The Age of Charlemagne
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The Age of Charlemagne is seen by modern eyes as if from a great distance. The time of the Carolingian kings lies on the cusp of the classical and the medieval. It was a time of transitions. Where German warlords had once ruled sovereign domains, now the Frankish Empire would establish a new order. Consolidating the remnants of Roman Gaul, Italy, Rhaetia, and Noricum, as well as large areas of Germania, the Franks of the 8th century welded together a significant power base. When the 3rd Carolingian, Charlemagne, came to the throne, the far-reaching changes made by his forebears had taken strong hold. Fiefs given in reward to lieutenants had generated a heavy cavalry force that proved decisive on the battlefield and the fertile lands of the Frankish realm provided ample sustenance for this new pattern of recruiting and training to flourish. The new king led the strongest military force on the continent. The Lombards were conquered quickly by the Frankish army when the temptation to attack the Papal domains proved too strong for them to resist, though the Lombard Dukes of Benevento and Spoleto remained independent. The Saxons proved to be tougher foes than had the Lombards, and a series of brutal and vengeful wars were fought, with the Franks eventually victorious in each. While Charles Martel had stopped the Moslem advance, caused great losses, and retaken southern Gaul, the border march had been established at the pyrenees. Charlemagne ventured farther, taking the war into Aragon, freeing the great port town of Barcelona. This was a real achievement, even though the Basque ambuscade on the Frankish rearguard and death of the semi-legendary leader Roland of the Breton Marches, was a loss. After these local conflicts had been resolved, Charlemagne struck eastward, reducing to vassalage several important slavic tribal confederations. The pattern of eastward expansion of Germany was established at this time, in this way, and remained a potent element of German political thought until the 20th century.
From a game viewpoint, this scenario is conventional, but directed. It is designed to be played only as the Franks. There are elements of the design that are not obvious, but should be known;
1.) The Forced Loan, Urban Contribution, and Guild Donation are improvements that have been renamed and are there to be liquidated for gold. Whether or not to sell these for the cash or to hold them in place is a tricky question. If the cash is in a town, and the town is taken, the barbarian AI MIGHT sell them all. Yet, if the money is in your treasury, and a town you own (say, in Italia...) is taken, the conquerors take a portion of that gold too. The Franks had, according to the experts, integrated into the gallo-Roman population and, by this time, the chief magnates were urban elites, some noble, some eccesiastical, some military. Their support was an essential pillar of the Carolingian system. Additionally, plunder and bribes were also a part of conquest, and when the game doesn't provide sufficent funds from such, these "improvements" can.
2.) The Aenglish: They cannot build boats, so they will not be trading or raiding anyone, but they make a good trade partner for the Franks, as they are technically on another continent and very nearby. Rouen should always have shipping available for trade with Britain. If you negotiate on the FIRST turn, the Aenglish will demand a tech, called Trade Agreement. If you give them this tech, you can then ask for, and receive, an alliance. If, after that, you NEVER land a trade unit in Britain, this alliance will continue indefinitely. This is an established pattern that is akin to a house rule. The various Anglo-saxon leaders in Britain did, historically maintain cultural and trade links with the Carolingian world, and there was no real ambition to conquer ground on the other side of the channel by either party. HOUSE RULE; NO conquest or conversions in Britain or Ireland. Trade only.
3.) The Vikings: The AI will land pirate/vikings all over the map. They can strike anywhere. This seemed like a good idea from the gameplay point of view; a completely unpredictable opponent appears from the sea. At first, they'll be strong raiders--not much threat potential. Later, the pirate/vikings that appear will be MUCH more powerful. If you're not prepared, things could get dicey.
4.) Random Events: There are a number of events that deliver units, start wars, or both, at various long intervals (high denominator #s). Some have denominators sufficiently high that they might not, in fact, ever occur in a typical game. This is intended to provide a real "random factor" in the scenario. Rather than stage an historically accurate date for an uprising or border war, these events MIGHT occur, or, they might NOT. This degree of uncertainty is designed to enhance replay value and interest. Every game will be different.
5.) Gold: At the start, the Frankish situation does look somewhat difficult. Don't be fooled. The Lombards and Saxons are both in Fundamentalism governments and maintain an abundant treasury. War with either can be lucrative, both because city-taking can pay (sometimes 400+) and because the tribute extorted from them at the peace (sometimes 900+) can also be lucrative. Moreover, both of these barbarian nations are very warlike, and will surprise attack pretty frequently. Very little need to stain Frankish diplomatic reputation when it's simpler to allow them to start it, and then take the iniative, the cities, and the gold. The situation can be remedied in several other ways. Trade will pay, even from the start, prior to acquiring the Trade tech, and it can really pay well after that. Britain, as mentioned above, is always a good trading partner. Then there are the sell-able mock-improvements mentioned above, which can also be found in newly-conquered enemy cities as well as one's own. And some improvements CAN be sold off if their upkeep proves too burdensome. City Walls in this scenario cost 3 gold to maintain. Cathedrals and Episcopates are expensive, but also costly to maintain. Other improvements assist in funding, though they are only available with the requisite technology.
As in many Medieval scenarios, there is very little in the way of actual technological advance during the period. In 750 AD, the best soldiers were wearing mail, scale, and using iron or crude steel weapons. One hundred years later, not much had changed. Battlefield articulation of the classical variety had vanished entirely, and been replaced by the "battle" system, which divided an army into left, right, and center (or vanguard, body, and rearguard). The purpose of variant units in this scenario is to represent the many types and nations that existed during the Carolingian era, not the acquisition of increasingly better types. All civs have an infantry and cavalry unit, some are better than others, and the Saxons are especially dangerous. All civs can, with the tech Archery, build the Archer unit, which has low defense strength, but good attack and firepower numbers, ideal for placing in a city with other troops to provide a counterattacking force. All civs will RARELY receive the Serfs/settler units by event, but there is the chance that, in a newly-conquered city, it might be set to build one. This is actually incorporated into the scenario. Historically, several Byzantine Emperors found regions that were well-populated, and then moved hundreds of thousands from one area to another within the Empire. With the acquisition of the Siege Warfare tech, the Franks receive the Siege Engineer, in the engineer slot. There is only one and it cannot be replaced, so be careful with it. The Siege Warfare tech also delivers the Siege Train unit to the Franks. One only again, so caution should prevail in its use. Both the Saxons and the Aenglish can field Huscarle units, that are elite infantry with good defense. The Aenglish will build these units, but the Saxons seldom do, even though they start out with one, that represents the original, pre-Widukind Saxon nobility. All nations can eventually build the various ships, but the Moslem civ has the Pirate available to build at start and does so. The Longboat unit is obsoleted early, but might appear on the seas near one of the less developed civs. The Roman/Byzantines have an Imperial Fleet unit, very powerful, yet very slow, that tends to roam the eastern waters. The Romans also have the two Land Wall units that guard the approaches to Constantinople. These are very high defense units with four hit points and four firepower. I suppose, with a large enough attacking force, these walls COULD be breached, which is the reason these were left as land units and able to be attacked. The Saxons and some barbarians will generate the Uprising unit, very strong on the attack, but weak on defense, and moves 2, representing the "element of surprise" in the typical Saxon uprising of the period. The Saxon unit is also in several barbarian cities at start, and may move out into play. There are two types of trade unit in the game; the Merchant and the Cargo. The Merchant unit is pretty standard, but the cargo represents cheap, bulk cargos that made for good long-term business, even though they don't net as much as the Merchants. They also only move 1, but are significantly less expensive than the Merchants. There are several leader units in the game, and some move (Charlemagne, Roland, Krum, Widukind), and some don't (The Pope, Arnulf, The Emperor, Abd-ar-Rahman). Krum and Widukind can each be very dangerous, but Krum is usually on the other side of the map harassing the Romans. There are two diplomat units in the game, both acquired only by events. The Missionary unit is designed primarily to bribe enemy cities, but each one is expended when this occurs. The Legate unit is the (Spy), with all the normal abilities and then some, but this one appears very infrequently. There is a Great Travellor unit in the game, but has no diplomatic abilities. It is only good for revealing hidden territory and diplomatically contacting other civs by travelling to them. The barbarians have a number of units, including four types of vikings, Avar foot and horse, and a number of horse raider units that all look alike but have different numbers. The barbarian ships all use the same graphic, but the final incarnation has an attack factor and might use it. Barbarian leader units are tougher than normal as they represent the household troops that a German warlord usually raised on his own. The barbarians also have the Impassable units, grouped in twos to prevent bribing. They're air units, and an appropriate message will appear if you accidentally bump into one with a unit. At almost the last minute, the Roland and Charlemagne units were added. These are powerful "core army" type units, with the former somewhat weaker than the latter.
The tech tree for AoCh is very short, and the paradigm is extremely high; 300/10. There are only a very few techs, and each one has a wonder, improvement, unit, or effect attached. Construction[Bride Building] allows bridge building and is the basic tech for most of the initial improvements. Local Cults[Ceremonial Burial] and Christianity[Monotheism] enable the Shrine[Temple] and Cathedral, respectively. Siege Warfare[Construction] allows fortress building and delivers a Siege Engineer[Engineer] and a Siege Train unit to the Franks when they discover it. Amalgamation[Mysticism] represents the fusion of Carolingian state and medieval church, enhancing the Shrine. Local Trade[Mapmaking] will allow the trading of maps. Shipbuilding[Seafaring] makes your ships more seaworthy and allows building of the Cog warship. Nautical Tradition[Navigation] also makes ships more seaworthy and allows the building of the Cargo trade unit. Seapower[Magnetism] also makes your ships more seaworthy and allows building the War Cog warship. Naval Architechture [Nuclear Power] gives ships +1 movement. Theology is unchanged, enhances Cathedrals and allows the building of the Patriarchate wonder. Trade is unchanged and enables the trade advisor. Early Renaissance[Philosophy] will create the message, give a free tech, and allow the building of the Early Renaissance wonder.
Historically, Charlemagne extended the boundaries of the Frankish medieval empire to its greatest extent. Most territorially adjacent states were absorbed into the empire, and the Pope on Christmas day 800 A.D. declared Charlemagne "Roman Emperor of the West." Though this was probably a statement more about a contemporary Empress in Constantinople, it's still an impressive title, even 1200 years later. But Charlemagne is also known for his attempt to revive classical learning and a somewhat cosmopolitan worldview. VICTORY is--1.) The conquest of; Thuringia (Fulda & Erfurt), Bavaria (all the south German cities north of the Alps), ALL the Saxon towns, the Frisians, Armorica, Barcelona, Saragossa, Tortossa, Milan, Pavia, Genoa, Florence, Bastia, Prague, Salamanca, at least Four of the slavic towns east of the Saxons, and either the destruction of seizure of Avar Ring. These cities must be taken while losing none of one's own, and 2.) Reach the end of the tech tree, completing at least one "future tech" AND build the Early Renaissance wonder in Paris. "FUN" VICTORY; For fun, try to conquer everything on the map, except the British Isles, by the scenario's end. On Deity.