|David Masters / Nightwolf
\"Lord Apollo has given you permission to build a new city at the old Oracle of Delphi... but only if you dedicate it to him.\"
(#3 in the 'Dedication' series)
This is the final corrected update for this adventure (pos-sunshine_superman3.zip, May 10th, 2002) -- if you have an earlier version, get rid of it.
version 2 - fixed the colony Shrine problem (added Black Marble and Orichalc to the distant cities)
version 3 - fixed the Marble and Armor problems in parent episodes 2 and 3
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Introduction: This is the third quest in the "Dedication" series, and this one is plagued by a messy storyline.
The quest starts off playing all right, if not simply extremely easy. For colonies, I chose Thera first and built up a bankroll early selling Marble and Orichalc (I purposely stuck around to sell some) and walked off with over 30,000 Drachmas. The 80 Horsemen challenge (Ep. 5) wasn't a big deal except that I didn't have a Wine colony available yet; I somehow managed to choose Thera and Erythia giving me Orichalc, Wheat, and two sources of Marble. I had to raid for my Wine for the elites - which I preferred over building more than two neighbourhoods at this point (I added a third later to accommodate 120 Horsemen). That was an interesting challenge, and without the rival producing Wine I would not have been able to finish the episode at all. But the coup de grace for me was in episode 8, after finishing one sanctuary; I moved my Guild andlocated another sanctuary, and suddenly found my game not sending my Artisan to the location (even moving it twice within the block). I eventually found out that an Artisan's Guild located as far away from the sanctuary as possible (I was placing Athena by the Growers Lodges) still sent out workers. I shook my head and ended up taking longer than otherwise needed to complete this - thanks to walking time. I can't blame Nightwolf for the engine bug; in the end, I have to put playability in the middle.
Due to some odd selling combinations, I did find balance a little difficult in Ep. 5 when I was forced to raid for my Wine (not by design I think, I just didn't choose the right colonies); if that rival didn't have Wine, I'd fail this category immediately as I wouldn't be able to finish! I also found a huge imbalance (though definitely in the player's favour!) in Episode 3, the second parent episode; if you walk in with a huge bankroll and set aside 10 Wood and 12 Fleece, off you go to the next colony without batting an eyelash (or getting the Orichalc and Marble from Thera).
A storyline element (I don't like it, per ratings below) removes Cyprus and Egypt from the map; this is a creative attempt to make you have to conquer everyone else in the world and locate another source of Black Marble for the needed Pyramid (by conquering a rival producing it). Speaking of Pyramids, their use is high, and various goods are available at different colonies; perhaps Ep. 5 would have been easier if I got a source of Wine other than my rival! You can build all four sanctuaries available to you if you so desire, and there is lots of room next to one field (the furthest west, south of your entry) to put Athena so your Growers Lodges get the benefit of another 16 Olive Trees; be warned Cerberus appears there and eats a few of them in the final episode (so you may want to plan another spot for Olives early on) and appears at the same time as another monster, so Apollo (build him immediately when you can) didn't get to him for a while. When he did, the playful puppy had also destroyed an Agora. So far in this series, I am finding Piers (no, not Morgan, the buildings) hard to place, perhaps by design but it's a challenge. This one wasn't as bad, but I still couldn't put them all where I wanted; I later found a straight patch and put a couple together.
The thing that I did find a nice challenge was the earthquake that tore through my food and wine sector in Scyros (yes, I used the field by the entrance...ooooops); this caused me to rebuild the area, but thankfully my Granary was loaded and still standing and my trading post (with 24 expensive Orichalc and some Marble from Thera) JUST survived, with the earthquake trail literally wrapping around the building.
Map Design: 5
I rarely have problems with Nightwolf's maps; they often have what they need and we can usually build whatever we need to use it. Nice timber areas on the parent map, Thera has a nice location for both Orichalc and Marble industries together, and the earthquake tearing through a fertile field was NICE, forcing us to rethink our plan. I just wish we had both types of Marble; Black Marble always seemed to be with one of the mysterious multi-discovery cities until the final episode, when a new rival produced it. However, I recognize this as part of the challenge.
I had all sorts of notes about this, but they got lost when I somehow managed to unplug my system during my Ep. 8 frustration with Artisan's Guilds (see above). From what I remember, we had Theseus freeing himself in episode 5, two trading partners that were "discovered" multiple times instead of just the one time and staying put (by the way they did not return after the final colony episode, they were permanently retired...an annoyance by the final scenario when I needed the Black Marble and I didn't realize I actually wasn't importing any!), a storyline error in episode 3 where it's possible to finish the episode instantly and thus not deal with any monster from Artemis (per my comments a few days ago), and rivals appearing without explanation during the third colony episode (episode 7), at least in my case, without explanation and suddenly demanding stuff (no explanation is given introducing them until the next episode). Too many inconsistencies to enjoy the storyline. There is some minor creativity in it (plus we are informed of the tidal wave knocking out Egypt and recently-conquered Cyprus in synchronicity), so it still gets a 2; otherwise, it's a cluttered mess.
The gameplay bug in Episode 8 almost forced me to abandon the adventure, and my ratings would have been lower. Thankfully I figured out the problem and am thus giving a fair rating. Nightwolf often has a nice story accompanying the adventure, but it was a bit lacking in explanations and weird happenings and thus affects this adventure as a whole. Still worth playing if only to have Scyros' Wheat fields destroyed; I advise get 10 farms out there immediately to clear that goal before the earthwuake hits (or use the field to the west). Also, note that this rating does not discuss Hassan, which I did not play.