The scenario can be played as one of four civilizations. In the scenario, China and Korea are in a team, and are locked into war with Japan. Japan begins with a huge invasion force just off the coast of Korea, and in almost every case will wind up taking the Korean city of Busan on the first turn.
Manchuria begins with only one city (Fe Ala) and a handful of troops to the north of China and Korea. Manchuria has the Eight Banners unique ability, which allows them to convert a barbarian encampment guardian whenever an encampment is destroyed, with 100% chance of succeeding, and even providing a soldier if an encampment has no guardian. It is actually possible to get the "Barbarian Warlord" achievement as Manchuria, even though the achievement's description says it must be done as Bismarck. Settlers cannot be built, and thus China, Korea, and Japan cannot build cities. The Manchu (Manchuria), however, can build the unique unit, clan, which is a unique settler that provides a Monument, Granary, and Market in each city it founds. The Manchu also get the Banner Cavalry, a re-used Keshik with lesser Combat Strength, Ranged Combat Strength, and cost in comparison to Keshiks.
Science is turned off and science buildings are unavailable. The Paper Maker unique building for China has been converted into a replacement for the bank, and has been changed to produce +4 gold and 0 science. The Koreans' "Scholars of the Jade Hall" unique ability that improves science has been replaced with the "Righteous Army" unique ability, which prevents Korea from being eliminated from the game if it loses all its cities, and receive free guerrilla soldiers every ten turns near captured Korean cities. The Japanese Zero is unavailable due to locked science, and has been replaced with a Wajo unique improvement, a re-used fort that provides a +50% combat bonus to units stationed on it and deals 2 damage to any enemy that ends their turn adjacent to one.
Either Japan or Manchuria can win by conquering both the Chinese and Korean capitals (Beijing and Seoul). China and Korea win by being in control of all of their original cities any time after the year 1600 (Turn 16), but before the time limit of 100 turns ends. If the time limit is reached and none of the victory conditions are met, the civilization with the highest score wins.
- Manchuria (scenario-specific civilization)
- Leader: Sejong (historically Seonjo)
- Unique Ability: Righteous Army - Never eliminated from the game, even when they lose their last city. Periodically receive free units to retake their captured cities. These include Turtle Ships and Archers enhanced with the ability to withdraw before facing a melee attack.
- Unique Units: Turtle Ship (replaces Caravel), Hwach'a (replaces Trebuchet)