Hi,this is my third scenario and probably my best one for the age of empires fans, Chilling strategies for 40min of game on 1.5speed.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jrJ_4tYXZXI&t=648s Video showing a gameplay preview for those who don't wanna discover the scenario by themselves.
Do you like defense scenarios? Then I can give this a warm recommendation.
Those of you who have played a few such maps probably know of a few tricks, such as walling yourself in and massing ranged units. What is so lovely about this map is that these little exploits have been taken into account and can no longer be abused. The result is a very scaled down yet still interesting defense scenario.
The only detail which annoyed me slightly is the way that you have to chop your way out in order to defend your wonder. Seeing your opponent start smashing the wonder only to realize you have the units to deal with it but you forgot to chop a hole to get out is a little frustrating. Replacing a single tree with a deleteable wall section would make the early game a bit more relaxing.
Both the economic resources and the military opposition are quite well balanced.
This map really shines around the time of the first Brown attack wave. The Red Player is still building axemen and just putting the first cavalry units out there and right when you think you have the situation under control they're joined by this mass of scouts. However after that the stress eases up somewhat and you're mostly waiting for the next big attack wave, only dealing with the occasional red cavalry.
I was surprised to learn the Red player only uses the "SHANG CLUBMEN" AI file provided by the game. While this is servicable, I believe that a custom AI file, even with just some minor changes, could have increased the challenge factor later in the game and created some more diverse gameplay. I would have loved to see the red player keep building axes or swordsmen units later in the game.
What makes this different from existing defense maps? Most of all the brilliant use of technology restrictions. The way this map restricts both you and your opponents to infantry and cavalry units doesn't only create unique gameplay, but also brings out the importance of the different bonuses these units have. Infantry -> Camels -> Cavalry -> Infantry, suddenly becomes an important weapons triangle too keep in mind.
Map Design: 4.3
No revolutionary design tricks, but the map is both well thought out and nicely rendered. The swamp in front of the player's wonder served a double purpose, as it is not only nice to look at, but also prevents the player from barricading themselves in with buildings. The player's base also has some great looking terrain.
A detail which really stood out to me and shows that thought went into the design of this map is how the trees behind the wonder allow your villagers to get through to repair it from behind.
The forests however aren't super interesting to look at. While they are mixed with different forest brushes, there is often no underbrush. Some hand placed trees and maybe some stone blended into the forest would help bring it to life.
The scenario doesn't come with a story, but does everything really need an epic story? I don't think so. I mean, if you're not a great writer you shouldn't have to concern yourself with writing a mediocre story that most players will skip through either way. Sometimes all the player needs to know is "Defend your Wonder". The instructions are clear enough and the hints section covers what you need to know in order to succeed.
This is a tiny map, but you get a good chunk of gameplay out of it. Making a small map with thought put into every detail is always better than undertaking a large project and half-assing it. I agree that this is probably your best map so far, hence I decided to give the review I promised you here.
Our community in 2018 isn't exactly blessed with a great number of active scenario designers. I'm glad to have you around Luna Lynn!