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Peasant Phill

Total war absolute beginners guide part 3

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Unit's and there uses to come

If you know the enemy and know yourself, your victory will not stand in doubt; if you know Heaven and know Earth, you may make your victory complete. Sun Tzu

Every unit has a role or a niche. Combining these roles well will increase your success significantly.


For all the fancy Tactics and special units, no general can go without infantry. It’s more than likely that your army will consist mainly of infantry.

Peasant units are at the lower tiers. Although they can perform a number of tasks, there is certainly another unit available that can do it better. The Achilles heel of these units is their morale. If used in battle you’ll have to be mindful of this and support them well. Their upside is of course their minimal cost.
They are best used as garrison troops or as throw-away units. Early, they can help adding bulk to your army. Be careful when using them as reserve units as seeing others rout might mean that they won’t even engage in combat before taking off themselves.

Ranged units are the only ones able to create a beaten zone or to soften up the defense before attacking. Ranged units have difficulty hitting moving targets, especially when the target is moving quickly so you should try to target stationary or slow units where possible. Bowmen shoot in an arch which make them ideal to shoot over obstacles or over friendly units.
Generally speaking most missile units are rubbish in a melee. Because of their low combat ability you should try to keep your ranged units far away from hand to hand unless you are very desperate for more bodies to throw at the enemy.

Melee infantry can be divided into two categories: offensive and defensive orientated units. Defensive infantry is the backbone of an army. They will stop the advances and charges of enemy units. They provide a base from which others can launch attacks and retreat behind. Their job isn’t to kill but to defend other units or to pin down enemy units so they can be flanked. Defensive infantry can also be used to delay the enemy while you fight elsewhere or rush additional units to the scene. They are excellent at holding important locations and adding cheap, capable bulk to an army.
They have decent morale and a high defensive stat. Spearmen are the schoolbook example of a defensive unit.

Your offensive infantry will do most of the killing. Ideally, an offensive melee infantry unit should have good mobility for flanking, a high melee stat, decent morale and be able to last long enough to be used multiple times. There are however a lot of unorthodox offensive infantry types that can work just as well. There probably 3 archetypical offensive infantry:
You have fire-and-forget units (point them at the enemy and let them loose). They’re fast, they kill quickly but don’t expect them to survive. To be of use Fire-and-forget troops should have decent morale (to fight on when most of the unit inevitably dies) and low cost (to make it worth constantly replacing them).
Next up are the so called bread-and-butter of an army. These are the all-round infantry. They are decent in everything but don’t excel in anything. It’ll take some time for them to take out their target but they will get it done eventually with a lower mortality rate. The aspect where they really shine is there flexibility though.
Last are the tanks. These behemoths are slow to get into position but once there, almost nothing can stop them. They’ll be in trouble against a mobile enemy but shine when they can start hacking.


Mobility is a great asset on the battlefield. To be at one place at one moment and at another the next, can cause a great difference to the result of a battle.

Heavy Cavalry
The most iconic imagining of cavalry is of course the cavalry charge. Heavy armored men on large horses clashing with foot troops. Heavy cavalry are powerful, well armored, fast and versatile. They are well protected so they can lead an assault on a defended position, they have high morale so they can operate independently and will keep fighting after taking many losses, they can kill most units when out in the open and they can chase routers. Of course just because they can do all those things doesn’t mean that they should, light cavalry are better for chasing routers, infantry is more disposable when leading an assault ... What you should do is keep a unit or two of heavy cavalry and send them where they are needed: to charge an engaged opponent, intercept the enemy flanking attempt, run down the enemy missiles or what ever else is needed at that moment in time. Don’t get over confidant though , try to charge from the rear if you really must take on spears.

Light Cavalry
Light cavalry are not as powerful as heavy They do have one thing in abundance: speed. At the same time they often have weak charges and poor attack, defense and armor stats. This cavalry is best used to run down routers and chase mounted missiles units. Unless your target is routing always hit from the rear to increase your unit's chances of survival. These units are usually very cheap for cavalry and this makes them rather throw away – send them to take out infantry missile units when you expect to lose your cavalry in the attack, or to take out siege weapons that threaten your position. Basically send them on any suicide mission where speed is more use than power. Just remember to keep an eye on their morale as it is often rather fragile and you don't want them to rout before accomplishing their goal. After the goal is complete they can run away all they want

Missile cavalry
Missile cavalry are one of the most difficult classes of unit to use. They require plenty of practice before they become truly useful to your army. When you do master them they become a deadly force capable of raining death on the enemy before nipping out of the way, leading the enemy into traps and forcing them to split their numbers. Watching someone use missile cavalry well is an incredible experience, with the cavalry endlessly moving to a better position luring, feinting, retreating and killing in an endless dance.

Be aware that infantry missile units kill mounted missiles with ease, therefore keep your missile cavalry out of range. Infantry missile units have both superior range and superior accuracy when compared to the mounted versions. The mounted missile's horse also provides a much larger target than a single man on foot. If you have to take out infantry missile units with missile cavalry then order them to draw their melee weapons and charge. Generally your cavalry will have the advantage in a melee.

When waging a constantly moving war missile cavalry have two major weapons at their disposal: speed and stamina. Coupled with their blinding speed is outstanding stamina, missile cavalry can gallop around the field for a long time before tiring.

So, bearing all this in mind, what should you be doing with your mounted missile units? You should target vulnerable units and try to damage them badly and draw them out of position, if they move towards your cavalry pull back and keep shooting until the unit is isolated and ready for a quick death. Charge several units of suitable killers (ie Don't send in cavalry if you are luring spears) and crush the unit. Then go out and draw more units to their doom. Unless you have a very long time to spend in the battle try to draw two units at once, both in different directions and using two different teams of mounted missiles and killers. If you attack on many fronts at once the enemy are forced to split their army to deal with you, this makes them easy to surround and crush at will.

When faced with dangerous units like heavy cavalry try to aggravate them into charging your mounted missiles by launching a few volleys at them. The arrows will not do much damage but they may irritate the unit into action. Since heavy cavalry are slow and have poor stamina for cavalry you can safely lead them all over the battlefield in pursuit of your missile cavalry. Then, when the unit is very tired or exhausted you can surround them with several other units and kill them reasonably easily. This tactic also works with certain powerful infantry.

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