Anger in the Khmer lands

Some days ago I played Suryavarman scenario 4 (Khmer campaign). I don’t think I have ever played a more irritating and infuriating scenario. It is tough, as the fourth scenario of a campaign should be. But the bad emotions it provoked on me have to do with how badly designed it is.

Suryavarman 3 sort of proves what I’m saying: it’s a ridiculously easy one. You are given military units at the start and no villagers. You can bait enemy soldiers with your hero unit and kill them with your higher numbers. There’s a similar scenario in the Pachacuti campaign. It’s also the third. But here, you find villagers on you way, and most importantly, you can’t sit around doing nothing, because the enemy launches attacks on you. In Suryavarman 3 you can forget that you left the game on and there will be no consequences whatsoever. So, we have a very dumb scenario, then the most maddening ever, and what about Suryavarman 5? It’s also easy. I completed it in my first try. I think we can agree that this kind of difficulty progression is broken.

What would be a tough scenario which is also designed well? I’d say Saladin 6. It’s brutal and nearly impossible. However, when you do something wrong, it’s evident from the start. Very soon you will have two trebuchets with massive range tearing down your walls and be swarmed by three enemy players. In Suryavarman 4, it seems that if you spend 100 gold on the wrong thing at the beginning, the consequences will be felt half an hour later.

Another problem I’d like to point out, is that the alarm horn nearly gave me a mental breakdown. I don’t know what is it about this scenario that made the alarm sound constantly – maybe it’s because it revolves around ships and they travel all over the place. I definitely remember playing very hard scenarios in which I wasn’t driven mad by the noise.

I’ve played Pachacuti and Edward Longshanks, also Hofonglalas, and just now I’ve played, and failed, The Grand Dukes of the West 2. I’ve seen people criticizing the Forgotten Empires DLC. What do you guys think? Is there a difference in the quality, regarding scenario design, between HD and DE? I think the York scenario, in which you play as the Vikings, was very good, but other ones from the Forgotten DLC sucked. So far, the ones from DE feel a lot better altogether. For instsance, I found The Grand Dukes of the West 2 really complex. I spent 4 hours on it and couldn’t cut it. Still, there are those little villages with the Conversion Torches, which, when you control them, give you a stream of the four resources. It’s those small things that give me the feeling of good design.

Hi there,

I completed all campaign mission on the highest difficulty. First, let me premise by saying that I never had particular anger for any mission, if you do, it might have something to do with how you perceive videogames and AoE. Games are for fun, but playing too much might lead to frustration. If you do encounter frustration, change activities or take a small break from gaming.

That being said, I recall the mission being fairly hard, I did fail on my 1st try (allied Indian castle died) and succeeded on the 2nd. I would not put this mission in the top 10 of hardest missions of campaigns (and I wouldn’t put Saladin 6 there, either), because while this mission requires you to hit a relatively fast Imperial Age timing and clean all the Orange bases north, you aren’t required to micro particularly well or make specific units. The key points are:

  1. your starting army should be used to clear these Orange bases North that otherwise will harass you. Upgrade only 1 unit (iirc I did Battle Elephants with +2 armor) because your main goal in this mission is upgrading navy, not army). Mix in something to kill Pikemen (Khmer Scorpions come to mind) but don’t do something like Crossbowmen, your focus isn’t land

  2. your Indian ally should be protected, if he dies, you lose. Land him and fortify his position, build docks there, and towers

  3. as you should know, all naval battles are wood-intensive, so you should put many villagers to wood. We are talking about 40%+ of your villagers should be on wood

  4. it’s worth to fish boom a little for a faster Imp time

  5. make army and upgrade it as you make it. Don’t wait until Imp to make water army. Fire Ships work in small numbers, otherwise Galleons are better. You should enter Imperial with 10-15 combat ships already.

  6. once you manage to defend your Indian ally, work on removing fortifications from enemy coast and do a landing there. From there, keep a minimal fleet (20-30) and start making units that are good on land. For example Treb + Halb, or something like that. Clearing this shore will be a lengthy process but by no means difficult.

I would say overall, the only point where you can fail this mission is if you let your ally die, otherwise, AI isn’t aggressive enough to really be a threat to the player unless you mismanage eco/army balance hard.

A top 8 of hardest missions for me, in no particular order, would be:

  1. The Onrushing Tide - Bari 5 (without exploiting friendly market I actually believe this mission is impossible because Sicilians Cavaliers and their bonus resistance to pikes make your Byzantines halbs trade not well enough for the little resources you have, not to mention mass Serjeants which are a pain for Byzantines too)

  2. The Mountain Siege - Le Loi 2: little to be said here, you go vs strong units, you have little space, resources, you need to mass Rattans + Elephants to hold off the Chinese but upgrading those units is expensive. You also need, on top of defending multiple chokepoints, also push to open a way East and once you do clear all the Chu Ko Nu + Siege, enemies patrol the way so you need to escort the refugees out, too.

  3. The Fate of India - Prithviraj 4: to this day idk how I beat this mission exactly, you go vs all sorts of problems, Keshiks which are a well-rounded unit that counters most units in the game, cav archers with Tatat Hill bonus, ecc. Indians mobility isn’t the best except for Camels and your army composition is very awkward. Oh yeah, it’s also a 1v3 and if you don’t get off to a good start (crush weak Persian player right away) the mission is basically impossible

  4. The Siege of Paris - Joan of Arc 4: beating AI-micro’d Galleons with only Bombard Cannons when your numbers are less than ideal is not easy. You have an army size that beats the scenario only with good micro and fails otherwise and there is also the Galleons dodging your BBC issue

  5. Tsar of the Bulgars - Ivaylo 3: this mission is hard in that again, you need to gain the initiative and crush 1 or 2 bases right away, otherwise there aren’t enough resources to constantly play defensively

  6. The Field of Blood - Pachacuti 2: very hard because you are attacked as you are booming, on Hard I think it’s impossible to defend if you don’t stone wall pre-emptively.

  7. Bukhara - Historical Battles: Mongols just have good units vs Persian army composition and it’s hard to beat Mangudai Hussar Siege with Paladin and Skirms without Bracer.

  8. Honfoglalas - Historical Battles: you start 1 age behind and in the middle of 3 enemies and what is suggested in the tip, get rid of 1 enemy with your starting army, doesn’t really work on Hard because they have Castles and TCs. It’s a slog until you get some techs and a mini army, then you can push back. I almost ran out of wood while defending here.

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I find things like Attila the Hun 5, and Genghis Khan 3 can be quite difficult. It isn’t necessarily the mission itself. It’s when you throw steam achievements into the mix, which I’m determined to get. Often, needing to go for them makes stuff less fun. I like the Alaric 2 style of achievement, where you can only make infantry if you want to get it, but I don’t like the Attila 5 version, where you have to destroy all three enemies in under 30 minutes, and they start building castles straight away, so literally the only way to do it is to exploit the AI’s thing about deleting buildings when enemies are close, even if it is 99% complete. I really don’t mind not playing some of them legitimately, but having to do that is just painful and irritating, and makes it less fun to play.

I’ve beaten at least the first scenario of almost every campaign, only play them on hard, and I’ve finished: Edward Longshanks, The Hautvilles, Algirdas and Kestutis, Sundjata, Alaric (Missing Final Mission), Barbarossa, and Sforza.

I agree with you about not letting games damage my mental health. When I was little, I used to shout at my PC, and once I become older, I made the promise to myself to control my emotions. But now and then, it happens again.

Here’s the funny thing: I won Honfoglalas in one sitting. The fact that you’re given military units at the start and you don’t create villagers until late was most appealing to me. Yes, you start in Feudal and all the others are already on Castle. But remember that you can already create Light Cavalry and Cavalry Archers, which is so poetic; the developers seem to realize that they had to give the Magyars that nomadic, raiding look. Now that I remember correctly, I actually had to restart only once.

Also, in Pachacuti 2, “Field of Blood”, I had only get accostumed to the layout. I made two castles in Orange base, and almost all the enemy attacks went there; the fact that the ones closer never went to Imperial facilitated things a lot.

My point is, it’s surprising how perception change from one person to another - two scenarios that for you are on the top 10 hard, weren’t quite for me. Likewise, I went mad in one scenario in which you kept your cool.

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I tried Grand Dukes of the West 2 again, and I’ve changed my mind; I’m hating it. The reason is similar to what you’ve just said. There are different victory conditions. You have three weaker opponents and a stronger one, Blue, who advances to Imperial quite soon. You can either defeat him or the three mentioned before. I’m going for the defeat of Blue because he is the stronger one. It’s pure pride. I still don’t know if it’s even possible to do if I leave the other three alone. So far, it’s a no go. I don’t want to vanquish at least two of them because, precisely, I want the personal achievement (not a Steam-made one) of fighting the hardest battle against Blue without simplifying it.

I absolutely abhor Grand Dukes 2. Rage is burning inside me and I’ve gone back to banging my desk and doors. To make it worse, I’ve watched Viper playing it. At the start, when you have to kill all Orange units, he mentions Coustiller charge attack and says that “this mission can be cheesed so hard”. He doesn’t take advantage of the charge attack, but proceeds to invade Île-de-France with all units. What had I done in that part? I converted enemy’s Longswordmen and ended up with quite a lot of them, AND I STILL COULD’T WIN THE SCENARIO. Viper, naturally, came out victorious, I think by defeating everybody or something.

I have never felt envy like this before; pure and sinful envy, which is desiring something so much and hating people who have it. HOW HAVE PEOPLE LIKE HIM COME TO PLAY THIS GAME SO WELL? I DON’T UNDERSTAND. Forget about winning the damn scenario; what do I do to stop feeling like this? How do you avoid being miserable and irate when you lose in a game?

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You need to understand that TheViper is a god. Period.

There are three ways to be good at something:

  • Having raw natural talent, being good at something while enjoying it.

  • Practice, practice and practice. Do it until you internalize every action. Do it until you don’t think what you are doing.

  • Analyze: Opponents, environment, yourself, everything. Define an hypothesis, study it, test it and take actions based on your results. See the Matrix.

Most of the professionals on any discipline focus on one of these things, and take some time with the other two. The best among them have two of them to the max. Orjan Larsen has all of them.

And that’s just the individual point of view.

TheViper is part of a clan, a group of elite players who regularly discuss about the game, changes and new possible strategies. People on almost his same level who can provide feedback on his theories and analysis and even provide new points of view. And even test that stuff in a controlled environment in order to really understand it.

Most of us are dudes who have our lives focused in more mundane stuff (working, study, relationships, sons, etc…) And we can only invest just a couple of hours per day (or week) into this.

Don’t feel bad for being less than the Viper, enjoy the fact that you can see him play and that you can understand the magic in what he does, for most of the people is just an old dude playing a 20yo game. We are the lucky ones who can understand what is going on and why he is TheViper.

Yeah, but if the Viper can easily beat a level that the average player finds almost impossible, that may say something about the level itself, more than either player.

The title of this topic really fits for a scenario like a rebellion to overthrow the khmers.

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In case anyone cares, I beat the scenario. I turtled with ships, which I think is how the map is designed to be played, and sweeped Blue clean with 160 Paladins.

The third scenario of the campaign is a purely military one in which you have no economy nor villagers. Just like Pachacuti 3 (almost). Just like Suryavarman 3. I was expecting it and I wasn’t let down.

I know that against him, I wouldn’t be able to leave a scratch on his walls. But I was playing a campaign. I though, or wished, that after 4 hours straight, I would win the fight. That was Friday night. Saturday yielded the same results. Only in Sunday night I managed to get on track. I’ve watched bit of Viper playing it, and he didn’t even turtle with ships. Although he went for a different victory condition, which is defeating the weaker players…

Well, yes, you’re right; he probably has got the three traits you desribed. But now I’m curious if you people have felt like this when playing this videogame, or any other, and how you overcame these emotions.

What do you mean? I found it natural that he would achieve something that other people don’t.

If Viper can beat something easily, and most people can’t, then maybe the level needs to be made easier.

Ooooh. Not at all. There are different difficulty levels for a reason. It’s me who insists on playing on Hard because I’m too proud.

Same. Some levels with steam achievements are such a headache that I think the achievement should be made easier though.

i like that achievments are difficult. if anything i wish their was more harder achievments. stuff like rome didnt fall in a day are great. i realy like things that give me a sense of “achievment” when i complete them. if all the achievments are easy then their realy isent much of an achievment in acomplishling them

Rome was destroyed in one day is a pain. I don’t like the timer ones so much. I prefer “Destroy this enemy before such and such”, or “Amass X number of units of one type”. Things like that. I really hate Truly Countless bodies, for reasons I detailed in my first post. It depends on if the achievement requires me to do a heap of grinding and making it not enjoyable to play the level. That’s how I see it.

i guess its a difference of opinion because i love the grind. the difficulty and amount of time needed to get the achievement is what makes it an ACHIEVEMENT atleast in my eyes. i personaly love to do campaigns pacafist and that takes alot of grinding but the sense of achievment when i sucseed is there because of the difficulty of the task. aoe2 campaigns and the like are already on the easier side rather then the hard side and i do wish they embraced the difficult parts more rather then shun them as many have suggested

I’m fine with the campaigns being hard. I don’t like having to exploit the AI or struggle for hours to get steam achievements though. I don’t mind grinds if I think I can win. I don’t like having to rush the AI in under half an hour and make them delete buildings because I injure vils to get an achievement. I’m perfectly fine playing a normal campaign like that, but not a steam achievement.