THE CALL OF THE KING
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''In the event of an attack by the tyrant, by signing this document I will formally undertake to provide military aid
Sir Geoffrey, Baron of the King''
The document that you just saw was signed by all the nobles loyal to the King, about twelve years ago. At that time there reigned a solid and lasting peace, and no one ever imagined having to fulfill that promise. But they were wrong!
The first signs of an impending war were seen almost immediately. Some explorers reported looted villages and farms burned. At first the King thought it was only the bands of brigands, but over time he had to reconsider. The attacks took place in succession, and they hit the villages supplying the royal castle. In addition, not robbers were never seen in those places. When it was understood what was happening, the war council was convened. From all over the kingdom came the nobles who had sworn allegiance, worried by the events of recent days. During the meeting they examined the possibility of an attack, but many said they think there was no danger. For others, there was a serious possibility that the war began. The assembly was divided into two parties, who accuse each other. You, shaken by the cowardice of the nobility, leave the room and return to your home. The days passed and one morning a messenger came to your castle, which informs you that the war council it was decided that there was no danger of a war. You are angry, are you sure that soon will come and destroy all enemy armies, since there is an army.
Meanwhile, continue to get news of a great shift of men,of villages burned and looted castles. It seems that the enemy is going to the castle of the king. Your worst fears are realized one afternoon, when a knight arrives breathless at your castle. <<The King is in danger, the castle is under siege, and the general sent me to call for reinforcements!>> At first you think you do not go to spite the King, but you think back now. Prepare the army and marched towards the royal palace ...
The king's castle consists of two parts: the walls that enclose the city and the hill where stands the royal palace. Deep ditches give additional protection, and drawbridges are located at strategic points. For the fortress there are two entrances: one is the bridge that connects the palace to the city, the other is behind the fortress, after a system of ditches.
The enemy will come at once, so you must hurry to raise the drawbridge to gain time. The time gained will serve you to position your troops, arriving from the south-east. The enemy army is very numerous, and consists mostly of archers and armored units. You must use the ditches and pitch flammable. Use wisely engineers with pots of boiling oil.
The only objective is to resist to the hordes of enemies, but will not be easy, since the royal castle is virtually helpless!
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The map offers an unique gameplay feeling, from the beginning to the end the player being under the stress of massive 'rivers' of invasions. In addition, the large castle, taking like 1/4 of the map size makes the scenario even harder to manage. Besides these strong points there are however negative aspects on gameplay as well which I would like to detail for the mapmaker. (in order of importance)
1. The enemy hordes are massive as they should, but the way they are scripted makes them behave in a different matter, most of them sitting at the signpost for a long period of time. To avoid that, the invasions should be scripted in smaller amounts and arrive during more months. For example, from a 500-troops invasion you make 2 invasions arriving in separate months. This way they will attack together and no troops will sit pointless at the signpost. (multiple signposts should also be placed)
2. The huge amount of moat should always be avoided because it leads to weird AI behavior. Even if the gate has no bridge, the troops just dig the moat instead of attacking the castle.
3. The shields availability often leads to player's superiority over the invasions, one of the reasons which made the map easier in the first place.
4. In the end of the map, the victory screen did not appear due to some enemy troops got stuck on the lowered walls as pathways so I had to kill them 'manually'. You can't do anything about that, except making the invasions avoid walking on the custom roads.
5. A personally issue I did not like was the crossbows stuck on the walls. I had to release them manually and I believe they have no point being stuck.
Despite the good score I had on very hard and first try (42% losses), the map was not that easy as some may think and I had to use a couple of complex tactics to trick the invasions. The player has a much less amount of troops than the enemy and a limited amount of troops is also allowed to be hired. Then looking upon the huge castle and the fear of not winning the map becomes present. A very good managing of the player's military forces will show however grave AI mistakes which will later turn into easier difficulty.
First of all I built two large towers near the front gatehouse. I filled them with all my archers and crossbows and also had like 7 shields on each tower. THAT was like a massacre for the enemy archers and most of the heavy troops got their life to half in no time. Also I used flowers to get full fear factor bonus. In the end of the map I retreated to the keep and destroyed the gatehouse. The tons of swordsmen sitting at the signpost just rushed to the lord but they all died in the sea of fire due to the many preplaced pitch ditches.
I think the map has a high level of creativity especially in the map idea and design layout.
Basically the map is a normal one, the player has to defend a big castle against the enemy but the way the mapmaker arranged everything is highly creative. I can say the castle and surroundings blends well with the situation and helps giving the great gameplay atmosphere.
Map Design: 3.5
The castle was nice but it felt a bit empty as only some building were placed here and there. If a castle is big, there should be also a big economical and/or military structure inside it, not only long walls for the archers to run on. The terrain could also be worth of some diversity, more tree types/bushes. In this case it is limited to hills and lower roads in between. All in all it wasn't a bad design but it could have been improved on certain aspects. An above average mark here.
The story was very good, not too short and I liked it but some more details could've been added. Else, an excellent effort.
Questions and arguments to my points are welcome.
The Call of the King
No matter how well the invasions can be scripted, there comes a point when the player's castle and the outright ineffectiveness of the AI are enough to render the invasions an unsuitable siege force. In the case of this map, the most likely culprit would be the sheer, immense size of the main castle, compared to the small keep area. Secondary faults include the vast moat, "funnelling" (which I will explain later), and various other distractions.
1) Castle Size - The largest section of the castle obviously means the invasions' first target. Many enemy troops waste their time on destroying buildings irrelevant to their primary objective.
2) Moat - Pikemen, macemen spend a great deal of time digging the moat up, which does not pertain to the completion of their main task, as the hill which the keep is situated upon is inaccessible except through the bridge and the guarded corridor at the back: two "funnels" I will now describe about:
3) "Funnelling" - The easiest trick in annihilating massive armies is to lure them into a narrow pass, then spring a trap (perferrably fire or troops). The design of these funnels made the mission a lot easier and caused the AI to behave erratically - as it is programmed to send troops to attack over a period of time, yet stations the army close enough to the keep for the player's archers to fire on it.
- Generally, there was a lot of room for both the player and the AI to manoeuver around.
- Good selection of invading troop types.
- Requires the player to micromanage. Managing the economy is something the player should be constantly thinking about, economy --> supports --> military, defense against the ongoing siege.
Excellent balance. As with the typical siege, the defending side has fewer troops but the advantage of a fortress, which the player must defend wisely.
Balance is affected because shields are allowed, attacking archers and xbows stand no chance against archers and xbows behind shields. Balance is also affected by the aforementioned "funnelling".
- Right amount of invading + defending troops.
I find castle design a big step forward from you previous map. While the way this siege works is not any different from the way sieges work in other maps, eyecandy tricks and other interesting landmarks add to the exceptional look of this map in particular.
Good Eyecandy tricks:
- Gardens, fountains further add to the feeling of a populated palace.
- Use of a wooden wall trick to create a nice-looking bridge.
Map Design: 4
In general, very detailed. The high ground inside the castle, however, is completely clean of any vegetation or rock of any sort and could use some plants, pebbles, etc. The castle was built on land that would have required some clearing, and even though a lot of the rock would have been cleared out, there should be some remains.
A good, long story, descriptions are a bit lacking in depth but overall well done.
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FINAL SCORE: 4.0/5.0
Another thoughtful creation by LegionHero.