Age of Empires III: The WarChiefs is the first official expansion pack for the real-time strategy game Age of Empires III. It was announced by Ensemble Studios and Microsoft Game Studios on March 7, 2006.
The WarChiefs went gold on September 19, 2006. The demo version was released October 4, 2006. The full game was released on October 17, 2006 in the United States.
The WarChiefs offers several enhancements on Age of Empires III, and as with any expansion-pack you must have the original Age of Empires III installed. The enhancement include three new playable Native American civilizations, new Home City cards, new buildings, a new single player campaign, new units, and several other enhancements. The three new native civilizations are the Iroquois, the Sioux and the Aztecs.
Other additions to the game include new minor native tribes. The Huron replace the Iroquois, the Cheyenne replace the Lakota (Sioux) and the Zapotec replace the Aztecs. Other new tribes include the Klamath, the Apache, the Navajo, and the Mapuche. The expansion includes 16 minor tribes, compared to the original 12.
European civilizations received a new building called a Saloon to hire random mercenaries as well as map specific human treasure guardian units. Players can also build the Native Embassy, where they can train native soldiers from allied tribes. This building can be built anywhere on the map like a normal building can, so the natives don't need to be produced at the Trading Post as in the original game. New units have been added for the Europeans, mostly artillery, mercenaries, and other advanced units.
The campaign, which is 15 scenarios total, includes the Black family in a more historical setting. The first act, Fire, follows Nathaniel Black (John Black's son and Amelia's father) as he spends most of the family's fortune supporting the American Revolution. It includes the Battle of Bunker Hill. This occurs between the second and third acts of the original campaign. The second act, Shadow follows the story of Amelia Black's son, Chayton Black, and opens during Red Cloud's War, after act three of the original campaign.
Few changes have been made to Ensemble Studios online. Existing accounts have gained a WarChiefs statistics section. A new account is not necessary or even allowed. This is probably to prevent two accounts being used by one person. Players Home Cities and levels will carry over with the ability to reselect cards, although all rankings and other stats will be reset.
There is a new victory condition, called the "Trade Monopoly", similar to the Wonder condition in earlier games. If a player or team controls more than half of the trading posts in the Industrial or Imperial Age, they can start a timer, for an amount of food, wood, and coin. The other team must destroy trading posts until the team with the trade monopoly holds less than half of the trading posts. If the other team does not destroy enough trading posts before the countdown expires, the player or team who started the countdown will win. Note that the team which started the timer cannot build more trading posts during the timer's effect.
A Revolution feature is included as well. Instead of going to the Imperial Age, you may choose to have a revolution (which is cheaper, yet riskier). After this revolution your settlers change to Colonial Militia and you cannot produce any more Settlers, stagnating your economy. When you start a revolution, you can choose a historical revolutionary leader (such as Simon Bolívar) who gives you a bonus. The advantage of a revolution is that it gives your military a boost, allowing you to gain the upper hand and to break a tight battle. But if your initial attacks fail, your inferior economy will allow your enemy to defeat you more easily. Once one side has had a revolution, it is no longer an option for the opposing team, and they can only go to the Imperial Age.
One more new feature of The WarChiefs expansion is the implementation of the War Chiefs themselves. Instead of the European 'Explorer,' the native tribes receive a 'War Chief,' who provides more versatility throughout the game. For example, the War Chief provides a bonus to the units around him, potentially turning the tide of battle (See New units). War Chiefs also have the ability to convert Treasure Guardians, such as bears and pirates, to the player's cause, instead of having a special ability to kill guardians (like the Explorer has). The War Chief have a larger late-game influence than the Explorer, but are more expensive to resurrect (this takes much work of Villagers at the Fire Pit).
Another feature for the expansion, is the use of Stealth mode. All natives can use this ability from the beginning, as one unit per native civilization can become invisible to the enemy (this cannot be activated when enemy units are nearby). For the Europeans, there is a Home City Card that ships five Spies (available even to early Home Cities). They share the stealth ability, as do other miscellaneous units (Ninjas, Native Scouts, etc.). Though when near to an enemy outpost or Town Center the unit will become visible.
The Home City system has been slightly altered as well. Decks can now go over 20 cards by allowing one extra card every ten levels of the Home City with a maximum of 25 cards. Also instead of using a Home City, the Iroquois and Sioux have five members of the Tribal Council, including the Chief, the War Leader, the Shaman, the Wise Woman, and the Messenger. They all offer different units, supports, and improvements. All these items are very similar to the European Home Cities. The Aztec use Tenochtitlan as Home City. The Iroquois also starts the game with one Travois, which can transform into most Iroquois buildings.
The Fire Pit is available to all Native civilizations. By having villagers dancing at the Pit, it gives the various bonus to the native civilizations. This is done by selecting one of a variety of dances, including: The Fertility Dance (speeding up unit creating), the Gift Dance (which increases base Experience gathering), the alarm dance (which spawns the Native equal of a minuteman), and the Mother Nature Dance (increases population limit). The Iroquois have the unique Founder Dance, which spawns new Travois. The Sioux have the Fire Dance, which increases unit damage to buildings. This is to compensate for the Sioux lack any dedicated siege units. There are also dances available in the Industrial Age that produce powerful units. The Sioux and Aztec dances produce Dog Soldiers and Skull Knights, respectively.
Several new units have been added; most of them are native unique units for the Native American civilizations while some are additions to the European military.
There is now a new option called Revolution that gives the player the ability to revolt from their European country and become a new nation focused on their military strength. Settlers will turn into Colonial Militia that will help fight the enemy, and more Militia can be made at the Town Center for 100 food, in place of Settlers.
The WarChiefs trial version can be downloaded from the official site of Age of Empires III: The WarChiefs or Age Community It features two playable civilizations (Germans and Iroquois), one random map (California) as well as the two first scenarios in the single-player campaign.
Two patches have been released to restore game balance, which had been slightly altered by the appearance of the new civilizations. The patches did not address any of the gameplay bugs associated with the expansion, though in fairness they are very rare occurrences. The image to the right for instance occurred only once in dozens of playthroughs on that map.
The building was able to be destroyed after a lengthy amount of time, as seen in the lack of resources on the minimap and the level of construction. It could not be fixed by loading a save prior to attacking it, only by waiting it out or restarting the map entirely.