Posted on 06/29/09 @ 10:00 PM (updated 07/09/09
||TS Standard Rules
Stoneskin - Thanks, your review gave much insight. I hope I fixed some things in update.
Well balanced map.
Leaders - On or Off
Customize Leaders - Off.
Allied Victory - On or Off (your choosing)
Exploration - On
Lord Rhal kept the land of Kaimdor in peace for many years. By dividing the country by race, he assured peace in his Kingdom. To keep everything in order, he raised his three sons, Ralf, Geoffry, and Samson to be good and fair, assuring that whichever of them succeeded him, would rule the land fairly.
2 months ago to date an assassin struck and killed Lord Rhal and his three sons at the annual harvest festivities. Each of the minor lords of the land squabbled to take control of Kaimdor, but not til now, have they declared that only war could settle anything.
The metropolis of Kaimdor itself remains independent, declaring to defend herself until death. Also many key outposts are still under human rule.
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Your map starts at a good pace with enough units to get the job done, but was over quickly once I got Kaimdor, which was too easy to get. Objectives are simple: get income, get the independant village, secure your starting position by holding the tower, hold the farmland to get units to conquer Kaimdor (4 hexes). Then, I produced units so fast that I kicked everyone's ass. The fact that Kaimdor starts at level 3 made it easy to get air galleys, against which no one had a chance with their two cities (one level 1 and one level 2)... The fact that I killed the 3 other players in less than 30 turns without a sweat made your map take a hit.
But, you really get that feud feeling going on in the middle. Also, you've got the feel that it's a recently broken and disorganized land that you're conquering. There's no time to waste on that map. The pace is fast, and you have to be aggressive. Good enough to make it interesting to play many times with friends.
The map is balanced in terms of structures, but when I saw the items you put in it, I knew what I had to do. I rarely saw a level 3 regenerating hero with 10 at all its stats, that had 3 resistances, that could shoot any energy bolt he wanted, that could either have round attack or first strike/extra strike, and more. The defenders in explorative sites weren't even close to cut it for the items they gave.
Highmen are stronger (stats, abilities and movement) than all the other players and dominate this map easily. Their weaknesses don't exist on that map. Kaimdor is human, so Highmen have good relations, Elves and Dark Elves are neutral, but humans are wary of Undead... there have morale problems with the human units they dominate or produce in Kaimdor (except the easy to get air galley).
Finally, the easy to conquer Kaimdor breaks the balance. Remember that there is 4 farms around it. I know everybody aims at it, but the income screws the others.
Never saw that concept before: impenetrable homeland and one common battleground that is the key to victory. Good use of well placed independants.
Thumbs up for using many musketeers. They're bad, but they were funny to battle and gave a definitely human feel to the map.
All items and heros are user made and are original. Everyone has access to only one hero: he makes it or he breaks it. Nicely done. But with the story, I still would've let "leaders on map". Why would the soldiers fight after the death of their lord ?
In general, it's well done.
Map Design: 3
There is a very repetitive use of tiles at some spots. You could've easily mixed tiles, but you didn't. Also, the Undead domain is really empty. Not very interesting to look at. While not impressive, the rest is ok looking or good.
Independants lack some defensive punch that make them a challenge. Still, they are very useful because you have to use at least someting worth it to get rid of them. They give enough action in the beginning to make it interesting. Also, you didn't use any behaviour other than guard, not even guard area. Could've gave some surprises and enhanced the map's story.
You also could've put some independants guarding the watch towers, and even a human guard in the villages. It would've fit the story, given more challenge and enhanced the objectives.
I have no idea why each player has a wolf as a starting unit...
Every player starting with a nymph/lady of pain is cool, but takes away the specificity of all elves. Also, its easy to seduce the low level humans and get an army. The Undead still have that morale problem. Finally, I don't know why Highmen and Undead have a seducer... Story says that the kingdom is divided by race to keep the peace, so why do they have one ? And the fact that opposite races live in the opposite lands ? Highmen near Undead ? That doesn't fit the story at all. Bad placement.
There's a flaw in design/balance: the watch tower doesn't stop units from entering the Highman region. There's a "hole" next to the tower in which units can pass. Other towers don't have this element, so that's what makes me think it's a design flaw.
The map really represents a believable story that gives you a good reason to play. Using crypts for the royal family around Kaimdor also enhances the overall story of the kingdom. The people remember and mourn their lords. Kaimdor is very alive, and you feel that it's an incomparable kingdom. The feud between the old lord's vassals for who will take posession of the kingdom and the powerful items you find make the objectives and the play style clear: slugfest.
Two things don't make me give you a 5: the fact that there are no leaders (even though they are heros) doesn't fit the story all too well (see the creativity comments) and the fact that there is not even a single event message flag.
I really like your map. I have made a few changes, and I think your map is much better now (at least, in my tastes). It'll become one of my classics for sure.
[Edited on 07/01/09 @ 12:36 AM]
No bad bugs or early player deaths, but the 'race for Kaimdor' becomes the core focus almost immediately. Large starting armies are reduced in number in the taking of the central watchtowers, which are placed at chokepoints. Once Kaimdor is entered, it becomes a fun war of movement for a time, but the superior economies/troops will take control of the centre and doom the other players to eventual defeat. A string of victories leaves your opponents defenceless (see Balance).
Inherentely balanced, yet flawed in equal regard. Everyone starts with the same armies and towns, while the centre has similarly equal numbers of income structures. Whoever wins the fight for the centre leaves their opponents with nothing to fight back woth. No Altars near the 'home city corners' for desperate defence, no indie areas to conquer besides Kaimdor.
I like the background provided so I enjoyed staking my claim for Kaimdor. Nice weapons spread about in the various crypts.
Map Design: 3
Tied in with Playability, the MD has created some play issues. Only 4 entrances to Kaimdor, all of which are chokepoints - whoever wins the race for Kaimdor will be happy with defending. Kaimdor itself is overdefended, meaning it can be overlooked readily enough. More entrances to Kaimdor (perhaps an underground with drills and caverns, rebuildable teleporters...) would create a much crazier fight for the centre. Hell, even some unlockable Dwarven mountaineers would be nice :)
No complaints. Liked the messages received when I picked up gold among others :)
Grand map. You were aiming for the carnage in the middle to be a lot more epic, there are some logistical issues for armies however. Look into flyers and mountaineers to open up new fronts, not to mention an underground with more entrances. Don't restrict the fighting to an all-or-nothing scramble for the centre - branch out a bit :D
Thanks for the review CSH. I will have v4 out sometime which should provide more options plus towers for defense.