Age of Empires II – Hints and Tips (Part I)
The first campaign follows Joan of Arc as she rescues France from British control near the end of the Hundred Years War. You will guide her from her humble beginnings until her death. That is followed by a final battle to drive the British from France.
Your mission is to simply escort Joan from the camp at Vaucouleurs to the Chateau of Chinon. You start out with introductions from Bertrand and Jean de Metz and then pick up some men-at-arms and archers. Head south from the camp (you will be warned not to head west) and kill the wolves along the path; if you don’t, they will attack Joan. You will come up to a battle between the French and British. Avoid getting involved.
As soon as the French are all dead, continue south. The bridge is out, so you have to take the long way. Shortly after you turn to the west, you will get ambushed by a handful of highwaymen. Dispatch them and then follow the trail to the north and then west. Go across the bridge and into the French village. Here you will pick up more soldiers and a battering ram. Go back across the bridge and leave Joan and the battering ram on the bridge. Set up your army for an ambush and then have a single soldier go south and attack the Burgundian gate. This will cause the four archers inside the town to attack him. Have him run back to the rest of your soldiers and ambush the pesky archers. Move the battering ram up and have it kill the gate, the towers (or play on easy and have no towers) and anything else you don’t like in the town. Make sure to move your army into the town because there will be two light cavalry still there.
The next part of the escort is either easy or hard. If you move your army across the shallows and down to the river ahead, you will run into an ambush and have to get all your troops on three transports before they are killed. If you leave your army next to shallows, you can simply run a single unit to the dock, get the transports, and have them sail up the river to pick up the rest of your army without the need for speed clicking. Sail back to the main river, east, and take the first small channel that heads south.
Although you can do mouse gymnastics to board your transports under fire like this, it is much easier to move the ships first Land your forces on the north shore at the shallows. Head just a short ways to the north, and you will pick up six more archers and a couple scorpions. Head back across the river where you will get ambushed by highwayman and Burgundians. Once they are gone, you can simply race to the Chateau.
You start out with a few units and have to first head to Blois to meet up with your army. Burgundian cavalry will ambush you about halfway there, so move slowly and carefully. Once you arrive at Blois, have your army head north and follow the trail that meanders to the northwest, but have the trade carts head due north until they come to the river. Have the carts follow the river rather than the road in order to avoid the enemies. Your army will run into a larger Burgundian ambush, and while they are fighting, the trade carts can drive by, across the bridge, and into Orleans safely. Immediately put your villagers to work and make more villagers. It’s also a good idea to send out a unit to explore the area west of Orleans in order to claim the mill and farms that are there.
Once Orleans is yours, fortify your side of the bridge you just crossed. Make sure to put walls, towers with archers, and gates in place so that you do not have to worry about Burgundy or the South British for the rest of the battle. Once that is done, you can simply build up your resources and army normally until you are ready to destroy the North British castle which is in the northwest corner of the map.
This scenario starts with you on a small bit of land with some troops and 4 villagers. You can quickly claim two transports and two demolition ships by running to the flag to the west. At that point you have two choices. Either you play aggresively and use your troops to destroy Burgundy (pink), since your troops are just enough to bring down his Town Center and three Towers (and claim his many resources) or play it safe by bulding a town center on the eastern side of the map (guarded by only two towers). Placing your town on the western side of the map is more difficult at first, but will make your assaults go faster once you start building your army. You will get attacked more often there.
If you build your town to the east, then advance to the castle age quickly, and put several villagers on one transport, and five archers on the other. Send them to the far east edge of the screen to land. The area can be quickly sealed off with a few short walls and makes an excellent beachhead. Travel north along the west edge of the screen until you exit the forest. There is gold in the open land here and this is a good place to build a castle as well as the rest of your buildings. You can use the gold to buy stone for fortifications.
Because your access to resources is fairly limited unless you destroy and pillage Burgundy, you are going to want to use lots of pikemen and skirmishers that only require wood and food. You should make sure to fully upgrade your archer and infantry technology at the blacksmith because you will be depending on these units.
The British will ignore you at first, but will attack in full force after you destroy their first castle. Make sure you have lots of resources and plenty of military buildings. Having your main town in the west, and another in the east (for the extra stone and gold) is the best way to go. With a few thousand food, wood and gold, you can quickly rebuild your army and attack the second then third castle. The back and forth with the British will likely take several hours until you can destroy their castles.
This scenario is much easier than the last one. Instead of castles, you have to destroy Town Centers, but this is easier now that you can build trebuchets! You start out by heading to the camp, but as per usual, you will get ambushed halfway there. After you dispatch the British Guards, continue on to the flag and you will be given villagers, a town center, and a mill. Immediately go to work building up the area.
This map has a large river that separates you from the enemy. There are only two shallows across it. If you simply send scouts along the trails, you will spot both of them. Do not cross the river yet as this sets off your enemies who will attack and who start out with much larger armies than yours. Instead, simply locate both fords and then fortify your side of the river heavily. Build your castles there as well, with plenty of towers. Also note that the enemy will sometimes land troops to the western-most edge of the map.
You should build a siege workshop and train one ram. Use this ram to destroy the towers guarding the gold and stone mines on your side of the river. The rest of your siege arsenal should be made up of trebuchets trained at castles. Gold and stone are in short supply here, so build at least 8 farms and sell the food when the mines run dry.
Be quick to seal off the rivers as well! If you ignore the eastern shallows, the enemy can cross and attack your flank, and even place military buildings right next door! When you are ready to attack, it is best to start with Chalon (green). They do not have any walls, and only a few towers. Then attack Troyes (orange). They should both be defeated within the first hour of gameplay. Occupy their resources and build up, and grind your way into the walled northern town. Attack Rheims from the eastern gate.
The northern town will be packing catapults galore. Your only hope is to swarm and distract them with troops while your trebuchets (build at least 6) advance far enough to fire on their town center.
This map actually has three major sections to it. First, you need to break into Paris. Then, you need to destroy the fortifications in the heart of the city (unless you want to baby-sit the refugees to make sure they don’t die). Finally, there is the mad dash to the finish. A good old-fashioned barbecue follows that race.
Your army is a bit too large at the start to manage easily. The best way to overcome this is to break it into three groups. The first group should be your archers, cannons, and trebuchets. Put them in a box formation and give them a hotkey (CTRL+1). They get to do all the real work. The archers will protect the siege engines, and the engines will break down the walls. The second group is infantry and you should hotkey them as well (CTRL+2). Finally, you want your cavalry minus Joan in their own group. This will allow them to move quickly around the battlefield killing the onagers and longbowmen who will be all over the place when you start your assault. Joan gets to sit in the corner since she is too important to risk (if she dies before the refugees escape, you have to start over).
Send your box forward carefully. If it shoots at anything, let it finish before moving it again. Put the infantry out in front of it, and have the cavalry ready to rush monks or enemy ranged units that try and attack it. Continue on until you reach the gates of Paris. This is going to be your biggest fight. You might even consider leaving the trebuchets behind for this one since they won’t be of any use, and they make the next fight much easier. Simply get your box into position where the cannon can fire on the gates, put the infantry between the gates and the box, and have the cavalry ready to pounce. As soon as you fire at the gate, the British will come running out of the city. Use the cavalry to kill the siege engines and to chase the longbowmen who cannot fire at targets right next to them. The cannon can also match the longbow range, which will help keep your archers alive.
After you finish off the defenders, move your trebuchets up and kill the towers. You can now safely enter the city, but don’t rush through it. There is a well-built castle with extra walls towards the center of town. Your trebuchets can deal with that and you can use your other groups to defend them. Once that is removed, continue through the city. The refugees are on the west side of town next to the river. Collect them and head to the bridge where you won’t get your promised reinforcements (surprise surprise).
Joan is dead, but the war isn’t over yet. Your first job is to take over command of units. That is a simple matter of just heading east. Once you have all your troops, your best bet is to set up an ambush and then lead Burgundians back into it. Move the archers up near the shallows of the stream and order them to stand ground. Move the infantry in front of them and put them in a defensive stance. The cannon should go on the east shore of the river just past the bend. This will give your ambush a lovely “L” shape and add crossfire without the risk of hitting your own troops. Leave your cavalry in the rear, but hotkeyed so you can rush them up against Burgundy cannons and monks.
As soon as your ready, send a single scout up ahead and have him knock on the gate. As soon as the enemy starts to attack, run back past the ambush. The Burgundians will follow and will die. Repeat a few times until your don’t get attacked when you knock. Move your forces up and break into the Burgundy walls.
It is possible to get Burgundy to resign before you finish the fight. Once you slaughter a couple waves of them, send a few heavy cavalry units to the southeast corner of the map. There is a small Burgundian village. Your cavalry should kill the town center and start attacking the other buildings. Once you do enough damage, Burgundy will resign.
You will be tempted to start building your base inside Burgundy’s walls, but that is a bad idea. There is a British base (Shrewsbury) in the northwest corner of the map that is much easier to defend, has plenty of resources inside the walls, and doesn’t start with that much of an army, making it an easy target if you attack immediately after beating Burgundy. Try not to destroy any of the walls other than the gates since the other British forces will never attack any walls built by their allies.
After you finish off Shrewsbury, you will need to build a full base and conquer the last of the British. The goal is simply to get the trade cart to the flags, but there is no way to do that without first crushing the British. Also, there is a single ford across the river between the British and you. If you fortify those shallows, you can have easy access to all of the resources on your side of the map without worrying about defending your villagers from British raids. Make sure to include trebuchets in those defenses to fire at longbowmen and get them into range of your towers and castles.