|Map Name||An Exotic Land (6)|
The Slave King
Richard the Lionheart
|← The King Looks DownThe Ridge →|
Isolation is what fittingly describes the situation in mission five. The Lionheart from the previous mission fled to a high-ground ledge, trying to reestablish his power from here. To further aggravate matters, he called the combined help of the Sultana and the Slave King. As to how to balance the scales, a comfortable Shah has offered his services, although you are separated from each other, while the opposition has surrounded you on three sides. It is a must to somehow connect to the Shah and reign supreme over your enemies.
The map this time features high and low ground estates, all of which are reachable through narrow steeps. The bottom side has the most uneven circumstances, as the upper estate has unfair highground advantage over the lower estate. This however, makes it hard for its inhabitant to venture out, since the ridges are far away, as well as securing resources is very risky and hard to execute. The northern estates are spaced out well, and they are all in an isolated position where defenses can be built up without a hassle. Controlling the ridges is going to be essential and thus become focal points of the conflict. The center estate has marshlands, but it is also in a low-level position.
As always, your enemies take favourable positions. Richard has the high-ground contrary to the Shah, the Sultana is in a safe place in the west, while the Slave King is on the other side. You are in the center, and the Shah is in the very south.
The first moments of the gameEdit
Contrary to previous missions, this one should be a breather in terms of being pressured and attacks. The usual flow of assassins, slaves and Arab bowmen can be expected from either side, as well as sometimes Richard will venture out with a force of his own. Richard however, will be busy fighting the Shah, as his industry will suffer and he has to withstand the constant flow of harassment. The Shah will be able to hold his own for very long in the match.
Erect the stockpile somewhere near the forest north of you, and the granary close by. The oasis there will be sufficient for your bread production and it is in a naturally defended position anyway. Add wood camps, mills, bakeries and a few workshops for supplying crossbowmen. Don't forget hovels and more industries as wood allows. Build the armoury, barracks and mercenary post as well. Sell all secondary resources except iron, since you need armour for crossbowmen.
As well known, walling off the entire estate is not needed and a few towers will be able to halt the enemy attacks. You need to quickly erect two great towers with a stairwell: one southwest, overlooking the ridge towards the Sultana, and another one to the east, guarding the perimeter from the Slave King. Distribute the starting troops evenly among the towers, as well as reinforce them with a couple of Arabian bowmen from the mercenary post. You need to guard the stairwells as well, so bring ahead a couple of fodder units! Conscripts work very well and they are cheap enough, however slaves with a slave driver makes a very durable guard, making future reinforcements very cheap. You should never ever use your drivers, if they stand in the back.
Building up and fortifyingEdit
The enemy will pressure you with their trademark flows of units. As time goes on, these strengthen in numbers, so you will need to build a bigger army to face them.
The Slave King will be most persistent with his slaves and Arab bowmen, which will have a tendency to go at your workers, sometimes going for the granary in the open. To prevent this, simply grab another group of cheap slaves/conscripts and have them camp just behind the elevation, where arrows cannot harm them. You can also send 3-6 crossbowmen to assist them (employ this tactic for the stairwell guards as well), since your tower units will be mostly busy clearing the ranged attackers.
Reinforce towers until you feel comfortable with defense. A healer or two will also come in handy in sustaining your defenders! The tower overlooking the Sultana will require more crossbowmen on the ground, since assassins will be busy tearing up your guard.
At some point, the woodcutters will have cut down the northern forest and they will head directly southwest, where Richards buildings lie. They will not be able to retrieve wood apart from a few lucky escapees, but they make perfect pin-downs for the enemy troops, relieving the pressure on you somewhat. Use this to your advantage! Sadly, you will have to buy in wood for extending your industry. Stone is not required, yet you can build a church and an inn to bolster your tax income. You should be able to sustain a tax rate of 3 with only a handful of breweries and chandlers.
From the incoming money, buy iron for armourers, keep on recruiting crossbowmen and Arab swordsmen, with a few whirling dervishes. This will take a long time, but will carry you a long way in the game, since the enemy has no response to armored units (apart from supreme number of ranged units, being said). Save often and prioritize the towers first, if you start suffering dreadful casualties to enemy bowmen. You can also call for the Shah for assistance! His mood is always up and although he will not contribute to the defenses themselves, his units will make a good distraction for Richard and the Sultana.
Attacking the Slave KingEdit
After you have around 50 Arab scimitars and 40 crossbowmen, you can go and start pressing back the Slave King, the most persistent harasser of the opposition. His units are pathetic in melee combat, and they will always come in small batches, easily butchered by your army. Richard may or may not time his attack against you, bringing his macemen and swordsmen to the fore. Lead with the swordsmen so that the crossbowmen can fire at will. Take a slow march up to the Slave King's castle and remove the light guard around the perimeter.
The Slave King will not be able to show up any effective way of resistance, Despite this, never walk directly at the walls, or some stray fiery arrows might light up pitch. The castle is so tiny though that the crossbowmen will be able to reach from one side to other, killing the Arab bowmen. Remove the curtain gatehouses and take big care against whirling dervishes, who can decimate your valuable troops, if they come out from the campfire. Only engage with the swordsmen, when the keep is clear of units.
Marching against the rest of themEdit
Attacking the rest of the enemies should be easy, now that one of them is gone. Assemble your army at the Slave King's former castle and dispose of Richard's patrols and units that overlook the southeastern ridge leading to him. Macemen are not a problem, however rangers will outrange your crossbowmen - methodically clear them until the coast becomes free. You should be able to press until the Lionheart's own oasis. Replace your fallen units.
Go in in the usual way, caring about the position of crossbowmen. Since the Lionheart collected numerous bowmen, you have to clear the entire eastern and southern walls of units. Prioritize ballistae and mangonels, since they will make short work of your crossbowmen! While the exterior is safe from melee troops, work on the walls with your swordsmen.
It is possible to break the wall in such a way that half of the archers will not be able to see your units. Try removing the barracks to stop reinforcements from coming, then eliminate any units in the way of your soldiers. When the way is clear, bring in your whirling dervishes on the top of the keep! They will whirlwind around for tremendous damage (including the lord), softening them up for your Arabian swordsmen to take care of. Richard will have not much chance against your assault.
With Richard defeated, you can turn against the Sultana. Bring everyone from home, order the Shah to attack, who will be free from Richard's harassment, then push back the Sultana! Her flow of troops will be disruptive at first glance, but they are no match for your superior (fire)power. Getting close to her castle can be troublesome, since haybale launchers and a mangonel overlooks the perimeter, but timing between shots is the window to quickly destroy them with your crossbowmen.
Have your Arabian swordsmen clear the walls, where your crossbowmen cannot reach, while also eliminating the ground force near the mercenary post. Your whirling dervishes will also come in handy for the keep, however the Sultana keeps little armour near herself. What's more, is that sometimes the Sultana comes down to fight your swordsmen for one final blow. Quickly eliminate her for victory!