Ivaylo watches suspiciously as the bolyars bowed their heads in his presence. No matter what respect they showed him as tsar in daylight, he knew they whispered and cursed him in the shadows. 'Murderer... Peasant scum...'
Tarnovo might be the 'City of the Tsars', but it belonged to the bolyars. Ivaylo knew that remainin there would be a death sentence, but he was tied to the city – the tsaria was carrying his child. Yet fatherhood would have to wait...
A descendant of Genghis Khan, Nogai was broad-shouldered and barrel-chested. He had lost an eye battling a brother in the Caucasus, a disfigurement that cost him the chance to rule as Khan of the Golden Horde.
However, that was to his liking. Nogai was not a man to sit idly in a golden tent; he became the kingmaker and the real power behind the Horde, leading its warriors into battle.
Mongols, Tatars, Cumans... warriors as numerous as blades of glass streamed across the Danube into Bulgaria. Ivaylo raced in the middle of the night to the river town of Drastar. There, he would raise an army and make his stand.
In Tarnovo, the tsarina, alone and with child, waited for his return.
- Starting Age: Castle Age
- Starting resources: 4,000 food, 4,000 wood, 4,000 gold, 200 stone
- Population limit: 200
- Starting units:
- Reach Drastar before Hranislav is slain in single combat.
- Reach Drastar without losing a man.
- Destroy Nogai's Great Tent.
- Kill Nogai's Khans to free the tribes.
- You are restricted to a population limit of 200.
- You cannot train more Villagers and should focus on your military. Protect your Villagers only so they can repair and build.
- Like you, your enemies have large stockpiles of resources. Destroying their military buildings is the only way to slow their onslaught.
- However, it may be beneficial to preserve the Tatar and Cuman camps. When the Khans ruling them are killed, these factions will become your allies.
- It would be wise to train bands of fast-moving cavalry to focus on hunting down and killing the enemy Khans.
Your scouts report:
- Drastar is besieged by the Golden Horde and must be reached quickly. The town is accessible by boat or by three river crossings.
- The warlord Nogai of the Golden Horde (3, Yellow) has established his tent outside Drastar and attacks with Mangudai, Light Cavalry, and Onagers.
- Many tribes fall under the Horde. The Cumans (5, Red) are horse archers, Knights, and Light Cavalry who also bring Battering Rams. The Tatars (4, Green) are more defensive, but will muster Trebuchets. Both of these people are held under Nogai's control through brutal Khans. Killing these Khans may drive these tribes to independence.
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- Player (Bulgarians): The player will start at the bottom of the map with some soldiers and must board the Transport Ship in order to reach Drastar quickly.
- Bulgarians (Bulgarians): Starts with the town of Drastar and a sizeable army, including Hranislav and his forces.
- Kasim Beg (Tatars): Will appear with his Wolf at the woods near the northern gate of Drastar. After hinting the Tatars and Cumans will surrender after the Khans are killed, this player will immediately be defeated.
Enemies → Allies
- Tatars (Tatars): the Tatars have their camp situated at the center of the map. They will send Elite Keshiks, Heavy Cavalry Archers to invade Drastar. The Khan is located at their Castle.
- Cumans (Cumans): the Cumans camped at the southwest. They will invade Drastar with throngs of Elite Kipchaks, Knights and Light Cavalry(which they will upgrade later). The Khans are located around their camp.
- Golden Horde (Mongols): The main enemy which will send Elite Mangudai, Cavalry Archers and Onagers to attack the player. Their scattered - yet abundant - base is located on the other side of the river. Nogai Khan himself stands before his Great Tent (the Wonder, which the player will have to destroy in order to rout the Golden Horde.
- Nogai's Khans (Tatars): They are located in the Cuman and the Tatar camp (3 in the Cumans and 1 at the Tatar Castle). Nogai Khan belongs to this player.
Reaching Drastar without losing a single man will give the player an additional 2,000 gold. For this, the player does not have to bring all starting units to Drastar, as it is only necessary for one of the units to arrive at Drastar without any of the other ones dying. The player can send the Light Cavalry alone (as the other units will only slow him down) to the Gaia Transport Ship and then sail across the river.
Due to being outnumbered three-to-one with a dwindling pile of resources, playing defensively is unwise. Similarly, making a beeline directly for Nogai's Tent will likely fail given the formidable enemy defenses in the way.
Instead, the player's immediate goal should be to switch the allegiances of the Tatars (Green) and Cumans (Red) as soon as possible. This can be done by killing the Khans (Purple), of which Green and Red each have three dispersed around their bases.
As soon as control has been established of the Bulgarian base at the top of the map, begin advancing to the Imperial Age while researching the cavalry attack and armor upgrades in the Blacksmith. Also begin producing additional Konniks in the Castle and Knights from the Stables, being sure to save enough resources (about 2,000 food) for Imperial Age upgrades. Feel free to sell most of the wood in the market for additional gold and food.
The player should try to save the starting Konniks, instead using the Pikemen and Skirmishers to delay the Mongol attack from the south. Do not waste any mounted units trying to save the south gate; the combination of the castle and towers in the center of the player's base should be enough to ward off the Mongols while the player assassinates their Khans.
Once Imperial Age has been reached and the player has amassed a sizeable contingent of Konniks and Knights, send the cavalry army out through the western gate (avoiding the Mongols, whose Mangudai will cut through the player's forces). While doing this, research the final cavalry Blacksmith upgrades, Cavalier, and Elite Konnik. This way the army will be fully upgraded by the time they reach the enemy base.
Both Cumans and Tatars will advance to the Imperial Age around 10 minutes after game starts. As Cumans will eventually attack with Siege Rams, it is recommended to deal with them first. The Khans should die within seconds if the player surrounds them with cavalry, and the Cumans will turn friendly as soon as all three are dead. The player can now do the same for the Tatars, whose base is in the center of the map. It should be possible to kill all six Khans with the initial wave of cavalry, though further waves are possible once more resources trickle in.
The Cumans and Tatars are very useful to distract the bulk of the Mongol army, giving the player time to heal and rebuild the cavalry army in the base. Cumans are significantly better than Tatars since they produce many Paladins and Siege Rams. However, if the game takes too long, they may run out of resources and cannot help the player too much. The player should now be able to destroy the Mongols at their leisure, either all-at-once by building a large army and rushing Nogai's Tent while they are busy in the Tatars' base, or piece-by-piece by destroying their production buildings.
In the beginning, it can be tricky, especially on the hard difficulty, to ensure all of the starting units reach the goal area in time before the champion dies. The 3 main access points are protected by sizeable groups that would cripple the player's starting army. The best guarantee is sending Ivaylo ahead to secure the Transport Ship waiting on the western edge of the map. Immediately travel to the goal area and stop the duel. Afterward, retreat inside the city and have the Transport Ship gather the remaining troops. Alternatively, the player can send only the Light Cavalry to the Transport Ship (as mentioned in the top of the section), which will be enough for the player to get the additional 2,000 gold from not losing a single man.
As soon as the player gains access to the city, the Bulgarian unique building: the Krepost, will be the best defensive building to put a stop to early aggression. It is also recommended to research all the technologies at the University, as it is at risk of being destroyed in the siege from Yellow. On Hard, the enemy will attack sooner and with stronger units, which can easily overwhelm the starting army even with the Castle. Garrison Skirmishers in each of the Kreposts to maximize damage output. Save gold for fully upgraded Heavy Cavalry Archers. In combination with Hussars, it is entirely possible to lure out the Khans and assassinate them without having to deal with too many enemy units.
Of the two clans that can be pacified, Green is much easier to lure out their khans because of their more expansive base layout. Red has a tighter and more defendable position near their castle, thus risking high casualties.
A lone rider approached Drastar and called for the Tsar. Ivaylo wondered, was this a messenger of the one-eyed khan offering peace?
But as the tsar raised himself against the battlements, he could see the horseman was a Bulgarian. What word did he bring from Tarnovo? Did he come to tell Ivaylo of the birth of his child?
No. The rider bore a message which chilled Ivaylo and the survivors of the siege.
'Tsar,' the horseman began, 'Your men in Tarnovo are dead, murdered by the bolyars who have opened the gates to Ivan Asen. Ivan has taken the tsarina and your newborn child and delivered them as prisoners to the emperor.'
- Drastar (Bulgarian: Дръстър), or Durostorum during Ancient Roman times, is the old name of the contemporary city of Silistra. It is the birth place of Flavius Aetius, who appears in the Attila the Hun campaign.
- The name of Hranislav (Bulgarian: Хранислав) comes from the words for 'feed' & 'glory'. In the scenario he may be killed in front of Drastar fortress but he actually would survive until at least 1304. After that there are no sources about his life and death.
- Hranislav would go on to be a member of the famous mercenary group, the Catalan Company led by Roger de Flor. The Catalan Company also appears in the Bapheus scenario in the Historical Battles.
- Kasim Beg was a commander of a Mongol unit serving under the Byzantines who defected to Ivaylo shortly after Ivan Asen III was proclaimed emperor. In the scenario, he gives Ivaylo the objective to kill the rival khans. He may be killed, although this does not effect the scenario in any way.