My go-to strat for Italians. Fairly powerful build but most importantly flexible/safe.
Compares well with a French semi FF but it also gives the option to go industrial or stay in the second age. I think Italians do (it) better in industrial or age2 compared to French so this strat should be atleast competitive in most MUs.
Age up times for reference (ideal situation):
- reach age2 at 4.35
- reach age3 at 7.45
- reach age4 at 10.45
Deck for the semi FI (might become the standard deck depending on the MU/how the meta evolves)
As we all know by now, Italians want to market to get extra vills from techs. The way I do that is:
- 3v on food crates to queue the first vill, then one starting vill collects the wood crate
- pay the market cost at 80w
- research the vill hp tech first unless there is a 50c treasure in base
- queue vills up to 10/10 (to overpop with the vill from market tech)
- second tech is either the vill damage tech or hunting dogs (depending if the explorer took any coin treasure yet)
- first vill from TC production hunts animals
- third tech is hunting dogs (if no coin treasure then sell 100f and get it)
- fourth tech is gang saw (more expensive than placer mines but needed in transition)
- generally no 5th market tech (so the age up is at 16v or less)
The architect builds market -> house -> TP -> back in base for houses (have an hotkey/ctrl group for him). If the TP is really really far then maybe this strat is not ideal for the map but if the TP is in a corner of the map the architect might as well just drop houses there (unless the opponent has a cav civ which is going to raid him).
First card is capitalism (coin trickle). Click on the Lombard+1v age up at 16/20 pop.
Transition to age2
Collect 75f then move all vills to chop wood. Get placer mines then steel traps (move couple vills on gold if needed to time it perfectly).
In order to not get housed, you have to buy buildings for a total amount of about 125w. It doesn’t matter which building, the sooner the better. Just time it with the market ups (which have priority). If your macro is perfect and the map allows for that you might get an extra TP passage if you buy the remaining cost of the TP.
Once you have bought that amount and you have 200w, move all vills to food and coin with the following allocation:
- 5v on coin, rest on food for a huss start (main build)
- 2-3v on coin, rest of food for musket start
- 8w on wood, rest on food for the rare case you want pavisiers or pikes
TC rally point is to food.
From here I’ll assume it is a hussar start.
Send the lombard+700 card, drop the lombard from the age up and build a stable with one vill (architect keeps building houses).
Queue hussars and drop the second lombard when the card arrives.
If the opponent is rushing/threatening something in age2 then send 700w and drop a rax (see the how to defend rushes section). Otherwise send 700g with the intention to age up. Usually this is a 5huss semi, but you can make more batches of huss if needed (just remember to buy houses or won't have the pop space).
Third card is the age1 fast age up card.
The most appealing age up options are 9(12) Pavisiers and the TC wagon (+300xp). For the semi FF I suggest the first one, while for the FI the latter. But feel free to experiment and consider also using the musketeer age up in some cases.
Transition to age3
Drop a rax once you got 200w from the lombard income.
If the plan is to stay in age3, speed up the construction of one or two houses to afford the pop space for the upcoming units. Then move about 9v on coin and rest on food. You will start making goons asap while waiting for 1k wood to upgrade/make more pavisiers.
If the plan is instead to go industrial then keep all vills on food (unless you expect immediate pressure in which case leaving couple vills on coin for minutemen is recommended).
For the industrial plan just collect the xp crates and send 1k coin. Drop the 2nd TC from the wagon close to the 2nd coin mine (rally point on the mine). Start producing vills from both TCs and decide which one is safer to use for the age up. Use the 3 falconet option or occasionally the 1k experience option if it suits the situation better.
For a semi FF strat send 1k wood while making goons. Use the 1k wood to upgrade the pavisiers (you should have 12 already from the age up), then start making more while setting the TC rally point to wood (so that you are already macroed for when the 1k wood bank expires).
Next card is usually 2 falconets (to match the 2falcs of the other civs) or a big crate (1k coin for mercs, Lombard card for a 2nd rax). Then usually the pavisier range upgrade.
Then it’s up to you. The game should play out like a classic skirm/goon semi FF.
Transition to age4
As soon as you click on the age up, move about 10-12 vills on coin and start making dragoons from the stable (or alternatively move more vills on coin and make some other anticav merc that is more appealing). Spare some resources for minutemen in case you spot the opponent coming to your base with his army.
Since the time window to industrial is quite narrow and the build is tight, it shouldn’t be easy for the opponent to cause a lot of damage without committing super hard. 5 goons, 12 minutemen, 3 falcs and a couple hussars can hold lots of age2 or age3 units. If the opponent breaks that then the problem is the choice of the FI strat.
Once you reach age4 it’s time to gauge where you are in the game compared to what the opponent is doing. Generally speaking you want to get away with as many eco cards as possible in order to play out a normal game where you started from the industrial age while the opponent wasted resources and cards in the prior ages. So, if you don’t expect immediate pressure start sending the factory card, followed by the 3k lombard resource card and then anything else you feel proper for the situation.
The overall plan is to make bersaglieri and dragoons, while producing vills from two TCs and teching up w/e you can afford (free vills). As soon as you can, drop a basilica (more techs for vills and access to the shadow upgraded papal units). Because of all the free stuff from the age IV cards you can even afford to transition to mills and estates at some point without having to fight for the very last hunt or mine on the map.
Usually the optimal card order is something like factory, 3k res, 12 bersaglieri, advanced arsenal, cav combat, ranged infantry attack, etc.
How to defend rushes
In case the opponent is rushing, you should turn the hussar start into a stable+rax age2 play. In order to do that send 700w and drop a rax. Start making pavisiers and send 8pavisiers as the next card. Try to delay the engagement to this point when you will also call minutemen and time everything together to trap the opponent. If there is too much pressure before that point then you have to commit with minutemen (priority over trained units) and micro your best. However, with perfect macro there is almost no time window for the opponent to do real damage.
Once you have several pavisiers and hussars on the field the rush just doesn’t work anymore. At that point you can start adding musks (or pikes) and push the opponent forward base or even try to age up.
Keep in mind that an untouched huss+pavisier build scores about 50 military pop at 9 minutes. Italy has one of the best 8/9 min timings in the game.
Standard games play out in age2 and age3, so industrial cards are just factory + ups (and 3k res which is simply too good). FI games require unit cards etc. There was simply no room for that upgrade.
Also, I made some last minute changes to the decks so I might have just forget it.
By the way, I'm not sure about the auto target feature. Sounds a bit counterproductive in some cases.
My personal reasoning is that 5 lombards just don't help you to win games as much as 2 lombards + a TP and the subsequent flexibility do. Even with the basilica card 5 lombards just don't return much more compared to a TP which is a way smaller investment. I just prefer to use the architect to build houses so I can make units. Also I don't have to justify a Basilica card that has little use and can send 700 res instead which is the equivalent of 6-7 vills for about 3.3 min of game.
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