Medieval: Total War/Units
Militias are cheap, conscripted soldiers which historically have made up the bulk of medieval armies. Examples include peasants, slav warriors, and urban militia. They are cheap to train, have lower upkeep, and have low requirements to build. The fighting quality of militia type units varies from average to terrible, depending on the units. Most are lightly armed and armored and serve well as support units to more professional soldiers which make up the core of the army. Militia type units are most common in the early part of the early era, when most factions are bulking up their first armies and gradually they are replaced by stronger and more powerful units as the years go by.
Militia are good for garrison duties in safer provinces. Having an army in the province boosts loyalty but it does not matter what quality the units are, peasants count as much as knights in terms of boosting loyalty.
Militia can serve a use in battle as well, just by sheer numbers. Outnumbering the enemy gives troops a morale boost and lowers the morale of the enemy, several units of peasants could double or triple the size of an army and tip the balance in favor of victory. Militia units also are quite expendable and can be used to soak up missile fire, serve as fodder for enemy units and most roles which any warm body will do.
Beware the low morale that most militia units have. They are often the first units to route, and that lowers the moral of other non-elite, non-disciplined units in the army, sometimes causing a chain reaction leading to the loss of the battle.
Skirmishers are lightly armed, fast troops. They typically have little to no armor, and are armed with javelins or short bows. Their job is to pester slower enemy infantry units, causing casualties and disrupting enemy formations. They are not very strong in melee, but usually are tough enough to kill archers or other skirmishers and sometimes are useful as flankers.
In battle skirmishers usually start ahead of the main battle line and fire on the enemy as they approach. This forces the enemy to either ignore them and take the casualties, or to divert troops to drive the skirmishers off -- possibly splitting up the army and causing breaks in the line. Skirmishers are fast enough to retreat behind friendly infantry until battle is joined. They can then circle around enemy lines and fire into the rear.
If the battle is won skirmishers can chase down routers since they are faster than most infantry.
Light cavalry is the bane of skirmishers, as they are quick enough to run them down and usually powerful enough to decimate a unit of skirmishers caught in the open. Skirmishers will also die when fighting heavy infantry like swordsmen or shocktroops head-on.
Spearmen include both true spearmen as well as halbardiers and pikemen.
Spearmen are men with spears or spear like objects. Experts believe this where the term 'spear' 'man' comes from.
Spears being as long and pointy as they are it means that spearmen tend to be good at defending themselves which means they don’t tend to die as fast as some of the other soldiers on the battlefield.
That being said they are the ideal unit for defending bottlenecks like bridge crossings or castle gates. Defence is their forte.
They are the unit that trumps the feared Heavy Cavalry. No horse wants to charge into a wall of spikes, the men behind the front line can also reach out and poke someone in the eye so spearmen are usually very good at fighting if they have a few men behind the front line formation.
How deep that formation is depends on how long their spears are.
Swordsmen are generally professional soldiers with high quality armor and weapons. They generally have very balanced stats, with both good attack and defense, average speeds, above average morale and some armor. Swordsmen are very well-rounded soldiers with no large weaknesses and suitable for most situations. They are very reliable and will serve well as front line troops and kill spearmen, militia and other swordsmen quite well.
Swordsmen are somewhat vulnerable to heavy cavalry, especially if spread out in a thin formation. They also are vulnerable to fast skirmishers, who usually fire armor-piercing javelins and are too quick to be run down by swordsmen.
Swordsmen include units like feudal men at arms, Byzintine Infantry, Feudal Foot Knights and Arab Infantry.
Shocktroops are strong, offense-oriented attack infantry. Their job on the battlefield is to break enemy formations and cause as much carnage as possible. They are heavily armed but often lightly armored, with high attack and charge values and often an armor-piercing attack. They are used either in a frontal attack against the enemy lines, or as flankers marching around the enemy to charge from the rear. Shocktroops are expected to take terrible casualties and are by nature somewhat expendable. Examples of shock troops are Varangian Guard, Vikings and Ghazi Infantry.
 Missile Infantry
Missile Infantry are a suppressing unit the fires missiles into enemy units, trying to cause as much damage as possible with the equipment they have. They are useful to have before the enemy army reaches your ranks.
Missile Infantry are very weak in melee combat, so they are usually light weight and quick on their feet, which lets them retreat fast enough to get away from stronger enemies. If your missile infantry gets caught in a unit of heavy infantry or cavalry they will be destroyed, depending on the condition of the enemy.
Missile Infantry's largest enemies are heavy units, mostly cavalry because cavalry can catch missile infantry.
 Light Cavalry
Light Cavalry are the fastest units in the game. They are lightly armed and armored and are employed for their speed. Their job is to run down skirmishers, archers, mounted archer units and isolated artillery. Their melee and charge abilities are usually quite modest, and they should be kept away from more powerful units.
All armies should have some light cavalry. Without cavalry the army has no way to defeat cavalry archers or any unit faster than their fastest infantry. This leaves the army open to hit and run attacks and constant pestering by foes it can never quite reach.
Light cavalry's other major job is to run down routers after the battle is won. They are very effective in this, in some battles each unit might capture as many as 200 men each.
 Heavy Cavalry
Heavy Cavalry are rich men strapped up in expensive equipment on expensive horses.
They are usually nobility and due to their state of the art equipment and training they are usually expensive to maintain.
Heavy Cavalry usually have the ability to cause lots of damage when they charge their big armoured pedigree horses into infantry formations.
That being said Heavy Cavalry are good at fighting just about any unit on the battlefield except Men with very long and sharp poles like spearmen.
Another weakness of Heavy Cavalry is that they are heavy! That is why they are called heavy cavalry.
Heavy Cavalry tend to get tired from lugging around rich men in heavy suits while also fending off sharp objects like swords and spears (you try doing it). This means Heavy Cavalry can sometimes be left in a situation that is really bad.
- 2 such situations are
- When heavy cavalry have been fighting for a long time and they get tired. This makes them unable to fight very well, if they get exhausted you will find they can’t crash into enemy formations and cause havoc like they could when they were quite fresh. In their tired state they can be killed off by fresh reinforcements.
- Heavy Cavalry can find themselves in a situation where they are facing men on horses who have bows that try and hurt them with arrows. When Heavy Cavalry try and chase these mean people on horses with bows they will find that due to their Heavyness they can’t be as fast as the mean people on horses with bows. If they keep trying to chase them they will find themselves quite tired from running around with a rich white guy in a metal suit on top of him… It can lead to the first situation above. The archers on horses however are lightly armed, swifter and don’t tend to tire as quickly.
Heavy Cavalry have to be careful of horse archers. If they chase them they might well get tired. If they don’t chase them they will get lots of arrows being shot at them and no one really likes having arrows shot at them.