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Age of Empires: Single Player Campaigns » The David Saga #1 - Ascension of a King

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The David Saga #1 - Ascension of a King

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Number of Scenarios: 4
Difficulty: Moderate
Ancient wisdom and mythology are but a few of the literary gems contained in the Old Testament. Accounts of bronze age battles, court intrigues and military heroism also fill its pages. The first and second books of Samuel in particular are loaded with military histories that lend themselves well to AOE campaigns scenarios. These books tell of the exploits of David of Bethlehem, a young shepherd who eventually becomes one of the great military commanders and kings of the Old Testament. The David Saga #1 campaign, based on the first book of Samuel, covers David's humble beginnings as a shepherd (you actually get to "herd" gazelle!), through his first skirmishes and battles with the Philistines to the period of his renegade existence in the wilderness. Built around a coming-of-age storyline you, as David, will battle lions, fight the mighty Goliath, go on exciting raids against the enemy Philistines and build your reputation as a military commander and civic leader. There are plenty of puzzles to solve, unique missions to fulfill and meaningful civ building in these scenarios. In building this campaign, careful attention was paid game balance, terrain map and story. If you like a little of everything AOE has to offer, check this one out.
AuthorComments & Reviews   ( All | Comments Only | Reviews Only )
Steve Ryan
Map Design5.0
This is a masterpiece to rival the Persian campaigns of Gordon Farrell and the fact that the author lists it as #1 has me feeling very satisfied that more is still to come. If you don't enjoy this campaign then you don't like AOE. Playability: Sensational. I could not stop playing. I played the entire campaign right through without pause (at least 6 hours worth). The first scenario is a little tedious but it importantly establishes young Davids courage and skills. The final Scenario "Wilderness Oddyssey" is a true AOE masterpiece. Creativity: Excellent. You really have a feel for Davids life. Uses AOE beautifully to deliver Davids' rise from a shepherd to Military commander. The slaying of Goliath is nicely depicted. Balance: Again excellent. This camapaign from 1st to last scenario gives a great challenge. The best part of this campaign was that each scenario was well balanced. No easy Victory or vast impossible task was presented. Map Design: This author has excelled with his maps. Look for beautiful little bridges and realistic fora and fuana settings. The maps excellently add to the overall plability of this campaign. Story/Instructions: If these stories don't get you in you have no soul. Beautifully written stories that follow the biblical story of David. Don't be misled though these stories aren't copies of the Biblical stories they really make you feel for David and I could not wait to read the next installment. The bitmaps are very good with the bitmap for the last scenario being outstanding ( I felt like the author had transported me to an entirely new game like Myst or Riven).
Map Design5.0
This is a retelling of the story of David, King of Israel. Simply put, it is the best Campaign I've ever played. The introductory story is interesting, detailed and accurate. The bitmaps that go along with it are nothing short of stunning. They are so good, they are pieces of art in themselves. The first scenario, "David the Shepard", starts as David, a young lad has some troubles with lions while sheparding his father's flock of (Gazelles?). It seems that he has fallen asleep on the job. The victory condition is creative and something I've never had to do before. I won't give it away here. Suffice to say, I replayed it a few more times after I finished just for fun. The second scenario, "Coming of Age", Pits David's small force against the dreaded Philistines. Here, David must battle the mighty Philistine warrior, Goliath. I remember the fear I felt when I found him, Standing in the middle of the valley, blocking my path. Reaching down and putting a pebble in my (slingshot), I fired, and true to form, Goliath fell. Pretty impressive stuff. The third scenario, "Campaign at Timnah", has David leading a band against the Philistines at Timnah. King Saul himself has promised you his daughters hand in marriage for leading this attack. Taking Timnah directly is out of the question. You must first find the resources necessary for the job. The final scenario, "Wilderness Odyssey", King Saul has grown jealous of David and sent assassins to kill him. You must escape the city of Gibeah and head out into the wilderness. You seek the Temple at Nob, where you must find the sword of Goliath. With it, you search for the prophet, Samuel to help you cross the river and establish a new township at Ziklag. There you need to build a temple and destroy the Geshurite government center. As a final poetic victory condition, David must return to the city of Gibeah and convert King Saul himself. All four scenarios were excellent. The balance was very good throughout the entire campaign. The campaign was listed as "moderate" in difficulty. I thought that the final scenario fell squarely in the hard catagory. Escaping the city of Gibeah was no easy task. The maps that the scenarios are played on are of extremely high quality. Terrain is used in creative ways. The cities in the campaign are beautiful. Lots of little details stand out. Check out the rock formations used as a trail leading from the Geshurite city in the last scenario. Look at the details in the city of Gibeah, The creative mixing of gaia objects in the wilderness, how each berry bush sits on it's own little desert patch. The author is to be congratulated on his attention to detail. A quality of Detail that few authors bother with. The author seems to have thought of everything. I point out the following as an example of this campaigns high playability. At one point in the fourth scenario, the player discovers a temple (Nob) with some blind priests. Experienced AoE players all know how irritating it can be to get your units close enough for the blind priests to do their work. The author has enclosed the small area with a semi-circle of three blind priests. Problem solved. No matter where your unit is, it ends up close enough to one or more of the blind priests so that it can be healed without fiddling to get the unit in just the right place. It's been a long time since a campaign has made me say, "wow". This campaign did that. It has it all, Great Story, Fantastic introductory bitmaps, battles, puzzles, problem solving, great use of terrain, and a sense of involvment that few campaigns can match. This campaign is a hands down, absolute must download.
Map Design5.0
What an amazing campaign. This little 4-scenarios-masterpiece tells the story of young David, who grows from a shepherd to a brilliant military general and diplomat.

I've started playing yesterday evening, and just couldn't let up on it. Every scenario features something different. While in the first you have to herd gazelles/sheep to a safe place and get rid of lions, in the second you have to defeat the mighty Goliath. While the third scenario looks like a build&destroy at the start, it's more a puzzle scenario. It takes intensive thinking to solve it. The fourth was my favourite, mixing fixed force, quest, build&destroy, puzzle and a few diplomacy elements together into a wonderful scenario. The campaign is chock-full of creative puzzles. While those can become difficult, it is never unbeatable. Another aspect of this campaign I like is that it doesn't feature that "hurry" element, where you need to build up fast and do dozens of tasks at the same time or you get crushed. Instead, you have plenty of time to plan your next move.

Imhotep said in the description that he worked hard on balancing this campaign. He knows what he's talking about. While it is never impossible or frustratingly hard, it's not too easy either. At the end of the second scenario, where you have to lead a small force and kill 15 Philistines I had exactly one unit left to kill the last Philistine. I've never seen a campaign which was better balanced.

Another thing in which this campaign stands out is that it is so freaking creative. There are dozens of puzzles I've never seen before, like in the first scenario where you have to find out how to get rid of a lion king (it's pretty tricky, took me some time to figure out). Every scenario stands out in mind as every of them is completely different from each other.

The maps were all designed beautifully, though they've suffered a little within time. While most places look beautiful, some are a little too empty, that's why I don't give a 5 here. Still, it's enjoyable to look at, and the cities were great.

The last thing which perfects this campaign, is the story. It is told in a great way, with good hints, a nice history section and cool bitmaps. It was always clear what to do and there were hardly any spelling mistakes, if any.

This campaign is a masterpiece and the best I've played so far.

Download Reccommendation: Yes


I raised the map design rating from 4.7 to 5, because I realized Ingo is right after all.

Well, sorry for the inconvenience.

[Edited on 05/18/05 @ 06:10 AM]

Ingo van Thiel While this is a nicely written review overall, I think it's a bad idea to re-review old works by today's standards; it is superfluous and usually does not do the old works justice either.

In his day, imhotep's map design was arguably the best, and had the highest level of detail that anyone had seen. Yes, today's standards are even higher, but these standards would not exist if they could not build up on the level of map design that was achieved by pioneers like imhotep. Re-reviewing the David Saga's map design downwards seven years later is a bit like saying "Edison's first light bulb was not such a big thing to invent, you can get better ones at your local supermarket nowadays..." Really, instead of rewriting AoEH history, it would be much better to review some of the countless unreviewed scenarios which are still waiting in the Granary.
LittleFreak I realise you're right.. I'll better get back to looking at unreviewed stuff. ;)

Thanks for the reminder.
EarlSmithIII Anyone else have trouble getting the victory condition after herding all four "sheep" (gazelles) into the flagged off area in the first level? I got all four up there, and it wouldn't trigger the victory. Tried this multiple times and eventually gave up and used the cheat code "home run" to go on to the next level as I felt like I accomplished what I was supposed to and the game wasn't rewarding me.
Map Design4.2
Playability: 4.2
(Insert Playability analysis here)

Balance: 5
(Insert Balance analysis here)

Creativity: 5
(Insert Creativity analysis here)

Map Design: 4.8
(Insert Map Design analysis here)

Story/Instructions: 5
(Insert Story/Instructions analysis here)

Additional Comments:

Loved this campaign. Just got a little frustrated in the first level when I couldn't trigger the victory condition even though my gazelles were in the flagged area, so I docked the playability. I felt like defeating Goliath was way too easy, and I was disappointed from a Biblical perspective that there was no sign of the two armies on either side of the valley, in their standoff, waiting their fates to be decided by David and Goliath, in level 2, so I docked the creativity and map design there a tiny bit in response.

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