My first thought was how easy this turned out to be. Now, let me unpack
this a bit because there are several factors that went into the ease of my
victory, which was pretty much a foregone conclusion at about six catapults.
The trading facilities are extremely powerful. Having received massive
gifts near the early midgame that allowed me to concentrate on military unit
production, I was easily able to fend off the raiders, even once my own
offensive raiding became of little utility. I didn't even need a full
complement of soldier types, due I think to some clever wall placements.
But I digress. The merchant cart is I think, too powerful and unbalances
the game. I'm not suggesting its removal or neutering, it's too cool, but I
think some balancing factors may need to be put in place. These could
include bandits that randomly attack and take the supplies. This would
force the merchant to send along a military escort, which would be gone as
long as the merchant and might be killed along with him or her during the
journey there and back. Having the transfer not be a sure thing and forcing
you to escort it, thus depriving yourself of military forces would balance
this out nicely.
The invaders are slow, even cavalry. I adopted the strategy of placing my
settlement near one map edge, beginning near one corner. This had the
effect of making most attacks come from very far away, giving me plenty of
time to deal with them even with under strength forces. I don't know if
they move faster on hard, but on normal, they never got even close to my
settlement, even when my settlement stretched from J6 through something like
T10 and P15. If walls do, as I suspect, act like guard towers, this is all
the more true.
It seems as though maintaining a peasant population roughly 25% of your
adult population throughout the game results in sufficient work getting
done. This means you are going to build your military slowly, but it also
means you aren't going to starve for want of people to carry food to the
Building cavalry is annoying. With 3 wheat farms in production, I had to
close both my mill and my animal farm when I wanted to raise horses. At 15
wheat per horse, it takes longer to raise cavalry than even knights, which
are the other slow type. From a realism standpoint I agree with this, but
for game balance, given the relative fragility of cavalry vs. other types,
it feels a little unbalanced.
Beware what I think is a large bug. I sent 4 rangers and 4 pikemen to
another player. I should have still had six rangers and five pikemen when
all was said and done, but I lost all of them. The other player only
received the intended reinforcements. Had this happened earlier in my game,
it would have done me in.
So now I've beaten all the missions on normal, so I'll go back and play them
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