#1 3rd Dec 2018 04:19:06

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Registered: 26th Sep 2018
Posts: 16

Swordsman is strictly a defensive unit

There seems to be (or, more precisely, to have been a few years ago...) a discussion about swordsmen vs pikemen, so I decided to present my opinion on that matter (yea, just a tiny bit late).

Many players hold that the swordsman is the strongest unit and, therefore, best suited for sieges. If I recall correctly, even the in-game manual says so. But, in fact, this is quite far from the truth, and swordsmen are next to useless in laying a siege.

Sure, swordsmen have powerful attack and decent armor. But they also have a lot of disadvantages which more than offset this fact:

  • slow

  • vulnerable to crossbow bolts

  • very vulnerable to fire

  • cannot dig moats

  • cannot climb ladders (duh)

  • slow

  • did I already mention that they are slow? In an open field, an archer can run in circles around the swordsman, and will eventually bring him down.

So what is the best melee unit for sieges? Unsurprisingly, the pikeman it is. He is significantly faster than the swordsman, has better armor, and can dig moats. This makes him much more likely to reach the enemy walls before being reduced to scrap metal. His only disadvantage is his pathetic attack, but it isn't as crippling as it probably was intended by developers. This is because the peculiar way Stronghold 1 handles unit collision.

I believe everybody has noticed by now that units take no space themselves, and theoretically there can be any number of friendly units on exactly the same spot. They will spread out when given an opportunity, but they will remain in the same spot if there's no room to spread to, or if they are attacking. The first condition also enables tower stuffing, but that's off topic.

This shortcomingfeature also allows you, with the slightest amount of micro-management, to have two or three pikemen standing on the same tile and attacking the same wall block. Despite the weak attack of individual pikemen, this arrangement will tear through the walls in reasonable time. Besides, any damage by incoming arrows will be spread over a larger count of units, so each of them has a greater chance to survive.

The swordsman is actually a defensive unit, and his true purpose is defending wall breaches. Groups of swordsmen are best placed where such breaches are likely to occur — right behind the gatehouse; in the outer court, next to the most exposed stretch of wall; and on top of the keep (duh). Located in this way, they won't have to rush to the enemy, so their slowness won't be an issue, and the walls will protect them from enemy fire. They will engage the attacking troops from three sides and chop them down as quickly as they arrive.

Now, it might seem that pikemen are just as suitable for that task. But, in fact, this is the sort of situation where their weak attack turns into a big weakness. If the advancing file of enemies is not dispatched quickly, they all will squeeze into a single tile and start attacking all at once. In effect, this creates a "super soldier", which will kill even the toughest opponent in one blow. Consequently, pikemen can only slow down the attack, which actually may make it stronger, unless your ranged units provide ample fire support. Meanwhile, a sufficient number of swordsmen can fend off an attack on its own.


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#2 3rd Dec 2018 23:06:39

High Emperor
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From: Azusa, Ca. USA
Registered: 1st Jan 2015
Posts: 8,401

Re: Swordsman is strictly a defensive unit

Thanks odisseus....Great Observations on your behalf. I am sure those of us who play The Older Versions still will appreciate them!  big_smile

Ego Sum Re Historica Meritissimus


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#3 4th Dec 2018 19:32:09

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Registered: 31st Aug 2014
Posts: 619

Re: Swordsman is strictly a defensive unit

Nice analysis, odisseus.

I remember in the olden days when I played a lot of multiplayer SH1, all the good players ended up fielding armies of pikemen to attack the enemies. And that even though by concept it would have been the pikemen for defence and the swordmen for attack.

But you give the reasons why in the hard test on the battlefield it turned out the other way around. Nicely explained smile

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