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This article is about the scenario in Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition. For the scenario in Age of Empires IV, see The Battle of the Kalka River.

The Battle at the Kalka River is the second scenario of the Kotyan Khan campaign in Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition. It depicts the aftermath of the namesake Battle of the Kalka River in 1223.


The sky has turned dark with the smoke of burning tar. Through it one can see the bodies of men and horses scattered on the battlefield.

Despite our large numbers, our armies were swept away from this earth like dust on the field.

The Mongols knew perfectly how to exploit or weaknesses and divide our forces. The hooves of the charging Mongol horsemen sounded like thunder and their arrows poured down on us like rain. Smoking projectiles fired by Mongol catapults caused confusion among our ranks and blocked our line of sight. We saw Rus' princes charge into the smoke, never to be seen again.

After nine long days, the combined Rus' and Cuman armies were completely annihilated.

Morale is at an all-time low for those who survived. We Cumans know that all hope is lost for our ancestral homeland. To escape certain death or slavery, we will retreat beyond the Dnieper River to rally and ride west.

At least Khan Kotyan survived the battle, which gives us a tiny bit of light in these dark times. His calm presence and confident voice can still give hope to the men.

Scenario instructions[]

Starting conditions[]


  • Kotyan Khan must survive.
  • Run from the Mongol horde!
  • Locate the Cuman tribes on the other side of the river.
  • Defeat the Tatars so that your people can flee south.


  1. The Cumans are restricted to the Castle Age and a population of 150.
  2. Your people are in danger. You should find them as quickly as possible.
  3. You can try to fight the Mongols across the river, but after the recent defeat you lack the manpower or resources to defeat them. Focus instead on defeating the Tatars and ensuring the safety of your people.
  4. The Cumans can build Battering Rams in the Feudal Age. It may be possible to crush the Tatars with an early rush before they can build up their strength.


  • After suffering a defeat at the hands of the Mongols, Kotyan Khan (1, Green) and some of his men are retreating west in an effort to save what remains of the Cuman tribes (3, Cyan).
  • The Rus' principalities (2, Red) are located to the north. Their princes are either dead or fleeing north, so little help is to be expected from them.
  • The Mongols (5, Orange) have taken all of the land east of the Dnieper River and are preparing to cross it. Their leader, Subotai, has arrived as well and will oversee the Mongol advance. Expect him to unleash hordes of Cavalry Archers, Mangudai, Light Cavalry, and siege weapons.
  • The Tatars (4, Yellow) have managed to sneak across the river during the night and have made camp to the southwest. They plan to encircle the remaining Cuman tribes and attack them from behind. Kotyan must prevent this, or there will be no future for his people. The Tatars will train the fearsome Keshiks in addition to Cavalry Archers and Steppe Lancers.



  • Player (Cumans AoE2 Cumans): Will start the game with Kotyan and his retinue, retreating across the Kalka River while being pursued by the Mongol Horde. They take control of a base in the center of the map after retreating to the Cuman territory southwest of Galicia-Volhynia.


  • Kiev (Slavs AoE2 Slavs): The Principality of Kiev will initially fight back the Mongols, allowing the player to escape. However, they will soon start retreating north and will be obliterated by the Mongol Army.
  • Cuman Tribes (Cumans AoE2 Cumans): Are the allied Cumans situated along the frontier of the Kalka River, trying to hold the line on three crossing points along the river. The southern base will retreat westward when the player inflicts significant enough damage to the Tatars, leaving the southern buildings and river crossing to the player.
  • Galicia-Volhynia (Slavs AoE2 Slavs): They train Men-at-Arms, Knights, and Pikemen. Like the Kievans, they will fight the Mongols and later the Tatars, but will only behave passively.


  • Tatars (Tatars AoE2 Tatars): The Tatars are the main enemy. They have a large western base with Castles and will flank the Cumans from behind. When Subotai arrives they'll aggressively attack the player's base with Skirmishers, Keshiks, Light Cavalry, Knights, Steppe Lancers, and Cavalry Archers.
  • Mongols (Mongols AoE2 Mongols): The Mongol Hordes attack both the player and the Cumans alike by sending Cavalry Archers, Mangudai, Light Cavalry (later Hussars), and later, Onagers across the river. On the eastern side they have an extensive fortified position.
  • Mongols (Mongols AoE2 Mongols): See above.
  • Subotai (Mongols AoE2 Mongols): Subotai himself appears shortly after taking the base in the west, but will only taunt Kotyan and the Cumans. His tent is situated deep in Mongol territory.


Normal strategy[]

The player begins with some cavalry retreating from a Mongol army. Kiev's troops buy the player a little time, but soon evacuate its people and surrender. Galicia-Volhynia does not surrender, but it is weak and builds only a token force before being beset by the Mongols. Galicia-Volhynia, along with the Cuman Tribes, buy the player a little time by holding off the Mongols, but they do not last forever.

Use the northern Villagers to build a Siege Workshop and a Lumber Camp near the middle tower converted to the player. The southern Villagers should build a Mill and get food from forage. The Scout Cavalry should go west and southwest to retrieve Sheep. All this as quickly as possible. At the same time, group forces, Wolf included, use the two Stables and spend all food on Scout Cavalry. Also build a ram from the Siege Workshop.

The first objective is to attack the farming village Tatars have (near the player's new Siege Workshop). First aim at the tower and use all the cavalry to protect the ram. When that tower is done, more wood should be available to get another ram. Two will be able to destroy that Town Center. After destroying it, do not leave the village until their military buildings are destroyed as well. North of the village, there are two towers inside palisade walls. Destroy both. Avoiding the Castles, near the edge of the map, the Tatars will have another farming village. Destroy it (Note: The key thing here is that initial rush will prevent Tatars from advancing to the Castle Age).

Continue creating Scout Cavalry and rams. Check when foragers are done and start getting food from Sheep. Lastly, in the south, the enemy has a Siege Workshop. Destroy it. After that, the player can easily destroy both Tatar Castles. Having destroyed all military buildings, Town Centers and Castles, with their defenders as well, will prompt the player's victory.

Despite what the dialog may imply, the Mongols do not immediately pursue the player's forces across the river, and can be safely ignored for the first ten minutes or so. Fighting them presents a stiff challenge as they are present in overwhelming numbers. The Mongols even have a Wonder built; destroying it achieves nothing except Subotai cursing the player.

"Cuman Flush" strategy[]

Alternatively, the player can choose to rush the Tatars very early on. As the Tatars starts in the Feudal Age and most units they train are only available in the Castle Age, rushing them early will prevent them from advancing to the Castle Age and greatly reduce their strength. The Tatars have enough starting resources to research the Castle Age early, but will only do so when they have 35 Villagers, at which point they stop creating Villagers. However, the Tatars have two Town Centers and it is possible that they use a different Town Center to advance in every run. The player has to be fast and destroy the two Town Centers in quick succession.

To do so, the player should build a Town Center and a Siege Workshop immediately after gaining control of Villagers. Get the Fletching and Padded Archer Armor upgrades from the Blacksmith for Kipchaks and Kotyan Khan himself and gather enough wood for 3 Battering Rams. Once the rams are ready, rally all military units and send them toward the closest Tatar Town Center, which is to the south of the player's camp. Use one Light Cavalry to attack their buildings, then kite their units and let Kipchaks finish them off (or alternatively, lure them into the camp of the Cuman Tribes). Meanwhile, send in the rams to demolish their Town Center. The player may also want to bring a Villager to repair the rams for longer service.

Once the surrounding units near their first Town Center are gone, immediately send other units to find their second Town Center, which is southwest of their first Town Center. Kite remaining enemy units and bring down the Town Center with rams. The Tatars will not rebuild their Town Center, but the player should still actively try to find and kill every single Villager.

The final objective is to demolish the remaining two Castles. One is located to the west and the other is near the southwestern edge of the map. The Tatars will resign if they have no Castles or Town Centers left, and the player will win the game soon after their defeat.


When looking into the empty eyes of the men sitting in front of the yurts, it is hard to imagine that these men were once fierce steppe horsemen-warriors who were feared by European kings and Byzantine emperors alike.

Our khan is devastated by the recent events as well and has not eaten since the battle. Each time Kotyan emerges from his tent, his face appears older and more gaunt.

Pressured by the Mongol horde, we have no other choice than to keep on moving south. At night, Tatar and Mongol raiding parties ambush Cuman guards who wander too far away from the camp. It will be yet another sleepless night for the men.


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