On this forum there have been a lot of discussions of how the Eastern Roman Empire/Byzantines should work. However, I have been thinking about what the concept should be for a possible single player campaign.
Given the time period that AoE4 covers I believe the most interesting period to cover would be the Komnenian Restoration (1071-1135). Besides its historical significance it also has a number of narrative elements that could make for a great campaign.
- During this period the Empire fought a wide diversity of enemies such as the Normans, Seljuks, Pechenegs and Venetians
- It would have a great narrative arc. The first few missions would see Alexios Komnenos in an underdog position and keeping the empire alive by all means necessary. The middle would focus on the first crusade from the Byzantine perspective. The latter part would cover the reign of John II Komnenos as he reconquers and solidifies the empire.
- It is a very underrepresented historical period which means not everyone knows the story yet.
Intro: Current state of the Empire
1. Battle of Manizkert (1071)
In this massive battle Alexios commands a small unit of soldier that have to escape after the horrible route. (fictitious)
Gameplay: In this mission we should see the ERE army being destroyed by the Seljuqs of Alp Arslan. The young Alexios has to lead a small force out of the map while avoiding destruction by the Seljuqs.
2. Subdueing Roussel de Bailleul (1078)
In this mission the Alexios has the defeat the rebellious Norman knight (French) that has created a petty kingdom in Anatolia.
Gameplay: This mission can be somewhat straight forward introduction to ERE mechanics
3. Overthrow of Nikephoros III Botaneiates (1081)
This can be a heavily narrative mission taking place in Constantinople. In the first part of it the player will need to control Anna Komnenos and her sons to escape the emperor. By the end they would bribe/persuade some troops to open the gates, letting Alexios in and proclaiming him emperor.
4. Battle of Levounion ( 1091 )
In this mission Alexios has to defeat a massive Pecheneg (Mongol reskin) invasion. By hiring Cuman, Frank and Flemish mercenaries Alexios was able to achieve a massive victory that ended the Pecheneg threat for a time and gave the Empire space to recover
Gameplay: The player would have to control his army while collection the various mercenaries in time to catch the Pechenegs off guard
5. Siege of Nicea (1097)
During the siege Alexios supplied the Crusaders while also negotiating the surrender of the city to the ERE. A great perspective from Alexios to play.
Gameplay: This would be somewhat of a stealth mission combined with a focus on Naval gameplay.
6. Siege of Dyrrhachium (1107)
Relations between the Normans (French) and Alexios had never been that great. When Bohemund of Taranto didn’t want to swear fealty to Alexios and handover Antioch the two went to war. Bohemund besieged the city of Dyrrhachium in the Balkans to force Alexios to surrender. However through a use of Greek Fire and spreading disease Alexios was able to defeat Bohemund and lead to the Treaty of Devol.
Gameplay: Burning down the Norman siege camp with Greek Fire.
7. Battle of Philomelion (1116)
After the first Crusades success the ERE was able to advance against the Seljuks. In this battle the ERE was able to win and force a peace with the Seljuqs.
Gameplay: A combination of defending the Seljuq onslaught while fulling employing the power of the cataphract cavalry.
8. Battle of Beroia (1122)
John II succeeded his father and would continue his work. However, the Pechenegs started to raid the ERE again. John II utterly defeated the Pechenegs, resettling them as farmers in the Empire.
Gameplay: No sure but it should centrally focus on the Varangian Guard charge
9. War with the Hungarian and Serbs
Of these conflicts there are very little historical detail except that they were fought along the Danube. The Hungarian and Serbs were eventually defeated, pacifying the western border
Gameplay: Given the lack of writing on this war developers can get very creative. I would say a mixed mission on water and land in which various fortresses have to be captured.
10. Reconquest of Anatolia (1130-1135)
This mission should reflect the reconquest of Anatolia by John II and the restoration of the empire pre-Manizkert.
Gameplay: This final mission should mirror the opening battle of Manizkert. The ERE retakes the Manzikert fortress and the order border towns that are lost.
End: The Empire is restored to its height of power
Final note: This campaign could one day be followed by a fall of Constantinople campaign from the perspective of the Venetians and other Western powers