ďMy liege, our food stockpile is dwindling.Ē
My first impression of Stronghold 3 was more or less positive. I loved the fact that I could zoom out and see almost the entire map; I wasnít restricted to hovering three feet over cartoonishly oversized units (StarCraft II, Iím looking at you). Although, that doesnít mean much when the reason you could zoom out and see everything is because the map was pretty darn small. Also annoying is that the borders of the map are represented by some vast stone floor that could have been filled in with some extra terrain or even just plain blackness.
The free-build maps would have been great if there was any room to actually build something... Instead, youíre essentially limited to just building a singular stone perimeter around the town rather than a multiple-tiered stone fortress with separate sections and chokepoints. The developers did address this by releasing a new map with their latest patch that gives you a wide-open and flat plane to make use of. Unfortunately, you still need an economy to afford the fantastical building you had in mind and the developers saw fit to have all of your resources at the very edges of the map. This is made even worse by the fact that you can only have one resource stockpile, so once your terribly slow workers finish gathering their respective supplies, they have to trek across half of the map before depositing them for you to use.
This is a common theme throughout most of the Stronghold 3
experience. All unitsí movement is slow as molasses and building an economy takes way too long to do. Combined with the time limits imposed upon you, this makes the economic campaign excessively difficult. Along the way, your settlement will be all-to-frequently afflicted by random events that destroy all of your crops or bring disease to the populace. Furthermore, resource collection is not constant, often fluctuating with whatever hardship your peasants are faced with. This necessitates needless micromanagement on a persistent basis, unless youíre fine with having to repeat all of your undone economic progress by not rationing supplies as soon as thereís a minor decrease in production.
This chore of collecting resources is exacerbated by the amount of different ones there are in the game. In order to keep your population happy you need to give them food and low taxes. Because of how unreliable food production is and how you will need the money from the taxes to buy supplies, you can rely on alternative means of satisfying them. For instance, if you open an inn or a church or both, your happiness levels will skyrocket for a time. However, the church relies on candles you get from a candle-maker (I guess you canít worship God without them) and the inn requires ale brewed from a brewery that gets its supplies from a hops farm, making for three whole separate buildings in that supply chain. So along with rationing food, you will also have to ration church services and ale.
As you can already tell, there is a lot
of building to do here. Thatís normally a good thing because it allows for variety, but in Stronghold 3
, you basically need to build everything in order to be economically and militarily viable. This means depleting your resources and leaving very little to work with. Not to mention, it will all become pretty meaningless once you actually go to war.