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An Unlikely Alliance is the second scenario of the Ivaylo campaign in Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition. It depicts the alliance between Ivaylo and Maria Palaiologina which led to his ascension as the Tsar of Bulgaria.

Intro Edit

After her husband's murder, the tsarina ruled a kingdom in disarray. Though this would have challenged even the most capable tsar, the dark-haired Greek princess was greater than most men.

Beautiful and cunning, Maria Palaiologina Kantakouzene was a daughter of two of the greatest families in Constantinople. She had wed the tsar on the orders of her uncle, the emperor, but her byzantine[sic] guile proved as much a benefit to her husband.

When a rival bolyar threatened Konstantin's rule, Maria offered to adopt him as her son and heir. The opportunistic bolyar accepted and feasted in the tsar's court, only to be found dead shortly afterward. Poisoned.

But now, with an uprising in the countryside and scheming bolyars in her own court, it would take all of Maria's cunning to preserve her power. But a more threatening menace came from her own uncle...

The headstrong Roman Emperor Michael Palaiologos demanded his niece's submission. The tsarina, just as strong-willed, refused.

Furious that his own niece stifled his ambition, the emperor chose an exiled prince to place on the Bulgarian throne. Ivan, the returning son of the Asen dynasty deposed by Konstantin, led a great Roman army in order to retake his father's kingdom.

The tsarina alone could not defeat the Romans. Nor could Ivaylo challenged both the tsarina and Ivan. The logic of these facts dictated a most unlikely alliance: between a rebel leader and the wife of the Tsar he murdered.

Scenario instructions Edit

Starting conditions Edit

Objectives Edit

  • Capture and hold the Church of the Patriarchs.
  • The Church of the Patriarchs must not be destroyed.
  • Enter Tarnovo to fulfill the Tsarina's request.

Hints Edit

  1. You are restricted to a population limit of 200.
  2. The Yantra River is too shallow for large war vessels. You will not be able to construct any.
  3. The land is boggy and many areas are unsuitable for buildings. You will need to defend the Church of the Patriarchs with units instead of walls and towers.

Scouts Edit

Your scouts report:

  • The city of Tarnovo, on the Yantra River, is ruled by Tsarina Maria, who seeks an ally in her war against her pretender Ivan Asen.
  • The two claimants to Bulgaria's throne are battling for control of the Church of the Patriarchs, the seat of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. Whoever controls this Wonder will have claim over the Bulgarian tsardom.
  • Ivan Asen attacks from west and east. Both of his armies field infantry, but his western force (3, Green) musters Konniks and Cavalry Archers, while his eastern wing (4, Yellow) fights with Boyars and Monks.
  • Ivan is aided by the Romans (5, Cyan) in the south. Their Cataphracts are dangerous, but their base lacks walls.

Players Edit

Strategy Edit

The easiest way to claim victory is to first secure the base. Move the initial army into defending the base. Periodically, move a Knight or two near the Wonder to reclaim it to ensure that the timer does not get too low. This must be done when no enemy troops are nearby. Once the player has built up a few Castles (2-3) to defend the base, go to the nearest Monastery holding Relics and grab them. That should provide additional gold income for troops. 

It is recommended to train a mixture of Pikemen and Archers or Skirmishers, followed by cavalry. Once the player has built a significant force, claim the Wonder and defend it. The player can build several small towers to help defend it. 

Then just wait out the timer and hold the Wonder. Near the last few moments, one of them will come out and send a large force of cavalry and horse archers to attack. If the player's base is well defended with Castles and troops, the player should have no problem fighting them off. 

Outro Edit

Ivaylo's army filled the Yantra River with Roman dead, securing Maria's place on the throne. Now, the tsarina had to fulfill her end of the bargain. As Ivaylo approached the gates to the fortress, Maria waited silently for the man who had killed her husband.

As Ivaylo stepped before her, the tsarina placed the tsar's crown, once worn by her husband and father of her child, on the swineherd's head, crowning a peasant a king. The objections of the watching nobility were silent but palpable.

Then, in a hasty ceremony, Maria wed the newly crowned tsar, tying her fate with his.

Trivia Edit

  • As Bulgarian history shows, it is not that 'unlikely' for a tsar to marry the widow of the previous tsar, as this was the case with tsaritsa Anisia and tsars Kaloyan and Boril (the latter being nephew to the former through being the son of his sister). Kaliman II Asen did the very same thing with the widow of his cousin Michael II Asen whom he murdered during a hunt.
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