In our quest to visit some of the game’s vintage battlefield locations, we find ourselves once again standing outside the gates of an iconic castle - this one a little more hospitable than the last.
Quietly dominant amongst a network of hamlets and backed against impassable peaks that feed into the region’s arterial river, Valley Fortress is as well situated as it is understated. Said to be built on the site of an ancient hill fort, the original Valley Fortress was a third of the size that it is today - having been extended twice by successive lords, to protect an ever-larger population drawn to the fertile valley and life-giving river. In times of siege, the locals rarely need to find sanctuary within its walls, due to the many hiding places in the surrounding hills. However, with its back against the mountainside, there’s also nowhere for the occupants to run when trapped by a relentless attacker - as those who live under its shadow are keenly aware.
For an attacker preparing to lay siege, Valley Fortress’s low outer walls might seem easily surmountable, perhaps even quaint. However, the fortress gatehouse and the buildings behind it are just the start of journey that only gets harder the further you progress.
That first step isn’t as easy as it looks, either: The gatehouse wall is well defended, with cannons staring directly at the siege towers either side. The west wall is similarly prepared to repel invaders, and while the east wall’s defences are comparatively inviting, there’s a considerable distance between the east wall and the first two control points.
PLAN OF ATTACK
- Whether you choose to focus your initial attack on the outer wall towards capturing point A (gatehouse) or B (the west wall), attacking the eastern side of the castle can be an effective way to create a diversion, or, if it’s lightly defended, to cause havoc behind enemy lines. Ideally, you will want to secure point A first, since you’ll be better able to sustain your assault and press ahead quickly on a map where it’s all too easy to become trapped.
- Once A or B (or both) are taken, the hard work begins. Taking Valley Fortress can seem like trench warfare, because, despite the relatively sprawling interior of the castle, there are only a few relatively narrow passageways and staircases linking its three sections. If you see an opportunity to advance, be wary, as there are a number of murder holes than can be used to decimate your units, especially en route to the final control point.
- If you can find a lightly defended path, don’t discount it, but try to attack in strength and depth, so you can consolidate your position as you move forward to reduce the enemy’s counter-attacking options.
- It’s very likely that any attack on the outer wall be very direct, so rather than trying to defend the entire wall, concentrate on holding the two control points at A and B. Both will fall before too long, but the longer you can hold off the enemy, the more time you will have bought to defend the final two control points, which is where the castle will be won or lost.
- If you’re hanging on to the outer wall (and to A and B in particular) and you have any mounted units in reserve, use them to counter-attack before the enemy can organise itself to push forward. The wide streets offer perfect terrain to stage a calvary ambush, just as the attacking force expects you to fall back.
- As the enemy moves towards point C and D, set up your defences around the stairs and archways that lead to the rear of the settlement, making sure to restrict the frontline so it can be defended by as small a force as possible. Use ranged units to fire into the densely-packed ranks of the enemy and if the attack falters, hold your ground and let the enemy come to you.