Barbarossa 2: Henry the Lion
Note: there are some major surprises in this scenario. If you play this scenario knowing what will happen, you will not get an authentic experience. Try not to read the spoilers.
This is an extremely unusual scenario for a number of reasons. Most importantly, although you do have an economy, you are restricted as to what units and technologies you can have. In particular, you cannot ever have villagers, so you can't do anything villagers are needed for. The primary functions of villagers are to develop a controlled economy, to build static defenses, to build structures offensively, to repair structures, ships, and siege equipment, and to reshape the terrain. You can do none of these things here (your economy is not subject to much control). Secondly, you cannot ever have monks. Therefore, you cannot convert enemy units, and healing your own units will be problematic. Cavalry can only be healed inside castles (there are two in your home area), and infantry can only be healed inside castles, Town Centers (there are two in your home area), and Towers (there are three in your home area). What this means is that infantry become much more cost-effective than in normal games. Infantry are usually worth very little, because they die so quickly that their effective cost is much larger than the purchase cost, while cavalry generally never die, so their effective cost is equal to the purchase cost. But this calculation assumes that healing is readily available, and is not valid in this scenario. Thirdly, you are restricted to the Castle Age, so your most advanced units are unavailable. The biggest problem in that regard will be the lack of long range artillery.
A number of things follow directly from the above points. Loss of any of your buildings is very bad or disastrous. You must protect your buildings AT ALL COSTS, and the same holds true for Henry the Lion's buildings. Damage to your economy is very bad, so protect your economic bases! They can rebuild to a certain extent, and they may even be able to grow, but your income is only their surplus, so make sure that they have a big surplus. Of course, you and Henry can never build walls, so you could be attacked at any point, and there does not appear to be any stone on the map, so your other allies may never be able to build walls, either. In some sense, this is fair, because Poland also cannot build walls. You can never have more than 50 military units, and the same holds true for Henry the Lion. However, this should not be a major problem, because you hardly ever have that many military units in a standard game.
So what can you do? You can build fishing boats and bring in food through your dock. You could also bring in gold through your dock, but that would require some level of cooperation fom Poland, and is not recommended. As the scenario starts, you realize that your allies will have Markets, so you will be able to build Trade Carts and bring in gold. You could do Market manipulations, but this is not recommended due to the inefficiency, except in an emergency. After you have scouted the map a bit, you realize that stone exists, and your allies mine it, so they may build walls. You have Cartography, so you see what your allies see.
What are your weakest points? First of all, the Outposts. They go down real quick if they are attacked, and they are in exposed locations. In fact, they are indefensible against any serious attack. The best you can really do is station some units nearby to lure away attacking units. This might work for a while, but try to keep the Outposts alive as long as possible. Second, your dock, which is your only direct source of food. To defend it, you will need a substantial fleet.
With your initial allocation of resources, produce four scouts, two Teutonic Knights, and several Galleys. Research Bodkin Arrow and Ballistics. You find out in short order that Poland has War Galleys, so research that as soon as you have several Galleys. After that, build up your fleet to five War Galleys. When your allies' Markets are finished, build a couple of Trade Carts. Trading is not as efficient as mining, but you don't know how much gold you will be getting from your allies, so trading is advisable. Of course, if your Trade Carts die, your trading efficiency goes way down, so keep them alive. The Bavarian trade route seems safer than the nothern one, depending, of course, on what Poland does. (The Bavarian market is rated to provide 100 gold per trip, but only provides 30.) This leaves you 50 wood, 80 food, and 295 gold, which is enough to build an emergency reserve of one knight and one cavalry archer, for example, with a bit left over, but don't build those units yet.
Scout aggressively! But be careful. Not only is it hard to heal units in this scenario, but if you run up to an enemy castle, it can kill your scout in the blink of an eye. Poland does not have Ballistics, and cannot get it; use this fact to your advantage. Do not scout with your ships. Their entire mission at this point is to defend your dock, and you do not want to attract unnecessary attention. Send a garrison force to each of your allies. Four Pikemen, two Teutonic Knights, three Crossbowmen, and a knight each seems like a reasonable force. Kill the six Dire Wolves on your home continent, because you don't want them hurting your allies. Use all your archers and a couple of melee units; this way, you shouldn't take any damage. (These wolves are not very dire; they die almost as soon as you sneeze at them. Maybe they are die-er wolves.) As soon as you can reasonably do so, send a "garrison" of one knight to each of your Outposts. The total force listed in this paragraph is larger than what you start with or can build quickly, but do the best you can. This leaves you a home guard of only two Pikemen, plus new production, but it is essential to keep the enemy away from your buildings.
When you have scouted as much of the map as you safely can, you will have found:
- On the SW "home" continent, one Polish castle and two Watch Towers.
- In the NW corner, five Towers, a Siege Workshop, and two Houses.
- In the east, one Polish castle, three Towers, a Siege Workshop, and two Houses.
- In the middle-north, one Polish castle, three Towers, a (second) dock, and a House.
This gives the Poles a maximum population of 85 military units, which is much larger than their practical population, so attacking their Houses is a waste of time. Attacking their Siege Workshops is definitely a good idea, because you can fairly easily knock out their production of heavy equipment. After that, it should be fairly easy to deal with the Huskarls, which is all the Poles can keep producing. The Poles will eventually run out of resources, but you have no idea how long that will take. In case it isn't completely obvious, they have no means of generating income. The Poles are restricted to Castle Age units.
Based on what the Poles have, most of your initial force, Pikemen and archers, is nearly useless. You will need good melee units. Do not hesitate to pay off the ineffective units if you are population-limited. Note that Town Centers and even castles are relatively weak against Huskarls. Teutonic Knights are excellent point-defense melee units, but don't ask them to go on extended journeys.
Be advised that the Poles will attack you in force regardless of what you do. As soon as you see their first scout (if you see him), you know that their attack waves are not far behind.
There are three major surprises yet to come. The first is that Henry the Lion should back-stab you. This event will trigger once you destroy one of the Polish Castles--although if you do not go for the Castle, it is unknown when this betrayal will trigger. It is recommended that you build knights and rams, attack the nearest Polish castle, and then run back to your base to defend against Henry. Remember that it is intended that the back-stab occur. It is probably intended that it happen while you are heavily engaged with Poland and most or all of your units are away from home, and you appear to be doing well. Thus Henry thinks he can get away with it, and he thinks that he needs to do it. You might have had some clue that Henry is not with the program, based on the scenario introduction and the way his units behave (they just wander around aimlessly at home and never try to hurt Poland). Note: knowing that Henry the Lion will betray you, it is not advised to simply declare him as an enemy in the diplomacy tab and destroy him right away. Build rams and knights, attack Poland, and then run back to your base. Letting Henry attack your base first will allow you to easily kill his units without having to take the offensive yourself.
The second major surprise is that you can get villagers. After all you have gone through, knowing that you couldn't have any, and trying to cope with it! By the time you get them, there won't be any gold or especially stone left for you to mine, but your remaining allies continue to send you tribute, and there is no shortage of wood and therefore food in any case. Having villagers, the scenario becomes much, much easier.
The third major surprise is that it is possible to win the scenario without doing anything at all! It is possible that Poland decides to not produce new units. Then all their initial army dies in front of your castle, Poland surrenders, and the scenario ends without Henry ever attacking you. This needs to be considered a bug rather than a reasonable scenario theme. What also appears quite bizarre is what happens if you do nothing or just build up at home, and Poland pumps out their army. Poland attacks indiscriminately, but appears to target Henry primarily. You are quite safe, except for your Outposts. Bavaria and Saxony are also pretty safe, because they restore damage so quickly, and Poland doesn't really have the force and the commitment to take them out. Henry never can attack Poland! Accordingly, his units just stand around and die, and then he surrenders.
But let's assume that you play the scenario in good faith. Then your army will be on the front line with Poland, and suddenly Henry the Lion attacks. The earlier he attacks, the worse it will be for you, because you will have less resources available. Let's assume that he attacks even before Poland, and before you get your first tribute. It's actually not a major problem. Use your emergency reserve to produce one knight and one cavalry archer. These two units, plus your castle, are all you need to deal with Henry's attacks! Henry's main target is your university. Lure his units to your castle, where they die, and use the knight to kill battering rams. As tribute starts to come in, build some cavalry archers as a first priority. Cavalry archers are very effective against Henry's force.
The main action is against Poland. This scenario is too random to say exactly what will happen and what you should do, but there are good general guidelines.
Kill scouts whenever possible. AI units tasked with scouting do not fight back, and in this scenario, each dead scout is a significant loss.
Poland has three War Galleys to start, and never builds any more. Your fleet of five War Galleys will therefore dominate the seas. All the Polish War Galleys attack with the initial attack wave. By using standard naval tactics, you should be able to destroy these ships while taking very little damage. After that, destroy their northern dock. This dock is undefended. But why bother, when Poland never builds any ships? The main reason is that Poland may actually build ships after their Siege Workshops are destroyed, and in any case, all you reasonably know at any point in time is that Poland hasn't built any new ships YET.
The next priority is to destroy the Polish Siege Workshop in the NW. This Siege Workshop is exposed, although it might be defended with mobile units. Not only will the loss of this irreplaceable building cut the production of Polish siege weapons in half, it will limit the directions from which they attack. At first, you will have very little available for this mission, but do the best you can.
As wood starts to come in, build a Transport Ship even before battering rams. This ship will allow you to rescue trapped wounded units, will dramatically increase the mobility of rams and your force in general, and is the only place where siege equipment can hide.
Eventually, you get enough wood to build one or two battering rams. This is enough to comfortably wipe out Towers one by one. The first target is the Tower that has been grinding away at your university. The next target is the Polish Tower that dominates the NW ford. When that Tower goes down (and after the NW Siege Workshop is gone), you can ignore the entire NW region. Then destroy the Tower that guards the Polish dock in the middle-north, after which the dock dies almost immediately. Once you have absolute control of the seas, when more wood comes in, build some fishing boats to secure a small food income. Finally, build more battering rams until you have five, which is a good number to take out a castle. Of course, while all this is happening, you will need to deal with wave after wave of up to ten units at a time from Henry the Lion and Poland.
When you have five battering rams and some breathing room, destroy Henry's castle. Bring along some archers and melee troops to protect your rams against mobile units. These units could not normally stand around near an enemy castle, but in this situation, the castle fixates on your rams, which are fairly immune to missile weapons but very vulnerable to melee troops. When the castle is gone, Henry is finished. You may need to destroy a few more things to force his surrender, but he won't be able to do anything about it.
And then you go get the villagers that are waiting for you in the SW corner. As soon as you have villagers, the scenario is pretty much over. Your first priority is to build Houses and a monastery, then repair damaged buildings, battering rams, and ships, and maybe build some walls. Build a bunch of Town Centers (cheap mini-castles). Use the monks to heal your combat damage. No more running back to the castle for a long convalescence.
After you have villagers, you completely dominate the game and can win any way you like. You could go Imperial for even greater dominance, but it is not at all necessary.
The scenario ends when all the Polish production buildings are destroyed.
Historical note: Henry the Lion did not break fealty with Barbarossa until years later, relating to an Italian campaign.