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Thread: Guide to the proper utilization of Halberds

  1. #1

    Icon3 Guide to the proper utilization of Halberds

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    Many people have been more then frustrated with the performance of halberds in vanilla Medieval 2. How is it that a nearly 1,000 florin unit of Swiss Guard can get absolutely destroyed by a less then 600 florin unit of dismounted feudal knights? Why is it that halberds appear to be so useless in game and so under-performing for their cost? Is there any way to make halberds actually good for killing other heavy infantry in the game?" In this post I will seek to answer all these questions for you and demonstrate how those previously perceived "useless and overpriced" units like Swiss Guard, Obudshaer, and even Halberd Militia can be used to devastating effect against other heavy infantry and many other circumstances.

    The first thing we need to understand is that animations play a huge role in the power of units in Medieval 2 Total War. This can be clearly seen in the fact that 2 handed weapon wielding units perform much worse in sustained melee combat then traditional "sword and board" infantry because of their much slower attack animation. This principle is exactly the same with halberds. One can see by looking at the "fake halberd" units (like Janissary heavy infantry, or the eastern halberd Militia units, though they have "halberd" in the name, they cannot actually form spear wall) that halberd units attempt to use their halberds like 2 handed axes and use basically the same attack animations, this is why they preform so badly in melee. So in order to rectify this the savvy general attempts to have his halberds form a "spear wall" with their special ability in hopes that this should solve the problem. The answer to this is that yes, it should solve the problem, but due to a glitch, and the fact that this is an old game, the halberd units even when i spear wall formation do not want to use the pike/halberd animation, but instead continue to wield their halberds as if they were large axes. This issue alongside the fact that they have no shield renders halberds essentially the same as overpriced axemen, why spend 900+ florins on a Swiss Guard when a less then 400 florin gallogliach can give me basically the same thing with a better charge bonus? Or better yet, why not imply bring another dismounted feudal knight which can preform well in so many circumstances?

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    All of these objections are true, and that is why most veteran and competitive players basically never use halberd units. But what if there were a way to essentially force halberds to utilize the pike/halberd formation while in spear wall? If this could be done then we could fully unlock the potential of halberds and they would instantly become what they are supposed to be, armor piercing pikes, infantry killing machines. Well THIS IS POSSIBLE, please allow me to explain how it is done as it is actually quite simple:

    For some reason as soon as combat is joined pressing the "halt" button or backspace, whatever key you have that makes your men stop moving instantly seems to "reset them", then immediately after halting your men, issue an attack order (right click), the combination of these two button presses seems to reset the halberd unit and enable them to use their proper animation, thus unlocking their full and devastating potential. I have been able through using this tactic to defeat 4 units of dismounted chivalric knights with 2 Swiss Guard, provided it is in a "siege" setting where the knights don't get a charge bonus. But even if they do get a charge and kill the whole front rank, a Swiss Guard will still win and have men left over, if they do not get a charge, the Swiss Guard will absolutely stomp the dismounted knights.

    There are a few more parameters to this technique that I need to outline for you to be able to follow in vanilla medieval 2 for yourself.
    Firstly whatever halberd unit you are using they should always have "spear wall" activated but guard mode dis-activated, if you leave guard mode on, they will not "thrust" with their halberds but just sit there with them down not killing anything.
    Secondly the unit should always be in tight formation, not loose formation so as to allow the halberds to be as close to one another as possible, but unlike pikes you can have your halberds be only 2 ranks deep or 10 ranks deep, the depth does not matter.
    Third as much as possible you should always have either a 2nd unit of halberds right on top of the other halberd unit so as to make the formation twice as dense, minimizing the distance between halberds, or have another more defensive melee unit in front of the halberds like a dismounted fuedal knight to absorb the initial charge and act as a damage shield to your halberds. A very good tactic is to send your halberd units in as a second wave behind your dismounted knights and have them advance in spear wall formation through your knights into the enemy, this is a devastating combo, more on those in moment.

    So, we have the basic concepts down, let's run through a scenario:

    You're front line of dismounted knights has just engaged with the enemy front line, here is a step by step run down of how to properly utilize the halberd technique:

    Step 1: With spear wall activated, and guard mode dis-activated, issue an attack or a move order for your halberds onto the opponents front line, as soon as you get the "x" on your unit card indicating that the halberds have joined combat;
    Step 2, immediately press the halt button, this will have the unit halt and reset, then immediately after pressing halt, issue a new attack order on the enemy unit directly in front of the halberds, it may take a moment or 2 but your men should begin to lower their halberds and begin to "thrust" with them instead of using them like 2 handed axes.
    Step 3, anytime you see your men started to break formation, turn or start using their halberds as axes, repeat step 2, backspace and attack and your halberds should reset and begin properly destroying literally whatever infantry is in front of them. ITS THAT EASY, once they join combat, backspace, attack.

    Here is a photo to help, see in this how the Swiss Guard are wielding their halberds overhead or out in front like axes instead of pikes?

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    Now compare that with this image after I hit "backspace, attack" you will see they have lowered their halberds and are thrusting with them, especially if you look at the front rank.
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    Notice also the line of dead french knights in front of my Swiss Guard, you can see the change almost immediately impacting the flow of the battle.

    Perhaps, even more staggering, here is the end screen from the battle where I utilized the backspace, attack halberd technique, this is vanilla medieval 2 total war, no mods, 2 Swiss Guard vs 2 dismounted chivalric knights, using the outlined technique above:

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    Amazingly, my Swiss Guard, in the field after receiving a full charge, got nearly a 4-1 kill death ratio, generating huge value. Try this for yourself in a field battle, one time not using the technique and another using the technique you will see the amazing transformation that takes place, turning your halberds into heavy infantry LAWN-MOWERS.

    There are lots of fun unit combos to try with halberds now that they work, like pike/halberd combos and several other but I will leave those to you all to discover. But from all this, simply remember: 1, spear wall on, guard mode off, as soon as combat is joined, backspace, attack, rinse and repeat, it really is that simple to make halberds amazingly strong!

    If you would like to see a video of me demonstrating all of these concepts, feel free to watch the linked video below on my YouTube channel "The Tower Project" where I have all sorts of medieval 2 content.


    Thank you all so much for reading, I hope this information really helps revitalize these often overlooked units. Let me know any questions you have, or any cool combos you discover through utilizing this tactic in game!

    The Tower Project YouTube Channel

    Incredible Medieval 2 Total War Content

  2. #2

    Default Re: Guide to the proper utilization of Halberds

    Despite my amazement that took 10 years to get a really useful guide on halberdiers, I thank you for publishing it - this is actually valuable content, as opposed to many guides published in the last few months.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Guide to the proper utilization of Halberds

    Quote Originally Posted by Elendil 03 View Post
    Despite my amazement that took 10 years to get a really useful guide on halberdiers, I thank you for publishing it - this is actually valuable content, as opposed to many guides published in the last few months.

    Thanks Elendil, i'm glad you found it useful. I am sure other people knew this information before I did, but no one got around to making a guide out of it I guess Let me know any good tactics you come up with using it, I am going to be posting a combo guide for halberds on my channel shortly to supplement this guide on here.

    The Tower Project YouTube Channel

    Incredible Medieval 2 Total War Content

  4. #4

    Default Re: Guide to the proper utilization of Halberds

    Very interesting. I've always found halberds frustrating. They were the strongest heavy infantry unit in MTW1 and MTW2 halberds were a big disappointment.

    One other note: the movement rate of halberds is achingly slow. However I've discovered that if they are not in spear wall you can make them run to catch up to the front row. If they get a little tired at least they get there.

    Thanks for the post.
    "War is an extension of diplomacy, but by other means." Karl von Clausewitz

  5. #5

    Default Re: Guide to the proper utilization of Halberds

    I've always considered them garbage. Thanks for correcting that conception.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Guide to the proper utilization of Halberds

    Quote Originally Posted by CommodusIV View Post
    I've always considered them garbage. Thanks for correcting that conception.

    Thanks man, I appreciate that.

    The Tower Project YouTube Channel

    Incredible Medieval 2 Total War Content

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