Below is a fantastic guide that I came across created by Steam user Parzival.
Age of Empires III: Act I – Breakout
The level starts with you controlling a city besieged by Ottomans bent on destroying it. You start out with a finished colony and must defend it from the endless waves of invaders coming from the darkness beyond.
First off, upgrade your outposts to frontier outposts. This will increase their health and firepower. Use both your barracks, one for crossbowmen, and the other for pikemen. Set their military gather points just outside the walls of your colony, right in front of your gate. Waves of janissaries will attack you, but they are the generic infantrymen and will be killed easily from long range by your crossbowmen.
Cavalry will start to pour in now, and are a major threat to your forces. Use your pikemen to ward them off while your crossbowmen rain arrow storms down upon them from a distance. The cavalry will fall quickly as a result.
Now mortars will come in. These are very dangerous and willl destroy your colony quickly and efficiently, showing no mercy. You cannot reach them, however, as reinforcements will pour in and blockade your army. You’re screwed now, and your only hope to survive is to light the fire beacon on the hill in the top left of the map to attract the attention of Alain and his cavalry. Send three or four settlers to gather the wood there, as the Ottomans will catch on soon after and send a small group of soldiers to intercept your settlers and kill them before they can light the fire. Sending more than two settlers will guarantee that you can harvest the cords of wood before the janissaries reach your settlers.
Your reinforcements have arrived! You have a deadly force of bloodthirstly cavalry ready to charge into the midst of battle. Send them at the mortars, and use your remaining troops to aid them. The Ottomans will fall quickly under the wrath of the cavalry.
Congratulations! You have successfully defended your city from invaders and can now progress further into the campaign. Rest up and ready yourself for the next fight.
- The secondary objective in this stage is to collect all the treasures on the map. Use a settler to do this, as Morgan, your explorer, is too valuble to be wasted on collecting shiny trinkets (VVVVVV, anyone?)
- Morgan, your explorer, is invincible. Send him into a group of marauding enemies and he will kill them, albeit slowly and magically staying alive. Use him often and do not worry about his health. Keep in mind that Morgan does have some special abilities, as he is an explorer, and they will help in your battle against the Ottomans.
Age of Empires III: Act I – Into the Caves
After the attack on Malta, you embark on an expedition to destroy all the Ottoman’s weapons caches. You already have your colony established – all you need to do is destroy the caches.
When you start out, the Ottomans are attacking your colony. Simply kill off the attackers and you have completed a primary objective.
Now, a secondary objective is revealed. Build an artillery foundry and create at least ten hoop throwers. This technically should be a primary objective, because the hoop throwers will speed up the destruction process immensely. Anyway, keep expanding your army until you have ten hoop throwers. Note that the Ottomans will continue attacking, so you will want to create more crossbowmen and rodeleros.
Now, head towards the weapons cache. Once you destroy it, free the prisoners and head east towards the cave. If you want to, you can destroy the mills and barracks there, but it won’t really make a difference. Go inside the cave and follow it, destroying all the weapons caches.
You see a passage and enter it. What could be inside? Only time will tell…
- The objectives menu says that there are three secondary objectives, two of which I have not discovered yet. I assume you can complete these by finding what lies underneath the fog of war encompassing most of the east side of the map.
Age of Empires III: Act I – The Ottoman Fort
Please note that this is NOT the third level.Your first objective is to build a town center. Do that with the covered wagon you’re given. Now you want to establish your colony. Build a barracks for defenders and a mill for infinite food. A market is recommended, too, as you can exchange any surplus resources for different resources. Next, estabilsh your colony’s boundaries by building walls around the area you want to claim for your own. Don’t worry if you think you have too much space – you will use it up faster than you think. Two good reference points are the mine next to the cliff opening up into a plain and the right side of the opening leading up to the mine at the right cliff, next to the shore.
Now it’s time to start exploring. Send Morgan and a group of soldiers up the hill next to the shore. You will soon see a native village. Build a trading post and outpost there. Now you can recruit spearmen who will be a useful addition to your army. Station some ranged units there, as the Ottomans will send shooters to the top of the hill just out of your reach to the south of the village to try to destroy your hold there.
Go back to your colony and traverse south until you see another native village (you might have already built a trading post here) and build a trading post. Build another outpost here as well and hire some Carib Blowgunners. Continually send reinforcements to this village, as the Ottomans will launch unrelenting waves of men at you here.
You still have not explored the watery region east of your colony, and St. Elmo is hardly enough firepower for what you are about to encounter. Build two docks (I know, I know, sounds stupid and redundant, but there’s a reason soon after and you will regret not having two docks.) and max out your population of galleons. Build four fishing boats with a few smaller gunships for escorts and traverse around the edge of the map to the north, going a little right, until you encounter a pod of humpback whales. Since they provide infinite coin, they are a good alternative to mines, as you cannot create plantations. They are also limited to four gatherers, which is why only four fishing boats are needed. Now, once you have your armada of galleons together (you probably should max out the smaller gunship population limit too for additional firepower), move south-east. You will find enemy ships. Take care of those, keeping a careful eye on your ship’s health. You can heal them back at the docks, but there is only so much space for them to heal, which is why you have two docks. After you destroy the Ottoman navy, eliminate the dock in the bay at the end of the water passage. Leave St. Elmo and another galleon there to guard against future attempts to build another navy (I do not know if the AI in this level tries to build another dock, but it never hurts to be sure. If you want to, playtest this map many times to see if the AI sends settlers to build another dock and tell me what happens. I will change this guide if necessary.). You can delete your extra dock if you want to, as you do not have to fight more ships.
Back at your colony, build a church, stable, artillery-training building thingamabob, and craploads of houses. Amass around 100 soldiers in your army. You can build an extra barracks to speed up the training time for your army. Try to divide the army equally between pikemen, crossbowmen, heavy cavalry, hoop throwers, and the native close-combat fighters and blowgunners. Have a division of around ten mortars as well. March south until you see a trading post controlled by the enemy. Destroy that so no surprise ambush troops come from behind when you’re sacking your opponent’s colony, and move on to the west. Eliminate their outpost towers and gate, then storm in and attack their town center and command post. Keep in mind that only those two buildings need to be destroyed, so divide your mortars in half – five on one building and five on the other. Use your other units too.
Success! You’ve defeated the Ottomans and driven them away. I wonder what will happen next…
- I did not put any secondary objectives into here as I totally don’t know what they are. I will update this guide section ASAP once I find the objectives.
- Alternatively, instead of destroying the dock with your ships, you can send a regiment of mortars to take care of that. Keep in mind that you still need to eliminate the enemy ship threat, though.
Age of Empires III: Act I – Temples of the Aztec
Morgan comes out of the forest with his contingency of soldiers right behind him. Your first objective is to build a trading post at the nearby Aztec village. On the way, however, you encounter enslaved Aztecs guarded by the Spanish. Defeat them, and you get the Aztecs as a reward.
When you reach the site, build a trading post there. You soon gain line of sight to the whole Aztec “village”, which seems more like a small town now. Settlers and soldiers will arrive soon after, and you are tasked with the job of defending and keeping at least one of the Aztec temples standing after the assault by Spanish forces. The secondary objective asks you to keep more than one temple standing. This is probably one of the easiest secondary objectives in the game. Just make sure to divide your forces equally between each temple, keeping in mind that the Spanish will inevitably try to circle around and attack the southern temple. For this you only need around 5-6 crossbowmen. Build a mill and task your settlers to gathering resources. Build a barracks and stable to build your army, along with aroung 4-5 houses (you won’t need that many, as your army will constantly decrease and you get a massive army later on).
Now you wait. Soon the Spanish will arrive and attack you mercilessly. Keep generating soldiers, however, and the problem will become a minor one. Now you have time to complete the other secondary objective, which is to free all the other Aztec prisoners. You do not have to do this before the Teotihuacan army arrives, as you can use their manpower to rescue the enslaved workers.
It’s time to fight! Go to the walls in the northeast and assault the gate. Go past the walls and destroy the outposts, then attack the town center. It should go down within two or so minutes, finishing the level. Prepare yourself for the next stage.
Asian Dynasties: Act I – Siege of Osaka
This is the first battle of Asian Dynasties, and you are tasked with the objective of destroying the Osaka Town Center.
First, set up your colony. Build rice patties to take care of food and coin and shrines to generate wood. Construct a barracks and a stable to make your army. Traverse down south to the village nearby.
Build a castle (or two) here. Bring villagers along with you to build them. Right after, you will be assaulted by enemies, and the ally villagers will capture the nearby gate. Go in and head for the town center and destroy it.
Now watch a cutscene and prepare yourself for the next level.
- One secondary objective is to build a Wonder. To accomplish this, stay at your colony until you can build a Wonder, then head down to the village.
- Another secondary objective is to destroy the outposts guarding the enslaved villagers. This is pretty quick and you do not have to detour much to free these villagers. They will add extra firepower to your army.
I believe there is another secondary objective, and will update ASAP once I find it.
Asian Dynasties: Act I – Uprising!
Rebels are rising up against you, and you have to quell them before they can become a major problem. Get ready to move your soldiers. A lot. You start out in a little village. Your main objective is to destroy all the other villages on the map before the rebel army arrives so they do not get extra manpower. Use your barracks and villagers to construct your army. When you’re ready, head to the villages and sack them.
Once the rebels arrive, simply select your army and command them to fight. They will make quick work of the rebels.
Well, looks like you’re going to have to fight over a trade route as that handy post-battle cutscene tells you. Oh well.
- One secondary objective is to destroy the disgraced barracks north of the northern village. Relatively easy to eliminate after you destroy the nearby village; shouldn’t take you more than 2-3 minutes.
- Another secondary objective is to free the captured people in massive pens. Move around the map to find them and get rid of them, keeping in mind there is a group of enemies guarding it. The villagers will be handy to have around, as they can gather more resources.
I believe there is another secondary objective, and will update ASAP once I find it.