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Hammer of the North

Discussion in 'Civ2 - Scenario Creation' started by Morten Blaabjerg, Mar 3, 2019.

  1. Morten Blaabjerg

    Morten Blaabjerg Settler

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    Hi everyone!

    As you may know I was once a very active contributor to this community, some 15-20 years ago - the last 15 years not so much so. Working, buying a home, raising two kids - life is very different today than it was back then, when I was a student and had lots of time on my hands to work on my various projects, not to mention play Civilization in all it's incarnations and scenarios :)

    Last year I quit my job - for many reasons. But I've been increasingly drawn back to games, and now, in particular, game design. I want to design board games.

    Creating scenarios for Civilization II - researching, writing, working out the rules, playtesting, creating the iconography, graphics and sound effects, adjusting everything, nights after nights of making adjustments based on how the AI reacted to all the ideas - all this was very much what I consider my real education in game design. Yes, I've made games in the 1980'es as a young kid, programming my Amstrad CPC 464 and had a blast, and I've created roleplaying game scenarios and campaigns and have made board game prototypes. But what I learned the most from, and also take the greatest pride in, are the scenarios I made for Civilization II.

    One of the most popular scenarios I made back then was also my first - a scenario on the history of the viking age - Hammer of the North, which was made in two versions, the first, for classic Civilization II, simply because I didn't have the Multiplayer Gold Edition, which had an events-file. I didn't know anything about events. The second (current) version was a completely revamped version for MGE (and now converted to ToT too!) wtih a new map, new graphics, sounds, tech tree and almost everything else.

    badomens2.gif

    The basic idea behind the scenario was first and foremost to tell the history of the viking age as a history of two cultures. One pagan, with far-reaching ships and strong warriors, but fragmented and "structually" weak at the beginning of the scenario. The other christian, and vulnerable against attacks from the seaside, but with the potential (via strong ties to the church among other things), for faster growth and more advanced tecnologies. The vikings would be left behind growth & technology-wise in the long run, but could choose either to "convert" to christianity at some point to enjoy all the benefits, after they've carved out their empire, but in the process lose their heathen advantages, including the fearsome "Hammer" unit, which was really a nuke unit, but which was also very expensive to build.

    Second, I wanted to convey the history of the rise of feudalism as an effective way to organize medieval society, which emerged, among other things, as a response to the viking attacks, especially in England.

    These ideas still fascinate me, and I want to create a board game based on these very ideas. Of course it will be something very different from the CivII scenario, but be built on the same premises, with some of the core ideas guiding the design process, and with the aim to convey the same theme and basically the same dynamics. I still miss a very good board game on the viking age, despite the fact that there has been made a few, and I think this can work well as the premise for the game.

    Now, the scenario "Hammer of the North" for CivII was quite well received. Fellow scenario creators and active members of our community JValdezToo and Exile have praised the two versions of the scenario, respectively, and given it good reviews. And it seems to have been played quite a lot too.

    I don't have the numbers anymore, but AFAIR, the scenario was downloaded quite a few times. Alone from "The Polish Civilization site" it had a double digit in thousands of downloads (can't remember how many, just that I was amazed at seeing the numbers). I estimate somewhat cautiously, and without any numbers to back that up, that the scenario, if the Polish numbers pan out, was downloaded perhaps some 50.000+ times globally, at the very least, from the various sites that hosted it. (Would be very interesting if anyone has actual numbers from back then!)

    I plan to do a kickstarter for the board game at some time in the future. To do that I plan to mobilize all that I can, that I have left of my street credit, everywhere I can, including this community, if I can. My impression is that this forum is alive and well, even after all these years, and even though many probably have left to do other things. I can see from my last visit there are still some oldtimers left (which I was very pleased to see!) as well as a lot of new active users.

    What I would really like to ask is this : IF you are one of those who have played this scenario back in the day or more recently (or other of my scenarios), I would be most grateful if you could spill just a few sentences in this thread on it's execution & awesomeness. In other words : what do you think of it, what works, why is it any fun? If you're so inclined, it would also be very helpful to have some words put on myself, as a member of this community, if you knew me back then and have an impression you'd like to give on my credibility & creative powers :)

    Some of your words may go into the efforts I will launch to get the new board game project off the ground, as "quotes" on the KS page or in a video for the same effort.

    Thank you very much in advance!
     
  2. Morten Blaabjerg

    Morten Blaabjerg Settler

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    Here's JValdezToo's recommendation for the first version of the scenarie - all the way back in 2001 :-o

    “I’ve played a lot of Civ II scenarios to say the least, and I think I have quite a handle on some of the interests of players and designers. If a designer were to ask me if events were important, I would tell them, “…only if you want to share it.” Still, Blaabjerg defies this principle with HAMMER OF THE NORTH v1.2 and creates a scenario of aesthetic graphic quality and redefines the working axiom of the modpack to be suitable for all versions of Civ II. A designer must be credited for such an accomplishment, especially when the scenario is historical. Extreme care was obviously exercised in this superior release of the account of Vikings raiding Europe. Morten builds an atmosphere that takes to the age of Vikings and holds you there until you’ve finished the scenario! Written for Classic Civ II, it will be a classic scenario to play over and over again. Many thanks to Morten for his fine work!”

    -- JOHN VALDEZ

    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1AMJlSmTUriAn4v3BnV1XCT-3DZgwW4oAP1KsLVT4ed8/edit?usp=sharing
     
  3. Morten Blaabjerg

    Morten Blaabjerg Settler

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    And long standing forum member & fellow scenario designer & historian Exile's review of the second (MGE) version (from 2007) :

    "Hammer is a recreation of the Viking Age, starting with the Lindisfarne raid and ending at the beginning of the high medieval period. This scenario was Morten Blaabjerg's first, but this version has been extensively reworked, to good cause, and is a very wide-open game.

    The civs are; Danes, Norse, Germans, Franks, Frisians, Anglo-Saxons, and Scots/Irish. This choice is curious, and I wonder why the Frisians were selected over the more obvious choice of the Swedes. Beyond that, this scenario is engaging and fun to play as almost any civ, with the exception of the Scots/Irish and Anglo-Saxons, who seem to be the objects of most of the game's aggressive military action (at least initially). The prime civs are, of course, the Danes and Norse, and both of these can begin to expand by conquest, establish new towns, and conduct exploration, all right from the very first turn. A very fluid situation exists, again from the opening turn, and any number of strategic options present themselves. Should one eliminate the other viking states as a prelude to more profound conquests? Is colonization of remote regions like Iceland, Jamtland, and Russia advisable? The British Isles are very vulnerable in the beginning, and Morten has set things up so that it's virtually inevitable that the Danes carve out an empire there. Raiding is an integral element of the game. Killing enemy settler units generates cash event rewards, and viking units appear via events both in the British Isles and on the French coastlands. Many of the viking units are amphibious, making naval action even more advisable.

    Morten uses very strong barbarian & player civ units to channel conquest into certain areas and to preserve impregnable fortresses for some civs. The unit mix is good, and includes a number of types, mostly infantry, with varying abilities and hit points, but also contains the very strong viking Drakkar longship unit. As the scenario progresses, however, some of the powerful viking units become obsolete and the foes of the vikings acquire more powerful units.

    Fearless in the face of history, the author has added several fantasy elements into the scenario. These actually work well, and do not detract from the overall feel of the world of the viking conquests. There are giants in the game, and they will appear very occasionally in remote regions, although, in one instance, a goody hut provided one. There is also the Prince/King/sword-in-the-stone trick. Not very often, a Prince unit is event-generated to each of the civs. This unit, though very powerful, is a destroyed-after-attack unit. Scattered around the map are sword-in-the-stone units, too powerful to be killed by producible units, but CAN be killed by the Prince units. When this happens, a King unit is generated in the civ's capital city, which is even more powerful than the Prince unit, and does not vanish after attacking. There are also Hero units, event-generated at long intervals, that are powerful, though not as powerful as Kings. The most powerful fantasy element is tech-driven. It is the Hammer/Nuke, and requires several techs to reach, costs quite a bit to produce, and is rapidly obsoleted, sometimes quite unintentionally.

    This scenario is very enjoyable to play, primarily because so many options exist for the viking players, though playing as the other civs can also be fun. The fantasy elements add both atmosphere and humor to the game, and the units, techs, icons, and wonders all fit very well.

    The problems with this scenario are minimal, if indeed, these are not simply matters of taste, difficulty level, and mastery of the game. The tech seems to come too fast, and a SLIGHTLY higher paradigm might ease this. In Britain, with AI-run Anglo-Saxons and Danes, Danish event-delivered units flood the map. This is the result of a very low "random" number in the event. If this proves undesirable, simply incrementally increasing this number should fix it. Although I like the units file, I do feel like this game could truly shine with a Garethization."

    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Q3plLj5h_d0Vem2973U0veJZCAHT7MZzOg2Mh9M_dyk/edit?usp=sharing
     
  4. Patine

    Patine Warlord

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    @Morten Blaabjerg Sorry for the late response. I hope you're still watching this. Although I never did get a good try at this in it's original version, is this ToT version functionally complete? I would like to give it a try. Unless I'm missing something, I can't find a link, if there is one. It sounds like a very interesting premise.
     
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  5. Morten Blaabjerg

    Morten Blaabjerg Settler

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    No reason to apologize. I'm not a frequent guest around here myself! :)
    There should be a download link here : https://forums.civfanatics.com/resources/hammer-of-the-north-v2-9-for-test-of-time.12466/

    It seems to work for people. Can't speak for the ToT version myself as I never got around to making the switch from MGE :-D
    Played a couple of games of the MGE version a few months ago - and of course found a lot of things that could be improved !! But still managed to get immersed by it and tried out a new strategy... Not sure it makes a lot of sense making changes to it at this point - moving ahead with the board game version instead! :)
     
  6. Patine

    Patine Warlord

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    Got it. I'll give it a try soon! :p
     
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  7. Morten Blaabjerg

    Morten Blaabjerg Settler

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    Cool. For inspiration, one interesting strategy is to prioritize taking the long road to Kiev, because the wonder there "Road to Byzantium" gives ships extra movement, IIRC. One of the rivers leading into the southern east Baltic Sea should be almost fully sailable, as long as you bribe/defeat the strong barbarian Warlords there (I prefer bribing), and bring a few settlers from home to settle the last spots to make it possible for ships to go all the way. Then take all those new Warlord allies to the battle in the west! (I like going after the Frisians :-D)

    There's a similar benefit to being first in Iceland and getting the wonder "Viking Discoveries" there.

    Taking Uppsala is also usually worth it (one way or another), as it gives you an ally with unusual powers which can be used to explore the map and pop a lot of huts :-D

    Trying to implement stuff like this in the board game as well to incentivize exploration and rewarding reaching the farthest away corners of the map/board.
     

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