Medieval Total War, Italian tips

Okay, I've been playing far too much Medieval Total War lately. It's only my first campaign and I started playing as the Italians mainly because:

  • It didn't seem too hard, or too easy
  • Being English seemed to easy, and too obvious
  • I had delusions of being able to start my own in-game renaissance

So, having brought Italy from it's small beginnings to conquering most of Europe I have the following advice

Don't expand too quickly

I've made that mistake a couple of times. As well as being difficult to manage, your much more likely to have a rebellion occur when you're already overstretched. The artificial intelligence in Medieval Total War seems to keep an eye on how vulnerable you are and will spring a surprise on you (e.g. an old faction re-emerging) at the time you'd least like it to happen.

Occupy provinces for a few years with a large force before moving on

It takes a while for a region to settle down. It's tempting once you've 'broken through' to go on the rampage, but the provinces you leave behind will pretty soon revert to their old ways

Don't upset the Pope

In retrospect, I did upset the Pope far too early in the game by attacking the Hungarians. It meant he declared a crusade against me and then half the catholic world declared war. I think there is probably a better way to use religion within Total War than I have so far.

If you take over Rome, watch out for the Pope

If you do upset the Pope then the best thing to do is invade Rome and destroy the faction. That voids all excommunications and crusades. The problem is, every few years there'll be a really big rebellion usually involving about 1000 highly trained troops. The good thing about these is that the Pope usually makes a really bad general so the army is often easy to rout. Which brings me to:

If you have to fight a large force of knights...

...use plenty of missile power, and keep your troops in formation. It's much better in this situation to be defending, so as soon as you see an uprising fill the province with troops and try to fight it down in the same turn it attacks. That way you can just occupy a hill position and rain crossbow bolts and arrows down on the troops.

Don't chase routing troops

Unless you see the 'The Enemy is fleeing the field' message. Reinforcements may be over the hill and being caught out of formation is very bad.

Use the right troops

Spearmen or feudal seargants are very good against cavalry, as long as the cavalry don't attack from the flank. The Medieval world is very vicious...

Watch out for the Sicilians too

Despite invading and conquering Sicily there were a number of resurgences of the Sicilian or rebel factions.

Build a lot of ports and ships

As a Meditteranean nation, the Italians are often fighting on a coastal region. If you have a string of ships and a port at the start of the journey then you can move armies around the map almost instantly. This makes defending places like Rome and Sicily much easier. You should still keep large armies in these places, though, as a deterrent.

Build ports in places that have a tendency to rebel

This especially applies to Rome. It may be easy to push forces in from the Meditteranean, but when things hot up you need to redeploy them equally as quickly.

Build Royal Palaces

The Italians can train Royal Knights. These are excellent against lesser trained troops. Remember not to get them bogged down against spearmen especially, though. Charge in, then charge out. During a battle, keep them on the flanks so they can run outside the enemy and round the back.

Make the most of artillery when defending

It's not much use when you're attacking, but for defending a hilltop a couple of catapults can scare the shit out of most enemies. Medieval peasants especially generally won't be prepared for stones on their heads.

Occupy the seas

Very important for the Italians, and also good for trade. Try to maintain sea-going superiority. This gives tremendous flexibility when attacking somewhere such as Spain.

Establish an Eastern border with some good castles

I've stopped short of invading Poland so far and have some fairly big castles built up along the border. So far, this has put them off any idea of invasion

Only fight one war at a time

As with Don't expand too quickly, if there's too much going on then you'll be seen as an easy target. This can also be used to your advantage: weaken any of the other medieval factions and a rebellion may pop up. This is especially likely to happen if you manage to kill a faction leader.

Develop Italian Infantry

You need to be quite technically advanced in terms of castles and weaponry but Italian Infantry make very good fighters in virtually any battle situation.

Go for technology over fast growth

A well-trained force can often beat another army of double its size. My Italians have just fought off the Egyptians in a war with odds of 2-1. Remember, there's a limit on the number of soldiers on the field at any time with Medieval Total War so you don't need to fight them all of at once, just one wave at a time

Keep an eye on archers' ammo during battle

If you're fighting a large battle with reinforcements available then watch how your archers arrow stocks are going. If they're low and there's a lull in the fighting then withdraw them and call on the reinforcements.

Harass footsoldiers with mounted crossbowmen

Just watch out for any heavy cavalry around and get ready to withdraw them

Leave some regions underdeveloped

Not ideal, but it's better to spend the money wisely in one area than to spread it too thinly. Some provinces are really only any good for developing farmland. Tuscany, for example.

Concentrate on creating different warrior types in each province

E.g. Once an area is able to generate spearmen, try to make them better spearmen. The next province can be given the task of making archers (for instance) - give the region a speciality. This is especially useful where you want to build shipyards as galleys take so long to construct; there's no point in being able to build every kind of troop in one region if the throughput is low. Sometimes you may be under attack and need to build hundreds of troops very quickly

Spread the generals around

It's helpful to have a high (3 or more) star general near anywhere that might start a war. That said, it's also best to leave a provinces governor at his home. Go for a combination of dread and acumen in governors and leave the good generals free to fight the wars.

Merchants and trading posts are most effective in port regions

And almost worthless anywhere else.

Well, there you have it. The best collection of Medieval Total War tips I can manage from my experiences so far.

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