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    Italian Nation Guide by Finargil

    Updated: 02/10/03 | Search Guide | Bookmark Guide

    Italian Nation Guide or How to bring a nation of traders and seamen to rule 
    Medieval Europe
    Date: February 10th, 2003.
    Author: Finargil
    Contact: finargi@ciudad.com.ar
    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!

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