Bring all your adversaries to their knees.
- Be the last survivor
- Sink 40 ships
This walkthrough focuses on an economic victory: the intent is to completely abstain from combat and instead focus on developing the player's economy to the point where it is so much more advanced than the AI's that they cannot hope to win when the player finally does go to war.
Like with any victory in hard mode, a fast start is everything. Do everything as quickly as possible - do not waste time initially.
The numbered map serves as a running example[nb 1]. and displays the islands used.
Exploration and planning
To get an optimal start, you cannot waste time exploring, but instead must already know which islands you're going to use. So, when you first start your game, dump your building materials somewhere and go out and explore the map.
When you're done, pick the largest and most central island that has cider, hemp, stone, iron, salt, and a river. This will be your main island (island 1 on example map).
Next, pick the closest island of reasonable size (medium is fine) with dates, spices and quartz. This will be your main oriental island (nr. 2 on map).
Finally, find islands with grain/herbs, clay and quartz, silk and indigo (3a/b/c/ on map).
Save the game (in case you forget locations), and start over ("Start the map again" in main menu).
Now we can start for real.
At the start of the game, claim island number 1. Place the warehouse at the center of the indicated beach, as it will serve lots of fisheries later on. Take 3 wood and 2 tools and go claim island number 2. Return to Lord Northburgh afterwards.
Place a bunch of lumberjacks. I used 8 around a single market building. Place a fishery next to your warehouse.
Place a marketplace and some houses. I used this layout, leaving space for service buildings to be added later on. Block ascension rights.
Pick an area where your cider farms will be located and place a market building and one farm there. Build a chapel. Use any spare wood to build more houses.
Buy 20 tools from Northburgh and drop them at your settlement.
With your first 50 honour, buy a gift and head off to Al Zahir.
Once the cider reaches your peasants, advance a bunch of them to citizens. Raise citizen taxes to "happy" (light green). Build a stone quarry. Don't do hemp/garments just yet.
Sail the ship with building materials Al Zahir gives you back and unload it at your settlement. Continue advancing peasants and stop at 17/18 citizen houses. Wait till you can create tools, then set up a production chain.
Take 9 wood and 6 tools and go claim islands 3a, 3b and 3c. Visit the Corsair island on the way back, but don't buy them off just yet. Wait until their first ship comes near your own[nb 2].
Continue to build and advance houses until you have paid the Corsairs and your treasury re-fills (1000 or so). Add fisheries/cider farms whenever stocks run dry. Store excess stone stocks on island 2.
Take some tools and wood to island 2 and set up a date farm and 10-15 houses. Add a spice farm and set your caravel to transport spices. Take back any leftover tools.
Build and upgrade more houses (I completed the 101-housing plan), add five hemp farms and two weavers, and build a tavern.
Use your flagship to make to take another gift (100 honour) to Al Zahir and to contact with your opponents in the meantime. Ingratiate them once you have contact and continue to ingratiate them from now on as often as it maxes out.
Drop citizen taxes back to dark green and advance some citizens. Your opponents should now congratulate you on beating them to getting patricians.
Take all stone back to island 1 and create more patricians. Build a quarry at the second stone deposit there.
Build up to 30 nomad houses and take another gift to Al Zahir. Build a quartz quarry and add it to your spice route. Also build a stone quarry on island 2 and add it to your route as well.
Create more patricians and set up glass production. Also build a ropeyard and shipyard.
Take building mats to island 3a and set up bread and beer production. Connect to Benedicta so she can provide some cheap honour. Build a ship and set it to transport bread and beer.
Build a church and advance more peasants/citizens. Set up jerkins production on island 1. Build two indigo farms on island 3c and build another ship. Set it to transport indigo back to island 1.
Make some more patricians and finish the books production on island 1. Build a Debtor's Prison.
Don't forget to pay off the Corsairs and ingratiate the AIs. You should have time to explore a bit with your flagship.
Drop patrician taxes and create Noblemen. You will be well ahead of your opponents by now.
You're probably very short on tools now, so set up another iron chain on island 3c. Add iron to your existing indigo-route. Place more toolmakers on island 1.
Once you have a decent number of noblemen, set up meat production on island 1.
At this point, I was still pretty low on cash so I decided to create another marketplace with church and added about 35 more houses (135 total), expanding consumption goods chains whenever needed.
You'll need more iron to build weapons and/or cannons, so set up more iron production. I used island 4a since I would probably need wine soon anyway.
Create another hemp farm and ropeyard, and add weapon/cannon/war machine factories.
At this point you have a strong economy (periodic income 1000+), capable of creating and supporting a strong fleet and army, while the AIs are still struggling at citizen level (Forcas) or busy fighting each other and the corsairs with patrician-level fleets and armies (Baronessa and di Mercante). You can now build an army and attack them without them being able to mount a serious counteroffensive. Which type of army you build is up to you, but I will describe what I did.
Cannon Positions & Oriental warships
Since I like Cannon Positions so much (longest range of all armies), I set out to create a bunch of those. That meant that I expanded my Oriental settlement to 100 houses.
Set up carpets production on island 3c. Set up mosaic production on island 3b. Build a ship and have it transport carpets and mosaic to island 2. Expand dates and milk production on island 2.
Now we need coffee. In my case, only one island with that fertility was left unclaimed, so I took that one: island 4b.
Pearl necklace production can be added to island 3c.
Once all your envoys have moved in, create an Oriental Fort and order some cannon positions. Buy honour from Northburgh and Al Zahir, upgrade Al Zahir auciliary fleet and call for it. Decide which opponent you like the least. They should all have only a few warships - if any: send one or two of your own after them to prevent retaliation. Position your remaining warships, armies and a ship with building materials in front of the main island of the chosen AI player. Declare war and enjoy!
At first this level seems easy. You start with 10,000 gold, 40 tons of wood, 40 tons of tools, and 10 tons of fish, just like in some of the medium scenarios.
Islands and new settlements
There's almost always a desirable island just northeast of your starting location in this scenario.
Hurry though, because you may miss your chance to beat the other players to the most desirable island in the scenario. Right near the middle of the map there is a huge desert island. This oriental island should have both date and spice fertilities, and be very close to your own island. In addition, the island is huge, which is odd considering the small size of nearly every other island on the map. Make sure and colonize it.
Aside from a few large exceptions, this scenario is full of small to mid-size islands. However this map has abundant supplies of stone, iron, and all the other essential resources around the map. That is partially because this map is colossal. Islands that appear tiny on the map are actually modest islands with good resources and a little space. So even though you may feel crowded by the presence of your two hard-nosed rivals, you should have plenty of space and resources at hand.
In easier scenarios it is enough to simply place a warehouse on an island to keep it from the settlements of others, but in this scenario other players will steal your islands out from under you if you don't develop them. One way to keep a tighter grip on an island is to build a few small market buildings on it; your rivals can't build anywhere within a market building's circle of influence.
The problem is, you have to fight some very difficult opponents:
- Baronessa Constanza Zanchi,
- Giovanni di Mercante, and
- Helena Flores.
Helana is a challenge, but Baronessa and Giovanni are incredibly difficult. Both build their civilizations quickly, and the two of them will put a great deal of pressure on you.
If you're having trouble getting off to a fast enough start in this scenario, you can always look at what the computer does. Giovanni, for instance, starts with two fisherman's huts, four lumberjack huts, a cider farm, and about 36 houses.
Helena Flores will fall behind both the Baronessa and Giovanni, and will eventually be at war with at least one of them. This will slow down both future enemies. If the computer players take each other out, that's much less work for you to do.
Building your ship fleet
When fighting the computer, follow two rules:
Ships You want to use a small fleet of ships to destroy their trading vessels, as well as any offensive fleet your opponents have. Sea battles are won entirely through attrition, attainments, and items. You want to have more ships than your enemy, with better attainments, and with items that will give you that extra edge.
The easiest way to get ships is through both attainments and honor.
Two great attainments for naval warfare are the Royal Armada attainment, and the Sultan's Naval Forces. These attainments both boost the auxiliary fleet for 300 honor that you can buy from Vizier and Lord Northburgh.
If you max out these two attainments, you can requisition four Oriental warships and two large warships out of thin air, regardless of your fleet limit.
You can also purchase the Dishonest Methods attainment from the Corsairs. While expensive, this attainment will give all of your warships +15% damage, +15% speed, and +15% hit points, that's a huge edge!
You can also use items to give your ships an edge, and while there are all sorts of different power-ups available, the best ones are the explosive kegs. It's worth buying items from ben Sahid's warehouse every now and then just to see if a keg pops up, because one of those can completely change a fight. Some kegs are even strong enough to take out entire fleets in one shot if they're grouped together too closely.
Fighting with ships
Once you have a strong fleet, you want to send a few ships to disrupt your opponent's southern trading routes, and use the others to defend your own ships and islands. You also want to reinforce your own main settlement with a keep and military camps.
To defend your island, you want:
- three large military camps,
- three trebuchet positions,
- a handful of towers, and
- 20 to 30 tons of provisions.
With this defense, you should be able to repulse any military camps your opponents send at you long enough for your ships to undermine their economy and corrode their civilization.
Attacking opponents islands
You should only send your armies in to attack their island when you're sweeping up with overwhelming force.
Make sure to try and "back door" your opponent. Draw your enemy's attention toward your main force, and then use some hard-hitting units to demolish the production lines on their island's opposite shore.
Sinking the required number of ships
If all of the computer players have been defeated but you still haven't sunk 40 ships, just abandon your treaties with the Corsairs. They will be more than happy to send some ships against you.
- ↑ Map No. 81322
- ↑ Why pay the Corsairs? There are two reasons for not fighting them:
- It's cheaper. It's expensive, but owning your own warfleet is more expensive.
- If the Corsairs don't fight you, they have more time to harass the AI.
- ↑ Official Anno 1404 guide