A Guide to All the Units I Can Remember – Total War: MEDIEVAL II – Definitive Edition

A Guide to All the Units I Can Remember – Total War: MEDIEVAL II – Definitive Edition 1 - steamclue.com
A Guide to All the Units I Can Remember – Total War: MEDIEVAL II – Definitive Edition 1 - steamclue.com

Medieval: Total War 2 has units [citation needed]. I can remember some of them, and have opinions on them. All opinions guaranteed 100% dolphin safe.


This is a list of most of the units in MTW:2, together with my thoughts on them and what works well against them. This is mainly focused on the campaign, because that’s what I’ve played.
I forgot about the Aztecs and Timurids entirely. This is their fault for being so far away.
When I list counters, this is what I mean:
Shock cavalry: Anything with a lance, delivering a proper charge. Spear cavalry can do in a pinch.
Heavy shock cavalry: Feudal Knights or above. Needs good armour, and a proper lance charge. Spear cavalry just won’t do.
Missile cavalry: Horse archers, but also mounted crossbowmen or javelinmen.
Missiles: Any missile troops, but missile cavalry is obviously more use against infantry.
Spears: Any unit with the +8 bonus against cavalry, so Spear Militia but not Town Militia
Elite spears: Any proper spear unit i.e. not Spear Militia. Papal Guard are the exemplar here.
Swords: Any sword-armed infantry units, although the militias may disappoint
Melee Infantry: Not spear infantry. Axes, swords, maces, 2H axes, 2H swords, whatever it is Mutatawwi’a are doing.
Pikes: Halberds are pikes. Anything than makes cavalry die if they touch it.
AP: Armour Piercing, so anything with a bonus against armour; guns, axes, maces, longbows, crossbows, javelins, elephants, etc.
Remember: the best counter is not to have to fight.

Melee Infantry

In MTW2, infantry is generally what you use if you can’t get anything else. Their main roles are for sieges, and killing spears.
Peasants: A good cheap garrison for castles. On the battlefield, a good cheap source of corpses.
Counters: Turn up on the battlefield. 150g s/r flour.
Pilgrims: A very useful unit; they can cheaply garrison the cities you conquer on crusade. In battle, not so much.
Counter: Any cavalry, any melee infantry, any missile unit. Atheism.
Highland Rabble: Pros: slightly better Peasants. Cons: still Peasants. No.
Counters: A vague sense of purpose.
Town Militia: If you’re using this as anything other than a garrison, you must be desperate.
Counters: Literally anything else; shock cavalry in particular.
Slav Levies/Slav Mercenaries: Slightly better Town Militia; still rubbish.
Counters: Any competent troops, shock cavalry.
Azabs: Worse Town Militia. I know. They aren’t even a free upkeep unit, so they’re not useful for garrisoning.
Counters: Harsh language, mean looks.
Swordsmen Militia: Not knights, and don’t mistake them for professional troops, but can profitably engage spears, and sit on walls effectively.
Counters: Shock cavalry, crossbows, better melee infantry.
Sword and Buckler Men: A Spanish unit that’s half-way between Swordsmen Militia and Dismounted Feudal Knights, and should be used accordingly
Counters: Shock cavalry, crossbows.
Dismounted Feudal Knights: For most Western factions, their first good sword infantry. Just very good at what they do. Vulnerable to heavy cavalry, but not so much to light, and resistant to arrow fire but not crossbows or javelins. Use to kill enemy spears and lighter infantry, and can wade through arrows to get there.
Counters: Shock cavalry, crossbows.
Dismounted Men at Arms/Dismounted Broken Lances/Armoured Swordsmen/Dismounted Polish Knights/Noble Swordsmen/Dismounted Norman Knights/Dismounted Latinkon (phew!): See Dismounted Feudal Knights
Counters: Heavy shock cavalry.
Dismounted Christian Guard: Dismounted Feudal Knights, basically. Less extra fatigue in heat. Still good.
Counters: Crossbows, shock cavalry.
Dismounted Conquistadores: as Dismounted Feudal Knights, but with better stamina.
Counters: Shock cavalry, crossbows.
Dismounted Portuguese Knights/Dismounted English Knights/Dismounted Noble Knights: an odd unit. Vulnerable to cavalry charges and crossbows, but otherwise will murder anything. Pair with a unit of light cavalry to absorb charges, and slaughter the enemy. Particularly good against generals.
Counters: Crossbows, javelins, axe or mace infantry. No good options.
Dismounted Chivalric Knights: Ooh lovely. The #1 answer to elite spears. Also great for siege a*saults. Not as expensive as you’d think. Use as Dismounted Feudal Knights, but better. Sufficiently light cavalry will fail to effectively charge them. (yes, that happened to me)
Counters: Heavy shock cavalry.
Dismounted Imperial Knights: Like Dismounted Chivalric Knights, but maces, so better against armour. Very good defensively, if you can prevent cavalry charges.
Counters: Heavy shock cavalry.
Byzantine Infantry: Often disappointing, because they’re early-professional swords. They aren’t dismounted knights, but they’re still good swords. Use to fight spears and sit on walls.
Counters: Shock cavalry.
Urban Milita: You don’t get Saracen Militia, but get this instead. Good professional swords, but their morale isn’t great. Use as cheap swords.
Counters: Shock cavalry.
Hashishim/Battlefield Assa*sins: I have never managed to get more than one unit of these. A good weird unit, I guess? In other games outflanking units like these can be useful if the enemy has no cavalry, but how often will that happen?
Counters: Play the campaign, and you’ll never see them. Otherwise shock cavalry.
Italian Militia: Not great, but cheap. Light infantry in a game that is not kind to them.
Counters: Shock cavalry (and how!), swords, archers.
Venetian Heavy Infantry: Hard to get, but vicious. Shielded and armoured poleaxe infantry, point at the enemy’s most expensive infantry and they’ll kill them. Pair with light cavalry to absorb a charge and they can dispatch any cavalry too.
Counters: Crossbows, heavy shock cavalry.
Ghazis: Light infantry. Free on Jihads, throw at spears or onto walls. Mediocre otherwise.
Counters: Shock cavalry, archers, missile cavalry.
Mutatawwi’a/Religious Fanatics: Like Ghazis, but no shield. Use the same. Good charge.
Counters: Shock cavalry, archers, missile cavalry.
Sudanese Tribesmen: Generic light sword infantry, with good offensive stats but no armour. Good for siege defense, and acceptable against mediocre spears. Don’t let archers or cavalry near them.
Counters: Archers (small shield only), cavalry.
Woodsmen/Croat Axemen: Better than their stats would suggest. Great for carving through elite spears, and good against generals if you can deflect the charge. Very vulnerable to missiles, and hence good in siege defences. Croat Axemen are the same but slightly better.
Counters: Archers, horse archers, shock cavalry.
Viking Raiders: Chaff light infantry, which is better than you’d think from that description, because their axes make them very effective against enemy elite spears. Don’t expect more than their price and you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Counters: Shock cavalry, good swords.
Dismounted Huscarls: Better Viking Raiders, with excellent morale and good armour. Make sure they don’t get charged by cavalry, and let them hack the enemy apart.
Counters: Shock cavalry, crossbowmen, missile cavalry.
Dismounted Boyar Sons/Dismounted Druzhina: Very similar to Dismounted Huscarls, use the same way. Good stamina.
Counters: Shock cavalry.
Norse Axemen: Despite the fact that they clearly do, don’t have a shield, so need to be careful around missile fire. Other than that, they’re good two-handed axes, with good morale and stamina, perfect for hacking through enemy infantry, but
vulnerable to cavalry.
Counters: Shock cavalry, missiles.
Highlanders: Impetuous axe infantry, very vulnerable to archery. Slam into spears as soon as you can, and they’ll win their money back.
Counters: Shock cavalry, archers, good melee infantry. Missile cavalry in particular.
Varangian Guard: Elite two-handed axes, keep them away from cavalry charges and they’re golden. Shield is on the back, so more vulnerable
to missiles than their stats would suggest. Slam into any expensive infantry and they’ll win.
Counters: Heavy shock cavalry, missiles.
Tabardariyya: Slightly worse Varangians; use the same. Don’t even pretend to have a shield.
Counters: Heavy shock cavalry, missiles.
Billmen/Bill Militia: Weird unit; good attack, good charge, poor defence, armour-piercing. Charge them into enemy armour, but don’t let cavalry charge them; good for helping your own cavalry. Very
vulnerable to missiles.
Counters: Cavalry flanks, missiles.
Heavy Billmen/Heavy Bill Militia: Like Billmen but armoured. Good against heavy units, as long as you don’t get them charged by cavalry. Vulnerable to AP missiles.
Counters: Cavalry flanks, crossbows, javelins.
Zweihander: Looks great, but two-handed weapons are bugged in the base game and not as good as they look. But still well-armoured melee infantry for chewing through spears.
Counters: Shock cavalry, crossbows.
Forlorn Hope: Slightly better Zweihander, but half the numbers. No thanks.
Counters: Shock cavalry, crossbows, swarm them.
Berdiche Axemen: Like all two-handed weapons, not as good as it should be, but still nasty. Armour is good but no shield means they’re still vulnerable to AP missiles.
Protect from cavalry and crossbows, and use to hit enemy melee infantry and especially spears.
Counters: Shock cavalry, crossbows, AP melee infantry.
Highland Nobles: Suffers alongside other two-handed weapons, but also vulnerable to missiles. Slap into spear infantry and hope.
Counters: Shock cavalry, missiles, good melee infantry.

Spear, Pike & Halberd Infantry

Because cavalry is king here, spears get their own section. Also I’d reached the word limit. All of them need to either be braced or in phalanx to safely receive a charge, and go well with light cavalry to beat heavier cavalry.
Spear Militia/Levy Spearmen: Eh, you get what you pay for. Makes for a decent line to retreat back to. You’ll use them a lot, because for some factions your only other spear unit is Mercenary Spears.
Counters: Any good unit, even cavalry.
Pikes generally: Lovely when they work, takes so much micro they rarely do. Lovely for siege defence and bridges, sub-par otherwise. If you’re better than me at micro, more useful.
Counters: Outmanuver, missiles
Pike Militia: Eh, they’re pikes. Die to missiles or if they get flanked, but they’ll murder any cavalry that tries its luck to their front, and they’re lovely at gates and bridges. The armour upgrades are essential.
Counters: Missiles, or flank
Heavy Pike Militia/Noble Pikemen: Pikes but armoured, still be careful around crossbows. Solid units.
Counters: Outmanouver, crossbows.
Aventuros: Oooh, now here’s a unit. Pikes, but with very good armour, and quite good melee skills. Unlike most pikes they won’t melt if enemies close the distance, and they can weather ordinary arrow-fire well enough. Use like pikes, but you can use them as swords in a pinch.
Counters: Crossbows, javelins, or flank with shock cavalry or axe/mace infantry
Pavise Spearmen: Good professional spears. Good enough to take a charge from shock cavalry, as long as they’re set. Goes perfectly with Hungary’s horse archers, or with Pavise Crossbowmen on the defensive.
Counters: As with all good spears, swords, or any non-spear melee infantry.
Spearmen: The most generic unit in the game, could show up in any of the TW series. Useful here because cavalry is so dangerous. Mediocre everything, so draw out cavalry charges onto Russian missile cavalry then counter-charge with these guys. Good shields.
Counters: Elite shock cavalry, melee infantry.
Armoured Sergeants (and Mercenary Spears, which are the same but Brown): A wonderfully useful unit, not particularly vulnerable to anything. Good against missiles, and particularly useful against missile cavalry, can take any charge if they’re set. Sword infantry will beat them, but it’ll take long enough for you to flank the enemy.
Counters: Sword infantry, javelin or crossbow cavalry (hit the blind-side), artillery.
Dismounted Arab Cavalry: Like Armoured Sergeants, but no schiltrom. Still very good.
Counters: Sword infantry, javelin or crossbow cavalry (hit the blind-side), artillery.
Sergeant Spearmen: Like Armoured Sergeants, but unarmoured, so more vulnerable to archery.
Counters: Sword infantry, archers.
Dismounted Polish Nobles: Light spears, so half the bonus against cavalry of armoured sergeants, but otherwise similar. Good morale for early spears.
Counters: Sword infantry, flank with shock cavalry.
Spearmen (and Byzantine Spearmen): Decent professional spears. Don’t expect too much of them; they a a defensive unit.
Counters: Sword infantry, ma*sed missile infantry.
Nubian Spearmen/Berber Spearmen: Better Town Militia; only short spears but a decent shield. Use to ward off cavalry, or help your cavalry against the enemy. Cheap and cheerful.
Counters: Flank with shock cavalry, archers, melee infantry.
Lamtuna Spearmen: Better Spear Militia with very good stamina, a rock of a unit to manouver around. Ensure they’re braced for cavalry charges, and don’t let them spend too long under missile fire, and they’ll do you proud.
Counters: Archers, melee infantry.
Saracen Militia/Dismounted Sipahi Lancers: Don’t let the name fool you, these are well-armoured professional spears. With a large shield they can weather missiles better than most, and there’s no spear unit that wants to fight them.
Counters: Good swords; mace/axe infantry.
Italian Spear Militia: Right solid bastards these. Good professional-type spears, with slightly worse morale. Light armour (but at least they have some), use them against cavalry and they won’t disappoint.
Counters: Ma*sed missiles (small shields!), melee infantry.
Papal Guard: Yes officer, these guys, right here. The best spear unit in the game and of course you can’t get it. Excellent morale, good stamina and a schiltrom mean cavalry doesn’t want to charge them, whilst a big shield and decent armour mean missile cavalry won’t do too much damage. The reason you bring melee infantry to kill the pope, and in the game too.
Counters: Good melee infantry, crossbows to some extent.
Sword-Staff Militia: Halberds, but better morale than most militia, and very well armoured. Can repel any charge from the front, but glitchy, so it’s safer to take the charge on another unit and walk these guys through. Ok against archers, but will die quickly against crossbows or javelins.
Counters: Shock cavalry flanks, crossbows, javelins.
Obudshaer/Janissary Heavy Infantry: Armoured halberd units; use the same. Excellent morale.
Counters: Shock cavalry flanks, crossbows, javelins.
Transylvanian Peasants: The worst halberd unit; can’t even phalanx. AP and bonus vs. cavalry, but good luck getting them there.
Counters: Charge when not set, any missiles, melee infantry.
Halberd Militia/Voulge Militia: tricky to use. Similar to Pike Militia, but a little less fiddly. Try to move them into contact with enemy cavalry, and they’ll melt
them, but very vulnerable to missiles.
Counters: Any missiles especially missile cavalry, flanking cavalry.
Voulgier: Slightly better Voulge Militia, particularly their morale. Use the same.
Counters: Any missiles especially missile cavalry, flanking cavalry.

Missile Infantry

All missile infantry is vulnerable to cavalry and needs to be protected from direct charges.
Peasant Archers/Archer Militia: Not completely useless! At choke-points or on walls, they can do good damage, and flaming arrows can kill generals.
Counters: Any decent unit. Armour in particular.
Bosnian Archers: Peasant archers with a shield. Could be worse.
Counters: Armour, cavalry.
Highland Archers: Peasant Archers with an axe, and some instruction in its use. Not good enough.
Counters: Close the distance, cavalry.
Crossbow Militia/Peasant Crossbowmen: They’re crossbows. Give them LoS, keep them out of melee, they’ll do good work.
Counters: Get into melee with them, decent archers, any cavalry but bait out the first volley.
Mercenary Crossbowmen: Play in Europe and you’ll see these guys a lot. Their first salvo can be deadly if you let them fire directly, but protecting them .
Counters: Missile infantry, cavalry.
Pavise Crossbowmen/Genoese Crossbowmen/Genoese Crossbow Militia: Great for defending walls, also archer duels. Your answer to the Mongols. Like all crossbows, want a clear LoS and protection from cavalry. Goes well with pikemen for an off-brand tercio before you get Musketeers.
Counters: Shock cavalry. Bait the first volley out at long range, then close fast.
Luisitanian Javelinmen/Kurdish Javelinmen/Turkish Javelinmen/Javelinmen: Not great, but cheap. Use them as light sword infantry, and treat the javelins as a bonus.
Counters: Shock cavalry, melee infantry if you can make contact.
Almughavirs/Catalans: Not as good as they look, because half the time they’ll just stand there, refusing to throw their javelins, especially if you put them on a wall. Otherwise they’re decent line infantry. Good if you can get them to work.
Counters: Shock cavalry; shields are small, so archers.
Norse Archers/Noble Highland Archers: Slightly better than Peasant Archers at range, but immensely better in melée. Great at siege defence, and useful in the field. Just protect from cavalry, and don’t expect them to beat proper melée infantry.
Counters: Shielded melee infantry, elite archers, cavalry.
Turkish Archers: Composite bow and shield, good and shooty, dies to cavalry. Protect them from cavalry and they’ll be worth it, especially against unarmoured units.
Counters: Cavalry.
Muslim Archers: Composite bow but no shield. Good at shooting at infantry that can’t shoot back, but vulnerable. Decent in melee, oddly.
Counters: Shielded missiles, cavalry.
Bulgarian Brigands: Similar to Muslim Archers but with a shield and slightly worse stats. A very useful unit, especially on the defensive. Poor morale.
Counters: Morale shocks, cavalry.
Janissary Archers: Muslim Archers but better. Get stakes (!) and very good stamina. The sort of unit to build armies around. Few melee infantry units can walk through their fire and then beat them in melee. Needs to be careful about archer duels.
Counters: Shielded missiles, cavalry outside the stakes, armoured melee infantry if you can close the distance.
Ottoman Infantry: Janissary archers with shields but no stakes. More vulnerable to cavalry, less vulnerable to missiles. Very good unit.
Counters: Cavalry, armoured melee infantry if you can close the distance.
Foot Dvor: Absolutely vicious. Not brilliant archers, but honestly they’re just melee infantry, and really good at it. Keep away from cavalry charges and they’ll make their money back.
Counters: Shock cavalry.
Byzantine Guard Archers: Like Foot Dvor, these are solid in melee, and good archers. The best unit the Byzantines have for siege defences. Their armour and shield make them a good answer to missile cavalry.
Counters: Medium or heavier cavalry.
Lithuanian Archers: I think these are the only unit other than longbows and Janissary Archers to get stakes. Would be more useful if A) they weren’t ordinary archers and B) Poland wasn’t so cavalry-heavy.
Counters: Notice the stakes. Move around. Kill. Or Pavise Crossbows.
Trebizond Infantry: Quite good. Shields, light armour and a composite bow make them decent in archer duels, and not useless in melee.
Counters: Pavise Crossbows, cavalry.
Venetian Archers: Stupid unit. Armour but no shield. Good archers, good in a scrap, but Pavise Crossbows are better in an archer duel. Lovely for defending walls, but Pavise Crossbows are perfectly good at that.
Counters: Shock cavalry.
Mongol Foot Archers: Good archers, but nothing more. Protect from cavalry and let them shoot.
Counters: If you can get into melee they’ll die, but that’s easier said than done. Pavise Crossbowmen, again.
Mongol Infantry: the most unfair unit the most unfair faction has. The quality (and quantity) of their horse archers is reasonable, but this unit is well armoured, well shielded, good stamina archers, with decent melee skills to boot. Use as frontline archers, because not much can weather their arrows and beat them in melee. Do protect from shock cavalry.
Counters: Shock cavalry will work, but will take severe losses unless heavily armoured. Pavise Crossbowmen are the better answer.
Aventuriers: Armoured but not shielded crossbowmen, decent in a scrap. Great for defending walls, will lose duels with Pavise Crossbowmen. Protect from cavalry, and don’t be afraid to countercharge.
Counters: Pavise Crossbowmen, shock cavalry(bait the first volley out).
Desert Archers/Nubian Archers: Similar units, have a composite bow and no melee skill. Very nasty against slow enemies, but struggle against armoured shielded enemies. Vulnerable to any cavalry, and not great morale.
Counters: Pavise Crossbowmen, armoured & shielded infantry, any cavalry.
Longbowmen/Yeomen Archers/Retinue Longbowmen: Same unit, just gets better. Longbowmen have worse missile attack. With these, make your whole army of them, with 1-2 units of spears and cavalry each. Plant your stakes, and tear the enemy apart as they try to reach you. Even if they do, Yeomen Archers and Retinue Longbowmen are decent in melee. Their ranged attacks are AP, and have very good range. The units that make England England, and not, say, France.
Counters: Pavise Crossbowmen in theory, but not against a whole army. Artillery can make them leave their stakes, and cavalry can then run them down. In theory. Fortunately the AI in campaign doesn’t make huge blocks of them.
Sherwood Archers: Very shooty, but ambush is wasted on a unit that doesn’t really want to be in melee. Generally worse than another unit of longbows, and spoil the colour scheme.
Counters: Cavalry.
Scots Guard: Armoured longbowmen with spectacular morale, but expensive and hard to recruit, and they don’t get stakes! Probably good in siege defences, but I’ve never seen them in
the campaign.
Counters: Pavise crossbows, shock cavalry.
Hand Cannoneers: In effect, javelinmen that cause fear. Effective when plopped in front of a pike wall. Don’t let them skirmish.
Counters: Honestly never seen them in the wild. But fast cavalry, probably.
Arquebusiers/Portugese Arquebusiers/Sudanese Gunners: Usually decent but tricky to use. For Portugal, I’d skip them for Musketeers.
Counters: Cavalry. Bait the first volley, then charge them.
Musketeers: Oh boy. Can be absolutely vicious, or can faff around doing nothing. Needs to be protected from cavalry, but their loose formation and fire-by-rank nonsense makes that harder. As with all morale penalties, stack them up, and make sure you have light cavalry in position to give chase.
Counters: Fast cavalry, long-ranged archers.
Janissary Musketeers: Musketeers but better. Best gunpowder infantry in the game. Even have very good stamina. But of course, you have to recruit them.
Counters: Cavalry cavalry cavalry.
Cossack Musketeers: Lovely lovely muskets, but better in melee. Make a front line of them, with a gapped line of cavalry to defang charges. Morale penalty is good, and they have lots of ammo. Vulnerable to missiles if they can get in range.
Counters: Cavalry charges, archers.

Light Cavalry

All cavalry is good in MTW:2, both for charging unprotected flanks, and for chasing down the enemy once they’ve fled. As the AI leaves its units on skirmish, it’s also useful to stop missile infantry from shooting.
Alan Light Cavalry: The prototypical light cavalry, extremely fast and fragile. Can chase down the lighter horse archers, but not safely, as they’ll get shot up doing so. Use mainly to chase routing units, and also to charge into missile infantry. Keep away from anything with high ma*s.
Counters: Spears, archers, heavy missile cavalry, medium cavalry.
Merchant Cavalry Militia: Actually quite useful, because they’re so bad. They’re non-shock cavalry, with mediocre morale and combat skills. But they’re still cavalry, and can do perfectly well chasing archers and artillery, or providing rear charges.
Counters: Any spears.
Italian Cavalry Militia: Actually useful. They’re light cavalry, spear not lance. Much like Mounted Sergeants.
Counters: Decent spears, heavy cavalry, archers.
Militia Cavalry: as with Italian Cavalry Militia. Both can be supported free in cities, which is nice. Poor morale.
Counters: Decent spears, heavy cavalry, archers.
Arab Cavalry: True medium cavalry, lacking the pure speed and stamina of light cavalry, but capable of beating enemy light or missile cavalry. Goes well with the Moors’ missile cavalry, and can pounce on exposed melee infantry for cycle charges. Not desert troops, and ordinary stamina.
Counters: Elite spears, heavy cavalry.
Tuareg Camel Spearmen: Kills non-heavy cavalry dead. Like all camels, their charge is underwhelming, but they can still hit light missile troops well enough.
Counters: Spears, missiles.
Hobilars: Possibly the worst melee cavalry in the game, without fast movement or good stamina. Still useful for chasing routers down, which makes the difference between a victory and an annihilation.
Counters: Anything, really. Any decent cavalry, spears, archers.
Scouts: Slightly better, slightly more expensive Hobilars. Use the same.
Counters: Any decent cavalry, spears, archers.
Border Horse: Better scouts. Good light cavalry with good stamina. Use the same.
Counters: Good cavalry, spears, archers.
Mounted Sergeants: Oddly good. They’re light cavalry, and spears not lances, but they can still charge home against missiles and lighter infantry. Not actually quick enough to chase missile cavalry, but still useful.
Counters: Missiles, spears, medium or heavy cavalry.
Stradiots: True light cavalry, but with enough punch to hurt what they catch. No shield hurts against horse archers, but good for pursuit and picking off enemy missile and artillery units.
Counters: Spears, horse archers, missile infantry.

Heavy Cavalry

These units are what you paid for. Every one of them can turn missile or melee infantry into mulch. They mainly need to be careful of AP missiles, as they are larger targets, and phalanxes and stakes, both of which will instantly kill them.
General’s Bodyguard: The best cavalry you get, and early-game your best units full stop. Use aggressively as they have very good stamina, but don’t let them get surrounded and dragged down.
Needs to avoid being shot by crossbows or charging into braced spears, but otherwise fine. Replenishes turn-to-turn, so you can afford to take some losses.
Counters: Crossbows, ma*sed heavy cavalry, pikes.
Bodyguard: Not as good as General’s Bodyguard as they have a spear not a lance, but use largely the same. The mace makes them good at killing western generals.
Counters: Crossbows, ma*sed heavy cavalry, pikes.
Mailed Knights/Granadine Lancers: Second-best unit in the game. Absolutely vicious charge, decent armour, decent morale, decent melee stats, decent speed, but the key is how easy they are to recruit and replenish. The best ability is availability.
Counters: Good spears, heavier cavalry.
Feudal Knights: True heavy cavalry. Anything except pikes or professional spears will die to their charge, but they absolutely must deliver the charge. Slower than Mailed Knights and impetuous, so harder to do cycle-charges with.
Counters: Elite spears, crossbows.
Teutonic Knights/Knights Hospitaller/Knights Templar/Knights of Santiago: Feudal Knights, but slightly better. Use the same. Not impetuous.
Counters: Anti-cavalry heavy cavalry, pikes, crossbows.
Noble Knights/Polish Guard/Polish Knights/Royal Banderium/Christian Guard/Chivalric Knights: Oof. The nastiest charge your money can buy, and with the shields and armour to make sure it gets there. But slow and they’ll bake in deserts, so don’t try to outmanouver the enemy, just find anything without charge reflection and murder it. Can cycle charge, but often won’t have to. Some are impetuous, some aren’t, but all have fabulous morale.
Counters: The biggest counter is their cost; pikes, elite AP cavalry, crossbows, but you absolutely must have something that can take or deny a charge. Walls are good for that.
Portugese Knights/English Knights: Look like Chivalric Knights, but have axes. Form into a wedge, throw at enemy heavy cavalry. Otherwise too slow to cycle-charge well.
Counters: Elite spears, crossbows.
Conquistadores: I have never got these in regulation, but they’re brilliant shock cavalry, with extremely good stamina. Use as normal, they’ll cycle-charge all day long.
Counters: Elite spears, protected missiles, heavy cavalry.
Norse War Clerics: Sound really cool. In battle, they’re non-shock cavalry, so form into a wedge and use them to bludgeon enemy cavalry to death. More useful than they look at first glance.
Counters: Spears, javelin cavalry.
Huscarls: An oddity, as they’re non-shock heavy cavalry. Their charge is still good enough for missile troops and lighter infantry, but the axes makes them a good trade against more expensive heavy cavalry.
Counters: Spears, missile cavalry.
Druzhina: As mailed knights, but they have an axe! Can chop through their equivalents with aplomb.
Counters: Elite spears, arrows, missile cavalry.
Imperial Knights: Like English Knights, but with maces instead of axes. Use the same way.
Too slow to cycle-charge well.
Counters: Javelin or crossbow cavalry, pikes.
Gothic Knights: Like Imperial Knights, with better attack but no shields. Use similarly, but protect from AP missiles.
Counters: Crossbows, pikes.
Hussars: Very good shock cavalry. Not knights, don’t leave them in melee, but good stamina for cycle-charges.
Counters: Heavy cavalry, elite spears.
Mongol Light Lancers: Worse Hussars, but very good stamina. Keep away from enemy heavy cavalry and cycle-charge into vulnerable spots.
Counters: Heavy cavalry, spears.
Mongol Heavy Lancers/Khan’s Guard: Slightly better than Mongol Light Lancers. Use similarly, but this unit is slower so needs to be more careful. Khan’s Guard
get better armour but are the same offensively.
Counters: Heavy cavalry, spears, crossbows.
Norman Knights: AHAHAHAHA they’re Feudal Knights with very good stamina. Cycle charge for days.
Counters: Elite spears, pikes, crossbows.
Byzantine Lancers/Cavalry Militia: Professional shock cavalry. Not knights, and will disappoint if used as such, but still good enough to kill missile infantry, light cavalry and lighter melee infantry. Byzantines have good stamina.
Counters: Spears, heavy cavalry.
Men At Arms: Off-brand Feudal Knights, but with the heavy lance and formed charge they’re still very good. Keep away from AP elite cavalry.
Counters: Elite spears, pikes, AP elite cavalry.
Kataphractoi: Deep deep down the building tree, but good. They’re heavy shock cavalry, but also have maces, so are perfect for disposing of enemy heavy cavalry. Even though they’re decent in melee, try to cycle-charge against infantry.
Counters: Pikes, elite spears, crossbows, javelin cavalry.
Latinkon: True shock cavalry, would be more useful if General’s Bodyguards couldn’t do the same job. Still very effective, and pair well with the Byzantine missile cavalry. Just try not to shoot your own guys.
Counters: Pikes, elite spears, missile cavalry
Mamluks: Good heavy cavalry, although no lance. Don’t tangle with elite spears or heavier cavalry and you’ll be grand. Goes well with Mamluk archers, to deal with enemy cavalry first.
Counters: Elite spears, heavier cavalry (but they have maces), protected crossbows.
Sipahi Lancers: Mamluks without a mace. Use the same. Have a spear, not a lance. I should contact Trading Standards…
Counters: Elite spears, heavier cavalry, protected crossbows.
Royal Mamluks: Like Mamluks but better; still no lance! AP on the mace means they can tangle with the best enemy cavalry. Only need to worry about ma*sed crossbows or elite spears.
Counters: Ma*sed crossbows, elite spears, AP elite cavalry can trade.
Lancers: Chivalric Knights, with better armour but no shield. Lovely, but impetuous. Slam into anything except phalanxes, elite spears, and stakes.
Counters: Crossbows, pikes, elite spears.
Gendarmes: Slightly worse Lancers; use the same.
Counters: Crossbows, pikes, elite spears.
Broken Lances: Unshielded, well armoured professional heavy cavalry. Lovely, but not quite as good as true knights. Just be careful around crossbows: if you have to charge them, bait out a first salvo at longer range, then close before they can reload.
Counters: Crossbows, elite spears, AP heavy cavalry.
Famiglia Ducale: Better version of Broken Lances. Still no AP. Use the same.
Counters: Crossbows, elite spears, AP heavy cavalry.
Polish Retainers: Looks like worse Hussars, but have the heavy lance. Worse stats than true knights, but a vicious charge, so cycle charge for best effect.
Counters: True heavy cave, pikes, crossbows.
Tsars Guard: Expensive elite heavy cavalry that forget to bring their lances, so the charge is underwhelming compared to Chivalric Knights. Very resistant to non-AP missiles. Good against anything unarmoured, and they have enough ma*s to make their charge threatening.
Counters: Crossbows, elite spears, pikes, AP elite cavalry.
Qapukulu: Light lance and mace, these are elite AP cavalry. Very good stamina and morale, only downside is the price tag. Slam into anything except spears or pikes and you’ll do a lot of damage.
Counters: Crossbows to some extent, elite spears, pikes.

Missile Cavalry

(Yes, cavalry gets three sections. It deserves them.)
Missile cavalry will lose to an equivalent weight of foot archers if they stand around shooting each other. So don’t do that, just charge them.
Very Light Horse Archers (Kazakhs, Skythion, Akinjis, etc.): Better than you’d think, because their charge is quick, and so has enough force to really hurt light infantry. The AI tends to let its missile infantry skirmish, so get close to stop them shooting, charge in the rear, and then settle down to shoot enemy spears. Cheap for cavalry, and very easy to use; if you have access to this, you’ll rarely regret bringing 2-4 along.
Counters: Fast light cavalry, foot archers, armoured missile cavalry.
Vardariotoi: Unreasonably good. Good archery, good armour, shield, very good in a scrap. Expensive but not hard to recruit. Can charge down medium non-spear infantry, beat light cavalry in a melee, then shoot apart what’s left, with good stamina to boot and excellent morale to keep them in it.
Counters: Foot archers or crossbows. More missile cavalry.
Byzantine Cavalry: Vardariotoi but worse. Still worth it. Don’t have Good Stamina, so try to minimise their movements. Charge down missile infantry then shoot what’s left.
Counters: Foot archers, mirror-match
Sipahis: Slighly better Byzantine Cavalry, use the same.
Counters: Foot archers, medium cavalry.
JINETES: My Dudes. Everything about them is good. Good stamina pairs wonderfully with their great speed, their javelins let them pick apart even the best-armoured units, and their melee skills are sufficient to beat ordinary non-spear infantry. Don’t feel you have to fire all their missiles before charging home; ideally you want to kill the enemy missile troops and artillery, then use your javelins on the enemies most valuable troops, prioritising cavalry and unshielded units. If you detach the unit in Pamplona turn 1, you can take Bordeaux the same turn.
Counters: Elite spears, melee-capable missile cavalry, protected crossbows.
Mounted Crossbowmen/Granadine Crossbow Cavalry/Strzelcy: Odd unit, lacking the range of normal crossbows. Treat as light horse archers, and let the AP be a bonus. Strzelcy have an axe.
Mainly there to be missile cavalry for factions that don’t otherwise get them.
Counters: Ma*sed missile infantry, fast cavalry.

Boyar Sons: Very good, like all javelin cavalry. Can beat light cavalry in a fight, and charge any missile infantry. Need to stay at range against heavy cavalry or any spears, and mustn’t dawdle under fire.
Counters: Tricky, spears’ll kill them but can’t catch, missile cavalry will work but the range gap is not huge. Protected missile infantry is the best bet.
Polish Nobles: similar to Boyar Sons, but not fast. Use similarly, but keep closer to the fight. Good morale for missile cavalry.
Counters: Not much, honestly. Heavy cavalry will struggle to catch them, so missile infantry.
Desert Cavalry: slightly worse Granadine Jinetes. Still useful, but treat them as missile cavalry with an occasional charge on lighter enemies. Javelin cavalry, so still very good. Good, as the name would suggest, in deserts.
Counters: Light cavalry, arrows.
Granadine Jinetes: slightly worse than the Portuguese or Spanish version, but still extremely effective.
Counters: Arrows, spears.
Magyar Cavalry: Fast, effective horse archers. Speed makes their charges better than they should be, but not true dual-role. Default stamina, so try not to tire them out.
Counters: Good light cavalry, foot missiles.
Hungarian Nobles: True dual-role cavalry. Good stamina, but not truly fast. Can beat the light cavalry that would chase away your Magyar Cavalry. Charge down the enemy’s missile infantry, then shoot apart what’s left.
Counters: Heavy cavalry or elite spears if they can catch them, protected missiles.
Lithuanian Cavalry: Would be dual role, but no armour. Use their melee skills to drive off enemy ranged units, then shoot what’s left. Vulnerable to any missiles, and will melt against proper cavalry.
Counters: Archers, heavy cavalry, spears.
Turkomans/Turcopoles: Similar to Lithuanian Cavalry, use the same.
Counters: Archers, heavy cavalry, spears.
Cossack Cavalry: Better Lithuanian Cavalry, with excellent stamina. Can charge melee infantry but don’t linger.
Counters: Spears, archers, heavy cavalry if it can catch them.
Dvor Cavalry: Heavily armoured horse archers, an odd idea. Can kill the usual light cavalry that would chase horse archers down, but can be caught by heavy cavalry. Useful against horse archers, because they tend not to have AP missiles. Formed charge, and a decent one, but don’t be carried away. An expensive but versatile unit.
Counters: AP heavy cavalry especially shock, crossbows, shielded elite spears.
Mamluk Archers: Brilliant. Good archers, good speed, good stamina, excellent morale, good in a scrap. Can kill anything that can catch them, and shoot anything else. Are expensive, so don’t get into archer duels, just charge them.
Counters: Shielded archers, good spears if you can catch them but you can’t. Similar units, like Jinetes and Mongol Heavy Horse Archers can trade.
French Mounted Archers: professional longbow cavalry sound great, but they have worse range, and they’re hideously expensive. Good stamina, good morale, use like Vardariotoi, but they don’t have a shield.
Counters: Archers, spears.
Reiters: FUTURE! Pistol-armed cavalry with very good armour, morale and melee stats. Use either as caracole, skirmish around shooting AP missiles, or as gallop, firing one salvo then charging.
Keep away from elite spears and pikes, but if you let them chase you, can beat elite heavy cavalry because the pistols are AP. Good stamina helps with this. Very short range.
Counters: No shield, so AP missiles. Spears to stop the charge.
Camel Gunners: A deeply unusual unit, with extreme range, and deadly AP bullets. Put them safely in enfilade, and target the enemy’s most expensive units (i.e. the general). Good, but not true missile cavalry, so don’t skirmish.
Counters: Melee cavalry, archers if they can get close.
Mongol Heavy Horse Archers: By the Lord above, I hate these guys! They’re good solid horse archers, with good melee stats, very good stamina, AND THEY ARRIVE IN AT SIX CHEVRONS.
Arseholes. Easy to use: they can murder any light cavalry foolish enough to catch them, so just don’t try and archer duel foot archers or melee heavy cavalry and you can murder my entire army.
Counters: Pavise Crossbowmen, other good shielded foot missiles, good missile cavalry like Jinetes, Mamluks and Vardariotoi can trade. Or bring three armies and auto-resolve. Did I mention I’m not a fan?


Elephants: Very much a holdover from Rome. Use against cavalry, or engaged infantry. Either keep them at the edge or in the middle of the enemy army, so that if they run amok, you don’t have to kill them. Theoretically missile cavalry, in practice the gunnery is a bonus.
Counters: Numidian Cavalry in Rome, and their successors (i.e. Jinetes) here. Any javelin cavalry, but also solid-shot artillery. Ma*sed missile fire. Poleaxe or halberd infantry, if you don’t mind them dying.
Elephant Artillery: Despite the fact that they did, I refuse to accept that these existed. March them out to enfilade, and the enemy can’t use melee cavalry to dislodge them.
Counters: Javelin Cavalry is your best option. As always.
Elephant Rockets: No.
Counters: No.
Naffatun: If they work they’re beautiful and scare the enemy, but they’re hard to get right, and if you get them wrong they’re a great way to kill your own troops. I don’t know how to use them; see this – [steamcommunity.com]  guide to MTW1 for some tips.
Counters: Any cavalry, rush with melee infantry.
Carroccio Standard: I suppose it’s useful, but it’s an artillery unit that slows your army down without letting you a*sault instantly. Leave in the middle of your line for the morale boost, or just don’t.
Counters: They’re spears, but with a big cart in the way. Flank and kill.


All artillery has a few things in common. First, one unit lets you do sieges without waiting. Second, even one unit slows down your army. Third, all have the same counters: any cavalry and loose formations.
Ballistas: Not great in land battles, but can be used to make the enemy attack. If you do, target the enemy’s general or most expensive infantry. Mainly there so you can
auto-resolve sieges without waiting to construct rams.
Catapults: Flaming missiles can kill 30 men in one go, but will usually miss. Use like ballistas, but in sieges are better.
Trebuchets: Best pre-gunpowder artillery. Still not brilliant in land battles, but can still one-shot generals. Can smack through multiple layers of walls.
Bombard: Good vs. walls, poor vs. anything else. Direct-fire means you need high ground, and too inaccurate to do much. But you might get lucky and stick a cannonball through their general’s spine.
Grand Bombard: Bombard, but slightly bigger. Slightly better.
Ribault: Weird, designed for field battles, needs line-of-sight. Not convinced by this, would usually rather have another unit of crossbowmen.
Monster Ribault: Venice gets this, very funny, but takes ages to reload.
Mortar: Can get a few hundred kills in a siege when the enemy just stands there, but otherwise poor. Not designed to break walls, but still lets you auto-resolve.
Culverin: An actual proper cannon. Explosive shot is vicious and can tear dense formations apart, if it can hit. Bringing more units has diminishing returns. Trivialises breaking walls.
Cannons: Almost identical to Culverins but with slightly inferior range; use the same.
Basilisk: Culverin but better. Give it a slight hill so it can see its targets clearly, and let it go.
Serpentine: Theoretically a weapon for field battles, but in practice I prefer Cannons, Culverins or Basilisks as they get explosive shot. Not great in sieges.
Monster Bombard: Breaks walls in one shot; never actually recruited one. Can’t move, so not hugely useful against Citadels.
ROCKET LAUNCHER: ALL THE WAY FROM KOREA, HERE TO MESS YOU UP! Looks spectacular, rather good against ma*sed troops, negative accuracy, long reload. Loves to shoot your own troops in the back.
Counters: Bait out the first salvo with a single unit of cavalry, then close. Of course, that’s hard to do against the Mongols, but good luck!

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