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Topic Subject:Of Steel and Pike [Uploaded]
Scipii
TWH Seraph
posted 16 December 2012 10:40 EDT (US)         
[Draft v0.1] Of Steel and Pike
By Scipii
--------------

The pike, weapon of choice for the Macedonian phalanxes pioneered by Philip of Macedon and feared by many a Rome: Total War general. So cometh Medieval 2: Total War why hath thy pike not seen a resurgence akin to that seen in Medieval history. Derided by many as unreliable and useless for anything more than defending choke points, today we shall examine the enigma that is the Medieval 2: Total War Pikeman.

So why do so many generals consider them unreliable in comparison to other types of soldiers. Well once the Pikemen's "hedgehog" of pikes has been penetrated by enemy soldiers the Pikemen are, usually, as good as dead. So the Pikeman's tendency while locked in combat to abandon his pike in favour of his sidearm, usually a sword, often heralds the company's doom.

Due to this very flaw many generals do not persist with Pikemen when a wealth of other options exist. After all, why bother attempting to master the pike when it is often easier to persist with dismounted knights. However, with some practice we can minimize our Pikemen's flaws and utilise them both on the defensive and offensive, as per history.

So how do we minimise the weaknesses of pikes in Medieval 2: Total War? Well with a bit of experimentation it has been established that pikes can be vastly improved by co-operating with another company of pikes in unison. So as a basic rule to remember before each battle, two pikes are much better then just one, and always deployed with spear wall enabled unless running is a priority. Though, there is much we must yet learn before we can taste a glorious victory.

Surprisingly critical to our success is how we micromanage our Pikemen's Guard Mode status. Perhaps surprisingly, Guard Mode can have a large affect on the performance of our Pikemen. Without Guard Mode on our Pikemen will act aggressively and engage in what could be referred to as the "Push of pikes". While with Guard Mode enabled our Pikemen will act defensively by maintaining their position and the structure of the pike wall at the expense of offensive power, which is useful when receiving charges. Yet all our Guard Mode management will be for naught without learning how to properly deploy our Pikemen.

In Medieval 2: Total War when using Pikemen we must adapt our thinking and not think of two pike companies as operating side by side like we did previously as with Phalanxes in Rome: Total War. Rather we have to think of them as two controllable elements representing our desired pike square, one company the front half of the pike square and the other company the rear half. Optimally, we want these two pike companies deployed three to four men deep, with one company staggered directly behind the other.

Alternatively we could deploy our Pikemen on top of each other for an extremely condensed, yet effective, pike square, but we run the risk of taking greater casualties from ranged weapons like arrows or artillery. However, this deployment technique comes in handy to reduce casualties when faced with charging shock, or heavily armoured, troops which may be able to initially penetrate our pike wall due to their momentum. If the enemy does breach our pike wall there are a few tricks we can use to get our Pikemen to re-assume their pikes; such as giving them a Halt order, or toggling the Guard Mode and Spear Wall abilities.

Whilst a well deployed, coordinated, and micro-managed pike square can be an incredible force in both single-player and mutliplayer. Just as with Phalanxes in Rome: Total War, we should never neglect the importance of supporting our pikes whilst they carry out their orders. So it is vital to protect their flanks whilst engaged and to try and minimize damage from enemy skirmishers due to their usually low defense rating, Scotland excluded.

Take this advice and hone your skills on the battlefield and prove to the doubters that the pike is very much alive given the time, effort, and understanding needed to master its use. After all, why should you suffer the tyranny of expensive dismounted knights when you could perfect the pike and spend that saved gold on our supporting soldiers and their upgrades during multiplayer games.
AuthorReplies:
Alex_the_Bold
Legionary
posted 16 December 2012 10:54 EDT (US)     1 / 16       
I have also found out that missile troops operating under the protection of pikemen, especially musketeers, are better protected against cavalry. To achieve this, place your missile troops in a thin line, just before the first line of pikemen under the spears, with the skirmish mode unselected. Its quite efficient against heavily armoured infantry. However, I don't think that pikemen would win dismounted feudals, except for the Obudshaer (spelling) of Denmark.

Invincibility lies in defence, while the possibility of victory in the attack -Sun Tzu
Akouson me, pataxon de (hit me, but first listen to me)-Themistocles to Euribiadis prior to the battle of Salamis.
Scipii
TWH Seraph
posted 16 December 2012 11:34 EDT (US)     2 / 16       
Concur on the ranged units thing, and that brings to light the reasons for the development of the Spanish Tercio.

As for Pikemen fighting against dismounted Knights, of all kinds, I guess you have to experience it to believe it. However, it is indeed quite possibly to do, and I've been fighting some of the finest dismounted Knights around to fine tune things. Personally I would hypothesis that Pikemen would be better individually in Medieval 2: Total War had Creative Assembly made individual pike units able to deploy their pikes beyond the third line, if I remember correctly, since the addition of more pikes to the fight really helps.

Teaming Pikemen and Halberdiers, or equivalent, together certainly can be effective at times. After all historically before the invention of effective gunpowder weapons Halberds were used by the Swiss in conjunction with their pikes to both aid the "Push of pikes" and due to their ability to operate better in close combat.

[This message has been edited by Scipii (edited 12-16-2012 @ 11:37 AM).]

Alex_the_Bold
Legionary
posted 16 December 2012 11:51 EDT (US)     3 / 16       
Well, Dismounted Feudals are more maneuverable than pikemen in Spear Wall. However, mixing the pikemen with other melee units, such as spearmen or swordsmen is better. The best combination I've found is with Denmark: Obudshaer with Norse Axemen or Huscarls and Arquebusiers has proved nearly invisible in the late game. Also, Tercio Pikemen and Dismounted Conquistadores are very effective...

Invincibility lies in defence, while the possibility of victory in the attack -Sun Tzu
Akouson me, pataxon de (hit me, but first listen to me)-Themistocles to Euribiadis prior to the battle of Salamis.
EnemyofJupitor
HG Alumnus Superbus
posted 16 December 2012 12:08 EDT (US)     4 / 16       
What about offensive stuff? Can the double line moving forward to engage work at all?

And I shall go Softly into the Night Taking my Dreams As will You
Alex_the_Bold
Legionary
posted 16 December 2012 12:15 EDT (US)     5 / 16       
You mean the mixed line? If so, no, this is purely a defensive formation against both cavalry and melee infantry. I never use pikemen in offense, like phalanxes in RTW, because the Spear Wall is always breaking. I rely in shock troops and cavalry in offense and use pikemen as a wall to rally my men or defend a position.

Invincibility lies in defence, while the possibility of victory in the attack -Sun Tzu
Akouson me, pataxon de (hit me, but first listen to me)-Themistocles to Euribiadis prior to the battle of Salamis.
Scipii
TWH Seraph
posted 16 December 2012 20:21 EDT (US)     6 / 16       
I believe we shall probably have to agree to disagree, but it is great to see other people's opinions. After all if you did not have much luck using Macedonian styled Phalanxes offensively in Rome: Total War then you likely would not have much luck using Pikemen in Medieval 2 offensively.

Maneuverability is not the only factor that must be considered here, as factors like cost in a 10k battle also play a role. Any Florins you save by using pikemen can be invested in to other parts of your army, like buying a good amount of mounted Knights and support infantry. You have to be buying some pretty great stuff to stop yourself fielding a full 20 units. France have it pretty good in that regard since you have Scots Guard or those fancy Crossbowmen that can double up as both ranged skirmishers and support infantry, all flanked by lots of cavalry.
Alex_the_Bold
Legionary
posted 17 December 2012 12:08 EDT (US)     7 / 16       
As a matter of fact I almost exclusively use the phalanx offensively in RTW with great success. I just don't like pikes in M2TW. As for cost, my ideal 10K army is the following:

As HRE:
4 Armoured Sergeants: 2160 florins
2 Dismounted Feudals: 1140 florins
2 Zweihander: 1360 florins
3 Pavise Crossbowmen: 1470 florins
4 Feudal Knights: 2920 florins
1 Reiter: 920 florins (my special skirmishing unit)

I either used Mailed knights in order to save more money for missile units or used a Serpentine instead of the Reiters, I haven't played MP in a long time, though...

Invincibility lies in defence, while the possibility of victory in the attack -Sun Tzu
Akouson me, pataxon de (hit me, but first listen to me)-Themistocles to Euribiadis prior to the battle of Salamis.
Alex_the_Bold
Legionary
posted 28 December 2012 12:35 EDT (US)     8 / 16       
So, what happened to this article?

Invincibility lies in defence, while the possibility of victory in the attack -Sun Tzu
Akouson me, pataxon de (hit me, but first listen to me)-Themistocles to Euribiadis prior to the battle of Salamis.
EnemyofJupitor
HG Alumnus Superbus
posted 28 December 2012 17:07 EDT (US)     9 / 16       
Bit of a problem with the gallery for the other article I'm trying to do. It's a bit of a techie thing that's beyond me, so I'm asking Zen and hoping.

And I shall go Softly into the Night Taking my Dreams As will You
EnemyofJupitor
HG Alumnus Superbus
posted 04 January 2013 05:59 EDT (US)     10 / 16       
Now next on my list.

And I shall go Softly into the Night Taking my Dreams As will You
EnemyofJupitor
HG Alumnus Superbus
posted 04 January 2013 06:56 EDT (US)     11 / 16       
Is now on the list.

And I shall go Softly into the Night Taking my Dreams As will You
Scipii
TWH Seraph
posted 06 January 2013 10:58 EDT (US)     12 / 16       
Sadly any amendments and pictures I had planned to date have been postponed due to a variety of reasons, such as family (or own) well-being. So I'll have to get around to them when I get a chance to.
EnemyofJupitor
HG Alumnus Superbus
posted 06 January 2013 13:19 EDT (US)     13 / 16       
It's cool, we can update as we go along

And I shall go Softly into the Night Taking my Dreams As will You
SwampRat
M2TW Ladder Leader
posted 12 January 2013 07:41 EDT (US)     14 / 16       
I must get out of the habit of using the 'recent posts' on the M2TW homepage to check for posts - it doesn't cover the articles.

The article is now up; if I've fluffed it up despite EoJ's careful instructions then let me know.

I quite like combining pikes and other troops that could be vulnerable to cavalry charges, for example if you've got the expensive French full plate crossbowmen then bunging them just in front of a pike line lets them have a clear shot until the last moment and anything engaging them in hand-to-hand also gets the pike line joining in.

If I can find a picture of my 'French phallus phalanx' formation I'll post that. It was odd but quite jolly (assuming missile superiority / an over-eager EoJ as opponent)
EnemyofJupitor
HG Alumnus Superbus
posted 12 January 2013 10:24 EDT (US)     15 / 16       
Nice 'un, Swampy

And I shall go Softly into the Night Taking my Dreams As will You
Alex_the_Bold
Legionary
posted 13 January 2013 13:39 EDT (US)     16 / 16       
A nice and useful article, Scipii. Perhaps I should consider using pikemen more often. I would love to see that French Fallus of yours, Swampy

Invincibility lies in defence, while the possibility of victory in the attack -Sun Tzu
Akouson me, pataxon de (hit me, but first listen to me)-Themistocles to Euribiadis prior to the battle of Salamis.
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