It's another battle communique, how surprising.
As I have written in my previous post, I tried out how hard it is to fight 7 Saladins, after I have taken out 7 Wolves, which was quite a challenge. My expectations became real: it is MUCH harder than the Wolves.Many count Saladin as the Wolf's Arabian counterpart, with weaker troops and better economy. It is no doubt. However, Saladin is a very offensive lord, compared to the turtling and passive Wolf. He packs very big firepower and brutal units in a punch and swarms them group after group to overwhelm the victim. It is just awesome. Take 7 Saladins and have seven times the fun.
I took Close Encounters and played with 2000 gold evenly for all players, but this time I chose the middle left position. The map is so balanced that this position had much like the same advantages and disadvantages as in the previous game. Surrounded by 7 opponents, it was far from an even fight.
1. The setting out
It was very straightforward to open: a starting economy based on stone, expand slowly, have a decent number of defenders to contain enemy harassments and strike early on your two closest opponents.
This time I chose to build 3 quarries with 2 oxen each, 3 wheat farms, 5 bakeries and 5 woodcutters. The mercenary post was well early set up and I needed it. 15-20 Arab bowmen were needed to kill the enemy Saladins' arab bowmen, who were terrorizing my woodcutters and workers on both sides. I chose to quickly take the iniciative and placed a square tower facing the orange Saladin, while the remaining stone was used to start a wall line in the south, which I intended to finish in the north. Since there weren't many hostile units in sight, I could risk it without trouble.
The Arab bowmen could deflect the attacks with minimal losses and I used the incoming stone to recruit assassins. I quickly had 10-15 of them, being still not enough, as Saladin still had many bowmen standing. I had to utilize some horse archers to clear them out.
10 horse archers soon moved out and I moved my northern garrison southbound. The orange Saladin soon had no defenses left and tried to hopelessly bank up for more units, but he had almost nothing. After the swordsmen were lured out, my assassins got in and finished off the exposed Lord.
After this victory, I decided to complete my castle. I finished the wall line and instructed slaves, spearmen and archers to dig a medium-sized moat. More towers with mangonels were added and I kept on recruiting my strike force. The mangonels were targeted towards the yellow enemy, although they barely hit anything.
Then, I moved everyone to the south for the green Saladin. He had a slightly better economy than his former orange friend, but still not good enough. I recruited some more horse archers and circled them around the enemy castle to kill off bowmen on the ground (he had one or two towers standing, though). Then the assassins were sent in to kill the green enemy.
2. Thing are getting tense
My stronghold was in great look and I expanded my economy further. I had 5 quarries, 10-12 bakeries running (it could have been more) and started bow production along with crossbows and leather armour. I had a great income and used this money to recruit horse archers with assassins. Bread, stone and weapons came in great quantities and I liked that.
I discovered that the black enemy barely had any troops, as he kept spending his money on Arab bowmen and his farms were not operational due to my castle defenses. I quickly moved in a squad of horse archers and assassins to kill off the Arab bowmen, then finish off everyone on the keep, including the Lord. This was an easy victory, nevertheless I had to fight for it.
However, after this victory, a big threat revealed itself. The Saladins came with numerous horse archers, bowmen and Arab swordsmen, being a threat to my farms. Even worse, they had developed their economy so far that they could afford to construct and roll catapults. I had little force to fight on two sides, as I was holding a line at the northern stone deposit and my defenders in the southeast were desperate to hold off these swarms. As I relied on my horse archers because of their mobility, I had to give up that front and leave some crossbowmen there.
I had to defend with numerous men and I suffered great casualties because of the yellow mangonel and hostile units. Even worse, many enemy catapults piled up and bombarded my towers and buildings, crumbling one square tower, which had to be reconstructed. Even replacing the mangonels with ballistae did not help. The Saladin's big attacks also came after one another, however most of their units were just chilling out in friendly territory and decided to dig themselves in there. My income was barely enough to keep up with horse archer production and almost all defenders got sniped by fire ballistae. I had to do something, as I felt I would lose the game, if things were going to continue this way.
I knew that I had to contain the multi-pronged threats, so my next task was to set up another defense outpost. I located three square towers and placed ballistae and crossbowmen in them. It was hard to fortify that position at first, but then the crossbowmen prevailed and suffered no casualties till the end of the game. They held off attacks very well and the ballistae could snipe enemy catapults which were a threat before. I did not have to defend on the ground anymore.
I replaced the defenders in the southeast and kept my horse archers out of combat to prepare on the yellow Saladin. I had an unsuccessful siege before, so I massed them for one final attack. I also decided to lay good things and sacrifice my economy for taxes and combat bonus. I moved out with about 100 horse archers and I steamrolled the yellow garrison, with the mangonels being targetted first. I could also close their only gate, but I had to be careful not to get in range of the neighboring mangonels. After I swept out the walls and towers, I commanded 70 assassins (recruited them in the meantime) and killed the yellow Lord.
4. Finishing the quest
After I cleared the yellow Saladin, I could relax and release steam. I could plan and accumulate as many soldiers as I needed for the rest of the Saladins.
I started with the purple Saladin, who had the least troops out of the three opponents left (he had an attack just as I was dispatching his yellow friend). I moved in with 110 horse archers and 60 assassins, clearing out the bowmen and fire throwers first, then the keep, finally the lord.
After that I moved on the blue Saladin, who had very little money left. I moved in with 130 horse archers to rinse and repeat. This siege brought the most casualties, but reinforcements were always replacing their fallen brethren, always keeping up with numbers. After the archers were disposed of, the assassins destroyed the market and mercenary post to prevent further recruitment. I killed the trapped Lord and units with 92 assassins, although I needn't have brought that many.
The teal Saladin had over 10.000 gold and many troops left. Luckily, he moved his army out for an impossible attack, so my horse archer squad was more than enough to finish the teal troops off. He could only place one mangonel, but the ballistae sniped off horse archers constantly. Still, the relatively small garrison was quickly removed and the assassins moved in after destroying the market and the mercenary post. I was so relieved when the 'Victory' screen appeared!
It was a very hard game, which both included unit management and economy, against very economic and offensive enemies. It was far more enjoyable than the Wolves quest and taught me to keep being on my toes at all times. The game took 1 hours 48 minutes and I have killed 3700 troops, while losing ~700 units.