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32 - The Plains of Atum

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Mission 32 - The Plains of Atum

In Skirmish 32, it is you against 5 computer lords. You begin with 2000 gold, and they each get 8000. I tried several different strategies before finding one that brought success in 24 game years.

Here is what did not work:

  • Quickly building up an army to attack the nearest lord before he had a chance to build his castle - even spending all my gold on knights or macemen (and in one trial selling the given stone to purchase more), I just didn't have enough troops to combat even the smallest enemy. The enemies quickly build up a roughly equal number of knights, and given that the Crusader lords can take down a dozen knights all by themselves... it just didn't work.
  • Enclosing my keep right away. As all of the enemy lords continually attack during the mission, I tried this in many different ways, from a small walled-in area right around the keep, to a larger area, encompassing the quarry and field areas. It was always a balance between buying stone or troops, and the result was always an unhappy populace, a near-empty granary, and little gold. The furthest I got with this method was 14 game years, and in all that time I had only managed to defeat the one weakest enemy.

Thinking that there must be a better way, I decided to try a new strategy, and here is what worked:

I slowed the game speed down to 20 for almost the entire game. In the beginning I quickly placed 3 quarries (all that I could afford and still cover the stone so that there wouldn't be room for enemy quarry placement), two wheat farms, a marketplace, and three woodcutters. I don't remember exactly at what point I ran out of wood, but I bought more to also build a mercenary post, 5 ale, an inn, and a bakery.

Next I placed three look-out towers (with braziers) in a triangle around the quarry area, and armed them each with 4 Arabian archers. This alone significantly cut down on the number and frequency of enemy attacks!

As stone began to roll in, I placed two more look-out towers on the other side of the keep. I also added a hops farm, brewery, and more bakeries. I began bow, crossbow, and spear production. I had so much stone that I decided to wall in my keep, starting with the side facing the purple lord (top right in the minimap), then the area around the quarries. Soon the keep was enclosed. I added crenellated walls, and lined them with archers and a few slingers.

Now the stone production was largely a money making device. I added iron mines, and sent spearmen out to smash all enemy woodcutters that were close to my walls. I began mace production (but purchased leather armor as I didn't yet have a dairy farm). I built an engineers' guild, and made trebuchets.

By year 7 my army consisted of 26 archers, 18 spearmen, 18 macemen, 16 crossbowmen, 8 engineers, 4 trebuchets, 27 Arabian archers, 16 slingers, and 21 Arabian knights. I set the trebuchets to knock down the walls of my nearest neighbour, Sultun Abdul (the orange lord). Once down, I marched the spearmen, macemen and knights into his keep and dispatched him in July of year 8.

I thought to bring my troops home to regroup, then noticed that Sultan Ahmed (the yellow lord) had suffered from his own series of attacks to the point where he had zero troops left. As his walls were already down, I marched my remaining troops over and put him out of his misery in October of year 8.

I took advantage of the additional farmland by placing more farms, including dairy farms so that I wouldn't have to keep buying leather armor.

I built up my forces to about double their previous attack strength. To wear down Caliph "The Jackal" (the purple lord) I built a round tower in the corner that was closest to him, and manned it with ballista. As the ballista (and pre-existing archers) wore down any of his people who set foot outside his gates, I set six trebuchets to take down the towers. It is very important to take down the towers, or your attacking forces will all be set on fire. Once the towers were down, I marched my spearmen, macemen, and Arabian knights on the Caliph, and he was defeated in May of year 11.

I added more woodcutters to raise gold, as well as additional farms. The next few years I again built up my forces, using the same basic strategy of trebuchets to take down the towers and gatehouses of the next enemy, Caliph "The Scorpion".

Around this time I also built two additional round towers, also manning them with ballista. These were on the marsh side of the map, and helped to cut down advancing enemy forces. Unlike my previous attempts at this mission, the enemy attacks in this one were not very bad. My castle was highly defended with archers, and with the addition of several ballista, I only had to rebuild one small part of the wall once after an attack.

Caliph "The Scorpion" (the gray lord) was defeated in November of year 14.

The final enemy, Saladin "The Wise" (the blue lord) was a lot stronger than the others. As I built up my army to include about 150 macemen and 150 Arabian knights, I used several strategies to wear down his economy and forces. I set a few trebuchets close enough to fling cows at his forces, which were often kept in groups outside his castle walls. I sent slaves to burn his farms and industries, and also sent spearmen to knock down his quarries.

The strange thing about Saladin is that his keep was never enclosed - it is open at the back. This means that you can enter without knocking anything down, but you have to be able to get past his round towers. When my forces were built up enough (to about 400 total), I set about 8 trebuchets to attack his towers, then marched them in. 400 troops was probably overkill, as I ended up with about 200 extra, but I had made several previous attacks with lesser forces, and they were unsuccessful. Saladin fell in February of year 24.

I really disliked this mission on my first (and numerous) attempts, as it was a constant scrounge to get money, raise forces, and try to keep the people happy and fed while facing continual attacks and fires from the enemies.

With the final strategy, however, it became a fun mission. I rose to the position of top lord for much of the game and popularity rarely dropped below 100. The stockpile was always full, with hops, wood and stone, and I had so much ale on hand that I built a second inn and still ended up having to sell a lot. I kept taxes at 6 for most of the game, and had an abundance of gold.

Good luck on your own way through this mission!

AuthorComments & Reviews   ( All | Comments Only | Reviews Only )
JustCraig The tough part of this mission is staying alive until you are able to build up any offensive force. A couple of things I found to be key. Site the normal granary, market, two orchards, 3 woodcutters, barracks and armory. Forget about the
mercenary tent for the time being.

Get ahold of the Stone deposit due south. Destroy anyone elses Mine who is mining stone. (use your 3 poleturners). Put up a defensive tower with 5 crossbow men to guard it. Due this as fast as possible. PUt up two more defensive towers, one east and one west of your keep, with 5 crossbow men each. Obviously your gonna have to buy these. This tower
setup will keep you alive while you mine stone for your main
source of income. Your secondary source should be iron, which is to the west of your starting position. When you get the wood, put as many iron mines as possible. The retards on that side of the map won't bother your mining op. Add towers
and crossbow men as soon as feasible. 5 or 6 towers on the south side should hold you throughout the game, and repel all of the Black players advances throughout the game. Simply refresh your crossbowmen from time to time. There really isn't much of a need for walls. If you do put em up, anymore than 1 layer is overkill.

Once I built up a nice looking force, I attacked the two weiners two the west, then the one to the east. both were fairly simple to defeat. The enemy to the east with all the towers looks like a badazz, but his bark is worse than his bite. Attack the one t0 the southeast last(black), because he helps keep the big boy waaay south at bay somewhat, and he will burn his mining operations while you attack.

Soften up big blue quite a bit with Trebuchets, (get as close as you can on his west side, west of the swamp), and toss lots of cows his way to soften him up. He has tons of money and stone, so bash him long and hard from that spot. (make sure you have a couple trebs way back to consistantly
destroy his round tower) As soon as you put foot into the swamp, he gets nasty, and your slow moving troops are sitting ducks. It will take several waves with lots of troops to defeat him.

The Black army can be defeated in the standard fasion (siege equipment, then a bunch of macemen, swordsmen, pikemen with crossbow men giving cover) Starting from the mining area to his west. That way you wont get cornholed while crossing the swamp to his north. Took me 28 years to get through. Probably take you only 20, cuz I like to watch battles, take my time. Good luck.
crusadermacenite I have a question with your archers at the quarries. What's stopping enemies from killing the lord?
Ancile Here are a few general points:

Reposition your original stockpile nearer to the stone deposits. A wheat farm and a hops farm lying almost adjacent to your stockpile will support you in the opening stage of the game make a second wheat farm later). Place 4 woodcutters' huts in batches of two--one west, the other east. The granary should be positioned about 12 tiles north of the recited stockiplie. Lay down a market, armory, and a hovel. A single quarry with 3 ox tethers in your opening is crucial.

Later put a mill, 3 bakeries, and a brewery (triple the numbers of bakeries and breweries as hops and flour build up). Continuously place quarries as wood permits.

When granary stocks run low, purchase 5 of each food type and cut to 'half rations,' which will make your popularity suffer by 1 point monthly. Boo-hoo.

Make a tall wall around the sides of campfire facing the Sultan to allow labor replenishment and unharmed troop recruitment.

Within about a minute into the game, make a square tower with 20 archers and 5 crossbowmen near the patch of timber to the east. This basically can cover your entire little camp and ensure that your quarries are unharmed. Put your lord in that tower, delete some stairs, set your troops on 'Aggressive stance' and--voila! You can forget about your lord being in danger for the remainder of the game. Wall in thinly, fortify the southern front with 4 lookout towers filled with crossbowmen and Arabian archers, and watch Saladin's attacks wither by the score. Post your spearmen in unshielded areas.

Get 10 archers and 5 or so crossbowmen (start weapon production) atop a defense turret facing the Sultan to stop worrying about him. Make a square tower with a minimal Arabian bow- and crossbowman garrison in the direction of the purple Caliph, along with a Mangonel that should continuously pound his walls, which would basically keep him dormat military-wise.

To finish up, get a tremendous ale coverage, a positive fear factor, switch rations to -8, tax your peasants, mine iron, replace any severely damaged troops with fresh ones after every attack (if you're as careful to prevent losses as I am) get pitch, sell all surpluses, and attack. A tip: don't attack Saladin last. His castle may look daunting, but if you can crack it (well, it's really already cracked because of the hole in the back), the reward is tremendous. I used 50 crossbowmen, 200 Horse Archers (in 2 equal groups), and 25 Macemen as a reserve, all hotkeyed. I ended up with 40 Horse Archer casualties, most of them due to the remaining black Caliph's devilish attack with bowmen, fire ballistae, and swordsmen from behind while I was busy turning Saladin into a pincushion.

[Edited on 06/19/06 @ 01:43 PM]

mavengloiven Not an easy level - at least it was hard getting a foothold, and some of the attacks were tough to defend against. Let me just add a few bits of information I gathered while completing it.

First, the big trouble is getting started, obviously. You must defend yourself from attacks from all 5 enemies at first, simply because you are the weakest link. I found that at first a few lookout towers with archers and some well-placed fire ballista will do the trick. Without the fire ballista, you're toast, since you'll get hit with arabic swordsmen early in the game - sometimes 10 of them at once. Swordsmen can't kill them before they get to your mines, quarries and, gulp... your keep.

Second, yeah--if you can control the stone in front of your castle, you can make it. I lost a couple of quarries to invading slave armies at the start - but don't get discouraged... keep going & rebuild... eventually you'll build up enough of a defense to protect them for good. Make sure you keep up with your wood production, since it does get scarce during the game, and you want to keep cranking out those bowmen.

Hmmm... you'll have some trouble from invading (black) caliph across the giant pitchfield (from the east/north)- he'll have some fire ballista that will take out your crops on the eastern side... I stopped that by building a bunch of walls and towers to prevent his arrows from reaching my farms. This also was a good strategy for protecting my iron mines later in the game, too. In fact, once I got the stone money rolling, I completely enclosed my castle with walls and round towers with ballista.

You'll take out the two sultans easily, once you get your army going and can produce some units with armor. Next, the purple caliph will likewise fall without too much trouble, especially since you are close enough to pummel him with mangonels and trebuchets from inside your castle grounds.

The other guys are much tougher - I chose to go after the much more powerful Saladin first. I built up a huge row of round towers (probaly 10 total) with ballista on them as far west/north as I could to reach the spot where Saladin (blue) gathered his army. By the time all his 1 million arabic swordsmen got in place for the assault, I had already picked off all his horse archers, archers and engineers. ("It's a rout!") I also sent about 100 archers (some crossbowmen and some horse) over to the western corner up near his castle (blue), and then I started making a BUNCH of fire ballista - maybe 15. I also put in some trebuchet, since they have a bigger range than catapults. I bombed out his close tower (the one with the mangonel), and took out all his archers and fire throwers from his southern/western walls. I sent a group of about 30 knights around to destroy all his buildings along the back of his castle, and I used that huge group of fire ballista on the western side to take out all his farms below his castle - and I rebuilt my farms whenever his went down. This totally crippled his economy, as he doesn't have that much green grass to work with over on his side. I had a nice army of about 50 macemen and 100 swordsmen, so once I had a clearing I sent about 50 horse archers right up to where his tiny moat was on the southern/western end of his castle--for cover, right near the gatehouse, and they cleared out more archers, etc. I then sent in 10 macemen to fill in the moat, then I made a few more macemen, sent in about 50 to crunch the gatehouse, and then sent them in to kill his lord, which they did easily - I didn't even use my swordsmen.

The 100 swordsmen were saved for the black caliph - which wasn't too hard since he had been weakened in his skirmishes with Saladin.

I pulled off my second-highest score on this one, which isn't saying much since I tend to not take risks and only attack after I've built up massive armies. I'm sure some of you folks are much better at scoring big.

Really fun level - long, challenging, and the immense seas of pitch made it unique and different.
TheFrank I found this level long but rather easy. The key is to IMMEDIATELY put up a marketplace, BUY A LOT OF STONE, and enclose the southern quarries before your enemy can do anything. Then enclose your keep, put up towers, man them (crossbowmen mostly, but a mix with archers for long-distance enemies are good too). Put up ballistas and fire ballistas in all corners. You should have 4 stone quarries to keep up with your castle defense. In fact my towers were so full I had to constantly be on 'flat' mode to prevent slowdown.

Take out the Sultans first with trebuchets or catapults. Twenty catapults can decimate him pretty quickly. It's fun to watch too. Cleared their castles with 100 horse archers, killed them with 30 macemen. Similar tactic with the Caliphs, BUT remember he likes to burn things, so I sent the horse archers to run around his castle first setting up his pitch ditches.

Saladin is the hard part. I put him for last. I had an entire army surrounding his castle, for the purpose of supporting the catapults when I send them in (he sends so many archers it's not funny). Mostly I had the original group of horse archers, a lot of bowmen, and a lot of crossbowmen. I might have saved some trouble by using trebuchets but it's fun watching the catapults. :p 20 catapults again, used them to take out his towers. He'll build them fast enough. I did it again. And again. Just to annoy him.

Now while I was doing this I was readying a few more crossbowmen and bowmen, which I sent to his quarries to decrease his production. MAKE SURE there's enough of them to defend themselves, because Saladin WILL send a LOT of men to take care of them.

Eventually he'll grow poorer, stop sending men in, and when he's really weak go finish him off whichever way you like to do it.
Birowizard Another walkthrough that's bang on target - as you'd expect from Kester. I let my own scenario drag on somewhat, but basically stuck to Kester's initial set-up. I built up a large fortification on the land to the west of my keep, facing the 2 Sultans, since that seemed to be where they and Saladin seemed to prefer to attack from.
I had already put up towers around the quarry area, and had managed to wall it in completely. Early on, this had to be continually repaired, since Saladin does so like to send catapults out to play. However a line of defensive towers with ballistas, archers and crossbowmen does work well enough to stop most of the attacks, if you keep an eye on running repairs. (Restocking the towers with men is also necessary from time to time). I found I was able, as Kester suggested, to keep the Caliphs' attacks down just by having one or two towers lines with a good mix of archers/crossbowmen, in line with their castles. A mix is vital; while the crossbowmen are more accurate, they have less range, can't relode as fast and cannot use the braziers - the archers have better range and can fire more rapidly with fire arrows. The crossbowmen have the advantage of accuracy and that they do more damage when they hit an armoured enemy unit though.
My traditional overkill came in to play, and I maintained a large patrolling force (about 65) of horse archers on my side of the land, to the west of my keep, once the Sultans had been dispatched. These were for occasional forrays against Saladin's forces, and also to keep his own attempts at invasion down. It worked well, as long as the horsemen were kept on "Stand Ground" while patrolling, and not agressive; otherwise they went on suicide missions right up to his keep!
My order of attack was; nearest Sultan, Furthest Sultan, Purple Caliph, Saladin, Grey/Black Caliph. (I went after Saladin after he'd sent out a huge army and had little or no gold left to replenish it with; having destroyed everything he sent I shot all his remaining archers with my horse archers on patrol outside his keep, then finished him off with macemen and pikemen). The grey Caliph towards the end was all but house bound; he had no gold, no means of getting it back - since I'd left horse archers patrolling around his farmland out of reach of his defenses - and very few troops. I sent the remains of my horse archers, pikemen & macemen from Saladin's defeat in for the kill. I'd managed to get very healthy stone supplies rolling in, huge amounts of food production thanks to mean things, (so much so that even on double rations I was having to sell it off throughout!).

very gratifying to win if a little troublesome to start with.

Cheers! Birowizard
jlager1 Here's how i defeated saladin:
He had about 100.000 gold i tried several times to lay siege to his castle he built up forces too fast for me. So i sent 50 horse archers to his iron and stone producers. I didn't destroy them just staying there made him send out troop after troop (to ``guard´´ his iron and stone depsoits). In about twnty minutes he were completely out of gold. Then i sended 200 horse archers to destroy his garrison. It went fairly easy. Then i sent 60 assasins to kill the lord.

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