Here is a complete units guide of all units you can find (and use) in Rome: Total War. Click on the faction's logo to go to its page. Levy Pikemen? We got'em. Cataphracts? Oh, yeah!
(!)Currently under construction! screenshots coming(!)
please excuse spelling errors.....coffee gives me jittery hands lol. I recommend reading Warfare in the Ancient world by Brian Todd Carey, and a book which I think is called "Warfare in the classical world", with hoplite's face on the front. Alas, I have lost the second one, so can't be more specific :(
The Phalanx, in order to be successful, really had to be use as part of a combined arms force. By itself, it could pulverise most things in front of it, but was (obviously, and as has been said before) vulnerable to the flanks and rear. A group of phalanxes acquired considerable greater flexibility, as the could adopt a number of formations such as wedges, refused flanks, boxes etc, and when the phalangites were well drilled, such as under alexander, the formation of the phalanx itself (the Syntagma) was flexible. This said, it required cavalry to be truly effective - the point of the phalanx wa to act as an "anvil2 for the cavalry's "hammer", which is ALWAYS how Alexander used them (in fact, he used pretty much the same tactic in every battle......screen the left with lights, central phalanx, heavy charge on the right). Once you get into the successor states, cavalry declined in importance, and they tended to rely on phalanxes by themselves, pluse elephants, massively reducing the capabilities of the army, as the phalanx, while formidable, needs support.
The roman maniple, however, was superlatively flexible and versatile, and could comfortable operate against mostly any enemy it came across virtually unsupported, giving it a monstrously wide range of capabilities. If this weren't enough, the roman weapons fit was perfect for cracking open the phalanx. The pilae would be used to disrupt the front of the phalanx, thus allowing the legionary to get in close with his gladius, protected by his tower shield. Thereafter, the phalangite was at a sever disadvantage, since, while skilled with his Sarissa, he was much less capable, and less well armoureed, to come close up with his Xiphos. As such, while a formed phalanx presented a formidable obstacle for anyone, once broken open by the pilae, they were virtually dead men. Had cavalry been invvoled, things would have turned out differently, as that would have enable the greeks, macedonians and successor states to counter the legion by using the phalanx for its original purpose, rather than the primary striking arm of the army.
As an aside, the hellenic way of waging war also put them at a disadvantage against the romans - if a small skirmish was experienced, then burial ceremonies often took place a s a sort of "pep talk", with the bodies open to see. However, when Pyrrhus did this at Cynoscephelae, the phalangites, used to neat puncture wounds from the Xyston and Sarissa, were horrified by the brutal hacking apart of the bodies by the gladius, both in combat, and when the legionaries performed their usual drill of stabbing the corpses of the enemy as they passed over them, makings sure they were dead. As such, the phalanxes went into the battle rather unhappy......
THEREFORE.........Combined arms phalanx system superior to Maniple Legion, Maniple legion massively superior to phalanx. Caesar vs alexander.....now that would be interesting........
For more information about the Phalanx versus infantry debate I would recommend that you read The Art of War by Machiavelli it discusses in great depth and detail benefits of Pike Men (phalanx) and Shield bearers (cohorts) and argues the point that the most effective armies are composed of a combination of the two as GRUPI has suggested.
One of the things that puzzles me every time on these unit guides is the person complaining how bad and useless the Greek generals are and how you should never play them. I have a different theory on this.
The truth: Unless it's a one on one battle, it doesn't matter how good or bad your general is statistics wise. It's how you use him that matters. If you're having a one on one fight with the opposing general, then something is wrong with your strategy. Your general should NEVER fight another general head on and alone, no matter how good he is. For example, while the Macedonian General is quite bad, if you combine him with Macedonian Cavalry, you produce an effective fighting force that is both highly motivated and deadly. However, you may argue that the Greeks have a low statistics general, but no heavy cavalry. For this, you should give your General a unit of Greek cavalry, but only use him to chase down routers and flank the enemy. While most generals are meant to be heavy cavalry, one must learn that each faction's fighting style is different. Back to the Greek example, the player must rely on their hopilites, not their cavarly, to carry the day
On the other hand, the Roman General is one of the best in the game, but even he should have some Legionary or Praetorian cavalry surrounding him.
This is especially true in the campaign mode, as you tend to get a lot of generals units.
In conclusion, I would caution against avoiding a faction because it's general has bad attack or defense. In the end, it's an even match, provided that you use him correctly.
Fleur de Lis, perhaps to you (maybe the game influenced you), the phalanx formation was stronger than the maniple formation (checkerboard formation), but history has said something different. The checkerboard formation was clearly superior. The legionaries found that they COULD get through the wall of spears made by the phalanx, even if it was a frontal attack. However, they had to fight in a loose formation, moving in small cell groups in order to infiltrate and to kill the phalanx spearmen. The phalanx spearmen were only armed with a small dagger and shield (some probably didn't even carry the shield; the spears weighed a lot). No, the phalanx formation was still vulnerable from ranged attacks, contrary to what you might think. In reality, the phalanx spearmen were concentrating on pushing forward, and couldn't always raise their shields to block the arrows.
Another reason why the maniple formation was superior was its flexibility. It took a long time (at least four hours) in order for a group of phalanx spearmen to form up. Once the order was given for the spearmen to attack, it couldn't be taken back (contrary to the game). They could only go forward. The legionaries on the other hand, had an easier time giving out orders and could change tactics readily due to their flexible formation. The phalanx formation also suffered from uneven ground (not shown in game), which could break up (not easily, though the Romans did learn to exploit the weakness should the event present itself) the formation.
Cons: Vulnerable to flanking maneuvers
Vulnerable against armies knowing to set their troops in loose formation
Vulnerable to uneven ground
Vulnerable to ranged attacks
Took a longer time to set up (than the checkerboard formation)
Could only go forward
Checkerboard formation (or Roman Legion):
Cons: Depends on the skill of the commander
GRUPI: I would suggest you get your facts right.
The Romans ABANDONED the "maniple formation" at the Battle of Cannae, making each of their maniples deeper and closer, giving the great majority of the legionaries no room to fight. They WERE a numerically superior force AT the Battle of Cannae. They outnumbered Hannibal's forces 2:1, but Hannibal tricked Varro into falling prey into his seemingly convex formation (making it look easy to penetrate) and turning it into a concave formation once he got the Romans where he wanted them to be (nearly surrounding the Roman forces). Then his returning cavalry, after routing the Roman cavalry (who were lead a distance away on purpose away from the Roman infantry), would come back and mend the opening of the "U, (shape of the concave formation surrounding the Roman forces)" allowing Hannibal to completely surround the Romans.
I believe that both formations are as good as each other.
Using manipular tactics is in many ways a good idea (especially seen as the Romans are the main faction in the game). Maniples are strong, hardy formations but it should be known that THEY ONLY SUCCEED BECAUSE OF THE ROMANS' ELITE TRAINING. If these tactics were used by barbarians for example they would fail, as barbarians are hard to control and have a tendency to charge and break lines. Maniples are all-round strong, against most infantry types they are very powerful and due to their large shields and Testudo formation they are practically invulnerable to ranged attacks. However, like the vast majority of infantry are vulnerable to cavalry. Your best bet is to get them to hold fast and hopefully strength in numbers will hold back the cavalry, at least until your other units can intervene.
Phalanx Hoplites/Pikemen are excellent infantry. Their shields can defend them against ranged attacks and against infantry they kick ass (contrary to popular belief), due to the length of their spears, which mean there is no way a frontal infantry attack can even get near to the soldiers. This means YES, THEY DO BEAT MANIPLES IN CLOSE COMBAT. And of course they completely destroy cavalry unless they are flanked. It is best to keep them in long lines with cavalry round the back and sides to keep off flanking attacks. So long as you have a variety of other units phalanxes are safe. Also phalanxes are perfect in street situations, for there is pretty much no way of outflanking them.
Against maniple legionaries yes, phalanxes win, but only if there is a frontal attack between only phalanxes and maniples. REMEMBER, legionaries are very tough and versatile, so in a battle situation with other units on both sides I sould say, both types of infantry are just as good. It's true Rome used strength in numbers, but the true reason they finished the reign of Hoplites was because they had superior tactics, equipment, and training, and after all the days of Greece were over. Alexander was dead, the last vestiges of his empire swept away with rebellion and political unrest. Rome was new, enterprising and powerful, and it was a combination of these factors, NOT LEGIONARIES, that helped Rome to destroy Greece.
I have to note the best infantry in this game is not Urban Cohorts, it's an army of Spartan Hoplites, Cretean Archers, and Greek Cavalry. Even Roman troops can't break the Spartan lines, even with a cavalry charge to boot. However, I found that if flanked, the Spartan line bravely dissolves (never routs) and it's over. But isn't that true of Urban Cohorts?
GRUPI's ignorance is downright shocking. You really ought to do a little research before you spread misinformation about history.
The Roman Republic DID NOT abandon manipular warfare in favor of the phalanx formation. The exact opposite happened. Manipular formations ARE NOT inflexible when compared with a phalanx; in fact, the opposite is true.
The pinnacle of phalanx warfare came during the reign of Alexander the Great (336-323 BC), when the Macedonian pikemen destroyed the Persian empire and dominated Anatolia and central Asia.
This INFLEXIBLE phalanx formation soon fell out of favor because it required a wide-open, clear battlefield and was vulnerable to ambush and flanking attacks in other terrain.
The Roman maniple (maniple = latin for "handful") allowed for much more complex maneuver on the battlefield because men didn't have to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with pikes locked in order to attack. The early Romans fought in phalanx from about 800 BC to 300 BC, but conflicts with the Samnites on the uneven terrain of central Italy during the 3rd century BC caused them to abandon the inflexibility of the phalanx in favor of manipular war.
This notion that a phalanx is more flexible than a manipular formation is beyond ridiculous; ask Philip V of Macedon, whose hoplites fought in phalanx at the Battle of Cynoscephelae (197 BC) and were UTTERLY DESTROYED by the superior Roman manipular army. The phalanx was abandoned in the Western world after its shortcomings were exposed at Cynoscephelae, and hoplite warfare was tossed into the dustbin of history.
Moral of the story; when posting about history on an internet forum, MAKE SURE YOU ACTUALLY KNOW THE FACTS before misleading people.
GRUPI, for your information the Romans kept their manipular tactices right up to the reforms of Dioclotian. They were so good, they even implemented them at century level (Cycle the firstrow back for a rest every 10 mins, and they'd get 40 mins rest if there were 4 lines). The changes in equipment just made it less distingushed (There were legionaries called triarii, hastati etc, but that was a measure of how long they'd been there, they all had the same equipment) but the units still cycled.
In game this tactic is very useful. I try to replace the hastati with principes, and have two rows of princepes instead, so I fight, then charge my second row of princepes in and bring the first row back. I usually win then by flanking or whatever, but I can keep cycling for ever while the enemy tire out.
BTW, In 80 legionaries beat 120 phalanx pikemen, just put your guys in loose formation, and the phalanx will be PWNED TO DEATH. You clearly are a noob, and get your facts right, the romans never had any phlanx like formations