Unit Information Game Strategies History

Bas-relief of Assyrian spearmen, armed in hoplite fashion.

The term "hoplite" is a derivation of the Greek word "hoplos/hoplon" meaning  "shield" or "armour", and can be taken to mean "shield bearer" or "armoured man". Although in Rise of Nations the hoplite is clearly based on early Classical Greek warriors, the concept of a "spear-and-shield man" can be found in many cultures. Bas-reliefs and other artefacts excavated from the Middle East have also yielded troops arrayed in similar fashion as those of the Classical Greek era, chiefly being infantry armed with spear and shield and fighting in close formation.

Spearmen were common and were used well until the end of the Second World War by many cultures on earth because the spear itself was an economical yet effective weapon. Compared with axes and clubs which were unwieldly and swords which were too costly and thus the weapons of the middle class and upper crust of society, spears were easy to create (using far less resources than a sword) and very easy and versatile to use, as a ranged weapon to keep melee units at a distance, making spears useful in many situations. With a spear, one can either fight defensively (ie "holding a line at Marathon") or use it in an offensive capability. The only drawback however is that spears leave the user exposed once opponents can evade the spearpoint, and also spears could be heavy, leaving warriors vulnerable to attack from missile weapons ... or another warrior armed with a small yet deadly melee weapon such as a dagger.

Armour and side weapons such as daggers and short swords were used to cover these shortcomings, but they like the spear could encumber as much as they could aid in combat. In some cases, some warriors in some cultures would fight wholly naked even without clothing, armed only with their weapon, a sturdy shield and an occassional helmet. As metallurgical knowhow increased, new derivations of the spear would be seen, including polearms as well as longer and heavier spears called pikes — the weapon of choice for the Greek phalanx.