Under Le Loi's leadership, the Vietnamese rebellion turned from a rabble of peasants to a real army. Their warships lined up like clouds, their armor shone against the sun, their firearms piled up, and their gunpowder stockpiles were full. Finally, Le Loi would be able to face the full brunt of the Ming forces. Wang Tong had been close on Le Loi's tail, watching his every move like a stalking tiger, waiting for Le Loi to make a mistake. Le Loi did not have the luxury of time - every week he waited, more Ming soldiers would arrive. He needed to consolidate his holdings quickly. Despite the risk, Le Loi split his troops to deal with the Ming garrisons, the northern army, and the hostile tribes to the west. This was the moment Wang Tong had been waiting for, and the tiger pounced on the divided and vulnerable Vietnamese forces...
In 1425 Lê Lợi wrote to Wang Tong: 'In the past, we had few weapons, now our warships line up like clouds, armors shine against the sun, firearms pile up and our gunpowder storage are full. Compared to the past, our transition to a position of strength has become apparent.' But despite the successes and increasing military power Lê Lợi soon found himself in another predicament. He needed to consolidate his gains in the south fast, before the Ming had a chance to react. Certainly with Wang Tong so closely on his tail, waiting for him to make a mistake. To achieve his goals Lê Lợi sent his commanders out to three different locations. Dinh Le, commander of the cavalry, would move on to the Ming citadel of Đông Đô to keep Wang Tong occupied. The expert swordsman Le Trien, would move north and try to intercept the reinforcements under the leadership of Liu Sheng who had broken through the northern defenses and were on their way south. And the feared Luu Nhan Chu and wise Bui Bi would make a move on Nghệ An. Only if all three plans succeeded Tran Tri and his Ming forces could be prevented from striking back. Lê Lợi's plans hung by a thread. A very thin thread.
The player starts with three bases, which will be referred to as left, center, right. The player also has four heroes.
- Vietnamese Rebels (Vietnamese) This player is only relevant to the story's advancement.
- Nghe An (Vietnamese) - They have a big base in the south, and will attack the right base with groups of Arbalesters, Halberdiers, Battle Elephants, Skirmishers. and Bombard Cannons at regular intervals. They have a fort between the player's right base and their main base.
- Ming Army (Chinese) Located north across the bridge from the player's center base. They will send patrols of Chu Ko Nus, Halberdiers, Cavaliers and Scorpions across the top of the center base to Wang Tong. A secondary objective is to stop these patrols, which reinforce Wang Tong. They also have some troops patrolling in Nghe An's base and will help with its defense.
- Wang Tong (Chinese) Located to the northeast, they have a large mixed army (which consists mostly of Chu Ko Nus and Halberdiers) which will attack the right base. Their base is only lightly fortified but does have a Castle. They will also use Trebuchets. Their attacks are dependent on reinforcements from Ming. They will resign when their Castle and Town Center are destroyed.
Neutral to Enemy
- Ai Lao (Khmer) Located south of the left base, they will not cause many problems, although the player must defeat them in order to get to the Nghe An base. They are neutral to the player and will only attack if provoked.
The player starts with three bases, which will be referred to as left, center, right. The player also owns the 3 heroes from the previous scenarios.
- Vietnamese Rebels (Vietnamese) This player is only relevant to the story's advancement.
- Nghe An (Vietnamese) - They have a big base in the south, and will send patrols of 5-10 troops (crossbows, Halberdiers, cavalry) to the right base at regular intervals, they have a fort between the player's right base and their main base.
- Dong Do (Chinese) This player is only relevant to the story's advancement.
- Liu Sheng (Chinese) Located north across the bridge from the player's center base. They will send patrols of Chu Ko Nus, Halberdiers, Cavaliers and Scorpions across the top of the center base to Wang Tong. A secondary objective is to stop these patrols, which reinforce Wang Tong. They will also attack the center base.
- Wang Tong (Chinese) Located between the center and right bases, they have a large mixed army (that consists mostly of Chu Ko Nus and Halberdiers) which will attack both bases. Their base is only lightly fortified but does have a Castle. They will also use Trebuchets.
Neutral to Enemy
- Ai Lao (Khmer) Located to south of the left base, they will not cause many problems although it will be needed to defeat them in order to get to the Nghe An base. They are neutral to the player and will only attack if provoked.
The first thing to be done once the scenario starts is to get the Villagers to work as well as to continue producing Villagers until the player has between 60 and 80 of them (keep in mind that the population limit is 200). There are plenty of resources available around the map but make sure that the Villagers are defended if they move far from the Town Centers.
Also, make a few troops to defend the eastern base in particular. Castle and Towers are always a good idea, however there are only average amounts of stone in this map. When the bases are secured, build an army at the player's center base to attack Lui Sheng. Two Trebuchets, twenty Rattan Archers and a few Cavaliers, along with Le Trien himself, should be enough. Proceed to destroy Lui Sheng's buildings and take care to not allow any supplies to go to Wang Tong.
Once Lui Sheng is defeated there is no other urgent target and as such it is up to the player's choice to choose the next enemy to be beaten. Ai Lao or Wang Tong are good candidates. Finally, proceed to Nghe An with a sizeable army. Once this faction's buildings are destroyed the player will beat this scenario.
Definitive Edition hard
The player starts again with three bases. A northwestern water/farming base, a southeastern woodcutting base, and a northern military base. The player should put their first 12+ Villagers on food, and then start working on wood and gold. From the southeastern base, there are two Water Buffaloes that the player can see to the northeast, and then there are another six further to the north/northwest by the shallow water. From the northwestern base, there are two roughly southeast and two roughly southwest. The player might want to grab most/all of these to reduce wood needs in the beginning of the scenario. Fishing in the shallows is also quite useful in the start. Building a third Town Center in the east (the right base) immediately also makes booming easier.
After a few minutes, the player will get a prompt about the next Ming supply caravan. They seem to defend the cart with Cavaliers/Halberdiers/Chu Ko Nus. Another Cart will follow shortly and on the third or fourth wave, they will start sending Scorpions with the Carts.
These carts reinforce Nghe An and the player is intended to use their middle base to make short work of them - just make sure to fight far enough down the road so that the player doesn't trigger any extra enemies that they're not ready for. However, as managing three bases at once can prove too much, the secondary objective can be ignored - the player has to defeat Nghe An at some point (it's a main objective) and thus make the carts useless. The carts will stop if the player manages to destroy the 6 Ming Towers at the western end of the map, but since the central base has no Siege Workshop, the player has to invest too much in building an army that would otherwise be more useful elsewhere. Finally, if going for the achievement "Not a Greek Tragedy", they would better hide their central army in the clearing in order to keep the hero unit alive.
As soon as the player has an economy running and has secured a constant stream of Villagers, they should prepare an attack on Ai Lao. The starting Crossbowmen and the two heroes in the western base should be enough for a rush. A Villager from the left base should also quickly build a Monastery for an additional Monk. The starting scout should lure enemy Men-at-Arms towards the Crossbowmen. Once the Men-at-Arms are dead, Ai Lao will send in his staring Battle Elephants and Ballista Elephants. The player should convert them with Bui Bi and any Monk they have managed to train thus far. Those Elephants will help finish off enemy military. Immediately after that, the player should raid Ai Lao's gold miners and lumberjacks. Once all are dead, the player should set their archers to "Stand Ground" and place them near the enemy's Town Center, out of reach of its arrows and safely kill off farmers. The Villager that built the Monastery should now construct a Siege Workshop, and a single Battering Ram will be enough to destroy the Town Center. Green will not resign as he has a Castle standing, but cut off from any resources, Ai Lao's as good as dead. The player can safely ignore the Castle for the rest of the game.
While attacking Ai Lao, the player should not forget their western base. Ideally, the player would need two Castles - one defending the bridge south and one to the north. To accomplish that, the player should start mining stone early and with as many Villagers as they can spare. Getting those Castles up quickly is more important than mining gold at this point. The first Castle should be placed near the eastern entrance to Wang Tong's base, ideally securing the gold pile in the vicinity. Once it is finished, Wang Tong will attack it in a huge wave of units but will lack siege (as Scorpions cannot strongly damage buildings). Once the first wave is dealt with, the player should prepare an offense - several Trebuchets protected by Halberdiers and Skirmishers/Rattan Archers should be enough.
The second Castle should be built close to the bridge south. Nghe An starts attacking later than Wang Tong, but hits harder. The southern Castle should be supported by at least Halberdiers and defensive Bombard Cannons, so the player should prioritize Chemistry. Nghe An's Bombard Cannons are very dangerous if left unchecked, so the player should be prepared.
Wang Tong resigns as soon as the Castle and Town Center are destroyed. The player should be careful not to destroy the Market as it will stay after Ai Lao's resignation and can be used for trading. It is also important to build another Castle near Wang Tong's western entrance in order to destroy any supply carts coming from the west. If Ming's patrols are left unchecked after Wang Tong's resignation, the latter's former base will fill up with hostile troops that will quickly kill the player's Trade Carts and deny trading. So this (third) Castle will ensure that the player will not run out of gold.
After Wang Tong's defeat and the setup of trading in the north, the player can finally stand against Nghe An. Trebuchets protected by trash units and the occasional Rattan Archer can be used to a good measure again. By crossing the bridge south, the player should focus on destroying the Castle outside the city's walls first. This area should then be used for the construction of another Castle in front of Nghe An's gates and as many Barracks and Archery Ranges as possible. Nghe An will unleash everything they have got against that Castle, so Bombard Cannons should be used to take out enemy siege units, and Halberdiers and Monks to take out enemy elephants. Depending on the available stone, the player can build another Castle close to Nghe An's western gate and attack from two sides.
Against all odds, Le Loi's generals held off the Ming army. The Chinese lost many soldiers and even one of their generals. These losses meant that they would never again hold the advantage in the war. The Ming could only defend their remaining holdings from Le Loi's inevitable victory. Without more Chinese troops, not even a general as talented as Wang Tong would be able to stop the Vietnamese army.
The chances were stacked against the Vietnamese but somehow they still won. Liu Sheng and his Ming reinforcements were ambushed and killed while Wang Tong war marooned in the citadel of Đông Đô. Nghệ An remained in Ming hands due to the gunpowder weapons the defenders possessed, still the Ming were on the losing side of the war and it was doubtful that even an able general like Wang Tong would be able to turn the tide.
- This scenario's layout might be inspired from the Age of Mythology Bad News and Where They Belong scenarios, both featuring bases that are separated from each other, with the player trying to destroy the enemies between them in order to connect them and proceed with their objective.
- Dong Do has one single Cavalier in the dense forest, right in the middle of the map. Killing or converting that Cavalier would immediately defeat Dong Do.
- In the Definitive Edition, the "Not a Greek Tragedy" achievement can be earned by winning without losing any of the four heroes.