Joan of Arc 4: The Rising
This scenario is straightforward, if not necessarily very easy.
According to the scenario instructions, travel west to the flagged village. Almost immediately, you encounter a small British force. This force is much weaker than yours, primarily because you have monks, so defeating them is really just a warm-up exercise.
You will already have noticed a river crossing. As you scout it, you find that it is walled off, and if you are not careful, the enemy castle will kill your scout.
Continue to move west, scouting aggressively. The enemy is already scouting aggressively. Kill (or, preferably, convert) as many enemy scouts as you can now, or they will harass you considerably later.
Quite soon, you contact your village, gaining six villagers and some buildings. Immediately send some villagers to wall off the known river crossing. Your other immediate priorities are gathering food and stone.
Continue to scout aggressively. You find a second river crossing near your village, so that must be walled off ASAP. It is probably best to commit your entire army to defending the eastern crossing until that wall is completed, according to the principle that a village is very strong defensively at this point in the game. As soon as the eastern crossing is sealed off, bring the entire eastern force back to the village. That wall is so far away that you will have plenty of time to respond to an attack there, and anyway, unless they use siege weapons, a stone wall alone is virtually impregnable.
By the time that you have completely explored the south side of the river, the western crossing should be sealed off, probably with a Tower in support, and your production should be ramping up. On your side of the river, there are only a few enemy Towers and a few enemy scouts. You might have had the opportunity to destroy one of the Towers; the remaining ones are not important at this point in time. In any case, they will self-destruct if you can knock out Chalon. You can't do much about the enemy scouts.
You will note that there is not very much stone on your side of the river. Unless you can seize some stone from the enemy, you will not be able to build strong defenses, which you will need because the enemy will attack with siege weapons. Therefore, you should be prepared to build ships to defend the river crossings (as in the wooden walls of Athens), despite what the scenario hints recommend.
Phase one of the scenario is now complete, and you are ready to put in a heavy raid across the western river crossing. The immediate target is Chalon, which is still relatively weak and is consuming resources that would better be used for the glory of France.
Chalon does have a substantial home guard, but you have seven heavy cavalry, operating from a nearby defended wall with monks in support. It takes very little to get the home guard excited, so you invite them over to your wall, and they die there. Then it's just a matter of killing all the Chalon villagers, after which their Town Center is helpless, and it's good-bye Chalon. When they surrender, all of their remaining military buildings and units vanish. When Chalon is defeated, you in principle get access to a bunch of resources, in particular stone, although Troyes and Rheims may still debate the point.
By the time Chalon is defeated, you could have built a castle on the southern riverbank at the western crossing to control both that crossing and the western part of the river, which then becomes your personal playground. Building a castle there seems to be a good idea. Your town should be booming by now, and the Imperial Age is in sight. Neither Troyes nor Rheims will have mounted any sort of attack yet.
Phase two of the scenario is now complete, and you are ready to move on. Your main priorities now are to fortify the eastern river crossing in expectation of a heavy assault, build a navy to control the river and pressure Troyes, and wall off the newly available resources north of the river.
Continue to build up, scout, and raid. You should now be encountering small numbers of enemy villagers outside their bases. You know what to do with those. You will find that Rheims is completely inaccessible behind a defended stone wall, but Troyes is completely exposed, except for the wall across the eastern river crossing. Furthermore, their Town Center is within reach of your War Galleys. Being a clever and ruthless AoE player, you will take advantage of these facts.
About this time, Troyes will be starting to attack you. Their ground troops aren't using heavy weapons yet, so they just bite on stone. Their warships come one by one, and they seem to be more interested in heading west than in fighting, so you can pretty much ignore them and let your castle sink them.
As soon as you have even one Transport Ship available, and especially after your warships dominate the river, your raids against Troyes become much more effective. Complete your conquest of the river area by destroying Troyes' dock. After that, your home areas will be completely safe. Any ground attack coming over the western river crossing has to travel too far to succeed, while any attack coming over the eastern crossing won't make it past your fleet. In any case, Troyes won't be around much longer.
Scouting the eastern part of the map is not particularly easy. Rheims has a strong fort to the north, and they sally forth with Longbowmen. Troyes has a castle to the south, and many military units standing around in this area. But eventually you can sneak a scout in there, and you find a lot of resources and a lot of villagers working hard to collect them. Troyes will not be running out of resources anytime soon.
The easiest way to take out Troyes is with your navy. Five War Galleys are definitely adequate for the purpose. All you have to do is stand there and grind away at their Town Center until it's gone. Troyes doesn't respond at all, which seems a bit unreasonable, especially considering the seriousness of the situation. When they surrender, all of their remaining military buildings and units vanish, and it's actually a lot of them.
Phase three of the scenario is now complete. You can now finish exploring the eastern part of the map. You should be entering the Imperial Age about this time. Knock down the gate across the eastern river crossing and replace it with one of your own.
Rheims is probably starting to mine the gold deposit just outside their west gate. There's not much you can do about this yet, because it is too close to their defended wall. If you have not already done so, and you certainly had more important expenses, you should now produce some cavalry archers to deal with these villagers. Eventually, you will also be able to use heavy cavalry, but they would need to be at least Cavalier quality, and those won't be available for a while.
When your cavalry archers start to shoot at those villagers, Rheims gets really, really upset. Be prepared to deal with a flood of Longbowmen, perhaps as many as 15 in the first wave, and other units as well. After that, there will be a protracted struggle in front of Rheims' western wall, as they try to collect the gold, and you try to prevent it. But in the meantime, you continue to build up and get more powerful, while Rheims is losing military units and villagers, and is running out of gold. It turns out that this gold deposit is crucial to Rheims, so the exact procedure you follow isn't very important. Some useful recommendations are to build a partial wall and a castle where Chalon used to be, to use your Transport Ship to create, effectively, a third river crossing that only you can use, and to upgrade to Cavaliers as soon as practicable. Cavaliers are more powerful than Longbowmen, individually of course, but also in economic terms, especially when you have monks in support.
You are not allowed to research Chemistry. This means that you cannot build Bombard Cannons. Therefore you must be especially careful how you employ your heavy artillery. After you have destroyed Rheims' mobile reserve, your continuing raids induce Rheims to use their new production mobile force piecemeal, and they die piecemeal. Rheims just keeps getting weaker and weaker, and you keep getting stronger and stronger. Soon your trebuchets will be grinding Rheims up Tower by Tower, and then it's just a matter of mopping up.