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Song of the Sung

Author File Description
Eggman In the latter portion of the thirteenth century, Ghengis Khan's grandson Kublai would begin the work he had started so long ago, the complete conquest of China. The Sung Empire, the last bastion of Chinese culture, finds itself beset from all sides and without allies. Critically short of military might, they are forced to rely on the simple peasant, Wei Man. Historically, by 1279 Kublai had succeeded in putting an end to the Sung dynasty and found himself free to conduct less successful campaigns in Japan, Vietnam, and Java. Wei Man, is one man alone enough to change the course of destiny? Only you can decide...
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"Song of the Sung" makes a good first impression. The player is immediately greeted with a first class bit map and is introduced to Wei Han, a young, industrious Sung Chinese lad. He is the main charactor in an excellent story where we soon meet Wei Hans master, Lei H'sen, and the women Wei Han loves, Xian Han. The tale contains many gems on Chinese life in 1273. The Mongols have cast their eye towards China. It is a dangerous time. The first scenario, "At the Palace of Kublai Khan", begins in Hongzhou where Wei Man has been chosen to lead a strike against the Mongols before they can complete their war preparations. It's a fairly straight forward scenario with several victory conditions. The map is a good looking mixture of terrain types, land and water areas. Elevations and Cliffs are used effectively throughout the work. The snow on the mesa tops is a nice touch. All the villages and cities are carefully laid out complete with roads and paths. The author avoids the blocky building layouts often found in lesser works. "The Devine Wind" is the second scenario. It is a grand strategy played on a gigantic map where the action covers three areas, Japan, Korea, And China. Your enemies are well entrenched. This scenario must be played carefully and will probably require several restarts and certainly many hours to finish. Save this one often. There are many grinding battles ahead. You will have to think ahead as gold mining is limited. With carefull strategy some of the combat can be avoided, but I think this scenario was harder than necessary. One enemy fort has tons of missle and guard towers which are protected by double fortifacations backed up by ballistas and heavy cavalry. Another encampment has multible archery ranges, stables, and barracks replacing units faster than they can be killed. Siege weaponry is nearly nonexistent. I found myself wishing some battles where over long before they where. Its still a great scenario regardless. "Twilight in the Imperial City" is one of the most creative scenarios I've played in that victory depends, in part, on an allied civilization building a city. You must supply soon of the resources needed to finish it. It's tactical feel stands in sharp contrast to the second scenario. The Capital, Hangzhou, is under attack and is sure to fall soon. The player must divide his time between collecting the required resources and slowing the Mongol offensive. You will also need resources of your own to defend Hangzhou. I found myself jumping all around the map with several things all needing rapid attention at once. This scenario was a nail biter from start to finish. "Song of the Sung" is a first class work by an experienced designer. One which successfully combines all the aspects of AoE/RoR into a greater whole. It is a work which I can recommend without hesitation to all but perhaps the beginning AoE/RoR player.
Angel Grex
EGGMAN HAS CREATED A MASTERPIECE!! This is one of my ten favorite campaigns of all time. It's fun, educational, challenging, beautiful and clever. I found no weaknesses whatsoever, and liked the storytelling and creativity the best. By category, the reasons for Song of the Sung getting a perfect score are: Playability: Superb. Lots of fun, lots to explore, alternative strategies available to achieve your objectives. Pathing excellent -- some tight defiles, but none of them unfair or irritating. Always enough action to keep you engaged and busy - you're never just waiting for the next thing you need, or playing sim-city 'cause your safely snuggled into an invulnerable fort and not being probed by the enemy. You don't want to take breaks -- you can hardly wait to see what happens next. Creativity: Wonderful. Well-thought out special victory conditions, puzzles and tricks. The canal worker who is the key to victory in the first scenario is a stroke of genius, as is the route to safety so you can buildup in the second scenario. The mix of victory conditions in the third scenario, where you must save everything you can while your capital is razed, is marvelous. Balance: Exceptional. Eggman is the master of the .per file. I think he wrote 21 ai/per files for this campaign, creating enemies who press you constantly, mix their units, respond with massive counterattacks -- as appropriate to each scenario -- and are generally danged hard to beat. You can can lose quickly or late in each scenario - you have to be on your toes always. Even when there seem to be lulls, that just means your enemy is building up, not that he's stuck. Eggman has also created allies who are actually helpful, giving a good account of themselves to cover your retreat or buildup. Precise placement of enemy towers and Gaia objects for you to find just in time to survive. Map Design: Superb. Realistic, interesting to explore, laid out to create gameplay opportunities and risks. Gorgeous cities and countryside with lots of extras, swamps, wells, gardens, roads - feels like a real place. Story/Instructions: Top-Notch. The story, which is a great read even if you don't play the campaign, is told thru the eyes of a half-caste Sung-Mongol who is set increasingly tough challenges by his master as the Sung try, to no avail, to stave off the Mongol conquest. It is evocative and compelling, well-grounded in the history but not constrained by it. An adventure and a romance which definitely helps you identify with the hero. Beautiful and useful bitmaps. Clear and helpful instructions and hints, mostly woven into the story line. One or two hints to compensate for game engine weaknesses. Victory conditions work and victory/loss messages are good reading. Historical Content: The relevant history is recounted very well, and illustrated in the units and map design. The terrain maps are accurate representations of the geography and it's influence on strategy and tactics (check out Korea and Japan in the second scenario), Marco Polo's visit to Kublai Khan is portrayed as a vignette in one of the scenarios. The attempted Mongol invasion of Japan, and the resultant birth of the legend of Kamikaze (the Divine Wind) is exceedingly well-done. The Mongol, Sung and Japanese cultural traits are portrayed well in the game design and story. The key units are well-selected to represent historical features of the tribes and armies in the campaign. Overall: DON'T MISS THIS ONE!! A MODEL FOR OTHER DESIGNERS TO EMULATE, AND GREAT FUN FOR INTERMEDIATE AND EXPERT PLAYERS. GREAT WORK, EGGMAN!!
Rich Parker
A very solid campaign, with some nice twists and turns along the way. for one thing, it's the only campaign I saw that did not have the player be either Genghis or Kublai Khan. In all three scenarios the history, bitmaps, instructions, and terrain maps were superior. The balance and playability were sometimes a bit uneven - scenario 1 was an wasy win, scenario 2 was difficult (admittedly I'm not very good at water battles), and scenario three had you on the clock, so to speak, but was not particularly difficult. Creativity was high in all three scenarios - scenario 3, for example, has a creative use of stone tribute. Ai and per files were used to perfection. A very enjoyable campaign.
Only the most accomplished scenario designers dare to assign a color other than blue to the Human Player, and Eggman did just that, with his first scenario, which obviously needed a lot of testing. If he wanted to prove his skills, he made his point. His maps are just that: maps with a purpose, with a knowledgeable touch applied to each detail. His scenarios are immersing, the story line well-written. Playing his Divine Wind for example one gets involved in the gameplay and feels just like battling the Mongol Navy and Outwitting the Great Khan on the land. The map of this scenario is very noteworthy, as it is well balanced in placement and unit reaction distances. All the scenarios require a build-up phase before the showdown battle commences, so players are tested in a lot of ways and not just running set-piece gauntlets. If there is such a gauntlet, then it is kept in check, as it does not last longer than the excitement in generates, like at the start of the second scenario. Harassment by CPs are balanced to be survivable - by a good player. When such niceties like the Canal Supervisor are not just there for the special effect, but are designed to fulfill a crucial role in the scenario, the player gets the pleasure-boost which tells the excellent apart from the good. There is no question about the Author knows inside out what the game can offer. The third scenario is an example of how a couple AIs can be made to work together to fulfill the common goal. All in all, an excellent job, which is a pleasure to play and beckons the player for another try.
I really enjoyed the subject matter of this campaign. After playing as Genghis in about six campaigns, playing against the Mongols was a nice change. ; It also made the Mongols seem that much scarier. The story also fits AOE-style scenarios well. ; All three scenarios start as puzzles, but switch over to some mass combat quickly. I appreciate this kind of diversity, even in a short campaign. The puzzles are particularly clever since the maps still manage to be historically accurate; whenever there is a maze element, it is incorporated into the landscape of China or Japan. ; Ditto for the cities, which looked pretty but did not foul up the AI from being effective. ; There were even some unique ideas in this scenario (such as the canal) that I had never seen before. Little easter eggs that had nothing to do with the main story of the campaign (such as Marco Polo) were just plain cool. ; I think these maps were just about perfect. ; There were interesting details to be seen, but still enough open space for combat. ; Distances for LOS and firing range were judged well--every time I thought I had reached a roadblock, I found the correct path. ; My only complaint about the maps was that the cities of mixed allies were a bit confusing, but they worked well and were vital to the story. ; I sometimes get frustrated when there are too many Objectives, but in this case, it was so cool to always have "Civilization" and "Personal" Objectives, that not only did I not mind the number of Objectives, but I was able to keep them straight. ; One of the best campaigns I have seen. Bravo.
Steve Ryan
Hmm very nice. The opening bitmap and story would requires something good to keep up the standard and Eggman delivered. Very nice maps throughout with some very good design used. The balance was excellent and the story very good. An interesting Fictional characters life dealing with the mongols. The only one I have played yet to be on the other side too! I did have some difficulty in the second scenario and it took me forever to complete.. but no deductions there! Some special points to mention.. The story .. excellent, the maps especially the map of China/Korea and Japan. The AI usage to complete scenario 3 (you really did need to work with your ally). Even the little AVI files (are they new) fitted in nicely).

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