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Mercenaries and Masters is the first scenario of the reworked Sforza campaign in Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition. Historically, it's a reference to the Sforza's campaign of 1426-1427.

Intro[]

So, you want to know about Sforza? I will tell you about Francesco Sforza.

Sforza was like me. We were condottieri - 'contract men.' When the Italian princes were too rich or too cowardly to get their hands dirty, they paid us.

We fought because they paid us to fight. We stole because they paid us to steal. And when they did not pay, we made sure someone did. We sold ourselves to the highest bidder, and if another prince came with a bigger purse, we did not hesitate to change sides. Honor was cheaper than silver, but for Sforza...

Sforza was different. He was in it for his own glory.

That is why he took the Visconti contract. He wanted to make a name for himself - to be more than the bastard son of a dead mercenary. He needed a patron: an ambitious prince with many enemies and more gold than friends. Filippo Visconti, the Duke of Milan, was the obvious choice.

Visconti had all the ambitions of Caesar, but none of the courage. He was craven and paranoid, but at least he paid - well, most of the time. And whether his ambitions meant war with Florence or with Venice, Visconti always needed contract men. That is why he hired condottieri like Sforza and Niccolo Piccinino - hungry men looking to make a name for themselves.

Scenario instructions[]

Starting conditions[]

Differences between difficulty levels[]

  • On Standard, there will be less Venetians soldiers preventing the player's escape from Brescia, and the player also starts with Conscription researched.

Objectives[]

  • Escape Brescia.
  • (subsequently) Destroy the Venetians in Brescia.

Hints[]

  1. You are restricted to a population limit of 200.
  2. Sforza's men are mercenaries and consider construction and resource gathering beneath them. You can only rely on payments from Visconti and your existing camp.
  3. Do not try to fight the Venetians with Micheletto's small force. You only need to make it outside the city gates.
  4. Piccinino is your ally. It would be wise to join him in his attacks, and to protect him when he is attacked.

Scouts[]

  • The Venetians have conquered Brescia, a Lombard city once ruled by Visconti. The Duke of Milan has sent Sforza and Piccinino to retake the city by eliminating the Venetian army.
  • The Venetians have hired a condottiero named Carmagnola (Yellow). It is not necessary to defeat him, but his Condottieri, Cavaliers, and Hand Cannoneers are a potent threat.
  • The Florentines (Orange) are in league with the Venetians against Visconti. They are proud republicans who are hesitant to give power to mercenaries. Instead, their armies consist of infantry, archers, and siege raised from their own citizens.

Players[]

Player[]

The player starts with three Cavaliers, three Hand Cannoneers, and three Condottieri. The goal is to run outside of Brescia with one of the troops without being killed by the Venetian army. After the player is out of the city, they will be in control of a mercenary camp at the southern edge of the map.

Allies[]

  • Visconti (Italians) - Not an active player, he is the employer of Piccinino and Sforza. He will send the player resources to recruit an army.
  • Piccinino (Italians) - Ally and rival of Sforza, he controls a camp in the middle of the map. He will attack mainly with Condottieri and Cavaliers.
  • Brescia (Italians) - Not an active player. The city the player begins in. The goal is to free her from the Venetians, by killing all the enemy soldiers inside the walls.

Neutral[]

  • Lombardy (Italians) - Not an active player. Little village with Villagers scattered around the map. The player can loot the two Markets for resources.

Enemy[]

  • Carmagnola (Italians) - The main enemy, a rival mercenary captain. He will send Hand Cannoneers, Cavaliers, and Condottieri against the player. His camp is at the eastern corner of the map.
  • Florentines (Italians) - The secondary enemy, who will mainly fight Piccinino. They train Champions, Pikemen, and Arbalesters, and occasionally siege weapons. Their base is in the west of the map.
  • Venetians (Portuguese) - The main target, inside the walls of Brescia. They defend the city with guards towers, Genoese Crossbowmen, and Condottieri.

Strategy[]

The first part of the scenario is to escape Brescia. The Hand Cannoneers can be left aside, they are too slow and will die easily. Speed is the key; just take the Cavaliers and Condottieri. The primary source of resources is tributes from Visconti every 5 minutes, but once in a while (every 18 minutes), he will refuse to provide them. Destroying Lombard Markets provides additional resources. Do NOT destroy Monasteries as the player will lose 1,000 food, 1,000 wood, 1,000 gold for each destroyed Monastery.

Once in control of the camp, concentrate on one enemy composition, like Cavaliers and Hand Cannoneers (the player starts with Chemistry researched) to deal with the Florentines. The destruction of the enemy camps is not necessary, but it is useful to be safe in the last fight against Brescia.

It may be wise to maintain a small garrison defending the player's base, as Carmagnola is prone to attack on occasion and the Watch Towers will not last much by themselves.

Brescia is not really well defended, they do not have a great variety of units (mainly just Condottieri and Genoese Crossbowmen), and once the player breaks the towers the city should be cleansed quickly.

Monks are much more useful than they seems in this scenario, especially on Hard difficulty. They can convert Lombardy Villagers, who cannot build anything except Siege Workshops (since the player starts with Chemistry researched, they can build Bombard Cannons), which is still better than fighting by sheer infantry and cavalry. After all, the Villagers can also be used to repair buildings and siege weapons. They also have a Stable southwest of Piccinino's camp. The player only has one Stable in the base, so converting this to train more cavalry is a must.

The player base has a Market, but they cannot train Trade Carts. However, there is still a way. Visconti has three Donkeys (three purple dots as seen on the map); the Monks can convert them and use them to trade with other Markets. While slow, this is the only way for the player to get more gold for expensive units, especially siege weapons, since there are absolutely no mines on the map.

Monks can also convert Lombardy Lumber Camps and Mills. Villagers in this scenario cannot build anything other than Siege Workshops, but the Mills still can toggle automatic reseeding. While they only reseed 4 actual Farms (as the rest are just map decorations), Visconti still often sends wood, enough to keep the player from running out of food should the fight go on for too long.

After defeating Carmagnola or Florentines, it is recommended to use Monks and convert their military buildings because Florentines have the only Siege Workshop on the map. Combined with Siege Workshops built by converted Villagers, the player can mass siege weapons to besiege the Venetians' defenses.

Alternative strategy[]

The fastest option to win this scenario is to slowly take out all Venetians troops in Brescia. One by one take out the groups of enemies in Brescia, most of the time by hit and run. Return to the castle to heal the troops and strike again. With this, the player can easily defeat all Venetian troops in Brescia and be victorious without ever having to leave Brescia (even though that is said to be the objective).

Outro[]

Visconti distrusted and hated us, but I do not blame him; his own brother was murdered by a condottiero on the steps of a church. Visconti saw Sforza's successes as a threat and plotted to have him killed.

But instead of running to safety, Sforza confronted the duke directly. To our surprise, Visconti was so impressed by this boldness that he dismissed the charges against Sforza and betrothed the soldier to his daughter Bianca. This made Sforza the duke's heir.

I will say this about Sforza: he was a scoundrel, but he was no coward. And his courage was always repaid.

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