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The Boiling Lake is the fifth scenario of the Montezuma campaign in Age of Empires II: The Conquerors. The scenario stands for the Battle of Otumba (July 7, 1520), though any similarities are incidental.


Passed down to you by Cuauhtémoc, Emperor of Tenochtitlan. The death of Montezuma only served to further inflame the fury of my people. I planned to lead the attack personally against the Spanish. "That is as it should be, Cuauhtémoc," the priests told me, "for you are now our emperor."

I took my place on the icpalli throne and the headdress of the emperor was placed upon my head. A crown is never a comfortable thing to wear.

Cortéz had still not made it far from Tenochtitlan, for the Spanish were weighed down with our stolen gold. As they fled around the shores of the lake, my warriors pursued them from canoes.

I sent additional warriors by land, for it was obvious now that Cortéz was attempting to flee back to the safety of his allies in Tlaxcala. We caught up with the Spanish on the north side of Lake Texcoco.

Scenario instructions[]

Starting conditions[]

Differences between difficulty levels[]


  • Defeat the Tlaxcalans and Spanish.
    • OPTIONAL: Bringing captured Spanish units to the plaza (inside the torches) will allow you to create new units.
      Bringing horses will create cavalry.
      Bringing Trade Carts full of gunpowder will create Bombards.


  1. This far from Tenochtitlan you are cut off from your resources and will have to search for additional gold and stone.
  2. Spanish Cannon Galleons are deadly. Do not lose your navy on Lake Texcoco or risk shore bombardment.
  3. Tlaxcala Jaguar Warriors are adept at defeating Aztec infantry. A pity the Aztecs have been unable to domesticate horses….


  • Your scouts report: The Aztecs (green) begin on an island in Lake Texcoco in pursuit of fleeing Spanish (blue) and Tlaxcalans (red).
  • The two enemies have a combined fortress to the north of the lake that will require a considerable army to penetrate.
  • Additional resources can be garnered east and west of the lake, but if you do not focus enough on a navy the Spanish will be able to level your entire town with their ships.


  • The Player (Aztecs) begins with two separate civilian and military bases on two islands on the southern edge of the map, with few resources. The lake is almost entirely made of shallows, so the buildings are liable to attack by naval and ground units alike. Three Watch Towers to the northwest reveal more resources on land closer to the enemy. The player also begins with a small navy and an army thrown into battle with the retreating Spanish.



The player starts on two islands at the southeast, the left one a civilian island with a small navy, and the right one a military island with ground units facing Cortéz's army at the start. In The Conquerors, the Spanish will flee uninterrupted to the lake shore, making killing them rather easy, but in the Definitive Edition, they will fight back earlier. Still, they are not much against the Aztec army. If the battle rages all the way to the shore, the Spanish and their pursuers will walk into somewhat stronger Tlaxcalan troops.

Scouting east of the starting place will reveal the first of two Gaia "Gunpowder Carts" (actually Old World Trade Carts). If captured Trade Carts are brought to the tiles between flags on the player's military island, they will be exchanged for Bombard Cannons (beware of not placing more than one cart at a time, as these will produce only one Cannon; this bug is fixed in the Definitive Edition). The creation of Trade Carts is disabled in order to avoid cheating. The players can also capture Horses from Cortéz's pens (actually belonging to Gaia); when brought to the same flagged area, each Horse turns into an Elite Tarkan (in The Conquerors), or a Xolotl Warrior (in the Definitive Edition, equivalent to a Knight with all armor and attack upgrades researched). Tarkans are best used to destroy Cortéz's pens and capture more Horses; Xolotl Warriors are not as effective at this, so siege weapons should be employed instead, and the Xolotl Warriors used to defend the siege from enemy attacks.

Neither starting island has Gold or Stone Mines and trade with Cogs is dangerous. Because of that, the player should build a second base near the towers northwest as soon as possible and use the first captured bombards and some of the starting warriors to defend it. This will also place the player's forces closer to some of Cortéz's worst defended Horse pens and Gunpowder Carts to the northeast, only guarded by one Bombard Tower and coming Spanish and Tlaxcalan armies. Losing the islands is not the end of the game, as the flagged area will continue working - but it is easier if the buildings are preserved, obviously. To defend the islands and troops marching on the shallows, invest in Fire Ships or Eagle Warriors and micro them to destroy Cortéz's siege and Cannon Galleons before they can do damage. Keep capturing Horses and Carts, as the Tlaxcalans have no counter to them, and push from the west until finding the enemy Town Centers and Castles and destroying them.

In the Definitive Edition, Aztecs have access to Demolition Ships, which will be deadly to enemy land units crossing shallow waters (the Aztecs lack the Heavy Demolition Ship upgrade, but doing this is still very cost-effective).

Alternative strategy[]

Since Cortéz will resign as soon as his Town Center is destroyed, the player can defeat Cortéz in the beginning by sending their Elite Eagle Warriors through the western part of the map, putting them under Cortéz's Town Center and attacking it. Cortéz will defend himself with Bombard Cannons, which will only speed up the destruction of his Town Center due to friendly splash damage. With his Town Center destroyed, Cortéz will resign and the player only has to worry about Tlaxcala.


I hoped that the surviving Spanish on the edge of the lake could see as their captured comrades were dragged up the steps of the great pyramid. Perhaps they would then understand why we feared the wrath of the feathered serpent, Quetzalcoatl. Perhaps they would know fear as well.

With the fighting subsided, there was much work to be done. Our city had suffered much from the Spanish occupation and the fighting in the streets. The priests set out repairing the temples, for the Spanish had cast down the idols that we had placed there.

We began a celebration to give thanks to the gods when a great plague struck Tenochtitlan. Many of our people became helpless and could only lie on their beds. Many others died.

We did not know if the gods were still unhappy with us, or if this was some weapon unleashed by the Spanish. Regardless, if Cortéz returned, he would find a much weakened city. I could not let that happen. So says Cuauhtémoc, Emperor of Tenochtitlan.

Historical comparison[]

  • In reality, the emperor who succeeded Montezuma was his brother Cuitlahuac, who died 80 days later from the plague referenced in the outro. Cuauhtemoc succeeded Cuitlahuac. The same plague (smallpox) made its way to the Inca Empire before the Spanish and precipitated the civil war that facilitated the Spanish conquest, by killing the emperor Huayna Capac and his designated heir.
  • The military island corresponds with Xaltocan, an Aztec colony razed by Cortéz in 1521.
  • Otumba was actually a decisive Spanish-Tlaxcalan victory over the much numerically superior Aztecs. The most decisive action was a cavalry charge that succeeded in killing the Aztec commander, Matlatzincatzin, and seizing his banner. After this, the Aztec army retired and disintegrated. The Aztecs were unable to respond to the charge because they had never seen the Spanish using horses offensively and thought of them as pack animals. Also, though the Spanish and Tlaxcalans retreated along the western and northern shore of Lake Texcoco, the Aztecs caught up with them on the plains east of the lake, not by it.
  • The Aztecs really captured several horses in Tenochtitlan and Tecoaque. However, they made no attempt to incorporate them into their forces and just sacrificed them along with any captured Spaniards. Neither did they use the cannon and arquebuses left by the Spanish at Tenochtitlan, though according to Bernal Díaz del Castillo, they used captured swords, pikes, and crossbows at the 1521 Siege of Tenochtitlan.
    • Something more like this quest happened in the rebellion of Manco Inca against the Spanish in 1536-1540, during which he besieged Cuzco and Lima and was said to employ captured Spanish horses, swords, armor, and at least one Culverin. Other Amerindian peoples also adopted horses and gunpowder later and used them to raid Spanish colonies, including the Chichimecs, Apache, Comanche, and Mapuche.