You ask me if I know the epic of Sundjata, the founder of the Malian Empire? Ha ha! You were right not to seek out any ordinary djeli. What is a djeli, you ask? You must not be from around here! A djeli is a historian, musician, poet, and storyteller! I am Kouyaté, djeli and historian of the royal family. Listen well, and I will tell you of this man, Sundjata.
One day, a mysterious hunter arrived at the court of Naré Maghann Konaté, King of the Mandinkas. The hunter prophesied that an ugly woman would be brought to court to be presented as a bride. If the King accepted her she would bear him a son who would one day become the greatest king the Mandinkas had ever seen!
Years passed, and one day two hunters from the Do kingdom brought with them Sologon[sic], an ugly woman, hunchbacked, with an offering of marriage. Konaté remembered the prophecy and accepted. Sologon[sic] gave birth to a son, Sundjata.
For the first several years of his life, Sundjata could not stand upright. Through secret and magical arts, a blacksmith made a sturdy iron rod so that the boy might prop himself up on it, but even that broke up beneath him. Only when Sundjata found a branch from the sacred Baobab tree did he finally take his first steps.
Konaté's first wife seethed with jealousy, however. She saw no reason for this feeble son of a second wife to take the throne. In spite of the prophecy, she wished her son Dankaran, the eldest, to be the heir to the kingdom. When Konaté died, she exiled Sologon[sic] and Sundjata.
They fled from land to land, but each kingdom feared the wrath of the new King Dankaran and would not harbor them. Only the Mema, far to the south, did not fear the Mandinka. They are a people of proud warriors, and among them Sundjata learned how to hunt and fight. He left his disability behind, and became as fierce and strong as a lion! Before long, he was ready to take back his rightful place on the throne.
When he arrived, however, he found war already upon the kingdom: Sosso warriors from the far north had overrun the capital on the river, slaughtered the fearsome King Dankaran and all of the royal family, and claimed the land of the Mandinkas for their lord, Sumanguru!
- Starting Age: Feudal Age
- Starting resources: None; then 700 food, 500 wood, 450 gold, 50 stone
- Population limit: 75
- Sundjata must survive.
- Flee the city of Niani and seek refuge elsewhere.
- (subsequently) Defeat the Sosso scouts.
- The Malians are restricted to the Castle Age and a population limit of 75.
- Niani will no longer be your ally once it is conquered by the Sosso. Attacking them, however, is not necessary to achieve victory.
- The African wildlife is an excellent source of food.
Your scouts report:
- Sundjata is fleeing Niani (2, Orange), the capital of the Mali kingdom, and must find friends in the desert. The town of Kangaba (4, Yellow) lies west of Niani across the Niger River.
- Pursuing Sundjata are the Archers, Skirmishers, and Scout Cavalry of the Sosso Scouts (3, Red).
- Player (Malians) starts with Hero Sundjata being forced to leave Niani. Sundjata is required to get to Kangaba to the northwest, taking control of Spearmen, Light Cavalry, and Cavalry Archers on the way there.
Ally → Enemy
- Niani (Malians) is the (initially) allied city in the west part of the map. As soon as Sundjata steps out of the city limits, it will fall under Sosso control and will automatically change its stance towards the player to Enemy.
- Kangaba (Malians) is the smallest faction, comprised of a small town in the middle with several houses, a Town Center and a couple of towers, along with 4 Villagers and Goats. All of their infrastructures will be turned over to the player once Sundjata reaches their town.
- Sosso Scouts (Malians) is the main enemy faction in the map. They will mount a siege on Niani at the start of the level and some ambushes will be set along Sundjata's journey to Kangaba. Once the player has settled in the town, the Sosso Scouts will constantly be harassing them with Archers, Skirmishers, and Scout Cavalry (in the HD Edition, Battering Rams will appear if the player has built a Castle). All surviving troops east of the river (the ambushes) will be handed over to Niani. The scenario is won once their main base in the south-western area of the map is destroyed. In the Definitive Edition, the Sosso Scouts will have villagers to build an economy.
Finding a safe haven
At the beginning of the scenario Sundjata is in the city of Niani and is warned by a guard against an ambush by Sosso Scouts. As the hero is alone and has no chance of winning the fight, the player should head straight out of the city to the northwest while the allied guards try to hold off the attackers. Some (Gaia) Knights and Spearmen still loyal to Sundjata will join him outside the city limits, while the conquered Niani change their stance towards him to Enemy. They will remain a major enemy faction throughout the level, but will generally leave the player alone so long as they do not return and provoke them.
Further west is another ambush consisting of a few Long Swordsmen and two Scorpions. It is best to charge the Scorpions with Sundjata and the Knights while keeping the Spearmen safe for later. After the gorge the player can find a few loyal Cavalry Archers who tell Sundjata of their village Kangaba, which will provide a safe haven and a new base for him. The player can avoid most enemies by heading southwest towards the river and then following it, but should be careful not to wander in range of the Niani castle to the south. Right before the ford a few Crossbowmen will join the cause. The ford is guarded by enemy Light Cavalry and Camel Riders which can present a substantial threat to the Knights and Crossbowmen, but can be felled pretty quickly with some well-supported Spearmen. Cross the river and enter the village of Kangaba to take over the Villagers and buildings.
Defending the base
As soon as Kangaba becomes the player's territory, they should immediately build Palisade Gates to block the paths into the little village to protect the workers from incoming Sosso Scout raiders. The AI will not attack walls, so their Scout Cavalry and Spearmen cannot directly enter the base, but their Archers and Skirmishers will fire over them to attack other buildings and units. The player should create a few Villagers to gather food and wood inside the walls and build an Archery Range to create some Skirmishers as soon as possible to fend off the early attacks by the Sosso Scouts, which should not be underestimated. This is especially pressing on hard difficulty as the frequency of enemy raids will be much higher. A Blacksmith to research Fletching is also useful, but the player should keep in mind that the amount of wood that can be gathered in the base is very limited. Gold should be saved for advancing to the Castle Age.
As the Watch Towers do not enjoy upgrades by the player (because they are taken over from Kangaba, which was stuck in the Feudal Age), their defence capability would be limited over time, so the player may consider deleting them and building a new tower over the sites, in order to enjoy upgrades, especially Guard Towers.
A good tactic is to immediately upon arrival sneak some Villagers out towards the north where more food, wood and stone can be found, but make sure it is far enough away from the base so attacking enemies do not spot the vulnerable villagers when they attack the base. Use Sundjata to scout the surrounding area and find further resources. The Gold Mine right outside the village is very vulnerable to attack. The player can find other mines to the southwest, but one of them is protected by enemy Archers and a Mangonel. A relic can also be found to the northwest.
The Sosso Scouts army consists of hordes of Scout Cavalry, Archers, Skirmishers and Spearmen (only until some point), which they will upgrade with Blacksmith technologies (even Castle Age techs very early, even though they stay in the Feudal Age for the entire game) and at some point will also upgrade their units to their Castle Age counterparts. In the HD Edition, they will also send in waves of Battering Rams to take down the player's Castles, though only if they have actually managed to erect one.
As mentioned before, Skirmishers are a good way to deal with their early attacks while gathering enough resources to advance to the Castle Age and build a Castle, which is something the player should definitely do as soon as possible. A good spot to build the first Castle is either on the hill near the Gold Mine or to the southwest of the village to ward off enemy attacks. Carefully positioned and supplemented with Crossbowmen, it will make mincemeat of enemy soldiers, but be sure to protect it from Ram rushes when necessary.
Turning the fight
Once the survival of the Villagers is ensured thanks to the Castle, the player can begin to go on the offensive. A good unit composition would be of Knights and Long Swordsmen. As the enemy stops sending in Spearmen at some point, the Knights have no real opposition and the Malians even get Bloodlines. Malian Long Swordsmen are also strong because they get +1 pierce armor per age from the Feudal Age onwards, totaling +2 in the Castle Age and with the new Arson technology and their attack bonus they are able to take down buildings very quickly. The player can also mix in some Gbetos for ranged support, but they are very squishy, so make sure they do not get attacked. Monk support is highly recommended if the player is not adept at micromanaging troops to avoid damage. A few Mangonels or Battering Rams are also helpful for taking down the enemy towers.
To really put a nail in their coffin the player can also drop a Castle at the enemy gates, provided you can gather enough stone to do so, to pick them off right when they exit their camp.
Once the Sosso Scouts' production buildings are destroyed, Sundjata is victorious.
Sundjata barely escaped the raiding parties ravaging his homeland. As the only surviving man with a claim to the Mandinka throne, Sundjata would never truly be safe from the grasp of Sumanguru. Sundjata knew that he must tread carefully until the time was right, and hide from the Sosso scouts until he was strong enough to strike back!