|This article is about the scenario in Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition - Lords of the West. For the scenario in Age of Empires, see A Wonder of the World.|
Wonder of the World is the fifth and final scenario of the The Hautevilles campaign in Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition - Lords of the West.
"Our story is coming nearly to an end, my young king, but I have not yet even told you of your grandfather, he who first wore the crown that now rests upon your head."
"It is a story that should sound familiar to you. Your grandfather's father, the great Count Roger, died when Roger II was only a young boy. Like you, he was raised by his mother in a cosmopolitan court, among Greek and Muslim tutors."
"While such an upbringing meant that the young Roger lacked the martial confidence of his forebears, he instead gained skills for diplomacy and statecraft that would prove far more valuable."
"At that time, Norman Italy was divided into two lordships: Apulia, ruled by Robert Guiscard's grandson; and Sicily, ruled by Roger. When his cousin in Apulia died childless in 1127, Roger claimed all Hauteville lands in Italy, forming the united Kingdom of Sicily."
"But this growing power - and Roger's tolerance for people of all faiths - raised the suspicions of the Pope. Railing against the 'half-heathen prince,' the pope called a Crusade."
"Roger's Norman vassals, led by his own brother-in-law, rose in rebellion, while a mighty German army headed by the Holy Roman Emperor himself marched down the length of Italy."
"But Roger had grander ambitions than fighting Norman and German princes. He had a kingdom to build."
- Starting Age: Castle Age
- Starting resources: 500 food, 500 wood, 250 gold, 250 stone
- Population limit: 200
- Unavailable units: Cannon Galleon
Differences between difficulty levels
- On standard difficulty, the player starts with Murder Holes and Banking researched, as well as the Crossbowman, Long Swordsman, Pikeman, Light Cavalry, and War Galley upgrades. The player also has a Donjon at the Calabria base.
Choose your path to victory:
- Construct and defend a Wonder to achieve a cultural victory.
- Defeat or ally with all factions. (2/6)
- Defeat enemy factions to learn their Unique Technologies.
- Tribute 500 gold to the Byzantines.
- (subsequently) Tribute 1,000 gold to the Byzantines.
- (subsequently) Tribute 1,500 gold to the Byzantines.
- Explore 80% of the map.
- Choose one of the following:
- Destroy the Saracen Docks.
- Tribute 2,000 gold to the Saracen Pirates. (1,000 on standard difficulty)
- You are restricted to a population limit of 200. Because Sicily is home to many Arabs and Berbers, you can train Camel Riders and Genitours.
- When you defeat an enemy, you will learn their Unique Technologies. Check out the technology tree of the other civilizations to see which Unique Technologies you can acquire.
- Choose carefully who to defeat first. Their Unique Technologies may tip the balance of later battles in your favor.
- Sicily will quickly run out of resources. Expand, trade, and seek out Relics.
- The Saracen Pirates are protected by Sultan al-Hassan. He will come to their aid if their pirate base is attacked.
Your scouts report:
- The newly-crowned King Roger II (1, Blue) faces many threats as he builds his kingdom. While his predecessors relied on military skills to attract knights, Roger's tolerance and statecraft have lured learned men from across the world. He is advised by his English chancellor, Robert of Selby, and an Arab scholar named Muhammed-al-Idrisi.
- The Holy Roman Emperor Lothair III (2, Yellow) has invaded Italy from his base to the north. His army consists of Teutonic Knights, Paladins, Infantry, and siege weapons.
- The Drengots have taken advantage of Roger's patience to rebel under the leadership of Ranulf Drengot (3, Cyan). The Norman lord controls the southeast of Italy with Serjeants, cavalry, siege weapons, and a Norman fleet.
- The Italian Cities (4, Red) of Pisa and Genoa have established bases in Sardinia and western Italy. These naval forces are allied with the Holy Roman Emperor and threaten King Roger with their warships, infantry, and Archers. They care mostly about trade, however, and may be convinced to support the Sicilians.
- Emperor John II Komnenos (5, Purple) has succeeded his father, Alexios Komnenos, as Byzantine Emperor. Though he desires to avenge his father's losses to the Normans, he can be persuaded with bribes to remain in his eastern realm.
- The Berber Sultan al-Hassan (6, Orange) relies on piracy after the loss of Zirid influence over Sicily following Roger Bosso's conquest. He shelters and protects Saracen Pirates (7, Green). Even these pirates have their price, however.
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- Player (Sicilians)
Ally → Enemy
- Emp. John II Komnenos (Byzantines) controls the eastern area of the map and may eventually become an enemy but will not make any successful landings in Sicily or be a big threat if the player goes for the Wonder victory. He creates an assortment of ships, including Cannon Galleons and Demolition Ships, and train Cataphracts, Elite Skirmishers, Crossbowmen, and various siege weapons.
Ally → potential Enemy
- Sultan al-Hassan (Berbers) is originally allied with the player but will become an enemy if the player destroys the two Saracen Docks. If the player ignores or pays the pirates, he will be passive as he is not hostile to any of the other factions.
- Emp. Lothair III → Henry the Proud (Teutons) controls the northern area of the map and is one of the most threatening opponents, building a strong navy which includes Cannon Galleons. He attacks the players' base in Calabria with mixed troops of Elite Teutonic Knights, Paladins, Monks, and Siege Weapons. He leaves during the scenario and is replaced by his son-in-law, Henry the Proud, the father of Henry the Lion.
Enemy → potential Ally → Enemy
- Ranulf Drengot (Sicilians - Normans) has a base north of the player's base in Calabria and can be quite aggressive. If the player destroys one of his Castles, he will offer an alliance but will later betray the player. He mostly train Knights (which he will upgrade to Cavaliers much later) and Serjeants though he will not be upgrading his ground units for some time. In addition, he will build ships and some time attempt a landing force. All will come from the right side of the strait. Unlike the pirates, if the player signs the truce when they offer it, it will only be a temporary ceasefire and he will not help the player fight the other factions.
Enemies → potential Allies
- Italian Cities (Italians) have the strongest and most aggressive navy in the scenario, which includes Cannon Galleons. They will become allies if the player destroys the two Saracen Docks. However, this will not enable the training of Condottieri. They also train ground forces consisting of Genoese Crossbowmen, Arbalesters, Scorpions, and Light Cavalry.
- Saracen Pirates (Saracens) are originally enemies but they can become allies for a large amount of gold. They build War Galleys and some landing force consisting of Crossbowmen, Long Swordmen, Camel Riders, and Mamelukes.
The player starts with two bases: one in Sicily and one in Calabria. In the beginning, the player has four enemies: Italians in Sardinia and Rome, Teutons in Romagna, Sicilians in Apulia, and Saracen Pirates in Libya. The Sicilian and Teuton enemies will attack the player's starting base in Calabria very soon; it is very hard to hold the base, so it is recommended to leave that base, but not before picking up the Relic right north of it. As an island, Sicily is very easy to defend, and the small resources on that island is all the player needs for the first 20 minutes. It is possible to hold this base, at least not on Hard by building a Castle or two next to the already built Donjon as both the Germans and the Drengots will not be building siege weapons for some time. Beware that enemy ships may also attack the base from the east, so it might be a good idea to build more defenses there once the trees has been cleared. This also allow the player to have a tight control of the strait, by having towers on both sides of it. However, the player better be ready when the enemy starts to bring in siege weapons. The Teutons in particular love sending rams with Teutonic Knights inside, but the player has access to the powerful Siege Onager to counter them.
In the beginning, the player should try to focus on stone; the player really needs a Castle at each corner of Sicily, especially at the Strait of Messina (the water gap between Italy and Sicily) and the player's Town Center, as the Pirates will raid here. It is also a good idea to build a wall around the player's Town Center to protect the Villagers; but a palisade could also be enough, once the castle is finished. Under Sicily, the player will find the island of Malta, which holds gold and a Relic. Almost directly under Malta, the player will find the African land between the pirates and the Berber sultan. Here, the player finds another Relic and much stone and gold; as long the player has no war with the Berbers, the player can mine here without any danger, as the pirates will only attack the player's main base on Sicily. Both Relics should be collected as soon as possible; the African one in particular is otherwise collected by the (Berber) AI. If one feels brave, it is possible to cross the Ionian Sea and there are some gold on an island off shore just outside the Byzantine Docks (plus a Relic on the nearby island) and more gold inside the Byzantine base in Greece, it is possible to mine these before the Byzantines turn hostile, or even better use the gold to pay off the Byzantines. There are more Relics in the map but those are harder to reach.
After 11 minutes, the player will get a message from the scholar al-Idrisi asking the player to explore 80% of the map. Doing so will increase the gold gathering rate and all resources will last 15% longer (similar to the Mayan civilization bonus).
The place around the player's harbor is often attacked by Italian ships. Sadly, there is no place for a Castle (unless the player deletes some buildings), so the player needs a few ships to bait them to the starting Castle. Until the player's fleet is strong enough, the player should not build Trade Cogs, as the Italian Navy will focus on them and protecting them is very annoying. Also, there is no need for Trade Cogs if the player uses the African and Maltese gold. The player can delete the Docks here and build one in the south if they wish to trade.
By this time (16 minutes after the scenario starts), the Byzantines will demand 500 gold from the player for staying friendly. They will repeat this demand with an increment of 500 gold periodically. Until the player's defense is completed, the player should pay the gold. On lower difficulties he will stop requesting tribute after the third and will not be hostile for the rest of the game unless the player builds a Wonder.
As told before, the African Land will feed the player's gold and stone hunger, and the player can get these resources with no harm, as long as the player has no war with the Berbers. Sadly, the Berbers will go to war with the player if the player kills the pirate AI, so just kill their raiders and ignore their base. When the player gets close enough to the Saracen Docks, they will get an offer to choose between destroying those Docks (on one hand, this will make the Italians ally with the player; on the other hand, the Berbers will become enemies) and paying the Pirates a one-time tribute of 2,000 gold (which will make the Pirates ally with the player). The second option is preferred. Once the Pirates are no longer the player's enemies, Sicily's south is safe. Also, if the player is allied with the pirates and at war with the Byzantines, the Byzantines will use their Navy to kill the pirates, but they will not land and units, so they are unable to kill all of the pirates' buildings. Because of that, the Byzantine AI may get stuck here, as they will not attack the player until the pirates are dead. This also have an advantage as it allows the player to send Trade Cogs to the Pirates' Docks instead of with the Berbers, which is safer if the player builds a dock on the south side of the island.
Now the player could start to create a larger army and conquer Sardinia for two reasons; first, most of the annoying Italian ships are created here; secondly, the AI is not protecting the island very well. Once conquered, Sardinia will also hold enough resources until the game's end.
Building a Wonder
Now the player can easily build a Wonder on Sicily or Sardinia (the player's Castles on Sicily should be able to sink all hostile ships, especially when the player also has 10-20 ships as support). In this scenario, wood, food, and stone are quite cheap in the Market (in particular after researching Guilds) so the player can easily defend the Wonder provided that they have some Relics (three should be enough) in a Monastery and a Market standing. Beware that building a Wonder will make the Byzantines turn hostile immediately upon the Wonder's completion and will attack aggressively.
Defeating or allying with all factions
In case the player prefers a more bloody way, the player could also start to invade Italy, but a Wonder is a faster way for sure. For every defeated enemy (with the exception of the Drengots who are also Sicilians), the player will get their unique technologies for free. The player cannot train Cataphracts but, if the Byzantines are defeated, Logistica will apply to the Knight-line.
"Poets, scientists, and artists came to Sicily from both the Islamic and Christian worlds, welcomed with admiration and tolerance. The long gestating seeds of Count Roger's patience, planted in this most fertile soil, had finally awoken and flowered under King Roger and this bright kingdom under the sun."
"As for the Holy Roman Emperor, he died in the mountains on his way back to Germany. His throne stood empty for many years, though his grandson, styling himself Henry the Lion, would lay claim to it."
"Ultimately, it was your German grandfather who finally restored the Holy Roman Empire and united Germany and Italy."
"You see, my dear Frederick Roger, in your name, you carry the legacies of both of your grandfathers. One, whom your German tutors adore, was, of course, the great Frederick Barbarossa."
"But the other - half-Norman, half-Italian, but fully Sicilian - was most like you."
"And that, my young king, is the story of how your family built the kingdom that you now rule."
The young king watched me for a moment. He stood up, thanked me for the lecture, and walked away. About halfway through the garden, he stopped and stood silent for a while, and then asked thoughtfully:
"Do you think...that I will be their equal? A new Guiscard, or Roger Bosso, or King Roger?"
"My king," I said, "in time, you will outshine them all."
- This scenario's name alludes to how Frederick II was known at the time of his death: stupor mundi, the Wonder of the World.
- The player is unable to build Cannon Galleons for the entire scenario. This is most likely to prevent the scenario from becoming too easy, as the player could destroy most enemy buildings with Cannon Galleons. It can also be explained by the fact that the scenario takes place before the use of gunpowder in Europe.
- On the other hand, building the Wonder will enable the production of Cannon Galleons for some enemies. This is most likely to prevent defending the Wonder from becoming too easy, as the player could make the Wonder virtually indestructible by protecting it with Castles. While that is a sound strategy either way, this way the player will also be required to have a navy to sink enemy Cannon Galleons.