The Eagle Standard
Yes, that's right, we're back. Like the new banner? Courtesy of Romanus Invictus (now known as Anneus). Well, it may not be the most spectacular resurrection ever, but I blame that on mass desertion. Well, no, I kid.
During last month's hiatus, we've lost 3-4 of our writers. Hex Khan was unfortunately swept away at sea by "real life", while I've had no contact with neither Plutarch (Comte de Laconia), selenius4tsd, Titus, Ippius, nor dad_savage. We currently have only three writers: myself, Sir Dinadan, and Gaius Baltar. We are severely understaffed, and I'm afraid that if this continues then we'll have to cut down on the Eagle Standard releases. So, I guess I'll take the to say, no, plead with every one of you: please, I'm beggin' ya, help us out if you can. You can either join the Eagle Standard team as a full-time member (which would be freaking awesome), or you could be just a part-time member, submitting an interview to me now and then. Either way, if you're interested, please either post here or PM me.
Anyway, on with the issue. For our first issue of the new Volume, we've got an interview with Zephrelial of
Clouds Across Europe
, the third part to my "
Sons of Drest" MTW AAR
, and a
from the missing dad_savage
Bulgaroctonus interview leader of the Medieval 2: Total War mod Clouds Across Europe, Zephrelial
How long have you been in modding?
Before I've tried some modding about the games Elder Scrolls IV:Oblivion and Temple of Elemental Evil. My modding adventure here in TWC started in December 27, 2006 a few days before the new year when I decided to share with the community my first mod for MTW2 "Eras and General" mod. Although I have played Medieval 1 and RTW, RTW-BI and Alexander, I haven't tried modding them. This is perhaps I am more fascinated by the medieval era rather than the ancient era of history.
Q:Can you tell me a bit about yourself?
I'm 26 years old,single,I live in Turkey,Istanbul and am Turkish.Speaking of Ethnicity I have Greek, Kyptoi, Cerketz, Albanian, Arabic, andTurkoman lineage and blood due to some research of the forefathers of my family. I speak English,and a bit of German and Russian (I can read and write in
Cyrillic alphabet). Graduated from the university under the branch of Public Relations and advertising, completed my compulsory military duty as a gendarmes sergeant(the gendarmes division in turkey of course is not the French Gendarmes cavalry, although I wish it were ) Currently I'm running an infant export-import trade co. called Jenit. My main interests are theology,history,psychology and literature. My current greatest hobby is modding. I define myself as an introverted person,who sometimes incline towards melancholy.
Also I was a gamer as far as I can remember. Luckily I was born into the era when the game industry was being born, I remember playing Amistad. Before I had Commodore 64, and Amiga 500 as computers. I think it's really unbelievable for one to witness all the evolution of the gaming industries. If I had seen a game like MTW2 when I was 10, I would probably have had a heart attack and died. I remember while I was 11, when we were buying new games with our friends,the first question we asked to the sales person was:"Are the graphics nice?" This was really important back then. But now thats not even an issue,from my point of view. I'm the kind of a person that analyzes everything, I played a lot of good games, and always said to myself, "This is a great game, but it would be perfect if they added this or that". So modding gives one an option to realize one's dreams about a game, provided that there is knowledge, ideas and skill.
Could you give me a summary of your mod, Clouds Across Europe, as a whole?
Clouds Across Europe is a mod that has the basic aim and priority of enhancement.To implement more and more content is of utmost importance. While achieving that not to disturb the original game mechanics and balance is also essential. Secondly,the historical accuracy is often sought personally even in a game when the material is heavily history-related, I can't just think of it apart from it, as in this case in mtw2. It doesn't take out anything out of the vanilla,just adds. The reason for it is that I personally dislike for a feature to be taken out of a game, so a mod should not aim to do that. The current released latest version offers the player more content such as new factions, new units,and a system that enables the player to enjoy the game according to the Early, High and Late periods of the game.
The new factions are made in detail as possible,in terms of unitcards, textures, banners and long unit and faction campaign+unit descriptions.There are also other features such as the visual distinction of militia and professional based units for certain factions. Also there are princesses for the Islamic factions.
Q:What special features are there in Clouds Across Europe that you think set it apart from other mods? Which of these features is your favourite?
Well, as people get a hold of modding mtw2 more and there are usually standardized stuff that are demanded by people, the mods give or take having the same features like adding new factions, regions, even making the same balance tweaks. However,there are some features of certain mods that set them apart from others. CAE is a mod that basically uses features that enhances, adds something to it in a way. For that I could say for CAE is the feature of Eras. The appearance of the units according to the 3 medieval eras. As we know in the vanilla there are some faction strengths and weaknesses that are displayed to the player in the faction selection screen: "lacks heavy infantry in the Early Period" for instance. This is never realised unless there is a script that arranges the availability of units according to the turn/year of campaign. Some people mentioned to me that seeing the late period units like Lancers,or landschneckt at early dates such as 1130 or 1160 kills off the joy and the flavour for one that aims for historical enjoyment. The Eras feature is my favourite feature in CAE
Apart from that there is a feature of uniform (texture-based) distinction of militia based and professional based units. For now it is valid for 3 factions, and is aimed to be applied for more factions in the upcoming releases. The feature gives the player that plays with a certain faction, (example England) more uniform availability, and enables them (when the restricted camera option is ticked) to spot some units to be whether militia-based, or professional just by looking at their uniforms. CAE also features the Order of the Dragon as a guild, that is available to HRE faction. One of the other feature that are not in other mods is the eastern princesses. Basically the Islamic factions have now princesses.They have their own strat models and portraits. That way the Islamic faction players also have the chance to use princesses just like the catholic factions. This I think adds a default feature of vanilla mtw2, to the Islamic faction players and factions. A similar feature is that the Orthodox factions have the Patriarch. For now,it doesn't act like the pope, has a nice strat model, and acts as a high level priest; some scripts have been done for the Russians to have patriarch too. Based on their piety, their Bishops become Patriarch. In the future, missions could be added to make the patriarch seem more like a true counterpart of the Pope.
These features are not in the other mods.The new factions that CAE adds had also been carefully planned in terms of banner and colour design with detailed and historical descriptions. But I'm not so arrogant to say that the new factions of CAE are the best. This depends on one's expectations and tastes. One may like the Teutonic Order and may want to see it in a mod. And the other might want Burgundy to be featured.
Is CAE based more on gameplay than historical accuracy, accuracy more than gameplay, or the perfect combination of the two?
Well, I would answer that as a balanced combination of the two, to be honest I'm taking out the word "perfect" since the concept of perfection is a rarity that can not be achieved easily, not just in CAE or any other mod out there, as well as life itself. I sincerely believe that in such a game actually gameplay is related with historical accuracy, or being based on history. A good example would be the vanilla's "Mongol Invasion" event that actually features quite near to the actual Mongol invasion of history. It totally effects the gameplay and puts up a decent challenge. In CAE, inspired by this and by any another historical fact, the invasions of Turks of Eastern Europe will be featured.
We could say though that it is a combination of both gameplay and historical elements. I can comfortably claim with clear conscious that in nearly every aspect of CAE, even seems ahistorical, there is a historical reality, and I try to pay attention to historical details or characters,units etc. As an example,there is detailed information about the new factions that totally describes and is based on the historical facts as well as their starting positions and situations of the time. I think it is beneficial for one who has interest in history while playing the mod one may learn a few things about history as well. In the Order of the Dragon's guild description I gave info about the founder of the Order, its leader Zgysmund, and some additional info about Order of the Dragon's aims and customs all based on historical reality. The vanilla descriptions, in my opinion, are kind of vague and insufficient at times. By that I'm referring to unit descriptions, guild descriptions, not to mention the banners and symbols of factions.
In the content of CAE one may find more detailed historical info, or based on historical facts which may also effects the gameplay and game balance.I am trying to not to overexaggerate the historical events and powers of the factions, and not to be tempted by that because the results might effect gameplay drastically. As I said before, there isn't 100 percent historical accuracy. At the start of the game KhwarezmShah wasn't established. But we see Muhammed as its faction leader and his son Jelaladdin as his heir. In history at least a century and a half should have passed to witness the birth of these characters. However one may realize, when viewing the traits of both leaders and may wonder why Muhammad has traits regarding dread based on cruelty, and they might remember that during his reign certain rebellions in Buhara and other cities were quelled in quite a bloody fashion.
A good example in my opinion would be the faction Milan. As most mtw2 players know, usually in campaigns this faction prevails and more importantly often becomes a superpower in late game. When we evaluate this from the historical point of view, Milan was a rich city-state often was constantly left in strifes between HRE and France, as in the Battle of Pavia, or by attracting the attention of greater powers. But to implement this in the mod totally as complete historical accuracy would be folly, as in terms of gameplay the factions should be given their chance to perform as they can.
Another issue was debated in some forums whether to feature Islamic princesses was historical or ahistorical. Personally, I'll be honest about it that I think it's not historical. But it adds to the gameplay and narrows the gap between the catholic and Islamic factions, in terms of choices of gameplay. And I found out that there are some players that don't play with the Islamic factions just because they don't have princesses. So at that point, I've favoured gameplay over historical accuracy and believe I did the right thing.
Do you think that any one faction is easier to play than the other? Which ones?
Each faction has their advantages and disadvantages, and I believe this also relies on the playing style and unit type-dependancy/preferance of the player as well. It may be easy for one to make good use of heavy cavalry and horsearchers, at that point Khwarezm is a better choice for such a player. Another might find comfort to rely heavily on solid heavy infantry,
and the dismounted knight roster and attributes of Jerusalem could easily contribute to that player's game success. For another one,the religious battles between,the Islamic, Orthodox and catholic factions could be annoying and difficult to cope with.That player would probably choose the Teutonic Order, since it's position in Prussia, Thorn surrounded by other Catholic factions, that there won't be much opposite religion agents that will try to convert their population. Finally, if the player that doesn't want to spend time in building up economical upgrades, they might again choose Khwarezm since by default it has superior economy.
So in general,I must say that this issue is quite relative.
What is your favourite faction to play, and why?
To answer that question by the vanilla is hard quite hard, since nearly all the factions has a different flavour and purpose of playing.Byzantium gives me the feeling of trying to survive, and save the empire from decline and I kind of roleplay it in that way and enjoy it. Meanwhile, I favour HRE for giving me the aim of being a super and absolute power in Central Europe. A will to make submit other European powers to the Kaiser's will. The Egyptians are another favourite faction of mine, trying to impede the Crusades again makes it one of my other favourites. I was nearly forgetting the Mongols, they are also candidates for being my favourite. Playing as the Mongols gives even a turtle-typed player like me the urge to conquer the Whole known World.
My apologies for being undecided on this issue for vanilla but in terms of CAE my favourite one is the Teutonic Order. Firstly, I always had that "thing" for the Teutons, and I'm not sure why. Secondly, historically the status of them being a half monetary military/state hybrid faction always attracted me. And lastly, I find their knights fierce and imposing, if I'd ever wanted to be a Knight, I'd choose to be a Teutonic Knight.
What would say is Clouds Across Europe's tagline?
Clouds Across Europe is gathering on your screen, a desert wind from the East and a Blizzard from the West, the blood and toils of history are revealed, better your foes in this test, may the victory goes to the best...
If you could describe CAE in ten words, how would you describe it?
Clouds Across Europe is a journey that revives the Past...
Thank you very much for the interview Zephrelial.
No no, the pleasure is all mine.
And now, screenshots courtesy of Clouds Across Europe!
Make sure to check out Clouds Across Europe's forums HERE at TWC!
Thinking of Downloading Clouds Across Europe? Well and get to downloading! CLICK HERE
This is Bulgaroctonus, reporting out.
After Action Report
Sons of Drest
Parts I and II of "Sons of Drest" found
HERE and HERE Part III
King Fergus I
Fergus I lost no time trying to finish of the Irish, once and for all. In 866, a year after his coronation, he invaded Munster with an army numbering 4,500 men, and met the Irish High King, Niall III, who led more than 7,000 men, in battle. The Irish army was composed largely of light kerns, and Fergus thought that it would be an easy victory. However, he underestimated the Irish resolve, and was closely defeated, inflicting 5,000 casualties and taking 700 prisoners, losing a little less than 4,000 men.
It was a bloody battle, and it looked like the Irish War would drag on forever. But Fortune smiled on Fergus the next year, when High King Niall III died from an illness (probably from injuries sustained during the battle of Munster). With their kingdom leaderless, southern Eire disintegrated into many small, petty principalities. Now was the chance to put this war to an end. In 870, after raising an army, Fergus invaded Munster and took it. He then suppressed a large Irish revolt in the south, and it looked as though peace had arrived.
It was not to be so: in 879 the Picts in Alba invaded Sci, and war broke out in the highlands. Sci was regained the following year by Fergus, who had quickly sailed from Eire to Scotland, who then went on to take Fib. For five years there was a stalemate, and then Fergus invaded Moray, but was forced to retreat after a relieving Pictish army was sent in. In turn, he took Athfotla, Monoth and Moray in the next 4 years. By the end of 898, King Fergus I was dead. He had been ailing for quite some time, and was succeeded by his son, Constantine.
King Constantine I
At the death of Fergus I, there was a large rebellion in Eire, primarily in the province of Laigin. It was successful, and the Irish League was formed. Eire was once again disunited, however the unification would have to wait, for Constantine I had more pressing issue. The war with the Picts had wound down, and led to a ceasefire in 901. The following, civil war broke out for the second time in 60 years. The rebel forces boasted more than 10,000 troops, and were led by Argal of Carnavarane and Constantine’s half brother, Prince Duncan. The rebels had gained control of much of northern Scotland, though Eire was still in royal hands. The Royal army still numbered around 18,000 men, and for the next 6 years Constantine constantly campaigned against the rebels. This constant warfare seriously deteriorated his health, and he died in 908. He was succeeded by his only son, Alpin, who was 17 years old at the time. During his reign, Alpin II would achieve the unification of both Eire and the North.
To be continued...
I started a Polish campaign a while back and have been playing solidly. Their starting position is balls, and poor, and you spend a long time consolidating before you can really start rolling up any other factions, but damn. Their unit roster is really something. And, in the manner I like to do, I'm going to long-windedly go over their lineup through the ages.
The game claims their infantry is mediocre, but in reality it's only weak in the middle period. Consider this, if the standard early game infantry lineup is Sergeant Spears and Armoured Sergeants (HRE, France, Milan, Venice, Sicily) then Poland actually one-ups them. Their Spearmen and Dismounted Polish Nobles are comparable to Sergeants and Armoured Sergeants, but they also receive Woodsmen. Granted Woodsmen have sod all defense, but they're dirt cheap, have a decent AP attack, move fairly quickly and are available in large numbers.
In the middle game nothing changes regarding their infantry, and so they suffer here, but their end tech-level infantry are back up to par as Dismounted Polish Knights are as good as Dismounted Chivalrics and their militia infantry (Halberds) are standard stuff, they get the job done.
Their infantry is effective and a little more fun than the standard Western European stuff in the early game, a bit of a slog as things move up in tech level (you really don't have a blade to blade counter to things like D. Feudal Knights when they start appearing) and serviceable, albeit a little one-note in the late game.
Imho, it's not infantry where Poland falls down but archers however they do well in the early game. Although their early archers seem bad, five ranged attack and reasonable melee abilities (for a basic archer, mind, so nothing special) but they can plant stakes, which is fantastic as unless you're something like seventy turns in playing Turks, renting expensive late-game mercenaries, or England stakes are simply not on the cards. Stakes are just so damn good you'll probably be building these guys long into the game. I did, and they never really let me down.
In the middle game though, just as with their infantry, their archers take a dive. You simply don't get anything. Unless you want to use Crossbow Militia (a little better than the Western kind, but nothing special) which I'll admit can be effective simply for packing good firepower, but they're hardly a reasonable alternative to a high attack archer or pavise crossbow unit.
By the late game you can get dismounted Lithuanian archers, but they're not much of a unit. Their stats are hybrid-ish, similar to Venetian archers but with a lower ranged attack; these guys are nothing special, and they don't deserve their Citadel-level training requirement. Still they're there if you feel inclined to use them.
So all in all Poland's archers are not so good, but on the bright side they get stakes right off the bat, and anyone used to stakes knows that no matter how bad the Archer using them is, the stakes themselves are always worth having, regardless of game period.
This is for everyone who thinks France, the HRE or Spain has good cavalry. Poland kicks their ass. Consider Jinetes, for example, they rock yes? Let's compare them with Polish Nobles.
Jinetes: Attack 9 (Charge 3) Defence 15 Missile 8 (AP) Morale 5
Polish Nobles: Attack 11 (Charge 4) Defense 17 Missile 10 (AP) Morale 9
Not bad? Polish Nobles aren't a late game unit either. They're on the same level as mailed knights, who they can beat up without throwing a single javelin.
Of course, that's not all. Everyone likes mounted crossbowmen, right? I mean, what's not to like, they're basically AP horse archers. Well, Strzelcy are better. Same missile and melee attack, but with two more defense. I know that doesn't seem like a big deal, but the killer is you can't build mounted crossbows until you have a citadel. Strzelcy come out at the same time as other factions get mounted Sergeants.
Getting Strzelcy and Polish Nobles in the very early game ensures undisputed cavalry dominance over any faction.
Your next unit to roll off the line, coming out at the same time as Feudal Knights, are Polish Retainers. First up I should let you know this unit is dirt cheap as far as upkeep is concerned. A mere 175, equal to Mounted Sergeants and for that you get a unit with almost identical stats to Gendarmes. As a note, in addition, Polish Retainers have the most powerful charge of any cavalry unit available at their tech level. The only drawback is their recruitment pool fills very slowly.
Now, in the late game, your cavalry dominance isn't quite as undisputed but still only a few factions can compete, and nobody can completely outclass. Polish Guard are the best heavy cavalry unit in the game, point-blank. Their stats are not beaten by anything, and I'm not just talking about their in-game counters but everything; charge, mass, armor, secondary armor, attack, morale and secondary attack. They are superior to both Lancers and Gothic Knights however testing is currently skewed due to the shield bug. Nevertheless they are an impressive unit.
Of course that's not all you get. There's also Polish Knights, equal to the Chivalric Knights of any Western faction, and Hussars, arguably the best light cavalry in the game (I personally prefer Stradiots but Hussars are better chargers) they even get a conventional horse archer (Lithuanian Cavalry) which, while not a particularly good horse archer for its period, rounds out their cavalry roster nicely.
Poland's cavalry, in addition, has one thing that makes it the most enviable and the most flexible. It has staying power. Even their very earliest cavalry units retain a high degree of usefulness right through the game. A single unit of Polish Nobles, a tier one unit, can (using Javelins) completely devastate any unit of opposing heavy cavalry at any period. From Mailed Knights to Khan's Guard. Now for light cavalry, there isn't much that can catch them and hope to win a melee fight.
Picture of the Week
Well, after a very rough start to the new and "improved" version of the Picture of the Week, it seems that Raven Darkwing is momentarily going back to the older, more efficient version. But don't blame him folks, he's the new leader of the Wrath of the Norsemen, and it's a very time consuming position (one which I thankfully have never been in). Hopefully there will soon be a return to normalcy. In the meantime, get on over to the Picture of the Week forum to vote for the POTW 60!
PotW 60 - The Vote
Thanks for your time. And again, if you're interested in joining the Eagle Standard and giving back to the TWC community, please PM me, and I'll be very grateful.