Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition – Tips to Three Kingdoms – Cao Cao’s Ambition Campaign

General tips for this excellent custom campaign by Filthydelphia. Quite easy for most experienced players i imagine, but i couldn’t find a guide online. So after winning with all factions, here’s my tips.

Three Kingdoms – Cao Cao’s Ambition Campaign

In a sentence, to win as quickly as possible as a warlord, raid 3 opponents before they even build a tc, wall off 2 more, then castle drop the remaining warlord before they turn on you.

Playing as a Warlord

There are 3 prompts in-game not covered by the hints:

  1. Going near either of the 2 shipwrecks on the eastern tip of the mainland grants 500 gold. At your earliest convenience, get this, build a market and buy your way to the castle age; then boom on 3 tcs and about 60 vills. There is also a gaia monk above a lake in the ne that can be used to scout/gather relics. There are 6 relics in total: 1 south of red, 1 west of green, 1 west of teal, 1 east of teal, 1 at the mid se edge of the map and 1 on the north island.
  2. There are 5 rhinos at the se edge of the map, and going near them prompts a hint about using their hide as armour. Don’t bother; they have to be fully hunted for food, and the armour bonus only applies to your warlord unit.
  3. Around 40mins igt, there are prompts of 2 armies willing to join you if you meet up with them. Don’t bother: they’re only a handful of unupgraded cav archers and steppe lancers, and your much better off using your limited pop space with heros trained from a castle (which cost 300f 300g). If all goes well you should have the game all but won by this time anyway.

For all warlords, early aggression is paramount. All of your opponents start with 3 vills but no tc, so even a scout or spearman should be used to attack the vill building a tc to deny it, then kill all 3 vills and they’re effectively out of the game. Because of this, you may want to build a market first, get the 500g bonus, then buy wood for a military building before building your tc first. Prioritise eliminating the 3 defensive booming warlords first (teal, yellow, green) as they are closest together and provide the hardest opposition later on. Your most hated rival declares war on you around the 16:30 igt mark, and the second around 10 mins after that, but there is no penalty for declaring war on them first.

Be extra careful when raiding yellow however; not only is there a couple of towers nearby, but yellow’s hero unit is the only one that seems to pursue your units. Either kite it out of the way or stay out of his (small) los. Don’t be too scared of the towers, they’re only feudal and don’t have murder holes, and if a vill hides in one it still means its not building a tc, which is what you want.

Once your tc is built, send a couple of vills to wall off all but one of your remaining opponents tcs, then lame wall their resources and vills (hero warlord units will need stone walls). the AI remains allied with you for most of the game so your only opposition will be barbarians. purple in particular can be walled off entirely as they are on a peninsula in the north, to halt their land trade. leave your one remaining opponent the one that loves you most, and just castle drop them at your earliest convenience. if all goes well, by the time an opponent declares war on you they will either have:

  • No vills or tc.
  • All vills and tc walled, or.
  • Your castle (fully garrisoned?) in their base.

The only civ bonus that should influence your army composition are teals extra range, so teal should build rattans (as arambai don’t get the range bonus). You should only need maybe 5-8 heros and 20 range units to wipe the map clean. If you want to kill the barbarians too, they are restricted to feudal age. Castle-trained heros are awesome and are the only cav you need for max pop efficiency, despite their slow training time, and make all other cav/inf/seige redundant.

Don’t worry about the civ objectives, you get no hidden bonus from achieving them, and if an opponent achieves them all that happens is the other warlords ally with them (if they weren’t already). Also, once you kill 3 warlords, all remaining warlords declare war on you.

Red is, by far, the easiest to speedrun with, as you can churn out enough keshiks at the start to kill most of your opponents vills and win in around 10 mins. If allowed to boom normally, teal is the toughest opponent, with extra range (units and towers), and appears to be the only warlord to use monks. Red and grey are probably the weakest opponents, as they don’t seem to tower often, their resources are open to raiding, and they are most likely to be raided by barbarians.

As a quick reference, here’s a summary of each warlord, which military unit they should build to support their castle heroes with, which warlord declares war on them 1st, and which warlord declares war on them second:

colour (name) / unit / 1st enemy / 2nd enemy

  • Purple (kong rong) / chu-no-ku / grey / green.
  • Yellow (yuan shu) / arambai / teal / red.
  • Grey (cao cao) / chu-no-ku / red / purple.
  • Teal (liu biao) / rattans / green / yellow.
  • Green (lu bu) / cav arch / purple / teal.
  • Red (yuan shao) / cav arch / yellow / grey.

Playing As Yellow Turbans

Queue about 10 monks to build, then send your hero monk straight south to convert teal’s vills (teal is nearest and the biggest late-game threat to you). Don’t stop until you have killed/converted all 3 teal vills (and scout) before they’ve built a tc, eliminating them from the game. With your vills build a lumber camp, then barracks, near your monastery (you cannot build another monastery). Only gather wood to build more barracks (remember, all units cost no resources). At the barracks, only build karambits (even with their half pop space, its still by far the fastest way to reach the 75 and 100 pop targets).

Now send your hero monk to yellow (he has 4/4 armour to protect against yellows towers) and new monks to green. Again, kill/convert vills before tc is complete, remember to avoid yellow’s warlord unit. Send karambits to kill yellows towers if necessary. Continue until all 3 each of greens and yellows vills are killed/converted, and you should now have nullified half of your opponents.

The other 3 opponents will have built tcs by now. Camp karambits by reds gold pile to slow them down, and camp monks by greys eastern lumber camp to convert more vills (15-20 should be enough). Only gather wood, build extra barracks asap to increase unit production (6 or 7) then build stables (about 10 should do).

Once you’ve got 100 pop, suicide off karambits and replace them with tarkans. Build market and blacksmith, transition vills to other resources for blacksmith upgrades as required.

Kill grey as he’s nearest, then red (as their cavalry is more of a threat, but your karambits should have weakened them enough). Once you’ve pop capped with tarkans, wipe purple off the face of the earth, as they may have just reached castle age but either a) won’t have too many chu-no-kus or spearmen, or b) won’t have upgraded them much.

So that’s everything, have fun. Not too hard but still lots of fun with obvious replayability. I’m off to play three kingdoms 2 – red cliffs…

Egor Opleuha
About Egor Opleuha 6908 Articles
Egor Opleuha, also known as Juzzzie, is the Editor-in-Chief of Gameplay Tips. He is a writer with more than 12 years of experience in writing and editing online content. His favorite game was and still is the third part of the legendary Heroes of Might and Magic saga. He prefers to spend all his free time playing retro games and new indie games.

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