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Mercenary captains are either capable men or they are not; if they are, you cannot trust them, because they always aspire to their own greatness, either by oppressing you, who are their master, or others contrary to your intentions; but if the captain is not skilful, you are ruined in the usual way.

— Niccolò Machiavelli, Il Principe (Cap XII)

In game[edit]

Elmetti — Vital statistics

Heavy cavalryman, arguably the best in the game. And also the costliest.

Prereq: Build time HP LOS Attack Attack speed Movement
Upgrade of
  • Mechanised Metalworking Metallurgy
  • Quartermasters Logistics
200 None 22 5.9s

Knight merc.png

Cost Created from Armour Weapon range Specialty
Base Ramp Pop
Ore.png: 90;
Wealth.jpg: 80
Ore.png: 2;
Wealth.jpg: 6


7 Melee
  • Bonus damage versus light infantry.
  • Defensive bonus versus Archers.
  • Attack penalty versus camel cavalry and elephants.

Papal States.jpg Venice.jpg

Overall strategy[edit]

Communal warfare and commercial competition between Italian city-states have given rise to a class of mercenaries, the condottieri, named after a condotta, the contract between these fighters and their clients. The Elmetti is a cavalry unit in an army of condottieri, and is known for its intimidating stats, jet-black armour and trappings, as well as its pricetag which all reflect the dark nature of these units.

As such, you can be assured of having an extremely heavy cavalry unit capable of breaking down even the weaker pikemen of Asian and Muslim factions, so long as you have the money and wealth to do so. Price aside, the Elmetti is based off the French gendarme, except that it also has the hitpoints of the Polish Towarzsyz, and the added armour of the German Reichsritter. Put these with the French propensity for added upgrade speed and attack, and you get a a unit which is a nightmare to face. Note, however, that they have rather poor LOS: in fact, Elmetti have the worst LOS in the game, making them extremely vulnerable to spies. Elmetti can make easy games versus AI players very easy, or hard games very hard, due to the computer's ability to train and use spies being increased on each difficulty level beyond "Intermediate". As usual, Pikemen and Billmen are an Elmetti’s worst nightmare, without even any need of mentioning the Spanish Tercios. The Muslim factions as well as Spain are especially a terrible foe for the Papal States and Venice, given Spain's propensity for scouts and the Muslims' use of Fedayeen can spread mayhem in a player's ranks — each Elmetti, already costing so much in wealth, will cause even more trouble if left to their own devices. Thus, escort these troops with scouts at all times, or else you may face their fury if an enemy should successfully turn them against you!

Unit summary[edit]

  • Shiny Happy People Holding Spears — Men at Arms are fairly slow, but still fast enough to chase and hunt down lightly infantry, and also are the bane of light or medium cavalry. Their main weakness is in being swarmed — or being force-fed into a grinder of spearwalls, such as those at Kortrijk.
  • Elmetti have rather poor LOS and mobility, making them extremely vulnerable to spies. Escort these troops with scouts to prevent them from turning. The Papal Inquisitor is a very useful unit to have since he will be able to keep spies and agents from getting near your units.
  • If you are facing Elmetti, your best bet is to use spies and heavy infantry. Factions like Spain can supply powerful infantry armies that can grind up cavalry. Muslim Fedayeen are very good for taking on Elmetti-heavy troops by turning them, but you must isolate them first from their cover in order to take them apart.


In the late mediaeval period, most Italian city-states had become rich through trade, yet their relatively small geographic size meant that the raising of armies posed logistical problems. Thus, mercenaries, known as condottieri, formed a great component of many Italian city-states of the period. The main unit in a condottieri army was the barbuta, consisting of a cavalryman, and a sergeant on foot. With conflicts throughout Europe and the Middle East, there was simply no lack of supply for potential mercenaries for the Italians. Condottieri bands weren't just Italian, but also featured men of Spanish, German, French, Breton and even English extraction. However, this dependency on mercenaries caused problems: in some cases, the mercenaries involved would not just fight for the city-states which hired them, but would even turn on their former clients, sometimes even becoming the masters of the same. The Sforzas initially started off from humble beginnings as condottieri in the service of the Visconti who ruled Milan, before entangling themselves in a succession crisis during the 14th century, and soon became the city's rulers, reigning for well over a century or two.