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Map Size: 400x400 (Large)
This map was designed to build up your "economy", defences and your defensive army, and then, when you think you're ready, press the F1 button (version 1.2 is needed) and try to survive the biggest siege ever (I'm talking about some hundreds of swordsmen, pikemen, crossbowmen, etc...). The only problem about that is that to have so many troops to siege your castle you'll have to wait till the previous die, as the game only supports a limited number of units for a map (about 2000, but I'm not sure) so if you reach the limit and keep invading, there simply won't appear any units. Ok, good luck (don't forget the pitch diches!!!).
AuthorComments & Reviews   ( All | Comments Only | Reviews Only )
Captain Tylor I'm always a little wary of freebuilds that have a castle already in place. Usually it's to showcase an upcomming invasion map with what's available, but to play from one in freebuild, I'd rather have the chance to create from the ground up.

Playability = 2
I felt that most of the playability is taken out of the map since the castle has been built already, and populated by troops, especially those on top of the keep. I pretty much just sent some enemy troops right away towards the castle walls. To me this map would have made a better siege map than freebuild. I realize the author warned me in advance of what the map has, but I didn't have much to prepare for a full siege of the castle, other than moving the already existing troops to the front wall. The economy didn't need any building since there's plenty starting resources and food.

Balance = 2
Since this is a freebuild map, my balance rating is on the economy. And yet, I feel the economy is a bit superficial. The starting gold is around 50,000 which I think is way too much for a castle that has a population below 50 peasants. Balance ties into playability, in that there's really nothing for the player to really do in this map except send an attacking force over to try and take the castle. To achive a more balanced map, the resources should be limited more, the gold amount reduced to somewhere in the hundreds and not the ten-thousands, and maybe have less of the castle walls built. A small boulder pile needs to be made available for building a rock quary. This map is pretty much a made to order castle.

I choose to not bother with a creativity rating, since there's been numerous maps made of a river, rolling hills and a flat mid to high ground for the castle. It does the job for what it's intended for.

Map Design = 3
There is a solid castle design here. The keep is protected by an inner wall with an outside wall for besieging troops. Only a human opponent would really be able to lay waste to this castle, that or numerous invasions. The land itself looks blocky and artificial. The rolling hills near the signposts look good, but many of them are squared off and unnatural looking. The sea that the river empties into has a straight waterline which then runs off the map immediately, also looking out of place. It might have been better to omit the sea or create a beach that spans an entire edge of the map and have the river merge more gradually with the sea. There's also a graphics bug I see on the long stretch of wall heading out from the castle. Parts of the wall look jagged and squared off when placed right next to the cliff edge. Extending the edge of the cliff out slightly would remedy this problem, but the long line of mid height terrain looks very straight, also unnatural looking. While there's iron deposits around the inner part of the castle, I didn't see any boulders where a rock quary can be built. After the invasion I sents over stomped the walls down, I had to dig out of the available resources to build the wall up, then switch to wooden walls when the stone was all used up, although this ties into playability and balance. The core castle design is well done, it's the land around it that needs some smoothing out to make it look more real.

I won't put in a score for story since there's not story to grade. enough said on that. :D

Freebuilds are mostly about building your castle from nothing, and creating it in your image of what the ideal castle should be. Sometimes it's to show off a castle design for a future invasion or siege map. This map would fall better into the siege or invasion category, where you can restrict the player more and put some good playability into it. The land needs to be sculpted more, with better placement of the high terrain to make it look more authentic, like it really could exist in our world. As for the economy, all I had to do was find jobs for the peasants and they remained happy, and if they ever get angry with me I could just give out a maximum bribe to have them dancing to my tune. Overall, this map isn't restricting enough for a freebuild. Honestly, I didn't know what else to do with it after I sent around 10 invading armies to stomp down the walls. Oh yes, there's one bug I've gotten on this map. When I try to click on the stockpile or armory buildings to see what's inside, nothing happens. I had to zoom the map in or flatten the landscape to read those details.

To the author:
I'd look at this map as a stepping stone. See what could've been made different, then build a better one. A map that looks more natural, and feels more playable. The castle itself is designed well. I'd probably just build the landscape around that to make the land compliment the castle more. that's my review and I am done.

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