[center][b]The Devils Elbow
|Made with version:
by WL_D Arthus
Scenario created for the [url=http://stronghold.heavengames.com/cgi-bin/forum/display.cgi?action=st&fn=20&tn=2284&f=20,0,0,5]SHH 2nd Fantasy Scenario Competition[/url][/b][/center]
[center]Long had my father ruled over our people, his heart was good and pure and his ideals noble. His face was smooth then, weightless and without burden. The war came from beyond the hills and further still and then across a sea, great ships filled with horses and iron men broke upon us like the sea on bear rock. With
each passing campaign those who had rallied fell, and soon the faces that had been familiar to me became foreign… some would never return. Both the faces of smooth youth and creased age were cast, like sand into the wind, scattered and not more than a memory. Soon one could count the number of men on a single hand, the war had been lost, our lives forfeit. They said that my father begged for mercy, groveling on the floor like an animal. He begged that they spare his people, his life wagered as a sacrifice, a thousand years of servitude in this life and then the next…
I know not of what they did to him, or of what was said, I know only that of the demand…
…Vassalage. I was a boy then… [/center]
The full storyline can be viewed within the zip file,
|Author||Reviews ( All | Comments Only | Reviews Only )|
WARNING: Contains spoilers!
This was more of an economic puzzle map, and it forces you to think in unconventional ways, which gives the map a high score. You're given some starting resources that would normally lend themselves to certain uses - ale, bows, and spears. Rather than use them for their normally intended purpose, I sold them all to buy more starting wood. Also I set rations to half and focused on stone quarries, wood cutters, and iron mines in that order. Left over wood was put toward starting dairy farms. Forcing the use of this sort of starting strategy is unusual and is a large part of the playability score. Once I had three quarries with two ox tethers each, I started ramping up food production. This was sufficient to achieve the resource goals before the second attack, by which point I had ~55 archers. At that point though, these were irrelevant, as I just bought some ale, built an inn, waited for the victory timer to count down, and the scenario was over. The second wave appeared on the map but it never reached me. During the scenario my fortifications consisted only of a wall around the campfire with a wooden gatehouse. This fulfilled my defensive needs. Playability suffered slightly because after food production was up and running, there wasn't much to do, but on the whole the map was interesting. Also, I like the PYOK aspect, although I think the only valid location is next to the iron mines, otherwise getting the iron would take forever.
At first this map baffled me because I thought in traditional terms of beating off the attacks. The first time I won this map, I did it by breaking the AI so they didn't do anything, but I thought of that as cheating so I tried a different tack and went for achieving the goals before the attacks became overwhelming. Once I figured out the economic puzzle, the scenario wasn't too difficult, it was just a matter of refining the solution. The balance score is mostly a reflection of how difficult it was to find the solution to the puzzle.
I like this map because it poses a pseudo time limit, defined by attacks the player can't possibly handle, as well as a true time limit. Also the economic puzzle coupled with invasion was a good twist on your standard scenario.
Map Design: 5
I don't think I have to say too much about this. As per usual from this designer, this map has excellent attention to detail, and, I'm fairly well amazed at the amount of work that must have gone in to producing that river. That must have been extremely tedious and time-consuming.
There was no story in the scenario objectives, but there was a well-written and lengthy story packaged with the scenario. Good work on the story, gets a five from me.
A very good-looking map that's fairly fun to play. Give it a try.
The Devils Elbow is simply an epic map. Such high quality is not easy to find in the invasion downloads as of late and it is good to see such a talented veteran still designing. Challenging from start to finish this map is a test for players of all levels.
Playability : 5 Thoroughly playable and enjoyable at any level of difficulty. As long as the player is honest in gauging their own skill level, ie: beginners play on easy, veterans play on hard, etc... This map is one of those rare gems that will have you playing again and again just to see how many different ways you can achieve victory. So High marks here for the replay ability of the map alone. I personally was able to eke out the victory conditions on the very hard level of difficulty. However, had the Snake not been such a coward, I would have easily been overrun by his final attack.
Balance : 5 In context to how one must go about obtaining victory the map is spot on in balance. Overall, the map will appear unbalanced in favor of the AI, especially to the novice eye. Once you figure out to win however you will see how erroneous such an assumption truly is. With practice, one will find ample time left to achieve any secondary goals they may desire such as religion or crossbow production. Although, at the end of the day, I found most of these to be ill attempted distractions from the task at hand and essentially more problematic than beneficial to my small outpost in this bleak and barren landscape. I do wish there had been a way to defeat the Snake but that is just the Siege artist in me ballyhooing. MUST HAVE A TOTAL VICTORY ;)
Creativity : 5 ... and so inventive because you cannot!!! Fantastic such attention has been lavished not only on the design but on almost every single tile of this spacious and wild looking map. WLDS signature mountains are here in abundance and as always superbly rendered. What is new here.... and anything new at this point is to be heavily lauded! :) is an incredibly rendered river using moat squares and the 2000 stone printing press trick.This eye candy river simply must be seen to be believed. To create something on this level takes a lot of skill, time and patience. As if all this was not enough, Lord Arthus has also given us a large, extremely well designed and detailed ruined castle. Yes, these have been done before but rarely on such a grand scale. Once again the author proves why they are some of the best designers of all time.
Map Design : 4.5 A wonderfully rendered cold and forbidding terrain. Areas of snow, grass, water and rock are effortlessly seamed and produce an excellent landscape to play in. Again, those fantastic WLD mountains use burned terrain for an incredible aesthetic effect. Alas, a small design error in the ruins of the old castle gatehouse can cause oxen sprites to jam. This seems to be directly related to how the player arranges his stone quarry on the area suitable for stone production closest to said gatehouse. Indeed, too close is what seemed to cause this niggle. Not an insurmountable error but it did force a restart. Also, as wonderfully rendered as the ruined castle is, I did not understand the design of that forward gatehouse/barbican structure afore mentioned..... Twas indeed the only part of the ruins and the only spot on the map as a whole I could not picture in its heyday. Forget cannibalizing the ruins to gather stone the author has insured you cannot. On this subject, give up the notion of destroying the wonderful little eye candy bridges as well as the author again has seen to it that the enemy has permanent access regardless.
Storyline/Instructions : 5 Wonderfully written and thoroughly engaging. These days one longs for such a well fleshed out story that directly relates to the map and what action is about to take place. Such work helps to immerse the player in a deeper level of game play. One actually cares about the characters for a change! Well done! This is how to do it in respects to this category.
The Devils Elbow is a new day classic. Do not let its late release date fool you, this is an exceptional invasion map. Challenging and creative, this map is not one of the play and throw away designs that are in abundance now days. This one is a keeper!
[Edited on 03/23/13 @ 11:54 PM]