Scenario 6: The Siege of Elensefar

Feedback for the mainline campaign Heir to the Throne.

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CalculusKing
Posts: 42
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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LordWolfDan
Posts: 75
Joined: September 30th, 2018, 7:31 am

Re: Scenario 6: The Siege of Elensefar

Post by LordWolfDan » October 13th, 2018, 7:22 pm

(1) What difficulty level and version of Wesnoth have you played the scenario on?

- 1.14.5, Beginner

(2) How difficult did you find the scenario? (1-10)

- 5

(3) How clear did you find the scenario objectives?

- Easy, kill the enemy leaders while retaking a vital Wesnoth city

(4) How clear and interesting did you find the dialog and storyline of the scenario?

- Pretty interesting. I like how you can rely on thieves if you choose to let them join you. Plus the arrival of elf lord Kalenz and revelation of mysterious "Sceptre of Fire" really spices things up

(5) What were your major challenges in meeting the objectives of the scenario?

- Skeletons, but thankfully with four of my level 2 magi and elvish sorceress, it wasn't too hard

(6) How fun do you think the scenario is? (1-10)

- 7

(7) What, if any, are changes you would have made to the scenario to make it more fun?

- I got none to think about

perfectlyGoodInk
Posts: 5
Joined: May 28th, 2018, 7:29 pm

Re: Scenario 6: The Siege of Elensefar

Post by perfectlyGoodInk » October 29th, 2018, 4:38 am

(1) What difficulty level and version of Wesnoth have you played the scenario on?
I tried it on Medium 4 times or so and then fell back to Easy.

(2) How difficult did you find the scenario? (1-10)
10 on Medium, 7 on Easy.

(3) How clear did you find the scenario objectives?
Very clear.

(4) How clear and interesting did you find the dialog and storyline of the scenario?
It was okay. The first time I played it, I picked the sneaking in option but wasn't sure where I was supposed to go. It would've been a lot more helpful if something on the maps identified the docks he was talking about. But even in subsequent attempts, knowing where I was supposed to meet didn't really seem that helpful anyway, and one time they never showed up to give me the option until it was two turns too late.

(5) What were your major challenges in meeting the objectives of the scenario?
On medium, there's just too many tough enemies. I had Konrad, an Elven Marksman, and an Elven Hero at level 2 (plus I think that loyal guy you meet on the island). Everyone else at level 1, I think. 183 Gold on Medium was only enough to recruit about 2 groups. I tried a few strategies, mostly gathering near the bridge to try and get the enemy to engage me from the water and distract from the group sneaking in from the west with the thieves, but the attackers from the water would still often kill some of my tougher units, leaving me too few to mount the sneak attack.

In one of my attempts, the thieves showed up to present their choice way too late to be helpful. In another one, I tried asking them to ambush while I tried to fjord the west side anyway, and that of course didn't work. Then I tried having the thieves attack them from the rear and triggering this with a sacrificial scout taking a village from across the east, but the thieves didn't last more than a turn and I couldn't get my forces across in time to help them. A great deal of my frustration was that I didn't at first realize that my Level 1 shamans would be unable to cure poison attacks until my 3rd failure. I also made the mistake of starting out a couple of times with a couple of mages and a couple of shaman, but they were completely useless against the orcs. I also didn't think mermen would be useful enough to be worth recruiting because I was doubtful I could get them up to the crossing fast enough.

Maybe someone with a lot more free time could figure this out, but with two kids, trying more than 3 times for a game isn't really worth my time, so I restarted at Easy, this time starting with no mages and one shaman. It was still challenging, as I still lost all the thieves (which saddened me, as one of them looked pretty cute in the dialogs). I also lost quite a few units while attacking and killing the first leader, as the skeletons had just arrived as I surrounded him and were able to finish off the units weakened by the leader's counterattacks. But after taking the keep and recruiting/recalling a bunch of units (particularly 3 mages), it was pretty easy after that. I only lost a few more expendables.

(6) How fun do you think the scenario is? (1-10)
On Medium, 2. If I wasn't able to change difficulty, I probably would have abandoned this game, as there are just too many other things I could be doing (I took a loooong break after my first two attempts on the Island). On Easy, it was a 7. I ended up risking Konrad, getting him into the enemy village to the west of the 2nd leader's castle because I figured the Elves were pretty useless against skeletons, Mages were fragile on defense, and I didn't have enough footpads/thugs left. As I feared, they attacked him with 2 of the 3 remaining skeletons (the 3rd was out of range), and he barely survived and leveled up to 3. The leader I had whittled down to 5 HP by that time, so he surprisingly didn't try to attack. I then finished off the leader with a mage instead of Konrad, and although there was a small chance he'd do, he succeeded and leveled up to White Mage.

My 7 yo son couldn't bear to watch that ending, but he got really excited when I leveled up Konrad and particularly the Mage, as he was there when I read that they could cure. That was really most of the enjoyment.

(7) What, if any, are changes you would have made to the scenario to make it more fun?
It needs to be easier. The Island one took me 3 attempts on Medium, and I was looking forward to more of a breather after that in having all my units back, not one that was even harder and more frustrating.

Also, the sneak attack option should be more effective. Given that these are thieves and not warriors, sneaking is where they should be a lot more useful at. But even though the choice made a lot more sense, I eventually gave up on that option because flanking really isn't that useful in a game where units just don't take any time to turn to face an attacker and defend just as easily from any direction.

And there should be an easier way to keep the thieves alive. They gave me the opening I needed, but after promising them they wouldn't be slaughtered, I felt so bad that that was exactly what happened. I can't believe that's what the storyline intended given that Konrad doesn't even so much as blink after the last one dies.

josteph
Developer
Posts: 126
Joined: August 19th, 2017, 6:58 pm

Re: Scenario 6: The Siege of Elensefar

Post by josteph » October 30th, 2018, 1:24 am

perfectlyGoodInk wrote:
October 29th, 2018, 4:38 am
(4) How clear and interesting did you find the dialog and storyline of the scenario?
It was okay. The first time I played it, I picked the sneaking in option but wasn't sure where I was supposed to go. It would've been a lot more helpful if something on the maps identified the docks he was talking about. But even in subsequent attempts, knowing where I was supposed to meet didn't really seem that helpful anyway, and one time they never showed up to give me the option until it was two turns too late.
Thanks for the feedback. I just submitted a pull request that adds a "go here" marker (like in the first turn of the first scenario) to (6,32), the northernmost hex on the south bank: https://github.com/wesnoth/wesnoth/pull/3677

(Shamans can't cure poison, but if a poisoned unit starts a turn next to a shaman, poison doesn't take effect that turn. But you should really have some healers by the time you get here)

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