Migration campaigns- the art of living on the skin of your teeth - By EnemyofJupitor

After many replays of campaign mode with all the old favourites, things can get a little predictable for the player. Thereís not enough of a challenge for people who knows how it all works. They post on the forums for little things to make it harder, and among the iron man rules and mod suggestions, thereís also a little suggestion that comes up time and time again- ďTry a migration campaignĒ. What is it?

Comments? Questions? Post in this thread.

Contents


The Basics

A migration campaign is one where you uproot your faction from its starting provinces and settle somewhere else. This tends to be done within the first few turns and to somewhere halfway across the map, and this guide aims to help you with this type of migration, although thereís nothing stopping you from waiting until mid-game to migrate from France to Poland- itís all about whatís fun for you. My personal favourite is moving Sicily to the Holy Land, which is what I plan to do a step-by-step article on later, but Egypt to Constantinople, Denmark to England and Spain to Italy are also satisfying campaigns.

To make it work, though, you canít just decide during turn three after work has commenced on a new barracks- you have to plan meticulously. This isnít going off on a Summer Holiday with Cliff Richard, this is Eye of the Tiger with Rocky (only, in the film where he wins). Apart from that, we also need to take into consideration your economy, public order and security and your troops. The three overlap, but can be treated separately for the purposes of this article

Economy

The sinews of war are infinite money, and without money you cannot hope to win. If you are too far in the red sacking cities wonít be enough to make up the deficit, and troops cannot be recruited to take and defend the new lands. This obviously cannot be allowed to happen, and so we must do several things. First, keep recruiting to a minimum amount of florins- do more with less, and youíll go far. Second, keep taxes in provinces as high as you can for as long as you can without public order going down the drain. Diplomacy, though, is probably going to be your main breadwinner. Trade rights and map information can be sold for at least 500 each to a faction, and there are a lot of factions around, so get your diplomat or princess running round scrounging every last florin the others have to offer. An alliance offer may turn up as Ďbalancedí on the diplomacy interface, but you never know if theyíll also be inclined to pay 100 for the privilege until youíve tried.

M2TW also introduces the wonderful free upkeep feature, which allows you to cut a few florins from the bill each turn (not to mention garrison your old settlements at no extra cost), but you have to consider the fact that your town militia is going to be more expensive than peasants both in recruitment and when not garrisoned for free. Given the choice, though, I would take the spear militias with me over peasants in any scenario- theyíre better, retrainable once you conquer cities and will receive free upkeep there too. Whatís not to love?

Once you actually hit land and start to try and carve out a little kingdom yourself, youíre still not done here. Chances are you are going to be under siege a bit or subject to blockades, so being frugal will make sure it doesn't cause too deep a hit in your profit section. New buildings will of course be needed, but use the profits section of the financial scroll as a budget. If you go over, youíre going to have to make that back as quickly as you can to keep yourself going. Sacking cities are a quick fix for money, but it is vital you construct an economy that is stable without it, and the cost effective ways are the best. As a quick rule of thumb, land clearance, port, then roads should be the first three economic buildings on your list, with a small mosque/church depending on how bad the religious unrest is.

Finally, remember the old lands? You need to cut links with your starting provinces, and ideally should sell them to trusted allies who are willing to pay that settlementís present income plus another 100 to 200 florins for the next ten turns. Demolish all buildings, go haggle over the price with the other faction, disband the garrisons once they are evicted and donít forget to get your diplomat to keep doing the rounds in selling map information to even the ones youíve sold to before- youíve got a completely different set of maps now, after all!

Public Order and Security

The problem with moving away is that if you lose all your settlements at any one time you lose the game. And donít think for a second you can lose even one settlement- remember we need money? Losing one can mean you take a freefall in economy while at a time where we need to keep taxes as high as possible, not to mention we wonít get that tidy little bonus from selling it off later. You may be tempted to train some town guard or similar to hike taxes up with the increased public order from it, but ask yourself if you can make the recruitment cost up from the extra tax income within five turns as a rough guide to see if itís worth it.

To keep your home provinces safe from external threats, you will need to ally with pretty much everyone around you. This is easy for someone like Sicily (Pope and Venice, yes please), but Milan can be a bit of a nightmare. If you have to choose between allies, you will have to gamble on who is most likely to go to war with you, or at the very least who is most likely to have troops running past your towns garrisoned by single units. Be wary of rebels popping up, too- on Very Hard they can siege a town.

However, nothing can guarantee you wonít be turned on at a momentís notice, so to keep you in the game during particularly long treks I suggest taking an island at some stage. Veterans of RTW migrations often used Crete as the ideal place for this, as it was rebel, had a decent position halfway across the Aegean (for most players this was halfway to their destination, and your capital would be set up here to keep a balance between both your homelands and new lands being content) but most of all turned into a genuine asset once developed. You can still conquer the island on your way across the Mediterranean in M2TW, but you will have to deal with the wrath of Venice with its Italian Spear Militia and Generals bodyguard. If you arenít the best general in the world Rhodes would actually be a better option as it doesnít have such good troops, but if youíre confident then I say go for it- the Byzantines will probably land on Rhodes at some stage anyway.

Once landed, you may find the problem of religion is tying down your forces into babysitting Jerusalem or wherever. All Catholic factions in vanilla start out with cardinals, relatively high-piety priests that will never become heretics, so a few turns of sitting in a region should take care of that, but Orthodox and Islamic must be mindful of losing their starting bishop/imam and should aim to have the means to replenish them if needed- build a small church or mosque earlier than usual, in other words. Also, exterminating or sacking curbs unrest upon capture, as can high dread generals, moving your capital closer and lowering taxes- aim to utilise these methods as much as possible to make sure your new subjects don't run riot when your hard-pressed troops march out to counter a threat.

Troops and Faction Overviews

You wonít have time to construct a large army that can wipe away all enemies. You will hardly have time to construct the fleet you need, never mind anything else. The grand army you have at your command is most likely a few militias, some peasants and some early cavalry, plus any family members you happen to have. To make things worse, every man you lose on the way to your destination is one that probably canít be replaced. Some of the more useless units will have to be disbanded (mounted sergeants, depending on your style of play, and most short-ranged missile units- itís simply not worth having them), too. Youíre going to have to be on top of your game when you take command of a migrating army, because youíre going to have to defeat important defeats on an enemy that is fighting at home, will most likely outnumber you and be of comparable if not better quality. Oh, and your best units are the ones which you canít lose under any circumstances, the bodyguards, as if you lose all of them you die due to lack of family members.

The most important thing is to avoid meatgrinders at all cost- they wear down your troops for little gain, so aim for field battles that just happens to draw the city garrison into play over sieges. The garrison and the other army will be separate to start off with, and you need to take this to task straight away. The tactics you use should ideally be lightening quick strikes that pick off straggling units and withdrawing before the enemy can strike back- a charge to the unit that has momentarily turned its back on my heavy cavalry is a good example of an opportunistic strike that happens to take out half an army in one bugle call and with a single cavalry unit, before vanishing.

Mercenaries are a curious case- will you be able to support them money-wise? Will you be able to make use of them in order to justify their price? Can you retrain them? The latter isnít too important, but the first two are major headaches when it comes to hiring swords. Ideally you want to hire mercenaries where you land, and they are ones that fill a hole in your starting armyís composition. However, sometimes it may be vital to have, for instance, a unit of infantry you can depend on but you canít get it in the region you are going to land in. Either change your course a little to land somewhere where you can get a mercenary that fits the bill or, if you deem it sustainable, bring one from your homeland along for a sail. Mercenary Spearmen are as a rule worth the money you pay, but slav mercenaries you should pass on- there is a reason why they are so, and it ainít cost effectiveness.

Different areas of the map have different advantages when it comes to troops selection- western Catholic nations invariably start with a unit or two of mailed knights plus the awesome generalís bodyguard. They will take up quite a bit of your budget for the turn but are easily worth the upkeepís worth in spear militia due to their manoeuvrability and heavy hitting power. Oh, and these bad boys will be retrainable from castles upwards. However, the decent infantry mercenaries tend to be found in their homelands, meaning you may have to gamble on taking one with you to make up for a lack of dependable infantry, though Denmark and Scotland start with some remarkable armour-piercing light infantry that rank among the best units in the game. They will also have to most likely disband missile units for the most part to make sure they can support mailed knights (exceptions are the Iberian Jinetes- you can win battles with just these sometimes).

Italian factions get the perfect early roster, in my opinion- the mailed knights and generals bodyguard of Catholics coupled with the Italian Militias. Considering how some players use whole armies of them right up until the end of the game, it shows just how good they are. These can beat pretty much any infantry theyíre asked to attack, and can brace against cavalry charges for an encore. And then after theyíve captured their target, they can retrain and do it all over again. Imagine that- your best and most cost-effective troops right up until High era if not later, available and retrainable from the start. And because theyíre closest to Rome, they can in theory make a quick gift to His Holiness and call a Crusade at some stage (More on that later). It brings a tear to the eye.

Hungary and Poland start with slightly worse low-tier infantry than their western brothers but have missile cavalry to taunt their enemy with. Unlike the west, they will probably need the odd ranged unit to soften the enemy up, especially Hungary with horse archers that can shoot enemies to pieces so you donít lose a single man. Poland have the versatile noble cavalry- javelins may not be as long ranged or numerous in the quiver, but they do a lot of damage and the men are decent with their swords. They too have the Catholic bodyguard to provide the heavy hits, but they are still as a whole reliant on softening up the enemy before they get too close and as such will need to pick up the odd mercenary spearmen to bolster the ranks.

The Islamic factions are scattered on the fringes of the map with a lot of distance between them, meaning they can ensure their homelands survive long enough with no garrison and so have a few more troops on the journey with them. Like Hungary, they have slightly weaker infantry but fantastic cavalry missile troops. The crŤme of the crop, without question, is Egyptís Mamluk archers, what with ranged attack and maces once up close coupled with easy retraining ability. Even better- chances are wherever they migrate to will have decent infantry mercenaries, so they donít have to hire extra swords until theyíre needed, and because of the Jihading mechanic they should all be free upkeep (More on Crusades and Jihads later)! The generalís bodyguard, though, donít have lances, and instead use their maces to steamroll the enemy. However, since they should all be shot to pieces with arrows anyway, this isnít much of a problem.

The Russians play in much the same way, except that their generals are armed with spears and swords, not maces, and so are probably the least effective of the bodyguards on offer. They do start quite concentrated around Novgorod on the map, though, and because they are so isolated can also send all but one unit away. However, they donít start with any horse archers and instead rely on poor-quality, low moral archer militia to soften them up. Russia probably has the worst hand when it comes to migration- it doesnít have the heavy cavalry of the Western Catholics, the horse archers of the Eastern Catholics, or the holy war free upkeep like the Muslims. You will have to rely on your generals taking most of the casualties before charging in with the shock woodsmen at the crucial moment to keep your migration alive.

In contrast their fellow Orthodox faction, the Byzantines, have quite a lot going for them. It is worth the money to quickly recruit some of their horse archers at the start- theyíre as good as the Muslim ones- and though scattered they have a relatively large army with enough Trebizond archers to float a boat, or at least destroy half an army so the heavy bodyguards can go and demolish the rest. Trebizond archers are perhaps the only foot archers to take with you- long range and can be retrained in the near future. Mix them in with the Vardariotai and you have some serious questions to ask your foe. The only thing is that either you will have to leave or recruit some units to watch over your quite large amount of territory that will be quickly sniffed at by Sicily, Venice, Hungary and Turkey alike- either you will have to hope theyíre slow, or gift the outlying ones early to buy more time. Finally, their boats are actually slightly better than the others- use this to your advantage.

Crusades and Jihads

The roster for crusading and jihading targets tends to be big important cities of the other religions such as the capitals. This serves you well, as the capitals are often the largest and therefore most profitable settlements, and you can strike at them much more quickly than usual. Did we mention these armies are also free upkeep? Theyíre free upkeep. Yes, you can take that extra unit of knights now. Be happy.

Muslim factions have a wonderful start with this- all of them start with an imam that can call a jihad, and there are almost no rules as to where and when the fury of Allah can be called upon. The obvious restriction is that it can only be used against the capitals of Christian (Orthodox and Catholic) kingdoms, and rebels. So, a Moorish excursion to Egypt will have to do without jihad, while it is still a viable option when aiming at Jerusalem or London.

Catholics have the slight problem in that itís nearly impossible to call a crusade within the first 15 turns- I personally have never managed to get one called, even with huge bribes to the Pope that take out my starting treasury, so itís rather unlikely youíll be able to call one before setting off. However, should Catholics migrate to an area that is non-Christian faction-surrounded, a crusade on your nearest threatening rival is a devastating way to take over a second chunk of land, recruiting some pretty awesome mercenaries, boosting the economy, traits of generals, and your own security as a kingdom.

In both cases, pick your target well as you would a crusade in a usual game and gun for it with everything- remember, itís not just some lands youíre aiming to get in the Jihad swoop, itís the future of your faction. Also use the lovely crusade/jihad mercenaries well- Ghazis are nice cheap high morale axemen, while crusader sergeants, while expensive once the religious obligations are filled, can form a dependable core of your army. And I donít think I need to mention the Crusader Knights, do I?

General Strategy

Speed. Thatís basically it in a nutshell. You want to get everything over with as quickly as possible- new cities to give income to catch up on lost ground and your debts, new castles to reinforce your armies, battles over as quickly as possible to prevent casualties, and most definitely less time trudging overland or on a boat to your destination to prevent being waylaid, or worse- sunk by pirates. To avoid pirates, I would recommend when moving ships to move them to the edge of your fog of war under the slow map speed- that way you can stop movements and change course should you see Davy Jones and his mates.

Try to pick off smaller armies running around before they can combine to a decent sized one, and definitely avoid huge garrisons unless youíre something special on siege battles- instead take the lighter-defended settlements and strike where the enemy is weak, even if this means changing the original plan slightly. Battle strategies will also involve this kind of manoeuvring, too- pick off the stragglers with heavy cavalry, hit and run from various directions, and make sure when you engage the strongest units (such as an opposing general), they are far from help and are mobbed by your soldiers. Other, culture-specific tactics are found in the overviews above. In sieges, whenever possible draw the enemy to somewhere where they can be taken from multiple sides- you want them to run as quickly as possible. You are kind of helped by the AI apparently having a fondness for single combat where its knights are concerned in the Vanilla game- mods that tweak the AI behaviour may force you to be even more cunning.


Conclusion and Suggested Migrations

Migration campaigns are great fun to pull off as they bring a completely different spin on a campaign. The factionís usual strengths and weaknesses are often thrown right out the window, and the rulebook has to be redrawn, providing a breath of fresh air to veterans whoíve seen it all before. They also make for interesting stories, for all you After Action Reporters and Role Players out there- why did the people move? What were the implications? How did they manage to tame a wild population unused to their strange new conquerors? The funís not all about the gameplay!

Below are some suggested moves for each faction for your pleasure. I havenít done all of these, but Iíd like to see people try!

  • England- to Novgorod or Spain
  • France- Holy Land
  • Spain- Holy Land or England
  • HRE- Sicily or Holy Land
  • Venice- Holy Land, Constantinople, or Spain
  • Milan- Holy Land or Spain
  • Scotland- Denmark, Novgorod or Spain
  • Portugal- Holy Land or England
  • Denmark- England, Novgorod, or sail round to Constantinople (Yes, you heard right- the original vikings did it so why can't you?)
  • Sicily- Holy Land, Spain, or Denmark (Yep, your hearing is still OK)
  • Moors- Holy Land or England
  • Turks- Italy, Egypt, Spain or North Africa
  • Egypt- Greece, Italy, or North Africa
  • Byzantine Empire- Italy, Egypt, Spain
  • Poland- France (Overland trek)
  • Hungary- Turkey, Holy Land or Southern France
  • Russia- England or Denmark