"Glory, my lord? I would find glory in marching alongside you, hewing down my countrymen, and looting shoulder to shoulder with your sainted knights? Perhaps. Perhaps I would. But this old fort is the glory given to me. I have a charge to guard it still, and can abandon it at no cost. You have enemies beyond your rivals for the throne, my lord, whether you ken it or no. And it is my duty to the Empire of Lyssan to see that this fort stays guarded against them, for the day they will surely march again.
May the gods smile upon you, my lord. Know that even as you march to war, you are watched over. The Eagle's Guard has a duty, and that duty shall never be betrayed."
- General Klaus Drendt, to the Contender Emperor Gustav Heiner
You will find them on the frontiers of the empire, manning the oldest fortresses. They watch over roads that no army has marched for a hundred years, yet they keep their swords as sharp as if war would break out the very next day. They have not fought for a generation, yet veterans of a dozen battles speak of them with respect. They are The Eagle's Guard.
Each of the contenders have tried to gain their fealty. The Wolf offered them fame and glory. The Hawk plied them with riches and power. And what The Vulture offered them, none could say. Of all the contenders to visit The Eagle's Nest, he remained there the longest. It is said that when he left that oldest fortress, that the general embraced him as a brother. Yet all the contenders rode away alone. None have found the key to make The Eagle's Guard abandon neutrality and march from their posts. The fate of Lyssan may be decided on the day they do.
"You're visiting to see my gardens! My heavens, young man. You're a naughty one. You're here to talk with General von Bremer, of course. You'll be wanting to convince him that he'd be better off taking the coin of that horrid pretender you serve. You thought I wouldn't know?
But I'm boring you. You're fast asleep. Just like my third husband, Lord Meched. He nodded off during tea as well. Duke Bjarrnae, my seventh husband, he was the same way. Or was he my ninth?
Oh, where has my memory gone? It must be all the arsenic. Or was it the belladonna?"
Two types of agents serve you in your struggle to unite Lyssan: Armies and infiltrators. Knights and nobles command armies. They fight each other, control territory, and keep the local gentry paying their taxes to the one true Emperor of Lyssan. That would be you. Spies and priests are infiltrators. They do their work in territory your rivals control. Armies can't harm infiltrators and infiltrators can't hurt armies.
Unless you have the right surprise ready.
Old Age and Treachery lets a noble bump off a spy or priest. It's an archetypical surprise card. Spies and priests glide past bumbling nobles day in and day out, until one day they step into the court of a lord who knows a bit more than they let on. A nosy spy or an older brother in line for the throne. Either can be invited out to hunting party that ends in tragedy. A relative who entered the priesthood to sidestep the family politics, or one who's tampering in affairs for a distant lord's sake. Either could expire after a brief but convincing illness, with the help of a sympathetic apothecary. And the advantage of sitting on the throne is that no one asks the inconvenient questions afterwards.
"Battles leave empty thrones, my son. Your grandfather, Karl vor Hornberg, was a commoner, and a sell-sword, with only two men under his command: His brothers. By the Battle of Witges he commanded a platoon, and the Duke awarded him the now-vacant knighthood of the recently deceased traitor family von Kleist. By the time I took over the company, we had three battalions and a barony. For my support in the Battle of Keldbrukke, His Majesty, King Jerger awarded me the recently vacated Duchy of Beidebaum. You now take command of the greatest army west of the Neiße river. See to it that your son is called King."
- Kristof von Hornberg to his son, Ulrich von Hornberg, on the occasion of his 18th birthday.
Recruiting vassals is one of the keys to winning Lyssan. A vassal is an influence card representing an alliance with a powerful faction within the Empire. The von Hornbergs are one of these: a noble family that built their power a gallon of blood at a time, working their way up through the gentry by fighting in every major battle and having a knack for choosing the winning side.
Vassals give a player an immediate influx of units, and the ability to hire more agents of a type than they would normally be allowed. In a game were the final victory point can come from fielding the most knights or priests or spies, this can make the difference between winning and losing!
Only one can't depend on vassals. The alliance with the vassal is a 'holding', and holdings can be stolen by enemy spies, given the chance. When a vassal card moves from one player to another, the agents from the vassal also swap sides!