The Story of the Three Kingdoms (San Guo Yan Yi), - Part I
This campaign deals with The Three Kingdom Period (220 A.D. ~ 265 A.D.) in China. I got the idea of making this campaign from another campaign I downloaded recently, and I think the author of that has done a very good job! The main purpose of this campaign is not to let the player spend 4 hours saving and loading. I will make most of the scenarios quite easy. Most of them will finish in 30 min. But I guarantee you will be able to learn a great deal of Chinese history! I will try to include some "big casts" to let you catch the feeling of a Chinese war, and I will try to make the big kill at the beginning to avoid the turtle speed. This is just part one. I would like to see people's reaction of it. If time allows, I wish I can finish the whole story which will need around 20 scenarios. If you have any comment, please feel free to email me (Daniel) at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Map: This campaign includes custom maps and scenario instruction maps. The scenario instruction maps were average; you can tell that they was given some time, but not that much. The custom maps are fairly good - a little above average in my opinion, due to the precise placement of troops in formation and his placement of walls to create a palace. Gameplay/Storyline: Gameplay for this campaign is fairly interesting for large battles. The author attempted to keep the game speed constant during the large battles, which I liked. Too many large battle scenarios bog down your computer badly. The story kind of blew over my head: I found all the different names and incidents confusing. The storyline needs cleaning up to make it flow better. Creativity: His philosophy about creating scenarios (playing one shouldn't take more than 30 min. to 1 hour) is pretty creative and will appeal to a lot of Agers out there. Some of the scenario victory conditions are pretty creative: instead of killing someone, you only have to engage in combat with them, while some of the conditions were the standard fare: wipe so-and-so off the map. Overall: An average campaign with a few high points. Not that bad, I feel, but at this point, it doesn't belong on the top ten list. Appeal: Short scenarios; creative victory conditions. Pros : Doesn't take long. Cons : Hard to read History and scenario instruction areas.
It was very playable because there were no glitches hindering play, and the balance was easy, so that balance issues did not hinder you from winning either.
The balance for the first mission was a bit difficult, but the last three missions were easy. IMO, it would have been nice if some were slightly more challenging without making them more unlikely to beat. What I mean is that the tough thing about designing balance for fixed force maps like this is that since you can't change your number of units beyond finding Gaia units, there is not much flexibility in terms of your forces. While a map that is too easy hurts balance, a map that is too hard to have much chance at winning makes the map unplayable. So it's better that the Designer made the last three missions too easy than making them too hard.
One suggestion would be to add side missions when possible. For example, in the third mission, the Designer could start with fewer soldiers yet ALSO make you start with resources (eg. gold and wood) that you could use to train troops at Yuan Shao's base to help with your attack.
Playing Scenario #1 on the HARDEST Difficulty, I killed two enemy priests, but one of my heroes got converted and then another one got killed. The same thing happened on HARD. It seems that I need to keep my hero units in the back of my army to avoid them getting converted. On Moderate, my forces got slaughtered trying to make it to the first two priests while I kept my heroes in the back. Hero Hector got killed. He's a really weak unit in the chariot. Next, I beat it on EASY mode.
I found the idea of mapping out these major points in the Three Kingdoms story to be very creative.
In Scenario #1, I like the idea of using your heroes to kill the enemy cavalry leaders because that is a major concept of the Three Kingdoms novel theme. You are stuck using your heroes to fight those enemy cavalry because they are so tough.
Map Design: 4
I thought the maps were all designed nicely, with a range of troop formations, buildings, and terrain. I do think that the design was a bit too symmetrical, "blocky", and could use more "eye candy" artwork. For example, in the palace map, the gardens were neat and had good variety with animals, but the Designer did not extend that kind of Gaia unit prettyiness to much of the other scenarios, eg. berry bushes, tree varieties, etc. In Scenario #3, it looked like there was potential for a side mission with houses in the woods on the west side of the map, but there was no path to get there, so it looked like an unused potential for a side story or at least for some upgrades that you could get your player (eg. resources to train more soldiers).
Scenario #1 probably was the best mission in terms of map design, challenge, and balance. Scenario #2 had a good, pretty design of the palace.
This was another good point of the campaign because I liked the story telling of the Three Kingdoms. An earlier reviewer wrote that he got lost in the story, so I suppose that the story could have been improved for clarity for people who hadn't heard the Three Kingdoms story before. Personally, I was familiar with the story though, so personally I did not find any gaps that needed explaining for me. I like how when I lose there is a thoughtful story, like in Scenario #4, it talks about what happened in real history.
SCENARIO #1's instruction says to kill the enemy "leaders", and I initially took this to just refer to the three brothers (priests) who lead the opposing forces. Playing on EASY, I killed the three enemy brothers (priests), but the mission didn't end. I reread the instructions and saw that it says that only the enemy leaders get horses. This must mean that the enemy "leaders" are the "Players" who own those priests and include the horsed enemies. After I killed everyone on the teams of those enemy "Players", I got a Victory.
In SCENARIO #3, The instructions should have specified exactly which of your heroes are Liu Bei and each of his brothers. You can guess though that they are the three heroes in front of your army and that the hero in the middle is Yuan Shao.
On Scenario #4, on Hard, I went right away north to Wen Chou and killed him, but then my soldier got blocked in on all sides by brown enemies so he couldn't get away. I didn't realize that the scenario doesn't work as well if you fight the enemy hero on the right first (Wen Chou). It's true that you can figure out which enemy hero is which (yellow or red) by looking at the diplomacy menu or by clicking on those enemy heroes, but I didn't realize this, and it would have been helpful in the instructions specified that Yan is the enemy on the left of the map and Wen Chou is the one surrounded by a square of flags on the right side of the map.
You should play this in AOE 1.0c instead of ROR. In AOE1, your allies' territory is not revealed, but in ROR, it is revealed automatically, which the Designer didn't intend. This only matters in Scenario #2. After beating it on HARDEST in ROR, I went back and beat it on HARD in AOE1.
[Edited on 03/01/21 @ 02:39 PM]