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The Lion's Den is the fifth and final scenario of the Sundjata campaign in Age of Empires II HD: The African Kingdoms. It is based on the Battle of Kirina.


Mali now dominated the land on both sides of the great river. Mansa Sundjata reigned freely from the gold mines of Bambuk to the city of Gao, but it was not enough. Sumanguru fled to his stronghold of Koumbi Saleh, still wreaking havoc wherever he could. As long as he lived, he would be a threat to the peace of the realm.

Sundjata called upon his men once again and began a long siege to the mighty Sosso capital, the former seat of the Ghanese empire. Sundjata would not be denied his final victory.


In this scenario, the treacherous Sumanguru rallies his troops for a last stand in the city of Koumbi Saleh against Mansa Sundjata. The goal is to kill Sumanguru himself and raze the city sheltering him to the ground. This decisive battle is fought both on land and on sea.



  • Koumbi Saleh (Malians) is a massive and extremely well-fortified city in the west. They produce large numbers of Halberdiers, Champions, Cavaliers, Light Cavalry, Trebuchets, and Galleons, and later Cannon Galleons. Some minutes into the game, they start building a Wonder, putting the player on a clock.
  • Sumanguru (Malians) himself and his personal guard of Champions and Elite Shotel Warriors are entrenched at the center of the city. Additionally his Arbalests, Siege Onagers and Trebuchets guard the double city walls and his Champions and Arbalests defend the several resource holding islands in the bay. Although he has a large initial army, he can't replenish it and his units won't attack unless provoked, except for one wave at the start of the game.


Running the gauntlet

At the beginning of the scenario time is of essence. As Koumbi Saleh attacks very early with a large army, certain preparations have to be made. First of all, all of Sundjata's Galleys should be brought to safety behind the Towers to later upgrade them to War Galleys and help in the defeat of the enemy navy. Immediately gathering stone and sending a few villagers west to the bottleneck near Koumbi Saleh (where two short parallel walls are located) to construct a (Fortified) Wall to intercept the incoming army is a top priority. As soon as enough stone is available, a Castle should be built there to hold off enemy attacks from both land and water. One of the first waves contains some Elite Shotel Warriors and Petard by Sumanguru, so the Castle should be manually ordered to take these threats out.

Additionally, a Dock can be built in the little pond, where ships are safe from enemy ships. The player shouldn't invest too heavily into War Galleys in this pond however as all enemy units have high pierce armor and the ships are trapped, limiting their utility. The best use for the pond is to position Cannon Galleons there once Imperial Age, Chemistry and Cannon Galleon are researched to safely take out enemy Trebuchets attacking the wall or Castle.

Chemistry is also a requirement for Hand Cannoneers, who can take out enemies unendangered from behind the wall and have a high attack bonus versus infantry.

Once this isthmus is secured, the player can decide whether to attack Koumbi Saleh via land or via water. The land assault has some drawbacks: It basically means giving up water control, so not only are the resources on the islands forfeited but also as the enemy starts producing Cannon Galleons after some time Towers or Castles are no suitable defense, so Sundjata's base is under constant threat. Also Koumbi Saleh' mighty army has to be fought head-on as opposed to letting them run into the Castle and Hand Cannoneers positioned behind walls. Because of this reasons it is advised to mount a maritime assault.

Establishing a beach head

Attacking Koumbi Saleh via water has several advantages: As resources on the main land are very limited (especially gold) controlling the water also means controlling the several resource holding islands scattered across the bay while simultaneously disrupting the enemy's gold income from their mines near the shore once a beach head is secured. Secondly once the enemy navy is beaten all enemies have to attack the bottleneck, making them easy to kill by the Castle, Hand Cannoneers and additional Galleon fire from the sea. Thirdly, the Wonder is somewhat more accessible from the water.

Despite these benefits, the maritime assault is by no means an easy task and the main reasons for this are the enemy Sea Fortifications. They are towers with more health and a whopping 15 range, meaning they can easily outrange even Cannon Galleons. On top of that they also regenerate health, so they can't be worn down slowly. The best way to take them down is to approach them with Galleons to draw fire and then move in with several Cannon Galleons to destroy them quickly.

A good strategy is to raze the 5 enemy Docks (along with the surrounding Galleons) as soon as possible using (Heavy) Demolition Ships. This will not entirely halt their production, but will severely hinder it. Koumbi Saleh do rebuild their docks, albeit somewhat slowly and often outside the city walls (and thus removing any protection by walls or towers), making them easy targets to destroy or prevent their erection. Sometimes Koumbi Saleh also build a new Dock on one of the islands, so the villager on it should be killed if the player wants to entirely prevent the enemy from producing ships.

Once the initial Docks are gotten rid of, water control can be taken far more easily and the Sea Fortifications and seaside Castle of the city should be the next target so a beach head can be established.

Invading the city

With the enemy navy shattered and their oceanfront fortifications and buildings destroyed, Koumbi Saleh is ripe for the taking. A good army to land would be Hand Cannoneers with Champions to soak up damage, of course supported by Galleon fire. If the enemy relies on Cavalry rather than infantry (which seems to happen sometimes) Heavy Camels with Farimba are a sound counter. A few villagers to construct military buildings to replenish the army are also of value. As Koumbi Saleh has Trebuchets however, a Siege Workshop should be built first in order to produce Bombard Cannon to safely take them out from afar without having to plow into fortifications or Sumanguru's guard.

In case time is running low, the Wonder can be besieged by Trebuchets without alerting Sumanguru's personal guard, as long as no unit comes too close to them.

Once a large enough army is amassed, Sumanguru's personal guard and he himself can be lured towards the shore in medium groups using ranged units. With this major threat taken out, the player can tread more safely in the city and gradually take down all buildings and units.

Sometimes Koumbi Saleh doesn't resign, in which case all buildings including Sea Fortifications have to be destroyed.


With peace in the empire and his ancestors avenged, Mansa Sundjata settled well into his role as the ruler of Mali. In peace he was as effective an emperor as he was in war, building markets and mosques across his lands. He was a model for all emperors to follow, making his country a center of learning and culture at the edge of the Sahara. For centuries afterward peace and stability reigned.

And so I remain to tell his story. Balafasseke Kouyaté is my name, his humble family historian, a djeli of superb bloodline and patronage. And this is Sumanguru's balophon[sic], which I stole before the battle at Kirina, and played that day to inspire the victory of Sundjata!


  • This scenario is modeled after the Pyrrhus of Epirus scenario of Age of Empires: The Rise of Rome, with a few islands added in the bay.
  • The scenario also has towers similar to mirror towers, however unlike the mirror towers, the Sea Fortification holds a massive attack bonus against ships, but deals 9 pierce damage against non-ship units.
  • The availability of Cannon Galleons and Hand Cannoners is somewhat anachronistic as gunpowder and it's wartime applicability had not likely reached the Mali Empire by this time; the earliest mention of cannons in Africa being from 1260 AD by the Bahriyya against the Möngke some 25 years later.


The African Kingdoms

  • With patch 4.8, Koumbi Saleh now resigns more appropriately.
  • With patch 4.8, the overall difficulty has been decreased.