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Thread: the ashigaru spearwall ability

  1. #1

    Default the ashigaru spearwall ability

    Here, a topic to get this new forum rolling.

    I am very interested in knowing more about the ashigaru's spearwall formation. We all know it kills cavalry in no time flat. We seem less certain as to how it does versus infantry.

    Weeks ago I saw a post somewhere which suggested that it made no difference against infantry. I haven't been able to find it again, so if anyone knows where it is I'd like a link, please. My own experience is that it feels like it makes the unit a bit more robust and drops its killing power, as if it were taking points off the unit's attack stat and adding them to defence. We know that similar formations did that in prior games, such as the shieldwall formation in RTW: BI. What's the real deal when no fuzzy feelings and faded memories of a post read weeks ago involved?

    I would like to see a full and scientific investigation of the matter! Any volunteers to devise and run some tests?
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  2. #2
    Research Fiend Technical Administrator Tetris Champion, Summer Games Champion, Snakeman Champion, Ms Pacman Champion therother's Avatar
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    Default Re: Research: the ashigaru spearwall ability

    MP of some sort would seem to lend itself to the task. I'm not an MP player at all though. Is it possible for me and you to play on a flat map with just two units?
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  3. #3

    Default Re: Research: the ashigaru spearwall ability

    I approve of this topic and await the test results eagerly.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Research: the ashigaru spearwall ability

    I'm such a MP newbie that I don't know. I'd imagine so; I did some test games like that in RTW. Depends what steam has brought to the mix, and how functional it is.

    Not sure when I'd be able to try it out though, I have this big mysterious project pile of books to read.
    Frogbeastegg's Guide to Total War: Shogun II. Please note that the guide is not up-to-date for the latest patch.


  5. #5
    Ja mata, TosaInu Forum Administrator edyzmedieval's Avatar
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    Default Re: Research: the ashigaru spearwall ability

    In my Takeda campaign on Hard I had to defeat the Uesugi who were camped well inside Echigo. I camped as well and the next turn Kenshin attacked me. I particularly remember this battle because it was a all in, poker/chess style battle. If I would have lost the battle my campaign was over since I barely had any units left in Kai and North Shinano.

    Takeda Shingen and his army of ashigaru alongside a couple of bow ashigaru and Takeda Light Cavalry against Kenshin who by chance had Naginata Warrior Monks recruited from Echigo. On paper, I had superior numbers (I had 3 extra units from what I can recall), but I had a nasty surprise when I saw the composition.

    I was desperate because I knew my Yari Ashigaru would stand no chance against the Warrior Monks but I had no choice so I put them in Spearwall formation.

    The warrior monks attacked and this is what I saw - the Yari Ashigaru, with one experience bonus from the previous Murakami battle, held their formation, and they held their ground because they were grouped together. The spears were obviously useless once the monks got in close range but they gave them some casualties until they eventually routed. I did group my ashigaru into two defensive lines, so once the first line of ashigaru was down there were three reinforced units (I had 10 ashigaru units). The second spearwall bought me enough time to flank with the Light Cavalry to rout the warrior monks and the ashigaru just before they were about to break completely and rout.

    It did take me three successive charges to render the monks useless and by the last charge the ashigaru started wavering but overall it was a good standing point, whenever I defend now I use the spearwall.

    It buys you significant time but IMHO doesn't do much in the long run when it contends against infantry, especially strong ones like monks. Most probably they will hold their ground much better against Yari Samurai but against Warrior Monks and Katana Samurai they will only be a stopgap to bring your cavalry in.

    Hope this is some insight.
    Last edited by edyzmedieval; 04-11-2011 at 21:43. Reason: Added a couple of more points.
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  6. #6
    Loitering Senior Member AussieGiant's Avatar
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    Default Re: Research: the ashigaru spearwall ability

    I came on here earlier this morning after getting my butt cheeks handed to me on a Date N/N campaign.

    The spear wall was the one tactical piece of information I wrote down and it successfully turned my campaign around. With the spear wall on the Ashigaru really tie up and more importantly do not die anywhere near as fast. In a Date campaign this is critical as the No Dachi two handed lunatics I have can get around the sides and rear to inflict tremendous damage.

    I'm not able to provide quantifiable statistics however it has really made a difference.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Research: the ashigaru spearwall ability

    I haven't tested it myself but if I had to speculate, spearwall would blunt a unit's charge bonus because it's a denser formation and hense harder to charge though just like a loose formation is easier to charge through.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Research: the ashigaru spearwall ability

    I've done a little playing around in Custom Battles: Yari Spearwall vs Katana Samurai

    Can't get the level of control you'd have with a MP face-off; it shows no sig difference.

    The Yari die in droves but inflict slightly more casualties if not in spearwall.

    In game I think their longevity has more to do with proximity of the general and other units.

    PS. I do have time these days and could attempt MP simulations; no I have never done MP and have no clue how to even log on :)
    Last edited by HopAlongBunny; 04-12-2011 at 04:07.
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  9. #9
    Senior Member Senior Member Graphic's Avatar
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    Default Re: Research: the ashigaru spearwall ability

    Quote Originally Posted by frogbeastegg View Post
    Here, a topic to get this new forum rolling.
    Off topic but seeing you still posting here is making me nostalgic. I remember using your battle tactic guides waaaay back in Medieval 1. I suppose I still use the same stuff I learned to this day.

    and holy crap its still there (I paused to go check). Awesome. I'm going to read it again!

    anyway, as for spearwall, vs infantry it seems to give them a bit more staying power vs. a frontal attack, which gives you more time to flank with samurai units

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    Rolluplover Member Kocmoc's Avatar
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    Default Re: Research: the ashigaru spearwall ability

    1. spearwall seems not to make any difference vs. other melee units
    2. it has a slightly better killratio vs cav, actual I dont use it at all, since you wont kill a cav a lot quicker, but you are pretty slow
    3. Spearwall means nothing else than, that a cav has to run into the spearwall! You almost never can get to a cav with spearwall on
    4. spearwall can only be activated, if the ashi dont touched a unit yet, it has to get activated while not fighting.

    The ability is hardly used online, I personal dont use it at all. Its some extra micro and it wont make any difference vs. melee and very small difference vs. cav.
    I can kill 19 yaricav (unless they charge into spear) with one single ashi unit not using spearwall.

    The problem is, that in games vs. good player, almost no one will run into a spearwall with his cav.
    So the question is, how on earth you ever get a cav into the spearwall? ;)

    The only way to get this done would be like this: The enemy cav is fighting a unit of yours, now you move the ashi next to the cav, activate the speawall and now go in.
    This needs a lot of micro, a good timing and wont really get used in a game, where you have much to click.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Senior Member Krasturak's Avatar
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    Default Re: Research: the ashigaru spearwall ability

    Quote Originally Posted by frogbeastegg View Post
    I would like to see a full and scientific investigation of the matter! Any volunteers to devise and run some tests?
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  12. #12
    Research Fiend Technical Administrator Tetris Champion, Summer Games Champion, Snakeman Champion, Ms Pacman Champion therother's Avatar
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    Default Re: Research: the ashigaru spearwall ability

    Have started some tests on this, with 120 AI monks versus 150 yari ashigaru under my control. 5R means the unit in standard formation had 5 ranks. SW means ashi were in spearwall formation, 5R SW means the unit had 5 ranks prior to going into spearwall formation. G denotes guard.

    5 battles were carried out with each different ashi formation. In all battles the monks attacked the ashis. Battlefield was flat and combatants met at same location every time.

    Results are below, with number of men left at the point the ashigaru rout:







    It seems that ashis in 5 ranks receiving the monk charge has the smallest variance: the ashis are defeated with few Monk loses, 17▒3 on average, with 63▒3 ashis remaining at rout. This very similar to 5 ranks with guard on (2nd table), however the variance is slightly higher, perhaps reflecting the guard effect.

    The bottom 3 tables are the ones with the spearwall enabled. These show the greatest variance. As you might expect, guard appears to increase the number of ashis that survive to rout but slightly decreases the number of monk casualties. Variances are high here though: in most battles, the 5 ranked SW did little better than the 5 ranked normal formation. However, on occasion, the ashis were able to inflict much heavier casualties, eg battle 4 in table 3, where the ashis killed 47 monks vs the average of 17▒4 without spearwall (tables 1 & 2 combined). I thought this might have been a fluke, but this behaviour occurred again with 5R in guard formation: 4 out of 5 times they killed more than 20 monks, on average 26▒8. This is pulled up slightly by battle 3 in table 4.

    Of most interest is table 5, where the ashi were in deep formation prior to spearwall. Here there is little doubt that they perform much better, with 35▒15 casulaties. In battle 3 they almost killed half the monks!

    There is a fair degree of randomness with the SW formation that isn't generally seen without it. Having observed the battles, my guess is that the result of the initial monk charge is crucial: if the ashis are forced to break their spearwall, the monks can get into about them and kill them easily. If the ashi can retain formation however, the monks get into a grinding match, which they win eventually but at much higher cost. Increased ranks helps the ashis absorb the charge and stand for longer before breaking: the bold value in table is due to the general's death. Indeed, on one occasion they stood until only 30 remained (cf 61▒4 without SW).

    Overall conclusion is that spearwall, used with deep formation, can have a significant impact on casualties inflicted and perhaps more importantly in a real battle, time to rout.

    (Some brief tests of attacking the monks head on showed surprising little difference to receiving their charge.)
    Last edited by therother; 04-22-2011 at 13:39.
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    Research Fiend Technical Administrator Tetris Champion, Summer Games Champion, Snakeman Champion, Ms Pacman Champion therother's Avatar
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    Default Re: Research: the ashigaru spearwall ability

    Attacked this another way: set up battles between one vanilla AI yari samurai and one honour 2 yari ashigaru under my control. On paper there should be no contest, with the ashis outmatched on almost every stat:


    All 10 battles that were in normal formation or when I met their charge with my own (5 battles each), ended in defeat, close or decisive in the former, most often crushing in the latter. The five battles where I had a 4 rank spearwall however led to close or decisive victory in all but one occasion (a close defeat after my general was prematurely slain).

    I also ran 5 battles with yari samurai vs yari samurai, which were close but with the attacker winning on 4 occasions, so I assume the above is not a product of the samurai unit having to attack.
    Last edited by therother; 04-23-2011 at 00:20.
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  14. #14

    Default Re: Research: the ashigaru spearwall ability

    Ugh, it's been two weeks since I started this and I'm only just back to read. That's what happens when you keep saying "I'll look at that after I finish this ..."

    Thanks very much to all of those who replied. It's been interesting reading

    So it looks like as far as single player goes, using the formation is the way to go unless you are on the aggressive, rapid offensive, in which case you probably won't be able to use it due to the need to manoeuvre. Nice to have some numbers to back up my gut feeling, and the observations about the depth of the formation is particularly interesting. I'd expected a little bit of difference but nothing so extensive, and not past a low limit like 4 ranks.

    In multiplayer, no surprises. Mobility is key, the boosts it gives are not good enough to counter the mobility and coverage penalties, and humans won't play along. I wonder if it is ever going to be possible to make something like spearwall useful for MP? I can't imagine how.
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  15. #15
    Rolluplover Member Kocmoc's Avatar
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    Default Re: Research: the ashigaru spearwall ability

    In MP I really never use SW. Its even more micro for some small (its really small) increase of killing a cav.
    If someone is stupid enough to run with a cav into your spear, than the game is won anyway.

    Else, there is no chance to ever use SW while catching a cav somewhere.

    The usual skirmish looks like this:

    You send cav in to catch the enemy cav, if the way and the "lines" are good, you will catch a unit or more.
    If it isnt too far away, you get your spears running and they will enter the fight, since the enemy cav got catched by your cav.

    To use SW is almost impossible, I want a mobile unit, which I can move trough the cav and mix up (bubble-gum) as much it can.

    The test about rows. You need 3 rows to block a cav, with 1 row the enemy cav just run trough your spears, if your spear is even moving, it wont kill much.
    If a spear is standing in 2 rows it can block the cav, if its moving, it wont block most of time.

    It seems that blocking is determined or effected by the speed of the unit. Melee units are more often blocked by 1 or 2 lined spears, than cav.
    Back to topic.

    SW, same as the "speed" ability of yari sam are almost pointless in MP games.

  16. #16
    Research Fiend Technical Administrator Tetris Champion, Summer Games Champion, Snakeman Champion, Ms Pacman Champion therother's Avatar
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    Default Re: Research: the ashigaru spearwall ability

    Good to have the MP players perspective. Thanks Kocmoc.
    Last edited by therother; 05-05-2011 at 19:06.
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  17. #17
    A Livonian Rebel Member Slaists's Avatar
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    Default Re: Research: the ashigaru spearwall ability

    I have not run any explicit tests, however my SP battle experience against VH/Legendary AI suggests spearwall has distinct advantage (versus the standard spear Ashigaru formation) against melee enemies. The majority of my armies consists of a mix (8-10 bow Ashigaru: the rest = spear Ashigaru and the genearl) of Ashigaru with almost no Samurai and no cavalry. If I manage to get the AI to attack me, I regularly beat AI armies consisting almost exclusively of samurai IF my spear Ashigaru meet the charge in spear-wall formation. On the other hand, if I meet the charge in regular formation or attempt a counter-charge, I lose the same battles.

  18. #18
    ridiculously suspicious Member TheLastDays's Avatar
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    Default Re: Research: the ashigaru spearwall ability

    Very interesting tests..

    So we see in SW formation they can produce higher casualties against Monks, so probably against any infantry unit before they rout... the problem is, eventually they will rout, so my question is: How fast do they die?
    I mean, how much time do they give me to flank and save the day before they break, compared to normal formation.
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  19. #19

    Default Re: the ashigaru spearwall ability

    Quote Originally Posted by frogbeastegg View Post
    Here, a topic to get this new forum rolling.

    I am very interested in knowing more about the ashigaru's spearwall formation. We all know it kills cavalry in no time flat. We seem less certain as to how it does versus infantry.

    Weeks ago I saw a post somewhere which suggested that it made no difference against infantry. I haven't been able to find it again, so if anyone knows where it is I'd like a link, please. My own experience is that it feels like it makes the unit a bit more robust and drops its killing power, as if it were taking points off the unit's attack stat and adding them to defence. We know that similar formations did that in prior games, such as the shieldwall formation in RTW: BI. What's the real deal when no fuzzy feelings and faded memories of a post read weeks ago involved?

    I would like to see a full and scientific investigation of the matter! Any volunteers to devise and run some tests?
    it also kill infantry very good though ,except get flank at side and rear....when i got less men compare to AI ,i use spear wall a lot,coz i am a ashigaru master!!!
    In all warfare,speed is the key!

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