On Siege Battles

Siege Battles: An Introduction

Welcome to this guide! I'm the Pale Wizard, and I look forward to regaling you all with the knowledge I've acquired from hours of playing, being destroyed, and occasionally bleeding other players dry, in siege battles.

Siege battles are common in the online community, and it is vitally important to know how to handle your troops and cooperate with your team effectively in order to win them.

Disclaimer: I will be focusing on online siege tactics and evaluating certain strategies as such. These tactics will work in the campaign, but may not be as necessary.

Special Thanks: PixelatedApollo

Keep in mind, this guide is a work in progress. :D


In the vanilla version of the game, many of the units suffer from what is lovingly called the Two-Hander Glitch. Units with two handed weapons (Gothic Knights, Varangian Guard, Galloglaich, halberd units, and others) suffer from animations that take about 1 second longer than those of one handed weapon units. This means that in melee after they get a charge off they will spend most of their time blocking enemy attacks rather than attacking... This means that they end up over-costed in the army roster and are significantly outclassed by cheaper units. Don't bring them.*

*This is only a problem in the vanilla version of the game. If playing in the Britannia, Teutonic, Crusader, or Americas expansions of the game (or in many mods) 2-handed weapons have been altered such that their strength reflects their price.

Before The Battle: Army Composition

Some of the most important decisions you will make as a leader you will make before your army reaches the field of battle. Choosing a good faction and, more importantly, knowing what units to bring to the battle will drastically help your team.

What to Bring, What Not to Bring, and WhyHeavy Infantry

The key units to bring to any siege battle, whether attacking or defending, are heavy infantry. If an army does not have copious amounts of heavy, strong infantry, they will likely be destroyed in the siege environment. It is recommended to bring around 8 units of heavy infantry. These units are vital to the battle because they are strong, they do not usually rout quickly, and they are able to overpower all other types of foot units. Also, they can often avoid being killed by archer units (cough cough not crossbows) due to their thick armor and shields.

For western European factions, ideal units for this role are dismounted Feudal Knights and dismounted Chivalric Knights. Moors can bring dismounted Christian guard and Urban Militia (with armor upgrades) to fill this role.


Cavalry can be important in siege battles, though not nearly as important as in pitched battles. It is often advisable to bring at least one cheap unit of cavalry to a siege to be used defensively, or even offensively, by either side. Problems: cavalry have smaller units, cost more, can't use siege equipment, and will quickly die in prolonged melee. You are better off bringing infantry.

Spears and Pikes

Spearmen can be somewhat useful in a siege. They are good for receiving a charge, but not prolonged melee, and they are excellent for taking down any enemy cavalry, but are not well suited for fighting infantry. One or two spear units are recommended, but do not bring many of them, because other infantry worth anything will decimate them.

NOTE: if you have access to pike militia, bring those instead of spears. Spear militia is more expensive and accomplishes the same thing: making cavalry die. Pikes are also just more useful. See below.

Pikemen are only accessible by western European factions, but they are a fantastic unit in a siege. Pikemen can be very useful in various circumstances. Pikes are excellent at blocking streets from advancing troops, and can hold a position for a very long time against far superior infantry. They can also be used to support engaged infantry by poking at enemies on the other side of the battle line from over ten feet away. However, they can be rather tricky to use for new players, and they require practice. Bringing pikes is not necessary in a battle, but if you know how to use them well, bringing a couple units of them, or even half an army if you're weird like me... can be a viable strategy. Pikes do have a weakness, though. Flank them and they will die quicker than most other units. Also, if one pikeman gets caught in close combat he will put away his pike and pull out a sword, which he is terrible at using. This can easily make an entire unit of pikemen put up their pikes and start dying in melee, so be careful when using them.


Archers and Crossbowmen are vital in a siege battle. Whether attacking or defending, an army should have AT LEAST 4 skirmishing units. The most effective way to use skrimishers is to have them facing the enemy with none of your own men or obstacles in their way, allowing them to fire straight into the enemy ranks for better accuracy.

Crossbowmen will be invaluable in a battle for killing off your opponent's armored infantry from afar. Their attacks pierce any armor, so make sure that your crossbows are constantly focused on your opponent's heaviest, hardest-to-kill troops, to get the most out of them. Here's how this works: crossbows generally have higher base damage than archers anyway, but also crossbowmen have a trait that only calculates half of the target's armor stats for increased effectiveness.

Archers with composite bows are often just as effective as crossbows in a siege battle, but in a slightly different way. Archers don't have armor piercing like crossbows, so they are suited to attacking lightly armored opponents. Archers can, on the other hand, use ahistorical flaming arrows. Flaming arrows do a serious number on enemy morale, but they are also less accurate, so avoid firing them around/over your own men, because the morale effect works both ways. Imagine how you'd feel if you were yelling for archer support on the front lines and the archers on the wall above start letting loose... and then some of the guys next to you catch fire. Trust me, you'd want to go home.

Javelins are a much shorter ranged weapon, but Javelineers are pretty accurate, so they can be effective at close range. Javelinmen should be kept out of melee, but placing them immediately behind your own engaged infantry can be effective to support your men in the front lines, though friendly fire is inevitable when doing this.

Naffatun are exclusive to middle eastern factions (excluding Moors), and are an extremely deadly unit when used properly. The unit itself is very small, but its men are armed with pots of flaming naphtha, akin to primitive grenades, each with the power to instantly kill any man on the battlefield by engulfing him in flames. Naffatun are excellent troops to burn up an entire unit or two, but their true value lies in their morale effect. After being exposed to naffatun for no more than a few seconds, most units will rout due to the shock of seeing their comrades burst into flames. The routed units will often come back to the fight if healthy, but the brief rout could give you just enough time to reinforce your position or sally out and cut down the retreating forces. If your naffatun get in melee... just go home. Another issue is they don't risk throwing flaming death if your own men are in the way, so positioning is key when using them.


This section is often dependent on what side you are on. If possible, ALL ATTACKERS should bring at least 1 artillery while defenders should have one or two for their whole team.

Artillery is necessary for the attackers to break down the defenses of their opponents, while the purpose of defenders' artillery should be to disrupt attackers' artillery, decimate troops in choke points and clumps, and to all around make the attackers' lives miserable. What you bring depends on the situation.


Attackers should bring advanced gunpowder artillery (cannons, culverins) to attack fortresses, citadels and large cities.Bring primitive gunpowder artillery (bombards) or trebuchets to weaker stone structures like castles and small cities. For wooden structures, trebuchets or catapults, though catapults have to get a bit closer to towers than you might like.

If you're attacking, you should also bring a ton of siege equipment including ladders, rams, and siege towers. I'll go over various uses of these later, but things to know now: they're free, practically unlimited, and if you forget them or god forbid something happens to your artillery... go home.


Defenders should have artillery as well... it's purposes vary widely. For an anti-infantry weapon that can shoot over your highest walls and snipe important targets, bring a mortar. For destroying siege towers, trebuchets work pretty well, and they have a devastating flaming shot if you're lucky enough to score a hit. Catapults are my personal favorite, having decent accuracy and being able to destroy up to thirty men with a single shot if the enemy is clumped into a chokepoint. Ballistas are also a good choice for sniping infantry and enemy artillery, but only if they've entered your walls.

Siege Equipment

The moment you've been waiting for: the free stuff. Siege equipment can be extremely useful in battles if used correctly, so here's a list of the various types and how you can/should use them.

Battering RamOnly works on gates. In small settlements like the Motte & Bailey or Small Town the wooden palisade walls can be destroyed with rams, and ladders/towers are not necessary. You'll know what to bring beforehand when setting up the battle, as settlements where ladders/towers would not be useful will not show them as an option.

Keep in mind, gates are often well defended with towers, so if you have troops pushing a ram, have them in loose formation until they breach the walls cuz they're going to get shot like you wouldn't believe.

Siege TowerYou're going to see a lot of these. They're big, hulking structures that roll slowly up to your walls and can let out a large number of men very quickly. People seem to like them more than ladders, but each has situational advantages.

Advantages and disadvantages of siege towers:

Defensive barrier for troops behind it, can block hundreds of arrows

Allows massive numbers of troops to breach at the same time

Moves very slowly, troops cannot run with a tower

Easier to set on fire and destroy with projectilesAnother thing people like to do with towers is set them up during deployment to serve as protective walls for their army against missiles and cavalry charges... and it looks pretty cool as well.

LaddersThese aren't used as much because they're not as tanky as towers, but here are the advantages and disadvantages of using ladders:

Troops can advance with ladders very quickly, can run

Troops can scale ladders much faster than running up a bunch of stairs.

Harder to set on fire (which is soooo nice)

Troops get off of ladders slowly, can get cut down by resistance

Troops more vulnerable to missiles while advancing

Basically, whether you want to use ladders or towers is entirely situational. Ladders are best for getting onto lightly defended or vacant walls quickly, while towers are usually better for getting onto heavily defended positions and establishing a strong foothold. I like using ladders to put cheeky flanking units into areas where my opponent isn't paying as much attention.

The Bombardment Phase

Congratulations, everyone's in the battle now and you're getting ready for an ahistorical bloodbath the likes of which only Total War can provide you. You're sitting there deploying when suddenly you realize you hit Enter before you were done. First piece of advice: DON'T DO THAT.

DeploymentThe very first thing attackers should do when entering the deployment phase is remember what they're doing: assaulting a heavily defended set of walls that will be bristling with archers if they mess this up. You, my friends, are seated a few hundred feet away from arrow towers or, if your host was trollin' when s/he set up the siege, ballista or trebuchet towers that can hit you from a range that makes your men in the front lines cry a little bit. Unless you're specifically going to bum rush the walls with your siege equipment, move your army back a ways, like A LOT before you end deployment. Otherwise as soon as the battle starts your men will be getting shot with all manner of unpleasant things that can take their lives. The trick is to set up out of range of their defenses but close enough that your artillery can immediately start bombarding the walls. When in doubt, the farther away the safer you are. You can always close to range when the battle starts. What's harder is getting the heck out of there when the defenders have taken advantage of your dumb decision without losing many valuable men.

Another thing, defenders you should pay attention as well, people inside castles often get the fun idea of sending out a unit of cavalry to destroy objectives in the attacking force, usually artillery or the general. This is why attackers should bring a couple spears or pikes, or set up siege equipment to act as a barrier between charging cavalry and your precious artillery crew.

DEFENDERS, this is for you. Blah blah blah you're getting impatient because the attackers are now taking forever to deploy now that I've told them to move far away from your defenses. Well here's what you need to know to stay alive now that they're blasting away at your walls. The attackers, if they're competent, will immediately start shelling the walls and towers and maybe even the gate if they're weird like that. This is why during your deployment you need to see what they're setting up for. If they're really close to your walls, I encourage you to set up archers to shoot at them as soon as the round starts and get early kills. If they're even slightly out of range, though, you need to keep your men off the dang walls. Once they start taking damage, so will your men sitting atop them. It can be VERY EASY to lose an entire unit of valuable archers to artillery early game because the walls are glitchy and frikking impossible to get off of before they get blasted to smithereens.

Other things defenders should do: aside from NOT SITTING LIKE DUCKS ON THE WALL, you should have men right behind them in safe-ish strategic positions to activate the towers, which will give you a TON of kills ere the battle ends... unless the attackers break those too. Towers are only active as long as at least one of your men is close to them, and you can tell if they're active by the flag that appears atop the tower. If there's no flag, it ain't shooting. Keep them shooting as much as possible because they're accurate and deadly to basically everything. Side note: if the attackers spend all their ammo destroying towers, they might not have enough to make breaches in the wall, or vice versa. It's a tradeoff that you need to be able to recognize and exploit... unless the attackers spammed artillery.

Defenders might also find it useful to place that troll unit of cavalry we mentioned right next to a gate so it can get out there before the attackers have time to adjust, and wreak havoc.

Defenders: by the way, if your soldiers are defending on top of a wall and one of the wall segments next to them is destroyed, keep an eye on them. In this game, if your dudes have no way to get off the walls, they instantly die. That is to say if your archers are on a wall and the wall segments on both sides of them are breached, leaving them with no access to a tower to get down, then all of them will die. Instantly. If your archers are immediately next to a tower, though, then they can just go downstairs if they want. This is mostly a problem on long walls with spaced out towers.

BombardmentThat was all deployment. Now if you've brought artillery you're shooting walls, the defenders are sitting and waiting to see what's left for them to defend, and hopefully if you've listened to me nobody is dead yet. This phase of the battle can last as long as the attackers have ammunition, so be patient. You'll know when this phase ends, because it will involve the attackers charging straight into whatever is left of your defenses and engaging your men.

In the next section we talk in-depth on more strategies.

The Approach

Getting your men to the walls can be is a bad time even on a good day. Some players, however, have thought of rather creative ways to get there without losing too many men.

Strategies discussed in this section are marked as "A" for attacking, "D" for defending, or "B" for both.

A: March of the PeasantsI see that look in your eye. You want to get that siege tower up that slope but you see all those active towers that could just engulf your valuable Latinkon. Well, this is where feudal levies come in handy. See that unit of peasants? Have them push up the siege equipment in loose formation. They'll be fiiiiiine... your Latinkon, I mean. The peasants are royally screwed, but they'll get the job done.

Some players often invest in a unit of peasants for the sole purpose of pushing up siege equipment under heavy resistance. If they're in loose formation, or if you bother giving them padded armor upgrades, they'll hold up long enough to give you a free entryway into the enemy fortifications... just don't ask much more from them afterward. They've served their nation well at this point.

A: Impoverished PincushionAnother use for peasants is to send them forward in loose formation in front of towers or archers in hopes of making the opponent waste his/her ammunition killing them. Regardless of whether the enemy archers bother to shoot the peasants, they will distract the towers, which target the first enemy unit they see. This gives you the opportunity to advance more valuable units toward the defenses without taking arrow fire from the towers, saving your men for the inevitable infantry grind to come.

NOTE: If your artillery units are out of ammunition, the crews will work just as well for this purpose if you don't feel like bringing peasants, and they're a smaller target to hit in addition to their better morale. The crew will die, but they certainly won't break for a while.

DEFENDERS, if your opponent tries to deploy this tactic, turn off "Fire at Will" for local ranged units. This will save your ammunition for more deadly enemy units, but you'll have to micromanage your archers to ensure they are attacking the right people. Don't take the bait and shoot their terrible units. And if you are going to shoot the peasants for some ridiculous reason, don't use flaming missiles on troops in loose formation. It takes longer, they're less accurate, and you're wasting even more ammunition.

D: BluffingIt seems you're lucky enough that the attackers didn't destroy too many towers, but you know you're going to lose the walls quickly when they advance. Well, there's a tactic for this situation known as "bluffing." It's what happens when the defenders leave a few token units near the walls to activate the towers and give the impression that they're going to hold, but in fact they just high tail it out of there once the attacking armies approach. This strategy has its upsides and downsides. If you can keep towers active or archers shooting for long enough, you can get some pretty important kills early game and distract one or more of your opponents for long enough to set up your big defense. Downside: by nature of this tactic, you basically give the enemy your walls, allowing them to use them against you later on.

ATTACKERS: if you suspect the defenders are bluffing, don't send in your elites to clear the area. Send units that aren't crucial to your assault, maybe like those spear units you forgot to not bring. Send a force strong enough to easily defeat any units at the walls if the defenders do engage, but keep your main force out of range until you've secured the premises.

Inside The Walls

Oh my, the walls have been brutalized and there are brightly colored gentlemen with weapons screaming all over the place... We must have made first contact! Welcome to the fight for the walls and beyond.

B: Significance of the WallsDEFENDERS, it's not always a good idea to fight for the walls. Here's an example of when you should run from the walls like grim death: that section where the walls used to be... is now an unending series of gaping holes filled with the dead bodies of your archers who you left on the wall LIKE AN IMBECILE what did I JUST SAY in the last sections!? Anyway, if there are just too many holes for your infantry to defend without risking large numbers of men, nobody will blame you for falling back to the streets of the town/castle/whatever the heck you're defending.

In other circumstances, defending the walls is often beneficial. If your opponent left sections of the wall in tact and there are still working towers (maybe because their trebuchet crew are terrible shots) then holding with even relatively weak infantry can be a good tradeoff. Fighting in close quarters on the walls with tower support can allow Moorish Urban Militia to nearly obliterate an entire unit of chivalric knights, which cost about twice as many florins!

Another advantage to towers for the defenders: attackers cannot activate them, even after having captured the walls. Therefore, the towers are like an extra unit of archers for you and your team. Keep them alive as long as possible and you won't be disappointed in the outcome.

BOTH SHOULD KNOW that on the walls your men have very limited space to maneuver. This is important to know because smaller elite units can work wonders on walls. Think of it like the battle of Thermopylae: the Spartans were outnumbered by a TON, but because of their positioning they did some insane damage to a considerably larger force. There's no way to flank a small unit on the walls without climbing up behind them, so units like Hungarian Battlefield Assassins or Middle Eastern Hashashim will lay waste to people up there... especially with tower support...

And another thing! Walls are tall. They give your men an excellent line of sight on advancing units in formation. This works both ways. If the defenders hold the walls, they can shoot down on the attackers, but if the attackers capture the walls, they can do the same thing to the defenders. An interesting quirk of Medieval II is the crenellation of the walls. While it serves to stop many incoming missiles, it can also stop many if not more outgoing ones before they leave the walls. Crossbows and archers are known to shoot directly into the stone wall in front of them sometimes. This has led to the generally accepted hypothesis that walls are more deadly when those atop them are shooting into the settlement rather than out of it. Ranged units are unobstructed when shooting into the settlement, meaning archers may be even more deadly once the attackers are inside... but defenders, don't let them in, remember!? It's not worth it!

The Capture Zone

The objective of the siege assault game mode is the capture of a specific zone in the center of the fortification. This Capture Zone (CZ) is a rectangular area ringed in the banners of the defending faction.

Things to note about the CZ:

The attackers must get one or more of their own units into the CZ and stay there for one uninterrupted minute to win the game.

If the attackers have units in the CZ the timer will start, even if the defenders' remaining forces outnumber the attackers in the zone.

The defenders' units will always attempt to fall back toward the CZ if they rout due to failed morale.

The defenders' units CANNOT rout or shatter due to failed morale while they are in the CZ. They will always fight to the last.These points have a few interesting implications.

First, the death of the general is more threatening for the attackers than the defenders. if the attackers' general(s) are defeated, their armies are much more likely to falter and rout, while the defenders' units cannot rout as long as they hold the CZ.

Second, if the attackers outnumber the defenders sufficiently, they can shove their way into the CZ with sheer weight of numbers to win the game. As such, keeping a couple of full-strength units in reserve in the CZ is a good option for the defenders to ensure that there are fresh bodies to halt the attackers' advance.

Source: https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=501093631					

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