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Ghengis Khan

Author File Description
Ingo van Thiel Ghengis Khan is an enigma.

Apart from the saga-like Secret History of the Mongols, there are hardly any contemporary sources about him. Ghengis Khan was the first Mongolian leader who achieved a durable Mongolian union. He ended the petty tribal squabblings and organized the nation by a rigid beaurocratic system. It was under him that the great Mongolian invasions began. At the time of his death in 1227, his empire would reach from Peking to the Caspian Sea.

In spite of his severe cruelty, Ghengis Khan must have been a very charismatic person. Even in his young years as a solitary fugitive, some people were so impressed that they gave up everything to follow him. He was cunning and knew how to survive the intrigues, the betrayals and the inner conflicts of the Nomadic tribes. He was physically strong and had an unbendable will - but all the same, he was able to listen to advice. Many of his decisions were influenced by his counselors, his generals, his wives and his kin.

You will play most of this campaign as Ghengis Khan, apart from your last, posthumous task. You will have to subjogate the other Mongolian tribes or make them join your cause, annihilate the Tatars, rout the Hsi Hsia, invade North China and capture Peking. Your final challenge will take place seven years after Ghengis Khan's death: The last Chin Emperor must die - you can either kill him or 'convince' him to commit suicide. With his death, the Chin dynasty will come to its end. This campaign can get tough in places, so you might want to save your game at critical points. Enjoy!
AuthorReviews   ( All | Comments Only | Reviews Only )
You can always count on Ingo for fun, creativity and challenge. His contest entry is up to his usual standard, apart from a few spelling errors. Follow the rise of Temujin as he becomes Genghis Khan and takes on China. Enjoy and learn. Using the review categories as an outline, here's what I think you should know about this excellent work:

Playability: Wonderful. This campaign is terrifc fun. I always have trouble remembering what I'm supposed to be doing in Ingo's little worlds, 'cause they're so much fun to explore. There's always something neat to see as you negotiate the intricate pathing. There's always an alternative strategy to pursue - you don't have to think exactly like he did in order to win. You can always play his work a second time and have just as much fun as you did the first.

Creativity: Superb. Build and protect a dam to win. Bribe a spy to find a secret road. Kill the danged courier pigeons or you lose. There's always something new in Ingo's work, either in the nature of a victory condition, a trigger or clever use of a game unit to design something ES never thought of, but is at least as nice-looking and relevant as the art shipped with the game. I don't know how he does it.

Balance: Excellent. More than is his usual style, Ingo has given you some very tough fights. You absolutely must use combined arms forces, particularly in the first two scenarios, or you will most definitely get your clock cleaned. Precise placement of obstacles and Gaia units add to the challenge. Try building up inside China without being detected, as you must in the second scenario. On a couple of occasions, you must use scouting and strategy, not just force, 'cause you simply don't have enough power to take on the bad guys with a frontal assault - killing the final enemy leader in the third scenario exemplifies this very well.

Map Design: Wondferful. There's no one better at this than Ingo, especially in terms of laying out real-feeling towns and adding artistic touches. From Jamuka's village to the flooded city to the Sung's fortress, the maps are a delight to the eye. Moreover, they contain nifty secret paths which are hard to find but easy to use - the approach to The Great Wall in the second scenario must have taken several hours to design. The continuity between the flooded city in the first scenario and the second is one of theose touches that only the masters are capable of. The separation of your two forces in the final scenario, so you can't use a sim-city "hunker down and buildup" approach to win, is nicely-done.

Story/Instructions: Terrific. You have no doubt you are traveling with the great Khan, or that he depends on you in some cases, as you follow the excellent instructions and useful hints. The bitmaps guide your actions as well as teach you some history and geography, and are works of art in their own right. The victory conditions are varied, realistic - and they work. The story is derived from the history, and is often told in the first-person dialogue that only a few of our best designers can do well. The victory and loss messages help in the trasition between scenarios, as well as teach you a bit about why you won or lost and how that impacted history.

Historical Content: Right on, and well-written. Educational, but not rigidly didactic. A fun read, and a fascinating story. Genghis squares things with Jamuka, consolidates his power and moves on China. Selection of key units for you to play with is consistent with what we know of the tribes and characters in this historic era when a tiny clan rose to rule most of Eurasia for over two hundred years.

Overall: YOU MUST PLAY THIS ONE. It's fun, it's fascinating, and it's challenging. I warn you, set aside some time, and stock up on snack food - you won't be able to stop 'til you've finished. INGO, THANK YOU FOR SHARING YOUR GENIUS WITH US -- THIS MONGOL CAMPAIGN IS SUPERB!!

[Edited on 12/30/04 @ 03:49 AM]

Rich Parker
Scenario 1 covers Temujin's rise to the title of Ghengis Khan. Overall this scenario is a very good one, with one exception, which I'll get to in a moment.

First the good stuff. The terrain map is excellent, with the types of extras that make a map a joy to explore - e.g., swamps, "invisible" barriers, good tree mixes, realistic trails, and even salmon that are swimming upstream to spawn (look near the Chin fortress). Creativity is top-rate, including VCs, unit placements and per files to improve game play, and a better Great Wall than I had in The Martial Emperor :( The Story/Instructions are very well done - they get you interested and the narrative makes excellent use of the history. Victory and loss messages go beyond "you win" and "you lose." The bit map is accurate to the game, clean, and has useful details. There's even a clever name for the HP :)

On the downside - This scenario gets very hard at one point, so hard that I found myself saving repeatedly between forays into the Chin fortress to get the required artifact. It became rather tedious - the fortress is over-defended IMO. I found myself relieved (instead of victorious) once the artifact was out of the darn fortress and on its way home. The game play and balance for the rest of the scenario was perfect. The challenges became steadily more challenging, which suits me fine. A nifty "Swords to plowshares" effect happened after I clobbered a barracks - a villager immediately starting building a farm where the barracks had been (perhaps not intended, but nice anyway). Taking care of Jamuka worked out fine once I realized which approach to the fort was the best - and kept the author's warning in mind that the Mongols were hit-and-run warriors.

Scenario 2 covers Ghengis Khan's penetration of the Great Wall of China - and it does a great job of it! This is a tremendous scenario. Balance and playability are excellent. Creativity is wonderful. There is stuff you need/want all over the map, placed so that nothing is easy, but everything builds on the previous action(s) and everything is attainable with some effort and planning. When you finish this one you're ready to play it again right away.

The flooded Chin fortress deserves a 5.0 for map design all by itself, but the rest of the map also is well above the norm. You must breach the Great Wall - think it's time for some vigorous wall-smashing? Think again. The solution is very creative.

The instructions/hints/history/bitmap again are very good. The story is engaging and the history is entertaining and informative.

Top-notch scenario! Scenario 3 is the best of the bunch in this campaign. Creativity and gameplay are tremendous, and there are some very innovative design and CP behavior gimmicks in this one. Excellent city, great use of terrain, and careful unit placement to keep the challenge alive at all times. Another plus is that you must work for your resources, as in Scenario 2. Very little is handed to you - ya gotta want it!

There is much to rave about in this scenario, but that would require revealing some things that are best left to discovery during game play. Suffice to say that your objectives are clear and they present a constant challenge to your tactical, strategic, and logistical abilities. There are any number of ways to attack the bad guys, which raises the replayability factor. This one took me 3 hours to finish and I loved every minute of it.

[Edited on 12/30/04 @ 03:52 AM]

Reading the instructions one gets immediately immersed in the story line and can hardly wait to make things happen. The History panel makes a good reading and sketches the conflicts of the era with a skilled pen. The objectives are woven into the story line with exceptional dexterity, so the player would know how to go about the business of solving them even without listing them on by one in a separate column. The "dynamic" introductory scenery of the first scenario is simply captivating and by itself tells a tale about the Author's skills. As the story line goes, the two friends exchange bitter words, then Jamuka leaves and Temujin HAS to take the opposite direction. I was very pleased to find such a "subtle" victory condition as "Research Nobility" to give a flavor of historical correctness to the campaign. This simple addition to the game is worth a compliment, I think, since with all its simplicity, it feels refreshing in the sea of "Destroy Specific Object" objectives. Even the latter victory condition is given a twist by the Author: coupled with a "Bring Object to Object" condition, it results in a "You will lose if Jamuka is killed by anyone else than Temujin" victory condition. Creating such composite victory conditions to represent real situations are telltale signs of an expert scenario designer. In the second scenario, the Author makes a point of historical correctness again, when calls the player's attention to the possibility of executing the traitor after payment (or, in other words, after its victory conditions are met). Not many of us would think of giving a victory condition to an otherwise doomed unit (Bring Object to Object: Jamuka to Storage Pit, first scenario) just to make it head towards the Great Wall when not engaged in battle, to represent Jamuka's attempt to flee to the other side. The Author very skillfully creates continuity between his scenarios. The Great Wall is there for example in the first scenario to create the impression of continuity in the following scenarios, and is also used to make Jamuka's goal inaccessible. Another continuity-trick is the dam, which is worth a honorable compliment, I think.

One of the best indication of the Author's map-making skills is the secret pathway in the forest adjacent to the Wall. It is impossible to find it without the help of the Chinese Traitor. The Author knows what the unit pathfinding AI is able, and what it is unable to accomplish. Even in no-fog mode, no amount of clicking on the Wall's hidden gap induces any unit to find the path leading to it. Excellent job.

Such small details, as leading a Priest with an unit to a certain spot, or hurting an enemy unit to "show direction" shows the Author's extensive knowledge about how the game ticks. The "pigeon trick" of the third scenario falls into this category too. Because of all the excitement this simple trick delivers, I see a special reward well warranted in this case. All in all, the scenarios give well rounded feeling and deliver enjoyable gameplay. Finishing a scenario does not result in a "closed book" stance, rather falls into the category when one feels like rereading a passage now and again. I did play it again, and it was fun to play even knowing what to expect next.

[Edited on 12/30/04 @ 03:54 AM]

What can I say? Even though there was nothing in this campaign that is not from ROR, it just felt like an AOK campaign. The treacherous objectives of the Mongols, creative victory conditions (e.g. shooting-down carrier pigeons) and even the Great Wall of China helped to make this experience feel very Mongolian.

The maps, as expected, were gorgeous, with plenty of creative use of scenario objects (such as bridges made out of skeletons). One of the few concerns I have is that it is easy to get confused with the multitude of objectives, many of which can be resolved out of order (Shameless plug: look forward to Objectives being much more elegant in AOK). There are a few tricks to winning scenarios, such as having to draw enemies out from the protection of their towers, but nothing too obscure. A sub-plot involving damming a river is wonderful, and although I don't want to give away too much, you will see the results of your actions in later scenarios. Some of the objectives were hard to manage (e.g. not sure when I built the wall in the right place) but I am willing to forgive such shortcomings since almost every aspect of this campaign pushes the envelope for what the ROR editor can do.

Download this campaign and play it right away!

[Edited on 12/30/04 @ 03:55 AM]

This campaign concerns itself with the struggles between the Mongols and the Chinese during the years, 1201 - 1234.

The first scenario, "The Onon River", begins with the player in his encampment just after a meeting with Jumuka. The player must kill Jumuka as one of the victory conditions in this one. The player may be tempted to chase Jumuka as he flees to the west of the camp. You will find this to be impossible as a nearly invisible cliff lies on the western edge of the camp. This cliff separates your units from Jumuka and isn't even readily apparent. Little touches like this are used by the author to make the game bend to his designs.

The introduction, map, and history are all well done. The stories that begin each scenario are well written and interesting. The History sections contain some additional information on the era, so, be sure to check them out.

"The Great Wall" is the second chapter in this campaign. A Chinese traitor is an interesting charactor in this story. He knows a way through the Great Wall. This information is vital to your plans to control the lands beyond. This traitor won't come cheaply, but his help is badly needed.

Terrain is used well thoughout the work and though the author doesn't use gaia objects with the wild abandon of some other writers, everything is extremely clean and neatly arranged.

In the final scenario, "Shung-To and the aftermath", I ran into something that, to me, was a serious setback. The background story has the player having to capture two carrier pigeons released by a chinese prisoner. When the scenerio starts, true to the story, two birds are flying away. If they reach the Capital City the game is over. I couldn't find a way to keep the birds from reaching their destinations. Units don't naturally fire on birds. The hints section states that only villagers can kill the pigeons. This loss would come less than a minute into the work. Maybe other people can get past this section, but it was an iron roadblock for me.

The author uses game effects which are cutting edge, but in doing so, invariably raises the chances of something going wrong. High numbers of interacting victory conditions can make the game do some amazing things and tell a highly involved story, but great care must be used. I recommend this campaign, The first two scenarios are great and if you can get past my problem spot, I'm sure the third scenario is too.

[Edited on 12/30/04 @ 03:55 AM]

Steve Ryan
Hardly needs me to say anything except this was done by Ingo Van Thiel. As usual brilliantly executed stories with nice twists and magnificent scenery. Historically spot on with just enough tweaking to make the scenarios more interesting and fun ! I have to make special mention of a few outstanding items.

The map continuity between Scen1 and Scen2 with the flooded fortress.. the use of those alligator eaten cats to make a bunch of damaged walls was incredibly effective. The look of this flooded fortress was soooo realistic!

The design of the great wall (I've seen plenty before but none better)

The brilliant triggers to make thing happen (I was sure I would find a way through the wall before being shown ? but I didn't). And the gaia troops just appearing from nowhere in Scen 3.. superb!

The bird hunting.. hard but doable.. and so nicely fit with the story!

The numbers of Victory conditions that all made sense, were not impossibly difficult and well suited to the story line.

The nicely tweaked AI and PER files that kept up pressure but not to a ridiculous level.

So many other thing too. If Ingo wrote these full time I wouldn't have to play online!!!

[Edited on 12/30/04 @ 03:56 AM]

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