Age of Empires III Walkthrough

The New World has been discovered, and it's up to you to go forth and conquer it. GameSpot's Walkthrough to Age of Empires III has plenty of tips and hints to help you reap your bounty.

By: Matthew Rorie
Design: Evan Lessler

Microsoft and Ensemble's Age of Empires series of real-time strategy games have been around for quite a while now; the first game in the series first appeared all the way back in 1997. The first game, Age of Empires, modelled the Roman Empire; the second, Age of Kings, recreated the Middle Ages; and now, with Age of Empires III, we finally get to explore the New World, as the game picks up where the last left off, with Columbus' discovery of the Americas and the subsequent rush to colonize the new continents and plunder their resources.

Age of Empires III takes place across five generations, following the adventures of the Black family as their progenitor travels from Europe to the New World to frustrate the efforts of a shadowy secret society, the Circle of Ossus, who are intent on finding the mythical Fountain of Youth. Although Morgan Black is successful in defeating the Circle, they return again to meddle in the affairs of his grandson, John Black, and his great-great-granddaughter, Amelia Black, as they try to carve out their own place in America.

GameSpot's Game Guide to Age of Empires III is intended to give you an introduction to the game; included are tips on dealing with the major changes to the game, pointers on how to use the new Home City mechanic to your advantage

Major Changes

There have been a few major changes to the Age of Empires formula in AOEIII, when you compare it to AOEII, or even Age of Mythology. This section will go over a few of these.

No Dropsites

Another major change to the gameplay aspect of Age of Empires III is the fact that your settlers no longer have to return the resources that they collect to a dropsite. In previous games, whenever you sent them out to collect wood, gold, or food, they'd have to return the material to a dropsite (usually your Town Center) before it would be added to your stores. Now, though, you can have a settler halfway across the map from any of your structures, if you wish, because settlers will automatically add what they collect to your stores as they collect it, without needing to drop it off anywhere. This is certainly a welcome change for all but the most hardcore of players, as it'll make your resource collection more efficient and easier to manage, especially when you need to send your villagers away from your base to collect a resource. You can just select them, right click on the resource, and, assuming your opponent doesn't kill them, that's all you need to worry about.

Trading Posts

Another new addition, representing the factor of trade in building a civilization, is the Trading Post. Trading Posts can be built at Native American villages on most maps, and will allow you to build and upgrade Native American warriors to add into your army, giving you a more diverse group of warriors to send against your foe.

With Home City shipments, you can amass a huge army without expending any resources - of course, you'll need experience to do.

A more important use of Trading Posts, however, comes when you place them along a trade route. Trade routes aren't on every map in AOEIII, but when they do appear, your Trading Posts will let you receive what amounts to a tax on all the shipments that travel through it. What's more, you can select what specific kind of resource you want to receive, so if you need more wood, or gold, or food, you can get periodic shipments to your Trading Post of that specific resource. You can also upgrade your trade routes to use speedier forms of travel, allowing you to gain your resources more quickly than you normally would.

The Home City

In Age of Empires III, you're going to be representing your chosen civilization in the New World. Since all of the European powers have such a large interest in exploiting the resources of the Americas, they're going to support you as best they can, and this concept is represented in the game with the Home City. With the Home City mechanic, you'll be able to get a number of free units, buildings, and supplies throughout the game. You can check our chapter on Home Cities for more information on this intriguing new mechanic.

Home Cities and Shipments

Since the concept of Age of Empires involves you playing as a new colony in the New World, you can expect to be supported in your endeavours by your home nation. Of course, they expect to know that their investment is going towards a good cause, and you won't be able to receive shipments of certain supplies until your Home City has advanced enough to actually produce them. When you unlock the potential of your Home City, though, you'll be able to use its resources to tailor your gameplay strategy to the circumstances you're faced with.

Using Shipments

Every action you perform in the game, including building structures, collecting resources, and killing enemy units, will allow you to gain experience. When you gather enough experience, you'll stockpile a single shipment marker; when you click on the shipment icon (surrounded by the constantly-filling circle, near your minimap), or hit the H shortcut, you'll be able to select one of your available shipments and request it.

Shipments take a while to come - they aren't instantaneous. They'll go to a queue as well, like any other unit-production task, so you can't order a bunch of shipments and expect them to all arrive at the same time.

Building a Deck

The Home City is represented in the game as a deck of cards, oddly enough, with each individual card representing a particular kind of shipment. You begin with 16 cards unlocked and available to you, and will have the ability to purchase a great many more as you earn experience, by playing matches. Cards are sorted in two manners: by Age of availability, and by the building in which they're purchased.

Age Classification

Age sorting is pretty obvious: a card can only be sent to you if you're at or beyond its Age classification. Age classifications are roughly equal to a card's power; the greater the effect it'll have on you, the higher the Age requirement will be. A card that sends you 300 Food, for instance, might be available right off the bat in Age I, but a card that ships you 1600 Food will require you to be all the way up to Age IV before you'll be able to use it.

You don't have to have an equal number of cards from each Age in your deck; you can feel free to load up your deck with cards from Ages II and III if you find yourself adopting an early rush strategy, or go top heavy with Age IV cards if you intend to turtle up and just survive until the endgame. Keep in mind, however, that the longer a game lasts, the more experience you'll need to build up a shipment; if you plan on using a lot of advanced cards when you reach the later Ages, then you'll have to stockpile your shipments in the early going, which will give your opponents the chance to get an early advantage on you.

Building Classification

There are five buildings in any given Home City, each with its own specialization. Some of these names will change based on your civilization, but they'll always retain the same basic purpose.

The names change, but the purposes of each of these buildings remain consistent between civilizations.

New World Trading Company

The NWTC is intended to help your colony get the economic advantage they need to outspend and outgrow their competitors. As such, they'll be responsible for shipping you new settlers, extra resources, and upgrades for your heroes.

Tower of Gold

If you want to increase your military capabilities, you'll need to take advantage of the Tower of Gold, which can send you essentially free military units or upgrade your existing units' attack or defense.

Cathedral

For some reason, the Cathedral is mostly responsible for upgrading your buildings.

Manufacturing Plant

With the Manufacturing Plant, you'll be able to bend technology to your will and enable your villagers to collect resources more quickly.

Harbor

If you're playing on a map with water resources, the Harbor will allow you to send military vessels to help defend your ports, upgrade your ships, or hire mercenaries to ensure that you have a good ground defense.

Note that mercenaries, although they don't list any cost when selecting cards, do indeed cost you cold hard cash to buy, sometimes upwards of 2,000 gold for a single shipment. For the single-player game, you might find it handy to get one of the Age IV cards with 15 or 20 units all grouped together, for situations when you have an excess of cash and need to punch out a big army to put you over the top, but most of the time you're going to be better off spending your money on building your own units, especially since there are plenty of free military unit cards.

Card Selection

Each card has a few attributes that you need to consider when selecting it or deciding whether or not to put it into your deck. First up is Age; a card that sends you 12 soldiers in Age IV might not be as useful to you as a card that sends you six of the same soldiers in Age III, especially if you know that your opponent likes to use rush tactics to overwhelm you early on in a game. For the single-player game, you probably don't need to worry about Age all that much, since there are relatively few maps that prevent you from accelerating up to Age IV, at least; thus you can load up your deck with a bunch of cards from Age III and IV, if you wish. But in multiplayer, you'll want to consider the fact that games might not last as long as they will against the computer, simply because your opponents are going to be so much smarter. If you have a bunch of Age IV cards, and you never get to use them, then you might want to exchange a few of them for cards that will help you bolster your economy and military earlier in the game.

Next up is pretty simple: the effect that the card will have on your play style and on the map you're going to be playing. Some multiplayer maps don't have any water in them; cards that let you build more warships are going to sit in your deck, being basically unplayable. If you're big on rush tactics, then you probably won't find cards that strengthen your walls to be all that useful. Likewise, if you prefer building cavalry armies, then you'll want cards that strengthen cavalry units, and so on. It's often best to choose cards that reinforce your usual strategy, but you might want to try slipping in a couple of cards that shore up any weaknesses that you've uncovered in your game.

In the single player game, economic improvement cards are often less useful than a whole bunch of military units.

In the case of military unit cards, another important consideration is the cost of the units being sent. Shipping military unit cards is free, of course (excepting mercenaries), but when you have a choice between shipping a few artillery units that would cost you a bundle to produce yourself, or shipping a slightly larger number of cheap pikemen or crossbowmen, it's often going to be better to send yourself the more expensive units, and build the cheaper ones yourself (although your current battlefield needs will of course be the overriding factor here). One exception to this are the settler cards. While you might find it difficult to expend a card to ship yourself two settlers (which would cost you a mere 200 food to make yourself) when you know that the same card could net you 13 musketeers later on in the game, getting extra settlers early on will both let you capture more resources, and save you the food that you'll need to advance in Age.

Lastly, some cards are unable to unlock before you have a certain level of Home City. Some are available to you as soon as you start a game, while others will require you to have a level 15 or 25 Home City before they become available to you. While the higher-level cards aren't necessarily game-breaking, they do often have

Notable Cards

There are perhaps dozens of different cards available to you, and each civilization will actually get a few unique cards to use, as well. Thus, cataloguing each individual card is probably a job best left for some zealous GameFAQS contributor, but here are some cards that you're definitely going to want to include in your decks. There are of course plenty of other cards in the game,

Fort: The Fort card allows you to build, for free, one of the most powerful structures in the entire game. If you can bring the horse-drawn cart to the location where you want to build your Fort, and safeguard it while the structure is being built, you'll eventually wind up with a massively powerful building capable of firing cannons at nearby enemies, as well as building all of the units normally available only at barracks or stables. Building it in a forward position, somewhere near the enemy town, will allow you to build all of your military units there, while preventing your enemy from passing through the area without damaging their troops. The only option they really have against a Fort is to take it down with long-range artillery, which will take time to arrange.

A well-placed Fort can harry your opponent and force them to go well out of their way to bypass it.

Of course, if your opponent spots a Fort cart heading towards its destination and kills it, then you've just given them a major advantage. Be sure to protect the cart while it's in transit, as it's much easier to kill in cart form than when it's an actual building.

Factory: The Factory is the other major building card that you can acquire. Unlike the Fort, it has no offensive capabilities, but what it does offer is an unlimited supply of resources. When you build the Factory, you can choose for it to constantly supply you with gold, food, or wood, or even task it to (slowly) build Heavy Cannons to supplement your artillery corps. The resources are usually what you'll want to use it for, though, especially if you run out of accessible wood near your town and would have to expose your settlers to enemy fire to collect more.

Neither Forts nor Factories can be built by settlers, but you can sometimes obtain them when you upgrade your civilization to the Industrial Age.

Admiralty: On water maps, the Admiralty card will be of vital importance. It doesn't have a flashy effect, but its simple ability - to let you build more than the usual limit of warships, such as Galleons - will let you amass a bigger navy than your opponent. Since ship battles are a bit easier to micromanage than ground encounters, it's much more difficult for an opponent to compensate for being outnumbered with skillful play.

Sustainable Agriculture: Sustainable Agriculture allows your villagers to collect food from Mills more quickly, which is especially important in online multiplayer games, where Mills are generally going to be your primary source of food from Age II on up.

A good set of Mortars will help you take down enemy buildings from extremely far away.

Mortars: When you get to Age IV, you'll probably already be thinking about building an army and taking out your opponents. Mortars are, if not required, then a great help in taking down enemy structures. Although they can't be fired at enemy units, they have the longest range of any artillery unit, and do much more damage to structures than other artillery types. They're also massively expensive, usually costing 100 wood and 500 gold, so getting them shipped to you from cards will help you preserve your resources and perhaps even allow you to avoid building an artillery foundry, especially if you load your deck with other kinds of artillery as well.

Heavy Fortifications: Speaking as people who enjoy building up a large amount of defenses, we found the Heavy Fortifications card to be well worth including in our deck. Although it can't be sent until Age IV for most civilizations, it can save you literally thousands of units of gold and wood, since it automatically upgrades the defensive and offensive capabilities of your Forts and Outposts to their maximum levels. This isn't necessarily a card that you want to use in a ragtag one-on-one match where you know your opponent will be sending hundreds of units your way early in the game, but if you’re a defensive player in a larger game and you think you might be able to turtle up for a while, then Heavy Fortifications might be one of the biggest money-saving cards in the game.

General And Multiplayer Tips

Now That That's Settled

Build settlers early and often. If you want to win in Age of Empires, especially in multiplayer, then you're going to need lots of resources, and lots of resources will entail lots and lots of settlers. Since there aren't any dropsites in AOEIII, and your trade posts will be helping you with resources, you won't need quite as many settlers as you did in Age of Empires II, but you'll still want to pump as much of your excess food into settler production as possible, while leaving enough for age advancements and research. If you use your Home City deck productively, you can offset the food you spend on building settlers by sending shipments of soldiers and other units directly to your city, which come for free. When a game starts out, though, you'll often want to use cards that ship you more settlers, since you need as much food as you can get early on to get to Age II, which is when you can start to build Barracks and build up your armies.

Managing Your Army

One of the keys to winning in military engagements in Age of Empires lies in managing your army. You're going to be able to build numerous different units in AOEIII, but most military units will either be melee unit (which need to get up next to an enemy to attack), ranged units (which can attack from a distance), or artillery units (which have powerful ranged attacks, but which are usually going to be slower and more vulnerable to attack than other units). Each of these have their own strengths and weaknesses, obviously, so you'll need to learn to maximize your units' strengths while attempting to protect their weak spots if you want to succeed.

Melee units, such as pikemen and cavalry, are typically going to have good offense and the best defense of the units available to you, and are going to be good troops to have at the head of your army. They're important both as a general offensive force and as a barrier to defend your weaker units against the enemy army.

You should always try to have your infantry and cavalry units at the head of your army, with your artillery in the rear.

Ranged units will be useful as a rear guard, allowing you to drop crossbow bolts and other projectiles on your opponents while your melee units rush forward to keep them occupied. Ranged units are often as powerful, if not more so, than melee units, but they'll require longer intervals between attacking, and will be much more vulnerable to enemy attacks, so you'll have to keep them defended if you want them to stay alive in a fight.

Artillery units, such as cannons and mortars, are going to be the most powerful units at your disposal, but they're slow to move and fire, and they're not very versatile, with most artillery units generally only being good against one type of target. That said, they're very good against that one type of target; light cannons will be able to kill most enemy units in one shot, while mortars will deal much more damage against buildings than will any of your infantry units. Unfortunately artillery units are expensive, and not all that tougher than a normal unit, so you absolutely have to protect them if you want to bring them into a battle.

Quick Unit Selection

One of the first things you can do to help ease your army management is to immediately start using the grouping and shortcut systems built into Age of Empires. With shortcuts, you'll be able to separate different sections of your army and order them to move and attack individually, thus letting you command mortars apart from your infantry, or your healers apart from your ranged units, rather than forcing you to use your entire army as one huge mass.

To create a shortcut, select a group of units with your mouse cursor. You can either drag a box around the units you want to select, or double-click on a unit to select all of the units on the screen of the same type. (E.g. double-clicking on a pikeman would select all pikemen on the screen, but not any other military units.) When you have the units that you want to use selected, then hold down the CTRL key and press the 1 key. This will enter the units you selected into your first shortcut slot; from now on, whenever you press the 1 key by itself, you'll automatically shift control back to the units in your first squad.

Be sure to keep your mortars in a separate squad from your other artillery units, since they're only capable of aiming at buildings.

Using shortcuts is vital in any stage of the game, whether you're in the early stages of exploration and expansion, or massing your army for the final assault on the enemy town. In the early-to-mid portions of a game, it's usually best to group together your hero unit with other infantry units to explore the map and grab treasures. It helps to have a few cavalry units back in the base, however, and band them together to have them act as a quick-strike force, in case you happen to see enemy settlers encroaching on your territory or if your explorers get attacked. You might also want to create three squads of settlers for each of the different resources, or a small squad of priests or medics for healing.

As the game progresses, you may need to specialize your squads a bit. The most rudimentary squad formation will include one squad for melee units, one for ranged, and one for artillery units, but if you're willing to subdivide a bit more, you can increase your army's efficiency by separating out units based on their speed and special talents. Since a squad will move at the movement speed of the slowest unit in the squad, you might want to create separate squads for cavalry melee and infantry melee units, for instance, or create special strike squads for special-purpose units, such as pikemen (who do extra damage to cavalry) or heavy cannons (which specialize in blowing up opposing artillery), and use them when their particular target comes in sight.

Cheat Codes

Most of these codes will work in either a campaign game or a single-player skirmish game. Just hit Enter to bring up a chat window, enter the code, then hit enter again to activate the code. Capitalization doesn't matter, but apart from that they do need to be entered just as they're seen here.

CodeEffect
This is too hardType in a Campaign mission to automatically win.
a recent study indicated that 100% of herdables are obeseInstantly fattens all animals on the map to their maximum fattiness.
give me liberty or give me coinGives you 10,000 coin.
medium rare pleaseGives you 10,000 food.
<censored>Gives you 10,000 wood.
nova & orionGives you 10,000 experience.
tuck tuck tuckSpawns the Tommynator, a monster truck that kills anything it hits, including structures and walls.
ya gotta make do with what ya gotSpawns the Mediocre Bombard, a sheep-firing cannon that does severe damage with each fire.
x marks the spotReveals the map terrain.
sooo goodPops up billboard text whenever a unit gets killed, indicated its killer.
speed always winsTurns on 100% gather and build rates. This applies to the enemy as well, so be ready for an infinite flow of enemy troops coming your way.

Expendability

Although some players tend to build Mills as soon as possible for the infinite food collection that they offer, note that, all other things being equal, your villagers will collect resources from non-renewable resources more quickly than they will from a renewable resources. For instance, collecting food from hunted animals or berries will usually be quicker than collecting from a mill, and collecting gold from a gold mine will be quicker than it will be from a plantation. You'll still want to eventually pop yourself up to the renewable resources (many online players seem to build Mills as soon as possible, and use the various Home City shipments to power them up), but when you still have a limited number of settlers to work with in the early portion of the game, then you'll probably want to go after the animals and gold mines in your area to take advantage of the speedier resource collection.

The Use of Walls

In the single-player campaign, consider building a square of walls around Outposts like this to protect them.

Although walls are sometimes derided as being a waste of resources, they can have a powerful effect on the mentality of an opponent, especially AI opponents. When playing against the computer, you can also use walls to herd them into a specific point of attack, especially if you actually wind up leaving a gap in your wall. An incomplete wall with a hole in it will encourage AI players to move towards the hole in most situations, rather than attempt to blast through a section of the wall that's in their path. Thus, you can create a chokepoint with a Fort and Outposts near the hole in the wall and force them to come under substantial fire if they want to get past your obstacle. This tactic doesn't often work on human players, though, as they'll just avoid your choke point and take down the wall somewhere else. This can still let you know where they'll eventually attack from, though, and give you the opportunity to fire artillery at them while they concentrate on the wall.

Speaking of artillery, if you're playing a defensive game, don't forget that you can clump artillery together, then simply build a small square of walls around them to protect them from enemy infantry while they fire away at anything that comes near. You don't even need to build a gate, really; if you get to a point where you're ready to attack, just delete one of the walls and move them out. Small section of walls like this are so cheap that this won't necessarily hurt your pocketbook.

Know Your Keyboard Shortcuts

High-level online play of Age of Empires III will pretty much require you to memorize the entire set of shortcut keys for the game, as these will make you much more efficient in terms of building structures, finding specific units that you need to select, and so on.

Hotkeys

SPACEBAR - Center View on Selected Unit
ALT - Display Details on Selected Unit
H - Toggle Home City Screen
/ - Cycle Explorers
' - Cycle Ships
. - Cycle Idle Villagers
, - Cycle Idle Military Units
; - Cycle Wagons (Covered Wagon, Fort Wagon, Outpost Wagon, Factory Wagon)

Find Keys

Find keys cycle through the types of buildings listed, allowing you to jump right to a building, instead of having to find it on the map manually.

T - Town Center

CTRL+A - Artillery Foundry
CTRL+B - Barracks or Blockhouse
CTRL+C - Church
CTRL+D - Dock
CTRL+D - House or Manor House
CTRL+F - Fort
CTRL+I - Mill
CTRL+K - Bank
CTRL+L - Plantation
CTRL+M - Market
CTRL+O - Outpost
CTRL+P - Trading Post
CTRL+Q - Field Hospital
CTRL+R - Arsenal
CTRL+S - Stable
CTRL+V - Livestock Pen
CTRL+W - Wall
CTRL+Y - Factory
CTRL+Z - Capitol

Villager Builds

A - Artillery Foundry
B - Barracks or Blockhouse
C - Church
D - Dock
E - Town Center (this is for the Explorer only)
E - House or Manor House
F - Fort
K - Bank
I - Mill
L - Plantation
M - Market
O - Outpost
P - Trading Post
Q - Field Hospital
R - Arsenal
S - Stable
W - Wall
V - Livestock Pen

Campaign Mode

For the purposes of this little walkthrough, we're going to assume that you're going through the game on the Moderate difficulty level. Feel free to play on Hard if you wish, but be forewarned that your foes will pound you with large armies that come through very quickly.

Age I : Blood

Mission One: The Falcon Lands on Malta

Primary Objectives

  • Defend the Fort Command Post
  • Use Settlers to gather the wood on the hill to light the signal fire.
  • Destroy all the Great Bombards

Secondary Objectives

  • Collect all the Treasures on the map.

If you're jumping into this map on Moderate difficulty, then you can expect to have a heck of an opening fight ahead of you; Age of Empires III isn't really all that interested in easing you back into the RTS mindset, and you might be a bit frustrated at the pace of this first mission. You open up on the island of Malta, which is under siege by an enigmatic warrior given the sobriquet of The Falcon. You play as Morgan Black, a member of the Knights of St. John, who's tasked with defending the fort on the island from the invading forces. Doing so will be somewhat more difficult than you might expect, though.

As soon as the round begins, you'll take control of the small garrison of the fort and be tasked with defending the Command Post of the fort, which is thankfully set back away from the gates, which are going to be pounded by relentless waves of foes, mostly consisting of light infantry and musketeers at this point. You have a gate that still stands at the beginning of this fight, so move your crossbowmen up behind it and use them to start firing over the gate, which they'll do automatically. The enemies at the outset will quickly destroy the two towers set outside the gate, leaving you with two fort towers in the corners of your base as permanent defenses. These will come under fire from most of the enemies coming your way, but they're fairly hardy, so they should withstand the beating.

The Ottomans will eventually bust through your walls, but you should be able to win if you can just survive long enough.

Your first goal here is to just attempt to prevent the enemies from entering your base and destroying the Command Post. You only have a small number of troops under your control, but you have plenty of resource gatherers outside the walls here, so you'll be getting plenty of resources with which to build more forces. You also have four barracks under your command, so immediately set two to research the upgrades for your Crossbowmen and Pikemen, then set the rest to start pumping out more of those two units, until you run out of food or wood. Don't worry, it'll resupply fairly quickly; just remember to periodically return to your barracks and refresh the queues, so that you have a good amount of new soldiers coming in as often as possible.

Lighting The Fire

After a few minutes of defending your walls, you'll notice that the enemy is rolling up with a heavy cannon to fire at your gate; at this point, you'll learn about the signal fire on the hill behind your base, which needs to be lit by settlers. The enemy will send four pikemen to kill any settlers that you send up to the signal fire, so detach six or seven soldiers from your base and send them to either cut off or kill the enemy soldiers before sending your settlers to light the fire. Three settlers should be enough to quickly light the fire.

Of course, by this point, your gates will probably be smashed wide open, so keep building more soldiers. Thankfully, most of the enemy troops will focus on destroying the fort towers, which have large reserves of health, so they won't enter your base straight away. If you wish, you can continue to send your troops at the enemy soldiers, but if you want to play this cautiously, just keep them back towards your Command Post and wait for your signal fire to do its magic.

After you manage to light the fire, it'll be a minute before Alain appears, but when he comes, he comes with the thunder of hooves behind him; he'll bring a couple dozen cavalry units with him. Your objective at this point changes, and you'll have to focus on destroying the enemy Great Bombards, their cannon units. You should have a temporary manpower advantage at this point, especially if you remembered to recall your troops from the signal fire back to your base, so group everyone together and charge to the Great Bombards and destroy them. There will probably be at least two or three of them at this point, but they'll quickly fall to your assault, and you'll win the map.

Mission Two: Into the Caves

Primary Objectives

  • Defend the base from the Ottoman attack.
  • Destroy all the Ottoman Weapons Caches.

Secondary Objectives

  • Build an Artillery Foundry and train at least 10 Hoop Throwers.
  • Claim the nearby Treasure.
  • Find a shipwreck and gather any supplies near it.

At the outset of this mission, you'll be under attack yet again from the Turks, and you'll be poorly suited to repelling the invasion. Although you do have some troops here, and a cannon of your own, you'll need more units to stem the tide, so immediately set your barracks to building more Crossbowmen and Pikemen, and move your hero units up to get right in the middle of the opposing force. Your cannon can do a number on the soldiers here, but be sure to set it to attack one of the rearmost soldiers first. That way, when its target is dead, it won't have to go through the lengthy moving animation before it can get another target.

After the first skirmish is over, you'll have a bit of a pause in the action, so build a few more Settlers to collect more wood and food, repair your watchtowers, and start to work on building up your base. You're going to have all the time you need to start working on your economy, and resources are plentiful, so feel free to upgrade your towers, build a market to research faster resource gathering, start building a larger army, and so forth. You should also build an Artillery Foundry to complete the secondary objective, which is to build 10 Hoop Throwers. Hoop Throwers are useful enough against buildings, but after building ten, you'll probably want to go straight for the strong stuff and build four or five mortars when you have the resources, as you'll have a lot of buildings to destroy on this map.

When you have a large army and a few mortars by your side, you can start expanding out towards the enemy city on this map, which is to your northeast. It's probably best to just head straight towards it, rather than going to the weapons cache and proceeding down from the north; going straight will allow you to block off any incoming troops that would be heading towards your base. Just send in your troops first, while your mortars polish off the buildings, and focus on destroying the watchtowers, barracks, and stables before the industrial buildings. If you want to keep all your soldiers in one big unit, be sure to build reinforcements and keep them in your base, so that you can quickly add more soldiers to your squad when any of them die.

Your ultimate goal here is to destroy all of the Turkish buildings outside the little cave that they're gathering in, then move up all of your forces to the exterior of the cave to block anyone from exiting. That'll give you a free run over the exterior portion of the level. Before you head inside to finish the map, you might want to explore the water a little bit. One of your secondary objectives involves finding a shipwreck and gathering the supplies near it; if you build a galleon, you should find the shipwreck near your port, and will be able to kill the treasure guardians. If you send over some settlers, they'll be able to gather the resources and earn you the experience bonus. There are more supplies to the northeast, in the eastern corner of the map, but they're guarded by an enemy port and some strong ships. You might want to build three Galleons to take them on if you intend to destroy the port and the Mosque behind it.

Regardless, your ultimate goal is to enter the cave and destroy all the weapons caches there. Again, just lead with your army and follow with the mortars, and you should be able to wipe them out with minimal trouble, since you've destroyed their entire economy.

Mission Three: PIRATES!

Primary Objectives

  • Build a barracks and a dock.
  • Build a town center.
  • Find three navigation charts.

Secondary Objectives

  • Build a second town center on a nearby island.

Well, pirates have forced you to land somewhere near the New World, and you'll be forced to set up your colony here. Such are the winds of fate. You can set your new Town Center up right where you land, since you'll be so close to food, trees, and gold. You also have a few soldiers along with you, as well as a single wounded galleon. As soon as you have the wood needed, you'll want to build a dock on the beach, so that your flagship can heal itself up. All you need to do is park the galleon by the dock, and it'll automatically be repaired over time.

There isn't much to see on this first island, save for a small Native American encampment. You can kill their dartblowers, if you wish; they are definitely hostile to you, so don't feel too guilty about it. Establish yourself, build more settlers, and start collecting resources. Don't forget to build a barracks to beef up your forces a bit. You're going to be facing landing parties on occasion, so if you leave the island undefended, you might face a surprise attack.

Luckily, you'll periodically get new ships from the homeland, including new galleons and warships, so within ten or fifteen minutes of starting the round, you should have a fairly powerful naval force. Research the upgrades to your warships' armor and strength before taking them out for a spin. Before you head south, take a few of your ground units across to the island where the first map is. One of the treasures on this island is a second Town Center, which you can set up and use to build more settlers to start harvesting the many little piggies on the island, or the extra gold mine here. Food good.

When you're ready to start launching some punitive expeditions, start building up a little fleet of galleons to supplement what you've already been sent. You'll need to spread these guys out a little bit, but your priority should be to first destroy the house near the second navigation chart, which will destroy the entire fort there, and then push up the river to reach Lizzie's docks, and destroy those as well. In order to prevent her settlers from rebuilding the docks, you'll need to park a warship off the coast. Just make sure that her Town Center can't fire at you; it has a pretty wicked range.

You'll need to land with a huge army, and use your ships as a distraction, if you want to take out Lizzie's base.

Anyway, in order to get to the third map, which is right next to Lizzie's Town Center, you'll need to land in the vicinity of the second map, off to the east, with a huge army and march in, destroying her town in the process. There's not much of a way around this, unfortunately. We found it best to have two completely full military squads, with the usual mix of melee/ranged/cavalry, and a third squad of five or six mortars to deal with the buildings and towers. Just before we made landfall, we sent all of our non-troop-carrying ships to attack Lizzie's units where they had clumped up around her Barracks, as a big old distraction. If you try to land your units on her island and amass them, she'll send all of her troops out, so be sure to land them elsewhere first and assign them to squads before shuffling over to her island.

(As a note, a ship that's absolutely full of troops will sometimes have problems with disembarkment, especially if you use the disembark button at the bottom of the unit menu. If you have problems with this, disembark units one at a time by clicking on their icons above the unit menu until you've cleared up enough room to disembark the rest all in one go.)

Your first priority when you make landfall is to hit her Barracks with your mortars, so advance your troops in first, destroying the gates if you need to, then have them engage her army while your mortars come in to take out the barracks. She only has one barracks, so after you destroy that and her Artillery Foundry, she should be unable to produce any more military units. Take out her towers and her Town Center, and you should be home free to destroy the rest of her town for the experience before grabbing the third Map for the win.

Mission Four: The Ottoman Fort

Primary Objectives

  • Build a Town Center.
  • Go to the Home City and send a Shipment.
  • Ally with at least two local Native tribes.
  • Find and destroy the Ottoman Command Post and Town Center.

Secondary Objectives

  • Destroy the Ottoman Fishing Dock.

Ah, another "build everything from scratch before expanding and conquering" level. You should know the drill by now; only the specifics are different. Set up your Town Center, build a Dock to take advantage of the fishing off the shore, and get to work on your economy and military. The enemy scouting parties will usually come up towards the Trading Post you build by the nearby Native Americans, so you may want to protect it with a couple of Outposts. The parties coming your way will usually be small. You might want to keep Morgan in a separate group from your main army; if there are a bunch of Abus Guns or something like that that group together, his special sword attack can take down all of them in one blow.

After getting your economy set up, get yourself to the third age and build an army, etc., etc. Don't forget the mortars in your rear. You should be able to crush them fairly easily after you destroy their Fort Towers.

After this level is over, you'll be able to finally start upgrading your Home City and buying new cards. Get anything that you think might be useful; extra military units, such as Lancer cards, are always useful. The next map will find particularly good use of the Royal Decree to Claim The New World card, as well.

Mission Five: Temples of the Aztec

Primary Objectives

  • Build a Trading Post at the Aztec town.
  • Build a Town Center.
  • At least one Temple must remain standing.
  • Find and destroy the Spanish Town Center.

Secondary Objectives

  • Save more Aztec Prisoners.
  • Save more than one Temple.

Beware Lancer zergs from this area.

At the beginning of this map, send Morgan ahead and use his Oberhau Attack to kill the enemies; the nearby settlers will be converted into Aztec Eagle Warriors and join your cause. Quickly build a trading post in the indicated spot, and you'll gain the trust of the Aztecs. You'll get a Town Center here, as well as a few Settlers. You'll need to quickly start gathering resources, build a Barracks and a few Houses, and start working on defending the Temples near your position. Doing so will require you to pump out as many soldiers as you can, preferably cheap ones.

The defend-multiple-buildings scenario is an RTS classic, but this is a somewhat flexible task here, since you only technically have to keep one Temple standing. If you wish to, you can just defend the one closest to your Town Center, and use your Galleon to watch over it while you amass a small army around it. Unfortunately, doing so will let your foes quickly destroy the other two Temples and give them a single target to come to, but if you're collecting enough resources, you should be able to build quite a force to deal with them. Still, if you notice a small force attacking one of the other temples, you should probably attempt to take them out rather than just ceding its destruction to your opponents.

If you did manage to nab the Royal Decree card, you should use it as soon as possible to obtain the services of two surgeons. Surgeons are efficient healers that can recharge their power relatively quickly, and will let you take your units back from the brink of death, saving you resources in the long run.

Anyway, after the fifteen minute countdown is up, the Spanish attacks will become less frequent. Instead of coming at you from the north or the east, however, they will generally amass large Lancer forces and come at you from the east, along the same path you walked at the beginning of the round, so be ready for them. You might want to send your villagers to the far southern mine, build a Mill there, and gather the trees nearby, as there they'll be safely out of the way. When you're ready to make your attack, build four or so Mortars and charge towards their base in the northeast. Don't forget to destroy all of the smaller buildings for the extra experience before taking out their Town Center.

Mission Six: A Pirate's Help

Primary Objectives

  • Earn 8,000 Experience before Lizzie sets sail for Florida.
  • Bring Morgan to Lizzie before she sets sail.

Secondary Objectives

  • Stop the raiding Native Americans from attacking the settlers of Havana.
  • Build the first Stable in Havana.
  • Reestablish trade by building a second Trading Post.
  • Take Lizzie's Native American friend to his family on the nearby island.
  • Retrieve Stolen Artifact.
  • Find and gather the stolen gold.
  • Return the lost herd to Havana's Livestock Pen.

Although this appears to initially be some kind of bizarre RPG adventure where you control Morgan and get him to obtain a bunch of XP, it quickly becomes another fairly standard RTS level. Your goal is to earn 8,000 experience in around 25 minutes to ensure that Lizzie will let you ride along with her when she heads out to Florida. Doing so can be accomplished through combat, obviously, but you can also help yourself along by completing as many of the secondary objectives as possible.

Begin by defeating the Carib blowgunners that are attacking the Settlers, and you'll win a shiny prize: control of the entire town. That's downright welcoming of them, if we do say so ourselves. Build your Stables, then start building an army, which should mostly consist of Hussars and Crossbowmen to deal with the Carib blowgunners.

You can find the canoe here, but it's well defended.

Most of the objectives here are straightforward; look down the coast to find the missing canoe, but be prepared for a fight. You'll also need to fight to reach the boy's village, so land with as many soldiers as you can get. The missing artifact is guarded by Falconets, so be ready to charge them with your hussars.

If you retrieve the missing artifact and still have time, there are a couple of semi-hidden secondary objectives to complete on the mainland. Near your second trading post, you'll find a cache of Carib gold; kill its guardians and send settlers down to collect the gold. To the southeast, there's a missing herd of cows; walk close to them to take control of them and send them back to the Livestock Pen to get the experience for them.

Anyway, you should be able to earn more than enough experience in the time limit that's given to you, provided you don't just sit around waiting for an army to be built for you. Use the forces that you have available to you while you queue up more soldiers in your base.

Mission Seven: Spanish Treasure Fleet

Primary Objectives

  • Capture the Treasure Ship.
  • Place a Town Center.
  • Capture six Treasure Ships.

Secondary Objectives

  • Destroy any Spanish Forts.
  • Kill Delgado.

This is going to be a twist on the usual establish-your-base scenario, as there's very little gold available for you to collect. Instead of going after gold mines, though, you'll have to find and capture the six Spanish treasure ships on the map. When you capture one of these ships, it'll start a slow but steady trickle of gold into your coffers.

To begin with, use your ships to destroy the incoming Spanish Galleons. If one of your ships takes a lot of damage, click it and bring it away from the fight to shift your opponent's target, then bring it back. Don't forget to use your broadside power and to group all of your ships on a single target until it goes down. After that's done, bombard the stockades, and let the soldiers there destroy the Outpost nearby; that'll net you control of your first treasure ship. With that in hand, offload your troops from your ships, move your Town Center cart over to the east, near the large herd of animals and forest, and start working on building yourself up.

While you work on your economy and military, repair any damaged ships at your dock (you are going to build a dock, right?) and send them to the west to scope out the situation. There's a Spanish Fort overlooking the river, but it'll be too far away to hit. Don't go around the bend in the river, though, or you'll run into Monitor-class ships that'll do a good amount of damage to your forces. Note the appearance of a Native American tribe on the island in the south portion of the map, though; if you transport a settler there, you can have them build a Trading Post, then take advantage of the technology that improves the damage of all of your archers. Good on you.

Keep in mind that the Spanish will eventually send their ships towards your base, so you can either cede the waters to them, or build up a fleet yourself to protect your fishing boats, should you want to build them. If you have the Admiralty card in your deck, then you'll be able to garner a few more galleons, which should let you repulse any attempts to breach your waters.

When you have a few treasure ships under your control, you'll be free to build up your forces.

Anyway, your goal at the beginning of the map should be to take over the three closest treasure ships, which will ensure that your economy will never run out of gold. Between that, the copious amount of trees, and the berries and wild animals, you should have a near-infinite amount of resources to work with. With that in tow, build up a couple of squads worth of soldiers, four or five mortars, and a rearguard squad to protect your base, and go after the nearby Forts, using your mortars to knock them out while your soldiers kill off any incoming soldiers. With that done, it's time to hit the experience motherlode by replenishing your armies and heading for the main town on this map.

Killing Delgado can only be accomplished by attacking the town in force, so be sure to check your objectives to make sure you've got him before finding and killing whatever Outposts you need to finish off the primary objective. There are eight treasure ships on the map, and you only need six, so if you get too enthusiastic about finding them, you might inadvertantly wind up finshing off your primary objective before you can finish the secondary ones. Don't forget to bring your ships around the bend in the river to the enemy town to coordinate their attacks with those of your troops.

As a note, if you haven't purchased it yet, you might want to make sure that you have the Admiralty card in your Home City deck before you begin the eighth mission here. If you've reached level 10, then unlocking your Fort will be pretty handy, as well.

Mission Eight: The Fountain Of Youth?

Primary Objectives

  • Destroy the Fountain of Youth.
  • Kill the guards near the Fixed Gun.

Secondary Objectives

  • Destroy the Circle's base to the east of the Fixed Gun.
  • Build a Trading Post at the Native Village.

It's time to finish off Alain and destroy the Fountain of Youth, once and for all. Doing so will require you to amass something of a navy, but at least you start with a Dock in hand.

In the end, it's easier to kill the Fountain of Youth with your galleons than with fireships.

Your first goal here is to obtain the services of the Fixed Gun, which is perched atop a hill near where Morgan and his men begin their little fight. Luckily for you, the enemy has managed to guard this weapon of utmost importance with about five dudes, so even if you take some losses while you approach, you'll still be able to wipe them out and take control of the gun for yourself. Doing so will spawn in a ship with your Town Center and a bunch of settlers, so set yourself up and start building your economy for the long haul. With your first few Home City shipments, get as many military units sent as you possibly can, because the enemy troops will be coming for you shortly.

With the Fixed Gun, you'll be able to start pounding the enemy base to the east, but you won't be able to destroy it all with just that one weapon, so start working on your army. Also note that the Fixed Gun has a certain range within which it can't fire on units, and enemy ships will sometimes come right up underneath it to fire on it while it can't fire back, so park a few Galleons underneath it to prevent this. Don't worry if it takes a little damage; you'll be able to repair it later on if you need to. Just be careful of ships that offload troops, who will attempt to take it back for themselves; this is a Bad Thing.

Anyway, get to work on your economy, building more Settlers for resource collection, and start making a little force to go east and destroy the Circle base there. After the Fixed Gun takes out the Outposts and the gates, you can probably just send in your infantry units to finish off the buildings there; no need to wait for Mortars.

At this point, you can probably set up something of a stasis, repelling the enemy attacks at sea and on land while you build up your army in the hopes of eventually overwhelming their defenses around the Fountain of Youth. You might want to take some troops and land them on the landmass to the west of your docks, where a Native American village is located; destroying the enemy Trading Post and building one of your own will let you earn some experience.

After you've completed both of your secondary objectives, it's time to go after the Fountain of Youth. If you've used the Admiralty card, you should be able to field a troop of six or so galleons, so take them over near the Fountain and use them to destroy the nearby Outpost. While you do this, queue up a bunch of Fire Ships and set your Docks to send them directly to the Fountain; you can build more Docks along your coast if you want to speed this process up a bit. Your galleons and caravels can do fairly good damage to the Fountain themselves, though, so if you can amass them around the Fountain and pound on it, you should be able to bring it down without too much of a fuss.

Age II: Ice

Mission One: Defend The Colony

Primary Objectives

  • Defend your Town Center for fifteen minutes.

Secondary Objectives

  • Prevent the Cherokee from destroying the nearby town.
  • Escort the Settlers back to the fort.

It would appear that the Cherokee allies of the main character of this act, John Black, have decided to turn against him, and are now attacking the small fort that he inhabits. It's up to you to defend it for fifteen minutes until reinforcements can arrive.

With your starting resources, upgrade your Outposts, and build more settlers to work on collecting wood and gold. You might also want to upgrade your Mills to make it easier to collect food from them.

Keeping your unkillable hero units outside your walls will distract your foes and protect your Outposts.

The usual drill here is in effect: create a large squad of soldiers with which to support your Outposts when they're attacked. Eventually you'll get pinged on another town nearby which the Cherokee are attacking. You don't have to save it, but the benefit of doing so is that you'll get another Mill, which the Cherokee will never attack, allowing you to queue up 10 settlers there and retask all of the settlers in your fort to getting wood and gold. Wood, especially, will be vital here, especially if you intend to repair your Outposts when they get damaged. Note that you don't have a Barracks here, so build one as soon as possible, and be sure to use your Home City shipments to bolster your forces with as many fresh troops as possible. If you have the gold for it, you can also build a couple of priests at your Church to heal your troops when they're wounded, and wounded they will be over time.

Eventually, settlers will start to pour into your fort from the edges of the map. They'll be harried by Cherokee on their way in, but don't bother rushing out to defend them; just let them come to you, and when they reach your fort, they'll be converted into musket-wielding militia members. You can turtle yourself up at this point, building whatever kind of offensive units you can afford, and sending your units out to defend the outlying Outposts, if you wish to. After fifteen minutes, you'll win the map and move on.

Mission Two: Strange Alliances

Primary Objectives

  • Destroy the Cherokee War Huts.
  • Travel to the main Cherokee village to negotiate a truce.
  • Establish a new colony and defeat the British.

Secondary Objectives

  • Rescue all of the settlers taken prisoner by the British.

You can wall off this path that the British attack from to force them to detour a bit while you fire on them with artillery.

You begin this scenario with zero resources, so you won't be able to build anything for a while. All you can do at the outset here is travel to the two War Huts of the Cherokee and destroy them with your small number of soldiers. Nothing to worry about; just kill any soldiers that pop out of the huts as they're built, and you should be able to finish both huts off in a few minutes.

After that's done, you'll have to head to the Cherokee village to negotiate a truce. As soon as you do so, you'll be forcibly relocated from your colony, and will have to set up a new one and build an army to defeat the British. Unfortunately, they know where you live...and they're coming for you. They're going to send out very, very large raiding parties at you from the south, so you'll want to get a feel for where they're coming from and start to organize your turtling in that direction.

Your first priority should be to get yourself up to the Fortress Age and start using your military shipments from that age to bolster your defenses. When you have an idea for which way the British are coming, build a wall across their point of attack. It doesn't have to circle your base, just slow them down a bit. You can hide your musketeers and falconets behind the wall and have them blast away at the troops from cover. While you're doing all this, you should be setting up Plantations to help deliver yourself some much-needed coin. Expand to the east to find more wood; you'll be out of the path of the enemy patrols and should be safe.

When you're ready to attack, build a few mortars and first go for the Fort that the British have built in the middle of the map. From there, you can sweep into town and destroy all of the buildings. There's only one Barracks, so when you've destroyed that, you're pretty much home free.

Mission Three: The Rescue

Primary Objectives

  • Train an army and attack the British from the south side.
  • Destroy all British buildings to unite Kenyanke and Nonahkee.

Secondary Objectives

  • Ally with any other Iroqouis in the area.

This is going to be something of a frustrating mission to start out with, since the British will continually attack your northern Iroquois outpost, making it difficult to keep your troops there alive. Keep in mind that Nonahkee there does have a healing ability at the outset, so use that between each fight to recharge your other units until you can build some medicine men. Your primary concern here should be to start collecting resources with your southern colony to allow the Iroquois to build more tomahawk warriors. Wood will be of prime concern here, since you'll also have to construct your buildings in the south.

You can't link up with the northern outpost until you destroy the British town, but if you explore around a bit, you can find a couple of Iroquois outposts at which you can build Trading Posts for the experience. The British won't attack your southern colony, so you can feel free to concentrate most of your early efforts on building settlers to collect resources.

After repulsing a number of British attacks in the north, you should be at or around 30 settlers in the south, so get yourself up to the Fortress Age and start pumping out home shipments to bolster your forces. Getting all the way up to Mortars in the fourth Age is possible, but not really necessary; you can probably rush into the enemy base with Falconets and Culverins behind a force built almost exclusively from Home City shipments after reaching the Fortress Age. When you do come in from the south, don't forget to send in your troops from the north to enable the pincer attack. After you penetrate the base, you'll be told to destroy all of the buildings here to move on, which you should be able to do fairly easily. Just go for the Barracks and Stables first to ensure that you won't get any surprises later on.

Mission Four: The Seven Years' War

Primary Objectives

  • Help destroy the British on your side of the river.
  • Find and destroy the British Ford Command building.

Secondary Objectives

  • Find and control the only Trading Post in the area.

Building a Fort here with some falconets alongside it will serve as a formidable defense.

After defeating the British on your side of the river, the French will give you control of one of the Town Centers to the south of their main base. You won't have much to start out with, but you will start in the Fortress Age, allowing you to immediately send a bunch of shipments to round out your army.

Your ultimate goal here is to force your way into the British Fort across the river and destroy their Command Post. Doing so will entail building up your economy for quite a while, since you start with very few settlers and resources. If you can get yourself set up, though, you'll need to focus on turning back the enemy raiding parties that constantly come across the river. Setting up a Fort building at its mouth, along with falconets and a large number of cavalry, will let you repulse any attack that they attempt to make. The French forces will also occasionally launch their own raids across the river; you get to see what they see, so you'll be able to tell where critical buildings are in the British fort.

Anyway, when you feel ready to cross the river, do so, and use your artillery to start busting down buildings while your soldiers focus on causing mayhem. If you've gotten to the Industrial Age and have mortars, this should go fairly quickly. You don’t even really need to break down the Fort walls here to fire at the Command Post; you should be able to hit it from long range with your artillery.

As a note, the second Trading Post that you need to control for your Secondary Objective is across the river from the French base. Getting there and building a Trading Post can be difficult.

Mission Five: The Great Lakes

Primary Objectives

  • Advance to the Fortress Age and build an Artillery Foundry.
  • Destroy the three Boneguard Outposts before Warwick's Navy reaches Lake Erie.
  • Destroy Warwick's navy and his Home Base.

Secondary Objectives

  • Avoid losing any of Washington's fleet.

Again, you start here cold and lonely, with few buildings, no troops besides your heroes, and a smattering of settlers. Quickly get to work on building yourself up, using shipments to get a few more soldiers in your army, while saving up to get to the Fortress Age as quickly as possible.

When you get up and running in the Fortress Age, cash in more of your shipments to get more troops to repel the more-frequent British incursions. If you have a Fort card in your deck, build it near the northern gold mine here to discourage their settlers from coming after you. Get some falconets built to deal with their infantry, then quickly amass an army and go after their base to your north; destroying it will let you take down two of their Outposts, leaving only one to go.

You'll need a huge army to take down Warwick's base.

In order to reach the western Outpost, you'll have to cross the channel, but by this time you will have obtained a few ships from Washington, so load up your army and go west, young man! When the third Outpost has been destroyed, another Primary objective pops up, commanding you to destroy all of Warwick's forces, as well as the base that he's built. A few minutes after this, Warwick's navy will sail towards your base; it includes three monitors, so be ready for mortars and long-range attacks. If you micromanage your units, then you might be able to escape without getting any of them killed, but if not, c'est la vie. You should still win handily, if you focus all of your fire on one ship at a time and use your Broadside power when appropriate.

After that's done, all that's left is to get to and destroy the base. If you have a card for a new Town Center, transport the cart across the lake near where the third Outpost was; since you can't build Outposts of your own, this appears to be the only way to get your Home City shipments shifted over to the other landmass. If you don't have that card, then no big deal; you'll just have to use your ships to transport units across to the other land. Regardless, bring a couple of settlers over to construct a barracks and stables, build up a force, and charge into town for the win.

Mission Six: Respect

Primary Objectives

  • Earn 10,000 experience before Warwick kills all five chiefs.

Secondary Objectives

  • Bring the White Buffalo from Warwick's Pen to the Lakota village.
  • Destroy Warwick's Trading Post on the Trade Route.
  • Claim the Lost Gold on Owl Island.
  • Find and return the Lakota Chief's daughter to the Lakota Village in the south.
  • Herd five wild horses to the Lakota village in the south.
  • Build a Trading Post at the Lakota village.
  • Destroy Warwick's Outpost on Barren Hill.

If you want to ensure a victory, just have all of your troops sit around one of the chiefs and prevent the enemy from attacking him.

Another race against the clock...only this time, there isn't a clock. Warwick's goal is to eliminate all the resistance from the Native American tribes in this area, and to that end, he's going to try and kill the five chiefs scattered around the map. Your goal is to earn 10,000 experience before he can eliminate all of them. Obviously enough, this allows you to guard only one or two of them, if you wish; it'll be difficult to save them all in any circumstance, due to the size of the ground between the villages.

Now, there are obviously numerous secondary objectives for you to complete here, if you want to seek them out and accomplish them. Unfortunately, a lot of them are located in the northern end of the map, and sending large groups of soldiers up there will make it difficult to defend the southern chiefs if the Circle sends out raiding parties, and they will. Big ones, too. Of course, since you only have to keep one chief alive, it's fun to just pick one, build a Fort and a couple of Outposts nearby, and set up some Falconets and cavalry in front of him to ensure that no one can get through. In our game, the British never even attacked the westernmost chief; we intercepted one of their parties while we were gunning for their Trading Post, and they left him alone after that.

That said, if you don't mind waiting a bit, you can just set up your economy in the south, guard one of the chiefs (or even wall him in) and sit back while the experience slowly trickles in. If you scout around a bit, you should be able to find five wild horses fairly easily; you can also send a team out to destroy the Trading Post to the west, or the Outpost to the northeast, if you wish. Beyond that, though, you can just relax, fend off raiding parties, and wait until you're at around 8,500 or 9,000 experience before sending all of your forces north to attack Winston's walls. That should get you over the hump to 10,000, at which point the mission will end.

Mission Seven: Warwick's Stronghold

Primary Objectives

  • Destroy Warrick's Town Center inside his fort.

Secondary Objectives

  • Destroy all of Warrick's Outposts.
  • Destroy Warrick's Trading Post at the Sioux village.

Be sure to watch your back here; your mortars can sometimes get ambushed by enemies escorting supply carts from the rear.

This mission can be tough, since you only have 20 minutes to complete the main objective, which is to get close enough to Warrick's fort to destroy his Town Center. During this time, you're going to come under fire from Warrick's men, who'll send punitive raids against you, usually from the west. You also won't be able to build settlers on this map; you'll only have five or six of them available to you, unless you ship more to yourself from the Home City.

In order to collect more resources, then, you'll have to go after the supply wagons that Warrick is bringing into his base. To capture a wagon, you have to intercept it, kill its defenders, take control of it, then send it to your home base. Due to the way your groups of soldiers only move at the speed of the slowest unit, this is easiest to accomplish if you manage to get in front of the cart before it makes it past your base.

Unfortunately for you, it's difficult to both focus on getting the supply carts and defend yourself from incoming raids at the same time. If you have the Fort card, then feel free to build it wherever it'll cause the most problems for your enemy; if you build it inside your base, then you can leave to go after the supply carts without much fear. You don't have to worry too much about the supply carts, though, as you'll start with a large amount of resources, and should be able to send yourself a large army through Home City shipments as you rack up experience through fighting.

When the clock strikes ten minutes or so, though, you'll want to start organizing yourself for the attack on Warrick's base. Just start cranking out as many soldiers as you can, and make sure that you have four or five mortars ready to go, as well. When you have a full squad of soldiers (or more), send them towards Warrick's base, destroy the outlying production buildings and the Fort Towers with your mortars, then move your mortars up to where they can hit the Town Center. At this point, all you need to do is group your soldiers around your mortars until they can finish the job; be careful of supply carts and their guards coming in from the rear before this, or you may find yourself losing your mortars, and that'd be very, very bad.

Mission Eight: Bring Down The Mountain

Primary Objectives

  • Use your Miners to collapse the rock bridges.

Secondary Objectives

  • Destroy a Great Cannon.

Like the very first mission of the game, Bring Down The Mountain will see some frustrating moments early on, but if you can persevere long enough, you should find yourself snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.

Your goal here is to destroy the three rock bridges with your miners. You'll only have a few miners to start out with, but over time (or if they're all wiped out) more will pop out of the cave in the northern corner of the map. Considering that they're the only way you have to crush the land bridges onto the paths below them, you'll want to protect them. Luckily, they have a pretty good TNT attack to defend themselves with when they come under attack; a volley of dynamite will usually kill multiple attackers. Still, you'll need to keep an eye on them to ensure that they don't get wiped out by enemies while you're occupied elsewhere. You do start the game with a pair of culverins, though, so you may be able to use them to protect your miners if you group them all together.

Your culverins will make quick work of the Great Cannons, but can't defend themselves against large groups of infantry, so protect them.

The culverins are really more intended to destroy the Great Cannons that the enemy will be sending up the passes, though. If they manage to get ten of them through the passes before you manage to destroy the rock bridges, then you'll lose, so it's in your best interest to destroy them whenever possible. Culverins are definitely better at this than anything else you have available to you, but if you can surround a Great Cannon with troops, it'll go down eventually. You'll take heavy losses in the bargain, though.

Anyway, the real difficulty here lies in the sheer number of enemies that'll be coming your way. There are two kinds of platoons that will originate from the enemy city to the southwest: platoons including a cannon, which come along with a small guard, and purely punitive platoons (sounds like a band name right there) consisting of large number of cavalry and musketeers. These latter platoons will often come straight towards your base or the mine, killing all of the settlers that they see, while the cannon platoons will move much more slowly. Cannon platoons will avoid combat unless you engage them, in other words, while the punitive platoons will come at you and attempt to distract your resources from the cannon platoons.

One of the punitive platoons will be coming at you within a couple minutes after the start of the game, so you'll want to quickly get a force together to deal with them. Any cards that you have to pop out a lot of units will be helpful, and any starting resources that you have should also go towards building units. Be sure to queue up a bunch of units first, then use a card to ship out more; this will let you exceed the population cap, at least temporarily. If you want to force the platoon to come towards your main, eastern city, then move all of your settlers there as soon as the game begins, but leave one to collect the huge piles of gold near the main. This is putting all of your eggs in one basket, obviously, but you should get away with it if you manage to build enough units.

You'll want to build a few more settlers to go on each resource, but after that, you should expend everything you have on units for your army. It's a good idea to have separate platoons of ranged units and cavalry. The cavalry can make quick runs along the canyons in the area, while the ranged units can sit up on the walls and fire down at passersby; mixing ranged and melee units here will often lead to confusion, as the melee units will find it difficult to get to their targets.

Anyway, as mentioned, your goal is to destroy the three rock bridges. Even if a bridge is destroyed, the Great Cannons will still approach it; they'll just be forced to turn back and try another route when they hit the obstacle. You should keep your miners tasked on the bridges at all times, unless they come under fire; at this point you can lob grenades at the largest concentration of enemies and try to thin their ranks a bit. Again, if your miners get killed, more will pop out of the mine, so no worries there.

A well-placed Fort can greatly slow down the progress of your enemies.

Your Fort card can be helpful here in guarding over the southern passes here. If you send it out early, you can have your miners working on the northernmost rock bridge while you set up your Fort on the plateau just between the two southern bridges. You'll need to back it up with culverins and other ground troops (it'd be a good idea to have your Home City shipments tasked to the Fort, in point of fact, and use it as the primary military training grounds), but with it in place, it'll harry any platoons that attempt to come through the passes it overlooks. Note that the Great Cannons can do a lot of damage to the Fort, though, so be sure to destroy them as soon as it manages to get their attention, and don't forget to repair the Fort in the downtimes between skirmishes.

In all, this mission can be a little rough because the enemy can be in a lot of places at one time, forcing you to manage a number of different fronts at once. Still, since you don't have to block all of the cannons (you can let up to nine pass you by while you work on the rock bridges), you should be able to concentrate on defending yourself against the punitive platoons and defeating the cannons that come along a path that you're defending. In general, we didn't bother chasing down the cannon platoons that left through the northern passage; we concentrated on massing our troops in the other three canyons, the ones with the rock bridges in them, and did our best to force them to blast through us in order to move on. With proper grouping of your soldiers and a frontline Fort that you can send troops to, you should be able to make up your personnel losses fairly quickly; just be sure to keep some soldiers back in your base to harry enemy troops when they come a-calling; if they attack your settlers and manage to wipe them out, your economy will stall out and you'll have a hard time restarting it.

Age III: Steel

Mission One: Race For the Rails

Primary Objectives

  • Build Trading Posts on all sites along the Trade Route.

Secondary Objectives

  • Ally with any Native American tribes in the area.

The primary goal here is to build four Trading Posts on all of the trading sites. Of course, the enemies here will have something to say about that, so you'll need to fight them off. Thankfully, you should have plenty of resources to work with, thanks to plantations and mills, and if you need a quick boost of something in particular, you can just have it delivered to your Trading Posts. You should be able to build a second Trading Post immediately after the start of the map.

The enemy will periodically send large skirmishing parties at you, which will usually make a beeline for your Town Center, so as soon as you can, it'll be a wise idea to upgrade to the Fortress Age and choose the commander that'll give you a Fort cart. If you build the fort just to the west of your town, it'll intercept any soldiers that come your way, and give you much more time to build up your economy to your liking.

Be ready for large groups of enemies to come your way.

Really, though, if you're not interesting in gaining large amounts of experience by destroying the enemy town, you can win this map by just going after the enemy Trading Posts, destroying them, and letting Amelia construct new trading posts on top of them. The enemy Trading Posts are very lightly defended, usually with only an Outpost to guard them, so a single mortar or two (or the two rocket carts that you can get when you reach the Industrial Age) will enable you to steamroll the opposition. If, on the other hand, you want to attack the enemy town before finishing off the map, that's a valid choice as well; just be sure to kill the barracks near the third Trading Post first, or it'll send a bunch of troops at your rear every minute or so.

Note that if you wish to perform a minor cheat that'll make the rest of the game a bit easier than it probably should be, you can destroy almost all of the enemy forces, leaving them only a house and a single trading post. If you build the other three trading posts and set them to generate experience for you, then you should be able to leave the game running for a few hours, or even overnight, and you'll wind up with a ton of levels for your city that you can use to unlock new cards.

Mission Two: Hold The Fort

Primary Objectives

  • Survive until Cooper's men arrive.
  • Destroy all of the Mexican army's Town Centers.

Secondary Objectives

  • Upgrade both Trade Routes to Iron Horses.

This is another of the by-now-standard defense missions, in which your goal is to defend the fort in which you begin until reinforcements can arrive. Luckily for you, you have a couple of trade routes under your control at the outset, which will let you bring in a good amount of resources over time, and you'll also start with a large number of cannons scattered around the edges of your fort.

The first thing you'll want to do here is upgrade your trade routes to use stagecoaches (and later trains), and go around ensuring that all of your cannons are in firing position; they begin in movement position, which can sometimes cause them to stand around doing nothing while the enemies attack the walls. You'll also want to spend your resources to upgrade your Outposts as high as they'll go, and build a few of them between your inner and outer walls in various spots around the base, especially the southeastern entrance. When you have a decent amount of static defenses set up, start building up your forces, concentrating on ranged attackers that can fire from behind the walls and hussars for striking at enemy artillery that's outside the range of your own artillery. You don't need a huge number of settlers here, but if you can send a few more, task them to collect wood, which you'll be able to use to repair your walls and Outposts.

During this time, put Amelia into her own squad and send her out to build Trading Posts at the four empty spots around the map, near your Outposts. These will eventually be destroyed, but in the meantime, they'll give you plenty of resources to work with. Another worthy upgrade can be found at your Church, which can upgrade your Wall hitpoints and turn them to stone.

Note the time of this assault, and prepare for it by moving artillery to cover this wall.

The biggest assault here will come with around five or six minutes left on the timer, when a huge horde of Mexican forces will assault your southeastern gate. With an Outpost in place near it, though, and the accumulated force of your artillery, you should be able to repulse them with only damage to your walls and Outpost to show for their efforts. If they do manage to tear down an outer wall, then wait for a lull in the action and rebuild it with a settler; doing so is fairly cheap. You can even wall in your two exposed gates, if you wish, and build new ones on the exterior walls.

After the 20 minute timer is up, you'll receive reinforcements, in the form of a huge army of skirmishers, hussars, and eight mortars. These guys will appear in the western corner of the map, and as soon as they do, your new objective will be to destroy the Mexican Town Centers. There are two of them to the south, so start the stampede! Protecting your mortars here can be difficult, as there are plenty of Mexican troops to contend with, so continue to pump out new units when your population cap allows, and be sure to move all of your artillery to the northern edge of your base to protect it while you attack the southern Town Centers. After a lengthy mopup sequence you should pull out the win.

Mission Three: The Boneguard's Lair

Primary Objectives

  • Find Beaumont.
  • Drive Beaumont and his men out of the mines.
  • Find and collect the Seminole map.

Secondary Objectives

  • Destroy all of the Boneguard weapons caches.

To start with here, group Cooper and Amelia into one squad and your musketeers into another, and use Cooper and Amelia to scout ahead. They can take a lot more damage than your musketeers can, so let them be the target practice while your muskeeteers stay back and dish out the hurt.

Just keep your Explorers in a separate squad and keep them in front of the rest of your soldiers, and you should be fine.

Soon enough, you'll come to a supply wagon full of food. It'll be guarded by Blackguards, so use Amelia's Double Barrel Attack to finish off multiple foes at one time. When you have control of the wagon, send it to the Native Americans outside to enlist their aid. There are three of these tribes, and each of them will give you a different type of unit when you send them food. Use Kanyenke to scout for the other two villages, then send him inside to join Cooper and Amelia's squad. Again, just keep them out in front, since they can't die, and use their special attacks when fights go sour. You'll come across more stockades and food wagons, so bulk up on your favorite type of units and build a large army.

So long as you keep your heroes out in front of your army, you shouldn't have many problems here. You'll find more Stockades and weapons caches as you go, so so long as you don't miss any passages you'll eventually clear out the entire cave system. At the end, you'll have one large fight against the Boneguard, then you pick up some treasure and you're done.

Mission Four: The Spanish Gold

Primary Objectives

  • Destroy the three Outposts that are guarding the ruined Spanish treasure fleet.
  • Destroy Beaumont's Town Center.

Secondary Objectives

  • Build Trading Posts at the Native villages.
  • Bring Kanyenke to the revealed forest along the southern edge of the swamp.

The caveat to this mission is that you have no gold mines near your base, and can't build plantations. There also aren't any trade routes, so in order to get more gold, you'll need to drive Beaumont away from the grounded Spanish treasure ships, then mine them. Of course, before you can do that, you'll need to get your economy set up. You start in the Fortress age, so you'll be able to immediately send yourself military units or a Fort if you have that card available. You also have a bunch of food in your stores at the beginning of the level, which will let you build a bunch of settlers to go after food and wood.

Most of the enemy raiding parties here will come at you from the southwest, so we preferred to park our Fort just outside of town there, then build a wall from the edge of the map up to the edge of the Fort, to prevent enemies from going around it towards our settlers. If you can force the enemy troops to come around the Fort, you can leave your town almost undefended, and send your own troops down into the bog to take out the enemy Outposts. When you've built yourself up and have shipped out more military units to bolster your forces, built a Trading Post at the nearest Native American village to get the secondary objective; something about a cannon hidden away in the forest?

After the field gun comes online, just guard it and let it do its thing on the enemy.

Before you go to explore, take out the northeastern Outpost of Beaumont's. No need for artillery here, just rush it with your forces and it'll go down quickly enough. If you have enough troops at this point, you can continue on up the rise towards the second Native village, and head from there into the forest that's marked on your map. When you reach it, you'll uncover the ruins of the Fixed Gun that was so awesome for you in the final mission of the first Age; it'll be just as awesome for you now. With 10,000 hit points and a massively deadly bombardment ability, it'll be able to take out the nearby Outpost, as well as any Forts that your foes have built nearby. It will come under constant assault from Natives coming out of the nearby Trading Post, though, so you might want to send a Settler down here to build an Outpost just behind the Fixed Gun to protect it. A few permanent troops as a garrison would be a good idea, as well.

If you can reach this point, then you've probably already won; just build up a large army with some mortars to the rear, march on Beaumont's smallish fort, and take out his Town Center for the win. As per usual, destroy the other nearby buildings for the experience before taking out the critical building.

Mission Five: Bolivar's Revolt

Primary Objectives

  • Help General Bolivar free the town to the north.
  • Help Bolivar free two more towns.
  • Destroy the Spanish Fort's Command Post.

Secondary Objectives

  • Rescue Bolivar. (Pops up if Bolivar is wounded; you have to get your troops to him and he'll revive.)
  • Free all four Spanish towns.

This is a much more mission-oriented map than most; you won't be expected to build a base for yourself. Instead, you'll be taking over a succession of smaller towns under the control of the Spanish, with the help of General Bolivar. You'll get timers periodically, indicating the next time that Bolivar will be attacking, and you'll be asked to support his attack by bringing your troops alongside his.

You'll begin by heading north and conquering the village there, which should go down quickly. Just keep enemy troops off of Bolivar's cannon, and it'll take out the Outpost without too many problems, netting you control of the town and all the settlers within. Unfortunately, this seems to trigger the appearance of an enemy Frigate and a couple of smaller warships, which'll come from the north, so you'll want to immediately start building your own Frigate to help fight them off. Your Town Center will shell the ships as they pass, which is good. With a Frigate and your smaller ship that you start with, you should be able to restore order, then park your ships by the docks here to heal them up.

You'll only have five or six minutes to build up your forces before Bolivar attacks the next town, so get upgrades for whatever units you're shipping to yourself from the Home City and pump whatever other resources you can get into building up your army. There will be some attacks coming your way during this, so don't let Bolivar sit out there on the edge of town alone, or he'll get pounded. It's best to keep Kanyenke and Amelia out in front of all of the troops, so that they take the damage while the other soldiers do the killing.

After building up your forces somewhat (it'd be a good idea to get some falconets shipped to you as a form of light artillery), you'll have to follow Bolivar to the southern town and take that one over as well. There are two Outposts here, but nothing you can't handle. Note that you get a Mortar as soon as you take the town over; immediately move it towards your forces, as sometimes it can be taken out by enemy cavalry before you even notice it's there.

You can get a head start on the final town by attacking it from here; watch out for infantry on the ridge, though.

After you destroy the third town and take it over, you'll need to fortify it somewhat before you can do much with it. There are going to be enemy Outposts on the hill overlooking the town, so quickly move your mortar and cannons up to take them out, then start building up your forces again for another run on the fort itself. You'll get your secondary objective at this point, as well. There's a fourth town that Bolivar's apparently going to ignore, guarded by three Outposts. If you can destroy these (which you'll have to do without Bolivar's help), you'll get the services of a Stable, including a dozen or so lancers right off the bat.

When you make your charge for the fort, you should have plenty of troops to move with. Have your mortar and cannons take out the gate, then slowly move your forces in, destroying any offensive buildings and taking out as many structures as you think you can get away with before killing the Town Center. Don't forget to move your ships around to the Docks and try to destroy any ships you see on the way there.

Mission Six: Journey Through the Andes

Primary Objectives

  • Reach Pacamayo Valley.

Secondary Objectives

  • Don't allow a single Scout to reach the Boneyard army.

Be sure to prevent these scouts from reaching the Boneguards.

This is something of a gimmick map. You don't get any structures, nor are you going to gain any troops during play, so you'll have to be careful not to lose any of the soldiers you start with. You have Amelia and Kanyenke along for the ride, as well as a few riflemen. You're in the Andes, though, and it's freezing cold, cold enough to cause constant damage to all of your units, so that you can't spend more than 60 seconds or so out in the open without dying. There are numerous caves scattered throughout the hills, though, which will instantly heal all of your troops to full health.

Complicating matters somewhat is the fact that the Boneguard army is on your tail, and will catch up to you and kill you if you dilly-dally. They move fairly slow, but if you allow one of their scouts to pass your group and reach the army, they'll presumably speed up. Thus, your secondary objective is to kill all of the scouts that you see. Doing so will require two volleys from your riflemen, but either Amelia or Kanyenke can one-shot them with their special attacks. You'll want to save these special attacks for situations where two or three scouts appear at once, making sure to aim at a different target than your riflemen. You may want to keep Amelia, Kanyenke, and your riflemen in different squads to make it easier to select targets for them individually.

Thus, the basic sequence of events here goes something like this. When you reach a cave, send your riflemen in first to regain their health. If a scout comes up, one-shot it with either Amelia or Kanyenke. When the riflemen are healed, bring them out of the cave and send Amelia and Kanyenke in. When everyone's been healed, start booking it towards the next cave, using your normal fire to kill off any scouts that you see. For the most part, you should ignore any treasure you see, as there really isn't much point to collecting it.

The real difficult spot here comes just after you reach the northern end of the lake. Coming down the eastern side of this lake will be difficult due to the long distance between caves, but if you move as quickly as possible, stopping only to kill scouts, you should be able to make it to the next one. Just save your game before heading out, to ensure that a slipup doesn't cost you all of your progress.

Mission Seven: The Ossuary

Primary Objectives

  • Gather eight artillery units into the flagged area of the village before all three Temples are destroyed.
  • Destroy the Boneguard Town Center.

Secondary Objectives

  • Destroy the Russian Town Center.

Well, you've reached the lost Incan city, high in the Andes, and now have to deal with the presence of the Russians and the Circle of Ossus, both of which are going to try and destroy the city before you can fortify your position. In order to prevent that from happening, you'll need to gather at least eight pieces of artillery into the flagged circle in the middle of the city before all three of the Incan Temples are destroyed. Since two of the Temples are inside of the city, that shouldn't be too hard, right?

A Factory here will prevent most of the Circle forces from getting to your walls.

Well, the caveat is that you can't actually build an Artillery Foundry, so all of the artillery that you're going to be bringing into the circle will either have to be shipments from your Home City, or "hauled up from the coast." So we just nearly froze to death bringing up a few soldiers, but now they're able to haul artillery up the mountain just as you please? Makes sense. Anyway, the bulk of these eight artillery pieces will be from the Home City shipments; by now you'll probably have cards to supply you with falconets and mortars (when you get to the Industrial Age), so all you need to do is get two or three artillery pieces from the western edge of the map back to town, and you'll be set to move on.

Note, however, that you'll be fighting against the Russians in the north and the Circle in the south. The Circle are the ones that will be attempting to attack your city, and the Temples, while the Russians will mostly be content to harry your efforts to bring the artillery back home. You'll definitely need to escort most of the artillery pieces to guard against enemy attacks; feel free to pause and use the artillery to take out any Outposts or Blockhouses that get close enough to attack the path, though. To fend off the Circle in the meantime, though, it can be helpful to build a Fort just outside the walls to the southwest of your city to slow them down. Don't forget that you can actually use the artillery that you're collecting; just place it on the inside of the wall, and move it into the circle when you have all eight pieces ready and waiting to go.

The Russian raiding parties will get bigger and bigger as time goes on, so you may have to take them out before you go for the Circle.

When you do have eight pieces of artillery assembled, then your objective changes, and you'll be tasked with destroying the Boneguard Fort inside their base. This is going to be a tall task, and this is where the game can bog down a bit, as you amass the forces that you'll need to head out and take down their defenses. You already have a bunch of artillery, obviously, which is good, and you should be able to repel the Circle's attacks almost indefinitely with your Fort and falconets scattered around your southern wall. You should also be able to generate infinite food and gold with Mills and Plantations. Wood, however, will be in short supply, so you'll want to get yourself a Factory at some point, either through a card or by choosing the appropriate leader when you upgrade, and retool it to produce a trickle of wood for yourself. Factories can also be used to make heavy artillery, though, so if you want to use it for that, you'll still be able to make plenty of cavalry, since they don't need wood to be built.

If you can defend your walls, then you should be able to sit back, amass an army, and run out to the Boneguard Fort when you feel ready to do so. Unfortunately, the Russians will begin to assemble some frighteningly large parties to attack your northern wall, including artillery. If you have two Forts to work with, then build your other one so that it'll block their path to your northern walls. Even this doesn't always work, though, since they can fire at your walls through the canyon cliff and destroy it before you can eliminate their artillery. Annoying! You might want to take the time to construct a huge army and attack the Russians before dealing with the Boneguards, if only to prevent them from raiding you. The experience won't matter much, though, since this is the second-to-last mission, so if you don't want to bother taking the time, just go after the Boneguards and hope your northern defenses hold until you win the map.

Mission Eight: Last Stand of the Boneguard

Primary Objectives

  • Bring Amelia to Havana's Town Center.
  • Survive until U.S. Navy arrives.

Secondary Objectives

  • Ally with the Carib Native Americans.
  • Destroy the Circle's navy.
  • Advance to the Imperial Age.

Well, by its very nature the end of a game is usually anticlimactic, and so it is with the last mission of Age of Empires III. If you were gearing up for some incredibly difficult fight against overwhelming odds, maybe you'll find it online or in a skirmish match, but for the most part, if you can survive the first ten minutes or so of this map, you'll wind up crushing the Circle.

First off, land Amelia and her soldiers on the southern portion of the island. As per usual put her and Kanyenke in one squad, and everyone else in another, and have Amelia lead the way to the enemy Town Center. Don't worry about the treasure that you see in your path, as it really won't matter all that much in the long run.

A couple of Forts in the right positions can lock down the approach that your enemy takes.

When you get to the Town Center, they'll give you a settler's cart, which you can use to create a Town Center of your very own. Build it near the gold mines nearby, and immediately ship yourself a few more soldiers to build up your army a bit, and a Fort card if possible. You're going to want to set up your Fort on one of the rises near where the enemy comes out of their base, so that you can use its offensive power to slow their raiding parties and weaken them up. Be warned, though, that the Circle will be sending a lot of artillery out at you, so have hussars standing by to intercept them if necessary. If you manage to get two Fort cards (one as a shipment and one as a reward for your Age advancement), then set them up so that they both overlook the small passage that the Circle normally chooses to advance along. Sometimes they'll send troops on an end around towards your base, though, so you'll probably want an Outpost or two back there to protect your villagers.

Anyway, if you can deal with the incoming troops (and that shouldn't be too hard with a Fort or two), you'll eventually get ships from the U.S. Navy, including a pair of monitors. And that, my friends, is game over. The monitors are obscenely overpowered on this map, as they can fire their mortar shells from a huge distance away from their target, and take down most buildings in the enemy base in one volley. The first buildings you want to take down are the Artillery Foundries on the northern side of the enemy base; dealing with those will prevent the enemy from making more artillery to harry you with. After that, take out one of the gates and the Outposts near the entrance; this will let your Cuban friends charge into the base and cause a general ruckus, hopefully preventing any more troops from actually exiting.

These monitors will effectively win the game by themselves.

From there, you can continue to pound the enemy with your monitors as you like; they'll make some feeble attempts at rebuilding, but it shouldn't amount to much. Don't forget to shell the Fixed Guns before attempting to move around the island, and likewise don't forget that you can fire your mortars at units, so if you see a group of cannons clumped together, take them out. With the monitors in your possession, you've basically already won the game; the Circle just needs a little convincing. If you want to ally with the Carib Natives, then use your frigate to transport a settler to the island after you've destroyed the troops there, and build your Trading Post.

Anyway, you can do things the hard way if you wish, but you shouldn't have any trouble keeping the Circle inside their base and building up your economy to the point where you're virtually unstoppable. And that, as they say, is that.

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