Rating: Moderate (low resources)
No more war!! You have no enemies at all in this scenario. Enjoy the peace while it lasts.
Since you have no enemies, you might as well work. Your overlords of Kyushu require it, anyways. You will need to pay them to maintain the peace. That is the relationship between liege and vassal. Hopefully, you can afford to keep the relationship going as long as you want.
Your first objective is to grab all the resources you can, especially ore. You will need at least 40 villagers. Study this very carefully.
Assign one of your initial villagers the task of building the infrastructure necessary to get a Scout. Do this in good order, and your 11th unit should be a Scout. Other than that, just keep sucking in the resources. You should find one gold mine very quickly. You also have 9x150 food just from foraging.
At the 3.0 minute mark, Red (Tang) demands 200 gold. Save the game. Of course, you have to pay this tribute, and probably lots more. You have 30 s to pay. Delay 15 s. Can you afford to keep the tribute going? Assuming that the tribute schedule will be regular, you will have to fork over 250 gold every 3 minutes (the bank gets their cut). If it takes one worker 30 s to bring in 10 gold, then you will need to allocate 4 workers to the job, which is not really a problem. As long as the supply lasts, that is.
You can tell from the Achievements that you are doing quite well. You started with 4 villagers, as did Tang, who also had 12 troops. Yellow had 3 villagers. Now you have 12 villagers plus one Scout, Tang has 6 villagers plus 12 troops, and Yellow has 11 villagers.
Keep exploring. You will find a large stone deposit, so get over there and start sucking it in. At the 6:15 minute mark, Tang demands 200 gold again. Save the game. You can now refine the tribute schedule. Each demand will probably come exactly 3.0 minutes after you last paid tribute. Unfortunately, you have found no more gold. You have enough to pay the second demand, and you should be able to afford the third demand, but after that, your supplies will be exhausted.
You need to immediately decide whether you need a second Scout. At the beginning of the scenario, you had explored almost none of the map. You should have explored almost half of it by now, in a little more than 3 minutes. Therefore, your one Scout should have explored almost all of the map in the next 3 minutes, which is when your gold mine will run out. If you cannot find any more gold by then, you will need to abandon your initial base and set up shop somewhere else. It is important to study this idea very carefully.
You should now have 22 villagers vs. 9 for Tang and 18 for Yellow. It is starting to look as though you will not be able to keep paying the tribute. Therefore there is no point in getting a really huge number of villagers; stop at 25. Also start preparing to build ships. Any new Houses you build now should be spread out, so that they won't all get blown away at once when the hammer falls.
The third tribute demand comes at 9:30 minutes. You should have explored all of the continent by now, and there is no more gold to be had. It is time to prepare to flee. Suck in as much of the stone as you can. You might not get it all, but you should be close.
You will pay the third tribute at 9:45 minutes, and you know that the hammer will fall at 13:15 minutes. Your stone miners should start running for your Transports at about 12:30 minutes. Your foragers and woodcutters can probably keep working for a while after that, depending on where the Tang troops are. You definitely want to save every villager. You will need two Transports to get them all out in good order. It is important for the student to study this very carefully.
You will eventually need a fleet, and you should start producing it as soon as you have enough wood. Actually, your first ship should be a Scout Ship. Explore as much of the map as you can. You will find Yellow in the north corner of the map. They are likely to be hostile to you at this time, and they have at least one Scout Ship. Just stay away from them for now.
There is an island on the NW edge of the map. It has considerable amounts of gold and wood. It is occupied by a bunch of Lion Kings. You cannot access these resources at the present time, but the other players will never get them, because the AI cannot move villagers across a water barrier.
There is a large island in the west corner of the map. This is where you need to rebuild. Your second ship should be a Transport, and your Scout should explore this island as soon as you are done with the continent. There are only two landing spots. One is at the northern tip of the island, but it is not suitable for Operation Dunkirk. The other is on the SE edge of the island. There is a narrow path through the forest there. This island has a fair bit of stone, an adequate amount of wood, and a lot of wild food.
As your villagers start arriving on the western island, they are probably going to just be standing around for a while. Your attention will be entirely occupied with Operation Dunkirk, and you will not be able to micromanage the refugees. There are a number of points to keep in mind. First, you need to stay out of catapult range of the continent. Second, you want to avoid cutting down the forest on the SE side of the island. You may eventually want to seal off the path through this forest, but that actually serves little purpose. Third, your new Town Centre should be built near the forage area and the main stone deposit. You will need a TC fairly soon in order to research Bronze Age. It is too risky to do that research at your original TC. If the Tang delay in attacking your original TC, you should just delete it, because you probably won't be able to build a new one otherwise. Fourth, you should build a new Market quickly because it allows important research. Fifth, you should build an Archery Range, not a Stable, because you can't get useful troops with a Stable at this time. Sixth, you need to build a Storage Pit in the extreme west corner of the map and suck in that wood, using about 10 villagers. Seventh, you should do the initial stonework research before your first Granary gets blown up. It is important to study these points carefully.
You need to be concerned about invasions. If the Tang decide to invade you, there isn't much you can do about it, so just assume that it won't happen. If Yellow decides to invade you, you might be able to do something. If they do invade, they may come in via the northern beach. You should position your fleet there, and you could wall off the approach to your base. Note that large ships such as Transports and Scout Ships cannot enter the bay in the middle of your island. Build a Tower on the north tip of your island.
When you explored the continent, you did not see a Tang dock. But soon after you built your dock, you will have seen some Tang civilian ships. Therefore the Tang must have a dock. This means that you will need some sort of a fleet very soon. Get about 4 Scout Ships. Less will be insufficient, but you probably can't afford any more. You will need to replace your Houses quite soon in order to keep producing ships.
The Tang will try to trade at your dock. It is important to prevent this as best you can. You know that they have only 600 gold, plus their initial stockpile. Don't allow them to get any more! If necessary, delete your dock. In practice, the Tang will destroy the golden goose themselves.
When the Tang catapults show up on the west side of the continent, extract all of your ships from the channel. You should be able to get them all out, as long as you maneuver correctly.
After your dock is gone and you have moved your forces to safe areas, it is time to think about expanding. The first step is to ensure that the Tang do not have a dock on the north side of the continent. As you do this, you may realize that Yellow is actually hostile to the Tang. Yellow may or may not remain hostile to you, but in any case, you want to remain on friendly terms with them unless you have no choice. Get your Scout onto the Yellow island. You find that they have a bunch of villagers and nothing else. No production buildings, nothing. Their island is devoid of resources.
Next, you need to build another dock. The best place to build it is on the extreme SW edge of Lion Island. Use your Scout Ships to chase the lions away from the area first.
The next step is to secure a gold supply. You could just kill the lions, but waste not, want not, it's probably better to eat them. Work them over first with your fleet, driving them to the north side of the island as you do so, build a Storage Pit, lure them over one by one, and then eat them. Start sucking in the gold as soon as the coast is clear. You should probably produce a couple of Cavalry and a priest before anything else, if for no other reason than to help with the lions. After that, collect exactly enough to research Iron Age and Coinage, and only mine the rest later. This is standard for low-gold scenarios.
You will definitely need the wood on Lion Island. It's too risky to cut down the forest on the SE edge of your base. That might provoke a Tang invasion, which you still can't deal with. It also puts your workers too close to the Tang.
At some point, the Tang will start to attack you with War Galleys. They only show up one by one, and they die quickly, but it's a steady drain on your wood supply, and the Tang have far more wood than you. When your wood gets very low, you simply have to get back onto the continent to secure your wood supply. Of course, you will need to take your army as well. Two priests, one Cavalry, one Scout, and one catapult is sufficient. Actually, it's pretty much your entire army. You should recruit some enemy Phalanxes to augment your forces. Use your cavalry units to interdict the Tang woodcutters.
When you have a steady supply of wood again, then your food income will also jump. Both farming and fishing require a certain amount of wood, and you couldn't afford it before now.
The Tang have one priest. He will convert one of your units, and then he will die. The Tang also have some catapults. Other than that, their forces are ineffective. The easiest way to end the scenario is to produce a group of horse archers. If you truly wanted to, you could have done some gold trading, but by the time you had the resources to support that, the scenario was already effectively over.
Note: It might be possible to keep the tribute going longer, not that you would particularly want to, but it would require the usual cheats in order to find gold sources.