This is a fictional siege loosely based on factual events. Henry I confiscated Berkhamsted in 1104 rather than besieged it. The Castle plan is based on pictures and plans of the actual fortifications and the massive and elaborate earthworks that can still be seen today in Hertfordshire, England. Naturally, the timber fortifications are fictional. A short summary of the real history of Berkhamsted Castle like what usually accompanies my download submissions is available on the launch page before you begin the siege.
William of Mortain, The Defenders Siege, (Best played on Hard - Very Hard levels of difficulty)
An excerpt from the Scribe of Berkhamsted's journal,
It hath now been a fortnight since we first saw the smoke of the Norman Kings campfires over the hills to the south. Although the river valley is still secure, I fear it will not be long before thy masters own kin rides over those yonder hills with his ruthless Lords to dispatch us. Tis' a fearsome thought these armored men on horseback. We are well stocked with sustenance of every nature but this gives little solace, as we are all now imprisoned here amongst these wooden walls of our own creation. Last night only two of the scouts returned, a full dozen having been set to this dangerous task. The fate of the others we know not and no more shall be sent. The two most fortunate, Giles of Surrey and the gimp they call Rufus told us of the terrible woe that was soon to befall us. One spoke of the Kings best horsemen a full score at least. Of this we had expected though not in such great numbers. The other spoke of a danger we knew not. Mercenaries! Armored men of the pike from the lands once ruled by Charlemagne. He spoke of as many as three score of these hired veterans. These are men for whom warfare is a business and they will be well experienced in the art of combat. This is very grave news indeed and it hath set a dismal pall upon the garrison. I am not a man of mace or sword and have little knowledge of such matters but such a force we cannot hope to overcome. I fear that all may be lost. All the while that ominous smoke, never ceasing, never tiring, an evil messenger that blackens the sky and speaks of the death and bloodshed that is to come. Aye my Brethren, these are dark times that have befallen us.
Henry I, The Attackers Siege, (Best played on Normal- Very Hard levels of difficulty)
From the letters of The Honorable Roland of Aachen, Mercenary Commander under contract to Henry I,
We have been on the island nation for several fortnights and hath now spent two full phases of the moon encamped in the hills on the outskirts of a place called berk-HAM-sted. My men who at first welcomed these idle moments now grow weary and complain more each day of rust on their pikes and longings for home. It is a mystery to me as well why the Norman King waits so long to commence the business at hand. As I watch him about the camp, I feel at times that he cares more for his horses than for us who shall spill our blood for his kingdom. Alas, we are well paid for our trouble. The neighboring valley of a river called the BUL-bourne possesses a massive pile of timber. A fortress set amongst its moats so well it appears as a castle standing upon a lake. Fantastic ramparts surround the whole of the site. Thrown up by the Grandfathers of the men who now occupy this land. I have seen their types countless times on the mainland as it is from whence they came. Rarely have I seen them of this scale and it doth give me some trouble for as to how we shall go about it on the morrow. However, a pile of wood such as this is a dying breed. We have already seen and taken castles of stone that now occupy this island in numbers as they do on the mainland. I have heard that the man who doth own this castle hath the blood of the Kings Father in his veins. Thus are the sorrowful struggles of this fledgling Norman nation that hath yet to reach its fiftieth year of age.
Authors notes: To simulate the garrison's low morale all defenders have a -10% to their troop combat 'bonus'. This is an earlier siege than most on the site, (think back to the combat campaign's timeline). Siege engines such as the ballista, catapult and trebuchet would not be used for some time. Massive amounts of troops such as crossbowmen, swordsman, and even 100's of pikemen would not really have been feasible, unless you were the King! Anyway, I designed this with lighter troops in mind. There are several combinations you can use of macemen, spearmen, archers, or even those wily monks! I suggest you at least try it with the troop combination provided and that any combination have at least a moderate amount of pikemen (50) and a few crossbowmen for power, as it is a very large castle. Feel free to try shields, battering rams and even siege towers, (you must expose four consecutive undamaged wooden wall walk units to successfully dock a siege tower).
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What a great siege map this is! I meant to review this ages ago, so this is overdue. Well overdue! Berkhamsted here is an enormous wooden motte & bailey design with intricate earthworks and moats giving a real scale to the castle. As an attacker (and defender) the map is flawless... a straight forward siege and you are spoilt for choice with attacking options. With an extremely good balance of troop strengths (i.e. no overkill of crossbowmen and pikemen), the author has done amazingly well to create a cracking siege, and it really can be played on either attacking or defending. The trick here is to view the assault tactically, looking for a weakness in the defences, as on hard setting you don't have many troops. I opted to play with the units given to you, per the author's recommendations, which is perfectly suitable and offers a real test. Really good stuff, very enjoyable.
Almost a 5 score, but not quite. That said, this is a hard map to beat. You are under fire from multiple locations with archers manning towers. They may not be large in numbers but they pick away at you and eventually weaken your army strength. The only small criticism, if criticism is the right word, is that it would have been a little better if you were forced to enter the castle via the appropriate gateways and paths. This map cries out for an assault using historical methods, but I found a number of ways in without trying to take out gatehouses which were naturally more heavily defended. This does not detract from the game really and Berkhamsted is still a wonderful siege map, one of the better ones available by far.
Lots of plus points here for UnikUnok. Thought and care has been lavished on this map from the design through to the story, but also by weakening the troops protecting the castle, which fits in perfectly with the story and the scene which is set. The theme and idea here is second to none, recreating a large motte & bailey castle is difficult IMO and this has to be seen to be believed...
Map Design: 5/5
... because what a map it is! The castle is just about all wooden walling with a few areas of palistone. I can't believe the amount of work that has gone into this map layout. Incredible! Wooden stairs, wonderful moat areas, a really great design throughout. Time and patience are evident here, for to create something like this takes bags of the stuff. The design lends itself to a siege map with no real straightforward way to the keep. The surrounding landscape is fairly flat but modelled well (love the stream/spring feature). Has to be seen to be believed.
Wonderful! A history with a different approach and layout. Very well done, clearly written and even a Word document enclosed complete with Old English font in certain areas. This really adds to the appearance and feel. I really rate a good historical intro and background when recreating castles, and this is one of the best. Another area of the map design that shows care and attention bestowed upon it.
IN SUMMARY: If only for the castle design, this has to be downloaded. As it is, it's a really well thought out siege map that plays great, feels great and looks even better. Play with the starting units, include a few engineers and have fun!