El Cid 4: "Black Guards"

Article written by CanOfSpam
Published on 07-04-2016; updated on 07-05-2016
Tags: Conquerors Campaigns, El Cid

Plan of Attack

  • Fortify Alfonso’s Camp
  • Crossbowmen and Mangonels
  • Fight Your Way to the Beach
  • Victory At Sea

Relevant Civilization Bonuses

  • Transport Ships 2x hit points, 2x carry capacity
  • Market trade costs 5%

Enemy Opposition

Yusuf, the Black Guard Navy and Black Guard Army are all Saracen, fielding full battle formations of camels and cavalry archers with mamelukes and knights in support. Yusuf’s attack forces rely on onagers to breach your gates.

If you elect to assault the city expect the defenders to include skirmishers, pikemen and scorpions in the street-to-street fighting. There are a series of unsupported watch towers lining the roads and within the town.

The Black Guard Navy has a castles in the heart of the city, while the Army’s overlooks the road and the northern walls. Their military buildings are clustered in pairs or fours. Yusuf has a castle that serves to train his mamelukes and trebuchets, but the layout of his camp makes it possible to plunder his camp without besieging the castle.

The Black Guard Navy are misnamed, with decidedly little presence at sea. Even a small fleet can quickly seize control of the straits, but reaching the beach demands you raise a host for the task.

Alfonso's camp

Leave Alfonso’s Army to the their fate, as even joining your numbers to theirs will be in vain against Yusuf`s host. Seek refuge in Alfonso’s camp to the west, detaching your knights with El Cid to lead them in attacks of opportunity by destroying all the watch towers outside the walls. Cavalry archers will harry your efforts, but El Cid is well-suited to the task of routing them. After your knights have retired to the camp, respond to any further cavalry archer harassment by sorties on Aggressive patrol, but beware of enemy camels in the main force.

Your new camp is strongly situated, and once you raise a castle it’s almost impregnable. Immediately set every last villager to the task of mining out the stone by your town centre and do so to the west of your gate along the heights. One of your tents obscures a small passage on the west of your encampment that your attackers won’t hesitate to exploit, so build a single section of wall there.

Given your entrenchment and the glimpse of the hordes of cavalry and camels in the second wave of marauders that routed Alfonso’s Army, your priority should be building mangonels to support your castle and throw back the assaults on your gate. Set six villagers to fishing out the pond to ensure constant villager production and the rest to woodcutting. The moment you have sufficient wood build a siege workshop and begin constant production of mangonels, with surplus villagers set to mining gold.

As the gold and wood overflow train crossbowmen and send your new villagers to shore fishing. With skyrocketing wood stockpiled, build a university and research Ballistics. As you accumulate a food surplus train a handful of pikemen, skirmishers and monks to support your army, and at any moment the foe will be at your gates.

Use the castle to target onagers and mamelukes before unleashing your mangonels to sweep the heights clear of enemy riders.

Taking the Offensive

After all three enemies have broken themselves against your encampment, send your knights back out to follow the road. Scouting against Saracens is always hazardous, lone scouts swallowed up in an instant by their agile horse-killing mamelukes and camels. Arrange any scouting parties in groups of four to No Attack on loose formation, only leaving the road to blaze a trail to the sea at the crossroads between Yusuf‘s camp and the city‘s eastern gate.

With their defeat still fresh, there’s no better time to march out of the protection of your camp. The sheer mass of their battle formations and their cavalry archers will make them easy prey for your deadly mangonels, and the same anti-cavalry units that forbid the use of knights are arrow-fodder for your crossbowmen. Be sure to augment your expensive crossbowmen and mangonels with trash units like pikemen and skirmishers with monks to sustain them on their march.

If you used the breathing room early in the scenario to destroy the towers with your knights, follow the road to the sea cautiously in box formation with at least ten villagers trailing behind, the camp followers that your attack hinges on. Bring everyone to a halt at the first sign of enemy riders to smash them before resuming the advance.

Putting to Sea

The safest site to build the docks that are your key to a fast and brutal victory lies just to the south of Yusuf’s monastery. Your army has to buy your villagers time to build as many docks as possible, and they in turn should build as many war galleys as possible.

After four docks have them throw up a wall and tower to repel the inevitable counterattack. Your army could fight its way back to the camp, but with your new fleet they’re safer at sea. Build as many transports as you need to whisk them off to safety at sea. The survivors will pay their keep making amphibious assaults on the accessible Black Guard Navy docks to speed up the devastation sowed by your war galleys. As the last dock is swallowed by the waves, victory is yours.

Alternative Gameplay

While it’s satisfying to carve your way to victory as efficiently as possible, this scenario is also the perfect opportunity to perfect your siege craft.

The same force that will cut their way to the sea can also be used to sustain a land campaign that preclude building even a single dock. Your first target should be Yusuf‘s camp to the east with its meagre palisade and poor layout. His castle poses no obstacle to your mangonels as they level both his town centre or the choked lanes of military buildings that form his camp, but be conservative with your advance. Let the mangonels do demolition duty: your army exists solely to guard them.

Upgrade to arbalests and onagers in the Imperial Age to heighten their effectiveness at the earliest opportunity. Siege Engineers is an excellent investment, first in upgrading your mangonels but even greater in the petards that are the key to sacking the city.

Alfonso’s camp, while strongly situated, is not a sustainable town. As the fish, trees and gold run out be prepared to trade at the market for resources, but eventually you’ll need to expand. Keep to the west of the city and use the cliffs and forests to strategically build walls that will keep your villagers safe while your army is on campaign. Converting the mosque and posting a monk there is well worth the cost of researching Redemption, as with time you’ll receive every last monk upgrade for free.

Make a slow destructive circuit around the city, bombarding any key buildings with your onagers from outside the walls. If you attacked Yusuf first, follow the coast to their walls quickly bring you to the town centre and break their economy. Avoid the gates in favour of the walls where the defenders are unable to sally out against you.

Make your assault into the city by way of the northern gate directly to the south of your camp. Petards are the most efficient means of destroying the gate, but mass them for use in pairs to bring down any watch towers instantly. Trebuchets should set to work on the castles as onagers systemically level their military buildings. Press into the city as conservatively as possible, never bypassing a military building that could lead a sneak attack on your siege train.

With the petards to bring down towers, trebuchets detailed to reducing castles and the onagers for military buildings, the city will be little more than a shell. The last dock across the straits can be reached by a trebuchet without exposing your forces to the enemy ships.

Historical Note

The battle in the beginning of the scenario is the Battle of Sagrajas between King of Castille Alfonso VI and Almoravid general and king Yusuf ibn Tashfin.

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