Greetings, fellow designers and mapmakers. I haven't submitted one in while, but have been working, so I give you now to enjoy this little map I've cooked up.
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You play as young William Cartwright, the son of a knight in a yet unnamed land. You have been sent to Stonebridge for reasons that are described in the actual story (which is in the ZIP file...little too long for this page). Your task is to get this castle back on its feet while laying away supplies and equipment for your army AND fending off attacks and underhanded attempts to thwart you by the former lord of these lands.
The map is both reactive and proactive. Rather, there are events that are scripted to happen no matter what, but also others that will only happen if and when you do certain things (take your hints from the last paragraph of the story).
Anyway, please download and try it. A very detailed story is in the ZIP file. Hope you enjoy it and good luck! :)
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I would like to point out that I have played and completed this mission on the "Normal" difficulty.
A nice and beginning step to eco-vasions. This map features goals that are achievable in the duration of the intended last invasion.
I have found, however, that this scenario gets redundant at times and relatively boring as I watched the workers gather resources. I actually already had enough troops by the first invasion that I had not needed to train more to defend against the second. And under two circumstances were there bandits that did not do anything but retreat upon appearance.
Because spears and wood were available to trade, I was able to get the gold requirement achieved pretty quickly.
I am not sure if the cheese was intentionally left open to trade in the market. I was able to buy the cheese by the time I had a surplus of gold from the spears. I would imagine that this was left open for the player to remove the surplus of cheese being produced. But the player could have set the rations level to "Double" for quicker consumption, or he or she could create another granary.
As I stated in the Playability section, the two invasions were weak after ten or so game years. The only problem I had was from the pikemen, because I had only produced archers. They have strong armor, but they do not have strong offensive skills. However, they are one of the soldiers to bring down the wall the fastest.
I enjoyed the events that occurred through some scripted requirement rather than spontaneously in some cases. There were more events occurring than I had expected, slowing down my swords- and armor-making process for a while.
I also liked the fact that you locked the map to prevent people from looking at the editor prior to actually playing the map.
The small groups of the Snake's soldiers at the bridge was a nice touch-up in which the player must recognize that there is an immediate threat in the area, especially with the wolves and bears around.
The far north-western iron mine presented a stump to what I had originally thought was going to be an early-action victory before the final invasion. But I would like to point out that there is enough space to place several iron mines, making this less of a challenge.
Map Design: 2
The map itself was relatively poor-average. My biggest concern was the sprinkle of the "hill" brush without any smoother slopes and the use of the "Hi Plain" option without varying the elevation, making the land seem unrealistic. Most of the land was relatively bare. I liked the small ruins to the east side of the map, but the surrounding shrubs made it less appealing.
The river looked plain, except by the waterfall, in which there were only small "ripple features" going in different directions.
The mix of the rocks and pebbles, along with the difficult-to-reach iron was a nice addition. Varying your brush size on smaller details can help your map design score significantly.
The second-person point-of-view story was a nice edition to the main events leading to the map itself, resulting in the cliffhanger for the player to decide the fate of William.
Please do not take this review as a negative step in your direction. I remember your map "Foothold" from back in 2008, and I feel that since then, mapmaking has improved significantly and I would like you to get caught up with the more recent discoveries with what you can create through this 11-year-old game.
I would also like to point out that a 3.2 is above-average on a five-point basis.
The map was fun but suffered from poor combat challenges. I did have a lot of fun with it but the balance was obviously off.
The balance was way off. The enemy were too easy, way too easy. I was getting constant archer reinforcements when I already had more than enough. The economic balance was very good though. It had nice pacing and I never felt like I "won" I had to struggling to keep the economy on track. The economic challenges were a lot harder than the bandits ever were. I think if I had to create every archer myself this would have gave this map terrific balance.
The creativity really shine when it came to the economic challenges I had to overcome. Whether dealing with ears while pumping iron or transporting stone across the map it was fun to think about how I was going to overcome these obstacles. The combat was not creative much at all and left a lot to be desired. The map itself also suffered from not enough attention to detail.
Map Design: 3
The map was bare and wasn't very pretty but served the purpose of the story well. Separating the stone by river and placing the only iron near bears was interesting although I am sure some people found it frustrating. Map design could have been significantly improved but it had a consistent style and did what it was suppose to.
The story was absolutely fantastic I thoroughly enjoyed it. I was never confused and everything made sense in context. Giving the enemy a back story is something I always love to read about.
Overall a pretty fun map but suffered from a bleak world with minimal resources. Economic challenges were the highlight and combat left me disappointed but good news is that the economic balance was so good I almost didn't care that the badnits were not a threat. This map might have been very easy but I had a lot of fun playing it.
Castle Stonebridge is an extreme challenge map. A masters ability... nay a natural talent for Classic Stronghold is needed to win this map on even the hard level of difficulty. Maps of this caliber will truly test ones skills. Novice players may become frustrated and although this is an assumption, I wonder if the previous ratings given this map are directly due to its ability to frustrate the less experienced among us. 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. Be prepared to work for that oh so fulfilling victory! ;)
Playability : 4 A massive undertaking this one. Many a time would I curse the bad luck of my village. From plagues to fires to strange maladies that struck down my ever important cows. You will be forced to act and build wisely. Follow the advice given to you by your scribe as it will save you from terrible headaches later on. Wonderfully designed in the respect that one can just about win on Hard if all is done correct to the letter... Alas, such difficulty does tend to effect the replay ability of this map. Almost like asking a veteran to assault Omaha Beach on D-Day...Again!
Balance : 4.5 At first glance it will seem like this map is woefully stacked against the player. In truth, this is a false assessment. You are given just enough starting goods to feel Flush with funds, enough to make some tragic errors your first time out of the gate forcing a restart while also initiating the first round of that afore mentioned. cursing. I cannot say enough that this map is an extreme challenge, contrary to how it has been described by previous reviewers. If one plays on the Very Hard, Hard or even Normal levels of difficulty this map is not an easy task in the slightest. Yes, the enemy forces are easy to beat... Yes, like the assault at the beginning of the map they are easily overwhelmed, ... hint, hint :P However, dealing with said assault will slow your efforts down just enough to not be able to achieve your victory objectives on the harder levels of difficulty.
Creativity : 4.5 An epic adventure story is begun.... and left hanging?? This map and the accompanying tale of William Cartwright are very engaging. Both complement and enrich each other making the game itself far more engaging. I personally loved the Motte and Bailey castle. Lord Karpathea has done a very truthful and accurate recreation of this type of early Norman fortress. The sad beginnings of the village are actually devilishly misleading. Bravo here as close clustering of buildings will become a huge detriment later on. Be prepared to work hard as Lord Karpathea will throw everything but the kitchen sink at you. Had LK been able to, I would have expected incoming kitchen sinks!
Map Design : 4 Overall, an exceptionally well done design. LK brings us a meticulously worked out scenario. In other words there is no room for error or frivolity. Although a little of each can sometimes improve a map. A very harsh and foreboding landscape. I will have to take Bill Cartwrights word that this place was once beautiful. I did feel a little more modulation was needed with the hills. Especially in regards to topography. I also felt the fires were a little much. Not in frequency but in size. A lower setting other then 10 could have been used here to the same effect. Yes, Here was where most of said cursing occurred. Finally, and I hate to print this, all those kill pits give the player a lot of extra wood if one is crafty about it ;) Again in total, excellent work.
Storyline/Instructions : 5 The Tale of William Cartwright is not to be missed. This tale is wonderfully written! Lord Karpathea shows quite a talent for short story writing, or is it longer? I fear LK may have given up on this storyline as Chapter 1 will be a tough act to follow! Character detail, emotions and other such small aspects make this an incredibly well written story. One of the best in a long time.
Overall, be prepared for a tough fight and a serious test of ones Stronghold skills and abilities. Castle Stonebridge is not to be trifled with!