''Age Of Empires III'' is the fourth installment (counting the SpinOff series ''VideoGame/AgeOfMythology'' as another series) in the ''VideoGame/AgeOfEmpires'' franchise. It was released in October of 2005, and is set during TheColonialPeriod, with seven European civilizations (Spanish, British, French, Portuguese, Dutch, Russian and German) and the Ottoman Empire as playable civilizations. There's also a version for the UsefulNotes/NGage phone made by Giu Mobile in 2009.

While the gameplay remains similar to previous entries in the series, several new features were introduced here. For instance, the Home City feature allows shipments of troops, technology or resources to be delivered during normal gameplay. In order to be able to send shipments, the player must gain [[RPGElements experience points]] which are obtained during normal gameplay. The ability to ally with native tribes was also added, with the opportunity to train units from said tribes to add to your military forces. Also, unlike in previous games, the civilizations are far more varied, with more unique units, technologies and bonuses, along with several completely unique Home City shipments. And, akin to ''Mythology's'' Age advancement system, the player must choose a Politician, who provides special bonuses, in order to advance to another Age.

The game features a single-player campaign made of three acts (''Blood'', ''Ice'' and ''Steel''), which follows the story of the Black family over 3 centuries as they battle against the [[AncientConspiracy Circle of Ossus]] and take part in [[BeenThereShapedHistory several historical events]], with the FountainOfYouth as a key plot point across the three acts. The acts are narrated by Amelia Black, the protagonist of ''Steel''.

The first expansion pack, ''Age of Empires III: The Warchiefs'', was released in 2006 and featured three of the native civilizations of the first game as playable: the Aztecs, the Sioux and the Iroquois. It also had several other additions, such as new buildings (the Saloon and the Native Embassy), units (gunpowder cavalry, petards and spies), and the chance to advance to an alternative fifth era for the European civilizations; and unique twists to the three new civilizations, such as the firepit (where villagers can dance in order to obtain a bonus, like creating healing priests, gaining more experience and raising the population limit) and unique big buttons for many buildings.

The single-player campaign, this time composed of two acts, (''Fire'' and ''Shadow'') which extended the Black family's lore by focusing on Amelia's father and son respectively, with Amelia starring again as the narrator and providing a cameo appearance in ''Shadow''.

''Age of Empires III: The Asian Dynasties'', the second ExpansionPack, was developed this time by Big Huge Games and Ensemble Studios, and was released in 2007. This ExpansionPack added another three new civilizations to the game, this time from the FarEast (ImperialChina, Japan and India). It introduced new unique bonuses for these civilizations, like the Export resource and the Consul.

The single-player campaign this time is set in three different historical events: the unification of Japan, the Chinese landing in the Americas and the Sepoy revolution in India.

After the demise of Ensemble Studios, Robot Entertainment (a development house made of former Ensemble employees) is developing the updates and maintaining the ESO service.

These games have a [[Characters/AgeOfEmpiresIII character sheet]] in [[NeedsWikiMagicLove need of some wiki magic love]].

!!Age of Empires III, The Warchiefs and The Asian Dynasties give examples of:
%%* Europeans
%%** Spanish: Generalist
%%** British: Industrial
%%** French: Brute Force
%%** Portuguese: Technical
%%** Dutch: Technical
%%** Russians: Spammer
%%** Germans Spammer
%%** Ottomans: Unit Specialist
%%* Native Americans
%%** Aztecs:
%%** Iroquois:
%%** Sioux:
%%* Asians
%%** Chinese:
%%** Indians:
%%** Japanese:
* AIBreaker: The AI knows how to build troops and how to build ships, but the concept of loading troops onto ships for transportation is utterly foreign to the the AI. On any skirmish map where the player and AI are separated by water you are completely safe from attack.
* AnyoneCanDie: Armies aside, a fair amount of main and supporting characters bite the dust across the campaigns. The countdown includes [[spoiler:Francisco Delgado and Alain Magnan]] in ''Blood''; [[spoiler:Stuart Black, John Black and Warwick]] in ''Ice''; [[spoiler:Major Cooper and Pierre Beaumont]] in ''Steel''; [[spoiler:Sven Kuechler]] in ''Fire''; [[spoiler:William Holme and George Armstrong Custer]] in ''Shadows''; [[spoiler:Daimyoes Mototada and Ishida (among many others)]] in ''Japan''; [[spoiler:Admiral Jinhai]] in ''China''; and [[spoiler:Colonel Edwardson]] in ''India''.
* AnachronismStew:
** Given how [[TechnologyLevels Ages]] work, this is inevitable.
** The languages used, especially in the campaigns. It can be jarring, for instance, to hear Anglo-American heroes speak (more or less) Modern English while your British units still talk as though stuck in the 16th Century.
** Some of the factions give off this vibe. The Chinese, for instance, are a mix of both the Ming and Manchu/Qing Dynasties.
* AntiGrinding: The introduction of RPGElements, in the form of the Home City and its shipments, also brought the expected problems, solved in the following ways:
** Skirmish and Multiplayer matches have a cap of 30,000 XP per match.
** Some campaign maps have a cap on the amount of experience you can [[LevelGrinding gather]], such as "Respect" (the sixth mission in ''Ice'', where [[spoiler:Kanyenke and John tries to gain the favour of the Lakota Tribe Chiefs]]). Other campaign missions, by way of being {{timed mission}}s, don't let the player level up a lot, such as the first and sixth mission of ''Blood'' ("Breakout" and "A Pirate's Help") and the first and seventh mission of ''Ice'' ("Defend the Colony" and "Warwick's Stronghold").
* AttackOfThe50FootWhatever: The "George Crushington" cheat unit. It's a giant, hopping bust of Washington that headbutts enemies to death with a [[WrittenSoundEffect BIFF! or a ZOINK!]] and shoots fireballs from its eyes.
--> '''George Crushington:''' '''''[[PreMortemOneLiner "CHECK IN YOUR WALLET. THAT'S ME ON THE DOLLAR BILL."]]'''''
* ArrowsOnFire: Archers pull these out when attacking buildings.
* ArtificialStupidity: The AI just loves building armies entirely composed of Mercenaries in the Asian Dynasties expansion, ignoring the fact that Mercenaries are [[AwesomeButImpractical incredibly expensive]] and easily outperformed one-on-one by plain, ordinary units in the later ages.
** Also, the AI players rarely upgrade their regular military units or research economic technologies, have trouble landing putting their units on ships, and never, ever build walls.
* AscendedExtra: The Aztecs, the Sioux and the Iroquois were just native tribes in the original game. They were made playable in ''The Warchiefs'' and both acts of its campaign focus on the Iroquois (''Fire'') and Sioux (''Shadow'').
* AscendedMeme: One of the pre-recorded taunts players can send each other is a hilariously British-accented "I'm in your base, killing your d00dz".
* AuthorAppeal[=/=]CreatorThumbprint: One of the chief developers is an Aztec fanboy. This is why the Aztecs were upgraded to playable faction in the first expansion rather than the Inca, as most fans had expected.
* AwesomeButImpractical:
** The mercenaries are more powerful than the average units they are based on [[note]]A Swiss Pikeman has 225 hitpoints and 22 melee damage compared to the regular pikeman's 120 hitpoints and 8 damage[[/note]] but they either cost too many coin or too many population to rely on them completely. Unless you're the Dutch in the later ages, where you have more than enough coin to field an entire mercenary army. In the end, you'll use more of your regular units throughout.
** Going for a Revolution while playing as a European faction instead of advancing through the Imperial Age is cheaper with a 1000 each of food, coin, and wood compared to the 5000 food and 5000 coin. At first, you will unlock many unique units such as [[GatlingGood Gatling Guns]], [[LightningBruiser Ironclad]] [[JackOfAllTrades Warships]], and [[WeHaveReserves Colonial]] [[ZergRush Militia]] units. However, doing so will permanently turn all your settlers into Colonial Militia, leaving players out with no way to gather resources unless they have a factory and trading posts ready prior to revolting. Furthermore, players will lose their Home City Cards in replace of new ones.
** Advancing to the Imperial Age will grant players the most upgrades, but not only is it costly as mentioned above, but it's more effective just to use the resources at the Industrial Age.
* {{Bandito}}: Some are available as mercenaries, while others are present as treasure guardians.
* BearsAreBadNews: Black, Grizzly and Polar bears are the strongest wild animals in the original game, and will kick the ass of your explorer, once he has used his OneHitKill on one of them, if they are in groups. In ''Asian Dynasties'', even the pandas cannot be trusted.
* BeethovenWasAnAlienSpy:
** Anything dealing with the very existence of the Circle of Ossus in ''III'':
*** The main reason for the Great Siege of Malta, as seen in ''Blood'', was [[spoiler: so the Ottoman Turks could get info on the Circle of Ossus, the Fountain of Youth, and the New World]].
*** The UsefulNotes/SevenYearsWar in ''Ice'' was [[spoiler: an attempt by the Circle of Ossus to obtain the Fountain of Youth by using the Russian Czar to conquer the Americas for them while the Western colonial powers were distracted and weakened from killing each other]].
** The Ming Chinese in the ''China'' campaign [[spoiler: landed in the Americas and fought a secret war amongst themselves before erasing almost all traces of their presence]].
** And then, there are more "mundane" things like Turkish outposts in South America, the knocking off of an entire Spanish Treasure Fleet, the course of the UsefulNotes/SevenYearsWar and Custer's Last Stand, and how many historical characters or organizations get involved in the plot.
* {{BFG}}: The Monitor, the Ottoman Great Bombard and the mercenary Lil' Bombard. Guaranteed to ruin ''someone's'' day when they start firing. Ottoman [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abus_gun Abus guns]] are portable cannons and the only infantry to deal siege-type damage.
* {{BFS}}: The Chinese Changdao (literally "long sword"). If you're not paying attention, you might think these guys are actually carrying a spear.
* BigDamnHeroes:
** In "Breakout", from ''Blood'', Alain Magnan comes with his cavalry to drive the Ottoman forces from Malta.
** In "Temple of the Aztecs", also from ''Blood'', the Aztec forces come to kick the Spanish out from their lands.
** In "Defend the Colony", from ''Ice'', John's Mercenaries come to defend the colony after the time is out.
* BilingualBonus: A peculiar subversion. Native speakers of French, Spanish, German, Russian, Portuguese, Dutch, Turkish, Hindi (Indians), Mandarin (Chinese) and Japanese will have little trouble understanding the phrases used by these civilisations, as they use the modern variant of their respective languages. Native English speakers, on the other hand, are stuck with the British speaking in 16th century Early Modern English, though the American and British hero units in the campaigns and the Outlaw Riflemen mercenaries do speak Modern English.
* BlingOfWar: Your units will wear increasingly colorful armor/uniforms as you upgrade them. Also a case where InformedEquipment is averted.
* BottomlessMagazines: Downplayed. Units do have to reload, but they never run out of ammunition to reload with. They also have an unlimited supply of torches to throw at buildings.
* BreakingTheFourthWall: Characters often ''explicitly refers to the fact'' [[PostModernism that they are part]] [[MediumAwareness of a computer game]].
** One specific example from the campaigns: in the Saratoga mission of ''Fire'', Nathaniel Black mentions advancing to the Fortress Age.
* CallThatAFormation: Generally averted, as the different formations available all have their uses in certain situations.
* CaptainObvious: At the very beginning of the first campaign, "Blood", a crossbowman tells the protagonist, Morgan Black that the Ottomans have landed... as Morgan was looking over a cliff watching hundreds of them, including Sahin, laying siege to the fort!
* ClassicCheatCode: tuck tuck tuck.
* CripplingOverspecialization:
** There are a lot of units with a low base attack damage but high multipliers against certain unit types, meaning that they're pretty rubbish against anything but those specific types. Culverins, for example, are nearly useless against anything but ships or other artillery.
** Skirmishers have excellent ranged damage but very low HP and melee damage. Pretty much anything that engages them in melee is likely to win.
* DamnYouMuscleMemory:
** The first two games have one and two-button interfaces. This series, only one.
** The priests in the vanilla games do not automatically go to units and heal them, they have a skill button for it instead, which confuses players who shifted between the vanilla [=AOE3=] to other AOE games-not to mention being very impractical. Fixed in the expansions.
* DamageIsFire: Justified: historically, professional armies (before the invention of electricity or reliable lighting) carried various unlit wooden torches with them into battle tucked into various places that they could light up and use in night fighting or when they had to burn something. The number a given soldier will use in short succession is still ludicrous, through.
* DeadpanSnarker: Several characters and AI personalities, especially the British and German [=AIs=] Queen Elizabeth and Frederick the Great respectively.
* DefeatMeansFriendship: The British army John and Kanyenke defeat in the [[UsefulNotes/SevenYearsWar the fourth level]] of ''Ice''. But there's also another British army which subverts this: the one led by [[spoiler:Warwick, a member of the Circle, who is also a renegade from the British army]].
* DesperationAttack: If you've unlocked it in the XP ladder, you can unleash either one or (after you unlocked another) two waves of "militia", which have middling HP and decent ranged attack, their main advantage being the [[ZergRush massive and sudden]] (you can train dozens in seconds) onrush of soldiers. The two waves can each only be used once, and their current health uniquely starts lowering immediately after they are trained, meaning that these units are only supposed to be used as an emergency last line of defense.
** NotTheIntendedUse: You can, however, train both waves close together [[ConfusionFu and with no warning]], and since their main strength is [[ZergRush massive numbers,]] you can defeat a decent sized enemy force even with low HP.
* EasyCommunication: The formation buttons.
* EasyLogistics: Home City shipments can't get lost at sea or delayed due to bad weather, and paying for a blockade is a one-time investment.
* EdutainmentGame: The first purpose of the game is entertainment, but there's plenty of historical information available, with the multiplayer interface having a sidebar displaying various historical facts. Other examples include:
** The first few missions of ''Blood'' happen during the Siege of Malta.
** The fourth mission of ''Ice'' has the player fighting in the UsefulNotes/SevenYearsWar for the French.
** ''Fire'' takes place during UsefulNotes/TheAmericanRevolution.
** The ''Japan'' campaign takes place during the unification of Japan and ends with the battle of Sekigahara.
** The ''India'' campaign takes place during the Sepoy Rebellion of 1857.
** ''Shadow'' takes place amidst the backdrop of Custer's Last Stand.
* EnemyExchangeProgram:
** In ''The Warchiefs'', the namesake Native American Warchiefs have the ability to convert treasure guardians.
** There is a chance that any unit killed by the Shaolin Master will become a Disciple, which all look the same. Even if this unit is not Chinese. [[UpToEleven Even if]] [[BalefulPolymorph this unit is not]] ''[[SerialEscalation human.]]''
** The Asian civilizations in ''The Asian Dynasties'' can get support from other civilizations, even if that civilization is an enemy, which can lead to Redcoats fighting Redcoats.
* FinalDeath: As per RTS standards, averted, thanks to the GameplayAllyImmortality: this means that the campaign heroes, explorers, Warchiefs, and monks getting [=KOed=] does not mean GameOver. [[EscortMission Other mission-critical units]] such as [[spoiler:Bahadur Sah]]... not so much.
* FirewoodResources: Averted, villagers don't need to carry the wood/food/gold to the nearest Town Center or specialized building. All resources go straight to the player's stockpile.
* FriendlyFireproof: Firing muskets and cannons into a melee will only kill enemies.
* GameMod: Quite a few have come out for the game. Some of the notable ones are:
** ''[[http://ageofempires.wikia.com/wiki/The_War_of_The_Triple_Alliance_(Modification) The]] VideoGame/WarOfTheTripleAlliance'', which, among other things, introduces independent New World nations (like Argentina, Brazil, Canada and the USA) and even an additional ([[AwesomeButImpractical if expensive]]) end-game Age extending into UsefulNotes/WorldWarI.
** The ''VideoGame/NapoleonicEra'' mod, which overhauls the game and puts more of a spotlight on the 19th Century.
* GameplayAndStorySegregation:
** [[ShownTheirWork The in-game units' info shows the developers do know that the game representations aren't accurate]], but nonetheless, there are many breaks from reality - for example, muskets can fire around every three seconds in-game, while they took significantly longer to reload in real life (the Musketeer's in-game unit info states that a competent musketeer could fire 4 shots per minute).
** The ''Japan'' campaign allows the player to advance to the Industrial Age, which gives you access to your main anti-building artillery... and allows you to upgrade your Trade Routes to ''railroads''. In ''1600''.
* GenderIsNoObject: Female villagers and some campaign heroes.
* GenerationalSaga: The campaigns of ''III'' and ''The Warchiefs'' tell the tale of the Black family.
* GenreShift: To a degree; the introduction of storylines revolving around the FountainOfYouth and the AncientConspiracy pursuing it is a pretty noteworthy one for a series whose campaigns had previously been focused upon the relatively accurate retelling of actual historical events, though those show up as well.
* GentlemanAdventurer[=/=]GreatWhiteHunter: The explorer.
* GeoEffects: Some missions in the campaigns (such as a mission in Los Andes in ''Steel'' after helping Bolivar, or Valley Forge in ''Fire'' after Saratoga) have the cold depleting your units' health.
* GettingCrapPastTheRadar: There's an unlockable visual customization for your Home City's harbor called 'A nice lady', further described as 'a soiled dove'. [[http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Soiled+dove Guess what it means.]]
** The randomized dialogue customization only amplifies it as her dialogue includes...
-->''"Hey, sailor."''
-->''"Is it evening yet?"''
-->''"Hey, it pays the rent."''
-->''"You new in town?"''
-->''"And now the money just rolls in."'' (referring to the recent sunset)
** Digging about the files for the where the dialogue is stored (Age of Empires III/[=AI2=]/homecitychatsets) shows it to drop the charade, where the dialogue of the "nice lady" is under a section headed by [==]
* GiantSquid: Appears in ''The Asian Dynasties'', but in a completely different manner to most media portrayals. Rather than as [[AttackOfThe50FootWhatever grossly over-sized monsters from the deep]], the squids are harmless creatures portrayed about the same size as in RealLife. Additionally, they never attack you and only are only there as a food source like salmon or cod. Also, they only appear in the Honshu map, where real GiantSquid also live.
* GoingNative: A recurring motif for the Black family, with Morgan's Scottish lineage being infused with Iroquois, American and finally Sioux blood. Tellingly, Chayton Black in ''Shadow'' is nigh indistinguishable from the Sioux tribesmen [[spoiler:he ultimately sides with]].
* GondorCallsForAid: In the first mission of ''Blood'', the Knights of St. John are near defeat when the bombards show, so they send some settlers to light a signal fire to call for reinforcements from Alain.
* GlassCannon:
** In general, Artillery, Skirmishers, Archers and Riflemen.
** The Uhlans are a mix of this and FragileSpeedster.
** Russian Oprnichiks are fragile and have relatively low base damage, but have a very strong anti-building attack and a huge damage multiplier against settlers. A dozen of them can cripple an enemy's economy within a minute.
** The Portuguese' unique version of the Skirmisher, the Cassador, amplifies this with even more ranged damage and even less HP and melee damage compared to the basic version.
* GuideDangIt: Fun fact - most ranged attacks from infantry attack at half the speed of melee attacks. Notably, that means musketeers will generally do more damage if attacking in melee rather than ranged. Unfortunately, this isn't written anywhere in the game, even with the advanced stats option on, forcing players to rely on fan-made databases and wikis for such information.
* HitAndRunTactics: All ranged cavalry can fire on the move. Averted by the other ranged units, who must [[DoNotRunWithAGun stop to fire]].
* HoldTheLine: Several missions in the singleplayer campaigns: the ones which end after the line is held are "Breakout" in ''Blood'', "Defend The Colony" in ''Ice'' and "Breed's Hill" in ''Fire''; the ones where it doesn't, and you have to defeat the enemy to win, are "Temples of the Aztec" in ''Blood'' and "Hold the fort" in ''Steel''.
* HorseArcher: The Ottomans, Russians, Sioux, Chinese and Japanese each have their own versions.
* ImmortalitySeeker: The [[AncientConspiracy Circle of Ossus]] is devoted to finding the Fountain of Youth in ''Blood'', whose water is said to give eternal life to those who drink it. This plot was revisited in ''Steel''. [[spoiler:Morgan]] has found that the "Immortality" granted by the Fountain of Youth is [[spoiler:no myth]], as we find out in the closing cutscene of ''III''.
* ImplausibleFencingPowers: The British Explorer can be given a special melee attack from a Home City shipment that allows him to [[SpinAttack spin around, causing damage around him]]. Tends to OneHitKill skirmishers. Several characters in the main campaigns also have a similar ability.
* InstantAwesomeJustAddNinja: Ninja are available as mercenaries in the first expansion. The Japanese can also train them normally, with certain requirements.
* IWillShowYouX: The lines policemen can say in your Home City after getting the customization for it includes [[RunningGag much of these]].
* KatanasAreJustBetter: Ronin mercenaries and Japanese Samurai have some of the strongest infantry attacks in the game.
* LargeHam:
** The AI personalities engage in this to varying extents, but Cuauhtemoc of the Aztecs stands out. A ThirdPersonPerson with a raspy voice and a lot of ego, he has such gems as:
-->'''(When losing a Trading Post):''' ''"[[ThirdPersonPerson Cuauhtemoc]] did not ''need'' that trading post!"''
-->'''(Entering a large battle):''' ''"Blood! [[EvilLaugh Ha ha ha ha!]] '''MORE BLOOD!'''"''
-->'''(Resigning):''' ''"No! [[ThirdPersonPerson Cuauhtemoc]] will NEVER surrender! ...Unless ... you '''let''' him?"''
** The Elmeti mercenary cavalry, who speaks Italian in a very over the top manner:
-->'''''"ALLA BATAGLIA!!"'''''
* LightningBruiser: French Cuirassiers, Spanish Lancers, Sioux Dog Soldiers, and mercenary Elmeti and Hackapells are all fast cavalry capable of both absorbing and dishing out absurd amounts of damage.
* {{Mayincatec}}: Aztec, Maya, Inca (and in ''The Warchiefs'', Zapotec) villages all have the same type of buildings. As the Aztecs get upgraded to playable faction in the sequel, however, they get unique and more accurate architecture.
* MightyGlacier:
%% ** Indian Elephants.
** The Fort is one of the most powerful defensive buildings in the game, boasting high attack power from its cannons and high hitpoints. It also has the ability to train infantry and cavalry units. Its weaknesses are its slow rate of fire, making it vulnerable to large armies attacking it all at once, and units that outrange its cannons (e.g. Mortars, Monitors). It should also be noted that the Fort Wagon, contrary to the Fort it builds, is [[MadeOfPlasticine incredibly flimsy]] and can't defend itself. Even a small group of light infantry can take it down quickly.
* MisplacedWildlife: A few slip-ups appear regarding treasure guardians. Black panthers, tigers and giant pandas in Japan, snow monkeys outside Japan and Komodo Dragons in any map (none of the maps are located near Komodo).
* MsFanservice: Queen Isabella, the Spanish AI personality, purrs in a [[EverythingSoundsSexierInFrench sultry Spanish accent]]. She says to ''"[[OrgasmicCombat quit]] playing [[CombatSadomasochist so]] [[SexIsViolence rough]]"'' when she is losing a battle, and that she ''"[[DoubleEntendre can't handle all these men]]"'' when requesting help. When attacked by multiple opponents, she asks, ''"Why is it that I always seem to get double-teamed?"''. She calls the player ''[[{{Dominatrix}} "pet"]]'' as an ally. In addition, [[http://i267.photobucket.com/albums/ii319/THE_faethin/IsabelAoE3.png her picture in the game's encyclopedia]] [[HistoricalBeautyUpdate looks quite lovely]] compared to the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isabel_de_Castilla historical paintings.]] (At least, to a modern audience.)
* TheMusketeer: The unit is meant primarily for ranged attack with a musket, but actually deals higher damage-per-second (and receives a hefty bonus against cavalry) with bayonet melee attacks. Ranged cavalry, similarly, have an attack bonus against artillery just as melee cavalry does, but will likely do more damage against artillery in melee mode due to the higher attack rating and artillery's damage-reduction from ranged attacks.
* MythologyGag:
** The "Eye of Ornlu", a treasure that gives 200 EXP, is named after [[SavageWolves a certain wolf]] in ''VideoGame/AgeOfEmpiresII''.
** The Armor of [[VideoGame/AgeOfMythology Arkantos]] increases hero and explorer hitpoints when claimed.
** The Germans have a shipment card, "Teutonic Town Center", which improves the defensive capability of town centers. ''VideoGame/AgeOfEmpiresII'' players may recall a certain GameBreaker when they see the name.
* NavalBlockade: This is one of the high-level abilities where you can block off a player's regular shipments from their home city. [[AwesomeButImpractical Of course by the time you have that ability it isn't really needed, but still]].
* {{Ninja}}: Available as mercenaries in ''The Warchiefs''. They serve mostly as assassins, dealing massive damage to {{Hero Unit}}s and other mercenaries.
* OmniscientCouncilOfVagueness: About all that we know about the Circle of Ossus for sure is that they are the enemy, their elite units are called 'Boneguards' and they want to obtain the FountainOfYouth. Absolutely everything else is up for grabs.
* OneHitKill: The European explorers have the Sharpshooter and, later on, the Crack Shot abilities: the first one allows you to kill a Treasure Guardian instantly; the second is a single high-damage shot that can kill almost any land military unit (with the exception of a few mercenaries and powerful special units) in one hit (but cannot be used against villagers and ships).
* PandaingToTheAudience: Averted. Pandas serve as treasure guardians here and they're some of the toughest ones around.
* PantheraAwesome: Played straight. The whole package of big cats appears with ''The Asian Dynasties'', jaguars, cougars, lions, tigers, white tigers, snow leopards and leopards, in the form of black panthers. They are all quite nasty to face, especially the ones available as trainable units.
* {{Pirate}}: Both the regular kind and the Wokou (Japanese pirates) show up, the latter being introduced in ''The Asian Dynasties''. ''The Warchiefs'' introduces a specialised building that can train mercenaries, amongst which the player can find pirates and corsairs.
* PrivateMilitaryContractors: The player can recruit powerful mercenaries from the Home City at the cost of gold and a shipment card. ''The Warchiefs'' allows them to be trained at a saloon at a higher cost per unit, with their availability dependent on the current map.
* ProtectionMission:
** In "Temples of the Aztec", from ''Blood'', the player must not let the enemy destroy the Aztec temples.
** In "The Rescue", from ''Ice'', the player must not let the enemy destroy the outpost and trade post in the Iroquois village.
** In "Respect", from ''Ice'', the player must win the scenario before the Lakota chiefs are killed.
** In "The Battle of Morristown", from ''Fire'', the player must not let the Hessian mercenaries destroy the capitol.
* ProudWarriorRaceGuy: Tokugawa and Cuauhtemoc.
* PurelyAestheticGender: Regular villagers can be either male or female, but do exactly the same jobs with the same amount of effectiveness.
* RhinoRampage: Rhinos might possibly be the only complete herbivore in the game to be a treasure guardian. But they also do this with style; being the most powerful animal in the game.
* RPGElements: Earning experience points during a match allows the player to send shipments from the Home City. They also go towards leveling up the Home City, which unlocks a wider variety of shipment cards and various cosmetic upgrades for the city.
* RoaringRampageOfRevenge: A recurring theme in the campaigns.
* SavageWolves: The wolves are enemies, appearing in most maps, second only to the cougar as animals go, bu are actually among the weakest of the animals in the games, and the explorer can dispatch a group of them with ease.
* SceneryPorn: The game's graphics are a significant step up from both ''Age of Kings'' and ''Age of Mythology.''
* SeldomSeenSpecies: With more animals than all previous games, including Guanaco, Giant Salamanders, Saiga, Ibex, Nilgai, Serow, Tapir, Capybara, Musk deer, and Rhea as huntable animals in some Maps.
* SeparateButIdentical: [[RunningGag Once again]], averted: every civilization has its unique quirks, especially the ones introduced in the expansions. For example, the Indians use wood instead of food to train villagers, British houses spawn a bonus villager when built and cost more, and the Dutch use gold instead of food.
** This also applies to the Home Cities shipment cards. While some are identical across civilizations, (extra villagers, resources...) others are unique to that civilization.
** Also, all civilizations not introduced in the expansions have more powerful but also more expensive unique upgrades for their "guard" units that replace the generic third-tier upgrade. For example, the British have Redcoat Musketeers instead of Guard Musketeers and Lifeguard Hussars instead of Guard Hussars.
* ShaggyDogStory: "Ambushed!" in ''Shadow''. This is a long, rough, labyrinthine map crammed full of War Huts stationed around the cliffsides. The player needs to get powder wagons to clear paths through trees, which can halt your progress until you get them to the area. And after all of your work in getting up, the player is taken to a cutscene where [[spoiler:Holme]] screws up the entire plan, thus making the whole trip pointless.
* ShootTheMedicFirst: Subverted. Priests, missionaries and surgeons heal units automatically, but the healing is done slowly and cannot be done while combat is going on.
* SettlingTheFrontier: Every skirmish/multiplayer game has your chosen civilizations establishing settlements in America/Asia (with some supplies shipped from their home cities). Of the campaigns, the first few missions of ''Steel'' and ''Shadow'' are the only ones that focus on this.
* ShoutOut:
** The cheat code "sooo good" causes a little WebAnimation/TeenGirlSquad-style message to appear whenever a unit is killed, such as "musketeer'd!" or "imperial howitzer'd!" All with a badass bugle sound included.
*** When "killed", some explorers will yell (roughly) "I've fallen, and I can't get up!" in their native language.
** There is a basic red and gold customization for British harbors in their Home City titled "Edward Teach's Academy of Naval Competence". Edward Teach is a man better known as [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blackbeard Blackbeard]], a pirate.
* ShownTheirWork
* SiegeEngines: Artillery units.
* SophisticatedAsHell: As mentioned above, the "killin' your doods" taunt, and this gem from the same voice actress as the Queen Elizabeth AI;
-->''"''Really''... such a ''noob''."''
* SortingAlgorithmOfEvil: Inverted. The first three Big Bads are technically equal in threat, since they all run the same organization, but there's still a big disconnect in their day jobs, which regress from [[spoiler:the Grandmaster of the Knights of St. John]] to [[spoiler: a lowly fur trapper]]. As for ''The Warchiefs'' expansion, the first Big Bad is some two-bit mercenary captain, and the second is [[spoiler: the Fort Laramie quartermaster]]. Makes you wonder where they get these huge armies to throw your way...
* SpeakingSimlish: Averted. Units speak in the language of their nation.
* SpiritualSuccessor: The game owes quite a good deal to ''VideoGame/AgeOfMythology.''
* StuffBlowingUp:
** Mortars, Monitors and Heavy Artillery.
** No matter what graphics level you have the game at, destroying weapons caches in the Campaign will cause them to blow up.
* SuspiciouslySimilarSubstitute: In the original game, you can build trade posts in Lakota, Iroquois and Aztec villages and get from them, respectively, native cavalry (Dog Soldier), ranged infantry (Tomahawk) and siege (Mantlet), and infantry (Jaguar Warrior) and ranged infantry (Eagle Warrior) units. In the ''Warchiefs'' sequel, the Lakota (now renamed Sioux), Iroquois and Aztecs become playable factions, and their former place in the map is filled with the Cheyenne, Huron and Zapotec, who provide you with cavalry (Cheyenne Rider), siege (''Huron'' Mantlet) and infantry (Lightning Warrior) units.
* SymbologyResearchFailure:
** The Chinese "Confucian Academy" Wonder can automatically produce heavy siege weapons.
** The Aztec barracks are sacrifice pyramids.
* TacticalRockPaperScissors: While it's less clear-cut than in the other games in the series, generally, Infantry > Cavalry > Artillery > Infantry applies. It generally gets a bit complex, but the intent remains clear.
** Infantry is divided into Heavy Infantry (Musketeers and Pikemen/Spearmen) which are effective against both kinds of Cavalry, and Light Infantry (Skirmishers, some types of Melee Infantry, Riflemen, and Archers) which are effective against Heavy Infantry and Ranged Cavalry.
** Cavalry is divided into Melee Cavalry which are effective against Artillery and Light Infantry, and Ranged Cavalry which are effective against Melee Cavalry.
** For Artillery, the Falconet is better against infantry than they are against buildings, the Culverin is good against other artillery and ships, the Mortar can only target buildings and ships and annihilates those with ease.
** Civilization specific units can also be effective against units that their unit archetype is not effective against.
* TechnologyLevels: The Discovery Age, Colonial Age, Fortress Age, Industrial Age and Imperial Age/Revolution.
* TheBeastmaster: Explorers can get a canine companion to fight at their side. The Spanish Explorer can train more War Dogs. The Warchiefs can train animals and convert treasure guardians, so they often end up with a menagerie of wolves, jaguars and bears that follow them around and try to eat enemy soldiers.
* ThemeParkVersion: Of the 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th century. ''At the same time'', no less. But they even it out by providing tons of detailed background information for ''every'' type of soldier, animal, and plant in the game's world!
* TheyKilledKenny: Your explorer. Technically "captured"/"fallen" rather than "killed" when his hit points drop to zero, and can be brought back either by being ransomed by the player or by having units sent to recover him. You can expect this to happen at least once per game.
* ThreateningShark: Great White Sharks serve as naval treasure guardians in ''The Asian Dynasties''. They can sink warships if you're not careful.
* TimedMission: The next-to-last mission of ''Ice'' requires you to destroy Warwick's Town Center in 15 minutes while stealing resource carts and having some settlers to collect these resources.
* UnitsNotToScale: When putting people inside ships and ''canoes''. The in-game database entry about the canoes {{lampshade|Hanging}}s this.
* YouAreTheTranslatedForeignWord: The Ottoman character "Sahin, the Falcon". Şahin is a Turkish name meaning falcon.
* YouRequireMoreVespeneGas: Gold, Wood, Food, and XP, along with Firepit dancers or Export depending on the civilization.
* ZergRush:
** The Russians produce batch armies, which are cheaper per soldier.
** The Chinese in ''The Asian Dynasties'' take this even further, producing mixed batches of cheap but pitifully weak troops.
** The Spanish can rush enemies by spamming army shipment cards at the start. In the late game, it is possible via a combination of improvements and shipment cards to reduce the training time of their Barracks units to zero, allowing to you create instant armies with a few clicks. Just hope your opponent didn't build a lot of artillery.
** There are also the minutemen: cheap and quick to train but they ''lose'' health as they ''live''.
** The Germans receive a unique cavalry unit, the [[FragileSpeedster fast but fragile]] Uhlan, for free with each shipment.
** The civilizations introduced in ''The Warchiefs'' focus in this aspect (the Sioux, Iroquois, and Aztecs). However, the Aztecs pretty much thoroughly goes in rushing, as all their "big button" upgrades involve spawning a set amount of warriors, and their War Priests can dance in the Fire Pit with an improved dance unlike a typical Villager, so the production rate bonus is higher.