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Black Guards is the fourth scenario in the El Cid campaign in Age of Empires II: The Conquerors. It is loosely based on the first two Almoravid campaigns in the Iberian Peninsula (1086-1089).

Intro[]

King Alfonso watched with alarm as the combined Christian-Moorish forces of the Cid gained power and prestige. Finally, he could stand it no longer, and sent his own army against Motamid's Moors at Zaragoza.

As much as he would have liked to come to the assistance of his friend Motamid, the Cid could not draw steel against King Alfonso, as he was still the Cid's rightful lord.

Since the Cid could not assist him, Motamid was forced to seek help elsewhere. When he contacted the Almoravid Berbers who lived beyond the sea in Gibraltar, however, he received more than he bargained for.

These veiled religious zealots waged a continuous jihad across the barren dunes of the Sahara.

Their leader, the fanatical Yusuf who never showed his face, immediately prepared to cross the ocean into Spain with thousands of men and camels. King Alfonso's army was certain to crumble beneath this new wave of invaders.

King Alfonso watched with alarm as the combined Christian-Moorish forces of the Cid gained power and prestige. Finally, he could stand it no longer, and sent his own army against Motamid's Moors at Zaragoza.

As much as he would have liked to come to the assistance of his friend Motamid, the Cid could not draw steel against King Alfonso, as he was still the Cid's rightful lord.

Since the Cid could not assist him, Motamid was forced to seek help elsewhere. When he contacted the Berbers who lived beyond the sea in Gibraltar, however, he received more than he bargained for.

These veiled religious zealots waged a continuous jihad across the barren dunes of the Sahara.

Their leader, the fanatical Yusuf who never showed his face, immediately prepared to cross the ocean into Spain with thousands of men and camels. King Alfonso's army was certain to crumble beneath this new wave of invaders.

Scenario instructions[]

Starting conditions[]

Differences between difficulty levels[]

  • On Standard difficulty, King Alfonso's base has a Castle, which will be given to the player with the rest of his base, and the player begins with Murder Holes researched.

Objectives[]

  • Follow the Knight in order to rescue King Alfonso.
  • El Cid must survive.
  • King Alfonso must survive.
    • Escort King Alfonso to his camp to the west.
    • Destroy the 6 Black Guard Docks.
    • OPTIONAL: Bring El Cid to the Black Guard Mosque.
    • OPTIONAL: Convert the Black Guard Mosque in return for aid in defeating Yusuf and the Black Guards.

Hints[]

  1. El Cid is restricted to a population limit of 125.
  2. Save King Alfonso as quickly as possible.
  3. If you wish to convert enemy buildings, you will need to research Redemption first (in the Monastery).
  4. The sea can be an important battlefield and a good source of food. Including a navy in your strategy may prove useful.

  • Save King Alfonso as quickly as possible.
  • The sea can be an important battlefield and a good source of food. Including a navy in your strategy may prove useful.

  • Scouts[]

    • El Cid's forces (1, Red) are allied with those of King Alfonso (2, Blue).
    • There are three enemies, the Black Guard Army (3, Cyan), the Black Guard Navy (5, Yellow) and Yusuf's Elite Guard (4, Green). The two land armies field mostly camelry and siege units. The navy trains War Galleys and Pikemen. All three of your enemies have walled cities with many towers, so try using Trebuchets and garrisoned Battering Rams against them. Eventually you may need to build a navy as well. You can construct your Docks within the city of a vanquished enemy or in the no man's land between the cities.

  • Your scouts report: El Cid's forces (red) are allied with those of King Alfonso (blue).
  • There are three enemies, the Black Guard Army (cyan), the Black Guard Navy (Yellow) and Yusuf's Elite Guard (Green). The two land armies field mostly Camel Rider and siege units. The navy trains Galleys and Spearmen.
  • All three of your enemies have walled cities with many towers, so try using Trebuchets and garrisoned Battering Rams against them. Eventually, you may need to build a navy as well. You can construct your Docks within the city of a vanquished enemy or in the no man's land between the cities.

  • Players[]

    Player[]

    • Player (Saracens AoE2 Saracens): The player starts with the starting army at the very north of the map.

    Allies[]

    • King Alfonso's Army (Spanish AoE2 Spanish): King Alfonso's Army has a small fortified town in the west of the map. Cid must safely bring Alfonso there and gains control over the city once the job is done. King Alfonso's Army resigns shortly afterwards.

    Enemies[]

    • Black Guard Army (Berbers AoE2 Berbers (Saracens AoE2 Saracens before the Definitive Edition)): The Black Guard Army has a sheltered base between the cliffs in the very south. They have a forward base in the Black Guard Navy's base, however. They mostly train Cavalry Archers.
    • Black Guard Navy (Berbers AoE2 Berbers (Saracens AoE2 Saracens before the Definitive Edition)): The Black Guard Navy has their base at the southern-central part of the map. They also have a Mosque in the western part of the map that is the key object for the optional objectives. As the name suggests, they have a strong navy.

    Strategy[]

    Bring El Cid and his army to follow King Alfonso's Knight to the battlefield in order to rescue King Alfonso (a Gaia unit who will immediately come to the player's control). Make sure both El Cid and the King survive the whole scenario.

    The player needs not to engage in the battle between King Alfonso's Army with the enemies (the player's forces include Conquistadors which cannot be replaced as they are playing with the Saracen faction, so do not lose them in this battle if they are needed later), just group the King together with El Cid's army and bring them towards the king's base (blue), where the whole base will switch to the player's control.

    In this scenario, the Fortified Wall upgrade is disabled for the player.

    As the player discovers the Black Guard Navy's Mosque, the monks will request El Cid to meet them at the Mosque; they will ask El Cid to send a Monk to convert the Mosque. Make sure that Redemption has been researched before converting the Mosque. Once the Mosque is converted, the Monks will suggest to destroy the Transport Ships of the Navy, and at the same time also invite the player's Monk to stay at the mosque so that they could teach all Monastery technologies (except Devotion) for free, but obtained at a slow rate.

    Destroying the Black Guard Army's Town Center in Africa will force them to resign, while forcing Yusuf to resign requires destroying his Town Center and his Castle.

    Even though the player is asked to destroy all six Docks of the Black Guard Navy, they may actually choose to convert them instead.

    Alternative strategy[]

    Encounter the Black Guard Army and lose all military except for El Cid and the Conquistadors. Take El Cid, King Alfonso, and the Conquistadors to Alfonso's Base. Gather food for additional Villagers, and wood and stone. Build a second Town Center at the northern wood line inside the base. Once the player has enough stone for a Castle, take the remaining army to the huge gold pile in the middle of the map, just outside the Black Guard Navy's fortifications. Use El Cid to take down the Black Guard Navy's tower and build a Castle in its place. Use the Conquistadors to hunt down the Black Guard Navy's Villagers. Build a University and research Murder Holes, Ballistics, and Masonry. Build a third Town Center close to the gold pile and start gathering gold. If the player is quick with this, all three enemies will attack the player's Town Center and Castle and leave the player's base alone.

    Research everything related to archers. Build 4-5 Archery Ranges and garrison Archers inside the Castle. Gather food to progress to the Imperial Age. If food is short inside the base, further south are two Boars and some Berry Bushes. Gather wood in the north of the map if needed and build Farms inside the base. Once the player hits Imperial Age, upgrade the archers and research the remaining technologies related to them. Build 2-3 Siege Workshops and upgrade the rams to Siege Rams.

    It's possible to crush the Black Guard Navy with a steady stream of Arbalesters and Siege Rams. Additional gold can be found south of the Wonder close to the shore. Once the Black Guard Navy's base is cleared, build a Castle on the shore and a couple of Docks. Train Galleons and 2-3 Cannon Galleons to take out the Docks.

    Once the Docks and the Transport Ships are destroyed, the player has won.

    Outro[]

    Alfonso needed only have mentioned that Spain was in jeopardy, and the Cid would have come! And when the Cid did finally come to his king's aid, the Berbers were crushed, and their leader, Yusuf, was forced to flee back to Africa.

    The Cid bowed to Alfonso, ready to return to his rightful place as the king's champion. But King Alfonso was angered that the Cid had not arrived sooner and ordered him to return to his exile.

    This time he seized the Cid's wife and children. Many long years did I rot in the dungeons of Castile.

    Alfonso needed only have mentioned that Spain was in jeopardy, and the Cid would have come! And when the Cid did finally come to his king's aid, the Berbers were crushed, and their leader, Yusuf, was forced to flee back to Africa.

    The Cid bowed to Alfonso, ready to return to his rightful place as the king's champion. But King Alfonso was angered that the Cid had not arrived sooner and ordered him to return to his exile.

    This time he seized the Cid's wife and children. Many long years did I rot in the dungeons of Castille.

    Trivia[]

    • The cutscenes make clear that Yusuf and the Black Guards are Berbers, but they were played by Saracens (and in Reconquista, by Turks) because the Berber civilization was not introduced until The African Kingdoms. In the Definitive Edition, all of their players are changed to Berbers.
    • Yet, El Cid plays as Saracens in both versions despite coming back from exile, taking control of Alfonso's town (and Alfonso himself), and even having Conquistadors at his service in the beginning.
    • The same general area is depicted in the first scenario of the Tariq ibn Ziyad campaign, but the environment is radically different, mostly green and with large oak forests.
    • If the Black Guard Navy's mosque is discovered by a Villager of the player, the monk will "give blessings" to the Villager before asking for El Cid. If the mosque is discovered by a military unit of the player, the monk will beg not to destroy their mosque before asking for El Cid. Even if it is El Cid who discovers the mosque, the monk will not recognise him (thinking him as a regular military unit) until he arrives right in front of the mosque. The mosque monk will not react towards the players Monk until the meeting with El Cid.
    • While Yusuf is described by the narrator as having the habit of never showing his face, a relatively detailed description of his appearance does exist.
    • Devotion is not one of the technologies granted by the friendly Mosque, even though its subsequent upgrade, Faith is. This is because Devotion was introduced in update 99311 and the scenario was not updated for it.

    Historical comparison[]

    • The Black Guards are based on the Almoravids, a militant islamist movement in Medieval West Africa. The real Black Guard was just the personal guard of the Almoravid leader, and called such because it was made of slaves from the Ghana Empire. The current Moroccan Royal Guard claims descent from the Black Guard.
      • The change could be for narrative purposes, or from confusion due to the Almoravids dressing in Tuareg style, which often uses dark veils and turbans (the Iberian Moors called them "the veiled ones" for this reason). In the 1961 movie El Cid, Yusuf and his followers dress completely in black.
    • The Black Guard Army base corresponds with Ceuta (taken by the Almoravids in 1084), and the Black Guard Navy base with Tarifa, which the Almoravids took from Al-Mutamid of Seville in payment for fighting Alfonso in 1086, claiming they needed it to secure their crossing. For the 1089 campaign, the Almoravids landed in Gibraltar, east of Tarifa like Yusuf's base.
    • Neither Alfonso nor El Cid fought the Almoravids in Tarifa, but Alfonso had occupied it during the earlier Toledo campaign against Al-Mutamid, in 1082.
    • As in the scenario, the first battle between Alfonso and Yusuf at Sagrajas was a decisive Almoravid victory, but El Cid was not present as he was still exiled. Years later, El Cid sent a cavalry force under his son Diego to help Alfonso in the Battle of Consuegra (1097). The Almoravids won and Diego was killed.
      • If the player defeats the Black Guard Army in the first battle, a stronger "second wave" under Yusuf will attack, forcing to flee to Alfonso's Castle. This combines Sagrajas (where Alfonso prevailed over Al-Mutamid early on, but was defeated by Yusuf's fresh forces), and Consuegra (where the Almoravids won the field battle and took the city, but Alfonso withstood the Castle's siege).
    • A third inspiration is the Almoravid siege of Aledo (1089). Alfonso requested El Cid's help but he was delayed for unknown reasons; this enraged Alfonso to the point of treating El Cid like an outlaw, seizing his properties in Castile and imprisoning his wife and daughters (implied in the game to have happened during the first exile rather than the second).
    • The Black Guard Navy Mosque sidequest doesn't fit well the Almoravids, a fundamentalist movement who defended all-out war with the Christians to the point of rejecting Dhimmah and persecuting their own Christian (and Jewish) communities. It better lines with Iberian Muslim rulers who decided that the Almoravids were more dangerous than Alfonso and started collaborating with him (like Ibn Rashiq of Murcia, who switched sides at Aledo and caused the failure of the siege). For their part, the Almoravids considered that the Iberian Muslims were corrupt and believers in name only, and started deposing them from 1090.

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