Tactical Toys for Young Tyrants
By Bruce Duewer
Before I get to the theme of this article, I'd like to thank everyone
who has written me. I've been sending Manus updates to my original article
clarifying some points as the need became clear, and so you might want
to take another look at it
back in the Fall issue. Also, I'd like to share a tip from Neil Barr (remember
to read his
Mach article BTW):
If you want to clear your orders for expenses, an easy way to do it
is to use the "none" keyword. For example "e1: none" will remove expense
#1 from your orders. While this is covered in rules.machiavelli, most of
us missed it.
I'm assuming you all know basic tactics in standard- how to cut supports,
use convoys to your advantage, destroy annoying units, etc. With Machiavelli,
you've got a few more variables, and you can use them to your advantage.
And of course, there is spending, which while I discussed how to survive
at length in my last article, I didn't say much about how to do. I'll save
a discussion of spending tricks for my next article.
Garrisons are more useful that many give them credit for. Not only to be
used in assassinations as discussed last article, they are flexible for
a variety of tasks. On defense, they provide an uncutable support for action
in the provence around them. If your enemy is pushing you back, converting
some of your units to garrisons can slow him a lot. Even if he gets in
the provence, he doesn't get the city without a costly (time) siege. And
when you counterattack, the garrison can support your forces return. When
on offense, especially a grinding one, it is often useful to make garrisons
as you advance so you can pack units forward better. For logistics, garrisons
in anchored cities allow you to move units back and forth between fleet
and army form. Sometimes, this is the only way to get fleets into a critical
part of the board (or if you are Milan or Austria, to get fleets at all).
If you're assaulting an area from the sea, they can be used to make armies.
However, when you have the ability, it is often better to simply use them
to support convoyed armies across to the provence with the garrison in
it. Convoys are unit intensive to set up, so being able to guarantee a
successful landing is quite useful. Garrisons allow you to build in areas
in which you already have units; this benefit can greatly facilitate a
buildup of forces.
Another interesting role of garrisons is in the arena of finance. At
the start of the game there are a lot of autonomous garrisons. If you really
want to spend money early, they are only 9d to purchase. Garrisons in major
cities are twice as expensive to bribe as those in normal fortified cities,
and since they cannot be removed except be siege, a common tactic is to
leave a garrison in any major cities you acquire. This is especially
useful if you know people will be adjacent to the city in question often
(for example Florence).
The existence of garrisons force special consideration when you dislodge
units. Units can only retreat to garrison form if that is the only retreat
available. So if you don't want a player to get a chance to convert to
garrison, you want to leave another retreat route open. Famined provinces
work particularly well:). Of course, this works best when the attack is
unexpected- the player could always choose a conversion as their move instead
of waiting for retreats. But sometimes they need the unit to do a critical
support cut, or bounce some other move, so they can't afford to enter a
If you really want to prevent someone from converting to garrison,
either when they move or as retreat even when other paths are blocked,
you can put the city in rebellion. This is discussed further in the article
One more neat trick for garrisons. Fleets can't siege cities without
anchors. So if your opponent is coming at you with a lot of fleets and
you're outnumbered, you can still deny him the cities with garrisons.
Nice cities to defend with this trick are Modena, Lucca and Sienna.
Gone are the days when a fleet must be at sea to carry your armies from
place to place. Now you can use fleets on land to do this as well, subject
to certain restrictions (see my first article for these- but a basic summary
is that the armies and fleets have to stay coastal and contiguous).
Using the coasts as well as sea for carrying armies forward can greatly
enhance your ability to move units forward, as well as the length you can
move them. Since old habits sometimes die hard, you can often catch your
opponents by surprise with a well executed coastal convoy. If you're trying
to spread a beachhead up the coast, you can take advantage of the fact
that fleets doing a convoy can carry units even when attacked- as long
as they are not dislodged. So you don't need enough force both to take
the place you want to advance to, and move in behind to the fleet's location-
just enough to support in the fleet's location and to make your advance.
And your advanced unit as an army then has the option to move inland later,
whereas the fleet would still be stuck on the coast.
Everyone is allowed to own 1 special unit at any given time. Citizen's
Militia is twice as expensive to bribe; Mercenaries are twice as strong;
Elite Professionals have both advantages (but cost 9d, while the other
two only cost 6d). Choose the right tool for the job. If two units will
do the job better, buy two units instead of a special. If your opponent
has no ability to spend, then you don't need to worry about increasing
the expense of bribes- in such a case a Merc is much more cost effective
than a Professional.
So how do you use a double strength unit to best advantage?
Remember that if a double strength unit is attacked, it's support is
cut. All it's support. So using it as support is not as useful if your
opponent can cut support. Also remember, that on defense a city can be
protected by a garrison and a unit in the city the garrison is supported
for the same cost as a Merc- the only advantage of the Merc in such a situation
is that since you don't have a garrison in the city, it can't be changed
autonomous on you. Does this mean that an elite's best role is a
rampage behind enemy lines? Well, it can certainly cause a lot of chaos.
It takes several normal units to deal with such a rampage if one wants
to stop it- but if one just wants to keep the damage manageable, one can
just follow the elite around with a single normal unit. After all, the
elite can only take and hold two cities at once against this strategy unless
the terrain gives it a boost. [side note- 2 because it can turn and attack
the unit following it in the fall, so it owns where it launched the attack
from and the city the unit following it was sitting on. This ignores the
possibility of the follower anticipating and converting to a garrison,
but if it does and the Merc does not backtrack, it can get ahead and take
even more cities while the unit converts back].
There are two places a Merc truly shines. One is to make a breakthrough
in a constricted area where in standard it would be a stalemate- generally
this works best in areas heavy in provinces and/or non fortified cities.
The other is emergency defenses of home areas, especially corner ones.
I've been kept alive several times by dropping down a Merc or Professional
in places like Marseilles or Hungary. Your opponent can't root you
out without his own double strength unit, or an expensive bribe.
Next time: I finally get to spending.
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