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

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

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
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

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

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

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

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
, 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.

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

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.


Paintballing in Effingham, Surrey

As part of a stag do yesterday I had a go at paintballing at Effingham in Surry. There’s a £5 deposit which gets you equipment and a very small number of paintballs and then you have to buy extra ammunition at £6 per 100 pellets.

The place seems very well organised when you arrive, but it doesn’t always manage to be so. We found there were no lockers available and since we’d all travelled by train (Waterloo to Effingham Junction) their suggestion of ‘can you leave your bags in the car?’ didn’t help much. But they were very helpful in letting us store our bags in their equipment shed, although I wouldn’t expect to be so lucky next time as I think we were lucky with who we dealt with.

The first frustration, though, was in arriving at 12pm (as we had been told to) but not even getting to fire a shot until well after 1:30 due to lunch breaks. They were ‘running behind schedule’. Nobody’s perfect, but it was frustrating for us.

The paintballing sessions themselves were fun. I’d never been before so didn’t really know what to expect, so the first shower of paintballs is quite a surprise! You soon get used to it, though. As a group we made absolutely no attempt to organise ourselves into any kind of coherent team so it just tended to be 20 individuals against 20 other individuals. It’s only a game, and attack strategies seemed to much like ‘work’.

The marshals did fairly well at organising the three rounds of games (with two attempts at each round – one as attacker, one as defender). There was a ‘defend the president in the convoy’,’protect the missile’ and ‘occupy the inca temple’. All quite a good laugh. The only problem I had was after my goggles getting so covered in paint splashes in one round I couldn’t see anything the next.

Firing paintball guns is also not a particularly exact science. I had a good shot of the enemies ‘president’ in the first round (hey – I wonder if that phrase is going to trigger the CIA looking at my blog?) but at more than about 40 feet there’s no accuracy at all (probably a possible hit area of around 10 feet diameter) and often the paintballs don’t burst. And if they don’t burst, it doesn’t count. I was slightly disappointed with that, but then I suppose if they made them more powerful it would be a very dangerous game.

Paintballing injuries abound, though. They were very clear about the need for goggles, and the wound on my hand shows me that you really don’t want one anywhere near your eye so that was good advice. (Actually, it’s more than advice: it’s a hard and fast rule.) Everyone had some wounds somewhere and there are plenty of small red bruises on my legs today. Paintballing is certainly not for anyone who doesn’t mind a few minor aches the next day.
Paintballing injury

The walk from Effingham Junction station to the paintballing centre itself was a bit hazardous too – no footpaths, and it’s a good mile or so. Not much the paintballing centre can do about that, I imagine, but some wider verges would have made it a bit less hairy.

All in all, paintballing was a good day out, but I can’t say I’m itching to go again. Some other groups there were obviously real addicts but the whole fake war thing is not something I can get too excited about. Instead, I’ll just keep on being an armchair general in Medieval Total War and leave the paintballing for now.

Directions to Effingham, Surrey paintballing centre

‘One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ review, Gielgud Theatre, London

I went to see “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest” at the Gielgud Theatre,
with Christian Slater as McMurphy, the other night. It was extremely
good. The whole cast were excellent, the actress playing Nurse Ratchet
being the best of all; certainly topping Christian Slater, who was still
very convincing.

Having seen the film version a long time ago (at least 10 years) I
felt in a good position a) to know more-or-less what I was letting
myself in for, but b) not expecting a clone of Jack Nicholson, who
performed very well in the film. From memory, the play had a few more
light-hearted moments than the film yet still managed to convey an aura
of impending doom. There was only a single set with virtually no prop
changes at all and the action is perfectly contained within it.

Good points: the supporting cast, the complexity of all the

Bad point: the Indian didn’t look much like an Indian. In fact, I
thought he started to sound a bit like Tommy Cooper towards the end of
the play. (Although another of the party I was with leaned more towards

A review of “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest”

ScotAir flights from City Airport, London to Edinburgh

I had the opportunity to fly to Edinburgh on business yesterday and took
a ScotAirways flight from City Airport, London to Edinburgh.
City Airport itself is great: check-in is only half an hour before the
flight, security is always very efficient (although still the same
process as any other airport) and the airport staff are extremely
courteous. No doubt due to the business customers they’re used to
encountering. The downside is that almost all the flights are more expensive
than EasyJet (or whoever) from Stanstead, but the advantage of flying
from so close to the centre of London is worth it for me.

The ScotAirways flight itself was good, too. We were given a boiled
sweet on take-off and landing to stop the ears from popping and tea and
biscuits in-flight, as well as a newspaper. Although they did run out of
Evening Standards for the trip back, which is a gripe. The plane’s were
tiny (30 seats) and the flight takes slightly longer than in a larger
jet, but it’s still only an hour and twenty minutes for the journey so
that’s not exactly a big problem.

Unfortunately Edinburgh airport on the return journey is not quite so
slick. I imagine this is due to its greater use by tourists and for
international flights, but checking in 1 hour before departure is always
a pain.

All in all: City Airport is great!

Medieval Total War, another progress review

The Pope raised his ugly head again but luckily I was able to sort him out with sheer volume of troops. I have the advantage of a very large fleet occupying most of the meditteranean so I can ship troops into coastal regions very quickly.

War with the English has started with my invasion of their three French provinces at once. They didn’t stand a chance, and King Harold had nowhere to retreat to. Still, he can’t have been very popular as his ransom was refused and I ended up beheading him. Now that I’ve got the whole of France the borders are much easier to police. Also, the invasion of a few more provinces brought me a few handy florins so I can get to work improving some more regions.

I’m holding off a war in Spain at the moment. There are a lot of troops there and a few ships out to see which would hamper my troop movements. I’ve pushed a couple of Catholic bishops in there to see if I can start converting some people so that the invasion is better received, when it happens.

Medieval Total War

Progress review of Medieval, Total War

It’s been an action-packed couple of days. The Sicilians rose from the
ashes and I had to retreat to the castle and muster some more forces.
The whole thing ended in a massive battle between my spearmen and
archers and their heavily armoured knights. I had to keep my distance
and pepper them with arrows to get the numbers down. I’ve also
discovered that my King is a coward and runs away at the first sight of

I’ve finally gotten rid of the French, though, and the alliance with the
English is holding. Although they have a chunk of France that I really
have my eye on so I can’t see that lasting too long… The problem is
that attacking the English might provoke the Danes, but they don’t look
very strong. I think a few more turns of consolidating troops and making
sure there aren’t going to be any more provincial rebellions (I’m still
watching out for the Papacy again) and then I’ll have another war on my

Medieval, Total War

“Medieval, Total War” is the latest drain on my time. The PC game is fantastic. A quick rundown: take control of a medieval faction and try to conquer the whole of Europe. Gameplay is like a cross between Risk and Sim City for the strategic Europe-wide map part, and then you get to control your army on the battlefield. Note that as a general you don’t get to control the fight, only order the units. And they may not do what you expect them to…

The depth of the game is huge. As the Italians I was a Catholic faction, until I made the mistake of invading Hungary (more Catholics) and, after ignoring the Pope’s warnings, was excommunicated. England then cancelled their alliance because it conflicted with their alliance with Hungary, and Germany declared a crusade. So, I invaded Rome and put a puppet Pope in place and the excommunication was cancelled. A few years later the old Pope led a bit of a rebellion and I had a fight on my hand. At the same time the French decided to join and I’m in the midst of a full-on war with them, but at least I managed to marry a princess to the King of England and have a good alliance with them at least. (The English can always be counted on to do a bit of French-bashing ;-)). And that’s just a summary of a few evenings of play.
Now that “Rome, Total War” has come out you can pick up “Medieval, Total War” for about half the price of a new game and with the “Viking” extension pack. I haven’t even had time to open the box to see what that is yet.

The battlefield is excellent fun, too. I bought the game as I enjoyed the battles in “Shogun, Total War”. Controlling armies is quite tricky to start with, thought there are some basic tutorials. Getting to grips with the subtleties of troops takes a bit longer: peasants will turn tail and run at the first sign of anything, spearmen are good against cavalry, cavalry are best used to charge and then pull out etc. Taking a view of the landscape and placing your troops in the best positions also takes some thinking.

All in all: I’m finding this game absolutely fantastic.

Total War community
Activision’s Medieval, Total War website
By Medieval, Total War