Castles Made Of Sand: Stronghold 3


After peasant-pleasing and/or poking comes castle crashing. Firefly promised to show more of the militant aspect of Stronghold 3 and here’s a video which does just that. See castle walls crumble and tiny men topple from them, reduced to nothing more than ragdolls. Hear a polite British man explain that the medieval era is an ideal showcase for physics. I was hoping they’d be using a Buridanian impetus model but they’ve gone for Havok. I’m more interested in the castle building than the castle destruction, some of which is briefly shown at the end. Have a gander.

I can’t shake the feeling that castle walls shouldn’t explode quite so readily but in all honesty, I’ve never tried exploding one. There’s a definite tendency for ‘realistic’ physics to make objects seem more lightweight at the moment of collision though and when it comes to castles, I demand something a bit sturdier. That said, I still look forward to seeing walls smashed to bits and men hurtling to their doom and hopefully it’ll lead to more thought going into the placement of fortifying structures. Just under a month until we find out.


  1. GT3000 says:

    EDIT: The physics are a little out of control but that’s par for the course when it comes to Stronghold. They’ve always favored insta-building and other realism concessions in the place of fun mechanics. You can’t clamor for realism in how walls crumble and then expect your buildings to built in a snap.

  2. AgamemnonV2 says:

    I like how he said they were aiming for realism and then proceeds to show off one boulder reducing an entire section of a wall 50 times its mass into bits of sand.

    Is it sad that Medieval II: Total War, a nine-year-old game, has more “realistic” wall destruction going on than Stronghold 3?

    • Askeladd says:


    • Tom De Roeck says:

      I doubt that you an destroy an entire segment of wall with a single shot of a catapult, or even three. I bet they just wanted to show the destruction animations. Or one can atleast hope.

    • Mattressi says:

      I can’t imagine that a single shot will destroy a wall, both for realism and game balance purposes. I mean, seriously, if you could smash a wall in one shot you wouldn’t need to besiege a castle – you’d just sneak in at night with a magic wall vapouriser and skirmishers and take the castle by surprise. Why even build a wall in the game if they’re that easy to destroy?

      I think it’s just that watching a video of dozens of rocks hitting a big wall and making minimal impact isn’t going to be very entertaining, nor is it going to showcase their physics. It just seems so obvious that they’ve upped the damage of the siege weapons for the video :S

    • Shadowcat says:

      Nine years? Try not-quite-five.

    • MrMud says:

      A boulder from a catapult shouldnt have a house errupt as if there was an explosion inside of it. It just looks bad.

    • Chris D says:

      It’s one of those things I guess. Being a soldier has been described as long periods of boredom with brief moments of extreme danger, which is not really ideal gameplay. (I know that’s a bad word, somebody tell me how to do that sentence without it.) Siege warfare was a long, drawn out progress but one that could be interrupted at any point by someone going “Sod this! CHAAARGE!”. I think the only way to model that and keep it playable is to take a few liberties with the time frame.

      Also, I loved genuinely loved Medieval 2 but I think you may be misremembering it a little. Those wall sections were always going to come down in the centre regardless of where you were actually aiming at. You could fire at the corner sections all day and they were never coming down.

    • bagitomacho says:

      Such realistic physics! Michael Bay must surely be the director!

    • Davie says:

      Age of Empires III, even, had some pretty impressive physics. Buildings were actually sturdy, and while a cannon shot would blow off a chunk of wall in the area of impact, it would take a lot more than that to actually explode everything. Of course, my favorite thing was the fact that cannonballs continued to exist as physics objects after hitting their target, so you could ricochet them between buildings or roll them into a little pile in a valley if your aim was good.

    • simonh says:

      The problem with the physics isn’t that the shots are too powerful, or that the explosions are too big. The problem is that a catapult shot seems to damage a long section of wall evenly over the whole wall, rather than on the impact site. Fixing this isn’t a just a matter of tuning variables, they’ll have to build a completely different damage system.

  3. Jimbo says:

    Nice idea, poor execution. It looks like the dam eruption in Dam Busters.

  4. JanH says:

    Cool, sure. Realistic it isn’t. In medieval times fortresses were very rarely captured with force, only by starvation and treachery. Read the history of the crusader castles like Krak des Chevaliers in Syria for some examples.

    Catapults are vastly overpowered in almost all strategy games compared to the reality. You can lob stones at a solid fortification all day without doing more damage than a few defenders could repair at a leisurely pace. This, of course, doesn’t make for exciting games, which I guess is the reason for the general a-historical coverage of medieval warfare.

    • Tom De Roeck says:

      Thanks! That actually made me feel less worse for the lack of siege weaponry in King Arthur : RP Wargame.

    • MrMud says:

      Yea, medieval fortifications were not made obsolete until the first powerful cannons, simply because they were actually able to breach the walls.

    • Ergates_Antius says:

      Deformable terrain so you could undermine walls would be groovy.

    • Tom De Roeck says:

      Isnt that how they tried to get around walls anyway, by digging under them to destroy the support they have in the earth?

    • andyhavens says:

      Well, to be a bit more fair to fun-times-explody-catapult-fu… the castles/sieges we hear/read the most about are the ones where the castle wasn’t reduced to rubble and rat parts by siege engines. Smaller castles (which these mostly look like) were more susceptible to that kind of destruction. Lots of little, houshold-sized fortresses had walls that were more meant to keep men and horses out than great huge boulders.

      That being said… the idea of dragging siege engines ‘cross country to demolish one land-owner’s mini-castle is also kind of odd.

      Also… I don’t think all the barrels in dungeons usually contain gold, health potions, extra ammo, treasure, etc. Also “health potions.” Also “game.”

    • Fumarole says:

      Isnt that how they tried to get around walls anyway, by digging under them to destroy the support they have in the earth?

      That is correct. And mining in turn led defenders to dig moats around their walls, so as to flood the mines should they be attempted.

  5. Shadowcat says:

    Adam: I’m sure you could have come up with a Three Little Pigs joke.

  6. Stormbane says:

    Note at 1:22 a corner of building floating over the mountains.

  7. GenBanks says:

    The wall placement mechanism looks nice and fluid, hopefull it’s as pleasant to build the castles as it looks.

  8. caddyB says:

    So as usual combat is crap but castle building is actually good?
    It’s still a buy, but maybe I’ll wait for a sale or something. We’ll see.

  9. Insanity says:

    I’m guessing they whacked up the power of the catapults to showcase the physics in this video as waiting while the catapults take a few minutes to knock down the wall wouldn’t really make compelling viewing.

    • Askeladd says:

      Just place more catapults and don’t put them in rapid fire mode like in that video. Let us see it at many different angles if they are so proud of that to show it explicitly to us.

      That game’s not realistic in any way.

      Things to point out:
      -Range of Catapults
      -Angle of Catapults
      -Power of Catapults
      -Physiks that include some kind of mass measurement
      -Rubble disappears

      I don’t claim it has to be realistic. They can make their game how they want. People will like it, but those things above just turn me away.

    • Wilson says:

      If they were aiming to showcase the physics by increasing the power, they increased the power by far too much. I don’t want to see stuff flying around, I’ve been able to see that for ages. I would rather watch catapults slowly wear down a wall with little chunks flying off each time or something.

      This isn’t compelling viewing, it looks silly. I’d rather have non-compelling viewing which actually reflects the game. I really hope they have put up the power of the siege weapons for the video.

    • GenBanks says:

      Meh, so what if it’s not super realistic. It’s not aiming for realism, or else your castle would never get attacked in the first place and it would take years to build.

      I do hope the walls crumble more slowly though.

  10. oceanclub says:

    Is this going to be city-building-with-a-little-bit-of-combat along the line of Grand Ages: Rome? In that case, I might be interested….


  11. Rii says:

    What’s up with these Youtube videos that you can HD-ify from the embed but not expand to fullscreen without clicking through to Youtube? It’s pointless and vexing. /firstworldproblems

    • Dath says:

      Rii, I thought of that just now, annoying and ridiculous, HD in a small window is no fun =/

  12. tigershuffle says:

    try watching movie Ironclad…….skewed version of siege of Rochester Castle.

    Walls should hardly ever come down unless mined.

    Give us fattened pigs n miners …..oh and hurling rotting carcases in to the besieged.

    I want horrible smelly starvation and then a jolly good hammer to face biffathon when they finally break my defenses……ooh and murder holes obviously :)

    Meringue walls — meh

    • Astroman says:

      Indeed. I hope someone just cranked up the power of the boulders just to show off the explosiveness of their physics engine and that the stone walls in the full game are more substantial.

  13. Torgen says:

    I have to say that this video has just about quenched my enthusiasm for this title. Not only the solid rocks that have the explosive force of a modern laser-guided bomb, but the instant construction of castle walls and towers. I want to want my peasants excavating a solid foundation, hauling and laying stones, scaffolding going up as the walls get taller, all with at least a *nod* to realistic build times,

    There’s a reason you started with wooden palisades: you could throw those up in a month or two for protection while you started the years of work on the keep, curtain wall and towers.

    • Zorganist says:

      To be fair to the developers, Stronghold has always had instant building and there’s never been much in the way of complaint from the fans. The way the game is balanced and the missions structured, having to wait for ages for walls to be built just wouldn’t work.

      Same thing with combat- Stronghold has always leaned towards a more humorous, slapstick approach to combat, what with all the burning pitch and such, and now the developers are using Havok physics to add to the humour of seeing hordes of spearmen wiped out by catapaults and burning logs.

  14. Araxiel says:

    Exploding walls Atem nice and whatnot, but what about the infested badger throwing that was promised to us?

  15. Burning Man says:

    That… is not how a wall would break. Hitting it in one spot does not turn it’s entire top half into pebbles. These chaps have done that simply because they’d rather not bother with the odd shapes it would normally break into, making vertical holes. They could’ve taken a gander at Battlefield. BC2 did a very nice job with making everything destructible. BF3 seems to continue the trend.

    • Unaco says:

      I thought BF3’s destruction was all heavily scripted and rigid?

    • Burning Man says:

      I doubt it. It would be silly of them to do that to a feature which was implemented nicely in a previous installment, and which has been shown off rather heavily in trailers for the upcoming game.

  16. oliverh72 says:

    Wow, that just looks bad. Castle walls should crack, then crumble, then slowly fall. Not explode like someone’s lobbing medieval TNT at them. Ridiculous.

    If everything were really cartoony, they might be able to get away with it, but they’re going for a “oh look at how gritty it all is, it’s a simulation!” look, which I think is not a good choice. Especially since those wall texture are oh-so-awful. Man, it is just not working for me. Blech.

  17. Zarunil says:

    I’m sure this is a temporary build. Castle walls and houses don’t explode as if filled with explosives when hit by a boulder.

  18. JuJuCam says:

    Never got around to checking out the Stronghold games, are the first and second games still worth playing?

    • Zorganist says:

      The first one still holds up quite well, and you can get it dirt cheap (or free, if you pre-order SH3) nowadays. The second one? Not so much.

    • Zarunil says:

      I recommend Stronghold 1 and Stronghold: Crusader. Stronghold 2 was alright, but nothing spectactular.

  19. Phasma Felis says:

    Didn’t the first Stronghold allow you to take a spearman and stab down walls, given enough time?

    • Zorganist says:

      I distinctly remember having one of the strongest towers in the game knocked down by three pikemen once. I think Stronghold 2 had the same system.

      That being said, I never seriously attempted to attack walls without proper seige equipment, and the new physics might mean that they’ll be giving you more catapaults and trebuchets for seige missions, instead of a few ladders and a battering ram.