After the wars with Venice, Visconti made sure he got his gold's worth out of us. He sent Sforza south to enforce the duke's claims in Romagna. I think the duke was having second thoughts about Sforza - after we left, Piccinino and his men followed us.
Sforza could see through the plot. Although he was betrothed to the duke's daughter, he knew Visconti was fickle. He also knew that being a landless condottiero was a risky proposition. Sforza needed to be his own man and have his own land - a refuge if the machinations of his employers turned against him; or if they demanded justice for Sforza's own treachery.
What better opportunity than to use Visconti's weapons and money to his own benefit by making himself ruler of a city?
- Starting Age: Feudal Age
- Starting resources:
- Population limit: 200
Differences between difficulty levels
- On Standard, a Monk will be respawned (only once) if the player loses the starting Monk before reaching Castle Age. If the player is low on resources and troops, there will be a resources tribute from the city of Ancona.
- On Moderate and Hard, there are more soldiers defending Pesaro, Rimini, and Ravenna. Piccinino will start with more soldiers and warships.
- Destroy Piccinino's military buildings.
- (secondary) Bring the Relic to Monasteries to capture cities.
- You are restricted to a population limit of 200.
- You cannot construct buildings, but will receive resources and advance in ages as you conquer enemy cities.
- Garrisoning the Relic in the Monasteries of Pesaro, Rimini and Ravenna will give you control of those cities.
- Be careful with your Monk. You cannot afford to lose him before you reach the Castle Age.
- There are often less costly ways to break into a city than tearing down its gate.
- The wars have produced a glut of unemployed mercenaries waiting to be hired in the villages of the south and along the coast. The young captain Sigismondo Malatesta is among them.
- Sforza has taken the town of Ancona but Piccinino (Red) controls the city of Forli, which he has garrisoned with Condottieri, Cavaliers, and Hand Cannoneers. Sforza will need to increase his power along the coast in order to defeat his rival.
- The cities of Pesaro, Rimini, and Ravenna can be conquered by bringing a holy Relic to each city's Monastery. Pesaro (Purple) is garrisoned with Arbalesters, Rimini (Cyan) with Light Cavalry and Pikemen, and Ravenna (Green) with Cavaliers and Champions.
- Player (Italians): The player has control of the city of Ancona at the south-east of the map.
- The Romagnol (Italians) - Not an active player. Represent the Italian village of the region, as well as a handful of mercenaries that will join Sforza when he approaches. Among them is Malatesta, a potent hero unit.
Neutral → Allies
- Pesaro (Italians) - The first city, just north of the player's starting position.
- Rimini (Italians) - The second city, more defended than Pesaro, and with sea defence.
- Ravenna (Italians) - The third city, defended by an army of Cavaliers.
- Piccinino (Italians) - The main enemy. Have different camps across the map, and a well defended city in the west of the map.
Put the Monk/Relic along with one unit (to soak damage while the Monk delivers the Relic) in a Transport Ship, and drop them by Pesaro's Monastery to take over the first base. When Pesaro is taken, the player will have Castle Age researched. From there, build a few boats (two Fire Ships should work) and lure the Rimini Fire Ship out of its bay to the player's new Watch Tower. Once it is dead, send the three ships in with the transport last, and drop the Monk with a few units on their shore to take the second monastery/base. While doing this, send the three starting cavalry units to collect the unclaimed units on the map, as seen in the map picture. Taking Rimini would upgrade the player to Imperial Age. Every taken city will give a trickle of resources to the player every 7 seconds.
Construct a few Trebuchets and destroy the enemy Barracks from the safety of the new base. This will "kick the hornets nest" and they will attack the player, but behind the walls the player should win handily. Without their production buildings, they should fall easily, and the player can send units north to collect those final unclaimed units. The Piccinino Navy will destroy a house or two, but once they get within range of the Castle their assault will break while the player destroys the rest of their production facilities.
From here, send the military to the back entrance of the Ravenna base, and destroy the gate before sending the units in to wipe their military so that the player can claim the third base with the Relic. By destroying the back on the way in, the player will be better able to defend should Piccinino attack (although at this point the player is the one on the offensive). Once all three bases are claimed, put the Relic back into a Monastery and amass an army. At this point, the player should have around 4 Trebuchets. Sink the rest of the resources into units and a few upgrades, although the player should have a fairly large army already.
By simply defending the Trebuchets, the player can easily take the exposed southern base, and then begin the siege of their more fortified main base.
Sforza and Piccinino were like two alley dogs fighting over a scrap of meat. They were natural rivals, precisely because they were so alike.
Of the two, Sforza had a certain pedigree; if you could call being the bastard of a mercenary captain 'pedigree.' From his father, Sforza inherited his furbizia - cunning - and used it to get the best of his rivals, his patrons, and his women alike.
Piccinino, the son of a butcher, came into the profession as a soldier. He rose through the ranks and became an advisor to a trusting yet incompetent condottiero. In this position, Piccinino lured his captain into an ambush and took command of the company.
That Sforza and Piccinino would, years later, become blood enemies was as inevitable as two dogs fighting over a single piece of meat.