An Unlikely Messiah is the first scenario in the Joan of Arc campaign in Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings. It is based on Joan's journey from Vaucouleurs to the Château de Chinon from February 23 to March 6, 1429.
From the journal of Guy Josselyne
February 19, Army Camp near Vaucouleurs
This morning I awoke to visions of fire and steel. These nightmares come more often now that I have seen my beloved France eaten away in years of war.
I wandered through camp ignoring the new snowfall, observing the wounds and weariness of every soldier under my command, observing the desperation in their eyes.
It was then that I first saw the girl. She told us that her name was Joan. She told us that she was but a peasant, who did not know how to ride or fight. She told us that she intended to rescue France. The darkness lifted from the men's souls.
Her voice rang with conviction, and we drank in her every word. I may have lost my faith, but Joan has not lost hers, and that is enough for me.
Joan has asked our ragged band of soldiers to take her to Chinon, where the rightful ruler of France, the Dauphin, hides from his foes.
The war-torn land is infested with enemy marauders, and we will lose many men. Death is by now an old companion, but for Joan, we will face it again.
- Starting Age: Castle Age
- Starting resources: None
- Population limit: 75
- Starting units:
- Gaia units:
Differences between difficulty levels
- On Standard, there are no Guard Towers in the Burgundian town, the Burgundian ambuscade at the docks has considerably fewer men, and the final Burgundian force on the way to Chinon is missing a Mangonel and Man-at-Arms.
- Joan must survive.
- Escort Joan from the camp at Vaucouleurs to the Château of Chinon.
- France's enemies are Britain and Burgundy. Be on the lookout for their forces.
- Do not expect much assistance from the demoralized Army of France, but be alert for any soldiers who might be inspired to join your army... once they see Joan.
- Protect your two Knights. They are your best fighters and know the lay of the land.
- Don't worry about your economy - just get Joan to her destination.
- Keep an eye on Joan's health: If it gets too low, keep her away from dangerous situations.
- It is not necessary to eliminate all enemy forces-just focus on bringing Joan to her destination.
Scouts (Definitive Edition)
Your scouts report:
- Joan the Maid (1, Blue) has reached the French army camp at Vaucouleurs, where several men have pledged to escort her safely to Chinon (4, Orange).
- The road to Chinon is dangerous, with English soldiers and bandits crawling over the countryside. However, there are many Frenchmen who are willing to help Joan the Maid reach her destination.
- Player (Franks): The player starts with Joan the Maid and her escort in a French army camp in the northeast.
- Chinon (Franks): Chinon is a fortified town in the west. It is Joan's destination and not involved in any military activity.
- Army of France (Franks): The Army of France has two villages in the northwest and an encampment in the south. Joan's journey also begins in an army camp to the east. They do not actively fight Burgundy, but once Joan visits any of their settlements, Frankish soldiers join Joan. They have Spearmen, Pikemen, Crossbowmen, Knights, and Men-at-Arms. Also, they have a Scout Cavalry outside of the camp and a Capped Ram in their village to the northwest.
- Burgundy (Franks, Burgundians since Lords of the West): Burgundy is the main enemy in this scenario, with two fortified bases: one in the very center of the map and one in the far north. Also, in the Frankish village in the west is a large Burgundian army. The most common units they field are Crossbowmen, Light Cavalry, and Men-at-Arms. Since Lords of the West, their northern Castle is also guarded by a couple of Coustilliers.
- Highwaymen (Franks): The Highwaymen have three small outposts scattered across the map, consisting of Men-at-Arms, Archers, and Light Cavalry. They pose as a minor obstacle on the player's route and can be easily avoided.
- British/English in the Definitive Edition (Britons): The British are not fighting against the player, they just fight a battle against the Army of France and then disappear. They have Longbowmen, Cavaliers, and Onagers.
This guide is applied to hard difficulty. It is, of course, also applicable for the other grades of difficulty. It describes only one way to win it. Naturally, there are alternative ways to be gone.
The player starts the scenario in a small camp of the Army of France in the northeast of the map. When the player leaves the camp southbound, four Men-at-Arms and four Crossbowmen will join them. The player won't need them. Leave Joan in the camp as well for the time being.
Take Sieur de Metz and Sieur Bertrand and go south. If they shall ever be critically wounded, just wait a short time until they are both at full health again, and then move on. Kill the Dire Wolves on the road and move on south, until the player comes to witness a battle between English and French forces. Stay back until the battle is over and wait for the place to clear, then proceed southwards. The road then turns right, past a broken bridge, and then leads to a small encampment of the Highwaymen. It is easy to take down. Then proceed straightforward (don't turn right), until they reach the Gate of a Burgundian town. Once the player attacks the Gate, two Light Cavalry and four Archers will attack the player. Kill them, then take down the Gate. The player may now bring Joan and also the Men-at-Arms if they wish to speed up the process. Inside the town there are two Guard Towers. Just ignore them and proceed to the Mill in the northwest of the town. Let Joan wait there and cross the river with both Sieurs.
Follow the road until the player reaches a village of the Army of France. The player will be attacked by Burgundian Light Cavalry, Pikemen, and Men-at-Arms. Just ignore them and run to the Dock in the south of the village. The player will now get three Transport Ships. Take one of the Transport Ships and pick up Joan. The player won't need anything else from now on.
Sail south until the player reaches the cliff at the shore. Unload Joan and walk west through the woods. Keep walking until the player reaches a river. Walk south until the player reaches a bridge that is guarded by two friendly Keeps. Cross it and follow the road. Once the player reaches the Castle of Chinon, the scenario is won.
The trick of using the hidden shortcut works in the same way in the Definitive Edition
There is also an alternative and more time consuming way to win this scenario: Declare war on the British and slay every Burgundian rabble for being traitors to France.
Use the player's two Knights, Sieur de Metz, and Sieur Bertrand to eliminate every non-Pikeman. Draw away only two or three enemies at a time instead of engaging the entire force, then kill them in the woods. Against Pikemen, the Crossbowmen should be used.
The enemy ship can be taken down by Knights, if the player successfully lures it near the shore. There is also a Scorpion somewhere on the map who may join the player's cause when found, to help sink the Burgundian War Galley.
The player will get a Battering Ram (Capped Ram in the Definitive Edition) in the northern village. It will prove handy for destroying Gates, Towers, even the enemy Castle. No player has researched Murder Holes, so a single Ram within melee range is enough. If the player garrisons the Ram with four Men-at-Arms, the Ram will also move faster and deal increased damage.
Once the player has killed every soldier on the map, they can find the last British Champion hidden in the forest inside Chinon. The player will have to set Chinon to neutral diplomatic stance to destroy the Walls to get to it.
If the player is still having challenges, or overwhelmed on defeating each and every enemy soldier, the player can first cross the river with as many units as they can, to secure Chinon, where a Monk is available to heal every wounded soldiers, before attempting to get back to the enemies. This may be tedious, though.
Although time-consuming, the task will consist in an interesting challenge due to the huge amount of Burgundian soldiers in this scenario.
As Joan's footsteps echoed down the marbled hall of the château, the fat and whispering dukes did naught but stare.
The Dauphin himself seemed afraid as she kissed his feet. 'My gentle Dauphin,' she demanded, 'why does England claim what is ours? Why you are not crowned King of France as is your right?'
The courtiers began to murmur. The chamberlain whispered lies into the Dauphin's ear.
But the Dauphin pushed the chamberlain away and rose to meet Joan's gaze.
She stands only to the shoulder of the shortest man, but all of us must look up to speak to her.
I know not what silent conversation passed between the Dauphin and his would-be savior, but it was obvious that his majesty was in the same thrall as we.
- Although the British/English are the player's enemies, the diplomacy tab shows that they are allied to the player. This explains why they don't attack the player in this scenario.
- This is the only scenario in the entire Joan of Arc campaign where the player does not have to fight the British/English.
- Before the Definitive Edition, in the far west corner of the map (inside Chinon), there is a lone British Champion hidden in the trees that prevents the British from getting defeated. It's possible to kill him with ranged units, which will automatically defeat the British. Such placeholder unit is no longer necessary in the Definitive Edition to ensure survival of the player.
- The player's main ally, Army of France, is always 'allied' with the player's major enemies, Burgundy and Highwaymen. Army of France is also initially 'allied' with the British/English until they switch their stance to each other as 'enemies' as the player reaches the battlefield at the east of the map.
- As soon as the player's units are close to the battlefield, two Outposts (belonging to the player) will suddenly appear as if they were built. These will provide enough Line of Sight to the player to watch "the battle".
- Chinon, another ally of the player, is always 'allied' with all the other players (including the player's enemies - Burgundy, Highwaymen, and the British/English). Therefore, it is impossible for the Army of France and Chinon to help the player defend against Burgundy and Highwaymen.
- This is the only scenario to feature Joan the Maid. In the following scenarios, she rides a horse, bears armor and weapons, and is named Joan of Arc.
- The Capped Ram that can be captured by the player is referred to as a Battering Ram by one of Joan's soldiers.
- Despite taking place during winter, the original map for the scenario shows no snow. This is due to the fact that, before the release of The Conquerors, snow-covered terrain, trees, and ice were not available. This was corrected in the Definitive Edition, where parts of the map are now covered in snow. While winter temperatures in France are, on average, above 0ºC, and therefore a winter map without snow is not incorrect, it would be inconsistent in comparison with other campaign scenarios that take place in regions with a similar climate.
- Although the scenario portrays Joan of Arc as a simple peasant girl (as per later myth), in reality she was well-off to an extent. Her father, Jacques d'Arc, was Dean of Domrémy and owned 50 acres. She could ride before reaching Vaucouleurs.
- In fact, Joan was provided with a horse and male clothes (a yellow suit) so she could pose as a soldier during the voyage to Chinon.
- Though Jean de Metz never doubted Joan, he often argued with her due to her desire to stop and pray at every church on the way to Chinon. This was more pronounced when they crossed Burgundian-held territory as he feared it would lead to an ambush.
- The battle witnessed is metaphorical of the state of the French army at the time and is not meant to be a particular battle. However, it can be compared to the Battle of Rouvray (February 12, 1429), which happened during Joan's stay in Vaucouleurs and was also an English victory. Joan told the local commander, Robert de Baudricourt, about the battle and its result before news of an engagement reached the camp. This convinced the until then skeptical Baudricourt to order de Metz and Poulengy to escort her to Chinon.