Loose Ends is the third scenario of the reworked Bari campaign in Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition. It depicts the Second Battle of Cannae in 1018, in which the Byzantine forces of southern Italy fought the Lombard uprising led by Melus of Bari and their Norman mercenaries.

Intro[edit | edit source]

My father coughed and took another draught of wine. "Melus sought aid from Salerno, while Dattus fortified a tower on the Garigliano River. From there, they gathered support and renewed their strength.

Melus reached far for help. Lombards, Germans, and Apulians answered the call, eager for glory and plunder. But there was one more group whose help Melus enlisted!

A new generation of Norman adventurers, forebears of the scum who attack our city as we speak. It is because of Melus that this new menace is upon us.

In response, the Byzantine Emperor sent the general Basil Boioannes and an elite force of the fabled Varangian Guard to meet Melus in the field and crush the rebellion for good.

The armies drew up near the River Ofanto, not far from where the Romans had clashed with Hannibal of Carthage some twelve centuries earlier. The fate of the Mezzogiorno was about to be decided..."

Scenario instructions[edit | edit source]

Starting conditions[edit | edit source]

Objectives[edit | edit source]

  • Defeat Melus' Army.
  • Defeat the Norman Mercenaries.

Hints[edit | edit source]

  1. The Byzantine forces are restricted to a population limit of 125.
  2. Remember that the Byzantines can advance to the Imperial Age quite rapidly because they do not have to spend as many resources as most other civilizations to do so.
  3. Protecting your ally keeps the possibility open of acquiring additional gold through trade.

Scouts[edit | edit source]

  • Basil Boioannes (Purple) has taken his position in the northeast of the map, while his allies of the Varangian Guard (Blue) have camped to the south. The Varangian Guard will mostly rely on infantry such as Berserks and Long Swordsmen. Although their loyalty is beyond question, they will be in for trouble if they are attacked by Norman cavalry.
  • Your enemies, Melus (Orange) and his Norman Mercenaries (Yellow), have pitched their camps across the river. Melus will send infantry into battle and he will also construct rams and Trebuchets. The Norman mercenary cohort consists of heavy cavalry and Throwing Axemen (Serjeants in Lords of the West).

Players[edit | edit source]

Player[edit | edit source]

Allies[edit | edit source]

  • Varangian Guards (Vikings): they start in the South. the Varangian Guard is defended by just a couple of towers and a Castle, and will not build defensive walls. The Vikings field a strong army of Berserks, Skirmishers, and Scorpions that is very effective against Huskarls. They are scripted to reach the Imperial Age a second after the player.

Enemies[edit | edit source]

  • Melus' Army (Goths): they start in the North, directly opposite to the player, across the river. Melus will train Huskarls, rams, and Trebuchets, and will tech to the Imperial Age. His Castle is behind stone walls, but his base is mostly undefended, as Goths have no Stone Walls and the few Watch Towers in his base are fairly weak. He also relies on Villagers and Trade Carts that can be raided.
  • Norman Mercenaries (Franks; Sicilians in Lords of the West): they only have Stables, some Houses, a Castle, and a Market in order to trade with Melus. Their base is surrounded by a palisade. They will initially field Knights, but will reach Imperial Age together with Melus and upgrade to Cavaliers. Since they have no Town Center or Villagers, they cannot be raided.

Strategy[edit | edit source]

There is a lack of gold on this map, so the player's first priority should be building a Monastery and training some Monks to recover the Relics. There is one easy to reach to the west, between the player and their ally's base. The other is north across the river, closer the Melus' base. There is a tower so it would be wise to distract it with some troops while the Monks run the Relic. A Market for trade will help gold accumulation in the late-game.

While Bombard Tower is available for Byzantines, with update 42848, the Bombard Tower technology can no longer be researched in this scenario.

Outro[edit | edit source]

"Not unlike its predecessor, the Second Battle of Cannae was a massacre. The Lombards and their Norman allies were no match for Boioannes' strategic prowess and the ferocity of his Varangian troops.

Melus fled the field and sought refuge with the Pope, which sent him to the court of the Holy Roman Emperor. He gradually poisoned the minds of several influential courtiers and, eventually, the Emperor himself.

Melus died in exile, but the effects of his political machinations were soon to be felt throughout Italy."

Historical comparison[edit | edit source]

  • Following his defeat at Bari in the previous scenario, Melus spent several years in exile in Salerno, before raising a new Lombard force and convincing Norman mercenaries to join his cause. Assuring the Normans of an easy and profitable victory over the Byzantines, Melus' army quickly got the better of the Byzantines led by catepan Kontoleon Tornikios in two engagements and began Apulia. Tornikios was replaced as catepan by Basil Boioannes, whose army was able to deliver a devastating counter blow at Cannae, ending Melus' ambitions.
  • As in the previous scenario, the Lombards are again represented by the Goths in-game. Like the Goths, the Lombards were a Germanic tribe that migrated south and settled in Italy.
  • The Norman mercenaries are represented by the Sicilians after the Lords of the West update, replacing their earlier depiction as Franks. However, since the Normans had not yet begun their conquest and assimilation into southern Italy, they still use the Western European architectural style rather than their standard Mediterranean style.
    • Cannae was one of the first Norman ventures into Italy, but also a disaster: commander Gilbert Buatère and most his knights perished in the battle.
  • The Varangian Guard is portrayed as the Vikings. In real life, the Varangian Guard was an elite unit of Byzantine Empire, comprising recruits from Northern Europe. In 1018 its men were principally Swedes, but it also included Norse, Danes, Rus' and later Anglo-Saxons. In keeping with their Viking ancestors and the Berserk, the Varangians mainly fought on foot, relying on the Dane axe in combat.
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