This primarily military adventure is based upon the classical defense of the pass of Thermopylae against a Persian army. Except in this case you also have to defend against the Greek armies who would otherwise be holding the pass. Luckily neither side wants to allow the other to take the pass from you.
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The adventure is smaller than most, with only 2 episodes, but this shouldn't prevent it from being fun.
The adventure is also a test/demo of what might be done if one edits the adventure files with a hex editor, rather than just with the Poseidon editor. This means you will encounter things that you wouldn't expect to happen in a Zeus/Poseidon adventure because the editor won't allow them to be done. More details on what was done are included in the "Adventure notes.txt" file, along with a few issues that might turn up. It has been thoroughly tested, so I don't anticipate any serious bugs, but if something I didn't take into account turns up, do mention it.
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How did you manage to edit with a hex editor?
On another hand, I'm not a military episode player (primarily military that is), so can't promise to play it. Might look at the map tho.
[Edited on 07/09/11 @ 06:22 PM]
"How did you manage to edit with a hex editor?"
I'm not quite sure what you're asking here. I mean, make a copy of a .map or .set file, then use the adventure editor to change 1 thing(say, change a gift event from carrots to wheat), save it, load both versions into a hex editor, compare the two, which the hex editor does automatically, then you know exactly where the commodity data for that event is and you also know that the game uses the number 05 to represent carrots and 07 to represent wheat. Add a few more gift events and fiddle with their commodity, discover that there are 124 bytes between commodity data for successive events, so probably the data for events is 124 bytes and so on...
Or if you're asking what changes I made, I gave a fairly good description of changes in the "Adventure notes.txt" included with the file (don't want to post too many spoilers here). However, I didn't give any information as to how someone else would make similar changes to their adventure which would be much more complicated.
"On another hand, I'm not a military episode player (primarily military that is), so can't promise to play it."
Do keep in mind that this isn't another "fend off 300 triremes while waiting for the !#$#@!$ military decline events on 17 invulnerable level 6 cities". I won't bother making an adventure unless I can come up with some unique challenge or feature to make the thing interesting. I figure rather than remake the same old stuff, I can count on someone else to do it for me.
This is also a small, short adventure. 2 episodes, 5 rival cities, only 2-3 of which must be conquered and the only invulnerable city is one you never need to take. I figure a really efficient player with a really good city layout could finish the thing in 7-8 years of game time.
"Might look at the map tho."
Won't notice much that you can't see on the teaser map above. I'd suggest playing through the first year or 2 if you want a feel for how it's going to play. If you decide you don't like it, well, if you're really lucky, I might someday get around to making a less militaristic adventure. If you're even luckier I'll do something involving hex editing, rather than say structuring the thing around a map designed so that the wolves are likely to want to go through most of your buildings ("It's all fun and games till the doggies take out your palace.")
I've just started and looked at my situation. Manors are required, but there's no wine in the world. Dionysus offers his sanctuary, but there's no marble in the world.
Hmm, this should be interesting. I guess I should just leave a store open to accept gifts of marble and then see what turns up...
Edit: Scratch that. Marble is not even on the list of commodities in my storage yards. Neither is wine. Am I missing something obvious, or is the Manor requirement in Ep1 impossible?
Edit2: Okay, some marble trade will eventually open up, so the adventure isn't broken. Now I just need enough of a break between invasions that my palace can reset so I can get new troops, new immigrants, and my fleeing troops back. I think that no matter how well I marshal my units, I will be worn down to nothing (no troops and no money left for bribes). Then I'll be conquered for the second time, which means game over. It's also rather difficult to feed the city with the monthly invasions rampaging across the map killing deliveries, farms, storage yards and granaries. However, in this, my second attempt at the adventure, I have built a working, 3-agora serpentineum. I hope I can survive long enough to give it oil and evolve to townhouses (that generate more troops and taxes). I also hope I can beg enough money to build olive groves and some growers' lodges.
[Edited on 02/08/12 @ 06:00 PM]
Well, I guess I'm more of an economic player than military player. I have been utterly (doubly) defeated in two attempts at this adventure, so I give up.
The firehose of invasions (following so close together that one is not even off the map before another arrives... and another, and another). I think I suffered eleven invasions in my final tumultuous 18 months as leader at Thermopylae. At the end, I think there were two invasions from the same rival on the map at the same time. Failure to pay tribute can do that, and when tribute is set so high that even outrageous taxation on 3 housing blocks *before* expenses wouldn't pay even one of my three masters, failure is the *only* option.
I guess it's just not my cup of tea. There might be some tricky sequence of surrendering and fighting that can navigate the many enemies, but I am not enough of a masochist to figure it out. If it were up to me, I would rename this adventure "Kobayashi Maru".
And I had such a nice serpentineum built in my second go. Unfortunately, it was collapsing back to huts after invaders destroyed my granaries and wheat harvest. :(
I'll refrain from rating this adventure because other players who know more military tricks might be able to sort it out. My first recommendation: Don't play at Olympian difficulty. That's probably meant only for economic adventures, and might be why I found this one impossible.
After a year of doing other things (including some actual paying work!), I've come back to Zeus and this tough nut. Having recently played a couple other adventures, I am regaining some of the skills I had back in '03 when I was playing more often. The intense militarism in this adventure is also forcing me to hone my tactical skill beyond anything needed in prior adventures.
One necessary tactic in this scenario is to use cavalry for flanking: You absolutely need to smash enemy ranged units (bowmen) exposed at the rear. Why? Because bowmen can reach over expendable mercs to hurt your precious home rabble, which are your only local troops for the first few years. If the locals are demoralized in one fight, then they won't fight in the next, and then you're toast.
Even so, the 1st ep killed me one more time as I was trying out some ideas (and taking notes). The exercise taught me where *not* to put certain things (like maintenance offices). It's a pain to have an invading army smash a maintenance office where no replacement (or road or anything) may be built ("too close to enemy troops"). There goes the neighborhood (or industrial sector).
I made some other valuable discoveries. For instance, building enough gate houses astride route 1 will convince an invading army to wind its way through "the backdoor maze" (yes, there's a way through if you search patiently, but trees block the "road trick" from revealing it). Besides taking the enemy away from precious buildings, there are ambush opportunities back there. The downside is that such a battle can take so bloody long to play out that you're still fighting it when the next set of invasions arrives. If that happens, then your troops stay tired and your losses can't be replaced because immigration is blocked.
Without going into details, city development is a race against time. With cash and manpower stretched to the breaking point by alternately fighting and bribing (in between outright surrendering), it is imperative that you not waste cash or labor on overdevelopment. To get it right, you probably need to experiment with ep1 once or twice. On your way to perma-destruction, take careful notes on exactly how much of each thing to put where.
It looks like I could survive ep1 in my most recent attempt. My elite block has 15 houses with wine and armor flowing. However, I declined to pay tribute to one of my many masters last year (because I *never* pay tribute to any of my so-called masters), so an enemy army is just a month away... and another scheduled enemy is two months away! I'll need to survive both invasions in order for immigration to resume and reach my manor quota. Do I use my few new hoplites, or do I conserve their precious armor? Wish me luck!
The adventure notes file says, "Triremes are present basically as a way to provide employment for people between invasions..."
In between city-crushing invasions, I've been really impressed by the hacks. I'm still expecting a sea-borne invasion from a supposedly overland foe. Maybe you used the invisible shadow-city hack to hide an enemy using an alternate sea route?
Imagine, after all of those Persian land invasions reliably arriving at the same place, a 2nd-ep invasion lands Inchon-style on a beach (probably behind fortifications)!
I've only just recently explored this adventure, and wow!! Those hacks you've made with the hex editor is very impressive!
Also, how did you manage to include Sparta thinking highly of you after repelling an invasion? That one especially, was pretty neat. :)
Unfortunately, I haven't had the time to play this yet and just only scouted the map along with the many wonderful hacks you've made here. But I promise though, I will try it when I have the time. :)
So after having uni exams over and the holiday break starting (yayy!! Finally), I finally went back to Zeus and reinvigorate my joy for this game, and after browsing through Zeus heaven's download section, I finally got back to tackle this monster of an adventure, which I never had the time to try out. :)
I played this adventure on Olympian mode, and for anyone having difficulty with this adventure, I might even post my own sav file as a sort of mini-guide, if I have the time. :)
Being a player that loves the military aspect of this game, the fun factor scale went totally off the charts for me in the first episode. :P
The bizarre frequency of invasions you had to deal a few times every year, sent simultaneously from a horde of persian/egyptian cities, and the generosity of your Greek rivals giving you re-inforcements (thanks to hex editing!!) made me enjoy the episode a lot!! And not to mention, the micromanaging tasks I had to deal with during every invasion kept me busy at all times.
The strategies I had to employ were sometimes not for the faint of heart, and at many points during my playthrough, I took a lot of risks that in the end, benefited in moving the gameplay forward in both episodes alone.
In the second episode however, I did notice that there were not really many events to see or take care of, other than just invasions that were not as frequent compared to episode one, and a voluntary vassalization of one of the rivals early in the episode. The lack of events itself, kinda marred the playability score a little bit, as I found myself getting a little bored and turning off all kinds of news bar invasions, when I decided to maximize my armor stores to complete episode 2's objectives.
So in this category, a 4 would suffice, imo.
The balance in this adventure was well-crafted and taken care of beautifully. In the start, you are given some ample funds, more than needed to build your first housing block, but don't be fooled by this. You also need to wisely use these funds to build defenses that can destroy whatever opposition is hurled at you from the first year alone. But don't rush, for in the beginning, you must create a city housing block, at breakneck speed, such that you should at least have some tenements ready by the first year alone. Fortunately, your rival Greeks will aid you in this endeavor, by providing you some of the necessities needed to quickly build up your rabble army and prepare for the first invasion.
As you quickly buffer up your defenses with towers and walls, you finally encounter the first wave of persians and egyptians in the first year or so, and you are given a choice of surrendering or fighting the invasion force, but in this case, you must make wise choices to ensure you at least, survive for the next year, so tactical foresight is needed. Unfortunately, you will figure out that no matter what tactics you employ in this invasion, the enemy will still, be too great a number to fight. Fortunately, you have a couple more things to aid you: A choke point which gives you an advantage if you placed a lot of towers to defend this spot, and re-inforcements from Athens and Sparta. However, even with this, you still need your rabble force you built up asap in the first year to aid these advantages, as well as the tower defense you built up with your remaining funds.
This however, gives you another choice: How much employment do you want to risk to man the rabble force and the towers? Suffice to say, you must balance these factors during every invasion to ensure that (1) your defense is adequate enough to repel the invading horde and (2) your housing blocks will not cripple and devolve, which may internally damage your rabble. Another factor to consider is that your wheat/fleece/olive supplies are stationed dangerously near to the invading hordes, so you must ensure they will not be destroyed by the persians, the egyptians or the greeks (yes, even the Greeks will attack you!!).
These factors (as well as other factors I won't bother to put up in this review, since it's already too long) bequeathed life to this adventure and contributed a lot of elements, such that juggling these elements kept you busy and concerned at all times, contributing further to the game's playability and balance.
In the second episode, some things change: You will no longer receive help, Sparta will gladly disappear off the map, and Athens will side with you. This time however, you are now expected to conquer your rivals - give them a bit of karma. But fortunately, one of your rivals will voluntarily become vassalized, and with this in hand, you now have 2 potential friends that will aid you in this expedition, further ensuring balance is maintained, but still requiring wise use of what you have at your disposal to win the 2nd episode.
Regarding the above-mentioned, it is clearly evident that the author has given balance a lot of thought and has thankfully succeeded, during the realization of this adventure. So full marks suffice in this category.
As expected of an adventure crafted by a hex editing software, creativity should be implored, especially with one that is designed to demonstrate the features and advantages of using such a thing to craft an adventure, and this adventure does its job very well.
A lot of things that were deemed to be impossible in Zeus' adventure editor, has been featured in this adventure and proved possible with a hex editor. Many times, I've been surprised at the sheer amount of things not seen before in other adventures, and many times, I've wondered how you achieved such things.
The fact that you sought for unique ideas and explored the hex editor to undertake such a feat, clearly demonstrates creativity, especially seeing the finished adventure, as the result of all of this; a category that deserves a 5 in this regard.
Map Design: 4
The map was beautifully designed, to cater well to the true actual map of what Thermopylai may have looked like, as well as giving players a suitable challenge. Heck, we also have another thing you'd not normally see: An exit point in the middle of the map, which thanks to hex editing, is very much possible to do for a Zeus adventure. However, the secret path leading to the "backdoor maze" mentioned by JRFisher above, could've been designed a little bit better and paid more attention to, in detail, imo.
The story was a little disappointing for my taste. It was quite sparse, and doesn't give much storyline for thought, but with respect to this adventure, it gets the job done nonetheless.
A readme file was also provided, giving clear instructions on what file to move; since this is an adventure crafted by hex editing, its peculiarities does indeed, show. The file also explains the adventure's features, certain nuisances of the editor, and what was modified during the creation of this adventure. However, it would also be nice if it gave some insight to fellow designers by giving them a brief guide on how to do the changes implemented in this adventure.
It's an adventure designed from hex editing after all, so why not share some of your discoveries and know-how's, rather than just leave it in some imaginary dust, never to be explored by other designers at all?
As one who finished this adventure, I wholeheartedly recommend it to players who enjoy military challenges in Zeus, and to those who have decade-long experience playing this game, such as I. :)
Not for the novice, or intermediate though. They would rage-quit before getting to the 2nd year alone. :)
[Edited on 08/15/17 @ 09:27 PM]
Just feel like I wanted to share some of my notes and what I did to finish the adventure in Olympian mode - hope DerangedDuck won't kill me though.
- Use the first year of your playthrough in episode 1 wisely, and advance your first housing block into tenements very quickly. You will gain a little help from your southern Greek fellows, so use that to your advantage.
- Don't put your palace close to your housing block or your industries. In fact, put it far away to ensure that enemies would not go around causing havoc to your neighbourhood. Also, ensure that both your housing block and industries are further away from the chokepoints.
- Before the first invasion occurs, exploit that central chokepoint to your advantage, by building towers there to support your defense.
- Try to ensure that enemies will not harm your meadow-industries (wheat, oil, fleece etc) by walling it away from their path and exploiting that hidden pathway to the west, as a means to get your workers to walk through it, during an invasion.
- Ensure that you always have spare labour that will provide you a solid defense force without having to expend your food/fleece/oil workforce. Get them to a bronze/armor industry for instance, which you can just close down the industry when an invasion occurs.
- Help will always arrive almost 9 times out of 10, and when that happens, you will get hoplites and horsemen, as well as rabble. Hoplites are very useful and can act as living walls that can halt enemy movements so that towers can hit them accurately. You can use Cavalry in reserve, in case it looks like the enemy has succeeded in breaking through your defense. Mercenary rabble can be put into the front lines just behind your mercenary hoplites, so that you'll suffer less casualties on your own rabble defense.
- If you could spare some extra towers on the lateral sides of the hill, do it and build there. Not only will it give more ample firepower in your benefit, but will always give enemy archers a distraction most of the time, so that they won't be able to hit your main defense force stationed at the chokepoint.
- If you don't want to lose money in the beginning building roads to attach the palace to the towers, use the "can't build on breeding grounds" trick for the roads so that you will not waste a single drachma on building long roads.
- To conquer the remaining two cities, make sure you have more than enough armor to replace your lost soldiers when you start the attempt to conquer. I had 4 storehouses full of it at one time. Also, don't bother waiting for a military decline. It won't come.
- As soon as you get military aid from one of the cities in your conquering attempt, buffer them with sculpture (since it's very valuable) or drachmas so that you can ask for military aid again and again. This is just common knowledge though, but I'll put it in here just in case someone else gets stuck.
Well, those are most of my notes. Hope they could prove useful to someone else playing this adventure though, if they find it too difficult.
[Edited on 12/22/17 @ 02:41 PM]