Scenario 6: The Siege of Elensefar

Feedback for the mainline campaign Heir to the Throne.

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CalculusKing
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Joined: April 5th, 2016, 9:20 am

Re: Scenario 6: The Siege of Elensefar

Post by CalculusKing » June 30th, 2018, 7:28 am

(1)
I've played it on easy, medium, and hard back in the 1.10 days. I've played it on hard/challenging every main release (and some development releases) since then, up to 1.14.

(2)
(on hardest difficulty)
1 if I've done great on the previous scenarios and can afford to brute force it
10 otherwise
This mission, ever since I first played it on hard, has always struck me as a horrible example of "fake" difficulty. If you restart scenario 1 until you get the perfect unit traits for your first recruits and keep restarting the campaign until you have a strong force custom-tailored to this mission (an extreme chore to do, but very effective) then you can beat this level without any save-scumming. Otherwise, it's savescum or die. There is too little time for a 'defend the forest' strat to work effectively and too little money to either force your way in before the undead arrive or defeat successive waves of attackers on the river.

(3)
Crystal clear.

(4)
It's servicable. This isn't really a scenario where dialogue is important.

(5)
Time. The time constraint prevents careful destruction of the orc army and forces some mix of cheesy AI exploits and campaign start-scumming extravaganza.

(6)
0/10
Having finally played through all the campaigns on the hardest difficulty, this remains my least favorite level of them all. It violates best campaign design practice on challenging by balancing with time constraints rather than with gold (whether we are talking gold left after the scenario, or player vs enemy gold during scenario). HttT after this scenario is my favorite campaign. But this scenario takes HttT close to the bottom in my personal rating of the mainline campaigns. It looms over the entire lead-up to it and bars the way to the other missions. It's a 'nightmare' scenario hidden like a landmine in a 'challenging' campaign.

(7)
Give the orc player negative base income to cancel out the village recruitment, increase the time limit, and give both the orcs and the undead some more unit variety, so that the player doesn't have to overspecialize for this scenario. Maybe give the undead some more gold at the expense of the orcs (who have presumably just sustained heavy losses assaulting a fortified city). This scenario should not vary much in difficulty between the three difficulty levels. It should be a nasty battle on any difficulty and the player's ability to beat it should be conditioned on whether they have brought a good army to meet it, not on bringing just the right mix of specific units or on extreme luck in the previous scenarios (traditionally gained by restarting the campaign or some scenario about 10-20 times after scenario 1 and possibly by restarting scenario 1 a few dozen times just by itself).

Let me be clear: I had an easier time playing UtBS for the first time ever in 1.14 (I didn't like the theme or the dune elves in earlier versions, so that was the first time I decided to continue past the first scenario) on nightmare than I have ever had (absent one of the abusive 'strats' mentioned earlier) on HttT on challenging, and this scenario is why.

EDIT: I suggest looking at the attached replay by oaq from 1.12. He is an excellent player with a dream team recall list and he only wins on the last turn.
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HttT-The_Siege_of_Elensefar_replay_oaq.gz
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