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La Noche Triste is the fourth scenario of the Montezuma campaign in Age of Empires II: The Conquerors. It is based on Tenochtitlan's uprising against the Spanish Conquistadors on June 30 - July 1, 1520.


Passed down to you by Cuauhtémoc, prisoner of Tenochtitlan. The next omen we did not see, but heard: the voice of a weeping woman who cried in the night that she could not hide her children.

Indecision plagued Emperor Montezuma. Was this man Quetzalcoatl, or was he just a man? As the emperor brooded, the citizens grew restless. Cortéz kept a close watch on the emperor, and soon Montezuma became a prisoner in his own palace. Thus did the Spanish take Tenochtitlan without a siege.

The Spanish collected all of the gold they could find. They were not interested in our art or ornaments, but merely melted down the gold for return to Spain.

They also outlawed any further sacrifice to the gods. When the priests protested, they were killed.

The citizens and warriors of Tenochtitlan were enraged. We knew, even if our emperor did not, that these men were not gods.

Riots broke out in marketplaces and at the palace. When Montezuma himself appeared on the walls urging the Aztecs to be at peace, the people threw stones at him. It was time to remove these so-called gods from Tenochtitlan!

Scenario instructions[]

Starting conditions[]

Differences between difficulty levels[]

  • The higher the difficulty, the faster Cortéz's Wonder is constructed.
  • On Standard, the initial Jaguar Warrior boasts a whopping 350 HP, 3 additional Eagle Warriors and a Monk join his forces early on, and Cortéz has fewer Mangonels guarding Tenochtitlan.



  • Destroy the Spanish Wonder to end their influence in Tenochtitlan.


  • Rescue the Aztec warriors held prisoner by the Tlaxcala.
  • Travel across Lake Texcoco, where you may safely gather resources.
  • Use Monks to capture Spanish villagers from Tenochtitlan.


  1. The Aztecs are restricted to a population limit of 100.
  2. You will need to sneak around Spanish and Tlaxcalan soldiers until you are ready to fight. Avoid conflict if you can.
  3. Use your Eagle Warriors to scout the path ahead. Use Pikemen and Skirmishers to fight any Spanish Conquistadors you might encounter.
  4. It is acceptable to damage the buildings of Tenochtitlan even though they once belonged to your people. The city can be rebuilt once the Spanish are driven out.

  1. You will need to sneak around Spanish and Tlaxcalan soldiers until you are ready to fight. Avoid conflict if you can.
  2. Use your Eagle Warriors to scout the path ahead. Use Pikemen and Skirmishers to fight any Spanish Conquistadors you might encounter.
  3. It is acceptable to damage the buildings of Tenochtitlan even though they once belonged to your people. The city can be rebuilt once the Spanish are driven out.


Your scouts report:

  • A single Aztec Jaguar Warrior (1, Green) leads the resistance. He must gather forces along the shores of Lake Texcoco before venturing into Tenochtitlan (3, Yellow) in the center.
  • The Tlaxcala (4, Red) have gathered in force along the north shore of the lake and along the causeways. They have many Eagle Warriors and a few Monks.
  • The Spanish (2, Blue) occupy Tenochtitlan. Their Conquistadors, Missionaries, and Mangonels could be trouble for the Aztec infantry.


  • Player (Aztecs): The player starts with a single, but powerful Jaguar Warrior on the western landmass. Several Gaia soldiers, ships, and buildings can be collected by exploring the map along the western, northern, and southern lands.


  • Conquered Aztecs (Aztecs): The Conquered Aztecs possess most buildings in Tenochtitlan, a large city built on an archipelago on the center of the map and connected to the lands around by three long causeways. They do not build an army, but have a tiny navy. Their Castles and Guard Towers help Cortéz defend against the Aztec resistance.
  • Cortéz (Spanish): Cortéz occupies Tenochtitlan and is the primary opponent of the player. They begin building a Wonder right at the start of the scenario, which the player must destroy to win. Their forces largely consist of Halberdiers, Conquistadors/Elite Conquistadors, Missionaries, Battering Rams, Mangonels, Cannon Galleons, Galleons, and Heavy Demolition Ships.
  • Tlaxcala (Aztecs): Tlaxcala is based in the north and has pockets of Jaguar Warriors and Crossbowmen at the western part of the map, mostly around the western causeway to Tenochtitlan.


To win, the player must destroy Cortéz's Wonder. The player will lose if they lose all their starting military. The player will also lose if Cortéz's Wonder stands for 300 years.

The player starts with a lone Jaguar Warrior with boosted stats, seemingly meant to represent the campaign's narrator Cuauhtemoc, though the unit's survival is not necessary to complete the scenario. Cortéz immediately starts building a Wonder in Tenochtitlan (always with one Villager only), which must be destroyed before the time runs out. Move south to get some Gaia soldiers and Houses, then north to get more, including a Monk (except in Hard difficulty). A new objective will appear requesting to free more prisoners from the Tlaxcala base in the north. East lies the beginning of Tenochtitlan's western causeway; ignore it, for it is guarded by several Tlaxcalan Jaguar Warriors and leads straight to a Tlaxcalan Castle, Scorpions, and Arbalesters. Instead advance along the western end of the map until reaching two Gaia Transport Ships, which are guarded by three Eagle Warriors only. Kill them and board the transport ships. Sail north but close to the western side still, avoiding the Tlaxcalan Castle.

At the other shore there are two Conquistadors, which can be easily killed by Pikemen (and in the Definitive Edition, by Skirmishers). Move further to the northern end of the map to capture a "jaguar pen" (several wild Jaguars confined within Palisade Walls), next to a Tlaxcalan Monk. Without approaching the Monk, open the pen by deleting any piece of the palisade and the jaguars will kill the Monk and disappear shortly after. Continue east along the north landmass to obtain an Onager and kill 6 Tlaxcalan Jaguar Warriors.

A few more Gaia Eagle Warriors are found right before entering the Tlaxcala base, defended by one Watch Tower. The objectives tell to not waste time destroying the Tlaxcalan buildings, focusing on killing soldiers and moving on. Still, it is rather easy to destroy the Tower in the Definitive Edition even with only the Eagle Warriors, because the player starts with Arson researched. Alternatively, the units can walk past outside of the Tower's range by walking along the shallows on the lake shore. Eventually another Palisade pen is reached, containing several more Gaia soldiers including Jaguar Warriors. Use both to destroy the Palisade and turn south to walk the northern causeway, which is defended by coming Tlaxcalan Arbalesters and a War Galley from the Conquered Aztecs. Don't go east because there is another Tlaxcalan Castle there. The War Galley can be lured to the shore and destroyed or converted (which will sink it, as the Conquered Aztecs start with Heresy researched). Cross the causeway to Tenochtitlan's Docks and obtain two Fast Fire Ships and several Transport Ships defended by two Conquistadors only.

The next objective is to cross the lake to the southern landmass, capture several Houses and a Monastery, and set up a base there, but it is possible to win the scenario without doing so. With micromanagement, the Wonder and its builder are both vulnerable to Onager shots from the Dock area, and reachable by units after destroying one of the Conquered Aztecs' Gates there. The only challenge is keeping such units out of range from the two Conquered Aztec Castles behind the Wonder, and dealing with the Mangonels, Halberdiers, Conquistadors, and Missionaries that Cortéz will throw at the player in this area.

If crossing the lake is the chosen path still, the ships must be kept out of said two Castles and Cortéz's navy. An easy way is to make a sharp turn towards an island northeast of Tenochtitlan, then turn south and unload near the revealed area. Explore and get the Houses, Monastery, many resources, and two Monks. A new objective appears telling to capture Villagers from Tenochtitlan so they can build a base for the player. The obvious way is walking or sailing the Monks along the southern causeway and capturing some Villagers from Cortéz before returning (after/while researching all possible Monastery technologies, due to the HP boost they give Aztec Monks), though this can be tedious due to the low speed of Monks. The player will also have to deal with Cortéz's warships and Missionaries in the area. Another option is to sail back to the Tlaxcalan base north while keeping away from Tenochtitlan and capture Tlaxcalan Villagers instead, because they are less protected than Spanish Villagers (even more so if the player does not listen to early advice and takes out the Tlaxcalan Watch Tower and Barracks, which will make the Tlaxcalans unable to train Eagle Warriors).

Take the Villagers home south, build a Town Center, and produce more Villagers and resources. Fortifying the entry to the southern causeway may sound tempting, but ironically, this will spur Cortéz's Navy to attack the area, while building near the Monastery will result in the Spanish largely ignoring the Aztec base. Instead, build a Blacksmith and military buildings, heal the starting forces and buff them with as many technologies as possible, then break into Tenochtitlan and go for the Wonder while avoiding needless engagements. The destruction of the Wonder alone results in the scenario being won.

A quick way of destroying the Wonder consists in landing an army in the same area where the player got the Transport Ships and then destroying the Wonder with Trebuchets. The player only has to be careful with enemy Mangonels and Heavy Demolition Ships (the player should avoid having units too close to the water and if they spot a Heavy Demolition Ship they can use a weak unit to lure it into exploding without killing any other units).

Alternative strategy[]

Alternatively, this level can be beaten in 5 minutes by following this strategy:


Age of Empires 2 - Moctezuma, Misión 4


The Spanish called it la noche triste, which meant "the night of sorrows" in their language. At first, the Spanish barricaded themselves in our homes and palaces, but we continuously attacked their quarters.

With stones, slings and arrows, we drove the Spanish and Tlaxcalans through the streets of Tenochtitlan and across the three bridges or over the walls into Lake Texcoco.

Thousands died. Those Spanish that were not killed by macanas or javelins were drowned by the weight of the treasure they refused to leave behind. Tenochtitlan lay in ruin, but the city was ours again.

Many brave Aztec warriors died that night as well, including noble Montezuma. The Spanish claimed that our own people had killed him with thrown stones. Thus it was a night of sorrows for us as well. So says Cuauhtémoc, defender of Tenochtitlan.


  • The same map is used in the sixth scenario, but with the player in control of Tenochtitlan and each enemy in one of the landmasses. In this case, the place occupied by the Spanish Wonder is occupied by the player's Aztec Wonder.
  • The destruction of the Wonder triggers Cortéz's resignation and victory being declared both for the player and the Conquered Aztecs, despite being enemies.
  • If the starting Jaguar Warrior is indeed Cuauhtémoc (as suggested by his voice actor and buffed stats), the scenario is the only time in the campaign where he appears in person. An Eagle Warrior hero called Cuauhtemoc was added in The African Kingdoms, but not to the campaign.
  • The scenario can be won in less than five minutes if the player hugs the water to sneak by the Tlaxcalan troops and Castles in the western causeway, shrug arrow fire and move onto the barely built Wonder to destroy it.
  • Ornlu the Wolf is among the many wild animals in the island northeast of Tenochtitlan.
  • Since the Conquered Aztecs represent the Aztecs loyal to Montezuma, this campaign was the only one where the player fights against the title character (excluding the campaigns named after places, Bari and El Dorado) until the release of Dawn of the Dukes, where the player fights against one of the two campaign title characters in the last scenario of the Algirdas and Kestutis campaign (though that is way more explicit in this second case as the player is required to kill that same title character).

Historical comparison[]

  • The location of the Spanish Wonder in Tenochtitlan corresponds to the real location of the Great Temple, which is the Aztec Wonder in the game. Unsurprisingly, when Tenochtitlan is controlled by Cuauhtemoc in the final scenario, the place formerly occupied by the Spanish Wonder is occupied by a completed Aztec Wonder instead.
    • In real life, Cortez removed the images of Aztec gods from the Great Temple and placed a cross and an image of the Virgin Mary that remained until the Aztecs retook the city. Later, the Spanish destroyed the Great Temple and built the Mexico City Cathedral on top of it, so representing Spanish influence wih a Spanish Wonder in the Great Temple's location is fitting.
  • The killing of the Aztec priests is a reference to the Toxcatl Massacre (May 22, 1520), when the Spanish launched an unprovoked attack on an Aztec festival at the Great Temple after allowing its celebration. Spanish sources give conflicting reasons for the attack but all blame Pedro de Alvarado, whom Cortez had left in charge of Tenochtitlan while he went to fight Pánfilo de Narváez. Montezuma was killed while trying to calm down people protesting said massacre prior to the Noche Triste, rather than during it.