Greetings, companions of the Edain!
The fortress map of Rivendell was often somewhat disappointing and we think that it rarely lives up to its potential. Neither does it realize the atmosphere of Imladris to the fullest, nor is it an exciting fortress map. Thus, we'd reworked the map for 4.6 and would like to present you the results today.
Rivendell Map Rework
Our goals for the rework were to:
- Improve the gameplay as a fortress map
- Build upon the elements that make this map stand out from others
- Make the atmosphere of Rivendell more palpable
- Ensure its playability from the defender's position
- Keep the classic layout intact as much as possible
Let's begin with the last point. Creating a new map from scratch would have been possible, but we wanted to keep the rework close to the original, at least in general. Not only did we want to keep the design familiar, since this map is also used in the BfME II campaigns, it needed to be playable in the respective missions.
What makes a fortress map a great fortress map?
A good fortress map offers both the attacker and the defender several options. The defender should have several ways of fortifying his base successfully and outlast his enemy, whereas the attacker should have several venues of attack and the possibility to stretch the defender's forces thin with good play.
Taking a look at the original map design, it is clear that the attacker had two main options: (1) Destroy the gate in the centre or attack the (2) left flank over the bridge. Successfully completing either of these objectives gave him access to the fortress (3), with no further defensive structures blocking the way to the (6) citadel. A third option opened up by taking the shipyard on the right (4) and smuggling in units with transport ships (not in the base game) or focusing on the area in the top left (5), where the economy of the defender was usually built. In practice, those two options were usually not too relevant: the attacker could simply destroy the citadel at this point, winning the battle altogether.
The defender on the other hand had the option to station archers on top of the walls surrounding the central gate and to man the towers at both attack paths (1)(2).
Since fortress maps that allow the attacker to just run into the fortress are usually quite frustrating, the bridge on the left side was removed in Edain, making the central gate the only viable path of attack (1). The downside of this was that it created a massive bottleneck with sometimes boring standoffs, not to mention that breaking the defender once at this gate would practically ensure victory because of the proximity to the citadel (6) - once you made it past the gate, you were already in striking distance.
We therefore decided to revert this change and return to a state where Rivendell has two entrances. We also decided to seperate the areas inside of the fortress and made defending them easier. No longer gives breaking the gate free reign to the attacker to wreak havoc on everything inside the fortress, he now has to decide where and how to continue his push.
The first step in achieving this was narrowing the access to the plateau of the House of Elrond (6), and placed defensive towers and statues there. This ensures defenders can hold off opposing forces for quite some time in case of a frontal attack. That being said, we also added paths to attack the citadel from the back, meaning the attacker is no longer forced into a frontal assault.
The left flank (5) was also fortified in comparison to the original. It is protected by a garrisonable tower and the bridge is more narrow, but also offers two settlements the attacker can take from the defender. This can mean both a significant hit to the economy of the defender and a useful boost in income for the attacker if he focuses his attention here. Adding the bridge also meant we had to change the rally point for reinforcements such as the soldiers from Rhûn and Harad for Mordor.
On the right (4), Rivendell still has an outpost and the shipyard. Because the direct path to the citadel is no longer as attractive, this now becomes a worthwile target of attacks to deny the defender access to powerful units. It also is important to take down because from here, attackers gain access to a new path towards the House of Elrond.
The inside of the fortress (3) is still the main hub of the defender's infrastructure, so losing this part of his base is incredibly painful. It also benefits from the added defensive options inside the fortress.
The entrance on the left flank has returned, as we mentioned, but it is not easy to take for attacking forces (2). In addition to the garrisonable towers in front, protecting the entrance much like other towers do near the central gate, a new tower has been added in the hills. This new tower is accessible from the upper left area (5) and allows the defender to retreat and possibly retake the left flank with reinforcements later on.
The central gate (1) is still mostly the same, with one change: Units can now walk on top of the gate.
What makes Rivendell special?
What probably stays in the minds of most viewers of Rivendell is this mystical place with narrow valleys, unusual buildings peeking out here and there between the trees and many waterfalls.
Naturally, we wanted to incorporate more of these aspects and kept them in mind with our rework of Rivendell. The original map consisted of many large plains, especially within Rivendell, which was necessary because of the free building system and the placement of the resource buildings. However, since we are using build plots now, we are able to bring Rivendell much closer to the atmosphere of the movie in this respect.
We have accordingly broken up the large, flat areas with rivers, cliffs, lakes or buildings, while of course making sure to leave enough space so that the map is still playable.
And thanks to the great reworked and completely new Rivendell buildings by Radagast the Musical, the map is now even more reminiscent of Rivendell. All of the existing buildings got their texture adjusted to be in line with new design of the rivendell faction.
On top of that, many new structures can be found all over the map.
And maybe you can spot some iconic locations from the movies as well.
We hope you like the new Rivendell and are looking forward to your feedback.
Your Edain Team