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Light Infantry, a force to be reckoned with.

by Daelon

Part 1: History of Light Infantry, and how it is viewed in Empire, Total War.

Throughout history, light infantry has shown its face on the battlefield in one way or another. Earlier medieval times referred to light infantry as "Skirmishers," and although this is much to be debated, the general idea behind skirmishers was that they were light, deadly, and were usually used in hit & run tactics, which we will discuss later.

Light infantry made its "debut" in the 18th century. Musket & rifle technology allowed for faster reloading, more accurate rifles, and relatively lighter & shorter weapons. Not that the changing of technology is what made light infantry more popular in the 18th century, but it was one of the many contributing factors in the success of the light infantry doctrine.

Empire Total War focuses quite well on the light infantry. Almost every faction has some shape or form of light infantry units, most notably, Austria and Great Britain have some of the best light infantry units in the game. Their range and accuracy can make quick work of any heavy infantry unit, battery emplacement, or cavalry in the distance. I use light infantry in every battle. In fact, I rely almost solely on its functions and base much of my strategy on the light infantry.

Part 2: What is so great about light infantry?

Light infantry is perhaps the most versatile and useful unit in the game. It's range, stamina, accuracy, and firepower can be well matched up to an elite unit for the most part. However, light infantry should never be the bulk of your army. It's great to rely a strategy around light infantry, but when push comes to shove, they shouldn't be in battle for too long.

They have significantly less ammunition then other infantry units do, therefore, they should be used more sparingly in battle. Despite this shortcoming, they trade off short ammo supply for devastating range and accuracy.

*I would like to point out, that there is a distinct difference between militia type light infantry and professional light infantry. An example, British Rifles are professional light infantry, they will outshoot Spanish irregular light infantry.*

Part 3: A trick in a half, how to use light infantry.

The hardest part of using light infantry effectively, is deciding when to use them, and how to use them. Lets keep in mind that typically light infantry have fewer numbers then regulars. In addition to this, remember, they have low ammo supply. With this being said, I will introduce the first tactic of light infantry. "Hit & Run".

The oldest trick in the book. Hit & Run has been a practice in the art of war for hundreds of years prior to the 18th century light infantry. In Empire Total War, I will discuss the technical aspects behind Hit & Run.

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Let us imagine the battlefield. My light infantry is Austrian Jaegers. A smashing range of about 130. My opponents unit, a regiment of Spanish Grenadiers. Shorter range, about 90. This tactic is easy, just takes lots of micro-management.

The Spanish are marching towards our light infantry, as soon as they are in range, give the command to fire a volley onto the grenadiers. Your infantry should be a in row 2 lines thick, this way your infantry can fire over one another creating two volleys in one.

After the first volley has been fired, have them double quick (Run) back a good distance. Enough distance to reload. If they have reloaded before the grenadiers have reentered their range, have them double quick into their range of the grenadiers to fire another volley. Remember, the key to this tactic is to fire & run, you should not sit around to engage in a musket duel.

Rinse & repeat as needed. The beauty of this strategy is that if you add just another unit of light infantry of it, the two units can work in tandem with one another. Before you, the oncoming regiment of infantry will have routed due to the constant barrage of musket/rifle volley's.

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The next tactic, isn't as technical as the previous. It relies more on the range of the light infantry then the agility/speed of it. We have 2 full 20 unit stack armies. Line infantry form the bulk, you have the high ground. Your opponent marches towards your lines with a good pace.

You have two units of light infantry, place one on each side of your army, far enough in the distance so that by the time their lines engage your main line, they will be just barely in range for your light infantry. Once the opponents infantry has engaged your main, you slowly bring your lights into the fight. Get them just into their own range of shooting at the opponents infantry (the full range of 130 or so).

At this distance, have the lights fire one volley every minute or so. Don't just let them sit there pouring lead onto the opponents, they will run out too quickly. Once you notice either your line starting to break, or your opponents, you react with your lights. Say your light begins to break, you pull back both lights behind the point of where your line is beginning to break, if your opponent begins to charge at your line, your light infantry will be there ready to fire a volley when needed.

If your opponents line is beginning to break, run your lights way out on to the far flank and simply wrap around into your opponents back field. The idea behind this is to cut off a route of retreat for your opponents, any enemy routing into the backfield will be shot down by the lights.

However, if there is cavalry any where on the battlefield that is dangerous to your lights, do NOT venture out far with the lights. The lights should always be in a good distance of your main when enemy cavalry is around.

Lights should almost never engage in melee combat, unless its a 'do or die' situation. They typically have low moral, and have poor defense/attack stats.

Light infantry has made me a great online player. My record of 74-2 (2 losses were disconnects due to ETW crashing) was based almost purely around light infantry. If you can master how to use light infantry, you can master the land battles in ETW. Mark my words.

This is all for now for my guide. I hope you enjoyed the read. More to come!

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