"Angry grew the hardened iron,
— Elias Lönröt, Kalevala cycle, trans Crawford
The first tier of the unique Serbian spear line, the Ratniky consist of spearmen with a twist — they may not be stronger than normal Spearmen, but they have a penchant for taking out Dark Age unique land units. This makes them highly lethal against various factions, especially those which rely on melee units, such as Scotland or the Norse, or the cavalry-heavy Magyars and French. They also have another perk in that they are somewhat semi-mercenary, and cost 90 Wealth instead of the customary 60 Food and 40 Metal that is usually required to train them. In addition, they are created slightly faster, making them a highly dangerous unit. Like normal spearmen, however, Ratniky are still weak to archers, if they cannot catch up with them, and can also be faced down with normal spearmen.
Slavs aren't the only fellows who like spears. Hailing from the windswept coastal lands that separate Poland from the Russians, the Balts are hardy and warlike peoples who have yet to join the European republic of Christ. While some like the Teutonic Order and the Holy See view them as an aberration in a Christian Europe, others such as the Norse kingdoms and the Poles however instead see opportunity, and the many feuds the Balts have had between themselves and external powers have even allowed some of them to be recruited as mercenaries, famed for their skill with axes, spears and bows. For their recruiters, it is hard to say what benefits Balt Spearnen can confer on them, given that they are available in an age where their special anti-Dark Age bonus might not be fully utilised unless used against some factions, such as the Welsh, Byzantines or Japanese who continue to use Dark Age units.
- Blunting Their Edge — Ratnici are ideal versus factions heavily reliant on unique melee units of the Dark Age, such as Scotland or the Norse, or the cavalry-heavy Magyars and French.
- Like normal spearmen, however, Ratniky are still weak to archers, if they cannot catch up with them, and can also be faced down with normal spearmen.
- Balt Spearmen: Due to similar environments and proximity to the Slavs, Balt Spearmen share the same attributes with Ratnici and are available for recruitment by the Norse and Poland. However, they may be useful only if fighting factions still using Dark Age infantry.
Dark Age Slavic tribes, living in the forests of eastern Europe and the mountains of the Balkans often relied heavily on infantry tactics, and Slavic warriors often used a variety of weapons — axes, spears and bows were often their preferred arms of choice.