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Stronghold: Crusader is the successor to Firefly Studios's 2001 game Stronghold. Crusader has much in common with the original Stronghold, but differs from its predecessor in the fact that the game is no longer set in a pseudo-Europe, instead being set in the Middle East during the Crusades. The game features several new Arabian units that can be purchased in a new building, the mercenary post. Though the Arabian troops do not require any resources to produce, they are rather expensive. The game was also released as Stronghold Warchest. This version was a compendium of Stronghold and an enhanced version of Stronghold: Crusader, containing additional characters and an additional Crusader Trail.

Stronghold Warchest was only released in North America, meaning players in the rest of the world have never encountered the second Crusader Trail, or second set of characters. This changed when an updated version of Stronghold Crusader, Stronghold Crusader Extreme was released in early 2008.


Stronghold Crusader features several real-time strategy campaign strings. These document the First, Second and Third Crusade, as well as conflicts within the individual Crusader states. Each campaign comprises several battles, such as Niceamarker, Heraclea, siege of Antioch, Krak des Chevaliersmarker and the Siege of Jerusalem. The game also features the Crusader Trail, a series of 50 linked missions against various opponents. Stronghold Warchest adds two more Crusader Trails, one consisting of 30 linked missions and an Extreme Trail consisting of 20 linked missions.


The gameplay is similar to the original Stronghold, the major difference being that the game is set in the Middle East. As a consequence, farms can only be built on oasis grass, which leads to rivalry among players for limited farmland and resources. The game adds new AI opponents (the number depending on the version of the game) and several new Arabian units purchasable from a mercenary post. The color of the player's units have also been changed from blue to red in order to match the colors of the Knights Templar.


The game contains several different characters, available to be selected as allies and enemies. The opponents from the original game make a return, as well as new Arabian lords and crusaders being available.

  • The Rat(Duc de Puce): The Rat was raised as an only child in lands belonging to the de Puce family. The duke showed his mother favour ensuring that she never paid taxes and always had enough to get by. One day a messenger came by and it was revealed that his father was the same Duc de Puce whom his mother had once worked for as a serving wench. Due to an unfortunate accident the entire de Puce family had been lost at sea whilst returning from holiday leaving the Rat as next in line to inherit the title of Duke. The Rat is the least experienced lord, and is terrible at running his castle

  • The Snake (Duc Beauregard): The Snake was once governor of some of the richest provinces in the homeland where he made an extremely fruitful living from underdeclaring the taxes he collected but, when the king found out, he had him posted here to the 'new colonies'. During one of his first military encounters, he went up against the Lord’s father losing an eye to him in combat. On that day the Snake swore he would not rest until the decapitated heads of your entire family were lined up on spikes outside his keep. He uses tricky and underhanded tactics, and prefers to use mercenaries to do his dirty work.

  • The Pig (Duc de Truffe):When the Pig was born it is rumoured he looked so hideous that his parents abandoned him in the street. Whatever the case, it is known that he was taken in by a group of traveling bandits who raided small towns and villages throughout the homeland. Whilst growing up with this small army of rogues he was vastly underfed; however, after developing a crude but effective understanding of basic military tactics and being nominated as their leader, the Pig made sure that he had first call on the best foods after each raid and has overeaten ever since. He is quite tough, and won't go down without a fight. The Pig sticks to macemen and crossbowmen, and is master of dairy and leather.

  • The Wolf (Duc Volpe): The Wolf's past is shrouded in mystery and what is known of his history is mainly patched together from stories and unreliable rumours alone. This aside, it is believed that both his parents died from natural causes in close succession shortly after his eighteenth birthday. He holds his castle in an iron grip, and will be quite a hard foe to defeat.

  • Richard the Lionheart: The Lionheart has a reasonable grasp of the region's economy for a soldier, but it is in the field of battle where he is in his element. Brave and fearless, his ability to siege a castle is second to none. He is a very noble lord, and prefers strong, heavily armored, and somewhat slow troops for his attacks.

  • Saladin: More than any other Lord, Saladin knows how to run the desert economy. He will be in no great rush to lead his forces out into the field, but when he strikes, it will be from a position of power. He is the only lord who is smart enough to use the best towers, and he is very good at becoming fabulously wealthy, and spending it all at once on a devastating attack. If you are having trouble, simply knock down his walls and burn all his bakeries- they will catch fire quickly and spread even faster.

  • The Caliph: Cruel and vindictive, the Caliph is skilled at bringing misery to both his own people and to yours. If he can get his tyrannical act together, his underhand methods of fighting will prove a constant thorn in your side. Beware his early-game use of Slaves that can level your agricultural and castle buildings if not protected.

  • The Sultan: The Sultan is more...say...a poet, than a warrior, preferring feasting to the humdrum matters of running his own castle. In short not the sharpest sword in the desert. His people love him, however, and his soldiers will fight well to defend him. His castle is circular in shape with some scattered Scout Towers. The only threats he produces are Arabian Swordsmen and Fire Throwers.

The following characters only appear in Stronghold Warchest (though the first three are downloadable from the main site)

  • Philip II of France:King Phillip seeks glory and prestige from his desert adventure. His reckless insistence on the use of his knights as his main fighting force is more often than not, his undoing. Beware his hit-and-runs with Knights, although his sieges are quite mediocre.

  • Emperor Frederick: Emperor Frederick is perhaps the best alround strategist in the desert. There are few weaknesses in his armour and left alone he will over time become a mighty force.

  • The Sheriff: The Sheriff is the cruelest lord in the land and easily the most underhand. He will use Arab or Crusader alike, along with every dirty castle defense he can lay his hands on, to further his own self-interest. His castle, although massive, is extremely susceptible to fire; destroy his courtyard and then head to his keep.

  • The Nizar: The Nizar may catch you by surprise if you are unprepared for his swift and silent tactics. His island like castles are only effective on low ground and can be tricky to attack. On some maps the Nizar's castle may be built shoddily, but if it is well-completed, it is very hard to siege.

  • The Wazir: The Wazir is a mean spirited leader with a fiery temper. His persistent use of horse archers make him an annoyance, although his siege technique leaves a lot to be desired. The Wazir has a star-shaped castle, and his economy makes use of bread. Another castle that is susceptible to fire, but his use of mass Horse Archers can negate your advantage in that area.

  • The Emir: The Emir is a kind hearted and easy going Arabian leader. A good all rounder who knows how to manage his economy effectively as well as how to attack...which he force! Comparable to Saladin.

  • The Abbot: The Abbot considers himself entrusted with the defense of his faith. His vindictive monks will continually amass in vast numbers to pull down the walls of their enemies. Only produces Monks and Archers, the former he will send at you in the hundreds. His castle is average, but having uncrenelated walls gives you an advantage if you use a Siege Tower.

  • The Marshal: This retired fighter tends to play things a little more cautiously than he once did. The sight of his knights sallying forth from his castle is still a warning to anyone however. The poor old blighter seems to have left the back of his castle open, prompting an easy victory... if the player can get past his Knights and Swordsmen.

Stronghold Crusader Extreme

On January 28, 2008, Firefly Studios announced Stronghold: Crusader Extreme. It boasts "new tactical powers", "new AI opponents and maps", "new crusader extreme trail", "battles featuring over 10,000 units" and Windows Vista compatibility. It was released May 28, 2008.


  1. Stronghold: Crusader Gamespot review
  2. Stronghold: Crusader official website
  3. Stronghold: Crusader Firefly Studios' official Website for Stronghold Crusader Extreme

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