Rising Star is the third scenario of the Rajendra campaign in Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition - Dynasties of India.
When news spread of my subjugation of Sri Lanka, our enemies grew quiet. Only the Pandyas of Madurai still flail their arms at us, being too proud to accept that their ancient line is now but a cub next to the Chola tiger.
With stability secured and the Chalukyas weakened, I have been given a rare opportunity to build upon the foundation that my father laid.
I am not averse to war, and Sri Lanka taught me that even some atrocities can be justified for the greater good; but my empire will not be one of violence alone.
War is but one tool in the arsenal of an empire. We will employ every weapon that we have to expand our influence across both land and sea, and our first act will be one of diplomacy.
There is a rumor out of the far east: Suryavarman, emperor of the Khmer, is said to seek an alliance with us. Such a pact would be a great step towards domination of this region.
Indeed, the star of the Chola Empire has only begun to rise!
- Starting Age: Castle Age
- Starting resources: 150 gold
- Population limit: 150
- Starting technologies:
- Starting units:
- Wait for instructions.
- Bring the Envoy and the Grand Chariot safely to Rajendra Chola, either by following the shallow coast in the north, or by venturing across the sea towards the Andaman Islands.
- The Envoy and Grand Chariot must both survive.
- Improve the Chola Empire's prestige by completing side quests until you have 10 Prestige points. As you complete objectives or progress through the scenario, new objectives will gradually unlock. You can pick whatever quests you like, and each successful quest will give you 1 Prestige.
- Establish an alliance with Suryavarman of the Khmer Empire.
- Vassalize Sri Lanka by capturing its Castle. To capture the Castle, you must damage it to less than 1,000 HP.
- Vassalize Vengi by capturing its Castle. To capture the Castle, you must damage it to less than 1,000 HP.
- Retake Vengi by capturing its Castle. To capture the Castle, you must damage it to less than 1,000 HP.
- Vassalize Madurai by capturing its Castle. To capture the Castle, you must damage it to less than 1,000 HP.
- Destroy the western Chalukyan Docks to deprive them of their fishing waters.
- Steal the Chalukyan Relic and place it in one of your Monasteries.
- Build a Castle in the flagged area on the Andaman Islands.
- Maintain a fleet of at least 40.
- Build a Castle in the flagged area by the Tungabhadra River.
- Complete 100 trade journeys to the Srivijayan Dock with your Trade Cogs.
- Defeat the Bengali Pirates.
- Maintain a trade fleet of 40 or more Trade Cogs.
- Defeat the Chalukyan Empire.
- Defeat Madurai.
- Maintain an alliance with Srivijaya.
- Your ships take damage when traversing the deep ocean, but there may be a way of improving your ship-building technology...
- Rajendra Is initially restricted to the Castle Age and can support a population of 150.
- There are many routes to victory in this mission of empire-building. You can warmonger or exercise soft power in he form of trade and diplomatic deals — but some foes can only be subjugated with a good thrashing.
- Strength breeds strength. Building up your empire by gaining more Prestige will unlock new technologies. This includes the Imperial Age, which is unlocked when you have 5 Prestige points.
- Vengi is your puppet from the start. You can command its forces to attack using flares.
- When vassalized, Sri Lanka will send you resources and provide modest military support, but requires protection from pirate attacks.
- Living in a time before the invention of gunpowder, Rajendra cannot train any gunpowder units except for Cannon Galleons.
Your scouts report:
- Rajendra's Chola Empire (8, Grey) controls much of the Indian south and will be able to strike out in all directions once the emperor gives the word. For now, however, Rajendra (1 Red) is waiting an envoy to arrive from across the ocean with a gift from Suryavarman of the Khmer Empire.
- To the north lies the Chalukyan Empire (2, Cyan), which remains your most formidable enemy. Their armies of Chakram Throwers, elephants. Shrivamsha Riders, and archers are biding their time... for now.
- Two Chola allies exist in Vengi (3. Purple) to the northeast and Sri Lanka (4, Orange) to the south. Both, however, have their weaknesses: the Chalukyas have long eyed Vengi and may seek to take it over. and the Sri Lankans are too weakened by war to be a powerful ally.
- The Pandya dynasty of Madurai (5, Yellow) is causing trouble and may need to be dealt with swiftly; but even if subdued, this prideful dynasty may not prove a trustworthy ally. They will primarily send Crossbowmen, Elephant Archers, and warships your way.
- To the far southeast lies the empire of Srivijaya (7, Blue). A wealthy middleman in the trade between India and China, they could become either a strategic ally or a powerful foe.
- Lastly, Bengali Pirates (6, Green) plague the waters of the empire. Like a nasty mold, they may prove difficult to root out entirely, but you may need to deal with them to protect your maritime trade.
- Player (Dravidians): The player starts in the east of the map in a friendly base with an Envoy, a Grand Chariot (technically a renamed Emperor in a Barrel), and some troops and ships.
- The Chola Empire (Dravidians): The Chola Empire's units and buildings are passed on to the player's controls when the Envoy successfully reaches Rajendra in the southern tip of mainland India. Rajendra himself and nearby buildings and units remain beyond the player's control for the duration of the scenario.
- Suryavarman (Khmer): Controls the port in the eastern corner, from which the Envoy starts out his journey west.
Allies → Enemies → Allies
- Vengi (Dravidians): They have a fortified base to the north of the Chola base and train land troops to attack the player's enemies. During the span of the scenario they are captured by the Chalukyans, and can be captured by the player again by bringing their base's Castle's Hit points below 1,000.
- Sri Lanka (Dravidians): They remain loyal vassals and lead naval and amphibious attacks with landing parties against various enemies of the player. However, they can betray the player if the Castle is sufficiently damaged. Like Vengi, they can be recaptured by the player.
Enemies → Allies → Enemies
- Madurai (Dravidians): They have a fortified base to the west of the Chola base in South India, and can be forced to submit by ravaging their castle, following which they ally and aid the player militarily on both land and sea. They eventually revolt again and must be defeated completely.
Neutral → Potential Ally / Enemy
- Srivijaya (Malay): Their territory is a small landmass in the map but is highly fortified with a large and diverse armada and are able to train fully upgraded troops. They can be traded with peacefully as long as the player keeps their military away from Srivijaya's and avoids killing too many of their units or sinking their ships. They will also extend the offer of an alliance after the player has conducted at least 100 trading journeys with them, although that comes with some cost.
- Bengali Pirates (Bengalis): They have a large presence in the Bay of Bengal (sea east of India) with the strongest base in Andaman (island above Srivijaya base) as well as a minor base in the river delta in Bengal (northeast of the map). They turn out to be a nuisance on the journey of the Khmer Envoy and later on also lead naval attacks and landing parties to the player's territory and Sri Lanka.
- The Chalukyan Empire (Gurjaras): They have a powerful and expansive presence in the lands north of Chola influence as well as in the Arabian Sea (the sea to the west of India) and will lead regular attacks through land and water.
The player begins with 3 Prestige, as the secondary objectives of establishing alliance with Suryavarman and vassalizing Vengi and Sri Lanka are automatically marked complete by the time the Envoy and the Grand Chariot reach Rajendra Chola.
Earning 4 Prestige unlocks a custom unique technology in the Dock named Marakkalam Vessels. It costs 500 food, 400 gold to research and prevents the player's ships from taking further damage when sailing through deep waters.
Earning 5 Prestige unlocks the Imperial Age research.
The conventional approach sees the player load up every single land unit into the Transport Ship, travel to the waypoint in the middle of the map (the central Andaman Island), obtain some wood, repair the ships, and continue the journey. However, stopping for repairs triggers a pirate ambush that can be survived only with careful maneuvering of the available ships.
Another route will see the player sailing around the shallows (i.e. hugging the westernmost edge of the map in order to avoid the damage-over-time effect on the ships). The shallows are filled with hostile pirate ships, but there's a small islet with a Gaia Fortified Tower and a Siege Onager that will help take out the enemies as long as they are lured towards this small outpost. The player will eventually reach a mangrove river delta, where the fleet should turn westward while hugging the coast. There's a small beach where the fleet can stop for repairs before taking the final part of the journey. There's a pirate ambush near Rajendra Chola's port.
Upon reaching Rajendra Chola, the player assumes control of a large base (Red) with two Town Centers, about 20 Villagers, and some military buildings. The player should quickly add two additional Town Centers and boom to 70 Villagers quickly, while producing Siege Elephants, Spearmen, and Crossbowmen to push Madurai's Castle. Madurai (Yellow) will mount an attack soon (they use mostly Elephant Archers, Crossbowmen, and Siege Elephants), but a group of 4 Siege Elephants backed by 20 Crossbowmen can take down Madurai's Castle fairly quickly, and Madurai will change its stance to ally. This will increase the player's prestige to 4 and make "Marakkalam Vessels" available at the Dock, removing the damage-over-time effect from ships.
Since the goal is to reach the Imperial Age ASAP, and the player should have a sizable army left after taking over Madurai, it is advisable to move in the flagged area by the Tungabhadra River and build a Castle there. This will make Imperial Age available for research. The player can then consider their options:
- The Chalukyan Empire (Cyan) is by far the most formidable enemy. They will pressure Vengi (Purple) with sizeable armies and will also attack the player's Castle at Sri Lanka, even with Cannon Galleons at the later stages. They will also utilize Chakram Throwers, Shrivamsha Riders, Camels, and Trebuchets on land;
- The Pirates (Green) will focus on the player's Castle on Sri Lanka and will also attempt to destroy the player's Docks and navy, but will not fight on land.
- If the player loses any of the Castles in vassal lands (Vengi, Sri Lanka and Madurai), those factions will renegade and break alliance. Losing Sri Lanka has the least impact, as they do not have the economy to support any meaningful army, but losing control over Vengi and/or Madurai will leave the player's flanks vulnerable.
With Marakkalam Vessels researched, the player can go for either a naval or a land strategy (but not both, as the 150 population limit prevents hybrid strategies). However, once Imperial Age is researched, Madurai will rebel and Vengi will automatically fall under the Chalukyan Empire. Taking down Madurai's Castle for a second time will force them to resign for good. Taking down Vengi's Castle will return them under the player's control. Now that Trebuchets are available, it is strongly advised to destroy the Chalukyan's base in the northwest, across the Tungabhadra River (it should be easy with Trebuchets). Special attention should be paid to the enemy Castle, Town Center, and the Docks along the shore. This will relieve the pressure from the west.
After securing Vengi's loyalty once more, the player might decide to push eastward, across the river toward the Eastern Chalukyan's base. It is heavily fortified with three Castles and a sizeable force, but the composition of Halberdiers, Crossbowmen, and Siege Elephants should be able to push through. Once the Castle and Town Center in the east and the three Castles and Town Center in the west are down, the Chalukyan Empire will resign. The player will have full control on land and can proceed to take the Relic with ease (+1 Prestige). Also, if the Chalukyan Empire's Marketplace was not deliberately destroyed, the player can start to trade on land.
It is very likely that the sea will be lost at this point. Since the land is taken for good, the player can delete land units to free up space for a navy. Thirisadai are an excellent choice for water combat, and since 40 warships bring additional +1 Prestige, it is advisable to aim for that number of ships. 40 Thirdisai backed by 4 Elite Cannon Galleons can quickly retake the waters and help complete the remaining objectives. Be careful not to sail military ships near Srivijaya, or they will change their stance to enemies (it is much preferable to simply trade with them).
Another way to start the scenario is to leave behind the Villagers, Envoy and the Grand Chariot, and simply load the other units into the Transport Ship. Once they reach the waypoint, the player will obtain the wood, but, instead of repairing the ships, assign the Villagers that were left behind to build a Lumber Camp, and later a Market, before deleting the Market to make space for a Town Center.
The player can follow that up with Farms, another 10 Villagers and another Market. The player will then trade food for stone at the Market and transport the Villagers over to the first waypoint. Build a Castle, a Dock and Fishing Boats, before building 3 Transport Ships and about 30 Saboteurs, which will be used to destroy the enemy Castle just south of the player's Castle.
Alternately, the player can repair the Transport Ships, unload where Rajendra Chola is located, repair the ship again, before transporting the Villagers to Sri Lanka, located slightly to the southwest of Rajendra Chola. The player can then trade with Sri Lanka or the Chola Empire without damaging the Trade Cogs.
The player can then destroy the enemy Castle, using the remaining warships as distractions, if necessary. This will give the player an unhindered trade route to use.
Srivijaya and the Chalukyan Empire
Upon reaching Rajendra, the player is given a secondary quest: conducting 40 trade journeys with Srivijaya. If the player completes this task, they will be offered an opportunity to form an alliance with Srivijaya. Doing so is initially cost-free. However, after a period of time, Srivijaya will demand a tax on the trade income (it appears that this refers to the income from trading with them, not overall trade income, but this needs to be verified) for the alliance to be maintained.
The player's traders will be outraged, and demand that the player take action on them. However, it is probably more beneficial to to continue the alliance with Srivijaya, because they do send out their formidable fleet to attack the player's enemies at sea, even to the extent of helping the player defeat the western Docks of the Chalukyan Empire (one of the key objectives). Also, despite the nemesis the Chalukyan Empire is portrayed to be in this scenario, it is not necessary to defeat them to clear this scenario. The objective is to earn 10 prestige points. Not to defeat the Calukyan Empire.
However, doing the latter will deprive the player of the chance to get the "Eye of the Tiger" achievement, which requires the player to destroy all enemy factions in the map.
My enemies lie shattered before me and the Chola Empire stands victorious once more.
Why, then, does it feel as if something inside of me is breaking?
For years I have sought greatness not only for myself, but for my subjects. I have treated even our rivals with the dignity befitting ancient dynasties, but my softness has only led to setbacks.
Only when I unleash devastation upon my enemies — soldiers and civilians alike — do I seem to conjure up any lasting victory.
Perhaps my father was right after all. I cannot be both great and benevolent. One virtue must be sacrificed for the other, and the price for greatness is inevitably corruption: the slow death of everything that I believe in.
For a long time, this quandary has sent me into tortuous dreams. It is as if a black seed has been planted in some murky crevasse of my soul. I have ignored it, hid from it... all for naught.
Could it be that my fear of corruption was but a sign of my inexperience as a ruler? Something that my father learned to overcome in the harshness of his later years?
For if one cannot reach greatness without being corrupted, without giving in to that deep desire to increase one's power by any means available...
...then is corruption truly a bad thing?
- The start of the scenario follows the story (and features nearly the same units) of the third scenario A Dangerous Mission of the Suryavarman I campaign, where the Envoy must make his way with the Grand Chariot from Khmer lands to the Andaman port.
- A Sea Serpent can be seen in the eastern bay, similar to the Sea of Worms seen in Vinlandsaga.
- There are seemingly 9 players in this scenario, with the Suryavarman player being unlisted, unnumbered and sharing the cyan coloring with The Chalukyan Empire. His units appear in the eastern corner of the map, from where the Envoy starts out his journey. However, these belong to the Chola Empire, but having all of the mentioned indicators changed to appear to belong to a different player. This can be proven by changing the stance towards the Chola Empire to enemy, which also changes the stance towards the Suryavarman units.