Pistoliers is a Empire cavalry unit in Total War: Warhammer. The Pistoliers are standard ranged cavalry, their pistols packing an effective punch whilst maintaining mobility.
Pistoliers are young nobles who are not yet old or experienced enough to test their spurs in battle or join one of the Knightly Orders. However, the clarion Call-to-Arms pounds strongly in the veins of these youths, and many cannot wait to march to war and prove themselves on the glorious field of combat. Some spirited young nobles may gather their friends and form regiments of Pistoliers of their own, but most join the ranks of the Pistolkorps, a military organisation funded by the Emperor, the Engineers' School and sponsored by several Knightly Orders. Here, the nobles learn about horsemanship and war from the Outrider - grizzled veterans paid by the Knights to train their sons. Most of the young men who survive their time in the Pistolkorps go on to join a Knightly Order and put the skills and scars they have earned to good use as a fully armoured Knight.
- ↑ Vanguard Deployment: This unit can deploy in an expanded deployment area, allowing it to start the battle within striking distance of the enemy - or somewhere unexpected.
- ↑ Very Fast: This unit can run circles around most other units, taunting and harrassing the enemy or evading its missile fire.
- ↓ Weak Against Armour: This unit's attack can hardly punch through armour and is thus wasted on heavily armoured enemies.
Better than everyone gives them credit for
The pistoliers should not be your main unit to do damage to an enemy, but as skirmishers, post-victory prisoner takers, or interrupting units they are excellent and having a unit around never hurts, particularly in an auxiliary force.
Their best use is of course their speed. Run them off into some trees and pull them out later to start harassing and pulling away a valuable enemy infantry unit, or charge down and stop an enemy artillery position. If you see a group of heavy charging knights attacking an unprepared infantry set, you can make good use of this unit even if in the end you end up totally sacrificing your pistoliers to give them time to get set and counter the charge. While of course they're not the end game unit of choice, they always have an application somewhere. They CAN do serious damage if you park them behind a unit that is fighting in melee and start shooting them in the back. Even heavily armored troops, since armor is reduced heavily against attacks from behind. They function very similarly to crossbowmen in this role, ones that you can get into position very quickly, and can chase the enemy down the field until they are eliminated from combat. Consider using them against elite troops in this manner. It may seem counter intuitive, but they can provide the morale busting and unit routing you need to really turn a battle around.
A few tips on how to use them right here:
-They can shoot monsters and cavalry above the heads of the units pinning them down. Even if you think they're "weak" they're probably contributing a steady amount of damage to a target that is valuable to take down. This leads into our second point
-Always shoot units in the back. Armor is severely reduced against attacks from behind, they take a massive leadership penalty (-16) and they have no chance to block. Since your units are so fast and can get into position easily, this is where they really shine. Even monstrous units crumble quickly against a barrage of pistol fire to the back.
-These are morale breakers extraordinaire when microed. Shots in the back are -16. Charging a unit from behind that is already in in combat, firing a volley on the way in gets them the flanked, losing combat, damage taken, taking missile damage and attacked in the back penalties, which is a very steep shock to morale. Some of the sturdiest units in the game that are not unbreakable can be made to waiver and break at which the pistoliers need to follow swords drawn so they cannot recover cohesion.
-Prettymuch all of the Pistol Power tip is vital. Knowing when to draw your swords changes how you will view them dramatically.
As the Better than everyone gives them credit for tip states, Pistolier regiments best strength is their speed. They are to be used as scouts, ambushers, skirmishers, and support. They are able to fire while moving, put 'em on skirmish mode and set them to attack unarmored units, they will flee while firing as the enemy attempts to close in. Due to their elevated height, they can fire over the heads of your own soldiers, and due to their speed, they can lure away enemies without risk of being caught most of the time. Also use them to give brief chase against units that route, but do not chase them for to long as you may need the Pistoliers for something more important, that and the enemy could intercept them with their own cavalry if you're not careful.
A common misuse of pistoliers is to get frustrated with them because you only use them as ranged attackers. Dont be afraid to switch them to melee and use them as light cavalry, the same way other factions use chaos hounds/dire wolves/etc. Knowing when to use them in melee makes them go from the most situational and useless light cav to the most adaptable and possibly best light cav in the game. They are terrible against archers with their pistols but switch them to melee and they become an excellent force against missiles. In melee they usually stop artillery from firing and given time will kill the crew and maybe break the piece as well. As far as taking prisoners go, they are much more effective in melee as well. Imagine how much disruption you could do with a cavalry force that gets to its target 50% faster than your reiksguard? Well, if you use them right, that's exactly what the pistoliers are. Very cheap, very fast, very adaptable. They reflect the skill of who is using them.
TL;DR- if you're only using the pistols, you're not using the other two important parts of the unit- the horse for its speed(a massive 92, only eclipsed by flying units) and the rider(represented by your mind) knowing when to switch to best suit any situation..
Your fellow man, they will utilize the same tactics and units you do, fight smarter.
- Infantry: The State Troops are not much of a threat, the Greatswords will laugh as your pistol shoots, and the Crossbowmen and Handgunnners are capable of shooting at the Pistoliers before they get into range. Use Vanguard Deployment to hide them from view then fire at their flanks and retreat before the move into position to retaliate, skirmish mode won't react to enemy missiles so you must observe and relocate manually. *Another authors note: Greatswords will laugh at your pistol shots...from the front. From the back or sides, especially when already fighting another unit, they will laugh because they're having a mental breakdown as death suddenly has taken half the unit in a few seconds. Crossbows and handgunners will win ranged duels, yes. Pistoliers however will win melee combat, and being such fast gap-closers with a charge bonus and better melee stats means they will do so handily, then run the unit off until it is shattered, off the field or dead.
- Cavalry: In a fight, they will only be able to match other Pistoliers. Use them to annoy and lure the knights into traps. When facing Outriders, the Outriders have higher damage, but the Pistoliers fire much faster which is an advantage over the Outriders since both are not considered armored. You should still utilize your speed and the Pistoliers irritating, haughty attitudes as lures for a trap regardless. Be careful, for when pistoliers run out of bullets, they will resort to their blades and die faster than they run. *using pistoliers as a ranged unit to trade with other ranged units, mounted or not, is just a generally bad idea. Its not what they're meant for. They will annoy the hell out of and tire out enemy heavy cav though while barely breaking a sweat.
- Artillery: Their Vanguard Deployment, Speed and ability to fire on the move means you can intercept artillery crew, whittle them down, and outrun retaliation. *In my opinion you always charge artillery with swords drawn. Even if you do take some attritional casualties(you wont take many) it prevents them from firing at all, which is the most important thing. If you have time to micro you can pull a few yards away, volley and then charge again to refresh the bonus (Or use the J key as it cycle charges and they will fire automatically when slightly out of melee)
- Warmachines: Against the Luminark: it is not registered as armored, but due to its aura that grants +12% protection against physical, it may have units that would protect it. Get in, fire a single volley or atleast half of one, then run. Against Steam Tank: Are you stupid? *Against the Luminark always charge it in melee. Its melee stats are horrific and it cant fire back. Against a steam tank you need to have another unit that will tie it up and let your pistols fire at it. Again, heavily reduced armor from the back means more damage than you'd think.
No... Just no.
*another authors note: They can be especially effective here because they're faster than all their dwarfen counterparts, they can easily dismantle artillery crews with their pistols and cycle charges to knock them down/disrupt firing and repeat as the crews have no means to fight them back, can be used as pseudo-shock cav against ranged(charge them in, pull them out, charge them in) to disrupt firing and pull their targeting off balance, just don't stand in melee like you would against other factions archers because the dwarfs will win. However against an army where speed is their biggest weakness, super speedy ranged cav has a place. Their frontal attacks may be lackluster against dwarfs but they can circle around units- even Ironbreakers- to effectively shoot them in the back since units have severely reduced armor and no block chance against attacks in the back. These shots also do -16 morale ontop of any "damage taken" "losing combat" "flanked" and other penalties they take. Dwarf units are hard to morale shock but this is a great unit to do it with.They aren't as much of a factor in dwarf battles but that doesn't mean they aren't a factor.
Greenskins often trade armor for more hitting power. The Pistoliers should still be used as a skirmisher and distraction against the green menace and lure them away from where they could do damage. As well as to gun down any that route.
- Boyz: Only the Black Orcs have armor, and the gobbos will route easily due to poor leadership, but only give short chases before focusing on something more important.
- Cavalry: Use the Pistoliers to harass and lure the Boar Boyz into a chase that should lead them into a wall of braced spears or halberds. Beware the Wolf Riders and Mounted Archers. If you have a pair of outriders to use in tandem- one with pistols one with blades drawn to run into the mounted archers, you can usually wipe out a mounted archer unit without losing more than 25% of one unit.
- Artillery: Same as against empire, but be careful as the Doom Divers may steer themselves towards the Pistoliers. Charge them with blades drawn.
- Monsters: Use the Pistoliers to distract the Giants and lure them into a line of spearmen while the Crossbowmen pelt them to death from afar. The trolls will barely feel the pistol shots, fire anyway to get their attention, then lure them into Halberdiers to brace their charge and then envelop the trolls with either Demigryph Halberds, Knights of the Blazing Sun, or another unit of Halberds with Bright Wizard on a horse enchanting their weapons with flames. Monstrous units like the arachnarok, giants, trolls can be steadily harassed by volumes on gunfire over the pinning units (spearmen or halbs preferably) heads and they will rack up a fair bit of damage. Try to shoot them from behind as always.
No ranged units other than spellcasters here, vampires are heavily armored, necromancers look tempting targets due to low armor but they are feared for a reason.
- Infantry: Being undead, they could sprout up from the ground and cut off your Pistoliers. Thankfully, the only armored ones are the Grave Guard. Fell Bats have no armor and are listed as expendable, which means they are easy to kill. If any Varghiests flee through the air, give chase for a bit then come back to support the infantry. Beware the Dire Wolves.
- Cavalry: Each Pistolier should lure one regiment them each away from the front with skirmish mode to deny the enemy cavalry aid, preferably by luring them into Halberdiers.
- Monsters: Its best to lure these to Halberdiers who have hero support. Shoot a bit, and when they give chase, flee. Flee right through a unit of braced Halberds, then join the crossbowmen at shooting at them. Chase them for a bit if they route.
Its best to leave the Pistoliers out of this fight.
- Infantry: Only the Marauders are viable targets.
- Cavalry: The Maurader Horsemen are poorly protected, but that's because they're skirmishers. Except they deal more damage.
- Monsters: Need I answer? *alternative opinion: Again, outspeeding the enemy, morale shocking and shooting into the back is important. Also the fact that hellcannon is a constant threat crews never break actually make pistoliers valuable here they just need to shoot at the crews because they never break and will do a lot of damage if stood in melee against.
Vast majority are poorly armoured and poorly disciplined, but also have vanguard deployment. Best to keep the Pistoliers close to the troops as ranged support.
- Infantry: Bestigors are best shot at by Handgunners and Outriders, the Pistoliers should concern themselves with the other Gor types. Fire at the flanks of the shielded variants, and shoot from behind the common soldiery against the unshielded.
- Cavalry: Centigors have shields, the great weapons variant doesn't, and the skirmisher variant does more damage. Use skirmish mode against all, you'll take damage from the Skirmishers, but you have to distract them to led them to either Spearmen backed by Crossbowmen, or to distract them from your Demigryph Halberds if they aren't Greatweapons.
- Monsters: Keep some Pistoliers in reserve to chase the Minotaurs down as they flee from your Spearmen.
Show them the power of guns
- Infantry: Poorly trained and armed with pitiful weapons and armor. As long as there are no lords and leaders, they will route easily, use shock cavalry against the archers, and fire away from either the flanks or from behind your swordsmen to show how much superior the Imperial Nobles are to the Bretonnian ones.
- Cavalry: The yeomen archers could be a problem, but the other cavalry should be easy to bait. Set your Pistoliers just ahead of some Halberdiers, when the opponent draws near, charge them. Before you can actually clash, have the Pistoliers retreat through the Halberds. If done correctly the opponent will have made a disastrous charge and is losing men, quickly counter flank with either Halberds or Knights of your own. Use Handgunners and Outriders against Pegasus Knights.
- Artillery: Any kind of Cavalry would do, just avoid the barrage.