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Wednesday, 16 December 2009

The Importance of Combined Arms

In Empire Total War, as in historical reality, it is vital to make the most of each element of your

Scissors, represented by the index and middle ...Image via Wikipedia

army in battle - i.e. to co-ordinate the use of infantry, cavalry and artillery as much as possible.

Why is this the case? Well the main reason is that each element has different characteristics and even the strongest units can be defeated if left isolated from adequate support.

What are the different characteristics?


Common strengths are their fire-power, their defensive qualities against frontal attack - even most cavalry suffer if they attack an infantry unit frontally - even if the infantry unit hasn't formed a square.

Weaknesses are their lack of speed - difficult to use them to quickly outflank an enemy, and also they can be picked off by enemy artillery or well-used rifle-armed skirmishers.


Strong in melee in a charge situation and if attacking from flank or rear. The best use of cavalry is either to target artillery if not defended by infantry. However, they tend to die quickly during extended melees and need to withdrawn quickly if their shock effect does not have a rapid impact.

Will suffer in a defensive situation and should be held behind the line in order to keep them out of harm's way until required. A common difference in Empire Total War to earlier periods, is that you might often employ cavalry as wings to your army, this type of deployment is less useful now and can lead to attrition from enemy artillery.


Although average casualties caused by round shot at long-range is not high, if your enemy does not possess decent artillery you have a distinct advantage. Artillery allows you to erode your enemies strength and force him to attack you where you want him to be. At close range, if well protected from quick cavalry charges in flank or rear, artillery can be devastating, with grapeshot defeating most frontal attacks. However, a good position and field defences helps a lot! My advice is to keep units compact and to place each infantry support unit carefully to prevent any enemies getting close enough to melee your artillery.

Combined Arms

It's like a game of paper, scissors, stone. You need all three elements in your army to be able to counter your enemies attacks and to be able to give yourself the best chance of overcoming his defence when you attack.

I'll aim to provide some specific examples in later posts.

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