The Pikeman is the most versatile melee unit in Stronghold Kingdoms as it fills both aggressive and defensive roles. They are great at blocking access to your castle’s keep while your archers pick off the attacking force. Pikemen are also excellent at assaults, having the highest armor defense rating against ranged damage of any unit in the game.
Before you can train pikemen you must be rank 11 (Yeoman) or higher and have completed the required research. Each Pikeman requires a peasant, a pike, a suit of Armor, and fifty gold.
Pikeman make a great defensive unit and you should have five placed in your keep at all times. Captains are much stronger but also much more expensive so for everyday situations it makes sense to use the pikeman instead.
It’s also typical to see pikeman employed en masse in front of your keep if a human attacker has destroyed the towers in front of your castle, leaving the keep exposed. Place ~150 pikemen to block off access to the keep and place archers on your outer towers to keep enemy archers from sniping your pikemen. Oil pots and moat placed strategically will increase the effectiveness of this tactic.
Pikemen can also be placed in your sally exits on your castle to make it more resistant to AI pillages and ransacks. Five or so for each exit is usually plenty but make sure you have your outer towers manned with archers or else the enemy archers will easily kill off your pikemen.
Although pikemen are considered a defensive unit, in Stronghold Kingdoms they make the best all around melee unit for attacks as well. This is largely due to their massive health bonus which allows them to last longer under fire then any other unit, the expensive captain being the only exception.
For pillage and ransack attacks, pikemen are you unit of choice, largely due to the time requirement of the attack. The pikeman’s high health will allow him to last longer inside the white line than any other troop.
There has been some debating as to which unit is best for digging up moats, I have concluded that both pikemen and swordsmen have their merits and each can work well given the correct situation.
The rule of thumb I employ is largely based on the number of catapults I used in the attack. If I’m using 100 or so catapults, I tend to favor pikemen to dig the moat. This is because, although fast, once the swordsmen are through the moat, all they can do is stand in the catapult volley getting hit while the catapults take down the towers. Pikes on the other hand dig moats considerably slower. So by the time they get through the moat, chances are that the towers have already been destroyed, allowing the pikemen to bring the fight to the keep.
So here is my rule, if there are 25 or fewer catapults in my attack, I will use swordsmen to clear the moat. If there are over 25 catapults in my attack, then I use pikemen. Of course this is not by any means the be-all end-all approach and I encourage you to experiment and figure out the army composition formula which works best for you.