Act 3, fighting alone
Mission 12, the ransom
Another mission which is both military and economic, this one is quite difficult in fact.
You are to gather 6000 gold on normal level and no less than 12 000 on very hard. Both poses quite some problem since you once more will be under attack.
In the start you will have to take over one enemy castle, the difficulty for accomplishing this first step is so-so, good use of diggers and not letting your units getting too exposed to archers and crossbowmen during the attack will be a winning strategy.
After having gotten into the castle you will be under almost constant attacks. Early on you will loose both your quarry and other producing buildings, so make very sure that you dont run out of resources - especially wood.
First you will have to focus on repairing the castle, secondly to get the production up and running.
Once you have began to produce crossbows and mace, place some macemen outside the castle to counterattack the enemy when they rush to kill woodcutters and those who works the quarry.
To protect both you might better use the patrol command, this was the first instance in this game when I found that feature to be really useful in fact. When the enemy approach your units will stop patrolling and attack the approaching enemy. When the enemy is killed they will resume the patrol if you dont give any other order.
A bit later on you can build a wooden gate and some wall with platforms send some archers and crossbows there and protect them with a fewe spearmen. Later you can expand the castle with some wall and another tower. A stone gate in the back is a pretty good idea to get your farners and woodcutter trough faster. Adding yet some more wall leading nowhere will in some cases make the enemy attack that wall instead - giving your archers and crossbowmen ample time to kill enemyunits without you really being threatened.
In time you can add more stone walls and a free standing tower protecting the quarry, woodcutters and hunters.
The laddermen will often try to run around the castle to damage your farms, so don't place all archers at the front but keep a few in the rear towers also so your food production isnt stopped.
Eventually you will have enough of either wood or stone to build around those farms if you like to - the you can sit back and relax and begin to adjust the economy so that you get the maximum influx of gold. Yet dont forget to counter attack when the nect wave of enemy soldiers arrives, the best defence in this mission is to be on the offence. You can however give your macemen the order to make an aggresive stand by clicking the fist, they will do that job then quite well - but not always. Depending on position, thy might get under fire from enemy crossbowmen. If that happens you will have to send them forward - or to withdraw.
You dont have to sit tight until the last gold coin drops into your tresure chest however, when the sum begins to approach what you need one can finish the mission faster by selling all commodities which are produced regardless of the consequences since the mission will be over in any case.
Mission 13, snake eyes
This mission should have been called 'the tale ofthe two castles' since that's what this really is. You control one and the Snake the other. At the start some bears will harass your stonecutters, make sure they are killed early on. The pigs men will also walk down and harass you quite soon, as in other missions the first attacks will be the hardest to control. But here you have been given a sufficient number of macemen from the start, gather them into a force and counterattack when the enemy gets close. Get another quarry and extra oxes to transport stone. Then build stonewalls, towers and two gates at right on your side of the river and place archers and crossbowmen on the walls and towers. Whan those are finished you wont have any major problem with the following attacks. Check on your food production, you have been given some wheat from the beginning you you can build a bakery already. Also have some hunters bring in meat, though also on this map there will be a few wolves that harass the hunters - so move one archer to the far western part of the wall and kill when a wolf approaches. You have iron ore in your base, build many mines as soon as your population permits. You can specialize on iron in this mission, it pays well and you can buy other products to quicken the military buildup.
So get a marketplace and start to sell surplus iron, then you need one engineers guild. The engineers can build wooden shields and catapults. In the mission screen you will get a recommendation to shield the catapults, but I must say I had problems doing so efficiently. Yet one or two shields will be useful ot protect your troops when they attack the Snakes castle. Getting close you will loose some troops in pits, I dont know of any way to avoid this so send in spearmen who are the cheapest first. The pigs men might divert from their path of attacking the right side, but you should have a sufficient number of men to ward off this attack. If not, build some wooden walls and dig in closer to the Snakes castle and send more men to build up your attack force.
You will need quite an army to take on the castle, and in this mission there seems to be a bug. Ive replayed it a number of times and at a certain populationlevel, the game tend to crash. The only advice I have is that you try to avoid building a larger town with many citizens and instead start to build as many military units as possible when you have gotten a balanced economy.
When you start your assault, it is best that you focus on taking down the first outer wall with at least two catapults - I did in fact use four where two attacked the wall and the other two brought down a tower.
Keep a few engineers in the back until this first attack is over - when the outside defence is in your hands place them behind a wall to keep then safe and build two more catapults.
Now you load them with sick cows which you launch into the enemy castle, aim for the stronghold in the middle - you can kill off both the extra workers as well as the soldiers defending the position there.
Rotate the map to see the walls from all sides, note where the stairs are located - this is important. If you bring down walls in the wrong position you cannot send in your men to kill the soldiers shooting down at your men.
When you have gotten a breach in the wall send in spear- and macemen to kill off the archers and crossbow guys, when they are gone you are ready for your final assault. In the end you will recieve a message from the Snake wanting to become friends - dont call off your attack. Its just a script and you have to take the castle to finish the mission.
Mission 14, the mountain pass
On this map I was unable to find any stone to quarry at all, despite the fact that there was plenty of cliffs. The area for farming is also limited yet not so small it should be any major problem. You also find iron, so plan wisely and you should be able to get such a surplus that you should be able to buty stone. At first you will need it to replair the fortification at furthest oint from your base, or perhaps it isnt really finished - whatever do it! After the first attack you will need to repair it again. Well thats if you are playing on easy or normal. If playing on hard its likely that the enemy will tear down your first line of defence, if that happens pull back to the second line and make a stand there. Build killing pits, on the harder settings you will need them badly.
In both cases you will be more successful if you keep your macemen mobile - keep them outside the walls and take out attacking archers and crossbowmen. I did choose to move macemen and a few crossbowmen from the rear lines to the front already from the start, and that is most likely the best move to make in this mission - the units you build will take quite some time to walk the distance so replace the holes in the defence with those new soldiers instead - again this tactic is valid for more difficult levels. On easy you have to play really lousy to fail so much that the enemy braks trough the first line of defence. With most difficult setting this tactic is extremely important for survival, the enemy will attack with no less than four siege machines, attack the tents before they have become operational. Then go for the crossbows, the macemen will most likely pass your men many but perhaps not all will get spiked by the pits. After killing the first wave of crossbows turn back.
On very hard you will need to keep the mace and spearmen alive as long as possible to hold down the second part of the first attack. Yet its most likely you will loose all of the mace and spearmen you send into battle oustide your fortifications - but the size of the attacking army is so large that sacrificing them is the only way to survive the onslaught. On very hard you will also need to have quite a number of woodcutters since you will need to depend on killing pits to a large degree, even though each one cost only 6 units of wood - the combined cost of dozens of pits will deplete your store of wood badly.
Later on you have the option to build on the opposite higland where the enemy have to pass, I found that to be a winning strategy. The first fortifications there were only a piece of wooden wall with platforms, but later on I was even able to add a stone tower with a ballista. Building there is most important on the more difficult levels, since you need to cut down on the enemy as much as possible before they reach your second line of defence, else they will also break trough that point and you could face serious trouble.
In all versions of this mission I played, the marketplace had a major role since there's a lot to buy to keep the inn and weaponmakers to produce at maximum, also to build chapels.
As mentioned earlier, iron sells for a good price so it's a good idea to have a several iron mines. Even though you might loose the first line of defence on the harder levels, its in fact more than likely on very hard. I cant imagine anyone loosing this mission altogether if they have a balanced economy. So overall I have to rate it as quite easy to moderately difficult depending on the level you choose to play it with.
Mission 15, carving a path
This is a difficult mission indeed, even on easy - have to admit I had to use that setting to win it in fact. One reason is that you dont have any castle from which you supply with new units in case you fail with the initial attack. It might be tempting to try to attack the Pigs castle from the front, yet ive tried to move to the side instead filling in the trench and breaching the side of the wall with the ram. The diggers were then used to bring down the inner wall from the rear whereas the other units killed off the archers and crossbows on the walls.
Try to avoid killing farmers, you will need to rebuild quickly to survice the Pigs counterattack. The ram can be used again on the inner wall, especially if any of the towers or gates get isolated so you cant get at the archers or crossbows - yet laddermen can also be used. Though I really had problems getting up enough men to get the ladders to be really efficient, hope you are better to utilize those guys than me.
Take the central building next, keep the rest of your spear and macemen protected by the wall - enemy units on the ground will come for you soon enough. When those are gone send your archers and crossbows up in the towers, I had quite few so there wasnt anything to do but to send in the rest of the macemen to clear out the towers directly. Despite the enormous army from the start I won with the smallest margin of 8 men. Replaying it I managed to have about 20 after the conquest. If you boost the stoneproduction you might be able to not only repair the walls but also build a new wall and a tower where you used the ram. Keep the production of crossbows and macemen on maximum. But try to avoid any complex operations, like in the previos mission you have an advantage if you have so many units that you can send a group of macemen outside the castle to mess up the attack agains your conquered castle.