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Thread: Spearmen - Is there any use for them?

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    Member Member Swamp Thing's Avatar
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    Just curious, does anybody else find spear-armed soldiers to be totally inept?

    My spearman (generalised term) seem to get decimated by cavalry on a regular basis, whereas my feudal and chivalric men-at-arms generally perform well.

    So, any answers, maybe I'm just using the wrong tactics????



    Help me out here

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    Humanist Senior Member A.Saturnus's Avatar
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    I think we had exactly this topic before in a thread. However, I find feu- and chiv-sgts quiet usefull. A broad spear wall is usually the core of my army. Enemy cav must try to flank it and I intercept them with my own cav. But crossbows or arbs before the spear wall. Often enough the enemy will try to charge them. So let your arbs retreat and charge the spear wall. Even when they don`t defeat the cav, they hold out quiet long and you can flank them with your own schock troops.

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    Member Member hoom's Avatar
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    Make sure they are on hold formation & hold position.
    Set them up with no fewer than 3 rows (4 preferable) deep.

    Basic Spearmen can sometimes be fairly easily defeated even by cavalry, but Feudal & Chivalric Sergeants can at least hold & engage enemies while flanking units engage the rear or sides.

    Expect the flankers to get most of the kills.
    But the main point is that your spears (as long as they are not flanked themselves) will hold their position & suffer relatively few losses
    maybe those guys should be doing something more useful...

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    probably bored Member BDC's Avatar
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    I find them quite useful, even basic spearmen. They will halt a cavalry charge, then can hold out for a few minutes if they are under a good general. Then send in some flankers and you have Royal Knight stew.

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    Member Member Heraclius's Avatar
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    in my Byzantine campaigns basic spearmen are the only thing you can use except for the Varangian Guard, which although very, very good, come later in the game, are expensive and come in too small numbers to effectively use as a cavalry stopper. I have found though, that if used right basic spearmen are much more than "vanilla". #1 You must always get them on high ground so they are able to charge into the attacking cavalry. #2 the spearmen can hold their own against most Muslim cavalry but for western knights it is crucial to flank the cavalry either with kataphraktoi, VG or Byzantine Infantry. #3 Protect your spearmen's flanks at all costs. If they are hit there they will rout almost instantly. Remember those three rules and, for the Byzantines at least, you will not have to waste thousands of florins on advanced mercenary spearmen.
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    Member Member TheViking's Avatar
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    I had a topic like this, and the anser on your question
    is - nope.

    Not the early spears anyway, there isnt any use for them even with weapon and armor upgrades not even with valour.

    If you have them on engage on will, or what the order is named, they can do little damage and make sure you charge the enemy before they charge you, if not have them on hold formation and after impact chose engage on will.
    There I see my father.
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    Senior Member Senior Member econ21's Avatar
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    Maybe I am playing another game, but I find spearmen (generically) the most useful of all troops. I agree with everything Saturnus said. Remember - spearmen are not there to kill the enemy, but to hold him. Just came across a saying from Patton that sums up Medieval tactics rather well: use the infantry to hold the enemy by the nose and the cavalry to kick his ass.

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    Member Member TheViking's Avatar
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    What use is there for spearmen if they only can hold the enemy for a little while, and when they cant even kill cavalry. Sword and axe units are more effective killing cavs.

    I dont know how "good" spearunits are in easy and normal, but in hard and expert, theres no use for them.

    If they only could stand a charge from cavs i would start use them again. In the impact they lose badly then after a few turns they "only" lose
    There I see my father.
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    TheViking a.k.a AggonyViking a.k.a FearTheViking a.k.a WildboarViking

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    Member Member Heraclius's Avatar
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    I've played on hard and expert levels and used spearmen with great effect as the Byzantines. If you can get the high ground and protect their flanks you will handily defeat Islamic cavalry and do some damage to Western cavalry, who can then easily be flanked and destroyed.
    The problem, for me anyway, with using swordsman and axemen to take out cavalry is that they are too expensive and valuable to use for this task whereas spearmen are cheap and generally expendable. The sword/axemen will win the fight but will lose many men if they take the cavalry head on. I prefer to use my sword/axemen to eliminate the enemy infantry, which spearmen are terrible at, and use my spearmen, cavalry and maybe one swordsmen unit to take out the enemy's heavy cavalry. For me at least, it generally works quite well.



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    Wait, what? Member Aelwyn's Avatar
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    If you're using normal Spear units to charge enemy cavs (except for MAYBE Light Cav) then you could be using them more effectively. If their morale is low, like basic spear units, keep them on hold formation. And the spear unit isn't going to really work against cav if they aren't on 'hold position' as well. Since the cavs gain a bonus from charging (called a charge bonus ) your spears work more effectively while on hold position. They gain a bonus from this, especially against cav, and will be much better.

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    Senior Member Senior Member econ21's Avatar
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    Viking - not sure why your spearmen do worse on impact from a cavalry charge than after; I thought they negate that nice +8 cavalry charge bonus? Maybe the cavalry nonetheless manage to push back some of your men and get the +6 bonus for following up?

    Looking at the numbers, spears seem to have an edge over cavalry due to their +4 anti-cav defensive bonus. I cranked out the numbers for Chiv sergeants vs Chiv knights [I did not put in any modifiers for hold position/formation etc, maybe I should have] see:

    http://www.totalwar.org/cgi-bin....;t=2449

    But nonetheless both sides get REALLY low kill chances - I see it as essentially a stand-off. That's why I thought spears are to hold the cavalry (or whoever) while others go for the flank/rear (or use missiles) to finish them. I don't think MAA would be better at receiving a charge - they will suffer from that +8 charge bonus, come in smaller units and cost more. But I have not tried it - I'd be interested in your experience. Can you post how you deal with a cavalry charge without using spears?

    Your point about hard/expert is interesting as if that shifts the numbers by about 2 in the AIs favour (eg +1 AI attack, +1 AI def) the CK and CS will have very similar but still low kill chances - although again the CS come in larger and cheaper packets.




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    Throwing stones from afar Member Cazbol's Avatar
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    In short, spear units are inexpensive shock absorbers. I used them to complement my vikings and chvilaric men-at-arms when playing the Danes and found they had their use. In my current campaign as Byzantines I don't use them but use 3 units of Byzantine infantry and 3 units of Varangian guards as the infantry part of my standard armies. It works equally well but in a different way. I destroy my enemies faster that way but take more expensive casualties, which isn't much of a problem when playing the rich Byzantines. A poorer faction gains more from using spears as shock absorbers.




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    Member Member TheViking's Avatar
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    SimonI meet heavy cav with heavy cav, then i use axe and sword units to flank or a light cav unit.

    If im Byz i use VG as blockers if i dont have Katas and Pronois. In my experience chiv,spear dont stand a chance against Katas, not even SAP uphill in wood.

    I dont play catholic factions (havnt done that in long time) so i speak of the early spear units, I mentioned that in one of the earlier post in this thread.

    If i play as egypts or turkeys i use Saracen, but i think i saw in another post that they are as good as chiv,spear



    There I see my father.
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    Senior Member Senior Member econ21's Avatar
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    Ok, thanks, Viking - we were talking at cross purposes. The original poster was talking about spear-armed units; you, as you point out, were talking about the basic spearman unit. I agree that unit is weak and Feudal sergeants are only a little better. They can probably hold enemy cav but is a little touch and go. I was focussing more on chivalrics/Saracen/Order/Italian light are all pretty solid against cav. A key thing here is armour - MAA, VG etc have it and it is a really big deal in this game - going from unarmoured to mail shifts the defence by 4; ie halves your men's risk of dying in melee. Heavy cav has even better armour and that can offset the +4 defensive anti-cav bonus spears get

    But I think chiv spears could hold your kats if they came on frontally - kats are weaker than chiv knights.

    BTW, I wouldn't put pikes in a wood even against cav - they will lose the nice 4 rank bonuses.

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    Swarthylicious Member Spino's Avatar
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    Spearmen, love 'em or hate 'em you HAVE to have them

    One thing for sure is that your basic Spear unit needs much more support than their Feudal, Chivalric and Saracen cousins.

    Viking, my approach is the opposite to yours. I usually try to engage enemy heavy cavalry with my spear units and save my elite infantry and medium and heavy cavalry for flanking attacks. I simply loathe the use of high value units for meatgrinder tactics and whenever possible keep them in reserve for decisive action. Basically I try to avoid throwing strength against strength except when it's absolutely necessary.
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    Member Member Swamp Thing's Avatar
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    I am becoming extremely cynical about the late period when played on Expert.

    Example:

    In one battle the Germans were invading Milan, which I controlled as the Italians. I deployed my chivalric-men-arms and arbalasters in a forest on top of a hill.

    The heavy cavalry of the germans tried a flanking attack, so I used a unit of Italian infantry to hold them whilst my own heavy cavalry proceeded to wipe them out.

    Yet on another occasion, one unit of Royal cavalry defeated three units of Halberdiers.

    My chivalric men at arms also seem to possess the ability to lose against inferior units. A one point two CMA were evenly matched against a unit of FEUDAL MEN AT ARMS



    Too much wierd shit like this keeps happening

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    Swarthylicious Member Spino's Avatar
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    Don't get too depressed Swamp. There are a whole host of variables that come into play, not least of which is that AI units get a huge morale bonus on Expert level. That unit of FMAA your Chivs were trying to take out were probably so jacked up with morale that they didn't even feel the effects of being flanked.

    Seriously though, Total War wouldn't be much fun if you could accurately predict the outcome of every single engagement. I love it when those rare occassions arise when some low level unit beats an elite enemy unit to save the day. Sure it works both ways but unlike some hardcore SP and MP guys on this forum I just LOVE surprises
    "Why spoil the beauty of the thing with legality?" - Theodore Roosevelt

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    Though Adrian did a brilliant job of defending the great man that is Hugo Chavez, I decided to post this anyway.. - JAG (who else?)

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    General rank and valor is important. I sent a crusade with the standard 0 rank general against Nur al-Din who has 6 stars. His Armenian heavy cav also had a +1 valor from being built in Armenia and some had +1 from battle experience. He charged me in the forests and kicked my ass badly. I had feudal sergeants, order foot, Italian infantry and some militia.

    As for spearmen, I use them like ashigaru. Feudal and chivalric spearmen are like the yari samurai.

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    Member Member Swamp Thing's Avatar
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    Thanks guys, that actually helps. I never considered valor and morale before.

    *Puts down sledge-hammer and eyes computer monitor warily*

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    Humanist Senior Member A.Saturnus's Avatar
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    Don`t use spearmen in woods, even against cav. In woods, inf with axes do very good against cav. Once I slaughtered Katas with Ghazi with only slight valour advantage in a wood.

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    Member Member Swamp Thing's Avatar
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    I have decided to forever eschew the use of any spear-armed infantry

    They take up too many spots in the battle-line, die in combat with the mortality rate of lemmings near a high cliff, and deny places to my valuable heavy-infantry.

    R.I.P

    SPEARMEN

    "If I could, I would slaughter them myself"

    General Swamp Thing, discussing his spear-wielding troops




  22. #22

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    Well, spearmen are only good against the cavalry that appears around the same time they do. By the time knights show up, you should have feudal sergeants already. By the time chivalric knights show up, you should have chivalric sergeants.

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    Member Member TheViking's Avatar
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    Andrewt i can tell you alot of stories on how bad spearunits are, even against cavs in the sameperiod. here are some:

    I attacked a peasant unit, slightly uphill, my spear (early) had V2 the peasants had V0, My spears lost. And no, that little uphill wasnt that big so my spears would have lost.

    I attacked hobilars (eng. light cav) i attacked downhill, my spears was losing, i sent in 1 more spears to flank my men were still losing, so i sent in 1 more and finally beat the cavs. Hobilars V2 my spears V2

    Once i had mounted sergants V2, I attacked a spearunit V2 uphill, i lost 4 men from that unit and killed all from the spearunit (they routed when they were 34 men left)

    This was only early units, and i can go on, but then it will be a very long post.



    There I see my father.
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    Senior Member Senior Member LRossaLordJimi's Avatar
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    I'm agree with Viking,spear units are bad also against cavalry,when they got a bonus.They are lightly armoured and they have low morale,i think they can only hold cav for some time,but they will loose against an upgraded cav if you don't double.

    But i like Order Foot and Italian Light Infantry(Italians are skilled warriors )

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    Member Member Panther's Avatar
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    Thumbs down

    TBH i prefer how it was before Patch when the spear units could actually hold and kill the knights. Because if you think about it a horse will not run into long pointy sticks pointed at them and if they do they will get impaled and die and the knight will fall to the ground and some men would run over and knife him.


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    Member Member NateEngle's Avatar
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    As a rule I don't build many spearmen these days because I've learned more efficient ways of standing off horsemen. Guys with polearms (especially halberdiers) are a better choice. My bad opinion of spearmen (even later period spearmen) isn't really based in disappointment with how they handle cavalry, but rather how badly they fare against any sort of swordsman/viking.

    While I've had spear units that lost heavily in fighting cavalry, it's the infantry sword attacks that have been the complete and utter embarassments. As I told a friend recently after one such debacle, "My generals don't have any medals on their uniforms or even buttons on their trousers any more from losing so often." Fortunately since then I've modified my tactical doctrine and it's my turn to feel happy when I see the enemy bringing spears against me rather than vice versa.

    Polearms in front of archers backed up with swordsmen are a very tough combination to beat. At least they chop spearmen into little pieces.
    "Some Assembly Required"

  27. #27

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    With the way the battle formula has been set up, spears could get a dramatic nerf by moving up a higher difficulty level. They last long and have a weak attack, but if you move to a higher level, their attack might not be worth anything. I use them on normal and they do fine. Feudal sergeants seem cost effective for me.

  28. #28

    Lightbulb

    Well, you can't have everything. Spearmen can hold cavalry, they will lose versus heavy infantry. Its a pro and con thing, and that's why many people prefer using Halberdiers since they can deal with cavalry and CMAA.
    At the same time, Halberdiers have less men and are a bit clumsy. Fast, armour piercing units can outmaneuver them while missile troops can hit them better as they have no shield.
    Personally, I'm glad spearmen are available and I still use them.
    Ignoranti, quem portum petat, nullus suus ventus est. -Seneca, Epistulae Morales, VIII, 71, 3

  29. #29
    PapaSmurf Senior Member Louis de la Ferte Ste Colombe's Avatar
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    I don't know how valid the battle gut feeling is, but, in MP, I can tell you I am actually relieved when I see my opponents pick a lot of spearmen (or rather saracen inf / Ital inf / Order Inf): I just feel better / more confident. They are a prime target due to a low morale (even if jacked up with valor) and are likely to trigger massrout first before sword or cav.

    Hallebardier is the way to go in defense position. Just be sure to win pav arb duel and keep them grouped (alone being low morale + slow is too much of a disadvantage). Or if you play turk like me,JHI are high morale, fast hallebard; what else do you want?

    Attacking, I would say use cav against cav? Or, if available, billmen, swiss halebard... Maybe a couple of pikemen to cover pav arb at initial stage.

    Just sharing gut feeling,

    Louis,
    [FF] Louis St Simurgh / The Simurgh



  30. #30
    Humanist Senior Member A.Saturnus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by [b
    Quote[/b] ]
    I attacked hobilars (eng. light cav) i attacked downhill, my spears was losing, i sent in 1 more spears to flank my men were still losing, so i sent in 1 more and finally beat the cavs. Hobilars V2 my spears V2

    Once i had mounted sergants V2, I attacked a spearunit V2 uphill, i lost 4 men from that unit and killed all from the spearunit (they routed when they were 34 men left)
    This sounded quite strange to me as I read it, so I decided to do some testing. Sorry it took so long, don`t play MTW much lately.
    However. I tested v0 mounted sgts against v0 vanilla spears on Agincourt (flat ground). I attacked with the sgts frontally, the AI charged it`s spears. Of five trials, I won 1 time but with heavy losses. The other trials, my sgts were defeated, sometimes easily. One particular trial, I lost more than have the number while the enemy lost only 3 men. After that, I tried it with both units v2. Was the same.
    Then I tested Feudal Knights. It was a hard fight but the spears usually won.
    This shows that spears can be effective against cav and that charging a unit of spearmen frontally is not a good idea. Of course flanking is another thing.

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