The Iron Lords is the third scenario of the Jan Zizka campaign in Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition - Dawn of the Dukes.
Despite my skill as a commander, I cannot say that I am a great man - but I was fortunate to be alive at the same time as one, and even luckier to join his ranks. That man was the reformer Jan Hus.
Hus saw through the hypocrisies of our leaders and criticized them openly; the clergy and nobility, he said, exploited the common folk and denied them the wine in the holy act of communion. He was fearless - and the Pope was terrified of him.
Hus was charged with heresy, and the Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund pledged him safe passage to Konstanz to defend himself – but the foul knave reneged on his word and handed Hus over for execution. Resolute to the last, Hus remained true to his cause even as the flames took him.
The tidings of Hus' brutal end sent Bohemia into a frenzy. With unbridled rage, we Hussites stormed the town hall in Prague and hurled royalist officials through its windows.
Powerless to contain the chaos, King Wenceslaus died of shock, causing the hated Sigismund to lay claim to the throne. Now, as we prepare for all-out war, some Hussites have journeyed to the south and rebuilt an abandoned fortress into the citadel of Tabor.
I march to join them, but our route is fraught with peril. A league of ruthless noblemen known as the Iron Lords have sworn death to any Hussite that they meet, and most of our army consists of untrained peasants: men - and even some women – who have never seen a day of battle.
If we are to survive an onslaught of armored knights, these untrained commoners will have to turn wagons into weapons and fight in a way never seen before.
- Starting Age: Castle Age
- Starting resources: None; then 500 food, 1,000 wood, 500 gold, and 300 stone
- Population limit: 150
- Starting units:
- Destroy the Castle in 2 of the 3 enemy fortresses (Sedlec, Pisek, and Prachatice).
- Plunder the Blacksmiths of the Iron Lords (3, Green) to obtain additional upgrades.
- Plunder the Trade Workshops of the Iron Lords (3, Green) to obtain additional resources.
- Jan Zizka is restricted to the Castle Age and can support a population limit of 150.
- The Iron Lords prowl the route to Tabor. To preserve the integrity of your force, use dense terrain and elevation advantageously and fight only when absolutely necessary.
- The Taborites have quarried most of the nearby stone to build their fortress. Additional stone must be sought in enemy territory.
- The Hussites are peasants with only rudimentary war materials at their disposal. Plunder enemy armories and estates to acquire more advanced armor and weapons.
- Although Jan Zizka and his Hussites cannot currently recruit Knights, the Bohemians can train powerful Hand Cannoneers in the Castle Age - provided that they can somehow obtain the knowledge of Chemistry.
Your scouts report:
- Jan Zizka's Hussite army (1, Cyan) has just left Plzen and is marching to reinforce the allied fortress of Tabor (2, Purple), which is located in the east of the map.
- The Iron Lords (3, Green) have reneged on their peace agreement with Zizka and now scour the countryside for him and his army. Their forces of cavalry and infantry block the route to Tabor and defend several estates and armories scattered throughout the map.
- Three major enemy fortresses dominate the region:
- Sedlec (4, Orange) lies to the north and is defended by Pikemen, Skirmishers, and Scorpions.
- Pisek (5, Blue) is situated to the southwest and will field armies of cavalry and Mangonels.
- Prachatice (6, Yellow) towers over the southeast region. Its forces consist of swordsman, Crossbowmen, and rams.
- Player (Bohemians): The player begins with a force of weak Feudal Age soldiers bolstered by Hussite Wagons in the northwest of the map.
- The Hussite citadel of Tabor (Bohemians) lies on the east end of the map, beyond the river Lužnice. It consists of a Castle, several towers on the perimeter, most military and economic buildings, and contains 15 Villagers. The player gains control of the city and its population when they arrive with at least 10 soldiers and 3 Hussite Wagons, and also gains its stockpile of 500 food, 1,000 wood, 500 gold, and 300 stone.
- The Iron Lords (Bohemians) initially attempt to intercept the player's forces before they can reach the safety of their citadel, and then send some regiments to attack. Seven of their estates lie across the region, containing a Trade Workshop, a Blacksmith, or both, along with a tower and their troops patrolling nearby.
- Sedlec (Bohemians) lies in the north.
- Pisek (Bohemians) lies in the west.
- Prachatice (Bohemians) lies in the south.
This scenario limits the player to the Castle Age, yet can be managed even without the access to gunpowder units or Trebuchets, even on hard.
The player starts in the north of the map, with a Feudal army of Archers, Spearmen, Men-at-Arms, and a few Hussite Wagons (unique units). Similar to Korean War Wagons, they tend to be a bit clunky to maneuver and their damage is weak, but they are undeniably tanky. They also make units behind them tankier. The player should use them as meat shields (wooden shields?) in the early phase of this scenario where they will need to reach purple town. Across the first river crossing will be a few Knights and Long Swordsmen. The player should try to lure them in few groups if possible. The first bridge the player comes by is too well fortified to cross, therefore the player should continue southbound. The player will encounter a group of Light Cavalry and Knights. At this stage, the player can choose between two options. First, brute force their way through the force guarding the bridge next to purple town. It is guarded by a dozen Knights, Light Cavalry, and Long Swordsmen. The player could expect several casualties. Alternatively, the player can circumvent this army by crossing the marshes south of their position, entering via the spot guarded by two wolves. This will allow the player to proceed via the island on the river delta directly south of purple base where one of Green's Blacksmith is located. By destroying it, the player will be granted Chain Mail Armor and the Pikeman upgrade, helping in the upcoming battles.
Whichever route the player decides to pick, entering the town will transfer it to the player's control. The map does not allow the player to build any Blacksmith, nor does it allow many upgrades to be researched. The player will therefore need to rely on destroying Green's Blacksmiths scattered around the map. The player should build a Town Center east of the town by the Docks and start building an economy. Wall off the island south of the base as well as the bridge leading to the city (wooden palisade is fine). This will force all attacks to come from the north. There is some stone south of the player's Castle. The player should mine it and use it to erect a new Castle towards the Orange base. The player will soon be under heavy pressure from the three enemies with almost every type of unit on the field. Blue will mainly train Knights and Mangonels; Yellow will train Long Swordsmen, Crossbowmen, and Rams; Orange will train Pikemen, Skirmishers, and Scorpions. The player must not waste any stone in this stage, especially when erecting a Castle. Initially, the player's best units will be Pikemen, Light Cavalry, and Hussite Wagons to push towards the bridge that was heavily defended earlier. As soon as the opportunity present itself, the player must clear the Blacksmith on this location and then erect the second Castle as quickly as possible. This will grant the player access to Crossbowmen and research Bodkin Arrow. Orange will not have an answer to this Castle, providing some reprieve for the player. Defending it from Yellow's rams becomes a priority. The player should use it manually to destroy Blue's Mangonels as well. Once the player is able to stabilize the Castle's surroundings, build a Siege Workshop and build some Battering Rams (minimum three). Assault Orange, but the player's focus must be on destroying the Castle, as all of Orange infrastructure transfers to the player's control once accomplished. The player will also be given Conscription and the Capped Ram upgrade once they take any city.
A Trade Workshop lies behind what used to be Orange base to the north. The player can secure it for extra resources. The player's next step should be to mine Orange's stone depots and cross over with the full army towards the Green Blacksmith in the middle of the map. This one will provide the player with Leather Archer Armor and the Elite Skirmisher upgrade. The location just east of that Blacksmith (near to the marshes the player used in the beginning of the scenario) is ideal for a Castle. This position is to contain Blue on their side of the map. The player should build production building here and also northeast of Yellow's base by the river crossing over the river's delta. The player should have enough stone for one last Castle (buy at market if needed) and should Castle drop the outskirts of Yellow's base to the east. Since Yellow fields a lot of Crossbowmen, Elite Skirmishers make a great addition to the player's force as long as they also have an answer to Yellow's infantry and rams. Using the same approach as the Orange base, the player should be able to destroy the gate and Castle since they also have Capped Rams instead of the original Battering Rams. Destroying two enemies makes the player victorious.
Depending on their war funds, the player can also secure both the Trade Workshop and Blacksmith southwest and south of the Castle used to contain Blue. It will grant extra resources to use for the assault against Yellow as well as Iron Casting and the Long Swordsman upgrade.
The Blacksmiths in the estates each grant different technologies:
- The southeastern estate grants Chain Mail Armor and the Pikeman upgrade.
- The one just south of Yellow's city grants Bodkin Arrow and the Crossbowman upgrade.
- The one slightly west of the center of the map grants Leather Archer Armor and the Elite Skirmisher upgrade.
- The southern estate grants Iron Casting and the Long Swordsman upgrade.
- The northwestern estate grants Chain Barding Armor and Chemistry (which unlocks Hand Cannoneers).
A faster strategy consists in ignoring the secondary objectives and instead destroying the enemy Castles with Petards, while the Hussite Wagons absorb enemy arrows. For this, it is therefore recommended not to lose a single Hussite Wagon before reaching Tabor.
When reaching Tabor, immediately queue Petards at the Castle, assign one Villager to repair the Hussite Wagons and the remaining ones to collect food and gold so that the Petard production can flow. When the player has around 15 Petards, send the Hussite Wagons and the Petards to destroy the Castle in the Yellow city (as they are the only enemy to attack with Battering Rams), while avoiding engaging in fights with Green soldiers on the way. Use the Hussite Wagons to absorb enemy arrows while the Petards first destroy the Gate and then the Castle. When the Castle is destroyed, the corresponding city deletes all their military units and the player takes control of its buildings.
Retreat to Tabor with the surviving units, repairing and healing if necessary, and then repeat the procedure with the Orange city.
On the marshy plains of Sudomer, a rabble of peasants became a disciplined army. Crouched behind a wall of wagons, 400 Hussites broke charges of knights with volleys of crossbows and hand cannons before charging into the fray with flails fashioned from farm tools.
As castle after castle fell, we exacted our grim vengeance. Only one man survived our sack of Sedlec: a lord to whom we offered freedom on the condition that he lop off the heads of the other five noblemen standing beside him.
Within the smithies and arsenals of the Iron Lords lay enough weapons to equip a small army. As my Hussites took these arms in their hands, I watched a force of commoners begin to realize the previously unimaginable.
With faith, discipline, and my astute leadership on the battlefield, the Hussite movement could defy knights, nobles - and even an emperor.
- One of the early encounters, where a player can defeat the enemy's Knights and infantry by fighting between marshes, is reminiscent of the Battle of Sudoměř, where Hussite troops managed to fend off enemy cavalry by building a Wagon Fort between two empty ponds. Enemy cavalry could not break through the wagons and ended up stuck when crossing over the muddy ponds. This battle is often given as an example of Hussite ingenuity against the better numbers and equipment of the crusader armies.
- Originally, the starting trigger description "at least 10 units (including 3 Hussite Wagons) must reach Tabor" was incorrect: the player actually needed 3 Hussite Wagons plus 10 other units to trigger the conversion of the town; however, the defeat trigger was called only when player had less than 10 total unit count, and thus a stalemate was possible if the player had 10–12 units left. A clearer way of writing this objective should be "at least 13 units (at least 3 of them being Hussite Wagons) must reach Tabor". This is no longer true, as the requirement is now only 10 units.