|David Masters / Nightwolf
A thing of beauty and joy forever... that's what your city dedicated to the Goddess of Tender Passions will be.
1024x768 4 eps, Easy
'Dedications' series 2 of 14
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Introduction: My comments from years ago are above this review, so this is obviously my second time doing this adventure. This time around, I'm a little smarter about how I do things. Blame playing the Trojan War adventure and being successful at Tenedos after changing my colony order, boy did I learn a lesson there, Tenedos is NOT a wise one to do first! Not bad for someone who didn't do more than two or three adventures and a couple of custom ones marked "Easy" last time around.
Had no real issues playing this. Quest was certainly playable, and my only concern was the balancing of the quest.
Being smarter this time around (see intro comment above), I noticed Apollo's Sanctuary lurking in the Mythology tab in episode 3. A no-brainer; with a monster on the way I hurriedly built that thing. Theseus...never needed to be called (until I was ready for his quest, that is). Hercules also had a quest to do, so the burly men still came, but were unneeded otherwise. Kinda ruins the balance, but maybe it was by design? Maybe this is why it was "easy" where without Apollo it would have been "moderate"? I dunno. I still made money; I credit taxation as we weren't selling really expensive stuff here until the final parent city episode or two (where I was selling my 16-Marble tributes to an ally). On the good side: having Apollo got the monster off my fertile island immediately; this was a good thing, I didn't have to replace any Sheep or Carrot Farms; Theseus would have ran around a bit heading over there, and damage would have been done.
Our creativity is certainly forced in housing block placement, Granary and Storage House placement, and such given the entire farming industry is in one section of the map. A lack of things to do elsewhere on the map (other than chop wood) doesn't let players be that creative, and suggests less creativity on the part of an otherwise talented quest designer. Granted, I am minding that this is of Easy difficulty. I had to remove a point for lack of sound files, too, which I added personally and will later release.
Map Design: 3
Two fields on islands. If you have to build a large city (final ep. has a population goal of 5,000 and I had about 2,300 when I discovered this - trust me, I built a LOT of Artisan Guilds to employ people!), having all of your food and fleece/oil production down there is just a hassle for housing not near that area (and I had to locate several Granaries dotted around the map until the point I had about 15 Carrot Farms, allowing sales and ample Granary stocking). There wasn't much else on the map except for timber (no Marble, Orichalc, Bronze - heck, we had to buy our Orichalc), so why not a field in the north? Give us a reason to do stuff at both sides of the map rather than putting all our housing support industries in one place and housing five miles away. It's still easy to work around this, but it's not until you have large supplies of all goods that it becomes a constant supply. Having so many water areas near rocky places also ruined the usability of the map; I had a pier way across the map on the other side of my city collecting stuff from the main production area roughly in the middle of the map. Not good.
Can't complain too much about this story - each episode introduced new story elements that seemed to tie everything together. There are usually cheeky remarks built into Nightwolf's stories that make it enjoyable (see "which doesn't explain why Hephaestus is limping" or referring to Aphrodite as the "Goddess of Fatal and Rented Passions"). Story gets top marks.
Additional Comments: I'm not as naive as last time. I found this more challenging back then (see my sheep loss). This time, it was a mix of "easy" and "where am I supposed to put this thing?" that I found less enjoyable.
This is the first of the Dedication series I've completed (still playing the Hades one), and if the other scenarios are anything like this one, I have some great city-building times ahead of me! To note, I played this scenario with the Paris colony, so my review will be biased in that regard.
The primary thing to consider is, according to the guidelines, is this adventure fun to play? My answer is an emphatic yes for Passions, being as it is an easygoing campaign with a light, humorous storyline. If there are any bugs, I didn't encounter them: the flow of events is actually better than in most of the fixed adventures, aiding me in meeting the goals for each episode instead of hindering me. I loved the little optional things you could do, and I spent a lot more time in Paris than I expected building sanctuaries and pyramids that weren't part of the main objectives. I'd definitely want to replay Passions at some point, if only for the other colony.
I don't consider myself a 'skilled' player by any means, and I know this is considered an 'easy' adventure, but I'm going to have to give a modest score here anyway. The campaign was enjoyable to play, but it's TOO easy in several spots, especially the beginning. Now that may just be my style of play in that I like to start out a new city struggling for survival. The numerous resources available to me right from the start completely eliminated that 'eke out a bare existence' feel, to the point where I was overwhelmed by everything being handed to me. However, this was offset by the geography of the parent city map, which gave me the challenge of concentrating my agriculture on or close to the southern islets. And in the Paris colony map, the wealth of resources was actually a challenge to deal with (but that's for another section). Event-wise, as I mentioned, I think you've gotten the flow and frequency just right for an 'easy' adventure. What lowers your score a little is, again, that first episode, which could've benefitted from another event/goal or two.
Honestly, I think most of the creativity issues are things I've mentioned in the previous couple sections. That's not to say this isn't a creative adventure: I think it's very much so, and it's a welcome change from the fixed scenarios like Thebes, Argos, and Atlantis that form the bulk of my Zeus/Poseidon experience. The strongest parts of this campaign are definitely the map design and the story, which I'll get to in a bit. And the sandbox feel of the first episode tends to go away in the exciting last episode (where I spent more time expanding Sappho as I did in all the previous episodes combined) and even more so in the colony. As I mentioned before, I loved that you gave us the option of doing more things than were necessary for meeting the goals in each episode. This greatly increases replayability value, as I can prioritize different things if I choose to the next time around.
Where you lose points are mostly in the resources department, not only the overabundance thereof, but that there isn't anything particularly exciting to do with them. One exception is my lumber industry, which I established far from my main city to the south - I liked having that little woodcutter/dock worker colony in the north exporting wood to Tunis. Finally, and this is just a personal nitpick, I think you could've been more creative with leader names. The city names are just fine, but creating customized leader names that reflect the culture of each city would just add that special touch. Again, this is only a personal preference.
Map Design: 5
If there's one thing that stands out in this adventure, it's the map design. The concentration of agricultural resources in the southern islands makes for an exciting logistical challenge, particularly in the last episode. As I said, that was where I did much of my expansion so I could meet the population goal, and that involved creating a second agricultural 'colony' on the eastern island. The geography itself was tricky in a fun sort of way, with few cliffs connecting the main hill to the shoreline below; conversely, there were lots of fun areas to build my monuments.
Then, there was the Paris map. I've already gushed about this colony, and really, it was a huge challenge for a 'sprawler' like me to fit almost 3000 people in those narrow valleys along the Seine. Even more of a challenge was fitting so many resources into that space, but somehow, I managed. The lack of slopes connecting the eastern hill to the riverbank was positively evil and made the colony that much more fun to play.
The 'dedication' concept was itself something original, at least in its delivery compared to the fixed campaigns. We don't have a particularly complicated storyline here, and I think some fleshing out wouldn't hurt, but you offset that with clarity, great flow, and just the right amount of fatal and rented humour. :D Really, though, there was nothing essential lacking from the story, nor anything confusing or detracting. I would've liked to see the neighbouring cities play larger roles, but that's mostly another personal preference.
This is a light, fun little adventure that I'd recommend both to beginners and skilled city-builders, showcasing some of the best features that Zeus/Poseidon has to offer.