The day has come for you to know the truth.
For many years, I avoided your instructions, my child – about you, about me, about your father. But you must know. You are not from here. Your homeland is to the north, in Bulgaria. Let me tell you a tale.
Once, a powerful noble named Konstantin led a rebel army to Tarnovo, the capital of Bulgaria. The reigning tsar, a murderer who had usurped the throne, fled with his son Ivan to the court of the Roman emperor. The grateful nobles of Bulgaria, a class of men called the bolyars, proclaimed Konstantin tsar.
The new king brought peace to Bulgaria. He wed the emperor's niece and even arranged the marriage of the Roman ruler's daughter to a one-eyed Mongol khan. But such peace was not to last. Men are like wolves; they smell weakness.
While riding, the tsar fell from his horse, shattering his legs and spine. The crippled tsar watched helplessly as his kingdom descended into anarchy. Tatar raiders invaded his lands, while the bolyars busied themselves with increasing their own power. For fear of the raider's torch, the peasants accepted the bolyar's whip.
A most unlikely man changed this fate. A common pig farmer appeared in a small village. His hands were calloused and his weathered face was like that of any man who worked for his livelihood.
But this man was different. Not only did he urge the people to resist the Tatars, but he somehow turned his words into action, leading a militia to defend the villages. Soon, his unlikely successes attracted the attention of far more powerful and ruthless men...
- Starting Age: Castle Age
- Starting resources:
- Population limit: 200
- Starting units:
Differences between difficulty levels
- On standard difficulty, the player is allowed to build Farms.
- Wait for further instructions.
- Find and defend the nearby village.
- Kill 3 bolyars.
- Ally with Tsar Konstantin or attack him.
- Destroy the Tulcha Tatars (only if allied with Tsar Konstantin).
- Kill Tsar Konstantin.
- You are restricted to a population limit of 200.
- Explore early and often. Find livestock in the woods before your enemies do.
- When a Castle is sufficiently damaged, a hiding bolyar will escape from it. Watch for this so you can kill him while preserving the Castle.
- Your enemies are best countered by a different mix of unit types. Skirmishers and Spearmen are effective against the Tatars, but cavalry will help you chase down the Bolyars' siege and infantry.
- Do not underestimate your Konniks. They are hardy Bulgarians who do not give up easily.
Your scouts report:
- The winter landscape is barren and harsh. The Light Cavalry and Cavalry Archers of the Tatars (2, Cyan) raid Bulgaria from the remains of the pillaged town of Tulcha in the west.
- The Bolyars (3, Yellow) have no interest in resisting the Tatars. They leave the villages to fend for themselves while they hide behind three fortresses in the east. They will ruthlessly suppress any semblance of peasant uprising with their infantry, siege, and Boyars.
- The crippled Tsar Konstantin (4, Green) leads his formidable retinue of warriors from a chariot in the town of Preslavets to the south. His disability has not hindered his ambition or cunning and he will ally with and use anyone who can help him maintain his power.
- Player (Bulgarians): Ivaylo, Hranislav and three cavalry escorts will start at the top of the map. Soon they will descend and ride to the villages being patrol by the Tatars.
Ally → Enemy → Potential Ally → Enemy
- Bolyars (Slavs): The Bolyars have three base. Some of their economic buildings scattered on the map. They will ruthlessly respond to Ivaylo´s uprising by send infantry, siege units and Boyars .
- Tsar Konstantin (Bulgarians): Konstantin and his elite troops are located at the southernmost point of the map. He immediately betrays the player once the Bolyars and the Tartars are defeated.
- Tulcha Tatars (Tatars): The Tatars has their base located at the namesake town. Their cavalry occasionally raiding and pillaging the remaining of the Bulgarian town.
Ivaylo starts with two heroes and a few units in a ruined town in the northern limit of the map. They are attacked immediately by three Tulcha Light Cavalry and one Mangudai. To avoid damage, send all units to attack the Mangudai; the Tatars will concentrate on Hranislav because he has the quickest attack, but he can take it and will regenerate all hit points shortly after. After dealing with them, a path will be discovered leading to a sizeable town and army in the middle of the map that will switch over to the player's control.
The player has two main challenges now. On the one hand, they cannot build Farms (except on standard difficulty), which will test their ability to micromanage and force them to rely on herding, hunting, fishing, and trading to collect food. Fortunately, the map is plentiful with resources, so the player can easily win without even using the Market. Scout early and extensively to find animals and supporters, build a Castle west of the base to deal with Tatar attacks, and defend the Villagers afar with the occasional Watch Tower or Krepost.
On the other hand, the player will be attacked constantly by small groups of Tulcha Tatars and (later on) Bolyars, who are more an annoyance than a danger even on Hard difficulty. The Tatars attack mostly with Light Cavalry, Cavalry Archers, and Crossbowmen, and the Bolyars with Boyars, Men-at-Arms, and Battering Rams. As the player has limited food, and most of these units have low pierce armor, the player might find Scorpions and Cavalry Archers surprisingly useful. Monks can also be used to convert Boyars and Bolyar buildings far from their three Castles.
Build a Siege Workshop and Rams to attack the Bolyar Castle in the northeast, as it is both the nearest and the least defended. If the player wishes to gain the Castle, they must stop attacking it when the Bolyar (King) exits and kill him, as written in the Hints; all of his buildings will switch to the player's control, including his Castle. However, this is not necessary, and the player can choose to leave the new base unprotected while the remaining Bolyars get distracted attacking it instead of the player's base.
After the first Bolyar is killed, Tsar Konstantin will give the player the option to ally with him or go to war with him. If the player is interested in playing a longer game, choose the first, and for a shorter one, the second. The ultimate result is the same:
- If the player allies with Konstantin, the Bolyars will switch to Ally and the player will be asked to defeat the Tatars. Advance to the Imperial Age, build Kreposts and supporting military buildings south and east of their base, and create Trebuchets to destroy their Castle and Town Center within the walls while using Halberdiers and ranged units to protect the siege engines. The Tatars will surrender and their base will switch to the player's control (though this will also happen if the player defeats the Tatars the old fashioned way). Konstantin will then ask the player to kill the remaining Bolyars, with their bases also switching to the player's control. After this, Konstantin will declare war on the player and the player will be asked to kill him.
- If the player chooses the second, the Bolyars will remain enemies and the player will be asked to kill Konstantin.
The fastest way to win the scenario is to ally with Konstantin, send strong units to surround him, then break the alliance and kill him. The scenario will be won half a minute after Konstantin's death (without the need to defeat the Tatars).
It is better to use the time between Konstantin's offer and the time that the player accepts it, to draw his army away from him; this will give the player more time to kill him before the player's units will be killed. The player can do so using a mounted unit or by building a building next to his camp before killing the first Bolyar (the path to Konstantin is blocked before that, so his army cannot attack the building as long as the player did not kill the firs Bolyar).
Konstantin himself has a sizeable Post-Imperial force of Boyars and Cavaliers and a town in the southwestern corner littered with Keeps, but no Villagers, and cannot create new units. There are two paths leading to his base: one near Tulcha that allows the player to attack Konstantin from the north, and a somewhat easier one that allows the player to attack him from the east, but forces the player to take out the southern bolyar first (who is protected by his own walled fortress and a camp northeast of it). Once the player gets toward Konstantin's base, destroy his outer Keeps with Trebuchets and use Halberdiers and Archers to kill the Boyars and Cavaliers as they come out. After a while, Konstantin will be left alone in his base. Rush it while ignoring the remaining Keeps and kill him to win the scenario.
Sometimes, the actions of others force us to make drastic decisions. Such was the case with Ivaylo. Whatever his intentions, the armed band he led grew beyond him. It became a force of fury. And of revenge.
Having overthrown their masters, the peasants took vengeance on the hated nobles, murdering their families before blinding them with scorching hot needles.
Ivaylo himself was said to have slain Konstantin. The tsar's severed head was carried by a horseman to Tarnovo, the capital. There, it was presented to the tsar's wife, Maria, and their seven-year-old son.
- No heroes are required to survive in order to win this scenario, not even Ivaylo. If killed, their deaths will not be acknowledged and they will appear alive later in the campaign without explanation.
- Georgi Terter will join Ivaylo if he chooses to ally with Tsar Konstantin. If not, he will remain loyal to Konstantin and most likely die with him. Again, he will still show up to join Ivaylo at Tarnovo in the following scenario.
- Tulcha (Bulgarian: Тулча) is the modern city of Tulcea in Romania, but then part of Bulgaria. Though Tatars and other nomadic Turkic peoples settled in the area through most of the Middle Ages, it remained de jure part of Bulgaria until its conquest by the Ottomans in 1420. Tulcea is also an important fluvial port in reality, as it is on the Danube delta, but the city in the map is landlocked.
- Konstantin's base Preslavets was a prominent Medieval trade center in the Danube delta but was later abandoned and forgotten. Its place is now occupied by the Romanian village of Nufăru.