If you have been following ataaga regularly you would have noticed that we have a dirty little secret. This secret is the Total War Series. Among these is Medieval 2 which is old and has dated graphics, but a title we really, really enjoy even now.
So a crucial aspect of Medieval 2 like other Total War games is its turn based campaign map and its real-time battle mode. In the campaign you build armies, manage your towns and castles along with your economy, diplomacy, governance and spies. In the battle map you fight your opponents and this is where Total War truly shines. I have done numerous battles in Total War Medieval 2 which you can check out on our Youtube channel playlists.
But here, being a long-time Medieval 2 lover I will provide a list of tips and tricks to win battles.
Take the time to know the units each faction fields: Eastern and Arab armies make use of a lot of cavalry archers or javelin armed horsemen. These can be quite pesky because it is hard for your spearmen to charge into them because they are fast. They use their mobility to stay away and shower you with arrows.
Western armies though, like the English and French armies in particular lack cavalry archers. This stems from real life where the western and eastern nations had different fighting styles.
But each faction has a different unit roster in Medieval 2. I would recommend doing a few battles to see what each unit does and how it plays. This isn’t always necessary and you can learn through the campaign but I felt it is helping me get used to the Polish whom I am playing the first time in the campaign.
Each faction has a certain advantage or disadvantage even though I haven’t felt handicapped no matter what faction I have selected. I have played as England at least 7 times, France 3 and Holy Roman Empire and Spain twice. There are some differences but they aren’t so different that you can’t understand how to play as a certain faction after you have played as another.
Certain factions play a little different though and Milan usually lacks cavalry because it does not control castles at the start. But I have played a lot of games where they attacked me anyway. I usually crushed their pavise crossbowmen with a heavy cavalry charge.
Know your army and know your enemy: Before rushing your units into a melee with the enemy it is best to gauge your strengths and weaknesses and which unit you should use to counter an enemies.
Certain units have extra armor-piercing damage. Others, usually spearmen, have good attack against cavalry. Cavalry on the other hand have good attack against archers and can rush into the back or flanks of enemy troops that are held in place with other infantry.
To use these tactics you need to take into account every unit you have, as well as what the enemy has. Then you also need to be aware of their position, as well as their next move. For this I recommend using the pause button regularly. I use it to unveil any hidden surprises my enemy might have in store for me and give orders to my troops considering the changing situation on the battlefield.
In open battles cavalry is King: Cavalry is over-powered in Medieval 2. The cavalry can be used in many ways. As mentioned in the previous point, and in such open battles, the cavalry’s mobility makes them great for circumventing the enemy or getting in behind or on the sides of an already engaged unit of infantry pinned by your own infantry.
Also initially the AI has a self-destructive habit of having their archers charge ahead, leaving their infantry behind. A quick cavalry charge right at the start of the battle can kill a vast number of them. The cavalry can then withdraw quickly to a safe place as soon as the foe’s infantry behind the archers, charges. For this stratagem you will need to be extra careful of enemy cavalry because they can make it up to your cavalry quicker than other troops.
But if you are smart you can ‘encourage’ the enemy cavalry to chase your own cavalry, right into a line of friendly spearmen.
If all goes south, your cavalry can quickly get the hell out of dodge too. They will escape faster than infantry and archers. All this makes cavalry crucial in Medieval 2.
Maintaining infantry and archers in proximity to each other: If you are getting into situations where you quickly lose your archers you are doing something, or possibly everything wrong. Your archers need to be close to your infantry, most likely spearmen if the enemy has cavalry. When charged by infantry they can tactically retreat if skirmish mode is toggled on, but they are not as fast as cavalry. Therefore the best solution is to have some infantry where your archers are. Sometimes, particularly in battles where the enemy has a lot of cavalry it’s even better to have a spear unit or heavy infantry in reserve staying at the back while the rest of your infantry charge into the frontlines.
Sieges are far easier for the defender: This is a crucial hack of Medieval 2. Sieges may be in favor of the defending faction in other Total War games as well, but in Medieval 2 you can beat a very strong army with a very weak army provided you are behind walls.
In these sieges guard the gates and wall-openings with spear infantry (particularly if the enemy has cavalry) and some heavy infantry. Position some of your other infantry troops at the exact point on the wall where the enemy will plant their ladders and siege towers at. Finally plant your archers on the wall too, possibly at a spot where the enemy ladders or siege towers will not reach them. Then let the archers and towers do their job. Use the cavalry to chase fleeing enemies (but they can be added to the melee around the gate too).
You also need to ensure that all the nearby towers are firing when you are being besieged. They are the reason for the enemies overwhelming casualties. For this you will need to have a small section of troops near them though.
Weathering sieges are harder when the enemy has siege artillery. If you are the besieger your first task should be to get rid of all the towers. These towers and archers are especially pesky in sieges. A way I deal with this besieging difficulty is by sending my spies and opening the gates in the campaign map. Siege artillery is also useful because with it you can destroy the towers, which, single-handedly cause of a lot of siege losses.
Artillery is good for breaking walls and effective at killing generals in the open: The game admits it and it is real fun to get rid of the enemy general with your artillery. It’s not a guarantee that it will happen, but a lot of times a lucky shot can kill the enemy general. This in turn disheartens the enemy army and they begin to retreat even before giving you a pitched battle.
Artillery slows the army on the campaign map but is great at taking down large armies, especially if they are in a tight mass. I usually tell my artillery to attack the mid-section unit of their army. Not all barrages hit but even if they miss my intended target, they may hit another enemy unit that is nearby.
Ballista are better at taking down troops and Catapults and Trebuchets, destroy walls. It is also a good idea to make use of gunpowder artillery too when it becomes available.
Beware of the Mongols and Timurids: The east is not a safe place in Medieval 2 (unless you complete your objectives before these two Empires even appear). There will not only be one, but two invasions from that general area. The Mongols and Timurids live up to their name by being brutal and blood-thirsty. They will choose to exterminate your towns and castles if you fail in a siege battle against them.
I have fought the Mongols in a few minor battles but haven’t faced an all-out vicious war with them owing to the fact that I chose Western factions rather than Eastern ones (Both of them come from the east). I changed the tradition recently by choosing Poland. But it is going to be a tough fight with the Mongols, for which I should prepare.
My best advice is to face them from behind your castle walls and hope an army stack with artillery doesn’t attack you.