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Barbarossa 6: The Emperor Sleeping

This scenario is rated to be hard. What do we do in this situation? We pull out our bag of dirty tricks! Of course, all of these tricks are perfectly legal and in no sense program bugs, and they really should be part of every player's arsenal. However, you need to think creatively to come up with them, so they are rarely used. To a certain extent, they could be considered unfair, because the AIs can't use them, or they wouldn't work against a human opponent, but only to a small extent.

Dirty trick 1: Kill sheep that you can't get with military units. This denies the enemy (or ally!) about 85 food each, although the practical amount is quite variable. The AIs don't put a lot of energy into this one, or into protecting against it, but it is definitely a human trick. You won't do this in this scenario.

Dirty trick 2: Wall off ore. The AIs are generally helpless against this one in many situations, but it can be very effective against humans as well, simply because walls, even wooden ones, are so hard to knock down without siege weapons. This is definitely a human trick; the AIs can never do it. You won't really do this in this scenario. Incidentally, you can also wall off relics and other objects. Try putting wooden walls around Towers or around catapults. Go hog wild!

Dirty trick 3: Seal gates with stone. This can be devastating against an AI, because they generally don't have the resources to break through, or at least, you won't do it if they do have the resources. A human, of course, can simply delete an adjacent wall section, but the AI can't. The AIs can't use this trick. You will use this one in this scenario, although it may have no practical effect.

Dirty trick 4: Seal gates with the lock. This is only useful against your allies, and is only meaningful in scenarios like this one, where allies really aren't. The AIs can never use this one, because they aren't devious, but it never applies to them anyway. Humans definitely need to use this to protect against backstabbers. You should definitely use this in this scenario.

Dirty trick 5: Delete walls. The AIs can never do this, although a scenario designer might force it to happen. This is very important in this scenario in the negative sense, because the AIs' inability to do it protects you.

Dirty trick 6: Trebuchet picket. If the enemy is attacking with trebuchets, put some of your own trebuchets in front of everything else as pickets, provided enemy melee units can't get them. The AIs love to go trebuchet on trebuchet. Keep your trebuchets moving! Bear in mind that trebuchet fire has a lot of scatter, and can wipe out any unit with a lucky hit. The objective is to buy you time to deal with the enemy trebuchets.

It turns out that this scenario is actually quite easy. If you look around the map, you see that your enemies have a lot of developed bases, and all you have is a bunch of units, so you think that you might be in trouble. But if you look closely, you see that the main Saracen base and Jerusalem are completely sealed off! A human would simply delete a wall section as appropriate, but the AIs can't do so. (It's possible that a special event happens to open the wall, so stay alert!) Therefore you are really only fighting Damascus and Saladin's north base to start. Later, when you have a humungous force, you will have the situation well under control.

The first 10 minutes of the scenario are really only an accounting problem. You can determine exactly what you want to have, and calculate exactly what you need to procure, and almost everything else follows from that.

It is worth pointing out that the scenario instructions are full of red herrings. The instructions appear to refer primarily to the 10 minute mark. First, you are supposed to use your melee units offensively. This is incorrect. You need to use your pikes for melee point defense, and your cavalry for mobile melee defense. Second, you are supposed to procure a lot of siege weapons, especially battering rams. We won't be getting any rams at all, and we will not have the resources to acquire a lot of siege weapons until much later. Third, elephants are rated as being very powerful. This may be a joke. Elephants are actually incredibly weak, and hardly worth bothering with.

At the start of the scenario, there is a severe resource imbalance. We have immediate access to only 6 gold mines, and 4 stone mines in the remote SW corner. We should eventually be able to acquire a further 8 gold mines on the west side of the map. Damascus has 9 gold mines and 4 stone mines inside their walls, and that's all they will ever get. Saladin gets 9 stone mines and 7 gold mines in their northern base, and 10 stone mines and 13 gold mines in their main base. Despite the fact that we get all we really need, we will be seeking redress immediately. Specifically, we will be taking over Saladin's northern base in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

At the start of the scenario, we have 24 villagers, which is good enough. We have 8 archers, which we will live with, and 12 Pikemen, which are inferior units in general combat, but very useful against the forces that we will be encountering in this scenario, so we will keep them. We have 6 heavy cavalry, and will procure 4 more. We will also build 2 Scout Cavalry. Teutonic light cavalry are very weak, and they are even weaker relative to the enemy units in this scenario, so they need to be used with great care, but they are our only relatively mobile scouts. Until we possess some Saracen scouts, that is! We will fill up our roster with 8 monks, 5 trebuchets, and 5 Bombard Cannons. After that, we will have lots and lots of converted units, but we won't be able to actually keep the converted units until we have all the core units.

We will build one castle, a stable, and a monastery in our initial base. We will build one castle, a Town Center, and a Siege Workshop in our NE base. We will also need a university for Chemistry; this gets put in the NE corner. We will also need a number of support buildings. In particular, we need 10 Houses, 2 mining camps, and a lumber camp. All of these buildings are required to fill up our roster as rapidly as possible, and they will all be built within the first 10 minutes of the scenario. We will also build a lot of (fortified) stone walls in the first 10 minutes. Eventually, we will build or possess other buildings, but they have lower priority. The castles are required as defense bastions, as is the second Town Center. The first castle and the 10 Houses allow us to have 75 units. We can't afford to wait for the second castle. We might be able to shave one House off the list, but that has a very small effect. Two castles and two Town Centers allow us to hide 70 units, which is good enough, because the artillery can't hide anyway. The mining camp in the SW corner is definitely required. We could perhaps get away without the other two ... camps, but, without doing an exact cost-benefit analysis, it looks like they are worth it.

How much is all this going to cost us? The two castles alone cost 1300 stone, which leaves us 200 for walls. That's not really enough, so the second castle is going to have to wait until we get some more stone. Accordingly, stone mining is a priority.

The buildings cost 175 + 200 + 275 + 200 + 200 + 300 + 300 = 1650 wood.

The siege weapons cost 1,000 + 1,125 = 2,125 wood, so we have a deficit of 2,275 wood.

The units cost 300 + 800 + 1,000 + 1,125 + 200 (Chemistry) + 250 (Bombard Cannon) = 3,675 gold, so we have a deficit of 2,675 gold. Incidentally, that's only 3.35 gold mines, so it can be seen that we won't really run out of gold in this scenario.

The units cost 400 + 300 (Chemistry) + 500 (Bombard Cannon) = 1,200 food, and we start with more than this, so we will NOT be collecting food during the first 10 minutes or so of the scenario.

When the scenario starts, we immediately put 4 villagers each on stone, gold, and wood. Each group builds their own support building. Six villagers head off to the NE corner of the map, and the remaining six start building whatever is needed in the NW corner of the map. Bear in mind that you can't produce any new units until you have a bunch of Houses, but really, the build order is not that critical, except that the monks need to be coming out ASAP, because they are slow, and they have a long way to walk. There isn't much space available in your initial base. Line the Houses up in the extreme corner.

We will divide our military units 50-50 for each base, to wit, 4 archers, 6 Pikemen, 3 Paladins, 2 knights, one scout, and 4 monks head to the NE base, exploring as they go and when they get there. Note that your new-production heavy cavalry will be less capable than the initial units for quite some time. All remaining initial military units explore down the west side of the map. By the time that any new units are available, there will be nothing left to explore.

As you explore, you find 2 sheep in the west, and 3 in the NE part of the map. You also find a relic in the NE. Pay attention to what your "allies" explore. You should be able to claim the sheep in the NE, but you won't get that relic until you pry it from someone's cold, dead hands. You should claim the relic near your starting location with your first monk. There are 6 sheep in the SW area of the map, one of which has already been claimed by Saladin. No matter. These are all your sheep, all you have to do is collect them. To extract them from that area, you may have to march them the long way round along the west map edge. When all is said and done, you will have 21 sheep in the NW base, and 3 in the NE base for 2,040 food. I hope you like mutton.

When you approach the SW stone mine, Richard the Lionheart's forces become active and attack the enemy suicidally. You have no realistic way of preventing this. They will all be dead soon, with the exception of a few buildings. They do give a fairly good account of themselves.

You need to expect that you will come under heavy assault quite soon after the 10 minute mark. Accordingly, your NW base needs to be as far away from the enemy bases as possible, which means quite small, and the lack of stone indicates this as well. It also needs to be built according to Maze Complex principles. In particular, the wall needs to have a hole, so the enemy will try to get in there. Make them walk past your Town Center and castle, laughing all the way, as you pick them off one by one.

We need to use a different approach with the NE base. Here, you need a simple continuous wall, to deny the rare resources to the enemy as much as you can. You have a lot of space available here, which means a lot of reaction time if your initial wall is breached. Keep your buildings out of trebuchet range from Saladin's main base. The Town Center gets built first, then the production buildings and the wall. As more stone becomes available, you build a second castle. We will use this castle to break Saladin's northern base. It gets placed as far forward as possible, subject to the constraint that enemy trebuchets attacking your castle must be outside the range of their own castle. As it works out, your Town Center and archers, and a few other units, will sanitize the first wall compartment, where they only have to deal with some enemy archers and villagers. Your castle, Pikemen, and Paladins occupy a second wall compartment, from which your trebuchets can reach the enemy monastery. This base is somewhat at risk from enemy long range artillery, so we will use a dirty trick to make us feel better. You can't avoid Saladin's forces; in fact, by building your base right inside their base, you have chosen to go mano a mano with them right away. However, Saladin doesn't really have much in their northern base, relatively speaking, so they should not worry you. But we do want to keep Damascus off our backs for now, so we will seal the one and only entry point to this area with a stone wall. In fact, seal it with a double layer of wall. (The only reason this could be called a dirty trick is that the entry point used to be a gate in the enemy wall.)

We are not going to defend the stone mine in the SW in any way.

By the time the scenario is 10 minutes old, all of your units will have accomplished all of their assigned tasks. Everybody will be back in their bases, and the decks will be clear for action. Your roster will be complete, except that you will only have a couple of trebuchets. Priority for the trebuchets is the NE, because you are attacking there. You should have one trebuchet in the NW as a picket.

Consider making a map on paper, because when your "allies" turn against you, you don't even get a last-known record of their areas.

About this time, put some of the villagers that have been building things on food collection.

When the fighting starts, you clear out the area in the far NE in short order. Your castle in the NE comes under heavy attack from Saracen cavalry, monks, and castle units. For some reason, they don't like having your castle in their city. Actually, although Saladin sends every unit he can muster, those attacks are uncoordinated and pretty weak, because he just can't muster a lot of units in that region. It is pretty easy to crush Saladin's northern base, and most of the gold and stone over there is now yours. Incidentally, you could have chosen to attack prior to the 10 minute mark, but that would have been pretty foolish.

Damascus also wants a piece of you, and they send coordinated waves of elephants and trebuchets. Perhaps due to you blocking access to the NE corner, but perhaps just because they want to, all Damascus' attacks target your NW base. They head for the hole in your wall, and as they go wandering past your line of monks waiting behind the wall, who patiently explain the virtues of Christendom, they decide to serve Our Lord Jesus Christ. But what about the trebuchets, you say? Well, your cavalry needs something to do, doesn't it? After each of these attack waves, you have a larger number of fully upgraded war elephants waiting to welcome the next wave.

Depending on how much artillery you managed to produce before you had to start possessing enemy units, you can either disband the elephants and get more artillery, or go on with what you have. You should have at least 3 trebuchets and 2 Bombard Cannons in your roster.

Once you have dealt with Saladin's northern base, you turn your loving attention to Damascus. You start by denying them access to the two gold piles outside their base, which they will be starting to try to use about this time. You also start to move artillery to the edge of the plateau north of their base. This will precipitate artillery duels. Do not fight trebuchet on trebuchet! No matter how lucky you are, you lose a lot of trebuchets that way. Use your Bombard Cannons to blow away any enemy trebuchets that deploy to shoot at you in this area. But watch out for the smaller catapults! Bombard Cannons can blow these away as well, but it is much harder and riskier, and involves calculating velocities and "attack ground" orders.

Damascus does not stop attacking your NW base, and your vehicle park of slightly used elephants just keeps getting larger. When you have about 40 or so, it is time to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs. You should have knocked a hole in Damascus' wall by now, probably the north gate. Damascus does not replace it. Take, say, 20 elephants, and 5 Paladins, and send them all into Damascus' base at the same time. This may sound like a lot, and it is enough to cripple Damascus if properly employed, but it is by no means an overwhelming force. It is the way that you are going to use it that makes it so powerful.

Allocate teams of 5 elephants to important buildings as you locate them. Production buildings are the primary target. Resource collection buildings, the Town Center, and villagers are also targets. Do not engage the swarm of enemy military units in combat, unless the combat is very much in your favor. You should fight one elephant vs. one Paladin, and you have to destroy any catapults you see, but each time an enemy elephant attacks you, you have to lure it away. Run away with your wounded elephants as well, not that elephants ever run, but the pursuers move just as slowly as you. Head for your NE base, where your 4 monks await to possess them. Park your old and new elephants over there somewhere while they wait to get healed. It takes a long time to heal one Elite War Elephant, and you will need to heal many of them. By the time you have destroyed both stables and Siege Workshops and the other buildings mentioned, your force will be exhausted, but it is being rebuilt to the NE, and then some. Ignore the barracks, because Damascus doesn't produce anything there. There's nothing you can do about the castle at this point in time. Avoid the southern wall; there's bad news over there.

Eventually Damascus is crippled. But they are not down for the count, not by any means! They will have been rebuilding like mad all over the map, and you now have to hunt down and kill them all over again. This is relatively hard, because the Teutons do not have any combat-capable scouts. Take another assault force of 20 elephants, and repeat the process described above. This time, your wounded elephants head for your NW base.

Normally, you would just build a castle in the enemy's assembly area to administer the coup de grace, but you can't really afford it in this scenario. So you have to bite the bullet and hunt them down one by one.

When the flood of enemy units gets a lot smaller, wipe out their castle. Only your Bombard Cannons can do this with any measure of safety, and you only have a few of them, because you were well over the population limit before you could afford a lot of them. Now, hopefully they can't rebuild their castle, or at least not for a while. After the castle is destroyed, and with no more enemy melee troops in sight, your monks can come out to play. You will probably find some enemy trebuchets just standing around. Definitely possess as many of them as you can instead of just killing them. You probably haven't used your trebuchets much yet, because there is so much enemy cavalry running around, and Teutons can't really kill cavalry quickly, but you want to have as many of them available as possible.

If Damascus has no units and production buildings and Market left, they will surrender. But you may want to keep some of them alive for now. In any case, when you have knocked them out, completely or effectively, it is time to reorganize. You will have wounded elephants (maybe as many as 60) standing around everywhere, and it will take a long time to heal them. Start scouting Saladin's wall. Deal with any orphan Towers that still remain. Now the hard part of the scenario starts. (Not really.) You should have about 150 units by now.

You will find that Saladin has a lot of archers waiting for you. If you check your paper map (you did make a map, didn't you?), you see that Saladin could build archers, siege weapons, and castle units in their main base. In scenarios, the AI is often prohibited from building new types of buildings. Assuming that that is the case here, it means ... drum roll ... no monks. No Pikemen either, which will become significant if they run out of gold. Right now, they are strong against cavalry, siege weapons, and static defenses, and weak against monks.

There are two main approaches to dealing with Saladin. One is to build a new Wall Maze Complex, breach the enemy wall, and let the attacking enemy troops die in the maze. You may or may not have enough stone to make this work. The other is to pick the enemy units off from behind their wall with your monks and artillery. Without monks, they have no effective counter to your monks and Bombard Cannons. We will start with the second approach while building up a Maze, and see how the situation develops. You might be able to recruit an entirely new army inside their wall without ever crossing it.

It turns out that Saladin does not take too kindly to the notion of you building up an army inside his city. He does what he can to stop you, but alas, it is not enough. A sort of deadlock develops, where you have a few units in his city, then they get wiped out, then you get a few more, and so on. In the meantime, your Maze approaches his city. Soon you are ready to create the first breach in the wall. The most effective location is probably in the middle, where Damascus used to be.

With the wall breached, you can now extract the units you recruit, and your force starts to grow again. Seal the breach with a gate and keep recruiting. It won't be long before you are ready to put in your first major raid. Use about 20 Elite War Elephants, 10 Paladins, half a dozen each Elite Mamelukes and Heavy Cavalry Archers, and monks and other supporting units, and have a reserve force ready. The elephants go in first. Elephants are really only vulnerable to three types of opposition. Monks, of course, but you haven't seen any yet in this part of the scenario. Anti-cavalry units, in this case Mamelukes, so use your Mamelukes to slaughter enemy Mamelukes the instant they appear. Mamelukes are vulnerable to archers, so use your heavy cavalry to ride down enemy archers. And stay away from the castle. Destroy Saladin's production buildings with the utmost prejudice. Depending on whether Saladin produces trebuchets or Mamelukes at his castle, you should try to get your trebuchets into action. If not, you will have to use elephants. Your combat engineers are right behind the troops, extending your Maze Complex.

It turns out that Saladin does have monks in this area, which makes your life more difficult, but you have a lot of fast heavy hitters, so enemy monks won't last long. The main thing is for any unit targeted by an enemy monk to immediately flee at top speed, while the anti-monk reaction force swoops in and kills him, with one shot if possible, before he switches targets.

Saladin keeps pumping out new units, and your monks are healing damage. This keeps them too busy to recruit, and anyway, you can't really recruit during intense combat. Accordingly, your attack force can only grow if you throw in reserve troops; otherwise it will get weaker because you can't heal the damage fast enough. Therefore, if you can destroy Saladin's forces faster than he can rebuild them, you will just win this engagement and occupy his land, but if not, you will have to withdraw from the raid when your damage gets too severe. If you don't win the first engagement, then at least you will have advanced your Maze and hurt Saladin's economy.

When the enemy Town Center goes down, be ready to massacre all their villagers. Depending on how fast you move and on how dispersed they are, you may be able to get them all right away, otherwise they will rebuild. You can use the "Spies" feature to determine how many enemy villagers exist. You can hunt down enemy villagers a lot more effectively now than when you were attacking Damascus, primarily because you now have a lot of ex-Saracen cavalry. Finish clearing out the east part of Saladin's main base, heal your wounded elephants (or bring in fresh ones), and turn west. (Actually, the road to Jerusalem is now open; you don't need to crush Saladin completely. In fact, if they do manage to rebuild in the west, then it's probably not worth the bother to finish them off.)

As you approach Saladin's castle, you find that it is heavily supported by a mobile force of heavy artillery and anti-cavalry units, with lots of resources available to keep replacing losses. This is a tough nut to crack. Any frontal assault, no matter how strong, will incur heavy casualties. So what can you do?

You will have seen by now that Jerusalem has no gates in the north. You can attack them from that direction with little fear of retaliation, and you should take out their Towers to secure your flank and give you some more maneuvering space. You should note that Jerusalem's score is so low that they can't really have a field force, and they definitely don't have an economy.

Creep your Maze as close to the castle as possible. You want to be able to set up trebuchets to attack the castle, but protected from melee troops by a wall. Enemy trebuchets should probably knock this wall down, and they could do so with ease, but they probably won't. So you start employing counter-battery tactics. You deploy a trebuchet to take one shot at the castle. Then you immediately start packing it. An enemy trebuchet will deploy to shoot at your trebuchet, but your trebuchet will be able to flee in time. At the same time, your Bombard Cannon shoots at the enemy trebuchet. You also might be able to attack the castle directly with a Bombard Cannon. It takes a long time to knock down a castle with one Bombard Cannon, but enemy heavy artillery will not respond, although all other arms will.

While you are attacking Saladin's castle, you will have to fight off a steady stream of enemy melee units. Eventually, their reserve is gone, and they come at you only one at a time. You might want to build a Town Center nearby to help you out, but not a castle. While the Town Center is not as strong, it is effectively free, and, even if you can protect your castle for a while, you may run out of stone to repair it.

With Saladin out of the way, you can approach Jerusalem. They have only one gate. Replace it with one of your own. Take out all defensive structures that you can reach from outside the wall. This proceeds quite rapidly, because you are now employing your heavy artillery in force. Jerusalem only has three monks, and they will try to convert your trebuchets, but they fixate on the trebuchets, and they have to walk all the way over to stand next to them, which means they won't make it.

Take out all of Jerusalem's production buildings. It turns out that this is unnecessary, because Jerusalem is unable to produce new units, but you don't know that a priori. Walk into the city, taking down all necessary buildings as you do so. This is really anticlimactic, because Jerusalem does not resist. And then drive Barbarossa's remains to his final resting place.