Aksum – the heart of our empire and the cradle of the Ethiopian civilization and culture since antiquity. Even so, every time our caravan stops here to sell its wares and acquire necessities for the village, the city seems less grand; more roofs need thatching, less shops are open, and even the shouts of the hawkers are ever so slightly less audible.
My son Daniel doesn't notice, of course. For his twelfth birthday, I promised that he could travel with the yearly caravan and see Aksum for himself. Ever since we entered the city, the boy has stared in awe at every building. The city is indeed a marvelous sight for a country lad living in the northern highlands.
As we passed a temple, Daniel abruptly stopped. 'Father', he whispered, his eyes fixed on the golden curtains, 'have you ever seen such a treasure? Why does nobody guard it – are they not afraid of thieves?' I could not help but smile before replying 'Why hire strong-arms when even the queen dares not take them, my son?' A deep frown creased Daniel's brow; 'Don't you lie to me, father! Surely a queen can do whatever she wishes.'
The boy apparently did not know the story of his ruler yet – that needed to change. 'Sit down, son.', I responded, directing Daniel to the stairs of the temple, 'Forty years ago, when our queen Yodit was but a princess, she discovered the very reason why those curtains do not need any guards...'
The boy sat down, leaning close to hear the beginning of what was sure to be a truly wondrous story. 'Yodit was truly beautiful. Every lord in the empire contended for her hand, much to the displeasure of Gidajan, her nephew and the heir to the throne. Gidajan devised a plan to be rid of her: in the night he stole the golden curtains and hid them in her room. When the palace guards discovered the treasure, she was locked in the deepest cells.'
Daniel gasped loudly, but quickly covered his mouth and urged me to go on, 'Luckily, there were some who refused to believe the accusations. One loyal captain, named Samuel, helped her escape through a secret tunnel. As long as she stayed in the Aksumite Empire, Yodit would never be safe from prince Gidajan. Her journey had merely begun...'
- Aksum (Ethiopians) are the few locals still loyal to Yodit. They consist of a small village, which is later taken over by the player; a total of 10 Shotel Warriors who will join Yodit if either she or Samuel approach them; a siege engineer, who will sell two Battering Rams for a tribute of 500 gold; and a sailor, who will sell a Transport Ship for 500 gold.
- Gidajan (Ethiopians) has several forified military camps in the region, which produce a full array of Feudal Age Units as well as the occasional Shotel Warrior.
- Fort in the Mountains (Ethiopians) blocks the pass to the mountain. They produce Men-at-Arms, Spearmen and Skirmishers.
- Fort by the River (Saracens) blocks the river escape route. The have Archers, Scout Cavalry and Eastern Swordsmen at their disposal.
- Fort in the Forest / Camp in the Forest in the Definitive Edition (Ethiopians) blocks the passage into the open plains, the third escape route. In contrast to the other two forts, it is not walled, but instead cluttered with Sea Towers. Their army consists of Scout Cavalry, Spearmen and Archers.
The scenario starts with only Yodit and her trusted bodyguard Samuel outside a secret tunnel out of Aksum. When moving south Samuel soon spots a few enemy guards, which he can kill by himself if the Shotel Warrior is targeted first. West of the guards, two loyal Shotel Warriors can be found. With the guards eliminated, Samuel mentions a nearby village whose inhabitants are staunch supporters of Yodit.
The player should note though that as soon as the village is approached and thus taken over, Gidajan starts producing units and attacking, so it might be better to first scout the map to collect all 10 Shotel Warriors and find resources and enemy camps. While Yodit can't fight she is pretty fast, has a good line of sight, and also regenerates health.
When the village is reached, the goal of the scenario is revealed: Yodit has to reach one of the marked escape points, each of which is protected by an enemy fort.
The easy way Edit
The probably easiest but somewhat cheesy way to win this scenario is as follows: Yodit should be used to find all 10 loyal Shotel Warriors, all of which are located fairly near the river. In the meantime Samuel can raze Gidajan's camp in the south of the map by abusing the minimum range of the towers and retreating and healing when low on health. Northeast of this camp is an Aksum sailor located who offers a Transport Ship with a capacity of 10 for a sum of 500 gold, which is paid by clicking his Dock.
Once all of the Shotel Warriors are gathered, Yodit can take over the village. The player should then immediately send Yodit, Samuel and 8 Shotel Warriors to the Dock and all Villagers (with optionally a few more queued in the Town Center) south across the river and then west to the gold mines to gather the 500 gold for the Transport Ship as quickly as possible.
With the gold paid and the ship taken over Yodit and her guard can be ferried northeast over the lake to the Fort in the Forest. Samuel and the Shotel Warriors should be unloaded first so they draw all fire while Yodit can sneak past all towers and soldiers to the northwest into the plains from where she can escape. A few Lions additionally prowl the way, but Yodit can easily outrun them. When Yodit reaches the flag, the scenario is won.
The hard way Edit
The scenario can also be drawn out if the player doesn't wish to use the quick and easy method. In either case all 10 Aksum Shotel Warriors should be gathered before taking over the village, as Gidajan will relentlessly attack with large groups of varied units right off the start. As the scenario is set entirely in the Feudal Age, the Shotel Warriors can't be replaced, so they should always be garrisoned inside the Town Center when they need healing.
All of Gidajan's waves head straight for the Town Center as long as it remains standing, and will mostly ignore anything not in the vicinity of it, so the ecomomy should mostly be set up southwest of the base, across the river, where wood and gold can be found. If the woodline right east of the Town Center is used, the lumberjacks will spend more time running towards the Town Center to garrison inside when attacked than actually chopping wood. A few Farms around the Town Center are ok though. Even if the harvest is often interrupted by enemy raids, the villagers can quickly garrison inside the Town Center to fire arrows, which is crucial in defeating some of the first waves.
North of the village additional gold and, very importately, one stone mine can be found. The stone, sufficient for two Watch Towers, should be gathered as soon as possible. When affordable, the towers should be built right next to the Town Center (but not right next to each other, so they can still attack enemies at each other's bases) and each garrisoned with either five Archers, five Villagers or a combination of both. In either case, a fully manned and upgraded with Fletching Watch Tower fires a total of 5 arrows, has 5+1 attack and 8+1 range. These two towers and a few additional units stationed under the Town Center along with the farmers garrisoned inside the Town Center in case of attack are sufficient defense against Gidajan's attacks, which allows the player to go on the offensive.
As the three forts don't attack until provoked it might be a good idea to take out some (or all) of Gidajan's camps to have more breathing room. Both the camp northwest and southeast of Yodit's base are only lightly fortified and can easily fall in a quick sweep supported by the two Battering Rams bought from Aksum for a tribute of 500 gold. It is of utmost importance not to lose the rams as they are irreplaceable. The remaining Shotel Warriors should be garrisoned inside, as not only does this increase the rams' speed and attack, but also allows the warriors to quickly pop out and deal with any enemies attacking the rams in melee range. Additionally, a few Villagers should be around at all times to repair the siege equipment when damaged. The remaining two camps of Gidajan (the one in the center containing a castle and the one in the northeast) are way better fortified, and in most cases aren't worth the hassle. They can still be taken down with careful ram management and under heavy losses however, and the camp in the northeast also provides an alternative escape route, allowing Yodit not to deal with any of the three Forts.
With the threat of Gidajan optionally diminished, the player can take on one of the forts of their choice. All of the forts are defended by towers and all but the one in the forest also have Palisade Walls, so the Battering Rams are very helpful in storming them. They all have a decently rounded army so it's up to the players choice which one they want to face (check Players section above for information about their respective composition) but the Fort by the River probably hase the most advanced technology, not only having Bloodlines for their Scout Cavalry, but also Eastern Swordsmen, a version of the Long Swordsmen (to somewhat balance this out, they don't seem to research Scale Mail Armor though). With the passage to any of the three escape points cleared, Yodit can flee the area and thus the scenario is won.
Daniel laughed with joy: 'I knew Yodit would escape prince Gidajan!' After a few seconds, his face became more serious. 'But how did she become queen if she left Ethiopia, father?' he finally asked. 'Indeed a good question, Daniel, but we must be going', I responded while lifting him up. 'The sun is already descending and we still need to visit the market. Mother will not be pleased if we return to the village without a gift for her. If you help me find one, I will tell you how Yodit fared in exile.' That promise put the smile back on the lad's face.