Italian Nation Guide by Finargil

Updated: 02/10/03 | Printable Version

Italian Nation Guide or How to bring a nation of traders and seamen to rule 
Medieval Europe

Date: February 10th, 2003.
Author: Finargil


1.   Introduction 
2.   General Advice
      2.1 MTW and STW
      2.2 The Italian Nation
      2.3  A people at arms, or raising a proper army
3.  Units
      3.1 Italian Units
      3.2 Your Enemies
4.  The Italian Campaign
      4.1 Starting point
      4.2 The Route to Outremer
      4.3 The Italian Lake
      4.4 European Power Politics
      4.5 Renaissance ruler
      4.6 Ending the Campaign
5. Final words

1. Introduction

This is my first Guide and possibly one of the firsts done for this game. I have 
played the Italian "faction" (I prefer calling them "nations") in the "Glorious 
Achievements" mode, difficulty setting at Normal, and starting in the early era. 
I strongly recommend this mode, for it adds depth to the game, and helps refrain 
the warlord inside you. The machine proposes you goals keyed to your nation 
which are both difficult and historically accurate and well-timed, so the 
playing keeps being interesting without limiting itself to a defeat-everybody-
conquest-everything sort of playing. Making a true "Walkthrough" is nearly 
impossible due to the nature of the game, as every single decision affects the 
long-term strategy and there are many ways of achieving success or fail 
miserably. So after the very initial movements, the content will be mainly 
illustrative. In some cases, I have tried different paths just to see what 
happened, and the guide will reflect this. I assume that the reader is already 
acquainted with the game mechanics, so I shall not discuss them here, except 
when useful to the guide.
It would be really worth the pain reading something on medieval European history 
to have a better taste of the game. I strongly recommend the popular Men-at-Arms 
series by Osprey Military Publishing. Specifically on the medieval Italians you 
can find MAA no 210, The Venetian Empire; MAA no 136, Italian Armies 1300-1500; 
and Warrior Series no 25, Italian Militiaman. You should see the care for 
historical accuracy the developers have put into the game, enjoy it much better 
and learn something painlessly.

2. General Advice

2.1  MTW and STW

Die-hard Shogun players will have mixed feelings about MTW. Shogun was very 
straight: to unify Japan under your Daimyo you had to kill every other one and 
pound any other Clan into submission. In the tactical field it is very simple: 
it has very few units shared by all combatants, with a few improvements in terms 
of equipment (also attainable to any of them).
MTW, at least in the "Achievements" mode, is much more complex, but the 
complexity does not only provoke annoyance: it adds depth. Probably, if you play 
MTW like it was Shogun, you will be somewhat frustrated. The game is much more 
subtle than that.
In the tactical field, there are subtle differences as well. The number of troop 
types is huge. In STW, just comparing your army's roster to the enemy's gave you 
an exact idea of how well it would perform. The troops were the same, and there 
were but a few morale and command factor to consider. Now the variety makes it 
impossible to assess the relative capabilities of two armies at a quick glance; 
you should learn by experience the relative abilities of each kind of troop. 
This is only emphasized in the Italian campaign, where you must face the rich 
variety of Muslim, Turkish and Byzantine troops. Some differences even remain 
obscure: are Hobilars better than Mounted Sergeants or Alan Cavalry? Are the 
common Western knights comparable to Ghulam Guards or to the Armenian or 
Khwarazmian heavies? Do the Almohad militia have more stamina than your militia 

2.2  The Italian Nation

Italian homeland looks a bit puny: restricted to Venice, Milan, Genoa and 
Tuscany, plus the poor islands of Corse and Sardinia. The general strategy 
should obviously be geared towards maritime and trade development, with as 
little as possible in the way of conquests, at last until the middle game (say, 
around AD 1250). "Peace and Commerce" is the Italian way. If you look at what is 
considered "Italian homeland" by the AI (by clicking the Calice icon next to the 
Crown, and then on "homelands"), you'll see Naples and Crete are included, which 
are held by the Byzantines. You should try taking at least Naples as soon as 
possible. It is quite useful to peep at the other nations' goals, so as to deny 
them if possible. Crusades to the Holy Lands are your main means of territorial 
expansion in the early game. The Pope will ask you to launch a Crusade to 
Antioch as early as AD 1190 and others to Edessa and Palestine soon after. 
Launch them all, if possible, they earn you lots of points. I dedicated Venice 
to Crusade preaching, so I built a Church and a Chapter House. The machine will 
ask you to control more trade than any other faction by the AD 1204. This is an 
extremely difficult goal to attain; I must confess I failed miserably. To have 
the slightest opportunity, start building a navy ASAP. The last goal requested, 
at around 1400, is building a Cathedral in Tuscany, finishing it by AD 1420. Be 
aware that the level of development to start this is quite high: you need the 
Monastery and the 8000 fl Fortress, so keep Tuscany development apace with your 
main territories.

2.3  A people at arms, or raising a proper army

A good, balanced army is built around line infantry units. These must have the 
ability to withstand charges and sustain moderate casualties without breaking; 
the former is called "stopping power", while the latter is the "staying power". 
In MTW, unlike STW, the common Foot unit is better charging than defending (but 
"charge" is distinctly different from "attack", which involves "staying power"; 
troops good at charging but weak on attack should be relieved quickly with fresh 
ones after the initial "impact"); this reflects the fact that charging along 
with your buddies often has a morale-boost effect, while waiting the enemy's 
charge in motionless close ranks (or becoming stuck in a bloody melee for long) 
is unnerving to green troopers. They must be supported by missile units of any 
kind, Foot or Horse, and "assault troops", to break enemy attacks by 
countercharging; Horse is specially suited to this role, but some special Foot 
units can be used. Finally, it must have some pursuit units, the traditional 
role of Horse. Note that I have not mentioned the classic cavalry shock-action; 
this unsubtle, costly tactic should be avoided completely against formed, 
cohesive infantry of average or more quality. A push by a similar infantry unit 
coupled with a flanking action by cavalry -more of a "pricking" nature instead 
of charging home-, should lead to the enemy unit's dissolution -at a much lesser 
cost. Consider that after being in action for any length of time, cavalry 
quickly becomes "spent": though not having still sustained heavy casualties, it 
becomes exhausted and any further attempt to commit it into a charge will result 
in its turning tail and fleeing or being decimated; withdraw any such unit, 
unless you have to sacrifice it in dire need. This reflects the common reasoning 
of the medieval cavalry trooper that considers that after a couple of charges in 
a single battle his obligations towards his overlord are duly fulfilled and 
others should finish the job. Not also that I have described a mainly "defensive 
action"; in fact, you should try to be tactically on the defensive whenever 
possible. More often than not, when you are on the offensive, the defending army 
will flee or will try a massive counterattack from an advantageous position 
while your troops are approaching and still on line of march if they are 
confident (or have troops with good "charge" bonuses), so be warned.
Special armies can be tailored to a special role: a castle-storming army should 
include some artillery, some long-range, well-protected missile troops (the 
pavise variety, if possible), and plentiful of cheap, spirited, expendable 
infantry to perform the actual assault. Armies reinforcing a defensive position 
should include missile troops (they expend their missiles rather quickly) and 
fresh line infantry. Armies reinforcing an offensive battle should be mostly 
cavalry (to reach the place of the action quickly).
I have read in some FAQs and on-line forums that people advocates armies formed 
exclusively of the most powerful unit available (knights, generally); this kind 
of army, though probably successful in open battle, is a waste of resources: 
something much cheaper but better balanced would do the job in a much more cost-
effective way (Consider this: a full Royal Knight army would be 400-strong and 
cost 15500 fl. A half-pikemen, half-arbalester army would be 1560-strong and 
cost 11500 fl. Replacing the Royal for Chivalric knights should raise the number 
to 800, but replacing the pikemen for Italian Infantry -your favourite!- cuts 
the expense to 5100 fl!)
You have a quite good unit of Foot, the Italian Light Infantry, and a decent 
Missile troop, the Genoese Sailors. You should key your development to both of 
these. Do not hesitate in disbanding your earlier units as you raise better ones 
(you should disband all your siege machinery as soon as you can replace them 
with gunpowder artillery, even to the extent of destroying the related 
construction facilities if on a tight budget), but always keep a number of them 
for garrison duties. The same must be done to any mercenary unit that can be 
replaced by equivalent national troops; their maintenance cost is much lower.

3. Units

I shall discuss in detail only the ones you should use as the Italians. Numbers 
(when provided) are: troops quantity, initial cost, and annual cost. Then I 
shall review briefly the most common units you will find on the opposite side of 
the battlefield.

3.1 Italian Units

- Peasants (100, 50, 26): Do not bother with these. They are not even the equals 
to Shogun's Ashigaru. In the middle game, however, you'll find yourself making 
some of them to serve as garrison troops; at 0.5 apiece, they are the cheapest.
Urban Militia (60, 100): Slightly better. They are still not your basic Yari 
Samurai; prone to route if forced to stand and fight, they are better in sudden 
downhill charges. Their upgrade, the Militia Sergeants, (60, 150), are good, 
reliable troops. You must build the Town Guard.
- Spearmen (100, 125, 50): Your basic grunt troops for the early, well into the 
middle game. They are still not your trusty Yari: they do not defend well, 
except against cavalry (though knights usually cut their squares in the first 
impact). They have no "staying-power" in the attack either: charge and retreat 
back is still your tactic. However, at 1.25 fl apiece, they are the cheapest 
real soldiery you'll have. Their upgrade, Feudal Sergeants (100, 175), are very 
good, reliable troops which will form the backbone of your armies well into the 
late game. Build the Spearmaker Workshop.
- Pikemen (100, 200) If you upgrade the Town Militia all the way into County 
Militia (you'll need the 8000 fl Fortress) you'll have the common stock Pikemen. 
Inexpensive, reliable Foot; at 2 fl apiece, it make sense raising them even for 
garrison duties. If you also upgrade your Armory all the way, you'll have Swiss 
(?) and then Armored Swiss Pikemen, which are even better, though far more 
expensive, at 700 and 900 (oddly enough, they are 96 men-strong). If you can 
afford it, it is a good deal for the most powerful Foot unit of the game.
- Archers (60, 225): Well, for those loving the English "Pike and Bow" tactic, 
they are an absolute necessity. Take into account that they are not your Samurai 
Archers: they will run for their lives if merely approached by an enemy melee 
unit. If you deploy them in true Shogun fashion, ahead of your pike line in 
skirmish, they will run to safety not only through your spearmen but your amazed 
entire army as well. True to Western medieval archery traditions, I'm afraid (at 
least up to the Agincourt battle). They are also expensive, but they are the 
only game in town until you develop the Genoese Sailors (60, 275), even more 
expensive, but at least have some stamina. No upgrades; Crossbows are a 
different game.
- Crossbowmen (60, 200): Though they require the Bowyer's Workshop, they are 
actually cheaper than Archers, giving a clue to their wholly different nature 
(and reflecting their weapons' easier training). They shoot slowly, real slowly, 
but their bolts are more powerful and shoot in a straight line (Archers shoot in 
overhead volleys). The entire front rank of an enemy's formation can fall to a 
well-aimed crossbow volley. They are armored and not incapable of defending 
themselves. Upgrade them to Pavise Crossbows (by building the Bowyer's Guild), 
and they will be able to face enemy Archers.
- Arbalesters (60, 250): Only a tad more expensive than common archers, they are 
quite powerful, if slow-firing. You'll need them to face the heavily armoured 
Byzantine horse and those dreadful Varangian Guards, not to speak of the Golden 
Horde heavies. Cover them from other missile troops with Archers and support 
them with pike units. You need the Bowyer's Guild. If building the Master Bowyer, 
you can make Pavise Arbalesters at the same cost.
- Feudal Men-at-Arms (60, 150): General purpose Foot, with both better Defense 
and Attack than Feudal Sergeants. They are more expensive, and you need both the 
Spearmaker and the Swordsmith. A matter of taste: I usually prefer the big 
squares of Sergeants. Their upgrade, the Chivalric Men-at-Arms, (60, 275), are 
true elite shock troops, expensive and powerful. Raise a few of these, for 
special assault purposes. You need the Swordsmith's WS.
- Order Foot Soldiers (100, Crusade): Appear in the Crusade. They are good.
- Italian Light Infantry (100, 262): Well, your state-of-the-art infantry. 
Excellent GP Foot troops, second only to the various Pikemen. These should be 
your backbone from the middle game onwards; I have never seen them route. Build 
the Spearmaker's Guild, though you need the Castle (2000 fl), they are worthy of 
some investment. This unit effectively replaces all infantry except perhaps the 
Pikemen, to whom it is a good complement as flankguard. Other close-combat heavy 
infantry such as the Halberdiers (60, 300) and Chivalric Sergeants (100, 250) 
can be skipped safely.
- Handgunners (60, 131, 30): Good, cheapo substitute to crossbows. Add flavor 
and technology to your army. I have seen entire formations of Easterners turn 
tail and flee at the first volley. Well armoured (to be protected from their own 
weapons!), they can even charge a flailing enemy. Can be upgraded into 
Harquebusiers. Their low maintaining cost (barely more than the useless Peasants) 
make them very useful garrison troops. 
- Knights: The first variety (Royal Knights, 20, 300) is at hand from the very 
beginning: you only need Royal Palace and Court buildings. They are powerful but 
very expensive, prone to indulge themselves in reckless charges and get 
surprised motionless in woods. They come in small units (very accurate 
historically, twenty men was the number of a common conroi, or knightly "unit"), 
losing a single one is a pain. Their upgrades are even more powerful and way 
more expensive (450, 625 and 775) so you wonder if they are worth at all. I am 
usually content with the princes' retinues.
- Feudal Knights (40, 475): Expensive and with extensive building requirements, 
at least they come in sizeable numbers. I do not raise many of these units, but 
it's a matter of taste. Their upgrades, the Chivalric Knights, are formidable if 
more costly, at 875. However, do not make the folly of committing them headlong 
against pike infantry in ordered ranks (a most common medieval chivalry 
- Knights Hospitaller (40, Crusade): OK, they appeared in my Crusade, and they 
are great. Hone them and use them sparingly.
- Mounted Sergeants (40, 175): Your basic shock cavalry trooper. I raised many 
of them, being cheap, fast and moderately powerful. Use them in countercharges, 
against nasty missile troops and for pursuing routers. They won't break knights 
or formed infantry all by themselves.
- Spanish Jinetes (40, 250): if you happen to get hold of any Spanish province 
(you will) raise them. They are fast, flexible troopers that can throw javelins 
to an enemy and then charge home. They can cope with any tactical situation, 
except headlong charges into pikes or heavy cavalry.
- Mounted Crossbowmen (40, 300): Good, cheap (building wise) troops, supreme for 
ambushes and skirmishing well ahead of your battle line. They can wear down 
slow-moving, heavily armoured enemy units long before they reach your troops, 
while having a reasonable chance of staying out of trouble. They will retreat, 
firing their weapons, keeping a safe distance. However, they tend to do so in a 
completely divergent direction, instead of falling back into your main line. Do 
not send them in Shogun Cavalry Archers' fashion, to cut down routers, nor to an 
arrow-fight against Foot Archers.
- Heavy Horse (in general): Until fairly late in the game (circa AD 1320) I used 
very little of Heavies, just the princes' retinues, the Crusader knights and 
some mercenary troopers. I'd rather pay the mercenaries higher maintaining costs 
and skip the expensive building development needed to raise these units, anyway 
in relatively few numbers. I have had two really brilliant such mercenary units: 
the Armenian and the Khwarazmian Heavies. They countercharged and routed both 
the heavy Byzantine Kataphraktoi and as well as any middle-game Western knights 
whenever they met. Muslim Ghulams were somewhat harder, however, as were the 
very late knights. In the late game I raise some Feudal, Chivalric and very few 
Royal knights.
- Mercenary Troops: The Italian is a Republican citizen army, but I encouraged 
the hiring of services of some special mercenary units. It is wise to build an 
Inn in any faraway overseas stronghold; should it be cut off, you can in case of 
need increase the number of troops in the garrison dramatically in no time. 
Otherwise, check your Inns periodically and hire, whenever they appear on the 
offer, Khwarazmian or Armenian Heavy Horse, Pikemen, Italian Infantry (yes, it 
sounds weird, but they appear much earlier as mercenaries), Longbowmen, Billmen 
and, if you cannot still raise them, Arbalesters. Desert and Mounted Archers 
from Middle East and Hobilars from Western Europe are handy, if a local shortage 
of troops arises. There is so much to choose from, that it becomes a matter of 
personal taste: I like the "Bulgar Brigands", who are a kind of Foot archers 
with an eye for dirty melee fighting, and Vikings for use as assault troops in 
the early stages of the game (also, in mockery of the Byzantium Emperor's 
Varangian Guard -internal joke)
- Siege machinery: I do not like to build these, except Ballistas; the rest I 
hire. Assaulting castles is not a wise policy; make it only when you are in a 
hurry, the fortress will hold out for a long time (five to seven years) and the 
remaining garrison is ridiculously small. I usually complete the siegework cycle, 
but keep a siege train of a dozen machines just in case. Even so, I let the AI 
calculate the result. When gunpowder artillery appeared, I made some Bombards 
and Demi-culverins; they are great in sieges and terrifying, if cumbersome, in 
field battles. Deploy them at the back of your line; they are unwieldy and have 
a rather long minimum range. Take into account that it is the crew you train; if 
they withdraw safely, all will be well; but cut down the enemy's crew, not the 
machines themselves. I had not the chance of using Serpentines and Siege Mortars, 
though I raised a few.
- Strategic units: I have played the entire game with only two Emissaries.  To 
make the common spying work, I sent my Princesses in worldly tours before 
marrying them, usually to sponsored officials. Two Bishops are necessary from 
the very beginning; later on, as you conquer Muslim territories and heretic 
cults appear in Provence and Genoa, a couple more will be needed. Half a dozen 
Assassins are of the essence; to let them gain experience, station them in 
Venice and Naples, which are well-trodden paths for Muslim Emissaries and 
preachers and murder them. Be careful, for they will follow their targets to 
foreign territories where they can be easily caught and executed; I made all the 
dirty work at home. Most my Assassins were four, five and six-star ones. Then, 
station them on duty on every hot frontier and beside any high-ranking commander 
you have. I have not trained Spies until the very late game; they are useful for 
counterspying work, bagging honor when discovering plots, but the intelligence 
they gather is not very accurate. I did not make any Inquisitor, and killed any 
coming close on the spot; it is a matter of principles.
- Shipping: start building a navy ASAP. Have a couple of Dromons, which, if 
relatively defenseless, are the only ships capable of catching Muslim Dhrows. 
Prepare to confront the Byzantines in the middle game with two/three 
galley/firegalleys squadrons in every square of sea. Most ships have a better 
attack than defense abilities; should naval warfare occur, always be on the 
offensive. I only lost one naval battle being on the offensive, and it was 
because I did not realize that was attacking single-handedly a two-ship squadron; 
even so, one enemy ship was sunk. Contrary to what I have seen reported, number 
counts in naval warfare; a two or three-ship squadron has victory guaranteed 
against a single one, if they are of the same kind and they manage to catch it. 
Captains gain battle experience; after a successful ten years' long naval war 
against Byzantium, most of my captains were three to four star commanders. 
Upgrade to Wargalleys and Gun Galleys by building all the dockyard upgrades 
(you'll need the 4000 fl Citadel and the Cannon Foundry), but if you have been 
lucky, yours will be the only sizable navy by that time.
- Titles: Choosing good governors is of the essence. The income of a province 
can rocket about 50 per cent with a really good one. Anything from four Acumen 
"plumes" is acceptable, while six is outstanding. At first you'll have to make 
do with what you have, but do not hesitate about stripping titles (dropping an 
Emissary on the disgraced official) or disbanding an early unit when you find a 
really good financist. Titles give some abilities: most give one or two Loyalty 
shields, some Acumen plumes or Piety crosses, and a very few give Command stars, 
so consider this when choosing candidates. Also, a really outstanding candidate 
should not be wasted in a poor territory. If Loyalty level is the problem, nail 
him marrying him to a princess. Keep an eye on them; some develop bad habits and 
their skills diminish. I have the vague, unproven idea that the Italian nation 
provides good candidates; a friend of mine, playing the Germans, has experienced 
an acute shortage of learned men; he regards a three-plume Acumen candidate as 
quite good, while it would have been a very mediocre official in my game. Also, 
it may be true that Urban Militia from Tuscany, Italian Infantry and Spanish 
Jinetes provide good men both in Acumen and/or Command, while Knights are mostly 
uneducated men (though you can assign titles to the royal family once they slip 
out of the succession line). May be it is a tribute to the witty, audacious, 
hard working Italian medieval citizenry, maybe it is only a false impression 
caused by my own bias towards them. It has also been reported  that getting your 
king out to campaign, aside from gaining him Influence and Command, makes the 
royal lineage stronger, and that heirs appear having more skills. If such is the 
case, the Doge, given the extended periods of peace, should be a mediocre to 
average ruler most of the time.

3.2  Your Enemies

I would classify them in three categories: Western nations, Muslim nations, and 
Byzantines and other Easterners. Of these, Western are the most predictable: 
they have the same kind of troops like you, with some exceptions easy to tackle 
with. English Longbowmen and Billmen, the various Swiss Pikemen and the Danish 
Vikings are widely know and it would be wise to avoid them entirely. French and 
Germans excel in some varieties of knights, but the "Pike and Bow" tactic should 
make short work of them. 
- Muslim nations are more complicated. In a word, in the early period they top 
you, while their advantage diminishes with time. Muslim troops are better than 
the Western directly comparable ones. Muslim infantry is better than average, 
both the spear and the militia varieties, they have very useful javelineers, and 
most their archers have a bite in a melee. Turks have the benefit of the steppe 
kind of very strong cavalry, of both the shock and archer variety. Ghulam 
Bodyguards can tackle with any Western heavy, and I have already praised 
Armenian and Khwarazmian heavies. Do not make the mistake of considering all 
Muslim cavalry as scimitar wielding horsemen wearing light clothes and turbans! 
Those who indeed are can wear you down with arrows and close in for the kill 
later, or clung to your flanks and route any flailing unit. Keep them away with 
many archers or comparable light horse, like the Jinetes or Mounted Sergeants or, 
if you are that lucky, Alan or Hobilar mercenaries. In the end, it is nothing 
that the "Pike and Bow" tactic cannot handle.
- Byzantines have an excellent early basic infantry, well armored and capable of 
both attacking and defending. Their heavy horse is also first class, 
Kataphraktoi are comparable to early knights and they come in troops of 40. They 
also have the dreaded Varangian Guard, a single unit of 60 of whom can put to 
flight almost all your infantry line. Last but not least, they have access to 
much of the steppe cavalry troops. Regarding Kataphraktoi and Varangians you do 
not have a chance if you let them charge unhindered; wear them down with all the 
missiles you have, the heavier the better, then countercharge against their 
flank with the heaviest units you have at hand. A good tactic is sending forward 
some Horse Crossbowmen to start wearing them down early enough.
A word of warning must be made about Naphta Throwers. First, they are a truly 
historical unit (there was also a method of throwing flammable material by means 
of a kind of blowpipe). Second, though each unit is only twelve-strong and comes 
at a walk in a single line looking puny, they are to be feared. Wear them down 
with arrows (lots are needed since they come in open order) and charge with fast 
troops against their flank.
- The Golden Horde, when appears, does so in the form of incredibly powerful 
armies of heavy horse (both their own and Khwarazmian) and horse archer units, 
with some siege machinery. If allowed to stay, they develop some standard 
infantry units and maybe launch a boat into the Black Sea. The wisest way is 
letting the Hungarians and the Byzantines do the work; if you have to face them, 
be sure to have plenty of armor-piercing missile troops.

4. The Italian Campaign

4.1 Starting point

The basic strategy lines I took and kept were: remain at peace with the most 
peoples possible and encourage trade whenever profitable; never make offensive 
war to an fellow Catholic people and always prefer warring Muslim and Pagans to 
Orthodox; making the most of Crusading and keep the Pope as an ally. To prevent 
unwanted wars, a dissuassory tactic works most of the times to appease war 
mongering neighbours: save often, build up troops in attacked areas and load the 
game again, until the would-be attacker thinks it over. They worked most of the 
times until the late game; then, it grows wild.
You start with Venice, Milan, Genoa and Tuscany, plus the very rustic Corse and 
Sardinia islands. Venice is your Metropolitan area, and it is well developed. 
Set each province to raise a specific kind of troops: I chose Milan for Spearmen, 
Tuscany for Urban Militia (they are +1 honor there), Genoa for Archers and 
ultimately Genoese Sailors, and Venice for shipping, Crusades and special troops.  
Build a Trade House in each territory having tradable goods, and keep an eye on 
farming development: wherever the annual income approaches fifty percent the 
investment, build them. I skip mine building, for it produces about the percent 
the investment per year (unlike they were in Shogun, where they virtually 
guaranteed your profits); I usually priorize farming. Build an Inn in Milan, 
hoping to attract warlike Swiss; while none of these may appear, other 
interesting troops will show up for hire. There should be a Tavern  somewhere, 
and you should train an Assassin/Spy for each hot frontier or high ranked 
general you have. 
Your first move should be taking Naples from the Byzantines, before they are too 
powerful. In true Shogun fashion, take your king and all you have. If possible, 
take a hold in the Dalmatian coast (Croatia and Serbia) ASAP, and, if you can, 
Crete. If you do, be prepared to abandon them at any moment: do not develop them 
too much, but build an Inn. Then, make all efforts to appease the Byzantines to 
make a ceasefire and ultimately an alliance. You need that to launch your 
Crusades to Outremer (such as medieval Europeans called the Middle East).
It is very convenient to take Sicily, a well-developed land, but it is held by a 
Catholic nation, so you risk retaliation by the Pope. Try luring the Sicilians 
into attacking you in Naples, but do not lose the province when they do. The 
Pope will warn them to make a ceasefire and abandon any won territory in two 
years; if you pass to the counteroffensive may be you could take Sicily and the 
Sicilians still will cease operations not to get excommunicated. If they do not, 
they will get the excommunication and you will be able to attack them. Pass to 
neutral quickly, for they can block your trade routes easily. You can raise 
Horse and shipping in Sicily.

4.2 The Route to Outremer

Start Crusading. Build a Chapter House in Venice or Naples, and preach the 
Crusade to Antioch. Take into account that you are competing with the French in 
the Crusading business, and that they have the goal of building a Citadel in 
Antioch, so be warned. Also take into account that a Crusade army, powerful it 
may be, cannot succeed all alone. You have to escort it with a couple of strong 
national armies. The advantage is that, not only your brave crusaders will form 
an army of your own but also the province will be added to your territories. 
This is the basis of your Mediterranean empire. The Crusader Army can pass 
freely through foreign territories, if allowed to do so, but your escorting 
national army cannot. The trick is to send a seaborne supporting operation, but 
you need at least the neutrality of the Byzantines, for a single enemy ship can 
disrupt your ferry route (later in the game, I was able to whack the Greeks out 
of the seas in half a dozen years, but early in the game it would have been all 
but impossible). While you set foot in Antioch, preach another Crusade to be 
sent to Edessa while it is still controlled by a Muslim nation; I was late, and 
my allies the Byzantines already occupied it; I could not afford war against 
them, so I let it pass. You should also take Lesser Armenia to the Muslims 
before the Greeks do it, for it is considered part of Byzantium's homelands, and 
you shall deny them valuable points. A third Crusade should be launched in quick 
succession to Palestine. I made the mistake of taking Palestine with a national 
army, losing valuable points. I recommend fighting any battle fought with Allied 
troops using the automated system; allied troops are uncontrollable and the 
numerical advantage melts very quickly. By fighting manually you could let your 
ally bore the brunt of the fighting and cut your own losses, but more often than 
not your ally will be routed and your own troops will follow! Expand westward 
along the coast until you meet the Almohads; refrain to attack them until you 
have taken out of the game both the Turks and the Egyptians.
Rest and consolidate, making profit of the well-developed areas you have just 
taken. You should be able to raise Militia Sergeants, Mounted and Foot 
Crossbowmen and possibly Feudal and Mounted Sergeants in most of your 

4.3 The Italian Lake

Now you face several choices. Almohads should be rampaging through Europe, and 
the French should have engaged in a foolish war against Germans and probably the 
English. Mount your trade routes. Entering the Black Sea is extremely profitable, 
but the Byzantines are very sensitive to ships going up and down the Straits. If 
you manage to remain in peace with everybody, your trade profit will increment 
dramatically, which is good, let alone because the next goal which the machine 
will make you attempt will read "Control more trade profit than any other 
faction". Problem is that the AI will have someone attack you soon. You can 
parry that to some extent saving and reloading, making dissuasive shows of force 
on the borders and perhaps retiring ships from hot areas. Even if you keep this 
policy, sooner or later the French will attack you, possibly in Venice, whether 
they can win or not. It does not matter they lose, for your trade will be 
spoiled anyway. Another possibility is that the Byzantines start a naval war. In 
this case, if you are prepared you could sweep them out of the seas in a few 
years. But your trade profit will nevertheless be spoiled. It is very tempting 
making alliance with the Almohads, which are powerful, trade-inclined and loyal 
allies indeed. In this case, they will sweep the French and reach Scotland! Then 
they will attack you, and you'll be lost.
In my case, I preferred parrying the French into not attacking me in Venice, and 
facing the Byzantines at sea. As my own trade diminished, I attacked the 
Almohads in Africa to spoil theirs, and ease the pressure against the French. 
They become my allies immediately, and we conducted several joint operations 
against the Almohads. I thrice sent a relief force that lifted the siege in 
Burgundy to their profit, which indeed cemented the alliance, and took Provence 
and Toulouse from the Almohads at a later date. Several Jihads against Italian-
held Cyrenaica (a historical necessity? But my Italians were fighting in the 
wrong direction! -another internal joke-) were repulsed, and the French launched 
a Crusade against Aragon.  I sent an escort army to Aragon and when the Crusade 
succeeded, the province was left under my rule! So, when the French invaded 
Castile I sent a supporting force that timely retired leaving the province under 
theirs. By that time, Italian forces were pushing through Portugal to Leon. 
Morocco, Cordoba and Granada had already been occupied; they were extremely 
developed territories, which made profitable conquests. By the way, an Almohad 
goal is building a citadel in Granada, so anything you could do to prevent that 
is profitable; outflanking them with sea borne operations is risky but pays 
handsomely. But commerce never recovered, until I managed to set a trade route 
around Spain to Flanders (perhaps the richest county in the game).

4.4 European Power Politics

In the late game, around AD 1300, I could not prevent the French from attacking 
me. Following a strictly defensive strategy and performing some surgical strikes 
I dodged the Pope excommunication: you must launch a one-year campaign, take 
some territories and stop operations when the Pope warns you. I came out holding 
Flanders and most of England. The French kept sending Crusades through my 
territories; to prevent them enlisting my best troops I cleared them of the way. 
In the end, the failure of the Crusades brought the French kings' influence so 
low that rebellions sparkled everywhere. You can take a rebel territory without 
consequence from the Pope, but it may be more convenient to keep a neutral rebel 
leader trading with you! When you are doing well the AI goes really mad: the 
Pope attacked me in Tuscany with a rather contemptible army, and would 
excommunicate me as soon as I retaliated, so I kept a defensive strategy and 
offered him cease fire on a yearly basis, but he kept refusing it. Trade 
suffered, and I was out of money often: I licensed all peasants, most early 
spearmen and militias and most mercenary troops, even resorting to destroy 
useless buildings, until the Pope himself offered a ceasefire, which I accepted, 
and income began to slowly rise. When you reach a total of 60 % of Europe 
conquered, the machine offers you to claim a "lesser victory", but I refused, 
and go on playing, bagging points for fulfilled objectives. Be careful, for the 
machine quite suddenly requests you "building a Cathedral in Tuscany". Now, a 
Cathedral is a complex building, not to mention its cost! If you had not been 
developing Tuscany at a good pace (just like me!) it will be probably too late, 
so be warned.

4.5 Renaissance ruler

As I said above, anything can happen at this stage, so all this is mainly 
illustrative. At around 1400, you'll find that your field army is quite 
different from what it was twenty or thirty years ago. In fact, it will be quite 
un-medieval. My main field army was more akin to a Seven Years War one than to 
its trusty predecessor: formed around pike-armed Foot supported by harquebusiers 
and field artillery, with a few man-at-arms as the cavalry component. Of course, 
"provincial" armies remain truly medieval all the way - and doing most of the 
fight, for your most modern armies will spend their time as dissuasive factors 
facing the bigger powers in an "armed peace" fashion. You'll probably die for 
trying your "New Model Army" against a worthy foe, but doing that and avoiding 
either Papal excommunications, an abrupt fall in income due to canceling trade, 
and multiple rebellions sparkling everywhere for no reason (yes, the AI cheats 
and sends you huge masses of discontented folk where Loyalty level still reads 
"200" if you launch a too successful offensive campaign) will probably prove too 
much a task. My options were staying quiet and wait for the end of an already 
won game, or making huge savings and wage a war against the Orthodox Novgorod 
people, facing a drop of income. The goal of "Biggest trade income" pays points 
again in 1453, so, if your  follow the first alternative, you'll have a good 
chance of getting them. Upgrade all your Merchant Houses to the maximum possible, 
and just wait. If rebellions break in enemy's territories and successfully 
establish Rebel rulers, take the chance to conquest them only if they are not 
willing to trade with you. Sometimes, attacking a Rebel territory automatically 
sets all the others to "enemy" status, potentially spoiling trade. Sometimes 
Rebel territories acquire official "independent kingdom" status. In my game, 
Burgundians and Swiss managed to be officially recognized as such.

4.5 Ending the Campaign

There were no surprises to the end of the campaign. I eliminated successfully 
both the Burgundians and the Swiss; the former by assassinating both the ruler 
and his heir, and conquering the hapless rebel provinces. The Swiss were 
conquered in a formal military campaign; the Pope did not bother about them. At 
around 1448, the French attacked me suddenly in Flanders, held by a small 
garrison army; theirs was also an army of sorts, and I managed to stave them off. 
That was the last event of the campaign.

5. Final words

At the end of the campaign, a pretty picture appears showing your ruler in his 
throne room, attended by his Court, and a legend informs you that, however some 
of your rivals still exist, yours is the glory of victory. It is, really, more 
rewarding than the extremely discreet message showing up in Shogun. After that, 
titles are run over some most artistic pencil sketches of typical different 
characters of the game. Well, that's it. Replayability? In theory, the game has 
a wide replayability, but sincerely I think you will most probably feel full of 
it for a while. Enjoy the game, take the chance to read a little History and 
good luck!