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Thread: Correct use of Pikemen?

  1. #1
    Philosophically Inclined Member CountMRVHS's Avatar
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    Default Correct use of Pikemen?

    Hi all,

    I'm playing the Scots in the Britannia campaign. Sometimes I can get the pike units to work correctly, but it seems pretty random and I'm not sure what I'm doing to get certain results.

    It seems that, if I put my pikes on Guard mode with Spearwall activated, the front ranks crouch down & form a wall of spearpoints. When attacked, however, they quickly switch to swords - even men in the rear ranks. I most often see this when I'm guarding a castle gate. I assume Guard mode is the setting I want in that situation, but after the enemy ram breaks the gate and the enemy charges into the front of the pikes, they switch to swords.

    Defending a bridge, I put my pikes in Spearwall, with Guarde mode OFF. They seemed to perform pretty well there, using their pikes to keep the enemy at a distance.

    But in an open battle on the attack, with Spearwall on and Guard mode off, I got totally different results - I'd order the pikes to attack an enemy unit and they'd switch to swords almost immediately after making contact.

    What is the best way to use these pikes? When they work, they work great!

    CountMRVHS

  2. #2
    Member Member WhiskeyGhost's Avatar
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    Default Re: Correct use of Pikemen?

    I use spearwall/guard mode ON, then after impact, i turn off guard mode, and watch as they poke the enemy to death. The biggest key to it, is making sure your pikes DON'T GET FLANKED. If a single enemy soldier wraps around your pike wall (which will happen a lot if not managed right, with say, your own flanking troops) then when that 1 man gets too close, all your pikes will switch to swords and die. I've gotten ridiculous good results when having highlanders on both sides of a scots pike unit, even against highly armored enemies.

    edit: also, your unit will move funny when you turn off guard mode, and will only move in 1 direction as they poke the enemy. This too results in the unit being flanked, if the enemy has gaps in their formation.

    added some pics from a recent battle:
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 




    sorry about image size, but to make it easy on ya, it shows the scots pike militia had a better kill/death ratio then the highlanders, despite in the first picture showing the pikemen taking all enemy charges

    16-29 kills for the pikemen (29 was most peasants)

    25-11 kills for the highlanders (25 was mostly that peasant unit)

    and the highlanders didn't even take a charge

    Note on the first pic, that i JUST turned off guard mode, and about 20 peasants died in the first poke volley

    This was done against 2 armored swordsmen, dismounted english knights, a peasant unit, and a Armored Sargents (who didn't actually enter the battle, since by having a cavalry unit (bodyguards) they went and chased them instead of getting into the melee.
    Last edited by WhiskeyGhost; 01-11-2008 at 22:01.


    "Don't mind me, i happen the have the Insane trait....." -Me

  3. #3
    Philosophically Inclined Member CountMRVHS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Correct use of Pikemen?

    Thanks!

    Now, when attacking, do you just select one of your pike units and then click on an enemy unit as usual, or is there more to it? I seem to remember in Rome that you'd get best results by actually clicking *behind* the enemy, so your pikes walked into them.

  4. #4
    Member Member WhiskeyGhost's Avatar
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    Default Re: Correct use of Pikemen?

    I personally get decent results just clicking on the enemy. I only click behind if its cavalry, or the enemy unit is spread out and i need my men to change direction (pikemen only seem to jab in one direction, and won't turn to attack with the pikes)

    thats just how i do it though, i'm sure someone else probably has some really good strategies


    "Don't mind me, i happen the have the Insane trait....." -Me

  5. #5
    Freedom Fighters Clan LadyAnn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Correct use of Pikemen?

    Quote Originally Posted by WhiskeyGhost
    I use spearwall/guard mode ON, then after impact, i turn off guard mode, and watch as they poke the enemy to death. The biggest key to it, is making sure your pikes DON'T GET FLANKED. If a single enemy soldier wraps around your pike wall (which will happen a lot if not managed right, with say, your own flanking troops) then when that 1 man gets too close, all your pikes will switch to swords and die.
    Is this BUG fixed? It sounds like a huge bug to me. I don't want my pike to ever use swords until they are really desperate.

    Annie
    AggonyJade of the Brotherhood of Aggony, [FF]ladyAn or [FF]Jade of the Freedom Fighters

  6. #6

    Default Re: Correct use of Pikemen?

    Well, I will spearwall on, defend on. Wait for them to charge in. Wait for a few secs more then turn off defend and my pikes will push them back.

    If ur pikes are changing to swords, i will turn everything off for a few secs then turn everything on again. they will bring out their pikes again.

    imo, pikes needs to be 2 units deep to be effective because the 1st unit will usually be decimated but they will be dealing the most damage. Then 2nd unit behind will not be dealing a lot of damage but they will be holding the line.
    (i mean UNIT, not rank or men)

    Believe it or not. When pikes are working well, they eat elephants for breakfast. I personally saw it happen.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Correct use of Pikemen?

    I have an idea, have two units of pikemen side by side two that are on either side of the two units and two that are rear facing. that way they can't flank you.
    Yes the government is out to get you... No I don't have any change.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Correct use of Pikemen?

    Is it good or bad to place pikeman so they overlap?

  9. #9
    Nomad horse archer Member Barbarian's Avatar
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    Default Re: Correct use of Pikemen?

    I have been using a lot of pikemen lately in my battles. Usually, pikemen are only good against cavalry. In other cases - they loose in approx 70% situations that would be won by heavy infantry.

    However, if they manage to use their pikes properly, they kill everyone and everything.

    Two main reasons why they fail:

    1) They switch to their swords (battle lost, because they are terrible with swords)

    2) They hold the enemy using spear wall, but do almost no casualties (they simply stand and hold them, until their defence is broken.

    you can resolve the first problem by switching guard mode on, but that gives you the second problem.

    I usually switch between modes quickly, to find the best option for the situation.

    Combined units of pikemen + another unit work very well.
    For some strange reason, pikemen will fight more actively, if there is some fighting in front of them already. If there is 1000 enemies in front of them, they will do nothing. If thousand enemies attack a unit of swordmen, who march through pikemen lines, pikemen will start fighting perfectly with their pikes, not using sword.
    There is variations for this strategy. I wrote somewhere, that I use formations of musketeers, stationed closely in front of pikemen, thus being protected by pikes. In a case of attack, pikemen fight perfectly, because there a is friendly units in the range of their pikes, who is being attacked.
    Another way (for offensive tactics): Pikemen unit, which advances through standing unit of pikemen. Almost unmatched tactic, because, if the marching unit is forced to switch to the swords, they will still be protected by the pikes of the standing unit, which has a perfect formation + the standing unit will fight actively even on the guard mode (see previous paragraph) + the density of pikes from 2 units make it near impossible to beat them in frontal assault.

    I especially concentrate on the tactics of pikemen in "guard mode", because the standard mode makes them slowly move forward during a melee fight, although there is no need for it, as their pikes allow to attack from a great range. This results in switching to alternative weapons (swords).

    By the way, removing the secondary attack for pike units makes them work better (they use pikes, because they have no swords to switch to). But I have only tried it in few battles in vanilla M2:TW, so correct me if I am wrong.


    "War is not so much a matter of weapons as of money"
    Thucydides

  10. #10

    Default Re: Correct use of Pikemen?

    Unfortunately most pikes are low stat cheap units. Even the medium "Pikemen" unit costs less than half of any other spear/sword infantry, so i would not expect great things from them. This is not RTW, pikemen are not phalanxes (but damn that would be cool if they were!!!)
    They were meant to be cheaply equipped untrained peasants able to provide a counter to mounted knights which had come to dominate battle (originally by the Scottish fighting English knights). More professional pike units were later developed to be effective against other infantry (eg Swiss pikemen), which they were in a few wars, but by that time they were nearly obsolete due to advances in gunpowder. Spain perfected the pike and musket tactics in the century after the game ends. Later, the bayonet eliminated the need for pikemen at all.
    Anyway, on defense someone noted that the pikes will often sit there holding the enemy at bay but not actually doing any damage. You must order the pikes to attack, but then they sometimes get out of formation from the rest of the line and it turns into a huge mess. Pikes seem to be a crap shoot to me. Sometimes they work wonderfully, other times they fail miserably. I wonder about putting a high strength melee unit inside the pike formation (actually on top of the pikes) to aid them once they turn to swords. Supposedly some historic pike units had individuals wielding two handed swords to accomplish this.
    Last edited by ReiseReise; 01-14-2008 at 07:01.

  11. #11
    Could be your God Member Abokasee's Avatar
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    Default Re: Correct use of Pikemen?

    Quote Originally Posted by ReiseReise
    Unfortunately most pikes are low stat cheap units. Even the medium "Pikemen" unit costs less than half of any other spear/sword infantry, so i would not expect great things from them. This is not RTW, pikemen are not phalanxes (but damn that would be cool if they were!!!)
    They were meant to be cheaply equipped untrained peasants able to provide a counter to mounted knights which had come to dominate battle (originally by the Scottish fighting English knights). More professional pike units were later developed to be effective against other infantry (eg Swiss pikemen), which they were in a few wars, but by that time they were nearly obsolete due to advances in gunpowder. Spain perfected the pike and musket tactics in the century after the game ends. Later, the bayonet eliminated the need for pikemen at all.
    Anyway, on defense someone noted that the pikes will often sit there holding the enemy at bay but not actually doing any damage. You must order the pikes to attack, but then they sometimes get out of formation from the rest of the line and it turns into a huge mess. Pikes seem to be a crap shoot to me. Sometimes they work wonderfully, other times they fail miserably. I wonder about putting a high strength melee unit inside the pike formation (actually on top of the pikes) to aid them once they turn to swords. Supposedly some historic pike units had individuals wielding two handed swords to accomplish this.
    Essentially... Late Game militias

    Except Tercio Pikemen, Scots Noble Pikemen (If your alive by then) Aventuros (Not Aventuriers) and umm... dunno really
    Now with transparent layers!

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  12. #12

    Default Re: Correct use of Pikemen?

    ...and German/Swiss mercenaries

  13. #13
    Nomad horse archer Member Barbarian's Avatar
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    Default Re: Correct use of Pikemen?

    Correct use of pikemen:



    Pike&Musket tactic:



    Fire, and then retreat into pikemen lines to reload:




    Taken from a battle in Mesoamerica, 1602 AD


    "War is not so much a matter of weapons as of money"
    Thucydides

  14. #14

  15. #15

    Default Re: Correct use of Pikemen?

    LOL
    your name
    is
    pike master

  16. #16

    Default Re: Correct use of Pikemen?

    "first poke volley" - So that is what Alexander called it!!!!

  17. #17
    Philosophically Inclined Member CountMRVHS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Correct use of Pikemen?

    First of all, thanks for all the advice.

    But second, I'm afraid the pikes are either a bit too sensitive for me, or somewhat random.

    Even in situations where my pikes are *definitely* not being flanked, I'll see them draw their swords and start to suck.

    Example 1: I'll have a long line of about 8 units of pikemen, all units all nice and snug shoulder-to-shoulder. Spearwall on, Guard on. The pike line gets charged, and after a few seconds of fighting with pikes, they'll switch to swords -- even units that are in the center of the line who are not being flanked. I've tried switching Guard mode off after a second or two but all that does is make them move around, get flanked, and switch to swords even faster.

    Example 2: City defense. I had a unit of Noble Pikemen guarding a street at the top of a little uphill slope. I put them on the top of the slope (you know... that crooked, slopy street that's in all the cities) with guard mode on and spearwall on. Almost instantly they switched to swords, just after being charged by some infantry. It seemed like being atop a slope actually made them WORSE, as the enemy was able to come in UNDER the pikes.

    It seems like enemy units can fight their way in between the pikes pretty quickly, and then the pikemen draw swords -- no matter what I do.

    Thankfully my Scottish campaign is wrapping up, so I can play a faction that doesn't depend on these twitchy units... Unless I'm missing something else?

    CountMRVHS

  18. #18
    Member Member WhiskeyGhost's Avatar
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    Default Re: Correct use of Pikemen?

    If you have problems with them keeping themselves, you could always place a thinly spread light infantry unit in the wall of spears. They should hold back the enemy from getting in between the pikes. It is quite hard to make them hold up in a regular melee though, even when properly managed to get around their 'shortcomings'


    "Don't mind me, i happen the have the Insane trait....." -Me

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    Member Member Uunts - a proud Estonian rebel's Avatar
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    Default Re: Correct use of Pikemen?

    Actually, sometimes I have been using two pike regiments inside each other. Havent tried with more pike regiments inside, yet. But the thrusting damage and the time of using pikes is somewhat doubled.
    It is all about swift killing..

  20. #20

    Default Re: Correct use of Pikemen?

    I finally got noble pikemen to work in an assault on a fortress. I had 2 untis of them attack the townne centre where the general bodyguards and some mercenary spears were having tea and crumpets whist awaiting their doom. They marched up close, lowered pikes and started poking. Soon they switched to swords so I switched spear wall off and then on. They stuck it to both the spearmen and the bodyguard. I think one unit of pikes killed as many bodyguard as they lost and those were most all killed while they had swords out. Such micromanagement is not my idea of fun and is one bug I will soon try to modify by changing the formation spacing as has been suggested on some forum.

  21. #21
    Cruel and cunning Member marrow's Avatar
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    Default Re: Correct use of Pikemen?

    Changing formation spacing to 0.8, 1.8 as suggested on shoguntotalwar does the trick. If anything it's a bit frustrating trying to fight pikes now as they're really unlikely to budge after this little change. a defo must-have for Spain, Portugal and Scotland.

  22. #22
    BLEEEE! Senior Member Daveybaby's Avatar
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    Default Re: Correct use of Pikemen?

    I seem to recall people modding pikemen to remove their secondary weapons (the swords) and finding they perform much better (in fact rather too well IIRC) after this.

    Does anyone still do this?

  23. #23
    Member Member Uunts - a proud Estonian rebel's Avatar
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    Default Re: Correct use of Pikemen?

    In my opinion pikemen are the strongest defencive unit of the game, when used properly. Thats why I got tired of playing Britannia with scots.
    The tactics is to get the enemy to attack you. Remember, that for pikemen, it is important to stay on a balanced ground or even on a slightly lower ground. On higher ground the enemy seems to get down to pikes so the pikes wont work very well. Some archers behind them, some melee units to protect the flanks and theres no way AI could win the battle. As for multiplayer, I dont think the wall of pikes would work, because there cant be anybody that would be stupid enough to rush into a pikewall.
    As for city sieges, when you have already taken the walls and the enemy is retreated to its city centre put some pikemen inside eachother into the street and shower the enemy with arrows, until he engages you. Then just enjoy the enemy to meet their doom.
    And I always play with very hard.
    It is all about swift killing..

  24. #24

    Default Re: Correct use of Pikemen?

    Pikemen are cheap to field, and come with a high number of men (like other spearmen units)

    The correct way to use them in my opinion is in combination with Missile Units.
    Use archers/muskets to pepper the enemy infantry units. Even tho foot-knights can beat pikemen in hand combat, when u've concentrated all ur fire on them - they're numbers are too small to be effective once they close in.
    When i have pikemen in my army, I am not so worried about trying to shoot at the enemy cavalry either.

  25. #25

    Default Re: Correct use of Pikemen?

    as suggested in previous post - i usually try to combine pikes with schiltroned units at the side. usually, i have pike units in the middle, flanked by schiltroned units (mercenary spearmen, levy spears, militia)

    i am not so concern about pikemen doing damages, because i only need them to keep people away from my precious archers and/or to buy time so that my other heavier units (swordsmen, billmen, dismounted knights, other disposable mounted units) can flank and finish off the enemies. as per previous posts in this topic, sometimes the pikes works wonderfully, but sometimes terribly. i have long given up on depending the pikes to be my post-Greek phalanx of death and merely use them as a disposable buffer.

    i've noted that on the bridge scenario, pikes can be useful up to a point. at one point i had lots of spears/militias/any units (even the catapults!) that AI can produce and throw at me when they are trying to force a crossing. just as well that i delibrately setup a few schiltron spears to contain the enemies, because pikemen seems to have a habit of more chance of breaking under immense pressure than the schiltroned spears (who usually died to the last man).

    in wide open battleground such as the middle east, i am avoiding (they are mercenary units in western europe anyway) usuing them, as they are purely unsuitable as they have the habit of attracting arrows and flaming balls of deaths (from the all-catapult AI armies!)
    Shinai Fodder

  26. #26

    Default Re: Correct use of Pikemen?

    I changed the line settings as suggested and had some field engagements with militia pikemen and noble pikemen against armored sergeants. It was not a pretty sight. The pikes would not keep their pikes down. When I'd get them to put them down, then the men on the sides and the ones not on the front line held thier pikes up or switch to swords if near an enemy. It was a butchering. The militia pikes did kill one third of the enemy before routing. The nobles just stood there and died. I was advancing with them up a slight hill. From the animation it seems that the problem came because the rearward lines all held their pikes up rather than keeping the spearwall. I tried switching the spearwall off and on but it did not help. (When you do the switching of the spear wall off and on do you have to wait for 5 seconds or so for it to work properly?) In these battles the pikes actually performed much worse than when I had them advance on the knights in the town square. I think that I'll just remove their secondary weapon to see if they really are too overpowered. I'm afraid that I am too impatient to micromanage these guys.

  27. #27

    Default Re: Correct use of Pikemen?

    I removed the secondary weapon from the pike units and changed the spacing between the men to 1.0 and am well satisfied with how pike units perform now. Now pike militia beat spear militia in head on confrontations.

    I cannot however find the file to change the settings in the Britan_isles campaign. I made changes in the export_descr_unit files in the medieval data file, the LTC file and the retrofit file. A search does not reveal any other locations. I am at a loss. My Scots pikes still switch to swords so something else needs to be done but I am at a loss. I tried copying the export_descr_unit file and putting it into the Britania folder but that apparently did not work. What file are the Kingdoms' campaign mods using?

  28. #28
    Member Member PBI's Avatar
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    Default Re: Correct use of Pikemen?

    This is probably a stupid question but have you unpacked the Kingdoms files? Each campaign has its own pak file which needs to be unpacked separately. The files are all in the same directory as the original vanilla campaign pak file, and I think the Kingdoms disk contains separate unpackers for each. After running it the relevant EDU for Britannia will be in the folder mods/Britannia/data. You then need to delete the two geography files and set up the -io switch, the same as for vanilla.

    Hope this helps.

  29. #29

    Default Re: Correct use of Pikemen?

    Thanks PBI for the quick reply! I just found out that each campaign has its very own unpackers from searching over in a mod forum. (I am reluctant to enter a mod forum, because I understand so little of what is being said there.) You may be able to teach old dogs tricks, but we are slow.

  30. #30
    Member Member PBI's Avatar
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    Default Re: Correct use of Pikemen?

    No problem.

    So, do you find the "fixed" pikemen overpowered? I'm not convinced they are - decent heavy infantry like DFK will still beat pike militia, and even against light infantry I still seem to suffer a lot of casualties. Plus, missiles still eat them for breakfast, but at least now they can put up a proper fight against cavalry.

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