A medieval-themed RTS series by British game developer Firefly Studios. It has a heavier emphasis on economy and base building than some other games. Calling it a "castle sim" would probably be the most accurate term for it, since it's possibly the only strategy game where you can build and customize your own castles and fortified settlements any way you like. Its gameplay can be described as a blend of action-oriented RTS games like Age of Empires and more management-based strategy like The Settlers. The devs from Firefly are the original creators of the City Building Series, and it shows...
Currently, the series consists of these installments:
Stronghold (2001) itself, which was set in England and Wales during an unspecified period of the Middle Ages.
Stronghold Crusader Extreme, a version of Stronghold Crusader which features better AI and higher unit limit cap.
Stronghold 2 (2005), which brought the series into full 3D.
Stronghold Legends (2006), a departure into fantasy territory, featuring the characters, creatures and settings of several medieval European legends. The game was rushed to release, many of the series' unique mechanics were underplayed, and it showed - the game was very poorly received by critics and gamers alike, and is considered a Dolled-Up Installment or sequel In Name Only by most.
Stronghold 3 (2011) The first "real" entry in the series since 2005. It suffered a poor release despite months of delays, was devoid of a skirmish mode, crashed frequently, was accused reusing sounds from previous entries, had an unstable multi-player mode, and had wolves climbing ladders. The game has since began to recover due to extensive patching from the developers.
Despite relatively poor production values (from Stronghold 2 onwards at least) and somewhat daft AI, the series has a large following and is notable for bucking many Real Time Strategy gameplay tropes in favor of more realism.Not to be confused with the early nineties fantasy strategy game of the same name.
This game series provides examples of:
0% Approval Rating: The peasants' opinion of the player really is expressed as a number out of one hundred, and the workers will begin to desert if you impose high enough taxes or refuse to feed them.Even though torturing and menacing them with certain decoration will make them so afraid to opposed you that they will increase in productivity, as long as you have enough positive boosts to balance it.
Animal Motifs: The four main enemies in the original Stronghold were called "The Rat," "The Snake," "The Pig" and "The Wolf." Each required much more varied tactics than the last.Crusader's most difficult battles pit the player against King Richard Lionheart.
A garrison of crossbowmen is more expensive, has a shorter range and slower fire rate, but can take down any unarmored soldier in one shot, and heavily-armored ones in two-three.
Anti Poop Socking: Your scribe (advisor) would occasionally say things like "How about a snack my liege?" or "You have been playing for a long time." depending on how long you have played.
Artificial Stupidity: The AI doesn't seem to understand that when you tear down its village's hovels, it should build new ones. Sigh.
Even more when you destroy buildings by torching the enemy castle, as they will rebuild their facilities on the same spot while it's still burning, fueling the fire further until they have no resources left.
Bears can be quite annoying, especially if you haven't had time to recruit soldiers yet. However, if you have enough resources you can Take a Third Option and wall them in. Voila, a zoo!
And then there are the dancing bears, which you can place in order to raise the morale.
Beware the Nice Ones: In Stronghold Crusader, if you have your fear factor set to the happiest, your soldiers fight far more fiercely in your defense...
Black Comedy / Gallows Humour: Plenty of it, especially in the briefings and cutscenes. It's rather appropriate and nicely fits the down-to-earth portrayal of life in the Middle Ages offered by the game.
Bloodless Carnage: In Stronghold 2. Averted in the original and in Crusader, which featured bloody death animations for every sprite that were different depending how the unit died.
Credits Gag: Sort of. After every map you kill one of the Four Tyrants the "victory feast" screen shows an item associated with that villain (such as the Rat's helmet being used as a candle holder and the Snake's eyepatch impaled with a dagger).
The Crusades: The setting for Stronghold Crusader, specifically the era of the Third Crusade.
Deadpan Snarker: The Tunnelers. "Let me guess. Digging." Ask them to attack someone for extra fun.
Dragon-in-Chief: The Hawk in Stronghold 2. His power and influence rival Barclay's, and he has a much more direct and significant role in the story. He's the one who came up with the whole plan to overthrow the King in the first place, as well as the one who put it into action, i.e. hiring the Viking Warlord Olaf to attack the country, poisoning the King, orchestrating the capture of Sir William, and disbanding the King's army.
Dumbass Has a Point: In the first game, the other villains talk the Rat into trying to betray you, than threaten him into overextending himself against a lord who rises in your support when he hears about the betrayal. His plan was to pull his forces back to his own stronghold and wait for reinforcements instead of smashing his armies against your walls, which probably would have worked.
In some gametypes of Stronghold 2, dung will actually start piling up in your town, and you have to hire sanitation workers to clean it up.
Easter Egg: The narrator has a certain number of preset names to call you with if you use them.
Vader, for example.
Or Flying Poo!
During Christmas time, in a team match, your allies will wish you a merry christmas.
Easy Logistics: Mostly averted or at least subverted (except for building, since all structures appear instantly after you place them in the desired location). You generally need to set up a lot of basic production chains to get your economy and army up and running. Example: You need to send woodcutters to chop down trees, then wait till they bring it to your stockpile, then you use the wood to construct a farm, mill and bakery. Now your peasants will be fed and relatively happy. You can set the amount of rations for them anytime you like, depending on the situation. The amount of rations increases or decreases morale. Now, you want to train, say, a crossbowman? You first need to build a tanner's and fletcher's workshop and a dairy farm. The tanner will occasionally visit the dairy farm, take a cow back to the workshop, slaughter it and start working on 3 new padded leather armors for the archers. In the meantime, the fletcher manufactures the crossbows and bolts. Both craftsmen put their products in the armoury (but only if you've already built one!). And that's not all: Finally, you have to build a barracks and have enough gold and unemployed (unoccupied) peasants, so you can train them into soldiers. Quite a lot of work for a strategy game, eh?
Except, curiously, that as soon as your peasants are drafted into soldiers they no longer need to eat. Or need a place to live in.
Hello, Insert Name Here: In Stronghold Crusader, naming your profile after any of a couple of hundred common English names (or "Vader") causes the narrator to refer to you by that name out loud (otherwise, he just calles you "my lord.")
Hoist by His Own Petard: The Rat is all but forced by the other lords into attacking a lord that's allied with you, just when you're about to attack his castle. Finding it incredibly underprotected, you quickly take it over, beef up the defenses, and attack him when he's coming back from his unsuccessful siege. Given the fact that he was retreating to his castle with his defeated forces, he doesn't put up much of a fight.
The Jester: One of these goes around entertaining/annoying your people. At one point in the military campaign between missions your jester sings a song about your victory over the Rat's troops to the tune of Greensleeves.
Kill It with Fire: In Stronghold Crusader, slaves or ballistas can be used to set fire to the castle of any computer opponent one doesn't actually feel like fighting. The brilliant AI replaces the destroyed buildings while the rest of his castle is still on fire, until eventually he runs out of resources.
Shown Their Work: Though some of the graphics and aspects seem a bit cartoony, the workings of an average medieval castle (production chains and features like morale and army building) are depicted fairly realistically.
Shout Out: Naming yourself Lord Vader in Crusader causes the narrator to refer to you verbally as Lord Vader.
The Siege / Storming the Castle: The most usual military activities of both you and your adversaries. The attacker has a limited number of units, and the defender only has to outlast the siege to win*
Not as easy as you'd think, as the only safe places are within the castle walls, and you rarely have enough space or stone available to protect your farms. The only thing that devastates morale/happiness more than not have anything to eat is prohibitively excessive taxes, and if you can't get to your farms, you also can't get to the tree you need to harvest to make more bows...
. This is true for you as well: player sieges are as much an exercise in efficient unit use as they are about killing everyone in the target castle.
Tower Defense: A more complex version than most; "Castle Defense," really, but still, 80 percent of the time, you're on the defense rather than on the offense. Rarely, you play a siege mission where you use your own troops to destroy an enemy castle; ever more rarely, you can have a castle-vs-castle section where you can keep building your own troops to throw at the enemy.