The Horde Rides West is the fourth scenario of the Genghis Khan campaign in Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings. It is based on the Mongol conquest of Khwarezmia (1219-1221), and to a much lesser extent, of Cumania (1217-1241) and Russia (1223-1242).
Both Genghis' and Subotai's forces begin separated by a cliff, and it is only possible to unite them after advancing towards the Persian citadel. Subotai attacks Russia (Goths) while the Khan must first deliver a gift to the Persian Khwarazm shah within 30 minutes - but the presents are actually assassins hidden inside two Trade Carts, which will attack the Shah until he dies. Then the objective changes defeating the Persians. If you take too long delivering the cart, the Persians will attack you anyway; they will also attack if they spot military forces from your camp. It is best to build the military of Genghis' camp first since the Persians will be much more aggressive than the Russians. The Russians will only send in small waves of infantry which can be easily repulsed. There is also a Merkit camp near Subotai that will immediately surrender when their two cavalry archers are killed, providing several buildings for the player. After building up a sufficient force in the South, assassinate the Shah and sweep the Persians off the map. It's best to build a large anti-cavalry force as the Shah's army consists primarily of Paladins and War Elephants; the Mongols have terrible Monks, so converting the War Elephants may not be all that effective. After the Shah is defeated the combined forces of Subotai and Genghis should then clear the poorly defended Russians with little trouble.
Scenario instructions Edit
Starting conditions Edit
- Starting Age: Castle Age
- Starting resources: 200 wood, 400 food, 200 gold, 200 stone
- Population limit: 75
- Starting units:
- Subotai must survive
- In the north, deploy Subotai's horde to conquer Russia.
- In the south, the Khwarazm shah is expecting a gift. But it is assassins he will find in our Trade Carts. We must deliver the carts to the shah quickly, before he breaks his alliance with us.
- Defeat the Khwarazm Empire.
- Your two armies are divided and will not be able to meet until they reach Samarkand.
- If your assassination attempt fails, the leadership of the shah will guarantee that the Persians are a much more deadly enemy.
- The Persians are expecting their gift. If they do not receive it soon, they may eventually declare war on you.
- Player (Mongols): The player starts with two small bases - Subotai's in the north, Khan's in the east.
Allies → Enemies Edit
- Khwarazm (Persians): Initially allied, Khwarazm becomes the primary enemy once the assassins killed the Shah. He has a large fortified city in the south with a couple of Castles. He mainly attacks with Paladins, Cavalry Archers, and War Elephants.
- Merkids/Kipchaks (Mongols, Cumans in the Definitive Edition): The Merkids have a small base west of Subotai's base in the north. They are inactive and after killing their two Cavalry Archers, they resign and give all their buildings to the player.
- Russians (Goths, Slavs in the Definitive Edition): The Russians are the primary enemy in the north. They attack with small groups of Men-at-Arms and Battering Rams, occasionally adding Huskarls and Knights. Their base is small and without walls, although with one Castle.
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- This is the only scenario in the campaign that has no direct equivalent in the fifth Design Document of Ensemble Studios (dated 17 July 1998), although the assassination of the Shah resembles a planned mission to infiltrate a Hsi Hsia mountain fortress and kill their King.
- After bursting from their Trade Carts, the assassins will not be attacked by the Persians until they kill the Shah. Take advantage of this by killing all of the Shah's ceremonial troops (who incidentally also comprise most of the Persian Army), then slaughter the Shah without fear of retaliation. The two assassins alone can thus cause serious damage before your troops even arrive. Additionally, only the Castles and Wonder need to be destroyed to defeat the Persians, so consider destroying them before assassinating the Shah. This can best be accomplished by building Siege Workshops in the Persians' base and creating Battering Rams.
- If you fail to assassinate the Shah, then the Persians immediately gain 2000 food and gold, and choose to build 40 villagers instead of 25. It is still possible to beat them, albeit much more difficult.
- In Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition, the Russians are now accurately represented by the Slavs, while the Merkids are replaced with the Kipchaks and given the Cuman tech tree.
Historical comparison Edit
- In sharp contrast to the scenario's temperate environment, this area is occupied by desert and steppe in reality, with forests only in mountain ranges and near rivers. In fact, one of the greatest feats in the campaign was the march of the main Mongol force through the arid Kyzylkum Desert to attack Khwarazm from the north, which the Khwarazmians believed impossible but the Mongols achieved through a revolutionary system of Logistics.
- The division of the Mongol forces mirrors their real life strategy of attacking with a decoy army through the mountains to the east, to lure the bulk of the Khwarazmian army there, then invading the weakened Khwarazmian garrisons from the north. The two armies converged in the capital Samarkand, as in the scenario.
- Though the scenario begins with the Mongols using traders to hide assassins for the Shah and weaken Khwarazm for an invasion, the real war was caused by the Khwarazmians killing a genuine Mongol trading expedition. Genghis Khan sent an army led by Subotai and Chepe to capture the Shah after the fact, but he escaped to an island near Abaskun in the Caspian Sea and died of pleurisy there.
- The presence of Russians is strange. Wether the large body of water to the west is the Aral Sea or the Caspian, their in-game location would fall within the Cuman-Kypchak Confederation, which was invaded by the Mongols for sheltering Merkit refugees. Later on, the Mongols would invade Russia, Poland, Hungary, and Bulgaria in pursuit of Cuman refugees.
- Relatedly, Subotai's role seems a combination of four of his real life campaigns - if not more:
- Against the Merkits and their Cuman allies in 1217-1220, during which he also defeated a Khwarazmian expedition against him.
- The invasion of Khwarazm from the north, which was actually led by Genghis Khan himself (with Subotai by his side).
- The "Great Raid" where Subotai and Chepe pursued the Shah west before turning north and defeating the Cumans and Russians at the Kalka River, in 1223.
- The invasion of Russia proper in 1236-1240, where the Russians suffered from internal division (unlike at Kalka and in the scenario, where they were/are a single force).
- Many players question the Khawarazmians using War Elephants against Genghis Khan due to the game's Persian civilization being based mainly on the Sassanid Empire. However, the Samarkand garrison did indeed have an elephant corps, and the Mongols defeated it by firing catapults on them. Not impressed with the elephants, Genghis Khan had the surviving animals released to the steppe to fend for themselves instead of incorporating them into his army, and they died of starvation.
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