TC 168, TC 169 and TC 170 all appear very similar as each of them requires the players to assemble a number of permanent and/or temporary allies. The similarities of these task cards are actually more apparent than real, as each of these task cards requires a radically different approach to the goals which they set before the players.

TC 168. PTC 168 wins if he mobilises 5,000 knights and/or mercenaries in his active army groups.

PTC 168ís strategy must be one of relentless pursuit of both permanent and temporary alliances with neutral nobles, and more importantly, with neutral towns. He must gain as many such alliances as possible, which means that he has to have a clear-cut plan of taking advantage of marriage opportunities and involving himself in feuds. He must aim, in particular, to involve himself on the side of the town wherever and whenever a feud involving a town arises. The reason for this is that successful intervention on the side of a town in a feud gains mercenaries, to the tune of 400 - 800 troops per town card. Alliances with nobles may be useful, and should not be ignored, but the cards belonging to neutral nobles each provide considerably fewer troops than those of towns. (For a comparison, see Table III at the end of this paper.) A further advantage of mercenaries is that they are much cheaper to raise and to maintain; here, their cost is one tenth that of an equal number of knights. Mercenaries are also very useful in sieges and storm attacks against fortresses, if they are archers, crossbowmen or siege specialists. Such troops are equally effective as defenders in sieges and storm attacks. In turn, this means that mercenaries are better than knights at securing further temporary alliances. Their downside is that their fighting abilities are abysmal when compared to knights in field battles which take place in open terrain.

Equally, PTC 168 will require money, as the 5,000 troops will have to be raised simultaneously in one or more active army groups in order to win. (Troops in reserve army groups do not count.) It is difficult to put a figure on this as the amount required to raise the 5,000 will vary considerably depending on the "mix" of knights and mercenaries in the active army group(s). For instance, were only knights to be raised, PTC 168 would require a sum of M. 250,000, which is a considerable sum of money. On the other hand, were only mercenaries to be raised, the amount of money required would be M. 25,000. These are, of course, two extremes, and in practice, the troops will consist of a mixture of knights and mercenaries. Purely for the sake of the financial considerations, PTC 168 would want the majority of these to be mercenaries.

Each successful intervention in a feud allows the player to acquire a concealed opportunities card. Some concealed opportunities cards are valuable because they provide large numbers of troops. For instance, cards 139 and 140 each provide the players who hold them with 1,000 siege specialists ( but these two cards cannot be raised simultaneously). The player has to pay to raise such troops, but at a mere M. 5,000 the cost is cheap.

PTC 168 could also try and crown either Richard of Cornwall or Charles of Valois as German King, provided that he gets the corresponding concealed opportunities card. Both of these individuals provide regular troops from April to August each year: 800 knights in the case of Richard and 1,000 knights in the case of Charles. Of the two, Charles is to be preferred, as his knights are free. On the other hand, Richard also provides considerable sums of money, including an annual stipend of M. 30,000. Both these princes pay for their own elections and coronations. If the possibility arises, PTC 168 should boost his cash reserves by leading an army over the Alps or the Oder (of course).

Cards 133 - 136 provide free troops from April to August every year. Card 137 provides a one-off subsidy of M. 40,000 and also 600 mercenaries (which the player will have to pay for) every year. Card 138 provides 400 knights. Such concealed opportunities cards are useful to any player, but PTC 168, PTC 169 and PTC 170 are all more likely to get involved in feuds than are the other two players, which means that they are likely to have more access to the concealed opportunities deck.

Problems which PTC 168 may encounter include the logistics of intervening in feuds. (This is also true for PTC 169 and PTC 170.) Feuds come and go during the course of the game and the most attractive proposition existing at any one time may not be available simply because of the geographical distance from his armies or because a rival player beats him to it. Remember that a player may intervene on either side, and that naturally oneís opponents will strive to prevent one from successfully intervening in feuds as often as possible, usually by intervening in them themselves. Indeed, often enough, oneís opponent(s) may need the feud as much as one does oneself. Remember also that any player intending to intervene in feuds or intending to avail himself of marriage opportunities should set aside a sort of contingency fund in April each year in order to cope with the "change of offers" die rolls which occur at the beginning of most months.

Presumably therefore, PTC 168 may be identified by his eagerness to intervene in feuds on the side of towns rather than on the side of the nobility whenever the opportunity presents itself. Of course, this need not be a sure indication that the player doing this is indeed PTC 168, but given his need for a plentiful supply of cheap troops, it would be entirely reasonable for any player not holding TC 168 to make such an assumption.

PTC 168 will have to defend his allies. Allies gained through intervention in feuds are necessarily "temporary allies". Where such allies are from the lay and clerical nobility, PTC 168 will require the "contented allies" card each game year. He will have to ensure that the fortresses of such allies are undestroyed and unoccupied - or, if they are destroyed or occupied, be prepared to pay M. 50 for each knight of his ally. If he cannot do this, the alliance will end. In the case of towns, a "contented allies" card is not required, but the town must not be destroyed, occupied or under siege by a hostile player in November (unless he is able to have an army of his own in the said besieged town), otherwise the alliance ends. Clearly then, his opponents could make efforts to detach his temporary allies from him by attacking their fortresses.

TC 169. PTC 169 wins if he mobilises 4,000 knights in his active army groups.

In this case, mercenaries do not count towards fulfilling oneís victory conditions. Otherwise, TC 169 appears to resemble TC 168. Comments made about permanent and temporary allies, the possible crowning of a king and concealed opportunities cards which were made in the section dealing with TC 168 are therefore valid for this task card too, provided they refer to knights.

There are, however, some fairly fundamental differences between the two. Not surprisingly, PTC 169 will tend to intervene in feuds on the side of a lay or clerical noble rather than on that of a town, simply because towns produce mercenaries while nobles produce knights. Unfortunately perhaps, the contingents of knights produced by noble cards are small when compared with the contingents of mercenaries produced by town cards, but this cannot be helped. PTC 169 requires knights, not

mercenaries. For the relevant comparisons, see Table III at the end of this paper. Translating Table III into hard figures produces the following. There are twenty-five clerical noble cards producing a total of 4,700 knights, giving an average of 188 knights per card. The largest single contingent is one (and only one) of 500 knights. There are thirty-three lay noble cards, producing a total of 4,650 knights giving an average of 141 knights per card. The largest contingent is one (and only one) of 400 knights. In total, the nobility produce 9,350 knights, or an average of 161 per card. In contrast, there are twenty-four town cards (excluding cards 118 - 120, which are not used in the standard game) producing a total of 10,200 mercenaries (and these 24 cards include several Hanseatic towns which produce no troops at all) or an average of 425 mercenaries per card. This probably means that PTC 169 has a more difficult task than PTC 168, notwithstanding the extra 1,000 troops which PTC 168 requires, although the fact that feuds involving towns are more rare than those involving just nobility will help to even this out to some extent. It certainly means that PTC 169 will probably be faced with higher mobilisation costs when it comes to fulfilling the requirements of his task card. In crude terms, raising 4,000 knights would cost M. 200,000. Here the 1,000 knights provided by Charles of Valois or the 800 provided by Richard of Cornwall will be very useful.

Accordingly, PTC 169 is advised to pursue marriages between his own family members and the neutral nobility as far as possible. Apart from some special cases provided by the concealed opportunities cards, marriages, at M. 10,000 each, are expensive.

Assuming that his estates are in good order, PTC 169 will have available the 2,000 knights with which he starts the game (this, of course, is also true of PTC 168), and so, he will have to obtain another 2,000 knights, mainly through such alliances and marriages with the neutral nobility and from concealed opportunity cards when these become available. None of the forgoing comments should, however discourage PTC 169 from picking up mercenaries. Although it is true that mercenaries per se are useless from the point of view of his task card when it is looked at in isolation, they are nevertheless very useful during the course of a game simply because they provide him with cheap, strong and effective armies for intervening in feuds. In other words, they can be the means for providing him with other allies, who in turn can provide him with knights towards the total demanded by his victory conditions. Again, obtaining mercenaries will help cloud the issue of which task card he is actually holding (from the point of view of his opponents in the game).

It may therefore be possible for PTC 169ís opponents to identify him if he obviously avoids alliances with towns - or even if he just tends to do so.

PTC 169 will need money, both in order to raise troops to intervene in feuds and in order to raise his 4,000 knights all at once to fulfil the conditions of his task card. He will also need money for marriages and/or training one or more family members for a Church post. This means that he too will find it useful to lead an army or two across the Oder or over the Alps.

TC 170. PTC 170 wins if he can arrange a tournament for 16 or more nobles. Clerical nobles do not take part (i.e., do not count for the purposes of the number required - the reason for this is historical; the Church condemned tournaments). There is a bonus in that allied Kings, Dukes and Markgraves each count as two nobles for the purposes of this calculation. In addition, the tournament costs M50,000.

In calculating the number required, firstly each of the factionís active male family members, as represented by their counters gives one point towards this total of sixteen, provided the counter does not represent an individual who has entered the Church. Naturally, the counters of dead family members or ones who are currently captives cannot count towards the required total either. Secondly, all sons in law who are alive and who are not currently captive also count as one point each unless they are Kings, Dukes or Markgraves, in which case, any such individual will count as two points. Thirdly, any permanent or temporary allies who are not members of the clerical nobility will count as one point each, unless such an individual is a King or a Duke or a Markgrave, in which case he will count as two points.

PTC 170 will therefore start the game with five points towards the total of sixteen. He will have to make up the shortfall partly by marriages with neutral nobles and partly by gaining allies from the lay nobility through intervention in feuds. In fact marriages alone can satisfy the required number of 16 points of nobles: i.e., one begins with five nobles who are oneís own male family members and then, if each of these marries, one would have a minimum of ten points, but possibly more as some of the relatives of wives could be kings, dukes or markgraves, plus another possible five from marriages of oneís daughters (female family members) which would produce a minimum of fifteen, but again possibly more because some of the resulting sons in law might be kings, dukes or markgraves. There are four possible kings, i.e., Denmark, Hungary Poland and a crowned Richard of Cornwall. All of these kings are obtained through concealed opportunities cards and Richard has to be successfully elected and crowned. There are five duchies; Kärnten, Lothringen, Pommern, Schlesien and Steirmark. There are two markgraves; Baden and Burgau. The dukes and the markgraves are in the Noblesí deck, and can therefore be obtained as allies through intervening in feuds as well as through marriages. Note however that neither Charles of Valois nor Alfonso il Sabio offers a marriage.

Of course, in practice it is unlikely that PTC 170 will be able to marry off his entire family. Added to this is the problem that he may lose family members and sons in law through military action. Here PTC 170 should note that male family members who die in battle cannot be replaced. Sons in law are more flexible in this respect as a widowed female family member can remarry, and the dead son in law can therefore be replaced. In fact, in most games, any player is likely to lose one or two such individuals, and in particularly unfortunate circumstances, he may even lose more. If one is using Optional Rule U (Accelerated Army Groups) players will often employ a very small army with double movement in order to get to the locations of available marriages as quickly as possible. This is a method which has the considerable advantage of rapid movement and it can be used to extremely good effect, but it does also have the disadvantage of being extremely weak from a military point of view, so that if such an army is cornered by a large, hostile force, it will almost certainly suffer a crushing defeat in a field battle (or storm attack, if the fortress in which it takes shelter is insufficiently strong). Were this to happen, the male family member or son in law who is in command will certainly be captured, even if he does survive the battle. As noted earlier, while a captive, he cannot be used to count towards the total number of points required, and if the player who captures him realises that the owning faction has TC 170, he may be able to arrange matters so that this prisoner spends the remainder of the game in the dungeon of some fortress or other. Oneís own male family members and sons in law are clearly the best choices for getting to or close to the required number of nobles to satisfy this task card, as the sons in law are so-called "permanent allies". Temporary allies who are obtained from successful interventions in feuds are somewhat more vulnerable because the alliances that they may form with a faction can be dissolved by other factions successfully attacking and destroying their fortresses. Such temporary allies will also be lost - en masse - if the controlling faction fails to obtain the so-called "contented allies" card in any year.

Presumably, PTC 170 can be identified if he displays a propensity for going after marriages, particularly those which offer high-ranking nobles as allies. Equally a player who avoids involvement in feuds on the side of a town or on the side of a clerical noble and who avoids putting family members into the Church may well be PTC 170.

Marriages are a useful method of building up the necessary following of allies for this task card, but they are expensive at M10,000 each. On the other hand, PTC 170 has the advantage of being able to obtain allies through more than just one method. Careful, balanced play in obtaining his allies could allow him to be confused with PTC 168 and PTC 169.

Monetary requirements are another aspect of this task card. Reference has already been made to the cost of marriages, but in addition to such costs, the allies, including the sons in law will have to activated along with their contingents in one location - or brought together in one location - and this will naturally cost money. The factionís male family members too will have to be part of the army group or army groups gathering at the place where the tournament is to take place, but they will not have to have any of their own family/estate contingents (as represented by the estate/fief cards) present. To top off the costs, PTC 170 will also have to pay the sum of M50,000 for the tournament itself.

In practice, the monetary burden of this task card may not be very great, as the faction could pawn off its fief/estate cards in order to raise the cash. The contingents of eleven or more points of nobles can represent a large sum of money, but it is worth noting here that TC 170 looks to the number of points of nobles which are required rather than to the sizes of their contingents. Since allied lay nobles can bring bonuses if they are kings, dukes or markgraves, their ranks are important but the sizes of their contingents have no bearing on the stated victory conditions for this task card. Rather, for practical purposes allies with smaller contingents can be thought of as preferable if only because, in order to hold the tournament, PTC 170 will have to mobilise alliesí contingents and he will want to do this as cheaply as possible, so a degree of common sense will be useful when building up the "mix" of nobles which PTC 170 will try to acquire in order to satisfy the demands of his task card.

It should therefore be possible to identify PTCs 168, 169 and 170 by the specific tactics and strategies which they adopt in attempting to gain permanent and/or temporary allies. In simple terms, PTC 168 will favour involvement in feuds on the side of towns. Marriages and Church posts, while welcome, will probably be of comparatively small importance to him. PTC 169 will favour involvement in feuds on the side of nobles, particularly nobles who can offer large contingents of knights. He will tend to seek permanent alliances, both through marriages and through obtaining Church posts for his family members. PTC 170 will tend to eschew alliances with the clerical nobility and towns. He will try to seek out alliances with lay neutral nobles who are of high rank and who have contingents of knights which are as small as possible. Such, at least, is the ideal situation. In practice, players are certain to deviate from these lines of strategy for reasons given above, and of course, any player may find it worth his while to do the opposite of the obvious on occasion, if only in order to pull the wool over the eyes of his opponents.

Each of these players will need money. Do not be surprised at the spectacle of a queue of expeditions over the Alps and across the Oder.

The clearest counter-strategy against any one of these players will be that of frustrating his plans for gaining allies. Try to intervene in the feud that the player wants to intervene in - remember that a player can intervene on either side in a feud! Do not allow him passage over river crossings which you control (particularly if it appears that he needs to do this in order to intervene in a feud, or to go after a marriage or simply in order to make it to the Alpine passes or a crossing of the Oder by September), no matter what blandishments he may offer in exchange. Do not be afraid of taking military action against the fortresses of his temporary allies as doing this may cause him to lose such allies at the end of the game year, and finally, if you feel confident enough to attack one of his army groups on terms which are favourable to you, then do it!

The use of Optional Rule U (Accelerated Army Groups) regularly produces the use of the so-called "marriage army" as noted earlier. Naturally, if the opportunity presents itself, particularly early in a game year, one should attack such an army group, and success in the ensuing battle is almost guaranteed. Causing it to disband will send all the womenfolk back into reserve for the remainder of the current game year and will result in the capture of the male family member acting as its commander. This will certainly frustrate the plans of its owning player for a while at least. On the other hand, the successful use of such an army group has considerable advantages for all players, particularly for PTCs 168 - 170. Its uses are wider than simply escorting female family members to their weddings, and these points are discussed in greater detail in my notes on raising armies in the game.


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