"Dracula never breathed a word of it, but many began to think that his time at the Ottoman court had stoked his hatred for his southern neighbor. For years, he had brooded over his brother Radu, who had treacherously pledged himself to the Turks."
"Dracula also had his vows to the Order of the Dragon to consider. The Pope and the Hungarian regent both desired war with the Turks."
"In the year 1462, Sultan Mehmed II renewed his efforts and sent a force of 18,000 into Wallachia. Thinking that Dracula would be unable to mobilize his army quickly enought, the Sultan sought to take Wallachia by storm with this small force. He was, of course, sadly mistaken."
I had heard whispers of the Danube butchering, but never a firsthand account. Dracula's enduring ability to overcome the most fearsome force of his time mesmerized me.
"What sparked further conflict between Vlad and the Turks?" I asked. He looked into his palm, as if there was something important that he had forgotten at the moment. "Dracula never breathed a word of it, but many began to think of his experience at the Ottoman court. Certainly the betrayal of his brother Radu must have effected him -- after all, anybody would be confused and angry after their own brother deserted his true family."
"Dracula also had his vows to consider, for he was at that point one of the higher-ranking members of the Order of the Dragon, and therefore answered to the Pope and the Hungarian regent. Both of these men desired war with the Turks." I nodded my head in understanding, thinking of all I had never known before tonight, trying to piece it all together.
"In the year 1462, the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II renewed his efforts, and, because he was besieging Corinth, sent his Grand Vizier with a force of 18,000 in his place. Hoping that Dracula would be unable to mobilize his army quickly enough, the Sultan thought that he could take Wallachia by storm with this small force. He was, of course, sadly mistaken," our host chuckled, erupting into a fit of manic laughter.
Our focus all back on our host, we watched him intently. I had heard several stories of the Danube butchering, but never a firsthand account. As ever, I was mesmerized by the process -- how was Dracula able to elicit so many victories from a small army against the most fearsome enemy in all of Eurasia? Seemingly guessing my question, our host answered, "We were all patriots, fighting for our freedom under a charismatic leader."
Differences between difficulty levels
- On moderate difficulty, the player starts with Halberdier, Two-Handed Swordsman, Cavalier, Hussar, Conscription, Onager, and Blast Furnace researched.
- On standard difficulty, the player starts with all military technologies and upgrades available to the Slavs researched (Monastery technologies still need to be researched). The population limit stays at 200 even if the player loses all of their Houses.
- Win the inital battle against the Ottoman forces.
- Ensure that all of your Castles remain standing until the timer expires.
- The Wallachian villages will provide you with resources, so long as you protect them.
- Alternatively, sack the Wallachian villages and convert their Villagers for your own.
- Vlad Dracula can support a population of 200, but his defensive strategy prohibits the production of Trebuchets, rams, warships, and Petards.
- The Ottoman siege camps are bristling with fortifications. Assaulting them would be suicide.
- The combination of spring rains and sabotage has rendered most local fords and bridges impassible. This has isolated the enemy forces and funneled them into Vlad's fortresses, but it has also made each fortress more difficult to reinforce.
- Take advantage of the unique geography near each fortress to harry enemy forces and soften their attacks.
- The Wallachian peasants are known double-dealers. Weigh their utility to you against the threat of well-fed enemies.
Your scouts report:
- To defend Wallachia from the Turks, Vlad Dracula (1, Red) has manned three fortresses: Fagaras in the open north, Rasnov in the forested east, and his citadel at Poenari in the mountainous southwest. These are besieged from all directions:
- Radu Bey (3, Cyan), Dracula's rival brother, attacks Fagaras from the west and north with Boyars, Pikemen, and rams.
- The main Ottoman army (5, Purple) threatens Rasnov from the east with Cavalry Archers, Knights, and Petards, but may also construct Trebuchets.
- Sultan Mehmed II 'the Conqueror' (4, Blue) marches on Poenari from the south. His elite vanguard consists of Long Swordsmen, Janissaries, and Bombard Cannons.
- Several Wallachian villages (2, Yellow) are supplying Dracula's forces and are also potential trading partners. These will be preyed upon at sporadic intervals by Ottoman raiding parties of Akinci cavalry (7, Grey).
- Hungary (6, Green) has pledged to aid Dracula against the Turks, but has sent no word as of late.
- Hungary (Magyars): After a period of time, their Magyar Huszars, Hussars, Paladins, and Heavy Cavalry Archers will turn over to the player.
Ally, possible Enemy
- Wallachian Countryside (Slavs): They will send tribute periodically. However, they are easy targets for the Akinci Cavalry. If need be, the player can convert their Villagers, but they will change stance to enemy and stop sending resources.
- Sultan Mehmed II (Turks): They will attack Poenari with Champions, Janissaries, and Bombard Cannons.
- Radu Bey (Slavs): They will train Boyars, Siege Rams, and Pikemen to siege Fagaras.
- Ottoman Empire (Turks): They will attack Rasnov with Cavaliers, Cavalry Archers, Trebuchets, and Petards.
- Akinci Cavalry (Turks): They will spawn periodically and prey on the countryside with Hussars, Knights, and Cavalry Archers.
- Wallachia (Teutons): consists of friendly locals loyal to Dracula, most notably the central town of Targoviste, which is where Dracula is located at the beginning of the scenario. They also control the eastern and western Castles until they are given to the player. They serve no active role in the scenario outside cutscenes.
- Wallachia (Magyars): consists of a burning village in the south and some other neutral units. They serve no active role in the scenario outside cutscenes.
- Wallachian Army (Slavs): is the main army of Dracula, which he uses in the initial cutscene to destroy the Ottoman Army. They serve no active role in the scenario outside cutscenes.
- Ottoman Camps (Turks): is the most powerful enemy on the map, controlling a massive base just south of the northern Castle where Dracula makes his final stand. They will send massive waves of soldiers against Dracula, including Cavaliers, Elite Janissaries, Bombard Cannons, Siege Rams and Trebuchets. After resisting their onslaught for some time, their main base will eventually have to be attacked from the eastern flank by a large army Dracula assembled, but even this is difficult, as the base has some extremely powerful towers and very durable buildings.
- Countryside (Slavs): consists of some villages located in the west which are not friendly towards Dracula and are thus submitted by the Ottomans. The villages by themselves are only defended by a token force of Men-at-Arms, Spearmen, Archers etc., but they rely on the much more powerful Ottoman Forward Troops for protection. All Countryside buildings have to be completely destroyed in order to progress eventually.
- Ottoman Army (Turks): will lead the main assaults near the beginning of the scenario against both the eastern and western castles of Dracula. They field Crossbowmen, Janissaries, Cavaliers, Scorpions, Capped Rams, Trebuchets and other powerful units in an attempt to finish off Dracula's forces. Killing 500 of their units is required in order to force them into a retreat, but attacking their well fortified camps directly is not at all recommended.
- Ottoman Forward Troops (Turks): control a sizeable army sent to destroy a Wallachian village just south of Targoviste, but this army and its leader are slaughtered in an ambush by the Wallachian Army. They are next seen protecting the Countryside villages to the west in order to feed the main Ottoman Army. They have several patrols of Camels, Light cavalry, Cavalry Archers, Long Swordmen and Halberdiers, and will need to be taken care of in order to progress.
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The scenario is greatly simplified in the Definitive Edition. For one hour, the player must defend the three named Castles against a constant stream of enemy forces. Some bridges are broken, so each enemy will target each of the player's castle. As siege weapons, namely Trebuchets, rams, and Petards cannot be constructed, the player has to play defensively all the time.
Mehmed II trains Janissaries and Bombard Cannons, so the player in Rasnov should counter them with Skirmishers and cavalry or Boyars, depending on how much resources they have. The player should train Skirmishers and Pikemen to counter the Cavaliers and Heavy Cavalry Archers of the Ottoman Empire troops attacking Poenari, and some heavy cavalry to destroy Trebuchets. As for Fagaras, Radu's army of Boyars should be countered by Pikemen or Scorpions, while the rams can be destroyed by the Magyar Huszars that the player will obtain from Hungary later.
Nearby Wallachian villages provide resources as long as they are protected, but can be constantly raided by the Akinci Cavalry. The player should send some units to defeat the raiding parties often. If needed, the player can destroy the villages themselves if it seems they are about to fall, denying the enemy the resources they might have otherwise gained. Fortunately, the player can construct Castles, so the player should convert some villagers to work for the player.
The scenario starts out with some "cutscenes" showing Dracula and allies defeating retreating Turks. Eventually the player is given control of two separate Castles, guarded by their respective commanders. The immediate goal is to rack up 500 kills, but the Turks (orange) will relentlessly attack the player's fortresses.
Each Castle has one Villager. The player needs him to repair the towers, so he should be guarded well. The player also begins with a decent number of Archers, which should be garrisoned in the forward defense towers. Additionally, there is a Barracks at each Castle, where the player should train up a number of Pikemen for use against Turkish cavalry. The central Castle has a Monastery, while the eastern Castle has a Stable, so the player can build Monks and Knights.
The eastern Castle is more at threat, as it will be attacked by Trebuchets often. The player should use their hero and a number of Boyars or Knights to ride out and destroy them. The central Castle's main threat will be Battering Rams and Mangonels, but they will only reach range of the towers, so the player can destroy them and repair the towers when needed.
In some instances, the Turks will cease attacking. This will allow the player to build up an assault force. The eastern Castle is flanked by an Ottoman camp to its west (guarded by towers), and a whole fortress to the south, so the player may have to go on the hunt to get 500 kills. The central Castle has an Ottoman camp just to its north, so if things get quiet, the player should send out Pikemen and Archers to go hunting. Cavalry should be kept behind at both Castles in case Turkish siege weapons come knocking.
Once the player gets 500 kills, they will take control of Dracula and a force of cavalry. The goal is to destroy all of Yellow's buildings; they have a well guarded village to the west (beware Halberdiers), a fishing village north, along with Mills and Mines to the west and east of Blue's village, respectively. Many players have trouble here, thinking they have destroyed Yellow but that the trigger has not caught. Keep exploring the entire west side of the map, Yellow may have rogue villagers about. Purple (mostly destroyed in the earlier "cutscene") has troops milling about too, and in fact guard the northern fishing village. Before moving on, the player should mind the resources ceded to them upon destroying Yellow's buildings, as these will be needed soon enough. If you have any Monks left alive at Rasnov Castle from the previous stage, you can heal your troops there anytime.
Once Dracula is satisfied razing the countryside, the player is given control of Poenari Castle in the far north. The Turks (orange) attack relentlessly, and the player should beware their Bombard Cannons and Trebuchets. The player should use Skirmishers, Crossbowmen, or Pikemen to screen enemy troops, saving gold reserves to train up Knights or Cavaliers to take out siege weapons. Dracula should be kept safe in the eastern section of the Castle.
Key to surviving is to position the cavalry, including Dracula, outside the gates to quickly take out the Cannons and Trebuchets at very start of the siege; and then make a quick dash back to inside the gates, and lock it. The enemy does not replenish those particular units, taking out the biggest threat. The player should then fill up the middle tower with Skirmishers and put the rest of the army outside it as fodder. Paramount is both keeping the gate and Hand Cannoneers alive yet keeping the latter also just in range to attack melee units. Best way to do this is putting them right behind the tower and on stand ground. Keep churning out Skirmishers and Pikemen. Do not bother with expensive Knights/Cavaliers. The Pikemen are mainly cheap fodder, while Skirmishers counter the Crossbowmen and Cavalry Archers. Mangonels should be targeted as soon as possible by the fully garrisoned middle tower, while Rams should be targeted by the Hand Cannoneers and fire towers. The player should save often, and keep track of time: the Gate unfortunately has to be unlocked before time runs out and ownership is transferred to Wallachia, or the scenario is not winnable.
Although not the way the scenario is meant to be played, it is possible to act somewhat offensively. Mass Siege Onagers to take down buildings, Hussars to distract Guard Tower and Bombard Tower fire, and Halberdiers to counter any cavalry or rams which might threaten the Onagers. Start north in Fagaras directing aggression at Radu Bey, then in Ponari towards Mehmed II's base, and finally bring the Onagers across the bridge to Rasnov. While realistically the player will not have time to defeat all enemies this way, it will go a long way toward crippling the threat they pose.
"Unfortunately, this was where my lord and I were separated. The Turks entered the castle courtyard at Poenari with murder on their minds and ransacked the fortress that we had fought so hard to defend. Taking refuge in a secret tunnel, I watched Dracula's boat float downstream."
"The stone bastions of Poenari never caught flame, so I was spared. As if God was with us, an avalanche struck the departing Turkish army and blocked the route to the castle." Although this 'evidence' of divine retribution stirred our host, I figured that it was caused by the enemy cannon.
"Unfortunately, my friends, this is where my lord and I were separated," the gaunt old man continued. "As the Turks entered the castle courtyard at Poenari, murder was on their minds. With unbridled rage and lust for loot, they ransacked the once-great fortress that we had fought so hard to defend, slaying all in their path. Taking refuge in one of the secret ways that Dracula had built, I watched his coracle sail down the mountain stream."
"The Turks put the castle to the torch, but its stone bastions never caught flame, and so I was spared." Breaking out once again into sad laughter, our host continued. "Almost as if God was with us, the footsteps of the Turk army started a punishing avalanche that blocked the route to the castle and felled scores of their Janissaries." Although this "evidence" of divine retribution excited him, I figured it was due to the enemy cannon.
- A Relic can be seen sitting next to the fountain in front of the Targoviste Town Center; it is likely a reference to the golden cup mentioned in the intro to The Breath of the Dragon. According to legend, during his reign, Dracula placed a golden cup on a fountain in the middle of Targoviste and left it unattended. Because of the harsh penalties for crime of any kind during Dracula's rule, no one dared to touch the cup as long as Dracula lived.