He is a captain who may turn up for hire after you conquer a city or develop a new military training technology. As a captain, you can assign him to an airship or landship to use him in combat.
Due to his inexperience, crew actually move a bit more slowly under his command, but his recent education also makes his ship significantly safer, halving the chance of it catching fire. Plus, his ship is ready for new commands twice as fast.
He has a single activated ability, Flank, which he can use once per combat. Flank allows him to instantly move his ship to a location on the far end of the battlefield.
So if the enemy has one of those buildings with cannons sticking only out of one side, he can entirely circumvent them and destroy the building from its vulnerable rear.
Bertelli has two stats, Experience and Pride, which are influenced by events in your empire. He gains in experience from victories and defeats equally, but victories, and especially other empires submitting to yours, really inflate his pride.
If he hits 100 pride before 100 experience, he evolves into Commodore Bertelli, who does have more abilities, but does not especially inspire his men:
The commodore has three abilities:
Double Time, which rapidly increases crew speed for a while. Disarm, which lets his ship target enemy weapons with extreme accuracy. Cripple, which does the same for enemy propulsion:
And now he has a loyalty stat instead - victories, tribute, submission to feed his ego, and he'll be loyal and stay. But if your empire is humbled, he'll seek employment elsewhere.
(Tribute means paying a proportion of your income to another empire. Submission means you transfer some of your reputation to another.)
But if Commander Bertelli reaches 100 experience first, he turns into Captain Bertelli, a well-tempered heroic officer who can potentially win you the entire game:
Under Captain Bertelli, crew move faster and gain more experience after each battle, further strenghening them. He retains the flank ability and also has the cripple ability of his counterpart, and he also has Burst of Speed, which allows his ship to move much faster for a short while.
He too has a loyalty score which reflects his sense of fairness, as he wants you to refrain from tribute and submission, giving and taking.
But then he also has a Fame score, and this score has a little laurel wreath icon at the end, which means that if it hits 100, his fame is so great that he is able to unite the scattered nations under his command - winning you the game.
The road there is a long one - twenty-five combat victories, and every defeat, and every show of subterfuge and weakness makes it take even longer. But again, you will literally win the game, so perhaps it's worth investing in this man.
There are several heroes, both captains and governors, that can win the game. All of them have to evolve into a more powerful form first, and then build up a stat to 100. Any such contenders are also shown in the top right of the map screen, allowing you to keep track of who might be close to winning - so you can do something about it.
After all, if their empire is in ruins, even fame won't save them.
Tomorrow, we look at Viviane Garcia, a socialite and another potential game-winner. And if you enjoyed this, do wishlist Heroes & Villains on Steam.