Part VI: Defensive infantry
The defensive infantryman (or "tank" in modern gaming parlance) has one primary duty: to hold ground and prevent the enemy from passing him. To succeed in this, most tanks are heavily armoured and carry strong shields good against both bow and blade. They are extremely hard to kill and are also often capable of inflicting significant damage to the unwary. Most tanks are armed with both pole weapons and short weapons, the former effective against charging cavalry, the latter good in the short range.
In sieges, tanks are needed to keep an invading force from sticking their big, nasty pointies into the soft bellies of the allied bowmen. A successful tank is one that jams up the castle breach for a good long time, giving his bow-armed friends time to do their jobs. They are more limited in offence: if sent first into the fray, their lower damage output may mean the good guys stay in the line of fire for longer; they are therefore best used to soak up enemy arrows before the walls can be seized.
Rankings are based first on ability to take a punch and only second on damage, speed, manoeuvrability, and other characteristics. Therefore, depending on terrain, army composition, and tactical needs, these rankings may not always be correct.Swadian I5 Sheriff
Polearm average, 1H poor, but armed with bow to weaken enemy before they get into melee range. Armour weak and stats poor; will not survive very long against strong opponents. Does not tank well in siege defence, but can be good off-tank with bow and polearm options. In attack, best as second wave; while waiting for way to clear, can add to arrow count though quite inaccurate.Vaegir I5 Druzhinnik Veteran
Lousy 1H supplemented with throwing knives; though shield good, armour poor; defensive stats poor; will have major difficulty tanking heavy cav and will have hard fight against most heavy infantry (offensive or defensive). Not particularly good in sieges.Khergit I5 Yabagharu Morici
Long, powerful polearm good against cavalry. 1H, armour, and shield mediocre; stats poor; not great against other infantry. Can do any siege infantry job but not good at any of them.Nord I7 Aetheling
Polearm not the strongest, but quickness allows use in sieges; decent 1H. Melee backed up with powerful javelins. Armour and shield good. Great defensive and ranged stats. Good tank all around with ability to cause major hurt at medium range. Fast runner. Excellent in all infantry siege roles. Note that javelins have short range and few in number, so unit not quite able to replace archer in defence and completely unable to take attack archer's role. MosesZD says: If I'm on offense, conducting field operations and storming castles and cities, I want the Nords. I need some tanking and they do a great job. Plus those javelins help soften up charging/defending enemies as we close. OTOH, if I'm defending a city and I'm dealing with 1200+ enemies... I like the Rhodoks because they last longer.Rhodok I7 Condottiero
Impressive equipment and stats. Polearm long, strong, and quick; 1H above average; armour and shield first class; stats unmatched. High Athletics skills, able to reposition quickly. Head and shoulders above other tanks in the field in a defensive formation. Able to fill any infantry siege role admirably.Sarranid I4 Al-Haqa
Polearm quick enough for offensive use; 1H also weak but quick. Terrible armour but shield good especially against projectiles. Poor stats. Okay against cavalry charges and ranged attackers but weak against all else. Damage-wise worse than Swadian I5 at range, better than Swadian up close. Only good as off-tank support or mop-up crew in sieges. Is an I4 unit though, so relatively cheap.Sword Sisters I5 Schildmaid
1H fast but short; armour and shield below average. 2H powerful but not viable in primary tanking role. Stats mediocre although good with shield. Acceptable but unexciting tank. In sieges can take on any infantry role but not that good as main tank.Mercenaries (i) I6 Landsknecht
Polearm most damaging primary among tanks, but slow and not particularly long. 1H fair defensive weapon. Above average armour and shield; shield particularly good against arrows. Good stats; tough, fast, and accurate. Good in all siege roles except first wave attacker.Mercenaries (ii) I6 Grosskomtur
Practically the same stats and equipment loadout as Merc (i) but gives up polearm for a tougher shield. Not as good in stand-off against archers because shield smaller despite being hardier; this is a more aggressive tank meant for in-your-face action. Lack of long weapon restricts role as off-tank, but is very capable main tank. Lacks range and damage though; not that useful in siege attack.Rankings
#1 - Rhodok best all-purpose tank by far.
#2 - Nord excellent tank with powerful ranged attack. Good contender for #1 especially for aggressive players who don't need "stationary" tanking.
#3 - Mercenary (i) good at holding position, (ii) better at charging in. Both strong tanks, but (i) is more versatile and (ii)'s tougher shield may not be that important except against axe-heavy forces (like the Nords).
#4 - Khergit good against cavalry charge only.
#5 - Sword Sister pretty much average but not good against cavalry charges.
#6 - Vaegir has inferior ranged option instead of polearm.
#7 - Sarranid poor tank but cheap.
#8 - Swadian poor tank though has interesting options as second-line attacker or defender in sieges.Overview of factions
Looking at the rankings, we have the following faction characteristics:Swadia
1 heavy cavalry
3 offensive infantry
6 light cavalry
7 horse archer
8 defensive infantryGood:
heavy cavalry, archer, offensive infantryMediocre:
horse archer, defensive infantryVaegirs
3 horse archer
3 heavy cavalry
4 light cavalry
6 defensive infantry
8 offensive infantryGood:
archer, horse archer, heavy cavalry, light cavalryMediocre: Poor:
defensive infantry, offensive infantryKhergit
1 horse archer
2 light cavalry
4 defensive infantry
5 heavy cavalry
7 offensive infantryGood:
horse archer, archer, light cavalryMediocre:
defensive infantry, heavy cavalryPoor:
1 offensive infantry
2 defensive infantry
no horse archer
no heavy cavalry
no light cavalryGood:
offensive infantry, defensive infantryMediocre:Poor:
1 defensive infantry
2 offensive infantry
6 horse archer
7 light cavalry
8 heavy cavalryGood:
defensive infantry, offensive infantry, archerMediocre:Poor:
horse archer, light cavalry, heavy cavalrySarranid
1 heavy cavalry
1 light cavalry
2 horse archer
6 offensive infantry
7 defensive infantryGood:
heavy cavalry, light cavalry, horse archerMediocre:
offensive infantry, defensive infantrySword Sisters
3 light cavalry
5 offensive infantry
5 defensive infantry
5 horse archer
7 heavy cavalryGood:
offensive infantry, defensive infantry, horse archer, archer (but may be good for siege offence), heavy cavalryPoor:DaElf says: I just re-read your summaries of the Cavalry forces, and I must say that the major thing that stood out to me was the fact that what isn't mentioned is how easily obtainable Sword Sister units such as the Kenau and Black Widows are compared to their Faction-based equivalents. You can hire 10+ of them at a time at around 600 denars each to have them fully-trained and ready to fight instantly, which simply can't be done with the Hashams or Mandugais of Calradia.Mercenaries
3 defensive infantry
4 heavy cavalry
4 offensive infantry
5 light cavalry
defensive infantry, heavy cavalryMediocre:
offensive infantry, light cavalry, horse archer, archer (but may be good for siege offence)Poor:DaElf says: I6 Landsknecht and Grosskomturs - Again, much easier to obtain good amounts of than I7 Aethelings or Condottieri.Miscellaneous
4 Black Khergit horse archer
6 Slaver Chief heavy cavalryGood:
Of course, we're looking only at the top tier units in each faction and early-game and mid-game characteristics may be different.
As well, a single-rank summary discards a lot of information. For instance, we see that the Rhodoks are ranked 4th in foot archers. This might lead us to conclude that they don't have good ranged units, but the truth is that their ranged units are awesome in sieges and pretty good in the field. If nothing else, they are tough little buggers capable of going toe-to-toe with heavy infantry. So these numbers are useful merely as a first step and we'll need to dig a little deeper for the nuanced truth.Afterword
So, that's it. It was a little tiring hammering this silly thing together, but it will have been worth if it helps even a few players with their faction/troop choices and tactical planning. I can't say it wasn't fun at all in any case.
Every time I read through these 6 posts, however, I end up disagreeing with myself a little, forcing me to edit them (yet again). This tells me that my analyses here are less than 100% correct (but of course).
I am aware as well that I have only made comparisons across factions but not within factions. This is an issue because what holds true on one level may become less than sensible when we factor in another axis. Add in a third (interaction) axis and we may have a real problem.
Therefore, let me repeat my exhortation from the topmost post: if you have any criticisms, suggestions, or affirmations, please do post here and I'll see how I can best integrate your contribution(s) into this mini-project. You have my thanks in advance!