Note that some of the featured factions will not be included in the first release. These previews will be divided by factional groupings similar to Rome 2's style. Reposted from TWC team member Lord Giovanni.
Jizya Tax: +6% Tax Rate
Corsair Piracy: +50% Wealth from slaves
The Almohad Caliphate
Legacy of Cordoba: +10% Research Rate
Vanguard of Islam: +20% morale bonus when fighting members of a foreign religion
Perpetual Jihad: +30% Unrest from presence of foreign religions
The Almohads originated as a tribal confederation in the Atlas Mountains of Mauretania. Roughly a century ago, under the influence of the fiery preacher Ibn Tumart, the Almohads adopted an incredibly strict Islamic creed, coupled with a mandate to wage war against those who would not follow it, be they Christian or Muslim. The ruling dynasty of the Moors at that time belonged to the Almoravids, who had adopted much of the vibrant culture present in al-Andalus, or Islamic Spain. Cordoba was the seat of their empire, and the high education and culture (and, to an Almohad, other questionable influences) of that city had spread south back to North Africa.
Ibn Tumart and his new followers revolted against this atmosphere, and led an army of converted Almohad zealots and other rebels to overrun the Almoravid cities in Mauretania, before swinging north to conquer al-Andalus as well. Although the Almohads had rebelled against the culture of Cordoba, that city remains one of the great seats of learning in the Islamic world, and the Almohads recognize the value of it- so long as it has been purged of all infidel influences. The hatred of the Almohads to any who do not share their views means that their rule in cosmopolitan al-Andalus has not been an easy one, and only conversion of their subjects can ease the tension. In the meantime, the plight of the Christians under Almohad rule has increased the tenacity of the various Christian kingdoms to the north, who have attacked Almohad territory.
Almohad Caliph Muhammad al-Nasir has finally had enough of the upstart infidels to the north with their so-called "reconquista", and has assembled a massive army from his African domains, an army larger than any force ever assembled in Iberia, to conquer the Iberian Peninsula once and for all. Gripped with terror at the host bearing down on them, the Christian Iberian kingdoms have formed an alliance and marched all the forces they could muster south, to face him in open battle. The entire strength of both sides has been put into this engagement.
The time of reckoning has finally come, and the outcome of this battle will decide the fate of the Iberian Peninsula for all time.
The Ayyubid Sultanate
Sons of Saladin: +15% morale bonus when attacking
Guardians of the Holy Cities: +4 religious conversion rate
Mamluk Dependence: +15% recruitment costs for all non-cavalry units
The Ayyubids are arguably the foremost of all the Islamic ruling houses at this time. Their empire is massive, holding lands from Libya and Arabia to Damascus and Mosul. This is the legacy of the legendary king and general Salah al-Din, or Saladin, as he is known to the Franks. After uniting almost all of the Muslims of the Levant, Saladin crushed the crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem at the Battle of Hattin, and drove the crusaders from Jerusalem to the coast. When another crusade was launched to retake Jerusalem, Saladin faced the great warrior-king, Richard the Lionhearted, and fought him to a draw. When Saladin died in 1193, he was among the most powerful of all the kings of the earth. His subjects and successors have tried to emulate him ever since.
This has not been easy. Saladin did not structure his empire on a centralized model, but gave many of the regions that he acquired to his family members to rule. The years following his death have led to squabbles among his sons for who would control the empire. Although all of these different Ayyubid rulers nominally swear fealty to the Sultan in Cairo, they have begun to manage their affairs outside of his influence. The situation is becoming tense, and there are rumors that these other descendents of Saladin would seek to overthrow the current sultanate and found one of their own.
In order to maintain and extend his authority over his restive relatives, the current Ayyubid sultan, Al-Mansur, has begun to rely on powerful soldiers whose loyalty to him alone is unquestioned. He has found these soldiers in the Mamluks, powerful slave-soldiers purchased from the Turks and Cumans north of the Black Sea. These horsemen have proven to be utterly decisive on the field of battle, and only the Sultan has the wealth to maintain a strong standing force of them. Whether the other sons of Saladin rebel or another crusade is launched, the Mamluks will always be at the ready to defend and expand the Ayyubid realm.
Still, the increased dependence on the training and equipping of Mamluks that the sultan has set upon has made his efforts at raising other levies harder. There are also whispers at court that the Mamluks may try to exercise their power not just only at the sultan's enemies...
The Sultanate of Rum
Turkish Legacy: +2 XP ranks for all ranged cavalry
Steppe Horses: +20% movement range for all units
Harriers: -20% morale when defending
The Sultanate of Rum in Anatolia is the last remnant of the great empire of the Seljuk Turks, which once had dominated most of the Middle East. Wars and invasions for the past 200 years have laid that empire low, and now only the leading edge of the Turkish conquest retains that glorious identity. The Turks have had to deal with successive waves of Christian offensives through Anatolia, but each time they have managed to maintain their holdings. At the same time, however, expansion has been slow, with the Byzantine coastal territories receiving reinforcements from the Byzantine territories in Europe.
The arrival of the Latin crusaders in 1204 has been a great, if unexpected, boon for the Turks. The Byzantine Empire is no more; the heartland of Byzantium has been ripped from it, and now a series of disjointed successor states are in the empire's place. No longer unified and coordinated, these realms will surely prove easy pickings for the expansion of Turkish power. The Turks have already conquered more territory that was formerly Byzantine, and more conquests are sure to come. With the great Ayyubid empire to the south teetering on the brink of collapse and civil war, the Turks can expand in any direction from their central enclave, ready to be the harbingers of the next great Islamic empire.
The Turks are master horsemen, and their harrying tactics of horse archers have won countless victories against Persians, Byzantines, Arabs and crusaders. The flip-side to these mobile tactics is that the Turks do not see a great necessity in taking and holding ground, and are all too ready to engage in false retreats against aggressive foes, until they are strong enough to counterattack and drive them back. Although this method has served them well strategically, it is at the expense of the tactical level.