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"single pikeman vs single spearman" Topic

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Ganesha Games Sponsoring Member of TMP31 Mar 2008 1:48 p.m. PST

Is a single pikeman (think Macedonian) generally superior to a single spearman (think hoplite), all other things being equal? Is the extra length really an advantage, or maybe the spearman can use his shield to push off the pike and close in -- thus meaning that pikes should be considered better weapons only when used en masse?

Steve Hazuka Inactive Member31 Mar 2008 1:51 p.m. PST

If the spearman throws it? Pikes would only be good in a formation of like weapons.

wehrmacht31 Mar 2008 1:55 p.m. PST

Yes. Pikes are longer than spears, so the spearman would get run through before he could jab the pikeman.

And the spearman isn't allowed to throw the spear 'cos that ain't sporting.

Any other questions? ;-)


Honcho Inactive Member31 Mar 2008 2:05 p.m. PST

One on one, probably about equal, if I had to guess, everything else being the same. The pike has reach, but is clumsy. The spearman has the advantage if he gets around the pike, but the pikeman can always just drop it and close with his adversary at that distance.

En-masse pikes are a superior weapon, but frontage is extremely important. I don't recall the name of the battle, but it was one between Romans and Macedonians I think, which demonstrates both the power and weakness of the pike. The Greeks were winning the battle while they were on good ground, and able to maintain the integrity of their formations, however, when the Romans were pushed back into broken ground the formations began to loose integrity. Individual Romans were able to get among the Greeks and wreak absolute havoc with their wicked short-swords at close range, rendering the pikes useless. Chaos ensued and they were able to turn the tables and beat the Macedonians handily.

Aloysius the Gaul Inactive Member31 Mar 2008 2:26 p.m. PST

From re-enacting a single pike is pretty useless – as is a single long spear – in both cases it's way too easy to get past the point by pushing it out of the way.

However perhaps it's different with sharp weapons??!! :0

Ganesha Games Sponsoring Member of TMP31 Mar 2008 2:37 p.m. PST

In my system, I'll be treating pikes as superior to spears only if in close, steady formation, and on level ground. The superior weapon bonus counts only when contact is made, not in the melee.

So basically the pikemen are getting their chance to stab (and keep away) the spearmen when contact is made, but if the spearmen get into contact, the advantage will be lost and actually the spears will be at an advantage.

Same applies, more or less, to a spear vs sword situation.

lugal hdan31 Mar 2008 2:39 p.m. PST

I know *I'd* choose the spear in a single combat. Use it as a quarterstaff to parry the pike head, and while my opponent was trying to bring that heavy pole back around, rush in and stab him.

Like others have said, the pike only works well in a phalanx. Spears work well just about everywhere.

Parzival31 Mar 2008 2:53 p.m. PST

Throw spear and while the pikeman's dodging it, jump on the pike pole and use the leverage to snap it. Then snatch up the pikehead, and charge the goof while he stares at the big, long, heavy, useless pole he now holds.

Okay, might not work in Real Life (TM), but I can see it in an over-the-top action film. evil grin

Personal logo elsyrsyn Supporting Member of TMP31 Mar 2008 3:15 p.m. PST

Unless the pike man is very lucky and gets a disabling wound in with his first attack, he'd better be able to run backwards faster than the spearman can run forward.


Ganesha Games Sponsoring Member of TMP31 Mar 2008 3:24 p.m. PST

well, I have a DBAesque combat system (d6 + combat + situational modifiers vs d6+Combat + situational modifiers, beat to recoil/knockdown, double to kill)

formed pikemen get +1 in the first round of contact (they move slowly so it's unlikely that they are the ones initiating the combat but it's possible)but get a -1 on the following turns.
All is lost if the pikemen aren't steady in their morale and on good going.

Old Digger Inactive Member31 Mar 2008 3:25 p.m. PST

It depends. Is either the spearman or pikeman Chuck Norris?

Aloysius the Gaul Inactive Member31 Mar 2008 3:32 p.m. PST

Any pole weapon used 2-handed is better than the same weapon used 1-handed – the example given was a hoplite vs a Macedonian pikeman – so het spearman is using his spear 1 handed with a large shield – 2 handed isn't an option for him.

What's most likely to happen 1:1 is the spearmen feints around outside eth reach of het pike…sees an opening & rushes in trying to push the pike aside. If he succeeds the pikeman drops his pike and takes to his sword – at thsi point the roles are reversed – the spearman has hte reach, and the pikeman now tried to get past the point of hte spear!

If he does so the spearman has to drop his spear and take to his sword.

(in both cases asssuming backpeddling doesn't work or isn't tried)

So you end up with 2 swordsmen fighting each other!

Jovian1 Inactive Member31 Mar 2008 3:42 p.m. PST

This is a pointless debate unless you are working on a 1-to-1 combat system. If you are discussing mass combat – then the discussion needs to go a different route. Pikes as an individual weapon suck – they are large, unwieldy, and easy to avoid so you can close with the person wielding it. So, as Aloysius says – you end up with two swordsmen going at it – one of them has a shield – so technically an advantage.

Ganesha Games Sponsoring Member of TMP31 Mar 2008 4:03 p.m. PST

yes it is a 1-to-1 combat system but simple enough to handle 50-100 models per side. It's a "large" skirmish ruleset, with Units composed of roughly 10-25 models each.

So in ideal circumstances the pikemen are fighting en masse with a supported small phalanx-liek formation. But in certain circumstances a pikeman ends up separated from his unit, or the guys at his left and at his right recoil or fall, so you get a one on one fight with a spearman… or with a peltast… or whatever…

Aloysius the Gaul Inactive Member31 Mar 2008 4:46 p.m. PST

Alexanders pikemen are recorded as using javelins, and their [pike seem to ahve had a sleeve half way down that might have allowed it to be split at that point so it could be fielded as a shorter weapon.

but those are essentially pre-battle choices.

On a battlefield a pikeman on his own is eitehr going to find a body of pikemen to join, or drop his pike and take out his sword.

and most likely he's never going to be on his own in the first place.

Daffy Doug Inactive Member31 Mar 2008 5:46 p.m. PST

Figure to figure combat allows all kinds of weapon face-offs, and the simplest way is how you're approaching it: let the longer weapon attack first, if it "hits", then the shorter weapon is kept out of reach. As soon as the shorter weapon closes, the longer weapon no longer has a reach advantage. I wouldn't worry too much about having to automatically "go to sword", though. In my limited reenacting experience, I have seem some pretty cagy spear work with the weapon choked up, even right to the spearhead.

And a lot depends on how the shield man uses his shield.

I like the scene at the opening of "Flesh and Blood", where Rutger Hauer uses the hilt of his huge two-hander sword with facility in the cramped, narrow street fight: the sword being extra-long was not a problem

I could see a pikeman, with the room, taking his weapon into "staff mode" if the shorter weapon got past the pike point: lots of parrying and tricky two-handed blows are possible. The butt of a pike, sans its head ("Hauer" having lopped it off already), would still be an effective weapon, a lot better than being unarmed!

Boone Doggle Inactive Member31 Mar 2008 5:53 p.m. PST


A single pikeman is inferior to a single spearman as described earlier.

A single rank of pikemen is also inferior to a single rank of spearmen. Same problem, once you get past the pike heads the pikemen are defenseless till they drop their pikes.

2 ranks, the spears need to fight past 2 lines of pike heads. But I don't think the pikes really come into their own till in 3 or 4 ranks.

Then you need to fight your way through the pike heads while surrounded by pike poles. And the front ranks can afford to drop their pikes for sword and still be protected by rear rank pikes.

More than 4-5 ranks and morale is the main issue.

Aloysius the Gaul Inactive Member31 Mar 2008 6:01 p.m. PST

Yes I've used 7-8 ft weapons at close quarters & you get a lot of leverage with your hands 2-3 feet apart on them – enough to push people over if you try hard enough – and certainly enough to break bones if you get a good hit on an unprotected area.

But that'd be pretty hard to do with a 12-18 foot pike IMO – it'd just be interferring with the ground way too much.

If it broke shorter then perhaps.

Hoplites are recorded as using their butt spikes when their spear breaks before their swords – but that's in close formation and with enemy immediately in your face it's probably easier to keep using the broken weapon that you have in hand.

when the short Spartan sword was ridiculed for being so short King Agis made the famous laconic reply (what else would it be!! :)) was that the Spartans found them long enough to reach their enemies! So swordcraft was not unknown to the Greeks and there is no reason to suppose that it was unknown to the Macedonians.

Remember too that Macedonian pikemen DID have a shield – one strapped to their forearm to leave their left hand free to grasp the pike

ScottWashburn Sponsoring Member of TMP31 Mar 2008 6:10 p.m. PST

A classic Greek Hoplite had MUCH heavier armor than a Macedonian pikeman. A single pikeman would have little chance against the Hoplite

quidveritas Inactive Member31 Mar 2008 7:48 p.m. PST

All things being equal, the spearman has an advantage once he gets inside the pike. There are plenty of historical examples of this. The pike is a very effective weapon when used as part of a formation. They are not effective if the integrity of the formation fails.

If you look at the high point (or maybe last gasp) of pike warfare the Swiss Pikes and German Landschects [sp] fully appreciated the strengths and weaknesses of the pike. They used shorter pole arms to engage folks that attacked the formation on it's flanks.


quidveritas Inactive Member31 Mar 2008 7:49 p.m. PST

Where are you located Palose Gamer?


Aloysius the Gaul Inactive Member31 Mar 2008 8:33 p.m. PST

by classic greek hoplite do you mean one in bronze armour (bell or scale/composite cuirass), linen armour or no armour at all? All seem to ahve existed.

Bronze armour is heavy – the bell cuirasses weer probably not very effective as they were thin bronze and had to have been easily pierced. Bronze scale & linen composite armour was probably better, but the bronze scale would still have been heavy.

by the time of Alexander hoplites and pikemen were probably wearing very similar body armour to each other – being mainly linen cuirass, and of course Alexander in India ordered all the old armour burned and fancy new armour given to the pikemen.

Alex being the richest man in the world the pikemen probably got the heaviest armour worn by greek or hellenistic infantry for several decades in both directions, since it is likely that only officers had worn heavy body armour much after the Peloponesian wars, and metalic armour for later hellenistic infantry seems to have been uncommon.

see link for some discussion about the evolutino of Greek infantry in the 4th century BC including some discussion about armour.

Agesilaus Inactive Member31 Mar 2008 10:26 p.m. PST

The evolution of Ancient Greek warfare was as much socio-economic as it was technological. In the south battles were fought in narrow valleys surrounded by high mountains. Maneuver was not an issue, most battles were frontal assaults. Heavy infantry "Hoplites" prevailed, either equipped at State expense, (like the Spartans, Theban Sacred Band, Argive 1000) or composed of wealthy citizen soldiers who supplied their own panoply.
In the North where the country was vast and open, aristocratic Cavalry prevailed, supported by light peasant infantry. Southern Greeks seldom ventured North without strong alliances with more mobile Greeks who could protect their flanks, and keep their hoplite phalanx from being outflanked. Northerners seldom ventured South because they had nothing to counter the Hoplite shield wall in confined spaces.
According to Snodgrass the inovation of the pikeman probably happened in Thebes, maybe under Epaminondas, while Philip of Macedon was in exile there. Thebes is in between north and South.
The pikemen were a low cost alternative to hoplites, allowing simple peasants to hold the line in the center against Greek citizen hoplites. They were lightly (and cheaply) armoured, but their long pikes allowed them to present a lumbering porcupine phalanx of spearheads, not to defeat the Greek hoplite phalanx, but to hold it at bay long enough for the Northern cavalry to flank the spearmen and deliver the death blow. The Thessalians, Macedonians and other northern Greeks invested their money in Cavalry, but the addition of the peasant pike phalanx made them into a true combined arms army.
Having said all that, a single trained hoplite should have no trouble defeating a single pikeman of equal skill. In formation a skilled hoplite phalanx should eventually prevail over a peasant pike formation if it is not flanked by enemy cavalry or light infantry. Both the pikeman and the hoplite have very limited mobility in formation.
On the other hand Alexander's men, (like the Silver Shields who fought long after his death) reached an incredible level of skill with their style of warfare, and probably could have defeated anyone in formation, but his elite infantry were the Hypaspists, armed more like hoplites.
The highest level of hoplite warfare was probably achieved toward the end of the Peloponnesian War, by men who had been in continuous combat for 30 years. So, I would say a single Spartan Hoplite from 404BCE could probably beat anyone in single combat, but I wouldn't want to tangle with a Macedonian Pikeman on his return home from Asia 80 years later either. It would have been interesting if either Agesilaus or Alexander had fought the Romans, instead of the much inferior Successor Phalanxes.

hurcheon Inactive Member31 Mar 2008 11:27 p.m. PST

Based on reenactment experience, for what that is worth, the spearman should kill the pikeman. He can use the spear to parry and step inside the pike and then the pikeman has to retreat.

Withdrawing the pike isn't as easy as withdrawing the spear which is how a spearman reacts to a swordsman trying the same trick, the weapon is too long, heavy and clumsy

Pike is a mass weapon. The pikeman would be better dropping it and pulling a sword or club

Thurlac Inactive Member02 Apr 2008 2:09 p.m. PST

Hmm, a contrary view here also from reenactment and completely at variance to the "received wisdom".
If it's simple one on one, give me the sarissa every time.


Cos the weight of the thing means that you have great actual difficulty in pushing it out of the way with a simple spear. Compare the weights, guys….a huge difference.

Secondly, you're assuming the pikeman is a numpty who lets the spearman rush him and get inside. With an open field, the pikeman can withdraw and pick the spearman off as he tries to get inside. As long as he's a half competent spearman, he'll be fit enough to walk backwards placing shots, HEAVY shots on the spearman without receiving them in return. If some big West Country thug lands a pike right in the centre of your shield, then you lose forward momentum pretty swiftly. If you try to push past his pike and advance, firstly you find you need to really work hard in pushing this huge lump of wood out of the way and if you try to step forward without knocking it off line, then he'll snooker cue you back to the Stone Age.

I was of a similar opinion in the handiness of the lighter spear until I was taught the error of my ways in a rather brusing lesson a few years ago. In the hands of a competent spearman, a pike is a pefectly effective weapon.

The War Event Inactive Member02 Apr 2008 2:17 p.m. PST

A single pikeman vs a single man with a spear is a dead pikeman, given both know their weaponry.

- Greg

Aloysius the Gaul Inactive Member02 Apr 2008 2:37 p.m. PST

Striking with a weapon while going backwards is realy awkward – you can't move as fast backwards as the enemy can run forwards, and you can't see where you're going.

The weight of the sarrissa is not relevant – it's length works against it because a push at the tip creates a massive moment due to the length. Even with your arms 3 feet apart further down the shaft you're working against maybe a 10 foot lever at the tip – so maybe a 3:1 mechanical advantage.

All this supposes that the pikeman doesn't get a good strike in first of course….but that seems unlikely since pike shoves seem to have been relatively bloodless affairs until teh rout – one English civil war description of how to use a pike describes it as putting the point against your opponent, then carefully pushing – not really "striking" at all. The desired result seems to be to push you opponent over!!

Greg given both know their weapons well the result wil be nothign like that – the pikeman would drop his pike and take to his sword before they got close, at which point the sparman would either drop his shield and take his spear 2 handed, or would drop the spear and take his sword too!!

Aloysius the Gaul Inactive Member02 Apr 2008 2:38 p.m. PST

Oh and if the pikeman sticks teh spearmans shield then the pike is stuck in the shield…the spearman drops his shield …what's the pikeman goign to do then?

Pikes stuck in shields pushing back Romans is well attested.

The War Event Inactive Member02 Apr 2008 3:04 p.m. PST

"Greg given both know their weapons well the result wil be nothign like that the pikeman would drop his pike and take to his sword before they got close, at which point the sparman would either drop his shield and take his spear 2 handed, or would drop the spear and take his sword too!!"

I'm sorry; the post did not indicate that the soldiers in question had other weapons. I agree with you. If either had sword, and the other did not, he holding the spear or pike is a deadman.

Now that I say that, I am not so sure, having done re-enactments. I recall taking shield and short sword vs another many years ago armed with spear. I was quite confident, and was literally lifted off the ground with a thrust to the face mask from his spear.

Perhaps I was too over confident. There are so many variables on this issue, it may be hard to make a concrete statement one way or the other.

- Greg

Aloysius the Gaul Inactive Member02 Apr 2008 3:21 p.m. PST

lol – yes I've been smacked in teh face with an unexpectd thrust too – the spear or pike is not completely useless….but it's fairly easy to defend against a thrust compared to other type of attack…hence my qualification above that it all relies upon the pikeman not getting a good shot in first – he certainly gets the first shot!

But against a good warrior with a shorter weapon he only gets _1_ shot…….

Rich Knapton Inactive Member02 Apr 2008 3:58 p.m. PST

I have to side with Thurlac. From my 16th-century perspective, the pikeman will win every time. The pikeman is simply not going to let the spearman step inside the pike. In the 16th-century, there were two styles of fighting with pikes. There was the Swiss style where the pikeman held the pike in the middle. With the pike evenly balanced he will simply bowl the spearman over.

The Landsknecht pikeman held his pike similar to drawings I've seen of Macedonian pikeman. They held it with 2/3 of the pike in front and 1/3 in the rear. The Landsknecht will simply circle you flicking the pike head at you like a fighter with a jab. And, because he is a professional he can probably do this all day. Also, since the pike is held 2/3 down the pike from the head, his lead hand acts as a fulcrum. A small shift in direction with the rear hand will translate into a lighting fast movement of the head. This means if he catches your spear, the spear is going to break or be knocked out of your hand.

In addition, a man with a spear and shield is simply not going to be able to move fast enough to negate the speed of the pike. If the pikeman can get within the guard of the spear, on the unshielded side, with a flick of a wrist he could slash the spearman's throat, disembowel him, or smash his legs.

If the spearman gets inside of the pike head on the shielded side, because of the leverage he has, the pikeman can arch the pike from the head to the legs of the spearman and slash at his legs and feet.

In addition, the speed of the pike head can be translated vertically. He can thrust at the spearman's head, pull back, and with the flick of his hand, he can thrust at the spearman's feet and legs. He can do this all the while not allowing the spearman to get inside of his pike.

I would not expect that any re-enactor to be able to duplicate these moves. This is not because re-enactors are not dedicated, they are. They simply cannot afford the years of work it would require in order to pull off these kinds of maneuvers. A pikeman was not considered a proficient pikeman until he had trained for at least 3 years.

I have no idea how Macedonian pikemen trained. But, if they trained like the Landsknechts then spearmen didn't have a chance. By the way, in the 16th- and 17th-centuries, pikes were used as dueling weapons.


Aloysius the Gaul Inactive Member02 Apr 2008 4:07 p.m. PST

He cant' do any of it if the spearman pushes the head of his pike aside with a shield.

you're assuming the pikeman is a trained professional, but not allowing that hte spearman may be just as well trained.

Pike-and-shot era pikes were not well known for their slashing heads AFAIK.

the pikeman has little chance of moving around the spearman – whichever tries to do so is on the outside of the circle and so has to move a lot further than the other person who merely has to rotate on the spot.

The head of the pike can certainly move quickly within a limited arc by moving the rear hand (again a matter of the length of the lever), but that's of limited use – if the spearman is inside the tip of hte pke then striking him with the side of it probably isn't going to do him enough damage to stop his attack.

Pikes being duelling weapons is a red herring – that was with set rules and equal equipment on both sides.

Rich Knapton Inactive Member02 Apr 2008 5:24 p.m. PST

"He cant' do any of it if the spearman pushes the head of his pike aside with a shield."

No pikeman is going to leave his pike out there to be pushed aside. He's going to be doing quick jabs. That's how they were trained to fight. The best the shields can hope to do is block those thrust.

"Pike-and-shot era pikes were not well known for their slashing heads AFAIK."

The pike heads were extremely sharp and could be used to make a small slashing movements. They were not slashing weapons such as sword.

"the pikeman has little chance of moving around the spearman whichever tries to do so is on the outside of the circle and so has to move a lot further than the other person who merely has to rotate on the spot."

There is no need for the pikeman to do anything but circle from an inside point. It is the spearman who must move forward to try to get inside the pike.

"… if the spearman is inside the tip of the pike …"

That's my point. The swordsman cannot get inside the pike.

The point with the duel is to show that pikes could be used as an individual weapon. If you go on the Renaissance site you can find several discussion of how pikes were used in combat singularly, man-to-man.


Sane Max Inactive Member03 Apr 2008 5:04 a.m. PST

what are one spearman and one Pikeman doing fighting anyhow?

I know this is a hypothetical, but still my answer would be 'they would both hot-foot it back to their units, and then fight the way they were intended.'


RedRightHand Inactive Member03 Apr 2008 5:28 a.m. PST

Whats better
A single pikeman vs a single spearman with 'Boots of Floating'?

RedRightHand Inactive Member03 Apr 2008 5:30 a.m. PST

But the pikeman has a +2 dragon slaying pike…

Rich Knapton Inactive Member03 Apr 2008 12:29 p.m. PST

I know this is a hypothetical, but still my answer would be 'they would both hot-foot it back to their units, and then fight the way they were intended.' Pat

In the 16th- and 17th-centuries, fighting singularly with a pike was not hypothetical. I have the references to prove it.


RedRightHand Inactive Member03 Apr 2008 12:38 p.m. PST

It is suggested that Phillip equipped his phalanx with pike and adopted very close formations initially, for his infantry as he knew they were inferior man for man to the trained hoplites of the other Greek states. (Greeks always consider Macedonian to be 'Greek' it seems these days…).

However, the question is fairly meaningless as it surely depends on the individuals involved. A hypaspist often employed the pike and I wouldnt fancy an Athenian hoplites' chances against such. Also, a phalangite from Ptolemys' army would have a tough time against a Spartiate. It all depends on the quality of the man holding the stick.

Unless, of course, he has 'Boots of Floating' too.

JJartist03 Apr 2008 11:21 p.m. PST

I would direct this to Diodorus: book 17.100-101

Corrhagus the pikeman with javelin vs. Dioxippus the naked Greek with club.

The Greek wins.


camelspider Inactive Member04 Apr 2008 11:08 a.m. PST

The Landsknecht pikeman held his pike similar to drawings I've seen of Macedonian pikeman. They held it with 2/3 of the pike in front and 1/3 in the rear.

This is not correct. I've pointed out to Rich before that he is probably not correctly interpreting a quote by a French officer from the Italian Wars (Montluc) in making this statement. It's the only evidence Rich offers of this supposed tactic of the Landsknects.

In his memoirs ("Commentaires"), Montluc alleges that he said, in the midst of a battle (Ceresole), that, in a pike fight, the French should not hold their pikes in the back, as the Germans are better in this kind of fight that the French; instead they should hold them in the middle, like the Swiss.

Now, what is "this kind of fight?"

Rich assumes it means "fighting by holding the pike in the back." However, there doesn't seem to be any other evidence that Germans did that, and lots of evidence to the contrary.

Alternately, Montluc could well have meant that "this kind of fight" was simply a pike fight, not a pike fight holding the spear at the back. And no matter how you interpret what Montluc wrote, it's just a statement in some memoirs by a Frenchman -- considered by some historians to have been a fabrication. (Picture him in the middle of a battle giving a little speech to a pike block telling them to change their tactics! It does smell quite fishy.)

Hans Delbruck extensively researched this period using period sources, and says that the Germans fought in the same manner as the Swiss, which makes sense, as the Germans hired Swiss instructors when Maximilian was first setting up the landsknecht corps. Delbruck describes how both sides pushed hard with the pikes -- he does not say that the Swiss pressed with their pikes while the Germans poked at their enemies jousting style.

Delbruck also says that some German commanders periodically argued that their pikemen should fight in the jousting style. They advocated, in tracts published in the 16th century, that the units fight on a wider, more shallow formation and rely on jousting rather than pushing with their pikes. As Delbruck says, their stridency in calling for this is an indication that it was not done, and German pike units continued to fight in very deep formations that used push of pike tactics throughout the 16th century. Query why they would have demanded a change in tactics if the tactic was already in use.

Note also that period illustrations such as Han Holbein's famous illustration of bad war show the chaos of a push of pike, not Germans poking away at a distance. The same push is shown by modern illustrations, such as in Richard's recent Osprey on the Landsknechts.

This IMO has more bearing that a bit of Gascon gossip in his self-serving memoir. grin

As to the question at hand, the spearmen defeats the pikeman, hands down. The spearman has only to deflect the pike using his big shield, and get within the length of the pike, and the pikeman is toast. The spear, smaller and used onehanded in conjunction with the shield, was much more dextrous and capable of fighting close.

When there is a wall of pikes the answer is flipped, of course.

RedRightHand Inactive Member05 Apr 2008 1:32 a.m. PST

You have to bear in mind that Delbruck was a crazy man though…

camelspider Inactive Member08 Apr 2008 9:24 a.m. PST

So was Einstein. grin

Crazy or not, the German military history establishment in Imperial Germany was intensely competitive. Had Delbruck incorrectly cited the German military tracts of the 16th century, or come to questionable conclusions, his foes in military history (and he had his share) would have torn him to pieces.

bilsonius Inactive Member08 Apr 2008 9:47 a.m. PST

The Osprey 'Macedonian Warrior' actually has a color plate of the duel described by Diodorus between a pikeman and a nude with a big knobbly club (stop sniggering at the back there!)

Thurlac Inactive Member08 Apr 2008 11:38 a.m. PST

Although your points are valid, they are valid only inasmuch as they apply to mass combat.

The way you handle a weapon differs wildly when it's just you as opposed to you fighting alongside 100 colleagues.

In a spearwall, you close up, work as a team and protect the guy to your right. If it's just you, you go to a fencing posture with a high guard and engage an opponent frontally.

In this case, a pike is an advantageous weapon because it allows the pikeman to determine the measure of engagement.
Simple physics gives him a great power advantage and, as Rich points out, as long as he's not a wimp he has far greater control over the end of the pike.

The pike IS tiring. Your wrists tend to ache after about five minutes and by ten your shoulder blades are very painful indeed.

However, the spearman still has to get inside and that means he takes the risk of rushing forward, for rush he must. Even if he gets past the point, he can be sure the pikeman will be shortening the measure and if he can re-engage then he can snooker cue the spearman backwards with all of his weight plus the weight of the pike.

camelspider Inactive Member08 Apr 2008 1:06 p.m. PST

Actually as Di Grassi, a renaissance weaponsmaster and author, points out, you don't have to be a "wimp" to have problems controlling the point of the pike, and that after handling the pike for even a short while, any slight movement or unsteadiness makes it difficult, if not impossible, to deliver the blow "where the hand and eye intend."

This would of course have been much more telling in a man to man duel than in a phalanx. The man with a spear is lighter and more nimble than the man with a pike, will tire less quickly, and can move more quickly. He can also better defend himself as he can carry a longer shield and wield it more nimbly. That would more than cancel out the superior length of the pike.

It's beyond dispute that the pikeman would be able to deliver the more powerful blow and from a longer distance, but could he land it?

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