A Xia's Diary - Singleplayer Campaign
"He is honest in words, effective in action, faithful in keeping promises, and fearless in offering his own life to free the righteous from bondage." ~ the historian Sima Qian, describing a Xia.
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"I leave these diaries to my fellow Xia, who will follow after me throughout the ages. You have read of many great events: the end of the Warring States, the rise and fall of the Qin Dynasty, and the beginning of the Han Dynasty. I pray that this history will not distract you from the real truth, which is that a Xia's life is defined by our values - such as duty, honor, and vengeance. No historic event, no matter how significant, can shake a Xia from this foundation." ~ the Grand Xia's last diary entry, written in Chang-an circa 175 BCE.
Who were the Xia? The Xia (pronounced 'see-ya' in English) can be thought of as the Chinese equivalent of Europe's Knight-errants. However, they were more than that. They were administrators, scholars, and soldiers-of-fortune. They came from both noble and humble origins. They lived their lives by a code and measured themselves by a strict set of values. They were men of intelligence, as well as men of action, and they played pivotal roles throughout the history of the Middle Kingdom.
In this campaign you will assume the role of a Xia from a clan with a long tradition of service. Over the course of this campaign, your journey will take you from humble hunting tents in the desert to the splendor of Grand Temples in magnificent capital cities. You will gain experience as you successfully complete each mission, slowly transforming from an inexperienced youth into the powerful Grand Xia of a mighty dynasty.
This campaign includes the maximum scope of ten missions, and features seven new maps of original design. A player will interact with 22 historically-accurate cities. Resources, commodities, and available structures follow the Emperor model for the iron age. This campaign uses a customized pricing scheme for commodities (designed by Shaun), which replaces the game's default Imperial Standard Prices. We believe it offers a more realistic price structure. These customized prices ripple into several aspects of gameplay, and the overall impact adds an additional level of challenge.
Some missions in this campaign overlap the time period of both 'The Mighty Qin' and 'The Silk Road' campaigns (which come included in the core game). However, you will find this campaign tells a more detailed version of that history, and it is told in a different way - from the first-person perspective of an active participant in the events of the time.
Three extra files are included in the download package. The first is a text file
'AXD_Readme.txt', which contains installation instructions, background information, campaign design notes, general play tips, and mission hints (warning: contains spoilers). The other two files are images called 'WarringStatesMap1.jpg' and 'WarringStatesMap2.jpg'. They are maps of the Middle Kingdom during the Warring States period, and are included solely for historical reference.
IMPORTANT NOTE: This campaign is rated 'very hard', and is my attempt to provide a solid challenge for advanced players. For the best play experience, a player should possess an advanced understanding of the game's military aspect, time-constrained missions, money management, trading, labor allocation, production output, monument construction, summoning and using the Heroes, and empire-map diplomacy. Sabotage by spies is allowed in this campaign, but it will not function as a 'deus ex machina' in every mission. However, sabotage can be helpful in some cases to give a player a slight edge. This campaign's play balance is designed to provide a graduated
level of challenge between three difficulty levels, as follows:
Normal difficulty = modest challenge
Hard difficulty = considerable challenge
Very hard difficulty = serious challenge
Missions Teasers: (Note - all missions except 10 use a 'time limit' or 'survival' goal)
Mission 1 - 'Hunters of the Gobi' - 5 years, from 242 BCE to the end of 238 BCE.
Mission 2 - 'The Scourge of the Lu Bandits' - 5 years, from 237 BCE to the end of 233 BCE.
Mission 3 - 'Trials for a Xia and an Assassin' - 5 years, from 232 BCE to the end of 228 BCE.
Mission 4 - 'A Hungry Tiger Stalks' - 4 years, from 227 BCE to the end of 224 BCE.
Mission 5 - 'Defiance Without Hope' - 3 years, from 223 BCE to the end of 221 BCE.
Mission 6 - 'To Serve a Tyrant' - 11 years, from 220 BCE to the end of 210 BCE.
Mission 7 - 'The Fall of Qin' - 4 years, from 209 BCE to the end of 206 BCE.
Mission 8 - 'Duel of the Xia' - 4 years, from 205 BCE to the end of 202 BCE.
Mission 9 - 'Architect of a New Capital' - 7 years, from 201 BCE to the end of 195 BCE.
Mission 10 - 'The Grand Xia's Final Strategy' - no time limit, starts in 194 BCE.
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If 10 missions and 7 novel cities/maps don't provide you with enough variety and replay options then you're a very tough customer to please. Most maps are flexible enough to allow for a variety of places to build your housing blocks, industrial parks and monuments/military where required. If you're the sort of player who aims for Perfect Harmony in their builds this adds extra layers of playability, challenge and satisfaction especially in Missions 1, 3, 6, 7 and 8.
In reality probably a 5 but I'm being a little tough here, I'll try to explain. Being a story driven campaign with time limits on most of the missions means some players may feel a little rushed at times. They may end up playing at a slightly lower degree of difficulty or aim for lower levels of Feng Shui compliance in order to 'get through'. Less a criticism on the campaign, more a reflection on the fact that at VH/PH some of the missions are very tricky indeed.
Excellent. Something here for every kind of player. If you like military challenges there are missions here for you (especially M3, M8 and M10); if you like monuments, there are plenty here; if you like Treasury challenges, they abound in the later missions; if you like logistical problems, look no further. M1 in particular can be tricky, how do you gather all the required game meat ?
Map Design: 5
Seven novel maps people! Running the gamut from big to small and across various climates. All realistic looking with plenty of detail and variety. On some of the maps you can, if you so wish, simply plonk down standard type housing blocks but many of the missions force you to be more creative in how you lay them out - especially true if you're a Feng Shui freak (like myself). M1 is very tricky whereas M10 offers ample room to go housing mad. On one build I had 2 common blocks and 4 elite blocks with thoughts of building a 5th.
Logical and informative story. For once the story actually drives the campaign/mission flow and is not just window dressing. The example mission saves from Gweilo and Shaun along with the comprehensive instructions/spoilers should provide most players with a sound set of play guidelines.
Additional Comments: Overall, a compelling series of missions that make up one of the best campaigns that I have seen/played for Emperor. I can only imagine how much effort went in to developing and testing this campaign. Congrats and thanks to the author and play test team.
Some mission specific comments (specifically relevant at Very Diff and Perfect Harmony, but probably apply to some degree to all levels of challenge):
M1 - very tricky. Easy to go into terminal debt and the game meat target is tough. The trick is to limit the hunter tents to no more than five and have at least one dedicated warehouse set to get game meat. A unit of cavalry bear-killers is also a good idea.
M2 - for reasons I struggle to fully explain or even understand(!), I think this is the most visually appealing map. Concise layout without being too limiting in terms of building and playability options.
M3 - city walls are your friends. Multiple invasions and invasion points, so you need to block off a number of them so you can concentrate your defenses, along with Huang Di who proves very useful.
M4/M5 - a variety of locations to choose from for your housing blocks. I suggest the North West plain near the ingress/egress point otherwise your immigrants may end up being meals on wheels for the stripey 'laohu'.
M6 - where to build the elite block? Probably the first time I ever built an elite block that straddled a brook. Charming looking block. Not my idea, stole it from a model save.
M7/M8 - farm crops and hemp need to be carefully placed. Not much in the way of good farmland so make the most of what you can. And irrigate, even though the water source is a long way away. M8 is military heavy.
M9 - get that tumulus going ASAP. They take forever.
M10 - my fave mission. Huge map allows for building frenzy. Plenty of violence, er I mean opportunities to liberate other cities and a pretty monument. Think I can squeeze in a sixth elite block somewhere ?!
[Edited on 03/05/06 @ 02:24 AM]
Rough, challenge to any city builder...
Great... time limits are set to the extreme. you can only win by a couple of months
Variety throughout. I believe the 7 maps provide for different playing styles. you will definitely find your style somewhere,
Map Design: 5
Stunning... swing baby swing... looking over around and sometimes through mountains to see all possibilities... sleep on each map before you attempt the mission
I'm a retired Xia. I feel like a hero...
In the Light of Beijing Tag's review, here's my analysis:
M1: Pure frustration. Feeling a new map is always a challenge. 30 Steaks in a year was challenging. The lesson learnt here was, complete all production goals as early as possible.
M2: Not a favourite. Boring for my taste very academic. I was probably still trying to figure out the general trend of the Diary. Necessary to learn the lessons on the temple as these lessons are applicable later, especially for the wall and tumulus...
M3: Great fights, big city, stunning micro-management between farms, smiths, commerce. Played conservative with the cash. was ok. Remember first battles are usually limited to a single unit. Place walls, save regularly. rotate rotate rotate the map continuously to check up routes. The bastards know how to suddenly end up destroying everything.
M4 & 5: careful for the trees. Clearing too much causes problems in start up capital. Debt anniversaries are a bitch. Save regularly. If you make a mistake in Mission 4 you will realise it very early in Mission 5 (same map). Don't even contemplate replaying M5. just revert back to M4 version 700 then click replay mission. Should read Missions.
Next if you have an idea of where the mission is going (upgrading houses, more forts, food gifts, production) start in the previous mission. Killing time constructively before the end of the survival time. The time saved in the next mission is crucial.
M6: Keep systems separate. The wall is a nightmare. Always has been. Multiple labour camps, guilds and place a couple of warehouses along the wall for wood, quick delivery towards the end.
Beijing, the elite straddle was stunning. found out for the first time that elite housing really doesn't want to be placed in a desert with out water table(Yes Gweilo. they don't need water boy due to their own pits. was attempting second elite block from Sun Wu Kong) well? you won.
M7/M8 Fabulous, time constraints rock. Distances micromanagement.
Hemp hemp hemp....
Enjoy convincing the 5th allie. got all the goals by the end of the first year. Think iron
M9 and 10: Hectic on 9. timing timing timing. manage everything, wath cashflow. it sounds like a lot. but suddenly you're building walls and laying elite plots before you've even put a ceramics shop up in your common housing block. You got to get that tax. And don't forget new years party.
This just expands in M10 15 vassels. and you think you've already got several until they all rebel. then the fun begins because there armies will kick your arse. Great you get all their weapons for rebuilding your army but you got no arm. 2 cavalry per fort, 4 infantry... try the other way takes a while and is a little expensive but it worked.
Gweilo, my compliments... was fabulous... absolute rush. The time limits are perfect.
Just joining in with the rest in praise of this campaign . The meat hunt alone in mission 1 will give yourself a few more gray hairs.
Tick-tock, tick-tock , time is ticking and you still have things to do and enemies to beat. Don´t ever think there is enough time for tranquil play in any of the missions except for the last one (There is plenty of other stuff to keep you occupied in that one).
As been pointed out by others reviewing this , 10 missions, 7 maps. Nuff said!
Map Design: 5
When you start a new mission , don´t rush things. Take your time, study the map , and if you want perfect Feng-Shui take an even closer look.
As always , great.
My only complaint with the original game was the lack of a really tough military challenge. I guess all city building veterans can recall the trumpets blowing in Ceasar III , Mediolanum year 204 BC or playing Pharaoh, Qadesh, sitting in front of your computer thinking - How the he** am i gonna do this? Nothing of that kind materialized in Emperor. What I am trying to say is that playing this campaign (and many other campaigns made by Gweilo) will fill that lack of military action in Emperor.
[Edited on 10/21/11 @ 01:16 PM]