Caesarea, Castle of the Week. Please refer to the link for a full description and history.
This is a very large invasion senario with a huge population and an already established crusader town. You are defending against a predominantly Arabian army, but for playability purposes I have incorporated some macemen and pikemen. It's not a recreation of any battle in particular.
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This was an incredibly fun map. It's really more of a "Siege" but as Crusader does not have that as an option it's designed under the "Invasion" mode. The castle is sprawling an the amount of work put in to make the castle town not only believable but functional looking must have been staggering.
The castle itself is very well designed. Not impossible to defend but definitely not easy. I found myself able to repel the first few rounds of attackers without to much difficulty but eventually I had to quit the walls and retreat to the security of the keep.
The AI works very well with this map and comes at you in very strong, well coordinated waves. The attacker troop balance is also well designed. Except for one flaw. Too many horse archers!
This brings up the one problem I had with the map that led me to lowering the ratings slightly. At the end I had repelled all the waves of attackers, with the sole exception of pockets of horse archers scattered throughout my castle and the countryside that refused to budge. I finally had to send out troops to route them. This is almost suicidal and I finally was forced to use my King to attack and destroy the last pockets of these stubborn horse archers.
At the end, my King killed the last horse archer when he was about one bowshot away from death. A nicely dramatic ending, but one that should not have been necessary.
I gave the mission a playability of 5 simply because the castle was so well designed. Various tactics for defense are available and I used the most basic. I'm certain I will play this mission several more times just to experiment with different forms of defense.
The balance received a rating of 4 only because of the difficulty with the Horse archers. Otherwise it was excellent.
The creativity received a 4 only because I saw nothing stunningly original in the design. But for this type of map, nothing was needed and would probably just have taken away from the basic purpose of the map.
Map design gets a 5 due to a few different reasons.
1: The town is (as I mentioned before) wonderfully laid out. It looked (to me anyway) very realistic and functional.
2: The map design works very well with the AI. The enemy navigates through the terrain without any problems. Half of the maps I design, the AI will just sit back and drool at the signpost due to some rock or wall that for some reason
renders them useless. Not so here. It all runs so smoothly I just had to give it a 5.
Story and instructions received 4 rather than a 5 due to a couple of small factors. After having played the map I have now stumbled across the "Castle of the week" write-up that this map accompanied. It would have been nice to have
the write up included with the downloaded file, or even on the download page. It's a wonderful write-up and, had I read it before playing the map, I suspect my experience would have been made that much richer. Unfortunately I missed the comment on the download page that would have directed me to the write-up until after the fact.
Overall, I strongly recommend this map to anyone who enjoys a good siege. You do still have a touch of the economic side to play with and that gives you the opportunity to customize your defense slightly each time you play it.
Playability (5). This scenario has got a lot to offer anyone with a spare hour to see off the Arabian hordes (or have them see you off). I played it three times before I got a victory, and even then it wasn't the conventional way to defend a castle. I've now got to win the 'proper' way, and I came very close on my fourth attempt. If you like defending castles against overwhelming force then this one is made for you.
Balance (4). The odds are certainly stacked in favour of the attacking force, but there's nothing underhand about it. At a guess, you are outnumbered six or seven to one, although not all at the same time. My aged computer struggled to keep up with the frenetic action on occasions, let alone my poor defenders. You can't build or repair walls, gatehouses or towers in this mission, but that's probably for cissies anyway. You also can't recruit any more crossbowmen, so it's important to keep those you have out of harm's way.
Creativity (4). I like the little touches such as the irrigation ditches, the ruins, the breakwaters and the sparse vegetation. It all gels so well. You have just over 3000 gold and what you spend that on is possibly critical to the mission outcome. There's a good selection of troop types and the disposition of those 300 around your perimeter is equally crucial. You also get a fully-stocked larder and an assortment of weapons.
Map Design (4). The castle is the main focus of attention and it looks splendidly authentic, although it's probably seen better days. The grounds and environs are a hive of domestic activity, but you know it won't last for long. The scenario just has combat in mind and that's what this map provides.
Story/Instructions (3). The story is pretty basic and I didn't know to which link the author was referring in his instructions. I thus didn't get any background on this former Castle of the Week.
Conclusion. This scenario certainly provides value for money but there's no messing about with subtlety; it's a full-scale battle almost from the start. There are a few too many horse archers at a loose end when the fighting subsides, but I was so grateful for a victory that I could happily put up with the inconvenience of finishing them off.
it is the best game
Awesome. Without doubt is is one of the best if not the best.
This map is one of the best I hav had the fortune of playing. the castle is designed down to last tiny detail. It took me many sleepless nights to finally finish this. the only minor flaw was the abundance of horsearchers that were left hanging around at the end which were annoying to have to hunt down. but apart from that it is perfect.
I had much fun with this map. The playability was average. I called my whole army to my keep and sat them their until the invasion came. They broke into the castle and headed straight for the keep. Big mistake for them. ALL the invasions just came into an onslaught of arrows and there was barely any hand to hand combat. My swordsmen and pikemen did nothing because they didn't have to.
The invasion was huge and they just kept coming. If I didn't take my army to the keep and left them on the walls, they would have put up a good fight but would have died. Therefore I would have lost.
Creativity was great. The giant invasions were awesome.
Map Design: 5
Map design: INCREDIBLE!!! The landscape was perfect. But it is also the castle that deserves most of the credit. The castle design (if I could) deserves a 6.0 . There was something about it; something that seemed historical. I liked the seaport and the keep being on that broken off piece of land, was cool.
If anybody is looking for a fun invasion, this map is worth downloading. Althought the score is not perfect, it is still a really fun map.
[Edited on 04/17/07 @ 02:51 AM]