Broken Stelae is the fourth scenario of the Yodit campaign in Age of Empires II HD: The African Kingdoms. In this scenario, Yodit has to win local tribes as allies in the fight against Gidajan and wrestle control of important stelae and the city of Massawa from him.
Outside the northern gate the camels groaned, irritated by the traders mounting the animals to begin the long journey back to the Ethiopian highlands. Daniel was already on the saddle, keeping a firm hand on the reins to avoid the camel from wandering off. He looked eager to return home.
Drivers urged their animals forward with loud shouts and cracking whips. Slowly, the long-stretched caravan began to move. As I took my place next to my son, the sun slowly began to rise along the hills. Not far from the gate, we passed a field of great stelae. Some stood tall, reaching for the sky, but most lay toppled, their pieces scattered over the ground.
'Father', Daniel asked, looking up at a towering stele, 'when we entered the city you told me that these stones marked the graves of the ancient kings. Do you think Dagnajan is buried here as well?' I shook my head while answering, 'No, my son. Those kings are long dead. Christian kings never used stelae to mark their burial place. Besides, the body of Dagnajan was never recovered. His two sons were too busy trying to slay each other.'
'So you told me last night', Daniel replied, suddenly remembering yesterday's story. 'A perfect opportunity for Yodit to strike! Oh, father, tell me about it!' I shifted my weight to sit more comfortably in the saddle before beginning: 'When the Aksumite Empire was divided in civil war between the brothers, Yodit ordered a fleet to be built. An invading force would cross the Red Sea and strike hard at Massawa, the most important harbor of the empire.'
- Defeat Gidajan by destroying his city.
- Capture and hold Stelae to earn additional resources.
- Loot enemy Monasteries by destroying them.
- Visit all of the local villages to obtain their support.
- Gidajan (Ethiopians) controls the city of Massawa in the very north of the map, across a river. He trains mostly Crossbowmen, Pikemen and Light Cavalry, as well as Mangonels, Monks, and a few Camels, and might also build a small fleet.
- Loyalists/Askumite Empire (Ethiopians) guard the various stelae and Monasteries cluttering the landscape, as well as the two river crossings to Massawa. Their units are numerous and diverse, but poorly equipped and they cannot train new ones.
- Tribes/Local Tribes (Ethiopians) dot the map. They will attack Gidajan once all of their villages are visited, but their unupgraded Feudal Age units won't make much of a difference.
- Rebels/Ethiopian Rebels (Ethiopians) is a placeholder player and won't affect gameplay directly.
Yodit starts the scenario with three Transport Ships, which will soon unload at the coast to take over a small village. This village contains the only gold mine and the only stone mine on the entire map, so after they are used up, the player has to rely solely on controlling stelae or plundering Monasteries for an income.
To take over a stela, all enemy units surrounding it have to be killed, and at least one military unit has to remain near the flag to guard it, else it will fall back under Gidajan's control. Each controlled stela provides a steady trickle of income of 50 units of the resource displayed at its base. A total of 7 stelae can be found on the map: 2 for Food, 2 for Wood, 2 Gold and 1 for Stone. As additional income the 3 Monasteries of Gidajan can be destroyed, netting a whopping 1000 Gold each. Wood is also fairly rare, but south and east of the initial village, additional decently safe forests can be found. The southern sea is inaccessible to Gidajan, so a few Fishing Ships can be used to boost the economy, but contrary to a popular saying there aren't that many fish in the sea, so they shouldn't be too heavily invested in.
At the beginning of the scenario, the player has some time to build up, as Gidajan's gate is locked until roughly the 13:30 minute mark. The initial units can and should be used to capture one or more of the stelae to support the economy, but the player should make sure to have enough left once Gidajan starts attacking, as his first spearhead boasts a Trebuchet. South of Yodit's village, her army can be bolstered with additional troops by approaching the tribe at the shore.
A possible strategy is to capture the Stone stelae (located southwest of the base, at the edge of the map) early to provide a constant and inexhaustible Stone income to fortify all stelae with Towers. Ethiopian Towers are fully upgradeable and they have a Line of Sight team bonus to boot and at least one military unit garrisoned inside a tower qualifies as a guard. The advantage of towers is that they can't be cleared by Gidajan as easily as guarding units, and they also save population room.
The goal of the scenario is to capture at least 5 stelae and destroy at least 2 Monasteries before razing Massawa, but it is recommended to take care of all of them before attacking. The other goal is to visit all of the 8 Tribes to convince them to join Yodit's cause. Once this is done, they will attack Massawa in full "force", but as mentioned above, their rather weak units mostly serve as cannon fodder. What's more, they player will receive a small army of unupgraded Shotel Warriors, which can be used to capture more stelae or to attack Gidajan. The optional goal is to build a Dock in the northern waters, where 5 Galleons spawn upon completion. On higher difficulties however, Massawa is fortified by Towers against a maritime attack, so Cannon Galleons would be necessary in order to mount an assault from the sea.
Once the grip on the countryside is secured, conquering Massawa isn't that much of a big deal. In an unobserved moment it might be possible to wall off the two river crossings to Massawa (after clearing the Loyalists guarding them) and fortify them with Castles, but this is not necessary. As Gidajan's army consists mostly of Crossbowmen, Pikemen, and Monks a good counter would be Elite Skirmishers and/or the infamous Ethiopian siege units, but they have to be protected from Shotel Warriors and cavalry. The Watch Towers guarding the Palisade Walls of Massawa have high attack but very low hit points, so they can be taken out with one Bombard Cannonball. Once they are taken out, the city can be stormed and when the Market, the Castle, and the Town Center of Massawa are destroyed, Yodit is victorious.
'Although Gidajan had managed to kill his brother and take the throne in the meantime, he had also lost the north to Yodit. Soon she would advance to the capital for the final battle.' Daniel whistled through his teeth as I finished. 'That must have been an exciting time to be alive, father', he exclaimed in admiration.
Before I could dispel his youthful naiveté about warfare, shouts arose from the front of the caravan to stop for the night. Had I actually spoken for the entire day?
- There are three horses at the right of the map standing over the sea. Unless the map is fully revealed (either by cheat code or when the game is over), the area where the horses stand cannot be explored by the player because the sea is surrounded by land and the Dock cannot be built along its coast.
- When the player sends a unit to a stelae, they should practice utmost caution as a trigger will cause all of Gidajan's units inside the base to the stelae that was just captured. To minimise this risk, it would be imperative to wall off the area with all the stelaes in it.
Bugs and changes
- Gidajan now has access to additional wood.
- Conquering all tribes now behaves as intended.
- Stelae should now provide the correct resources.
- Stelae should now only change ownership to the enemy AI if it has units next to it.
- Rebels color changed from green to yellow in Rise of the Rajas.
- In the Definitive Edition, the player color is changed from yellow to green.