Yes, and a large one indeed. If you didn't find out what is the point of the title, play a bit of SH2 and against the Queen. Take an estate and let her take it back. You can eventually hear her quotes if your defenses prevail. If you play against more Queens, you may hear it sooner. But I couldn't wait for this quote to arrive and stood up against 7 Queens, a bit of challenge. A very bit of challenge, which evolves into a big pressure, war of attrition, desperate survival in the beginning; get contained and slaughter endless swarms of enemy raiders, coming by the hundreds.
I played on the same map as I fought on last time against the Kings. But these were Queens instead, all of them in a big alliance of evil. 5000 gold was handed out for every player, starting on Duke rank. I started in the upper right, in the middle, with my enemies surrounding my territory.
Disclaimer: I had to restart the game as I was quickly overwhelmed in the beginning by numerous horse archers and catapults. I had to use another tactics in order to stay in the fight.
1. Early preparations
I didn't take it easy and my top priority was to quickly seal off my territory and to recruit enough troops. I quickly laid down some bread production, sawpits, contained bad factors and immediately placed a single wall line, fortified by a bastion and recruited as many archers and crossbowmen as possible for it. I placed a ballista top the tower. Then I placed quarries and gradually built iron mines and weapon production from the incoming wood and gold. I sold excess bread and everything I didn't need from the stockpile (grapes, hops, ale, cloth, pitch, candles and iron)
Just as my first troops arrived (2-3 minutes passed from the start), a huge swarm of 70-80 horse archers (approx.) knocked on my doors. The defense was set up and although my ballista got immediately wrecked, my small squad of 35 archers and 15 crossbowmen did what they could and they survived with relatively low casualties. But the swarms continued every now and then and I needed more troops to keep them in bay. Fletchers and tanners supported my war effort, but sometimes I had to rebuy equipment so I could afford more men. My iron supply was sufficient, but my defenders had hard time when the first siege forces came. Not only they had to deal with enemy horse archers and catapults, but berserkers, swordsmen and cats with laddermen also appeared on the horizon in large numbers. I had to support them.
From my incoming gold, I start hiring axe throwers. Not only they have good damage output, but they greatly benefit from the bastion's great height, therefore they could always hit a horse archer (they had to move just in range to fire). Catapults also got destroyed pretty quickly and they made a good replacement for crossbowmen (I continued to recruit them however, as cats were very resistant to arrows). Although catapults started pummeling my walls, the enemy never found a way in. Initially I had to pull off some archers from their post to push off enemy ladders, but I added more bastions and thickened the walling to triple size gradually, so my defense was soon hard enough to hold off the attackers. I placed mangonels in the other towers, and deployed some trebuchets behind the towers, so a massive stone storm constantly punished the enemy.
2. Breaking the enemy contain
Although my defenses were decent (75 archers, 50-60 crossbowmen, 30-35 axe throwers), enemy units kept swarming, which was impossible to halt without a proper army. Since horse archers excel at mobility and map control, I also took the choice of building up an army of horse archers. I waited for my army to get maxed out, since I needed the maximum number of horsemen to break out of my shell. I could get around 130 of them before the attempt.
Finally I grabbed these units and sallied forth. At first my losses were tough: dozens of horsemen died quickly, but even more of the enemy forces got killed. I constantly switched between recruiting and trading, even setting the rally point of the horse archers near the bridge. My trebuchets also made my life easier, however they had to stop after I managed to clear the bridge in order to prevent friendly fire. I could finally cut a line through the forest of enemy swordsmen and laddermen, who were late to counterattack. I could get 70 horse archers through and waited for the reinforcements.
The influx of enemy troops stemmed somewhat as there were fewer horse archers and siege forces in Zennor. I brought down the crossbowmen and carved a way through the remaining swordsmen, while the other squad did it best to survive. Soon the crossbows and fresh horse archers joined their comrades and I could finally turn into offense, while archers and axe throwers were left behind to garrison the defense line. Mangonels and trebuchets were reactivated to create a death zone again around the bridge. Soon 8 knights joined the main army. It took me 1 hour to break through.
3. Taking the first enemies
The yellow Queen was the first enemy to get, as my troops established a foothold on her territory. I marched to her position and started the siege. There was only a mangonel at range, while the ballista was a bit further. Nevertheless, my horse archers suffered huge casualties both from the defenders and ground patrols. My crossbowmen were also brought closer to thin out armored men and they prevailed. Soon the mangonel and the ballista got locked down, while my knights got in the castle with the help of some laddermen. The knights disposed of the few swordsmen in the keep and soon the yellow lady saw her death.
With six Queens left, I didn't actually feel any comfort. Attacks were still intense and as I gave up control on Zennor, numerous swordsmen gathered up and remained there to either guard the siege camp or just wait for something new. I moved to the purple Queen's territory, which was very easy to do, but my horse archers attracted a big load of swordsmen that had quite hard armor. I clumped up my units on the other side of the bridge and they concentrated fire on the swordsmen, who died like flies. I left my crossbowmen to guard the rear, while the horse archers moved up.
The purple Queen had constructed her castle so that the dual square towers were facing the bridge. I had to pick off several horse archers and another load of troops patrolling the perimeter with small losses. 11 catapults were constructed, but I soon found out that they are too tiresome to manage, as they were too weak against archers, who enjoyed the range advantage. So I just moved in my horse archers, followed up by the crossbowmen, who did their best. My horsemen hid behind the keep, who obviously activated the tower mangonel and ballista, but the mangonel could barely hit my troops. In fact, it was causing friendly damage and it could only hit the walls, but they got lower and soon the tower archers could snipe my units, so I had to work fast.
Most of the horsemen could fire on the vulnerable Lady on the keep. Although she was losing health quite fast, at 20% she decided to go and have a feast in the midst of a huge hostile offensive. I set up some ladders again and my knights moved in again, killing off swordsmen and numerous bodyguards. The Queen died at her table, with a chicken wing in her mouth, which got stuck in her throat and didn't let her breathe.
4. Finishing the job
After the second queen, the procedure was the same for the rest of the queens. They still were busy setting up camps and leading suicide sieges against me, but their pressure got considerably weaker. They attacked however my liberated estates, which I intended to sacrifice, but horse archers poured in and killed some of the weakened horsemen. Reinforcements were also hard to get through Zennor, since there was also a considerable number of enemy units present. These were always cleaned up so my reinforcements could join the army.
All five queens met their fate soon. The teal and the pink Queen was relatively easy to fight, with 33 knights killing their forces, with only a single loss in the end. The blue Queen was weakened by hiding behind the keep, but she was fierce and poured numerous swordsmen on my horsemen. The knights were sent in to deal with the tower defenses and after the way was clear, the knights got in, but the horse archers finished the Lady off, so they were no use.
The green Queen served a little help from my knights. 30 mounted knights were unleashed and rampaged across enemy territory, cutting down anything in their way. Also swordsmen held their ground and fought, the knights durability helped them get in the keep and the queen was soon finished off.
The orange queen deserved the worst death, being the last of the enemies to stand by far. Her castle was the toughest one to siege, as her two great towers were facing my army. They got however quickly disabled and despite the Queen's continuous replacements and huge initial losses I could carve a way with the knights and the Queen succumbed to an overwhelming force.
The game lasted about 3 hours, with a very heavy starting. It was not only a pure war of attrition, but a true testament of quick reaction and eco management skills. If you pay attention for defense first and not spend too much time with laying down the economy first, you can prevail. Half of your forces will need to guard the chokepoint and hold back endless swarms of units until you can stabilize.
Possibly cats and other devices can also work. Cats are very slow to advance and they'd need replacement, but they have good defensive capabilities. Horse archers are faster, but they also need quite an economy to fund their reinforcements. Catapults can quickly lock down a chokepoint, but they need shields or other defenses, since they are quite fragile.
Personal advice: do not even try to play against 7 Queens at a lower rank than Duke. The Queens can quickly rank up to Duke, while you struggle maintaining your economy and recruiting forces. A massive army of horse archers is very devastating, just as they were in this match.