Ghenghis Khan 3: Into China
This scenario is harder than average. As is true for many AoE scenarios, your back will be to the wall for a long time, and then resistance will suddenly collapse. However, in this case, the pressure will be greater than normal, and it will last longer than normal. The only reason the scenario doesn't get the hardest possible rating is that, if you play well, there is no real risk that your enemies will ever penetrate to your home areas.
There are a number of specific problems.
- You are heavily outnumbered for almost the entire scenario. You start out with almost nothing, facing three fully developed enemies and two others. First you have to do a fair bit of searching before you can find a relatively weak enemy. Then you have to fight your way into their camp using advanced tactics, because this enemy is weak only compared to your other enemies, not compared to you. Then you have to quickly throw up minimal defenses. Then you will be facing heavy attacks by superior forces for a long time as you slowly build up. And, when you are finally fully developed, only THEN do you reach the happy condition that you are outnumbered 3.5 to one. After that, as you slowly, slowly try to advance, you have to deal with the hard problem of how to actually finish off players with an infinite supply of wood.
- You are seriously population-limited. A mixed water-land map always stretches your resources. An optimum population would be 10 warships, 10 monks, 10 cavalry, 10 cavalry archers, 5 artillery, 5 spare slots, and 25 villagers. You will be stretched thin in every category except cavalry archers. To be comfortable, you would need 5 more warships, better monks, 5 more cavalry, 5 more artillery, 5-10 more villagers, and 5-10 foot archers.
- You have a significant resource deficit. You can reasonably expect to get 14 gold mines, with one more in your starting stockpile, which is adequate, unless you take heavy casualties. You can reasonably expect to get 10 stone mines, with 3.5 more in your starting stockpile, which is enough to put together a very strong defense, but not enough for offensive stonework. And it should already be clear that, without offensive stonework, the scenario gets much, much harder. At the same time, the Jin get 23 gold mines and THIRTY-TWO stone mines, plus an unknown starting stockpile, and they start fully developed. The Tanguts get 14 gold mines and 9 stone mines, plus an unknown starting stockpile, and they start fully developed. The Hsi Hsia get 10 gold mines and 9 stone mines, plus an unknown starting stockpile, and they start fully developed. These three groups will simply not run out of resources any time soon. The Sung get 10 gold mines and 5-8 stone mines, plus an unknown starting stockpile, but they need to build up, so they are relatively weak. There are a further 5 gold mines and 15 stone mines in a "no-man's land" that you will want to grab for yourself. These are details that you will not reasonably have full access to while playing the game, but you can get some sense of it by looking at the scores.
- You will be facing heavy attacks by the most powerful units (monks, heavy artillery, warships, the Chinese special archers, and so forth) for a very long time, and they arrive in mixed groups, which is an important force multiplier. The enemy mobile forces are strong against your force, and there really isn't much that you can do about this. Because of these attacks, you will have some difficulty in accessing the gold and stone that are nominally yours.
- The Great Wall of China will cause you serious problems. Primarily, you have to stay away from it for a very long time, so the territory you have available to work with is quite small. This means that you don't have the space to build proper defenses, and you don't have the space in front of your defenses to properly deal with siege weapons. Accordingly, you will be so busy just trying to hold things together that it will be very hard to expand. The second major problem is that enemy attacks will only be marching while they are protected by the Wall; they deploy as soon as they cross it. You won't be getting a lot of free attacks against their attacks. The third major problem is that you will not be able to do what your force is optimized for, which is raiding, until after you have reduced the Wall, which is a slow and painful process. However, you are devious, you are Mongols! There are things that you can do to confound your enemies.
- The map is huge, and quite open. On the one hand, this means that it will be very hard to hunt down and finish off your enemies after you have defeated them, and be certain that they will be rebuilding very quickly at all times. On the other hand, it means that your offensive stonework will require special techniques.
- You cannot produce Bombard Cannons, which have very important mobility and other advantages compared to trebuchets. You will eventually find some lying around somewhere, but by then, you won't really need them.
- There is one more serious, serious danger, which will be discussed later on.
You do have some advantages. The main one is that a large part of the map is accessible by water. Only one of your enemies builds a navy, although that one navy alone will give you a headache. After you achieve naval dominance, you will be able to travel over almost all the map and nuke anything you want. It will not be easy, because your land-bound enemies do fight back strongly, and your small navy cannot be everywhere at once to prevent reconstruction, but it will be a lot easier than trying to fight them on land. Your second advantage is yourself, you devious so-and-so!
Start by scouting aggressively. (Where have you heard this before?) Scout forward with the light cavalry, and fill in the gaps with the cavalry archers. There are at least some hints that one specific direction will be the most rewarding, but the fact is, you shouldn't actually know what the map looks like until you've explored it. AoE has Fog of War for a reason. So be reasonable and find out what's going on by legal procedures. Anyway, the advantage to be gained by clairvoyance here is minimal at best.
In short order, you will find out that you are hemmed in by a massive wall with strong defenses. Be very careful near the wall. You will find a few sheep, and more than a few wolves. These wolves must be very hungry, because they actually attack your cavalry. If you get the opportunity to kill some of these wolves quickly and safely, do so. You will recruit a Transport Ship, and you now have no choice left but to cross the river. Note that sheep cannot be transported across water. The Chinese are already scouting this region, so if you want to hang onto your sheep, you will need to guard them.
There is a small village of "Engineers" just outside the main wall. You can recruit six villagers and some siege equipment there. If you are clairvoyant, i.e. if you cheat, you can get these units without actually fighting the Engineers. However, there are other resources available in that village, specifically, two sheep, six farms, lots of wood and some more food, some space to build, and access to the Yellow Sea, and to get those, you definitely have to defeat the Engineers.
Ferry your troops across the river and scout the village. If you just rush into the village with all guns blazing, you can't realistically lose, not that you know this a priori, but the Engineers have enough defensive potential that they can cause you significant damage. At this point, you have no idea how much fighting your little force will have to do before reinforcements and healing are available. Therefore you must avoid as much damage as possible. Use Bait-and-Switch and Ambush tactics. Put your Light Cavalry against their archers, and your cavalry archers against their melee infantry. Hide in the Transport if necessary. This fight is complicated by the lack of maneuver space. Furthermore, you need to avoid activating too many triggers at once, so your scouts need to crawl forwards carefully. At the same time, you must proceed as quickly as you can. If you do all this properly, you will probably kill all the Engineers' troops before recruiting anything.
As soon as you get your recruits, put them to work immediately. The battering ram should take out the Tower, gate, and Town Center, in that order, and then work over the rest of the buildings. The catapult should start grinding away at the Town Center, which is safe because it has a superior range. Your cavalry needs to stay away from the TC, but pick off enemy villagers when the opportunity arises.
You have two reasonable choices of where to build your base: on the mainland outside the Wall, or on the Engineers' island. Choose both, but start on the island. There are other places you could build, but they involve cheating, because you haven't scouted them yet, so they are not being recommended.
Your villagers should start building things even before the Engineers surrender. Priorities are 4 Houses, a Town Center, an Archery Range, a Blacksmith, and then a dock. You do not have enough resources to deviate from this production list. Build the Town Center in the back, beside two of the farms. Later on, you can build a Mill where the Engineers' TC is as a depot for the other farms. This production list allows you to start building some important units, as well as enter the Castle Age. You have enough resources in your starting stockpile to enter the Castle Age immediately, but it is probably better to build a few more villagers first. Avoid capturing the farms until later if you can, because they are worth more if you do the Mill research first. You have enough meat standing around to permit this. Build your first dock as far upriver as you can (but not on top of fish!) for safety. As wood starts coming in, build something like 5 Galleys, and upgrade them to War Galleys as soon as possible.
Start producing villagers as soon as possible. One thing you could do to make this scenario easier is to overproduce villagers, even as many as 50, and then disband them when you can actually afford to produce troops.
Heavy attacks will start arriving very soon. You actually need to build your first stone wall as soon as the enemy Tower goes down. Wall off the east side of the river ford (with a gate). You will defend this primarily with your fleet for now. You will probably be unable to even knock down the enemy gate blocking off the island before the first attack arrives. Be prepared to extract your battering ram by water. You do need to knock down that gate, because it is the only way to collect your sheep from the mainland.
Don't bother building Towers in this scenario. Did we mention that the enemy attacks will be heavy? Consider an attack consisting of a battering ram, a catapult, some spear infantry, and some archers, including the Chinese special ones. Your light cavalry and cavalry archers won't even be able to approach this force, let alone beat up the siege weapons, so the attack will simply cut through your wall, knock down your Tower, and keep going. You have just lost 150 stone. This kind of attack is about the minimum that you will face. As soon as the enemy starts using heavy artillery, which is actually very soon, any Towers you build will just fall down like water.
As soon as you enter the Castle Age, produce a couple of monks. You have now spent 200+200+150+100 gold, and have only 150 left, with no more coming in for a while. Save the rest for ship repairs. If you find that you need ranged units, build Skirmishers instead of archers for now.
When you can spare a few villagers from economic duties, but not before they have at least one speed upgrade, start building a Wall Maze Complex on the mainland. It needs to be reasonably close to the Great Wall. Make sure that you don't seal yourself in fully anywhere, unless you can beat a direct attack on your wall. For example, your navy should be able to defend the river ford, so you can seal off the east side of the ford, but your army is still too weak to fight in the open at this time. The main reason for this is that you are facing fully upgraded units, but you can't afford to get many upgrades yet. You can start collecting gold and later, stone, once your WMC provides the miners some safety. Be aware that your miners could be extracted by ship in a pinch.
You start with enough stone that you can afford one castle in addition to your WMC. You could incorporate a castle into your WMC. However, that is not really a good idea until you can be certain of destroying attacking siege weapons. On the other hand, a castle is very useful and pretty safe when used to support your navy. If your navy runs into too many enemy warships, just lure them back to your castle, where they automatically get sunk. Only Cannon Galleons pose a threat to the castle, and the AI does not use them properly. Build the castle as far east as possible, where it dominates the whole channel and gives you a safe harbor to the north. You might have to remove some trees first. Build a second dock in that harbor.
As gold starts to come in, you can start to build up your forces. Because you have to deal with ongoing heavy attacks, you cannot afford to focus on your economy alone. You will need 2-5 heavy cavalry, a couple of Mangudai, and a couple more monks. You will also need at least 8 War Galleys. Half will defend the river ford for now, and half can try to push into the Yellow Sea. At some point, the Hsi Hsia get Ballistics, and then traveling along the river becomes risky. You will also need just about every upgrade before you can even think about entering the Imperial Age.
You can't get very far into the Yellow Sea without encountering the Jin navy. Their warships are individually significantly better than yours. Fortunately, you only encounter them one by one at this point. Lure them back to your castle if you can, although they tend to not cooperate. If you find a fishing boat, show no mercy!
The Tower at the extreme seaward end of the Great Wall controls too much of the sea. You can actually take it out with your battering ram and navy, and should do so.
About 40 minutes into the scenario, Jin starts to build a Wonder. This is really, really bad. Jin is so far ahead of you at this point that your prospects of taking them out are about nil. What you need to do is get into the Imperial Age, and you probably won't have any gold stockpiled yet, and then you need about 5 Cannon Galleons, about 5 trebuchets, and about 5 more monks, which should put you at the population limit. Then you will need to beat the Jin fleet and work over their strong defenses with naval bombardment. Then you will need to establish a beachhead and slowly push stonework into their city, not that you actually have any stone. The only problem with this approach is that you simply don't have time. The only other problem with this approach is that your 2.5 other enemies are trying to smash you on the mainland. In fact, the only problem with any reasonable approach is that it is hopeless. Well. Just do the best you can, and hope for a miracle.
As soon as you are notified about the Wonder, focus on entering the Imperial Age. If you haven't already done so, now would be a good time to overproduce villagers. You will need a lot of gold and stone very soon. You have to produce Cannon Galleons as fast as possible. You can build them all on the Yellow Sea, or half at each dock. Upgrading them to Elite is very important. Upgrading your War Galleys is also very important.
Build one trebuchet as soon as you can. Use it to start grinding up the enemy Towers along the river. This operation is safe. If you built some Cannon Galleons upriver, use them to help out, but note that they sometimes have difficulty hitting targets behind a wall. Leave the wall itself intact, of course.
As your naval offensive starts to develop, you find that the Jin fleet simply can't cope. The maximum fleet size that you ever have to deal with is five Galleons, and that is rare. On the other hand, you will have as many as eight Galleons in action, and you can keep them in top condition quite easily. Your heavy naval artillery should be in action nearly continuously, and they raze everything they can reach. Cannon Galleons are just devastating against an AI.
When you have wiped out all the enemy Towers on the river, redeploy your trebuchet and start grinding up the Towers on the inland part of the Wall. This is still safe, because your land-bound enemies don't use much cavalry. You may have to flee with the trebuchet from time to time, however.
With the Towers on the river eliminated, it becomes possible to scout some of the territory on the Chinese side of the Wall. Do so. Here and elsewhere, you will find enormous amounts of stone and some gold just lying around. Start to wall some of this territory off. Not only does this deny the enemy those resources in case they might want them, but it also gives you safe places to land villagers to support your navy.
Well before the Wonder is complete, you should have completely eliminated all naval opposition and razed everything that your Cannon Galleons can reach on the Jin continent. You should be at the population maximum, having disbanded the three recruited units. To recap, the optimum population is probably 25 villagers, 10 monks, 8 Galleys, 4 Cannon Galleons, 3 Transport Ships, 5 Light Cavalry, 5 knights, 4 Mangudai, 6 cavalry archers, and 5 trebuchets. It would be nice to have Camels, but they are less flexible than knights. You can't have any foot archers. Of course, you never buy infantry, right? You should have researched all of your upgrades except the most expensive ones. You should have large stockpiles of every resource except gold.
It is time to start pushing your stonework into the Jin city. You can do this for a while, but once you cross an invisible line, it will seem that you have poked a hornet's nest. No problem. Just get back in the boat and build elsewhere. Pretty soon you can bring over some monks and start possessing the Jin cavalry. Don't expect your recruits to survive at this time. Don't try to possess archers!
Keep doing the Mongol thing - raiding - to the Jin. Considering that most of your ground troops are needed on the mainland, this may not be very effective, but do the best you can. Whatever cavalry you have available won't be able to do much outside the city walls, but at least you can learn that nothing is happening out there.
Bring over most of your trebuchets. Build a wall compartment outside the Jin city, deploy your trebuchets, blow something up, and retreat. Repeat as necessary. Jin uses cavalry and archers and a few monks. Their cavalry is impotent on the other side of the wall, monks can't hurt trebuchets from range, and archers are largely ineffective against them.
Jin doesn't seem to rebuild anything. They certainly won't be able to rebuild their docks, but one wonders what they are spending their resources on. They do have a lot of workers. After they lose their castles and monastery, all they have left is cavalry, and then your monks can have a field day.
Eventually you will have to take out Jin's Wonder. In principle, you could drive right through their city and do it, but since you don't really have a large ground force available, it is more prudent to go all the way around their city, approaching from the south. Build a wall compartment, deploy the trebuchets, and kiss the Wonder good-bye. It turns out to actually have been quite easy to do this. At the beginning, we were hoping for a miracle, and we got one, in a sense. Jin only uses ONE worker to build the Wonder! It takes them about one hour, game time, to build it, and that is a lot of time. Bear in mind as well that you still have time to destroy a Wonder after it is built.
You probably don't want to kill Jin off entirely. They are producing heavy cavalry on contract that is a bit better than what you can build, and in any case, having more of them is definitely useful. You may want to set up some sort of factory farm arrangement, where you feed Jin some gold and take over their production. But make sure they don't use any stone, and make sure that they leave some gold for you as well.
In the meantime, you are still defending on the mainland. As you slowly grind away at the Wall, the operation is getting riskier the closer to the gate you get, because that's where their counter-attacks will sally from. The land-bound Chinese are starting to use trebuchets by now. This isn't really a problem, because the only thing they can reach is your Maze Complex. Your home base should be entirely on the small island, and that's just not accessible.
At some point, Jin is down to a handful of villagers and nothing else. The villagers stand around aimlessly, because you have sealed them off from any resources. You can be fairly certain that they still have a large stockpile, but they don't produce anything. Whether you kill Jin off completely now or later is largely academic. Your fleet and whatever ground forces you have over there are now available for other missions. At around this time, you have probably finished off all the Great Wall Towers and have cut through the gate. You should have claimed the area south of the eastern part of the Wall for yourself; this gives you access to an awful lot of stone and some gold. You should have seized more stone and gold on Jin's continent.
Note: If you have the conqueror's expansion, you are lucky. You don't even really need to advance to the imperial age. Build a castle ASAP, if you haven't. Then, start creating an army full of Petards, and in the meantime create a few transport ships. Now, when you have around 30 Petards, get them all in the transport ships, and go towards the east, you will find Jin's base. Now, get the Petards out of the transport ships, then knock down a wall of Jin, preferably one which is away from Towers. This would have you lose a few Petards. Now, get all of the remaining guys to the Wonder and nuke it! You can expect to have a few Petards remaining, use them to destroy the Town Centre. The good thing is...that they never re-build.
The rest of the scenario can be considered relatively easy for a number of reasons. First of all, you are not under any time pressure, so you can take things as easy as you like. Second, you now have lots of resources at your disposal, and you will be finding lots more that the Chinese seem to have no interest in exploiting. Third, as you push your stonework forward, you will be defending further and further from any critical areas, so troops that used to be tied to defense become available for other missions. Fourth, your troops can now be used in a way that optimizes their performance, which is raiding. Finally, you will now be hurting the Chinese beyond just killing off their field armies.
The first thing you will be doing is pushing your Cannon Galleons up the river in the south of the map, supported by Galleons, of course. In this area, you will be nuking the Sung to the south, and the Hsi Hsia and eventually the Tanguts to the north. Beware of monks! Because you will be well over the population limit by now, any losses you take will be very damaging. The Chinese will also use artillery against your ships. Make sure to support your fleet with villagers, sealing off sanitized areas with stonework. Some cavalry, monks, and trebuchets will also be useful here.
The second thing you will be doing is scouting the mainland from the north. This becomes feasible as soon as you have sealed off the hole in the Great Wall with a gate. As you scout the fringes of Tangut territory, you recruit six Bombard Cannons way over to the west. Extract them immediately. You will find no defenses whatsoever in the north part of China. You can start raiding this area with almost complete impunity. The most dangerous opposition comes from monks, but Chinese monks are weak compared to other monks because they don't get the range upgrade, and they don't seem to get the size upgrade here.
The Tanguts are weak because they don't have any stonework. The Hsi Hsia are weak because they stay in a small geographical area. The Sung are just plain weak. You will probably be attacking all of these nations simultaneously.
There is a standard approach to defeating your remaining enemies. Raid. Push your stonework forward, aiming towards a Castle Attack. Repeat. The main thing to keep in mind is that they have so much space to rebuild that it becomes very hard to track them all down, so you need to make a serious effort to contain them before the final attack goes in. Also be aware that if you defeat an enemy by killing all of their villagers, if they still have resources stockpiled, their last act before surrendering is to tribute those resources to an ally.
Historical note: The map geography is wrong. Tangut and Hsi Hsia are really the same thing. What is called Hsi Hsia on the map in the scenario introduction is really part of Jin. In addition, it was Sung, rather than Jin, that the Mongols actually had to cross the water to attack. Not that the game map corresponds particularly to the real world.