I played this under duress as I had signed up for a different scenario and then when the rest of the table showed they had already emailed the GM asking him to change to this scenario. Soooo, playing high tier with a group of strangers where I was the lone melee fighter.
Even though I basically enjoyed the scenario, ANY time you have an encounter where theoretically your whole party could be surrounded by 4-5 large creatures with reach AND basically unhindered movement (and who have high initiatives and multiple attacks after surrounding you)and who could kill you all before anyone in your party can act...that scenario can never be 5 stars. Sorry.
I'm sure the author thought they had this fantastic idea for a "mystery" scenario...and then went and made it too mysterious.
This is the problem I have with scenario writers: they sometimes rely on their own play experience when writing them. We've all heard the maxims about the right gear to have (always have a way to fly by level 5), the right skills to take, etc. But when you, as a scenario writer, make them critical (and sometimes make-or-break) for a scenario-you do the players a disservice (especially at 1-5).
Yes, it should be spooky in the Manna Wastes and the village. Yes, it shouldn't be super easy to try and figure out just what is going on with the village...but to make it almost impossible without just the right skills/equipment is just annoying.
I hate when you play a scenario with an encounter that if you have just the right thing its a cakewalk, and if you don't have that thing its like a first edition D&D wizard fighting a house cat.
Other than that "encounter which shall not be named" the first two thirds of the scenario can be challenging and make good use of the locale and surroundings. However, the last part of the scenario seemed a little bit of a let-down from a challenge point of view.
This scenario almost made me decide to skip the entire year 6 storyline. A low-tier party (unless they are cracked-out "mathfinders") will find this scenario almost impossible. Terrible mechanics and ridiculous foes.