I just finished playing a few games. This map plays very well!
I started my first game with just two opponents to get the feel of the map. That feel was great, so the next games were with all opponents.
Conflict starts very early, because there are very few neutral counties to be conquered. This was a bit of an adjustment for me, because normally I like to build a small empire without provoking other major players, before going to war big time.
I felt that playing with all opponents was actually easier than with just two. Until the end-stage, nobody is at war with everybody else, but most have a serious war with one or two other players. This keeps the battles relatively small.
With just two opponents, every player can consolidate and build big armies, which have to be ground down in multiple turns.
Playing the Vikings is a nice challenge. You start at an island, with fucking expensive men. You have to grab as much high-income countries and islands as quick as possible, to generate enough cash to buy men. Loose too many men in unsuccessful invasions to get some cash-generating neutral territory in the first year and it is essentially 'Game over'.
Because all men have to be transported by boat, expansion is slower than with one of the factions on the main land-mass. (You just ca'nt buy and send enough men to compete with the other players early in the game.) It took me almost double the time to finish a game (conquered all) by playing with the Vikings compared with playing with another faction.
Note my remark nice challenge
. This is not a draw-back, this is fun!
This map feels nicely balanced and is fun to play. Although the AI is the same, I haven't seen as much stupid or questionable moves by the computer players as usual. So it seems a well balanced map forces (or allows) the AI to behave smarter.Kudo's to Cr1x for this map!