Magistral Guard Infantry
"...[I]t is more difficult to bring a republic, armed with its own arms, under the sway of one of its citizens than it is to bring one armed with foreign arms."
— Niccolò Machiavelli, Il Principe (Cap XII)
Despite their somewhat bombastic appearance, with turbans and plumes, Magistral Guard Infantry however are a force to be reckoned with. With their long-hafted polearms and their shields, these troops are not only are they as strong as an Imperial-Era halberdier, but also have enhanced armour and an added propensity to make the wives of heavy infantry and knights widows in proper numbers. Against more lightly armed foes, such as light infantry, these men also do well, with their sturdy rawhide shields and composite armour, consisting of a mixture of mail, plate and brigandine.
That said, however, there are several reasons why the Magistral Guard Infantry do not always make an appearance in Italian armies all the time. The first is their cost. Although consuming the same amounts of food as do most medium infantrymen, these units however have a cost of wealth as opposed to timber, making each first instance worth 70 food and 60 wealth each. The second is the fact that they are trained only from Castles, making them available only to whomsoever has one. It should also be noted, too, that like infantry, they are also subceptible to ranged cavalry that can outrun them. So, while these units are superb fighters, capable of taking out a variety of enemies, one should not overly rely on them, instead mixing them in with the usual espadachines, archers, and pike guards to create a proper infantry army.
- Innovative medium-to-heavy infantry unit, with sufficient armour to make it capable of withstanding heavy cavalry in sufficient numbers — arguably the best polearm unit in the game.
- Widowmakers — Although classified as a polearms unit, Magistral Guard Infantry can easily overcome most melee infantry, and can cause serious damage to cavalry.
- If You Can't Have It, Nobody Will — The high cost and exclusivity of Magistral Guard Infantry makes it impractical to train in large numbers, so they must have support at all times from other infantry. This is especially so if facing ranged cavalry such as mounted skirmishers or horse archers.
The Magistral Guard Infantry was once a Wonder-based unit, but it was decided to redesignate them to two of the Italian factions.
By the onset of the 13th century, the city-states of northern Italy were feeling the effects of a power struggle within the Holy Roman Empire, with the Papacy (based in Rome) vying for greater control over the Emperor based in Germany (and southern Italy during the rule of Friedrich II Hohenstaufen). With tensions running high, it was unsurprising that rival nobles would often choose to either support the Papacy or the Emperor himself, depending on their motivations for doing so, and Italy too was not spared from this. Thus, it was often vital that the lords of the Italian cities attempt to keep weapons out of the hands of potential troublemakers, and put them instead at the disposal of other parties whose loyalty was without question. Over time, the quasi-democratic Italian city-states soon became petty dictatorships, each under the rule of a Duke, forming the nucleus of the first Italian mercenary companies, the infamous condottieri.