|An Unlikely Alliance|
|Map Name||Lightning River (4)|
|Enemies||The Shah "The Artistic"|
The Rat "The Foolish"
|← Rat in a Cage- →|
The mission name suggests that this is going to be an uneven fight. That is right: the Shah and the Rat has allied against you. The map starts with gold equality for the first time. You start in the upper right, while the enemy team occupies the bottom, with the Shah being further from you on the other side.
The map is interesting, as the starting positions are far from each other. A river is crossing halfway through and there are some invisible passages through shallow water. Each estate has its own securable deposits, with yours being the most prosperous: iron and stone is found in abundance. The Shah has a stone deposit and the Rat has nothing.
Your position is favourable: you have every important resource at your disposal and thus you can make anything you want! Defenses should be light as always, since the enemy advances can be contained with a few units. You have no means to exploit the enemies either, as they have lots of ground to construct their siege camps and launch their attacks. The unit combination they send are not very convincing either: expect light units in the masses from the Rat and armored units from the Shah.
The southern perimeter is your most important interest. Build two medium towers: one to defend your iron mines and another near the oasis to overlook the crossing point. Both points will need heavy reinforcements and garrison to withstand the attacks. Lay down the stockpile southwest from the keep, erect a basic bread production, populate the iron deposits with iron mines and then build up your defenses along with recruitment buildings. It is advisable to focus on crossbowmen and archers since they are able to cover any unit combination tossed to you.
You might notice that you have very little starting weapons, namely a few spears to work with. Immediately build a mercenary post and recruit a handful of Arabian bowmen and Arabian swordsmen. They will come in handy in defending the first attack from the Rat.
Strengthening the castleEdit
The southeastern tower will be under a lot of pressure. Arabian bowmen and the Rat's units will constantly bully this position, causing heavy losses. Your fresh units should go here, immediately replacing fallen soldiers and holding back the relentless enemy waves. Lightning storms might occur some time into the game: not only they give a considerable -10 popularity, but they darken the vision over a portion of the map as well, striking buildings and units alike. Buildings might catch on fire and thus some [[well]s are needed to cover any fire.
Drawing first bloodEdit
Build a good combined force of crossbowmen, pikemen and templar knights.You can add some Arabian swordsmen if you want to add some all-round offensive power to your army. If you have a sufficient-sized army, move out and go for the Rat first, since he is far easier to take down than his teammate.
Take a direct route to the castle and demolish the Rat's granary and barracks to dampen the economy and unit production. A steady stream of units will come to greet your siege force, but they will easily overwhelm them. The tiny castle has almost no defenses, so just go inside. The Rat himself might come down to fight with your troops as a last effort.
With the Rat out of the way, you can now turn your attention to the Shah. His castle is not significant either: he has defenses, but they are tiny in number and they are spread out over a very large wall area. The Shah did not forget to put wooden hoardings as an aesthetic feature, though.
Grab your rodent-killer army and those garrisons in the southeastern tower. They should move as a big group towards the Shah's encampment. Keep them together or you might suffer unnecessary losses from stray Arabian units: the Shah's harassment will be just as active as it was before and you might be caught off guard.
Nonetheless, you should notice that the castle is very easy to break: only a single gatehouse is in your way! A bit to the south, the mercenary post stands undefended, which can be killed by just walking down to it and killing the small assembly there.
Break through the gatehouse with some of your troops and go upstairs, where the Shah waits you with his thugs to beat. Use your crossbowmen in the meantime to pick off the remaining bowmen on the walls. When you kill the Shah, you achieve victory and thus complete your first campaign! Harder challenges await, though.