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Sounds easy, doesn’t it? You do indeed take o­n the lonely Saladin - but you also have to over-power the allied might of the Caliph, Nizar, Wazir, Emir and Pig. You have 7000 gold and they have 20000 each. The map looks distinctly crowded, although you do have access to all the resources. The starting goods are a bonus.

Extend your stockpile to 6 squares and place a granary and the mercenary tent. Try to avoid putting any buildings o­n the camp fire side of the keep. Map out a moat o­n the narrow eastern (right-hand) side of your territory (between the iron ore and stone deposits) and recruit 10 slaves to dig it. Mark out a longer moat o­n the western side of your settlement, running parallel to the stockpile and then turning south just past the camp fire (about o­ne round tower’s width), in an ‘L’ shape to join up with the eastern lake. Recruit 20 slaves and instruct them and your spearmen to dig this moat. Increase taxes to -2.

Place the engineers’ guild and recruit 20 engineers. Site two fire ballistae at the eastern moat and 8 spread out along the western bank in two groups of 4. Place three adjoining round towers centrally along your western boundary. Add wall, stairs, braziers and three manned ballistae. Place a market and purchase enough stone to bring stocks up to 110. Site two round towers at the eastern moat and put down wall, stairs, braziers and two manned ballistae.

Site an armoury, barracks and o­ne hovel. Purchase 50 bows and recruit these bowmen for your towers. When you have ‘the keep is enclosed’ message, return the slaves and spearmen to the safety of the keep.

Now site three woodcuters, three fletchers (two producing bows) and two wheat farms. Recruit 10 engineers and put two portable shields o­n each tower. Put down pitch ditch defences along the entire length of each moat. Leave occasional gaps as fire breaks. Sell all your iron. When wood arrives from the woodcutters, site a brewery, an inn, a dairy farm, a tanner, a quarry, three oxen, a second hovel and a hops farm.

Raise taxes when the inn opens. Recruit bowmen for the towers as you are able. I found that Saladin was killed by the blue Emir’s troops after about 4 game years. Enemy catapults, fire ballistae, trebuchets and bowmen are a big danger, together with slaves and macemen trying to return your moats to dry land. Make good use of the ‘Pause’ key to have a leisurely scout around the various battlefields.

Replace any destroyed ballistae. Try to keep your towers constantly repaired. As further wood arrives, site a mill, three bakeries, a third hovel, a second inn and three iron mines. As stone comes in, site a fourth adjoining round tower o­n the northern side of the other three at the western moat area. Add braziers, a manned ballista and two portable shields. Move archers from the middle towers to this end tower. If you have the resources, and the need, buy in bows and recruit archers for any towers that might appreciate reinforcements. Surplus hops, wheat and flour can be traded.

Some of the attacks from the north (with fire ballistae, trebuchets and catapults) became quite ferocious. I was therefore relieved when stone stocks allowed me to site three adjoining round towers immediately in front of the camp fire, with walling, stairs, braziers, manned tower ballistae and portable shields added. You can sell surplus hops, wheat, flour and iron and buy in the stone if needed. You may still have to manually target your tower ballistae at enemy siege equipment.

It wasn’t until I’d placed those three towers that I definitely knew I was going to win this mission. I celebrated by placing a fourth iron mine, a fourth hovel, a second quarry with two oxen, two blacksmiths (creating swords), a fifth hovel, two armourers, a fourth fletcher (making bows) and a fourth bakery.

Further fire ballistae can be sited around your perimeter. I placed two trebuchets o­n the western moat line and aimed at the Caliph’s lookout towers and gatehouse with the ‘attack here’ command. I deleted o­ne of the woodcutter huts at this stage as the trees were thinning out. I finally started recruiting horse archers. Swordsmen were retained o­n the keep. You can continue selling your surplus hops, stone, iron and flour. Keep your trebuchets well-stocked with stone. When you decide that you have enough bowmen, you can trade bows and leather armour for gold. When I placed small gatehouses and drawbridges o­n both moats (between the 7 towers o­n the western moat), this attracted the attention of swarms of assassins at my western side, although a fat lot of good it did them. O­nce I had heard the news that my army was approaching its maximum size, I sent my slaves and spearmen to reconnoitre the Caliph’s outside walls for pitch ditch defences. Regrettably, they didn’t get close enough to find anything out, but fire ballistae took down his mercenary post and engineers’ guild and started a small blaze. I marched against the Caliph with 56 swordsmen, 76 horse archers and 8 fire ballistae. It’s as well to ensure that his mercenary post and engineers’ guild remain destroyed just before the attack, and to stop your trebuchets. With the Caliph out of the picture, I remained near the site and built up my manpower. When I’d again reached the maximum permitted number, I had 111 horse archers, 91 swordsmen, 6 fire ballistae and two battering rams. I placed ‘good things’ and increased taxes to -12.  I moved my force slowly towards the yellow Wazir, horse archers to the fore, replacing fallen troops along the way. I also had to kill quite a few of the Emir’s horse archers and Arabian swords as they were using the route as an assembly point. The fire ballistae set fire to the Wazir’s external and internal buildings and then the battering rams and swordsmen moved in for the kill. I withdrew to the Caliph’s old place, re-sited my barracks, mercenary post and engineers’ guild there and regained my strength.

You can place two more oxen at the quarries and put a fifth bakery down. You can also increase food to ‘extra rations’ and raise taxes to -16. The fletchers and the tanner can be ‘rested’. I attacked Nizar “The Silent” at his settlement area where the moat remained unfinished. 90 horse archers and 10 fire ballistae were moved slowly within range and the fire ballistae managed to set alight the internal settlement buildings. When the inferno had died down, my 80 swordsmen were sent straight to the keep, ignoring the Arabian bows left standing. O­nce the Nizar had been killed, I withdrew all my troops to the barracks area and regrouped yet again. I moved against the Emir with 200 horse archers, 100 swordsmen, 15 fire ballistae and 4 battering rams (my reputation as a coward has been hard-earned). The Pig huffed and puffed but was dispatched without ceremony by my remaining personnel. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable mission, my favourite (to date) of this second trail.

Lord Mikando.

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