Visconti's death left Milan in turmoil. Outlying towns rebelled and Venice threatened the city.
By way of marriage, Sforza held a better claim on Milan than anyone, but strangely, the ambitious captain did not take his dowry. He allowed the lawyers and professors of Milan to fashion a republic with all the trappings and corruption of the old Roman one. They called it the Golden Ambrosian Republic after Saint Ambrose, but there was nothing blessed or saintly about this republic.
Surrounded by enemies, the Republicans of Milan - more skilled at reading books than leading men in war - needed a captain to command the war against Venice. Sforza, by now employed by the Venetians along with his compatriots Malatesta and Micheletto, did not miss an opportunity to once again betray those who paid him - as well as those closest to him.
Rescinding his own claims on Milan, he agreed to serve the Republic against his own cousin Micheletto in exchange for control of the city of Brescia. The leaders of the Republic agreed, even though there were many rumblings that Sforza could not be trusted. After all, for a piece of land he was now marching against his own blood.
- Starting Age: Imperial Age
- Starting resources: 500 food, 500 wood, 500 gold, 500 stone
- Population limit: 200
- Destroy the Castle in Piacenza.
- Destroy the Castle in Caravaggio.
- Destroy the Venetian Castle in Lodi.
- You are restricted to a population limit of 200.
- Barricades block your way across the bridges. While destroying them will allow you to attack your enemies on land, your enemies will be able to attack you as well.
- Cremona can be reached by ship, but weigh the benefits of a second base with the need to defend two locations at once.
- Ancient Relics can be recovered from old shipwrecks along the river's banks.
- Sforza, now captain-general of the Ambrosian Republic, has reached the cities of the Po River Valley. He plans to conquer them for Milan in exchange for a fiefdom in Brescia.
- The Venetians (Cyan) are commanded by Sforza's cousin and erstwhile companion, Micheletto Attendolo. Micheletto prefers to field Cavaliers, Condottieri, Hand Cannoneers, and Organ Guns, but he will adjust his tactics to best counter Sforza.
- Piacenza (Green) and Caravaggio (Yellow) are cities in league with Venice. They will attack with a mix of unit types.
- Cremona (Grey) is a town friendly to Milan that will surrender to Sforza as soon as he dispatches men east to reach it.
- Player (Italians): The player starts in a spacey, but relatively resource-limited terrain on the western quarter of the map, equipped with somewhat basic Castle Age infrastructure, separated from their enemies by a river and a bridge blocked with barricades. The goal is to destroy all enemy Castles, each one placed in the center of their walled cities. The player can gain control of the city of Cremona by bringing units into its walls. While this makes Cremona a valuable stepping stone for the player, taking control of the city will expose it to enemy raids.
Allies, actually Neutral
- Cremona (Italians) - Not an active player, allied to the players' enemies. Holds a well-equipped base in the eastern corner of the map, crossing the river. The player can gain control of their base by bringing units into its walls.
- Lombardy (Italians) - Not an active player. Represents the local population. Insignificant for the gameplay.
- Piacenza (Italians) - The weakest enemy. They train Champions, Hand Cannoneers, Bombard Cannons, and Knights. Will amass a significant but not extremely large army. They also occasionally train Arbalesters. Their base is in southeast of the player, crossing a bridge.
- Venetians (Portuguese) - The second city, just east of the player. They defend the city with a pair of Bombard Towers, some Keeps, Knights, Arbalests, Organ Guns, Halberdiers, and Condottieri. The only enemy to train a navy in this scenario.
- Caravaggio (Italians) - The furthermost enemy, with a well-defended base in the northern corner of the map. Will train a sizeable army composed of Condottieri, Cavaliers, Hand Cannoneers, and occasional Bombard Cannons.
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There is a Relic across the river to the north at the edge of the map that the player should try to get early, and another near the optional secondary base that the player should get later after the move there. Be cautious building anything near the river, as the enemy navies won't stop attacking it.
Have the Villagers build a Town Center by the Berry Bushes, then have them collect food while the player create Villagers. Once the food supply is above what the player needs to keep making villagers, start sending them to cut wood. Remember, try to use the berries and pigs before farming. It can be useful to build a second and third Town Center in the north near the gold and south near the woodline, respectively.
When the player is able, create 5 archers and build a Watch Tower on the hill near the water to the north of the base. This strategic tower can occupy the enemy navy in the early game while the player builds a Monastery/Monk and Dock/Transport Ship to get the Relic immediately across the river. The Venetians will send an occasional Transport Ship to attack the player's base, but with a garrisoned Watch Tower or two, they shouldn't be a threat.
Next, a Castle on the hill at the far eastern corner of the starting island filled with archers can occupy the enemy navy indefinitely, while the player builds a few Trebuchets and prepare to take Piacenza (Green). Wall off the bridge before clearing the debris, and lay siege to the southern enemy - they surrender as soon as their Castle is destroyed.
Whenever the player pushes forward in this scenario, be sure to start mining to ensure that the player does not run out of gold. If Piacenza's Market is not destroyed, the player can trade with them for additional income.
From here, the player's Castle should still be occupying the remaining navy, and the occasional transport drop shouldn't be a big threat with a few Watch Towers. Wall off the next bridge, destroy the debris, and discover the second town as well as the second Relic. If needed, another Castle garrisoned with archers can protect the player from attacks while they build up an army and get to work on the remaining two enemies. Build more military production buildings before the attack, so that the player can bring in reinforcements. With these defenses, it's only a matter of time until the player wins.
The player should also be aware that, as mentioned in the Scouts, the enemies (not only Venetians) will adjust their tactics. This means that if the player masses cavalry and archers, they will start to produce Pikemen and Elite Skirmishers. So make sure to have a wide range of units to conquer the enemies.
A navy with some Cannon Galleons might be a good strategy for slowing down the Venetians, but the Castle and Watch Towers might be more than enough to defend the starting island. In addition, the player should be aware that none of the enemies' Castles are reachable by Cannon Galleons.
Though Milan grew stronger with Sforza's victories, the Republicans came to fear and hate him. They saw Sforza as a Caesar intending to topple their new republic. These bookish professors and lawyers listened intently to two agitators who had returned to Milan - two brothers with harsh words and a fierce vendetta against Sforza.
The sons of none other than Piccinino swore vengeance upon Sforza. They incited the Republicans to betray him by signing a secret truce with Brescia before Sforza could take that city. This, of course, angered the condottiero. He had agreed to serve the Republic only in exchange for the city.
Stifling the ambitions of a man like Sforza was a fatal mistake...