A large and perilous mission. You are a young knight sent on a testing mission into the harsh wilds of Scotland. You are to subdue the land which is plagued with wolves - of both the four and two legged variety. The aim is to destroy the base of the local Robber Baron and kill him - and of course to provide a healthy horde of Gold for your avaricious King. But if only things were so simple. The Robber Baron is being aided by hands unseen - and you cannot know what will be thrown at you. One thing is sure - you will need all your guile and wit to meet all your objectives - and a Stronghold to survive.
This is a superb non-stop combat invasion. It lasts a long time and is a lot of fun. However it has some playability and balance problems. It wouldn’t take much to adjust them. If Od smoothed them out, it would be an awesome game.
Playability 4: I give it a 4 (and almost a 5) even though it has some interesting mechanical problems, because it’s just too much fun. The spirit of the law comes first. Here are the glitches.
1. The “lose conditions”:
a. Lord killed! There is no Lord in the game. This turns out to be an advantage when hundreds of enemy troops are running through your village. They can’t kill him, coz he’s not there. It may have been the author’s intent, since it makes you much harder to defeat. Remove that condition from the editor?
b. Your troops killed: 200. Just when I was starting to have some fun: bam! I lost (twice) because of the troop loss clause. You are fighting hundreds upon hundreds of enemies. You are bound to have heavy losses. The 200 is not realistic. I think if you survive with 3 spearmen you deserve to win.
2. The enemy castle:
The win conditions are economic – wood, gold and ale. You can completely ignore the castle and still win. I did attack it in my first game and was close to taking it when I got called away on business: pig, rat, wolf and snake invasion business. Put a Lord in the castle and make “Enemy Lord killed” one of the win conditions. But then ease up on the invasions and the troop loss penalty.
3. Repeating invasions:
I would turn off the repeating of the last two invasions. Heck, if the player has survived this far, he deserves to win! If you made it necessary for him to kill the enemy Lord in the castle, you would add variety and make it possible to actually finish the game sooner. (I thought it went on too long).
In summary: No Lord; 200 troops too low; too many repeating invasions; enemy castle irrelevant.
Technically I should give it a 2, but the hell with technique.
Too heavily weighed on the AI side. Fortunately the AI demonstrates an IQ of 34.6 most of the time. It is winnable – especially if you boom early – but extremely tough. I actually had about 500 enemy troops running through my town looking for the Lord. My 150 xbows in towers were the only thing that survived. They killed everyone of the enemy but I got KO’ed on a technical (200 troops clause). I don’t know if the author had foreseen this possibility.
You can feel the author had a lot of fun and test-played a lot. You are dealing on three planes at once: economic goals, the enemy castle, and massive invasions. The map flow is ideal.
Map design: 4
The layout is perfect. In the end that is the main thing. The map is quite rough, though, and could use a lot of finishing work. I give it a 4 because esthetics are not indispensable to awesome gameplay.
Story and Instructions: 4
Clear and well written.
This deserves higher than a 4 but could also have ended up with a 3.2. I would suggest clearing up the playability and balance issues. Also look at the map-finishing threads in the forum. Check out other designers’ maps (for example Sulis’ and Lord Yoshi’s). Use the design tools to make the map more realistic and esthetic. Great job Od B. I intend to win this one.