Stronghold Crusader is a sequel to the game Stronghold which was set in medieval England or a place that resembled it. In Crusader, all the major players have gone to join the Crusade against the Infidels on the Holy Land. The game still focuses on combat and economy alike so not much else than the setting has changed.
Since we are on the Crusade, a few chaps have been added that were there or would have been there. The opponents you can play against (or with) are the Rat, the Snake, the Pig, the Wolf, Sultan, Caliph, Saladin, Nizar, Wazir, Marshal, Sheriff, Frederick, Richard and Philippe. Some of these are historical persons and some of these are fictionary while some represented positions rather than names.
The Rat, Snake, Pig and Wolf were already viewed in the review of Stronghold, so I won’t concentrate much on them here. The only note would be that when they are selected as your allies in-game, their messages are forwarded by a Knight of the Templars or Teutons.
Sultan was the usual title of the ruler of a Muslim country. There were quite many of these and they were considered as deputies or replacements of the Caliphs. Each Sultan carried both secular and spiritual powers. The territory a Sultan ruled was known as a Sultanate. In later periods, the Ottoman Empire is one of these and the Ayyubids Sultans in Damascus would be another good example. In-game, they are one of the weakest enemies one can find and they are known for rather buying things than manufacturing them themselves.
Caliph was the highest ruler on earth, in Muslim countries. A single Caliph ruled over the Caliphate for many years since the eruption of it in the seventh century. Then new Caliphs appeared in the different corners of the Caliphate.
Nizar itself bears a meaning as a name for a person in a religious Islamic Shiia sect. However, the group of assassins or Hashshashin was a group of the Nizariyya. The Nizariyya were the followers of aforementioned Nizar and they believed that he should have been the Caliph. That however didn’t happen and their rebellion was defeated. The Assassin part of their sect remained and that might be one of the reasons why the preferred type of units in SHC (Stronghold Crusader) for the Nizar is the Assassin.
Wazir is another name for the Vizier. Islamic lands knew many different positions for the Vizier and one of these was the Grand Vizier. The office first arose during the Abbasid Caliphate. From that time on, Viziers became common and powerful officials in Muslim states. They might have even led the state on the name of the Caliph or the Sultan.
Marshal is the same guy who fought with us in England, Sir Longarm. Now it seems he has been elevated in rank. Marshall was usually the title for the commanders of armed forces in medieval or imperial countries (the Field-Marshal for example). The Marshall enjoys the use of heavily armoured knights above all else.
Sheriff was, during the medieval ages, the man that kept order and peace inside the city. In SHC he appears as a pretty evil and greedy man, most probably designed to be similar with the Sherif of Nottingham from the Robin Hood tales. He favours the use of macemen and crossbows.
Frederick was the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire who committed himself to warring with the different Imperial Italian states that revolted against him. When the Pope arose the call for the Third Crusade, Emperor Frederick took up the journey by land. It was his doom that he did so, as he died in a mountain river where he sank with his armour on, when he had gone swimming. Therefore he never reached the Holy Land alive but his body was taken to Antioch where it was buried.
Richard was the king of England. He has often been named Lionheart (Cœur de Leon) for his deeds on battlefields. In reality he was also a very terrific and brutal king who stepped onto the soil of England only a few times. He took part of the Third Crusade, captured a few islands on the way there and managed to form a peace with the Muslims for some time.
Philippe has been pictured in the game as a weakling ruler but in reality he managed to make France more centralized kingdom than ever before. His feats in the Crusade were small however as he was constantly argueing with Richard of England over small things.
Saladin was a courageous Muslim lord, who fought with the Crusaders for many years. Many of his campaigns against different Crusader states proved decisive and it was he who conquered Jerusalem for the Muslims. In the game, he is one of the most difficult enemies to defeat.
The game is overall pretty much the same, except for the added features of Skirmish and Historical Campaign. There are four different ways for the Historical Campaign and each of them features a set of conquests by given side.
Almost nothing has changed in the way the game is played nor in it’s dynamics. Everything works the same way as it did earlier.
The units that were in the previous game haven’t been changed much excpet for the fact that the knight is wearing a shield with a red cross and sword or banner and that the maceman with his light armour now runs. However, new, Arabian units have been added for the new enemies that also arrived. The difference between Arabian and European units is that European need weapons and armour but the Arabians come for more the gold but for free as no weapons or armour is required.
Arabian archer is a little bit different from the European counterpart. He is more agile and even though he moves as quickly as his European friend, he shoots with almost double the speed but smaller range.
Slave is pretty much a cannon fodder unit. He wears a cloth and a torch and runs around burning things... And in the end, burning things (and digging moats) is the only thing these guys can do decently.
Slinger and his fellow rock can pack a punch on any army. Slingers were used all over Europe and Arabia but archers were more common than slingers. They have an unlimited amount of stones they can throw and they move speedily.
Assassin is a good unit for stealthy attacks. As is truthful, the enemy can’t see on until it is within a close distance. They can climb walls and towers but they can’t cross the moat.
Horse archer is the thing Arabians were famous for – arching ontop of a horse. When you recruit this archer-on-horse, you get a fast moving unit. And what is different from other games with horse archers but true to life is that the unit fires arrows while it moves.
Arabian swordsman is an unit that moves a little faster than the European but is also more lightly armoured. It is still a strong unit. These might have been among the most used infantry types for Arabs.
Fire thrower is a person who throws balls of fire down and sets the ground on fire. I think that these might have been used by Arabs but there is not certain evidence.
The Fire ballistae has been added to counter the European one. It needs two engineers and it can move, despite the European one still stands on towers.
The setting of this game is a little bit more attractive than it’s predecessor and it is more accurate although the older units are practically the same. The added features however make up for any lack in the historical accuracy.