The Holy City of Medina. Year fifteen of my capture...
Volumes have I filled with my fatigued writings. Lord Saladin reads them only rarely. He speaks of greater events yet to come.
The political boundaries in this endless desert have shifted as a result of three Crusades. Four Crusader states now exist in the Holy Land.
After the Saracen victory in Egypt, the Crusader leaders realized that Saladin was worthy of their concern. They were quick to suggest a treaty.
I hoped that with peace at last upon us, I would be returned to my own folk, but this peace, so short-lived, is already broken.
And it is not Saracen, but Crusader that has violated his word of honor. Reynald de Chatillon, a wicked French knight, has been raiding Arab territory in defiance of the treaty.
He attacks trade caravans, and his pirate ships threaten the Saracen holy cities of Medina and Mecca. Saladin, in his fury, has sworn to kill Reynald with his own hands.
- Starting Age: Feudal Age
- Starting resources: 500 food, 200 wood, 200 gold, 100 stone
- Population limit: 75 (100 in the Definitive Edition)
- Starting units:
Differences between difficulty levels
- On Standard, Reynald's Pirates and Raiders are missing a few Guard Towers, while the group of Bandits guarding a gold deposit in the northwest is missing a Mangonel.
- Defeat Reynald's raiders, bandits, and pirates.
- The Town Center of Aqaba must not be destroyed.
- The Town Center of Medina must not be destroyed.
- Defeat Reynald's pirates.
- Defeat Reynald's raiders.
- Do not allow your allies of Aqaba and Medina to be defeated.
- Saladin is restricted to the Castle Age and a population limit of 100.
- Keep your allies' trade routes open and they will reward you.
- Assign units to guard allied Trade Carts.
- The Saracen capital can spare little to get you started. You must develop your own base and army.
- Keep your allies' trade routes open and they will reward you.
- Assign units to guard allied Trade Carts.
Scouts (Definitive Edition)
- Saladin's army (1, Green) operates out of a small encampment to the south, which lies in the middle of an important trade route between the allied cities of Medina and Aqaba.
- Aqaba (3, Yellow) lies to the north. It has moderately strong defenses, but will fall easily to a concentrated assault.
- Medina (2, Orange) is situated in the east. It is almost completely undefended and vulnerable to enemy attacks.
- Reynald has constructed a naval base in the west (4, Blue) and a large camp in the northeast (5, Cyan). He will attack with warships and Knights, possibly also training Archers, Skirmishers, Mangonels, and Battering Rams. Additionally, several bandits (6, Red) have been wreaking havoc on the trade routes.
- Player (Saracens): The player starts with a small base in a rather central position close to the shore with a small army of Light Cavalry and Camel Riders.
- Aqaba (Saracens): Aqaba lies in the north. Protected only by Stone Walls and two Guard Towers but no army, it needs the player's aid to survive. Losing their Town Center will result in the player's defeat.
- Medina (Saracens): Medina lies in the east. Their Town Center and Market are just surrounded by a few Houses and not protected at all. Losing their Town Center will result in the player's defeat.
- Reynald's Bandits (Franks): Reynald's Bandits are scattered over Arabia and the Sinai Peninsula, mainly attacking Aqaba and Medina Trade Carts passing by them. They do not actively attack the player unless provoked. They also guard a Stone Mine at the northern tip and a Gold Mine in the northwest. They consist of Knights, Crossbowmen, and Archers, and have a Mangonel among those who guard the Gold Mine.
- Reynald's Pirates (Franks): Reynald's Pirates are based in Egypt (in the west), and also have a forward Dock at the southern part of the Sinai Peninsula. They are the only player that can advance to the Imperial Age. They frequently attack the player and/or Aqaba with Galleys/War Galleys/Galleons, Fire Ships/Fast Fire Ships, Cavaliers/Paladins, Onagers and Trebuchets. Losing their Town Center and having less than two military units left causes them to resign.
- Reynald's Raiders (Franks): Reynald's Raiders are based in the northeast and frequently attack with Skirmishers/Elite Skirmishers, Archers/Crossbowmen, Scout Cavalry/Light Cavalry, Knights, Battering Rams, and Mangonels/Onagers. Having less than five civilian units causes them to resign and Reynald de Chatillon (under this faction) to make a brief appearance at the southwest of Sinai Peninsula.
To win, the player must defeat Reynald's Raiders (Cyan) and Reynald's Pirates (Blue). Reynald's Bandits (Red) do not need to be fully defeated. The player will lose if either Town Center in Aqaba or Medina gets destroyed. In this scenario, the player cannot advance to the Imperial Age.
As the closest neighbor, Reynald's Raiders will attack the player and Aqaba the most often. Their base is located in the northeast, and they cannot advance beyond the Feudal Age (Notes: In the Definitive Edition, this has been changed. Reynald's Raiders will advance to the Castle Age (around 20 minutes after game start on moderate difficulty). They produce Crossbowmen, Elite Skirmishers, Knights, Onagers, Battering Rams and Light Cavalry.). Their forces consist almost exclusively of Archers and Skirmishers, though they will have a few other units (Knights and a Battering Ram) at the beginning. Reynald's Pirates' base is on an island in the far west, who will amass a formidable navy uncontested. They will advance to the Castle Age and then to the Imperial Age, during which they will attack the player with Galleons, Fire Ships, and eventually with unit landings as the game progresses comprised of villagers, Paladins, Trebuchets, and Onagers. Reynald's Bandits are a ragtag group of Knights and Crossbowmen. They cannot create units and their main purposes are to harass Trade Carts and guard resources.
The player's allies are Aqaba in the north and Medina in the east, sending Trade Carts and Trade Cogs to each other's Markets and Docks, respectively. In addition to protecting their Town Center's, the player should defend their markets and docks, which will produce trade units that draw the enemy aggro. If the player is able to fend off attacks using those distractions and protect the trade units long enough, the player's allies will tribute gold as they generate it. Medina and Aqaba will not rebuild destroyed markets and docks. Even if all the Trade Carts are gone, the player may tribute wood and gold for them later so that they will create new trade units. Medina is rarely threatened, but Aqaba will be under siege for several attacks near the beginning of the game. There is a relic north of Reynald's Raiders' north gate.
Starting up and protecting Aqaba
Immediately upon starting the scenario, research Cartography. (In the Definite Edition, a villager will be spawned and will automatically build a market.) This will allow the player to see what their allies' line of sight, which will help reveal a good portion of the map and help the player plan defenses. Next, create more Villagers (aiming for at least three on each resource, plus a few more to build and repair). The player's starting base has gold, Deer, and Forage Bushes. Medina has stone, gold, and Sheep. The player has the option to move lumberjacks closer to Medina for safety.
The player should next immediately send their starting military north towards the site of the intro cutscene. The player should send several units to Reynald's Raider's north gate to intercept several sheep on their way inside. The remaining units should travel to Aqaba's walls to collect the rest of the sheep. Aqaba and Medina's trade carts will switch sheep alliances, so the player can escort the sheep back to base with their units and station several behind to catch any stragglers.
The player starts without any major buildings other than a Market and a Town Center. The first one building to build is an Archery Range. The player can then create some Archers (about 5-10) and garrison them inside Aqaba's Town Center. The player's starting military units (Light Cavalry and Camel Riders) are best employed defending their own base from early attacks, but the player will soon need to send them to Aqaba to deal with a Battering Ram and some heavy cavalry. After this first attack is dispatched and the Town Center is garrisoned with Archers, Aqaba should be relatively safe for a while. The player can send a Villager there later on to repair damages and add some of their own buildings, but for now the player should focus on their own base.
Building and early defense
The top priorities should be fortifying the base with walls and Gates, as well as advancing to the Castle Age. Stone Walls are more durable and will distract Reynald's Raiders longer, but cost stone and delay the player from building a castle. If the player has enough sheep and started collecting deer from the start, the player can start advancing to the Castle Age right as Reynald's Pirates reach it on Hard. Add additional military production buildings and a Blacksmith when possible. The player should send several villagers to Medina to collect stone. Walling up will take some time and it will be difficult to seal all of the holes, as the player has a large perimeter. One critical wall the player should lay is directly between Aqaba and the Raiders, right outside the north gate. Once the player reaches the Castle Age, create a few Knights to help defend. The player should then drop a Castle next to Reynald's Raiders north gate, but may be beset by enemy units streaming out. If constructed properly, Reynald's Raiders' military and villagers will stream out towards the castle and fall to Castle fire. The player may need to construct additional walls to protect the castle from rams. Add a University and Monastery when possible.
Reynald's attacks will soon be getting more serious, with his pirates making their first appearance, so improving shoreline defense is essential. If the player is keen on using Medina's trade cogs as a distraction, the player should build a Castle near their dock. Invest in Masonry, Fletching, Bodkin Arrow, Ballistics, Murder Holes, and Fortified Wall. The Crossbowman upgrade will improve defenses in Aqaba. Counter the pirates' Cavaliers with Pikemen, Camel Riders, and/or Mamelukes, the Saracens' unique unit, where necessary. However the player can attempt to use Monks to convert a few Cavaliers, as they can be useful for defense or offense. The Galleons are more a nuisance than a credible threat, but their damage can add up if they're allowed to stay intact. Watch Towers, Guard Towers, or additional Castles are effective if placed near the water, but if the enemy warships accumulate the player may need to build a Dock and some Fire Ships to get rid of them (On Hard difficulty in the Definitive Edition, the player should avoid training a navy and instead focus on transporting their army). The player may also try converting a few Galleons whenever possible, as Galleons are better versions of War Galleys, which is just what the player can create in this scenario.
Once there is a lull in attacks, the player should construct a Siege Workshop, research additional economic technologies, and upgrade their army.
Attacking Reynald's Raiders
If the player has a forward castle on Reynald's gate, their military will be constantly depleted. Create several Mamelukes, Light Cavalry, and Cavalry Archers. Leave a few Knights and Mamelukes behind for defense. Add Battering Rams for knocking down defensive structures, Scorpions to deal with massed enemy units, and Monks for healing and conversion. If the player researches Redemption, the player can convert buildings and siege, which will come in handy later.
Destroy one of the enemy gates with the rams. Light Cavalry are effective against all of their units, and Cavalry Archers will help take out enemy Villagers. Attack the Town Center as well as towers where necessary using the rams. The raiders will resign if all of their villagers die. Some may try to escape, so search for them with your Light Cavalry - they won't have gone too far. (In the Definitive Edition, he will completely resign.) After you defeat his raiders, Reynald himself will appear briefly to poke at a Trade Cart before vanishing.
Once Reynald's Raiders have been defeated, the player can use their army to get rid of any bandits and capture the rest of the resources. The player does not have to defeat Reynald's Bandits to win the scenario, so the player should only focus on defeating the bandits that are protecting mines. There is protected stone in the far north, as well as across the river west of Aqaba. The player can also find a protected gold mine further west along the edge of the map. There's a relic near Aqaba due north of the player's Market that will provide gold if garrisoned in a Monastery.
The player can immediately take their starting military right in front of Reynald's Raiders' gate. When the sheep come in view, allow them to open the gate and rush to the top of their base towards the mine. Quickly dispatch the defenders, and destroy the northmost guard tower to prevent them from gathering wood. Taking down villagers and disrupting their eco will prevent them from retaliating, and eventually the Raiders will run out of wood to build any units. Destroy the Town Center, then travel southeast to destroy the southmost guard tower to destroy their Market. If the sheep are still holding the gate open, the player has the option to build a Stable to reinforce the starting forces, but this strategy is possible with just the initial units. Several roaming cavalry might need to be killed before the Raiders will resign.
Attacking Reynald's Pirates
The player should not take too long to focus their attention on Reynald's Pirates, as his Imperial Age military can overwhelm the player's defenses if left unchecked. The player should build a Dock and construct ships. In the space between building a navy, the player can begin walling off Arabia's coastline to prevent the Pirates from inflicting major damage. The player should build several Transport Ships to carry their entire army. The player's army should now consist of rams and Mamelukes, which are the most effective units for attacking the Pirates. Research all other technologies and upgrades at the Dock, then build several Fire Ships to take out enemy Galleons and a few War Galleys if space permits. These are helpful for sinking enemy Fishing Ships.
Reynald's Pirates have a forward Dock and Guard Tower on the Sinai Peninsula that should be destroyed. This is accessible through Aqaba, so the player can use their surviving Battering Rams to destroy this outpost as well. Once cleared out, the player can build a Castle in it's place to destroy Galleons as they pass by.
Move the navy west, where the Pirates are based and unload. The Pirates have a Town Center, a Castle, and several Towers on the Egyptian coast and they'll defend with heavy cavalry, Onagers, and Trebuchets. Attack the dangerous buildings with the rams and level or convert all military buildings, particularly the Docks. The pirates might not resign after all of their Villagers are killed. If they do not, search the seas for any remaining ships and sink them. There may also be some Villagers wandering around on the mainland. It might take a while to track down all of the enemy units since Spies cannot be researched in this scenario.
By following this strategy, the level can be beaten in 15 minutes (Note: In the Definitive Edition, there is no space to drop a Town Center to the left of the Pirates' Town Center, so the player will have to drop the Town Center between the enemy Town Center and the enemy Market):
Although I am still a prisoner, Saladin and his generals dine with me. Over meals we discuss mathematics and astronomy. I never imagined a race of desert folk could be so wise.
Baghdad, the Saracen capital, is the most civilized city in the world, with free hospitals, public baths, a postal service, and banks with branches as far away as China.
But as we eat, talk inevitably turns to war. Reynald's pirate vessels now rot at the bottom of the Red Sea. His raids have stopped. Reynald has escaped, but I suspect Saladin shall neither forgive nor forget.
- Reynald de Chatillon can actually be killed in this scenario. The player can simply place a handful of Pikemen, Camel Riders or Mamelukes near Reynald's spawn point (a ruined building towards the northeast on the Sinai Peninsula) once the player is confident that Reynald Raiders is about to resign. Since the aforementioned units are his weaknesses, he should be killed before his brief appearance ends. Additionally, if playing The Age of Kings, then Reynald de Chatillon may be converted by placing four or five Monks near his spawn point to convert him before he disappears.
- There is a bug in this scenario. Defeating Reynald's Pirates without defeating Reynald's Raiders first will cause the game to crash. Probably it's because this is the way the scenario is designed, as defeating Reynald's Pirates will trigger a dialog "I will be back, Saracen dog!". If the dialog is delivered and Reynald himself is about to make his appearance after defeating the Raiders later, it will ruin the chronological sequence of the scenario.
- In the Definitive Edition, Reynald appears in the beginning attacking the Trade Carts in person, along with his Raiders and Invaders. Unlike in the HD version, he is controlled by the Pirates and uses their color Blue (the same he uses in The Horns of Hattin). The new cutscene map also labels Reynald's lands in the Lordship of Oultrejordain.
- While the map closely matches the northern coast of the Red Sea, an anachronistic Suez Canal was added to force the player to invest in a navy and assault the Pirates's base from the sea, rather than invading from the Sinai.
- It also suits the game's flow better to start in the Arabian Peninsula, defend Aqaba and Medina, and finally beat the Pirates in Egypt. In real life, the setup was inverted with Saladin's main base in Egypt and the decisive last battle against Reynald in northern Arabia, although Reynald's ships did raid both the Egyptian and Arabian coasts.
- The narrator mistakenly claims that the current Crusader States emerged in the aftermath of three crusades. The scenario is chronologically set before the Third Crusade (1189-1192), which was called in response to Saladin's conquests.
- Baghdad is ambiguously referred to in the outro as the Saracens's capital. Saladin did not control Baghdad, but he offered his nominal allegiance to the Abbasid Caliph there, as a way to consolidate his rule after deposing the Fatimids in Egypt and the Zengids in Syria.
- In fact, the Caliph of Baghdad is mentioned later in the outro of The Lion and the Demon.
- Aqaba (called Ayla at the time) was actually part of the Kingdom of Jerusalem and controlled by Reynald de Chatillon. However, Saladin controlled the nearby fortress in Pharaoh's Island (also called Ayla by the Saracens), and Chatillon tried to take it without success.
- It is also possible that the developers originally intended the player to protect Medina and Mecca, as this was a target of Chatillon in reality, but changed the second city for unknown reasons.