Heaven’s Reference Pages

Short Swordsman

Age: Bronze
Prerequisites: Build Town Center, build Barracks, research Short Sword.
Upgrade Cost: 120 food, 50 gold
Research Cost: - - -
Cost: 120 food, 50 gold
Hit Points: 60
Attack: 7
Armor: 1
Piercing Armor: - - -
Range: - - -
Speed: Medium
Upgrade of: - - -
Special: - - -
The Short Swordsman is not an upgrade of the Axeman. It is a separate unit with more hit points, attack strength, and armor than the Axeman. The Short Swordsman can be upgraded to the Broad Swordsman.
Researching Toolworking, Metalworking, and Metallurgy increases attack strength. Leather Armor, Scale Armor, and Chain Mail increase armor. The Bronze Shield and Iron Shield increase piercing armor.
The shortie is basically a better Axeman, with the same pros and cons. He probably isn't a mainstream Bronze Age unit. There are various reasons for that: they aren't really fast and they haven't enough hitpoints to effectively counter Cavalry with their +5 attack against infantry. They die horribly against Hoplites as well. Also they can only be had if you have upgraded to Axeman before - and if you don't need Axemen that's just 100 food extra research cost. Most of the time you'll train these guys to upgrade them to Broadies later. (Greece, Egypt and Yamato are the only civs who don't get that upgrade - and probably shouldn't bother to get shorties.) Roman shorties attack 30 % faster. They're mainly good against Tool Age units. Like the Improved Bowman, this unit should be trained at several Barracks while upgrading to Broad Swordsman. If that upgrade isn't available, they're probably not worth getting.
The short sword represents an evolutionary step in infantry weapons. The spear, mace, and axe were relatively easy to manufacture and use, but somewhat cumbersome in actual hand-to-hand combat. Following the discovery of bronze, it became possible to manufacture short swords that were basically enlarged and strengthened knives. These were much easier to wield in hand-to-hand combat and improved the effectiveness of infantry who carried them. Short swords were carried as a second weapon by spearmen or pikemen, such as the Greek hoplites. The most famous short sword of antiquity was the gladius, or Spanish sword, adopted by the Roman legions from the Spanish allies of Carthage. The gladius was especially effective in the dense legion fighting formations that pressed tightly against their opponents and restricted movement.  

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