Young men always wish to go to battle. They seek the romantic ideal of it, hoping to win renown and praise from their lord. They think that war is a noble affair, and that they can find glory on the battlefield. But my father, I, and any other soldier all know one thing for certain: The battlefield is the last place you will find it. There is nothing on the battlefield but the shouts of soldiers, the screams of dying men, and the stench of death.
Courage is a fickle thing -- it often accompanies men to the battlefield and leaves them there. Those who can hold onto their courage, when fear sets in -- they are true heroes. But they are few. I long for peace. All of my life has been dominated by war, from the beginning of my training in the art of soldiery to the battles I fight here every day.
I can hardly even remember the sound of music in the streets, the noises of a bustling city on market day, or even the din of merriment. Every day is the same -- the sounds of battle, the whistling of rocks hurled from Norman trebuchets, and the solemn evening tales in the taverns told by men who had seen too few seasons but looked as if they had seen far too many.
Michael walked towards me, a grave look in his eyes. He handed me his sword, a weapon passed down through our family, and his old helm, breastplate, faulds, and greaves. "They are yours now -- this is it," he said. "Today, you must leave this place. Our family has been here for 200 years, it is true, and I am proud to have been able to tell my son our story. But you must think of your future too."
"Someday, you will tell your son this story with the same pride. Fight well today, escape, and secure yourself that future." I looked out the window, and noticed a strange sight -- our soldiers walked the streets in the garb of the Tagmata. Then I saw the Varangians, and that could mean only one thing: allied ships had run the Norman blockade and delivered a few reinforcements. "If they could do it, so can I," I thought as I walked out the door.
This scenario consists of a series of quests, that must be accomplished in a row in order to finally conclude the campaign, by sailing away from the doomed city of Bari.
- Andreas must survive.
- Cranos must survive. (during the ship repairing quest) (1)
- You will lose if the trebuchet gets destroyed. (trebuchet quest) (2)
- Bring Andreas and his men to the camp marked by the flag.
- Defend the camp against Norman attacks. You will lose if the barracks are destroyed.
- Escort the food carts to the granary marked by the flag. You will lose if either cart is destroyed.
- Meet with Catepan Stephanos Pateranos near the breach in the wall.
- Destroy three of the four marked buildings (lumberyard, barracks, mill and archery range), while preventing the destruction of any of your own military structures. You will obtain resources to train more troops when you raze any of these buildings.
- Repair the ship of Loukas Procopius and bring it back to the docks of Bari. (1)
- Bring Andreas and the trebuchet to Stephanos Pateranos. (2)
- Destroy the Norman tower. (2)
- Normans are attacking Stephanos Pateranos from behind. Prevent him from getting killed.
- Destroy the two Norman docks.
- Head to the docks of Bari.
- Sail to freedom.
As with the other scenarios, the player plays as the Byzantines. Their forces are represented by the blue color.
- Normans (Franks) - This player controls the majority of the Norman army, including some prowling Knights, just outside the city of Bari. They are also the faction that attacks the camp that guards the Farms to the west of Bari, with overwhelming forces, consisting of mixed infantry, cavalry and archer units, and also, the one to attack the breach to the north wall, whereas the Norman navy is also under their control. This player begins in the Dark Age.
- Normans (Franks) - They represent the Norman forces that guard the structures found at the Norman base, to the north of the wall breach.
- Normans (Franks) - A minor placeholder player, that prevents engaging forces uninvolved with each quest.
- Bari (Italians) - Controls the city of Bari, as well as some other structures on the countryside, such as the Farms to the west.
- Bari (Byzantines) - Conists of the Bari defending forces, including the ones of the Catepan, who must be saved from Norman counterattacks to the northeast of Bari.
Defending the Barracks
Head to the west of the city to defend the Barracks from Norman attacks. Be careful though: just to the middle of the route between Bari and the Barracks prowl three Norman Knights that can kill Andreas should the player make the mistake to send him first. If possible sneak the group past to avoid them.
Stuff all infantry in between Barracks and Palisade Walls. Pull the Knights to the outside of the east entrance. Attack the Crossbowmen and Mangonel with Knights after the infantry has killed most of the units.
Returning to Bari
The next quest is to escort two Trade Carts to the Market at Bari. Before reaching the city, the player will be attacked by a group of two Light Cavalry and three Knights. As soon as they are dealt with, the player can enter the city.
The next task is to meet with the Tagmata captain close to a Castle. After the dialogue, head to the northeast to the wall breach to meet with Stephanos Pateranos, but don't forget to heal the units at a Monk nearby. The player is then given control of three military structures, they are tributed 1500 food, 1000 gold and wood and also control a fairly large army.
Counterattacking the Normans
The next mission is to destroy three of four marked structures (a renamed large Yurt model named as "lumberyard", a Mill, a Barracks or an Archery Range), while preventing the destruction of their own military structures. The player will receive resources for each structure destroyed (the Mill for example provides 1000 food and 200 wood). Either way, tread carefully, engaging one battlegroup at a time and be prepared to stave off massive counterattacks as well. Both will consist of mixed cavalry units, Nordic Swordsmen, Pikemen, Crossbowmen and the occasional Throwing Axeman, as well as Capped Rams and Scorpions.
In general, the Normans use much larger armies, so it is imperative to abuse every possible advantage. Crossbowmen fare better at hilly ground, like the one found close to the "lumberyard". The Normans use rather large cavalry forces, so the player has to make good use of the cheaper Byzantine counterunits. After managing to destroy three out of four structures, Norman attacks are temporarily halted.
The game will then switch to a scene where Pateranos orders a large group of Knights to fight a Norman army. Then, the next mission given to the player is to acquire a Trebuchet from a man named Loukas Procopius (who is mentioned to have bought it from a Norman soldier). He will demand that Andreas escorts his assistant Cranos to repair a Trade Cog sited to a sandy islet. A Nordic Swordsman and a Throwing Axeman will disembark soon; Cranos must not be killed.
When the deal is done, take the Trebuchet to a gate to the north to acquire a large force. The next quests are to protect Pateranos from being killed, as he is counterattacked by Normans to the north of his position, while destroying a Norman tower.
Try drawing some of the units that defend the tower to the walls to be taken care of, while sending troops to simultaneously defend Pateranos and help the player set up the Trebuchet to destroy the tower. Normans also transport units to the southwest of the tower, so be prepared to protect the Trebuchet at all costs.
When done with, the player will be given a large fleet of five Fast Fire Ships (renamed as Dromons), eight War Galleys and three Demolition Ships. The goal is to destroy two Norman Docks to the north. The enemy is using both naval units (composed of Galleons and Galleys) and shore troops (two Onagers and some Crossbowmen, as well as a Scorpion). They will also send a large fleet after a bit, so manage the ships well, using the Dromons and Demolition Ships to destroy as many ships as possible.
Sailing out of the city
And finally, the last mission: to head towards the harbor to set sail out of Bari. After a dialogue with Loukas Prokopius, order Andreas to enter the Transport Ship and sail to a designated spot. There is a catch though: a few Galleys will come after the ship and they must be destroyed first. This is done by luring them to move to sandbanks by positioning a sandbank between you and the Galley; these are triggered to destroy any ships that access them to be destroyed, including the player's.
Once they are done with, the player beats the mission. A cinematic begins, narrating how Andreas' father died defending the city of Bari. Andreas contemplates that it is time he changes profession, seeking a future life of peace.
Now in the heart of the Byzantine Empire, my ship was not the only one to have sailed from Bari. One morning, I was speaking to the owner of a small butcher shop, when I heard shouts from down in the harbor. Racing down to the docks, I saw several men being carried from their battered vessel, a ship that had sailed from Bari just as the Norman armies entered the city. I asked for news of my father.
"The folk always whispered of your father's fame as a soldier, but he looked ageless in all his glory," one told me. "Just as he did all those years ago, he fought valiantly in the streets for his honor and his people, and died honorably." I turned to my own thoughts... I still have my family's weaponry and armor, but I doubt I will ever wear them again. I have seen enough battle for ten lifetimes, and I hope to try my hand at a different craft.
I think I shall travel the Empire from Thessaly to Anatolia, seeking work as I go. Perhaps I will earn enough money to buy myself and my future family a house in the countryside outside Patrae, and raise miles of vineyards on the hillside. And maybe one day, when I recount the tale of my family to my children and grandchildren, I will be able to conclude it with how we have found peace at last.