News Archives: 2005

A New Year, A New Challenge!

Extreme Challenge #6

Alwyne Valley
by Duke of York

The next challenge is Duke of York’s excellent Alwyne Valley, a 30 year map with eco goals, plenty of invasions and a time limit. Features a picturesque valley where you can choose you keep’s location, has three signposts, and is jamb-packed with events of every kind. A great challenge on hard, even better on very hard! Happy New Year.

Here’s the links for more info, posting in the forum thread, and viewing challenge #5’s solution. The solution for this map will be posted in two weeks with challenge #7.

New Castle Albums!

We have two new albums in our Castle Gallery, Peles Castle and Bran Castle, as well as new photographs in the Muiderslot album. These castles have already been featured in Castles of the Week write-ups, and these photographs are new and/or additional ones. New albums and photographs will be added for other castles in the coming months. If you have photographs you have taken of castles and would like them added to the gallery, please contact either Lady Arcola or Kester.

Contest Results Page is Up!

The minimaps for the entries to the 2nd Stronghold Historical Castle Competition are now all together in one place, on the competition results page. Take a look at the maps, then head over to the download section to give them a try yourself!

Castle of the Week 115 – Berwartstein Castle, Germany

Berwartstein Castle is located on a pinnacle of rock in the southern Rhineland-Pfalz region of Germany. It is unique because originally the only entrance was a single “chimney” in the rock on the east side. One person at the top could defend the castle by pulling up the rope ladder and pouring boiling oil on the head of any would-be attacker. Read more about this castle here.

Official SD Compendium – Take 2!

Just in time to be a Christmas gift to the Stronghold community, the result of months of work is finished! NAT and Lady Arcola have finished compiling an all-new Stronghold scenario design compendium!

There are 5 major sections:
Section 1. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Section 2. Alt Key Combinations
Section 3. How to Create a Scenario
Section 4. Eye Candy and Editor Tricks
Section 5. Other Useful Links

If you’ve got questions about mapmaking, this new compendium is the place to go for answers. You can find it here.

Also, if you haven’t done so lately, you might take a look at the Scenario Design section, as NAT and Lady Arcola have recently added several new tutorials in preparation for the Compendium. Well done!

Happy Holidays from Stronghold Heaven!

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah from the staff at Stronghold Heaven!

We hope you are able to enjoy the holidays with family and friends, and if you have traveled far afield to do so, a safe return. Seasons Greetings!

2nd Stronghold Historical Castle Competition Results

The winner of the 2nd Stronghold Historical Castle Competition is Andy Baz, with his map of Conwy Castle! Here is the minimap of his entry:

In second place is Warlord Designs, with their map of Carreg Cennon. Third place goes to Jack of all Trades, for his map based on Harlech Castle.

A big thank-you goes to Sparrow, Stratego and Duke of York for judging the contest!

Thanks to everyone who entered, and congratulations to the winners!

Rise of Legends Heaven Opens!

HeavenGames proudly presents Rise of Legends Heaven dedicated to bringing the latest news and information about Rise of Legends to the fans of Big Huge Games, and those eagerly anticipating the release of Rise of Legends.

Following up on their hugely successful Rise of NationsTM. Big Huge Games has stepped it up a notch with stunning visuals and great gameplay to develop the spiritual successor to their premier title. Rise of Nations:
Rise of LegendsTM is now in development due out in early 2006. The game is inspired by the works of Leonardo Da Vinci, the steampunk genre and tales of 1001 Arabian Nights in an epic battle between Magic and Technology! Real Time Strategy rises to a new level once again!

HeavenGames LLC, based in Lombard, Illinois, is a privately owned web-content publisher geared towards the creation of special-interest sites for Real-Time Strategy and City-Builder games. Its sites, contents, vast amounts of resources, as well as a dedicated staff & management team make HeavenGames’ sites the premier destination for gamers worldwide.

SEC: Sparrow’s Extreme Challenges

Challenge #5

Valley of the Wolves 4
by Duke of Wessex

Ready to take the challenge of playing SH1 on very hard yet? Here’s another great map to tax your skills. This is a gruelling duel between you and the Pig, with you in a large sprawling castle that will not withstand the onslaught without lots more troops and greatly improved defenses. Lots of scripted events, most of which mean hardships for you. Huge, relentless invasions and lots to tend to about the castle. A good old fashioned castle defender.

Click on these links for more info, the forum thread, and challenge #4’s solution. The solution will be posted in two weeks with challenge #6.

Poll Roundup!

The poll results aren’t too surprising – we asked which type of map you play most often, and skirmish/multiplayer and invasion vied for first place. Skirmish won, by a narrow victory.

The breakdown, in order of popularity:

Skirmish or Multiplayer: 33.1% – 242 votes
Invasion: 30.3% – 222 votes
Freebuild or Castle builder: 14.9% – 109 votes
Siege or Siege that: 13.4% – 98 votes
Economic: 8.3% – 61 votes
Total: 732 votes

For the next poll, we are taking what will be for a lot of people a trip down memory lane, to when they first played Stronghold. Remember the custom non-campaign maps that came with the game? (You might have to go back and play some of them!) Which of those is your favorite? Vote here!

Spotlight on Design

This week’s Spotlight on Design concentrates on the importance of trees and shrubs in map design. Many good examples of how they can be used effectively are to be found here.

Castle of the Week 114 – Manresa Castle, Washington

Today’s Castle of the Week is the second one we have done from the United States. Manresa Castle is a newer castle, built in the 1890’s by Charles Eisenbeis, an immigrant who began as a baker and became a prominent businessman. To read more about this castle located in the Pacific Northwest, click here.

Crusader Community Map

Dpminatr has begun a Crusader community map in the forum, with the theme of “Island Fortress”. It’s a first-come, first-serve process, so if you want to participate, be sure to wander over to this thread!

In the forums…

It’s Secret Santa sign-ups time! This is a first for Stronghold Heaven (and thanks to City Builder’s Heaven for the idea 😉 ). Head over to this thread for information and to sign up!

SEC: Sparrow’s Extreme Challenges

Challenge #4

Scottish Cattle Raid (1300)
by Tasluk

The next offering is one of my great favorites, Scottish Cattle Raid. Set in a somewhat foreboding landscape that foreshadows the struggle to come, you must deal with the difficult topography and turn it to your advantage. There’s a cede event which moves you into a new fort, but you must decide whether to do that early, or late in the scenario. Lots of very difficult invasions and some difficult events to endure. Great fun!

Click on these links for more info, the forum thread, and challenge #3’s solution. The solution will be posted in two weeks with challenge #5.

Castle of the Week 113 – Olavinlinna Fortress, Finland

This week we are going to look at Olavinlinna Fortress – the first write-up we have done on a castle from Finland. Olavinlinna Fortress, also known as Olofsborg or Olaf’s Castle, is located on a small rocky islet in Lake Saimaa in Savonlinna, Finland. It was built during the 15th century, at an interesting time in the development of castles. Olavinlinna Fortress is an example of a late medieval defensive castle, built for both medieval and gunpowder warfare. Read more about this castle here.

Poll Roundup

Well, we asked it first at Stronghold 2 Heaven, where unsurprisingly the answer was Stronghold 2 by over 60%. The question? Which of the three Stronghold games people played most often.

Now the poll results are in for the same question at Stronghold Heaven, and the results are quite interesting. 1135 people voted, and Stronghold Crusader came out as the clear winner!

The votes:
Stronghold: 29.8% – 338 votes
Stronghold 2: 11.7% – 133 votes
Stronghold Crusader: 58.4% – 663 votes

The new question asks which type of map you play most often – invasions, sieges, economics, freebuilds, etc. Vote here!

Contest Deadline – One Week Left!

That’s right, there’s only one week remaining to enter the Stronghold Historical Castle Competition! The contest is open to entries for all three Stronghold games. Contest details are in this thread.

Spotlight on Design #21

Although our Spotlight on Design series is no longer being done every other week, we will still offer occasional new ones. NAT has created the first of these special bonus Spotlights on the subject of Mountainous Terrain. Read his tips and view the highlighted maps from both Stronghold and Crusader maps here.

SEC: Sparrow’s Extreme Challenges

Challenge #3

Star and Crescent
by Brave Sir Robyn

Another gruelling challenge, this time one of Brave Sir Robyn’s earlier, and probably lesser known maps. Unique and memorable with lots of marshes to slow down the enemy, but also your workers gathering resources. And where are all the trees? Precious few.

Find the details on the SEC main page. Visit the forum thread to post comments and victories. The solution will be posted in two weeks with challenge #4. Solution for challenge #2 is here.

Stronghold Heaven’s Anniversary

Stronghold Heaven was launched 4 years ago today! It began with a staff of four, and has since grown to include a staff of ten who take care of both SHH and SH2H.

On this anniversary I thought it would be interesting to take a snapshot of some statistics:
Forums (not counting the SH2 forums): 4665 threads and 80039 replies
Stronghold downloads: 2080 maps, downloaded 1672742 times
Crusader downloads: 548 maps, downloaded 389976 times
Number of castles written about: 112!

A lot of staff members have come and gone and there have been a lot of changes to the site, such as the addition of the Stronghold Crusader expansion. Our thanks to the staff and forum members who have contributed so much! 🙂

Castle of the Week 112 – Eltz Castle, Germany

Eltz Castle (Burg Eltz) is a fairytale castle of turrets, towers and timber-framed walls, built on a rocky crag above the Eltz River. The castle is unique because it has been owned and lived in by the same family since its construction, only partook in one armed conflict, and managed to survive at a time when other castles in the Rhine were being destroyed. Read more…

First Extreme Crusader Challenge

Sparrow’s Crusader Challenge #1

Grove of the Divine
by Harmonastix

Were you Crusader players starting to feel left out? Well here’s one of Crusader’s best and toughest, just for you. It’s a large invasion map with a big sprawling castle that’s very hard to defend. Two signposts and very heavy-weight invasions with lots of hardships. A well thought out map that’s lots of fun. Check out the details on the SEC main page.

Comments, questions, or discussion of strategies can be posted in the new forum thread just for Crusader challenges. The solution will be posted in two weeks.

Poll Roundup

In the previous poll we asked: Have you played the Crusader Trail in the Warchest edition?

The answers:

  • Yes, I’ve finished all 30 maps! 21.8% – 69 votes
  • I’ve begun but haven’t finished yet: 36.0% – 114 votes
  • No, but I plan to start: 14.2% – 45 votes
  • No, and I’m not planning on it: 13.9% – 44 votes
  • I don’t play Crusader: 14.2% – 45 votes

Total: 317 votes

A fair number (22%) of you have already completed the trail – congratulations! And just over 50% are either working on it or planning to start. Looks like walkthroughs for this 2nd Crusader trail would be a welcome addition to the site. 😉

In the current poll we are asking which of the Stronghold games you play most often. We asked the same question at Stronghold 2 Heaven, so it’s only fair that we ask it here as well. And it will be interesting to see how the answers differ. Place your vote here!

New Fan Art Gallery

We are in the process of transferring fan art images from their old page on the site into a new album in our gallery. Mohamed El-Shafie has just submitted 6 wallpaper-sized images based on Crusader, and their entry into this new Fan Art album makes for the perfect start! Take a look at them here, then check back later to see some older favorites show up.

SEC: Sparrow’s Extreme Challenges

Challenge #2

Another personal pick of a great map to play on very hard setting in Stronghold 1: Beaumont Motte 1102 AD by Jack ofallTrades. One of the all-time great motte and bailey maps. Great looking and great playing. You thought 1121-Lord of Ludlow was hard? Wait until you try this one. Check out the details on the SEC main page.

We had over 100 downloads of the first challenge map over the last two weeks, so presumably many of you must be playing it. Hope you had an enjoyable game. If you want to make comments, ask questions, or see what strategies others are using on these challenge maps, visit the forum thread.

The last challenge’s solution is here. The solution for the current challenge will be posted in two weeks with challenge #3.

Challenge Map for Crusader: In one week I’ll have a bonus map for all you Crusader players. You can’t adjust the difficulty setting as you can in SH1, but I will present what I think is a very challenging and fun map from the archives.

Listen to the music

Hear ye, hear ye!

I have great news for all you music lovers out there. The great Robert Euvino has found time to treat us to something wonderful. Not only did he provide us with all of the songs from Stronghold 2, he also found time to share some of his thoughts on each track.

The files are to be found in the Miscellaneous section of our downloads.

You can listen to the following tracks:

  • The Lamb
  • The Smith
  • Labyrinth
  • Minstrelosity
  • Fiddle Solo
  • Wedding Song
  • Harpy3
  • Harpy2
  • Harpy1
  • Pig Roast
  • O’Carolan’s Draft_arranged
  • O’Carolan’s Draft_solo
  • A New Beginning
  • A Day in the Life of a Gong Farmer


Halfway Point for the Historical Castle Contest

Yes, we have reached the halfway point for the 2nd Stronghold Historical Castle Competition! Maps may be for any of the three Stronghold games, and the entries must be submitted by the end of November. Details of the contest are in The Jousting Ground.

Castle of the Week 111 – Nauplion, Greece

The castle in this week’s write-up is actually a collection of forts and castles, all located in and around Nauplion, Greece. Nauplion is a harbor city located on a peninsula in the Argolic Gulf. This article focuses on the ancient city, Acronauplia, the sea fort, Bourdji, and the most strategic of the forts, Palamidi. You can read about them here.

New Mapmaking Essay by Lollard

Lollard has written an opinion essay on map design, and how simpler yet more realistic maps can be more enjoyable to play than more complex maps.

An excerpt:

We are creating “art” when we design and publish maps. We imitate nature (landscapes) and human endeavor (castles) in map design… I’m not attempting to define “art”, but more importantly show that Stronghold maps are “art”. And therefore, to make a better map you need to incorporate more art into it. But how? This article looks at imitating history as an example.

The entire article can be read here. Thanks Lollard!

SEC: Sparrow’s Extreme Challenges

I’d like to take the opportunity to welcome you all to a new regular feature on Stronghold Heaven. Sparrow is going to present the hardest, most extreme Stronghold scenarios he could find on our downloads section.

Allow me to quote from the Stronghold: Game Help & Strategy Discussions forum thread:

Stronghold 1 lives, and it’s born again hard! Will you take the extreme challenge? These are my personal picks of the most difficult maps to play on “very hard” setting in Stronghold 1. I’ll be presenting some of the meanest, gnarliest, rip snorting, mind bending, teeth gnashing maps out there from our library of over 1500 invasion, siege, and economic maps.”
— link

I’m hoping you will enjoy this wonderful effort!
You can find the first challenge here.

Minimap Project

Cherub Sparrow and myself have begun a project to have every map ever submitted to SHH attached with a minimap in the site description. It is quite a large project so it would be helpful if all you future designers attached minimaps to any of your maps in the future, if you don’t know how to do this follow the instructions here

Crusader Trail Poll

We’re curious as to whether Crusader players have attempted the extra 30 Crusader Trail missions available in the Warchest edition of the game. Let us know where you are along the Trail by voting in the current poll!

Castle of the Week 110 – Rasnov Fortress, Romania

This week’s castle was not the home of kings and queens, but was built by the Teutonic Knights as a place of refuge for nearby villagers during times of invasion by the Tartars and Turks. It held through many sieges, but was damaged by fire and an earthquake, and is currently undergoing reconstructive work. More about this castle can be found here.

Saladin the Wise

Ibeliamoyes has written a great game info page about Saladin, the Crusader AI opponent. It includes information about Saladin’s castle as well as tactics for conquering him. It can be found here. Our thanks to Ibeliamoyes for working on this!

Crusader Milestone

Browsing through the Crusader downloads statistics page just now I came across this:

We currently offer 500 downloads submitted by 188 different authors. There are 224 are skirmish missions, 157 Invasion scenarios, 28 are Economic scenarios, and 23 are castle builder missions. Then there are 18 eye candy maps.

500 Crusader maps submitted for download – that’s a noteworthy milestone. Of course, by the time you read this there may be more. 😉

Castle of the Week 109 – Toompea Castle

This week’s castle comes from Estonia – Toompea Castle, overlooking the preserved medieval Old Town of Tallinn. The first fortification on the hill was made of wood, only to be replaced by one of stone by the Danish after a successful invasion. You can read more about Toompea and its legends here.

Stronghold Historical Castle Competition Prizes

Hey! The prizes for the new contest have just been decided upon. Check them out in the game thread!

Announcing the 2nd Stronghold Historical Castle Competition

Thanks for all of your contest suggestions! Now, at long last, we are announcing the start of a new contest. This will be a historical castle contest, which seemed to be the most popular idea… or at least the most requested ;-). It will be open for entries from all three games: the original Stronghold, Stronghold Crusader, and Stronghold 2. The deadline is at the end of November, so you’ll have plenty of time to work on your entry! Details and rules can be found in The Jousting Ground.

Castle of the Week 108 – Devín Castle

Devín Castle is located very close to the previous Castle of the Week, only about 7 km away. Devín Castle is dramatically perched on a rocky cliff above the confluence of the Danube and Morava rivers in the Slovak Republic. You can read about this castle and see more pictures here.

Spotlight on Design #20

In this week’s Spotlight on Design we take a look at a feature present in only a few maps, but one appreciated by audiences everywhere – stadiums! Take a look at some great examples here.

Castle of the Week 107 – Bratislava Castle

This week’s castle is Bratislava Castle, located on a hill above the Danube in the Slovak Republic. Though it may look like an upside-down table, it was built for defense, and withstood many sieges through the centuries. You can read more about this castle here.

New Crusader Strategy

Forumer davidbe has submitted a new strategy for Stronghold Crusader, which involves castle design. He’s included several screenshots to illustrate his idea. You can read more here. Our thanks to davidbe!

Spotlight on Design #19

Lady Arcola has stepped in to write this week’s Spotlight on Design. Join her as she takes a look at one of her favorite topics – waterfalls. You can read more and see some of the great examples from designers’ maps here.

Castle of the Week 106 – Dunnottar Castle, Scotland

Arn de Gothia has written the current Castle of the Week, which is about Dunnottar Castle in Scotland. Dunnottar Castle earned its place in history during the 17th century, when the Scots held out against a siege by the English for 8 months. Read the whole story of the “Miracle of Dunnottar” here. And our thanks to Arn de Gothia for a fine write-up!

Spotlight on Design #18

This week’s Spotlight on Design is special because it focuses entirely on maps from Stronghold Crusader. Many designers find it more difficult to create a natural landscape in Crusader than in Stronghold. NAT has taken this opportunity to write about deserts and oases, two of the fundamental elements in Crusader maps. You can check out the tips and examples here.

Castle of the Week 105 – Ayasuluk Castle, Selçuk, Turkey

This week’s Castle of the Week is just 18km down the road from the previous Castle of the Week. Ayasuluk Castle is in present-day Selçuk, Turkey, which is also one of several locations of the historical Ephesus. With a few thousand years of history (not to mention lots of travel pics), this article is longer than the ones I usually write. But not to worry, you’ll have the option to jump past the section on Ephesus in Antiquity if you’d rather go straight to the medieval section! 😉 The castle (and more than you ever wanted to know on the history of Ephesus) is here.

Updates to our Downloads system

Recently Pecunia has given all the HeavenGames downloads systems an update and we now have a couple of new features. Firstly html has been enabled, meaning it can be used in the description section of new uploads. There is also a new advanced search feature which allows searching by Category, Author, Title, Keywords or Rating or any combination of these. Hope you enjoy these new features and thanks Pecunia.

Spotlight on Design #17

Duke of York has created many maps based on real castles, including the one in this picture which is based on Miskolc-Diosgyor Castle. For this week’s Spotlight on Design, he shares some of the sources of inspiration for his maps, and then displays several works from other designers. They can be seen here.

Castle of the Week 104 – Citadel of Küçük Ada

This week’s castle is the first one from Turkey that we have written about. It’s a citadel on an island, which despite being quite small, has been of strategic importance over the course of several empires. The island on which the Citadel of Küçük Ada is located is just off the coast of Kuşadası, Turkey. Kuşadası has transformed itself into a resort city on the Aegean Sea, which was regrettably in the news recently following the terrorist attack on a mini-bus. More on the Citadel of Küçük Ada can be found here.

Ecosystems 101

Forummer meh um yeah has written a new article for our Scenario Design section. He focuses on taking the entire ecosystem into account when designing a new map.

He describes:

  • rules of terrain
  • rules of water
  • rules of plant and animal life
  • the finite rules of human habitation and existence
  • the steps on how to create a map that follows these rules

You can read further here. Our thanks to meh um yeah!

Forums downtime July 23rd and 24th

The forums will be unavailable for most of the July 23rd-July 24th weekend for database maintenance and updates. Sorry for any inconvenience.

Spotlight on Design #16

Designers have found many ways to make roads in Stronghold, from simple paths of dirt or pebbles to elaborate boulevards created from walls lowered to street level. A few mapmakers, though, have incorporated the landscape into their road design, which is a very realistic and refreshing approach. For this Spotlight on Design, we’ll take a look at a few of these maps. They can be found here.

Rise & Fall Heaven opens

HeavenGames LLC announced today that it has launched Rise & Fall Heaven ( ), the latest in its series of special-interest sites for Real Time Strategy & Citybuilding games.

Set to be released during Q4 of 2005, Rise & Fall: Civilizations at War (TM) is a Real Time Strategy (RTS) game developed by Stainless Steel Studios and published by Midway. Stainless Steel Studios’ third game, Rise & Fall encompasses a time period from about 1000 BCE to 0 CE, following four of the most well known and historically prominent civilizations of that time, the Egyptians, the Greeks, the Persians, and the Romans. Rise & Fall features innovative new gameplay that includes Hero Command; the ability to assume a virtual FPS perspective with your faction leader and lead your armies to victory, a naval battle system that sets a new standard in the RTS genre, and graphics that are unrivaled by a game of its type.

How to Kill the Crusader AIs

Leaveyou has written a new article. This time he ran some experiments on how to best (i.e. most cost-effectively) kill the AI lords in Stronghold Crusader. You can read about his findings here. Our thanks to Leaveyou for his work on this topic!

Spotlight on Design #15

In this week’s Spotlight on Design, NAT writes about docks, and how they can be used in map design. He has found some great examples from several different designers. You can check them out here.

Castle of the Week 103 – Peleş Castle

For this Castle of the Week, we will go to Romania, where nestled in the hills above Sinaia is the beautiful Peleş Castle. Built by the first of the Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen kings, King Carol I, Peleş Castle was their summer residence until the last one was deposed by the communist regime. Read more about this castle here.

New Article by Leaveyou

Leaveyou has written a new article which includes elements of strategy and scenario design. He looks at how the shape of the castle and the placement of walls and moats can aid in defense. You can read about the strategies here.

Spotlight on Design #14

This week’s Spotlight on Design is another special one, written by Stratego in my absence. He takes a look at the ways four different designers have created towns and cities in their maps. Check out the examples here.

Castle of the Week 102

Cochem Castle in Germany is our latest Castle of the Week.

“Once again we travel into Germany, this time down the Mosel river, a tributary of the Rhine, as we explore the beautiful Castle Cochem. It is a breathtaking sight as you approach Cochem on the meandering Mosel river as it winds from Koblenz to Trier. Once used as a royal residence it now keeps watch 100 meters above the river, over vineyards and the picturesque town of Cochem.”

You can read the rest of the write up by Lady Arcola and see more pictures of the castle here.

Spotlight on Design – Marshes and Fords

Kester has written #13 in the Spotlight on Design series of articles, this time focussing on the use of Marshes and Fords in maps.

Marshes and fords may not seem like a terribly exciting topic, yet they can do wonders in a map. First is the purely aesthetical aspect of making a natural-looking landscape. Additionally, castle resources can be increased when pitch is added to marshes, and the careful placement of fords can be used to specify where troops and peasants can go on the map, ultimately changing gameplay.

You can find the rest of the article here.

New Downloads Section

The Stronghold Heaven Downloads section has been upgraded to bring it into line with most of the other HeavenGames Downloads sections.

All the old maps and reviews of course remain, but there is now a new interface and a few new features such as being able to upload minimap files directly into the description page and an increased maximum file limit of 8mb.

Castle of the Week – Meersburg Castle, Germany

This weeks Castle of the Week is Meersburg Castle in Germany and was written by Kester, you can read the rest of the article here.

“Meersburg Castle dates back to 628 when Dagobert I, the Frankish king, built a military tower on granite overlooking Lake Constance. Features were added to the castle over the years, including the main tower which dates from 1509.
The castle has low ceilings and granite floors, as seen in this picture of Knight’s Hall. There are 28 fully furnished rooms, which give the visitor the feeling of everyday life in a medieval castle.”

Spotlight on Design #12

Arn de Gothia has kindly written this weeks Spotlight on Design, thanks very much Arn.

It covers the topic of Dams and Water Towers showing some of the wonderful effects that can be achieved with this mix of water and walls. You can read the article and see the accompanying images here.

Castle of the Week 100 – Marksburg Castle, Koblenz

Well, we’ve reached our century. The hundredth castle is another from the siege section of Stronghold 2 – Marksburg near Koblenz in Germany

Lady Arcola takes a brief look at its history here.

Celebrating 1 Million Visitors

Sometime today Stronghold Heaven passed the 1 million visitor mark.
Thanks to everyone for your support over the years since we opened. We look forward to many many more visits as people continue to enjoy playing Stronghold.

Spotlight on Design

Stratego has stepped in to write this week’s Spotlight on Design. He’s highlighted some interesting details in the maps for this week’s topic – monasteries. Check out his findings here.

Stronghold Trifle Stage Three Results

After many delays, I’m happy to finally announce the winner of Stage Three of The Stronghold Trifle. Congratulations to Arn de Gothia for his winning map, Stenstorps! More about the contest and the results can be found here.

Thanks to both entrants and to the judges!

Spotlight on Design

In honor of the upcoming Kentucky Derby, this week’s Spotlight on Design will go to the races! Check out the maps here.

Castle of the Week – Craigdarroch Castle

For this week’s castle we will travel to Victoria, British Columbia. Built in the last decades of the 19th century, Craigdarroch Castle has been put to many different uses, from the home of a wealthy family to a World War I military hospital. You can read more about its history here.

1.1 Patch for Stronghold 2 released

The 1.1 patch for Stronghold 2 has been released for automatic download. If you are connected to the internet when you start the game you will get an option to either play or download the update. We have asked FireFly if there will be a manual download available but haven’t had an answer yet.

From the readme the patch fixes the following issues –

  • User selectable invasions added to Free Build (F1)
  • A few campaign chapters have been made easier
  • Increased feedback of impending invasions
  • Formations now place shields at the front and weaker units at the back of the formation
  • Non-missile troops now respond to more aggressively to missile attacks
  • Additional speech added to Carter Post system
  • A.I. more effective at using mantels, cats and burning logs
  • Health bars on buildings added
  • All units of one type are selectable by double-clicking
  • Advanced patrols implemented
  • LAN support for Multiplayer added
  • Various bug fixes implemented

Stronghold 2 Game Information section Opens

Stronghold 2 was today released in the US, we have a number of members who have reported they now are playing the game. To go along with this we are pleased to announce that our Game Information section in Stronghold 2 Heaven is now open.

It contains information about the Buildings and Units in Stronghold 2, honour, resources, AI characters and more. Some sections are still works in progress, and we will continue to update with new information as we discover more about the game.

First Review of Stronghold 2

Games Domain, Yahoo have put up the first review of Stronghold 2, giving it 8 out of 10.

Of particular note is the way almost all the impressive quantity of buildings have something to watch. Zoom in close, and you’ll notice a wheat farmer tending his crops, a fletcher taking a new bow to the armory, or a citizen being hauled off to the dungeon. While combat isn’t particularly spectacular, watching catapults smash down a gatehouse is either spectacular or horrifying, depending on whether you’re dishing out or taking the beating.

You can find the full review here. With the game due for release in the US tomorrow, the 19th, and Europe on the 22nd I expect we will be seeing many more reviews in the near future, and we will be lisitng them in the Stronghold 2 Heaven Review section.

The Opening of a New Heaven

After several years of thoroughly enjoying FireFly’s original castle building game Stronghold and its sequel Stronghold:Crusader it is once more time to move on. FireFly have spent a tremendous amount of time and effort on creating a sequel that is going to outshine the original game in a multitude of ways. Not only have they moved the game into a 3D environment they also increased the size of the maps, added to the available units and professions and to the economy; they also added a whole series of scenarios concentrating on life in the castle, rather than conquering your neighbour. However the latter is still there of course, and a siege of your opponent can still be laid and enjoyed.

Stronghold 2 Heaven will offer you information about the game, walkthroughs and soon we will be opening the download section which we hope will be home to as big a collection of Stronghold 2 maps and scenarios as Stronghold Heaven has for the original game.

Staff wise we had a few changes which includes the addition of Stratego but also sees Merepatra in all new colours. Yes, as you have probably guessed, she’s going to be (co-)seraph of the site, which should mean that your questions and suggestions will be acted upon that much quicker.

And for those of you who would like to continue enjoying the original game, don’t worry, we’re still going to spend time on maintaining and improving the original site.

You can find Stronghold 2 Heaven here.

Do I hear giggles?


Yes, I definitely hear giggles and the reason for them is that Stratego has kindly accepted a position a cherub on the Stronghold Heaven staff. He’ll be helping out on the design and walkthrough side of things and we hope his contributions to the Stronghold 2 side of things will be as wonderful as the work he did for the Crusader Skirmish Campaign Walkthroughs.

Please offer him your congratulations in the Sword and Buckler Inn?

Crusader Skirmish Trail Walkthroughs Complete!

I’ve been looking forward to making this announcement since last October! The fifty walkthroughs, begun by Sulis and completed by Stratego, Sparrow and me, are finally complete. They can all be found here, along with a great many alternative strategies submitted by players. Special thanks to Stratego and Sparrow – without their tremendous help, this announcement probably wouldn’t have been made for another six months. 😉

Extended Deadline Draws to a Close

The Stronghold Trifle Contest, which had the Stage 3 deadline extended, draws to a close tomorrow, April 12th. Please send entries to GillB!

Spotlight on Design

This week’s Spotlight on Design is a departure from the usual ones. Rather than looking at examples of a particular design feature from a variety of maps, we’ll pay tribute to the element of surprise. We’ll take a brief look at just two maps which include many elements of surprise, greatly effecting gameplay. Read more here.

New Forum layout

We have given the forums a facelift and added in some new forums in preparation for Stronghold 2. There are 4 new Stronghold 2 forums, Game Help and Strategy, Multiplayer, Scenario Design and The Map Room.

There is also another new forum, The Jousting Ground, where competitions and community projects such as last years community map “The Exquisite Corpse” will be organised. Please drop into the forums, take a look, and join in.

This week’s castle – Caerphilly in South Wales

Caerphilly Castle is one of the great medieval castles, little changed from the 14th century. Covering 30 acres, it’s the largest castle in Britain after Windsor and it was also the first truly concentric castle to be built in Britain.

Central to various intrigues in medieval times and famous for its unique ‘leaning tower’, it has been partially restored. You can find out more here.

Stronghold 2 Official Release Dates

FireFly Studios have posted an announcement on their site that Stronghold 2 has gone gold, which means that the master cd has been made and sent for replication. They also state that the game will be in stores in the US on the 19th April and the UK on the 22nd April.

16 days and counting!

Take 2’s Stronghold 2 pages have been updated and a release date of April 19 has been confirmed. So we only have 16 days now till it should be in the shops.

The info pages also include a few more details about the game including this interesting statement under features “Non-linear interactive story unfolds as you return to your earlier castle and decide which challenge to undertake next”.

The Art of the Defensive Siege

NAT II has been busy over the Easter holidays – having completed the tutorial on lowering walls, he has now written a great article on The Art of the Defensive Siege. Some of the points he covers are: spacing out your troops, using a retreat strategy, using boiling oil and pitch to your advantage, and more. You can read all of NAT II’s tips here.

Spotlight on Design

In this week’s Spotlight on Design, we’ll take a look at some of the different ways designers have made use of one of the basic tools of mapmaking – lowering walls. NAT II has helped out with this week’s topic, so check out the maps here.

We also have two new tutorials to accompany this topic. Lowering walls, pt. 1 by NAT II illustrates the process, and Lowering walls, pt. 2 by yours truly, gives some points to consider if you’re flattening walls to ground-level in a design.

Contest Extended

We’ve decided to extend Stage Three of the Stronghold Trifle by 2 weeks. The new deadline is April 12th, so if you have a half-finished map hanging around, be sure to send it in… after finishing it, of course. 😉

The map to use to write your story and scenario around is here.

Castle of the Week – Warwick

Warwick Castle in the midlands is one of the most visited tourist attractions in England, owned by the Tussaud group. However it started its life back in the year 914.

You can find out about its rich history here.

Last Day of the Contest

That’s right, the Stronghold Trifle contest is almost at an end! Today is the last day to submit your stage three entry to GillB.

New Stronghold 2 Previews

Two new Hands On previews of Stronghold 2 are out this week.

IGN’s preview gives us 10 new screenshots and an insight into some new aspects of the game such as

The main difference here is that maps in Stronghold 2 are divided into several territories. The main castle will certainly be on one of them while extra towns, bandits, and main opponents will sit on others. This means in order to gain the support of villages and make sure any bandit threats have been taken care of, players will actually have to get off of their asses and move to engage

GameSpot’s preview includes another 8 new screenshots and talks more about the Path of Peace mode included in the game

Even though you don’t have to worry about marauding armies, you’ll have your hands full building up a complex and interconnected medieval economy. The path of peace mode in Stronghold 2 will let you do so by taking part in a scripted campaign that gives you a series of progressively more-difficult missions, a free build mode that lets you just tinker on a series of premade maps, and the ability to play on custom, user-made maps.

Forum Code of Conduct Updated

The Forum Code of Conduct has been updated. The specific new changes can be read about here.

Contest – Stage Three

Just a reminder that there’s one week left in Stage Three of The Stronghold Trifle. This is the scenario scripting/story writing stage of the contest. More details are found here. Please have entries in to GillB by March 22nd.

Spotlight on Design

Life in medieval times was very hard, making any sort of labor-saving device most welcome. In this week’s Spotlight on Design, we’ll take a look at one of the ways to make the lives of the peasants in your maps a bit easier, and save them from some toil and trouble. Check it out here.

Schloss Stolzenfels and 2 new exclusive Stronghold 2 screenshots

Schloss Stolzenfels, near Koblenz in Germany, is another of the new castles that will be included in Stronghold 2.

It overlooks the Rhine and was originally built in the mid 13th century. Occupied by both the Swedish and the French, it now houses a museum.

You can find it here.

Castle Links

We have a new page giving links to the sites who have helped us so much when writing articles about real castles by giving us blanket permission to use pictures from their sites. We’ve made the page as a sort of thank you to them.

All the sites are worth a visit for both their pictures and other information (NB Burgenwelt is in German only).

Garden of Eden Contest Results

Both entries of the Crusader Garden of Eden contest were wonderful, and clearly showed that a lot of time and effort went into their making. Being a contest, however, we had to pick just one to win, and so congratulations to Stratego for his winning entry, Isle of Paradise!

Minimaps and screenshots of Stratego’s and Arn de Gothia’s maps can be found here. Thank you to the entrants and judges!

Stronghold Trifle Stage Two Results

The results for Stage Two of the Stronghold Trifle are in!

Congratulations to the winner, leaveyou! A screenshot from his winning entry is shown.

Minimaps of all the entries can be found here. Thank you to all who entered, and to all of the judges!

Round Three, the scripting stage, starts now. You can download the Stage Two winning map here to begin. Further instructions for this final stage of the contest can be found here.

Harlech Castle – and another exclusive screenshot

We continue in North Wales for another of the castles which will be featured in Stronghold 2. This time we visit Harlech and, once again, as well as some beautiful pictures of the castle, there is an exclusive screenshot of how it will appear in Stronghold 2.

With thanks to Lady Arcola for writing about it, you can find it here.

Garden of Eden Deadline Approaches

There are just two more days left to enter the Crusader contest. Entries should be sent to me by tomorrow – Saturday!

Fear Factor in Stronghold Crusader

Leaveyou has written another article, this time concerning the influence of fear factor on industry and food production in Stronghold Crusader. He ran some experiments to find out which are the best resources to use to obtain both positive and negative fear factors. Check out his results here. Thanks to Leaveyou for his work on this.

Stronghold Trifle

Stage Two entries are now circling the globe, headed to the inboxes of the judges. Check back Monday or Tuesday to find out the winner!

Last Day to Enter Stage Two of the Contest

The title says it all – today is the last day to enter Stage Two of The Stronghold Trifle! If you haven’t already submitted your castle, be sure to have it sent to GillB by midnight tonight (forum time).

Another new castle? Welcome to Criccieth and two more exclusive screenshots from Stronghold 2

As the title says, although it’s only a week since the last Castle, there will be a new one for each of the next three weeks – castles which will feature as sieges in Stronghold 2, together with exclusive screen-shots of the castles concerned.

This week’s is Criccieth in North Wales. Now it’s in ruins but, in its heyday, it must have been very grand and imposing. You can find the castle’s history, some lovely pictures of how it looks today and the two screenshots here.

Spotlight on Design

In this week’s Spotlight on Design, we’re going to leave behind the world of natural landscaping and take a look at one of the hallmarks of eye-candy – fountains!

Once again the examples are taken from both Stronghold and Crusader maps. Click here to see them.

Weekend Plans

What do you have planned for the weekend? Finishing your castle design for Stage Two of the contest? Good! Because there are just a few days left. Be sure to have your entries in to GillB by Tuesday!

Stronghold 2 Videos

Two new videos showing features from Stronghold 2 are now available from IGN. The first video is called Gong Farming and Disease, gong is a medieval term for sewerage and I’ll leave it to you to work out what a gong farmer does! The second video is Jousting and Religion, it starts with a banquet in the Keep, then shows part of a service inside a church followed by some jousting.

There are various download sizes of the videos available ranging from 4.4 to over 20mb, anyone can download the smaller Windows Media versions but you need to be a paid IGN subscriber to download the larger QuickTime ones. You can find them here.

Castle of the Week – Modave

The Chateau des Comtes de Marchin, better known as Modave Castle, is situated on a large rock ledge hanging over a small tributary of the River Muse in the middle of what is now a nature reserve.

You can read about this Belgian castle’s chequered history and see the pictures taken by Jayhawk here

Exclusive Stronghold 2 Screenshots

To go along with our Stronghold 2 Interview we have a number of exclusive screenshots from the game, including the one shown here which shows us a Village scene and includes the game Interface.

You can see all the screenshots in our Stronghold 2 Gallery and talk about them in our Stronghold 2 Discussion Fourm.

Exclusive Stronghold 2 Interview

Firefly Associate Producer, Paul Harris was gracious enough to answer a series of questions on Stronghold 2 for Stronghold Heaven.

We managed to find out a number of new things about the game, for instance the preliminary minimum technical specifications and some reassuring things about the included map editor.

You can read all the questions and answers here. Enjoy.

Contest Reminders

We’re at the halfway point (or more) for our two contests. You have one more week (until March 1st) to submit entries to GillB for Stage Two of the Stronghold Trifle.

Entries for the Stronghold Crusader contest, The Garden of Eden, are being accepted until March 5th. Those entries can be sent to me. More information on that contest can be found here.

Happy designing!

Stronghold 2 Box Art

The Box Art for Stronghold 2 has been released. It “depicts the heroic Sir William, your mentor in the search for the lost King, safeguarding his grand castle against the evil Lord Barclay, also known as The Hammer”. There was also confirmation that the planned release date is still April 05, not too long now.

Minimaps of Stage One Entries

The minimaps of the entries for Stage One of The Stronghold Trifle are now available for viewing here.

Congratulations to all who entered – the minimaps look terrific!

Remember, you can enter Stage Two even if you didn’t enter Stage One. More information on the contest can be found here.

Stronghold Trifle – Stage Two!

Stage Two of the contest begins today. The charge is simple: to build the best castle, out of wood or stone, using the winning landscape from Stage One.

The landscape map can be downloaded here. Please be sure to review the guidelines for this round, which can be found at that link as well as here.

Let your creativity run wild, and have fun!

Stage One Contest Results are In!

After a hard week of blind judging, the results for Stage One of the Stronghold Trifle are in. There were 9 entries, all of which nicely met the challenge of providing a fertile river valley for placing a castle. The minimap for the winning entry is shown.

Thanks to all who entered, and congratulations to the top three entries!

First place: merrill_tj
Second place: Jax Omen
Third place: Warlord Designs – Arthus

Also in the news, to encourage participation an executive decision has been made to allow participants to enter Round Two, even if they didn’t enter Round One.

Round Two starts tomorrow, so check back for the link to the landscape map upon which to design your castle. We’re looking forward to seeing all the creative castles that will be built for Round Two!

Spotlight on Design

In this week’s Spotlight on Design, we’re going to look at the good, the bad, and the ugly in stone placement. Not really, we’ll only look at the good!

This time the examples are taken from both Stronghold and Crusader maps. Click here to check them out.

The Stage of Stage One…

All entries for Stage One of the Stronghold contest have been received and sent out to the judges. Sunshine or snow outside this weekend? The judges will never know, as they’ll be hard at work determining the winning landscape. Stay tuned to find out which one it will be…

Castle of the Week – Casa Loma

We visit the New World for the second time for this week’s castle. This time we are in Canada, at Casa Loma in Toronto.

Lady Arcola tells us of a castle built by a business man and soldier. Although constructed in the early years of the 20th century, it was based on the many medieval castles he had visited in Europe with a few updates such as electricity.

Sadly he didn’t get to live in his dream for very long as it was taken in lieu of taxes. It was used as a secret manufacturing plant during the 2nd World War. It is now owned by the City of Toronto and has been developed and operated by the Kiwanis Club of Casa Loma since 1937, still offering wonderful views over the city.

You can read more about it here.

New Gamespy preview of Stronghold 2

Gamespy has a new Stronghold 2 preview available that gives more details on Stronghold 2 gameplay, the new Kingmaker modes and the Honor system.

we were shown that the game would be divided into two parts: the path of war, and the path of peace. Each follows its own story and concentrates on either action or amassing resources. If you choose the path of war you will be able to select a campaign or Kingmaker mode, while the path of peace will offer you a free-build mode or a full-on economic campaign.

You can find the rest of the article as well as 13 new screenshots at GameSpy.

You never know what’s going to turn up in your in-box

One of the first Castles of the Week I wrote, Monteriggione in Italy, has been long without pictures as I couldn’t find any websites that would give me permission to use their illustrations.

That has now been rectified. One of Stronghold Heaven’s readers, Algol03, noticed this omission and, as he had visited the castle late last year, he has let us have some of his photos to illustrate the article.

Thank you Algo103. You can find the newly illustrated article here.

Last Day to Enter Stage One of the Contest

Today is the last day to submit your entry for Stage One of the Stronghold Trifle. The winning map from this first round goes on to become the foundation for all of the castles built in Stage Two. Remember, you must enter this first stage to be eligible to participate in later stages. We’ve received a number of entries already – if you haven’t yet submitted yours, be sure to do so by midnight tonight (that’s midnight Tuesday, forum time)!

The Garden of Eden

With a truce between the saracens and the crusader knights, there is time to for the various Lords of Outremer to build their castles. With Outremer being the site where once Adam and Eve walked the Garden of Eden, each Lord tries to out do his rivals in creating a as splendid a castle as possible.
Will you be the one who builds the most splendourous castle of all?

Garden of Eden is a Stronghold Crusader beauty contest. The aim is to create a freebuild castle of singular beauty.

More information will follow this weekend!

Four Days Left!

There are four days left to submit your entry for Stage One of The Stronghold Trifle map competition! If you haven’t already entered your landscape, be sure to do so by Tuesday, February 8th. Contest details can be found here.

Age of Empires III Heaven opens

HeavenGames LLC announced today that it has launched Age of Empires III Heaven, the latest in its series of special-interest sites for Real Time Strategy & Citybuilding games.

Currently in development, Age of Empires III is a Real Time Strategy (RTS) game developed by Ensemble Studios/Microsoft. The game takes place during the discovery and colonization of the New World, covering events from Columbus’ discovery of the Indies until the American Civil War. It features eight unique civilizations, including the Spanish, French, and Britis. Age of Empires III’s graphics are being developed with the intention of being the best graphics of any game in any genre ever, which are portrayed in a fully 3D world with vertex shaders, pixel shaders, and an advanced physics engine.

Age of Empires III Heaven will be dedicated to featuring extensive coverage of Age of Empires III as the game is being developed. It will bring you the latest news on the game, as well as chats with developers in the forums.

Spotlight on Design

They that go down to the sea in ships…

In this week’s Spotlight on Design, we’re going to leave the coastline and head out to sea. Creating ships in Stronghold takes a lot of time, forethought, and patience. Look here for some wonderful examples.

New SH2 Interview at Boomtown

Boomtown has a new interview with Simon Bradbury, Lead Designer at Firefly Studios, regarding Stronghold 2. The Q&A covers the 3D aspect, researching the historical time period in the game, and game elements. You can find the interview here.

And the new competition is…

…the Stronghold Trifle, a three-stage contest based on Thorium’s idea! In Stage One the challenge is to design a landscape fit for a castle in a fertile river valley. The winning landscape map will continue on to Stage Two, where the challenge is to build the best castle. In Stage Three, the challenge is to create the scripting and story best suited to the winning map from Stage Two. Check out the full details here!

New Contest Starting Tomorrow

Two great ideas have been suggested for possible map design contests – you can read about them and discuss them here. Tomorrow we’ll be announcing the start of the contest and which idea we’re going to use, so be sure to check back then.

Stronghold 2 Previews

There are two new previews of Stronghold 2 out this week at IGN and Gamespot. These articles give new insight into how the Honor system and Kingmaker mode will work in Stronghold 2 and include new screenshots.

Sieges in Stronghold 2

Gamespy has a 3rd Stronghold 2 Developer Diary available this week. This time it is titled “The Art of the Siege” and of course talks about siege tactics and equipment in Stronghold 2.

So what other changes are there this time around? Plenty, actually. We’ve added in several new pieces of siege equipment. For example, the cat allows troops to approach castles under cover, pitch-filled hay carts allow attackers to burn out traps and troops on the way to the walls, and the new, extra-tall siege towers allow you to place missile troops atop your own portable towers. Castles are also beefed up, arrow slits can make a defending archer invulnerable, rock tippers crush vulnerable troops below, and everyone’s favorite, burning logs, can cause utter devastation to unwary troops approaching the castle

You can read the rest of the article at GameSpy.

Spotlight on Design

Shorelines… where the surf meets the turf, for better or worse. In this week’s Spotlight on Design, we’ll take a look at some wonderful coastlines. Take a look here and prepare to be inspired.

Kalmar Castle

Forumer Arn_de_Gothia has written about a magnificent castle in his own country of Sweden. The home of many important historical events, it spent many centuries guarding the border with Denmark. It was rebuilt in the 16th century, spent time as a royal palace and restored to its former glory in the 19th and 20th centuries.

It is a picturesque yet strong castle and you can read more about it here.

With nearly 2,000 votes in, I think it’s time to close the current poll. The results of which are…surprising. Nearly a third of you is most looking forward to delving deeper into medieval life.

What are you most looking forward too in Stronghold II
The expanded simulation of medieval life. 565 votes
More (new) units. 308 votes
Being able to fight inside buildings. 276 votes
A more complex resource system. 237 votes
A more active Lord. 187 votes
That it’s in 3D. 183 votes
Total votes: 1756

The next poll will be focusing on the design site of things.

Spotlight on Design

The use of ruins in maps can instantly convey a sense of mystery and loss: the remnants of a once-glorious but now forgotten civilization, the scene of a former battle, or evidence of an ongoing tragedy or hardship. In this Spotlight on Design, we’ll take a look at some different ways ruins have been used in maps. Please look here to read more.