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Bayonets Explained

By Francis Marion

Introduction & Overview

In this article I will share my findings on what has been, to me at least, a mystery for quite some time. I have long wondered if there was any identifiable link between army unit performance in melee and the different bayonet technologies available in Empire: Total War. Because most of the bayonet technology descriptions found in the technology tree do not list any direct, quantifiable upgrades to unit melee statistics, for quite some time I assumed that the different levels of bayonets merely increased battle effectiveness through granting units access to some form of additional animations or combat moves on the battlefield which rendered them more effective. After conducting extensive research, I have found that the bayonet technologies do indeed offer definitive, quantifiable upgrades to unit statistics and battlefield effectiveness. Specifically, I have found that the bayonet technologies directly affect the melee attack, reloading skill, and charge bonus values for bayonet-capable units. These upgrades to unit stats can be viewed directly on the unit card under certain conditions. My findings are listed in more detail below.

The Statistics tab on the unit card lists a units type, name, statistics, and abilities, among other things. If one mouses over the listed melee attack value of a bayonet-capable unit, a series of tooltips will appear stating that researching the bayonet technologies will increase this value. A similar tooltip appears when the charge bonus value is moused over, stating that researching the New Model Bayonet Drill technology will increase the charge bonus value. An example of one of these tooltips is illustrated in the below photo of a Spanish Line Infantry regiment unit card. Take note of the statistics for this regiment pictured below, as I will be referencing these default values for a regiment of Spanish Line Infantry later in the guide as we examine the upgrades that the various bayonet technologies grant.

The Abilities tab on the unit card is where all researched Army techs applicable to a specific unit are listed. These applicable army technologies will be listed next to any other default unit abilities such as “good stamina”, “resistant to morale shocks”, “can hide in woodland”, etc. If one mouses over any of the various abilities listed, a series of tooltips will appear which provide additional information about the effect of each ability. I have found that these tooltips are useful for gauging general effects of those Army technologies which have somewhat vague tech tree descriptions. Direct, quantifiable effects of Army technologies such as the bayonet techs can only be found through observation of the altered melee attack, reloading skill, and charge bonus values listed on the unit card of each unit for which the tech upgrades apply.

Oddly enough, the effects of the various bayonet technologies on unit statistics are not listed on the unit card of an army regiment when the card is viewed on the campaign map. I have found that only on the battle map will the effects of the bayonet technologies be listed on a units’ card. This is important to remember when reading throughout the rest of this guide and when attempting to reproduce my findings in your current campaigns. Whether the unit card is viewed while in the deployment phase before a battle begins, or whether it is viewed after a battle has begun does not matter.

Which units can be equipped with bayonets?

I have exhaustively tested the army roster for all playable nations in Empire and have found that not all ranged army units are capable of using bayonets. Units of any nation which are classified as Artillery, Missile Cavalry, Light Infantry, Skirmisher, Irregular, Armed Citizenry, or Mobs are not capable of using bayonets. This includes Dragoons when dismounted and all Hand Mortar Companies. In addition, all units equipped with melee weapons such as swords, lances, tomahawks, or bows will obviously not be able to use bayonets.

I have found that most standard ranged infantry units are capable of using bayonets. I have outlined these unit types below, along with any noted exceptions.

  • Most ranged units classified as Militia are capable of using bayonets. Examples include all European Militia, Colonial Militia, and Conscripts. Exceptions are the Desert Warrior Militia of the Ottoman Empire and the Armed Peasantry Militia of the Maratha Confederacy.
  • Most ranged units classified as Line Infantry are capable of using bayonets. Examples include all European Line Infantry, Colonial Line Infantry, African Native Infantry, Company Infantry, V.O.C. Infantry, Sepoys, Isarelys, Nizam I Cedit Infantry, and Bargir Infantry. In addition, all nation-specific Line Infantry units, such as the Irish Brigade of Spain or the Regiments Etrangers of France, are also capable of using bayonets. The only units classified as Line Infantry which are unable to use bayonets are the Cossack Infantry of Russia and the Hindu and Sikh Musketeers of the Maratha Confederacy.
  • Almost all units classified as Elite Infantry are capable of using bayonets. Examples include the Royal Ecossais and Mason du Roi of France and the Republican Guard of Sweden. The only exception to this rule is the Beylik Janissary Musketeers of the Ottoman Empire.
  • Almost all units classified as Grenadiers are capable of using bayonets. Examples include all European Grenadier regiments. Exceptions consist of the Beylik Janissary Grenadiers of the Ottoman Empire and Hand Mortar Companies of all nations.

I determined whether units were capable or incapable of using bayonets by visual examination of the units on the battlefield and by noting whether the units listed the various bayonet techs as an ability on their unit cards once the techs were available. Because not all ranged infantry units in Empire are capable of using bayonets, this guide will only apply to those unit types listed above which are capable of utilizing bayonets.

Effects of Bayonets on Unit Statistics Illustrated

I will now examine in detail the upgrades to unit statistics provided by the four bayonet-related technologies within Empire: Total War. Listed in order of availability on the technology tree, these technologies are Plug Bayonet, Ring Bayonet, Socket Bayonet, and the New Model Bayonet Drill.

Plug Bayonet

Above is a screenshot of the Plug Bayonet technology tree description. This description offers a general overview and history of the use of the Plug Bayonet; it also states that this technology enables infantry to fix bayonets in battle. However, you will note that this description does not list any measureable increase to infantry unit effectiveness in battle as a direct result of this technology.

If, after the Plug Bayonet tech is researched, the abilities tab on the unit card of a regiment capable of using bayonets is viewed (while on the battle map), Plug Bayonet will be listed as an ability. Upon hovering the mouse over this ability, a tooltip will appear and state that “Plug bayonets provide melee bonuses, particularly against charging units, but prevent further firing once fixed”. This description implies that the Plug Bayonet increases defense values. I have found this description to be misleading, since defense values do not appear to be upgraded by any of the bayonet technologies. The possibility does exist that regiments equipped with Plug Bayonets are granted some form of non-measurable increase to defense when fending off a charge from another unit, but this is merely conjecture and I have encountered no data to support this theory.

I have, however, found that the Plug Bayonet tech grants a +3 to melee attack for bayonet-equipped regiments when bayonets are actively fixed during battle.

Below is a screenshot of the unit card of a regiment of Spanish Line Infantry which has Plug Bayonets fixed while in battle. Note that since Plug Bayonets have been fixed, the stats of this regiment pertaining to the firing of their muskets are no longer applicable and are listed as zero values. You will also observe that this regiments’ melee attack value has been upgraded from an original base value of 6 to a value of 9. No other unit stats are affected by the Plug Bayonet.

If regiment stats are viewed on the battle map while Plug Bayonets are not fixed, the increased melee attack value will not be reflected, nor will the inability to fire. Fixing Plug Bayonets is an order that can be given to a bayonet-capable regiment during battle similar to guarding a position or firing at will. The downside to fixing Plug Bayonets in battle is that once the order is given, affected regiments will be unable to fire for the duration of the battle. Note that after giving the order to fix Plug Bayonets it takes a regiment about 5 seconds in order to do so, during which they will be vulnerable to charging enemy troops. You’ll want to give your men enough advance notice to fix bayonets or they may be slaughtered by an enemy charge while tinkering with their muskets.

While an addition of 3 points to melee attack may not seem significant in and of itself, you will observe that this is a 50% increase from the base value of 6 for the illustrated regiment of Line Infantry. This means that the melee attack of standard Spanish Line Infantry regiments will be improved by 50% when Plug Bayonets are available and are fixed in battle. Note also that most Militia units in the game start with a melee attack value of only 4. For such Militia units, Plug Bayonets would grant a 75% increase to melee attack effectiveness.

These increases mean that Plug Bayonet is one of the most critical Army techs in the early game, rivaled only by Canister Shot in improving early game army performance. This level of importance of the Plug Bayonet is of course only true if your early game armies consist of bayonet-capable units. Your typical battle strategy will also dictate the degree of importance of the Plug Bayonet. If you seldom order your units into melee, or if your early game armies contain large numbers of artillery and you prefer to use heavy doses of canister in place of infantry bayonet charges, then perhaps the Canister Shot tech will take research priority. However, for any nations which expect to engage high morale, melee-based enemy forces early in the game, such as the Barbary Pirate units and certain Native American Indian units, the Plug Bayonet tech will prove most important. I have found that while melee forces with low levels of inherent morale such as mobs and armed citizenry can often be routed after receiving a volley of canister, melee units with higher morale will reach your battle line and engage your infantry in hand to hand fighting despite losing some of their numbers to your artillery. In these instances, the Plug Bayonet will be crucial, particularly if your forces are outnumbered.

Ring Bayonet

Above is a screenshot of the Ring Bayonet technology tree description. This description again offers a general overview and history of the use of the Ring Bayonet; it also states that Ring Bayonets replace Plug Bayonets. However, you will again note that this description does not list any measureable increase to infantry unit effectiveness in battle as a direct result of this technology.

If, after the Ring Bayonet tech is researched, the abilities tab on the unit card of a regiment capable of using bayonets is viewed (while on the battle map), Ring Bayonet will be listed as an ability. Upon hovering the mouse over this ability, a tooltip will appear and state that “Ring Bayonets grant melee bonuses, particularly against charging units. However, Ring Bayonets cause slower reloading times for bayonet-equipped units”.

I have found that the Ring Bayonet tech does not grant further increases to melee attack, nor does it add to defense values. Instead, Ring Bayonets improve upon Plug Bayonets by enabling a regiment to carry fixed bayonets throughout the course of a battle while still allowing the regiment to fire. This means that all regiments equipped with Ring Bayonets carry the same +3 to melee attack that was provided formerly when Plug Bayonets were fixed in battle. Units equipped with Ring Bayonets then carry that melee attack bonus throughout the duration of a battle without needing to take the time to fix bayonets and without sacrificing all ability to fire. However, Ring Bayonets do reduce reloading skill by a value of -5 for all units so equipped.

Below is a screenshot of the unit card of a regiment of Spanish Line Infantry which has been equipped with Ring Bayonets.

The above photo illustrates that the default value of 25 for reloading skill will be reduced by -5 once Ring Bayonets are implemented. This amounts to a 20% reduction in reloading skill for the above regiment of Line Infantry, a potentially battle-altering development and one that should not be ignored. It is important to note, particularly due to this decrease in reloading skill, that Ring Bayonets cannot be toggled on or off on the battle map like Plug Bayonets; once researched, they become standard equipment for your troops and you have no control over their use on the battlefield. This means that once the Ring Bayonet tech is researched, all bayonet-equipped units will carry a -5 to reloading skill in every enemy engagement until Socket Bayonets are made available.

For nations which have significant holdings in the Americas, where melee combat with the troops of such nations as the American Indians and the Pirates is common, this decrease in reloading skill may well be more than offset by the advantage of being able to use bayonets throughout the course of a battle while retaining the ability to fire. When fighting enemy armies composed of melee-based units, ranged troops such as Line Infantry will often only have time to deliver one volley before the enemy closes to hand-to-hand combat. In such instances reloading skill will play almost no role in the outcome of the battle, making the Ring Bayonet a worthwhile upgrade. However, for nations which will be fighting mainly in Europe, where battles tend to consist largely of fire-fights rather than melee combat, Ring Bayonets may be more of a liability than an asset due to the large decrease in reloading skill that accompanies them. I have found it very important to understand the effects of the Ring Bayonet and to plan my army research and battle tactics accordingly.

Socket Bayonet

Above is a screenshot of the Socket Bayonet technology tree description. This description again offers a general overview and history of the use of the Socket Bayonet; it also states that Socket Bayonets replace Ring Bayonets, that Socket Bayonets enhance national prestige, and that Socket Bayonets allow the construction of a Military Academy. However, you will again note that this description does not list any measureable increase to infantry unit effectiveness in battle as a direct result of this technology.

If, after the Socket Bayonet tech is researched, the abilities tab on the unit card of a regiment capable of using bayonets is viewed (while on the battle map), Socket Bayonet will be listed as an ability. Upon hovering the mouse over this ability, a tooltip will appear and state that “Socket Bayonets grant melee bonuses, particularly against charging units”.

I have found that the Socket Bayonet tech does not grant further increases to melee attack, nor does it add to defense values. Instead, Socket Bayonets improve upon Ring Bayonets by removing the -5 penalty to reloading skill. This means that all regiments equipped with Socket Bayonets carry the same +3 to melee attack that was provided formerly by Plug and Ring Bayonets, but are then able to utilize that melee attack bonus with no penalty to reloading skill.

Below is a screenshot of the unit card of a regiment of Spanish Line Infantry which has been equipped with Socket Bayonets.

Using the above regiment as an example, notice that while the melee attack value remains at 9, the reloading skill value is restored to its original value of 25. This 20% improvement will likely be critical to battle strategy and results at this point in any campaign in which bayonet-equipped units are featured.

This removal of the reload penalty should play an important role in your Army tech research strategy – try to avoid leaving your troops equipped with Ring Bayonets for an extended period of time. I attempt to plan my tech research strategy such that once Ring Bayonet is researched, I can devote the additional time required to research the Socket Bayonet without delaying research on other important technologies in areas such as industry or enlightenment. In my experience, once the Ring Bayonet tech is researched, an absolute priority should be placed upon obtaining the Socket Bayonet tech as soon as possible in order to remove the reloading skill penalty from your bayonet-equipped troops in the field.

New Model Bayonet Drill

Above is a screenshot of the New Model Bayonet Drill technology tree description. This description offers a general overview and history of the use of the Drill, similar to the tech descriptions of the other bayonet technologies. It also states that the Drill enhances national prestige. Oddly, this description differs from the other bayonet tech descriptions in that is gives us a specific, detailed value by which unit stats will be increased as a direct result of this technology; +3 to charge bonus for bayonet-equipped units.

If, after the New Model Bayonet Drill is researched, the abilities tab on the unit card of a regiment capable of using bayonets is viewed (while on the battle map), you will not find the Drill listed as an ability. I am not sure why this is the case, as other Army techs which are considered drills or formational tactics, such as the Square Formation tech, are listed as unit abilities.

The New Model Bayonet Drill tech does not grant further increases to melee attack, nor does it add to defense values. Instead, the Drill adds +3 to the charge bonus value, as stated in the technology description. Note that the Drill does not render obsolete the Socket Bayonet. This means that units are able to utilize the advantages of the Socket Bayonet and the drill in conjunction with one another.

Below is a screenshot of the unit card of a regiment of Spanish Line Infantry which has been trained in the use of the New Model Bayonet Drill.

Using the above regiment as an example, notice that while the melee attack value remains at 9 and the reloading skill value remains at 25, the charge bonus value increases from 9 to 12. This 33% improvement will prove useful when attempting to break an enemy line by bayonet charge or when assaulting breaches in the walls of forts or fortified cities.

Despite the advantages of the Drill, I often choose to somewhat delay its procurement and instead divert my research capabilities temporarily to other lines of Army, Artillery, and Naval research after obtaining Socket Bayonets. I do this because typically I somewhat neglect the other lines of Army-related technology as I work towards obtaining Socket Bayonets. Often, the only other Army techs I have obtained by the time I have researched Socket Bayonets are Canister Shot and Carbines. However, any technology research strategy will of course be influenced by the unique requirements of each campaign. Such requirements include the number of schools available, the research capabilities of research staff, building upgrades required for further research capabilities, and the strengths and weaknesses of enemy nations. I have found that it is almost always a mistake to pursue a rigid, pre-defined research strategy from campaign to campaign. Each campaign is unique, and research strategy should be re-evaluated on a turn-by-turn basis. Flexibility when addressing the research requirements of any nation is just as important to overall campaign success as is a strong economy, a competent set of Ministers, and well-placed armies and navies.

Conclusion

It is not necessary to re-train a unit in order to equip it with the latest bayonet technology available. As soon as a bayonet tech has been researched, it will be listed as an ability under the Abilities tab on the unit card of any unit capable of carrying bayonets.

It is important to reiterate at this point that any of the above stat increases due to bayonet technologies are only visible when a unit card is viewed while on the battle map.

Also, as noted in a previous guide, each chevron of experience achieved by land units will result in improvements of +1 to melee attack and +1 to defense, as well as +2 to accuracy and +2 to reloading skill for ranged units. In addition, the first chevron of experience attained by a land unit increases unit morale by 1; morale is thereafter increased by another 1 for every two additional chevrons earned. You will need to take any improvements to unit stats due to experience into account when verifying my findings on your own.

You will also find that Generals can obtain traits and followers which will grant morale increases or decreases. The net effects of these traits and followers will either add or subtract from the morale value of all units on the battlefield under command of a specific general. You will need to take any traits or followers of commanding generals into account when viewing unit statistics lest you become confused, as I was upon beginning my research on this topic, as to whether the bayonet techs also influence morale.

So ends my analysis and illustration of the effects of the bayonet technologies on Army unit statistics. Charrrge!


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