August 27, 1999 - "The question you want to know is: was that enough? Is the will of one man enough to forge an empire?"
From the Age of Kings Barbarossa campaign
Frederick the First, called Barbarossa because of his red beard, was not an easy choice for an Age of Kings campaign. He is certain to be the least well known of the five campaign protagonists. However, Barbarossa's story is an incredible one. He did so many interesting things, and went to war with so many different people, that we felt certain that his story would translate well to Age of Kings. Barbarossa fought in northern Europe, Italy and across into Anatolia on his way to the Third Crusade. His period represents the height of the medieval age, when heavy cavalry were coming to dominate warfare, and the inventions of the crossbow and chainmail revolutionized combat.
The region that we know of as Germany was founded as the Holy Roman Empire by Charlemagne in 800 AD. Frederick Barbarossa was a direct descendant of Charlemagne, and emperor by right of birth. As the old saying goes, the Holy Roman Empire (HRE) was neither holy (the Pope did not consider himself a part of the empire), Roman (the HRE had problems keeping Italy within its ranks) or an Empire (the nation-state was little more than dozens of squabbling cities, many of whom had no issues with raising armies to openly challenge their purported Emperor).
Barbarossa came to power in 1121. The HRE had fallen into disrepair in the last several hundred years, and Barbarossa strove to reunite it. Much of his life was spent feuding with German princes, Polish neighbors, Italian Popes and a group of cities in northern Italy known as the Lombard League.
Barbarossa was, in many ways, the epitome of the feudal emperor from which Age of Kings gets its name. He was imposing in appearance, skilled in arms and a great military and diplomatic leader of men. The emperor's life was a series of feuds, plots and intrigue. Although Barbarossa is known primarily for his military conquests, he also worked endlessly to establish a strong, centralized government and financial footing for Germany that perhaps endures to this day.
In addition to his political and military achievements, Barbarossa acquired a legendary status. Like King Arthur, he is said to be sleeping until his nation is in need of his return.
The Barbarossa Campaign
As campaigns go, the Barbarossa campaign is perhaps the most difficult for one simple reason: much of the action takes place in the Castle and Imperial Ages. When the enemy is coming into your town with Siege Onagers and Bombard Cannons, even if you outnumber him, you can easily lose many men. We recommend that players who are new to Age of Kings start with the Joan of Arc campaign and Wallace learning campaign first, but of course you can play the campaigns in any order.
The Barbarossa Campaign is broken down into three parts: the unification of Germany, the invasions of Italy, and the Crusade to the Holy Land. In the first scenario, Barbarossa must demonstrate his authority over the other German duchies, such as Bavaria and Saxony. The tricky part of this scenario is that while you are technologically superior, you must fight against six enemies all at the same time! Using Teutonic towers can give you some breathing room, but if you wait too long you may find that the other Germans have stripped the land of gold. In the second scenario, Barbarossa and his newfound allies must defend Germany against a full-scale invasion by Poland. Barbarossa is fighting from the borders, so he is heavily dependent on his allies for supplies.
By the third scenario, Barbarossa has conquered most of Germany and can now turn his attention to Italy. The League of Lombard cities unites against the Holy Roman Emperor, and Barbarossa must descend from the Alps, cross the Oglio River and invade Milan. The fourth scenario finds Barbarossa cut off from his resources and surrounded by Lombard enemies on all sides. With Paduan knights and Venetian galleys controlling the map, can Barbarossa possibly gather the resources necessary to construct a Wonder inside an enemy city?
With Germany and Italy conquered, Barbarossa could have retired to his palaces. But great events were transpiring down in the Holy Land. A Saracen king named Saladin had waged a string of victories on the European Crusaders who sought to claim Jerusalem. It was time for another Crusade! Barbarossa's army was much larger than that of England or France, however, and since Frederick wasn't exactly on speaking terms with the Italian transport fleets, he was forced to march overland through Byzantium and Turkey. Fans of history may already know how Barbarossa's tale ends. In the final scenario, you must attempt to deliver the Emperor to Jerusalem, by storming through the massive armies of Damascus and Saladin himself.
Characters, enemies and allies
Barbarossa made many enemies during his reign, most of which will make an appearance during the campaign. Although Barbarossa was--technically--Holy Roman Emperor, it was difficult for him to enforce his will across such a large geographic area. There were rivals in Germany, such as the man known as Henry the Lion. While tentatively swearing fealty to Barbarossa, Henry the Lion struggled to build bigger palaces the Barbarossa, command more troops and influence more people. Whenever Barbarossa was in Germany, Henry would behave, but when Barbarossa went down into Italy, Henry would start sowing the seeds of discord again.
Barbarossa also made enemies with the various Roman popes, who thought that the church, not the crown, should have the ultimate authority in the Holy Roman Empire. In addition to the Pope, many of the upstart Italian city-states, such as Milan, Verona and Padua, wanted independence from the HRE, and struggled against Barbarossa in war after war after war. Just when things were finally stabilizing in Europe, word came from the Holy Land of great Saracen victories (and Crusader defeats) at the hands of Saladin, a Kurdish general and king. Barbarossa immediately embarked on the Third Crusade with an army immensely larger than that of his rivals, Philip of France and Richard the Lionhearted of England. Of course, Barbarossa never quite made it to Jerusalem....
Hints from the Designers
In many of the Barbarossa scenarios, you will be pitting Teuton against Teuton. Therefore it is important to use your own powerful towers to defend yourself while generating dangerous enough armies to counter the defenses of your rivals. There is a lot of diplomacy and betrayal in the Barbarossa campaign, so it is good never to let your guard down. "Trusted" vassals and allies may turn on you if they sense that you are weak. Remember that the Teutonic Knight is a powerful unit, but it moves slowly and is susceptible to archer fire or Monk conversion. People often forget that the Teutons are also a strong cavalry civilization, and sending in horses to harass enemy troops while the Teutonic Knights close ranks can be devastatingly effective.
New Scenario Art
Many fans have seen the army tents, or pavilions, in AOK screen shots. The three tents represent another piece of scenario art. They cannot be built by villagers during the course of a game, but they do increase your population limit just like houses. A scenario designer can lay down a few tents for the human or computer player to make a starting location seem less like a fortified city and more like a temporary camp. This prop is especially useful for the Barbarossa campaign, which has our hero setting up military camps all across Europe.
More impressive is the magnificent Dome of the Rock. This edifice protects a bare rock: the Foundation Stone, where great events in the history of Christianity, Islam and Judaism alike took place. The Dome is one of the most sacred sites in Jerusalem, if not the world. It is not one of the official Age of Kings Wonders, but is instead included just for scenario use. What is the point of having accurate replicas of the City of Jerusalem if you leave out its most famous landmark? Rest assured, though, that destroying such a sacred piece of architecture is not a condition for victory. In fact most of the time, it is a recipe for defeat.
The Trigger System
One of the most exciting new features in Age of Kings is the implementation of a powerful trigger system in the Scenario Editor. A trigger is simply an effect that is tied to certain conditions. For example, you might set up the condition that when three cavalry units enter a certain flagged area, a voice proclaims "My lord, the cavalry are ready to march!". There is virtually no limit to the number of triggers or the possible enhancements that scenario designers can add to their creations. Triggers can affect victory or loss conditions, so that you can specify that a certain item be killed or building destroyed. You can also trigger a victory based on a certain technology researched or time elapsed. Triggers can even activate or deactivate other triggers, so that you can change objectives in the middle of a scenario!
Triggers are implemented right in the scenario editor. There are drop-down menus to add, modify or remove conditions or effects. Consider: objects can be added or removed--perhaps you find some recruits along the way. Text messages can be displayed or audio files can be played to have enemies or allies chat back and forth. Units can be tasked--perhaps you want your villagers to be farming instead of just standing there when the scenario starts. In the Ensemble Studios campaigns, the triggers are used to change starting resources or units based on what difficulty level you are playing on. We are truly excited about putting such a powerful tool in the hands of the fans are eagerly awaiting to see what amazing campaigns are going to appear across the Net. -- Greg Street Game Designer Ensemble Studios