The Italians are a booming civilization with a focus on their navy and gunpowder units.
The Italians have several naval advantages. They have almost full dock technologies (except for Heavy Demolition Ship) and can research all of these technologies at low cost due to their 50% discount on all dock technologies. Their Fishing Ships are 20% cheaper. As Cannon Galleons are gunpowder units they receive a 20% discount in their costs, these costs are further reduced by Shipwright. Their second unique unit, the Condottiero is available without upgrade cost, which makes it a viable option for landings. Their unique technology Silk Road benefits both Trade Cogs and Trade Carts. All these advantages make them one of the most powerful civilizations in water maps.
The Italians have a 15% discount for advancing ages which allows them to age up earlier. They are effective at booming since they have almost all economic technologies, and their Silk Road technology is very helpful in late game when all gold mines have been taken.
Another decent advantage is their 20% discount on all gunpowder units. The Italians possess all gunpowder upgrades, complete Blacksmith techs, and almost all the technologies of the University, allowing for cheap and powerful Hand Cannoneers, Bombard Towers, and Bombard Cannons.
The Italians possess two unique units. The first one is the Genoese Crossbowman, an archer with an attack bonus against cavalry. The Pavise technology improves Genoese Crossbowman armor, increasing their durability and making them one of the best armored archers of the game. Their second unique unit is the Condottiero, which is the only counter-gunpowder infantry in the game. The Italian team bonus makes Condottiero available to any civilization allied with the Italians. Civilization bonuses and unique techs that benefit infantry will affect the Condottieri. Condottieri have also good movement speed and bonus resistance to anti-infantry units.
The Italians lack Camels and the Halberdier upgrade, and while the Genoese Crossbow is an effective counter vs Cavalry, it may only be produced at a castle, which makes it more difficult to respond quickly when attacked by heavy cavalry in the late game. In terms of siege weapons they lack Siege Rams, Siege Onagers, Heavy Scorpions. Even more crucially they lack the Siege Engineers tech, leaving all their siege sub-par in comparison to civilizations who have it.
The Italians' biggest weakness is probably their lack of early eco bonuses on land maps, aside from cheaper costs of aging up. Compounding this problem, the Italians' military bonuses don't really kick in until the Imperial Age, leaving them a vulnarable for during the early game on land maps.
Italians are primarily a boom civilization, and as such are best in team battles, playing in the pocket position. Italians should mostly be used on water maps, as navy is their strong point and galley rushing is the best strategy for them on such maps. They are best used as a support civilization, dealing with Cavalry, Boats, and sending resources to allies.
Typically, Italians should go for a Fast Castle and boom their economy. Genoese Crossbowmen and Hand Cannoneers form a strong ranged combination, although they are horribly vulnerable to Skirmishers. Massed Genoese Crossbowmen are an excellent counter to the ever-present Paladin, being able to deal with them from range, allowing allies to move around a stronger infantry shock force. Italians do get fully upgraded Champions, however, Condottieri are most often preferable as they are available without uprades. It is important to take advantage of the Gunpowder bonus, making Hand Cannoneers and Bombard Cannons, and Cannon Galleons on the water. When fighting an opponent such as Turks or Spanish, who is likely to make large numbers of gunpowder units, Condottieri come in handy. Italians are one of the only civilizations able to go toe-to-toe with Turks in the Imperial Age.
On maps with water, Italians should strive to take it over. Cheaper dock technologies allow them to out-tech the opponent in early-game naval encounters without damaging their economy back at home. A nearly full technology tree for the Dock also helps them with this. It is important for Italian players to research shipwright as soon as reasonably possible in order to have also cheaper naval units.
Italians have an excellent defense, with Keeps, Bombard Towers, Architecture, and ranged anti-cavalry. The Italians are a formidable foe for any cavalry civilization late game despite the lack of Halberdiers, especially cavalry archer civilizations such as Mongols and Huns, due to Genoese Crossbowmen anti-cavalry bonus. They are also a powerful foe against gunpowder dependent civilizations such as the Spanish and Turks due to their strong anti-gunpowder unit Condottiero and having far superior foot archers. On the other hand, the Italians will struggle hard against the Goths, due to the Huskarl anti-archer nature, and their infantry line is weaker than the Goths due to the Italians' lack of Halberdiers.
Strategy Changes in The African Kingdoms Edit
Italians are improved as they aging bonus is furthered to 15% instead of 10% which means they can perform better a Fast Castle tactic and go for a knight rush or a monk rush. Also now they have Hussars.
The Condottiero now don't requires a castle to be created and received +1 attack and are faster, this tweak in the condottiero stats also improves the gameplay on a team game since this unit is their team bonus.
Their team bonus allows allies to create Condottieri at their Imperial age barracks. This shared unit is highly valuable for Infantry-based civilizations since the shared Condottieri will be affected by the bonuses of the allied player. It is also valuable as this unit is a counter against gunpowder units and may benefit also civilizations that have poor gunpowder counters or ranged counter units while adding variety to the battlefield. However the biggest advantage of the Condottiero is the fact that unlike the Champion, it is available without any upgrades.
They make a good teammate for the Mayans, benefiting from cheaper walls, as well as covering the natural Cavalry weakness of meso-American civilizations. Heavy Cavalry civilizations such as the Franks and Spanish also synergize nicely. Italians also benefits from Team bonuses like the Viking team bonus if playing in water based maps, this considering the fact that many of the Italians' bonuses are made for galley rushing, the Viking team bonus discount on docks worths noting in this case the same goes for the Japanese team bonus that benefits galleys. Turk team bonus (gunpowder units are created quicker) helps a lot the Italians in later ages adding creation speed to their already cheaper gunpowder units. Some archer based bonuses (Magyar team bonus, and Saracen team bonus) will improve their Genoese crossbowmen and the hand canoneer. A Malay ally may also brings in win-win synergies, as they provide cheap, tanky, Heresy-reinforced Battle Elephants to screen Italian Hand Cannoneers and siege weapons, together with their team bonus which is vital for coastal defence and fast-response navies, in exchange for Condottieri against gunpowder units, plus late-game firepower support to mitigate their weaknesses even more effectively.
A fantastic team-match-oriented civilization always has a bag of share-worthy tricks their teammates are craving for, so as to the Vietnamese for their Italian allies (or even vice-versa on watery maps). They offer first-hand information of the enemy bases at the beginning, which might bring rush-oriented opponents fear of their archer rushes, allowing Italian players to strive for Castle Age safely, or even unleash warship hordes onto unlucky opponents in watery maps. Furthermore, their gold subsidy from Paper Money grant decent bankroll for extra Galleons, their cannon-armed counterparts, Condottieri or land gunpowder units, together with Imperial Skirmisher as a countermeasure against enemy archers and Halberdiers, plus a must-have trash component for late-Imperial domination. In return, the Italians grant them Condottieri to decimate enemy gunpowder units, plus dauntless supporting fleets on watery maps, not only suppressing firepower support from anti-cavalry Genoese Crossbowmen, dirt-cheap Italian Hand Cannoneers and Bombard Cannons, so this gives birth to a formidable duo which becomes a nightmare for monk-dependent or missile-dependant civilizations.