Grenadiers (ETW Unit)
Explosive grenades are one of the oldest types of gunpowder weapon, and one of the most dangerous to use. Grenades are a simple cast iron ball, with a fuse sticking out of the top. Fuses are notoriously unreliable, and grenadiers can die as their own bombs explode prematurely. Yet no matter how terrifying grenades are for the throwers, they are infinitely worse for the targets! Grenadiers see themselves as elite, and occupy the place of honor at the right of the line on parade. They have good reason: only large, brave men become grenadiers, because it takes a big chap to throw one properly. Even their uniform makes them look bigger thanks to the pointed grenadier’s cap; a tricorne gets in the way of a good throw.
Historically, grenadier regiments and battalions began as ad-hoc assault forces. All line infantry regiments had grenadier companies; collecting these sub-units gave commanders a useful group of heavily armed, aggressive and skilful soldiers. Grenadier companies remained in line infantry regiments after the creation of grenadier regiments, but they abandoned grenades. Instead, each grenadier company became a “heavy mob” of the biggest and strongest soldiers in a regiment.
Grenadiers are a specialized support troop. Like Line Infantry, Grenadiers are armed with muskets. They have half the manpower of a Line Infantry regiment, and so should not be used to simply substitute Line Infantry; however, they have superior melee statistics than Line Infantry and great to use in breaking up enemy lines. The Grenadiers' signature ability, however, is their ability to throw grenades: short ranged, powerful explosives that have a dramatic effect on enemy morale. Grenades may sometimes be tricky to use, but they can be a great factor in winning Line Infantry engagements.
In small engagements, grenadiers can be used to fire their muskets once, advance quickly, throw their grenades, then engage in melee for the most damage in the shortest time possible. Unless faced with withering fire, grenadiers will generally outclass Line Infantry with such a tactic.
In larger battles against Line Infantry, the Karoliner tactic (a favored strategy by Charles XII of Sweden) can be used to great effect. Grenadiers form a line directly behind the Line Infantry. The Line Infantry fire, close in to half distance (with the grenadiers following them), and fire again. The middle rank then turns fire at will off, and the grenadiers run through them, deliver their explosive payload, then charges with the Line Infantry closely following them. With the center of their line breaking, the rest of the enemy army should rout in short order.
Defensively, grenadiers have a more limited role but are still usable. Placing grenadiers very closely behind Line Infantry and setting them to use grenades allow them to toss grenades handily over the heads of Line Infantry and into charging enemies. The impact of grenades right as the enemy is about to hit the Line Infantry with their charge will have a significant effect on their morale. Grenadiers can then be used to aid the Line Infantry in repelling the enemy charge.
Grenadiers tend to be most effective in the early game. In the late game, line infantry become more dangerous to approach with the firing drills, and engagements start taking place at longer distances thanks to the introduction of light infantry. These factors make grenadiers harder to use effectively.