Counter to Skirm Pike opening?

So one of the main ways I die, is in Feudal, and often it’s to something like MAA into Skirm Spear, or even just straight Skirm Spear made from forward buildings (side question here: how good are forwards? I get that the main advantage is faster reinforcements, but is that THAT big of a deal?).

Clearly you need an appropriate civ to execute this strat, such as Lithuanians (extra food helps get it going), Byzantines (cheaper trash), but in general I can’t wrap my head around how to beat it. It seems that nearly always, if I start on something like Scouts, or MAA that find 0 damage and are on other side of map, then Skirm Spear beats me. Generally I think the transition to beat it would be full Skirms, but in practice I always suffer too much idle eco, and not reaching a critical mass of Skirms.

Thoughts? MAA is not a practical Feudal counter (generally) due to the high cost of both the upgrade and individually.

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also an unrelated question, and to not open a new thread: in Castle Age/Imp, it is common for Knight civs to play Knight + Pike vs Camel civ (Camel civ generally goes Knight + Camels + Crossbow or Camel + Crossbow).

I heard that “Knight + Pike” is generally considered a bad composition. Why?

skirm and spear are mostly for defenses and no mobility, with extremely low damage output. put out like 5-10 scouts and harass out of the other guy, or go scout + archer to take out their army if you wish.

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The simplest option is to fully wall. Once walls are up any number of skirm spear forward is completely useless. If opponent towers counter tower. If you can’t get down walls in time in my experience it’s worth to take a lot of vils, attack the trash army to deter them and wall behind.

If that’s not an option you should probably go for pure skirm opening. Match opponent skirm numbers and if they go for second range make a stable and some scouts. Scout skirm beats spear skirm. If they really go ham with spears add couple of archers.


I personally don’t like the comp because it has only a rather short time window of effectiveness. In early castle it’s impossible to get to so you play knight monk. Once camel umbers are really high you can switch into pikes. Problem is your opponent will use mobility and not engage unless favorible fight and prioritize imp.

You’ll be stuck in castle age for a longer time bc of high investment. So you have a temporary army advantage but kinda need add siege and push while also keep some pikes at home. Opponent gets defensive castle and you’ll be in a very tough spot. Most camel civs have bracer so opponent can just play arb oder cav archer and easily beat your army.

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Knight Pike is an unusual composition because the Pikeman upgrade is so expensive and plus you need infantry armour upgrades so that your pikes don’t just die instantly anyway. You can afford this from late Castle age once your TCs have been rolling for a while, but early on it just does not make sense. Knight plus couple Monks is much better vs Camels. You only need 2-3 conversions to fully flip a fight. And Monks do not ‘need’ any upgrades to be super effective.

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They can still harass plenty in my experience. Idle farms, and very good at harassing woodlines (which can’t be protected by TC and particularly in early Feudal, are crucial to get your Farm eco going).

This seems impractical at my elo, in general I don’t think you can fully wall on new Arabia unless you get a lucky map generation. MAA, for example, come faster than you can get full walls, unless you commit 6+ vills to it at which point your eco suffers for MAA that might not even be there. More generally, on new Arabia you almost always have to fight to get walls down, you get them eventually but it’s not an early Feudal thing.

the problem is that this seems a very hard Feudal transition. In early Feudal, you need to make your building of choice (let’s say here for example’s sake I open Stable). Then you need to plant at least like 3-4 farms immediately, depending also on how much hunt you pushed. If by any chance you are taken off of Berries, make that Farm count 7-8 which is a huge food investment. Making an Archery Range before this can be hard. Let’s even say you squeeze it in, because the mass of Spear/Skirm doesn’t build immediately, still you need to sustain constant Skirm production + vills which assumes at least 10+ farms I guess. Then at some point he gets Fletching and you need to mirror that. When I died to this last time, granted my macro might have been less than ideal, let’s say I did 4 Scouts with a civ without eco bonus and wasted too much HP on them. Still, I don’t feel that alone should mean I’m no longer able to win the game (was against Byzantines who did MAA into CONSTANT production of Spear/Skirm).

Oh they do? It feels on paper they shouldn’t. Based on past experience I would guess they wouldn’t. My Castle Age micro is OK but my Feudal micro is less than ideal. I struggle with those archers at short ranges, maybe that’s the issue.

I guess I need to treat Scouts like Knights, and not waste them trading HP vs Vills and so on if I see such an army coming. I generally treat them like “nuke them into vills”, clearly I try to pick isolated vills but I gladly will trade HP. I need to learn that those early Scouts are precious just like early HP on Knights in Castle age is.

I saw Hera once do Knight + Pike (matchup was something like Magyars vs Burgundians or Franks vs Saracens, Hera has the “Christian cavalry civ” while opponent had the Camel civ iirc). When I asked him he pointed out that “it’s just a few Knights mixed in and not full Knights” meaning that his goal was to hold the Camels with Pike and add Knights just for potential harass in case of a good fight, or to snipe Mangonels.

I guess it’s more useful to talk in terms of production buildings. I like to think that in Castle age, you should be on 3 production buildings, 2 to make your main unit, and 1 for the auxiliary unit. If you really go all in you can also add a 4th (Siege). I guess though if you have great macro like the pros, you can have 2 production buildings, do Knight + Pike and 3 TC boom. Effectively playing defensively. So maybe it’s safe to call the “Knight + Pike” that we sometimes see pros do, just “defensive Pikes that potentially turn aggressive at some point with a few Knights mixed in”?

In any case, for my example I reckon I was talking about 2 Stable Knights and 1 Barrack Pikeman. I guess indeed Pikeman is too expensive, you need at least like 10 to support a fight if you got the weaker cavalry (e.g. you are Franks vs Burgundians Cavalier), but then you likely also need Squires, and probably both armor upgrades (2nd one especially is very expensive but at the same time you sort of need it to counter the +2 attack).

makes sense, ty. In general I feel Pikeman needs a small buff, there are games where they go full Knights on me, and literally nothing else with a civ that has a bonus (generally Franks or Berbers), I go 3 Barracks Pikes, inevitably I get 1 hole in my walls, he clears the first Pike mass and after that it’s GG because you never get a 2nd mass rolling, particularly since he idles your farms with +2 Knights so your Pikeman production stops). I could be better at walling sure, but it feels my opponent literally is playing on 10 APM and that’s irritating.

Yeah but we’re not talking maa. You were asking trash forward and that can be stopped by walling. Even if you have to commit 5 vils who cares. The point is that trash units is garbage vs walls contrary to maa scout or archer. So if you know in advance what’s up go fully wall and the game probably is yours. Usually you don’t go for that approach because you don’t expect the strat (which is why trash forward can work).

Well if there’s a forward you should spot it and in that case don’t make a stable but a range. The build is the same, get both eco upgrades start farming and make skirms. If you didn’t scout the forward in time and went for stable probably best to atk opponent at home and defend your base with tower until you have enough res for skirm transition.

Easily. Scout skirm is the strongest comp besides scout archer in feudal. It’s more expensive than full trash though so you need more time until you can engage and after you did you’ll probably be later to castle age.

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the skirms barely do any damage. also mobility is a huge factor and the fact that they are a counter unit means you are on top. they cannot go skirm without need of pike as you can pick them off 1 by 1 very quickly with just 3-4 scouts.

and if pike/skirm always together u just go harass them or just archer + scout and they can’t do much.

if they do skirm harass your woodline u do archer harass theirs. you’ll surely kill them faster than they can kill your vills.

Well perfect counter to full trash would be militia but you know, that suck, snd no one cares apparently

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It’s clear from your responses above that your problem is not how to counter skirm/pike but it’s really
“how do I adapt to an early Feudal age that isn’t going according to the plan I had at the start of the game?”
So let’s say your plan is to go scouts and the opponent’s plan is to go skirm + pike.
There’s 2 possibilities here. (1) You scout it before building your stable or (2) you don’t.
If (1), then don’t build the stable. Build 2 range or range+blacksmith, and just kill him. You MUST be able to out-produce or out-tech him because he’s wasting res on spears and you aren’t. If you lose in this position then something has gone very wrong.
If (2), then you have scouts and he has spear + skirm. You can’t fight him with his spears. So don’t try. Go to his base. Now you have scouts in his base and he has spear+skirm in yours. Again, you should always win in this position. It is much much easier to kill villis with scouts than with spear+skirm. Just delay him at your base with quickwalls, towers, and fighting back with villigers, while you kill some of his vills. Then when you can afford it, add some archers or skirmishers, bring back the scouts, and clear out your base.

Now the question is, why are you not scouting something so easy to spot in time? Well, when are you scouting your opponent’s base? You need to go over there around the time he’s on his way up and look for, does he have a baracks? Is he building a range? Is he making farms? (for skirm+pike he will need a lot of food, so is there evidence of this?) is he on gold? (if he has a range and has 4 on gold it’s archers. If not, skirms) etc. If you’re playing the game on the assumption that you’ll just get to play your build order without interruption, then you will be leaving it to chance whether you get to do that or not.

You must change your mindset. You must see this as a real-time game. Adapt as much as possible. If you can’t adapt, because you’ve already invested, then double down. Let him harass you, go harass him even harder.

Are forward buildings good? Usually not. Although then can really throw people off at lower elo. But in general it is very easy to beat them. You just deal with the army same as usual, either counter attack immediately of, if you’re going to clear your base first, after that. And whenever the counter attack happens, you should win, because opponent has no production back at home to defend with.
And then while that’s happening just wall in the forward buildings. Now they’re useless.

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Skirm Pike is literally the worst opening.

Use your already made archer/scouts to do as much eco damage to the opponent as possible.
You can (especially if you open scouts) add the other type of main opener unit. That will force the opponent to come back to defend. This buys you time. Don’t add more of the unit you already made unless you have good reason to, it’s usually waste of res.
Make a tower on your Gold. (this isn’t necessary in all cases but as you implied that you’re not good in defending I would recomment that - in general, this is a valid option for all people who aren’t good at defending. Yes, Towers are costly, but at least you don’t instantly lose a game cause you can’t get your res you need.)
Try to (House) wall wherever it is possible. You don’t need to wall all at once.
Go up to Castle age as fast as you can.

Make Knights. Go raiding first, to force him back, then fall back, add TCs and either make more Knights or add Skirms. At one point your army should be strong enough to just completely overwhealm the opponent.

Stop lamenting.

Interesting take on the topic. Don’t know if I subscribe that entirely…
Why would you make the militia line when the strat I described above is so relaibly strong?
With the strat descirbed you get basically all advantages at once. Military, Eco, Technology… With militia you only get the Military advantage which opens more counterstrats for the opponent.

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Well the OP asked for counter to that strat that attacks in feudale and i sayd what would be the perfect counter in feudal, but of course going up to Castle is another possibility, but it’s not always easy to accomplish

My point was mainly about the fact that militia is supposed to counter trash units so that should be the answer to that kind of aggression but since the unit line sucks no one even consider it as a counter, for the reason you have described

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Militia is actually quite good as a trash counter in Feudal, the problem is that it requires too many resources, specifically it requires you to be on gold (which will be harassed) and requires 60f (unless you wanna purchase the very expensive Supplies). At the same time, MAA don’t rly have the same harass potential as full Scouts because they are countered by Archers (as they should). But anyway in short 3 MAA would be an excellent full trash counter, too bad you don’t always open MAA or maybe they are on other side of map.

As long as you don’t run under TC (which is the main “power unit” in Feudal, holding the poor Militiaman down), Militias are actually fairly OP in Feudal vs every unit except Archers, they even trade well vs Scouts.

They hard lose to Archer and trade even ti scout which does not cost Gold and have mobility so are actually much more useful. Does not sound much “OP in feudal” to me…