Solutions For Sparrow's Extreme Challenges
My picks of the most difficult maps to play on very hard setting.
Solution to challenge #1 Oct 22, 2005:
1121-Lord of Ludlow by Alan Spencer
Map size: medium Map uploaded: 3/7/02
Your first concern is to attack and kill the enemy lord so the castle will cede to you. Any of his troops that remain will join you after he is killed, so the less you kill the more you'll have for your new castle.
You're given quite a few troops and a considerable variety: archers and crossbowmen, monks, spearmen, macemen, pikemen, swordsmen and knights. Plus tunnelers, siege equipment, engineers and some gold. This gives you quite a few options as to how to go about conducting your siege. Smash the wall with armored troops, use the tunnelers, trebuchets? All can work.
There are three walls to breach to reach the lord, two if you attack the backside near the keep. You can rush through with just melee troops, or bring up the archers and crossbowmen to help. Occupying the enemy's own towers can be particularly effective if you clean them off with macemen first. I used trebuchets to make a hole near the center of the front wall to try to keep damage to a minimum. I had macemen clean off the outer walls and towers and the rest of the melee troops knock a hole in the inner wall. Once inside they proceeded to the final gatehouse for access to the keep. I had some macemen deal with enemy on the inner round tower.
Once you take possession of the castle you will be attacked quite quickly, not giving you time to make much preparation or get much of an economy going. You'll need to repair the walls quickly and as best you can with what you can scavenge. Get you archers and crossbowmen up on the walls and towers as quickly as you can and spread them around. You have a lot of wall to protect. The AI does a pretty good job of surrounding much of the castle and hammering on the walls and towers. Adjust your troops as best you can to protect them.
I massed my melee troops in the outer bailey near the inner gate so they could respond to a breach if one occurred. The bulk of the attack for me went around to the side of the castle towards the rear after failing to break through the front or side. Their assault on the front was relatively light. The front and side walls held, and most of the rear, but they did eventually breach the rear gates and get in. Anticipating the imminent breach I had moved my melee troops into the inner bailey ready to meet them. Being weakened by my archers on the journey around to the back and during the time spent taking the gatehouse down, they were fairly well spent and my melee troops handily dealt with them, then proceeded back around the outside of the walls pursuing the enemy and eliminating them completely.
This is pretty much the break point for the mission. If you can survive this, and then build a strong economy, manufacture plenty of weapons, train lots of troops, and strengthen your walls, you should be fine, even during the huge final invasions you will have to endure. The key is getting that economy going, and fast, and producing lots of weapons.
The first times I played this I demolished all the inner walls, the back wall, and both side walls to make lots of room for buildings. I then had to extend the front wall down to the river and place an extra tower or two. I recessed the gatehouse behind the protection of a couple of towers. This time I kept all the walls just to prove to myself that I could do it. You can't put in quite as many buildings, but it still works fairly well.
You'll need lots of wood and all the stone you can quarry. Get that in motion immediately. I placed lots of dairy farms for temporary food, and put up lots of wheat farms out front, later many hops farms as well. You can also fit a wheat farm or two on the island in the rear of the castle across the ford once cleared of trees. Weapons workshops need to be set up right away and increased as fast as you can. I only produced crossbows and leather armor for quite a while. As the wheat comes in and bread production is set up you should be able to go to double food rations and set up enough inns to get the full +4 ale bonus.
I made crossbows only, plus knights since I kept the armorers and blacksmiths that came with the castle. I strengthened the walls and added larger towers with ballistae and belting walls. As farms were destroyed by the invasions I just rebuilt them afterwards.
If you'd like to post comments, share your own strategy, or see how others have tackled this mission, visit the discussion thread for this map.