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MrCheeze In this multiplayer scenario, there are four players, each with one resource and in a different age. Lots of diplomacy and trading with tributes is needed to win this one. One tip, build lots of towers to hold off player 4 at the start. If you don't have stone, you should know how to get it.

I will be updating this for better balance... Eventually...

This entry got eighth place the Microscopic Map Contest. Only contest reviews will be allowed and any other reviews made will be changed to comments by the Granary moderators. This will be moved to a permanent section when it is created.
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Official Review and Scoring
MrCheeze's "Moo"
First Thoughts: What is a Moo? This was my first question while copying the scenario file into the appropriate folder. I fired up single player, and loaded the scenario. The first line got me - "in lack of a better title". That's funny, I thought. Now to find out what exactly this one is. I had to browse into the history section that this map is for four players and -should be- a multiplayer map. The author commented that I can have a look with the scenario editor before playing. This came in handy, for it IS a multiplayer map.
Now to get some people to play with. Finding four people was not -too- hard, but trying to explain them that this is a contest entry was - not phenomenal, to say the least. At least they were willing to play and help.

1: Playability (2.2)
Guess what? It is playable. A regular conquest victory. With that said, playability ends. The map is meant to be a sort of a handicap map, where player four starts from iron age, with heaps of gold, player three from bronze and so on. Each player has 99999 of a resource (1: food, 2: wood, 3: stone, 4: gold) and 1000 of any other resource.
A real issue to playability is the lack of resources, rendering the game a deathmatch with divided resources. The thing is, player four has a reasonable chance of dominating the game, and has no need for alliances. While others are advancing ages, he hops in with some elephant archers, priests, or whatever else he has and wins - bigtime. As luck would have it, he has no need for player one's food, 1000 food is enough to win from such a technological advantage.
Another problem hindering playability: the hints say, the smartest player gets the dock. What dock? Where? No docks on the map... Should I build a dock? Well, no matter how hard I tried, I only found deep water. Problematic, indeed.

2: Balance (1.8)
An extra 0.8 points for the good idea. Minus the rest for the lack of realisation of the idea.
Player 1 needs an ally, and fast.
Player 2 has tons of wood, so he can make farms, and chariot rush in the bronze age. Quantity over quality to defeat player four. Unfortunately, however, he won't last long enough to get to the bronze age, let alone, the iron age.
Player 3 has the stone, but little else. He can get to the iron age, but that kills off all his resources and is in the same situation as player one, and needs an ally. Without food, he is slowly losing ground to the brown war machine.
Player 4 is the winner. He is already in iron age and can deal massive blows to both red and yellow, for example, with horse archers, priests, balliestae, or anything.
There is no balance here! The idea is to get players into alliances, but brown still kills them all! A swift rebalancing is badly needed.

3: Creativity (2.7)
You don't see this concept every day, that is for sure. The concept itself, is not necessarily bad. And that exhausts our creativity. The only other creative parts of the map were the walls - but asking the players not to demolish them - is not a good idea. Even if they don't, the brown siege machine will bring them down before time.
The islands theme would not have been bad, but a lot more could have been done. Particularly with that missing dock. Trade would definately be useful, as well as outside ports, perhaps as gaia objects, resource areas, anything. If you meant this to be a diplomatic map, make it more - diplomatic. Diplomacy involves thinking, and many complex situations.

4: Map Design (1.2)
Some would question me for giving a contest entry such a low score. Well, for a start, I do not consider myself a good scenario designer. I do not consider myself a scenario designer by any means. But, I have seen a couple of maps over the years, so I know what good map design is. Well I assure you, this is not.
The map reminded me to my very first scenario. It involved four islands and four players in a similar setup, but was a regular build and destroy. And there was mixed water, at least to an extent. The map design should have taken the author approximately 2 minutes, but one with swift hands can easily do it in under one whole minute.

5: Story/Instructions (2.3)
No story. It is as simple as that.
Lacking instructions. What sort of map is this? Multiplayer? How many players are there? Are they PC players? What is your victory condition? A very lot of questions, and only few answers. You get a nice bit of hints and tips, particularly that player four has gold and noone else does, but that is pretty much it.

-- Overall (2.04)
A reconstruction of this scenario is badly needed. The idea is good! But little else is. A diplomatic scenario in such a claustrophobic environment; we don't see this too often. I'm sure you can do a very lot better than this; give it a shot, I say it's worth it.
Playability: 4.7 A fun scenario where players must choose to trust each other to win, but if you’re too naive, maybe your “friend” will destroy you… It is a good scenario, if everyone agrees to not destroy each others walls, deep water prevents building docks, and wall give you access to enemy lands, but if your opponenent doesn’t agree to the rules it is not very fun…

Balance: 3.4 Not as bad as it looked the first time, players have 1000 of each resource and one unlimited, except for player 4 who was left some gold mines they start in different ages just like a Scn from AoE beta. (player 4 has the benefit of starting in the Iron age) Yet the differences between the players are unfair… (Player 2 really sucks! :P) The hints say that the smartest player get the dock, this is possible at the edge of player 1’s island, unfortunanetly the wood he has won’t get him very far, so he will need wood from player 2, player 3 can build an unlimited number of towers, but will need food from player 1 to counter player 4’s catapults. As you see there is a lot of tributing, at least if player 4 goesn’t rush and kill everybody…

Creativity: 4.4 The only things that makes this scenario special are the player differences and the “gates”. That you managed to somewhat balance this is a wonder! These things make quite a nice scenario, but don’t give you a full score. The most treacherous player wins! ;)

Map design: 2.2 Very basic map design, there is nothing but grass Islands and deep water, the way the map doesn’t need much more things makes me give at a 2.2, at least a desert Island Would have been nice…

Story/instructions: 3.3 The Instructions tell you a lot, but there is no story, for a MP scenario this isn’t really needed either, but it would have been needed for a higher score… The hints are very good, not too revealing, but understandable if you think a while about them.

Overall: 3.60

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