On Spies

By EnemyofJupitor.

In my last article, I covered the workings of religion. Now we must leave the Cathedral and walk down the road to a building of lesser repute but of equal importance and usefulness- the Brothel, where our slippery friend the spy can be found. Let us brave the... odd sounds and moaning and dive into the world of subterfuge, and meet our friend the Spy.

On His Faction's Secret Service

Spies are a must for when you start going on a conquering rampage, as their skill to check out the enemy and open gates is invaluable. Using this slippery character you can pick and choose your fights carefully, which is especially useful if you have a mainly pike army and you've just discovered the half flag army you've just assaulted is actually a big bunch of experienced heavy infantry. It's not nice when that happens, but with a simple spy you could have avoided that and brought up a better army. Still.

The best thing about spies is that they are available very quickly- a Brothel, which is a low tier, 2 turn, 800 florin-costing structure is the only thing needed. They also have no limits what so ever, unlike the priests and merchants. I do recommend infiltrating an area with a few spies working as a team before unleashing an army because multiple spies in a settlement build up a better picture and improve the chances of opening the gates.

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Fighting the Rot within

However, the enemy also uses this against you, and you may have a spy already in your settlement. So what? As well as having the very nasty side effect of not being to deploy properly at the start of the resulting siege battle, spies heighten unrest in the settlement, meaning you may have to lower taxes, and you'll want to get rid of it. How?

Well, sadly, there isn't too much you can do apart from putting your own spy in the settlement, or having a governor that has public security traits. However, when the spy is chucked out of the settlement 99/100 times they will be visible, and you can then have a pot shot at them with an assassin.

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From Small-time Crook to Royal Spy

The Spy is rated in subterfuge. They gain new levels of subterfuge fairly quickly, either by ancillaries over time, or traits that come from successful missions, usually between 2-5. Unlike the assassin, however, the spy can't escape from a failed mission, and will meet a grisly end, so pick and choose your targets wisely. Luckily, enemy cities are also generally easy to infiltrate, making the spy well worth his salt. Each time you infiltrate a settlement, notice the public order values before and after you've snuck inside. Each spy lowers the public order of a settlement by roughly 5% per subterfuge rating, making the settlement more likely to rebel and cause damage to buildings. This is much more noticeable in a city than a castle, as the latter usually have very good public order, and it's sometimes hard to lower the level down enough to cause a riot. Cities, however (especially the bigger ones) are easy pickings for your spy teams, especially higher level ones. So, if you see a big garrison in a city, don't bother going head on straight away- train some spies, give them a couple of missions to get their levels up and then hit the city with multiple 5+ spies. You can make a city throw off the rulers and replace the huge garrison with (hopefully) a smaller and easier rabble to defend the walls. That's when your army comes a-knocking; sustaining marginally less casualties than if you'd just gone bull headed.

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To train a Thief

A Thieves guild is also one of your best friends if you make use to spies- like all agents you get +1 if your slippery friend is trained with the guild in force locally, another +1 if there is a master guild in your Kingdom wherever you train him, but +2 if you have the HQ. Higher-level buildings of the building strand, such as a coaching house, will improve the odds of a spy getting a better initial subterfuge rating.

Certain factions can train the spy from castle buildings called a Library or an Academy- a lovely ability that you should exploit if you're playing Denmark, Scotland, Hungary or Poland. Like the Brothel, these give unlimited spies, but sadly you still can't have a local Thieves guild in your castle. However, the advantage of having a spy ready to be trained in each settlement is so useful, you'll be using up a fair chunk of your budget just on the immense amount of spies that you recruit on a whim.

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A Note on Gates

Be aware, though, that on the battle map the animation saying that the spy's opened the gates has come up but it isn't actually open, it doesn't mean there's a bug. You have to walk your units next or on a path through the gate for it to open. All gates are taken care of by your spies, too, so if you're assaulting a citadel you merely have to walk up the 3 levels without firing a shot at the walls. Handy, isn't it?

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Well, I hope you found this one as helpful as the last. I've had fun at least by watching all the cool movies, and hopefully you'll be able to witness the cart movie where he actually gets past the gates, and not splintered with a halberd. Also, a big thanks to everyone who's helped me on this, from those who I've bugged on MSN for hours to the forumers who post their pearls of wisdom on the forums.