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The Great Ride is the second scenario in the Attila the Hun campaign in Age of Empires II: The Conquerors. It is loosely based on the Hunnic invasion of the Balkans of 443 - 445 A.D.


Now that the memories had stirred, Father Armand seemed eager to tell his tale. He explained how the Huns, like the other barbarians, had a style of warfare dramatically different from the ancient Romans or my own Franks.

The Huns would charge as one group, often firing arrows as they came, and then suddenly retreat again. For the nations of Europe, who were used to forming up lines and columns and even issuing challenges for personal combat, this was an aberration. They were unable to comprehend warfare in this manner.

Barbarians did not conquer lands. They did not try and hold and colonize the cities they attacked. Instead, they ravaged and pillaged, and took their loot back to their camps.

By that time, there were two Roman Empires, the government having decided that the Roman lands were simply too vast for one city to manage effectively. Attila and the Huns began a series of raids into the Eastern Empire.

Scenario instructions[]

Starting conditions[]


  • Raid the Roman villages. Once you have enough resources to build a forward base, then you can field an army against the Romans.
    • Train an army and defeat the Romans by leveling their Town Center.
    • OPTIONAL: Give 6 Villagers to the Scythian Wild Women in return for their assistance.


  1. Each of the small villages (not counting the Roman fort) has a resource: food, wood, gold, stone, villagers, and troops. Your Tarkans will suggest what to do in each village to capture a resource.
  2. This is a raid—get what you can and get out! Destroying some buildings will grant you resources, but it is not necessary to raze every enemy building.
  3. Notice locations of resources. You might need them at a later date.
  4. The Huns are still confined to the Castle Age.


  • Your scouts report: Attila's Huns (yellow) invade the Eastern Roman Empire with several cavalry, but no villagers. They expect only token resistance from all of the villages.
  • The exception is the Roman army (blue), which has a fortified base to the east. Do not attempt the invade it until you are prepared.
  • The other villages may have food, wood, gold, stone, villagers, or troops that you can use to challenge the Romans.



  • The Player (Huns) starts with a small cavalry army in the northern corner of the map and no base.


  • The Scythians (Mongols) have a Yurt in a clearing in the woods in the center of the map, east of the river, three passive Scythian Wild Women and several Hunting Wolves. After seeing them, they will request six Villagers; when given the trees will disappear and make way to reach yet another clearing a little to the northeast. In The Conquerors, the player will be rewarded there with 14 Hunting Wolves and 12 Petards, and in the Definitive Edition they will be rewarded with 9 Mangudai, 1 Onager, and 3 Capped Rams.


  • Thessalonica (Byzantines) lies in the southwest. Destroying their Houses will give the player custody of their Villagers and Fishing Ships (only Villagers in the Definitive Edition). They have a few Archers and a Monk guarding their town.


  • Adrianople (Byzantines) lies in the south. Destroying all their Mining Camps earns the player gold. They have a few Monks guarding their Monastery.
  • Dyrrhachium (Teutons, Byzantines in the Definitive Edition) is in the west. There are Gaia military units at their Castle. Destroying their Town Center will make them resign and delete their Castle.
  • Naissus (Goths, Byzantines in the Definitive Edition) is in the northeast. Destroying all of their Lumber Camps earns the player wood. They have no army.
  • Sofia (Franks, Byzantines in the Definitive Edition) is in the north, west of the player's starting point and will likely be encountered first. Destroying their Town Center earns the player food and results in their defeat. They have a few Men-at-Arms.
  • The Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantines) has a fortified town near Adrianople, to the southeast, which is protected by Walls, Towers, and a moat. They mostly field Crossbowmen and Mangonels, but on hard difficulty they also field many Pikemen, Long Swordsmen, Knights, Scorpions, and rams.


The first part of the scenario is straightforward. Destroy Sofia's Town Center with Tarkans. It is recommended to snipe the majority of Sofia's Villagers and troops with Cavalry Archers before attacking so they don't cause much damage. Next, head east to Naissus and destroy their Lumber Camps, caring that their Watch Tower doesn't target the Cavalry Archers.

Turn back and head west to Dyrrhachium. They have five archers and a Mangonel enclosed by a Palisade Wall which makes them unable to leave, so it is not necessary to fight them. Further west there is a stone-walled area with the Dyrrhachium Castle nearer its western side and a few Gaia Tarkans and Hussars corraled by Palisade next to the Castle. There are several ways to save them:

  • On Standard difficulty, Dyrrhachium does not have Murder Holes researched, so it is easy to destroy the Castle even with just the "captive" units after capturing them.
  • On Moderate/Hard difficulty, the Castle has Murder Holes, so the player should destroy the Palisade and run out of Castle range. In doing so, the player will find Dyrrhachium's Town Center in the middle of the stone-walled area, and destroying it will trigger Dyrrhachium's defeat. Alternatively, the units can simply flee to the southern or western part of the Stone Wall, destroy a Gate or section and escape Dyrrhachium. Beware that both options will alert the Pikemen in the southeastern part of Dyrrhachium, which can be killed by the player's Cavalry Archers using hit-and-run tactics.
  • Alternatively, the player can attack Dyrrhachium from the eastern side. First kill the enemy Pikemen with Cavalry Archers and then destroy the Gate and the Town Center with Tarkans. Dyrrhachium will resign and delete their Castle and then the player can rescue the prisoners.

March south to Thessalonica and kill its Archers and Monk without harming Thessalonica's Villagers, then destroy the Houses. This gives the player's control of most if not all Villagers (and in The Conquerors, also one of their Fishing Ships). Since Thessalonica has Fish Traps, the player can build a Dock and Fishing Ships to fish from Thessalonica's Fish Traps. Cross the shallows until meeting Adrianople's Monks, kill them, and destroy their Mining Camps to get their gold, then continue east until finding the perimeter of the Roman fort. Turn north without attacking or luring out their Crossbowmen and Mangonels, and find the path in the central forest leading to the Scythian Wild Women's Yurt. They demand six Villagers in return for helping the player. From this point there are two main ways to continue the scenario:

  1. Give the Scythians six of the Villagers captured in Thessalonica, add their troops to the starting forces and rush the Roman camp before it builds further without ever establishing a base, or
  2. Use all Villagers to build a base and send some to the Scythians later (if at all). The obvious place for a base is within or near Thessalonica, but if Dyrrhachium is defeated it can be near there, or even in Sofia; this allows the player's Villagers to capture abandoned Farms, and any Markets built there will receive maximum gold from trading with Thessalonica's. Sofia also has the largest gold mines outside of Adrianople. However, beware that time invested in building a base will be used by the Eastern Roman Empire to build its own forces and attack. It is useful to build a Castle near the shallows to neutralize this.

There are two Gates into the Roman camp. The northern one (to Naissus) is closer to its military producing buildings and thus better to cripple the Eastern Roman Empire in an attack. Attacking forces should include siege weapons and a sizeable number of Cavalry Archers because by the time most players attack the Eastern Roman Empire, they are likely to have built a Castle near their Town Center, as well as trained several Pikemen and Knights that are strong against Tarkans.

Note: the Eastern Roman Empire will not go on the offensive as long as the player has not built a Town Center.


The Roman city of Naissus was erased from the earth. The Huns so devastated the place that when the Roman ambassadors passed through to meet with Attila, they had to camp outside the city on the river. The riverbanks were covered with human bones, and the stench of death was so great that no one could enter the city. Many cities of Europe would soon suffer the same fate.

The ambassadors that the Romans sent to Attila concealed an assassination attempt.

Somehow, Attila knew of the attempt on his life, and sent the terrified assassin back to his Emperor, with the gold he had been paid to do the deed in a sack tied to his neck.

Following such a demonstration, the Huns had no difficulty convincing the Eastern Roman Empire to start paying them tribute, protection money to stave off the inevitable Hun invasion.


  • In the Definitive Edition, all enemies in this scenario become Byzantines. This is fitting because they all represent cities in the Eastern Roman Empire.
  • In the co-op campaign mode, there is a 15 minute timer before the Eastern Roman Empire becomes active (regardless of whether any of the players has built a Town Center) and the players have to destroy the Roman Castle to win the scenario, even though the objectives section only mention the Town Center. Similarly, Dyrrhachium only resigns and deletes their remaining units and military buildings after both their Castle and Town Center are destroyed.

Historical comparison[]

  • This campaign was actually led by Attila and Bleda together while the latter was alive. Some even speculate that Attila murdered Bleda because he decided to return north after defeating the Eastern Roman army instead of advancing on nearby Constantinople, which had not built its famous double-walls and Sea Wall yet.
  • Sofia, the modern capital of Bulgaria, was called Serdica at the time and is actually east of Naissus (modern Nis, Serbia), rather than west as in the scenario.
  • Dyrrhachium (modern Durrës, Albania), is a coastal city in reality and was a prominent port city in Antiquity, but it is landlocked in the scenario.
  • Philippopolis (now Plovdiv, Bulgaria), which is sacked by Attila in the following scenario, was actually sacked in this campaign.