"These gleaming Pike forests, which bristled fateful in the early sun, disappear again; the far-sounding Street — orators cease, or spout milder. We are to have a civil war; let us have it then."
— Thomas Carlyle, The French Revolution, Ch 4: "Attitude"
With the advent of the pike, it is possible for even barely trained peasants to defeat armoured knights. Although not as powerful as Pike Guards, pike levy, if well-supported, pose a menace to enemy melee cavalry. Also, a low recruitment cost makes it easy to field them in large numbers to overwhelm enemy forces, despite being semi-trained peasantry with little in the way of armour, meaning they are highly vulnerable to flanking melee infantry or ranged units. Worse still would be archers and gunpowder weapons, against which the pike as a weapon leaves a great deal to be desired.
As such, pike levy are best used as an escort force alongside the more expensive but harder-hitting ranged units, which perform well against infantry units. A better use for them would be to entrench them in the field, forming moving walls of pike from behind which ranged units can shoot unhindered. Couple them with militant clergy, and these units can easily overwhelm any offensive force any enemy throws at you. In order to obtain the Pike Levy, Republic must be researched back in the Castle Age.
The Middle Ages was a most dangerous time throughout many civilisations throughout the Old World, with wars breaking out frequently due to rebellion, commercial competition and political and religious upheaval. As a result, it was unsurprising that common peasant folk were often called up to perform military service to fill in a shortfall in manpower in times of war. The small republics and feudal states which made up the Low Countries and northern Italy imposed military training for all citizens, a tradition which has been continued by Switzerland, one of the nations which was descended from part of the territories that once comprised the Duchy of Burgundy. In some cases, these armies often enjoyed massive successes against opponents fielding heavy cavalry, such as at the battles of Courtrai (1302), Laupen (1339), and Stirling Bridge (1297).
- Cheap but surprisingly effective anti-cavalry peasant levy.
- More That Meets The Eye — With their low cost and powerful anti-cavalry attack, pike levy pose a menace to enemy melee cavalry, despite their much more inferior stats.
- I Don't Like To Slay Alone — Consider training siege weapons and ranged infantry to complement your pike levy.