by Bruce Duewer & Sergio Lidsell

This article is based on Bruce’s article: “Tactical Toys for Young Tyrants” and parts of “The Power of the Purse”. Both have been extensively rewritten, and both shortened and expanded. The article will discuss various Machiavelli specific features and give examples on how to put them to good use or if to avoid them. Notice that repeated mentions are made to buying and ducats. We will talk more about the power of the purse in the next installment.

Garrison basics

Garrisons are more useful than you may think. They may:

  • Provide uncuttable support to a unit in the surrounding province.
  • Slow an attacker down by a timely conversion into garrison.
  • Protect a city from rebellion if you go bankrupt (as discussed in Part V).
  • Be used to convert back and forth between army and fleet, which is useful for powers that begin with no fleets (you do that in anchored cities as mentioned in Part I). And sometimes this may be the only way to get fleets into a critical part of the board.
  • Be used to garrison vulnerable cities like Florence and Milan. Do notice that a citizen’s militia garrison in Venice will almost always ensure Venice survives the whole game as it cannot be besieged and will cost at least 36 ducats to convert to autonomous.
  • Protect un-anchored cities in coastal provinces (like Modena and Lucca) from fleets.
  • May be useful in the end game when all cities count for the win.

At the beginning of the game, there are many autonomous garrisons that you can disband for 6 ducats or buy for 9 to quicken your advance or to make fast gains. The power having the most to gain with this tactic is, in my opinion, Milan, as shown in the examples below.

  • Example 1: Milan moves Pavia to Montferrat in S1454. In U1454 Milan disbands the autonomous garrison by paying 12 ducats and gains control of the Genoese variable income by moving Montferrat to Genoa. This is a good way for Milan to quickly boost income and a quickly repaid expense with the first Genoese variable income. (The only other power that can do the same is Florence buy moving Pisa to EGL.)

  • Example 2: Milan has bought the garrison in Genoa for 18 ducats. But instead of keeping in garrison, Milan converts it to a fleet and is able to perhaps gain a foothold in the Mediterranean. Beware though that the sea is very crowded with Neapolitan, Florentine, French and “Turkish” fleets all staking their claims in the area. And at this point you should ask yourself: is it worth the risk? This move costs a bundle and you run a risk of running into debt hell and suddenly see the wolves start to encircle you. Apart from probably making enemies of all the maritime powers in the west.

  • Example 3: In this case Milan does not only buy G Genoa but also G Savoy and converts both to fleets. This is a very aggressive and costly move. You’ll most likely bankrupt and never be able to reap any benefits from it.

Two other powers, Turkey and Florence may also quickly field an additional fleet by buying Piombino or Ragusa. Florence can certainly afford this, but Turkey should be more careful as it is a poor power.

Otherwise it is more common to begin the game besieging or disbanding a garrison.

Garrisons and retreats

The existence of garrisons force special consideration when you dislodge or try to eliminate units in Classic Machiavelli. In classic units can only retreat to garrison if that is the only retreat available. So if you don't want to give a player a chance to convert to garrison, you may wish to leave a retreat route open. Famined provinces obviously work very well . In the 1995 edition, a power is always allowed to retreat into garrison.

The main problem with this is that it works best when the attack is unexpected, as the skilled player otherwise may choose to order a conversion to garrison. 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 for some reason you absolutely do not want the unit to convert to garrison you may of course cause rebellion in the city (this topic is discussed in depth in part VII). This is a bit costly, but is very useful if it is the opponent’s last city and you wish a quick elimination to get you the win.

Garrison potshots

You can really ruin another players day by converting a garrison to autonomous. If you are lucky you may even eliminate a power this way. But even better it is a cheap way to stop another power from conquering a home country.

Say that France has gained Pavia and Cremona and is besieging Milan and on the cusp of gaining the Milan home country. As France is aware that you want to stop him from doing that he’s garrisoned Cremona to be sure you do not grab the province. Instead, bam! You convert the garrison to autonomous and gain valuable time to move more units to the front.

Another time when it can be a real drag is after having been assassinated by the bankers because you went bankrupt. As you managed to plan this, you garrisoned as many cities as you could. Say that you’re Milan and managed to garrison Pavia, Cremona and Milan and are just cheering yourself that you’ll make a quick recovery when, bam! Austria, who cannot afford to buy the garrison, does instead convert it to autonomous and proceeds to attack you, while you are still converting the other garrisons back to armies. You thought you were safe, as you did not think Austria had enough money to dare attack you…

Coastal Convoys

In Classic Machiavelli fleets need not be at sea to convoy armies (notice that this can be turned off on the nJudges). A fleet in a costal province may convoy just as well. Using the coasts as well as the sea for carrying armies 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.

Special Units

A power is allowed to own exactly 1 special unit at any given time. These can be one of:

  • Citizens' Militia: twice as expensive to bribe, and cost 6 ducats to maintain.
  • Mercenaries: twice as strong, and cost 6 ducats to maintain.
  • Elite Professionals: twice as strong as well as twice as expensive to bribe. Cost 9 ducats to maintain.

Special units may be fun and great as a spearhead, but do always consider that for 6 ducats you can get two ordinary units, and for 9d you get three! And many a time that may be the better choice. What you definitively should not do is to buy a special unit if you are severely outnumbered. Because unless you do it to defend your last city, you’ll just invite your enemy to overrun you.

So how then, do you use a double strength unit to your best advantage?

Begin by remembering that if a double strength unit is attacked, all it's support is cut. So using it as support is not very useful if your opponent can cut its support. Do also remember that a besieged garrison, whose city's siege started during the previous campaign, may not convert regardless of strength.

A good use of a double strength army is to protect a province with an ordinary city as it costs more to disband/buy an army than turning a garrison autonomous. But where double strength and/or double bribe cost units really shine, is in their use to protect major cities or to survive in some corner area.

Venice is the classical example. And it is worth repeating that a citizen’s militia garrison in Venice cannot be besieged, and that the unit is self-sustaining as Venice’s minimum income in this case is 6 ducats. It is also very costly to disband/buy.

An elite mercenary on the other hand is useful to protect corner areas. Hungary will, for example, be able to survive for a while this way, unless the attacker has lots of money or a double strength elite to pitch in. But do notice that a player only controlling the Austrian income cannot self-sustain the unit.

Tunis and Marseilles are tougher nuts to crack. If the owners combine a special unit and a garrison, the area can never be won by any other power. In this case, only a bribe or attrition will settle the matter. The problem is that neither France nor Turkey can afford to maintain two units costing 9 ducats for long, and will have to borrow. But that may give you enough time to survive until game end or to be part of a draw.

Otherwise a special unit could be used to slow an attacker down or by forcing the attacker to spend to get rid of it. They are also useful for tying up enemy units in defense.

Does this mean that an elite's best role is a rampage behind enemy lines? Well, it can certainly cause a lot of problems that way. If you cannot afford to field enough units to block it or to hunt it down and destroy it, the best solution is to just follow the elite around with a single normal unit. That way it can at most grab two provinces if it turns around and attacks you.The really big risk with a rampaging unit is that you forget to protect your home cities and suddenly end up eliminated, or that a winning position is lost as your city count is lowered.

The double line defense or near-stalemates in Machiavelli

Yes, we have repeatedly said that stalemates are not possible in Advanced Machiavelli due to bribes and special units. But there is a way to come close in a game with few remaining powers, and that is the double defensive line.

What is it then? It is a situation where you have units placed in two parallel rows of areas. It is pretty rare although I (Sergio) have once (!) played in game where we ended up in this configuration (when I played the endgame as part of a southern alliance defending against a northern one on an evenly split board). It does also require that only adjacent bribes are allowed (see part VII for more on that). If non-adjacent bribes are allowed you just buy a unit in the rear and go rampage.

The units were set up like this: A Lucca and A Bologna backed by A Romagna and A Florence, which cannot be broken through (assuming no fleets) unless a bribe is used. To protect from the bribe you add A Pisa and A Pistoia. Add A Dalmatia and A Bosnia and fleets in UAS, LAS and Ancona and it gets pretty impregnable. Why F Ancona and armies in Dalmatia you may ask? Because that way if fleet UAS is bought it cannot move anywhere (well except Istria). Chuck in a couple of fleets in the west and the game will bog down in what more or less amounts to a dynamic stalemate, where both sides buy units to attempt to break through. I may add that none of the powers thought about this before we realized, after a couple of rounds of bribes, that we had for all purposes stalemated.

Bruce Duewer
or Sergio Lidsell

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