"It is entirely seemly for a young man killed in battle to lie mangled by the bronze spear. In his death all things appear fair."
— The Iliad, trans Fagles
The backbone of the Byzantine armed forces, Kontaratoi infantry are named as such after the long spears they carry, and, like many Byzantine units, are by far the most powerful infantry force in the early game. Thus, the only way you are bound to break them apart is by concentrated masses of infantrymen or cavalry archers, as Kontaratoi are so hardened, and in large numbers should give enemy archers pause, although horse archers will always find a way to lay waste to carefully arrayed Kontaratoi.
Being an asset against melee cavalry-heavy factions, however, is not the only thing that Kontaratoi are good for. A quick glance at their stats immediately reveals another side to them: as they have long spears, any units that reach the first line of a packed block of Kontaratoi are also within spearing distance of the second line. This allows for in-dept tactics in using Kontaratoi, as while the front line can absorb more damage thanks to their hardened stats, the second line can also support the first line at the same time too.
Plus, the Kontaratoi also have a different cost structure: instead of costing 60 Food and 40 Metal like others, they instead cost 60 Food and 50 Timber, making them substantially cheaper. The only downside for this, though, is that they cannot be upgraded to any other units, and that they also suffer an extremely high ramp in Food. Still if used aggressive early on against other melee infantry types, you are most likely to emerge on top. The question however remains is whether you can maintain the momentum of such victories against other factions so as to achieve final victory and win the game.
- First Strike Capability — Aside from their anti-cavalry capabilities and their being substantially stronger than other Spearmen, Kontaratoi also have a limited ranged attack, allowing units in the second rank of Kontaratoi to engage enemies at melee with the first line of their comrades.
- It Behooves to Beware of Hooves — Despite being stronger than normal Spearmen, Kontaratoi are vulnerable against horse archers.
- Not Eco-Friendly — Kontaratoi do not require metal to be created. On the other hand, they require massive amounts of timber in order to be created.
Even despite coming up against Asian enemies arrayed as horse archers (and Western foes with a penchant for heavy cavalry), the Byzantine empire throughout its lifetime relied heavily on infantry to form the backbone of its armies, a military tradition spanning back from the days of its Roman ancestors. Chief of all Byzantine units was the ubiquitous Skoutatoi (Greek transliteration of Latin scutatus; "shielded or armoured one"). Equally handy with spears as they were with swords, Skoutatoi were trained to function in all manner of roles as infantry are expected to function, and for a while protected the Empire well, until the Turks claimed Eastern Anatolia with the Battle of Manzikert in 1071, reducing the Empire's ability to arm and equip these troops.