PATH OF WAR: LOST KING CAMPAIGN
|Starting units:||carried over from mission 2|
|Available units:||all barracks troops, engineers, laddermen, all siege equipment, all mercenaries except assassins and pictish boat warriors|
|Map size:||large; map and castle layout carried over from mission 2|
|Starting Date:||continues from mission 2|
|Starting Stats:||gold 500 plus carryover | honor carried over | population carried over | popularity 80|
|Starting Goods:||all goods are carried over|
|Buy/Sell:||all goods and weapons|
You've rescued Sir William and killed three neighboring lords in the previous two missions of Chapter 8. In this third mission you will now face the Hawk's mighty army. If you have more preparations to make and troops to train, you have about a year before Pascal Deveraux will finish his bridge and march across it with an invasion force.
If you've followed along on my walk-throughs for missions 1 and 2 and built up your economy, and maybe your estates, too, you should be in fine shape with lots of goods, weapons, gold and honor. This means you should be able to train a huge army, with lots of knights if you want. You should also be able to strengthen your castle and add whatever towers and defense weapons you like, ballistae, mangonels, oil engineers, burning logs, pitch ditches, man traps, killing pits, war hounds and moats. If you're short on gold look for goods to sell. Don't forget food. If you're well stocked it can sell for a good price.
After your allotted year of preparation an announcement will signal that the Hawk has finished the bridge and is starting his invasion. This is your final call to arms. The attack has begun! He will set up a siege camp and march his army across the bridge. When he has all his troops across the bridge and in position around the camp he will send out numerous siege engines, but his main force will hang back. Shortly it will be announced that the Bull is arriving to join with the Hawk. He will march in from the south and set up his own siege camp. When he is in position the main attack will begin in earnest.
These are some of the different approaches you can use here:
- Hunker down in a strong castle and fight it out from the towers and walls.
- Defend from a strong castle as in (1) above, but have units in the field to help counter siege engines and laddermen, and harass the enemy's siege in general.
- Create a large field army and take a defensive stand on the battlefield.
- Create an offensive army and attack while, or after, the enemy crosses the bridge.
No matter how you decide to proceed in this mission, you might want to keep some armored and missile troops at the keep as a final defense. I also recommend keeping the maximum compliment of 24 peasants ready at the campfire in case you should need some fresh troops in a hurry. Saving your game progress at various stages is also highly recommended and will allow you to replay a section should things go awry. Set the game speed to your taste (using the "+" and "-" keys) and adjust up or down as necessary. And don't be afraid to make liberal use of the pause function (the "P" key) to study situations carefully. You can erect buildings, build walls and towers, train troops, give troop commands, do almost anything while on pause.
1. Defend From the Castle Walls:
My intent in the walk-throughs for chapter 8 was to keep the original walls, then strengthen them in this mission for the invasion. The screen shot above shows a modest strengthening of the original castle walls using round towers on the corners (with ballistae), thickened walls with burning logs, added gatehouse near the keep, lots of troops to man the walls, and some mounted knights outside as backup for unexpected trouble. If you're short on stone or gold, bastions can be used instead of round towers as they require much less stone. With enough troops this setup should be adequate to repel the siege. You can easily add your own touches to make it even stronger, plus boiling oil, man traps, killing pits, pitch ditches and moats are available.
If you like multiple ballistae on the corner nearest the enemy's advance you could butt four square towers together in a square pattern in place of the single round tower. This provides towers for four ballistae as shown.
Be sure you have lots of some kind of melee troops spread along the walls to repel the ladders. Armed peasants, spearmen or pikemen are all good. Lots of archers and crossbowmen will be your biggest asset. Concentrate them in the towers and spread some around the walls to help kill as many laddermen as possible before they make it to the walls. It's good to have some groups of heavy armor with close access to the top of the walls in case they're scaled, plus some near or in the keep as a last defense. Also, one or two on the middle floor of each tower can slow down enemy troops that may make it to the top of your walls and try to ascend them to get at missile troops on top. Knights, of course, make the best backup and you should be able to afford quite a few.
Pitch can be used to protect the walls and approaches, and further out to catch siege engines if you can find the appropriate places to lay it down. Killing pits are very effective against troops but siege equipment can cross them with immunity. Man traps do less damage but affect both troops and siege equipment. Burning logs can be devastating against both but trebuchets will set up out of their range.
When the attacks start, adjust troop positions around the towers and walls as needed and be sure your ballistae are targeting the trebuchets. Don't concern them with catapults or fire ballistae as your archers or other defenses should take care of those. Make repairs to the walls and towers immediately if you are not prevented from doing so by the proximity of the enemy.
Below is a screen shot of a much stronger modification to the original castle using square towers butted together (sporting ballistae) to form the main walls, regular wall sections outside of those, great towers, moat and large gatehouses with drawbridges. I think the moat completely spooked the enemy and very few units advanced. I had to go out and engage them in the end.
2. Defend From the Walls and Use Roaming Units in the Field:
The castle setup and manning is similar to the above, but it can be a bit more modest, depending on what troops you deploy in the field. Mounted knights are the best, being the most hardy, and their excellent mobility is a great asset. 15 to 30 mounted knights can really disrupt the enemy attack. Other troops can be used also, but they will probably come under considerable archer fire, so the hardier ones are best, pikemen or swordsmen. These are slower moving, therefore should be deployed in many locations so there will always be a group near any trouble spots that develop.
Macemen can also be used if you are careful. They have twice the speed of pikemen and are actually just a little faster than a mounted knight. Burning carts can also be used to great effect against siege engines and advancing troops, but are expensive and in this attack probably would not be the first choice. If used, keep them away from enemy archers who will usually destroy them well before they reach their target.
Whatever troops you use, focus first on neutralizing the trebuchets. After that advancing laddermen make excellent targets. Archers can speed the destruction of trebuchets, catapults and advancing troops and laddermen, so could also be employed in the field, but should be protected by some melee troops.
You can keep all your field troops engaged during the entire attack, in which case most will probably be killed, or pull them back as reserves after disposing with the siege engines. When the attacks are done you'll need to send out some troops to deal with stragglers to complete the job.
3. Defend Without a Castle:
You don't have to have a castle to successfully defend against this siege. A well chosen and placed defensive army can handily repel the attacking forces. I used a curved battle line with 75 axe throwers in front, 75 crossbowmen behind them, and 75 archers in the rear. Armored units should protect the flanks, in this case five mounted knights on each were used. I also kept a reserve of two groups containing 15 axe throwers each behind the center to reinforce the line as needed. It would be prudent to station some armored troops at the keep for a last defense. I developed this line in version 1.2 where it was extremely effective and had lights losses. In patch 1.3.1 axe throwers must throw 3 times as many axes to inflict the same damage against swordsmen so it took a lot more of a beating. Without engaging the knights I lost about 1/3 each of the archers and crossbowmen, and most of the axe throwers, but the line still held fast.
I moved the 30 reserve axe throwers around a lot to reinforce the line wherever macemen or armor charged. At least doubling those reserves might be a good idea and engaging some of the knights would also save more of the line troops. Adding some melee troops in the front row, even spearmen could increase the effectiveness considerably.
It's important to let your missile troops do their work, keeping some knights in reserve for any breakthroughs or flanking actions. In the event of a major disaster, they can also quickly fall back to defend the keep, although they probably won't need to see any action at all. I had lots of gold so could easily afford the axe throwers and knights. If you have plenty to spend you could make the line even stronger. Many other types of troops could be used in place of the axe throwers and knights, they were an arbitrary choice. If you're on a tighter budget even spearmen could be substituted on the front line, although you might want to increase them to 100 and you might consider increasing the archers and crossbowmen as well. In this case the spearmen are used to delay the swordsmen and macemen rushing the line to allow the missile troops to do their work, not for the damage they can do to the attackers. Knights are not necessary to win.
I placed my line of troops well back out of range from enemy archers near the siege camp and let the enemy advance to me, but it's still far enough out to eliminate the trebuchets and other siege engines. After the enemy charges are spent you can advance your forces and finish up any stragglers.
4. Take the Offense, Attack in the Field:
There's no reason you have to wait for the enemy to attack you. If you assemble an adequate offensive force you can advance and defeat the invaders either before or after the main attack begins. To do this you will need quite a tough army. Knights, swordsmen or pikemen (or a combination) are the ones really up to the job, although massive amounts of some other types could also succeed. I could easily afford 100 mounted knights, but that's a little unrealistic and probably a little unfair. I much prefer swordsmen who provide a more satisfying fight, I think. Pikemen work too. While they move faster and can absorb more punishment than swordsmen, they are much slower to inflict damage, so take longer to do the job and more will fall.
The tactics don't have to be complicated. If you want to keep things really simple, using just one unit type, and just butting heads with the enemy all the way to the last man, I've found 40 mounted knights up to the task, or 140 swordsmen. More won't hurt, of course. The tricky bit is keeping your troops from being distracted by the laddermen, who you have to get through to reach the camp, archers and many other troops.
What I present below uses a mixture of troops and takes a little more finesse, but worked quite well.
The configuration I show in the screen shot uses 80 swordsmen, 50 archers and 25 mounted knights. They are easily up to the job. Fewer troops could definitely be used. The archers are not that important but ease things a little. The knights pack considerable punch and are a very powerful element in this attack. You can do it without them but I would increase the swordsmen by another 40-60 plus have some reserves.
I split the swordsmen into four groups of 20 each and used the line formation to array them on a broad front. This helps insure the enemy will not slip through or around the flanks. To help in controlling their movement I assigned each to a unit group by using CTRL + number key (1-9). If you don't feel too confident as a commander yet, add another 10 or more swordsmen to each of the four groups, raising the total from 80 to 120.
In this example I started my advance as soon as all the Hawk's troops were in position at the siege camp. This still gives you just enough time to defeat the Hawk, then reform just in time to face the Bull's attack.
To commence the attack I set all troops on aggressive stance and advanced each of the four groups of swordsmen, still in line formation, forward to attack and slightly encircle the Hawk's troops. At the same time I sent the archers forward to a position just over the border where they could target the laddermen, but keeping them behind the line of swordsmen. Reducing the laddermen's numbers helps clear the way for the swordsmen to get through the knot of them to more important targets. The archers will also destroy any siege engines that get past the swordsmen, something they are quite good at.
Be careful in version 1.3.1, however, as the Hawk may set up his archers and crossbowmen closer to your advance than shown in the screen shot. The archers should be kept out of range of the enemy archers who are far too numerous to take on with only 50 of your own. Adjust their position as necessary. If you took in a much larger force of archers you could consider engaging them. Instead I sent 15 mounted knights wide, out around the enemy's southern flank to have them tackle the Hawk's archers and provide some relief for the swordsmen. 10 mounted knights were kept in reserve to protect the archers and take care of any troops that might slip through the line. They needn't worry about stray siege engines as the archers should handle those. If you decide not to use archers, then the 10 knights can easily handle the siege engine duty.
If you can't afford knights, you could probably use pikemen or macemen as reserves. Pikemen are a little faster than swordsmen, but not fast enough to be effective at getting to the enemy archers. Macemen are slightly faster than mounted knights but might get slaughtered rushing the archers unless you had quite large numbers. It's probably best to keep them in reserve protecting your archers and let the swordsmen fend for themselves. They're hardy and should survive the archers, but without knights you'd better add another 40 or so swordsmen bringing the count up to at least 120 (or 160). Try to get a good group of them through to get at the archers as soon as you can.
As the Hawk's army is contained and reduced, the archers can move closer in and the reserve knights can join in the fray. Be sure to take down the siege camp to stop the flow of laddermen. Your victory may be accomplished well ahead of the Bull's arrival, depending on when you started and how fast your progress, giving you time to form up, ready to engage his advance from the south. Since my swordsmen casualties were only in the 10-15% range I kept the original four groups and arrayed them in a similar fashion as before with the archers behind, all facing south towards the map edge. The knights were kept ready and to the side, but keep at least five back for siege engines or troops that may get through. When the Bull marches in you can just advance and meet him head on. He should be a bit easier than the Hawk.
If the Bull arrives before you are done with the Hawk, things will be a bit trickier. You can leave any of the Hawk's laddermen, even the siege camp if necessary. Just finish up any other troops and advance on the Bull's army. If you have knights, or any other reserves you can spare, get them into the fight. Concentrate on his archers and crossbowmen first, as they can be quite lethal over time. Try to push past the laddermen to get to the important units. If you have archers move them up to eliminate the laddermen, possibly even to attack and distract the archers and crossbowmen. Unless you have great numbers of archers, that may be a sacrificial move, but could be well worth it.
If you find yourself left with a very weak force when facing the bull and in a perilous predicament, put the game on pause and turn your attention back to your castle. What kind of defensive and economic state is it in? How much gold do you have, honor, weapons, saleable goods? How many troops? If you've been an industrious lord you should be in good shape, at least insofar as being able to train more troops.
Now back to the Bull. You have several options. If you have lots of gold, honor, and 24 peasants around the campfire you can create two dozen knights immediately and create a steady flow of more as peasants are created. If you lack enough honor, swordsmen are next best. You can also put some industries to sleep and use those extra peasants as fresh recruits.
You could press ahead with your force that is currently engaged with the Bull, doing what damage you can but ultimately sacrificing them all. Your fresh force of knights or swordsmen can then stage a second engagement and should be enough to finish him off.
Another option is to pull back immediately and join up with the fresh forces, launching a combined second attack. If you have a strong castle with enough forces manning the walls, you could even fall back and let the Bull attack the castle.
Lastly, if you have saved games at various points, you could go back and try again, using different tactics, or just bringing a larger army.
GOING AFTER THE HAWK:
Once the sieges are over it's time for your revenge. Your objective is the demise of the Hawk. His defenses are a little unusual, but not that hard to tackle. He has a gatehouse flanked by two towers, a square one with a ballista and a round one with a mangonel, a relatively small amount of missile troops, a few pikemen, and two fire ballistae outside the walls with pikemen guards on each.
While a ladder assault is possible it's not really advisable. There is only one ladder access point on the wall, to the left of the gatehouse. That provides access to the left-hand wall and the square tower. But to get to the round tower you must go down the engineer's guild steps, across the compound behind the gatehouse and enter the tower from the base. The walls are constructed so that there is no access to the gatehouse whatsoever. The gatehouse quite simply needs to come down to advance into the castle without scaling the wall. You could, of course, send in plenty of armored troops to scale the wall and just continue immediately to the keep, enduring the hail of missile fire both before and after going over the wall.
A very quick, brute force method is to send in a ram with the protection of at least 2 cats, knock the gatehouse down and just march in with knights or swordsmen straight to the keep for Pascal Deveraux, ignoring and just absorbing all the missile fire. Twelve knights can do it or about two dozen swordsmen. If you want to go in a bit stronger use three dozen swordsmen. If you use this method you will lose a few to the killing pits in front of the bridge. Approach straight in, in a direct line with the bridge to keep loses minimal.
But it's so easy to take out much of the Hawk's defenses with some fire ballista, shielded by mantlets, that you might as well ease the way for your armor by sending those units in while you're waiting for the gatehouse to come down. 4-6 fire ballista with 8-10 mantlets positioned on the bridge can take out the fire ballistae, tower ballista, mangonel, archers, crossbowmen--pretty much everybody if you give them enough time.
And of course, if you're in a vengeful mood you can clear the front wall and towers of missile units with your fire ballistae as mentioned above, maybe send in two or three dozen archers to make sure everything is cleaned up and then pound everything flat with catapults. Send in an execution squad to finish off the Hawk in the keep.
Here's the details on a more conventional and cautious approach, using elements of what I just presented above. Assemble a dozen mounted knights (two dozen swordsmen, or appropriate numbers of other melee troops can be substituted), about 30 archers, and 15-20 spearmen well back from the approach to the bridge. Set up a siege camp a short way back from the bridge and create 4-6 fire ballistae and 8-10 mantlets. Send these as a group about a third of the way onto the bridge. Be sure they stay together and be sure most of the mantlets stay just in front of the fire ballistae.
The moment they're rolling create a ram and a cat. Send them in together and target the ram to the gatehouse. Again be sure the cat is just slightly ahead of the ram, the front half of the cat just ahead of it. One cat will do in this case since you also have the fire ballistae and mantlets involved.
When the fire ballistae are in position, target the two ground fire ballistae and the tower mounted ballista. Then eliminate the mangonel and work on the archers and crossbowmen. As soon as the three ballistae are gone the ground approaching your side of the bridge will be out of range. Advance your spearmen and run them around that area. There are quite a few killing pits there and the idea is to sacrifice the spearmen, having them spring the traps rather than losing archers and knights. No siege equipment is affected by killing pits, so it was not a concern when sending them over the bridge.
When the ram reaches the gatehouse it only takes about five whacks to bash it to pieces. At that point send in your archers over the bridge to the far end. They may spring a trap the spearmen didn't get but that's just the fortunes of war, you'll still have plenty. Have your archers eliminate any of the Hawk's archers that came down with the gatehouse and any close by pikemen. Then you can advance them to the right to the clear area in front of the round tower to target any remaining units on the top.
As your archers advance to the other side of the bridge you can charge your mounted knights across it and on to the keep. Killing pits are weight sensitive so there may still be one or two unsprung pits in their path that the lighter weight spearmen and archers were able to cross. If you lose a couple, no problem. Actually five knights can easily do the job at the keep. You're sending far more than needed.
When the knights reach the keep have them engage the swordsmen at the campfire from horseback. Mounted knights have almost a 20% attack bonus against swordsmen over a knight attacking on foot. In addition they have what amounts to a defensive bonus, too, in that all damage goes to the horse first, then the knight. Once the Hawk's swordsmen are eliminated your knights will have to dismount to ascend the keep. Devereax's pikemen come down to meet them, but they're no match for even a handful of knights. On to Deveraux himself. Watch out for his mighty mace, but you should have no trouble.
You can now bask in the glow of a well earned victory!
*) denotes a former staff member.