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Recap / Age of Empires II Vlad Dracula

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History forged an incredible legend, in 15th century Wallachia. A man alone, cruel, sharp and just, stepped out to take over his country and lead a bloody war against the invading Turks. His ruthless methods and bloody ways strike fear in the heart of both friends and foes, making him the most feared man in Eastern Europe. However, will this be enough to fight the relentless Ottoman Empire?

This was the only Forgotten Campaign who was merely reworked a little in Definitive Edition rather than being overhauled.

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The player is in control of Turks, Magyars and Slavs, the color being Red.

Scenarios:

The Dragon Spreads his Wings

Young Vlad Dracula spent his youth in exile at the court of Sultan Murad, far from his homeland of Wallachia. Now that he has come of age, he's ready to return and move against his rival, Vladislav II of the Danesti. Knowing very well that his meager amount of troops won't be enough, Dracula has to seek the help of the three local Voivods in order to defeat Vladislav and reclaim what's his.

The Return of the Dragon

Forced to flee to Moldavia, Dracula observes from the shadows as Vladislav II betrays his country and allies with the Ottomans. Following the advice of King Bogdan II of Moldavia, Dracula travels to Castle Bran, on wary of Danesti troops, in order to take control of the Order of the Dragon, a powerful order of Knights willing to espouse the Draculesti cause. With the help of the local Wallachian villages, Dracula must take control of Bran Castle, build a solid base and ally with Hungary in order to deliver a crushing defeat to Targoviste, Vladislav's stronghold.

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The Breath of the Dragon

Vladislav is dead, and Dracula takes over Wallachia, ruling his people with an iron fist, eradicating the criminals and slaying the treacherous Boyars in his court. Soon, the Dragon is stronger than ever, ready to exhale his fiery breath at the Turks: the Ottomans rule the nearby city of Giurgiu and have a well-guarded and well-fed garrison in Darstor, just across the river. Dracula is determined to take over the city and destroy the Turks there.

The Moon Rises

Dracula achieved a great victory at Giurgiu, destroying the nearby Turkish stronghold and razing all those towns who dared to support them. However, these victories did nothing to quell his incredible hate towards the Ottomans, nor they dissuade Mehmet II from trying again. To further instigate Dracula's campaign, not only the Pope and the King of Hungary have ordered a total war against the Turks, but Dracula's own brother Radu is serving the enemy. As a force of 18000 Turks slips into Wallachia, they find Dracula's mighty fortresses standing in the way. Will these castles being enough to repeal the massive Turkish army?

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The Night Falls

At first, the Wallachian defenses built by Dracula seemed unstoppable, but the Turkish armies were far more powerful and stubborn than expected, forcing Dracula to flee Poenari Castle by boat, swearing revenge. Thanks to a fortuitous landslide, twelve years passed, and the Dragon returns from the Carpathians, bringing a huge Magyar army. The Turks will finally meet their end outside Tagoviste, along with the forces of their puppet king Basarab Laiota. If a base for the Hungarians is secured, then the combined forces of Magyars and Wallachians are sure to be able to crush the pesky Turks once and for all, releasing Romania of this nightmare.

This Campaign contains examples of:

  • Adaptation Distillation: In Definitive Edition, many scenarios are greatly simplified, and the scenario parts which were, essentially, filler cutscenes were removed. For example, the first scenario immediately starts with Dracula in Wallachia, the three quests needed to obtain the Voivod's help are simplified and the final part with the unstoppable Hungarian army is removed. That being said, other scenarios are more faithful to the original.
  • Adapted Out: Istvan, Danislav and Jakub are much less relevant in DE, serving only as objectives in the first mission, not as party members or anything else.
  • All Crimes Are Equal: No matter what the criminal actually did, Dracula's go-to answer was to impale. Ouch.
  • Animal Motifs: Dragons for Dracula, of course, as seen in the earlier scenario names.
  • Ax-Crazy: Vlad Dracula means well, but enjoys staking a little too much.
  • Bad Boss: The fourth scenario has things such as Dracula slaying a monk for flattering him unrighteously and burning down defenseless Wallachian villages. Downplayed in DE, where the former event doesn't even happen and while you are advised to destroy the Wallachian villages before they turn on you, you can just recruit more troops to protect them and keep the flow of resources steady.
  • Big Bad: Vladislav II for the first part, before being quickly substituted by Mehmet II, Ottoman Sultan.
  • Downer Ending: Best seen in the fourth scenario, where Dracula's attempted assault on the Turkish base ends in a defeat and ultimately Dracula himself is captured by the Turks and executed. In DE, it becomes an Hope Spot... only for Dracula to meet his end in battle as he charges the retreating Turks after defeating their base at Tagoviste.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Hungary in the first scenario supports Vladislav II. In the second scenario they're neutrals, but if you reach Imperial Age and give them enough food, they'll ally with you. In the following scenario, they will send you a generous amount of cavalry to help you and in the last scenario, Hungary is once again on your side in fighting the Turks and Basarab Laiota.
  • Hold the Line: The fourth scenario has you defending three different fortresses, each with her own location, defenses and garrison, against three encroaching armies. While the Forgotten version has also a battle sequence which basically amounts to an interactive cutscene, DE plays this straighter by having you win the scenario as soon as the timer runs out and the Turks are seemingly forced to retreat.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Vlad makes an example of the fallen enemies and prisoners by impaling them on giant stakes.
  • Kick the Dog: The fourth mission has Dracula killing a monk who flattered him and later destroying defenseless Wallachian villages who were coerced into helping the Turks.
  • Kill the Poor: Dracula's answer to vagrancy was to round up all the beggars and cripples, imprison them in the same building, then setting fire to the building. Ouch.
  • Made a Slave: When the corrupted Voivods give Dracula unsatisfying answers, he takes them all to Poenari Castle and force them to restore the fortress brick by brick until they all die of fatigue.
  • Perspective Flip: DE does one by changing the character who "knew" Dracula to a peasant soldier who fought alongside Dracula. The DE narration emphasizes the popularity Dracula had among the peasantry, while leaving out or justifying the more unsavory things he did. DE also implies that the peasantry did not know the "true" Dracula, while the HD narration includes quotes from the man himself and a closer look at him, Warts and All.
  • Puzzle Boss: Darstor in the third scenario is powerful and well-fortified, but needs a constant supply of resources from the neighbouring Slavs and Bulgar villages. If you manage to take them down, their production will slowly come to an halt and you can have an easier victory over them.
  • Shout-Out: The old man (and former soldier) met by the narrator looks dangerously like the vampire Dracula described by Bran Stoker (though at least he's shown commanding wolves through food rather than sorcery).
  • Smug Snake: King Vladislav II, especially in DE, where he constantly hurls insults and threats from his fortress.
  • Starter Villain: Vladislav II of Danesti is the first main antagonist. Once he's disposed of, Dracula has to face his nemesis Mehmet II.
  • Sudden Gameplay Change: All over the place in the original HD campaign, which features in-game cutscenes, stealth missions, tactical battle sequences and a Risiko-like feature in the second scenario.
  • Villain Has a Point: Dracula's methods are inhuman and cruel, for sure, but at least Wallachia does become stronger and crime-free.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: One way to see Dracula (the old soldier in the DE narration sees him this way), unless you want to consider him a full-blown Villain Protagonist.
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