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Isaiah

SHC Skirmish Trails

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Actually, it could be better for me (this time) to play after this weekend. Now after I passed that one exam I have another one, but this time I'm not that near trying to pass it. Now I need to do a quick reading of the subject during this weekend, but I do feel more relaxed at the moment. :)

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Hi folks - it's been absolutely ages? - how is everyone?

I've very recently got back into playing Crusader and have been playing through the two trails again - as usual I hit a wall on 'The Forgotten' (need to remember how Lord Michael recommended tackling that one), but I am making decent headway on the second trail, up to Mission 65 now. I was thinking that if anyone is struggling with this trail, I can offer you some save-games for most missions which are at a point of near victory - just pm me if you'd like any (I haven't bothered with this for the super-easy starting missions). If you don't want to use them for 'winning' the mission, it might be handy to see how I've built my defense and so forth.

 

Paul

Edited by LordPaultheDubious

'...But be not afraid of jesters; some are born jesters, some achieve jesters and some have jesters thrust upon them'

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Hi Paul!

 

You're right, it has been a long time - good to see you around again! I'm great thanks, things have been pretty manic lately but are finally starting to settle down a bit. How about yourself?

 

You wouldn't mind uploading some to the downloads section/sharing them so I can upload them, would you? They could prove invaluable for us in the long-term and would help massively until we get a chance to get some walkthroughs up - even then I usually link saved games at the bottom of all walkthroughs I write.


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The fields have eyes, and the woods have ears.

⁠— Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales: The Knight's Tale

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Sure can! :)

Yeah, I am well thanks - full-time teacher, so life's been busy, but as a couple of my classes are now on exam/study leave, ths term's feeling less hectic.

 

Sending them via Google drive - sent you an email.

Edited by LordPaultheDubious

'...But be not afraid of jesters; some are born jesters, some achieve jesters and some have jesters thrust upon them'

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So glad to see you, Lord Paul. :)

 

Yes, The Forgotten is quite a hard mission. It was one of those it took me days until I figured out how to win that one, when I was playing those missions for the first time.

 

So glad to see another one among us being teacher! Well, now I'm at university, but before that I used to teach mathematics in high school for almost two years, and I taught math in an elementary school for one semester. What is your subject? :)

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So glad to see you, Lord Paul. :)

... What is your subject? :)

English Language and Literature :)

I seem to recall 'The Forgotten' being won by strategically placing a square tower full of archers and x-bows just in front of the river-crossing to guard it and protect your farms. I also remember it being a long, hard fight the first time I beat it...which must be 10 years ago, so I am a bit hazy. I might even still have a paper print-out of LM's original walkthrough somewhere...

Edited by LordPaultheDubious

'...But be not afraid of jesters; some are born jesters, some achieve jesters and some have jesters thrust upon them'

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Nice. :) Would be interesting to know if there are even more teachers among us from Stronghold Heaven/Knights/Nation. :)

 

Yes, it is a little bit long fight, but once you get to kill Rat and Snake it gets a lot easier. I remember even managing to win that mission by making "an actual" castle, that is - without building farms behind the walls. Also, the first time I won that mission Wolf managed to collect 100,000 gold, and it was so hard to kill him. That was the first time for me to build around 100 catapults. And hell, it was effective. :D I didn't kill him in that first attacking wave, he used to repair the castle during the attack, but that did weaken him a lot, and the next attack was fatal.

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Would be interesting to know if there are even more teachers among us from Stronghold Heaven/Knights/Nation.

 

Not actually a teacher by profession these days, but I have always enjoyed teaching undergradulate students at university and supervising student's projeccts. I moved away from the university since, but I have always felt that the teaching vocation has never quite left me.

 

I guess, when you work with a team of young people, you are always in some way also a teacher.

And yes, I do remember the good teachers I had :)

 

 

 

...by making "an actual" castle, that is - without building farms behind the walls.

 

That is a nice definition of "an actual castle". It has always stuck me as unnatural that in Stronghold you put everything behind your castle wall. In reality a castle would sit next to (or above) a village and it's fields and only in times of danger would all the peasants come inside and seek refuge within the walls.

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I agree, I do still like that part of my job right now at the university. The only thing about my university (or my country) is that we actually get too much subject and too much students to teach, and we struggle to find some time to learn for our own exams, and not to mention doing science. :( I hope it would get better after I would finish my PhD studies though, but now I realize it would have been easier if I just left abroad to another university with better work conditions.

 

Yeah, that about many Stronghold players has always bugged me, and I wish Firefly could have done something to force players to build "actual castles", and without the gameplay paying the price.

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Hi folks! Dropped off the face of the earth there for about a year. Good to see you all still around. Lord Paul, your offer might just have motivated me to get cracking on that trail again :)

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Hello Frankel; wellcome back :D

 

 

 

Yeah, that about many Stronghold players has always bugged me, and I wish Firefly could have done something to force players to build "actual castles", and without the gameplay paying the price.

 

I guess SH2 has a way for it with the estate system. One could make a map with a small castle estate that has only the essential castle buildings and that is surrounded by village estates that produce the food and weapons that the castle needs to survive.

 

If the village centre is within bow shot of the castle, the castle can truely offer protection to the villages.

And yes, with a besieging army you can still raid the villages and try to starve out the defenders. Maybe we can make such a map one day :)

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I totally agree! We're used to playing Stronghold 2 with huge castle estates, but trying to do our best on small castle estates could be something interesting. We would have to make a compromise, and I guess most of us would sacrifice castle production for having lords kitchen, church, jousting ground, stables, etc.

 

But this is Stronghold Crusader subforum, so we should refrain from keeping our conversation about Stronghold 2 here, but rather open another thread in Stronghold 2 subforum. :)

Edited by EaglePrince

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It has been quite some time since I last posted in this thread.

 

Anyway, I had to start over on the Crusader trail because I got a new computer, but it is fine with me. I have redone the 3 missions so far, and I'll probably tackle the next few over this week and the following week.

 

For the first mission Arrival, I simply rushed the Sultan with a bunch of Arabian swordsmen and completed the mission in less than a year. (Sorry, I couldn't help myself.)

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The second mission of the first edition campaign trail is called "Setting Out". It pits you against the Caliph with 2000 gold for each of you.

 

I'm not going to go too much into how I built my castle and defended it from the Caliph. The main things to be noted are:

1) I eventually switched to simply bread production though I started with 2 dairy farms and 2 wheat farms (partially because the Caliph kept burning my farms in the beginning plus wheat farms take up less space).

2) I started iron production very early (pretty much as soon as I entered the map). I made sure to put my Iron Mine inside the castle walls after the Caliph burned my first one.

3) Since all the stone was on the Caliph's side, I ended up buying all the stone I needed to build my castle. To obtain the funds, I simply sold any excess iron (a lot) and plate armor I had.

4) For my army (both offensive and defensive), I focused solely on building archers and pikemen. (I did buy 5 crossbowmen towards the beginning of the game though and kept them on the keep.)

5) The main problem I had with the Caliph was keeping him from burning my farms. I had to send out quite a few pikemen to take out his obnoxious arabian bowmen since they kept killing my archers. The problem was solved completely once I built two round towers and built ballistae on top of them.

6) I used positive fear factor to help boost the strength of my troops. (-30% to productivity, +15% to troop strength)

 

As far as killing the Caliph goes, it really was not that difficult, though I ended up using more troops than I originally planned on using. In total, I probably used about 100 pikemen and 55 archers, but my initial force was about 50 pikemen and 40 archers along with a siege tower and a battering ram. First, I moved my troops to the forest directly south of my castle (where all of the marsh is). Then, I moved them right until they were directly south of his castle but out of his firing range.

 

I sent the archers out first with the siege tower close behind them. The first thing I took out with my archers was the single Fire Ballista, then I focused on trying to take out the fire throwers that were in the tower. Alas, I was a bit slow, and all of my initial archers were wiped out trying to take out the second fire thrower, but it did not matter that much.

 

While my archers were being wiped out by the enemy bowmen, my siege tower was making it to the wall, so I started sending my pikemen in that direction. When the tower finally reached the wall, I sent my pikemen on top of the wall to capture the gatehouse. Unfortunately, as soon as I started moving my pikemen, the Caliph decides to light his obnoxious pitch ditches. Thankfully, the pikemen seem to have good resistant against fire because they only took moderate damage (versus getting almost killed). I had half my pikemen target the enemy Lord. (They did not really make it there...) The other half I sent to destroy towers. It is also about this time when I sent in the battering ram to crush the towers. (Obviously, I was targeting all the towers with the dangerous fire throwers.) Due to multiple pitch ditches, I pretty much lost all of my initial troops.

 

Despite that fact, the Caliph was unable to take advantage of this because I sent a few more archers to his castle. This time, they attacked from the northeastern side of the Caliph's castle rather than the southern side. They got killed pretty fast, but it was enough to stall him while I sent multiple groups of pikemen to take him out. Some went to the north or east side while others went to the southern side. Even with all his fire throwers and pitch ditches, the Caliph was unable to take out my massive army of pikemen. As a result, he died, and I won.

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The third mission in the trail is quite a bit harder than the previous mission. It puts you and Lionheart up against 2 Caliphs with 10,000 gold for everyone. Whereas the previous mission took me only 19 years, this one took me 37 years (so about double the time). (I also lost over 400 troops in this mission compared to the 150 or so troops I lost in the previous mission.)

 

The main thing that makes this mission tough is fire and for two reasons. The first reason is that fire continuously disrupts your food and There were several times where my popularity went into the red because of no food, and I ended up either begging Lionheart for some or bought food at the market (or both). Due to all the wheat farms that kept being destroyed (as well as my woodcutters), I ended up getting low on wood quite often as well. (I kept replacing the farms only for them to be destroyed 3 or so months later.) This issue was eventually somewhat solved once I found a piece of oasis where I could put my wheat farms that was in range of my two towers, but it took forever to find such a place.

 

The other reason fire is such a nuisance in this scenario is that it wipes out most troops in no time, and the Caliph uses a lot of it when defending his castle. Since Lionheart primarily uses swordsmen and pikemen for his attack forces, his forces got burned pretty quickly whenever I tried to attack the yellow Caliph with him. It took multiple attempts to finally kill the yellow Caliph.

 

After the first failed attempt, the Blue Caliph decides to take advantage of the situation and sends out about 50 (probably an overestimate) arabian swordsmen to take me out. The first time he did this, I was not prepared, and I ended up reloading before he killed my Lord (which would have happened if I did not reload.) After reloading, I bought a few crossbows and leather armor--I had no crossbowmen at the time--and placed them on the northernwestern side of my castle, the side of my castle that by far saw the most action. This time, he did not manage to even breach my wall.

 

The next time I tried to attack the Yellow Caliph's castle, I enlisted Lionheart's help (which he provided) as before, and like before, he destroyed both armies. Well, he kinda destroyed both my armies. After having my initial troops killed, I simply continued to send more and more troops over there until the Caliph basically ran out of money and defenders. (This tactic worked pretty well except for when my popularity was in the red because my wheat farms had been destroyed by the Blue Caliph.) Unlike the first time, I brought a new weapon to the scene: knights.

 

Knights are pretty powerful in Crusader; however, they are not overpowered like they are in Stronghold 2 (and Legends). The main advantage to knights is their movement speed which I used to take out important targets such as the Caliph's fire ballistae and granary. The main downside to using knights is that they are horrible when it comes to taking down walls and towers; even when I tried to take down a lookout tower with 5 of them, it took forever.

 

After getting rid of the yellow Caliph, all the left was the blue Caliph. Whereas the yellow Caliph was huge pain in the neck to get rid of, the blue Caliph was rather easy to take out; it was a matter of massing enough troops. To expediate things, I set my troop rally points at the location of the yellow Caliph's destroyed castle. Once I had enough troops, I sent my 60 or so archers first to draw enemy fire and to take out some enemy archers and then sent in my other troops (monks and pikemen). I also had my knights take out his fire ballistae (as well as activate all the pitch ditches), and once my troops breached the wall, my pikemen took out the blue Caliph. (I should also note I attacked the blue Caliph on two fronts: from the south but also from the east.)

 

It is worth noting that the two Caliphs seem to complement each other well. The blue Caliph was great at disrupting my food production and industry, and the yellow Caliph proved to be an impassable iron wall. (I guess I could have tried attacking the blue Caliph first, but I figured that would be harder plus Lionheart is in a better position to help from the south.)

--------

I have attached images of my castles from both missions.

fe2_setting_out_castle.bmp

fe3_dusty_land_castle.bmp

Edited by Isaiah

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I see you've been having a lot of fun with these three missions. That's great to hear! :)

 

Indeed, Caliph is a touch opponent. By the time most of us develop some way of fighting against each of the AI lords. For example, if I'm going against Caliph, I won't try to use almost all crossbowmen, because archers are better in taking down huge groups of their slaves trying to burn my farms, quarries, etc. So I mix them, although with many others I would just focus on crossbowmen.

 

It would be fun if Firefly had managed to find a way to make an AI lord less predictable though! Less predictable in the way they attack, and less predictable in the way they defend, so that you wouldn't know whether they have pitch around, or inside, their castle walls, some traps here and there, etc.

 

When it comes to taking down Caliph... Macemen and catapults are the answer. ;) And patience. Yes, in this mission they grow pretty strong, but in that case you can do either of the two options: besiege him, and start destroying his stuff from safe distance with catapults and trebuchets which would lead to him losing his gold, and which which by the time make him an easy target once he has open castle with a clear way for your macemen to run in; or to plan the attack carefully so that you open him up, rush into the castle with macemen, and take him down. In the later case you might want to have few groups of macemen which you would send one after the other, because you don't want all your troops to burn together. The first wave would burn, and the second groups would run in exactly after the pitch stops burning.

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Thanks for the advice about the Caliph; I'll keep that in mind. I finished two more today. The fourth mission was fairly short while the fifth mission was excruciatingly long.

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The fourth mission of the first edition trail is "An Old Friend", and like the name implies, it pits you up against the Pig, one of the opponents from the original Stronghold. Here, you get 2000 gold while the Pig gets 4000 gold to start with.

 

In some ways, this mission was easy, and in other ways, this mission was tough. It was easy in the fact that once I finished my castle, the Pig basically couldn't touch me; he did have one early attack that reached my Lord, but my Lord, spearmen, and archers killed all the macemen. On the other hand, it was hard in that all my troops kept getting slaughtered by crossbowmen... I probably should've brought some catapults to take out some towers.

 

I eventually killed him after bankrupting him, and then amassing a large enough army that wouldn't be slaughtered by the crossbowmen.

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The fifth mission of the First Edition Trail, "The Arabian Adventure", pits you up against 3 Snakes, but you start with 4000 gold whereas each of them start with 2000 gold. For me, this mission was excruciatingly long and took over 50 in-game years to complete (over 4 hours real-time).

 

It is not extremely difficult to defend your Lord against the combined attacks of all three Snakes; the trouble lies in defending your stone quarries and iron mines against the unrelenting stream of enemy slaves and archers. At first, I tried sending just a few archers to protect them; however, this never worked because 1) for whatever reason, they always seemed to let a slave get by, and 2) they kept getting killed by the Snakes' archers. Indeed, I spent about 25 in-game years trying to find some way to maintain my iron mine from the Snake's slaves, and once I finally managed to do this, the mission got quite a bit easier. (I tried to defend the quarry for a while but eventually gave up on it because it wasn't worth it and securing the iron mines would be a better strategy.)

 

The key to securing the mine was crossbowmen which may seem strange as first since the Snake uses only light troops (archers, arabian bowmen, slingers, spearmen, and slaves as well as catapults). The reason it worked was the crossbowmen could absorb a much higher number of arrows compared to the archers. There was one drawback to this though: the crossbowmen's shorter range. Thus, I sent a decent-sized army--I think it was about 25 of each--composed of archers and crossbowmen to protect the mine. Once I had the mines protected, I started training pikemen and knights.

 

Even after gaining a stable supply of iron, I still had a difficult time getting this mission finished. The reason was the absurd number of archers the Snake keeps on his walls and keep. If I sent in archers and crossbowmen to try to kill them, he simply slaughtered them all in no time. (I had over 60 archers killed in about a minute by the archers on the blue Snake's keep.) If I sent in knights, they could kill any archers outside the walls and do some damage inside the walls (if they got in), but they couldn't kill the Lord or any of the troops defending the keep which limited their usefulness. (Also, as a side note/question: do spearmen (and possibly pikemen) have a combat bonus up against knights? I might be mistaken, but it really seemed like 8 or so spearmen could generally kill a knight or two in a group of 8 knights.) If sent in pikemen, they could get into the castle (with enough of them), but they could never reach the keep alive. Thus, they were about as effective as the knights. (I did heavily consider using siege equipment, and I did use a few siege towers as well as a few defensive trebuchets, but it did me very little good since the main problem was clearing the troops on the keep which is the one thing that siege equipment does a very poor job against.)

 

Eventually, I found a solution, but it take me several years to find it: swordsmen. While pikemen have the highest health in the game (besides the Lord) and can survive a few more crossbow bolts than swordsmen, swordsmen can survive several times more arrows than pikemen. (Honestly, the number they can absorb is quite ridiculous!) Whereas 30 or so pikemen would be all dead by the time they reached the Snake's keep, out of 30 or so swordsmen, only about half of them would be dead or low health and the rest would murder the enemy Lord. (This is not to say the pikemen weren't useful: pikemen can take down enemy walls, towers, and gatehouses much faster than swordsmen.)

 

Once I finally slayed the yellow Snake, the game was basically over. The orange Snake, who didn't even fully enclose his castle (is that a bug?) could not stand up against 30 swordsmen, and the same applies for the blue Snake.

 

Despite how obnoxious the Snakes were in this level, I do like how Firefly designed them. By themselves, they are merely a nuisance (they don't have a high chance of killing your Lord), but suppose you pair them with some stronger opponents (the Wolf, Saladin, etc), and you have a quite a bit of trouble on your hands. Whereas the Caliph tends to be a nuisance only while you are setting up your castle (ie: in the first part of the game), the Snake remains a constant nuisance throughout the game. Part of this is the sheer number of archers he has, but it isn't just that; it is the way he disperses his troops. Rather than bringing out his archers only to siege you, he spreads them out in several small groups, and whenever you try to kill one group (with melee units), you end up in range of another group. (It has been forever since I played against many of the AI opponents in Crusader, so I'm not going to say this is unique to the Snake (because it probably is not). Still, it seems to me that the Snake has a pretty smart AI.)

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The sixth mission of the first edition trail has you and Lionheart teamed up against the Wolf with 10,000 gold for everyone. I completed the mission in about a half-hour (real-time) and 10 in-game years. To be honest, this mission is much easier than it appears.

 

First of all, despite there being no oasis (so no farms), I ended up maintaining a small bread chain (one mill and 4 bakeries) using the starting wheat. Furthermore, the castle was small enough that I could just occassionally buy wheat from the market and still maintain extra rations (and average taxes).

 

The Wolf, generally a very fearsome enemy to siege, was heavily crippled by Lionheart's catapults and the lack of oasis land for food. Alas, these factors made him very easy to siege; a single group of 3 pikemen could do much damage to his castle because his troops were spread out thin. I used this tactic to weaken him further. Eventually, I sent a group of swordsmen (about 20 or so) as well as a few pikemen to take down his gatehouse and storm his keep, and just like that, the Wolf is dead.

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The seventh mission of the first edition trail is titled "Greek Fire", and it puts you up against two allied Caliphs. The Caliphs get 4000 gold each while you only start with 2000. Despite the fact that you hold a very good position against the Caliphs, this mission ended up being somewhat difficult, especially in the beginning.

 

I had to restart this mission because I could tell that the way I tried it the first time just was not going to work. The first time I tried the mission, I tried to hold the ford against the two Caliphs, but this proved to be a mistake in the long run due to the Caliph's fire ballistae, which I could not destroy because he kept slaughtering all my troops on the gatehouse. Furthermore, as soon as one of the Caliphs stopped their siege, the other one would start sieging me, so I could never really recuperate.

 

Thus, I finally decided to restart the mission and try a different approach. Instead of simply blocking the river ford, I surrounded my castle with walls. This helped in two ways: 1) the Caliphs' fire ballistae kept targeting my stone quarry, but unfortunately for them, the bolt kept getting blocked by one of my walls and 2) even if they did slaughter my troops nearest ford, which is exactly what happened, I still had troops on other walls to help control the troops that swarmed in better.

 

Nonetheless, I still found myself in quite a tough situation because my troops were having a hard time targeting the enemy catapult, the biggest threat because if it crushed my wall, I would have to deal with the fire ballistae, and the troops kept coming without end, so I could never build up my defenses. (I believe the combined sieges of the two lasted for about 7-8 years before they finally stopped.) Then, it hit me: what if I used fire ballistae to take out their fire ballistae and catapults? The fire ballistae, which was kept behind my wall nearest the ford, worked great: it could easily take out the enemy siege equipment while also being almost invulnerable from the enemy siege equipment.

 

Once the extended siege finally ended, I quickly hired 20 or so crossbowmen and several archers and placed them on my large gatehouse and round tower nearest the ford. After that, the Caliphs were no longer a problem.

 

For the yellow Caliph, I used a catapult to weaken him. Then, I sent in two groups of pikemen (about 15 each) to breach the enemy's walls (and cause him to use his pitch) and then sent several swordsmen to kill him. (I did lose all the pikemen in the attack, but it did not matter that much to me.)

 

For the blue Caliph, I once again used pikemen to breach the wall and swordsmen to kill him. I did hire several fire ballistae to take out the enemy's fire ballistae. (Those things do some serious damage to swordsmen.)

 

Here's the castle I used:

 

lYWcW

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I was just going to ask for few screenshots. :) But I cannot see the picture of your castle.

 

Those two missions are interesting, and I especially like those economically challenging missions where you have little to no resources around your keep. Pity that Wolf builds one of his stupid castles. I mean, it looks cool, but it is inefficient, and with few troops on each tower. If he Wolf was putting way more troops on those towers, then that would be one hell of a castle.

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The eighth mission of the first edition trail is titled "The Sands of Time", and while it might appear easy at first glance (I mean, it's the Rat!), it is not so. It is you against four Rats with you beginning with 4000 gold while they begin with 2000 gold.

 

Honestly, I probably could have finished this mission long before I finally did if I made better decisions in the beginning. Similar to the Endless Desert, this level's difficulty lies moreso in maintaining a healthy economy versus being killed by the Rats (though it can happen if you are not careful). First off, it is really hard to maintain an effective food economy because your keep is quite a distance from your farms, so the farms are hard to defend from the Rats' constant assault of archers and spearmen. The second issue is that it virtually impossible to obtain any stone or iron from the map because those resources are way too far from your keep. To top it all off, wood is also hard to obtain (at least in the early game where it is most important) for the exact same reason as the other resources. Thus, having a large economy is DEFINITELY the wrong way to approach this.

 

I basically ended up using a similar strategy to what I used back when I first did this level (ie: when I started this thread), but I probably did it with way less efficiency than when I did it then. For my economy, I had a mill, 4 bakeries, two breweries, two inns (the second probably was not neccessary), a poleturner, a hovel, and a few fletchers. I tried to maintain a single hop farm and wheat farm as well, but that never ended up working out well.

 

While this economy is fairly small, it is sufficient against the Rat, but some tips that I didn't figure out until later in the level: 1) Ale is definitely the way to go for this level 2) Using half rations is very effective; most of your income is likely to come from selling weapons versus from taxes, and food is quite expensive (use taxes for troop training). The painful thing about this economy is I have to keep an eye on wood, wheat and food, and hops and ale; I always bought wood, wheat, and hops from the market.

 

As for defensive position, I never built a complete castle. Basically, I set up a gatehouse and a few perimeter turrets overlooking the oasis land, and that was it. (Also, this is the first time I've really used perimeter turrets, and I found them to be quite cost-effective compared to paying for 30 stone for a square tower.) At the start of the game, I bought 10 or more bows as well as 5 pikes and 5 metal armors to ensure that an early attack from the Rat did not kill me. (This was, by the way, a very smart decision, as the Rats did manage to get to my keep a few times, but my pikemen held them off.)

 

What made this level take me so long was that poor early economic decisions meant that I was constantly out of money. As far as killing the Rat goes, 30 or so archers and some pikemen and swordsmen (even if not cost efficient) are more than enough most of the time. Once I had weakened the second Rat (I killed the orange Rat first because Duc de Puce was the least risky to attack, and then the yellow Rat was next closest), I was able to maintain a single wheat farm and a single hop farm, which went a long way towards reducing the amount of micromanagement I had to do.

 

Surprisingly, the size of my popuation throughout the game was pretty much the same as the Rats --> 26 people. Obviously, I made much more effective use of my 26 people than the Rats did.

---

The ninth mission of the First Edition trail is titled the Oasis and pits you up against Saladin with an equal amount of gold.

 

Defensively, this mission is very easy. Saladin only attacked me once which I easily dispatched. On the other hand, sieging Saladin's castle is very tough indeed--I lost over 400 troops trying to dispatch Saladin (and probably 200+ were pikemen and swordsmen).

 

Since my siege (which alas, I forgot to take screenshots) was the most notable part of the entire level, I'll go over that. My initial force consisted of about 30 archers and 25 crossbows (along with a few arabian bowmen and 10 slingers) alongside 40 pikemen and 35 swordsmen. I also sent in two fire ballistae, two catapults, and a trebuchet.

 

The first thing I did was camp all my troops to the west of Saladin's castle (where all the trees are); they were in no danger of being attacked because Saladin for one reason or another just doesn't attack in this level. I then proceeded to build a trebuchet outside of the range of Saladin's mongonel and begin to fire at the closest tower (the northwestern one). With my trebuchet firing, I then sent in all my ranged units and ordered them to kill the two firethrowers (the nearby one and the one near the northeastern tower) before anything else. While my ranged troops occupy the enemy ranged units, I send in one of my groups of pikemen and swordsmen to destroy Saladin's mercenary post, so he could not recruit new soldiers during my siege. I also sent my fire ballistae into range (and let them just fire) and my catapults in range of the tower so it too could assault the tower. Alas, these forces proved insufficient to kill the enemy Lord; what they did accomplish was destroying the perimeter defenses and breaching the wall.

 

Meanwhile, I am busy recruiting and reinforcing my primary force with forces from my base. Like I noted earlier, Saladin really does not attack on this level--I used that knowledge to my advantage and sent **ALL** of my troops at my castle towards my main force. The issue was that it takes them quite awhile to get over there, so I decided to buy a few spears and send a small group of spearmen over there as well to ensure that Saladin does not rebuild the mercenary post. (One of my tactics was keeping my troops close enough to Saladin's castle that he could not rebuild the mercenary post because that would mean the end of my siege.) I also bought bows and other weapons to make sure there were always troops heading over there (while I'm trying to get to Saladin's keep).

 

When it seemed I was about to lose the siege, I had this great burst of inspiration to hire engineers to build portable shields near Saladin's castle to take some of the arrows. I also built more fire ballistae and had them target the rebuilt mongonel as well as the southwestern tower's ballista. I would like to note that taking out Saladin's ballista proved very effective in ensuring that my troops survived long enough for the next wave of reinforcements to come. Saladin's final defense, which was also the reason that my first few attempts of storming the keep failed, was a single firethrower on Saladin's keep. Having dispatched Saladin's ballista, my ranged troops finally managed to kill the firethrower, and from there, it was simply a matter of getting to the keep. (Initially, I entered the castle by knocking down the tower and then destroying the wall. This proved super inefficient, so I began destroying the wall near where the mercenary post was formerly located, and this proved much faster.)

 

Honestly, I cannot imagine how I am going to destroy Saladin in levels where I have scarce resources--Saladin is tough enough when you have vast resources!

 

Well, I am back where I was before I lost my progress, so let's see if I can finish more of the trail!

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The tenth mission of the First Edition trail is titled "Land of Palms". Everyone begins with 10,000 grand, and it is you and the Rat versus Saladin and the Sultan.

 

This level is pretty tough; while the Sultan may be weak on his own, he is an extreme nuisance with Saladin's aid. (Speaking of the Sultan, I think the primary difference between the Rat and the Sultan is that the Sultan has the easiest castle to siege whereas the Rat has the easiest siege army to crush.) Defending against the combined attacks of the Sultan and Saladin (well actually, I believe the Sultan generally attacks first followed by Saladin's attack) is not easy, and the Rat is practically useless.

 

The key to a good defense on the level is a moat; with it, the Sultan's threat is severely decreased. It also helps weaken Saladin's forces since he seems to only bring slaves and arabian bowmen to dig moats with. That said, a moat alone would be insufficient because Saladin's horse archers are very effective at clearing out towers. One also has to deal with Saladin's siege equipment (catapults and fire ballistae). In addition to my partial moat (the back side of my castle was never defended by a moat), my defense consisted of a large gatehouse flanked by two round towers towards the southern corner of my castle (the area directly north of Saladin's castle). I filled the towers and the gatehouse with several crossbowmen, two ballistae, and a few archers, and that was basically enough to repel all of the attacks that I suffered (though note that unlike in previous levels, I didn't simply ignore Saladin's large attacks; I made sure to target the ballistae at his siege equipment.)

 

Besides defending my own castle, there was also the Rat's castle to deal with. After all, even if he is a very weak ally, he is still useful at times (like when you need goods--he's very generous!) Towards the very beginning of the game, I sent a few crossbowmen to his keep, and later on, I sent pikemen and archers. Eventually, I added a round tower to his castle and placed several crossbowmen as well as a few archers and a ballista on it. After doing that, I guess Saladin gave up on trying to siege his castle because he never sent any catapults or fire ballistae towards the Rat's castle after I did that.

 

Once my defense seemed stable, I started getting ready to siege one of the enemies. The Sultan was the obvious choice to siege first. Earlier I said that the Sultan has the easiest castle to siege; the reason I say that is because he uses almost NO long-ranged missile units to defend it; he has like 15 arabian bowmen that he defends his keep with and that is it. The rest of the defenders are slingers (useless without support from longer ranged trooops), arabian swordsmen, and fire throwers. Thus, to siege his castle, I sent like 10 pikemen, 25 arabian bowmen plus a few archers and crossbowmen (the crossbowmen are useful against the swordsmen), and a siege tower. (I did have some backup forces, but they were not really needed.) I sent my troops to the far east of the map then far south towards where the Sultan had built his quarries. After letting Saladin's siege attempt on me fail, I went in for the kill by first clearing his slingers with my long-range troops (which clearly outranged his troops); then, I sent in my siege tower and had my pikemen climb it and capture the gatehouse. With the gatehouse captured, I proceeded to plant my missile troops on top of it and allow them to pick off the remaining arabian swordsmen. Then it was simply a matter of picking off the Lord with my pikemen. This is by far one of the easiest sieges I've ever done.

 

Moving on to Saladin, sieging him in this level is way easier than in the previous level. First thing I did was combine my forces from sieging the Sultan and replacing the engineers from the siege tower with fire ballistae. Then, I just left them near where the Sultan had fallen. The next thing I did was hire 24 horse archers with the original plan of clearing some of Saladin's defenses with them... That did not go too well--his horse archers caught mine, and then he began sending his arabian swordsmen towards mine. Oh well... So after that, I decided that I was going to attempt a multi-sided attack on Saladin using my forces from my castle, my forces at the Rat's castle, my forces near Saladin's castle (east side where the Sultan was), and the Rat's forces. Basically, I had my castle defenders in one large group and had them attack from the north whereas the Rat and my froces over at his castle attacked from the west while my other forces attacked from the east. It worked fairly well; albeit, I think that if I payed more attention or attacked from only two fronts instead of three, it might've worked better. Pretty much all of the non-siege equipment perimeter defenders were killed (there were still a few bowmen in the southwest corner) were killed by the time my eastern ranged units were killed, and I still had my pikemen (east end) and about 40+ crossbowmen at the north side of the castle.

 

As for my pikemen, I split them up. I had some of them attack the eastern wall and some of them destroy the mercenary post. The ones that destroyed the mercenary post then proceeded to attack the gatehouse, which was probably a mistake (because of the Arabian Swordsmen), but not a large one due to the absurd number of crossbowmen in the area I still had. Nonetheless, I did have to send reinforcement troops (more pikemen and crossbowmen) before all of my initial forces got wiped out. (Actually, I think the swordsmen did kill my pikemen, but lucky for me, the Rat's spearmen in the area, so Saladin could not rebuild his mercenary post. I used my crossbowmen to clear most of the campfire and keep area before I sent my pikemen (and a few swordsmen) in again, which with the help of the Rat's spearmen (for killing the swordsmen that came out without all my troops dying to them and Saladin like what happened the first time I got my my troops on the keep), I was able to kill Saladin. The only annoying thing was that due to how much gold Saladin had, he kept rebuilding his siege equipment and sending engineers to man them--I had to constantly destroy them. In fact, I destroyed one of his towers (the one with the mongonel near the northern gatehouse) just so he wouldn't rebuild his siege equipment on that one.

---

The eleventh mission of the First Edition trail is Rocky Valley, which pits you up against 3 allied Pigs, but you start with 4000 gold while they start with 2000 gold each.

 

This level is pretty easy; your position is resource rich and very easy to defend. First, I enclosed my keep, which was very easy to do. I also placed two round towers with ballistae at the northern end of my castle. Then, I extended the northern side of my castle and placed a second wall that was connected to a gatehouse and two round towers. I put mongonels on those towers, and they did a really good job in helping destroy the Pig's siege equipment. After extending the castle's walls, I began digging a moat around my entire castle. Well, I did not exactly enclose my entire keep with a moat--I deliberately left out the moat on the western side of my castle. (I did this to keep the Pig attacking me full-force.) After some time, I built another two round towers between the ones already on the north side of my castle and placed ballistae in them. I also employed some pitch (because why not?) and a few killing pits. (Also, why is it that the Pig seems to attack with his macemen first and then send in his crossbowmen? Or was I killing the enemy crossbowmen too quickly?)

 

Destroying the three Pigs was fairly easy but time-consuming. I amassed a huge army of pikemen and crossbowmen and sent them to the first Pig's castle (from the west). I got as far as breaching the walls before all my troops died. (Apparently, macemen are highly effective against pikemen; the pikemen died very quickly when I tried to send them in.) Thus, I decided to buy more crossbowmen and simply starve the Pig by sending a huge mass of them outside of his primary defenses. When I decided that the Pig was weak enough, I sent my troops closer and eventually stormed the keep when the coast was clear. I used basically the same strategy with the second Pig. For the third Pig, rather than waiting (he had over 30k gold at one time!), I brought in a siege tower to get on his walls. Alas, most of my crossbowmen died trying to get on the gatehouse, but it did not matter--reinforcements from home were coming. Meanwhile, I had my pikemen guard the gatehouse from being recaptured and sent a small group of them to go destroy the Pig's market and barracks. Once I had done this, most of the Pig's troops had been killed, so I went in for the kill.

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