You can find the earlier parts of this replay here plus a great video by Volko about the historical setting of the game, enjoy!

Christophe here again. You will recall that, in Part 2, my Guelphs were under mounting pressure from my opponent Antoine’s Ghibellines, whose army led by Count Giordano—on its way to Besieging the rebel town of Volterra—defeated my army of Colle and forced it to Withdraw behind its Town gates.

Campaign Strategy for Turn 8

Thanks to an Event card, my Guelphs add a Treachery card to our Command deck. My goal this turn will be to try with a Florentine counterthrust south to Besiege Castle Montespertoli that went over to the Guelphs and from there definitively secure Poggio Bonizio from the Ghibellines via Treachery (as Giordano’s army has moved away from there to the west to go after Volterra). On the other side of Tuscany, to the east, Guido Guerra’s northerners will Besiege Cortona while Orvieto’s papal army from the south will Ravage in that area.

Antoine’s Ghibellines early on in Turn 8 will attempt a Storm of Volterra.

Storm has advantages and drawbacks compared to a Siege:

  • A successful Sack by Storm yields Spoils (Coin, Loot, and Provender—each in number equal to the Value of the Stronghold), the satisfaction due to the troops for having to fight to destroy traitors!
  • And Sack Ruins the Stronghold, which removes the enemy’s ability to spread more Revolts around, not only by removing Enemy Allegiance markers the make adjacent Strongholds eligible for Revolt but also because Ruined Strongholds themselves can never Revolt.
  • However, victory will add a Ruined marker that gives the opponent ½VP. If in Enemy territory, that ½VP is less than the Allegiance 1VP marker(s) that you would have earned for a Siege Surrender. Inside your own territory (as is the case for Antoine’s Ghibelline Storming the rebel Volterra here), you remove the Enemy Allegiance VP but leave your opponent that ½VP for wrecking your own Stronghold’s walls, until you repair them (if you ever do).
  • And it can take more time to Levy the Capabilities and Forces you will need to make the assault with any confidence.
  • Most critically, you risk losing units, perhaps many, and occasionally enough to finish off a Lord.

Here you can see the Ghibelline Forces and Capabilities Arrayed for the Storm of Volterra. Note the SIEGE TOWERS Capability that, similar to SUDDEN CLASH in a field Battle, allows the Attacker to change the sequence of the Storm. With that card, Siena’s Attackers will Strike first from Round 2 on.

In the fight, the Attackers’ Losses for Storm turn out to be relatively low in total.

After a successful Storm, all Cavalieri that were part of the Garrison (here, 2 units, the green wedges) go into the Enemy’s Captured Knights box, to be Ransomed at the end of the turn.

The 2 Revolt rolls for the fall of Volterra land on San Giovanni and Arezzo, neither of which Stronghold is Revolts, as neither is adjacent to Ghibelline Allegiance markers or Lords (and the Guelph Lord Guido, still near Arezzo, anyway blocks that Town’s eligibility for Revolt).

Next is my attempt with Firenze, which has reached and is Besieging Montespertoli, at a Treachery roll against the adjacent Town of Poggio Bonizio. That attempt fails for me again, with rolls of 3 and 6 (both dice needing to be equal or lower than the Coin committed, which is at most 4 Coin).

From Turn 9 of this full-length scenario on, a new mechanic appears: Exhaustion. Simulating the tiredness of both sides in the war, at start of each turn from Turn 9 onwards we roll a die: a 1-3 moves the End marker one box left; a roll of 4-6 has no effect. Neither player can be quite sure how much more time there will be to complete a strategy for victory.

Here is our Calendar situation at the start of Turn 9, after the first Exhaust roll has introduced the End marker to Calendar box 16: the game will not run past Turn 15 at least. As you can see, VP are 10 for Antoine’s Ghibellines versus 4½ for my struggling Guelphs. What is more, my southern army from Orvieto has Disbanded, not to be Ready for Levy again until the Winter (Turn 12).

Campaign Strategy for Turn 9

My Guelphs want to desperately use that GROSSETO Event card they have drawn earlier in the game, and for that we will use Guido Guerra. That will be his mission.

As Colle’s Podestà Lord is inside his Main seat, he is still able to Muster and survive a prolonged Siege.

Meanwhile, Firenze’s Podestà will continue to protect its City’s north-central environs as best he can.

The Ghibelline advance is slowing down a bit. They have not yet recovered their Losses from the various Battles. The more numerous Guelph Troops might now start to overpower the Ghibellines if nothing is done to beat them while separated.

To achieve that, the Ghibellines intend to catch Firenze’s army in an AMBUSH.

Meanwhile … finally Cortona Surrenders to the Guelphs! Following the sequence for Surrendering a Town, the victor gains 2 Treachery cards plus gets to roll twice on the Revolt Table. My Guelphs’ first Revolt table roll lands on a Stronghold that is too far from the action to Revolt. My second Revolt roll …

… results in an “X” over a Ghibelline Allegiance marker.

This means that—under the right conditions—a Revolt will now remove Ghibelline Allegiance markers from a Stronghold printed on the map as Guelph. That is, the Revolt will benefit me by ending a rebellion within my own territory—the rebels will give up or be cast out by loyalists inside the walls. And I get to pick which!

Returning on the Revolt & Treachery aid sheet to Revolt Tables – How to Roll and reading the bullet that begins If “X?”

First, we need to find a Stronghold with Enemy (here, Ghibelline) markers that is eligible for Revolt (as always with Revolt rolls). That is, the target rebel Stronghold must have no Lord Friendly to it (here, no Ghibelline Lord) there or adjacent. Then as well, per the If “X?” bullet, there must be a Lord Friendly to the Revolting side (my Guelphs) at or adjacent to that otherwise eligible Stronghold for this Revolt to succeed. In short, this Revolt requires Ghibelline rebels with a Guelph but no Ghibelline army around.

Scanning across Guelph territory on the map (see the Campaign Strategy illustration above), we can see that Empoli, San Gimignano, Poggio Bonizio, and Montespertoli all bear Ghibelline Allegiance markers. Three of them, Empoli, Montespertoli, and Poggio Bonizio, are at or adjacent to a Guelph Lord (the Florentines Besieging Montespertoli). Of those, Poggio Bonizio has the Sienese army with Count Giordano adjacent, so is protected from any Revolt. My Guelphs must choose between Montespertoli and Empoli for removal of Ghibelline Allegiance.

I choose Empoli, since my Florentines are already Besieging Montespertoli and expect soon to take back themselves by force. They could not have been more wrong!

The Relief of Montespertoli

Now the Ghibellines, fearing for their holdings around the Montespertoli area, gather all their forces to fight against Firenze. The AMBUSH card comes in handy, as Firenze is now forced to fight at least briefly against hopelessly superior numbers. …

To add even more disarray for the Guelphs, traitors within their ranks defect to the Ghibelline side!
The Ghibelline host Arrayed for Battle.

But those traitors were not aware of Firenze’s skillful plan to attack the enemy camp. Florentines steal all the resources the Ghibellines had gathered, and Firenze’s army immediately starts a retreat in good order (Concedes the Field).

If this is a victory for the Ghibellines, it is a pyrrhic one for sure. The clash has broken the Ghibelline war treasury. But will that be enough to turn the tide of this war?

Spreading Revolt

At start of turn 10, two things happen:

First, the Exhaustion roll again shortens the expected length of the conflict, shifting the End marker from box 16 to 15—we have at most 5 turns left to play (Turns 10 to 14).

Second, with the Event VOLTERRA, the Ghibellines’ reconquest of the Town of Volterra now proves a blessing for them. Volterra begins the game in Guelph rebellion, but if it is Ghibelline-aligned when this card comes up, it allows the Ghibellines to shorten Guelph Colle’s Service by 2 turns (the from nearby rival Volterra distracts Colle from the larger conflict). Here, the Service marker shift to the left forces Colle’s army to Disband Beyond Service. (Colle Service marker is at Turn 8, and the current turn is 10).

In Inferno, the effect of Disband Beyond Service depends on what type of Lord is Disbanding:

  • If a regular Lord rather than an urban Podestà (mayor or magistrate), the Enemy player gets to roll 1 time on the Revolt table and add 1 Treachery card. As in earlier Levy & Campaign games, the non-Podestà Lord is removed from play for the rest of the scenario.
  • If a Podestà, however, the Enemy player rolls 3 times on the Revolt table and adds 3 Treachery cards. In this case, the Podestà Lord Disbands back onto the Calendar and is not removed from play.

Colle’s Lord is a Podestà, so Antoine gets 3 shots at Revolts now. Referring to the “Revolt Against Guelphs table below …

His first roll hits Cortona, which you will recall Surrendered to the Guelph army of Guido Guerra in early Summer (the previous turn). When the Stronghold indicated has no Ghibelline Allegiance or Lord nearby to encourage rebellion, no effect.

Antoine’s next roll lands on the Guelph Castle of Montelupo. The Ghibellines have Lords and an Allegiance marker adjacent. (Either would do.) But Firenze’s forces are around to protect its loyalists inside the Castle: no effect.

His final roll comes up “Barberino”. Ghibelline Allegiance markers adjacent to Barberino at Poggio Bonizio and the absence of any Guelph army nearby to protect it allows Ghibelline Revolt to spread to the Castle! That adds another 1VP to Antoine’s score against me.

Call to Arms!

My Guelphs’ increasingly desperate situation will lead us to a new part of the game this turn, which we have so far mentioned only quickly: “War”.

In Inferno, declaring War is the only way to carry out the extra, mutual Levy routine of a Call to Arms. Declaring War requires either that the side has drawn a War card (which has not occurred here), or that the side is down against the opponent by at least 4 victory points.

My Guelphs after the fall of Castle Barbarino are now exactly 4 VP down, (Guelph 3½ VP to Ghibelline 7½ VP), so we are eligible to declare War and Muster the great City of Firenze’s full military force.

Call to Arms in the Levy phase follows the normal Muster by Lords. It involves a sequence of somewhat more complicated steps. But it occurs only now or then over the course of a game. We just go down the steps listed on the Sequence of Play (above). Regardless of who declared the War, Firenze’s Guelphs complete all the steps, then Siena’s Ghibellines do the same. (Here, we just describe each bit for both.)

[a] Gather enables armies already in the field to move toward one another to form a larger allied army at or near their side’s Leading City. During Muster, I had already brought Lucca’s army in the northwest and Arezzo’s in the east into the field. Now they each get to do a free March toward Firenze to join up with their Commander there, Firenze’s Podestà. Antoine’s Ghibellines, for their part, March Siena’s Capitaneus Provenzano out of recently conquered Guelph lands to their Leading City of Siena, where that Podestà will Muster its “Comune”.

[b] and [c] After Gathering, Firenze and Siena each may Disband and then immediately Muster into their Leading City. There, they may then Muster the full force of their republic—Special Vassals (“Sestieri” and “Terzi”, respectively) representing trained militias raised by each district in the City, all fielded in the game onto separate Comune mats with separate Comune cylinders, to accommodate the large numbers of units. The Comune cylinder counts as a second Lord for combat but always stays with its Commander cylinder, similar to a permanent Lower Lord of Lieutenant. Each Comune has a “Carroccio” that grant an advantage in Battle but may be captured by the Enemy for VP.

Siena’s Comune & Firenze’s Comune

Note that Firenze, a much larger City than Siena, can generate a rather larger communal army. This is among the reasons that I saw a Call to Arms now—even though my opponent gets one too—as beneficial to my Guelphs’ prospects for victory in the conflict.

[d] Lastly, each side’s alliance provides one final push for the War, a free Muster of or by one Lord. For example, a side can use this added “Allies” Muster to mobilize specialist crossbowmen and shieldmen (BALESTRIERI and PALVESARI Capability cards) for its freshly raised Comune.

Campaign Strategy for Turn 10

Historically, by the way, there was a great mobilization for war by both side at about the time of this turn, in the Summer of 1260, which climaxed that September in the colossal Battle of Montaperti, a bloody Guelph defeat.

Here is our situation after the Call to Arms, showing each side’s immediate plans. …

Guelph strategy: Unfortunately, Guido Guerra after his March into the south will not be able to commit any Treachery directly against Grosseto, as the Ghibellines have now Mustered the Count of Santa Fiora there to defend that Town. My other Guelph Lords will prepare for maximum action later by Taxing Firenze. They are preparing for a huge-scale invasion of Ghibelline territory!

Ghibelline strategy: With many Treachery cards at their disposal, the Ghibelline’s main goal for now is to recover from the recent Battle’s CAMP ATTACK by Firenze and attempt Treachery at Colle, whose army has Disbanded and so can no longer protect against that. Turning Colle’s Seat against the Guelphs would effectively block Colle’s currently Disbanded Podestà from Mustering again, as Colle’s second Seats at San Gimignano is already Ghibelline in Allegiance.

In this Treachery, Antoine’s Sienese succeed, much hampering the Guelph ability to regain any foothold in that central area.

The Departure of Provenzano

If the Events draw of Turn 10 was bad for the Guelphs, Turn 11’s Events are equally so for the Ghibellines. Siena’s busy captain, Provenzano, must be sent off as an ambassador, as my Guelphs under Guido are Besieging the Ghibelline Lord Santa Fiora inside Siena’s ally Grosseto.

With Siena’s war chest not yet recovered from the expensive Battle at Montespertoli that July, Provenzano is unable to Pay his troops to keep the field; they Disband Beyond Service.

Provenzano is not a Podestà, so Disband Beyond Service sends him out of the game for good. The Guelphs get to grab a single Treachery card and make 1 Revolt table roll.

My Guelph Revolt roll targets the Ghibelline Castle of Vicopisano. Nearby Lucca and Vecliano are Guelph. But only Allegiance markers (that is, rebellion against the usual authority) or Lords (an army) adjacent, not just an inherently Friendly Stronghold, will trigger Revolt. Here: no effect.

Meanwhile, the Exhaustion roll again shifts the End marker left. We have a maximum of 3 turns to go: Turns 11, 12, and 13.

Campaign Strategy for Turn 11

Guelph strategy: Knowing that we are 5½ VP behind, I must take risky actions and hope for lucky Treachery rolls. For that to be possible, there is no other way than to strike directly at the Ghibellines’ heart: Montepulciano and Asinalunga. I will have the help of a nearby refuge at Montalcino, whose rebel citizens have stayed loyal to the Guelphs since the beginning. For this maneuver, we will take the Road that allows for greater Transport capacity, since we will be Feeding a lot of Troops each time the army moves.

Ghibelline strategy: They are rid of Colle, but they have lost Provenzano. That means they are at an overall disadvantage against the Guelphs in terms of pure military power, contrary to what has been the case since the start. Holding gains, massing armies, and protecting Siena at all costs is Antoine’s priority.

The Campaign starts well for the Ghibelline allied Pisans, who succeed in having the Town of San Miniato betray the Guelphs and join the Ghibelline side.

But the Guelphs, for once, finally manage to succeed at Treachery. … After the massive Guelph army’s arrival outside the gates of Montepulciano, Firenze attempts to over Castle Chianciano just to the south—thanks to a Held Event, an automatic success!

The Reduction of Montepulciano

While the Ghibellines cautiously mass their forces at Siena, the Guelphs not far away advance their Siegeworks to prepare for a Storm of Montepulciano’s walls.

The more you prepare your attempt to Storm a Stronghold, the smaller your losses are going to be!

Our Storm of Montepulciano in this case goes very smoothly. We have brought some Capabilities along to enhance our grand army’s efficiency in the assault. Arezzo has GUASTATORI to accelerate our construction of protective works, and Firenze’s Comune has PALVESARI and BALESTRIERI to help us to annihilate all Defenders. (You can see these card’s effect texts shown below.)

The successful Storm (called a “Sack”) of Montepulciano reduces the Stronghold to Ruins, awarding the Guelph victors a purple ½ VP Ruined marker. Surrender by Siege would have yielded 2VP, but it is slower that Storm and grants no Spoils from the Town (due to the necessary granting of Terms to obtain the Surrender).

Revolt rolls for the conquest of the Town (Value 2) yield no more success. The first targets Rocca Sillana, a Castle in a now quiet part of Tuscany just south of Volterra (the Storming of which by the Ghibellines proving one more time to have been the right thing to do). The second roll lands on Montepulciano … which the Guelphs just razed to the ground. (Ruined Strongholds do not spread Revolt.)

Campaign Strategy for Turn 12

Guelph strategy: Now 6VP behind, I must take even higher risks. The populace of Tuscany is sensing the direction of the conflict: my Revolt rolls have not succeeded, while Ghibelline ones have. Grosseto (for 2 VP), Ravage (for ½ VP), and Treachery at Asinalunga (another 2 VP) are our objectives for this turn for a shot at winning. Maybe a bit of luck with our Treachery card will turn fate?

Ghibelline strategy: In order to deny the Guelphs the ability to continue to invade to the south, Ghibelline forces will have to take action. Getting more VP is going to be hard, so Antoine’s current focus will be to deny the Enemy the ability to reach the ever suspect inhabitants of Grosseto.

Hopefully, some Events we currently Hold might force the decision: to do Treachery card rolls the Guelph needs Coin, which can be stolen through another CAMP ATTACK.

In the Campaign, the Ghibellines are not quick enough to deny the Guelph Luccans the ability to get to Grosseto and persuade over to the Guelph case. But Siena’s host is able to catch the rest of the army, where the threat of AMBUSH forces a Battle. This will be the “Montaperti” of our game!

Antoine’s Ghibelline Horse mires in SWAMP, forbidding the bulk of his Forces from Striking in Round 1. But they still manage a CAMP ATTACK, on the Guelphs, destroying almost all of our Assets.

The Battle Array

Guelph Cavalieri and Palvesari quickly all but obliterate the Ghibelline Lords. But the Calendar situation in the aftermath of the Battle is critical for both sides, as most Lords’ Service period is almost run. The Guelph baggage train like Guelph bellies are empty after the fight—they break camp and go home!

Normally, a side that Retreats—the Ghibellines in this case—has to roll a die for each Retreating Lord resulting in shortened Service by 1, 2, or 3 turns.

Fortunately for the Ghibellines, they Conceded for an orderly escape with Siena’s well-guarded sacred communal Carroccio oxcart (on Siena’s Comune mat). All Lords Retreating with a Carroccio automatically shift by only a single 60-day box on the Calendar.

The Ghibelline coalition recovers after its defeat on the field of Battle.

The Retreating Ghibellines are also able to Feed or Pay their Lords, which the Guelphs after suffering the Enemy CAMP ATTACK are not able to do…

Campaign Strategy for Turn 13

By Exhaustion, the game will end this turn.

For the Guelphs, all hope for victory is lost, entering the final 60 Days with a disadvantage in conquests and a bruised but still mighty Ghibelline army out there. We have made up some of the victory point deficit in the recent Campaign, reducing the Ghibelline lead from 6 to 3½ VP. But the time and energy to make up enough of the rest has run out.

The Ghibellines’ general victory is assured now. But a Sienese Siege of Montalcino to extend their lead is still doable despite their quite depleted Forces.


The Last Blows

To forestall Montalcino’s fall, my Guelphs send some experts in GREEK FIRE to wreck the Ghibelline Siegeworks.

Meanwhile, the Guelphs of Lucca, who escaped the great hunger after Battle, set some fires of their own, Ravaging lands of the Tuscan south in their vengeance. (Each Ravaged Locale on Enemy ground yields ½VP.) It punishes Siena, but not enough.

I hope that you have enjoyed this replay of Tuscan wars of the mid-13th Century and will get a chance to try an Inferno of your own! – Christophe Correia

Situation at game end: Antoine’s Ghibellines win, 11VP to 9!