Medieval II : Total War by SEGA – Strategy : Special attacks and formations


1.2…………….. Special attacks and formations
Q: How do I get my longbowmen to deploy stakes?


1. Stakes must be deployed during the Deployment Phase.
2. Stakes cannot be placed on obstacles or hard surfaces like roads. You have to place stakes on soft ground. At least from what I have seen, I couldn’t place stakes during a bridge battle since it was a road so I had to place it next to it.
3. Cavalry running through will be instantly killed.
4. Usually infantry running through will be slowed down.
5. Cavalry can bypass stakes by walking through them.

Note: Janissary and Lithuanian archers also get stakes.

You can, of course, deploy the stakes, then move the archers back and replace them with decent melee infantry to guard the stakes.

Q: When should I use the Cantabran circle formation?


It’s useful only if you are getting hit hard by enemy missiles. Usually, with a large superiority in missiles of a pure HA army, it’s better simply to sit in squares and flank with the units so your units sit in a circle around their army shooting. Multiple horse archers in circles collide with each other any how.

Q: When should I use flaming arrows in a field battle?

A: Flaming arrows have a larger effect on morale, but cause less casualties since they fire more slowly. Use them when you want to weaken the enemies morale (e.g. preparatory to a decisive melee), rather than just shoot them to death. The issue is discussed here:

BigTex hypothesises, based on BI, that flaming arrows may be more accurate at night time (they are on by default in night battles). They may be less accurate in day time.

Flaming arrows also seem to cause more casualties if they hit. They may be better to use against heavily armoured targets.

Q: When is the schiltrom formation useful?

A: It is a defensive formation against melee attack – it will not kill many enemies, but it should reduce casualties against a charge (perhaps especially from cavalry). It can be useful to deploy at the front, to take the initial hit of a charge. You can then send in other units kept in a second line to counter-attack the AI.

Schiltroms seems particularly vulnerable to missiles. An effective tactic in BI was to menace AI spearmen with cavalry to induce them to form schiltrom and then shoot them down with your archers.

1.3…………….. Sieges

Q: Should I sit out a siege or launch an assault?

A: Sitting out a siege reduces the number of tiresome siege battles you have to fight and also paces your expansion, perhaps producing a more challenging game since the AI has more time to build up. However, storming settlements may bring you closer to victory for the reasons RickooClan articulates:

I have read some guides which suggesting saving your troops by sitting out the siege but honestly i think that is a very bad move. The reasons are:

1. Siege battle is the best place to clear out your low-tech troops such as militia which could give room to maintain better troops.

2. Each settlement at least give you 700 forin per turn which could recruit 2~3 low tech troops. Lets say you sit for 5 turns on a sieging a settlement you actually lost 4~5k forin potential income. By comparing the cost of the troops you may lost in battle, it does not worth it. [You will only lost 40~100 militia men in early game by taking a settlement even on VH/VH, and they only cost around 700 forin.]

3. Sitting on siege is a waste of your army force, especially for France you have lots of bother to defend.

4. Time is important, the faster to take the settlement, the quicker you establish your power and develop your faction. At least this is true for France.

Q: How can I set fire to rams and siege towers? They never burn!


I always try to defend with at least 4-6 units of longbows or above and nearly always successfully burn anything that comes close.

I’m playing Spain now, and although peasant archers … in sufficient quantities they have also managed to set fire to well over half of the rams and towers that they have come up against.

I also park a unit of my best melee troops in the space between the gate towers in such situations. I don’t think the area is wide enough for archers to be that effective, but a melee unit is fairly safe there and will be well positioned to rush to the walls on either side of the gate towers as the need arises.

Q: Can I re-use ladders and siege equipment, e.g. after taking down the outer wall?


You can re-use ladders. You just need to wave your cursor around the bottom of one of the ladders until it turns into a hand cursor; the same one that lets you pick up the ram. For some reason my screengrab doesn’t show my cursor, so I’ve added some arrows to show you where to put your cursor.

…ladders and rams can move through gateways. In addition, I have managed to move catapults through them as well. It also appears that anything (including trebuchets) can move through wall breaches, though I have yet to try that with a siege tower.

It appears that the restriction on gateways is limited to units that are too high. In addition to trebuchets, the tall Venetian morale-boost standard (Carrocio or something) cannot move through gateways.

I can also confirm that ladders can be moved after being placed. I have not done so myself, but I have seen the AI take a ladder down from an outer wall to assault an inner wall after capturing the outer wall and gateway.

… it is not necessary to break any wall or gate after having taken the first ring since all rings are interconnected and troops can pass from one outlying ring to the next inner ring.

Note: in my experience, attackers on the walls cannot alway pass from outlying rings to inner rings (1.2 unofficial leaked patch).

Q: How do I assault settlements without taking heavy losses?

A: For good insights into siege artillery and siege tactics, read SMZs faction-specific guide to siege warfare:…88&postcount=1

Making or threatening multiple points spaced well apart in the settlement is useful, as explained here:

During a siege when playing single person, having multiple ladders can be extremely useful. I have gotten into the habit of attacking any castle or city from all sides at once and it seems the AI is not good at dealing with this tactic.

I will normally use one or two infantry units to do scaling per side and I normally have missile troops to back them up. The AI will generally concentrate on stopping one attack and allow the others to get in. This tends to cause the AI to retreat (if possible) to the center while allowing me to get the rest of my army inside to attack with. Then I can surround the AI’s troops and move in for the kill.

Note: multple rams rather than ladders will also work when used against cities (castles have only one gate). Having some redundancy and bringing more than one ram helps deal with the risk of it being set on fire.

Didz outlines his approach to sieges in detail:
Spoiler Alert

:Assuming you have the battle timer off I would recommend a systematic approach to any seige or assault.

Breach the walls (Not the gate) preferrably opposite one of the main raods to the settlement centre. If you have any artillery take out any dangerous looking towers first.

Having made the breach move forward your missile troops and place them as close to the breach as possible so that they fire through it into the defenders on the other side. (You will probably need to limit firing to one unit at a time, otherwise you are wasting missiles.)

If the enemy bunch on the approaches to the city centre as they sometimes do then then use massed fire arrows to thin their ranks and panic them.

If the enemy fall back from the breach and approachs to the town centre then move your best heavy infantry through the breach and order them to block the approach roads, remembering to cover the approaches from right and left not just the main route to the centre (especially if the enemy has cavalry). Choose this location with care preferably just behind a point where the street narrows and never with a side road just behind one of your flanks (unless you have a spare unit to block that too).

Having established a foothold inside the walls move selected units of missile troops through and deploy them just ahead of your blocking force on the road to the town centre. (Don’t let them fire at will, they will just waste arrows in house walls, choose deliberate targets and use fire arrows if the fire is parabollic)

Move the blocking force and missile screen forward slowly preferably using the overwatch system where one group stands firm and the other moves.

Let the missile unit trigger counter attacks by the defenders along the street and then kite the attackers onto the heavy infantry or spearmen and let them deal with the attack. (Remember to switch ‘Skirmish mode off’ on the missile unit otherwise it will do really weird things, and don’t leave your withdrawal too late as missile troops tend to dither before running.)

Rinse and repeat, until your assault group reaches the town centre or the enemy runs out of troops, or both. Upon reaching the town centre don’t move anything inside the flagged objective area. Move forward and deploy your heavy infantry around the edge and then march any remaining missile units forward and empty the rest of your missiles into the defenders clustered around the objective.

If you run out of arrows before killing them all bring up your cavalry to deliver the ‘coupe de gras’ or merely have your infantry finish them.

I find this minimises my casualties during an assault and the only real threat is usually the General’s Personal Bodyguard who can normally chew up the blocking force if its formation isn’t solid enough to prevent penetration.

The AI seems to do best when the human player rushes the breach and then attempts to rush on to the town centre. Units get very distended in the narrow streets and if not allowed to reform regularly become easy meat for defending cavalry. Its much better to force the defenders to come to you and suffer this disorganisation themselves instead.

More discussion here:

Artillery can be very useful in sieges. Even ballista can knock down the gates of any settlement and wreck terrible damage on enemy troops massed in the centre of the settlement. See Forward Observer’s account here:…3&postcount=39

For my tips on sieges, read:

Note: wall towers provide powerful missile fire if the defenders have a unit stationed nearby. An important use of attacking artillery is to destroy those towers.
Hust found out – the assasins can sabotage ballista/cannon towers too

Q: How can I fire diseased sheep?

Well so far I think only trebuchets can do that.
It is pretty simple, you simply click the special ammo button.
You start with the normal ammo, you click once and you get your exploding rocks and then you click again and you get your diseased cows.

Can point out that the cows uses a seperate ammo then the others.
When you have selected the cows your ammo bar turns green.
And once that’s empty you will still have the other ammo.

This causes a big morale effect on the battlefield.

Green flashing banners mean that your/the enemies troops are affected by the disease from dead cows launched by trebuchets.

Q: How do you know if you have captured a tower in a siege?


You “own” a tower when the flag disappears from the top, but it’s not ownership in the sense of RTW where it will fire at the enemy. You’re just turning it off so it doesn’t shoot at your men.

And the dynamic for this is different too. You have to clear all the enemy units near the tower, not just on the walls but also at the base of the walls and nearby streets. You can’t just run troops through the tower to turn it off, if there are still enemy units anywhere nearby. Anyway, check for a flag on the tower. If there’s a flag there, it’s still shooting at you.

Q: Sometimes I lose a siege when my catapults have no more ammunition. Why?

A: This is a bug/feature with castles with more than one wall (fortresses/citadels). The computer thinks you can’t get through the inner wall (even though they are often connected to outer walls). Build a ladder or just save the lost round of your artillery.

Q: What makes a good garrison to defend a settlement?

A: Issue is discussed here:

1.4…………….. After the battle

Q: Should I ransom, execute or release prisoners after the battle?

A: See discussion in a poll thread on this question:

Generally releasing raises chivalry; executing raises dread so it partly depends on how you want to develop your general. It is generally better to have either dread or chivalry, so you may want to accentuate the current leanings of your general rather than reduce them by acting contrary to his nature. If the number of captives is less than 80, your choice will not affect your traits. Releasing raises your reputation and executing lowers it. Ransoming is neutral.

Ransoming is good when you need the cash and/or when the captured enemy troops are relatively low grade types, who you don’t mind eating up the AIs budget. It is particularly profitable if you capture a general. Kings fetch 10000 florins; family members 5000 or so. Note: often the AI factions cannot afford the ransom, so it is way of executing without penalty.

Releasing may be an attractive way to boost chivalry or reputation when the prisoners are not seen as much of a threat.

Executing is sensible if you are in a really tight spot or when you have captured an enormous amount of prisoners and fear the AI can afford the ransom.

Q: How do I control reinforcements?


On the screen where you get to choose whether to fight it manually, autocalc, or withdraw, you should see checkboxes for reinforcement armies. Uncheck all the boxes if you want to control your reinforcements.

Reinforcements will arrive until you have 20 units on the field (that’s the max). If you want another unit from the reinforcements, you need to withdraw one of the units currently in battle. This is best for missiles troops that ran out of ammo, for example.

Q: How does unit experience raise combat stats?

A: From inspecting the unit cards in my VH/VH campaign:

experience 1: no effect
experience 2-3: +1 attack, +1 defence
experience 4-6: +2 attack, +2 defence
experience 7+: +3 attack, +3 defence

There may be morale effects, but these are not visible. Experience effects seem somewhat smaller than those in earlier TW games.

Curiously, after a crusade, all my units were rewarded with going from zero to one experience and this single point did raise their attack and defence.

Unlike RTW, missile attack is not raised by experience, but experienced archers do get more kills. Tests by CaptainSolo reveal that three gold chevrons of experience roughly doubles the kills from longbowmen and Genovese crossbows against Scottish noble pikemen:…36&postcount=1

Q: When I retrain my a depleted unit, are the replacements of the same experience as the unit?

A: Yes. That quirk of RTW is unchanged (one might imagine replacements have zero experience.)

Q: How can I shuffle unit cards to get them in an intuitive order?

A: There is no easy way to do this (you can’t drag them from place to place).

On the battlefield, you can group and ungroup them to switch their order.

On the campaign map, you can control click them in an army or town and click for them to move somewhere. They will form a stack in the order you clicked them. However, IIRC, you cannot do this for all units – one must be left behind.

Q: Can I retrain mercenaries and Crusader units back to full strength?

A: Yes, under some circumstances.

You can retrain all mercs as long as its possible to buy the same kind of merc in the region youre in, oh and there needs to be some available otherwise you cant retrain you will need to wait like when training your normal units.

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