The Best Laid Plans is the fourth scenario of the reworked Bari campaign in Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition. The original campaign only had a total of three scenarios.

Intro[edit | edit source]

"The rebellion was over, but Boioannes still had a difficult task before him. The once-rich province of Apulia lay in tatters, and the hostility of its northern neighbors did not bode well for the future.

Melus' brother Dattus still preyed on the surrounding lands from his lair on the Garigliano. Additionally, rumor quickly spread of Holy Roman armies massing in the north.

Boioannes was not about to let his hard-earned gains slip away like a fish from the net. The odds were against him, but he had a loyal army and a plan.

The Apennine pass was the gateway to southern Italy, and Boioannes intended to fortify it. Thousands of soldiers and masons followed him to the ruins of Aecae, an ancient Roman city near the mountains, and began construction of a citadel named Troia.

Boioannes would restore the grandeur of Byzantine power in Italy, or die in the effort."

Scenario instructions[edit | edit source]

Starting conditions[edit | edit source]

Objectives[edit | edit source]

  • Defend the castle in Troia for an hour, or defeat the Holy Roman and Papal forces.
  • (secondary) Destroy Dattus' tower on the Garigliano to end his raids into Apulia.
  • (secondary) Plunder the Abbey of Montecassino to seize its wealth and relics.
  • (secondary) To hire the Norman mercenary cohort, tribute them 1,000 gold.
  • (secondary, only if the mercenary cohort was not hired) Defeat the Norman mercenaries by destroying all of their Stables.
  • (secondary) Reconquer Capua from the Holy Roman Empire by destroying its Castle.
  • (secondary) Send villagers to mine away the stone in the mountain pass to cause an avalanche and block the enemy trade route.

Hints[edit | edit source]

  1. Basil Boioannes can support a population of 200 and advance to the Imperial Age. He does not have the capability of constructing additional Castles, however.
  2. Completing side objectives will almost certainly pay off.
  3. Sometimes offense is the best defense. Feel free to launch attacks on your enemies instead of hiding in your fortress, as victory can also be achieved in this way. Indeed, if your enemies succeed in destroying your Castle, this will become the only path to victory.

Scouts[edit | edit source]

  • The forces of Basil Boioannes (Purple) have constructed a fortress in Troia. There are enough resources in the vicinity of Troia to feed its garrison.
  • The north of the map is controlled by the Holy Roman Empire (Red). Because of its excellent siegecraft and powerful infantry, the Holy Roman army is probably your most threatening opponent.
  • The Papal States (Green) should also not be underestimated. Expect fierce attacks comprised of archery units and swordsmen. In addition, the Papacy will make use of Battering Rams to assault your Castle.
  • In the south is Capua (Blue). This city has remained loyal to Boioannes thus far, but it is possible that the enemy could capture it and force its population to fight against you.
  • Rumor has it that some leaderless Norman Mercenaries (Yellow) have camped near the mountains. Perhaps they will assist you—if you are willing to pay them, of course.
  • The traitor Melus is no longer a threat, but his brother Dattus (Orange) has sworn to continue the struggle. Dattus' army consists of infantry, mounted archers, and Battering Rams.
  • To the east is the Abbey of Montecassino (Grey), which is barely defended. Seeing as its Monks support your opponents, there is little reason to spare them.

Players[edit | edit source]

  • Player (Byzantines): The player starts with a base and some Villagers and military units to the east. Their goal is to protect the Castle in Troia.

Ally → Enemy → Ally[edit | edit source]

  • Capua (Franks): Capua is located in the south, with some walls and towers protecting their base. On moderate/hard difficulty, they will turn on the player after six minutes, but will become an ally again once their Castle is destroyed. They mainly train Knights, Battering Rams, and Throwing Axemen. They also trade with the player.

Enemies[edit | edit source]

  • Dattus' Rebels (Goths): Dattus' Rebels have a small camp not far from Capua. They train mostly Cavalry Archers, Long Swordsmen, and Battering Rams.
  • Holy Roman Empire (Teutons): The Holy Roman Empire has a strongly-fortified city to the north. They will field Teutonic Knights, Pikemen, Knights, Battering Rams, and Trebuchets.
  • Papal States (Italians): Papal States have a stronghold to the far west. They will field Long Swordsmen, Genoese Crossbowmen, Pikemen, Battering Rams, and Trebuchets.
  • Enemy Trade Route (Teutons): They have no actual units or buildings in this scenario aside from a cart occasionally appearing in an inaccessible area close to the middle. Once the player mines all Stone Mines near the cliffs, they are immediately defeated.
  • Abbey of Montecassino (Italians): They only have a Monastery, two Guard Towers, and a few Monks not far away from the Holy Roman Empire. They will only train Monks and will stay passive until attacked.

Optional Ally (Enemy)[edit | edit source]

  • Norman Mercenaries (Franks): Norman Mercenaries have a small camp in the middle area and will stay passive most of the time. At some point, they will ask to join the player's side for 1,000 gold. If the gold is not paid soon enough, they will become an enemy. They only train Cavaliers.

Strategy[edit | edit source]

On hard difficulty, this one is tough. It's very easy to get overwhelmed early on, so it's important that the player's opening is tight.

Getting started[edit | edit source]

If playing on moderate/hard difficulty, immediately train nine Petards and send them to move towards the Capuan Castle. Within 30 seconds of the ninth one arriving, the ally will switch teams and nine Petards is exactly enough to destroy the Castle if micro-managed correctly. If playing on standard difficulty, Capua will not switch teams and so this step can be ignored.

Also immediately send one Villager to build a Dock in the ally's base. Once the player reaches the Imperial Age, they can build a single Elite Cannon Galleon to destroy the orange tower, triggering their surrender. By stopping two potential enemies early, the player will have more room to focus on the Papal States and Holy Roman Empire later on.

Use one or two more Villagers to build a plain wall at the small bottleneck north of the base, past the enemy Monasteries. This will funnel both of the remaining enemies into attacking from the same side now, which is huge. 

Send the initial starting army north to destroy the Monastery there. Lure a few of the Monks outside so that the archers can kill them, then run the cavalry in to kill the remaining Monks. If the player pays close attention to the spawning Monks, they can safely destroy the Monastery with the Cataphracts, triggering the water towers to surrender and dropping TWO Relics. The player may need to spread the units out when the Monastery goes down, or it is liable to drop one of the Relics on the cliff where the player can't retrieve it. 

Additionally, if the player starts mining gold immediately, they should be able to buy the mercenaries as soon as they're available, which will both deny their use by the enemy and act as a distraction. And finally, mine the stone next to the enemy trade route to 'cause a landslide'. The Trade Carts are invincible, and only the landslide can prevent them from accumulating gold.

All of these aren't necessary to win, but on hard difficulty it is key to be aggressive early on and slow down the frenzy before the player gets overwhelmed.

At some point (either upon discovering their Stables or after a certain amount of time), the Norman Mercenaries will offer an alliance with the player if they tribute 1,000 gold to them. If the player takes too long, they will revoke their offer and become their enemy. Whether or not the player should pay them depends on the strategy they are going for.

Castle defense strategy[edit | edit source]

Because they start an age ahead of the player and have extra armor on their infantry, cavalry, and siege weapons, the Holy Roman Empire's invasions will be extremely difficult to fend off unless the player is heavily attentive. It might be a good idea to garrison the starting Castle with the initial Crossbowmen to pick off their Elite Teutonic Knights and Halberdiers, as they will be protected from attacks until the player's army is large enough to fight back directly.

The player should also consider producing plenty of Camel Riders, which are less expensive for the Byzantines. Not only do they exchange well against the numerous Cavaliers, Cavalry Archers, and Paladins that the player will face, but they are also mobile enough to respond to the enemies' Trebuchets and Capped Rams before they cause too much damage. Although they fare poorly against Teutonic Knights, Halberdiers, and Genoese Crossbowmen, they can easily lure them to the garrisoned Castle. Because the player cannot build additional Castles, they will not be able to produce Cataphracts fast enough to defend Troia on their own, but it would be a good idea to mix in a few as a meat shield to protect the Camel Riders from infantry.

The player should research Iron Casting early on, as the Holy Roman Empire's Trebuchets will only take one damage per hit otherwise; acquiring this technology will give the player far more flexibility before the enemy's melee units can catch up to their Camel Riders. If the player's army is badly outnumbered, they can force the invading soldiers to chase their army around the Stone Walls surrounding the Castle until the enemy units are few enough to attack directly. The player will also need to construct a University and research Murder Holes before the enemies start attacking.

Do not worry about paying the Normans 1,000 gold. Gold will be extremely important early on for producing lots of Camel Riders and researching upgrades, and by the time the Normans join the enemies, the player should be in the Imperial Age and have lots of Heavy Camel Riders, which the Norman Cavaliers are no match against.

Although the player will need to produce several Camel Riders during the first several minutes to stave off the Holy Roman Empire's initial assault, it is advised that the player advances to the Imperial Age shortly after stabilizing their army. Having access to Heavy Camel Rider, Plate Barding ArmorBracer, and Chemistry will be very helpful as the Holy Roman Empire upgrades their Cavaliers into Paladins and the Normans start attacking the player.

If the Castle takes lots of damage, task a Villager to repair it. There is some stone just to the southwest of the Castle that the player can mine for this, but the player can buy some stone from their Market, as well. The player should never allow the Castle to have less than half of its initial hit points whenever possible, as they will need plenty of flexibility in case enemy siege weapons start damaging it.

Conquest strategy[edit | edit source]

If the player prefers to win the scenario by simply defeating the Papal States and Holy Roman Empire, their army should be primarily comprised of Halberdiers, Arbalesters, Paladins, and Siege Rams. Halberdiers are less expensive for the Byzantines and will be useful for stopping the Holy Roman Empire's heavily armored Paladins. Arbalesters can be fully upgraded and are great against the opponents' Teutonic Knights, Genoese Crossbowmen, and Halberdiers. Without a Castle, Cataphracts are unavailable to the player, making Paladins the best option for destroying siege weapons and slaying Villagers. Likewise, Trebuchets cannot be produced if the Castle is destroyed, so Siege Rams are the player's best option for destroying enemy buildings. Garrisoning the Siege Rams with Halberdiers will allow them to move faster and protect them in case enemy Paladins start attacking them.

The player should ensure that they have a strong farming economy in the eastern corner of the map, which will be easier to protect than the passes leading to the enemy factions. The player should protect the road leading to Capua, as not only is there plenty of wood to chop down, but it will allow them to trade with Capua after exhausting the gold mine just southwest of the player's starting base. Unlike the northern passes, this area will be less vulnerable to attacks by the Holy Roman Empire, which are the player's most dangerous opponent.

Although the player should boom up to the Imperial Age quickly, they should not forget to train additional troops to guard their base, as the enemy factions will otherwise quickly overrun the player after destroying the Castle.

Tributing 1,000 gold to the Normans is a much better idea if the player is going for this strategy, as the player will not need to invest so many of their resources in protecting the Castle site early on. Additionally, the Norman Cavaliers will serve as a useful distraction to the enemies while the player is besieging their bases.

Outro[edit | edit source]

"The Holy Roman Empire was no trifling opponent. Many good men fell parrying the assaults on Troia.

Boioannes' forces struck out at Dattus' tower on the Garigliano and dragged him from it. Following the ancient Roman custom, Dattus was confined in a leather sack with a rooster, a monkey, and a viper, and cast into the sea.

Byzantine Italy flourished under Boioannes' tenure as catepan. Alas that the incompetence of his successors have brought us to this dreadful pass..."

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