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Recap / Age Of Empires II Saladin

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Outraged that the Holy Land is ruled by Saracens, zealous European knights have descended upon the Middle East and carved out four Crusader kingdoms. A Saracen general, Saladin, rallies his troops in an attempt to drive back the invaders. In response to European vileness, the cultured Saracens have become ruthless. But will that be enough to save their homeland?

The player is in control of the Saracens, the color being Green.



1. An Arabian Knight

Saladin was a cultured leader of the Saracens who in spite of the less-than-flattering portrayals from the West, preferred art and architecture over conquests, and yet he's focused on the conflict to come. Cairo was considered to be a valuable prize for the Crusader kingdoms, and Saladin was sent to aid the wealthy, yet ineffectual leader of the city. In time, Saladin successfully drove out the Franks and allowed those opposed to his rule to leave the city in peace, then went to work on a series of construction projects in order to win over the populace.

2. Lord of Arabia

There had been shakeups in the political boundaries of Arabia as a result of three crusades, and there were four Crusader kingdoms who were all caught off-guard by the conflicts in Cairo to suggest a treaty with the Saracens. In the space of fifteen years, the terms of the treaty had been violated by French leader Reynald de Chatillon when he initiated a series of raids into Arab trade routes. Furthermore, he sought to threaten the holy cities of Medina and Mecca, and also had the city of Aqaba within his sights. Saladin sought to kill the Frenchman over this treachery while keeping the cities safe from harm.


3. The Horns of Hattin

The Saracens were seeking to intercept a force of Europeans escorting their relic, the piece of the True Cross, in an effort to put a blow to Crusader morale. Separating the two armies was a pair of peaks called the Horns of Hattin, with a single pool of water nearby under Saracen control. They sought to coax the Crusaders into fighting by pouring vessels of water downhill and within sight. It was here that the Saracens won and took several European knights prisoner, one of them Reynald de Chatillon, who would meet his death in the hands of the enraged Saladin.

4. The Siege of Jerusalem

Because of Jerusalem's status of being holy to the three Abrahamic religions, Saladin understood that the results of the Crusades hinged on assuming control of the city and its surrounding areas. He also understood that because of said status, he would dare not destroy a single shrine lest he would be seen as a petty occupier rather than a hero by the general populace.


5. Jihad!

In time, Crusader influences within the region were waning; the Crusaders kept losing out in the open, and with the conquest of Jerusalem three Crusader city-states remain: Tiberias, Tyre and Ascalon. While Europeans couldn't successfully fight out in the open, and in spite of the cities' now-diminished status, the three were still heavily fortified. After several years of victories out in the open, Saladin sought to put a stop to all this by besieging the great fortifications of the Crusader city-states. The years of fighting had also taken its toll on the Saracens, where the love of culture made way for the resolute focus of war.

6. The Lion and the Demon

After the fall of the Crusader kingdoms, news of Jerusalem had spread in European lands and the forces of England, France and the Holy Roman Empire sent several troops in an effort to reclaim it. Richard the Lionhearted was recognized by Saladin as his most formidable foe, since Richard was a proven tactician on the battlefield. He had landed near Acre and assaulted its walls with his trebuchets, seeking to reclaim the city of Jerusalem afterwards. Saladin knew that the conflict will be all or nothing, since the reclamation of Jerusalem would only mean more fighting for years to come.

This campaign contains examples of:

  • Artistic License – History:
    • Saladin was in Cairo, but he was just serving under his uncle Shirkuh at the time. The conflicts for Cairo did take place over fifteen years, and Shirkuh actually did put the vizier of Cairo to death after liberating it for the last time. Relatedly, Saladin only gained notoriety after the Battle of Hattin, not before.
    • The battle of Hattin in-game makes it seems that the True Cross was the pivotal point of the battle. In truth, Saladin specifically besieged Tyberias in order to lure the Crusaders into the desert, where they'll be more vulnerable and easily dispatched, stuck in the middle of the desert with no water nor resources. The conquest of the fragment of the True Cross was a bonus.
    • Ashkelon and Tiberias actually fell to the Saracens before Jerusalem.
    • "The Lion and the Demon" took place during the Siege of Acre, and while Saladin ultimately prevailed over Richard the Lionhearted through a war of attrition, Acre was lost and Saracen morale took a steep drop as a result. What actually happened was that Saladin made some strategic attacks in English positions that it forced Richard to make a treaty before he would be able to reach Jerusalem.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: Tyre in Jihad! will only produce ships and, occasionally, send a few bombard cannons on the mainland to attack you. However, in spite of their mighty island fortress, once you manage to take care of the fleet, they're a sitting duck, since (unlike Tyberias and Ashkelon), they have nowhere to run and reform on the map.
  • Dirty Coward: The Egyptian Califate in the first scenario: he's afraid of Saladin's army, will side with the Franks to stop you but will immediately apologize and switch sides again if you bring as much as one soldier outside the main mosque.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: Downplayed, though Byzantine are used to represent both the Kingdom of Jerusalem and the Genoese in the final level. Definitive Edition apports minor changes, namely using actual Italians for the Genoese and, in the third scenario, using the Franks for the troops of Jerusalem.
  • It's Personal: Arc Villain Reynald de Chatillon brings Saladin's ire on himself with his acts of gratuitous violence and piracy. Reynald himself swears revenge at the end of the second scenario, only to be captured and killed at the end of the third one.
  • Noble Demon: How the narrator perceives and describes Saladin across the campaign. The last scenario is even titled "The Lion and the Demon".
  • The Siege:
    • In the fourth scenario you must lay siege to Jerusalem and conquer the city: unusually, you only have to destroy the five towers without destroying a single religious building inside the walls, or you will lose. Furthermore, your german enemies are situated in camps outside the walls, making them easy prey.
    • The final battle takes place in the besieged Acre, where you have to build a Wonder while you're surrounded and attacked by English, Genoese, Franks, Templars and the Kingdom of Jerusalem, all sporting powerful troops and siege weapons such as trebuchets, bombard cannons and siege rams.
  • Wolfpack Boss: Jihad has you fighting a coalition of three, well-defended cities which will send troops by land and by sea to stop you.
  • Worthy Opponent: What Saladin saw in Richard the Lionhearted. Even while Richard lost, the two leaders had mutual respect and had a treaty allowing Christian pilgrims to visit the city of Jerusalem.
  • Zero-Effort Boss: Tripoli Guards from Jihad will, after a set amount of time, rush your fortified city with a rather meager troop of knights, crossbowmen and a couple of siege weapons. You can easily defeat them by going defensive.


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