Spearmen (Shields) is a Empire melee infantry unit in Total War: Warhammer. Spearmen provide the backbone of the Empire's battle line, a defensive row of spears against the enemy charge.
Equipped with a cheaply manufactured spear, a formation of spearmen makes an excellent defensive unit. Those who charge a well-formed unit of spears are faced with an impassable wall of sharp steel points, providing an "Anvil" for the Imperial Army whilst the "Hammer" strikes the killing blow. With their long reach, each rank of Spearmen are able to strike at their enemy, even when they themselves are not within the front ranks.
Spearmen are more common in the northern provinces due to the cheapness of the spear's manufacture and the lack of large-scale industry to field and maintain comparatively more expensive troops like Empire halberdiers and handgunners. In the southern provinces, the longer and heavier pikes are preferred for being ideal in defensive and offensive situations, due to the influence of distant Tilea and their preference for pikes. Nevertheless, Spearmen regiments are still a common sight amongst the battlefields of the Empire, especially campaigns situated within the north.
Strengths and Weaknesses
- ↑ Anti-Large: Anti-large units have an advantage against targets that are at least as large as a horse. This advantage can be a damage bonus against large targets or an attack that focuses on a very small area. However, some units are simply better against large targets because their attacks are slow and easy to dodge by skilled melee combatants.
- ↑ Charge Defence Against Large Foes: When standing and bracing against a charge of large enemies (such as cavalry or monsters) this unit will negate the enemy's charge bonus.
- ↑ Shielded: Shields have a chance of blocking arrows, bolts, rifle shots and similar small arms fire - but only in a forward facing arc.
The Proper Use of Spearmen with or Without Shields
Spearmen in lore and in gameplay are slowly phased out the moment halberdiers and the required income becomes more readily accessible. The reason why this is the case, and why you will still be using a lot of them early one is simple: The increasing prevalence of armored and high health enemies later one, with only the less affluent states relying on spear purely out of lack of options. Don't get me wrong, they are still useful in certain cases. However, from personal experience, I find that even the valiant swordsmen of the empire will be slaughtered against Marienburg halberdiers despite fairing well against spearmen simply due to damage output.
In the early game, you will be strapped for cash and restricted from the more powerful units of the empire. Thankfully you will primarily require bodies to keep the enemy in place for your knights and missile units. The swordsmen will function mainly as responder units alongside knights while spearmen and missile troops form the bulk. If managed properly you can achieve victory will minimal casualties through a sheer number of bodies and missiles.
However, as time goes on it may be a requirement to disband perhaps even the highest-ranked spearmen to make way for more powerful troops. The only restrictions you have on the number of greatswords, handgunners, artillery, and demigryphs is the economy and perhaps the desire to roleplay with lore adherence. If you require a cheap garrison force in an area not likely to be attacked while your real armies are away, then the spearmen can fit that bill. If you are facing a force with plenty of large but unarmored opponents and have the ranged units required but not the bodies to put in between spearmen can fit that role. If your opponent is cheesing Chaos Champions alongside juggernauts and similar units, it's best to bring in the heavy guns and other armor-piercing units.
Remember, a Spearman exists to counter lightly armored large units. If you send them to fight regular infantry or heavy armor, you are wasting their potential, their lives, and your money if that's all you care about.
The light cavalry of The Empire is restricted to skirmishers. As such, the spearmen will mainly be used to hold up their shields and hope to survive projectile volleys until they are in position and absorb the charge, bogging them down for counter flanking. Make sure not to spread out the spearmen too thinly otherwise, the defense bonus is negated and these men are sent flying across the field.
The majority of cavalry that will be fielded by Bretonnia is armored. That doesn't mean Spearmen are useless against the feudal fairy tale try-hards, just means that they are restricted to holding them and their meatshields in place. Be sure to bring handgunners or some other sort of armor-piercing unit with you.
Orcs are generally bigger, stronger, and more armored than humans. However, their warriors often trade armor for more muscles. These guys are half the reason why Spearmen exist. In regards to melee; bring Swordsmen to deal with Goblins, Greatswords to aid Swordsmen to fight Orc Boyz, Spearmen to guard against charges from their monsters and cavalry, and Halberdiers to deal with whatever armored foes they have.
The other half of the reason that Spearmen exist. The majority of Beastman units have little armor and poor leadership. Break the charge, fight a bit, then gun/cut them down as they flee. Do not spread forces away from each other, make sure your units are capable of supporting each other to counter the Vanguard Deployment shared by most units.
Spearmen are pretty much cannon fodder here, if you don't want to spend constant turns replenishing and refilling your ranks, play smart and bring more advanced options.
Lack of anything that is both large and unarmored means that spearmen are little more than a tarpit unit in this match-up.
The Midnight Aristocracy has access to ancient armored units and the powerful Blood Knights. However, most of the undead monstrosities, though terrifying, are unarmoured. Use Halberdiers for the Knights, and Spearmen for the monsters (except the Terrorgheist), but make sure both are supported with Lords, Warrior Priests, Magic, and Missiles due to the Undead rule existing. The Lore of Light's Light of Battle, Net of Amyntok, Pha's Protection can aid in this task.