The Battle of the Frigidus is the first scenario of the reworked Alaric campaign in Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition. It is based on the battle of the same name between the Western and Eastern Roman Empires on September 5-6, 394 A.D.
Each night I have the same two visions. One of a field of wheat stalks swaying in the wind...
...another of bright burning flames, trampling horse hooves, and loud screams.
My people, the Visigoths, came to Roman lands not as an invading army, but as a people running from a scourge... No! A plague sent by God himself!
We warned the Romans of the impending danger, but they ignored us. They despised and distrusted our kind. They treated us poorly, gave us barren lands, and when we suffered famine they made us sell our children for food. Inevitably, we went to war, and our great army struck a decisive blow to the Romans at Hadrianople. We slew their emperor and forced them to allow our people to settle in Roman lands.
Our victory taught the Romans to not underestimate Gothic warriors. In exchange for the land they gave us, our young men would serve in the Roman armies, fighting alongside our former enemies. As wars broke out between the eastern and western halves of the empire, we gathered our spears and served Rome in battle.
- Starting Age: Castle Age
- Starting resources: 300 food, 250 wood, 250 gold, 400 stone
- Population limit: 110
- Starting units:
Differences between difficulty levels
- On standard difficulty, the player starts with Murder Holes researched.
- Prevent the Eastern Roman Empire's Army from being routed.
- Defeat the Western Roman Empire.
- Collect 2 Relics.
- Destroy General Arbogast's Town Center.
- The Visigoths are restricted to the Castle Age and a population limit of 110.
- Your allies provide you with much needed support in the center and left flank of the battlefield. Assure that they survive.
- Try to secure as many resource deposits as possible early on. They will become vital as the battle drags on.
- If you have surplus resources, tribute them to your allies. They will use them to train and upgrade their armies.
Your scouts report:
- The Eastern Romans (2, Purple) have a large camp in the center from which they will lead the attack on the Western Romans (4, Blue). Aside from generic units, they will train Cataphracts.
- On the western flank is General Stilicho (3, Red), who leads a Hunnic contingent. He needs time to build his base, but once he manages to do that he will train Tarkans and Knights.
- On the other side of the battlefield, the Franks under General Arbogast (5, Cyan) hold the flanks. Aside from infantry, he will train Throwing Axemen and Knights.
- In the center of the enemy line is the Western Roman camp. They will train various units but will also field Cataphracts.
- Player (Goths): The player starts in the northeast, with a small base surrounded by Palisade Walls that includes a Town Center, Blacksmith, Barracks, and Archery Range, but no other defensive buildings; and a sizeable number of Villagers, economy buildings, and resources dispersed outside.
- Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantines): The Eastern Romans have a massive and well-defended fortification to the north of the map and west of the player's base, with two concentric Fortified Walls built around a Castle, and some Guard Towers forming a third ring outside. However, they have no civilian units and rely on their allies to get resources.
- General Stilicho (Huns): Stilicho starts with a Town Center, Scout Cavalry, and some Villagers on the northwest, similarly to most players in random maps.
- Western Roman Empire (Byzantines): The Western Romans have an identical fortification to the Eastern Romans on the south side of the map, just across the river from them. Likewise, they lack civilian units.
- General Arbogast (Franks): Arbogast has a Town Center protected by Watch Towers and a Castle on the southeast, directly across the river from the player's base, but no Walls. He has also several Stables and Siege Workshops on both sides of the Western Roman Empire's base, protected by Palisade Walls and Western Roman towers. He will resign when his Town Center is destroyed.
Since the player starts in the Castle Age (and is restricted to that same age), with a sizeable base and economy, and will never be attacked unprovoked for the entire scenario (so there is no need to set up defenses), the main priority will be to build an army and raid Arbogast's territory to keep him from attacking the Goths and Eastern Romans. Start with Spearmen to fend Arbogast's Knights and later add Crossbowmen to fight his Throwing Axemen, and Long Swordsmen and Battering Rams to destroy his buildings. Monks (which are necessary to fulfill the Relic challenge) are also useful to convert Arbogast's Knights and Throwing Axemen and turn them on his siege, which includes Rams and Scorpions. A faster alternative consists in rushing Arbogast's Town Center with five Petards, which will make him resign.
There are two Relics. One is just across the river from the player's starting base, so the player should send a Monk to pick it up before the enemy does. A second is to the southeast of the Eastern Roman Empire base, and the allies' line of sight will make it visible. Acquiring the two Relics will research Perfusion for the player.
Though the player is asked to protect the Eastern Roman base, the Eastern Roman army can handle the Western Romans by itself just fine, even on Hard difficulty (the same is true of the opposite). As long as Arbogast is prevented from joining the attacks on the Eastern Roman base (for which he has to send his forces either near the Western Roman, or Gothic bases), the player's support for the Eastern Romans can be as limited as assigning one Villager to repair their southern defenses and one Monk to heal their soldiers. The hint recommending the player to tribute extra resources to the allies can be ignored. Eventually, Arbogast will be defeated or become too weak to help the Western Romans, while the Eastern Romans will be joined in their attacks by Stilicho's Tarkans and Swordsmen, taking the fight to Arbogast's western camp and the Western Roman base. Build a Castle on Arbogast's eastern camp and clear a path to the Western Roman Castle with Rams or Petards while using Crossbowmen to snipe the remaining Western Roman Pikemen and Light Cavalry. After destroying the Castle, the Western Roman army surrenders.
The dead bodies of young Goth warriors littered the flanks of the Julian Alps.
For all the blood we shed, the Romans did not even give us a crumb of gratitude. A Gothic commander in the Roman army encouraged us to desert and go back to our people. 'Hardship is upon your families, wives, and children, and your people need your help now more than ever,' he said.
Few had heard of Alaric, this Gothic commander, but he managed to gain a strong reputation during his service in the Roman army. He was a tall man with a voice that could silence a crowd. When Alaric spoke, all heads turned in his direction and his eyes flickered with an inextinguishable fire.
- This scenario is chronologically the oldest in Age of Empires II, having beaten the one it replaces by a little over a decade.
- The only apparent similarity with the aforementioned scenario is a narrator beginning their tale with a recurring dream of wheat fields and nightmares of the Hunnic invasions. In the HD version, the narrator is Alaric's unnamed wife; here, his brother-in-law and eventual successor, Ataulf.
- In the European Spanish localization, Stilicho is voiced by the same actor who dubbed General Maximus in the movie Gladiator (2000).
- The battle opposed the Eastern Romans under Theodosius I and the Western Romans under Eugenius, who was captured and executed after his defeat. Theodosius then united the Eastern and Western empires under his rule until he died four months later. He was the last man to rule over the whole Roman Empire: his elder son Arcadius inherited the East, and his younger son Honorius (the emperor in The Belly of the Beast), the West.
- General Arbogast (portrayed as Franks) and General Stilicho (Huns) were half-Frankish and half-Vandal respectively, but were raised as (and identified as) Romans.
- The Frankish faction likely doubles for the Western Empire employing Frankish Foederati at the battle. Eugenius actually started winning, but this changed when some Franks defected to Theodosius' side; this is mirrored by the Franks being likelier to be defeated before their Roman allies.
- In a similar vein, Stilicho made career as a cavalry officer, which is the Huns' speciality in the game, and the cavalry was usually staffed by Barbarians in Roman armies. Stilicho also had Hunnic bodyguards. At the Frigidus, Theodosius also employed Alan cavalry under a commander named Saul, who would later fight Alaric in Italy. Coincidentally the Alans are portrayed as Huns in the Definitive Edition's version of The Catalaunian Fields, whereas they appeared as Vikings in The Conquerors.
- After defeating Arbogast, a message will say that his forces have fled to the Alps. In real life, Arbogast fled to the Alps and wandered for a few days before he committed suicide.
- The Relics quest claims that the Western Roman emperor is a Pagan sympathizer, as Eugenius was said to be. However, it is possible that such sympathies were exaggerated by Theodosius to claim that his victory was divinely mandated.