We present four completely different approaches to this scenario.
Strategy 1: The Corregidor approach
There is a very easy (yet not as glorious) way to win this scenario. Northwest of your city lies an island which is large enough for you to build your Wonder on. This may require you to abandon your city to your land-based enemies, but the good part is that you will not have to bother fighting them at all.
At the beginning, research "bracer" at the blacksmith, then task your fishing ships to fishing, your villagers by the town center to lumbering and your villagers by the mines to stone mining. Use all the extra food that you will get to create more villagers and task them to stone mining.
While the enemy starts rushing to your walls and Towers, create three Transport Ships (two should be enough if you decide to leave your army behind). As soon as the enemy becomes a threat to your villagers (when your watchmen tell you "Templars preparing to attack" should be a good time for you to leave), board them on the ships and head for the island.
When you reach the island, have a few villagers build ten to twenty Towers around the island to protect you from Genoese warships, the only enemy units which can still attack you (but they are not a big threat). The southern part of the island is where you will want to build your Wonder, so make sure to leave enough room. Task the other villagers on the wood and gold.
Once you have collected all the gold from the southern mines, you can start building your Wonder. If you don't have enough stone left, build a Market to get what you need, then destroy it. From now on, you just have to wait for your Wonder to be completed and for the timer to run out.
This is probably the fastest way to win the scenario. It cannot be considered a sleazy way to win. Ask yourself why that island is there. It does not exist in the real world environment of Acre, so obviously the scenario designer added it for a specific purpose. There is, however, a crucial reason why this method works, and that is because the Genoese are not permitted to build Cannon Galleons. If they were, of course, your island, all your towers, and your Wonder, would be toast, unless you were able to maintain a fleet to sink the Cannon Galleons.
Strategy 2: Direct assault
This is the most direct way to win. However, it requires you to be clairvoyant and prescient. That is, you need to know what is happening all over the map, even if you can't legally see it, and it requires you to know what will happen in the future. To be specific, you need to know where your enemies are and where certain resources are without actually scouting, and you need to know that your enemies do not properly employ heavy artillery to do you in.
Take all your starting military units, (apart from the Mangonels) and 5 villagers to the left hand side of the map and go up until you find a gold patch. Immediately build a castle and a Town Centre. Use the military units to fend off any Paladins. At home, start mining gold, get a villager to build a Mill and start producing villagers on farms and gold. Fishing ships should get going as well. Once the castle is built, get two trebs and then with those 5 villagers build a Town Centre in between the gold and the trees and start chopping the wood. With the trebs, start attacking the Teutons and the Franks, going for the Towers, then the Town Centre, then the Teutons' castle. You will get hit by some French Bombard Cannons, Siege Rams, and Hand Can'rs first. Use your units to take them out. Getting a monastery then a monk wouldn't go amiss either. The trebs should be doing a lot of damage, you will get attacked by some Paladins and some Teutonic Knights, but the Mamelukes, Archers of the Eyes and cav archers should be more than enough to see them off. Once you've taken out the castle, go for the villagers while the trebs take out the rest of the buildings. The Franks and the Teutons will soon resign. While all this is happening, don't forget to make sure that you're producing villagers to bring in the resources. Your main base is never attacked, but if so, the Mangonels and Towers will defend you. I have 11 lumberjacks, 15 farmers and 15 miners. I delete the 4 Galleons and fishing ships once the Franks and Teutons go down. With your trebs and cav archers, Genoa is easy: trebs take down Towers then Town Centre then docks, and cav archers take out villagers.
However, when attacking Genoa, you will get hit by the British and Jerusalem. They will attack the castle and the TC that you built at the start of the mission. Start producing Mamelukes once the Teutons and Franks are down. Don't forget to start mining stone, and get an extra castle or two there to help defend. Use Mamelukes to take out the trebs that Jerusalem and the British send you and then send them back into your castle. Ignore the Longbowmen and let the castle take out the Scorpions, Mangonels, Camels and Champions that they send at you.
You then get the Elite War Elephants from the Persians around this point. When they arrive, get an army of 6 trebs, 5 WE, 15/20 Mamelukes and 10/15 cav archers(delete some villagers to make room for them). Send the War Elephants into the British base as a decoy to take all the abuse (use them on the defensive trebs as a priority though), the trebs can hit the castle, and the cavalry will take out the Onagers and archers. Once one castle is down, concentrate on the other castle. You may well lose all your units as Longbowmen are annoying with that range and Jerusalem usually sends in its Onagers, Camels and Champs as well, so don't forget to have the 3 castles you have continually sending in reinforcements, and having a villager building a castle right next to the British base when you attack them first is a good idea so trebs can spawn right next to them. The French may get some villagers to escape and rebuild, but they will no longer be a threat. You can now build a Wonder, or rebuild your army and take out Jerusalem. As you now control most of the map with tons of resources, it's a very fun and easy mission.
Strategy 3: Cautious aggression
This is a very easy scenario. All you need to do is hit Enter, type "how do you turn this on", and hit Enter. Do this about 10 times. Then wipe out your enemies. Piece of cake.
This scenario is reputedly the hardest one of all the campaigns. (This is somewhat of an exaggeration.) You will be under continuous assault by massive amounts of enemy units, including a lot of heavy artillery. In the Imperial Age, static defences are no longer dominant and may largely be a waste of resources. You are outnumbered five to one in terms of number of enemies, although some of them are fairly weak. You have nowhere to expand to. You won't really need more resources than are found in your initial base, but it is good to have maneuver room outside your base. So what are we going to do? First of all, we are going to relax the demand that you don't actually win unless you take zero casualties, although that is not impossible, just very hard. We are also going to use every trick and procedure available. If you haven't already done so, read the tactics section.
Facing heavy artillery, the primary defensive procedure is to use a Wall Maze Complex. For this, you need a lot of space. A secondary approach is to set up targets that you don't actually care about somewhere outside your main base. An active defense is essential. You really need to catch those heavy weapons on the march. Of course, the heavy weapons don't arrive alone, and you need to deal with the other troops as well.
The British and French are your main enemies. British Longbowmen are deadly in the open field. The only reasonable counter is super-heavy cavalry, and Saracens don't have that. Frankish heavy cavalry is the best in the world, and might be better than your Mamelukes. Hmmm, this suggests the nucleus of a strategy: convert the Frankish heavy cavalry and use it against the British!
Let's look at our population roster. We will have 20 villagers, including fishing boats. That has to be considered a low number, but it can't be helped. We will have 10 monks. That's pretty standard. We will need 10 warships, assuming that there is an enemy navy, and it looks like there will be. We will need 10 siege weapons of various sorts. We cannot forego the Bombard Cannons in this scenario. We will have 10 Mamelukes, 5 Light Cavalry, and 10 archers. There is no room for heavy cavalry or even Camels. We will need one Transport Ship, and it would probably be a good idea to have at least a couple of Cannon Galleons. That exceeds the population limit by three, so use your judgment on what to cut out.
We will be recruiting a lot of enemy heavy cavalry. All of these units will have to be disbanded until we have produced all of our required units. We should also consider disbanding some of our initial units. The small catapults have only about one useful function, and that is to deal with enemy battering rams that have reached our walls. In this scenario, that might actually happen, so we will keep the catapults. The foot archers can be used for home defense and as garrison troops. Again, that will probably be useful in this scenario, so we will keep them. Besides, these ones are better than the best normal Saracen foot archers. The cavalry archers are probably not very useful here, but they are free, and they are already upgraded, so we will keep them as a last-ditch reserve.
We are supposed to build a Wonder. We could even do so right away. We are just going to assume that that won't work. In fact, we aren't even going to think about building a Wonder. Instead, we will crush all our enemies. After that, no matter how resource-depleted the map is, as long as one enemy Market remains, if we wait long enough, we will get an arbitrarily large amount of any resource we want.
We have 10 gold mines in our initial base. This is already a generous amount, unless we take very heavy casualties, and we may find more. We have 9 stone mines, which seems adequate at present, although you can never really have too much stone. We have a bunch of trees in our initial base, and another bunch just east of it. We estimate that even the trees within our initial wall will cover all our needs for this scenario, although we do want to have a reserve, and that might be problematic. Our initial stockpile of these three resources is enough to build a Wonder immediately, but as has already been mentioned, we won't use it that way. We have 1250 free food in the protected harbor. After that, it's farming and fish farming.
Kiss all of your Outposts good-bye. Don't shed even one tear about their destruction. You can't prevent them from being blown up, but you didn't build them there, and you can't be held responsible for their destruction. (Actually, if you are good and lucky, you shouldn't lose them. The only time they are seriously at risk is right near the beginning.)
You have a weak ally somewhere on the map, but they don't share their map visibility with you.
Scout aggressively! Your biggest advantage over the AI is your ability to process information, and in order to do that, you need to have the information first. Immediately produce two Light Cavalry, and then two more. That uses up most of your initial food stockpile. Explore the sea with your warships. Don't build any more until you have some idea of what will be needed.
Spend the rest of your food on villagers until you reach the target number. You may well want to over-produce villagers until you can actually afford to buy troops. Build one more fishing boat, because you have a surplus of wood right now. Fishing will be your main source of food in this scenario. However, you don't want to have too many fishing boats, because they can only bring in food.
Get your cavalry to the front immediately. Don't explore with them, however.
Build a monastery immediately and start pumping out monks.
The naval scouts quickly locate a small island with the Persian outpost. More importantly, they find a river to the east of your position. This river cuts right into the heart of Jerusalem's base. The area to the south of the river is empty, except for some gold and trees. Jerusalem is already starting to expand into this area. Stop them cold. Get some villagers over there right away, as well as some trebuchets and maybe some ground troops. Seal off the river crossings, and blow up Jerusalem's base. You will need a Transport Ship right away to insert and extract your ground units there. You will also need more warships right away, because you now know that they already have targets. Cannon Galleons will not be available for quite some time. By the time they could show up there, there probably won't be any enemies left in the area. Jerusalem does have some static defenses, so your warships cannot operate with impunity.
There is a narrow path into your base area along the east coast. Seal that off as you deploy to the Jerusalem front.
Garrison two or three archers in the Accursed Tower. More than that gives no additional benefit, which seems a bit odd.
Your cavalry scouts locate the enemy bases very quickly, which means very close to your position. Scouting in this scenario is not very easy, because there are 5 enemy camps, all fortified, albeit without walls, and lots of patrollers. It is not possible to explore the top corner of the map at this time. The Templar, French, and Genoese camps are there. The British have two castles, and Jerusalem has one. There are gold and stone deposits lying around here and there. You might be able to raid or take possession of these deposits. The British have two HUGE trebuchets. They actually have names: God's Own Sling and Bad Neighbour!
Your naval scouts locate a small island to the west of your base. It contains a bunch of gold. Some people recommend abandoning your main base and building your Wonder on this island, but we won't do that. The Genoese are your only enemy with a navy. It might be possible to raid their position, but you are too busy elsewhere, and naval combat requires a lot of micromanagement.
The battle rages
Jerusalem is not amused by your operations south of their base. They send one Heavy Camel after another to attack your walls. They also use a lot of catapults, which means that your warships will be pushed back. You will not be able to seal off that area either, so actually hurting Jerusalem with siege equipment won't happen, at least for a long time. You can't afford to allocate any ground troops to this front, because the British attack you constantly with Elite Longbowmen and siege weapons. As was mentioned above, these Longbowmen really have your number, and you need to be very careful when fighting them. The French use a lot of gunpowder units, and they attack you occasionally. The Templars primarily use battering rams and heavy infantry. You need missile troops to deal with their foot knights. The Genoese naval attacks come in large waves, but as long as your ships can sink their Cannon Galleons, your forts will do the rest. Bombard Cannons will help as well. It turns out that the Genoese are limited to the Castle Age, which means that they can't produce Cannon Galleons or any of the most modern ships. You would actually be in pretty good shape if not for the Longbowmen.
On the British front, and maybe also on your left flank, try to put down several stone wall lines ahead of your main position. Most of your Galleons should be held in reserve in case the Genoese attack. Some of your Galleons camp out near the Jerusalem base and grind up their Camels as they beat on your stone walls. As soon as you manage to build a complete wall compartment close enough to their base, you can deploy some trebuchets over there and start to blow things up. Right now, that's just a pipe dream.
Once your economy is rolling along, your need for food seems to drop sharply. Due to the constant heavy attacks, you really do need to spend some of your excess food on extra villagers now, because your heavy artillery eats up an awful lot of wood and gold. Only when your population roster is full can you effectively start recruiting heavy cavalry, and until then, the Longbowmen will continue to be a serious threat, especially if they are escorting siege weapons. Aim to produce all your units before spending resources on upgrades, within reason, of course.
Raid the enemy positions at every opportunity. This cannot be stressed strongly enough. Because they are so close to you, every attack you make will provoke a strong response, but it's better to fight them under those conditions than when they all attack at once, on their schedule.
About 25 min. after the scenario starts, game time, you are informed that the Persians are sending reinforcements. This is actually bad news. Most likely, you have over-produced villagers and you should have converted a bunch of enemy units, but you simply haven't been able to purchase all of your core units yet. You now have to disband a bunch of your existing units and purchase as many of your core units as you can, all before the reinforcements arrive, because they will put you over the population limit again, and you don't want to just throw them away. Carefully evaluate which units you most want to keep, based on your best current information about the enemy dispositions. You will have enough time to initiate one round of production, but not to complete it. Any units queued up will not get produced, so don't order them. Calculate exactly what you can afford, and order only those units. It is recommended to reduce your villagers to 20, including fishing boats, and to disband exactly as many military units as you have to. Due to this unexpected Persian arrival, it is unlikely that you will be able to have Cannon Galleons, unless you disband other units later, because it was just too expensive to do the research under the circumstances. You may want to produce more Galleons to compensate.
The Persians send you 5 Elite War Elephants. These units have very little value. The main problem is that they are too slow to catch anything that they want to fight or to run away from anything that they don't want to fight. Still, they are free, so just park them somewhere for now; maybe you will think of a use for them later.
Keep skirmishing with your enemies. You should be able to build wall compartments here and there, although probably not in really useful locations. The three ramps leading to your base should be sealed off by now, both from the outside and from the inside. This gives you fighting positions where your monks can safely stand. You should have recruited quite a few enemy units by now. It is quite safe to recruit scouts, because they never get upset at the monk in question. The most useful units to recruit are, as was already mentioned, the Frankish Paladins, because they will eliminate the threat from the British Longbowmen. But all other ground units are worth recruiting as well in this scenario. Jerusalem's Heavy Camels are quite useful in running down Jerusalem's catapults, which means that your ships can be in action over there instead of running away from the catapults. The Templar foot knights can guard the top of your ramps, and so on. Having units available for defense means that your Mamelukes can focus on raiding. It is not at all hard to recruit 25 powerful units from your enemies by the end of the scenario.
There is one narrow path into your base along the west coast. Leave that open. Enemy units may try to attack you down that path, but it is a death trap for them.
At some point, the French and Templars decide to start mining the gold deposit to the NW of your main base. This gives you a great opportunity to kill their villagers. You should try to partially wall off this area, so that their villagers have to run right through your fighting positions. It would be great to build a castle there, but don't do this until you are confident that enemy siege weapons won't just blow it up.
A small victory
Eventually, after a long struggle, you should be able to grind Jerusalem up to the point where you will be able to rush in a Transport with some Bombard Cannons and take some shots at their Town Center, or perhaps you can prepare a firing position for your trebuchets. In any case, if you can knock out Jerusalem's TC, you know that you've actually accomplished something significant. Of course, they will rebuild elsewhere, but you should be able to use the respite to fully seal off the river crossings.
In the meantime, the Templars, French, and even Genoese will be desperately trying to mine the gold deposit NW of your main base. If you have set up a good killzone, they will lose an awful lot of villagers there and get nothing in return. The Templars should be completely out of gold, while the French will be depleted. The Genoese still have gold. Of course, as long as wood exists, and your enemies never run out of that, they can still get gold through Market manipulation. You can check the exchange rates to get some idea of how active the market has been. The British and Jerusalem will still be sending hordes of units to attack you, although only the British provide any measure of a threat.
At some point, all five of your enemies will be sending villagers to the gold deposit that you are interdicting, and you will hardly be encountering any more enemy combat units. This means that they really, truly have mined all the gold on the map, except for the two deposits that you control, and the one on the island. The Genoese seem to be largely unaffected, as they still keep sending large waves of ships your way. Your four other enemies may still have substantial home guards or incomplete attack waves standing around. Of course, these units will attack you as soon as you attack their bases.
The way the map is laid out, it is fairly easy to attack the outskirts of the Templar and Jerusalem bases. You can even do substantial damage, although you probably can't effectively hunt down all their villagers at this time, so they will rebuild somewhere. When these attacks do not trigger a response, you know that the scenario is effectively over.
You should have several thousand units of each type of resource saved up by now, and nothing left to collect inside your original base. There is still a huge amount of gold lying around that you could collect if you felt like it, as well as a lot of stone, probably, and we don't need to speak about food and wood. You could now build your Wonder with impunity and just let the clock run down.
You could also win by military means. Seal off the final gold deposit entirely so that you don't need to guard it with troops. Attacking the Genoese by sea still is inadvisable. Their ships are generally of low quality, but you won't have your forts to help you, nor do you have Cannon Galleons to quickly take out the Genoese docks, and you never want to attack TOWARDS demolition ships. This means that you must keep defending against naval attacks, and you will need to leave a couple of Bombard Cannons and some archers and maybe some other troops at home.
Collect the majority of your ground troops into one massive strike force. You should have 5 units of heavy artillery, including both trebuchets and Bombard Cannons, 10 Elite Mamelukes, 5 Paladins, 4 Heavy Cavalry Archers, 6 monks, 4 Light Cavalry, and 5-10 villagers. At this point in the scenario, this force will just roll right through or over top of anything that stands in its path. Even so, you will still leave a substantial part of your ground force at home. The only difficulty you expect to encounter is actually killing off every enemy villager once they scatter to rebuild, and there are techniques to deal with that.
It turns out that this scenario is not as hard as its reputation. This walkthrough assumes that all the action takes place in front of your most forward positions, so that none of your buildings, in particular none of your important buildings, ever gets attacked by ground forces except at the very beginning. This is hard to accomplish, but not impossible. But if you cannot do that, then you pull back to your main fortification line from time to time, and the enemy forces just get butchered there, as long as your mobile troops deal with the heavy artillery. This means that if things don't work out perfectly, then your effective combat power goes way up. In other words, you can take it somewhat easy, and you still will never be seriously threatened. You also have a significant amount of resources to spare if you need to replace casualties.
Strategy 4: The Wonder rush (AKA the fastest win)
This strategy completes the Wonder around 10:00 and finishes the scenario at 35:00 with minimal effort.
Delete the patch of houses below your two Archery Range and begin constructing your Wonder here. At your Town Centre, create more villagers and assign them to the Wonder. Assign the idle villagers near your gold mine to the Wonder. While the construction is underway, station your Archer of the Eyes to the inside of your north-eastern wall using the Stand Ground stance. Similarly place your Onagers behind your Castle using the Stand Ground stance. Use your Mamelukes and Cavalry Archers to kill anyone who gets too close.
Once your Wonder is constructed, create 8 farms around your Town Centre, send three or four villagers back to the gold mine, and assign the rest on tree cutting. The only reason we will need wood is to create a Palisade Wall to fill spaces created by enemy Trebuchets.
Keep creating Mamelukes at the Castle to replace the ones that die, and be vigilant for Bombard Cannoneers, Onagers, Battering Rams and Trebuchets. Once your War Elephants arrive, use them to deal with the Siege Weapons.
Optional things to do include defending your bottom Castle from the one or two Cannon Galleons, putting your fishing ships to work, researching techs, and micro-managing non-Mameluke units.