Stronghold is another game I originally bought as a boxed CD – I tried a demo of it from a magazine and liked it so much I bought it as soon as I found the game in the local computer shop. My present game is downloaded from Steam and runs well in Windows 10. This gets occasional patches hence my Steam purchase, while the original game has not been patched for years.
The base game in Stronghold is a campaign that begins very simply and ends up haunting your dreams as you try to figure a way past the next mission… Best played through on the easy level first, the cut scenes are a bit “Tally Ho, Old Boy”, but the missions slowly get harder and harder. Timing and building placement become more and more critical and the available weapons become more and more varied and involved. You have 4 enemies of increasing skill and a number of counties to take back from them in a land that looks not unlike Wales, England and Scotland. Starting with a small band of followers using longbows, you gradually get access to crossbows, leather armour, maces, spears, pikes, swords and metal armour, plus all the defensive tools a castle might have used at the time, including boiling oil, tarred killing areas, attack dogs, catapults and the like, all to be deployed while still feeding the peasants and keeoing them happy – and growing your army as you are being attacked.
Asides from the Military campaign in Stronghold and an Economic campaign – where you wil learn to balance money, food and beer, health and religion, while struggling with random fires and the plague – you will find separate single missions, plus that peaceful option of freebuild, where you can test out various castle buildings and how they work before you have to rush to learn how to fight. Freebuild is also just a good Sunday afternoon chill session where everything can be planned and placed just right ! (pressing F1 also allows you to create events and invasions to test your freebuild perfect castle !). If you are feeling creative Stronghold gives you the ability to design your own map and depending on how you save the final file, you can use it in an Economic, Military or Freebuild mission later.
Stronghold also allows you to play famous castle sieges, or set up a LAN with a friend and attempt to trash his castle.
A carefully-planned Stronghold freebuild session, with soldiers ready to defend against the hordes that will shortly show up by the flag just poking into the picture near the top right-hand side…
Despite the rather old graphics, Stronghold is a very clever, real-time, castle-building strategy simulation done well !