle in open fields, you'll enjoy this: do you rush in or take a more tactical approach? Good fun.
Balance: Playing on the hard setting as recommended by the author, I found this to be just about perfect. The map lends itself to other difficulty settings as well and therefore appeals to a number of different skill levels. Hard setting is ideal, though. I really did wonder if I was going to win throughout the level, because there are 'rush' troops to defend against combined with the attacking element. Excellently done.
Creativity: I have played the first map in this series and this follows on very well from the initial map. Combined with this, the use of a staged battle fits in beautifully with the story. An interesting series of maps, if anyone is thinking of downloading! Good idea and good story.
Map Design: perfectly suited to what the author is presenting. No overly fancy, but well made. What is key here are the different approaches you can take in order to win and the map compliments this idea.
Story/instructions: perfectly readable, simple to understand, creative in that the story continues to unfold nicely and generally well done.
In summary: definitely worth a download, as are the other maps in this series. Something for everyone here.
Edited: meant to give 4 for story, not 3. Review amended.