The Moors Guide
Islamic presence in Iberia has lasted over 3 centuries at the start of the Medieval II Total War time frame.
All is not lost though, at long last the Moorish people have regained some semblance of unity under the Almoravid dynasty and victory against the Spanish Catholic coalitions has brought renewed hope for the Muslim people. United for the first time in over half a century, they are a mighty empire stretching from western Africa to southern Iberia.
As the Moors, you start out with 4 settlements as one of the bigger factions in the game. Your position is very secure, of your 4 starting settlements only your capital Cordoba is under any sort of risk any time soon. Algiers and Granada start out as wooden castles whilst Cordoba is a minor city and Marrakesh a large town.
3 rebel settlements are next to your starting position and ripe for the taking. Valencia is on the eastern coast of Iberia, Tunis is straight east of Algiers and Timbuktu is in the middle of the Sahara desert. Avoid Tunis at the start as Sicily will almost certainly head over there right off the start and a two front war is never a good idea in the very beginning. But the distance between Algiers and Tunis should keep them from attacking you anytime soon.
The Saharan settlement of Timbuktu should be you first major target. It is a huge advantage to hold it as it is by far the best single trade resource province in the game. With 5 highly profitable resources: (2 gold, 2 ivory, 1 slave). If you've never been there before it might be hard to find on the map, but if you look at the very bottom of the map you should see a river, and there you should see a slave resource. The town is right next to the slave resource. Right off the start, it is held by a smallish stack of African soldiers and a unit of Taureg camels. Valencia is held by a relatively stronger stack led by El Cid.
Spain starts directly north of your capital with 2 settlements, Portugal also starts with 2 settlements but they're separated. Spain poses the bigger threat of the two by a good margin.
You have a few ways to approach the start. Calling a Jihad right away against Toledo could settle the Iberian situation almost immediately, as it would completely cripple Spain and it also gives you the highest starting level castle in the area. It is however a little risky as you'll be sieging a stone wall Castle with nothing but lightly armoured troops. Or you could choose to just take the Rebel settlements first and build up.
I have written up the opening moves for the early Jihad, accomplishing all 3 of my early goals at the same time. (Probably within 15-20 turns)
- Take Toledo, thus effectively gaining an overwhelming dominance on Iberia
- Take Timbuktu, securing my major cash cow.
- Acquire a Hashashim guild at Cordoba. Effectively giving me one of the best foot swordsmen in the game very early.
Take your faction heir and all the garrison out of Marrakesh, (leave 1 town militia of course) and merge with the armies you have standing near the straits of Gibraltar. Take all your cavalry and your general from Algiers and head south towards Timbuktu (I usually build some towers along the way) build a merchant, diplomat and port at Cordoba and build roads everywhere else. March your starting spy towards Toledo area, march your starting diplomat to Portugal for trade rights. March your starting Imam south towards Timbuktu.
Call a Jihad with your starting Imam. Join with your faction heir's army and move up. At Cordoba build as many spear militia as possible. Move whatever you have at Granada minus a minimal garrison towards the Jihad. Build land clearance at Granada / Algiers / Marrakesh. Send your 2 diplomats running through the various factions in Europe to get trade rights. You could add a 3rd diplomat to head towards Egypt at some point of your leisure. Head your Merchant down towards Timbuktu as well.
Your Jihad should be near Cordoba, move whatever you could afford to the Jihad, and leave our Sultan there with 1-3 units. Build a brothel at Cordoba.
Marching towards Toledo, hire whatever Ghazis you can in Cordoba and later in Toledo.
Turn 5 and beyond
From here on obviously, siege Toledo and Timbuktu when you reach them. For Toledo you probably want to head-on assault, (I suggest auto resolve as it tends to be more favourable to you in vanilla than actually trying to assault it yourself) for Timbuktu once you reach the gate hire as many Sudanese tribesman as you can. I would probably wait out this one as it doesn't take as long as you don't have enough infantry. In Cordoba build an Inn after your brothel is finished and train assassins and go after those random priest / heretic / captains or sabotage churches until you get the Hashashim guild. Everywhere else; focus on economic buildings.
Marrakesh should be a major cash cow as well as Cordoba. Because Granada starts out as a very small wooden castle with almost nothing you could consider converting it to town, especially since Valencia is also a wooden castle. Keep Algiers as a Castle until later stages. It should be your main troop producer in the early going, tech up the military tech tree in that settlement.
Once you taken Timbuktu, there is another small village to the west in Arguin. It also has a lot of natural resources (not quite as much but still considerable) it has the potential to build ports but in the vanilla version of this game no sea trade will happen despite building ports, because the only ships that could sail to it are the late game ocean going version. Rebels will be a problem for both of these provinces throughout the game but they still make you a nice sum. Keep a smallish army around one of the towns and just kill whatever rebels that show up. To the north of Valencia is the rebel town of Zaragoza. Though unless you headed toward Valencia in the very early going it is more than likely that either Spain / Portugal / France own it.
You should now have Toledo and Timbuktu along with a Hashashim guild, set up to take the village of Arguin from Timbuktu, and start the final phase of your Islamic reconquista. Take out Leon first and finish off the Spaniards (should be little resistance left), and then take out Lisbon and/or Valencia, before finishing off the remaining two settlements. Economic wise just make sure you get merchants on all the resources in Arguin and Timbuktu, after that it's just the usual build "whatever makes money" plan.
Once you do rule the Iberian Peninsula and west Africa, you should easily be one of the top 3 factions in every category. Your position is also very safe. From here move at your leisure. Typically Sicily should become a major target as they will by now most likely own Tunis, Tripoli and the islands in the western Mediterranean. The French are also an obvious target. As they'll probably be getting hit from all sides by now anyway. Another possibility is to sail to the British Isles and open up a new front there. I would usually start by looking to see if any of the island settlements are still unoccupied. If they are take it, soon enough Milan and Sicily will come knocking.
Egypt should be a partner for most of the game. Though after you have considerable holdings in Western Europe and Italy you need to move that way eventually. As Jerusalem is a victory required city. The Mongols and/or Timurids probably would have overrun them by then anyway.
As the Moors, you have a fairly interesting selection of troops, what initially looks like a bad rip off of a Spanish army could become great if properly used. Their biggest advantage is that almost all of their best troops could be build at cities, with the exception of Desert archers, Camel Gunners and Dismounted Christian guards. It's funny that the game description claims they have good early troops but poor late troops, when the truth is more like the other way around.
Ironically spearmen are maybe the weakest link for the Moors despite having a boatload of different types to choose from. They pretty much all range from fairly useless to useful with flaws. In the early goings the spear militia is good enough for whatever you need. Berbers are sergeant spearman with desert bonus but no armour upgrades. Nubians are higher tech but somehow suckier version of the Berbers. Dismounted Arab Cavalry are your only spearmen that could actually wear high level armour but they're smaller in unit size than other spearmen units with no formation ability. Lamtuna spearmen are your best spear unit and they have very good skill ratings. But being desert troops they could only wear up to leather armour. For all purposes just use Lamtunas if you can, Arabs / Berber if you can't, and the spear militia is obviously useful for their purpose.
The Moors get 3 different types of sword infantry and they range from WOW to OH MY GOD! All 3 should be used. Urban Militia are free upkeep in cities and are just a little weaker than dismounted feudal knights. They are one of the most cost effective infantries in this game and given the unattractive selection of spear units for the Moors they should form the bulk of your army from mid game on. Hashashim cost a lot but can be had very early (Before Urban) and they hit A TON. Only high level dismounted knights really stand a chance against them, and all you need is their guild. Getting the guild of course requires a bit more planning though. The Dismounted Christian guards which for some reason are statistically better than any other European knights, hilarious as that sounds, are probably THE best foot swordsman in this game... a few of these will make the Europeans look silly.
Archers / Crossbowmen
You get the desert archers fairly early, and they're one of the better archers in the game. While not quiet as good as longbows, they're not really far behind (and cheaper anyway). They're long range and pretty hard hitting and should be the staple of your army. Peasant crossbows are also fairly good, especially against heavier armoured troops. But desert archers are typically more effective against just about everything else (including melee) so your army should have a mix of these two. The foot gunner units you get are useless, especially once you get the camel gunners. So don't bother with them at all. You also get crossbow militia; while not quiet as good as peasant crossbowmen they're useful enough for siege defence. The Moors selection in this department is about average, it's better than their Iberian counterparts though, especially early game.
Moors selection of cavalry is actually fairly weak in the early going. The Arab cavalry is basically a mounted sergeant. The good thing is that they can be built in both cities and castles, and for an early city cavalry they're good. If you're going to use these guys make sure you use them in mass and remember that they're not knights, so don't hope for too much especially in melee. You could also build the Tuareg Camel riders in your castles from the caravan.
After that you get the Grenadine lancer, which are basically glorified mailed knights. Funny enough that your final cavalry selection completely flips the table and gives you the Christian guard, which are inexplicably the best knight in the game?!?! Not only are they statistically better than Chivalric knights but what's more unfair is that they could be built with nothing but Huge city walls. So ALL your settlements could produce these babies.
Moors start with desert cavalry, which isn't too shabby and can be very good when used wisely like all other javelins. The only problem is that their Iberian counterparts start with Jinetes, which are the same unit but lot better statistically. The Moors get their own Jinetes... but 2 levels higher up the tech tree and arguably WORSE statistically (but could be built in cities also). They get the Sudanese Javelinmen, which aren't any better than the normal Javelins and a lot worse than Almughavars. The Moors also get a mounted crossbowman at the highest archery range level and they're pretty good, better than the generic versions most Catholics get.
And then there are the Camel gunners. Which is in a world of it's own as some sort of 17th-19th century unit that somehow morphed back in time. They're just insane; all they require is the caravansary which also gives your citadel a trade bonus. (You also need at least one gunsmith in your realm) they cost a ton, but boy are they good.
Being one of the very few mounted musketeers in this game. (If you're playing without kingdoms, they're the ONLY mounted muskets in the game), they simply make a mockery of anything that comes their way. They are on par range wise with all the other long range missiles, while having the gunpowder bonus. They're especially hard hitting up close, a round of point blank muskets into the back of any engaged unit is a near guarantee of a rout.
However they do cost a TON (1000+ per piece) but by that stage of the game you should be drowning in money anyway, they simply kill anything in their path and rarely takes heavy casualties.
Moors have a very basic selection of artillery. Aside from the normal siege equipment that everyone gets they only have the ability to recruit grand bombards and cannons. Not exactly exciting by any means but they will be more than capable in siege assaults.
- For some reason the Moors' stable is completely useless, all their cavalry units can be acquired simply by having the castle / fortress / citadel upgrade with the exception of the Christian guard, which can be recruited with huge city walls anyway. So don't upgrade those and demolish any that you see.
- In general there aren't too many units that you need from the castles. So switch up your castles to towns and just keep a couple of them as troop producers.
- Make sure you have merchants on all your resource stacks in those two Saharan towns, they'll gain finance skills like crazy and a high finance merchant on those ivory / gold stacks typically makes well over 700-1000+ per turn with ease.
- Early stage is probably the hardest for the Moors as Spain / Portugal's early troop selection is simply better than yours. Make sure you out produce them on the map and hire mercenaries.
Moorish army can be extremely diverse. It's hard to have a single set formula of an army or plan, but the best advice you will need in the early stages, when you're facing tough opposition with a limited selection.
- Desert archers are your single biggest advantage against Spain and Portugal (and France too!) in the early stages your castles must tech to them and produce plenty.
- Desert cavalry aren't as good as Jinetes but they're important for your early success. The good news is that you don't even need a stable to build them so you could probably put more on the map then the Spanish could with their Jinetes. The trick to using these javelin cavalry in general is as your main line advances, start skirmishing on their flanks or even up front. This should break up their formation a little even with just a few volleys and give your melee line an edge as they collide. After this run them around the side and turn skirmish off, move close up and hit the biggest targets with all you got. Bodyguards / knights / heavy infantry should be your biggest priority. If they have extensive skirmishers / archers themselves you could consider just charging them immediately and use them as light cavalry first. If you use up all their ammo and the line is still not broken charge at their weaker links and hope the momentum and numbers will break them.
- Desert cavalry and Grenadine Jinetes are death bringers against the western European factions ( French / English / Scots / HRE /Danes etc.) They get into more trouble against the Italians (Pavise crossbows) and even more against the eastern factions (Horse archers) they're tricky to use and require a lot of micromanagement but the reward is amazing.
- One trick to remember is that gunners are especially effective close up and against tightly packed enemies. Aside from the obvious implications on the field (that you should move the gunners close once other troops engage and use them more like javelin cavalry.) One thing you could do is use them during siege assault / defence. On defence just place them at the gate and/or the bottleneck of an alley and laugh as their assault quickly turn into massive routs. You could put a cheap unit of spears ahead of them just in case. They'll take some friendly fire from the gunners though. On offense the trick similarly applies as you open up hole in the wall or gate and just march them close to the breach and fire through. And then have them march up the alley and shoot everything that stands before them (never let them melee though.)