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Harbinger of Destruction is the third scenario of the Tamerlane campaign in Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition. It is based on the conflict between Tamerlane and Tokhtamysh.


The blasts of wind intensified, snuffing out some of the torches within the hall. Servants bustled about, tending to the meat roasting over the fire. The scent of cooked birds, game, and mutton filled the air.

This was the first time that Tamerlane's forces had ventured into Europe. The winters were harsh, and Tokhtamysh surely hoped that the biting cold and far-flung supply lines would prove too much for the wily tactician. The armies of the Golden Horde burned crops and took all they could carry as they retreated.'

Tokhtamysh knew that Tamerlane would show no mercy. Terrifying reports reached his ears of torched villages and mountains formed from the bones of the slain. Wherever Tamerlane went, it seemed that flocks of carrion birds were never far behind. Entire towns surrendered upon hearing of the brutal destruction of one of their neighbors.'

'Tokhtamysh had no choice but to engage the rampaging forces of his enemy. The armies met near the banks of the Kondurcha River, sometime during the early weeks of the summer. Crows and vultures circled above the field, an ominous foreshadowing of the carnage to come.'

Scenario instructions[]

Starting conditions[]

Main objectives[]

  • Defeat the enemy forces blocking your way across the icy ford.
  • Destroy 2 of Tokhtamysh's 3 power centers (Sarai, Astrakhan, and Azov).

Secondary objectives[]

  • Capture the town of Ryazan by killing the garrison defending it.
  • Destroy enemy storehouses (Trade Workshops) to capture the food stored there.
  • Destroy the Italian merchant colony near Azov that is supplying Tokhtamysh's forces.
  • Send messengers to parlay with the Volga Bulgars and the two chieftains of the Golden Horde.
    • Tribute 1,000 wood to the Volga Bulgars.
    • Deliver 2 Siege Towers to Timur Qutlugh.


  1. Tamerlane's forces cannot advance past the Castle Age or muster a population larger than 150. Utilize the durability of Tatar horsemen and the looting abilities of Keshiks to compensate for this.
  2. Farming and building Docks or ships is impossible in the midst of the harsh Russian winter. Look for other ways to feed your army.
  3. Ryazan is renowned for its siege engineers. Perhaps your soldiers will be able to locate plans for advanced siege equipment there.
  4. Your enemies rely on supply stores scattered around the map. Destroying these will allow you to claim the provisions for your own.
  5. A secondary Timurid army is marching through the Caucasus to reinforce Tamerlane. Take advantage of its arrival to catch your enemies in a pincer movement.


Your scouts report:

  • Tamerlane's army of cavalry (1, Purple) has arrayed itself on the eastern bank of the icy Kondurcha River. Facing them on the opposite side is Tokhtamysh's army of Light Cavalry, Cavalry Archers, Volga Bulgar horsemen, and Russian infantry.
  • To the northwest lies the Russian city of Ryazan (4, Grey), a dependency of Tokhtamysh. Its army consists mostly of Light Cavalry and Skirmishers led by the local Boyars.
  • The city of Astrakhan (6, Orange) lies to the southwest where the Volga meets the Caspian Sea. Its army initially consists of Keshiks and Pikemen, but will eventually field Kipchak cavalry and swordsmen.
  • Tokhtamysh's capital of Sarai is located in the center of the map. Sarai relies on an army of Mangudai and Light Cavalry, but may add siege weapons to the mix as well.
  • To the southwest, where the Don River flows into the Black Sea, is the city of Azov (7, Green). Azov is defended by Boyars and swordsmen, but will deploy Pikemen to counter the Timurid cavalry forces.
  • Across the river from Azov is a colony of Venetian and Genoese merchants (8, Blue) that supplies the enemy forces. Destroying it would be quite a blow to their war effort.
  • The Golden Horde (2, Yellow) and the Volga Bulgars (3, Cyan) have camps in the west, north, and east of the map. Though initially loyal to Tokhtamysh, they may be persuaded to turn against him given the proper set of circumstances.



Enemy → Ally[]

  • The Golden Horde (Tatars)
  • Volga Bulgars (Bulgarians): The Volga Bulgars have a small encampment in the northernmost part of the map. After siding with Tamerlane, they will supply the player with periodic tributes of food and Konniks.



The player starts this scenario in a pitch battle across a half-frozen river. Pull back the troops to make them more compact, which will allow the player to fight the enemy's melee unit first without support from the enemy's Cavalry Archers. Note that a second enemy wave quickly reinforces the first, with two backstabbing units that come from both north and east, thus the player's compact troops will be able to respond as opposed to having the Cavalry Archers exposed to melee attackers. When the battle is over the player recieves 2,000 food, 1,000 wood, 1,000 gold and 500 stone. As soon as the battle is over, send the melee cavalry straight north into the cyan player's base to "impress" him to become an ally. He requires 1,000 wood; send it as soon as possible, as he will tribute 1,000 food every 10 minutes, so it is best do that within the first few minutes of the game. In addition, he will also send 5 Konniks together with the food, unless the player already has more than 25 Konniks.

Build a base[]

The map is divided in 3 areas by 2 rivers (Volga and Don), so these can be referred to as as west, central and east banks. There are various ways to travel around the map, but the east bank area close to the starting position offers good hunting grounds. It also puts the player away from one of the 3 enemies (Azov), and offers 3 crossings for Sarai and Asov to attack. Astrakhan will be a thorn in the player's side for the first half of this scenario though. The player will not be able to build Farms, so Villager micro will become priority. Right from the moment resources are available, build one Town Center close to the map edge near the gold mine and another slightly south in the decent-sized forest. Use 1-2 builders to build Houses to wall off access to the base from the northern river crossing where the battle took place. Once the economy is improved, use most Villagers on wood and some on stone, tribute the Volga Bulgars, and hotkey 2 groups of 6 hunters for only 12 Villagers on food. The player will get supplement for food for raiding and allying with the Volga Bulgars. Hunters tend to wander around either getting killed by enemy attacks or just becoming idle, so the player will need to watch them, but expect a few losses. Prioritize boar lure when able, then deer while waiting to expend.

Build the first Castle rather rapidly on the hill just next to 2 fishing holes. After some time, the red player will send a force of about 20 Mangudai to attack the player. To fend off this attack, engage the enemy head-on with Cavalry Archers while the heavy cavalry move in a fishing hook pattern to attack from the rear. This will prevent hit-and-run tactics as the enemy will run back into the Cavalry Archers. Once the enemy is defeated, build a second Castle south of the fishing holes, so the two Castles can support each other.

Decisions, decisions[]

First, send cavalry to the Volga Bulgars, who demand 1,000 wood, then west to one yellow base and then southeast to another yellow base. Make sure they reach the second base, although it is okay if they don't return. They will offer alliance for 2 Siege Towers. When they receive these, they will declare war on all of the players opponents. Sarai attacks with a mixture of Light Cavalry, Cavalry Archers, Mangudai, and rams. Astrakhan attacks with Long Swordsmen, Pikemen and Kipchaks, making combined attacks annoying to deal with. Azov attacks with Scorpions, Long Swordsmen, Pikemen and Boyars. The Italian Merchants have Genoese Crossbowmen, Long Swordsmen and two Bombard Cannons, with a Castle, Watch Tower and Bombard Tower protecting the base. They also have 2 Merchantile Warehouses (Feitorias), some military production buildings, Market, two Docks (to trade with Azov), 1 Trade Workshop and some Houses. They do not attack the player actively, but defend their own base. As noted above, the Volga Bulgars (after receiving the desired tribute) will periodically provide the player with Konniks. Keep in mind that the Dismounted Konniks lack Chain Mail Armor, but the mounted ones may have access to Plate Barding Armor.

Although the player could claim Ryazan first, the player may be too hard-pressed on defense south of the base to be able to afford an attack force north, so the player can press on forward and attack Astrakhan first. After half an hour, Astrakhan will start building a Wonder. One way of dealing with this is to sneak in some Keshiks or Knights (durable), or any other cavalry or Cavalry Archers in Astrakhan while it is building the Wonder to kill all three Villagers (only two at a time are involved in building). Build a Castle outside its base on a hill with 2 to 4 Keshiks garrisoned in it to protect against its attacks.

When the Caucasus army becomes available, move it north, close to the mountain range to avoid any attack on Sarai. The two Trebuchets are key to cleaning up the Italian Merchants with ease. Use Trebuchets to clean up towers in its base, then the Castle (beware of the two Bombard Cannons), destroying which would research Plate Barding Armor. This, combined with the Tatar unique technology, gives the player's Scout/Light Cavalry 7 armor, negating the attacks of Mangudai and Kipchaks to 1 damage per arrow.

At this point, the player may have annihilated or near annihilated the Italian Merchants, defended against the attacks by Astrakhan, won both of the allies, defended against the raids of Azov and Sarai, so it is the best time to kill all units of Ryazan (avoid attacking the buildings to claim the buildings later). With Ryazan defeated, the player has finally unlocked Siege Ram, Onager, Heavy Scorpion and Siege Engineers. Now, with the Siege Workshop fully upgraded (only missing the Bombard Cannon), it is much easier to lay siege on the opponents. The Siege Ram upgrade is extra important because of its blast radius, which helps level cities significantly faster, especially since Azov has conjoined twin castles. Azov is the easiest to lay siege to, and Sarai is the hardest. Depending on play-style and the difficulty, the player can go for any two of those.

Looting of buildings[]

There are 11 Storehouses spread throughout the map: Ryazan has 1, Azov 2, Sarai 3, Astrakhan 3 and the Italian Merchants have 2. Destroying these grants the player 1,000 food each. In addition, destroying a Merchantile Warehouse gives the player 500 of every resource. Destroying the Italian market and the Sarai market outside of the base gives 1,000 gold each.

Besides giving the player resources, destroying these buildings also denies the opponents extra resources, specifically:

  • As long as Azov has a Storehouse and the Italian Merchants have both a Storehouse and a Merchantile Warehouse, Azov will receive 500 food, 500 wood and 500 gold every 5 minutes.
  • As long as Sarai has a Storehouse, Sarai will also receive 500 food, 500 wood and 500 gold every 5 minutes.
  • As long as Astrakhan has a Storehouse, Astrakhan will receive 500 food, 500 wood and 500 gold every 5 minutes as well.

Destroying these targets greatly limits the production capacity of the opponents, because the only other incomes they have are Trade Carts and Trade Cogs, as well as the income Merchantile Warehouses produce. The Italian Merchants tribute up to 500 of every resource every 5 minutes to Sarai, using the income of their Warehouses. 

The Ryazan Storehouse is the only Storehouse that does not contribute to income for the opponents, but since it is not guarded, it is still recommended to destroy it for the resources.


'Raging fires, torrents of blood, piles of ash, the clash of iron, and the screams of the dying. These were the horrors that Tamerlane visited upon the cities and people of the Golden Horde.'

The cities of Ryazan, Sarai, Astrakhan, Azov, and Ukek were reduced to rubble. All that remained aside from the ruins were the towers of bones that were built from the corpses of the dead. Those who survived were driven like sheep to march in unspeakable cold.'

Tokhtamysh had no choice but to flee west to Lithuania. Tamerlane was determined not to let the traitor escape, but word soon reached him of a rebellion within his homeland. Leaving the hunt in the hands of his two generals, Tamerlane swiftly returned home to restore the point of a blade.'