An Arabian Knight is the first scenario of the Saladin campaign in Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings. It is a simplified version of the Crusader invasions of Egypt (1154-1169), where Saladin first rose to prominence as a military leader, and of the actions in the Giza-Cairo-Fustat area in particular.
Egypt. A month since I entered the Holy Land...
I was in a foreign land. And I was dying.
I wandered the cold desert for four nights before the horse archers found me. I had abandoned my mount to the vultures and my armor to the heat of day. As a knight, I was not much of a threat to them.
I thought these men were Turks, come to toy with their prey. But when I could distinguish the riders from the blur of mirage, I saw that they were Saracens, the rulers of the Middle East. I had ridden to the Holy Land with the Crusaders from France and Normandy, so I was by all rights these Saracens' enemy.
Yet they gave me water and a spindly horse and led me back to their leader.
And that was how I met Saladin. The paintings in Europe show Saladin as demonic, barbarian. Yet he is more chivalrous than any knight I'd met before and prefers the palaces of Damascus to slaughtering Normans in the desert. I had not expected hospitality from Saracens - we Normans execute any armed Arab we capture.
But Saladin left me free to explore his camp. Perhaps he wants an objective observer to chronicle the prodigious bloodshed ahead.
Saladin's army is heading south to Egypt to reinforce Cairo. Egypt is a tempting prize for the Crusaders. She is fabulously wealthy, yet governed by an ineffectual fool. Before my capture, I was en route to join in the Crusaders' assault on Egypt.
It is a bitter irony that now I shall view the contest from the enemy camp. So it was that I found myself less than a hundred miles from the Dead Sea, in the company of my enemies.
- Starting Age: Castle Age
- Starting resources: 1,000 food, 1,000 wood, 1,000 gold, 1,000 stone
- Population limit: 75
- Starting units:
- Gaia units:
Differences between difficulty levels
- On Standard, the number of West Frankish troops guarding the bridge is reduced by half, there are no Egyptian Mamelukes guarding the short route to the Mosque, and a large group of East Franks protecting their Town Center (including an Onager) is removed.
- On Hard, a few more West Frankish Crossbowmen patrol the desert, and the East Frankish Town Center is better defended with another Guard Tower, more Pikemen, and an additional Onager.
- Defeat the Franks west of Cairo.
- Get your soldiers to the Mosque in Cairo.
- Defeat the Franks east of Cairo by destroying their Town Center.
- Get your soldiers to the Mosque in Cairo.
- You will not be able to train additional soldiers in this mission. Keep an eye on your army to ensure that you do not lose too many men.
- Use the line of sight of your Light Cavalry to avoid unwanted encounters.
Scouts (Definitive Edition)
- Saladin's army (1, Green) has gathered in the north, near the Nile, in order to help the Egyptian caliph repulse the Crusader siege of Cairo.
- The Frankish crusaders have established camps in the west (3, Blue) and in the east (4, Cyan) Their armes consist mostly of Knights, Men-at-arms, Pikemen and Crossbowmen.
- Cairo (2, Red) the Egyptian capital, is located in the center of the map. The city has a small garrison commanded by Mamelukes.
- Player (Saracens): The player starts with Saladin's army in the northern corner of the map.
Allies → Enemies → Allies
- Egyptians (Saracens): The Egyptians control Cairo which takes up most of the center of the map. They also have some Pyramids and Farming areas west of the river. Initially allied, they change their diplomatic stance to enemy before Saladin's army reaches Cairo. However, when his army reaches the Mosque in Cairo, they change their stance back to ally and also give the player additional troops (10 Camel Riders, 6 Cavalry Archers, and a Siege Ram. The player will additionally be given a Monk on Hard). They attack the player sparsely with a few Archers, Camel Riders, and Mamelukes.
- West Franks (Franks): The West Franks have troops scattered over the western part of the map consisting of Knights, Crossbowmen, and Men-at-Arms. They also control the bridge to the south.
- East Franks (Franks): The East Franks have an army camp east of Cairo. They field Knights, Crossbowmen, Pikemen, Onagers, and a Monk.
Frankish crusaders are attempting to capture the city of Cairo, and Saladin's forces set out to stop them. In this scenario, the player cannot control any buildings or create units. The first objective is to defeat the West Franks. Their forces consist mainly of Knights, Men-at-arms, and Crossbowmen. Begin by assigning control groups to each type of unit and moving south. Camel Riders/Mamelukes effectively counter their cavalry, Scorpions will take care of massed swordsmen, and Crossbowmen are vulnerable to Light Cavalry. Despite the objective given in the scenario, the player does not have to destroy all of their soldiers and military buildings. Simply focus on taking out the units that actually attack the player's forces rather than trying to round up all of them.
Once the player reaches the bridge to Cairo in the south or inflicts too much damage to the West Franks, the Egyptians will announce that they do not trust Saladin and will ally with the Franks. The new objective is to persuade them to change their mind by positioning a soldier outside their Mosque. Continue southeast across the bridge. If the player destroys the West Franks' Blacksmith, the player's units will be granted the Chain Barding Armor technology. The player will also capture a Cannon Galleon. Before entering the city, the Egyptians will attack. Their forces consist mainly of Archers and Camel Riders. They shouldn't be too much of a problem for the army as long as the player stays away from the city, since there is a dangerous Guard Tower near the entrance. Destroy the Gate with the Cannon Galleon, as well as the frontal Guard Tower. The best way to get to the Mosque is with the Light Cavalry, as the player only needs to reach the Gate outside in order to fulfill the objective. An Egyptian Monk may try to convert the player's units - try to ignore him, as he will heal the troops after the Egyptians become allies once again.
Upon reaching the Mosque, the player will be given more units (Camel Riders, Cavalry Archers, and a Siege Ram. A Monk is provided if the player is playing on Hard). To win, the player must destroy the East Franks' Town Center. Assign control groups and head out of the city. The enemy base is surrounded by a ring of Guard Towers, and it's advisable to knock one down with the Siege Ram. The player should try to protect the ram - the Franks will go after it with Knights, Onagers, Pikemen, Crossbowmen, and one Monk. Garrisoning infantry inside is advisable if the player is playing a version of Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings that includes The Conquerors expansion. It's not hard to win even if the Ram is destroyed though, as long as the player eliminates all of their units. Attack the Town Center as soon as it's safe.
The Franks are dispersed, and the Egyptian army broken. Saladin has taken his place as governor of the Nile. Any European king would seize this opportunity to eliminate his political rivals. Saladin, however, allowed any Egyptian opposed to his rule to leave the city unharmed.
Saladin has set out to win over the population. In Cairo, he built mosques and palaces, universities and hospitals. My own countrymen, the sons of Europe, showed naught but treachery, while the Saracens work to dignify their civilization. It is a troubling turn of events and I have difficulty sleeping.
- This is the only campaign scenario that takes place entirely in Africa before the release of Age of Empires II HD: The African Kingdoms. In Lord of Arabia, Black Guards, and Reconquista, the player has the opportunity to land forces in Africa after starting in another continent.
- Although the cutscenes introduce Saladin as the leader of the Saracens already (and famous in Europe), he actually first came to Egypt under the command of his uncle, General Shirkuh, who was in the service of the Zengid ruler of Syria, Nur ad-Din.
- The Saladin hero unit does not appear, as it was introduced in Age of Empires II HD: The Forgotten. However, the two Mamelukes the Player starts with are a possible allusion to Saladin and Shirkuh, given their commanding position.
- Losing any or both of them does not affect game play.
- The narrator fears that his captors are Turkish horse archers. Turkish horse archers were particularly feared by Crusaders, although mostly due to their use of Parthian Tactics.
- The "ineffectual fool" ruling Egypt could be Al-Adid, the last Fatimid Caliph of Egypt, who was ruler in name only; or most likely his Vizier Shawar, who made the same illogical changes in alliances as the Egyptians in this scenario. Shawar also razed his own capital Fustat when he thought it was about to fall into enemy hands. It was then rebuilt by Saladin as part of nearby Cairo, which is alluded to in the post-game cutscene as Saladin directing several construction projects after taking over the city.
- Though played by Franks, the Crusaders that invaded Egypt were from the Kingdom of Jerusalem and the Hospitaller and Templar orders. This isn't a mistake since most of them were French and all Crusaders were called "Franks" by the Saracens, but it contrasts with later scenarios where Jerusalem is played by Byzantines and the Hospitallers and Templars by Teutons.
- The post-game cutscene claims that Saladin behaved unlike a prince of Europe when he respected the lives of his political opponents. In real life, Shawar was executed by Shirkuh after Shawar betrayed him in 1164 AD; then the timely deaths of Shirkuh, Al-Adid, and Nur ad-Din all within five years allowed Saladin to take over both Egypt and Syria.