The battle of Hattin 1187 AD
||The Conquerors 1.0c
(Ager sanguinis - the Field of Blood)
This campaign consists of one scenario. It includes one .cpx campaign file and many sound files in .mp3 format. Unzip the campaign file and all soundfiles into your Age of Empires II folder. They should go into the right directories. All MP3 files start by string '1187-'; so it is not hard to remove files, if you wish to get rid of them.
X Another approach to fixed force scenario (Increased HP extend the life of the unit and postpone the end of the battle, Extra attack value represents the morale of the troops) Your tactical decisions are even more important than your skill of fighting!
- Comprehensive scenario instructions, hints and objectives
- More than 250 triggers for a single battle
- Plenty of new sounds and music
- 3 different levels of playing (NORMAL, MODERATE, HARD)
- All characters are based on true historical persons
The scenario is based on historical facts, although some events are not 100% historically accutare.
In 1095 AD Pope Urban II called for a crusade to bring the Holy Land under Christian control, declaring, “God wills it!” Four years later the crusaders captured Jerusalem and massacred the inhabitants following a bloody siege. The crusaders carved out several small kingdoms in the Middle East centered on powerful castles and fortified cities.
In 1170 AD a new, powerful leader rose to lead the Muslim counterattack. For a while Saladin, as he was known in the West, maintained an uneasy peace with the crusaders. However a series of provocations by the crusaders broke the truce and finally forced his hand. In 1187 AD Saladin gathered a large army and laid siege to Tiberias. The Crusaders went for the bait and marched to the rescue…
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Mcrnigoj is known for creating rock-solid historical scenarios of the epic variety. This scenario is a recreation of the pivotal clash between Saracens and crusaders in 1187. A disastrous defeat for the crusaders gave rulers in Europe a reason to call for a third crusade. You get a chance to rewrite history, as you play on the side of the Christians.
Playability: In “Hattin 1187”, Mcrnigoj fixed two playability issues that were present in one of his most notable scenarios, Tannenberg 1410. First, the in-game introduction to the battle was informative, but it was only a few minutes long (as opposed to 20 minutes game time). Secondly, although the battle involved nearly 1000 units, there was almost no lag on my machine. The author did some clever things with AI and enemy troop maneuvers. If the scenario plays well on my machine, it will be smooth as butter on almost all others. ;)
Balance: In my experiences with this scenario, the balance was the epitome of perfect. I had to reload twice before I got comfortable with my surroundings and could plan some tactics. When I won, I was down to a handful of soldiers in smoldering ruins. Admittedly it was on standard, but now I can use the tactics I developed on standard to face a greater challenge on moderate on hard. That’s the kind of balance designers should try to offer players.
Creativity: This scenario had a significant amount of creativity. The author implemented a solid morale system. In addition, your soldiers slowly waste away from a lack of water and a scorching sun. However, they can gain hit points back through faith by being near the “piece of the true cross” relic. Finally, the custom music and sound effects really added something to the scenario and set an appropriate mood. Mcrnigoj masterfully used sound bites and theme music from two great games (Stronghold and Robin Hood: The Legend of Sherwood).
Map Design: If there was a disappointing aspect of this scenario, it was the map. While the map served its purpose exceedingly well, with elevation, cliffs, and a moat, it looked rather plain. One must take into account that desert maps are hard to make, but the author could have added some more eye candy. The map could have used more mixing of desert and dirt 1. Perhaps even some dirt 2 could have been used. Did the Saracens have access to water? If so, some small oases could have been made. Were there any mountains in the vicinity of the battle could be placed on the map? Moreover, I believe that some strategically placed craters, cracks, broken carts, and skeletons would have made the map more aesthetically pleasing.
Story/Instructions: Mcrnigoj did a marvelous job of making the battle come to life. As I played, I really felt like I was fighting for a greater cause. The author gave an interesting background to the battle, and it was neat to see the battle from a perspective that differed from the ES version. It was always clear what your current objective was, and the hints were insightful and helpful.
“Hattin 1187” is a fantastic fixed force scenario. The only noticeable area where improvement could be map was the map, which was still adequate and really just a background to an epic battle. Upon finishing this scenario I was enchanted in a way that few scenarios have done. I wholeheartedly recommend “Hattin 1187” to anyone who has Age of Kings: The Conquerors on their computer. This scenario has quickly become my favorite fixed force scenario.
Hattin 1187 AD is a single scenario, a FF with RPS elements. The story is historical; the events take place the 3-4 July 1187. Salah al-Din Yusuf ibn Ayyub, known as Saladin, laid siege to the city of Tiberias the 2nd of July. Raymond of Tripoli recommended to abandon Tiberias, a march in full armour under the burning sun in mid summer would be suicidal, even though his wife Eschiva was defending the town. Reynald of Chatillon and the Grand Master of the Templar were in favour to leave immediately and regarded Raymond of Tripoli as a 'poulain', a chicken. Guy, King of Jerusalem ordered to leave Saffuriyah for Tiberias, probably to prove his courage, in the morning of the 3rd of July. Raymond of Tripoli organized the vanguard, Guy of Jerusalem the middle and the Templar brought up the rear guard. Here is where the scenario begins; you accompany the Templars to the Horns of Hattin.
PLAYABILITY: Hattin 1187 AD is a fantastic scenario, an enjoyable orchestration of Islam's most spectacular victory during the Crusades. It felt real, sounds like wind, shouted commandos and a good unit choice representing Saladin's force including Egyptian infantry, a Mamluk cavalry and nimble light cavalry archers attacking throughout the voyage. The crusaders' army comprised Frankish knights, members of the Hospitallers and Templars, and four thousand mercenaries paid by King Henry II, in all 1'200 knights and 20'000 foot soldiers. I like the multiple choices that guaranty a high replay value and encountered no bug or lag. 5+
BALANCE: I consider the balance from my playing experience on moderate and standard as perfect. The scenario is difficulty level dynamic in some ways, the enemy had fewer units and my units had more AP on standard, probably there is more to it. In addition, you can choose the historical outcome or seek more challenge by a change of history. The later is demanding and it is best to play the first time on the lower level to experience the tactical options. The game play was not frustrating, rather very challenging with surprises and reloads. 5
CREATIVITY: Hattin 1187 AD is a creative scenario with a very good use of triggers for enemy manoeuvres, attacks and retreats. It uses increased HP to manage to play the battle with less units as well as looping triggers to decrease player 1's HP to show the effect of a burning sun and lack of water. The use of sounds and music to create a realistic atmosphere is professional and the balance creative with game enhancing choices. The result of death of your four heroes varied, there is a 'moral system' = extra HP for the survival of two main characters for specific units of your troops, immediate loss for the death of another and a missing option for the death of the fourth, while the ‘healing facility’ was limited to three main characters. 5+
MAP DESIGN: The design maintains the standards of historical accuracy established by the creators of AoK. The map shows the waterless plateau between Saffuriyah and Tiberias with the Horns of Hattin, twin extinct volcanic outcroppings, along the Roman road Darb al-Hawarnah, the East-West connection between the Mediterranean and the Sea of Galilee. The map design is excellent, very realistic with its portrayal of the events of the hot summer of 1187 when the area was dry and Saladin’s men transported water from the Galilee Sea to their troops. I spotted small details like the dried out water hole at the southern of the Horns of Hattin, a greenish hole with a skeleton. The desert map shows a good mix of desert and dirt 1, an excellent use of cliffs demonstrating the situation of the Syrian and Egyptian troops blocking the road to Tiberias for the Christians. In addition, the map consists of many smaller elevations without loosing the aspect of a plateau and areas with palm trees without being unrealistic. In short, one of the three top desert maps I have seen so far. 5
STORY/INSTRUCTIONS: Based on historical facts, the scenario contains an informative history section, a good description with an in game developing story of the events around Hattin. The characters are historical, the objectives were always clear and the hints helpful, furthermore the scenario is introduced with a very appealing bitmap. 5+
OVERALL: IMHO, it is the best FF scenario at the blacksmith.
OBSERVATIONS: For technical design reasons, the map is ‘turned’, up is west, right is north, down is east and left is south. The disaster at the Horns of Hattin is the story of two wrong decisions of Guy, king of Jerusalem. First he risks everything against the advice of Raymond of Tripoli, French born in the east who knows the area and then he listens to him when he should not, stays the night at the Horns of Hattin a few miles away of Tiberias and the fresh water. As a result only 200 knights escaped, among them Raymond of Tripoli, the King of Jerusalem and the Grand Master of the Templars were captured, Rainald de Chatillon beheaded, many of the imprisoned Templars and Hospitallers massacred by fanatics, the surviving prisoners sold as slaves and the piece of the true cross lost for ever. Today Tiberias is Israel's most popular holiday resort in the Northern half of the country.
Amid mutual hatred and distrust within their own ranks, the Latin barons faced the renewed Moslem attack. Raymond III of Tripoli and his friends stood opposed to the Latin King and his coterie. Raymond had, in fact, made an alliance with Saladin in order to protect the county of Tripoli against the possibility of Moslem invasion. Yet in this extremity, under grave pressure from the other Latin princes, Raymond and his party yielded and prepared to join the Christian army in defense of the Holy Land. Such a belated reunion, however, could not erase the distrust and bitterness engendered by recent events within the Latin states. By late June, 1187 the armies of the Latin King had assembled to face Saladin's onslaught.
In a word: breathtaking. Marko Crnigoj is a designer well-known for creating historically accurate, realistic, yet fun Fixed Force campaigns, and this is his best yet. Tannenberg 1410 was OK...apart from the 30 minute intro cutscene. Hastings 1066 was also a fine campaign, but a bit too short for the liking of many players. Hattin 1187 is an improvement upon both. Right from the beginning -- where I was repeatedly attacked by swarms of cavalry, who would strike and retreat before I could retaliate -- I knew this was Best of AoK material. When I finally conglomerated with the main body of troops, and the sacred relic was led to Guy and Raymond's pavilion, it was one of the most stirring scenes I've ever seen in a campaign. Hattin is tough and engaging, with lots of replayability. Even though your enemy commands easily a thousand units, and you half as many, there was none of the battle lag which characterises large FFs. And, true to the Crnigoj style, each of your units has thousands of HP to make the battle last longer. The old tactic of sniping and then retreating will not work here. The whole campaign was very well-playtested, there were no broken triggers whatsoever. The whole campaign is wrapped up with a spectacular siege on the Crusader-controlled bastion of Tiberias. Saracen onagers pound your walls while hundreds of enemies charge the narrow promenade into the fortress. An incredible campaign. 5
Well deserving of a perfect 5. Hattin is hard. Far more so then any of Crnigoj's previous three .cpx's. Saladin's marshals Kukburi, al-Afdal, and Taqi-al-din vastly outnumber your army even at its peak, and they often have higher hitpoints then your own men. Added to that is the factor that your troops suffer attrition, they lose HP gradually due to thirst and weariness. The end result is an army half-dead that must fight a foe twice its size. Fortunately, your army is heavier and stronger. I had to restart three times while playing this campaign. Either one of my heroes would die, my army would get crushed by an unseen attack, or one of those @#$%& cavalry archers would shoot my relic-toting monk. This campaign is certainly not for newbies, but a great challenge for inters and experts. -5
Rather then just being a carbon copy of his other two FFs, MCrnigoj builds on what he has done already. As Ingo van Thiel once put it "innovation over imitation." There is the same super-strong unit principle which has made his works popular, but also some other interesting ideas. Your army suffers attrition damage that can only be stopped by reaching Lake Tiberias, so you can't just bunker yourself in and withstand attacks. The relic your monk bears has the power to lift the spirits of your troops, whenever a hero goes nere it he instantly recovers any lost HP. There is also a freakishly complex morale system which I never would have understood if Berserker Jerker hadn't made a helpful utility showcasing it. Crnigoj makes use of setting and atmosphere for emotional effect. Your spirits lift as the vast army of Crusaders changes ownership to you, but you abruptly wilt as you see the endless battalions of Saracens arrayed against you. One thing I found intriguing is how the designer gives the player the option of deciding which way the game will go. If you want to try and defeat the Saracen Army at Hattin, select Guy of Jerusalem. If you want to press on and find fresh water supplies at Lake Tiberias, select Raymond of Tripoli. Whichever you choose, you end up facing the same challenges -- just in a different order. Fighting at Hattin will lead to you having to march to Tiberias once the foe is vanquished, while marching to Tiberias will lead to you having to defend it against the Saracen Army. And then the fact that it is all historically based and well-researched, in a time where all anyone ever seems to design is fantasy RPGs. And this isn't taking into account the music and SFX sounds. Without a doubt one of the most creative and original campaigns released this year. 5
In my opinion, MCrnigoj handled the formidable task of designing a realistic desert map rather well. The map is comprised of endless rolling sand dunes, with a bit of lush vegetation around the Tiberias Lake and a few palm trees. There isn't much to look at -- but neither is a desert in real life. The map is handled to suit the scenario's needs. There are rocks and cliffs placed to make a bit more strategic variety, and the map is just so that the player has a lot of options open to him, and at the same time is not too cluttered. The stronghold of Tiberias was well-designed also. -5
An impressive amount of research went into this, that much is obvious. Don't be let down by the rather short pre-game briefing, Hattin has a great storyline. Hints are abundant and comprehensive, and they don't assume that the player is familiar with Crnigoj's morale system. Only one small historical incongruity I noticed: Saladin's army did not use camels during the battle. -5
An excellent campaign well worth playing.
-- Map design was very good
-- Balance systems worked well
-- Zero lag
-- Good story
-- None, really, except perhaps it could have been a bit easier