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 conversion order.
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 on expenses.
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.

Coastal Convoys

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.

Special Units

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.
Bruce Duewer

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