"The infantry have for their defence a breast plate of iron, and for offense a lance nine armlengths long, which they call a pike, and a sword at their side, rather round in the point than sharp. This is the ordinary armament of the infantry today, for few have their arms and shins (protected by) armour..."
— Niccoló Machiavelli, The Art of War, Bk II
Unlike the filthy viliens of yesteryears who only know two things — that is, to keep moving forward and the point of a large sharpened stick away from your face — Pikemen are the ultimate heavy infantry unit. Being the strongest spear unit around, they are the hardest-hitting melee infantry, and also come endowed with lots of armour and HP. These are not mere peasants carrying big heavy sticks, but men worthy of the highest respect in war.
The long reach of their pikes means that Pikemen are fairly adept as they have a small ranged attack, making them ideal for destroying melee cavalry. Additionally, they can also be counted upon to take out isolated groups of ranged units — provided they do catch up to the latter. While they have plenty of hitpoints and nice shiny guardsmen's armour to fit their role, Pikemen are inevitably vulnerable to ranged attacks made by numerous and determined foes, hence they must be guarded themselves by units on whose worth can be counted on to take them out. Like all other heavy infantry, they are fairly costy — perhaps even more. Sword infantry such as Armoured Militia and Espadachines are often useful for complementing them in scraps against enemy infantry, especially archers, while cavalry are a must for chasing off ranged cavalry.
- Early Supremacy — As billmen can be obtained in the pre-Centralisation late game, they are a great boost for those capable of recruiting them, although they will soon be outranged by the costlier but more efficient Pikemen.
- Planning for Obsolescence — Once Centralisation is achieved, Billmen become weaker as a defensive force. This means you should use offensive tactics accompanied by cavalry — cut your enemy down before he can stab you!
The transition into modernity for European warfare was heralded by the resurgence of heavy infantry tactics. Although the concept of pikemen or "long spears" that could be used to out-range and overrun other melee units was known since ancient days, the idea of using infantry armed with long spears was soon forgotten in Europe by the days of Imperial Rome and would not resurface until the Middle Ages.
Mediaeval towns and communities that did not have the resources to field large armies of heavy cavalry discovered that pikes were cheap and could be quite effective with proper training, as evidenced by the defeat of knightly cavalry at Kortrijk in 1302. Eventually, armies of pikes and crossbows (later supplanted by firearms) would dominate Europe from the early Renaissance onwards, leading later to the famed "pike and shot" formations of the next 2 centuries. Similar tactics were also used contemporaneously in Japan, with the usage of long spears or yari which were then supplemented by archery or guns.