As we all know(for better or for worse), Grenadiers have been buffed in the Definitive edition, most notably having a lower wind-up for attacking and a 20 gold cheaper cost, so obviously I decided to try them out. And here is my verdict:
They are still rather poor for the most part.
First of all, the Grenadier’s stats.
And most importantly, a 0.5 second wind-up and 0.5 second projectile travel time.
What we have here is a fairly durable unit with low range, and seemingly adept at fighting masses of Infantry and Buildings, whilst being abysmal vs Cavalry and Shock Infantry.
What does this all mean in practice?
To properly test this, I decided to run a simulation with an average non-upgraded Grenadier against units it is supposed to fight, and compared it to a non-upgraded Skirmisher, the obvious comparison. Results are expected to transfer well into the higher ages, and I will talk about upgrades later on in this post.
10 Grenadiers/16 Skirms(adjusted to be approximately equal in seconds needed to gather resources for each)
VS 20 Musketeers/30 Streltsy/16 Skirms(just for Grenadiers)/25 Crossbowmen
Both units have full vision of eachother, are in default formation and attack from the get-go.
Wall was added to prevent the AI units from moving out.
Results are as follows:
VS Musketeers: 3 Musketeers left
VS Streltsy: 4.75 Grenadiers left
VS Skirmishers: 4.5 Grenadiers left
VS Crossbows: 8 Crossbows left
VS Musketeers: 5 Skirmishers left
VS Streltsy: 1.75 Skirmishers left
VS Grenadiers: 4.5 Grenadiers left
VS Crossbows: 16 Crossbows left
As you can see, on average Grenadiers perform admirably against masses of weak units, while losing to Musketeers and their high HP and Crossbows due to Grenadiers’ Heavy Infantry tag. Many people were under the impression that Grenadiers would work well versus Musketeers, and this is actually not the case at least until Grenadiers hit a critical mass, due to how Area of Effect damage works(it’s not as simple as you think, and I will definitely need to write on it in a future post) and the Musketeers’ relatively high HP.
Also important to take into account is Range. Skirmishers have 20 range, and similar units float around the 18-22 Range ballpark. Grenadiers need to get close to Skirmishers in order to fire, by which point Skirmishers can reliably fire 1-2 volleys or hit and run effectively. Archer-type units are easier to fight due to their wind-up, but their range allows them to fire at least a volley before Grenadiers come near.
Overall you need a way to keep these in place in order for Grenadiers to do their work, at which point you’re better off just massing Melee Cavalry with Skirmishers to clean up the Heavy Infantry/Dragoons in most cases, providing you with more effective range and a good unit to tank the enemy fire.
Now, what about them Hand Mortars?
I’ll keep it simple.
They are not worth it.
All they effectively do is reduce the wind-up to almost nonexistant, allowing you easier micro. Thing is, given the units you will be fighting and Grenadiers’ weaknesses, you will almost never be put into a situation where you can effectively use the quick firing well.
What about Russia and their Hungary revolt?
Exception, as there always needs to be one, lies with Hungarian Grenadiers, which easily go up to 20 range, and where the nonexistant windup might actually have a good use. Thing is, it’s a Revolution unit unique to Russia, so not something you can reliably count on.
Either way, they are unironically amazing, and I think Russia has a potentially insane Revolution option, especially as they are trainable and equivalent to standard Grenadiers for the purposes of upgrades. Watch out for Artillery mass though, since they have a 0.5x malus versus them.
What about Ottomans?
Ottoman upgrades and cards affect their basic stats, not their weaknesses. With those cards they will simply perform better where they are already good at, and remain abysmal elsewhere.
You have some of the best Skirmishers and Melee Cavalry in the game. Why would you use Grenadiers?
Have you taken into account Arsenal upgrades?
Only one which helps alleviate Grenadier’s weaknesses is Military Drums, which is an Advanced Arsenal upgrade. So, requires a shipment and 300 resources for a mere 10% speed boost.
What about upgraded Grenadiers?
A large investment that requires a large amount of already expensive units to be worth it. Not to mention that Skirmishers get their Veteran upgrade for free at Age 3, so they will perform even better than in the simulation.
So, are they useless?
Not really, they are just very niche. Against matchups like Russia, China and Aztec, where you can expect to fight lots of frail infantry, Grenadiers will perform very well, mowing down hordes of units easily, and giving some Youtube-worthy moments. That is, unless they decide to surprise you with Cavalry or Shock Infantry, which they can easily obtain and proceed to make you regret investing in an Artillery Foundry. Be ready to ship some Pikemen or Musketeers for backup.
Overall, while Grenadiers have been greatly improved compared to before Definitive Edition, they nonetheless are a unit that should only be used in specific circumstances, where it will truly shine. In short, when you can kill 5 units with 3 Grenades. Otherwise, just stick to your Barracks