Milan was prepared for the siege. Bronze cannons lined the walls and a vast militia was trained. Even the hoarding merchants sold their possessions to arm the mercenaries of the Piccinino brothers. Milan sent emissaries to convince the Duke of Savoy that Sforza would threaten all of Italy. Thousands of Savoyard troops marched against Sforza.
But battles are not only won on the field with men and horses - they can also be won in a dark tent over a barrel of wine. In one such tent, Sforza met with Malatesta, now commander of the Venetian troops.
Malatesta listened as Sforza ranted furiously of Milan's treachery. He knew that Sforza was not angry that the Republic had betrayed him, as much as that it had done so before Sforza could betray the Republic.
But Sforza offered an opportunity for Malatesta and his Venetian employers. While Sforza hurled his men and his riches against Milan's walls, the Venetians would be free to conquer the rest of northern Italy. Malatesta agreed to help Sforza, but, as always, alliance and treachery between condottieri were only opposite sides of the same coin.
- Starting Age: Imperial Age
- Starting resources: 5,000 food, 5,000 wood, 5,000 gold, 0 stone
- Population limit: 200
Differences between difficulty levels
- On Standard, Milan will have less towers inside and outside its walls.
- Destroy Milan's Castle and build a new Castle over the ruins.
- Defeat Milan.
- Defeat the Savoyards.
- (subsequently) Defeat the Venetians.
- (secondary) Build five towers in the Venetian base.
- You are restricted to a population limit of 200.
- You are rich in resources, but so are your enemies. Build your defenses quickly or you will be overrun.
- Milan relies on an economy outside its city walls. If this is disrupted, unit production in the city will grind to a halt.
- Malatesta is a condottiero like Sforza: he does nothing for free. But if you do as he asks, he will be a powerful ally.
- Building your own Castle over the ruins of Milan's will give you control of the surviving buildings of the city. The garrison and any remaining forces outside the city will continue to resist you, however.
- Sforza is camped in Roman ruins near Milan, the city of both his desire and his vengeance. He is aided by his old friend Malatesta who commands a Venetian force (Cyan).
- The Milanese (Red) are led by the Piccinino brothers, responsible for robbing Sforza of Brescia. They have sworn to defeat Sforza in memory of their dead father and will train a diverse army to counter Sforza's tactics. Milan's dense defenses are supported by farms and mines outside the city walls.
- The Savoyards (Green) wish to dominate Milan, but will need to defeat Sforza first. They have just arrived in the region, but will build quickly. They are known for their powerful Paladins and abundant Castles and towers.
- Player (Italians) - The player starts with only a few units but lots of resources.
Ally → Enemy
- Venetians (Portuguese) - The Venetians are ruled by Malatesta, who is initially allied with the player but, anticipating an eventual betrayal from Sforza, will become an enemy as soon as the player either defeats the Savoyards or destroys Milan's Castle. They will resign when their Castle is destroyed.
- Milan (Italians) - Milan is ruled by Piccinino's sons who, like their father, like taunting Sforza. They train a diverse army which includes Bombard Cannons and will resign when their Castle and their three Town Centers are destroyed.
- Savoyards (Franks) - The strongest enemy and the biggest threat to both the player and the Venetians. They train Monks, Paladins, and Trebuchets.
At the beginning of the scenario, the Venetians will tribute the player 2,000 stone. Immediately build a Monastery and train a Monk that can go fetch the two Relics nearby (one is to the north of the starting point, the other one is to the east).
The player has enough resources to play aggressively. Boom as fast as possible with several Town Centers; spread across the map and claim as many mines as possible. Destroying two Milanese Town Centers will make Milan lose 15,000 food, 15,000 wood, 15,000 gold, seriously compromising their military production, and destroying the third Town Center will make their military units lose HP, regardless of whether they are fighting, until they die. Once the three Town Centers are destroyed, Milan is mostly defeated. Using the mobility of Cavaliers or Condottieri is the best way to quickly destroy the Town Centers.
Then bring Trebuchets to destroy the Milanese Castle (which will make Milan resign). By now Milan does not have units to fight back but the player should protect their Trebuchets in case the Savoyards come to the rescue, and since the Savoyards mostly train Paladins, using mass Pikemen and Genoese Crossbowmen is the best option. Once the player builds a Castle where the Milanese one stood, the player will claim whatever Milanese buildings are still present.
As soon as the player destroys the Milanese Castle (or the Savoyards are defeated), the Venetians will turn on the player. Plan accordingly: do not build the requested Towers. If the player does not build the requested Towers, the Venetians will almost be inactive. Instead, build a Castle right outside the Venetian base (building a Castle inside the Venetian base will trigger the betrayal prematurely), and a couple of Trebuchets ready to strike. Guard them with Genoese Crossbowmen. Once the Venetians switch to enemy, destroy their Castle with the Trebuchets and they will resign.
Note: If the player does not build the requested Towers and does not protect the Venetians against the Savoyards, they will most likely be defeated, thus sparing the player from fighting another enemy. However, the betrayal message from Malatesta and the new objective will still show up later when one of the betrayal conditions is fulfilled, immediately followed by Malatesta's defeat message.
To deal with the remaining Savoyards, and their main army force comprised of Paladins, mass Pikemen and Genoese Crossbowmen will do the job. Then use Trebuchets to level their numerous castles.
Alternative strategy 1
While the Savoyards will eventually become the strongest enemy, they start with a small and exposed base, meaning the player can use their starting resources to defeat them in the first ten minutes of the game. The key is to attack them before they manage to build a Castle or research the Paladin upgrade, which they do by the seven minute mark.
For this, build a second Barracks and train Condottieri from both Barracks. Set the gather point near the Gaia Monastery to the west of the Venetian base and research Blast Furnace and Plate Mail Armor at the Blacksmith. After the second Barracks is built, use the stone given by Malatesta to build a Castle (ignore his request to build towers at his base) and send a Trebuchet to the same gather point (to destroy the Venetian Castle after the betrayal). Since the player has lots of resources, they can also research Faith, which is useful against Savoyard Monks. By the five minute mark, the player should have a big enough army to attack the Savoyards. Being outnumbered, they will resign after the player destroys their Town Center and kills most of their Villagers.
With the Savoyards defeated, the Venetians betray the player. Use the Trebuchet to destroy their Castle, while the surviving Condottieri (which can be healed by the Missionaries) protect it. Since the player did not build the requested towers, the Venetians only have their starting units and will resign as soon as their Castle is destroyed.
Now only Milan is left. For this, the player does not have to worry about economy as they have enough resources to train more Condottieri until they have 60 and then destroy the three Milanese Town Centers. After that, kill their Villagers (the player can check the price of Spies to find how many enemy Villagers are left) and then use Trebuchets to destroy Milan's Castle. Milan will resign and the player will be victorious without needing to build a Castle in Milan.
Alternative strategy 2
This strategy takes advantage of the fact that at the beginning, the player has a lot of resources, while the enemies have very few Villagers. Hence, it is possible to research Spies right from the start.
The player should build a quick Castle and Market. Following that, unnecessary resources should be sold to obtain enough gold to research Spies. Subsequently, all the player needs to do is to boom, while building Stables, and then Knights (and their equivalents).
Once the above is done, the player will be able to see all incoming attacks from a long way off, and be able to react to them on time. From this point on, the player has the time and space to do whatever they wish to the enemy AIs.
Hunger and disease spread in the besieged city. The soldiers left the walls and turned their weapons inward - to the cloistered professors and lawyers who had promised them liberty, but at a great cost.
Is it better to be feared or loved? In that moment, Sforza was both.
Milan opened her gates and Sforza lavished the people with all of the grain - their own grain - that he had taken during the siege. The grateful, if foolish, people crowned Sforza - that treacherous, conniving, selfish bastard - Duke of Milan. It was not his final triumph, but it was his grandest.
That is the story of Sforza from one who fought with him - and against him. Do I wish ill upon him? No more than I would wish ill on the fox who raids the henhouse in the black of night. It does only what a fox does and cannot be blamed for it. I do not blame Sforza any more than I would blame myself.
After all, Sforza's blood is in me, for I am his cousin, Micheletto. Sforza is like me - we are condottieri. We are the contract men of Italy.
- If the player opens the scenario editor, they can check that there was an intended victory message, saying "Sforza has made us rich! We will be patrizio and never have to fight for a few coins again! Long live, Sforza, Duke of Milan! Viva Sforza!". However, as soon as the last enemy is defeated, the game declares the player victorious without playing that message.