Liberation? is the fourth scenario of the Devapala campaign in Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition - Dynasties of India.
'It is one's own mind, not their enemy or foe, that lures them to evil ways,' said the Buddha.
As I feared, our emperor had indeed changed. The seed of self-righteousness, planted long ago and nurtured by uninterrupted success, had begun to bear fruit. In Devapala's mind, the ends now justified the means, no matter how terrible or costly...
...and so he ordered a campaign to the south to subjugate the Pandyas — a proud people who were former allies and trading partners of his — and bring them the teachings of the Buddha.
When word of this reached me, I burst into my emperor's chambers, begging him to reconsider. 'Needless aggression is not the mark of a virtuous ruler,' I said, 'and forced conversion only thickens the resolve of a people against the creed. '
I told him that this war would cost thousands of lives and bring suffering to countless more, but the words that once guided him towards the path of light now fell on deaf ears.
It is as one nears the summit of the mountain that the footing becomes most treacherous. Now, all that I could do was helplessly watch as the armies of a tyrant descended upon a new victim.
- Starting Age: Imperial Age
- Starting resources: 1,500 food, 1,000 wood, 1,000 gold, 200 stone
- Population limit: 150
- Starting technologies: Chemistry
- Defeat the Pandyas by destroying their Castles.
- Destroy the Rashtrakuta Wonder.
- Destroy enemy Castles to conquer settlements.
- Defeat the Pandyas while killing fewer than 100 units.
- Devapala begins in he Imperial Age but is restricted to a population limit of 150.
- Be aggressive. You have a limited number of Villagers and can fish the sea. but your main source of supplies will be conquering enemy settlements.
- Bengali ships regenerate hit points over time — preserving damaged ones will save you precious resources.
- Do not destroy what you can conquer. Leveling an enemy Castle will give you control of the nearby buildings.
- Concentrate on your objectives. Delay too much and you could quite well run out of resources!
Your scouts report:
- Devapala (1. Yellow) and his forces approach Pandya and are ready to expand their domain to the south.
- The Pandyas (3, Green) control several settlements along the Bay of Bengal. Their forces of infantry and ranged units are initially no match for the Pala army, but should be dealt with before they are able to bolster their resistance.
- The Rashtrakutas (4, Purple) rule the lands beyond the mountains to the west, northwest and north. Their foot soldiers and elephants have not engaged the Palas yet, but as a known rival they should be watched with caution.
- Player (Bengalis): The player starts in the northeast of the map with a sizeable army of elephants, Rathas, Monks, Huna Horselords (Keshiks), and a small navy. They have all military buildings and some economic buildings, including Docks, as well as Villagers and Fishing Ships, but without a Town Center or the option of building one to replace fallen Villagers.
- Local Inhabitants (Dravidians): These communities dot the map and fall into the player's control when the nearby hostile Castles are destroyed.
- Pandyas (Dravidians): Their settlements lie along the coast and each of their bases are protected with a Castle, military buildings, infantry, and archers. They will also attack the player with their navy.
- Rashtrakutas (Dravidians): Their realm lies to the west and consists of three bases with infantry and elephants, and will attempt a Wonder victory if the Pandyas fall.
The player should begin by making a few Trebuchets to snipe Pandyas' Castles, while sending Rathas to deal with the token forces. At this point, a navy is unnecessary, since most of the action will be on land, but one could opt to go for Cannon Galleons to take out the first two Castles from the sea (the third is out of range for even fully-upgraded Elite Cannon Galleons). The player should not completely ignore the sea, however, because they will need to fend off the Pandyas' navy, and they will want to harvest the abundant fish in the water. When fighting enemy ships, the player should try to micromanage their ships to avoid losses, since Bengalis ships regenerate health over time. For each Castle that falls, the surrounding base will become the player's, and they will receive a tribute of resources. It is also possible for the player to kill less than 100 enemy units during the first phase, but since the Pandyas will occasionally send attack waves at the player, they need to take out the Castles with haste. If they succeed, three Monks with Relics will appear next to the player's starting Monastery. Once all of Pandyas' Castles are down, the player should turn next to Rashtrakutas. By this time, Rashtrakutas will start going on the offensive and build a Wonder, putting the player on a time limit.
The player will find a spare Castle with a few military production buildings near Rashtrakutas' cities. A dock with some Galleons is recommended to intercept enemy units attempting to cross the river. The player should advance onwards until they reach the Wonder. Once the Wonder is razed, the scenario is won.
Alternative strategy I
Alternately, the player could choose to wall off the base, then build up the navy. Once all but one Dock has been destroyed, set the Pandayas to Neutral, and camp near their remaining Dock. Trade until the player has a massive economy, and then a massive military. Destroy the castle, and sweep right through to the Wonder before it is completely built.
Of course, the player does not have to resort to this strategy to obtain the achievement "Construction Cancellation", but this method all but guarantees it. However, this strategy likely will result in failing to complete the "kill fewer than 100 enemies" objective due to enemy attack waves that will be shot down by the player's Castles, and the fact that the player will likely have to deal with enemy ships coming out of the remaining Dock.
Alternative strategy II
For an easy strategy to beat this on hard, research Fast Fire Ship and build an extra 4-6 Fast Fire Ships and fend off the enemy navy. Build a number of extra Fishing Ships to ensure that the player has plenty of food for the rest of the scenario. A few land units will attack at the same time, but the initial army can take care of this. Just be sure to garrison the gold Villagers to protect them.
Once the water is secure (with the Fast Fire Ships on defensive patrol protecting the Fishing Ships), build 2-3 Trebuchets and take down the first enemy Castle, ignoring all other buildings and holding back the army to only defend the Trebuchets. Research Bracer and then Elite Skirmisher and Elite Elephant Archer when the resources are available, and build both of these units when affordable.
Repeat this for the second and third castles, aiming for 4-6 Trebuchets by the last Castle. The player may want to build a few Halberdiers to take care of any Elephants, but this is not 100% needed.
The player should get to 150 population by the time they are taking on the first/second Purple Castle, and can delete the ships when they start attacking purpl,e as they are no longer of use either. Use the same Trebuchets/archers combo as before, supported by Monks (which can be upgraded as needed), along with the extra Monks from killing less than 100 units - which should have been easy if the player moved fast after taking water control.
The scenario can easily be completed in 30-35 minutes, with only 2000 hit points on the Wonder at the most if the player prioritizes taking out Castles and nothing else, aim for a total building kills number of <20 even including the final battle against Purple.
If the player wishes to obtain the achievement "Construction Cancellation", there is a set of Barricades at the right side of Purple's most northern base where the Wonder is being constructed. The player can build an army of Rathas (at least 30-40 Rathas), rush them to the northern base to destroy the Barricades, and use the Rathas to destroy the Wonder.
“You only lose what you cling to,’ said the Buddha.
Devapala found that to be all too true. The more he tightened his grip on the south, the more it — or perhaps more accurately its ashes — slipped through his fingers. My emperor and his bellicose cousin had created a nightmare.
There was no cheer or pride to be felt as the Pala army struck its tents and began the long march back home. The stench of death and smoke choked the air, punctuated by the haunting wails of the broken people that my emperor and his forces left behind.
Tormented by the recognition of his arrogance and its price, Devapala breathed not a single word during the entire weeks’ long journey home.
- "Liberation?" deals with Devapala's military campaign to liberate Sri Lanka from the invading Pandya king Sri Vallabha in 846.
- The achievement "Construction Cancellation" can be obtained by destroying the Rashtrakuta Wonder before it is completed.