Now all of Mongolia is in the grasp of Genghis Khan. Beyond are two vast empires: China to the east and Persia to the west. Persia is the sensible next choice of battle, since it separates us from the rich forage pastures in Europe.
But first, Genghis Khan has another score to settle.
After witnessing the power of our cavalry in action, the Chinese spoke of nothing but peace. They even promised support for our campaign westward.
But now that we have turned away from China, they decided not to deliver the men and arms they promised Genghis.
It is time for another demonstration. Persia can wait as the Horde wheels east once more, and we prepare to march into China, the largest, most advanced empire in the world.
- Starting Age: Feudal Age
- Starting resources: 1000 wood, 800 food, 800 gold, 1200 stone
- Population limit: 75 (150 in the Definitive Edition)
- Starting units:
- Gaia units:
- Conquer the Tanguts, Hsi Hsia, Jin, and Sung.
- The Great Wall will give you trouble without siege equipment. Fortunately you can capture some siege units northeast of the Wall.
- Your initial base can defend you for a short time, but you will soon have to push into China to find resources.
- The Chinese nations will put aside their differences to fight a common enemy. You must wage war on all four at once, lest one of them gain the upper hand.
Scouts (Definitive Edition)
Your scouts report:
- Genghis Khan's horde (1, Orange) has assembled to the north of China.
- The Jin (4, Yellow) live to the east and own a large fortified city. They will train Knights, Chu Ko Nu, and will also construct Trebuchets.
- The Hsi Hsia (3, Green) control the Great Wall of China. Their army consists of Chu Ko Nu, Light Cavalry, and Onagers.
- The center of the map is controlled by the Tanguts (2, Red), who will train Crossbowmen, Battering Rams, and Scorpions.
- The Song (5, Cyan) are the weakest of your opponents. They only own insignificant estates in the southwest that are guarded by archery units.
- Camps of Chinese siege engineers (6, Blue) can be found in the northwestern and northeastern regions of the map.
- Engineers (Chinese): The Engineers have a small town at the northeastern part of the map defended with a few Militia and Crossbowmen. There are also a few Gaia Villagers, a Gaia Mangonel, and a Gaia Battering Ram in their base. They have another two Siege Workshops at the northwestern part of the map, along with a few Gaia Bombard Cannons.
- Jin (Chinese): Jin occupies a large fortified city on an island to the east. They train Knights, Chu Ko Nu, and occasionally Trebuchets. They will start building a Wonder when the game has exceeded 2400 seconds (40 minutes), and have the right amount of resources and Market price (they might sell food, buy or sell wood, and buy stone, in order to prepare the necessary materials).
- Hsi Hsia (Chinese): Hsi Hsia owns the Great Wall of China and has a small town in the center of the map. They train Light Cavalry, Mangonels/Onagers, and (Elite) Chu Ko Nu. They also have several outposts outside the great wall. At "standard" difficulty, the towers at the Great Wall would not attack the player unless the Wall is being attacked.
- Tanguts (Chinese): The Tanguts have their town and farming areas in the center of the map, northwest of the Hsi Hsia. Once the player obtains the Gaia 'Engineers', the Tanguts immediately tribute 10000 wood, 10000 food, 10000 gold, and 10000 stone to Jin. Their army consists of Crossbowmen/Arbalesters, Battering Rams/Siege Rams, Scorpions, and Monks.
- Sung (Song in the Definitive Edition) (Chinese): The Sung have a small town in the southwest. They are the weakest player. Starting from the scratch with only a Town Center and three Villagers, they later train Crossbowmen, Elite Skirmishers, and Monks.
To win, the player must defeat four Chinese factions, the Tanguts, Hsi Hsia, Jin, and Sung. The player will lose if Jin's Wonder stands for 300 years. The player can advance to the Imperial Age. The Tanguts, Hsi Hsia, and Jin can advance to the Imperial Age as well.
To reach the enemy AI, the player must destroy the Great Wall or circumvent it. Destroying the wall is easier after attacking a tribe of Engineers which allows the Siege Workshop to be built. Unfortunately, while the former Engineer base is a good place to start off and build an army, said area lacks crucial resources.
A better location to establish a camp is just south where the player's starting forces started. This area offers enough resources to sustain an army in order to take down the Great Wall. However, Jin will build a Wonder if the player takes too long to defeat them, so defeating this player should be a top priority.
While a navy composed of Cannon Galleons can be useful to take down Guard Towers that patrol the shoreline, it is more time consuming than offloading troops north of the Jin city, which is undefended. After the Jin are defeated the other factions can be defeated in a fairly straightforward manner. In the far west of the map, behind the wall, are a few Bombard Cannons that can be captured.
An alternative strategy is to build a dock and a transport ship and move all units east to Jin's territory. The first transport the player finds cannot reach the water to the east without being destroyed by Towers and only has room for 5 population. This is a good plan, since Jin will start to build a Wonder quite soon and the player will not have the time to move troops across the map later. As a bonus, after defeating Jin the player will not be under constant attack by the other three Chinese dynasties as they all lack Docks. However, this strategy bears the risk of the player being attacked by Jin, who will likely harass the player with upgraded units and a strong navy. To deal with this, the player must quickly advance to the Castle Age, build a Castle and research Murder Holes.
Another disadvantage of this tactic is the fact that some Gold found on Jin's island is sited behind their walls and guarded by Towers. The player may send some Villagers to the location where the player's initial army started, where they will find lots of gold, but they should make sure to destroy enemy Outposts to prevent Hsi Hsia and Tanguts from harassing the Villagers.
Build a Town Center near the eastern corner of the map and start gathering resources. This area only has wood and a couple of Boars, so it is recommended to fish for food before switching to farming, while selling resources at the Market for gold and stone. The player can also send some Villagers to the west to gather gold and stone (Transport Ship), but don't be afraid to lose them to the Chinese nations. Advance to the Castle Age as soon as possible and build a Castle outside Jin's base in range of their walls. Research Murder Holes and arrow upgrades and attack their walls to lure their Knights out. As they continue training Knights, their Wonder will be delayed due to spending all their gold on Knights. Use this time to mass trash units and advance to the Imperial Age in order to siege Jin's base with Trebuchets (or with Bombard Cannons).
By this stage, the player will have plenty of resources in their parts of the map and are completely safe from attacks since Jin's territory is completely surrounded by water.
Once Jin has been defeated and the player's forces have been upgraded considerably, build military units and Villagers and cross the water. Land on the eastern shore just south of the wall. Build a town there, including a Castle and some military buildings (don't build it too close to the wall as the player will be attacked by Towers). The area has plenty of gold and stone deposits and can be walled off for better defence, making it the perfect bridgehead from which to launch attacks on the remaining Chinese factions.
Build up a substantial force of Elite Mangudai, Hussars and siege weapons. Attack the Hsi Hsia first as they are the greatest threat and defeating them means the player will not have to spend time destroying all of their Towers in the Great Wall, as all the towers will be deleted as soon as they are defeated or resign.
Their town is nestled on a cliff so there are fewer means for their units to enter and exit, making it easy to bottleneck their defenders and slaughter them with Mangudai and Siege Weapons (Siege Onagers are very useful for this). This also makes it easier to slaughter any Villagers trying to flee, therefore preventing them from rebuilding their Town Center elsewhere. Destroying their Castle with Trebuchets will stop the flow of Chu Ko Nu which will leave them with light cavalry and Onagers that the Mangudai can easily deal with
The other Chinese nations are relatively easy to deal with after the Hsi Hsia, as they do not produce any units that can counter amassed Elite Mangudai, except the Sung who train Skirmishers (who can easily be dealt with by Hussars).
Just remember to hunt down any fleeing Villagers to prevent them from rebuilding their Town Centers elsewhere, which is very annoying given the vast open area their towns are located in. Researching Spies once the player has enough gold will help with this.
It was... a glorious slaughter. For years, visitors to China will be astounded by the mountain of human and horse skeletons that we have erected.
The Hordes have gained one huge advantage by this invasion of China: technology. We now possess the knowledge and equipment to allow us to make siege weapons.
We will crack open the Persian and European castles to reach the softer parts within.
Genghis is pleased with our progress and with the legacy he leaves behind. His mother once ate wild onions and rodents to keep from starving. But the children and grandchildren of Genghis will eat off plates of Persian gold.
- The fifth Design Document of Ensemble Studios (dated 17 July 1998) mentions several campaign missions in China that could have resulted in different scenarios:
- Defeating a large Tangut cavalry force.
- Infiltrating a Hsi Hsia mountain fortress with assassins (at the time planned as a trainable unit) and killing their Emperor. This was divided into assaulting the Hsi Hsia fortress in this scenario, and assassinating the Shah in The Horde Rides West.
- Besieging the Jin capital Kaifeng while allied with the Sung (the Mongols historicaly took Kaifeng in 1233, six years after Genghis Khan's death).
- Except for Song, none of these factions were of Han Chinese origin. The Jin dynasty was founded by the Jurchens, a Tungusic people; the Tangut were an ethnic group originating in western China, closer to the Xianbei and Tibetans; Hsi Hsia was a Tangut-led empire which was highly Sinicized. Despite being presented as separate factions in the scenario, Hsi Hsia and the Tanguts were not separate entities.
- The Towers of the Great Wall will be upgraded to Keep at the 1st second, it does not depend on the difficulty level.
- Jin owns several Blacksmiths, which they will later delete before they build the Wonder, despite the fact that the latter will not be built on the previous location of the former.
- Having The Conquerors expansion (or HD edition) makes things a lot easier: while in the Castle Age, the player can make a plentiful of Petards and transport them to Jin's shores. Then, use some to breach the wall, and the rest to destroy the Wonder, preventing Jin's victory condition and letting the player focus on the other Chinese enemies. Jin won't build another one for the rest of the game.
- The Jin wonder is built with more than 30 villagers, so it's constructed faster than all four enemies in The Fall of Rome in the Attila the Hun campaign, and faster than Cortéz in the La Noche Triste level in the Montezuma campaign, so it's the fastest built wonder in the game.
- Although the objectives state that the player needs to defeat only Jin, Sung, Hsi Hsia and Tanguts, the level won't end if the Engineers are still alive. This has been fixed in the Definitive Edition.
- When played with Age of Empires II HD: The Forgotten, the Tanguts will also try a Wonder victory in some games.
- Although the Mongols capture Bombard Cannons from the Chinese in this scenario, neither civilization can build them in the game. Furthermore, cannons had not yet been invented at the time of the Mongol conquest of China.
- In the Definitive Edition, the achievement "I Was In China Before" can be earned by defeating the Jin before they begin to construct their Wonder.
- Despite common belief, Genghis Khan did not conquer all of China in his lifetime, just the Hsi Hsia, and was campaigning against the Jin when he died in 1227. His son Ogedei allied with the Sung to defeat the Jin, and his grandson Khubilai conquered the Sung in 1279, nearly half a century later.
- The intro claims that the Mongols wanted to invade Persia to reach "the rich pastures of Europe", and that the Chinese promised support but went back on their word. In reality, the Mongols coveted the pastures of China, but were content with puppetizing it at first, and wanted to trade with Khwarazm (Persia), but the Persians killed the Mongol traders. Genghis Khan demanded support to invade Khwarazm from the Hsi Hsia (the only who had accepted Mongol suzerainty at this point), but they disobeyed under the reasoning that if Genghis needed their troops to fight, then he didn't deserve to be their ruler.
- Although portrayed as allies against the Mongols, the Chinese dynasties changed sides several times and often allied with the Mongols against each other:
- The Sung (960–1279), referred by later scholars as the Southern Song Dynasty (1127–1279) were militarily weak at the time and constantly beset upon by their neighbors.
- Jin (Chinese: 金) means "gold" in Chinese, which is probably why they use the color yellow in the scenario. The Jin were a Jurchen dynasty and the greatest threat to the Song dynasty prior to the Mongol invasion. The descendants of the Jurchens, known as Manchu, also conquered post-Mongol China (Ming dynasty) and established the Qing dynasty some four hundred years later.
- The Hsi Hsia or "Western Hsia" was a kingdom founded by the nomadic Tanguts in western China who had military clashes with the Song. The Tanguts and Hsi Hsia were historically the same entity instead of separated factions.
- Both the Jin and Hsi Hsia are counted as "Conquest dynasties" in China, which refers to non-Han dynasties. The others are the Khitan Qara Khitai, Mongol Yuan, and Manchu Qing dynasties. Unlike the Jin and Hsi Hsia, the Qara Khitai are represented by Mongols in the game.