The Saracen civilisation in Knights and Barbarians represents the various caliphates and sultanates that were established in Arabia, Syria and Egypt during our timeline. In particular it focuses on the dominions of Salah-al-Din, later to become the Ayyubid Sultanate. Saracen lands were the birthplace of Islam, and religion would remain a driving force during much of the Middle Ages. The earliest, highly theocratic, caliphates managed to expand by taking advantage of the eternal struggle between the Byzantine and Sassanid Persian empires, striking when both empires had been weakened by years of struggle. The Rashidun and Umayyad Caliphates conquered all of Persia, as well as the coast of North
Africa, large parts of Iberia and Southern Italy, and nearly all non-European holdings of the Byzantine Empire, with the exception of Anatolia. After the Umayyads, the overstretched Islamic Empire started
to show cracks, first made obvious when the Abbasids succesfully supplanted the Umayyads in the Middle East and parts of North Africa, but failed to oust them from Spain and Morocco, where the Umayyads continued to be in power, setting in motion a continual divergence between the Saracens in the East and the Moors in the West. This split became so obvious that we even deemed it more reasonable to represent them as two completely different civilisations in Knights and Barbarians.
The Abbasid Caliphate also ended the long history of theocratic rule in the Muslim world, with secular empires becoming the norm, and a system developing where the secular states recognised the Caliphate as the highest authority on all theological matters while denying it any material powers, much like the relationship between the Catholic states of Europe and the Papacy. One of these secular states was the Ayyubid Sultanate, founded by one of the most famous figures in world history, Salah-al-Din, who is also the Saracens' AI personality in Knights and Barbarians. Salah-al-Din himself spent much of his life trying to unify the disparate Islamic states into a single empire, in which he largely succeeded. No attempts were made to conquer Moorish or Turk lands, but Salah-al-Din did manage to unify Arabia, Egypt and Syria, the three main centres of population in the Middle East. By doing so, he also captured the city of Damascus,the Saracen homecity in Knights and Barbarians, which had been a largely independent city state ever since being left by the Abbasid Caliphate. Eventually Salah-al-Din also managed to conquer much of the Holy Land, including the city of Jerusalem itself.
After the Ayyubid Sultanate collapsed, power in Egypt was taken over by the Mamluks, who managed to enlarge their empire by succesfully beating the Mongols back out of the Middle East through their victory at the Battle of Ain Jalut in 1260. Eventually the Mamluks came into conflict with therising Ottoman Empire, a war which the Mamluks lost so badly that the Ottomans were able to take control of all formerly Mamluk lands, and expand their reign to Arabia and Egypt. There would never again be an Arab-centred empire in the Middle East, and the Caliphate would become alargely Turkish affair in the centuries after the end of our timeline...
TheSaracens are part of the Muslim civset, which means they have the Race Track, as well as the Jihad system, which can supply them with some instant military units, the Qal'aat instead of the Castle, and the Bazaar system and its Merchants, allowing for economic flexibility. The Saracens start each game with 6 Peasants, 2 Crates of Food and 3 Crates of Coin.
The Saracens have a choice of the following three religions:
- Sunni Islam (main religion): + Priests move more quickly and cavalry units train more quickly, - infantry units have less hitpoints.
- Shia Islam (reformed religion): + enables a small coin trickle, - Lord has less attack and fewer hitpoints and moves more slowly.
- Judaism (outside religion): + villagers gather coin slightly faster, - Priests have fewer hitpoints, Priests move more slowly.
The bonuses of the Saracens serve to make them a very rugged civilisation that is capable of bouncing back from enemy raids and attacks with relative ease. It also makes them a highly mobile civilisation, prefering active defence over hiding behind walls, and able to move to all corners of the map fairly quickly. These bonuses also make the Saracens a civilisation that can pretty much ignore enemy raids, and can break them very easily.
- The Saracens have mobile House Wagons instead of Houses
This bonus gives the Saracens some mobility, and makes sure they can
adequately defend their population levels, simply by moving their houses
out of danger. It also frees their villager units up for resource
gathering, as House Wagons are trained rather than built. As an added
bonus, House Wagons can also be garissoned by economic units, so that
these can then be quickly transported to far-away resources, or be moved
well clear of any perilous situations.
Saracen Peasants have more hitpoints and a greater attack against infantry than those of other civilisations
This bonus gives the Saracens some easy protection from raids, with Peasants
that can soak up a lot more damage before succumbing to it than those
of other civilisations. This gives the Saracens the time to either move
their Peasants to safety, or to bring in their military units in order
to break the raid. A less impressive raid can even be broken by Peasants
themselves, without any help from dedicated military units.
The Saracens have an extra villager unit, the Slave
This bonus provides the Saracens with a cheap extra villager unit that is
not even remotely as good a unit as the Peasant, but that is a nice
stop-gap measure to boost the Saracen economy, and a certain economic
boost in the earlier stages of the game.
Saracen buildings cost coin instead of wood
This bonus gives the Saracens an edge in resource gathering, as they can
focus on gathering food and coin, having to pay very little attention to
wood, particularly early in the game. It is even possible for the
Saracens to rely entirely on Tree Patches for their wood if they
strategically choose the units they train, so they do not have to
venture outside of their base at all in search of wood.
Saracen buildings spawn Mujahideen when they are destroyed
This bonus gives the Saracens some extra defensive capabilities. The more
succesful an enemy is in attacking a Saracen base, the more ferociously
the Saracens can fight back. Mujahideen are not exceptionally strong
units, but they provide a very decent active form of defence for the
Saracens, and can significantly slow down an enemy advance into the
- Man-at-Arms (Barracks, II)
- Mujahid (Race Track, II), becomes available by selecting "Encourage Holy Warfare" at the Race Track. Also spawns when a building is destroyed
- Spearman (Barracks, II)
- Tabardariyya (Barracks, III), unique to the Saracens. More of an offensive unit than the Halberdier it replaces
- Archer (Archery Range, II)
- Naffatun (Archery Range, III), unique to the Saracens. Less of a defensive unit than the Crossbowman it replaces, but far better against buildings
- Skirmisher (Archery Range, II)
- Hand Gunner (Barracks, V)
- Light Cavalry (Stables, II)
- Ghulam (Stables, III), unique to the Saracens. Faster but slightly weaker than the Knight it replaces
- Cavalry Archer (Stables, III)
Artillery and Siege Units
- Sapper (Siege Workshop, II)
- Ballista (Siege Workshop, III)
- Catapult (Siege Workshop, III)
- Ram (Siege Camp, II)
- Mantlet (Siege Camp, II)
- Siege Tower (Siege Camp, III)
- Bombard (Siege Workshop, V), becomes available after researching Black Powder
Other Land Units
- Militia (Race Track, I), becomes available by selecting "Encourage Self-Defence" at the Race Track
- Lord (I)
- Peasant (Town Center, I)
- Slave (Town Center, I), unique to the Saracens. Weaker than the Peasant, but also much cheaper
- Fellah (Manor, I), unique to the Saracens. More powerful than the Farmer it replaces
- Priest (Church, II)
- Bishop (Church, III), first has to be unlocked through the HC
- Dog (Manor, I)
- Fishing Boat (Docks, I)
- Cog (Docks, II)
- Galley (Docks, III)
- Carrack (Docks, IV), becomes replaced by the Gun Carrack after researching Black Powder