Posted on 02/27/11 @ 02:19 PM (updated 03/04/11
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You are son of Gerard Volpe, a family member of the mighty Volpe clan. And as one out of the Volpes, the only thing you acknowlege is Power itself. As you grow up your uncle Duke Volpe, also called the Wolf, takes control over the Homelands and in order to keep you away without loosing sight of you, he assigns you a small castle near the borders. You take the adventure and pack all your stuff together in the illusion it would stop your thirst for the throne. The travel takes you to "Stonehill" village that's located directly underneath your new home. It's a small and peaceful place with some small wheat fields, a lot of rabits and an inn with the name "The Lonely River". Thats definitely not what you had in mind and you almost want to turn around and strangle your uncle to death, but you keep a cool head and make your way up to the castle. The first impression of the Stronghold, that is a located on a crag, gives you back your enthusiasm since its a small but strong looking fortification. But as you enter your hopes get darkened in the true sense of the word because most of the inner buildings are burned down and you understand begin to understand why your uncle sent you here. "I swear by my sword this is going to cost you your head, uncle, you just wait" you say to yourself as the gatekeeper escorts you to the keep. With that in mind, the first thing you do is send out some of your men that accompanied you to search for mineral resources, since the near mountains are untouched by men. The days go into the land but your scouts can't find anything but trees and the old stonequarry, that got buried under alot of earth after a big storm. It seems hopeless and you decide to go with the situation you have and start building up a stronger economy, since you don't have a big choice anyway. Frustrated as you are you try to get some trade going, but the only ones who want to buy what you can give are small towns and some rebels in the mountains, who could be of good help for you later on.
Half a year after you came to Stonehill you've nearly given up to the idea of finding some valuable resoucres, as some of the tunnelers find iron in the nearby mountains. Those news blow you out of your shoes and your mind gets infested with the happiness of finaly getting a piece of light to make your dream, to take on your uncle who banned you into these rotten lands and become the Ruler of the Homelands become reality. Since you know that your uncle keeps an eye on your actions, you decide to take your time to prepare a fast mining and production of the weapons you need for the upcoming invasion. Since the Duke Volpe won't wait for you to just come at him with a full army, he'd rather crush you before you get powerfull enough to step before him equally. And never forget, his military force is extraordinary big and well trained but low on moral since Duke Volpe isn't such a nice guy. You should take advantage of this and they might change sides as soon as you filled up your armory enough to be an actual threat tho your uncle. If the stituation gets bad use the escape tunnel to not get killed and buy you some time. But also don't loose your armory out of sight, if it goes down you may have no chance of reaching your goals.
Now its up to you.
Click for bigger Image.
Conditions on normal:
get 22 swords
get 22 armours
get 43 crossbows
get 64 spears
and dont get killed.
I hope you play and enjoy
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This is not the kind of map you play and win within a day nor a map winnable for anyone. That is a double-edged thing however and has both positive and negative aspects. On another side, not the gameplay length makes the map less replayable but it's complexity and difficulty which sometimes makes the map frustrating. The unusual but realistic layout of castle, buildings and hills are an addition to the difficulty because the player has to change his 'standard' tactics to work here, on a slightly different map, this being a very good aspect for the overall playability as well as for the creativity.
The map had a very special feeling when playing it partially thanks to the amazing terrain. However, the gameplay could use more events as only some of them were scripted and in some moments it felt a bit 'empty'.
The invasions are likely to cause destruction, especially for unprepared players. The economy infrastructure is hard to defend because it's situated outside the castle - so walling it up would be a good choice although the bigger the castle gets the harder it is to defend it. The economical objectives, despite most being weapons, were hard to achieve due to something I rarely encountered in other maps and that's the big distance from the stockpile to granary and keeping a high popularity proved to be a challenge sometimes. The huge distance from iron mines to stockpile was also something which made the economy slower. In conclusion, the player has to set everything up early to compensate the already slow production. Flowers can be destroyed but unable to be rebuilt, favoring the economy but then the troops get weaker. Among the many choices the player can do, building gallows is another thing and will prove useful against the lazy peasants.
The way I described everything may seem easy, but a very good managing of both military and economy is required.
This is clearly a highly creative map among all it's aspects, even in the description page which with an exceptional use of HTML turned to be in my opinion the nicest description page ever. The terrain is not only a masterpiece but shows alot of originality as well. The economy infrastructure outside the main castle, the stockpile half looking like a marketplace, the hills beautiful shaped, the mountains at the map edges, the keep stronghold and the list can go on, they are all incredible creative. The story reveals another area of quality-creativity and even the gameplay has original aspects, like the tunnelers destroying the walls to let iron mines be built or the king 'visit' in the the ruins.
Map Design: 5
As I mentioned before, the map design is truly a masterpiece. The author has shown outstanding editor skills by designing this whole map, full of tricks and natural-looking hills and mountains. In addition, the castle itself is a realistic stronghold. In conclusion it's obvious that the whole map design must have taken entire days to finish, not to mention the scripting and playtesting as well.
The story is well-written, lengthy with details and it reads well. A worthy 5 for the effort.