Crossing the Pyrenees is the fourth scenario of the Tariq ibn Ziyad campaign in Age of Empires II HD: The African Kingdoms. After Tariq and Musa were forced to return to Damascus, the Umayyad Caliphate have found a new leader, Abd ar-Rahman al-Ghafiqi, who wants to take vengeance against the Franks for invading their lands 10 years ago. But to reach the land of the Franks, he must take his army across the treacherous mountain ranges of the Pyrenees.
732 AD, year 110 of the Hegira...
After many years, our people have finally found another glorious leader to follow. Seeking vengeance for the defeat of our armies at the hands of the Franks over ten years before, Abd ar-Rahman al-Ghafiqi has rallied our armies for another campaign.
Bred on the battlefield, al-Ghafiqi is no stranger to the ways of war. In additions to successful forays against the Visigoths, Asturians, and Franks, his most recent exploit was the quelling of a rebellion by the Berber governor in Catalonia.
To reach the land of the Franks, we must make a dangerous crossing of the Pyrenees. To arrive at the other side in time for spring, we will be forced to start this journey in the dead of winter.
The rugged terrain is difficult for armies to cross, and our enemies will surely seek to hinder our passage. Many men will not survive the journey.
I grow old, but I will make this journey through the frigid mountains so that I might see another year of conquest.
- Umayyad Army (Saracens): They have a small camp at the northern edge of the map, across the Pyrenees mountain range. The player's main objective is to bring Abd ar-Rahman al-Ghafiqi, at least 15 other soldiers and at least one supply cart to their camp. Other than this, they have no role in this scenario.
- Locals (Goths): They have a small camp at the southern edge of the map, where the player starts, along with two villages - one at the western edge and another one near the south-eastern edge of the map. Once the player brings their army to these villages, the player will get some particular Blacksmith upgrades. Reaching the village on the east will give all the non-ranged units of the player one more armor and two more pierce armor (i.e. Plate Mail Armor and Plate Barding Armor will automatically be researched). Reaching the village on the west will give all the units two more attack (i.e. Blast Furnace, Bracer and Chemistry will automatically be researched).
- Asturians (Goths): They are present along the central part of the map and have a large fortress at the center of the map, which should be avoided at all costs. They will have a large army of Cavaliers, Hussars, Heavy Cavalry Archers and Halberdiers waiting to ambush the player's army right at the start. They will again have a large army waiting for the player near the end of the journey once the player has crossed the cliffs at the sides of the map.
- Basques (Celts): They are present on the western part of the map and mainly train Woad Raiders, Halberdiers, Light Cavalry and Cavalry Archers. They have a large base to the north-west of the Asturians' base, which must also be avoided. They have small batches of 5-10 soldiers patrolling almost every part of the western side of the map, particularly the two cliff faces at the southwestern and northwestern edge of the map. They also have a few Watch Towers spread across the area.
- Visigoths (Goths): The Visigoths are present on the eastern part of the map and have a well-balanced army of infantry, cavalry and ranged units, along with Scorpions. They will also have an army ready to ambush the player at the start, along with Asturians' army. They have a strong base to the east of the Asturians' base which, again, should be avoided. They also have batches of soldiers patrolling different parts of the mountain and have a few Watch Towers placed at strategic points.
(If the player has trouble with the cliff pass, the hero can heal through the cold damage. Send him in to pick off some targets and lure the enemy back to an ambush. Be careful - the player loses if he dies)
There isn't much of a strategy that can be used in this scenario. It all comes down to how well the player can micro-manage their army and make correct decisions about whom to fight and whom to avoid. The objective is to bring al-Ghafiqi, at least 15 other soldiers and at least one supply cart (Trade Cart) to the Umayyad Army camp in the north.
The player starts at the southern edge of the map with a huge army comprising all types of units - infantry, cavalry and archers. They also have 3 Trade Carts which must be carefully protected throughout the journey. Since the entire army cannot be selected at once, the player should divide the army into two groups of roughly equal size. There is a large army of the Asturians and Visigoths waiting outside the starting area to ambush the player's army, so a good tactic is to send one cavalry unit near them, lure as many enemy units as possible back to the army, and use the rest of the army to kill the enemy units. Repeat until all the Asturian and Visigoth soldiers have been killed.
Now the player has an option to either go right towards the Visigoths or left towards Basques. Both will eventually take the player to the camp at the north but it will be slightly easier to go right towards the Visigoths, because there are fewer soldiers on that side. Going right, the player will face two separate groups of Visigoth soldiers, which should be defeated by the earlier tactic - luring enemy soldiers using one cavalry and killing them with the rest. After this, the player will reach the Local village on the east which will research Plate Mail Armor and Plate Barding Armor for the player.
After reaching the Local village, take one Hussar and 3-4 Heavy Camels and go back to where the Asturian army was standing. From here, the player will be taking this small army to the western Local village to increase the attack of their soldiers. Head towards the western village and whenever the Basques soldiers start attacking, the player should micro-manage their cavalry away from the enemies and continue westward. If the enemies get too close, sacrifice one of the Heavy Camels to fight the soldiers and take the rest of the cavalry forward. Don't sacrifice the Hussar because the player needs its line of sight. Eventually, the team will reach a cliff face.
Don't spend too much time at the cliff face because it will start damaging the units, at the rate of 1 HP every 5 seconds. Just like before, micro-manage the team of cavalry to evade the enemies and if they come too close, sacrifice one Heavy Camel. After crossing the cliff, the village will be just a little further. Once the cavalry have reached the village, every unit of the player will get 2 more attack.
Now go over to the real army. Crossing the cliff face will be the trickiest part, because it is a long way up and all the while, the player's units will slowly keep losing HP. This will be where the micro-managing ability of the player is put to the test. The trick is to keep the two armies united as much as possible. Use the ranged units to attack the enemies that are over the cliff and use melee units to attack the ones that are right in front of the army. If a Scorpion starts shooting at the army, use a few Cavaliers and aim at the Scorpion. Micro-manage the army so that the ranged units are attacking the Halberdiers and melee units are attacking everyone else. Don't forget to bring the Trade Carts along as well. There will be four Visigoth patrols throughout the cliff face and good micro-managing will be essential to get out of there with as many soldiers as possible. Do not go after every enemy soldier. In fact, try not to trigger their response. Only attack those which are in the way, or which have been alerted and are following the player's army. Similarly, do not waste troops trying to attack Watch Towers, ignore them and move forward.
After the player has come out of the cliff face, most of their army would be pretty low at HP. It would be a good idea to rest a little to let the Camel units regenerate their lost HP (using the Berber unique tech). Once they have recovered fully, go forward. There will be a single Visigoth Watch Tower here, which the player will have to destroy. Once it is destroyed, going a little further will reveal an Asturian camp, with lots of infantry and a few Scorpions. Again, use the luring tactic to deal with them, but this time, since all of the player's units are in critical condition, bring the archers in front, so that they can kill the infantry without taking any hits. Of course, the player will have to micro-manage them well to not take any hit. Use the melee units only to attack Huskarls and Scorpions and take out everything else with archers. Repeat till all Asturian soldiers have been killed.
After dealing with Asturian soldiers, bring the army to their camp and head north. There is a patrol of Basques soldiers waiting here. Attack them using the luring tactic. Then, moving forward, there will be a final group of Basques soldiers waiting. Attack them using the same tactic, but be very careful of Scorpion shots because they can take down a lot of soldiers at once since everyone is so low on health. After defeating them, bring the Trade Carts along with al-Ghafiqi and the army to the camp and the player is victorious.
Truly, I have not endured such a trying journey in the entirety of my life. The cold and cruel winds were like nothing I have ever experienced, and the fear of enemy ambushes lurking behind every bend is enough to drive a man mad.
Between the elements and enemy blades, many of our men perished on the crossing. Nevertheless, we arrived in considerable force on the other side. It is more than many hoped for.
We have little time to rest and recover our strength. The Franks will not lie waiting forever.