***Stronghold Crusader HD Castle MOD "Ultimate" version 1.6. - extensively playtested - by Squire12***
Why does the Wolf need modded castles?
While the vanilla castles of the Wolf may look impressive - apart from the two-tower wolf8 one, they are severely underpowered in both defence and economy. Often there is only one point of entry, with none in the back, or the other way around. This seriously screws over the economy as the main bottleneck in Stronghold is the time that workers walk from the production / food buildings to the stockpile/ granary. Also, when sieged, the entire economy is easily disrupted, especially when the entry is towards the enemy. Even worse, when the AI runs out of wood & gold it will eventually tear down all buildings, this the defences are never brought to the test.
Through extensive playtesting, I have found that the crucial aspect of whether the (Wolf) AI thrives or fails is open gates, so that the economy can flourish, and access to stone & iron. Particularly stone is incredibly important as the wolf builds up to 6 quarries and uses it as his main source of revenue (particularly with fear factor bonus). To enable this, all castles have protected gates in the back, and 8 of these 9 designs also have points of entry at the front to both sides. Further, the overall footprint has been kept in check as far as possible, particularly to the sides and back, so that the castle is less likely to be build
on top of resources like stone and iron.
Additionally, the weapons industry and economy "routes" are heavily optimised for maximum efficiency. Defences are as strong as space permits with maximum garrisons and siege equipment placed. Walls are thick, and all types of traps used to maximum effect. Finally, the optimised economy will result in the Wolf attacking more frequently & in greater numbers than with vanilla castles (with the possible exception of vanilla Wolf 5&6 that have a decent economy).
Due to inherent limitations (AI does not repair towers & sieges incompetently) a patient player will always have the upper hand, but 3-7 wolves should form a formidable opposition.
What is "ultimate" about this:
Well, I admit that for a 15-year old game with many Wolf AIV mods available already, it is necessary to stand out in some form (is anybody even still playing this?). However, most importantly I do believe that these castle designs are superior in terms of in-game performance to both vanilla and any other mods that I encountered. The build order has also been painstakingly optimised for 10.000 starting gold, but most castles also do work well enough with less gold, but are vulnerable to clever rushing.
Last, but not least I have spent huge amounts of time playtesting and perfecting these designs over the course of two months, thus spending more time and effort than any other AIV mod. As a result, the designs are well-rounded with a very efficient layout in terms of economy and space, strong defence and overall very solid performance on most standard maps.
All castles feature:
6 Round towers with 3x ballistas and 3x mangonels; 3 fire ballistas & 3 trebuchets
pitch/ killing pits and 7 designs also have moat, 5-6x oil
good fit on most maps - certainly for Wolf 8 & 9 - same footprint as vanilla wolf8 (the ugly two towers one)
much less likely to build on top of resources as iron and stone due to reduced width & depth
10 Hovels for 90 population
2 Breweries and 3 Inns for +8 Ale coverage, no chapels
-2 fear factor for +20% production, -10% troop attack penalty
(Wolf will buy cheese and bread and sell fruit for +2 from food, resulting in at least -8 taxes)
7-8 fire fighters on wells and water pots both inside and outside the castle
Plus one of these three weapons industry arrangements, in maximum efficiency close to stockpile and armoury:
Industry 9 (2 Stockpiles): 2 Fletchers, 2 Tanners, 1 Poleturner, 2 Blacksmiths, 2 Armourers
Industry 11 (2 Stockpiles): 2 Fletchers, 3 Tanners, 2 Poleturners, 2 Blacksmiths, 2 Armourers
Industry 12 (needs 3 Stockpiles for Iron): 2 Fletchers, 3 Tanners, 2 Poleturners, Blacksmiths, 3 Armourers