Papal States/Strategic Overview

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Faction Overview Strategic Overview History

  • Strengths: Good cultural bonuses that can be useful for "combat engineering" - constructing towers and repairing cities
  • Weaknesses: Poor assortment of specialised units - although they are very powerful, the effect they have is highly situational. Lack of proper field skirmishing and costly heavy cavalry mean that a single mistake made in the field can be difficult to escape from.

The first thing that comes to mind when one plays the Papal States are two words: "tower rush!" Indeed, the Papal States has one of the most valuable bonuses in the game: towers are not only cheaper, but are also more easily built given the Papal States' control of Central Italy's iron and marble mines. This means that heavy units, siege weapons and towers and fortifications all benefit from it, since the Papal States can count on better units - or more Towers - owing to the Metal savings from Tower construction.

The Papal States have access to some of the most powerful units in Rise of Kings: the Orsini Marksman line have a strong crossbow-based attack, which in fact rivals that of the ballista, and have the ability to cloak when not moving; their unique heavy cavalry unit, the Elmetti is tactically the best cavalry in the game (it is very strong, but suffers from a variety of problems); and the Pontiff's Inquisitor is the ultimate scout and anti-spy unit. Like Venice, Peasant Levy in the Papal States can be upgraded to Urban Militia, who are tougher, stronger and can be used in battle. However, this comes at a cost - the Papal States also happen to have some of the most expensive unique units. The Orsini archer, while it has a very powerful attack, has a slower rate of fire and the condottieri line, despite having an immense attack that can kill other cavalry units with ease, has a high ramp cost in wealth. Unlike Venice, the Papal States cannot readily bounce back if its military units are destroyed in battle, especially so during the late game, when it is reliant on Pavise Arbalest Infantry and Elmetti.

Due to the effectiveness of their unique units, when they have a lot of resources, a Papal States army can really just rely on their archers, heavy cavalry, and inquisitors. Their heavy cavalry are only weak against heavy infantry and can easily defeat all other types of units, their archers are a perfect counter to enemy heavy infantry, and the inquisitors can seek and destroy any enemy spies who are trying to bribe some of the Papal States' units. An ideal setup for any game is to always escort your archers with heavy infantry and militant clerics - the heavy infantry make short work of cavalry charges, while militant clerics should be able to assist in healing and protecting your archers. Alternatively, use the archers' ability to sneak up to your opponent to cause some serious damage by peppering her flanks with quarrels or by just distracting her.

These units aside, the Papal States like Venice and Burgundy have access to Urban Militia, which are actually militia armed with swords and shields, and Levy Crossbowmen. These units are substantially stronger than normal levy units, but are still not good enough to use against stronger forces. On the other hand, it would be wise to use them to screen your more vulnerable crossbowmen if facing a set-piece battle with opponents with less powerful but more reliable units.

While religion is a factor often not bothered about by offense-minded players of the traditional vanilla game, religion takes on a new dimension in Rise of Kings: it is required to upgrade your chivalric orders. Being able to get free-upgrading chivalric order knights means that a substantial amount of resources can be saved, meaning that they will prove an important component of your army. Cheaper towers too also can be a boon too, in that you can build many towers. Unlike units, towers do not cost population and can be deployed around hotspots to help support your units if they are nearly beaten.

So the Papal States are one of the most difficult factions to play, because if they have few resources in a game, it can be quite troublesome for them to train an effective army. However, with enough resources, the Papal States are an extremely potent faction.

Papal States Flag.gif

Faction summary[edit]

  • Powerful faction, but heavily reliant on costly units and production of wealth.
  • Cost cutting — Try to optimise what you build or train, with an eye to countering your enemies' units.
  • Discount Defence Store — While Towers are cheap, they are better off being built around cities to guard trade routes and harass invading forces, such as Mongolia or the Saracens.
  • Intelligence Factor — Never stop spying. Keep tabs on your enemies at all times.
  • Bank Book and Cheque — Do not neglect your taxation dues, trade and universities: you need wealth and knowledge to create chivalric orders and your unique units.

Best age(s): [edit]

Castle Age to early Imperial. Once an army is lost in the field, however, it is hard for the Papal States to recover back, thus the Papal States will have to be very, very careful in who it engages.


In the Portuguese version of Rise of Kings, the Papal States are instead renamed as the "Italians", and their leaders are replaced by Italian military leaders instead of popes.

Strategic Overview
Papal States Flag.gif
Basic gameplay Renovatio Europam