Pikemen (ETW Unit)
Despite the fact that firepower is the key to battle, “trailing a pike” into battle is more gentlemanly than carrying a gun. Pike-men are shock troops, relying on mass and impact in melee. Pikes are not without their uses: a solid wall of spear points is a formidable barrier to any cavalry attack. Pike-men still march into battle because not every European nation can afford (or find) enough guns for everyone. Sending men into battle with an obsolescent weapon is better than sending them forward with nothing at all.
By 1700, most European generals realized that the pike and pike-men were hopelessly outdated and outclassed on a modern battlefield. Pike-men had been a vital part of all infantry formations, protecting musketeers from cavalry and being the “shock” element in melee combat. There was a fatal problem for pike-men: a musket could kill at a distance, and once a decent bayonet was developed, pikes really did lose their point!
Although a brilliant general in every (other?) respect, Maurice de Saxe, the great Marshal General of France, remained an advocate of the pike even in the 1740s. By then, it was obvious that pikes were useless against massed musket-armed infantry.
Pikemen are available to every European faction and are present in nearly every European army at the beginning of the game. Pikemen are the only infantry that can utilize the pike wall and pike square formation, in which they level their pikes to devastating effect against charging cavalry. They are seriously limited by their inability to use firearms and their rather poor melee stats against infantry. Pikemen also cannot scale walls or enter buildings, further limiting their use in sieges and defensive battles. Early on, Pikemen do have their uses as supplemental melee infantry should regular line infantry and militia require assistance.