The Republicans hated Sforza; the Milanese loved Sforza; Sforza joined with the Venetians to conquer Milan; the Milanese hated Venice; the Republicans were willing to make deals with Venice. The young man and I were plunged into the intricate world of Condottieri, and dukes, and republics, and new principalities. "So what did Sforza do? His life always has downs, but he finds a way up," the youth said.
Sforza had started life as a bastard son of a contract hound. He lost his father and had to grow up quickly to take control of his Brigata. Brigata Sforza was a shining star among the mercenary companies, but he was quickly tossed into jail for a single mishap. He had redeemed himself and gained the hand of the daughter of a duke, but was still an unclear heir. After conquering the duchy for the new heirs, the Golden Ambrosian Republic, he was cast out without a town to call his own.
"Indeed, a good observation. Sforza went to the Venetians for support and decided it was time to conquer Milan for himself. The Milanese did not blame Sforza, and instead grew in their hatred of the Republicans." These scholars and professors had made a grave mistake. Sforza began to take city after city with the dubious help of the Venetians. When he marched on Milan itself, the people would not view him as a conqueror, but a liberator.
This scenario is very challenging, because the player must first build up a defensive position while under constant attack, and then move out to control the countryside. Once this is done, the player must defeat a powerful and unexpected attack by a new faction, and then the city, the scenario and the campaign are won.
- Milanese Army (Italians) The Army of Milan has some outposts throughout the countryside, and the player can destroy these to limit the Army of Milan's attacks, but most of its unit producing structures are inside the City of Milan (Yellow) in the Northeast, which the player is not strong enough to take down without siege or a navy. Thus, the principal means of neutralizing the threat the Army of Milan is to accomplish the three objectives of 1) defeating Abbiategrasso (Red), the City of Milan's Ally to its immediate west, by destroying its Town Center, 2) taking over the Milanese Countryside's (gray) granaries in the Northeast and 3) destroying its Markets in the Southern corner. This will make the both City of Milan and the Army of Milan the player's allies.
- Abbiategrasso (Franks) As noted, the city of Abbiategrasso is allied with the City of Milan and will constantly attack the player with a never-ending stream of relatively weak troops. A well placed Castle or two can neutralize this threat. To permanently neutralize this faction, its Town Center must be destroyed. Then it will resign. This is one of the three initial objectives the player must meet. Hint: the player may not make siege weapons, but petards are available in the Castle for blowing up Gates and towers.
- Milan's Countryside (Italians) This faction mostly represents the economy of the city outside the walls. It has some scattered towers and economic buildings, including a Town Center, several Lumber Camps, and numerous Mills, and it has various military units protecting several villagers who are out gathering resources. As the player asserts control over the countryside and its resources to lay siege to the City behind its walls, the player will naturally eliminate the gray faction. Of particular note, the gray faction controls Markets in the south and granaries in the northeast, each guarded by some towers and military units, and the player must take these over.
Enemy > Ally
- City of Milan (Italians) The city of Milan has powerful, upgraded units such as Arbalests and Hand Cannoneers, but they mostly stay behind the walls of the city of Milan (in the Northeast) which are well fortified with Bombard Towers and other fortifications. They occasionally sally out to battle the player if the player's forces approach too close to the city, and sometimes appear further outside the walls to attack the player's base in the south along with the green and red forces. Once the player accomplishes the initial objectives set forth above, and the Venetians' backstabbing attack is defeated, the City of Milan will call for Sforza to enter the city and will become his ally.
Ally > Enemy
- Venetians (Byzantines) The scenario notes that the Venetians have been aiding Sforza in his campaign against Milan. They do not appear until the player accomplishes the initial objectives in the siege. At that time, they "betray" Sforza and launch an attack against him. This attack consists of several waves of combined arms, including considerable amount of siege weapons. A mobile force of cavalry that can quickly move to head off the various waves of the attack is advised. Once the attack is broken, Sforza may enter the city and he is made Duke by his supporters and the scenario and the campaign are won.
The player starts out in the southwestern sector of the map, surrounded on all sides. Milan (yellow) lies in the middle, with various allies (Milanese countryside - gray, and Abbiategrasso - red ) backing it up. The goal is not to siege Milan directly, but go after its supporters. The main threat initially is Abbiategrasso, who owns a city just west of Milan. Shortly after starting, the player will be given three Villagers.
The player will come under attack frequently, but they can find gold, stone, and other resources nearby. Setting up an initial defense (one Castle just north of the starting position on a hill, flanked by Guard Towers) will help hold off enemy attacks. The player should garrison their archers for added firepower, and build a Monastery to recruit Monks and convert a defense force to their cause.
It will be rough going for a while, as the player will have to consistently ring the town bell to call their Villagers in from attacks by green and Abbiategrasso. Green is untouchable (they are located in Milan itself), while red will send a steady stream of attacks. Fortunately Abbiategrasso stays in the Feudal Age throughout, so their troops are weak and easily convertible to the player's side.
After holding off dozens of attacks and building up the economy, it's time to strike. Abbiategrasso should be the first target. They are located north/northwest of the player's starting position, in the upper corner of the map. Milan has a lot of defenses in the area (Bombard Towers, Bombard Cannons towers, and lots of archers). Once the players destroy the Abbiategrasso enemy's Town Center, they'll surrender. They also have a relic, which should be stolen.
Once Abbiategrasso is destroyed, the player will get some messages talking about cutting off Milan. This is a three part objective. After destroying Abbiategrasso, the player have two smaller targets to destroy as well. There is a trade outpost (guarded by towers and soldiers) southeast of the player's starting position, and granaries (also guarded by towers) in the far northeast of the map. These are the next two priorities. Alternatively, the player can take these two out first, as doing so will grant regular food and wood tribute. To get the food tribute, the player must protect the three granaries, which convert to the player's side after the towers are destroyed. They provide a steady stream of tributes of 60 wood. To get a regular series of tributes of 60 wood, the player must build a Market in the same palisade enclosure where the Milanese countryside (gray) Markets are located. The player must decide whether that getting that income stream going by attacking the gray strongholds in the north and south first is worth postponing the attack on Abbiategrasso. Either way, Abbiategrasso is a much more irritating target, as gray will never attack.
The player should keep building their defenses, however. Once the remaining two targets are eliminated, thereby cutting off Milan, some important dialogue ensues. Venice betrays the player, and sends troops to their base. The player's forces should return immediately, making sure the Castles and Towers are garrisoned with Archers or Villagers to hold off the Venetian attacks.
After about 10 minutes of attacks, Milan will offer a truce, and ask Sforza to come to their Castle. The scenario and the campaign is now over.
Sforza was actually invited into the city by the starving people of Milan, and practically elected duke with Bianca Maria as his duchess. Sforza had not touched the Milanese countryside, and quickly rebuilt any accidentally destroyed farms. He immediately imprisoned the Republicans but, astonishingly, he eventually granted them amnesty. This mercenary who seemed to only love gold wrote the Peace of Lodi with Milan's old enemy, Florence. "So that is how a private person becomes a public man." I replied, "Yes. A bastard contract hound becomes the most powerful duke in Italy. So, my friend, what are you writing? And what is your name?" He replied, "I am making a book for princes on how to rule their kingdoms. And my name is Nicolo Machiavelli."
Before The African Kingdoms, the player can research Redemption to convert enemy's buildings, as a result, it is possible to create navy and Siege Weapons. Redemption is no longer available since The African Kingdoms.