Pikeman sucks in 1v1

Disgrace of a unit, food-intensive, has no real long-term viability because it’s not a very good attack unit (yes a few civs can do Halb Siege pushes, but we are talking about you getting Onager/Heavy Scorpion upgrade (btw have you guys seen the cost of this tech?), Siege Engineers, Halberdier, +4 armor and at least 10 Barracks to spam units from, good luck getting that before min 50 on an average 1v1 map), and on top of that, it starts with 0/0 armor, the upgrade takes a ton of resources (215f 90g) AND you need Squires also (a further 100f).

Meanwhile, Knights are good out of the gate, you don’t even NEED Bloodlines to be aggressive even though it helps. Bloodlines and +1 armor is good enough to get you through most of Castle Age and then you can decide if to transition or stay on Knight play.

Also, Knights from 2 Stables is a very pop-efficient unit, while Pikeman is very pop-inefficient and as the defender you also can never quite guess how many Stables are being used. You often need 3 Barracks to counter 2 Stables and if you lose the first big fight it’s basically over as you will never get the mass again required to beat the Knights.

Furthermore, Pikeman costs WOOD, a precious resource in Castle Age, especially on Arabia with its scarcity of forests. So you as the defender often try to create an eco lead, but this eco lead is hampered by you not actually being able to drop farms, unless you have like 30+ woodcutters and they are not harassed somehow.

Last, if you consider how most fights in early Castle Age go, it’s something like 14 Knights vs 20 Pikeman, that’s a fight that Knights generally win due to better focus fire and higher HP. It’s expected that something like 8 Knights live, now normally the Knight player also does Monks, bam, 3 Monks and all the HP damage you did gets healed, so you trade 20 Pikeman (1200 resources) for 4 Knights (540 resources) essentially. What a great COUNTER UNIT! And you can’t even force a fight because Knight player has mobility, you don’t, he likely also has map control so better boom potential later.

Really give me 1 reason why Pikeman exists in its sorry state. It’s an extremely bad unit, and good luck if you roll something like Koreans or Vietnamese vs Berbers/Franks on… any open map really.

To make Pikeman interesting to tech into, at least the upgrade could be lowered in cost by 50/100f. If you don’t have Camel line vs Knight civ on an open map, good luck with 0 map control, woodlines harassed and your Eco being constantly idle from +2 Knights running around your farms and just shrugging off the arrows from the TC.

Right now, Arabia with all its hills, its scarcity of forests and those “fake forests” where 1/2 the forest is a lake so you can’t actually make a lumber camp there, is sucking my will to play the game. Every game I go vs some Knight civ, like Magyars or Franks or Berbers. Every game, same braindead strat of small Feudal play into Castle Age Knight flood from 3-4 Stables, send everyone to gold, idle eco and buy additional food if needed. I bet these people don’t even research Horse Collar aging up because it’s 1 more Knight. Then just Castle drop in front of 2 mineral piles (if you deny secondary stone and 1 gold it’s ideal) and it’s GG, even if you are 30 vills ahead it literally means nothing because you can’t do gold units, you can’t click Imp and if you somehow managed to get Imp, you can’t afford anything, you can’t afford Rams, you can’t afford Chemistry for Bombard Cannons, nothing. Eco lead means nothing, might as well make Arabia a game mode where each player starts with 40 vills, no TC and the player with the better Knight micro wins. Absolutely braindead experience where you can AFK your eco, do 0 eco upgrades or additional TCs and be rewarded regardless of what opponent does. It is button pressing at its finest, the “create Knight” button specifically.

If you aren’t a Camel civ or a comparably strong Knight civ, and you are stuck on something stupid like Koreans or Britons or Incas or Celts, good luck winning unless you are significantly higher elo than opponent.


Have you ever faced an all in pike+siege push in castle age as Celts?


This phenomenon is most likely dominated by pikes being slow to setup rather than the unit itself being bad. A stable making knights is massing army at 4.5 res per second. A barracks making pikes is massing army at 2.7 res per second. On top of that pikes are a higher food % unit and unlocked via an upgrade more expensive than bloodlines. On 20 villagers military production this leads to something like a 20-25 villager minute deficit in terms of having equal production to knights which is very big. It gets up to like 30-35 villager minutes for generic vs franks due to saved bloodlines. For comparison skirms face around a 6 villager minute deficit relative to xbow.

Luckily the solution is clear: lower the fixed cost of producing pikes. I’d guess 22s → 15s training time for pikes and 100f off the upgrade would do quite a bit to fix the early castle overruns that are relatively common. This would be a 10 villager minute reduction in setup on 20 villagers.

Still need to account for the fact that knights can only be made after castle age so it cant be dropped too much.


Pikes suck indeed, there is no Pike+ Siege push in the current meta, but this is just a side effect you’re addressing, the problem is actually Arabia being morbidly broken, tiny woodlines turned every unit which isn’t Crossbow or Knight further into the niche department. Pike is not an exclusion, just another unit to burry in this decaying diversity process the game has gone through.


I do agree pikes are hard (not impossible) to make work on open maps, but i would not advise buffing them.

First, most of you overlook the one big advantage pikes have over kts: You can produce them in feudal and then upgrade. Even with one barracks, you can create 7 of them while aging up; including the 2-3 you might have made before the age up thats 10 pikemen ready to fight before the first knight reaches you, from just one barracks.

Second, buffing them to the point they are viable on open maps means overbuffing them on closed maps, where kts are rather weak already. Maybe there is some possibilty like making the upgrade cheaper, but its fairly cheap already.


Based, this man spitting facts here.

You can only assume pikes “counter” knights if you have knights or monks yourself to back them up.

Lower their train time, the research time of Pike upgrade, and the cost too, and we will start seeing more pikes in castle age. Though considering how dominant crossbows are on the top level I’m not even sure if that’s the correct approach, as the issue has too many layers to it really.

Thinking about it, lowering or even completly removing the bonus damage xbow deal to spearmen might be a small but good change as well. Right now, it feels like a waste to go for pikes because even a very low number of xbow, even without bodkin, will shred them.

I agree the upgrade should be cheaper and faster to research, but I don’t think pikes were ever designed to be the main bulk of your army. They’re supposed to defend your siege, scare off early knights trying to break in, be mixed in with your own knights or camels + monks to get favourable trades etc. Since they can’t keep up with knights even with Squires, they were never going to be a straight counter. They’re a backup unit, that’s why they don’t cost gold. And aside from the initial Squires and pikemen upgrade investment, per unit they’re relatively cheap to produce.

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Siege pike pushes you do indeed mostly only see on closed maps but wth is that rant about halbs? Halbs counter any cav unit extremely well and they are super common on any land map. Like most archer civs will play arb halb in imp. Pikes in castle age have some drawbacks but there is no reason to complain about halbs in imp.

You don’t need 3 rax to make pikes vs two stable knights. I mean yes you do if your opponent opens full knights and you boom and only to add pikes later. Other than that pikes create fast and if you match your opponents production you’re fine.

What’s that line of reasoning? Knights cost more than double the res of pikes, including a lot more food. You do spend a bit of wood for making pikes bit if both players open with producing from 2 stables / 2 raxes the pike player will have easier boom. Ofc you need to adjust your eco and put less vils on gold and more on wood but if your eco management is off that’s not the pikes fault.

How about making gold units yourself instead of just booming into imp? If your opponent goes all in knight you either make a defensive castle at some point or you start producing a lot of army after your boom. For instance open xbows, boom with that and make some monks before you go pikes.

This thread explains well the reason why elephants suck in 1v1 and knights don’t.

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I rather like Pikemen.

It’s true you don’t see them that often, but I feel like they’re viable enough.

You do have a point knights are OP. I’d love to see knights knocked down a little, perhaps with -1 attack or -10 hp. That’d help pikes hold up a little bit better against knights, and would also help elephants, step lancers, skirms, xbows, etc. Of those, only xbows have the potential to be a problem, and those could be nerfed by increasing their upgrade cost or training time.

Pike + siege is a gimmicky strat that can be strong but also requires incredible timings. You need to have the initiative, be first to Castle Age, etc. Celts can do pike + siege basically ONLY with Hoang build order, which requires you to sell stone, disrupt eco with militia rush and also hit a relatively fast castle.

thank you for your analysis, was too lazy to do numbers myself because the phenomenon is evident, but I agree with you.

I haven’t seen pike + siege in a very long time.

well Arabia is also broken, another issue that isn’t Pikeman-related so I haven’t listed is that since it’s basically impossible to wall without having a hole as you can’t place TCs on woodlines and you can’t quick wall woodlines because of hills, mobility/melee units excel. So Eagles, Woad Raiders, Knights, there is barely anything stopping them from trampling your eco.

the problem with this is that you are never sure how many Knights you will face. As the defender/the player without initiative, you are often playing in the blind. So how many pikes is too many? Let’s say you make 12, he runs in the first 3 Knights and sees 12 Pikes, stops Knight production and switches into boom or mass Skirmishers or Camel Archer or whatever. You meanwhile invested a ton of resources, likely didn’t get Bow Saw, idled your TC etc. to afford Pikeman upgrade and first 2 Blacksmith upgrades. Yes, technically you can make Pikes as you are aging up, but it’s a guessing game. That’s like going full Camel vs Franks only because they are Franks and they show up at your door with 3 Mangonels and 15 Crossbows.

I’m aware of this.

at least Crossbows can be walled off, you can do Scorpions which are un-microable even by top players (harder to dodge 3 Scorpions than 2 Mangonels say). Yes Crossbow is a stronger unit overall, but mostly only because

a) you can do the "hide them in a 1-tile wide corridor trick
b) they allow you for a VERY fast Imp time while Knight play doesn’t, as a Crossbow player you send everyone to gold and you find eventually you have enough resources to click up without actually managing eco so you can focus on micro

Especially point b) is why Crossbow is so dominant I feel, Arbalest power spike is very big and also should you accompany this with a forward Castle, you can make the first Treb with all the advantages that having the first Treb implies.

Overall though, this doesn’t mean Knights are a bad unit, from mid-Castle Age onward, Knights are a very good Crossbow counter, only top players are so aware of their Crossbow positioning that rarely you see something like 25 Knights killing 50 Crossbows because pros send 10 Crossbow at a time which is enough to disrupt eco but not enough to be interesting for Knights to capture

Anyway, back to Pikeman, I think a combination of lowering training time and lowering the research time could be enough. I’m happy with Crossbow countering Pikeman, that’s how it should be. However, Knights beating Pikeman due to superior mass/numbers/pop efficiency shouldn’t be a thing. To give a comparison, if the opponent goes for PURE Crossbow play, pure full Skirm is a hard counter. 20 Skirms stop 35+ Crossbows easily if you have full upgrades. Similar logic should apply to Knights vs Pikeman. God forbid the Knights player mixes 3 Scorpions in there, at that point it’s full GG for the Pikemen.

The idea of the game is adapting and unit countering. Every unit, when massed in sufficient numbers, forces a tech switch. If you are Franks vs Persians, you have a faster Castle Age uptime and 2-3 min to do damage with Knights. After that, if you see, say, 12 Camels vs your 16 Knights, you know it’s probably time to tech switch. Likewise, as a Crossbow player, if you see 4 Scorpions or 15 fully upgraded Skirms, you know it’s time to mix a secondary unit or tech switch. This logic is universal in AoE, but if you see Pikemen as a Knight player, your reaction is run in and kill them instead of tech switching because:

a) Knights are basically immune to Town Center fire
b) Knights can be healed and in an even-ish battle you will have a lot of surviving Knights on ~30% HP
c) the Pikeman player has 1 window to make Pikeman work which is basically the first fight, IF you don’t win it (most of the times you don’t), you will NEVER create enough mass to threaten the Knights again assuming both players constantly produce units from 2-3 production buildings.

Halbs are a decent unit, yes, I was saying that Pikeman has no long-term viability on open maps, it’s a unit you wanna transition out of because the only “attack” composition Pikeman has a role in is something like, 50 Halbs (extremely wood-intensive), 10 heavy scorpions, 3 Bombard Cannons, it requires 2100 resources for Heavy Scorpion upgrade, Chemistry (for BC), Siege Engineers (another 1100 resources tech that is essential, else Imperial Arbalest outranges your Scorpions)… so in short, on open maps this strat is viable yes, but it’s not an EARLY Imp strat. You get the full comp at around min 50-55 with FULL boom.

You kinda do, unless you are going vs Britons Knights…

but are also worth about 1/2 a Knight in terms of combat power, you need 2 Pikes to kill 1 Knight, and in general to win (narrowly) a Pikes vs Knight fight you need like 10/6 proportion of Pikes/Knights.

Wood is a hard bottleneck in early Castle age where you should have already 18-20 Farms, which is enough for constant Vill production and full 2 Stables Knights play. To do 2-Stable Knights, you need 12 on Food, 8-9 on Gold and that’s it. The key is that the Pikeman player is trying to get ECO ADVANTAGE (because he is at an army disadvantage since Pikeman is not a viable unit long-term), and he needs wood for:

  • TCs
  • farms
  • Heavy Plow (essential to prevent wood bottleneck from hitting you hard at min 30 or so
  • Monastery (to add Monks maybe)
  • Houses (booming)


Meanwhile what Wood expenses does the Knight player have? Add 1x Siege Workshop, maybe add 1 more Stable. Gold isn’t a valuable resource in Castle Age, and Food, you should have enough if you had a good Feudal to support at least 2 full Stables and 3 as you add 5-6 more Farms.

I mean it sounds good on paper, in practice though the only viable thing you suggest in your post is the Monk play, which is RNG dependent. Often if you are forced into Pikeman, you can’t do gold units. Of course if you are say a Crossbow civ and managed to get onto his Gold and idle it for 2-3 min, that means less Knights so your Crossbow play becomes stronger. My OP is suggesting that going vs Knights has no comeback potential. Your post highlights how if you are ahead, you can beat the Knights player. Sure, I agree on that.

the thing is, Knights are already countered by walls pretty hard (including quickwalls). I’d rather not nerf them, there should be a reward vs an opponent who failed to wall. I’d rather buff the counter-unit so that a comparable resource expenditure to that of say, Skirms vs Xbows, yields comparable results (forcing a tech transition).

I think Crossbow, the way to nerf it is increase cost of Bracer/Arbalest etc. bam no more 65 pop 1-2 TC fast Imp into 6+4 attack Arbalest that melts any Castle Age unit. You can do a fast Imp but since you won’t have enough resources for all upgrades you will have 6+2 attack for a while, which seems reasonable and allows a Castle Age army to have a chance vs your Arbalest blob.

Removing archer line bonus damage against spears

It’s exactly the opposite lol, you can wall out knights, xbow prevent rewalls behind.


yes in theory it’s like that, however Knights often have 1 Scorpion of Mangonel accompanying them, preventing rewalls. Vs Crossbows, you can do Towers, do a quick wall of 4 houses built at 40%, and buy time. I won’t deny Crossbow is OP in its own way also, mostly because it’s so cheap and the fast Imp thing, but I think Knights on Arabia are also overtuned. The “true Arabia”, as I like to call it, i.e. Runestones, there I feel Knights are reasonable, strong but not overtuned, and it encourages you to mix a secondary unit as the Knight player because you CAN wall them off. On Arabia, it’s impossible, the player with more Stables/first to Castle age wins always regardless of any other factor.

You seem to be a bit too negative overall.

Like, i dont disagree with you on most things your saying, but you frame everything in a way that makes pikemen look worse than they are.

For example the above: If your opponent is going kts, he will probably invest into 2 stable, +1/+1, bloodlines (thats btw also the way you can scout it, its not pure guessing). 10 pikes including the upgrade is 900 res; 1k if you go for melee armor as well, 1.1k with squires.
On the other hand, 3 kts, 2 stables and the needed upgrades are 1.3k res for a lot less units. So yeah, going for spears while aging up is a bit of a gamble but it sure is very cost effective in shutting down knight play.

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It’s actually not so far off. The thing is that Knights can do serious damage even in low numbers and need quite low tech investment to do so. You basically only “need” the armor upgrades (yes, bloodlines is only something if you plan to make 20 + knights.

But I actually don’t like that this thread somewhat assumes that pikes would be a goto unit like archers or knights which they aren’t in most cirumstances. And then pike/siege is always a strong combo.

I agree that the spear line often seems to “miss” their purpose. As people are so good in unit control they just run away from the pikes and hit different, unprotected areas. And this, again, is also possible with only a few knights.
Imo the best way to adress this would be to increase the speed of the spear line slightly. This would make it harder to outmanouver them and therefore more effective in doing their job against especially smaler numbers of knights. This change would barely effect pike or halb/siege.

Counter units are intended to be mainly counters, not the bulk of the army. But ofc they should be designed in a way they are actually capable of realistically doing their “job”. And if players just oumanouver them this isn’t given anymore.

You should be making your own monks to convert knights and heal pikes

That’s the fault of the pikemen player for engaging too soon before they have enough numbers and upgrades.

Plus I’ve just realised you’re the same guy who smurfs, so I feel the need to remind everyone that you’re a smurf every time you make a post.

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I thank you for agreeing with me, but I already feel that Pikes aren’t particularly good at anything but killing cavalry. They already:

a) do badly vs Archer-line (even Skirmishers, not only Archers, get bonus dmg vs them, so the other go-to trash unit counters this trash unit)
b) do badly vs Skirmishers (in big numbers, 200 pop vs 200 pop, you would rather have Pikeman, in small numbers you would rather have Skirms in a Skirms vs Pikeman fight)
c) aren’t particularly great vs Siege (I’d say it’s a neutral matchup here resource-wise)

Basically Pikeman dies to everything. Meanwhile, Skirms in Imperial Age can actually kill Vills, harass woodlines etc. The 1 purpose Pikeman should have, forcing a transition out of Knight-line, doesn’t seem to be fulfilled, also because of what you wrote. It’s also worth noting that, in the defense of Knight civs, often the Knight civ seems to be so heavily tilted into all-in Knights that making this transition necessary would mean catapulting many Knights civs into trash tier. Let’s take Franks or Lithuanians as an example, Lithuanians have very average Cav Archer (missing Parthian tactics iirc), average Crossbow (no Arbalest), no Siege bonus, so forcing a transition out of Knights would mean a Lithuanians player has to play defensively until mid-Imp. Still, Knight flood, particularly on the super open new Arabia, is extremely tiring to play vs because there is basically no counter, your best bet is probably something like 3 Monasteries and pray you have good micro and RNG (and not everyone is a micro player, particularly from ~1400-1500 players it should not be expected to have great micro whenever you go vs a Knights civ and great micro shouldn’t be the only possible way to victory).

healing pikes isn’t rly a thing because their total HP is so low it’s basically an either “get 1 shotted or live” scenario whenever a Knights vs Pikes fight takes place. There’s a reason why you see pros heal Knights at top level but you NEVER see pros heal Crossbow play. Also there is a thing called micro time in this game, it’s worth to heal Knights because it’s a relatively expensive unit, but healing Pikeman, a low pop-efficiency unit, is generally “not worth the clicks” when you could be clicking something more important like eco or microing military.

You can’t get enough numbers, because there will be a forward, if you wait until you have 30-40 pikes, you also need to face the additional challenge of a forward castle of some unit transition if the Knights play has been going on for 10+ min, so expect Camel Archer, mass Skirms or similar and goodbye Pikeman.

That’s literally their role. They arent supposed to be good vs anything else. They are cheap, cost zero gold and train insanely fast. They are a counter unit, not something meant to be the core of an army, although they complement siege and archers very well.

You’d have to fundamentally rebalance the entire game for pikes to be more then just a cavalry counter


If your opponent can afford mass knight + skirm you can afford more then just pike.