Venice Details (M2TW Faction)
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Information herein is based on players individual experiences and may not be independently verifiable. In the event of a disagreement please discuss on the talk page.
The 'complex' of cities in Northern Italy (Florence, Venice, Genoa, Milan, Bologna) is probably the greatest single production area in the entire game. Converting Bologna and Florence to castles is expedient; very soon you'll have three mutually supportive huge cities and two citadels able to produce three entire full stack armies every four turns. Europe cannot compete with this concentrated production. So grab those cities!
Now aside from in the very early game Venice has a fantastic unit line-up, it's really quite amazing, and the game may claim they do not boast a 'Noteworthy land army' but don't let this intimidate you as Venice's forces are easily the equal of any major European nation. It's not all very easy, though, if you want a nice challenge try leaving Sicily alone and not rushing them; as although they can easily be taken out with a swift rush by about turn sixteen if you leave them you're going to have some very fun battles being outclassed by their superb early and middle game soldiers.
Normally I consider tier one units only when I review a factions early game forces, but when it is Venice in question, as with the other Italian states, their early cities and first conquests are advanced and fast growing Italian cities, so I will consider city units, rather than large town units, as tier one in this instance. Now, on to the unit review.
Venice's early game infantry is not particularly dangerous, but their trump card is availability. Most factions can produce Armoured Seargents and Seargent spears in the early game from castles, with their towns producing far inferior spear and town militia. For Venice this is not the case, as Italian Militia are as effective as Seargent Spearmen, and Italian Spear Militia are as effective as Armoured Seargents.
Carrocio standards are the one early game unit Venice gets that is truly special, and it can really make a difference to your early game armies. Not only does it bolster the morale of everyone around it, making it feasible to fight without generals in certain situations, the standard itself is accompanied by a small bodyguard of Armoured Seargents who cannot be broken. This makes them a very useful unit! They literally cannot run away, point blank, and fight to the death regardless of odds. This can give your army invaluable second chances as if your main line is broken, and you possess a few standards in the rear the enemy must kill every single guard, giving you precious time to rally your men and form a new battle line. This unit is also quite cheap, although the initial investment of 700 or so Florins certainly isn't, their upkeep of a mere 70 per turn certainly is! And as their initial price is so high the game engine considers them one of the best units you can train, and what that means is it's quite possible to be rewarded with four of them for free on completion of certain missions. Very handy. They do slow your forces down, but in the claustrophobic environment of Northern Italy in your early battles with Milan this is not so noticeable.
As the game progresses and you're packing fortresses and large cities your infantry becomes quite the impressive force. Not only do you receive the standard European DFK, you get quite literally the finest infantry soldiers on earth. Venetian Heavy Infantry are truly as hard as nails. With 16 attack nothing can confidently stand up to their armour-piercing war hammers, and with 16 defence they are very well protected for a unit of shock infantry, with shields to give them far more survivability against missile attacks than contemporary 2-handed ap troops. Of course the shield is currently a liability in melee, but don't let this deter you. Even with their shield value reduced Venetian Heavy Infantry are still one of the finest infantry units in the game, they're simply that lethal on the offensive. Now such a fine unit usually costs allot, comparable troops such as the HRE's fantastic armour-piercing dismounted Imperial Knights have a crippling upkeep of 250 a turn, you might expect something similar for Venetian Infantry, but you'll be pleasantly surprised. With a mere 150 upkeep they're actually cheaper to support than armoured seargents! So cheap are they, in fact, that they easily can be used as Garrison troops in castles. Try fighting through the gate against them! It's not pretty.
As the game grinds onward and you begin building Citadels and Huge cities you may initially be somewhat upset with your new infantry choices. When you view the statistics of dismounted men at arms and see that they're no better than dismounted Feudal knights you might wonder to yourself how you're going to go about storming castles in this late era. Well, the answer is of course Venetian Heavy Infantry. Build one from a citadel with a sword smiths guild and take a look at their stats now. Scoring a free chevron at this stage and with armour and weapon upgrades they come off the shelf with 18 armour piercing attack and 18 defence. They are quite literally unstoppable. but lose to heavy knights of most european faction and also moorish christian guard.
In your cities, at this stage, you score militia pikemen. A lovely unit that makes your cities almost impossible to assault, and a unit which validates Venice's fine late game gunpowder by giving them the ability to produce pike and shot formations.
In the end, Venice's infantry is largely vanilla in the early game with the simple advantage of availability (being able to produce decent spearmen from castles and cities) and the bolstering Carrocio standard to stiffen the line. They're hardly on a par with, say, the Danish, but they certainly get the job done.
In the middle game Venetian Heavy Infantry ensure you a battleline that will not be outclassed, and in the late game they rise to the occasion with fantastic upgrades and perks to give you the same end result. Throw in dismounted men at arms and dismounted fuedal knights for units that, although not overly useful considering you have acess to something better and cheaper, will keep the game from getting too boring at the very least. Militia pikes round out their forces nicely for defensive purposes and also as an invaluable compliment to muskets in the gunpowder age. The easy availabiliy of italian spear militia in the middle and late era's only gets better as they have plentiful armour upgrades starting with leather tanner and their vast numbers makes your enemies cavalry nearly obsolete and they can hold a line from enemy infantry well enough till venetian heavy infantry or flanking troops arrive. This makes the Italian spear militia the backbone of your average armies throughout the whole game.
As with their infantry Venetian archers start relatively slow but have some nice perks to round themselves out with. In the early game you'll have the standard lineup in your castles, Peasant Crossbowmen for cheap AP fire support and of course the ever-present peasant archers. Nothing special really, but from their cities Venice can produce Pavise Crossbow Militia, a fine unit at any stage of the game, with superb defence against missiles and with a long range, dauntingly high armour piercing attack of 12 they can really complement your early game spear forces, providing an excellent way to tune up even the most heavily armoured foes before the mêlée, and with decent enough armour to survive a little combat unsupported. These units allow any city to have an effective number of archers on the walls to mow down enemies before they reach your gates. The large numbers of these units you can afford to put in an army will allow you to overpower most factions in ranged troops as they need to create their elite ones in fortress's or citadels.
By the middle game your pavise crossbow militia are still a fine unit to use in many situations, from defending towns to the open field, but another unit comes along to compliment them here. Venetian Archers are a fine missile unit with 9 attack that can loose much faster then crossbow militia and use flaming missiles and they have mêlée stats that are good enough for them to enter combat when the odds are in their favor. Though they cannot compete with the cream of the game's archery units (Dismounted Dvor, Byzantine Gaurd, Ottoman Infantry, Janissary Archers, Longbowmen etc.), you'll still find them a very valuable unit to have on your side. Their upkeep is low enough for them to be placed in castle garrisons, and on the open field they can do all the things you would demand of a good archery unit. Whether this is punishing the enemy at range, or standing off against horse archers and other skirmishers they won't let you down in a hurry.
In the late game Venice does not receive anything new regarding archers, aside from being able to give their Venetian Archers full plate, until gunpowder.
All in all, Venice has a capable corps of archers from the early to late game. They're not so good that you would consider building your army around them at any point, but in a support role they're unlikely to let you down.
The game has something against Venice's cavalry lineup, claiming it's rather weak. Well I'm going to say this is rubbish. Venice may not be the equal of Poland, the HRE or France but if you can't make effective use of the cavalry they do have then you're simply not a very good cavalry commander.
In the early game they're dull, vanilla, with the basic lineup of Mounted Seargents and Mailed Knights. Nothing special, but good enough to round out armies consisting of Carrocio standards, Pavise Crossbows and Italian Spear Militia. Their cavalry at this stage is identicle to that of France, Milan, the HRE, etc. there's nothing unique or particularly effective about it, but for smashing into infantry and running down routers they do the job.
In the middle game Venice is still on equal footing with the standard European Armies, receiving Fuedal Knights from their fortresses, but with the advantage of also getting a solid militia cavalry unit. Don't mistake these guys for Merchant Cavalry! They have lances and a decent charge bonus, and are very capable for their price and high level of availability which can allow you to have every army have enough of these to obliterate archers and crash into flanks and kill routers very quickly. I personally prefer them to Fuedal Knights as the upkeep of these 'true' Knights is extortionistically high, and in addition building allot of cavalry militia is likely to score you a Horse Breeders guild. This is very important for Venice as they don't get jousting lists to improve their cavalry, so shoot for that guild HQ!
By the late game Venice's castle-built heavy cavalry drop off. When many western nations are training the fantastic Chivalric Knights you receive Men At Arms, a reasonable unit with a solid armor value and a charge bonus of 7, but no match for Chivalrics, their upkeep is not particularly low although their recruitment cost is cheaper than Fuedal Knights, so think before you start building them as their price advantage cancels itself out the longer they're on the field.
Of course getting mounted Crossbowmen from your castles helps to even the odds with cavalry, we all know how effective this unit can be after all. That's not all though as from their citadels Venice also receives quite possibly the best light cavalry in the game. The fantastic Stradiots. With a charge bonus of five and the "can_formed_charge" attribute they're the second best chargers in their category (after Hussars) in the game, and they also carry AP maces with a good attack as a secondary weapon. The best advantage of Stradiots is, however, their sheer speed. Their in-game mount is a 'fast pony' as opposed to the 'pony' of most light cavalry, allowing them to outrunn even units as quick as Border Horse and Hobilars. With their AP maces, then, it follows that Stradiots make fantastic troops for catching and butchering horse archers and other missile cav. In fact they're the ultimate answer to things like Jinetes and Reiters. With their feirce mellee stats and ap weapons Stradiots also do good service against hostile heavy cavalry. Although in equal numbers they loose, you must remember they're far cheaper than, say, Chivalric Knights. However the true asset of Stradiots is their flexibility via micromanagement. It's a proven fact that a unit of Stradiots can defeat a unit of Lancers if you make use of their speed to escape mellee to perform multiple charges, and this asset is just as effective against infantry units. Of course to do this in a pitched battle where many units are present is quite tough, but the option is there whether or not you choose to use it.
Again Venice compliments its castle-built units with a solid city built unit and this time it's a nice one; Broken Lancers. Much like Demi Lancers they lack the solidity of elite western cavalry, but have all of the punch. With 12 attack and a charge bonus of 8, there are few infantry units these chaps can't all but eradicate in one solid charge.
So, all in all, Venice's cavalry is hardly weak. Their mixture of units is eclectic, with some decent, albeit difficult to use elites (Stradiots and Broken Lancers) and allot of the basic European lineup (Feudal Knights and such) you have a good amount of choice and good counters to the things that might be inclined to cause you trouble while still packing some good heavy cavalry for the real business of smashing infantry.
In the late game, post-gunpowder, Venice is one of only four factions (Milan , Portugal, Spain and Venice) capable of fielding muskets and pikes, and one of only five factions (Portugal, Spain, Venice , Turkey and Russia) capable of receiving muskets. They are one of only five factions to receive mortars (Scotland, England, Sicily, Milan and Venice) and one of only two factions to receive Monster Ribaults (Venice and Milan) their gunpowder navy is also quite powerful. Venetian Galleass' absolutely crush Gun Holks and also defeat the Eastern Equivalent. All this said Venice is a true power in the gunpowder age.
My final thoughts on Venice are that they're one of the few factions that is truly strong through the entire game, with an effective, balanced army that does not come up wanting in any department. A great all-rounder, but with a nasty edge in city trained militia troops, infantry and gunpowder waiting to be exploited. One of the most rewarding elements of playing Venice is that although their early game forces do are nothing special, there's always better units to unlock and use until you play through to gunpowder. In other words, they start strong and they keep getting stronger. This makes their campaign a paced and relaxing affair as you never feel the need to rush, a fitting mood in which to take command of The Most Serene Republic of Venice.